Meet the Maker: Q + A with Emily Ellis Fox from Shop Materia

What you fill your home with matters: what it’s made of, how it’s made, and who made it.
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We're so blessed to have had Emily Ellis Fox of Shop Materia curate our May 2017 Shop the Look product spread. Her design aesthetic goes perfectly with the issue's theme of Creating Wealth while Embracing Rest. We love the bathroom vignette and can easily picture ourselves there! To learn more about Emily's design inspiration, aesthetic, and philosophies. read our interview with her below. To see the Shop the Look spread she curated, click here.

*All photos courtesy of Emily Ellis Fox & Shop Materia.

Emily, Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us! Let's start with the inspiration behind your business. How/why did you start your shop?

A few years ago, I saw the first inklings of Mexico’s now fully blown design boom and became increasingly interested in their emerging designers. At the time, I was working in design and e-commerce in Los Angeles. These new Mexican objects resonated with me and it seemed crazy they weren't locally available.

Here were all these great lines being produced just a border away, yet totally inaccessible. Society as a whole was also moving towards artisanal, handmade goods, beginning to further appreciate processes of making and the stories behind objects. Modern Mexican design checked all the boxes: it was underexposed, unique, well made, full of history and would be at home in West Coast interiors.

How do you invite or create EASE in your business?

Ease is something that has come with time. It’s hard to find at the beginning, when you are just starting out and nervous about everything: finances, how you’ll be received, whether you’ve made the right choice, whether this idea will work, etc. I knew when I began Materia that weathering the ups and downs--finding a sense of equanimity--would be the biggest challenge.

Action, rather than over-thinking, helps. Doing the hard work even when you don’t see the results yet, putting yourself and business out there and speaking with confidence. It’s amazing how this attracts others to you and allows the business to start running on its own, without so much daily effort and pressure from you. When you’re your own boss, the to-do list is never-ending. Being kind to yourself, allowing yourself to take breaks, being mindful and enjoying the process are all gifts of ease and self care.

How is your business sustainable?

Materia is committed to ethical sourcing, responsible supply chains and, whenever possible, the re-purpose and reuse of resources and goods. We believe that what you fill your home with matters. It matters what it’s made of, how it’s made, and who made it. When you buy a product from Materia, it goes on a journey to get to you.

Skilled artisans in Mexico use natural, local materials and sustainable methods, passing these practices from generation to generation. Local designers then form long term relationships with these communities, providing aesthetic partnership, social services and connecting them with a larger audience. Materia’s role is the last piece of the puzzle: We hand select items for the States, promoting and establishing a new market for them here. By generating wider interest in these unique and underexposed pieces, we help play a part in their preservation.

What’s one business practice that brings you Wealth?

Making the choice to leave the digital start-up world was one which risked financial wealth, but rewarded in emotional wealth, health, and happiness. If time is money (and I think it is), then working from home means I have options in how I spend my days now: I can go to an exercise class at eleven in the morning and make up for time missed at work that night. I can take a break to read a book at lunch, or spend an afternoon mid-week at the museum.

These decisions may mean I end up working on Saturday or Sunday, but everything’s flexible and the choice is mine. My schedule and hours are not being dictated by someone else--and that freedom is worth everything, especially as I look ahead to starting a family. The challenge is learning to actually allow yourself those indulgences and create a distinction between work and play,. Committing to a few routine breaks helps and you naturally get better with practice.

You curated our DWELL product spread in this month’s magazine. Can you talk about those specific pieces, and how they contribute to a restful atmosphere?

I love baths, but rarely have a chance to take them, so this photoshoot was personally inspired--the kind of serene moment I’d like to create for myself more often. I chose three items for the space that I view as self-care basics: all natural candles, a vase for foraged greenery and an etched water glass.

Candles are this little luxury in that they immediately change the mood and feel of a space. Doing anything by candlelight just feels automatically more special. They’re a classic bath accessory, but also a tool that can be used anywhere to turn an ordinary experience into a “moment.” Devoid of icky fillers, these all-natural paraffin ones are made by hand according to centuries-old methods, emitting a beautiful golden glow.

Next, greenery is one of the best and easiest ways to make your home and spirit brighter. I chose a simple, lovingly handmade bud vase to prove a little goes a long way. A simple sprig of rosemary from the garden makes a great difference. Greenery brings color, texture, scent and the serenity of the outdoors into a space--it’s a natural and free mood lifter.

Lastly, drinking water is so essential to health and feeling good. As something we do all day every day, why not choose a beautiful glass to enjoy it in? Small choices like this can immediately elevate an experience, even of a mundane task. That’s really the core of my self-care philosophy: creating little moments of peace and joy throughout the course of a day. These glasses are made of recycled glass and are hand-etched in a floral pattern--another nod to the peaceful quality of nature.

How do you make time for self-care? What’s your most indulgent self-care act?

My most indulgent self-care act, on the other hand, is travel and budgeting for one significant trip with my husband per year. It’s a luxury and something I crave--that change of routine, experiencing the new, learning by doing, getting out of our comfort zones. It always resets our minds and relationship. It generates new ideas and spurs creativity.

Usually, though, I indulge in small daily acts of self-care rather than big, elaborate ones. A spa day would be great, but that’s not my reality. Having an afternoon tea break with a good piece of chocolate is more my speed. Following a slow down routine at night. Reading. Taking time out for skincare and breakfast. Unplugging for an afternoon walk with my dog. Listening to music while making dinner. If I can scatter these small moments throughout the day, I’m taking care of myself.

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Emily Fox is founder of Materia, an online shop featuring contemporary Mexican artisanal goods. Her Los Angeles studio highlights products that interpret traditional materials in new ways, re-imagining them for today's lifestyle. Paired with finds from local California designers, Materia's message is there is more which binds than divides us.
Connect with Emily on Instagram @shopmateria.