We had the good fortune of connecting with Shaylee Southerland and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shaylee, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve always had creative outlets outside of my 9-5, first as a freelance designer, then as a wedding photographer. When I first started weaving and exploring other forms of fiber art, I never even thought about it turning into a business. I was taking a break from the side hustle life and wanted to learn this new art form purely as a personal practice. Making things with my hands has always been a form of meditation and relaxation, and the repetitive nature that weaving can bring was a new extension of that for me to explore.

I started sharing what I was working on with a few friends and colleagues, and eventually found a great community of fiber artists to connect with on Instagram. It wasn’t until a few friends asked me to make pieces for them that I even considered selling my work publicly. I eventually connected with the design team at Common Desk when they commissioned a piece for their space in the Trammell Crow Center in Dallas, and have since made custom pieces for three of their other locations. My business has really grown organically through social media and networking, and I’ve been fortunate to make custom art for people across the country! What a crazy thing that still has me in disbelief at times.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m the kind of person who is either all-in, or not at all. There’s not really an in-between. A huge reason I wanted to teach myself to weave in the first place was to make a statement piece of art for my own dining room. I had a 10-foot wall I wanted to fill, and decided the best way to do that was by learning an entirely new art form, build a custom loom and just dive in. I made a few smaller pieces as I was teaching myself techniques and process, but I quickly just dove in to working on my first 8-foot piece. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I had no plan, I drew nothing. I just had a vision in my head and spent 60 hours over the span of a month and a half chipping away at it.

Was it easy? Yes and no. It was easy in the sense that there was no pressure of a client deadline or expectation. I think everyone who makes art in any form has been in the stage of a piece where they question the entire thing, want to tear it apart or start over completely. You hit a mental roadblock and have to step away, maybe for a few days, or maybe for a month. But when you come back to it with a clear mental space and fresh eyes, it eventually falls back into place and you can keep pushing forward.

While this is a singular example of my foray down this path as an artist, lessons learned and best practices are still applicable to anything you do. Things can get hard, they can be frustrating and it can feel like you may never get past the hurdle in front of you. Giving yourself the space and freedom to move through it at a pace that’s right for you will never send you down the wrong path.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a huge homebody, but really enjoy a good dimly lit bar on an early Saturday afternoon. Las Almas Rotas across from Fair Park is one of Dallas’s best, and really, you could spend the entire day there learning about mezcal and enjoying flights. The Skellig on Henderson and Meddlesome Moth in the Design District are also frequent go-to’s. For food, Velvet Taco, Crush Craft (thai) and Top Round are all great, quick service restaurants. Hibiki in Deep Ellum has great sushi and spicy edamame. If you really want to splurge, Town Hearth is a top-level dining experience with great cocktails and an extensive wine list.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to shoutout my dad and give him credit for dedicating the time and energy to teach me how to work with my hands and build things from a young age. When I was little, he would take me to the kids Home Depot workshops on the weekends to learn about woodworking and how to use tools. We built soap box cars for races at the YMCA, went camping and repelling down mountains, worked on old cars — we were always doing something that would eventually teach me how to build things myself, learn what I needed to and problem-solve my way to a solution.

He helped me build the loom I still use today to make all of my statement pieces. He problem-solved with me to develop a product for the fiber arts market that didn’t exist but had great potential to be a staple item for these artists moving forward. I wouldn’t be at the point of expanding production on that product if he hadn’t iterated it a hundred times with me. I’m lucky to have such a great dad!

Website: www.mixmatchmarket.com

Instagram: @mixmatchmarket

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.