Sean Friesen’s children’s apparel line, Orangeheat, is just as adorable as the name suggests. It’s graphic, fun, colorful, and, most of all, conscious. In our interview, he talks about infusing his line with the energy of his environment in Venice.
Please introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Sean, and I am currently living in Venice, California, with my 6-year-old son, Jett, and my lovely wife, Andrea. We moved to Venice three years ago from Austin, TX, and we have all been thoroughly charmed by the Venetian lifestyle.
What do you make or do?
I started out playing guitar and touring widely with a rock band, and silk screening tees was always in the creative mix. After my son was born, I decided to start a kids apparel line called orangeheat. I have always done graphic/web design and photography, so the business was organically supported from the start by those creative pursuits. I have recently started making greeting cards, which was the original intention for orangeheat, back in the day before Jett was born, when Andrea and I were living in Silver Lake.
Where can we find your creations?
My apparel and greeting cards are available in select retail locations, listed on my site, including Poppy Store in Brentwood, Dragonfly Dulou in Los Feliz, Bazar in Venice, Venokado in Santa Monica, Heartfelt in San Francisco, and Wee in Austin. They are available online at my orangeheat site, abe’s market, and Nimli. I sometimes do flash sales on FAB and other kid-focused sites. Every year, I also participate in the Renegade craft fairs and the Patchwork shows to get the pulse on my line and feel where the rubber hits the road. I had my most successful event to date last month at the Abbot-Kinney Street Festival — Thank You, Los Angeles!
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
Yes, it is my full time job. It’s an exciting experience when you finally feel the wind start to fill your creative sails and when money starts to flow and be less of a constraint. Without the support of my family, especially my wife, Andrea, orangeheat would NOT exist, period. She is a writer, with a talent for making any copy sparkle, a true wordsmith and a great friend and partner in crime.
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
I love to play tennis with friends and family members, go running on the beach, and skateboard around Venice. I also like to take photographs around Los Angeles, and I currently I have two coffee table photography books in the works. I also have started writing and playing music again with some friends.
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
It is both. Riding a creative wave truly feels luxurious! But it is also a necessity. If you are a creative person who’s not creating, eventually it will come out of you in some form or another.
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
I want to expand my line, reach out to more boutiques nationally and internationally, and participate in some tradeshows in 2014. I am not much interested in being in large corporate chains that pay depressed prices and enforce buybacks. My goods are made in the USA, and my onesies are organic cotton. This is important to me and to orangeheat customers.
If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
I love this quote about money: “They are so poor, all they have is money.”
What would be your perfect day off?
A day at the beach in Venice is hard to beat. It is truly a privilege to live so close to the Pacific Ocean, something that is never lost on me or my family. I love all the foreign languages I hear whenever I’m there: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian. It’s also a place where all kinds of Angelenos gather.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Living somewhere with a rich supply of creative energy like Venice makes your job + life a lot easier, because you can tap into the zeitgeist with ease, up-close and first-hand. Make stuff and plow forward and don’t be so hard on yourself. If your products are good, they will shine through the marketplace eventually. You just have to be persistent.
Who are the makers that inspire you?
I am inspired by all the makers and creatives I meet at events, who are willing to put their creative products out there and see what happens. Carpe diem!