Small Maker Spotlight: The Gratifying and Empowering Aspects of Being a Small Maker

In the highly politicized and tense environment we live in today, living as a woman of color at any age is no small task. Overcoming systemic hurdles is a part of both our daily lives, as well as a part of pursuing our long term goals and careers. Embracing one’s diversity in their work is not only brave, but also reclaims power and brings fulfillment.

Read our interview below with co-founder of Ardent Goods and expert artisan, Johna Romelt, that emphasizes how her experience as a mixed woman of color growing older in the bay area has influenced her work. She hopes that the work she does can be one step forward towards uniting different communities of age, race and gender towards a more compassionate understanding of one another:


How does being a maker, artist or business owner inspire you? 

Seeing how others find enjoyment or benefit from the products I make inspires me to continue perfecting my craft. Knowing that my products can make an impact on others is invaluable, and I appreciate all the positive feedback I receive in the store.


What is your background (culturally or professionally) and has this been a heavy influence on your work? 

I grew up as a mixed-race Swedish-Chinese girl in San Francisco during the 1950’s and 1960’s, before being mixed-race was as common as it is today. 

I witnessed my parents face explicit discrimination for being in a mixed-race marriage, and I also had to overcome my own hurdles. Though it was no easy task— I learned that if you’re determined enough to never give up, you will find your place in life.

Are there communities that have been instrumental in the development of your work?

I believe that we’ve forgotten to think about the senior community in today’s world. As I grow older, and become closer to being a senior citizen myself, I hope to give back to and honor the older generations so that their lives can be enjoyable and meaningful.


What mediums do you use most? Is there a significant technique you use and is there a history behind your technique?

I mostly enjoy sewing, but all the projects I work on bring joy to my heart. I’d have to say the most rewarding part of the process of making something is physically feeling and seeing the finished product.  

My family was very poor growing up, so I learned how to sew my own clothes as a teenager. I will never forget my first pair of corduroy hip-hugger bell-bottom pants with fringe on the side. Remember those?  I think they are coming back in style!


Do you incorporate ethics of production or sustainability within your work and business? Are there choices you have to make that are affected by these topics? 

As I age, I have become more of a minimalist, and am more conscious of the chemicals and preservatives that are commonly used in body care products. I make an effort to create all natural, non-toxic products to minimize the negative impact on the environment— making a better world for future generations.


To create is to connect, what is the impact that you hope to make with your work? 

All my products are thoughtfully handmade, and I put care into every single detail of anything I make. I hope others find joy when using my products in their everyday lives whether buying it for themselves, or receiving it as a gift.

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Johna makes many products for Curated Mass that can be found in store at Ardent Goods. Her creations range from all natural beauty and body care items to hand-sewn small accessories and home goods.