It goes without saying that Erin Barrett’s home studio is more than a little envy-inducing. With light pouring in from every angle, colorful yarn bundles lining the walls, and beautiful finished wall-hangings adorning every surface, it seems like the perfect spot to spend your days creating. Erin is a self-taught fiber artist that started Sunwoven (named after her daughter, Sunny) based out of her expertly designed home + studio in Charleston, SC.
After taking the plunge into purchasing a 1970s ranch-style fixer-upper with her husband, a space she describes as “leaning towards a mid-century vibe, mixed with a little Wes Anderson charm”, she has carved out a space reserved for her creative endeavors. After becoming a new mom, Erin was unsure of how to continually feed her creative hunger while still being able to spend quality time at home with her children.
Committing herself to weaving was not the solution she initially had in mind. Having stumbled upon several online tutorials in 2014, Erin was immediately taken with it and started ordering looms and supplies online with no real idea what she was in for. For Erin, stepping away from her previous career as a dancer to weave represented a huge risk and step into the unknown. Luckily, it has been one that has unequivocally paid off. Owning her own business allows Erin to do what she loves and spend an unlimited amount of time with her children. Her natural skill, meticulousness, and knack for business has contributed to the steady growth of Sunwoven, now a team of three with the addition of two production assistants, Nina and Abby. Sunwoven started as (and still is) an Etsy shop that grew to include an owned website and multiple partnerships with large retailers, including becoming a core part of the west elm LOCAL assortment in 2016. Using color as her main inspiration, her designs push the boundaries with experimental combinations of textures and bold materials, leading to truly one-of-a-kind pieces. For Erin, weaving is not just a hobby, but a passion, a way to calm her anxiety and restlessness, and grow her confidence. Her studio represents a place she can retreat to to dream up new designs and experiment with new ideas and directions. She aspires to bring “color, happiness, and inspiration” to each home with her wall hangings. We had a chance to chat with Erin about owning her own business and what inspires her to create. Read on below!
Photography by Margaret Wright.
My name is Erin Barrett and I am the owner and creator of Sunwoven. I live in Charleston, SC with my husband Creighton and our two children, Sunny and Bowie. After coming across an online tutorial for weaving in late 2014, I immediately fell in love with the craft and decided to give it a go. It started small with making wall hangings for friends and family, which eventually led to me opening up at Etsy shop in 2015. That’s when things really started to pick up and it went from being just a fun, therapeutic hobby to a full business. I run Sunwoven out of my home studio and am so grateful to do what I love while being at home with my family.
How did you get your start in this business and what inspired you to move in the direction of making home decor?
As I mentioned before, it started as a sort of therapeutic hobby. My daughter was only 3 years old at the time I began weaving and I had been looking for a creative outlet for myself while being able to stay at home with her. I started with opening an Etsy Shop. This was a really great start to learn a little about selling online and gain insight on what designs sold and what people liked. The wall hangings were a hit! So naturally I moved in that directing and have kept up with it ever since. After a few years on Etsy I eventually started my own site which gave me complete creative flexibility and a chance to show more of my work and space.
Your work is unique in its punchy, ultra-saturated colors and playful designs! Where do you draw inspiration for new pieces?
Color is always my number one source of inspiration. I keep my studio space full of color and as much natural light as possible. I find that this brings out the most creative and pleasant side of myself and I think that helps to reflect those feelings into what I create.
Tell us about your studio space.
My studio is located in our Charleston, SC home. Even though the studio is in our home, it feels like a completely separate space from the rest of the house. It’s bright and warm and such a lovely place to work out of every day. My work day typically consists of plenty of visits from my kids, two dogs, and our cat. Helps to keep things lively and interesting.
How do you source the materials you use?
All of the roving I use is sourced from a small shop on Etsy. Everything is 100% merino wool roving. We don’t have any local yarn shops here in Charleston, but I love to stock up on yarn near my home town in Missouri when we go to visit family twice a year.
What direction do you hope Sunwoven will go in the next few years?
Right now we are starting to get more and more large scale commissions and commissions for restaurants and hotels. Large scale work is really challenging, but so rewarding. I hope to reach more people every year and get more exposure with my work and brand and to be challenged with more large scale installations and projects.
What is it like being a small business owner in Charleston? What do you love most about your community there?
Charleston is such a wonderfully inspiring place to live. I have had the honor of meeting and becoming friends with other creatives and artists local to this city the past 10 years I have lived here. The community here is passionate and completely supportive and kind to one another. Advice or help of any kind is never faraway.
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