Alicia Engman moved her company, Hammers & Heels, into American Steel Studios a few months ago. With her came her wonderful dog and a load of inspiration. Hammers & Heels is an interior, furniture, and lighting design company which has been featured on the cover of San Francisco Magazine, Apartment Therapy, and Fab.com. They design and fabricate all of their pieces, meaning you get custom heirloom-quality pieces handmade in the San Francisco Bay Area of locally sourced and up-cycled or reclaimed materials.
Her Tag Line is “Green Design for Everyone. Home goods manufactured locally with environmentally friendly materials and methods.” Watching her talk with clients on the second story indoor patio of her studio space, we couldn’t help but ask her more about what happened inside those wooden walls.
AS : What do you do?
Alicia : I bring jobs back to America and reduce our environmental impact while maintaining a unique design sensibility. In a time when manufacturing has all but left the U.S. and every company carries an iteration of the same boring design I try to not only pay people living wages to do what they love but also infuse the work with a look that can’t be found anywhere else.
AS : Why do you do what you do?
Alicia : I believe the only way to make a change is to do it yourself. When I couldn’t find anything unique made ethically or within a reasonable price point I knew there had to be an answer. After a series of trials and errors I find myself learning it is possible it is just a matter of retraining people to know it exists again.
AS : What brought you to Oakland?
Alicia : Complete and total accident. I moved to this coast after coming here for a few weeks then getting so much work I just stayed. I love Oakland, the amount of skilled people here is incredible.
AS : Why AmSteel?
Alicia : Someone mentioned to me about a year ago I should check it out. It wasn’t until I visited that I actually grasped why he suggested AmSteel. It is just full of brilliant, interesting people.
AS : What’s your favorite part of being here?
Alicia : The people! As I mentioned my goal is to bring jobs to people doing what they love and it seems I am on a good path to do just that.
Alicia has formed collaborative partnerships with other craftspeople and artisans here at American Steel, causing some gorgeous ripples in the pool of possibility.
AS : How has AmSteel helped your business?
Alicia : It is a great resource for skilled and talented people. If you ever have a question about anything it’s quite possible someone here has been doing it for 30 years and would be happy to talk with you about it for hours. It is really fun.
AS : What do you contribute to here?
Alicia : I hope a sense of community and mutual respect. I also look forward to having as many people under the H&H umbrella as are a good fit.
AS : Who is your ideal client?
Alicia : An international restaurant franchise. We have one but I always love working with people who appreciate what we do and want to support it as much as I do.
AS : What would you want to tell other artists trying to break into the field?
Alicia : You are no better or less than anyone else, and that hard work, truly hard work, is the only way to make it. If you really love what you do work is fun.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Alicia! Your work is absolutely beautiful. Learn more about Hammers & Heels or follow Alicia on her Blog. Alicia is looking for a paid intern who could transition into an employee after a three month evaluation. This intern would be responsible for websites edits and online listings, packing orders, organizing office and shipping logistics, general office care, and some research. Successful candidates need to be able to take direction from multiple people, have a valid drivers license and a reliable vehicle. To apply: eMail a resume and cover letter to email@example.com