“The key to running a successful store is something I like to refer to as finding ‘the glass flower,’” says Rachel Berks, whose graphic design studio in Los Angeles, Otherwild, doubles as a shop, a community space, and a workshop, and has a satellite space in New York. “My partner’s mother ran a successful gallery in Miami for 30 years, and she always refers to the success she had not only selling paintings and sculpture, but also selling glass flowers, a smaller, more giftable item that everyone wanted. For each business, it’s about finding that special item that your customers want.”
For Berks, that object has taken the form of t-shirts emblazoned with the logo “The Future is Female,” which she and two of her colleagues recently evolved to communicate a more gender-inclusive message, translated in Spanish: “El Futuro es Femeninx.” Over the years, she has sold goods from an expansive network of artists and designers who include, she says, “jewelers, ceramicists, perfumers, cooks, herbalists, quilters, farmers, gardeners, fabricators, musicians, witches, woodworkers, curators, weavers, photographers, dancers, and publishers.”
Berks’s enterprise also comes with a more existential message. “Small-scale production encourages ethical practices within an exploitative, extractive, extreme, and excessive consumer culture,” she says.