WKNDLA / Artist Studio Tour.
by Lily Glass comment


WKNDLA modern art studio tour / sfgirlbybay

I first came across Cindy’s fiber work, WKNDLA, at Consort Design and then again at Kit & Ace in Pasadena. She’s able to design inviting and beautiful pieces on a small, wearable scale while at the same time creating larger, installation pieces. Cindy’s studio sits behind her house in North Hollywood with a table dedicated to the smaller, more assembly work and a large wall reserved for the in-progress fine art pieces. She radiates kindness and I’m so excited to share her wisdom with you below. Be sure to keep up with her process and recent work @wkndla and @cindy.zell.

ombre wall hanging designed by WKNDLA / sfgirlbybay

were you working elsewhere before leaving to start WKNDLA?

I left my job as the Senior Display Coordinator at Anthropologie in Santa Monica, California last March to pursue WKNDLA full time. My four years there were spent learning crazy new skills, traveling around the country prototyping and opening new stores, playing with different mediums, and meeting amazing and talented people along the way. It prepared me for a lot of the problem-solving and customer service skills I would need for my own business later on.

WKNDLA textile designer Cindy Zell in her North Hollywood studio / sfgirlbybay

was your new path motivated by a particular creative need or personal goal?

I love working for myself in my own space, on my own terms. My mom was a single parent who has been running an online store for the last 15 years. It allowed her to work from home and support our family, which really inspired me to become an entrepreneur myself. I can’t help but make things, so it’s definitely been my dream to do it for a living.

handmade tassels on wooden and brass hoops designed by WKNDLA16 / sfgirlbybay

blue and white handmade rope designed by srtist Cindy Zell for WKNDLA15 / sfgirlbybay

did you receive any particular advice that stood out when starting your own business?

People have told me to be kind to myself, both emotionally and physically. Making art is very personal and when the success of a business is based on a piece of art connecting with other people, it’s easy to get discouraged or feel self-doubt. I sometimes catch myself comparing my worth to other people who seem to have it all together, who are making incredible work, and are moving forward so fast that I can’t catch up. I just try to remember that I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life, so maybe it’s okay to slow down a little without burning myself out in the long run.

 dyed rope wall hangings designed by Cindy Zell for WKNDLA / sfgirlbybay

where do you gain fuel that inspires your creative endeavors?

When I get an idea in my mind I have to try to make it come to life! Sometimes it doesn’t amount to anything but other times it becomes the groundwork for a new series. I often work very organically, designs develop and change as I work on them. Every morning I just force myself to walk into the studio and something creative happens.

what was the most unexpected aspect of putting together your business?

It surprised me just how little of my time is spent in the studio making things. I think I had this idea that 90% of my day would be purely creative but almost half of running my business is operational. I spend a ton of time photographing my work, updating my website, packing product for shipment, bookkeeping, responding to emails, being active on social media, and shopping for supplies. It’s frustrating sometimes but I also take pride in being a one-woman business where I can do everything on my own.

WKNDLA dip-dyed tassels displayed on wooden hoops and brass hangers / sfgirlbybay

WKNDLA white crocheted blanket and ombre rope wall decor / sfgirlbybay

what kind of vibe did you have in mind while designing your studio space?

I like my work space to be very clean and organized. It’s not always the case in my studio, but hidden storage has been so helpful in creating a calm environment! I hide all my small tools in a credenza and use linen curtains to cover the many clear plastic storage bins stacked on my shelf. My goal is to have a home for everything.

WKNDLA jewelry and accessories on wood tree display / sfgirlbybay

WKNDLA handmade rope wall decor / sfgirlbybay

WKNDLA owner Cindy Zell in her north hollywood, california studio / sfgirlbybay

what are some of your work tools that you can’t live without?

I use an acetylene torch to solder my brass structures, a miter saw to cut wood, and a drill, which can do almost anything. Writing this out, I realize that before these machines were invented craftspeople used to heat metal in an oven to solder, and a hand saw to manually cut wood. I’m very grateful to live in a time where these things exist with easy access because I use these tools every day.

WKNDLA studio tour / sfgirlbybay

WKNDLA handmade brass rings in studio / sfgirlbybay

twisted WKNDLA05 rope and wood handmade wall decor / sfgirlbybay

green plant on wooded stand inside WKNDLA art studio / sfgirlbybay

WKNDLA art studio in north hollywood, california / sfgirlbybay

what are the top three things someone should consider before changing careers or starting their own business?

  1. I took a 50% pay cut when I quit my job to do this full-time, but I knew that it would only take a couple of years hustling it out on my own to make more than I did before. Paychecks will not be steady, and that’s okay if you plan accordingly. January through March are very tough, and it’s important to take that into account during the holidays to create a financial cushion that will last through the slow months of the new year.

  2. I didn’t realize how hard working for myself would be! I often go days without seeing anyone other than my husband and it can get very lonely. I take extra care to maintain my friendships and seek out other makers for advice and support.

  3. Not every hobby needs to turn into a business. I like making beeswax candles and furniture, but I’m never going to sell them. It’s important to reserve some creative things just for fun because once they become a product you sell, it becomes work, no matter how much of a dream job it is.

neutral WKNDLA wall art made with fibers, brass and wood. / sfgirlbybay

artist Cindy Zell inside her WKNDLA studio / sfgirlbybay

minimalist WKNDLA studio tour / sfgirlbybay

what do you currently have playing on the studio’s turntable?

I love listening to podcasts while I’m working. My favorites are 99% Invisible, the Allusionist, First Time Last Time, The Heart, Memory Palace, Mortified, and Strangers. I also listen to audiobooks in the studio, the most recent ones I finished are Spark Joy by Marie Kondo and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Amy Schumer and Anna Kendrick both have books coming out this summer that I’m looking forward to hearing!

inside WKNDLA owner cindy zell's home and studio in california / sfgirlbybay

•photography by lily glass for sfgirlbybay.

6 responses to “WKNDLA / Artist Studio Tour.”

  1. I love tassels! And this is a nice and serene studio space. I am at the beginning and sometimes also struggle not to compare my worth to other ( creative) people. Thanks, for sharing your work and your honest view on running a business!

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