Featured Maker: Otto Finn
Operating an independent business is a journey, and no two paths are the same. We welcome you to meet the folks behind some of our favorite businesses as they share their stories, the fuel behind their craft, and the passion that keeps them making.
This month, we are so excited to introduce you to Rona Chang of Otto Finn!
About Otto Finn:
Q: Tell us about how Otto Finn came to be.
A: Otto Finn was started by my husband Ross and I in 2014. It was going to feature modern porcelain lighting and sewn home goods. Our son Otto was a baby at the time and I tinkered with the website while he napped. When Otto started to crawl, he often crawled right out of his pants so we designed pants for him that were better fitting. Otto Finn quickly became a baby and home brand and eventually Ross got a job that took him out of the business and the idea of lighting left as well (Ross is the one with a ceramics background).
In 2018, I co-opened a brick and mortar store in Lawrenceville called Make + Matter with two clothing designers. My two partners Kelly Simpson-Scupelli (of Kelly Lane) and Rebekah Joy (of Flux Bene) urged me to consider making clothes so we could have more inventory in the shop. I had sewn as a kid but my art background is in photography and printmaking. And many of the things the children's clothes we created for Otto Finn earlier in the business were designed by me but made by Ross, who is technically more skilled at sewing than I am. But with Kelly and Rebekah's encouragement and partnering with Hannah Moon at EECM, I was able to bring my ideas to life. Otto Finn now creates mostly adult clothing but will be introducing children's jackets this fall.
Q: What does a typical day or week look like to you?
A: I wake up as early as possible (typically 5-7am) and start working on responding to emails, social media work, newsletters, reading documents, writing, anything that uses up my thinking energy and where quiet time is beneficial. After 7, I start packing lunch and making breakfast for me and the kids. Our youngest, Etta is in pre-k so I'm on her schedule and have about 5 hours to work during the day between pick up and drop off. After drop off, I head to the studio to do some sewing, prepping for production, more emails, or jump on planning meetings on Zoom. Sometimes I work from home to photograph.
In the evenings, when Ross is home, I cook dinner, volunteer at a Duncan Park in Upper Lawrenceville, sit on committee meetings for Lawrenceville United, or take business classes. Then I help put the kids to bed and hope they don't wake me up in the middle of the night.
If I'm lucky, I get some meditating in, walk to and from the studio to get some exercise or we go on a family bike ride. I love being active but find it extremely hard to fit in.
Q: Is there any interesting trivia or a fun fact behind your brand you'd like to share?
A: The Otto part of the name is a family name but Finn is after Finn Juhl, the Finnish furniture designer.
Q: Can you divulge your secret to staying energized and inspired?
A: I'm extremely forgetful now that I get interrupted constantly by my kids. Having them home full time over the last 1.5 years has been a huge stretch for my patience and attention span. But I've been organizing my to-do's with my team on Trello boards which I love. On top of my Google calendar, I am also using a weekly Moleskine calendar to jot everything down in.
Q: What’s your advice for overcoming challenges in the independent biz space? Is there any advice you'd give your younger self starting out?
A: Write a business plan and work backwards with your goals. What are they? Break it down in the ways that you can achieve them.
A: My background and voice. I grew up in Taiwan and NYC, and I definitely bring those parts of me to every conversation I'm in.
A: The kimono-inspired jackets that we are known for are all made with one-of-a-kind vintage blankets. Because of these parameters, our customers often fell in love with jackets not in their size or favorite length. We decided we would make some available as Find Your Match releases. We have monthly releases of blankets and you can pick your favorite one to be made into a jacket of your size (7 size ranges) and length (4 to choose from).
About Rona - and, go!
Q: What’s your go-to coffee and/or tea order?
A: Chai latte.
Q: Markets or Online Shop?
Q: While working/making: Podcasts, Playlists, or Streaming?
Q: Early Bird or Night Owl?
A: Early Bird.
Q: Instagram or TikTok?
Q: Summer Markets or Holiday Markets?
Support Otto Finn:
Where to follow Otto Finn:
- Instagram: @ottofinn
- Website: https://ottofinn.com/
- Radiant Hall Lawrenceville Open Studios on October 23rd, and will be outside for the Lawrenceville Pop Up Market. Everyone is welcome to sign up for a timed slot to view the studios (I have two in the building).
- I am popping up with Safran Everyday at the new PG&H location at Market Square during Thanksgiving weekend (11/27-28).
- Handmade Arcade on December 3rd and 4th at the Convention Center and sharing a booth with Maia Leppo of Safran Everyday.
What else have you been working on?
Enter the giveaway with this link!
Now through Thursday 10/21, enter with this link for one entry. You can enter as many times as you’d like, but will only be added to the Otto Finn and SASHA email lists each once. A winner will be announced on Friday 10/22.
Are you a maker or small business owner interested in being featured in a future maker story? Contact us!