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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!

Rona and her son Otto in their OF Norah and Anoushka Jackets
Photo by Caryn Carson.

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.

Etta in her Norah Jacket. Kids Jackets will be available soon. 
Photo courtesy of Rona Chang.
 

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.

Gab in her own Faith Jacket and Augusta Jumpsuit.
Photo by Tara Bennett.
 

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.

An Anoushka Jacket. Photo courtesy of Rona Chang.
 

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.

Gab in a Find Your Match Faith Jacket.  Photo by Tara Bennett.
 

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.

every BODY: ChaRon in an Anoushka Jacket.
Photo courtesy of Rona Chang.
 

Q: What do you feel sets you apart in the independent biz/maker space?

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.

Photo courtesy of Rona Chang.
 

Q: We really admire your Find Your Match program — what’s the story behind it?

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).

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About Rona - and, go!

Q: What’s your go-to coffee and/or tea order?

A: Chai latte.

Q: Markets or Online Shop?

A: I'm partial to the Lawrenceville Pop Up Market because I started it!

Q: While working/making: Podcasts, Playlists, or Streaming?

A: Podcasts.

Q: Early Bird or Night Owl?

A: Early Bird.

Q: Instagram or TikTok?

A: Instagram.

Q: Summer Markets or Holiday Markets?

A: I love shopping and being in Handmade Arcade.

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Support Otto Finn:

Where to follow Otto Finn:

  • Instagram: @ottofinn
  • Website: https://ottofinn.com/

Upcoming launches/events:

Events:

OOAK Junko Pants will make their debut soon. 
Photo courtesy of Rona Chang.

Launches:

We will be releasing new Find Your Match blankets, jackets, overalls, and pants soon! Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop.

What else have you been working on? 

every BODY: Aadam in a OF x Waxflower Dyed Works Jacket.
Photo courtesy of Rona Chang.
 
I've been working on a photo project called every BODY, a street style photoshoot, with Maia Leppo of Safran Everyday. Passerbys are invited to wear Otto Finn’s signature kimono-inspired jackets, steel and porcelain earrings and necklaces by Safran Everyday and get their photos taken.
 
every BODY: Mischa and Lamont in Anoushka Jackets.
Photo courtesy of Rona Chang.
 
every BODY is an opportunity for us to bring attention to marginalized groups and celebrate diversity within each community. It began as a marketing idea to create images for our brands and it has evolved into a full blown art project. We're currently seeking funding and public opportunities to bring it to more communities.

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GIVEAWAY

 

Enter the giveaway with this link!

One lucky winner will receive the Otto Finn Cowl Neck Warmer of their choice and a pair of SASHA Jollity Earrings in the color of their choice! (total retail value: $77)

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.

Good luck!

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Read the entire Maker Story series here.

Are you a maker or small business owner interested in being featured in a future maker story? Contact us!