Sara Annapolen is the founder of Sara Joy, a collection of vibrant resort accessories made with original artwork. Before launching her label and following her dream career, Sara worked in the corporate fashion world.
We chatted with the artist to learn more about her journey to entrepreneurship and how fashion accessories can inspire joy.
Artisan Joy: How did you get started creating your art?
Sara Annapolen: I’ve always been an artist, and my pregnancy and postpartum journeys inspired me to create woven paper art, a type of multi-media project. It became the first print in my collection.
AJ: When did you realize that you could turn your craft into a side business or full-time occupation?
SA: I always dreamt of having a business. I left corporate fashion in 2019 to research launching my own label. I quickly realized that my years of experience in the industry were well-rounded, and I knew enough to just start. With the right branding and messaging, the idea blossomed and came to fruition quickly. I haven’t looked back!
AJ: What inspires you, and how do you apply that inspiration to your work?
SA: I am inspired by the colors in nature and the beach. Sunrises, sunsets and flowers all bring such beauty to this world. I find print inspiration through traveling—whether it’s a vintage rug or Italian mosaic tiles. Photographing different architecture styles can be inspiring and so can small details like dishes at a restaurant in Thailand!
AJ: What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
SA: I am impatient. I’m working on it and creating art with my toddlers helps. We paint every week!
AJ: As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?
SA: This has been a big lesson for me becoming an entrepreneur. I have been practicing the art—no pun intended—of action over perfection. Done is better than perfect, and that’s how I’ve been able to move forward. In terms of art specifically, I have come to realize that I am so much more detail-oriented than my customer—to a fault on my part—and I try to stress less about print details. Nobody notices each brush stroke the way I do!
AJ: What advice would you give to someone interested in putting their art out into the world but feels vulnerable about it?
SA: It’s normal to feel scared. It’s also okay that your work won’t be for everyone. If you are passionate about sharing your art—don’t give up. Someone will love it.
AJ: Has someone ever criticized your artwork? How did you handle it?
SA: Not directly, but I have certainly received feedback that was not exactly a compliment in my book. It’s helpful to remember you won’t be for everyone, and you don’t want to be for everyone You want to be for your customer—your specific consumer. The one who will emotionally react to what you’re doing and come back for more.
AJ: Creatives are often very in tune with what’s happening in the world. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. If this happens to you, how do you cope?
SA: I feel this so hard lately! Focusing on being present and what you can control. Making art always helps. It’s my meditation. It takes me offline and into my own world.
AJ: Is there a cause or non-profit organization that you’re passionate about?
SA: This season Sara Joy is donating a portion of profits to InKind Boxes through our Joy + Justice initiative. I am very passionate about maternal and postpartum mental health having been through my own challenging journey. Creating art helped me deal with postpartum anxiety and build my first collection. InKind Boxes is a non-profit organization that supports new mothers in need. You can learn more at www.inkindboxes.org.
AJ: What brings you joy?
SA: Launching my brand has brought me so much joy. My mission is to bring positivity and happiness into the world. I believe in the mind-body connection and using fashion accessories as a tool to awaken the joy that lives inside you—it can be a powerful tool.
This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.