JILL RICE | OCTOBER 30, 2020 | PROFILES | PHOTOS BY YE RIN MOK
Heidi Baker is the LA based founder and designer of the sustainable clothing line Ozma of California. Her affinity for natural materials and colors are reflected in her warm minimal home and clothing style. Here, we chat about embracing a slower pace, starting her own line, and designing with intention.Hello! First off, tell us a little about yourself and what you’ve been up to lately.
Hi! My name is Heidi. I’m the designer and owner of OZMA, an conscious women’s brand in LA. I’m a Capricorn. I’m Filipina, German, & Irish. I grew up in southern Virginia. Right now I’m working on designing spring, getting ready for our new fall photoshoot and coordinating interviews for our Journal — just like this one :)
“I can’t be present to process our current events and be my best self if I’m not building resilience with a strong foundation.”
My favorite mornings start with either a morning walk with my dog Blue or going to the beach for a surf. Since the quarantine, I’ve been really enjoying moving at a slower pace, which means giving myself more time for the things I love. Now as the city is moving around so much less and I myself am in so much less of a hurry, getting to nature feels so much more accessible. I feel selfish for saying it, but I don’t miss battling the hectic LA traffic or feeling perpetually late.How has your outlook changed during quarantine? Any new insights or perspective shifts?
A packed schedule, feeling super productive .. those things feel very overrated these days. I’m appreciating the joy in quality over quantity. I’m fully enjoying an open calendar and saying YES to just what feels good. I am so much more thankful for everything and everyone I have in my life. I feel much more connected to what I truly need to feel fulfilled and loved and balanced. One big realization is that my quality time alone has become soooo much more precious! I’ve been taking time to give extra love to my body and mind by being active and listening to a lot of dharma talks. I realize that I can’t be present to process our current events and be my best self if I’m not building resilience with a strong foundation. Doing that means big time decompression, and lots and lots of wine.
Duvet Set in SageTell us about your path before creating Ozma. Did you always want to start your own line or did that idea unfold over time?
It definitely unfolded over the course of my life. I sort of circled around design since I was a kid, always thrifting and re-making things, making simple hippie (for lack of a better word) clothes with scraps. I loved it so much that keeping my creative outlet for fun was better than taking it seriously as a potential career, for fear of taking the enjoyment away. As I got older, there was definitely an element of intimidation as well by the incredible creativity of designers that I looked up to. Seeing myself designing elaborate collections never spoke to me nor was something I felt able to do. I guess I didn’t see where I would fit in in the design world. I studied marketing in college, moved to SF, and became a bartender. During that time, I started making simple clothing for fun that sold in a local art gallery in the Mission. I met a woman in my bar who seemed to think I had talent and she (luckily!) gave me a job at Levi’s. That was such an amazing break, a learning experience of a lifetime, and time of professional growth for me. The heritage aspect of Levi’s spoke to me and although not perfect, the company does quite a lot in the realm of environmental and social responsibility. After 7 years at Levi’s and a few design jobs later, I realized that the only way that I could stay in the industry at that point in my life was to do things on my terms. I was so sick of seeing the waste, the overdesign, and the disrespect of other humans in the industry that is so common. I wanted to be proud of my work and design from the heart rather than filling in the boxes of a corporate line sheet. I wanted to make beautiful simple clothing that I wanted to wear, with a good conscience. So, I called a good friend, told her I wanted to try to create a line, and here we are!What about your work continues to inspire you?
The professional and interpersonal growth of my team and myself. I suppose this is a funny answer, but really my biggest struggle in shifting from having just a job to being a company owner is managing my team. It’s not a natural gift of mine, but is incredibly important to me and a forever journey of learning. In the same way that I look to OZMA for professional satisfaction from a values and quality of life standpoint, I want my team to deeply feel that as well. Collaborating on new ideas, pushing into new roles, learning from our mistakes and frustrations, figuring out how to make a tiny but growing company function smoothly, conquering the neverending hurdles of 2020, and feeling like we are all part of a rad thing .. that’s some inspiring stuff.
“I realized that the only way that I could stay in the industry at that point in my life was to do things on my terms.”How do you approach decorating your home? How does that compare to your approach to designing for OZMA?
My home is a mish-mash collection of things I’ve had for ages… thrifted furniture, rugs, kitchenware and random things I love that have a zillion memories around them. All of my ceramics and art are made by friends. It’s on the minimal end of the spectrum; not sparse but calm and warm and friendly I would say. I see purchases for my home in a similar way as I see clothing purchases … I don’t want to bring anything into my home that will feel like garbage in a year. I need to feel a certain quality and timelessness in my belongings, appreciate some unique quality or story in them that will make the piece special to me. I like to wear just a few pieces in rotation A LOT, just the ones that make me feel beautiful, but myself. I think I design OZMA with that kind of sensibility in mind.
We love that you've centered OZMA's practices around mindful consumption and minimizing waste. How do you apply these concepts to your personal life?
I don’t take more than I need.What are you reading / watching / listening to these days?
Reading - On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Watching - old surf movies. Listening - John Prine.
Fill in the blanks:The coolest place I’ve ever woken up in is:
My old yurt in TopangaThe best cup of coffee/tea is at:
HomeA thing about mornings I’ll never get sick of is:
The feeling of a clear head
Duvet Set in Sage