Name: Rosaline Zhang
Founder of Little Woman Goods
Hometown: All over. Mostly Southern California. I’ve lived in Florida, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and currently work and live in Downtown LA.
Words to live by: Work hard. Work hard. And then work a little harder. There are always variables that are out of your control when it comes to your success as a business or an artist, but the one variable you can always control is the amount of work you put in.
Interview by Zaida Diaz
Tell us about your arts background. When did you first take up illustrating/designing?
I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014 with a BFA in Painting. I was working in fine art mediums in school — oil painting and ceramics. When I left school I had to find a more apartment friendly art practice and moved towards digital illustration!
How do you balance being an art teacher and running your own business?
I teach at a nonprofit in the San Gabriel Valley. It’s a really great way for me to get out of my home office on a regular basis. It’s definitely becoming more difficult to balance both as my business grows, but I think it’s important to have a variety of experiences in life so I’m doing my best to keep up with teaching.
How and when did the idea of starting a feminist brand/shop come to you?
In my last year of college I wrote my senior thesis on the desexualization of the female form and was creating imagery of the female form into “merchandise” in my studio practice. When I graduated it seemed natural to turn that into real merchandise, and thus Little Woman Goods was born.
Did you encounter any hurdles along the way? How did you overcome them?
Of course! When I first started Little Woman Goods I had two other part-time day jobs (as a gallery manager and teaching art) so I was essentially working 3 jobs, 7 days a week and it was pretty miserable. I used that dissatisfaction as fuel to really make Little Woman Goods work.
Your designs and illustrations are all original. Where do you draw inspo from?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. The difficult part isn’t finding it, the difficult part is knowing how to dissect the things you encounter everyday into material you can use. Also I follow some really good artists on Instagram.
Looking back, what would have been really helpful to know before starting Little Woman Goods?
I would have loved to been able to tell myself (and all young artists) not to undervalue my work and to understand how to protect my work. Unfortunately there are still so many people who don’t seem to understand that visual arts are a product that need to be paid for just like a physical shirt you’d buy off the rack at Zara. I know there are many young artists who feel pressured to give their work away for free. I’ve personally had the unfortunate experience of having my artwork stolen, even by other women, and I constantly receive requests for free work or product.
Be unashamed to protect what’s yours.
What aspect of the business side of things was a learning process for you (ex. Marketing, promotion, packaging etc.)?
Almost everything was a learning process for me. I went to art school but studied fine arts so I had to teach myself how to use Photoshop, how to use Illustrator, how to build a website, and so on. I’d never even used Instagram prior to starting my business!
What has been key to helping your business grow?
Persistence. Little Woman Goods is definitely not my first venture, just my first successful one!
What is the best/worst part about being your own boss?
The best part is that I get to maintain complete creative control and can work on the projects that interest me as an artist. And I can spend all day at home with my dog!
The worst part is definitely that the job never leaves me. The internet never shuts off so it’s a 24/7 occupation.
What is the mission behind Little Woman Goods?
I want to use Little Woman Goods to normalize female bodies, ideas about feminism, body positivity, reproductive rights and women’s rights and empower girls and women to feel unashamed in those beliefs.
What plans do you have for the future of Little Woman Goods?
My looooong term plans for Little Woman Goods are to one day be able to open a physical location that serves as both a retail space for Little Woman Goods products, work by other artists, and also as a place for workshops, lectures and other gatherings.