I was so excited when macrame goddess Cindy Bokser made some time to answer the questions we’ve all been wondering!! Not only is her work unique in style, she is the perfect example of community over competition...which is the whole point of these interviews! To share support of fellow boss babes and to spread the word on their greatness.
Give us some background AKA when you decided to become a boss lady….etc.
I’m Cindy Bokser, founder of Niroma Studio. I was born and raised in Michigan but have been living in the NY/NJ area now for almost half my life. I recently moved to a rural area in NJ with my husband and our two little boys. I worked in advertising and public relations for 15 years prior to finding fiber art. It was through my day job that I had the great fortune to visit Marfa, Texas, the art pilgrimage site made popular by the minimalist artist, Donald Judd. I remember feeling so inspired as I snapped photographs while walking amongst Judd's giant concrete box installation outside of the Chinati Foundation, and I suddenly had this overwhelming urge to start making things with my hands. The entire 12-hour trip home, I couldn't shake that feeling, and the following week I found myself looking up how to make a DIY loom online. (Side bar: My mom weaved and did Macrame in the 70s before she had me, so there were relics of her fiber art endeavors all around the house when I was young, but she never taught me how to do either.) A few days later, I finished my first woven wall hanging and got very addicted to it. It was through Instagram's weaving community a couple months later that I rediscovered macrame, and decided to give it a try. As soon as I made my first one, I was hooked! I knew I'd found the perfect craft for me. I still weave on occasion, but macrame has really taken ahold of my heart and hands.
What is a normal day like in the life of Cindy?
A typical day always begins with my kids who wake up before me. The first thing I do is turn on the electric kettle and make a cup of warm lemon water with Himalayan salt. I sip on that while I make the kids breakfast, get them ready, and take them to school. Once I’m back home, I peacefully eat my own breakfast and have some coffee while checking - and posting - on Instagram. I spend the next several hours packing orders, speaking to vendors, and working on creative projects, whether they’re in the realm of fiber art or DIYing my house, When it’s 3:30 pm, which seems to creep up way too quickly, I pick up my kids, help them with homework, play a quick soccer game in the basement, and make dinner. Before I know it, it’s time for their baths and the sometimes 2-hour long process to get them to bed. Once they’re in bed, I’m back on Insta, responding to DM’s, answering emails, or printing orders to send out the following day.
How/why did you decide to turn your page into mostly a feature account?
I turned my page into mostly a feature account for a few reasons. 1) as my fiber supply business has grown, I’ve found less and less time to create my own work. 2) I get tons of questions asking for recommendations on which fibers to use for which projects, and early on in selling fiber, I realized the best way to explain it is to share photos of work that has been made with a particular fiber. 3) as my following has grown, I started to realize I have a modicum of influence at least as far as helping to boost awareness of someone else’s work. And each and every time someone DM’s me thanking me and letting me know the piece sold after i posted is the most fulfilling part of this work for me. Doing my part to help other fiber artists grow their businesses gives me a greater sense of purpose, and nothing really beats that for me.
Do you ever felt the pressure of competition and if so how do you handle it?
Oh yes definitely! I’m human, and probably sensitive to a fault, so I do my best to ignore people or businesses that make me feel competitive or bad about myself and where I am in my journey. A great business person would be studying their moves and turning them into a case study, but I’ve found that often just brings me into a self defeating mindset, so I tend to just put blinders on and use it as motivation to charge forward with innovating more or doing things to make my own business more competitive.
Do you ever catch yourself in a creative rut? What do you do to pull yourself out?
Yes! With the move to a new house and town, I’ve found myself currently in a Macrame rut. It’s not that I don’t have ideas, I just don’t have a lot of motivation to execute them right now. My studio is only half unpacked, and it feels like the last room in the house I want to think about finishing, even though I have grand ideas for it. I still have a desire to create, though, so I recently learned how to crochet, and I think keeping busy on crochet projects is slowly bringing me back to Macrame. I’m starting to feel those juices flowing and I’ve been thinking a lot about ways to combine the two techniques.
Tell us about a highlight in your career. Brag a little...or a lot!
One moment that stands out is over this past summer when the social team from Etsy came to my home studio, and filmed and interviewed me. When I opened my Etsy shop almost three years ago, I used to read about some of their featured shops and would think how cool it would be to be one of them, but never thought it would actually happen. Even though this was only an Instagram feature, it still felt like a huge win!
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
My advice is to keep pushing forward. Be persistent and have grit, but also understand there is a non-creative, marketing heavy component to reaching an audience these days. The beauty in today’s marketplace is that there are so many channels to find success. Even just 20 years ago, you either had to get signed to a gallery to achieve success as an artist or be independently wealthy. We are so lucky today to have so many ways (via technology and the internet, social networks, etc) of getting discovered or finding our ideal client base and we can do most of it ourselves now. But it takes a significant amount of time and focus - rarely is anyone accidently successful. You have to put yourself out there and devote hundreds, maybe thousands of hours to the parts of this work that aren’t all that creative or maker-y.