Studio Visit: Micaela Greg

Studio Visit: Micaela Greg

November 9, 2017

Studio Visit: Micaela Greg

Studio Visit: Micaela Greg
Photo by Micaela Greg
Studio Visit: Micaela Greg

Karen and Marie Potesta have been making things with each other since they were little. From stringing bead necklaces and weaving pot holders in the living room floor, the two sisters have grown up to make beautiful knit sweaters, scarves, and more for mom and baby from their studio in Alameda, CA.

After working three desks apart from each other at Levi’s, they started their own business, Micaela Greg, six years ago when they had their first daughters. We visited their studio and chatted about knitwear, babies, and their grandmother’s hometown in Italy. They are going to be one of the selected vendors at West Coast Craft in San Francisco on Saturday November 12 and 13 if you want to see their stuff in person.

Because I have a fashion novice, what are the differences between knitwear and other fabrics?

Karen: Knitwear is different because you’re creating the fabric which is then crafted into a garment. I think we have more success doing that because we have more control over it.

Marie: Where just a stack of fabric, it’s not exactly what I want. Sourcing is hard when you have minimums and you can’t get what you want, but you can buy a cone of yarn and make what you want.

Karen: I think we like texture and handfeel so much and it’s also not as fussy, it can fit a lot of people. We’re more happy accident like, Oh this worked.

Marie: With knitwear you have to be flexible because a stitch is longer than it is wide so when you get something off of the computer, it’s not exactly what you want, so you have to be okay with those happy accidents, and we like working with that.

Karen: We know what we want, but we’re excited by things that turn out differently than we could’ve ever conceived them. It’s technical in a non-fussy way, in a cozy way.

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When did you decide to start your own business?

Marie: Right after we had babies. I was working at the Academy of Art and someone suggested I entered this content, and some boutiques that saw the saw the show wanted to buy product and we said, Oh boy. Then when we were getting ready to go, we had babies and quit the day jobs.

How do you balance being moms and running a business?

Marie: Well the minute they started to go to school and we got a break, we said Let’s mess it up all over again and start over. Throw caution to the wind and throw a few more into the mix.

Karen: I think we equal one person because one can be doing this and the other can

Marie: Right, one can be sitting on the computer while the other one is packing boxes or making swatches. Every day is so different you can’t be a planner really, and neither of us are…

Karen: Rigid.

Marie: We’re go with the flow, and we don’t really get too anxious about anything.

Karen: Well… uh, wow.

Marie: One of us a little more than the other. There’s a healthy level of non-planning that you have to embrace.

Karen: It’s also like multitasking at a really high level.

Marie: Like my daughter used to sleep in that swing all day long, and I said, Having a baby here is easy! Then all of a sudden she rolled over and that was it. Now it’s a new challenge, we move her upstairs and listen to her cry for a couple minutes and go on with our business.

Karen: I think we did our first show in New York when the girls were like 11 months old.

Marie: Maybe a few months here and there, but I don’t think we’ve ever not been juggling, so we don’t really know what that’s like.

Where does the name Micaela Greg come from? Marie: Our grandmother’s family in her hometown in Italy used the phrase when they couldn’t think of someone’s name, like so ’n so. Neither of us wanted to use our own names, so we figured let’s call it Micaela Greg.

Is that a saying in the region?

Marie: I feel like it was just a family thing, but it was such a small town I don’t know, coulda caught on. We just grew up hearing it all the time. If you couldn’t think of someone’s name or if you were talking about someone and they were two feet away and our grandmother didn’t want them to hear, she’d be like, You know Micaela Greg

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So what’s it like working with your sister?

Karen: It’s good.

Marie: Unconditional. You know we can fight about and then an hour later say, What do you want for lunch?

Karen: I don’t think I could do it with anyone else. We align aesthetically really easily, and we know our roles without talking about it whereas with someone else you’d have to say, You do this, I’ll do that.

Marie: She handed me the camera and I shoot our lookbooks now and thought, How’d I end up doing the shooting? She does the photoediting. It’s something that organically really happens, so it’s easy.

Does that happen on the business side?

Karen: Oh, yeah, she’s tax lady. I do invoicing and sales. There’s no split like, You’re better at math. We split everything. It’s easier because we know each other so well. It’s just family.

How did you first get involved with West Coast Craft?

Marie: We had friends in common with Pauline and someone suggested that we do it, and it’s been good. The community of creative people who are there is so well curated and it’s always so interesting to see what everybody does and meet new people. And get to see people from LA, Seattle, or Portland who we have a social media friendship with but we get to see them in person.

So what’s next?

Marie: We’ve been thinking about other things like lifestyle things. Our blankets do really well for kids, so why can’t you have a throw blanket for a woman? Karen’s always saying we need to narrow our perspective. But I’m always like, A pillow’s a square. A blanket’s a square.

Karen: Dreamer.

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