If you've ever seen Lotus and Luna in your favorite Surf Shop or boutique, chances are you've seen one of our beautiful handmade bamboo displays that showcase our bracelets and chokers. Although our accessories are all handmade in Thailand, our displays are made right here in Southern California. Don Sisting is our only artisan here in the USA, and he also happens to be the father of our founder, Janelle Sisting.
Over the past year and a half we've been in business, Don has made almost six hundred displays, and constructed an entire booth for the trade shows we attend several times per year. We recently paid him a visit at his workshop to find out more about his process and what it means to him.
Don works out of the family home (which he built all by himself, by the way) in Camarillo, California. When we drove up, we weren't surprised to see him out front, working away amongst about thirty displays in various stages of production, being closely supervised by the family dog, Kleo. He happily welcomed us inside, where we interviewed him over a couple burritos.
How did you originally start working with Lotus and Luna?
"My daughter was getting her business going, and of course I was willing to help however I could. She knew that I had the skills, so she asked me if I could put together a batch of displays to get her started. Well, it's been about a year and a half now, and six hundred displays!"
What motivates you to stick with it and continue working in your retirement?
"Well it sure isn't the money!" He jokes. "I really like building stuff. I always planned to spend my retirement working with my hands and creating woodwork projects, like furniture and other things. This is just a different way of doing that, and I get to help my daughter out and watch her run her business from a unique perspective. I think any Dad would find a special satisfaction in that. It's also fun to travel to the trade shows and see the success she's had in action."
Have you been to Thailand with Janelle yet?
"I haven't. My wife has, and they had a great time together. I'd really like to go see it someday soon. Maybe I'll go this December or next year. I also want to see Vietnam and maybe do a long motorcycle ride through it."
Tell us a little bit more about the displays themselves, and your process.
"Well it starts with the design. I work closely with our designer Ashley Villatuya, who sends me a concept, and after we bounce ideas back and forth, I get to work. When I started the job, I used bamboo from my own back yard. But as the company grew and the orders kept flooding in, I ran out and had to find it elsewhere. I actually found a place in San Diego to source the Bamboo, so now I drive down there once in a while and use it as an excuse to drop in on Janelle too!"
And what about the trade show booth?
"The booths are a much bigger project. We work on them for months at a time, and its always a really fun challenge. You have to think about what will look great for the brand to attract buyers at the show, but also think about how to fit the walls, all the furniture, flooring - everything into the smallest crate possible to ship to the show; Its like a big puzzle. Sometimes there are surprises or changes right at the end and I have to work overtime, hustling to get it finished and save the day in true fatherly fashion"
True Fatherly fashion indeed! Was this the career you pictured for Janelle growing up?
"I always knew Janelle would be a savvy business person. She had her first job around age twelve or thirteen, helping out an elderly woman from our church, and she was always searching for ways to make her own money. I wanted to get her a corporate job at Mercedes-Benz, where I worked as a mechanic for many many years, but she wanted to be a lawyer. I didn't really think that was a good fit for her personality and spirit, so I was very relieved when she decided to create her own brand."
Besides Lotus and Luna, are there any other special interests or hobbies that you and Janelle share?
"Janelle and I both love to run, and we've always shared that as a special connection. I've been running ever since I can remember, and I first realized Janelle had the bug when she was really young. We were on a hike in Yosemite; the whole family had had enough and was ready to turn back, but Janelle just wanted to keep going and going! She has amazing stamina and ran her first race at age four. In fact, I believe she still holds the record for the 800 meter race at her High School!" *(Awe we love a good Dad brag!)
After our lunch, Don helped us load a fresh batch of about twenty displays into the car to take back to San Diego with us, and we said our goodbyes. As we pulled away, Don got right back to work on the next batch, with Kleo reassuming her position at his feet. Lotus and Luna is so lucky to have Don on our team, and Janelle is even luckier to have such a supportive, loving, and skilled man to call 'Dad'.
Wishing a Happy Fathers Day to Don and all the amazing fathers our there!!