KOEL Stories

The Woven Path: Cindy Bokser

The Woven Pathirene hoofs
cindy-niromastudio-1.jpg

"If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life." Having worked in the advertising and public relations industry for 15 years, New Jersey based macramé artist, Cindy Bokser never quite felt the sense of euphoria from her day job as compared to making things with her own hands. So she took a leap of faith and launched Niroma Studio, where she sells macrame wall hangings, furniture and even event decor (doing what you love sounds like bliss don't you think?). Scroll further to find out more about her journey towards discovery the craft and making it into a full time business.

Copy of cindy-niromastudio-3.jpg

5 Things About Cindy Bokser…

Early riser or night owl... Former night owl, turned early riser (due to relentless toddlers!)

A song to get you into the creative groove... Endless Wave by Kamaya Painters!

What did you aspire to be when you were 5... A gymnast.

3 essentials we can find in your bag... My iPhone, ColourPop ultra matte lipstick in Cami, Airborne immune booster

If you weren’t a macramé artist, you would most probably be doing… Media relations for museums

Copy of cindy-niromastudio-2.jpg

1. Tell us about your background and what led you to choosing macramé as a craft.
I worked in advertising and public relations for 15 years prior to finding fiber art. It was through my 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. During 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. A few days later, I finished my first weaving. It was through Instagram's weaving community a couple months later that I found macrame, and decided to give it a try. As soon as I made my first one, I was hooked! I knew I have found the perfect craft for me. I still weave on occasions, but macrame has really taken ahold of my heart and hands.

2. What made you want to take your passion to the next level?
I honestly didn't feel like I had much of a choice. I have two young children, and everyday while I was working my day job, I had to leave them at school for 10 hours a day. It was a mad, angry, and guilt-ridden rush out the door in the morning, and a mad, angry, guilt-ridden rush to get them on time at the end of the day, then fed, bathed and to bed, so that I could then work on fulfilling macrame and weaving orders until the wee hours of the morning. Everything suffered: my work performance during the day, my family and my health.

Beyond the logistical need, there is this palpable feeling of satisfaction that I felt from the minute I completed my first weaving and still get to this day, that I had never garnered from my day job. There were plenty of times I performed well, made a media placement, and was congratulated for it, but I never really felt good enough or smart enough in that environment. It made me realize that nothing compares to the feeling of finishing something you make with your own hands. And, having the freedom to run my business exactly as I wish is more fulfilling and motivating than any job I've ever had.

Copy of cindy-niromastudio-8.jpg

3. Tell us more about Niroma Studio.
I launched Niroma Studio in the fall of 2015, after making a few wall hangings for my friends. Yarn and rope can get really expensive, so I started the business as a way to offset material costs. I wanted to keep making work, but I knew I needed to break even, at the very least. I never could have imagined how quickly it would take off.  Less than 9 months later, I was able to exceed the salary I was earning at my day job (I was working in the arts, so it wasn't all that much), but crunching the numbers made it an even clearer choice to devote myself to growing this business full time. Now, in addition to creating wall hangings and decor for the home, I've expanded into event decor, furniture, and selling my own brand of cotton string.

4. What kind of materials do you like to work with for your macramé pieces?
I use my own string for the majority of my work, which is 100% cotton. But I do occasionally work with some other fibers. I have a freeform design for which I use merino wool roving, leather, cotton rope and string, and a discontinued chunky wool art yarn from Loopy Mango.

5. What is your favourite piece of finished product and what inspired you to create it?
One of my most favourite pieces is a recent one I made to hang in a large front window of a local hair salon, here in Jersey City. This is the first window display I've made, which makes it very special to me, knowing that through my work there is a part of me out there in the community. I was inspired by the salon itself, which is woman-owned, and filled with women who make other women look and feel amazing. I wanted the piece to inspire the same kind of limitless confidence that I personally felt walking out of that salon, so I created it to subtly mimic the shape of a phoenix with wings outstretched. Let's face it: when a woman looks good, she feels really good, and she spreads that good feeling around her – it's contagious!

Copy of cindy-niromastudio-7.jpg

5. How is the yarn scene like in New Jersey?
The yarn scene here is fairly small and tight-knit (pun intended!), since New Jersey is a small state, geographically. I think most yarn makers and independently owned retail yarn shops know each other, and certainly, most macrame artisans and fiber artisans mostly know of each other through Instagram. We are very supportive of each other's work and endeavors, and that is something I really love about this community.

6. Is there any interesting or particularly memorable/interesting moment in your career as a professional maker?
I think this whole experience for me has been so memorable. I have grown so much as a person and met so many interesting people through Instagram, since I started a year and a half ago. Selling my first piece was pretty special and memorable (:

7. Advice for those wanting to make the switch into crafting full time? 
It's not easy. Not only is it a labor of love (because you literally earn every dollar with every stitch, knot, or brush stroke), but in order to grow as a business, you also have to think about the not-so-fun aspects (supply costs, pricing, marketing, sales, accounting, shipping, etc.) or have a partner who can manage those things. As makers, many of us just want to put our nose to the grindstone and churn out work, but that alone does not make a profit. I know that part of my success is because I have a marketing brain and background, and I naturally love social media, so I've been able to find ways to target and appeal to my target customers. So my advice is to be aware that you'll need to allocate a lot of time doing things other than making in order to grow into a viable business. No one knows everything right at the start. We all learn along the way through a lot of trial and error.

Copy of cindy-niromastudio-6.jpg

Photo Credits: Cindy Bokser