Meet the Maker: BlackSheepMade

We are excited to introduce our new handcrafted macramé plant hanger, creative exclusively for Ansel & Ivy by BlackSheepMade. Alyssarhaye Graciano is a trilingual, POC fiber artist and the maker behind BlackSheepMade. Once in the tech industry as a linguistic specialist, she left her day job to pursue a creative career. While she mainly knits, crochet, macramé and weaving are also part of her everyday life. Read on to learn more about the artist.

Name: Alyssarhaye Graciano, @blacksheepmade

Location: San Jose, CA

Tell us about yourself.

Hi! My name is Alyssarhaye, pronounced, “alyssa-ray”, much easier than it looks! When I’m not in my studio working on my art you can find me cooking new recipes in the kitchen, playing saxophone with my grandpa, or out on my mountain bike. While I’ve been a full-time artist for almost three years, my current day job is working at an arts non-profit where we help arts organizations within Santa Clara County acquire funding and building their professional toolboxes.

How did you get into this work?

I started BlackSheepMade during my second year in college in an attempt to fund a study abroad trip in Costa Rica. Having knit my way to Costa Rica, I continued knitting and crocheting well into college and even after I graduated. Over the years, I’ve dabbled in every form of fiber art possible- macramé, weaving, punch needle, rug tufting. I love all of the various methods in which I can use the same materials. While BlackSheepMade started out as product-focused, I soon started teaching private lessons, group workshops, and team building. I love helping others find the feeling of satisfaction from making something with their own two hands. Eight years later, my main focuses are those teaching experiences, wholesale, and something I refer to as yarn painting

What inspires your work?

My work pulls inspiration from various places, it really depends on the method I decide to use (knitting, macramé, yarn painting, etc). Sometimes I pull from my Mexican-Filipina American heritage. Other times, I draw from my experiences in nature, the work of other artists when I visit museums, or from science fiction novels I enjoy.

What advice would you give other small business owners? 

Don’t go into business because you see someone make something and you think, “I could make that.” Go into business because you truly care about what you are making. You have an interest for the process and everything that goes into the end result. Your passion for your project/art/mission will shine through and that’s what gets folks looking. Also, organize your paperwork (taxes, receipts, invoices, etc) as you go. Do not put it off!

To see more of Alyssarhaye’s art, you can find her on Instagram.