13 Jul San Antonio Photographer Switches Gears and Opens Eco-Friendly Goods Shop
At the height of the Global Pandemic, the U.S. unemployment rate skyrocketed to a whopping 14.7 becoming the highest rate it’s ever been in history, even over the Great Depression. Though that number has gone down as of late, many Americans have had to find new sources of income and reinvent themselves. This is what sparked the light bulb for San Antonio based photographer, Anna Angenend. Her new online-based eco-friendly product AR FAMN recently launched, and with more people taking precautions for the health and safety of their homes, it looks like Anna has the goods that people have been increasingly looking for. From home and kitchen goods to jewelry and accessories, AR FAMN brings us eco-friendly sustainable products with dreamy esthetics worthy of Pinterest. Find out how AR FAMN got started in an exclusive interview with Angenend!
Anna Angenend of AR FAMN. Photo provided
SLTV: I’ve known about your work as a photographer for some time, and have been following you ever since you shot with a friend of mine. How long have you been into photography?
AA: Of course, I am blown away by the fact that social media has allowed for these connections and friendships I’ve been able to build over the years. So, I’ve been a stay at home Mom, low-key doing photography for the past 7 years, so to be able to start this business I feel so exhilarated!
SLTV: That is so exciting! So, tell us about the shop. How did you come up with the name AR Famn?
AA: I have to be brutally honest, you must know the struggle, but in 2020 it can be really hard to come up with a brand name that’s not already taken. So, I had been racking my brain trying to mash up ideas and I came across a Buzzfeed article that featured beautiful words in other languages that we don’t have in the English language. I saw the word Famn, which is Swedish for “the space between our arms”, which I immediately loved because it sounded like a safe space, like a hug, very warm and comforting, so I knew I had something there. So my name is Anna and my husband’s name is Ryan so there’s the AR as our initials. So, the play on words AR Famn also sounds like “Our Fam” as in “Our Family”. So, the more I thought about, the more it grew on me and now I LOVE it!
SLTV: I love that! Makes me feel so warm and fuzzy! Where did you get the idea to start a sustainable and eco-friendly company?
AA: I’ve always incorporated those types of items into my life and tried to make swaps in my household. I haven’t been perfect, to be honest, but I feel like everybody is striving to make changes. It definitely has a ripple effect, now choosing non-toxic and eco-friendly items in our homes. It’s something that I’ve valued and really thought about over the years. So, what led us to take the plunge was the fact that my husband was unfortunately laid off in the beginning of the Pandemic and he had been the sole provider for our family since we had kids. So, we were stuck at home, without a source of income and this all turned out to be a gift, in the sense that we had time and it was the push that we needed to pursue things that we’d dreamed about but came up with a million excuses as to why we couldn’t do it. It was the right time to launch an online business that can run from home.
SLTV: There’s no time like the present! How do you source your merchandise?
AA: Sourcing is actually really challenging. We try to find genuine companies and people, and I know they’re out there, but it’s just about finding the right ones. I’ve come to the harsh realization that people will say what it takes to make a buck. I see it from both perspectives, like, yes, I wanna have sustainable living for my family while seeking to make a profit, but I have these values that I want to stand by. The handmade items I source, I want them to preserve the culture that it belongs to and have a story behind it.
SLTV: So, you look for items that make you feel good about having with your shop and make people feel good about bringing home. What else do you look for in the items in your shop?
AA: Exactly. I think a beautiful story that people can relate to, that also helps the planet while providing high-quality items that you’ll be happy to have in your home is really important to me. The main factors that I’ve been searching for have been hand-made, small-batch, eco-friendly, sustainably made, and fair trade. Once you start searching for those keywords, there’s actually a lot out there, so I also searched for women-owned, which I think is awesome! That resonated with me on a personal level, because even though my husband is a supporter, this really is my baby. It’s become so important to me to share their stories, as well.
SLTV: That IS awesome! When you approach these artisans, how do you pitch to them the benefits of selling with you over them opening their own shop or selling on Etsy, for example?
AA: That’s a really great question and that’s something I considered when starting the site. Like, why would they allow me to make a profit off of their creations? So, when I was studying the market and creating my business model, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of artisans use platforms like mine so that they can diversify and sell their products to multiple retailers. It really dawned on me like, this is what everybody does! I just didn’t think if it that way, even like Target or Anthropologie or whoever, are all finding suppliers that might even have their own brands but they put it together and bring it to light. The main benefit really is for creators who just want to create but don’t want to handle the business end of things. They can keep creating an awesome product and putting it out there, and I would take care of the business side by putting it on the storefront and do the marketing. They can sit back and let someone else do the selling, and that’s where I come it. For me, I like making things look beautiful, so I can take care of the staging and photography to get ready for the website, social media, and ads.
SLTV: Sounds like a win-win to me! Of course, with your photography skills, I definitely see that value offered to your suppliers. You’re like a full-service platform and it’s all so beautifully curated. How has the reception been since you opened?
AA: It’s been good! I have so much support from my friends, which is great, but I’ve always known that I wasn’t doing this to sell to friends. Being really candid, I feel like with my photography business I feel that I boxed myself in by pricing to people that I know and I made that mistake repeatedly, so I decided to break free from that. So, while you can get similar items in other big box stores, it’s not the same quality, or have the background story. I want to sell items that I would be proud to have in my own home and would last generations, even if it comes with a higher price tag. I know that people will value the quality above all. Do you know what I mean?
SLTV: Absolutely! I have a thing for quality over quantity. Not that I shy away from a good sale, but quality, the story, and the conditions in which a product was made are key factors in my purchases since I started to be a conscious shopper. I know many people are looking to do the same, but don’t know where to start. There are also people who either don’t know about it or think this is a hippie-dippy trend. How are you helping people educate themselves in the art of sustainable living?
AA: It’s definitely newer, but I do feel that people are seeking this more than ever. It takes hold of you in a short amount of time. People don’t always read the ingredients to their products until they have a reaction to it or it affects them personally. As soon as you realize how badly regulated products like skincare or kitchen items are in the United States, and things that are actually banned in other countries, I feel like people come into it in their own way, but there are plenty of resources out there. On our site, we do have a blog space where we discuss these topics and share tips from bloggers and experts that I want to keep partnering with to share their knowledge, as well. I guess that’s our contribution to educating the public, haha!
SLTV: I do believe that education takes a big place in making these changes towards sustainability, so thank you for holding that space. I also believe in accessibility. Do you think that making the change to sustainability is exclusive for the privileged?
AA: I think we can make small changes within our households and get back to basics. I may not have all the answers, but I think that everyone in any bracket can learn about the benefits of natural products, herbs, and the fact that our planet does provide for us. We have everything we need, our ancestors knew that, but we’ve just gotten so far from that. I think taking care of our homes and bodies in a holistic manner is very accessible. It’s about the relationship with ourselves and Mother Earth and there has to be a balance for it to work. I also believe that we need to hold our government and large corporations accountable for making things more accessible to the community.
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