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Top of Mind

Top of Mind: Annabel Inganni on Fresh Air, the Wow Moment, and Tuning Into Other People's Business Struggles to Solve Her Own

Top of Mind 11/15/2017

Welcome to Top of Mind, featuring a designer who’s been a part of the Of a Kind fam since wayyyyyy back (like, before Snapchat). This time, Annabel Inganni, the scrappy, stylish mastermind who not only designs the geographic prints that make her Wolfum backgammon sets, wooden toys, and more feel so special, but also cuts the components for them in her very own home woodshop. 

 

THE BEAUTY OF BEING AN EARLY BIRD:

Lately, I have had a hard time fitting exercise into my day, so I’ve started getting up at 6 A.M. and going for a jog through my neighborhood. It is cool in the morning, and the hills of South Pasadena are filled with peacocks and coyotes and all sorts of hawks and crows. It's magically quiet and wild. I’m able to ground my day and focus my attention on tasks by starting my morning with fresh air. The second I walk in the front door, it is a mad dash for my daughter's school and my work, so I have found this self-care a great way to set myself up for a good day.”

 

THE DIFFERENCE A DECADE MAKES:

In a funny way, this year has brought me full circle. Of course my sensibility has adjusted, grown, shifted since I started in 2011—as I have matured, my focus and interests have changed.  However, I found while designing the current fall 2017 collection that I returned to the roots of Wolfum a bit. When my husband and I created the first collection,there was no feedback, were no expectations except that I hoped people loved it. As the audience grew, so did the pressure, and I got in my head a bit, wondering about expectations and trying to re-create the initial magic that felt so wonderful. This year I pulled back, went deeply personal again, and did what I loved—and I think the collection is one of our best.”

 

Wolfum birchbackgammon 3
Alexandria Birch Backgammon Set
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ADVICE WORTH WRITING DOWN:

"’Try it. Why not?’ I am 100% self-taught as a designer and business owner, which has, at times, led to self-doubt. I remember when I was given my first big opportunity in design, and my boss accepted my hair-brained ideas and allowed me to experiment and follow my instincts. Without her giving me the permission to play, I may not have been able to develop the concept that is now Wolfum. Printing on wood?  Handmade in L.A.? Well, why not?”

 

BEING PRESENT (EVEN FOR THE BAD STUFF):

“Balancing a design and manufacturing business in L.A. is no joke.  Both my husband and I are self-employed, so there is no steady income. It is a constant struggle. Some months are solid, others not so much. Learning to ride that wave is hard. Truthfully, this last year has been a big one for discouragement. We have had to face the future of our business and make some big, scary decisions, and it is very easy to feel small and incapable doing so. So I have been tuning out from social media a bit. I don't want to compare or feel badly for a missed opportunity, so I go inward. I journal, I go for walks outside, I talk to my mom and play with my kid and dogs.  I allow myself to not focus on being a designer or running a business and just feel human and complete, flaws and all.”

 

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Marcel Backgammon Travel Set
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THE PODCAST THAT MAKES HER SAY “SAME”:

“I am obsessed with How I Built This with Guy Raz. The stories are so inspirational, so human. When I hear the struggles of other companies—how they went through what we are going through or what we are facing—it gives me strength and hope and validates that my hard work is worth it.”

 

WHERE TO GO WHEN IT’S TIME TO GTFO OF TOWN:

“My uncle lived in a very small town in Italy called Tavoleto—there are these magical places there called agriturismos, family farms that are open to visitors where almost all of what you consume comes from that farm. There are no menus, the family dog is running around, and each course has been lovingly prepared fresh that day. No matter if you speak Italian or not, you feel welcome and can stay for hours luxuriating in the fresh pasta and ricotta and grappa and the stunning views of the countryside.”

 

 

...OR WHEN SHE WANTS TO STAY CLOSE TO HOME:

“There is a place in Eagle Rock called Cafe Beaujolais that we've been going to for years. It’s an unassuming restaurant—no fancy interior design or trendy cocktails, but the classic French food is delicious and the service is wonderful. I always get the halibut in champagne sauce—decadent but completely mouth-wateringly delicious.”

 

WHAT MAKES IT ALL WORTH IT:

“When my research, experimentation and endless testing comes together for the wow moment. I also like the selling, truthfully. I really enjoying meeting people, talking about the product, and hearing feedback. That human connection makes it all worthwhile—to know my hard work is being loved in the homes of real people.”

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