We caught up with local artisan Joanna Beatrice, a Santa Barbara-based furniture designer and reupholstery specialist who founded Bea Furnishings. Her company was born upon the pillars of expertise, passion, and enthusiasm and provides reupholstery services for furniture of all ages, as well as custom designs. Read our conversation with Joanna (who wears our Darby in Khaki Camouflage) below.
What does a typical day in the life for you look like?
On a typical day, the early bird definitely gets the worm. I enjoy getting up and at it during the quiet, early hours.
As predominately a one woman show at my shop, I am often jumping from project to project. From cutting cushions, to stuffing cushions, to upholstering a sofa, it’s always all hands on deck. The change of pieces and fabrics make for a fun, lively shop and vibe.
Any day that includes a beach walk or chance to ponder in the sand is victorious.
We believe appearance is a form of expression, not validation. How do your SeaVees help you express your personal style?
Appearance is indeed an expression; in form of fashion and in form of the furniture I create. SeaVees defines the California look and lifestyle. Being a native of Santa Barbara, my everyday style, down to the shoes I wear, compliment my way of life.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about making people do a double-take on furniture.
Using my upholstery skills and furniture designs, I am driven to re-awaken our value of furniture showcasing thought-provoking, bespoke furniture design.
There is oh so much potential within the design and integrity of furniture, and I am here to throw it in our faces.
How did you get started in the world of upholstery/furniture design?
I have a degree from San Francisco State University in Interior Design. Upon graduating, I explored trades like welding and woodworking which then led me to upholstery.
With very little understanding of the trade or sewing, I was keen on learning all that I possibly could. I was absolutely head over heels at the concept of perfecting upholstery and understanding furniture construction.
Taking my education into my own hands, at 23 years old I relocated from Santa Barbara, CA to High Point, NC. High Point was once the furniture capital of the world. There I took a curriculum coarse and later worked for Stickley Furniture at their local factory.
After living in North Carolina, I moved to Brooklyn, NY and later Denver, CO all for the sake of working for different shops and picking up different techniques and experiences.
In 2017 I opened Bea Furnishings in Santa Barbara, CA. Currently Bea Furnishings serves as a reupholstery and custom furniture business.
It has been my plan thus far to hone all the knowledge within the upholstery business and trade, in hopes of it giving me a niche understanding within design.
My goal is to design my own furniture, and have it manufactured on a boutique, high-end integrity basis.
Though my business and I continue to provide the service of upholstery, I hope to gain experience and notoriety as a furniture designer.
Have you faced adversity in your life or career? What have you learned from that?
I have definitely faced adversity in my career. I am most certainly the anomaly of upholsterers. It was once hard to get the opportunity to work and grow and become the skilled upholsterer that I am today.
I try to run with my differences and adversities that come my way. Sure, most upholsterers and furniture designers have kids my age, but that doesn’t mean I am any less capable within my integrity or designs.
What are some things that you are grateful for?
I am grateful for oh so much!
I am grateful for my two hands and in awe of their coordination. I am grateful for my body and its strength and health.
I am grateful for the strong support I share with friends and family.
My community and the place I call home is something I cherish. I was raised in Santa Barbara County, and I feel it significantly made me who I am today. Santa Barbara was always the place I wanted to first debut my business, and
I treasure the love and opportunities that come my way.
One of our brand mottos is “Keep it Casual”. What does “Keep it Casual” mean to you in your own life?
To me it means don’t sweat the small stuff; do and be the best you can and the rest will follow.
How do you stay inspired?
I stay inspired by focusing on the finish line and the ride it’s been to get to it. I stay driven by my dreams and keep the reach high.
Every day I am reminded that nothing good comes easy. I have worked hard to have the business I have today, which seemingly still feels like the tip of my iceberg.
Socks or no socks?
Socks; unless at or near the beach.
Socks are to shoes, as throw pillows are to a sofa.
Do you have any plans or projects that you are looking forward to in the future?
I plan on doing some more versions of The Dumpster Sofa. The first Dumpster Sofa featured a modified dumpster with red velvet, tufted seating.
I plan on continuing to morph objects into furniture in hopes of provoking unique, thorough design using contradicting items and materials.
What’s one piece of advice, encouragement, or challenge you’d love to leave our readers with?
A closed mouth doesn’t get fed!
Where can our readers find / follow you, and what would be the best way to support you / your business / project?
Follow me and my journey in this passion fueled, furniture ride I’m destined for, and encourage others to too.
Share and actively like the art community on your social media platforms.
It is more clear than ever how broadly connected our world is via social media networks. We are all instant audiences by whom we follow and what we share.
With this in consideration, support the power of art. Art can transcend language, age, race, culture, and more; art can revolutionize.