Tell us a bit about yourself.
My mother told me that the first word I ever spoke was “no.” I’ve always wanted to go my own way. So naturally, when it came time to design my wedding last summer, I went against the grain and rejected the Wedding Industrial Complex and designed everything myself. While I was in the thick of designing my wedding decor, I decided to put some of my creations out to world and see what world thought of it. It was then and there that Better Off Wed was born. It took off like a rocket, and has been such a wild ride!
I live in the Bay Area and do all of my making at this stellar public-access workshop called TechShop. TS is like a huge playground for makers filled with super high tech equipment like lasers, water knives and 3D printers. Many members, fueled by free popcorn and untold amounts of caffeine, work late into the night with the hopes of making a dent in the universe. It’s always fun to peek over people’s shoulders and see what they’re dreaming up.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I teach creative people how to take their products from inspiration to execution. You can find me over at Jitsoo: Blackbelt Strategies for Badass Business. And if it’s not obvious, I drink a lot of coffee!
What’s the most important question a couple should ask their wedding vendor?
“How will this memento help us remember we’re crazy in love? How will it help us remember the reasons why we made this wild decision to spend the rest of our lives together?”
Your wedding day is just the beginning of your adventure together, and like any good adventure there will be perils – snakes, barracudas, hurricanes – who knows! Anything that can bring you back to that day of total clarity, pure love and reckless excitement can be a lifeline.
My husband wears a piece of our handmade fabric wedding altar around his wrist. Seeing it definitely takes me back to that thrilling moment in time, on a tiny island in the middle of an alpine lake, where we exchanged our vows.
What’s the most memorable custom item you’ve created for a wedding?
Brides often tell me their super personal and touching love stories and we work together to make something special. Most recently I helped a bride surprise her groom with a Latin quote: “amor intus meus vita.” The words were what he had engraved on his wedding ring when they eloped.
What would be the title of your memoir?
Self-made: A Story of Glitter Bombs, Liberation and Adventure on the High Seas. I want to leave a trail of sparkles wherever I go. I want to help people shine. That is liberation to me: when people can embody their highest, truest selves. And the sea? It calls me constantly. I am a true Pisces; I’m most at home underwater.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Mostly it comes from listening to my customers. Nearly everything in my shop right now was made because a customer requested it. My lovely gang of customers have incredible vision. I often feel like I’m their muse, listening to and interpreting their ideas for their perfect cake topper.
What does handmade mean to you?
I believe that something made by hand carries with it the energy of the maker. A small part of me is actually there on the most important day of people’s lives. That’s extremely special.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
I would have to say that it’s a place – the TechShop – rather than a person has been most influential in my craft. I’ve always had tons of ideas, but when I joined the TechShop I had access to the tools I needed to turn my ideas into a reality. I have taken lots of classes there – from welding, to woodturning, to vacuum forming – but have gravitated to the laser cutter because it’s super versatile. You can cut tons of different materials with laser sharp precision. The TechShop has also be an awesome place to share knowledge and collaborate with outside-the-box thinkers.
How would you describe your creative process?
My husband calls me “the tornado,” if that gives you any sense. I usually go for all-out work sessions where I get messy, spread my materials everywhere and dig in. I sketch my ideas, design in Illustrator, cut the wood and fabric with the laser, and then piece it all together by hand.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Martha Stewart. She has an amazing eye and a finger on the pulse of her market, and she’s been able to transform that into a killer business. She’s both a taste-maker and a market intuitive. I would love to be a fly on her wall and hear how she makes decisions.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My husband and I just moved from a tiny apartment to a cozy little cottage, and with the extra space we’ve been able to fill our home with some gorgeous handmade pieces. Our very most treasured so far are a stunning ambrosia maple wood salad bowl set from Oneofakind2woodbowls, super charming driftwood frames from Oldlikenew, and the most unique hand-painted antler from Madebycassandrasmith.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
There’s nothing like getting way off the grid to give me perspective and fresh eyes. My family has 100+ year old rustic solar powered cabin at the edge of a protected wilderness area that I have known as paradise since I was six months old. I go there every summer to do an internal reboot, wipe my slate clean and see what new ideas stir.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I would like to have trained a whole army of people how to quit their day jobs and do something they love. That’s an insurrection I’d love to be a part of.
My name is Tina Albin-Lax, and I make personalized shabby chic wedding cake toppers in the Bay Area.