"I had studied painting and printmaking my entire life, but as an adult I was swept up working in the fashion industry and I had stopped making things with my hands. I felt like I was being called back to myself."
After several years as a stylist traveling the globe on photo shoots, Lauren Wood had gathered an eclectic trove of fabrics and decided it was time to put them to use. In 2012, she began turning her bundles of beautiful textiles into baseball caps and Wax + Cruz was born. Now, Lauren’s vision for the label is focused on working with global artisans in a soulful, socially responsible way.
What was the pivot point that set you on your current path?
About 5 years ago, I was traveling in Peru on a styling job. I was completely entranced by all the texture: the handwoven textiles, the colors, the landscape. I was really soaking up all the craft and it inspired me to think about making something again. I had studied painting and printmaking my entire life, but as an adult I was swept up working in the fashion industry and I had stopped making things with my hands. I felt like I was being called back to myself. There has always been a big part of me that feels deep satisfaction from translating an internal idea into something in the material world and my own line became a perfect venue for those ideas. Now, I am working with artisans in Mexico to produce my collection of handwoven women's wear and home goods. Looking back, I think the seed of my line was planted on that trip. I re-focused on my own creativity and slowly, slowly Wax + Cruz came into being.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s going through their own transformation?
Perseverance! I'm learning that every challenge I lean into makes the next step I need to take more clear. If you feel happy doing something, it's obviously the right thing to explore! Don't pay too much attention to what other people are doing, dig deep, and keep making things that excite you.
Are you following the path of a trailblazer or being guided by a mentor?
My lifelong mentor is an artist and musician based in Dallas, Texas. His name is Martin Delabano. He was my art teacher when I was a kid, became my mentor, and is now a good friend. Martin is a creator through and through, and so very kind. He is a sculptor, a painter, he makes instruments, he plays music. He is a spiritual person who always made time to put his art at the forefront of his life, all the while being extremely dedicated to teaching his students. I learned to weave, weld, carve, paint, print, you name it. He recognized my creative abilities as a young kid and really encouraged me. That gave me confidence in myself as an artist. His class was the hour you looked forward to every week. We listened to Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix’s “Axis Bold as Love” on vinyl, we talked about interesting things, and we HAD to keep a sketch book. Martin taught me that the act of making is extremely important and that you have to listen to that desire if it is in you. Two years ago my husband and I asked him to marry us, so he’s pretty much seen me through from childhood to adulthood, growing, creating, and expanding. I will be forever grateful for his friendship and the time I spent learning about art and making things in his presence.
Where in the world would you describe as the place that speaks to you - your soul place?
In a general sense, I love to be "away" in nature, in rugged, desolate places, with few people, and I would say the ocean inspires me endlessly. In a more specific sense, I have a few:
Mexico (where I produce my collection) is deeply inspiring for its craft, food, cultural diversity, and the beaches of course! Italy (where I lived for a few years) for its history and obsessive attention to all things "made well" (and by hand). And Texas, my home state, for its cultural mix, it's sense of humor, and the wide open expanses that make me feel like there are endless possibilities. I dream of going anywhere with small, clean, uncrowded waves, where I can surf without a wetsuit.
If you could do anything, what in the world would you want to do next?
I'm doing it! I love designing for Wax + Cruz and thinking about how to make it stronger, more interesting, and inspiring every season. I'm really interested in interiors at the moment and I see my textiles expanding in that direction as well. I'm currently exploring working with artisans in other countries, so I'm excited to see where that leads me.
All images used with permission from Lauren Wood.