Over a decade ago, writer and Kirtsy editor Amy Turn met and fell in love with Joe Sharp, a classically trained master carpenter from the UK. Through the years, they worked on several woodworking projects as they restored and remodeled homes together. When their two children were born, they turned their focus to creating wooden playthings—and in 2007, they launched their handcrafted toy business, Little Alouette. Amy spoke with us from her Columbus, Ohio home office/playroom about music, inspiration, and how disco helps shape each and every wooden toy from their workshop.
What do you listen to while you work? Joe and I work apart during much of the day, as I am home with our children and work from a home office and he is at our workshop downtown. I listen to a very eclectic mix of music with the kids. This month’s heavy rotation has included The Beatles, Paul Simon, Greg Laswell, and Siouxsie and the Banshees (OK, and some kiddo rock, too: The Jimmies). Joe tends to listen Oasis, The Jam, The Clash, Trex, Stiff Little Fingers, and The Stones. He loves punk rock.
Does music influence your work? We are very much into the creative process at Little Alouette. We often work from simple text notes or ideas we sketch out in notebooks for other—then we’ll come together in the workshop and listen to music and drink coffee and plan. Disco is cool and always makes us happy. Our line contains this text on each tag (and it is so true): “Each product is made by hand and usually all the wood is surrounded by cups of tea, laughing children, and disco music—so each product will come to you infused with love and bliss!”
Where do you find music recommendations? I tend to listen to a good friend from childhood who always has her pulse on the indie scene. Twitter is also awesome as folks tend to tweet songs often. I still read music mags like Rolling Stone and NPR’s music blog each month. Joe is very traditional and has loved a lot of the same music for years—but he gets new music ideas from Pandora suggestions and his pub buddies.
What song or artist best represents the work you create? Narrative is king for me. I like a good story. The Indigo Girls have always been good music for me to create to—they are a little tough and a little mushy at the same time. They blend politics and love and the world all at once, and they have inspired me since 1992 when I sat in a tiny dorm alcove and heard them for the first time at Ohio University. It’s much like our company. Little Alouette is not just about the product—it is about the story. The family. The love. And the passion.
Via Chicago, Wilco
Galileo, Indigo Girls
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), Talking Heads
Winter Winds, Mumford & Sons
Sweethearts, Camper Van Beethoven
Slow Show, The National
Divorce Song, Liz Phair
Gillian, The Waifs
Brian Wilson, Barenaked Ladies
Gypsy, Suzanne Vega
Cannonball, The Breeders
Images: Amy Turn Sharp