My little corner in a CARAG duplex feels like an absolute rain forest. Some people click, scroll through social media when they're bored—my roommate goes plant shopping. It seems he's filled every little sunlit bay and counter-top with a thoughtfully placed philodendron, ficus, succulent. My bitty black cat, Merle, loves winding her way through this mini jungle, stalking the birds she sees outside like a panther, nibbling leaves and pawing at fronds that stand in her path.

As I've watched trees and houseplants take root in my apartment over the last two years, I've started to keep my eyes peeled for pretty pots and planters. Mitchell invests in all this greenery—how can I contribute to the garden-home he's created?

My interest in locally made goods led me to Araya Jensen, and Wind & Willow Home. I fell in love with Araya's mini planters and bowls-- they're simple, offer a nice pop of color, and they're perfect for succulents and air plants. Naturally, I had to learn more about her and her hand crafted wooden works. Read my interview with her here, and stop by the new shop in South Minneapolis.

Image from Wind and Willow's Website

Image from Wind and Willow's Website

First things first: can you tell us how you got your name? Araya—it’s beautiful. 

Thanks!  I always say it is post-hippie, as my parents weren't quite old enough to be hippies when I was born, but they still had the spirit.  It's pronounced, Uh-ray-uh- sunshine, like a ray of sunshine. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? How’d you end up here? 

I wanted to be an art teacher when I grew up.  I ended up going to school for interior design and practiced as a kitchen and bathroom designer in the remodeling industry for over 12 years. 

Who are your products for? What makes them unique? 

I consider my products for everyone.  Those who like cooking, baking, entertaining, sharing a meal, sharing memories...

They are unique because the color is not just for decoration.  I designed the colored portion initially for function—it's a rubber material that I custom-mix.  This makes the bowls slip resistant, and the spoons more comfortable in your hands...

Image from Wind and Willow's Website

Image from Wind and Willow's Website

Where do you draw inspiration?  

I grew up along the North Shore of Lake superior and have always loved adventuring in the woods.  Of course, nature is a huge inspiration for me. 

Your pieces brighten up our living spaces. Where do you call home? What does it look and feel like? 

My husband, 4 1/2 year old son and 7 year old daughter call Eden Prairie home.  For us, our home feels a lot like my products—natural, casual, bright. 

What’s been the most difficult part of owning a small business?  

Every day there is a different challenge, but I think keeping focused on the big picture and not getting tied down in the little challenges is one of the most difficult parts of owning a small business for me. 

We can’t shut up about Minneapolis—we think people like you make it pretty great. What, in your opinion, makes it so special? 

I agree that the people here make it pretty great.  The awesome creative community and talent in the Twin Cities area is second to none in my opinion.  Most of the creative that I have met are gracious, humble, friendly and unbelievably talented. 

Image from Wind and Willow's Website

Image from Wind and Willow's Website

What are you looking forward to? 

Currently, I am looking forward to hot summer days at the lake. Also, I love learning new creative techniques and I am thrilled to have some awesome friends teaching creative workshops at my studio this Summer. 

Where can we find your products? 

My products can be found in my brand new showroom, in addition to some amazing local shops around town: Forage Modern WorkshopParc Boutique, and the Art Institute gift shop. I can be found in many special shops nationally and internationally.

Find Araya online, or near you