Amber Baker of Collective 108 | Thread Spun Sustainability Blog

After Hours Disc 11: Creativity and Connection with Amber Baker

After Hours 7.18.22
Discussion 11: Creativity & Connection with Amber Baker of Collective 108

This month's Q&A gets us closer to Collective 108 owner, creative Jane of All Trades, and close friend of Thread Spun, Amber Baker. Join us as we chat all things sustainability, creativity and more. 

A woman sitting in the desert looking to her right and wearing a handmade woven shirt from ADM and cream shorts from Whimsy + Row, all sold at Thread Spun
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All photography by Jess Ballerstein of ByDarius Photography

Amber, where are you from? How did your upbringing influence your creative path in life?
I was born in Connecticut & moved a lot as a kid. Connecticut, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Orange County, Mexico, Boston on and on. 

I was born into being a Jehovah's Witness (for those who are not familiar it's a cult like restrictive/organized religion) so my every move was dictated to me and I was watched heavily. This was very stifling and damaging. Once I moved out of all that at 17 it took me a long time to find myself, create a path and find what I liked. I wasn't even sure what I liked, or who I was so it was a real struggle to become a whole person and integrate into society. 
Once I did though it was extremely freeing. Not being able to explore certain hobbies or creative outlets growing up meant that I dove into all the creative things to see what resonated with me and became kind of a Jane of All Trades, so -to-speak. I love connecting with communities, being of service to others and creating positive change and a space of support for those who need it because of my upbringing. 

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What inspired you to create Collective 108?
A few things inspired Collective108. In my 20's I was diagnosed with OCD that included aggressive skin picking. Then in my 30's I developed cystic acne, not a great combination. After trying every skincare product on the market, thousands of dollars wasted and skin that was really damaged from slathering too many peels/masks ect on it I decided to try something different. 
I threw away everything I had in my bathroom and decided to just use organic oil to cleanse and moisturize my face. After tons of research and testing over a year I found a wonderful mix and began to create a calming skincare/self-care ritual with it. It completely changed my skin, healed and faded acne/picking scars and to my surprise, the ritual of using the oil replaced the picking and my skin looks 100% different than it did then AND it gave me a way to be kind to my skin vs picking at it. 

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I started bottling the oils to give away and share with friends, then my husband encouraged me to start Collective 108. After the skin oil came the CBD products we carry. I was unable to find a truly clean and transparent CBD company for myself to use, so we created an organic & clean CBD line. We clearly state ingredients, lab reports and are totally transparent. 
Collective 108 is where I share all the things that have improved my life for the better and are clean, organic & accessible. 

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You are a true entrepreneur and we know that Collective 108 isn't your only professional project. Can you tell us about your other ventures? 
Aside from Collective I also do work as a Postpartum Doula, assisting parents with postpartum nutrition, emotional care and providing a non judgmental space for them to heal from pregnancy and birth. I also provide postpartum care for those who have adopted, suffered loss or had an abortion, because those people are also in a postpartum state.  I am a plant based private chef as well, I love creating colorful dishes to share/show that eating plant based doesn't have to be gross or boring. 
I do event planning & freelance marketing as well. Working with female owned businesses is one of my many passions. You can learn more here.

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How would you describe your personal style?
Comfortable, flowy, functional, minimalist.
Since I have settled into my 30's I am really into comfortable soft fabrics with flow to them. I love earthy neutrals and sustainable pieces. I have tried to create a capsule wardrobe of sorts so that I know any 3 things I grab might go with anything else in my closet. I love multi functional pieces too like the Marina one piece from your shop that I can wear with high waisted pants, shorts or a skirt. 
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How do you incorporate sustainability into your home? Into your cooking? 
Living a sustainable life is really important to me. I use So Good General Store non-toxic vegan cleaning concentrates to clean my home, they work so well, smell amazing and are botanical based + bottled in glass. We replaced using paper towels with "un paper towels" aka washable organic cloths. Things like shopping in bulk, reusable bags, reading labels to avoid toxins, avoiding buying things in plastic, shopping local whenever possible and being intentional about what we buy helps me be sustainable at home. 
In terms of cooking I always meal plan my week ahead & take inventory of what I have on hand in the kitchen first. Then I make recipes to use everything I have instead of letting things waste and get thrown away. I save my veggie scraps (onion, carrot, celery, greens etc.) in the freezer and use it when making broths. Freezing citrus rinds to use later for zests when needed reduces food waste. Using glass containers for storage & reusable produce bags when shopping +  eating a plant based diet and shopping for local produce are some ways I try to be sustainable in the kitchen.

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You are one of the plantiest people I know - when did you get into being a plant mom and why do you love it? 
I can't even remember when I got into plants. But I am obsessed. I am a tropical person ( this is the Jamaican/Puerto Rican in me) and I gravitate towards tropical plants. I am always in awe of what Mother Nature creates and after getting a few plants I realized how calming/rewarding caring for them and watching them grow can be. I found myself counting down to watering day when I could play music, tune out and just focus on the plants. As someone who battles Generalized Anxiety and other mental health issues, having that time to tune into the plants turned into time to tune into myself, and it's now like medicine for me. 

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You're an amazing mom, and you have a 15 year-old son who is truly a joy to be around. My kids are younger but as far as I know, this is pretty rare. Any parenting tips or tricks you'd like to share?
Oh my what a compliment! Thank you so much. I was 100% terrified of becoming a mother and I thought I would never have kids. I have Endometriosis and was told as a teen to "not count on it" and they gave me something like a 20% chance to have kids. I made peace with that and then got pregnant on accident! Not having a good relationship with my Mother and only having her less than stellar example to draw from made me feel very ill equipped to be a mother. What I did know was what not to do, so I drew on that and created an idea of the kind of parent I wanted to be. 
I swear by a few things to raise confident, balanced kids.
  • Allowing kids to have a voice is important. They have different opinions, interests and drives than we do. Realizing and respecting that they are their own people. 
  • Actually listening and letting them finish talking before chiming in. 
  • Allowing them to make mistakes and talking through a way to fix it.
  • Giving honest age appropriate answers to questions asked.
  • Healing ones own parental wounds ensures no projecting onto your kids. Having adventures and new experiences together.
  • Let them see healthy conflict resolution (which requires work in your relationships which is hard but it's beneficial all around).
  • Realizing they do learn by watching you, so you have to look at your own life/actions.
  • Encourage and facilitate being physical & being outside.
  • Make room/time to laugh and be light hearted together.
  • Adopting a growth mindset, not a perfectionist mindset. Failure just means you are trying, and that's what's important.
  • Once they are older, being willing to have hard conversations and letting them reason, challenge or share differing ways of thinking.
  • Try to approach parenting as a united front, not undermining your partner in front of the kids or talking shit about them to your kids.
  • Make time every day to connect, we like to do daily "high and lows" around the table at night to see what everyone's best and worst parts of the day are.
  • * For teens particularly: don't make a big deal out of everything! Be chill, make conversation and show interest without being too much, so they keep wanting to confide in you.
Oh man, that is a bit more than a few, HAHA!
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Top Five Favorite San Diego area haunts? 
Oh this is a good one.
  1. I love finding new trails to hike but I don't have a favorite. I really enjoy the San Diego natural foliage and red dirt on some of the local trails, I like to take my dog and traipse around as much as possible. 
  2. A good spin class at Cycle Bar always gets my head on straight for the day.
  3. I am kind of obsessed with Corner Pizza in Leucadia right now. I love pizza and could eat it every day.
  4. The Leaf Metaphysical Shop in Vista is so calming to be in.
  5. I can nerd out pretty hard at the Botanical Garden and Anderson's La Costa
  6. Bonus #6. Communal Coffee in Oceanside, I can sit and remote work in there for hours.  

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What are your top 5 favorite songs at the moment?
1. "Bibles" by Jaja Bu
2. "Bad Dream" by Cannons
3. "Energy" by Sampa the Great
4. "We got Love" by Teyana Taylor
5. "0 to 100/The Catchup" by Drake
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