Former SN&R staffer Erin Sierchio (pictured with her Lhasa apso mix, Walter) wanted a place to detail her self-enrichment endeavors. But what started out as a place to document her piano and language lessons quickly evolved into a site focused on all things design. Now, her Bows & Sparrows blog (http://bowsandsparrows.blogspot.com) is a cool-hunting compendium of whimsical products, DIY projects and wish-list-worthy finds.
Why and how did you start Bows & Sparrows?
In 2008, I started a music blog, [because] a group of friends and I had started a “record club” with a different theme each month, and I blogged about the different music we’d talk about. But while I found that I enjoyed blogging, I thought the music [theme] was too specific, so I started Bows & Sparrows [in October 2009] because I wanted to blog about design—be it industrial or fashion or in movies or whatever. The graphics of things have always inspired me to put magazine clippings of things I liked in a file folder—this has become my online version of that.
Is there a process for deciding what you blog about?
Most of my time is spent on the Internet trolling for things that inspire me; the writing itself takes about 20 minutes a day. On a day when you wake and don’t feel like doing it, that can feel like an obligation, but then once I get started, the searching process is fun. I used to be a writer, and I’m not working that craft anymore, but I don’t want to lose those skills. I’d like to work for a design site like Apartment Therapy or Design Sponge, although I don’t think my blog posts are really in line with what they do, [because] I’m implementing more personal elements.
How much of the stuff that you post about do you actually purchase?
I don’t buy a lot of it; in fact, I hardly buy anything. [The blog] is in a dream world where I have an endless income. I look at these magazines all the time where they’re talking about stuff like Louis Vuitton and Chanel—who can actually afford that stuff? But it doesn’t mean I’m any less inspired.
Do you make any money off of your posts?
Nobody pays me to endorse products. I know a lot of bloggers do get sponsors, but I’m just writing about things with a design that I find to be visually appealing and creative and functional. I wouldn’t call it a shopping blog but rather an idea blog or a design blog.
You often blog about homemade things you find on Etsy and other cute DIY projects.
I’m very DIY. A few years ago, I started a group called Ironing Maidens, and we participated in Second Saturday and made purses and felted flowers. My friends in general are very crafty—they’re designers or writers or photographers or crafters. I sew, I write, I’m a graphic designer and I’m constantly doing a home project—if I [find] something that I like but it’s too expensive, I’ll take a shot at making it myself.
How has the blog evolved?
When I first started, I was inspired by Nylon magazine, the articles and headlines they come up with. I’m not modeling the blog after anything in particular; I started with category ideas, but I’ve moved away from that. It’s also become very interactive. I post [links to my entries] on Twitter, and that’s one of the things I really enjoy about the blog, the interaction on Twitter and Facebook.
Did you name it after the Sacramento vintage clothing store Bows and Arrows?
(Laughs.) I have to give them partial credit. When I first heard that [Bows and Arrows co-owner] Olivia Coelho had named it that, I thought she was calling it Bows & Sparrows and I thought, “That’s brilliant,” but then I realized I misheard her, and I decided that if she wasn’t going to use the name, then I had to. I’ve always had an affinity for birds—not the real ones that crap on our cars—but the art that incorporates them. I really like birds in art, and so the name played into the appropriateness of who I am.
How has the blog changed your life?
Well, the first thing I blogged about was that I was considering taking piano lessons. I was going through a period of life where I wanted to try new things. I’ve never learned a second language, I’ve never learned an instrument. And now I’m actually taking piano lessons, I’m actually taking Italian lessons, and I’ve started the blog. I just started blogging about doing the things I wanted to do with the idea that maybe one day I would actually do them. I started blogging first, but then in the coming months, I signed up for the other things. Bows & Sparrows was the impetus for all that.