Laura Schoorl | Apiece Apart Woman
For years, our studio has been true-blue fans of the effortlessly classic undergarments from Pansy ...and of the line’s founder, Laura Schoorl. Through glimpses of her California life — toes in the sand, abundant and sunny outdoor picnics, holding loved ones close — it’s easy to sense both Schoorl’s passion for seeking beauty, and the way she moves through the world with intuition, care, and joy.
This sentiment is a throughline in Pansy; the line’s soft fabrics and comforting fits are clearly created for feeling at home in one’s own body. It’s a welcome reminder that deep comfort can be a wellspring of confidence. Amid the height of late summer, we visited Schoorl in Venice, where she is spending time with her family on a break before returning north to Sacramento. Read on for our conversation around integrating values into daily life; living in the questions; and what books she returns to again and again.
Photos by Carissa Gallo
If you’re asked to provide a brief “bio,” where do you start?
I am a California girl. Born and raised in Sacramento with my sisters, surrounded by family, I went to UC Berkeley and studied rhetoric and organic gardening. I was in LA working for a few years then moved back to Oakland, where I started making things and studying permaculture. I began selling my handmade sandals and hand-knit mohair sweaters to my friends, and then in 2012, while my best friend Rachel and I were on a road trip to Santa Barbara, we realized a need both for ourselves and within our community for ethically-produced organic cotton underwear. That’s how Pansy was born and I’ve spent the last eight years growing it.
Five years after founding Pansy, I birthed an actual baby. I stopped making my sandals when I got pregnant just to free up some space in my life. I’m also a much smaller partner in Shepherdess, a holistic sheep hide business I started with my friend Brittany Cole Bush. Since becoming a mother, I just try to follow the ebbs and flows of my desires since there is such a limited amount of time and energy to go around.
My family and I moved out of our Berkeley home earlier this month and now we’re in Venice for a beach sabbatical. We will eventually move to Sacramento to be near my family.
This year has prompted many moments of surrender – letting go of attachments to expectation and outcome. In what ways are you opening up to your own process of surrender?
I lost my sister and father-in-law within a couple months of giving birth and it forced me to live entirely in the present. When the pandemic hit, the entire world stopped and we all entered a state of collective grief, compelled to take stock of our failing world. For the first time, everyone else was stuck in the eternal present with me and I no longer had to pretend I was all right, because no one was all right.
Much of your mission at Pansy and Shepherdess steward slowness and regenerative practices. What are some ways we can integrate these values into daily living, or at scales big and small?
Gardening, weeding, digging in the dirt, growing our own food, shopping locally and seasonally. In a world of overabundance, being limited to certain fruits or flowers for only a couple weeks a year makes them even more sweet and precious. Moving slowly, taking care of what we own, washing by hand, hang drying, mending things, learning how to make things for ourselves like sandals, ceramics or little things that we need that are overlooked and underappreciated. Being really thoughtful about what objects we bring into our homes and being grateful for what we have.
It’s helpful to reframe self-love as taking loving action with one’s self in mind (or at heart). What does this look like for you in your life?
I do what I want whenever I want.
What’s been really comforting to you lately?
What’s a life “hack” you swear by?
I try to hang dry everything I wash. You save so much energy and there is much less wear and tear on your clothing. I find myself doing laundry in the evening more recently and I’ve started hang drying my clothes indoors rather than outside in the sunshine. Everyone can dry their clothes inside. I find pleasure in figuring out where in the house I can hang things: door knobs, chairs, bed frames, ends of dressers, on hangers in window frames. Indoor drying racks are super useful, too!
We return to Rilke’s sentiment of “living the questions” – what questions have been most emergent or present for you of late? Are you finding ways into any answers?
The questions that are the most present for me are lifelong ones: How can I do better? What do I truly need? What brings me joy? How can I do the least amount of harm?
I want to be very purposeful in how I live. I strive to live pleasurably while doing the least amount of harm to the Earth. I want to build an anti-capitalist business within our extremely toxic system that is constantly promoting more and better everything and pushes us to consume beyond the thresholds of our Earth.
5 books you love deeply (or perhaps that you’ve given as gifts?)
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
Are Prisons Obsolete? By Angela Davis
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Who are 5 women who deeply inspire you?
Beatrice Valenzuela, Aja Barber, Sally Fox, Lauren Mcintosh, Erica Chidi
Do you have a wardrobe “workhorse” — an outfit or wardrobe staple you wear over and over again, or have re-bought?
Drawstring pants, white vintage Reeboks, and a big sun hat.