Sarah Burack greets us at her door, steaming mugs of lavender-chamomile tea in hand. Sarah tells us that the chamomile comes from a friend’s farm an hour outside of the city. She gathered the lavender herself in the south of France. “Besides the lavender,” she clarifies, “everything I consume is locally sourced.” She grins. “Would you like honey with that?”
Sarah explains that she’s only moved into her apartment a few days ago, but it’s clear that she’s already settling in. She’s mindful of every object she surrounds herself with: her vanity doubles as a sewing desk, her books range from prose poetry compilations to manuals for female sexual pleasure, and she paints much of her own wall art. She also collects mementos of her past lives. Among them, she keeps a Sanskrit manual from Chitawan, Nepal, where she honed the meditation techniques she imparts upon her yoga pupils; film photographs of mornings in a farmhouse in the south of France, where she pieced together mosaic murals from found glass; and items of clothing collected from estate sales, which she has frequented from a young age. Some of these possessions have attained impressive mileage: Sarah has already called three continents home.
She has lived in an inn, a caravan, a tent, an apartment filled with plants she propagated herself. Even so, Sarah says, her latest lodgings present a new realm of possibility. She gestures towards a studio space overflowing with supplies: pliers, chain purchased from estate sales, metal charms she solders herself (“In another life,” Sarah laughs, “I’d be a blacksmith. Or maybe later in this one.”) “Have you noticed the table?” she asks. It’s actually the door, taken off its hinges, resting on a pair of sawhorses. Sarah lights a candle and a stick of incense, watching the smoke plumes rise. “I want everything in my space to be purposeful,” Sarah tells us. “The door had no purpose in the doorway, but now it’s my workspace.”
Sarah’s workspace accommodates odds and ends intended for Pebble, Sarah’s Instagram-based shop. Pebble began as a marketplace for handmade upcycled accessories, but it is evolving rapidly as Sarah adopts new modes of craftsmanship. Her bottomless repertoire of skills includes sewing, metalwork, ceramics, painting, and beading. “My mother teaches art to grade schoolers, so I grew up surrounded by supplies,” she explains. “I inherited supplies from my grandmother: beads, metal, oil paints, interior paints, clay, markers…I grew up making. Pebble feels like a natural extension of my lifelong pursuits.”
Today, Sarah works with ceramic clay, which she shapes by hand before firing it in a kiln. She paints the ceramic charms in color palettes she mixes herself. Most makers choose to work with oven-safe clay or premixed paints; Sarah’s process is more time consuming, but it also breeds better results and allows her greater agency over the way each piece looks. “I love the creative control. I run Pebble on my own, so I’m responsible for everything,”she says, flattening the clay with a rolling pin. “I don’t just make the jewelry. I creative direct, I illustrate, I copywrite, and I source my own materials. Every aspect of Pebble reflects my vision for the brand.”
Sarah is particularly fascinated by Instagram. “I’m obsessed with the idea of using the platform as a social space,” she gushes. “Lately I’ve been reaching out to micro-influencers to offer discounted wares in return for product placement.” While @pebble_shop serves primarily to showcase her wares, Sarah infuses its content with the same candor: readers can imagine her curled up by her living room window, scribbling each line of copy into her red sketchbook, Sanskrit characters filling the opposite page. “I want Pebble to have a clear energy,” she explains, “but I want it to be malleable. I want it to have space to grow along with me, to accommodate whatever I’m working on.”
“I want Pebble to have a clear energy, but I want it to be malleable. I want it to have space to grow along with me.“
Sarah has ambitious plans for the future of Pebble. Eventually, she wants to introduce upcycled clothes “and goth stuff,” she adds, modeling a thick metal choker with an enormous heart charm. “I’ll launch this one with a photoshoot in a bathtub.” First, however, she’s putting the project on the back burner to attend an environment and health conference in Wyoming at which Ethnobotanists, tribal leaders and other young professionals will discuss ways we can treat ourselves and our planet better. “In Eastern philosophy those objectives are the same thing,” Sarah observes. “The individual is indistinguishable from the whole. Taking good care of yourself equates to taking care of the environment.” The reverse, she posits, is also true: healing the planet is a form of self-healing.
There are myriad ways to do either. “What you buy, what you eat, what you wear…everything you do has the potential to be intentional and the potential to put good into the world,” Sarah tells us. “Nothing you do has to be circumstantial. But then again, anything can be circumstantial. You can follow a purpose and manifest results or you can just trust your intuition and feel it out from there.” Sarah admits to doing both. Right now though, she’s doing the latter, and she’s excited for the possibilities that await her. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive readings lately,”
Words by Mikki Janower
Directed by Virginia Pittman
Photographed by Anjali Reddy
Styled by Claudia Ribas-Armegnol