An Evening With…Zac Little

Sometimes the smallest actions or statements make the biggest impact. It could be a phrase a friend says in passing or a stranger offering directions when you need them most. You never know how your actions and words will hit someone and what will stick with them.

For example, a dear mentor of mine threw out the phrase, “stay with your thread.” Ever since she said it, that line has been winding through my mind. It’s as if she tossed me a rope to hold on to whenever I find myself sinking into doubt. What she did was remind me of a message, one we often forget.

It is this idea: the concept that life can be as simple as moving ahead, little by little. Following your thread, stitch by stitch. Listening to what you know to be true in your core, and staying focused on what you are doing, even if that means you have no idea where you are headed or what your stitches are creating.

Sure, you have ideas and goals. You envision your  thread forming the seams of a beautiful skirt or maybe you can see it becoming intricate embroidery on a tapestry. But the trick is you can’t know when you are zoomed in, and it can be hard to accept that it is okay not to know what you are creating. More than okay, actually. In fact, that’s just the way things work, and sometimes it can work beautifully. It can lead you to a new friend, and a new blog post…

Meet Zac Little. He is an embodiment of this sentiment. He is “staying with his thread” and living life on his own terms. During an evening back in August, I shadowed Zac and learned a little about his life and his passions. With fresh eyes on this experience now, I am even more impressed by Zac’s drive to do what he loves and his ability to remain humble and grateful along the way.

It is my pleasure to take you back a few months, for an evening with Zac Little. You will learn more about his jewelry business Hero King Embellishments and his band, Saintseneca.

Let’s begin with the background info:

Name: Zac Little

Age: 25

Passion: Music and Jewelry Making

Location: Columbus, OH

How we met: I first became acquainted with Zac through his band, Saintseneca. My friend told me about this local band I had to listen to and invited me to a show. I had no idea what I was in for at the time. Usually when a friend suggests a local band, I’m a bit skeptical. Yeah they might be somewhat enjoyable, but rarely do they knock my socks off or hold my attention. But Saintseneca did just that. I became an instant fan. Like blueberries into muffin batter, I found myself wrapped up and folded into their captivating sound. With a slightly folky and contemplative vibe, the music connects you to something I can only describe as a beautiful simplicity. (aaand..clearly, I’m not the best at describing music, so I suggest you just take a listen).

I didn’t meet Zac individually until we got to talking at a mutual friend’s party. That’s when I learned about his jewelry business, Hero King Embellishments. Like his music, his designs are rustic in nature with a simple elegance. I would love to add a piece to my jewelry collection one day.

After this encounter, I knew I had to find out more about Zac and his amazing music + jewelry combo. I was thrilled when he agreed to let me into his world for an evening. Won’t you join me?

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Our evening began at Zac’s home and “work studio.” I immediately felt welcome and, with no hesitation, the conversation started flowing. I love it when that happens.

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One thing that you immediately notice about Zac is his wardrobe. He always wears the same ensemble. All black. Black pants, black shoes, black shirt, black vest. When asked about it, Zac explained how it adds a sense of ease and simplicity to his life. He has a uniform and never has to worry about what to wear. It also makes him recognizable. It is a bold decision to say the least, and one that I respect. Although most people could never imagine a life without a variety of fashion choices (myself included), it is true, that after the initial surprise of seeing someone in the same thing from week to week wears off, a uniform shifts the focus to the person and not the shell encasing that person. It immediately draws you to a deeper layer.

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On the night I arrived, Zac was making a whistle necklace, which someone had ordered on his Etsy shop. All of his items are handmade to order, giving each piece a unique identity. Before he got started, Zac put on some music — an essential for getting lost in his work. On this night, Angel Olsen was the music selection (to my delight).

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I was intrigued about his background and inspiration for his jewelry. Zac explained that he was a sculpture major at OSU and Hero King Embellishments was born in 2009 out of his love for creating on a small scale. Growing up on a farm in South East Ohio, he was always interested in tools and the “mysterious side of utilitarian things.”

“I’m more interested in things where you don’t know if it is functional or why it would be.”

This found-object feel definitely comes across in his work. From a ring that looks like an old worn latch to a compass necklace, each piece is imbued with an elegant practicality and the intrigue that comes with the thought, “what the hell is that?”.

Sensky_Hero_King_Embellishments_Columbus_Music_5Although he doesn’t feel that his work holds a deep sense of purpose or meaning, Zac admitted that he likes the simplicity. He has made a deliberate choice to live small.

But small doesn’t mean inconsequential.

This business allows Zac to sustain himself in order to focus on his music. It offers the flexibility of taking off for a few months to go on tour or to record an album. Now, that is what I call freedom.

Sensky_Hero_King_Embellishments_Columbus_Music_8Hero King Embellishments has grown organically, entirely through word of mouth. This method speaks to the idea of creating something of value and letting people find you. It offers people a sense of discovery. A sort of “finders, keepers” philosophy.

Sensky_ Hero King Embellishments_ Columbus Music_ Collage_4Not only does his jewelry business allow Zac the flexibility to work on his music, but there is also an undeniable creative connection between the two.

“In both playing music live and in making jewelry, it is impossible to create perfection. Just as it is impossible to perform the same sound identically, there are nuances that create differences in each piece of jewelry “

This subtlety is what keeps people coming back for more.

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It is easy to knock cliches, to roll your eyes at their redundancy. But, in the end, they are there for a reason. And right now, one is coming through loud and clear. Zac is living proof that it doesn’t matter what you do. But it really is about how you do it. I like to think that success follows true passion and hard work. Two things that Zac has in plenty.

Another snippet from that night drives this point home:

“Whether or not it was my job, I’d be doing it.”

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Zac reminds me that your “thread” is the raw material, the real substance. It is leading you somewhere, and creating something of beauty in the process. But, in the end, that is the only truth you can hold on to.

You can check out Zac’s work on his Etsy Shop and on his site.

Right now, Saintseneca is currently touring the US. If they are in your area, do yourself a favor and check them out! For real. Just do it. You won’t be disappointed.

This topic still has me pondering…

Tell me: What do you think about marrying your passion with your work? We always hear “follow your passion” from every career counselor and motivational speaker around, and it now has become one of those eye-rolling phrases. But is this work philosophy still feasible in today’s world? Is it still a dream worth pursuing? I have my ideas but I’d love to hear yours.

Cheers!

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