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Meet Three Maker Prodigies Who Kickstarted Their Careers as Kids

With its upcoming show Intro, West Coast Craft shines a spotlight on the next generation of (very young) designers.


Sparks fly in 18-year-old knife maker Everett Noel’s home workshop.

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Everett Noel

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Micaela Hoo

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Trinity Esola

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Editor’s Note: This is one of several stories about the future of our metropolis, which San Francisco is publishing over the next month as part of the April 2017 Urban Design Issue. To read stories as they become available online, click here.

Intro, a craft
and commerce fair for makers aged 14 to 24 put on by the team behind the wildly popular West Coast Craft, will begin its inaugural two-day run on September 30 at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion. “We had been talking as a team for a long time about wanting to support young artists and designers,” says Paulina Nassar, who cofounded both shows with fellow designers Nick Sarno and Sergio Traverso. As young adults themselves, they all had side projects and businesses—Nassar started stationery business at the age of 12, creating catalogs and taking orders at school. “We wanted to provide a formal venue while guiding them along the way,” she says. And while the team is in the process of setting up a mentorship program for experienced WCC vendors to school the incoming Intro class in skills like Square and shop setup, the younger set may already be a step ahead when it comes to marketing and media outreach. 

“Social media is such a loaded topic, but for artists at least, it’s one of the best things ever,” says Trinity Esola, who is 18 and will have a booth at the show. “We get to see other people and what they are doing, we have access to high-quality cameras, we can throw up a website online, and we can watch a YouTube video and learn how to do pretty much anything. I think my generation is in a really good place to be entrepreneurial and self-advocate in the world.” The kids are all right, indeed.

Meet three of the young makers preparing for Intro:

The Kid with the Knife: Everett Noel, 18  
While his self-produced YouTube videos are mesmerizing, Everett Noel credits his creative streak to growing up in the foothills of the Sierras with no television. He makes every part of his knives by hand in a small workshop his father built him on their 24-acre property outside of North San Juan in Nevada County.

Analog medium: Making steel-and-wood utility knives with leather sheaths. “There is a picture of a guy skinning a huge elk with them. It’s pretty cool.”
Digital medium: YouTube (Everett Noel Knives). “My friends and I were sitting around looking for something to do. We saw a YouTube video of someone making knives and thought it would be cool.”
Prodigy status: Started making knives when he was 13 and participated in his first WCC at 16. Intro founders say Noel was the inspiration for the new show.
Lives with: Mom, dad, little brother, and grandpa.
On the horizon: After graduation from Nevada Union High School later this year, he plans to take a gap year and travel around the West Coast in a trailer kitted out for knife making. “After that, I will get more of a feel for how possible it is to make a lot of money at it, and go from there.”

The Body-Butter Churner: Micaela Hoo
, 22
Personal health issues inspired Micaela Hoo and her mom, Dawn Hoo, to start researching and creating beauty products from their home kitchen in Moraga. Today they’re still boiling up their signature Drifter Organics body butters over their kitchen stove. “We require a certified gluten-free, vegan kitchen—currently our own is the most sterile place we’ve found,” Micaela says.

Analog medium: A homemade line of body butters called Drifter Organics, for which Micaela runs the graphic design side of things.
Digital medium: Instagram (@ohmydrifter) and blogging (
Prodigy status: Instead of traditional high school classes, Hoo designed her own curriculum through an independent study program, launching her fashion blog at age 14. “Some days are really insane and I work 12-plus hours.”
Lives with: Mom, dad, and dog, Aubrey. “It’s not hard to meet up with your business partner when you’re in the same house.”
On the horizon: She’s enrolled in an online college program for graphic design and plans to graduate in 2019. 

The Renaissance Girl: Trinity Esola, 18

In her short 18 years on earth, Trinity Esola has dabbled in nearly every art medium, from painting to jewelry making to zines. Her high school in Santa Cruz, Kirby School, is a haven for creatives and provides all the tools of her trades. “They have a pottery wheel and a kiln and a loom and a book arts studio with a printing press,” she says. But she’s been promised her very own kiln as a graduation present, a gift from a potter friend. “We are not all interested in becoming doctors and lawyers—I think these days there is a lot more acceptance of following your heart and finding what you are good at,” she says.

Analog medium: Ceramics, bookmaking, fiber arts.
Digital medium: Instagram (@_trinitysky_). “And almost everything I know how to do I learned from YouTube.”
Prodigy status: Started selling her work at craft fairs at age seven. “I didn’t really make the connection that this was something that adults did and could actually make money at.”
Lives with: Mom, stepdad, two siblings, five chickens, and a dog named Sadie.
On the horizon: Taking a gap year after graduation to backpack around Europe with a friend. Then it’s off to college—but not art college. “When I am just taking art classes, I sometimes get a little lost and wonder what I’m making art about—then I go to history class and get super inspired.


Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco

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