We had the good fortune of connecting with Margaret To and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Margaret, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I founded Studio SAKA in 2019, a design + video production studio amplifying social and environmental stories. Starting Studio SAKA really began with finding purpose in my work. Discovering what I love, what I’m good at, realizing what the world needs, and how I can best serve others. As a kid I have always loved art, design, and our natural world. With the immense challenges that our planet is facing with the climate crisis, I have felt powerless and frustrated about what my role is to help solve an issue that seems insurmountable. I realized the biggest impact I can make is using my voice and creativity to make a difference. I started Studio SAKA to help scientists, nonprofits, and governments to better communicate social and climate solutions. I’m a designer and animator, and with my partner Eldon Arena is a cinematographer. We believe telling stories through film and design is one of the most powerful tools to inspire action and make positive change. Our goal is to help transform these complex issues and solutions into relatable stories, and continue using creative storytelling as a force for good.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Two exciting projects I’d like to share: the first one is the Urban Farmers’ Almanac for Angelenos. The Urban Farmers’ Almanac is a comprehensive guide to sustainable living in Los Angeles featured in LA Magazine. It is for anyone who’s interested in growing their own food, living more sustainably, and supporting local LA businesses & organizations that are doing amazing work. It’s a collaboration with urban planner Jamie Hwang and Climate Designers now available for free download on shegrowscities.com/almanac and for print order.
Another exciting project is the Rangers animated series by Re:wild (instagram.com/rewild). This series offers a glimpse into the broad scope of ranger life and impact – who they are, what they do, why it matters – and how we, as citizens of the planet, can support, honor, and empower the wildlife frontline. It was such an honor to work on an animation that gives spotlight to these unsung heroes, and drive much-needed support for rangers from policy-makers and government agencies around the world.
I’m grateful to get to work on meaningful projects that align with my passion and purpose. It took years to build up the work and experience, but the lesson I’ve learned is to never wait for a perfect opportunity to start listening to your intuition. Start doing work that fuels you, and don’t be afraid to share with the world!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I have a week to take my best friend around LA, I would bring her to some of the hidden gems in San Fernando Valley (where I live), some LA must-sees, and a further excursion if we have time! In San Fernando Valley, our first stop is to visit the Old Town Calabasas Farmers Market and grab some fresh fruits and small bites for a picnic at Lake Balboa, a biking trip along the Orange Line Busway Bike Path Trail, then get dinner at Follow Your Heart Market & Café (they have been serving all natural, vegetarian food in LA for over 50 years!). In LA, we would do a historic trip down Olvera Street at El Pueblo de Los Ángeles (also known as the birthplace of LA). It is a cultural hub in the heart of downtown LA with many free museums. Also a great spot for photographers!
For outdoor activities, the Tuna Canyon Park and Eagle Rock Trail are both great trails with amazing views. For a further excursion, I would bring my friend to visit the Channel Islands.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Climate Designers! I cannot appreciate how much this community has inspired and supported me. Climate Designers (climatedesigners.org) is a hub for creative professionals from all industries, committed to using our creative skills for climate action. I have met peers from different industries from all parts of the world through this group. Climate Designers gave me a space to learn from other creatives, and introduced me to projects that we can collectively take action to fight for climate crisis and environmental justice. Most importantly, the community has given me affirmation that what I do is possible and necessary as we face these climate challenges together. Shoutout to Climate Designers founders Marc O’Brien and Sarah Harrison for creating this community, and my LA Chapter Leads Margie Peng and Rachel Cellinese for their constant support <3
Other: Margaret’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/megatoe.design