We had the good fortune of connecting with Sabrina Mar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sabrina, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Not too long ago, I read a quote by a very famous academic and psychologist, which I adopted into my arsenal of favorite sayings because it perfectly encapsulates everything I believe in:
“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
I love this quote because it’s so simple, yet so true, and can be applied to endless things in addition to career. I followed this mantra, long before I learned of the quote, but reading it for the first time really solidified my credence in the power of perseverance. I’ve met many people over the years who are enormously talented, creative people with wonderful ideas, but in my opinion, the truly successful ones all have one thing in common- they just never give up. There is no obstacle that is unsurmountable to them, no hill they aren’t willing to climb to get where they’re going. My career has taught me to live by this conviction– I’ve seen its benefits– and I believe that a large part of success is about having grit. It’s about never giving in, believing in something so much that you cannot be deterred by barriers.
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.
I make handmade woodturning pieces that are one-of-a-kind. The wonderful thing about trees and wood is that there is no perfect piece, so you’re always working around defects, which is the most appealing part. People who purchase my pieces are looking for something uniquely handmade especially for them- an heirloom that they can cherish for a lifetime.
The thing that sets me apart from others is that I’m a bit of a unicorn professionally- I have a fulfilling career in television and I’m also a woodworker with a small business (not a very common combo). These two fields are more similar than you’d think- they both require lots of problem solving. I work mainly in tv post-production, where we’re constantly doing the mental gymnastics of trying to fit pieces of an episode together in the most interesting way possible. We shape our episodes by weaving story arcs across characters, making our subjects compelling, underscoring it with music and emotion, all while driving the story narrative forward. As a producer, you’re always juggling several balls in the air with no predictable outcome. Woodworking shares many of the same problem-solving issues- even the most skilled woodworker makes mistakes, but how well you recover from the blunders is the true test of expertise.
My career path has always been unconventional. I’ve had so many different types of jobs in my life. I’ve worked as a certified athletic trainer, a character animator on the South Park animated series, and now as a freelance television producer. I’ve been lucky enough to have pivoted to different professions over my career- but not without some luck and the help of several guardian angels along the way who took risks and gave me opportunities. For this reason, I’m always mindful to pay it forward when I can, because you never know when kindness from a stranger can make someone’s life better.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is easy! I was born and raised in LA, and I love to eat, so my favorite thing to do is drive around the city looking for new places to stuff my face. If I had a friend in town, here’s where I’d go:
Start the day at Grand Central Market, where I get the Business & Pleasure at G&B coffee and breakfast at Eggslut. After breakfast, I hit either the Broad Museum, Japanese American National Museum or MOCA. Then I head over to Chinatown and grab a hojicha latte at Thank you Coffee and peruse the goods at the world’s cutest stationery store, Paper Please Shop. There’s no better way to finish off the day than with some hot chicken at Howlin’ Rays and an LA Kings Game. Beer and nachos are required when watching hockey.
Stroll the Sawtelle Blvd shopping area and feel young and cool again at Giant Robot, then feast on ramen at Tsujita. For dessert, I highly recommend doing an ice dream crawl! The best spots are all within a couple miles of each other in Venice- Sweet Rose Creamery, Wanderlust, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, and Salt & Straw. Definitely catch a UCLA basketball game at Pauley Pavilion (I’m an alumnus and a diehard fan). Grab a post-game meal at Tito’s Tacos (a Bruin student landmark), or a burger at The Window at American Beauty in Venice. Then head to Culver City Platform and grab a fancy drink at the beautiful rooftop bar at Margot.
Hit my favorite spot in Highland Park where the most perfect pizza and coffee live next to each other. Get a slice at Triple Beam Pizza and my favorite Almond Macadamia Latte at Go Get ‘Em Tiger. Check out Galco’s Soda Stop and pick up some cool nostalgic treats for later. On the way home, make sure and try the Szechwan Hot chicken Sando at Daybird; It will change your life.
Day 4-MID- CITY:
Visit the uber cool Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Even if you’re not a hardcore film and TV fan, it’s still really entertaining. Drive up the street and get lunch at Jon & Vinny’s on Fairfax, then work off the meal by sneaker and vintage clothes shopping. After, hit up Koreatown and order the Galbi Jjim at Sun Nong Dan. If you’re not into Asian food, there’s also Langers Deli (Get the #19!) or the lomo saltado at Mario’s Peruvian.
Day 5-SOUTH BAY:
This is my ‘hood! There’s nothing better than waking up and getting a breakfast burrito at Phanny’s in Redondo Beach. For coffee, visit Corridor Flow in Torrance, and at the same time, say hi to Marissa, the owner of Good Morning Cactus, the wonderful little pop up plant store inside. She sells beautiful plants, including our Park Street Goods vessels which she turns into mini works of art with the cutest cacti. In the South Bay, a beach day is the best day. Surf Torrance beach or bike up the coast, where you can get a delicious smash burger and duck fat fries at Proudly Serving or keep going and treat yourself to the Trust Me at Sugarfish in Manhattan Beach. If you love beautiful sunsets, stroll along the Palos Verdes Cliffs, then get dinner at Shinsengumi in Gardena, which happens to be next door to my favorite local ice cream place, Kansha Creamery. Every flavor is delicious but I’m partial to the Mr. Universal. A percentage of their sales go to charities around the world, so you get good karma with your ice cream.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m a firm believer in the “All Together Now” approach. No one person can claim responsibility for their success without the help of community. I’m thankful for many people, but in particular these two groups:
MY TELEVISION COMMUNITY:
My work colleagues and fellow collaborators who on a daily basis, make me look smart and capable. A special Shoutout to all the below-the-line individuals who work tirelessly, adjacent to the spotlight, to constantly churn out amazing work without the expectation of recognition day after day, purely out of love for their craft and the need to create compelling content–those who know that no one person on the team is more important than another.
MY WOODWORKING COMMUNITY:
All the fine folks at the El Camino College woodshop, where I learned to woodwork, including Professor Jack Selph, my uber-talented mentor and friend who has a special gift for teaching and can make the most inexperienced student enthusiastic about learning. Without the unconditional love and support of this diverse community of like-minded artisans, I could not thrive in my television career. Woodworking has changed the course of my life and given me something truly fulfilling. The woodshop has become my respite–a much-needed oasis away from the pressures of television. It’s a space to be inspired, create and be free amidst a wealth of ingenuity. Woodworkers are the best people- and over the years, they’ve become my personal cheerleading squad, for which I am enormously appreciative.