By Kayla Sosa | photography by Elyse Wild
Woosah is the nature-inspired art brand and clothing line that is quickly gaining momentum in Grand Rapids. It’s also the lifestyle lived out by the artist and entrepreneur herself, Erica Lang, whose positive and relaxed mindset feed into her business.
After high school, Lang moved to Grand Rapids to study industrial design at Kendall College of Art and Design. As she developed her artistic style, she began to work on Woosah-inspired art on the side.
“For me, my creative outlet was creating from my imagination inspired by nature,” Lang said. “After school, I would go home to create stuff, and it was very meditative and relaxing. I would sign those pieces ‘woosah,’ and then it just took over all my free time and I decided that I wanted to pursue that.”
Lang changed her major to printmaking and learned how to carve woodcuts, which is now her primary artistic medium.
“Nature is very relaxing and grounding and can help you appreciate the present moment.”
“When I first carved a woodcut, it was like everything just clicked,” Lang said. “The images I had seen in my head that I wanted to create, I was trying to do that through painting or drawing but really what I was after was the graphic that a wood block creates.”
The process of wood carving is detail-oriented and requires great focus.
“You have to be present with the block when you’re carving, because if you slip you can’t put that back,” Lang said. “But it’s also very graphic because what you’re leaving behind is going to be a solid line.”
After college, Lang established Woosah as a brand and started to put her carvings on t-shirts, hats and more. She started to sell her work on Etsy and do pop-up shops around the city before settling in a space on Division Avenue.
Today, Woosah Outfitters is located at 738 Wealthy Street. Lang and her fiancée live in the upper level of the live-work space, and they co-own and operate Outside Coffee, located next to the shop.
“Kelly and I always talk about how cool it is to have this space to offer to people and to be two female, lesbian business owners,” Lang said. “We want especially the queer community to feel welcome here and that this is a safe space for them.”
Lang’s laid-back lifestyle is reflected in the layout of Outside Coffee, with various seating styles available and coffee served out of a vintage RV. Families, pets and people working on their laptops are all welcome there. Lang wants to spread the peace and positivity to anyone who enters her store.
“If you say it slowly, it’s like an inhale and an exhale,” Lang said. “It’s really relaxing and meditative. And that’s what art was for me, and still is.”
But now, it’s grown into more than just that; it’s become a lifestyle and “a way of approaching your day.”
“Nature is very relaxing and grounding and can help you appreciate the present moment,” Lang said. “I feel like Woosah is all of those things — being present, appreciating the natural beauty and breathing.”