Becoming Linked

Emmett and I take in a letterpress demo at De Milo Studios. Check out all that MARBLED paper in the background! I had lunch yesterday with Annika Buxman of De Milo Design Studio and Letterpress. Wow...what a woman with an interesting story and gorgeous talent! Annika emailed me after the Arts Crawl to let me know she enjoyed my marbling demo and then asked me to lunch! It was such a delightful gesture that I couldn't refuse. After our tasty meals on the sunny patio of Fiore Market Cafe (the lunch spot I'm ALWAYS talking about), we went back to her studio and I got the chance to peek around her creative space. I love seeing other artists' studios...there's something so magical about them (and her space was so CLEAN and ORGANIZED!!).

I met Annika originally last October when Emmett and I passed by her studio at the previous Arts Crawl (when we were just "regular" participants) and was lured in by the layers of MARBLED PAPERS she had hanging on her walls. I. Was. Floored. There must have been 50 of them. Until then, I had not known of anyone else in the entire LA area who even knew what marbled paper was, let alone had an extensive inventory of original work. Turns out, she buys these papers from a Fair Trade organization in Bangladesh that provides working opportunities for women impacted by an oppressive cultural system. She then incorporates them into her Sustain & Heal line of invitations and stationary and other beautiful works of art. (Be sure to check out her Sustain & Heal blog.)

During our afternoon together, I was impressed by Annika's passionate commitment to her Sustain & Heal efforts. "It is very important to me," she said with such conviction that the tone of her voice and body language changed from light and airy to serious and driven when she spoke those words. And later when I commented on how inexpensive her papers were considering the headaches of importing, the challenges of working across language and cultural barriers, and the costs of shipping paper (which is deceptively HEAVY), she said her goal wasn't to make money off this adventure but to connect with these women and offer them business opportunities so they may support themselves and their children. I could feel the importance of her efforts in the pulsing energy she gave off.

When I launched Hope's Flame shortly after I left my Corporate America job, one of the driving forces behind it was raising awareness and money for four nonprofit organizations that were very close to my heart. I was donating 30% of my profits to these wonderful causes and it felt SO good that it propelled me on a daily basis. Like Annika and her marbled paper, I wasn't making candles to become rich. I simply wanted to cover my expenses and "pay it forward." The business philosophy touched the hearts of so many people, including Linda Mechanic, owner of Peach Tree Pottery and Studio, who would give me my first retail opportunity by selling Hope's Flame candles in her studio and by participating in her annual Holiday Show. In this way, I was able to reach even more people about the nonprofits I supported. It would also lead to very precious friendships with Linda and two other women who have been instrumental in my current life. It should come as no surprise that these women also have philanthropic projects they participate in.

So after returning home from my lunch with Annika, I realized that now that Hope's Flame is on hiatus, I am not ACTIVELY involved in promoting and building awareness about a nonprofit. Yes, I still donate my personal time and money to worthy causes, but I haven't LINKED my marbling to anything. And it's time to. I've been very busy, the past year especially, learning the ins and outs of becoming a marbling artist--from becoming better at the art form itself to marketing and selling my pieces--and now it feels right to add another layer, that of helping others, to this adventure.

I have the blessed luxury of a husband's gift of time and financial support in addition to his unwavering belief in me and constant encouragement. I don't take these gifts for granted and am conscious of making the most of them every day. I want to be able to offer something similar to someone or something else. Hope's Flame's mission was to support causes that contributed to the hope of another person, an animal, or the earth. I still like that mission statement and it continues to feel relevant to who I am and what I believe in. I will spend some time over the next few months figuring out how to incorporate it into my marbling.

Looks like I've just added another goal to my 41 for 41 list!