What was your last act of self-care?
In September I turned 49 and decided it was time to overhaul my skincare. I dumped just about everything. I had been using the same products for too long, treating my skin like I was when I was 40. My skin had changed and I had different issues that needed addressing. I did a lot of research and invested in what my skin needs. My skin craved hydration and nourishment. Almost 2 months later and I am very pleased with what I see, but most importantly, my skin looks healthier and more radiant.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
If I was not a calligrapher, I might be teaching pilates. I had been doing equipment pilates for 11 years before this year. I love it and miss it so much!
What’s your fondest memory of growing up?
Spending time with my mother. Watching her cook, watching her take care of our home, playing with her jewelry and makeup. Her tenacity, her determination, her work ethic is amazing. I wish I could go back in time and soak up more of her. She taught me so much that I am still realizing just how much of her is in me today.
How important a role does creativity play in your life?
It is so important, I very much need to express my creativity. I regularly rearrange my home, moving furniture and decorative objects. My studio gets revamped often. You gotta play with how different objects relate and play off each other, what works and what does not. I learn so much from the failures. Even during this past year, when the commissioned work was at times absent, I still was at my desk every day, creating letters with a pen or brush, making little messes of paint.
As an artisan, what lessons have you learned from our world changing almost overnight?
That the world needs art. Without artists there is no love, no caring, no expression, no courage. I don’t want to live in a world without art and those that create it.
When did you start your calligraphy business?
Ah, I was always told by more senior calligraphers that one is not “professional
calligrapher” until you have a FEIN (Federal ID number) and pay taxes. So that
happened in 2015. Looking back, what silly advice to give someone. It now seems like others creating barriers.
What were some of the growing pains?
ACCOUNTING! Still my nemesis!
What has been your most memorable sale?
Well, it was not a sale exactly. A long time ago, I was in a department store personalizing holiday cards for clients who purchased a particular brand of fragrance. It was a very busy Saturday. Near the end of the day, I notice a woman passing by my little table several times. She was curious what was going on. I waved to her to come over and I explained to her what I was doing. I offered to write her name on a blank card. She was thinking about what name she wanted me to write. She told me that she did not use her given name, because she is named after her father, and kids used to make fun of her name, and because of that she thought it was an ugly name, and that stuck with her as an adult. I asked her what her name is, and wrote it for her in glittering gold ink. I handed her the small card, and she stared at it for a moment. Tears began to well up in her eyes. “I have never thought my name was beautiful, until now. I have never been proud to have my father’s name, until now. Thank you so much, thank you for this gift”. Being a complete softie, I of course welled up with tears as well. I was so moved by her and what me writing her name did for her heart. From that moment on, I knew my purpose. My purpose in my calligraphy is to make someone’s heart smile. Her name was Devina, which is a beautiful name. Thank YOU Devina, I will never forget you. Being able to work at on-site events and connecting with others is one thing I really miss in 2020.
What difficulties, if any, have you encountered as a female artisan
Balancing work and family. What was my most “successful” year for my business was also the hardest year for our family. I was absent from family life, trying to burn the candle at both ends and failing. My husband missed me. My kids missed me. After returning from Los Angeles late on a Sunday evening, my son, who was 3 at the time, asked me to not travel and teach classes anymore, and that was it. My children deserved their mother, and from that point on I never put them second. I had to come to terms with not doing everything I wanted. I had to redefine what I deemed “success”. It was the best decision I made.
How important is it for you to support other female creative entrepreneurs?
It is very important because this.is.so.hard! Being a female creative entrepreneur you have to wear a dozen different hats, juggle all of it, and do it with a smile. By supporting other women entrepreneurs you are recognizing the struggle and just how much hard work it takes for us to succeed.