FIREFLY HANDMADE Featured Artisan x SO VERY LOVELY (Full Article)
Please share the story of how SO VERY LOVELY was started - What inspired you to begin?
In 2018, I (Jenna) was slowly shifting out of the depths of postpartum anxiety after having my second kiddo. We had a job shake up, I was unable to work due to my mental health struggle, and quite frankly we were at a rock bottom in our lives. The end is so often the beginning of something new and magical, but in the moment it can be nearly impossible to feel hope. RJ and I experienced a significant existential death; there were many many ways of being that no longer served us, but we didn’t yet have the insight on what was next. It was an extremely confusing, isolating, terrifying and grief stricken time in our lives where we just had to be “in” all the feelings. The lovely part? We had health, two absolutely beautiful boys and each other. We rooted into the joys where we could and in parallel we navigated the sadness. Luckily, the universe had bigger plans for us.
Around this time I desperately began navigating how to get myself back out into the world. I was in a totally new skin and unsure of so many things. Pre-kiddos, I had a rich creative life, including being an abstract painter, a muralist, I co-produced a zine, hosted many creative events and exhibited my work. Being a multi-faceted creative was part of my authentic self, and after many years away from creativity, I intuitively sought creative inspiration as a life raft. During this time I began walking artisan markets to bask in the talent and joy of local makers, to be in their presence, to be in the presence of innovation, and to remember the creative parts of myself.
It’s important to note here that RJ is very much a multifaceted creative in his own right. In fact, we met at a party, AfroBlu, which he DJ’d at and co-produced. AfroBlu hosted live artists, DJs, live musicians and invited people to express themselves in so many ways. Additionally, RJ has taught many folks how to use emerging technologies; 3D printers, laser engravers, metal mills and so much more at CU Denver and CU Boulder. He is an innate observer of life, art, nature, architecture, design and so much more. RJ is truly a renaissance human with skill sets and interests that span and intersect within a wide spectrum of arts and technology.
On a whim, in the spring of 2018, I signed up for an anti-networking event. That night, a panel of all female creative entrepreneurs spoke about their successes, their failures, their creativity, their joy and their pain. I was in awe of the women before me. I also saw myself in them. The difference between me and the women before me? They were doing the work. They didn’t have all the answers, it didn’t always work out, but they believed that they could and they used their resources to bring their unique ideas to life.
That night I felt a spark that I hadn’t felt in a LONG time, more than a feeling it was a deep knowing. I got home and immediately said to RJ “Let’s start a professional laser engraving Studio, we can start by making signage for folks at creative markets.” We instantly knew this was our next step, that our professional laser engraver would serve as an artistic medium from which we could create a variety of offerings. One month later, we had invested in and secured our professional laser engraving machine, and launched Laser Lab (formerly laserlab.io, now Laser Lab. Studio). We secured our first client, almost immediately, and we were off and running.
Fast forward to 2019, several of our clients began asking us to Pop-Up. Because Laser Lab offered services mainly in the business to business space, ie: collaborating with businesses to produce signage and products for their brand, we needed to intentionally design some products that we wanted to make and that were unique to us.
Pop-Ups allowed us to begin exploring the retail space. In this space, we designed and produced so many ideas, even a pet-tag line, and used those experiences to really experiment with what felt right for us. Ultimately, we returned to Wood Cards, Air Plants, and Air Plant Holders - we simply enjoyed designing and producing these products, and over and over again our customers lit up when they purchased these items from us.
From pop-ups, we graduated to farmers markets and officially began participating in creative markets. Slowly it became clear that our retail side was actually quite different from the services that we offer through Laser Lab.Studio. We created So Very Lovely as a dba of Laser Lab.Studio to start to feel into the possibilities of a new direction. We navigated the pandemic and survived it. I finally discovered anti-anxiety medication as one of many tools to regulate my nervous system, and with each market experience we learned more about who we are, what we have to offer, and who really enjoys our work.
I understand that you recently went through a rebranding of your business and expansion of your products. What can you tell us about that?
In 2023, we officially made SO VERY LOVELY its own business entity. With this move came the opportunity to better understand the core of what this business is all about. We are firm believers that: Brand is an Inside Job. By that we mean, the more your brand is unique to you, your insights, your philosophy, the more it will energetically resonate with the folks that are supposed to find you. Our superpower is having the ongoing audacity to follow our curiosities regardless of the outcome. So we looked inward for our current curiosities, for the concepts that we are naturally beginning to explore. We looked towards the products that we already make and the ones that are on the horizon via these explorations. Here is our current foundation, one which will surely get clearer and evolve as we go.
SO VERY LOVELY artisan goods for your home sanctuary
SO VERY LOVELY is an online retail store and in person pop up shop.
At SO VERY LOVELY, we believe that beauty, design and greening one’s space, even in the smallest of spaces, is one avenue towards curating an authentic, joyful life.
SO VERY LOVELY current product lines include: Mailable Wood Art Cards, Mini Easels, Unique Hanging/Magnetic/Tabletop Air plant Holders + Air Plants, Mirrors, Affirmation Banners, Wood Lidded/Food Safe Jars, and much more to come.
Within the SO VERY LOVELY brand…
- We design with purpose: We explore the concepts of honoring the magic of self-reflection, simplicity, beauty, things-multifaceted, patterns, imperfections, romance, depth, authenticity, little things adding up to big things, fun, feelings and showing up even when it’s messy. We are 70% minimalist, and 30% maximalist.
- From these explorations, our offerings are born.
- We explore and offer the concept of “home”
- Home is a feeling of being loved, at peace, seen, valued, safe, supported.
- Cultivating a sense of home within ourselves is important to well being.
- Intentionally curating the spaces that we spend a lot of time in to create a sense of home is important to well being.
- From these explorations, our offerings are born.
- Our whys:
- Creative expression, experimentation, evolution, knowing that trial and error is all a part of creativity.
- Brené Brown says life is “Brutiful” - it is a string of twinkle lights, beautiful points of light/life with many brutal in betweens often strung together simultaneously.
- How can we, via SO VERY LOVELY, explore concepts through product development and in so doing contribute to bits of joy, bits of remembering our true light, bits of compassion in this wild world we live in?
These are the things that our hearts want to know about in this season of our lives.
In creating your wood, laser-cut cards, what is the process you follow to choose your sentiments and sayings?
RJ and I are both deep thinkers, observers, and have a knack for reading the energies that exist in between things - we often ask, “What’s missing here?” One of the first wood cards that we designed during the pandemic reads, “It’s okay to feel all of those feelings.” During a time where the world was experiencing such a massive shake up, so many unknowns, we wondered where we could contribute. Having experienced quite a bit of adversity in our lives made us especially equipped to be present to the collective rock bottom energy that was happening in the world.
The sentiments and sayings on the Wood Cards are often a way to capture and give hugs in a unique way - to provide a healing balm to both the individual and the collective. We find inspiration on that front in lots of ways: Family sayings, things our inner child yearns to hear, reminders of how incredible you already are - nothing needs to be fixed - you are already lovely and amazing, explore the fascinating relationship between humans and plants, filling in the blanks with what is missing.
What do you like about participating in Firefly Handmade Markets?
We love that Firefly Handmade Markets are curated thoughtfully and managed well. As an artisan, it is not a guarantee to get in every round, you need to put your best foot forward every time. The well vetted, juried process creates a buzz of excitement. We are extra appreciative that Firefly Handmade Markets are both hosted in naturally high trafficked locations and also marketed well, because bringing your A game to an empty market is no fun. As a collective of artisans, having so many talented creatives in one setting really helps to uplevel us all. On market day you can feel the excitement, and the artisans know that they are amongst a remarkable group of makers. Shoppers feel this excitement too. They see the quality, the inspiration, the incredible range of beautiful options in every category, and this is what keeps Firefly Handmade shoppers coming back again and again.
When you attend a market, what is your most cherished part of the experience, as a vendor and as a shopper?
As a vendor, markets require a lot of emotional and physical energy. So, why do we love them so much? The dynamic energetic conversation between what we make and put forward, how it is received, by whom it is received, and then rolling those insights back into our making - it is pure magic. Our greatest joy is witnessing first hand what lights our customers up, because that helps us know what and how we can make with even more intentionality.
As a shopper it is such a fun experience to see the unique artistic point of view of each maker. The diversity of thought, skill sets, creative output, signage and displays, and energies is mind boggling. We prefer to spend our dollars with small businesses as shopping small is a direct investment in cultivating a diverse and rich community.
What else do you want to share with us?
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share our story. We know, it’s deep, it’s vulnerable, and it’s the plane we live on. We have learned so much from the stories of other creatives, our hope is that our story has a positive impact on someone out there in some way. Thanks for being a part of our ongoing journey! XOXO, Jenna & RJ