In today’s post we meet the final 14 inspiration women that I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing in 2020. This year has been a difficult one, but I hope that through sharing about the passion of the amazing artists, authors, creatives, foodies and entrepreneurs throughout the year you’ve been given the inspiration you need to go after your dreams whatever they may be.
Your website Pizzazzerie is a go-to site for entertaining in style and creating delicious party foods was launched after you left your full time job as a career counselor. At what point during your previous career did you release that you wanted to found your own entertaining/food blog?
About a year into my job, I realized that I wanted to have a career that was more creative after I found myself dreading being stuck in an office all day in a job that lacked creativity. The job itself wasn’t fulfilling to me, and it didn’t spark a passion. I believe we should all absolutely love our jobs, and if we don’t love our job, we aren’t in the right one! I wasn’t sure that my entertaining blog would ever become a full-time job, it began as a hobby, but I’m so thankful it led me to where I am today!
At what point did you decide that you wanted to start a brand with natural remedies that are backed by science (and formulated by medical professionals?)
The original idea was inspired by an Emergen-C pack; we realized that it was odd that although we turned to clean labels in all areas of our lives from our foods to beauty to household products, we were still turning to health products with synthetic ingredients, sugars, fillers and dyes, in moments when we were most trying to be healthy. We realized medicine cabinets were stuck in the past! We had all had compelling experiences using natural remedies for common needs, so knew there were options missing from our pharmacy shelves that we could bring to people in a clearer, more trustworthy way if it was grounded in research and science. We spent over a year validating the idea with research, honing the business plan, and assembling a team of scientists to lend their expertise and perspective to the product development process.
First of all I love that you offer unscented candles, but you also offer a variety of different scents in three categories (classic+fresh, earth+woods and summer+floral). How do you come up with the different scent profiles?
Sometimes, I have specific scents in my mind. I usually start with a base of what I know I want, such as an Orange scent. From there, I pair it with combinations that sound like they might go well together. All the combinations get tested and the best one is picked!
Another option is to “strategically” pair random scents together. Most of the time they fail, but you can strike gold sometimes! We used the random method to get “Avocado + Mint” and the “Green Clover + Aloe”.
If The Lost and Found Bookshop were to be turned into a feature film, who do you imagine playing the main characters?
I love this question! What a fantasy! I can picture Natalie, Peach, Grandy, Trevor, and the whole cast perfectly in my head. Judging by feedback from readers, they can, too.
But here’s something I believe. Every reader reads a different book. Once it’s published, it’s not “my” book anymore. It belongs to all the readers who bring their own creative minds to the process. So if I say I’d love to see Anna Kendrick as Natalie, another reader might see her as Emma Watson, and someone else might picture Zoey Deschanel…It’s a dilemma, and I don’t want to mess with anyone’s fantasy.
That said, Peach is the “Hammer for Hire” and I can show you his business card here (I actually designed it for a friend of mine, who inspired Peach). Adam Driver, maybe? He served in the Marines, and so did Peach.
The other love interest, Trevor, might be any of the Hemsworth brothers, if you ask me.
What is a typical day in the studio like?
Usually, I start with a cup of earl grey tea before wrangling a cat out of my drawing chair. I listen to contemporary classical music when I work; something along the lines of composers like Max Ritcher or Thomas Newman. Over the years, I’ve found that I’ll paint something for as long as it holds my attention. If I start to feel restless with it, I’ll put it aside for a bit and work on something else. I have a three-year old son named Emerson and if he’s not in school, he’s usually running around, occasionally asking if he can paint with me (the answer is always yes).
Overall, I try to balance my day by rotating between different projects. Brainstorming and creating a final product isn’t exactly a linear process for me. I try to give everything enough thought and time so that I am confident with the concept of what’s ultimately being created.
The novel centers around three women: Ella, Danni and Chloe. What did you enjoy the most about developing these three very different characters?
I often write novels with three main characters, alternating between their points of view, so it’s always important to me to create very distinct, different characters. I like them being very different women, so I can fully explore a range of emotions, and so they can each react differently to certain situations. I loved Danni because she starts out so brave and confident, full of self belief, but then is deeply challenged in the second half of the novel; I loved creating Ella because she is so talented but was almost unaware of just how amazing she truly was; and Chloe was fun because she was completely different to the other two! Danni and Ella are so confident and talented, and I wanted Chloe to be that naive girl in the beginning who really doesn’t understand the complexities and reality of war. It meant that her growth within the story was much bigger than the others.
Color is the central focus in your work, what color palettes are you currently drawn to the most?
I would say the palette are unexpected bright colors like in my Lobster and Sushi painting. I will say to that during COVID my last exhibition for ANFA (Take Root) I really found my lines again and started doing more linear work. My tablescapes had a landscape drawing the viewers eye to the back of the painting.
I used a lot of blues and yellows while I’m more known for purples, pinks and orange. I would say that how everything was so unexpected and unclear during COVID, so I wanted to make some choices that were calm and cool and I wanted to paint more expected things. I wanted to give the viewer something that they could read easier. The vessels are abstract and awkward giving the viewer a starting point. Seeing bowl of flowers and table and giving the viewer more of an image and idea… somewhere to start. It was very calm and really enjoyed it.
Tell me about the piece that you are currently working on.
I just started a street piece of a Ford Torino. I love the classic cars!! They have such beautiful lines and proportions. My dad instilled in me a love of great cars. All of the road trips, car shows, and time spent working with my dad in the garage keeps me excited to paint anything connected with driving down the street.
If you could spend the day as any historical figure, who would it be?
That’s a great question! There are a lot of historical figures who fascinate me but I’m not sure I’d want to be them, even if it was only for one day, in case I inadvertently altered the course of history, or was tempted to do something I shouldn’t! And it would depend on which day as well… You wouldn’t want to visit Tudor England as Anne Boleyn only to find she was on trial for her life. You can see I’m not a natural time-traveler. I have too many caveats! However, if I had to choose I think I’d choose to be Jane Austen for a day. I’d love to know her writing process.
When did you first come up with the idea to found your own brand?
A few years ago, I spent a long, frustrating weekend out of town juggling a ziplock bag of vitamins, a giant bottle of fish oil pills, a blister pack of birth control, and an orange bottle of prescription medication. When I came home, I decided I had to make my life easier. I figured a seven-day pill box would make traveling more simple, cut down on clutter, and help me remember to take my pills.
In the novel you write from the perspective of both real characters such as Leonardo da Vinci to Edith a fictional character in 1939 Munich, Germany. What was it like getting in the ‘mindset’ of Leonardo da Vinci versus Edith’s character?
What would it be like to be tasked with the job of stealing a priceless painting? That was the original question that opened the world of The Night Portrait to me.
Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Cecilia Gallerani–The Lady with the Ermine—is interesting on many levels, but particularly because it was an object of desire both in the fifteenth and the twentieth centuries. Getting into the mindset of characters spanning 500 years was such an interesting prospect.
The earlier story revolves around the court of Milan and Ludovico Sforza, who commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to paint his teenaged mistress in the late 1400s. Ludovico practically had a revolving door for his mistresses; Cecilia was just the latest in a string of amorous pursuits, if we are to believe the historical record.
But there must have been something special about Cecilia for Ludovico to ask Leonardo da Vinci to paint her. I wondered what it was.
At the time, the portrait was groundbreaking; up until then, most Italian Renaissance portraits depicted the female sitter in profile, with no sense of engagement with the viewer. But Leonardo captured Cecilia’s liveliness in this remarkable image.
Nearly 500 years later, another powerful man was enraptured with Cecilia’s image. The portrait was at the top of a list of masterpieces that senior Nazi leaders wanted to confiscate for Adolf Hitler’s planned art museum. Hans Frank, Hitler’s governor in Krakow, was obsessed with this portrait, had it wrenched from a personal family collection, and did everything possible to keep it in his personal possession. The so-called “Butcher of Poland” was held responsible for the lives of millions of innocent Polish people, and yet he claimed after his capture that he had only wanted to “safeguard” masterpieces like this one. The portrait was one of the last treasures in Frank’s personal possession when the Allies arrested him in 1944.
One of your recent collaborations was with California based olive oil company Brightland where you created a label for their Ardor olive oil as part of their Artist Collection. What did you enjoy the most about working with the brand?
I was excited about this one because the founder Aishwarya is just really cool and has built a wonderful brand around one special product. I was dying to make something in the food space, we had chatted once about making a label together and it didn’t happen, but then when she approached me for this one it was perfect because spice is a huge part of my food-related upbringing, it just reminded me of my grandma’s house, she’s Thai and always has baskets and baskets of her chili peppers drying and growing in the garden. I love spice as an element in food and to symbolize my label it was about the spread and tingling of spice as well as that first initial hit on your tongue.
The story is told from the point of view of Chanel’s sister Antoinette or ‘Ninette’ as Chanel called her. What led to your decision to tell the story of The Chanel Sisters from this particular POV?
There are a lot of books about Coco, but none that are written from Antoinette’s point of view. Coco never told the truth about her past and refused to admit that her father abandoned her and she was raised in a convent orphanage. Antoinette is a more authentic narrator able to reveal an intimate, honest side to Coco she herself kept hidden. Also, as I learned that Antoinette played an important role in the founding of the Chanel empire, I wanted her to finally have a voice to tell her story as well as Coco’s.