We first met Cari at the Polka Dot Roadshow back in April. Monika actually spotted her first and bought a super cute and absolutely perfect for us sign (pictured below). By the time I got to her booth, she was pretty much cleaned out. And it’s easy to understand why–her stuff is uh-MAY-zing!
Cari hand paints each and every one of her signs. Each one is literally an original work of art–there are no templates, no tracing, just art. She is unique to the sign movement in that her pieces aren’t just the cliche words, sayings and verses we all love and want hanging in our homes; each letter is full of intricate details with flowers, flourishes, arrows, or seasonal elements added to each sign. She changes up her canvas, painting on different stains and wood finishes, wood slices, vintage windows, chalkboards and even ornaments to give each piece a completely unique hand-crafted look. We are so in love with her style that we asked her to create the below pictured custom piece for the Boho Beach Baby Shower we did last month. We gave her the freedom to do what she wanted and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome!
Cari has been painting her entire life. From a young age, her mom encouraged her in her art, and she has dabbled in multiple genres, including portraiture, fine art, and murals. In high school she starting winning awards and then eventually was a awarded a scholarship to Point Loma Nazarene University. During her time in college, she had the amazing opportunity to study in Paris for a semester where she actually studied and painted on the streets of that magnificent city, as well as Italy, London and other inspiring European cities. But like many of us, after graduating, the realities of bill paying led her to a job in something practical and completely antithetical to the art world…banking. And that’s where she spent the next 15 years, sometimes going for years without even picking up a paint brush.
One year ago this month, with some encouragement from her husband, cousin (from Rich Love Shoppe) and friends, she quit her job in the banking industry and opened an Etsy shop filled with her own art. To say that the past year has been a whirlwind of success is an understatement. Cari has enjoyed great success with her business, which is not surprising when you see her work. But Cari didn’t enter the handmade world haphazardly; she was very purposeful in her decision to begin her business. She took the time to actually study art history and the handmade movement and saw the potential of being involved in something she actually loved doing. So she has been intentional about being flexible, adapting to the market as it changes, yet still staying true to her art. This philosophy has proved to work well for her; her shop restocks typically sell out in less than two hours!
One of the ways Cari has grown as a entrepreneur can be seen in her collaborations and her purpose behind those collaborations. Sadly, there is often competition between makers in the same market. But Cari’s mantra is that there are so many unique individuals, each expressing their talents in their own way–there is room for everyone. So she seeks to reach out, connecting and collaborating to promote support and community instead of competition.
One of her most successful collaborations has been Flourish and Flower with Heather from Heather Nicole Designs (Heather doodles with paint on everything from wine glasses, to coffee mugs, to jewelry dishes, to shoes…turning normal items into pieces of art–but that’s a feature for another time). Cari paints a piece then hands it off to Heather who adds her own finishing touches. And the result is this beautiful, unique and original handmade piece. We love how Cari practices her passion, both to create and to encourage artists and makers in our community.
Behind every successful person is a team of supporters, and for Cari, that is her family. Her husband has been her biggest fan, often coming home from a long day of work to cut, sand and add hardware to the art that will eventually hang in her customers’ homes. He was the one who encouraged her to pursue her dream of painting and has been beside her each step of the way. It was beautiful to hear her talk about their relationship–falling in love, being separated by time and circumstances, then finding each other again. It’s the type of story movies are made of. And to top it all off, they have also been blessed with a beautiful little girl.