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Meet the Maker: HEMLEVA

Samantha of HEMLEVA

Meet Samantha, the founder of HEMLEVA.

HEMLEVA is micro business based out of Seattle, Washington that is proudly Woman and Asian owned.

Photo of Samantha taken by Charlie Zhuang.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING YOUR CRAFT? 

I have been a maker and an artist for almost my entire life and feel like all of the skills I have learned along the way have helped to guide me and my creative journey. I remember crocheting with my Mom and Grandmother as young as four-years-old. I would work so hard and diligently to make these long threads of crocheted acrylic yarn, feeling so grown up as my Grandmother and Mother sat along with me and made the most beautiful lace-like doilies. I was wood-burning at the age of six with one of my brothers, Greg. Oil painting, screen printing, practicing photography including developing my own film, sewing custom cosplay costumes...

My work today includes designing and hand-building mobiles, cutting and sewing wool for my Pin Display Pennants, illustrating and designing products to be manufactured, as well as taking and editing photos of both products and of the world around me that I use in my marketing materials.

 

WHAT DREW YOU TO YOUR MEDIUM ORIGINALLY? 

I have a pretty wide range of products, but I believe I'm most well known for my Pins & Keychains. What drew me to them initially was simply the fact that I was drawn to classic brooches, but wanted to see them with a modern touch. And I wanted to see something that I would want to wear that wasn't childlike/cartoony and was something that I would be proud to wear today and 10 years from today. And while I do love a vintage brooch, I was drawn to flora. I love shows like "Who's the Boss" but I didn't want to design a pin that was a giant bicycle. (I am currently rewatching "Who's the Boss" and like to point out to my husband all of the pins everyone wears!)
HEMLEVA keychain

With my line of keychains, it all started with the Alocasia Black Velvet. I wanted more than anything to touch and hold that leaf but knew that it would very-much-so be frowned upon at the Conservatory I was in. It drove me to make my very first keychain, the Alocasia Polly! It's still, to date, one of my favorite designs even though I have since retired it from my shop to make room for new designs and products.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU MOST & HOW IS THAT REFLECTED IN YOUR WORK?

What inspires me the most are usually the plants in my own collection, that or my wish list plants! The Philodendron Pink Princess, for example, I designed an enamel pin and a keychain before I ever owned one. It was a way for me to have one without getting into the often-times intense bidding wars that were happening at the time. I was gifted a cutting from a friend, Nikita, and was thrilled when one of the new leaves that unfurled ended up twinning with my keychain! I have that photo in my Instagram feed.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ITEM TO MAKE? WHY IS IT YOUR FAVORITE?

My favorite item to make would be designing my rainbow-making suncatchers. It is hard to describe, but these removable and reusable stickers bring so much joy to those that have them in their homes/offices/cars. There is something so special about being surprised by a rainbow. It makes you pause to look at it, and that moment that you take to pause is so incredibly special, especially with our go-go-go lifestyles coupled with the overwhelming state of our world right now.
HEMLEVA suncatcher

WHAT DO YOU WISH CUSTOMERS UNDERSTOOD BETTER ABOUT HANDMADE ITEMS? 

Oh, that is an excellent question! I would love for people to better understand how when things are handmade, they will never be perfect because we're not machines. Those imperfections are our humanity, and I believe that is such a beautiful thing. I mean, to be frank, things that are manufactured oftentimes have imperfections as well because there will always be variables beyond our control. Grace should be given with handmade products, and those handmade touches should be treasured.

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