Some of you may know that Rachel Hunsinger of Shanti Collective shares the studio space with me. She's up in the loft and every day when we are working she makes me smile, whether it's from the adorable fits of laughter because she's watching "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" while she makes jewelry, or her beautiful voice singing along to her music. Our dogs give us a good laugh too.
When I met with Stephanie of Open House to talk about renting her studio, I was already in awe of how serendipitous the timing was and then I laughed when I saw the address was #108. I'm pretty sure I said out loud "Rachel's going to lose it when she sees this". At that point Rachel no idea that I was even thinking of her to share the space with me.
I've learned so much more about her since sharing our studio / lady-lounge together and I am so excited to share more of this wonderful woman with you. If you are not familiar with her business, what a mala is or why I thought the address #108 was just so damn kismet, check out the FAQ on her website. I'll let her tell you some more personal things here.
Read on to hear her advice for tough times, managing the impact of social media on creativity, the beautiful message she would send to her younger self, and the delicious recipe she shared with me. Oh, and make sure to check out the bracelet we designed together... I've been wearing it every day and we are so excited to share it with you.
Britt: Your recent collection of jewelry is categorized for the Spiritual Archetypes: The Mover, The Lover, The Adventurer, and The Seeker. Who was your inspiration for each of those, and how do you resonate with them all?
Rachel: I often find myself daydreaming about the stories I hear whilst making malas these past few years. The thing I’ve started to notice is how the details change, but so often the things we want most [in life] seem to overlap from scenario to scenario. I start to wrap them together around my pen as I write down some of these shared experiences; it’s like I’ve spent these last couple years writing my favorite, soothing recipes for different versions of the common cold.
There’s the story about the triathlete who wants to be more grounded, stronger even, as she trains her heart out. I think of her as I hold lava stone, and picture the ocean, brash and unyielding.
There’s the one about the man who isn’t quite sure why or how meditation works, but he just knows it makes him feel happier and more connected whenever he tries it. We talk at length about counting the stones, repeating the mantras. For him, I know rough rudraksha and aventurine is just the right combination.
And there’s the one about the sister who wants to find something to help heal her best friend’s broken heart. I make them special strands of my favorite rose quartz, thinking about my own sister and how much I love her too.
I love these stories the most. I love how similar we are on the inside. Our guts get tied in knots, we feel lost half the time, and some days we just crave a little hope, peace, or love.
As female entrepreneurs, we are bombarded with messages like “hustle” “grind” and “boss bitch” as labels to supposedly identify with these days through social media. I saw a neon sign for sale at Indigo that just said: ”slay”. I would never use any of those words to describe you, and I know you work really hard. What words do you connect to when it comes to building your business?
I love this question because it ties into our culture and this push for needing to do more all the time. Seeing these words everywhere pushes us to accept that as the status quo. So why are so many people being told to slow down and start mediation? It’s because we are maxed out, running on fumes and our bodies can’t run like that all the time. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I hustle and a seem busier but those attributes or words don’t fuel me. I like to be centered and focused on my visions, and in these busy times, meditation is what saves me. So finally getting to your question - rant over - the words mindful, community, intention, inspired and passion are what drive me in my business.
If there is someone reading this interview right now and going through a period of self-doubt, creative block, or overwhelm within an area of their life, what advice would you have to offer them?
YOU GOT THIS.
Seriously though, we always make it out the other side, it’s just how we get there that is open to change. This will pass and you will have learned something about yourself, that’s a powerful thing.
Another thing is noticing when these feelings come up and what you're doing at that moment. There was a time when I was starting SC and would scroll on Instagram for inspiration, however, something shifted for me and instead of leaving inspired to create, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. Self-doubt and comparison started to take over. I had to stop that act of checking my social media feed and do something that made me feel good. That could be playing cards, taking a bath or going for a walk. If I needed inspiration I would take a yoga class, read poetry, or go for tea with a friend or another business owner. Those things have not failed me and don’t allow me to fall into a negative spiral.
Tell me about the balance you have between making malas and teaching others to make their own. What nourishes you from of each aspect of your business?
For me, the balance flows with the change of seasons, which keeps it interesting. It has looked like in the winter months I do more workshops and come the spring/summer, I get to go out into the community to markets and festivals.
I have had the calling to teach, it started with yoga and then morphed into teaching people to make malas. I have times where I get to gather with a handful of people that I might not have the pleasure met otherwise. These workshops have created a different community of making connections with people over a 3-hour span - you can learn a lot from people at this time. I love this aspect! Just as I love meeting people/families randomly at markets. It’s all about the human connection for me. Now on the flip side, when am solo in our lovely studio, I get to create with no limits, I get to make something out of nothing, which really lights my creative fire. I love the act of making something with my hands, from start to finish.
What do you do for self-care?
There are many things I do, here are my top 5 (in no particular order); Cook a meal (with or without wine), bubble bath in winter/Sun worship in summer (anything to get me warm), burn palo santo and do a tarot reading, Acupuncture and a yoga class.
Over lunch one day, you told me more about your trips to Italy, India, and Bali. In your own way, you Ate Prayed and Loved last year... Is there a particular part of either country you could share as a travel guide tip?
That's so funny! I didn’t realize but I did do the same places as the book.
Bali : I didn’t have to plan too much & people are so kind.
India: I found that as long as I respected peoples culture (ie, dress appropriately, even in the heat!) and let my intuition guide me; I was golden.
Italy: Eat and drink everything you can. Try new things, get off the main streets and get lost - My husband Pete and I found the most amazing food just steps off the “tourist track”. Oh and always get your own dessert!
What are you focused on for 2018, either personally or with Shanti Collective?
This year my mantra is: receive things with simplicity. I’m going to challenge myself to slow down, to be okay without that need for BIG plans. To be strategic, to be more efficient and to enjoy time with my family and friends.
What are 5 things people generally don’t know about you…
I am half Lebanese I have two uvulas (the thing that hangs down at the back of your throat), I am the sneeziest person, I’m allergic to most animals with fur and I hate being late or rushing for things.
What would you tell your younger self?
Please tell me your favorite podcasts and book recommendations
Right now my favorite podcast is Beautiful stories from Anonymous people, it’s great. It’s a one-hour phone call from Chris Gethard (comedian) to anyone who calls in. They are sometimes banal and just a phone call and other times they are deep and sad but so beautiful.
The book I’m reading is Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness, which is a beautiful book on the Danish art of happiness.
Thanks for reading! Rachel shares an amazing recipe with me and I'll put that together in another blog post so stay tuned! And if you haven't checked out the bracelet we designed together, click here!