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CL Journal

The Artisans

The Artisans

If asked about the “why” - or the joy -  behind Cornelia Lively, there would be more than one.   Most of all, my family and I have an equally shared love of handmade goods.  The feel, the look, the spirit of the work that is rendered by hand, all makes for a treasure. And, no surprise, mindless consumption and mass production are not our thing.  Well, to be honest, we are pretty much “violently opposed,” - a funny term of my grandmother’s who never did anything violent in her entire life.  She would agree, as do we, that affordability is an absolute necessity, especially today. But unless we want our children and their children forever absorbed in environmental challenges of overflowing landfills and polluted streams and rivers, we need to join the movement to produce clothing and accessories responsibly.   

But let’s get back to the WHY.   Really, we can summarize our why in two words:   the artisans. People. The minds, beating hearts, hopes and visions, disappointments and challenges, and sheer, raw talent behind every piece we make - that is our why.   Sitting down with the artisans who actually melt the silver, cut from a sheet of metal, or thread the impossibly massive loom ... they are the ones we want to hear from.  Will our designs work?  Will the designs honor the process itself?  What do you think would work best?  Look best?  That’s the beauty - our endless collaboration. That’s the why. 

And the good news?  We are just getting going.  Our team, despite Covid, despite delays and lack of needed materials, is as devoted as ever to their craft and their work.  They see that what they do is larger than just their own lives, for when they share their generationally learned talents with those of us in different lives, worlds, communities, they see a bridge is built... and that in and of itself is joy.  A pretty good "why". 

XO,

EH 

 

 

¨History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed,  art has remembered the people, because they created.¨

-William Morris, influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, who promoted the joy of craftsmanship and beauty of nature. 

 

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July 4, 2020

July 4, 2020
“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” ….the refrain is one of many in Hamilton that is worth remembering as we go into the days and weeks and months ahead.   We are here by grace… how will we use our time?   How will we emerge from the chaos, ready to build anew?  Continue reading

What Matters

What Matters

No one will forget March 2020.   This is the month we learned what any epidemiologist will tell you and what Bill Gates warned us about in 2015:   the biggest threat we face in the 21st century is not a missile, but a microbe.

That microbe arrived in the US as we ushered in a new decade, and within 10 weeks, news reports laid out the heart-wrenching reality of the pandemic we have before us.   

For any new business owner, most of us admittedly dreamers, the shock of a pandemic is hard to process and hard to square with the vision boards, the goals, and the excitement of launching after months and months of determined work.    Disbelief, sorrow, enormous intake of news, followed by mild panic take over. Nothing seems doable as it did only a month ago.  In New York, our indigo sustainable fabrics sit waiting while our masterful sewing team stays safe at home.  Several blocks away our Spring 2020 Flor chandelier earrings are safely stored in the lovely atelier in the Flower District, waiting for the day the manufacturers can come back to work to finish them.   And in Mexico, our artisans are learning how to stay safe in their weaving groups while creating our newest blue backstrap wraps.   Everyone and every aspect of what we do is affected by the health crisis at hand.

And, so, here we are with all the anticipation of spring 2020 changed forever.  Whatever our plans or our expectations were, they now demand flexibility and creativity.  Moreover, we have to ask ourselves: what matters after March 2020?  We must be relevant and part of the solution, not only for positive changes in the fashion industry long term, but also for supporting our community during this crisis in the short term. 

We are here “for the duration,” as my grandmother used to say.   We will learn as we go, protecting our work, our artisans, and our vision for the future.   Our future is better informed with this stark reminder of the connectedness of our human race.   We need each other, we affect one another, and most of all, what we do -matters.   

 Emily

 

  

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You, Me, and Marie.

You, Me, and Marie.

The first time I heard of “sparking” was six years ago while living in Washington DC. A friend texted me a cryptic message of this new-to-me verb, along with an accompanying picture of her dining room table covered with a disparate group of objects. The mother of two young daughters, I recognized many of the items– a disco ball, Taylor Swift t-shirts, Candyland, ice skates, a large Dr. Pepper piggy bank. But why were they grouped there on the table, and what was “sparking”? Upon my query, my friend answered simply: Marie Kondo.

I checked it out … the Kondo method… and was left feeling I was not entirely up for the task. The ultimate sentimentalist, I wanted to hang on to all the memories of what I called the “bows and scooter years.” Each drawing, each hello kitty diary with only three pages used… all reminded me of some very precious days.

But when a move to Denver, Colorado loomed a few short years later, the sentimentalist had to become the pragmatist. And once again, a friend suggested Marie Kondo, only this time in the form of a highlighted book stealthily dropped off on my front porch. So, I read… and …very quickly, was hooked. Kondo made sense. I was convinced (and willing to try) tidying as a tool not only to help me cope with the ordeal of packing up a life, but also to help me lovingly let go of what I didn’t have space for anymore. Surprisingly, many of the things I loved most I was happy to give away, share with others;  not surprisingly, I found many treasures I had lost under piles of everyday life… clothing and books that indeed needed to be repurposed and moved on to their next home. Kondo worked.

So as 2020 dawned, I picked up my highlighted book again. The timing couldn’t be better. New decade, new era, new launch…. time to be inspired by ones’ surroundings, ones' objects of daily living …. all affects how we greet the day… and our lives.

Happy Sparking,

Emily

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365 Days of New

365 Days of New

January 1, 2020. Day one of a new decade. What will you do that is new this year…and in the 10 years to come? What would your life look like if you started out this new time, the 20’s, with new ways of approaching your daily life? 

We are thinking about these questions. We do so because we believe keeping the spirit of what we do fresh, relevant and inspired can only be done when our daily lives are the same…fresh, relevant and inspired. How to do this? We are banking on the idea of simple acts, such as setting the alarm earlier in the morning for 5 minutes of yoga, exploring a new path on a daily walk, trying new ways of cooking, adopting a new practice of hand-writing letters…maybe a dance class, martial arts…or collecting inspiring quotes to be written and shared with others, new volunteering, singing in a choir, or just simply going about the habitual in a new way.

Unrealistic or exciting? Perhaps both. But knowing that science proves these acts of new can work for a more adept and healthy brain, we say: “bring on the new!”. Let’s get better, knowing that when one person is better, we are all better. 

For us at Cornelia Lively, “better,” can only happen in a world that is becoming greener and cleaner. Could it be that taking on something new in our daily lives can lead to new ideas, new approaches to that end? We hope so. 

Happy, hopeful 2020.

Emily

"There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave." – Ernest Hemingway Continue reading

It all started in San Miguel.

It all started in San Miguel.

That is why we introduce Cornelia Lively in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a place some say is sheer magic. I would agree, as my time there in 1996 proved there may very well be a force field of creative good underneath the charming cobblestone streets. Perhaps the church bells awakening me each morning, blooming Jacaranda trees spilling purple shade over ochre walls…mariachis in the central garden at night…created a gravitational pull, but one thing was for certain, a spell was cast. My plan was to stay two weeks. I stayed a year.

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The Artisans
July 4, 2020
What Matters
You, Me, and Marie.
365 Days of New
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