Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now.
My name is Carolina Ossa and I am the designer and maker behind Hello Chiqui. I originally went to college for Fashion Merchandising, but after a few years of working as a visual merchandiser, I just didn't feel inspired anymore. In my search for a more creative outlet, I started HelloChiqui but found it was really hard for me to find materials and easy to follow how-to's. I decided to open a one-stop shop for everyone, like me, that felt lost when wanting to take up a new hobby.
On August 29th, 2014, I launched the ChiquiLoom Weaving Kit and a few months later, the ChiquiMacrame Plant Hanger Kit. My brand has transitioned a little, as I solely focus on macrame right now, but helping others feel like a total pro when starting a new craft has always stuck with me throughout the years. I continue to offer the ChiquiMacrame Kit, you can find tutorials on my YouTube channel, and for those that live in Miami, I teach workshops throughout the city.
For the not-so-crafty handmade lovers, I create ready made and custom pieces, and you can now even find a few of my pieces at select Florida West Elm locations!
What is your creative process and where do you find your inspiration?
Once I’m ready to create a piece, I always sketch it out first. It might not always end up looking like my original design, but I still always like putting it on paper, just so I have a general idea of the direction I’d like to take. I turn on this “creativity+inspiration” candle I have (I don’t know if it works, but I like to think it does), put on some music/podcast/easy to watch show and I get to knotting!
I find inspiration from the usual places - Instagram, Pinterest, my surroundings, but I mostly feel inspired when going through my macrame books, I like finding new knots or techniques to try with every new piece I make.
How do you take care of yourself? What self-care rituals do you rely on?
Although I’m not very good at self care, I do try to meditate every day, or at least a few times a week - 10 to 15 minutes either in the morning or on my commute to work.
Tell us about one of your favorite pieces - how it came to be and why it’s so special.
I’ve made 2 wall hangings for my mom, and although they took me an eternity to complete, they have been my favorite pieces to make. With both wall hangings I’ve taken my time to experiment and try different things, which has been so fun. There’s nothing more special than making something for your #1 fan!
What is a personal motto that you try to live by?
My sister and I always say this to each other jokingly, but it’s definitely a motto I live by - “Do You”. In a time where social media makes it so easy to compare yourself to others, now more than ever, I find these simple words comforting.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own business?
My advice for anyone wanting to start their own business would be to just go for it. If you have a good idea, you’ve done your research, and you’re willing to put in the work, then don’t hold back just because you’re scared of failing or because someone else has done something similar. That being said, do you (clearly, my life motto!) and be original.
Favorite Podcasts or Books?
GirlBoss Radio, Etsy Success Podcast and Talking in Circles. For a good laugh I like Lady Gang Podcast.
Do you have any strange interests or collections?
Besides my obsession with dogs, I don’t think I do - I’m pretty normal I guess. I would like to up my plant collection, but baby steps, 'cause these thumbs are not green at all!
What is a favorite beauty product that you would recommend? Why?
I’ve heard such good reviews about Herbivore Botanicals and I recently purchased one of their skin routine travel sets just to test it out. Woah, I’m hooked! Their Rose Hibiscus Face Mist is so refreshing.
Name a song you have on repeat right now.
Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens. If you haven't yet, go watch Call Me By Your Name, you’ll have this song on repeat too.
You can follow Carolina on Instagram: @shophellochiqui
SHOP HELLO CHIQUI
I am SO excited to introduce a new project I've been working on for a little over a year.
I've brought together some of my favorite women-led businesses to create a highly curated collection of goods. Together we're called The Gray Collective.
The name comes from the phrase "gray area" as in undefined and not readily conforming to a category or an existing set of rules. In other words, a collective of makers, each creating with their own distinct outlook and style with a disregard for conformity.
You can shop beauty, jewelry, stationery and more. We are slowly adding more products so be sure to come back and visit often.
You can also look forward to interviews with the collective to get a feel for their creation process, book recommendations, business advice and so much more.
I'm working on our Spring/Summer 2018 collection and I've decided to bring back something we dabbled in before, but never fully committed to: hand dyed fabric! The results were inconsistent to start with but I found a color palette that I think I'll move forward with for the next collection. Above:
1) Cut pattern pieces
2) A vinegar soak to lock in the colors
3) Scraps looking good in the trash
As I mentioned in my last post, when I found a house that had been properly maintained (and had a roof), I was willing to overlook some major cosmetic flaws. Number one on that list of flaws: the orange, paved front yard. The house itself was painted yellow, not a subtle yellow, but YELLOW. Painting the house a pale gray took it down a notch but there was still so much...orange. So I knew that most of that concrete had to go.
Initially I thought I would tear out the entire right side, leaving a driveway that fits one car on the left and a walkway to the front door. The plan was to then install a second driveway on the right and put in some sod to create a proper yard.
Some inspiration I stuck on my Pinterest:
But then I got a few estimates.
Turns out it's not that cheap to just "put in" a driveway. So upon some further brainstorming I decided that since I already had the concrete, I might as well just cut out the parts I didn't want. So I decided to tear out the center, which left a driveway on either side and instead of putting in sod to create a traditional yard, I decided to pull some inspiration from my years living in Boston and create more of a front garden space.
Now, I'm a pretty hands on person but there are some things I won't do. Concrete work is one of those things. So I hired someone to do it (which oddly enough felt like a really big step for me).
I marked where I wanted the concrete cut and he used a saw to literally cut it out (see top right photo). Then he got the jack-hammer and spent the rest of the day chiseling out the entire middle section.
At the end of the day, this is what we were left with. I had to hire a separate team to haul it away (which was a whole other nightmare that maybe I'll share another time) but I felt like such a weight had been lifted once it was all done. To me, that paved front lawn was one of the biggest things that held me back from truly loving this house but figuring out how to fix it was so daunting. So I guess the point of this is that hiring someone to do the things you're not confident about (and let's be honest, probably not physically capable of doing) is well worth it. The other point is that I don't think I'll be adding concrete removal to my list of talents. Not yet anyway.
I purchased my home in 2015 and since then it has been an ever-evolving work in progress. The house itself was built in 1940 in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. The previous owners had taken most of the vintage charm out of the house over the years but had taken great care of the house itself. Once I purchased it, I set out to bring back as much of that original character as possible.
With the exception of the potted plants (which I planted in a feeble attempt to try and add some greenery), this is how the house looked when I purchased it. After looking at houses in my budget with signs announcing upcoming demolition, missing roofs and in one case, a house I was almost positive had been used as a barn, I was willing to overlook the completely paved front yard and other cosmetic flaws.
In exchange, I got a cute house with hurricane windows (huge plus in Miami, FL), updated plumbing and air conditioning (yep, some of those houses listed above still don't have AC).
After a coat of paint, concrete removal and the addition of a white picket fence, the house looked something like this.
It's come a long way from this point but it still has a long way to go. I've decided to bring you along on the rehab adventure so stay tuned for some work-in-progress, some DIY and some before and afters. Because we all love before and afters.
Like most people, when I hear the terms "eco fashion," "sustainable fashion" or something similar, I imagine prohibitively expensive hemp backpacks or yoga leggings and my eyes begin to gloss over. But more and more, it's becoming obvious that our attention needs to be focused on the ethics of fashion and the impact our consumerism has on the environment, factory workers and the lives of animals.
Behind the oil and agricultural industries, the fashion industry is the third most polluting industry in the world. And it is both the agricultural and fashion industries that we must take into account when it comes to the production of leather and the sale of leather goods.
Our food system is one of the most polarizing topics today with everyone weighing in with an opinion. But everyone from the most carnivorous of us to the vegans can probably agree that industrial animal farming is a destructive force that is in need of major reform.
Nowadays, most of our meat comes from CAFOs. "CAFOs" or Confined Animal Feeding Operations, also known as Factory Farms, raise large numbers of animals (typically 1,000 or more) in small areas. These animals are fed unnatural diets, hormones and antibiotics to maximize their growth in the shortest period of time.
Factory farming is bad news for the family farm: In North Carolina, there was an 80% reduction in traditional farms thanks to overwhelming competition from factory farms.
Factory farming is bad news for our health: To compensate for the unhealthy conditions these animals are raised in, as well as their unnatural diet, cows are given heavy doses of antibiotics. There are 80 different types of antibiotics that are approved to be in cows milk.
Factory farming is bad news for the environment: The annual cost of environmental damage from factory farming is approximately $34.7 billion. Yes, that's billion with a B.
This goes way beyond the fact that factory farming results in the mistreatment, suffering and death of billions of animals. This is an environmental issue spanning from soil contamination to greenhouse gas emissions to some of the highest amounts of wasted energy and water. And beyond that is the threat to our health. The widespread addition of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and dioxins have been found to increase the risk of cancer, heart problems and degenerative diseases is humans.
Here at Heist we know better than to use the cheapest, most easily sourced leather. Our leather comes from two sources:
1) Salvaged Leather - From vintage leather jackets to discarded leather couches, our salvaged leather comes from a variety of sources. Americans throw away over 14 million tons of textiles every year and 85% of it ends up in landfills. We love transforming unwanted, unloved leather into new usable pieces and if we can help reduce our landfill waste, even better.
2) Bison Leather - We source our bison leather from a small company in Colorado whose bison are all free-range, raised for their meat and hides. They are a member of the National Bison Association who require members to subscribe to a strict code of ethics which ensures the humane and sustainable raising of the American Bison. Sure, these hides cost us a little more, but knowing these beautiful animals were ethically raised (and not stuffed in a dark crate!) sure does make us feel better about using their leather.
We know that reforming a huge industrial operation like our food system is a long and complicated process, but we also know that we cast a vote for the world we want to live in every time we spend our money. We want you to feel good about spending your money with us. Not only are you getting a handmade, quality product, you're helping to make a difference.