I feel so honored to introduce Sylvia Marina of "The Cozy Casita". This is a very special feature because it is also a giveaway as well! But first a little about Sylvia. The Cozy Casita is home to gorgeous and colorful home decor made with hand painted Talavera tile. The craftsmanship that Sylvia puts into her work is shown through the bright colors and carefully painted patterns. Sylvia offers her signature tile trays, book-ends, coasters, and even a stunning mailbox! You must consider a custom order for you or a loved one. Check out her shop by clicking here.
*Just a few of the gorgeous items available at The Cozy Casita*
Now for the fun part; Sylvia is graciously giving away one of her small tile trays; her most popular item! The winner will have a choice of one of the 8 listed below. Rules for entry are as follows:
- Contest opens Thursday 8/3 @10am PST - Saturday 8/5 10am PST
- Visit The Cosy Casita shop on Etsy by clicking here.
- Then post a comment on this blog post with something you enjoy about Sylvia's shop.
- Leave your first name in your comment; Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced in the blog comments after contest closes.
- No purchase necessary to enter, prize not redeemable for cash or online store credit, Only open to US customers.
1.) Tell us how The Cozy Casita became a reality for you?
I was working in a job that was originally a dream job in the music industry, but it became so stressful. I got diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, having already survived childhood cancer (neuroblastoma) at 4 years old. It really was super traumatic to go through a life-threatening illness again. It really brought up all the unresolved feelings of going through that as a kid. I was lucky it was caught early this time, and though I had to get a double mastectomy, I didn't have to get chemo or radiation this time around (which I had done as a kid). Anyways, after the physical scars had healed, the emotional ones hadn't. So I took a leave from the job and went on a road trip to Sedona seeking some peace. I stopped at a country store out in the desert and re-discovered these gorgeous Mexican Talavera tiles. They were on clearance so I bought them all not knowing what I would do with them. They stayed in my closet for another few years. Eventually I saved up enough money to live on for a year and knew I needed to leave my job for my health and sanity. I didn't know what I would do next, but I figured I could write grants, or find a job in a different industry. Meanwhile, I was busy doing all kinds of arts and crafts just because it was a healing thing for me to do. I always would lose myself in making things, and it felt so good. I remembered I had these tiles and so I was trying to figure out how to use or display them while living in a small West LA apartment. So somehow I stumbled on the idea of serving or ottoman trays. I love trays for the sake of organizing, creating a defined space, or serving drinks or food or just having it on the couch or bed so you can read or watch IV with your drink next to you. It was the perfect marriage of decor meeting function, which for me, as kind of a project manager geek, was perfect. Having a stepdad and brother in construction, I got some tips, along with on YouTube, and made a few trays and I loved them! I put them on my personal Facebook and my friends and family went nuts and wanted to buy some from me. It just took off from there! I started my Etsy store and at first sold some to friends, but then strangers started buying them and I just was so happy to have stumbled into this. It was a full circle thing, because when I remembered back to my childhood living at Children's Hospital of LA for 6 weeks and the daily craft room time was the thing that kept me and all the other kids going. It was a time of day that we could be normal kids and play and lose ourselves in creativity, forgetting our pain and suffering. Anyways, I was lucky enough to get a huge corporate order last year that kept me afloat financially while I continued to try to learn and build The Cozy Casita, which I still am trying to do. I've made sales, but not consistently enough to pay all my bills at this time, so I'm really working my butt off to get to that next level so I never have to back to a corporate job full time.
2.) How do you gain inspiration for your items?
Just the tiles themselves inspire me, plus the history behind them. This style of tile, decorative triple glazed Talavera, has a thousand year history. You can find these types of tiles in ruins in ancient Greece. The style originated in the Arabic world and made its way to Spain and Italy a thousand years ago. And then when the Spanish conquered Mexico in the 1500's, they brought that technique to the native Indians who combined it with their pottery and color traditions. Also, ceramic clay tile is made from earthen clay. I just feel like there is something sacred and special about the tiles coming from the earth, having such a long tradition, and being recyclable. They provide an endless palate of creative possibilities. It's basically like making collages but with tile. I just love it. I'm kind of obsessed with this medium. I've designed some of my own tiles, a mermaid and a surfer girl, which I haven't yet listed on my store in the form of decor, but I'd love to do more of that as well as get into mosaics too. I am super inspired also by the colors found in nature - flowers, birds, the ocean, the sky, etc.
3.) How do you think that handmade items are changing the way people buy?
I'm not really sure about that. I feel like there are two parallel paths right now. We have on the one hand a culture of mass produced cheap but cute things made in China and India (who knows how old the workers are or how little they are paid or the conditions they are working in), but on the other hand there is this path whereby artisinal, handmade, local production is very popular too. It's tough, I mean I love Target as much as the next person. But I also really value something whereby I know who made it and I feel a connection to that product.
4.)How has Flourish helped or inspired you?
Oh my gosh, I had no idea that you could make a living or be successful selling your creations online. I did and do have close family members who doubt that this is a viable career path where I can end up making the money I did at my corporate job and save enough for retirement, etc. When I saw that people on Flourish could earn twice as much as I made at my old job in 6 months as to what I made in a year, it blew my mind. I try to learn as much as I can about the business side of things. For me, I love the entrepreneurial and business aspect of trying to build a sustainable viable business as much as I love the creative part. I find it endlessly stimulating and it stretches me so much.
5.) What does the future look like for The Cozy Casita?
I don't know exactly, but I have glimpses of a vision for it. I want to be a sustainable successful business where I'm earning enough to live on in Los Angeles where I'm from. I want to be able to expand my offerings and have items for sale that I don't have to make by hand each one. Like maybe design some fabric or other home decor that I can hire people to make, because making everything by hand for me can be very physically demanding on my body and I want to have a life balance too! I want to take good care of my health and relationships and have some time for fun and travel. I'd love to have a workshop where I can provide jobs for people in this community where I live, in East LA, to provide hope and inspiration. I'd also love to eventually have a couple of non-profit arms of arts and craft making to provide making classes or workshops for two groups of people that are dear to my heart; children with cancer and troubled teens who need a positive outlet.
Find The Cozy Casita on Social media:
Check out Sylvia's HGTV.com feature by clicking here.