I would like to share with you my process as I unfold my life as an artist...it is a life journey where at times you do need to question yourself...your path.
My life has had some incredible challenges, that I am, now, so very grateful for. I needed everyone of those challenges to question where I was and where I wanted to go...and work to become the person I am today and the life that I am living today...thankful.
As I now stand on my own two feet with great support and look at my future as to how I will make a living.
I would like to share with you, as perhaps, an inspiration or my hope, as a guide into the unknown (as it is).
In the hopes of continuing with my Story Hat© line, I initially thought of a sponsor purchasing the collection as an art display and donating it to a hospital that helps children with cancer. This was at the time still raw within my own heart after my Dad passed from brain cancer. What a great tribute to him in his memory.
Note: My inspiration came from hats that were originally created for children in China by the expectant Mother. These hats imbue protection and well wished for the child-to-come future. It took this concept and created my line of Story Hats©.
Goldfish Story Hat © Leslie Molen
Photography: Alan Rodriguez Villalobos
Next, came the idea of creating polar fleece hats for children in (chemo) treatment that would be purchased by other sponsors. As he Story Hat Project©,these hats would be gifted to the children, in my hopes, to bring them joy and a bit of play into their lives.
Everything was flowing...to the point of being accepted as a project by a hospital. Then BOOM!
Several road blocks started to arise. Which brought up questions...questions within myself.
After designing several polar fleece hats, I realized that it was not within my ability to create a version of the polar fleece hats that could be (realistically) cost effective without watering them down to something that I would not be happy with. On the other hand, keeping them at the quality was in no way feasible to be able to create as a mass product.
My questions to myself as an artist, as a business person where as follows:
1. Was it even doable to make a living being an artist? I do things by piece not by hourly rate.
2. How do I produce and sell enough to receive a monthly income that I can actually live on?
I have been very fortunate to be a full-time artist for the last 25 years of my life. In this time, I have been able to master my craft of textiles to be the best that I can be...and understand also, how to run it as a business (of art). I have worked extremely and passionately hard at it...
Hydrangea Story Doll © Leslie Molen
I was thankful for these "roadblocks"... it gave me time to breathe and think this through.
To ask questions, I came to the understanding that I am an artist, I am not a mass producer...this is what I am- an artist...in my heart...in my soul...with each and every stitch.
1. Yes, I am extremely efficient but also need to continue to create at the quality level that is associated with me as a master artist. Continue creating each as a quality piece and know that people will appreciate the originality and uniqueness of my work.
2. Expand my business beyond dolls (small very limited market) to pieces that are still original and unique but gain a larger market share.
I started with simply made tote bags and scarves...not quite there...but on the right path.
A very dear close friend told me that I am very well known for my dolls and my hats...geez...of course...I decided to expand on what I am already known for...my Asian signature...my techniques.
Butterfly Story Hat © Leslie Molen
Photography: Alan Rodriguez Villalobos
And so with that I am creating a line that I call LL Couture. This also in memory of my Dad who called me LL.
I realized that my first attempt was a stepping stone but not at the level I wanted and have worked so hard to be known for. At this posting, I have drafted the pattern for my new handbag that compliment my dolls and Story Hats...
Most importantly, I took the time to listen to my heart...to my soul and take that direction.
For the Story Hat© line, I will continue creating them and am working on having them as a exhibit to share with others. Eventually have them for sale as art pieces.
The Story Hat Project©. I have not dismissed that. I so believe in giving back. The Project is on my work sheets that I hang in my studio...perhaps moved to the side- for now...the right person(s), time and place will come.
I have all faith that this is where I am suppose to be...this is what I am suppose to be...