Hi Andi! It’s so nice to finally get this time together to properly introduce you to everyone. You and I get just a few hours together a week but it’s always a treat seeing you walk in the door. You bring such a peace to the shop and I appreciate your energy so much.
One thing I really admire about you is how you always seem to have solutions and answers up your sleeve. For example, if you’re feeling a little sore, you know the exact stretch your body is calling for. During cold season, you know the right teas and tinctures to reach for. How did you learn these tools for self care?
First of all, thank you! I feel especially peaceful while I’m at the shop and it shows.
So, I have to credit my mom for this habit. I grew up in a very holistic-minded home, she was always a big practitioner of herbal medicine and other natural remedies. If I got sick, it was always to the herbal cabinet first. She’s also a very athletic person and a dancer, so the emphasis on exercise and stretching was always very top of mind. As a kid I wasn’t as impressed with our “new age” lifestyle, but now it’s something I cherish and feel very lucky to have. I’ve also been a doula in training for the last few years and I’ve picked up a lot of body care practices along the way.
You keep such a full schedule- how do you compartmentalize or organize your day? Do you follow a “typical day”? Any rituals or routines that keep you grounded?
I’ve never been very good with routines, and I’m a very naturally inconsistent person. Especially since I’ve been mostly working from home. I do think I’m at my best on those days when I have a bit more structure built in, but still I take my days on a case by case basis. I have many interests and projects going at any one time, and sometimes it can be hard to organize it all, although they all kind of inform the other. So I try to take things one day at a time. I do a lot of deep breathing.
And yes, I have so many rituals and tools to keep myself grounded! I think the most grounding thing for me is daily walking, preferably in the morning and at sunset. I’m a homebody kind of creature, sometimes to a fault. So a daily walk has been essential, bonus points if I can actually put my feet in the grass while the sun is shining.
Let’s talk about your art! Andi, your paintings are so lovely. We had the opportunity to use one of your original watercolors in our promotion for the recent Winter Market. You’ve been sharing some really beautiful, textural works on your Ripple Studio Instagram account. What’s your background in art and how do you prioritize finding the time for your practice?
Thank you :) Yes, I’ve been painting and making art since I was a kid and it was a clear part of my expression from very early on. I took classes throughout my childhood and went to a few art summer camps– it was the first subject I really excelled in. Around high school I veered towards the dance world and mostly made art very occasionally on the side. It was during college when I was exploring majors and found myself staring at the prospect of a BA track that I started coming back to visual arts. I took a black and white photography class and started working in the darkroom. The first photos I developed by myself in the darkroom were taken just outside the Rothko Chapel, it’s always been a favorite place of mine.
A few years after Cy-Fair I started taking art classes at UH, and ended up going for a BFA in Photography / Digital Media. By the end of it I was making site specific installations that combined light, video projections, painting, and found objects to form an immersive experience that invoked themes of spirituality and identity. I created altars as an art practice, so to speak.
These days I’m painting more than anything else. Painting was always my first love and it’s been essential to me during the pandemic. I definitely live with anxiety and in the past few years I’ve really had to lean into what brings me joy, and painting is that for me. My experiences as a doula have also introduced me to the world of somatics, which is essentially the practice of noticing the mind-body connection and its effect on our internal world. I’ve brought that into my art practice and it’s a game changer. It’s just as important that my body feels supported while I'm painting as it is what materials I'm using. It’s about the quality of that creation.
I think we first met back at the now-retired Rice Village boutique Myth & Symbol many years ago. What is it about the small indie shop life that brought you back in?
Myth & Symbol will always be such a special place to me. I know how much intention goes into a shop like that one, it’s a labor of love to take the time to support indie designers and local makers. I was still in college when I worked there and there was such a supportive atmosphere that kept me grounded during such a busy time of life. I loved the camaraderie of the shop life, the customers turned friends, the peace of opening and closing rituals. Small indie shops are a refuge for me. I’m attracted to the ambition that hangs in the air– it takes a really strong and crafty person to pull it off– there are a million moving parts. I’ve always loved learning from small business owners, especially women like Chau and Trang (and you, Alicia!) who come from a more creative background and found a way to incorporate that creativity into a buzzing business. I love learning about the products and their makers, the places they came from, and the moments of genuine appreciation when you’re holding something you know you’ll treasure. I am also admittedly smitten over a well curated selection :)
Where can we keep up with you?
It’s a work in progress, but you can keep up with me at andivalentine.com
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat today. I appreciate you!