We had the good fortune of connecting with Layli Samimi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Layli, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
i believe the single most important decision i made that contributed to my success was that i made an unwavering commitment to always be true to myself. meaning, that i have always followed my interests, passions and dreams, and haven’t been able to fake anything else. when i was younger this posed as a problem, because there were a lot of things i was meant to do that i just didn’t want to – attend all my classes in high school, study to take tests, go to a good college, etc. – all the “shoulds”. but i never could hack it – doing what others expected of me, in the way they wanted me to – i had no desire to do things for other peoples happiness or to fulfill some sort of expectation. growing up in this way, it was always very clear to me what i loved and what i didn’t. i firmly believe that this characteristic honed my ability to identify what it is that lights me up inside, makes me feel alive and fills me with joy and excitement. this commitment to myself further has deepened to me making a deal with myself that i’ll always strive to live in my purpose. i know that sounds cliche or expected but i really mean it. i have had a deep longing that has always made me dig deeper in my life and in myself. that has helped me be able to go after the things that i really want in life, and to fight for them, because the conviction i have in this keeps me pushing forward. and there’s nothing more exciting to me than a good challenge, and i always find a way to bring my creativity into the quest.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an artist who hand dyes wearable art pieces in my backyard, a lot of times, with my two children running around my work. I am trained as a Shibori artist, which is a Japanese form of hand dyeing where one immerses the materials in the dyes. Tie Dye is what a lot of folks would call this work, and they’re not exactly wrong – though technically I am more of a shibori & textile artist. Tie Dye is all the rage right now – and I’m here for it! – but what sets me apart is that I firmly believe that everything in our lives is energy – all these energetic exchanges, all the time. I set intention in each piece that I hand dye. I custom make *each* piece, meaning, I don’t make anyone’s pieces until they place an order. I have had a lot of folks tell me to make a bunch to have on hand, and I know that makes more “sense” from a business perspective, but I just can’t do it, nor do I want to. So much of what I love about my work, are the exchanged I have with my dear clients. I usually ask if there’s something they’re working through or on, and something they’d like me to set a special intention in; for example, I have a client who recently lost his mother, so I put a large ring over their heart area, for protection and healing; or a person who desperately needs change in their lives and wants to be more creative — so i put some wild rings in the wrist areas, so help “unblock” any creativity that wants to flow out. What sets me apart is the pure love and dedication i put into each piece, for that specific indivudual. The majority of my clients have written me, to say – they never take off their pieces, or they had a horrible month, and needed to wear the sweatshirt everyday as it felt like a hug or gave them courage to go see their ailing mother…THIS is what it’s about for me. I’ve made sweatsuits for folks who want love and protection as they go through chemotherapy, folks who’ve ordered who work at Covid test sites and want to come home and feel hugged. I feel this part to be so very important, as i believe that serving others, however you are called to, is what is important in this life. and that resonates with my clients. and others, they just like that they look super rad wearing their custom pieces, and honestly that so huge for me too. We need to feel GOOD in the things that we adorn ourselves with. And I really push myself to come up with unique, powerful designs and that is felt.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well things have changed, now with Covid for sure. So this answer is different. I’ll do a bit of both. When any of my pals come to town I first take them to get damn good coffee – Proof Bakery in Atwater has been our staple for over a decade, so has Cognescenti Coffee. After Proof, I’d take them to my fave store Individual Medley right down the block to grab some lovely gifts for themselves or others. I’d take them to Highland Park for tacos at the La Estrella truck on York. Town Pizza for the best slice. After they are nice an fed, we go to Malibu, specifically Point Dume and perch on the sandy cliffs watching for dolphins and staying past the epic sunset. I’d take them to Joshua Tree for a day trip. And always, always Raffi’s Place in Glendale for kabob. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people I have to thank who have helped guide me along my journey. My professor and mentor, Patrick Hill from my alma mater The Evergreen State College, who, always told me to lead with my spirit and keep the fight and fire alive by helping others solve their problems, all the while leading with my vulnerability, honesty and heart. My husband, Baktash, who has always encouraged me to go after my creative dreams, with love and confidence in me, and for being such a dedicated father to our two babies, who without his support, dedicating time to my dreams would be so much more impossible. My father, Douglas Patrick, who never once criticized me and taught me that nature is where you achieve the ultimate joy and prayer, and that I am capable of anything and everything. My powerful Lakota family, Laurette Pourier who I worked alongside, in matters of Native American Social Justice, advocacy and Conflict Transformation. David Whyte for his poems. Nabil Samadani of Salt Surf for always consulting with me about my biz, cheering me on and supporting me. My dearest friends who I can talk about God and spirit with, and then in the next breath can laugh as hard as me at my inappropriate jokes – you know who you are. And Alaska, my homeland – that taught me that you can feel so mighty and powerful and insignificant all at once, humbled and in awe of Nature’s gifts.
Nabil Samandani, Layli Samimi