We had the good fortune of connecting with Manuela Montenegro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Manuela, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks is very important in life because it takes you out of your comfort zone, making you discover new things and grow. Taking a risk is scary, but when you overcome that fear, you will see that the risk you took will leave a lesson even though it didn’t work out as you wanted. Taking risks has played an essential role in my life/ career, for example, being here. I’m from Colombia, so taking the risk of leaving my country to study photography in Los Angeles was scary but worth it. I learned from great people and experienced things I wouldn’t ever have back home. In addition, one of the most significant risks I took was when I went to study Fashion Styling in Milan, Italy. I didn’t speak Italian very well, and it was my first time living by myself. Nevertheless, taking this risk taught me so many things and values of life that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Another risk I’m taking is to build my own business where I’m selling my art as interactive art; I’m printing my images as jigsaw puzzles. I’ve always been a fan of bringing the viewer involved with the artwork, and what better way than make them build the art piece with their own hands. Taking this risk was significant because I’m pretty new to the puzzle world and being part of it now is fantastic. Also, I’m very new to the business world, and every day I’m learning by taking risks. If I hadn’t taken all these risks in my life, I would be doing something I love: creating art and putting a smile on people when they finish their artwork.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My business started during the first lockdown of the pandemic; as a photographer, I couldn’t meet people or go out, so I just started to go through all of my images and started editing them and creating new ones. Then I realized that I could sell them, so I began to think about how to sell them. I didn’t want to sell them as digital files cause I like seeing images printed, and I love to publish them in different materials. So I started to check how to make my images on metal. But one day, it hit me why not print them as puzzles? I would be printing on an alternative material, and it would be something interactive. And this is how Flower Power Puzzle started. The name comes from the idea that I like to think my images are like flowers. Flowers make people smile, happy and give good energy, and that’s what I want my pictures to do.
Flower power Puzzle is unique because we are very eco-friendly, from our materials to the packaging that is a special cotton bag with the image of the puzzle, no boxes used at all. We also ship our products inside compostable shipping bags. I design all images; being a collage, an image from a place I’ve traveled to, or a dream I had. Finding the right provider for everything has been challenging, but I found the right fit with patience and persistence. I’m still learning a lot about managing a business and customers.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens Cerveceria del pueblo
Redline – Food & Bar
Walk Silverlake and Echo Park
Norton Simon Museum
Manuela Montenegro / Flower power