We had the good fortune of connecting with Olivia Lin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Olivia, can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
Every item in my shop or workshop seat is paired up with a non-profit–with every purchase, a portion of proceeds is donated to that specific organization. There are 4 main causes my business and customers support: providing meals for children at The Ebongalethu Educare Center Preschool and Nursery in Motherwell, South Africa, providing vegan friendly meals to folks in need in the US through ChilisOnWheels,org, funding microloans for mom and dad entrepreneurs through Kiva.org, and helping homeless dogs and cats through The Lange Foundation. I try to match products that fit each category, for example: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards help mom and dad businesses through the microloans and the “dog hair don’t care” t-shirts support the animal rescue. To date over 140,000 meals have been provided and 118 loans in over 36 countries have been funded!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always loved drawing, writing, arts and crafts–anything creative! My background is in fashion design but I found my way back to my first love of drawing about 4 years ago when I began brush lettering, which is the art of drawing letters. But before I began lettering, my business started as a fundraiser with hand carved stamps. I was making hand stamped cards for Valentine’s Day and using 100% of the money raised to provide meals for The Ebongalethu Educare Center which I had just started sponsoring. That Valentine’s Day I was able to raise over a year’s worth of meals for them! I wanted to continue that and to support other organizations which is how my small business was created. Hand carving stamps was a little challenging when it came to carving letters so I decided to look for another avenue which is how I stumbled upon lettering. I almost never started because my initial thought was calligraphy and typography looked so beautiful but it’d too hard for me to do. I’m glad I didn’t listen to my own limiting belief and gave it a try anyway! I am self taught so it took me a few months to figure things out. After I understood the basics and what tools to use, I continued to practice and develop my style. I can be a perfectionist so sometimes I will letter something over and over again until I am happy with the look of it. But it’s really fun to be able to take a vision in my head and get it down on paper! Through this process I learned to never stop myself from trying something new and how dedicated practice makes all the difference. With my work and art I hope to inspire others to create and to use their craft to help others.
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.
One of my favorite things about living in LA is the food scene! I love that there are tons of vegan restaurants and delicious foods and cuisine to try! I would definitely take my BFF to Crossroads Kitchen, Donut Friend, Sage Organic Vegan Bistro, Rice, Hug Life Plant-Based Creamery, Vinh Loi Tofu, Vegan by Victorias, and Plant Power Fast Food…the list goes on! To balance out all the eating, we’d also spend time outdoors by hiking at Eaton Canyon or Palos Verdes. We’d definitely have to take advantage of the weather and the beach–bike, walk, kayak, then explore the little shops and bars in Redondo, Hermosa, and Manhattan Beach. I also love the different neighborhoods we have like the Arts District and Chinatown in Downtown LA–there’s always so much to see and do.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My business wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for a trip to South Africa back in 2007 where I met the founder of Food4Africa, Gordon Minott. Gordon started Food4Africa because he believes every child deserves a good start in life including full tummies and proper nutrition. I was able to see the children, schools, and communities he has helped and the lives he has improved and saved. Meeting Gordon and his team as well as the partnering teachers and caretakers, and the children they serve was incredibly inspiring. When things get tough I always think about what they are doing and it keeps me motivated and reminds me of my why. I also wanted to recognize Barbara who is also part of Food4Africa who has been helping to coordinate and handle the donations to The Ebongalethu Educare Center which is sponsored through them, Byron who is the volunteer who actually gets the food to The EEC and sends me updates and photos, as well as Gladys who started The EEC because she saw a need in her community and wanted to provide a safe place where children can be cared for and educated while their parents go to work. I admire their selflessness, courage, strength, and love and appreciate all that they do to contribute to their communities and to the world. They continue to inspire me each and every day.