We had the good fortune of connecting with Yael Lichaa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yael, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
It is easier to appreciate the good times in our lives, but to appreciate the hard times, when we struggle and are in our lowest points in life, that’s when the true appreciation develops and leads to spiritual growth and manifestation of our dreams in the future. Since I was a child, I dreamed about a “one stop” creative place where I could make various forms of art, like drawing, painting, sculpting, woodworking, building, and also make movies. Of course, place like that did not exist in 80th back in Kiev, Ukraine. I also dreamed to discover something special and unique that would prevent people from getting sick and dying, and that how I thought of becoming a doctor. For many years after, it was a constant battle of a career choice between art and science. I studied both, until I realized that neither would save the world. To protect me from the anti-Semitism, my mother never told me that I was Jewish. I continued searching, found Judaism, but could not related to the religious aspects of it. Finally, after screaming to God to give me answers who I was and what was my purpose in this world, in the year of 2,000 I found the Kabbalah Centre and fully immerged in the studies of Kabbalah. That led me to traveling and meeting many wonderful people. I started to understand things I always felt but did not know how to explain to myself or express to others. Using the tools of the Kabbalah, throughout past 20 years, I healed myself, fixed my relationships with my mother and other people, met my husband, gave birth to three wonderful boys and realized my purpose in life. I understood that my unique talent is to help people to connect to their souls through creative art and making movies. It was a huge miracle how our RAZ (Robertson Art Zone) opened on Rosh Chodesh Tevet, in the middle of Chanukah, on December 9, 2018. Before that miracle I was planning and teaching various art classes for many years privately and in different schools. Since the age of six, I was showing talent for drawing and painting. Back in Kiev, Ukraine where I grew up, my mom always encouraged me to develop my artistic skills. Unfortunately, she put it in my mind that to be a successful artist I had to be the best of the best, and if I was not the best, it was hopeless to pursue career in art (or anything else). Yep, that was Russian-Jewish mentality back then. I think, that what shaped my whole believe system in life – to be successful I need to be the best in what I do. It might be great for some children and it might drive them to be better in life, but it could also stop other children from trying anything new and unfamiliar. My whole approach to teaching art is based on the concept that EVRYONE CAN BE AN ARTIST. My job is to teach students different techniques, skills and various approaches, but the most important is to help them to unlock their limited believes and connect them to the endless world of creativity.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Robertson Art Zone (RAZ) is a unique art studio where we teach children and adults various forms of art through storytelling. There are two main things that set us apart from other art studios: 1) We teach most forms of art: painting, building, sculpture, writing, music, performing and cinema arts. Implimenting all of them we developed 6 unique courses: Storytelling (Comic Book), Painting, Character Design, Mixed Media, Building (wood & clay) and Stop Motion Animation. 2) Our methods of teaching are unconventional. Instead of teaching how to copy from the pictures or any existing work of art, we teach various techniques and then inspire students to create their own art, based on their imagination.
What you are most proud of or excited about?
We’re proud to create an open-minded art studio where both children and adults can do things that they never done or couldn’t even imagine doing. When they leave our place after a camp or a birthday party, they happily say, “This was the best party/camp ever!” They are so proud to show off their own work. We’re happy that we found our niche, our own art program, Making Art Through Storytelling with 6 unique courses. We wrote and published our coloring book on Chanukah, “The Hidden Light” and working on the second book about Colors and light vs darkness, “The Secret of Raz”. The very next day of 2019 pandemic we switched to online classes and events until summer of 2020, then we were one of the few art studios that held in-person summer and winter camps. We are excited for new people to come and experience RAZ and for the current students to continue growing with us. Also, we are excited for the upcoming year with a few projects in progress, like making DIY art kits. We are looking to our 2021 summer camps, where we will collaborate with the fitness/dance teachers to create a balanced art/sport summer camp program!
How did you get to where you are today professionally?
It was a hard labor and a slow process for the past 40 years! I started taking art classes from the age of six in Kiev, Ukraine, and every year since, I learned different skills, like drawing, painting, sculpting, carving on wood and stone, ceramics, oil gilding, and antique furniture restoration. It has never been easy! When I got my Master of Elementary Education Degree in the summer of 2008, LAUSD put a freeze on hiring any teachers. It did not stop me, but pushed me to create my own program and start to teach private art classes. I think, there are two biggest lesson I learned along the way. One was that every opportunity and challenge that was standing on my way, was a part of a puzzle, maybe a long and hard one, to lead me where I am today. And the second and the biggest lesson that I have learned and remind myself every day is that no one will do my job for me, no one will make my dream and vision come true. I got to do it myself, with other people’s help, of course.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
First, I want people to understand that art is not only painting and drawing, art can be anything and anywhere. Second, you don’t have to be an artist to make art or simply enjoy art. At RAZ we believe that ANYONE CAN BE AN ARTIST! Regardless your age, abilities, nationality, profession and any other limited believes. Since everyone got a story to tell, we help children and adults to unlock their creativity and produce their stories through various forms of art.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles now is in a very interesting stage, where most of the indoor places are closed. Thankfully, LA has many beautiful hikes and beaches that I would recommend my friends to visit! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am so happy that I can express my gratitude here to all the wonderful people who guided me through out my life and I am sure there will be many more, who I did not meet yet! Every person who I ever met in some way assisted me to become who I am now, starting with my parents. My mother was always taking me to different places to develop my curiosity, and my father helped me financially in the critical moments in my life. My childhood friends who supported me to nurture my dreams, and my teachers who gave me great advices. My husband, Avraham, who completely supports me in everything I want and do since we met until now, even he hardly understands my bigger vision.😊 My kids, who push me to do what I do every day to become a better mom, and move closer to my dream. All my Kabbalah teachers and friends who help me to work on myself to become a better communicator, leader and more caring and understanding human being and boss of my future huge company. My angel and right hand without whom I would not be able to have the most amazing past two years – Hagit Damto, who is by my side days and evenings. 😉 My biggest helper always was and will be – the Light of the Creator, who constantly gives me strength, sends me the right people, and keeps me focus on my vision! Thank you and love you all!
RAZ Studio and Films