Lisa Weaver was recently interviewed by TheCelebrity.Online Magazine and below is the Q&A session we had with her.
Lisa Weaver As Cover Story Interview – November 2023 Edition
Please share your background.
I am an avid purveyor of global design. As the daughter of a philanthropic interior designer and contractor, I had exposure to building and design from a young age. As a young person, I would take apart and somewhat-put-back-together furniture, which my parents greatly appreciated. I am a self-proclaimed “tool hoarder, tinkerer, widget manipulator and crafty nature lover.” I worked internationally for a number of well-known beauty and esthetic brands for over 15 years and the best part of traveling for work was learning about different cultures and communities. I would bring back treasures from my travels to customize my own space (my home is filled with trinkets from Morocco, Israel, El Salvador, Peru, Nepal, Thailand, Chile, Ukraine and so on.) These include a yak-hair rug, a lamp shaped like the Taj Mahal, and a silver, turquoise and amber Moroccan teapot that supposedly brings love into your life when you brew tea! Soon, my friends asked me to help design their homes too, and before I knew it, I was working professionally as an interior designer.
To further develop my skills, I enrolled in a trade school and took classes in furniture upholstery, sewing, design and building. My specialty became beautiful, functional spaces with a unique global twist (I design a lot of Airbnb properties).
In early 2020, I ordered a blanket online from a Ukrainian weaver for my bedroom. When it arrived, I was so impressed by the craftsmanship that I immediately struck up a friendship with the artisan (Olesya). That friendship blossomed into a partnership, and Hustle & Blush was born. I founded Hustle & Blush to combine my lifelong goals of helping women around the globe preserve their traditional crafts, while supporting communities with ethical business practices. Hustle & Blush is a line of fair trade-compliant, handmade items that partners with artisans in developing markets. We seek to honor their storied crafts while making them more relatable to the modern consumer. Hustle & Blush then reinvests a portion of our profits back into each of the markets we work with to create an equitable loop.
Our launch collection, Hustle & Blush, featured a variety of handwoven wool goods from the Carpathian Mountains of Western Ukraine. Shortly thereafter, we released our Fluff Ewes wool dryer balls that are hand-felted by female artisans in Nepal.
Our Fluff Ewes quickly became a cult favorite and category leader on Etsy. Shortly after achieving traction in the US market, I sent samples to contacts in Korea. Last summer, we debuted on Korea’s number one home goods TV Home Shopping Show and sold out of over 8,000 units in 15 minutes of the 30-minute broadcast. We have since been on six additional live shows, broken multiple sales records and have achieved further distribution in the market. The consistent volume has allowed us to employ over 450 women in Nepal.
We are currently looking to expand in the US market and are excited about what the coming year has in store. I still have the original blanket Olesya made at the foot of my bed, as a reminder of all that H&B has accomplished and will continue to do in the years to come.
Childhood to Adulthood – How was your transition from childhood to adulthood and what are the bad and good things you remember?
My childhood and teenage years centered around sports. Weekends, holidays and summer travel often revolved around basketball or softball tournaments, batting lessons, agility training, etc. Prior to school in junior high, I would get up before 5am to go to a training facility 3 mornings a week. While I was incredibly dedicated, I sometimes protested against the rigorous schedule. At 15, I blew out my knee playing basketball and needed to take a lengthy break. I decided to use the time to go study in Central America. I stayed with a family friend in Costa Rica and then lived with a family in El Salvador. My eyes were opened to a world of inconvenience, income disparity and culture. The experience highlighted how truly privileged my life back in California really was.
At 18, I went to college on a scholarship for basketball. The night before our opening game, I fell and blew out my knee again. I was devastated when learning that I’d never play again. My identity was linked to my athleticism and the team was my core social circle. Watching games from the sidelines was torture. I was lost and felt isolated, alone and purposeless.
My mom was the ultimate sounding board and encouraged me to look at a change of scenery for a bit. Going to Central America had shifted my perspective and connection to myself and the world at large. It brought me back to life. So, I decided to go study in Spain, and once again, live with a family. Being out of my comfort zone proved to test, motivate and free me from the constraints of the identity I held so dear. Learning about another culture and perceptions broadened my reality, opened my mind and challenged my worldview.
While releasing a long-held identity in athletics was hard, I had no clue the gift that I was being given. Experiencing that loss so early in my university life allowed me to remain on a scholarship while getting to study abroad. I went on to study in China and Washington DC, and was able to graduate with valuable work experience that landed me a great international role once out of school.
Struggle – What hardships have you gone through in life?
Over the years, there have been many personal and professional challenges that have kept me focused on creating a life and career rooted in balance, creativity, connection and giving back.
I was in a life-altering car accident about 9 years ago that changed the trajectory of my life. The left side of my face was crushed, my eye socket was demolished, 5 teeth were knocked out and my upper and lower jaw were broken. I had 25 surgeries, over an 8-year period, to rebuild the internal structure of my face and mouth. The need for work flexibility and time to heal became paramount to career growth. I shifted from working internationally for beauty companies to consulting and ultimately doing interior design. At the time, it was devastating. Yet, looking back, it was a gift. I was able to look inward and outline what would truly bring me joy and ultimately serve others, too.
Hustle & Blush launched in late 2020, during one of the most difficult seasons we, as a society, have ever faced. Due to Covid travel restrictions, we had to create our entire first collection virtually. Picking the color combinations, fine-tuning patterns, sizing adjustments etc, was all done over Google Hangouts – with a translator nonetheless! What made it even more challenging, with respect to our Ukrainian partnership, was that all of the patterns are drawn out on a type of grid/graph paper by hand. Our weavers are executing patterns that go back hundreds of years and they were not comfortable with us digitizing the process. This added another layer of complication to executing new styles, patterns, color combinations quickly and efficiently.
Like many companies, supply chain issues, Covid outbreaks at our production sites and import delays, littered our first year of operation. All of these struggles seem trivial in relation to what we faced next.
At the start, we employed about 50 people in Western Ukraine. Our team of weavers there are our family and our brand’s priorities shifted in February of 2022. The current war, and local devastation, has greatly impacted our team, their production capacity and the ability to export products. We have continued to work with those that still remain in Ukraine, despite the current hardship, and have provided thousands in both financial aid and wool goods to help our people and the local communities where they reside.
What do people usually not know about you?
I have been an animal-loving, creative entrepreneur since childhood. I had over a dozen animals – 4 bullfrogs, 6 guinea pigs, a dog, lizards, snakes and a beehive growing up. I loved getting in my beekeeping suit to attend to the hive after school. In my spare time, I would hang out in our bonus room with the menagerie and create all sorts of things.
At 10, or so, I crafted a line of custom sweat outfits and would sell them, along with jars of honey, honeycomb, homemade jam, fresh lemonade and sun tea, at a little farmer’s market style stand on the corner of our street. I enjoyed parading my array of animals out as trinkets to get people to stop and shop. I even executed a discount program for those that would bring their empty jars or honeycomb tins back when repurchasing.
As a family, we supported a nonprofit organization that provided schooling for children in El Salvador. We sponsored three children for years and were able to correspond with them via mail. Once we began getting an allowance, my brother and I had to contribute a portion to the monthly support for these kids. I would utilize the funds I got from my summer stand to garnish my portion of support for the year.
At 13, I was able to meet all three kids we had been supporting when down in El Salvador on a family trip. It was amazing to see how they had been impacted by getting an education. One was in college, studying to be a dentist and another was going to be a teacher. The third was still in high school. It was a profound lesson in the capacity to impact others lives in a positive way.
Looking back, this childhood experience and entrepreneurial model is somewhat similar to how I’m now executing Hustle & Blush. I have such fond memories of getting to integrate all of these passions into a creative outlet that served others, too.
What sets you apart from your competitors in the industry and in life?
One of the key things that sets Hustle & Blush apart is our witty and playful design aesthetic. Our Fluff Ewes dryer balls are as delight-inducing as they are effective. We believe that handmade creations can be as efficient as their machine-executed counterparts, while also providing fair paying jobs, sustainable supply chain practices and supporting development initiatives in the communities where they’re made. And while our practices are conscientious, guilting prospective buyers isn’t our jam. We’re cheeky, creative and offer originality in spades.
Each dryer ball is hand-felted in Nepal where it’s often difficult for women of certain castes to find employment. We seek to not only give these women work, yet also provide dignity and a sense of community, as well. Our team of 450+ women are provided fair trade wages, free childcare (for their little ones not yet in school), a hot meal each working day, menstrual education and products along with medical check-ups. The atmosphere at our production sites is infectious, cheery, communal and inspiring.
In addition, our Fluff Ewes dryer balls contain up to 50% more organic wool than other brands on the market, meaning they will last longer and be more effective, too. Each ball boasts a unique, hand-felted design that is sure to make laundry a less monotonous task as well.
What are your upcoming major events – Unforgettable Moments or products/services that you want to promote/inform?
We are currently in full holiday swing and have a number of fun promotions to support all of your gifting needs!
Our Fluff Ewes dryer balls are an adorable time and money-saving laundry hack that can be given to colleagues, teachers, loved ones or friends this season. Our “Sheep in Heavenly Peace” limited edition, holiday-inspired sets are sure to make recipients chuckle with delight. We are offering “Buy 3, Get 1 FREE” on all Fluff Ewes sets via our website this season.
We recently launched our Ewe Dew, line of laundry and home fragrance oils. These pair well with our dryer balls and make clothes smell heavenly without the use of harsh chemicals. There are bundled discounts of Fluff Ewes and the Ewe Dew oils available on our site, Etsy and Amazon.
What expert advice would you like to give?
Two pieces of advice that ring true for me are that curve balls, trials or unbearable scenarios in life can be leveraged to create profound and positive change, should we be willing to accept it. And your authentic passions and innate gifts can foster a unique career path that feeds your soul and serves the planet. Which in my book, is a win-win.
Please share your social media handles and website links.
- @hustleandblush. (IG and FB)