I have had several spooky encounters lately, not in the traditionally spooky sense, but more the 'wow this is the universe weaving me into the fabric of the cosmos through specific people and projects' kind of way.
Meeting the creator of Sol Authentica, an ethically made, Palm Desert-based brand, was that.
Laura Kelly has started the most beautiful and sustainably made hat and accessories company that is all for a pretty spectacular cause. She was putting together her first photoshoot for Sol and seeking local talent right around the time I was getting pretty anxious about not having done anything creative for too many moons. I reached out to her to see how I could help, scheduled a fitting, and lo and behold, this mug of mine is all over the website!
No more than thirty minutes into our fitting, I realized we had already met. We were sitting on her couch talking about the different boroughs we had lived in New York when I noticed a very familiar West Elm rattan candle holder. Before the pandemic, I worked at West Elm as a designer and sales associate, so I knew the inventory well. This particular candle holder had been sought out, in bulk, by a wedding planner mere months before the pandemic. It was Laura, of course, who also owns a successful event planning company called Josefina Events.
I remembered her voice, like chimes, super upbeat and sunny. I'm not great with names and faces, but voices never leave me for some reason. We both had a "Holy shit this is wild." moment and quickly began to realize we most certainly met again for a reason. You kind of can't help but smile when you talk to Laura. Her energy is just that good. Laura, like me, does not do small talk and we got right into our passions and our struggles. We talked about how her time in Nepal changed the trajectory of her life and ultimately led her to create Sol Authentica, how the pandemic had knocked us both on our asses, and how passionate we both are about mental health. I knew this she was my kind of gal immediately.
Sol is all about being the light you need in your life. Like me, Laura has struggled with anxiety and depression and found that the light she needed was in her all along; a revelation I have also had recently! This company is a product of that journey and aims to connect and serve artisans with the empowerment that comes with being paid a fair wage.
I haven't even gotten into how beautiful the products are. Every bit of the hats is biodegradable. You could bury one of these hats and they would simply return to the Earth (not that you'd ever want to, but how fucking cool?!). Each style centers around a specific element to signify the city, the mountains, the beach, and the desert and they are all super chic and classic shapes. They are made by women in Ecuador who are keeping generations of tradition alive with each, meticulously-crafted hat. Laura went straight to the source, so no middle men subtracting from the artisans' profits. Sol also sells these gorgeous gemstone hatpins and bolo-style necklaces/hat bands that I'm in love with. These pieces are made in small batches by female artists in the U.S.
This company is not just talking the talk and selling cool stuff. Sol Authentica donates a portion of all sales to mental health organizations. Laura believes strongly in giving back and access to mental health care is, unfortunately, a luxury for many when it is so critical for all. So, this is her way of contributing to organizations that empower and support people who are struggling to find their own light.
She had me at biodegradable, but this was the real kicker for me. I knew I wanted to be involved with this brand in any way my creativity could contribute.
The day of the shoot was a dream. I was surrounded by bright-shining, talented women in one of the most gorgeous Joshua Tree properties I have ever seen (@desertwild_jt). There was laughter, there was rosé, and it all went by entirely too fast.
These gorgeous photos were taken by Lauren Scotti (@laurenscotti), an Orange county-based photographer. I highly recommend peeping her Instagram for the world's most gorgeous wedding photos. She was delightful to work with (and I loved her Tevas). Our brilliant stylist, Lauren Tahvilian (@reFreshglam), fully understood the assignment of city, mountain, beach, and desert. She made the entire fitting process so much fun and she let me wear my vintage cowboy boots (YAS!).
Trisha Daves (@hairandmakeupbytrishaa) had me in the fishtail braid of my dreams, and I am sorry to everyone who had to suffer through an entire day of Instagram stories documenting the makeup. Did you see it though?! I felt like Doris Day in Calamity Jane after she discovers femininity. To top it all off, Laura brought the sunshine and created a truly lovely environment for us all.
I ended the day with kick-ass new friends and the excitement you feel when you know you've just been a part of something special.