By Brian Rojas
For this series, we are highlighting local Santa Monica artisans that are part of the Market Exchange project, initiated and facilitated by the artists Cog•nate Collective. Market Exchange is a collaboration between Santa Monica artisans and Cog•nate Collective that creates platforms for empowerment by establishing alternative economic forms of self-determination for local crafts people and small businesses. This collaboration is dedicated to honoring the richness of artisan production in Santa Monica towards developing a community-envisioned and community-directed marketplace that will amplify the works of local artisans and artists, while providing sustainable economic opportunities. You can learn more and purchase artisanal products at marketexchange.18thstreet.org. In this post, we highlight artist Lily Alinaghizadeh and her family.
Lily Alinaghizadeh was born in Iran and moved to the United States in 2005. It’s been 16 years since she moved to Los Angeles and the Santa Monica area. At the beginning of the pandemic, Lily was sent home from school and found herself with a lot of free time. Lily and her mom started doing activities with crafts. This led Lily to learn how to crochet and make jewelry. Lily learned to crochet from both her grandmother and mom. It began with using crafts as a distraction to get through difficult times. Starting an Instagram page where she shares pictures of her work has been a significant factor in Lily’s growth. People were interested in purchasing her items, and she began to grow her artisanal business from there.
In the beginning stages, Lily found herself struggling with knitting during the process, often messing up the pattern. Crocheting and jewelry making have brought Lily and her family closer together. Both Lily and her family have developed their artistic sides as a result of the pandemic. It’s been interesting for Lily to meet and see what other vendors in the community have been working on during this pandemic. Now that school has started, Lily aspires to network with other students in the hopes of influencing or sharing her work on campus. Lily feels that her work does not cater to a single demographic, but rather she strives to create distinctive designs that will appeal to people of all ages.
Lily has already used her Instagram platform to donate earnings to charities such as a Children’s Hospital, since she wants to work in medicine. When Lily works on these projects, she prioritizes being able to recycle and reuse as much material as possible. Most importantly, Lily wants to express her gratitude for Market Exchange, and the chance she and her family have had to share their work with the community.
IN HER OWN WORDS:
“I want the community to know about this project I’ve been working on with crocheting and jewelry making. It’s been a way of my family and I getting closer with one another and just becoming more innovative with what types of designs we can do that are unique, just unique to us. We just wanted to share what we’ve learned and what the artistic side of the pandemic has brought out within us.”