Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Grier.
Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
I became a photographer because I was obsessed with watching the French explorer Jacques Cousteau and the National Geographic channel growing up. Inspired by the character Indiana Jones, I was considering following the path down to adventure towards archaeology. With my interests, it was great that both of my parents worked for the CIA and had us living worldwide. I lived in Italy, Jakarta, and London, Indonesia – constantly surrounded by new cultures and their languages. Thus, my bubble expanded, and my travel bug became a core part of who I am and how I work. Embracing the unexpected growing up, I combined the adventure of being Indiana Jones with my love for National Geographic and became a non-stop photographer.
I founded Beautiful Day Photography and focused quite a bit on destination weddings, and eventually was led to my dream – National Geographic. I am now the lead photographer for NOVICA, National Geographic’s artisan catalog showcases vanishing arts worldwide. This has led me all over, but most notably led myself and Pats Krysiak on the trek to co-found Andeana Hats. These hats come from varieties of alpaca wool handmade by Quechua Artisans in Peru and handwoven palm hats made by K’iche Artisans in Guatemala. With this established, we can expand these artisans’ ancient crafts to share everywhere, which helps preserve their unique weaving and language infused with intention into the woven bands that go around the hats. It’s been incredible, and the journey keeps going. Since then, I have traveled to all seven continents and eighty-six countries and counting! I’m based happily in Los Angeles but can often be found quite literally everywhere. Traveling with purpose and giving back have become my life’s work.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wish someone had told me how to brand myself from the beginning and how success is such an intangible thing – just doing what you love and believing in what you get up for each morning. Lack of confidence and fear can get in the way of everything. Learning to live with it and grow from it is the key. Sometimes I spread myself too thin – I often struggle to say no. But lately, I’ve been learning to take my time outside of my work to be present with the people in my life and then give my full attention when it’s needed on days I am purposeful. Something I’ve considered is that being a female photographer can be difficult. Still, it’s not always limiting – I find that, in the wedding industry, it can be easier to capture those tender moments of a bride getting ready for her big day. I often establish a beautiful bond with my clients where being a woman gives me perspective to a naturally emotional side. Of course, with being a photographer, despite gender and age, the work will always speak for itself.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Andeana Hats was established because of our love for the Sacred Valley, Peru. Both founders, myself and Pats Krysiak, adored everything from its culture and people to the land and energy. While traveling the Ausangate trek across the Rainbow Mountains, we met many incredible Andean women and were enthralled with their unique hats and the weavings abundantly surrounding us! We wanted to share the energy of the Sacred Valley with the world and help bring awareness to these female artisans. Thus, Pats and I combined our hat styles with their traditional weavings to create unique apparel that shares the energy and culture of the Andean people in the lives of those who wear it.
Every Andeana Hat and Intention Band is hand-shaped or woven out of alpaca wool by Quechua artisans living in the Andes Mountains of Peru. They are the Inca people’s descendants and practice what National Geographic calls a “vanishing art.” Their ancient weaving tradition has been passed down for centuries by the women in their culture. And unfortunately, these traditions will die out without a global marketplace to share and sell these goods. With the bands of our hats, we see incredible woven patterns. The Quechua language is oral or woven! There is no written form to it, so we are essentially keeping their language and history alive by keeping these woven designs alive through this global marketplace. Each woven “intention band” has a different Quechua meaning. They can be taken on or off of any hat to allow the wearer to choose the intention they want to have on. And due to the traditional nature of the craft, no two hats or bands will ever be exactly alike! We wanted to pay our respects to Pachamama – Mother Earth – by acknowledging the energy and spirituality of the Andean people through each of the woven designs on our hats.
We’re very committed to not disrupting the flow of their village life as they weave and work at their own pace that allows for their farming and families’ schedules. Because of this, each hat takes about three weeks to finish, and we create limited amounts of Andeana Hats every month.
Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
I feel that determination is the number one quality we have in our success with everything we do. It’s infused with passion and the ability to see a vision through – to not give up on it when the obstacles come because they will come, but to commit wholeheartedly. It’s breathing through the worst times and soaking up the best. I feel that a balance of mind and spirit with determination truly creates an unfaltering route to achieving what the heart desires most.
- Andeana Alpaca Wool Hat w/ Intention Band – $195
- Andeana Palm Woven Hat w/ Intention Band – $135
- Andeana Oversize Palm Woven Inti Sun Hat – $175
- Intention Band – $25
- Website: https://www.andeanahats.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andeanahats/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andeanahats
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6SEwZUpeBWgWO1T-tNmtbA
Beautiful Day Photography Photographer: Laura Grier