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November Vendor Spotlight: Holy Matter/s

My name is Camellia Jahanshahi, I'm an Iranian-American multidisciplinary artist from NYC who has been living in MTL for about the past 4 years. I've been a working artist for about 7 years but a creator my whole life and I love exploring color, texture, and magick within all the mediums I work with. My art is heavily inspired by my own magical practices and I view all of my self-care projects as spell work meant to help boost and accompany your own practices and daily routines. I also take inspiration from SWANA mythology, nature, memento mori commentaries, and a deep thirst for more color.

What inspired you to start a business? Grand dreams of success and abundance.

How did you come up with your business name? Holy Matter/s is actually the second name I have had in my art business endeavor. It comes from a book I read during my MA program where I studied Religion and Culture. A lot of the personal art projects I embark on are explorations between the divine and the profane and my art is largely a place for me to play around with what "matter" or "things" people find "holy" or "divine" and why/how/ etc. So for me, Holy Matter/s is saying Holy Matter Matter's or Holy Matter Holy Matter/s. In hindsight, I feel like there are probably cooler and more accessible ways of explaining that in a logo, but the point is my work is here as a playground for me to explore all the physical and tangible things that we humans can consider holy, divine, and sacred. I love exploring concepts of death, the magic within the natural world, mysticism, and ancient mythology that treats the divine as a regular part of life. From an anthropological perspective, anything can be holy or profane depending on the people and framing involved and I think that's fascinating and big-time inspirational.

What is your favorite thing that you make and why? This is impossible to answer as someone who creates over so many different mediums! I love putting together my ritual boxes and magical body/self-care items. It's been very fun to bring more and more of my magical work into my art and business practice. But I really move in cycles where one week I'll be really into my illustrations or paintings, the next my clay, then costume pieces or randomly found object sculptures, then maybe painted clothes for like 3 months... I'm someone who can't make things, if I go more than a few days without creating I'm cranky and frustrated so it's really hard to pick favorites since everything is important to regulating my moods and ensuring my happiness.

Tell us about the progress you've made since you first started There are way too many changes to list, but the biggest shift I'm working on now is moving away from a scarcity mindset and into an abundant one. Networking and trying to sell my work is really hard and uncomfortable for me because it's a very vulnerable act and often one that I've hustled the most for when I'm in an extremely financially precarious state which has often made me timid when I needed to be fierce. So now my progress is in actively welcoming in abundance and embracing my work as worthy of sales.

Describe your creative process Organized chaos fueled by binging cartoons.

What is the best part of being an entrepreneur? It's very fluid and you get to constantly try new things without having to justify yourself or your process to a boss.

What is the hardest part of running your own business? The hardest thing is that every business is different so even though there are lots of business blueprints you can follow, there isn't ever going to be a perfect ready-made plan for you and your work because everyone’s work is different. So it's hard to navigate the basics around the more technical and admin-y sides of things- especially when you're doing it all yourself! Everyone will have different opinions and perspectives and even if they're all good it's still never a guarantee that something will work for you so there's a constant effort in understanding what works for you in terms of promo, suppliers, pricing points, all those nitty-gritty detail things are hard.

What are your business goals for the future? My next big goal is to tone down the number of things I offer and after this holiday season turn my focus onto finishing my SWANA mythology painting series and immersive oracle deck project! I am planning for that to be my main focus for the next year or two and put more effort into showcasing my work in gallery spaces.

What's your biggest business regret? Ordering multiples of prints before they sold. Always just order one or two as samples for photos and then just print what's ordered as they come in. Save yourself the storage and the money.

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