It was a random weekday evening in Indianapolis and we were setting up shop in the parking lot of Shapiro’s, across the street from a Farmer’s Market, for the Handmade Promenade. The tents were already set up for us, thank goodness, so I started hefting the product and display from the van while the hubs stayed in the car with our then sleeping baby. I’m not sure who came first, me or them, but the point is, my neighbors soon became what I like to think as life-long friends, and definitely one of my most inspiring role models. Meet Lori (and then boyfriend, now husband and baby daddy Nich). See, the funny thing is, I already knew Nich as a (used to be) teenage friend of my husband’s back in his DDR days. And while he’d aged a few years, he was still the funny and outgoing kid with the mohawk and septum piercing I’d met years ago, and he introduced me to his quite cute, shaved head, remotely timid girlfriend Lori. And I was sold.
Lori set up her ceramic booth next to mine and I was already inspired and feeling a little ‘less than’. This HP show was Lori’s FIRST ever craft show, and I simply couldn’t believe it. Her work was so original, amazing, and, well, AWESOME. She had teapots with etched Godzilla’s on them, tiles with crazy cats, and roly poly tea cups with the cutest little mustached characters. But, this was just the beginning. This was 2010, and in a couple more years Lori was going to EXPLODE and grow in so many more ways I can’t even begin to describe.
Let me give you a teeny bit of history on Lori. See, she’s from NOLA originally, having escaped Katrina for the Hoosier State. She then graduated from Herron School of Art, met Nich, fell in Love, got married, and had a beautiful beautiful baby girl. In the meantime she was honing her style, her design, and herself as a young twenty-something surrounded by hip/fads in the Midwest. She also started teaching classes at her local Pottery Studio and fell in Love with teaching and molding young minds about art. She definitely came out victorious.
Enter 2012 when Lori became fed up with the typical characterization (or lack thereof) of female figures in her daughter’s world. From video games to literature, Lori was disappointed in the archetype of female characters and decided to dedicate her next body of work (a series of 12 Doll Jars) to changing that vision. She launched her Kickstarter on August 1, 2011. In TWENTY-FOUR hours her project was fully funded and still growing. Instead of Lori just absorbing the extra funds to cover even more supply costs (which was the initial goal of the Kickstarter) she reached out to her community. She organized a free workshop for underprivileged girls to create their own Girl Stories in pottery. It didn’t stop there though! She went on to organize a gallery show wherein the girl’s work (as well as her own) would be on display, and where a local 19 year old musician would perform: The Girl Stories Art Show at the Wheeler. I had the honor of being able to visit the opening and listen and watch and learn.
Lori was simply amazing throughout all of this. She wrote press releases, was featured on IndyStyle and all the while kept all of her backers happy by updating them about the project they helped to fund. Sure, it might have been overwhelming, but Lori never showed it. She never faltered. Every day she posts about Girl Power on her business FB page and she definitely practices what she preaches. She’s on a mission to fill this world with proper Girl Stories for her little girl to grow up with, and I just know this is just the first of many such great endeavors for Miss Lori Leaumont. In fact I know it, because she’s already facing a new fear (public speaking) as a finalist in Big Car’s 5×5 event where she will convince the audience that her idea is worth $10,000 to create a mobile workshop!! Onward and Upward Lori!