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Daily Inspiration: Meet MariaFernanda Aytes-Montiel

Today we’d like to introduce you to MariaFernanda Aytes-Montiel.

Hi MariaFernanda, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hey guys! My name is MariaFernanda Aytes-Montiel. I am 26 years old, Mexican-American, born and raised in San Diego and Tijuana. I am the proud owner and artist behind Love Fern Crafts Handmade Resin Art. First off, I am super excited to share how my business came about and where my roots truly began. Every story has a beginning and mine started in San Diego. Living in SD my whole life, I was blessed to grow up around both cultures. Being so close to the Tijuana border was always something so amazing to me. I grew up watching my dad manage his own business down in Tijuana. He would buy Christmas trees from Oregon, US and transport them to Mexico to sell in a corner lot. This was probably the basis to my biggest inspiration to all my hard work and why I wanted a business of my own. I grew up not only watching him work hard at the business that he liked to do but genuinely and whole heartily enjoy every minute of it. I can proudly say that my dad’s last year of life, he got to manage a great year of business and teach me as much as he could before his passing in 2019.

Shortly after, I got married to my wonderful husband Tyler, who is not only a great partner but an amazing business associate —& heavy item handler. After getting married, we received orders from the Navy to move to the PNW. Having to leave not only both my jobs, my family, friends but everything I ever knew in San Diego. I was completely unaware of what was to come of me and my career. Once arriving here, I realized that it wasn’t going to be an easy ride to find a new job. I had loved being a server and being a registered behavioral technician and being able to work with people in the autism spectrum and receiving my certificate from San Diego City college, I felt hopeful that with that under my belt, I could possibly find something. Come to find out, having to move mid the start of the pandemic meant no luck with work. After dealing with several anxious days of, what will I do now?—I was completely lost like most of us was in 2020. My cousin suggests I should make some crafts and try resin as my new medium. Not only to pass my time and help me deal with my anxieties of the move but mostly because she wanted stuff and she knew I would make her exactly what she was looking for! To be fair, my cousin Isabella, has always been an admirer at everything I’ve ever made. So she knew at heart I would be the best resin artist for her particular ideas.

After a few trial and errors, I finally nailed my first successful batch of items! It was off my kitchen counter, with absolutely no idea how to work with this medium, only the simple instructions included in the box. All I knew at this point was I had ideas in my mind and a goal to make them happen. Never did it cross my mind that it could take off from those ideas into a now small business. After a few beautiful batches, my cousin and my husband suggested I should sell my art on Instagram. I sat with that thought for a couple of weeks and silently created it on my own. Then courageously, after much convincing, on September 1st, 2020. I officially opened up Love Fern Crafts Handmade Resin Art. Since my inspiration is connected from my roots back home, each piece is dedicated to a woman or man, who has inspired me to create that piece. It’s been inspiring to see each item be so unique. Most of my client base at the start of this business is from San Diego and It’s amazing to me to see how connected I am with my community regardless of being far. Although I find myself shipping to new locations, it has been an absolute dream to be represented in my hometown without physically being there— I’m in awe.

The connections I have made with other small business owners have encouraged me to keep on pourin’ ma heart out. If you ask me, I can be recognized in my home town because of other businesses who have valued my passions and my work. It’s mind-blowing to think that I’m here now because of my good friend Jocelyne Chavarin believing in my craft by letting me display my work at her shop in Chava Chic— located in Barrio Logan. The shop is inside the Art hub which is a space shared by other local artists in the community, so to me, it’s an absolute honor to be in the same space as such talented locals. As of now I continue to make sales over Instagram, Facebook, at Chava Chic, which is locally at Barrio Logan, and through my webpage. I can honestly say that at the start of this journey, I really had no idea where I would go with it but now that I’ve let my art do the guiding, it’s let me here to this interview and made me a business owner, so I am extremely thankful to get to share my story and how the inspiration starts from within me. I am extremely thankful for those who have supported me in every way, my husband, my mother, my family, my friends, my lovely customers and everyone who has rooted for my business along the way—I thank you all for love.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been a smooth road at all! Being a Small business owner means working without actual time in mind. Countless amounts of hours, trial and errors, attention to details, thinking of new designs and also the replicating of designs & color mixes. It has been one wild journey, nonetheless a journey I wouldn’t take again! It’s been awesome to see just how much my hard work pays off. To see how I started to where I am now. I’ve always worked for someone else and always try to go above and beyond in any job I’ve ever done, so to do that for my own business has been a blessing and a beautiful curse. I have come to learn that owning a business means you have to learn to set boundaries for yourself and time limits to things or else you’re working every day, all day- it will never be enough. Personally, for me, my biggest struggle has been my anxieties, I have found myself doubting my work and overthinking my every single step. I have been very open about my struggles with my anxieties over my work and have shared on my social media pages the struggles of personal life and being a business owner.

It has been so heartwarming to read all the feedback. My openness on my anxieties and struggles lets me connect with my clients on a real level; and it makes each piece sold feel even more special. Each comment, in person or online, has slowly opened my eyes to let me know I’m on the right track. There is people who appreciate my attention to detail and my true anxieties over the details. Over the year, I have to use my obsessiveness to my advantage and focus on the details that I can control; while also learning to put a brake on them as well. Working with resin as a medium of art means being extra, extra, patient. You never know if your mix was a bad batch and it won’t harden. Sometimes even adding colors end up being a complete smoothie of a mix. As much as I have learned to work with this medium, I have also learned to just let things go, let some details go. The errors I see are not the same as anyone else sees, and as hard as it is for me to let it go, I have to! The more I craft the more i realize that there are many who appreciate the beauty in my work and the amount of time it takes to craft the perfect resin art. I hope me sharing my mental battles offers others a guiding light, that they too can own their own small business and do what they love for work meanwhile battling real-life struggles.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am most known for my Resin, which is all handmade by me. I make everything from coasters, resin trays, ashtrays, incense holders, Jewelry jars, keychains and so much more! I fill my items with real pressed flowers, gemstones, fossils, crystals, flakes of gold and a whole lot of glitter!! Also, pieces with real gemstones from different countries; which are crafted to bring peace, comfort and tranquility to each home. My hand-painted Evil eye coasters are my most popular set, which is intended for protection against the evil eye and any negative energy. I craft every piece with the best intentions so that when they make it their new homes, they can do as intended and protect— or simply bring happiness and joy. What makes me so proud is that each piece is made with the best vibrations and I hope they bring each individual what they need. Even if it’s just a smile each time, they look at their keychain! I am constantly in Awe with how far I have come, with all the designs I have created and how none are ever the same. Each piece is unique on its own, much like a snowflake.

I hope I have made my dad proud, with what he showed me helped me build something of my own. He always told me I should do something with my art—pues Mira Apa. I hope I continue to make my mom proud because, without her help, I wouldn’t have half of the material I get to work with, the love is felt miles away. To my family & family; I hope you are proud too because, without the beauty that you all bring into my life, I wouldn’t have half the inspiration I do for each piece. It’s named after the people I love for a reason, which is true inspiration from all of you.

Can you talk about how you think about risk?
Yes, I consider myself a risk-taker not only because I decided -unknowingly at the time- to build a business with resin but put myself and my struggles out there as well. Being an artist is not always the easiest route to take, and many don’t get to see the darker side of what being a business owner is like. Some days are scarier than others, and some days offer more doubt than reassurance.

Putting my work, my art, my heart, my inspirations for the world to view is a risk. I opened this business with little to nothing of supplies, but I took the risk, I saw the investment in myself and my work and I took my chance. I think there are some moments in life where they perfectly align for you to take chances, take a risk, and try something you’ve never done before. I had never put my art for sale, but yet here I am. I was never a business owner before, yet here I am. Life is about taking risks worth taking, and when they come, you’ll know. Much like how I knew I met the love of my life when I met my husband, just like that, you know this is the route & risk to dive into.

Pricing:

  • Trays range from $21-$42
  • Keychains range from $5-9
  • Victoria Jars $16-$25
  • Ashtrays $10-$16
  • Paint palettes $21-$25 Evil Eye coasters $7-$60

Contact Info:

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