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Meet Erika Malone Violet and Sarah Karpicus Violet of Yellowbird

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika Malone Violet and Sarah Karpicus Violet.

Erika and Sarah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We started Yellowbird in 2016. Having met 26 years ago in our high school theatre department, it’s been a long-standing dream of ours to create a business together. Our vision for this business evolved in a variety of ways and has been shaped by our individual and collective life experiences over the past two decades. Over the years, we explored dance, visual art, theatre, music, and poetry on a personal level, through a professional lens, and in partnership with ritual and the healing arts.

Through these experiences, we learned how essential the arts and creative expression are to making sense of our lives and cultivating a sense of wholeness even with the ups and downs of life. Yellowbird started coming into form while we were in graduate school for expressive arts therapy and we began to realize that expressive arts, with its multitude of applications, was the field we wanted to invest our energy.

In our first year of graduate school, together with our class cohort, we created a multi-modal performance art piece to Andrea Gibson’s spoken word poem entitled “Yellowbird”. The poem speaks of humanity’s urgency to create and spoke to our desire to ensure that all people in our community have the opportunity to come into contact with the arts and harness the power of the imaginal realm and their own creative voice and potential. Choosing our name came easily and in our first two years of business, we’ve been focused on clarifying our company’s purpose, building our diverse range of programs and curating our organizational brand.

As of today, Yellowbird is an Artist-in-Residence program partner at Art Produce in North Park, and we also can be found at the Expressive Arts Institute in Point Loma. As expressive arts practitioners, we serve as guides and companions on the artistic journey. We are invested in providing expressive arts programs to youth and adults, with or without experience in the arts.

Yellowbird has a wide range of offerings including Expressive Arts Therapy (one-on-one sessions and groups), community dance classes, intermodal arts experiences (e.g. our signature, Enflesh Mask and Movement Series), and personalized group retreats. In addition, we partner with individuals, couples, families, and organizations to curate artisanal ritual and intentional ceremony for everything from housewarmings, bridal blessings, weddings to life transitions. In all of the above, we weave the threads of artistic expression, intentional ways of being, and the imagination.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As with any start-up, we find ourselves having to fill all the roles within the organization. Fortunately, we each had different strengths and different areas of growth. This has been fun and also provided opportunities for us to learn about new things. It has also slowed us down some in the evolution of the business.

In addition, we consider ourselves pioneers in our field which on our best days, sounds romantic, and on the challenges days feels rather heavy. Expressive Arts is a relatively new field within the United States and we have the pleasure of sharing part of its story through our offerings. Overall, the biggest challenge is continuing to work full-time jobs while Yellowbird is growing. Most of our spare time is devoted to our offerings and learning how to build and grow a business.

Please tell us about Yellowbird.
As co-founders, we bring different strengths and expertise to Yellowbird. Sarah brings her BFA in theatre performance, a certification in Intentional Creativity and 5 years of facilitating expressive arts and healing groups and retreats at Shakti Rising. Her long-standing love of photography, sewing, painting, and jewelry making brings a superb visual aesthetic to the organization. Erika’s 20-year career as a dancer and teaching artist in K-12 schools informs her unique approach as an expressive arts practitioner.

We look to our client’s testimonials when we think about what we are known for in our expressive artwork. We provide safe space to articulate, contact and express the yet undiscovered or disowned pieces of ourselves. We create a seamless weaving of personal process with community performance opportunities. We provide the ingredients for both subtle and bold transformational experiences, as clients make connections between their artistic and life choices.

We create healing environments that are artful, aesthetically pleasing, sacred, playful and safe. We carve out intentional space to honor life transitions through ritual and creative expression. We seek out and find the magic in our everyday lives and invite others to join us in savoring these experiences.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
One thing we wish we’d been aware of is that when you start a business and maintain full-time jobs, the business builds slowly and requires patience and the willingness to put your business ahead of other things. It’s one of those things you just don’t know that until you are in it. And now we’re in it! As we move forward, we cultivate staying power and enjoying the little successes along the way.


  • – $15 drop-in Youth & Adult Dance Class
  • – $40-60 New Home/Refreshed Home Intentional Space Clearing and Intention Setting
  • -$50-95 Individual Sessions
  • -$279 8 week Intermodal Expressive Arts group

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