The Pink Interviews: Laura Ferrara
Ok, let’s be honest, I have a huge girl crush on Laura Ferrara.
She is not only beautiful and is the type of woman who looks amazing in overalls, she also happens to be the type of women that upon first meeting her I got an overwhelming sense of warmth with an equally overwhelming sense of purpose. I met her on a fall day in the Hudson Valley at Westwind Orchard, the farm/shop/restaurant she and her husband own. As an entrepreneur I am always looking for guidance or examples, especially in other women…how do they run their business? How do they balance their life? Seeing Laura on her farm, and then seeing her incredible fashion styling jobs unfold, she’s the type of woman I would like to be. Empowered to make decisions to have a quality family life, a creative career, and purposeful mission. She was one of the first women I thought of upon launching our Pink Glass Series. How does she feel craft can make change? Is it important to her?
Her answers are charming and inspiring.
Does the color pink bring up any particular emotion?
The color pink has a lot of positive associations for me. Although I myself may not often wear pink now, throughout my life I have worn different shades of pink. I wore neon pink when I was into punk rock. Although I haven’t worn makeup since I was a teenager, in the 70s I would always wear roll on lip gloss in bubblegum pink. The color reminds me of growing up in Brooklyn and wearing my favorite pink halter top with my Levis to Coney Island in the summer and eating pink cotton candy. It reminds me of youthfulness, being a girl, innocence and the freedom of summer. Now as an adult that fondness for pink has manifested itself in other ways. One of my best friends, Ryan Roche is an amazing designer, she does all of these lovely pink knits, and she even dyes her poodles pink. There is something soothing about pink, in the way that friendship is soothing. Even though I myself may not really wear pink, it brings up the emotions of love, friendship and these amazing people in my life with whom I share beautiful experiences.
Through this time of tension, uncertainty, surreal political environment (all understatements), how do you use your creativity to impact, or to cope?
I’m a fashion stylist by trade and there have been many inspirational people who I have been fortunate to work with because of this. Christy Turlington, is an example, who with her organization Every Mother Counts is promoting maternal health programs across the globe, using her platform in the industry to reach and inspire women.
I just did an editorial based on women’s rights slogan t-shirts, proceeds from the sales of which would go to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU but that’s just a small part of how I use creativity to make an impact. Whether it’s a fashion story or a project on my farm, being creative means organically transforming and bringing something new into being – something that moves me, and that others will hopefully enjoy or find inspiration in.
One of my main sources of support and inspiration is often my husband Fabio who inspires me everyday, we are each other’s support system, always there for each other and we have worked together to create our family farm, Westwind Orchard. The farm was originally his dream, created through his strong will to save an orchard in New York’s Hudson River Valley that was nearly abandoned with 60 year old trees that were dying. He became the steward of the land of this overgrown orchard and with his desire to save the trees and the story behind them we created Westwind Orchard which has become a beautiful place that we are able to enjoy as a family and share with our friends. When I am there with my husband and our son Matteo, sowing actual seeds and the seeds of love is a great way to cope. We embrace the generosity of the people that come to our farm to visit us. Everyone is welcome and by visiting us they are coming together to share in an experience, have a conversation, enjoy mother nature – which in itself is creativity at its most pure form. I think creativity can be used to make an impact in so many ways just by cultivating connections between people. Even though your political opinions are different from someone else maybe you find a way to communicate through the most basic of human experiences.
How do you see craft as a viable, or even powerful, form of protest?
Craft is not just about going out and buying fabric and materials. I think with craft you have to be resourceful, and being creative is about being resourceful by finding creative solutions. Sometimes in the most hopeless of situations people need to create, people need to feel like they’re producing something meaningful. Sometimes when the economy declines people become much more inventive and creative and aware of their surroundings and what can be reused. The arts and crafts movement that started in the late 1800s in England as a reaction to industry and became a movement of not only design reform but social reform, a protest against mass production. It was all about craftsmanship and placing a greater value on the process of creating rather than on the art object itself. I also think of the arte povera movement, which literally means poor art or impoverished art, it was an Italian art movement in the 1970s which focused on a return to simple objects and messages, making the everyday and commonplace meaningful, and took inspiration from traces of natural life, using organic materials like earth, rocks and flowers. I think movements like this are destined to reappear when the political landscape is grim. With the tumultuous political environment at the moment I do believe that there is a lot of art and craft taking place as a form of protest, even some of the signs that we have seen at demonstrations and artists coming together to not only create but to be advocates for and support very important causes.
Could you expand on the connection between creativity and positivity?
I think when you feel that you can express yourself in any form, not just through craft – whether it’s through dance, surfing, farming, acting, being a doctor, leading a cause, being a coach -whatever makes you happy, you will emit positivity to others around you. I think one of the best explanations of this comes from psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who described the phenomenon of flow, the few moments in time when you are so completely engrossed in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. This is when you are so absorbed in something that hours pass and you don’t realize it, you truly lose yourself in your actions. This can be intellectual, creative, professional or physical, whatever is going to release endorphins in your brain and give you a feeling of hope and prosperity. You become truly happy in the moment of doing something that requires both your action and your awareness. I think everyone can be creative in their daily life by doing what they are passionate about, doing something good, expanding an act of kindness and finding what leads them to experience this flow.