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Black History Month Spotlight: Lisa Hunt

by Grace Bonney

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I believe goals are meant to change and grow with a business over time, and here at Design*Sponge, ours are always evolving. What began as a site purely about things and how we arrange them in our homes has turned into a community of people who are equally interested in the people and stories behind those things. In that change of focus from products to people, I realized I had a lot of work to do to make sure Design*Sponge reflected everyone in our community. So over the past few years we’ve worked hard to ensure that every part of our site, from our team and the homes we show to the products and designers we cover, are inclusive and welcoming every day of the year.

This week marks the start of Black History Month and in addition to our commitment to covering designers of color every week of every month, I’m going to be posting special spotlights all month that celebrate some of my favorite black designers, artists and makers. As always, we love to learn about new creatives we should be covering here, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free to share them below. But until then, I hope you’ll enjoy these special spotlights this month. xo, grace

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Today’s spotlight is artist and designer Lisa Hunt. I had the honor of interviewing Lisa for In the Company of Women and continue to be inspired by her bold style and stunning use of gold leaf. Read on after the jump to learn more about Lisa and her work — and catch an excerpt of her interview from the book! xo, grace

Photography by Sasha Israel for In the Company of Women

After graduating from Pratt Institute with a degree in graphic design, Lisa worked at several design firms before becoming the creative director of Essence Magazine, where she worked for over 20 years. 

But after two decades of publishing work, Lisa decided to return to her true love: creating her own artwork. Now Lisa is based in Brooklyn, NY, where she shares a studio with her husband, artist Kyle Goen.

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Lisa’s work uses bold shapes and patterns, highlighted by glorious sections of gold leaf. I am counting down the days until I can (hopefully) buy Lisa’s work in the form of wallpaper. Because these patterns feel like they were made to fill a jewel box of a room. Until then, I will be here in my living room coveting her beautiful artwork and watching to see what beautiful piece she creates next. Below is an excerpt from Lisa’s interview in In the Company of Women — I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

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What did you want to be when you were a child?

I went through several phases as a child, ballerina, Solid Gold dancer, construction worker, bus driver! I remember telling my grandmother I wanted to be an artist and she told me I would starve. Scarred for life! I also remember sitting in my bedroom window and watching the construction of a new house next door to our house. I was fascinated as I watched the construction workers laying bricks that eventually made a wall. I thought, what an amazing job to be outside all day in the sun getting dirty and making a house! Making something useful with your own two hands, I told my mom I wanted to be a construction worker! Now as I sit in my sunny studio designing and making with my own two hands useful and beautiful things for the home, I can’t help but be reminded of my childhood admiration of construction workers.

What does success mean (or look like) to you?

Success to me is the ability to work towards your dreams while being appreciative and present with where you are. You have to enjoy the journey, life is too short not to.

Name the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned in running a business.

Trust your instincts! There’s nothing worse than realizing that your first instincts were right and second guessing led to a costly mistake. As women, we’re taught to second guess ourselves and to look for others for direction and guidance. Most times my inner voice tells me in a flash what I want, need and who to trust. I’m learning to honor that inner voice.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

I am nothing if not resilient! I’ve nurtured the ability to feel nervous but jump in anyway and know that if I make a mistake or misjudgment, I have the smarts to work things out. It wasn’t always like that, with age comes wisdom.

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