Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Are you ready for a special treat?
It has been a while since Lilspirations had a Featured Spotlight post! (In case you didn’t know, Featured Spotlight is when we shine the light on someone and readers can go behind the scenes to learn about the maker/owner!) 2015 was a good year where I had the incredible opportunity of meeting owners such as Solomon Choi (founder of 16 Handles), Tony Quach (founder of Snowdays), and makers like the talented Andrea Watson and Kristine Brookshire. This time, I’m super excited to feature someone new to the business and having a really awesome purpose behind her work.
Meet Anqi Huang, who just started her Etsy business to help young homeless women out in the city of Seattle. She realized that if she can use her talent of creating origami lilies and partnering up with local non-profit organizations, then she would be able to get the homeless the help they need or want. Through an interview, I learned more about Anqi’s mission and purpose behind her origami!
So nice to connect with you, Anqi! How did you begin the interest of making paper lilies to sell?
Driving through downtown Seattle last year on vacation, we drove past several young homeless women. That really caught me by surprise. I see homeless people back in Pittsburgh and New York all the time, but they’re usually older men. I wondered how these 20-something women became homeless, and if there was anything I could do to get them out of the streets. From my limited perspective, if I can get housing taken care of, that is one big step toward living the life they desire.
Just months prior to this trip, I was experimenting with making different kinds of paper flowers with the hope that it’ll turn into something bigger. Weeks later I finally put these two ideas together. I narrowed down to just making origami lilies. I like the verses in Matthew 6:25-34 that talk about how lilies grow in the wild, and that they are even better dressed than Solomon in all his splendor. If God cares for these wild lilies, wouldn’t he much more take care of us?
If I can teach someone to just make origami lilies, and pay them $1 per flower, 20 lilies a day could earn them $600 a month. In most medium size cities in the US, that would be sufficient to pay for rent. This is all very ideal of course. To fully kick off this project, I would need to partner with local homeless non-profit and other social work organizations to assist a homeless person to get the help they need.
You’ve just started this Etsy business recently. What do you envision a year from now?
In a year, I envision to have made more contacts with people and organization I can partner with. I also would like to increase publicity for the shop, and create more prototypes.
Have you always known how to do origami?
Origami was something I picked up in middle school. It was popular in my circle of friends, and we would make paper stars, cranes, etc. during lunch.
Your lilies have a good cause behind them. Where will the proceeds go?
Currently all proceeds are going to local homeless nonprofits.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I love getting together with friends to just eat and hang out. Brunch is my favorite!
Want a chance to win this beautiful origami lily bouquet made by Anqi? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and e-mail address, and a winner will be selected at random by Wednesday, February 17th, 2016! As always, thanks for reading! xoxo