Art from ashes

Student owned business provides purpose during quarantine

Hailey Echan, Features Editor

Lily Morgan holds up one of her custom painted desert canvas bags. (Lily Morgan)

On a day-to-day basis, especially at college, students explore and discover who they are by stepping out of the box society places them in and into who they want to be.

Junior visual communications major, Lily Morgan has been able to find her own way out of this box through her art and her business.

“I feel like the more I’ve begun to step out of the box of who I thought I was supposed to be and explore who I want to be, the more positive response I’ve gotten,” Morgan said. 

Morgan’s business, Lavender Lily Studios, started in August 2019. From then, until stay at home orders were put in place, her business consisted of selling terrariums, plants, garden signs, and macrame at local festivals.

Before borders were shut down due to COVID-19, Morgan’s plan was to study art history in Rome for part of the summer and make money selling at festivals the rest of the summer. 

“When COVID hit all the festivals were cancelled so I really had to rethink Lavender Lily because I couldn’t really mail terrariums,” Morgan said.

The start of quarantine led to Morgan investing in an iPad, a Cricut machine, and a quality printer so that she could further pursue her next vision for her business.

“I started selling stickers, custom stickers…and started this portrait project called Purposeful Portraits,” Morgan said. “The project consists of creating custom portrait commissions and donating 10% of the profits to the COVID-19 Emergency Arts Fund of King County that helps small businesses struggling during these times.” 

After small successes came out of her custom designs, Morgan added resin designs and jewelry to her business in addition to more self-marketing via Tik-Tok and creating her own Etsy shop. 

“I opened up my Etsy shop on July 5th. That day one of my [Tik-Tok] videos got like 700 views and the next day one of my videos got up to 23,000 views so I sold out of my shop in less than twelve hours,” Morgan said. 

Since then Morgan has had the chance to reflect on the importance of her business and the role her art has played in forming who she is now. 

Morgan was not always this confident. The first half of her life was spent in a box, not knowing who she was or who she wanted to be.

One of Morgan’s self-designed prints that features ‘weed-out self-doubt’ and ‘believe in yourself’. (Lily Morgan)

“I struggled a lot with figuring out who I was when I was a kid. I was bullied a lot,” Morgan said. 

Due to Morgan’s differing financial background in comparison to the other students attending her high school, she never felt like who she was would be enough. 

“I come from an extremely low-income community and they all seemed to have more money than me,” Morgan said. “Often I dressed and talked in a way that I thought others wanted me to just so that I could fit in.”

She was bullied for more than just where she came from. Morgan was often made fun of for lack of money and the necessity to work.

“At one point during high school my mom was unemployed for almost a year and my stepdad is disabled so he doesn’t work. I had a craft job at a little store and that was our only income.”

The long term effects of the bullying and constantly attempting to fit into other people’s expectations made it difficult for her to truly find herself at first. Slowly, her business gave her the freedom to explore more of who she wanted to be.

“I became very defensive and built up all these walls. It has taken a lot of relearning to take those down,” Morgan said. “But I continue to give myself the grace to grow.” 

Lavender Lily Studios has proven to be the best place for Morgan to grow. An inseparable bond has formed between her and her art.

One of Morgan’s recent illustrated prints depicting ‘plants over pants’. (Lily Morgan)

“I have poured myself into Lavender Lily…my art is now every fiber of who I am. My business gave me life, especially during quarantine.”

Through all of the ups and downs that life threw at Morgan, she was able to use art and her business to express herself and bring joy to all of her customers. 

“I’m glad I went through all that I did because now I’m able to really discover who I am,” Morgan said. 

Follow @lavenderlilystudios to check out more designs and products from Lavender Lily Studios