We had the good fortune of connecting with Emma Schonenberg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emma, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My thought process was very basic and came from instinct. I had discovered an industry that was very appealing to me, but having no information here in El Salvador, I had to do research on my own and experiment/try out trade shows. I really had no idea what I was doing, I just knew I needed to dedicate my work to Surface Pattern Design.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started out not know what I was doing, but thanks to people like Britt, I started exhibiting in the right trade show: Printsource NY. There I found out one thing that made me stand out and that was color palette. I was selected by Mark Woodman (now a dear friend of mine) to be in the article he was writing for MIX magazine of upcoming designers in the show. I appeared in the article 2 yrs in a row. It was there I realized my color palette was different from the rest – might be because of my Latin background.
The struggles I encountered were mainly the distance. I live in El Salvador and traveling to NY, hotel, all the expenses can be high…. But in my heart, this is what I wanted, so I would always save up money and exhibit. I was the only Latin designer to exhibit for a few years (that also motivated me), but being so far from where my clients where was always a challenge.
Lessons learned… NEVER give up on your dream! Trade shows usually take time to see the return of your investment. I did my graduating thesis on Surface Design for export and had the privilege to interview people like Jerry Telling and Cory Grosser who kindly accepted <3 and they both agreed on exhibiting, in the same trade show, at least 3 years! It is after that that clients know you are taking this business (and any business that participate in trade shows) seriously. So being patience is key!
Now-a-days, and specially because of the pandemic, my career is changing a little. I had always know that art was healing and therapeutic for me, but I had no idea how to put it into words and was feeling the NEED to share it with others, help others through art! After doing some research I decided to study a Masters in Art Therapy and am currently developing a Therapeutic Art program that will launch in January 2023 – so, what I would love the world to know about me and my brand (Gardens of My Soul) is that there is more to art…. art is healing! And is available to anybody with an open mind, creative tickle, paper, pencil or a pen. It does magic in terms of clearing our minds.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In El Salvador we have the advantage that we have the beach, mountain and lake at 45 minutes away (in average). I do not like humidity that much so I would take them to the Lake Coatepeque – it is gorgeous and in a certain time of the year, it turns turquoise.
In the city I would take them to Soya Nutribar, an all natural restaurant owned by a doctor. The ambiance is very zen and has a small hotel (I would encourage my visitors to stay there of course) as well as a store of local entrepreneurs.
Lastly I would take them to MY FAV place here. Rincón del Cielo! I am blessed to know the owner and go work there often. You get a view go 180 degrees and on a clear day you can see the city, beach shore, our mountains as well as some of Honduras’ and Nicaragua’s mountains. Food & climate there is simply delicious! A big plus for dog lovers like me, you get to pet three gorgeous Rhodesian Ridgebacks!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Britt Bivens, an Aussie/American friend that mentored me in the very beginning and directed me towards the right trade show; helped me out so much in terms of trends and simply cheering me on. She is always active in my life, her generosity goes beyond anybody I have met! Love her dearly!
Photo from Park & Ronen was sent to me