Local artists Savannah Rae Nicholson and Danielle Curchill individually created Anahata Rae and RadicalSouls Collective, local artistry businesses. After teaming up last year, both brands have a collective vision of bringing nature, both environmental and humanistic, into their designs.
Nicholson created Anahata Rae in 2014 after a death in her family. ‘Anahata,’ translates to ‘heart chakra’ in Sanskrit and is the fourth energy center of the body. This is where love is given and received, according to Nicholson. Rae is her middle name and nickname that only her close family and friends call her. Nicholson’s company sells a range of jewelry and paintings.
“My designs are based off what I think women would like to wear on a day-to-day basis,” Nicholson said. “Everything I make has a touch of minimalism and it is all designed to be worn alone or layered.”
Nicholson has always had an interest in design and styling. After working in the fashion industry, Nicholson shifted direction to curate her own brand and aesthetic.
“Each piece has to pass the test of ‘Would I wear this?’ because if not, I’m not going to make it,” Nicholson said. “Sometimes I’ll be oozing with ideas and can’t wait to make them all come to life. Other times I am dry as a bone and can’t come up with one new concept.”
Nicholson finds inspiration from the places she visits and the people in her life, whether they are close friends or complete strangers. Human nature and interaction has always fascinated her, knowing that every person has their own story to tell.
Anahata Rae allows Nicholson to combine her holistic approach to life with her love of style and expression. Her goal is to design quality jewelry that makes her customers feel empowered and beautiful, according to Nicholson.
“San Luis Obispo has provided me with an amazing support system of women who are also pursuing their goals of being creative entrepreneurs,” Nicholson said. “[I am] eternally grateful for all the events I have been apart of and the stores that have started selling my jewelry.”
Three years ago, Churchill began creating hanging wall art for her home. Churchill’s work is inspired by the things she loves most: nature, travel, yoga, sacred geometry and fiber art. Her medium is locally sourced driftwood and her work ranges from knotted yarn wall hangings to driftwood plant hangers and hand-painted pieces. Creating these pieces was a hobby that resulted in the creation of RadicalSouls Collective.
“I moved into a new place, was really poor and couldn’t afford to buy anything to decorate the empty walls. I started making some things and people really loved them,” Churchill said. “I wanted to keep making things, so I started selling them really casually on the side.”
Through her desire to create and her love for the ocean, RadicalSouls Collective was born. The name stems from the aspiration to be wild and free. Churchill has visions of creating a whole home decoration line.
After graduating from Cuesta College with a fashion merchandising degree, Churchill was stumped on how to move on.
“I’ve always wanted to go into something fairly creative, but I also wanted to stay in the area and there’s not a lot of opportunities in terms of really niche creative jobs,” Churchill said.
Growing up with two parents working for themselves, Churchill was surrounded by the entrepreneurship. Acknowledging how far the lengths of school can or cannot take you, Churchill decided to bite the bullet and transform her hobby into a full-time business.
The small-business owners met a year ago at a pop-up show Nicholson was participating in. Conversing through a mutual friend, the two realized they had already been supporting one another’s work through Instagram.
“[Nicholson] ended up coming to my house two weeks later and we hung out for hours-at the end, we both were like, ‘Let’s get a studio together’,” Churchill said. “We got along really well and a month later we moved into this space together.”
The two now share a studio. With more events for small businesses popping up, such as the MakeShift Makers Market, new-business owners are able to thrive off the support of the San Luis Obispo community.
“I feel like [Nicholson’s] designs [are] really unique [and] well thought-out. It’s jewelry that can go with any outfit. The two have a great cohesion together and are really aesthetically pleasing,” kinesiology junior and supporter Mikaela Minoggi said.
Their studio is located at 667 E. Higuera St. Viewings are by appointment only.