We’d love to introduce you to Lisa Anderson Shaffer, the fiber artist behind Zelma Rose. There are so many dimensions to her artistry and the person she is - a photographer, writer, mother, craftswoman, former psychotherapist, businesswoman and more. Initially, we fell in love with her handmade textile jewelry and the These Three Things series she shares, but our fondness and respect has grown as we’ve been around her humor, straight talk, endless creativity and intellect.
She was so kind to invite us into her home and studio - Casa del Cielo - in Marin. Every object and belonging in her home and studio has a story and a sacred place, and the play between the indoors and outdoors is seamless. We didn’t want to leave.
How did you get started doing what you do?
I founded Zelma Rose in 2010 after deciding to leave my private psychotherapy practice. I started my career as a working artist and switched paths to psychotherapy in 2003. While I loved psychology, I just couldn’t see myself being the kind of mother I wanted to be while managing a full caseload of patients. So early in my pregnancy I left my practice, went back to teaching visual arts and started Zelma Rose. My dream was to create a business where I could support myself as an artist and work around the hours of caring for my child. It has been challenging managing the constant juggle, but Zelma Rose has grown right along with my daughter. I have the best of everything, but damn, I’ve earned it.
What keeps you going everyday - either in your craft or going about life?
A deep passion for what I do and knowing that I tried a life where I wasn’t creative everyday and it was not the best life for me. This is it. For better or worse. Also my daughter. Few things could ever be more motivating for me than to continue to make my business work because it works for she and me and how I want to be with her. If I have time away from my daughter I am still working for my dream and not someone else’s and that makes a big difference.
Do you have a “sister” who has propped you up personally or professionally?
There are so many incredible creative women in the Bay Area! I have many creative sisters here who hold me up, support my work, and help me find my way. My truest sister is my bestie Gina. We’ve known each other since we were 3. She’s in New York and the distance gets hard, but when we do talk and see each other it’s like not a day has passed. She’s the friend I frantically text at 3 am when I can’t sleep.
Where do you seek sanctuary - to dream, meditate, be creative or just find me time?
My home. I never thought I would love living in the mountains, yet here we are. I can add that to the long list of things I was never going to do, like get married, have a baby, leave the city, do yoga, and wear comfortable shoes! And yet, I find peace and inspiration from watching the redwoods move in the wind. It’s very quiet here.
How have you made this sanctuary yours?
Keep as much of the outside in as possible. We do not have curtains or blinds, I often keep the front door open, I try to keep the interior design minimal, but also soft and meaningful.
What do you do to try to remain present and slow down?
YOGA. In all caps. I maintain a daily practice, have done so for over 2 years. I am a better artist, mother, and partner through yoga. It fills a multitude of needs for me but mostly makes me concentrate on where my body is in time and space, which outside of that time I cannot even begin to think about.
Where do you find inspiration for your work and for your life?
Mostly nature. Museums, fashion. But in unlikely places too. I am obsessed with skateboarding videos and still photography. The beauty of the movement. It’s brave, beautiful, and deeply textural.
Do you have any special rituals for making time with family or friends?
Wherever and whenever! I have found most recently that the lady date is an amazing thing. Meeting a friend in the city after work, or on their lunch break to check out a gallery, museum or to go stare at Gucci handbags. Women time is essential!