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Fabulous People: Erika Christiansen

Erika Christiansen is the founder at Tura Lura Co., a new shop dedicated to small-batch candles and locally sourced goods in West Branch. “We foster community, connection and creativity. The idea has grown over the last few years, from handcrafted goods to hosting workshops where people make art together.” Learn about Erika Christiansen…

Follow at: @turaluraco

Hometown: Iowa City

First job: My first memory of responsibility, like a job, was performing in The Nutcracker as a child. There was the process of auditioning and nerves of waiting to hear about selections. There were weeks of training and rehearsals, culminating in back-to-back performances. It was hard work but it was joyful. I was captivated and curious how the adults performing had made this creative art their career. Then as I continued performing as a teen it was often unpaid, so I began working as a server and in retail.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in IA: My partner, Matt, and I love getting our young kids outside. We enjoy visiting our local farmer’s market, the neighborhood parks, as well as making plans for a special adventure to try something new. We like to pick an Iowa landmark like an orchard or museum, explore the area, indulge in treats, while making fun memories with our family.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: I am pursuing my goals fiercely and with excellence. I am not ashamed if I encounter failures. Each step in the journey with Tura Lura Co. has been an opportunity to learn and grow. As a former ballet dancer, I trained for perfection. It took a really long time to re-focus on working towards excellence. My biggest accomplishment with this journey just occurred, with opening the studio in West Branch!

The biggest obstacle you overcame: A hip tear and chronic pain from EDSh flared in my 20’s, and again when I had my kids over the last few years. I had to accept that my body could no longer move like it once had. Through this process, I started to make and be creative differently with textiles, concrete, jewelry and candles. Following the intense isolation of the early pandemic, I saw a call for artists and went after an artist grant. That courage in my newfound creativity launched Tura Lura Co. Since then, I have kept taking small, intentional steps forward.

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Someone who inspires you and why: My mom was an artist and educator and has always inspired me. Her talents were in painting and drawing. She was able to translate her artistic eye into a beautiful business journey. Her fearlessness in career pivots provided an example of what is possible with hard work and a supportive family. My parents were always a team, and they made sure that my sister and I knew that the arts were valued in our home. From music to museums, we were encouraged to appreciate and pursue artistic expression.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: There is no set path to pursue a creative career. There are decisions that you can make, and there are things that are out of your control. Make small steps towards your goals, experiment a lot, gather data and be willing to learn from failure. Most importantly, surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you.

Favorite quote: Currently at the studio in West Branch my quote sign says, “You are kind. You are brave. You are smart. You are beautiful. You try your best. & You belong here.” I want to foster a studio for creative hearts, a place for all us to express our creativity in community with each other. So many people come in with self doubt, that they aren’t artistic. This quote is to remind folks that we all have bravery and artistry within us.

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I have worked in education for 15 years! While you can find me at Tura Lura Co. on Fridays and Saturdays, I spend the first part of the week working and teaching at a university. I love both arts and education. I am grateful that I can blend the two in my career.

What makes someone fabulous: A fabulous person is open to new opportunities to learn and grow, to increase their capacity of love and kindness.

Photo credit: Jessica Schroeder Photography

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