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Meet Sophia Clark of Galiatea in Tomball

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sophia Clark.

Sophia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a 30 year old French American Third Culture kid who has traveled to over 65 countries, thus travel has always been engrained in me. Travel has influenced me in every major facet of my life, from my career to my relationships- it is a part of everything I am and do. At 16, I remember entering in a Swedish hotel in Stockholm and being overwhelmed with its atmosphere… and thinking “I want to create spaces where people can experience all their senses”. At 18, after teaching English to poor artisans’ communities, I wanted to create a business that could help those communities thrive. At 21, while walking through Salone del mobile in Milan Italy, I decided that I wanted to create furniture that had an impact. At 23, while I was walking in the streets of lost artisans’ communities in Brazil, I realized I needed to create a business that could promote those under-represented artisans to the world. Design and travel have truly shaped me into the person I am today. My life’s mission is to inspire people to broaden their cultural awareness and open their mind to unique perspectives and to live a more intentional life.

As a content creator and travel writer, I get to share my travels and experiences with the world, as a Founder & Creative Director for my business, I get to translate those experiences into products that impact communities and bring cultural awareness.

I am a Cum Laude graduate from an accredited Interior Design program at Utah State and also hold a Bachelor of Arts in Sales and Marketing, I later obtained my Masters of Interior Design in Florence, Italy. Having lived abroad for 18 years (Ecuador, Qatar, Mexico, Peru, Spain, France, Brazil and Italy) and having travelled extensively since my youth, I have discovered a wide variety of cultures and aesthetic designs that have significantly enriched my design style. It has also enabled me the ability to write and speak fluent French, English, Spanish and be proficient in Italian. I had the honor and privilege of being mentored and to work with design icons such as Campion Platt and Sam Robin. In addition to other initiatives, I am the Founder & Creative Director of Galiatea, a business that specializes in curating and designing handmade luxury furniture & home décor by under-represented global artisans.

As an award-winning furniture designer, I have showcased in some of the world’s prominent tradeshows in Milan, London and Dubai. I aim to redefine the notion of luxury and free it from the confines of the mainstream brands as it focuses on quality materials and authentic generational savoir-faire. I also aim at safeguarding cultural heritage while promoting social consciousness about artisan communities worldwide. Through my business I am committed to helping our artisan communities not only survive but thrive through their art and we are giving 10% of profits back to those communities.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was definitely not a smooth road! Most people think it’s a straight line to success, it’s actually more of a rollercoaster, in every sense of the term. Being an entrepreneur is a very lonely journey, you feel like you are in it by yourself and sometimes you think you are actually going crazy and the only one feeling this way- that’s how I felt for a long time because I didn’t know there were resources out there for people like me! It wasn’t until a friend shared with me their resources that I was able to build a community and then I had a group of people to talk to and ask advice from. When you start a business, you treat it as if it were your baby. Your blood, sweat and tears go into it. You get so attached to the business, it’s hard to separate your personal life from it. You are so invested personally into it. So, when I used to get feedback, I used to take it personally- it definitely stunted my growth. Once I stopped taking things personally and detached myself from the process, I was able to grow and rebuilt my brand the way it was originally intended.

Galiatea – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The vision behind Galiatea started when I was in Brazil visiting my parents. I had just returned from the world’s largest furniture tradeshow, Salone del Mobile in Milan, for the first time. I had spent hours upon hours admiring the beautifully Italian designed pieces but realized after a few days that everything was a blur- every product looked like slight variations of themselves- the real distinguishing factor were the amazing booths the companies had designed and built! We went to visit a small Brazilian village that seemed lost in the wilderness and I started walking down the narrow cobblestone streets. In front of each small house, a small table displayed cute souvenirs. I was looking at a few small sculpted white Espirito Santo doves when I heard the noise of an artisan working. I went inside and saw him bending over a small piece of driftwood similar to the ones in front of his house/store. But around him, on the walls of his house were grandiose sculptures of Espirito Santos, absolutely stunning pieces, whose designs and details clearly showed the artisan’s mastery. I marveled at them but quickly understood that THIS, THIS is what was missing!

There are artisans from all around the world who do not have the privilege of showcasing their work in tradeshows like Salone del Mobile, but their craftsmanship, techniques and use of exotic materials are just as valuable and beautiful… their work had a soul, a uniqueness that is so specific to handcrafted pieces. As a designer, you are expected to create a space that represents your clients, in all their uniqueness, a space that breathes life and emotion, a space that tells a story and reflects souls. But how do you create such a space with mass-produced machine created items that have no soul, no story? On the other hand, there are unknown Master artisans in small villages that can create authentic and genuine masterpieces but are often reduced to produce small souvenirs for the local tourist market, and have no structure to sell outside their local community. They often have to retire their generational skills to provide for their family, and the world cultural heritage is slowly shrinking under globalization and mass markets.

I thought then and still think that there is a thirst in the world for what is authentic and unique, and because of that, the work of those artisans from all over the world should be represented in the furniture and decorative accessory market.  Their traditional techniques combined with contemporary designs is the next movement in sustainable luxury design. And I decided to create Galiatea. I chose to call my company “Galiatea” because it is the union of Mother Nature (Gaia) and the artistic creation of beauty (Pygmalion’s Galatea). If I were to define Galiatea in a few words, it would be: Galiatea was founded with diversity, connection and social impact in mind. It provides interior designers and design conscious customers with made-to-order luxury handmade furniture and home decor made with sustainable materials by underrepresented artisans globally. It paves the path to an increased social consciousness, the promotion of cultural heritages and a greater use of eco-friendly material. Luxury and beauty do not need to be defined by a few brands, they can be found in the carving of a mirror, in the softness of an Alpaca pillow, in the re-creation of a tree root. Our goal is to educate interior designers and ultimately the masses regarding the culture and craftsmanship and bring awareness about these artisan communities through our e-commerce platform.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
To be teachable to learn new things and humble to know when you need to teachable.

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