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Conversations with the Inspiring Mary Kolende

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Kolende.

Mary, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Hi, I live in Los Angeles. I moved here a few years ago. Before, I was living in Germany for the most part and had lived in the UK and the USA for briefer periods of time. I was born and raised near Berlin in Germany.
My overall mission is to spread more awareness about animal cruelty by using my different skills (drawing, acting, modeling, etc.) and my knowledge. I want to share my message about how important it is to have love, compassion, and happiness through art. Veganism means love to me. It embodies that you understand the concept that every being on this planet is equal and that we all respect each other without exception. Love does not have boundaries and your acceptance of others is limitless. This is my ‘why’ for my artistic outlet. I create naïve art – childlike animals to show the innocence of these beautiful creatures that get mistreated daily.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The more I allowed myself to embrace the artistic side of me, the more I realized what I have missed. Even though I was always expressing myself through art ever since I was little – singing in choirs, playing piano, and drawing – I did lose parts of that magical expression due to the extensive dedication toward my degrees in business law and psychology. Living in a different country and going through relationship dramas can be very life-hindering as well. My family is mostly within reach via my iPad. Still, however, I do miss that closeness with them and their personal support. I stopped pursuing my passion projects due to all these factors. Now, I am planning around my ideas I am passionate about. Yes, I have to work in order to make money but I also dedicate a good portion of my time to make art projects happen. I have set more boundaries for myself. That gave me the opportunity to take better care of myself. Meditation, yoga, and a balanced plant-based diet are my main life mastery tools. The struggles happen especially when we do not listen to our intuition.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
Ever since I was a child, I loved drawing animals, mostly as cartoons. It gave me a way to add light-heartedness to all of the sadness that revolves around the treatment of animals. About two years ago, I went through some personal challenges that caused me to really endure lots of anxiety and sadness. Suddenly, I found my calling. Without having seen any video footage or photos of the abuse that is done toward animals, nightmares of animals suffering in slaughterhouses were starting to haunt me. I felt so much empathy that I began drawing and sharing my art on Instagram. People started reposting it and nowadays, even bigger organizations such as PETA and Mercy for Animals have shared my art with the world. Recently, a collaborating with Constantin Philippou, founder of Vegan Club, was initiated. We sell denim jackets, dog clothes, shirts, totes, etc. with our joint art printed and hand-drawn on. I am proud to be part of this movement that is getting stronger by the day. Sometimes, I model at charity events for Animal Hope and Wellness and other animal rights organizations or I model for sustainable, ethical, vegan clothing brands.
What makes me unique is that I just keep embracing possibilities and continue to do things that scare me and give me that feeling of excitement and living in the unknown.

As the requests arose, I opened up my Etsy store at the beginning of the year 2018. Right now, I’m selling shirts, mugs, and totes.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
My biggest piece of advice is self-care and self-love. Whatever you are passionate about, always carve out that extra time for you to really express kindness and love to yourself. It could be a hike, a hot bath, a workout, a great book, yoga, meditation, museum, etc.; whatever gets your heart radiating.

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