Today we’d like to introduce you to Ester Hodikian.
Ester, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As the daughter of a prolific artist, I grew up with a deep love for the arts. My father was a talented sculptor who exposed me to an extraordinary world of creativity. He had converted half of our apartment into his art studio and was always immersed in a new creation. His tools were in every nook; his sketches covered the walls; Pink Floyd or Zeppelin would be playing in the background, and occasionally other artist friends were over discussing intellectual topics from philosophy to history. This was my norm as a child, and looking back these are some of my absolute favorite memories.
As I grew up, I naturally gravitated towards the arts but ironically, my father discouraged me. In truth, it had been a difficult way of life for him and he didn’t want to see me struggle as he had. I ended up at University of Southern California’s undergraduate Marshall School of Business, and shortly after I began a promising job in finance. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel restless and unhappy. Upon graduation, with my parents’ blessing, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in a creative field.
With new enthusiasm, I moved to New York and completed Pratt Institute’s graduate Interior Design program, all the while absorbing inspiration from the magical city. Returning to Los Angeles, I continued my creative studies in Textile Surface Design at Otis College of Art & Design. For a span of a decade, I worked in retail, hospitality, and residential design until having children and taking a hiatus.
Amid this beautiful new chapter in life of having children, tragedy struck as I lost my father to a battle with cancer. It quickly turned into the most difficult time of my life. I had lost my role model and mentor and was crushed. But I had to put my own heartache aside as I had newborn twins and a two-year-old toddler to care for.
I turned back to art and design as an emotional and creative outlet and began painting. Contrary to my introverted and quiet personality, everything that came pouring out was loud, bright, colorful, and joyful. I suppose I had a need to make up for the deep sadness within. Before I knew it, I had accumulated the most vibrant collection of prints. I decided to take it a step further and combine my passion for prints with my love for home-ware. I spent a year turning the prints into textiles and creating product prototypes, and the year after that, I formally set up my business known as Heart Print House.
The collection I have today was the light that came out of my darkness. Personally, it keeps my father’s memory alive, feeds my thirst for creativity, and enriches the imagination of my own children. For my customers, it is intended to elevate the spirit, filling their homes and hearts with happy, healing, and inspiring energy.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Finding balance between home and work is my biggest challenge. Being a full-time mother of three young children demands a great deal of me. Though it has been my most meaningful role, I’ve always known that it was not to be my sole defining role. I needed to pursue a dream of my own outside of the home, and my husband’s unwavering support gave me the encouragement. Given that I have three daughters who look up to me, it became imperative to empower them by my example, to pursue their own dreams without any limitations.
As the infant years of my children morphed into preschool years, I had the opportunity to dedicate more time to my passion project. I set up a studio within the home to allow for flexibility, as I’m only able to work around my children’s schedules. I’ve quickly learned that to be productive, I must have a strong sense of organization, discipline, and focus. I’ve also learned to be patient with the slow pace of progress with work.
Furthermore, at this early stage of business, I am a one-person operation, which is yet another challenge. From concept to creation, to execution, to marketing, accounting, packaging orders, and every detail in-between, I manage all the processes myself. Though it is tiring, it is very fulfilling to see my dream slowly coming to fruition.
Please tell us about Heart Print House.
Heart Print House (HPH) began as a passion project in the summer of 2016. It evolved into a design studio of original hand-painted prints, and later into hand-crafted decorative accessories featuring the prints. The online shop officially launched in September of 2018, offering a vast selection of pillows and wall art.
Heart Print House intends to elevate the spirit through vibrant design, by merging bold colorful prints with decorative homeware, and creating a new playful style for daily living. HPH believes in design as a form of therapy. The environments and objects we surround ourselves with have the ability to transform how we feel internally. Thus, HPH designs aim to fill homes and hearts with uplifting and joyful energy.
The existing “Garden Party Collection” consists of a blooming set of contemporary prints that pair beautifully with one another. The accent pillows are offered in two different materials: Organic Cotton Sateen with an ultra-soft feel, and Linen Cotton Canvas with more of a textured feel. The wall art prints are digitally printed on organic cotton sateen and stretched into wooden frames. HPH also expanded into the stationary product category, offering gift wrap and note cards.
Heart Print House designs are characterized by expressive line work, a bold illustrative style, and a whimsical spirit. Without a fine arts background, the painted designs appear less fluid than traditional artists. Rather, inspired by interior architectural training, the designs are more controlled. This rigidness in form juxtaposed with a playfulness in theme and color gives the designs a very distinctive feel.
Besides the distinguishing bold prints and bright color stories, HPH takes great pride in the fact that its designs are hand-painted, and its products are hand-crafted with love in Los Angeles. Recently there has been a mindful growing movement towards the support of local handmade designs. There is true value in an item that is locally and ethically made. There is an authenticity to it and a story behind it. Above all, there is a connection to the maker who puts her heart into what she makes.
Recently, Heart Print House hosted Pop-Up shops at West Elm and Anthropologie stores with successful turnouts, and with more events to follow in the summer. Future plans for HPH include designing new print collections, diversifying product categories, and exploring art licensing.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
As my business is very young, every day is still a learning process. The most important thing I’ve learned so far is to keep dreaming big and not be held back by fear. As a shy creative soul, I’ve definitely had to push myself to get out of my comfort zone and just go for it with full force.
- Website: www.HeartPrintHouse.com
- Email: Hello@HeartPrintHouse
- Instagram: @HeartPrintHouse
Mher Vahakn Photography