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Meet Lisa Luna of Luna Llena in Southeast LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Luna.

Lisa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a writer and small business owner born and raised in Southeast LA. I’ve been self-employed for most of my 20s, trying out an array of fields from medical insurance rep and professional wedding photographer to maintaining part time W-9 jobs making smoothies and being a hostess. I’ve even had dreams of being a truck driver! None of it ever worked out, though, not for more than a couple months because I kept sabotaging myself. I felt like I’d never “get it.” I was equally too angry and too nice. I was a wildcard.

For most of my childhood, I grew up in an abusive household. Then as I got older, I was in a relationship for a very long time that very much reflected these same static and familiar values. It’s only been recently that I can say that my life has been my own.

I’ve been reborn many times since. Gaining communities, losing them. I feel like I am in a beautiful yet tumultuous time in LA. But it’s always a fine morning to wake up knowing yourself.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think the hardest part about working for yourself is you. It’s not just about not knowing what you’re doing, but about giving yourself what you need during that panic. Frida said that she was her greatest subject, the thing she knew best, and I think that is one of the greatest tenets of entrepreneurialship that binds together all the other aspects of it. This a thing of endurance, but long-term planning is something many of us in the Southeast have no rapport with, especially when what we’re up to can seem so different than what our parents have experience with. It’s taken me years to translate my mom’s wisdom. Sometimes I feel like we’re the same person now.

I am first and foremost a writer, but as most writers know, the thing we do best is not write! I’ve been a writer all my life but it seems like, once I hit a certain maturity, it was too much to bear to be reflected back to myself. I feel like all my visual art experience since has been an education in trying to heal myself from the power of my own gaze. Some people travel and get all eat, pray, love for their internal journeys. Me, I just leave my abusive ex to find myself in my city.

Luna Llena – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am currently running Luna Llena, a Latinx flower shop where I make small batches of art, jewelry, and other specialty items with dried pressed flowers. I also feature handmade crochet earrings from my mom and poetry from local artists, such as Jotita de Amor, a queer migrant poet from the San Fernando Valley. I try to keep flowers, materials, and other items as much within the smallest, most local and direct consumer pipeline as much as possible. There is also a sort of nostalgia to them. My dad was a gardener and I use a ton of flowers from the back yard and I’ve gotten other varieties from friends, like visual artist Paloma Negra who lives two blocks down. The picture frames I use for these floral collages are from local thrift stores. I also make stationery out of the Sunday market especiales which my dad perused before church every week, this holy thing. What a way to tell time. Working with flowers is very much a spiritual practice for me. Flower work can be very trying. This journey has really been about how to best listen to flowers and how to honor them through that conversation and I feel very actualized in this process. I feel like it’s synonymous with some part of me that’s finally starting to click.

I guess that must be the case because starting in September, I’ll be hosting a writing group in South Gate, with Semillas Wellness at Coop LA, Southern California’s first multi-group co-op right down the street from me. Semillas is a small group of friends focused on creating holistic programming for the Southeast LA community and I couldn’t think of a better bunch to spend so much time with. It will be about writing, but it will also be about getting together to talk about what it actually feels like to be a writer of color in SELA. How we struggle, how we arrive and how we retreat from ourselves.

In 2019, the program will shift to include curated monthly workshops led by talented people who use their writing in ways we’ve only dreamed of. This kind of hands-on experience is a first for many of us, and we will hit the ground running.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Right now, success is very simple. It’s about being super busy, while also making plans with friends as part of that busy-ness. It’s taking salsa classes as busyness. Success is not getting enough of myself. Success is running late, but still having the nerve to stop for a second and appreciate that I am here, doing my own thing my own way. Right now, everything is moving so quickly and moving so new but I wouldn’t have it any other way because I never forget that there was a time in my life where I’d already given up. Every day is a dream come true.

Contact Info:

  • Email: lunallenacraftshop@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @lunallenashop / @_ninabuena


Image Credit:
Oscar Martinez, Lisa Luna

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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