Check out these latest beauties: upcycled Turkish kilim rugs turned into accent pillow covers, hanging out on the sofa just waiting for you at Hazel Tree…
These are beautiful pillows, no doubt. But, like everything else for sale at Hazel Tree, there is a story behind them. This story goes a bit deeper than the others however, and for sure is going to be about a lot more than pretty pillows. So here goes.
Two winters ago, I was all bundled up and walking around the Chriskindl Market at Lock 3, looking at the different vendors and admiring the lovely items for sale. If you’ve never been to this market, it showcases the work of local artisans as well as artisans from our sister city, Chemnitz Germany, who choose to spend the holiday months here in Akron selling gifts from the Erzgeberge Mountain area in their native country.
Among the different vendors, I came across a local woman who was selling accent pillows that she upcycled out of old Turkish kilim rugs. I was in love with these pillows as soon as I saw them for their rustic beauty, but the story she told of them added layers to their beauty and made me love them even more. (“These were made as gifts for special occasions, like weddings…”)
Now this was while I was still working at the design studio - a bit before the time of Karen Starr ReDesign and long before Hazel Tree Interiors- but I have always loved anything upcycled or recycled. Anything that paid homage to what something once was by creating something new with it, I was instantly fascinated by it. So since I didn’t have a specific design in mind for these pillows at that time, we talked for a little while, I gushed over her pillows some more, I took her card and I told her I would be back in touch some day when I could use these pillows in a design somewhere.
Fast forward more than a year…and it’s Hazel Tree time. I start contacting artists and artisans to see if they are interested in selling their work and their wares at the store, and I have not forgotten those pillows. I dig up the business card of the pillow maker from Chriskindl Market and try to reach her, but the card she gave me only lists an ebay store as a means of contact, and that store is no longer operating.
Jump stories and time to a few months ago…I start hearing about a local woman who is fighting to regain custody of her young son, who is the victim of international parental kidnapping. This woman’s soon to be ex-husband took their son on a trip to his native country with the written promise to return him in two months time. He did not do that. She has been in the fight of her life ever since.
So then I really begin hearing a lot about her. There are efforts all over town to help “Bring Eli home“. I see it from:
…from The Market Path store in Highland Square. I’m there shopping and I see signs about a sale to benefit her cause.
…the many fund-raising events to help her efforts that are sent to me as Locally-Owned Akron on Facebook. I re-post them to help spread the word.
…the church down the road that put together a benefit evening of song to help raise more money for legal fees for this cause. The performers from the benefit end up doing a segment of that benefit on one of the stages at Art in The Square, which I am heavily involved in the planning for. So, over a couple of months, I hear a lot in bits and pieces about this woman and her fight to get her son back, through Art in The Square and from many other sources around town.
Jump to the day of the Art In the Square festival. I am walking past a booth and some really gorgeous pillows catch my eye. (Oh! There are those kilim rug pillows!!!) And there is that lovely gal that I met that winter day at Chriskindl Market who makes them. Yay! Finally, we reconnect. I say, “I would love to sell your pillows at Hazel Tree! I tried to reach you but I couldn’t find you from the contact info on the card you gave me way back when.”
She tells me that the ebay store where she was selling the pillows from is not accessible because of the struggles she has had. “What struggles?”, I ask.
She tells me of her son, Eli and the fight to get him back home…
Whoosh. Instant sadness at making that connection. I say, “You’re…her?”
Yes, she is. She not only makes beautiful kilim rug pillows but she’s Eli’s mom too.
So now here I am, all that time later, with a little corner of the internet that all you people read (thank you for being one of those folks) and I can’t help but help Sara with her efforts by finding yet another place where people can read about her story. To do so, click here for the website and to help Bring Eli Home. If you can, once you’re there, please consider donating money to help Sara and Eli. You can also find information about the benefit rummage sale this coming weekend.
About these beautiful pillows at Hazel Tree…small ones are $30, larger $40. $5 of each pillow goes to help bring Eli home.