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November 4, 2023  •

Good Things Good People – The Heirloomist Edition

So I started a new thing that I was really planning to do only in October – Good Things Good People.

There’s a story behind this new project: October marks one year since my lung cancer diagnosis. There’s two ways to look at this but I’m kind of choosing to not really looking at it at all. For one year I have thought about this stupid disease every. single. day. This month I want to think about someone or something else – happy things if you will:)

So, I’m sharing a few of the things and people that are making me happy this month. And next month, and maybe even the month after!

In today’s post I want to share someONE with you – Shana Novak from The Heirloomist. I first heard about The Heirloomist from an influencer I follow, Beth Chappo. Beth had sent Shana a sweatshirt that she had worn the night she met her now husband, Shana photographed it and turned it into a very special piece of art. I was fascinated by this! What do I have that I could send her to be photographed? Who can I gift this to? And now finally, a few years after discovering The Heirloomist I finally got the chance to have Shana photograph one of our heirlooms.

If you spend any time at all on The Heirloomist website I guarantee you’ll be sucked in to the stories and the pieces she creates. From her Grandmother’s silver to combat boots from a well-known journalist hit by a bomb (Bob Woodruff) to stuffed animals to letters from a grandparent. She’s photographed people’s most sentimental items, the stories will really hit you in the heart.

My piece from Shana is almost complete, I’ll share that soon when I have gifted it to it’s lucky recipient. In the meantime, Shana was kind enough to answer a few questions that will give you a little insight into her work. Start making your list of heirlooms:)

MR: You were initially a commercial still-life photographer working with some major brands and then pivoted to create something more meaningful. Your first project was your Grandmother’s silver – when did you realize what a special business you were building?

SN: I’m very business minded. I think because I focus so much on delivering  a polished, professional product in my work, it’s not until my CLIENTS remind me how happy their art makes them that I feel the specialness

MR: It’s one thing to create something like this for yourself but I imagine it’s another dynamic creating these special pieces for someone else – how did it go the first few times you were commissioned? Were you nervous?

SN: A few of the early pieces I ever made as The Heirloomist were a pair of jeans that saved a person from being burned in a fire and  ABC News Correspondant Bob Woodruff’s combat boots, which he was wearing when he was hit by roadside bomb in Iraq and nearly died. So right out of the gate, the work was so satisfying and rewarding that it just felt right. No room for nerves.

MR: I imagine these pieces are alive with emotion – how do you handle this on a daily basis? Just reading through the stories on your site I was in tears (mostly happy!), how do you move through this daily barrage of feelings?

SN: I definitely feel the feels and sometimes a lot. But on a daily basis, I know I am serving the memory or emotion of the subject better by staying focused on making an incredible image.

MR: Do you see everything as an heirloom now? I for one am making lists of items I would love photographed for gifts, etc.

SN: Haha I do look at a lot of things and wonder about their stories. That’s something I really try to make a part of my work– literally ANYTHING can be an heirloom if it has a symbolic story.

Working with Shana has been a treat and watching her make such a meaningful impact on people’s lives is making me happy today! Give The Heirloomist a follow on Instagram and read a few of the stories on her site, you’ll be happy too.

For a serious trip down the Heirloomist rabbit hole, order her new book detailing some of her most heartfelt stories that are SURE to make your day.

k…do good…xo