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Meet Allie Kushnir of Allie Kushnir in Logan Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allie Kushnir.

Allie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been creating art – in one way or another – since I can remember. And I have been concerned with helping people for just as long. But I was never the best artist I knew… so I went to college for psychology. I figured I’d never succeed as an artist but perhaps I could make a difference as a psychologist.

But while I was in school, I yearned for an opportunity to create. It wasn’t something I could just escape. I loved psychology, nutrition, health, etc… but the more I considered my future without creativity as a defining path, the more I realized it just couldn’t be. So I graduated from college, took classes in graphic design, and continued painting my oil portraits.

I participated in more internships than anyone I know and after a few years of pursuing various avenues (I even picked up the guitar and songwriting for a while!), I began playing around with watercolors. The paintings began to sell in a few shops, so I did some research and eventually added on stationery… and then textiles. The video series didn’t come until much later.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Certainly not! I haven’t stopped struggling since the moment I began. For one thing, I came into this as an artist, not a business person. So anything related to growing a business is enough to make me want to throw in the towel at any moment. Just kidding, I can handle it. But barely! I am constantly learning. It sounds like a cliche, but it’s just a fact.

At the moment, I do almost everything on my own and when I have questions, I just reach out to other, more experienced people in my industry. I’m always learning how to understand what my customer wants when to take risks, and how to create a sustainable business with unwavering ethical guidelines.

Please tell us about Allie Kushnir.
I own a small product line of various bags, pillows, and paper products, all based on my original paintings and drawings. I would say that I specialize in small, unique, multifunctional bags, but the products themselves are not what I consider to be the most important aspect of the business. What I am really passionate about is making a positive impact. I want to use my work to encourage others to reconsider how they consume and really evaluate what it means to be a conscious consumer.

So we recently began a new video series called The Ones That Will, and it features various businesses who are committed to promoting these thoughtful and sustainable ideals. While it is still just a baby, this video series is definitely what I am most proud of. I have always loved learning about others and sharing their stories; now I am combing so many things I am passionate about into this one project: storytelling and conscious living, all wrapped into one artistic presentation.

I run a fashion and lifestyle brand, but my steadfast commitment to living ethically and acting as a resource for others who want to join has in some ways set me apart in my own industry.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Wow, this is not an easy question to answer. I keep hoping that if I think hard enough, something great will resurface but there is one memory that I always come back to.

When I first began running in 5th grade, I wasn’t supposed to compete because team sports didn’t start until 6th grade at my school. But my coach, Mr. Adams – who to this day remains one of the most influential people in my life, allowed me to just compete with the older kids. My first race was the 400 m sprint and right off the bat, a couple of girls from another school shot to the front. But as we came around the final bend, I think one stopped altogether and I inched closer and closer to the girl in the lead.

My coach was cheering me on so hard, I feel like he was all I could hear. His voice pushed me past the last girl and I won my very first race. I was thrilled. I was probably 10 or 11 years old and from then on I identified as a runner. I even wrote a story in my creative writing class the next year about the race and won an award for it! The next year, my family moved across the country and my relationship with running shifted. I no longer had Mr. Adams to look up to or impress and my insecurities in a new environment made an already somewhat grueling sport much less appealing.

Mr. Adams and I continued to write letters back and forth for years after we moved. He has really shaped a lot of young lives as a teacher and coach.

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