Our Team

 
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Melissa Hewitt

Coming from a long line of printers and creatives, Melissa grew up in family print shops and later studied papermaking and printmaking. With her rich background in printing, she discovered her passion for publishing, later establishing a hand-cranked traditional letterpress printing business and founding multiple successful publications in the Hudson Valley. Over the years, she has become an expert in art direction, printmaking, letterpress printing, graphic design, hand crafts and fine art, and is co-owner of VISITvortex, an online and print magazine celebrating the treasures of the Hudson Valley. Melissa is a mother of four creative children who also see the importance of creating while respecting the planet and building a brighter future. For the past year she has also facilitated an authentic sound and movement women’s circle as a means of healing through self expression. Melissa has also co-facilitated a project for teen girls called Chrysalis as a means of creating a safe space of support for young girls transitioning into womanhood. A Good Work Institute fellow, her work there helped to clarify the mission of Circle Creative Collective, and re-asserted her commitment to incorporating diverse communities into her work. She realized that creating something beautiful by hand is satisfying in itself, but it also holds tremendous healing power as a means to connect to our ancestors teach others and spread abundance. Melissa co-founded Circle Creative Collective to help bring people together to share skills, stories, and connection.

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Sibylle Jud

Sibylle Jud co-founded Iris with her husband Paul Lichtenberg in 2009. Born and raised in Switzerland, her journey of self-discovery has brought her to New York City at the age of 21, where she was using the camera as a way of looking inward while looking out at the world around. Her quest to go deeper and expand her vision beyond the physical world eventually opened up the world of yoga through immersions and teacher trainings. Her dream of creating a place for people to gather and heal in community, where authentic relationships are at the core of transformation, became real when she and her husband decided to move out of the city to create Iris and start a family. She is the mother of two boys, Teo and Sebastian, who, together with their friends, fill Iris with their joy, laughter, and creativity.

She is a certified Feminine Power transformational coach and facilitator. She is very excited to share the tools she received through the trainings with her community here at Iris and through Circle.

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mary jane nusbaum

Mary Jane is a natural teacher, mentor and inspiration. Grounded and deeply compassionate, gentle and dedicated, Mary Jane brings an artistic eye, a true passion for natural and artisanal processes, and many decades of experience as a teacher, gifted artist and craftsperson. Mj holds space with a rare calm, an open heart, and powerful communication skills. She helps to create an inclusive and curious class environment where her love for traditional knowledge, world cultures, the environment, and social justice are woven quietly into every stitch, and lesson. Mary Jane has lived in the Hudson Valley with her husband and two sons for the past 18 years. She has a Master’s in Printmaking from SUNY New Paltz and teaches art at New Paltz Middle School. Mj runs summer and year-round art programs with Wild Earth, a wilderness immersion program in High Falls. To Mary Jane, some of the most beautiful things about this world are the arts and cultures which have sprung from humanity’s relationship to nature in the particular places we each call “Home”.

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Poliana Danila

Poliana Danila moved to the US from Romania in 2005, and is a weaver making one-of-a-kind handwoven jewelry and wall hanging. Her first inspiration was her grandmother, Ioana, an avid weaver who used a big floor loom to make unique tapestries such as blankets, wall hangings, rugs, and floors rugs. After taking weaving and macrame classes with different well-known fiber artists, Poliana started to weave on an upright tapestry loom in 2015. Her weaving pieces are inspired from the landscape, modern art and architecture, South American cultures, Native American clothing and much more. Her threads (silk, linen, hemp, banana, nettle, cotton, viscose, paper, wool and hand dyed fibers) are a selection of sustainable and fair trade yarns. Poliana exhibits her work in Brooklyn, Kingston and Piermont, NY. Also, she teaches weaving as meditation workshops for groups and privately.

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Jenny Wonderling

Jenny gathers and shares stories, and helps to enrich other people’s—and since 2005 she has done that through the vehicle of retail. A child of multi-cultural roots and a globally minded family, her wanderlust carried her to many places, deepening her caring for our planet and world community. Jenny feels that within each object is a trail of potent human interactions, and that we each have a responsibility to consider our impact every step of the way-- from sourcing to how an item will impact the earth long after the impulse-buy has occurred. Nectar focused on sourcing and selling handmade, sustainable products, supporting Fair Trade programs, women's cooperatives, and environmental initiatives. A new dream has blossomed though, quietly holding the seeds of her shops within the soil and blooms...  There is a widespread longing to share authentically, something she felt she was only touching on by showcasing and selling goods. What if people could connect through making, creating, growing, and healing together? Jenny is excited to bring her love of design, experience with merchandising, marketing, event planning, and sales to Circle.  Her passion for writing and story will bud through journal writing classes, and the gathering of stories for blogs and video on this site. Lastly, (but not at all least) her experience as a mother of three helps her understand the longing and importance to live and create in a thriving community—for the balance and health of the whole family… and world.

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Mirabai Trent

Raised in the Hudson Valley, Mirabai grew up with a deep connection to the Earth and plants that surrounded her. Majoring in fashion design, she fell in love with the realm of textiles and the unique qualities of each countries’ techniques, skills, and heritage. Mirabai, passionate about the healing power of the arts, did an intensive program at Esalen Institute learning about the patterns we have adopted, and how creative expression might shift those patterns. She also started a program for teens called Chrysalis, to help engage her peers in open conversation and expression. When searching for a school that honored traditional arts, she was unable to find one, planting in her the desire to create such a place. She started the traditional crafts department at HATCH Workshop, a center for emerging makers in Stockton CA.

Mirabai imagined a school of traditional crafts where people could learn, live and work side by side which led her to co-found Circle Creative Collective. With a commitment to learning and preserving cultural crafts, she was led to explore Guatemala, where ancient arts and traditions are abundant. Setting off to dive deep into the ancient Maya practices, she cultivated relationships with various community leaders, who have the mission of preserving their ancient culture as well. She volunteered with a weaving association owned and run completely by local Tz’utujil Mayan women and endeavored to learn the complex traditions of weaving, natural dyeing, embroidery, and beadwork. Mirabai has returned home to the Hudson Valley inspired and excited to share the skills she studied in Guatemala with the Circle community. She is currently planning another trip abroad, with the intention of creating long-lasting partnerships with local artisans to help develop a global exchange of cultural wisdom.