60th Anniversary Makers’ Stories: Lauri Jenkins, VisArts Teacher and Owner of the Laurianda Clothing Company
For the past 15 years, Lauri Jenkins, a skilled fiber artist originally from Patterson, New Jersey, has been crafting custom women’s skirts and garments, along with an array of sewn products, including handbags and wallets. She acquired her passion for sewing during high school, where she fell in love with the technical aspect of piecing fabric together, “the patterns, piecing things together, figuring things out, and using tools like scissors and rulers always excited me,” says Lauri. This fascination for her craft eventually led her to establish her Richmond-based business, The Laurianda Clothing Company, in 2015.
Lauri’s entrepreneurial journey took a lucky turn in 2016 when she started teaching at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond–a local hub for creative exploration in Richmond. Lauri was introduced to the arts center by a friend and soon found herself teaching kids classes and later, in 2017, instructing adult classes. Her Intro to Sewing classes have been met with overwhelming success and consistently long waitlists.
Describing her creative process, Lauri emphasizes the importance of solitude. Being alone allows her to be free from distractions which she admits she’s prone to, “I’m a helpful person so if someone needs something, I’m inclined to stop and answer questions. When I’m alone and away from distractions, I can easily start thinking about my next move creatively.” Lauri says about her work which is inspired by colors, fabrics, the female form, and even the weather.
As VisArts celebrates its “60th anniversary of making, Lauri reflects on the significant impact the space and community have had on her work. “There were times when I would receive orders that required more cutting. When I needed the space to cut large amounts of fabric, all I had to do was go on the website and sign up for studio time. Quick and easy! I can seriously say VisArts has certainly impacted the growth of my work. I’ve met many wonderful creatives and had the opportunity to collaborate with photographers, expand my skill set to include screen printing and network with a diverse group of talented artists.”
When asked about her vision for VisArts’ next 60 years, Lauri envisions the arts organization’s central role in creating a thriving arts scene in Richmond, one that evokes joy in the community. “It makes people happy to see something they thought of come to life. It also makes people happy to possess something made by a local artisan. In my intro to sewing classes, there is always a discussion about the items we purchase and wear. You wouldn’t believe how many people are proud to say, ‘this was made by a local artist.’ From earrings to diaper bags, people love to support the creativity coming out of Richmond and VisArts is instrumental in facilitating that connection between patrons and local artists.”
Looking ahead, Lauri has plans to showcase her designs at VisArts’ 2023 Craft + Design show at Main Street Station in November, “I love the vibe at Craft + Design. Everything there is so neat! And all the artists are top-notch. So, showcasing my work there is a nice full-circle moment. VisArts is true to its mission, and I am happy to be associated with this organization.”