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Susan Dickenson

Portrait: Caroline Simas, Multiple Blessings

CAROLINE Simas always seems to be smiling. And for good reason.

Simas is a licensed artist from Charlotte, N.C., whose "Multiple Blessings" brand designs and pCaroline Simasatterns appear on a growing number of home décor, fabric, pillows, furniture, ceramics, cups, coasters and stationery products sold around the world. Her original paintings, collages and mixed media works are in several galleries and private collections. The married mother of four works in a home studio in Charlotte, garnering inspiration from her faith, and from a family she says provides love, support and much of the color and character for her creations.

This past summer, her furniture and home accessories debut with Creative Co-Op debuted. Next month in Atlanta, Simas will be launching a Christmas collection for Creative Co-Op, and debuting new licenses with Brownlow Gift and C.R. Gibson (journals), along with new designs for her existing collections with Demdaco, Magnet Works Ltd. and Tervis Tumblers. She also designs product for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Wellspring, Coasterstone, Tiny Prints (invitations and announcements) and Skinit (technology device covers).

In addition, Simas is working on an inspirational collection for Bridgewater Candle Company, the company's first licensed artist collaboration, and recently traveled with Bridgewater staff to Honduras, to see how the company's "Light a Candle, Feed a Child" campaign is positively impacting the lives of orphans. While there, she led the children in a group art project that incorporated some of her colorful prints and collages, applied her hand-painted artistry to the front of one of the residential casitas, and gathered more ideas for the Bridgewater project.

Your style is unique, fresh, and uplifting - where does all this inspiration come from? (Husband) David's and my four children inspire me every day. I also find great inspiration in nature, especially in flowers. And I feel strongly about connecting my faith with my art. I'm fortunate to partner with several manufacturers who understand my passion for this and enjoy providing uplifting products in the marketplace.

How did the Creative Co-Op deal come about? I had the idea to design a furniture collection based on Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." The goal was to develop and design a group of furniture and accessories for women to have in a room in their home specifically for quiet time, reflection, meditation, devotion or reading. I was Caroline Simas, Creative Co-Ophonored and thrilled that Creative Co-Op loved the idea. We worked for months and developed more than 60 SKUs.

What did you do before Multiple Blessings? I was a first grade teacher for six years and, during the summers, I taught art lessons to children. I stopped teaching to stay home with Walker, our first child, and started a custom painting business (baby linens, children's furniture, murals) that grew over the years until I couldn't keep up with the demand. About that time, we found out we were expecting twin girls and, after designing their birth announcement, I decided to create a collection of 24 greeting cards with scripture. A friend showed them locally, then a store, then a rep group picked up the Multiple Blessings brand, and soon they were selling in more than 250 independent retail shops across the country. I added more products to the collection but realized that being on the manufacturing side kept me busier with management and farther away from my gift-creating art and designing. So, I did a bit of research and transitioned out of manufacturing into licensing.

Do you have Multiple Blessings products in your own home? Oh yes! We actually just renovated our entire house and built a room for the Creative Co-Op collection so I have my very own "quiet time" room.

How do you manage work and family? David and I have been married 18 years, and we have two boys, ages 14 and 12, and twin girls, age 8. I won't lie, it's a challenge to manage it all but I have an incredible husband and family who have encouraged and supported me from the beginning. I think it has been neat for our children to see how you can make a career out of what you believe in and what you are passionate about. I love creating art for products so much that I often don't view it as a job. Passion is that way, ya' know?

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