They say time heals all wounds, but for Rebekah Lowell, it was nature, and with this, her brand was born. Rebekah Lowell is an artist, illustrator, writer, and survivor. She channels her love for the natural world, both flora and fauna, and her experiences into her work—where magic happens. Her art, which is translated into products that are perfect for you and your home, is inspired by the things she adores most in nature: birds, butterflies, flowers, and more. And to keep them on brand and sustainable even while shipping, Rebekah uses noissue Stamp to make her brand stand out.
Tell us a bit about your brand, introduce it to the world!
Hello, I'm Rebekah Lowell (she/her), a children's author/illustrator, surface pattern designer, and painter who grew up in a field of wildflowers that finds its way into my work.
As children, we have a sense of wonder that often fades as we grow—but my passion is to keep that youthful spirit of discovery alive through the process of observing and creating. My heart continues to be amazed by the natural world we live in and I want to share this through the words and images of my work. By teaching others to love nature, we encourage empathy, and in that we are saving the world. As a survivor of ten years of domestic abuse and captivity, spending time in nature through birding, gardening, walking, and nature journaling, has helped my healing journey.
I write and illustrate books for kids, paint wildlife and landscapes, nature journal, write poetry, and create repeat patterns that end up on physical products such as flour sack towels, prints, and fabric, and that artwork is also available for licensing. For my book work, I'm represented by Paige Terlip at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I hold a BFA in Illustration from The Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Children's Literature and Illustration from Hollins University.
What inspired you to start your own brand?
Growing up with parents who are both entrepreneurs influenced my goals and dreams from childhood into adulthood. I always knew I wanted to be an artist and writer. I always knew I would work for myself. Seeing both of them succeed at entrepreneurship has always been inspiring to me.
My father is a carpenter and my mother is a hair stylist, and they both run and own their own businesses. My siblings (four sisters and one brother) also all work for themselves, from bakers, to builders, to hair stylists, to nail techs—they are entrepreneurs as well. We have all followed our own paths.
This way of life, while laborious and time intensive, is worth every effort to me because there is freedom in being your own boss. Part of being a survivor for me means that freedom is one of my core needs. There is a huge responsibility in being self-employed, but there is also a huge reward in reaping the benefits of your own hard work. By taking initiative and moving forward in an intentional direction, you begin to know yourself and where you want to be both now and ten years from now. Time freedom, location freedom, and creative freedom are all extremely important to me, and I find all three in this artistic career.
Share your brand mission and vision with us!
Through my work, my hope is to connect others with the natural world so that they grow in empathy for our planet, our backyard, themselves, and others.
My art and writing focuses on the natural world, its flora and fauna, while considering how humans interact with wild spaces. Projects that evoke a sense of wonder, or invite a closer look, are especially appealing. Nature is healing, and anyone who has experienced trauma can benefit from the wonders of watching plants grow, birds soar above, smelling the dirt under their feet. We've all experienced hard times on different levels at some point, and I find that being in nature is replenishing, renewing, and restorative. The relationship between human and nature is reciprocal at its fullest.
In sharing how I see the world through my art and writing, my hope is that others will consider their wild spaces and the protection they need as well. We might not be able to save an entire countryside like Beatrix Potter, or Rachel Carson, but what can we do in our own backyard, or our own neighborhood to speak up for the creatures and plant life that don't have a voice to fight back with as they face habitat fragmentation and loss? They need a voice. Caring for the plants and animals that cohabitate this planet alongside us, stirs compassion for them, which encourages empathy, extending past nature, to others as well. It encourages us to see outside of ourselves.
My own childhood was layered with days of walking through a buzzing meadow to my favorite tree on the edge of the field and climbing up to my spot. Birds, bugs, squirrels would come out of hiding after my footsteps had gone by. From my safe spot in the crook of a tree, sketchbook on my lap, the child within me grew.
That love of being outside and watching all the wonder around me has never faded. I am passionate about saving as much of our wild spaces that we can and hope that through creating artwork and books that highlight the natural world that it will cause others to look closer, appreciate that life, and consider how they can help.
My vision one day is to share nature journaling, a practice I do personally, that has helped me connect with the natural world, in a way that is educational and inclusive. I would love to create a course, as well as a physical product, that helps others connect with themselves and the natural world, to know both more fully.
Now let’s talk sustainability: what does it mean to your brand/business?
Sustainability is important to me because what we choose to do now affects generations to come— generations of humans, animals, and plants alike. I've switched over to biodegradable print sleeves, crinkled paper packing material (that I often reuse from other packages I receive in the mail), less toxic paints and mediums, rock-based watercolors, and more. Whenever I learn of a new sustainable material, even if the cost is slightly more that its unsustainable or toxic counterpart, I'm willing to invest in that because I believe in the power of being eco-conscious.
What led you to make the switch to sustainable packaging with noissue?
The first time I received a package in the mail that proudly said it was a biodegradable mailer I was intrigued. That led me to discover noissue and I've loved working with noissue ever since.
Why did you choose to join noissue’s Eco-Alliance? How does this help shape your brand?
Through noissue's sustainable products, I'm so glad I've taken steps to use biodegradable packaging such as print sleeves, mailers, etc. In addition to that, I reuse shipping boxes as much as possible, I work at home, I plant my own inspiration in the form of my garden and take my own photos usually within walking distance of my own backyard.
In addition to making the switch with noissue and joining the Eco-Alliance, are there any other steps that you’ve taken to lower your environmental footprint? If so, how do you showcase this to your customers?
As part of my conservation efforts, I rescue and raise monarchs from the local hayfields and release them so they can become the next generation. I grow pollinator plants for them, as well as their host plant, milkweed. I'm not sure if this decreases my footprint, but it feels like I'm contributing to the cycle of life and enriching the monarchs around my area. Last summer I released over 400, and the summer before that over 200. I've been raising monarchs for about 7 years, and each year my capacity grows.
What sets your brand/biz apart from others?
I'm a homeschooling mother of two and survivor of domestic abuse who longs to connect more fully with the natural world and share this experience with others so that they can connect more fully as well.
After ten years of isolation and abuse, I appreciate every moment of freedom that I have to walk this wonderful world. There was a time I was tethered to a very small yard, not able to leave the property, not able to show my daughters trails in the woods, or parks nearby. We were confined to the very grounds the house we were contained in and was built on. Cut off from the outside world, we planted a very small garden of iris bulbs and this brought us joy. They were so young, but I did what I could to help them experience the wonder of nature and show them to love and care for it, even if it was truly the yard we were ordered to stay in.
My business, in this way, is a battle cry for freedom—for mine, for my daughters', for anyone's. We all deserve to be free to explore, to live, to be curious, to make, to be creative, to love, to follow a passion, to nurture, to enjoy this wonderful world we live in, without being told where and when we can do so.
This might be why birds, butterflies, and winged creatures are so important to me.
What are/were the challenges in running your business and how do/did you cope?
When I graduated the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004, my plan had been to begin my business then, and start querying agents, editors, and art directors, maybe even schlepp my portfolio around New York City, but as my abusive situation took more hold, all of that was paused, I thought forever. It wasn't until 2013 that I escaped with my four and six-year-old daughters and began a new life, which meant beginning my career.
It was hard to have dreams and not be able to pursue them. It was hard to be discouraged to be creative, and to create work. It was damaging to my autonomy to be demeaned for making art. I've always been an artist. I've always been someone who drew. When I was seven, I sketched plants and later looked them up in my field guides. It's who I am, and I don't know how not to be someone who draws. It was so hard to feel like that part of me was not accepted, was not encouraged, and was dying inside of me. I dealt with this by hiding it. I drew when the abusive person was gone. I painted in secret then packed up my paints, careful to not have them out when that person arrived at the house at the end of the day. When we were on our own, I let my daughters draw and paint to their hearts' content and kept every drawing hidden away.
Another challenge in running my business has been that I began my career as a single mom of two young daughters with no money, no resources, and no home. We lived in a women's shelter while I painted some of my first successful wildlife paintings. I started graduate school when they were five and seven and brought them to my first classes, which were independent studies. I've found ways to make things work, to trudge forward, to do what I can each day, and give myself grace when needed.
We all start somewhere, and for me, that was as a seed in the ground, ready to crack open and spread roots in the earth and buds toward the sun. I'm still a work in progress.
What advice would you give those who are interested in starting their own brand/biz in the same industry as yours?
Don't be afraid to dream big, and if you feel that you are alone, you are not. There are so many resources for those looking to be a creative entrepreneur. I joined SCBWI and learned a lot about the industry of children's literature. Reach out for help. There are those who have gone before you. It's not how fast you get there, but if you keep a steady pace and choose small actionable goals to work on, and keep checking them off, you will get there. As my surface pattern design mentor Bonnie Christine says, "One thing a day."
After seventeen years of dreaming, hoping, trying to become traditionally published (with ten of those years being mostly dreaming because of the abuse), I am so happy to announce and be able to say that my middle grade novel in verse, THE ROAD TO AFTER, published with Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House on May 10, 2022.
A bit about the novel:
"This poignant debut novel in verse is a portrait of healing, as a young girl rediscovers life and the soothing power of nature after being freed from her abusive father.
For most of her life, Lacey has been a prisoner without even realizing it. Her dad rarely let her, her little sister, or her mama out of his sight. But their situation changes suddenly and dramatically the day her grandparents arrive to help them leave. It’s the beginning of a different kind of life for Lacey, and at first she has a hard time letting go of her dad’s rules. Gradually though, his hold on her lessens, and her days become filled with choices she’s never had before. Now Lacey can take pleasure in sketching the world as she sees it in her nature journal. And as she spends more time outside making things grow and creating good memories with family and friends, she feels her world opening up and blossoming into something new and exciting."
This book comes straight from my heart and onto the page. Though it's middle grade fiction, the story is inspired by my daughters’ and I's experience with abuse, recovery, and connecting with nature as a journey to healing.
Tell us about your favorite product/work that you’ve done, and/or your best customer story.
Working with kids, showing them how to look closer at our world, and draw what they see is always a joy to me. I’ve taught art to young folks for years, and now I’m about to embark on a new venture as a published author and illustrator for children. My debut middle grade novel in verse went out into the world for young readers to experience on May 10, 2022, and after that, my debut picture book will follow in spring 2023. Kids are always full of wonder and curiosity, and I learn so much from spending time with them. I know I will continue to enjoy interacting with students, both virtually and in person, and hope to make a difference in their lives through sharing my work and teaching workshops.