TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Running her store Beautiful Little Things isn’t Jennifer O’Neill’s full-time job.
She’s actually a psychotherapist who helps women through traumatic situations.
But she’s also helping women in another way: through selling their creations in her small corner of Proper Shops downtown.
“My clients used to ask me, ‘What brings you joy?’ And I would say, ‘I love beautiful little things,'” O’Neill said. “So, when this opportunity kind of opened up to me, I decided, what else to name it?”
The store displays clothing, handbags and jewelry from women all over the world, and by the end of the year she wants to add her own creations to the collection.
Because O’Neill deals with heavy conversations in her main line of work, this business isn’t just a passion project. It’s her own form of therapy.
“Being here, it’s kind of like my happy place. I have color around me all the time,” she said. “Just knowing that I’m making a difference in supporting other women this way means a lot to me.”
And just a few blocks away from the shops is the Blue Lotus Artists’ Collective, which is also a global affair, highlighting Black artists from all backgrounds.
“What we were finding is the artists were saying they were having a hard time getting visibility,” Board President Laura Pendleton-Miller said. “We also felt like internationally, there are a lot of renowned black artists, but we don’t see them in this community.”
That’s when the team took things into their own hands and started the Collective.
The gallery displays many works of art from artists in town and abroad.
“We’re finding artists that we want to approach who are in the East Coast, who are in Mexico, who are in London,” Pendleton-Miller said. “So we’re not limiting what we would like to do here.”
Blue Lotus had a soft opening in March, but its grand opening is less than two months away.
It’ll include a brand new gallery installed after the current one ends Saturday, Sept. 30, a DJ and Black-owned food trucks.
Pendleton-Miller said in addition to the big block party, she hopes to secure more community partnerships and open educational programs at the Collective.
“We want this to be a really comfortable space of community,” she said. “We want this to be a comfortable space of feeling like home for black artists.”
Mikenzie Hammel joined the KGUN 9 team as a multimedia journalist in the summer of 2023. She graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. With her passion for human connection and visual storytelling, Mikenzie is honored to share the stories of Tucson and southeastern Arizona. Share your story ideas and important issues with Mikenzie by emailing email@example.com.
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