Amerikiss - Our Story
In the midst of a re-launch after more than seven years of zigzagging, detours and what is now referred to a "depressive episode" (I like to call it my reboot of 2012), Amerikiss is quickly gaining momentum as the business it was meant to be---bringing back the emotion of humanity through the joy derived from a priceless journey back through the time of your life and the lives of those you love.
Originally created to spread love through pocket and greeting cards and poetry collage frames, I would often say that I wanted to be in every truck stop across America. It would be my way of saving the world and making it a better place. I felt as though my own creations of collaged encouragement, support, friendship and love could truly make an unlimited impact on this country and our world.
The name "Amerikiss" was inspired by my beloved feline son whom I adopted from the pound less than three weeks after I moved to the Phoenix Valley from the sticks of Kansas
on January 28, 2002.
He picked me, no doubt, so sure he seemed to think I would pass him by, too. We were truly soulmates. And patriotic as I am, I named him the wonderful name from the movie "Where the Heart Is" -- Americus Nation Richard. My sweet little man passed away April 17, 2015 but his namesake AMERIKISS shall live on.
"Amerikiss" I originally trademarked later that year with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as it embodies my favorite "keep it simple silly" (stupid is very degrading!) and most important, the mission of creating goodness on this earth by "kissing the wounds and making them better."
So steadfast to the creed to simply give is the sweetest gift, in a few short years, Amerikiss has gone from "planned to be collage pocket/greeting cards & frames" to crocheted craziness at farmers markets then an organizing service (which created too much confrontation for me) followed by a life-altering meltdown. All of which has no doubt brought me to where I and my business, Amerikiss, are today.
Funny thing is the signs were there all along...
In high school, almost 20 years ago, I revived and reinvented the high school newspaper my junior year and was assistant editor of the yearbook. Senior year, I was editor of the yearbook. I didn't know it then, but the universe was preparing me for my divinity through the fundamental knowledge and skill of page layout and design.
During my farmers market experience, though I had NOTHING directly associated with scrapbook artistry at the time, a woman asked me if I would be interested in volunteering to teach a scrapbooking class for adults with mental barriers. I even had plenty of materials to provide for the class. It was a pleasantly interesting experience, but more importantly, it was the billboard sign I so absentmindedly missed. I literally walked out that door and went back to exactly what I was doing...something that wasn't working.
So how did I finally discover the divine purpose of Amerikiss? Although I had created other albums throughout the years, it never occurred to me to do it for others, especially as a business until I was creating the album for my english pointer, Missy-Roo, who passed away from skin cancer on February 5, 2013.
As I would complete a couple pages per day, I would sit and slowly journey through the book up to that point. Each time, as I turned the last page, the joy would be fuller so I'd take the journey again. And again, the joy grew. What I call my "soul spot" was pulsating with energy so intense, it could only be described as heavenly and other-worldly. Oh the joy that rose...and then kept rising and growing, each time more than the last. I would get through it and just had to take the trip again and again! It was amidst that glorious joy and love when it hit me... if it makes me feel so AMAZING remembering the life of my angel then I must share such a gift this immense joy with the world.
It is without doubt that I have certainly smiled and laughed far more than I have cried since she has gone. The creation and completion of her scrapbook revealed to me my true calling--my life's purpose...to compile precious memories and priceless moments with these gifts flowing from within me through the joyously creative world of custom artistry.
And so Amerikiss has been revived with a renewed purpose—creating artistic memory books and shadowboxes filled with priceless photos designed and crafted to create a warm fuzzy feeling that only comes from the simple pleasure of having a gorgeous creation that will take you back to your most treasured moments in life.
Less than three months ago, during one of my events this past November, I was "discovered" by a Chandler Chamber of Commerce Ambassador--Richard Salas--who INSISTED I make an appearance at a regular chamber meeting that following Thursday morning. At the end of the hour long meeting, having had the opportunity to share a brief 30 second bit about my business and show my Africa shadowbox, a gentleman approached me with the simple statement, "I have this box of ashes."
Somewhat confused, I inquire, "Soooo, you want a little pouch in the shadowbox with the photos??"
"No, I want the whole box."
At first, I will admit, I balked just a little. How big is this box? I wonder. But the spiritually divine part of me squashed all doubt and eagerly welcomed such a creative challenge.
So I followed him back to his place to acquire the box of remains (and to see how big it was!!) and the necessary photos...all the time not having a clue as to how I was going to make this work.
With remains, photos and a wooden spoon in hand, I headed directly to the craft supply store. The trust granted with regard to his mother's remains was and still is inexplicable. But without his mother sharing this creative journey, the creation could not have come together in such a manner that during the creative process, even the trust within myself of the talent bestowed upon me was firm and satisfying.
Having only two days to complete the creation, the first Amerikiss Memorial Display Case (EVER!) for cremated remains was done in less than 22 hours after nonstop creating since being presented with the experience. And the result, wow. Even I am amazed at what this gift within can give.
Thank you, Ralph Guariglio, for such a beautiful spiritual gift of the journey with your mother in seeking, and so finding, her final resting space within the glass walls of a memorial display case all her own. Her remains forever sealed in a mini world that embodies and encompasses both her physical and spiritual essence. Thank you. This sacred creative gift I shall now share with the world.
I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to my best friend, Jeri Lynn. It is without a doubt that I couldn't have made it this far without you. I love you!