We had the good fortune of connecting with Nuni Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nuni, what matters most to you?
“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” – Henri Matisse. Matisse’s quote resonates in my life as I take the art of balance as a core principle of design. My life is a balanced composition of teaching, business, artmaking, and sprinkles of connections and feline friends. I teach drawing and painting to young aspiring artists at GSU. Through our interaction, I discover our shared interests and stay attuned to the emerging generation’s ideas and the fast-changing trends. When I am not teaching or making art, I spend time volunteering at a cat shelter. I also have five cats at home whom I love. Then, these feline friends appear in my artwork. The artmaking process is a meditative process for me as it helps me to tap into my unconscious. As Matisse quoted, artmaking is a soothing and calming process, and I want to share these positive emotions with my audience. The same intent carries over to my shoe customization business. I started this business to bring an art product that is approachable and affordable to many people. My clients reach out to me with their vision of the shoes, and I communicate with them to better understand their vision. I never get to meet these clients in person since I sell my items on the online platform Etsy. However, what connects us is our common interest, whether it is the love for animals, trends, or simply shoes. I believe in the existence of the energy that gravitates one human being to another. For me, my business connects me to people of shared interests. When I design their custom shoes, I try to “think in their shoes” (pun intended!) and try to find a perfect balance between their vision and the trends. I appreciate every new connection and friendship I build through my shop La Fille Custom. The elements of teaching, business, art, and friendship create the composition called my life.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I own and operate a business called La Fille Custom. “La Fille” translates to “the girl” in French. I started this shop with a simple desire to bring to my clients the pure joy of seeing something unique and interesting for the first time, similar to what little children feel when they see or do something for the first time. The shoes that I design and paint for my clients are one-of-kind, meaning that they are customized and handpainted based on their personal vision. I run my store on the Etsy platform, which is a website focused on handmade gift items. My clients reach out to me with a vision in their mind. Examples of these visions include the portrait of their pets on their shoes, an arrangement of their favorite movie characters on their shoes, or a combination of many themes. I am together with my clients in every step of their decision-making, helping them choose the shoes, select the color scheme, and arrange the elements on the shoes. I interact with various clients, but the one shared commonality that brings us together is the anticipated joy of the recipient (often their loved one). My clients and I are excited together during the creation process, and they share the recipients’ reactions to the gifts we made together with me. These stories make me so happy and make all the hours of work put into production very meaningful. I am proud of my business because I can share this joy through my artwork in an affordable manner to many audiences.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My perfectly orchestrated day here in Metro Atlanta would look like this. In my morning, I would like to take my friend to the Morgan Falls Overlook Park in Sandy Springs, Georgia, for some kayaking and SUP yoga time on the river. If the weather is too chilly, we can also walk in the untainted trail along the riverbanks. After taking a shower and freshening up, we will drive west to Java Cats Marietta, where we can drink coffee while socializing with rescue kitties. All of these kitties come from the local shelters and are up for adoption. A small corner of the café is dedicated to exhibiting and selling handcrafted items by local artists. Later in the evening, I would like to have dinner with my friend at MF Sushi in Inman Park, then walk along the Beltline to finish off with ice cream dessert at Butter & Cream near Old Fourth Ward district. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank my husband, Tim Kuk, for his love, encouragement, and support. My husband and I are very different entities. I would even say the polar opposites. If my favorite color is pink, his favorite would be blue. If I encompass the yin energy, his would be the yang energy. Art is my livelihood, and Tim analyzes data in the finance world. Sometimes, it is hard for me to understand what he is doing with the programming apps on his computer, and likewise, he might be confused when I start talking about my art philosophy. However, rather than focusing on our differences, we’ve learned to focus on what our different professions share. Tim helps me understand the business model better, and I help him with the design side of work. Although we are very different, he and I work together to build a whole and become more well-rounded individuals. I couldn’t be who I am today without my husband, Tim.

Website: www.lafillecustom.etsy.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/la_fille_custom/

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/nunilee/

Other: Artist Website: www.nunimonalee.com

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