Sunflowers at HAYVN

Sunflowers remind us of summer’s best moments, from bright yellow hues to the vibrant energy they carry. The flower naturally signifies longevity, loyalty, happiness, and optimism. You may have noticed a similar spirited theme throughout our coworking hub if you’re a HAYVN member or frequent visitor.

“Since our opening HAYVN, we have always filled our space with signature yellow flowers, our favorite has been the sunflower,” said Felicia Rubinstein, Co-Founder and Chief Collaborator. “Like sunflowers, we want our members to feel they can also grow and shine within our community.”

However, that is not all that sunflowers have represented as of late. The sunflower is also the national flower of the Ukrainian people and a global symbol of resistance and hope.

HAYVN is supporting Ukraine by donating to Save The Children in Ukraine. From now until October 31st, 10% of new social or hot desk membership fees will go directly to their organization. We’ve also partnered with Kerstin Rao, our new resident artist, to sell her sunflower prints at the cowork space. An additional 10% of her proceeds will go to Save The Children in Ukraine.

Sunflowers in Ukraine

The flower has a long, enriching history in the country. TIME reports sunflowers have been native to the region since the mid-18th century. Sunflowers fuel the national economy, with Russia and Ukraine accounting for “70-80% of the world’s sunflower exports.”

In 1996, Ukrainians celebrated the removal of nuclear weapons from their country with the national flower. More than 25 years later, the meaning of the flower has resurfaced, calling for a more peaceful future.

Kerstin Rao on Sunflower Resistance

Artists worldwide are painting sunflowers, sharing photographs, and exploring mediums to capture the national flower on canvas to show solidarity for Ukraine and encourage world peace. Kerstin Rao, Founder and artist behind Vivid Cottage, is one of them.

This is an important cause for us at HAYVN. In honor of Save The Children, we sat down with Kerstin for a Q/A on life, business, and how her sunflower painting came to be.

Q. Kerstin, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

“I am 57 years old and just retired in 2021, after 34 years as a classroom teacher. When you’ve had a career that is engaging and meaningful, it takes a minute before you realize your next path. I wound up doing something recommended by Randy Pausch – to live your childhood dreams.”

Q. When did you realize you wanted to pursue your passion as an artist?

“I had forever wanted to be an artist. As a kid, I was convinced I would move to New York, travel, and be part of a salon of intellectuals and creatives. Instead, my life path led me to teach! What’s lovely about midlife is it’s a chance to reimagine your life and seize the opportunity.”

Q. How did you discover HAYVN?

Through a friend from one of my business classes, Catherine Avery! She recommended a group photographer, a woman who comes down from upstate New York and rents the coworking space. I’ve networked with so many women across the community.

Q. What sparked your creativity for drawing flowers?

“Like many, the pandemic was particularly challenging post-lockdown. Muddy Feet Flowers, run by Kristin Burillo, became my go-to destination when our Westport farmer’s market reopened. It wasn’t enough to just have the bouquet – I wanted to capture the edges and curls of the pedals on canvas.”

Q. When did you transition to sunflowers?

Somebody in my community found out I was making artwork and requested a commission. Her sister was a cancer survivor, like my own, so I wanted to give them something truly special.

She asked me to draw a bouquet, so I put together a mixture of sunflowers, thistle, and lilac. However, the day I started drawing the sunflowers, Russia invaded Ukraine, and it struck me differently.

Sunflowers are essential to the Ukrainian people as a symbol of their national identity. The flowers in front of me represented resilience, strength, and beauty imbued into the drawing as I worked on it.

It wasn’t just a birthday gift anymore. I decided to donate 10% of my profits to support Ukrainian children.

Q. How can people support you in making a purchase?

Anyone can make an order on my website! And if you’re relatively close to Westport, we can work out a meeting place. I ship all over the country and love hearing from people who have ordered my things and sent my cards for a momentous occasion!

Join Now & Give Back

From fundraising to supporting local businesses, coworking communities like HAYVN are embarking on missions of importance.

Join Our Unique Women-Centric Pitch Night

Our next HAYVN HATCH event is happening LIVE, in-person at HAYVN on Monday, October 3rd, 2022, at 5:30 PM. Get tickets to meet amazing founders and teams behind five great new businesses.

As a member of our audience, you can also invest in these companies as angel investors. This allows you to contribute additional money to founders and companies that you like. Learn more here.

HAYVN Coworking

Founded in 2018, HAYVN is a flexible workspace for enterprising women (and men) to connect, create and grow. Along with a vibrant & engaged coworking community of entrepreneurs and business professionals, HAYVN is a business HUB, offering short- and long-term office space leases, meeting rooms rentals, and events to support local businesses. HAYVN is proud to be a Certified B Corporation™ and a CTNext partner. We believe in using the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy and have met the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. HAYVN’s workshops and signature programs encourage women of all colors and ages and acts as an incubator for developing skills and pursuing funding. HAYVN Launch incubator is a 2021 winner of the SBA's Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC), and the only 2021 winner in Connecticut. 

Visit our beautiful safe ‘HAYVN’ in Fairfield County, CT  at 320 Boston Post Road, Darien, CT, 06820.  Arrange a private tour today, or to learn more about our health and safety response, read through our detailed guidelines here.

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