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To Dream in Color: The Sustainable Vision of Terra Malia Designs

By Paul Rowe

Nine years ago, Terra Malia started a company providing floral designs at weddings in the Santa Barbara region. A young mother at the time, Terra would work into the wee hours of the morning to master the art of her craft.

"I was a young mother attempting to create a meaningful profession for myself that would pair well with my important work as a mother," Terra said of her early years. "My littles would hit the sack and I could stay up through the night getting creative, doing something to feed my creative hunger. I combined floral design with my obsession with succulents and created something unique that very few people had experienced in wedding floral."

Malia began growing the succulents used in her personal designs, and soon involved her entire family in the enterprise. Whether tending the plants or breaking down materials after events, Terra's daughters, now eleven and nine, continue to pitch in to this very day. Terra's clients and artisans work well together and produce magic as a result.

"Terra Malia Designs is an extension of myself, and because I believe in making people feel special, listening closely to what clients want, and providing opportunities for artisans to do what they are passionate about, typically the end result generates inspired pieces of art that tend to resonate with the people that the designs are created for," Terra said.

Whether it's working as a family or working with the environment that nourishes all life, Malia has always understood the importance of interdependent work. Sustaining the environment is one of her top priorities.

"I believe taking care of our earth is something that should be considered in every decision," Terra said. "Terra Malia Designs strives to gather materials used in design from local farmers, whom in many cases have become friends, that are farming sustainably."

Throughout Terra's life, she has strived to maintain the balance of human co-existence with the natural world. Terra's focus on the importance of nature is owed to her upbringing in Hawaii. In fact, until her college years, Hawaii served as a playground for Terra's creative mind. Her supportive parents rightfully encouraged her to soak in the natural scenes, fueling her artistic drive.

"I hiked, biked, danced and swam through life on the islands where everything around me was luscious greens or underwater worlds teaming with plants, flowers and mosses accompanied by intoxicating smells and sights," Terra said. "When I enter a space with potential for plant life and artistic flair, my eyes look within to all the natural beauty I know is possible and I dream in color, picturing all that could be a reality through art and design."

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About The Author

Paul Rowe is a graduate instructor of writing and master's student of Literature at...

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