Today we’d like to introduce you to Catalina Celis Reasoner.
Hi Catalina, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
The story of how CELIStial Art came about to be, goes way back to my childhood. I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, in a family of five children where art, literature, and music were our daily bread and butter. Growing up with a medley of German, Venezuelan, and Colombian holiday traditions, and in a home where creativity was encouraged daily, my imagination saw no limits. I found inspiration in every corner of our house. Designed by my dad, an architect, its windowed walls invited in nature, and light. Light transformed every corner of our house, every moment of the day while I daydreamed of princesses, dragons, and knights. I authored stories, plays, and poems in which my day-dreamed characters stitched tales with magical threads and pixie dust. I brought my characters to life with my Prismacolor pencils, on a Strathmore sketchbook, a present from my dad.
Even though I graduated as a Chemical Engineer with a Minor in Computer Science and currently work in Information Technology as a Business Systems Analyst, I have always pursued my artistic passion, which germinated inside the walls of my house and fostered by my family’s love.
My fascination for Christmas ornaments started at an early age. Being of German descent, the Advent season played a significant role in our annual Christmas celebration. Making hand-made ornaments with my mother and siblings marked the beginning of the holiday season for us, which was often long before the arrival of the first Advent Sunday.
Figuring out what materials to use for the ornaments was fascinating but coming up with the ideas was even more exciting. My siblings and I always had different ideas for our ornaments. Some ideas celebrated the wonderful book we had just read, or the ballet grandma had taken us to, or that special present we had received for our birthday. Each of us would make ornaments to commemorate an important happening of our young lives. And of course, just like I did with my siblings as a little girl, my children and I would also spend time making hand-made Christmas ornaments in preparation for the season.
One of my children’s favorite Christmas traditions was to hear the story behind each Christmas tree ornament. They would point to one ornament asking for its tale. Usually, they knew it by heart, but listening to the story over and over again, Christmas after Christmas, was as much fun as Christmas morning. And so, Christmas season evenings were filled with ornament stories being told, sitting by the tree, listening to carols (and some of The Beatle’s songs snuck in between), as we sipped hot-milk-with-cold-milk-with-
So, the year that my youngest child, Michael, graduated from high school, I decided to put my passion for Christmas ornaments and collectible figurines into action. I remember going with the mother of one of my son’s best friends to the Columbus Winterfair, Sandy. It was December 2012. That day I told her, “I will be one of the artists next year at the Columbus Winterfair.” And so, I did. I started with two very traditional collections, The Nativity and Santa Claus. The following years, I participated in more shows and continued expanding the ornaments collections. Every show was a learning experience. Knowing my customers, their likes and wants became one of my focuses. Doing shows while at the same time working full-time at my “day” job was not an easy thing to juggle. So, I had to find another way to put my product in front of my customers. So, in early 2019, I contracted a local company to build my website. And so, CELIStialart.com was born. As a person who works in Information Technology, I knew that there were many things that still needed to be done before the website could succeed as a retail venue. Unfortunately, before that could be done, COVID came along. The uncertainty of the future had halted my plans. Although, it gave me two years to rethink and better crystalize the vision for CELIStial Art. So, early this year, 2022, I partnered with Emily Journey & Associates, a local website consulting company specializing in WordPress and SEO, to redesign the website. The new CELIStial Art website will launch at the end of August, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. And I am also retiring from my “day” job as a Business Systems Analyst to dedicate 100% of my time to making unique hand-made ornaments and figurines to celebrate our cherished memories.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Building CELIStial Art has been a journey, and journeys always come with challenges. I would say that balancing my full-time job, as well as my hand-made ornaments business and friends and family, has been the greatest challenge. Since I started CELIStial Art almost ten years ago, weekends and holidays have been filled with creating “little people,” as my husband likes to call my figurine ornaments. Basically, almost every spare minute of my time is spent on the third floor of our home, where I have my studio. Besides a few road trips here and there, I have worked incessantly this past ten years. Thus, a sense of guilt constantly lingers in the background as I feel neglecting family and friends. Luckily, I have an incredibly supportive husband who rallies behind me. He helps me with the power tools, carting the inventory, and setting for the shows, and he is constantly finding interesting odds and ends at thrift stores that I can repurpose them as materials for my ornaments. At times, I feel I am spread so thin, that it is hard to reach that peaceful state where creativity can flourish. Thus, occasionally, ideas are stuck or lost among the clutter of the other dimensions of my life, especially my “day” job. I am a perfectionist, so reminding myself that not everything needs to be perfect has been a way to cope with the overwhelming demands of my life.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I started my professional career as a Software Engineering at Lagoven SA Oil Company in Caracas, Venezuela. After seven years, I was chosen to oversee a major project that we had contracted with an American company with headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. So, on January 20th, 1986, I travel to the USA for the adventure of a lifetime. That summer, I met my future husband. It was absolutely love at first sight. We were engaged in September and married in November of that year. With this life change came a job change. Shortly after we were married, my husband’s company moved him back to Columbus, Ohio. So, I found a job at an IT consulting company in Columbus, Ohio. Since then, most of my professional career has been working in the IT Management Consulting business, until four years ago when I decided to find a “home.” I wanted to find a place where I could “pass down” the knowledge I had gained throughout the 45+ years of my professional career. And I found that place in OCLC. My years at OCLC have been the most rewarding of my professional career. At OCLC, I have had the opportunity to establish the Business Systems Analyst (BSA) function. I defined the competencies, skills, and training for BSAs. With the arrival of COVID, I was forced to rethink our way of working in this new remote world in which we were living. So, I established new training, onboarding, engagement, and hiring processes. But the most rewarding of all my accomplishments was training and mentoring some wonderful young talent. As I am getting ready to retire from my “day” professional job, I feel very honored to have had the opportunity to make a mark in the lives of my direct reports, who have become very dear to my heart.
My mom used to say that life started when you were in your sixties. I never quite understood what she meant until later. She was an architect with a master’s in city planning. In her sixties, mom went back to college and obtained a master’s in literature. And in her eighties, she published two books of poetry. Her third book remains unpublished, as COVID and renal failure robbed her life at 93. Following my mom’s example, I am closing the first chapter of my life as an IT professional and starting to write my next chapter with CELIStial Art. A chapter as an entrepreneur, technical product owner, creator of magic, and archivist of memories. And I am sure there is a writing chapter someplace in my future. And who knows, perhaps many more waiting for me. Life is still young and filled with excitement to uncover! But for now, I am focusing on making my vision for CELIStial Art a reality.
CELIStial Art believes in preserving memories. We hope that our unique Memories should live in every corner of our homes and passed along to future generations. We imagine mantles all decked out, remembering a special life moment. And Christmas trees becoming live scrapbooks of families’ special occasions. And simple curio cabinets filled with nostalgia. So, we hope our ornaments and figurines will help you celebrate your own magical memories.
CELIStial Art believes in the joy of creating memories together with friends and family. We believe in baking together, decorating the Christmas Tree together, and crafting together. So, we offer a unique collection of craft kits that would provide you with hours of wholesome entertainment as you create unique ornaments and collectibles for your home and holidays decorations.
CELIStial Art believes in the potential that common materials have when you dare to push your creativity and imagination. And we believe in giving used materials a second life. So, our ornaments and collectible figurines are handmade mostly from repurposed and recycled materials. Materials collected from second-hand stores and garage sales. Or gifted by friends, friends of friends, and our own customers, who love to see how we transform found objects and whatnots into our unique figurines and ornaments.
CELIStial Art believes in magical worlds, enchanted forests, and fantasy realms. And we believe in fueling the imagination of children of all ages. And we believe in making the impossible possible and the common extraordinary. So, we explore the most cherished classical children’s books and fairy tales to create our unique figurines. And we imagine our own fantasy world inhabited by our own fantastic creatures that we embody in our unique figurines and ornaments.
With these unique, found-object ornaments and figurines we make today, we hope to spread the joy we experienced in our childhood, the magical moments we created with our children, the importance of cherishing family, and the significance of celebrating every magical moment of our lives.
Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I was lucky to have been born to two wonderful parents who, from the beginning, encouraged my creative spirit. I was surrounded by art, literature, culinary arts, and music. Thus, art is part of my DNA. With that said, when it came to a college degree choice, art was not one of my parents’ favored options. So, to pleased them, I became an engineer and pursue a professional career in the very technical field of IT. I am not going to lie. I did enjoy every minute of it and still enjoy it. My analytical and creative thinking mind was just built for that type of work. And I have been extremely successful at what I do. But all along, I always pursue my artistic side as well, even though it was not for a living.
I was lucky to have a wonderful twin sister. Together, we created magical worlds and tea parties in the backyard among the banana plants. And we pretended to be doctors and inventors of mosquito bites medicine. We foster each other’s imaginations, and we were constantly exploring all the secret passages that our home offered. I believe without my twin sister I would not be who I am today. There is something special about having a twin (fraternal in our case), that enriches your life in ways you would never imagine. And I was lucky to have met my wonderful husband and to have had our two wonderful children who are one the greatest joys of our life.
But most of all, it is more about serendipity than luck. I believe in things happening for a reason. I believe in listening to your guts, to what the world is whispering in your ear. And I believe in being ready when opportunities come knocking at your door. One time, I participated in a show that was supposed to be a very prestigious and reputable one. Maybe in previous years, but that year, the lack of advertisement, coordination, and mismanagement turned it into a fiasco. I did not even come close to cover my participation fee. But I met Valerie, one of my best artists friends. Valerie makes beautiful wooden boxes, and she is always finding materials for me as she goes on her weekly thrifting sprees. Over twenty years ago, I worked with a colleague, John, who was a digital marketing and branding expert. On September 11th, our lives took all sorts of twists and turns. We were getting pink slips as the second plane was crashing into the twin towers. With all the death of that day, a pink slip suddenly seemed irrelevant. And so, we went separate ways as we tried to continue our professional careers. Although, we remained in contact all this time. Today, over twenty years later, I partnered with John as I redesigned CELIStial Art website. John, who owns the marketing firm Making Design Matter, is my website copy editor and digital marketing strategist. As a manager at OCLC, I have interviewed and hired a lot of people these past four years. Not too long ago, I hired a very energizing gal, Ella. As I got to know her, I learned that she was a budding entrepreneur just like myself. With so much in common, we shared our dreams, visions, and plans for our business. The more we shared, the more we realized the synergy between our businesses. As our brains create melded ideas, I cannot stop thinking of that serendipitous moment when I made the decision to hire her. So, I do believe in magic, and serendipity, and crafting your destiny, build upon the mysterious moments that life presents to you along your journey.
- Nutcraker Collection – Nutcracker Doll – $50.00
- Peter Pan Collection – Tinker Bell – $55.00
- The Wizard of Oz Collection – Dorothy – $55.00
- Dragons Collection – Dragon – $70.00
- Alice in Wonderland – White Rabbit – $50.00
- Website: www.celistialart.com
- Other: Pinterest – @catreasoner