Our Oddbird Artist series was born at the onset of the pandemic. It was a way for us to not only support incredible artists we love by profiling them and sharing their work but also to hopefully inspire our community on their own journey of creativity, finding new rhythms in uncertain times, and the healing act of making art.

​When we first came upon macrame artist Lena Njoku (also known as Mimi), we were absolutely blown away by her fresh, vintage-inspired take on the cherished and resurgent art form that she says has been a pivotal part of her mental health journey. True to her signature hashtag #notyourgrandmasmacrame, her hypnotizing patterns offer bold and dynamic colors to create the most gorgeously intricate, custom handmade heirloom art pieces for her clients.

Whether creating unique backdrops for events or nostalgic art pieces for the home, we got to chat with OB muse, Mimi, to discover where she draws inspiration for her art and how she has adapted her creative outlet to help balance her professional and family life

"I can't tell you enough how much Mimi's story of 'art as therapy' resonated with me. When I was going through postpartum depression after my second child, it was macrame in fact that brought me through the toughest season of my life. The art form was the most therapeutic and rewarding craft I have ever done, so connecting with both an artist's work and their story is a wonderfully layered experience.

Mind you, I never got close to Mimi's skill level! Wow. This powerhouse mama is such an inspiration. Her work and dynamic personality, make her one of my favorite artists to follow "

- Ceren

Q. You’re a teacher! What do you teach and how did you get into macrame art?

A. I am a 37 year old working wife and mother of two. By day I am an educator working at a university and I am also passionate about equity in education. I have a Bachelors from Cal Poly Pomona and a Master’s from USC. I love my career! And I love that I have found a hobby/business that I am also passionate about! Macrame is a part of my self-care routine. It is calming and meditative, and I believe it has positively impacted my mental health.

Q. Your work is gorgeous and speaks for itself… but how have you found success on social media?

A. I am known for my focus on the process of creating rather than the outcome. I am also known for creating at a slow, intentional pace, made for the love of craft and the outdoors. I am inspired by nature, trees and rainbows are my bread and butter. I think people enjoy watching me enjoy the process of creating. Creating videos or reels is another way that I creativity express myself. I enjoy compiling videos to provide my audience with a snapshot of what went into creating my pieces. I think this provides an opportunity for the audience to appreciate the work that it takes to create. Luckily, the algorithm also loves videos, and this is what has largely contributed to my growth.
I have had the opportunity to speak on podcasts and a few interviews. I also had an article written about me in a craft magazine!

Q. Tell us more about your process and how you conceptualize and execute your vision.

A. I enjoy collaborating with clients to understand style vibe and interests. Once colors are chosen, I typically work nights and weekends to create. I prefer not to recreate past pieces exactly, so I am intentional about making each piece unique. My hope is that collectors of my art will feel the intention, love and soul poured into each piece.

Q. Did you find isolation and time at home over the last two years to be detrimental to your work or indusive of creativity?

A. Honestly, The pandemic was when I discovered my love and artistry that is macramé. I grew up with very creative and talented siblings and family members. However, I never considered myself to be creative before discovering macrame. As a wife and mother, my time is limited, but none the less I have always desired a crafty hobby. I finally had time during the pandemic to really learn the craft. It started as a hobby I could teach myself, watching YouTube videos. Each piece I created was a gift, not just an actual gift to give someone, but an opportunity for me to express my appreciation for my loved ones. This art is truly from my soul, creating nourishes my mind, heart and spirit. The time at home gave me a chance to discover and really dive into the craft world. I am grateful because in so many aspects it has been a very tough time in life, however, my love of macrame has been a silver lining.

Q. Any words of wisdom for people who might love creating macrame but don’t know how to make it into a business?

A. Don’t compare your day one to someone else’s day 100. Experiment, take risks, try new mediums. This is how you find your own unique voice within art. Be inspired, but don’t copy.

You don’t have to be alone on your maker journey. Each craft has a community and network, take advantage of it! Finding a community has helped build my confidence, find my niche and develop my craft. The encouragement and collective resources are priceless.

Give yourself grace when it comes to pushing through a project or permission to step away. Your emotional state can affect or be affected through the process of creating, and it’s okay to allow some breathing room if you are struggling. Take a walk outside, listen to some music, do something that makes you smile, or cry, and then come back refreshed.