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Conversations with Iona Parris

Today we’d like to introduce you to Iona Parris. 

Hi Iona, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
It all started in 2009 in Valdosta Georgia, when I was in the United States Air Force at the time. I had just come back from my first deployment in Kuwait. I was happy to be back home, but struggling with PTSD. I needed an outlet to cope with having had been gone so long and trying to adjust with being back at home. One day I was at home and saw some seashells on my desk I had collected from a beach trip I took a while ago. I got out nail polish and started painting them different colors. I realized how relaxed it made me feel when I was painting the seashells. I loved the different shapes and sizes of the shells. I loved making them look even more beautiful than they already were. I eventually started showcasing my seashell artwork to family and friends who encouraged me to continue to make more pieces and start my seashell business. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Many people don’t look at seashell art as actual art. A lot of times people tell me my stuff is very novelty and should be in a beach store, even though I looked at my shell art as something I would love to see in a fine art gallery. I also struggle with a lot of social anxiety so it was very hard for me to show people what I love to do, so when someone minimizes how you feel about your own artwork you tend to second guess yourself, and a lot of times, I never thought what I would I was doing was anything special. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I make seashell art, crowns, jewelry, and home decor. Online I’m known as “Iona Parris the Seashell Queen”, because of my obsession with seashells and my mermaid lifestyle. I most proud of my Millionaire Conched Collections, they took me a very long time to make but I’m very proud of how beautiful they are. 

We love surprises, fun facts, and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
One thing that people may not know about me is that I literally think about seashells every single second of the day to the point where I have dreams about seashells and where to find the next ones. It really is a crazy obsession for me. 

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