Adriana Goddard lives on an organic farm in Ojai, California. That’s where she lovingly handcrafts high-end bohemian jewellery under the name Love Heals. Her daughter, Elisa, oversees sales and makes sure Mom’s designs are hip enough for today’s fashionistas. Her son, Gunnar, is the visionary who’s taken the family business to a whole new level of success and social responsibility.
It’s an idyllic life—and one that’s a stark contrast to her turbulent days as a university student during the years leading up to Argentina’s Dirty War. As Goddard explains to the Straight by phone from her SoCal home studio, she’s lucky to have made it out alive.
“I had already gotten into serious trouble,” Goddard says. “I had been suspended from the university for one year.”¦Another time I was expelled, and this was for nothing. It was just for wanting to have a basic student rights of assembly like, ”˜Can we just get together and talk?’ But there was very serious repercussions for that—some of my friends were killed. And people at that time would disappear, and I had a feeling that leaving was a very good idea for my survival.”
That was in 1972. Goddard spent the next few years travelling around Europe selling her jewellery before settling down in the States, where she continued to design and sell her wares off and on for more than 20 years. Then in 2006, Gunnar offered to run her table at the local flea market so that she could have Mother’s Day off.
“He did so amazingly well,” she recalls. “There was such a warm response to the work, he just said, ”˜We really need to grow it.’ ”
Goddard admits that she was initially a little hesitant to take her son up on his offer, because it was a time in her life when many of her friends were gearing up for retirement. But in the end, the free-spirited 60-year-old decided to go for it.
“So that changed everything,” says Goddard, who credits her son with the international success of Love Heals. “It went from me making whatever piece that moved me at the time with whatever materials were left in the attic”¦to an organized business.”
They may have a better marketing system in place now, but the spirit of her soulful creations is still intact. So whether it’s a long mother-of-pearl Buddha necklace with silver charms ($595), filigree stone hook earrings ($175), or a delicately beaded silver-and-pink charm necklace ($495), you’ll find some sort of mystical message or symbolism tied into the design.
And with every piece of jewellery sold (the line is available at Blue Ruby [various locations] and www.loveheals.com), Love Heals will plant 10 trees.
“That was Gunnar again,” says his proud mother. “We’ve planted more than 300,000 trees, mostly in Ethiopia, and we have 70,000 seedlings that will be going into the ground.”¦One of our staff is going to be going regularly [to Ethiopia] in the fall because we want to document what’s going on and we’re really excited. That’s really one of the hearts of the business. It’s all really congruent with our lifestyle.”
While life for Goddard may be filled with peace and love these days, she’s quick to point out that running Love Heals (even on an organic farm in a remote part of California) is anything but an airy-fairy free ride.
“It’s a lot of work and we have a very small markup,” Goddard explains. “In order to survive in this economy, we’ve had to become very creative and cut our profit margin drastically. It’s not an easy thing to run a business right now,” she says, adding, “So the image of a laid-back California hippie just does not cut it.”