Following Serendipity

You know those magic moments in life, when serendipity or synchronicities abound and you feel all the feels?  When you feel in your bones that you are on the right path, without knowing why or how.  The path to creating AltaHandcrafted.com feels just like that, like a flowing dreamlike adventure leading me to create this site.  It all began two months ago when I started doing an online search to discover more about my family’s long history in California.  A few days later during a July heatwave I sat down to watch the film Coco for the first time with my two sons and husband.  While I was watching the movie, I got chills thinking about how I had just been looking up my ancestral history a few days prior, and that I felt drawn to their stories like never before.  If you haven’t seen Coco, it’s about a boy named Miguel who meets his ancestors in the Land of the Dead on the evening of Dia de los Muertos, and learns how important it is to remember and preserve his ancestors history.  That evening, more compelled than ever to recall my ancestors history, I contacted my cousin Reggie who has spent the last ten years researching our family’s history in California.  Reggie sent me a number of newspaper clippings, photos, and stories of his discoveries.  A few weeks later I posted a photograph of my 2nd great grandmother to my Instagram Stories with the hashtag #californios.  Now a little backstory before I tell the next part of this tale.  A few months prior to this I’d written out a short list of items I wished to manifest.  One being the perfect Ranch hat.  I’d tried on many hats, and followed some hat brands on Instagram, but had yet to find THE hat.  I knew I would find it and I knew what it would look like.  When I searched #californio on Instagram, I came across a post by El Rancho Carpintero, a brand of custom hand shaped Sombreros made by ninth generation native Californian, Justin Carpenter.  There was THE HAT!  I contacted Justin on Instagram immediately, introducing myself as a descendent of Agustin Olvera and asked about the process of having a hat made.  We discussed some different possibilities of meeting up and I mentioned that I may want to record our meeting, as stories were beginning to take shape with this new found desire to trace my family’s history in California and our connection seemed to be such a kismet event.  None of our July meetings were meant to be, and since Justin was preparing to be on the road for most of August we agreed to meet upon his return.  During this time the idea for AltaHandcrafted.com took shape and it became clear that he was meant to be the first Featured Artisan on AltaHandcrafted.com.  Read about Justin and his incredible sombreros, here.

Amanda Savin Gries of Alta Handcrafted and Justin Carpenter of El Rancho Carpintero at Mission San Fernando

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