In Lanna's words, “Life is much like a natural phenomenon to many who live here on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Canada.” It has been said by locals here that this is the exact spot where the ocean meets the rainforest! Inspiration takes hold.
Diagnosed with C-PTSD, clinical depression, anxiety, and migraine headaches due to childhood trauma and many hardships life threw at her. Lanna knew all too well that she had to pave her own path. She is the eldest sibling of four who grew up during the 1960s and 1970s with a family who lived in poor conditions due to a lack of financial resources, community support, basic life skills, and very limited paternal and maternal nurturing. Her siblings, whom she has great admiration for, had suffered frequent heartache, chaos, and lack of stability or support, yet they still move forward in the most positive light they can find in their path. The ability of her parents to nurture their children or guide them appropriately due to mental health challenges proved difficult for all involved. Yet, she still has empathy and awareness in her heart.
From a very young age, Lanna's mission in life has been focused on advocacy, and Paying It Forward, as she puts it.
As Lanna had left her family home a conflicted runaway just before her 15th birthday, she had survived a multitude of dangers, such as being sexually assaulted multiple times by a close friend's father when she was just 14 years old. Another dangerous and heartbreaking situation was losing a young friend to alcohol poisoning at 14 as Lanna attempted to revive her at an outdoor party. The most heartbreaking and dangerous experience was losing a friend who was sadly never heard from again after hitchhiking with her from Northern BC to Vancouver BC in the winter of the late 1970s. They were separated by Lanna accidentally getting on the wrong bus in Vancouver that was headed to the US. She frequently contemplated where her journey could have ended up or where her friend would be today. Sadly, there is no closure for the loss of her friend, and her friend's family still all wonder where she went or if she survived. Speculations of her disappearance from the police in recent years and evidence showed that some of her belongings, as well as DNA, were found at a Port Coquitlam pig farm, but has yet to lead to anything concrete. Lanna said, “This experience had taught her to be more cautious, empathetic, and to rely more on her instincts.”
Eventually, Lanna put herself through college to improve herself after an unfortunate arrest in her early 20s and briefly losing custody of her beloved daughter. A court Judge was merciful to her and let her choose her own outcome as a first time offender. Her mission at that point and time was to be an appropriate role model for her own daughter and to live a calm life. “ I want to Pay It Forward, as I have a lot of Karma to work through!” she stressed. She’s not saying she never made any more mistakes; on the contrary, she made many after this! She called it “ A roller coaster ride to self-improvement.”
Lanna spent over 3 decades working for nonprofits and spent many of those years also volunteering her free time helping those in need of resources.
Now at the age of 58, a happy and proud wife, mother and grandmother, who is the founder, creator and designer of Expressive Designs by Lanna. She feels her journey could open eyes for many who feel trapped or hopeless to move forward. Her husband and daughter are Lannas most dedicated supporters; she includes they are her cheering squad and have helped her remain focused these past few years. Her husband and herself have two elderly cats who have provided much comfort on those days when she felt like giving up. She is a grandmother to two amazing teens! She couldn’t be prouder of these two young humans. She feels with young people like her grandchildren emerging into adulthood, the future looks brighter, knowing there are more humans like these to lead us into our future!
What is it that you do for your clients?
I am a graphic designer, multimedia artist and blogger/writer. As well as a social media manager/Virtual Assistant, I’m also an advocate for vulnerable people of society. What I do as an artist is I paint and draw various natural subjects, like wildlife and nature. As well, I enjoy drawing humans and pets.
I can make prints for someone’s custom order or sell my own prints. As a graphic designer, I can make custom logos and web banners. Also, I design prints for T-shirts, accessories and gift items and have them shipped directly to my customers. I can do a custom design or sell my own designs on merchandise. As a social media manager/Virtual Assistant, I can help manage your social media accounts, write articles for your website, and write blog posts with SEO assistance; all Copyscape approved.
Who should hire/work with you?
Anyone who wants custom-designed merchandise, such as T-shirts, accessories, or home decor and poster/canvas prints, would benefit. Anyone who needs assistance with the virtual part of their business could save time by letting me do it for them.
What do you do as an advocate?
I am affiliated with a couple of nonprofits, raising awareness to the public and raising funds through sales in my store. One such nonprofit is an Autism Support Society called SASS. They are a family-run society in Sooke BC, Canada providing much-needed resources to families in need. For every item sold in the Autism Awareness Collection, $2 is donated to SASS. My hope is to raise enough funds to support families efficiently! I’m always open to accepting applications from other nonprofits, especially nonprofits who support mental health.
What is your big goal? Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
Now that is the question I’ve wanted to answer for so long! It’s interesting to admit that the answers are multileveled. If you had asked me this 30 years ago, I just would not have had a concrete answer how things change so much overtime with life experiences. One of my goals is to be completely independent in business. What I mean by that is to rely solely on my business with no outside financial assistance. I see myself retiring in the next couple of years from my job in public education, and to be financially secure by them while doing what I love, would be a dream come true!
Another goal is to have my business affiliated with several nonprofits. Paying It Forward is a very real focus for me!
Lastly, I’d like to be able to afford to one day employ people who are marginalized in society! Just because someone makes questionable choices at some point in their lives doesn’t mean they want to live that way. Most people, I believe, want to feel useful and have a purpose in life. I know it takes trust for people to accept help and for some to offer it. I have great instincts, especially now that I have trust in my own judgment and confidence to move forward. For myself, to Pay It Forward is the ultimate reward!