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Meet Alina Freno! Alina is from Romania but has lived in Kamloops for 14 years. She is a passionate and artistic woman who loves hiking or heading to the seaside.
Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kamloops?
I am from Onesti, Romania. Same town as Nadia Comaneci. I've lived in Kamloops for 14 years.
Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
My family. Collectively to build those happy memories and individually for one-one-ones.
What is your favourite local store in Kamloops and why?
The Art We Are Cafe. I've always felt reverence for art so when I discovered this place I was filled with exhilaration. It's amazing not only to get to see local art but to discover there is an artistic and intellectual community here in town.
Describe yourself in one word.
My friends say "passionate," my family says "artistic," my customers say "talented," I say "limitless."
If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
Romanian seaside. I'd like to be walking towards the beach and suddenly catch a glance of the Black Sea. It takes me by surprise every time and makes me gasp in amazement. I love sinking my feet in the sand, collecting shells and tasting the local crepes.
What is your favourite activity in Kamloops?
Hiking and finding pretty rocks.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
I don't really get embarrassed by situations but looking at the first pendants I made I sometimes feel sorry for the rocks. Then I rewrap them.
What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
In grade 12 I was browsing the TV channels one night and I had to stop at a channel named Mezzo because I heard the most beautiful sound. I had never been a huge fan of classical music but the sound of that violin moved me to tears (it was Paganini's Caprice No.24). It was then that I realized that human beings can create beauty that can elevate the soul.
Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
There are several but, in a sense, they're all one. Watching the city lights in the distance from my grandparents' village, the Christmas tree in a dark room, nightlights in a park. I think they all filled me with a sense of wonder and mystery and I've cultivated that later in life and in my art. You'll see lots of bright stones in dark colors in my jewelry, Labradorite in Antique patina Copper is one of my favorites.
Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
Fundraising dinners, Food Bank, school programs, donating blood, Royal Inland, RMHC, around Christmas we like to get something off BC Wildlife Park's Amazon wishlist and we've helped single moms collect resources to get started on the road to parenthood.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
I think all the bad things happening in the world - war, cancer, accelerated global warming, etc are caused by the way we live and our selfishness and greed and to change those things you'd have to change the people. So I'll say selfishness, I guess you could say greed derives from that.
Where would you sneak away to in Kamloops to spend some time alone?
My studio. It's my happy place. Before I started making jewelry I would sneak away to Riverside park with a book, the last one was Virginia Woolf's "The Waves."
Where would you like to see positive change in Kamloops and why?
I'd love to stop finding needles in the grass in kids parks, it would be great if we could have a maintenance program for that. Patrolling at night, cleaning in the morning. Because it's an ongoing issue that unfortunately seems to be getting worse.
What do you think makes Kamloops great?
I think the cooler seasons fit this town well. It's beautiful on foggy and snowy days and the foliage is charming.
What are 3 things on your bucket list?
I don't have a bucket list... I don't know how long I am going to live, plus I can go anywhere or be anything at any time in my imagination. I rarely want something but when I set a goal I make sure it's realistic to where I am financially (I can't think of anything else being able to impede me, there are no bounds to my passion and determination) and then I start working towards achieving it. I've never wanted something and not gotten it, but I've regretted getting some of those things. Oddly enough though when I draw the line there are absolutely no regrets.
Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I love incense sticks but I never burn them, I am straight edge because I found that any kind of narcotic enslaved me and I love my freedom (I include soap operas, game apps etc in there too), 99% of my designs are freestyle, I go where the stone guides me.
What is the name of your business/organization?
Why did you get into/start this business?
My husband is a rock hound and one day started a bin he labeled "jewelry for the girls." I took that as a subtle hint. Later, our friend Lorelei showed me how to make gem trees, even gave me lots of pretty rocks and suggested I tried wire wrapping.
What is the goal of your business?
To bring beauty into people's lives, to help their vision be manifested into reality for custom orders, to showcase local stones. Also, catharsis through art both for myself and my customers.
What has been your biggest struggle either at work or in life?
Keeping my desk and studio organized. I rarely work on just one project at once because ideas tend to succeed each other in rapid procession and I don't want to let them get away. Or sometimes a piece is so special that it sits on my desk for months.
What do you always find yourself saying?
Magic. But not in a pagan, necromancing or illusionist way. I always thought our world is how we make it and I choose to veil mine in beauty and mystery that I call Magic.
Tell us your best piece of life advice.
Life is like a Casino Voucher. You have it, so you might as well spend it and see what follows because it's going to run out eventually. I came up with this when I was trying to elevate someone's spirits and it helped.
If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
It would be a tie between my mom and my brother, I miss them. I am not going to choose anybody that's an inspiration to me because I would probably get too nervous and mess it up. I'd try to tell them how much I admire them, to ask for advice and to expose some of my most revolutionary ideas all at once, all the while thinking there is someone I look up to and can relate to standing next to me, and all that will come out would be an awkward babble. Or I'd be so busy conversing with them in my head that I'd completely ignore them.
Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
Strengthening the local economy. When you buy, you have to ask yourself who do you want to support: a big corporation or a local artisan that puts their heart and soul into their work.
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Being accepted into an international jewelry competition after less than one year or wire wrapping!
Give someone you think that deserves it a shout out and explain why!
Uri Freno, he has always supported me. He collected, tumbled, cut, polished and faceted part of my stones, encouraged me to start a business, gave it a name, made my business cards and gave me business advice, built a rock faceting machine and shot my photos.
My choice for the KamloopsBCNow In Focus spotlight is:
Uri Freno, my multitalented husband.
Some general comments I would like to share are:
Thank you, Kamloops Now and In Focus for giving me a voice and allowing me to introduce my work and my world to the local community. I am also excited to have discovered lots of other local businesses through you guys that I would love to support. I love creating wearable art because I can finally manifest concepts and ideas that have been in my mind for a while and needed more than words to be expressed. Everything in natural stone and pure metal piece of jewelry is so powerful and meaningful in itself so my customers have got to wear a unique talisman that can be customized to their needs at an affordable price.
We encourage you to leave your comments and words of support below and submit your own nomination by clicking HERE. You are also welcome to submit a form of your own by clicking HERE. Thank you, Kamloops.
In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition of the people, businesses, and organizations that help make our city great!