ZEN AND THE SERENDIPITOUS ART OF FINDING YOUR BLISS
There’s a coziness factor that’s unmistakable. On this particular afternoon, it’s evoked by the pleasing smell of burning wood and the sense that there is no earthly need to hurry.
Around a long table, some people are planting succulents, others stenciling an “intention word” onto boxes before moving on to wood burning.
Jayme (Miller) Sanders ’04 (BA) is serene as she interacts with a few dozen members of a corporate human resources team. She chats with one for a moment, then kneels beside another who’s tracing her stencil with the glowing wood burning tool. While the various words are simple, they’re deeply personal: Thrive. Wonder. Vibrant. Blessed. Warrior.
Sanders is in her element. She loves working with her hands, and has given a lot of thought to how now, in particular, people crave tactile sensations.
“Tech has hurt us in a lot of ways,” she says, after attendees have scattered, each cradling their own personalized succulent box. “When we make something with our hands — even if it’s not perfect — we’re proud, because we made it.”
That’s the point of Mint Studio, which offers workshops, retreats, experiential outings and more. Lately, Sanders is getting a lot of work from organizations seeking team-building experiences for their employees. “They get how important it is to invest in their people and for them to have connection time away from the needs of the office,” she says.
Making art has been a part of Sanders’ life since she was a little girl. “I spent every summer crafting and doing art with my grandmother. She really loved every kind of art.” Those memories still resonate. “When you spend time with someone making something, you form deeper memories.”
Her path to the University of San Diego was serendipitous. “I accidentally logged into USD’s website when I had been looking for UCSD’s site,” she says with a melodic laugh. “I saw that it was Catholic and decided to visit campus.” After a tour, she was convinced USD was the place for her.
After graduation, Sanders — who earned her degree in molecular biology — had assumed she’d go directly to med school. “There was a transformational moment when I’d gotten my MCAT scores, and I thought, ‘Now I can go to whatever med school I want to. Why do I not feel happy?’” One of her mentors, Father J.J. O’Leary, met her for coffee to help her navigate which fork in the road to take.
“He talked about paying attention to where your heart is drawn.” She worked in a lab for a time, but unfulfilled, transitioned to the world of finance, ultimately ru
nning her own company. Along the way, she married and started a family.
“Things got busy with our three kids, so I stayed home with them until our youngest started kindergarten.” She’d given considerable thought to what would come next. “Joseph Campbell’s message about following your bliss really rang true to me. You’re always going to be pulled back to what you loved as a child, and for me, that was art.”
Mint Studio was born, which has a storefront in Carlsbad. The space was deliberately designed to be laidback and inviting. “I don’t want people to think it’s too pretty to get messy in,” she says. “This is a place to create and spill paint on the floor.” Mint is now expanding to places like San Francisco, New York and Florida, with a corresponding expansion of creatives, makers and artists who make up the Mint Collective.
“We’re expanding our reach internationally, with a special focus on preserving and protecting these regions’ culture and history,” she explains.
Closer to home, Sanders is thrilled to bring her offerings to USD’s campus community; she’s worked with the Torero Program Board for years to provide experiences for students on campus. “It feels really good to have the university’s support. It’s like family, really. People who have your back, and are really rooting for you.” — Julene Snyder