Amy Cherie & DJ Neff in his 1961 Ford Econoline Van, check out the before & after pictures on


"The Collaborator" 

As long as I can remember I have been drawn to collaborating with others. I like the idea of co-creating. Karen Ray (author of The Nimble Collaboration) describes collaboration as a "mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship entered into by two or more [persons] to achieve results they are more likely to achieve together, than alone". What inspires me is not a singular vision, but the kinetic energy generated by a creative group of innovators. The potential is limitless; the outcomes are grand. Knowing my need and desire to collaborate with others, I struggled with the 9 to 5 grind as Sr. Project Manager in advertising, not quite fitting into the business world and really not knowing why. And then one day it hit me- the "alpha leader mentality" was destroying my spirit. Rather than creating, we were competing. For me, it was simple- "exit stage left" and find like-minded people. I found my happiness in the design community. My passion is taking an idea, mine or someone else, and making it happen.  

I jumped into the furniture design industry in 2012 with no prior experience. What I did have is a long history of love for interior design and housewares. Not only was I able to explore the craft, I landed in a community that shared my point of view. My collaborative point of view. From that moment forward, I knew I was home.

In 2014, I partnered with Woven Accents to host the closing party for the LA Design Festival which featured 6 pieces of furniture that was built using concrete, reclaimed wood and metal. Working with concrete and welding was new and exciting. That evening turned into one of the best nights of my life. 

Fast forward to 2015 and ta da! I opened a retail space and working art studio with my partner in crime and love of my life, DJ Neff. Together, we renovated his building and opened M.V.A.D which stands for Mar Vista Art Dept. The Art Department is a place where artists work, create and showcase their ideas. We've built a variety of artwork, products and installations for clients around the world. We host workshops like woodworking 101, Adobe Life and how to brew your own beer. There's a little something for everyone at M.V.A.D. The retail space is curated for the love of everything handmade. We cherish the story behind the maker and the product because we are those artisans. 

And so it continues, my love of collaboration and the energy it brings is still what makes my life magical.

Photo Credit: Richard Fusillo