Being able to personally share “Hearts of Armenia” with my San Francisco community yesterday was so exciting and such an honor. I’m thankful for everyone who made it out, and bought books for themselves and as Christmas presents! For those who couldn’t come, here are my favorite photos from the day. I also want to thank my parents for opening up their home and hosting a lovely day filled with amazing people, Nanor Darakjian for making the beautiful yeragooyn heart-shaped cookies (and everyone else who brought goodies with them), and AIWA-SF/Christine Soussa for their support and all the wine!
An LA launch party is in the works for early January, but in the meantime, you can pick up your copy at heartsofarmenia.com.
Back in April, when I had just arrived in Armenia and spotted my first heart (a heart-shaped leaf I stumbled upon as I was walking through the Hraparak with my shiny new Converse sneakers), “Hearts of Armenia” was just a crazy dream. But with each new heart I captured throughout my stay there — over 180 from April through October — it became clear that idea might actually become reality. Now, eight months later, I’m so happy to be able to hold my book and share it with everyone I love!
Along with photos of 87 of the best hearts I discovered, “Hearts of Armenia” also includes inspirational quotes about love within its 48 pages. It’s made for everyone who loves and even includes hearts that will speak to children. The best part is that half of proceeds of the book will help our Armenian sisters at the Women’s Support Center of Yerevan! So without further ado, buy your copy here. Note: to get it before Christmas, be sure to place your order this week (regular and rush shipping are available). Thanks for all the love and support! ❤
I recently reconnected with an old AYF friend I hadn’t seen for close to a decade, Vazrik Shahoumyan, who just launched his own podcast called Intergalactic Expedition, which “provides inspiration for all to follow their passions by featuring people who are living out their dreams.” After catching up on life, “Hearts of Armenia” came up and he asked me to come on the show to talk about it. And then here’s what happened. We ended up chatting about how the book came about (both the inspiration and the technical process), my 6-month stay in Armenia, and more.
(Of course, no Armenian podcast is complete without Armenian coffee!)
It was definitely an interesting experience being part of a podcast and not as easy as I thought. I have no problem yapping for hours with friends, but it turns out it’s kind of awkward talking about yourself when you’re being recorded and then having to listen to your recorded voice on top of it! But after Vazrik worked his magic with editing, it turned out pretty good. Hope you enjoy.
The day “Hearts of Armenia” was born (aka done printing in Yerevan), a fellow Armenian and friend whose love for our Motherland also runs deep, Vaché Thomassian, simultaneously launched an inspirational project: WithLove.am. It’s a seasonal gift box filled entirely of unique items made in Armenia. Bonus: you get to keep the beautiful wooden box made by Nuri Design, too. Its proceeds will directly benefit Sosé and Allen’s Legacy Foundation, founded by Vaché after his sister Sosé and her husband Allen died tragically in a car accident while traveling from Yerevan, Armenia to Tbilisi, Georgia for a weekend getaway in May of 2013. Sosé and I had met up for dinner in LA a few months before she and Allen moved to Armenia, and were planning on seeing each other there during my trip in the summer of 2013, but sadly that never happened 😦 I love that Vaché took something so sad and turned it into something so uplifting, by continuing Sosé and Allen’s dream of doing good in Armenia. ❤
The WithLove Box includes an adorable bow tie by Bow-X, one jar of 100% raw honey by Honey.am, a soap bar made from 99% organic goat’s milk by Verde Pharm, a cool brass ring by Yereqnuk Handicrafts, and an adjustable leather bracelet made by Shaganak. Buy your limited-edition Box today to get it before Christmas.
(Allen & Sosé)
Seven months after conceiving the idea of “Hearts of Armenia” at the end of April during my time in Yerevan — and after many creative brainstorms with Jarakite Creative Partners in Yerevan — the first batch of books has finally been published at Asoghik Publishing House! I’m sad that I can’t see them in person until they arrive to the states in a few weeks BUT my brother Garen sent me a few photos this morning.
Along with launch events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Yerevan, and Boston (details TBD), the books will be sold online soon. Stay tuned for details. If you’re in Armenia and would like to purchase one, please email my brother at firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate.
I’m overwhelmed by the love and support, and hope you enjoy “Hearts of Armenia” as much as I loved every single step of the the journey in bringing it to life. Not only was this a chance to tap into my creativity and help spread the message of love and beauty even in the ugliest of times, it’s also blessing to be able to work with AIWA-SF and do something small for our Armenian sisters at the Women’s Support Center in Yerevan. ❤
It’s funny, I got to Armenia a week after the Kardashians left in April and left a week before Conan O’Brien arrived in October. I’m sad I missed the celebrity spottings (especially Kanye’s epic Karap Lich moment that nearly broke the internet) but the next best thing was attending a screening for “Conan in Armenia” at his studios in Burbank (thanks to my friend Noushig, who entered a contest and answered all the questions correctly).
I don’t want to give away too much of the episode — which airs on Tuesday, November 17 on TBS — but it’s definitely one to watch. Naturally it has many hilarious moments, but it also has a serious side that might make you tear up. Basically, Conan is on a mission to take his Armenian assistant Sona to her Motherland for the first time, and he’s tasked to bring back a few things for her family: cognac, a rug, dried apricots, a painting, and a groom for Sona. Most things he delivers, one he doesn’t (can you guess which one?!). At the end of the screening, Conan shared what he loved about Armenia, which is what most people say when they visit for the first time: the warmth of the people, the adorable children, and the beautiful women (sorry guys). Here are a few photos from the night:
(Conan setting up the scenes for the crowd; he’s really tall)
(At the end of the show, he brought out his assistant Sona)
(Conan served Armenian appetizers/desserts before the show)
(Hanging out with a huge Conan bobblehead in the parking lot)
“Hearts of Armenia” is being printed at Asoghik Publishing House in Yerevan as I type this and will arrive to the States in just a few weeks! I’m beyond excited to share the cover art, which I worked on with the guys at Jarakite Creative Partners in Yerevan. I had originally thought we would take my favorite heart and use it as the cover, but one of Jarakite’s owners Aramazt Kalayjian (side note: he’s also a filmmaker; check out his work) suggested we use words instead to give it a unique spin. After throwing out a variety of ideas, we decided to take the most meaningful text from my foreword and use that. Finally, after playing around with different color options, we decided to go with red, blue, and orange (in darker, more subdued tones) for obvious reasons. So here it is! I hope you like.