It’s been said that big things come in small packages; but for 17-year-old Natalie Savaso, they come in the tiniest ones.
Natalie’s new company, Tiny World Art, was born from a happy accident in the sixth grade when, after watching Polymer clay instructional YouTube videos, she tried to mold a strawberry, only to discover it resembled a squished heart. ‘There’s something so unpredictably beautiful in this tiny blob of clay,’ she thought. The little things had always brought her joy, and the misshapen heart embodied her philosophy that much love and joy could be found in the simplest, most seemingly mundane things.
Fast forward four years, and, with the full support of her parents, Natalie has wrapped her philosophy in some art and clay – and transformed it into a purpose-driven business. Today, Tiny World Art is lifting people’s spirits, one canvas drawing or sticker at a time. The positive messages are served in small doses of simple illustrations, composed of stick figures and thought bubbles, with a nod to life’s little moments.
Natalie’s positive perspective is a bit ironic, however, given her health status: She has been bedridden this past year due to ongoing chronic illnesses (yes, plural). At age 14, her body had stopped digesting food properly, her circulation was off, causing blood to pool in her hands, legs and feet, and she had begun involuntary seizure-like movements. The next few years were filled with doctor and hospital visits, searching for answers, and hoping to ease chronic pain. Meanwhile, trying to manage the physical and emotional stress from it all, she was trying to keep up with high school, eventually confined to bed most of her junior and now senior year.
The diagnosis: Dysautonomia, POTS, Gastroparesis, Myoclonus, and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). “Each of these diagnoses alone would be devastating, but to have several rare conditions was sometimes more than I could get my head around,” she says.
But Natalie has been able to find beauty from the pain—and is paying that positive perspective forward through some art and a whole lot of tenacity. “With everything I have gone through, I have learned how to appreciate the little things that bring me joy in everyday life and to thank God for being with me,” she says. “My friends and family who’ve stuck by me through this made all the difference. Their little gestures of love kept me going. My hope for Tiny World Art is to spread love and bring people joy, laughter, and smiles. It’s a small gift that will hopefully have a big impact on the people who receive it.”
Those people include her parents who have helped Natalie apply for a business license, find a box design company, build a website and navigate the challenges of starting a business from her Southern California bedroom in the shadows of COVID-19.
“We supported Natalie’s passion and believed in her purpose and potential—and we gave her the creative freedom to explore it,” her mother, Chandra, also an artist, says. “Sometimes Natalie’s pain is so bad she cannot get up to visit the restroom. But she’ll move from her bed to her desk to work on her tiny world. This business brings her joy, and it’s been a godsend for us all.”
Natalie’s long-term plans to make Tiny World Art just a bit less tiny include adding to her inventory with mugs, shirts, hats, even greeting cards, as well as eventually employing her parents and her brother. Her tiny (big!) vision: “I want to create a place where people everywhere can experience more moments of joy throughout their day—just with the little things.”
It seems that at the center of Tiny World Art is a young entrepreneur with big dreams, and an even bigger heart.