From her perch on her little island in the middle of the Pacific, Anna Claire Welch finishes off a flourishing tail on the final r in the words: For ever and ever.
Last May made a year since Baton Rouge native Welch stepped off the mainland, following a dream sparked by mission trips with her church, a year studying abroad, and her captivation at the way ohana felt. “From the very first trip with my church, I fell in love with Hawaii,” she says. “With the place and its people. I needed to find a way to live there.”
At the end of her junior year, she picked up an unexpected skill. “I never though of myself as an artist. But then this just kind of happened,” she says of her impressive calligraphy skills. “I love being able to express myself creatively.”
When visiting Oahu to see her boyfriend, Welch quickly impressed the island’s wedding planners with her portfolio, and began to form relationships with people in the island’s thriving wedding industry. “I realized I could have a career doing this here,” she says.
Today, Welch is a full-time calligrapher for Hawaiian brides-to-be, with her own business Anna Claire Calligraphy and Design. “I never expected my career to take off so fast,” she says. “There was a local calligrapher, but she had too much work and was turning people down. There was a two-month wait for her services.” Through her connections with wedding planners and strategic use of social media, she was able to get her name out and her schedule full within weeks of her arrival.
In addition to her local work, she often gets the opportunity to work for couples down here in the Red Stick. “Often people I know from home will commission me for work, but every now and then someone reaches out who just found me on social media or something,” she says. “That’s always really cool.”
Though she is (only a little) reluctant to call Oahu her forever home, Welch says that everyone on the island has started to feel like family. “The sense of community here is surprisingly similar to the South, south Louisiana in particular.”
When asked about what attracts her to the wedding industry, she has a similar answer, a similar attraction to relationships and community.
She says, “It’s the way that people love each other.”