The Florida Times-Union
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “The Garden Journey” is a luxury tarot deck with botanical artwork and hand-marbled textures which has been recognized by Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, Goop.
A Jacksonville designer is being recognized nationally for her latest endeavor.
When Natalie Soud, a local creative director and artist, left a stable job in marketing to pursue a new creative project with her friend, Joanne Yun, the duo didn’t know where things would lead.
But less than a year since launching their product, The Garden Journey — a luxury tarot deck with botanical artwork and hand-marbled textures — has been recognized by Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, Goop.
The recognition is significant. A slot in the Goop shop is understood as the seal of approval from Paltrow herself and reserved for only the most unique products. Currently, the ‘Desk & Games’ category, which The Garden Journey falls under, lists about 80 products in total, ranging from a $300 desk clock or $50 brass key chains to a $1,900 rose quartz checkers set. The Garden Journey is listed for $95.
“It’s certainly surreal to see The Garden Journey on Goop.com,” Soud said. “With their sought-after curation of products, many from other small businesses we admire, we’re in such excellent company.”
The product has also been featured in Blumenhaus Magazine, a newer art and botanical-focused magazine that has created buzz within the art community.
What is the Garden Journey?
Soud and Yun describe The Garden Journey as a modernized tarot card deck, that uses Yun’s watercolored illustrations of flowers and plants to represent traditional themes. It’s described as “what you get when you combine tarot with the special language of flowers.”
“At its heart, The Garden Journey is a 22-card tarot deck designed for inward reflection,” Soud said. “We designed it to serve as a tool for self-reflection, which we think all of us can benefit from, especially these days.”
Each card deck is packaged within a keepsake jade cloth-lined clamshell box with lavender purple accents, a wax seal, satin ribbon and a guidebook to walk users through the card-pulling process.
“The Garden Journey is also meant to be an object of beauty — as much a conversation piece and curio as it is for self-care,” she added. “You can draw the cards and lay them out into spreads to undertake a ritual of reflection, or you can choose a specific card that’s really resonating with you and place it in a prominent place in your environment to bring its energy to your day-to-day.”
The cards and related packaging are all produced by manufacturers in the United States and are FSC Chain of Custody Certified in an effort to ensure the production is environmentally sustainable.
“In terms of supply chain, ‘oof,'” she said. “We learned the hard way that producing a paper product during a never-before-seen paper shortage will result in more than a few gray hairs.”
Soud said the duo was able to avoid the worst of the supply chain hangups because they worked with U.S.-based producers that focus on sustainability.
Who is Natalie Soud?
Soud, 37, was born and raised in Jacksonville and says she continues to feel “deeply connected” to the city and its potential.
Her maternal grandfather was an entrepreneur who worked downtown and stayed civically involved.
“I think of him often because at the beginning of his career, he was a small business owner,” Soud said. “[He was] scrappy and savvy, yet known for his integrity.”
On her dad’s side, family members emigrated from Lebanon and have been in the city since the early 1900s — two were even aboard the Titanic and rescued by the Carpathia.
Soud’s parents both taught at The Bolles School, which she and her brothers attended. Art wasn’t even on Soud’s radar as a career until adulthood. But she credits one teacher for building a foundation and appreciation for art.
“Because I wasn’t a fine artist, and that was really all I was aware of in terms of how to pursue a creative career, I never really considered doing creative work until much later in life,” she said. “I was lucky enough to be taught AP Art History by Cindy Edelman, a gifted educator whose passion for art truly ignited the same in her students. Things I learned in her class still influence me in my design work today.”
Soud and her husband welcomed their first child in the middle of the two years she and Yun spent working on The Garden Journey.
Working on The Garden Journey in quarantine
The idea to produce The Garden Journey came about during the height of the pandemic. The focus on Zoom-calls and lack of in-person meetings made Soud and Yun’s business partnership from different states easier.
Soud lives in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Jacksonville while her business partner is based out of New York City.
The pair met during a 2019 illustration class in New York, where Natalie lived during most of her twenties, before moving back to Duval County.
“We were both in the process of leaving the corporate world and pursuing more creative work, so we were kindred spirits,” she said. “We kept in touch very casually until we finally met up for a happy hour in the spring of 2019 — the evening when we sowed the first seeds of what would become The Garden Journey.”
They collaborated remotely over the course of two years.
“Jo and I definitely miss seeing each other in person, but we manage to make it work with weekly meetings, frequent texts and emails, and an Asana board that [she] created,” Soud said.
Soud said this isn’t the last you’ll hear from The Garden Journey.
“Our plan is to continue developing new treasures that will complement The Garden Journey deck, as well as to collaborate with creators and friends who share their spirit,” she said.
In the meantime, she hopes her and Yun’s endeavor will inspire other creatives to embark on new projects.
“If you’re not in a creative field yet, but you want to be, take heart: you don’t need to start in a creative field, or even have an art or design degree, to pursue creative work,” she said. “I made a huge career transition into this field in my 29th and 30th years and have never once looked back or regretted it.”
Soud also scoffs at advice telling creatives they need to specialize in one niche area.
“I just don’t work that way,” she said. “I’m a multi-passionate person and think it’s time we toss out the narrative that you need to focus on just one thing. Some people are more suited for that, and others really shine when they can bring learnings from one area into another. Those unexpected overlaps often result in the most interesting observations. If that’s you, too, you’re not alone.”
The Garden Journey retails for $95 and is available directly through the creators’ website, www.takethegardenjourney.com or on Goop, goop.com/the-garden-journey/c/
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.