Welcome, all Makers of Crafts and Lovers of Paper!

Maria About Page Headshot


My name is Maria Abrenica, and I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. For over 30 years, I worked in advertising and marketing as a graphic designer and art director.

So how did I find myself here, doing an online magazine?

Art and design have always been passions of mine, but I also spent them in the most fast-paced, corporate, and competitive environments. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. In the same way, I could not imagine myself not being a mom.

I have one daughter, Francesca, and she grew up in all the ad agencies I worked in. As a child, she would keep herself busy drawing next to me or watching After Dark screensavers. Art and design was something we shared, and both love. After she graduated from art school and eventually moved to Europe, I felt a void. Before she left, she once asked me what I would like to do with the rest of my time (or life, for that matter), and honestly, I didn’t exactly have an answer (lol!). There was an emptiness when my daughter and best friend left. However, from a different point-of-view, my life was this big, blank canvas waiting to be filled with new colors–in bold yet unfamiliar strokes.

My daughter once asked me what I would like  to do
with the rest of my time (or life) after she leaves, and honestly,
I didn’t exactly have an asnwer…

Maria and Daughter FrancescaIn the fall of 2018, I gave up the security of the 9-5 and ventured into the next chapter of my life. Today, I am still a graphic designer, although I no longer work at a corporate office. I joined my fiance, Rodney, at his web design agency, and we both work from our home in sunny Southern California.

There was a time when I commuted 100 miles each day to work and sat through traffic for two hours, so then you can imagine–walking a few steps from the bedroom to my desk at the start of each day is certainly a welcome treat. No more manic Mondays. 

As a little girl, I’ve always worked on something creative. I would either draw pictures on newspaper or make my own paper dolls and dresses. I would craft mini-notebooks from cut-out copy paper and bind them with a stapler (my hands were too small at six years old, so I had to make a ball with one fist to pound on the stapler if I need to bind something ~ lol!). I also had a fascination for old houses and vintage artifacts and always wondered about their history and the people who owned them.

Marias 1967 Smith Corona Sterling TypewriterIn 2017, I bought a 1967 Smith Corona Sterling typewriter. That’s when I rediscovered writing, paper crafting, and the love for analog. For someone who works on computers all day, this was a retreat. It’s nice to design on your desktop; still, there’s something about creating and tinkering with your bare hands that’s especially fulfilling.

Later that year, I finally created my Instagram account, now @lovebijou.co. I was certainly late to the game, but I was immediately blown away by the wildly talented and generous crafting community. I’ve always had this love for stationery and creating from materials that others might typically see as junk. I was happy and contented, but pretty much alone in that ‘world.’ I was so thrilled to find others out there who are–yes– just like me! (seriously, I was living under a rock before IG. ~ lol!)

A Corner of Marias Craft StudioIn this community, I’ve found the most talented and uplifting people from different parts of the country and worldwide, from many different backgrounds, each with their unique artistic styles.

It’s been a fantastic journey! Some of you have become my friends who would share ideas, tips, how-to’s, and, yes, even a sweet hello or a note of encouragement that moved me to design and create with my hands more than ever. This time it’s the calm and soothing kind. Now imagine if we can spread this joy around.

…how can I help support this growing circle
of friends who have been so kind and inspiring to me?
And so here we are.

I asked myself, with my background and passion for crafting and all things handmade, how can I be active and help support this growing circle of creative friends who have been so kind and inspiring to me?

And so here we are. Love for Handmade is born!

We are an online magazine–a kind and giving space.  My vision is to grow our community of crafters, makers, and lovers of papers by featuring the most inspiring people, places, ideas, and things. We are passionate about nostalgia, vintage, and old school. We love to make and create from what looks like nothing, to something. 

And in the process, we nurture our creativity and relationships with those we share this passion with. If these sound like you, you’re in the right place!

Welcome to Love for Handmade, my happy, crafty space. I hope it will be yours too.