Hart Cunningham
Owner
My heart says:
We will define our success at the end of the day based not on how many products we sell, but based on how many people we empower to change their purchasing decisions.
Favorite one-liner:
“Wherever you go, go there with all your heart.” ~Confucius

Hart Cunningham has nurtured a lifelong vision of sustained social empowerment. His interest in social causes, human rights and environmental issues has driven his desire to always achieve more. In youth, his vision expanded as he traveled Europe and Asia, living in places from Dominica to Nova Scotia, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. He saw that every culture possesses its own unique beauty and insights into the human spirit. All people share the universal desire to celebrate life, and art is the universal language of humanity which mirrors those values.

During his post graduate studies, Cunningham realized that philanthropy was long considered the charitable donations of businesses. Through his own personal prism, he saw another possibility: one that can be called entrepreneur-generated philanthropy. For him, this is neither an oxymoron, nor charity. Charity, however laudable and noble, is non-sustainable.

As Cunningham built many highly profitable global companies, achieving and surpassing multiple milestones, he never forgot his vision of sustainable social empowerment. A chance meeting with Stephanie Petro sparked an epiphany – the art of fashion is universal; every culture celebrates this form of art in its own way; and all people wear and create unique fashionable expressions.

Hearts is the culmination of all of Cunningham’s philanthropic and sustainability interests in a single movement that can support hundreds of charities and impact the lives of millions of people. The word philanthropy literally means ‘love of humanity’. True to this meaning, Cunningham created an entrepreneurship that empowers artisans globally to generate their own income, and to share their spiritual & cultural ideals – emphasizing the importance of their heritage, and passing it down through their art. When artisans profit, their communities become more sustainable. At the same time, Cunningham is able to contribute to the world peace and environmental causes that he fervently supports.

Sustainability is the entrepreneurial engine driving it all, and Cunningham dedicates himself to its global viability, in the social consciousness that drives Hearts.

Stephanie Petro
Creative Design Director
My heart says:
See the inner beauty in everyone you are fortunate to meet. Encourage others to find their passion in life, and spend each day doing what they love.
Favorite one-liner:
Success is measured in the lives we change, one person at a time.

Muse, leader, visionary and much, much more, Stephanie Petro’s love for the Earth combined with her raw design talents bring new life to what others call “wasteful” materials.

Stephanie’s passion for teaching designers and artisans how to design with respect for the earth stems from her earlier experiences. While studying for her BS in Interior Design at Northridge University, she interned at a sustainable design firm where she was shocked at the unbelievable mass of unwanted materials left by the wayside. From that point on, she promised to always find a way to incorporate some form of upcycled material into her designs and to improve the fabrication process while respecting people, the planet and its resources.

Soon after completing her degree, Stephanie’s sister, Michelle encouraged her to move closer to her. She then accepted a job in Arizona. She dove enthusiastically into her first assignment to assist her firm with sustainable practice integration. Unfortunately, the firm closed after just six months, leaving her feeling discouraged. Later that year at Christmas Stephanie received a mason jar filled with vintage jewelry and a DIY (do-it-yourself) book from Michelle and brother-in-law, Ben. That was just the spark she needed to return to designing.

She was invited by her younger sister, Jessica to display her latest jewelry collection at her workplace. One of the buyers was H. Cunningham who found the pieces so unique, he asked to meet the artisan.

They shared a common vision, to help others and the respect for people and the planet.

It was the beginning of Hearts...

Michelle Petro- Gerster
President
My heart says:
Believe in yourself and those around you.
Favorite one-liner:
"Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states." ~Carol Welch

Known as highly motivated and naturally gifted, "get-it-done" personae, Michelle Petro- Gerster, is a native from California but her heart fell immediately in love with the natural beauties of Arizona while completing her Business & Communication Degree at ASU. Michelle is passionate about building teams. Since joining Hearts in January of 2012, she strives to bring out the personal best of everyone with whom she engages. Considered Michelle’s second family, the Hearts’ family all describe her talents and attitude “just simply amazing.” Her propensity for organization, keen structure and accountability framework has given birth to the familiar, yet infamous phrase heard in the Hearts office, “It’s been Michelle-ed!”

As the first family member to move to the Sonoran desert, she later convinced and cajoled her entire family to eventually move from California.

Why?

Family first then the hope and belief, everything happens for a reason.

Soon after, her sister Stephanie came to Michelle and Jessica and asked them both to join her and H. Cunningham in seeding, forming and nurturing a venture called, Hearts. The reason became clear to Michelle.

She said “yes” to the opportunity, but most importantly she said “yes” to help improve society and the environment.

She is devoted to the pleasure of simplicity; hiking through the local desert trails with her two dogs or meandering at the Farmers Market perusing organic fruits and vegetables with her husband. In fact, she’s determined to plant a vegetable garden of her own one of these days.

Jessica Petro
Business Operations
My heart says:
Home is where your heart is.
Favorite one-liner:
“Don’t worry about a thing, cause’ every little thing..is gonna be alright.” ~B.Marley

The last of her family to move from California to Arizona in what’s known as the “Great Petro Migration of ’08”, Jessica Petro is always the first to break the ice in any awkward situation. She’s an expert listener so it's no surprise she holds a psychology degree. To keep her tank full at Hearts, she focuses on developing and expanding learning tools and listening to customers.

Communication is a two way street, and it begins with listening.

Jessica is beyond her years and recognizes that the future generation deserves the same chance to appreciate and experience the natural wonders and beauty as she has been so fortunate enough to see, smell, touch, hear and through her efforts and labor of love through Hearts, she can make a difference.

Her personal love and affection entourage include her boyfriend and their three pets who all enjoy the outdoors or listening to some good music. Don’t forget her dance moves. As a 10 year dancing veteran, she can take any beat and turn it into a “So you think you can dance” episode.

Her friends relate to her fun, carefree attitude and she keeps them laughing with her witty and unforgettable sense of humor. But it’s her sisters, Stephanie and Michelle that are irreplaceable.

We are so glad she opened up our eyes and mind since she has such an endearing and genuine heart that you can’t help but acknowledge how lucky we all are.

Tera Workman-Williams
Lead Buyer & Merchandiser
My heart says:
Challenge yourself to be extraordinary over ordinary, count your blessings daily and look at the positive versus the negative.
Favorite one-liner:
You just never know.

Tera Williams describes herself as a humble Missourian native who moved to Arizona to pursue a fashion degree from the Art Institute of Phoenix. Tera had over 7 years of experience as a buyer and merchandise planner before joining the Hearts family in January of 2012.

She has a passion for working with small businesses as well as building a brand from the ground up. Tera loves the daily challenges and seeing the transformation and growth in people and the Hearts’ brand. She is dedicated in helping artisans grow; professionally and personally. She also has a natural knack for crunching numbers, negotiating and managing budgets. She has an emotional attachment to each of the pieces based on her relationship with the artisan. She knows with each significant order, the quality of their lives change; access to education, food, economic improvements, living conditions and the chance to make a difference.

Tera has a heart of gold!

She also enjoys traveling as she immerses herself in the culture, language, natural surroundings and engages with the locals at nearby shops and hang outs. She encourages people to open up their eyes and find compassion in their hearts.

Even when she’s not working, she’s working… but when she’s really not working, she and her husband head to the local flea market or garage sale to find new treasures.

She feels so blessed to have such a strong and close-knit community made up of family, friends, husband and co-workers, and the positive influence they have all had in her life.

Brittany Davila
Social Media & Communications Manager
My heart says:
Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly about you, no one would believe it.
Favorite one-liner:
Life is short, buy the shoes.

A native Californian, Brittany Davila left her love for the sandy beaches and made a new path as she relocated with her family to Arizona. She later attended Arizona State University where she earned her degree in Communications and Mass Communications. She then entered the corporate world and was able to utilize all the facets of Communications, but she kept coming back to social media enabling her to engage with so many people locally and internationally. Then in June 2012, an opportunity came knocking at her door and she was thrilled that she could couple her passion for fashion with networking and focus on social media.

Besides being super organized and detailed, she is dedicated to health and fitness. She shares her knowledge through her health blog to educate people about the importance of clean eating principals and the benefits of working out on a daily basis. She also loves to research, download and share insights and new facts about nutrition. She knows her stuff and she makes you definitely think twice about fast food!

When she is not surfing on the internet (her mobile phone is never far from her), you can find her in the kitchen, cooking, baking up some new healthy recipes or shopping.

Her family and friends love her honesty and how she is always looking out for them, both body and soul. She is a blessing to the Hearts family and we are all grateful and excited she joined us!

Tiffany Philips
Customer Service Manager & Stylist
My heart says:
Fashion can give you a sense of empowerment and self-confidence.
Favorite one-liner:
When you love what you do you never feel like you’re at work.

Tiffany Philips has been cultivating her ‘fashion passion’ ever since childhood. She Knew she loved fashion when, as a youngster growing up in San Diego, she began creating stylish new Barbie doll clothes on her grandmother’s sewing machine. She then realized that her love for fashion became her form of outward expression and yes, always dressed to the “T” but most importantly this was her outlet for building self-confidence and self-esteem.

Tiffany’s commitment to fashion is personal as well as professional. In addition to serving as Hearts’ Customer Service Manager, she is a Wardrobe Stylist/Blogger who is majoring at Fashion Marketing at The Art Institute of Phoenix. She has also served for several years on the Phoenix Fashion Week Style Team and was named The 2011 Phoenix Fashion Week Ambassador of The Year.

As a natural problem solver, Tiffany is extremely dedicated to providing outstanding customer care. She also has an engaging sense of humor combined with a pleasant, positive outlook, both of which come in handy when helping resolve customer satisfaction issues.

She is a year-round volunteer, sports enthusiast and appreciates her family and boyfriend. Positively radiant from the inside and out.

Kara Logan
Design Manager
My heart says:
Slow down you move too fast… you’ve got to make the moment last, just… kicking down the cobble stones… looking for fun and feeling groovy!
Favorite one-liner:
Time you enjoy wasting, is not time wasted.

Do-gooder and daydreamer, native Phoenician, Kara Logan believes getting lost is the only way to find things that couldn’t otherwise be found. Fate brought her to Hearts in October, 2011. She swears she heard cherubs sing and saw the clouds part the moment she read the classified ad for a company that promoted upcycling and an eco-friendly approach. When Creative Director Stephanie Petro concluded her job interview with “Have an inspired day!” Well, Kara pretty much knew she’d found her True North. Kara’s creative approach and fashion forward stylish insights bring new meaning to "trend setting".

It’s this table-turning philosophy and infectious optimism that come in ultra-handy in an office pinch. She has a lovely, magical way of viewing problems as opportunities for transformation into a new and exciting adventure.

Winning the Visual Designer of Tomorrow scholarship at FIDM pleased her to no end as she comes from a family of academic scholars from accredited universities.

Kara’s open heart and mind leaves room for unlimited possibilities where everyone is welcome.

Courtney Larsen
Sr. Designer
My heart says:
Stay deeply connected to friends, faith and family.
Favorite one-liner:
Do something.

Since joining the family in January of 2012, Courtney Larsen has designed handbags and jewelry and loves it. She not only offers her natural talents as an artist but she also has a thirst for knowledge; “how”, “why”, “why not” when it comes to the designing process. We can’t help but smile when she follows her instincts. At Hearts, she loves to collaborate one-on-one with artisans from the US and around the world. She is moved by their individual stories, which only inspires her to keep working and studying.

But wait, did we also mention how she is a team player too? This year her interdisciplinary design team won the ASLA Award of Excellence in Student Collaboration for their colorful shade structure. Let’s not stop (how can we, she is awesome). Not only does she paint, sew, and draw, she also teaches piano. Having played since she was 12, Courtney is an avid lover of classical music, and enjoys passing on the art to children.

When she is not working or studying, Courtney enjoys her time in the studio. ASU awarded her the Honors Drawing Studio 2 years straight. In this secluded yet creative environment, Courtney experiments with new techniques and believes there are no boundaries when it comes to imagination.

Friends love her sense of humor, and she can amaze you by stating a line or lyric from a favorite movie or song. She is often the instigator of thrift store adventures, bringing (and sometimes dragging) friends with her to meander vintage shop aisles to discover new treasures.

Heather Shandler
Sr. Designer
My heart says:
Find a balance in life that includes downtime and being able to pursue your dreams with a passion.
Favorite one-liner:
“When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” -Futurama

Queen of the hand-made, and a semi-professional “laugh often” proponent, Heather Shandler born in Chicago, is a thrift store aficionado who is known for her creative and visual design abilities. Her love for art, personal style and business has helped her secure her not one, but TWO degrees in Fashion: Marketing & Textile Art.

After graduating with highest honors and a Fashion Merit Scholarship, Heather wove her vocational way through a small bridal boutique, a handmade cosmetics shop, and the Phoenix Art Museum where she worked in the Fashion Design Curatorial Department. These experiences introduced her to new people, different techniques and broader approaches that helped pave the way to her “dream job” at Hearts in March, 2012. Her bountiful creative visuals displayed in her designs are breathtaking and her reliability to her design family is unmatched.

Outside the office, Heather can be found “making” something (anything and everything, really.) And when she’s not working? You’re likely to catch her out listening to live music, taking in a movie, shopping at thrift stores or spending treasured time with her boyfriend and animals that happen to be a lucky ferret and a turtle.

Heather’s self-expression is not rooted in the fashion industry alone. She is uber-goofy too, and she is just fine with that as she always makes people see the humorous side in life. She knows that making a difference in people’s lives is as important as making beautiful things, and she’s grateful that working at Hearts allows her to do both!

Arus
In-House Seamstress
My heart says:
Be good to yourself and others.
Favorite one-liner:
Life is too short.

Arus began sewing when she was 7 years old and was fortunate enough to grow up around her family’s seamstress business in her native country in Turkey.

Shortly after getting married, she then moved to Arizona in 1983 and pursued the craft working for small businesses.

She joined the Hearts’ family in April 2012 after she had a fortunate meeting with Kara Logan, an in-house Hearts designer, during one of her breaks. A couple weeks after they connected, her employer had to close their business but everything seems to happen for a reason at Hearts and in the most organic form. The Hearts family was seeking an experienced and skilled seamstress who could work closely with the design team. Arus was the perfect match.

A seamstress by day, a mother to two and a grandmother, family comes first to her. She is generous and always willing to set time aside and be a great listener. She is always willing to help someone out, even strangers. She appreciates the simple pleasures in life such as a cup of coffee, listening to good music or just getting to watch her grandchild laugh. She knows how blessed she is and knows this is a start of something wonderful.

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