Spreading Love and Justice Through Art

by T.K. West

Originally from Madrid, Nadia Drake grew up on a farm in an area that is historically known as Sugar Valley. She then graduated from the University of Northern Iowa before making her way back to the Des Moines Metro. Today, Nadia not only works for the Des Moines Public School District but also started her own business, Sugar Valley Stationary and Prints, in 2018.

“This is my community, it is my home. There are so many exciting things happening in Des Moines, from the youth taking charge of the future of our city to all of the exciting growth happening downtown. I’m fortunate enough that Des Moines and local areas have welcomed me into the community as a business,” Drake said.

Although Drake mostly taught herself how to create cards and stationary, it wasn’t until her uncle, who worked in graphic design, passed away that she first began making cards for family birthdays and events. This slowly transformed into making family reunion invitations and invitations for friends’ events as well. Drake says that it wasn’t long before the mission of her new business unfolded, a mission that includes giving back to the local community.

“I like being able to give back. I work a full time job outside of my business. Not only did I want to be able to give back to my community with my business, but I am fortunate enough to have the ability to give back,” Drake said.

As a teacher owned, eco-conscious business Sugar Valley Stationary and Prints is focused on spreading love and justice through art prints and cards. Because of this, Drake didn’t hesitate to partner with DMARC after the effects of the recent pandemic. Drake’s support will not only help local students throughout the Des Moines Metro but also their families and the community as a whole.

“The pandemic hit Iowa as we headed into spring break at Des Moines Public Schools. I knew that our students and families would not have access to the food they would need during break as we had to close our buildings. I wondered what I could do to support, and immediately knew I could give a portion of my proceeds to DMARC,” Drake said.

Drake’s initial plan was to switch which organization she donated to every quarter. However, with the effects of the pandemic potentially continuing for awhile, Drake instead continues to support the local food pantry network. Drake credits her grandfather with inspiring her choose to work with DMARC. She says that her grandfather would talk about how much he enjoyed what DMARC stood for and was a walking definition of “love thy neighbor”.

“Why DMARC over another food pantry site or organization? I think that goes back to my grandpa, Raymond. He volunteered with DMARC for a long time before he passed away. He loved every single minute he spent volunteering and always asked us to donate there for any birthday or holiday gifts,” Drake said.

With a percentage of her sales continuing to support DMARC, Drake has since contributed more than $6,000 over the past 8 months. As of November 2020, DMARC has assisted over 57,000 people, over 14,000 of which were first time food pantry visitors this year. The pantry has also provided nearly 2 million meals with over 71,000 volunteer hours from community members. More information regarding how to become involved with the local food pantry can be found on DMARC’s website or Facebook page.

“I know that we are one single life event from needing support whether it be from DMARC or somewhere else. I hope that my customers who allow me the ability to give back that together,

we can help ease the weight on peoples’ shoulders as they navigate through life’s journey before them,” Drake said.

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