Tiffani Ortega (Santa Barbara, California) is a equality youth activist and self taught artist who is just now finding her place in the arts community. She started Mi Refugio Projects back in 2015 where she created leather goods, art and jewelry to raise funds and awareness of local causes. Her hobby turned into a small business, but her passion lead to community workshops for the under-severed youth. Individuals were not attending workshops with the desire to make something, but rather to make a human connection and find outlets to relieve pain and gain joy. After hearing so many heartfelt stories about struggles and triumph it became Tiffani’s ultimate goal to create more safe and empowering spaces to express the heart. This project lead to Hearts by Tiffani where handmade leather hearts with powerful words etched upon them trigger emotions, intentions, and desires. Her art now focuses on transformational learning. Her work has been integrated into schools such as Montecito Union School, local non-profit organizations and youth programs as a form of inspirational art therapy. When creating a new heart, individuals learn to critically reflect on their assumptions and beliefs about themselves and the world around them. They then begin to consciously find new ways to implement plans to create change in their life. The change of heart starts to positively impact lives which naturally creates ripples of love that flow into our communities.