Jamie Lee Curtis’ My Hand In Yours offers items of comfort and connection
Story by Kamala Kirk | Photo by Luis Chavez
Whenever someone that she knows is going through a challenging time or needs love and support, Jamie Lee Curtis always says, “My hand in yours.”
The award-winning actress and longtime Westside resident has been offering these words of heartfelt comfort to family, friends and colleagues for as long as she can remember. Then about a year ago, Curtis came up with the idea to start a company based on the same premise.
“If someone is going through a difficult time, is nervous or excited about something, I’ll write that message on the back of a card and give it to them with a little gift,” Curtis says. “It’s my way of communicating the feeling of my hand in yours.”
Shortly after wrapping her latest movie project in January, COVID-19 occurred, which resulted in the cancellation of all film and TV projects for the foreseeable future. That’s when Curtis realized she needed to do something.
“All of a sudden, the profound effect of living in a pandemic was upon us all,” Curtis shares. “I realized that ‘my hand in yours’ could become an object of comfort during this time of crisis for people. It was intended as a palliative response to being human. This was about the difficulties that befall everyone; there’s no one who is immune from this crisis or from needing comfort. The whole idea was about comfort and connection—the power of art is to heal.”
Founded in 2019, My Hand In Yours offers various items that are designed to provide comfort, from intention stones and blankets to candles and journals. All of the items have been designed and handmade by artists selected by Curtis, and 100% of proceeds go to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, a nonprofit institution that is near and dear to Curtis’ heart. Over the years, she has been a spokeswoman for and worked in partnership with different children’s hospitals across the country.
“I started out working with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for many years after I befriended a young girl named Lori Tull on the set of a movie I worked on,” Curtis shares. “She’d had two heart transplants and passed away when she was 19. I connected with the hospital where she had her surgery and donated videocassette recorders for all the rooms in her name, and I hosted their gala for many years. We happen to have one of the greatest children’s hospitals here in Los Angeles and I’ve also been involved with them for a long time.”
When Curtis came up with the idea for My Hand In Yours, the first thing she did was reach out to artists that she knew. She contacted longtime friend and sculptor, Anne Ricketts, whose work she had collected throughout the years. Curtis commissioned Ricketts to create the very first item, the “Together” sculpture, a miniature set of clasped hands cast in bronze that has become one of her bestsellers.
“It’s small, tactile and substantial,” Curtis says. “It fits right into your hand or pocket. You can take it with you anywhere or send it to someone.”
Curtis then invited another friend and artist, Cathy Waterman, whose work she also admired and collected, to participate. Waterman, who is a fine jeweler, made a silver pendant depicting an outstretched hand with a silk ribbon that can be worn as a bracelet or necklace. Other artists that Curtis has asked to make items include glassblower and potter Simon Pearce; ceramist Moye Thompson; as well as photographers Erica Chan, Chris and Sarah Rhoads, and Celeste Sloman.
The collection includes the “Will Comfort” candle, which was created by Curtis’ childhood friend whose son, Will, passed away from cancer at a young age. Another special collaboration was with Charlie Ryan, a 17-year-old from Portland. A talented high school lacrosse player, Ryan suffered a serious leg injury during his sophomore year that required him to undergo two surgeries. While he was sidelined, he took up sewing and embroidery as a hobby, won a contest for emerging high school fashion designers, and eventually started his own clothing line.
Impressed by Ryan’s inspiring story and talent, Curtis reached out to the young designer, who created the “Comfort” pillow, another bestseller. “It was Charlie’s idea to come up with a pillow,” she says. “It has a pocket on one side where you can include a message of support, which is a signature of his design. The pillows have been a wild success and we have sold so many of them.”
Curtis already has plans to add more items to the collection in the near future, and My Hand In Yours is offering several gift bundles for the holidays including the “Communication” bundle, which comes with a journal, pen and a set of postcards. All of the items are available online and can be shipped internationally. Every purchase comes with a frameable card that features an inspirational message handwritten by Curtis, and she also writes notes for customers when they send items as gifts to loved ones.
“There have been some incredibly moving messages,” Curtis shares. “I’ve written to a lot of grandparents. I’ve written for people who have experienced loss and I’ve sent messages of support to college kids. It’s incredible to be the conduit between the gift giver and the receiver. A lot of us are separated from loved ones right now and will be doing distanced gift giving for the holidays this year. These items are a great way to share comfort and love with those you care about.”
Another recent project of Curtis’ is “Letters From Camp,” a scripted podcast from Audible that she produced and lends her voice to. The eight-episode series premiered in August and was inspired by an unsent letter that Curtis’ goddaughter wrote to her when she was away at summer camp. A comedy-mystery, “Letters From Camp” is a coming-of-age story aimed at younger listeners and features a star-studded cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Edi Patterson and Adam Sandler’s daughter, Sunny. The series has been a huge success and was just picked up for another season.
“It’s been really fun,” Curtis says. “I know COVID has been challenging for everybody and tragic for many, but at the same time, it’s also stimulated people’s creativity, ingenuity and their ability to shape shift. I wanted to create something that was going to be fun and positive for others. I think through the hard times we will become our best selves because we’ve been challenged by these limitations. People are amazingly resilient, and while we would all like to go back to the way things were, a lot of good has come out of these bad times.”
Looking ahead at 2021, Curtis also has plans for another weekly podcast called “Good Friend,” where she will discuss various themes related to friendship with different people from all over the world. When it comes to her Thanksgiving traditions and holiday plans, she believes that this is a year where people should set aside their expectations, reimagine tradition, and above all, practice compassion.
“These are not traditional times,” Curtis says. “We all need to be compassionate. In my neighborhood there is a woman who has been gathering warm clothing for the people living on the streets in Santa Monica—that is the spirit of Thanksgiving, offering comfort to people in times of crisis. We are all surrounded by other people and we have to be mindful. Just like the motto for My Hand In Yours, we are not alone. We are all in this together.”
For more information, visit myhandinyours.com