Heart of Gold
With Collective Hearts, Lisa Rueff is spreading the love, one heart at a time.
Written byJennifer Massoni Pardini
Photographed byRobert Bengston
Hearts are one of those universal symbols, understood by all, yet uniquely meaningful and personal. This is certainly true for Sausalito’s Lisa Rueff, Founder and Chief Heart Warrior of Collective Hearts, an enterprise that consists of a jewelry line, humanitarian effort, and signature gatherings designed for heart-opening and community building. While officially launched as a business in 2018, one such personal experience several years ago inspired Rueff’s mission to, in her words, “amplify more love in the world.”
After Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, Rueff, who had lived everywhere from Georgia and San Diego to Aspen and Asia, first visited the Caribbean country. “At the time, I was teaching over 17 yoga classes a week and leading meditation,” she recalls. “I love teaching well-being and getting people into their bodies and into their hearts. I felt really compelled to get down to Haiti after the earthquake and do anything I could to help.”
Rueff quickly fell for the culture and found inspiration alongside people working tirelessly to repair their homeland. She shares the story of doing sun salutations in a tent city each morning, joined day by day by more adults and children there. “By the end of the week, 100 people were doing sun salutations with me,” she says. “You can communicate a lot without language.”
Once home, Rueff starting hosting fundraisers for Haiti. “I love the idea of gathering people’s hearts together and unifying people through love and generosity and kindness,” she explains. And so Collective Hearts’ signature gatherings truly began (today there are also retreats, yoga hikes, and custom events).
She also couldn’t wait to return to Haiti with others, and has since led numerous humanitarian groups and built a children’s school and home in Haiti—Jacmel Children’s Center—with the help of Co-founder Bonite Affriany as well as Misha Collins and Philip Schneider of Random Acts. It currently houses 29 children. “Everyone I’ve brought to Haiti has really transformed their lives,” says Rueff, herself a prime example.
While “Collective Hearts” as a term and a movement was coined in 2010, it was in 2017 that Rueff—who by that time had also led trips to South Africa with Richard Branson, started a gratitude-based board game called Sparked, and been the Executive Director for musician Michael Franti and his wife Sara’s foundation, Do It For The Love—joined forces with jewelry designer Amy Nordstrum to create her vision for what is now her signature “Heart of Gold” necklace (above).
The very first time Rueff wore it out (to the grocery store), she was bombarded by women wanting to know where she’d gotten it. Today, the Collective Hearts team also includes Co-founder Jennifer Freas, Lizzy Draeger, Zoe Salter, and Vanessa Higgins. The jewelry line of necklaces, rings, and earrings in silver and gold is still handcrafted by Nordstrom and Caitlin Greene.
Every purchase supports Jacmel Children’s Center.