Create Someting that Brings Joy to Others
I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, the first born to North American missionaries. My mom is American, my dad is second generation Canadian, and his parents immigrated from Germany. I grew up in Zambia, spent six years of schooling in Kenya, and have lived in the United States since college. I hold an American passport but think of myself more as a global citizen.
I’m twenty-six years old and have been searching for my niche ever since college. I was an art major in college, and after graduation, I filled my parents’ house with a very random assortment of artwork.
Inspiration comes in the form of beautiful, interesting objects, thoughts and feelings. I love to learn and grow mentally, spiritually, and in my craft. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts to keep my mind fresh, and love to see new clothing styles as well as home decor. If I like them, I try them out to see how I can make them my own. I like to use myself as a reference point when generating my work, because over the years, I’ve learned that I feel best when I’m true to myself. As long as I do, produce, or share something that resonates with me, I know that somebody can relate to it. Ultimately though, I like to share with others and add value to their daily lives – that’s my biggest inspiration. If I can share an empathetic experience, recommend a helpful product, or create something that brings joy to others, I feel purposeful.
As an art major concentrating on 2D, it’s harder to find a job in my field. I spent three years working for an alterations shop, and while I loved learning and perfecting my sewing skills, the job just wasn’t very creative. I’m an artist at heart and feel most alive when I create. Whether it’s sculpting, painting, sewing or writing, there’s something very fulfilling about bringing something unique and beautiful into the world – something I can share with others and they can enjoy, too. I created it for the sake of expression, but never really thought about where the piece would be displayed or how it would be used. Going forward, I wanted to create, but I gave much more thought to the purpose of each piece – how it would be used, where it would be displayed etc. Everyone wears clothing, most women wear jewelry, and many people write cards, so that’s what I’ve been making. With utilitarian pieces, I can almost guarantee my work will find a home. With all this in mind, and a longing to have a more flexible schedule, I chose to explore self-employment through my creative business, “Yoanna’s Studio.” I’m currently making clothing and clay earrings, but hope to expand to something more niche. It’s only been six months, so I’m excited to see how Yoanna’s Studio evolves!
“The journey has been rewarding but unpredictable. I’m very thankful to be married to a wonderful, well established engineer. I think this creative journey would be a lot more stressful without his support!”
David, my husband of two and a half years, is such an integral part of my life. When I first met David, I liked that he was capable, smart, successful, trustworthy and dependable. As I’ve gotten to know him, he’s still those things, but I’ve learned just how selfless, sweet, and humorous he is. I never thought I could find someone like him, let alone somebody who would love me like he does. He is so stable, loyal, and intent on providing me with good things. From the first night he met me, he saw something special in me and he frequently reminds me of that. As someone who has a lot of potential, but often doubts herself, I really appreciate the role David plays in my life. Someone once asked me what surprised me most about marriage. This was my answer — when I got married, I expected that my husband would either stay as he was, or gradually stop putting in effort, resulting in someone who was less and less enjoyable to live with. Instead, David just kept on getting better. David is the sort of guy who likes to perfect things until he has a well-functioning system. He totally does that with himself and the way he interacts with me. If he doesn’t get something right the first time, he just keeps on trying to improve until he gets it right. I’m so thankful that he’s my partner and I look forward to growing old with him!
I feel most relaxed when I have plenty of time to unwind, process and be productive in my own way – this could be watching an evening show with my husband, listening to an audiobook as I do laundry, or binging a podcast while I sew an outfit. I don’t like to feel rushed, but I do my best work when I have a prompt, a timeline, and a general plan. Being organized and living in a clean space contributes to a feeling of internal stability.
If I could describe my lifestyle using three hashtags, my hashtags would be #thoughtful, #creative and #perfectionist. I put a lot of thought into everything I do. I ponder life, interactions with others, and my emotions. There’s a reason for everything I do, and I like to understand my “why.” I’m creative at heart and it comes out in the words I use, the way I think, and the things I make. For better or for worse, I’m also a perfectionist. I pay very close attention to detail, obsess over small mistakes, and will redo my work until I have it right. I have high expectations for myself and expect myself to deliver in a timely, well executed and appropriate manner.
1.Back to shoes, what style of shoes do you wear daily?
I’m not sure there’s any particular style of shoe I wear daily. All my shoes are classy and unique, but they range from sandals to ballet flats and heels – I have a shoe for every occasion.
2.What factors do you consider the most when purchasing shoes and why?
Over the years, my shoe purchases have been limited by my finances. For most of my life, I didn’t have the luxury of buying shoes that were both cute and comfortable, so I usually bought cute, low quality shoes. As my options have expanded, there are several factors I look for. I really do like my shoes to be attractive, classy and unique. Versatility is important to me, and while I will buy more shoes for variety, I do like neutral-toned shoes that can pair with multiple outfits. Comfort has become more important to me, and I appreciate a shoe I can wear for hours without discomfort. The ability to clean a shoe is very important to me. I don’t always wear socks with my shoes, which can contribute to odor. I love that many of Vivaia’s shoes are machine washable and have removable, washable, and deodorizing insoles. That’s a huge plus for me and I wish all shoes had that feature!
3.How’s your understanding of fashion and ecofashion/sustainable fashion?
While I’ve always been interested in fashion, I think I’m still learning about sustainable fashion. I look forward to exploring the subject and curating my wardrobe to be more eco-friendly. I’m excited about the role Vivaia plays both in sustainable footwear, and in encouraging me to learn more about eco friendly fashion.
4.What does a nice pair of shoes mean to you?
Everything! It means confidence, comfort, and even a sense of identity. As Marilyn Monroe said, ” Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.”
5.If you could describe yourself as a shoe, which type of shoe would it be?
If I could describe my lifestyle using three hashtags, my hashtags would be #thoughtful, #creative and #perfectionist. I put a lot of thought into everything 1 do. I ponder life, interactions with others, and my emotions. There’s a reason for everything I do, and I like to understand my “why.” I’m creative at heart and it comes out in the words I use, the way I think, and the things I make. For better or for worse, I’m also a perfectionist. I pay very close attention to detail, obsess over small mistakes, and will redo my work until I have it right. I have high expectations for myself and expect myself to deliver in a timely, well executed and appropriate manner.
6.Where have you been by wearing VIVAIA? How was it? Anything particular feels from our shoes? Just share your feelings with us. What’s the biggest difference compared to other shoes?
I’ve been wearing Vivaia shoes everywhere. I want a Vivaia shoe for every occasion and get excited about every new release because they’re just so me – unique, stylish, craving comfort, thriving on a sense of purpose, and having strong ethical values. Honestly, I think my favorite thing about Vivaia is that they’re a young brand with lots of heart just like me. They’re pulling water bottles out of the ocean to produce a new kind of shoe ~ a sustainable shoe that evolves with me. They’re making choices to be here for the long haul – not just producing the sort of shoe that I buy one day and throw out the next.