A Yogi named Octavia

Octavia

I am not quite sure what it was that had me so enamored with Octavia. Perhaps it was the confidence with which she presented herself. There was just something so interesting about this bad-ass woman and I knew that I had to meet her. My instinct was “on point” and I am so glad that she and I were able to create some photos and have a conversation. Octavia really inspires me. She doesn’t let herself get beat down but hustles through whatever is thrown her way.

For this photo interview, I decided to challenge myself and take photos in the evening  (this is something I do rarely). The location chosen was Dilworth Park , although we did end up wandering around City Hall.

 

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

Tell me about yourself.

My name is Octavia, and the number one question I get is if that is my real name. It is my real name and I don’t have a nickname. I went to a culinary school for international cuisine and due to personal situations, I was unable to complete my education.

Would I go back and do it? Yes, I love cooking!

Am I able to? No, because it’s not a single parent career.

I am from Leesburg Virginia, a town close to Richmond. When my parents immigrated to USA, they were sponsored to live in Virginia. My mothers family was sponsored to live in Philadelphia, while my Father’s was sponsored to live in Virginia. My father’s side of the family did not stay in Virginia because it was too cold and they ended up moving south. After this, my mother convinced my father to move closer to her family, which was in Philadelphia. So I ended up moving to Philadelphia when I was three and for the most part have been in Philadelphia my whole life.

Octavia

Where do you work and are there any projects you are currently working on?

Currently, I own a company called 215Yoga. We specialize in onsite yoga and wellness. This means that I don’t have a brick and mortar. I have instructors, including myself, that go out to corporations and other locations (such as roof top pop-up events or private clients). We have customized yoga classes, guide in meditation, nutritional presentations or mind/body presentations. Whatever the clients needs are.

Sometimes it’s working with children with mental health disabilities. This whole summer I taught at a summer camp for kids with mental health disabilities and behavioral issues (CCTC/Children’s Crisis Treatment Center)  through a non-profit.

I also do real estate. I am a real estate agent in Philadelphia, primarily, although I sometimes travel outside PHL.

Octavia

What do you like about Yoga and what do you like about Real Estate?

I love interacting with people and helping them. What I love most about yoga is that it allows me to maximize my potential as a human being, while helping me learn what I can control and what I cannot. I am not talking about poses on a mat. Yoga, for me, is off the mat as well. It’s about taking care of your mind, body and soul. Not about doing a crazy back bend and post it on instagram and hashtag #inversion (laugh).

Real estate challenges me because each time I meet with a client, each one has different needs. Sometimes it could be a smooth transaction, where it’s just too good to be true. Other times, it’s extremely complicated. I love meeting new people and finding out where they’re from and what their stories are, just like you do.

IMG-6806

What would you say is your greatest achievement so far?

My daughter, Audrina. She has been my main focus for the past six and a half years. I am devoted in raising her and helping her maximize her potential. I want her to become a loving, caring, serving, compassionate person, not someone who is selfish.

 

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

Can you share some of your future goals with me?

There is something that I’ve really, really, really, REALLY wanted to do, but life took its turn and I was unable to go through with it. I used to volunteer a lot with children, actually, I still do whenever I can. It’s difficult, as a full-time, single parent to have extra time – especially time to volunteer. I am already heavily involved in my daughter’s school, life and in the community.

I used to travel and work with children. I went to Montego Bay, Jamaica where I worked in orphanages there and Teen Challenge. We brought non-perishable food, clothes, shoes, school supplies to kids and spent time with them. 

One of my goals was to go and live in Thailand from six months to a year in a safe house. It was one of the safe houses for which I was helping raise money to help them out. I was selling bracelets from the  Red Thread Movement and was raising money and awareness against sex and human trafficking. Both of these huge matters are close to my heart and 100% of the profit goes to rescuing and helping more girls, children and humans. It’s not just targeted towards women. Anyway, these safe houses help train girls to have life skills. When it’s safe for these girls to return back to their homes, they leave. Otherwise, they stay and continue training. If I had gone on this trip, I would’ve been volunteering at the safe house and I really, really, REALLY wanted to go but now I have my daughter and I can’t even bear to be a day away from her. So, this goal has been put on the backseat.

Do I care less about this matter? No.

Am I still trying to raise awareness and whatever I can to help? Yes, I do.

If I could, in the future, do this, then I would love to.

In terms of personal goals, I would love to grow my company 215Yoga. I want to monopolize Philadelphia (laugh).

Octavia

Can you tell me what drives you towards your everyday and future goals? I want to know what it is that makes you work so hard everyday.

I know what it’s like to be at the bottom of the barrel. I’m not talking about starting from the bottom because my parents were immigrants. Yes, that’s one thing, but I know what it’s like to start over from zero. I am not talking about monetary but about starting over your identity. Starting over from childhood then starting over after marriage and starting over yet again after leaving the marriage. This is very, very difficult. I couldn’t have prepared myself for this difficulty in any way. Even knowing in advance what I would have to face, there was no way I could’ve prepared myself and said “Hey Octavia, this is what you’re going to face and this is what you need to do.” There is no law book, no blog, no word of advice that could fix that. It’s something you have to learn to do on your own. My daughter is basically driving me to continuously strive and I want her to know that. No matter where you are, whether it’s zero dollars to your name or in a sticky situation, there is always a solution. It might not be your ideal solution or the perfect solution. It might not even be what the world might consider a solution, but there IS a solution. It should never be an end all.

What inspires you?

Actually, it’s kinda corny, but seeing other people smile (laugh). Whether it’s giving someone a meal who may not have seen one for a couple of days, providing a piece of advice or tip for somebody or dedicating a couple of hours to assist somebody, whether paid or unpaid. Making someone else happy and putting your own selfish goals aside, makes me happy and is very rewarding to me. Especially since I’ve worked with kids in the past, in the orphanages, and seeing how these kids have nothing. Everything a child owns can fit in a bag or a single drawer. Seeing how minimalistic they are and with no attachments, it’s inspiring to see how these kids are willing to put a person above them. You come and they ask “You want this toy? You can have it.” Just being completely selfless, loving and helping others is something that inspires me.

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

Can you tell me about some of your hobbies?

I am very crafty! I used to hang out on First Fridays and I would make and sell barbie shoe jewelry (laugh). I would import barbie shoes in bulk.. You’re laughing at me but I actually sold them for a couple of hundred dollars a pop! They were so tacky and I wouldn’t be caught wearing one (laugh). One of the designs I made was with all of the scrap shoes I had left. Usually I made them color coordinated but this one just looked like a box of Fruit Loops. I would give each piece of jewelry a name and a story, which helped boost my sales. So this particular one, I called Hula Baby because it looked like a floral lei. This one lady bought it for like three hundred and something dollars. The materials probably cost me about $10, although it took me a couple of hours to make it. It’s very tedious and there is no way you can cut corners. You have to punch the holes and move the wiring, your hands get really sore and you get tired of sitting. Anyway, this lady was so excited about it! Meanwhile I was thinking to myself  “Oh my God, I cannot spend this money, she’s going to return it, she’s going to hate it. This must’ve been a drunk purchase or something.” Eventually, this woman sends me an email and I’m like “Oh my goodness, here she is, requesting her refund.” I open the email and saw that she had sent me photos of herself wearing it out! (laugh). She was so excited about this huge necklace! (laugh) I used to make them with Swarovski crystals, sterling silver and feathers. I made them really fancy, Audrina has some of them now.

I really enjoy designing, crafting and making stuff. I made my website 215Yoga myself! I enjoy the challenges where I have to teach myself coding, what’s visually appealing or if its user friendly. Also, I do simple art projects with my daughter.

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

Can you tell me of some causes, issues or ideas that you are passionate about?

We kinda brushed upon this earlier, but human and sex trafficking – which I believe go hand in hand. Many people say this is a women’s issue but it’s not. Many people ask me “why are you so passionate about this, you should be helping your own country”. Believe it or not but there are people who traffic for strip clubs and you don’t know what kind of threats they are under (such as whether their families will get killed etc). Just because these individuals are out there doing it, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are doing it out of free will. Even with nail salons, some of these salons traffic workers to be there. It’s very devastating that people are refusing to acknowledge that it’s right underneath our noses.

In addition to that, I have been vegan now for two years. Animal cruelty has also become a passion of mine.

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

Is there any advice or personal life lessons you would like to share?

If you are faced with a decision, whatever it may be (whether it’s a personal matter, a career choice or any other kind of decision), if you don’t make that choice, nobody will stand behind you. Whether you come from a very religious or cultured family like I did, (when you feel like no one will stand behind you and you will be excommunicated), and you’re almost forced to make that decision. Know that that you are not forced to make any decision and you have the right to walk away and say otherwise. You’d be surprised how the universe works. I was faced with this kind of situation when my daughter and I had absolutely nothing, yet in so many different ways, the universe just spoke out and provided the assistance we needed, from aspects I had no idea were going to be available. Basically, if you feel like no one is standing behind you in a decision, it might feel like that in the moment. Once you make that decision and people see the confidence you have making the decision you wanted, people will rise behind you with support.

If you liked the photo interview and want to keep up with Octavia, follow her on her instagram! Otherwise, till next time! Au revoir !

Advertisements

Peaky Blinders Couple Session

 

O&D

In the light of the new season of Peaky Blinders, coming out, I wanted to do something different and photograph a couple in a more vintage setting. For this “couple” photo interview session, I chose David and Olenka Boyko. I had met Olenka when I was at Bucks County Community college but had lost contact with her when I left to continue my studies at Philadelphia University. I later found her on instagram, right before her wedding and asked if she and her fiancé wanted to do a “Peaky Blinders” inspired photo session. Thankfully, Olenka and David Boyko were totally cool with my suggestion and here are the results from that day.

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

Tell me a little bit about yourselves.

Olenka: My parents are from Lviv, Ukraine and they came here to Philadelphia when my mother was pregnant with me. So, I was made in Ukraine but born in Philadelphia.

David: I was born in Brenton, WA. My family lived in Seattle, and later moved to Lexington, KY. After I married Olenka, I moved to Philly and here I am.My parents were also from Ukraine, Revinskaya Oblast.

How are you liking Philly so far?

David: It’s growing on me.

Tell me about your educational backgrounds, what you do or are a part of.

Olenka: I am finishing up my degree this summer and am getting my Bachelors in Marketing at Temple University. I am really excited about that! In the meantime, I am working at Nordstrom Rack, which I enjoy because I am doing more Visual Merchandising, which I really like. It kind of ties into my degree also, which is cool. I like thinking about how things look and what to do to make them look better. I consider myself more of an introvert and I prefer visual merchandising because of the subtlety of it in regards to marketing. I enjoy learning about what goes on behind the scenes and how visual merchandising psychologically influences people.

David: I’ve done a little bit of everything actually. I started working as a cabinet builder. Afterwards I moved on to become a “professional sandwich builder” in Panera Bread. I was actually impressed with how the company ensures that everything is fresh. The bakers bake all night and in the morning, someone comes in to cut all of the fruits and vegetables. After working at Panera Bread, I moved to Tempurpedic, where I did anything from customer deliveries to trade shows. Also, I do graphic design on the side by making logos, cards, invitations etc. I actually just built my new website, which will go live soon! I have been a second shooter for weddings. In the past I used to drive a truck cross country, hauling cars. I also did landscaping. I even worked in Banana Republic for a while. I had my hands in a little of everything! As for my educational background, I went to college for Graphic Design for a year but it was a total flop. I realized that going to college was not for me.

How did you two meet?

Olenka: Each time was a new meeting (laugh). The first time we met was in New Jersey, at a little tiny church. David and his friends were exploring the area and happened to visit the church. That evening, during a youth gathering, the night was getting to the part where the introduction/ice breaker games were starting. David and his friends approached my group of friends and asked if we wanted to hang out with them somewhere else.

David: That was actually the only time I have ever done something like that. It was done intentionally, I kinda had a crush on her.

Olenka: We had a good time, but I did notice that the longer David was with us, the quieter he became all while sitting in the corner by himself. I remember asking my friends “What’s wrong with that kid? Does he think he’s too cool or something?” I hadn’t really seen him for 3 years after that.

David: I saw you though. I saw you at conferences sometimes. Also, we followed each other on instagram. Whenever I saw you, I would think “There she is”… like a creeper, I guess (laugh).

Olenka: Yes, he confessed this to me. So, three years later, at a conference in Columbus, Ohio, I saw him again. It’s actually funny because he was sitting in front of me with his brothers and I remember thinking “That’s that kid… who was SO anti-social!”

David: Later that day, when we were in line for food, you kind of walked by with your friend who tried to introduce us. I was like “I know you..”

Olenka: Yeah, right. The way you did it was more like “Hi, I’m David”. I thought to myself “Seriously? This kid doesn’t even remember who I am?!” (laugh). I was like “Nice to meet you…”(laugh). I don’t know how it happened, but one we started talking, we really hit it off. Our friend groups ended up hanging out that whole weekend, so we were able to get to know each other a little bit.

 

Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset

 

 

When did you decide that you were serious about one another?

Olenka: I actually don’t really know! It just happened! I could tell right away though because I felt really comfortable around him and he was so easy to talk too. It was one of those things where the more you talk to the person, the more things you notice that you like about them. This had never happened to me before because in the past, when I got to know a guy more, I would actually start noticing more things I didn’t like and that didn’t fit with me in order to move towards a serious relationship.

David: I think it happened when we met up in NYC. I was there with Tempurpedic and realized that Philly was pretty close by. I reached out to Olenka to invite her to spend a day with me. It was the first time that we were alone together, without our friends surrounding us. I remember thinking to myself afterwards “I’m done”. Afterwards, I was very intentional in my actions and feelings toward her and I let her know.

 

IMG_1872

What would you say is your greatest achievement so far?

David: Honestly, I am very happy with how my life has been so far. Growing up, all the guys surrounding me only thought about making money. Meanwhile, I was more focused on building a relationship with people. I never really cared so much about becoming wealthy. By traveling, I was able to see a lot and experience a lot. I just absolutely love that I did that. As I look back, I have so many great memories with great people. That, to me, is a great accomplishment.

Olenka: For me, I think it’s more about personal accomplishments. Like I mentioned, by nature, I am more of an introvert. About 2-3 years ago, I was kinda forced to go out of my comfort zone because a lot of people in my life were starting to date and not being so much a part of my life anymore. I had to learn to do things on my own instead of waiting around for someone to do it with me. I was able to become more independent, meet more people and put myself out there. I have always been surrounded by people, but I never really became as comfortable in my own skin as I have in the past few years. Not caring what others think and how others view me. I’ve learned how to find common interests and topics with people I have just met. It’s so interesting how the most unexpected people have the most in common with you! I have gained so much more confidence since the person that I was in the past. I still think of myself as an introvert, but at the same time, if I need to be, I can be more extroverted.

Who or what inspires each of you?

David: I think really thought provoking movies inspire me. Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorites. I just appreciate well shot movies, so I guess cinematography really inspires me. I would say that I am more of an ‘artsy’ person than a logical person. For example, if I go to a cafe and they have a nicely designed menu, then I will immediately like the cafe. Good design, in general, inspire me. I really love a good design! My parents inspire me. They moved to the USA in 1990 and literally, had nothing. Now they are doing better than some Americans who have lived in this country their whole lives. To me, that shows that hard work goes a long way. No matter your circumstances, you can get it if you want it. My uncle has a successful granite business. When I look at him, I think “That guy came from nothing.” When he came here, he probably only had two sweaters and a pair of pants. When I see people like that, I can’t help but be inspired.

Olenka: That’s how I am too. I am a very visual person, visual learner, visual everything… People watching is one of my favorite things to do. Also people that I know also inspire me. One of my good friends, she’s at Parsons in NYC, she just got a scholarship in Paris to design and work with designers. For me, that is amazing! Just to see people I know, who are talented and good at what they do, succeed, makes me really amazed. I am happy for them and it makes me inspired because if you work hard, try to be a good person then good things will happen to you.

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

What are your hobbies?

Olenka: I am not sporty at all! I am the worst at sports. I love reading, since I was a little kid. I am always reading something. Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorites, I love everything he’s ever written. I think I might’ve read almost all of his work. I would literally go to the library, where the limit was 12 books for checkout, I would take out 12 each time and finish them before the due date. The Office is my favorite show of all time so I almost consider it a hobby with how much I watch it (laugh). I like going on walks or going on a hike, I really like chill activities.

David: I like so many things. I love sports, except for basketball. Volleyball and Tennis are my favorite. Photography is also something that I have really been interested in for a long time. I always told myself that a camera would be my first big purchase when I started working. That never happened although I did finally get one. I have always been interested in graphic design and reading. In class, I was always that kid in middle school and high school that was always reading during class. Sometimes I would even read through the night. I enjoy driving. I also really love learning. I am constantly watching documentaries or researching some type of topic. I guess my hobby would be collecting information!

 

What issues, causes or ideas are you passionate about?

David: I have recently have been getting into politics. Like I said, I collect information and recently most of it has been politic driven. I have been watching Ben Shapiro, and that is who I am passionate about. I want that guy to be president! He’s a libertarian, he’s not a conservative for the sake to be conservative. I strongly agree with what he says and everything he advocates for. The arguments he makes, he is able to support logically and I admire that. I like that although he is a religious person, Shapiro does not argue from a religious perspective but from accredited researched information and statistics. I am also passionate about meeting people from all communities. Finding good people and building relationships with them.  

Olenka: I think one of the things I am passionate about is the Slavic community, especially the Christian Slavic community here in the US. When one grows up in a slavic culture church here in America, you start noticing how much is culture driven vs religion driven. People are doing or saying things because they are used to things being a certain way. Just being close-minded and pushing opinions onto kids and the new generations without considering their kid’s worldviews. Being a first generation kid in a different country and with everything that is currently going on here, there is a dissonance between the parents/grandparents and their kids. It’s very interesting for me to talk about it with people from all over the USA and how they are dealing with this issue. We have a friend in Kentucky that doesn’t go to a Slavic church at all and many of the people we know only go to Slavic churches just because they don’t want to have an argument with their parents. These type of issues are why I am so passionate towards the teens in our community. Back when I was doing teen Bible school, I was able to have personal conversations with teenagers where I could explain the importance of having your own personal relationship with God versus it just being a “church thing”. I would stress that it has to be your own personal decision instead of doing it just because it’s what your parents want or expect. Especially at that age when many are questioning why they are in church and might even be a little bored with it. It is important for them to realize that it is their decision and that someone like me is available for them in case they need help or advice. It seems like the current situation in Slavic churches is very transitional. I am very interested to see what the future will bring.

Any tips or advice you would like to give anyone reading this photo-interview?

David: I have recently found a quote that I fell in love with. I don’t know exactly how it went but it went something like this, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of remedy”. If you see that something is going to happen, fix it then and this will save you a lot later. If you cut corners, something is going to happen and you will have more work in the end. Also, Olena got a cool t-shirt from United by Blue which says “Well done is better than well said”, and I completely agree with that.

Olenka: Every time I’ve looked back at different situations in my life where I was unhappy with how something turned out, I just wish that I had focused more on what I was doing and doing it well. I think I would’ve been much happier with the results. I guess what I am trying to say is that whatever you are doing, do it well. Even if it’s something that seems small and unimportant. I know sometimes a lot of the places people work in are very repetitive and I think that by trying to make small differences and changes in one’s life are important. Notice the little good things, compliment someone else and try to make every day different and focus on your own personal growth. Use what you have learned and give to other people.

David: Olena does this really cool thing where if she has a good memory, she writes it down, puts it in a jar and at the end of the year, during New Year’s, she reads them.

Olenka: Well it’s amazing how much you can forget about what happened. When I read all these “memories”, I catch myself saying “I can’t believe this all happened  this year”. It really makes me appreciate life more and also reminds me of everything I am thankful for.

 

I hoped everyone liked the interview! If there is someone you would like me to photo interview, please leave a comment below. Otherwise, till next time! Ciao!

A Boho Ballerina

Rie25
A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon Rie through her blog Rie Victoria Aoki. Her styling and bohemian flair really inspired me and led me to reach out to her for a photo-interview. Rie is a professional ballet dancer from Japan, who is currently residing in Wilmington, DE. She has been featured on the Free People Office BLDG 25 blog, DISfunkfashion Magazine blog and popular instagram pages such as Free People, Urban Outfitters, Novella Royale etc.
For this collaboration, the location Rie and I settled on was Fishtown, Philadelphia. Fishtown happens to be my favorite neighborhood in Philadelphia because it never ceases to surprise and inspire me. The locations used include La Colombe Torrefaction, Jinxed (thrift/antique shop), Philadelphia Record Exchange and various streets in the area. By the way, I ended up taking that James Dean record (prop used in photos below) home to enjoy!
 Rie16
Tell me a little bit about your education background and what you are currently doing.
 I’m a professional ballet dancer and that’s all I’m doing in my life! After I finished all of my school programs in Japan, I went to Kirov Ballet School of Washington DC to finalize my ballet education.
What made you choose to go into ballet?
I’m not sure… When I realized, I was already super passionate and into it. 
What do you like most about it (ballet)?
I can speak to people/audience without a single word.
Rie20
 
How did you get into fashion blogging and what do you love most about it?
I always loved styling since I was a little kid. I used to have a fashion blog when I was in high school in Japan! What I love the most about it is that I get to tell people what my own point of view is.
Rie13 
What is your greatest achievement thus far?
I was able to have shoots with Free People!
What are your future goal(s)?
Be somebody’s style goal. 
Are there any designers you look up to or find inspiring?
I don’t have any specific ones, I get inspired by so many.
 
Rie9 
What are your top fashion style icons?
Always but especially for spring/summer looks, Vanessa Hudgens is my boho style queen!
 
What are your inspirations (please specify what these inspirations are towards aka ballet, fashion etc) ?
For styling, I get super inspired by colors and patterns. I love those fashionistas out there who nail pattern play!
Processed with VSCO with c9 preset 
Do you have any hobbies?
I love going on vintage shopping! I also love taking photos, not just being in front of a lens!
 
What are some causes, issues or ideas you are passionate about?
Preserving arts.
 
Rie30 
What advice can you give to anyone trying to do what you are doing?
I’m so not sure there is someone who is trying to do what I’m doing, honestly, but… just keep doing what you are doing and appreciate everything you get ❤

If you liked the interview and want to keep up with Rie, follow her on her instagram! Otherwise, till next time! Ciao!

Rie26

Daniel at Cira Green

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

Now that I have finished my degree in Fashion Merchandising and Management at Philadelphia University, I am able to spend my available time editing and uploading my photography.

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

I met Daniel at PhilaU a couple of years ago and I have always been impressed with his dress game. The man is always impeccably dressed. Every. Single. Day.

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Daniel and I have been meaning to do this shoot for the longest time and I’m glad we were finally able to find a time. Although I am the fashion major, I did not worry about what outfits he would choose and, as you can see, Daniel did not disappoint!

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

The location of this photo shoot was at the open rooftop park in Philadelphia, Cira Green. I love this peaceful spot, especially if I want to read outside. Its also a great place to have a picnic!

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

I hope you guys liked this set as much as I enjoyed taking it! Feel free to let me know your thoughts.

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset