We had the good fortune of connecting with Ayana Mertina and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ayana, what’s your definition for success?
To me, success isn’t measured by dollar figures or likes/shares. Success is how you feel. Whether it’s how you feel about yourself, your product or your content. When I design a shirt and the message resonates with someone else – even if it’s just one person, I feel good about that. I was successful in helping someone express their feelings. When I create content about my natural hair and someone says I helped them change how they feel about themselves and their natural curl pattern, I feel warm inside. Helping others is really how I define success.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
For the longest time, I didn’t think of myself as artistic so for me to be a t-shirt designer and part-time content creator is still a bit surreal to me. Getting past myself and self-doubt has been the biggest struggle. I’ve had the idea to share hair tips and design shirts since at least 2016 but I always felt like I wasn’t good enough to do that or someone else had already said what I wanted to say. Once I started noticing how many people would ask me questions about my hair or say “you should put that on a shirt!” about something snarky I said, I realized I have a message and story that could help other people. I started taking myself seriously in 2019 and the road has been up since then
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m such a homebody but I definitely enjoy food so that would be prominent in whatever plans we come up with! If it was a Friday we could go to BMA to be classy and indulge in some art, go to Papi Cuisine for crab cake egg rolls, and head to Looney’s in Canton for drinks and dancing. The next day we could head to Five & Dime Ale House for brunch and then just walk around Hampden and take in the sights. There’s just so much to do in Baltimore! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout my parents, siblings, boyfriend, friends, and internet friends. My family and friends have always encouraged me to do my own thing – while knowing I’m headstrong and I would do it regardless. My closest friends (LAMA) absolutely hype me up and keep me motivated and help brainstorm ideas. My boyfriend is a huge HUGE motivation. Once I share an idea with him, he’ll push me to accomplish it no matter if I have it fully fleshed out or not, he won’t let me sit on it and procrastinate. And last but not least, my internet friends. These are people I’ve never met in real life but our connections are super genuine and they constantly engage with and share my content so my designs and hair tips get out there to people who really need them