We had the good fortune of connecting with YOGI DADA and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi YOGI, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I chose to pursue an artistic career because it is what I have been created to do. My Mother observed and nourished creativity in me from a young age. I have always been drawn to having my own business, even while working a job for many years. I have indulged in the arts my whole life whether painting, poetry, music or language, if it is creative it drew me. It wasn’t until after my Mother passed in 2009 that the voice of her prayers began to play in my heart and mind, “Baby, I wish you could just leave your job and do your craft.”
I painted my first set of “Dada” earrings in 2010 one year after her passing and it exploded. It wasn’t until almost a year after that, as business continued to grow, that I asked God if this was a business opportunity He wanted me to pursue, He replied, “Who gave you the gift to paint?” By 2012 YOGI DADA LLC was formed. I pursue my passion, my art because I don’t know what else would bring me joy other than my divine purpose. I consider fish, they are fully submerged in peace and purpose in the ocean. It’s in the cubicle of dry land that we find discontent and frustration. I am learning to “just swim”.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I absolutely love being a creative person. It is a gift to have a fluid vehicle with which to express myself and share with others. I believe my art is unique in that it is truly touched by God, I call it the “it factor”. It is that intangible, indescribable something that sets one thing apart from others. My style is free, rooted in my culture and environment. My Client have hailed for years that their Dadas make them “feel good”. I finally believe them.
To date, I am most excited about my trip to study with the international luxury giant, Hermes in New York City summer of 2018. I was chosen alongside 15 other Artists from across the country to study with Hermes for several days on every aspect of artisan business one can imagine. Quite incredible!
My journey has not been easy, but maybe that’s more from my own lack of faith and not the journey itself. The hardest part is loneliness and isolation. Unless someone is truly in your shoes it is almost impossible for them to understand the insane demands of entrepreneurship. But I find solace in like minded individuals and the encouraging words of my Clients.
More than anything I’m learning to enjoy the journey. It is people, moments and relationships that build businesses, and that seems to be the part most companies are moving away from today. However, I am committed to people and providing excellent service as a business owner and Artist. Being an Artist is not an excuse for sloppy business or a lack of integrity. It is how we are remembered that leaves a mark in the lives of others.
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 have lived in Birmingham, AL off and on for over 20 years. One of my favorite things to do is to check out open mic poetry spots. It’s a very underground scene so it really depends on what day it is as to where the happenings are, but I’m well connected so we’ll always find the hot spot.
I absolutely love Mexican and Thai food so I easily suggest La Hacienda in the Eastwood area, excellent food and service with outdoor dining. If Thai is in the air, I love Surin West on Southside. A beautiful menu of Thai/Asian cuisine. There is something for everyone!
Alongside dining out, I enjoy hanging with friends in a home atmosphere with good food, drinks and creative conversation. Other than that, I am usually at a local park playing my African Djembe drum, “Promise”. She is my expression to God.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have so many people to be thankful for, but above all I’ll start with God. It is God Who gave me the gift and it is He Who has opened every door and opportunity. It is He Who has sustained me as a “solo-preneur” and it is He Who has not allowed me to give up. Next I thank my amazing Clients, for it is the people who revere my gift and are willing to invest financially who keep YOGI DADA going. They are my biggest supporters, my cheerleaders, my prayer warriors and my marketing team. And last but not least I thank my immediate family, friends and my Pastor. These are the people who know me intimately and see struggles others will never see but still they chose to speak words of life and encouragement to me in my darkest hours .If YOGI DADA were a baby, then truly it has taken a village to raise her.
I credit Larry O. Gay (https://www.facebook.com/larry.o.gay) for my headshot in orange. All other images were photographed by me the Artist.