January 15, 2013

Interview with Phoebe Minona of Tawapa

Over the past couple years, many of my outfit posts have included my absolute favorite pair of earrings in the world made by Tawapa. Based out of San Franciso, Tawapa is owned and designed by Phoebe Minona who was kind enough to oblige me an interview about this amazing brand. 
Photo: Sequoia Emmanuelle/ Creative director: Siouxen Kang/  Styling: Jenelle Brooks/  Makeup: Kurumi Uchino/ Hair: Anthony Pazos  
Where did you come up with the name Tawapa?
Tawapa is the name of the commune in New Mexico where I was raised.  The commune was named [for] the Native Americans who preceded the hippies.

Could you please describe your role in the company?
I consider myself the "designer" of Tawapa. I am also the owner of the company. I am blessed with some wonderful people to help run it so that I may focus primarily on design. 

Model: Erin Johnson / Make-up: Julie Murray/ Photos: Siouxzen Kang
How did Tawapa begin? 
I started [the company] many years ago as a young traveling artist in the world inspired by art, fashion, indigenous cultures and the mysteries of unknown people and places. 

Who are your craftspeople and how do you find them?
I started my company when I met some master carvers and was floored by their skill and artistry. We began working together as fledglings back then. I feel like we have grown up together: creatively, business-wise and as people. 
Model: Erin Johnson / Make-up: Julie Murray/ Photos: Siouxzen Kang
In terms of your design process, how many people are involved and what sources and inspirations do you use?
It is mostly me designing, but I do get a lot of input and feedback from my team. Occasionally my partner Jenella will design [too].  I gather my inspiration from everywhere.  Sometimes I am inspired, and then I create... but mostly I turn on my design mind and then everything I see, touch [and] experience turns into something. In the earlier years I was greatly inspired by native cultures and body adornment. I still am, but my scope of inspiration has broadened infinitely. 
Photo: Sequoia Emmanuelle/ Creative director: Siouxen Kang/  Styling: Jenelle Brooks/  Makeup: Kurumi Uchino/ Hair: Anthony Pazos
I noticed that Tawapa is female-owned and largely female-operated. Was that a specific choice or just a coincidence?
Is anything really a choice? Or is it all coincidence? Hard to say. It began with just me... then Jenella [joined] and then we each brought in a good friend and we were four women. Since then we have expanded to [employ] more women and occasionally a man for good measure :)  It's just happened naturally. I love women and men [so there is] no bias here. My designs are quite feminine-- maybe they attract women? 
Photo: Sequoia Emmanuelle/ Creative director: Siouxen Kang/  Styling: Jenelle Brooks/  Makeup: Kurumi Uchino/ Hair: Anthony Pazos  
Where do you source your materials?
I try to use natural materials from the earth. I began with carving, so [I used compatible]  materials... [like]  wood, horn, bone and stone. Then [I started using] metals [such as] silver, gold, brass and copper and [began] combining metal and natural carved pieces. I mostly use what is available where I am, but if I find an amazing material somewhere in the world, I will find a way to haul it around the planet. 

Model: Erin Johnson / Make-up: Julie Murray/ Photos: Siouxzen Kang
How do you see the Tawapa customer? What kind of person is she/he?
Lovers of Tawapa are men and women both, who appreciate art and culture and live in some way outside of the box. They are lovers of life, with a bit of an edge.... fearless. 

That's me alright! What is the future of Tawapa?
The future is shining. We are definitely putting some roots down in Los Angeles and still loving our homebase in San Francisco. We are having babies and making moves. We are in love, inspired and excited! Lots of things brewing that we will see through fruition in the next couple of years.
Photo: Sequoia Emmanuelle/ Creative director: Siouxen Kang/  Styling: Jenelle Brooks/  Makeup: Kurumi Uchino/ Hair: Anthony Pazos
I hope you've enjoyed this interview as much as I did. Head on over to Tawapa to see more designs and take advantage of the sale going on now through the end of January. If you are in Richmond, VA, you can find Tawapa at River City Tattoo. In Eugene, OR, check out High Priestess (that's where I got my pair.) All images were used with permission, courtesy of Tawapa.

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1 comment:

  1. Beautiful designs, am enjoying looking through the sale now!

    ReplyDelete

looking forward to hearing from you!