For as long as we can remember, we have both been drawn to creative fields and careers that allowed us the freedom to explore our inspirations.
For Diana, this path lead her to becoming a fashion designer turned entrepreneur with her own namesake brand. Shortly after graduating from OTIS College of Art and Design, she began her design career at Arden B and then moved on to designing for Lucky Brand. After Lucky Brand, she was approached by Glenn Williams (formerly of Capital Tailors), to partner with him on a new contemporary line he was creating called SNT Workshop.
After establishing herself in the industry, she was given the exciting opportunity to help launch yet another new brand - Patterson J. Kincaid - as head designer. In between projects, Diana filled her time freelancing for Frette, which gave her a peek into the luxury market.
Ahyoung and her children
The creative freedom also encouraged her to take her first entrepreneurial step as she finally felt ready to launch her own namesake line dRA. Today dRA is carried in over 200 stores both nationally and internationally, and has been hailed by Bloomberg as one of the “Top 9 Brands Making Los Angeles The Next Fashion Capital”. The brand counts Beyoncé, Jennifer Lawrence, Elle Fanning, and Jessica Alba as frequent fans. Her first brick and mortar store recently opened at the newly developed ROW DTLA in the Arts District. You can find her working at the store on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For Ahyoung, it first lead to a career as a retail fashion buyer and eventually the opportunity to open her own retail business. After leaving her consulting job as a merchandiser and planner in the women’s apparel space, she sought to find more flexibility while pursuing her creative passions as a new mother. A children’s retail business seemed to be the perfect way to utilize both her professional experience and personal interests at that stage in her life, and she soon opened a brick and mortar store named Lux Tots in Pasadena, CA alongside a branded e-commerce website of the same name. As business grew and she built a following both online and in her local community, her schedule became less flexible and she inevitably became more consumed in the logistical and operational side of retail. Once again, Ahyoung found herself creatively unfulfilled and searching for ways to bring more creative endeavors into her professional life. She realized she was most inspired by the brand development and design aspect of her business. During her time at Lux Tots, she had also built relationships with many fellow creative entrepreneurs involved in children’s fashion and lifestyle, and she was determined to find a way to bring these two things together.
Later in their adult lives, Diana and Ahyoung reconnected as not only entrepreneurs but also as mothers. They shared their story with SWAAY:
We both discovered the challenges of balancing a family and running a business, a point we really appreciated and bonded over. At the same time, we both found a shared love of going to all the flea markets and fairs that were popping up in Los Angeles. It was both exciting and inspiring to see gatherings of local entrepreneurs like ourselves supporting each other and forming a community of likeminded creators and makers.
We immediately knew this movement was something we both wanted to take part in and suddenly the idea of Modern Artisan Marketplace was born.
As mothers, we really enjoy bringing our kids to these events but wished there was more convenience provided to accommodate families. Our goal with MAM was to bridge the gap between artisanal markets and an elevated retail experience by offering convenience and great amenities, something we had not yet experienced. Ample parking and clean bathrooms were key, and it was important to us to keep it boutique-sized so it never became overwhelming.
We also wanted to bring in an element of participation and entertainment for both adults and kids so we introduced a variety of workshops, in hopes that MAM could be a destination for individuals and families to come and spend the day.
We sought to create a community of artisans focusing on fashion, home, accessories, kids and beauty that shared our modern aesthetic, and we found that Platform LA would be the ideal home for this project, as both their aesthetic and amenities fit our vision perfectly. Being avid shoppers, we started reaching out to all of our favorite brands and were thrilled to find that so many of them were already eagerly looking for opportunities to connect with their customers in person, and the rest is history!
As we approach our second event, Modern Artisan Marketplace continues to support the global movement toward shopping small and supporting local businesses. Our weekend long event highlights a carefully curated collection of emerging artisans and inspiring brands. Featuring retail, workshops, and interactive experiences for guests of all ages, MAM is a platform for brands to share their products and services with a likeminded audience. We hope that it is a unique and family-friendly experience that brings together a diverse and engaged community.
One day we hope to expand into a global pop up marketplace and highlight different local creators and makers from all over the world, growing our local community into an international one. In the near future, we are working on bringing MAM to Newport Beach in the beautiful Lido Marina Village. Stay tuned!
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.