Meet Ria - Founder and creative director behind She's Got Wonder; a creative community and platform dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the work of young womxn, genderqueer, gender non-conforming artists.
She’s Got Wonder is a safe space for emerging artists to showcase, collaborate, get inspired, and feel empowered without fear or judgment.
What inspired you to start She’s Got Wonder?
When I was younger, I danced competitively, did theatre, dabbled in photography and writing, made youtube videos, etc. I took every class that was art related but I ended up going to culinary school because I decided that I wanted become a chef when I was 8. Once I was out of culinary school, I started working at a restaurant and I just felt super uninspired. I just knew I couldn’t do it anymore and I missed art so I left the food industry.
I was in this weird transitional phase, trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. I needed an outlet to express all of my creativity so I started pitching to different websites and none of them accepted my work. It made me feel shitty, like the art world was this elitist thing, and it sucked for people like me who just wanted to share without feeling like I was under qualified or didn’t belong. So then I decided to build my own safe space where other emerging artists or anyone who has the creative itch can share their art without judgment and be celebrated. That’s how She’s Got Wonder was born.
Were you scared when you started She’s Got Wonder?
I was definitely scared. I had no experience and had to learn everything on my own. I didn’t really know a lot of artists and I had just finished Culinary School. I felt lost but I kinda treated She’s Got Wonder like a mission.. As cheesy as that sounds. I’m also the type of person who, when I know what I want, it doesn’t matter if I don’t know how to get there, if it’s something that I believe in and feel deeply, I’ll just keep doing it until I figure it out. And if I don’t figure it out and feel like I can’t do it anymore, then that’s okay too. At least I can say that I tried it. I mean, that’s what happened with the culinary thing and every time I told people about it, they always seem super impressed so it’s all good haha.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Before She’s Got Wonder became what it is now, it was an online publication called Heights. I started everything when I was 19. I had no “proper” art background and I didn’t know anybody. I did everything myself and I didn’t have another job either. I was publishing pieces every single day, reaching out to people who’d be interested in contributing, managed the website myself, etc. For what it’s worth, I’ve learned a lot and gained experience but naturally, it got too overwhelming and I was burnt out. It definitely made me depressed.
I just felt like a failure and that people were gonna judge me for it. I think it was also difficult for my parents to see me that way. They’ve always been supportive of everything that I do and I just kept telling them I was fine when I was clearly not.
Long story short, I think the biggest challenge is really just getting She’s Got Wonder out there after Heights. It’s hard not to feel like I have imposter syndrome. I mean, I run an art website but have never gone to art school. I also had a semi-successful online magazine that I gave up on after a year. It’s hard not to think about those things even when I’ve already done a lot of work in the art industry.
It’s easier said than done but you really just have to believe in yourself and keep going. When you’re at the brink of giving up, remember that it’s okay to take a break, try to get over your FOMO by talking to your friends and asking for help. Forgive yourself when things don’t go as planned. You’ll be okay.
What woman/women inspires you?
I am inspired by any woman who stands up against patriarchy, the strong women in my family who work extremely hard to provide for others, my girlfriends who are also going through their own thing and fighting for what they want. I love them all and they make me want to work harder.
How do you deal with negativity (personal or work related)?
I always try to remind myself that if somebody reacts in a negative way, it’s not my fault so I shouldn’t react in the same way. I also just try my best to listen to how I feel.
It's important to check-in with myself with how I'm feeling; if my mind is okay, if my body hurts, and just making sure that I'm actually listening to how I'm feeling. Then, I can decide when to take a break.
What advice can you give to someone starting a new business?
Be nice to anyone that you work with. No matter how big or how small the project is, you should always give it your 100%. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you like on Instagram. If they don’t respond, you don’t really lose anything. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak so don’t be afraid to speak up. Have a really good website and business cards - it’ll make your life easier. Also, in this society, people will try to impose their ideas of success onto you but if you stay true to who you are and keep learning, you will eventually find your way and be able to make a difference.
What action or decision have you taken (aside from starting your business) that you’re most proud of?
I’m not a trust fund baby so going into this, I knew I would have to work hard and save a lot of money. I think taking my time to get a full time job that I enjoy and not settling for something that would make me miserable, has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It took 3 years for me to get a job that I like and can be proud of, so as much as I was dying to move out like most people did after high school or college, I stayed at home until I found something I knew I could stick with. And now, I’m moving out this Saturday for the first time ever. Without roommates. And I feel fantastic.
In a world full of constant stimulation, how do you stay focused?
I keep a bullet journal where I can dump all of my thoughts and ideas in an organized manner. I find that that helps me stay on top of everything. I just love making lists. Being able to cross things off makes me feel good and productive. It also helps me manage my time wisely.
One habit that you focus on recently?
Having a nighttime skincare routine and writing on my journal has been super helpful. It helps me wind down and shut my brain off before going to bed. I also just enjoy little routines. When things feel a little crazy, at least I know that there’s something I can do to help bring back some sort of structure in my life and it makes me feel good and sleep better.
- As told to PRADEGAL