LEAH | YOTÉ JEWELRY
Desert Mama- Who is Leah and where can we find her?
Leah- I am the creator and owner of Yoté Jewelry. I also work with horses and have done some extensive rescue work with them. I am an animal person through and through and spend most of my time with my pets. Aside from that I do Interior Design and restoration. I also write and do illustrative art – though I am not yet sharing those works.
I am located in New Mexico, but my exact location here isn’t something I advertise (I like my privacy). My work is predominantly sold online.
D- Do you run Yoté Jewelry all by yourself?
L- As of now I run Yoté completely solo which means design and fabrication. The majority of my work is handmade by me, while other regular offerings are castings of my original work.
D- How long have you been designing jewelry and when did the love for this art come about?
L- I started designing jewelry at a very early age, but I have been fabricating silver jewelry for about 5 years.
I was obsessed with jewelry for as long as I can remember. I actually was making and selling simple hemp and beaded jewelry in highschool and other cold connection jewelry throughout my twenties.
I believe this love was passed down to me by my Abuela, who had the most extensive jewelry collection I still have ever seen. I used to stare at her collection for hours. It was always a special treat when she allowed me to try any of it on.
D- Who taught you how to do this?
L- I learned my foundation at my local Community College and have been developing my process and techniques on my own since then.
D-What inspires you, and what other artist currently working do you admire?
L- Anthropology, History, and Culture really drive my work, but my primary inspiration is found in Folklore from around the world. My Genízara identity also informs much of my work.
I honestly don’t keep up with too many other artists. This is not because of a lack of appreciation, but more so to keep my creative channels clear and free from influence. There are so many amazing artists out there!
D- Show us your best work by now and tell us why you love it:
L- This is one of my favorites. I love it because it required a great deal of patience in order to create it. Every single bead was made by hand from sheet silver and each feather was hand drawn, cut, stamped, and fabricated by hand. It also has onyx in it which holds a lot of sentimental value for me.
D- The part you love the most of what you do, and the worst part:
L- I love my freedom. My company allows me both creative freedom and the freedom to structure my time how I see fit. I can actually take care of my mental and emotional health – something that suffered greatly when I was working in the service industry.
My biggest challenge is also to do with time. As a one person business balancing everything can be a huge challenge, so everything usually ends up taking longer than what our on demand culture has taught us to deem acceptable. I have stopped sacrificing my sanity to meet other people’s expectations, which can be problematic from time to time.
D- If you had to choose, which gemstone is your favorite?
L- This is a really hard one, but I would have to say Onyx.
Onyx is considered the Matriarch stone in my family. My Abuela had an Onyx ring that never left her finger. Everytime I work with it I can still picture it sitting on her weathered brown hands and it brings such a sense of peace. It’s qualities also remind me of her. It is a very strong material and therefore easy to work with. It is considered the stone of patience. When I consider that she had 16 children, I am reminded of how patient and loving she was. It is also the same jet black color that her hair was in her youth. Overall, it carries a lot of sentimental value and creates a classic look for jewelry no matter how simple or ornate the setting is.
D- Where and how would you like to see yourself 10 years from now?
L- In ten years I would really like to be established at the home and land I bought last year. I want to be more focused on writing and illustrative work and able to focus more on community projects.
I am hoping that Yoté can become a self operating entity. Using my business as a vehicle to give back has been a huge focus for me since the very beginning and I would like to see that grow.
I would also love to be in the position to continue rescue work with animals and become a foster parent. I am not sure if having my own children is in the cards, but you don’t have to have your own children to embody a matriarch.
D- Your happiest childhood memory:
L- Happiest and scariest: When I was four years old I used a step ladder to climb onto the back of our Pinto pony. I was barefoot and wearing a big fluffy tulle dress. The ladder fell and spooked him and sent him running into the mountains with me on his back. I just remember gripping onto his mane and squeezing my legs for dear life and feeling terrified and exhilarated. He finally stopped in a clearing to graze and I had to walk home barefoot and adrenaline soaked. My pride carried home, haha.
D- Your best quality and your worst defect:
L- I would say my best quality is that I don’t say I will do things that I have no intention of following through with.
My mother really drilled into me to be a person of my word and it worked. Even if it takes me a while to get to it, I always do my best to keep my word.
My worst defect is that I can be very matter of fact and blunt in my delivery. I very much like getting to the point and don’t always consider the emotional impact that can have on some people.
D- How is a perfect day in your life:
L- For me a perfect day consists of great food, riding my horses, creativity, and stimulating conversation.
Anything done in nature pretty much keeps me happy and at ease. I also thrive when I feel productive, so completing some necessary daily tasks is necessary to ending the day on a good note. Waking early to have a full day and getting lots of rest also checks some important boxes.
D- A success and a failure:
L- I would say my greatest success so far was buying my own home as an independent creative business owner. I have never had any financial support through any of my endeavors. Three years ago I would have told you that buying my own home was unattainable.
Through consistency, dedication, a ton of hard work, and lots of gratitude to the Creator I am building the life I have always envisioned for myself.
Funny enough, I don’t believe in failure. In my opinion the only failure there is is never trying at all. Many of the instances that would be considered a failure are actually just valuable learning moments. So long as a lesson was learned and growth occurred from something going wrong, it cannot be considered a failure.
– A phrase: “Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres.”
– A film: The Shape Of Water
– A song: Caspian by ASADI
– A drink: Tea
– A city: Tombstone, AZ
WHAT DOES LEAH PREFER?
- Ten years in a coma /Ten years in jail
- City life / Country life
- Talking to animals / Talking to the dead
- A good book /A good movie
- Only being able to whisper / Only being able to scream
- Lifetime free wifi / Lifetime free coffee
- Singing in public / Dancing in public
- Only eating salty food/ Only eating sweet food
- Waking up in a desert / In a boat in the middle of the Ocean
- Something organized / Something improvised
- Visiting the past / Visiting the future
- Being unable to see / Being unable to hear
- Reality / Fiction
- Motorcycle trip / Car trip
- Never leaving your city / Not being able to return
- Continuing with your life / Restarting your life
- Knowing what you will die of / Knowing what day you will
- Music concert / Theater play