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    Tiffany Chung

    03 Oct 2021

    Text by Tiffany Chung

    ØLÅF CiTIZENS: Cynthia Cervantes

    03 Oct 2021

    From working in educational reform and becoming COO of a high school, to cofounding a creative studio dedicated to celebrating stories of black, indigenous, and communities of color, Cynthia Cervantes has spent much of her career focusing on building a better future for the people around her. In this edition of Citizens, Cynthia tells us about her new city, life as a working parent, and Maroon World, the studio she launched with her husband, Travis Gumbs.

     

    Hi Cynthia, tell us how Maroon.World got started.

    “It grew out of frustration of having very veiled conversations with clients who wanted a specific look – at that time, everyone was calling it ‘urban content’– but they didn‘t have the language and were not in a position to say what they wanted to say. We wished we could do work that spoke to our own communities in a way that was authentic - made by US for US, so we decided to just do it ourselves. Everything we worked to put out in the world was made specifically for people of color, made by people of color. That’s where it was born from."

     

    Do you have any advice for clients on how to have those conversations?

    “If you’re a brand, it starts with having a diverse team. Not just bringing in people to fill periphery positions. When we’re at a table and speaking to a creative team, VP, or whoever is in charge of making decisions, those people need to be people of colour. You have to have people representing the audience you’re trying to connect to."

    Photography by Travis Gumbs.

    Art direction BY Cynthia Cervantes.

     

    What are your goals for Maroon.World in the future?

    “As time has gone on, we’re trying to diversify the kind of work that we’re doing and spread into other areas. It‘s not just about creating content, we're really thinking about how our ethics and our intentions manifest themselves through our work and day to day lives."

     

    What key elements are needed when telling someone’s story visually?

    “It starts with intention. What is the intention of what we're trying to relay? What is the intention of the story? In storytelling or stories we were told as children, they always end with ‘the moral of the story is…’ and that’s what we’re looking for. Second, is really understanding who or what it is we’re working with. Then you get a sense of what the imagery is. It’s about becoming inspired by that person's story and finding the nuances that are a part of that."

     

    Photograph By Shaniqwa Jarvis.

     

    How do you overcome any challenges you face in your work?

    “I try not pressure myself to create anything or be creative at all. I just focus on the present and do something that makes me happy like meditate, cook, or spend time with my son. He likes drawing, so we draw together. It helps me get to a place where it feels good to create again."

     

    Name a project or accomplishment from your career that you’re most proud of.

    “Now that our lives are so different because we have a child and our energy is divided into many different arenas of life, I think differently about my past accomplishments. I am thankful for them, and for the path that has led me to this place in my life, but more than looking backwards at the past, I am more so inspired to think about what my future accomplishments will look like."

    Photography by Travis Gumbs.

    Art direction BY Cynthia Cervantes.

     

     

    Can you share news on any upcoming projects?

    “I am very excited about a project my husband has been working on for almost two years now. It‘s an extension of the work we’ve done together, specifically in regards to honouring our cultures and ancestral knowledge. It’s called Medicinal Plant Index. It’s an herbal supplement line and resource guide for medicinal plants. It’s going to launch at the end of the year. We’re currently working on building out the resource guide, which explores traditional uses of herbs, documents the people that have been working to cultivate medicinal plants , and provides an understanding of how herbs can be incorporated into our daily lives."

     

    You work with your husband a lot. Has parenthood affected the way you work together creatively?

    “Parenthood has exposed very specific parts of our partnership that are very strong and that we rely on daily in order to make it through the day. We often talk about the fact that because we’ve known each other for so long and have worked under extremely difficult circumstances professionally, our transition to parenthood has been really interesting and fun. I think it has also made us reevaluate where is it that we really feel is important that we show up for each other."

     

     

    Okay, let's play a ‘this or that’ game. New York or Mexico City, which do you prefer for food?

    “Mexico City. Hands down. We don’t eat gluten and we eat a mostly plant-based diet, so the food in Mexico City is next level - you can just spend every single day eating your way through the city."

     

    What about a night out?

    “New York! A lot of my friends are in nightlife so it’s always just a cute vibe. Also, there's such an incredible mix of people and cultures."

     

    Which city do you prefer for art?

    “That‘s really hard. I‘m going to say a tie. New York and Mexico City are so inspiring in such different ways. Both places really push you to want to make work, but I think the vibe is so different in each place. I think Mexico City is much more experimental."

     

    Last one, New York or Mexico City for style?

    “That’s so hard. They're so different! For me, in Mexico City, the best style is found on people you pass on the street, who aren’t necessarily in the fashion or art world. In New York, the looks I find most incredible or inspiring are usually on people who are in the scene."

     

    In Mexico City with fam.

     

    Can you describe how your own personal style has evolved?

    “It’s been a journey! I definitely had my ‘fashion girl’ moment - a mushroom haircut with shaved sides and COMME des GARÇONS silhouettes. Now, I'm definitely giving off 'on-duty' mom vibes hahaha. It’s more about being comfortable because I am so active. Can I sit on the floor and play? Can I run to the store and grab something? It's pushing towards more classic, I think. I'm heading into like a more simple phase for sure."

     

    Name a person, place, and thing that inspires you.

    “I am forever inspired by my grandmother, Ofelia Alvarez. I have her picture hanging by my desk and whenever I feel anxious or depleted I look to her for inspiration and for encouragement to push through. She was such an incredible human being, and she would always make sure I knew how proud of me she was and how much she loved me. Everything about her inspires me – her fierce and profound love for her family, her tireless work ethic, her style – everything!"

     

    “A place that inspires me is Mexico City. I love being here. I love walking around the streets. I love hearing music. I love hearing Spanish all day. I love hearing parents talk to their children. I love everything about being here. There's nothing like it."

     

    “The other truly inspiring driving force in my life is my son, Tenoch. He inspires me every day to be a good person and to live the kind of life that I hope he will emulate and take to the next level. I just want to create a life experience for him that is so full, rich, and undeniably full of love."

    03 Jan 2023

    ØLÅF CITIZENS: GLORIA LANDENBERGER

    03 Jan 2023

    Gloria Landenberger is an Amsterdam-based designer, creative director, ceramicist, and the founder of the interior label 2222STUDIO. Firmly rooted in fashion and interior you’ll always find her shifting between both worlds. From leading the creative direction of a German fashion and interior brand to creating one-of-a-kind sculptural works in her studio, her projects all arise from the same creative drive and vision.

     

    How did you get into fashion?

    “I studied industrial and fashion design in Berlin and Paris. Since then I’ve worked for over a decade as designer, design manager and creative director for a variety of European fashion brands. And since a couple of years as creative director for a brand in Berlin."

     

    What motivated you to make the transition from fashion into ceramics?

    “After working nonstop in the fashion industry, I was longing to take my creativity out from behind a corporate computer and create something with my own hands which led me to experiment with clay. It initially just started off as some sort of meditational practice and developed over time into my passion and second business."

     

     

    Tell us about 22_22 studio.

    “As I had only worked for other people's companies, I eventually felt the urge to create a brand that would represent my own aesthetics and values that would help enable me to share what inspired me personally. Therefore, I decided to merge this idea with my passion for crafts and interior and started my own brand 2222STUDIO under which I design, make and sell interior objects. 2222STUDIO was inspired by my lucky number and time 22:22. Since I was a teenager, I have been superstitious about it and believed that catching this time over and over was no coincidence. I always felt compelled to make wishes for a whole minute until this magic alignment of numbers passed. "

     

    Advice you would give to someone who is interested in starting their own business.

    “Just do it! I believe that it’s important to start somewhere with a vision and then figure things out along the way. Too much overthinking and doubting upfront will just block you. "

    What do you feel is the best part of your job?

    “That it's so versatile, creative, and that I am independent."

     

    3 words that best describe your creative process.

    “Intuitive, meditative and passionate."

     

     

    Favorite song to listen to when you’re working in your studio?

    "Okwukwe Na Nchekwube by Celestine Ukwu & his Philosophers"

     

    Name a personal achievement you’re proud of.

    “Following and building a career for myself that reflects what I am passionate about."

     

    Name a mistake that taught you a lesson.

    “Taking on an order that exceeded my capacity and really challenged my entire setup."

     

    Your top 3 travel destinations. Dream vacation.

    “Mexico, Japan, Venice."

     

    Describe your personal style.

    “Minimal and eclectic."

     

    The one thing in your wardrobe you can’t live without.

    "All my Jackets and coats."

     

    Name a person, place, or thing that inspires you.

    "I really like the work of Alicja Kwade. But my brain just picks up on everything that I see around me. It could be super and abstract, light, textures, shapes."