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Aneka Danclair gave up her day job to as an Architect, to pursue her passion as an entrepreneur and founded Amara Organics, a personal care brand of hand-blended bath and body products, which she has grown over the past eight years. We reached out to her and asked if she was willing to share her story and she did. Enjoy.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity is a journey of harnessing your thoughts and ideas and communicating them through whatever medium you choose to do, that in your mind expresses that idea in the best way possible to your intended audience/end user. For me, it is the ultimate form of expression because it comes from an intimate part of you that you choose to share with the world.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I would say it is an innate thing; the seed has to be in you. However, one cannot discount the importance of honing and nurturing natural talent through formal training. That has been my experience. And who knows? Sometimes other strengths emerge that enhance your God-given talents. Part of the beauty of being creative is being unpredictable. Creativity expands; it never restricts. It is an energy that I firmly believe is transferrable in whatever you do, and how you process things.
When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
From the time I knew myself, I was drawing, singing, and at age six I started to play the tenor pan we had at home by ear. Thankfully, my parents never discouraged me from expressing my creativity. I was enrolled in dance, drama, music and, art & craft classes in my childhood into teenage years. They also stressed the importance of academics and guided me to study Architecture, because they felt that the "struggling artist" life was not for me and that Architecture would provide me with that creative outlet and a career that would sustain me economically.
What is your standard for evaluating your creative work and the works of other people?
I would admit I am my own worst critic, so when I evaluate my work, I always see room for improvement. I think studying Architecture has taught me how to handle critique from others. I try not to critique the works of others unless specifically asked by the creative.
Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are financial rewards relevant to your projects?
It's difficult to say if monetary rewards can compensate for the time and energy that goes into creative work primarily because people don't see the intangible, they see the tangible and try to place value on that alone. I don't think any creative would be adequately compensated though.
Financial rewards are very relevant to my projects, it's how my business thrives. Monetising my work whether it be the products that I formulate and make for Amara Organics or any design work that I may be commissioned to do is good for me.
Do you think the views of other people influence your perception and evaluation of your creative endeavours? What role do you believe the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
I don't think people's views individually influence to the extent where it affects my creative process, at least not anymore. If it did, I wouldn't be here seven-plus years later still focused on the business of building Amara Organics, or sketching designs for carnival costumes I hope to see come to life one day, or spatial planning and design ideas I may have drawn in a sketchbook.
Culturally though, yes there are opinions, mores, language, trends, spending habits, that affect the way I approach the projects I am working on. Recently though I feel as though I have become overloaded with this environment, and need to experience something different, something new, something that offers new ways of viewing things. I find that when I immerse myself in something seemingly unrelated or alien, whatever I learn from that experience informs my creative process to move forward.
Does your creative work come easily or do you struggle with your ideas? What obstacles (if any) do you experience when you are creating? If you do face obstacles, how do you get past them?
At times it comes easy, at times it is a definite struggle that results in sleepless nights, procrastination and in some cases self-doubt. There is no one thing I do to overcome those feelings though. Sometimes I move ahead in spite of doubting my ability, sometimes I walk away from it from a bit and then tackle it again when my head is clear. There is no timeframe I set myself, I try to relieve the pressure I put on myself.
Is there something that you do to put yourself into a creative state of mind? If so, what? How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
This may seem strange, but water seems to be that element for me that sparks my creativity somehow. Whether it is a shower or a swim, being in water tends to clear my thoughts and ideas flow (pun fully intended). In that relaxed state, post-shower or swim I'm ready to brainstorm and deal with things head on.
Was the way you express your creativity now always your ambition? If so, when did you know for sure?
No, it was not. I thought I would have spent the rest of my life doing architectural design for end users to enjoy, to create meaning in spaces that people can experience. I didn't think I would be learning something entirely out of my chosen field and building a business from that. It goes to show that you never know what a creative life has in store.
What has been the most significant sacrifice you have made for your craft?
Walking away from my full-time job, and going into what was "unknown territory" for me at the time.
Which creative people do you admire? Why?
I admire Zaha Hadid, her works went against the grain of conventional architecture into an expression that left its mark on the built environment. Also artist Frida Kahlo, she was an all-around badass, who overcame setbacks and expressed that in her work.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My singular vision to prove people wrong is what causes me not to quit. Not to say that there haven't been times where I did feel like giving up, serendipity somehow erases those thoughts every time, and there is a growth spurt that reminds me never to give up on what I am doing.
Do you believe that it is essential to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
I try not to worry about acceptance from others to validate my capabilities, that's energy I can't afford to expend, thinking about. My focus is on improving and expressing myself creatively in the many ways in which I have found the outlets to do so.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Oh yes, it has. Before it resulted in more negative feelings, self-doubt, and crises in confidence. I was even told once, that I would be more successful as an Architectural designer if I were not "the wrong colour" (meaning my dark skin). For a while, I doubted myself and shut down, from continuing to think and act creatively. Those were monkeys on my back that I had to get rid of, to be honest, and it took a while for me to get past that.
I look at rejection now as a lesson. I try to glean the lesson from every experience and continue from there. In a sense, my desire to prove people/critics wrong is a catalyst that I use to fuel my desire to create, to better myself. I know that my time will come. It has to.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Too many times to count. There are times that I still do. I don't think I did anything specific to work through it, I just took action and did it. And I end up surprising myself.
What piece of work are you most proud? Why?
Hmm, that's a tough one to answer, but designing and building my first individual carnival costume was something I was really proud of. It was a final project of a carnival mas making design course I did a few years ago, under the tutelage of the late Steven Derek. I have always wanted to design carnival costumes, to see that come to life was a feeling I would never ever forget.
What is your ultimate creative goal and how attainable do you think it is?
My ultimate goal is to have a body of work that leaves a legacy. Not sure if that is attainable, but I'd like to think that the steps I have taken and continue to take will eventually lead to that point.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
Examine in depth the seemingly unrelated aspects of life, there will be something there that inspires you, use that to apply to your own creative process.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you give them?
I would say no matter what, always stay hungry and humble. Give yourself room to grow, learn and experience.
For what would you like to be most remembered?
As a person who tried to give their best in everything that they did.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
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