I first met Jess Sanchez a couple years ago at yoga in Toronto, when we bonded over a smelly situation on the mat next to us. Then, I found out she was friends with the creators behind one of my favourite India-born brands, Nor Black Nor White (small world), and realized Jess had a serious creative streak. Not long after, she started her powerful jewelry line, Santa Isla, which I was more than happy to support by buying first one, then two, amazing Okamas. I love how Jess’ personality shines through her brand, and her graceful handle on combining her individual aesthetic with the talented legacy of the Embera Chami people of Colombia.  Jess is warm, open, hilarious, and refreshingly BS-free… But see for yourself below!

Describe who you are

​I’m a girl that wakes up everyday and asks herself that same question. As beings we’re constantly evolving but I suppose I can describe myself as a very creative and curious dreamer with a passion to connect with people. I am a strong believer in my ability to manifest my thoughts and ​nothing is too far fetched.

​ Can you talk about starting your jewelry line, Santa Isla? What inspired you to start it, and what were some challenges along the way/lessons learned?

​Santa Isla was born out of my need to connect with myself, my past, my future. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to do something but wasn’t sure what. When I allowed myself to stop and examine my surroundings I found the Embera Chami people and their incredible art. I put on a piece and knew that I had to work with them and explore a partnership. They connected me to my roots and I wanted to build my future on this foundation. My biggest lesson learned in the process was to give space to nurture ideas and relationships. They provide so much insight to what you want and who you are, except sometimes we’re in such a rush to do-get-build-show, that we don’t have the patience to work on our most intimate ideas and connections.

How do you like to start and end your day?

​ I probably sound like a new age blog but I legit start and end my day with my mantras that I created based on my goals and objectives. ​

Do you have any other routines or rituals during the day?

​ I go to the gym everyday, it’s very spiritual for me to move and sweat. I also dance 1 salsa song everyday by myself in front of the mirror. ​

What are some ways you like to celebrate your self?

​I dance! I also celebrate everything and everyone around me. It makes me feel good. Those who know me know that I shout “wohooooo!” a lot. ​I also give myself facials once a week and I take my sweet time in the shower.

What are some of your favourite occasions throughout the year, both personal and cultural?

​I’m a Leo so my birthday obviously. I’m not big into commercial holidays (Valentines, Xmas) because people get so caught up in the stress of buying stuff – even though it’s good for business – that it loses it’s charm. I love celebrating my friends’ birthdays and any random occasion that you add sentimental value to.

Any last thoughts on ritual, ceremony, and occasionizing?

​ It’s important to create your own. They add value to your everyday. Nothing is too small or insignificant to celebrate or acknowledge. Life is a celebration and rituals remind us of that.

Thank you Jess for sharing your wisdom and art! Get more Santa Isla online.

Photo credits: Jess Sanchez’s Instagram, Santa Isla website.