This vintage, circa 1989 Onikas shot was taken in our balcony when we lived (alongside four other girls ) in Madrid, Spain. We did not move there as part of an organized college exchange program, we just jumped. We were nineteen, the age of my oldest daughter. When I think of the daring sense of adventure it took I feel giddy. Kids these days need a "plan," a helicopter parent-approved strategy to get from point A to point B. There are counselors and advisors for everything from choosing what sports to take, to picking where to apply, writing your essays, etc. Leaving very little in the realm of dreams and chance. The only plan I had was to see the world. I was not a good student in high school, and I think that liberated me from expectations and gave me the freedom to literally jump ship and make up my own "career trajectory." Spain had always been in my blood and I quickly convinced Jonnyka and her adventurous dad over an ice cream sundae that she should join me in Europe and study Art.
Looking back I see that so many of our "brand values" were born during this time in our late teens, maybe even in the high school art classes (see the grainy photography class pic below) where we sat doodling and day dreaming.
Happiness. Creativity. Inspiration. Serenity. Health. Community, Art + Collaboration: these words as well as our iconic barn swallow logo point to a willingness to forge our own path, to find inspiration through art and creativity and to strive for balance through well being.
And now back to the story... after several festive years in Spain, we returned to the States to continue our art studies – I landed back in Dallas at SMU and later the University of Chicago- and Jonnyka at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Jonnyka entered the art world working at Rosamund Felsen Gallery and pursued her painting and artistic vision in LA’s growing art scene. In New York City, I continued my museum work at the Guggenheim where I managed the international education programs. Simultaneously, we both transitioned from the art world into the fashion industry. On the East Coast I launched “Vero Santes,” a successful OG sustainable brand with products handmade in my native Ecuador; while on the West Coast Jonnyka landed a position working with the amazing founders of Lucky Brand Jeans where she learned the ins and outs of "the industry."
Years later, we lost touch for a while, endured some very difficult life hacks, reunited, and became certified yoga teachers.
(this pic was taken in Dallas when we reconnected after many years and started brainstorming what would evolve into The Onikas)
All these roads converged in the formation of the Onikas: like us, the brand lives at the intersection of art, travel and wellness.