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Life and Work with Sonora Mindling-Werling

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sonora Mindling-Werling.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was raised among rural cornfields and wild marigolds outside of Oaxaca, Mexico. I grew up playing among the beauty of ancient ruins and bumping along dirt roads to far out villages with my dad- who is an expert on Oaxacan pottery and an avid explorer of all that is off the beaten path.

Homeschooled until 4th grade, then moved to Oregon with my family, where I lived in Ashland through high school. I graduated Valedictorian and had a great scholarship to go study Environmental Biology in Washington… but, I took a gap year, and it was during that year that my path changed drastically.

I traveled for eight weeks, meeting artists, photographers, and all kinds of interesting people doing their own thing. At the end of the year, I realized that I’d wayyy rather try and make it work as a visual artist than follow the relentless societal pressure to attend school-get in debt- get a job- retire- die.

I began to make it work and now have been traveling, creating, and forging my own way in life and business for the past five years.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has definitely NOT been a smooth road. The very definition of going off the beaten path is that you are leaving the smooth road behind- but it is an infinitely more interesting road. There’s been countless ups and downs, moments when I didn’t know how I would keep paying rent and moments when I felt invincible and on top of the world- but because creating things is what makes me happiest in the world, I’ve never considered turning back to a “normal” job.

My advice to other young women is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Creating a system of people in your life who are inspiring and working hard and good and kind is the most valuable thing. Just having someone you can share the bad times with and celebrate the victories with is so valuable.

Please tell us about MindWerl Art.
The thing I am most known for is probably my hand-painted denim jackets. I had this idea when I was living in Portland, with rent due and $200 dollars to my name I had to figure out how to turn that $200 into $600, so I went to a vintage shop, got a bunch of denim jackets, and started painting.

I have now made and sold more than 50, and these jackets are my favorite thing to create. As I paint them, I think of it almost like weaving a spell or telling a story- one I know will resonate with someone. I’ve always loved statement pieces of clothing and things with character and personality, so the idea that my art gets to be incorporated into people’s lives in such a wearable and tactile way is wonderful.

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that a lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
Since I model and do photography as well as art, my best approach to finding interesting mentors or teachers has been to reach out to people I find interesting and talented and asked them to shoot. It’s a great stepping stone to forming a friendship, and I have met so many brilliant creatives through this sharing of time and talent.

Pricing:

  • My jackets range from $120- $300
  • My hand-designed Tees are $30

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sonora Mindling-Werling

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