Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Schubert.
Stephanie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been curious and scattered human for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be an artist ever since I was a kid and arguably was one. I painted, wrote short stories, and played the piano since age four. I loved to sing and created dance choreography with my friends and performed it in front of our parents and a few school talent shows. I was 12 when I entered the world of volleyball and lost touch with my inner world completely; the arts were buried and tucked away as I focused on athletics for seven years. When I was 18 I left my first (and very toxic) relationship; I felt I had lost so much of myself in this other person who towards the end, treated me like absolute garbage. I was desperate to find myself again, and despite its dormancy, art was the only way I knew how.
One day as I was walking by a street market in Huntington Beach, I noticed a vendor selling wire-wrapped jewelry and felt a strong pull to it. I don’t know how to describe it other than a deep inner-knowing. Intuition. As soon as I got home, I was sucked into the YouTube void of DIY jewelry videos and practiced wrapping sea glass for about a month before I felt brave enough to venture into the world of healing crystals. I created an Etsy in January of 2015 and gave my budding craft a name: ‘NeapTyde Jewelry’. It began as a fun hobby; I sold my little creations to my family, friends, coworkers, and a few people on Etsy. As the years went on, I began painting again and selling my prints. I started writing again, but instead of short stories, I became a poet. I created a zine around Valentines Day called “Desamor: An Anthology of Heartbreak”, and started putting on music and poetry nights in Fullerton and LA.
“NeapTyde Jewelry” no longer encompassed everything this project had evolved to, so in 2018, what started as a DIY jewelry shop officially became “Agua De Hadas”, an umbrella term of sorts for this one-woman run multifarious project. As of now, I create and ship my handmade jewelry to all corners of the world, I create and organize events, I make zines, I paint, I write, I produce/engineer music, I run this business, and I continue to evolve. I have no formal training in the arts; everything I do or have done has been a product of a stubborn drive to figure it out on my own. And after 4.5 years of taking my art seriously, I can honestly say I am still figuring it out day by day. There is no telling where this project will end up, and that’s what I love most about it.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Any artist can probably tell you that no road is ever smooth. I am a first-generation American, the daughter of two Jewish-Uruguayan immigrant parents, AND the first-born child, so there was a lot I had to figure out on my own. For starters, we are a completely nuclear family. My entire family besides my parents and sister live either in Uruguay or Mexico, so my concept of ‘familia’ is definitely strange and isolating.
Growing up, the topic of mental illness was nonexistent to my parents. Therapy was a privilege I was never granted growing up, despite knowing deep down that something was off. By the time I was an adult and had earned enough money to afford my own therapy, I had internalized the beliefs of my cultures so much that I convinced myself it was unnecessary, that I was “stronger than that”. There was a time it got so bad that I started coping through drinking, drugs, reckless spending, and changing my haircut and color every month to escape myself. But one can only numb themselves so much before it starts to lacerate their most important ties. For the sake of myself and my loved ones, I started therapy this year and was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder. The latter is probably the biggest yet most enlightening bump in my road, one that has sparked the most amount of healing, forgiveness, and transformation in my life. Thankfully, my parents’ views on mental health have evolved and transformed alongside mine. They’ve been so supportive in my healing and mental well-being. My partner too; he has navigated this entire unraveling so gracefully and has been my rock through it all.
And needless to say, creative expression has been my most sacred companion through the pain.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am a queer Latina & Jewish woman who is 100% self-taught. I am proud to say that I have created a bold and colorful space for myself and others on my own terms in a society that systemically oppresses anyone who isn’t cisgendered, heterosexual, and Mayflower White. Anyone who’s worked with me, come to my events, read my writing, or purchased any of my art knows that my primary goal is to foster healing, openness, and community. My work is introspective and expansive at its core. I have healed and continue to heal and empower the Divine Feminine & Divine Masculine within myself, and my goal is to bring that energy into everything that I do or create and encourage others to do the same.
What were you like growing up?
I was pretty shy growing up. I got in trouble for questioning things too much and was pretty critical of myself and others. I loved to paint, write, and especially read. I remember checking the book “Matilda” out of the library for an entire school year and wanting to find a teacher like Ms. Honey. I kept re-reading it over and over so I wouldn’t miss any details. I guess you could say I was a little obsessive, but I’ll call it passion and ‘detail-oriented-ness’. I also couldn’t stop reading the Series of Unfortunate Events books and was determined to find out who Lemony Snicket REALLY was. Harry Potter was also a favorite (books AND movies). I took the Pottermore test twice and got Hufflepuff once and Slytherin the second time. I thought about death a lot. I was a sad child. I was scared of many things and had to teach myself not to be. I was and continue to be a perfectionist. I loved anything dark, mysterious, scary, and taboo, but also hated it. I was curious and hungry to learn, I remember wanting to be an adult so that people would take me seriously. I loved comedy and funny people because I definitely needed to laugh.
Saige Kristian, Estefania Schubert
Final image courtesy of @stafford.studio