N A N D I N A Y A
Where are you from? How do your South African roots impact your sense of identity and the way you approach your designs?
I am first generation South African - American born from exiled refugees and raised in NYC. My parents played a role in installing ancestral beliefs which were guided by her mother and African pride guided by my father. When I design a piece it is always about feeling and what story I would like to tell which correlates to Africa/African diaspora.
What does Nandi Naya mean? What is one key piece of wisdom you hope to pass down to your daughters?
Nandi Naya is my oldest daughter’s name. Named after Shaka Zulu’s mother Queen Nandi of Zululand, South Africa. Nandi means "Sweet” in isiZulu and Naya in Sanskrit means "Wisdom". Naya is a name of Lord Vishnu, which means the Leader - He is the Leader in the form of spiritual illumination and conceived in three Ways —the Way, the Conducted, and the Leader.
I am here to guide my daughters to know their natural selves and not have society tell them how they should be. Self-realization is key.
The Fig symbol is so iconic in your line. What drew you to this symbol? Why is it so powerful for you?
The Fig hand is an 'Ode to Botanica'. Growing up in New York City and being from a background of South African descent; my mother practiced ancestral beliefs. My mother was always the one making sure that we had ancestral beliefs; like lighting a candle, having frankincense resin and Impepho (African Sage) to burn, and communicate to the ancestors. The only place for her to get some of her materials was at the Botanica. That was the Spanish spiritual herb shop with everything you would need to do these blessings. The Fig hand is used among the Latin culture, especially in Brasil where my children’s great grandmother lineage comes from. It has great importance to me because it symbolizes fertility and protection. What does the word Heirloom mean to you?
Connecting one to the history of the item of love and family.