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Kiara Toledo

Interview Questions

For Kiara Toledo

Prepared by Ryan Redondo

You mentioned to us that you were interested in tattooing, what inspired you to explore that interest?

I just wanted a way to make money off my art.

While my initial interest in the art form was mainly inspired by my struggling bank account I’ve realized over the past year how much tattooing suits me. I love this newfound ability to help others express themselves with body art.

Tattooing is an extremely precise and ritualistic process which appeals to the perfectionist in me, cleaning and setting up my equipment humbles me as does the trust my clients have in me to mark them for life. I am self taught and so far loving what this experience has taught me: which is to believe in my artistic abilities and wholeheartedly commit to its execution.

For those who don’t know, Kiara is a small business owner, what is your business and what made you want to start it?

After You Thrift Co is my baby. My partner & best friend, Maya Paco and I opened up our thrift/ art consignment store last December. The thrift store fuels our environmentally conscious creativity as we’re always looking for ways to upcycle, reuse, and donate textile waste. While staying connected to our art (she a photographer and I an illustrator) we partner with local artists to give their work more visibility in our storefront and at local markets we vend at.

We wanted to create something that felt like home to us. After You Thrift Co feeds every channel of my creativity. From selling my own art, to designing the storefront, to bartering in spanish, to coming up with environmentally conscious business plans, to photo shoots and styling the store has become a playground with endless opportunity to create.

What made you want to be a member of our artist cohort?

I was looking for inspiration and visibility in the way I would only get from those in my community. I wanted to connect to other artists like me. So I started looking out for organizations and groups of latin artists who were talking about latin art. I’ve definitely found that in L4SM.

What has been your biggest challenge in your personal life and how has it affected your art?

The biggest challenge in my life has been believing in myself the way my parents do.

I didn’t allow myself to take an art class until college because I was so anxious about not being good enough. Up until two years ago I didn’t see myself as an artist, I didn’t talk or read about or pursue art. I just scribbled away in my room and kept it to myself as I had since I was 6. I knew it was what I loved but I was just afraid to really commit to it.

I’d been ridiculously harsh on myself and at the age of 21 I had enough. Until that moment I’d spent my life trying to figure out what I wanted to major in, how much money I should have, who I wanted to be and yet I couldn’t see anything but art. I decided I had to let go of my insecurities and work on my indecisiveness.

What followed was a long journey of many sketchbooks where I played around with different mediums and styles until I arrived at fine line work. I’d been stubborn about starting my career but now that I have, my art reflects my confidence and curiosities.

What was your biggest success?

So far opening and maintaining AYTC has been my greatest success. It has changed me into a more patient and thought out woman and has brutally tested me every step of the way. It’s been about a year since we started AYTC and we’re .

My partner and I are artists, not a single business class between the two of us, but as we like to tell each other “we’re making it happen” which is the mantra that inspires us to see the impossible and follow our instincts to make decisions we’re not trained to make yet know are not beyond our reach.

*** It’s also what we were told as young high schoolers trying to make plans. Our moms would yell at us to “make it happen”.... without using them for a ride or money that is; otherwise we’d be forced to stay home and clean/ babysit the younger siblings.

Tell us about any current projects or causes you want our readers to know about.

I am currently working on a tattoo portfolio and After You Thrift Co’s upcoming website. For now we’re reachable @afteryouthriftco on insta and I personally at @_kiaratoledo_.

I’m an environmentalist at heart and because of that I’ve interned with Cycl, an app that points the way for fellow environmentalists to find restaurants that are zero waste and willing to fill a personal to go container rather than single use waste. Cycl is an asian owned business operating in Orange County CA working to make sustainable living far less inconvenient. I encourage people to try the app out and learn how to make small adjustments in your life that make a huge impact.

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