CHIKA OTUATA, FOUNDER OF BY ODIRI, TURNS ART INTO SELF-CARE
CHIKA OTUATA, GRAPHIC DESIGNER, ILLUSTRATOR, AND FOUNDER OF BY ODIRI, DISCUSSES ART'S PLACE AS A FORM OF SELF-CARE IN HER WORK AND HER LIFE.
Credit: Chika Otuata| IG: @byodiri | Chika Otuata, Graphic Designer, Illustrator and Founder of By Odiri
Affirm Noire| September 17, 2021
The rat race. The matrix. The great fog. Whatever one may call the tuned in, always on culture Americans have cultivated- is flawed. As of 2019, the average American worked 34.4 hours per week. However, people aged 25-30 worked an average of 40.5 hours per week. These averages didn't incorporate work like household errands and chores outside of their jobs. Obviously, America's work culture doesn't support the notion of self-care. But artists such as Chika Otuata (she/her), the graphic designer, illustrator, and owner behind the By Odiri brand, is refining her work in the name of it. By Odiriis Chika's online store where she sells handmade products such as artwork like stickers, apparel, jewelry, accessories, and home decor aimed at Black women.
My mission with my craft is to show that you can be successful doing what you are passionate about. To inspire others to harness their talent and let it work for them.
What has now become By Odiri started out as Chi Illustrates in 2017. Back then it was primarily used to display her illustrations of Black women. However, Chika began her entrepreneurial journey once her friends and family convinced her to sell her work. She began selling stickers and prints on Society6 and Redbubble. Eventually, Chika decided to launch her own website to continue the growth of her business. She changed her business name to By Odiri earlier this year. As By Odiri evolved, she added more items to its stock. She decided she wanted to showcase Black women living their best lives through her art.
"My mission with my craft is to show that you can be successful doing what you are passionate about. To inspire others to harness their talent and let it work for them," she stated. "I make it a point to support the BIPOC community by vending at markets curated for people of color. It is important to me that my business be part of a legacy of building Black wealth."
However, like so many Creatives, Chika still maintains a full-time job.
"On a typical weekend, I review insights from all my social platforms to see how it’s doing. Then, I plan social media content, come up with color palettes/themes for illustrations, stickers, home decor, and my other products. Once I have a rough idea, I start working. Depending on what I decided to focus on, I could be sketching sticker designs or making sample jewelry or decorative trays," she said.
Maintaining a job while pivoting into the role of a boss seems more common today, especially with people transitioning into content creators byway of YouTube. Tik Tok, and Instagram. Since COVID-19 cropped up more BIPOC have launched businesses. However, many have also closed down due to several obstacles such as a lack of resources and illness. With today's overwhelming environment, it's important people take time for self-care.
"Even though I work a lot for my business, in relation to the other things I do, my business is my self-care. Art has always been a part of my life, and in undergrad, it was a method of self-care and self-preservation. I say so because it makes me happy. It is what I gravitate to when I am burnt out from my full-time job or graduate school. I enjoy tactile things, so making a t-shirt to making trinket trays are very soothing for me. Other self-care practices, including reminding myself to not worry about the things I cannot control, but to focus on the things I can. I also enjoy watching k-drams a lot, and they all brighten my day," Chika shared.
Some don't consider art as an outlet for practicing self-care while others do. The definition of self-care varies based on who's being asked.
"I've learned that self-care is not just taking a day or a few off to unwind. Not saying that is not important, but to practice self-care means prioritizing your needs. It’s setting boundaries, knowing when to say yes or no, and also taking the necessary breaks you need. I am still practicing and learning to do all these things, but so far it has put me in a position where my mindset is at ease and not running a race," she said.
Pertaining her future goals, Chika said, "There is a lot I want to accomplish in my business. Short term plan is to start doing workshops, teaching others how to create some of the items I sell. And long term is to get my products into stores and have wholesale contracts with organizations and businesses."
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