Quite often I am asked the question: Who is this "iya" (pronounced "eye-yah")?
There is a perfect truth to this answer. She is NOT a figment of my joyously creative imagination (though she does feed it). She is NOT my alter-ego. She is actually not even a co-owner or creator in the business (though she does give me very sound advice on all issues that involve, well...everything). She is not my boss, though pointed out by my dear friend, sometimes it helps to pretend that she is my boss--waiting for me to show up to work on time, to take a chance with my wild ideas that I might be feeling insecure about, to implement a solid business infrastructure so that I might continue on for years, to encourage me to put one more foot forward, to fire me on a design job where I'm not pulling my weight and send me in the direction where I truly excel, to tell me to not give up when I feel like throwing in the towel...basically, the COOLEST boss ever.
The truth is that she is nothing short of one of the most amazing women I've ever known. When I was toiling over the best possible name I could offer my business and the work it highlights, she is one of the first names that came to mind.
When I was a child there was one person who showed me the ropes like no one else, the one person who had my back no matter how insane the situation, the one person who believed in me maybe more than anyone else. To this day she has honored those ideas I always had of her, just by being herself through and through. She handles herself with grace and poise, love and passion. She has the most keen (yet subtle) fashion sense of anyone I've ever known. She has always been who she always was. When I was a mere pup, I couldn't pronounce her amazing name: Ashlyn. So I improvised by calling her, "Iya." When speech proved less challenging for me, I held onto that name, secretly and strongly, in my little heart. She continues to be a major source of inspiration for me. We have grown into our own women selves, both very different and both very beautiful. We have both supported and loved each other on our own paths, without condition. I am eternally grateful for this woman.
I named the business after both of us. I wanted it to be personal. I wanted it to be a reflection of me and my work. I can think of no better way than: betsy & iya.
Betsy is classic, like a part of my designs. Iya is more exotic, like a part of my designs. Betsy is old; Iya is new. Together they are a perfect match. Together they make me feel bigger than I am. Together, I am stronger.
This name is a dedication to my beautiful sister, without whom, I would be less of who I am.
I love you, Iya.
***Song of the moment: Whole Lotta Love, by Led Zeppelin***
(She also had a HUGE influence on the kind of music I would grow up loving. On a rainy teenage Sunday afternoon, you could have found us rocking out to all songs Led Zeppelin on a slow parkway drive. )