Hello, everyone! Welcome to our blog series: #CreativeQueens! Every few weeks we interview and feature an up-and-coming female content creator(s) in the video game and animation industries!
Though our CQ series has been on hiatus for a bit, we're happy to announce our comeback return alongside an interview with the lovely Yva, the Creator & Founder of "Yva Expressions"!
Hi Yva! Before we start can you introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from and a little bit about Yvaexpressions?
Hello :) I am Yva and I am 22 years old, I grew up in Orlando Florida, but now I currently reside in Columbus Ohio. Yva Expressions is an Anime, Gaming, and Aesthetic inspired makeup brand. I sell a variety of products such as eyeshadow palettes, Lip Gloss, Lashes and so much more. I founded Yva Expressions in October of 2020, and have been running it for 2 years now.
Everyone has a storyand we’d love to know yours! How exactly did Yvaexpressions come to be and where did you start?
Spring of 2019, I was a college student, pursuing a degree in Nursing. This was around the time when the Covid-19 pandemic started. A few months into the pandemic, I fell into an illness - and at first I was very worried that it was Covid-19, but it wasn’t - instead it was iron deficiency anemia which dropped my iron and hemoglobin levels so low that I had to be rushed to the emergency room. The doctor informed me that If I hadn’t come in when I did, I could've passed away.
"This was my wake-up call. I started to think about life and what it meant to me."
I spoke to my mom about how this scary experience made me want to seriously pursue starting a makeup brand because that was something that I was passionate about, and I was afraid of not ever being able to pursue my dream. After the talk I had with my mom, she said to me “go for it”, and from that moment on, I started planning and working on Yvaexpressions.
I knew that I wanted it to be anime themed because from a very young age, I've always loved anime, and by the time I was 12 years old, I started a little manga collection. I figured that since I was going to be starting a makeup brand, that it would be fun to have it be with animated characters that showcase their personalities and for the brand to represent me as a person and the things that I personally loved.
With that in mind, I started to save money with my boyfriend in order to launch Yvaexpressions. We came up with $1,000 for inventory and my mom gave us an additional $2,000 towards inventory.
Because this was around the time when Covid-19 was prevalent around the world, I was able to take all my nursing classes online while simultaneously working on the launch of Yvaexpressions.
"After doing cosmetic research regarding manufacturers, certifications, and finding an artist to draw the art - Yvaexpressions was launched."
Would you say that owning a business and make-up brand like Yvaexpressions was always something you had envisioned yourself doing since you were younger or was it more born out of the unexpected twists and turns of life?
Absolutely, from the age of 16 - I knew that I wanted to start a business. I didn't really know at the time the exact scope of what the business would be about, I just knew that I wanted a brand of my own. My dad talked about how important it was to have an occupation that was “secure”, so I followed in his footsteps towards becoming a nurse, and as much as I loved nursing - It wasn't something that I was deeply passionate about but I kept pursuing it with the hopes that one day, I would use my salary as a nurse to launch a business.
"Fortunately though, I didn't have to wait to become a nurse in order to start a makeup brand like Yvaexpressions."
Yvaexpressions is an anime make-up brand that derives inspiration from classic animes, video games, manga and more. What are some of the titles that have inspired pieces of your collections and which are they?
Black Butler is one of my favorite animes to have ever been released, and it was also the first manga that I have ever read, so I created an eyeshadow palette called “At Your Service” which is inspired by the anime characters, Sebastian and Ciel. The “At your Service” eyeshadow palette is meant to resemble an actual manga but with the eyeshadow shades on the inside and some manga panels on the right side of the palette.
Since Black Butler was the first manga that I had ever read, I wanted to incorporate that experience into the product and make it resemble manga.
For the gaming category, I created the “Player 2” eyeshadow palette which has a color scheme that is inspired by Super Mario games. Super Mario games always stood out to me because of how lively and vibrant they are, so I wanted to capture that within the color scheme of the palette as well as the artwork for the eyeshadow palette.
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? On the flipside, what would you say is the most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect of being a makeup brand owner is knowing that we’re making other people happy, which means so much to me.
Seeing cosplayers from all around the world using our makeup to cosplay, and having so many people come together as a community to appreciate things like anime, gaming, and makeup is so special to me.
"I love that we were able to create a safe space for everyone to express themselves and to be themselves."
On the flip side, I would say the most challenging part is figuring out how to maintain the structure of a business.
Having a business requires a lot of legal paperwork, working with manufacturers, and keeping up with social media which can quickly become overwhelming.
There’s also the life and work balance part, which I struggle with the most. I find that sometimes I forget to take breaks or focus on my personal life which is something I am actively working on balancing.
In summary, what’s your creative process like? How do you bring a product to life from the first moment you have an idea for it, to the moment you hold it in your hands and ship it out to customers?
My creative process is fairly simple, I am constantly thinking about which products to introduce in my shop so once I have an idea - I write it down first, and I start by thinking about the artwork and the color scheme. Once I have a clear vision of what I am going for, I talk to the amazing team of artists that we work with and get the artwork drawn. Once the artwork is done, I get a sample made of the product, then starts the mass production.
"This is one of my favorite parts of having an anime-inspired brand, being able to have a vision that was once in my head, come to life is so fulfilling."
How did “Yvaexpressions” get it’s name and what’sthe meaning behindit?
The name “Yva” in “Yva Expressions” is actually my middle name. The Expressions was added onto the name because the core message behind my brand is to encourage others to “express themselves” with products made by “Yva”.
I had such a difficult time coming up with a name that had the words “express” in it, and Yva Expressions just seemed to flow better and made more sense, so after a while of brainstorming names - that name was the one that stuck.
As someone who really holds an appreciation for manga, games and anime, we just have to ask you! What are some of your personal favorite manga, games and/or shows that you would say have inspired you the most in your career?
My favorite manga and anime of all time is Black Butler, it's a perfect mix of thriller, horror, and comedy. I am also a huge fan of the Victorian era and the aesthetic which makes it even better.
"I believe that the love I have for Black Butler specifically is what really sparked the desire to have an anime-inspired brand."
Black Butler is actually what made me continue on the path of watching anime when I first discovered it.
It just left me wanting to explore all the other possible shows out there, and the more shows I watched over the years, the more I appreciated manga and anime. I am also a huge fan of shoujo animes, some of the ones that also inspired me are shows like; Ouran highschool host club, Nana, sailor moon, Fruits Basket etc. (I could go on forever haha I love a good shoujo anime XD!).
My favorite game to play is League of Legends, it is actually the only game that I play on a consistent basis, so I would say that is the game that really inspired me to add gaming inspired makeup. At first glance it may look like a fairly simple game- but it is so complex, and I really appreciate that about it.
What advice would you give to someone who dreams of venturing into starting a creative small business or owning their own make-up brand?
"A piece of advice that I would give someone who dreams of starting a business is to remain consistent."
I would say that even when things get hard - to keep going. It is okay to have rough days, it's okay to make mistakes, it's okay if things don't go according to plan because one day it will, and...
"...the only way to find out is to never give up."
What’s your favorite product of yours that you’ve created as part of your brand and what was it inspired by? How did it come to life?
My favorite product to have released is the “Alt Palette”. It is inspired by the alternative aesthetic. It is one of my favorite palettes because it was the first product that introduced Alternative inspired makeup in my store.
I wanted to create Alternative inspired makeup so that anyone in any subculture could find makeup to create looks with and know that it was created for them.
"Making sure that everyone feels included is super important to me, and the Alt Palette allowed me to do that which is why it's my favorite."
Do you have any specific achievements, benchmarks or milestones for Yvaexpressions that you’d like to share? For example, are there specific products that you perhaps haven’t made yet that you’d love to create in the future or dream collections/collaborations you want to take part in?
One milestone that I have for Yvaexpressions is to collaborate with an animation studio in order to create makeup collections for them, and I'd love to do the same thing with games as well - I don't have a specific anime or game in mind, I am opened to working with smaller studios or games, to be completely honest just being able to create a collection for any game or anime would be a dream come true.
This is something that I am working towards and would love to achieve when the time is right.
Yvaexpressions boasts an incredible and impressive following of over 230,000 followers on TikTok with over 5.2 Million likes, of which you contribute daily new videos and content to. How do you think the platform has shaped you and the brand?
TikTok has definitely taken our brand to the next level and it has allowed us to get discovered by those who are part of the anime, cosplay, and gaming community.
I absolutely love being able to engage directly with those who are interested in those things and even people who didn't know much about anime have found us and started following, which is always a nice feeling.
"I love the fact that TikTok allows me to build a community of people who all love and enjoy the same things."
And finally, what does creating “Yvaexpressions” mean to you on a personal level? How has it impacted your life?
Yvaexpressions has completely changed my life, I went from being a full time student nurse to pursuing yvaexpressions full time and that alone is mind blowing.
"Yvaexpressions means the world to me, and being able to create something not just for myself but for a community that I care so much about is so fulfilling. "
What I do every day genuinely makes me happy, and that's all I've ever wanted, to be happy.
I didn't want to live in fear of not being able to achieve my dreams, even though having a business comes with risks, I was ready to take that risk, as long as it meant that I could do something that made me happy.
I've realized that the brand itself is more than just a makeup brand for me, it's so much more than selling eyeshadow or lipgloss, it's about bringing people together, making other people happy and included, and making others feel seen and understood.
"I can't even count how many times someone has messaged me saying that they are so happy that Yvaexpressions exists because it inspires them to do things that they've wanted to do for so long - whether that is cosplaying or finally feeling comfortable enough to learn how to do makeup."
And that is enough to motivate me to keep going because now it's not just about me achieving my goal, it's also about having a positive impact on others and making sure that they're happy as well.
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