In the summer of 2016, I walked a dusty, shadeless trail and dreamed about a life different than the one I was living. I was working in the apparel industry for an athletic wear brand. While I enjoyed many aspects of the job, I could not ignore the desire I had to push my work beyond boundaries determined by someone else. I wanted control over material selection and design, a more personal approach to the production process, and the ability to imbue quality and emotional substance into the pieces I made. However, walking away from the corporate world was not easy. It would be another year before I would take the leap. The security of a well-paying job is something few let go of without a struggle. As the child of an immigrant, my sensitivity to the importance of having reliable work was especially heightened.
By mid-2017 the decision to leave was behind me. I decided to spend my first months of freedom on one of France's long-distance footpaths. As I walked, and dreams for the future swirled through my head, I recalled that dusty hike a year earlier when Hija de Nada first spilled out of my mouth. Daughter of Nothing. A tongue-in-cheek play on a Spanish language insult, it was a name that captured my rebellious tendencies, humble roots, and sense of humor. It would become the name for my art, representing both who I am and the spirit my work.
Department 07: Ardèche
The landscape is marked by dormant volcanoes, deep gorges, ancient dolmen, wild rivers, chestnut trees, cool pine forests, and people. The stones feel hard and sharp. The trees are old and strong. Nature feels especially wild here. An Ardèchoise friend once called it “the end of the world.” When you are here, it is not hard to see the truth in that statement. After weeks on the footpath known as GR-4 and an encounter with a boot-snatching fox, Ardèche is the place I walked into in the late fall of 2017.
After years living in urban environments, my relationship with nature played out in the confines of a concrete world. I marveled at the presence of the natural world when it found its way into my tamed urban space. Ardeche is a different story. Nature here is rugged, raw, unforgiving. It's fierce. In the Ardèche, which has been inhabited since prehistoric times, people embrace their presence as temporary. They leave their marks in the form of dwellings and farmed land, but even their marks respect the place. Not so different from structures built in more recent times, the mysterious dolmen— a marriage of mass and elegance— that litter the land, are made of stone.
In 1968, France experienced civil unrest that would affect the country for decades. The cultural and social implications were profound. In the aftermath, students, writers, artists, hippies, and others who sought to escape conventional life, relocated to more remote parts of the country. The Ardèche, a deeply rural department of in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Southeastern France, provided the solitude and freedom that many were in search of. Today, the department still exudes a spirit of nonconformity.
Shortly after my arrival, I met two people whose bohemian approach to life expanded my world and shaped decisions. The first was Pascale, the owner of a yarn shop and brilliant brain behind Aquarêve. The second was Robert, a goat shepherd.
With decades of experience in textiles, Pascale deepened my awareness of materials and helped me transition to production on a smaller scale. Her understanding of color and texture in design continues to influence my work. Pascale's studio, the Aquarêve, would later become the primary prototyping facility for Hija de Nada.
Life with Robert ("Bobby"), on his homestead full of animals and art on a rocky patch of land, accelerated of my understanding of the connection we can have with the natural world. He introduced me to a new level of mindful consumption. His way of life demonstrated the potential we each have to use less.
These two individuals, with their rebel ways and open hearts, shared their homes, food, and knowledge with me. They ushered me forward, reassuring me that I could trust the course I had set for myself.
Connection to the natural world built into every piece
The importance of connecting and reconnecting to nature is at the core of Hija de Nada. It is when I am walking mountain paths or wandering the water's edge that the most wild patterns, textures and color combinations reveal themselves. I am continually inspired by what I see in the natural landscapes I move through. Much of my work flows directly from these experiences.
I choose materials that not only aesthetically reflect the beauty of the natural world and allow me to recreate textures, but have an inherent connection to the seasons. Fibers like alpaca and wool are affected by rainfall, temperature, and humidity. The properties of each batch are unique to the time and place they came from. Yarn from partners like La Couleur du Ciel have the added dimension of being hand spun and dyed with color that comes from plants grown in the region.
One at a time
Hija de Nada believes that the process used to make something is just as important as the materials you use. Each piece is made one-by-one, and entirely hand knit or hand finished. The process of hand knitting captures the mood of the maker. You will find joy in my stitches.
The pieces I make are designed to be worn from the trail to the table. They are meant to be lived in. Let what you wear take on a shape of its own as you explore, celebrate, run wild, and cover ground.
Awake, Curious & Unafraid
A strong connection to the natural world produces a respect and awareness that all we consume has meaning, from the air we breathe to the things we wear. Hija de Nada aims to support connection to nature and mindful consumption of apparel by offering work designed to be used beyond a single lifetime. Experiencing the exotic, wild, untamed spaced of this world comes not from being far from home or possessing special gear, but from the capacity to remain awake, curious, and unafraid.