This past spring, I’ve been falling asleep to the hum of a timer, which turns on a set of fluorescent lights promptly at 9 am. This corner of the bedroom is my urban farmer boyfriend’s temporary “nursery,” with baby basils and kales sprouting their lovely green leaves. Other corners of our apartment are filled with props, waiting to be packed or unpacked from my styling gigs. Blurring that line between a workplace and home life is very familiar to me, but it’s comforting to see I’m not alone in this. Shannon Maldonado, the owner of the online shop Yowie, is someone who blurs that home/work line, and she makes it look so stylish in the process.
Shannon grew up in a creative household in Philadelphia, PA. Her mother taught her how to sew at age 10, and from that moment, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in fashion. That conviction led her to attend FIT for Fashion Design, which landed her jobs with some of the most recognizable names in the industry like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. She later settled into a role with American Eagle Outfitters, which equipped her with established examples for starting her own business.
“These experiences were so valuable to launching Yowie, and I tried to think like a larger company when making decisions even though I am a little guy in the market. These brands taught me how to create a brand that resonates with people, keep the focus on products and to cultivate a unique customer experience. AEO was my version of business school.”
As her day job became more predictable, Shannon sought a creative outlet to keep her engaged in the design world, so the framework for Yowie began to take shape. “When I first began planning, it felt like a more in-depth Pinterest Board that grew a few pages every night. When I began to feel some momentum build, I started to show a few friends and family my growing notebook and they encouraged me that I might be onto something. I’ve always done ‘the right thing’ in my career, so the thought of quitting my job to pursue a new career path and dip into trying freelance was completely terrifying.”
Shannon faced her fears, moved from New York to Philly, and picked up freelance work with Urbn for the security and flexibility she needed to focus on properly launching Yowie. Her home, the home of Yowie, is in the Italian Market neighborhood, which Shannon muses, “offers a mix of nostalgia and new blood.” Below, Shannon shares her business advice for starting small, an approach which has paid off. She is excited to announce that a brick-and-mortar location is on the horizon, which means a trip to Philly is on my horizon, as is a hearty basil and kale salad. —Quelcy
Image Above: The living room in Shannon Maldonado’s Philadelphia apartment. She tries to shoot as much content for Yowie’s Instagram account as possible, so she nestles the scraps of seamless paper in the living room in case an idea strikes. “I like that they add another touch of color to my space.”