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Deva America of Fresh Pastry Strand has cornered the market on beautiful tea towels, and all natural soy candles. Her shop speaks volumes for how much pride she takes in every product she offers. Founded in 2012 offering vintage pastry stands, the brand has grown so much in a mere four years and now offers totes, aprons, bracelets, magnets, tea towels and candles.  

Q: First things first, let’s get the basics. Where are you from? Zodiac sign? The least favorite hairstyle you’ve had?

I am a Jersey Girl gone south. I moved to Florida in 2007 and have been in Gainesville since 2013. While I have a lot of NJ nostalgia and miss my folks and friends, Gainesville is definitely home. My favorite things about this small town are the locally made tempeh, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and a 9 month summer. I am a Capricorn, true and true. I would definitely describe myself as hair-experimentation-positive so I’ll say my least favorite hairstyle was the interim of growing out my Bic razor shaved head a couple of years back. Lots of awkward moments--like the time I attended a cancer fundraiser and people were giving me the fist bumps and telling me to keep on fighting. 

Q: How do you prefer to read? A hardcover book on your lap, audiobook or reading with a tablet?

Reading! I love a great wi-fi connection and do most and all my reading online, either on my laptop or phone. I adore reading and as a kid I read every cereal box and women's magazine my mom had in the house. I did go through a strong "book" period from my mid-teens to early twenties but, ever since becoming a mom in 2003, have reverted back to shorter doses of prose. The New York Times, NPR, Buzzfeed, Jezebel and The Wall Street Journal are my daily routine. Also, I thoroughly read my Facebook feed multiple times a day. I see it as modern folklore. So basically, I am all about reading brief news articles, memes and quizzes that deduce my age from my favorite Olivia Benson hairstyle.

Q: One thing you can’t live without.

Vegan Mayo. I'm gross like that.

Q: Last thing you binge-watched on Netflix.

Difficult People.

Q: What’s the one piece of advice for anyone wanting to build their own brand you wish you were told in the beginning?

Be careful who you take advice from. There is a lot of general business advice out there that is probably applicable to all or most but in the end, you have to know your own product and your own market. Over the years I have taken advice from friends who are successful at their own businesses. Their advice didn't always turn out to be the best course of action for me to follow. In the end, I realized they are experts in their own fields and I need to become an expert in mine. Starting your own brand really is like having a baby. You will get tons of well-intentioned, unsolicited advice from people who are emphatically passionate that you are doing it wrong and they have a better way. But ultimately, this is your brand, your baby. You are responsible for it's health and welfare. 

Q: Every business owner has that moment that gives them the warm and fuzzies and completely reminds them what their purpose is. What was yours?

Recently, I was set up at a craft show in Atlanta and a woman saw my "Bitch" tea towel and was super psyched. She bought it to wear as a head wrap. That's the kind of thing that keeps me excited about my work. Customers who add their own creativity to my products. They use the tea towels as kitchen curtains, mounted and framed as wall art, even to cover chair cushions. But this was the first time someone was going to wear it on her head!

Q: Favorite Movie? Food? Curse word? 90’s Jam?

Favorite movie is Rocky IV. Favorite food is the steamed dumplings at Yuan Fu Vegetarian in Rockville, Maryland. Fave curse word is definitely fuck and all it's variations. Favorite 90's jam is Two Princes by Spin Doctors. There is no shame in that.

Q: If you could bring back one canceled TV show back to the airwaves, what would it be?

Benson.

Q: Would you say you are more of a Broad or a Jones?

#TeamJesus #TeamNorah

Q: Let’s say it’s the end of civilization as we know it, and you know you’re going to be stranded on an island for the rest of your life. What three albums would you bring with you?

This is a really tough one for me. I am more of a Spotify Radio/Greatest Hits kind of person. Assuming this is a tropical island, I am going to spend all of my time drinking coconut water and working out. Because when the Destiny's Child rescue helicopter comes to get me, I'm gonna have abs like Kelly Rowland. So basically, I need tracks I can move to and, essentially, shout profanities while I shadowbox like Chad le Clos, but the first place version. Kanye's The College Dropout, Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP and Nicki Minaj's Roman Reloaded. I dunno. Maybe I will have enough time to burn some cd's before the apocalypse. If so, I'm adding Kendrick Lamar, Ludacris, Biggie, Rihanna, Weezy, Dolly Parton, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode. Basically, if the end of the world doesn't have Spotify, I need not live. 

Q: What was the one character trait about yourself that was the hardest, but most empowering to embrace? 

I used to live with regret about choices I’ve made. But then I realized I could make different choices.

 

August 19, 2016 by Jessica Evans

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