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Living as a social entrepreneur before it was a fad, and thankful it has become one!

 

Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” -Victor Pinchuk

Businessman and philanthropist

Yabette Swank

Artists are solution oriented. I was and still am working with my eyes to the future in leadership, vision, and ethics. 

During my coming-of-age decade, while at the music program on a piano scholarship at The University of Akron in Ohio, I realized electronic music ignited my passion. The cutting edge of that was in live performance. I became a core member of a cohort of artists bringing the exploding rave scene of New York and West Coast to Ohio for large outdoor festivals. I started my PLUS 'zine documenting the scene as I travelled around the country performing live music.

 

I was one of the few women programming sequencers and performing live. I finished the 90's as the only female in my class of audio engineers where a crusty old  teacher there once referred to a weak signal as 'girly' at The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences in Mesa, AZ. (That was just a drop of the misogyny I faced that decade in the music industry, though I also had great interactions with men who were not that). I achieved a full studio album and released it with German business partner, Uwe Vetter, along with a drum & bass "mt. zion e.p." on vinyl.

 

During this time, I also found my personal spirituality freedom from the strict religious fundamentalist school I attended. I explored mysticism, kundalini yoga, shamanism, and hustled hemp rope accessory creations, positive vibes t shirts, and taught myself the basics of graphic design.

Next chapter was San Francisco. The glory of finding so much community in fat politics, LGBTQIA, Burning Man artists, Fashion scene, diversity and more was the playground of love I had always wanted! I worked in indie film editing until 9-11 hit and that work slowed.

 

Meanwhile, I birthed a child, and started a bricks n mortar store, Swankety Swank, based on locally made artisan accessories and clothing with a gallery of my upcycled, painted furniture, wearable art clothing and vintage fabric bags. I was continually educating people with a blog about conscious consumerism, sustainability and shopping local as a means to keep economy thriving. I took "Think Globally, Act Locally" to heart and lived it every day.

 

Swankety Swank grew into a bigger location and I added more artists and clothing designers, a daily tarot reader, and a baby grand piano. I saw it as my atmospheric  installation art piece, and social experiment. Could I  operate a place that gave many artists a steady paycheck under the capitalism model (without being a non-profit)? 

 

I did create an award winning cultural gem destination with steampunk events that hosted large crowds of cosplay burners and a wide variety of performances from stand-up comedy & bands to burlesque and butoh dance. I upleveled my 'zine roots and created SwankSpeak! magazine to further proclaim the value of supporting artists and sustainability with people power dollars.

 

Attending night classes at Renaissance Business Center during this time, I ultimately realized it was an unsustainable endeavor.  While everyone else was paid, it was taking all of my time without fair pay. After doing all of this work and still having to pay the shop rent in installments, it hurt my soul.  I closed the shop, depleted emotionally and financially, yet having acquired a hands-on education in what does not work!

2012 came and went. The next several years were healing, recuperation and following my new dream of becoming a fine artist oil painter while unschooling my kid and delving deep into all of the rabbit holes of spirituality, energy, and philosophy. Those years were hard. I was divorced and often depressed. Most of my shop friends disappeared as I became more and more reclusive.

 

I continued to produce my own art shows wherever I could find a place and managed to keep my income flowing, but there were days when I wasn't sure what my kid and I were going to eat for dinner.  I self righteously hated that I had worked towards so much that was "correct" and this was my result. I hated the shame of poverty. I refused to accept it.  

Then I discovered the channelings and teachings of Abraham Hicks and it worked for me! I started manifesting as I worked to hack the scarcity mindset programming I had been brought up with (like most of us!) People were helping me and I accepted the help.  I found myself elated and traveling and made an art book of cafe water colors in Europe, culminating into my fall birthday on the Eiffel Tower just as I had envisioned. I had a series of outrageous and amazing synchronicities that led me to the vision for a rebranded Swankety Swank. 

I went home, released my book and kept painting, but also wrote a new business plan for an all natural clothing line. I determined after careful study that HEMP was where it's at, but it was still illegal to grow here! You could go into a huge local warehouse of fabric and not one roll of hemp would be there. In fact, you'd find about six rolls that were actually all natural organic plain white cotton (maybe).  

 

I researched and went to LA to meet with fashion industry insiders and a year later I had my first shipment and 6 months later, the launch with the Hemp Show happened, despite having no funds to start it with and being turned down for loans and funding proposals.

Then I had a failed Kickstarter, another depressed year, but I kept going and finally nailed my first mass production of hemp fleece loungewear! And I did that during COVID lockdown! I decided to help others and  led a spiritual group that I am currently writing a book about,  which leads me to now, the end of 2020 and a new spiritual alchemy art show.

 

Also, I went back to my live music roots just before COVID with Sunshine Jones' Play Live Workshop, which healed so much of my bitterness from that era and gave me a renewed passion for music making again. 

My story proves that artists can make big impacts with just a modicum of support but we deserve a huge ton more! I am looking forward to bringing more projects to completion with love for myself, my fellow artists, this gorgeous Earth and all of her inhabitants!