As part of our longstanding goal to increase diversity within our brand and business, we introduced “the future series”, a limited-edition collection of coco go 3-in-1 bouncers featuring the designs of black artists (who are also parents!) and benefiting Embrace Race, which fights systemic racism.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling the talents behind the designs, starting with Simonair Yoho, the print designer & illustrator behind the colorful brand Kafi Kafi Co. Find out more about this inspiring mom of two, and how her “hope” design was created with a brighter future in mind.
Tell us about you. Why did you become a designer?
I have always loved creating! Growing up in the Virgin Islands, items weren’t as accessible as they are today. If I wanted something unique, I had to create the look myself. I started designing out of necessity. I pursued a career in design because I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
When I heard about the Future project, I got excited! To be able to create a design that reflects my vision of the future is a wonderful opportunity. Even more important is the fact that this project is spotlighting black designers. We don’t see our faces enough in the design space and it is crucial that this changes.
How does being a parent impact your work? How does it make you design differently or work differently?
As a parent of two little girls, there is always something to do. It’s hard to designate long periods of time to one task. I’ve learned to work efficiently in short increments of time. This goes for my design work as well. A sketchbook has always been important and even more so now. As design ideas come to my mind, I document it with a rough sketch. When time allows, generally after the kid’s bed time, I can then revisit the idea and solidify a design.
Why is diversity in design so important to you? How can we work harder to highlight the work of black designers and how can we encourage more young black artists?
When I was a design student I quickly realized that in many of my classes I was the only black person in the room. When it was time for internship placements, there were no black designers on the list of potential mentors. This upset me. Design should reflect the world that we live in. It’s a diverse planet! To recognize the work of only one set of people suggests that the others don’t exist. As we all know, that isn’t the case. Diversity in design allows creativity to thrive and inspires the next generation of designers.
Highlighting black designers means more than just a novelty post. It means that your roster of designers should include black faces. Actively working to make this a reality is important.
The Future Project is all about elevating diversity in design, and particularly black designers. Who are some black designers we should know about right now?
What’s most important to you when you’re buying products for your children?
Safety and aesthetic! I absolutely need both!
What do you hope your children understand or remember most about your work?
I hope my girls can see the fun and happiness in my work. Whether it be designing a print, sketching an illustration or my new found love of clay, I have fun in the process of creating. My hope is that it brings them joy as well.
The coco go is made for a multi-tasking parent. What advice would you give to a new parent who’s trying to get it all done?
Prioritize! Do the most important things and don’t beat yourself up if the non important items don’t get done right away or ever.
Tell us about your design for the coco go Future Series. What were you envisioning when you came up with the design concept and how does it signify your vision for the future?
I dream in colour and in flowers, so a colourful floral was a must. As I think of the future, one word always comes to mind - HOPE! I hope for a future that is brighter than today and that accepts the beauty of all. In my print I feature the plum blossom. This was chosen because, as the blossom of a fruit bearing tree, it symbolizes hope. The colour palette is bright and colourful. Simply put, my print represents hope for a brighter and more colourful future.
What is your own vision for the future for your children, particularly in respect to racial equality?
My vision for my girls is that they will be able to live the life they want to live with the differences in race celebrated and not used as a means to divide. I want them to be able to navigate this world without racial barriers.