“You’re given this life to live, and not to just exist”
Behind a desk near a window in a straight-backed chair, at this very moment, Yokoo Gibraan is likely crocheting, watching and old Hitchcock film and sipping tea out of an oversized hand-thrown ceramic mug. She might avert her gaze to the songbirds in a nearby tree and contemplate the resounding question of why anyone’s two feet might dwell on this planet, all while running her six-figure, one-woman online emporium.
In spite of such domestic and docile habits, Yokoo’s life is nothing less than momentous.
Her magnificent monetary and cultural success comes from her self-titled Etsy shop Yokoo, where she sells both her signature chunky, oversized knitwear and more self-explorative pieces, namely crisp aprons, hand-painted ceramic necklaces and prints of her annual self-portraits. She complements each piece with its own quirky title, including but not limited to the “Soopascarf” (a seven-foot-long monolith of wool), the “Nonsensical Bobble Hat” topped with oversized pom-poms, and “Not Your Mother’s Pearls”, consisting of an oversized string of spherical ceramic beads. While some of her trademark hats, scarves and cowls remain perpetually in her online shop, Yokoo adds some time-sensitive intrigue with special items, including a “Noah’s Ark” necklace strung with small animal carvings, carefully crocheted Peter Pan collars, and the occasional weaving. What keeps her customers interested, after falling in love with Yokoo’s unique sensibility and modus operandi, is her evolution, and watching the nature of her work change as she changes.
“My work is a direct reflection of my personality. Work to me isn’t hard, it’s not trite, you know, it’s who I am. I think what’s hard is going against a current, trying to be something else.”
“The philosophy of change is pivotal to my life as an artist”
While Yokoo may be making herself a nest egg with cozy knitwear, she has far from sold out, and thoroughly documents her aesthetic shifts and growing artistic inclinations. She remains active on a wide range of social media, but has accrued around 66,900 followers on her Instagram account. On that and Tumblr, she posts her brilliant photographs, often modeling her own work and taking each photograph herself. Notably, she composes each photograph with impeccable attention to detail, making sure everything is “just so”. She, before she became a full-time crafter, started out as a fashion photographer, and that same proclivity towards photography and cinematography. Among other things, she has created a short film featuring her own choreography entitled Ode, shot on her own Atlanta street and in a distinct cinematic widescreen.
“Everything I do started with photography, with my love for movies and cinema."
Even with her diligence in knitting and her exploration in art, somehow Yokoo squeezes in the time for her pocket-sized words of wisdom:
“When you create art from the need to be loved, you do your best”
(quotes taken from Etsy's Handmade Portrait, Vice Magazine, and @yokoogibraan on Instagram)