Puerto Rico-based knitwear label Yo Mas is the brainchild of artist Joma Segarra. Educated at the The University of Puerto Rico with a degree in art history and gender relations, Segarra has shown her art at exhibits in Puerto Rico several times.
Having learned to crochet at a young age, she launched Yo Mas, a label whose assortment of swimwear and apparel channel the effortless beauty of her native Puerto Rico.
We had a phone conversation with Segarra about her art practice and upcoming developments for Yo Mas. Currently the label is available to order on Instagram with a website launching in September 2020.
Snobette: How did your passion for crochet start?
Segarra: “I was taught to crochet by my grandmother. I learned to crochet before I could read at about six or seven years old.When I gave birth to my daughter three years ago I started making bikinis. That was a way for me to work while taking care of my daughter.”
Snobette: Do you find that you have to choose between your designs and your art practice?
Segarra: “I asked myself the same question. I was in London a few years ago and saw the exhibition of an artist called Befeo, she’s also a woman. She designed jewelry that turned into these giant sculptures and paintings. It made me more conscious of the connection between art and design.
“In the end artists make art to survive.I do what it takes to survive, whether art or fashion, the goal is to maintain integrity in the work. I always incorporate my art into my designs.”
“I have an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Puerto Rico.It will include a performance piece called ‘Ayunara’ about the intersection of fasting and spirituality.”
Snobette: How has COVID-19 impacted your life in Puerto Rico?
Segarra: “We were living in Old San Juan and we moved to Guaynabo recently. We have a little farm that helps us connect to nature, but we’re also very isolated. The political climate in Puerto Rico is very unstable right now. I was keeping up with the news and as my anxiety was rising I decided to disconnect for a little bit.”
Snobette-What is it like creating these intricate pieces by yourself
Segarra: “When I started, about three years ago, I was making the bikinis by hand, and used myself as a model. I started getting lots of orders and could not keep up with the demand. That’s when I decided to hire other women. Childcare is so expensive here, I figured it was a good way to allow women to work in the comfort of their home.”
Snobette: Why did you choose to allow your team to work from home as opposed to having a workshop or factory?
Segarra: “I think that in a factory setting there’s a lot of stress placed on the workers. They have to commute to work and also produce on a tight deadline. Working from home allows them to work in their own environment and still create with some flexibility on when they work.
“As for the designs, since I also wanted to expand the collection into dresses and pants, I traveled to Peru to find environmentally friendly yarns and materials and invested in a knitting machine.
“With Yo Mas I strive to maintain fair label practices and be sustainable. In the end it’s a team effort which is why I called the brand Yo Mas. Yo translate to “me” and mas means “many,” a representation of the collective that allows this brand to exist.”