Karina De Jesus, Founder, Haus Agency
Karina is one of the people who would make you feel instantly welcome at her space, and I’ll earnestly admit I’ve been a bit enamored with her. A Latvian Native, Karina now resides in New York, while running her business, Haus Agency. Below we chatted with her about life and her takeaways during this moment of pause. Get to know Karina @karina.dejesus and @hausagency.
1. As a bit of background, can you share more about who you are and your path that takes you to where you are now?
I was born and raised in Latvia. During high school, I was working as an interpreter for missionary groups from the U.S. During my senior year, there was a group that came for a short three-day program. At that time, I had a dream of going to school in the U.S. after high school. However, I knew this dream was out of reach for me, so I put it in God’s hands. I distinctly remember saying, “I can’t do this, but YOU can do anything so I’ll leave this up to You”. I let go of this prayer until a lady I met on my second day translating for this group asked me what I wanted to do after high school. I told her about my American dream and she told me she knew a way to get me there. This woman and her husband paid for my flight to Cleveland, OH, my visa, and my tuition for a year. I lived with them, they gave me a car, and took me on trips across the U.S. They were actually the ones who took me to NYC for the first time. After one year in Ohio, I decided I wanted to stay and finish college, so I figured it out and stayed. After college I moved to New York. It was all a miracle, and whenever I tell this story I’m reminded that nothing is impossible with God.
2. I know you are originally from Latvia: how does moving/ living in New York shape your way of living?
While I’m forever grateful for my experience in Ohio, I never really felt like it was for me long term. Growing up I was always a city kid. Even though the town where I was raised was small, it had a very reliable city infrastructure - restaurants, public transportation, culture, easy to walk around and find things to do. When I moved to NYC after college, I immediately felt at home because in some ways NYC reminded me of my hometown, just bigger. The energy of the city has inspired and challenged me, and fulfilled my dreams in a lot of ways.
3. When did you know a career in fashion was for you?
It wasn’t until I was in college. I was studying Business Administration and International Business, and was working at Urban Outfitters (I was also working at the school library and the fitness center. It was a BUSY time). My manager at UO introduced me to fashion blogging and I decided to take a leap into it. I never fully committed to fashion blogging, but one thing lead to another, and I decided to start a business in fashion.
4. What does a day in your life look like?
This summer I’ve been waking up around 6am pretty much every morning. My apartment is very bright which really helps to start my day early. Every morning looks very much the same – I make tea and spend time with my God. Read the Bible, pray, listen, dream, journal. This really sets the tone for my day and for my life. After that I do a quick work-out. I hate wasting time commuting to the gym, so I always work out at home or go for a run. I like to catch up on podcasts while working out and then I’m ready to start my work day by 9 am.
Even before our new normal of WFH, most of my days consisted of a lot of emailing. During market, four times a year, I meet with buyers in person which is a welcome break from the computer screen. I love building relationships with the people I work with, seeing the human side of them, sharing what’s really on our minds. These days we’d have to do it virtually over Zoom. It’s not the same but the beauty of human nature is that we’re extremely adaptable and, I believe there will be a lot of positive change that will come out of this time.
I don’t eat breakfast so by lunch time I’m starving. I eat pretty much the same thing for lunch every day – some type of oatmeal, most days savory with a little sauerkraut and steamed kale.
I find it harder to focus in the afternoon, so scheduling most of my calls / meetings for the afternoon allows me to have uninterrupted work flow in the morning. Afternoon calls re-energize me and are generally more fun than emailing for hours. I feel like it’s a good way to end the day.
Evenings are for friends and / or good books.
5. This is certainly a moment loaded with a lot of moments to pause and take personal inventory: What are some of your biggest learnings or takeaways from the last 3 months?
1. Definitely to listen and seek to understand. Believe and have compassion when someone is sharing their suffering. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
2. Have patience with myself and my progress. I wrote a short essay about my COVID-19 experience. One of my main takeaways was to rest when needed and have less goals for myself, and instead focus on the activities that bring the most valuable results.
3. As humans, we are incredibly adaptable and resilient. We grieve, we grow, and we move forward. I don’t want to go back to the old normal. I want to reinvent, I want something better for the humanity in the long term.