".. I am flawed and imperfect and that is perfect. I don't come from perfection, nor do I seek it."
Sweetheart and babe Aleksandra Zee is nothing short of an inspiration and Soul Shaper in the creative and fashion worlds. Not only is she multi-talented and insanely gorgeous, but she promotes a bigger message through her woodworking that keeps her audience craving more.
A Southern California native, Aleksandra resides in Oakland with her pup, Jack, and works out of her studio where the magic happens. With nonstop orders, and an intrigued impressive social media following, she has found a deeper purpose and truth from her art that motivates self love, presence, and community within herself. She is a big advocate for women's rights, and is driven to support Planned Parenthood, among other organizations.
Below she shares her journey, thoughts on vulnerability, and how she recommends others find their creativity and motivation.
Shop our limited edition collaboration piece that gives back to Planned Parenthood here.
SOUL SHAPERS: Quick background...
ALEKSANDRA: I'm 30 years old and I grew up in Southern California in Dana Point, right next to the beach. So the ocean has always been such a place of inspiration and rejuvenation for me. I went to school for studio art and immediately got a job working for Anthropologie as a Display Artist in the Bay Area, right out of college. It was through that job that I fell in love with woodworking, and creating with my hands. I learned pretty quickly that I wanted to make a name for myself in the art world. So I quit my job and worked as a waitress for 3 years while I got my business on its feet! Its been an amazing journey and I have so much further to go, and the work gets harder but I love it with all my heart. I am truly living my dreams and I pinch myself every morning when I wake up.
SS: In what ways is the work getting harder?
AL: I'm taking on more challenging projects, the work is definitely getting harder because I'm challenging myself by doing things that are definitely pushing my expertise, so every project I'm gaining a little bit more knowledge and learning more. So they're all definitely harder because I want to challenge myself.
SS: So it's more of a fun thing for you?
AL: Yea, definitely. I mean what's not fun about what I do is wrapping up pieces to ship them (laughs).
SS: That is so crazy, how do you even do that?
AL: Well for the big ones that are about 6' x 3', I have an art handler and I mean that runs upwards of $1,000 to like $1,500. So when they come all I have to do is blanket wrap it and get it into the truck and they drive it, so that's pretty awesome when that happens. But otherwise, I package all of the small ones by myself. I foam wrap them, saran wrap them, build custom boxes, and do it all by myself (laughs). Luckily I just hired someone to help me with that.
SS: What does your art mean to you?
AL: Art has so many meanings to me. It's how you see the world, how you interact with others, how you care for yourself and what you nurture within that ends up flowing out of your soul. My art flows from within and comes though my hands. It is all my interpretation of the world around me.
"...being honest with my heart, and being tender with who I am, what I am working on and that everyone around me is human just like me."
SS: What moves your Soul and gives you motivation to stay inspired and inspire others?
AL: Community within myself, being present and taking in as much as I can moves my soul. Being honest with my heart, and being tender with who I am, what I am working on and that everyone around me is human just like me. That keep me motivated to be inspired, to motivate myself to be better.
SS: What do you mean when you say “community within yourself”?
AL: Kind of being aware and just that connection to the mind, body, soul. I use that a lot actually, being in community within yourself. It's more so like being present and making sure that you're accessing all sides of your being, and striving to be a whole person where you're really in tune with yourself, your thoughts, your body, your actual, physical hands... like what that energy is then transmitting into.. what's going on inside of your heart, inside of your mind.. kind of like this whole full circle thing.
SS: What does Soul mean to you?
AL: Soul is who we truly are, where our creativity is born, where our truest self lives, the most honest pureness of self is our soul.
SS: What are some mindsets or perspectives that carry you through your every day life?
AL: That I am human, I am loved, I am alive. We are so lucky we get to enjoy this life, this short life and I refuse to coast, to be numb, I choose honesty and experiencing it all-- the hard and the extraordinary!
SS: Do you meditate?
AL: Yes I mediate. At times it can be hard to remember to make it a habit but truly nothing calms my soul like sitting with myself and being present. I just recently found a trick that has been working for me, repeating a self mantra over and over as I breathe into my body. I have a really hard time just sitting there and meditating because my mind will wander and repeating a mantra really helps me get rid of all of the noise that's going on outside, and all of the clutter that's in my head.
SS: You are clearly a creative person, and express the link between creativity and soul or freedom, what do you recommend for people who are seeking creativity and that soul connection, but don't necessarily have a craft?
AL: If you're not finding connection through a creative outlet, my number one thing to do is be in nature. You know, challenge yourself with a hike where you have a mantra of putting one foot in front of the other, and then that kind of launches you into this meditation and awareness of your being where you hear your breath, you feel your feet touching the ground, and you're telling yourself to keep going forward. And I think it's that same mantra that I'm doing in the shop when I'm making a big piece just one cut after the other, and being present with my hands, and being present with the movement of the saw— it's exactly the same feeling as when you're pushing yourself up a mountain or whatever trail it is that you're hiking.
SS: You motivate self love and being present, what do you think is the importance of these motives?
AL: To me that is the most important. That is the root to self discovery, the living out who you are fully and honestly. In that you are better in your relationships, better in your offering of creativity, better in community with everyone around you.
SS: What do you think is important about vulnerability?
AL: Gosh, learning how to live in vulnerability is so hard, its about breaking down the walls of fear and judgment, and realizing that the freedom in breaking down those walls is everything. It opens you up so wide to experiencing all that life has to offer, not the the things you think you need. It also opens up the world of relationships with others, allowing yourself to learn from how other people work, think, and offer the world.
SS: How does that help your work?
AL: It helps my work because it keeps my mind open to change, to growth to moving on and forward, not being stuck, not being comfortable... always challenging myself.
SS: Are you associated with any charities?
AL: I have a few organizations that I donate to and am passionate about!.
-The Womans March
SS: What do you hope to achieve in your work? Spiritually, mentally, overall?
AL: I hope to continue to grow, to only seek the happiest most honest version of myself, to be in community with others that believe what I do and inspire me. I believe that if you are open to everything that you can only go up for there. The universe presents you with paths to take and being open to traveling them is what I am here to do.
"Encourage yourself-- you are who you are stuck with forever, be your biggest fan. Learn to embrace it all."
SS: If someone is feeling discouraged or down, how would you advise them in getting present again, and getting their spark back to stay confident in what they are creating /doing, or finding it for the first time? -
AL: Mantras. Give yourself a saying that you know deep down is true. I am loved, I am here, I am alive. Reminding yourself that you have purpose, that you are beautiful and you are changing the world just by existing. Encourage yourself-- you are who you are stuck with forever, be your biggest fan. Learn to embrace it all.
SS: What is the number one message you hope to convey to your customers and readers, through the discovery of you and your journey of woodworking?
AL: Truly my message is about honesty and that I am human, that I work hard at my craft, and that I care about what I do with everything inside of me.. that living out your dreams is possible, that I am flawed and imperfect and that is perfect. I don't come from perfection, nor do I seek it.
SS: Who's Soul do you think you've helped shape lately?
AL: Right now I am feeling pretty good about inspiring the younger generation and teaching that you can do what you want-- showing that you can reach your dreams and you are more than capable of doing it!
Aleksandra's recommended "Soul Shaping" Tool:
The Artist's Way
Shop our limited edition collaboration piece that gives back to Planned Parenthood here.