Interview with Yvonne of Under the Yew Tree
This week we welcome Yvonne from Under the Yew Tree! Yvonne had been living and travelling around South America and also spent her time uncovering local artisans. Want to know more about her? Read on!
Buenos Dias! I’m Yvonne and I am a part time Graduate student and a full time travel writer and blogger. I hail from the largely unknown city of Mississauga [right next to Toronto] and am the founder of Under the Yew Tree, a website about travel, fashion, food and green living in Central and South America. My inspiration to start Under the Yew Tree came after I spent one year living in Santiago de Chile and I dream of one day backpacking across South America. But until then I plan on finishing my travel memoir, carry on travel writing and continue to experiment with social media here and there.
You currently live in Santiago de Chile. How has your personal style changed since the move? How much of it was influenced by your local travels?
I actually am not living in Santiago anymore, I moved back to Mississauga for the time being due to money issues and an impending thesis defence date. My personals style has been deeply influenced by my time spent living abroad, specifically in Panama City, Bocas del Toro, Paris and Santiago. Whenever I am in a different country, I love to shop local and embrace local trends. Unfortunately Santiago is not very fashion-forward so my personal style did not change until I went to Buenos Aires for a month in June 2013. Buenos Aires is often referred to as the Paris of South America and the streets are brimming with local shops and markets chock full of beautifully crafted jewellery and clothing. All in all, my time South America has definitely made me fall in love (once again) with accessories – the designs, colours and originality is quite breath-taking.
Given you’ve lived there for one year, we want to know. What’s in your bag? How has it evolved from the beginning of your travels?
First off I’ve learned that less is more. After one year I realized that a good chunk of my suitcase was filled with clothes and shoes that I had only worn only a handful of times. The main reasons that didn’t wear those items was because #1 they weren’t THAT comfortable #2 they weren’t versatile. For example, my sky high black stiletto Steve Madden shoes are gorgeous but walking in them on cobblestone streets in Santiago was a complete nightmare. Consequently, I often ditched them for flats. My experience in Santiago definitely taught me to pack smarter for my next trip! Lastly, instead of shopping for clothes I often opted for accessories as they can definitely add a punch to your outfit without adding bulk to your suitcase.
What would you say is your essential or favourite travel outfit?
Anything that merges style and comfort paired with some devilishly cosy Birkenstocks.
What is the one thing you regret not bringing with you?
Warm clothes! I arrived in Santiago in the middle of winter and I foolishly believed that it wouldn’t be THAT cold. The problem with Santiago is many buildings (including hostels) do not have central heating systems – sometimes it is colder inside the building instead of outside! Always be prepared for anything, including cold and hot weather.
What would you say are the big lessons you’ve learnt from all your packing and travelling?
Packing is definitely an art and it can take years to master – I still don’t have it down pat! In fact, I am a chronic over-packer. Every time I pack I seem to convince myself that “oh, I am SURE that I’ll wear this [insert useless item here] on my trip.” Although I pack those items, I don’t end up wearing them and they take up space in my already crammed luggage. My advice would be to invest in some stylish and versatile travel-friendly pieces that can transition easily, such as day to night or city sightseeing to jungle trekking.
Part of your blog is also dedicated to finding and promoting local crafts/ jewellery/ fashion and styles. What has been your favourite find so far?
Yes! I love uncovering local talent and I have to say that I found an amazing company called Incomun Arte from Brazil. The founder, Thais Rocha, uses polymer clay to craft sensational jewellery pieces inspired by Mother Nature. In reality, I have so many favourites from Brazil, Chile and Argentina; most of the time I found these amazing artisans at local craft stores or marketplaces. The best souvenirs that I have ever purchased overseas was at outdoor artisan markets [like this one in Buenos Aires] so I recommend that travellers always take some time to shop local wherever they go.
What kinds of fashion ‘disasters’ or fashion emergencies have you faced before?
I hate shopping for jeans so when I find a pair I love, I just keep re-purchasing that size and brand over and over again. I came back to Canada for a month in December and right before my trip to back to Santiago I decided to purchase a brand new pair of GAP jeans. The first time I put them on in Chile, the zipper broke. I had only brought one pair of jeans with me and I had to wear shorts/skirts (thank god it was summer) until I could get them repaired. I don’t know what I would have done if it was winter-time! This experience taught me to always have a back-up of some staple items (like jeans) just in case.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to travel stylishly?
Research, research and research. There are so many designers/brands out there that have branched out and now offer travel gear that is stylish and travel-friendly. Invest in key pieces, especially in a good pair of travel shoes, and look for pieces that can be used in multiple settings. If you have limited luggage space than pack neutral pieces and add style through colourful scarves, necklaces, earrings or belts.
Thanks very much Yvonne for the fun interview! Want to know more about her? Check her out at Under The Yew Tree