5 Aug 2021
Life & Culture

A Reflection About Bold Beginnings With Tonya Mas and Cyra Gwynth

Every success story starts with a vision that gives the creator the drive to achieve the impossible. Bulldog gin supports bold beginnings, that’s why in collaboration with this bold gin, we portrayed four ambassadors with four upcoming creatives to have a heart-to-heart chat about their bold beginnings. Today, we introduce you to our first duo of this new series; entrepreneur and founder of CFÉ Belgium Tonya Mas and singer Cyra Gwynth.

What have you both been up to these last few weeks now that things are opening up again?

Tonya: Well, I eat a lot. (laughs) I’ve been busy working on new projects. I’m working on a campaign for my boyfriend Chuki Beats, and I’m very excited because it’s my first time doing a campaign for someone else.

It’s nice that we get a busy schedule now after a long time of being stuck at home. Do you think that being home has limited you in being creative, or was it a nice way to discover new aspects of your creativity?

Cyra: For me, it had two sides. On the one hand, it was very difficult to be creative in my own house; I didn’t find the motivation to work from home when it was a total lockdown. I was watching series the whole time and doing nothing at all. But on the other hand, I feel blessed that it happened because, at the same time, I feel like I missed socializing with a lot of people. I struggled with a bit of social anxiety before, but I feel like it’s getting better now because I’ve missed it so much to be in touch with other people. So it’s like a curse and a blessing at the same time.

As a performer, you get to be on stage and connect with people in real life; did you miss having that connection, or do you like the aspect of being home and getting feedback via messages and taking your time to be responsive on social media?

Cyra: That’s a really hard one because I think I have two sides. I like to be alone and have me-time all the time, but I like socializing as well. I definitely missed performing in front of people because I’ve had a few performances during the lockdown, and it’s so weird to perform without people; you can’t feel the vibe.

You have to fend for yourself. 

Cyra: Yeah, exactly, and then at the end of the song, there’s no sound, and you’re like, “Okay, let’s go to the next one.” It’s really …

It’s impersonal, maybe?

Cyra: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s really two sides: I like it, but I also missed people around me.

And how is it for you to run a business in these times, Tonya? Do you think people have changed their way of consuming?

Tonya: Yeah, because before the lockdown, I was refocusing my business. I don’t like running a clothing webshop where I just have to sell sell sell. I don’t want to run a webshop with thirty styles, so before lockdown, I was like, “I’m going to work in limited drops so that I can focus my creativity on these drops until they’re sold out, and I can focus on the next thing.”

Then lockdown came, and everybody was switching to that type of selling, and people really welcomed this new way of working. I love how many businesses grew out of lockdown and how many people became independents with their creativity and talents and started their little website. People are more like: “I’m not going to buy this T-shirt from Zara or a big company. I’m gonna buy it from my friend or the friend of my friend.” That’s a big switch, and I love that.

As an entrepreneur or singer do you think that you have influenced other people in being an entrepreneur or a musician?

Cyra: I really love to inspire people. There are a lot of people that send me messages to ask my opinion on their music, tips on how I started, and how it was as an independent artist: I love that. I really love that people see an opening to talk to me about that and that they also feel inspired thanks to my music.

And is there a way you want to inspire people, or does it just come naturally? 

Cyra: Yeah, I’m really just myself and try not to copy. I do get inspired by other artists, but I always strive to be myself in music. I think that’s something that people appreciate about my music and about me as an artist.

Tonya, you started as a singer, and now you are a fashion designer. What inspired you to make that change?

Tonya: Basically, when I started when I was seven, (laughs) it was my big dream to be a singer-dancer. (laughs) And I did that; I just followed my heart, and I think I did it pretty well. I made my own songs, and I shared my message, and it worked because it was so pure—there was no reason behind it. But then, when I was twelve, I was like, “Okay, I did this, but I don’t know if I still want to do music.” So I tried to find myself. I love music, but I think that chapter is closed.

I like doing campaigns and work on projects, and I started my brand as a project, not as a fashion designer. I launched my own store, so this was actually a side project for me next to college, and it turned out well. It’s always creativity and going from an idea or passion and turning it into a real career. It’s something in me that is not fixed.

And is there someone or something specific that has inspired you to make that shift?

Tonya: Actually, my dad. He used to do campaigns for big brands, and he was so creative and had the biggest imagination, and was so driven.

It’s infectious.

Tonya: Yeah, and I have to say, people who knew my dad will say to me, “We see your dad in you,” so I got it from my dad. (laughs) He inspired me, but I also inherited it from him.

And where does your passion come from, Cyra? Were you always a dancer and singer?

Cyra: Always yeah. I started singing when I was five or six years old because in the Filipino culture, singing and dancing are super popular; we always do it at parties, so it’s really in our culture. When I was a bit older—like nine or ten—I really started to dance in front of my mirror and imagining that I was on stage with a lot of people. It’s always been a huge dream to be on stage just vibing with an audience.

And the last question is maybe the most difficult one: based on your own story, what kind of advice would you give to someone else?

Cyra: Just believe in yourself and be yourself, and don’t let anyone else say something else. Don’t listen to people that don’t believe in you because at the end of the day, you’re alone in this. You’re the one that needs to believe.

And you know yourself the best as well. 

Cyra: Yeah, that’s the thing; just find yourself and do you.

Tonya: I wanted to say the same: believe in yourself, and you know best what you want to do. Everybody’s going to have an opinion, but you are doing it, so you know best what you want to do. Stay focused and love yourself, and do you, exactly. Thank you, Cyra.

Thanks for the interview, girls! Let’s cheers with a Bulldog gin and tonic. 

— make sure to check out our Instagram for a video with Tonya and Cyra —

Tonya is wearing a full look from Vetements. Cyra is wearing a Reconstruct Collective dress and Simmi shoes.

Photography and video direction by Matias Batallé
Production and art direction by ENFNTS TERRIBLES Studio, Dries Vriesacker
Styling by Kate Housh
Makeup and hair by Emma Catry
Production assistant: Isa De Boeck
Styling assistants: Lyncia Froidmont, Lauryn Vanhaverbeke, Iman Majid
Makeup assistant: Sarah Carlier
director: Aitana Del Sol

Interview by Maxim Meyer-Horn

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