Meet Braina Laviena.
Photographer, visual artist, and advocate for self love and body positivity.
How did your upbringing in Puerto Rico allow for your creativity to flourish?
Both my parents were very encouraging of me and my sister's creativity growing up. My mom had an arts and crafts store, so she really taught us to work with our hands; paint, cut wood, wrapping, to sew, work with flowers, all of it. My dad worked with electronics & computers so he gave us that curiosity, of understanding how things work, breaking things open and putting them back together. He also did videography so there was an introduction for me of many cameras.
I think I grew up in a pretty creative environment. Apart from my household, Puerto Rico being so small and the artistic community so tight, everyone encourages it around you and never tries to limit you to one thing, everyone who works in arts in Puerto Rico pretty much know each other and it's very common to cross paths creatively.While I was in university I actually worked with a jewelry designer for a couple of years, that's where my deep love of jewelry comes from, from doing it first hand, seeing all that goes into it, especially the detail it requires.
Tell us about your photography work with Andrew Echeverria. Any new projects on the go?
Andrew is my boyfriend, we live together and have 3 cats :) We met on Tinder about three years ago now, and we hit if off immediately. At the time I was living in a loft downtown and I had pretty much no furniture so I had it set up as a photo studio, we started doing editorials together and it was very natural for us to create together so we decided to keep doing it.
When I was young and I'd watch fashion TV or read magazines, I never really saw anyone who looked like me, so I truly never thought I could be a model until I just decided to do it because I enjoyed it so much. When I started it was still hard for me, and I got turned down so many times, but I didn't give up.
5 facts people may not know about you
- I used to imitate Shakira, which led me to belly dancing, which was such a big part of my life until university.
- I went to school for Advertising & Journalism
- Koalas are my favorite animals but I have never seen one in real life.
- I have been vegetarian since I was 13 years old, so 15 years, and now vegan for 2 years.
- My favorite food are plantains cooked in any way possible; mofongo, tostones, soup, you name it, I love it :)