Monday, August 13, 2012

Spotlight on our Summer Creatives: Meet Jen Penaflor and Matt Aceino


Jennifer Penaflor initially wanted to venture off to India with Nomi Program Managers to transform the lives of women through innovation and design. Yet, her ease and grace in style and design is contributing to our product development on the stateside. We are encouraged by her passion, and are grateful for her talent and support of our programs to help bring survivor-made products to the marketplace.

NN: Give us some fun background info- anything we wouldn’t know about you that you may want to share?

JP: As creative a person I am, I have an obsession with the history of New York City. The development, its progression, changes and what still remains. I love looking at historical photographs and hearing stories from those who have lived in the city for years and actually got to experience the changes.

NN: How did you hear about Nomi Network? What motivated you to become involved? 

JP: I heard about Nomi Network through my alma mater, Parsons the New School for Design. I had interviewed for the internship position to actually travel to India but due to other circumstances could not commit to being away for eight months. However, I felt very passionate about the mission of Nomi and still wanted to be involved in any way I could while being able to stay in the city. I am a very helpful and caring person and I always strive to find things to do that I know will benefit others rather than myself. So Nomi Network is a great organization that allows me to do these things while working with great people that have the same drive and passion.

NN: As a designer, where do you find your inspiration?

JP: I tend to find my inspiration from old books, art, textiles, and different experiences in life.

NN: How does your experience in fashion, art and design help Nomi Network combat trafficking?

JP: I feel that my experience in fashion helps Nomi Network combat trafficking because I am able to contribute my knowledge to these women in India that are looking for a way out of trafficking as a way of life. By designing products for them to hand make, they are given a job that gets them out of sex trafficking and into an environment where they can hone valuable skills they can use now and in the future.

NN: What is your favorite part about being on Nomi's team?

JP: My favorite part about the Nomi team is the sense of family. Everyone is very caring and genuine. It is great to work with people like them.

NN: What is your dream project or design for Nomi Network (this can be a product, project, or anything else)? 

JP: My dream project for Nomi Network is to be able to design a whole collection of accessories on my own.

NN: If you could travel anywhere in the world and start a Nomi Network program, where would it be?

JP: I would like to travel South America and start a Nomi Network program there.

Having just graduated with a major in graphic design, Matt Aceino heard about Nomi Network’s need for design interns and offered his talents.

NN:  Give us some fun background info- anything we wouldn’t know about you that you may want to share?

MA: Before getting into the graphic design world, I had a huge passion for food. It was actually one of my earliest passions as a kid. I was very close to taking a completely different route with my education and attending culinary school in New York City and abroad in Italy for training. Even though I decided not to attend I still love to cook and consider myself a huge foodie, appreciating all different cultures and foods. 

NN: How did you hear about Nomi Network? What motivated you to become involved?

MA: I heard about Nomi Network through a friend who attends a church in NYC. They told me that some representatives from Nomi came to speak there and were expressing a need for help in the graphic design area. At the time I was still in school but I immediately felt excited about the possibility of working with them. The issue of human trafficking was something already close to my heart so once I heard they were searching for help, the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit together mysteriously as they often do in life. 

NN: As a designer, where do you find your inspiration?

MA: Inspiration comes from so many different places for me personally. I'll find it when I least expect it and from something so simple. Aside from browsing the internet for inspiration, music is a huge inspiration for me. I surround myself with music in all areas of my life and often get lost in it. I connect very deeply with the melodies and sounds, so when something moves me, I'm inspired to be creative. 

NN: How does your experience in fashion, art and design help Nomi Network combat trafficking?

MA: I think we are culture driven by image and fashion mainly, for better or for worse. I consider myself lucky to be able to draw from that and create visually compelling pieces of art or clothing that will not only get people to buy, but make people want to know more about what they're buying. Ultimately, I aim to combat the world of trafficking by getting people excited and motivated to do something about it by simply creating something that looks "cool."

NN: What is your favorite part about being on Nomi's team? 

MA: My favorite part about being on the Nomi team is knowing that everyone is working for the same cause. It's true teamwork in action. In a world of everyone fending for themselves, it's nice to have that atmosphere of teamwork and support. 

NN: What is your dream project or design for Nomi Network (this can be a product, project, anything you can think of)?

MA: I don't think I'm a "dream project" kind of guy in this particular situation. I honestly get more pleasure out of just being able to do anything at all. Whatever the next project that needs to be done, I'll take it. 

NN: If you could travel anywhere in the world and start a Nomi Network program, where would it be?

MA: I think I would travel to Russia because I know how much a serious need there is there for human trafficking relief. 

- Lisa Kim

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