Jelena Cikoja Talks Creative Freedom & Self Care

Engineer-turned-influencer (and co-founder!) Jelena Cikoja always has somewhere to be or someone to meet. In between her busy life as a businesswoman and IG it-girl, we caught up with Jelena to talk about typical workdays, her current inspiration, and her self-care regime. You can follow Jelena here, and scroll down to read her SG-exclusive interview.

You have your own brand, Abeona NYC, in addition to being a successful influencer. What does your typical day at work look like?
Yes! With creating my own brand I fulfilled a childhood dream. Every morning it’s my first priority to check all new orders, print the labels, pack the phone cases and add a handwritten note 🙂 While taking my dog for a walk I drop off the packages at the post office. Then I work through my emails which is my least favorite part, haha! Once that is done I either shoot collabs or my boyfriend and I just plan a fun rest of our day and take some photos along the way. I’m a night owl and work best when I should actually be in bed. I select and edit the photos we took during the day and plan my feed. 
Who on Instagram is inspiring you right now?
Honestly, I have today it’s someone new every day.. some days it’s my beautiful friends like @claartjerose or @nycbambi and some days I love going through the explorer page and see what catches my eye.
What do you do for self-care?
Here are three things I love doing: 
1. Working out is like meditation to me. I do classes like yoga, pilates or barre and it somehow feels like a mix of switching into autopilot and being 100% connected to my own breath and body. 
2. Airplane mode on when I’m walking my dog. Spending time outside in nature and playing with an animal is so powerful and healing. I do pull my phone out sometimes, but just to take photos or videos. after 30-45 min of doing so, I feel so recharged and I’m happy my fur baby had some good exercise.
3. Preparing my own food. It might seem ridiculous to some but I enjoy making (and eating!) my own acai bowl so much. But no matter what kind of meal I make, when making it from scratch I know what’s inside, I personally think it tastes better and I feel like it nourishes my body better simply because I appreciate what I have in front of me more so than just grabbing a bite on the go.
What’s your favorite city to visit?
Uh, hard question. I love Paris because the streets, all coffee shops, and restaurants look like out of a romantic movie. And Cape Town, because of its good food, incredible light, and magical landscapes. But Copenhagen and Sydney have been high up on my bucket list and I know I will love them both so much. End of the year I will actually move to Australia for 3 months so I can finally check off the list 🙂
What is your favorite thing about your job?
The favorite thing about this job is the freedom it gives me. Creative freedom, freedom to work from wherever I want, the freedom of being myself and connecting with people all over the world.
If you could wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A flowy silk dress, sneakers, and a hoodie, since I tend to get cold quickly haha.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Sometimes you have to be the first to believe in yourself. Take action and work hard and you will be the one to make your dreams come true.

Words by Kate Sullivan