South KC native Racquel Rodriguez has always felt her identity was a sort of balancing act.
With an African American mother and a Cuban father, Rodriguez prides herself on her mixed heritage. Growing up as the only daughter in a family with three brothers and later becoming a mother to three sons, she’s always felt a pull between the feminine and the masculine, trying to achieve a perfect yin-yang.
As a marketing strategist for Fox4KC and a fashion model, Rodriguez has her hands in many pots, including creating handmade accessories. She became inspired after attending a Crossroads First Fridays art walk last year and seeing all the different crafts and artwork. She decided it was something she wanted to do, too.
Soon after, she fell into the “dark tunnel” of TikTok and honed her craft by watching countless hours of how-to videos. Through trial and error, this “boy mom” began her next adventure. Rodriguez now makes clay and hand-beaded jewelry, hats, purses and other accessories for her brand Yin Energy, including a purse sported by Brittany Mahomes earlier this fall.
Tell us about your background. I’ve always been a crafty young lady—I love drawing and painting. For Christmas, I always got the fifty-pack marker set with doodle paper. And being the only girl, I couldn’t do the boy things. I just had to do the girl stuff, you know? “You go draw. You go be cute. We go play ball and scuff our knees.”
How did your love of crafts turn into making artisanal products professionally? I went to a First Friday event and the earrings were so pretty. So I obviously went to the dark tunnel of TikTok and started doing research on polymer clay. I bought pasta rolling machines, clay, tools, molds and resin. Fifty batches later, I’m like, “Oh, so this is how they do it.” I started wearing [my earrings] just for myself and people would ask “Where can I buy these?” I went back to Art Garden KC [pop-up markets at various locations], and it’s evolved from just a hobby to a business.
Where did the name Yin Energy come from? I make what’s on my heart. My crafty side just guides me. There’s a yin and yang side of you—I balance myself between the two, but my dominant side is the yang [masculine] side. I’m kind of rough around the edge. Being a boy mom and the only girl, I have that fight in me, that tomboy. But I have my feminine side—I want to be cute, wear bright colors, I want to be soft. I want to have grace, harmony, peace and balance. As I’m putting the effort, energy and the passion into an accessory, I hope to pass that along to the next woman and the next. They can, over time, spread joy, peace and balance by wearing them or gifting them.
To see more products and attend Yin Energy’s next pop-up, follow @yinenergy on Instagram. Shop in-person at Beggar’s Bizarre on Nov. 3 and Merry Market from Nov. 24–26.