Jhene Aiko Talks Teva Collection, Finding Social Media Balance

Courtesy of Teva
Jhene Aiko

According to the singer-songwriter, her new sandals collection all started on Instagram.

Singer-songwriter Jhene Aiko may be known for her smooth, soulful vocals, but she's also recognized for having a bohemian spirit, which she captures in her everyday style. Not surprisingly, the 28-year-old beauty already has two clothing collaborations under her belt (she partnered with Lovers + Friends in 2014 and Neff in 2015). But for her latest fashion foray, the L.A. native is focusing on footwear for the first time.

Aiko is teaming up with Teva, known for its Velcro strap sandals, for a summertime-friendly collection that was inspired by the performer's love for travel and exploration. The three-piece sandal range features Aiko's personalized touch, with the patterns inspired by the friendship bracelets she grew up making for her pals and siblings. With prices starting at $60, the Teva x Jhene Aiko collection is now available at Teva.com.

But first, Pret-a-Reporter chatted with Aiko to find out how the collab came about, her favorite travel destinations (so far) and how she balances her privacy on social media.

Tell us about how this collaboration started with Teva.

I basically discovered Teva on a trip to Hawaii, and I was looking for a hiking sandal because, you know, it's hot in Hawaii and it didn't make sense for me to get hiking boots. I went to the sandal store and they showed me Tevas, and I didn't take them off the whole trip. I tagged them [on Instagram] and then we got in contact. So my sandal with them — we have three different styles. One is for an everyday, one is more sporty and then the flatform is more for fashion, dressy date night or girls' night.

The upper woven part is inspired by the friendship bracelets that I make. I wanted it to be reminiscent of that, and also I wanted the colors that you could find in nature because I'm very inspired by nature — in my music and my life. This is also my favorite color palette. I wanted it to fit me perfectly. I have a Dharma Wheel [tattoo] on my right shoulder and in every right shoe, there's a Dharma Wheel to protect you on your trips and my name is right there [pointing to the shoe]. I feel like Teva really represents being a free spirit and being versatile. Because like I said, you can wear them in any situation. For me, it was the perfect collaboration.

When did you get into friendship bracelets?

So my mom got me a friendship bracelet-making kit for either my birthday or Christmas when I was young, like in elementary school. I immediately fell in love with it. It was like a mediation for me. It just helped me focus my energy on one thing and create something cool. Then I started taking it seriously and making it for all my friends and be like, "Each color means this and you can make a wish when it falls off." I made all these special rules for them. I'd have everyone pick out their favorite colors. I literally still do it, and I actually made friendship bracelets out of all these colors, which I took some photos with. This collaboration is like a friendship sandal that I'm offering.

Who did you go with when you went on your trip to Hawaii?

On this trip, I was with one of my friends, Chrissy. I pretty much try to go to Hawaii twice a year, and now every time I go, I have to have my Tevas.

Where else have you traveled that has inspired you?

New Zealand was very inspiring. I'm very into places like Hawaii and New Zealand — islands. It's just so naturally beautiful. I'm so inspired by trees, mountains — it's just so beautiful to look at. And I think it was more so what we got to do on that trip — we got to do a really amazing hike, then we went black water rafting. It was completely crazy and inspiring. I'll never forget that. I like South Africa a lot; I wasn't there for as long as I wanted to be, but as soon as we got off the plane and started heading to the hotel room, there were monkeys on the side of the freeway and I was just like, "Oh, my gosh!" I'm just inspired by seeing new things.

When did your love for nature and traveling come about?

Since I was born, I loved being outside. I guess being born and raised in L.A. helps with that because we have so many beautiful places to experience — the beach, the mountains, the desert. My mom always encouraged us to go outside and play, so I was the little girl talking to the bees and bringing in stray cats. I just go outside if I'm feeling any type of way, even when I'm happy, it's just a place I really love.              

I know you mentioned that you tagged Teva on Instagram and that's how this collab came about. How do you balance your privacy on social media?

As more people started to pay attention to what I was posting, I started to become a little more aware. And as I've gotten older, I'm like, "I'm going to save this for me." A lot of the times when you're having fun, you're not worried about taking a picture and posting it. That's usually the balance — when I'm living in the moment, I'm not going to be posting a lot. Those are usually the more sacred moments. I have a daughter, who's 7, so I try to limit what I share of her even though she loves YouTube and all the apps. I just try to be conscious from sharing too much because I feel like I'm very open with who I am so I don't mind people knowing what my favorite food is or what I'm doing today, but I also have a lot of layers, so I just scratch the surface. You really have to know me to really know me so social media is just five percent of me.

So how about Snapchat?

I just got into it because it just takes a lot to snap your whole day and some days are just not that exciting. I don't know if people want to see me laying on the couch watching cartoons. [Laughs.] I feel like it's cool — it's like everyone has their own reality show with Snapchat. It can be entertaining. What I love about Teva is that they encourage you to go outside and be physical and appreciate what's around you instead of just being on your phone.

Photos courtesy of Teva