Meet Shannon. Shannon is very involved in the arts community and is a social advocate for the LGBTQ community in Kelowna.
Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?
Born in Vancouver, raised in Newfoundland and I've been in the Okanagan off and on since I was a teenager. Now my forever home. I own a condo in the lower mission.
Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
I have a lot of best friends here in Kelowna and it really is what makes life so good here. My friends are like family to me.
What is your favourite local store in Kelowna and why?
I'm currently a big fan of Wild Kingdom because I met the owner Kim and she is awesome! We are working on some projects together that I am very excited about.
Describe yourself in one word.
If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
I miss Japan. I lived there for six years teaching English and it became a second home for me. Can't wait to go back!
What is your favourite activity in Kelowna?
I love being in the lake. Also, love going to the nude beach hehe. Just for tanning of course.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
Omg the list is too long. I'm a person who has no shame and is always putting myself out there. Any one of my friends would be more than happy to tell many embarrassing stories about me haha.
What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
The most inspiring thing that has happened in my life recently is the decision I made to pursue my art full-time. It has been a huge struggle but I haven't felt more satisfied and at peace with my life. I paint and draw everyday, produce events and perform in drag regularly. My work is not what you would call mainstream either so it's been such a blessing to get so much love from people in Kelowna and to really feel accepted and part of the community here. I am very thankful.
Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
Hmmm. We used to have fun tying all the scarves together and swinging off the banister when I was a kid, or jumping down the laundry shoot then running back upstairs to do it again. My favourite thing as a child was definitely Saturday morning cartoons! Oh I also have lots of fond memories of being in nature. Fishing, camping etc. Love the outdoors.
Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
I try to be an active member of the community. I have been very involved with the arts community in Kelowna and I am a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community as well. The next charity event I'm doing is in November which is a fundraiser for the Etcetera Youth Group called We Care. I will be bringing Sasha Claws back again this year (my drag Santa character). Oh, and my drag persona is Sasha Zamolodchikova by the way. Add her on Facebook if you dare!
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
There would be a lot more love.
Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
I'm a home body. I have a home studio and I love spending time in my kitchen or painting. Otherwise I always enjoy being close to the lake.
Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
I'm excited to see the growth in Kelowna but I think we really need to act quickly to address environmental concerns. We live in such a beautiful place and its sad to see how rapidly climate change has been affecting the weather and quality of life here. I personally don't know how we as humans can stop this rapid progression but the idea of living with floods and fires for the rest of our lives seems pretty bleak. I think we all need to come together to make positive change happen.
What do you think makes Kelowna great?
Kelowna is at a really interesting turning point where it could become something very different. Its still unclear what Kelowna will become but I am thankful to be a part of this community. The people make it great here.
What are 3 things on your bucket list?
I want to try sky diving one day.
Not sure if this is bucket list but TO DO list is I want to make fully illustrated story books
Id love to produce a play and perform live on stage in concert (music is my hobby)
More traveling too of course (everywhere)
Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I used to be extremely introverted and shy.
How do people connect with you, personally, through social media?
Facebook and Instagram
What is the name of your business/organization?
Shannon Lester Art
Why did you get into/start this business?
Art has always been my passion. Creativity is my life.
What is the goal of your business?
My goal is to be a fully self-sufficient artist and spread joy through creativity and art.
What has been your biggest struggle either at work or in life?
My biggest struggle is dealing with societies perceptions of what I am supposed to be vs. who I know I am.
If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
Wouldn't change a thing.
What do you always find yourself saying?
Thank you. I'm so grateful. I ask myself every night "What are you thankful for?" Theres always quite a few things.
Tell us your best piece of life advice.
Be humble. Be kind. Show love. That's it.
If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
Hmmm, not a celebrity. Someone special and near to my heart.
Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
It is so important to support local business and artists. Huge corporations operate based on greed. Spend a few extra dollars, or sometimes less, and help a person pursue their dreams. Communities are stronger when you shop locally.
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Even though I don't really care about titles I was proud of myself for doing my Masters of Fine Arts degree. It was a big challenge. I am also very proud of EMBODIMENT Drag & Burlesque Show which we've been doing for about five years now.
Give someone you think that deserves it a shout out and explain why!
I would like to send some love to trans people in the States who are suffering under that horrible government right now. Also my trans brothers and sisters worldwide who are suffering. There's way too much hate. Just sending love.
My choice for the KelownaNow In Focus spotlight is:
Some general comments I would like to share are:
Thanks to Kelowna for being a supportive community. Because what I do is so out there I never thought I would have a voice here. Thank you for letting me share my art and my drag with you. I really appreciate it so much. My website is www.shannonlester.com.
In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition of the people, businesses, and organizations that help make our city great. Thank you, Kelowna!