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Connecting through learning and visual stories - interview with Sheilvy Salazar of iSTORYa Studio

"When our WHYs align, together we create meaningful stories with impact." - iSTORYa Studio

We have known Sheilvy back in the days when we were both working in the same company in Cebu City. She has always been a woman of vision, who loves learning and building genuine relationships. When you meet her, you get this feeling of instant connection. That's how she comes across to us.

Since moving overseas, we have followed her work on LinkedIn and have always been inspired by it. Her creative work with iSTORYa Studio is quite compelling and easy to understand. It seemed to us that she's already built a good following of different companies in Dubai. We got interested in how she started it, how she's dealing with the challenges that comes with it and the realizations she's had over the years.

Sheilvy, tell us a bit about your background? What wonderful things have you done before starting iStorya Studio?

My name is Sheilvy Salazar. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and a Master’s degree in Business Management. I have been living in Dubai for more than a decade. I decided to leave my comfort zone in 2006 in search for better opportunities and career growth.

I spoke no Arabic and knew nothing about the culture of the country I was going into. As if it wasn’t enough of a risk, on my first year, I decided to even embrace risk and jumped out of a plane at an altitude of 12,000 ft. – yes, I did my first skydive!

Eight years ago, I also decided to start a small food cart business in Cebu, My Own Recipe (MORe). I’ve always been wanting to own a business and so with the help of my siblings, the business came to life and is still up and running despite the very challenging times we are facing. The wonderful part of this story is not about the business itself but more so, it is having the small family business that even made our family closer and supportive to each other at this very moment in time.

Wonderful things to me has always been about cultivating relationships never losing that connection despite distance and having the time to appreciate the world we live in. Having been to twenty different countries, the most wonderful was always traveling with family and friends – that will remain on top of my list.

MORe:  Facebook: Instagram: @moremyownrecipe

What inspired iStorya Studio in the first place? Has your mission changed over time and what is it now?

I always believed that ‘we only gain in life by learning but we only really grow in life by sharing.’

My experience working with different organizations made me realized that more and more people are losing their interest to learn new things. There was this particular instance when I read a book and translated it into a hand drawn visual story so some of my colleagues would be interested to read and learn valuable lessons from that book.

That’s how I started to play with the idea that my love for creativity can be shared as a tool to inspire learning and so iSTORYA Studio was established a few years later.

iSTORYA Studio: Instagram: @istoryastudiouae, @graphicrecorderdubai  Youtube:


Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools humans have in their toolbox. We all love it and live it but what separates good storytellers from the rest and how do you develop a passion / skill for it?

Empathy and authenticity. Always listening and genuinely true to the story.

Practice. Skills, such as public speaking or drawing or visual facilitation, can always be learned and honed especially with the various digital tools available to us 24/7. Most important is to be ‘passionate’ about learning to be one.

Passion, as Terri Trespicio said, is the full force of your energy and attention that you give to whatever is in front of you. Hence, it’s a choice to be great at what you choose to become – be it a storyteller or something else.

What we have observed is that social impact is on a lot of people’s minds but most of the time they have no idea what that means for them. How do I help? What do I do? What’s my mission? How do you know what to ask the Universe? :)

Honestly, I don’t know. Most of the time, I allow the Universe to take the lead. I think that’s how it works. I believe the Universe has already laid out a path for each of us to somehow be able to have an impact and leave a better world behind us.

I guess, if we truly listen to our inner self – eventually, we’ll get there without knowing all the answers. :)

What advice would you have for someone who is a bit lost and not sure what they should do with their lives? Do you ever feel like that yourself?

Almost always. For me, it’s a good thing. It reminds me of being human, that it’s ok not to know everything or be in control of everything. And so I put my faith ahead of me – I trust the Universe!

Of course, it doesn’t mean not doing anything. It means being aware of what you have and make the best out of the skills, talents or whatever resources available to you and put them into good use. Good use is to be able to serve other’s needs or even if it’s just for one person, that is good enough to start with. Feeling lost is often due to the lack of meaning or purpose in our lives.

Look around you, what do others need that they don’t have but you do? Start by sharing what you have. You can share your knowledge, talent, time, experience - everyone has so much value to share.

Your mission inspires and very strongly resonates with us. Your Safe Space started because there were a lot of negativity in the media, in the middle of a pandemic. We did not see a lot of stories and interviews online that could inspire other people. We wanted to change that. We want to encourage and connect with people. From your experience what is the hardest / not easily seen thing about building a platform/business?

Trust in myself. To believe that I have what it takes to make a valuable contribution is the most difficult to do. It’s a challenge I face constantly and have to deal with, time and time again.

One quick advice, never waste your time comparing yourself with someone else. Stay focus with your purpose and keep going. No matter how slow, it still is progress.

Are you learning / pondering about anything right now that you would like to share?

I’ve just been gifted a book, The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek and so my current thoughts is repeatedly reminding me that life is an infinite game. No one truly wins in life. Not even the wealthiest man. But we can choose how we may live. So I chose mine to be creatively useful for others to learn, be inspired and share with generations beyond my lifetime.

And finally, whose story would you want to read about on here?

Definitely yours! :)

Thank you Sheilvy for sharing your story with us. We will think about your last answer :)

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