That bummer summer, she got one reprieve — scuba lessons. She took her first breath underwater in a backyard pool with Buffet blasting above. Then came ocean dives and a senior-year trip to the Caribbean, living aboard a research ship zigzagging between islands. She dove, learned about marine ecosystems and came away knowing her path forward.
"The ability to breathe underwater was so fascinating to me, and the sense of peace just overwhelmed me. I was hooked." — Arisa Yoon
At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Arisa studied Marine Biology and Environmental Sciences. She also learned about the looming problem of plastic pollution in the ocean. After a guest lecture by Bonnie Monteleone, founder of the Plastic Ocean Project, she was pulled towards advocacy and joined the local chapter as an art director, an invaluable experience for her future life as a creative.
After graduating, she found herself in the doldrums. She worked for a summer in the Bahamas, continued to spread awareness about plastic pollution but felt rudderless. Until she found yoga. Classes turned to work-trade which turned to teacher training. And through that process, she rediscovered a dormant passion — photography.
"By starting to do more of the inner-work and realize about myself, little passions came back. Drive came back. Good things take time."
Content creation was a budding field when Arisa began cold-emailing brands and pitching her services. She started landing clients for product photography then expanded into larger lifestyle shoots, now her specialty. Because she works primarily with environmentally conscious and outdoor companies, she stays true to her ethics while earning a living.
"When it came to my work, it had to be with brands rooted in sustainability or have some kind of mission. I can’t just speak for sustainability while getting twenty-five products all wrapped in plastic."
Now Arisa finds balance through her creative career, her yoga instruction and her side passion. She started WE (Women for the Environment), an advocacy group that empowers women to take action for the environment. Behind the lens, in front of a class, at the center of her conservation community — Arisa manages to make it all work. And make it look effortless.