Meet your neighbor Sonja Janjic

Sonja Janjic

Give us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up? Go to school? What dreams did you have for yourself when you were a kid?
I grew up in a small town in Virginia. My mother was/is an art professor at Washington and Lee University, which made art an important part of my childhood. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a mom. In fact, I wanted 7 children (!) and I wanted to start right when I was 18. Ha! Throughout my childhood my dreams for my future were always changing….I often dreamt of being a teacher, but I also dreamt of hosting my own TV show similar to Fear Factor, or owning a store with local crafts downstairs and art classes upstairs (the last one kinda stuck).

How did you end up in Charlotte?
My partner and I moved to Charlotte almost three years ago on a bit of a whim. His friend was selling a property that he felt very connected to, and, just like that, we moved to Charlotte.

What do you find most challenging about life in Vermont?
Winters are challenging for me, but I also find them so special. After my first winter in Vermont, I remember seeing spring in a way I never had before—not only was nature coming back to life, but the people were as well. There was a buzz of energy, a cheer that still captivates me every year.

What’s one of your favorite things about Charlotte?
I love that there are so many wonderful farms and farm stands around and that we can buy locally by just driving down the road.

Kids? Partner?
My partner Alex and I have a little boy, Sawyer. He turned two a couple of weeks ago.

Tell us about the work you do and how you got to there.
I recently opened Owl Feet, an art studio for kids in a refurbished woodworking shop on our property. Owl Feet offers a variety of workshops, classes and camps for kids and parents. The programs are focused on open-ended and self-guided exploration as well as creating with recycled/repurposed materials and forms found in nature. I studied graphic design and elementary education at Champlain College and found myself torn between following a path focused on kids or art. I realized pretty early on that I wanted to work with children, but in a less structured way than the traditional school setting could provide. After our son was born in 2017, I left my role as a preschool teacher to care for him and a few other kids from our community; and when Sawyer was about a year old, I felt ready to explore my desire to create a space for children on our property.

What do you love about what you do?
I love to brainstorm new ways to use recycled materials and treasures found outside for art projects. And I especially love watching the kids use them to create something that they’re proud of!

Is there any particular dream or vision you have for the future of Charlotte?
I hope to continue to connect with new friends and families and build our little community. Owl Feet feels like an opportunity for me to teach, to learn, and also to connect with the community, and that’s really exciting for me.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? Any secret talents?
I can lick my elbow. Does that count as a secret talent? My father and two of my siblings were born and raised in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (at the time), and came to America during the war.

Dream travel destination?
There are so many places that I’d love to go! My most recent dream is traveling in an RV for a month or more all around the U.S. (particularly out West) and maybe even into Central America, but that’s a bit ambitious. Patagonia and New Zealand are long-time dreams as well.

What do you think we need to do, each of us, what are we singularly responsible for when it comes to making the world a better place?
Supporting and guiding children to become curious, empathetic, innovative and emotionally attuned beings is at the top of my list. Of course, children are not the singular way for every person to make their mark, but I don’t see how we can make the world a better place if we don’t start with them.