We had the good fortune of connecting with Janae Matute and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Janae, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
As a young child with cerebral palsy, unable to walk or coordinate my arms, I always knew I was talented as my family would place crayons or pencils between my toes and I would scribble on paper. Somedays, I would play in the sand, creating my own little art work, for fun of course. We loved doing arts and crafts together. The first day when I knew I wanted to be an artist was when I created my first piece with the verse “Philippians 4:13, which is not for sale and is beautifully displayed in our family home in Belize.  On this day, I decided that I wanted to mess around with some paint on a piece of board. I was so shocked at how my toes naturally flowed and ended up creating my first masterpiece. I remembered telling myself “I was born to be an Artist and nothing will stop me from pursuing my dreams”.  As time passed, I painted on canvass and posted the pieces on Facebook. I was sooo excited, tears filled my eyes when I sold my first piece. My once playful activity now became my business “Creative Toes Art Gallery”.  My inspiration came from Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and I am a living proof that despite the disability, I am able to go above and beyond what society expects of me.

Let’s talk work? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

It’s funny, I always wanted to be a Doctor but my life got shifted to being an Artist with my own business. Growing up, my family loved doing arts and crafts and we would upcycle old materials around the house and created our own art. This was my inspiration because I was always around giving my opinion on what looks good or what needed to change. Somedays I would be the author of my own artwork with my Mom following my detailed instructions. However, this was not enough, I knew I wanted to do things on my own so I would assist with my toes. Eventually, I became a little more independent and was able to do my own art with little assistance. Continuing to create my designs from ideas in my head, I knew this was what I wanted to build on and make it into my own business. This was when I realized how creative I was and what I wanted to do with my life.  Finally, October 8, 2018 Creative Toes Art Gallery was birthed and  since then, my paintings are in homes and businesses in Belize, across the United States and Canada.
Many times people assumed that it is easy for me to paint. However, because of the disability, it takes a lot of effort and all my muscles to create my artwork. Somedays, while producing  a painting, I experience cramps in my legs and I get tired trying to keep my foot steady. At times, I am left with aches and pains but that does not stop me from getting my work done.
I want people to remember me as the young woman that never backed down from a challenge. A person who despite being differently-abled, never looked down on herself but turned the disability into something great! I want the name “Janae Matute” to be a powerful reminder that all things are possible with God by your side and a will to be greater than you were yesterday. A disability should not be the end or a setback but it should be a reason for us to embrace differently-abled individuals because you never know what kind of talent they possess. I am just one of many but I hope that my vibrant personality will open many doors for the differently-abled community.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

This city is such a beautiful place, with many places to explore, and to tell you the truth, there is so much I haven’t explored as yet, but I’m going to make a bucket list. However, if my best friend Lenese visited me, I know exactly where I’d like to take her. Each day would be an adventure, first, we would head down to the North Park Center. Whilst shopping, we would get a nice ice coffee at Starbucks and take a stroll where we would see many sculptures and painting showcased throughout the mall. From time to time, there are pop up art galleries that can be enjoyed as well.
We would head down to the AT&T Discovery District. It’s one of those tourist attractions that even if you’ve seen it once, it’s always a treat to see again. Exploring it at night is even more spectacular with all the lights and the noise of the city.
Another stop would be the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. I was always interested in science-related topics and so this is an amazing place to learn and be inspired. This museum is very educational. It has historical artifacts such as dinosaurs, stages of evolution and realistic models of planets, natural disasters and rare animals.
What is a trip to Dallas if we don’t get to visit the Dallas World Aquarium too, we would check out all the animals under the sea and above it. Lenese and I love taking pictures so there would be no time wasted getting our photos with all the aquariums as our backdrop. The Dallas Aquarium is my favorite place to visit in Dallas because it has so many beautiful and exotic animals. Flamingos, hammer head sharks & sword fish. Inside the ocean tunnel you are able to interact with the different underwater life. It’s a beautiful scenic view and when we are not filling our minds, we will be filling our stomachs at a few of my favorite restaurants.   Being from Belize, some of our foods are influenced by Mexican culture and so we would definitely stop in to Gabriela & Sofia’s Tex-Mex. I enjoy eating there, the food is always delicious, I always go for the tacos, chimichangas & freshly made Guacamole. These are my favorite foods to eat at this Mexican restaurant. They always serve you with a smile.
Saving the best for last, would most definitely be the Reunion Tower.  It is located 561 feet in the sky overlooking Downtown Dallas. It’s a very prestigious restaurant and is known for its high class and fancy atmosphere.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Firstly, I would like to Thank God for giving me life and for molding me into the young woman I am today. A special thank you to my exceptional parents Georgia & Mervin Matute Sr, who gave me the best life possible and continues to be my biggest supporters. Thank you for giving me the motivation, love and encouragement, I needed to pursue my education and business, pushing me to succeed and never giving up on me. To my brother Mervin Jr. and sister Amylee, thank you for being so patient with me. The unconditional love that you’ve given me and continue to show is priceless.  Thank you for being my hands and feet. A big thank you to my grandparents, all my aunts and uncles, Mr Tim Crum for all your love and support in everything I do. To my childhood friend, Lenese Nunez, who has been by my side from the start, thank you for believing in me and never treating me like I was less than. To Benjamin McDougal, my Sales Representative in Belize for his unwavering support and KingDavid_fineart of Brooklyn NYC for mentoring and teaching me the value of my art.  Thank you to Living Waters Fellowship Church for all your prayers and encouragement,  to my teachers who went the extra mile to ensure I got the education I deserved and my extra special classmates who assisted me and even lifted me up the stairs to my different classes and made it so much easier for me.   Thank you, to my beloved Attorney, Mr. Fred Lumor and his Assistant, Mrs Attolene Lennan, who fought hard for justice on my behalf.  I would not be where I am today without your continued love and determination.  Most importantly, thank you to all my customers for appreciating and investing in my art pieces.  Last but not least, a huge shout out and photo credits to the best Photographer in Dallas Texas, Mr Jose Armin of Ambishen Studios for his kindness, patience and outstanding 10/10 service, thank you!!!

Instagram: @Creativetoesartgallery

Facebook: Creative Toes Art Gallery

Youtube: @Creativetoesartgallery

Other: Tiktok: @creativetoesartgallery

Image Credits
Ambishen Studio Mr Jose Armin

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