adventures, exercise, exercise gear, exploring, lifestyle

The Bike

When quarantine hit in March, I had to recognize that everything that I was procrastinating about was related to transportation. I had put off renewing my passport, learning to swim, learning to drive and buying a bike. The cold reality of my situation as that I could not outrun a zombie with my little fat self and I had no wheels to ride on and if someone said swim to the vaccine I was gonna be assed out.

That’s some harsh shit to realize.

I sent off a passport application (finally) but the DMV is closed so I can’t get the permit to drive yet. The place where I want to take swimming lessons is closed until September. So… I bought a bike. It took two months to arrive, but I bought a bike.

I got ripped off on the first bike I chose, then I found this beauty. The Adventurer 6 speed folding bike, $169.99 on the Camping World website. I thought that a folding bike would be better for someone living in a studio apartment, but I found out that that bike was heavy for me to carry folded, so it’s been set up like this since I got it. I did some group bike lessons with Bike New York, but I didn’t take the street riding class because the lady who ran it was nasty. Yes, I will avoid using a free service if I’m treated badly. Surprise. So technically I could ride, but I was very nervous about going out in the street on my own. It took some googling but I finally found someone who would trade money for bike riding lessons.

They call him… Professor Pedals.

I stalked their website until they finally posted lessons were available and I pounced. By the power of my enhanced unemployment check I paid $150 to have another human being coach me on how to ride in the street. One misty early summer morning I met my teacher in Prospect Park and for an hour and a half I got tutored on how to feel like I wasn’t going to die the minute I wheeled my bike into the street. I’m not being sarcastic or dramatic. This was the only thing keeping me from riding the bike I had sitting in my apartment, and it was worth every penny to have someone professional to ride with that first time.

I don’t ride every day (yet), but I can go riding with confidence now. My arms are starting to relax and when I go I stay out longer. I went from doing one loop around my block to turning up and down unfamiliar territory, albeit within six blocks of my building. I fell down one morning and got back on the bike. I have to stop and rest because this quarantine weight is kicking my ass. But I love the joy of coasting down the road on two wheels, with the breeze on my face. I love having the choice of walking or riding. It’s a process, but I have wheels and I can finally be out there using them.

PS, don’t forget to wear you’re helmet. This is the free one that I got at a street fair from the D.O.T. a few years ago. If you need a helmet look here.

Hope you guys are getting through quarantine, phased openings and re-lockdowns ok. It’s a wild situation, so do your best.

Until next time,

Faith/SEBMarketBK

art, black fashion designer, Fashion, fashion designer, fashion photo, influencer, photo, Photography, recycled fashion, upcycled, vintage

The Beautiful Flowers

I don’t usually feature other photographers, but I have a soft spot for perfection and I had to do a post about an amazing woman who makes art out of old clothes, bedsheets and her gorgeous daughters Jayla, Jada and Ella. I’m usually super jealous… but her work is so good that I had to get over myself.

photo courtesy of Alissa Bertrand of @jabellafleurs

I started following Alissa Bertrand’s page during quarantine and it kept me engaged with the old. I started waiting for Alissa’s posts. They’re like a portal to a fairy tale world where all the princesses are black with beautiful natural hair. Her work reminds me of old Ralph Lauren ads, or Sally Mann’s revealing body of work that starred her pre-pubescent children. Every image is stunning. The lighting is soft, the girls are self aware and graceful, and the clothing is everything a girl or woman wants in her wardrobe.

Phot courtesy of Alissa Bertrand of @labellafleur

I studied photography at Parsons and Columbia College Chicago, and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen such a cohesive body of work or such consistent excellence. Enter the fact that she is doing all of the styling with clothing that she designed, and all of the hairstyling and grooming for the girls and you have a one woman fashion army. If she decided to sell prints, I’d buy them. And I wouldn’t mind a grownup version of this stunning white cotton dress with eyelet lace, either.

photo courtesy of Alissa Bertrand of @jabellafleur

I got Alissa to answer a few questions about her images and her plans for the future.

Alissa Bertrand with her daughters Jada, Ella and Jayla

The Jabella Fleur interview:

SEBMARKETBK: What inspired the photographs that you take of your daughters? Was there an artist or designer or magazine that informed your distinctive photography style? 

Alissa Bertrand: What inspires the photographs I take of my girls is just simply trying to capture them and the clothing I make for them! It’s also a way for them to have some really amazing pictures of themselves as children, to look back upon and remeber all the times we spent together along with all the fun adventurous stories too. I don’t look to others to inspire what I do. I’m a vintage fanatic and I love vintage aesthetics, so a big part of my look is evoking that style. 

SEBMARKETBK: Did you study photography or take any lessons? 

Alissa Bertrand: I’ve never studied photography! I wish I had some more knowledge in photography. I simply know the basics of what I like and what I want to capture along with the feeling.

phot courtesy of Alissa Bertrand of @jabellafleur

SEBMARKETBK: When did you start designing clothing? Do you remember your first garment? 

Alissa Bertrand: I started sewing from the 8th grade, and designing and repurposing about 10 years ago! The first garment was a maxi dress for the girls. 

I don’t look to others to inspire what I do. I’m a vintage fanatic and I love vintage aesthetics, so a big part of my look is evoking that style. 

Alissa Bertrand, creative designer and stylist

SEBMARKETBK: Do your daughters take pictures or create clothing like you? 

Alissa Bertrand: My daughters don’t take pictures. They’re just my mini-muses. They do enjoy sewing and creating little things. 

SEBMARKETBK: Where do you see your artwork taking you? Are you interested in being in galleries or museums? 

Alissa Bertrand: I see my fashion and photography taking me to the next level in fashion. I’m currently working on a fashion collection for girls, hopefully coming out SS21! I hope my work will end up in magazines and introduce myself and designs to the world! 

So as a way to thank Alissa for helping me hold onto sanity during the horrible weeks of quarantine and then the first weeks of the protests against the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, I’m doing this blog post. She reminded me that art has the power to heal, and that consistency is key in creating a successful art process. Her work reminds me to look towards my family for inspiration and savor the small pleasures and victories available to me.

Please follow Alissa and her girls on @jabellafleur (and tell others!) so that she’ll be a mega-success and I’ll get the coffee table book I keep begging her for. Any requests for collabs or publication should be directed to her on instagram.

Until next time,

Faith/SEBMarketBK

bath, beauty, beauty products, diy, entrepeneur, entrepeneurship, skincare, summer beauty

The Soap Bubble

I made soap!

As shelter in place mostly ended and I looked at a future of reduced work and spotty assignments (this week I sold masks and no contact keys and for the last few weeks it was packing up merchandise to return to a fashion vendor), I have to look at my side hustle and think of how to extend my brand. I have a list of things that I’ll be doing, but today we’re going to talk about soap. I like soap, I use soap quite often and spend a lot of time looking for soap to buy. So making soap was a no brained option…then I realized that I can’t just randomly make it, I need to practice and plan out an actual collection that makes sense.

I bought a variety of molds (amazon) and started experimenting. One idea was using a mold that looked like a faceted jewels, but when it hardened it didn’t look as cool as I’d hoped it would. It kind of reminded me of an eraser. The problem was that while I had driven myself crazy melting, mixing and pouring, I had failed to realize that swirling and color gradations are mostly done in loaf molds, so the effects wouldn’t be noticeable until you cut them. So the big purple lump actually had some fun things going on, just not on the outside. The next step was cutting up the lump (photo 2) and then I just reheated it and swirled it with a pink soap that I made for the occasion. This time, the effects are more noticeable.

I swirled for a good two hours. Starting with the purple and pink, moving to gold, peacock blue and white. This put me in a state of meditative joy that I haven’t achieved since art school. I love making soap. There’s the potential for artistic expression, the fun of experimenting and mixing colors, and the achieved goal of creating something useful. Soap is always useful. I don’t have an in-depth story about making soap, though. I just think people should reward themselves and one great thing to splurge on is some pretty, skin moisturizing soap.

Since I started creating my soap works, I’ve been dropping samples in when people make purchases from my online shops. I’m also going to start selling half bar samples since they are starting to pile up. I got the cutest little pillow boxes that the samples fit into perfectly. So I’m kind of excited about that. I’ll be selling samples on aliwazas, etsy, poshmark and depop, and there will be a buy button on the bottom of this page. Looking forward to spending the rest of the summer experimenting and creating a cohesive line of just plain pretty soaps.

Until next time,

Faith/SEBMARKETBK

Handmade soap samples

Unique half bars of handmade soap. Various colors. May be a mix of honey, goat’s milk, glycerine and olive oil soaps and will be colored with micas. Can be used for bath or hand soap. Ingredients: Coconut oil, palm oil, safflower oil, glycerine (of vegetable origin), purified water, sodium hydroxide (saponification agent), sorbitolpropylene glycol(made from vegetable glycerine)sorbitol O’Leary (emulsifier), oat protein (conditioner). White soaps contain titanium dioxide. Varieties of soap used: Clear, olive oil, honey, white, oatmeal, goat’s milk, shea butter *Price includes postage, within the US only.

$5.00

Fashion

The Fro Expert

I have a hair issue. Not about my 4C texture, and I only just learned about porosity, so that’s not it. I’m ok with the length, it’s kind of thin if you straighten it and apparently my edges are not even close to the standard of fleetness necessary these days. But…these are not my hair issues. Not even close.

Curious?

My hair issue is lack of knowledge and inconsistency. Period. I’m not sure why but one day I was minding my business and realized that Black women’s hair had had a revolutionary upgrade. natural is not just in, it’s supported, studied intently and discussed with passion and fervor. Suddenly everyone seemed to have a huge mane of unprocessed hair growing out of their heads and I was caught out there, completely unaware of how it had happened. I think I tested some products from Cantu and Ojon back in the day, but only because pr people gave them to me. On my own, I had no clue what was good, so I had to start researching.

I used to buy from another brand, and while I loved the products, I wasn’t crazy about the shipping times or customer service but I wasn’t going back to the drugstore aisle brands. I found Fro.ology on etsy when I was looking to add to my list of natural haircare brands and ordered immediately. I liked the minimalist design of the labels (very important for me, because I think clean design is a sign of clear thinking and efficiency). I started with the Onion & Garlic Oil, Aloe Vera and Agave Deep Conditioner and conditioning Tea Rinse and I was not disappointed. My scalp and hair are completely satisfied.

So of course I ordered more. And I follow the brand on instagram like a stalker so I can stay up to date on new products like the Avocado Pre-Shampoo Mask and Growth Oil. This week we have a short interview with the amazing founder of Fro.ology, Gianni Alexander, who shared her reasons for starting the business and some insights on Black haircare.

The interview:

SEBMARKETBK: Where did you get the idea to start your hair care brand? 

Fro.ology:  I got the idea in fall of 2018 after I got my mini chop. Everyone at my job was so amazed at my Afro and kept coming to me with their hair questions. While most of the feedback was positive, some was not. I didn’t let the negative offend me or trick me into thinking that I needed my hair straight again but it did trigger a light bulb in my head: 


Why is my hair and how I wear it such a big deal? 


My friends told me that if I made hair products they would buy from me for sure. I made my goal to have my business started in April of 2019, the same month I quit both of my jobs and moved back home to Atlanta. I used it as a hobby and a way to keep me busy and out of depression while I looked for a job.


SEBMARKETBK: I love using your products, and my hair is definitely improving. How did you develop your recipes? 

Fro.ology: I began researching how to make my own formulas after I realized most of the chemist I found used toxic ingredients. I started with basic formulas that didn’t require a preservative: butters, oils, dry clays…and then found whatever I could on different beauty formulating blogs and YouTube. They taught me how preservatives and formulas work. I worked with one product at a time until I had the formula perfect, logged the formula down and moved on to the next product.

SEBMARKETBK: What is the one best thing a woman with 4C hair can do to encourage growth? 

Fro.ology:  The best things a woman with 4C hair can do to encourage growth are: sealing in moisture through proper protective styling and not getting upset at shrinkage. Shrinkage means your hair is healthy!


SEBMARKETBK: What do you think the beauty industry can do better for black women? 

Fro.ology: The beauty industry can start by hiring more black models and stop brainwashing us into thinking that we need to have straight hair to be hired or simply just to be beautiful. 


SEBMARKETBK: Where do you visualize Fro.ology going in the future? What is your ultimate goal for the brand?

Fro.ology: There are a lot of things in the works with Fro.ology! I am hoping to be in a major retailer by year 3. Right now I am just taking it one day at a time.

Keep up with ro.ology s it develops on instagram and order Gianna’s amazing products (recently featured in Teen Vogue) at fro-ology.com.

Until next time,

Faith/SEBMARKETBK