Working on my Shopify store and trying to gain perspective on my side hustle business. Constantly thinking of how to push it into sustainable success. Doing a lot of running around, researching, taking classes and looking at long term strategies. Plotting shopping trips and new marketing strategies.
Going through my inventory, looking for ways to style my items, and just taking time to be still and look at everything and find the significance and meaning in every piece.
Also, since I lost a little weight, I’m trying things on and looking at how pieces will work on real people, how things go together, etc. I’ve been selling since 2015 and have worked pretty much nonstop since quarantine trying to build a brand, trying to find an audience, trying to sell, trying and trying to stay on top of things and stay sane. I can see the finish line, but I still have to figure out how to get there.
More of the same drama going on. Today I woke up over it. I can’t be miserable forever. Last week was utterly horrifying. I felt like there was something pulling me down, and I couldn’t enjoy nothing. I took an online dance class and realized that I was just throwing my body parts around and not really enjoying the moves at all. A week of feeling helpless and sad and angry and now I am done. I have to move on with my life. Starting next Saturday this blog goes back to being about nothing, just the way I like it.
Feel free to drop by any of my online stores. Right now I’m working on taking photos, listing new merchandise and working on upcycling projects. Between covid and looters, my immediate visual merchandising gigs may not be as plentiful as I’d like so I have to build up my side hustle just in case. I’m probably going to start looking at selling photos, books, and handmade beauty products in the coming months as well. The year is half over. I don’t want to end up homeless and on welfare because I was too depressed over something that I can’t control. I have to shift focus back to myself and making sure that I have revenue coming in to cover rent, bills, food etc.
If you want to support a small black business, feel free to click on any of these links and start shopping:
I was looking through some pieces that I upcycled and realized that I needed to add a new creative element to what I was doing. I’ve sold a few pieces, and I’m still looking at how to improve and enhance things that haven’t sold yet. I’ve been cutting stuff, and using patches and glue to remake things, but back in December I saw an instagram ad for Make Workshop‘s Sashiko and Visible Mending workshop and I pounced. Couldn’t get into a class until February, but pouncing did indeed occur.
February 22nd came and I jumped out of bed and hustled myself to class. Taught by Jessica Marquez, author of Make + Mend, the class is about using Sashiko embroidery to embellish and strengthen your items. Instead of throwing something away, you can use visible mending to patch it artistically. Instead of hiding the stitches, they become part of the piece. I had seen the book and was dying to learn how to recreate the cool patterns and patchwork techniques. The class is very hands-on, so you end up sewing right away. I had forgotten to bring a project, so I cut the pocket of my Levi’s jacket and used a piece of cloth to create a contrasting patch.
While we were working, a former student came in and we all got a good look at how Sashiko can be used to stunning effect. This woman had upgraded a pair of jeans to runway ready masterpiece using printed cloth collaged with exposed mending stitches. It was electrifying to see someone with a finished piece on, and she seemed really happy with her work. I tried to zoom in so you can see how the stitch patterns become one with the textures, colors and patterns of the patches.
Finishing a project in class empowered me to buy the book and use the stitching to finally finish a big, thrifted scarf that I was upcycling. I had painted it, but couldn’t go beyond that. As soon as I got home from Make Workshop, I pulled out the scarf and I could see how the stitching would transform it. I was shaky on how to space out the stitches since I just learned how to do Sashiko, so I bought a cheap graph paper notebook, drew the stitch pattern on it, and have been sewing through it then ripping the paper off.
The fabric is very soft, so the stitches get a little messed up, and yesterday I actually had to pull the needle back through the cloth because I had made a wild stitch in the wrong place, so it’s a process. But I’m loving how this is developing and I want to do a patchwork panel on it before I’m through. There’s a place called FabScrap that re-purposes garment district scrap into sewing supplies for crafters. You can order online or shop in person (check their website first, though. Currently they are closed until March 30th because of Coronavirus).
I’ve been staying in my apartment thanks to Covid-19, but I got stir crazy yesterday and went over to the Japan Society to see the Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics exhibit. I have been putting this off or too busy, and when the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced a shutdown, I decided I better run over quick. It’s also just one train all the way there, which minimized exposure to Coronavirus from changing trains and walking through multiple stations or standing on multiple platforms. It may not be foolproof, but that was my strategy. I needed a blast of inspiration to sustain me just in case this quarantine thing gets more serious.
Because Japanese fashion is so deified, I wasn’t prepared to be looking at rags. The fact is that boro is all about making do with what you have, and trying to literally stitch together bits and pieces of nothing to try and stay warm. It looks cool now, but the inspiration is poverty and survival. The program describes clothing as a ‘precious resource’, so these garments may have been mended and patched for generations of a family to wear.
The galleries are very quiet and it’s kind of eerie walking through the dimly lit rooms looking at the items lit from within. However, it’s a closeup look at the layers and layers of fabric, and the stitching. Since we live in a world where people have so much that they can throw away clothing and shoes that are barely worn, this made me take my upcycling and recycled fashion business even more seriously. While there’s not as crucial of a need to do patchwork or mend things right now, I want to be able to fuse this deeply held tradition of clothing conservation into my own practice of helping pre-owned items find new owners.
I you’re interested in taking classes in New York, you can sign up at Make Workshop. Instructor Jessica Marquez also tours, so you can hit up her site Miniature Rhino to purchase books or see if she’s teaching near you.
The one where I bought some chicken feathers and I had this denim jacket. Trying to get some use out of that time in art school that I’m still in debt for.
I won a contest and got $100 to go shopping, I saw a plain, Old Navy denim jacket and I got so happy because I had a bunch of paint in colors that I never use ,plus some gold glitter that I got at Micheal’s. With Labor Day coming I was thinking that I wanted something that expressed that part of my culture (my family is from Guyana) without me having to wear anything that caused my bottom half to be exposed to all the world.
Prudish Yankee. I know. I don’t whine up and I can’t twerk. My soul is now bare.
I saw some feathers at the fabric store and the wheels started turning and I was like Eureka! or Irie…or whatever and even though I have no experience putting feathers on anything I knew my moment had come. It was time.
The fields of color are inspired by one of my favorite painters, Mark Rothko. It’s funny what the eye and heart will respond to. I went to a school where I was outnumbered and learned about artists who didn’t share my gender or race, but there you go. I love Rothko’s glowing, living fiends of dreamy saturated color. The idea of the color itself being the art, to force you to just contemplate the meaning and feel of a shade or hue is very powerful to me. This jacket needed gradations of tropical, vibrant shades that blend into each other like a layered frozen cocktail.
Once the paint was dry I added two rows of feathers for the win. Like the feathers on beautiful mas costumes worn by goddesses from places like Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, etc. Gold glitter is dusted across the shoulders and feathers like highlighter on brown skin. It’s the whole West Indian Day Parade and Carnival and Cropover in one upcycled jacket. I thought about adding rhinestones or big fake jewels but I liked it this way. Business in the front, bacchanal in the back.
White guy art meets black female immigrant culture. It’s so fetch.
Shop the blog:
Handpainted denim jacket with feathers, size XL
Hand painted rainbow jacket with feathers. Lightwash, classic construction. 100% cotton. Front is plain, with distress area. Back is painted from shoulders to waistband. Shoulders are painted. A double row of feathers runs across the back, dusted with gold glitter. Basically a birthday party in jacket form. Measures 24 inches from shoulder to hem. 22 inches from armpit to armpit. 23.5 inch long sleeves. *Free shipping *Only ships in the US.
Crystal ear cuff
Giant crystal ear cuff. Big rectangular faceted crystals outline the curve of the ear, with an underline of tiny crystals running underneath. Cuff has a clip for the top of the ear to hold it on. *Free shipping. *Ships only in the US.
Topshop jeweled faux leather minidress, size 4
80s style strapless black faux leather minidress with sweetheart neckline. Large acrylic jewels are set into the surface like a glittering net. The back is plain. Buttery soft leather like polyester, fully lined. Top is boned to provide support and a perfect fit. Pleats at the waist. Zips up the back. Brand new with tags, never worn. 25 inches from bust to hem. 12.5 inches across the waist. 17 across the hips. 18 inches across the hem, so leg opening is 36" circumference. *Free shipping. *Ships only in the US.
Steve Madden spiked stilletos, size 10
Steve Madden party heels. Matte black velvety spike heeled covered with metal points. Cutout on the sides. Worn once for a photo shoots, soles are lightly scuffed. Shoes are true to size. Heels are 4.5 inches high. *Free shipping *Ships in the US only
I have been working on these shorts for a year.Technically. I got these jeans free from L.L. Bean (blogger perk) and one day decided to make cutoffs from them. Then I thought I would rehab the cutoffs, so I put them on my crafts trolley. Then I forgot about them, because I was working and somehow there was never any time or inspiration to finish my pile of design projects. It was sad. I wanted to do my thing, but coming home after work, I usually would just huddle in bed, watch netflix and try to go to sleep so I could go to work again. Working on my projects seemed to hard.
Lately I’ve been super inspired (might be because of exercising and better diet, I’m not so depressed), so I’ve been going through my project pile and finally finishing some things, like these cutoffs. I was on instagram and saw an ad for temporary tattoos, and I thought…’YES’!!!
It started with some dipdye bleaching until I had a variety of blues playing across the cotton fabric. Then I started applying the temporary tattoo, which was a few days of my life. First transferring the tattoo to the cloth, then treating it to make sure that the tattoo didn’t just peel off. Waiting for things to dry is sheer torture. But I love the way it looks! I put a few clear, acrylic jewels on the petals like water drops.
Studded, but in a sweet, feminine, Gucci kind of way.
This awesome carp tattoo looks amazing on the back pockets, across from the gold lame lined distressed pocket. All you need to look summer blessed is a vintage t-shirt and some glitter slides. These shorts are hand painted, distressed and embellished. They’re badass in the most effortless way.
And they only took a year to make.
See you next time!
Faith/Sassy Ethnic Bohemian
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Handpainted,upcycled denim shorts with tattoos, size 6
Re-worked, upcycled SEB Market BK handpainted tattoo cutoffs have been bleached and temporary tattoos applied on the left front and left back pocket. Sequins, acrylic jewels, stars, studs and mini-pearls have been applied.
Right side front and back pocket are slashed. Left back pocket is lined with gold lamé. Made of cotton, polyester and elastane. Rise is 10.25 inches. Waist is about 29. Jorts are 12 inches from waistband to hem. *Price includes shipping and handling. **United States customers only, no international shipping.
Glitter shower shoes, size 7
Gold glitter double strap slides. Buckles are operational. Contoured soles for comfort, glitter for style. Brand new and never worn.
10 inches from the big toe to the heel. 3 1/2 across the widest part of the foot. *Price includes shipping and handling. **United States customers only, no international shipping.
Handpainted PUNK denim jacket by SEB Market BK, $150
This adorable jacket went from worst to first with some handpainting, embroidered patches, safety pins and sweet punk rock stars.
It's an extra small, and measures 20 inches from shoulder to hem, 17 inches from armpit to armpit. 14 inches across the back. Sleeves are 24.5 inches long. Jacket comes with a pouch of extra stars for you to play with. *Domestic, American shipping only.
So while I was gone from blogging I started selling pre-loved and vintage clothes on platforms like ebay, depop and etsy. At first it was just straightforward selling, like I wasn’t altering the pieces, just posting them. Then one day I rescued a Coach bag that had worn patches on the front and a busted strap, but was perfect on the back and interior. I messed with it and it ended up selling on ebay. Then I played with a thrifted red leather vintage 80s crossbody that I had in my inventory for about 2 years. Then I sold a sweatshirt. So now I’m a fashion designer with my own label. Why fight fate?
The PUNK jacket started life as a mass produced item treated to look like an authentic punk rockers jacket. Soft, distressed lightwash denim with a screenprinted band poster on the back. Originally created by Bethany Mota, I saw it and knew that I could do better.
I decided to punch up the faded colors on the back panel with acrylic paint, and then adding a silver leather star I got at the fabric store. I used black paint to emphasize lines and to punk up the PUNK lettering. I used gold and black to create a frame, and then put a safety pin at each corner (because punk rock). I chose silver stars instead of pyramid studs for a girly touch. Recently I painted the arms and inside of the cuffs for more edge.
What I love about is that it reminds me of movies like She’s Gotta Have It and Desperately Seeking Susan, 80s films with cool downtown heroines that whipped up fashion frenzy in every scene. You can wear it with sparkles or dress it down with jorts. Layer it over a hoodie in the cooler months to keep that Nancy Spungeon look going.
Shop the look!
Jay x Jay Godfrey sequinned black dress, size 0
Halter style with spaghetti straps. Open back, side pockets in the skirt. Measures 34 inches from shoulder to hem, 16 from armpit to armpit, 14 across the waist. Brand new, never worn.
*Domestic, American shipping only.
Converse All Stars white low tops, women’s size 8
Classic low-tops, already broken in. Measures 10.75 inches from toe to heel, 3.5 inches across the widest part of the foot. Can fit men's size 6. Shipping included in price. *Domestic, American shipping only.
Comes with detachable brass chain strap. Looks like vintage, some wear at top of flap. Measures 12.5 x 7, 19 in strap drop. *Domestic, American shipping only.
Red tank top, size S
Ribbed cotton/poly. 24 inches from shoulder to hem, 13 inches from armpit to armpit. Brand new, never worn. *Domestic, American shipping only.
SEB Market BK handpainted jorts, size 28″
Hand cut and handpainted denim shorts with one embroidered patch. They are folden in this photo to show the front and back paint colors (white, pastels). Super comfy premium cotton denim, perfect for summer days or wear with tights and combats in the cooler months. 28" waist, 12 inches ling from waist to hem in front, 13 in back. Waistband sits at waist. *Domestic, American shipping only.
Manas Designs leather motorcycle boots, size 41
Soft Italian leather boots with zipper trim. Round toes, lug soles, chink heel and side zipper. The type of boot that looks incredible with a sundress. Fits women's US 9.5/10. Price includes shipping. *Domestic, American shipping only.