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.
It’s been six months! And looking back, it was an eventful, if lonely, six months. From January first to right now I’ve been to Philadelphia, got pedicures, went to the movies and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, went to work, went to my first estate sales, went to a bunch of sample sales, went to vintage sales. Made friends with people on Clubhouse, then had that blow up in my face (reminding me that people are desperate for connections right now and I need to watch who I get comfortable talking to). I took horseback riding lessons! I can now ride a bike and a horse, so if the world goes nuts I have two new means of survival transport.
Because of course horses will be running the streets in full English saddles. But let’s go on.
I’m much better at cooking and now I’m starting to look for new recipes and ingredients because I really like cooking and posting pics to my Instagram. That satisfies me and gives me a record of how creative I am. It feeds my ego and makes me believe in myself. I’m better at my reselling business, too. I look for new ways to buy inventory and I’m going to take a sewing class for my upcycling ideas (love to start them, then get bored/discouraged halfway through and stop. This must end!), and I’m going to start looking at fashion magazines again. That keeps my eye informed, and gives me ideas to expand on. I’m reading books again! I had stopped, and back in 2019 realized that I was just going to work and coming home and just staring at screens like a zombie. Now I’m up and awake and reading and remembering to take a book with me when I go out.
I literally used to win awards in elementary school FOR READING, but about six or eight months ago couldn’t read a book without getting bored. That’s some wild shit.
Things I like:
Taking pics of my stuff and selling the stuff
Paying taxes. Yes. I am an adult making enough (barely) to be in a tax bracket.
Cooking and taking pics of my food. I’m going to make videos soon.
Making soap. Yep, taking a soap making class soon.
Taking classes. Bike riding, sashiko stitching, visual merchandising, horseback riding, soap making…taking classes is fun and even if you don’t use the info that second, it will be in your mind when you need it.
Being consistent. I blog every Saturday, because it’s good for me and it gives me something to look forward to. Being consistent is good for your mental health.
Walking, riding my bike, doing my exercises.
Being alive. I like it, it’s working for me.
Making things. I love spray painting, making soap, stitching things, making paper and taking photos.
What I hate:
I’m not dwelling on that shit anymore. Stuff happened, some good and some things that were so bad that I had to pretend they never happened. I’ve had a year and a half to think things through, and I’m just going to let all of that die and keep it moving. I’m on my own and I’m going to make the best of the life I have right now. If anyone has issues with me and they don’t say anything, then there are no issues. I refuse to dwell on or stress out about what I don’t know about. I am minding the business that pays me.
I haven’t gotten a pedicure in a minute, and that minute includes pre-COVID. In my usual procrastinating manner, I kept promising myself spa days and then not quite getting around to it. Just shortchanging myself by not keeping my own promises. Tragic. But it’s a new year and I decided that I need to make my feet a priority, not just out of vanity, but because when you take care of your feet they take care of you. But it was super important that I go to the right place. So of course I used instagram to find the perfect pedicure. Of course.
Remember when I blogged about Fro.ology and GoldenBrownSkin? Well, I was on the lookout for manicurist of the same caliber: brilliant, talented and black. I want to feel that same level of comfort that other people get to feel when they get services from people that share their racial and cultural background. I want to feel welcome and at peace with where I am. And I still want a perfect pedi and great service. I’ve been following Shaneeka for awhile and when I finally got it together to make a appointment, I was gratified to find myself using a streamlined online process that had me booked in minutes.
I have big feet that I have to remind myself to sand down, so I won’t be making any foot fetish cash, but I do believe that a good pedicure makes you feel better about life. It’s like lingerie. Polished toes and smooth soles make me feel like I’m in control of my life. I got super excited about getting Shaneeka’s Charcoal Pedicure ($40) and I was not disappointed. There was soaking, a delicious scrub, the mask and a massage. I had asked for a paraffin treatment as well, since I got addicted to them at bliss, but I actually didn’t need it. And she was super chill, down to earth and professional. I usually don’t talk during services, but I felt like I was hanging out with a friend instead of someone who’s just grabbing my money.
Here’s the finished pedicure, after being sprayed with oil, wrapped in plastic plus my socks and rainboots. Perfect condition when I got home. 10/10 recommend Nail Diva BK if you’re in Brooklyn. We started on time, and she was done within the time frame quoted. She does all of the little things that I’ve gotten used to from going to upscale places like Nail Bar in Chicago and Bliss in New York, and she was nice enough to use the polish that I made. I love dark colors for toes and since I started making polish during quarantine, I’m now in love with the idea of only wearing my own. Win/win. I can’t wait to show my boat feet off this summer!
Way back in the mists of time I studied photography and at the time I already felt like I wasn’t going to make a lot of money taking pictures, so I took graphic design, public speaking and book and paper making to give myself a fall back plan just in case. As we all know, just in case is happening right now.
Book and Papermaking actually made me really happy, and I loved making books. For a little while I was actually selling my handmade blank books at Quimby’s in Chicago (apparently they moved to Brooklyn, too), which let me know that if I were willing to put in the work, making books and paper could be a real hustle. Unfortunately I let it fall by the wayside as I chased a photography career and it’s been years since I even thought of making paper or books.
Enter the pandemic!
When it became obvious that this quarantine was going to be a long haul thing, I racked my brains for ways to stay busy and creative and make money. My job is retail adjacent so I wasn’t optimistic about going back full time. With unemployment kicking in an extra $600 I bought supplies for all of my creative endeavors so when the money ran out I would have everything I needed to sustain my efforts. One thing I bought was a papermaking kit. One sunny day I ripped up about two cups of printer paper and some Starbucks napkins and got started making my first sheets of paper in a decade. And it calmed me down.
Once you get started, it’s like riding a bike; you just get in and start creating. And since I can never just leave stuff alone, I started experimenting. Using water color paint to color pulp or paint on finished sheets, layering in found objects, and finding new ways to recycle paper scraps. I spent some time tie dying and saved the paper towels that I had laid down to soak up excess dye during the process. When I ended up with excess pulp, I put it in baggies an popped it in the freezer. It’s a zero waste kind of hobby.
I used one of my little cards as packaging for my first custom soap order. I think I’m going to make cards with envelopes to start with, because I’m really liking the process. Of corse I posted everything on instagram, as one does these days, and I was approached to create a papermaking tutorial video for Creative Sunday, which is going to be a new app and marketplace for creative makers. Much respect to bloggers, because I found making a video to be a monumental pain. I shot in little steps and over the course of a week figured out iMovie and realized that you need a compression app to make the movie small enough to email.
But check out my reward… and since I was curious, I did a little interview with Creative Sunday founder, Lauren Michaels.
Creative Sunday interview:
SEBMARKETBK: What is Creative Sunday?
Lauren Michaels: We are a new app to get crafty! Creative Sunday was made to help anyone create and shop their craft, whatever that may be. With thousands of supplies, that next project (big or small) is just a checkout away. You’ll be able to peek at projects from other makers and share what you’re doing too. 🙂
SEBMARKETBK: What inspired you to do this?
Lauren Michaels: I always loved making (drawing actually, but I’m not very good!). It is pure joy and gives me comfort. But, starting a new project is sometimes really overwhelming for me. Plus, I found myself shopping materials from multiple places and always wanting to see how others do their craft along the way, so that’s when I realized there might be a way to bring this all together. And, here we are! With a great team, we are creating a new app to bring ease and fun to your next project.
SEBMARKETBK: When do you launch?
Lauren Michaels: We are hustling and building away! The team is making strides each day and hope to have this coming your way soon.
SEBMARKETBK: How can makers participate?
Lauren Michaels: I absolutely love meeting new makers (like you, Faith!). It’s the highlight of my day. 🙂 Our Instagram celebrates the process of creating—messy, colorful and all. We love highlighting amazing creations from all types of makers, so just use the hashtag #creativesunday, to show us your project for a potential feature. And, please feel free to DM us anytime—we would love to hear from you and do something fun together!
You can follow Creative Sunday on ig until they get their app built and watch my papermaking tutorial here. Keep checking my etsy for paper products to drop in the next few months. handmade holiday cards! (Or thank you cards, I’m leaving them blank). here’s a list of Papermaking Resources on Amazon if you’re interested in trying to make paper yourself.
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.
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.
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.
This year I made a personal promise to actually buy things from local brands, startups and people I follow on instagram (who are local startups). I randomly found Frozen Medz and decided that what I needed was vegan, organic no dairy iced treats in my life. Ever do some random thing and have it reward you in ways you didn’t foresee? That’s where I’m at with this.
I had an unfortunate Haagen Dazs incident (there was a sale and I got three pints and ate them all within 24 hours) and I realized that if I’m going to continue to lose weight, I am going to need to leave the ice cream alone. Technically I could make my own stuff but I don’t feel like it. I found out about Frozen Medz just in time to save my summer sanity.
Above is my first order. The Blueberry Hibiscus Lemonade is basically sorrel with a twist (and includes plump blueberries in the bottle). If you’re not familiar, sorrel is a Caribbean/African drink made from hibiscus flowers and usually has ginger in it as well. And it’s super healthy. Sorrel is ambrosial when made properly. Frozen Medz has the ambrosial touch, for real.
I also tried the black girl magic fake ice cream and I was surprised at the creaminess, and how satisfying it was. I could take a bite and put it back in the fridge and be ok. I liked it, but I felt ok not greedily eating all of it. I fell madly in love with the tart sweetness of the Matcha Modness, a green tea sherbet that has green apples and green grapes along with her proprietary nut based iced dessert base. A nice scoop will leave you feeling refreshed and energized. I felt good about myself eating it, too.
Plus they deliver.
So win win all around.
I waited until they restocked and then ordered as much as I could. The shot with all the colors is: Pasa Pasa (fresh oranges, pineapple and mango), Island Vibe (a sorbet with pink pitaya, fresh strawberry and watermelon and organic lemonade), Rozelle (made from the same hibiscus leaves as the sorrel) and the Matcha Modness that we already discussed. And each flavor was as delicious as I had imagined. I re-upped on the hibiscus lemonade (too good)and got the Vanille Simple, which is exactly as it sounds.
This time I decided to play with my food.
I made these gluten free peanut butter cookies with plantain flour and the Vanille Simple (rolled in chia seeds) saved the day in an ice cream sandwich garnished with banana and peanut butter. I used the rest of the vanilla to make a peanut butter, banana ginger smoothie.
Then I got this little popsicle mold and started with the sorrel, mixed the rest of the Vanille Simple smoothie with the coconut chips that came with my order, mixed Matcha Modness with coconut milk and chia seeds, then mixed the Sorrel with coconut milk. So much fun. I am prepared for any hot weather frozen treat emergency.
I even made a cocktail:
I’ve been infusing some Tito’s vodka with fresh lemon and jalopeno and made a simple blended cocktail out of the Pasa Pasa and Matcha Modness sherbets. I threw the last of the coconut milk, a scoop of each sherbet and a quarter cup of the vodka into a blender, poured it all into a glass tumbler and garnished with a vodka soaked slice of jalopeno pepper.
That’s what I look for in a product, versatility.
Checkout Frozen Medz and get some goodies delivered, especially if you live in Brooklyn. They even have an app!
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
Shop this post:
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.
I was unexpectedly catapulted back into retail last year and I was bored. I was trying to think of a way to get a promotion while extending my job into something more creative, so I jumped on the Continuing Ed page at Fashion Institute of Technology‘s website to see if there was anything that I could turn into a bigger paycheck. I used to be a photographer, and have done some styling but I have no interest in doing photo shoots, so I had to find something that tied retail to art. Enter DE101 15A Prin D&E Dsgn – Small Scale Spring 2019 (a.k.a. Visual Merchandising)! I spent every Monday evening from February to May learning about why store displays look the way they look.
We had to build a foamcore shadowbox and every week there was a new assignment to create a contained display that expressed ideas and creativity without using words or being too obvious. This was the first assignment, white on white. Inspired by Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
The next week was a black and white assignment where I painted sheets of paper with fast drying acrylic paint (neatly referencing the previous week’s cotton balls in the white on black paint splatters) and using these awesome Steve Madden Harpir boots. It’s amazing how much fun you can have being creative when you’re just taking one class and it’s not causing you to take out crippling loans!
This one was about selling health & beauty products, so I chose my fave perfume and did a presentation inspired by Magritte’s The Banquet, a painting that features a huge red sun. I feel like I could have done the roses on the side walls a little better, but I was trying to invoke a sort of 70s vibe, and infuse my presentation with the spirit of both disco and tango. So…yeah.
We did the holidays (my family is from Guyana and I live near Eastern Parkway so I just drew on my own Caribbean culture for this one.), accessories and famous personalities (can you guess who I did for my personality presentation?). We had to make everything in class so that the instructor could see our thought process, so it meant packing up my art supplies and lugging my big bag of foamcore box parts from Brooklyn to Manhattan,making a ritual out of stopping at the Starbucks across the street from school.
For this one I painted the backdrop to evoke water, like the water you soak your feet in for pedicures. Blue is such a spa color to me. We had to take an element of the product and repeat it throughout the design. I sat in the class tracing a foot-shaped cardboard piece that came with some socks I bought. I just sat there cutting out construction paper feet and stamping them with a round sponge brush. Good times.
This was my final project. I was thinking to do something grand, but then I found out all we had to do was design a presentation with fruit as the product. We couldn’t cut the fruit, put holes in it, paint or carve it… I was a little disappointed, because I thought it would be something more sophisticated. I decided to make mine about lemons because I have an actual lemon plant that came out of a seed that I planted. Just pretend it’s a warm summer day and you’re relaxing and anticipating a tall, cool glass of lemonade form the giant lemons that came off of your tree.
I know, what a boring post!
What I took away from this class is that creativity never leaves you, and that having to build a presentation on the spot every Monday was a great exercise in discipline. I really like looking back at my shadowbox creations, and I can always use what I learned to improve my online stores or maybe go back to styling… Maybe. I’m definitely thinking of taking the large scale class where you dress mannequins. And I passed with an A, so I felt pretty darned accomplished.
SO! I was at a sale at this upscale store and I found this most gorgeous red bodysuit. The fabric feels and looks like crepe jersey, it’s beautifully sewn, and has a cutout that extends across the back to the sides. The color, a full tomato saucian red, is sizzling. It just doesn’t have any label, so I can’t tell the brand or designer.
Which didn’t stop me from snapping it up. No label doesn’t mean low quality. Look how elegant it looks with this swanky Banana Republic circle skirt and Steve Madden glitter boots. For going to the store or casually doing laundry while a photographer snaps every move. Just a normal outfit…
Or you could do this kind of 80s’ish look with some split sided track shorts (and tube socks and shower slides for the win). The shorts are not for sale- I’m really loving them? They’re from C&C California, but I found them at Century 21.
Red crepe jersey cutout bodysuit, size XS
Measures 26 inches from shoulder to crotch. 13 inches from armpit to armpit, unstretched. Waist covers about 8 inches in front. Hips are 12 across, unstretched. Sleeves are 21 inches long. Cutout is 8 x 14.
*Shipping is included in the price. **I only sell/ship in the United States.
Banana Republic Circle Skirt, size 6
Looks like duchesse satin, made of nylon/spandex/elastane with a polyester lining. Slash pockets at each hip. Wear with a T-shirt and cardigan, sheer blouse, bodysuit, bandeau top, corset or tank top. As versatile as a pair of jeans. Great condition. Measures 25 inches from waist to hem. Waist is 14 inches across, no stretch. 24 inches across the hips. Skirt flares out to 40 inches at the hem. *Shipping is included in the price. **I only sell/ship in the United States.
Steve Madden Harpir Booties, size 7.5
Rock star studded, glittery Steve Madden Harpir Booties in pewter. Sleek, pointed toe and 3 inch stiletto heel. From skirts to jeans, super wearable and versatile. Brand new, never worn. *Shipping is included in the price. **I only sell/ship in the United States.
Art Deco style acrylic bracelet, OS
Handmade black and silver stretch cuff is lightweight plastic and resin with sparkling oversized rhinestones. Has that punk with a side of debutante thing going on. Fits comfortably on a 7 inch wrist. *Shipping is included in the price. **I only sell/ship in the United States.
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.