Excited!!! Im going to LIVE at the Regeneration pop up next weekend🎉 and they’re having a launch party! (Not just for me, Artists and Fleas is proud to launch their new baby market!). Regular hours are every weekend from 11am to 6pm, at 70 N 7th Street in Williamsburg, but this week? There’s a party from 5pm to 7pm!🎉🤗
Here are the deets:
Shop 20+ vintage, thrift and upcycled fashion sellers at the Regeneration Celebration Saturday, September 25th from 5-7pm. Special guests include @screamie_weemie stick-and-pokes, @toothcharm tooth gems, mochi from @theboiisco, live stream shopping and $20 shopping credit from ShopShops (download the app here and get $20 spending credit to shop the market!), drinks from Recess, custom jewelry from @lesmissnyc, DJ sets from @poptrainrecords and more.
I went by there on Sunday to take a look, and its adorable.
I don’t usually post mid-week, but its Wednesday and I want to make sure I promoted that fact that I, and some curated preloved and vintage fashion, will be at Regeneration (70 N 7th Street in Williamsburg) this Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.
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.
I went to my first estate sale this week. It’s something I’ve built a fantasy around, but most are out in the suburbs or New Jersey so it seemed like too much trouble. Somebody I’m not speaking to now found this one for me on Clubhouse (I’m only mentioning them because I didn’t find this on my own, and want to illustrate how information gets exchanged on there), and it turned out to be an hour from my job and near a bus route. So I went from thinking it was impossible to planning the day and time I was going. Just that quick.
I am going to admit right now that I used this trip as an excuse to get a burrito. The burrito had farro instead of rice, and lean pork instead of beef and this was a business trip, so… Anyway. Managed to get to Port Authority full of food, and only stood at the wrong gate for half an hour. Then I miraculously managed to pull up to the right gate in the neck of time to catch the bus. Magic. It was definitely the burrito that saved me.
The directions were perfect (well, I blinked and missed my stop and had to wait for a bus back and it turned out that I could have walked 🤦🏿♀️), and I was able to find the house easily. There was a line and one woman was loudly complaining, which felt inappropriate on the doorstep of someone’s home. People came flying out with big bags of stuff and then the hardened regulars shouted ‘anything left’, which felt weird to me. Because I could see this happening to me after I’m dead and it gave me chills.
I still went in, but I stayed quiet and patient, looking around the pretty yard with the wishing well, trees and bench feeling strange. Someone thought carefully about this yard and everything in it. Someone chose the monogrammed stone planters that flanked the door and the red paint that made house seem both warm and dramatic. When it was finally my turn to go in, I realized that even though I was uncomfortable I just had to see what the place looked like. And it was just as adorable inside, I can’t lie.
I’m didn’t want to take too many pics, but there was sooooooo much stuff! Housewares, furniture, bags, jewelry, shoes, racks of clothing, Christmas ornaments and chatchkes. At first I felt weird, but then I just started looking and evaluation, realizing that I was touching 90s and Y2Kvintage that had been in use. There some bags that were a little tatty, but would have been at home on SATC. She really liked leather booties with stilletto heels. And embroidered shoes. And colors. And costume jewelry.
I started curating s collection with a theme and I even negotiated a deal on some higher end items when disaster struck… they expected cash. I have some emergency cash I keep around, but I never use it. And they didn’t have WiFi so I couldn’t move money to my PayPal. I thought for a second and ended up leaving everything. Now I realize that I could have asked them to total it and send me an invoice and then I could have picked up my stuff later, but I wasn’t thinking. I just assumed that the universe was telling me to get out of there and leave that dead lady’s stuff alone.
Even though I left empty handed, I’m glad I went. Now I thinking about writing a will with instructions as to how to handle all the stuff I’ll be leaving, passwords to my online shops and blog, plus how the money in my accounts will handled. I’m not sure how long it will be before I brave another estate sale, but it was a good experience overall. At least now I’ve done it.
One thing about the past year of worrying, anxiety causing, horrifying and alarming events was having to retreat into a bubble (quarantine) and having to really and seriously think about what I would do if my job didn’t come back. Luckily I’ve been selling stuff online since 2015, and I had that to fallback on. My online business gave me something to focus on and a lifeline, since so many were shopping online.
The last few months have been collectively better than the last few years, and the last few weeks have been amazing. But this week really floored me because I sold items that I had refashioned and handpainted, which made me super happy. I believe in everything that I list, since I picked these things to sell, but when I sell something that I personally created, it’s like having wings on my heart.
This week I sold a handpainted denim jacket for full asking price and I was on the floor because I also sold a pair of penny loafers that I reworked into fun fashion statements. I think these are so cute, tbh. I wanted to do something that suggested spats and had an old fashion, 30s feel. I’ve sold designer, vintage and plain old used but selling items that express my personal creative outlook is icing on the cake.
This week I sold a handpainted denim jacket, these shoes and a striped sweater with embroidered patches. I started experimenting with reworking and upcycling items in 2018, and I’ve sold 16 items, from bags, to tiedyed t-shirts to shoes. One the one hand, it’s an economic endeavor because I do want my items to sell, but they’re also individual artistic statements. I put a lot of effort into every piece, even the ones that seem simple like dip bleached jean shorts. I took a sashiko stitching class, bought a sewing machine, spent days in the bathroom tie dying. Every sale gives me the energy to work on more ideas. I’m dying to get into screen printing.
6 years ago I was just trying to make a little money selling blogger perks and thrifted items and now I’m a fashion designer. Granted, there are tons and masses of people ironing on patches, bleaching, tie dying g and stitching items. A lot of people have sewing machines and are doing creative things with them. I’m not the only person handpainting denim jackets, and I’m not the only one who loves drawing hearts. But that doesn’t stop me. You can’t always be the first and only, but you can do what makes you feel happy and creative and not worry about the competition.
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!
I started following Jerelyn Tavarez of DresslikeJ on instagram after participating in a #consistencychallenge led by lifestyle inluencer The Mattie James during quarantine. I got to witness her work at stayI got creative when we were all stuck inside and slowly I started looking forward to her fashion styling magic. It’s not just about looking at some random person wearing clothes? It’s that she messes with her stuff so that it completely expresses her personality. At this point, I cringe at them word fashion (honestly) so it takes a lot for me to like personal style bloggers. But how can you dislike someone who will turn her clothing inside out, upside down and backward?
You can’t. It’s impossible. She makes dressing up look like fun, plus she will have you running to your closet to play with your own stuff which can either lead to a lot of compliments or just a fun evening drinking wine and dressing up. What I like about DresslikeJ is that she leaves her followers room to be delighted, both with her ingenuity and their own possibilities. Who doesn’t need that? So I sent Jerelyn a few items from my online shops to work her magic on.
Jerelyn chose a Farm patterned kimono top dress that slimmed down to a pencil skirt, bold statement earrings and an upcycled denim jacket that I designed. I can’t lie, I was really excited to see how she would work with these pieces. She did not let me down.
Perfection! Jerelyn gives off a casual but glam summer vibe, and I love how she puts a red and blue dress with a bright yellow shoe and gold bag. It’s a subtle nod to the gold flecks in the earrings, and brings a shot of surprise to the outfit that makes it a head turner.
True to her style, she turned the dress around and it’s stunningly sexy. The tie across the front is reminiscent of a harness bra or a lariat necklace. It’s sensational. Jerelyn told me “I loved the dress as is! Wanted to add a pop of yellow to feel a little vibrant. Then I thought of wearing it backwards. Instead of hiding the strings figured I would create a cute little detail in the front. Voila, a different outfit!”
Here’s how Jerelyn styled my upcycled piece: “The jacket was the main focus so I didn’t want to take away from it. Decided to do something different and align the jacket a bit uneven. Paired it with a pair of blue track pants and wore my strappy sandals. Decided to wrap the straps around the pants for a more stylish look!”
Of course I had to get Jerelyn to give a little interview for the blog.
The DresslikeJ interview:
SEBMarketBK: What got you into fashion blogging?
DresslikeJ: I would always get compliments on my style. People would ask me, “where did you get that?” I would tell them it’s just a top I wore backwards or a dress I wore as a skirt and they would be shocked. Social media started becoming such a huge source for information so my friends started pushing me to start expressing my love for clothes and style on IG. In November, I started with Fashion Tip Fridays then during quarantine, I was able to dedicate more time and work on new ideas. I also have to thank Sidewalker Daily. I was taking a group coaching class and they played such a huge role in me creating the newsletter.
SEBMarketBK: You have such a fun, sexy style! Where does your inspiration come from?
DresslikeJ: Thank you! My inspiration comes from everywhere. I get ideas from anything and I also like to switch up the way we might normally wear a specific item. I love both Solange & Tracy Ellis Ross’s style. & I love combining different patterns and prints. Accessorizing is key to me.
SEBMarketBK: If you had to pack a bag for a mystery trip leaving in an hour, what would you grab?
DresslikeJ: Giiirrrlll!!! I’m going to assume this is a summer trip and it’s for the weekend haha! So I would grab two swimsuits, sunglasses, 2-3 head wraps, a maxi dress, a bikini top to pair with some dressy pants, Nike sandals, two pairs of biker shorts, two tees, one sexy fitted dress, a pair of dramatic earrings. Oh and a pair of cute flats that go with everything plus a pair of sexy heels! Oh and can’t forget my liquid highlighter!!! Need to have that glow where ever I am!
SEBMarketBK: Have you picked up any new styling skills from quarantine? I’ve been able to be more creative with my own fits and recycle pieces I never thought I’d wear again. I’ve also been trying to learn how to use safety pins correctly! Sounds crazy but I would always have my friends do it for me.
SEBMarketBK: Where do you see DresslikeJ in five years? What do you want for yourself and your brand?
DresslikeJ: Wow! I am hoping to have my own fashion consulting business and an online boutique where people can buy my pieces!
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.
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.
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.
I got Alissa to answer a few questions about her images and her plans for the future.
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.
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.
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.
I was thinking about what to blog about this week as I was scrubbing up in the shower and then I realized that I wanted to write about some of the black owned brands that I’ve been buying from. As a former beauty and fashion influencer, I now hate everything. Partly because I was just used as a lure for big businesses that find it cheaper to throw a party and give away merchandise that they can write off and still profit. Partly because after testing so many products that were not meant for my skin or hair I realized that I was a pure idiot to keep promoting a system that doesn’t really see me as valuable. So, now I try to buy from small, independent and Black companies. If I’m going to influence people, then I want to influence them to help build new companies and business moguls.
I came across Goldenbrownskin LLC after they posted on Fashion Bomb Daily’s instagram page. I started with the Rose lip gloss ($4) and ended up going back for the Coconut and Rose brown sugar scrub ($27.95) that looks super expensive and pretty in the bathtub edge. My items were created, packaged and shipped quickly, and the owner was really nice about answering messages and whatnot. You really feel that there’s a human being behind the screen making beauty magic for you.
One night I was looking for something to buy and I noticed that they were offering Wholesale lipgloss. You get 40 to 100 tubes custom made for you. I chose five flavors and GBS worked with me to create the colors that I wanted. They basically went flavor by flavor with me specifying my color choices and then sending me photos of the progress. I sell them and give away tubes with items that I sell in my online shops and people adore them.
Of course I had to be nosy. I love finding out about people’s processes and ideas. So here, in her own words, is Goldenbrownskin LLC:
SEB Market BK: What made you start a business for yourself?
Goldenbrownskin LLC: I started a business for myself because I noticed I work better alone. I’ve always been a leader, a creative & I enjoy helping others.
SEB Market BK: What inspired your Upcycled designs? Did you go to fashion school?
Goldenbrownskin LLC: I have a lot of old clothes & I don’t like being around crowds of people so I normally just rework the items I have. I love to see ideas come to life. I’ve never been to any fashion school, I just watch a lot of YouTube, lol.
SEB Market BK: Your lipgloss is amazing! How did you get into creating your collection and what got you into selling wholesale?
Goldenbrownskin LLC: Thank you so much! I started making lip gloss because I wanted to experiment with a variety of products, that women would shop for all the time. I enjoy doing wholesale more than making individual lipgloss because I like helping others start their own business.
SEB Market BK: You’re taking orders for custom t-shirts now. Are you going to be designing a collection exclusively for Goldenbrownskin?
Goldenbrownskin LLC: I have started taking t-shirt orders, but I am still practicing. I’m not sure if that’s something I’d get into, I really enjoy making custom tees for other people. But of course a branded t-shirt with “Goldenbrownskin” has to happen!
SEB Market BK: Tell me about your latest product, Dragon Butter. It looks like the secret to perfect summer skin!
Goldenbrownskin LLC: Yes, so my body butters are my new favorites. Everything is natural & homemade. My fav body butter is the dragon butter, I love the strawberry scent. The body butters a natural raw African Shea butter. The Shea butter is great in healing and evening out your skin tone. Works great for individuals with any skin disorders via eczema, psoriasis, rashes etc
SEB Market BK: You’ve been really outspoken about the protests. How has the current climate affected you and what are you doing to make a difference?
Goldenbrownskin LLC: I haven’t personally been too affected by what’s been going on. I have a blended family so it’s a hard subject to speak on, but I have been donating 30% of each order to fund the BLM movement. It’s a very sad situation, something I truly don’t understand.
So, basically a savvy business owner with empathy, kindness, and social conscience as part of her business plan. In other words, a Queen building an empire of love. Yes, I do see what just wrote. I said what I said. Click to check out Goldenbrownskin, and follow her awesome instagram, too.
I promised las week that this would be about nothing, and here it is…nothing.
This week I had a job at Macy’s Herald Square and I was scared that it would be all ruined and busted up because of looting. It was actually normal inside, down to the snotty security guard who always tries to imply that I’m a criminal (no, he’s not that color, he’s African). I basically had to go in with a team of two and supervise sending a company’s merchandise back because it’s all stuff that was on sale while we were in the house on quarantine. So that’s reality; stores getting ready for all of us to go shopping this summer.
I tried making bath bombs, using a kit that I bought from Organically Bath Beauty. I’ve been thinking about making them for a long time, and this list solved all of my issues by having pre-mixed dry ingredients and a decent sized mold. I also got the refill kit, so I’ve have a lot of material to experiment with.
I sold this jacket. I was really proud of it the day I finally finished it, and I was so sure that it would get snapped right up. I even paid for photos because I wanted to make it as appealing as possible. A year later someone plopped down $225 and it was gone. Amazing, right?
This is a chair. I broke off the leg of this chair in February, I think. For some reason I was convinced that I couldn’t fix this chair. I was using a spray can to prop it up instead of fixing the problem. This week I managed to fall off of the chair four times because the cap on the spray can was not meant to bear the weight of a quarantining woman who knows how to cook. So I finally resolved to fix the chair. It took about 15 minutes.
This chair symbolizes my procrastination issue.
I will do anything but the thing I’m supposed to do. Which is why I went into quarantine with an expiring state ID and an expired passport. I had also put off studying to take the driving test and I had put off bike riding lessons (I’m terrified about riding in the street, I just need lessons for reassurance). I had put off fixing up my apartment, buying a new mattress and calling my mom. It was really sad. It’s a terrible thing to know that a pandemic was the best thing to happen to you. I needed this time to get a life.
I’m still putting off exercise, though. As you can see…
I’m not big on combing my hair anymore, either. I take care of it with Fro.ology products, I twist it and then let it out to be free. It’s summer now. My head gets hot really quick, so wigs are out right now. The world is going to get this 4C perfection.
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: