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:
One thing I miss about my old creative life was discovering new talent to showcase. I’ve been in the house looking through images and thinking about how much I miss working with other creatives on fashion shoots. Building ideas, pulling looks, finding models is all really exciting and fun. Obviously right now is not the time to be doing that? But a funny opportunity came up and…
I had a shoot! Kind of.
I’ve been following this awesome stylist named Chi Ilochi (@igbohippie) because I love the colorful backdrops she poses against wearing outfits that exemplify thrift store chic. I’ve been dying to work with stylists and cos time designers so I took a chance and I asked her if she would be interested in styling with some vintage pieces from my etsy shop. After looking through everything, she settled on a 40s theme representing the more formal way that black women dressed during that era. She chose a pair of vintage 90s silk pants by Valerie Stevens, so of course I sent all of this:
Because I am what’s known as extra. I felt like these pieces together would be a good jumping off point for her idea. The rabbit fur jacket from 90s label Absolue Paris has a real 40s feel, and I think this type of plaid blouse would have been popular then. The blouse and the Anne Klein woven paper bag were pieces that I bought for inventory recently and hadn’t listed yet. I was really curious to see what Chi would do with this box of vintage slayage.
Here’s what happened:
She was also kind enough to answer a few questions about her burgeoning career, how she scouts locations, and ways to stay stylish on those zoom meetings. Get into it!
I love how you bring the color and flavor of Pittsburgh into your styling. How do you find these amazing backdrops?
Thank you so very much, that truly means a lot! It’s funny you ask, a lot of my inspiration for backdrops, various locations is inspired by Brooklyn and its murals and black artists. Oftentimes I find backdrops by accident, or I see something bright and bold while out and take a mental note that I’ll shoot there. I can honestly say it’s rarely planned but it’s always destined.
I read in an interview that you felt like an outcast growing up. Now that your fashion career is taking off, do you feel that your individualistic outlook is paying off?
Absolutely! I’m a firm believer that any and everything we experience in this life is for a reason. And that reason may be to help ourselves as we grow, or help someone else from experience who may have experienced something similar. It’s safe to say that those feelings I felt during adolescence became the core of the inspiration for my style. Of course I didn’t know that at the time, but I see now that it was confirmation and there was a divine plan and purpose set in place for what I felt and experienced. I must say the thought of “my fashion career taking off” makes me very nervous but I’ll just buckle up for the ride!
Do you feel pressure to sexualize your look or to conform to the current exaggerated body proportions that we’re seeing on social media and entertainment?
Wow. Great question! Now that I think about it I’ve never felt any pressure to conform to the current exaggerated body proportions that we see today. I never let the pressure of the world take me out of my element. The world wants we black women to do that in literally every single aspect of our lives. I always have to remain true to myself above all else. If I want to serve a sexy, chic, casual, streetwear look I will, it all depends on how I feel and the kind of piece I’m styling.
Thank you! Fashion Bomb Daily nominated me for it after they highlighted me as “Bombshell of the Day”. I wasn’t expecting that at all! To be Bombshell of the Day was an honor considering the fact that it’s been a goal of mine since 2017. I figured why not go for “Bombshell of the Week”! Winning doesn’t take anything away from me or anyone else, and losing doesn’t make me less than. It was truly an honor all around I still can’t believe it!
How do you deal with quarantine stress and do you have any wfh/homeschooling styling tips to help our readers prep for those zoom sessions?
I’ve been handling it well I must say! I believe at some point humans need to be around other humans no matter how strong you are mentally. We thrive off of it. I’ve dealt with my stress and anxiety through prayer, reading, positive affirmations, walks, working out.
I recommend stylists listen to Brittany Diego’s Podcast “The Fashion School Dropout”, it’s AMAZING and very inspirational and informative. I also recommend stylists try virtual styling, virtual styling sessions, consultations, studying their field of styling, creating vision boards of what they want, who they want to work with, and how they envision themselves after this quarantine is over. It’s transformative and it works!
As a lifelong introvert, I’m no stranger to staying in while the sun is shining and everyone else is off having fun. Ever since I was a kid, staying in was my favorite option. I was the weirdo that had to be forced outside and had no one to play with when I got there. I read book after book, fought with my brothers and thought up crazy ideas for what I would be when I grew up. None of which involved being (self) quarantined because of a global pandemic. This current time period is straight from a scifi movie.
I’ve only been in here for 8 days, so far. On April 1st I find out if anything is happening with my job, so for all intents and purposes I have nowhere to be until April 2nd. So what am I up to? Am I stir crazy? Lonely? Panting to leave? No! I’m busy. Busy af. Here’s why:
Just before I went in for the long haul, I had a long talk with my Mommy. We haven’t spoken in a few years because I remembered some things and I felt justified in withholding love and attention from her. I’m an adult and she can’t make me do anything. Enter coronavirus and I realized that whatever happened, happened. That’s all. It was just stuff that happened a long time ago and I have to let that go. The first thing I did as I was prepping for quarantine was run up and down Utica Avenue putting a box of wigs, haircare products and a big African gown for Easter. That’s how I love people, I shop for them.
This stuff is for her next box, an early Mother’s Day present. Kmart on 34th Street was closing and I started slowly looking through the place, extracting style gold for my Mommy. I didn’t get shoes, because I was trying to do a surprise and my brothers didn’t text me back when I asked for the shoe size. I figured two full outfits, plus a nice housecoat (the blue and green folded item), and I got her a long slip because her generation wore them. Florals are cheery and colorful, so I know she’ll smile when she wears these tops. The bottoms are stretchy, for her comfort. Plus a book of bible verses, because she not only believes in God, but she prays for me. I figure this will help her pick topics to focus on.
I ran all over the place looking for someone to love me, and all I needed to do was love my mom and let her love me back. It’s so peaceful.
2. My laundry:
I had laundry piled up before quarantine happened, but things have entered a critical area. No undies and no inclination to wash them myself. Also some thrifted items that I was supposed to send out so that I could post them. And my favorite socks were dirty. And my workout clothes need cleaning. And I want to have all of my sheets available. LUCKILY the laundry service is considered essential (think hospitals and nursing homes, not just for people too lazy to use the laundromat in the building like me) but now they’re only picking up at night. I got half the laundry out, with the next load ready for next week.
So now I can clean the bathroom and decide if I’m finally going to finish that storage table I made and then left unfinished.
I decided to branch out and try a new natural haircare provider and I found Fro.ology on Etsy. She had all the products I had grown to love, with improvements. I got the Hair Tea Rinse, $12, which has lavender, peppermint, and chamomile to soothe and nurture the scalp and encourage growth. The Onion and Garlic Hair Oil, $10, is an anti-microbial (kills the fungus that causes danduff) with vitamin c, infused with hibiscus, rosemary and lavender. I used this as soon as I got it because my scalp was so dry and it works wonders. I also ordered the Super Thick Deep Conditioner, $10, which contains aloe vera, rose water and rice protein. It is indeed thick, and super moisturizing. I used it this afternoon and after leaving it on for an hour (I got busy and forgot about it) I rinsed with cold water as directed, patted dry and had the curl definition promised.
And did I mention that Gianni, the business owner, included a full shower cap and tea infuser? I really appreciated that touch. The products are great, the shipping is fairly quick (about 5 days as she makes the products to order), and I’m definitely sticking with this brand for the long haul. Make sure you check out Fro.ology on instagram, too.
The night before I had to come in the house I raided Target’s beauty aisles and ordering products online because boredom is real. I have also been lagging behind on my total body selfcare. I have been running and running for 3 years, swinging from job to job before finally ending up where I wanted to be as a Visual Merchandiser. I’m getting better at merchandising, and getting bigger assignments. But I was tired from all the crappy jobs that made me feel like a cog in the wheel. I figured this quarantine isn’t just about the corona virus, it’s about me.
I barely ever have time to do my nails. I bought a tube of depilatory and it’s still sitting in the bathroom. I NEED to take care of myself to feel good about me. After 8 days, I am starting to shed the stressful, pinched feeling that I’ve been carrying and starting to forgive myself for mistakes and starting to feel good about whatever future is going to be there for me. This is the first time in three years that I can stay home and not be afraid of losing my job or not being able to pay rent. I know it was caused by something bad, I do feel for the people that are sick and dying. But it also reminds me to LIVE.
Last but not least, I’m going to the post office on April 1st, and I’d love to be able to mail out some new, used , vintage or upcycled items for you guys to flex in. I’m having a yellow tag sale on selected items and bundles. Go to http://www.depop.com/sebmarket and get 25% off on yellow tag items, and if you do a bundle of 3 or more items, you get 25% off as well as free shipping. If you’re on the app, I’m @sebmarket.
How are you dealing with self-quarantine? Are you even in the house? If not, please remember masks, hand sanitizer, handwashing and staying 6 feet away from others to help flatten the curve. I know it all seems scary, but you can only control yourself. Do the right thing, and try to help others if you can
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.