COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . 11 Fire Questions with Model + Our Muse Amina Malual!

In a period of time when we're inundated with what feels like consistent bad news, we wanted to put some emphasis on the positive. This is the first instalment in our mini-series "Collective Conversations," a bi-weekly segment focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to model + fine arts major Amina Malual, a long-term collaborator of ours who is beautiful inside and out. To honour her as the star of our new Traditions campaign, we chatted to her about her traditions, growth and the importance of understanding what it means to be black and proud in today's world.

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Honest, loving and attentive. 

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

Heritage and tradition is in everything I do and everything I am. It’s in the food I eat, the clothes I wear, the languages I speak and the people I love. 

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

I’m passionate about the black experience as it relates to everyday life. Something I try to explore in my studies (BA of Fine Arts) is the intersection between two opposing cultures where most members of the African Diaspora find themselves. A question I find myself asking is what should I do at this intersection? What customs do I keep and what customs do I leave behind? Essentially, does assimilation equate to abandonment or is there a path I can take where both of my worlds can exist as one? These questions are what drive my art and push my curiosity to attain knowledge of self. To me, it’s not the tangible objects and goals that make me want to get up and go in the morning, it’s the conversations (just like these). It’s through these discussions of shared experiences that we come closer to understanding the black experience and what it means to be black and proud in predominantly non-black spaces. Understanding my identity as it relates to my environment is what fuels my spirit for learning. 

4. Who do you most admire? 

Without a doubt, the person I most admire is my mother. I cannot stress how important it is for me to stay as grounded as I can in who I am. An attribute I can only credit to my Ma. At my age, with her young child in hand, Ma had fled a war-torn country and walked thousands of miles on foot to reach the nearest boarder. Despite this, she still found the courage and resilience to stand up and be a leading voice for the women caught up in the war that refused to allow their situation determine their outcome. What a badass!

Her resilience and unwavering determination as a young woman continues to shine through to this day. I speak for every member in my family when I say that our mother is both the anchor that holds us and the compass that guides us. She’s everything I could ever hope to be and more. 

5. What is a weekly/monthly/fortnightly ritual or tradition you do for yourself? 

Taking a mental health day is definitely something I’ve tried to do more of lately. It’s not so much what I do on these days, but how they make me feel. 

I almost forgot the importance of days like these and it wasn’t until the lockdown measures were put in place that it really hit me. Consistently being exposed to high levels of stress often forces us to allow it as a norm. Amongst the turmoil, I was able to find peace through prayer, meditation and connecting with the people that matter to me. 

    6. What is something you’re proud of? 

    If you had asked me this question a week ago, I would’ve had a really hard time answering it. I’m a naturally anxious person when it comes to discussing myself. I have the habit of speaking highly others and, in the same breath, making some kind of self-deprecating joke (I’m still working on myself). 

    It wasn’t until I saw Laurinda and Fatuma on the weekend that I realised that I have a lot to be grateful for and, dare I said it, proud of. The second Laurinda saw me, she hugged me, looked into my eyes and said,“Chadwick Models, wow, congratulations! We are so proud of you." 

    What a beautiful feeling it is to be seen, especially by two strong black women. Every single time I work with the women at Collective Closets I leave feeling so much better about myself. So thank you Laurinda and Fatuma for reminding me to be proud of becoming a signed model. I love you both! 

    7. What's something you do to be kind to yourself? 

    I’m not sure if I was taught this by a friend or if I read it somewhere, but something I recently tried countering every bad thought I have about myself with a positive one. 

    8. What are some traditions that you’ve adopted from somewhere or someone else? 

    Self-care has become a big part of my daily routine, which to some might be an indication of privilege. And, to be fair, it is. The way we view self-care today wasn’t really an option for people like my mother who were not afforded the same luxuries. They definitely had bigger things to worry about. Despite this, it feels encouraging to know that I’m a part of a generation of black women that are able to talk about mental health and create spaces of healing. 

    9. How do you align and connect with your intuition?

    Connecting with my intuition is yet another self growth project of mine. Trusting my gut is something that I’ve only recently been able to achieve. 

    Looking back, I can really identify the times where not trusting my gut has led to my feelings and personal identity slipping through the cracks. Honestly, it makes me cringe but it also acts as a reminder that I may not know a lot . . . but I do know myself. 

    10. What's an assumption others make about you?

    I initially found it hard to answer this question, so enlisted one of my closest friends to help me out. I asked her about her initial thoughts about me and surprisingly she said, “I thought you were about your business, had your life together . . . and I was kind of intimidated by you." What?! Although, she did follow that up with “but then I realised you were a hot mess too,” so you can’t take that one with a grain of salt. 

    11. Is there an item you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future? 

    I already love everything from Collective, the diversity in textiles and texture are already so much much than I could ask for. But if I had to make a suggestion I guess I’d like to see more accessories for shy girls like me who love but are deathly afraid of colours. 

    COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . 11 Fire Questions with Singer-Songwriter Mwanje Tembo!

    In a period of time when we're inundated with what feels like consistent bad news, we wanted to put some emphasis on the positive. This is the first instalment in our mini-series "Collective Conversations," a bi-weekly segment focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to amazing singer-songwriter Mwanje Tembo. She hails from Zambia, is Botswana born and raised and now resides in Melbourne, where she makes music that explores everything from feminine energy to heartbreak. We chatted to her about performing, growing up, change and knowing yourself.

    1. Describe yourself in three words? 

    Creative, Intelligent, Hard-working.

    2. How have you been staying motivated? 

    Words of affirmation and staying connected to my goals. In these really scary and difficult times, it feels like we will never go back to the way things were. In many respects, that's exactly what we want but I do value some form of stability so I can re-align my goals. I am also putting less pressure on myself to be productive and doing things as they come naturally. 

    3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

    I am passionate about my people and community. Coming from Zambia but being born and raised in Botswana, I felt very disconnected from my own culture for a long time. As I educated myself and gained more knowledge of my history I was able to find more pride in my country and myself. I am determined to express my story as well as the stories of my people through my music and art while being a participant in the African sphere of art. Growing up in Botswana, we were heavily influenced by the art and music coming out of South Africa and Nigeria. I would love to see more collaborations and projects involving Africans from different countries, both on the continent and within the diaspora.

    4. Who do you most admire? 

    Black women. (PERIOD LOL). Black women have literally been my backbone my entire life. They have helped in the shaping and molding of who I am today, they encourage me to love myself and value sisterhood. My mother, sisters and friends inspire me to be and do better every single day. In their respective fields, they have motivated me to challenge myself and expand past what I initially thought I was capable of. My father has also been a huge role model in my life, he has taught me so much about professionalism, work ethic and entrepreneurship. These as all things I am working on within myself and would love to continue nurturing.

    5. What scares you the most about the unknown?

     As a person who likes being in control of every aspect of their work and craft, a lack of control is a very scary thing. Allowing yourself to be open to the tides of change and charging with no direction in mind requires deep confidence in your abilities and resources. I think this applies to every aspect of life, nobody likes feeling lost and disoriented but the strength and knowledge of self that you gain afterwards is so valuable.

    6. What is something you’re proud of? 

    I am proud of the art direction I'm currently on. Coming from a relatively conservative background I have found the courage within myself to explore past those lines. I hope to be as creative, eccentric and expressive as possible when it comes to the music and art I create especially as an artist coming straight from the continent. I have been influenced by music all over the world and would love to expand what music looks and sounds like on my journey, and encourage others to do the same.

    7. What's something you do to be kind to yourself? 

     I decided to be more conscious of my inner dialogue. My friends and family see the best in me as I consciously choose to communicate with love. I came to a point where I decided to talk to myself the same way I talk to them. Whenever I don't do my best or fumble the bag, I acknowledge my mistakes and try to stay kind to myself as I push to do and be better.

    8. What are you most looking forward to post-isolation?

    I cannot wait to perform again. I've definitely missed the rush of preparing for a set and the thrill right after executing it. I miss my band and being around other creatives. It's a special environment to be in and one I'm looking forward to returning to.

    9. How do you align and connect with your intuition? 

    I have discovered that there is a thin line between intuition and self-sabotage. I am learning to push past my fears, traumas and insecurities and trust the gut feeling when approaching certain situations based on what is in front of me. It's easy to make assumptions based on the negative experiences you've had in the past but to a certain extent. Sometimes we let that anxiety get the best of us and as a result, block our own blessings. Knowing yourself and your triggers really helps you to distinguish the difference between the two a lot easier. 

    10. What's an assumption others make about you? 

    That I am a loud and assertive all the time, I try my best to take up space artistically but I'm actually quite a shy person. I am extremely comfortable around the people I know but when meeting new people or when I'm introduced to a new environment I am likely to be quiet so I can take everything in. As I get more comfortable, I come out of my shell. I'd encourage everyone to live in their truth and take up space as confidently as possible, as I am learning to as well.

    11. Is there an item you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future? 

     I'd definitely love to see bodysuits and fitted clothing. I am a huge lover of African print, I love to wear and celebrate my culture so seeing cool and innovative designs would be lovely to see. I would also love to see a variety of body types being catered to and represented within the fashion industry in general. Collective Closets has so many beautiful pieces that I've had the pleasure of wearing and as a person who is really into fashion, I'd like to see such beautiful pieces being available to anyone of any size.

     

    COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . 10 Questions with 1/2 of Collective Closets, Fatuma Ndenzako!

    In a period of time when we're inundated with what feels like consistent bad news, we wanted to put some emphasis on the positive. This is the first instalment in our mini-series "Collective Conversations," a bi-weekly segment focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to Collective Closets' very own Fatuma Ndenzako. She's a designer, business owner, food lover, mum and passionate believer of conscious fashion . We chatted to her about strength, family, her brand and her thoughts in relation to racial discrimination and the fight for equality. 

    1. Describe yourself in three words? 

    Nurturing , passionate and curious.

    2. What do you think of the current state of the world?

    The current state of the world makes me really sad!!! Watching the continued racial events in America and here in our own backyard really breaks my heart. As a mother of a black 2-year-old son it saddens me that no matter how hard I work to raise a kind, hard working and capable human being, there will be people who will look at the colour of his skin and judge and discriminate against him purely based on that. The way that black people are treated all over the world is insanity- this needs to be re written. It saddens me deeply and blows my mind that in 2020 black people are still fighting for the same human rights as there white counterparts. I am hopeful that this is a moment in time where we as a human race decide that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and we're able to stand united in solidarity and take a stance. 

    3. Who do you most admire? 

    My mother for all her strength!! I still don't understand how she raised 5 children on her own. She taught us to be kind, genuine, and considerate to each other and the earth. She always encouraged us to follow our dreams and to never worry about what other people think you're able to achieve. I admire anyone who has made it their life mission to change the world and fight for injustice. I admire the likes of James Baldwin, Angela Davis + Jack Bancroft. 

    4. How have you been staying motivated? 

    By my 2-year-old son, he wakes up at 7am and screams "WAKE UP MUMMY". Whenever I am feeling down or stressed he always pats my head and tells me how much he loves me or how boring I am. Either comment works!! 

    5. Something that you’re passionate about?

    I am extremely passionate about what we do at Collective Closets. It's been our mission from the conception of Collective Closets to share and educate our customers and audience about African and black culture. Nothing brings me more joy then spending a slow Sunday interacting with customers about our fabrics, makers and our history.

    6. What is something you’re proud of? 

    My family!! I am so lucky to be surrounded by the most remarkable human beings. They are kind, supportive, hard working and inspirational. They make me who I am today.

    7. What's something you do to be kind to yourself?

     I eat a lot of delicious Italian prosciutto and pickled octopus. Daily if I can! 

    8. How do you align and connect with your intuition?

     I breathe deep, pause and always lead with my heart and stay true with myself.

    9. How do you align and connect with your intuition? 

    I breathe deep, pause and always lead with my heart and stay true with myself.

    10. What's an assumption others make about you?

    That I am confident and secure.

    11. What do you hope for Collective Closets in the future? 

    We hope to continue to create a brand that empowers women, celebrates black and African makers + artisans and is environmentally conscious while making amazing clothes. 

     

     

    COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . 11 Questions with Artist + Illustrator Minna Gilligan!

    In a period of time when we're inundated with what feels like consistent bad news, we wanted to put some emphasis on the positive. This is the first instalment in our mini-series "Collective Conversations," a bi-weekly segment focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to über-talented multi-medium artist Minna Gilligan. She's an artist, illustrator, dog mum, sustainable shopper and lover of all things vibrant and colourful (like us). We chatted to her about art, the unknown, perception and being kind to yourself. 

    1. Describe yourself in three words? 

    Vibrant, sensitive, loyal

    2. How have you been staying motivated? 

    I’m staying motivated by working to a routine, exercise in the morning, then home to get dressed reasonably properly and put on a pair of shoes! Creatively I’m trying to fit in a drawing every day. I’m working my part time job from home, teaching from home, and also working on my art from home, so my little home studio has become a multidisciplinary space. It’s hard to compartmentalise in these times.

    3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

    I’m passionate about my art practice. I like the idea of leaving behind a legacy. I am passionate about making that legacy interesting and valuable (not in a money sense!)

    4. Who do you most admire? 

    I admire a lot of people, but at the moment particularly people who selflessly put others before themselves. I’m particularly thinking of health workers and carers all over the world in these times. The nature of their daily sacrifices is particularly at the forefront of my mind. I am amazed at their resilience and unwavering kindness.

    5. What scares you the most about the unknown?

    I think what most scares me about the unknown is the idea of things being different or tough and me not coping with that. The unknown in my head is usually always negative (I know that’s anxiety talking!)

    6. What is something you’re proud of? 

    I’m proud of my resilience over the years, of my dedication to my practice despite outer forces attempting to derail that.

    7. What's something you do to be kind to yourself? 

    Eat junk food, watch trashy TV, do a face mask, pluck my eyebrows, do a drawing.

    8. What are you most looking forward to post-isolation? 

    Spending time with my family hands down!

    9. How do you align and connect with your intuition?

    I am pretty in touch with my intuition. I rarely have difficulties making decisions as I usually know immediately which direction I’d like to go in due to having some sense of each path. I just listen to how I’m feeling, and I’m quite sensitive so that information is pretty loud. I like to think I know myself pretty well.

    10. What's an assumption others make about you?

    I think there are a fair few assumptions about me out there. I think the hardest thing is people not taking me seriously as a fine artist because I care about makeup and dressing and post selfies online. I’m slowly challenging this perception (hopefully) I think it’s just about longevity to my practice, and proving to everyone that I’m not going anywhere! Ha ha

    11. Is there an item you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future? 

    I love your pinafores, as they’re so versatile! So I guess more of those in different prints I’d love to see! <3

    COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . Talking to Photographer + Storyteller Ying Ang!

    In a period of time when we're inundated with what feels like consistent bad news, we wanted to put some emphasis on the positive. This is the first instalment in our mini-series "Collective Conversations," a bi-weekly segment focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to the multifaceted Ying Ang. She's a photographer, educator, mother, director of Le Space gallery and self-professed maximalist who splits her time between New York, Singapore and Melbourne. We chatted to her about creative motivation, motherhood and the importance of girlfriends. 

    1. Describe yourself in three words? 

      Story-teller, Anti-purist, Maximalist

    2. How have you been staying motivated? 

      I’ve been trying to stay engaged with my creative community as much as possible… developing different individual projects, including our recent artist-in-residence at Le Space Gallery, Gareth Phillips. He had to leave his residency early due to the coronavirus and return to the UK early, but has been continuing his project and book over there that we continue to be involved with. I’m also re-launching an artist masterclass in Europe and New York, called Reflexions Masterclass, that will endeavor to harness and nurture creative talent around the the world, looking to create work in this complex and pivotal moment in human history. There is a sense of global urgency that drives me forward. History is being made, divergent courses are being formed in the experience of humanity and we are all here, caught in the eye of it. History is mined from the data of local experience. The butcher, the housewife, the paramedic, the student. Politicians use these stories for their ends, but what remains, the true thrust and parry of every battle fought, are those recorded by the soldiers, with their knees in the trenches and ink made from mud and blood. 

    3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

      Photography, poetry, cinema and literature in their capacity to capture the complexity of the human experience.

     

    4. Who do you most admire? 

    I have 3 girlfriends who I used to live with in New York City who used to ride in a protective peloton around me when we used to bike, in my first terrified few months there. Literally my ride-or-dies. Their unwavering love, support, vulnerability, strength and tenacity in life and friendship are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Shout out to Adrienne Grunwald, Talia Herman and Barbara Saric.

    5. What scares you the most about the unknown?

    I suppose the unknown in general doesn’t really scare me. But in the context of covid-era living, I’m pretty anxious about the way our previously globalized world will shrink and what a nationalized, xenophobic, closed border world is going to look like, if that’s the way we will continue to live. 

    6. What is something you’re proud of? 

    I’m proud of being able to find a way back to making work again, after the seismic transition to motherhood.

    7. What's something you do to be kind to yourself? 

    Yoga and sushi.

    8. What are you most looking forward to post-isolation? 

    Wearing heels and going out on a date with my husband.

    9. How do you align and connect with your intuition?

    I find that I have to operate from a place of honesty and shut down all the voices that don’t feel true, like fear and insecurity. And then I speak to my therapist :)

    10. What's an assumption others make about you?

    That I don’t watch reality television? Lol.

    11. Is there an item you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future? 

    Workwear!

    COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS. . . 11 Fire Questions with Pauline Ernesto!

    In a period of time when we're inundated with what feels like consistent bad news, we wanted to put some emphasis on the positive. This is the first instalment in our mini-series "Collective Conversations," a bi-weekly segment focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. To kick things off- the multitalented, vibrant and hilarious Pauline Ernesto. She's our baby sister, resident Collective Closets muse, self-professed D&M expert, Kanye West's #1 fan and a breath of fresh air (we need it!). 

     

    1. Describe yourself in three words? 
      Fun! Loving! Spiritual!
       
    2. How have you been staying motivated? 
      By staying away from the news!! I know myself well enough to know that exposing myself to the incessant Coronavirus talk and news updates sneds my anxiety through the roof! So I stay optimistic by minimising my intake to a need to need to know minimum. I am being militant about protecting my energy at this time!! So far so good, gal is still smilin!! 
       
    3. Something that you’re passionate about? 
      Love. I love LOVE. I think I was cupid in a past life.
       
    4. Who do you most admire? 
      There are too many fabulous humans who have left a profound impact me to choose just one!! But my mama was a boss. An all round boss. fearless and unconditionally loving. That's my kinda woman. 
       
    5. What scares you the most about the unknown? 
      The unknown. Lol. Annnnd now my anxiety is through the roof again thanks! Hahaha. I try not to think about the unknown anymore. I know the universe has got me.
       
    6. What is something you’re proud of?
      This life I have manifested for myself. My life is dope. 

     

    7. What's something you to do be kind to yourself? Meditation and prayer. It's the difference between a day of love and peace and a day when my evil twin goes on a joy ride.

    8. What are you most looking forward to post-isolation? Flirting my way through every bar in town with a margi in my hand and a twinkle in my eye i

    9. How do you align and connect with your intuition? 
    Meditation. Prayer and listenting to/ reading my Eckart Tolle and Marianne Williamson, my spiritual teachers. If you haven't read 'The Power of Now' Do it. NOW!!

    10. What's an assumption others make about you?
    Who knows and who cares!! I've learnt that wondering what others think about anything isn't helpful to me at all! They probably assume I'm dope. Which I am.

    11. Is there an item you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future? 
    A sexy body hugging number or a mini skirt!! Please ladies make my dreams come true!! I want something to hug these curves... not for me but for you all to enjoy ;)

    the wanderer. Emily Green

     

    Making and creating have always been great loves of mine – a fundamental part of my identity. I am happiest when drawing or painting or making and Mum has often said that my names meaning - industrious - has fit me well.

    In high school I took every creative subject I could and went on to study Fine Arts at University, then Fashion and Textiles at TAFE for a year. I loved the course, but as a 21year old still living at home in Perth who hadn’t yet travelled, I decided it was time to ‘live a little’ and jumped out of the nest to live in Melbourne.

    I LOVED Melbourne (still do!) and my new life in this big, diverse and inspiring city, but after 6 months of working a crappy call-center job, the reality of supporting myself began to overwhelm me. In the final year of my degree I remember feeling frustrated that there was no clear career path to follow at the end of it, and this feeling returned as I contemplated what to do next. I wasn’t interested in pursuing a career as an artist (too pragmatic) so as a 22-year-old with no clear path to earning a living doing something creative, I went back to Uni to become a teacher. I taught high school Art for a couple of years but found that all my energy was going into my students’ creative output and that I really missed making.

    I left teaching to pursue what I felt was unfinished business studying textile design. The course was amazing, exactly what I needed. Soon I found that my inclination towards making and creating now had the time and space to sow some seeds; a drawing club with friends, printmaking and painting, a range of resin brooches made in the lounge-room then polymer clay jewellery.

    Doing what I really loved began to work out for me. I wore the jewellery I made and soon found it had broader appeal. I managed to build a business not because I set out to make money, but because I stayed focused on the things that fulfilled me - making and creating. I’ve continued on this path and I remain excited about the places it may take me.

    the wanderer. Vic Styles

     

    Being a self-assured woman has been both a gift and a curse. I’ve always been overly sure of myself and my path, but did my path leave room for much growth? My whole life I was told (and believed) that if I wanted to be successful, I had to take the proven road to success. No detours. No scenic routes. No stops along the way. But, deep down I knew that the adventure, my journey, was along
    the off beaten path — the road less travelled.

    I was an honour society senior who needed 4 classes to graduate with a B.A, in Psychology, but I dreamed of being a wardrobe stylist. I had never done it in my life, nor did I personally know anyone who had. When I was 24 I decided to drop out of college to make that dream a reality. A week after walking out of class, I drove 2,038 miles from Birmingham, AL to Hollywood, CA. I had no family
    there, no job lined up, no money, no plan… no road map to success. But I had faith. I had faith that every road leads somewhere. Every path has a purpose. Every adventure would add to my story, and thus add to me. Within a year of being in LA I caught my dream. I had worked with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Chasing my dreams led me down a new road, one that wasn’t fully paved and seldom travelled. I arrived at destinations I could have never imagined. Through this journey I became a resilient woman, a stronger woman, a new woman.

    I have spent a great majority of my adulthood being intentionally lost, and what I’ve learned is that you cannot fuck up your destiny. You can feel lost. You can make “wrong” turns. You can even lose yourself. You may choose to follow a map, or you may choose to wing it. Whatever path you decide to travel is the path meant for you. No matter which way you go, you will always end up where you
    are destined to be.

     

    the wanderer. FlexMami

    I’ve spent my whole life being particularly sure – of who I am, what I like and what I want. Yet as I waddle further into adulthood, I’m plagued with the realisation that my sense of self was rooted in arrogance, not understanding.

     How could I really know who I was and what I wanted if I never challenged my own ideas of the status quo in ways that mattered. Of course, I subverted ideas of how to visually present myself (wigs and dynamic outfits), but it took me 25 years to realise that the work needed to be done on my perspective (mind, thoughts, nuances). My understanding of the world was so skewed and insular that had I not of checked myself, it would’ve been to my detriment.

    I wandered so far into what I could only describe as becoming a caricature. Roleplaying what it felt like to understand, to evolve, to grow – as opposed to breaking myself down and doing the work. I’m starting to understand what it feels like to be uncomfortable for the sake of growth. To lean into the contradictions that start to jump out when you begin to unpack your existence.

    “Why am I like this?” – I use to ask myself in jest, not really acknowledging that I had no idea. I can’t explain to you how bizarre it is to lean in to the idea that you don’t know yourself. Or anything for that matter. Why am I confident? Why am I avoidant? Why am I resilient? Why do planes fly? How do boats float? How did we just “create” WiFi? And contrary to what I once thought, I don’t have to have an explicit answer – I just need to be open to comprehension.

     

    the wanderer. Kestrel Jenkins

     

    Whenever I hear the word wander, it conjures all the feels and an array of heightened emotions.

    Wandering is not only something my creative mind does on a regular basis, it’s also something that I crave, something that feeds my inner contentment, fuels my desire to stay connected, and heightens my inspiration.

    As I sat down with my tea to explore my past and reflect on ways I’ve gone “off the beaten path” or wandered in life, I had a truly difficult time pinpointing one moment. Because for me, to wander is to maintain one’s freedom, to forge your own path, and to resist societal norms.

    Wandering is core to who I am.

    From a young age, I’ve been driven to stand out. I embraced “being weird”, choosing the option others around me didn’t, and above all -- celebrated my own distinct, ever-changing personal style.

    Over the years, fashion has been integral to my self-exploration, and has helped me connect with intricate layers of my personality. Styling an outfit gives me the chance to experiment with my identity, daily. In moments when I’m feeling disconnected from myself, my style becomes evidently inconsistent and unexpected, as I use it as a self-discovery tool to test out different “takes” on who I want to be.

     While I have not and still do not always hold a clear vision and understanding of “who I am”, the ability to wander has given me the power to explore myself, and to be at peace with those moments of the unknown.

     Why should we be expected to always 100% know who we are, and where we want to go next in life? I see it as an ever-changing process, full of ebbs and flows. For me, not knowing every single detail that’s to come is where the beauty and the learning lies.

     What I have realized in recent years is that whenever I find myself in a funk, whether it be professionally or personally, wandering helps bring me back to my core, to my personal homeostasis.


    Being given the opportunity to wander through words by reading, through inspiration by traveling, through concepts by conversations, or through the unknown by exploring, wandering eventually evokes balance.

    It gives us the chance to view other ideas, other people, other places, and other perspectives, which in turn, brings us back to understanding ourselves.

    To wander is to connect. I cannot imagine a life without such a human necessity.

     

     

    the wanderer. Yassmin Abdel-Magied

     

    When was the last time you got lost? Like, properly lost, without Google maps, a tour guide or even an old school compass? The kind of lost where you pause, look around and think, ‘I’ve got no idea where I am, but I bloody love it!’before you continue on your merry way?
     
    It’s been a while since I’ve gotten that lost, and that realisation made me reflect on how the ways I travel through the world have changed over the last few years. These shifts are easy to criticise: I penned a whole piece about how the pressures of Instagram and ‘travel productivity’ are preventing us all from enjoying life. I had a whole paragraph on how the expectations of posting and likes
    means that we don’t really get ‘lost’ anymore, and how I’m constantly panicked by undone-to-do- lists. 
     
    It sounded good… but it wasn’t really the truth. The truth is, I love Instagram. I love hunting for the perfect angle, the perfect light, the perfect sunset. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s honed my eye and creativity in ways Microsoft Excel really, never would. But there is something in this conversation about the lack of ability to get lost that still rings true. Because even though I know the way to the markets, I still pull up Google Maps every time I head over. Even though I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York, Sydney and Khartoum more times than I can count, I never remember the cute places I’ve found – unless I’ve starred them and saved them
    on my phone. My sense of direction is quite shot, and if I don’t know where I am, I do tend to feel like something is a little off. I think I’ve forgotten how to truly wander.
     
    So that’s something I’m committed to working on. I’m taking small steps (don’t want to shock the system now): switching my phone off when I’m out on errands, placing it in air-plane mode a couple of hours a day, leaving Google Maps unopened in a new city. I’m easing myself back into a world beyond the expectations of immediate responses, the pressures of constant availability, and the limits of my own comfort. I’m not throwing my safety net away completely though, and for me, that’s a balance that works. I want the best of both worlds, after all. In doing so, I’m allowing myself to rediscover what it’s like to be lost, love it, and then later when I’m curled up on my couch, share it. The 2019 version of a wanderer.

     

    the wanderer. the series

     

    As many of you already know, our latest collection the wanderer is a celebration of nomadic spirit, a celebration of beauty that is woven into our textiles. 

    This collection draws down from those that are free to wander outside and off the beaten track. East African nomadic warriors interpret life as a way to trust one’s self. Be free, trust and venture into the unknown, unburdened by weight and pressure, without clear direction.

    For this instalment we delve deeper + explore what makes a wanderer- we're truly excited to explore this conversation + share with you stories from 5 amazing women from across the globe who embody the free spirit of the nomad. 

    It's about those who wander off the beaten track, who take the road less travelled and use these journeys to shape their identity. We asked these women to share their diverse stories through a written piece, illustrating the times in their lives they wandered from the path. 

    The wanderer urges you to create your own path + follow that voice within.  We want you too to draw your own identity + strength from your surroundings + as you venture into the unknown. Not all who wander are lost.

     

     

     

    Dear Me: Rachel Service

    This month we shine light on fierce business woman, director + founder of Happiness Concierge Rachel Service. We’re inspired by Rachel’s  work ethic + story behind starting her own company. Rachel’s global training company Happiness Concierge is all about keeping your mojo in check, with helpful takeaways about trusting your gut, reminding yourself how valuable your time is + one we’re still trying to master- How to put yourself first by saying No (Without putting anyone offside). It’s super refreshing to be surrounded by like minded women who are determined to make a difference + are all for supporting other women. Kick back, pour yourself a glass of bubbly  + take a peak at what Rachel would say to her younger self. 

     Dear Rachel,

     At age 19, you’ll convince your parents to let you spend money on a trip to report on fashion week for a magazine that isn’t paying you. “It’ll be a great opportunity”, you tell them.

    You spend four days with the who’s who of the fashion world in small town New Zealand, talking your way into most of the events under the guise of being a journalist. You might have looked like a young girl but this one trip turns you into a 24/7 opportunity detecting machine.

     At 26, you’ll move to Germany in the middle of winter to become a singer. Your German is non existent. You’ll ditch plan A, and make plan B, moving to London. You’ll arrive in London in 2009, the GFC. Coincidentally it's the Rachel Financial Crisis too.

     No one will hire you. You make a plan C.

    ''No offence or nuffin”, your hiring manager at your next London interview will say, “but your so called ‘NZ experience’ doesn’t mean jack. You can start at the bottom.” You make a plan D, working for free and get comfortable having no idea when your rent money is coming from.

    You work three jobs to pay the bills while you work on fancy campaigns at an advertising agency. You take a day off, exhausted. “I don’t give a toss if you’re tired”, says the boss. “The client needs it and you started this.” You learn taking ownership is important. You also learn clients don’t give a toss about why it’s late, it just matters it isn’t late, so you might as well get on with it.

     You end up over the years interviewing movie stars and musicians, offering to do it for free for the experience. You realise showing up, usually unpaid, and offering to help, is how opportunities and connections are made.

     At 27, you’ll move to Melbourne and become a PR.

    Your job will be to call hundreds of journalists from publications you’ve never read and pitch in your client's story. You’ll get rejected on average 50 times a day.

    You learn to think on your feet or lose an opportunity. You also learn not to take rejection personally.

    You’ll be made redundant nine months later. You’ll learn no job is ever really secure, nor is it for keeps. You learn to be OK if something doesn’t work out and it's really useful you learnt that thing about rejection not being personal!

    You’ll start freelancing. Your therapist will tell you efficiency is a value of yours.

    You’ll get up at 4am to deliver your first clients workload by 8am, then go to work at 9am to do a days work at an agency, then start your third shift at 6pm with another freelance client.

    You learn that ‘making it look easy’ is a bit tricky but the client doesn’t seem to want to know that, or know what is happening behind the scenes. They keep hiring you.

    You will then turn 30 and life gives you a great birthday gift in the shape of an insult. After hosting an event, a panelist will say “you could be a talent wrangler”.

    “Fuck that”, you think. “I am the talent.”

    You start to focus your attention on public speaking.

    You will call a spade a spade on stage and people will call it authentic. Companies decide they’d like to pay you to be authentic with them.

    Good eggs see what you are creating and see the possibilities. They offer to help and give you suggestions on how to grow.

    You get wrinkles and people start taking you more seriously. Go figure.

    Clients call you on a Monday and ask you to present that afternoon for an event on Tuesday. You’ve never been happier.

    Despite all the good stuff, some people also expect you to not be successful. Some will assume you aren’t smart because you’re good at people. Ironically, people are your business. You realise that perception is their problem.

    You also realise that gumption, making alternative plans on the fly and staring rejection in the face every day is the part of entrepreneurialism that people forget. These traits, acquired through your earlier years are now coming in handy.

    So dear Rachel, in moments when you feel exhausted, through the jet lag and working at airports, to hand washing outfits at 2am the night before a client presentation, to making it happen on the fly, to moments of reminding yourself every day you can do this, remember the promise you made to yourself when you started this business.

    I trust myself to make the right decisions. I love myself and respect myself enough to say no.  If I don’t know something, I will ask for help.

    Don’t ever apologise for what you have spent a lifetime earning.

    Instead: I want you to enjoy it.

     Rachel Service

     



    Dear Me: Victoria Latu

    This month we shine light on the uber talented Victoria Latu mother, friend, fierce business woman + curator of the Talking shop blog.We’re inspired by Vic’s tenacious spirit and work ethic, its super refreshing to be surrounded by like minded women who are determined to make a difference + are all for supporting other women. Kick back, pour yourself a glass of bubbly + take a peak at what 35 year old Victoria would say to her 17 year old younger self. 

    Dear 17 year old Vic,

    You are enough.

    Everything you are going through at the moment will pass. Just as everything in life passes, good and bad. The only constant is change. Don’t let that scare you, just learn to enjoy the ride.

    Being born and growing up in post communist Russia as the only black girl for towns, meant that you felt like you didn't fit in. But what I find remarkable is that even at that young age, you never had the need or desire to. It’s almost like you naturally liked being different, in fact you didn’t mind the attention one bit. You might have wondered why your hair constantly curled regardless of how many times you brushed those curls out, but it was more of a sense of curiosity, never with a sense of less than. 

    And, when you finally moved to Nigeria to live with your dad, you realised that people didn’t consider you black enough. This hurt you and frankly pissed you off more than anything, but you just kept it moving never trying to be anything other than yourself.

    You have always been a confident girl. I’m not sure if it was always a real confidence or it was a fake it till you make it situation but now it is intrinsically part of you and I can’t tell the difference. And that’s all that matters. 

    I just wanted to say a big, big thank you to the girl you were and all those seemingly little but in retrospect big experiences that you went through and came out the other side stronger and more resilient. Thank you younger me for sticking it out and persevering, never giving up on us.

    Thank you, for without you there wouldn’t be this me today.

    Love always,

    35 year old Victoria. 

     

    Dear Me: Sampa The Great

    This month we shine light on the uber talented Sampa Tembo aka Sampa The Great, poet + singer-song writer. We admire that she is a voice to so many women with songs like FEMALE + Black Girl Magic. She’s a talented force and we’re in awe of how she uses music to promote social + political empowerment. Kick back, pour yourself a glass of bubbly + take a peak at what 24 year old Sampa would say to her 9 year old younger self. 

    Sampa,

    They will come a time when you will have to define your own womanhood. 

    You being strong and soft.  

    You being beautiful and black.

    You being smart and funny.

    May become a little confusing to some. 

    I understand this will make you uncomfortable and you may want to conform for comfort. 

    But consider this for a minute,

    Perhaps it is that very same deep voice, unlike the high “angelic” voices of your classmates.  That might be the perfect tone to perform poetry and capture the mind and hearts of many. 

    Consider that it may be that middle kid syndrome that would drive you to begin the journey to discover what makes you. You ! 

    Believe me, there’s only one like you. 

    Even when the doors are shut, I hope you will think of this as a redirection in your journey rather than a roadblock. 

    You’ll want to give up most times.  Unfortunately you will have to work twice as hard because of who you are. 

    I need your belief in yourself to be outrageous!

    I need your dream to not have to make sense to anyone but you. I need you to visualise. 

    Visualise yourself where you are supposed to be as the first step to manifest this into reality. 

    In this picture you were not afraid to show your strength, infact you considered it your woman power. 

    Do not let anyone convince you to dim your power to fit in to what is “womanly”. 

    Remember, you will have to define this womanhood for yourself. 

    I believe in you Sampa. I trust in your dreams and I love you unconditionally.

    Be sure to dance off to any negativity and hate that happens to float your way. 

    After all, I have a feeling you will be great. 

    Love Sampa, 

    Dear Me: Kwena Baloyi

    To kick start our series we shine light on the uber talented Kwena Baloyi- style therapist + culture curator and all round fashion icon in the making.  Kick back, pour yourself a glass of bubbly + take a peak at what 29 year old Kwena would say to her 17 year old younger self. 

     

    Dear 17 year old Kwena, 

    You are a brave lady and I congratulate you for being strong at a very young age. It was not easy but you didn't let the circumstances make you fail but instead you used it for the good and for winning in life. As a young woman you needed someone to talk to, someone to listen to you, I thank you for going out to find it because it was not there at home. I just love and appreciate how you never let what was happening or going on at home stop you from doing well + succeeding in life. 

    It was definitely hard to grow up so fast but it's doing the most right now for me the 29 year old Kwena, you laid a great foundation and I'll always be grateful. You saw that no one will get you where you need to, you realised that at a very early age and rose against it all, against all the negativity. You saw beyond your circumstances and didn’t blame anyone for what was happening in your life but focused on building a strong foundation and you always believed it was possible. 

    As hard as it was, I’d like to thank you for learning how to forgive those around you at such an early age, you learnt how to build walls against what was not building you, for that I love you! You’re a fighter and you always saw good in others, you did well for others even when nobody was doing a thing for you. You’re a pure heart that did for others without any expectations, it’s what’s gotten you here to the great 29 year old Kwena. Because of you, 29 year old Kwena is a game changer and I’m thankful that you snatched up opportunities, you went for it, you are unapologetic and because of you that’s why i'll never allow failure to have a seat at my table.

    You used to play with the kids from the neighbourhood, telling them stories, taking them under your wing-looking after them and at that time you didn't know you were laying a foundation to an empire of leadership the 29yrs old me is building now. Ohhh and knowing that without confidence you have no say, that was the best thing you did for us and now I’m here helping fellow kweens to see the value of confidence + self esteem + how that’s needed for survival.

    Thank you for being the best, I'm happy and proud of the choices you made, you being your real self, giving people you, being proud of where you’re from and who you are, forever telling your stories of how you survived. Even if people thought why would you share such shameful stories, you knew they were keys to the best life could offer, and also they’ll help others know they’re not alone.

    You’re truly a gem and I always say I'll go back to you any time, because you did the most for this 29 year old to be where she is. I'm forever grateful, you are enough and well done.

    29 year old me, 

    Kwena x 

     

    Dear Me: Letters to my younger self from inspiring women

    As many of you already know, our latest collection Mpenzi Wangu or Dear Me is inspired by the way in which our past's shape our personal evolution. We decided to delve a little deeper and ask some of our favourite women to take part in a 5 part series titled Dear Me: Letters to my younger self from inspiring woman. In this series we highlight several woman we consider part of our sisterhood to write a letter to their younger self. 

    In this collection we ask our sisterhood- and YES this includes YOU, to take a moment to look in the rear view mirror and reconnect with a time when things weren't so certain and there were more questions than answers? We ask our sisterhood to dive within and engage in a personal dialogue. How wonderful it is to reflect on our journey. Did you always believe you'd make it here? Are you there yet? What challenges have you waded through to make it to the horizon? 
    Would you pass on that relationship? Say yes to that opportunity? Should you have been kinder to yourself?