COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . TALKING TO PHOTOGRAPHER + BLOGGER LEI LEI CLAVEY!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to Lei Lei Clavey, a wedding + editorial photographer, blogger and mum who moved from the Big Apple to pursue her business in Melbourne. Her blog Lei Lady Lei covers everything from style and sustainability to self-help and motherhood notes. We talked to her about photography, horoscopes and how to keep a positive mindset.

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Creative, optimistic, sustainably-minded.

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

I'm half Australian-Chinese and half American so I grew up surrounded by different cultures and traditions, the majority of which were experienced and shared around food! I loved the mix and exposure I had to all of them. It really framed me to be who I am today.

3. Something that you’re passionate about?

Photography, especially capturing those moments that loved ones will look back on in years to come.

4. Who do you most admire? 

Women who have made a name for themselves doing what they love. My mother is an excellent example. She found her passion for writing later in life, once my brother and I had grown up and now she's a successful published author and illustrator. It's never too late to do something you love.

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

Every month I love to read my horoscope- Susan Miller is a favourite -and write down the key dates and prospects on the horizon. While I don't 100% believe in star signs, they're a fun indulgence I allow myself. Once we're out of lockdown I would love to reintroduce yoga back into my weekly routine. It's so important as a parent to carve out that time just for yourself. Also as my son grows up, I would love to introduce traditions such as Sunday family lunches.

6. What is something you’re proud of? 

Building my editorial and wedding photography business this year! I have wanted to start my own business for the longest time but only within the last year after my son was born have I really made the leap. I have invested in online education about business and photography, branding, copywriting and a new website that is all set to launch in a few months! I've also started selling some fine art prints which has become a fun part of the business. I couldn't be more excited and proud about what I have achieved and how I have grown in this time.

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

I know that I am impacted by negative news and devastating stories especially involving families and children (after having my son this year, I've found these stories particularly difficult) that instead I purposely listen, read and absorb content that is positive, motivating and inspiring. This keeps my mind and thoughts in a better place for me to create and provide for others.

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

Cooking. There are so many great cooks in my family and over the years I've learnt little bits and pieces from them. While I'm not overly skilled, I find it a relaxing activity and love sharing what I've made with family and friends.

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

It's something I've had to tune and grow over the years. Decreasing unnecessary clutter in my brain, going for walks and putting away my device so I have the freedom to think, allows me to connect with my intuition better. The more I listen to it the clearer it becomes.

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

That I'm an extremely calm and stress-free person inside and out. That's true about my waking self however my subconscious is filled with thoughts that filter into my dreams and if something is playing on my mind I'll often wake up in a panic. I need to try and meditate before bed.

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

Colourful printed jumpsuits for stylish mums on the go!

You can follow Lei Lei on her Instagram here or visit her blog Lei Lady Lei here.

COLLECTIVE CLOSETS . . . TALKING TO ARTIST, DESIGNER + TATTOOIST ABBEY RICH!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to Abbey Rich, a multidisciplinary artist, designer and tattooist here in Melbourne. You may have spotted her work around- possibly in the form of larger-than-life outdoor mural, a select painting in a restaurant or a drawing handpoked onto the arm of a passer-by. She talked to us about accessible art, assumptions and what food means to her.

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Passionate, a-bit-chaotic and determined. 

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

I think of all the incredible cultures of the world and how important they are and as a white settler in a colonised country it mostly is a reminder of the destruction of this incredible land and its people. I think heritage and tradition are what make communities rich and full of life and am excited for more of us settlers and those who have come to this country to actively engage in listening to and learning from Aboriginal culture. 

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

A lot of things, but my current focus is making public art collaborative and accessible. I’m really excited to be working on a series of community co-designed public art works made in collaboration with the people that use the spaces. 

4. Who do you most admire? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! Honestly offfftttt she’s AMAZING. Obviously, I would never be as cool and incredible as AOC but my parallel life dream is to be in politics, so I spend a lot of time listening and reading and admiring.  

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

At the moment in current lock down life I try each weekend to give myself time to read, I’m also trying once a week at least to ring a friend and catch up. In this weird time, I’ve found it hard to socialise this way and not hug or cook a meal for the people I love. 

​6. What is something you're proud of? 

Being an artist, trying to forge my own path without conceding my values. 

7. What is something you do to be kind to yourself? 

Taking the whole day off in summer to go swimming in the ocean and cook my friends a huge meal, I really love cooking for people.  

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

I think food preparation is definitely a tradition I’ve picked up as an adult, as I’ve travelled and just spent time with people who really love food- I’ve adopted lots of recipes and ways of enjoying food. I didn’t really get it growing up (sorry mum and dad) but the food we ate wasn’t the most flavour filled or varied so my ‘traditional,’ food isn’t something I cook now. My partner and I (pre covid) would throw dinner parties for our friends a few times a week and it honestly brings me so much joy. We’re spoiled in Brunswick/Coburg too visiting small spice shops and specific grocers trying to find the right ingredients. 

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

It’s the only real thing that guides me, as the years go on I am afforded a larger sense of trust in my own decisions as a result of that connection with my intuition. I don’t actively try to connect anymore – it just kinda does. 

10. What is an assumption others make about you? 

I think often people think I studied art, but I have no formal training. I tried studying Textile Design for a bit but never made it through the course. 

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

Ooooh everything is so good already so I’m really just making shit up – I’m trying to think back in case you’ve already done this but maybe a sun hat? I love the check fabrics you use and think they’d look beautiful as a wide brimmed hat.

You can follow Abbey on Instagram here and visit her site + store here.

COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . TALKING TO GIRLBOSS + OWNER OF SAKA HAIR STUDIO, AGATA SAKA!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to Agata Saka, our friend and the girl boss behind the amazing Saka Hair Studio. After years of dreaming of owning her own salon, Agata founded Saka Hair Studio here in Melbourne and is dedicated to educating herself + those around her about black hair care. We talked to her about her traditions and connecting with her intuition. 

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Gifted, Motivated and Optimistic.

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

My heritage and traditions largely shape my identity as a South Sudanese woman growing up in Australia. One aspect of my culture that fills me with a great sense of pride is our hospitality to those who visit us. We always treat visitors as our family and it’s something I have incorporated in the business - treating and caring for our clients like our family. Heritage for me is forever - it is hard to replace and will shape my identity and my children’s one day. Traditions are easier to change and I have found that certain traditions have been modified in my family since we moved to Australia. 

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

I am passionate about good haircare for all women - especially for women of color who can’t just visit any salon. I remember growing up and seeing how hard it was to find salons that had great products, quality customer service, and hair services. After working in a few salons and learning to really appreciate the different techniques involved in styling and manipulating hair, I decided to open Saka Hair Studio. My aim is to continue educating myself about hair (especially black hair) so one day I will educate other hairdressers.

4. Who do you most admire? 

The person I admire the most is my mum. I have so much admiration for her strength, courage, and fearlessness. She managed to raise eight children during the war in Sudan, walk to Uganda, and from there move to Kenya where we were granted Humanitarian Visas by the Australian Government - all by herself! She is my hero and continues to inspire me to this day! 

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

These days there's really much you can do but to find yourself on the couch eating and having a glass of wine (which I have been doing a lot lately lol). Before the lockdown, my girlfriends and I would get together on a Friday or Saturday night and cook our traditional foods, make cocktails and stay up all night dancing and talking about why men even breathe hahaha. Don’t get me wrong, some of us are in beautiful relationships but that doesn’t mean we can’t just wonder why... Something I have been trying to do is to get facials done every month. I’ve always had nice skin but the added stress of managing a business has really challenged my skin.

​6. What is something you're proud of? 

I’m most proud of bringing Saka Hair Studio to life. It has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl and finally to know I have a business of my own is unreal. 

The people I get to work with on projects and meet are all amazing. I am proud to know I help them and play my part in whatever it is they aim to achieve - whether is them coming to the salon for an appointment or collaborating with them on their project. I love being involved and seeing all the amazing things they are accomplishing makes me proud!

7. What is something you do to be kind to yourself? 

I have learned it’s okay to take breaks and not work constantly. Things can be done and there is always help :)

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

I have been inspired by the traditions of so many people in my life and have adopted a lot of different things. Australia is such a multicultural country and I grew up with people who came from many different countries. Particularly, my friends from Western Africa (Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal) who have shown and shared with me their recipes for different occasions and their lifestyle. 

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

 I am spiritual and a firm believer that all things will work out the way it’s intended if I leave it to god. When I’m going through a difficult situation, I will pray and seek guidance from God and this has served me well so far! 

10. What is an assumption others make about you? 

Some people assume I am unapproachable when they first meet me. However, I am naturally just an observant person so I might be quiet and will read the room. However, that doesn’t usually last too long as I always love to have a good laugh and share stories with others! 

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

Love, love everything you ladies have released! I look forward to seeing what you bring out next.

COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . TALKING TO OUR GIRL, WRITER AND EX-INFLUENCER ISABELLA WIGHT!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to our girl, fashion graduate, writer and ex-influencer Isabella Wight. She used to be a blogger under the alias Views of Now, but now resides here in Melbourne and is our right-hand girl for everything from customer service, to graphic design and sharing her social media skillset. While she's not spending time behind the counter at our store, she loves to read, write, nap in the sun, talk (a lot) and drink wine with her housemates.

1. Describe yourself in three words? 
Empathetic, self-aware, tenacious.

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 
They are intrinsic aspects of who we are as people, the fundamental building blocks that create the wonderfully diverse society we live in. Since moving to Melbourne from the Sunshine Coast, I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much more about different cultural histories and the rituals within them. It’s a cliche, but it truly is a wonderful melting pot in this city, and it baffles me that there was so much I didn’t know before. I’m grateful my time here at Collective Closets for teaching me a lot, too.

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 
Consciousness in the fashion industry. There is so much that is shielded from us as consumers, and I’ve learnt that ignorance is certainly not always bliss. I’m passionate about brand accountability, about doing your own research into the origins of your wardrobe and making a positive social and environmental impact in any way that you can. Knowing the importance of my dollar and where I choose to spend has made me feel so empowered!

4. Who do you most admire? 
I’m lucky to have so many female role models in my life who have moulded the way I treat myself and the people around me. For a long time I didn’t understand the importance of feminism in my own life, of being able to challenge societal ideologies that were engrained in me for so long. I have those women to thank for that.

 It’s another cliche (I love them, sue me) but my mum is one of the kindest and most intelligent people I know. Having parents that wholeheartedly supported me, let me make mistakes  and taught me decision-making skills (it took a while, but I got there) set the example for how I want to raise my kids one day in the very distant future. 

5. What is a weekly/monthly/fortnightly ritual or tradition you do for yourself? 
In isolation I’ve found real solace in taking long walks by myself or with a friend. Exercise was always a cause of anxiety for me, something I didn’t have great associations with, but walking makes me feel relaxed. I listen to a podcast or debrief on the day, vent if I need to, pat a cute dog along the way if I’m allowed. It’s a sanity-saving ritual right now.

6. What is something you’re proud of? 
The life I have here in Melbourne. Moving was terrifying and it took a while for me to find my feet away from my familiar creature comforts. I’ve still got a lot of growing to do but I have good friends, I love working here at Collective Closets and I’m closer to being an adult than I thought I’d ever be.

7. What's something you do to be kind to yourself? 
I’ve stopped believing that guilty pleasures should actually make me feel guilty. When I’m feeling a bit blue, I will unashamedly watch trashy TV, order my favourite takeout, read a chick-lit romance novel and listen to bad early 2000s Top 40 music. I’ve never been a person who got embarrassed very easily and I am now very comfortable in my lame self-care activities. There is such thing as a really bad good movie, OK?! The whole “guilty” part of the guilty pleasures really took the fun out of it.

8. What are some traditions that you’ve adopted from somewhere or someone else? 
My mum is American- Texan, specifically -and she brought Thanksgiving into our lives when we were kids. She’d spend days making mounds of food- pumpkin and pecan pie, turkey, stuffing, greens, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and bread rolls- and we’d invite all of our family, friends and neighbours over. There’d be a little kids table we’d always sit at and the grown-ups table, where everyone would eat and drink until they couldn’t anymore. It’s definitely an indulgent (and time consuming, we’d spend days cooking) holiday but it was about being thankful. We never did a big Christmas and most of our family lives in the US, so it was a way for us to feel connected to them. My mum would hang a giant Texan flag over our verandah and we would have an Australian-American celebration. 

9. How do you align and connect with your intuition?
Truthfully, I’d never really thought about it until this question. I write and journal often, which I suppose is my way of processing feelings and dissecting my rapid-fire thoughts. I know intuition is more of a personal thing but I’m a huge extrovert, and I feel at peace once I’ve vocalised what I’m feeling and been able to have a conversation. We’re all a little irrational sometimes and sometimes once you’ve said it out loud, you realise how small the thought or issue really is.

10. What's an assumption others make about you?
That I never take myself very seriously which, to be fair, I don’t most of the time. My humour relies heavily on self-deprecation and it’s definitely become a kind of coping mechanism. Doesn’t mean my feelings don’t get hurt, but it does mean I’m quicker to get over it, I suppose. I’m always my harshest critic. 

11. Is there an item you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future? 
I’m so proud of everything we’ve done as a brand so it’s hard to say. Maybe a short skirt for summer. Something like our twin sets (coming out tomorrow!) but with a mini. 

 

COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . TALKING TO FASHION ENTHUSIAST STYLE SHIFTER!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to Julia Browne, the woman behind the alias STYLE SHIFTER. Using her platform, Julia shares styling tips, tricks to make the most out of your wardrobe and is constantly promoting the work of local and independent designers. Her style is colourful, bold and eclectic- much like her.

  1. Describe yourself in three words?

    Playful, supportive, determined.

  2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you?

    I'm English/Welsh/Antiguan and up until recently the only representative in Australia from my side of the family, and so I feel it's really important that my daughter has a connection to my family, her heritage, and herself. I've recently connected with my Dad's family who originates from Antigua. He was one of 21 children so there are literally 100's of Browne's across the world and we found out a couple of years ago that we have a cousin here in Melbourne (who now just lives down the road from us), which is amazing.

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

I'm passionate about championing emerging and independent fashion talent here in Melbourne. We are so incredibly lucky to have such a unique and diverse pool of amazing designers! I love clothes that are designed with love and intention and help the wearer tell an authentic story about themselves. I also feel that independent and student designers are the future of fashion as they are best placed to respond to the ever-growing need for responsible and ethical business practices.

4. Who do you most admire? 

Hands down my Mum. She became a single parent when my sister and I were still young and held down several jobs to make sure that we never went without. Then in her 30's, she re-invented herself, studying at night school so she could start a career in community service. Growing up, we never had a lot of money but our Mum taught us we shouldn't make it an obstacle to reaching your goals, and that there are always workarounds to achieve what you want in life.

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

During our current lockdown, I always ensure that I give myself at least a couple of hours of "me time" in a separate part of the house.

6. What is something you’re proud of?

I'm really proud of becoming a certified telephone counsellor/support worker for Wire - Women's Information. They offer a free support, referral, and information service for all Victorian women, nonbinary and gender-diverse people. I'm so very proud of the incredible training I undertook, the amazing team who work and volunteer there, and the fantastic service they offer. Post COVID I'd love to explore opportunities of volunteering with them again.

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

I dress up. Planning what I'm going to wear gets me energised and makes me mentally and emotionally ready for the day ahead.

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

I know it's a bit of a contentious holiday here in Australia, but I absolutely love celebrating Halloween! It's one of the only holidays where you get to see your neighbours and see children and families filling the streets. It's beautiful. It will be interesting to see what Halloween will look like this year.

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

I use my intuition for my styling tips on Instagram. I find the tips I provide when I don't overthink and just go with my gut, are always the ones best received.

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

Because my British accent is still so strong, people always assume that I've only been in Australia for a matter of weeks, and not that I've been living here for over 15 years.

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

Your own line of headwraps!

COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . 11 FIRE QUESTIONS WITH ECOSTYLIST, WRITER AND FOUNDER OF TOMMIE MAG, NATALIE SHEHATA!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to founder of Tommie Mag, ecostylist, retail trainer and 'creative woman with a conscience,' Natalie Shehata.  Tommie Mag is a multifaceted platform/publication that covers everything from women's issues, to news, to fashion and how to be a conscious consumer. Natalie created Tommie as a space to promote and collaborate with brands she believed in and celebrate women from all walks of life. Today, we get to celebrate her.

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Honest, empathetic, resilient.

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

When I think about heritage and tradition, I immediately think about what a beautiful and diverse world we live in, where there is constant learning and a celebration that we are all so uniquely different. Our heritage and tradition really gives us an insight into our belief systems, our ancestors, the way we dress, the food we eat, what we value and how we tread on this earth. For me it’s about taking the guidance and direction of those before us, being curious about the practises that were so naturally inherent in their ways of life and honouring this. I am uniquely positioned in the sense that I have parents who are from different parts of the world. My father is from Egypt and my mother is from Greece, so my upbringing allowed me to really bask in different cultures, language, food and beliefs. I think more specifically though, growing up with different cultures really made me acutely aware of how identity and belonging can bring us together, but also separate us as we see in so many parts of the world – even right here in our own backyard. As a young person, given my multicultural background I often felt like I didn’t belong to a specific, defined group – but it is my ‘otherness’ that has driven my work and deeper purpose for all people to be seen, and it is this that has cultivated my deep respect for communities of colour who are often ‘othered’ or not seen as the majority, when in fact – it is BIPOC who are the mainstream. When we talk about heritage and tradition, for me it is also about yelling from the rooftops that POC are the original vanguards of sustainability, thoughtfulness and regenerative care for the land. Given I work in the sustainable fashion space, heritage and tradition for me also means there needs to be a collective acknowledgement and awareness of Ancestral and Indigenous wisdom, and that we need to respect and not exploit or appropriate rituals, icons or cultures. 

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

Having worked in the fashion industry - with varying stakeholders - for the past 11 years, I’ve witnessed and experienced first-hand the oppressive systems in which fashion is built on, and wanted to be part of disrupting and dismantling this, and created a platform for BIWoC communities to be the curators of their own stories and take back their rightful space and position in the fashion and sustainability context. This is how tommie magazine was born, as a way to elevate the diverse voices that make up our country, and to also demonstrate the naturally, intuitive and sustainable ways of living, WOC encompass. I’m super passionate about redefining and decolonising sustainability in the fashion space and environmentalism more specifically, to centre Black, Indigenous and People of colour communities; the original pioneers and trailblazers of sustainability. 

I’m also hugely passionate about second hand clothing and the way this offers us as individuals the opportunity to connect with our identity, the opportunity for self-expression and the celebration of difference and personal style. But also raising awareness and offering education into why it’s so important we support brands that are made ethically, locally, with artisanal traditions, use sustainable fibres etc. Wearing preloved clothing - and brands built with intention and social progress -  is a way we can position our views on labour rights, Womxn’s rights and the welfare and rights of BIPOC around the world. Clothing is more than constructing an outfit to look aesthetically pleasing; what we choose to wear is a reflection of society, the inequities between races, the exploitative labour systems that still exist in the Global South, the land that was taken away from Black and Indigenous people and how colonialism is rooted in fashion. The way we dress is political when it comes to culture, heritage, identity and history – and can lead to radical change. 

Another area I’m hugely passionate about is mobilising and activating local community, I think large scale change starts at your dinner table, and in your neighbourhood. Leading, running and organising events and gatherings in my local community has been so rewarding as I’ve seen how education and creativity really inspires change in people. And I love being an accessible bridge or pathway for people to access schools of thought, information or an understanding of systems they may have not known about.

4. Who do you most admire? 

That’s a tricky question – it’s interesting because growing up I didn’t really have role models, or Women I admired. Now as an adult, there are so many Women in my life in whom I admire. Women like you both, who live their truth every day, who are navigating such important conversations through the medium of fashion. But if I had to choose a specific person, I’d say Oprah. She was able to bring some of the most ‘taboo’ and not talked about issues to a mainstream audience. She will always hold a special place in my heart, as it is her talk show where my mother learnt that being in a violent relationship is not OK. My Mum often references that episode as her introduction into learning about the patterns and viscous cycle of Domestic Violence, and I think Oprah has been able to touch so many people’s lives in accessible ways like this. My hope is that through my own work and advocacy I offer a space to talk about the ‘uncomfortable’ things, the things we as a society are too sacred to talk about, in a safe way without judgement or critique. 

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

Rituals and traditions aren’t the thing I’m great at – it’s actually probably my greatest weakness in that I’ve not learnt the art of carving time out for myself. But I’m slowly getting better at it. I find my calm and peace in cooking. I love the mediation in movement and the texture and colour of all the vegetables, herbs and spices I use. I’m vegan, so making delicious, nourishing and vibrant food is part of my self-care routine. 

I’ve also just bought myself a tarot deck, ‘NEO TAROT’ by Jerico Mandybur and this kind of self-reflection has been very healing for me, but also very joyful! 

Also, I don’t think we talk about it publically enough, but I go to therapy every week and have since my mid 20’s. I think attending therapy should be accessible to every single person; it has helped me work through child-hood trauma, and just the everyday grind life offers. This is a ritual I don’t ever compromise on, no matter how full or busy my weeks are, I never miss a session. We talk so much as a society about working out our bodies, but we don’t talk enough about exercising the mind. And I think that stigma needs to change. 

One other thing I do for myself, is to dress however please – for me, not for anyone else. This means lots of colours and lots of pattern clashing!

6. What is something you’re proud of? 

I think one of the things that I’m proudest of is my freedom – being able to escape an oppressive child-hood environment, and really being the architect of my own life. Creating every page, the way in which is most authentic to me; which in large part means being of service to WOC specifically. I want to offer a space and platform through tommie that really highlights and celebrates the voice of WOC, and the unique journey and stories we have. But also ensuring that WOC of all ages understand their worth. I’m proud that I’ve chosen a path where I can be a resource, bridge and even confidant for others. Change is really important to me – small and large scale – so to see how my actions or knowledge can help guide people, is really so fulfilling.

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

I’m learning the art of saying, ‘no. I’m not very good at it yet, but I’m in my learning stages. Also, surrendering and accepting are ways I’m being kind to myself. So really embracing these principles as radical acts of kindness. And giving myself the permission to just ‘let go’. And affording myself the empathy and compassion I easily offer others.

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

I think my real, deep appreciation for making do with what you have and really extending the life of things whether it’s food, clothes, products. I grew up in a very thrifty household where most of what we owned was second hand. This is definitely a tradition that has been handed down to me - this modern, western ideology of ‘sustainability’ was embedded in how I grew up. Being resourceful and getting the maximum value and use out of everything was really engrained in me from a young age. 

And also, this idea of being principled and ethical. It’s interesting, my father was very flawed in many ways through his actions and often was quite limited in what he could demonstrate to me. But through his words, he taught me that honesty and having a high moral compass was so important in life. And I’ve really carried this through my life.  Always seeking change and challenging mainstream systems is something that was also handed down – this idea of making sure we challenge the capitalist society we live in and seeing the exploitation in systems to create more equitable opportunities for people.

My mum handed down to me this beautiful, whimsical look on life – that there is joy in every moment, and that every moment is an opportunity for service, care and healing to others. I definitely get my ‘selflessness’ and nurturing side from my mum, always putting others first before thinking about myself.

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

I am a big believer in solo time as I believe this really allows the space for reflection. I think we all have access to our intuition, but I think in this busy fast-paced world we live in, we are often disconnected to our purpose, and are more concerned with ticking things off our ‘to do list’. These kinds of actions don’t ignite our intuition. I actually think as a society, especially in a western context, we feel we have a strong grasp and control on life – when we really don’t. I think life’s hurdles, struggles and pain really help you strengthen your gut feeling. I also feel when my gut or intuition is there to tell me something, if I don’t listen straight away, it appears in other representations. Our bodies generally react to what’s right or wrong if our mind hasn’t caught up, or it isn’t ready. So really feeling any sensory changes in your body. I know if I’m doing something I should have said, ‘no’ to, or something doesn’t feel right – I feel it in my body through physical pain immediately. Everyone has different ways they connect with their intuition, but there are signs – we just have to be open to listening. I have a real affinity to my intuition, and even to how others are feeling. I think a lot of it has to do with energy, and I’ve developed this over time as I’m really perceptive with people’s behaviours. I’m so curious about people, how they move, how they act – what we as humans do in general. And I think this sensitivity and curiosity develops your sense of self too.

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

That I am balanced and don’t stress out! This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think it *may* look like it from the outside in, but I’m always wanting to do more, offer more to more people. Balance may not be possible or achievable, but I think it’s important to try to aim for it. But it’s definitely not something I have!

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

I absolutely love all that you do and what you stand for! My Collective Closets culottes are worn several times a week – and I always get compliments when I wear them! Thank you for using fashion as a powerful tool to communicate style, but also as a way to invite Women to share their journey and stories! 

COLLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS . . . TALKING TO STYLIST, MODEL + CREATIVE DIRECTOR NTOMBI MOYO!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to stylist, model, photographer, videographer and creative director. She's multi-talented (clearly) female powerhouse who recently made the move from Australian shores to NYC. She spoke to us about her heritage, her tribe.

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Rebel, empathetic and dramatic.

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

I associate heritage with my background and who I am. I associate tradition with my culture and the things we do.

3.. Something that you’re passionate about?

Living life to the fullest, I have a big zest for consistent enjoyment.

4. Who do you most admire? 

I stan black women all day, every day!!! 

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

I like to get my hair done, that’s my thing. Fresh braids every two weeks and new shoes whenever my spirits are low.

6. What is something you’re proud of? 

I am proud that I am still able to find joy and share laughter in each day despite some of the dark moments I have had in my young life. 

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

I have begun to give myself the same grace that I extend to others. I have begun to be protective of myself the way I am of others. Giving myself the same love that I have always reserved for others.

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

I am very tied to my tribe and all the traditions passed down in the form of language, food, dance and expressions of respect. I am a proud Ndebele woman. 

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

I deeply rely on my intuition, I always need to break away from company and spend some solo time processing so that I can listen to my inner voice. Silencing the voices of others to be able to hear mine. I have always found my answers by going inward.

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

Hmm.. perhaps that I am a talkative character. I am most comfortable being quiet, I often break out of this to joke around with friends and these are the moments seen by most people. 

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

More plus sized garments!

 

11 FIRE QUESTIONS WITH GIRLBOSS KERRYN MOSCICKI!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to Kerryn Moscicki, the woman behind one of our favourite shoe labels, Radical Yes. She's a business owner, a mum, a yoga extrodinare and an all-around girl boss. We talked to her about her traditions and why she loves what she does.

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Determined. Light. Grateful.

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

A lot! Since having my own family I think there has been a big shift for me personally in how I see tradition. My husband's Argentinian / Spanish / Polish (!) background has certainly influenced that enormously in terms of food celebrations and things we have introduced to our kids. But at a more personal level it's traditions we have established around family life - simple things like Friday night Pizza (Leo makes the base 5 days in advance #obsessed), Sunday morning Crepes with dulce de lechei (Argentinian caramel), Sunday visits to the Library (pre-covid!) and a particularly special celebration for Winter Solstice that really shapes the importance of tradition to give meaning and form to our lives.

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

My family. My family are my highest value and first priority especially while my children (2 boys, Maximilian (12) and Olso (6)) are still young enough to want to hang out with me. Days that I know are probably numbered at this point.

4.Who do you most admire? 

Amy Smilovic  (@amysmilovic) who is the founder and creative director of a US Brand I really love called Tibi is someone I admire a lot. Tibi has been running for over 20 years, and as a brand have reinvented themselves fearlessly over the past few years. Amy is incredibly authentic and generous with her experience on running a brand on her personal instagram where she gives regular entrepreneurial tutorials specific to running a fashion business and also styling guides for her customers. A mother of two as well, Amy is just very real and for me personally a great example of the importance of following your intuition with your brand and being brave when aesthetic changes need to be made,  which I believe is inevitable if you run a business over a long period of time.

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

I guess all my rituals are grounded in my Yoga practice, which extend into my morning/exercise routine. I used to have a lot of dogma around my practice and be incredibly strict with a 6 day a week Ashtanga yoga commitment. The last few years I have softened and changed my practice a lot and now it includes much longer periods of meditation and writing as well as different heart opening practices like Jivamukti and Chi Gong, which I do with Leo most mornings. I think the task with rituals is to make sure they are bringing you a sense of space and peace and not another thing to add to your to do list. When it becomes dogma or becomes exhausting, the point is being missed.

6. What is something you’re proud of? 

Our business Radical Yes. Because we have learnt so much from the practice of running the business and because we have remained grounded in our pursuit of autonomy and independence even when people told us we should consider giving up. I once had an accountant who asked me, "how long do you want to work 70 hours a week and get paid the same amount as someone pulling beers for 30 hours a week?" That was about 4 years ago. I sacked the Accountant and kept going. I believe in the brand beyond way beyond money. 

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

I have a practice I call 'lightening up'. It's inspired by Pema Chodron who is a Buddahist monk that has written some really inspiring books like "When things Fall Apart" and she talks about this process of just 'lightening up'. I find it's when I am taking myself or situations too seriously that I am unkind to myself so I just try to look to the humour and impermanence of life and it always softens my self talk.

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

As a family on Winter Solstice (June 21) we celebrate with a 12 course Polish meal that Leo always prepares from scratch. It's mind blowing. It involves Borscht (a kind of beetroot soup), Perogi's (Polish Dumplings), Rollmops (which are beautiful fish rolled in pickles), and Smoked Salmon Blinis with sour cream and pickles. It's a very light but indulgent meal we have with champagne that is usually eaten for Polish Christmas but we have it mid-winter instead. We use this meal as a way to welcome winter, and in the past have used it to write declarations of things we want to let go of to burn in the bonfire at Children's Collingwood farm solstice celebrations. Obviously not this year though!

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

Journaling. I follow the 'Artist's Way' practice of morning pages and try my hardest to get 3 pages down most days, not always in the morning but if I am blocked or just needing to reflect. It's the best way to get 'head gossip' out of your head and clear to a sense of clarity and new perspective.

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

That I have a lot of shoes. Which I kind of do and kind of don't. I am sample size which means I can wear all the samples we make, but it also means I never wear the bulk production (the finished beautiful ones) because I always feel guilty wearing the best stock. I would rather save it for our customers since we make in such small quantities.

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

Another round of Radical Yes x Collective closets shoes and bags!! Just say YES! Haha!

 

 

11 FIRE QUESTIONS WITH PHOTOGRAPHER + TRAVEL ENTHUSIAST MICHAELA BARCA!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to photographer + travel enthusiast Michaela Barca. A long time collaborator and friend of Collective Closets, Michaela is the lady behind the lens and plays an integral part in bringing our ideas to life. We chatted to her about family, freelancing and her traditions. 

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Loving, caring, perfectionist.

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

My Italian heritage has undoubtedly embedded the importance of family and the significance of maintaining little traditions around family time. These may be small things, like enjoying a home cooked family meal together where we laugh and share stories from our day. I was always and still am so proud to bring friends to my family gatherings and share all the amazing food and culture that comes with an Italian family. I know that these are the little things that have made me the person I am today, so I would say that heritage and tradition mean a lot! 

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

Photography (of course) it’s not only my job but my greatest passion!  Aside from my client work,  I’m forever camera in hand taking photos of anything and everything. Whether that be my beautiful nieces and nephew and the delicate details in everyday life or traveling around the world capturing extraordinary and inspiring surroundings. 

4. Who do you most admire? 

My family,  growing up we were a very tight knit family of 5 and not much has changed, aside from the additional members. My mum, the core of our family. Her nurturing and selfless nature inspires me everyday. My dad, the funny and relaxed one, with an ability to make every person he meets laugh. And my two sisters who are both my best friends. Creative, intelligent women who are also the best mummies, raising the greatest little humans!

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

Pre Covid, a weekly ritual was Tuesday night dinners at mum and dads with the whole fam, I miss this the most.

6. What is something you’re proud of? 

Talking about myself and articulating my work and what I do is something I have always found extremely difficult, my website bio is terrible. However, I do feel a shift in my mindset around this because I am extremely proud of how far I have come in my career and all that I have achieved. Freelance photography is a tough gig, one that I felt a lot of people rolled their eyes at and questioned if I would ever be able to support myself doing full time. I still remember the fear and doubt I felt when I decided to quit my full time retail job a few years back. It was the best thing I ever did! After a few hard years, I now say with confidence that I am a photographer with a depth of experience and I feel so incredibly lucky to be doing what I love everyday. 

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

I am slightly embarrassed to say it, but I do love to indulge and gift myself high quality things more often than not. In other words, I do love to shop. But it's not in the way of retail therapy or buying things for the sake of it. Over the last few years, I have become extremely conscious about what I buy and who I’m buying from. Buying high quality, Australian made products is something I feel very strongly about and it makes me so happy to be able to support local and ethical brands. This is why working with Collective Closets is so incredible because their values are so in line with mine. I think we can not underestimate how much of an impact a beautifully curated home space and a concise and considered wardrobe can make on our wellbeing.

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

Not exactly a tradition but something I am trying to adopt is my mum and my nonnis (grandparents) cooking. I love going to their houses and watching them cook, often there is no recipe to follow. It brings me great joy when I can cook dinner for my partner and I, and it tastes just like theirs! I have recently mastered my mum's lasagna. 

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

I think very well, in photography, intuition is everything. Sometimes things need to be moved or positioned in way for no other reason than because that is just what looks and feels right. There is no other way to explain it, but connecting with my own intuition on every job is the only way to make sure the job is done right. 

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

People always think I’m really relaxed and chilled out, especially my wedding clients. Which is good, because the last thing you want is a stressed out photographer on your wedding day. But really, I am always pretty stressed even if I don't show it. I put very big expectations on myself but the perfectionist in me wouldn't have it any other way.

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

Just keep doing what you’re doing ladies, love being on the journey with you! 

11 FIRE QUESTIONS WITH GENETICS COUNSELLOR + NEON ENTHUSIAST MIRANDA LEWIT-MENDES!

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 another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to genetic counsellor + colour enthusiast Miranda Lewit-Mendes. She was a student for six years before landing her dream job. She now provides information and support to people impacted by genetic conditions and diseases, all while sporting blinding shades of neon and fluffy leopard-print coats- naturally

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Extravagant, enthusiastic, and empathic.

 2. How have you been staying motivated?

I have been lucky enough to keep working through quarantine, which has helped me maintain some form of normality. Having patients and colleagues depending on me has really helped to give me a purpose, even when I haven’t been able to do most other things I enjoy. I love being busy, so I have tried to focus on using the extra time to enjoy things that I might not usually have a lot of time for, like learning to cook and caring for my rapidly expanding indoor plant collection.

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

Genetics and bright outfits - an unexpected combo perhaps! I find science absolutely fascinating and I have been very fortunate to recently get a job in my dream career as a genetic counsellor, where I get to learn about new genetic conditions everyday and support people impacted by these conditions. Styling wacky outfits has also been a passion of mine almost my whole life and brings me a lot of joy everytime I get dressed (sometimes to the point of changing outfits multiple times a day...) When I first started working as a genetic counsellor, I wasn't sure whether my two loves would be mutually exclusive - thankfully they're not...or at least in my mind they're not! Let's put it this way, my workplace is slowly becoming accustomed to expecting neon green and orange outfits or fluffy leopard print coats from me. 

4. Who do you most admire? 

I admire people who do things they want to do for themselves, not because they think they should or because of what other people might think. It isn't always as easy as it seems to do something without the help or approval of others. I also have a lot of respect for people who work hard and are motivated to achieve their goals, whether they are big or small.

5. What scares you the most about the unknown?

Time goes so quickly and this is quite selfish but I'm terrified at the possibility of missing out on the things that I love doing for a long time to come. If I had to describe myself with a fourth word, it would be excitable. I get very excited about everything, whether it's travelling or going to a festival or dinner plans with friends. Unfortunately when these things don't happen, I feel the same amount of emotion but in the form of disappointment. 

6. What is something you’re proud of? 

Getting to where I am in my career. I spent many years trying to work out what I wanted to do, working random jobs and then studying for 6 years to be able to work in the role I am doing now. After a lot of persistence and weekends spent doing assignents, I'm proud to be working in a job that I love.

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

I'm the type of person that relishes crossing tasks off a to-do-list, which can be very satisfying but also very guilt-inducing if I don't achieve all the tasks I want to. So I'm trying to be kinder by allowing myself to also spend time doing what I enjoy, even if it isn't necessarily something productive or useful. 

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

Going to festivals and music events with my friends. There is nothing on earth that makes me happier than to be dancing to music I love and see all my friends dancing and smiling around me. In glittery and ridiculous costumes if possible!

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

I like to think and think and overthink things...I think I struggle to connect with my intuition and as a result I spend a lot of time in my head, which is not necessarily always helpful. My job involves a lot of self-reflection, which I think is really useful for helping me recognise how I react emotionally and understand how I am affected by certain things in my personal life as well as in my professional work. But I definitely still rely on a lot on consciously analysing things, rather than trusting my intuition. I think perhaps this is just part of my personality...I spent a lot of time thinking about my answer to this question so maybe there is your answer!

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

Because of my love for eclectic outfits, and somewhat extensive wardrobe collection, people often assume I work in the fashion industry!

11. Is there an item you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future? 
I'm in love with my blue check pants that I got years ago and I wear my green check bag almost every day, so please keep the bright check prints coming! I feel like check is timeless and the electric colour schemes of Collective Closets keep the print feeling completely new and exciting every time. 

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 Stylist + Creative Director Karinda Mutabazi!

    Shot by Katie Fergus at VAMFF.  
    

    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 fashion stylist Karinda Mutabazi. She's a style guru who's worked with the best of the Australian creative industries and entertainment scene, a multi-talented woman who uses her platform to "find beauty and creative magic in diversity."  We chatted to her about making meaningful connections, being yourself and disrupting the status quo.

    1. Describe yourself in three words? 

    Curious, easy-going, pragmatic.

    2. How have you been staying motivated? 

    I have been fuelled by this lockdown to take the time to do all the things I have been putting off, or haven’t had time to do. I have spent the last few years putting off life admin like updating my website, doing my taxes, cleaning my office etc. At the start of the lockdown I made a vow that I was going to come out of this organised and energised. I’ve been reading again, listening to podcasts, and going down random creative research rabbit holes. Include a dose of daily exercise; walking, yoga, pilates, dancing and so far it has kept my mind and body active and healthy….I think.

    3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

    I am passionate about quietly disrupting the status quo, and telling an authentic story through my work. When I was growing up there weren’t many people who looked like me in the fashion/entertainment industries in Australia. Thankfully that is slowly changing, and I never let it stopped me. Now, I try and use my opportunities to empower, nurture and collaborate with BIPOC as much as possible. I find the most beauty and creative magic in diversity, and want to create images and stories that champion that. I guess this is why I am drawn to people who aren’t like everyone else. 

    4. Who do you most admire? 

    My peers and friends, they inspire and push me to be my best, these are strong independent women who are doing things on their terms; Nicole Rucker - Baker, Sarah Chin - Warner Music, Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore - Director, Lauren Hansen - NBL,Simone Farrugia - Stylist, Niki Williams - David Jones, Leah Howard - All things entertainment and life …. To name a few, there are so many more!

    5. What scares you the most about the unknown?

    I actually find the unknown quite exciting. I’m not much of a longterm planner, but am a huge believer in taking opportunities as they come. I love the challenge and excitement that comes from new and unknown opportunities, places and people. 

    Erik Yvon shot by Prue Stent, styling work by Karinda. 

    6. What is something you’re proud of? 

    The network of creative people I have built up all over the world, people in all different countries and professions who continue to nurture and inspire me. There is nothing like bringing together creative minds from all different backgrounds, it makes for a magical and unique blend that can't be beaten. 

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

    Bakery treats is a big one! My faves at the moment are Beatrix, Falco, All Are Welcome and Bread Club….. also meditation, which I should do more of, 'cos it always feels great when I do. 

    Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore shot by Michelle Grace Hunder wearing CC for Her Sound, Her Story. Styling by Karinda. 

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

    I am looking forward to traveling again…. I know that it won’t happen for a long time…. but knowing I can get on a plane and go see friends and family on the other side of the world will make me pretty happy. 

    Shot by Amelia J Dowd, wearing Sunshine Symbol, styling work by Karinda.

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

    I live in the moment most of the time, so feel pretty in-tune with my intuition. There have been moments when I questioned a decision, but have gone with my instinct, and have made life long friendships and had amazing experiences because I did. I try to be myself in all situations, open and honest, this hasn’t has worked out for me so far. I find if you are real with people, they eventually are forced to be real back, and that is how you can make meaningful connections. 

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

    Im not really sure…. I guess you would have to ask them :) Maybe that I am younger than I actually am????… I thank my dad everyday for my African genes.

     

    Shot at the Social Studio VAMFF panel discussion 2019.

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

    More Jump/boliersuits and anything made in Shuka Masai fabric!

    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 Celebrant + Mum Jamima Wu!

    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 gorgeous Jamima Wu.She's a celebrant, mum, wife, glass-half-full kinda girl and lover of all things love. We chatted to her about the magic of weddings, family, motivation and hugs.

    1. Describe yourself in three words? 

      Easy going, fun!
       
    2. How have you been staying motivated? 

      Doing the three Rs, Rest, Reflect and Refocus.
      Now is the best time to take a moment out and just chill the F out! I think sometimes when you actually get sick it's your body telling you to just stop for a moment and stay the F home. It's ok to not do a million things and laze guilt free in comfort.
      It's also the perfect time to reflect on some of the awesome ceremonies from last season, and write up some new blog posts for my website.
      Lastly I'm getting ready to refocus and make a solid plan in anticipation for the next wedding season. So when we get back into the swing of things I'm prepared and ready to bring along the best vibes for the most epic celebrations of love. 

    3. Something that you’re passionate about?

     
    Helping each couple navigate their way through to their wedding day and seeing everything come together on the day is pretty magical! Every couple is different, and I'm always super excited to get to know their unique vibe and work to create a ceremony that is the ultimate celebration of their two worlds coming together.I always try my best to create a safe space for each couple to feel comfortable AF and shine bright like a diamond on the day.  

    4. Who do you most admire? 

    Other awesome kick ass celebrants in the biz and a host of amazing wedding vendors (photographers, venues, florists, stylists, etc) that all works together into making the magic on the day. There's a pretty solid community of wedding and events vendors out there.

    5. What scares you the most about the unknown?

    I guess the 'unknown' makes me try to anticipate what needs to be done in order to adapt to the changes or challenges. I'm not scared about the unknown, mostly I get excited about change as it forces me to think on my toes and try something different.

    6. What is something you’re proud of? 

    I'm proud of the family I have created with my husband Malachi. 
    We've both come from complete different worlds, with unconventional upbringings. What unites us is the desire to come together to form the ultimate team and see our own family unit grow. So far so good! Life in pandemic lockdown has been kind of lovely keeping active with our pre-school aged son Kingston, baby girl Akira and our frenchie Oscar.

    7. Whats something you to do be kind to yourself? 

    Just trust that I've got this.

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

    Hugging everyone! Social distancing is the weirdest and most awkward thing ever.

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

    I'm doing it as I'm trying to answer this question. I generally like to verbalise and talk things through with someone in order to work things out. I find just the act of sounding out the ideas and bouncing off someone helps me figure out my inner voice. My husband is usually the person that I can sound off to, although he jokes that I always disagrees with what he has to say, sorry Mal!

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

    I'm a pretty open book and I'm open to interpretations.

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

    All I am looking for right now are pockets and front opening access for boob feeding and you guys have that mostly covered!
    Other than that, a full length duster or trench would be perfect. I'd love something that you can wrap yourself up in or have it open and flow when you move.

    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