the wanderer. FlexMami

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

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

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

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

 

the wanderer. Kestrel Jenkins

 

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

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

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

Wandering is core to who I am.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

 

the wanderer. Yassmin Abdel-Magied

 

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

 

the wanderer. the series

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Dear Me: Rachel Service

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

 Dear Rachel,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You start to focus your attention on public speaking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instead: I want you to enjoy it.

 Rachel Service

 



Dear Me: Victoria Latu

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

Dear 17 year old Vic,

You are enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love always,

35 year old Victoria. 

 

Dear Me: Sampa The Great

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

Sampa,

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

You being strong and soft.  

You being beautiful and black.

You being smart and funny.

May become a little confusing to some. 

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

But consider this for a minute,

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

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

Believe me, there’s only one like you. 

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

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

I need your belief in yourself to be outrageous!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Sampa, 

Dear Me: Kwena Baloyi

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

 

Dear 17 year old Kwena, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 year old me, 

Kwena x 

 

Dear Me: Letters to my younger self from inspiring women

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

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