Collective Conversations . . . talking to Rahel and Wintana, co-hosts of the Bittersweet Podcast!

Rahel wears our Amani culottes and Ikoni blazer, Wintana wears our Sasa trench coat (available for pre-order) and Amani high waisted culottes.
At Collective Closets, we believe in individuality, authenticity, and celebrating the power of a woman. As businesswomen, we share the story of our influences and upbringing through our designs and the beautiful textiles we grew up with. We created Collective Conversations to spotlight the amazing women in our community and find out how they share their own stories. This series spotlights members of our tribe, gaining insight into their values, passions, and the drive behind what they do.

 Rahel wears our Sura a-line dress, Wintana wears our Ikoni blazer.
This month we're talking to Wintana Kidane and Rahel Ephrem, co-hosts, presenters and producers of the Bittersweet Podcast, best friends (basically sisters) and incredible voices for the new generation of Black creatives.
Both Melbourne locals living abroad, they met in London through a mutual friend. Their diverse and nuanced conversations around their experiences as women of colour sparked the idea for Bittersweet. It began as a way to authentically represent the unique journeys of people of colour living in Australia – and much like the two young women, has evolved incredibly since.
We spent the afternoon talking, laughing and shooting with them in Footscray. Their energy is – forgive the cliche – completely infectious. These are the young women we're excited to share our community with – Rahel and Wintana are warm, self-aware, insightful and wise beyond their years.
Rahel wears our Sura a-line dress and Radical Yes x CC bag (coming soon!)
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Wintana: Curious, passionate, professional procrastinator.
Rahel: Low-key, self-assured, kind.
What’s the best advice you’ve received and how has this impacted your life?
Wintana: Best advice I’ve received came from my mum who always says, ‘be yourself and stay true". Funny story behind this line – when I was a kid my mum would catch me being really loud and animated around people and when we’d get home, she’d always say “just be yourself” (lowkey throwing shade). As I get older, she continues to remind me of those words. It’s a gentle reminder that I am enough and that I don’t need to prove myself in every room I enter. I just need to be myself
!
Rahel: I think one of the best pieces of advice I have received is how important it is to really interrogate why you want to do something before you start it. Basically, this person was explaining to me the significance of understanding where my motivations for action come from and whether I am being true and authentic to myself. This piece of advice came at a time where I was a bit lost and ready to jump into anything, but once I sat down and really thought about my passions and what drives me, I felt soooo much more self-assured, confident and at peace in what I was doing and my ability to succeed. ​
Wintana wears our Rafiki top and Urafiki high waisted pants.
How do you block out your fears?
Wintana: Usually, my fears come from a cluttered mind. I literally always have a million things racing through my head and then end up psyching myself out, so I'll do anything that will help me rearrange my thoughts. Talk it out with a close friend, go for a walk, pray and consume positive content – storytelling podcasts honestly help! I also acknowledge my journey and try to remember how I overcame my old fears (it puts a lot into perspective).
Rahel: By remembering it’s not all about me. One of the biggest struggles is worrying too much about how other people see me. I also tend to people please A LOT! Because of this, I can get anxious in social situations. I overthink and worry about what other people are feeling/thinking. Because a lot of the work I do professionally involves interacting, communicating and leading others, these feelings of being judged and letting people down have led to a lot of fear and stress. Something that has really helped me overcome this is reminding myself “it's not all about me!!!” People are too worried about themselves to really think too much about me!! There's also a much bigger picture and a lot of purpose to the work I do. When I'm feeling scared or overwhelmed, I remind myself of this by taking a step back, getting out of my head and finding perspective in the moment.
What’s something you get to experience that you previously took for granted?
Rahel: Because of restrictions on distance I barely got to see my parents during the pandemic and the hard lockdown in 2020. This was very strange for me because even though they're two hours away, we used to see each other regularly. My mum would come and stay with us once a week and my dad would visit when he could; my sister and I would also regularly go and see them when we had a spare weekend. I LOVE catching up with my parents, filling them in on what's going on with me and hearing about their lives too.
Wintana: Time and solitude. I’ve always been a social person, but I never understood my own boundaries. After my time studying and traveling overseas and now this pandemic, I’ve really grown to fully appreciate and respect my own time and space.

Rahel wears our Amani culottes and Ikoni blazer, Wintana wears our Sasa trench coat (available for pre-order) and Amani high waisted culottes.

Which cause are you willing to fight for?
Wintana: Uplifting Black culture, ALL DAY EVERYDAY! The Black diaspora, collectively, have such beautiful, raw and empowering stories and experiences. Documenting these stories is so important to me, for the purpose of strengthening our community and for the next generation to look up to. Whether it’s fighting for authentic representation, uplifting black businesses or education, I’m here for it!
Rahel: Social justice and racial equity. I think my lived experiences have pushed me to fight for these causes. As a person of colour, with a unique voice and story, I have always felt this drive to make a difference while also uplifting others along the way. This, of course, is the reason Wintana and I started The Bittersweet Podcast. We hope that through storytelling and authentic representation, we will be able to challenge pervasive narratives while also providing a safe platform for other people of colour to express themselves, showcase their talents and just generally be amazing!!
What’s a hard lesson that you were grateful to learn?
Rahel: I am in control of my own life. As basic as this sounds, after finishing high school and university, it took me some time to realise that I had to take action in order to change/improve my life. No one was gonna give me a good grade or tell me I had this assignment due or class to attend etc. It was all on me, I had to figure out my own direction and make some big decisions. As much as this was a bit of a shock at first, I have had such an incredible journey! And I am very happy with where I am today.
Wintana: Forgiveness, for myself and others. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had huge relationship shifts in my life, particularly friendships. I’ve also looked back and recognised bad choices I’ve made, that only resulted in myself getting hurt. Dwelling on past relationships and mistakes does nothing but leave you feeling more frustrated. Once you decide to move on, forgive and commit to that decision. Forgiveness is something I’m currently learning, it’s a challenge but if you’re looking for peace of mind, it’s necessary!
Rahel wears our Amani culottes and Ikoni blazer, Wintana wears our Sasa trench coat (available for pre-order) and Amani high waisted culottes.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
Wintana: It’s funny because at the start of the pandemic, I was living at home with my parents, cleaning out the garage and came across my old (primary school) file book. I literally wrote “I want to be a successful person when I’m older” for one of my activities. SO GENERIC. I also wanted to be a businesswoman of some sort, I always loved the boss lady trope.
Rahel: When I was younger I wanted to be an international lawyer (not that I even knew what that meant, or if it's a real thing!), I also wanted to work for the UN.
Do you feel like wisdom is something you gain with age, or through lived experiences?
Rahel: I think it can depend on the person. I do believe we tend to underestimate the wisdom that can come from age nowadays. However!! You can be 40, privileged and still clueless. So I definitely believe that the majority of wisdom people accumulate comes from endurance, self-reflection and lived experiences.
Wintana: Both! I think we can be exposed to certain experiences when we’re younger, that force us to acquire wisdom. I know my upbringing and my background influenced my perspective on the world from a young age. I also believe that with age comes lived experiences and growth, they work hand in hand.
Wintana wears our Sasa trench coat (available for pre-order), Radical Yes x CC bag (coming soon!) and Amani high waisted culottes.
What advice would you give to yourself 7 years ago?
Wintana: You’re going to make mistakes and that’s ok. Listen to yourself, recognise your potential and stay true. Also please learn time management because future you is struggling! Rahel: I think I would just tell myself to calm down, maybe just enjoy being young and basically carefree, life is not that stressful! That uni assignment, boyfriend, etc you’re so worked up about isn’t as life-altering as you think it is. Find your passion, figure out some goals and start actively working towards them.
What drives you?
Rahel: I’m driven by new experiences and challenges. I love meeting new people and getting out of my comfort zone. I have found over the years that although I am a naturally awkward and shy person, pushing myself to try new things and test my limits has led to growth, self-discovery, and huge amounts of new opportunities.
Wintana: I'm constantly inspired by the conversations I have with the people in my community, that being my family and friends, Black women and the diaspora. These conversations spark a desire in me to create space, change and awareness. I understand first-hand how frustrating it can be to not feel seen or heard, and how much of a significant impact it can make having access to spaces you can relate to. This knowledge drives me.
Wintana wears our Rafiki top and Urafiki high waisted pants.
What’s your favourite piece from our Wisdom collection, and how would you style it?
Wintana: Firstly, can I just say, I’m literally obsessed with the whole collection! My favourite piece would have to be the skirt. It’s so versatile – if I’m going for cute and casual, I’d pair it with sneakers and a white crop or t-shirt. If I’m going for sophisticated, I’d pair it with heels and a turtleneck or the Rafiki top (also in this collection).
Rahel: I LOVE the Ikoni blazer. I'd style it with a black or deep blue pleated tennis skirt and an orange turtleneck. I'd add some flat knee-high boots and cute accessories (like gold earrings, necklaces and a mini handbag).
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