Hey Guys! To say 2020 has tested us as a generation immensely is to put it gently. From wild fires to a pandemic, Losing a cultural hero (Kobe) to economic downturn, Runaway COVID monkeys and… More
I made this coat in January I think but I just never blogged it. As you can tell by the drippy nature of this, I clearly wronged you by not sharing sooner, but I am here now just in time for F/W2019.
Bigger than the coat though, I am here to talk to myself and anyone else who cares to listen about embracing femininity. For so long, I feel like it’s almost become acceptable to despise being female. I know I have certainly had many mixed feelings about what is frankly just my fact of birth. The phrase “Why does the woman always have to [insert high standard that men aren’t held to here]”, has come up in so many conversations and in so many different permutations and honestly, it can be a little miserable.
It’s miserable realizing that your life is expected to be some collection of insurmountable injustices; especially as a black woman, where the intersection of your race and gender presents nothing but emotional labour and unreciprocated effort. This may be why I fought with the concept of womanhood for so long, because being a girl is just a little easier sometimes. You can delay some expectations, you can still choose how you want to interact with the world around you. You are hopeful.
Anyhow, now I’m here. Fully woman and I am choosing to love this. I am choosing to see this as a privilege and not a burden. I have the unique opportunity to wake up each day in this body and I think that is pretty amazing.
I look at my physical body today, and where I would once have complained about it being too much or not enough, I see it as perfectly suited to me.
Where I would have tried to soften my wit to make it more palatable for some, I now speak and expect to be heard.
I have no time for people who don’t value my time or talents because there is a very strong roster of people who do.
I cry if I need to cry because it’s a healthy expression of my emotions.
I ask for help if I need it because I wasn’t built to do life alone.
I set boundaries on my time, my relationships and my space because I love myself and I want to keep me safe.
I speak positively to myself because it enriches my soul.
I smile at my reflection because it is a privilege to do so.
Our time on this earth is as short as it is long. It is just enough time for us to give of ourselves in tremendous ways. When I find myself staring in the mirror too long because of a breakout, or bemoaning my edges or my nail beds or my cellulite, I will try to remember what a privilege it is to be female. To share this unique human experience of femininity with so many other amazing women. To be called one of them.
When I am in a space where I feel like I am being drowned out by the men in the room, I will remember that my voice is important and I have a responsibility to myself to speak even if they refuse to hear. I will also remember to be a support for another woman if I see her being drowned out.
When I see another woman doing amazing things, I will celebrate her because I know the privilege that we have in carrying the bodies that we do and pushing boundaries where we do.
When I look at this beautiful life and see the men in my life achieving exceptional things, I will remember that uplifting them does not mean that I am any less privileged to be in this body that I am in. I will remember that their success does not have to mean my downfall. I will take inspiration from their uninhibited love of self and love myself just as fiercely
When it hurts to carry the full reality of this feminine form, I will remember that I have purpose that impacts a world so much bigger than me. Every day that I push past the physical, emotional or mental pressures that this body brings, I am pressing closer to the thing that I am here to do
And on the high highs and the low lows, I will always choose to rest in faith knowing that I am never alone
Every year, I find myself a little bit more. I learn more about my fears and how to challenge them, I learn more about what I like and what I don’t like. When I feel most and least confident. Frankly, the answers to these questions change and I expect that will remain true as I carry on with life. However, as I approach my first quarter century, (yes I turn 25 this year) I can honestly say that some things that are core to who I am are becoming a little clearer.
This weekend I hosted 8 beautiful women at a sewing workshop as my pilot event for Lavendame. Now before I take you on the who, what, when, why journey of Lavendame, I remembered a little plan I had when I was about 14. I wrote all about it in a blue hard cover note book. It was going to be called “Purple touch” and while I don’t remember all the details but it was definitely about empowering women. I remember being fussy about the little details like what shade of purple would be my theme and what my logo would look like. I knew I wanted to make an impact with women in my community but that’s about all I remember.
This brings me back to the core things that make me tick. Empathy, Empowering women, Art, Family, Faith and Community. Everything I do draws from these pools. I suppose I’ve known this for a while but only subconsciously so. The idea for Lavendame started brewing years ago when I first started plotting my vision for my life, a vision of building economically sustainable communities. At the time it wasn’t called Lavendame; it wasn’t called anything. The idea of Purple touch was then a distant memory and I was feeling a little lost for purpose.
Fast forward to December last year and I had a yearning to create an arts based community of women in the city. Women like me, who spend the greater part of their day at a job, being a polished and professional version of themselves, spending too little time doing things that ignited their passions and investing all of their creative energy in developing decks and finding the best way to tell the client that they need to make a decision or kick rocks. I missed sewing, I missed blogging, I missed experimenting with other creative outlets like painting and knitting and baking and writing. I missed being well rounded and doing things for me! I was certain that there were other women in the city that felt the exact same way so I was determined to make that community happen.
I talked the idea over with my family and inner circle and slowly began to gain confidence that this idea was worth pushing for…Then the fear kicked in. What if there are other people doing the same thing or similar things (there are). What if I jump into this too soon and it’s half baked and everyone hates it? (Welp!). What if there’s no reasonable way to sustain this (still figuring this out). I wrote my ideas out in painstaking detail, mulled over them and wrote some more. I talked about it again with family and with God and everyone’s feedback was Just Start Already!
The first time I reached out to a sewing studio for this, I literally had to psyche myself up; “pretend this is just like reaching out to book an event for your birthday” “Just ask if they even do private events” “Just try!” I am so thankful to the lovely people at The Make Den for answering the thousands of questions I had and making great recommendations. After I finally locked down the location, I psyched myself up once again to reach out to my friends to see if they would come. Fear and fulfillment are neighbors I guess because with shaky fingers I typed up the message and sent it out to a few friends, anxiously awaiting any kind of response. The yeses trickled in and I sat on my bed bawling and laughing because I was just so happy anyone would be willing to take that chance on me
The dust has settled now from my first event, feedback is coming in at a steady pace and it’s generally positive, constructive and very actionable. More events are coming up for Lavendame so stay tuned on our Instagram. There’s a peace that comes with doing something you were made to do and I definitely feel this is one of those things
Let me know in the comments if you have any stories of finding yourself, where are you in that journey?
“9:36pm I asked for her hand”
I have been trying to be a bit more frugal Fran with my spending habits so I’m opting for the streetcar a lot more these days. You hear, see and smell all sorts on the streetcar. People plotting breakups, people hashing out business ideas, the odd fellow who is really just looking for a fight with anyone who would oblige and ah, the sometimes pungent, sometimes faint, but always present; smell of urine and cigarettes that clings to the inside of your nostrils long after you’re off the streetcar.
It’s virtually impossible not to eavesdrop on some conversations. I never really intend to overhear things but when the conversation is happening right by your neck or like today, right behind my neck, straight into my bun, it’s reeeally hard not to hear. Now for some context, I only heard one side of this phone conversation so I will embellish a little to complete the story in my mind.
He picks up the phone, it seems to have gone straight to voicemail. He says “Hey, I’m calling to ask for your hand”. “I know you’re probably asleep, it’s 9:36, I just want to ask for your hand”. That’s it. The conversation ends. He whispers to himself, “9:36pm, I asked for her hand”.
So naturally, as any normal person would (I think), I build up a couple stories to buttress this limited conversation. Story 1 and my personal default tale; he just worked up the courage to ask her to marry him. Now it doesn’t bode well in my fairytale that he did this over the phone when he knew she’d be asleep. If you’re so scared to ask her, are you sure it’s really the right move? But then, it could just be what a modern romance looks like; boy and girl play like tag on Instagram, he slides into her DM’s or maybe she slides into his and then a few months later he is so overwhelmed with love (or some equally compelling emotion) for her that he decides she is the one with whom he should go the distance. He’s on his way to her place and decides that just in case his nerves fail him when he beholds her ethereal “just woke up, what are you doing at my door” face, he will leave her a voicemail so she at least knows his intent. A perfectly logical move. Who’s to say that this isn’t the evolution of love?
My second story was far more sinister. Did he want her actual hand? I’ve only seen Silence of the Lambs once but it was enough for me to know that life might not be as easy breezy as Lauryn Hill’s voice on a summer drive. What if he was on his way to her house, stalking her, to collect her perfectly manicured hand!! I stole a glance to see if he looked like someone who might be better suited for the first story but from the salt and pepper beard and weathered eyes, I strongly doubted he would be sliding into any DM’s. Certainly not intentionally. I however refuted this sordid tale because I still like to believe there is good in this world.
This brings me to my final tale. He’s been married a few times. He’s always believed in love but with each failed marriage that belief has been marred with questions. Will he ever find that one true love? Is that fairy tale love for someone like him? Then he met her. They were both volunteering at a soup kitchen one afternoon and conversations about the weather evolved into conversations about faith and futures. The more they talked the clearer it became what people mean when they say “meant to be”. So he’s on his way home; to the home he hopes will soon be warmed by her scent, and on this crowded streetcar he has one singular thought; I have to ask for her hand. Unable to wait a moment more, he calls her and proposes. Her answer right now is almost inconsequential because no matter what she says, his faith in love is restored. She calls him back the next morning, hands shaking, almost unsure if this is a dream
she says yes.
So this phrase has been on my mind for a few weeks now. Joy comes. I really wanted to include a DIY with this post but honestly between a flu and extra long hours at work I didn’t want to add the pressure of rustling something together. Anyhow, joy comes!
2018 has been a big year of growth for me which sounds really great but in reality there have been a lot of growing pains. Coming to terms with things that I need to change about myself and areas that I need to improve. I can’t really say I am where I need to be but I’m definitely starting to gain some perspective.
I have learned that not addressing past hurt doesn’t make it go away
At some point I decided that steeping in my hurt feelings was a pointless activity and I really just needed to skip ahead to the part where I don’t feel hurt anymore. This could be with situations involving other people or ways that I have hurt myself. This year I have definitely learned that just because I didn’t address my feelings doesn’t mean that those feelings just disappeared. The root cause of whatever that hurt was lingers and slowly creeps back in when you least expect it. While I still don’t think it’s productive to wallow in disappointment, it isn’t healthy to ignore your feelings. I have had to allow myself to not be okay, to work through why I am not okay and I’m hoping I come out on the other side stronger and more capable.
I have learned to forgive myself
Contrary to what you might think, I’m actually not perfect…shocking I know. Surprised me too! Not being perfect means that sometimes I do things that either hurt others or hurt me. I get lazy, I get broody, I can be impetuous and irrational. In all of this, I learned and frankly am still learning to forgive myself when I get things wrong. You can only love others as much as you love you, so if I don’t forgive myself, it would be that much harder to forgive and give grace to other people. This also ties back to my first point about allowing myself acknowledge my feelings because if I’m honest, sometimes I feel guilty about being sad about things for too long. Reading that back, I feel a little silly but it’s true. I have had to learn to “forgive my feelings” for lack of a better way to frame that. I wouldn’t always feel how I want to but it’s okay and I mean truly okay.
I have learned that an important part of being happy is choosing to be happy.
Now while I may not always feel the way I want to, I can always choose happy. Choosing happy for me means surrounding myself with positive words and people. Doing nice things for myself like my nails or my hair. Saying good things about myself to myself. Acknowledging what I am grateful for and letting myself dream about the future. Choosing happy isn’t easy but it’s definitely worth it.
In all of this again I say, joy comes. Someone told me that joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is reactive while joy is proactive. Joy is an overarching state of being that washes over everything in its path. I honestly don’t know why that phrase has been on my mind lately but I really believe it. Joy comes.
It’s the first day of November and we really don’t have much time left in 2018 but I hope joy comes for you real soon 🙂
Let me know in the comments any positive mantras that keep you going
Trying new things
This isn’t a fashion post but I still wanted to blog anyway. As you may or may not have noticed I don’t sew everyday so if you assumed that I fill my other days with eating cakes and crumpets well you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. I like good food and I cannot lie. It could be anything from a Kit Kat bar to Epkang Nkukwo but your girl doesn’t mind snacking on a thing or two at any given point. My mum and sister are both food bloggers so even more opportunities to support the snackery.
This weekend, I took my mum to a vegan restaurant. Yes, my Nigerian mother agreed to vegan food. With MINIMAL persuasion!!!! Let’s just sit on that for a quick second. I’m still wondering what the catch was. She only mentioned meat once during the entire dinner and I feel we truly judged the food on it’s merit.
I was really inspired by my mum’s willingness to try something that frankly was not in her comfort zone in anyway. How often do we just play it safe, carry on with business as usual and never try to do something really new? It doesn’t always have to be a big thing like moving to another country or dying your hair spirogyra green. It could be the little things; like walking when you would have taken the bus or talking to people when you would otherwise have scrolled through Instagram for the 15th time in a 20 minute time-frame.
I guess all I’m saying is that you have to be willing to do the unexpected every now and again. Maybe it would work, maybe it won’t but it will be fun to try 🙂
Restaurant – Hello 123
DIY Infinity dress
It’s been a couple of weeks but I’m back with the finale on this infinity dress. I finally had the fitting I spoke to you about and it went reasonably well. Pinch in the waistband, shorten the hemline and lengthen the tails to wrap around more and we were golden! Infinity dresses can be tricky with figuring out the best way to wrap them so you’re completely covered and supported. My client decided to supplement her infinity dress with a bandeau in the same color as the lining to give herself a little more flexibility.
This got me thinking, how do you respond when presented with a potentially challenging situation? As in the case of this dress, the alternative was the possibility of unplanned side boobage so she got creative and engineered herself a solution. While challenging situations don’t always present themselves as wardrobe malfunctions, the same theory applies; seize the opportunity to re-engineer the circumstance in your favour.
So seeing as I am yet to steer you wrong, here are my top three tips on re-engineering every situation to maximize your benefits. (Disclaimer: I have no way to prove that this is fool-proof. Apply at your own discretion. If symptoms persist after 3 days consult your doctor??)
- Assess the situation: You can’t fix a problem that you aren’t aware of . Take the time to suss out everything about the situation and pin point your pain points.
- Visualize your intended outcome: Now that you know exactly what you want to fix, simply imagine your life with it fixed! Silly as it may sound, visualizing outcomes helps you gain perspective and a clear picture of what completion or success means to you in any situation.
- Make it happen girl!: You are very capable of pulling together the resources required to problem solve and remedy challenging situations. Even if you don’t have these resources within your reach, you likely know someone with the skill-set to support you.
The point of all this is that you should not accept the bare minimum or a less than ideal circumstance simply because that’s what was handed to you to start with. You can and you absolutely should negotiate circumstances to align with your preferred experience.
You can start that business even though you have very little money, you can get that degree even though you’re new to the field, you can earn 6 figures even though you’re 25, frankly, your options are limitless! There would be several people who won’t believe in you, just don’t be one of them.
She can and she definitely will.
ps. My birthday was this week 🙂 well probably last week when I publish this. I’ve been taking the time to reflect on the past year and pray for the year ahead. Let me know in the comments any attitudes or goals you would like to carry forward
DIY Infinity dress
It might be Tuesday but I have not forgotten you. I’m just staying busy and trying to be as productive as possible. Can you believe it’s almost the end of August?! Where did summer go? Technically it’s still summer till I have to break out the cozy sweaters but all these Back to School ads are giving me anxiety even though I’m not going to school this September. In a few short weeks I’ll be 24 which also has me breaking out in stress sweat. I’ll have to unpack that later.
Today, we are here with an update on the infinity dress and – (drumroll please) – we are pretty close to done this week! I have added the lining to the skirt portion and attached this to the top. All that’s left at this point is adding in the zipper, hemming the lining and finishing any raw edges on the inside and of course, a fitting!
I’m not going to lie, I’m slightly nervous about the fitting. I am very actively trying to banish all self doubt and just be confident that I did this right. It’s like those cooking shows where you’re not allowed to taste as you go. When I sew for myself, I try things on constantly, tweak and adjust as I go. By the time the outfit is complete, I have tried it on at least 4-7 times to make sure everything fits like it should. I’ve mounted this outfit on my mannequin which is set to my client’s measurements but nothing’s quite like trying out the outfit to see how you feel in it you know?
Now this leads me to wonder, is there a time for us to go on faith not feeling? (ooo you better preach gurl!) But seriously, knowing how you feel is very reassuring but what about just trusting that the outcome will be good even if you don’t know how you feel? OR trusting that the outcome will be good even if you feel otherwise? In today’s world we are definitely very heavily directed by how we feel. Everything is a vibe, a gut instinct or in Nina Simone’s words; “Just a feeling”. While I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s certainly easier than making decisions purely based on faith in an outcome.
Now lets take this one level deeper, do you have faith even in the absence of your expected end? To lay that out in practical terms, let’s imagine I’m waiting on the streetcar on a rainy day. First of all, my feeling would be to stay in my house, under my covers, away from all of damp civilization. My next feeling would be to Uber because the streetcar on a rainy day is particularly putrid. Nonetheless I have faith that the streetcar will come and be my cost effective solution to getting to work (my expected end). However, what if the streetcar never comes. It’s come on other days at other times so I know it exists. I’ve seen other streetcars pass by picking up passengers on the other side of the street so I know the process still works like I expect it to. However, what if my streetcar never comes? Do I still have enough faith to walk out the next morning with the expectation that it will?
I don’t necessarily have the answers to any of these questions; this is just where my mind wandered to today. Wish me luck on the dress fitting! Hopefully she loves it.
Let me know in the comments what’s on your mind today.
Celebrating in the hallway
My apologies for the missed post last week but I’m back again! Just a quick update, I have finally booked my road test (ahhhh!) I am taking some more driving classes to prepare for the test. Hopefully all goes well and I am certified to drive in about 6 weeks. My first driving lesson didn’t go horribly but it certainly wasn’t great so I have some ways to go.
Learning to drive has definitely been an ordeal for me. I’m still not sure how people get completely comfortable with it. Speaking of things outside my comfort zone, I am also making a dress for someone other than myself once again!! You might remember the first time I blogged about making a wedding dress, now I’m making a dress for a wedding guest. It’s all come full circle I suppose.
I’ll be making an infinity dress which means she’ll have a few different options on how to wear this dress. The dress is not complete however I wanted to take you all along on the journey with me. I typically post finished products and hardly ever show the process to completion. So far I have made the top portion of the dress which would be the “Infinity” portion. This consists of two strips, 10 inches wide and about 60 inches long. In this case, she wanted to play up the scalloped edges on the beaded lace fabric so I decided to tie it on my mannequin in a way that would showcase this detail. I will keep you updated as I build out the rest of this dress.
Sometimes it feels like, sharing your process is only okay when you know how the story ends. There is vulnerability in sharing the process when you don’t know if everything will be okay. On the one hand things could go flawlessly and you make very few mistakes but on the other hand, things may not work out how you want them to. Then what do you do? I believe you can still celebrate the process even when it doesn’t work out how you want. This falls neatly in line with my theme for this year which has been about living in the moment. Living in the moment means taking each step in the process like it’s the only one, reveling in the progression if you will.
Celebrating the finished product is great but it often misses much of the drama and emotion that got you there. Perhaps this is why I find occasions like graduations a little underwhelming. You are supposed to celebrate however many years of an education by walking across the stage and smiling. What if smiling doesn’t encapsulate all of the emotion that went into your degree? How do you fit in the smiles, tears, hugs, good grades, bad grades, relationships, breakups, weight gain, successes and failures in a 2 minute walk across the stage? However, if you take the time to appreciate each step and experience in your journey; good or bad, its certainly a more holistic way to celebrate
All of this being said, I will keep you updated when I make the skirt portion of this outfit and any future milestones towards completion.
Let me know in the comments what step in your journey you are celebrating today ❤
Financial education or the lack thereof
How are you all doing? Week off to a good start? If yes, wiggle your shoulders; if no, celebrate the people who are having a good start, your better days are ahead. Lately I’ve been watching a few channels of people who are getting out of debt and I find it so inspiring. While I’m not in debt (Thank God), I feel so much joy watching other people get financial freedom. However the one common thread I have noticed is that people don’t always get into debt cause they were “irresponsible with their money” contrary to what I believed. I have found that it often starts with an inevitable expense such as school, a medical bill or a lifestyle that you could once afford but no longer can; that snowballs with interest into an intimidating number that gives you anxiety.
I am always concerned about the stunning lack of financial education that I have received. I feel like I’m always a foul step away from doing lasting damage to my finances! It’s such a frustrating feeling because it seems like everything is mapped out till graduation but somebody forgot to mention the financial implications of that process or the life you will be embarking on. Yes you are earning a decent salary and that’s dandy but what next? Also don’t get me started on how taboo it is to talk about! You can’t ask someone in your field openly about how much they earn. We would rather go to Glassdoor -which is a great resource- to get the very same answer. We don’t speak openly about how people got into debt or even just the fact that you may be broke even though you’re working at a “really great job”. We live on credit so we can have a credit score and then proceed to die a slow death on credit because collections calls you religiously every week demanding a price much larger than what you actually spent.
I think talking about money is the next coming of age talk that everyone needs to have. We rightfully made such a big fuss about having the sex talk with pre-teens and adolescents so that they make informed decisions about their bodies and are aware of the changes ahead of them. We really need another “talk” for young adults. We need to demystify finances and speak more openly about our relationship with money and our mistakes. The system is certainly not built to support open communication on financial management but if we all share our lessons then maybe fewer people will feel so alone with the consequences of their financial decisions.
So here are some of my financial questions and if you have answers I’d love to hear them
- Why do we file taxes and why do we get money back when we do?
- Where can I check my credit score?
- Does checking your credit score really hurt your credit score? (This seems counter intuitive but I’ve heard it)
- When should you start investing?
- Who should you talk to about investing?
- What can you invest in?
- Has anyone tried WealthSimple? Is it really intuitive? Is it truly “simple” to understand?
- What’s the best kind of credit card?
- What interest rate is reasonable for a savings account?
- How much do you need to save to own a home?
- Can you buy a home without a mortgage? If no, what’s the best kind of mortgage? [Best for me in this case would be defined as something that I’m not stuck paying for the rest of my life.]
- How do other people manage a budget? I’ve tried Excel but it just felt like a lot of work to maintain.
- When/how do you start saving for retirement?
- Do I need to set up a pension account?
- How do I separate what I’m saving for? Once my emergency fund is set up, what next?
Some helpful resources I’ve found online are
- The financial diet: They share helpful tips on managing money and are a great launching pad to start having some slightly more informed discussions on money
- Aja Dang: She is working to pay off her debt right now and is sharing her journey in detail. She also has a budget template available
- Levo League: This is more career related than directly financial however there are some interesting articles that could help bridge the gap.
I’d love to hear for you. What money questions do you have? Also, if you have answers to anything I asked above please help your girl out 🙂
First of all I want to say I’m incredibly proud of myself for delivering a post every week for the last 4 weeks!! It’s the little milestones that keep you going you know. Without getting too long winded with this but it’s incredibly helpful for your psyche to celebrate yourself. It helps keep you going! So now to my other goals that I have shared with you over the last two weeks let’s see how I’ve done shall we?
- Wake up at 7am: I did relatively well on this in the first week. I woke up at 7am everyday but 1 in the first week I made this goal. This habit gave me a more relaxed start to my day and I was a lot less anxious in general. I felt more productive and happier having successfully woken up when I planned to. In the second week I relapsed into my regular sleeping habits for a little while because old habits really do die hard. I noticed though that my body would stir at 7am and I was making a choice to sleep past it. I’m back on the 7am kick and while it’s not incredibly pleasant rolling out of bed, I’m always happier for it.
- Sign up for driving lessons: I didn’t quite follow through with this goal but I made some moves in this direction. I contacted my driving instructor to confirm the process of re-enrolling for driving classes and as I type I have the G2 site open to book my road test. I don’t know why I’m so nervous about booking this because the worst possible thing that could happen is that I fail the test and honestly I wouldn’t be the first or last so I really should just bite the bullet and do it. I’ll keep you posted on this one when I finally work the nerve to book it
- Take my braids down: I did this!! Let my curly curls down. I mean I’m thinking of my next protective style but the braids came out anyway.
- Take a few minutes at the end of everyday to document moments that I’m thankful for: I really didn’t do this a whole lot unfortunately. I would like to carry this forward because I think its really important to be mindful of the good things that happen in your life
- Downsize my closet: I offloaded some items from my closet but I’m sure I could lighten up a little more. I will keep taking the opportunity to refine and pick out things from my wardrobe
- Do some career research: I am yet to dive deep into this but I have my to-do list prepared to tackle this goal
So in a nut shell I made progress on a good chunk of my goals but there’s room to do more :). Let me know in the comments any goals you’d like to work on this month.