Tuesday, September 26, 2017

model family

i am hesitant to share with you how awesome and supportive my family is.  i know some of you have longed for familial support.  or even just fondness.  so, trigger warning for the lovey-dovey family stuff that follows, with my apologies.  (also, rest assured, we have more challenging qualities, too, but those are for another day.)

my favorite niece (haha, actually my only, so far) came up from virginia with her family a few weekends ago and we all just sat around, enjoying each other's company and laughing our heads off.  like, until soymilk spilled from our noses.  we ate delicious food — pretty much all day long, told travel stories, snuggled, and celebrated a birthday or two, while keeping my recuperating dad company and intermittently watching old-timey tv shows (gunsmoke, the rifleman) with him.

i brought a handful of my products with me just in case I found some modeling volunteers.  and, boy, did i!!  here are just a few of the family members who stepped in to help me:

family hat models, quilt model, and blossom clip models one recent weekend.

lest you think we're just a family of hams, let me tell you, yes, okay, there are obviously a couple of those.  but we have just as many super shy ones and also a couple couldn't-be-bothereds, too.  a regular mix of personalities.  yet everyone helped.

the help isn't just in modeling, either.  there's product development advice (what about tiny blossom clips for little girls?  uh, yes!) and packaging suggestions (don't let the back of the display card get too busy; wait, that needs to be wrapped in plastic).  and when dad exclaims "$39.99 just for THAT?!?" they immediately chime in with "each one is made by hand, dad!" and "leather accessories aren't cheap!" to defend you — and to counter the "back in MY day, leather flowers were a penny" reminiscences.  all unprompted.

my family also tested new products for me.  (i had serious trouble getting the below hat, with an african-printed hatband i made, back from one "tester."  she claimed her head was suddenly "cold.") and the "autumn leaf" modeled below seems to have disappeared right after this sweet photo was taken...

autumn leaf clip model mom
hat testing/stealing sister

in the classes i took at columbia business school, we were warned on day one that our friends and family aren't "real" customers — they will lie to you to make you feel better — and aren't at all representative of the people on the street. 

thank god for that.

Friday, September 15, 2017


while dancing with my comrades a couple weekends ago at a music festival celebrating black culture and punk/alternative music (the aptly named afropunk fest), we took a moment to stop by the booth the met museum had set up.  i confess i wasn't sure their participation was a good fit.  turns out it was pretty spectacular: prints of works in their collection for making collages and turning into buttons; metal supplies for making jewelry (the majority of which ended up as crowns and tiaras); and printed papers and sewing supplies for paper jewelry.  they also had prints of interesting jewelry from their collection on display for inspiration.  the best thing they contributed to the spirit of the event, though, was an unassuming chalkboard on which were written two simple questions; "how can art make a difference?" and "why does art matter?"  that, plus a bucket of chalk, was all the people needed.

kim at afropunk brooklyn
these are some of the responses that festival participants wrote, in no particular order:

Art puts words to the unspoken
Art is honest
Art makes us feel more ALIVE
It allows me to be free!
Art creates love
Art allows us to ask questions that can change the world!!
It is how I am heard
It opens the mind to different consciousness
Art is the key to expressing the soul. --PD
"It is an artist's job to reflect the times" -- Nina Simone
Art provides purpose
Because it lets me be the best & worst part of myself while healing
It makes us whole!
Because when we make art there's no war!
Speaking truth!
Art is a universal language
THROUGH ACTIVISM (think music -> sam cooke OR gordon parks)
Connects us to 1 another*
We all we got. But we're all we need
Art brings light to darkness
It can make the world more GAY!
Art is all we are

if you read my post after charlottesville, you know these questions have been on my mind.  the most comforting thing about the collective answer, for me right now, is that it doesn't speak only to "protest" art.  all art heals.  and maybe art where black folks express our joy, even more so.  ❤


*my own modest entry.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


[i hesitated to post this after the charlottesville protest violence. not sure why.  maybe I thought answers might come to me...]

A poet on the subway handed me a slip of paper once.  It read "if you breathe, I am your comrade."  It stuck with me (even literally, since I taped it next to my front door).  What could it be like to claim solidarity with every breathing human (and non human, for that matter)?  It felt instinctively and beautifully true.  I want to live in that world. To help bring it about, even.

Of course, this is not an easy comradeship.  Sometimes your comrades wave nazi flags and beat up people who look like you.  And sometimes they rally behind symbols of oppression and mow down a lovely woman who believes in equality enough to fight for it on a regular basis.  What then?

I was sitting at a farmers market in harlem selling handmade crafts while these very things were taking place in charlottesville, just yesterday.  Chatting with shoppers, getting to know the other vendors, tweaking my display, eating excellent food (amusebouche.com), taking photos. 
I felt sick when I came home and saw the news. Not entirely because of what had happened -- some of these things happen rather regularly, it's sad to say -- but because I felt guilty for having wasted my day with arts and crafts instead of finding a way to fight.  Fighting intolerance and evil is absolutely necessary.  But what exactly do we fight with?

If I really am their comrade, do I fight them with love?  protests?  fists?  What about beautiful handmade items?  Can you fight nazis with beauty?  Can a printed t-shirt of a lady with an afro help to fight white supremacy?

Of course, fighting must go beyond symbolism.  We must all learn about each other.  How did we get here?  And we must be open to the truths we learn about our comrades.  And, maybe more importantly, the truths we each learn about ourselves. ❤