Life / Profiles

HILARY RUSHFORD // NYC PROFILE

10.19.17

Hilary Rushford // Photos c/o Kat Harris, The Refined Woman // Written by Kitty Williams for The Refined Woman 

“I am a teacher and a ‘psychologist,’ though I have degrees in neither [field],” says Hilary Rushford, referring to her work as a stylist and business coach.

Guiding others on how to feel at peace in their wardrobes and grow their business was not her original plan.

Rushford was a performer, including with the Radio City Rockettes, before she decided to take a hiatus from auditioning. “I thought I was just starting a side job to replace all of the side jobs I hated,” she says of her start as a stylist. She began by teaching one-on-one but knew that what she was sharing would help many other women as well, so she started teaching online courses.

When she was three years into her business, one of her Instagram courses went viral. Keeping up with the growth took a toll on her wellbeing. “When you’re so deep into something, it’s hard to see all of the other effects of it,” says Rushford, reflecting on how this stress led to a total burnout.

She hit rock bottom but recognized what she needed to do: rest. For Rushford, this rest began with a plane ticket to Europe.

“I got on the plane thinking I was going for six weeks,” says Rushford. However, three weeks in she found herself reflecting on the trip. “I didn’t know what I was trying to accomplish, but I knew I wasn’t fifty percent of the way there so I just didn’t get back on the plane,” she says. She had been traveling, but exploring and experiencing new things left little time for rest and personal growth.

“Traveling itself is doing, and if you really want introspective time to heal and grow and learn… that’s different than traveling,” Rushford emphasizes. Her final weeks on sabbatical were spent focusing on healing, growing, and learning in the South of France.

“I ended up traveling for four months until I felt ready to come home and then I bought a ticket,” she says. Rushford recognizes that quick fixes are highly sought after, but they never give the results you need.

She is grateful for the burnout she experienced because it made her realize that adjustments needed to be made in her life. She returned to her dear Brooklyn feeling refreshed.

Having lived in Brooklyn for over a decade, Rushford has a sincere appreciation for this city. “New York has a bustling creative energy. It brings people that have big dreams and deep passion,” she says. “You move here because you want something extraordinary.”

Rushford herself has big dreams and deep passion. A defining New York moment for her was when she was talking on the phone with her mother after a final round of callbacks for Thoroughly Modern Milly on Broadway. She remembers thinking, “Even if I don’t get this role, I’m in the game. In the hardest business, in the hardest city, I’m in the mix.”

She also has sincere relationships with those in this city. “I know the names of my local flower guy and the guy who makes me avocado toast every morning at the café,” Rushford says with a smile.

On a more personal level, she treasures her relationships with her friends. She has a supportive community around her and knows that those friendships are something to prioritize. “I want to be the kind of friend who, if you got into a massive row with your boyfriend at midnight, you wouldn’t think, ‘she’s probably busy, I shouldn’t bother her’,” says Rushford.

There’s something electric she finds in the women drawn to New York. “The thing I appreciate most about them, whether they’re 23 or 51 is their incredible wisdom, earnest vulnerability, and ridiculous shenanigans that make me laugh,” Rushford says as a laugh escapes.

Another priority of hers is empowering women. “I really believe when a woman feels beautiful, she’s so much more powerful,” she says, “whether that’s in how she talks to her daughter or how she walks into a boardroom.”

Rushford was a powerful force even as a high school student. She remembers showing great leadership skills as an active member in the theater department. “It was an SNL cast of horrible theater teachers, yet that gave me a lot of opportunity to be a leader,” she reflects.

She continues to lead as her team grows. Rushford is now writing a book, is already thinking about the next book she will write, and is planning on creating a docu-series. Spending time traveling with loved ones and seeing loved ones is also on her agenda. “One of the reasons I started this business was I wanted to travel more,” says Rushford. “Whether that’s with my passport or to play Aunt Hil.”

As a dancer, she was always tied to the city in case she got an audition. Now, she is a thriving entrepreneur who has the freedom to travel, and who will still remember to stop for a dance break every once in a while on Instagram.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Style

AnthroNYC + TRW Recap

10.17.17

Photos c/o Sylvie the Camera

Last week, I got to live one of my dreams:   creating space for women to gather, build community, and have meaningful connections.

It started a few months ago when Anthropologie invited me to host their Manhattan Fall Fashion Presentation.

When they reached out I couldn’t believe it.  The middle schooler in me who always dreamed of walking a runway was freaking out!

As we dove into the details I wondered if it could be about more than just fashion.  Could we find a way to create space for women to connect in a deeper way?

We started to dream up ways to transform a fashion show into a multi-faceted interactive experience.

My vision was a runway filled with  diverse women of different sizes, ethnicities, backgrounds, and careers.  I wanted women who were living purposeful lives.  Anthro said yes.

Then I asked if I could perform a spoken word before the show about what it meant to be a woman.  Confession:  I had never done this before.  They said yes

(Sometimes you have to commit to something to give yourself that push to get out of your comfort zone.)

Finally, I asked if I could host a panel with some of the women walking the runway to open up a dialogue on body positivity, and the importance of building meaningful relationships in our fast-paced city.  Again they said yes.

I don’t know why they kept telling me yes.  But I was so glad they did; it was an honor.

This was the first event of its kind for Anthropologie–and for me too!  Our hope was to have 100 attendees.  About an hour before the event started we had to close registration — we had nearly 200 guests!

As men and women started filing through the doors I stood anxiously backstage with the 16 women who were about to walk the runway.  The group included some of my best friends.  It also included women I’d looked up to for ages, who are filled with vision and purpose.  Getting to know them in the weeks leading up to the event affirmed what I admired in each of them.  I was overwhelmed with emotion at the tribe of women who came together to make my vision a reality.

Right before I walked on stage to perform the spoken word my friend so brilliantly wrote, I was a ball of nerves, my palms were clammy and sweaty.  My heart was racing.

Now that everyone was there I didn’t know if I actually had what it took to pull this off.  I saw the double doors behind the audience.  Running through them without looking back was tempting.  I could feel my fears and insecurities rising.  I had a choice to make.  I could run away, or lean into the nerves  and discomfort, and rise above it.

I really did pause to think about this.  My friend must’ve sensed my energy because she squeezed my arm and whispered to me:

You are a leader.

Look at the women you brought together.

You created this.

I looked her in the eye, half smiled, half nodded,  took a deep breath, and walked out to that stage backed by a crowd of women who were cheering me on.   And I leaned into it.

That moment sums up perfectly why I do what I do.  We need people around us to remind us of what’s true, to lift us up when we’re full of doubt, and spur us on towards greatness.  In my moment of doubt I was surrounded by the support of my tribe.  I need to be reminded of this just as much as the next person.

The night went on, and then I blinked and it was over.  It was a night of connection, laughter—even tears.  I saw old friends reconnecting.  Strangers exchanging numbers.  People lingering and not wanting to leave.  It truly was a dream come true.

Friends, thank you for support this vision.

Thank you for challenging me to live my message.

Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for coming out to our events.

It feels like this is just the beginning.

XO,

Kat

This event was made possible by the amazing support of Anthropologie + our dedicated sponsors.  Thank you:

Anthropologie

East Olivia

Minted

Chillhouse

Winc Wines

Eva Hair NYC

Juice Beauty

Maman NYC

Darling Magazine

Danielle Bennet

Woops Bakery

Smilebooth

Sylvie the Camera

Carter Fish

And to the Tribe of Powerful Women who walked with me:

Hilary Rushford

Krystal Bick

Simply Cyn

Maddie Greer

Janelle Lloyd

Brynn Watkins

Louisa Wells

Rana

Denka

Sephora Rose

Lauren Legato

Jess Sims

Tutti del Monte

Samantha Davis

Erica Chen

 

Life / The Refined Collective

The Refined Collective // Layers

10.10.17

Photo c/o Emily Scott

Woman. Daughter.  Sister.  Friend.  Christian.  Editor.  Speaker. Single. Photographer.  Writer.  Speaker.  Entrepreneur.

This tells you what I am, but it doesn’t tell you who I am.  There’s a big difference between what I am and who I am.   ‘What’ is one dimensional.

Who we are is multi-faceted—full of endless layers.

 

When we meet people it’s easy to ask, ‘what do you do?’  It’s drilled into our culture.  Society screams, You matter because of what you are and what you do.  Each time we ask it, we affirm that what we do is actually who we are.

If that’s case, we live in a flat and boring world.

Lately I have been tired — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  And I haven’t been able to figure out why, because I prioritize rest and self-care.  But even after a day off, my wick seems shorter.

Recently I was at a retreat focused on rest.  I was tired, but I went anyway, praying God would have something for me in it.  And He did.

One of the first things we journaled about was ‘our work beneath the work.’  We have the work we do and the roles we fulfill on a daily basis.  We put in the hours, climb the corporate and social ladders.  This alone is taxing.

But layered beneath this is another type work.  It’s the thing churning from deep within that really drives us.

What are you looking for work to fulfill:

  • Your identity?
  • Your worth?
  • Your value?

Who are you trying to prove yourself to:

  • Your dad?
  • A coach?
  • An ex?

I have slipped into all of the above at different points in my life.  During the retreat God revealed that my exhaustion isn’t coming from lack of rest from my work—it’s a lack of rest from the churning work beneath the work.

I struggle with looking to the things I do to fulfill and validate me.  And often, I live like I’m the captain of my ship—responsible for my future and all that is around me. When I slip into that mindset, exhaustion is not far behind.

The reality is, if my future is completely up to me, and if I only matter because of the roles I carry and the things I accomplish— that is cause for distress.

It is a hamster wheel that will never stop. A ladder with no final rung.  We’ll always be looking for more.

Augustine profoundly wrote, “our souls are restless until they find rest in [God].”   As important as it is to prioritize physical rest, if we don’t address what drives us at a deeper level, we may never find true rest.

Are you tired? Beneath the titles, the roles, the work—who are you and what drives you?

What would it feel like if you released the work beneath your work?

We are more than what we do.  Let’s start living that way.

 

XO,

Kat

This series is a part of The Refined Collective.  Be sure +  check out these lovely ladies + their thoughts on Layers:  Brynn Watkins, Jackie Viramontez, Rebecca Hajek, Jessica HoffmanJulien Garman, and Yvette Jain.   Outfit via:  Vetta Capsule, Freda Salvador, Vele, + AYR.

SaveSave

Life / News

Relationships and Grief | Jené Barranco

10.05.17

Photos c/o Mia Barranco.

Jené is an avid collector of good books, movie quotes, glass bottles and vintage pitchers. She is also a dancer and a choreographer, and raised her children on a farm in the Loire River Valley in France for seven weeks, in a home full of creative spirits with musical ability. In her breakout book, Good Night, I Love You, she writes about her husband’s sudden and unexpected death, and her journey through overwhelming grief. On her blog, Eyes Str8 Ahead, Jene hopes to inspire others to examine their lives and search for their God-given purpose and pursue it with their whole heart.

Good night, I love you  — a simple phrase, one most of us say every day of our lives.

We say it to our parents at bedtime as a child.
We say it to someone we love as we roll over and fall asleep.
We even say it on the phone while separated from the one we love.

The words easily, and mindlessly, pass through our lips.  We never consider they may be the last words we speak to the person who holds our heart.

On February 22, 2011, I heard my husband speak these tender words for the very last time — the same words he uttered every single night for 25 years.

In 1986, we met and fell in love.  We married exactly one year after the date we met.   Twenty-four years and three children later, I lost the love of my life.  Our life as we knew it was wiped out, as if by a tsunami, in one devastating instant.  While on an overnight business trip, only to be away for twenty-four hours, he died in a car crash… less than an hour after speaking those five simple words.

I felt numb in the following months.  So what now?  Where do I go from here?  How do I begin?  Am I even breathing?

My body went into autopilot. My mornings, days, and nights ran together into one long string of survival.

I realized the Proverb I had clung to as my daily mantra for the previous 20 years had been deeply rooted in my soul for such a time as this:

Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.  Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.  Proverbs 4:25-26

I had no idea how crucial this verse would become for my survival through life’s most difficult times.   My daily self talk became: Just do the next thing Jené, keep your eyes straight ahead, take it slowly, intentionally step forward.

Life must and did go on.

I kept breathing.  I faced my grief head on, wanting to learn all I could from it.  Grief is a long journey down a road of utter darkness and pain with an unknown distance to travel before the sun rises again.

But I kept taking the next step, and the next, with an unaware boldness.

Grief recently entered my world again. Not directly, but no matter how indirectly or directly it strikes our world, once it has come to our own doorstep, the compassion for others quickly rises when we learn someone else has just opened their door to find inescapable death and grief waiting for them.

A close friend called to tell me her best friend’s son had just died.  He was a newlywed.  In an instant, a young bride lost her husband in a car accident. No warning.  No preparation.  These things we cannot explain away.  They happen.  Married for only 2 months, they had yet to even receive their wedding photos from the photographer.

My thoughts are with this bride.  If I could look into her eyes, what would I say?  What words could I offer her to help move forward from a tragic loss of love?  What are the most basic things I could say to help her heal while journeying through the dark valley that lay ahead of her?

I remember going to see my internist a couple of months after my husband died.  My heart rate and blood pressure were all over the place.  My sleep was nonexistent.

He offered basic advice. “Cry.  When you feel the urge arise, cry.  Don’t push it down.  Let it out.  Now, you can’t emote everywhere you go-there will be times when you need to hold it together.  But when you can, where you can, go ahead and cry.”

I walked away from that appointment feeling empowered.  I was told what to do.  I love bullet point lists.  I’m a “just give me the facts bottom line” kind of person.  My mind made a mental check, “Cry. It’s good for me.”

If I could talk to this young widow, I would give her my bullet points…

  • Cry, or you may drown.
  • Don’t apologize for your tears.
  • Lay down stoicism.
  • Get out of bed each day.
  • Journal – it’s the only way I survived.
  • Make time for solitude.
  • Do the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing.
  • Take the healing process seriously, because it is serious.
  • Run towards God, not away.
  • Choose wisely whom you allow in your inner circle – the ones who will feel comfortable with your silence, your vulnerability, and your pain.
  • Take deep breaths.  Frequently.
  • Talk about him.
  • Take care of your grief – don’t put a Band-Aid on it.  Treat the wound.
  • Practice soul care.
  • Don’t put grief in a closet or sweep it under a rug to make your life look clean.
  • Don’t go back to business as usual too soon.
  • Change up your routine.
  • Occasionally do hard things.  They may seem impossible in the moment but are essential to heal and move forward.

Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you-one step at a time. The sun will rise again.

XO,

Jené

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Life / Real Talk

Fear Has as Much Power as We Choose to Give It…

10.03.17

Photos c/o Emily Scott

I have crafted a convincing narrative for myself over the years:

I am not Christian enough for the Christian world

I am too Christian for the real world

I have clung to this story for dear life.  And every time I have a negative interaction with another Christian, or get an email about how doing yoga is wrong, or feel lonely and lost in a sea of people at church, it serves as further proof and ammunition to my story.

When I am around strangers, friends, or loved ones, and feel I might be misunderstood because of something I believe in, my narrative is justified further.  Quietly but firmly it whispers, you don’t belong in either place.

What does this mean for me?  It means I stay right where I am—maybe I’m not moving backward, but I’m definitely not moving forward.

The narratives we create for our lives are convincing.  But they only have as much power as we choose to give them.

 

The narratives we create for our lives are convincing.  But they only have as much power as we choose to give them.

I’ve realized that these narratives keep me in a victim mentality.  I allow them to prevent me from doing things I feel called to do or from saying things I want to say.  And I feel sorry for myself because no one understands me.   I tell myself, I’m all alone, and whatever I put out there is going to upset or offend someone so I just won’t put it out there.

It’s like I’m sitting in mud complaining about being dirty and cold, yet I keep sitting there making smelly mud castles.

At some point I’m going to have to get up out of the dirt.

Here’s what’s true about negative narratives, victim conversations, and limiting beliefs—they have as much power as we give them.  Most often they are lies, and we have the opportunity to reject the lie, replace it with truth and address what the fear is really about.

Digging deeper, I realized my narratives aren’t about “not being Christian enough” or being “too Christian.”  They’re about me wanting to be accepted and loved by others.  They’re an excuse that I hide behind.

As long as I have an excuse I don’t have to put myself out there.  I’m on the sideline of the game, jealous of all the players. But at least I’m not running the risk of failing, falling, or getting hurt.

There’s a price I pay for buying into this narrative:  I’m not doing and creating the things I feel like I’m supposed to be doing with my life.  And that is exhausting and frustrating.

However, there’s also a reward: if I never try, I never have to be open to failure or rejection.  I may not be walking out fully in my dreams, but I’m comfortable and know what to expect as long as I stay in this place.

Our behaviors don’t change until the price we pay outweighs the reward of being safe.

 

Our behaviors don’t change until the price we pay outweighs the reward of being safe.  This is why people talk their whole lives about doing something like writing a book, or traveling around the world, but never actually do it.

few weeks ago while visiting family in Ireland I took a walk through a field and hashed it out with God. And I felt God tenderly yet firmly impress upon me how long are you going to let your fears hold you back?  You have to surrender this dialogue, trust me, and be ok with who I created you to be and the path I have you on. 

God was right—it struck so true that I laughed out loud and did cartwheels in the field.

Here’s my confession:  there’s so much I want to do with The Refined Woman.  I want to use this space to create a curriculum, online courses, workshops, retreats, and a meaningful community.  And it’s probably going to happen more slowly than I want it to.  However, I have let my fear and insecurities keep me from writing things I want to write, from creating the experiences I want to create.

I’m tired of letting fear win. Because my narratives aren’t true, and fear is foolish.

Here’s what true:

I’ve been afraid of people finding out that I am a Christian.  That I don’t just love God — I follow Jesus.

And I’ve been conflicted about it for many reasons.  I’ve feared being misunderstood, judged, and rejected. I’ve worried that my perspective will be written off because my beliefs makes me irrelevant.

Historically Christians have handled things poorly, and in many instances they’ve done things that are flat out wrong such as misogyny, racism, and bigotry.  There has been deep damage done in the name of Christianity, and I don’t want to be associated with it.

It’s also true that I have blown it, acted ignorantly, said things I regret, made mistakes and been a poor representation of what it means to follow Jesus.

Being honest about this means I get to hold space for the messy, hard, and grey.  It’s much easier when everything is black and white—but maybe life is about more than being comfortable.

I don’t want fear of being misunderstood or rejected be the reason I don’t move forward in my life.  The reality is that no matter what we say or do there’s going to be someone who agrees with it and someone who doesn’t.

Fear has power as long as we say it does.

 

What would happen in your life if you addressed the thoughts of fear, insecurities, doubt that plague you?  What if you rejected them, replaced them with truth, and started moving forward with your life?  I have a feeling we could create powerful things together.

And for the record, all are welcome at The Refined Woman.  If you believe in Jesus, come.  If you don’t, come.  You are welcome here.  You belong here.  You are loved. You have support and community here.

Love always,

Katherine

PS.  If you haven’t checked out my Moving Through Fear PDF–please do!  It’s a free downloadable tool with practical steps on letting go of fear, and stepping into freedom and wholeness!

Life / Profiles

LAUREN LEGATO // NYC PROFILE

09.28.17

 

Lauren Legato // Photos c/o Kat Harris, The Refined Woman // Written by Kitty Williams for The Refined Woman

As the sun sets outside of a Williamsburg bakery, Lauren Legato sits down at a table, a synthesizer sitting in her bag next to her, and shares her heart. No stranger to this, Legato shares her heart often and in many forms.

Legato has a YouTube channel focused on beauty in which she shares makeup and style tips, but also discusses her life and faith. “I struggled to connect with girls growing up because I was surrounded by [my] brothers,” she says. This inspired her to connect with women through her channel.

On a separate YouTube channel, she shares her voice through song, singing covers as well as her own songs. Legato has videos of recent songs as well as videos that date back to 2012. “I look back now, and it’s inspiring because I can see in my eyes everything I was experiencing and why I was singing those songs,” she says.

Her music channel went through a hiatus during a particularly difficult season in her life: a breakup. During that time, Legato remembers sitting in Dumbo, Brooklyn for hours, watching the sun setting and the colors in the sky changing. “Something inside of me was turning at the same time,” she says, reflecting on this powerful moment in her life. “I remember all of my confusion and depression turning into hope.” From there she knew she wanted to share her music with the world.

Growing up with parents who are both pastors, she was taught to love herself and protect her heart, but she went through a massive rebellious phase that lasted her entire adolescence.

“I have a journal entry [that says] ‘I’ll deal with all of the pain I’m causing myself when I reach my twenties’,” says Legato. “That’s exactly what I did.”

 

Unhealthy relationship patterns threatened her physical, emotional, and mental health. She recalls her safety being threatened by someone she was dating.

“I remember collapsing to my bathroom floor praying to God that He would just change me,” she says. The rebellion ended, and she started on the road to healing.

Legato’s relationship with God evolved over those years. “I abused the freedom to choose what my relationship with God would be. I took his redeeming grace for granted.” says Legato. “I’ll never be perfect, but now I’m learning God’s sustaining grace.”

 

She is now in a happy and healthy relationship, but recognizes that her joy and self-love isn’t dependent on it. “I am able to love myself enough to be loved by someone else,” she says.

Another self-love journey has been with her body. “Where I’m headed now is to go to the gym, not because I hate my body and I want to change it, but because I love my body, and I want to take care of it,” says Legato.

Sharing these journeys with her followers through her YouTube channels has been transformative. “I’ve let them into my life and as a result they’ve let me into theirs,” she says.

She would go through all of the pain and struggles again because she knows it happened for a reason. “Accept your experiences for what they are, but become a better person because of them,” she says.

“I’m excited to bring authenticity and truth into people’s lives,” says Legato. “In the next year I want to release my first body of music,” she says, excited to share her story through music.

It grows darker as the sun on the other side of the café window is slowly setting, but Legato’s face lights up speaking about her future and her present. The sun may be setting, but this star is rising.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Boss Ladies / Life

Boss Ladies | Molly Hayward

09.21.17

Photo C/O: Tasha Van Zandt

Molly Hayward is the visionary female founder of Cora, a brand that gives women a modern method for managing their periods. With body-conscious organic tampons and sustainable menstrual products given to girls in developing countries for every monthly supply sold, Cora is transforming the experience of womanhood on a global scale. While living in Mill Valley, California with her boyfriend, Liam and her dog Stella, Molly has become the first entrepreneur to establish a modern, pro-social brand, presenting the issues of healthier products and women’s global social justice to the mainstream female consumer.

Growing up I really wanted to be​
Someone who helped those in need. I was always campaigning my childhood classmates to collect money for UNICEF and raise awareness about issues, like girls not being allowed to attend school in places around the world.

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Soy latte. Bonus points for fair trade, ethical coffee.

I don’t know how I ever lived without
A home near the ocean.

One thing people don’t know about me is
I live at the top of a mountain.

How I got started with my current career
I traveled as a volunteer in Kenya and learned girls there often stayed home during their periods. I immediately knew I wanted to create a brand that could represent the smart, modern, sophisticated woman while helping provide products to girls in need around the world.

What I love about my work is
Having the opportunity to make a real, tangible difference. I’m passionate about innovating in the field of women’s health and I’m passionate about keeping girls in school during their periods. Creating and growing Cora has allowed me to do both, and I’m especially proud of the number of girls we’ve already helped. In 2016, Cora provided 250,000 biodegradable pads to girls in need; in 2017, we’ll provide more than one million.

My real life hero is
The girls in India and Kenya that Cora provides pads to. They overcome tremendous obstacles just to go to school each day.​

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
Try to do everything myself.

My typical day looks like
I have no typical day! Each one is completely different, but usually some mix of wake up, run, shower, head to the office, check emails, have meetings, feel so much gratitude for my amazing teammates. The only constant is my morning coffee!

I used to think success meant
Getting to retire early.

My current definition of success is
Getting to advocate for women’s rights globally for the rest of my life.

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I have trouble finding things to be grateful for.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I’m proud to have collaborated with designer Katarina Hornwall​ to bring our new Freedom Necklace to market. It was created as a symbol of the pro-period movement, representing the idea that our periods are not something we need to hide or be ashamed of, because every woman on the planet menstruates. The necklace holds a single applicator-free tampon. And for every necklace purchased, Cora will give a year’s worth of menstrual pads to a girl in Kenya through ​our giving partner, ZanaAfrica, so she can stay in school during her period.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Trust that life will take you exactly where you need to be in every moment.

The legacy I hope to leave is
A world where no woman or girl is disempowered by her period, or any other aspect of being female.

XO,

Molly

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Style

Outfit | A(nother) Ode to Levi’s

09.19.17

I love a good pair of Levi’s. Light-wash, broken-in, button-fly, booty-huggin Levi’s. There’s a reason they haven’t really changed for 50 years. They go with everything in your closet and they get better with age.

If you’re not into thrifting like I am, there are still plenty of ways to find a good pair. You just need a measuring tape and a few good online shops. I’m going to give you a quick education to finding your perfect fit.

Step 1 : Find a pair of pants that fits you snugly and that sits at a higher rise on you, somewhere around your belly button. Lay them flat and measure from the crotch to the top hem. That is the “rise”.

Step 2 : Laying the pants flat, measure the waist. In vintage jeans the size on the back tag does not usually correspond to your modern size you are used to wearing, because this denim was bought raw and shrunk to fit. So the tag size will usually read 1-2 sizes larger than your modern size.

Step 3 : Measure your pants from pocket to pocket, to get your hip size.  Lastly, measure the inseam from the crotch to the bottom hem. It helps to do this on a pair of pants that is cropped a few inches above your ankle.

Step 4 : Find a vintage shop online that gives you the waist, rise, hips and inseam measurements. Note also that for these jeans, they will stretch a bit to fit you after a few wears, so you want to size a little bit down so that they don’t bag out after time.

Here are a few of my favorites online shops for Levi’s. (I know there must be so many more! Please leave me some comments below if you have a favorite I missed. )

Shop Future

Rawson

Fair Season Vintage

Courtyard LA

My top is by Miranda Bennett Studio, Mules c/o Freda Salvador + Hat (borrowed from Taylor) by Janessa Leone / Photo Location Le Marais Bakery in San Francisco

Happy Levi’s Hunting ladies!

xo,

Em

Life / News

Deirdre King | Integrity in Consumerism

09.14.17

Deirdre King

Photos c/o Brittany Barb for Indego Africa

Deirdre King is Indego Africa’s long-time creative director where she does all product design, manages brand partnerships and oversees branding, creative and sales. She lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband and two toddlers, Iris and Albie.

As a little girl my grandmother taught me how to embroider. I have very fond memories of spending time with her each summer at her home and learning new stitches and picking out little sampler kits to try. We would sit down on her couch and she would pull out her sewing baskets with piles of linens, napkins, half-finished projects, needles, thread, and pin cushions and we would carefully go through them to pick my newest project.

My favorites were floral cross stitch designs, and I would proudly decorate my room with my finished projects – white dresser linens and pillow cases with light pink flowers and bright green leaves and vintage textiles with churches and figures for the days of the week.

My sisters and I each received special handmade gifts from her at our birth – patchwork quilts, framed needlepoints, handknit blankets and cross-stitch embroideries. When we were born, it was important to my grandmother to be able to handcraft us a gift as opposed to buying something mass-produced. For her, that gift would carry meaning and love through each stitch she made.

When we got older and she began teaching us how to sew, she wasn’t just giving us a new craft to keep us busy, she was passing something that she loved on to a new generation, and helping us learn how to create something beautiful with our own two hands.

While I always cherished those lessons, it wasn’t until I was much older that I could really appreciate the detail and dedication to craft that my grandmother instilled in me.

The full significance and beauty of handmade craft – and the integrity within it – really came to light when I started working at Indego Africa in 2010 and began to explore the world of artisan made products. This same dedication to craft and technical detail that the women of Rwanda and Ghana that we work with – and artisans throughout the world for that matter – bring to their handmade work is mind blowing.

These artisanal crafts – basket weaving, embroidery, bead work, handknitting – are passed on from generation to generation as income-generating tools and treated as family heirlooms themselves.

I’ve sat down with these women and watched them start a plateau basket (our best-sellers which are sold around the world) and have been blown away by what goes into just finishing the first spiral of the bowl. Some baskets take up to 120 hours to make! It can be overwhelming to feel the weight of that skill and effort in your hands. It is important to these artisans to share their work and to show others what goes into their trade.

Now, as I design products for Indego Africa – and as I think about what I want to teach my children about hard work, personal integrity, and empowerment – I often think about how proud I was of the embroidery I did, and why it was important to my grandmother to show me why she loved the craft so much.

I see this pride evidenced in the products our artisans partners make too. I hope I always appreciating the craft and hard work of others, and I hope my children do as well.

As a shopper, I am now very cognizant of what the items I am buying represent. Who made them, how were they produced, what is the story behind the creation?

Things I never thought of before – how the inlay on a table was carved and with what tool, where the wool in a sweater was spun and what was used to dye it, what sort of plant did the fiber inside the weaving of a bag come from and who realized it would look like that when harvested in a certain way (this last point particularly blows my mind).

These are questions I can answer for Indego’s products and for many of the ethical companies I support, but not for the majority of the items we see day to day in the stores we frequent. We should care about these things as consumers and look for more information.

News / The Refined Collective

The Refined Collective // Movement

09.12.17
Photos c/o Sara Kerens // This post is a part of our monthly Refined Collective Series.  Be sure and check out the other ladies involved in this months conversation:  Lauren Scruggs, Brynn Watkins, Jackie Viramontez, and other ladies on our instagram!

Lately, I’ve noticed how many lies and fears I accept as truth.  Through conversations with loved ones, I’ve seen that they do it too.  It’s as though there are certain areas of our lives where we’ve thrown in the towel.  We end up believing this is just the way it is; it’s a part of my life/circumstances/how the world works—there’s nothing I can do about it.  

Enough is enough.  For all of us.

Why do we accept fear and lies in our life?  I think there are a myriad of nuanced answers to this.

Moving through fear takes courage, commitment, and time.  There’s not a quick fix.  Transformation isn’t overnight; it’s a process.  And it’s hard work to dig into our thought life, belief systems, and world views and challenge the way we live.  It can feel easier—and sometimes is—to just stay where we’re at.

Recently I had a compelling conversation with a friend.  We sat on a bench facing the Manhattan skyline and poured our hearts out to one another.

She’s an aspiring artist, and for years has really wanted to make it.  But there’s always been an excuse for not going full throttle.  Whether it was her full-time job, lack of time, connections, or resources, she always justified why she wasn’t where she wanted to be creatively.

She finally got tired of it and zoomed way out of her life to figure out the why behind the excuses.  Buried deep underneath was fear of failure, rejection, and success.

Her words gripped me as she confessed how much she had sabotaged this dream because of fear.  I completely resonated with her.  Flashes went through my mind where I could see my own excuses and glimpses of sabotage.

Excuses and the story lines we tell ourselves keep us stuck.  We may not be back peddling, but we’re definitely not moving forward.  Reflecting on my conversation, I started addressing my stories—the ones I have used time and time again:

I don’t have enough money
I don’t have enough time
I don’t have what it takes
If they really knew who I was, they’d reject me in a heartbeat

I’ve also self-sabotaged by:

  • Waiting until the last minute to do something.
    • Paying my credit card late because I didn’t want to deal with it, and getting a penalty.
    • Waiting to address conflict until it was so bad that the relationship was damaged in a way that it wouldn’t have if I had just addressed it earlier.
  • Creating unnecessary drama to prove my stories were true.
    • Dating womanizing, commitment-phobic men.  When things inevitably ended I felt worthless.
    • Not filling my car up with gas because I didn’t want to waste time to stop, and then running out of gas and wasting way more time.
    • Not giving myself enough margin to get to a place in a timely manner.   It further proved to me I never had enough time.

It is hard to admit these things, and difficult to shift out of them, especially if it’s how we’ve lived and what we’ve believed for the majority of our lives.

Growth is always worth fighting for.  And healing is possible.   Whatever that may—heartache, addiction, body image. It is difficult, but moving toward freedom—no matter how hard or tiny the steps we’re making—matters.

Once my friend was able to be brutally honest with herself about the lies she believed, she was able to make a choice: keep believing the lies, or move through the fear.

She has done the latter by making an actual game plan, inviting others into the dialogue for support, and step-by-step actively choosing truth.  The amount of movement she has made towards her artistic dreams in the last three months alone has been massive.  It’s a clear picture to me of how growth, freedom, and breakthrough is possible.

XO,
Kat

Now you may be thinking—that’s great—but what about ME?  What are tangible ways that I can start moving through my own fears.  What are the tools I need to start walking in more freedom?  Click here to download my Moving through Fear:  A Practical Guide to Living a Fear Free Life PDF.  And remember it’s a process.

SaveSave