black and white

Brown Girls

My skin may have extra melanin than yours giving it a darker color, and even now in 2016 that bothers some people. Before modeling I never had any personal experiences with racism. I was never called names at school or felt like I didn’t belong. My complexion was darker than a good amount of my friends, but it had never been an issue because the color of my skin was just that, only a color.

As I stepped into the fashion world, I began to notice racism in many ways. While working for Abercrombie I would be the only dark skinned model at many castings. It was rare to find anyone of darker complexion in any of their ads. Since my move to Seattle I often find myself in similar situations, being the only dark skinned model at shoots for designers or walking in fashion shows.

I have been asked to participate in shoots and fashion shows where the makeup artist will request I bring my own foundation. Now this may not seem like that big of a deal until you stop and think about how many times the same request has been made of a light skinned model. They say my skin is so dark, unique and beautiful but can't supply the right makeup for me as they do for the other girls.

I was recently on the set of a shoot where the makeup artists didn't have the right color foundation to match my skin tone. The artist proceeded to try and blend the foundation down my neck and even put some on my shoulders to try and bring the lighter color down in hopes that no one would notice the color difference. As I looked at myself in the mirror, a sadness swept over me; I couldn’t even recognize the face that was staring back. I've never felt more ugly than I did in that moment. After a few shots the photographer noticed the issue: my face did not match my body. The makeup artist made another attempt to fix the mistake but was unsuccessful. Thankfully another makeup artist had arrived on set that was equipped with the right foundation for me. How can you call yourself an artist and only be able to appeal to one range of skin tones? 

I didn’t write this post to gain pity but rather to bring attention to an issue that many might not even realize exists.  The fashion industry has recently begun fighting for diversity in shapes and sizes on the runway and in print, but when will we start to fight for all the minorities in the industry.

This is a cry for change, a hope for a revolution. #blackisbeautiful

Summer in Seattle

Summertime...and the living is easy.

Summer is slowly but surely coming to an end, and I'm so thankful to be able to say it has been one of the best of my life. My first summer in Seattle has been filled with new friends, cool music, good food, and fun adventures.

I was so nervous when my mom brought up the idea of moving away from Ohio, the place I considered to be home- but it turned out to be the best decision.

I first met Stephen Klise this year in January. One night as I was searching the world of hashtags on Instagram, I came across his work. I instantly fell in love with his natural lighting photography and natural style of editing.

Stephen and I were looking to have a little adventure; I had a day off from work and the sun was out, so we decided to take some photos at Carkeek Park. Even though the park is just around the corner from downtown Seattle, it was just the outing we were looking for. Sometimes, even a small adventure to the beach can provide a fun escape!

Photographer: Stephen Klise

Shop Local

Do you know where your clothes come from? That may sound like an odd question, but take a second to really think about the answer. If you answered a store name I want you to think a little deeper, before the clothes reach the rack how did they come to be?

This is not a post to judge or talk down to anyone, but more to inform. I myself shop at name brand stores, but it is something I work to change as much as possible every year. Part of that whole less is more, quality over quantity-update wardrobe kick I'm on.

Dress: $95

Melanie is a Seattle local designer who creates all of her pieces by hand. Yes, people still do that. Melanie, founder of Klad Apparel spends up to eight hours a day creating one piece of clothing by hand. Some items may take a little less or a little more time depending on the design.

A few posts ago I made a comment about Zara being one of my new places to shop. In my mind it was an upgrade from Forever21 quality, but in reality they are all the same. U.K. magazine Daily Mail did a piece on Zara in 2013 after a lawsuit was brought against the company. Employees were found working 12 hour days, and only making between $147 to $272 a month. How does that add up?

Think about the pay rate of the person who made this dress from Zara, and the cost of the dress. Now I want you to think about the cost of the material, time spent creating the pieces with prices listed from Klad Apparel- all of a sudden shopping local seems like a very reasonable option.

Dress: $85

Huffington Post did an interview in 2013 with TS Designs about manufacturing and the ins and outs of the clothing business. Based in North Carolina, TS Designs pays their employees $15 an hour- according to the Institute of Global Labor and Human Rights, an average factory worker in Bangladesh makes $0.21 an hour. Let those facts sink in for just a second. This pay rate difference is the reason TS Designs produces less clothes, but is able to keep their brand state side. Ridiculously low pay, child labor, and workers from impoverished countries are being used to create multi-billion dollar companies.

If you think this only happens overseas, you are wrong. Before I started writing this post I did a lot of reading and came across two articles by Huffington Post and Business Insider on Forever21 that changed how I looked at the company and their clothes. Before a lawsuit in 2001 many of Forever21s clothes were being made in LA, where employees complained they were being paid CENTS per item they made. Cents- I couldn't believe it, however after reading countless interviews and lawsuits, I came to the realization that this is a real problem. Little pay, unsafe, and unfair work conditions are a reality for many people who work for many different companies.

So the next time you go shopping, think of where your clothes come from and consider shopping local. I know I will.

Photographer: Angela Carlyle/ Makeup: Sable Desiree/ Hair: Shontia Delpin/ Stylist: Frilancy Makungu/ Jewlery: Lembas/ Clothing: Klad Apparel