The Beginning Of An Idea
HAVE YOU EVER HAD MOMENT WHEN SOMETHING SMALL SPARKS AN IDEA IN YOUR BRAIN? THAT SPARK GETS BLOWN ON BY A QUESTION. IT'S IGNITED INTO FLAME BY SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY. BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, YOU HAVE A VERITABLE THOUGHT BONFIRE RAGING IN YOUR MIND. THAT FIRE CALMS DOWN TO WHITE HOT EMBERS AS MORE CLARITY EMERGES. THOSE EMBERS PRODUCE ENOUGH HEAT TO COOK AT LEAST A HALF-BAKED PLAN.
THIS HAS ESSENTIALLY BEEN THE STORY OF MY LIFE FOR THE PAST FEW WEEKS…
PART 1. COLLECT YOUR KINDLING - Start A Fashion Blog
It all started when I woke up one Saturday morning and decided on a whim that I would become a fashion blogger. I would post my journey towards being stylish alongside witty commentary. What’s not to love?
I searched some popular fashion hashtags to find people to follow so I could get an idea of how to do this the right way. I followed about 80 people that first day to be sure I wasn’t short on inspiration.
Then I headed over to pinterest to figure out how exactly to go about creating a signature style. As I was reading one (of way too many) articles on the subject, I stumbled upon #slowfashionoctober.
At first I didn’t think too much of it then I realized that it was in fact already October (What the heck?! Where did 2018 go?) and this would be a good way to get started toward figuring out how I wanted to be dressing myself.
Back on instagram I noticed a couple of things about those first people I followed.
A) I couldn’t tell any of them apart.
They were all wearing very similar, neutral colored things. Then they had the audacity to edit their photos in a similar style/color.
B) They must have huge clothing budgets.
Somehow they managed to not ever repeat outfits. Seriously though, where do they put it all?
Clearly these were not my people.
Back on the #slowfashionoctober page, people were having thoughtful conversations about their wardrobes.
They spoke of what should go in an what should be left out. Actively curating personal collections of clothing that worked practically was their main jam.
Some were taking things further and looking into their clothing's origins. They asked important questions like, "Who made my clothes?" and "Was this ethically sourced?". Being a concious consumer was important to them.
I was so much more on board with this slower, thoughtful approach to putting on clothes.
The concept of slow fashion is to turn "fast fashion" on its head.
It says that this idea that we should always be shopping is irresponsible. Slow fashion is about considered wardrobes. Its about contentment with what you have. It values thinking about your needs and making wise choices.
Sometimes it means buying clothing from thrift stores, or making your own by hand.
Slow fashion is about telling the market what you value.
For me, fair wages, safe work conditions and taking care of the planet are important, even if it means paying more.
Reading these posts inspired me to conciously create my wardrobe using these principles.
I'm inspired to think deeply about who I am and where I’ve been to understand myself better. Understanding my needs and desires brings clarity first to my identity - then to my style.
Once I nail down my signature style I can learn how to let it grow and evolve as life moves along.
In a short time of concious experimentation it seems that my ideal wardrobe will be happy. I am silly and cheerful and I'd love to portray that in how I dress.
It will be full of bright pinks and yellows.
But, I can't dress with aspiration either. My wardrobe must be practical for walking everywhere, living in a cold climate and wrangling 3 kids for most of my waking hours. It will be casual, practical, layer-able and full of textures.
In my ideal world it would also reflect something about where I've been and who I'm becoming.
PART 2. BUILD A TEEPEE - Read An Inspiring Book
I took a break from pondering about my fashion needs and read a book called At Home In The World.
This book BLEW. MY. MIND.
Tsh Oxenreider is basically a more eloquent, funnier version of myself.
It was like she reached into my head, took my thoughts on traveling the world, then concisely and thoughtfully put them into words.
I've had similar observations, but I must not have the same command over the English language.
I took notes.
LOTS of notes.
She spoke of the deep pull of wanderlust and wanting to experience the world in a meaningful way.
Paradoxically she also loves to be in the calm of her own home.
On their family’s journey around the world she penned ideas that resonated deeply with me. The idea that wanderlust and a longing for home come from the same place.
"It is a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven. The equal pull between both is my hardwired desire for heaven on earth. And I know I’ll never find it."
Instead of writing a Top 10 Places To See type travel guide for the places they visited, she wrote a memoir. A deeper look at the meaningful moments and outcomes of an extended journey on her family.
I finished reading and wished for more.
More of the world.
For them, the most meaningful moments came while sharing food with friends and locals. They stayed in homes and shopped at the markets. Their kids did schoolwork and climbed on playgrounds.
Wherever they were they were immersing themselves in the ordinariness of life.
In our travels we have managed to take things quite slow.
On average we spend a longer time than most people would in each place. But we didn’t enjoy the sort of human interaction they did, it was only us and we definitely missed the community.
The greatest joy of traveling is getting to share what you see and learn with other people.
For me, the ultimate way to experience the world would be through the lens of food and textiles. I have always loved food (who doesn't?).
My mom always said that my love language was food. I like making it, I love eating it and sharing it is one way I show that I care.
I also come from a family of makers.
That means that my mom and grandma had us making things with our hands almost before we could walk. Sewing, weaving, dying, knitting and textiles capture my creativity in a practical way.
You can make beautiful things that have a purpose.
As I have learned to travel, I find that my most favorite souvenirs are textiles. They remind me of the people that live in other parts of the world. It makes me wonder how long they spent working on my favorite rug and how they made the different dyes.
They are the things which inspire me to know more about the places I've been and look forward to places I will go.
PART 3. STRIKE A MATCH - Listen To A Smart Person
My friend Shannon is studying to be a life coach and I’m fairly sure she’s been practicing on me.
She posted this question online:
“You are sitting in a café drinking coffee and it is five years from now. You pick up a newspaper and read a story about yourself. What does the story say? What have you achieved, what are you known for?”
I spent a good long while wondering where on earth that coffee shop would be.
It would have to be somewhere that I could understand enough of the language to read the newspaper (#goals).
Seriously though, what is my goal in all go this?
Am I searching for adventure and hoping to see where life takes us? What is the driving force behind my actions?
Do I want to see the world just to scratch off the countries on my map (maybe #dontjudgeme)?
These questions, gave me pause.
Between this and trying to curate a wardrobe I have done more soul searching than normal this week.
I came to the conclusion that I want to do something that matters to someone other than myself. And I want to share photos and stories about my journey.
PART 4. FAN THE FLAMES - Put It All Together
So what do fashion, travel and purpose have to do with each other?
I’m still working out the details, but what if they could all pave a path in the same direction?
Could they be one super cool (kinda scary) big idea?
Idea #1: Curating a meaningful wardrobe is worthwhile.
To accurately reflect who I am, I should include pieces from places that helped shape my identity.
Idea #2: My previous travels have been missing valuable human connection.
To experience a culture in a meaningful way you need to interact with local people. It is through their stories that we can understand culture and recent history.
Idea #3: I like good food and pretty things
I want to seek out people who create, through food and fabrics. This would be a dynamic way to experience a new culture at a deeper level.
Idea #4: I have a keen desire to do something that matters to someone other than myself and to document that journey.
PART 5. THE EMBERS - The Big Idea
Let's go a different direction,.
I want to once again pack up my family and go on an adventure.
Instead of writing about how to travel with your family, this time I have a specific goal in mind.
I want to experience the world through people, textiles and food.
This means getting to know people.
It means sharing meals and learning to cook.
It means finding the people who create and learning to create along side them.
It means building my wardrobe to reflect who I am and respect those who made its contents.
It means photographing our encounters and telling stories of lives lived far away.
And ultimately, exploring what it means to experience the world and bring it home to make it a part of your life.