It took me way too long to get to Italy (and all of the classic European travel cities, really) — I had always focused my travels on the road less taken, namely because destinations like Tanzania, Mexico, and Morocco were exotic and always worlds cheaper upon arrival.
But last year was a rough one. I left my job at CAVA and took on an intense advertising job with long hours and lots of stress — and with the upcoming election and scheduled work events, Emily’s vacation days were limited in summer. So we decided to go big: the Amalfi coast.
Fuck racism. Money talks — and here are some amazing, gorgeous Black-owned businesses that I’ve found through Instagram and Etsy, both in the last 5 years of searching for art, and in the last 5 days of looking for ways to amplify black businesses.
It’s not just what we do now, or this week, or next week, that matters. It’s how we change our habits to consciously choose and prioritize diversity for the rest of our lives to make this world a better place, no matter what color your skin is. As an imperfect, female, and biracial creative, this is something I’m consciously working on, when it comes to creating artwork and in deciding where to spend my money.
So, I put this list together to share the artists and shops that inspire me — and I’d like this list to be a living, breathing thing, that I can update as I learn more about everything our communities have to offer. If you have favorite artists and shops, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to this list!
Aside from Jade’s gorgeous illustrations that make me wish I were her via Instagram, she’s designed for brands like Sephora, TikTok, Nike, and Tampax. Follow her, and check out Words to Live By, a book of inspiring quotes by fab women — designed by her, obviously.
I initially found this shop by searching for black artists and shop owners on Etsy, and after doing some hunting on Instagram, discovered her actual website (so shop there and help her avoid Etsy fees). How cute is this mini smudge kit?
I’m a fool for colorful yet minimal packaging design, and The Honey Pot is no exception here. Founder Bea Nixon has a fab line of skincare products for your nether regions — so you can support a black woman-owned business and pamper yourself down there. Win win. I’ll be needing this soothing body balm, stat.
This bookstore’s URL is literally Black Books Matter — and you should buy books here before you hop onto Amazon. Hood Feminism and Such a Fun Age are both up next on my to-read list… and as a designer, I showed up for the covers, but stayed to support two bad ass female writers of color.
When I moved into my new place, I wanted to create an indoor jungle — and my friend Abra pointed me to the Jungalow on Insta, and I was obsessed. Check out Justina’s fantastic home decor collection… and give your plants a new home. I’m loving these abstract, organically shaped mirrors.
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For the past several months, I’ve made a significant effort to reduce my plastic usage — and while it’s hard to go completely plastic-free, I’ve found it pretty easy to find reusable alternatives for some every day items that contribute to a ton of plastic waste.
Growing up in California, in a family that loves camping and backpacking to get away from the crowds, has made it easy to see the impact humans have had on our environment — you wouldn’t believe how much plastic trash has found its way into the most remote parts of the world.
But it’s also easy to forget how much plastic you buy and throw away on a daily basis — a bottle of soda here and there, your medication, and even your regular grocery items like coffee and milk! So I thought I’d pull some of my favorite reusable, non-plastic alternatives that I started purchasing to help me remember to waste less, and avoid buying plastic altogether.
Note on shipping: When it comes to reducing your plastic usage, it’s also a good idea to think about where you get your products. You’ll see some Amazon links in here for convenience, but Amazon tends to send you a large box filled with plastic packaging that isn’t suited to what you’ve ordered. Eco-conscious shops, on the other hand, ship with really thoughtful packaging that uses zero plastic (and honestly, is designed so well, it’ll make you smile).
I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve never experienced anything quite like this — I definitely remember H1N1, SARS and MERS, but it’s almost surreal to go through an international threat like this.
With everyone working from home and social distancing, I’ve been trying to use my extra down time to write more, practice illustrating, and creating art. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ve resolved to take some online yoga classes, pick up meditation, and document the travels I’ve left mostly unwritten in the past year or two — because hopefully when things are back to normal, we can go back to exploring this beautiful world.
In the meantime, a playlist — all of my favorite tunes for the month, to get you dancing, singing, and focused on the future.
We’ve all been there — moving is no joke. And while I recently moved in with my bf (who deferred all design decisions to me, thank god), my former roommate, Emily, was moving into a new apartment with virtually no furniture. While moving can be the perfect reset opportunity to your own style, it can get overwhelming pretty quickly. So she enlisted me to help.
Online shopping gives me life (even when I’m not the one buying things), so I jumped at the chance to help her decorate her new space. Since I’m pretty obsessed with design and decor, helping Em was a treat — instead of decorating one new home, I got to decorate two! So we huddled up and got to work. I filled a Google doc with all the cute things I could find on the internet within her set budget range.
I figured some of these gems would make a cute little graphic, so here are a few of the things I recommended for a classic, light and airy, natural feeling living room setup (plus, some extra splurges that I’d like to get myself).
Her apartment has tons of natural light, and Emily was set on becoming a crazy plant lady (which has already begun, as she adopted lots of large plants from a friend moving across the country). With that in mind, I wanted to include some warm woods, light-colored surfaces, and clean lines to keep things feeling modern, but also cozy and expensive.
Let’s talk about bread. And let’s talk about life.
For those of you who go way back with me — you’ll already know that Arabic classes took up the majority of my time in college. I met some of my favorite people, discovered my favorite foods, and daydreamed about someday living in the Middle East, basking in the heat and eating my weight in mana’eesh.
But something that we learned early in our intro courses was the word for bread: khubz. And in the Egyptian dialect, there was a synonym for bread — the same word you used for life: aishe.
Having just moved into a new house, I can speak from firsthand experience that figuring out what to hang on the walls can take the longest — especially when you want to share meaningful artwork.
I’ve recently begun buying artwork while traveling — but honestly, I haven’t done it enough! So in a pinch, I love turning to sites like Etsy and Society6 to supplement my artwork. Plus, supporting other artists like myself feels good.
Since I’ve been spending so much time browsing artwork (without committing enough to actually pull the trigger on any), I figured I’d share some of my favorites with you here. Hope you enjoy my alternate names for them 🙂
Two days in a row! We are on such a roll over here.
One of my favorite things to do, back in my Sweetsonian days, was creating playlists — ya know, back at the desk job when you listen to Spotify nonstop, before my life was taken over by conference calls.
Well, as a freelancer, I’m rarely at in-person meetings, and I spend 90% of my days on my own — and silence is the enemy these days. Insert my beloved Sonos + Spotify.
While I haven’t been blogging or sharing monthly playlists, you better believe I’ve been still building them — so here goes. Chill vibes for headphones at your desk, or unwinding to in the privacy of your living room.
Just about a year ago, Emily and I decided that our big trip would just have to be to Vietnam. She had never been to Asia (and the only Asian country I had been to was Singapore, which is basically “Asia light”), and we wanted a big, two-week trip to push us out of our comfort zones and help us really escape the grind that’s been life in DC.
So we did it. And oh, did Vietnam push our comfort boundaries. To start, we were a little worried about the flight situation — DC to LA is 6 hours, LA to Tokyo was 14, and then Tokyo to Ho Chi Min City was another 7 hours. So to say the least, we were trying to find all the hacks in the world to make this bearable (fwiw — this hack was a game changer for me).
It’s been a while since I’ve fallen hard for a city — and Singapore really was it. I had been putting off an Asia trip along the line of reasoning that the flights were too long and I’d want more time than a job in the US would allow for. Two weeks of vacation simply wouldn’t be enough.
But it’s been almost 4 years since I last switched jobs, and I’ve never been in a place where I could just take 3 months off — and a decent flight deal to Singapore made it feel just right. Singapore isn’t a city where you’d feel like you’re diving head-first into Asia; as a former British colony and a major business hub throughout the world, you’ll find so many of the amenities you’d miss while traveling in less developed countries. In fact, there were moments when it barely felt like I had left the US, but then, you turn a corner and are reminded that you’re enveloped by a completely different world.
Anyway, more on the specifics of why I loved Singapore later. But in the meantime, here’s my go-to list of places to stay, things to eat, and views to explore on a short trip to Singapore.