The creative process can be inherently introspective and isolating. In previous posts, I’ve even talked about intentionally making the creative process private in order to allow you to really connect deep within yourself and avoid external judgement or comparison. I believe that the creative process is a highly personal cycle and that there is value in keeping it intimate and internally focused. However, I also believe that cultivating a creative community can benefit both the creative process and the creator.
As the old saying goes, opposites attract. I find that creatives are often drawn to non-creatives. By nature, creatives can tend to be more abstract and intuitive. Building close relationships with more logical and rational beings helps to maintain balance in creative life and keep creative ideas grounded. It’s great for creatives to be well-rounded and have a more analytical perspective throughout the creative process – they can benefit from a non-creative community of loving friends and family, but this is only a part of the puzzle. It’s essential that creatives also have a community of more like-minded individuals to support them.
Creativity is subjective. Period. It goes without saying that subjectivity is something more logical, rational beings have a hard time wrapping their minds around. Creativity rarely has a tangible motive or result. Whether creativity is an inherent part of you or something that fulfills you and fuels you, the most concrete outcome of creativity is contentedness. Without a community that includes other creatives, you may never fully believe that is reason enough to be creative.
Start today, right now. If you feel like you don’t have anyone else creative in your life to be part of your community and support system, start here. I’m here to tell you that being creative solely to feel content and fulfilled is enough. When you feel whole and complete, you’re able to give the most to your job, your loved ones, and your life. If creativity is what makes you your best, most authentic self, embrace it, accept it, and never let it slip away.
For this month’s AOC Blog Creative Habit Challenge, focus on cultivating your creative community. Connect with your creative friends, co-workers, Facebook groups, meetups – whatever and whoever it may be. Perhaps you’ve thought about developing your own creative community and this is the push you need to get started. Maybe you’re feeling disconnected from other creatives and don’t know where to start. I invite you to connect with me – I constantly crave more creatives in my life!
A majority of the monthly Freelancers Union Spark events are educational and focused around a specific topic or speaker. However, once or twice a year, Spark hosts an open networking happy hour. In addition to offering drink specials, snacks, and opportunities to win free drinks and Freelancers Union swag, these particular events tend to draw a strong crowd because of the promise to connect.
As freelancers, we don’t have traditional co-workers, clients, or employees. Most of the time, our work is done remotely, our meetings are conducted over phone or video, and our day-to-day operations take place in our home offices. There are things that seem commonplace to those in more conventional jobs, like getting up and getting out of the house each day, bouncing ideas off your office-mate, or taking a lunch break with your boss. However, these things are luxuries to freelancers. So, when a chance to connect with our peers presents itself, it’s no surprise that we’ll flock there.
This month at the Manhattan Spark happy hour, we convened in Tribeca over cocktails, craft beer, pub fare, and prizes. Freelancers gathered around high-top tables, and the other co-leaders and I circulated the space. As we moved from table to table, we asked the attendees who they’d like to meet at the event and worked to connect them.
While the topics discussed in the more educational workshops are always incredibly relevant and useful, this ability to connect is what makes the monthly Freelancers Union Spark events invaluable. Before I became a co-leader, I connected with two girls through Spark events, one who has become a dear friend and another who has become an incredible accountability partner and friend. Now, as a co-leader, I’m honored and thrilled to be able to facilitate connections among other freelancers.
Freelancing can be a lonely and isolating line of work, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking to make more connections with fellow freelancers and grow your work community, I highly recommend checking out a Freelancers Union Spark event. There will likely be another happy hour event later this year. However, at the end of every Spark, there’s about half an hour of open networking following the workshop. To find an event near you, check out the Freelancers Union website. If you’re in the NYC area, stop by the Manhattan event and say hi – I’ll be there co-leading, and I’d love to connect!
Nothing in New York City ever starts on time. At least that’s what I thought until I discovered the Yogasmoga popup events at the South Street Seaport. When I arrived at the free class with Erika Bloom Pilates, I was ten minutes late, embarrassed, and flustered. I signed in, threw down a mat, and quickly tried to regain some Zen as I began my Pilates practice. At first, I’d been skeptical of doing Pilates in the midst of the concrete jungle, but there was one particular moment during the mat work that changed my mind. We were on our backs doing some bridges, the breeze off the river was washing over us, and as I gazed up between the high-rises at a perfect blue sky, I felt bliss. Needless to say, by the end of the class I was on a high and wanted more than ever to learn about the brand behind the event. I struck up a conversation with a couple of the girls representing Yogasmoga, and the next week, I found myself in their NYC Headquarters.
Katherine Bacino, Yogasmoga’s New York Community Coordinator & Editor of Rangoli, the brand’s community platform, served as my leader and guide throughout the HQ. There, I met members of the Yogasmoga team, previewed the upcoming fall collection, and got a taste of what’s in the works for the brand in 2016, all while experiencing just who Yogasmoga is.
Katherine started with the basics and explained the story behind the brand’s name. Yogasmoga comes from a Hindi colloquialism that combines a base word (like yoga) and a rhyming word (like smoga). The meaning is “yoga and the things that go with it.” Yogasmoga is not just a brand for yogis. It’s a brand for those who embrace the principles that go with it: joy, energy, and balance.
Next we moved on to the upcoming fall collection, which embraces the theme “unrestricted movement.” The motif reflects the brand’s belief that activewear should hug and support the body without compressing or constricting it. This idea immediately hit home. I recently got into a discussion with my dance group about how uncomfortable and unhealthy activewear can be that promises to slim your stomach or slenderize your thighs, leaving lines and indentations on your skin. Instead, Yogasmoga aims to celebrate the natural shape and curves of the body with the mindful design of their fit and fabrics. I’m particularly excited for one of the prints in the upcoming fall line called “Topography.” To create this design, Yogasmoga used a technique called bodymap printing. Typically, patterned fabrics are cut for the desired garment at random, which means the print appears on each article of clothing in a different way. With bodymap printing, the pattern on the fabric is specifically designed to suit the garment and the part of the body on which it’s worn. So, Yogasmoga’s Topography print leggings highlight the line of your waist, curve of your thighs, and muscles in your calves.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived. It was time to actually test out the clothes! The minute I slipped on the first pair of leggings, I experienced just how awesome this apparel is. The fabric is rich, mobile, weightless, and just feels good on your body as you move. I’m also completely smitten with the Topography print in the upcoming fall line. It’s a feminine and flattering work of art. I can’t wait to get my hands on a style from the new collection! If you’re having trouble deciding which piece of Yogasmoga apparel to try first, check out the company favorites or some of my own:
- Katherine, NYC Community Coordinator & Editor of Rangoli: Tippy Toe Twist Legging & Oh La La Bra (great for busty girls!)
- Katie, Marketing Analyst: Tippy Toe Legging
- Tom, Director of E-Commerce: Nirvana Short (yes, they have a men’s line too!)
- Emily, Social Media Manager: Tippy Toe Legging
- Faith, Director of Marketing: Vivacity Legging
- Trish, Wholesale Specialist: The entire Vivacity Collection
- “Super” Alex, Customer Service Specialist & Project Manager: Run Jump’N Twist Crop
- Cait, Yogasmoga Enthusiast: Run Jump’N Twist Crop & Yantra Tank
For those in the NYC area, check out the full list of free popup events that Yogasmoga is hosting at the South Street Seaport now through September. Then, follow Yogasmoga on social media, and stay tuned this fall for a series of live panel discussions with the brand. Finally, hold your breath! There’s rumor of a brick and mortar Yogasmoga store opening in NYC next year!
So, I said I’d be coming to you with quick posts during my crazy week, but today I carved out some time to share a story that’s long overdue: My Midwestern Fashion Journey.
Last night I attended a fashion panel Q&A/discussion in Madison, Wisconsin. I know that fashion exists everywhere. “Fashion is instant language.” It’s something we don’t need words to understand – it speaks for itself, it tells its own story. Fashion is something that is part of every community and culture, whether people are cognizant of it or not. So, I won’t go on to make the broad statement that I didn’t know a fashion community existed in Madison. It’s the home of online retail giant Shopbop for goodness sake. But after living in Madison for the past few years, the fashion community didn’t exist to me until last night.
I like to think of myself as one who thinks outside of the box when it comes to city searching. I grew up with a mom who was a tried and true foodie before foodies existed. Every weekend we’d get in the car, leave the confines of suburbia, and scour every corner, hidden gem, and local hole in the wall in Atlanta for the best butter, cheese, produce, and chicken. But, somehow, when I moved to Madison I fell into the classic pitfall of a GEN Y city girl.
Madison is a small town with a Midwestern culture, both of which are pretty unfamiliar to me. When I first moved to Madison, I looked for those familiar fashion faces to anchor me. I located the local Anthropologie and Sephora… and… that was about it. No major department stores at the malls? No Nordstrom Rack? No Lululemon? (Please note a Lululemon has since been built in Madison.) I immediately strapped on my skeptic hat about the existence of a fashion community here. Perhaps, I thought, Madison is a town concentrated with local boutiques. This is the case in my former college town, Athens, Georgia, but Athens is about half the size of Madison and just about an hour and a half from the heart of downtown Atlanta. Still skeptical. As a GEN Y city girl, I wanted to be inundated with options. I wanted my safe department stores for the basics, the national chains for the seasonal must-have, and the amazing local boutiques too. I felt I’d already struck out on the first two, so I had a pretty bad attitude when it came to the third.
I found Hot Mama, a Midwestern chain with closet staples like Michael Stars and Splendid and a pretty great selection of premium denim. Things are looking up. I found an awesome casual/active wear store, Neena, with brands like Beyond Yoga and Rese. Another step in a positive direction. And, of course, there’s Bop. The little brick and mortar caterpillar that later emerged into the major retail butterfly Shopbop. When my mom came to visit for the first time, we strolled in and out of several shops in the State Street section of downtown, and I ventured into the Monroe Street area one Saturday after a trip to Trader Joes, but still, the fashion community in Madison wasn’t really speaking to me. I’d hit a wall, and through inaction, put my exploration on hold.
Friends know that I’ve had a real journey acclimating to Midwestern culture and Midwestern fashion. And, yes, I do attribute some of this to my GEN Y city girl mentality. The fashion community in the South is intense. It piggybacks off the pulse of its coastal counterpart, fashion mecca New York City, while adding its own southern charm. It’s very vocal and competitive. In the Midwest, everything is more quiet and laid back, including the fashion. I remember feeling very loud the first time I went out in Madison. Not literally audibly loud, but my outfit was screaming “I’m not from here! I’m a southern, GEN Y, city girl!” Although I still wouldn’t say I feel particularly comfortable in Madison when it comes to my style and meshing with the Midwest, time has truly been my greatest ally, and over the past couple years, I’ve accepted my uniqueness in a Midwestern fashion world.
So, I come back to last night: the fashion panel Q&A/discussion. As a fashion blogger for the past eight months, I’ve revisited my desire to explore the fashion community in Madison. A new friend recently turned me onto the Wisconsin Fashion Network, which led me to the event last night. While I’m still fairly certain I was one of the only non-Midwesterners there, I was able to meet some fellow bloggers, local business owners, and other ladies with an active interest in the fashion community. It was truly a breath of fresh air. After a fairly formal Q&A/discussion, we got down to the real conversations over drinks.
My two major connections of the night were with GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie and Pamela Wilson of Iona. GaBrielle has completely changed my perception of personal style bloggers with her very honest and unique approach to personal styling blogging that defies the typical I’m always casually standing outside this chic cafe with my perfectly on trend handbag slung over my shoulder aesthetic that many personal style bloggers take. Better yet? Her images are backed with words: rich descriptions, a clear voice, and actual writing ability – things that are sadly lacking in many fashion blogs. Then there’s Pamela. I’m pretty excited to make time for a trip to my newest retail discovery: Iona. After chatting with Pamela last night and heading to Iona’s site this morning, I’m eagerly anticipating a carefully and creatively curated boutique with some one of a kind wares. I definitely foresee a more in depth post once I actually explore the boutique, so stay tuned, and in the mean time, shop the site!