A decade ends and we could focus on that distance of time lived and traveled. The last single year, however, is more than enough for me to take stock in and reflect on. We had our first pop-up, we showed at Tokyo Fashion Week, and, most excitedly, we renovated a factory into collaborative co-working studio space in the heart of the garment district.
My biggest lesson learned was trusting my emotional reactions to inform my intuition and guide the decision-making.
Every year, I have a single word or phrase that guides and grounds all my intentions. It's often most useful when ambiguity arises in life. 2019 was control. Accepting the things I could control, releasing the things I couldn't. Exercising self-control and denying others control over me. Several years in a row, the word generally reminds me to stay the course. One year it was resolute. Another, unbroken, after a particularly difficult year.
2020 is focus. My biggest lesson learned was trusting my emotional reactions to inform my intuition and guide the decision-making. I had to shift myself into the uncomfortable to grow and discover the extent of my bandwidth to perform under pressure with a team I was responsible for.
When people want to talk about privilege, I think what we're talking about sometimes in fashion is about opportunity. While it might exist for all, the frequency of that opportunity is where disparity lies. The singular chance to show presented itself and the brand was invited to debut at Tokyo Fashion Week.
We were ten strong. Two Creative. 7 models (5 from Dallas and 2 from New York). Myself. We were able to expand the work I initially developed and offer a lifestyle choice with more accessories and handbags. Read this piece by East & West to learn more about the backstory of the collection and the familial tension that inspired an homage to my complicated grandmother.
This year also brought the inception of our Transform Portrait Series, a growing collection of change makers. I was genuinely inspired by and learned a great deal from working with, listening to, or supporting the noble endeavors of these incredible individuals.
Speaking of moments, many of these people are connected to meaningful moments of introspection and growth for me. Thus, they really mirror the brands path to Tokyo. Farai Simoyi at The Narativ included me in an opportunity to hear Nelson Mandela's grandson, Ndaba, speak. I was introduced to an instrumental mentor for preparing the collection by Kimberly Jenkins. I worked with Cathy Diamond and Christina Love-Mallon during my time at Open Style Lab developing concepts for inclusive design solutions. Mireilly Figueroa has been "grassroots" in our shared passion for the arts, bringing visibility of the brand to other women who power dress with personality in STEM-related occupations. Finally, Hannah Stoudemire and Ali Richmond at Fashion For All Foundation, provided many opportunities to hear and meet figures who influence our uniquely American Fashion Industry and shape our global osmosis.
Finally, I want to share the Johnathan Hayden 2020 Campaign Trailer from our time in Japan. It truly epitomizes the existential growth and power we want to impart to our supportive audience. Whatever the new year may have in store for you, my sincerest wish is that you connect the people to those moments that cheer you on to your biggest successes and carry you through your toughest challenges. Observation and critical listening can be your best tools in moments of unknown. Knowing which ones to focus on and apply will make all the difference in 2020. Good luck!