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Confessions of a Jetsetter w/ Lili Lopez

“2013, I was traveling across West Africa with my mom visiting family. Car rapides after car rapides, making key stops here and there, rediscovering our country like we’d never been here before. We curiously roamed with a different set of eyes, with a different sense of purpose.

From Mali to Senegal, a little bit of Gambia, our trip quickly turned into a month. We now had 2 weeks left and Guinea-Bissau was our last stop.

I could spend 10 more hours describing the village that welcomed us, but instead I’m just going to jump straight to the ending of this trip.

For 10 days, they fed us, gave us a place to sleep, shared their bed, prepared “Ataya” for us, and taught us expecting nothing in return.

“Let’s buy a cow for the village before we leave,” my mom said. To tell you the truth, even 10 cows wouldn’t have been enough to make up for their level of hospitality.

The chief declined our offer at first, he is not the “give to get” type of man but, we insisted…yeah, my mom is the “don’t you dare tell me “no”’ type of woman.                         

So, the chief calls his mate and tells him to go get ready to head to the city with us and buy the cow. The excitement in his mate’s eyes as he learned that he was going to THE CITY was priceless. He smiled and said, “Give me 30 minutes to get dressed!”

He was back 15 minutes later, feeling handsome (as he was!) wearing denim jeans waaay too big for him, a cowboy hat & boots, with a huge New York jersey shirt…and still the same genuine smile of excitement. A smile that for some reason moved me…touched me in a way that can’t be described with words. I was proud of all the values he carried and that I could see through his smile in that moment. ”

Lili Lopez

 

 

About Lili Lopez

Senegalese visual expressionist Lili Lopez studied applied arts, photography and business before working as a marketing director in media and entertainment in Paris. Gradually, her multi-media art practice became her full-time occupation and she now works across film, watercolour, pen on paper and chalkboard.

Having recently relocated to New York, Lili is building a reputation for her geometric, minimalist and African-inspired aesthetic.

She began a short documentary series titled, UNDONE , as a personal project hoping to prove that life is not about being but about becoming.

The debut series of UNDONE recently won the award for Best Web Series at the Bushwick Film Festival 2016.

Keep up with Lili’s creative projects at lililopez.net and via Instagram @lilitinalopez.

 

 

Confessions of a Jetsetter w/ Austin Willis

“Morocco…there’s still so much I want to see of the country. It’s refreshing to get away and kinda be off the grid and fully live in the moment. The food and people are amazing as well. The people of Morocco made me feel at home. I think it’s also due to the fact they thought I was Moroccan so I got a really unique perspective when I was there. A few people allowed me into their homes to meet their families and enjoy conversations about life over some delicious mint tea.

Austin Willis // @visualsbywillis

 

Photo by Hanif Castle

 

 

Confessions of a Jetsetter w/ Eli Fola

“I traveled to Montreal, Canada in 2014 for the first time ever with a band I used to be in. My band mates and I got to perform at a festival in Québec, Montreal, known as the Orientalys Festival. Québec is the French part of Canada and most people there don’t speak English. So, it was really difficult to communicate with the locals because I don’t understand or speak French and neither did any of my friends. Communicating with the audience we performed for was also a challenge due to the language barrier however, the trip was still an amazing experience.

This particular journey was significant to me because I got to explore a city outside of my comfort zone and enjoyed so much amazing food. I tried Poutine for the first time and Oh My! Oh My! Haha, it was so delicious, I had to order more! The city was also super clean compared to New York and I got to hang out with locals and played on a big stage. The trip made me realize the importance of traveling and experiencing different cultures and people. It definitely made me think of the world differently. I believe traveling is the best teacher – the more we travel, the more we learn because there is so much more to life than what we know or where we live. “

Eli Fola

 

 

About Eli Fola

Eli Fola is a Nigerian born, New York based multimedia artist, vocalist, saxophonist, DJ and music producer. His debut EP, “The Platform”, was released on March 28, 2016. The project was inspired by his love for house and techno music and his experiences being an African living in the United States. His work has been featured in publications such as Wonderland Magazine, Fashion Glossary UK, Okayplayer, Okayafrica, Milk Media, and Impose Magazine. Eli is the founder of Tech Afrique, an independent record label and event company that serves as a platform for releasing his projects. The company hosts a monthly visual art and music event in Bedstuy, Brooklyn known as The Communion. Tech Afrique is also the musical sound he is pioneering.

In early 2017, Eli made his TED Conference debut under Tedx Cuny as a speaker and performer, focusing on how music can be used to reconcile and highlight differences in culture and identity.

Keep up with Eli’s creative adventures at www.elifola.com and via Instagram at @elifola_.

Cover Photo by Natasha Kristian

 

Err on the Side of Caution

Caution and creativity are two words that tend to live on opposite ends of the spectrum. There is a common myth that if you’re too cautious, you cannot be creative enough, and on the other hand, if you want to truly push the creative envelope, you must live with reckless abandon. This binary train of thought can actually disrupt the process of discovering your authentic voice within your work because fear is often pitted as the enemy. However, fear should just be seen as a subconscious caution signal you encounter on the road to discovering your next path.

Similarly, just like the striking yellow and black color combinations of street signs strategically mounted ahead of the traveler, we can easily notice when we’re approaching a point where our fears are wrapping around our thoughts, hindering our next moves. These feelings act as internal flags regulating if the moves we’re about to make are inherently meaningful to us as well as the speeds at which we’re willing to drive past fear to actually risk succeeding. From there, once we visualize the best or the worse that can happen, we can proceed with ease and freedom. What lies ahead is what we choose as a focus.

So the next time you are inundated with rapid thoughts, speeding back and forth, about to cause a traffic jam in your mind, close your eyes and picture a yellow traffic sign and observe how this affects the way you move through each twist and turn towards your goals.

 

Leather Jacket: The Arrivals /Top: Shae NY

Pants: Vintage/Shoes: Oriental Traffic

Photography by Amy Ezgi Silahtar

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A Moveable Feast: 4 Hearty Lessons from Food Book Fair

If the age-old phrase that “you are what you eat” manifests itself literally, I’d be one giant avocado rolling around the streets of New York City #deadsexy. All jokes aside, many of us don’t take the time out to recognize just how much food and the art of dining shape our collective identities, memories and social politics apart from the obvious physical implications food has on our waistlines. I got a quick reminder of just how significant each bite lends to food for thought when I accompanied the motley crew at Ace Hotel New York as they hosted this year’s Food Book Fair. Here are 4 hearty lessons I learned from foodies & bookworms alike:

1) “Come to the table with an empty stomach and leave with a full heart.” ~ Warren Bobrow aka “The Cocktail Whisper” 

On opening night of the Food Book Fair, Warren Bobrow discussed his latest book, The Craft Cocktail Compendium, which encompasses a mixture of contemporary apothecary cocktails and silent nods to Robert Louis Stevenson.  I later struck up a conversation with Warren about the power of authentic connections through food. Warren expressed that his favorite personal mantra is, “Come to the table with an empty stomach and leave with a full heart” because by doing so, one will, in a more disarming way, gain a better understanding and appreciation of others and the places they come from. Take a seat around the table so that everyone can share food, drinks and candid conversations about life and witness how much more enriched you feel afterwards.

2) “Respect your fat.” ~ Samin Nosrat

Listening to keynote speaker, Samin Nosrat, author of  Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, transcended the literal mastery of her four basic elements of cooking and her passion took on a philosophical note that there’s also a delicate balance and contrast to the conditions we’re comprised of, including those we sometimes label as “bad”. We should learn to trust and respect our experiences for what they are rather than impose a fixed recipe on how we think they should be.

3) “Quod me nutrit me destruit” (What nourishes me destroys me).

Yahdon Israel of Literary Swag Book Club, through his examination of James Baldwin’s eating habits, eloquently stated that our food choices speak more to our alignments and how these choices can signal changes within us when it comes to self-care. Sometimes on the road to leading a healthier, woke lifestyle, we can tend to end up alienating ourselves from communities we long to be a part of owing to tradition and familiarity. In effect, our self-care may appear destructive, but in essence, part of “adulting” and owning your purpose lies in weeding out people and experiences that starve your soul.

4) Divine interventions come in all forms, including pastrami sandwiches!

The types of food we consume, along with our ritual patterns of eating and drinking, have immense power over our general outlook and mood. Food has the power to tackle everything from huge roadblocks such as anxiety, depression and stress, to the simple pleasures in life like finding a slice of heaven & home in a pastrami sandwich from 2nd Ave Deli similarly to Eli Sussman of Samesa.

Bon Appétit! 

Find out more information about Food Book Fair at www.foodbookfair.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Jetsetter w/ Kamilla Sun

“It’s hard to choose one specific memory! So many of them! Each trip has its unique, fascinating story: sad, funny, risky or inspiring. But, all of them have a similar trace. When I followed my intuition and was open in all these moments, I had the most incredible adventures.

So I’ll just tell the first that comes to mind…

In 2013, when I just broke up with my long-term boyfriend whom I lived with, I temporary moved to my girlfriend’s apartment and stayed there on a month-to-month basis until I figured out my next step. I was lost, confused, broke, didn’t like my job, and didn’t know what I wanted from life. Somehow I came to the realization that all my life, I’d actually never really known myself due to living under so many societal conditions and expectations. So, I was determined to reevaluate my whole life and what I wanted from it.

One night, I went to dinner with a group of people and met this German girl named Maria. We connected right away and started to share things about ourselves. I don’t know how we started talking about places we’d like to go in the world. While I was listing my bucket list, I mentioned Alaska. When she heard this, she exclaimed, “I also want to go there! Let’s go!” I laughed and said, “Yes, lets do it,” but I thought she wasn’t saying it very seriously because I’m used to hearing people give empty promises.

Two days later she calls me, “Kamilla, I looked into flights to Alaska and they’re only $400 round trip. Let’s buy them now!” I was in shock. She WAS being serious! And next thing I knew, we were buying the tickets and I was going to Alaska in a month with pretty much a complete stranger.

I told my roommate that I’m leaving to Alaska and unfortunately won’t be able to pay for the rent and for a trip simultaneously.  So I had to give up my spot in the apartment. It was an abrupt decision and didn’t make sense to her in my financial state. She was concerned.  She couldn’t understand why I would go somewhere and travel when I needed to save money and try to settle myself instead.

She asked me all the right practical questions, “Where will you live when you get back? How will you sustain yourself if you won’t continue working? How will you pay for taking a new lease if you spend everything on the trip?” I didn’t know the answers. I won’t lie, I was scared but for some reason I felt it was the right decision, it’s was now or never. So I took the risk.  I put all my stuff in storage and left for the unknown…

It was my first real adventure ever with no real plan for the future and no place to come back to. Maria and I had a blast in Alaska! She was a wonderful companion. We rented a car and drove everywhere in Alaska, made new friends, saw nature in all its magnificence, camped, hiked, got into fun situations…

What was supposed to just be a month-long trip to Alaska followed up with a whirlwind of two years of non-stop traveling around the world. I would just come back to NYC for a week or so on end and then head to the next adventure just switching up my clothes from the storage room according to the weather in my next location.

Everything worked out. Magically, I would get occasional paid jobs. Friends would help me with temporary stays. I knew I needed to be out of my comfort zone in this manner in order to find my purpose and learn more about myself. People thought I was crazy. I didn’t’ care. I was following my heart. It was quite a roller coaster of ups and downs. Through exploring the world, I discovered myself.

I’m so grateful I did this once in my life and that fear of the unknown didn’t stop me. I’m grateful to people who have helped me along the way and understood my position. I’ve learned that you have to believe in your heart and trust the universe. It’s the best you can do for yourself in life.”

Kamilla Sun

 

About Kamilla Sun

Kamilla is the founder of ST.ART, a creative agency based in NYC representing innovative contemporary urban artists worldwide. ST.ART bridges the gap between companies and dynamic artists looking to impact culture through artful design via carrying out their creative visions from start to finish in the both the commercial and private collector sectors.

You can keep up with Kamilla’s artsy adventures on Instagram at @kamilla_sun and find out more about ST.ART at www.st-artnow.com.  

Confessions of a Jetsetter w/ Marrisa Wilson

“In 2013, I lived in Paris for a semester in college. I was studying at the Mod’Spe International School of Merchandising and the Paris College of Art (formerly Parson’s Paris). There was a point in the trip when I was starting to feel lonely – this particular night I had called my mom a bit homesick and hitting a bit of a rut at this point during my stay. The next day, my best friend Nick and I went for a walk down Rue Saint-Honoré probably around 3 or 4 PM in the afternoon and we both got hungry. None of the restaurants were serving food at this time so we stumbled into a pastry shop called Rotin’s Home.

I remember I had this delicious cheesecake and we both had tea. We both noticed that our server had those red high-top Margiela toe boots and we both gave each other a funny look. We finished our meal and went downstairs to thank the woman who seemed to be the owner. The man with the Margiela shoes came out again and asked us where we were from, as I imagined he heard our American accents. We told him we were fashion students studying abroad in Paris from New York. He than told us that he also worked in fashion and had a similar work experience where he was sent to New York to live for a few months and he loved it and learned so much during this time.

As we continue talking, we learn that he, his mother, and two brothers run Rotin’s Home. One brother does the pastries, one brother does the accounting, and he runs the boutique connected, to which he walks us over to and gives us a little tour. As we continue to talk to him, we learned that for years he was a sample maker for Chanel!!! We continue to chat about New York vs. Paris, issues of race within the industry (he was half black, half Chinese), and experiences he’s encountered along the way. Then at one point he says, “I don’t mean to impose on your religious beliefs – I’m not sure what your faith is, but one thing I’ve learned – you don’t ever need to feel like you’re alone because God is watching over you.” And I start HYSTERICALLY crying in this pastry shop because that particular phrase touched back to the conversation with my mother on the phone the night before.

The man was obviously taken aback by this sobbing American girl. But then even after that, he mentions something along the lines of, “not being afraid of who you are, your friends and family will love you regardless.” Nick then begins crying too because his parents were flying into Paris just a few days after this, and he was officially coming out to them. Once the man sees Nick starting to cry, he then starts crying, because he had no idea how much such few words could impact complete strangers. 

It’s crazy how things work out – how we stumbled into this place by chance. Whenever people ask me if I believe in angels, I always say that I met one in a pastry shop in Paris.”

x Marrisa Wilson

 

About Marrisa Wilson

Marrisa Wilson is the Founder and Creative Director of Marrisa Wilson NY – a higher contemporary womenswear brand founded in 2016 by the first generation Guyanese American born and raised in New Jersey. Wilson majored in Fashion Design with double minors in Fashion Merchandising and Product Development, receiving her BFA in May of 2015. In fall 2013, Wilson spent a semester abroad in Paris, honing her skills at both the Mod’Spe International School of Merchandising and Paris College of Art. As a two time Fashion Scholarship Fund Winner, Wilson has had an impressive resume with names such as J. Mendel, Oscar de la Renta, rag & bone, and Calvin Klein. Wilson set out to create a brand that celebrates the multifaceted aspects of a woman’s personality. Produced in the Garment District of NYC, MWNY is characterized by cool, relaxed styling blended with bold and funky textiles and print artwork developed in house.

View Marrisa’s latest collection at marrisawilsonny.com and keep up with Marrisa’s daily inspirations via Instagram at @marrisaa.

Cover & Bio Images by Karston Tannis

 

 

Confessions of a Jetsetter w/ Deepa Paul

“I am a product of two very chaotic and colorful cultures: Indian and Filipino. But after living in Amsterdam for five years, I was surprised to realize while packing my summer wardrobe for a trip to Sicily, that everything in my suitcase was black, white or gray! I keep it that way so it’s easy to mix and match. But color is too deeply rooted in me, so I always accessorize with a flash of color—bright red sandals, hot pink lipstick, a glittery bag.

My outfits are comfortable and unfussy, but put-together and feminine. I wear a lot of dresses and skirts. I have always struggled with my weight, but when I became a mother, I finally embraced my body. I prefer outfits that subtly show off and hug my curves, without being explicitly sexual. My culture prizes femininity and modesty, so no matter how my style evolves I feel I will always have that in me.”

Deepa Paul

 

About Deepa Paul

Deepa Paul is the wanderer behind Currystrumpet, a blog filled with stories of motherhood, home, travel and life in Amsterdam as seen through the eyes of a Filipina mom born and raised in Manila. Deepa’s personal philosophy, “Live Now, Write Later” seamlessly shines through her many experiences dabbling in various creative worlds which include and are not limited to writing, producing, painting and hand lettering.

You can keep up with her daily fun adventures on Instagram at @currystrumpet and read more about her journeys as they unfold on www.currystrumpet.com.  

On the Hunt for Inspiration

Hunting for inspiration as a creative can be quite a daunting task. We aimlessly search high and wide for this elusive buried treasure of thoughts everywhere we turn. Our eyes are constantly thirsty for knowledge and each twist and turn along the road feeds a sometimes insatiable, mental beast obsessively documenting every move. The thrill is stimulating but can be draining and counterproductive once we’ve come down from this trip. We may feel overwhelmed, broken and lost.

It’s at this point that retracing our journeys, simplifying our process, and finding stillness is key. The act of just closing our eyes for a second to meditate can reveal a new perspective to appreciate the tiny moments and everyday elements that surround us. In stillness, we often find the answers we’ve been searching for the entire time.

Hunt for Inspiration-Jetsetterproblems.com-5

I recently discovered this very important lesson accidentally. I was in a hurry to get out the door, occupied by jumbled thoughts for future posts and couldn’t find my set of keys. Tearing apart a path before me, I finally discovered my keys underneath the garment bag I had picked up from cool, up & coming fashion brand, Shae NY. I took a moment to just breathe after sarcastically muttering to myself, “Great job Khadijat!” When I refocused my attention to resume moving forward, I noticed an old metrocard next to the garment bag and for some reason the colors felt fresh to me.

In that moment, the concept for one of my looks instantly popped in my head and I decided I felt like dressing like a metrocard. And as the story goes, a new creation was birthed from a random moment of stillness.

 

Sweater: Shae NY (use code “JETSET10” for 10% off!)/ Pants: Urban Outfitters

Photography: James Creel

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Confessions of a Jetsetter w/ Raaja Nemani

“I trekked in the Himalayas for two weeks in May 2009. Normally, people do this in large tour groups, but I ended up doing this alone with a guide named Prakash. Prakash and I got to know each other very well hiking for 12 hours a day and since I was on my own, at nights he would take me into the homes of various Nepalis and Tibetans who lived in the mountains to tell stories, drink rice wine/whiskey, and laugh … a lot.

I learned that Prakash and I were the exact same age at that time, 27 years old. But while I was in the middle of a trip backpacking around the world, Prakash worked in the mountains 7 days/week so he could make enough money to send home to his wife and two kids in Kathmandu. Near the end of the trip, as we were descending, Prakash mentioned to me very casually that I was lucky. I asked him what he meant, and he said that I was lucky to be doing what I was doing.

Immediately I got defensive. I explained to him how hard I had worked to save enough money to be able to do something like this. He said I didn’t understand, and that I was lucky to be from where I was from. I got even more defensive. I explained to him that my parents came from very little and that my father studied and worked very hard to earn a full scholarship to study in the US and worked very hard to give myself and my siblings more opportunity than he had. Again he said I didn’t understand. He said I was lucky to have been born in the US. We never resolved our argument and I left Nepal thinking about his comments and why he was wrong to presume he knew my life.

Some time later, I was watching an interview with Warren Buffet. The reporter was asking him what he attributed his success in life to. Was it his upbringing, education, work ethic, intelligence, etc.? Buffet said it was none of those things. He said he could attribute most of his success to the fact that he was born in the US. And that had he been born in a 3rd world country in poverty, he would never have achieved close to what he was able to achieve based on where he was born. I finally knew what Prakash was trying to say to me.

Arguably the most important thing that happens in our lives (where and to whom we are born) is due to chance and something we have no control over. I think about this fact all the time, consider it with everyone I meet who has had a different life experience than me, and am always thankful for how lucky I’ve been.”

Raaja Nemani

 

About Raaja Nemani

Raaja is the co-founder and CEO of Bucketfeet where he oversees the company’s growth and development. Founded in 2011, Bucketfeet is a footwear company that collaborates with a global community of artists to design limited-edition shoes with the goal of sparking meaningful conversations to create a brighter world. Alongside co-founder Aaron Firestein, Raaja is focused on empowering a community of 40,000 artists from more than 120 countries to share their stories and perspectives using the universal language of art and the shoe as their canvas.