The True Cost

**This post was written April 2015 but for some reason it was sitting in my drafts. Forgive me for the lack of images, but I think that this is a post important to read through**

A Youtube fashion/beauty guru recommended this documentary to her viewers and I was curious to find out what the hulabaloo was about. The True Cost is a documentary directed by Andrew Morgan, a filmmaker and visual storyteller who wanted to expose the “true cost” of the fashion industry, namely fast fashion. If you aren’t aware/familiar with the term fast fashion, it simply means fashion that you can buy cheaply and in huge amounts. The film explores the inevitable consequences of producing mass amounts of cheap clothing from the likes of huge fashion retailers like Forever 21 and H&M. In order to keep up with seasons and the high demand of consumers across Western nations, they outsource workers from 3rd world countries such as Dhaka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and of course, China.

The film touched upon many things that concerned me deeply. However, the issue that unsettled me the most is the nature of capitalism, which breeds heavy consumerism, and how that directly affects people and valuable lives overseas. As a human, it is easy to desensitize human life when you want something, or when you don’t have a pair of eyes to look deeply into and empathize with. When I saw the tragedy that occurred in Bangladesh (1,100 people killed in a building collapse at a garment factory), I was hurt. When I saw a baby sleeping next to her mother, right under unsafe tools and conditions, I was pained. These people are forced to work in these conditions because nothing else is an option. I won’t go into too much of the details of the documentary or the whole issue because if you really care about this, then you can go and do the research yourself. I, however, will share my thoughts on this matter.

I am guilty. I have a closet filled with fast fashion items and have gone back many times to these stores despite the fact that their products are cheaply made and never last. When Forever 21 has a glitzy new banner on their website, or when H&M flashes their huge red sale signs around the end of a season, the Pavlov conditioning that social media and advertisements have ingrained into my mind, thrusts into full work mode. It’s shameful, really. The film made a comment about how consumption of materials is prevalent among a society that is trying to feel like they are loved, that they matter, that they are important. In essence, you buy and accumulate stuff so that you can feel better, prettier, and more worthy of other people’s attention. But I should know better. I am a follower of Jesus and I know full well that even if I didn’t own one shred of clothing  other than what is on my back, I am priceless and loved unconditionally by my Creator. More importantly, having someone be crushed under a building just to fulfill my selfish need of wanting to look “chic” or “cute” for a photoshoot is absolutely preposterous and I don’t see Jesus in that situation at all. Therefore, I shall remove myself from it.

Human life needs to be valued more. If I am for social justice, and the #blacklivesmatter movement where I advocate for the value of each person deserving a fair and justice filled life, then I need to rise up above the hypocrisy of wearing an unethically made top while screaming black lives matter. So I officially declare myself off of all fast fashion retailers. That is a call for me. Of course, I understand that not everyone shares my sentiments and sees it as stark hypocrisy, and I also understand that boycotting and changing bad habits that a society has taught you is hard to do, and it takes a lot of time. So this post isn’t to condemn those that still wear the collections of fast fashion retailers. Trust me, it’s hard to resist when you’re walking down 3rd Street Promenade.

As for me, helloooooo thrifting.

xx

P.S. If anyone has any advice on how to go about this journey of supporting fair trade clothing please comment below or email me. I would love to hear your story and take some advice.

P.S.S. The documentary is also on Netflix

P.S.S.S. Future posts will feature certain pieces from fast fashion retailers, but these are purchases made prior to me viewing the film. From here on out the transition begins.

-A

AfroPunk 2019: My Experience

[[Disclaimer: Grab a cup of tea. This is a long post.]]

I wrote about Afropunk Festival in 2016.

The festival completely changed my perception of myself when I scrolled through Tumblr, taking in the images of the vastly different types of black people that I never knew existed in the world. Punks, Emos, Zionists, Spiritualists. I’d bookmark the images and use them as inspo for my style.

If you know me already, you know I grew up in the Inland Valley Empire in California. My yardstick for “alternative black” was FeFe Dobson (girl, a throwback) a punk rocker who was occasionally on TV. But even at that, Fefe was half-white so I had zero clue where I, a Nigerian-American who loved anime, shopping at Hot Topic, and head-banging to Sum 41 would fit in back then. For years, I heavily anticipated the style roundups at AfroPunk because my everyday life was generally starved of alternative black people looking magnificent. Moreso, the images reiterated to me that I could and CAN fit in. Fast forward a few years. Not only has my understanding of black identity expanded greatly, but my appreciation for it deepened when I got to attend my first AfroPunk festival last Saturday. And it obviously was one for the books.

SO for the juicy stuff. You’re all probably wondering what happened.

My game plan that day was this: To go and take in all the beauty that alternative black culture had to offer music and style wise. My plan was to get some content up for my social media, but ultimately it was a day meant for me. I had planned a month before knowing that I wanted to go in “Yeehaw” attire mainly because I wanted to pay homage to the revival of black yeehaw culture that Lil Nas X spearheaded this year. Black people have been giddyup-ing and wrangling for hundreds of years but were intentionally eclipsed by the John Waynes and Tim McGraws of the world. All a product of racist media. So to see the reclamation of the black cowboy/gal in pop culture had me jazzed.

So I get on the festival grounds, and I’m looking for some cute rings in the vendor section when suddenly, a man with a DSLR pulls me aside, tells me how much he appreciates and loves my look and proceeds to ask me to pose for the camera. I obliged. And soon after, there was another photographer crouched down simultaneously trying to get the shot as well. It was surreal. I stood there, POSING FOR MY LIFE, as festival-goers  rubbernecked, gave me nods of approval and stated a couple of “YAAAAAAAAAS’s”.

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This happened various times throughout the day. I would be walking to another stage to catch a performance when Fashionista or a personal blog pulled me aside to snap a shot. At one point, my friend Gabby and I were sitting on this beautiful piece of South African tapestry on the grass and it became an impromptu prop. The second I wrapped it around myself the photographers came flooding in. Two of which were Target and Refinery29. Again. SURREAL.

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By that time I was buzzed. The recognition I was getting for my outfit was extremely rewarding. Yes, it was cute, but ultimately people saw that I was celebrating a section of black culture had generally been seen as traditionally non-black. But in reality,  cowboys/gals are very very black. And that to me, meant the world.

So, Vogue.

Again, I was in-between shows, waiting for a friend and at this point the festival was fully packed with people in crazier, more interesting and outlandish outfits. Out of nowhere, two people walked up to me and said,

“Hi, we’re with Vogue and we’d love to feature you.”

“This. Is. It.” I thought as I followed them over to a section of the festival where they had set up a makeshift studio.

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Before I got on set, the Vogue writer interviewed me about why I chose my outfit and the meaning behind it–all of this now available on vogue.com. Once that was done, I met the photographer/videographer on set along with his assistants and they gave me simple instructions on how they wanted me to pose for footage. It was then that I had this moment of extreme lucidity of realizing that the last 6 years of me practicing with my own blog was culminating in this moment. But not just any moment. A moment with VOGUE MAGAZINE. It was then that I remembered the first janky camera I bought with my own money in 2013, and all the years of pulling non-photographer and photographer friends aside to do shoots “just for fun” in my backyard, random alleyways and DTLA. All of the memories flooded my thoughts as I stared into this enormous camera that closed in on my face. I was nervous but sheer muscle memory reminded me how to purse my lips, move my eyes and highlight my best angles. SURREAL. I glanced into the crowd that had formed in front of me watching me do my thing and felt extreme pride flow through me. I was prepared for this. I was ready for this. This is my moment.

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As quickly as it started, it ended and before I knew it, I had hopped on a flight back to LA. When I landed, I was greeted with a barrage of text messages from people telling me that I had made it to Vogue’s Instagram. I probably watched the video thousands of times, shocked that, that was my face. Shocked that me, an unknown Nigerian-American girl from the I.E. had made the FIRST post of the day on Vogue. Shocked that an idea to document my style journey with a camera 6 years ago would lead up to this. Shocked that a girl who once couldn’t stand her face in the mirror was now watching a video of that same face up close and personal. And that now, my words and images are presently immortalized on their website.

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Guys. Dreams do come true. You just have to keep moving forward. Keep going. Keep showing up to all the things. Because it only takes one second to pop off.

Today, my 15 minutes are over, but I know that the opportunities are endless. Last weekend ignited a fire in me that I felt was dimming a bit due to the ebbs and flows of life. Last week reminded me that what I have done and am currently doing is not in vain and that it only takes one second for your whole life to change. The question is, will you be prepared? If not, are you preparing?

xx

-A

ONE MORE THING: This also happened.

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((I want to give a special shout out to Gabrielle Miller who played the AMAZING role of Instagram husband and manager that day. In the hoopla of getting my photos taken, she took my phone and also made sure to get footage for my social media, reminded me to exchange @ handles, and network with all the people I had met. You got a budding social media career? She’s ya girl.))

 

 

 

 

 

Parisian Goth

I remember in middle school when it was cool to be a goth/scene/skater kid, or some mix of the three and my main frustration with that style was that I had no black women to look up to or take note from regarding that look.

Fast forward a decade later and that is no longer the case. Social media has not only democratized fashion, but it’s globalized and expanded my conceptions of fashion. Certain “looks” don’t just belong to white people–black people, asian people, latinx people can all stake their claim on any style they feel is most true to them. My realization that black folks can be punk/goth while also remaining true to their diasporic aesthetic happened when I stumbled upon Brooklyn’s Afropunk Festival back in the day (when it was free and unriddled with gentrification).  I talk about that revelation in a previous post. Presently, I have plenty of women to draw inspo from.

People often ask me what my style icons are and I have a very eclectic bunch that I hold very dear to my heart. To name a few, Solange Knowles for her bold colors and unique take on layering. Julia Sarr Jamois for her unabashed commitment to comfort chic–she always looks comfortable in her clothing but still manages to slay the heck out of an outfit. And of course, the OG style icon who was the catalyst to my style journey, Denise Huxtable, aka 90s Lisa Bonet. She didn’t shy away from masculine, big silhouettes that had the potential to drown her petite frame. Her character was headstrong, opinionated and her clothes reflected that.

This outfit I put together take note of all three of these women. The red beret and cherry earrings were inspired by the feminine and cliché notions of French style, but juxtaposed with my black turtleneck crop and checkered pants that is reminiscent of goth casual,  it creates an ensemble that makes the outfit interesting to look at. I had to pair it with my Dr Marten Jadons, which are very comfortable and add an even tougher feel to the look. Lastly, as an added touch I threw on a sheer mesh dress as if my outfit wasn’t already doing a lot haha!

These are the types of outfits that remind me why I love dressing myself. To me, it’s more than just the functionality of clothing yourself. Its about creating and tweaking, and experimenting until you come out with a finished product that screams of YOU.

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Thanks to my roommate Akeallah Blair who snapped these photos for me. Whatta gal.

Follow me on Instagram!

xx

-A

Foliage

I got this tree a few months ago on a whim because my room was so beige n boring and it was driving me crazy. So I hopped onto Target and bought the first (fake, because I don’t have a green thumb in the slightest) plant available.

So far, it has not only livened up my bedroom, but has served as a wonderful studio prop for fashion photography. I find it really interesting how a plant can turn a blasé background into something that centers your focus visually. Here are some experimental shots I took with my friend Ify one weekend when we felt like we needed some aimless/pretty content for our grams.

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As for other creative things, I’m super excited to share with you guys the current spec project that I’m working on once it’s released! It’s my first legit styling gig and the team that I’m working with is awesome.

In the meantime follow me on my main Instagram and my styling Instagram!

xx

-Adaobi

Le Bricoleuse

Greetings internet,

In the last two months of a mixture of gut-wrenching life-crisis, confusion, and fleeting bouts of joy and thankfulness, I took a leap of faith and started a styling side project. I call it Le Bricoleuse Styling and I have a whole Instagram dedicated to it. I showcase my own personal style, but my main focus right now is to build a list of clients that desire my services and my eye for conceptual style. The long-term goal is to style editorial or creative projects and so far, I have a gig!

I doubt I can say too much about the project, but I am doing freelance styling for a boutique agency and I am so gassed about it. It’s stretching my abilities a bit because it’s a menswear line and I’m used to styling women, but one thing I’ve learned since finishing school is that the stretching never stops!

Meanwhile, I have been using friends as styling subjects to get some work going. This was a fun and breezy shoot because my subject Gabby, is effortless in front of the camera (that was particularly helpful because I am not a professional photographer by any means). I styled, photographed and edited the whole ordeal. Pretty proud of the finished product and am currently scouting for my next face. Could it be you? If you live in the LA area and are interested, drop me a DM via my Instagram or comment below!

xx

-A

 

The World’s Shortest Skin Care Routine

I promise. It’s just 3 steps.

In early 2017 I had theeee worst breakout of my life. Cystic acne. Cystic acne everywhere. Chin, cheeks, nose (not the nose!!), you name it. I tried every method out there to get rid of self-esteem killer–and little did I know that my diet was the real culprit of my face freakout.

So in addition to being non-dairy for a year now (yes, dairy is probably the culprit to your lifelong issues with acne but doctors don’t want to tell us this!)–I’ve incorporated a simpler skin routine that is less costly and for the lazy inclined.

Step 1: Cleanse

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Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser is the best facial cleanser I have ever applied on my face. It’s so luxurious to the touch and even though my face is oil-prone, I feel like it melts away all the layers of dead skin and makeup built up throughout the day. When I’m in the shower, I allow for steam to open up my pores before I pump the product into my palms. It leaves your face feeling clean but properly moisturized. It doesn’t feel stripped. Never going back to over-drying chemically-heavy drugstore cleansers.

Step 2 (ish): Face Mask

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Nobody told me that face masks are a game changer in skin care so when I snagged this from my local CVS and started to use it three times a week I was, as the youngins’ say, “shooketh”. I would apply the mask immediately after I showered and waited for 20 minutes while perusing Instagram. Not only was it therapeutic to have a mini spa session right before bed, it left my skin feeling plumper and detoxed. It does have a tingling sensation that could be interpreted as burning though. I don’t mind and it doesn’t have any negative effects on my skin, but it’s important to always check in with your skin so that you’re not putting unfavorable products on it. (Included in the slideshow is also the Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack–facial mask. This also gave me the same results, but I know that this CVS brand is $10 as opposed to $22 if you’re trying to save a buck.)

Step 3: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!

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This last step was probably another reason why my cystic acne was off the charts. I wasn’t properly moisturizing. The truth about acne, aside from diet, is that an over-production of oil on your face can eventually seep into your pores, become infected and voila! You got a nasty one forming. BUT, if you properly moisturize (especially at night when your body is doing all it’s repair work) your skin won’t have the need to overcompensate with oil! I learned this from watching Liah Yoo’s Youtube channel dedicated to all things acne and skin care. She warns against moisturizers that just “sit on top of the skin.” With the Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich, it didn’t “sit” on my skin. How did I know that? When I woke up in the morning, I felt like my skin had some bounce to it. Try it yourself–you’ll thank me later.

I know, I sound like a talking billboard for Glossier–and I honestly wish I was and that they would pay me to promote them. They changed my skincare routine for the better and I think EVERYONE needs to have the answers. Granted their products aren’t drugstore prices–can you really put a price on healthy skin?????

xx

-A

Let’s Talk About Body Lava

And briefly why I’m so late to the game.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been moving for the past two weeks or that I graduated with a Master’s degree. Perhaps those are the reasons as to why I didn’t catch on to the amazingness that is Fenty Beauty’s Body Lava.

My interest was first piqued when I saw someone on Instagram (of course) buffing the dewy concoction on their collarbone in a short 5-second video. I was then led to the 10-minute Vogue video of Rihanna guiding us viewers through her makeup routine (which was really pleasant to watch because the girl’s personality is so surprisingly disarming–whatta gift!) and then towards the end you witness her slathering a generous amount of Body Lava on her chest and shoulder.

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It was then that I decided that I MUST have it. I don’t know about you but ever since the dewy trend (spearheaded into the mainstream by Glossier I think) has taken the beauty-sphere by storm, I have had a grand ol’ time reveling in the fact that I have been on the “dewy”, borderline sweaty, train the day that my facial sebaceous glands started overreacting during puberty. Now when people ask, “Are you oily?” I can respond, “Nah fam, I’m dewy.” What a time to be alive! And to also give proper credit, my mom (the most moisturized female I have ever met. I have never once seen one streak of ashy on her in my 24 years of living) has been on the dewy tip circa 2000 when she taught me and my sister to put baby oil on our bodies immediately after we jumped out of the shower (thank you, Johnson & Johnson).

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Now with Body Lava, inspired by Rihanna’s Barbadian roots, she has made it totally cool to be a glowing light bulb all over. She is making oily great again and I’m livinggggg for it. Who said that highlighter is limited to the cheekbones? Some might find the whole thing preposterous. To that I say, come over here and let me dust some Killawatt on ya cheeks.

xx

-A

Moving Break

Taking a 20-minute break from packing up my stuff to give a quick update,

So in the past 5 months I had the pleasure of being drowned in final exams, a thesis, and life so to sum up, this cool thing happened:

That’s Master Adaobi to YOU!

So what’s next? Good question! All I know is that I’m ready to spearhead my career in the fashion/beauty industry and I don’t care how I go about it.

Another update: I’ve collaborated with an up-and-coming website called Shopary a spinoff of Shopify, and modeled a few of their products for their store. Here is one photo from the shoot:

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Excited to share with you guys more on this blog now that free time is…well a little bit more accessible. Stay Tuned…

xx

-A

Mindful Minimalism

Minimalism is 90% the mind.

I’ve begun to take the practice seriously for this year by culling my closet, old paperwork, and other miscellaneous items that I had been storing up for a year now. But I began to run into problems. I unearthed old papers that I wrote in undergrad and didn’t want to throw them away. I began to read old Christmas/birthday cards and felt my attachment to these cards grow. I would pull out an old unworn jacket, put it on and convince myself that I should give it 3 more months in my closet. That was when I realized that minimalism is 10% of getting rid of stuff physically, but you got to do the 90% work of psychologically letting go.

If you type minimalism on YouTube you’ll find hundreds of tutorials and how-to’s. The first thing they always tell you to do is to make three big piles of 1. stuff you want 2. stuff you don’t want 3. and the “eh we’ll see” pile. They never tell you how to properly handle the “eh we’ll see pile” and perhaps that is due to the fact that before you become a true minimalist you have to do some deeper work to find out why you are so attached to certain items, find a way to make peace with it and eventually let it go. No minimalist guru on YouTube can teach you how to do this deeper work.

For example, despite the fact that my Christmas/birthday card box is taking up way too much space in my closet, and it’ll be one of those boxes that will annoy me when I eventually move out again, the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I read other people’s notes to me continuously prevents me from throwing them out. The notes remind me that I’m seen and loved. Do I need to keep those cards to remind myself of that? No. But nonetheless that’s the barrier I’m running into.

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Of course there is no hard and fast rule to minimalism. If birthday cards (or anything else for that matter) are an absolute must for you to keep because it genuinely brings you joy then by all means keep it. But you surely can tell the difference between something that gives you joy and an unhealthy attachment.

In all, I’m learning that minimalism is a process. I’ve witnessed the finished products of other minimalist’s lives, but I got to remember that they didn’t cull their life in one hour. It took time to get to their place of satisfaction and ultimately, I have to figure out what level of minimalism I’m comfortable with. Because minimalism is not about arbitrarily throwing things away–it’s about creating more space to include the things you truly enjoy and implementing the lost art of discipline in all aspects of your life.

I spent a few hours this week watching tiny home tours for inspiration. Here is the channel I follow for your viewing pleasure.

xx

-A

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