Abundance

by Tahirah Hairston

All images by Dana Scruggs.

 

Welcome to the newly-designed All the Pretty Birds site!

The theme of our relaunch is ABUNDANCE, as it has been such an important principle to our team in 2019. Read more about Tamu on ABUNDANCE. Plus today, June 21st is the first day of Summer, aka Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. To celebrate our launch we asked some of our favorite creatives to look within themselves and to know that they have the resources to make magic and miracles happen. Enjoy these images by the prolific photographer, Dana Scruggs, which share the soul of each of these amazing creative professionals. Please join us and be inspired by the gems of their wisdom and experience.

 

Victor Glemaud, Fashion Designer

On Abundance:
I feel the most abundant when my team and I are working on something we all love and when everyone is paid. This provides me with time to focus on expressing my creative vision clearly. While being able to focus on my personal life (loved ones and myself) when we finish working.

On Staying Grounded:

In winter 2010, I stopped and I listened to myself completely. I looked at my then-recent failures and successes with no judgment. I took the time—four to five years—to check my ego. I started taking care of my mind, body and spirit by working out and drinking less, I stopped smoking, clubbing and drugs and I became more fiscally responsible. These changes did not manifest all at once. It was an arduous metamorphosis which took far longer than I expected. But I came out of it more focused and eager to rebuild, which is what I continue to do every single day.

On Finding Meaning in Work:

I find deeper meaning in my work when it’s the most authentic. My collection started to resonate with a wider audience when I started making it more personal and truly put my bold, optimistic, brash self into all the garments.

On Gratitude:

I’m grateful for my health, and family and friends. I practice gratitude by being present and available as much as I can.

 

Coco and Breezy Dotson, DJs and Founders of Coco and Breezy Eyewear
On Abundance:

Growing up and coming from a very humble household where we’ve been financially on our own since we were 15, we felt the abundance of love. Our parents allowed us to show our creativity through our style, and they pushed us to go for our goals. So even though they couldn’t provide for us financially, they provided emotional support, and they showed us so much love and that was more than anything that we needed. Love was way more important than money.

On Gratitude:

Every morning Coco and I wake up and we talk about the things that we’re grateful for. We have the mindset of not only being grateful for the quote unquote, great things in life. But we learned to really step back and appreciate even the little things and allow that to bring us happiness. So I’m always thinking about even the smallest things I’m grateful for, like living in New York and having great people in our lives.

On Finding Themselves:

Coco and I weren’t feeling very full or happy with our lives when we discovered that we needed to find our individuality. Growing up as twins, we, of course shared the same interests. We loved all the same things. But we never took the time out to figure out who Coco was without Breezy, and who Breezy was without Coco. There’s no way that we could know our full potential if we were giving our own selves 50/50, we had to step back and I had to put 100% in myself and Coco had to put 100% into herself. Once we figured out who we were without each other, and we found our individuality, we were both able to truly be fully happy within ourselves.

 

Brandice Henderson-Daniel, Founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row  

On Abundance:

In 2014, my father had a stroke. It was totally unexpected; he was healthy or so we thought. When that happened, my perspective on everything changed. I saw how my family rallied around him and my mom to give them everything they needed, but mostly love. I realized that in that moment, there is nothing that love can’t heal and that love is what truly makes you abundant.

On Staying Grounded:

I have those times on and off when I know that my focus is off, that I’m not practicing gratitude, and that I’m not taking care of myself. The first thing I do is go to the scripture. My faith guides me and I find a passage in the bible that I can hold on to. Then, I go somewhere quiet to reconnect with myself. I start thinking of everything I’m grateful for and I immediately start to feel better.

On Finding Meaning in Work:

When I started Harlem’s Fashion Row, I felt there was something deeper in fashion. I can’t explain it, but something about seeing and feeling a designer’s work speaks to me. When I researched and discovered that designers of color represented less than 1% of designers in the market, I wanted to be a solution. I started small. I did what I could with what I had and it just grew. Now, 12 years later I get to not only create bridges for designers of color, but I also get to mentor them and help grow their businesses. It’s a dream come true.

 

Miko Underwood, Designer and Healer

On Abundance:
Abundance appeared in my life when I took a hard look inward. I emphasize hard look because it wasn’t an overnight process. It was a process, but I began to view life from a new perspective, through the lens of gratitude. When I let go of what I thought I didn’t have and came into awareness of what I’m grateful for everything in my life began to shift accordingly.

On Staying Grounded:  

As a design director, I would work and travel a lot and I would often use my work as an excuse to avoid dealing with any issues happening in my personal life. Overworking was a way I could feel validated and escape simultaneously. But something began to happen in the midst of it all that shifted my lifestyle, I had a few health scares as a result of draining my energetic resources. In the end, it was a broken leg that immobilized me and virtually stopped me in my tracks. I felt as if the universe was demanding me to be still and at that point I had no choice but to surrender. I refocused my attention and took the time to listen and feel all that was moving within me. That year changed my life dramatically. I shared my journey in a gallery exhibition and online journal, I practiced a strict alkaline diet and meditation became the path for me to reset.

On Finding Meaning In Work:  
This was something I struggled with for years, working with national and fast fashion brands it took quite some time for me to get to developing a solid brand. I’ve always wanted to create a brand with purpose, authenticity and integrity. Oak & Acorn is a brand that is truly an extension of my lifestyle. I practice what I call holistic sustainability and that means at every touchpoint my goal is to make an impact.

Oak + Acorn is the first sustainable denim brand in Harlem. Our signature item is the Rebelle Coverall which honors the farmer, the worker, the enslaved and the prisoner and pays homage to the critical contributions of our enslaved african and indigenous ancestors. With every sale, we support WeGotUsNow, a national movement for children and young adults impacted by parental incarceration. There are over 10 million children who have experienced parental incarceration in their lifetimes, including me. My Dad, William Underwood, is currently serving 30 years on a life without parole sentence under laws that have now been deemed unconstitutional.

 

Simon Alcantara, Jewelry Designer

On Abundance:

Being in nature has always been a deep experience for me, for that I thank my maternal grandfather. As a boy I would see him every summer for two weeks in the Dominican Republic. At the time I wasn’t aware that he was pointing to something inside me and  teaching me to “see”. He was teaching me to be present by observing every detail around me and to sense with my heart, my body, and my ears what could not be seen simply by looking with my eyes.

I remember the first time he pulled a cassava root out of the soil. Up to that point I had not made the connection that the yucca I loved with melted butter for breakfast came from the ground. As I started to look around I realized that everything we ate came from this beautiful land full of trees bearing fruit and flowers, it became a magical kingdom for me. Everything we needed to live and to be joyful was surrounding us. A seed was planted within me.

True abundance is not about having things, to me real abundance is a state of being in the flow of love. When we are in that state of being the world mirrors it right back to us and spreads like beautiful trees and flowers across a landscape. When we’re sending out that signal everything we need can reach us.

On Staying Grounded:

There are certain rituals that I follow in order to stay in rhythm with the universal flow.  I start my day by scanning and thanking my body from my toes all the way to my head, “Thank you toes, arches, heels, and ankles for allowing me to walk and dance…”

Then I get up and do some yoga for about 20 minutes. Next I meditate, for another 20, followed by a gratitude journal. I finish by spending another 20 minutes reading something inspiring and uplifting. It’s been trial and error for me. But, when I do this for myself I thrive and everything in my life works. It’s magical.

On Luck:

I don’t believe in luck. That concept limits the possibility of alignment for most people. I have worked my ass off internally and externally. My blessings that reflect back into the world are a result of that work. I know when I’m thriving it’s because my signal is crystal clear. My thoughts, words, and actions are life-affirming. I believe the universe is impersonal when it is looking to express itself. It will choose the vessel that is most willing and aligned with life force. This is important to know because it means that anyone with awareness can shift their signal at any moment.  

 

Mia Wright Ross, Designer

On Abundance:  

I grew up in the church, so I was taught the language of “abundant life and living”. I remember the first time I learned about the prefix “omni” [in reference  to omnipresent] and it intrigued me that this small portion of a word could describe an all encompassing flowing nature. I think my expansive brain just took that and ran with it. So my attachment to abundant living has little to do with monetary value, but it’s focused more on the flow of value systems that feel most passionate and true to me. And with that as my focus, money then works as a benefit of an abundant mentality.

On Staying Grounded:
I am learning to release myself from the need of always needing to be happy. Sometimes my spirit needs be to make space for sadness to release trauma or triggers. So I make room for that space. This to me is also a level of abundance as well. I’m full of everything: joy, love, pain, grief, but the way in which I process each of those moments is to feel them completely. Not to hide them from myself. I am the one person I always have to be 100% with, even when I am not at my happiest.

On Finding Meaning In Work:  

I can’t do anything that is not true to me and my values. My body won’t physically let me do it. My work has always sought to connect, connecting through storytelling, artisanship, education. My passion is how I create a deeper value system that I can agree with. The transitory nature of the fashion industry is a pace that I have always worked in, but have recently realized I have never agreed with. I enjoy the fact that my work is a slow burn, something to be acquired, studied, and archived.  

On Gratitude:

Right now, I am so grateful for my level of courage. Navigating trust for myself and my abilities has been an intriguing journey for most of my life. But I am learning to jump off the cliff for myself. I am learning that I am worth more than the doubt I feel of failing.

 


Solange Franklin Reed, Stylist

On Abundance:

I didn’t grow up wishing for anything financially. My mom was very deliberate to not create an environment where material goods equated worth or value. I think her values freed my mind to pursue a life full of the intangible and spiritually essential: love, respect, genuine companionship. I was really confronted with the realization that valuing those things are active choices when I went away to college. Then again more seriously when I started my business because I had nothing.

On Staying Grounded:

A year or so ago, I didn’t feel how the inordinate amount of time and resources I spent on my career was aligning with my success. My personal life was unmoored and creating chaos, shifting how I thought of myself. I didn’t like anyone or anything. I realized if everyone else is a problem, then I can work on myself. Then, if I come back whole and happy and things are the same, my environment needs to change. I went to therapy and became clearer on boundaries, goals, and appreciation. I’m still a work in progress.

On Luck:

It’s impossible for me to look at my ancestors, my equally talented family members and wonder, why? Why did they need to struggle in a different way? So favor is present and what will I do with it? I feel existential dread when I feel I’m not living up to my potential some higher favor has granted.

On Working In Fashion and Finding Meaning In The Work:  

Superficial facts have created the most painful and powerful tools of power in our country and in the world. So, how I see it is that there’s value in countering the hurtful narratives. There’s power in controlling what we consume. I also think my creative needs are valid. I think art is a worthy pursuit.

On Gratitude:

When ego starts to chip away at my gratitude, I know I need to give to others. Anything from being generous and targeted with compliments — shouting an affirmation at a fabulous girl on the subway, sending a love note to a colleague whose work I admire and appreciate — to spending quality time with my mom. Saying the actual words “thank you” to my husband and most importantly to myself. I forget to thank myself for strength and resilience.

 

Johnathan Taylor, Designer

On Abundance:

Recently, I’ve developed the mentality that I no longer want ‘a blessing’ because typically we tend to believe that a blessing is just money or an opportunity. Instead I want to ‘live the blessing’ by really putting my best effort towards everything I do and have. I want the way I create to be a blessing—the way I think, the type of food I put in my body, the energy I put out, the way I travel, the type of father and husband I am. I believe my focus and effort towards all of those things are truly “living the blessing” and the ROI is my abundance.

On Staying Grounded:

Back in 2015, when I launched my line, I’d only been living in NYC for two years and at that time I’d humbly say that I “accidentally” accomplished my three-year goal in my first year of living here. So, I decided to go all in. The reaction and momentum started out great but the infrastructure wasn’t solid, so the most logical thing to do was put my line back on the shelf. It was a tough year, experiencing something that didn’t happen as planned truly affected me at the time. As far as my resolve? I just continued to chip away with this journey of mine. I felt even more resilient and I realized that it was a blessing to only have this as a problem.

On Luck:

I actually think the word lucky is insulting. Throughout my life, I’ve always envisioned what I wanted, and my mother would always tell me “faith without work is dead,” so my strategy was always to imagine it, believe in it, plan for it and accomplish it. However, I do believe in the concept of favor but I believe you have to put in the work to receive it. I would always tell people that I truly believe “momentum controls the universe “ and that momentum can simply come from ‘receiving a positive critique on your work as a design student’ or ‘efficiently executing a design project for a major company’. Continue to build off that momentum and the universe will reward you with favor.

 

Mecca James-Williams, Stylist

On Abundance:

I really realized feeling abundant is not synonymous with money and financial stability, when I reached a piece of that penecale, and still had a lot of work to do. I also learned this lesson as a child when seeing people with abundance in monetary wealth but not the same in spirituality and  gratitude.

For me, abundance is not about having a lot, it’s about perspective in finding the gifts in oneself to always have something to be blessed and grateful for. When you seek  abundance in objects and outside things from people to groups, you are always on a quest for more. When in reality, the life process and lesson of abundance is about the greatness within you! It’s the realest lesson to learn – and one that I am gradually.

On Staying Grounded:

I am very emotionally conscious, which can both fulfilling and complex. When the vibration is positive, that energy is magnificent. But when it’s complex, I am overwhelmed with anxiety. That alone keeps me conscious, and intentional of my process. When feeling unhappy or unsteady, I typically have to find a moment to cry – or it will burst out of me. After crying, I call a friend, my sister, or my mom. Their conversation alone makes me easy. Right now, I am learning how to work through feelings solo though,  with journaling, reading for fresh perspective, or immersing myself in something new within nature or NYC.

On Luck:

I think everyone has luck in some capacity. Some would say luck is a contradiction to blessings, but it is actually one of the best things God has given us. The  magic of something being for one person at a time (with preparation) is divine. I am also aware of the fact that I can say that from a position of privilege, whether that be geological or occupational.

 

Makeup Artist: Cate Ureña using MAC Cosmetics
Hair: Karl T. Payton – Hairstyles By Karl

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