The Future is…Danielle Heard

It was the cute bowtie that caught my attention. I’d seen Danielle post several times on a Black woman’s website we both visit. I enjoyed her thoughtful commentary. I always wanted to ask her about her bowties. One day, someone started a thread encouraging people to promote their side gigs. Danielle shared briefly about her bowtie venture. It was an opportunity to learn more!

Hello! Thank you for the interview. Tell us about yourself. 

Firstly, I was born in Frankfurt, Germany via military and experienced various countries, languages, and peoples…thus my engagement with learning about the world outside of the United States began. Those formative years shaped me into the individual I am today, because when you have the birth situation or opportunity to experience culture outside of the U.S., you’re able to intellectually flex your brain muscles a tad more to engage with a lot of really heavy topics. We eventually moved back to the U.S., to a military base, (surprise-surprise) and that’s where I’ve been intermittently since.

Second, I’ve always had natural hair, which I have to brag about because Black Women have been given so much scorn and belittling because of the way our hair naturally grows out of our scalp. Our hair is the most versatile and beautiful work of art: mohawks, high tops, braids, locs, curls, afros, bantu knots, etc. The sky is really the limit with our hair and it never fails to leave me speechless. Praise be and blessings to my Mother who saved my Sister and I from a lot of self hate.

Third, I identify as Ace-greysexual. This was a process of self discovery that was as confusing as it was educational because I knew about the main umbrella/lettering but the periphery letters so often get left off of the promotional materials, you know? I always felt like I was standing on the outside looking in when the topic of romantic and sexual relationships came up. I had no interest and the synapses that were supposed to ignite, didn’t even fizzle. I’ve learned that I’m not alone, an outlier, and more than anything broken.

Fourth, when I’m not working on content, you can catch me at the gym or working out at home. I got into powerlifting and various muscle training exercises while I was at University. It’s super cathartic, an incredible way to decompress, and great for my health. When I personally channel my own vanity, it’s for mental health and to combat some body dysmorphia issues that used to pop up for me.

I am excited about your upcoming bowtie business. I know you love fashion, but why specifically bowties? Any challenges you’ve faced as a Black woman entrepreneur? When will products be available for purchase?  

Bowties have always been fascinating to me; I’ve always been enamored by their shapes and how they rest on/around the neck. Plus, I puzzled when I was little, where/how do you tie these? I bought my first bow tie when I was in Undergraduate school and am reaching closer and closer to 100. They are so much more exquisite in form, function, and variety to me than neckties. Alongside bowties, I have a sizable hat collection and collect more when my funds permit. The motivating factor in starting this business venture was minimal job opportunities after I graduated—and not living in a state where a fashion store or company could easily pick me up—with my particular niche/expertise.

Also, my Grandmother who passed away two years ago was a sewer, knitter, crocheter, needle-pointer, and anything else you can imagine with fabric. She made various clothes for her children, drapes and curtains, quilts, pillowcases, and so much more. My main regret is missing out on crucial learning time about her and with her; Dementia gradually sapped her mind and her voice. But, her legacy will continue in a way through her grandchild that wants to take up her mantle and sewing machine. I’ve faced no challenges thus far with my business (praying that the waters don’t become rough). My market has so much untapped potential that I personally feel that people will be knocking my website door down to make a purchase.

There’s so many businesses that by proxy of having a Black Woman (or Black queer woman) attached do incredibly well. My Grandmother has so much fabric, sewing machines, needles, thread, etc. that purchasing essentials may be nil to very inexpensive. At most, the domain for my website may cost a bit through Squarespace, but once I launch later this year, everyone should be on the lookout for something truly special!

You shared you’re an avid reader. I love to read too! My latest obsession is N.K. Jemisin (science fiction/fantasy). What books do you enjoy reading? 

Thanks for the recommendation! I really need to get into more science fiction books because I love the science fiction genre, especially in film, plus I know it’s really grown and has tons of Black Women and Black people as leads. I read a lot of social justice, history, feminist, environmental, sci-fi, horror, and video game texts. I’m a logophile nerd that loved reading the dictionary and competing in spelling bee competitions, so of course I read everything!

There’s a book that was released recently called, Let’s Talk About Love by a young Black female author named Claire Kann. You’ve got to check out the cover too, you will be overwhelmed by its beauty. The story follows a young Black Woman that’s trying to navigate her relationships as an Asexual person, and its representation like that, which was severely lacking when I was a child/young person trying to navigate the world as a non-overtly sexual Black person. The media we ingest so often over-sexualizes Black people so that when you don’t fall into that spectrum, you feel like an otherized other inside of another otherness.

I also just downloaded the comic Bingo Love, it’s about two Black girls that fall in love in the 1960s, society forces them to change/act heteronormatively, get married yada, yada, yada…however their story doesn’t end there…when they’re much older in their sixties they reconnect in a Bingo Hall and rekindle the same love that was snatched away so many years earlier. The story and then the artwork had me hooked immediately, Black Women loving each other outside of a cis-hetero framework, sign me all the way up!

Continue reading “The Future is…Danielle Heard”

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Karyn Washington & Domineque Banks

On Friday, Black women bloggers were shocked to learn about the death of Karyn Washington. Washington was the founder of the website For Brown Girls and the #DarkSkinRedLip Project. We were doubly shocked to learn her death was due to an apparent suicide. She was only 22-years-old.

I have never met Karyn, but I received a post from her once.  I run another blog and posted about the  #DarkSkinRedLip Project Karyn responded, thanking me for the shout out. I never imagined that it would be my only opportunity to connect with her.

It hurts my heart to know that while Karyn was doing so much to empower other young black women, she was dealing with her own struggles/pain. In an article on Karyn, For Harriet wrote:

“We don’t know Karyn’s story. Perhaps she, like many other “strong” black women did an incredible job of masking her pain. Or, it’s equally as possible that she recognized that she needed help and sought treatment for mental illness. What we know is that something went terribly wrong and we owe it to Karyn, and others with similar struggles, to find out what happened and work to fix it.” http://www.forharriet.com/2014/04/all-is-not-well-with-our-girls-when.html#more

Amen

In her short life, Karyn did more than most folks.  I have much respect for her/her work.

Rest in Peace Karyn…

karyn_washington.jpg.CROP.rtstory-large

While trying to process Karyn’s passing, Black women bloggers were also alerted to the passing of Domineque Banks. Banks was a popular natural hair advocate on YouTube. She went by the name Longhairdontcare2011. Domineque had lupus:

“No one knows for sure what causes lupus. But some groups of people have higher rates of lupus. African-American women are three times more likely to get lupus than white women. African-American women tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms than white women.” http://womenshealth.gov/minority-health/african-americans/lupus.html

When she Domineque passed, she was only 27-years-old. Last year, I was bummed when I turned 40. It seems silly now, when thinking about the deaths of these young women. Time is not guaranteed to any of us, we should never take it for granted.

While I am natural, I wasn’t aware of the work of Domineque. However, she was obviously loved by other natural hair advocates on YouTube. There have been some nice tributes.

Rest in Peace Domineque

DIY Black Women-4

I’m a zinester. What’s a zinester? It’s someone who makes zines. What’s a zine? Zine is a take on the word “magazine” it’s a form of DIY self-publishing.  I live on the West Coast and zine culture is very popular here. Zines are typically done by younger folks. Those in their early 20’s. So, I’m a nontraditional zinester 🙂  However, all ages can make them. Zines tend to be typically made by marginalized groups whose voices are left out of mainstream media . These folks include: radical women of color,  activists/feminists of color, LGBTQ folks of color, anarchists, prison abolitionists, sex workers, etc.

I became a zinester by accident. I needed to do a creative project for a class and a friend suggested I make a zine. I had never heard about zines before. I researched and liked the concept of it. I’ve been part of zine culture ever since. I host workshops for women of color zinesters/DIY publishers as we are still underrepresented in the NW.  It’s definitely getting better, though 🙂

The People of Color Zine Project is a great resource  if you want to learn more about the history/activism of people of color zinesters/DIY artists.

Check out this fun video on how to make a zine:

I hope you enjoyed this week on DIY projects! Have a great weekend 🙂

Chrisette Michele YouTube Channel

Why Chrisette Michele hasn’t blown up is beyond me. She has an amazing voice and catalog of music. Michele is in the group of black female singers (Jazmine Sullivan, Fantasia, Kelly Price, etc.)  underrated/ ignored in favor of mainstream media promotion of the Rihannas/Beyonces. It’s a combination of these women being brown-skinned/full-figured/less sexual in their music and appearance.

I personally loved Chrisette Michele’s “Epiphany” album…

Michele has created a YouTube channel to explore fashion/makeup. The debut video is too cute and you can hear her singing in the background. It’s a fun combination. I wish her well on this new venture!!

Photo from: www.bet.com
Photo from: http://www.bet.com

Harriet Tubman Sex Tape “Comedy”

I’ve been side-eyeing hustle Russell Simmons since he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show Back in 2009, Oprah facilitated a “Hip Hop Town Hall,” on her show.  Young black women from Spelman college, shared their concerns about the misogyny/sexism/degradation of black women’s bodies in some rap music and videos. Throughout the show, Simmons often rolled his eyes at the young women and outright talked down to them. I found it interesting, as he probably would get major attitude if someone treated his nieces the same way. But hey, those young black women weren’t related to him, so why should he give a damn?

Over the years, Simmons has shown himself to be sexist and anti-black woman. I don’t care about interracial relationships, I really don’t. However, I have issues with SOME black men who continue to harp on the failings of black women, when they have supposedly moved on to “greener pastures.” If you finally found a “real woman,” why are you still complaining about black women? Simmons has engaged in this behavior in subtle ways. His most blatant disrespect of black women/community, was his silence when a past white girlfriend engaged in paternalistic/patronizing/Miss Anne behavior in a  wack letter to black folks (really black women). *Middle Finger*

I could write several posts about Simmons’s Rush Card and the predatory fees on poor communities of color. So, I’m not surprised he co-signed this insulating imagery of Harriet Tubman. But that’s what happens when you think your money/power makes you a “special” black person. You start to lack respect for the people who paved the way for you…