MINT STANFORD UNIVERSITY
STYLE & CULTURE
“Lotus” 2 Photographed by Ben Lin
S P R I N G
2 0 1 8
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
Dear Reader, This one’s for the bold, the loud, and the reckless. After our meditative winter issue on self-care, we’re coming out with guns blazing. This issue dives headfirst into audacity, divergence, and that avocado-pelted word “millennial.” Our photographers explore Middle Eastern and African fashion in editorials about vibrant Turkish textiles and Nigerian ankara prints. We get pastel pops of spring colors in the sweet and floral editorials “Eye Candy” and “Flowers are Young.” We explore queerness and transformation in our “Metamorphosis” spread, which aligns with our first-ever MINT gala theme. Writers poked at what it means to be a millennial, with articles about CGI Instagram model Lil Miquela, irreverent fashion pieces emblazoned with words like “cunt,” and the meta nature of the “no makeup” makeup look. We would also like to acknowledge that, for the two of us graduating, it is our last issue editing MINT. It was our honor and delight to resurrect MINT in fall 2016 after the magazine’s hiatus. We have loved working with writers and seeing new life breathed into the publication with a vivacious directorial board. We are excited to watch MINT continue to break boundaries in the coming years. Stay bold, wild, and inquisitive—and as always, enjoy the magazine. Iman Floyd-Carroll, Becky Aydin, Divine Edem MINT Editors-in-Chief
CREATIVE DIRECTORS mirna EL-KHALILY tyler SU DESIGN DIRECTOR phoebe YAO DESIGNERS arkira CHANTARATANANOND eunice JUNG caitlin KLAUER gopal RAMAN izzy AMPIL jules ESPERO mei-lan STEIMLE nova MEURICE taylor SIHAVONH WRITING DIRECTORS becky AYDIN divine EDEM MODELING DIRECTOR ryan WIMSATT PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR iman FLOYD-CARROLL
MANAGING DIRECTOR elizabeth GERSON WEB CONTENT DIRECTOR annie NG WEB DIRECTORS mirna EL-KHALILY jackie ENNIS EVENTS DIRECTOR eilaf OSMAN EVENTS TEAM yasmin ELTAWIL daniel SANCHEZ serena SOH SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR carlos BUSTOS FINANCIAL OFFICER olivia GREGORY SPONSORSHIPS daniel SANCHEZ FOUNDING EDITOR ashley OVERBEEK
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF becky AYDIN divine EDEM iman FLOYD-CARROLL
ISSUE Eye Candy 8 The Me(dia) Generation 16 Bare & Bold 18 “A Seat at the Table” 22 Irreverent Fashion 32 Kimlik 34 Reclaiming the Porcelain Doll 40 NAIJA X Nikki Billie Jean 50 Floral Masculinity 58 Eleven Bexley 64 Flowers are Young 68 SWID Spotlight 74 Metamorphosis 78 Outtakes 82
Photgraphed by Iman Floyd-Carroll Modeled by Aamir Rashid, Eunice Jung, Tyler Hong, Caitlin Klauer, and Jaylen Jasper
THE ME(DIA) GENERATION: THE TAKEOVER OF DIGITAL INFLUENCERS Written by Julianna Yonis Illustrated by Caitlin Klauer Miquela Sousa is beautiful. With her smattering of freckles and shoulder length, bluntly cut hair twisted into her trademark space buns, the 19-year-old model is the epitome of the modern cool girl. It’s no wonder fashion brands are drooling to work with her, to photograph her, and to get their clothes featured on her social media accounts. A quick scroll through her Instagram, where she goes by Lil Miquela, reveals an affinity for oversized hoodies, ripped denim, and high necklines—a seamless mashup of high fashion, vintage, and streetwear. I kind of want to be her. The only problem is that Miquela isn’t real. She’s a CGI creation—a digital animation with 1.1 million loyal Instagram followers—who is further complicating our conception of reality and social media. Following a flurry of tabloid-worthy drama, Miquela recently released an intimate Instagram post in which she finally revealed, “I’m not a human being.” According to Miquela, her “managers” are a Los Angeles-based startup called Brud, who stole her technology from Cain Intelligence. But wait: Cain Intelligence doesn’t exist. And, Brud may not be as real as they claim either, although at some point, regardless of the company name, someone must be coding all of this.
As Miquela’s layers of fabricated backstory have played out across social media, her purpose has become increasingly unclear. Is she an art piece? A social experiment? A marketing strategy? Or maybe we have suddenly entered the world of Blade Runner? (Now I just want my flying car.) It is one thing to build CGI models. It is another to run them like humans, with friends (and enemies), drama played out in the press, and, inevitably, money flowing through their pockets as brands sponsor them. Lil Miquela is not an isolated phenomenon. CGI model Shudu, who is rendered as a darkskinned black woman, recently caused controversy after Fenty Beauty reposted an image of the self-described “digital supermodel” wearing the brand’s Mattemoiselle lipstick. Critics, like Instagram user @kingkhanya91, pointed out that a real life woman of color was denied the opportunity to be featured, replaced instead by a rendering created by a white, male artist’s hand. Shudu’s designer, photographer Cameron James Wilson, insisted in his February Harper’s Bazaar interview that, “It’s not trying to take away an opportunity from anyone or replace anyone. She’s trying to complement (black models).”
Yet it’s hard not to see his glamorization of Shudu as “the most beautiful woman in the world” as a form of exoticism. Furthermore, Shudu—with her elongated neck, sculpted body, and almost hauntingly symmetrical features—entrenches impossible beauty standards. My generation grew up trying to block out the Photoshopped images of female bodies that always seemed to scream, “you will never look like this.”
“What happens when the female bodies plastered in magazines, on billboards, and across social media are no longer even partially real?”
flimsy, aesthetically pleasing image. They should strive to be complex, flawed, empathetic. So much more than Miquela ever could be. Perhaps Miquela is ultimately here to teach us to be more “real” on our own feeds. To skip the photo editing apps—VSCO, UNUM, FaceTune—and to make our social media lives more like a scrapbook than a cultivated, digital marketing machine. I know I’m guilty of stressing over whether the colors in my feed match or whether it’s too late to post that picture of last week’s brunch. But, maybe it’s time to return to the original intention of these platforms: to connect real life people living in real places across the world. Maybe it’s time to be human again.
Yet Miquela’s supporters demonstrate that the influencer’s can be a force for good. Lil Miquela’s Instagram bio advocates for Black Lives Matter and touts a link to the (real) charity Black Girls Code. In recent posts, after “admitting” to being CGI, she even confessed ambivalence towards her identity as a woman of color because “‘brown’ was a choicemade by a corporation.” While I’m glad that the most famous digital model is designed to be woke, I wonder if her very existence is doing more harm than good. These plastic images, with no room for flaws in their coding, convince us that somehow our real lives are lacking glamour. Scrolling through Miquela’s feed, I wish I had freckles, more money for clothes, and more people invested in my online life. Maybe this is a problem with social media as a whole, with the ubiquity of the Kardashian ideal, but I think it only gets worse when we take the real human behind the façade away. People should have role-models with a real conscience and real problems. No matter how perfect you can make your feed, real people will still always make mistakes. CGI creatures can’t, because they don’t exist past the screen. Young girls should aspire to become more than a
Written by Catie Brown Photographed by Chloe Peterson-Nafziger, Alessandra Diaz Modeled by Dayonna Tucker, K. Euan Yang, Esther Tsvayg
BARE AND BOLD 18
busy students may not think much of foregoing makeup, allowing skin imperfections to be perfectly visible; but, celebrities are also joining in. For example, Alicia Keys has taken deliberate action in announcing that she is abstaining from heavy makeup products. In May 2016, she wrote in Lena Dunham’s newsletter Lenny Letter, “I hope to God it's a revolution. 'Cause I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.” And that’s what more people are turning to embrace in 2018: the perfection of imperfection, the beauty of letting flaws be visible. Especially when actresses and models suddenly resemble the ordinary teen girl, imperfect skin and all, the public takes notice. The idea of being honest with what we show the world, expressing our true selves, certainly is appealing. And companies market on this— just look at Aerie and their commitment to not photoshopping models in their ad campaigns. While this may seem like a step in the right direction, it is important to remember it is still a clothing company doing what it must in order to sell a product. As an individual, there is a power beyond clever marketing ploys that capitalize off of growing hunger for authenticity. Wearing no makeup only shows off one thing: yourself. In this way, the completely bare look, acne and all, differs from the established “no makeup” makeup look (i.e. makeup meant to look “natural”—just enough blush to look flushed, not enough as to make the appearance of makeup obvious). Wearing minimal makeup is still bowing to the advertisements and pressure to wear it. But allowing yourself to go without makeup is a rebellion in itself. However, this rebellion is not without reaction, particularly in the spheres of high fash-
ion and red carpet beauty. Even though director Greta Gerwig was lauded for having the lead actress Saoirse Ronan in her Oscar-nominated film Lady Bird have her acne visible, Ronan still met her fair share of online attacks. Similarly, Alicia Keys, with seemingly flawless skin, endured heavy scrutiny for her lack of makeup from social media users and even fellow The Voice coach Adam Levine. This discrepancy in public response could be explained by the fact that Ronan is an actress playing an everyday teenager, while Keys is a celebrity representing herself, and therefore Keys is held to a higher standard. But, if celebrities are considered to be the pinnacle of beauty, why canâ€™t their imperfections be beautiful too? We might try to embrace the flaws a majority of people face, but how can we do this while society demoralizes the most visible figures, celebrities, when they openly embrace these flaws? Whether itâ€™s a red carpet or a somewhat realistic film depicting teenaged life, in our reality, countless people battle with acne and other skin imperfections. Seeing past the myth that celebrities arenâ€™t part of this is just the first step to leveling the standards for everyone else and opening up a more authentic and inclusive definition of beauty.
A Seat At The Ta b l e
An Ode to the Sex-Positive African Girl Written by Abena Boaidi-Agyemang Photographed by Abena Boaidi-Agyemang Modeled by Chineye Ogbonnah, Abena Boaidi-Agyemang, Kemi Lijadu
The first time I was called the s-word
I had stuffed balled-up printer paper into the bust of my loosely fitted, green summer dress. I sashayed across the carpet of my living room floor. My prepubescent chest was now overcome with two deformed, paper “breasts.” Feigning maturity, I strutted on my tippy-toes, trying to emulate what I thought it meant to be a teenager. Then, my sister, a teenager herself at the time, strolled into my peripheral view. “You’re going to be a slut when you’re older,” she quipped. I froze. I was nineyears-old. I didn’t know what that word meant. Slut. But I did know the way my sister twisted up her face when she said it. I did know the way my mother pursed her lips, eschewing the question completely when I asked her what this word meant.
I didn’t want to be that— a slut.
Thus began my complicated relationship with my sexual expression as an African girl. In my religious, Ghanaian household, my overzealous Protestant mother drilled the notions that:
Sex is only for married people. Fornication is a sin. Pornography is an addictive ploy of the devil. —and many other tenets that influenced my understanding of sexuality. My identity as an African female further complicated my personal relationship with sex. To engage with “lascivious” things premaritally was to sully your chances of being the model, virginal African bride—or something like that. I actively worked to avoid having my name associated with words that were mentally recorded in my personal lexicon as “slut-ish.” “Bitch,” “hoe,” and “thot” were all words that became synonymous with this idea of a promiscuous, morallybase woman. Throughout high school, I avoided openly expressing myself sexually. I outwardly perfected the guise of the prototypical, asexual African daughter: I focused on my schoolwork and extracurriculars, did not have any guy friends, and spent most of my free time quietly in my bedroom. Yet internally, I had a complex relationship with sex. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 17-years-old, but I maintained a furtive courtship with salacious online materials. I didn’t wear a lot of flattering, girly clothing, but my barely nubile form was constantly sexualized by random men in the street. I struggled to reconcile the contradictions in my life as a young girl sexually maturing in an environment that simultaneously did not want to see it happen and wanted to objectify my body. At every corner, I was battered by
stauch cultural, religious, and societal precepts that told me that enjoying or wanting sex was bad, but allowed for the sexualization of my flesh. In leaving my parents for boarding school and now college, I have had the privilege of encountering different, progressive perspectives on sex. The term “sex-positivity” entered my vocabulary shortly after coming to the U.S.; it illuminated the problematic ideas I held about sex and its relationship to
my femininity. In the time I have been at Stanford, I have formed friendships with strong young women from many backgrounds who have assured me that my budding sexual expression—and how little or much I choose to express it—is perfectly normal. While I haven’t completely broken away from the notions of sex that were dictated to me for my whole life, I’m slowly finding my way. For example, my first (failed) sexual encounter in college ended with the a well-intentioned but utterly ignorant comment: “If it makes you feel any better: everyone else is worn out, but you’re brand new.” But I’m not. This vacuous statement was an obnoxious reminder that I cannot allow others’ perceptions of me to impact how I comport myself and how I choose to live. I’m still learning not to let other people dictate what my sexual expression means in relation to my identity. Sexualization and fetishizing will persist. Individuals and society will assign value to me and make judgements about my character based off of how much or how little sex I’m having. The key here is to find power in self-definition. I proudly reclaim the titles of slut, hoe, and thot on my own terms. In repossessing the labels I once ardently avoided, I can reconcile who I am internally with the person I choose to show the world.
Everything else I feared—namely other people’s perceptions of me—are not important. I will not allow societal perceptions of sex to mire me. Sex is normal. Being sexual is normal. Liking sex is normal. Having no sex is normal. Having lots of safe, consensual sex is normal. I’ve found power in these realizations.
My sister wasn’t wrong. I did grow up to be a slut. And I’m okay with that.
Drawing of an O-Mighty T-shirt design.
“My tits are too nice for my life to be like this.” “Love sucks. True love swallows.” “This was the only shirt I had with no cum on it.”
I know what you’re thinking: whose Twitter account is this, and what is their username, stat? At least, I know I’d RT. But it’s 2018, so you know as well as I do that nothing is what you expect it to be. In this case, reality unexpectedly exceeds expectations. I’d apologize for the tongue-twister, but I think it’s worth taking any opportunity you can to warm up to it.
FA S H I O N The truth, if you can handle it, is that the CafePress designs of our wildest imaginations somehow made it to the real world: a tight, baby pink, offthe-shoulder crop top that reads “Your Nudes Are Safe With Me” in fancy script above a strip of barbed wire; a green, tie-dye turtleneck that simply declares “Marijuana” in the same font as the Marlboro logo; a white velvet crop top with the Bratz logo co-opted by its gutsier replacement “CUNTZ.” It’s the wardrobe you’d use all your wishes for if you rubbed a genie’s lamp when you were 16, freshly grounded, and looking for payback. And the brand behind it all––O-Mighty––is wildly popular with celebrities, influencers, and everyday internet babes alike. O-Mighty isn’t alone in its purveyance of irony-laden, irreverent, Internet-inspired fashion. Lazy Oaf–– its cutesier, less aggressive counterpart––describes itself as “inspired by youth nostalgia, teenage, rebellion, and a spirit of non-conformity.” Instagram-born shops like Internet Girl’s Depop––which combines snarky vintage finds, vaguely occult imagery, and stripper heels for looks it calls “kinderwhore” and “mall goth”––also take up the look. But O-Mighty seems to uniquely center itself around explicit, some might say full-frontal, sexuality. Even their washing instructions say,
Written by Zoe Sayler Graphics by Jules Espero
“PLEASE HANDLE WITH AS MUCH LOVE AS YOU WOULD A 7-INCH DICK.” So what’s the appeal? We millennials grew up challenging the idea that short skirts and bare shoulders should be forbidden in schools, because we recognized it wasn’t our duty to protect teenage boys from their own rogue boners. We wondered why our older boyfriends weren’t ostracized for the same things that got us labeled sluts and bitches. We had to deal with principals thrusting tape measures toward our hemlines to make sure we were showing just the right amount of underage thigh. And we’re over it. Where some generations of feminists pushed against unwelcome sexualization by rejecting sexuality, we’ve done the opposite by deciding to take what’s ours and ride it. What power does being called a slut have if we’re happy to flaunt it ourselves? In the words of one O-Mighty T-shirt, “being sexy, confident, bitchy, and well-dressed does not mean I lack emotional depth.” And we’re not afraid to say “fuck you” to anyone who disagrees.
Photographed by Tyler Su Modeled by Kaan Dönbekci Kimlik, “identity” in Turkish, explores the delicate balance, and at times straining contradiction, between shame and pride in one’s cultural identity. Under layers of Turkish textiles is a Turkish-born man; what can be deduced about this man’s identity must first be filtered through the cloth. Thus, the man’s identity and this emblamatic object of Turkish culture are conflated; we can only see what is allowed to pass through. This shoot is an exploration of the complex feelings evoked in Muslim men as they cope with stereotyped representations projected onto them. Both shame and pride work simultaneously. Kaan Dönbekci ‘20, photographed here, says, “In America, I
identify as ‘culturally’ Muslim. It’s difficult for me…I realize I qualify ‘Muslim’ with ‘culturally’ to resolve the conflict between being very proud of my Muslim identity and the plain fact that identifying as Muslim makes people look at me differently here. It’s very difficult for me.” One must also consider the identity of the textiles. The places where these beautiful textiles originate and the stories behind their creation cannot be divorced from the fabric—these stories are deeply intertwined, stitched into, and inseparable from the cloth. Westerners cannot extract the cultures, conflicts, and narratives associated with these textiles by transforming them into exoticized outfits for European socialites: we must also engage with the identity of the fabric
PORCELAIN DOLL 40
Poem by Lora Supandi Photographed by Jessica Yeung and Sarah Ohta Modeled by Sarah Ohta, Jianna So, Phoebe Yao, Danielle Limacoo, Christie Hartono, Michelle Bae, Phoebe Kim, and Bear (Lia) Kim
RECLAMATION. Past. The San Francisco Railroad Company conducts a violent symphony. I hear the sing-song, hum-drum melodies of engines and generators. I ensconce myself in the howling wind. listen to the echoes of our ancestors. They sing songs of digging, clicking, exploding, picking, and cementing. Chink. Chink. Chink. Sounds familiar? Their spirits mourn in silence, so we search for their voices. Lift their souls out of the ground. Recover their relics, buried beneath the dirt. the cement. the rust. We unearth their graves only to find unhealed wounds. The child sleeps in a blanket of Agent Orange. The girl sells her body to a serpent. The woman bleaches her skin, erasing shades of umber, chestnut, and bronze. How do I carry their burdens on my shoulders? Shall we mourn with them? Is it okay to cry? I leave these questions unattended. We are the children of war. of ships that carry broken promises of land mines. of men with guns. of train tracks that lead to nowhere. I hide those memories. Instead, I remember my grandmother, swatting flies with her woven slipper. my aunt and her mango trees. my mother and her perfume. how it smelled of tears and the American Dream. Goodnights under soft silk. Sweet Dreams. Donâ€™t let the bedbugs bite. Is this nation my cocoon? Listen to my ancestors. Listen to me. Listen to our voices.
Present. I do not kiss like gentle tides. nor will I ever be the girl of your technicolor dreams. I am Singaraja’s shorebreak. Never the shore. I am Dewi Ratih, Goddess of the Moon. Never the alter girl. I am the Dragon. The Phoenix. The Tiger. Never the maiden. Never another man’s beacon. Watch me burn the empires of our colonizers. My earthquake chest can crumble an entire metropolis to the ground. I will steal back the land, culture, and pride you stripped away from me. This legacy will live on with ferocious longevity. I produce crescendos, roaming beneath emerald currents. drifting above our nations. cascading through wind. I paint the patterns of Batik on your skin. We heal each other’s souls. A new season of cherry blossoms. A crown of gemstones and jasmine. Lily-pad hands, terracotta skin, and lips that taste like the Pacific Ocean. There is strength in our gentle kindness. Soft as a ruby melody, the shivering chaos. Sharp as a warrior’s blade. In our world of yellow and gold, society’s mosaic rules shattered into a revolution. From the Trung Sisters to Gabriela Silang, We are the untold history of our generation. We are the voices of today. We are the future.
NAIJA X Nikki Billie Jean 50
Photographed by Iman Floyd-Carroll Modeled by John Okhiulu, Chinenye Ogbonnah, Abena Boadi-Agyemang, Justice Njoku, Uche Amakiri, Temidayo Dairo, Ramona Greene, Ufu Ovienmhada Illustrated by Nova Meurice
icolette Orji, professionally known as Nikki Billie Jean, is the founding editor-in-chief of All Things Ankara, a fashion blog that features West African ankara print fashion. Since launching the blog in April 2014, All Things Ankara has been featured on Huffington Post, Bella Naija, Forbes, and The Shade Room. Nikki has also received a nomination from the DMV African Entertainment Awards for Best Blogger & Media Personnel in 2014 and recogni-
tion as OkayAfrica’s Most Badass Black Women Moment in 2015. Outside of the blog, Nikki runs a fashion line that has allowed her to collaborate with young black artists and entertainers, including VH1’s Love and Hip Hop star Sky Landish and Stanford alum and Grammy-nominated recording artist Jidenna ‘08. This photo series documents Nikki’s recent collaboration with Stanford’s Nigerian Students Association for its 2018 Culture Show.
floral masculinity the quest of a small, butch lesbian to find clothes that fit
Written by Siena Fay Photographed by Danielle Tang Modeled by Angel Smith & Jaime Seney
tell people I’m 5’2”
but that’s counting the extra inches my blue mohawk gives me. I’m what a politely condescending J.Crew cashier would call “petite,” which makes finding flattering masculine clothes nearly impossible. I grew tired of having to pick between buying a badass printed T-shirt, which engulfs my shoulders and stretches past my fingertips, and a form fitting top, which in no way reflects my gender. Last week, I went to the post office wearing an appropriately depressing, oversized hoodie for a Monday. I reached into my P.O. box and found a check. I looked down at my hands and saw them drowning in fabric. I saw the “petite” blob in the window’s reflection. And I said, more loudly than I intended, “mama’s going shopping.” It’s not an uncommon phenomenon. Transgender and nonbinary people struggle to find clothes that are both flattering
and reflective of their identities on a daily basis. While certain niche fashion labels such as Wild Fang, FLAVNT Streetwear, and Bindle and Keep have popped up to fill the void, the predominant retail stores have yet to manufacture clothing for people of different genders and body shapes. Few accessible clothing brands carry high heels over size 13,
suits under size 32, or dresses over size 20. Quite simply, fashion corporations have overwhelmingly failed to provide clothing for anyone whose body or style does not fit the cis-mold. It’s a miracle when we can find any clothes at all. I bought a sweatshirt. Black. Bright red roses on the chest and hood. XXXS. I found it at Topman, based in the U.K., which is one of the few stores that makes men’s clothes in extremely small sizes. For me, that is a gift from God. By perpetuating the false dichotomy between menswear and womenswear, retail stores alienate customers and contrib-
ute to the erasure of gender nonconformity. In a 2013 Guardian article, Casey Legler, the first woman to be signed to the men’s division of Ford Models, called out “corporate America” for propagating gender myths and only incorporating “female-masculinity and masculine-femininity” when it’s trendy. Legler criticized “corporations and the traditional media” for not “celebrating difference” and “otherness.” I bought a white T-shirt with floral sleeves and a blacktipped ringer. Both are plain with a pop of color.
“A lot of our friends wear mostly secondhand clothes because they can’t achieve their identity with clothes that are new and on the market now,” said Eden Loweth, a designer for the label Art School, which creates clothes for trans and nonbinary models, in his January 2018 interview with The Guardian. I don’t have style icons. I don’t look up to anyone because I don’t see anyone that looks like me. While it’s disheartening and frustrating, it is also freeing. My style
can evolve without comparison. My aesthetic can be floral and masculine. It can be iconoclastic. I don’t feel like I’m challenging masculinity or indulging in some form of toxicity. Rather I’m reconciling previously perceived contradictions. My masculinity is my security blanket, my vulnerability, my expression. Floral masculinity is my reconciliation.
ELEVEN BEXLEY by Fiona Henderson
t’s your first job out of college. Your first time being part of a professional, office environment full-time. Your first time working from nine to five for 50 weeks a year and having the paycheck to show for it. Also, notably, your first time having to wear business attire on an everyday basis. Cyerra Holmes, founder of fashion line Eleven Bexley and a class of 2016 Stanford alumna, knows exactly what this transition is like. Just one week after graduating from Stanford, Cyerra started working as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York City. After four years of wearing ripped jeans and T-shirts every day, she found herself in search of business formal attire. In a city with a plethora of clothing stores, assembling a new wardrobe should have been a breeze. However, Cyerra’s experience was quite the opposite. “As I was trying to build a work wardrobe, I went to a variety of stores. Affordable work clothes were either bad quality, inappropriate, or designed for older women. High quality and trendy work clothes were out of budget on an analyst salary,” she says. “I quickly realized that I could build a whole work wardrobe off a few key pieces: skirts and jackets. So, I set out to my create my own (pieces).” Making her own skirts seemed easy enough at first—just buy fabric and sew one seam on each side, right? “I took a sewing class, actually at a sewing school that caters to seven-year-olds, which I didn’t realize until I went there. They were having a birthday party, and I was in the back room having a private lesson,” Cyerra recalls with humor. “But after that
class, I realized it was actually more difficult than I had thought to sew a skirt. It wasn’t just two seams: you have to craft the pattern, use the right stitching, sew in a zipper or elastic, add lining, and more. I felt like an architect crafting a blueprint, but seeing my creation come to life hours later. I instantly loved it. Immediately after that class, I went to Kmart and bought my first sewing machine, and I lugged that on the subway.” After eventually getting her machine home and setting up shop, Cyerra journeyed to Mood Fabrics, a store featured on the fashion design competition show Project Runway. With her materials gathered, she was able to start creating her work wardrobe. “I would sew, and over time other analysts on my floor were asking where I got my skirts, and some were interested in me actually sewing them some. This is when I realized my pain point was not unique, and that there was a whole cohort of female analysts in...professional work environments who were struggling to find trendy, affordable work clothes.” Cyerra recognized that while there are a lot of brands selling business attire, there is a dearth of labels catering to 18 to 25-year-olds entering the workforce. After realizing that it was not sustainable for her to hand sew skirts for everyone interested, Cyerra sought a manufacturing partner to turn her clothes-making idea into a business. She now has a team of three. It consists of her co-founder Sarah Duncan, who also worked at Goldman Sachs but since has left to work at Eleven Bexley full time, and Sharon Padron, a senior at Parsons School of Design.
The company’s mission is to dress young women from first internship to first promotion; they hope to be these women’s go-to brand for clothes that they can wear both in and out of the office. Eleven Bexley’s first product, called the Trailblazer, is a cropped jacket that Cyerra says is both stylish enough for brunch on the weekends and conservative enough for work. “It’s a...two-in-one wardrobe line, and our mission really is to empower women along the way,” Cyerra says. “There are other brands that do seek to empower women, but we’re really trying to empower the college-aged woman who’s just starting (her) career, who might be a little more uncertain and unconfident in embarking on this next chapter.” Eleven Bexley officially launched in March at an event with Stanford Women in Business on campus. The Trailblazer is their only product available today,
but they hope to launch another jacket this summer and their full collection, including tops and bottoms, in the next few seasons. The team is currently concentrating on doing trunk shows to promote the Trailblazer, focusing on building a strong brand, and developing their customer base through their website. While working at Goldman Sachs and starting a business simultaneously is not an easy task, Cyerra says that coming from balancing classes, lacrosse practices, and Stanford Women in Business activities at Stanford, she was ready for the challenge. She encourages anyone who has the same aspirations to do the same. “If anyone has an idea, if they’re working in consulting or finance or some other industry, but they’re also really passionate about something else, I would say figure out a way to pursue it.”
FLOWERS ARE YOUNG
INDIA ROBINSON, KAITLYN
KYNAST, AND DYLAN BEDFORD
MINT x SWID
SPOTLI ft. Emma Morris
MINT: In one sentence, what is Stanford Women in Design (SWID) all about? Emma Morris: To me, SWID is not only a student group that seeks to empower female-identifying individuals and connect them to real world opportunities, it is an experience and opportunity to come together and celebrate the beauty in our failures by way of design-thinking. M: What does “metamorphosis” mean to SWID? EM: Metamorphosis can take form and be felt and seen in so many different ways...I think for SWID, metamorphosis can mean the organic nature of growth that very much relates to our organization; I feel we are still budding and growing, and have yet to even define our potential in the undergraduate pre-professional realm. The slow process has been felt across all our teams, as these things take time, but I see beauty when all teams come together to pull off something great, such as the Spring Design panel we held this quarter. M: What are the roots of SWID, and how—if at all—has that changed up until today? EM: SWID originated in fall 2016 when co-founders Morgan Mahlock (’17) and Elisa Graue (’17) came together and realized there was no designers within the pre-professional sphere at Stanford. They started from scratch and here we are; at (almost) 2-years-old, I can say to you that SWID has grown immensely...It’s one big team trial by error process, and the sky is the limit from here.
M: How do you see SWID evolving in the next few years on campus? What current or future projects are working toward that vision? EM: I see several things in the works for SWID in the coming years on campus...some internal work (i.e. a restructure and revamp of our internship program, our constitution may be going through 10+ iterations), but also becoming more visible to others on campus. Besides the internal changes, I see SWID developing by becoming a name-brand community thateveryone wants to be a part of, hosting annual workshops that become known across campus, and hosting meaningful events that continue to add to the nature of design and assist those entering the creative fields. M: What does the future of design look like, especially for women? EM: I certainly am no fortuneteller, but I see design thinking and design methodologies becoming an incremental part of curriculums and education for future generations. I see female leaders spearheading this movement and the movement that embraces failure and process, learning, honing a craft, and fearlessness in the face of a world that aims only for perfection.
I see female leaders spearheading this movement and the movement that embraces failure and process, learning, honing a craft, and fearlessness in the face of a world that aims only for perfection.
Photographed by Ryan Wimsatt and Jessica Yeung 78
Queerness is more than just a sexual identity. It describes more than just a superficial attraction, an aesthetic choice, or a relationship to gender and love. Queerness is a metamorphosis. Queerness is necessarily explorative. Queerness is a force of subversion, a process of interrogation. It is a
constant coming into and out of. It demands that we scrutinize, manipulate, and distort the categories and definitions by which we sort ourselves. It opens doors to new opportunities of feeling and loving beyond the prescriptive modes of a heterosexist society. 79
Sarah Ahmed calls it “queer feelings.”
Queerness allows for transcending boundaries between our bodies, for blurring the edges between friends, family, and lovers. Scholar of feminist and queer theory Sara Ahmed calls it “queer feelings.” Gender theorist Judith Butler understands it as a critique of identity itself. The powerful, queer women at the forefront of queer theory and
queer activism articulate an entire world of queerness at the fringes of “normal.” They teach that queerness is only revolutionary as it remains in constant tension with the norms imposed on us. It is only transformative as it compels us to challenge and confront violence and injustice. It is only liberating when it empowers us to question, resist, and experiment.
OUT T Photographed by Iman Floyd-Carroll
Modeled by Andrea Ruedas
Photographed by Iman Carroll-Floyd Modeled by ----------
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