The Women's Issue Spring 2021 |Vol 4Issue 2
Lucid Motors Luxury mobility company reimagining what a car can be.
Innovative engineering, Design, and Technology defining a new class of vehicle.
Photo Credit - Photographer Clarke Drahce - @clarke_drahce Styling - Etienne Jeanson JNSF Fashion - @jnsn_fashion Model - Samantha Malfoy - @malfoysamantha Make-up Artist - Sandrine Bo - @sandrinebo.makeup Hair Stylist - Jonathan Herzog - @jonathanherzogcoiffeur Assistants - Michel Delcambre & Elodie Lelièvre - @cocofoliiiiie Accessories - Earrings “Bonbon” Martine Brun - @martinebrunjewelry Wardrobe - Tony Ward Couture - @tonywardcouture Special thanks to - Thomas Gonzalez @tomz.gonzalez Shot for - Rare Magazine Paris France - Spring 2021
Transform To Transcend
Randall Wide Cuff Crafted with pheasant feathers. Cuff is 1.5” wide and is 7.88" in circumference. 24k Gold Plated hardware. Randall Thin Cuff Cuff is 0.5” wide and is 7.63" in circumference. No dyes are used, giving each cuff a unique coloring. All Brackish pieces are handcrafted in Charleston, SC. Our cuffs take between four and five hours to complete. Every feather is hand selected by our artisans, making no pieces exactly alike. $195.00 brackish.com
Crafted to reflect the natural beauty of each feather
Summer Zip Polo 57% Linen | 43% Cotton Our classic Zip Polo style is knitted in 12 gauge, our lightest possible weight, creating a comfortable and airy fabric that’s perfect for warm weather and layering.
Biker Polo 100% Linen | Scrubbed Horn Buttons The heart of the collection is linen, one of the oldest textiles in the world.
Warmth from the edge of the world
GABS: Bag G3 print Trip shopper convertible Size L 465 Stockist: Bulo Shoes San Francsico, California Model: Deja Peters Photographed by: Laura Tillinghast MUA: Celestine Pearl Stylist: Angelica Garde Creative Direction: Brian Esterle Style Curation|: Trystanne Cunningham Produced by: Rare Magazine
Imagination will take you everywhere
JEANETTE SMITH CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
To Be a Woman
here is no way to sum up what being a woman means. There is no singular definition of womanhood, what a woman looks like, or even the female experience. History tried to tell women who to be and how to act, what we could or could not do—but look at us now.
“History tried to tell women who to be and how to act, what we could or could not do—but look at us now.”
Today, women are continually crashing glass ceilings of every sort, rightly proving that we belong in all aspects of our world and society. From empowering women to take up maledominated professions to designing womencentered clothing and products, our Women’s Issue features the female makers, dreamers, and entrepreneurs who are writing their own stories on what it means to be a woman. Come inside and learn how to find your passions from chef and baker Joanne Chang as she leads the way for women in the restaurant industry. Read our interview with Jaidene Veda, a Canadian recording artist with an impressive 20-year career including five albums and almost 200 collaborations. We focus on female-centered brands such as Love Iguehi from NigerianAmerican Iguehi James and Cocoacentric from southern girl LaToya McInnis. And we tell you how to get involved with Shreya and Saffron Patel’s Letters Against Isolation project. All these amazing women and many more are featured in these pages. I encourage you to take some time to celebrate these ladies and be inspired by them.
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CREDITS M O D E L : F R A N K I E TA V A R E S P H O T O S , M U A , H A I R : F R A N K I E TA V A R E S
RARE MAGAZINE THE WOMEN ’S ISSUE
Story Behind the Cover Frankie Tavares began her career five years ago as a model for designer Monif C. Since then, she has worked with Fashion To Figure, Free Country Apparel, Poshmark and designer Byron Lars, as well as JCPenney, Forever21, Macy’s, Stitch Fix ,Swimsuits For All, Eleven 60 and Rue 107. The hardworking wife, mother of three, dog-parent, sister and daughter makes photo shoots look easy; “DIY is in her nature.” Read the full article by Matthew Paul Robinson Page 202. Rare Magazine 17
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Welcome It is an absolute pleasure to welcome you to Rare magazine. As we embark on our third year of publication, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support. As the founder and editor-in-chief of Rare magazine, my vis ion to create a space for the voiceless has always been a pass ion. I aspire to provide a platform that amplifies voices that are yet to be heard. My team and I forage the corners of the world for inspiring stories packed with individuality to bring to our exclusive audience in sea rch of their Rare. By partnering with passionate creatives, artists and entrepreneurs who are looking to gain exposure through an organic lens, we proudly connect the unheard with individuals that admire Rare's diverse inclusive exclusivity. By reading Rare and Rare Living magazines we hope to motivate your mornings, inspire your afternoons, energize your evenings, and spark your curiosity at the turn of every page. Against the grain of the mainstream, Rare magazine features a wide range of lifestyle topics, thoughtprovoking articles, beautifully curated and presented, immersing our readers in a sophisticated and luxurious experience.
Rare Magazine 21
Photographed by @theginstarp Styled by @isaintlu.co for @lucostudiong Model @officialglitzz @litmodelsng Makeup @jogis_artistry Accessories @zeriluxury
Contents HOME DESIGN & DECOR
44 C O U N T RY C O O L BY ROBYN ALEXANDER
Interior designer Kim Stephen crafted a chic yet laidback take on modern country style in this Tudor Revival home in Surrey
70 THE MONA LISA OF GIFT BOXES BY MICHAEL DAKS
DLISH Gift Boxes Mona Bavar’s Distinctive Gift Boxes Curated in Milan, Italy
52 SPECIAL THREAD BY ROBYN ALEXANDER
Maker, designer, and entrepreneur Frances van Hasselt creates beautiful mohair rugs that reflect their unique origins in the South African Karoo
U N I Q U E C R E AT I V I T Y BY CRISTINA DEPTULA
Nneka Mosley is One Handy Momma. Her DIY Creations have become an escape
INTERVIEW WITH CHEF CHANG F LO U R B A K E RY BY CARY WONG
The Knowledge of Flour - How Joanne Chang Became a Celebrated Pastry Chef 86
78 INTERVIEW WITH ELLIE KRIEGER BY CARY WONG
Living In Health and Nutrition An Interview with Best-Selling Nutritionist Ellie Krieger
92 INTERVIEW WITH CHEF LEÓN / KJOLLE BY CARY WONG
Running her kitchen by pure meritocracy
98 J E N B AT C H E L O R F O U N D E R O F KIN EUPHORICS BY CARY WONG
Kin Euphorics Jen Batchelor’s Nootropics Cocktails 24 Rare Magazine
ART MUSIC FILM
146 JAIDENE VEDA (MUSICIAN) BY MICHAEL DAKS
Finding My Voice - Canadian Recording Artist Jaidene Veda
152 M AYA C U E V A ( D O C U M E N TA R Y FILM MAKER) BY MICHAEL DAKS
Maya’s Lens - An Interview with Award-winning Documentary Filmmaker Maya Cueva
bespoke, natural textiles to the UK
JESSE WILLIAMS BY MICHAEL DAKS
TO SENIORS WITH LOVE B Y N I Z I E LO K M A N
A Passion for dance Michael Daks Interviews Jessie Williams
Letters against isolation
242 DETROIT ACHIEVEMENT ACADEMY B Y N I Z I E LO K M A N
FRANCESCA BAUR BY MICHAEL DAKS
Fable and Base How Francesca Baur is bringing
Creating Civically Engaged Citizens, Ready to Change the World
252 NASREEN MA B Y N I Z I E LO K M A N
262 GIRL GANG GARAGE BY CRISTINA DEPTULA
Empowering Women Girl Gang Garage
246 BE BOLD MEDIA BY CRISTINA DEPTULA
Human Technologist Sabrina Hersi Issa’s Passion for activisim and empowering human dignity
SCIENCE & I N N OVAT I O N
276 ACADEMY OF SCIENCES E M I LY S O H N
From Reviled to Adored A Woman’s Triumph
T R AV E L
124 WEEKEND LANGKAWI B Y N I Z I E LO K M A N
Finding Power in Pain Founder of The Weekend Langkawi, Tammy Rahman
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The Art Of Wearing vicnate.com
Photographed by @theginstarp Styled by @isaintlu.co for @lucostudiong Model @officialglitzz @litmodelsng Makeup @jogis_artistry Accessories @zeriluxury
FA S H I O N & ACCESSORIES
172 DIARRA BLU; IT’S WHO WE ARE- DIARRABLU VANESSA OHAHA
It’s Who We Are - Diarra Bousso designing with culture
180 BORN FROM A DREAM, INSPIRED BY ANCESTORS VANESSA OHAHA 112
112 U R S K A S R S E N - B E L L A B E AT BY CRISTINA DEPTULA
Follow the Beat: Urska Srsen’s Path to Heart-Driven Success
118 E AT S L E E P O R G A N I Z E BARBARA REICH, LARA METZ AND WHITNEY ROBAN BY BARBARA REICH, LARA METZ AND WHITNEY ROBAN
Born From A Dream Silvana Landa creates beauty from her Ancestors
MADE IN AMERICALOVE IGUEHI VANESSA OHAHA
VANESSA OHAHA NIKKI E DESIGNS
Nicole Escalante’s Inspiring Jewelry
Made In America Iguehi James 186
198 SHANNON ASHFORD CRISTINA DEPTULA
“I Sew” Using plastic for good
Eat Sleep Organize
F R A N K I E TA V A R E S M AT T H E W P A U L ROBINSON
ERICA KESWIN B Y T RYSTA N N E C U N N I N G H A M
Erica Keswin Rituals Roadmap
“Taking Over" The Magnetic Frankie Tavares
214 MARTINE BRUN BY MARTINE BRUN
Haute Fantasy Martine Brun Makes Everyday Ojects into High Fashion Jewelry
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The Women's Issue 2021 BEAUT Y
222 INCLUSIVE BEAUT Y DIVERGING FROM B E A U T Y S TA N D A R D S NEHA SURADKAR
Inclusive Beauty Diverging from Standards Embracing Diversity
164 BUTTON OBSESSED NEHA SURADKAR
Latoya McInnis Founder of Cocoacentric Used her obsession to create a Jewelry line
P L AY L I S T
“CAPABILITIES ARE BOUNDLESS” RENE HARDING, FOUNDER SKIN AMITY NEHA SURADKAR
228 AVOCURL INTERVIEW WITH JASMINE CURTIS BRIAN ESTERLE
W O M E N ’ S P L AY L I S T KARMA BENNETT
Fierce - A Women’s Playlist of Over a Hundred Songs to Inspire and Empower
Falling Out - How Avocurl Founder Jasmine Curtis is breaking up with toxic chemicals
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The Art Of Wearing vicnate.com
Contributors FOR THIS ISSUE
02 03 04
01 MICHAEL DAKS
Contributing Writer/ Photographer
02 BRIAN ESTERLE
Brand Outreach, Media Relations Director, Writer
03 NEHA SURADKAR
Beauty Contributing Writer
04 NIZIE LOKMAN
05 32 Rare Magazine
Travel & Wellness Contributing Writer
05 CA RY W O N G
Culinary Contributing Writer
06 VANESSA OHAHA
Fashion & Beauty Contributing Writer
07 M AT H E W P A U L ROBINSON
08 CRISTINA DEPTULA
09 ROBYN ALEXANDER
Home Design/ Decor Contributing Writer
11 10 SHERDELLAH ANUNCIADO
Editorial Design Director
11 T RY S TA N N E CUNNINGHAM
Editor In Chief, Founder, CEO Rare Magazine 33
The World's Finest, Consciously Made Handbags
Ethically Made Jewelry In Spain lolamohe.com
Photographer Credit IN THIS ISSUE
Photographed by: Nicky Thomas
C-D O S F P T H-K R V-Y JASMINE CURTIS MICHAEL DAKS REBECCA DOUGL AS CLARKE DRAHCE
BASHIR OLAWOYIN M O R G A N O TA G B U R U A G U
ANNA SHVETS K E T U T S U B I YA N KO
ANTONIAS FERRET JESSE FINE TH FINGERSTUDIOS
ALI PANZANI PEXELS
F R A N K I E TA V A R E S KRISTIN TEIG NICKY THOMAS L AURA TILLINGHAST
W A R R E N H E AT H ISTOCK GABBY K
TA M M Y R A H M A N DANIEL A REYNA ARMIN RIMOLDI
JAIDENE VEDA E LSA YO U N G
A carefully chosen selection of items for people that enjoy “the finer things in life”.
Providing an exciting and delightful experience. Continually sourcing, curating and delivering the rarest food products coupled with the most stylish designs.
RUGS WALLS UPHOLSTERY
BY ROBYN ALEXANDER
PRODUCTION SVEN ALBERDING P H OTO C R E D I T E LSA YO U N G
The rear elevation of the house includes half-timbered walls and looks out onto a large lawn. The outdoor seating is the Caroline range from Sika furniture (sika-design.com) and the cushions are all made up in outdoor fabrics by Jim Thompson (jimthompsonfabrics. com) including Patron in Lemon, Sampan Stripe in Pebble, Palm Plain in Meadow, Tunis in Daisy, and Lisboa in Gold.
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KIM STEPHEN DESIGNER KIM STEPHENS DESIGNER
In the hallway and stairwell, the statement pendant light is the Walker Two-Tier chandelier by Kate Spade New York, which was sourced from Circa Lighting (circalighting.com). It stands out beautifully against the wallpaper, Textures Vegetales by Élitis (elitis.com), which Stephen uses in almost all her projects—”it brings warmth and texture, and I love the way light bounces off the linen-like effect of the paper,” she says.
n a Tudor Revival home in Cobham, Surrey, interior designer Kim Stephen has crafted a chic yet laidback take on modern country style
In the casual TV lounge on the ground floor, Stephen has again used Textures Vegetales wallpaper by Élitis (elitis.com), which she says “brings warmth and texture, and I love the way light bounces off the linen-like effect of the paper.” The corner-unit sofa is a bespoke design made up by Stephen’s upholsterers in Belisto Silt fabric by Black Edition (blackedition.com) and the rectangular Narrow Jet side table and Merton brass table lamp are both from OKA (oka.com). The scatter cushions include some bespoke items made up using Escale Noir and Marina Pastis—both by Lelievre (lelievreparis.com)— as well as embroidered, patterned pillows from Niki Jones (niki-jones. co.uk). The round occasional tables were sourced from South African furniture and design store, Weylandts (weylandts.co.za), and the elegant pendant Crescent light is by Lee Broom (leebroomstore. com). The rug is a bespoke order from Floor Story (floorstory.co.uk), designed by Stephen to create an ombre effect using the yellow shades from elsewhere in the room, and the window blind was made up in No 9 Ikat Basket fabric in Wild Daisy by Jim Thompson (jimthompsonfabrics.com).
After spending a number of years searching for the right property in the ideal location, the new owners of this characterful home in Cobham, Surrey, asked London-based interior designer Kim Stephen to assis t them with its renovation. They wanted “a house that had a contemporary feel, but that was still homely and comfortable,” says Stephen.
After eight months of work, the update was complete, with the result being interiors that encapsulate the understat ed elegance that constitutes a very contemporary update on country living. The house is home to a family of five who moved to the United Kingdom from Sout h Africa five years ago and is situated within walking distance of the heart of the village of Cobham. Rare Magazine 45
The kids’ lounge area in the loft of the house pairs walls painted in Light Blue by Farrow & Ball (farrowball.com) with a set of couches custom-made for the space by Stephen’s joiners and upholsterers and covered in Ava, Grace, Audrey, and Elizabeth fabrics from the Golden Age collection by Güell Lamadrid (g-lamadrid.com). The occasional tables are from Weylandts (weylandts.co.za).
Very much in accord with the location of the house are its readily recognizable Tudor Revival elements—including classic halftimbering on the upper floors—which made the interior renovation project something of a challenge. “The ceiling lines in the bedroom areas really were a struggle as they were all over the show, at angles and starting at different points where the wall meets the ceiling,” says Stephen. This meant that using wallpaper was impossible in many of these first-floor spaces, and explains the very practical, yet also elegant, decision to either end wall paint colour an even 50cm below the ceiling line or paint ceilings and walls in exactly the same colour in several of the bedrooms. Despite the challenges, the end result throughout the home is a feeling of cocooning comfort with a relaxed but contemporary aesthetic. “I used plenty of texture and layering to achieve this,” says Stephen, whose design style always balances sophistication with a relaxed liveability. The house is spacious, including five bedrooms and five bathrooms, but the interiors give it an easy-going appeal that means it never feels rambling or overly large. One of the key structural elements added during the renovation is a set of glass and metal interior windows (and a door), which were inserted between the entrance hall and the main living room of the home. These serve to demarcate and add a more intimate sense of privacy to the living room area while also allowing a clear view through to the front door. The choice of an early 20th-century industrial-style aesthetic for these glass and metal windows is an inspired one. They provide a subtle contemporary feel to the home while simultaneously complementing the more traditionally styled elements, such as the wooden staircase, which was also installed during the renovation. Adding yet more up-to-the-minute appeal to the elegantly furnished living room are discreet touches of colour on scatter cushions and In the casual TV lounge on the ground floor, Stephen has again used Textures Vegetales wallpaper by Élitis (elitis.com), which she says “brings warmth and texture, and I love the way light bounces off the linen-like effect of the paper.” The corner-unit sofa is a bespoke design made up by Stephen’s upholsterers in Belisto Silt fabric by Black Edition (blackedition.com) and the rectangular Narrow Jet side table and Merton brass table lamp are both from OKA (oka.com). The scatter cushions include some bespoke items made up using Escale Noir and Marina Pastis—both by Lelievre (lelievreparis.com)—as well as embroidered, patterned pillows from Niki Jones (niki-jones.co.uk).
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in artworks, as well as a plethora of indoor plants. Says Stephen, “I am a big believer in making a home come alive with greenery and it works especially well in this home against the textured charcoal wallpaper used in much of the ground floor.”
The striking Sommerard by Aerin triple-arm pendant lamp is a focal point in the main living room and was sourced from Circa Lighting (circalighting.com). The wood and wicker chair is one of a pair from Cécile & Boyd in Cape Town (cecileandboyds.com), and the monochrome patterned occasional table was found there, too. The rug is from Herringbone (herringbone.co.za), and the ‘nesting’ coffee tables were also found in Cape Town, at Weylandts (weylandts.co.za). The deep blue velvet couches were designed for the space by Kim Stephen and upholstered in Houdini in Ink by Andrew Martin (andrewmartin.co.uk). The scatter cushions include Andrew Martin’s Lowndes Charcoal cushion (with the ikat-style pattern) and some cushions made up in very textured Rolf fabric in Etian by Nobilis (nobilis.fr).
Leading off one side of the living room is a compact home office, while on the other side a pair of wood and glass doors opens onto the kitchen and dining area. These are open plan, with all the storage required of modern kitchen-diner spaces tucked discreetly away behind bespoke cabinetry designed and made by kitchen joinery specialists Martin Moore.
There is informal bar-style seating at a marble-topped kitchen island, as well as an elegant wooden dining table in an elongated oval shape (another of Stephen’s designs) surrounded by comfortable, upholstered dining chairs. Finishes and fixtures throughout this space—which include wood, marble, and brass elements—combine understated luxury with tactile appeal. At the rear of the house are a casually elegant outdoor living area and extensive lawn that form additional entertaining spaces, while the first floor is much more private, being entirely given over to the family’s bedrooms. These include a spacious and tranquil master suite with an enviable bathroom that sports cabinetry and wallpaper in a supremely chic shade of pale duck-egg blue. The entire renovation of this home is redolent of Stephen’s signature style. Both elegant and playful—there is always a subtle touch of the unexpected to please the eye in these interiors—this house is sophisticated in design as well as being easy to live in. ki ms te p h e n . c o m In the tranquil main bedroom, the headboard is upholstered in Manuel Canovas Marius fabric in Ciel from Colefax and Fowler (designs.colefax.com) with a piping edge in off-white leather from Samuel & Sons (samuelandsons.com). The walls are painted in Light Blue by Farrow & Ball (farrow-ball.com), up to a height of 280cm because of the uneven ceiling line of the house. The bedside pedestals were made by Kim Stephen’s cabinetry and upholstery workshop (with reed front detailing and brass hardware), as were the easy chairs in the window nook. The curtains are made up in embroidery fabric from Villanova (villanova.co.uk) called Asante in Chalk. The Lenne Bjerre Shea pendant light is from Sweetpea & Willow (sweetpeaandwillow. com), and the wicker and bamboo bench was found at a second-hand furniture dealer in Richmond. The rug was found at Anthropologie (anthropologie.com) and the bedding is all from The White Company (thewhitecompany.com) with linen throws from Cox & Cox (coxandcox.co.uk). The single scatter pillow is made up in embroidered Beaded Damask fabric in Champagne by Travers, which is available from Zimmer + Rohde (zimmer-rohde.com).
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Authentic Botanicals and Essential Oils lunasundara.com
SPECIAL THREAD The arid, semi-desert landscapes of South Africa’s central Karoo region are an acquired taste. This is a place where extreme harshness—scorching heat on summer days, icy cold on winter nights—coexists with the delicate beauty of indigenous plant life, and where the bone-dry air is scented with dust yet still exquisitely clean and crisp. Sunrise and sunset are soft and subtle moments, the land stretches seemingly endlessly to the distant horizons, and the sky feels somehow higher above one’s head than it does elsewhere. The people of the Karoo are special too: friendly to every visitor, yet with an inner reserve that reflects the elusive nature of the place in which they live and work. This is also an area renowned for its exquisite mohair. The mohair fibres produced by the angora goats of the Karoo are some of the very best in the world, prized around the globe (and most especially, in the textile centres of Italy and Japan). In South Africa itself, the exceptional quality of local mohair is not as well known. Partly as a result of this, almost all of it is exported as a raw material, to be spun, dyed, and woven elsewhere. Which is why, as designer, rug maker, and Karoo native Frances van Hasselt explains, it was only once she had spent some time working in the international fashion industry that she “came to realise how incredibly special and unique mohair is.” BY ROBYN ALEXANDER PRODUCTION SVEN ALBERDING P H O T O C R E D I T W A R R E N H E AT H 52 Rare Magazine
Designer, rug maker and entrepreneur Frances van Hasselt grew up on her family's farm in the Karoo. The process of creating one of her luxurious handmade rugs starts with taking good care of the land, she says, and of the herd of angora goats who produce the mohair that she describes as “one of the world’s most ancient, exclusive and sustainable natural fibres.”
F R A N C E S V A N H A S S E LT MAKER & RUG DESIGNER
A rug in progress on a loom. Each individual rug produced by Frances V.H is the sort of very contemporary luxury item that Frances describes as “rare, once-off, sustainable, trend-free, timeless, unique to the individual's taste, and handmade.”
region’s gravel roads and folded mountain ranges—all of these unique signifiers of place are reflected in her graphic designs. These might be inspired by “the tiniest folds of a veld flower or the balancing act performed by rock formations,” she says— adding that for her, nature’s most valuable lesson is that “of simplicity.”
Undyed and hand-spun mohair in a super-bulky yarn weight is the very essence of tactility and natural loveliness. “Mohair is soft under foot [and] incredibly durable, plus it dyes and holds colours beautifully due to its natural texture and lustre,” says Frances.
Frances had always known about mohair: she grew up on the van Hasselt family farm, which is located outside the small town of Prince Albert and includes one of the oldest angora goat studs in South Africa. The mohair produced by those goats is an integral part of her heritage. No wonder then, that she “became determined to produce a local product... that highlights [mohair’s] unique and desirable qualities.” The result of that resolution is Frances V.H Mohair Rugs. Making one of her rugs is a uniquely creative process for Frances. “When I am in the Karoo, I make sure that I spend time outside walking, as this is where most of my ideas and inspiration come from,” she says. The light and the colours, the patterns formed by the 54 Rare Magazine
All the mohair used to make Frances V.H rugs is hand-spun, then dyed and woven to reflect colours and textures inspired by the natural surroundings.
A trio of recent Frances V.H rug designs on display in Frances’ studio.
Furthermore, in Frances’ view, “a sustainable, circular economy does not start in factories.” For this designermaker, weaving and finishing a rug are the last few steps on an intricate supply chain that “starts with rain, the delicate ecosystem of the veld (landscape), the role of herdsmen, the importance of healthy animals to produce quality mohair.” She’s also very aware that the resulting raw fibre also has to undergo multiple processes—washing, cleaning, dyeing, and spinning, most of which is done by hand—before the yarn ends up on her loom. As Frances takes care to explain, her rugs also reflect more than one single person’s creativity: she is a collaborator, both with her clients and with local traditional textile workers. Another of Frances V.H’s aims is to offer sustainable employment and training in a part of the world where jobs are scarce. One result of this multifaceted
approach to what she creates is that no two days of Frances’s working life are the same. She spends time finding her inspiration in the Karoo landscape around her, formulating her designs, and collaborating with clients. “All our work is made to order, so I have a very close relationship with clients,” she says. But she is also occupied with promoting the Frances V.H brand, sharing its story with the world, and of course, “there is always something happening in the studio, from dyeing yarns, to spinning, weaving up new orders or playing around with different finishes.” Rare Magazine 55
The 'mood wall' in Frances's studio is covered with a selection of her current inspirations from the Karoo landscape, ranging from seed heads to twigs and plant stems adorned with tiny greygreen foliage. Natural, undyed, hand-spun skeins of mohair in various yarn thicknesses are stored in the baskets on the floor.
Frances continually experiments with colours and yarn weights, as well as with the ways these might be blended together in a single rug design.
A rug in progress on a loom. Each individual rug produced by Frances V.H is the sort of very contemporary luxury item that Frances describes as “rare, once-off, sustainable, trend-free, timeless, unique to the individual's taste, and handmade.”
And as this is a working farm, there’s plenty of everyday administration, logistics, packaging of orders, and fixing of equipment forming an inevitable part of running a business such as hers too. Reflecting both the uniqueness of the Karoo’s everchanging landscapes and her personal passion for mohair as a fibre, Frances’s rugs demonstrate her view that “South African mohair should be recognised in the same way cashmere is in Scotland or alpaca in Peru—and to achieve this we need to create exceptional locally made, finished products.” This is why Frances V.H creations are luxurious in the most contemporary sense: not as a result of being costly, but because Frances’ captivating rugs encapsulate what she describes as a “worldview” that is all about “clean air, open spaces, an appreciation for nature, meals around a table with friends and family, and building a home in which you feel safe, calm and functional.” 56 Rare Magazine
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Hand Rolled Palo Santo Incense lunasundara.com
Plant-based designs bringing the outside in & celebrating the natural world fableandbase.co.uk
Momma BY: CRISTINA DEPTULA
“Creativity is creativity. It just plays out in different ways,” says Nneka Mosley of One Handy Momma. She started out making and selling designer handbags, a hobby she’d turned into a business, but closed down when she and her husband decided to have children.
NNEKA MOSLEY F O U N D E R O N E H A N DY M O M M A
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“I’d had some awesome experiences along the way, but realized that I’d lost the passion to continue.” Mosley has now channeled that passion into her new venture, designing and building practical and stylish furniture and teaching women how to do the same.
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“A friend and I both knew women would be interested in learning these skills, but there weren’t many options for that when we got started. So we wanted to inspire women to believe in themselves and their ability to do this!” She says she may be a bit biased because she now has three little ones of her own, but she mostly enjoys creating pieces for kids’ rooms. Her personal favorite piece is a Black Panther-themed bed she and her husband built for their three-year-old son. She came up with the design for the headboard and then they brought the entire project to life. She’s also designed and built bunk beds for her twin daughters. “In terms of my unique style, I like to call myself a mixed bag because there are so many elements of various styles I like. But at my core, I have an eclectic style; strong design, vibrant colors, and bold printed fabrics really speak to me.” Back in 2013, she and a friend launched Handy Chics, a business that hosted workshops teaching women how to design, build, and upholster their own furniture. They’ve put on various furniture classes over the past five years and now, during Covid, offer illustrated DIY tutorials on the One Handy Momma website. Mosley affirms that anyone can learn how to build furniture. “There are tons of beginner and intermediate projects that anyone can tackle. And you don’t necessarily need to spend money on a lot of tools. However, if building is something a person is interested in really doing on a regular basis, there are a number of tools they would need to invest in.” The One Handy Momma site’s free tutorials let people know what will be involved with building something. They list the required tools up at the top of the step-by-step, illustrated instructions.
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Some projects she’s showcasing right now include a farmhouse table, a children’s bookcase and a collection of holiday place settings. Her site also includes lifestyle content such as inspirational quotes and recipes. In her personal life, she says that work-life balance is harder to find since shelter-in-place began. Having everyone at home collapses a lot of normal routines and everything is out of place for her as she’s balancing a corporate job on top of managing virtual school for their three children and running the household. Her DIY creations have become a needed mental-health escape. “Because of this, I have to be very intentional about carving out time to do the things that will help me feel centered and balanced. And for me that involves creating. My husband and I try to give each other breaks so we can both take the time we need to do what will keep us sane.”
In the near future, Mosley plans to create an e-book on DIY furniture projects. Her goal is to get that affordable book out to all women who would be interested, to empower them to create a lovely and organized environment around themselves. Rare Magazine 65
Palo Santo and Huayruro Bracelet lunasundara.com
The “Mona” Lisa of Gift Boxes
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MONA BAVAR FOUNDER DLISH
BY MICHAEL DAKS PHOTO CREDIT DLISH
ona Bavar is the delightful and engaging entrepreneur behind DLISH, a start up company specializing in curating distinctive gifts around food, art and design for the corporate market as well as for person-to-person gifting. We sat down for a virtual breakfast meeting, Mona in a caf é in Milan with her cappuccino and croissant and me in my office near London with a mug of instant coffee and a slice of buttered toast.
Daks: You have such an interesting story; it’s almost like a travelogue! Can you tell me a bit about your early life and experiences? I’m interested in how a young Iranian girl comes to America and then finds herself in Milan. Bavar: I was born in Iran and moved to the United States due to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. We came straight to Los Angeles and I basically grew up there, so I guess that’s where home is. But as an immigrant, forced to leave your country, you always have the sense of ‘I don’t belong anywhere,’ at least I personally never really felt American.
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I came to Italy to do my MBA at SDA Bocconi School of Management. After my MBA Italy became the perfect place to cultivate my passions—food, art and design. Italians have such a beautiful environment around their food culture. The social culture that’s behind it is very similar to the Iranian one. W hen I was a kid, before we left Iran, my summers were spent in Italy. My parents would bring me here so it was almost like reliving memories from the past. My app reciation for the ritual of dining with friends and family around a beautifully set table eating the perfect meal while sharing stories and creating spe cial bonds inevitably led to DLISH. Daks: So, let’s talk for a moment about the original idea behind the company. Bavar: DLISH is a gifting company which specializes in curating distinctive gifts around the world of food, art, and design. We work closely with designers, farmers, artisans, and craftsmen from around the world. Having access to such a vast number of talents has led to our bespoke services which caters both to our corporate gifting clients as well as individuals looking for a more personalized gifting style. 72 Rare Magazine
Most recently we added antiques and oneoff items that are like our rare jewels. I think our unique and personalized approach to gifting helps to create that magical experience for both the giver as well as the receiver. This is our special touch. Daks: So, like they would say on the Actors Studio. What is your favorite food? Bavar: Anything with truffles on it! Daks: Favorite drink, I’m assuming that’s wine? Bavar: No, a dirty vodka Martini with three olives. Daks: Here we go! Bavar: In a heartbeat. Daks: So, what has brought you the most satisfaction in your life? Bavar: I would say the life I have created for myself. It is not conventional and oftentimes challenging, but it is my path, and I am proud of what I have built so far. I am grateful for a supportive and loving family and a group of dear friends who continuously give me the courage and encouragement to embrace my truth. Daks: I think that’s a really good answer. Just giving yourself permission to live the life that you want to live and not feeling that you should censure yourself because of the expectations of other people. What is the next journey for you? Bavar: Of course, I would love for DLISH to continue growing and it will; for my plans to come to fruition, and they will; to live in Paris and I will. But to be honest—the future will happen when it happens. I am really happy with where I am right now. Daks: What would you say is the best reason to experience DLISH? Bavar: To bring pleasure into your life and into the lives of those that are special to us, especially now when we all need some joy in our lives. Something that says ‘I was thinking of you.’ So, rather than the usual gifts, why not give something that’s rare?
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Healthy Eating Tasteful, Playful & Beautiful
Certified organic, 100% vegan Real Food Dressings Carefully selected Blends of premium oils & Ingredients From artisan producers committed to sustainability Gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free - no garlic
Living In Health and Nutrition -
An Interview with Ellie Krieger
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h e relationship between food and humans is ever-changing. This has never been clearer than in recent times. Despite the information explosion, making the right choices is increasingly difficult. One day a new study could be tou ting the benefits of a mystery ingredient and the next day another professional might talk about the same item’s harmfulness. It is easy to feel overwhelmed in an environment where every second of a dinner is fraught with danger! As a registered dietitian and nutritionist as well as bestselling author, writer, and TV
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ELLIE KREIGER NUTRITIONIST
presenter, Ellie Krieger has been supporting people who deal with these challenges her entire career. Regardless of the platform, her priority remains the same. “I was always interested in food and passionate about it and drawn to it and flavor,” she says. “I’m a dietician who mainly works in the media and my mission is to help people find joy and pleasure from eating well.” When Krieger was attending Cornell University, she needed to make money for school. So, she started to work as a fashion model with stints in Japan and Europe. “I went to college to study nutrition. Actually, I was premed, but I majored in nutrition because that fulfills all of the requirements. But it was in a field of food, which I was really drawn to. I was modeling literally as a summer job initially, to pay for school. I had some friends in the field, so it was easy for me to access the fashion industry. After my freshman year of college, I was asked by a Japanese agency to work in Tokyo. So, I took a year off from school and worked in Japan, and then went to Europe and worked in Italy. It was an amazing thing… it was partially an adventure on its own. It enabled me to pay for school, and then ultimately my master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University,” she says. After graduating, she started to work in the nutritional field; first at her private practice, which helped her understand the questions people were asking. The direct feedback also taught her how to help individuals through the day-to-day issues that they face and for them to make good choices within the constraints and challenges that real life throws at them. The energy she got from working
in the public space, however, made her expand her reach in different ways. “I do have a lot of things (that) might seem disparate and seem like they’re coming from all different directions but there’s one overarching goal. And that is to help people, to reach people… and help them enjoy food in a healthy way. I minored in journalism for my master’s degree. Any form of media is fair game and within my mission: magazine writing, book writing, doing videos, doing Instagram, taking images, blogs, whatever,” she says. “I always follow this gut feeling of what gives me excitement, what jazzes me up. So (that is) how I take the next steps in my career.” Working in the nutritional field means that Krieger has to keep up with Rare Magazine 79
the changes in food trends and society’s perspectives on food. And she feels that there are two sides to this. On the one hand, “the basic stuff of what makes something good for you… or the basic concept of what is a healthy way of eating hasn’t really changed that much,” she says. “If you’re doing certain things like eating more whole fruits and vegetables; if you are eating whole grains, as opposed to refined grains; minimize added sugars; eating more healthy proteins, beans, fish, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils—those things haven’t changed in decades and decades, that basic stuff. So, I think that’s a really great sort of compass.” On the other hand, our living environment, media and culture are changing rapidly. “I’ll give you one example, when I wrote my first book, I would use Greek yogurt in recipes. But you couldn’t easily find Greek yogurt in a regular grocery store at that time… like maybe fifteen years ago. So, I would explain in my recipe, exactly the steps for thickening your own yogurt in your refrigerator at home. Now obviously, I don’t have to (do that) anymore. So, it’s kind of cool… these different ingredients like quinoa, Greek yogurt, and sriracha have come into our everyday vernacular. It’s really amazing, that aspect of it. Also, the media has changed things so much where we can access (differ ent) recipes, voices, and food so much more easily,” she said.
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There is, however, a downside to the proliferation of social media and content that is widely available to anyone with a tap of a finger. Regardless of platform, whomever goes furthest gets the most likes. The extreme raw-sugarless-vegan diets and the radical three-pound-cheese-andbacon recipes reap the most attention. That societal polarization makes it hard to communicate calmly and logically. “The food world is in some ways presented to us as… you have to be either vegan or you have to go on keto (and) that’s the only way. I want to just take that temperature down. And my goal is to help people realize that they don’t have to have fear, guilt, or total elimination of anything in their life to be a healthy eater,” she says. “Knowing how to thrive is different for each person. And that’s one of the beautiful things about the human body is that we can really thrive. If you look at cultures throughout the world, there’s not just one way of eating. We can thrive on lots of different diets. There’s a lot of wiggle room in that. So, we can enjoy that instead of being stressed out by it.” It follows, then, that Krieger is not a big proponent of diet fads. “There’s
diet in the more innocuous sense, like, I eat a healthy diet kind of thing. But then ‘diet’ is something that you’re going on—I’m going on a diet—that is frankly, I think, a trap,” she says. “It’s something that’s typically manufactured… We’re typically set up to believe that you need to go on this diet because it’s going to solve all your problems.” She has read nearly every popular diet plan, and they all have certain threads in common. They are often overpriced, missing some important nutrients, or they go to some type of extreme. And they typically backfire and are set up so that if they do not work, the fault lies on the followers. Not to mention that users are often put on an emotional roller coaster, worrying about their weight daily. “I think we need to take a more critical look—is this really working for me if I need to do it every single year and feel terrible about myself when I fail at it?” she says. Rare Magazine 81
“None of that is necessary. And some of it can be quite dangerous, especially for people who are dealing with potential eating-disordered-behavior. It can make us anxious; it can make us stressed about food. I know a lot of people I’ve worked with have been in this situation.” Even in her e arly years as a teen, she would be stressed out looking at a menu where she worried about what she could and could not eat. Looking back, she says that “it shouldn’t be like that. We should be able to find pleasure, joy, comfort and balance all at the same time.” As far as the daily dietary news and research, she suggests that we should look at them with a wider lens. Take a step back and realize that the basics stayed the same for the last 50 years. Eat more vegetables, whole grains but “don’t fill up on bread. My grandmother told me this stuff, right?” she says. “So, it doesn’t mean not to have bread, just don’t fill up on it.” When new studies come out, we should take our time to digest them and look at
the broader scientific research. The ideal approach is to read a set of related studies that came out around the same time. Humans tend to turn on a dime but that is not necessarily a smart thing to do when it comes to diet. It also helps to realize that these popular science and diet books often take one or two studies out of context and make them into something different. “They take the seed of a truth that hasn’t been really developed yet and they develop it into a book. And the way they sell that book is by over-promising, by extrapolating and creating a plan around it. But it’s re ally not how science and diet work. So just keep that in mind that it’s sometimes more of a manipulation than anything else,” she says. With the pandemic and other issues still lingering to impact us in 2021, there has been yet another shift in our culinary thinking. People have been cooking more and needing more solutions in that aspect of life. As challenging as things have been, the family meal has provided yet another outlet for Krieger to lean into. “I’ve always valued my family dinner strongly, and tried to clear schedules with my daughter… to have dinner together as a family. And one of the things that COVID kind of gave us that’s a silver lining was we were all together. My daughter is now in college, but she was here during the quarantine period, and during the shutdown,” she says. “So, we had this time where we were together every night for dinner, whereas before, it was hard to get us together a few nights a week.” Krieger was also able to contribute to people’s lives with her latest cookbook “Whole in One: Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan, Or Skillet.” She gave the readers something that could reduce the stress out of meal-planning and save on their budgets while making healthy food in these difficult times.
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The book tries to utilize more whole foods and cooking with minimally processed ingredients—though she clarifies that she is “not a purist.” One of the recipes that she particularly loves (also available on her website at EllieKrieger.com), is ginger soy salmon with broccolini, edamame, and shiitake mushrooms. They are roasted on a sheet pan but pack a lot of flavor; not to mention they have great textures and are easy to clean-up! It is “completely healthful and lusciously delicious and so it hits that sweet spot— delicious and healthy. Just about perfect,” she says. “Sometimes there are so many choices that can be overwhelming. When (people are at) home, they’re trying to make something for dinner, ‘What should I make?’” she asks. One method she recommends is to broaden out to one new recipe a week. That way, a whole new repertoire can
be slowly built up, and at some point, one can “see which ones stick and which ones you really love.” Thinking about this issue’s theme of empowering women, Krieger sees a huge change now with many more female chefs and restaurant owners and she wholeheartedly champions the development. “I love to support that. I love to see women rising in that area. And I’m part of an international organization called Les Dames d’Escoffier, which is women in hospitality, food and hospitality. I meet so many inspiring people, and I do think the ground is fertile. I think change needs to happen, but I think there’s been a reckoning in terms of (the #MeToo campaign) and we’re moving in the right direction and it feels very exciting.” As for her own exciting future, she is working on a few new projects. “I’ve been doing a lot on the Food Network kitchen app, which is really fun,” she says. “And I’m working on a children’s book, which I’m super excited about!” She can’t share too many details yet except that it is a picture-driven cookbook for kids. Whatever surprises are hidden within the manuscript, we can be sure that the cookbook will be another feather in her already-decorated cap. Rare Magazine 83
Providing sustainable kitchen and household products from around the globe
The Knowledge of Flour – with Chef Joanne Chang
K B Y : CA RY W O N G
PHOTOGRAPHY: KRISTIN TEIG
CHEF JOANNE CHANG F O U N D E R F LO U R B A K E RY
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n own as one of the most decorated and popular bakeries in America, Flour Bakery + Café opened its doors at the turn of the century. Fast forward to 2021, there are now ten locations scattered throughout the Boston area along with its headquarters (known lovingly as the Breadquarters). With the modern Chinese restaurant Myers+Chang also under the same umbrella, it is a certifiable culinary empire. Yet none of them would have existed had owner/chef Joanne Chang stayed on her original career path. Born from Taiwanese parents in Houston, she grew up in Oklahoma and Texas with lots of home cooking. She attended school at Harvard
University, initially to study astrophysics, and then switched to applied mathematics and economics. Though she had no idea what the job title meant, Ms. Chang accepted a position as management consultant after graduation to work for the Monitor Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She spent two years traveling around
the country in that role, helping big corporations sort out various problems within their organizations. Working on videoconferencing for AT&T (similar to today’s Zoom or Skype), insurance practices for John Hancock, logistical study for Verizon and other high-profile projects was a good job, but she felt that it was not going to be her job forever. Rare Magazine 87
As a hobby at the time, Ms. Chang baked cookies on the side and sold them to friends and family. “I called it ‘Joanne’s Kitchen’ and I probably made a few hundred dollars total,” she says. “I am sure I spent more on making the cookies than I made.” However, she had a clear passion for it. So she decided to make a change. “After two years at Monitor, I decided to take a year off from wearing a suit and heels and try and get a job in a restaurant kitchen,” she says. “I had always loved to cook and bake and eat so it seemed like a great way to spend a year and see what else was out there.” “My first job was at a restaurant called Biba and I was the appetizer cook for a year. I loved it. I knew I wasn’t going to go back to the office once I started working in a professional kitchen,” she says. She continued to learn and grow from different places like Bentonwood Bakery, Rialto Restaurant, Payard Patisserie, and Mistral Restaurant. In 2000, she fulfilled the dream of owning her own pastry shop as the first Flour Bakery + Café opened. Along the way, she won accolades like the 2016 James Beard Outstanding Baker award and the 2018 Outstanding Chef semifinalist. She also beat Bobby Flay in a sticky bun throwdown on TV’s Food Network. In Ms. Chang’s mind, her analytical knowledge from school and previous
work—dealing with math, economics and consulting—taught her how to identify problems and come up with solutions. “My experiences were invaluable in training me to be a clear communicator and in helping me understand the importance in making connections with those around me,” she says. Another characteristic she finds helpful in her current career work is patience. “There is a lot of waiting...and stirring... and kneading...and scooping...and little bitty tasks that all take a lot of attention and patience,” she says. Growing up eating a traditional Chinese diet, she did not partake in many sugary sweets. As a pastry chef now, she had to alter her recipes as she finds “a lot of American pastries (are) pretty sweet”. As a result, when she makes her baked goods, she needs to adjust the recipes accordingly to reflect her taste. In addition to bringing the sugar level down to a healthier level, she is also a stickler for texture. “I’m obsessed with texture—tender needs to melt in the mouth, crispy has to be super crunchy, layers have to shatter, chewy (for bread) should make my jaw sore from chewing,” she says. Known not only as a great chef and as a skilled entrepreneur, Ms. Chang is also a successful author with five cookbooks under her belt as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles. She loves to write and teach; therefore, she feels that writing cookbooks and articles are great ways to marry both interests. When it comes to the role of women within the culinary industry, she never thought it was truly an issue. “I was lucky to have many, many awesome female mentors and bosses,” she says. “In my mind, if you are an awesome creator of amazing food, a strong passionate communicator, dedicated to teaching your team and motivated by offering people a great experience, then you will succeed in this business.” For her, open communication among the cooks is a
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major part of Flour’s mission: to make the best food they can, to offer it with the best service they can, and still have fun while doing it. On a more personal note, as great a chef as she is, there is somebody else in her family that could out-cook everyone. “My Auntie Mia in Taiwan is by far the best! Even my mom admits to that,” she says. “When we were getting ready to open Myers+Chang, we knew we needed Auntie Mia to help train our cooks. She doesn’t speak English but in the kitchen you could do and teach a lot without a common language. Or you could say that FOOD is the common language!” “She flew from Taiwan to Boston, worked with our chef and taught her tricks and tips along with her famous spring rolls. I still remember her frying dozens of spring rolls; which we all proceeded to eat and eat and eat until we couldn’t
move (because) we were so full. But they were SO good it was worth it!” Asked to choose her favorite items to eat, Ms. Chang says that she loves pizza and sushi on the savory side. The choices, however, became a lot harder for the sweet items. “My favorites are croissant, ice cream, our double chocolate cookie, our cheesecake, our Kouign Amann and our pain aux raisins,” she says. In addition, the strawberry chiffon cake from her latest cookbook is also another hit—“It is a light, tender sponge cake filled with whipped cream and sugared strawberries. Super simple and irresistible.” Everything sounds mouthwatering and we wish we could have them all!
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Beautifully Crafted Chef Knives In Albacete, Spain
Alexandrine & Cass Are donating 6-7 meals per knife sold to the Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit
CHEF PÍA LEÓN FOUNDER KJOLLE
Striking Out On Her Own The Story of Chef Pía León and Kjolle Restaurant B Y : CA RY W O N G
achu Picchu, Nazca Lines, Vinicunca Rainbow Mountains—these breathtaking landmarks are probably the first things that come to mind for someone who does not live in the amazing country of Peru.
The culinary scene there, howeve r, is fast catching up to its natural be auty. And in the pantheon of great Peruvian chefs, a number of females s hare the spotlight with their male counterparts. Chef Pía León at Kjolle is certainly one of those greats.
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She had a very early professional start. She studied at Cordon Bleu in Lima, interned at El Celler de Can Roca in Spain and the Ritz in Naples, worked at the New York Ritz, then at Astrid y Gastón back in Peru—all before she was 21. “I was always very curious about gastronomy, I knew… at an early age that I wanted to be a cook, so I studied gastronomy.” Chef León said. “And I started lo oking for restaurants where I could learn about good products and techniques.” “I always thought that haute cuisine could satisfy my curiosities about techniques, professional development, and of co urse seeking for a clear work philosophy,” she continued. “That is why I worked for some important restauran ts.”
but we have always been cautious about respecting certain spaces and creating (them) where we can work being ourselves and being together.” She ran the Central kitchen for 10 years and played an integral part of Mater Iniciativa, the scientific and social research center of the couple’s organization. They have also opened up numerous establishments in the world including Mayo Bar, Lima (a brand with locations in London and Dubai), Ichu Peru (a spot in Hong Kong), and MIL (a destination restaurant outside of the Sacred Valley in Cusco, Peru).
But her stint at Central Restaurant after the aforementioned experiences was arguably the biggest turning point in her life. There, she worked with the legendary Chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz and took charge of the kitchen operations. They also fell in love, got married, and grew their family all while building the restaurant into the fourth-best in the world and the best in Latin America according to World’s 50 Best Restaurants. “I met Virgilio the first time I went to Central and I knew little about what he was like. I met him as a cook, and when we started dating and got married we already knew each other a lot,” Chef León said. “We respect our spaces and there is good communication. We always knew that working in the kitchen is complicated and there are always difficulties Rare Magazine 93
In 2018, as Central and Mater moved into the new location in Lima’s Casa Tupac, she felt it was the right time for her own place. And so Kjolle opened its doors in August 2018. Like the bright orange flower that gave the restaurant its name, the decision proved to be a brilliant one. Not only did it become an instant hit among foodies, but it al so debuted on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list at No.21, as well as winning the Highest New Entry Award of 2019. Chef León now leads the creative direction of the new restaurant, which shares the Casa Tupac location with Central, Mayo Bar, and Mater. “I always felt that I was good at managing Virgilio’s ideas… with Kjolle, I had to manage my own ideas, make my way, find my kitchen; that’s why after having a good time working for Central… at first it was difficult,” she said. “Today I consider that Central, Kjolle, the entire Casa Tupac, Mater Iniciativa, MIL—we all work for a common good.” A new restaurant also means defining a new relationship with the team. Everyone is involved with food development with a lot of team competitions and outings. “We used to see the kitchen as a hierarchy, now we have changed that a bit,” Chef León said. “I met people who know about things that
I did not know and I gave myself space to listen, understand and see things perhaps from a slightly mo re horizontal perspective.” “The team always has ideas and interesting things to contribute,” she continued. “That is why we make sure that they always have a voice in the execution of the menu and the experience.” On the topic of team-building, the Kjolle team is split roughly 50-50 between men and women. “To be honest this was not (the) plan, it was not premeditated,” Chef León explained. “We have seen that in recent years more female chefs have come looking to work in Kjolle and have passed through the kitchen here and through Central.” She runs her kitchen by pure meritocracy. “I only see the ability and merit… I see that compared to 10 years ago, there are more women in the kitchen and I see no difference when it comes to people with commitment and passion.” “That is the ultimate guide. When we try or pressure to have more women in the kitchen I think we made a mistake. (However,) when we stop thinking like that, I think it is when we have really become 50/50 without any plan.” As mentioned earlier, Kjolle has a close relationship with Mater Iniciativa—which, in addition to researching and investigating for menus, also has a team of academics who travel across Peru gathering and studying indigenous ingredients. Do not be fooled by the lessstructured and more-casual menu than the one served at Central. There exists an immense amount of creativity in Chef León’s food and her menu concepts can be driven from either the research-side or the restaurant-side. “In the case of Kjolle, there is a relationship of product, information, and knowledge and we search Mater for issues (around) products,
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producers, seasons, landscapes, and ecosystems. Mater also comes up with stories, anecdotes, examples, and people (for) Kjolle,” she said. “There is a relationship of sharing and from there we come up with ideas. There is no plan ever drawn.” Even though Peruvian cuisine has started to pick up popularity around the world with things like quinoa and ceviche becoming household names, there are still a lot of things unknown to outsiders. Chef León shared one such example with us. “There is one (tradition) that is very close to me because we practice it at MIL. It is called Huatia,” she said. “It is the cooking of the natives potatoes in an oven made from the earth that is built after they are harvested. It is (a way) to celebrate—it is full of tradition and it is natural. (It is also) an example of community, of caring for each other and for the earth—celebrate a harvest with love and respect.” In order to continually improve as a chef, she really enjoys learning about the Amazon. It provides an abundant amount of fruits and vegetables that she did not know as well as
techniques that she might not yet understand. “I feel that each time I visit there I learn more,” she said. When she visits the area with “all this enthusiasm, good vibes, and curiosity, (it) helps you to see (everything) with greatness,” she marveled. Rare Magazine 95
Elegance is good taste plus a dash of daring!
DLISHUS GIN GIFT BOX Curated In Milan Ships Globally dlish.us
Jen Batchelor and Kin Euphorics
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PHOTO CREDIT KIN EUPHORICS
s more and more companies offer different artisan alcohols and liquors, the growth of nonalcoholic drinks has also picked up in recent times. Distillates, bitters, aperitif, spirits, and other nonalcoholic alternatives are now springing up all over the world.
Kin Euphorics and its founder, Jennifer Batchelor, took a slightly different angle, making “euphorics”—a new category that puts as much emphasis on wellness as it does on the social element. Things started in 2016 when she headed to the local Whole Foods, looking for something to help relieve her stress. She was first directed to the 98 Rare Magazine
J E N B AT C H E L O R FOUNDER KIN EUPHORICS
supplement aisle and then the wine aisle. Neither, however, was what she had in mind.
coincidence that she is now running a company focusing on the non-alcoholic side of socializing.
Ms. Batchelor wanted a different kind of product: a drink that makes you feel good with none of the downsides of alcohol. In addition to that desire, she was convinced she was not the only person who wanted it.
“People were telling me that when they go to happy hour, they’re exhausted. If I see a date on the books that’s like drinks with clients, I’m usually groaning. I have to pound an energy drink, I have to get an espresso and then move onto cocktails just so I can be present with these people,” she said in an interview with Business of Business.
She started to research deeply into nootropics—herbs and synthetic compounds that claim to help the brain enhance memory, cope with stress, improve the way commands are fired, protect it from physical or chemical injury, and possess few or no side-effects. Her background may offer some hi nt as to her interest. Despite growing up in Saudi Arabia, which has a ban on alcohol, she had second-hand exposure to booze thanks to her father, who worked as an airline mechanic and ran an illegal pub and cocktail bar out of their family’s home before moving to the United States. It is a funny 100 Rare Magazine
Launched in December of 2018, Kin grew quickly, having over 1 million of their functional non-alcoholic spirits servings sold in under a year. Teaming up with Matthew Cauble, who co-founded the meal-replacement drink company Soylent back in 2014, Kin Euphorics sold most of its products via its website. Despite the impact of COVID, it has also grown its wholesale operations to more than 75 partners, including over 40 restaurants and bars in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Franc isco,
New Orleans, and Kansas City. In addition, the product is also sold at select grocery markets across the United States. Their current three products each offe r different flavors and feelings. Kin Spritz, the most popular flavor, tastes of fresh citrus, warm spice, hibiscus, and ginger. It offers an elevating blend of sensations including relaxed focus, replenished energy, and lifted mood. The High Rhode has notes of earthy florals, tart citrus, and warming spice. It balances the body’s response to stress. Last but not least, the Dream Light line tastes like hibiscus, rhodiola, orange peel, white grape, gentian, and licorice. It relaxes focus, replenishes energy, and lifts mood. If the IWSR report’s expecting 118% volume in crease in the sector by 2024
comes true, this is definitely an exciting space to be in. And investors seem to agree since in May 2019 Kin Euphotics landed $5 million in funding from venture capital firms Refactor Capital, Canaan, and Fifty Years. “We don’t see anyone in this adjacent category of mocktails to be a competitor. We really want to see that category expand across the industry and within Kin 3x,” Ms. Batchelor said in the same Business of Business interview. “Kin startles that world of alcohol alternatives as well as functional, better-for-you alcohol options. That’s how the market sees us. That’s how we’re placed on shelves. Both categories are explosive right now.” And we can see that with a clear mind!
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A carefully chosen selection of items for people that enjoy “the finer things in life”.
Live the Life You Were Meant to Lead life-organized.com
The Practice of Rituals Author Erica Keswin’s story and her Exquisitely Timed New Book, Rituals Road Map B Y T RY S TA N N E C U N N I N G H A M
rica Keswin is a bestselling author, internationally sought-after speaker, and founder of the Spaghetti Project, a roving ritual devoted to sharing the science and stories of relationships at work. She helps top-of-the-class businesses, organizations, and individuals improve their performance by honoring relationships in every context, always with an eye toward high-tech for human touch.
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ERICA KESWIN AUTHOR
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for connection began early. Her father, a lawyer, believed “children from divorced parents would tend to search for more connection in meaningful relationships. They would always yearn for a family setting outside of their nuclear household.” She believes this to be true.
Her first book, Bring Your Human to W ork: 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Design a W orkplace That’s Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World, was published in 2018. Her second book, Rituals Roadmap: The Human Way to Transform Ev eryday Routines Into W orkplace Magic, was published in January 2021. Both books debuted as W all Street Journal bestsellers. Er ica has always been a connector of sorts, from setting up marriages to becoming an executive recruiter. Coming from a divorced, blended family, Erica believes her passion 108 Rare Magazine
Her most notable achievement was taking the risk of pivoting from a career in law to embark on a speaking career and becoming an author. Her strategy to use her books as a calling card to guide clients has proven successful. Publishing her first two books in less than three years shows her passion and dedication. Marketing her books has been at her discretion since the publishing industry lacks the marketing that was prevalent in earlier years. As a mother of three, she thrives on always being intentional. When counseling her clients on job choice, her advice is to choose a path that will continue to broaden one’s mind and keep you growing intellectually. Erica’s writing kryptonite is early morning. She blocks out her time with no distractions, turning off all notifications from all devices. She reminds us, “When you get interrupted, it takes 23 min to get back in the zone”. Her recommendation is to focus for a few hours early in the day to get things done. Success to Erica is, being healthy, spending time with family and friends, having work that she feels passionate about, and the ability to give back. Her favorite ritual consists of having her favorite coffee drink wherever she might be in the world as close as the same time every day. She treks to a
coffee shop and consciously enjoys every sip. An avid planner, she volunteers to book and organize all her trips and plans one every year with her favorite girlfriends. She is looking forward to her first trip post Covid. Erica teaches us that traditions are essential and a poignant part of life. They signify a healthy lifestyle. Rituals Design your rituals roadmap. What do you do in life that makes you feel most like you, makes you feel good about yourself, your work? Beginnings and endings are prime rituals. Examples of this are: before you start a meeting, the beginning of your day, when you are ending your day, and gratitude practice at the beginning and end of your days. We’ve picked eight r itual examples recommended by Erica to share with you.
8. Does my calendar reflect my values? Ensure your belief system and goals reflects on your calendar. Establishing your meetings, and scheduling your events to align with your goals and what is important to you, will leave you feeling accomplished with a great sense of purpose and pride. As one of the most innovative coaches of 2020, Erica Keswin will help coach your businesses and organizations, yourself, and your team, and consult on your every need to help make your life a success. “If you want some help looking at the interrelationships of people in the workplace and individually at home, I’m you’re girl.” Erica Keswin.
See examples to assist in drawing your very own road map: 1. A Beginning Ritual (Beginning of the day, before you start a meeting.) 2. An Ending Ritual (Ending to your day, before you brush your teeth). 3. Transition rituals (Driving to work, walking to the bus). 4. Rituals around taking breaks: (20x20x20 every 20 min take a 20-sec break, by taking 20 steps away from your computer. 5. Rituals around meals (where you’re mindful that you are eating, taste the food and have a meal.) 6. Rituals that reward (35 pushups every day at 3 pm in the office or virtually with colleagues.) 7. Missing Friends and family? (You can create a few rituals in one, as Erica does, by walking with one of her girlfriends during a phone call once a week. She also exercises while getting her steps in, catching up, chatting, and it also serves as a break Rare Magazine 109
F A N TA S Y I S C R E AT E D I N T H E M O M E N T. WE BESTOW THE JOY YOU DESIRE AND THE PLEASURE YOU DESERVE
Euphorics for Humankind kineuphorics.com
URSKA SRSEN F O U N D E R B E L L A B E AT
Follow the Beat:
Urska Srsen’s Path to Heart-Driven Success BY CRISTINA DEPTULA
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rska Srsen is the co-founder and CCO of Bellabeat Inc., a Silicon Valley company building tech-powered wellness products for women. The Bellabeat team is behind the Leaf health tracking jewelry for women, named by Digital Trends back in 2015 as one of the best new mobile products, and Spring, the first smart water bottle powered by AI. “Our core mission at Bellabeat is to inspire women to be healthier so that they can be successful at other thin gs. I believe it’s really important to have a healthy life and work balance. It’s okay to take care of yourself first, because if you’re falling apart, you won’t be able to do your job.” Bellabeat helps women (and some FTM transgenders) track their workouts and menstrual cycles, get ideas for healthy eating, sleep and relax with guided meditations, and follow their pregnancies and hear their babies’ heartbeats. Unlike other fitness-tracking or meditation apps, Bella Beat uniquely integrates tracking users’ ovulation and menstrual cycles into its health recommendations. So users can receive extra help with stress or customized workout suggestio ns that take into account how hormones are affecting them. Srsen’s passion for women’s health goes back a long way. Her mother was an obstetrician and gynecologist heading the perinatology department at Slovenia’s University Clinical Center. According to Srsen, women, who do a lot of the world’s caregiving, often don’t receive the care they themselves need. And women tend to be slower to adopt new technologies, so she intentionally streamlined the interface of Bellabeat and the information it provides. Rare Magazine 113
“Women … tend to be focused more on everything else than themselves. Jobs come first, relationships come first, kids come first, and they themselves come last. My advice to [women] is that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes!” Srsen also studied design and intends for her products to fit seamlessly into a woman’s look and personal style. Built from recycled wood and other ecofriendly materials, Bella Beat’s products are inspired by nature. ‘I wanted to create technology specially designed to track the health of women but also to pay attention to the aesthetics of the product. I wanted to design technology that was not just useful but also beautiful, something women would actually be happy to wear and use.’ She believes there will be an increasing consumer market for ‘smart jewelry’ in the future. “I think it’s clear that smart jewelry will become even smarter while more integrated into our style – either with versatility or by transforming into subtle additions, becoming a seamlessly integrated part of our everyday wear.” In 2016 Urska was chosen by Forbes as ambassador of the technology field for 114 Rare Magazine
their first European 30 under 30 list. She was nominated as best female entrepreneur in Croatia in 2016 by Veuve Clicquot and has also received the Jabolko Navdiha (Apple of Inspiration) award from the President of the Republic of Slovenia. When asked for advice she’d share with other up-andcoming women entrepreneurs, she had this to say: ‘The most important lesson was that your unique idea is the most valuable thing about your product and that you should never compromise on the things that you wholeheartedly believe in and make you different from the rest.” Accomplishing that means sticking to your understanding of what the market needs rather than following what’s already being done just because others seem to be successful with existing ideas. Also, harnessing the skills and knowledge you have to bring your idea to life. “If we had designed in a more conventional way, we might not have been as successful. So while we saw that there was a gap in the market, what we did also went back to the skills we had at that time.” Also, she reminds new founders to make sure they have a solid business plan in place. “For hardware companies, in the past couple of years sustainability and profitability have become really important. Founders really have to find business models that make sense financially that’s the first thing you really have to evaluate.” Rare Magazine 115
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EAT – SLEEP – ORGANIZE
he 2020 pandemic has created unprecedented anxiety, blurred the boundaries between work and home life, intensified parenting responsibilities, and raised questions about how people will return to the lives they previously led. For many people, the need to embrace wellness has become a necessity, and although there is much we can’t control, focusing on what we CAN control—diet, sleep, and our physical surroundings—is the key to successfully navigating our lives while uncertainty abounds. A healthy diet, positive sleep habits, and organization are closely interrelated:
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A healthy diet is critical to proper sleep habits.
A good night of sleep is critical to eating well.
In order to implement a healthy diet and sleep schedule, time management and uncluttering physical spaces is critical.
If you are able organization a stress, greater fulfillment. See
to make nutrition, sleep, and priority, you will experience lower productivity, and a deeper level of our tips below:
Nutrition – What You Eat, When You Eat, and How You Eat •
Fill your plate with more fruits and vegetables than lean protein and starches.
Eat at consistent times throughout the day.
Identify your hunger level before and after meals.
Eat slowly for better digestion and overall fewer calories.
Always plate food and sit down when eating to promote mindfulness.
Sleep – How to Achieve Uninterrupted Sleep •
Determine an appropriate bed time and wake up time.
Follow a consistent sleep schedule.
Seek natural sunlight upon awakening and throughout the day.
Wind down activities one hour before bedtime.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
Organize – Manage Your Time, Digital Space, and Physical Surroundings •
Determine priorities for the next day every day.
Create a digital filing system.
Purge what you don’t need, ignoring sunk costs, aspirational clutter, and sentimental clutter.
Group like items together.
Store items where you use them.
Lara Metz, MS, RDN, CDN is a veteran dietitian and food lover, dedicated to improving the health and well-being of others through nutrition and lifestyle counseling. Lara holds a Master’s Degree of Clinical Nutrition as well as her RDN and CDN certifications from New York University. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Greater New York Dietetic Association, Nutrition Entrepreneurs, Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group, and Women’s Health and Reproductive Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. She has a Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Michigan.
Barbara Reich is the founder of Life Organized, Inc (formerly Resourceful Consultants, LLC), a firm specializing in the organization of people, their lives, and physical spaces. Barbara is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the NYU Stern School of Business. She has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, WPIX, and New York 1 and has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Washington Post, and Time Magazine, among other publications. She is the author of Secrets of an Organized Mom, winner of the Mom’s Choice Award.
Whitney Roban, Ph.D., is a renowned Family, Educational, and Corporate Sleep Specialist and the founder of Solve Our Sleep. She is the author of the award-winning books Devin & Evan Sleep From 8-7 and Devin & Evan Play Fortnite ’Til 11, as well as Dr. Roban’s Solve Our Sleep School Healthy Sleep Curriculum. Dr. Roban is a sought-after speaker by school districts and corporations around the country, and she sits on the sleep advisory board of the American Sleep Association, ConsumerAffairs, Sleepopolis, and Amerisleep. She has worked with national organizations such as The New York Times, Business Insider, Forbes, Rolling Stone, GQ, Women’s Health, Working Mother, Parents Magazine, Pregnancy, Huffington Post, MSN, NBC, LinkedIn, Viacord, Proctor & Gamble, The Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT, and The Boston College Center for Work & Family.
Eat-Sleep-Organize is a platform developed by Lara Metz, Whitney Roban, and Barbara Reich. In addition to their collaboration on Eat - Sleep Organize, Lara, Whitney, and Barbara each have rich backgrounds in their respective fields.
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TA M M Y R A H M A N F O U N D E R WEEKEND LANGKAWI
The Weekend Langkawi
Women Finding Power In Pain BY NIZIE LOKMAN
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his is the narrative that radically changed Tammy to become her woman warrior, motivating herself to move forward. Being a woman is a whirlwind of adventure. Yet, some women choose just to allow circumstances to hurt them. But not Tammy Rahman. The female founder of a funky bed & breakfast inn, The Weekend Langkawi in Malays ia, recently won an award, ”Traveller’s Review Choice 2021 by Booking.com,” only after one year of operation. Nizie Lokman finds Tammy’s s tory a source of inspiration to women and digs deeper into Tammy’s story to find out how she can capitalize on her unique significance in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic.
Starting Somewhere Tammy Rahman, a rising hospitality entrepreneur, didn’t have everything figured out when she founded The Weekend Langkawi. After leaving the city of Kuala Lumpur, she leaped into faith. She moved to Langkawi Island up north to be nearer to the sea. She started a small food truck business called Grub Truck serving Sloppy Joe’s at Cenang Beach of Langkawi Island, up north in Kedah, Malaysia. I remembered when I first met Tammy in action in August 2019 while traveling to Langka wi. She coordinates her tiny kitchen, serving and entertaining customers from her Grub Truck along the famous Cenang Beach. There I was sitting at a portable table with my family watching people ordering and receiving their food one after another. From all walks of life, different parts of the world, with engaging conversations with her customers while on the job. I have been following her entrepreneurial journey, from the Grub Truck to a funky bed & breakfa st in the middle of a local village vicinity in January 2020. Seeing her
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again in Decembe r 2020, I’m so intrigued by how she seized the opportunity to create something different. I see her journey tapping into her inner woman warrior, finding the freedom to live her life on her terms. Juggling her roles as F&B consultant, as well as a sailing instructor to a newfound bed & breakfast owner, here are some of her valuable lessons in creating opportunities to drive dreams with the pandemic disruption.
Recognizing The Painful Past Tammy grew up in an environment of pessimism. She was in a bubble by people’s pressure that transports the negative vibes. From childhood and int o a grown adult, she was in a circle of people who had a negative fixed mindset over positive growth ones, making her feel as if she was never good enough. It was more evident when gender inequality issues surface during her sailing school. Her male counterparts saw her as incapable that made her feel that being a woman is a weak quality.
Reimagining Paradise in Your Terms After a hard time struggling with her classmates and her sailing course, she realized she had to make a choice; feeling sorry for herself just because people around her thought less of her worth or get up and finish where 126 Rare Magazine
she started. Her driven attitude made her recognize her truth. She unapologetically chose the latter, and it allowed her to see that a real woman has the freedom to set her worth. She took her braveheart and bounced back with the will to make it through the entire sailing course and lead her to achieve an international Yachtmaster qualification. She has sailed in many oceans in Malaysia and India on her own. Besides running her B&B, she is also a fearless sailing instructor of more than 12 years who have sailed across the ocean fro m Malaysia to India.
Push Passion Forward with a Purpose She has n o qualms to start over. She already has the flair, skills, and experiences as an F&B consultant, where she has done projects with cafes at five-star hotels around the island. She also obse rves an untapped market of affordable western homemade food in a food truck. She creat ed Grub Truck serving homemade Sloppy Joe’s, catering to local and international travelers. The origin of t his dish has been in the US since the 20th century. Interestingly, the majority of her customer’s feedback points out to her that the comfort food reminds them of their home country
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in the West. Tammy’s ability to engage with her foreign customers and strike meaningful conversation made them at home at her food truck, resulting in them coming back again and again.
Develop a Plucky Attitude to Start Over Most people are afraid to start over. Tammy believes the key to success is to put an intention into action. She was toying with the idea of expanding her business. But she just held that thought until one day, one of her sailing friends gave an idea to develop land in the middle of a local village. The location was perf ect for those who wanted to get around the local life style while feeling at home away from home. She rebuilt the place from scratch with a committed team, transforming it into a building that houses 4 rooms and an apartme nt with a kitchenette. Most of the furnishings and fitting were handmade by Tammy
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and her team. She added some warm modern touch with beautiful art pieces that are inviting. And together with a restauran t that originated as the Grub Truck, now known as Grub Shack, and her dream to run a bed and breakfast called The Weekend Langkawi was born.
Think Pandemic as an Opportunity to Do More & Be More Indeed, the global pandemic changes everything. A lot of businesses around the world have been suffering. But, if you look deeply into yourself, there is a rainbow after the storm. There is always an opportunity to create in your unique way. Likewise, Tammy sees the art of creating for herself and the people around her. Her past experiences and her journey as a woman entrepreneur have been fulfilling. She enjoys meeting travelers at her bed and breakfast. Learn about them and go over and beyond to make their stay fun and comfortable. Her heart that is bigger than her own was evident, and she and her team raised food and clothes to more than 200 unfortunate local villagers amidst the lockdown. Dig into the choices you make. Although Malaysia went through months of lockdown, when we were allowed to travel, Tammy made the best out of the opportunity. The award is just the beginning. Now that it’s the second lockdown in Malaysia, she is determined to bring the Weekend Langkawi to greater heights when we are permitted to travel again. Besides exploring different menus, she has also created more fun and meaningful exper iences in the Weekend Langkawi. She built a vegetable farm to keep pace with productivity during the pandemic. She instills the culture of cost savings to her team by cultivating homegrown vegetables and more. YouTube played a significant role in learning DIYs. Nothing is impossible once you recognize the truth. With a big heart to make connections with others, Tammy hopes that women of the world will come out with the courage to design the life they always wanted. If you ever find the time and chance to travel again, check out The Weekend Langkawi. The reviews are simply fantastic. Follow @theweekendlangkawi on Instagram or reach out to iwannastay@theweekendlangkawi for more information. Rare Magazine 129
Staying In Place
Innovation • Value • Service
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Eden DanceWear Photographed by Nicky Thomas
JESSIE WILLIAMS By Michael Daks Photo Credit Michael Daks
Daks. Why don’t we talk a little bit about how you got started as a dancer? I started as a photographer when I was 16, which is how old you are now, but you must have started when you were 5 or even earlier? JW. I started when I was 3 at a local dance school. You went just to have fun and dancing was your hobby, but I just fell in love with it! My mom took me, but she didn’t know anything about dancing because she’s got two left feet! It was my Nana who put me into dancing and paid for my classes. I was never really a natural dancer. I had to work so hard for it. Nothing really came easy. I would go and do trampolining, gymnastics, and running. I used to run 800 metres and I could just run that like it was nothing, but when I went to dance class it challenged me, it wasn’t easy so I chose that over running because it was harder!
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JESSE WILLIAMS DANCER
Daks. Yes, I’m the same – if it’s too easy I get bored! So you started at age 3, you loved it, but what was the next step? JW. Well, when I was 11 or 12, I was on YouTube and came across the Spirit Young Performers Company. I thought, these guys are really good; I want to go and train there! I saw they had auditions coming up and I signed myself up and didn’t even tell my mom! I just told her she had to take me. I went to the audition and danced and then I sang at the end because they have a dance company and also one for performers, and I got into the one for performers, but not for the dance one! So I spent 2 years at the performers company just trying to get into the one for dancers, and finally after 4 attempts I got in! The next thin g was to work really hard to get onto the competition team and 140 Rare Magazine
a year later I made it onto the team, but they told me I would start right at the back hidden! But eventually I was at the front and featured and just felt so special. It was a realization of how far I’d c ome. Daks. So what style of dancing was that? JW. It was lyrical contemporary, jazz, ballet, acrobatic, and tap. This year I applied for the Stage Magazine scholarship and I got it after my third attempt of going for that, which is great because dancing is expensive! Daks. Do you have a favorite style of dancing? JW. I don’t really have a favorite, but I am probably more confident in lyrical and jazz. Daks. Do you have a favorite dancer, one that really inspires you?
JW. I really love Autumn Miller! I’ve watched her since she was 9 or 10. She had an Autumn Miller Freestyle Friday on YouTube and I have watched her since then. Everything about her I just love!
How did you get in to doing that? JW. When I was little we had a trampoline and my sister Abby, who is 4 years older than me, she would try and teach me and I would just cry! I couldn’t do
Daks. Do you have an ambition to perform somewhere special? JW. I would love to be in a West End Musical: singing and actin g and dancing! Daks. My friend Paul Kennington, who used to do hair on my fashion shoots, is now a Professional stuntman. He did all the Harry Potter movies and James Bond, and his son Tyler was on the West End stage in Oliver and Mamma Mia. He went to the Italia Con ti school, and you are now at The BRIT School, which is a similar performing arts school like in FAME. JW. Yes, I just started there! Daks. So which Musical would you like to be in? JW. I would love to be in Billy Elliott. It’s the first musical I ever saw. I love that it employs everyone from young children to adults and everyone gets a chance to shine. Daks: There are no spear-carriers in the background! JW. Hah ha! Daks. So I saw some of your videos, you also do tumbling and gymnastics.
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it. She would just throw me backwards until I got it, and finally from that first backflip that landed on the trampoline, I was straigh t onto the floor to try it until I learned more and more moves.
They filmed the Broadway production of it. If I were a boy I’d really want to dance in that! I saw ‘An American in Paris’ I was just amazed at how effortless they made it all look.
Daks: Any thoughts of doing that at the Olympics?
Daks. Yes, Gene Kelly in the film was amazing, but I haven’t seen the stage version.
JW. Hah ha! I am not good enough to do that! Daks. So wha t is the plan now?
JW. Well, in 5 years time I will have just finished my degree course in dance and hopefully I will be performing or auditioning for West End Musicals and also modelin g. Daks. Do you have a favorite dance movie? I always wanted to be Fred Astaire since seeing Top Hat! JW. I loved Newsies! 142 Rare Magazine
Daks. Let’s talk about leotards. Not a question I ask everyday! Tell me how the whole collaboration with Eden dancewear clothing came about.
JW. I was doing Pantomime and my friend had just become an ambassador for them, this was back in 2017 when they first started. I we nt onto their Instagram page and I saw their first ever collection. I went to the MOVE IT dance convention and bought my first ever leotard from them. I went home and took some photos and posted them and then I went to Can You Dance, another dance convention, and I bought my second
piece. I was tagging them in all my photos. I applied to be an ambassador in 2018 but I didn’t get it, but I haven’t got things before so why give up? So I spent the whole year doing photo shoots with different photographers. I was always wearing Eden because I wanted to show how loyal I am.
Daks. It allows you to be more individual. JW. You can create your own style. I love that about it.
“I’m here and I want to be your ambassador!” “Please!” ethos!
I love their clothing and their
Daks. Tell me about their ethos. What is it that attracts you to the brand? JW. They include everyone. No matter the shape you are, your color, they embrace it. They are such an inclusive brand. They are such lovely people to be around. I knew that we could work well together. They invited me to a group photo shoot for their Vivian collection in 2018, and then I became an ambassador in 2019. They called and said we’re going to go to Manchest er for a photo shoot, then to Scotland, and then to Majorca! That was amazing!!! Daks. It looks like a very fashionable brand. When I grew up my sister used to do ballet and everything was just very plain : Pink leotard and red shoes. Eden has neon primary colors, leopard print, and plaid! I guess people pay much more attention now to what they are wearing when they are are dancing! JW. Yes, when I was growing up there were only really two dance brands and everyone had the same leotards from them, you couldn’t really be an individual, you couldn’t really stand out. We all looked liked clones. But Eden brings out so many different colors of each leotard that no one is the same wearing it.
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BY MICHAEL DAKS PHOTO CREDIT JAIDENE VEDA
Finding My Voice Jaidene Veda
aidene Veda is a Canadian recording artist with five albums under her belt as well as close to 200 collaborations as a feature vocalist over her 20-year career. She is currently working on her sixth album as well as a documentary due to be released in 2021. We sat down virtually to talk about her life and work and the importance of early breast cancer screening.
Daks: Tell me a little about your childhood; where you were born and what music you were listening to growing up. Veda: I was born in Calgary, a fairly small city in Canada compared to the West and East Coast where I also lived later in life. I grew up in the “Sub-Pop era,” a Seattle-based grunge music record label that really blossomed in the 1990s. I was obsessed with Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine... but in contrast with most of the music I create now, I was really listening to anything but electronica in my youth. Mostly male singers as well. I still hear their influence on me with their raspy, lower voices and a really deep or even abstract sense of prose and story-telling. Daks: When did you first decide that you wanted a career in music? What were your inspirations and influences? Veda: When I eventually discovered Artists like Björk & Me’shell Ndegeocello who were incredibly unique artists, or female lead singers in bands like Everything But The Girl, Mazzy Star, Portishead; the music and their voices really stirred something in me. I can recall it was like the feeling I still find when I watch a good movie. For the duration of the song, similar to the duration of the film, I am in ‘their’ world. That organic sense of escapism was life-changing. I began trying to find my own voice. As well as my parents, I was also very lucky to have an older brother who introduced me to incredible music all my life, all the way until my first experience with club culture. Now, I’ve spent half of my life producing house music. I pretty much have him to credit for all of it.
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JAIDENE VEDA RECORDING ARTIST
Daks: What was your first professional gig—that must have been an amazing, if nerve wracking, experience? Veda: I was self-producing and promoting events while performing initially. My first production partner and I created an album and in order to release it, we set up a gig with DJs, a horn section, and myself. It was hard work to create an event, one that we started hosting monthly, but living in a small community and feeling the familiarity with everyone in the room was priceless. That first experience on stage is deeply ingrained in my memory, so I’m thankful for humble beginnings. Daks: Can you talk a bit about your recording career and how that got started, and about some of your most significant collaborations? Veda: House Music is a very underground community overall and we feel like peers—all fans of the music first—but over the last two decades, I became more and more blessed to collaborate with many musical heroes in the genre. Artists like Grammy-nominated Josh Milan, originally signed to Motown Records as “Blaze”; or world-renowned Poet, Ursula Rucker, whom I discovered on an album by The Roots in the early 90s. She also appeared in a film narrated by Maya Angelou. Further back to my first recordings, an NYC label, “CURVVE RECORDINGS”, introduced me to the dance community right at the beginning of my career. They hired me to cover a Sade song and also a Bobby Caldwell song at different points. Each climbed the top 40 Billboard Club Charts—
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Justin Timberlake was number one at the time with “Sexyback”, the other time, Christina Aguilera—it felt wild. One song was also remixed by Dave Audé, another Grammy award winner, so I was very lucky to be a part of records with such international reach. Daks: Where are you based now? Can you tell me a bit about the music scene there? Veda: I reside in Vancouver, a stunning coastal city in Canada. While I’m out of my club-going years, small venues with live music are plentiful here, and I adore the intimacy of those dance floors as much as I used to love bigger ones, adorned with disco balls the size of a full skylight in the ceiling. Granted we’re a bigger city, the amount of major concerts and events that take place leaves me feeling spoiled at times. And living by the ocean connects you to nature so effortlessly that inspiration is all around you. The music scenes in New York and London are the ones I’m used to performing for. They are intense, vibrant, so packed there were beads of sweat on the walls, but luckily I’m always happy to come ‘home’ after being on the road. Daks: I just watched the preview for a documentary that you are producing. Can you tell me a little about that and when the final version will be released? Veda: 2020 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, but recollecting it was my 20-year anniversary as an independent recording artist, I was very happy to have a reason to turn the connotation around somewhat. Through the process of collecting video
interviews with peers, heroes, and fellow Canadians who pierced through to the international scene, I have now named the film “Artist to Artist.” I believe the dialogue should speak to up-andcoming artists from the heart. Honest accounts as to how hard you need to work, how to find confidence, yet maintain the ability to ask for help, and developing a lack of fear to fail—I want to illustrate all the recipes to success. I can’t wait to share it sometime further into 2021. Daks: So looking back on 2020 what was the most significant memory for you?
over my career come from empathy. The more I share, the more people share with me. None of us are alone. Daks: Thanks for sharing that Jaidene, so important! What does 2021 have in store for you?
Veda: While I’m only approaching forty now, I went for my first mammogram to assess a very large mass. Advice surrounding screening for women was raised to fifty recently, but multiple ultrasounds detected two more growths that we never would have found otherwise. That all led to preventative bilateral surgeries, as well as the removal of the larger mass which was still in question even after a biopsy. All of them turned out to be benign but I’m lucky to have addressed it so early, and frankly had the access to medical services at all during the pandemic.
Veda: I really feel the need to preface with the fact that COVID left so many of us at a standstill. I lost a lot of inspiration; my creativity and productivity disappeared for most of 2020. My latest album would have been released last year had it not put all of my recording plans on hold. Personally speaking, I would have felt insensitive to the times by releasing a new project—specifically producing, promoting, and selling an album—sharing music and inspiration in dark times will always be needed, but in precarious times we only needed to think about each other, certainly less about ourselves.
Having been an open book with my music community since the start, I shared the whole journey transparently. Vulnerability never fazes me, as my lyrical approach has always been ‘heart on sleeve.’ Every individual we know deals with health issues—changes to our lives and bodies as we age—but this was a rather intimate set of new scars I had to learn to embrace. Considering how many actual cancer survivors I know, and came to know through the process, it was comforting and humbling. Some of the greatest gifts I’ve experienced
Clearly, we’re all still navigating this new world day by day, so for once I am not being precious about the sentimentality of a specific release date. This new album will come together as organically as it needs to, and because of the brilliant material I’m covering, I know it will touch souls the way the original songs have always moved me. I hope it releases this year because I know we all need an escape, the magic of music, but that’s up to the heavens! I’ll count my blessings until then. Rare Magazine 149
Palo Santo and Huayruro Bracelet lunasundara.com
Maya’s Lens -
MAYA CUEVA BY MICHAEL DAKS
aya Cueva is an award-winning director and producer who began broadcasting for NPR’s “All Things Considered” at the age of sixteen through Youth Radio before directing her first documentary short The Provider, which won an Emmy at the College Television Awards. We sat down to talk about her deeply personal and political stories.
Daks: Hi Maya ! Before we get started on your work and career, can you give me a bit of background family history? I know it’s an interesting story. Cueva: Hi Michael. I’m Jewish Peruvian American. My dad is from Peru and immigrated here when he was eighteen. My mom is from Chicago and was raised in a Socialist family that was heavily involved in the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements. Daks: That sounds like a fiery combination. Can you tell me where you grew up? Cueva: I’m from the Bay Area here in Berkeley, California. My dad met my mom in Chicago and then followed her to the West Coast. In fact I made a podcast for NPR’s Latino USA about how they met.
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Alonso Parra, DP, Ale Libre Photo credit: Jasmine Curtis
M AYA C U E V A D O C U M E N TA RY FILM MAKER
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Daks: I heard that on your website. It’s such a great love story!
Daks: What was your inspiration to start making documentaries?
Cueva: It’s called Meshugganismo. It’s a word my mother created combining Meshuggah, which means ‘crazy’ in Yiddish and ismo, which is like an ism in Spanish. It’s a word to combine these two cultures.
Cueva: I was sixteen when I first became involved with Youth Radio based here in Oakland, California. It taught young students everything from music production to broadcast journalism and video editing. I went through the newsroom track. Through that I was able to be on NPR and write commentaries and features, and it was while I was at YR that I realised that I really wanted to be making documentaries and work as an audio producer.
Daks: Did you go to the university in Berkeley? Cueva: No, I went to Ithaca College in upstate New York. I managed to get a full ride to go there. It was a communication scholarship known as the Park S cholarship. Ithaca is an interesting place. They call it ‘Twelve square miles surrounded by reality!’
Cueva: Yes, it’s home to that and also close to Oakland. Huey P. Newton, who co-founded the Black Panther Party, went to Berkley High, which is the same school that I went to. There is a lot of history here in revolutionary politics. It’s been called the People’s Republic of Berkley!
Yolanda Protesting. Photo credit: Peter Quandt, DP, On The Divide
I majored in documentary studies and production and that’s where I made my first short film following a travelling abortion doctor, Dr. Shannon Carr, who travelled from New Mexico to Texas to provide abortions despite the threats she faced. It’s called The Provider.
Daks: Isn’t Berkley where the students revolted back in 1968?
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Melissa Bueno-Woemer, Producer, Ale Libre
Daks: So, what are you working on now? Cueva: I am working on my first feature with my co-director Leah Galant called On the Divide. We have been working on it for about 6 years. While we were still working on The Provider we made our way down to McAllen, Texas, and saw that there was only one abortion clinic there in the whole region. It serves a huge community including a lot of people who are undocumented. Our film follows the lives of three people who are connected to this last abortion clinic. One is the security guard of the clinic, who is a 67-year old Latino man. We are also following another woman who went to the clinic to have an abortion but was talked out of it by one of the protesters, so she becomes like a poster child for the pro-life movement. Our third
character is a volunteer who helps patients walk safely into the building. We are currently in post-production on the film. Daks: What’s next? Cueva: I just finished a short documentary about an undocumented organizer fighting for political asylum called Ale Libre. And now, I am just starting to look at a story about my grandfather on my mother’s side. He was a pretty famous doctor in Chicago, Dr. Martin Luther King’s doctor and was even a part of the free clinic that Fred Hampton and other members of the Black Panther Party created. His name was Dr. Quentin Young. Daks: That sounds like a documentary I would really like to watch!
W W W . M AYA M C U E V A . C O M I N S TA G R A M : @ M AYA . C U E V A _ T W I T T E R : @ M AY I TA C U E V I TA FA C E B O O K : W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / M AYA . C U E V A . 5
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Collection: I WANT YOUR MONEY AND YOUR CAR KEYS dameon.co.uk
FRANCESCA BAURFOUNDER FABLE & BASE
Francesca Baur –
Fable and Base INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL DAKS PHOTOGRAPHS SUPPLIED BY REBECCA DOUGL AS FOR E L M L EY N ATU R E R E S E R V E AND FRANCESCA BAUR. 158 Rare Magazine
MD. Hello Francesca! Can we start with a little about your art education? When did you first become interested in art and textile design? FB. Hi Michael! I’m from a family of artists, architects, seam-mistresses and designers, so creativity has always been a big part of my life. I trained as a printed textile designer in the early 1990’s at Middlesex University in England. Then whilst working as a freelance designer and also a teacher in textiles, I decided I wanted to develop a business that was forward thinking and sustainable to encourage others to design for longevity.
I was raised on one of the first organic farms in Britain and my Grandfather ran a text ile business in London. He established a lingerie business in Regent Street after he left the Munich lace house Spitzbergen & Klauber for England in 1930. My parents set up Ripple Organics, one of the first organic farms and delivery box schemes. I’m keen to embed the slow movement that I experienced as a child into my work as a designer. There has been a definite shift in the last ten years. People are now aware of the importance of transparency and traceability, and more questions are being asked as to where their products have come from and their environmental impact. In 2013 I launched a Kickstarter campaign and received European funding which enabled me to set up my studio in Whitstable in Kent in 2014.
MD. What artists have inspired your work? FB. There are so many artists and designers that I admire. I love the work of Sonia Delauney, Fernand Léger, Matisse and, Mondrian. MidCentury Scandinavian design is also a strong influence. Essentially I look for narratives that I can translate onto cloth. I’m intuitive in the way I work but like to use my everyday surroundings as a springboard for ideas. Colour and the natural form are my biggest inspirations. Living in Kent, The Garden of England means that I have rich resources on my doorstep and I use botanics and plant forms to inform most of my ideas. MD. How did the whole ‘grow your own flax’ project get started? FB. I explored the possibilities of growing flax in Kent by visiting Belgian linen producers to learn the Rare Magazine 159
process. I grew flax in the gardens at Pines Calyx, a zerocarbon venue near St Margaret’s Bay in Kent and also the Rochester Art Gallery gardens and then distributed 300 packets of flax seeds to volunteers. The project has been very timely with Climate Emergency being declared across the globe. Solving climate change requires system change. The textile Indust ry is the 2nd biggest polluter after food. Visiting Belgium linen growers gave me real insight into the possibilities of growing flax here in the UK. We have to learn new ways to produce our textiles and this visit gave me knowledge into the reasons why we no longer grow it here. We have the perfect soil & climate in Kent to grow flax! The Pines Calyx donated a large area of their gardens to develop a dye garden and a flax field. This was really beneficial for developing my own work as well as providing an educational resource and supplies for workshops.
Since starting Fable & Base I had intended to work with natural dyes . Through delivering this project I had the opportunity to experiment with new ways of working, making my own print pastes with the dyes grown in the dye garden as well as using natural dye extracts. The exhibition at Rochester Art Gallery Flax Fibres and Plant Dyes was the culmination of the work produced over the year. There were four partners in the project who each offered different aspects of the Kent landscape and opportunities to hold workshops exploring such processes as dyeing with foraged plants, spinning with flax, screen-printing with natural dyes, and seasonal walks to appreciate natural colour. I used each location to produce a wall hanging. There were linen streamers in myriad colours from the natural dye garden at Pines Calyx, hanks and curls of flax, some
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grown in Kent from seed and spun in workshops, paper made from fungus foraged in the woods at Doddington. There are patchwork quilts created by myself from the fabric dyed with foraged stuffs and mordanted to create different colours MD. I think you also create custommade textile designs for various clients? FB. I offer a bespoke design service, designing fabrics that are personal to the client, connecting to their local surroundings and landscapes. With bold and striking botanical designs I aim to bring the outside in. The dyes I use are water-based inks, which are approved by the Soil Association. I always print on quality base cloths, including hemp and organic cotton, and I make products to order to minimise waste.
farm on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. We used Francesca’s designs on cushions and curtains in our shepherd’s huts, which overlook the marsh landscape and fit perfectly with the modern rustic décor of the huts.” MD. What has the future got in store for you - what are you most looking forward to? FB. This project has changed the way I want to work as an artist. I will continue the relationship with the Belgian company for linen and I am sourcing heritage linens in France for printing and I will continue to develop my natural dye garden and growing fibres. I am planning future workshops , which will be announced on my websi te. It’s been an exciting journey so far and I’m looking forward to the next installment of my life on the Kent coast.
“Francesca developed bespoke designs for our overnight stays at the Elmley Nature Reserve, a 3,200acre National Nature Reserve and family
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Look Good. Feel Good. certainstandard.com
L AT O YA M C I N N I S F O U N D E R COCOACENTRIC
“Comparison Kills Creativity!” - LaToya McInnis, Founder CocoaCentric
BY: NEHA SURADKAR
aToya McInnis, a stylish southern girl with an innate love for jewelry and styling, converted her passion into a profession with a fantastic Afro-Centric accessory brand, Cocoacentric. Cocoa describes the brown hue and Centric refers to the centeredness. Cocoacentric is a brand of ethically handmade, curated, and vintage jewelry and accessories, inspired by fashion to make a bold statement and style.
The eldest among five children, McInnis had seen her parents dress well, and her mother’s bold and feminine style inspired her. She moved to San Francisco at the age of 13 with her mother and siblings in search of a better life. A natural and creative leader and with a keen interest in art, music and, fashion, she always impressed her colleagues with her sense of style. As a young girl, McInnis was obsessed with buttons on clothes and imagined them as earrings. She used jewelry as a medium to transform a look. Her years of experience as a jewelry merchandiser helped her understand fashion-jewelry. She could see and experience jewelry from both consumers’ perspective and as a budding jewelry designer. For Cocoacentric, McInnis derives her inspiration from the indigenous women and women of color, from their essence, vulnerability, and their natural ability to be strong, resilient, and beautiful at the same time. She also draws inspiration from music, film, pop culture, nature, and fiercely sophisticated, bold, and feminine women. All this makes her designs evoke emotions, vulnerability, and nostalgia. Her designs are tender and bold, fearless yet beautiful. They are made for women who are fashion-forward but not trendy, who love quality jewelry and
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Model: Deja Peters Photographer: Laura Tillinghast MUA: Celestine Pearl Jewelry: Cocoacentric Earrings Stylist: Angelica Garde Creative Direction: Brian Esterle Style Curation | Trystanne Cunningham Produced by: Rare magazine LLC A Fortunest Group
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her dream job did not stop her from trusting her abilities, learning, and moving in the direction where she is today. With Cocoacentric, she enjoys the independence of working for her brand and creating beautiful handmade products. She currently works from home and tries to balance her work and family. She starts her day with a prayer of gratitude and positivity, goes for a walk or jog, makes breakfast for her children, and gets started with planning and conceptualizing work. Being a night owl gives her enough time to work on her designs postdinner. In 2021, McInnis is looking forward to scaling up the brand and growing the online presence. She plans to expand her online vintage shop and would love to dress up socially conscious black actresses like Issa Rae, Solange, Kerry Washington, and Tracy Ellis Ross with Cocoacentric.
love to stand out. These consumers are socially aware and have an eye for art. Consumers admire Cocoacentric because of its originality and for being ahead of what is happening, yet still relevant and approachable. When asked about her favorite design from Coccoacentric, McInnis talks about The Waru Earrings. “The Waru earrings were created during a time when I was frustrated in my business. I worked a job, caring for my family, managing everything, and not seeing the abundance. The Waru Earrings have long sharp spikes representing the hard, sharp edges of growth and being uncomfortable. The chains on the earrings represent my longing to break free from a job where I couldn’t be creative and felt boxed in and undervalued. The Waru Earrings are so special to me because I see my story of frustration and angst in the design. However, they are spectacularly beautiful earrings!” Challenges are a part of every entrepreneur’s life, and McInnis is no different. Not getting 166 Rare Magazine
A music lover, a poet, a collector of vintage clothing, belts, and handbags, and an advocate of Social Justice and women empowerment, McInnis believes that empowerment is when you can think and speak for yourself. It means possessing confidence, intelligence, and fierce determination to achieve what you dream. It is also about not being ashamed of the past and honoring the ancestors that have paved the path before you. Being able to help others by sharing and mentoring is the driving force behind McInnis. Success to her is being able to do what she loves and share that with people she loves. She wants to create a space where she can give back to her community, share her love for art with them to boost their self-esteem, and open new opportunities that many youths are not aware of. LaToya McInnis’s message to every woman is “listen to your heart. Allow your intuition to be your ally. Be rebellious and relentless about your dreams. If it doesn’t work out, it’s okay—you can pick up where you left off and reveal your heart again. Also, never compare yourself to others but be inspired. Comparison kills creativity! That is also the message I would give a younger version of myself.”
Model: Deja Peters Photographer: Laura Tillinghast MUA: Celestine Pearl Jewelry: Cocoacentric Jewelry Stylist: Angelica Garde Creative Direction: Brian Esterle Style Curation | Trystanne Cunningham Produced by: Rare magazine
Think Out Of The Frame lunelvintage.com
Democratize The Luxury Handag Industry teddyblake.com
DIARRA BOUSSO FOUNDER THE DIARRABLU
It’s Who We Are –
Diarra Bousso on building a fashion brand informed by technology with respect for heritage. BY VANESSA OHAHA
ith a brand identity steeped in sustainability and a love for artisanal techniques, Diarrablu is changing fashion one garment at a time.
Diarra Bousso launched Diarrablu in 2018 with a unique objective—to merge her love of math and algorithms with her artisanal heritage. An idea that started while she was grading Algebra papers, Diarra stayed up all night graphing various equat ions and colouring the intersecting regions randomly. This overnight session inspired the new innovative design process for her prints. In her words, “Being from an artisan family, the natural next step was to fuse both worlds.”
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Though it can be confusing and hard to manage at times, it’s fulfilling on both sides.” Their pieces are known for being convertible and adjustable so that they can be worn as many times as possible, and every garment is made to order to avoid excess waste. Diarra built a brand focused on sustainability, inclusivity, and respect for tradition. Her innovation knows no bounds, Diarra created a digital-first, an on-demand production model that prevents the brand from creating exc ess inventory. Diarra once asked her uncle what the Senegalese word for sustainability was, he told her there wasn’t one because sustainability was a way of life. An ongoing conversation in fashion, especially with regard to sustainable fashion, is how African fashion can make strides towards a more sustainable industry. Ironic, because most indigenous cultures were inherently sustainable, so the question perhaps should be how African fashion will return to a way of life that was once theirs. A spontaneous person, she jumped right into starting her business. Armed with an iPad and fabric swatches, sh e began researching textiles and testing out prints. The first collection was born two months la ter and sold out. Diarrablu’s rare and exceptional prints are made from digitally generated math equations which are hand-painted to create the print and then printed onto fabrics. Starting a new business with a unique point of view was not without its challenges. The idea was in and of itself challenging, merging two worlds that appeared contradictory. The prints are developed digitally, and the manufacturing is very manual with artisans, some of whom do not have a formal education. “Going back and forth between the automatic and the authentic is at the heart of Diarrablu. We have an incredible amount of knowledge that’s been passed down generations. 174 Rare Magazine
Diarra thinks the choice must come from the customers. Artisans cannot dictat e markets and demand. There needs to be a switch in the fashion industry, one that is rooted in more education and transparency about the global supply chain. “Customers have the power to change things based on their purchasing choices. If the industry is pressured to value more sustainable and inclusive practices, then artisans can be encouraged to value and share their work.” Diarra also believes that technology should not replace, but rather enhance humans. Artisanal communities do not want to be erased by technology but rather celebrated and empowered. Striking the balance requires strong sensibility and respect for artisanal history and legacy. “They are at the centre. Our artisans love seeing their work celebrated on a global scale and their traditions valued. It’s not what they do, it’s who they are, it’s who we are.”
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Democratize The Luxury Handag Industry teddyblake.com
Opposite page: Teddy Blake Ava Silver 9" Light Grey Stampatto Leather Soft pebbled calf skin leather Real suede interior Silver toned hardware Model: Deja Peters Photographer: Laura Tillinghast MUA: Celestine Pearl Stylist: Angelica Garde Creative Direction: Brian Esterle Style Curation| Creative Direction: Trystanne Cunningham Produced by: Rare Magazine LLC A Fortunest Group
Born from A Dream, Inspired by Ancestors.
BY: VANESSA OHAHA
SILVANA L ANDA FOUNDER L ANDA BAGS
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ith a background in commercial and business strategy, Silvana Landa had first-hand insight into how big brands ran and how others were created. Before long, Silvana realized it was time to creat e something that was hers. “LANDA was born out of a dream and inspired by my ancestors.” As a child, Silvana spent hours watc hing her Italian grandfather work with leather in his workshop. The entrepreneurial spirit seems to run in her genes. Her grandfather was a cobbler; her father an entrepreneur who taught her much about the corporate world; her grandmother, a self-made pantsuit tailor; and her mom an entrepreneur in her own way. To Silvana, starting her own business felt inescapable.
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Originally conceived for people who use more than one bag in their daily lives, LANDA bags are multifunctional and carry little secret pouches that can convert one bag into a second bag in seconds. Despite having a wealth of experience, starting a new busines s was not without challenges. She had to deal with design, materials, factory partners, shipping costs, brand identity, and communication to mention a few. One thing that was important to Silvana—quality! Silvana was not going to compromise on quality; she wanted to create a product that would last years and would be functional and remain beautiful. She soon began researching raw materials. She wanted to approach the fashion industry in a new way, disrupt it and work on her own terms. So, she decided to work with artisans. The brand celebrates traditional manufacturing expertise and works with small fa ctories that handcraft each item.
“One of my favourite aspects of the craft side of our products is how those artisans apply several coats of eco-friendly paint in order to achieve a luxurious and seamless look and feel.” Sustainability was a key factor in creating her business. Leather is a very durable material, but to be more sustainable, LANDA is introducing (this summer) accessories made in vegan leather and other materials. “As a brand, we will continue to look for new and bette r options available in terms of production methods and materials.” 182 Rare Magazine
Silvana wants customers who shop consciously, who instead of buying four cheap ba gs a year, invest in better quality that will stand the test of time. Her contribution to a more sustainable fashion in dustry is creating quality products that are not based on trends but can be worn in every season and passed down to the next generatio n. When asked about the impact she hopes LANDA will have on the leather accessories industry, Silvana says, “Timeless wardrobe staples. We want our pieces to be worn over and over again.” What does the future of LANDA look like? Growth! Silvana’s goal is to reach customers all over the globe. They want to continue to add value by creating beautiful pieces that make sense.
Designed between Dublin and Lake Como, LANDA is in an expansion phase and their bags may very soon be in LA, Barcelona, Cape Town, Auckland, and maybe even Mars. “LANDA bags is my way of leaving my stamp on the world.” Rare Magazine 183
Welcome to the Vegan Revolution
Purses Wallets - Cactus & Pineapple Leather veganleatherco.com
Made in America and Celebrating Heritage BY VANESSA OHAHA
PHOTO CREDIT LEYL A ISMEN
IGUEHI JAMES FOUNDER LOVE IGUEHI
igerian-American Iguehi James has always loved fashion and was content with curating her own wardrobe with bright colours and unique prints. Little did she know that she would start a business.
Love Iguehi came out of a desire to create clothing that was stylish and within her budget. Iguehi was always asked by friends and even strangers where she got her clothes, and the spark was lit. In August of 2016, Love Iguehi was born after just one year of teaching herself to sew.
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Born and raised in Oakland, California, Iguehi runs her business from Oakland. As an Oakland native, it was important for her to create, build, and sustain something in and for her hometown. She calls her brand a ‘Made-inAmerica’ brand that showcases her Oakland roots and her Nigerian heritage.
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Love Iguehi is a custom clothing and limited ready-to-wear apparel brand. Every item is hand-cut, so print placement varies, ensuring that no two items are the same. All Love Iguehi merchandise is handmade. Iguehi created a brand that uses African wax prints to create contemporary clothing that in her words encourages her customers to connect back to themselves. A brand created out of a need for affordable yet stylish clothing, Love Iguehi creates handmade pieces with luxury brand quality at moderate pricing. Whi le the brand could never be a discount brand it may, in the future, have a high-end line. Iguehi hopes to always fill her space with fairly priced, high-quality products. Her favourite product? The Love Iguehi convertible wrap. This piece can be worn as a dress, as a skirt, as a vest, a top, and it can even be used as a stylish nursing cover-up. The wrap fits any body shape, type, and size and will easily be the most versatile piece in your closet. Currently, Iguehi curates and pulls the textiles and prints from which the pieces are made. Will she ever venture into designing signature Love Iguehi textiles and prints? She says, “We certainly look forward to doing so. Our ability to curate great prints is critical to the business. So, influencing the design or creating signature prints would be accretive.” Within Black communities worldwide, there are ongoing conversations about what is appropriation or gentrification of African prints, while a brand like Love Iguehi uses these unique, colourful prints to design for a diverse customer base. Does Iguehi ever worry about these issues? Iguehi thinks concerns about these issues are valid. Time and time again, we’ve seen things taken from Black people without giving credit to the origin. For Iguehi, it’s important that any brand using African prints identify them as such. She also hopes that consumers become aware of more African brands that allow them to acquire these prints from Africans. 188 Rare Magazine
“Our culture is so rich and vibrant, and I would not be surprised to see it adopted across the world. Hopefully, as they become more popular, African people will benefit economically as well.” What does the future hold for Love Iguehi? Iguehi hopes and prays for more growth. Currently an online retailer, Iguehi would like to expand to include brick-and-mortar sales channels. However, the plan is to remain relevant to their current customer base while expanding both locally and internationally. Rare Magazine 189
Nikki E Designs;
Handcrafted and Socially Conscious Jewelry BY: VANESSA OHAHA
icole Escalante designs for the modern woman who appreciates the power of ac cessories and hopes to enhance the goddess within her. Her pieces feature stones such as amethyst, agate, labradorite and, more. She only uses sterling silver dipped in 18K gold. These marvels are known for inspiring a woman’s softer femininity with a sense of boldness and confidence.
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NICOLE ESCAL ANTE FOUNDER NIKKI E DESIGNS
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Designed to be worn with a layered look this chic style of jewelry displays Nikki’s love for beauty through her creativity and passion for design. Beyond designing and handcrafting unique pieces of jewelry, Nikki is socially conscious. Aware of the impact she can have on her community, Nikki works with special needs children and other causes dear to her. With every sale of Nikki Design products 10% goes to the Leukemia and Lymp homa Society and during the holiday months 10% of every sale goes to the buying of toys for 100+ kids of the Chapman Center in Downtown
Miami. Her latest collection is ingenious. She incorporates beauty with functi onality. Many pieces from new and past collections can be worn in various ways. Jewelry is an object of beautiful adornment but is also an object of deeper meaning. Jewelry can be inspiring and we think that Nikki does just that with her carefully crafted designs. Please visit: https://www.nikkiedesigns. com to view all of innovative beautiful jewelry created by another masterful creative beauty. Rare Magazine 195
Zero Waste Fashion
Spring 2021 - Style For Brighter Days tonle.com
“I Sew” BY CRISTINA DEPTUBLA
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SHANNON ASHFORDF O U N D E R TO M F O O L E RY
hannon Ashford, founder of clothing company Tom Foolery, describes herself simply. ‘My name is Shannon Ashford, and I sew.’
Ashford learned to sew as a young girl, from a neighbor who taught her. She woke up in the morning before school to create unique outfits to wear, and put together prom dresses for her friends (which they actually wore!). When asked why she sews and why she launched a clothing company, Ashford, again, has a pithy, perky answer. ‘I make clothes for the same reason I drink whiskey and never wear shoes- it makes me happy. I started Tom Foolery to create problem-solving designs and to make people’s lives better.’ The models on the company’s webpage reflect that joyful aesthetic. Although there are a few conventionally modeled pictures and some runway photos, many women skateboard, climb rocks and rope, blow
bubbles, and giggle in their rompers. Tom Foolery started with the simple idea of creating rompers that allow women to use the ladies room without sitting on a drafty stall clutching their naked chest with a jumpsuit around their ankles while frantically tracking passers by in the crack next to the door. The solution was this: an open, overlapping side seam with a drop down seat. According to Ashford, ‘[Tom Foo lery] began simply- one woman, one sewing machine, a limited knowledge of pattern making, and a hankering to create clothing with integrity.’ Part of their idea of integrity is a commitment to environmental responsibility. They use eco-friendly fabrics, one made from recycled plastic bottles and the other from responsibly sourced eucalyptus tencel colo red with natural dyes.
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‘From text iles to labor, our goal is to leave our planet and our people better than we found them.’ During Covid, they are temporarily between suppliers, so they are using sustainab ly produced double gauze. They hope they can find a new supplier soon. In addition to the ecological sustainability focus, Ashford and Tom Foolery also strongly believe in giving back. They support scholarships for young women to attend Heri Sewing College in Malindi, Kenya and are working to set up a sewing business to employ those women once they graduate. Tom Foolery shares a bit about some of the women who have received scholarships on their website. Each of them models a jumpsuit they designed and crafted. Also, for the past two years, Tom Foolery has partnered with Thread International, a nonprofit that has created thousands of jobs around the world for people in need. ‘[We’re using] their jersey made from 50% cotton and 50% recycled plastic bottles collected in Port Au Prince, Haiti. We are very proud and excited to be working with them.’ Tom Foolery is currently working to set up recycling centers and sewing shops in developing countries all around the world. Our vision is to create completely closed loops from bottle or plant to finished garment all in the same city. It is going to take time but we are confident we will get there. And they are currently working with Groceries Apparel in Los Angeles, near their homebase, to manufacture their first largescale run of jumpsuits. Groceries Apparel shares their environmental and social justice concerns. When asked why she chose the jumpsuit as their main product, Shannon had a ready answer. ‘I chose jumpsuits because I truly believe they are t he perfect manifestat ion of the energy and adventure of a tomboy packaged as a classy lady.’ Rare Magazine 201
Structural Cuts, Bold Prints, Colorful Accents Sustainable Solids diarrablu.com
“Taking Over” The Dynamic Frankie Tavares
agnetic. Dynamic. Stunning. Warm. Graceful. Frankie. Influencer, model and designer Frankie Tavares is showing the fashion world how it should be done with a new capsule collection and continued social media success.
B Y M AT T H E W P A U L R O B I N S O N
With a healthy social media following, the go-to influencer understands that genuine connections and kindness is what fashion needs right now. She recently launched a capsule collect ion
M AT T H E W P A U L R O B I N S O N @ M AT T H E W . P A U L . R O B I N S O N F R A N K I E TA V A R E S @ F R A N K I E TA V A R E S 204 Rare Magazine
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with FTF Lab, the premier collection from Fashion To Figure’s program tha t will feature limited edition collections from influencers and style icons. The collection centers Women Bosses and features a jumpsuit, top and trousers. “I’m at a point in my life where I’m bossing up every day.” About the clothes, Frankie says, “I wanted my pieces to make you feel like the expensive Queen you are with effortless yet
sophisticated sex appeal. Thes e pieces can be worn as modest or sexy as you want them.” The Evelina Tie Waist Jumpsuit is curve-enhancing and functional; it features a wellfit trouser and a button front kimono sleeve top. It’s shown with heels but would most definitely pair well with a pair of fresh chucks (Converse). Scrolling through Frankie’s Instagram feed is like playing dress-up with your most stylish homegirl; her clothes fit her perfectly and she moves in high heels as if she’s wearing a pair of sneakers. Whether in a sleek faux leather bikini top, paired with distressed je ans and temporary tattoos down each arm or sensually draped over an ottoman wearing a punchy pink flirty frock, or in one of her Frankie Tee’s graphic t-shirts with big hoop earrings,
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“Typically, they trust me. They say okay, we are going to send this to you and just do what you want.” She continues, “I’ll get something, whether it’s one outfit or ten outfits and my brain starts going. I think this will look good here, this will look good there, and I won’t stop until I find that location or I find whatever accessories I need.” The selfproclaimed control freak takes her creativity seriously and her photos make that very obvious.
Frankie made quarantine fashion look exceptionally chic and accessible all while having a great time. Last year, her athome photo shoots rivaled glossy editorial spreads and her IGTV appearances were a real event. When one speaks to Frankie, she’s friendly and straight forward; no pretense, no phoniness. In part, it’s her natural charm that gives her an edge over other influencers when she is pro moting brands or selling clothes. Taking her advice feels good. It feels correct. It feels genuine. It makes one feel confident in what they bought f rom her or because of her. The hardworking wife, mother of three, dog-parent, sister and daughter, makes photo shoots look easy; “DIY is in her nature.” When it comes to her brand partnerships, the brands know that Frankie is the type of creative that gets the job done.
Though, Frankie refers to herself as a control freak, she is more of a creative director with a keen eye for details. The brand she is directing is herself – her career. The renaissance woman does a lot: modeling, blogging, and designing. Her line Frankie Tee’s debuted early in 2020 and was a complete hit. Rare Magazine 207
–people they can relate to. More than ever, the influencer and the blogger have more selling power. They are more effective than something that’s posted on a site that is heavily edited.” Frankie is absolutely correct. Since March 2020, one of America’s favorite pastimes, shopping, has had a complete makeover. Masks are required almost everywhere you go, even with vaccines being administered, and shopping with friends is a thing of the past. Shopping for apparel and beauty products in particular is low on the list of risks one wants to take during a pandemic – apparel sales are mostly down across the board as are beauty sales. The time for change – in the fashion and beauty industries – quickly went from “a thing that needs to happen” to “a thing that is happening now and happening fast.” Brands who use influencers as part of their marketing plans avoid stagnation.
Phrases like, “Gordita, sí. Fea, No!” and “Pendejo Free” turn a tee shirt into an advertisement of one’s thoughts. Frankie Tee’s was the model’s first step towards her Fashion Designer/Entrepreneur endeavors. Which she described as her “ultimate goal.” Frankie began her career five years ago as a model for designer Monif C. Since then she has worked with Fashion To Figure, Free Country Apparel, Poshmark and designer Byron Lars. As well as JCPenney, Forever21, Macy’s, Stitch Fix, Swimsuits For All, Eleven 60 and Rue 107. When speaking about the future of fashion, she states, “this is the direction that it [fashion] is going in.” Referring to more influencer-driven collections and partnerships, she continues, “...and even after quarantine is over, I think businesses are now recognizing that the customers are responding more to real life people 208 Rare Magazine
Influencers should not be viewed as taking advantage of a dire situation. For the past 10-12 years (pre-Covid), influencers have been taking the place of (in-store) sales associates. Gone are the days when one waited to visit a department store, boutique or specialty store to buy their wardrobe from their favorite sales associate. With stores changing their hours of operation and cutting staff, shoppers and fashion lovers have a harder time buying from stores. Now they consult with their new favorite sales associates –influencers and bloggers. Frankie is one of the best out there. She has the gift and talent for connecting with people. Her warmth and approachability make her stand out in a very crowded field. All of her success has not gone to her head, in fact, she says she has “total imposter syndrome” and “hopes others know that they too can have similar success.” Humble she may be, but she will undoubtedly succeed and take over.
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Structural Cuts, Bold Prints, Colorful Accents Sustainable Solids diarrablu.com
Structural Cuts, Bold Prints, Colorful Accents Sustainable Solids diarrablu.com
Haute Fantasy MARTINE BRUN FOUNDER M A R T I N E B R U N J E W E L RY
How Martine Brun Makes Everyday Objects into High Fashion Jewelry BY MARTINE BRUN
artine was born in Grenoble, located in the southeast region of France. As a discreet and flirtatious little girl who loved dressing up and inventi ng characters, she enjoyed her dolls who were the true accomplices in achieving all her imaginary personas. She believes her passion for fashion and accessories was sparked by her extremely vivid imagination and curiosity at a young age. Following her father’s death, Martine was a typical rebellious teenager. She refused to continue her studies as an accountant and decided to work against conformity and find her true love. After making the decision to leave school, she worked odd jobs, including one in a jewelry store where she found her passions ignited. Her new job also afforded her the opportunity to sell her own creations.
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Her style is permeated by her bold imagination, and she surprises her admirers with the diversity of her work and use of materials. Martine began to reveal her taste by contrasting high fashion with everyday objects. With that was born her unmistakable look which leaves her pieces to be objects of lust and desire. Each piece collected and assembled tells a sto ry. With the support of her new life companion, Thomas Gonzales, she creates necklaces, earrings, breastplates, bracelets, and more— unique pieces of Haute Fantasy Jewels. Quickly, her unique and original creations were spotted in the artistic and fashion world, and photographers flocked from all o ver to collaborate with Martine in fashion magazine and editorial pieces. Today, Martine has found her signature and is happy to be in a balance between technicality and creativity. Everything is a source of inspiration to Martine, materials like car hubcaps, air vents, shower pipes, chandeliers, etc. Each piece is cleaned, pierced, welded, or glued with the precise idea of harmony and beau ty giving birth to a cohe rent and unique work of art. The Martine BRUN style is extraordinary. Each creation is a work of art for those who dare to wear them! I G @ M A R T I N E B R U N J E W E L RY
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SKin Amity Purity
Skin Amity provides amazing organic skincare, soul care and body care products produced using plant-based material. Targeting daily skin concerns to help with smoother texture, deep/surface level hydration, pigmentation and uneven tone. Skin Amity takes pride in sourcing for top of the line ingredients based on their purity, integrity, and lowest impact on the ecosystem Plant based FREE of sulphates, parabens, phalates, dyes, or artificial fragrances.
Inclusive BeautyDiverging from Standards NEHA SURADKAR
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istorically, women were forced to conform to the ideal “standards” of beauty. It is a socially constructed notion that physical attractiveness is one of a woman’s most important assets and something all women should strive to achieve and maintain.
An attractive woman was always defined by her slender build, a full and generous bosom, a narrow waist, a curvy bottom, a well-defined jawline, high cheekbones, full lips, a rosy complexion, and thick, long, and flowing hair. A slight deviation from these beauty standards was considered exotic. If there was a huge deviation, the woman would be regarded as non-attractive. Beauty standards are cultural, personal, and international. There are some beauty standards which are part of a particular society, while others are recognized globally. Women have been subjected to some form of phy sical inconvenience, which could be torture also, to conform to these beauty standards.
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If we go back in history and look at the definition of an ideal woman in various cultures, we’ll find many such instances of physical agony. The Chinese wanted their women to have small feet, and hence a young girl’s toes were broken, bound with bandages, and put in small size shoes. The corset of the 18th or early 19th century, constricted movement, restricted breathing, compressed the abdomen and led to poor digestion and deformation of the rib cage, just to get the desired hourglass silhouette with the narrowest waist.
defined by beauty standards and are not willing to conform to those if they are not comfortable with them. There have been demands and protests to consider all women beautiful.
Coming to the present times, it was not too long ago when stick-thin models walking the ramp was desirable. To conform to this beauty standard, many teenage girls and women fell prey to eating disorders. Getting the ideal body and facial features lead many women to go under the knife.
Beauty brands, fashion labels, and the media all are making conscious efforts to promote the idea of inclusive beauty. We no longer see only young, white, skinny women on the cover page of an international magazine or the runway. Beauty brands no longer focus only on giving you a lighter complexion. In fact, the word “whitening” has been dropped by a lot of brands. Enhancing your beauty by not changing yourself is the new trend.
Gradually things are changing, and in the last couple of years, we have seen a lot of changes in how women are perceived and how women want to be perceived. Women no longer want to be
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Hence, came the term “Inclusive Beauty.” It is all about making room for women of colour, obese women, bald women, women with wrinkles, women with grey hair, women with vitiligo, transgender women, and so on. Everyone is beautiful, and everyone is welcome.
It is perfectly okay for women not to
colour their hair and show off greys, which was frowned upon until a few years ago. Curvy and plus-size women have also found their niche, and modeling is not restricted to skinny women. Makeup brands are coming out with a range of colours that go well with deeper skin tones. Brands have changed their marketing strategy to make it more inclusive. Celebrity campaigns do not have the same impact as having real people in the campaign. Millennial women look for authenticity. They like to associate with relatable brands. It makes them feel more valued, and brands can make women feel special by customizing the experience for them. Inclusivity is all about celebrating diversity. These differences that we have, which deviate us from “standards,” make us interesting and unique. It is all about celebrating our differences and making sure everyone gets a unique experience.
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For Skin That Glows In Any Light honuaskincare.com
JASMINE CURTISFOUNDER AVOCURL
F E E D YO U R H A I R
AVOCURL Leads the Way for Natural Hair Products BY BRIAN ESTERLE
PHOTO CREDIT JASMINE CURTIS
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onesty is everything in a relationship. But do you ever feel like you’re continually being lied to and manipulated into believing something that’s slowly causing harm from the inside out? As business owner Jasmine Curtis puts it, like a toxic relationship, it’s time to break up from the toxic chemicals that are abundant in natural hair products today, especially those targeting Black women. With a passion for science and an energy that is so electric it could light up a whole town, Jasmine is taking a stand against harmful chemicals catered to Black individuals in hair care and cosmetics. According to
one study, over 75 percent of cosmetic products marketed towards Black women contain harmful ingredients. But only 60 percent are deemed toxic to the general public. Let that sit for a minute. It’s time to fight back against blatant racism in mainstream practices, and AVOCURL is leading the way. Handmade in a brick and mortar, AVOCURL is a range of natural hair products created from healthy ingredients and free of toxic chemicals. When you look at the product label, you won’t see any five-syllable words that will leave you blowing bubbles. Instead, you’ll find ingredients you recognize (and that might leave you hungry) like avocado, coconut, and banana.
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W eak federal regulation has allowed cosmetic companies to get away with false advertisements, including the use of subjective scientific words like “natural” and “organic.” With shifty wording, companies can say something is natural when, in reality, it’s detrimental to our healt h. Remember, there are plenty of “natural” chemicals on the periodic table—like ammonia. AVOCURL is here to shine a light on this reality. Raised in the Bay Area, Jasmine’s research began when she moved to Ithaca to attend Cornell University. She noticed the products she was usin g were causing her hair to fall out and become extremely dry. While in the dorm, she got a new pair of glasses, so to speak, and started looking at healthy ingredients for natural hair care. She was inspired by the modern natural hair movement led by Black women both on and offline. These women uplift and celebrate Black natural beauty while sharing information and personal experiences for proper natural hair products and care on digital platforms like YouTube. W hen she no ticed the parents she was babysitting for only used olive oil to hydrate their baby’s skin, she began to look at the things in her kitchen entirely differently. Obsessing over ingredient lists, Jasmine began to make natural hair products in her dorm room using real ingredients, thus developing the foundation of AVOCURL. Since then, Jasmine has been on an upward journey as a self-starter entrepreneur, showing a spirit that will settle for nothing less than success. Jasmine switched from a pre-med focus to biology and public health
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and used racist professors who attempted to stifle her stride as motivation to educate herself and initiate one-onone c o n s u l t a t i o n s f r o m food science and chemistry experts on campus. After graduating, Jasmine e n t e r e d a p itch contest and incubator program, WBENC (Women Business Enterprise National Council), where she presented AVOCURL. She took second prize and brought home the fact that the natural hair product and cosmetic industries should not isolate themselves from their impacts on the environment. We forget when we shower, all the chemicals we use i n o u r products go down the drain a s w e l l — a problem Jasmine took into account and solved with her ingredients.
Since then, AVOCURL has officially launched and started to grab the world’s attention. Jasmine has recently been on ABC’s The View and Good Morning America, among other programs. When Jasmine isn’t promoting the public’s and the environment’s health, she enjoys sharing delicious vegan food she cooks with loved ones, dancing on her roller skates, staying close with her family, and painting. Where does Jasmine get all the strength to do this? Her community, her family, and the idea that she is part of a legacy—a piece in the puzzle in this moment of time, following the steps of Madam CJ Walker, Annie Malone, and the like. She adds that if you want to start your business, just get started. Stop the procrastination, and remain rooted in the reason why you started in the first place. This mantra is why Jasmine Curtis is going to achieve whatever she desires, starting with AVOCURL opening up natural wellness salons that people deserve. Rare Magazine 231
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“Capabilities are Boundless” - Rene Harding, Founder Skin Amity
orn in Guyana to entrepreneurial parents and raised mostly in Canada, Rene Harding is the face behind the skincare brand Skin Amity. While working for a retail chain in Toronto, Rene decided to develop her own skincare brand and kept working towards it. In a span of three years, and after a lot of hard and smart work, Harding launched her brand. The concept behind the brand name Skin Amity is quite unique. Amity refers to “friendly relations,” and through her skincare products, Harding wants her customers to have a unique, friendly relation with their skin. At Skin Amity, they teach about incorporating Soul Care into skincare, thus making it a conscious and mindful feeling every time you apply their products. The kindness you offer to our skin from the surface manifests healing on the inside. The products focus on having the kindest and healthiest relationship with your skin.
BY: NEHA SURADKAR PHOTO CREDIT: L AKEISHA MANNING
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RENE JAIDI FOUNDER SKIN AMITY
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makes her feel on top of the world. Reaching those heights is not usually a cakewalk. Rene faced her share of challenges when the pandemic hit just before the launch of her brand. Balancing everything and not letting obstacles get in her way, she went ahead with the launch when the time was right and is now proud of handling things the way she did. Rene plans to add more products to the Skin Amity repertoire, with everything opening up gradually, keeping them unique and original. Though worldwide shipping is available for the brand, she wishes to bring Skin Amity to physical store locations worldwide to make it available easily. A family-oriented person, Rene likes to spend time with her family and dog, Apollo, when not working. She wants to keep the right work-life balance, and as a true Libra, she is doing a great balancing job! For her, preparing in advance and setting a structure to the day helps to fulfill both work and family commitments. She has her to-do list ready the night before. And throughout the day, she keeps At Skin Amity, there’s something for everyone looking to maintain a healthy glow and targeting skin concerns like uneven tone, dehydration, and so on. They cater to all demographics and age groups. Everyone can find something for their specific needs. Harding feels that an empowered person should be able to spark inspiration in others to take a chance at making their vision a reality while staying true to themselves. She has converted her hobby into a profession and is loving it. The testimonials that come in for Skin Amity and expanding the brand 236 Rare Magazine
referring back to it and checking off things. She enjoys organizing the orders and preparing the parcels for shipping. As with all entrepreneurs, multitasking is the way to go for Harding, too. She has donned the hats of a photographer, editor, writer, creative director, product/graphic designer, formulator and a visionary for Ski n Amity. She is also passionate about music, art and books, which keep her motivated and on the go. Harding’s a dvice to all the women who want to start their entrepreneurial venture is t o be consistent and passionate about what you love. Never think of yourself as incapable and always ask questions to those in a similar niche as yours. Do your research, start slow, have a vision and let that vision drive you. Visualize
what you want to achieve and af firm positively to keep moving forward. Rene feels that parents play a significant role in how a child turns out to be. She is grateful to her parents for not burdening her with their wishes and instead letting her decide what she wants to do and giving her the creative freedom, which is the driving force behind what she is today. As an entrepreneur, Rene loves the fact that she has created a space to educate people about self-love in an innovative way. Seeing others learn something about themselves or Skin Amity makes her day, especially when their faces light up, and that is when she knows that she absolutely loves what she is doing. For Rene Harding, “Capabilities are Boundless!” More power to you!
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Sustainable Handmade Statement Jewelry ayrtancom
Eliminate single use items by creating reusable sustainable alternatives Providing the world with sustainable choices End-to-end sustainability across the value chain, from cradle to grave.
Creating Civically Engaged Citizens,
Ready to Change the World BY NIZIE LOKMAN & KARMA BENNETT
sing the Expeditionary Learning model, the Detroit Achievement Academy is one of the highest performing schools in the country. For an example of their innovative learning model, students as young as second grade use their studies to answer the question, “how can a citizen make a positive impact on a community?”
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Viewing historic changemakers through the lens of narrative nonfiction, young scholars will seek to become modernday Detroit citizens who are solving real problems in their community in the here and now. This example of a learning expedition reflects the Detroit Achievement Academy’s principles, in emphasizing social interaction as integral to the learning process. They emphasize that knowing students— individually, culturally, and developmentally— is as important as the curriculum. Rather than rote memorization, their approach emphasizes, “How the adults at school work together to accomplish their shared mission is as important as individual competencies; lasting change begins with the adult community.”
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Model: Deja Peters Photographer: Laura Tillinghast MUA: Celestine Pearl Jewelry: Mate Masie Earrings Stylist: Angelica Garde Creative Direction: Brian Esterle Style Curation | Trystanne Cunningham Produced by: Rare magazine
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Re-Coding Cultural Algorithms
Sabrina Hersi Issa on Redirecting Cash and Influence to Empower Human Dignity BY CRISTINA DEPTULA
Sabrina Hersi Issa, founder of Be Bold Media, describes her work with a splash of humor: “I’m a human rights technologist, which is how I’ve come to describe my work applying a justice framework to technology solutions and get my mother to stop asking me about going to law school. In practice, this means I leverage both technology and media to improve human dignity.” She didn’t know how all the details would turn out when she first launched Be Bold Media, but developed structures as she went along, guided by her values. “At the time I started my company, I did not have a clear line to what exactly I was building. I just knew in my gut that there had to be a better way, and I was committed to figuring out my path toward that.” For Issa, this work directly impacts people’s lives and is ultimately about respect, especially for Black and Brown people. She thinks of systems we encounter in our dai ly lives and what the ‘user experience’ would be for people from diverse backgrounds. 246 Rare Magazine
SABRINA HERSI ISSA FOUNDER BE BOLD MEDIA
This line of thinking started when she acted as translator when her grandmother voted and saw firsthand how difficult the democratic process was for non-native English speakers. This experience led her to create software matching volunteer translators with immigrant voters. Harnessing technology, and how decision makers apply it to improve the lives of ordin ary people, particularly those in marginalized communities, is Issa’s passion. This inspires much of her human rights activism and research, her angel investment, and her organizational consulting with Be Bold Media. Be Bold Media helps organizations improve diversity and inclusion, harness digital technologies, develop media strategies, and scale up their marketing to a global level. Proudly led by a Black, feminist, Millennial woman, the agency works through a data-driven, evidencebased social justice lens. However, she says the greatest resource she brings to organizations
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has more to do with her heart and perspective than with technology. “I find the most useful expertise I have that has been valuable to all the companies and organizations I advise during the pandemic has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with my deep and intimate understanding of grief, trauma, and resiliency.” Be Bold Media fosters a variety of social justice initiatives known as Impact Labs through independent partner Bold Impact. These include the People’s Iftar, a fundraising campaign for grassroots Muslim community organizations, and the Survivor Fund, empowering sexual violence survivors. Many of these projects, Issa says, are efforts to create spaces she wished she had for herself when she was growing up as a young Muslim immigrant woman of color. When asked how to best help marginalized communities, Issa encourages society to empower them with resources and to amplify their voices. “The most important action society can
take to shift capital and investment to under-resourced communities is to explicitly resource them, explicitly elevate leaders with lived experiences, and explicitly live in the value of interconnectedness.”
Issa currently serves as a Practitioner Fellow at Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab, recommending policies addressing intersectional impacts of Covid-19 on communities of color.
She’s also the founder of the Bold Prize, an annual crowdfunded financial prize and recognition for Black women leaders w ho courageously speak truth and promote justice within the tech industry. She organizes Rights x Tech, a forum for technologists and activists to explicitly explore the intersections of techno logy and power, as well as a digital security summit for activists.
Issa also helps the organizations she consults to adjust to Covid-19. She has had the privilege of working with many organizations that made diversity, equity, and inclusion integral aspects of their structures from the beginning. Still, she urges every organization, as hard and scary as it seems, to make those issues priorities not less-crucial goals to sacrifice to survive the virus.
Issa reminds us, “We must reckon with the complexity of race and power in the world and in our technology. Without integrating the realities of racism and oppression into how we build technology, we will only continue to face the world as it presently exists.”
“Bravery is the belief in the sun rising again. When we meet tomorrow, we all should get to enjoy the light.”
“Algorithms and artificial intelligence are created by biased human beings and do not automatically make our social systems more just. “We cannot bypass th e fact that algorithms are regularly found to compound and expand injustices and biases in order to keep a cadence of convenience. These algorithms may make certain processes more efficient but efficiency is not fairness.”
When asked how Rare Magazine readers could support her work, Issa shared several ideas. People can sign up for her newsletter, suggest their organizations hire Be Bold Media as consultants, and attend Be Bold’s monthly virtual Rights x Tech forums, “joyful, lively, and inclusive learning spaces” exploring tech, power, and human rights. Most of all, though, she urges us to work together in community for our highest values. “Set to work showing up for yourself in a way where you are living in the light.”
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The best ingredients for your crown avocurl.com
BY NIZIE LOKMAN
asreen Ma, a Certified Brain Health Coach from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, speaks about parenting and educating children with Meaningful exhilaration from within.
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A believer that every human life possesses unique potential, Nasreen Ma, a former founder of a brain development school Tadika Daya Bestari (TDB), created new brain capability paths for excellence in young kindergarten students.
Her contribution to society became apparent as she appeared as a guest on the “Hello Doctor’” program on Malaysia’s live national TV in 2019, discussing dyslexia and hyperlexia issues in children. While the school has been bringing out the best in children since 2010, unfortunately, it shut down for good due to the pandemic i n June 2020. As a chirpy and bubbly woman, Nasreen took the pandemic positively and decided to continue to provide a one-stop solution for children, parents, and educators. From rationalizing a school to establishing a consulting entity called Meaningful Activat ion, she continued to help parents and educators overcome challenges with children by deepening how the brain and body respond to the three-prong approach of movement, nutrition, and communication. Exploring the meaning of a mothering mindset and how nurturing, educating, and teaching begins at a young age, similar to the long-life process of mothering a child.
and comprehension disability as I did. So, I started to learn all about brain development and parenting through reading materials. I diligently practiced what I’ve learned on my daughter’s brain health even when she was in my womb. She was one of the easier ones to deal with due to all the stimulation she received. It grounded her well and, by eight months, she communicated with sign language, which reduced unnecessary frustrations. By two-plus years old, she was reading on her own. Watching her development healed some parts of me. It made me realize how powerful it is to leverage o n interest to learn something with ease. This was a big motivator to continue with research on brain development.
NL: What was the motivation to study brain development in children? NM: Even though childhood seemed normal and regular with plenty of physical activities, I struggled with academics. I realized I couldn’t digest what I was reading well enough. I just couldn’t score on tests no matter how hard I studied. I often wondered why I had difficulty making sense of what I read and putting thoughts on p aper. I knew from a young age I had a brain that is always on overdrive mode. A very restless brain, perhaps, to which I realized I had undetected AttentionDeficit/ Hypertension Disorder (ADHD). While I was pregnant with my el dest daughter, I wasn’t aware that I had ADHD yet. But, I knew that I didn’t want my eldest daughter to face a reading
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NL: What led you to deepen your curiosity in human brain potential for other childre n? NMIt started with my curiosity about why I struggled in school, yet I excelled well in college. I was comfortable with problem-solving and the will to survive as well as multitasking. I did make several achievements, including obtaining a Master’s deg ree on scholarship and awarded the best lecturer in my department in my short stint lecturing. After running my brain development school, TDB, in the first year, my reading ability significant ly improved. That’s when I realized everyone has their unique potential and abilities. It needs a different solution, especially for those who go through dramatic lif e challenges. Our education system is only fit for certain types of children. Hence, I wanted to find ways to support children like me, who are not made to benefit much from the existing school system. What better way to look into brain function especially seeing the remarkable progress and potential in the children. 254 Rare Magazine
While observing my daughter, she went through advanced development in her school at one-year-old, the teachers were curious about how I developed her at that level. I thought to myself, if I can build my own child into advanced learning, it could help a lot of other struggling children, too. My daughter’s school triggered the interest to get qualified with a Montessori certification. I became interested to learn more about the Montessori method of education. It focuses on concrete foundation building and a friendlier approach on academics towards children’s natural ability by going back to basics and targeting the foundation building of the brain and body of every child. It was apparent that many people succumbed to the existing systems and disregarded the more important aspect of foundation building in children. Personally, I was dreaming of an education revolution by running a school differently through a threeprong approach—facilitating children, educating/supporting parents, and training teachers. Unfortunately, the
Montessori shut down right after I completed the course. I couldn’t find another school quite like it, so I decided to create one on my own.
NL: How was your school different from others in Malaysia? NM: Most kindergarten schools in Malaysia are skewed to academics learning, reading, writing, and counting. Tadika Daya Bestari (TDB) champions holistic child development through combining brain and body wellness, communication, creative and meaningful learning, and active inquiry. Our school had a very unique program introducing kids to the world. Knowing how much kids are exposed to now, traveling more, seeing and exposed to all kind s of information, we focused on meaningful learning, which r eally connected with the kids. This way, the teach ers automatically had to increase their general knowledge while
preparing for the session with the children. We had both neuro-typical children and kids with challenges—be it development, learning, or behavior. So because we tackled brain development from the very start to support a child’s foundation, we could already s ee significant children’s progress. Through word of mouth, however, we were getting more special kids. I began to dive further into supporting special kids with more in-depth research. I found that everything I did for the special kids benefitted the neurotypical kids, too. Many nutrition picky eating issues, parenting challenges, developmental and communication delays, and skills have been addressed during the 10 years in operation. All are areas supporting every single child’s foundation building. My dream for TDB to become a wholesome school for all children became a reality, but the pandemic short-lived it.
NL: TDB was shut down after 10 years. How did you transition from an entrepreneur in education to become a certified brain health consultant during this pandemic? How did you get the name Meaningful Activation as your consulting firm? NM: With very controlled movement during the lockdown and the cessation of operation of the school, we decided to offer an interim program for parents from July to December 2020, hoping that within six months, they’d be able to find another school. My heart went to the children in need. We also introduced the Pandemic Parenting Guide for parents and guardians facing so many challenging moments managing children who are cooped up at home.
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I still remembered when the school shut down in June 2020, and we were still servicing some parents and their kids. These parents do see the value of what we do because they are willing to travel all the way and pay the higher consultation fees. As we are no longer operating as a school, we summed up what we’re doing with everyone as “Meaningful Activation” from within through synchronizing the brain and body. In adding more value to my clients, I continued to invest in training because I just feel it is never enough. I decided to upskill myself to a certified brain health consultant and coach and a Feldenkrais Method Practitioner in the US from 20182020. I have been traveling back and forth between Malaysia and the US. However, the Feldenkrais training has been put on hold due to the pandemic. I have one more year to go. This accreditation will give more credibility as a brain health consultant and coach to my clients, children, and parents in maintaining a strong foundation of brain health and body wellness. Parents would have the capacity and knowledge to bring their children up to be wellbalanced, functional adults.
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NL: On your observation, what are the most significant problems women face in this new norm? NM: From my experience as a health and wellness consultant at a corporate company, I could see many women who are surviving on unstable foundations due to the lack of foundation building during childho od. Or perhaps they have experienced some form of childhood trauma. As they grow into adulthood, they may be living rather unhealthy lifestyles, all of which affect the ability of the person to really enjoy living a productive, less stressful life. The everyday responsibilities in integrating work, family, and children and taking care of themselves during this pandemic can be extremely challenging. This gets more serious if their spouses are busy and can’t provide the time and support in the area of child care or give the woman some time off to recharge. If time management is not adequately planned, they will eventually experience adrenaline exhaustion or some might suffer depression and anxiety. Mothers with special kids who
may have more challenges could most likely be completely exhausted because it is tough to be living under the conditions of a pandemic where children are being kept at home. This pandemic has made us re-evalua te the importance to humanity amidst modern living. When we go back to basics, a lot of the complications can be removed and simplified. NL: What are the main takeaways you would like to inspire others, especially women? NM: A lot of women put priorities on others before themselves. I hear it all the time. I wish that women will love, respect, and build a connection with themselves first. So that they can live on a solid foundation and be a more capable provider in every way to all those around them whether they depend on them or not, especially children and spouses. Our biggest fans are our kids and family members, following us as mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically strong, and stable women who are doers, thinkers, and influencers. Being a w oman is about mothering your mindset with tender loving care. It is just a s important as how you would mo ther your child with love and attention. Meaningful Activation is about transforming communities through better brain and body connecti ons. It shifts min dsets through discovering the disconnect from within. With a deeper understanding and disc overy of the brain and body, a solid
foundation then begins to form which then spontaneously activates a shift in the system towards better brain and bodily function where one would experience holistic healing, stronger relationships, composed behaviour, elegant mobility and overall health & wellness. e believe that everyone deserves a W chance to be heard and recognised for who they really are despite their challenges.
I N S TA G R A M : @ M E A N I N G F U L A C T I V AT I O N F A C E B O O K : @ M E A N I N G F U L A C T I V AT I O N P H O T O S B Y : M E A N I N G F U L A C T I V AT I O N
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B O G I L AT E I N E R
ech marketer Shawnda Williams has come alongside mechanic and technician Bogi Lateiner to lead Phoenix’s Girl Gang Garage. The Girl Gang Garage has three main goals: to create opportunities for women in the trades to work together and connect with each other, to provide hands-on training to women of all ages who would like to learn how to work on cars, even those who have little or no experience, and to showcase the many incredible women who are, or want to be, part of the automotive industry. Bogi explains one of their offerings, classes to educate women to be better car care consumers. “We offer low cost introductory classes, like our women’s car care class, teaching women of all ages how to check
their oil, change a tire, or jump start a battery. But also how to find a reputable mechanic and what questions to ask when they get there.”
points out that women are still often discouraged from entering the trades, and those who do often encounter challenges.
They also offer hands on experience for women who wish to explore the automotive trades, from mechanical work to metal work, paint and body work, and electrical work. Women can also participate in regular large scale complete vehicle restorations, where groups of women of varying skill levels come together to connect and learn and turn an old vehicle into a show car.
In her early days as a mechanic, Bogi experienced both extremely blatant sexism as well as subtle messages that told her she wasn’t welcome. She was often laughed at when applying for a job, has been angrily told that women don’t belong in the shop, and was regularly denied opportunities. On a more subtle and yet just as discouraging note, there were no uniforms or work boots that were for women, at her first dealer job there was no lock on the bathroom so she used the customer one and changed into her uniform in the file room.
Bogi says the builds, which are free to those wanting to participate, are designed to also shine a spotlight on women in the trades and create opportunities for them to meet and work alongside one another. This is critically needed because according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are only 2.5% of all U.S. automotive mechanics. Also, Bogi
Williams joined forces with Bogi in 2019, leveraging her professional kno wledge in brand development and design with her own gender diversity experiences within the tech industry to help make
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a more considerable impact and help the automotive trades evolve.
electrical diagnoses, and rapidly evolving technology.
“I saw lives transformed, women empowered. Hobbyist mechanics became professionals after working with the Garage, and professional female mechanics enhanced their careers.” Bogi encourages women with an interest in an automotive career to pursue and explore those interests .
Bogi highlights the intelligence and adaptiveness required to work on cars. “Car doctors work on hundreds of changing models, while human doctors usually work on only two models: male and female.”
“There are tons of excellent career opportunities in the trades! According to TechForce Foundation, six hundred and forty two thousand auto, diesel, and collision technicians are needed between 2020 and 2024. These positions are in high demand, and they can not be outsourced or taken away.” Society still tends to think of auto mechanics as dirty, uneducated second class citizens, something pursued by people who couldn’t cut it in college. But in reality, modern automotive t echnicians are highly skilled and educated. The average master technician may own 100K in tools and have gone through years of schooling. They are continuously going to con tinuing education classes to keep up w ith ever-changing technology. Today’s technicians need to understand and apply not only mechanical principles, but work with computers a nd programming, complex 264 Rare Magazine
She says girls need to see women working in the trades and feel confident they can bring something to the table. “Diversity makes any organization stronger. I know that from my own experience. I was smaller than most of the men I worked with, so while in some cases they were stronger, I was smaller and better able to squeeze and look into tight places.” Bogi would ultimately like to see the day when she’s not a ‘woman mechanic’ but simply a ‘mechanic. ’ Each year, over 200 women take part in Girl Gang Garage programs. Their builds and classes attract a diverse group of women from complete novices to highly skilled professionals, from all walks of life. The first all-female build, dubbed t he Chevy Montage, took place in 2017 and attracted over 90 women from 23 different states over the course of 10 months. Together they restored a 1957 Chevy Pick up truck and did a
controversial engine swap, powering the truck with a BMW m5 engine. The choice was intentional, though Bogi knew it would ruffle some feathers. The build was designed to disrupt the conventional, be provocative, a nd initiate conversations with people talking about women in the trades. As Bogi says, “Modern-day car mechanics are like rocket mechanics. There are more control modules today in cars than in the first Space Shuttle. And there are over one hundred million lines of code in a modern vehicle.” Girl Gang Garage followed up the Chevy Montage with another all-female build named “High Yellow 56,” a 1956 Chevy Truck which, unlike its predecessor, contained a more traditional 350 small block eng ine, loaded with modern components, and was unveiled in the fall of 2019.
They are now working on their third build, a 1961 Volvo that they are working to restore, modify, and power by modern t e c h n o l o g y . A n y w o m e n interested in participating in this are encouraged to connect with them and get involved. Bogi and Williams are both optimistic about the future f o r w o m e n i n t h e industry as well as for Girl Gang Garage. As Bogi says, “Word about our builds and classes has been completely organic and from word of mouth. There is just so much interest from women in the trades to connect, and from novices and hobbyists to learn and participate. The support form the industry is also growing. I’ve seen a major shift in the industry from when I came up twenty years ago till now, I’m excited to see what the future holds and to be a part of that change.”
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With Love A remarkable movement spearheaded b y Shreya and Saf fron Patel called Let ters Against Isolation WRITTEN BY NIZIE LOKMAN
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affron and Shreya Patel, two sisters based in Boston, have a bigger heart than their own. While still in school and college, the young female founders are passionate in volunteering to the community. Today, they have gathered more than 100,000 cards and letters by heartfelt souls around the world to express their love to the seniors who are in lockdown loneliness. Rare magazine digs into the soul sisters’ story of how it all started and how they have impacted and influenced societies with their initiative of letters against isolation during the COVID-19.
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RARE: Tell us your about yourselves. Shreya: My name is Shreya Patel, a freshman from Washington University in St Louis so on. I have a very keen interest in entrepreneurship, and getting conn ected with the community gives me a sense of belonging. I share the same interest in volunteering with my younger sister, Saffron, a grade 10 high school student in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has traveled from cities to countries, from local museums, ST EM clubs to hospitals on volunteering programs. Saffron: Shreya and I come from a close-knitted family from the United Kingdom. We are incredibly close with our grandparents. In 2014, we moved to the US and had to bid farewell to our uncles, aunts, cousins, and our extended family. Nevertheless, we make a point to return to England during our holidays. The last time we went to England was in summer 2019. Then, the global pandemic happened in 2020, and we are shattered that we can’t see our grandparents face-to-face until today. 270 Rare Magazine
RARE: What were your struggles did you face during the lockdown? Shreya: When the global pandemic hit the world, I think like many people, we ignored the warning signs all through winter. When it hit the US, we were surprised, and within weeks our lives changed completely. It was around mid-March 2020 when everything started to shut down in Boston. First, school shut down, then people started panicking and bulk buying things. Then, we didn’t leave our house, and when we did, we had to wear masks. And that time, I was on a gap-year, so I had been working at a finance startup. When the markets crashed, I was let go. Saffron: For me, the drastic change was overwhelming. One day I was in the classroom, and the next, all my classes were over zoom calls. Before we knew it, the school went entirely virtual! We were miserable at home watching the news for updates. Our knowledge about COVId-19 was limited, and we learned that the senior citizens were more vulnerable
and had a higher risk of deadly disease. We were anxious about our grandparents’ well-being in England while here in Boston. RARE: Why did you decide to focus on the senior citizen age group instead of other target audiences? Shreya: While the world was shifting under our feet because of the pandemic, we couldn’t just sit still. We were looking fo r ways to give back and connect with the community. Throughout late March/ early April, we started to see some fantastic charity organizations pop up, such as delivering meals to healthcare workers or remotely teaching young students. However, we also noticed a huge gap : we couldn’t find any organizations serving seniors, who are arguably the most affected by the pandemic/ the group that has been affected the longest by the pandemic. Saffron: As grandchildren, we were very concerned about grandparents.
Since we are far from each other, we couldn’t just pop over to wave at them from the window. So, we called them and texted them every day to stop them from getting lonely. Our grandparents are very social people. Our grandmother, who we call Ba, used to go to the gym every day before the pandemic. She had a group of friends she went with and was always chatting with them before/ after her gym Rare Magazine 271
classes. Our other gramps are involved members of their communities and love to golf! Despite our daily calls and texts, we noticed the effects of isolation start to take a toll on them. Shreya and I searched for ways to uplift our grandparents when Ba stumbled upon the solution herself! It’s through handwritten letters. RARE: What inspired you to pursue handwritten letters and cards that heal seniors in lockdown loneliness? Shreya: Since the pandemic started in March, our grandparents have been sociallyisolating in their homes to protect themselves from Coronavirus. Through our regular online communications with our grandmother, she told us that her friends sent handwritten cards. She sounded ecstatic to receive this small gesture of connection meant the world to her. Saffron: Watching our grandmother’s joy made us realize that many other seniors may also 272 Rare Magazine
be feeling disconnected and that they may appreciate a letter. This led us to email a few nursing homes asking if we could write letters. The response was an overwhelming yes! RARE: How did you scale the Letters Against Isolation from the US and reach other parts of the world? Saffron: Letters Against Isolation started as a project for just Shreya and me to write to a few local seniors. However, it quickly became apparent that this was not a project we could undertake alone. We wanted to serve more seniors because senior loneliness is such a widespread problem, and we knew that we couldn’t singlehandedly write all of those letters! So, we founded Letters Against Isolation to recruit other volunteers to join us in combating senior loneliness by sending letters and cards filled with joy to seniors. We grew exponentially! This meant that we had to do a lot of learning as we went. For example, I built our website to become a resource for our volunteers. Volunteers can signup to write letters, and care homes can sign up to receive letters (unfortunately, we cannot serve individual seniors in their homes due to privacy issues). The website also has a blog that I post on a bi-weekly basis. I have interviewed the seniors we serve and the volunteers who write for our blog. We also post inspiration blog posts for what to write about/ how to decorate cards. There is a lot of resources on the website, and it is helpful for volunteers to be able to refer to a resource where everything is in one place! Shreya: We started Letters Against Isolation in April 2020, and we began to make small goals. We were surprised that we smashed many of our goals one by one. I can remember our purpose of recruiting 10 volunteers and collectively sending 100 letters. Now, 10 months later,
our current goal is to recruit 15,000 volunteers and collectively send 150,000 letters and cards to the seniors we serve by April 6, which is the 1 year anniversary of our founding Letters Against Isolation. Currently, we have roughly 13,500 volunteers and 140,000 letters and cards. We also set a goal to send 100,000 letters and cards by January 1, 2021, which we also successfully achieved! We quickly realized that this was not a project that we could undertake alone, so we have begun recruiting volunteers online. We are very blessed to all the heart-centered souls who have embarked with us on this journey. RARE: What is your advice to visionary female founders and entrepreneurs out there who want to turn purpose into passion? Saffron: That is a great question. I think my greatest advice would be to build systems that will scale the first time. When we first got started, we did not expect to grow into the organization we have today, so we built everything
to work for a small organization. We’d email each volunteer to write their letters individually. When we began to pick up traction, we had to spend a lot of time reworking our sign-up system to handle many more volunteers. Shreya: Just get started! There is a tendency to wait for absolutely everything to be perfect before launching any new venture or product. The issue is, your first attempt will never be excellent! There will al ways be something you overlooked, some fresh perspective your customer will give you. The most important thing is to capitalize on the moment and be flexible. We have had to learn so much as we go with Letters Against Isolation. These lessons that we have kno wn are not things that you can prepare for. You can only learn them by taking the leap and getting started. We are open to change and always ask for feedback from the volunteers to keep improving Letter Against Isolation. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn
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From Reviled to Adored
B Y E M I LY S O H N
PHOTO CREDIT CARL A RHODES
ow one community—and one woman in particular—have found a way to protect the rarest stork in the world simply by learning to appreciate the species and embracing it as one of their own.
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In January 2019, graduate student Tracy Melvin traveled from Michigan State University to India to attend an annual meeting of the Women in Nature Network, a loose collection of women conservationists from around the world. The trip required multiple flights and many hours of travel, but Melvin was eager
to join in on conversations about the successes and struggles of conservation projects in a supportive environment. As the conference began, Melvin says she was impressed to hear what women were accomplishing, especially in lowincome countries. But she was particularly interested when the host of the meeting, Purnima Devi Barman, got up to speak about her work with a gangly and obscure stork called the greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius). Once close to extinction, the bird has rebounded in Barman’s home state of Assam in northeastern India. And that success, according to widespread consensus, is primarily because of Barman, who has single-handedly transformed the species from a reviled nuisance to a beloved cohabitant among a surprisingly broad cross-section of people, includi ng government officials, mothers, and people who pick through garbage dumps for a living.
Hearing Barman talk made Melvin want to get involved—an effect Barman seems to have on people. More than a year later, the two women and several colleagues published a paper that looked at how community involvement has helped to advance conservation o f the striking storks. Among her most successful strategies, Barman has created an “army” of women who care for injured storks, throw celebratory baby showers for the birds, and weave stork-adorned fabrics for sale.
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In contrast with decades of top-down and high-cost conservation efforts, experts say, the driving principle behind Barman’s work is deceptively simple: Saving species requires buy-in from people. Women, in particular, can be powerful partners, even—or especially—when they don’t hold traditional forms of power in their cultures. By including women in conservation projects that have simultaneously changed their own lives, Barman’s work may hold implications for similar efforts everywhere. “She not only brought the species back from the brink, but she empowered women in a way that they probably hadn’t been empowered before,” Melvin says. “She’s not just helping the birds. She’s also helping the people. She’s giving them something to care about.”
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Gathering women The greater adjutant is not a traditionally beautiful animal, and its lifestyle isn’t pretty either. A member of the stork family, it has skinny, knobkneed leg s, a relatively puny bald head, beady eyes, and an elongated orange pouch that hangs from its neck like a deflated balloon. It is awkward and large , standing about 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall. It is also notable for it s smell. Traditionally called hargilas, which means “bone-swallowers,” greater adjutants drag dead carcasses into tree tops, where they eat the flesh and then drop stinky messes of poop onto the groun d below. The birds also spend a lot of time in garbage dumps, where they scavenge for food. In the late 1800s, hundreds of thousands of greater adjutants lived in wetlands across much of Asia, from Pakistan to Cambodia. But habitat destruction, pollution, poaching, and the loss of their nesting trees pushed numbers sharply downward in the first half of the 20th century. A reputation
as a bad omen in many places didn’t help them in the face of these threats. By the 1990s, there were an estimated 400 birds left. They have rebounded somewhat since but the International Union for Conservation of Nature still classifies them as Endangered, with only 1,200 to 1,800 birds confined to Cambodia and two regions of India— Bihar and Assam, where Barman lives. Despite the longstanding cultural disgust that surrounded the birds, Barman quickly began to appreciate the storks’ more appealing side. Raised for several years by her grandmother, who often took her outside and taught her songs and stories about birds, she developed a connection with nature that brought her solace during a period when her parents were away. Later, she studied zoology and wildlife biology at Gauhati University, where she earned an undergraduate degree and then a Masters in 2002. Eager to pursue a PhD, she gave in first to family pressures to get married and have children, giving birth to her twin daughters in 2005. She started her doctorate work in 2007, with a focus on greater adjutants. Rare Magazine 279
breeding season in 2007, she got a call. A villager In the Kamrup District had cut down a giant tree on his property. The tree contained nine nests, filled with hargila nestlings. Once at the scene, people gathered around and laughed at her. They jeered and teased her about her concerns. They were angry and mean. “Why are you lecturing us?” they asked her. Why should we care about such an ugly bird? Would she pay them to care? Would she come live with them and clean up after the birds? Would she eat the birds on her way home? Trembling with embarrassment and dismay, Barman thought about her daughters, then just 2 years old. On the way home, she made a decision to delay her PhD work. “I thought, ‘No, I won’t do it now,’” she says. “‘First, I’ll rope in all the people. I’ll win the hearts and minds of the people. We will start a people’s movement. And then, only if I’m successful with the birds, I’ll pursue my dream.” Aware of the outsized conservation attention that goes to India’s charismatic megafauna like rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) and tigers (Panthera tigris tigris), Barman had started thinking about studying hargilas whe n she saw them in a wetland while doing fieldwork for her Masters. Why, she wondered, had she never seen them in her own village? As she began to collect data, she visited the few villages where they did live. W hile there, she would leave her phone number so people could call her if they had anything to report about the birds. One day at the end of the hargila 280 Rare Magazine
Her plan was to start with the basics: Meet people. Build friendships. Try to understand community concerns. Remembering the comments from men in the village, she cleaned temples to earn trust and show she was listening. Her compassion ran deep. She recognized that these weren’t bad people. They thought they were doing the right thing: ridding themselves and their properties of a messy bird that was a bad omen. It wasn’t their fault that they thought poorly of hargilas. They just hadn’t learned about the value of wildlife.
Soon, Barman’s work coalesced around a single, if improbable, goal: Get people in the villages of Assam to incorporate the greater adjutant into their local culture and trad itions. Since the birds spent much of the year nesting in trees on private prop erty, she knew they were untouchable by government protections. Her only hope was to make people care about the birds like they care about their own children. That way, they wouldn’t want to cut down the trees anymore. In 2009, Barman organized the first of what w ould become many hargila “baby showers.” She invited about 30 women for the event, and she made the celebration as traditional as possible. It included prayer songs, a cooking competition, and games that incorporated lessons about wildlife. Barman talked to the women about the birds and how vulnerable they are during the breeding season. She appealed to their identities as mothers, comparing the birds to women when they give birth. Acceptan ce came quickly, Barman says, and the popularity of the baby showers snowballed into a coalition of women who rallied behind the storks. Barman started to think of them as a “hargila family.” In 2014, she dub bed them the “hargila army.” Since then, the army has helped rehabilitate injured birds. Using looms and yarn distributed by Barman, women have also started to weave traditional fabrics adorned with storks, which they sell to help support their families. More than 400 women take part in the conservation work on a
daily basis, Barman says. More than 10,000 women and their families have participated in hargila-related activities. With Barman’s guidance over the past decade, the stork has become a symbol and way of life, says Ana Liz Flores, a conservationist and senior advisor for the LAC-Huairou Commission, a grassroots NGO in Argentina. Like Melvin, Flores attended the WiNN meeting in India in 2019. While she was there, she visited several villages, where it was clear to her that hargilas had become integral to the identity of the community. Women and children were leading the effort. “The schools and the women are the key pieces of the whole project,” she says. “It’s the first time I have seen a community that involved with one species. That, to me, is special.” Barman has faced plenty of gender discrimination in her career, she says, and women in her culture are not usually included in decision-making. But women have power in their households, and by reaching them, she has been able to reach their children, relatives, and entire communities. “They are rural women. They are the homemakers,” Barman says. “I think the world should know about this huge force of women.”
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Contagious obsession By the time the Women in Nature Network conference came to Barman’s hometown in early 2019, she had tran sformed the greater adjutant’s prospects. Not only has the number of storks in the villages of Assam more than doubled since she began her work, from 400 birds to as many as 1,200 (of which 800 are mature), numbers of nests hav e grown nearly 10-fold, from 27 to 215 in the villages where she has focused her efforts. And there are signs of population growth to come. Not a single nesting tree has been cut down since 2010, Barman says. One colony is producing about 85 juvenile birds a year, half of which survive. And her 282 Rare Magazine
conservation work has also expanded to include an assisted breeding program that is beginning to show results. After not producing any viable birds during its launch year in 2017, the program released one fledgeling in 2019 and five in 2020. As Barman’s successes have accumulated, she has been able to tell an ever-growing audience about
what she has been up to, and Melvin isn’t the only person who has been captivate d by the biologist and her work. Another enthusiast is Carla Rhodes, a longtime comedienne and ventriloquist from New York who had recently picked up wildlife photography and developed her own obsession with greater adjutants when she got an unexpected call from a friend in t he summer of 2018. The friend was a producer working on a TV pilot for a show called “Rickshaw Run,” which sends people out to navigate some of the mo st dangerous roads in the world in motorized rickshaws. The next season would soon be filming in India,
It was the rainy season in India, and the park was one of the few in the country that was accessible. She had an incredible experience in the park, where she took pictures of elephants (Elephas maximus indicus), rhinos, capped langurs (Trachypithecus pileatus), and more. Then, on the drive back to Guwahati, Assam’s hub town, she spotted a giant, blue-eyed, dinosaur-like bird standing by a rice field on the side of the road. She asked her driver to stop. He told her it was an endangered greater adjutant and offered to show her more on their way back to Guwahati.
he told her, and a participant had dropped out of the show at the last minute. Would Rhodes consider going in his place?
Expecting to be taken to a wetland, Rhodes was surprised when the car pulled up at an enormous, sprawling garbage dump. Hargilas stood on mountains of trash alongside cows, soiled white egrets, and garbagepickers—people who make money by rummaging through the landfill. The temperature was stiflingly hot, and the smell reminded Rhodes of New York City on garbage day in the summer—
Rhodes said yes, if only to get to India where she planned to stay after the filming so she could take photographs. She flew out that September and after surviving the rickshaw adventur e, she went to M anas National Park in Assam.
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multiplied by 100. The scene was both post-apocalyptic and beautiful, and although she had to fly home the next day, she felt transformed. “I was only there for about 20 minutes, but it just moved me and shook me to the core of my being,” she says. “It was at that moment I de cided I don’t want to be a wildlife photographer. I want to be a wildlife conservation photographer.” Determined to find a way back to India and the birds, Rhodes began researching as soon as she returned
home to Brooklyn. She learned about Barman, who she contacted by email in early 2019, around the time of the W iNN meeting there. Drawn in by the contagious nature of Barman’s singleminded passion, she was soon offering to help out. With a small grant from W iNN, Rhodes returned to Assam for five weeks in February and March, 2020—just before the world shut down because of COVID-19. Even though Rhodes was a stranger, Barman invited her to stay in her home, where she lives with her biologist husband and two now-teenage
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daughters. Rhodes spent those weeks following Barman everywhere. They went to the market, where the conservationist stuffed her cloth bag to the brim with vegetables, refusing to use plastic. They went to schools and villages, where people treated Barman like a celebrity. Rhodes even attended a wedding with Barman, who somehow convinced the couple to adorn their ceremony with statues of hargilas and to paint images of the birds on guests’ hands with henna. Rhodes repeatedly marveled at how much influence Barman had on just about everyone, including the police. If someone reports an injured hargila, officers help them transport the birds to zoos for rehab. “You call the police about an injured animal in my area, they’re like, ‘We can’t do anything,’” Rhodes says. Barman’s group is also working with government officials to build nets under trees to catch any nest lings that fall. Watching Barman at work, it was clear to Rhodes that Barman was the reason why the storks were thriving in a community that had had once hated the birds. Rhodes took thousands of photos, some of them featured in this story. “I thought it would just be like, you’d see a hargila here, you’d see one there. But there are so many, it’s insane,” Rhodes says. “And she is responsible for bringing them back because she convinced people to take ownership of this bird—that it’s a privilege that this bird chose your tree to nest in, and to not cut these trees down.”
Non-traditional habitats Historically, greater adjutants thrived in the vast wetlands of India and beyond, where they fed on abandoned carcasses and nested in wild trees. As wetlands have disappeared and been paved over by development, the birds have shifted their habits, building nests in the village trees of Assam and eating in the nearby landfill. For Rhodes, the landfill offered striking imagery full of symbolism: birds scavenging alongside people on mountains of discarded items. For Barman, the garbage dump is just another place to spread the word about bird conservation. One day, Rhodes watched as Barman walked through the dump, talked with people, handed out posters, and gave sweets and coloring sheets to kids. Biologists, too, have a growing interest in places like these—often overlooked habitats in urban landscapes, where wild animals are finding new ways to
adapt. And dumps aren’t necessarily all bad, according to a 2017 review of 159 studies that looked at 98 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians found on garbage dumps all over the world, especially in Europe, North America, and Africa. The analysis turned up plenty of negative effects, including elevated risks of infection, poisoning, and human-animal conflicts in the dumps. According to a 2016 study of white storks, birds that fed in landfills were more likely to stick around throughout the year, drastically reducing their migratory range. Living around landfills also increases a stork’s chances of picking up an E. coli infection, according to a study published in 2020. But dumps have also become important sources of food in changing environments. And compared to animals living in natural areas, the review found that polar bears, island foxes, bald eagles, and other creatures that fed in dumps did better than other individuals on a number of measures that included body condition, reproductive success, and survival. Among the effects that dumps had on various species, more Rare Magazine 285
than 70 percent were positive. In one study included in the review, dumpdwelling white storks produced more eggs compared to birds that didn’t have access to these food resources. What rapid and urban development means for the future of any given species is still unclear. But acknowledging the hargila’s adaptability to a new kind of ecological landscape has the potential to highlight novel approaches to conservation into
the 21st century, Melvin says, in part by helping people relate to species that live in their midst. “What’s so endearing about them is that they survived through habitat degradation, through illegal persecution, through everything. And they are just like, ‘Well, I’m going to eat in the dumps, and I’m fine with it.’ They’re a rugged, persistent thing,” she says, adding that 286 Rare Magazine
there are parallels between the birds and the human garbage-pickers, who have also had to adapt to incredibly difficult circumstances. “They’re a remnant bird from this vast, oncefunctional landscape, and here they are. This is reality. This is what they’re dealing with now.” Barman’s approach accepts the reality of the world as it is right now, Melvin says. Her work incorporates the idea that pristine wilderness is a false construct and that saving
species requires involving the people who live alongside those species. I t also illustrates how persistence and a focus on raising awareness can rapidly transform the way people think about animals: from reviled to adored in just a decade. It’s hard to imagine ranchers in the American West adopting wolves as
their mascots, but Barman’s work holds lessons for conservation projects around the world, Melvin adds. She made conservation mainstream from the bottom up—going door to d oor and person to person, hearing peop le out, helping people develop livelihoods, making it all happen without waiting for the government to take charge. Those are steps anyone could take anywhere . “It’s truly an example of how doing a small lift for people in their home countries can make conservation truly effective,” she says. “Maybe that’s what the world needs is people to just think less and do more.” Enacting change doesn’t have to cost much, Flores says. With a clear objective and genuine connections, it is possible to do a lot with a little for any species. Barman has made great strides with limited resources. “As a conservationist, I used to visit fantastic, very high-level projects in Africa and other places,” Flores says. “This is a simple community project, but everyone in the community is engaged. You can see the
commitment in women and the kids. Everybody is very, very proud of having that project in the community. To me, that is amazing.” For Barman, saving hargilas by involving women has been a personal mission as much as a professional one. When her daughters were little, she used to take them into the field, where they would stay with an assistant and watch as she climbed 85-foot trees to study the nesting birds before coming back down to feed her own kids. As her daughters grew, they began to accompany her on community outreach efforts. In 2018, they watched her finally achieve her dream of earning a PhD. “I think they saw all the struggles. I think that helped them to know the life, to know in depth about wildlife,” she says. “I tell them, ‘Every day your heart should be an environmentalist. Every day you wake up, you should live like an environmentalist. It doesn’t mean you have to be a biologist by profession. But every work you do, it should be for nature.’ And they agree. They really love it.”
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Fierce Women Playlist...
Not Just for the Ladies BY KARMA BENNETT
Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard. . . X -ray Spex
s a woman, to be passive is the path of least resistance. Though society is changing, there are still too many women who get the message that every answer should be “yes” and say it with a smile. To be aggressive, to be fierce, is to go against the grain. There’s a bravery in it that those of any gender can admire. I’m confident you don’t have to be a woman to find these songs empowering. But maybe my immodesty is a consequence of all the swagger coming off of this playlist..? You be the judge. 292 Rare Magazine
Our playlists starts out slow to take you on a musical journey, so we start off with sultry singers like FKA Twigs, Sevdaliza, and iamwhoiam. Don’t miss Nina Simone sassing a crooked preacher in “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter,” ...in general never miss a chance to grace your ears with Nina Simone. Then we meander into folksy, fierce songs for singing around the campfire. This leads into a section of soul and blues singers whose voices quake with awesome power and emotion. Then it’s onto women who rock, from riot grrrls like SleatterKinney and Bikini Kill to modern rockers like Honeyblood or virtuoso guitar player St. Vincent. Mixed in are a few fierce rappers to mix up the sound, then it’s onto larger-than-life pop divas set on boosting your confidence. Finally, we bring it back to chill mode with some fearless musical innovators like Glass Candy, The Knife, and Tank and the Bangas. This list is by no means exhaustive, and how could it be, when there are so many fierce women in music? In fact many of ra-ra-girl-power songs you may expect on such a list won’t be here. Sure, there are some classics but this is Rare and we’re here to shine a light on some fierce artists and
tracks that you may have overlooked. But we’d love to know what you think: what songs go on your Fierce Women playlist? What are the underplayed gems we left out?
Some Highlights from our Fierce Women Playlist Tori Amos - Precious Things If you don’t know how a woman who sings pretty piano songs can come off as fierce than you’ve never seen her live. Tori Amos plays piano like Eddie Van Halen played guitar. I’m not fierce enough myself to share the lyrics of this song here but its beautiful, bold blasphemy was what many a teen needed to make it through the day.
Ani Difranco - Not a Pretty Girl If you’ve never heard Ani Difranco, it’s only because she has been on her own label since the nineties. But to a particular generation, everyone knew at least one person who was obsessed with her music. In “Not a Pretty Girl” she sings: Rare Magazine 293
And what if there are no damsels in distress W hat if I knew that and I called your bluff? Don’t you think every kitten figures out how to get d own, W hether or not you ever show up? If you like this one, “Willing to Fight,” “Joyful Girl,” “Anticipate” and “Out of Habit” are just a few of her many fierce songs.
Big Mama Thorton - They Call Me Big Mama Elvis has nothing on Big Mama Thorton, and she can prove it with her outstanding performance of “Hound Dog.” We’ve included “They Call Me Big Mama” and if you like that check out “Sassy Mama” too. The Queen of the Memphis Blues has plenty more where that came from. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - She Ain’t a Child No More Sharon Jones is another must-have for this list. I got to see her before she died and I can tell you that this woman, who had already fought off 294 Rare Magazine
cancer shortly before I saw her own the stage, was more fierce at 55 than I will ever be. Her life and her performances are truly inspirational. Other fierce songs by Sharon Jones include “Natural Born Lover” and her cover of This Land Is Your Land (one of my all-time favorite covers).
Betty Davis - They Say I’m Different It was Betty Davis that inspired this list. Initially a model, she turned to songwriting because she found modeling “boring.” The first song she wrote professionally became a hit for the Chambers Brothers. She was friends with Jimi Hendrix, and it was her introduction of him to her husband Miles Davis that inspired him to create his legendary album Witches Brew. Carlos Santa said she was “indomitable – she couldn’t be tamed” and her music was often banned from radio and boycotted for her sexually aggressive performances. If there is anything more fierce than “They Say I’m Different,” I don’t know if I can handle it. Other fierce Betty Davis songs include “Nasty Gal” and “If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up.”
Childbirth - Let’s Be Bad A few years ago, I fell in love with the all-girl band Childbirth , who sound exactly lik e if L7 had had a sense of humor. The joke of “Let’s Be Bad” is that their naughty invitation for things like wearing tight skirts and ordering “a couple of white wines” isn’t truly risque. But if there other songs are to be believed (such as “Baby Bump” and “I Only Fucked You as a Joke”) these rockers are the bad influence you’re looking fo r.
Noisettes - Don’t Give Up Noisettes are among the top bands I want to see live because singer Shingai Shoniwa has an incredible voice. She’s not just a pretty voice though, she’s also the band’s bassist. The Noisettes more recent albums have had a modern motown sound like what Amy Winehouse had made it through rehab and come out stronger. Their second album Wild Young Hearts is great from beginning to end, but this is a change of direction from the solid rockage of their first album, What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf? If you only know The Noisettes for fun sing-along-songs like “Never Forget You” you may be surprised by just how hard this album rocks.
Le Tigre - FYR A list of bad-ass female musicians wouldn’t be complete without some riot grrrl and Bikini Kill is the defining band of the genre. Kathleen Hannah
of Binkin Kill revolutionized indie music for a second generation, with her lo-fi electroclash act Le Tigre. Best known for the single “Deceptacon”, a punk rock diss track that calls out NOFX, but they have so many other worthy tracks that defined the sound o f third wave feminism. Hannah is married to a Beastie Boy and she even inspired the title of Nirvana’s most famous song. If you can’t get enough of Le Tigre, check out Hannah’s other band The Julie Ruin or fellow bandmate JD Samson’s dance act MEN.
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Metric - Patriar ch on a Vespa Metric makes music that is the perfect mix of rock and electro. Songs like “Gold Guns Girls” and “Police and the Private” are some standout tracks from one of my favorite bands, but it’s on “Patriarch on a Vespa” where lead
singer Emily Haines proves her place on this list. In it, she sings about the constraints of gender that people feel forced into, that they keep “trying to fix it.” Sometime s when she shouts, “when they should break it,” it gives me shivers. Lily Allen - Hard Out Here I don’t understand why this song wasn’t a worldwide pop hit. Lily Allen is already famous beyond her home in the UK, and “Hard Out Here’’ is so clever and relevant it seems bound to be put on repeat from all who discover it. The suits aren’t writing Allen’s music, which is how she ends up with sarcastic lyrics like, “You should probably lose some weight / ‘Cause we can’t see your bones /You should probably fix your face / Or you’ll end up on your own.” Did you know she is the god daughter of punk legend Joe Strummer? No wonder she confronts sexist pop expectations.
Sofi Tukker - F**k They Sophie Hawley-Weld is one half of the dance-pop act Soffi Tukker. In the addictive jam “F**k They” Sophie refers to the ominous they as if the rumors of the crowd were a specific entity that can be named and blamed. This is a song to help you embrace your true self and ignore the haters, preferably while dancing. “Baby I’m a Queen” is another fierce pop song by this duo, and if you like both of those you’re in for a treat because I’ve yet to hear a song of theirs that wasn’t worthy of heavy rotation. 296 Rare Magazine
SEXWITCH - Ha Howa Ha Howa SEXWITCH is a side project of Natasha Khan, better known as Bat for Lashes (in collaboration with indie rock band Toy). In SEXWITCH she covers obscure international folk and psychedelic songs from the 70s. Despite these songs spanning a geography as wide as Iran, Thailand and Morroco, they are united by the hypnotic and animalistic chanting of Khan’s voice. Though these songs are from before the genre we call “dance music” even existed, there is a primal pull in them that seems well suited to shaking, swaying, and running naked into the forest beating your chest.
Tank and the Bangas - Colors Change Often I like to end these playlists with a song that is offbeat or funny, but this time I knew Tank and the Bangas “Colors Change” would be the perfect closer. Harder-hitting Tank and the Bangas songs like “Dope Girl Magic” might seem the obvious choice for this list, but to me the poetic “Colors Change” beautifully tackles her capability to be both soft and hard, gentle and fierce. At over six minutes, in this lullaby Tank sings to her lover, comparing herself to an island, not to be conquered. “You didn’t discover me, you know…”
Did I confuse you at how I could be a sea for you and land for him? I was both of these women, I am, I is I am swamp water and ocean tree Coconut water and mint leaves Healer and hurricane, spit and shoot Too fast food for you Too ready, too weighted Too window open Too side door swingin’ Too woman? Rare Magazine 297
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