my week in objects (mostly).

    February 22, 2019

    1. this cheerful pile.

    {and kids who inspire me brighten my wardrobe.}

    2. this branch.

    {but mostly these petals for being the last to hang on.

    3. this pillow.

    {because the someone who sleeps on it has been visiting her grammy and grandpa this week, but tonight she’s home!}

    4. these shoelaces.

    {because the old ones were tied together in five different places.}

    5. these greens.

    {because sometimes winter makes me forget about fresh things, but not this week.}

    other things:

    preschool pocket treasures.


    knots and bows.

    the color of money.

    instead of hungry, i felt unsettled.

    a dresser, a bust, a spotted leopard.


    this, but mostly the weather to wear it in.

    growing a minimalist wardrobe: buy from BIPOC.

    February 21, 2019

    growing a minimalist wardrobe: buy from BIPOC | reading my tea leaves

    For the past four years, I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about the clothes that I wear. In the Growing a Minimalist Wardrobe series on my blog, and in my book, Simple Matters, I’ve encouraged readers to interrogate their relationship to clothes alongside me. How do they make us feel? How do we wear them? Who’s making them? And what’s the impact on people and the planet? In the course of that work, I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with small designers to spread the word about their efforts in the slow, sustainable, and ethical fashion communities. But in my call for conscious consumption, there has been plenty that I’ve overlooked. This year, I’m hoping to hand this platform over to some of the folks who are currently instrumental in expanding, enriching, and diversifying the conversations happening in the slow fashion community.

    This week, I invited Emi Ito, founder of the #BuyFromBIPOC Instagram challenge to write about why she’s spending the next year buying from Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) designers and BIPOC-owned and operated businesses. In addition to her personal shopping challenge, Emi created and is co-moderating the newly launched @BuyFromBIPOC Instagram account. The account will serve as meeting space and megaphone for sharing the work of BIPOC creatives in the slow fashion community, from designers, to business owners, to influencers.

    growing a minimalist wardrobe: buy from BIPOC | reading my tea leaves

    Here’s more from Emi:

    Slow and ethical fashion became a part of my life more than three years ago when I was pregnant and began the work of deeply reflecting on my core values and aligning more fully with who I want to be for my child. I realized that my love of fashion could merge with my commitment to be more sustainable in all facets of my life. But as I began to follow more slow fashion brands and influencers, a common theme emerged: The familiar, uncomfortable sensation of being an outsider in a white dominated space. Time and time again, I saw white influencers and white-owned slow fashion brands being centered and promoted in ways that were not consistent with what I saw happening for their Black, Indigenous, and other people of color counterparts.

    The oppression of white supremacy meant that despite their significant contributions to creative work in these fashion spaces, BIPOC-owned slow fashion brands and BIPOC makers and influencers like Dominique Drakeford of Melanin and Sustainable Style, Deb Shepherd of Clothed in Abundance, and Aja Barber, among others, weren’t being amplified at the same rate. I craved a slow fashion community that more fully represented the range of people, product, and brands that I knew already existed—one that didn’t deny the talent and lived experiences of BIPOC creatives.

    Last year, I decided to create a public Instagram account in an effort to find that community. I wanted to connect with more slow, sustainable, and ethical fashion lovers, who, like me, are people of color sharing our experiences and working to make these online fashion spaces more inclusive. On Instagram, I formed new friendships that led to my participation in the Fall 2018 10×10 style challenge—a sustainable capsule wardrobe challenge started by Lee Vosburgh of Style Bee. My friend Bo of @linednotes came up with the idea to create a new hashtag for the challenge and to invite testimonials about representation in slow fashion. I came up with the hashtag, #10x10RepresentationMatters and eventually the hashtags #EthicalFashionRepresentationMatters and #SlowFashionRepresentationMatters as a way to keep the conversations going.

    The experience of sharing, witnessing, connecting, and holding space for these narratives during that ten day challenge was profoundly healing and cathartic. Because of that experience and my ongoing frustrations around the lack of representation in the slow, sustainable, and ethical fashion communities, I decided to create a personal fashion challenge. For a full year, beginning in February of 2019, I am committing to making all my personal fashion purchases exclusively from slow, sustainable, and ethical BIPOC makers and brands and I’m inviting others to join me. I created the #BuyFromBIPOCchallenge hashtag so that participants can connect throughout the experience.

    Because the response to the challenge has been so positive, I decided to create a new dedicated Instagram account, @buyfrombipoc. I am incredibly grateful to work with such a brilliant team of co-moderators: Brooke, Bea, and Elaina!

    We still live in a world where so many of us are not allowed the dignity of being our whole selves in the spaces we occupy. I wanted to be a part of creating a space where BIPOC can be our full selves, centered, and celebrated. I wanted to deepen my commitment to what “ethical fashion” means to me, which is amplifying the work of BIPOC innovators and creatives who have been doing this work for many years. Finally, I wanted all of this to result in putting money directly into the hands of BIPOC makers.

    BIPOC creatives are deeply rooted in ancestral knowledge of craft and traditions. There is a profound honoring of heritage and familial ties that have been passed down through the generations through the pieces that makers create. In my own family, I have kimono and haori sewn by my great grandmother. I have wrapped them around my body and will one day wrap them around my child’s body so that she feels the textured connection to her matrilineal line. The @buyfrombipoc account is about showcasing how BIPOC honor our ancestors and pride in our cultural heritages through craft and through speaking up about representation and inclusiveness in slow, sustainable, ethical fashion.

    Through the @buyfrombipoc account and #BuyFromBIPOCchallenge, I hope that people who are interested in slow, sustainable, and ethical fashion will grow their awareness and inquiry regarding the diversity of leadership at brands, be more mindful of making purchases that are investing in BIPOC communities, and will use their voices to speak up for accountability and representation when they find it is lacking.

    My hope is that the work of @buyfrombipoc can be a small offering toward the collective efforts of BIPOC to take up space to celebrate, heal, and transform. Ultimately, it was born out of love—love for honoring my ancestors and my child, love for BIPOC communities, love for equity and the right to be whole people, wherever, and whomever we are.

    growing a minimalist wardrobe: buy from BIPOC | reading my tea leaves

    Here are a few other simple ways to support BIPOC creatives in slow fashion:


    Join the #BuyFromBIPOCchallenge or create your own personal challenge such as buying gifts for friends exclusively from BIPOC makers, or committing to at least one slow, sustainable, ethical fashion purchase from a BIPOC creative this year. The @buyfrombipoc team invites anyone who is unable to do the year long challenge, to utilize the #BuyFromBIPOC hashtag as a way to connect and share brands and makers!


    Use social media to follow BIPOC makers, brands, and creatives and then amplify their work regularly on your platform (with credit and tags, of course).


    Take the time to comment on the social media platforms of BIPOC creatives to thank them and express why you appreciate their work.


    If you have local brick and mortar shops that carry slow fashion brands, suggest BIPOC brands and makers they could partner with and carry.


    Most importantly, do the work of learning from, following, and paying for the labor of Black and Indigenous teachers such as Rachel Cargle, Layla F. Saad, Rachel Ricketts, Allen Salway, and Adrienne Keene among others.


    What about all of you guys? Anyone out there taking the #BuyFromBIPOCchallenge? Favorite BIPOC-influencers and designers to share? I’d love to know.


    Emi Ito is a mother and an elementary educator. She is a Japanese American of Mixed heritage and is part of the transracial adoptee community. Emi taught in Bay Area public schools for twelve years and has been an intervention teacher and coordinator for the past three. She founded and co-directed an arts based summer camp and after school club for youth of color who identify as multiracial, mixed heritage, and/or transracially adopted/fostered. Since becoming more active in slow, sustainable, and ethical fashion, Emi has spoken out against the appropriation of the term, “kimono,” and recently wrote a guest blog post for Densho on the subject. In the past year, she has worked with several makers and brands to change their “kimono” garment names. You can find her on Instagram @little_kotos_closet musing on social justice topics and her toddler’s shenanigans.

    Artwork by Élan Byrd of Bleu Byrdie used with permission. Follow her on Instagram @bleubyrdie.

    habit shift: access is love.

    February 19, 2019

    erin in front of mirror | reading my tea leaves

    I occasionally stand in front of my mirror and talk. Wielding my phone as a camera, I record these talks and post them online for people to see. It’s a marvel of technology and modern life that my childhood self would have been delighted by. As a kid, I spent an inordinate amount of time on the talk show circuit in the role of guest, host, and audience of one. My bedroom mirror saw laughter and tears, even standing ovations.

    In lots of ways, my adult mirror talks are not so very different—me, mirror, furrowed brow, exaggerated eye rolls—but they diverge in one critical and obvious way. I’m not the only audience. On any given day, any one of the people following (or not) my account on Instagram could be tuning in to hear what I have to say.

    That other people living in far-flung places (and right next door) might be reading this site or following along on Instagram, is a fact that’s honestly still hard for me to fully imagine, even after ten years of writing publicly. And the reality is that beyond the most basic statistics provided by Instagram or Google Analytics, I don’t really know very much at all about the folks who follow along—at least not in all of the ways that really count.

    At the beginning of the year, at the urging of a few of the folks watching, and further encouraged by one of my personal heroes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I started experimenting with the captioning app Clipomatic. It’s a video editor that turns spoken words into written captions so that my videos will be more fully accessible. Using a captioning software on videos is helpful for folks in the Deaf community, for folks who don’t speak English fluently, or who might have difficulty understanding my accent. It’s helpful for parents watching videos while they nurse babies, or for folks who otherwise can’t turn up their phone volume. It’s a tool that expands the possibility for my work to be accessible to a wider group of people and using it has been a huge lesson for me in doing better to imagine the humanity and needs of the folks who might be engaging with my work.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s taken me so long to think about accessibility and ableism in my online work, but here are a few concrete changes that I’ve committed to:


    Mentioned above, I’ve been using the Clipomatic app for adding captions to my Instagram videos. The software isn’t perfect. Because I don’t typically use any kind of voice recognition software on my phone, when I first started to use it, the captions were wildly wrong. Over time though, the captioning has gotten stronger and stronger as the technology learns my voice. The app also makes it possible to manually edit the text and fix any spelling or transcription errors. I’m hopeful Instagram is able to implement an in-app version of the same thing soon, but until then, this is a solid alternative with immediate benefits to a whole lot of people.

    Alt text:

    Most simply, alt text (short for alternative text) is a written description of a visual image. It’s a kind of meta-data that enriches the usefulness of images online for lots of reasons, including access. Last fall, Instagram began embedding automatic alt text to posts so that folks with visual impairments who use a screen reader can hear a list of items that the image might include. For a more detailed description, Instagram has also developed a manual alt text tool. Before sharing a new post on Instagram, you’ll see a small prompt that reads ‘Advanced Settings.’ If you click there, you’ll see a prompt for alt text where you can embed your own description of the image that you’re sharing. This image won’t appear as part of your caption, but it will be saved as part of your image data and accessible to folks using screen readers. Succinct descriptions are most helpful. I’ll be adding my own descriptive alt text from now on.

    Image descriptions:

    Unlike alt text, which gets embedded as meta data, an image description is a written description that’s visible in your Instagram caption. For folks with visual impairments who don’t use screen readers, this is really helpful. Image descriptions should be written inside closed brackets and should start with the words image description. Here are a few more guidelines. Starting today, I’ll be adding image descriptions to my Instagram posts.

    Capital letters in hashtags:

    I don’t use very many hashtags, but when I do, I never capitalize them. Turns out, adding a capital letter to the beginning of each new word makes it easier for a screen reader to decipher and read out loud. Done and done.

    Access is love:

    More important than implementing any of these simple, easily adoptable logistical habit shifts, I’m especially moved by the call-in from the folks at the Disability Intersectionality Summit…to “understand access as not only about logistics, but about deepening our shared humanity and dignity, growing access intimacy with each other, and an opportunity to create more justice and love in our world.” In her keynote address at last fall’s summit, Mia Mingus urged folks to see access as a practice of love: “Access for the sake of access or inclusion is not necessarily liberatory, but access done in the service of love, justice, connection and community is liberatory and has the power to transform. I want us to think beyond just knowing the “right things to say” and be able to truly engage. I want us to not only make sure things are accessible, but also work to transform the conditions that created that inaccessibility in the first place. To not only meet the immediate needs of access—whether that is access to spaces, or access to education and resources, or access to dignity and agency—but also work to make sure that the inaccessibility doesn’t happen again.”


    I’m so grateful for the work and resources available at the Disability Intersectionality Summit. This month (and next!) they’re encouraging folks to use the hashtag #AccessIsLove and to join conversations about access, solidarity, and disability justice as a practice of love. I’m glad to witness and join the conversation and to shift my habits. Far from being something reserved only for folks with disability, or the special purview of activists and politicians, this is something that each of us can do.

    What else? Are there other things you guys are doing to increase access in your online (or offline!) lives?

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    February 8, 2019 4 Comments
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