Approaching mid-runway I tugged my blazer sleeve – left first, then right. As the blazer came off I heard a roar! My pace and purpose steadied. Pivoting at the end of the runway for my walk back it started to sink in. A smile washed over my entire being. I DID IT! I REALLY did it! How I didn’t raise both arms in celebratory joy is beyond me.
The frames made me appear somehow more whimsical and welcoming. Not a week went by without someone making their way across a crowd to tell me how much they adored my glasses — enabling a new connection with a former stranger.
The top 9 (top 10s are so Buzzfeed) things I wish I knew before I made my first suit.
Patriotism demands questioning, challenging, and rising up for what’s right in the face of fear and hate mongering. It demands that we all look out for each other and stand together even when it’s hard — because the consequences should be unimaginable.
A few months ago my friend Jeanelle said the most moving thing to me. We were wrapping up a mentoring program at IHG and she fully changed the conversation to share her story with the circle. You see, she had just started wearing her hair natural. She took a good 10 minutes to explain the baggage she carries as a black woman when it comes to hair. Previous companies at which she worked had specific rules: no braids, no dreds, no afros in their fullest glories. I couldn’t believe it!
Jeanelle went on to say how freeing it was to wear her hair natural but how hard it was to feel like she wouldn’t be judged. “Did you ask your manager?” a colleague asked when she paused for a moment. “I didn’t. I just decided to do it one day. Mindy gave me the confidence to know that I could bring my most authentic self to work just by being Mindy.” In my mind’s eye my jaw dropped to the floor as speechlessness overcame me. That connection that Jeanelle seamlessly made that enabled her to take the risk of coming out of the ‘natural hair’ closet — that is best compliment for which a visual activist could ask.
My mind wandered in a Fantasia-like fantasy sequence. The patterns and fabrics danced in symphonic harmony. I lucidly dreamt of the custom contrasts in my pockets and vest-backing. Thúy guided the possibilities of my imagination, even building toward our next collaboration. I watched as she jotted down my specifications commingled with her insights from second generation industry experience. I felt like I could already almost touch the fruits of our labor.
About a month ago I visited a Brooks Brothers in Perimeter mall where I was approached by a sales associate whilst browsing tuxedo blazers. He walked over to me and said, “You know, Reese Witherspoon wears our boys’ blazers.” My immediate thought was, ‘Hey, buddy. I’m no rookie here. I got this.’ And then I realized that he was trying to make me feel comfortable shopping outside the boundaries of the women’s section. I immediately self-corrected and thanked him for his help.