I sit here in bed, with a small Tortie kitten fussing at me and an old Greyhound looking at me yearning for food and attention (she’s spoiled rotten don’t worry); Bon Iver filling my ears…and I can’t help but laugh. This year has been chaotic and emotionally consuming, at times leaving me feeling completely caught up in the whirlwind that is life.
Last December I was playing with leather scraps and cutting them up in my spare time, imagining the bracelets and chokers I would make with them just for fun. February 2016 I was applying for a business license, diving into everything ass first and blindly because ignorance is truly bliss. March 4, 2016 I received a piece of mail from the City of Fayetteville that contained my business license and when I opened it-I cried. I wasn’t just opening a random piece of mail, I was opening up an opportunity for myself that no one could take away from me. 22 designs was no longer cheap talk to offer up as a goal during lunch or dinner with family to make myself feel like I had some sort of purpose as a 20- something year old.
There’s absolutely no way I could’ve made it here without the support and love of so many people. My boyfriend, best friend, family, coworkers/friends…they all pushed me to go and do. “You’re young, take the risk now and enjoy it no matter what the outcome is” was a collective mantra that I heard consistently for months. I launched my business without a website because I hadn’t the slightest clue of how to build one or operate one. Finally figured it out and was initially proud of it, until I realized I hated it. It looked half ass, and I strive to put my full size 6 ass into everything I do. So changes were made, hell they’re still being made. It will never be perfect, and thank god for it. You have to allow yourself to constantly evolve, or you and everything you do becomes stifled and underwhelming.
The boxes at the top are not just there for decoration. Beautiful. Wild. Suave. Rock N’ Roll. Confident. The 5 words that came to mind when first brainstorming what I wanted the business and my brand to embody. These 5 words are not gender, race, or age specific- and that to me is utterly poetic and SO necessary in a world that is so blatantly demanding of everyone fitting one category. With that being said, take a look at the incredible group of people that took time out of their lives to model for 22, and open my eyes to new perspectives of life.
While she is my sister, I am honestly blown away by this human being. She’s got more fashion sense than a copy of Vogue. French attitude with all-American girl looks. Alli can argue her way out of damn near anything, and will settle any dispute with a hug if it comes down to it. I wish I had her confidence. Her aloofness toward people’s opinions. Her ability to eat copious amounts of Chick-fil-a and guzzle down Starbucks without gaining an ounce is enough to make you want to pull your gym shorts on and run. This young queen will run the world one day, and I will be standing by her side in awe. She was the first model for 22 designs and her shoot will always be a fabulous memory that I hold dear to my heart.
Don’t let Lil’ Bit’s size fool you. Leslie has a heart of gold and can probably squat you and your mother. She was one of the very first people to see my necklaces and earrings, and was so so supportive of my decision to start a small business. It was hotter than hell the day we shot, and she was such a trooper- smiling the entire time, keeping me somewhat sane and belly laughing. She has this natural ability to turn heads while wearing a simple tank/jeans combo and once she’s caught your attention can read you like a book. There’s a softness about her as you can see in her photos, but she’s wild at heart…a rockstar at 5 feet tall. This shoot allowed me to see the quote “You wear the
clothes (pieces), don’t let them wear you” personified. She is tiny, but her personality and confidence overcame that with the larger necklaces and earrings on. She takes shit from no one, loves people flaws and all, and feels most comfortable when she’s home in just a t-shirt. What’s not to love about an outlook like that?
This blonde haired lad was the first guy to model for 22 and was so kind and up for whatever came to mind during the shoot. He was the second guy to see the men’s collection besides my boyfriend, and the first words out of his mouth were, “These are dope!” which immediately allowed me to take a breath and relax.It’s funny what you can learn about people when you sit them down and you’re behind a camera. We swapped horror stories of teachers and professors that brought us down, talked politics, art, and I learned a few things about his random tattoos. I interview each person I photograph (because a secret goal of mine was to work for Vogue when I was little) and Richard’s interview gave me a peek into male perspective when it came down to fashion and jewelry. He described his style as elegantly disheveled and mentioned he’s “gotten shit for wearing v necks and skinny jeans” but blew any negativity off because, “they were basic bitches anyways”. When asked if he felt there was a certain stigma associated with men having piercings or wearing jewelry his answer is what let me know the men’s collection would catch on: “I don’t think there is a stigma attached to men wearing jewelry. I think it can be masculine and cool.”. I can’t wait to hopefully get the chance to work with him again come 2017!
In our decade together as best friends, I’ve never seen this young woman challenge a camera like she did during this shoot. Every shot had me yelling YES GIRL GET IT and inspired either a laugh or a new pose that had me so inspired to keep up the magical energy. When I first brought the idea of a small business to Amanda, she was so on board. She did however, send a small list of things to think about and made write out a pro/con list. I’ve gone to her about so many small and big details regarding the actual pieces I make to how the website should operate and I am so grateful that she answered every question and was one of my biggest cheerleaders. We did an interview post shoot, and I learned so many different things about this bad ass woman- if you have a best friend I highly recommend interviewing them for fun. My favorite question/quote was:
Have you ever been shamed for wearing an outfit and because of it never wore the outfit again?
You know, I haven’t just yet, and I don’t think I ever will. To be shamed you have to let someone get to you and make you feel embarrassed. Channeling my bad ass icons like Rihanna, I’d probably tell my “shamer” that they can go to hell hahaha!
YOU HAVE TO LET SOMEONE GET TO YOU AND MAKE YOU FEEL EMBARRASSED…that hit me like a train. I’m telling you this woman is awesome. And can we all agree she should quit her day job and model full-time? K? K.
What happens when you fail art school and have two law degrees? You casually start a non-profit for shelter animals, work full-time as a paralegal, and OH- you can’t keep up with commissions because your art is HOT. At least that’s the case for this badass boss babe. Lindsay was kind enough to model pieces for me, as we collaborated on a project together and from that a wonderful friendship has blossomed. I’ve never seen someone be able to create art in so many ways. She paints, sketches, spills all over her kitchen floor, builds birdhouses, and loves her husband and dog son with all of heart. From her I’ve learned that if you feel overwhelmed by something, take on another project to get through it. She can juggle 15 different projects at once and it’s a skill I truly aspire to acquire one of these days.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout 2016. Every new customer of shop22designs.co, you’re awesome. Let’s make 2017 a successful year and stay focused on positivity. Claim every blessing you want, and most importantly- don’t just sit on your ass as life passes you by…get up and live it to the fullest.