On my perfect beach day, the grey from the ocean fades into a lighter grey sky. Sunglasses and sunscreen are not required, rather a sweatshirt and a hair tie to find comfort in a gentle wind. The lifeguard chairs are empty, the air smells of salt and the ocean is just cool enough for wading and watching my feet sink into the wet sand.
August 24, 2014
I met shoe designer, Ariana Bohling, at an event at duo earlier in the year. We talked for a bit in the store and I became fascinated by her story. Shortly thereafter, she left for Peru to oversee production of her shoes; I eagerly awaited her return for over 4 months so that I could spend a moment with her to hear more about her process and travels, and to shoot her beautiful shoes. Ariana and her shoes were definitely worth the wait!
When we met at duo, it really inspired me when you explained that you made shoes in your apartment, by hand, until you physically could no longer make the shoes (wow!). How long were you making shoes at home and when was your breakthrough moment when you knew you had to expand?
Ariana: I was making handmade shoes out of my apartment while I still had a full-time job. I would come home from work and make shoes until 12 or 1am, go to bed and then do it all over again the next day. Since I was working so many hours, my weekends were shot!
Here’s a funny story – One February, I had grand jury duty for about a month. After we got released from jury duty each day, at around 3pm, I would go directly home and continue making my spring sandal order, which involved braiding shoes by hand. Had it not been for jury duty, it hit me that I might not have fulfilled my spring order in time! That was a pretty defining moment!
Shortly after we met at duo, you left for Peru for a few months to oversee production. Why did you choose Peru and how does being so closely involved in the production influence your work?
Ariana: It was important to me to find a country with a strong background in making handmade shoes, since that was my background as well. We chose to work with small workshops that follow fair trade practices, paying their employees above minimum wage for the high quality work that they do. It was also important to have thorough communication with the workshop owners to ensure that their values matched ours. We also choose to pay well for good quality.
When you are in Peru, what is your favorite non-work related thing to do/eat/see?
Ariana: I like exploring the outdoors when I’m not in Lima. If I can take a few days off, I like to travel, go to the jungle, go on hikes to waterfalls and to the beach. I still have a lot more exploring to do in Peru! There are a lot of amazing foods in Peru and it is a big foodie destination. You have to love the ceviche, but the tiraditos de pescado is also delicious as well as jugo de maracuya.
Aside from Peru and work, what are some of your hobbies?
Ariana: Yoga, bicycling, reading in Spanish, reading the NY Times online until I run out of the allotted 10 free articles, listening to WNYC religiously, going to farmers markets and cooking
Who are some artists that influence you?
Ariana: I could go on forever! Here are a few artists I like: Frida Kahlo, Elliot Tupac, Kathleen Hanna, Vincent Van Gough, Leonardo da Vinci, Tego Calderon, Manu Chao, India Arie, Haider Ackermann and Jil Sander
August 17, 2014
Fall is quickly approaching and, although I love summer, I find myself becoming eager to wear more layers, less sandals and to carry around my new Petra Market bag (thank you to the generous team at Everlane!). It has that perfect feeling of supple and sturdy and is large enough to fit everything I need to carry around NYC (which is typically a lot!).
As a visual person, I am constantly observing my surroundings: objects, people, setting, light, shadows, and even the less tangible, such as mood and transient moments that I experience with the space around me. In my overly visual life, I realized that one thing I never really envisioned, was what it would look like to make a tee shirt.
The methodical part of me knew, roughly, what went in to making a tee shirt: the cotton is grown and then woven into fabric at the mill; the fabric is cut, sewn and dyed; the label is sewn or ironed on; loose ends are trimmed and the shirts are ironed and sent out. However, I never quite knew what it looked like to make a tee shirt.
I didn’t know what it would look like when the fabric flowed through the equipment, when sunlight was reflected off of the fabric, how the employees would interact with the fabric or what the fabric would look like rolled, folded or as excess snippets on the floor after cutting.
I also never thought about what it would sound or feel like to make a tee shirt. What would it sound like when sewing machines were feverishly stitching, when the dye machines were at work dyeing, when the scissors were snipping and when the employees’ boots were swishing across the damp floor around the dye baths? What would the rhythm of the factory feel like, the steam from the dye baths or even the fabric between my fingers?
When I had accepted Everlane’s (generous) invitation to attend their #KnowYourFactories tour, I knew that I was looking forward to learning about the tee shirt making process, but I hadn’t anticipated just how moving the process would be on a visual/sensory level. Not only did I get to learn more about the process, but I also got to truly see, hear and feel what goes into making a tee shirt. To me, the process was elegant, elaborate and even symphonic.
If you are not familiar with Everlane’s radical transparency philosophy, I’d highly recommend reading about it here. You can also find the specifics behind their tee shirt factory here.
I would like to extend a special thanks to Everlane for giving me the opportunity to experience their tee shirt making process and also to the kind-hearted employees who so graciously welcomed me into their workspace and were willing to let me get (sometimes a little too) close with my camera lens.
August 14, 2014
Knowing that I had one free day during my recent trip to L.A., I knew I had to make it count. Before my trip, I did some research and surveyed my fellow visually conscious friends about what they would do if they only had one day in L.A. The suggestions were almost unanimous: The Getty. I can see why! I was pleasantly surprised at how much there was to see outside (not to mention the art inside), and the view surely did not disappoint.
August 7, 2014
For an unknown reason, my gut feelings told me not to post about the July 1st Hong Kong protest when I returned to NYC in early July. Perhaps I was subconsciously waiting for a more meaningful time to post these images. With the current protest happening in Hong Kong, I felt that it was an appropriate time to share them.
I am lucky to say that I have visited Hong Kong twice in the past year. Hong Kong holds a special place in my heart for many reasons: It is a place where I experienced how genuinely kind others can be, a place that taught me to never give up on following a dream, a place where I shared laughs until I had tears running down my cheeks, a place that holds the childhood and family of someone very special to me, and it is a place with a unique rhythm, so powerful, that it resonates in my heart.
With this in mind, I would like to say: Stay strong Hong Kong and most importantly, stay safe.
August 5, 2014
Wondering around the narrow streets of a Beijing Hutong lead us through old alleys filled with parked bicycles, down tiny streets with bustling markets and past locals socializing with each other at outdoor cafes. Passing an intersection with a small outdoor market and not knowing where we were, we took a spontaneous left turn up a small road. After rounding a small curve in the road, we happened upon this peaceful oasis in the middle of Beijing.
August 3, 2014
I have looked at my pictures from my recent travels almost every day since I have been back in the States and I still cannot believe that I actually went to the Great Wall of China. I can’t exactly pinpoint a defining moment when or why it became a dream of mine to one day see the Great Wall, but it’s a sight that I merely dreamed of seeing ever since I was young. Maybe it was the many Pearl S. Buck and Ha Jin novels I read or because I was culture-deprived having grown up in New Jersey and was fascinated that something so magnificent existed on the other side of the world. I do not know how this dream manifested itself, but somehow it did and it has been there for as long as I can remember.
To me, there are no words that do the Great Wall justice (maybe because I’m more visual and sentimental than articulate). Rather, it’s more a feeling of being emotionally moved by its absolute magnificence and utterly surreal beauty. It’s about being in the presence of this vast manmade structure that rolls over mountain after mountain for as far as the eye can see or the mind can imagine. It’s about the feeling that this dream-come-reality is so breathtaking, that it still feels like a dream…
August 2, 2014
In resuming posting about my recent travels, I would like to share a few images from the fishing village of Tai O. Tai O is located on Lantau Island in Hong Kong and is known for its historical fishing culture and salted foods, such as salted egg yolk, salted dried fish and shrimp paste. After visiting the Big Buddha, we took a bus down to Tai O for a quick stroll through the narrow streets of the village before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.
August 1, 2014
After an afternoon of shopping around Omotesando, in Tokyo, we decided to stop at A to Z Café to have a look at the interior and to have lunch. Nothing disappointed! The simplistic décor and food presentation was right up my alley, along with the enormous window and beautiful view of Aoyama. I’m also a sucker for the use worn textures and mismatched furniture (which all come together flawlessly!). Yoshitomo Nara’s works are displayed around the café and there is even a small wooden house in the middle of the café, which serves as an additional exhibition space for his work. The Café was jointly produced and designed by Yoshitomo Nara himself and the Graf design firm.