Letters from the Editor

Get there faster if we take it slow

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Bella!


How are you doing? It’s towards the end of May and these past few weeks feel like cycles, both short and long, have been wrapping up.


Because of this I have been thinking a lot about cycles in our economy and the environment. I’ve been thinking about the government and it’s far reaching arms into our personal health, and our children’s, and yet when you look at their track record for the environment it leaves a lot to be desired.


I’m sure there are many well meaning people and politicians looking to make the best decisions to keep our economy strong and our people healthy, but it concerns me that if we look only to government to solve our problems we may never solve them, or simply create greater problems in the process.


For instance, I know the fashion industry needs better regulation. We need to hold corporations accountable for the working environments in the garment factories. We need to find better solutions for production that don’t do so much damage to the environment and create so much waste. But waiting for the government and corporations to change seems like a path that will get us nowhere quick.


Yes, it is one way of going slow but it’s not a way that will get us there faster. I think for quicker, deeper change it’s going to require the consumers to get involved. We have to vote with our dollars, or not. We have to communicate through the language that corporations, and therefor government, will understand...money.


We have revolutionized, and continue to, the food industry. Now it is time to put that same passion and energy into our clothing systems, a field that touches just about all areas of industry including farming.


So my questions for you this week:

  • How are your spending habits on clothing aligned with your values?
  • What areas do you need to be more educated on when it comes to women’s rights and sustainability in the fashion industry?
  • Do you know if your wardrobe is supporting you or draining your energy?

There are so many areas that need our attention right now and it can feel immensely overwhelming. Starting with a few questions may help to break things down into actionable items. If these aren’t the right questions for you, what are?


Have other questions you want to share? Want to tell me your thoughts on the above? Hit reply and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.


Big love!


Xoxo,


RM

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He told me not to

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Gorgeous!


How are things? I’m coming into finals and feeling crazy. So much has happened and is happening, but overall things are chugging along.


In my last email I shared some personal things, like I do, but I decided to also post on my personal Facebook. I wanted to connect with people that aren’t on my email list and tell them about the loss of my friend and how I was doing.


A minute after I posted on Facebook, a ‘friend’ that I hadn’t heard from in a while messaged me and recommended that I not share what I did on FB to my email list. My first thought was that I did something wrong and I should delete the post. My second realization was that he’s an internet marketer and his list is not only much much bigger than mine, his purpose is hugely different. And then my third thought was, here’s a dude once again trying to censor women because it makes him feel uncomfortable.


Whether or not he was conscious of doing this it’s an issue women have been coming up and fighting against for centuries. Since the time we began domesticating animals we have become classified as property and relegated to censorship and control.


Yes, we have come a long way. Just think of what it took for women to wear pants let alone have the right to vote or own property. Fashion trends for centuries have represented man's fears of a woman’s body and his inability to control himself so he blames Her. The infamous Eve who tempts man. Poor Adam. It wasn’t his fault. It never is.


And perhaps in some ways it isn’t.


I struggle with this but I recognize that we can’t keep blaming men and expecting them to change the system. They work on half the brain capacity of us. They are hindered by their greatest strength which is single focused attention. They do not have the empathy, the compassion, and the capacity to understand the intricacies of life as we do as women. But this knowledge requires responsibility and forgiveness. It requires ownership of our own life and the independence from the approval of the dude. Whether married or not this is FN hard. The world is not set up for that, nor are we trained to think differently.


So what does this have to do with fashion?


Choice.


Choice to wear what we want ( thank you to all the women who came before to fight for this). Choice to wear what makes us feel good, that makes us more of who we are and want to be.


Choice to invest in products that we believe in because they support other women in foreign countries who aren’t as far along as we are with personal liberties.


Choice to purchase wisely because we understand limited resources and Mother Nature is no exception.


We have fought hard for the right to have choices. We are still fighting for equal pay and a shift in women’s role in the workplace, at home, and in society. But these changes aren’t going to come from the men who created the systems in the first place. It’s going to come from us women. Individually and collectively.


With Mother’s Day this Sunday I pray that you take a moment and not only think of where you can make different choices but that you take a step in creating a more positive and sustainable world for our future generations.


Thank you for letting me rant and the freedom to chose to speak my mind.


Big love,


RM

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Why’d they have to go?

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hola Bella,


How are you?


Costa Rica was great. Lovely to have a time to decompress, relax, and trust that all is well. But getting back home has proven to be a reintegration experience I wasn’t expecting.


In my adult life Easter weekend has been rife with loss. I feel it so clearly mimics this symbolic time of death and rebirth, not without it’s pain and deep questioning of “why?”


About five years ago I was at the most beautiful wedding that ended with a tragic and unexpected death of one of the groomsmen.


About three years ago is when I first found out about my dad’s cancer. He died 5 months later.


And just three days ago a friend, my daughter's Godfather and my husband’s business partner passed away unexpectedly. I am heartbroken and for the first time the tears are flowing like rivers writing this letter to you.


I thought I was going to write about plastic but I can’t help but wonder “why?” Why all men? Why are two of them the most spiritual and grounded guys I knew? Why?


I’m not sure there will ever be an answer, but I know there is change involved. An evolution, a transition, a death to rebirth…


In art history class today my professor began with the horror stories and images of babies born after their mothers were exposed to depleted uranium. I could barely look at the images. (Just google ‘depleted uranium birth defects iraq’ and look at the images that come up). Our government knowingly killing 100,000s of children in Iraq for control of oil? This information just compounded my sadness today and my heart aches desperately.


There is so much change needed and so easy to feel despair. To grab a drink and disappear.


But as I sit and write I wonder if I am willing to do my part? To change? To stop putting the responsibility on someone else and take a step?...


and yet, there is no other choice than, “YES”...we are running out of time.


Big love to you as we spin around together in the vast darkness of the Universe.


Xoxo,


RM



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The Challenge is On!

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Gorgeous!


Hope you’re well. Things are bobbing along here, getting ready for our Costa Rica trip over spring break. I am so ready to get back to an ocean and actually swim!


In case you haven’t seen I’m participating in the 100 Day Challenge again this year. Last year I did #100daysofstorieswithkali using the story cards and her art. It was an epic project and one I am so proud of. But with the licensing issues of the art in the cards and my rekindled passion with fashion, this year I am doing #100days100outfits.


Now, I know these hashtags are ridiculously long, but the point is to choose something unique and memorable. Hopefully by reading it you have an understanding of what my project is all about. Essentially for the next 90 days now, I will be putting together a different outfit only using the existing clothes in my closet. During this time we are traveling, going to weddings, changing seasons, finishing school for the semester...you know, life stuff. I’m not sure how well I will do but so far so good. I’m happy the weather will be changing since that will open up some new wardrobe options.


The point of doing this project, or challenge, is to recognize that we often have more than enough clothes in our closets. What stops us from having anything to wear is our creativity and willingness to try something new. As I was putting my clothes away last night I could tell that seeing the same thing in the laundry reinforces outfits and color combinations that we’ve already worn. It’s by going into the sleepy items and pairing with our favorites that new combinations are born.


Like I said, it’s still early in the game but I’m having fun. It’s encouraging me to engage in my wardrobe and the day differently. It’s pushing me to see things differently. And these are behaviors I value.


So I want to encourage you. Try not to buy any new clothes for 30 days. Try to find ‘new’ things in your closet. Layer and put together fresh combinations. Accessorize and don’t shy away from color. Explore your wardrobe and see what shifts in your day to day. You just might find new doors opening for you…


Big love and a lot of sparkles.


Xoxo,


Rachel

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My plastic breakup

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Gorgeous!


How are you?


Me? Truthfully I’m exhausted and I just kicked everyone out of the house and told them I’m not cooking or cleaning tonight. I’m tired of assuming the Cinderella role and then feeling resentful about it. Things have got to change!


Everywhere.


Like with plastic. I had no idea it can take 1000 years to decompose. Even then it never actually breaks down and goes away. It just makes smaller and smaller particles that get consumed by smaller and smaller living creatures that eventually ends back up inside of us. It’s a sad and ironic cycle.


And now that I am super aware of plastic, I am super aware of it. It’s everywhere and is part of everything. We are living inside a plastic bubble...or ticking time bomb?


All my learning inspired me to write the poem below. ;-)


xo,


RM


My Plastic Breakup 


It used to be you and me

So carefree and easy.


You were always there

At any time or circumstance.

I felt secure, so secure in fact

I never thought about the aftermath.


But then people started talking.  

Saying things about you that I couldn’t believe.

Things that I thought shouldn’t be.

That you weren’t so great as you told me.  


You wreak havoc, they said.

You leave everything dead, they said,

And you never go away.


But I need you, I cried.

What would I do without you, I moaned.


My friends just shook their heads and said,

This relationship will only end up

Being washed away at sea

and impacting everything.


There are other ways, they said

That don’t cause so much dread.  

Try instead paper, wax, and glass.

There’s metal and ceramics too

So many other options for you.


It’s a tale of heartache and waste.

You see, plastic was always meant to break up

and was never right for you or me.







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What we CAN do

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Bella!


How are you? Can you feel spring on its way? I’m so grateful for a change. Rain has been wonderful but a little vitamin D goes a long way.

I just spent an hour and half in my art history class where he encourages critical thinking, a surprisingly rare thing on campus and in life. We’ve been spending a lot of time on art as propaganda as well as art as a tool for exposing the hypocrisy of government. Some days it’s depressing, some infuriating, and some instigating. Today is one of the latter.


With all the things we don’t have control over, ie the government and military industrial complex, it can feel too overwhelming and too great to tackle. But the clothes we wear? We clearly have control over what we put on our bodies and how to vote with our dollars. If you’re not buying second hand, start thinking about the textiles and the labor force that goes into making your clothes.


We spend a lot of time thinking about food - organic, non GMO, farm to table etc. It’s now time to expand the conversation to clothes because all textiles come from somewhere and most often it starts with a farmer and a plot of soil.


If you haven’t heard about the dirty truth of cotton, let me enlighten you with this video on the life cycle of a t-shirt. 


And non-sustainable viscose is contributing to the loss of ancient forests particularly in Indonesia. Did someone say climate change? Gratefully non-profit organizations like Canopy are working with fashion labels to create more sustainable practices.


The good news is we don’t have to sacrifice beauty with doing the right thing. There are amazing brands like Stella McCartney who are doing a lot of work to pave the way. Super expensive but you can buy second hand, upcycle clothing, and check out the app Good on You that rates brands on sourcing and ethics.


Let’s change the way we buy and change the world.


Big love!


RM




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It’s more than a gurl thang

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello my friend!


How are you? Tomorrow is March, and although some days feel like forever, I can’t believe it’s almost officially spring.


I have to share this new podcast I’ve been binge listening to called Dressed. It’s, as you can imagine, a fashion podcast. But it’s all about the history and the unraveling, pun intended, of fashion. And because of this podcast I truly feel proud to be studying this industry.


I’ve often thought of fashion as something ditzy girls stood around and talked about. I never related with that crew. I love clothes, getting dressed and the artiship of haute couture. I didn’t realize until recently however, just how much politics, the economy, psychology, sociology and the environment are involved. It’s pretty much all things we all have to deal with as being humans on this planet.


So this idea that fashion is just for the girls of Clueless, is oh so wrong. I just wish there was another word. But there’s only one. One word to encompass all of these things tied up into clothes we put on our bodies. And the truth is, so much of the fashion shaming actually came from men. Another way The Man has kept women down and attempted to control our bodies.


Now, instead of being embarrassed about fashion, I’m reclaiming it. And along with it, my voice, the planet, and the women who make our clothes. I may only be doing a small part by reselling vintage and natural fibers, or writing content like these emails and soon to be blogs, etc...but it’s something and I’m proud.


Hope you are too, for being you, and wearing whatever makes you happy.


Big love,


RM

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“It’s not fair!”

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Happy Valentines Bella!


I know this is meant to be love day and all, and truly I am glad there is a day where we can publicly show affection in America without fear of being judged. But there’s something that I have to share, so thank you in advance for listening.


If you have a child you have likely heard the phrase, “it’s not fair.” To sometimes the most absurd of situations and sometimes quite poignant ones.


Last week when I was taking Kaliana to school we were listening to a podcast from, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. It was a story of a woman in Kenya who was the first to get her PhD in all of central and east Africa. She was brilliant and was breaking down barriers for many women. She knew she had a following and people loved her, so she decided to run for office. And this is where I lost it.


In order for Mugari to run she had to separate from her husband and leave her three children with him. She had to quit her job too. And of course the government refused her to run. I started balling in the car. And poor Kali didn’t know what to do.


WTF.


It goes on to be a lovely inspiring story but FCK. This level of sacrifice is something men will never have to experience, nor will they likely ever understand.


No, it’s not fair.


But what is?


Things are changing for women in really positive ways in the US. But not all over the world.


One of my major reasons for pursuing fashion is because of how horrible the industry is to both the environment and impoverishment women in the garment factories. They are stuck in a cycle that keeps them uneducated, child laden and broke. It makes me so sad and mad.


But we have options. We can make different choices and to be aware. @Fash_Rev has been asking the question #whomademyclothes. A question we can and should be asking.


I don’t think life is fair. I don’t want to pretend that it is. I just want to make decisions that hopefully make things a little better along the way. Will you join me?


With love,


RM


PS check out this cool article sent to me in response to my last email. Thank you!

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