A Day in Detroit

Last week I had to run home to Detroit for a day to take care of a few things, while there I met up with my best friend, Sumer, and we did some exploring. Downtown Detroit is a pretty amazing place. We grabbed coffee at The Roasting Plant over by Campus Martius. The area was buzzing with people grabbing lunch from the food trucks parked across the street. There were students and suits alike, bustling up and down the street as I observed from the cafe window. It’s in moments like these when I contemplate moving back home, maybe for 6 months or so. Just to be among it all, before I fix myself in New York. But, I like Chicago too much.

Anyway, most of the photos were actually taken down by the riverfront. If you’re ever in Detroit, definitely stop by in the summer when the weather’s perfect. Look across the Detroit River and you’ll see Windsor, Canada. I wish I could have stayed out longer, but I had a 6:30 bus to catch later that day. Until next time then.

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8 Hours in Retail: The Awkward, Flirty Customer

So last week, I’m at work and this guy came into my store and was trying to talk to me. Insert sigh and eye roll. I know what you’re thinking. “How’d he look? Was he cute? How’d he approach you?” Etc. To answer some of your questions, the guy wasn’t bad looking and he was very nice. He even started telling me he was looking into grad schools in the area. All good qualities you’d look for in a potential partner. He just came at a very inopportune moment and couldn’t seem to process that I had no time for him.

I had just gotten back from break. My store was experiencing a rush, so I come out to help my coworker handle everything. For anyone who’s never worked retail, a rush is when your store is full of customers and they all need to be helped at the same time. I walked up to this guy to see if he needed any help and he responded no. But, he then proceeded to treat me to an on the spot interrogation. Asking me every question that popped in his head. From “Where do you live?” to “Where did you go to school?” to “Are you from Chicago?” He asked each question one after the other, like he was reading from some list on a sheet of paper. In between all that, he’s telling me why he was downtown, how he’s looking into graduate school for social work, and some other stuff I didn’t ask for.

I’m giving this dude one word answers and bouncing around helping other people. Hoping he would get the hint, that this was not the time or the place and that I obviously wasn’t interested. When I’m in the middle of a rush in my store, I have 0% of time for you. If you’re not buying, you’re wasting my time.

So, I wa what made it weird was that after everyone else left the store he stayed behind. I knew he didn’t want to buy anything, but he still insisted I tell him about the jewelry I was selling. Then informed me he was just wasting time until rush hour ended. At this point, I just start ignoring this man hoping he would just leave. My coworker chats with him a bit, but it’s so awkward. He would stand by one of our cases in silence for like a minute, attempt to start another conversation, before lapsing into silence again. Eventually, he decides to leave and informs us that he would be back. Unfortunately.

At this point my coworker is like, “You have to kick him out. He can’t just be in here.” I’m like, “I was trying to be nice and hoped he would get the hint. But, you’re right.” So when he strolled back in 20 minutes later I asked him point blank, “Are you going to buy anything?” He looked startled. But, he looked around for a quick second and then said he’s come back for something for his mom before exiting the store.

The moral to the story here is that if someone’s making you uncomfortable or getting in the way of you doing your job, don’t be afraid to be blunt with them. Don’t be afraid to tell them to leave or call security. I could have ended that whole exchange earlier, if I wasn’t so nice. It’s OK to think about yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable. You don’t have to bend over over backwards for a creepy customer, because you need to deliver excellent customer service to everyone. You are the most important person in your life, so act like it.

Easter Sunday With Jaren

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I had a marvelous Easter Sunday yesterday, and I owe most of that to The Walking Dead and hanging out with Jaren. I swear good friends are hard to find and great friends are few and far between, but I’m glad I found a great friend in Chicago. I’m happy we got to spend some time together, since our schedules have been ridiculously hectic this year. But you make time for the people you care about, which is why we were downtown on a cloudy afternoon on State Street.

We decided to meet up at Latinicity, a new restaurant in the Block 37 mall, for brunch to celebrate Jaren’s 29th birthday.   If you haven’t been, I highly recommend that you go. It was $25 for two alcoholic beverages and all you can eat Latin inspired food. And everything is made to order, so there’s no food sitting out that’s been breathed over by a bunch of nasty individuals.

After the food and mimosas, we took a bunch of photos. Jaren is a photographer, so it was fun getting her behind the lens for once. She kept saying, “I’m never the model.” And I was like, “Just act natural, girl.” I wish it hadn’t have started raining, or we’d been out longer. But, the photos we took were pretty interesting and captured the mood just right. Two friends enjoying each others company, while taking advantage of the perfect lighting.

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8 Hours in Retail: I Found a Bag of Pee Once

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Retail. Whether you’re flipping burgers or folding a mountain of polos, you’re in the business of dealing with customers. Most customers are standard, they’ll be in and out with little to no fuss. Then there are the select few who come out of nowhere just to create havoc in your work environment. From messing up the store to cussing you out, you hate them and they know it. And, then there are those customers who do or say the craziest things that’ll either have you giggling fondling in remembrance or rolling your eyes in annoyance at their stupidity. This segment will explore a little bit of all of the above. Now let’s get to how I found that bag of pee.

It was a typical late summer day in 2012. I was working at a trendy resale shop at the time in a faux bougie area in Chicago. Most of the customers wore Lululemon workout apparel or Tory Burch with a Michael Kors or Marc Jacobs bag, but walked around like they were wearing head to toe current season Alexander Wang with a Birkin bag on their arm. You could feel the entitlement emanating off some of these folks.

Anyway, I was working the fitting rooms that day. I went back to do my usual fitting room check, closing doors and making sure no one left any clothing or sensors behind, when I see it. A plastic bag with this liquid inside siting in the corner of one the stalls. I take a closer look. The liquid appeared to be a clear, pale yellowish color. I was taken aback. I remember just staring at it, trying to figure out what it was, why it was there, and who left this? Who carried around a bag of mysterious liquid? I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, but at least it wasn’t all over the fitting room floor. There had been a pickle juice incident a month or two prior, so I lucked out.

I grabbed a paper towel, picked it up, and went show it to two of my managers in the back room. I’m like, “Look what I found.” Their response was to bust out laughing. Hilarity and dramatics ensue from that point forward. One of my managers paraded it around to everyone working that day. She called people from the front of the store to the back just to look at it and laugh hysterically. Oh, the fun we used to have back then. The bag of pee has since been immortalized in a photo taken from that managers Facebook page, with the caption “In case you’re confused, that is a bag of urine found in the fitting rooms at work. In case you’re still confused, we’re on the same page.”

That’s not the last weird item I’ve found working at that store, but it’s the most memorable and least disgusting bodily fluid story I have.

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Esperanza Spalding’s New Album Was Everything I Needed

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Yesterday, everyone was freaking out over the release of Kendrick Lamar’s secret album untitled unmastered. Not me. I  listened to it. It’s good and I will come back to it later. Right now my ears are too preoccupied with Esperanza Spalding’s latest release, Emily’s D+Evolution, to take notice of anything else.

I, like many other fans, have been waiting 4 years for Esperanza to release a new album. The length of time I’d been waiting for Rihanna to put out a new joint. The length of time it took me to get through college. The length of time it’s been since my grandmother passed, because I remember having just bought her last album Radio Music Society and playing it in the car with my mom and cousin as we drove through Mobile, Alabama. That’s where my mom’s side of the family is from. Not to get too melancholy on you.

Radio Music Society is one of my favorite albums of all time. I actually went out and bought it. And the people that know me well know that I don’t buy albums, unless I love them. And that album spoke to me, just like her newest release does. Emily’s D+Evolution picks up where Radio Music Society leaves off, but it has more of a story to it. This album takes you on a journey with Emily. Esperanza’s lyrics weave an interesting, abstract tale of Emily as she falls in love, deals with conformity, and just gets over fear of living her own life the way she wants to. In some spaces the album reminds me of Janelle Monae with it’s quirky, funky sound at times, but with more fusion jazz mixed in. To put it simply, the album is amazing and you should listen to it.

Not convinced? Listen to Esperanza and her band perform the whole album live during NPR’s “First Listen Live” segment. You’ll love it!

 

Books: Tehran Streetstyle by Hoda Kotebi

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I went to a radical coloring book party on Friday and found fashion. It was unexpected, but not unwelcome. Sitting on a table between photographs and other bobbles was a little book, Tehran Streetstyle. I wasn’t going to buy it, but after a quick conversation with the author and photographer, Hoda Kotebi, I had to.

As I fumbled with my phone trying to remember my Paypal password, we had a quick conversation about the book. All the photos were taken in Tehran, Iran, a place that Hoda calls home, despite being born and raised in the States. The book is the product of her activism work in Iran and the only print street style book on Tehran’s underground fashion scene.

I left the venue ecstatic about my purchase. My friend Jaren commented over coffee the next day that she had no idea people dressed like that in Iran. Which brings up another powerful aspect of the book, it makes you rethink what you know about Iran’s dress code. The photos in the book show a lot of color, fantastic prints, stylish hair cuts, and great usage of accessories on the young and old.

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Grab your copy of Tehran Streetsyle ($25) on her shop site. Joojoo Azad Shop.
Visit Hoda’s radical fashion blog to find out more about her work! Joojoo Azad.

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Hoda Katebi on the streets of Iran from her blog Joojoo Azad.

 

5 Fashion Documentaries To Watch On Netflix

I’ve recently been in a sort of “fashion rut”. To be blunt, I had lost all desire and excitement for fashion and style. I still made sure I was dressed impeccably, but my love of fashion magazines was gone, I stopped paying attention to the collections and trends, I just stopped caring. I stopped caring, because I was bored. You ever get the feeling that all the models look the same, all the clothes look the same, the people you follow on Instagram or Youtube look the SAME? Where’s the individuality gone? Well, after some digging I realized that individuality does still exist and I’d been looking in all the wrong places.

A good place to start was on Netflix as it turned out. Search “fashion documentaries” and some good ones pop up. Here are 5 fashion films you must see. Covering topics from personal style to the dangers of fast fashion, each film sucks you in and makes you want to revamp your wardrobe right after.

  1. Fresh Dressed (2015)
    This documentary shows how hip hop influenced fashion from gang culture to designer labels.
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  2. Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
    I adore Bill Cunningham’s street style report for The New York Times. This documentary gives you a little slice of the man himself and his legacy in street style photography.
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  3. Iris (2014)
    Iris Apfel is the woman behind the big circular glasses and the loud accessories you may have seen on your favorite style blog or magazine. She even makes appearances in two of the documentaries on this list, Bill Cunningham New York and Advanced Style.
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  4. The True Cost (2015)
    Did you ever wonder how fast fashion can charge basically nothing for it’s clothes? Why most of our clothes are made in China or some other third world country? Even if those thoughts never crossed your mind, educate yourself on what it costs for you to have that new Zara coat.
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  5. Advanced Style (2014)
    Age really ain’t nothing but a number. Just because your old, that does not mean you have to act like it or dress like it.
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