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    Nasty Voices

    Nasty to Know: Candace Reels

    Nasty to Know: Candace Reels

    We’re introducing a series of interviews with women who are doing amazing things—using their platform to amplify marginalized voices and spread awareness about social injustices. To kick off the series, we’re excited to introduce Candace Reels, founder of the LA-based feminist apparel brand, The Female Collective.

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    Raise a Glass with Brandi Keeler

    Raise a Glass with Brandi Keeler

    We had the opportunity to talk with Brandi Keeler, who started the initiative Toast2U, which focuses on the empowerment of women and girls in Detroit. She discusses why she is invested in this type work and what it means for her to be doing this in her hometown.

    Lexus Killingsworth: You’ve got two awesome initiatives that focus on the empowerment of women and girls. Could you tell me a little bit more about them?

    Brandi Keeler: I started Toast2U—I guess it’s been two years now. I originally started with a group of friends as a space of recognition. I have all these amazing women in my life and I wasn’t spending enough intentional time celebrating them and their victories. So I gathered a group of friends to announce what was going on in their lives and we would end with a toast with champagne or sparkling juice. After that first one, someone was like, “Ok, when is the next one? This is a great thing that you’re starting.” I hadn’t realized I was starting a thing! So I did another one the next month and people brought friends. Then it really started to grow and, with the growth of the space, there’s been more intentionality put into what’s happening in that space. I started to do some of the coaching work that I already had been doing outside of Toast2U—doing personal development exercises, or Expånd Sessions, as I call them.

    LK: What types of milestones do you celebrate?

    BK: Often we’re so hard on ourselves as women; we don’t take the time to celebrate, honor, and acknowledge where we are in life; or we’re thinking we need to get to the next milestone in order to be valid, or worthy, or whatever. Yes, we can celebrate if you get a raise or, you know, if something great happened in your career. But we can also celebrate that you took the time to paint your toenails this month! Or you made it through a month of depression and you’re still here. We celebrate a wide array of things. One of my favorite Toasts was a woman celebrating that she literally just stayed alive for the month and that she left the house to come to Toast. There was a mother whose doctor had told her she wasn’t gonna be able to breastfeed her daughter. Within the first month of her daughter being alive, she succeeded in breastfeeding, so we celebrated that. That’s the type of stuff I try to get women in the habit of celebrating.  

    LK: What have the reactions been so far?

    BK: It’s funny because the audience has shifted and the reaction is different based on the age range and experiences of the people who are attending. So I started off with folks that were my friends, so people in a similar age range to me, and I think my little cousin and my grandmother were there too. And, since, I’ve had Toasts where the majority of the women were over 50 or 60,  looking for things to celebrate in their lives, and they’re like “I did all the things I wanted to do in my life!” I would say for the older women, many see this as a way to impart wisdom on other folks at the event. For folks who are my age, it’s a mood booster for them. There’s always at least somebody who comes in thinking they don’t have anything to celebrate and says, “I’m glad you worked with me to find something that I can acknowledge about myself.” And I’ve had really young ones, from five years old to high school age. It’s just fun to see young women or women-identified people standing in pride and it’s not their birthday or graduation—they might say, “I’m glad I was nice to my friends” or whatever it is that they find to celebrate. So, there’s a mixed range of reactions, but they’re all positive.

    LK: How does Toast2U fit into your overall vision for Expånd?

    BK: Expånd is my larger picture. While Toast2U is really an event series that I do, Expånd is coaching and group facilitation work and is not gender specific or age specific. Typically, though, I am working with young adults or women. There’s a space in Ferndale, here in Michigan, called the SheHive, and I do a lot of Expånd programming there. To celebrate the New Year, for example, we did a half-day seminar called SheSoul, where you would choose your word for the year, envision your ideal day, set three- or five-year goals, and create a vision board, that type of stuff. With Expånd, I’ve also worked with school groups and organizations like Future Project that works in high schools helping students to identify their purpose and their passion and then using that to build programming for their school or community.

    LK: You were born and raised in Detroit.  What does it mean to you to be doing the work that you do in the city you’ve lived your whole life?

    BK: It’s funny because, you know, you wanna be cultured, you wanna experience and live in different places so you can bring that wisdom, that knowledge, back to your home base. But I keep finding that every time I’m gonna leave I say, “Wait, this is happening right now?!?” I’ve been in Detroit my whole life and I’ve been in downtown Detroit since 2006, and there’s this huge shift in the development that’s happening and the creative scene in Detroit is growing. There are a lot of conversations about gentrification and types of change in Detroit. I feel like leaving Detroit right now would be like leaving Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. There’s just so many opportunities and there’s so many places you can have a say. I feel like I would be remiss as a person who’s from this place to not be an active participant in the development or change that’s happening right now.

    I feel like I am helping individuals, especially young people, know that they are enough and then stand in their enoughness to be able to take advantage of opportunities. Typically youth in my city are told they not going anywhere, but I know how important the people who invested in me and my growth and my path were, and I have to reinvest that energy.

    LK: One more, kind of silly question. Which woman or femme identified person would you most want to have dinner with, and what would you discuss?

    BK: Oh Lord! There are so many and mine probably sound cliche cause I’m like Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Oprah. Lisa Nichols is someone who I would love to sit down with. She is a personal growth visionary, a life coach, and motivational speaker, who’s also a mother. She talks a lot about her relationship with her son and I would talk to her about being successful in multiple areas of life because a lot of times women that I talk to think about life in terms of sacrifice. I would just ask her to give me some tips on balance.  This is a hard question. Do I have to choose one? Can I just host a Toast? {laughs}  

    Stacks on Stacks with Émilie Lamy

    Stacks on Stacks with Émilie Lamy

    This week we’re excited to introduce Émilie Lamy for our Nasty to Know series. She is the owner of the art and design bookstore, The Stacks, in New Orleans. We discuss books, her relationship to New Orleans, and how she’s engaging with local nonprofits to amplify their voices.  

    Lexus Killingsworth:  You are the owner of the amazing bookstore, The Stacks, inside the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. How did you get started in this business?

    Émilie Lamy : I arrived to New Orleans about three years ago from Marseille in the South of France. My background in France is in graphic design. I worked in that field as a publisher, as a freelance project manager, a curator, a teacher, among other things. There was no bookstore specialized in art, design, and architecture, in any close range, when I moved here, so I used some savings that I had to open up a small bookstore within a furniture store where I used to work, Sterling Provisions, in the Marigny. It was around the same time as Prospect.3 and it generated a lot of excitement from locals and visitors. I then decided to keep on going after Prospect.3 and moved the bookstore to Central City. I needed a bigger place in order to increase and broaden the inventory. After that, I started a fruitful dialogue with the Contemporary Arts Center, which led us to our collaboration. It has been a game changer in terms of the bookstore’s growth! It’s like a relationship. There’s some hiccups here and there, but that’s okay. We are getting to know each other better and figuring out the best ways to work together. It’s constantly growing and expanding. It’s really exciting. It’s my baby!

    LK: In what ways do you think The Stacks is beneficial to New Orleans and vice versa?

    EL: Before there was no place where you could find catalogues of shows that are up in major cities in the US, so you had to either make your way there—which isn’t the easiest thing to do for everybody, right—or order online, which doesn’t allow the physical, material experience of touching, feeling, and flipping through pages. So that’s one thing, but really we try to offer an entry point for everybody, and make it so that anyone can feel comfortable and welcomed. Most importantly we are creating a space where people can come hang out, browse, discover, laugh, and have access to publications that are not available elsewhere, or at least not within reach. Every book, publication, print material that we bring in the bookstore is very intentional.

    LK: What projects are you most excited about?

    EL: We started this series of monthly conversations called “À Propos,” which means “about” in French. It features every month a different local nonprofit that works in the arts community in the New Orleans metro area. We invite them to come share with us and the audience what their organization entails, what their work is about, how they started, what are their future projects, what were the struggles of starting a nonprofit, how do you learn and grow from failures, etc.

    I’m really excited about the platform that this gives to all of these amazing people that do such great things for the community and will help us understand their work. College graduates, for example, who want to bring a project to fruition but don’t really know where to start and are afraid of failure—which is 100% part of the creative process—could benefit from hearing all these people sharing their stories. All of us can benefit from it!

    LK: I love how the community is able to engage with different leaders and learn from one another. What are you currently reading?

    EL: A lot of different things. I started reading Letters from New Orleans by Rob Walker. It’s a collection of the letters he wrote after moving here in early 2003, before Hurricane Katrina. The perspective it gives on New Orleans is very interesting, often moving, sometimes infuriating, but also very funny and genuine. I just can’t put that book down. I’m also browsing through a book of drawings, Snippets of New Orleans, by the local artist Emma Fick. It’s an illustration of the city through a collection of drawings of mundane as well as historical facts and traditions. I’ve been also reading To Kill a Mockingbird, that I have to confess I had yet to read. And I just started to dive into Jim Harrison’s letters on food that was recently published, A Really Big Lunch, Meditations on Food and Life. It’s so good!

    LK: They seem focused on the Southern half of the United States and New Orleans.

    EL: Yeah, I try to make time for it, and read as much as I can about where I am living and understand its complex history more in depth.

    LK: Have you noticed any major similarities or differences from where you lived in France?

    EL: So I actually read this in Rob Walker’s book. He describes New Orleans as a very unselfconscious city, and I think that it’s probably the perfect way to define this place. Marseille is the same. It’s a port city as well with a really strong temper and identity that is the mix of so many rich cultures. It’s like, “This is me! If you’re not happy with this, well that’s what you get. Take it or leave it my friend!” It’s not perfect but all those scars, cracks, and potholes are what makes it beautiful, raw, and real, like a woman’s body, you know? This isn’t photoshopped, you’re gonna have stretch marks on it. That’s what you get! {laughs}

    LK: Lastly, what’s the best thing about owning a bookstore? 

    EL: All the research, learning, and reading, the constant discovery and excitement of sharing new titles, prints, and goods with people!

     

    Why We Give: Picking EarthJustice for April

    Why We Give: Picking EarthJustice for April

    When I created the Nasty Woman shirt, donating to Planned Parenthood was an obvious way for me to say “fuck you, Trump.” His despicable attitude towards women, rampant sexism, and casual talk of sexually assaulting women only underscored the importance of organizations that champion access to affordable healthcare, offer sex education, and support women’s autonomy over our bodies. I’m also a longtime patient of Planned Parenthood and am frankly disgusted with attacks against the vital services they offer to women and men. With the popularity of the shirt and my desire to keep creating products that highlighted our collective desire to resist this administration, I wanted to expand the organizations Google Ghost donates to.

    We chose the ACLU as a recipient of funds from sales of the She Persisted shirt, as it’s glaringly obvious how needed their work is during a presidency determined to undermine freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the civil rights of some of our country’s most vulnerable residents.

    For Earth Day and leading up to the March for Science, I researched the different types of environmental organizations that’ll need our support during a Trump administration. Of course, there are many, many non-profit groups doing amazing and necessary work, spanning all areas of environmental research and advocacy. We selected Earthjustice, one of the largest environmental law organizations in the country. By supporting them, we’re able to rely on their expertise to combat issues ranging from wildlife protection to clean energy. Additionally, they offer their legal services free to clients. While Trump is working to erode environmental protections and privilege corporate interests over the health of our planet, Earthjustice is on the ground (and in the courtroom) fighting. Additionally, one of Earthjustice’s core values is diversity —ensuring that their organizational makeup reflects those they serve. Their site includes this welcome message: ““Achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything we do is inextricably linked to our mission to protect our planet and defend the rights of all people to a healthy environment,” which is something we at Google Ghost can get behind.   

    Go Green, Stay Nasty: Apps That Make Going Green A Breeze

    Go Green, Stay Nasty: Apps That Make Going Green A Breeze

    With Earth Day arriving soon and Pantone’s color of the year Greenery making a splash, it's no wonder you’ve decided to step up your environmental game! You’ve got the basics down too: reduce, recycle, reuse. You even snagged a limited edition Nasty Woman Earth Day tote. However, you still want to up the ante, so we’ve collected a few eco-tech apps to help you do just that. These innovative apps enable users to have fun while learning the necessary steps to start and maintain a sustainable lifestyle. Check them out below and pass your new knowledge on to friends!

    JouleBug 

    JouleBug is an innovative app for sustainability that allows you to post, or “buzz,” your real-life sustainable actions in an Instagram-type feed. Buzz about green actions such as riding your bike, shopping locally or taking public transit.You can join green challenges and compete in friendly competitions while earning achievements for discovering new ways to go green!  

    GoodGuide

    This eco-tech app allows users to make more sustainable purchases by providing information about products’ health and environmental safety. You can scan an item’s barcode or simply look it up. Browsing through the multiple categories such as makeup or oral care, you’ll enjoy learning about what items make for a more sustainable lifestyle.  

    RecycleNation

    RecycleNation is a location-based app that allows users to find recycling locations--from your old paint can to car metal! This incredibly useful app also includes up-to-date articles about to start going green and how to stay there. You’ll also want to check the ‘Tips’ section for simple, daily actions for sustainable living and facts about the impact of unsustainable living on the Earth.  

    Virtual Water

     This informative, eco-friendly app is truly like having a teacher in your back pocket! Virtual Water enables users to determine their water footprint by providing information about how much water is used in and to produce the foods and beverages we consume. Learn more about water conservation and ways to improve your water footprint with this digital companion.

     

    GO FORTH AND GET GREEN!