👭 WOMAN CRUSH EVERY DAY: Holley Simmons/Sill Life 👭

As we prepare for our WOMEN + DENIM fundraiser (proceeds of which will go to N Street Village, a DC-based organization that empowers, protects, and supports DC homeless women), we're spotlighting the local, woman-owned businesses that will be participating in the event. 

Holley Simmons was one of my first DC #girlcrushes when I started getting involved in the creative/arts/food scene. At the time, Holley was the lifestyle editor for Washington Post Express, occasionally writing DIY pieces that made me wish -- for the first time in my life -- that I knew how to sew. Under the name Sill Life, she became the succulent queen before succulents were the "it" plant, and her terrariums have spread across DC homes and shops like so much beautiful ivy. Find a pretty terrarium in a vintage bowl? It's probably one of Holley's. Gold-painted dinosaur with a succulent sprouting out of its back? Definitely one of Holley's.
 

Photo via Kate Warren

Photo via Kate Warren

Photo via Kate Warren

Photo via Kate Warren

She founded local studio/workspace The Lemon Bowl in 2015 along with surface designer Kathryn Zaremba and fiber artist Linny Giffin, and together they are a bombshell trio of smart, witty, and totally inspiring babes bringing the magic of crafting to the people of DC through workshops hosted by makers of all trades and a retail space full of eye-catching, locally-crafted goods. Their newest endeavor, Lemon + Aid, was fueled by the current political climate as a way to inspire community giving and enact change. 

Though Holley won't be able to make it to WOMEN + DENIM (as per her usual envy-inspiring fabulousness, she'll be doing some traveling -- follow along at your own risk on her Instagram, here), she has graciously offered to donate a gift certificate to one of her terrarium classes, which we will be raffling off the day of the event. A donation of $10 and/or a pair of jeans size 16+ at the door will entitle you to a raffle ticket.

All raffle proceeds will go directly into our N Street Village donation jar, to help support their programs that empower and protect DC homeless women.

The event is T O M O R R O W and we're so excited for everything to come together. I hope to see you there!

Photo via A Creative DC

Photo via A Creative DC

👭 WOMAN CRUSH EVERY DAY: Amanda Vega/Kaleidos 👭

As we prepare for our WOMEN + DENIM fundraiser (proceeds of which will go to N Street Village, a DC-based organization that empowers, protects, and supports DC homeless women), we're spotlighting the local, woman-owned businesses that will be participating in the event. 

Amanda Vega was the muse behind the first (and second) shopping party I collaborated on, so it was obvious from the get-go that we would invite her to be a part of this woman-powered event. I first met Amanda at a Union Market pop-up of her online clothing retailer, Kaleidos, last year. After every single person I worked with that day purchased at least one item from her inventory of new and vintage pieces, we knew that we needed to create another physical space for us to shop her goods in, and so our private shopping party series was born.

Amanda is a seriously badass babe (and a crazy cat lady after my own heart), with an eye for stunning pieces of clothing and jewelry, a penchant for beautifully moody modeling pics, and a passion for music (oh, yeah -- she's an artist and musician as well as a retail business owner). I've loved collaborating with her over the last few months, and can't wait to see what goodies she has in store for our upcoming event!

Read on for more about Kaleidos.

What inspired you to start Kaleidos?
In 2013, I started an InstaShop (an Instagram Shop) where I would sell clothes from my closet. It began as a hobby, but I found myself really enjoying the process - from photographing the clothes, to curating and digitally merchandising, to packaging the orders. I had quit my visual merchandising job the year before to pursue music full time and was really struggling with a serious bout of writers block. The InstaShop helped me to stay creative when I wasn't able to create music. As I spent more and more time on Instagram, I was discovering this whole world of independent designers and makers. It felt so parallel to the world of indie music, and I wanted to be able to support these amazing women. I've always liked the idea of owning a little boutique, but the idea was always just, well, an idea. After my experience running the InstaShop, I was really inspired to take it to the next level and launch an e-commerce shop where I could do all this. For the next year and half, I spent the time brainstorming what eventually became KALEIDOS.

Tell me about the philosophy behind your brand.
Be creative, conscious, and kind.

Who are some of your local women crushes?
I admire Amanda McClements' kindness and graciousness.
I am inspired by Virginia Arrisueño's drive, dedication, and hard work.
I am fascinated by Desiree Venn Frederic's story and how it has influenced her amazing sense of style.
I respect Morgan Hungerford's endurance of heart for supporting & nurturing the A Creative DC community.
There are so many local women who crush it and are doing amazing things! 

What makes the DC creative community special to you?
What makes this community special to me is its spirit of camaraderie. I think because DC is not yet a city that is widely known for its creative scene, we are craving for it to flourish. When we meet another creative with great ideas or doing amazing things, there is support and a fight for one other to succeed.

Why is fundraising for N Street Village important to you?
I come from a family of 4 girls raised by a low-income single mother. My mom worked tirelessly to provide for us so we could have a stable and normal-as-possible life. There was a point when my mom was sleeping at her place of work and my sisters and I were living in separate houses. Because of this, I have so much compassion for the homeless. I absolutely love N Street Village's mission of empowering women through the approach of dignity and respect. It's a beautiful thing. 

What are some other causes that are close to your heart?
Animals and spreading kindness.

👭 WOMAN CRUSH EVERY DAY: Mallory Shelter Jewelry 👭

As we prepare for our WOMEN + DENIM fundraiser (proceeds of which will go to N Street Village, a DC-based organization that empowers, protects, and supports DC homeless women), we're spotlighting the local, woman-owned businesses that will be participating in the event. 

Mallory Shelter is another friend via Salt & Sundry, though we never overlapped in our time working there. The home goods boutique carries Mallory's absolutely beautiful, delicate-but-wearable pieces, and it's there where I developed a fondness for her dainty metallics and refined gems (as opposed to the chunky costume jewelry I favored in my younger years). Mallory is one of my favorite #boss women to watch as she runs her jewelry business solo out of her inspiring Dupont Circle studio. She expanded into the world of custom wedding + engagement pieces last year, and started making big statement pieces with some of the stunning gemstones she's been hoarding over the years as well (yes, they're as beautiful as you think they are).

I've recently been helping out with booth coverage as Mallory pops up around the city, and it's been incredibly trying on my willpower not to buy one of everything. If I had endless money to burn, you can bet your butt I'd be spending a big chunk of it decking myself out in her gorgeous bling.

Read on for more about Mallory Shelter Jewelry!

What inspired you to start your jewelry line?
I’ve been making jewelry for as long as I can remember, but I never thought it would be more than a hobby. When I moved to DC, I started taking metalsmithing classes and completely fell in love with it. As I began wearing the pieces I was making, more and more people started asking where they could buy them, so I put together an Etsy shop and listed a few items. It pretty organically took off from there!

Tell me about the philosophy behind your brand.
My brand is made up of delicate, gemstone-driven pieces. I’m a complete stone junkie, and really like to accentuate the gemstones I use in my pieces without overshadowing them. I’m constantly looking for unique cuts and types of stones and how I can create pieces with them that are comfortable and delicate to wear.

Who are some of your local women crushes?
I really admire the team at Salt & Sundry. Amanda took a chance on me and was the first to carry my line, and has since become a great friend. Her aesthetic is amazing, and she has been a wonderful mentor to me as i’ve grown my business. Plus the women behind her, Sally Irmer and Nicole Laemers, who oversee the shops, are badasses in every way. 

What makes the DC creative community special to you?
I love the tight-knit feel that the creative community has in DC. The people here are incredibly supportive, and genuinely want to see other creatives succeed. 

Why is fundraising for N Street Village important to you?
As a business owner, I’m proud that i’m able to give back to the community I work in. N Street Village has an incredible mission and i’m happy to be able to contribute toward their cause. 

What are some other causes that are close to your heart?
I’m a big supporter of Planned Parenthood, and try to give a portion of my proceeds to the local DC chapter on a regular basis!

👭 WOMAN CRUSH EVERY DAY: Samantha Testa/Painted Palettes 👭

As we prepare for our WOMEN + DENIM fundraiser (proceeds of which will go to N Street Village, a DC-based organization that empowers, protects, and supports DC homeless women), we're spotlighting the local, woman-owned businesses that will be participating in the event. 

I came across Samantha Testa's beautiful lettering work after falling down an Instagram rabbit hole, and I'm so glad I did! Painted Palettes features a lot of DC
💗 L O V E 💗 (which I'm obviously a fan of) as well as some gorgeously luxe pieces that make me wonder if it would be weird to cover my apartment walls in gold metallic word art. One day I'll actually take a calligraphy class -- until then I'll just buy some of Samantha's gorgeous pieces to keep me inspired.

What inspired you to start Painted Palettes? 
I've been an artist since I can remember...no piece of paper was safe from my (mostly symmetrical) doodles. When I moved to DC, I would bike around the city and take pictures of landscapes that inspired me, which fueled my 3 flagship paintings of Painted Palettes. I decided to have a go at it and starting making paper goods for purchase. Later on in my art career, I was asked to do a hand lettering project for a friend, which opened up a new set of challenges that I LOVED. And it brought me to where I am now...a hand lettering, watercoloring, stationery-slinging artist with a love of puns and the city in which I live. 

Tell me about the philosophy behind your brand.
Painted Palettes is equal parts playful art and accessible design. I love puns, bright colors, and locally-inspired designs. I try to incorporate one (or all) of these into my cards and prints. I love teaching workshops, which emphasizes the accessibility of my art. The first reason I love to teach workshops is because I think adults need more built-in time to be creative--we crave it! Second, I like for people to know that what I do can be done by them, too. We're all artists, we just need to believe in ourselves and practice. Art comes in many forms. Many years ago, in Ravenna, Italy, I took a tour of an artist's studio and on the door of the studio was a quote printed on a sheet of plain white paper..."Life Without Art Is Stupid."  It struck me as so simple and so true. I have since lost the photograph I took but I think of that quote every day and smile.

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Who are some of your local women crushes?
I read about so many women in DC who are CRUSHING it and I feel strengthened by all of their accomplishments. Our ladies who bring us the best restaurants, distilleries, knits, and paper goods. I have a laundry list of inspiring women I want to reach out to and get a drink with! Someone I know personally that I admire is the GM of the West Elm DC, Tennekka Gray....she's a mom, a badass lady boss, and a genuinely nice person who treats everyone with respect and kindness. Love her! 

What makes the DC creative community special to you? 
This is where I "grew up," not in the sense of longevity but maturity. I found who I really am in this city with every person I met, every mural I fawned over, and every meal that has left me speechless. After 9 years living here and seeing the beautiful transformation, I am so proud to call it home.

Why is fundraising for N Street Village important to you? 
My favorite quote of late is "Empowered women, empower women." It speaks to exactly why fundraising for a great organization like N Street Village benefits everyone. Helping even one woman feel valued starts a beautiful cycle of support and lifting each other up.

What are some other causes that are close to your heart? 
The political climate has sparked a fire in me...I am ready to stand up for the causes that support all humans and their right to a peaceful life in which they feel supported, heard, and valued. My background is in education. Our teachers are the hardest working people I know I have a strong interest in bettering our education system for both students and teachers.

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👭 WOMAN CRUSH EVERY DAY: Becky Waddell/Be Clean 👭

As we prepare for our WOMEN + DENIM fundraiser (proceeds of which will go to N Street Village, a DC-based organization that empowers, protects, and supports DC homeless women), we're spotlighting the local, woman-owned businesses that will be participating in the event. 

I met Becky Waddell when we both worked at local home goods boutique Salt & Sundry, and it was her passion for all-natural skincare that made me really start to reconsider what I was putting on my body. Battling increasingly worse allergies and skin sensitivities has made me forever grateful to have Becky in my life to not only listen to all my complaints with endless patience and compassion, but also to educate and guide me as I explore the wild, unfamiliar, and completely magical world of natural skincare.

Becky opened Be Clean in 2014 and all of the hardware and furniture in her gorgeous studio space were handcrafted by her and her husband, Trevor. The shop is a sweet, calming oasis that feels miles away the busy city while actually being in the heart of it -- Perfect for all of the deliciously-smelling, all-natural, and absolutely ~zen~ products she carries.

Read on to learn more about Becky and Be Clean!

beckywaddell.jpg

What inspired you to start Be Clean? 
I've always had a passion for natural skincare, but it wasn't until I moved to DC and saw so many young women owning their own businesses that I realized that creating something from the ground up was even a possibility. I started saying things like, "If I ever had my own skincare shop, I'd carry..." After a few months of that, I realized that I could have my own skincare shop and started pulling together my favorite brands to offer DC a little natural skincare haven that is now Be Clean. I am motivated by the gentle, thoughtful work each one of my brands puts into their creations, and learning about what helps to make my clients not just satisfied, but in love with, their skin. 

Tell me about the philosophy behind your brand. 
My goal is to help encourage self care and acceptance through skincare and thoughtful lifestyle goods. I find that the nuances of natural skincare, be it scent, texture, or behavior, allows for a slowing down -- a participation -- from the user. There is so much to experience in our morning (and evening) routines, but many of us often speed through to make it to work on time. Commercially available shower gels, soaps, and lotions make it easy enough to feel like you've been immersed in a "spa" experience by pumping their products so full of fragrance that you literally can't escape the scent all day, but it makes experiencing the process a passive act. My hope is that by using products from Be Clean, you will intentionally slow down, quiet your mind and notice the soft, velvety texture of your cleansing oil, or the layered and complex nature of your personal fragrance... In this small way, my goal is to reclaim my "me time" and encourage others to do the same. We all need and deserve it.  

Who are some of your local women crushes? 
Of course, Morgan H. West. She is a genuinely nice, inspiring person who wants those around her to succeed. There is no pretense when chatting with her... you can come as you are! Through her hard work, good spirit and dedication to this community, she has achieved so much for local businesses and creatives. She is truly a woman of the people and it makes her a special treasure. 

What makes the DC creative community special to you?
In my experience, we all understand and embrace that we are in this together. That spirit of acceptance is something unique in DC, and something I really love and appreciate. 

Why is fundraising for N Street Village important to you?
Fundraising for N Street Village is important because we all have times in our lives where we need someone's help and compassion... especially today. With so much turmoil and scapegoating, I try to remind myself that there are real people who need real help and one small way to help is through fundraising with other women. 

What are some other causes that are close to your heart?
Animals and the environment are always closest to my heart, and as an organization we are exploring how to better support community causes all year round. 

👭 WOMAN CRUSH EVERY DAY: Elizabeth Graeber 👭

As we prepare for our WOMEN + DENIM fundraiser (proceeds of which will go to N Street Village, a DC-based organization that empowers, protects, and supports DC homeless women), we're spotlighting the local, woman-owned businesses that will be participating in the event. 

First up is Elizabeth Graeber, a visual artist who I've been following ever since she covered Edible DC in bright, beautiful watermelons the summer of 2015. Her planters caught my eye at last year's Crafty Bastards market -- I took one home that's shaped like a woman's face, with her features carved out of the ceramic and a small spider plant poking out where her hair would be. It never fails to make me smile.

Elizabeth's work spans so many different disciplines -- she's a print-maker and a published author, a wallpaper designer and a ceramicist -- that I can't help but be in awe not only of her production capacity, but also of the humor and wonder she never fails to bring to the table (check out her New York Times Bestseller, A Field Guide to Redheads). 

Read on for more information about Elizabeth and her work!

What inspired you to start your line of products?
I work as a freelance illustrator doing commissions. I started making books/ zines/prints and ceramics a few years ago to sell in my shop. Making things for my shop is a fun way to try new materials and experiment with new ideas.

Tell me about the philosophy behind your brand.
I like to make work that makes people happy. I use a lot of color, pattern and fun imagery.

Who are some of your local women crushes?
Everyone at The Lemon Bowl.

What makes the DC creative community special to you?
I like how DC is small and there is always something new.

Why is fundraising for N Street Village important to you?
I'm happy to help and this is a fun way to do it!

What are some other causes that are close to your heart?
Nature and the environment. I have a new print of butterflies for sale in my shop (available here), and am donating part of the sales to the Nature Conservancy.

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2016 was a tough year for many of us; I fought a lot of personal battles and felt pretty lost by the end of it all.

And though it's cliché to think that a new year will be a fresh slate -- as if your 2016 problems stop existing the moment the clock strikes midnight on December 31st -- I can't help but feel it: refreshed, re-energized, and ready to make moves. It might be that I'm back home for the new year, visiting the most beautiful island with the most beautiful people. It's easy to feel like anything can happen in such a magical place. But I'm hopeful that the feeling will stay with me when I'm back in DC and I'm ready to bring a bit of this magic back with me in the promises I make to myself and to others. Here's what I resolve this year:

TO BE BETTER TO MY SELF: To not only recognize when I need to take a break but to let myself do so. To recognize the value of taking time off and away.

TO LET GO OF FEAR, DOUBT AND UNNECESSARY STRESS: Believing in my own power and using that power to achieve my goals and reach for my dreams.

TO SUPPORT THOSE I LOVE AND THOSE I DON'T YET KNOW: Continuing my goal of promoting and championing the makers and shakers of DC and helping their voices to be heard inside and outside of the DMV. To shop local and encourage others to do so too.

These are small but mighty goals. Unmeasurable, to be certain, because I've learned that sometimes achievement is better measured in how you feel at the end of a journey than in the journey itself. What are your goals for this year, and how do you plan on measuring them? Wherever this year takes you and whatever your personal journey looks like, I hope 2017 gives you the fuel you need to light all your fires, the strength to keep them lit, and nothing but
G O O D · V I B E S for the road ahead. And while you figure it all out, I'm sending you a little bit of sunshine from beautiful Puerto Rico: