Behind The Collection
The sunset was in its final stretch in Fort Lauderdale, FL as Yaminah and I realized we were lost and needed her to fetch us from the parking lot. She came downstairs dressed in white linen pants and a beige mesh top complete with a white pair of Havanas and a mini Corona. Meet Rad, un Brasilera a lo máximo!
A few days prior, via a brief text message, Rad and I arranged to meet for me to photograph her in our latest collection, Unbound. I gave little direction as to what the shoot would look like, because I didn’t know. This collection, in its many phases of manifestation, has urged me to go back to my roots and unlearn self inflicted limitations- hence the name Unbound. In this case, I trusted my instinct to just go with the flow. So, when I realized that I’d left my DSLR at home (3 hrs away) I improvised and stopped at Walgreens for a disposable camera just before the shoot. Though, it was a first for me, I thought, how different can this be from my 35mm camera? More on that later…
Rad and I first met at boarding arts high school where she studied acting and I fine art. She’s the kind of person who moves through life doing her best to exude her most authentic self at every moment; the ideal muse for a collection dedicated to boundlessness. I knew that even if I showed up with a pinhole camera and a trash bag, Rad would still serve face, and serve she did.
With hugs and kisses out the way, Yaminah and I followed her with camera and jewelry in hand as she led us through the courtyard to the entrance of her mom's building, where her mom was waiting to let us in, and past the lobby. I stopped immediately and thought, this lobby is money shot perfect! We continued to the apartment for a quick makeup touch up and to see what the apartment looked like as a shoot site, but agreed to finish the shoot in the lobby.
Our best shoots have been those imbued with an undeniable sense of calm and trust. There’s a magic that flares up when you make space for freestyle and embrace random mistakes and coincidences that end up being fucking beautiful. For instance, Rad’s mom’s roommates were cooking Brazilian steak when we walked in to the apartment, so the kitchen became part of the shoot. I have to pause and note just how amazing and generous these two were with offering up their time and living space - they even offered to help and it became a team effort to make this shoot happen! Sidney owns two gorgeous birds, so of course they became part of the shoot also.
The last time I saw Rad was in December 2016 when she surprised me at our pop up shop at Studio 189 in NYC just a few days before I left to Tanzania and Bali with the hopes of creating this collection. That surprise literally made my night. Its that sort of support that humbles me and reiterates the sheer power of community. Unbound has taken about a year to come from idea to full fruition, and like this shoot - I had only a light sketch of what I wanted it to end up looking like.
Making something from nothing is what Purposerosa is all about, but please know it takes determination and dedication to make something from nothing. Producing our first silver jewelry collection in a new country took many a pep talk to self during rough patches and navigation of new business partnerships. I was living in Bali with the intention to produce this collection with very little understanding as to how I’d actually make that happen logistically. Most of the logistic blockage was fear and lack of belief in self/ability. Despite putting my best foot forward consistently, I was not able to pay for the entire collection upfront. I wasted a lot of energy believing I couldn’t do anything about that.
Soon it became clear that I needed to return to the USA for a few personal and professional obligations. When It became real that I was leaving Bali, instinct set in and I scrambled to reimagine how I could make the collection a reality. I chose to imagine a better outcome and dared to pursue it. I came back to the states, worked hard, paid the collection in full and had it shipped to me.
A couple days before launch, I realized I needed a consistent set of product shots for our new online shop. I didn’t have a model, so I decided to take a few images with a selfie stick, an iPhone and natural light. I share this to hopefully inspire someone to see its absolutely possible to make something from nothing. Most of the battle is telling yourself you can do it despite glaring obstacles, and then a continuous decision to say yes to the work it requires. I believe that if its in alignment with what you are meant to be doing, God will provide the rest.
The fact that this entire story was shot on a disposable camera and an iPhone in FL, is one of the many ways this collection has brought me back to my roots. You don’t need a fancy camera or someone’s permission to make it work. Unbound is a nod to our first collection, Disturbia, where we repurposed mirror shards and nails and leather into jewelry and shot most of our designs on an iPhone 3 in a backyard in Miami. It’s been a journey y’all.
As for the photographs, I was right and wrong. Half of the roll came out under exposed because I got so into the shoot that I forgot to turn on the flash. But, hey life happens and the shots that did come out were brilliant. Cheers to the nuance of film, the minor scratches, the graininess, the slow process of developing the roll and the ways that the unknown can surprise and affirm you.
THANK YOU TO:
Esther for welcoming us into your space
Rad for being so flexible with your time, fully present and boundless
Priscila and Sidney for your help, enthusiasm, and generosity in offering your house and pets
Yaminah for going along with my no plan plan