Thoughts of An Artist

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Relaxing by the Caribbean Sea, at Goff’s Caye

At the time this is published, this post has been in my drafts for several months. I have a lot to say, so here goes.

The experience of being a multi-disciplinary writer, and overall human being, is the daily struggle of my existence. The simple way of explaining who I am is that of an artist, but it is a title I often do not feel comfortable with. I see every aspect of my life through an artistic lens, from expertly matching a textile to the paint color on my bedroom walls, to aligning the elements of a homemade meal perfectly on a plate, to creating the playlist that properly sets a mood for the occasion, to listening intently to others before I speak as I want to make sure the words I utter are pleasing to the ear, and impactful. I know no other way, so why is it so hard to call myself an “artist?”

I write this with a fire in my chest, for many reasons. I often think to myself what my legacy will be, and at the ripe age of thirty-two years old, I really don’t know what that would be. I often beat myself up for being so unfocused, but am I really unfocused? Or is it just that I am very passionate about many things, and quite good at them, so it does avert my attention on the regular? It becomes very hard for me, because I can never give anyone a clear answer when I am asked “what do you do?”, the question that is so quickly asked in cities like NYC and LA before you are asked your name, or how you are doing. In my adult life, I have called myself the following, as I have actively done all of these jobs:

  • fashion designer
  • sales professional
  • music & culture journalist
  • prep cook
  • rum beverage crafter and bottler
  • live events professional
  • freelance bio & copywriter
  • natural skincare & candle crafter and producer
  • on-camera personality
  • events producer

My resilience is seen as a strength, but I am resilient because I know no other way. I am used to making something out of nothing. I am used to creating something beautiful when I am in a dark place. I am used to gathering all my resources to create an incredible experience for others. So why do I continue to take a back seat to myself? Why do I continue to question my abilities when I am SO GOOD AT SO MANY THINGS? Self-doubt is a helluva drug, and I do admit it is hard to ween oneself off of. It is as easy to not do something as it is to do something. The issue with not doing it is having the looming thought of “what if” following you wherever you go.

Not writing is probably at the top of my “not-doing” list. Having been a freelance writer for so many years, brainstorming and pitching and submitting to various outlets, I began to feel that my words were not my own. When you submit a piece to any publication, you go through an editor, and depending on who that person may be, there are a few outcomes that may occur. You may have the opportunity to work with an editor who really sees you and hears your voice for what it is worth, and maintains that voice in the finished, published product. You may also work with the editor who really doesn’t edit, and that finished, published product may have errors you did not notice upon submission. Finally, you may have the unfortunate circumstance of working with the editor who not hear your voice, and edits your work to uphold their voice. I have worked with all three types of editors over the years, and in doing so have had triumphs and disappointments alike.

It is easy to not just write, but when your vocation is one of an artist, particularly a storyteller, the writing must continue. As I kick off my 2019, I am constantly reminded of how important it is to learn, question, and research the stories of others that I so feverishly want to tell, knowing that such passion is the impetus for truly sharing my own story with the world.

Welcome to my world.

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The Many Faces of Andrea

Good News

We’re getting ice cream after this?

When the week ends, and the night falls, what is on your mind? Do you want to log off and unwind? Do you want to hang out with your homies that you didn’t have a chance to see during the week? Or do you break free and run the streets? Summer nights are always my favorite as they tend to have the most expansive range of being super chill, or filled with adventure. A few weeks back, I had one of those nights.

Hair Flip 1

Unleashing the curls

On an unseasonably cool evening in June, I met up with some homies on the fly to hang out. We started the evening having burgers at a spot in Park Slope, and then deliberations began of where we would go to next. Off to the movies? To a rooftop party in Williamsburg? To a house party in Bed Stuy? Despite the weather, I suggested going to Coney Island. It always evokes a feeling of nostalgia, and if we were to get hungry again, there are a plethora of options on and near the boardwalk.

Hair Flip 2

In mid-air

As the majority of us happen to be photographers (I unfortunately left my camera at home this evening, but had back up) we decided to go on a photo walk of sorts. We began at Nathan’s Famous on Surf Ave, snapping the Brooklyn landmark and its iconic lights. While gazing down the block a bit more, I noticed the Coney Art Walls, an outdoor exhibit of street art from various well-known visual artists, were a few feet over, so we scoped it out.

Hair Flip 3

In action

We took a load of photos, though a bit limited as the viewing hours of the walls end at 10 PM and we were in the area at approximately 11 PM. I personally wanted a few new photos for the blog, so I asked my buddy Antoine to snap me. My creative direction? Capturing me letting my hair down. I feel a lot of my photos on the blog or my social media show a more stoic gaze, with my hair pulled back in a bun. With these photos, I really wanted to capture me letting loose, and my many faces.

Pensive

In a pensive mood

Here we have my general thinking face. This is the face I make when I am trying to solve a problem, thinking of how I should go about writing a new post or piece, or the look of daydreaming. This is also one of the first photos where I have been able to show off my new matte black-framed specs from Mó Eyewear.

Something In My Eye?

HOLD UP! There’s something in my eye!

This is one of my more extreme expressions when something is in my eye, or on my face. Although it may not be the most flattering look, it is me in my natural state. As my curls were down, I am pretty sure a strand of hair grazed my eyeball, and I was eagerly trying to get it out of the way.

I'm Trying To Be Serious!

Stop making me laugh!

This is the, “I’m trying to take a serious photo, but you keep making me laugh!” face. My friends are hilarious, and oftentimes when I try to create a serious or sexy pose, that all goes out the window because of laughter. My laughter is quite physical, and usually involves moving my hair and shaking my entire torso.

I love to laugh, and love to show my true faces in the company of friends. I hope now you can see a little bit more into my life.

 

*Photos by Antoine Bennett

Summer Solstice 2017: How Will You Spend The Longest Day Of The Year?

Sun shining on the Caribbean Sea at Caye Caulker

June 21, 2017 (today) is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, where the sun is at the highest point in the sky. It is officially the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year as it is the day we have the most sunlight. In different parts of the world in a multitude of cultural traditions, the day marks a time of renewal and healing; a time to let go of/burn things of the past that no longer serve you. It is a time where self-care and self-love is extremely important.

I, along with many of my friends, have been going through a major shift. It can have many names, but simply put, we are at a time where we have found that we need to make many changes, whether they be very small or monumental, to move forward. Personally, I have been exhausted. I know a part of it has to do with my lack of establishing proper boundaries in my work and personal life, along with anxiety about my life path and future. Add in spreading myself too thin and not affirming my strengths to the mix, and you get one exhausted/confused/drained Andrea.

It can be extremely frustrating to work toward many goals just to have the rug ripped from beneath your feet, reverting you back to stage one. To be honest, at this point I have lost count of how many times the hypothetical rug has been pulled from beneath me, but what I am realizing now is that it was probably pulled for a reason. Maybe what I thought was the right path, wasn’t. Maybe I had to start again because if I went down my intended path, I would be greeted with unsavory individuals who do not have my best interest at hand. As a self-identified control freak (I am working on this), it would feel like my world stopped when something wouldn’t go my way. I would turn off from the world, fall into a depression, and ruminate on my shortcomings, negatively affecting those around me.

In shutting off from the world and finding almost too much comfort in solitude, you don’t hear what the outside world thinks. Yes, in the case of the outside world being negative, it is great to take time to yourself to renew and refresh, but how about when they have great things to say, and you are unavailable to hear them? An event that mirrors this sentiment just came up in my life last week, and it really opened my eyes.

Sunset at Caye Caulker

For maybe the thousandth time since I began the blog, I considered shutting it down, again. I have had trouble writing as I have been going through a lot in my personal life, and the act of just starting a post was quite debilitating. I would go through moments of skimming back on blog archives as well as my social media, trying to pinpoint when & where things went downhill. I couldn’t find an exact spot, but I did notice the places where my posts did not occur for months on end. During another wallowing in my sorrows moments, when I was simultaneously decluttering my space, I received a message on Facebook from a friend from college. I was actually surprised to hear from her, as we had not spoken in some time.

My friend, Damaris Vasquez-King, is a teacher at Soundview Academy for Culture & Scholarship, a middle school in the Soundview section of the South Bronx. She reached out as she had been following the blog, and wanted to gauge my interest in speaking to her students for a career day. I immediately said yes after I was told the date. Prior to this, I had never spoken to youth about my career path because I never felt sure about it, and thought I would not have enough information to speak on. I admit, I had to psych myself out a bit for the speaking gig, which was on June 15th, because I thought I would fail. To my surprise on that day, I did astronomically better than I expected.

I spoke to a group of about 24 girls in her class about blogging and freelance writing, a bit about myself, and what types of topics I cover. I was slightly nervous, but calm as the girls were very inviting, and genuinely seemed interested in what I was saying, despite being the last speaker of the day. Throughout my talk, Ms. Vazquez (Damaris) added how she used my blog as an example to her class of how you can use a blog/online platform as a place of positivity as opposed to malice. I almost shed a thug tear. I had no idea, and it really made me feel really proud as in that moment, I knew my words were positively affecting the next generation.

It is so easy in the realm of blogging to get caught up on numbers, especially when you want to work with big brands. Partnership deals are great and all, but if what I am doing cannot be a place of positivity or teach someone something new, why even do it? It shifted my focus completely, and since I have been thinking more deeply about my vocation that I believe was written way before I got here; to teach.

So on this Summer Solstice, I will be kind to my mind, body, and soul, and really dig deeper into what my next move is. Perhaps, I can teach you something.

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Transparency On This #WorldMentalHealthDay

My happy place, Belize

What do you do when you don’t know how to ask for help? From a young age I learned how to help myself in many ways as I did not want to bother others, or would lose patience in waiting too long for help. Being able to help myself made me feel very independent; I learned how to assemble furniture on my own as a preteen, and could always conjure up a meal or snack in the kitchen with limited ingredients. This will to “make it happen” on my own terms is why I started A Life In The Day of Andrea five years ago; I wanted to have my own online destination where you could learn something new, view beautiful photos, and feel like you were present for all the experiences I have documented thus far. At the age of 30, I have come to the conclusion that this ability to help myself is a huge issue I deal with, and it has been quite detrimental in many facets of my life, the largest one being my own mental health.

In the past, I have written tidbits of my struggles with depression from dealing with the deaths of many family members and friends in four short years, and how stuck I have felt from losing jobs over and over again. I have had many temporary highs in that time, whether it be working with a respected publication, partnering with brands, traveling to a new city, and meeting awesome people, but behind my smiles and pristine photos, the high would end as soon as I got home. To attain more highs, I would keep myself busy, go on as many coffee dates, making sure to attend as many events and partaking in the open bar so I could temporarily escape from my existence of being unhappy. I can’t really pinpoint where this feeling of unhappiness and feeling of ongoing depression began, but as of late, I have really hit a wall. I like to think of myself as a natural born leader who has a strong vision for what she wants in her life, but I often fall short as my thoughts of self-doubt, riddled with anxiety hold me back. It is hard to really explain where it comes from, but it has been pretty consistent for years now.

In recent weeks, the combination of my depression (caused by lack of opportunities, and recent birthdays of the deceased) and anxiety have had me locked up in my bedroom for days. My sleeping habits changed, going to bed after 3 AM and awaking in the early afternoon. I have avoided meeting groups of friends as I did not want to answer the question, “so what are you up to?” In my avoidance, I have developed a feeling of guilt as I believe I have disappointed people. The idea of disappointing people is often worse than actually disappointing people. A few days ago while trying to draft a post here, it happened; I had a pretty awful anxiety attack that felt like my chest, specifically over my heart, was caving in. I cried for hours alone, drank water, and took pain meds to ease the pain that I had caused myself. I texted friends and family as a cry for help, and they listened, but what I really needed was a real life human in the same room as me, to listen and help me with what I was/am going through.

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A Life In the Day of Andrea Turns 5! A Photo Reflection.

You read that right. On this day in 2011, I published my first post ever on this here blog. I truly had no idea what I was doing at that time, just the fact that I was in the know when it came to happenings around NYC and abroad, that were usually fueled by my intense love for music. Honestly, I still don’t have it all together. In these years, my blog has had a multipurpose function, to share my personal thoughts and happenings in my life, and to introduce you to new things and interesting people. Because I care so much about what I do decide to cover or write about here, the blog has also served as a portfolio of sorts, helping me snag writing, social media, and event gigs with brands and people that I do admire.

April 2013. Photo: Ernest Estimé

The past five years of my life have not been that peachy, as in this time I have dealt with a ton of personal loss in the form of death of family members and friends, loss of stable jobs, and the loss of relationships. I don’t say this for you to take pity on me, but to peel back a layer on the actual life of the creator behind the blog. I have written on many accounts of my struggles with depression, sadness, and anxiety, and I thank each and every one of you who took the time to read, give advice, and wish me well. It is incredibly difficult to keep up with everything that is happening in your city when you are not the happiest with yourself. I have toyed with the idea of shutting A Life In The Day of Andrea numerous times as I started to drown in events and content.

Fab 5 Freddy posing in front one of his works

Fab 5 Freddy, 2013. Photo by me.

When I look back, it is very easy to feel a bit disappointed as I haven’t amassed tens of thousands of followers on social media to show brands and important people that I am worthy to work with. I did not start this platform to find fame, but to share my world. Having the opportunity to work with interesting people over the years has just been a bonus. With all that being said, I will not shut the site down, but fine tune my content to really be an extension of my life. Photography is a huge part of my expression, so I will get back to posting photos I have taken, and cool shoots I collaborate with friends on.

Caye Caulker, Belize 2014. Photo by me.

With that said, here are a few of my favorite images that I have taken, or were taken of me over the years. I hope you enjoy!

Alexandra Ferguson pillows, Gluk wine glass coaster, High Heel wine coaster, NEO (neoprene pillow)

Lifestyle shoot at Harlem Flo, 2012. Photo: Creative Jenius Agency

Coco O. dazzling the crowd with her sultry vocals.

Coco O. of Quadron, 2013. Photo by me.

Borbay on left and author Zack O'Malley Greenburg.

Borbay & Zack O’Malley Greenburg, 2014. Photo by me.

moeimacakes

Moeima, 2012. Photo by me.

Picture in picture, 2015. Photo by Kermit Mercado.

What I’ve Been Up To: More Writing, Fitness, Food & Travel!

Mid “Running through the 6 with my woes”/ Photo: AKC

For the past few weeks, my posts here have been a little inconsistent, so I wanted to update you all on some of the new happenings in my life. Here is an update of my past few weeks in the realms of writing, fitness, food, and travel. It is “A Life In The Day of Andrea” after all!

 

I am a new “Cocktail Culture” contributor Societe Perrier

I’ve been following Perrier and their lifestyle blog Societe Perrier for some time now. I’ve been interested in contributing since 2011, but didn’t think my work was strong enough as I was fairly new to writing and blogging at the time. Fast forward to late December 2014. They start to communicate with me via social media, to me eventually landing a spot as a new Cocktail Culture contributor for NYC! I started in late May. You can check out my first post on antioxidant cocktails here.

 

I ran a great race at the Nike Women Toronto 15 K, and took 3 dance classes after

Dancing in my race shirt/Photo: CDC

On June 14th, I ran my first major race in ages at the Nike Women Toronto 15 K and finished strong! You can read the full backstory with images here. Post-race I decided to take a few dance classes at the City Dance Corps open house in downtown Toronto (because I’m crazy, apparently). I took jazz, ballet, and dancehall (bluck bluck!) classes, all thirty minutes each, and had a blast! The photo above is from my most challenging session, ballet. Thank you so much to my girl/fake sister Celina for having me.

 

A new “Liquid Culture” feature on Large Up

Arcachon Cremas/ Photo: AKC

I’ve been contributing food & drink pieces to Caribbean culture site Large Up since December of 2014, mainly my own Belizean family recipes. This was my first feature, focusing on a fledging Haitian-American cremas brand. You can read all about it here. Photos by yours truly also!

 

*BIG NEWS: I am a Staff Writer at super new journalism platform, SLANT*

I’m super excited to share this news. I am a Staff Writer for newly launched (like one week old NEW) journalism platform Slant. It is innovative as its model is crowdsourced journalism, allowing the ones who are experiencing the “news” to contribute and tell their own unique story. I love this idea, because I am really able to express myself in ways I may have not been able to on other platforms. Stay tuned for awesome music, personal, fashion, art & culture stories. In the meantime, you can read these that are now live.

My Super Awesome Hair Makeover at ARROJO Williamsburg w/ My Contest Winner, Jordanna!

BEFORE THE CUT & COLOR

On a rather normal day in mid-May, I was checking my e-mail and came across a rather exciting message in my iCloud account. I was perplexed as to how I was even receiving mail there, as I rarely use the account. I opened the message and see it is from Andrew Arrojo from ARROJO salon. I read the words “free cut & color, for you and a friend, in Williamsburg” and I almost dropped my phone. I had worked with the salon a few times in the past, and I was ecstatic for this opportunity as I was able to reenergize the relationship, transform my hair as it was in pretty bad shape, bring a friend, and not have to leave Brooklyn.

I was invited for the service in the afternoon of their new Williamsburg salon’s grand opening festivities, and given the chance to stay and network at the party in the evening. I brought Jordanna of The Fashionette with me, as she won my contest for a hair makeover.

JORDANNA PRE-CUT

We both came in with dark brown, rather limp tresses. Jordanna had been transitioning to natural hair for a few months, but wanted to go for a short pixie cut for summer, in a blue-black tone. I hadn’t cut my hair in about six months and wanted to do something fresh and new. I decided on warm caramel highlights and fresh layers that added movement, but kept the majority of my length.

FUNNY FACE WHILE LETTING MY CARAMEL HIGHLIGHTS SET IN

This selfie was obligatory as it really looked like my hair was plastic at this point. My colorist Lucy informed me that the plastic wrap helps process the color. My strands were bleached first then toned down to a warm caramel color.

JORDANNA GETTING HER BLUE/BLACK COLOR

Jordanna wanted to give her tresses more edge with this blue-black dye. As some of her strands were a little lighter from previous color, her process was a bit longer, but created an awesome result.

SIDE VIEW OF MY FINAL LOOK

I showed my stylist John an image that I found in a Google search of the type of cut I wanted. The layers were a bit whimsical with great length, just a little past my shoulder. I think he really nailed it as he great technique cutting my curly hair. I’ve had unfortunate cuts in the past where the curls don’t blend and are very boxy. I’m super happy with the cut, and the blowout he gave me.

EXCITEMENT WITH JORDANNA! LOVE HER EDGY PIXIE CUT

Look at how different we look! Isn’t Jordanna’s pixie awesome? Her stylist and colorist did an awesome job, and were really thoughtful and patient with her kinkier curls. I really want to stress the fact that ARROJO stylists are trained incredibly well. They can handle all hair types, from my thicker, wavy strands, to Jordanna’s finer, kinkier strands. I think we both got the look we wanted, and more.

FRONT VIEW OF MY FINAL LOOK

Here is my “sexy/quirky” selfie of my final look. Yes, I felt like a Victoria’s Secret model. That’s how I always want to feel after having my hair styled.

POSTED WITH MY COLORIST, LUCY

After the cut & style, there was the party! Here I am with my super awesome colorist Lucy. We hung out at the grand opening party with prosecco in hand. I was able to meet a bunch of great ARROJO stylists and team members, whilst jamming to the tunes of DJ Spinva (who also happens to be a colorist at the SoHo salon).

ARROJO Williamsburg offered me such a lovely experience, from the service and stylists to the overall vibe of the space. I will definitely be back. In the meantime, you should check them out for your next cut or color. Tell them Andrea sent you! 🙂

ARROJO Williamsburg

11 Broadway

Brooklyn, NY 11249

718.215.6625

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo for A Life In The Day of Andrea

I received a complimentary hair cut, color & style from ARROJO Williamsburg.

A Message To You, and Myself: OWN THAT SHIT!

A SNAP OF MY COCKTAIL TASTING AT NEW YORK TRAVEL FEST

As a young professional woman, at times, I can say the odds are against me. Those odds are raised as a young professional woman of color; not an opinion, but pure fact. It is fact that there is a lack of melanin and varied hair textures in higher management and executive positions across all fields. It is fact that we earn less than our male counterparts. It is fact that we receive more discrimination, whether it be simply for our gender, sexuality, race, or any other reason under the sun. This can put a damper on my and your mood, given your circumstance, but in these times, I always need to remind myself that things can be exponentially worse.

The simple fact in that my parents decided to uproot themselves from Belize to provide a “better life” for their children in the United States has granted me many opportunities, specifically in education and the workforce. Being in New York City has been beneficial for me as it is an epicenter for entertainment and media. Things are within my reach, I would say. I do not remain complacent, although at times, I do struggle with a bit of a sense of entitlement, given the fact that I really hit the ground running building industry contacts since the age of 18. That is now ten years.

MY BADGE FOR THE COINVENT MEDIA SUMMIT

I’ve always been a dreamer, but very vocal in what I’ve wanted and continue to want. That voice and will has afforded me great opportunities, but I can say to this date, I can get overwhelmed. Something as simple as being able to be in the same room as one of your idols, or better yet, have a conversation with them; that’s a HUGE DEAL. I look back at emails, and photos, and writings, and I am often taken aback by goals that I have achieved without even realizing it. I have also realized that in times like these, I need to give myself a pat on the back because it was not pure luck which brought these things into my life, it was through tons of hard work and relationship building. I DESERVE IT. And I am here to tell you that you deserve all the incredible opportunities that come into your life as well.

In the past week and a half, I presented & did a tasting at the New York Travel Fest on behalf of my fledgling beverage company Cas Rum Beverages, I was invited to attend the CoInvent Media Summit, which focused on the intersection of media and tech, and attended the final day of the Women In The World Summit, which featured a special presentation and call to action by Angelina Jolie Pitt. Sounds like a lot right? And I can say it is, especially in such a short time, but I know this is all happening now because I’ve truly worked so hard over the years to get to this point.

BLURRY IPHONE PHOTO OF ANGELINA JOLIE PITT AT WOMEN IN THE WORLD

I’ve got a long way to go, but I am reminded each day that I am truly on the right path. Don’t beat yourself up. With each missed connection and sleepless night, you are preparing yourself for something great. Trust your journey.

WOMANday: Why I Choose Not To Give Up, A Tribute To Those Gone Too Soon

Being a creative individual, in itself, is quite difficult. You are filled with ideas, so many ideas that at times you feel overwhelmed by them if you are not able to translate those ideas into something physical in the world. There are constant ups and downs within the creative process, and at times, this can get the best of us. Over the years we have seen many of our greatest talents in the creative realm leave us too soon, because of the demons that they could not fight during said down time. Creatives of the past remind me that I have so much to give, but those reminders are seen in not too pleasant ways, in those close to me.

I have blogged in the past about dealing with multiple deaths of both loved ones and friends in a condensed time frame, 2012 being one such year. I never went in to depth that 2013, also was a year of great loss for me, which made me reevaluate a few things in my life.

On this day, one year ago, my life was quite different. I was working in an office setting with Concrete Loop, and around the early evening time I was getting ready to attend the much-hyped Yeezus concert at Barclay’s Center. I was finishing up a Skype session with one of my favorite bands, The Internet, and getting primped to attend this monumental show with the entire Concrete Loop team. I was ECSTATIC. I got to the show, had the opportunity to hang with my lovely co-workers and other friends in the entertainment and media spheres, whilst jamming to Yeezy. How perfect is that?

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Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself; Andrea, The Fashion Designer

In our everyday lives, we deal with many ups and downs; celebrations and mishaps, opening and closing doors, each moment adding to our own unique story. I cannot say that my experience is more difficult than that of anyone else, because the major things (food, shelter, clothing), I don’t need to worry about. However, when you suffer from being somewhat of a perfectionist (yes, I used “suffer” in this case) and have extremely high expectations of yourself, points that may be less exciting end up being the lowest of lows. This my friends, is not okay.

It’s been nearly a year since I have worked in a proper office setting, and for me, this has been somewhat of a gift and a curse. A gift because in this time I have been able to learn more about myself as a person, and what I believe my strengths and weaknesses to truly be, and a curse because I lack the structure of an office setting, and at times, have too much time with myself to think. As a writer, my thoughts are a commodity, my thoughts become THINGS. Whether it be a simple reflective post like you are currently reading, a location and full conversation set-up in advance for an interview, the idea for another blog or literary project, my thoughts translate quickly into something you can consume, if I of course, write them down. For whatever reason, in these past few weeks, I have had much difficulty in writing anything down. After the fatigue of fashion month, my mind and body became drained, and I really had to take a step back and evaluate my current situation. Covering fashion and music as a single writer on my own site becomes overwhelming as the cycle is so incredibly fast. I was trying and trying to put out content, but all I really wanted to do was sleep because I was so mentally and physically exhausted. I am happy that I did immerse myself in various types of fashion events this past month because it made me realize how much I care about it, and miss it, because I am indeed, a fashion designer.

I started this blog in 2011 because I have a unique perspective on the creative world, but my main reason in giving myself a voice online was to solidify a space for my fashion design. My secondary major in college was fashion, and since 2007 I have created capsule collections, more so for school fashion shows and other small shows in New York City. I abandoned much of this once I put the majority of my energy into this here blog, and I knew that if I wanted to be truly fulfilled, I had to do both. In these past few weeks, I have been sewing again, making skirts and dresses for myself with excess silk fabrics I have had from previous collections. This was quite new for me as I had formerly constructed garments solely for sample size models, and have ended up with a closet-full of garments that do not fit me. In my observations of apparel during fashion month I truly realized that my perspective in regards to women’s special occasion wear was quite special (not to be trite) and that I should put more of it out there. My mother has always been my right-hand in regards to fashion; teaching me how to sew, how things should fit, what fabrics should be used, and what is “appropriate”. Because of her wisdom, I inherently design dresses and skirts with a timeless appeal that is always appropriate in a fresh way.

With that being said, I wanted to show you a photo of my first completed skirt, of many more to come! This skirt was constructed out of two different silk ikat fabrics from Uzbekistan (note the opposing pattern in the waistband), lined in marigold silk. This was the last of this piece of fabric I had, purchased back in 2010, and is truly one of a kind. I will be making skirts like this in three different lengths; knee, mid-calf, and ankle, to satisfy all tastes. If you are interested in a skirt, feel free to send me a message on my contact page. So excited to take you on this journey with me. 🙂

*Photo by Diana K. Castillo

Back From Belize, And Refreshed!

Outside my grand-aunt’s house in Belize City.

Living in such a fast-paced world, it is incredibly necessary to take that time to step back to reflect, explore, and re-charge. I had the opportunity to do so during the latter part of August as I visited Belize for 18 days. I used the time to be as offline as possible, although I did post some photos every now on Instagram when I caught WiFi. It was a time to be with my family and really explore the country in a way I had not prior. Usually, my time is split between Belize City (where the majority of my family lives) and Ambergis Caye (where our timeshare is located). This time around, we covered much more, visiting all corners of the country and meeting family, friends, and new experiences along the way.

Peeking through the mangrove in Caye Caulker.

In the Northern region of the country we visited Caye Caulker and San Pedro, which are big tourist destinations, in the center, Belize City and the nation’s capital, Belmopan, in the Cayo District in the West, Xunantunich (one of the most popular Mayan ruins in the country), and in the Sounthern Stann Creek District, the town of Dangriga (where we have family) and Placencia where we have roots and many family friends.

Sunset in Placencia.

I wanted to give you all a written and photo introduction to my tales of Belize. I captured a lot, ate lots of food, and have so much to share! Stay tuned for #AlifeinthedayinBelize!

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Keeping It Real: Please Do Not Put Me On A Pedestal. I Did Not Ask To Be There.

THE CARIBBEAN SEA IN BELIZE

There comes a time when you just need to stop, reflect, and be real with yourself. That time for me is right now. I like to use this platform to fill your internet reading space with cool music, fashion, beauty, art, and food treats, but now, I feel the need to share a bit more about me, as a person.

Back in 2008 or so when I really began the road to creating my internet presence, I knew exactly what I wanted. I first knew that I wanted to brand my full name, and make it seamless across all platforms. At that point, for some reason, I projected my name being important for some reason. This was pre-blog, pre-Instagram, pre-celebs following me on Twitter, pre-being fake famous on the internet. In having the same name across all social media platforms, I use the same avatar, a professional photo that I believe to be polished. From an outsider looking in solely at my web presence, I appear to really have it together, I wouldn’t say “flawless”, but close to it.

This is the complete opposite of the truth. I’m a real ass person, with real problems, and real feelings, and real struggles. I am terribly far from perfect, but I am completely aware of this, and I accept it. I know that as a person in conversations, I have this sense of familiarity, which allows me to connect with all types of people from all walks of life. This is the main reason why I love interviewing people; I just love to hear and learn about the stories of others. I also believe this is a gift. I am often asked how I do certain things, and how I connect with certain people, and I often give the answer, “I just do”. I believe I can, therefore I can. I would say I am hardworking, and have a strong will, so I make it my duty to put my thoughts into fruition. Because of this, I am often placed on a pedestal for some reason, and this, I don’t really like.

When you are placed on a pedestal, you are not allowed to fall. Falling may be failing at a certain biz venture, execution of an event, a badly reviewed piece of writing, anything that is less than perfect than what is required to be on said pedestal. I’m extremely hard on myself as it is, and for others to have this inflated view is not what I want. I just want you to see me as someone who is working towards doing something that they truly love; that is allowed to make mistakes until she reaches her highest goals, and in turn, achieves her dreams. LET. ME. DO. THAT. That is all I ask. I’m in a rut financially, following my dreams and such, and if I can give any piece of advice, it would be this.

Don’t assume until you ask. Ask your friends, mentors, family, and those you admire about their path, and what they are doing, and have done to get there. You never know what hurdles people have to overcome until you ask.

 

Photo by Andrea K. Castillo