My little Business is 4 years old: Happy Birthday Aoede’s Hands

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Four years ago I started my own small business Aoede’s Hands
It has been an interesting roller-coaster, full of challenges and lessons for me.

Firstly, It was never planned.

I have always loved accessorizing unbranded, very simple clothes with fabulous accessories, such as belts, shoes and bags. I also really loved earrings and necklaces, but the very pretty ones always were too pricy, and unfortunately I didn’t have the means to spend my money on those I really liked. #agirlgotbillstopay

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The previous year, a friend of mine, Hiroko, made jewelry for one of her classes project, and gifted me a pair of earrings, which I loved (and still have). Until then, it never occurred to me that I could actually make it myself. So, after some research, mainly at the library, reading arts and craft books, I migrated to YouTube tutorials and blogs. I really liked fabric as a medium because I had been sewing since I was a child, and was very comfortable with it. I went down Fashion district and explored the millions of fabric stores. I finally found this African owner who carried beautiful wax (African fabric) and was willing to sell by the yard.

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Let me tell you there were lots of trials and errors! However, I kept working on the product until I was satisfied finish. When I was happy with one piece, I proudly rock my pieces; then something amazing happened: I was constantly complimented by strangers about them, and even stopped. This lady asked me how much I was selling them. I was shocked! She wanted to pay me!!!

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That was perfect, since I was a struggling student and I could use some extra cash to pay for classes and other expenses.

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Since then, I have been creating and selling my accessories all over the world, opened an Etsy boutique, participated to many events and street fair. This allowed me to meet and collaborate with lots of very interesting people and grow as an individual. I also had a lot of supports from my beautiful friends in all areas, from helping me build my website, to organizing photoshoots, purchasing fabric on their trip to Africa, writing articles in French, English, Japanese, etc… tagging and promoting my jewelry!

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One of the highlights of Aoede’s Hands was when Tatiana Ward aka BeatFaceHoney made this amazing video.

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I am so grateful of all the opportunities that were given to me and I hope the future will soon bring Aoede’s Hands to another level, now that I can dedicate more time for expansion and promotion!

<3 Thank you to all <3

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How do I deal with certain things as a self-declared Woman of a Culturally and Ethnically Rich Background (WCERB)

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Disclaimer: my ideas and opinions are subjected to change as I go through this beautiful thing we call life. You can help me shape my ideas by commenting and sharing your own perspective, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

IMG_0211These past few days I have had interesting interactions with friends about gender and race discrimination, and I came into a few conclusions of my own.

Let me first tell you a little about me: I believe race and gender are of social construct. I was socialized as a typical “white girl”. My mother’s family is French of Italian descent, and I grew up among them; therefore, for the first part of my life: I was oblivious of many things related to race/ethnicity. Of course, I saw there were different types of people, from different continents, but I didn’t think that their differences transcended their physical appearances: some had straight hair, other curly, black skin, or blue eyes, etc… Most importantly, I was not aware of the concept that certain minorities could be discriminated against, and definitely didn’t recognize it could somehow affect (or rather was affecting) my life.

Things started to unravel later when my consciousness and common sense clashed in a sort of disbelief, then climaxed in high school where I finally met a bunch of people from different places, and who had lots of (preconceived) ideas, about lots of things, not unlike the people I had grown up with, amusingly… This lead me, over the years, not only to educated myself about these issues that pertained to my own identity and others, but also listen attentively and reflect on my own experiences as a Woman of a Culturally and Ethnically Rich Background (WCERB).

This social experiment led me to a few conclusions of my own:

Discriminations do exist, that is why it is important to be aware of them; but if you keep looking at something you will always find something you can read into as such even, when there is nothing.

For instance, if you’re on the road and you see a hole on the ground, upon acknowledging it, you have a few choices:

  • You could stop and complain how people are negligent, and how they don’t care about other’s safety, and on and on, and on… making a lot of noise, and not really doing much about it.
  • You could maneuver around it, minding your own business
  • You could contact the authorities, so the problem is addressed, and someone will eventually fix it
  • Or even better, get some cement and fill the opening, preventing accidents from happening.

You might also not know what a hole is, either because you have not been exposed or nobody knew about it, or everybody else had special shoes that protected them from falling. It might take a few fall and hurt before realizing what it is and now be aware.

These examples are pretty straight forward, and if you didn’t get it, I am just encouraging you raise awareness and pro-activity, if anything.

I feel blessed I was able to learn (the hard way), and I ended up realizing that most of these roads I was (am) strolling had already been paved before me. In the process of discovering, I blamed others and denounced their lack of sympathy and/or compassion, I avoided tackling issues enabling, as a result, certain behaviors around me, I have tried to get helped from others, and I have also been proactive. From experience, the last two have been the most effective.

Bottom line, it is human to feel negatively drained by injustices. But the real question is: what are you going to do about it? How do you face challenges?

Disclaimer: my ideas and opinions are subjected to change as I go through this beautiful thing we call life. You can help me shape my ideas by commenting and sharing your own perspective, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

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I can’t get no satisfaction…

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20140707-210116-75676595.jpg Although I do not miss my twenties, I religiously celebrate my 25th birthday’s annivers20140707-204126-74486773.jpgary every year; I jokingly do so as a reminder of an awesome time of my life when I didn’t care much about anything. I used to love the club! I think I was 16 the first time I had been in one, in my hometown. I wore a tight satin black pants and wear my hair in two braided buns like the girl in the “shimmy shimmy ya” video. The bouncer asked for our IDs, but we told him he saw it the previous week and we didn’t bring it again… Perplexed he let us in, and here we were: the “Saint James” — the rest is history… From Marseille to Paris to New York, I scandalously painted the towns with my respective crews. 20140707-204126-74486388.jpg From what I can remember it was epic. I think… cause in fact, there are some blurry parts. Like a lot… and no Instagram nor Facebook to document the shenanigans (thanks God!) . The sole, more or less accurate, recollections come from different sources – not to be necessarily trusted. 20140707-204126-74486578.jpgI wish I had kept a diary, tho. It might not have been very truthful, but at least I would have had a better timeline of events and I would be able to better deny my friends embarrassing claims! One told me recently that I had a selective memory, which I replied: I just have no memory mon cher… Nowadays, I rarely have that much fun when I go out. 20140707-204127-74487475.jpgI guess the novelty wore off, the crews dissipated, the events are not as 🔥hot🔥, the music became to loud, and I don’t even know that new Chris Brown song… Or I just have greater expectations, higher standards and i can’t get no satisfaction (Mick Jagger’s voice). Overall, club ain’t my cup of tea… Unless… it’s a house party. I have to say, I grew fond of the great conversations, debates, seeing people’s real face, comfortably-chic dress codes, networking opportunities, and of course music that do not depend on annoying horrible DJs! I guess I entered this next stage where having fun involve different things…. Nonetheless, the club will still keep a place in my heart. <3

 

Disclaimer: my ideas and opinions are subjected to change as I go through this beautiful thing we call life. You can help me shape my ideas by commenting and sharing your own perspective, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAzqSYQ9X9U

This desire of being acknowledged, yet to be left alone

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IMG_0078Almost everyday, I leave my house with this desire of being acknowledged, yet to be left alone. Acknowledged as that girl who enjoys being well put together. Although I hate to care so much about how I look, I will be honest: I meticulously stare at myself in the mirror at least once a day; However, I often end up taking “the looks” down a notch, downgrading, by changing outfits, avoiding wearing makeup, wearing an extra layer of clothing, so I will not to be solicited by strangers, cause I rather be left alone. And when it is still not enough, and someone vociferously indulges in a public space, I just stare back until I make them feel ashamed of themselves. When they whisper something as I walk by, I turn back and ask out loud: “excuse me sir, but did you ask something?” Most time, caught of guard they say no. I am assertive, but I won’t unnecessarily put myself in danger: I am very cautious, and constantly assess my surroundings, just in case. For some reason, I am overly sensitive to these type of injustices lately; I am literally enraged at how oppressed and constrained women are treated. Most of us are so used to it that we see it as normalcy. I tend to believe that long ago men realized how powerful women were; then, they had no choice but to create ways to control us, set boundaries and instill a sense of insecurity so to keep their influence. The more I think about it, the more I learn how things work, the more it makes sense: I feel as I am walking out of a fog, some sort of the awakening… I am like Neo when he finally enters the matrix: he can’t deny the fact, nor ignore the reality anymore. I am enlightened. #fightthepower

 

Disclaimer: my ideas and opinions are subjected to change as I go through this beautiful thing we call life. You can help me shape my ideas by commenting and sharing your own perspective, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

 

#tbt

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My hair was too wild and my skin too brown – so they said.

I wished my hair was straight and long and my eyes clear as the sea, so they’d like me. I wanted color lenses so badly so I could be pretty [too].

It was hard, not being acknowledged in so many ways.

But I knew was that I was kinda smart: I always had the best grades, and it came easy. I liked school and was interested in all sorts of things! It’s not like I had a social life anyway.

Racism was rampant, and I was called names many times at school. At home, it was more subtle, at time. I was not directly attacked; but those who looked like me were vilified; and when I experienced distress and spoke out, I was told it was “in my head”.

Over the years, somehow, things have changed, have evolved, even if we still have a lot to accomplish.

I am glad today because I have learnt to let go bitterness; I am, however, very aware of people’s behavior and understand those who don’t understand. How could they?

It takes extra effort and sympathy to “get it”.

It takes courage to walk in my shoes for at least a couple of miles.

It takes strength to accept life is not always as in the movies.

It takes humility not to judge.

Framing principles

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I was asked for one of my Philosophy class to write about 3 principles that are important to me. It pushed me to think of what my values were, how I had evolved over the years and how much more I wanted to accomplish in life. Overall that was a great exercise for me, helped frame some concepts and rethink of where I stood. Hope you enjoy!

My first ethical principle is to not judge someone or a situation without seeking understanding. We generally tend to project our own thought processes and beliefs on others: we see life through a specific set of lenses, our own reality; we use stereotypes as a rigid tool to readily assess ones’ abilities and place within society. However, it is important not to come to any conclusions too hastily. By leaving room for doubt and avoiding premature labeling, we may consider the reasons that lead to a particular behavior. Although, as an example, I do not condone acts of violence, I believe it is important to empathize with others, as more often than not, actions stem from deeper and more complicated issues, which could be social, economic or physiological. The more we investigate, the greater our understanding and problem solving abilities will grow

My second principle would be to allow myself to fail. For a great part of my life, I regarded it as the worst denouement: I associated failing with being a failure. This outlook on life confined me to easy and comfortable choices, preventing me from developing new abilities and skills. This fear of challenge stunted my progress until I realized that it was the only and best way for me to grow.

Lastly, my third principle is to continuously self-reflect, and re-assess accordingly. I can confidently say that the person I was 5 years ago is different from whom I am today. With every experience comes an opportunity to learn something new and to fine-tune my personality. Creatively resolve life’s impediments by questioning my own demeanor and practices as I recognize that my inputs have direct or indirect outcomes seems essential. Be aware of the self as a part of a local, domestic and global community encourages me to adjust and positively impact my life’s choices.

Of course, these principles are just templates I aspire to eventually master, maybe one day.

Meanwhile, I am practicing.

What are some of your important principles?

The online shopping case

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20140619-165609-60969737.jpgI my name is Daphné and I’m addicted to internet browsing: I can honestly say that I’m wasting countless hours looking for new clothes, shoes, accessories, make up, books, cute animal videos, TED talks, and everything else under the sun. Instead of doing what I ought to do, I often feed my addiction by consulting my daily Ebay’s recommandations… And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels like my time should be used more productively.

I strongly believe women shouldn’t be judge so much on appearances. Yet aren’t we socialized to do so? Is it a way of controlling and keeping us *women* busy, away from our greater purpose? Is it robbing us from our potential, our power? These are recurrent questions that pass through my mind…

When the internet is down or I lay on my bed and wait for Morpheus to knock on the door, wondering why, such an unexplainable excitement flows through my veins as I think of a bodycon midi dress that has just been shipped… or when I open the gate and a package is patiently waiting for me: is this really real?

Sounds familiar? Well, well, well… All I can say is to not be too harsh on ourselves as we seek strategies to pull away, and get back on track to greatness.

Disclaimer: my ideas and opinions are subjected to change as I go through this beautiful thing we call life. You can help me shape my ideas by commenting and sharing your own perspective, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

 

I am a graduate!

photo(3)I am curious. I like to know why things work the way they work, people act and think the way they do. My quest for knowledge is driven by my fascination for understanding.
 
Every new experience is an opportunity to adjust and strengthen my beliefs and grow accordingly.
 
When I decided to switch majors a few years ago and chose to get into the science of health and nutrition (a concept that seemed interesting enough at the time), I had not done much research; yet, my impetuous nature got the best of me, so I run with it; I do not regret it.
 
I am extremely glad I am graduating. If 10 years ago one had told me will come the time I would obtain a 4-year degree, I don’t know if I would have believed them.
 
Over the years I have learned so much, especially in the field of science. It opened my soul to a greater cognitive awareness and allowed me to see the world like never before: one of the most valuable skills I have acquired is the ability to critically think about the information that is presented to me and challenge it, for reliability and accuracy.
 
I have been thinking on what my next move will be. I might want to get a master’s degree, eventually. I also have other projects I would like to work on… I just have to pick one, commit and to bring it to completion.
 
Whatever it is I feel it is going to be epic. Congratulation to me and to all the graduates: Bravo!!!

10 Years.

February 12, 2004,

10 years ago, today, I was landing in JFK Airport.

It took me a little while, but I finally found my friend Hichem. He had come to pick me up by car. Back then, we were allowed to carry up to 72kg of luggage (around 160lbs), so my bags were quite heavy.

We drove through Queens. It had been snowing and it was definitely colder than Paris. I remember Jay Z playing on the radio.

He had arranged accommodation for me in the city, midtown. I rented a room for $400, small but conveniently located. He helped me carry my luggage up the stairs, introduced me to my host, R., and went on his way.

It was still quite early, so R. and I went for a walk all the way through Times Square (we were by the Lincoln center).

It wasn’t my first time in New York. But this time was special. This time was for “longer”.

I came here with no plans. There were things that I wanted to do but was too shy and not ready…

$1000 in my bank account, some clothes, shoes…

I bought some books, a Sony cassette/CD player and a few bootleg CDs on 125th. Alicia Keys, Usher. Can’t believe it’s been 10 years.

It is like looking back to someone else’s life. All I have been through…

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