01. MATINE is a DC-based line of leather goods run by the endlessly talented Carolyn Misterek. Carolyn's commitment to empowering her community includes a series of "Conversations" in which she invites local makers to discuss topics pertaining to the creative industry.
In that spirit, I created a new series for her Journal in which local fashion influencers are invited to style her bags in a way that reflects their own personal brands and the changing seasons.
02. RIGHTEOUS CHEESE is the passion project of Carolyn Stromberg, inspired by her years of experience as a cheese consultant for a bevy of DC-based restaurants. A focus on American-made fromage ensures that locally-produced goods are always in stock on their counter.
As the service director at Righteous Cheese (and now as a freelancer with the company), I created and fulfilled weekly social media plans: taking drool-worthy #CheesePorn pics for Instagram, photographing products for the online shop, and writing copy to promote events and merchandise, as well as highlight shop news.
01. Morgan Hungerford-West started A CREATIVE DC in 2015 as a social media hashtag to highlight DC's creative movers and shakers. It has since blossomed into a full-fledged online and IRL movement that acknowledges, promotes, collaborates with, and supports the artist/maker community in and around the city. Morgan's indomitable passion for showcasing DC as an creative capital has made her not only a great friend to the community and those in it, but also a major force in local politics as a champion of the arts scene.
As a volunteer for A Creative DC, my main projects have involved assisting in designing and setting up for events, including the A Creative DC + Made in DC launch party (photo above), workshops at A Creative DC: Brookland, and the A Creative DC + DC Public Library Foundation's Creative Co-Working Days.
02. SALT & SUNDRY is a beautifully curated modern-day general store conceived of and owned by former food writer Amanda McClements in Washington, DC. The store's two locations highlight small batch, artisanal producers of food, beverage, and home goods products, and Amanda is particularly interested in working with and featuring local brands.
Their annual SUMMER SALT FEST was an idea I pitched during my first year there as a way to celebrate the things we love most: local food and drinks, beautiful design, and the people we cherish. I organized catering for the events, ordered supplies, helped plan setup and executed that plan the day of for two years.
03. WOMEN + DENIM was a fundraiser I created and hosted this year through my company, A Free Hand Co. I invited five local makers/retailers -- Mallory Shelter Jewelry, Be Clean, Kaleidos, Elizabeth Graeber and Painted Palettes -- to set up for a shopping party at A Creative DC: Brookland that raised funds for local women’s shelter N Street Village. I organized the event from start to finish, picking the theme, ordering supplies, marketing through local media, setting up and breaking down the day of.
There’s an undeniable change in the air in Washington, DC, a city known for its wonks and notorious for its nondescript steakhouses and political scheming à la House of Cards. For those of us who don’t spend time downtown or on the Hill, the city has become a blossoming artistic hub — a capital that welcomes and fosters creative growth and exploration, whether it takes the form of food, drink, visual art, the written word, or even DIY spaces where experimental collaboration can take place.
Nowhere is this spirit of artistic community more present than in the home of Morgan Hungerford West and Mitchell West, two artists who have done admirable amounts of work to pave the way for other DC creatives to do their thing. Morgan, a content creator and consultant for several local brands and blogger behind Panda Head, is the founder and director of A Creative DC, an Instagram hashtag turned real life event and workshop. By day, Mitchell analyzes political media campaigns for Kantar Media/CMAG; by night, he fulfills all of your (and my) secret rock star dreams as the bassist for DC-based punk bank Loud Boyz.
Their home is an eclectic, unique and fun mélange of art, memories, and conversation-starters — from a blown-up and framed A Creative DC Instagram snap (a token from a street art project), to their enviable record and guitar collection. At 780 square feet and boasting two stories, their apartment is spacious by DC standards, with plenty of nooks and crannies for a DIY-loving, creative type to work their magic. However, though the couple has lived in the apartment for 11 years now, it wasn’t until recently — when Morgan moved her freelance equipment into a studio space in DC’s Brookland neighborhood –that they were truly able to start styling it. They’ve since dedicated time to turning the space into their dream apartment, including a full kitchen remodel they recently completed to make room for Mitchell’s home brewing projects.
The couple’s apartment is truly a snapshot of their incredible relationship with each other, with their friends, with their families, and with this amazing city. I’ll let Morgan take it from here. Enjoy scrolling through! —Nicole
02. SABOTAGE REVIEWS
Salena Godden is a powerhouse.
Reading into her irrepressible energy, it’s no wonder that the British vixen of the underground performance poetry scene has a new collection spanning two decades of writing. Her work draws you in from the get-go, and finishing her book is like waking up from a days-long binge that leaves you raw and scrubbed clean, skin tingling from the connections forged by her words.
Fishing in the Aftermath, Poems 1994-2014 is a non-linear labyrinth exposing the vulnerability of a girl-turned-poet at the turn of the century, both in modern-day England and in post-9/11 New York City. It’s a melodic and unguarded coming-of-age story filled with moments of anger, sadness, friendship, loneliness, and red-hot passion. To say that Godden’s work is a reflection of a youth well spent in search of a higher meaning as an artist is an understatement — Her commitment to her work is refreshing in its honesty, and her decision to divulge the difficulties of the writers’ life rather than gild it in beautiful words as some do is immensely satisfying.
“Real poetry is dead poetry,” she proclaims in the anthemic “Tick No Box,” followed by the seemingly oxymoronic “carry on reading, carry on writing, as you were and as you are.” The need for recognition, understanding, and creating a sense of community among writers is the chief concern among many of her poems, and Godden’s melancholy optimism about writing as an art is ever-present throughout the years. “Words are marrow,” she tells an anonymous writer in “A Letter to a Young Poet,” which she closes with the words “Keep the ink wet and keep it burning.”
Godden — known on the stage as “Salena Saliva” — treads darker themes in many of her works, most notably the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, when Godden found herself trapped in the chaos of the city. Drinking and casual sex become her mechanism for coping in many of the darker times of her life, and it’s that combination that seems to both hide and embellish her sadness, putting on a show for her readers that sticks in the blood as much as the alcohol does. “The Last Big Drinky,” in which Godden writes about herself in a week-long drinking binge from an outsider’s perspective, is an incredibly introspective piece about her loneliness, her addiction, her fight to elevate art as a profession, and her fear of allowing others to get too close.
“We share the fear,” writes Godden from the viewpoint of a friend taking care of her as she works the alcohol out of her system, “And holding my hand she is begging to be held convinced she will stop breathing. She says vodka and cock will kill her in the end and she feels as though she is rotting.”
Love is another main theme of Godden’s work, finding its way into most of her writing as an elusive force she can’t seem to master. “I Don’t Do Love” is at the centre of that struggle, and Godden’s fear of the feeling is only matched by her desire to throw herself into it headfirst:
I don’t do love, I said, and when I looked up and saw just who I had said it to love did me hard and tirelessly, until, there was no until, there was just love.
The range of Godden’s themes is impressive, covering issues like abortion, mortality, poverty, death, anxiety, and addiction in the same breath. She easily transitions from vulgar, lustful creature to loving, devoted friend and dozens of places in between. Take, for instance, the juxtaposition of her popular piece “Imagine if You had to Lick it!” in which she urges the reader to “IMAGINE IF YOU HAD TO LICK IT/that runny old dog shit,” with the sweet and heartbreaking sadness of “Milk Thistle and Juniper”:
Then we took the child with hair like the milkman
before she would show and so no one would know,
before waters broke streaming and screaming the dawn
with coat-hanger tangled and the salt to the slugs
that slid past the undergrowth, never to tell.
Then we took the child with hair like the milkman
out. Wrapped in the blanket and wet with soft bones dead.
Buried with feathers of crows, a poppy like red flows,
bloodied the muddied moss of the pebbled brook stream.
Though it’s clear that some of her work is meant to be passionately performed onstage and not hidden away in a written collection, the pure, unfettered honesty of her writing is its salvation. “Fishing in the Aftermath” is a book definitely worth a second and third read. It is, as she states in “A Tribute to Cheryl B.,” “a heart that spilled and splashed/and silenced a room.”