This past Saturday, I went to *Love yourself* Love Your Style* Personal Empowerment through Style, a workshop led by
Both Joui and Jamila have many years of experience in the fashion industry, from designing to styling, to starting their own businesses in combination with therapeutic components and now they are sharing their
professional fashion expertise in Oakland.
It was a three and a half hour workshop in which they took us through the BadAss “pillars of style,” exploring the people in our lives who inspire us, the qualities they possess that we want to embody, the sticking points that various aspects of style bring up for us and what they tell us about ourselves, as well as ways that we can challenge these roadblocks and continue to feel empowered through the choices we make about the image we bring to the world everyday.
When I walked in the door at
Runway Style House Boutique
I was greeted by Joui. I knew she looked rad already, but in person she was also very warm, friendly and had a happy and playful demeanor that made me feel welcome and a bit devious at the same time. I was already glad I was there.
The two women started the workshop off with a bit of personal history, which I appreciated. The more evidence I collect of women loving what they do, the more it gives me permission to keep pursuing what I love, not what will bring in the cash most instantly; I also gain confidence in the possibility of making money at what I love, if I work at it like a badass and commit to it like there is no living without it- because actually, in the case of making a living at what you love, there isn’t. These women are showing us how it’s done and growing a community that stacks up against the conventional, the societal, the familial, the safe, American Dreamesque building of a rectangular life, when many of us just plain don’t like the shape of a fucking rectangle.
Jamilla told us how she was already over six feet by the end of seventh grade when the average woman in America is 5′ 4.” She described the hardship of being a tall child, her family that fostered a playfulness around dressing up, costume-making and thrift store shopping and how she came to create an identity for herself through style. Joui told a parallel story about seeing style as play and image as costume. She mentioned her grandmother and mother playing dress-up with her and the wild outfits they would come up with, as well as how her image was something she could control and derive pleasure from during harder times. Both of these women found and embodied her self more fully through begin able to purposefully design her own style.
I had been into style as a small child. By second grade, I was into matching and presenting myself as put together. However, as the oldest of six kids, something was always being wiped or spilled on me. Additionally, I got the message early on that fashion was frivolous, air-headed and expensive. As a child I fought this notion because children want what they want. Though as I grew older, I started to believe it. (Somewhere in there I went through a slutty punk phase but who doesn’t?)
Now I am aware of a persistent and looping soundtrack of ideas around what style should be and what it means to care about style that I want to look at more closely. It is interesting to me that by just thinking about our relationship to clothing, so much comes up about our relationships to our bodies, to other people, to our families and our histories. Thinking about style as a conscious and intentional thing has made me look at what I am holding back on, what parts of myself I am still disconnected from and how much I am allowing how I look to be determined by something outside of me. The notion of examining these intricacies, exploring style as a vehicle for self-expression and as a way of embodying my own ideas of success and beauty, is indeed empowering.
Jamila and Joui are a kick-ass team and I highly recommend taking any of Bad Ass Beauty School’s workshops, stopping into Runway Style House Boutique and booking either of these amazing ladies for one-on-one consulting.