The Funemployed: Dr. Ashley Elliott

DCF: Who Are You?
Dr. Ashley Elliott. I’m the owner of Vivid Innovations Consulting, LLC. I am a mental health clinician, author, and motivational speaker. (DCF: Drop that wisdom on us!)

DCF: Why do you love what you do? What makes you funemployment?
AE: I love being able to make an impact in someone’s life. People trust me with their personal histories. They come to me and reveal their ups, their downs, their struggles, their vulnerabilities, their fears, and their dreams. I’m always honored to be allowed into such a personal space with clients. To be so raw and uncut with your emotions and thoughts, and then allow me to help you acquire the tools you need to live the life you desire, that’s huge. (DCF: Vulnerability is such a beautiful and fragile thing, I love how you describe it.)

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Today in Black Fashion History: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818-1907)

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born into slavery in 1818 in Virginia. As a talented dressmaker, Keckley gained a powerful network of supporters and was eventually able to buy her freedom from her St. Louis owners for $1200 (more than $30K today!!) in 1852. In 1860 she packed up her family and moved to Washington DC, where she was able to establish her own dressmaking business. This is where she first met Mary Todd Lincoln, the future FLOTUS. After President Lincoln was elected in 1861, the FLOTUS hired Keckley to be her personal stylist and dressmaker and the two women became close confidants. While very little consensus exists on which designs can be attributed to Keckley, The Smithsonian and several other collections across the country have a pretty good idea of which dresses are hers due to her simplistically streamlined design style, which was not very common in the Victorian era. Check out this article by The Smithsonian for more information, and stay tuned for my next post about the iconic black designer, Ann Lowe!

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-Alexandra
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Celebrating Black History through Fashion

Happy Black History Month! *Note from Morgan – Alex is a friend of DCFunemployment who is going to take on us a journey this black history month through fashion!! She will be popping in a few times this month to share with us.  Enjoy!!*

While I am always proud of my heritage, I believe this month is especially important for shining some light on black excellence and achievement that otherwise may not receive the recognition it deserves.

To celebrate, I’ve decided to share some of my knowledge throughout the month on black fashion history and influential black designers! If you saw my last post then you know this is something I am extremely passionate about, and I hope to provide some inspiration for other young designers of color so that they know that they do, in fact, have a place in this industry. Let’s get to learnin’!

First, let’s talk about some history. Have you ever heard of the term “Sunday Best”?

While the history of African Americans in this country began through slavery (starting in 1619 when the first African slaves were forcefully brought to the Virginia colony), fashion was still very important.

During the week, slaves wore old simple “work clothes,” often hand-me-downs or clothing that they made from the fabric scraps of slave owners. But on Sundays, they were generally permitted to attend church with other slaves. The role of religion and church and their influence on black fashion began during slavery, but this tradition has continued even into today!

The term “Sunday Best” came from these times. With protestantism spreading in the new colonies, the concept of “saving negroes from their heathen religions” became popular. This was also incredibly controversial at the time, as some believed that once slaves converted to Christianity, they had to be given their freedom. Eventually, slave owners found a way to have legislation passed that negated that idea, allowing them to keep their slaves even after they converted.

In order for slave owners to be considered “good Christians,” their slaves had to have at least one good outfit for church on Sundays. Slave women who were able to sew would often use scrap materials to fashion their own pieces for themselves and their families for church. This became an opportunity for black women to differentiate themselves using clothing during church, which was the only time they were permitted to be social. This tradition of “Sunday Best” can still be seen today through beautifully-made formal outfits for women, often accompanied by ornate hats in church.

While this is most common in black Baptist churches in the south, black women from all over the country put on their “Sunday Best” every week, showcasing their gorgeous styles with the pew aisles as runways. Some of my fondest memories growing up are of my late grandmother bringing my sister and I to church with her, and pretending to pay attention when I was really just mesmerized by the beauty around me. How could you not be?!

*Note from Morgan, I grew up with this fabulous hat lady!!

Thanks for reading along and learning with me! I can’t wait to share my next article for Black History Month where I’ll be writing about Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818-1907), a slave-turned-designer who bought her own freedom and became the personal dressmaker and stylist for Mary Todd Lincoln. Stay tuned, and stay woke!

-Alexandra

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The Funemployed: Jihan Thompson of Swivel Beauty

DCFunemployment: So… Who Are You?

Jihan Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Swivel Beauty, a new app that makes it easy for black women to find the right hairstylists for their hair type (natural, relaxed, braids, locs, etc). Prior to starting the company (with my best friend Jenny Lambert), I was a magazine editor for nearly 10 years, working at publications including Glamour, Marie Claire, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

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The Funemployed: Leslie Wong and Alexis Jenkins of Burgundy Fox

DCF: So… Who Are You?

Leslie Wong and Alexis Jenkins are the co-founders of Burgundy Fox, an e-commerce brand on a mission to empower and celebrate all women. (DCF: Yasss to more of this in 2018!). After experiencing how uncomfortable and antiquated it was to shop for intimate apparel, they started Burgundy Fox to create an inclusive approach to beauty and a seamless shopping experience. They have a collective 15 years of background in marketing and customer experience for consumer facing brands and creative facing businesses including Rising Tide | HoneyBook. They are the hosts of a weekly iTunes podcast, Seamless, that shares the stories of women who inspire mind and body confidence in us all. Leslie lives in Chicago, loves listening to business podcasts and can finally handstand (on a good day). Alexis lives in NYC, is an avid follower of fashion and was a competitive tap dancer (as a child). Connect with them through @burgundyfoxco, @lesliewong15 or @officially_alexisjenkins.

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The Funemployed: Cara Peterson

DCF: Who Are You?
Cara Peterson, Badass Creative/The Effortless Perfection Myth, I am an artist and aspiring author. My art is mainly linoleum printmaking and collage, and my book is about the gender issues millennial women face while in college.

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The Funemployed: Riley Sheehey

DCF: Who Are You?
Riley Sheehey, Make Things Co. (more than likely soon to be Riley Sheehey Illustration) (DCF: Both are great name!) Freelance watercolor artist/illustrator.

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The Funemployed: Michelle Breyer

DCF: Who Are You?
Michelle Breyer, co-founder of NaturallyCurly.com. Named one of the 50 Most Influential People in the Multicultural Market by Women’s Wear Daily in 2015, Michelle Breyer is a visionary entrepreneur who, in 1998, took a personal frustration over out-of-control curls and built it into the largest social media platform for hair. Today, TextureMedia – the parent company of NaturallyCurly – reaches 16 million people per month and influences more than $1 billion annually in hair product spend. What started as a hobby now includes two consumer digital sites, an ecommerce platform and a consumer Insights division. Michelle has consulted with such iconic brands and companies as Unilever, L’Oreal, and Paul Mitchell to help shape their textured-hair business plans, and also worked with dozens of entrepreneurs to launch their brands for the textured-hair market. She now is executive vice president of strategic partnerships. (DCF: Way to turn a “problem” into a passion!)

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The Funemployed: Rachel Rosenthal

DCF: Who Are You?
Rachel Rosenthal, Founder/Owner of Rachel and Company. I’m a Bethesda-native, wife, and mom to identical twin girls. My business – Rachel and Company – is a professional organizing firm in the DC-metro area specializing in home organization, closet design, and home moves. Since launching Rachel and Company nearly 10 years ago, we’ve helped over 1,700 families get organized! I’m also creator of The Playbook, an organizing how-to guide for every area of your home.

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The Funemployed: Kate Matsudaira

DCF: Who Are You?

Kate Matsudaira, creator at Ink+Volt. Kate Matsudaira (@katemats) has spent her entire career leading brilliant teams, and is currently the founder of the company Ink+Volt. Previously, Kate was the founder and CEO of Popforms (acquired by Safari Books Online in 2015). She has also worked as the VP Engineering/CTO at Decide (acquired by Ebay), Moz, and Delve Networks (acquired by Limelight), and as a software engineer, tech lead, and manager at Amazon and Microsoft. (DCF: Impressive, I like it!!) Kate is a keynote speaker at conferences around the world, and teaches a highly sought after workshop for teams on the elements of successful leadership. She also maintains a popular blog on management, productivity, and creating an amazing career at katemats.com.

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