Why Activism & Creating Affirming Spaces for Women Moves Me

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Black Womyn Rising (May 2016)

Ever since elementary school, I have stood up against any perceived injustice. Not on a picket line, more subtly I suppose, as my early protesting involved befriending kids others made fun of or ignored.

On the weekends, Dad told my brother and I stories about his life, the years he spent in Hounduras before coming to the U.S. We learned about his childhood, both the simple beauty and abject poverty. Those expressive eyes held a tinge of sadness as he told us about wearing shoes only on Sundays, as they walked to church; they traveled to school barefoot.

I sat there, all of 6 or 7, fully absorbed, unable to push the sentences about hardship back, tears and anger welled within me. Of course he said, “don’t cry,” “I’m fine now, Meldy” (his nickname for me), and yet, as he hugged me tenderly, smelling of cologne and peppermint, I couldn’t shake the heaviness of it all.

Why did I have shoes and clothes and other children didn’t? It felt absurd, cruel and unfair, and I wanted to change something, however small. I always felt a deep desire to transform the world in my own way, bringing light and beauty.

All these years later, I finally feel I am walking into my purpose as an activist, organizer, and cultivator of affirming spaces for women. Sometimes God must remove the noise, distractions and barriers which are hindering us from growth.

Rocking a shirt given to me by my good friend Kayla (includes names of Black womyn and girls murdered or assaulted by police)

And I suppose this is how I have come to work with Black Womyn Rising, an intergenerational organizing collective  I helped found with several other sistas based in Baltimore. Our work is intersectional (meaning we seek to understand how various forms of oppression operate and  impact black womyn and girls), and rooted in transformative love and global sistahood.

We are deeply concerned with resisting all forms of oppression and actively creating affirming spaces for womyn of color.  In the spirit of Nina Simone and so many other foremamas, we uplift the beauty, complexity and the rich layers of blackness.

While social justice and activism are a deep part of my soul, so, too, is creativity. Writing, photographing, sketching, these outlets are oxygen for me. Last year I founded Women Creatives Chat, a community that lives online for now (working on planning some events) whose mission is to inspire, empower (through tips, resources and regular Instachats), and connect my fellow creatives with one another.

Since launching on Instagram late last year, it’s growing daily. And I feel blessed to follow and connect with women from all around the world who are creating and trusting their unique visions. You and I truly can have the life we seek and dream about it. It begins with clarity, which I believe is rooted in prayer, a personal relationship with God and radical self love.

Graphic designed by Emelda De Coteau Founder, Women Creatives Chat

 

Anyway, enough about me! What sets your heart on fire? What do you feel called to give to the world?  I want to hear all about it in the comments below, sweet friends.

Eco-Friendly, Vegan & Small Shop Style Finds: From Queens Knits to Global Jewelry 

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Christine Gibson, founder of Queens Knits.   All images courtesy of Christine Gibson.

 

Featured Small Shop ▶️ Queens Knits 

Creating and running a business while raising kids is challenging, but certainly possible. And I admire my fellow creative Mamas, who juggle so much and remain committed.

I met Christine Gibson, founder of Queens Knits, on Instagram and was immediately drawn to not only the beauty of her handmade knitted pieces cowls in vibrant colors, coffee cozies (check out the adorable Mom one I linked to), scarvesturban style earwarmers, and hats – but her warmth and down-to-earth personality.

Like many mompreneurs, Christine began her business for a simple and quite practical reason:  “I was seeing adorable kids accessories on blogs and online that I couldn’t afford so I made them myself !” Her business continues to grow, and now you can outfit your whole family in Queens Knits from hats to cowls and stylish hair accessories.

Alongside merchandise, you will find photos of her fresh-faced kiddos and happy customers rounding out this creator’s  IG feed, and immediately it feels like you’re in Queens, baby!

The lovely hair clips below are made of felt and ribbon, and attached to a metal clip. The cost for these is $3 each, or two for $5.
Keep up with all Queens Knits is doing on IG and Twitter, and of course visit her shop.

Ten Thousand Villages

I discovered Ten Thousand Villages in my early 20s in Baltimore’s historic Fells Point, and was later thrilled to learn their stores are all over the country.

You can find everything from products for your skin to jewelry, home decor, clothing, home decor and skincare. The artisans, who come from all over the  world (Nepal, India, Kenya, etc.), are paid fairly and customers can learn about who created what they wear on product tags. There is also  an opportunity to go in depth by visiting their blog .

The pieces below are my new favorites:

 

Photo Credit: Ten Thousand Villages

Find these heart inspired earrings here (handmade in Kenya).

 

Photo Credit: Ten Thousand Villages
Photo Credit: Ten Thousand Villages

Find this stunning jewelry set here (handmade in Guatemala).

Photo Credit: Ten Thousand Villages

Step out in style with this ornate evening bag. Find it here (handmade in India).

Have an amazing weekend, lovelies!

p.s.

Don’t be shy! Tell me what stylish clothing or jewelry (eco-friendly, vegan, or small shops) you’re wearing these days. Know of a small shop or product  I should feature? Feel free to leave the info.

Eco-Friendly / Vegan Beauty & Style Finds: From Tutus & Cosmetics to Soap

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Graphic by Emelda De Coteau, Live In Color Blog
Graphic by Emelda De Coteau, Live In Color Blog

This is the beginning of a new blog series – Beauty / Style Finds  – where I’ll highlight awesome brands (every other Friday) which are eco-friendly / vegan, along with small shops created by Mompreneurs. I am meeting so many wonderful Mama entrepreneurs on Instagram, and sharing their lovely products fills my heart with delight. What better way to spend a Friday, right?

Featured Shop – Ruffles Ribbons N’ Bows Boutique

Michelle Dowell Photo courtesy of Michelle Dowell
Michelle Dowell
Photo courtesy of Michelle Dowell

Our first featured shop is Ruffles Ribbons N’ Bows Boutique, run by Michelle Stephanie Dowell. Founded in 2011, this is a cruelty-free boutique – no lead, animal parts of any kind (leather, fur, etc.)  If you follow my blog here, or on Instagram, you know she’s my bestie / sis.

This multi-talented lady creates lovely handmade tutus and hair accessories for toddlers, tweens, fellow Mamas and everyone in between! The many mom-affordable items also include dresses, tutus, rompers, hairbows, headbands, room decor and more. Sizes range from newborns to women’s plus size!

Her shop just re-opened, and there is currently a spring / Easter giveaway (ends Wed., March 10), and sale so head on over to her blog for details.

Follow Ruffles Ribbons N’ Bows Boutique on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest for the most up-to-date news on all the latest creations!

Flyer courtesy of Ruffles Ribbons N' Bows Boutique
Flyer courtesy of Ruffles Ribbons N’ Bows Boutique

 

Photo courtesy of Ruffles Ribbons N’ Bows Boutique
Photo courtesy of Ruffles Ribbons N’ Bows Boutique

 

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics – Shea Moisture

Photo via Hype Hair
Photo via Hype Hair

 

A few years ago I discovered Shea Moisture when looking for organic baby and hair products. Last fall while shopping in Target I found their cosmetics, and have been a huge fan ever since. From an array of foundations for women of color to lipsticks / gloss, concealer, blush, eyeshadow and more they have us covered, ladies. This family-owned company is built on their Grandmother Sofi’s legacy of hard work and dedication to her community in West Africa.

Dr. Bronner’s     

Photo via VitaSun Blog
Photo via VitaSun Blog

 

Dr. Bronner’s became a staple in my home while searching for an organic product to mop our floors. Our beagle girl Foxy would sometimes pee in the hallway, and we needed something strong but not off putting to eliminate the scent.

Fast forward to today and we use a variety of Dr. Bronner’s soaps for a number of purposes – washing dishes, bathing (the lavender scented soap helps our little Nai sleep) and cleaning numerous household surfaces.

They also sell other cleaning  supplies, too, plus body care, tooth paste, lotions, and baby / sensitive skin products. It’s affordable, and best of all, a little goes a long way!