#WCW – ELEA MAHLA – YES TEACHER!

Elea is a dear friend of mine whom always looks fresh! She always has a way making elegant and significant look effortless. Its a talent very few acquire. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Elea the other night and I asked her some questions about her style.
IMG_4424“My personal style gravitates towards neutrals these days. I guess that’s a relic from my semester in France. French women have fewer clothes than most Americans on average but they buy classic, neutral pieces that they can wear to death. I love pieces that mix and match well and I like to try to go a long time before wearing something the same way twice. I like to have a few solid classics and keep them interesting with varied accessories. 2) My go to for feeling great is a black outfit with one pop of color. Nothing beats a classic all black outfit that really highlights an accessory you are proud of. 3) when I started teaching at 22 my mom warned me to not dress like a college girl, she said I needed to dress how I wanted to be perceived. That advice has been indispensable for me. I had to clean out many of my beloved multi-colored leggings, plastic bangles, and loud homemade skirts to make room for knee-length pencil skirts and cardigans but now I couldn’t be happier. ”

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IMG_4447 IMG_4457 IMG_4429 IMG_4431 IMG_4448 IMG_4458 IMG_4434 IMG_4450 IMG_4460 IMG_4419 IMG_4420 “It was a challenge those first few months to try to make a totally new wardrobe out of my college-girl closet and college-girl budget, so I really honed those mix and match and thrifting skills that first year. All of this while keeping in mind that finding some solid pro-fesh looking basics is great, but I knew I needed to keep some fun accessories around so things wouldn’t get too boring.

I grew up with a mother and lots of aunts firmly established in their own earthy/well-traveled/somewhat hippy-ca. 1975 styles, so for many of my growing up years I thought long, patterned (often homemade) skirts and big chunky jewelry were, and always would be, my thing. My heart is still always drawn to a wide leg jean and billowy tunic, but I have made some adjustments over the years. My dream is to someday be a tunic-wearing, perfectly wavy-haired yoga instructor but I also LOVE where I am right now. I think we all could take a lesson from the French wardrobe and simplify, and get better at making the best of what we already have. We can’t be scared to take our old, well-loved pieces and mix them up into a brand new ensemble. 

xoxo

Elea

Jordan Jesus Tiger - Who knew bringing French anything (besides New Orleans food) was so simple. Well done and said, beautiful.

Adrienne McCrory - Teacher outfits are some of the hardest to figure out – there’s a desire to look fresh and fun while still being classy, modest, and comfortable. Elea does all those things so well

ROLL TIDE AND SAVE YOUR DIGNITY

Ever have one of those nights when you’re out with your girls, just grabbing a drink at Pickle Barrel, letting loose and having a ball? Then that one drink turns to two, which of course turns to three, and then someone pipes up saying we should “toooootally go to Big Chill.”

Suddenly you’re two St.Croix Joy’s deep and the only natural next step for the caravan is a good ol’ fashion night of dancing at Allan Gold’s. So there you are, grinding on the spiral staircase with a pitcher of long island ice tea in your hand and a bra stuffed to the brim with Jello shots that you’re “saving for later” and you have a decision to make. You can either;

A) Call a cab and leave with whatever shred of dignity you can manage to bring with you

B) Pop a straw in that pitcher, a dollar bill between your teeth, and say goodbye.

But you can’t make that decision can you? No, your ability to do that ended somewhere between that last shot of tequila and when you started texting your ex boyfriend pictures of your teeth.

So what’s a girl to do? Limit your alcohol intake? Yeah right. Set a series of reminders on your phone telling you to “just say no”? Bitch please, you lost your phone two hours ago. The truth is ladies, the answer is simple. So simple in fact I’m shocked it’s taken us this long to discover it. Two words ladies, buddy system. Jaime and I learned a long time ago that there are just going to be certain evenings where we are almost completely incapable of being fully functioning adults who know when to (in our completely inexplicable jargon) “roll tide, and save your dignity” (RTSYD).

That’s where the whistle comes in to play. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in most of the SWIA photo shoots I’m wearing the Falling Whistles necklace, but I doubt most of you know the story behind it. It was given to me as a Christmas present two years ago and it comes from an excellent charity for peace in the Congo, which you can read up on at fallingwhistles.com. Somehow or another it turned into me and Jaime’s beacon of safety. If ever I found myself in one of those situations where I knew it was in my best interest to be horizontal in the safety of my own bed as soon as humanly possible, but had not the means or emotional capacity to do so on my own. All I had to do was give a quick little blow on the whistle, hold two fingers in the air, spin them in a circular motion, and say “ROLL TIDE!”.

It also works inversely. If I ever saw Jaime from across the room slowly fading as a guy with a goatee asks her “you been to any music festivals lately?” repeat the process and you can guarantee we will be on the trek home in 15 seconds flat. Since moving to Chicago and taking the necklace with me I realized that I had left Jaime defenseless, and I just couldn’t rest easy until I solved that. So, for Christmas I got her a RTSYD necklace of her own.

Ladies, if you’re ever at a party or a dark corner of a bar trying to find your phone so you can finally confess your undying love for that guy you’ve been avoiding like the plague for the last year. Then  you hear that whistle blow just go ahead and gather your things and meet us at the front door.

Your dignity will thank you later.

XOXO

KD

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Amanda Hitchcock - I LOVE this blog!! It makes me feel so awesome about being ME!!

Allison Kennedy - I’ll be listening for the whistle…just in case you need back up.

Rachael Rennekamp - Love Love Love this…. and i have actually had a night starting at pickle barrel and going to Bill Chill for St. Croix Joy…. lovely!

#WCW – KATHRYN ALLISON & GIVEAWAY

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Kathryn is the creative diva behind Rangemark. Rangemark is an independent screen printing studio here in St. Elmo, at the foot of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. She designs and creates organic hand printed textiles.

“Our mission is to bring beauty to the ordinary by creating uniquely hand designed and printed textiles.” -Rangemark

I have been following Kathryn’s designs on Instagram and I have loved watching her business grow. Few things make me as happy as woman breaking out and doing something they love. Kathryn is an inspiration and her work is to die for. I had the opportunity to chat with her yesterday about her journey. Here is what she said,

“I have been drawing patterns since I was a little girl so I think that my designs and my personal style developed together. There is no doubt that style and design are influenced by things I see around me, but my design style is very intuitive. I rarely decide what kind of subject matter I want to render before I start drawing. Most of the time I just start drawing and before I know it, my design has either turned into something recognizable, or I have made some shape or line that I can repeat into a creation. I think that first and foremost are my designs and that is what creates any personal style I have. Honestly, I always think about how I need to have more personal style.”

>>> GIVEAWAY<<< Details at the bottom!

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Beautiful photos of Kathryn in her studio by the lovely and talented Annie Huntington. 

1267806_360804174049696_930502468_o_MG_1283“I love the design process. That is how Rangemark started. I was sure that I loved drawing patterns and rather than try to get a job with a company as a surface designer, I decided to take matters into my own hands and start printing my patterns on materials myself. What started as a poor college student using whatever means possible to get my designs into print, turned into a business and through that I have actually fallen in love with the hand printing process. There is a richness that comes when a design is silk screened rather than digitally printed and so through my business endeavor, I have become committed to the hand printing process.” – Kathryn

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1403643_380994065364040_1982313610_o_MG_1286“Being a young female entrepreneur is the best kind to be! It took a leap of faith going out on my own and pursuing this dream, but I have already learned a ton and done way more than I ever thought I would. Also, because I am young and female, I have nothing to lose so the sky is the limit!” – Kathryn

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Take a minute to check out Kathryn’s site and enjoy flipping through her eclectic designs.

We are CRUSHING hard.

xoxo

JAiME

 

>>>GIVEAWAY<<<

Kathryn is giving away one of her hand printed dish towels! For your chance to win simple comment on this blog post! The winner will be drawn on Friday 1/17/14.

Goodluck Y’all!

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Summer Nigh - I love all of this.

Bethany Huey - I love that she is driven. It inspires me to step out more. Those towels are cute!

jaimesmialek - hahaha Her studio is just at her house! BUT we could totally ask. Looks like a pretty magical place!

jaimesmialek - Oh thats so cool! What a great idea!

jaimesmialek - Aren’t they adorable. I love the patterns so much. Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Good people making good stuff right here in town! Maybe we could do a #WCW post on your Jessie??? Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - haha! ME TOOO!! Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - So much good stuff to look at! Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - A true joy in life to see someone do something they love for a living. Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Her studio looks so magical! Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - She definitely makes some treasures!

jaimesmialek - Ditto! I think I am going to have buy some of those tea towels. Too cute!

jaimesmialek - She is pretty awesome! I love seeing all of her new creations.

jaimesmialek - Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Isn’t she! I love it! Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Two pretty awesome things!

Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Good work and people always coming out of Covenant! Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Oh my word! You are a genius! I haven’t screen printed since summer camp as a kid! Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Such amazing gifts! Who wouldn’t love one of these beautiful creations. Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - Pretty good stuff here in Chatty.

jaimesmialek - We love them too! Good luck with the giveaway!

jaimesmialek - We have never had SO many comments on a giveaway!

Victoria Griffis - Really beautiful work. I’m excited to see her business grow!

Lacey DeFace - Wow these are awesome!

Sarah Deadwyler - Beautiful one of a kind work. Kathryn you are an amazing young woman.

Kati Stegall - Gorgeous!!

Kathryn Allison - Thank you everyone for the kind comments, they are all so encouraging. Keep following me on Facebook and Instagram and good luck in the drawing!

Hannah Samuels - Love these!

Sara Salyer - I love your creations! Everything is so beautiful!!! Congrats and keep up the great work!

Lily Ryan - So wonderful! This is definitely inspiring :)

Jennifer Dawn - Lovely work!

Annie Oxenfeld - Lovely work! Thanks for sharing.

Andrew Mollenkof - I love seeing people doing the creative things they love. Keep killin it Kathryn.

Lark McMillan Fields - I love Kathryn’s work! I’ve given it several time for gifts and would love to own some myself!

V Love Diener - I just found a new obsession. Let put a class tougher and make a girls night of this. I’m in!

Amy Curnow Lattner - Kathryn…Love this piece! Love the fact you are “doing art” and loving it! This piece would look lovely in my new white kitchen! And I would tell everyone that it “came from the mountain”…I am an alum and a CC mom!

Rachel Kathryn Shepherd - These are so cute!! I miss St Elmo and chatt so much. It would be super rad to get a little piece here in nashville. Aaaaaand she has my middle name as her first! It’s meant

Meghan O'Dea - These are gorgeous!

Silena Cvacho - Kathryn, you are an inspiration! Your work is beautiful!

Kelsey Estrada - Love this!! So cool :)

Amy Samuels Newsome - Kathryn, love your work and love you!! Thanks for the fun last couple of days!!

Daniel Killilea - I met Kathryn when she was in high school, and I’m proud to see how far she’s come since then!

KJ Campbell - Kathryn’s work is beautiful. I would love to have some of her things in my home!

Wendy Strassner Allison - Kathryn your work is delicate and yet so vibrant. I love it.

Anne Musick Pettit - Excited to see your artistic talents unfold into this wonderful aesthetic undertaking! Dana was telling me about your studio and it sounds really awesome! WOuld love to see it sometime!

Pam Bertilrud - Proud of you! How awesome you can take what you love and turn it into a business :) congrats!

Elizabeth Hunter Mathews - Glad to come across your shop – enjoyed this blog and heading to your website now.

Jordan Arnold - I’m in need of a designer hand towel! This is seriously beautiful though.

Katie Anne - Such cute stuff!! Best of luck with the business!

Jessie Bean - So lovely! Nice to see all the talent in Chattanooga. Thanks!

Stacey Turner - I just looked at your website and I wanted to say I love your designs! Will definitely be keeping an eye out for headbands with these on them. :)

Jessica Chen - Kat Allison, you are awesome! I am so proud of you :) Her designs and products are so wonderful that I’m registered at her Etsy shop for my wedding!

Katie Carrico - such BEAUTIFUL prints! Jaime we must go there next time I visit!! those hand towels are to die for!

Emily Silvers Parsons - Love these! :)

Nicole Kennedy - Wow, I love your designs! I hope I win something! And I’m diggin the table :)

Melanie Hall - Beautiful! Love your work!

Robin Kendall - I have given Kathryn’s work as bridal gifts and are received with huge excitement!

Laura Holt Gray - Yay Kathryn!! I love your designs.

Sadat Karim - <- Meredith's coworker. Awesome work!

Meghan Gibson Campbell - Beautiful designs!

Yukiko Howard - Need to get my hands on some headbands for Ayumi!

Christine Doyle - Thank you for continuing to feature such rad girls!

Esther Lloyd Hart - Lovely!! I’ve had my eye on Kathryn’s work ever since I saw it on display at covenant college. Keep up the good work, Kathryn! You’re pieces are beautiful

Laura Harris - How lovely! And bravo to you for taking that leap of faith, what an inspiration!

Liz Somerville - Wow! What wonderful designs! So lovely.

Rachel Hosan Allison - Kathryn you are so pretty and so are your designs!! SO proud of you. This is a great post.

Anna Rae Wilson - Beautiful! Such a talented girl!!!!

Joanna Beatty Taft - Love!

Ann Elizabeth Allison - Kathryn’s designs are great! Can’t wait to see how busy she’ll be soon!

Katie Holden - Ooo I wanna be fancy!

Lindsey Lowe - Oooh I want one!

Jess Hutton - How did I not know about Rangemark? This is fantastic stuff. I love seeing a handmade, American made start up with such creativity. All the best, Kathryn!

Amy Busher Mace - Love these!

Paula Cash - very interesting – I would love to see this when I visit!

Alex Jump - beautiful towel! I love her stuff.

Taylor Galvin - These are beautiful, Kathryn!!!

Kayleigh Reeves - These are the best dish towels! I have several in my kitchen already.

Lydia Drew Allison - I love your designs!!!

Mary Grace Stocker - Love seeing friends do awesome work! I’ll gladly share with people in Denver!

Tiffany Roland Smith - Yay! Kathryn!!!! So exciting!

Ashley Hoffman - Love these <3

WHEN LOWS BECOME HIGHS

I recently found myself in the Nashville airport waiting on my 4th attempt to get back to Chicago after spending the holidays in Chattanooga. You can only eat so many Auntie Annes’ pretzels in a room full of frantically bored human beings before your mind starts to wander places like “Why don’t more people do baby announcements using “Countdown” by Beyonce?” or “Whatever happened to that Michael Kors sweater that I bought three years ago?”. Of course with every new year comes an assessment of the year previous, and what better a setting for this than rounding out your seventh hour stuck at gate C-21? So I took my journal out and started breaking it down.

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Every year since I’ve known Jaime we’ve partook in the prosperous meal on New Years day. It’s a meal of cornbread, cabbage, and black eyed peas. The meal is traditionally eaten on the first day of the new year to bring you luck and prosperity. This year as we sat down with Kirk, Corey, and TK we all went around the table telling our high and low points of the year and our resolutions for 2014. I wasn’t really prepared for this and wound up telling the group that my low point was the day I found out my boyfriend had been unfaithful to me which led to the demise of our relationship. My high point was getting the opportunity to see Beyonce in Nashville with Jaime, and my resolution for 2014 was to write in my journal at least three times a week. As I sat in the airport making good on that resolution I realized that I might actually have it all wrong.

Getting to be in the same room as Beyonce writhing on top of a piano dressed in a full body glitter onesie singing “make love to me” will certainly go down in history as one of the most epic things I’ve ever experienced. But as far as the most important moment or the thing that forced me into a new chapter of life, Bey doesn’t quite fit the bill. No, as much as I hate to admit it and try to tell myself that I am better in spite of rather than as a result of, my high point of 2013 is honestly the day I found out the truth of my relationship with Kyle. Now I’m sure those of you who were present for all the wallowing, Meg Ryan marathons, Evan Williams, and sweatpants that ensued as a result of this realization are more than a little confused. I don’t want this to come across as one of those “the struggle makes you stronger” pep talks you hear in the lobby after your weekly hot yoga session, because honestly it’s through gritted teeth and a tinge of sarcasm that I say I’m thankful for finding out the person I loved the most turned out to be a selfish cheating phony.

No matter how much it sucked, had I not experienced that heartbreak I would still be under the impression that you can control other peoples happiness by sacrificing your own.

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Kyle moved from New York in to my house in St. Elmo at the beginning of last year. It’s only in retrospect that I realize the entire time he was there I was walking on eggshells desperately trying to keep him amused in Chattanooga. If I know one thing about Kyle Brown it’s that the second he gets bored or feels too settled you can go ahead and kiss him goodbye. Along with a few other reasons, I gave up moving to London because I knew he wouldn’t wait for me. It took me over a year to tell him I loved him. Even though I knew the first day I met him, because I knew it would scare him. I resisted cutting my hair because I knew he preferred it long.

Turns out the only thing those two years of masking my feelings and constantly looking to him for validation left me with was a broken heart and an ex-boyfriend who had no idea how much damage he had done. He was reckless with my heart, and looking back I realize that I was too. After two years of feeling like I wasn’t thin enough, my style was too strange, my hair wasn’t long enough, or that I was moving too fast I finally learned that the only person that can allow someone to control your life is YOU. I rarely stood up for what my heart yearned for, because I thought it was better to bite my tongue and take what I could get than run the risk of loosing everything.

Ladies, if you’re dancing around your room in your underwear and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and think to yourself “damn, girl” then why would you stow that confidence away once you’re under the gaze of someone else’s eyes?

If you know for a fact that you’d look like a badass bitch with a pixie cut, then what the hell are you doing with that hair down to your elbows? If your heart gets lit on fire every time a certain someone walks into a room, then why aren’t your arms wrapped around them telling them how you feel? Waiting around feeling uncomfortable and putting everyone else’s opinions before your own will get you nowhere. True, that pixie hair cut might not look as epic as you thought it would and maybe you’ll see a picture of yourself from last night and think to yourself “why did no one tell me that wearing a denim evening gown with matching denim cowgirl hat was a bad idea?”, but I’m sure Britney Spears herself will tell you that sometimes you just have to get it all wrong before you can get it right.

SWIA began because Jaime and I reached a point where we refused to continue apologizing for being awesome. I was finally able to see all the things I had done wrong in my relationship with Kyle and realized how unhappy I was making myself. Once I was able to put the family pack of frosted animal crackers down, peel myself off the chaise  lounge in Jaime’s living room, put on some neon pants, and red lipstick I made a commitment. I committed myself to showing girls that the yearnings of their hearts are valid and important, that fearlessness and honesty are our best friends, and that without a doubt we are going to royally screw it up at some point or another and we’re going to be better women because of it.

I rang in the New Year with some of the best human beings I could ask for, wearing a myriad of furs and sparkles huddled in the streets of St. Elmo singing “Auld Lang Syne” as fireworks exploded around us. 2013 may have ended up completely different than I planned, but if I had the chance to go back I can’t say I would change a single thing. (Except for maybe that time I wrecked my car on the way to a Jeff Mangum concert, that was a REAL bummer).

Cheers to another year of doing shit completely wrong

XOXO,

KD

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Jasmine Kimbrell - i shared this post two years ago and it popped up as one of my memores on facebook and so i re-read it again today and it touched me in ways i cant explain. thank you opening your heart up. it made my day.

Nicole Milton - this is amazing, you are amazing.

Jessica Fryar - nailed it.

Tanya Swann - I started reading your blog after stumbling across you via someone else’s instagram and encountering you at a Nightingale clothing swap. You are a breath of fresh air and truly a roll model for girls who are struggling to figure out how to act in a world where they are challenged to be what they want as long as they look like everyone else. I am raising teenage daughters to be strong, outspoken, weirdos who celebrate those traits in others and I am so glad to see someone living what I am trying to teach. Kudos.

Kaylee York - Love it so much you are truly inspiring.

Amelia Katherine Little - This is great! Thanks for reminding me to live my life fully!

Allison Kennedy - So well written and poignant. Feels like the pages of my own diary…I love the way you make me think about the way we all look at each other, and your heart is so BIG. Thanks for letting us in. I too have tried to deny my status as a “pixie only” girl for dudes…shit ain’t going to work. Pardon me while I dance around my in my underwear and channel your strength and beauty.

Esther Ellis - i want to be like you when I grow up.

Elizabeth Lawrensen - thanks for reminding us it’s ok to be incredibly badass & incredibly human at the same time

Jordan Jesus Tiger - Favorite post on SWIA. Message is true abs the pictures are beautiful. Well done.

Michelle Moore - You did it again. Way to go, SWIA!

Charity Pinter Hendricks - It’s like you stole the pages of my own journal. Thank you for being such a badass. And thank you for letting us in. This is beautiful.

Emily Baskette - I can’t tell you how much I love this. Thank you for being so transparent with your heart.

UNABASHEDLY

Some days I feel like I am sinking. I can a feel a fight coming from deep inside that says, “No! This is ME!” I have put so much time and energy into finding and learning to love myself. Allowing myself the time to find me. Giving myself room to experiment. Knowing that all along the way it is simply O.K because once something gloriously tragic happens to you, you find yourself with the opportunity to be unabashedly yourself.

“It takes courage to grow up to become who you really are” – E.E. Cummings

So here I am in my little corner of the internet. Refusing to apologize. Refusing to calculate your reaction or attempt to make your feel comfortable. I have spent too much of my life buffering situations. Buffering people and lovers and interactions. I am finally to a point where I reserve my talent to ‘buffer’. No longer do I feel the need to fix. Rather I am learning the value in just letting it be. Even when that comes with some uneasiness or uncomfortable air.

I have learned that you have to teach people how to treat you and that you can help shape their expectations. I want everyone to know that though their opinions are valuable (to someone, somewhere) they have little to do with how I look. I want everyone to know that I will continue to show them love and acceptance. SWIA is not a place of judgement or a place you will be told what to do. We are here to aide you in your journey of the great experiment. The experiment of finding yourself deep inside that pile of dirty laundry. (Cue Don Henley)

WE DO NOT PUT PLASTIC ON THE COUCH> WE LIGHT THE COUCH ON FIRE.

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You may or may not have collected the weddings are a pretty loaded topic for me. Coming out of an abusive marriage and being a full time wedding photographer weddings bring up all sorts of emotions. For the first time in a while I had the pleasure of going to my friends Julie and Michael’s wedding on National Hangover Day. It was so wonderful to actually enjoy the ceremony, to participate as a witness rather than as the photographer.Since I wasn’t shooting I wasn’t stuck in my supportive, quiet flats or stiff dress pants. Rather I celebrated from the inside out with a new dress and epic necklace.

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My sweet roommate and dear friend Corey joined us for our little pre-reception photo shoot!

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Fight the good fight. Allow yourself the time and space and grace to become unabashedly you.

The way I see it there is no time for the alternative.

xoxo

JAiME

Kim Ellis - So wonderful!

Emily Elizabeth Unkle - So lovely Jaimie!

Allison Kennedy - I adore you!