On dressing mannequins

Ann Taylor occupies two floors in Boston’s Faneuil Hall historic shopping plaza. On the second floor, there are narrow shafts for window displays that are only wide enough for my 23 year-old petite body to stand very still. Problems ensue when I am tasked with dressing one of the mannequins (size 2, all of them, because when have you seen a mannequin holding a hamburger?). My managers at Ann Taylor never say, “Oh, Kendra, can you go simply drape this fetching scarf around the neck of a mannequin upstairs?” They never ask, “Could you be a dear and quick like a bunny change out the broche on that one’s blouse up there?” They are prepared to exploit me for their big window dressing asks, like a child with tiny fingers taken out of school to sew sequins onto gowns. Only I am being paid a fair wage. And am not denied an education. (Forget the child labor comparison. I was being hyperbolic.) My managers see that I am scheduled to work and order the full rack of tweed blazers steamed and for the mannequin in the upstairs windows to don the new angora turtleneck and wool pants with no zippers.

Photo by  Fancycrave  on  Unsplash

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

I am a visual assistant at Ann Taylor in the hours before the shop opens. Except I am not assisting anyone, per se, besides the mannequins out of their naked Barbie doll ignominy and into the season’s latest couture. This early shift is an absolute idyll for an introvert. It’s so peaceful up in the window shaft. I get to watch the cobblestone paths of this Boston tourist destination come alive. From the second floor window, I see a queue of New Bostonians preparing for their citizenship swearing in outside of Quincy Market. I observe flocks of pigeons pecking at last night’s stale popcorn. I wrestle the mannequins and watch the sun come up. The best and worst part is: not a soul bothers me.

So when I get stuck in the window, no one can hear me banging. The door to the window shaft has suddenly swung shut and I cannot seem to bump it open. I knock on the window, but no one looks up from below on the cobblestone because it is mainly just pigeons and a hungover security detail. Actually, no. That guy doesn’t work security. He’s a leftover from Cheers last night. No one inside the store can hear me yelling, because it is just the manager and I and she is a volunteer gospel choir director, so she is most likely opening up the cash wrap downstairs and practicing, “I Surrender All” while I am upstairs singing, “Here I Am, Lord!!” and hoping that a merciful god/manager lets me out of here soon. I begin to think about how little air there really is in this window shaft and how sad that I may spend my last Christmas on earth with the Madame Tussaud’s rendering of my junior high nemesis and just as I begin to feel tears pooling, Nestor, the custodian, just happens to be swapping out a broom upstairs and hears my plight. Nestor does not speak much English and my Spanish is mostly garbage, but!! That day, Eso dia! He heard my cry for help and answered the call perfectly. I won’t be spending Christmas as a mannequin in rigor mortis after all. Praises be!

Women-owned businesses to support this season

Fall 2018 is a sweet season for women. Michelle Obama’s book is dropping (::hopes there is a whole chapter on how to get dem arms::). “This is Us” is coming back so we can get our ugly cry on. And in the vein of being Truly Basic, the return of the #PSL does surely stir a soul anew. You can have your pigskin and your fantasy football league, but this gal is winning the decorative + edible gourd season, players.

In this, the season of women and harvest, I raise a grande PSL to these women-owned businesses:

Stella + Dot - Chances are you’ve been invited to a Stella + Dot party and left with some beads or baubles that you totally meant to give to your child’s teacher for Teacher Appreciation Day but the more time you stared at the Deco Drop Earrings, you realized maybe she wouldn’t want to wear something that was likely to catch on a notebook or would prove an occupational hazard and because you’re not a monster, you did the right and noble thing. You kept them and you wore them and you j’adored them. But did you know that Stella + Dot is women-owned? And that the company is named after the foundresses’ grandmothers? Cheers to founders Jessica Herrin + Blythe Harris. Y’all fab.

For Mini-Me

I took my mini-me to a Stella + Dot party recently and although you see in Exhibit A, there was a piece I was fancying, but strangely enough, Mini-Me ended up getting a shipment with a camo zip pullover from Stella + Dot. Weird.


HEart by CC - I am so enamored of Candice’s work that I’m basically outfitting my whole house in her aesthetic. And my laptop. And my daughter’s guitar stand. And basically anything standing still. My friend Pam told me that I should follow her on Instagram because she’s such a witty creative, and now I just basically am a bona fide fangirl waiting for her to ask me to for a road trip in her VW bus. A girl can dream.

ABLE - Founder Barrett Ward, while living in Ethiopia, realized an opportunity for women to support other women in their artisanry. ABLE now sells bags, shoes, jewelry, and apparel that are designed and crafted by women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru and even in Nashville, TN. And I covet their stuff, girl. Like the tortoise shell earrings? They’re a problem.

Pharaoh Earrings
The Jacket - Mina WashTwo-Tone Contempo Necklace

And you? What are some of your favorite women-run businesses/companies to support? I’d love to learn more about them!

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8 things am j'adoring

Labor Day weekend presents a variety of opportunities to mow lawns and transition seasonal wardrobes.  Whatever your self-care/soul-care practice, here are a few and sundry things I am enjoying. A couple contain affiliate links, but most are just gratuitous for fun and sharesies. 

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1. The Nike Training Club app.

It's free and very functional. It's exactly what I want in an exercise app. I'm doing some kind of 4-week ramp-up regimen right now that makes me sweat a lot while doing a reasonable number of burpees (which may be an oxymoron because when is rising into a jumping jack from plank position ever reasonable (?) But it's very encouraging (the narrator says, "Come on! You've got this!" as if she can read my soul's true feelings about burpees). Most importantly, I don't have to think or tally my reps. I just do what the Nike boss tells me to do. 


2. NATIVE Deodorant

Speaking of sweaty betty, this stuff works. The coconut is my favorite, especially since it conjures the smell of being on a tropical beach with an umbrella in your drink when you're just standing still waiting at the bus stop not doing anything besides sweating. 

3. LUSH hot oil treatment

I don't think anyone can say "scalp" without starting to itch their own or triggering someone to do the same, so let's not dwell on this too long. Just getchoo some. I was skeptical of a $11 wax lollipop and its powers to treat my hair and scalp but, trust. It works wonders. I've tried the new cinnamon and the hair doctor and I think I like the spicy cinnamon best.

4. Staring at puppies online

Did you know that the application to adopt a puppy is akin to applying to board a major aircraft into outer space? It's really intense. So instead I mostly just stare at puppies online and gather name ideas for someday. 

5. These cute melamine bowls from Anthro
I bought one for my MIL for her birthday because MIL goes to lots of potlucks and it's always nice to bring a pretty pretty with a lid. When I visited MIL, though, she had placed the pretty pretty on her coffee table because she said it was too pretty to stain with kimchi. So there you go. Also, they're on sale! Magnifique. 

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6. The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

I'm on the launch team for Shannan's book because her words are poetry and her heart is golden. And dagnabit if her book cover's not the most darling of book covers for judging. You should probably preorder her book if you feel the tug that maybe you should know your neighbor's name or you need to lay fresh eyes on the ordinariness of the extraordinary little community in which you've been planted. 


7. Bluprint courses
If you've ever watched a Craftsy video, this is the souped-up version. I'm learning how to embroider and pretending to learn how to quilt. Many of the teachers are funny and the database is pretty comprehensive. Recently when I was learning how to paint a mural, I followed their mural painting tutorial and it saved.the.day. 

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8. Dawes "Passwords" album
It took me a few plays to catch on to the vibe since it was such a departure from earlier rockin' albums, but this more subdued, sentimental album is lovely. 

What about you? What are you loving these days?