c o l l a b : MEET MICHELLE with BLAKSANDS

I just realized Michelle actually was my very first buyer of hii noon vintage back in 2019(?) and how serendipitous is it that she is my first official collaboration for the site? Totally not planned.

Anyway, if you've had the pleasure running into Michelle over instagram or irl than you already know how easy it is to *actually* connect with her. She's effortlessly a womens woman. She lifts up others selflessly through post shares, gift guides, small woman run business story dumps, posts inviting for us to support and share other woman owned businesses, the list goes on. Not to mention that on a personal level she really is there for others whether she knows you irl or virtually - one of the most approachable people I've met via Insta. Her account isn't just vintage and reimagined work - it's a space she uses to be vulnerable in her own feelings while assuring us we're not alone and we are supported should we ever reach out. Michelle was a first friend in the vintage community and I'm sure my sentiment toward her is held by so many others, we love you!

This collaboration came during strict lock down in 2020. Michelle had three vintage denim pieces she had been in the process of hand-dying and I had been playing around with destroying some baggy boyfriend denim of mine. What a match, huh? Stoked to see our creative processes morph together.

Read my interview with Michelle on her personal evolution, hand-dying journey, and simple life philosophy. You can connect with Michelle on insta at @blaksands

How long have you been sourcing vintage?

I began my journey into sourcing and re-selling vintage in the spring of 2019. It all started when I was out thrifting one day for a wardrobe styling project and stumbled across an authentic vintage 1970s Levi’s corduroy sherpa jacket. I had always *wanted* to re-sell and have my own curated

vintage shop - and finding that piece was the catalyst to get started. That jacket hangs on my “museum” wall to this day as a reminder of where it all began.

When and what inspired you to begin dying vintage pieces?

Quarantine! Thanks to COVID and being stuck at home, I was really fortunate that I was sitting on a lot of current inventory for my shop. Unable to thrift or source - I decided to reimagine the pieces I already had - and began to play around with different dyes and techniques. It was definitely one of the (many) therapeutic and creative outlets that kept me inspired and motivated during 2020.

Can you take us through the journey of sourcing pieces to dying them? Is there always a specific inspiration or does it sort of manifest itself?

Typically when sourcing - I always check for major and minor flaws that might prevent me from being able to re-sell ; such as tears, missing buttons, and stains. If a garment is incredible, or well made and has some staining or discoloration - I will consider dyeing it as a way to salvage it from heading to the land-fill. Certain stains are easier to cover than others, so I also consider the fabric, the dye technique, which colors to use and how I want the final piece to look. Silk & Nylon are my favorite fabrics for ice-dyeing as it creates a beautiful watercolor effect. I prefer to do a more even color dye on thick cottons and denims. I find that I let the garment and it’s imperfections guide me to what feels most intuitive when dyeing - and so far, it turns out like magic every time!

Tell us about your relationship to vintage and how it affected your self worth.

I credit Sarah of Boheme Goods for my serious deep dive into the world of vintage. I had found her shop at one of the darkest times in my life, around 2016/2017 when I was struggling with body image and self-worth. I started shopping her vintage drops on a regular basis and it became the foundation for my style, and the way I expressed myself with clothing. I felt like I was finally able to find myself through vintage and I loved being able to dress based on how I was feeling at the moment.

Growing up I had never had the opportunity to shop vintage or secondhand - as I was taught that it had a “negative” connotation - even though many of my friends did and I was always fascinated by it. Throughout college I started to thrift more, but I didn’t realize at the time it was something that aligned with my core values. Once I got more involved in the fashion industry as a photographer, I started to learn about the negative side effects of fast fashion and overconsumption - which led me to realize I wanted less to be a part of that, and more involved with sustainability and slow fashion. Finding this outlet brings together so many things I am passionate about into one ( slow fashion, vintage, photography, small business, community etc.), and I truly feel like I have found my calling as a re-seller and curator of vintage & slow fashion.

And your philosophy on living day to day. How do you stay reminded of this mindset when life ya know... is a bit more chaotic?

Lately I have been trying to slow down and be present in each day. I look for moments to be grateful and thankful for what I have and the people in my life. I have worked hard to get to a place of fierce self-love and to choose carefully with whom and where I spend my energy. I have also experienced a lot of change this year - and personal growth - and try to honor each day what I feel, whether that’s sadness, grief or happiness. The biggest lesson I’ve learned more recently is to allow yourself to feel whatever comes up, to honor and listen to your feelings as they pass through you. It has helped me work through and clear sadness much quicker - as well as enjoy periods of happiness and joy more deeply.

What has been your favorite 'sourced' piece? Vintage, thrifted, found, or gifted?

I have many! The first that come to mind is a set of two rust orange Mid-Century Modern barrel chairs that I scored at an estate sale. Second is my oversized creamy fleece button-down jacket that I wear over any and everything. It’s such a good piece that I’m constantly on the look out for another one - but I still have never been able to find anything similar!

What's your jackpot dream find?

I would LOVE to find a pair of vintage 1980s wranglers like the pair Freddie Mercury wore in the Live Aid concert - or an authentic vintage B-3 Aviator Leather jacket in a small enough size to be fitted on my frame ( and preferably in black! ).

Any recent rituals, ideas, or epiphanies that have totally changed you or you swear by?

The biggest lesson I learned from 2020, and going into this year - is to always say yes and do as many things as possible. If it’s there and you’re able ( and willing ) you should just do it. You never know when the world might shut-down again, or you might get sick, or break a leg, or lose a friend. Always say yes to seeing someone, getting outside your comfort zone and honoring the things YOU love the most. I am truly grateful that I was living my life this way - as fall approaches and I’m healing from a broken leg - I can look back and no I have no regrets for the way I live my life to the fullest. This will always be my motto going forward. I am forever grateful to the moments and people in my life and want to honor and cherish them always.