What’s happening to the world?  Where are we headed? I had never felt so concerned in regards to the current state of the planet, specially when it comes to politics: I don’t understand how this became such a complicated world all of a sudden. Perhaps it has always been this way, but I’m older and more understanding of the consequences ahead of us. 

A couple of weekends ago, I had this one day where I was totally depressed, but for the first time it had nothing to do with my micro-universe (my eternally complicated mind, the people I love, work or family), it was because of how sad I am for the way we are hurting our planet.

It actually reminds me of one of those toxic relationships we all had when we started trying to understand love; those where everyone gets hurt and no one understands where the pain began, or why you can’t let go. The difference is that, in this particular relationship, we HAVE to make it work, even when what we carry is an inheritance of consumer-driven behaviors that are embedded in our culture, and will take a lot of time and work to change.

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I moderated a panel with a very special group of people, who are united by their concern for the planet and are turning that concern into action: Patrick Duffy, from World Fashion Exchange, Elizabeth Weaton, Director of Environment and Sustainability of the City of Miami Beach, Sophie Zembra from Antidote, Daniele D’Orazi from Instituto Marangoni and Veronica Pesantes from The Onikas.

The two articles that guided me the most when framing the questions for the panel were:

1.”Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” by the New York Times,

2. “Great Barrier Reef headed for ‘massive death’ from CNN.

Ok, I know: I’m not painting a glamorous canvas here, but we can’t pretend that this is not happening. Our curated feeds, often filled with fashion, and a never ending world of opportunities is not reality. It’s a great escape, but the more we click on those things, the more hidden the bigger picture will be for us.

The thing is, even the smallest changes can have a huge impact. We have the power to regulate the market. Here are three actionable things you can do now, without having to change your life much:

  1. Don’t use new denim: it takes way too much water to produce.  Instead, buy vintage, used or upcycled. I swear I haven’t bough one pair of jeans ever since I realized that it takes 1800 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans.
  2. Don’t eat too much meat: I’m not asking you to turn vegan, but the amount of demand we have for meat, has translated into deforestation, huge water pollution and increase in green house gases. Do you remember how we consumed a lot less meat when we were young? The reason is that it used to be very expensive. It suddenly dropped prices, we got used to eating it all the time, and turned into a big problem. If this doesn’t convince you, google the effects too much meat has in your body. You’ll be surprised.
  3. Pay attention to your consumption patters over-all. Turn it into a conscious effort: when you picnic, or do a get-together, don’t just buy plastic utensils: choose paper or biodegradable materials. It doesn’t change your experience at all, and it makes a huge difference to the planet. Stay away from plastic bags. It’s not that hard to carry a normal reusable bag in your car.

We can’t just be driven by survival, or define ourselves by the place we are from, our religion, our looks, our family or the work we do. 

We can’t just be in denial. Things are changing; shifting.

When it happens in enough of us, then we will have a tipping point, and the culture begins to shift. It’s time to live with intention. 

It’s never to late or too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want.

Be brave enough to care. The future is now.

The production of this video was possible thanks to MINI USA, main sponsor of THE FUTURE by Funkshion. Pictures by Celia D. Luna.

Dear you,

If you are reading this, our journeys have finally collided. I am grateful for this.

This is a magic canvas: it has given me courage through the last four years of my journey. Now, I want to share its magic with you.

So, what is the headpiece about? This canvas has allowed me to ‘paint’ the reality I always dreamt of. It has many uses. For me it’s the back-bone of my braid, inspired by the Tehuana braid from my native Mexico, with a touch of modernity and thickness.

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My braid is my journey.

You see, every strand of my hair carries a story. It carries my culture: the culture of all the countries I’ve lived in.

The traditions of my Mexico; the ambition of New York; the values of the people of Toronto; the fun and innocence of my time in Madrid; the aesthetics of Stockholm.

My Miami…

The stereotypes I believed; the ones I broke; the ones that broke me; the ones I will break.

And then, there are the labels. There are so many labels and roles. Every role comes with a struggle: daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother.

And then, there’s the knot.

The knot is an intention. Every day, as I make it, I look myself straight in the eye and commit to helping another woman rise.

It has become addictive, and the more I help others rise, the more I’m helped by others.

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This is not a headpiece. This is my canvas, my journey, and my source of strength. Use it wisely.

There are many ways to use it. I’m sure you can come up with unique ways of using it. I will be adding different tutorials on the next couple of days.

I would love to see the way you make it yours. Please share with me whatever you come up with by using #journeyofabraid on Instagram. Below, how to do the braid, and the journeys weaved within.

And this is where your journey begins…

Love,

Danié

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Once upon a time, there was a man who loved beauty and details more than anything in this world, and built the most beautiful mansion, overlooking Miami’s Biscayne Bay, at a time when there wasn’t much around here.

It was built inside out. Every piece has meaning: the attention to detail is spectacular.

His name was James Deering, and to me he was the Great Gatsby of Florida. Ever since he first laid eyes on this beautiful place, he filled it with glamour, even though construction took place between 1910 and 1922, a time of political, economic and social turmoil.

As you enter the estate, it’s impossible not to feel the European vibe, and the walls whispering stories of how much this place might have meant to the dream-maker behind it.

The stories that speak to me the most, are love stories. He must have been in love with someone… who was that someone, and why didn’t he ever marry?

Sadly enough, Mr. Deering’s health began to fail even before Vizcaya was completed. He died on board a steamship that traveled from Paris to the United States in September of 1925, leaving the property to his half-brother, Charles, who died two years after he inherited it.

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This journey through Vizcaya, will take you through the love story that my mind has built around this man, and this estate: it starts with me being him, and is followed by the journey of the woman who owned his heart, yet wasn’t able to share her journey with him during that specific lifetime.

Currently, I am honored to be a Cultural Ambassador to Vizcaya, and we built this journey together in the hope that it will spark your curiosity to visit the unique estate, embed yourself in the stories it carries, and maybe motivate you to help us preserve it for many generations to come by joining us at the Vizcaya Ball, becoming a member, or donating as much as you wish to.

Hurricanes have been rough on this incredible place, and we have to make everything in our power to preserve its beauty.

All the dresses you will see on the following days, are by Naeem Khan, who is now based in Miami, and the jewelry is from Chopard. The photography is by Celia D Luna.

And this is where the journey begins.

Traveling is also a mirror. You don’t need to even see your reflection to feel its full effect. The distance to the place you come from, the changing routine, the changing landscape…

This is where my day finishes. My shield goes down, my red lipstick goes off. There is full silence, after an incredibly noisy day. It’s here where i realize how much I have changed. The first time I came to Paris I was so lost. My English mixed with my broken French wasn’t enough to get by. I preferred to stare at a map for hours than ask for help. I couldn’t take rejection. I wanted to feel liked… Self doubt is such a cruel adversary. It might be cultural, or it might be age, but now having spent every summer for the past 10 years here, and speaking the language, I realize that inner strength I developed to get by on my own, and to become who I wanted to be.

Although still a work in progress, it’s so important to get to that point when you start being vocal about your priorities, the things You want, the ones You don’t , and your limits towards others. That’s where real change begins. Where you break free from expectations.. that’s what brought out the best side of me. I feel so safe and strong in my skin this time. The only person I need to feel liked by is staring at me right now. We live in a society that profits immensely from self-doubt. When you are able to break that cycle, you break free.

And yet, the thing about changing… is that you can never be the same.

Full mirror conversation below.

 

Full video here

I write about a destiny that I can barely touch. I can’t realistically relate to it aside from the fact that I was once a child and the only shield I had against the world, was my family.  As I search for the words to write this post hundreds of children are being separated from their parents.

I write as a Latina, and as a witness of the cruelty to my people, the braided ones, who even in my own country are disrespected for the color of their skin, or for the lack of means that restricted them from having a formal education. I grew up watching how people of my own nationality and origins disrespected them, exploited them, called them by snapping their fingers, or named them ‘nacos’ and what not. Those are the people that are fleeing from their countries in search of a better future, after experiencing cruelty that goes way beyond what we can ever imagine.

Their journey is not as simple and romantic as ‘searching for the American Dream’, as many people think; it’s, more often than not, a desperate escape from a life of cruelty and abuse.

This story is not new: Native Americans suffered a similar faith not that long ago, when their children were taken away and sent into ‘Boarding Schools” where they were separated from their siblings, and from everything that was familiar to them in an effort to ‘Americanize’ them. The government did it because it was cheaper to create boarding schools than to kill them. This part of history isn’t as widely known,  perhaps because there are not that many Native Americans left.

But it seems we don’t always learn from our mistakes, and the lives of those less educated, and specially of indigenous descent, are still valued differently to the lives of the white educated population.

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A life is a life. America is bigger than this. The actions of a few don’t represent us, but our silence speaks for us.

If you have a voice, use it. If you can, donate money to support those working hands-on at the border. Just keep the conversation going. We are in charge of engineering the reality we live in.

Pictures: Celia D Luna

I’ve shared a piece of myself on Instagram and my blog/journal for the past year, and it has really helped me grow in many ways, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. You see, putting yourself out there it’s a psychological adventure where your perception of who you are is often challenged.

There is so much more to it than what is visible to the eye…

From the fun to the gloomy, whether you are in the same industry I am, or just curious, here are a couple of insights from this filtered life.

1. FOMO

Yes, we all experiences Fear of Missing Out, but when you live a big chunk of your life on instagram, many of your friends tend to be fellow insta-addicts who post in relationship to everything they do, and your feed becomes asphyxiating with reminders of the event you totally missed out on.

2. Perfect shots that didn’t happen.

The total frustration of being in the perfect spot with the perfect outfit, and not having a single soul, or tripod close by to take a picture of you #thestruggleisreal

3. Mistakes happen.

The anger that comes from pressing ‘decline’ by mistake to a message you really wanted to answer, aka really good looking guy if you are single, or really heartfelt message from someone whose handle you can’t recall.

4. Nights when looking at how your life looks on the screen is so much better than your actual life.

Yeah. Sometimes it does, and looking at the girl in the pictures gives me strength as I rebuild myself to try to go back to being her.

5. The not-that-real friendships behind many love messages. I really wish I saw many of these friends more often. Apparently time management is an issue in every universe, and there’s often more posting and less conversations.

6. How hard it is sometimes to live in the moment.

You are exposed to all these amazing experiences, and yet it’s part of your work, so you’d better take a ton of material. I often save normal pictures and videos and post until I get home to try to live the moment.

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7. Sometimes it hurts.

How hard your blood boils when someone who follows you, or works with you ‘re-imagines’ your look or your ideas without even mentioning you. It sucks. The only answer for that is to realize they can replicate a look, but never your journey. Keep creating, get over it, and credit all those who inspire you in hope the world dynamics will change one day. I also tend to block those people.

8. It’s stressful.

The anxiety of a post not getting the response you thought it would get. Sometimes I change the caption two or three times because of the anxiety of my audience not ‘getting’ what I’m trying to say. I know many influencers who would rather delete the pictures that don’t perform to their expectations.

9. People expect you to work for free.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s the right fit because the product or the story behind the brand makes sense, but creating good content takes time, money and experience. There comes a moment when too many people want a chunk of your time, and it’s just not possible to give it away for free. The experience, exchange or commercial agreement needs to always be a win-win situation. I have so much respect for those agencies and people who realize the value of my work, and will always deliver above expectations to them.

10. It’s hard work.

It looks simple and glamorous, but behind the scenes there are many hours in front of the computer, a life-time of experiences, way to many decisions to take and lots of planning.

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11. It’s worth it.

The joy of knowing you had an impact in someone else’s life, because you found your voice, and it resonates with a total stranger. All the above is worth it when that happens. You also get to work and create with brilliant people that change the way you see things. It’s magic.

To be continued…

Pictures by Celia . Luna at the Moore Building during RAW POP

Journey of a braid, how to be an influencer, this influencer life, danie gomez ortigoza Celia DLUNA Miami Miami fashion miami influencer miami blogger miami instagramm Frida braid

Entrepreneurship takes courage. A lot of it. I got to work on a project with GoDaddy where we focused on entrepreneurs and small business owners in Miami . During the interview we were able to highlight their entrepreneurial journey and how they made their own way pursuing something they love. I wanted to take that a step further and showcase more about these beautiful people in Miami and what they bring to the community.

My first stop was AWOM Club. 

The entrepreneur behind it, Sarah Akiba, believes in the power of community, and women helping each other. She works closely with teenagers with difficult economical situations to help mentor them and lead them in the right direction through Angel Watching Over Me Foundation, which was created in loving memory of his father, who lost a battle to lung-cancer recently. As an entrepreneur she has also created a female only co-working space and photography studio, called AWOM LAB, and a clothing brand, AWOM CLUB.

More on the way she sees life, and defines success on the video below.

Entrepreneurship takes courage. A lot of it. I got to work on a project with GoDaddy where we focused on  entrepreneurs and small business owners in Miami . During the interview we were able to highlight their entrepreneurial journey and how they made their own way pursuing something they love. I wanted to take that a step further and showcase more about these beautiful people in Miami and what they bring to the community.

Let’s start with one of my favorites: Danny Santiago.

Danny Santiago has been a part of the global fashion industry for over 3 decades, and is one of today’s most sought after wardrobe stylists. In this interview, made as part of a journalistic project with Go Daddy, he explains to us his journey, from simply enjoying playing with clothes to becoming an extremely sought after stylist with clientele ranging from talents like Sarah Jessica Parker, Dwayne Johnson, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Lenny Kravitz, Ricky Martin, Penelope Cruz Madonna, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson, and Prince. And this is how his journey began…