Passion for Fashion

Located at 227 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, is a little shop by the name of St. Hrouda.  Walking inside, one will find a combination boutique / art gallery, managed by the fashion extraordinaire Nicole Bell.  St. Hrouda’s walls are chicly lined with art and clothing from local artists and brands, including, my particular favorite, those made and designed by Nicole Bell herself.

Though I was in Brooklyn this past July, I have not yet seen this wonderful boutique/art gallery, because it has only recently opened its doors.  When Nicole first took over the space this fall, it was a somewhat drab and old-looking little shop.  Within weeks, she and her father, through their combined genius, had put together one of the most classy spaces I’ve ever seen (even in photographs).  The before and after photos of the space showed how true a transformation had taken place, and they actually had me wanting to jump up and down to celebrate the amazing results.  It is now the bea-U-tiful space of St. Hrouda, named for Nicole’s grandmother, and housing brands from New York, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Paris, London, and LA, while featuring, of course, Nicole Bell.  And the gallery portion of St. Hrouda displays art by local New York artists (including, again, art by Nicole Bell herself), all for sale.

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On a regular basis, Nicole hosts a ladies’ night at St. Hrouda – from which I always see photos of wine and fabulous personal styling sessions (Think of what Becky Bloomwood does with her customers in the Sophie Kinsella novels) – as well as a variety of other events and pop-up shops/parties to help integrate St. Hrouda into the beautiful community surrounding it.

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Photos of the Grandmother Hrouda who inspired the name, along one of the walls of St. Hrouda

Now, let’s talk for just a minute about the amazing, spectacularly inspired fashionista behind it all: Nicole Bell.  I recently had the opportunity to visit and interview Nicole in her work studio in Brooklyn, just weeks before she began work on opening St. Hrouda.  Nicole is From Houston, Texas, and, only a handful of years ago, founded her fashion brand Nicole Bell.  Nicole herself is a goofy yet stylishly sassy woman who is taking on the world with long legs and big, brave strides.  She never fails to put a smile on my face when I am with her, and her determined outer self never hides the truth of what it really takes to be successful in fashion – life is hard, and making it in fashion is even harder.

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Nicole Bell of Nicole Bell and St. Hrouda

Nevertheless, fashion is her passion, and so she is going for it with all she’s got (and then some she’s still figuring out)!

Every time I see a Nicole Bell outfit, my inner Lady Gaga whoops with joy and longing – Ooooh! I want! I want! it always seems to shout, over and over, not unlike a little kid begging for ice cream.  Nicole’s designs are impeccable and utterly breathtaking on the powerhouse female front.  When I picture my BA* self taking on the world in heels, she’s wearing Nicole Bell.  And the world is looking on in awestruck astonishment. 🙂

Do yourself a favor, and give my interview with Nicole Bell a listen.  I learned so much about the fashion world, as well as how Nicole comes up with her individual designs and collections/lines.  Her sense of gratitude to those who have contributed to her journey thus far – as well as those who continue to contribute and show their support – is clear, as well as her almost unreal dedication to sharing her eye and inspiration with the world through fashion, despite the many, many hardships that have come with her endeavors and that still lie ahead.  Nicole does not have it all figured out, and that is just part of the beauty of exploration involved in furthering her passion for fashion.

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Nicole and Khaleesi, her baby boxer, @st.hrouda

The talk these days is all about getting to know the people behind our food and our clothing  – Buy local is a regular mantra (alongside Know your farmer and Made in the USA, in efforts to support quality products and fair trade, respectively).  The woman behind this shop and clothing line is definitely worth getting to know.  Especially if you’re in the New York area, give Nicole Bell a solid look – she is local and well worth the visit.  And, even if you aren’t in the area, look her up anyway – she’s that good.

When you find yourself interested in learning about the glories, trials, and tribulations of pursuing a love of and passion for fashion, give our interview a listen.  If you missed the link above, click here to listen to the interview I did with Nicole!

Definitely check out (and follow) her Instagram accounts for St. Hrouda (@st.hrouda) and Nicole Bell (@nicolebelldesigns) – the photos and videos on there inspire me just about every day.

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Notes from the interview:

The photographer Nicole really loved from the skate park is Nico Nordström, found at http://www.niconordstrom.com/

If you prefer regular websites (or want to buy something), check out www.sthrouda.com and www.nicolebell.co.

Check out Nicole’s 2018 New York Fashion Week show here – it’s awesome.  Just scroll down a bit on the page that opens for the video.

*Bad-a**, for those who don’t know

Post-a-day 2019

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Accomplishments

Today, I socialized while getting myself some of the good Japanese culture, and even a bit of the language, too.

I made this:

The fancy and “real” one is the white paperboard one, but I messed it up, so I much prefer my practice one on the newspaper (that’s why I put the hanko [stamp] on it, too).

It is the Japanese writing for Anshin, which means ‘peace of mind; freedom from care; relief.’

We did it as an activity called kakizome 書き初め, which is the first kanji one writes in the new year, and it is an intention and wish one makes for the year.

I selected 安心, because that is what I want in abundance in my life this year (I almost considered アットホウム, which is not kanji, but is spelling out a word, and, in this case, spelling out the two foreign words “at home”, because I couldn’t find anything that seemed quite right for what I longed for in my life this year…, but then I found 安心).

安心 was perfect, as soon as someone wrote it down for me… we had discussed the meaning, which I really liked, but it was when I saw it that I loved it.

I don’t remember what the very top part is, but the whole thing includes the word for woman and the word for heart – those two kanji, combined with the meaning?… done deal – let’s do this. 😛

And, so, we did. 🙂

Post-a-day 2019 (The last year of Emperor Heisei, Heisei 31 平成三十一 )

Bedtime routine…

I wanted to go read, because I didn’t want to think about what to write…,

But then I thought about how I would be thinking all along in the back of my mind about things I could use for writing, as well as maintaining that semi-constant reminder that also resides back there to make sure I write before I go to bed…

And so I came and sat down on my magical handmade chair… thing – I think it’s possibly a stool, technically, and “magical” just felt right, because it is special to me, not because it is a regular Hermione Granger or anything of the sort – and picked up the little phone – “little” being totally relative, because it is definitely not Zoolander sized, but it also is loads smaller than the first many versions of phones, as well as the most recent iPad-type mobile phones – here to write something…

Apparently this is what I ended up writing for tonight – and “For Tonight” is the name of a musical that is about to have its world premier here in Houston(!)… 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Photos!

Okay, one ended up not happening after all, but the first photo thing happened today, and, not only was it a successful photo shoot, but it was also an awesome adventure!

I was doing photos for a friend who is a curator at a museum, and so I got to go see (and photograph, of course – that’s why I was there) the new museum setup before it has even opened its doors to the public!

It was something wonderful to see, and also a delightful learning experience regarding all of the objects and models and things on display within the museum!

I really enjoyed the whole time of it.

Then, looking through the photos tonight – which I was rather terrified to do, and which I only did because I’d given my word to the friend that I would check over them tonight – I discovered that almost all of them looked great!

I just need to redo a few, which was already expected, anyway, due to the fact that not everything was finished being set up in the museum yet.

So, yay!

Also, when going through them, I went ahead and loaded the previous two rounds of photos I’d done… and those.. were.. awesome!

I was totally inspired by my own photos – a concept which then doubly blew my mind with inspiration!

How cool is that?!

Yay!

Post-a-day 2019

Passions…?

Tomorrow, I have on my schedule, somewhat unexpectedly, two very different photo sessions scheduled.

Ones where I take the photos for someone else…

And one of them has even requested my photo-taking ability for pay…(!!!)

I am sometimes terrified, whenever I see my current place and undetermined path from the eyes of those around me…, and it is times like this that I can trust that feeling deep inside me that I am exactly and perfectly in the right spot and heading in the right direction for me and my life right now.

🙂

Post-a-day 2018

Writing

Do you ever just not feel like doing something you love?  Like tonight, how I just so totally don’t feel like writing anything, even though I actually love writing.  Yet, I write anyway, because I want to maintain the habit of writing, even and especially when I’m not feeling it or feel as though I have nothing valuable to write.  Otherwise, I could see myself going right back to how I first started writing, but then only wrote around once a month, because I didn’t feel like I had something valuable enough to write about.  Virginia Woolf mentioned in her (ridiculously long) essay called “A Room of One’s Own”, how it is important for women – the whole thing was about women – to write, no matter what they have to write about, because they are able to express their genius and artistry by writing.  And so, even if the writing is only valued for a day or for a year, it is still important to write it, she said.*

I have much to do over these next handful of days, and I would like to accomplish it all (and well), because I quite possibly will have more added on at the end of them, which is just a bit absurd when being added to what I already have to accomplish by a few weeks from now.  P-hsh—— (That was like a sigh, but with my teeth closed.)  Just like Fuji-san, it’s bothersome to do, but I know I can do this, and that’s exactly why I don’t want to do it.  😛

*Fun fact: I used the word ‘said’, and it is actually correct, because the essay was published out of two speeches Virginia Would gave to Cambridge women’s colleges around 1928 and 1929.  (One of those was Newnham College, which is where my best friend studied and where I visited and stayed briefly!)  So, she really did say the information, even though she also wrote it.

Post-a-day 2018

Recycled(?) and Reused(?) Concerts

We went to a sort of concert tonight, where musicians composed and performed musical pieces on unsalvageable – truly – pianos (or, in one case, a big chunk of what used to be a piano).

I saw an article about it in the Houston Chronicle on Friday, and sent a photo of it to a friend, since the concert was free and she and I were planning on doing something together Sunday, but weren’t sure what exactly… and so, with little knowledge of what precisely was going to greet us with this performance – I mean, we did know the location and that the location, Super Happy Fun Land, was absolutely absurd in and of itself, so we had a big hint that the performance would be of the artistically absurd type, but we weren’t sure in what way or ways – we went. 🙂

By the end of it all, we had seen and heard from our recycled AMC theatre chairs the use of hammers, drum sticks, bass drum mallets, a wheel-y thing, a piano tuner, pliers, chain mail, and vibrators (yes, the sexual kind – three kinds of them, actually, one being bright, Pepto Bismol-y pink) on pianos as a means of making music, and we’d heard a bit of poetry with one of the pieces, too.

And (Oh, I guess this counts, too, as something used on a piano.) the third and final piece ended with the performer/composer shoving, with an almighty wrench, the upright piano backward onto the ground – complete with a humongous, resounding and somewhat shocking BOOM! – and then jumping up and down on the strings, smashing all that he could with his shoes, before completing with a satisfied, deep chuckle.

It was, indeed, a creatively absurd evening.

Post-a-day 2018