“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

This summer, I spent a lot of time speaking with (really kind) people in the fashion industry about their career paths and motivations. One woman suggested, that instead of focusing on exact roles and timelines, I ruminate on the woman I’d like to become. Maya Angelou’s words accurately capture my thoughts when I think about my future self. I want to be the woman who enjoys her work because it’s challenging and positively impacts others. I want to succeed so that those around me can benefit. And I’d love to do it all with grace and a laugh because life is so unpredictable. As I enter my second year of business school, I’ll be sure to come back to this great quote.


A Review: The True Cost Documentary

I’ve been planning to watch this documentary since the 2015 2-year anniversary of the tragedy that occurred at the Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh. Perhaps I procrastinated because I was afraid that watching the documentary would fundamentally change the way I shopped. Shopping for me was always about finding a “good deal”, a “unique design”, or the next “investment piece” that would last for longer than a year. Perhaps I feared that adding morals and ethics to the purchasing equation would leave me with no new items or would limit my options to vintage shopping and learning how to sew myself! (Note: I would like to visit vintage stores and learn how to really sew at some point)

Well, today, after making a lot of excuses, I finally sat down to watch the film, learn the truth, and reflect on my role as a consumer. If you haven’t watched The True Cost yet, it’s certainly a must-see, especially given the recent news. The documentary, which is available on Netflix, interviews a wide variety of stakeholders concerned with the fashion process including: farmers, factory workers, designers, free market economists, founders of civic groups, etc. While the shift between the discussion on labor practices to the discussion of the ecological impact of the fashion process was somewhat abrupt, it was important that the film explored both sets of consequences. I found myself cringing with guilt when the film showed a few YouTube haul videos since I have definitely watched my fair share of haul videos to pass time.

I learned quite a few things while watching The True Cost:

First, fashion is the most labor-intensive industry and most people don’t consider the negative externalities of the $3 trillion industry.

Second, farmers in India have been committing suicide over high prices of inputs like seeds and fertilizer.

Third, I’ll admit that I had a clue about this shift before watching the film, but the industry has convinced consumers to treat the items they should use for long periods of time as items they should use up.

Fourth, fast fashion isn’t the only culprit here; the chromium 6 process of treating leather also hurts communities, the environment, and people’s lives.

Ultimately, The True Cost forced me to ask, why should people lose their lives so that I can think that I look cute?

This question left me craving practical solutions which the film failed to deliver. However, the film concludes by suggesting that viewers check out truecostmovie.com for actionable ideas. I HIGHLY recommend reading the website’s buying better guide. It lists conscious brands, contains video interviews, and links readers to other sites focused on improving the fashion process.

As a consumer, the first thing I can do differently is to buy fewer items and appreciate  and properly care for the clothes that I already own. When I do decide to buy something, I want to make sure that I’m consciously thinking about the quality and how long I’ll keep the item in my closet. Finally, I hope to start buying from brands that consider human and environmental costs in their production processes.


Merry Christmas: An update on life


Over the past 6 months, I moved cities and started my MBA program at MIT Sloan. It’s been quite a ride and I have had the chance to blog about my goals for school and organizing an African fashion show to share my passions and culture with my classmates.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned this semester is to be open to new experiences, conversations, and challenges. The entrepreneurial spirit at Sloan encourages taking risks and doing things differently. This freedom is both fascinating and frightening, but the great thing is that you’re always learning and always improving, even if you fail.

Now that I celebrate this year’s journey with my family, I am so grateful for the chance to learn from such amazing classmates, mentors, and professors. I am also grateful for the support my family has given me during this formative time.

Merry Christmas!



Honeymoon in Morocco (Part 3)

After  exploring Marrakech, we ventured out to the coastal city of Essaouira by bus (Supratours). It was great to have the chance to sit and catch up on a book while watching the world go by. This part of the trip was strictly about relaxation.

IMG_1310IMG_1314IMG_1315IMG_1319In Essaouira, we arranged to have a nice dinner in our riad. Our hosts served traditional Moroccan foods and desserts and paid special attention to the presentation. It was a fantastic evening! They even baked us a cake which we finished over the following few days. IMG_1406IMG_1409 IMG_1412After we had gotten our bearings, we ventured to the (free) ramparts in Essaouira. There was something so serene about watching the birds, the waves, and even the fishermen play their roles near the ramparts.  blue windows essaouira ocean ramparts ramparts 2 tool

Though we went to the beach, I didn’t feel comfortable only wearing my swimsuit. I much preferred to lounge about in harem pants and a breezy top. In fact, many women on the beach were fully clothed.

Following our stay in Essaouira, we returned to Marrakech to finally purchase souvenirs  and conclude our honeymoon. In Essaouira and in Marrakech, we explored the souks. Negotiating with the merchants was stressful though thrilling. I like to drive a hard bargain (or so I think) and knew that if I didn’t like the price, I could walk away. After much research online and through talking with our riad hosts, we ultimately purchased a camel+ sheep blanket, a turqouise poof, and scarves for my sisters and mother-in-law. Though our return flights to the states were stressful (canceled flights and all), we were grateful to have safely traveled to Morocco this summer and tho have the chance to bond over new experiences!


Honeymoon in Morocco (Part 2)

After acclimating to the medina and learning all about the cuisine, we headed to the Atlas Mountains and explored the Three Valleys. We arranged this excursion through our first riad in Marrakech, and met our drivers at 9 am for the private day trip. After about an hour and half, we reached the winding mountain villages. I didn’t think I had a fear of heights until I looked over the side of our car! And no, we didn’t ride the camels!
IMG_5688IMG_5569IMG_5664IMG_5743IMG_5725IMG_5747IMG_5545IMG_1206The mountains and landscape were breathtaking and we were happy to have the chance to escape the chaos in the medina! Part-way through our trip, we stopped in a Berber restaurant for a delicious lunch of Moroccan salad, chicken tajine, fresh melon, and lots of Moroccan mint tea. While enjoying our meal, we heard the calls of the imams reminding the residents to pray. The sounds echoed from mountain to mountain. IMG_1215 IMG_1213IMG_1209IMG_1222IMG_1221IMG_1228Though we spent the majority of the excursion driving around, we did make a few other stops to hike and eventually stopped at an Women’s Argan Oil co-operative. According to the young girl who showed us around, proceeds from the co-operative’s product sales support widowed women in the village. After snapping a few pictures, I was invited to crack a few of the nuts used to make the paste that contains the oil! The whole process is labor intensive, but I am glad that it provides women with income. IMG_1162IMG_1166IMG_5603IMG_1172IMG_1185IMG_1175IMG_1176IMG_1177IMG_1298IMG_1252One of our favorite things about Morocco were all the doors. They all had unique, intricate details and were often painted in very vibrant colors. IMG_5605 IMG_5604IMG_1263IMG_1282 IMG_1284 IMG_1233IMG_1669In addition to the ubiquity of colorful metal doors, we drank so much mint tea, that we could place an order in French in our sleep! I’ve had “Moroccan mint tea” in the States, but the mint tea in Morocco is so much better. Our hosts always brewed fresh mint leaves, and placed an emphasis on creating bubbles when pouring the tea from high above the glass. Though we were tempted to purchase our own tea serving set, we realized that 1.) we don’t know much about metal quality when it comes to tea sets, and 2.) we didn’t have a clue about a reasonable price. When we negotiated for a tea pot at one merchant’s shop, he was insulted and told us to have a good day!IMG_1073IMG_1075On our last day in Marrakech, we visited Jardin Majorelle. The well-organized gardens, named after French painter Jacques Majorelle, took 40 years to create. In 1980, Pierre Bergé and French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent bought Jardin Majorelle, and Yves’ ashes were scattered around the garden following his death in 2008. IMG_1483IMG_1653IMG_1660IMG_1568IMG_1569palm frondIMG_1647wild YSL

After Marrakech, we headed west to the Atlantic Ocean coastal city of Essaouira. Stay tuned for Part 3!