How To Volunteer – As An Introvert

Standing on the front lines, hearts pounding, ready to fight for injustice. 

That's how a good and wise friend of mine described the way many of us are feeling these days. Because of the events of the last few weeks, a lot of us feel the call to fight more than ever before.

That means starting conversations and donating time and money. Great and grand and important, sure, but for the quieter ones in the crowd – (introverts, that is) – the volunteering bit can be easier said than done. You want to give back and donate your time, but you may not be ready to stand on a street corner and recruit strangers to join you in the battle for what's right. I totally get it.

Rest assured, your help is still needed. Introverts, ever-powerful in the workplace, can be just as impactful on the front lines in the fight for social justice. Here's how:

Assist with administrative work

Organizations like Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, and others need help in their local offices doing things like assisting with communications, stuffing envelopes, working in Excel. This is just as important as the more visible positions, and will allow you to work hard for something you care about in a way that jives with who you are. After all, someone has to keep the trains running on time. (Not sure about the administrative volunteer opportunities available at these organizations, but it's still certainly worth checking out Black Lives Matter, Emily's List, Girl Up, Girls Inc.Defy Ventures, Inc., and local non-profits to see if they need help with behind the scenes tasks.)

 

Be a Big Brother or Big Sister

Join the local chapter of your Boys & Girls Club and become a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child who could use a little extra help. Introverts are much more comfortable in small groups and with one-on-one relationships – trust – so this is a perfect fit for those of us who might shy away from the megaphone.

 

Use Your Platform for Advocacy

You don't have to turn your social media accounts into all-or-nothing social justice micro-platforms, but consider informing your followers about ways they might be able to get involved with a certain project or program you believe in. As much as we love seeing what your shoes look like on some fall leaves (no sarcasm – we really do!) we also might want to know more about the things your believed in and involved in.

 

Speak Out

Thanks, MTA, for providing us with a phrase that extends far beyond what we ever thought. If you come across an act of injustice in your daily life, say something about it. By staying silent, you're being complacent. At the very least, let the person who was wronged know that they're not alone, and that you're on their side. Basically, if you see something, say something. (Thanks, MTA!)

 

More thoughts, ideas, recommendations for ways to help as an introvert (or otherwise) always welcome! Leave a comment below or reach out directly.


Robin Reetz

I’m an expat currently living between London and North Carolina. I'm the Home & Living Editor at Clementine Daily, handle partnerships and more at DesignGood, and create content for folks like Teen Vogue. Also, I love independent designers. Find out more about me here: http://secondfloorflat.com/about-me/

Bridge & Burn Fall 2016

It's been one week since the results of the U.S. election came through.

While I think there's danger in going back to normalcy too quick (since, as John Oliver will tell you, this is not normal), I do want to continue to use my platforms to support small businesses in every way that I can. Aside from just plain loving the goods that independent brands like Bridge & Burn produce, I think encouraging entrepreneurship and the growth of small-medium size businesses is one of the best things we can do for the economy and each other.

Bridge & Burn | Second Floor Flat

So. While I do have a lot to say about the state of this nation and the world, and I primarily want to champion women and those who need it most right now in all ways possible, I also don't want to lose my focus on giving some love to the very good independent brands out there.

Portland's Bridge & Burn being one of them – who already sets a fine example for all of us in their One Perfect For Good program.

I was lucky enough to work with these very good folks last year. Every single Bridge & Burn piece I own, I wear regularly – meaning maybe a little too much. Add to that rotation the OUTSIDER Tee (fittingly, the name of their fall campaign) and the Joyce in Charcoal and the inside of my closet is close to resembling their flagship store. 

BRIDGE & BURN OUTSIDER TEE, INDUSTRY STANDARD margot highrise jean, FARIS REST RING

BRIDGE & BURN OUTSIDER TEE, INDUSTRY STANDARD margot highrise jean, FARIS REST RING

But let's go back to the Joyce. Oh, the Joyce. This coat, picture below, has quickly become my number one fall jacket, thanks to its roomy fit, large pockets, and incredibly warm contrast lining.

As an honorary member of the constantly cold club, I generally end up layering all of my jackets to keep away the chill. Not here, folks – the Joyce has been the perfect companion in this sometimes freezing, sometimes hot November and, I'm sure it will continue to be as the weather cools off even more.

Bridge & Burn | Second Floor Flat
Bridge & Burn | Second Floor Flat
BRIDGE & BURN JOYCE COAT, LO & SONS PEARL BAG

BRIDGE & BURN JOYCE COAT, LO & SONS PEARL BAG

To help stimulate the economy a little bit and encourage some good old fashioned, made in America shopping, the good folks at Bridge & Burn are offering 10% off with code SECONDFLOOR10

If you're looking to take advantage of the discount, I completely recommend the Joyce. Not in the mood for outerwear? Go for the Ellis Pants – aside from being super soft and falling just so, they're also crazy flattering and will cause many a compliment.

Bridge & Burn | Second Floor Flat
Bridge & Burn | Second Floor Flat

And really, who couldn't use a little more positivity these days?

Shop Bridge & Burn with code SECONDFLOOR10 here, follow them here, and learn more about One Perfect For Good here

 

PSST: I received goods from Bridge & Burn that are worn in this post, but keep in mind this is a brand I love and want to support. Have questions? Let me know.


Shopping List: Fall 2016's Simplicity

The issue with being a self-declared minimalist in seasons like this one, early autumn of the year 2016 to be specific, is that it can be hard to keep your wardrobe's contents to a, well, minimum.

You'll try to build a seasonally-appropriate minimalist wardrobe opting for fewer, but better things, and find yourself in a bit of a pickle when you discover that there are just so many good emerging (and established) designers out there that the options are seemingly endless.

The problem is not a bad one – it's just that the talent out there is so good it can be hard to keep your shopping list at a minimum.

Boo hoo.

And so, with September temperatures cooling off those mornings and evenings...with a birthday looming and a personal commitment to keeping my gift requests practical (pay off my student loans, anyone?)...and with those sartorial goals raging hard, I've put together an ode to fall 2016's gorgeous, layerable simplicity in literal shopping list form.

The end result will be that either a) writing this post was enough to quench my thirst and will keep me from buying everything here and more

or

 b) I'll buy everything here and more.

We'll just have to see. In the meantime, here are a few favorite fall pieces:


Robin Reetz

I’m an expat currently living between London and North Carolina. I'm the Home & Living Editor at Clementine Daily, handle partnerships and more at DesignGood, and create content for folks like Teen Vogue. Also, I love independent designers. Find out more about me here: http://secondfloorflat.com/about-me/

Behind The Scenes With Alexis Mera

Many of the career-changing stories we hear about involve moving industries. Migrating from one space another seems the most story-worthy, and those stories are certainly everywhere – the tale of a big-city lawyer becoming a mindful ceramic artist, an overwhelmed doctor who becomes a teacher, or maybe a writer who decides to put their helping hands to a different kind of work and becomes a social worker. 

But big career changes aren't always the neatly -packaged, industry-jumping sort. Sometimes, they involve staying in the same industry and moving from one end of the spectrum to the other – and that's a change that can be just as big and sometimes feel even bigger.

Alexis Mera made that very jump in early 2015. Starting in product development, production, and merchandising in the sleepwear industry, she transitioned to entrepreneur, designer, and boss-gal business owner. Almost two years later and, though the brand is still in its early phases, it certainly seems like Alexis has survived that transition just fine.

Here, Alexis takes us behind the scenes of her Brooklyn-based line.

Behind The Scenes: Alexis Mera | Second Floor Flat

Tell me about the background of your line, Alexis Mera. How did it get started?

My background is in the sleepwear industry, with a focus in Merchandising, Product Development, and Production. I always wanted to have a business of my own, and while I wasn’t always sure what that business would be, I knew I wanted to have one.

After working in fashion for nearly a decade, starting my own line was a natural shift. When we launched in early 2015, the line started more as a loungewear concept, but loungewear that was meant to be seen. Very quickly after our launch, the line evolved more into an athleisure concept. Women were asking me if they can wear our Jogger Pants to yoga (the answer is of course, yes).  Athleisure is not only a clothing trend, it’s a lifestyle trend, and we are excited to be part of it.

Starting a project like this and watching it evolve is really amazing. We’re working on an amazing activewear capsule collection for Spring/Summer 2017. Stay tuned…   

 

Can you describe your creative process? How do you design a piece, from start to finish?

The line is very print driven with a few solid essentials layered in. The design process is not always the same for every piece or collection. Sometimes we find a print we love, then try to figure out which bodies it would work best for. Other times we see a silhouette that we know we need, and find a fabric or print to fill in.

For the most part, there's a lot of trend research before we start designing our next collection. There’s also a lot of analysis of previous prints/colors/styles. What’s most important to us is that our fabrics are extremely soft and comfy next to the skin – we want women to feel super comfortable in their AM gear. We’re known for our buttery soft fabrics and vibrant prints. After we’ve designed the collection we hit the road and go to trade shows, once we’ve received a reaction from the industry, stores, customers, and even friends, we decide what we will move forward with in production. 

Behind The Scenes: Alexis Mera | Second Floor Flat

Can you tell us what role fabrication plays in the design process? What about print?

Fabric quality plays a HUGE role in the design process. We have very strict standard for the fabrics that we use. We don’t like stiff or rigid fabrics, and are always working to find the softest fabric hand possible. As I mentioned above, we are very print driven, so each season we try to find 4 – 6 prints that we think our customers will love. 

 

You’re proudly a New York designer. How does your production process work, and why is it important to you to produce your collection in New York?

Production is probably my least favorite part of having a line. It’s not creative at all – you’re constantly problem solving, and it can be stressful at times. However, my background in production has really helped me here. A good production manager is like gold. There are so many moving parts, and I have learned SO much, whether it be about the construction of a garment, pattern making, sewing details, or even shipping. We currently produce our entire collection at a factory on West 36th Street in the Garment Center. Our factory also sews all of our samples, so when we go into production, it’s a pretty smooth transition as we’ve already perfected the sewing and fit.

Keeping my production in New York is a choice I’ve made mainly because of the control I have over the process. When an order is in production I stop by the factory at least once a week to check on things. It’s really great to be able to do that, because the level of quality control is unbeatable. It also helps to be able to communicate with the factory owner and other employees face to face, rather than via email. It makes the process much faster and more smooth. 

 

Is there a single piece that you feel quintessentially represents the brand?

We are known for or Cortelyou Jogger Pants. They are actually named after the street our studio is located off of in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

Behind The Scenes: Alexis Mera | Second Floor Flat

 

What’s one thing you’d want people to walk away knowing about your work?

My main goal is to make sure women feel comfortable in our line and feel comfortable in their own skin. We want you to just be you. 

Behind The Scenes: Alexis Mera | Second Floor Flat
Behind The Scenes: Alexis Mera | Second Floor Flat

And just for fun– 

If you weren’t living in New York, where would you live?

I was born and raised in New York State and have lived in NYC for 13 years now – and there’s no place like it. My husband is from Brazil, so maybe there? Or, my father is from Holland, so that would be another fun place to live for a while.

Who do you think is just killing it right now? An artist, designer, author, filmmaker, etc.

Beyoncé.

Won't argue there.

Shop Alexis Mera here, and follow her here and here, and find more independent designers to love and support through the directory which now has maybe 500 or so (?) emerging designers, artists, and retailers. Regardless, enjoy!


 

St. Agni

Her Swim, Hunter The Label, Carpenter's Daughter.

Australia has some of the freshest design talent out there, and to that list we can now add the endlessly beautiful St. Agni.

This Byron Bay-based footwear, accessory, and home goods line feels incredibly clean and necessary. St. Agni is supple leather, blonde wood, classic and comfort, over and over again. It's familiar but fresh, beautiful, and – my lord – so wearable.

It's currently scorching in New York (hello, mid-90s F), but the sleek NAO Mules are certainly on my late summer wishlist. Soft leather, a peep toe, and a low wooden heel?

Yes. Please. Here are a few more favorites:

St. Agni Hina Slides

5 Books That Will Change Your Mood

After the last few weeks, I've been craving a bit of a mood change. Call me crazy, but with everything going on lately I've wanted – needed – a wee bit of an escape. 

(Can you blame me?)

After reading "My Name Is Lucy Barton", I couldn't stop thinking about what it was that made the book so special. The writing was nice, the story was beautiful – heartbreaking, even – but all of these elements together took me to another place. Temporarily, of course, but another place still the same. 

And really, isn't that what we're all looking for with reading? A temporary journey to another place. An escape of sorts.

"Lucy Barton" is a beautiful story and a book that I consumed quickly and enjoyed reading. Thankfully, it's not the only book that I've loved for reasons I cannot name – these are books that transported me or made me feel just plain different, and I love them for that. Here are a few:

5 Books That Will Change Your Mood | Second Floor Flat

1. "The Girls" by Emma Cline

No doubt you've heard of this book. Actually, you may even be reading it right now. Or perhaps, like me, you read about it on Cup of Jo (or another favorite site of your choice), pre-ordered it, and consumed it as soon as it arrived. If you have, I salute you. If you haven't, let me fill you in: "The Girls" follows Evie Boyd as she gets through life as a 14-year-old (officially the worst) and fumbles in and out of a cult-like Northern California group. It's glorious and seedy and Manson Family-esque, but the most important thing about the story is the girls it surrounds – their obsessions with each other and themselves; their desire to belong.  I can't wait to read this again  and rejoin 14-year-old Evie's fantastically strange world.

 

2. "My Name Is Lucy Barton" by Elizabeth Strout

Lucy Barton quietly takes you and holds you close. The story takes place almost entirely in a hospital room and in this case, that's plenty. This is a subtly powerful read that will stay with you and make you want to cry for reasons you can't quite figure out. 

 

3. "Letters To A Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke

In what was one of the better birthday gifts I've ever received, a friend took me out to tea and gave me a copy of this book. It's plain, simple, and perfect – a must for any young creative, or really anyone at all. I read it, underlined almost everything, and have returned to it time and time again. 

 

4. "Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth" by Warsan Shire

Feminist poetry,  you know? Sometimes it just really hits you. Though I'm typically not a poetry type (whatever that means) this short collection of poems from now-famous, oft-googled, Beyonce-tribe member Warshan Shire is for real. Grab a copy or for pete's sake, at least borrow mine.

 

5. "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I recommend this book to people almost more than anything else. Reading this while living abroad taught me about loneliness, leaving family, and what it means (it was referenced in more than a few of my expat-related posts) but more than that, it gave me a different perspective on women, race, countries, cultures; our differences, and our similarities. Just read it, k? 

 

Whether you're looking for an escape of sorts or just a good-old fashioned summer read, I'd recommend picking up one of these, getting a little carried away, and then letting me know what you think. I clearly love talking about books, and would love to hear what you think as the smart, intelligent, interesting gal or guy I'm (pretty sure) you are. Happy reading!


Robin Reetz

I’m an expat currently living between London and North Carolina. I'm the Home & Living Editor at Clementine Daily, handle partnerships and more at DesignGood, and create content for folks like Teen Vogue. Also, I love independent designers. Find out more about me here: http://secondfloorflat.com/about-me/

Good Reads: 3 June 2016

Not so long ago, we got a dog. And now, we are officially dog people.

"Those people", even.

I'm trying hard to not be the girl (slash woman) who forces others into scrolling through pictures of her dog on her phone, or who tells boring stories about her dog's adorable habit of wagging her tail in her sleep, etc. But it's really, really hard not to. I can't even imagine how people with kids must feel.

That being said, recommendations for training, treats, and the rest are appreciated. And we'll leave the dog talk at that...for now.

This morning, I worked on something great with the ever-inspiring Rachel of The Style Line. Check her and the entire community out when you can – she showcases a lot of inspiring, creative, all around A+ women. Tonight, I'm hoping for some wine and good food under the stars (aka an outdoor table at a local restaurant) and tomorrow, I'm meeting the new beb of one of my long-time friends. So weird and great when your friends start having kids, right? Aren't we still in high school? (No? Ok.)

Wishing you guys a lovely weekend full of ice cream trucks, summer sandals, warm breezes, welcome AC blasts, good books, and better company.

these girls and their style are way too much in the best way possible.

warm weather means that i can't get these shoes and these shoes (and these and these and these) out of my mind.

and speaking of the warmer weather, i've been wearing my tantuvi culottes like it's my job.

weekend plans: hopefully making it to this exhibit tomorrow. 

other weekend plans: catching up on this collaboration between gloria steinem and viceland

currently reading this powerful book, which pretty much everyone should read.

three words that made my week: hot-dog princess

going to beyonncee on tuesday (I KNOW). what should i wear/buy/do other than keep freaking out?

 

favorite independent designer/retailer finds of the week:

a.m. thorne / bliss and mischief / st. agni / cocodune / ceri hoover / fair season / luz ortiz / mother's daughter / about arianne / gravel & gold / ozma


Robin Reetz

I’m an expat currently living between London and North Carolina. I'm the Home & Living Editor at Clementine Daily, handle partnerships and more at DesignGood, and create content for folks like Teen Vogue. Also, I love independent designers. Find out more about me here: http://secondfloorflat.com/about-me/