Germany Is Hot For 15 Days A Year

A wedding of a dear friend brought me to spend a couple of weeks in Europe this summer. The trip started in Germany. I went a little early before the wedding started to spend time with her and help out with prep for the wedding. She lives about an hour outside of Stuttgart in a small town called Backnag. The wedding took place in Schwabisch Hall which is where the groom is from. There was a small town and the surroundings were a bit more rural. The wedding was a combination of German, Bosnian, and American traditions. 

Next we spent a day in the Western wine region called Pfalz. There we went to a few wineries and drove around the country side while exploring a few of the small towns. The landscape was truly beautiful set among all the vineyards. We spent the night in Kaiserslautern and the next day we were off to Berlin! 

You see, Germany is hot for about 15 days a year so there is no air conditioning anywhere. You better believe we were there during that heat wave. Actually most of our trip was during unseasonably hot weather. We decided not to really do any touristy things, but instead just explore by walking around. 

I remembered seeing on social media that my old friend from Pratt had moved to Berlin. We hadn’t been in touch for quite some time, but I wrote to him in Instagram and we met up the next day for coffee. It was like no time had passed and we just picked up where we left off. That turned out to be such a pleasant surprise of Berlin. He was describing the neighborhoods to us. He mentioned that the young hip people will move into an edgy neighborhood and stay there to settle. So those areas get a bit gentrified and then turn into an area with hip parents and kids. Until, its the next neighborhood’s turn. So, right now Neukolln is a little on the edgier side and still pretty raw in my eyes. 

Some of the neighborhoods we hit included: Mitte, Museum Island, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Neukolln, Tiergarten

Recommendations for food and drinks: Limonadier, Umami, Amrit, Monsieur Voung, Silo Coffee

Thus ended our time in Germany - next up: Malta!

Threads by Tea X Studio Strata

There are some people out there who just bring people together. My dear friends Eliezer Santiago and Tiphani Benbow are those people. I’m not even sure how it came up in conversation, but I’m sure it was related to the fabric I was designing - Elie mentioned “you’ve got to meet my friend Tea.” So there we were at Koffee? On Audobon St in New Haven and I just felt like it was the right moment for all of this creative energy to meet. Tiph and Elie ended up buying a one way ticket to Thailand, but Tea and I have continued to grow and develop both our friendship, but also this collaboration. 

With a tag line of wearable art created to empower and inspire, I knew this was the perfect fit of a designer for me to work with. 

Upon meeting Tea, I felt like I was taken aback by this air of coolness that engulfs the space he takes up. As we have continued to get to know each other and continue our “business meetings” we have really grown into forming a beautiful friendship. A friendship and partnership of designer and his muse. His humble nature paired with a presence that just makes a statement wherever he goes is something to reckon with. We make a good team. I think I’m a little more outgoing with making the connections and networking where as Tea literally has to do nothing and it just happens automatically. 

I can’t exactly remember when we met or how he picked out some fabric to buy from me, but it just always flowed nicely. He’s bought many yards of fabric from me now over time and I’m always playing a game of “where’s waldo?” But instead “where’s studio strata?” with searching for my fabric. 

Recently, we both attended the Essence Streetstyle Festival in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for New York Fashion Week. Tea and another friend Jason were both wearing outfits designed and constructed by Tea with Studio Strata fabric. I threw on a Threads lace cardigan with my Erica Zapp necklace, and hat from a clothes swap and was ready to take on this event in the dreary grey rain. Damn, did we make a statement and a little bit of noise. We were getting stopped all over the place for people to photograph us. At first I definitely felt a little shy, but a little bit into the event I think I found my groove and got into it. 


I am gonna go ahead and say it: I like Montreal bagels better than New York bagels. I love food rivalry and if something is described to me as Sally’s vs. Pepe’s, I am so on board. We got bagels from St. Viateur first and ate them in the alley as one is supposed to. Then on the last day we got bagels from Fairmount. I am not exactly sure if I could tell the difference, but I couldn’t stop eating them. Montreal included a whole lot of walking and exploring, good eats and drinks, hiking up Mont Royal, and just basking in the sun a little. The trip would not be complete without some art so we hit up Musee des Beaux Arts of course. I felt like we could have used a couple extra days to experience a few of the other neighborhoods, but we loved it and definitely need to go back during the summer months!



Pilsen and YJA

The end of school finished up in a bit of a whirlwind. Things like the party bike and union party come to mind. But, I felt like I was almost busier after school got out than during the school year. How does that even happen!? 

Next up was beginning to prep for my trip to Chicago. I ended up in Pilsen a few days early and stayed in THE cutest Airbnb. My room was inside of an art gallery and the owner cooked me breakfast each day. Pilsen originally was the Czech neighborhood, but has turned into the Mexican neighborhood since then. This meant the absolute best noms. The first meal I ate was at Los Comales and for five bucks I got a vegetarian Gordita and a Jarritos. How can you even beat that. For dinner I was flying solo so I went to the bar Pl zen which was the Czech spelling of the neighborhood. There I had some veggie tostadas which were just so amazing with the most evolved flavors. I was looking for a drink not too sweet so I asked the bartender what she recommended. I got a hibiscus margarita which just the right flavor balance. The next one she made with Mezcal and that was absolutely spot on. Next day after my host made me breakfast, I was off to meet a childhood friend in south loop. We had brunch at a spot called Yolk and walked around a bit. Dinner was back in Pilsen at a new restaurant called S.K.Y. and boy did it not disappoint. I would highly recommend that one! Since it was also the fourth of July I encountered a lot of fireworks and it literally sounded like bombs were going off outside of my bedroom windows. They were so rogue and so amazing. We went up to 18th St station to watch them and the combination of rain and wind is exactly how I expected a Chicago fourth of July to be. Next day it was time for the Mexican Art Museum and if you ever end up in Pilsen, it is a must see. Things like neon signs of “Make Tacos Not War” and the most amazing Diego Rivera’s along with some more local artists. 

Before I knew it, I was taking a train over to the Westin O’hare for the Young Jains of America Convention. I was invited to speak at the convention after writing an article for their publication. I guess they liked what I had to say about being an artist growing up in the Jain community. Originally, I was going to tie in my abstract work to a Jain principal. But, my go to person Neelam told me not to force. That made my life a lot easier. I conducted three sessions and ran them all the same way. I started off with a Keith Haring drawing game. I posted up four huge sheets of paper to the walls and had the kids count off by fours to create the groups. I am referring to them as kids like my students, but the reality is that the Jain Networking Forum group was just about my age. After this game was over I had everyone take their seats and I went through my little slide show. I basically had some pictures taking them through a journey from end of high school through my current day life. Two of the sessions ended with a theater game however, the college discussion went so well that we didn’t even have time for a last game. 

I felt like the sessions went pretty well. All the people seemed pretty engaged and participated with everything. Each audience held some people who were perusing a career in the arts and I think it was a little cathartic for all of us to have found people who struggled with similar things. One interesting thing did happen during the high school session. They all agreed they were creative, but no one was really going to go to college for a creative field. The session included all girls and one boy. When I had the group unpack this a really backwards mindset came forward. They told me that girls go into more liberal arts fields whereas boys may tend to go into more of a STEM career. I am still thinking about this sentiment. It made me wonder what kind of a bubble some of these kids were growing up in. That is really not my reality nor one that I grew up with. Looking back on my experience with the Jain community, we were really progressive. Even down to a thing like not doing ghee bohli ever. I mean our high school patshala teacher used to be an atheist and brought a really different perspective to all the discussions we had. 

But, this is how the mindset is going to change. Starting these conversations and opening people’s minds is how we are going to end up with more south east asians in the creative fields. I didn’t truly feel like I could BE an artist until my summer after graduating from undergrad while I was at Oxbow. I want the Indian community to know they can pursue the field. It is definitely not going to be the safe choice and you have to work so hard to make sure you are the best at your craft and hone your skill. But, it will leave you infinitely more happy. 

Meet Jivi x Studio Strata

Remember that magical trip to Asheville? 

Well part of the reason why it was so fun is because my childhood friend Nirav somehow remembered the exact day we were going and the morning of us flying out I get a message. 

“Hey Meghan, we are gonna come meet up with you”

Luckily our friend bailed on the trip and we had room in our Airbnb and these two brothers came to hang. 

Not too long before meeting, Meet Jivi was founded. I think by that point I had started using the products and it changed my skin so drastically. Using that one product repeatedly pretty much eliminated my breakouts and my skin was glowing as my mom often commented. I have believed in using chemical free products for some time now, but they are so expensive. When I saw the prices on Meet Jivi, I was so thrilled. Every product is under $20. That’s a big deal and makes it even more marketable to a young audience. Because not gonna lie some of us are broke sometimes, but still wanna look good and support local. It's also so safe its actually edible. 

We talked a lot of shop, about marketing, user interface, and just bouncing around ideas. We found Jivi Blue around Asheville and had to take pictures. For some reason we woke up kinda early the next day. So we were out on the street taking a picture during the best lighting of a Jivi Blue house. We then did a scent test for the next seasonal moisturizer. This turned into a collab with Studio Strata. 

When I got back to New Haven, I sent over some images of my work. Nirav and Nikhil picked out their favorite that would suit the project and ended up using my favorite scent as well. Then they just took off. The only way to describe the packaging is divine. It was so lux and just so well done. The package came with the bottle of moisturizer, a print of the artwork with some text on the back, and a little card saying where a meal was donated. OH ya, every bottle purchased they donate a meal to a local food bank. 

I mean if you’re still reading, what’s there not to love? You’re going to go oder something now, right!?

Side note, I know Nirav and Nikhil because our dads were roommates on Prospect St in New Haven when they were both bachelors. So, we go waaay back. 

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