Sweet Synchronicity in Dar Es Salaam

I flew to Tanzania after 8 months of creating specialty jewelry for Black Panther. I had this deep desire to visit this country for 3 years after a series of dreams. The initial plan was to create a wearable art project sharing the stories of a women's nonprofit in Arusha that I partnered with. The organization unfortunately closed and the project fell through. Even though the project was indefinitely postponed, I still had this urge to go and I felt like it was perfect timing.  This place that had been consistently drawing me for some unbeknownst reason.  Since my project fell through, I had no reason to go but after working on such a dynamic, inspirational, culturally significant project and a birthday approaching, I chose to dive into that experience. So I went to Tanzania.

After a week long trip of exploring the gorgeous island of Zanzibar, sitting and having hour long conversations with Muslim men about the importance of henna and the niqāb in their culture, my fascination with them, meeting new friends, and exploring Dar, I didn't feel like my trip was complete. I had no desire to return home. A best friend told me she would be in Cape Town and I should consider visiting her so...after many freak outs, fears about money, and asking others what they think (a habit that I've released), I cancelled my return flight to Los Angeles (I actually decided a few hours before my scheduled that I wasn't going to leave) and let life engulf me and take me to unplanned, beautiful people and events. Scary? YES!!!! But I knew something good was approaching.

My intention was to capture some creative shots of jewelry I made while there but it wasn't working out. Suggested photographers were out of town, no-show on meetings, it just wasn't working out. For a moment, I released the idea and decided to enjoy my time.

 On my trip from Zanzibar to Dar As Salaam, I had a vision of an outfit. Boom. A full, detailed outfit. The main building blocks were some bangles I had and fabric.

I created it. I took an evening, turned on music and created into the early morning and made the jewelry in this visual stamp, lost in the flow of creativity until was completed then followed with searching for a photographer. The search wasn't quite turning out as expected so I let it go. 

A few days later, I was invited to a yacht party. I definitely didn't think my leap of faith would lead me to a yacht party. I had never been on a yacht and had only been on a boat twice in life so I was more than excited to go.

While admiring the seafoam, turquoise hue of endless water in amazement that this experience wasn't me visioning or journaling my desires but this was my reality,  I hear, "Excuse me".... 

I was approached by this beautiful woman who was holding a camera on her side.  She asked me if I was a model. I told her that I modeled for my own work but had yet to model for others much. She expressed that she was shooting for a jewelry designer that Thursday and Expressed interest in my participation. I was leaving on Tuesday so I wouldn't be able to. 

I showed her my work and asked her it would be possible to collaborate on a shoot before I left. She looked at the image on my phone, looked at me, and said....yes, how can we make it work. 

She showed me her instagram page and a tear came to my eye.  A few weeks prior to my trip,  I wrote in my journal how much I wanted to shoot with a fine art photographer. I wanted to create with someone who saw me and my work as a sculpture. Someone who could see my beauty but would take it a step further than beauty and create emotion with me by incorporating texture, colors, shadow, lighting, and composition it was what I truly desired.

She was a fine art photographer. 

We made it work.

We met the following day.

We shot.

We got her Bajaji driver to jump in a few of our shots 

We wrapped.

There was such a synergy between the photographer and me. It was magical and effortless.  There were moments where she directed a pose that I didn't understand but once I saw the images, it it a striking image.

This is where I bring this story to a close.....

At the end of the shoot, we are chatting about how synchronistic and fun our shoot was and she says.....

You really should speak to the jewelry designer I work with. She has a npo (non-profit organization) that works with a group of women. Her work provides them with jobs and resources.  

My jaw dropped.

Although my initial plan years ago did not work out, my willingness to leap placed opportunities in my path that I would not have access to if I didn't follow that gut feeling. 

Another lessoned learned. Follow my gut.

Please enjoy our work. You'll find that the Birthright Bangles incorporated into the design.