lifestyle, personal stories

Moving Forward…

In June, I left you all with a post entitled 'Where Do We Go From Here?' as I made the decision to take a few weeks off from the blog to rest, reset and reevaluate. Not only in my business, but with a lot of life questions that were on my mind, too. Since March, there have been huge shifts happening everywhere - from our global community, to our most intimate circles - and I felt like it was necessary for me to step away from the daily flood information to process everything.

Our family had already planned on taking a two week vacation in June (well, more like a relocation of our day to day quarantine activities) by the beach. I decided to take that time to sit in all the emotions and information of the past few months. To feel them entirely. To succumb to them so that I could move forward with them instead of letting them overwhelm me. I read books on anti-racism work. I researched and dreamed on ways in which this blog could evolve. I asked myself a lot of questions. I listened. I observed. I tried to soak in the quiet time without expectation of answers. To be able to enjoy this kind of space for two weeks was absolute privilege and I acknowledge that greatly.

The time away definitely gave me space to prioritize and organize a bit, but - I'll be honest - by the time we came home I still didn't have all the answers. I also realized that maybe that's okay. See, I'm the type who thrives on big sweeping change, not baby steps. But right now I feel like baby steps are what I need to get to the big change. Big changes in our community, in my businesses, and in our country. Some of these bigger steps I'll share with you eventually, but for the sake of not writing you a novel today, I want to share one major change that I'm experiencing and observing: People are showing up as their full selves on their platforms, and I'm here for it.

What do I mean by that?

No longer am I here as just a blogger, or a stylist, or a designer or an influencer. I am here as a human being in this world, full of anxieties, challenges, opinions, and my own unique experiences. This has always been the case, but I haven't always allowed myself to vocalize it the way that I am now. Between the struggles we have faced during this pandemic, the call to dismantle our country's racial and social injustices, and the current political climate that seems to get crazier by the day... it's nearly impossible to operate with a 'business as usual' attitude. There is nothing usual about this year. We all know it. And we are talking about it.

I said in an email to a new friend this week that each day feels like an ongoing reckoning. A questioning of our values, a mirror being held up to our faces. This is hard work, but it's good work. Dramatic change is here, and 2020 is challenging us to evolve.  To be better and do better. It's demanding not only our attention, but action, in places that have been neglected for far too long.

So how does this affect this space?

Needless to say, there will be some updates to the way things work around here. No, this will not turn into a political blog, or even a personal journal. While I'll definitely be expressing myself more candidly, Coco Kelley will absolutely remain a lifestyle blog. These are topics that bring me joy, and home design, entertaining and travel (when we return to it) will always be what you see here. What we will be doing is presenting these topics with more intention through my commitment to three things:

  1. I am committed to lifting up Black-owned businesses and creatives by featuring them organically on this platform. I am aware that the lens through which I form my posts is that of a white woman born into a society where I am automatically granted privilege. Because of this, I am personally taking ongoing steps to educate myself on the ways in which the topics of home ownership, design, travel, and other subjects covered here on Coco Kelley are biased, so that that my posts can be written from a place of educated awareness. I recognize that the design industry especially is sorely absent of BIPOC voices, and I want to bring those voices and their talents and aesthetics to the table more often. This also goes for other marginalized communities in the design industry.
  2. I am committed to highlighting and prioritizing more features of small businesses and their products. We have all seen firsthand the impact of this pandemic on our communities, and it has definitely been felt the most by small businesses. While I've always supported this creative community around Seattle (and beyond!) in my personal shopping, that hasn't always been reflected in my blog posts, especially lately. In full transparency, one of the few ways in which I continue to make a profit off of this platform is by using affiliate links, which are typically attached to larger companies. While you will continue to see some of those links for now, I am committing to balancing them with smaller businesses while taking the time to highlight more makers and artists through posts like our 'Style Source' series. Our Editor's Picks will offer a balance of both large stores and small businesses. And I have some fun ideas for collaborations with small businesses in Seattle and beyond that I can't wait to share.
  3. I am committed to working with businesses who give back to global and local communities, businesses with sustainable practices, and businesses committed to equity and social justice work. I would like to think that I've always been pretty good at declining to work with companies with whom I don't align. Whether aesthetically or value based, I've absolutely turned down projects in the past where I've felt like it's not a good fit. But I will fully admit that I haven't always been proactive about researching every company that I do say yes to. Moving forward, I will be asking for where businesses stand on all of these topics before accepting partnerships and sponsorships with them. I know that this will be an imperfect practice as we wrap up some partnerships that we've previously committed to, and I know that it may be challenging going forward, but I at least want to engage in these conversations with brands before working together.

My biggest challenge and responsibility as someone with a platform has always been how to present inspiring content while also highlighting products, people and spaces that align with my values. How to make design accessible and inspirational. I believe that by implementing more conscious content, I we can support these values with our words, reach, and dollars. I'm 100% aware that these are big promises, and I will probably fail along the way. Please know that I am doing the best I can, with the time and resources I have. It's just me over here, plugging away every day behind the scenes. I welcome your feedback and suggestions for making this a more inclusive and conscious space.

*As a side note, I am taking intentional steps in my personal anti-racism work. I may not vocalize these learnings every day, but please know that that work is happening behind the scenes. If you are looking for more anti-racism resources, you can refer to my Instagram highlight 'Do the Work', and follow my Instagram stories as well. There are a number of amazing Black women offering anti-racism workshops, like Rachel Cargle, Monique Melton, and Rachel Ricketts, and I highly encourage you to find a teacher who resonates with you, listen to their voices, pay for their courses, and keep learning. For my design friends, I also recommend reading my friend Kennesha's blog post on being a Black woman in the blogging and design world, and follow Black Interior Designers Network for more information on being an ally in the design space. I could say so much on this topic, but will leave you today with these quick comments... to be continued.