I guess turning 30 is a big deal. After the fact, not so much, but before, it can be either really exciting or really daunting. After 29, you're officially "adulting" and there's no turning back. Is there ever any turning back?
To celebrate I decided that I would mix the solo/private endeavors, with typical social endeavors. I realized that as an introvert, I want time and space to reflect but I also recognize the joy of having friends, and family around you who are supportive and rooting for you. Although, I've never been the most vocal about "buying Black," I do buy black. This means that I pay special attention to businesses that offer products and services that I want and need, and are also owned by Black people. In DC, there's so much entrepreneurial spirit among folks in general, and it's so nice to see Black artists, creators, and innovators participate in this blooming creative business culture in DC, MD, and VA. When planning the little things I wanted to do for myself in light of my 30th birthday, I paid special attention to black owned businesses that offered services I was looking for.
Gift One: Tattoo #3 from Imani K. Brown at Pinz-n-Needlez Tattoo.
I decided that I had to get my 3rd tattoo to commemorate many things: that I had failed to celebrate the past year: new job, new home, being fabulous, etc. After letting a year pass by without the tattoo I had wanted, I decided this was the perfect time to go for it. I knew that Pinz-n-Needles, a black owned tattoo and piercing shop located on the U Street Corridor in Washington DC, would pay special attention to my dark skin and give me expert advice on my tattoo aspirations. I wanted to look into the services of Imani K. Brown, especially, being one of the freshest black women tattoo artists in the area, if not the country, maybe?
I got the neatest little mehndi-inspired shoulder cap tattoo a birthday girl could ask for and got to show it off at da club!
Ms. Brown is also a graphic designer and illustrator who's been creating for over 10 years in the DC area and in Japan. She started the Little Ink Play Shop, a space where tattooing, kawaii culture, and Japanese-inspired art meet, all the while championing body positivity and female empowerment. Learn more and support Little Ink Play Shop here.
Gift Two: Cupcakes from Bake Sweet Love
I rarely touch cake, and cake-like desserts. Unlike the delicate bar of the deepest chocolate, or the fluffiest bowl of gelato, cake just seems too indulgent for me to eat, and not feel ashamed after eating it, BUT this is my birthday, so I decided to enlist Bake Sweet Love owner Ayana Patrick to create 2 dozen masterpieces of assorted gourmet cupcakes: Chocolate with Whipped Chocolate Ganache frosting, Vanilla Bean, with Salted Caramel frosting, Marble with Vanilla Chocolate Chip Frosting, Coconut with Lemon frosting. Yum! Patrick's creations, whether, cupcakes, the bite-sized "baby cakes," cake pops, or cookies are delicious and made with love, passion, and creativity.
Gift Three: Photo Shoot with Catherine Rae Photography
Professional photographer Miranda Drummond, is a god-send behind the camera. I knew I wanted to pursue my own vanity for my 30th, and she was very happy to oblige. I was a dork in front of the camera, but she managed to squeeze out the model in me. I will definitely be shooting with Miranda again.
I find that once in a while, it's okay to say, "I love my body." Since college, I have gained some weight, that I can't seem to shake, so I had to make a decision to love myself as I am while I make steady strides to a healthier, fitter lifestyle along the way. My portrait session was an affirmation.
See more of Miranda's work at catherineraephotography.com.