Interview by Lauren Ash and Zakkiyyah Najeebah
Welcome to the first of many spotlight features on some of our favorite contemporary creatives whose work is inextricably intertwined to their self-care and wellness practices and their self-identity. First up? Chelsea Bravo, menswear designer hailing from London who we had the pleasure of spending time with at last year's NYC Afropunk. Enjoy, and follow Chelsea Bravo on her journey on her Instagram (@chelseabravo_) and on her website: chelseabravo.com.
Zakkiyyah: How have you developed a workspace for/around your brand?
Chelsea: I’ve worked on creating a space that is peaceful, inspiring and clear. I enjoy open space, lots of natural light and a sunny and warm ambience which works hand in hand with my creative process as a designer.
Lauren: Do you gain inspiration from the natural environment for the menswear pieces you craft?
Chelsea: Yes, I do very much so. I love things that are natural and tactile, raw and seemingly unfinished. Another source of inspiration comes from art and artists, I am inspired by both their finished work as well as the process the artist went through to get there. I’m obsessed right now with the notion of being able to perceive the artist’s spirit within their work; what were they feeling, what were they thinking and what are they saying through their piece and wanting to create this same experience within my own work.
Zakkiyyah: What is your visioning process for creating? Do you use a vision board? A mood board? What does this process look like?
Chelsea: I print out and stick up any inspirational images, findings, notes to myself, sketches and fabrics on my wall. I use my walls and the space around me as my vision/mood board, sometimes I’ll leave a book opened up on the floor or desk on a certain page with words that inspired me or an image. I like to think of my space as an open sketchbook.
Lauren: How do you set the ambiance when you’re creating? What music, scents, rituals, do you implement before or during your artistic practice?
Chelsea: I love to burn nag champa incense! It’s my one of my favourite scents. I’ll usually burn incense at the start and end of my day to signal to my mind that we are beginning or ending or if I need to regain focus during the day. Sage is also something I love to use at the end of my day, to cleanse the energy in my space in preparation of the new day ahead. In relation to music, during the day and whilst I’m creating I listen to a lot of earth/nature inspired sounds, Carlos Nakai is currently a favourite and Alice Coltrane if I want a bit more funk. I prefer to listen to music without words when creating as it keeps me focused on what I’m working on in that moment.
Lauren: Where do you see Chelsea Bravo heading? In one year, in five, and in ten?
Chelsea: I see the brand growing. I’ve gone through a lot of changes inwardly over the last 12 months, which has influenced how I now wish to work and how I direct the brand. My focus right now is on product and e-commerce; to cultivate and build a loyal customer base, then I’ll return to the madness of fashion week, presentations and showcases.
Zakkiyyah: Why did you decide to invest in menswear and not womenswear? And what has that experience been like?
Chelsea: I decided to invest in menswear when I did because at the time menswear was a very boring place. I felt like everything that could be done had been done in womanswear and I liked the challenge of creating something new for men; I saw it as an open playing field to be creative and to test and bring forth new ideas. However, I love us women and I love being a woman! And I want to create for us also. I’m excited to say that I am launching my first set of jersey unisex pieces very soon!
Lauren: How does your creative process relate to your holistic wellness journey?
Chelsea: In so many ways, they both go hand in hand. As I evolve and grow inwardly I see the shifts happening not just in how I create but in the way I want to create. As I take the time to connect with myself through journalling, meditation, dance and yoga, the more I create from a place of peace, a place of love, and a place of truth. Creating and wanting to create from those places in the industry I’m in isn’t easy but it is powerful. They are the very things that I want to be seen and known for, not just right now but forever.