A couple weeks ago, I stepped into Paula’s apartment for a social media meeting. It was a wonderfully cluttered mess of books, magazine cutouts, dishes, boxes, and all of the whose-its and whats-its of a new clothing company. The scene was much more reminiscent of a teenage girl’s bedroom rather than a professional woman’s King West abode. I laughed to myself as I searched to find a free inch to place my coat. Paula was wrapping up a call on the other end of the apartment and motioned for me to join her. The disheveled space and slightly zany energy was definitely a sign of creative genius at work, takeout for sustenances, the overflow of pressing go on a passion project, and very few visitors (if any). “I’ve been living as a hermit,” she confirmed. I smiled and nodded my head knowingly. It was incredibly refreshing.
It’s not easy giving yourself permission to pursue a personal dream like starting your own clothing company. It may seem trivial, but letting the dishes pile up because you’d rather use the time to write or skipping a few social events so you can get the advantage on some looming deadlines is part of the grind of making your it happen. I know my mom would definitely roll her eyes at that line in memory of my adolescent years.
Mom, I can’t clean my room right now. I’m an artist!
Like I said, it may seem trivial but it’s certainly part of the process. So, yeah, I was inspired to see Paula, the founder and creator of Nopaulagies, in her messy apartment. She is doing what she loves with vigour, unraveling a new chapter of her journey and inviting myself and anyone else to tag along. Words, social commentary, and a few bold tees are her weapons of choice in the global dialogue on feminism, human rights, and life as we know it.
On January 21, I joined tens of thousands of people (and a few pet dogs) for the Women’s March in Toronto. It was a powerful experience to witness the sheer number of people standing together in solidarity with millions more in Washington D.C. and around the world. Together, we made our stance on equality clearly known. As I continue to grow and learn, I’m finding it increasingly important to respectfully engage in politics and be an active citizen. I cannot be silent. I want people to know I’m a feminist. I want people to know I’m opposed to racism and bigotry. I want people in marginalized communities to know that they have an ally in me. I want us to share our stories. I want to us to feel safe to share our stories. I can no longer pretend I don’t see and hear what’s happening around me. Passive observance or willful ignorance isn’t for me.
So, I’ll wear a feminist tee, pursue projects that make an impact, write things down publicly, and have important conversations with those who are like me and different to create a more positive, progressive, and inclusive culture.
Sure it’s a challenge, but I’m hopeful.
By Kailah Bharath