Living La Vida De Moda: Maria Del Carmen Mercado

A year ago when I wrote an article called Meet Local Fashion Designer Maria Del Carmen Mercado for my internship. We’ve been in touch since I sat down with Maria in Dave’s Coffee Shop in Providence, but I decided to write a follow-up article (a whole year later) about the Dominican Republic-born, Providence-based fashion designer.

“I didn’t choose fashion, fashion chose me.”

Maria recalls the days where her career as a designer, and essentially, a creative began: “My story of a fashion designer or creative began as a child, where I would sew the clothes for my dolls and my friends’ dolls, and everything around me was usually transformed into dolls.  For example, mango seeds. I would usually paint a face on them with nail polish and they would become my dolls. [My] business also started early; I would make doll clothes and trade them for candy or coins.”

Her curiosity for fashion and particularly the art of movement peaked when she was in high school. “I was involved in after-school art programs and activities.  But it wasn’t until high school where I started to work after school in a clothing store.  I also modeled with two agencies and started to draw clothes.  During this time I became very curios why the clothing that I loved never fit correctly so during my time in my job I would put close attention to the fabrics that I handled, the details of the clothes but most importantly, I would ask myself how would I change the garment to make it fit me the way I liked,” says Mercado. And because of this experience, she likes to work with clients to give them the perfect jacket, wedding dress, bathing suit, etc that fits them just right.

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After graduating high school, she received a scholarship to attend the Rhode Island School of Design pre-college program (concentrating on fashion), where she built a portfolio and eventually got into her first-choice college: The Fashion Insitute of Technology in New York, New York where she graduated as a fashion design major in 2007.

“Fashion is a form of expression, my own personal way to see a shape or garment.  It is my way to represent a body’s figure.  To me, fashion is away of life. Things become shapes, color and structure.  It’s a way of putting attention to the details around me.  For example, my opinion on politics, history and culture. Fashion is thinking outside the box. It is knowing when to listen to your intuition and being able to recognize what is and isn’t there.”

If you are thinking about a career in fashion design, Mercado does have a few words of wisdom for you: “First I want to say that fashion is NOT what you see in the magazines, another word is NOT just glamour.  Just like a doctor or engineer, there are certain things that a fashion designer needs to learn.  In my opinion, to be a good fashion designer, I feel education is key.  Even if you are wealthy how would you communicate what you want to the pattern maker or the seamstress or most importantly, how would you know the difference between a patterned sleeve or a skirt?  To be a fashion designer there are so many components that you need to learn that you can’t learn by watching youtube channels.  Pattern making, draping, fashion illustration, color theory,  are just a few things that are a must for a fashion designer.”

Mercado continues: “to be a great fashion designer you need to be adventurous, willing to take risks and be different.  Learn to look within yourself and make decisions that YOU feel that work.  You need to have the confidence to turn off the voices and follow your heart.  I feel that the best direction is to design what I feel is correct NOT what is trendy.  I believe that you can’t teach someone how to be an artist but they can learn the technical side and the best way is through formal education.  Being an artist is seeing and feeling beyond what’s there, how can you teach that?”

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When asked what her favorite part of being a designer was, she said she enjoys every aspect of it! But that isn’t to say, that there aren’t times when she doesn’t have creator’s block. When she does get creator’s block, she doesn’t go by what other people are creating or what’s “in style,” at the moment. She just moves on to another project or takes a walk to recharge and refresh her mind. That also isn’t to say that she doesn’t get critical with herself, either, which she said is a weakness of hers.

“Although I am much better now, but it took awhile to realize that no one is going to give my brand 100% but me.  MDCM designs are my feelings, the way I see things, my way of life.  Realizing that no one but me could convey this has helped me a great deal, most importantly excepting that perfect does not exist.”

With that being said, in the fashion world, one is always learning, making mistakes, taking risks, and finding themselves through their work!

To view Maria’s website, click here  and to shop, go to http://www.mariadelcarmenmercado.shop! Thank you, Maria, for the interview and for your powerful, impactful words of advice!

***Photographers of the design images are @gabinichi and @denzzzadd from ristudio504.com — check out their work! 

 

Fight For Your Dreams, Fight The Patriarchy, And Support One Another In The Process

Every Academy Award show, year after year, there are speeches that may as well go down in history, especially this past award show. I would have liked to compile a “top ten best dressed: Oscars 2019,” but there is more that needs to be said.

Can we all just be in awe of the fact that Lady Gaga is halfway towards being an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner)!? That’s right, for those who missed it, Lady Gaga won an Oscar for “Best Original Song.” Everyone around me questioned Lady Gaga when I was growing up, but I’ve always liked her for being different. I read magazines that reported, “oh, she just likes the attention.” No. She embodies theater and performance. Don’t get me wrong, we’re supposed to question everything in life, and no one can exactly stop anyone for having opinions. But one thing is true is that opinions should be backed up by fact and not plain prejudice and self-importance.

Moreover, this part of her acceptance speech struck a chord of truth in me:

“If you have a dream, fight for it. It’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or get beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand, are brave and keep on going.”

Oftentimes, I find myself questioning (there’s that word again!) my future based on what people say to me. Granted, especially if you’re in the arts, you’re going to have critics. I have/had many critics, no matter what the situation. But I’ve kept on going. I auditioned for dance theatre last month, and auditioned for two dances for the dance club and didn’t get into either one of them. But it was no belittlement of my talent because I know that I put in the effort and I tried. They even took the time to acknowledge how much effort I put in. I hated that people tried to talk me down from being “too passionate” when dancing. In fact, having passion while dancing is a good thing.

I then saw this Facebook post, post-victory and it was a picture of Gaga with a quote from her above it that read:

“I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a grammy, never have a hit and hoped I’d fail. I said to him ‘someday, someday when we’re not together anymore, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.”

Did I mention some idiot she went to college with made a Facebook group titled, “Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous?”

I know both those feelings all too well — to have people close to me not supporting me and, instead, hoping that I’d fail or do less. And I do recall being added to a random-ass Facebook group as a joke by people I didn’t even know in eighth grade. Who knows? There were probably Facebook groups or group chats solely made to diss me. Again, I don’t know, and I never will.

And my point? What you say will come back to unapologetically bite you. But I’m not here to give you karmic facts.

Also, today also happens to be International Women’s Day — one of my favorite days of the year! No, really, it is. I’m also very excited to announce that I will be returning to RWU next year as VICE PRESIDENT, for the second year in a row, of the Women’s Collective for Violence Prevention and Victim Empowerment!!! I remember, at my previous college, I tried to start a women’s empowerment group, and to this day, I feel like I failed my interested peers because of the illnesses that overcame my life that semester. When I first announced it to my (then) class group on Facebook, it was mocked. I was often labeled a “third-wave feminist,” but that was just one source of ridicule on my ever-growing feminism. But look at me now! I could go completely off-topic if I wanted to, but I shall not.

But my point is? Instead of tearing each other down, support one another and build each other up. Many people have tweeted this, so much that it should just be a rule of thumb, at this point. Envy and hatred are never in style, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a fashion blogger (see what I did there?) It’s true, no matter what gender you are. Don’t write-off someone’s vision as “stupid” or something that should be “held off,” but a possibility. Who knows? That vision could be a good idea to others.

 

Cheers To Two Years Of This Blog

First of all, HAPPY TWO YEARS TO THIS BLOG! Remember when it used to be “Redheaded Ambition?” I do, too. Second, thank you so much to the readers who have been with me throughout this journey of expression. Thank you to my parents (especially my mom) for giving me this idea, and especially to those who encouraged me to keep writing.

I remember when I first started this blog, I was not in a good place in my life. But this was a point where I was starting to become my own person and not give a f**k about what people would think about me/my decisions, and I’ll be honest, some decisions were better than others (e.g. dying my hair a dark brown — yikes!) Yet again, we are human.

I’m at a much better place in my life right now and am truly enjoying the work I’m doing. I also remember when writing this blog, I was trying to be THE boss-ass bitch by doing everything I could’ve ever done with my time. I remember looking at a photo of myself wearing a Madrid baseball cap, green plaid scarf, typical black leggings look with Hunter Boots holding a pumpkin spice latte from Dunkin Donuts sticking my tongue out, and I couldn’t help but think: “I’m in a new place (literally), with a new mindset, with the same deep-red nail polish and same coffee obsession.”

I remember writing The Art of Communication and thinking about how angry I was while initially writing it that summer. Then came the day I started this blog and I was actually ready to put it out there.

Also, while reflecting, I’m going to be honest (as always.) I went against what I preached in THE FASHION DIARIES: Wedding Attire And Getting Real About Love and tried a dating app (I’m not going to say which one.) My advice after the ordeal I went through this past month? Don’t do it. Never would I ever have thought I’d be the one to break things off with a guy, but my other piece of advice is KNOW.  YOUR. WORTH. The reason why I didn’t post this on time was that of this guy who took advantage of my precious time. It’s actually super funny because whenever I’m in my last full year at a school, I have “things” with guys. Moreover, my job as a blogger/influencer/woman is to empower other young women (and even men) that may be going through what I have gone through.

Moral of the story: thank u, next (best song EVER.)

Another funny thing? I was going through something like this two years ago when starting this blog (different circumstances, of course.) I always compare myself to Carrie Bradshaw, but in this case, I feel like Miranda because she, like the rest of the “quad,” are powerful women. But my favorite thing about Miranda is that she never accepted anything less than she deserved.

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And going off of that gif, she never apologized for her success. 💪 One more thing before I wrap up this blog post is that she has supportive friends. And I’m beyond thankful for each and every one of my friends who has supported me throughout all areas of my life.

I love you all, and from now on, I’m dedicating myself to empowerment and, of course, writing!

xoxo

April 💋❤

 

 

Thoughts On Being Taken For Granted

I’ve seen a few posts on Facebook about this topic, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on this unfortunate subject on being taken for granted.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not have to be perfect, but I do not deserve to be treated as less than I am. As a woman, I believe it is not my job to aspire to marriage. However, when (or if) I do decide to get married or be in any relationship, I refuse to be taken for granted.

As said, I watched this video on Facebook about a husband and wife. The woman does absolutely everything around the house, including getting their young daughter to school on time, making lunch, and even making her husband’s favorite dinner, which he completely rebuffs because, supposedly, the house is “filthy.” He asks his wife, “what did you do all day?” in retaliation. Are you kidding me!? 

We’ve all been there — no matter if you’re male or female. It feels like we do everything for someone or a group of people and they just completely rebuff our efforts to please them (I’m not talking in a sexual way.) Or, they simply don’t think what you’re doing is “enough” (that could actually be taken in a sexual context.)

When I first started this blog, I turned to one of my favorite principles: “If you can’t take it anymore, then give.” I’m certainly not who I was two years ago when I wrote my first blog post on “the Art of Communication.”

There are times when I definitely feel like my efforts aren’t good enough for other people. But the thing is, and I encourage you all to do this: do it for yourself. About a week ago, I led a community connections trip for incoming freshmen at RWU, and I must say, bonding with the first-year students was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I didn’t apply to be a site leader because it’ll “look good on a resume,” I did it because service is a huge part of my life, and I wanted to be among the many people who want Rhode Island communities to feel appreciated.

If you feel like you’re being taken for granted, just know that there are people out there that do/will appreciate your hard work. This also kind of goes along with another blog post of mine, The Two Tips To Achieve Self Love.

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I quoted this in another blog post, and I’ll quote it again, (because TBH when am I NOT pulling a quote out of my butt?) “Your twenties are your selfish years.” Yes, you have to be selfish sometimes, but not so much that you completely take everything and everyone you’ve ever known for granted. Take a minute and pray, or even better, as soon as your feet hit the ground in the morning, say “thank you.” And with every step you take afterwards, say “thank you.” You only get one life. Tell those workers at Starbucks (I’m talking to you, RWU students 😜) “thank you,” or that one professor who listened to your problems “thank you.” A little appreciation goes a long way. It’ll make someone’s day. (Sorry that rhymed 🤣) Heck, even thank Mother Nature for how nice the weather was today (if it was nice — I don’t know where you are in the world!)

If you know me, you’d know that I pray on the daily. I say to God ALWAYS, “thank you for this life and I thank you for protecting me.” I ask God to bless everyone in my life who has impacted me for the better. I’ll pray tonight that my junior/senior year of college will be the best year of my life.

Empower Not Tower

“A bully tries to tower, but really has no power.” –  Aly & AJ

Have you ever been told you’re “too much?” “Overly emotional?” Or even worse, “not good enough?” For me: yes, yes, and yes.

Bullying has, unfortunately, become an unnecessary epidemic plaguing our society. But is society the bully? I know, I’m getting a little too deep and poetic here, but this is the thing: IT’S WHO I AM.

I saw a tweet posted by one of my fellow Instagramming Fashionistas. It read:

When someone you trust tells you ‘who you are,’ you tend to believe what they say. It’s important to understand you know yourself better than anyone else does, and what someone else says about you doesn’t define who you are — no matter how important that person is to your life. – @OfficialBrit.

Simply “brushing it off,” is something that I don’t think anyone can do easily — especially not me! Having spent the majority of my school years being bullied by adults, people my age, and even people younger than me, I eventually learned to “brush off the hate” and live my own life without worrying about what people thought of me, even though there was a point in my life I tried so hard to be ‘perfect.’ In fact, whenever I have one of my “episodes,” I repeat to myself, “I try so hard to be the perfect daughter, friend, girlfriend [that is, when I am in a relationship] and no one appreciates my efforts!” But in reality, that’s my anxiety kicking into full swing.

But what you have to realize that, and yes, this is another quote from HelloKaty:

“Nothing hurts unless you let it!”

I’m literally pulling quotes out of my butt, and I’m not apologizing for it!

That’s another problem: we always have to feel like we’re “sorry” for who we are when really, you just have to OWN. IT. We even apologize for the little things that we do that people might think are annoying, even when they’re not considered “annoying.” This reminds me of an old, but still relevant Selena Gomez song.

On that note, and this goes for guys, too: if you choose to make fun of someone for not doing/having something, take a step back because you’re no better than them. Empower, not tower. 

Did I ever welcome you all to my new series, by the way?

If I don’t do/have something it’s either that I choose not to, or simply because I don’t have control over it!

Moral of the story, when someone tries to tear you down, or if they’re just jealous, know this: don’t let that person’s harsh/passive-aggressive words or actions affect you. I know that’s easier said than done, but in the end, the haters lose and you’re the winner in your own life. But we’re not children, anymore. No one is keeping “tallies.” I once did an art project titled “Life is a game, but in order to play it, you need to find yourself first.” It’s basically about staying true to yourself throughout this “game” we call life. And I use that term very loosely, and so should you, even if you are a competitive person.