Denzel Alexander | Men’s fashion in Memphis

Meet Denzel Alexander. The man behind Memphis’s only mens fashion blogger.

His blog began like some of the best creative pursuits do- in the midst of low season of life. Feeling alone within a crowd, Denzel discovered blogger Kelvin  Davis of NotoriouslyDapper. He was inspired by the style, the fun, and consistency found within Kevlin’s brand. After a year of following other bloggers and pin pointing looks from celebrities he wanted to start implementing, Denzel launched the DA blog Dec 1st, 2015. I asked him what words would describe those first few months.

Denzel: Amateur & hope. I was in the pursuit of a creative outlet in my life.

I met Denzel in 2016 at the cash register of H&M. I started the conversation about how their brand inspired me to dress more European. Before I knew it, Denzel had gotten me his card and we were friends. Within the week, I messaged him about a look-book I was filming the next week. The dude showed up in a parking garage without even knowing me basically. We still laugh about how sketch that was and how downhill it could have gone. But instead, we began a friendship founded on creative collaboration.

I wanted to feature Denzel this month because 1. We really needed a reason to finally get coffee again, and 2. When we chat, both of us leave on fire for memphis and creativity. He has such dreams. Denzel reminds me to dream big, and not to settle for what I can see realistically. One day, he wants to be living in a bigger city and at some point of his career have a role at GQ. Denzel Alexander the blog will continue through all his pursuits, as he wants it to transition with him through life. If you hit up his Instagram feed, you will see that talent and passion. He has such an eye for putting a color palette into action. Studying for a Creative Mass-Media degree, his passion for layout and design has been challenged and taken further. Below are different seasons from 2017 where he chose to focus on different colors/textures.

Personally, I choose comfort over fashion too often for my own good. I asked Denzel about that common battle with our age group/stage of life. What are his biggest tips for identifying a style, developing that look, and finding comfort. I also feel like with guys there is a thought of “I want to look good, but not look like I care too much”

Denzel: I just don’t think you can’t care too much. Self care is so important. Often, guys are insecure to take it to the next level. I would say start searching and finding people and celebrities who have the looks you want. Start taking little steps. Don’t dive into wearing suits every day. As you implement different pieces, it becomes more comfortable. As for finding your style, everyday you grow into a different person. Let how you feel that day decide. Its okay to wear colors the days you feel great and when you aren’t feeling it, wearing darker colors is okay! Be inspired by your own personality. To find your style, its important to embrace other’s styles as well. You see someone who don’t dress like you, just respect and appreciate their own look. Embrace the difference.

I completely agree with that. Once I graduated high school, I realized the judgment I hashed out over other peoples looks and styles was what limited me in my own. We all wanted to be different, yet only a few of us truly broke the trends. I was not one of them.

Now lets talk side hustles. In school and growing a brand/blog, what would be your advice?

Denzel: Planning ahead will get you so far. Engage with other people and take criticism. I hate taking criticism.  You start to learn to reflect on the words and not defend yourself.  Don’t just write off criticism  from someone who doesn’t know what you are doing or your style. They are your audience and follower.  Its actually really good to get criticism/advice from people who are completely outside of your industry.

I have loved watching Denzel grow into blogger he is! It has been a joy to be a part of Memphis Creative crowd.  I asked Denzel what his dream for Memphis’s blogger community is:

Denzel: From my stand point, I want even more of a diverse group. We need different style, different backgrounds. Our city is representative of the diversity, but we don’t see the together within creative community. We never see them working together. Collaborating. We have a lot of bloggers who all look and dress the same. 

I would love to connect more. I feel Memphis’s creatives are threatened by each other. I am the only male blogger, but I would love to be embraced and embrace other bloggers within Memphis. Embracing and encouraging their different and respect all our different styles. 

What about your vision for Memphis creative community?

Denzel: We have a bunch of grit and grind, but we are not exposed enough. Like people don’t get how incredible this city is! I want to see our reputation changed. An embracive diverse community. Let us be known for our art community and collaborative posture + attitude.

CHECK OUT DENZEL:

Instagram: @denzelalexander

Blog: DenzelAlexander

Twiter: @denzelalexander

Joshua Stephans | Web Designer

Hey friends! I wanted to make a short post to introduce my amazing web designer–who also happens to be my brother-in-law. This is Joshua Stephans!

Josh was born and grew up partially in Chicago before moving to Orlando. He transitioned to Tennessee in 2012 for a BA in Digital Media Communications at Union University. As well as gaining experience through classes, designing local coffee shop, concert, and school posters, he met his best friend and later wife at UU–my beautiful and talented sister, Elizabeth. Before they even dated, Josh and I would spend hours pushing each others’ creative boundaries and ideas. He was the first person to believe in Dancing Through Memphis, my very first passion project that ended up being a 5 month enterprise. His zeal for culture, stories, and craftsmanship never ceases to inspire me.

Elizabeth and Josh married in August of 2016 and having another creative in the family has been such a blessing. Josh is a graphic + web designer and overall creative based in Memphis, TN. He’s been a constant supporter, fellow dreamer, and best friend.

He helped me edit and build pieces of my current website during the months of 2016 + 2017, however as time went on, I started realizing how different my vision and brand had become. The idea of him being my web designer for a whole new site was exciting and terrifying.

Creative conflict can be a make-or-break situation. Josh has been an incredible listening ear, but also matched my dream with healthy debate. He has challenged me to keep things simple and clear, with the message that if you claim to be a storyteller, your story is not the one being focused on. I’ve radically changed my mindset on how to communicate my services and passion through his incredible design and wisdom. There was some silence over phone calls, clashing of vision, and frustration as expected. I’ve learned to fight for what I really believe is priority, and how to discuss things in a healthy way. 

Since building my first website on my own, I have dreamed of hiring a designer. Those who have fought tooth and nail with wordpress, wix, and squarespace…you feel me. I’ve been in tears, on the phone for hours, and still ended up with something far from my vision. It was SO frustrating. Josh allowed me to dream big and draw out my ideas on a paper. He literally made a website from those ridiculous chicken scratch sketches.

I’m beyond excited to launch this face to Emily Frazier Creative. It is a true work of art. Josh has put in time, creativity, research, and endless design. I am so thankful! It’s hard to hire a designer when you technically can DIY it, but this was money spent so well. I am so thankful I invested in his work.

JOSH’S LINKS

WEB: JOSHUASTEPHANS.COM

INSTA: INSTAGRAM.COM/JOSHUASTEPHANS

Stay tuned for Thursdays website launch at www.emily-frazier.com and the exciting giveaway on instagram.com/emilyjfrazier 

Bozwell + Lily | Memphis Maker + Pop-Up Shop

My friend Ben launched his brand Bozwell + Lily in early 2017. He is a passionate guy, driven by creative community and grit. I’m glad to have people like him here, with vision for Memphis to embrace the makers and creators. He’s created such a beautiful collection of items for the brand. I’m loving the pieces he keeps adding; it’s so evident Ben puts so much thought into each item.

He spent time this month designing, opening, and running the Brick and Mortar pop-up shop in Downtown, Memphis. Read more about it from Ben’s perspective: http://www.bozwellandlily.com/new-blog/2017/10/15/friends-and-family-email

Wishing I could have spent more time sipping Lowfi’s freakin’ incredible coffee, and chillin’ with Ben and Memphis’s best people. Check out a few shots I got of Bozwell + Lily’s great setup.

 

Proud of you, Ben. Keep killin’ it. Memphis is soaking it up!

SHOP MEMPHIS | SHOP SMALL BUSINESS

NOTE: All of these products are sold by local or small businesses. Almost all of them are local Memphis businesses, and if not, they are small businesses online. I will include all of the links below! (cause I know you are gonna want them!!)

When I shop for friends, I really love to get them something unique. Sometimes, though, I find myself in that sudden crunch-time mode before Christmas or a birthday, and in those times the easiest route is going online to Amazon or dropping by Target. These are all chain places that have awesome designers and fantastic little gifts, but lack the person behind the product. To me it’s incredibly special and personal to get something from another maker. I know that their hands have touched it and there’s a unique reason behind each piece. It’s usually higher quality when each piece has been individually checked by its maker, and that it’s been created, priced, and sold by a person, not a corporation.

As a small business owner, I believe that good, personalized service is worth the extra money that you spend. Being able to tuck in a business card and explain why you wanted to give someone this specific item and who they supported by getting this gift–is so special and cool. Each item below is something I either am currently using or would use. I personally messaged the makers/collected the pieces below. They did not pay to be featured. GUYS! I just love the faces and hands behind their brands. I’m honored to live in a city growing in makers. My goal this Christmas is to gift smaller, more precious gifts to my friends and family. To support the story tellers and artists.

The main goal of this blog post is to give people a starting point. So here it is: a simple, straight-forward guide to local gift-giving. So I hope this inspires you to support local and small. <3  All in time for small business Saturday!

 

 

COFFEE: REVERB COFFEE

http://myreverbcoffee.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/reverbcoffee/?hl=en

RED MUG: CHOOSE 901 (pop up shop)

Save The Date: Choose901 Holiday Pop Up Shop 2017

https://www.instagram.com/choose901/?hl=en

WALL ART: KATHERINE GEORGE ART

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KatherineGeorgeArt

IG: https://www.instagram.com/katherinegeorgeart/?hl=en

COFFEE: REVERB COFFEE

http://myreverbcoffee.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/reverbcoffee/?hl=en

MEMPHIS ORNAMENT AND MUG: SIGNET SEALED

https://www.signetsealed.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/signetsealed/?hl=en

COFFEE: REVERB COFFEE

http://myreverbcoffee.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/reverbcoffee/?hl=en

HAND MADE MUGS: BRUKIE STUDIO

https://www.etsy.com/shop/brukiestudio

IG: https://www.instagram.com/brukiestudio/?hl=en

 

CANDLE (Fraiser Fir) + MONEY CLIP: ASPEN BAY

IG: https://www.instagram.com/aspenbay/?hl=en

BANDANA (Cactus print): BOZWELL + LILY

http://www.bozwellandlily.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/bozwellandlily/?hl=en

LOOSE LEAF TEA: MAGGIE PHARM

http://www.maggiespharm.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/maggiespharm/?hl=en

 

MEMPHIS ORNAMENT AND MUG: SIGNET SEALED

https://www.signetsealed.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/signetsealed/?hl=en

 

CUPS: BREIANA DESIGNS

https://www.instagram.com/breiana_design/?hl=en

WREATH HANGING: RED HEAD THREADS

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Redheadandherthreads?ref=search_shop_redirect

IG https://www.instagram.com/redhead_threads/?hl=en

COFFEE: REVERB COFFEE

http://myreverbcoffee.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/reverbcoffee/?hl=en

HAND MADE MUGS: BRUKIE STUDIO

https://www.etsy.com/shop/brukiestudio

IG: https://www.instagram.com/brukiestudio/?hl=en

BANDANA (Cactus print): BOZWELL + LILY

http://www.bozwellandlily.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/bozwellandlily/?hl=en

MEMPHIS CARDS + CANDLES (mistletoe + white tea and ginger): FALLING INTO PLACE

https://www.fallingintoplace.net/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/fallingintoplaceshop/?hl=en

WREATH HANGING: RED HEAD THREADS

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Redheadandherthreads?ref=search_shop_redirect

IG https://www.instagram.com/redhead_threads/?hl=en

 

EVERYONE PHOTO FEATURED:

WALL ART: KATHERINE GEORGE ART

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KatherineGeorgeArt

IG: https://www.instagram.com/katherinegeorgeart/?hl=en

COFFEE: REVERB COFFEE

http://myreverbcoffee.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/reverbcoffee/?hl=en

HAND MADE MUGS: BRUKIE STUDIO

https://www.etsy.com/shop/brukiestudio

IG: https://www.instagram.com/brukiestudio/?hl=en

CUPS: BREIANA DESIGNS

https://www.instagram.com/breiana_design/?hl=en

BANDANA (Cactus print): BOZWELL + LILY

http://www.bozwellandlily.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/bozwellandlily/?hl=en

MEMPHIS CARDS + CANDLES (mistletoe + white tea and ginger): FALLING INTO PLACE

https://www.fallingintoplace.net/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/fallingintoplaceshop/?hl=en

WREATH HANGING: RED HEAD THREADS

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Redheadandherthreads?ref=search_shop_redirect

IG https://www.instagram.com/redhead_threads/?hl=en

LOOSE LEAF TEA: MAGGIE PHARM

http://www.maggiespharm.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/maggiespharm/?hl=en

CANDLE (Fraiser Fir) + MONEY CLIP: ASPEN BAY

IG: https://www.instagram.com/aspenbay/?hl=en

MEMPHIS ORNAMENT AND MUG: SIGNET SEALED

https://www.signetsealed.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/signetsealed/?hl=en

RED MUG: CHOOSE 901 (pop up shop)

Save The Date: Choose901 Holiday Pop Up Shop 2017

https://www.instagram.com/choose901/?hl=en

Guest Writer | Marissa Kizer | Productivity for a Meaningful Life

INTRODUCING THE LOVELY MARISSA KIZER. SHE IS THE SWEETEST LADY TO HAVE IN YOUR LIFE. I’M HONORED TO KNOW HER AND RECEIVE HER KINDNESS AS MUCH AS I DO. SHE’S ALL ABOUT ORGANIZATION AND CREATIVITY.

So we chatted a bit about what she would like to share, and I gave her the reigns to my blog for this post! <3 We met up to take photos, and I just love yellow on her! Everything from here on is written by Marissa! ENJOY!

One of the most helpful resources in shaping my understanding of work is learning about the Montessori approach to education.  For children in a Montessori environment, work isn’t a necessary evil; it’s their life’s purpose. Their work is the foundation for living in community and developing as emotionally healthy, socially responsible, peaceful human beings. The work can range from tying their shoes and working with the Pythagorean theorem to reconciling with a friend and waiting patiently for their turn on the swing, and it is all viewed as purposeful and communal.

Their work also requires a high level of preparation—both external and internal. One key principle of Montessori education is the “prepared environment.” Montessori teachers prepare the classroom so that everything is in order and the children have access to what they need. Montessori guides must also prepare themselves internally so they may guide the child into a peaceful frame of mind conducive for working. As adults, we also need physical and emotional preparation in order to work well and use our work to benefit our communities.

Emotional Preparation

Hope

Setting goals and pursuing them are foundational to living a productive life. But if you’re mired in depression, grief, and trauma, just getting to the point of being able to set goals and not think they’re completely pointless can be a long process.  Setting goals and visions are incredibly vulnerable tasks that require digging deep into what you truly want and who you truly are—and that inevitably means coming to terms with not having everything you want and not being exactly who you want to be. 

In Rising Strong, Brene Brown writes, “In my work, I’ve found that moving out of powerlessness, and even despair, requires hope. Hope is not an emotion: it’s a cognitive process—a thought process made up of what researcher C.R. Snyder called the trilogy of ‘goals, pathways, and agency.’ Hope happens when we can set goals, have the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals, and believe in our own abilities to act.”

 

Meaning

In Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes a therapy method he developed and used during his time in a concentration camp to keep people from succumbing to the despair and tortures they were experiencing. He believed in the ability of people to be resilient provided they have a sense of meaning and a belief that they have something to live for. He required each person to think of something they wanted to stay alive for—whether the possibility of reuniting with a loved one or, as for Frankl himself, the possibility of writing a book about their experiences and using them to help others. 

The principles of his method–called logotherapy– are essentially making sure each day includes:

  • something to do,
  • someone to love,
  • and some form of beauty to behold.

Work, community, and art. He viewed work as an essential component for a meaningful life. As creatives, a central part of our work is creating beauty for all of us to behold, as well as appreciating what others make. That’s part of the “someone to love” aspect of it—being in community and abiding by the principle of “community over competition.” When we are diligent about guarding our serenity and seeking out work, community, and creativity, I’m convinced that we really can experience a sense of meaning that can spur us on to even more amazing work.

Physical Preparation

Productivity also requires a lot of physical preparation, and this is the part that I think differs widely for each person. I’m constantly tweaking my calendars, planners, and notebooks to make them work best for me, but here are a few of my favorite ways to keep up with work, school, personal projects, and activities I have throughout the week.

Handwritten planners. I have a planner for personal life where I keep up with each week’s events, deadlines, and to-dos. I also have a work planner that mainly consists of social media plans and work events. Being able to write everything out makes me feel organized, but I typically transfer everything to digital calendars to keep up with deadlines.

Notebooks. I have a different notebook for pretty much every section of my life. Each class, each job, and each project has a separate notebook. It takes up more room but makes it so much easier to keep track of each area of my life. I brainstorm and take notes in my notebooks, but my favorite part is making lists.

Lists. I tend to make a master list every month or so with all the to-dos I can think of, organized by category like School, Home Repair, Blog, Work, Doctor Appointments, etc. Then generally on Mondays I make a weekly master list with goals, deadlines, and anything I want to get done that week. That usually consists of about 30 items. Then, each day when I sit down to get work done, I make a daily list of the most important 5-10 items to finish that particular day.

The Done List. One of my favorite new productivity hacks is the Done List. Every day I simply write “Done” underneath my to-do lists and write down tasks I do during my work period. It makes me feel productive and serves as a catch-all for little tasks like finally replying to a text as well as bigger tasks like choosing fonts or color schemes for a design project. It makes me feel more productive while also giving me flexibility and an opportunity to celebrate each task I complete.

Digital planning. I find digital planning most useful for keeping up with deadlines because I can set alarm reminders and back up my physical calendars and lists.