The magic of life is the experience of one expedition after another. The journey is episodic.
My dad was an attorney and dedicated his life to civil rights and helping others. My mom was a nurse and is one of the most generous people I know. They were and are an inspiration to me. Our household was one of simplicity, service, and sharing. These principles are the foundation of my life. Ironically, most of my career has been in the area of perpetuating consumption, selling more and more, so that society could consume beyond needs. I am in the midst of moving through and beyond the selfishness of the Western survival mentality to keep up. This time of my life is a return to the principles that my parents taught me.
I am a creative; I am primarily a trendspotter who thrives when in beauty and with flexibility and freedom to experience the world. My spotting prowess exposed itself in high school, when I was usually one to two years ahead with fashion trends. In the 1980’s I was a retail buyer for a better specialty store in San Antonio, Texas, and moved to New York City to be fashion director for a fashion forecasting and reporting company. Perusing stores, museums, films, and cities added fuel to my passion for spotting emerging trends. On the forefront of the four pillars of sustainability — environmental, economic, social, and cultural — I learned about the impact of the clothing industry on the environment, and for 10 years I aligned myself with the first environmental clothing company on the planet. Thereafter, I devoted time to a retail strategic planning firm in New York, and my eyes were opened to consumer behaviors by style preferences. This was at the beginning of lifestyle businesses.
In 2005, I stumbled upon an article by Li Edelkoort, about DKNY and Monkeybiz, a South African artisan co-op. And I knew in my gut that folk art collaborations were an important trend that was emerging. Shortly thereafter, my paths crossed with one of the founders of the International Folk Art Market, and my life was magically touched. For the last 13 years, I’ve devoted time and worked on projects for the Market, most recently with four years directing the ambiance décor of the Market experience. This creative work has been an exciting challenge due to the size and scale of the project. With five direct reports and a team of approximately 100 people, I lead the conceptual process, manage, and implement decor over approximately 3 square miles. The décor is made by artists from Mexico, India, and Bali.
My process begins with curating visuals, fine-tuning the foundation of the style, look, and feel of the project and experience. And during the process, I check in with the way the experience makes me feel. This is my barometer of how to proceed. Years ago, a successful colleague of mine would put her hand on her solar plexus and literally say out loud in a meeting, “Something doesn’t feel right.” This physical action was her tool to help her listen to herself. The experiences, people, conversations, additional visuals, words, and quotes that present themselves throughout the process speak to me. And I listen.
Last year, I spoke at TEDxABQ about "enoughness." Our consumer behaviors have lost their way. The line between our wants and needs have blurred, and the impact is huge. It is imperative for our future generations that we pause and check in with our values. Filling our voids with creativity fulfills us so that we don’t feel the desire to shop unnecessarily, thereby perpetuating an excess of manufacturing for naught. I see a trend of downsizing. We are feeling overwhelmed with material goods in our closets, homes, garages, and storage units.
Simultaneously, my expedition prepares for another part of the journey. Upon researching, sensing and intuiting the evolution of business trends, I’m excited about creating a new chapter in my life and supporting my desire to live simply while being of service and sharing. I have begun working on a novel and at publication of this article, I’ll be ramping up with a learning curve in technology.
The obstacles of difficult twists and turns on the journey have proven to be the richest moments of my life.
Loss, disappointment, and pain led to the light of joy. Hopeless moments followed by miracles are proof that God’s grace is always waiting for us to shout out, to say that we can’t do this life on our own, and that we need his/her help. There is joy in the surrender. What is needed more than anything is belief in yourself: Have a clear understanding of your talents and gifts. Be fearless to share them with the world. A great tool is to pay attention when you feel fear — fear of a project, a job, or a meeting. Fear is a sign that there is a threshold to walk through. There is growth in the fear. These moments hold the greatest breakthroughs.
Recently, I heard a coach speak about how to go about choosing work and a career. She mentioned that oftentimes we think we should pursue what we love. Instead, she said, look where our talents and skills best fit. This will bring us the most fulfillment.
My advice: Be fearless. Travel. Listen to God’s whispers in the stillness. Know that you are blessed. Be in light always. Love with all your heart.Take care of your body for it is your temple. Find your tribe. Help each other.
Sylvie is an experiential creative director. She leads, collaborates, and inspires with a deep passion for experiential storytelling. Her clients include creative individuals and recognizable brands such as American Yogini, Backwoods, Garnet Hill, Hanna Andersson, L’Cheriyve, Lynn Newman, Novotex A/S - Green Cotton, Pilar Rossi, and the International Folk Art Market|Santa Fe. Sylvie recently spoke at a TEDXABQ on "Navigating Enoughness Through Creativity."
Words: Sylvie Obledo