Well, well, well! It is Spring here in Chicago officially, but it does not feel like it! I will tell you that much. We are one step closer to it than not, so I think that’s something to celebrate! Yes? And I have something to gift you just for the occasion… A Swopes Note. Hey!
As I always do, I hope your last month has been amazing! It’s been quite busy on this side, but I’d never not spend a day or two finishing up this newsletter to send it to you wonderful people. I ended February with going to a Chicago Bulls fundraiser at SPiN Chicago that benefits all Chicago Bulls Charities. It was very dope seeing legends like Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant and young stars like Lauri Markkanen and Justin Holiday play in competition against donators in Ping Pong! Definitely an experience!
When I was reminded by a Time Hop that I tried out for America’s Next Top Model exactly nine years ago, I remembered thinking it was finally my time because it was the season where they let girls under 5’8” compete for the crown. I obviously didn’t make it far past the ten hours of being interviewed to be on the show, but I wonder if the me from nine years ago would be impressed with the modeling I did for Trashhand with Adidas? I’d like to think so.
Sheila Rashid blessed me with a custom dress collaboration. It was awesome to go to her studio to see where she makes all her pieces, one of them being the very well-known overalls Chance the Rapper wore for the MTV VMA’s and more recently Bella Hadid was spotted in her denim jacket and pant from head to toe. I’ve known Sheila for so many years now, so it’s amazing that we finally connected to get creative. I’m beyond happy with the outcome!
One of the best things about Chicago is the food! There’s unlimited number of things to eat for every single taste bud. Unfortunately, I don’t get to indulge in the steak realm anymore because of my almost ten-month meat free life, but if you were to indulge in the finer vegetable things I’d suggest True Foods, Handlebar, Bad Hunter, and Beatrix. All of which I’ve visited multiple times in the last month. Thank me later!
Soccer is a new love of mine. I had never played it growing up but within the last year I’ve been playing on a co-ed league, it’s been such a blast. Every now and then I’ll run into someone who knows me from my work, which is always funny, but this time around I was blessed to play against the Jason M. Peterson. Haha! My team lost but I was definitely close to scoring twice, which is huge to me! I felt the power.
Currently legally named 875 North Michigan Ave because of an ongoing name debacle, the John Hancock Center invited me to a viewing of their 50-year-old time capsule! It was raised to the 100th story of the building on May 6, 1968 – the exact day the steelwork it was completed. Inside the time capsule was a letter from the Chicago Mayor at the time, Richard J. Daley, a triangular section of iron from the Eiffel Tower, a letter from John Hancock himself, a baseball signed by the 1968 Chicago Cubs and White Sox, a roll of film, and a few other random objects totaling a collection of twenty. It was definitely interesting to see what they found was important at the time. I wonder what they’ll put in the new one!
During a Verizon happy hour event, I met a super funny girl named Shaily who mentioned she knows how to do magic! She happily invited me to an event her friends throw where people do magic in front of you, I genuinely mimicked her welcoming aura with excitement to learn about the Chicago magic scene. Fast forward to the night of enchantment – I walk up to a laundromat. I kid you not, it’s the most confused I had been in a while. There was a phone that read “Dial 555,” I followed command and one of the washing machines opened as a secret door to the inside of a giant ceilinged bar with a magician setting up cards and a library covered wall. I was led inside after a few steps of checking in by the pull of a book from the wall that led to a second door to open. That alone stunned me, and I was already entirely happy to be at the Chicago Magic Lounge. The magic was mind-blowing, all of the staff were so welcoming and kind, and the snacks and drinks were super incredible. It’s a must visit!
Twitter has quickly become one of my favorite social networks. Not only because of its ground-breaking news, entertainment and commentary but because of its support for creatives. Twitter launched Niche, a creator-first platform that allows creatives to connect with brands and grow professionally as an artist. I’ve done a few projects with them and have always had a wonderful experience. This month they threw an awesome party celebrating creators in Chicago. They blew up two of my photos – that turned out quite nice I might add, specifically because I make them all on my iPhone, so I am always curious how far we can push them print-wise. But it was dope and very much a success.
Nike tends to go all out when it comes to Air Max Day, hell, any event they throw, and this experience was no different. At the top of the Sears Tower (yes, I still call it Sears Tower even after the name change) Nike gathered some of the best creators on invite only to showcase everything Air Max with special dry ice drinks, sick giveaways, great music and good hangs. They even allowed us to go up a few floors to the Skydeck, a clear, glass ledge 1,353 feet above the ground. Indeed, one for the books.
As if this month couldn’t have been any more exciting, I was invited to my first Apple Keynote at Lane Tech College Prep in Chicago. Initially contacted about the youth programming ideas I have about Apple and Adobe products, they knew I was a good invite to experience and learn about their education initiatives. Sitting behind Al Gore, I watched Tim Cook on stage explain Apple’s new iPad, introduce inspiring teachers from all over the world including local, and open our minds to the future of augmented reality, coding and so much more in education. It’s such a good feeling to have hope in the future of education in Chicago – I have such good ideas and big dreams for change. I know we all do and it’s really quite amazing that Apple wants to do what they can to make those dreams come alive.
It’s been real, you guys! Thank you for reading about my little ol’ life. As always, be sure to keep your imagination alive.
It's official! I've been doing this newsletter for more than a half a year, and I have you wonderful people to thank for that! Thanks for always asking me questions and letting me know you're interested in learning more about what I do. This tutorial revolves around an edit I created recently, it's fairly simple so I hope that allows you to try some things out yourself! Please let me know what you think in the comments and by sharing #SwopesNote on Twitter. Be on the look out for my next print giveaway starting April 1st!
I will be giving away free app codes to Circular, LensLight and Reflect to the first 10 people who comment on this blog! Please leave your Instagram @ for contact. * contest old.
Jada, Jada, Jada. Where do I begin? Most of my features start with a story, but with Jada it's much deeper. You see, when I met Jada she was modeling for a shoot I had for Finish Line in company with Nike. I reached out to her because all of my photo friends suggested she model for my shoot. She had just come to my apartment from a redeye flight from Los Angeles and my first initial thought was, "my goodness, your skin is perfect." She was glowing. How could someone so sleepy glow so heavenly? As I got to know Jada throughout the day I realized that she had the most calming energy, ever. A true angel on Earth. Not only was she super beautiful but a strong-willed character to match. I realized I had only hit the surface layer when finally, I got to know Jada more within the coming year - A stylish, smart and sophisticated woman, someone who will give you the shirt off her back in a millisecond if you needed, someone who isn’t afraid to speak her mind for what’s right, someone who authentically gives loves without looking for it back. Like I said, a true Angel on Earth. It’s rare to find genuine people these days, luckily, I found Jada. Follow Jada on Instagram.
What are five words that best describe you?
What’s it like being a woman in the art world?
Being a woman in the art world, specifically in what I mainly do (modeling), can be tiring at times. people assume I’m intellectually challenged because I’m a woman and ditzy because I’m a model. people don’t expect you to have opinions, and don’t like when you do. there’s constant objectification from male collaborators when it’s supposed to be “work related”. in my experience, I’ve just been taken way less seriously. even if I’m the most talented one in the room.
What’s your dream project?
My dream project would be an i-D cover with my friends on the team. I’ve worked with and grown over the years with the same few people because I truly believe and admire their abilities. what would be better than my dream cover with a touch of their talent?
Best Advice you’ve learned in life?
Best advice I’ve ever gotten was to “capitalize on your strengths”. when I was fresh out of high school with the world as my oyster, I had no idea which direction was the “right” one. but someone gave me that advice, and I never looked back. it was a brand-new philosophy for me. an entirely different perspective. the idea of learning how to capitalize on what you’re already good at vs just pursuing something you’re interested in. it’s always great to learn new crafts but learning to make bank from a skill you inherently possess can be arguably more rewarding. it was the advice that lead me to start my own business and become my own boss. it’s a concept that anyone who is pursuing anything at all should explore.
health is wealth
I’m sure we could agree that there is a lot going on in the world right now and every single person thinks they know the secret recipe to solve it one way or another. Do you ignore it, or do you fight it? You see, for myself, I choose the ignore method. I’ve blocked politicians I don’t want to read tweets from, I mute friends who might annoy me from time to time, and I tend to judge people who don’t know right from wrong. I, too, am a judgmental person believe it or not beside the fact that I am positive and loving to most who deserve, and also very rarely, don’t deserve it.
It’s become apparent that no matter how many times I choose to see the bright side I will still inevitably become judgmental towards something or someone. While reading Judgement Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein, she explains a six-step method in which we can all come more correct with the judgement we will always have. It isn’t about getting rid of judgement but figuring out what you will do with it when you have it. Here are a few of my favorite steps she lists:
The first step is to be able to differentiate judgement and discernment. Discernment is the ability to judge well, but without any bias, merely based on fact. Judgement on the other hand is the ability to make a decision based on attacking someone by separating yourself from them. Another step is to be honest with why you are feeling the way you are feeling. This is a good trait to have in life in general. Being honest with yourself about your flaws opens you up for healing and allows you to be more rooted in truth during your day to day. Identifying the triggers that develop into judgment will save you a lot of time wasted on negativity.
The simple effect of listening when others are in the midst of gossip and judgement is another step. Be aware of why the conversation is necessary and think about the outcome of what you may say. It’s okay to talk about people every now and then but make sure your aware of the reason you are saying it and be very honest with yourself about it.
One of my most favorite of the bunch would be to see the opportunities from the tough parts in life as our chance to heal, grow and learn to be better. It allows us to be more understanding of others and their mistakes. Then finally, having a support system of people who are behind you in your journey of positivity and judgement free mentality. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think people should go around being fake – I think a lot of people mistake my positivity for fake, when in reality it’s everything but that. I’m more in tune with my flaws, faults and lessons than ever, and that in itself is beyond freeing. I hope you have been on the same road and if not, choose to join me on a new one of a "judgement free" life.