Xorje Olivares: Hey there. I’m Xorje Olivares and you may have heard my name over the past few weeks because I have been producing this wonderful Adorned series that Rightnowish has been doing this whole summer. And you’ve heard the main producer of the show, Marisol Medina-Cadena go on this journey to figure out all the different definitions of adornment that she can ascribe to herself. When it comes to items like clothing, jewelry, flowers in the home, there’s just been a lot of opportunity to really explore what adornment looks like. So I’m excited because Marisol is with me here in studio as we talk about these past few weeks, what they’ve looked like for her especially as the person who’s trying to figure out what adornment is. And we’ll get into all of that right after the break
Xorje Olivares: Well, Marisol, I’m excited for us to break this all down together.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Hey, Xorje! Me, too! Let’s get into it.
Xorje Olivares: Before we get into the specifics of each of these different episodes, we’ve had a chance to talk about this a little bit before but why center adornment? Because it’s funny. It’s a word that we don’t use quite often in our daily conversation, but it’s something that we’re mindful of at all times, as just like humans operating in this world.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Three out of the four guests for this Adorned series were all creatives, business owners that I’ve just been a fan of for the last like three years. And I wanted to, like, dive into their crafts, whether it be floristry, jewelry making, or clothing design, because those are art forms that we haven’t really had on the show before.
And so I was like, what is like the common throughline here? And it’s the way we adorn ourselves, our spaces. It’s that intentional decoration, if you will. For me, I think a lot of people might think “adorned” as luxury. But I’m trying to reframe adorned I think to just talk about those intimate actions. They don’t have to be very elaborate or evolved for it to make us feel special, for it to make us feel alive. And I think in my own day to day life, I’m very clumsy. I just feel rushed all the time. I don’t always give myself that space and slowness to like, adorn myself, really.
Xorje Olivares: Mhmm
Marisol Medina-Cadena: I love watching my homegirls get ready or even my own mother get ready. That’s just such a beautiful ritual I love watching other people do, but I feel like I’ve never known how to really do that for myself. And so I kind of wanted to push myself to like, I could have that for myself as well.
Xorje Olivares: You’ve been very explicit in saying to our audience members that you are on this journey, you’re feeling a little funky with yourself, you don’t quite know where to place yourself, and that’s part of the reason that motivated you to, to pursue this series. So we walk alongside you as you experience these elements of adornment. So with Mauricio Garcia, first episode we did in the series, you’re smelling some of his original perfumes, and then later on in the series, you are going through the racks of Sophia Mitty’s clothes. You’re having Chelsea Macalino-Calalay make you a piece of jewelry. You are doing all of this in real time. So what was it like, we’ll start with Mauricio, to just have that experience caught on tape?
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Mauricio, for example, he brought not only the finished perfumes, but like the individual fragrances that go into the perfume. And so it was this whole ritual, like where he had me smell the individual ingredients and guess them before he showed me the finished product. And so it was like he was getting me in this state of mind to just like, really slow down and really use all of my senses. I think it affected me like, I really think since that episode, I’ve been trying to be a lot more mindful and methodical as I’m prepping myself for the day.
Again, I’m using this word “ritual” interchangeably with adornment, because I am… I’m, I really saw how these different creatives use their craft as a ritual, right? It’s not something you could just whip out, bada bing bada boom. It’s like there is intention behind it, process. It’s… it’s something that just is a product of intention and reflection.
Xorje Olivares: Most of what we think about with adornment is clothing, and that’s Sophia’s specialty. So let’s talk about the chance that you had to go into her studio called The Stu. It’s in South San Francisco. And just see a variety of clothes that maybe you did see for yourself or maybe you didn’t see for yourself or can now see for yourself.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Yeah. Okay. So, Sophia Mitty, for folks who haven’t listened to that episode yet, she makes colorful utility pants. I’m talking like straight leg pants with deep pockets. These are pants construction workers wear, right?
Xorje Olivares: Mhmm.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: And I think for me, I really, again, wanted to avoid this idea of, like, people’s natural assumptions that clothing always has to be luxurious. And so I think she was kind of this perfect fit where it’s like she’s doing clothing, but it’s not like this high end fashion that we can’t necessarily wear on our everyday lives. It’s very utilitarian. And I think that really resonated with me because I love practical things, but like…
Xorje Olivares: [Laughs] Don’t we all!
Marisol Medina-Cadena: But I want my practical things to have character, to have flavor. Like seeing all these raw elements and then seeing her finished product, it was like, wow. You know, that is such skill to transform raw product into something.
Xorje Olivares: So when you were talking with Sophia, and I think something that she highlighted a lot was, if you can’t find the thing that best represents you just make it yourself. And I’m sure that that was fun to be able to, like, talk that process out with somebody.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: My mom in a previous life was a clothing designer. She had her own line here in Oakland. And so growing up, my mom very much made it a point to expose me to that process. So we’d go to buy fabric together. She’d let me pick out patterns. She taught me how to use, like, professional machines. I just, I’m not a patient person.
Xorje Olivares: [Laughs] Same.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: I, you know, like, I can’t make a garment myself, but I can help my mom do it.
So, being in Sophia’s studio was just bringing back all of those lessons for me, that my mom taught me. You know, like, how much time goes into garments. And so, I think that’s why for me too, in general, like I can’t just buy something knowing I’m only going to wear it a few times. Like I’m very conscious. Like, if I buy something, I have to be sure that I’m going to keep this for years.
Xorje Olivares: I’m gonna get some good use out of this, otherwise I spent my money for nothing, which is the conversation I always have with myself.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Yeah, it really brought into focus like I want to invest in pants that are going to be my “all the time” pants.
Xorje Olivares: Especially with thinking about someone like Sophia and Jessica Cotrim, who’s our floral designer, who we talked about in the third episode of the series, Jessica, she talks about designing her bouquets and her arrangements with her brain, and her heart, and her intuition. So let’s talk about how at least when it comes to that element of adornment, especially our home adornment, how intuition, what our gut tells us might actually be the key to doing the right thing.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: That’s what I really appreciated about Jessica is that she was very vocal about like, ‘a lot of what goes into my designing is my ancestral intuition.’ I’m spiritual myself, and I do feel like I’ve relied on my intuition to make life decisions. You know, knowing that that’s a big part of my identity but right now in this, like, funk period where it’s like, I don’t feel connected. I was like, How can I feel that again? And for Jessica, it’s really like tapping into nature and florals and how different flowers are associated to the different women in her life, her grandmother’s and all of that knowledge that comes through that. I saw myself in that like, yes, that’s what I used to feel. So like, I want to see somebody else do that in real time and, and kind of remind myself, like, what it is to tap into that intuition again.
Xorje Olivares: And to watch how Jessica puts things together, to watch you put together a bouquet with her was so exciting because you could really see that moment happen where it’s like, Oh, they’re being guided by something we can’t see and it’s not a sketchbook. It’s not, you know, some app that we find on our computer where we can put things together and it just tells us, like the algorithm didn’t tell you how to put it together.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Yeah, the algorithm.
Xorje Olivares: You just knew. And so if you can maybe even share a little bit about how you knew that the flowers you put into your bouquet that you called sorbet, how did you know?
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Mm hmm. How did I know?
Xorje Olivares: How did you know?
Marisol Medina-Cadena: I mean, I was really listening to what Jessica was telling me in that interview was you got to go with what strikes emotion, what strikes joy? And she had buckets of flowers. And, you know, I think I could have gone for the really big sunflowers that she had because those are so striking but I went for more smaller, more, like, softer flowers because I felt like that’s what I was needing in that moment. More intimate energy in my space. And so I picked these, like, really moody dahlias, a deep, like, plum purple. And I guess, too, I was thinking about what flowers I associate with the women in my lineage. And so my tía who I am very, very close to, and I typically buy flowers for her gravesite here in South San Francisco. I try to buy her irises or anything purple.
Xorje Olivares: Oh nice
Marisol Medina-Cadena: I just really associate that color with her. And so I think when I saw these flower options and there was like this dark purple, it was like calling to me because that’s what I knew, you know, like when I go out to flower stores, I gravitate to purple because I know that’s the color, she liked, my tía.
Xorje Olivares: Yeah.
Xorje Olivares: You chose today to wear the earrings that you designed with Miss Chelsea Macalino-Calalay, again, the founder of the Wyphys jewelry brand. What is it like to be this Hyphy Wyphys out into the world adorning yourself with an original piece that was created in this studio that we’re in?
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Oh, my God. Am I an influencer? No. [Laughs] It just feels so good knowing all the love and joy that she I watched her put into the dangly earring that I’m wearing. Like, wearing this I feel really proud. Like, I don’t know, I guess you could compare it to, like, wearing a crown or something. You know, it’s kind of like you’re presenting yourself to the world. Like, look at this. But for me, that’s earrings, because this really rad artist made them. I feel like I have this support network because a lot of her brand is about, like, her friends, her queer femmes and the community she comes from. And so wearing this product, it feels like there is this larger network that I’m now like part of, you know.
Xorje Olivares: This Wyphys community.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Yeah.
Xorje Olivares: Something that we haven’t had a chance to really talk about is that every single person who’s a part of this Adorned series, which all the episodes are out now, so I hope folks get a chance to listen to them, is that everybody reps San Francisco in the Bay Area so hard, which I love. And I’m curious for you who isn’t necessarily a San Francisco native, but I feel also reps this, the Bay Area very strongly. How did that all feel, knowing that you talk about being a part of this community, that now the Bay Area is your community and that you are adorning yourself to go out into the Bay Area community to be one in the same as the residents that we talked to?
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Mmm, yeah, I think I come from it from a deep place of like awe and admiration for Frisco aesthetics. For example, I really think of like clean Derby jackets.
Xorje Olivares: I love that.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: I think of Ben Davis jackets and shirts. And my grandfather who lived here had like, he didn’t have a Derby jacket himself, but he had a jacket that looked like it. And I remember the first time I got my own Derby jacket, like eight years ago. And I just I just remember feeling so much pride, like I have a good jacket and he would be very proud of that. And so for me, being able to talk to other creatives who are so proud of being from this soil, it kind of like was my homage to this city and how I just have so much deep reverence for artists who grew up here and are making art that is striving to, like, keep that funky, that goofy energy alive here in this city.
Xorje Olivares: We started this conversation with you talking about the reason for the journey and how you know yourself to be funky and goofy and you want to come back into that skin. So where are you in that journey to get back into that skin?
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Y’all, I’m a new person. I’m changed. I had a glow up.
Xorje Olivares: Epiphany, ah-ha moments aplenty.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: But I do honestly feel a lot more curious, and open minded, and positive. But really, I’m on this journey to like myself again, and I think I feel like I’m enjoying my own company again. I’m enjoying just looking at myself. I know that, I don’t know if that sounds vain, but like…
Xorje Olivares: No, not at all.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: I think there was a deep period where I was just like ‘ugh’ every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I was like, I don’t know who that person is right now. I just felt very estranged, I guess is the best way to put it.
Xorje Olivares: We’re our biggest critics. We always have been and we always will be.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: True. And I think this adornment series, like I do feel like it was successful in that I’m feeling fun again. I feel like I’m liking myself again. It doesn’t feel like an end, like.. Tada!
Xorje Olivares: Tada it’s over!
Marisol Medina-Cadena: But I can honestly say I feel so much more embodied in myself and in my skin than when I started this.
Xorje Olivares: Nice. I’m going to stand in for our listener and say, Marisol, based off the takeaways that you’ve been able to gather from having done this series, what are some pieces of advice that you would share with me?
Marisol Medina-Cadena: I think…What would your inner child… What would make your inner child happy? And I think, like, I’m going back to having a lot of colors in my wardrobe because that’s what younger me would make me happy. I think I had that– this, like, moment of like, oh, to prove I’m grown and mature, I’m just going to wear like, dark colors, which don’t get me wrong, goth is chic. I love black outfits, but like, it’s also really nice to feel excited and I think colors make me feel excited. And so in trying to adorn myself I’m thinking about, like, What would feed my inner child? What would my inner child want to see in an adult. Like, oh, that it’s okay to like, be funky and be groovy, not so serious all the time. And so I guess my advice to other people is to think about, like, what would feed your inner child?
Xorje Olivares: All four episodes are out of the Adorned series featuring perfumer, Maurico Garcia, clothing designer and clothing maker Sophia Mitty, floral designer Jessica Cotrim and jewelry maker and the founder of Wyphys, Chelsea Macalino Calalay. Marisol, this has been so much fun and I’m so grateful to you that you invited me to be a part of this adornment journey with you by going to some of these different places. And yeah, just to be a witness to all the change that you’ve experienced, that we’ve experienced through you, and all that experiences that are yet to come.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: Mmm. Thank you for being on this journey with me, Xorje.
Xorje Olivares: Yay! High five.
Marisol Medina-Cadena: High five. [laughs]
This Rightnowish series, “Adorned” was produced by the fabulous Xorje Olivares and hosted by me, Marisol Medina Cadena.
Chris Hambrick is our wicked cool editor.
Christopher Beale is our amazing engineer.
And the Rightnowish team also includes Pendarvis Harshaw, Sheree Bishop, and Ryce Stoughtenborough. We get additional support from Jen Chien, Katie Sprenger, Cesar Saldaña, and Holly Kernan.
Again, thanks much for listening to my adornment journey. I’d really love to know what your rituals are. How do you love on yourself? How do you adorn yourself?
You can Tweet me, beep me if you wanna reach me @marisolreports on twitter or send me an email. I’m mmedina at kqed dot org.
Rightnowish is a KQED Production.
Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page and subscribe to the show on NPR One, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.