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RADICAL SELF CARE: EP. 16 - DOMINIQUE DRAKEFORD

RADICAL SELF CARE: EP. 16 - DOMINIQUE DRAKEFORD

In Conversation with Dominique Drakeford
AFROPUNK partnership,

EVERY THURSDAY AT 8PM ET, HEAD OVER TO THE AFROPUNK IG LIVE CHANNEL FOR THESE WEEKLY CONVERSATIONS CURATED BY HUMBLE BLOOM'S SOLONJE BURNETT WITH THOUGHT LEADERS AND ENTREPRENEURS IN MUSIC, AGRICULTURE, BEAUTY, MINDFULNESS, NUTRITION, SUSTAINABILITY, SEXUAL EMPOWERMENT AND MORE.

Dominique Drakeford’s background is a 10-year exposure to youth development, cultural enrichment, and adventure-based outdoor education for targeted youth in the Bay Area. She is an environmental educator with a BA in Business Environmental Management and a master’s degree from NYU in Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Fashion. Currently, Dominique works at the intersections of sustainability and style to heal our relationship to the Earth and spark equitable change for economic well-being. She is bringing fairness to storytelling by championing the values of inclusive representation and informed responsibility through her digital platform MelaninASS (Melanin And Sustainable Style). This blog hones in on sustainable fashion, natural beauty, wellness, and land sovereignty efforts by BIPOC. As a social sustainability writer, she has been featured in WWD, Elle, Teen Vogue, BoF, The Cut, Fashionista, i-D and others.

She has worked with a myriad of companies to further understand systems-based thinking for a regenerative future alongside ethically-based public relations and consulting. With recent indie and global partnerships, including Timberland, Airbnb, Fair Trade USA, Vice Media, Buzzfeed, All Birds, Native Shoes, and Nature's Path, her fashion influencership focuses on elevating sustainability and agency. Additionally, Dominique is the co-creator of Sustainable Brooklyn, working to bridge the gap between the sustainability movement and targeted communities through resources and events. Throughout the entirety of her work, Dominique focuses on instilling regenerative solutions within local Black communities while re-engineering the sustainability movement to put Black and Brown Indigenous change agents at the forefront of the conversation and activation.

What's your current theme song? If you have a reason, please share.
Work It - Missy Elliott

What are you working on?
With my co-founder Whitney McGuire, at Sustainable Brooklyn we work to bridge gaps between the sustainability movement and targeted communities through various modalities, including education and events. We are committed to fashionably fostering the evolution of sustainability to create an inclusive future for all.

I’m also partnering with Conscious Chatter on a 5 part special edition podcast series called The Root: Decolonizing the Sustainable Fashion Agenda. Launching September 1st and featuring a new episode every week - we are taking over the entire month of September “traditional fashion month” to showcase a collection of stories that provide historical and cultural context when it comes to race relations and larger systems of exploitation and how they impact current sustainable fashion conversation … while also discussing a framework for solutions.

Tell me about your journey to now. What impactful moments led you to your work?
I never know exactly how to talk about my journey - which is why one day I will write about it. But it's been very experiential. It's been about building localized community awareness and making the decision to step foot in mainstream spaces to dismantle systems theory and challenge narratives. Completely going against the grain (without compensation) to fight for an ideology I strongly believed in when nobody else was talking about it. Now I'm looking to go back into my community to build our own systems of cooperative economics while still keep one foot in the mainstream because that work will always impact larger structures. In terms of impactful moments - every moment - big or small has been impactful. I think about my journey often and find that it's not the big accolades or accomplishments that kept my engine going - it's the seemingly small things. A text message of encouragement. A conversation of discouragement. A colorful outfit I wore to an event when Black was the industry standard. A comment on an IG photo. A hike. Those are the most impactful moments in my work.

Who and/or what motivates your passion each day?
I truly move off of energy of each day - so it varies honestly. The streamline motivator are my ancestors and the legacy I feel in my bones that I was chosen to do this work. Also at a very young age I always felt like I had a responsibility to be that bridge and realizing that how I talked, how I dressed and how I delivered messages wasn't part of any mainstream mandala - so perhaps I'm motivated by how unique and eclectic the Black diaspora is and wanting to make sure that we/they all know that they are sustainable and have been. So I'm motivated by my people who are organically sustainable AF! And of course nature - always inspired by nature.

How do you define Radical Self Care?
Doing deep shadow work - healing from trauma, understanding your triggers and communicating with your internal ecosystem so that you're well enough to positively give to and build community! Because at the end of the day - as a Black woman, I know that community is our greatest super power but systemically we've been stripped away from that knowledge.

What rituals do you have to help maintain homeostasis of mind, body, and spirit?
Journaling and stretching are my two biggest rituals ... and believe it or not - dancing and singing is a big energy release for me to help me achieve a balanced equilibrium.

How do you incorporate plants into your well being routine? How is the cannabis (THC, CBD, CBN, etc) a part of your plant ritual?
I am currently growing my own veggies and herbs so taking care of their development and growing my own food is part of my every day healing routine. I indulge in a CBD tincture about once a week - usually at the end of the week as part of my restorative selfcare routine to relax and prepare for the new week ahead. I love to do a face mask or face steam - sip some tea and take some CBD before bed.

Who would you like to experience an altered state (dream elevation + discussion) with and how would you achieve this flow state?
I would have this experience with an ancestor that I've never met before. A descendant from my lineage ... I picture someone from from the African continent, post-colonization ... in her tribe doing some embroidery work looking just like me and us talking about nature, farming and fashion while smoking some natural herbs. I see us having such a beautiful conversation about spirituality and she's telling me all of these stories passed down from her mom and grandma. I can literally can see us laughing so loud about the latest community gossip and just our future.

Love the phrase "slow down to speed up", what does that mean to you personally and within the present global pause?
I have been very intentional about living a balanced lifestyle for the past few years - Grounding myself every morning, connecting with community, doing my passion work, turning up every now and then, healing from generational trauma and just being myself. This pandemic was a reminder that I've been cultivating a lifestyle that can transcend virtually anything and it's been affirming to know that my core - my personal ecosystem was rattled too much from the circumstances. Outside my ecosystem - community health, economic stability, etc. is a different later. But I had to give myself credit for already having a decent slow down to speed up ration as part of my lifestyle rubric which made adjusting to to the global pause so much more fluid.

What is the gift you bring to community?
Being a bridge. I believe that the gift that you give community is embedded in the title that you give yourself. People love to title people so many different things - influencer, activist, blogger, etc. For me - for the past say 3 years or so - I've given myself the title of bridge and I think that's my greatest asset to the community. Helping to create and build upon bridges to connect community members with each other and connect community with resources, information and new perspectives.

What has been the most challenging for you during this time?
Micro - My family, Macro - seeing colonial systems go to work

What made you become an advocate in the space and for the plant?
Growing up in Oakland - to me which is a cannabis mecca - I watched young people use it abuse it, I watched society criminalize it and thus Black Parents and educators demonize it. I saw young people get locked up for it all the time. And so for me it was very political - especially for someone who is a sustainability advocate - cannabis has such an important role in the conversation of the sustainability that I talk about - agriculture land use, herbalism & healing, Black pain, liberation, prison industrial complex, eco-appropriation. I'm not in the cannabis industry - I'm in the sustainability industry and cannabis is part of that convo.