JaBellaFleur is in VOGUE magazine

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Episode Summary

REWIND! It’s our 1st Rewind Episode. Rewind Episodes reach back into the Stitch Please archives to re-release a previous episode updated with new context. And today’s context is SUCH. GREAT. NEWS! We are celebrating Alissa Bertrand of JaBellaFleur, who was on the podcast in February 2020. Alissa’s eclectic mix of colorful patterns and prints are a fashion forward way to sustainability. Inspired by her three daughters, Alissa creates stunningly bold vintage looks of organic depth and complexity. One year after our first conversation, Alissa and her girls have a two-page spread in VOGUE magazine. Listen to our most recent chat before diving into our first conversation on the podcast last year.

Episode Notes

Ways to support the Podcast and Black Women Stitch

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Find Alissa Bertrand and JaBellaFleur

Jabellafleur on Instagram

Interview on Junior Style

Things Mentioned in the episode

Sewn Magazine

Daughters of the Dust, Julie Dash’s 1991 film

Lemonade, Beyonce visual album

LOL Dolls

Alissa’s phone: iPhone XR

Support the Stitch Please podcast and Black Women Stitch

Read Full Transcript

00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: Lower body. And welcome. It's a rewind episode. That's right. You are gonna be hearing an episode that we released last year. But with new context a year ago, we talked with Alisa Bertran from JFL about her work, her creativity, her passion for sustainable sewing.
[00:00:19] Lisa Woolfork: And now one year later, guess who has a two page spread in Vogue magazine? Alyssa Berran, I'm excited to be able to talk with her. Again, we had a very brief phone call because she's been incredibly busy. She is our very first official rewind episode stay tuned. So you can listen to the phone chat that we had, and then it could be an introduction to her fantastic episode from last year.
[00:00:45] Lisa Woolfork: So stay tuned.
[00:00:47] Alisa Bertran: Hello.
[00:00:48] Lisa Woolfork: Hello, Alyssa, how are you? Good. How are you? It's so good to hear your voice. How are things? Congratulations.
[00:00:56] Alisa Bertran: Thank you. Everything is good. Just working [00:01:00] on stuff, trying to get things put together and. Moving along.
[00:01:05] Lisa Woolfork: Thank you very much for taking the time to have this call with me. I know you have got to be swamped, but I was like, oh my gosh, she's in Vogue.
[00:01:13] Lisa Woolfork: Not shocked or surprised, but
[00:01:15] Lisa Woolfork: so delighted.
[00:01:17] Lisa Woolfork: I'm so delighted. I'm so thrilled for you. What's it? Like, what can you tell us about how this came about?
[00:01:24] Alisa Bertran: I actually did that Vogue challenge last year, at one point where you took like their Vogue logo and stuck it on a picture. And I think from there it just did a little spinoff and a lot of people were Tagg Vogue.
[00:01:37] Alisa Bertran: You should see this. And then it came about to where a, um, writer for Vogue wanted to just do a little blog post. And I was like, yeah, no problem. And then from there, that's how they connected again with me, for the magazine.
[00:01:53] Lisa Woolfork: That is just amazing. I'm so happy to be talking me through again, because I'm gonna, re-release the conversation you and I [00:02:00] had last year.
[00:02:01] Lisa Woolfork: I cannot believe it's been a year since we spoke. Can you believe it? Your episode first aired in February of 2020. And now we're talking briefly on the phone in February, 2021 and your in Vogue wax, it just goes to show hard.
[00:02:16] Alisa Bertran: Work is paying off and the recognition is showing.
[00:02:22] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. And so well deserved.
[00:02:24] Lisa Woolfork: You have a beautiful vision. You always have had this beautiful vision. And the thing that I love about what's happening for you now is that you didn't feel compelled to change that you didn't have to do anything different in order to be recognized. You just continued to be yourself. And you continue to let your girls be themselves.
[00:02:43] Lisa Woolfork: Do you find that's been affirming in some ways to, or do you feel like you did have to change? I'm saying I don't think you did, but what do you think?
[00:02:51] Alisa Bertran: No, I, I haven't changed. I haven't changed from the beginning. I've stuck to what I've always done. I love the vintage aesthetics. I [00:03:00] love just mixing and playing with patterns and prints and florals and just anything I can really get my hands on.
[00:03:07] Alisa Bertran: So I haven't changed. I've added more to what I am, especially now. Okay. I'm gonna take a little bit more time, or I'm gonna add this now because I like the way this sleeve looks with this silhouette or it just, it's just more so adding to what I already had there, as my found. But I definitely have not changed in a sense of trying to conform to what somebody wants to see or what somebody likes.
[00:03:31] Alisa Bertran: Like I still continue to do me and what we like.
[00:03:36] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. That is exactly what I find so powerful about this because there's a lot of people that are like, oh, if I wanna get into blank magazine, I need to do something totally different so that they might see me. And if no, mm-hmm , you continue to do what you are doing.
[00:03:52] Lisa Woolfork: they will see you. And should it's like the mainstream caught up with you as opposed to you having to change to get attention. [00:04:00] I'm so surprised though, too, because of the fact
[00:04:02] Alisa Bertran: that I didn't change anything. And the part of it too, is this is vogue magazine. This is not a children's magazine. It's women's fashion.
[00:04:11] Alisa Bertran: If anything's going on in the fashion world, and then to have two pages of children printed. In an adult magazine for fashion, I was just like, this is beyond what I had ever expected or even thought of last year or the year before when I started my Instagram. Just, it's just amazing. But I hope though it's being recognized in the right way and manner and not just because it's okay.
[00:04:36] Alisa Bertran: All of a sudden. People want to start paying attention to black artists, black writers, black mm-hmm , you know, people in this type of field that was never really allowed or had that way paved in a sense to where it is now. I don't know if companies are let search for black people so we can put them on our page and have us.
[00:04:55] Alisa Bertran: Square. I like to reiterate that a lot as well. I'm not [00:05:00] changing for you if you like what you see it's because you see something there that intrigues you and not because of the color that you see in the image.
[00:05:08] Lisa Woolfork: And I would say that this is a long time coming. I feel as though there has been a lot more sustained attention to black contributions, mm-hmm , as there should have been all along mm-hmm so they're just late.
[00:05:22] Lisa Woolfork: It really is. They're just late. And so I certainly would never take on any type of, oh, you're just getting this attention now because you're black. That's bullshit. We get a lot of things because we're. Like mm-hmm, state violence and police abuse, but attention and praise just for being black. That's not a thing.
[00:05:39] Lisa Woolfork: That's not a thing you have done such beautiful and amazing work. And you always have. And the idea that this magazine is now seeing that is wonderful and exciting, but you have always been wonderful and exciting. Thank you. And that's one of the things I just love about your story. You continue to be yourself, continue to stake out your claims and continue to [00:06:00] execute your vision, and you'll be happy.
[00:06:02] Lisa Woolfork: And if somebody sees it a big magazine, uh, whoever sees. We'll recognize that. And it's nothing that you have to do. Let me ask one last question. Cause I know you're in the middle of homeschooling the girls. How have they responded to all this attention and all this? I love the stories that you told about them and how they have their own unique vision, their own unique style.
[00:06:25] Lisa Woolfork: And I love how in your parenting of. You are encouraging them to embrace that. You're not trying to get them to change. They are not, they have no idea that they would even probably wanna change. How have they responded to this attention?
[00:06:39] Alisa Bertran: Sometimes I don't think they really realize that like, this is something major, but then again, it just
[00:06:44] Alisa Bertran: shows how. Humble. They are in the sense of
[00:06:48] Alisa Bertran: it wasn't expected, but they had something and it was amazing for them. And it was a great feeling change wise. We're still the same group. We're still the same people [00:07:00] that we were from the very beginning and just really thankful for all of these opportunities and things that we get to experience because of what we do and the things that we create together.
[00:07:12] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. I, I just love that, Alyssa, thank you so much for taking this phone call. Thank you so much for squeezing me in the middle of much. What of what must be an incredibly busy day between teaching and designing and just being fabulous and look living in your amazing house that looks like a museum. I'm busy with that, but thank you so much.
[00:07:34] Lisa Woolfork: I'm so grateful. I feel really lucky as well as really smart and very correct, because I knew years ago that you were going to hit, I knew that your work was special and amazing, and you continue to prove it every day. So,
[00:07:52] Alisa Bertran: congratulations. Thank you. Thank you so
[00:07:54] Lisa Woolfork: much. That was a phone conversation. I was fortunate enough to have with Ali Bertran just the
[00:07:59] Lisa Woolfork: [00:08:00] day, but now we're gonna turn to our episode from February, 2020.
[00:08:04] Lisa Woolfork: That helps us to learn a bit more about how she got her great start.
[00:08:11] Lisa Woolfork: And a quick note on production. This episode was recorded in 2020 a year ago. I have grown quite a bit in my podcasting skills since. So enjoy all the little nuances of this rewind episode.
[00:08:32] Lisa Woolfork: Welcome back stitchers. I am delighted to have this great conversation with Alisa burred, who is the. Creative genius behind jella Fluor. This, this fantastic Instagram page that speaks to just a portion of her vast creativity. Alisa, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[00:08:55] Lisa Woolfork: So I wanted to talk about your approach to fashion [00:09:00] overall, but first to get a little bit of your background, when did you start sewing and when did you start to create such a unique vision for your.
[00:09:09] Alisa Bertran: I started actually sewing, probably about 10 to 15 years back. And it occurred. I used to get these little cross stitch kits from my aunt who was also a seamstress and had her own shop.
[00:09:22] Alisa Bertran: And I used to hate it cuz I'd get cross stitch and everybody would get these really cool gift cards to somewhere. And I'm getting a cross stitch kit and it just stemmed from there of like really hating it and then just evolving into enjoying. And just picking it up. And I actually started taking my first official sewing class when I was in high school for an elective rather than cooking.
[00:09:45] Alisa Bertran: So it started there with making boxer shorts and scrunchies, but my actual aesthetic and what I create now stemmed from just years of loving patterns and textiles, and just putting them together and creating [00:10:00] what I liked and enjoyed seeing.
[00:10:03] Lisa Woolfork: That's really fantastic. This idea that you started from being like a slightly Sull kid who was like, how come I don't have gift cards to the movies?
[00:10:11] Lisa Woolfork: Yeah. How come my present is how come my present is this hoop and this big needle and some tapestry thread, like what kind of gift giving foolish men is this? And you transitioned into taking sewing voluntarily. Like what made you decide between cooking and sewing in school? I, I was
[00:10:31] Alisa Bertran: just like, I don't wanna be in cooking.
[00:10:32] Alisa Bertran: I took cooking when I was in junior high and I thought it was the most boringest thing ever to have to sit and listen to a teacher, tell you like measuring and scooping and powdered sugar. I was just, that was just not me. And I was like, this is so boring. So when I got to high school, it was either cooking or sewing.
[00:10:49] Alisa Bertran: And I was like, I am not doing cooking. And I cook and I can cook very well, but I did not wanna learn cooking though. It wasn't an interest like. So I, when I did get that little tapestry kit with [00:11:00] cross stitch, I was like, this is awful. And now to this day, the funny thing about that cross stitch is one of the coolest things that I've made to this point was some jackets, like some really nice coats for my girls.
[00:11:13] Alisa Bertran: Made out of all kinds of tapestry pieces sewn together. So it's like ironic
[00:11:20] Lisa Woolfork: it's come full circle. Yeah, it has.
[00:11:22] Alisa Bertran: It really it's kinda come full circle. Exactly. The thing I hated the most turned out to be one of the most gorgeous things I've ever made. So it was like, yeah.
[00:11:31] Lisa Woolfork: That's amazing. It reminds me of some ways of my story when I was, I didn't start sewing until I was in graduate school.
[00:11:37] Lisa Woolfork: And so my mother sew, my grandmother sold my aunt sew, everybody sew, and I wanted nothing to do with it. I was like, Ugh. My mother would make me these gorgeous outfits and for my two sisters. And I'd be like, why can't I just get my clothes at the mall? Like everybody. And when I started graduate school, I was like, no, I'm doing my radical black feminism.
[00:11:58] Lisa Woolfork: I do not want to be [00:12:00] chained down to some domestic tasks, blah, blah, blah, girl. I started trying to write that dissertation. And I was like, Ooh, I need a hobby.
[00:12:11] Lisa Woolfork: I was like, this is really hard. And my hobby became sewing. And then ever since then I have not stopped. And I got outta graduate school 20 years. And so it has been the same idea. My mother, like marvels now, and she was like, I remember when you didn't like sewing and now you're like better than me. You and I was like, I don't know if I'm better than you, but I do love it.
[00:12:35] Lisa Woolfork: And so it's really, I think ironic is the perfect word for it. So I wanna talk about your approach and the blending of textiles. One of the, I love the images. I was thinking actually about the image of your girls on the back of sew magazine from, I think this is the, is it the September, October issue? And again, y'all, if you are not subscribing to some [00:13:00] magazine, why are you not?
[00:13:01] Lisa Woolfork: Because the thing that I saw in that image of the, of your three girls before we get to that image, tell us about how you came up with the name jella floor.
[00:13:10] Alisa Bertran: Okay. So jella floor is actually my name combined with my three girls that I designed for. So Ja in the beginning is my two oldest twins, which is Jayla and Jada.
[00:13:23] Alisa Bertran: The AB in the middle, which is my name, Alisa Bertran. And then the Ella at the end is for my youngest daughter who is Ella and then floor, which is flower and French because I am, I love anything flower, print, flower, anything. Yep. That's a combination of us and who we are
[00:13:45] Lisa Woolfork: it, and it speaks so well to the project itself.
[00:13:49] Lisa Woolfork: And it's just it's. So the name itself is organic. It's because of the flu because of the origins and it just works so beautifully and it [00:14:00] reflects so beautifully the work that you create and produce. And that's something that I think I see when I look at your work is I think organic, I think that the creative process that inspired this.
[00:14:14] Lisa Woolfork: Is something it's it seems it's a sign of someone who trusts themselves and knows themselves. Mm-hmm and it's, and what's something I love about it is that it's teaching your girls to do the same. It seems to me. And so I was asking you about the sew cover. Can you talk a bit about that process and where that photo was taken?
[00:14:32] Alisa Bertran: So for stone, I did a repurposing of jeans material for that issue, but the back cover, which is what you're speaking of is a picture with them wearing white dresses that were all recycled from just white garments, skirts, blouses, dresses, um, Took all that apart and used those materials again, to create three dresses for them.
[00:14:58] Alisa Bertran: That, and that picture was actually [00:15:00] taken in Florida at the B gardens, which was just gorgeous and beautiful. And the dresses just blended in so well with this like lush green background, and that's how that was created for go. I, and I purposely created it to go out there and I was like, I wanna do something in white.
[00:15:17] Alisa Bertran: So it just happened to work out. Perfect.
[00:15:20] Lisa Woolfork: And the, the first thing I saw, and this is something that I see when I see some of your other photos, I kept thinking about Beyonce's lemonade. Mm-hmm the, the video, the visual album. And I think what Beyonce is pulling on there is scenes from daughters of the dust.
[00:15:38] Lisa Woolfork: And
[00:15:38] Alisa Bertran: just these, I love that movie by the way.
[00:15:40] Lisa Woolfork: See, I
[00:15:41] Alisa Bertran: love it. And, and, and that movie alone, though, I'd hate to say I, I, I wish I could re. So many of those scenes, you
[00:15:52] Lisa Woolfork: can tell, I can see it in the work. And for those of you all who might not know Julie dash daughters of the dust, this beautiful [00:16:00] story, um, set in the South Carolina sea islands and about home and memory and progress and love and intimacy.
[00:16:10] Lisa Woolfork: It is a, I think a black Hamous classic. Would you say, is that how we do type this?
[00:16:14] Alisa Bertran: I, I definitely would. And just to. Somebody looking for their own and versus having to follow what somebody else has said, no matter what it is. So it that's, that movie is just amazing. And just the cinematography alone is just worth watching as
[00:16:31] Lisa Woolfork: well.
[00:16:32] Lisa Woolfork: Absolutely. And that's, and I think that I don't, I think it's really an underappreciated classic. I think maybe people like, for me, I learned about it in graduate school as part of my studies. And that's when it that's when I, it first came to my attention. But I think that people now, if they know about, no, I can't say for everyone, I hate to say people do this.
[00:16:52] Lisa Woolfork: People do that. It seems like lemonade. If you study lemonade, the visual album, [00:17:00] which is something I do in my class, I, we have, there's a book on there's a lemonade reader, a black feminist reader that talks about all the different historical elements of the visual album. And hopefully there's people who are being introduced to Julie dash.
[00:17:15] Lisa Woolfork: Through lemonade, because all of that, all of lemonade is a, um, hybrid, right? It has the poems of Warsaw Shire. It has a lot of the cinema cinematographic elements from other places and things and references and it's multi-layered and multi-dimensional. But I think that your picture. Of the, of those, the three girls in the, it just felt very new Orleans to me.
[00:17:39] Lisa Woolfork: And maybe it's because of the fence behind it. And then the organic, the plants and stuff. It really is. I feel like I can definitely see the traces of that in your work. And I find that so beautiful because it allows people to connect dots that they didn't even know were there. Yes about things that they [00:18:00] themselves might not have known.
[00:18:01] Lisa Woolfork: And I hopefully it inspires curiosity. So people who are listening to this episode, y'all need to go check out daughters of the dust. You can find it. If you found this podcast, you can find daughters of the dust. it's actually
[00:18:12] Alisa Bertran: on Netflix too. So if they, if you type it in Netflix, it's still showing on Netflix.
[00:18:19] Lisa Woolfork: See. Told you, you could find it. Hey, y'all you're listening to this ditch please. Podcast today. We're talking with Alisa Bertran of jella. Flore do check out daughters of the dust. I have included a link to an article about it in the show notes for today. And when we come back from the break, we'll hear how Alicia gets her girls involved in the looks.
[00:18:39] Lisa Woolfork: She creates stay tuned.
[00:18:49] Lisa Woolfork: Here it's stitch, please. The official podcast of black women's ditch. We talk a lot about sewing, but if you want to see and not just hear about some of the things we've [00:19:00] been discussing, feel free to join us on the socials. You can find us at. Stitch please on Facebook. And you can also find us on Instagram at black women's stitch.
[00:19:12] Lisa Woolfork: You can find photos of projects that we've been working on. Really interesting social commentary and on Thursdays at 3:00 PM Eastern standard time, you can join black women's stitch for a live Instagram chat. Again, that's every Thursday at 3:00 PM. So find us on the socials. Follow up with. We are happy to hear your direct messages.
[00:19:36] Lisa Woolfork: You can reach out to us at the black women's stitch page on Instagram, and we'll help you get your stitch together.
[00:19:45] Lisa Woolfork: Welcome back to the stitch please. Podcast. We're talking today with Lisa Bertran of jella floor. Who's gonna tell us more about how she gets her girls. So enthusiastically involved in the work that she's creating. Listen up. So let's talk [00:20:00] about your girls and your models as models and as MUEs for your work, how do you involve them in your creative process?
[00:20:06] Lisa Woolfork: I know there's people who want to sew for their children and who either have difficulties doing that, or can't convince the kids. And I think I also wanna emphasize that when you think about children sewing, you need to throw everything you know, about children sewing out the window. If you wanna appreciate what jella Flore is doing because she has, in my mind, completely radicalized the creative possibilities for apparel, for children.
[00:20:36] Lisa Woolfork: This is someone who has such a capacious creative spirit. Alyssa. That's how I see you as a capacious creative spirit. And you are not just in, at least in my reading, you aren't just using your kids as like a canvas for your work. It seems like they are also very involved and invested because I have taken photos, reluctant children.
[00:20:58] Lisa Woolfork: My boys are pretty reluctant [00:21:00] models and so I know that look, and it's a mom, please. Another one, but that's enough. But your images that you get, don't invoke, don't invoke that at all. It does seem like a partnership and it seems like one of the things I love about what you're doing is that I think you're helping, I think that you're, you're teaching your girls something through your work.
[00:21:19] Lisa Woolfork: So can you talk about what their involvement is like?
[00:21:22] Alisa Bertran: So they. I actually design particularly for each one in mind. So I know one of 'em can't stand pink, so I won't make pink for her. I know one, you know, really likes shorts and cool lots and won't wear necessarily anything that's pants and things like that.
[00:21:41] Alisa Bertran: So I design for them. But I do mix in a lot of prints that I really enjoy. And I, I definitely create for them, which means I do involve them. So I'll ask them, do you like this? Do you like this color? Do you like this print and so forth? So I do bring them into the [00:22:00] process like that. But a lot of the times I do also create what I like just as a designer's aspect.
[00:22:06] Alisa Bertran: And the funny thing with them is whatever I make though. They're so in love with which is like so fun because it's it's for them. And they know that and they're like really happy, I think for that part. So I think when they're they're younger, it's a lot easier because obviously when you have younger children, You go and shop for them, even in a store and you purchase whatever you want for them.
[00:22:28] Alisa Bertran: And then you. They wear it, but it's like when you start, as they get older, I would encourage those who do wanna sew for their children to bring them into the process, even take them to the store. What kind of fabrics or materials or prints do you like? Is this one scratchy as the girls would say, or this one's too whichever they might create or think of something as in their terms?
[00:22:51] Alisa Bertran: How something feels, but involve them. Cuz then it becomes more of a fun process and it's something that you can do together with your child. [00:23:00]
[00:23:01] Lisa Woolfork: And, and tell me, how long have you been sewing for them and what is your background in terms of pulling these kind of looks together. How did you start to say, you know what I wanna use to Bella floor?
[00:23:12] Lisa Woolfork: I wanna create this brand. I wanna create this project. I want my creativity to show up in this. I
[00:23:19] Alisa Bertran: just really love print and color. And I'm almost to the point of like, why don't people use more color and print and what they do. And I really pull from like vintage because vintage, or even just older, like eighties, nineties prints.
[00:23:38] Alisa Bertran: To me, there's nothing like it. And there's nothing that compares to it even today. So that's where I get a lot of my inspiration from. And then it's just a combination of putting things together and, oh, wow. This print really makes this other one pop or the colors combined together. It just flows like that for me to where I create these and put them [00:24:00] together.
[00:24:00] Alisa Bertran: And it's almost been. I would say within these past few years that I've really like delve into combining a lot of these prints and patterns and color palettes to come up with what I do come up with and create today.
[00:24:17] Lisa Woolfork: Uh, tell me about your girls and how they, what are the, what is their response to accessories?
[00:24:21] Lisa Woolfork: I don't think I have ever seen anyone use accessories. To the effective degree that you do there, I keep imagining like your closet or their closets. Like I imagine that each of them has their own huge closet and with their name on it and with their name on it,
[00:24:39] Alisa Bertran: actually accessories. Yeah, we definitely, I have a lower half to my house, which is like a semi basement.
[00:24:46] Alisa Bertran: So that alone should just tell you that we have a, I have a large studio. I should put something on my. So people can just see how massive it is. But yeah, we do have tons of accessories. I [00:25:00] think I can't even count how many umpteen belts, sunglasses, hats. Um, it just pulls looks together. Even for children.
[00:25:08] Alisa Bertran: They love to accessorize who doesn't. We, as women might throw on a necklace, a beret or whatever girls. And children alone love to do that. So I just find it fun and I'll whatever they wear. They're like, oh, can I go get a, some glasses and hat? And I'm like, go ahead, choose whatever you want. So it's fun for them too, because then they really like the outfit a lot more because they've gotten to customize it.
[00:25:31] Alisa Bertran: However they wanted to, whatever they feel with adding a be or glasses or a purse or a hat, they don't have their own closet, but they do have a whole downstairs. Racks full of clothes and
[00:25:46] Lisa Woolfork: accessories. I think that they don't have closets, but they have a wardrobe department. They do
[00:25:52] Alisa Bertran: my, yeah. My, my husband thinks it's really funny.
[00:25:54] Alisa Bertran: Cuz my youngest daughter, Ella took him down there, which is like the basement area and said, this is [00:26:00] where we get dressed dad. And he started laughing because he was like, yeah, literally it looks like a store. It's my store. .
[00:26:08] Lisa Woolfork: That's right. And, and I wanna think about your store. I wanna think about, can you walk us through the process of sewing these garments?
[00:26:14] Lisa Woolfork: I was surprised to learn that you don't really buy a lot of you. Don't go to the fabric store and buy. Okay. When I'm making three dresses, therefore each girl's about the twins are three yards each or two yards each and Ella is like one and a half yards. So you don't have to think about those kind of calculations.
[00:26:32] Lisa Woolfork: What does fabric acquisition look like for you?
[00:26:36] Alisa Bertran: I really don't buy fabric because of the fact that first of all, it is so expensive to buy it nowadays. Then you multiply that by three children, times the yardage, the math alone, right there is just crazy. And I can honestly never find the prints that I like.
[00:26:52] Alisa Bertran: I'm very eclectic when it comes to prints. And I'm very specific when it comes to color. So if I can't find it, [00:27:00] I'm like scrap the whole store. So I do a lot of thrifting and that's where a lot of my repurposing and sustainable fashion comes from because I repurpose pretty much anything and everything that I can get my hands on.
[00:27:15] Alisa Bertran: So that's where it comes from. And that's why you'll also see the. Never really matching, but in a coordinated way. So they might all have a blue or they might all have some sort of F print, but it's never really matchy matchy because I don't buy fabric by the yard.
[00:27:33] Lisa Woolfork: That's so impressive. So instead for your thrifting, you w so you go to the thrift store, you go to a Goodwill, or you go to a place like that.
[00:27:43] Lisa Woolfork: And then when you walk in, what do you.
[00:27:46] Alisa Bertran: I, I first go to the kids section, cuz I'm always looking for like vintage coats and stuff that can't really be found like that. But then I usually go to the adult section, which is like women's and stuff. And I'll go and look through like [00:28:00] skirts dresses, Bloss. I even go into the home section, which is like all the quilted bedding sheet.
[00:28:07] Alisa Bertran: Yes. Things like that because you can obviously get a huge king flat sheet and the amount of things you could make out of a flat. Is really, I could probably make two or three dresses depending on the, you know, style and cut, but I, I look for stuff like that. And then I go from there and usually skirts and dresses and bedding.
[00:28:29] Alisa Bertran: I can get obviously a lot more yardage in just open space fabric. So that's what I.
[00:28:37] Lisa Woolfork: That's wonderful. It's funny because I'm sure you might have heard these conversations before the line of argument goes something like, oh you, so therefore you must save so much money on your clothes. And then I say, I don't really save money on my clothes because fabric is expensive.
[00:28:54] Lisa Woolfork: My time is expensive. I don't. I don't think people sew anymore to save [00:29:00] money. I think people sew because they want a certain look that they can't get in the store. They want something to fit their bodies and the store doesn't do it. But I think maybe you are an example of an exception to this principle because you really are saving money because you're making all these amazing looks and you're not even buying.
[00:29:20] Lisa Woolfork: Fabric expensive fabrics. You're buying you're thrifting them. So mm-hmm, , I think that's a really great like counterpoint to the idea that you can't sew and save money.
[00:29:31] Alisa Bertran: So a couple things sewing is definitely not what it used to be. Cuz even when I was in high school. Purchasing patterns in fabric for class, the pattern nowadays, versus a pattern back then, my goodness.
[00:29:43] Alisa Bertran: I mean, you're not even saving on the pattern to buy the pattern alone. You could probably buy an outfit in some stores so that alone, I, I truly believe people are not sewing anymore to save money. It's sewing because you are trying to create your own look, you're trying to say, this is who I am and [00:30:00] who your identity.
[00:30:01] Alisa Bertran: Maybe you've seen some material that you don't want anybody else to have. There's like so many reasons, but it's definitely not cost effective, which is sad to say, which used to be back then. But for me, I do it because it's it's yeah, it's a way for me to stay, but it's something that's truly like a passion for.
[00:30:23] Alisa Bertran: And it's definitely what I love and enjoy. I can
[00:30:27] Lisa Woolfork: see. And you can see that in your work, you can absolutely see that joy you can. Absolutely. And that's why I think your images provoke such joy, at least for me, like I just look at them and I smile. And, um, one of the reasons that I was drawn to your account was another, uh, member of black.
[00:30:45] Lisa Woolfork: Stitch was like, y'all look at this page, it's helping me like get my whole life. This is, these girls are fantastic. And then, so I looked and I was like, oh my gosh. Yes, friend. Yes. And yeah. And so I had to talk to you. I just absolutely had to [00:31:00] talk to you and learn more about these beautiful images. Let me ask you a bit about your photography.
[00:31:05] Lisa Woolfork: How do you arrange or decide on a. Setting the photos have really gorgeous natural light, but also even I'm looking at the indoor photos most recently from a group shoot that you did. I'm not sure. I think you, oh, this was the, for the collection for your vintage clothes turned into children's folding line.
[00:31:24] Lisa Woolfork: The one from November 3rd. Can you talk about the setting up outdoor shots versus setting up indoor shots?
[00:31:32] Alisa Bertran: So that collection was the artist news and that was actually indoors, which is my front room of my. and I tend to create to where I would envision these pieces being worn. Now the girls do wear whatever they choose to wear on any random basis.
[00:31:52] Alisa Bertran: But a lot of the times, if I am actually trying to showcase. Something that I just created or made, I will have them like [00:32:00] wear it and will go somewhere, like on the way to maybe doing something else.
[00:32:04] Lisa Woolfork: You're listening to the stitch please podcast. And I'm talking today with Lisa Beran of jella floor about her complex and amazing designs that she manages to snap, gorgeous pictures of.
[00:32:16] Lisa Woolfork: In about five to 10 minutes after the break, we'll talk a little bit more with Elisa about this.
[00:32:29] Lisa Woolfork: Hello stitchers. We have a limited edition opportunity for you to support the stitch please podcast and the black women. Ditch project as a whole and get some more fabric in your collection. These are mystery fabric boxes of fabrics that have been divided into woven and knit there's boxes that would, that are stuffed with black and white fabrics.
[00:32:49] Lisa Woolfork: There's boxes of Chevron fabrics. There's boxes of fabrics called I think. Adventure or nature or something like that. Um, and these are completely full of fabrics. These [00:33:00] are medium flat rate us PS boxes that can be sent directly to you for $30 and that shipping is included. So if you're interested in building your stash or taking a chance on some really cool fabrics, let me know.
[00:33:14] Lisa Woolfork: You can DM me on Instagram at black women's stitch, or you can send me an email at black women's stitch, gmail.com and. Send you a mystery box of very cool fabrics, $30 shipping and insurance included. And that'll help you get your stitch together too. Thanks.
[00:33:43] Lisa Woolfork: Welcome back to the stitch please. Podcast. We're talking today with Lisa Bertran of jella floor. We've been talking about her photography, her amazing creativity. And now we're gonna talk a little bit about why no one actually owes you a smile. Stay tuned. [00:34:00] So I cannot believe that this is your living room.
[00:34:04] Lisa Woolfork: I thought, for sure this was a museum. I was like, oh, she took the kids to the museum to do this photo shoot. That was really nice. I wonder if they had it all to themselves, did they have to pay extra? Did they come at night? And you're like, no, this is
[00:34:16] Alisa Bertran: just my house. No, I definitely would've loved to have gone to a museum or something, or even like you did, though, you did go to a museum.
[00:34:23] Alisa Bertran: I, but like just sometimes when you think of the cost of stuff and I'm like, you know what? No, I can do better. So yeah, it's my front room. It's everything that inspires me. It's all the things that I like to look at on a daily basis that help. Draw and bring in inspiration for what it is I like to see and do.
[00:34:40] Alisa Bertran: So it's my front room though. I've gotten that quite a few times. Like where is this location? It's my house.
[00:34:47] Lisa Woolfork: maybe you got a side hustle in like letting other people use your front room for photo shoots and then that could pay for some more
[00:34:53] Alisa Bertran: clothing. Hey, I should put that out there.
[00:34:56] Lisa Woolfork: I'm serious. You're I was like, I really thought this was a [00:35:00] museum.
[00:35:00] Lisa Woolfork: I was like, oh, this is interesting. So it looks like there's like the what's the process for the photos. It looks, cuz they're so beautiful. They're so well done. They're so thoughtfully produced. Do you ever face any challenges, particularly from the girls or I'm not trying to say, oh, your girls are reluctant.
[00:35:16] Lisa Woolfork: They don't, I don't know if they ever are. They just seem so joy. And so I just love that you have captured all these images in this way. And I don't know if you had any tips for people who might wanna take better photographs of their kids. My tip, what I usually do is just say, act normal for two seconds, please.
[00:35:32] Lisa Woolfork: And then I take a photo, but it doesn't seem like you have to give your kids that kind
[00:35:35] Alisa Bertran: of encouragement. Honestly, honestly, my kids are just like everybody else's kids. We have, I, I think it's almost timed to, to where I know it's like, they're good part of the day. Everybody's in a good mood. It's just like kids and it's and the same thing.
[00:35:51] Alisa Bertran: I don't sit and take like hours worth of photos. I don't even think that it takes us literally five or 10 minutes to capture. [00:36:00] Like, I'm like, just stand there, get closer. Boom, boom done. So I can show, you know, what I do and my Instagram page. Again is my page. It's not the girls page. And I like to reiterate that because sometimes I'll get comments of like, why aren't they smiling?
[00:36:17] Alisa Bertran: How come they look sad? But honestly, I've tried to make those kids smile to where I'm like smile and the picture looks so cheesy and phony that it looks completely staged. If I just have them stand there. When you stand there, you're standing there. That's all I do. Stand there. Click boom. Done. And we go about the rest of our day.
[00:36:37] Alisa Bertran: We do what we do. I've even asked them to like, why don't you guys smile? Because a lot of people do expect children to smile, and it's almost like I'm forcing you to smile, but why don't you smile in these pictures? And my youngest one was so cute and she was like, because the LOL girls don't smile and they're cool.
[00:36:57] Alisa Bertran: And I'm like, you're basing it off of a [00:37:00] doll and like their opinion and, and what they see and just how children are these. Is they see that. And even in school, it's like they see that they see it on cartoons and things. So it's hard to get away from that, but I do encourage them to be themselves at all times.
[00:37:17] Lisa Woolfork: That is fantastic. I was thinking, as you were speak thinking, I was like, children are encouraged to smile a lot. Who else is encouraged to smile? A lot grown ass women. You're walking down the street, mind your business. And someone says, Hey, smile. And it's I don't owe you nothing.
[00:37:32] Alisa Bertran: I don't, you know, I just exactly, I don't know why people associate because you smile.
[00:37:38] Alisa Bertran: Like everything's happy go lucky and your everything is great. I walk around most of the. In a great, awesome mood, but that doesn't mean that I'm smiling. So it's, we need to like look at things in a completely different way. Just how we've been, trying to make progress with so many other things. Smiling doesn't mean that you're either happy or sad because of how many times have you met somebody [00:38:00] smiling in your face and it's completely opposite.
[00:38:03] Alisa Bertran: So I think it's just the same for children just because they're not smiling. Doesn't mean they have a horrible childhood or a gazillion other things that could probably be
[00:38:12] Lisa Woolfork: going. I agree with that. And no one owes you a smile. Children don't owe you a smile because I think when people, and this is usually men, I have never heard a woman tell another woman to smile walking down the street.
[00:38:27] Lisa Woolfork: This is men telling women. To smile. And it's just, you know, I am not here for your entertainment or amusement. I am just trying to get from my office to the parking lot, dude. Like I am trying to get over here to the CVS before it closes. I do not owe you a smile or an interaction of any sort. And so I tend to think about this in terms of power.
[00:38:47] Lisa Woolfork: I appreciate your assessment about emotions and feelings and honesty and integrity. I see it as power. There's been movements by women. To stop forms of street harassment. And of course, [00:39:00] some might say that, oh, telling someone the smile isn't street harassment, I'm like, it's not street encouragement. It's, it's using this notion of, this is what I want to see when I look at you and it has nothing to do with what you really feel.
[00:39:13] Alisa Bertran: Definitely like the way that was put, because in all honesty, I'd probably have to start using that when I start getting comments on why aren't they smiling in the picture? Because this is the aesthetic that we're going for. And exactly we don't owe you a smile. If you want that, then you probably need to look elsewhere because I allow the girls to pose.
[00:39:36] Alisa Bertran: in whichever form, as long as it's not provocative, which I really do not go down that road with them. And of course, things, they don't do that. So I don't have to be like, no, no, no, we're not doing that pose. Or a lot of the time it's just natural. They're standing there. They're either turned at an angle.
[00:39:52] Alisa Bertran: It's whatever they're doing at that moment, that my phone clicks picture and they're standing there. So [00:40:00] exactly.
[00:40:00] Lisa Woolfork: Did you say your phone clicks a picture?
[00:40:02] Alisa Bertran: Yeah, I do. I have an iPhone. I have the XR. I take this thing everywhere. It's obviously a ton easier than taking a camera. I can load and do whatever I want right then and there.
[00:40:15] Alisa Bertran: And it's super easy. I don't, and that's another thing too. I don't do all this fancy schmancy stuff to my page. It's what we wear, who we are taking a picture and what we wear and what I designed for the girls. Which is used as somewhat of a portfolio for what I do and what I like to do. So it's just simple, just a simple phone.
[00:40:39] Lisa Woolfork: I just wrote down iPhone XR, because I have been doing a lot of intense research on my, for my Christmas present. We are recording this everybody about a week before Christmas and my husband, we talked about this. I was like, I wanna get a new phone. My phone is an iPhone six S plus. It's about the size of an old school telephone book.
[00:40:58] Lisa Woolfork: Yeah. And the pictures are [00:41:00] fine, but they're not as good as the new cameras. And so I just wrote down iPhone XR. I cannot believe that that's yes. And I, I wanna get a new iPhone because of the photos. So I'm pretty excited about this. So I totally wrote, I just totally took, put a note on that. Let me ask you about just two more questions.
[00:41:17] Lisa Woolfork: One, you, you mentioned your favorite garment and I wanna mention one of mine and ask you about the process. And then I wanna hear some more about next steps from you. So I'm thinking about the photo of Ella from. This is also in November. It's that dress with all the POM PO not a dress. It's a jacket with all the POM POS.
[00:41:36] Lisa Woolfork: Oh yeah. um, like, yeah. Oh my gosh. Please tell me more about that. And sometimes I wonder if she gets these pieces that are, she also has the one with the fabric. That's just hanging almost like a latch hook that it's like all the different strands.
[00:41:52] Alisa Bertran: Those were, that was like a repurposed, uh, bundle of t-shirts.
[00:41:58] Lisa Woolfork: Amazing. And so I'm like, [00:42:00] does she get these? Because she's the smallest cuz that would be my strategy. I'm like, I'd be like, yeah, I'm gonna try to make as few of these as possible. I don't know
[00:42:10] Alisa Bertran: that actually that is thing too. Ella gets a, I would say probably. And probably what people might see is like, why is Ella in a lot more pictures than the two other ones?
[00:42:20] Alisa Bertran: Ella is smaller. So I can make Ella like a size five or. Versus the other girls who are probably a 10, 12. Right. And when you're repurposing a lot of the stuff, depending on what it is, you can make more or less. So Ella gets a lot of that stuff, although they can rotate most of those jacket pieces. The one with the pompoms was just an idea.
[00:42:42] Alisa Bertran: I was like, yeah. I was like, wouldn't that be cool to have like pompoms all over a jacket? Like what girl. So I was like, I'm gonna use up all these piles of yarn that I have that thinking that I'm gonna crochet or something, which I never am, but I was like, let's make POS. So I was like, okay, I have the [00:43:00] whole bag of pompoms.
[00:43:01] Alisa Bertran: And I'm like, what do I do with these pompoms? So I made a jacket just out of just regular cotton. And I was like, okay. So then I Handon all the pompoms on, which was like, oh my goodness, almost a nightmare in thinking of, oh, this is the most amazing thing ever. Not knowing how much work was gonna take, cuz the Palm making then hand sewing them onto the jacket.
[00:43:25] Alisa Bertran: But the outcome was like super fun and vibrant and colorful and she loves it. So she, that POM POM jacket is a. A definite keeper, but it's definitely not a let's go run and play in the park jacket. It's more of a statement
[00:43:41] Lisa Woolfork: piece. Absolutely. And the statement is your mother really loves you. Yeah.
[00:43:47] Alisa Bertran: Right.
[00:43:48] Alisa Bertran: And took all this time to make a POM POM jacket. So
[00:43:52] Lisa Woolfork: AB absolutely. It, it is so gorgeous and I love the, we were talking a minute ago about smiling versus not smiling, and I [00:44:00] love the natural aesthetic, how you're letting the girls be themselves and encouraging them to be themselves. And I see that with their hair.
[00:44:08] Lisa Woolfork: I see that with their looks. How has your fashion aesthetic that you've been producing for them? How's that influenced their own styles and how they like dress for school or how they put, do they have their own unique style or do they, do they ever seem to want more pedestrian looks? I feel like you're really cultivating their independence in really positive.
[00:44:31] Alisa Bertran: so for school wise, they actually wear a uniform. So I don't have to really, so like weekends for us though is wear whatever you want. Let's see, let's go over the top and like what we can create and come up with. But they, um, definitely do have their own aesthetic. I have one that's one of the twins, Jayla.
[00:44:49] Alisa Bertran: She's more so Lu. Let's just throw on a t-shirt in jeans and then she'll have times where she's, I wanna go over the top to where I'm like, are you gonna wear that like today [00:45:00] when we're just going to the groceries? It just depends. It really depends. But we, we try to go over the top because they only wear regular what we call street clothes on the weekends because they do wear
[00:45:12] Lisa Woolfork: uniform.
[00:45:14] Lisa Woolfork: That's great. I mean that, this is almost an example of what a uniform was meant to generate, right? That the kids don't have to think about what they're gonna wear to school and it can concentrate and focus on mm-hmm. what they're doing. Mm-hmm and then on the weekends, their closet is their oyster. They can, they can really do it up over the weekends.
[00:45:32] Lisa Woolfork: That's fantastic. I have just learned so much. Thank you so much for this conversation. Let me ask you, what are your next steps? What do you imagine the next phase in the jella flare project
[00:45:43] Alisa Bertran: to be? So actually my next step, which I'm telling you first, like, and a social platform, I was accepted to the art Institute of Atlanta.
[00:45:54] Alisa Bertran: I'm gonna be attending January. And I'll be a full time [00:46:00] college student again, on top of doing what I do for the girls. But I hope to obviously one day be in a store so that I can share my designs with a lot of other people that like something different, especially for kids. That's not some sort of emoji shirt or basic jeans or something.
[00:46:20] Alisa Bertran: It's gonna always have print. It's gonna have color. It's gonna have pattern. It's gonna have everyth.
[00:46:27] Lisa Woolfork: Oh my gosh. Congratulations. I am. Thank you so excited for you. This is thank you. Incredible. This is really wonderful and that you're gonna continue as you continue your fashion journey. You're gonna continue it in the, for children.
[00:46:43] Lisa Woolfork: And I think that's so empowering for young people. I really do. I feel like for you to take the time and invest. The nation's future, basically. Mm-hmm , that's what children are. They really are our future. And wow. I'm [00:47:00] just speechless. I am so excited for you. I am so excited for
[00:47:03] Alisa Bertran: you. Thank you. I'm definitely excited.
[00:47:05] Alisa Bertran: I'm I'm
[00:47:06] Lisa Woolfork: you have so much to co you have so much to contribute. You really have so much to contribute in your learning. When you go to school, when you go to these classes, you have so much to contribute. I think you might, maybe you're thinking you have a lot to learn, but I think you have more to contribute than you do to inquire because you already know so much.
[00:47:26] Alisa Bertran: Thank you. Yeah. I'm just trying to put all the odds and ends of the business aspect with it together so that I can really go in there and just make some big moves. Trying to get my stuff out there. I do wanna say though, that I do plan on designing for women, which was my initial process rather than children, but since I did have the girls, it was just easier to like, oh, here let's design for you, but I do wanna do women and children.
[00:47:55] Lisa Woolfork: And I think that that makes sense. I look at your pieces and it seems like things that [00:48:00] women could wear. So I think that's a perfect, a perfect approach. Well, Alisa, this has been so delightful. Thank you so much for taking the time. I know you are busy. I, I hear you have three children. I imagine that you are very busy, so thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
[00:48:19] Alisa Bertran: Thank you so much for having me. This was amazing.
[00:48:21] Lisa Woolfork: I've been talking today with Alisa Berran of jella floor. For more information about Alisa check out her Instagram page and a recent interview with her, all of which can be found in the show notes of today's episode.
[00:48:43] Lisa Woolfork: You've been listening to the stitch, please podcast the official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out with, to us with questions, you can contact us at black women's stitch@gmail.com.
[00:48:59] Lisa Woolfork: [00:49:00] If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, P a T R E O N. And you can find black women stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month, you can help support the project with things like editing transcripts. And other things to strengthen the podcast.
[00:49:19] Lisa Woolfork: And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere. You listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who. Do for those that have a star rating, or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us at the stitch please podcast.
[00:49:47] Lisa Woolfork: That is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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