Valentine's Day can be one of the most dreaded holidays amongst those who are single. Some jokingly admit it's S.A.D. (Single Awareness Day). Personally, throughout the years, I've struggled with the frustration of seeing all the couples around me and wondering when it would be MY turn. However, the concept of Valentine's Day is suppose to be about SELFLESS LOVE, so let's commit to redefining Valentine's 2015. Here's THREE innovative ways to redefine the holiday:
- Learn To Appreciate Some "YOU" Time: Without a significant other in your life, it's way too easy to dwell on the fact that you're solo, but there is NO BETTER TIME in your life to invest in yourself than in this season. In other words, take some time to rest and pamper yourself! Curl up on the couch, eat your favorite flavor of ice cream, do your nails, read a good book or watch your favorite movie.
- Rally Up Your Other Single Lady Friends: Okay, so maybe a night in and alone isn't your scene! That is perfectly okay. Rally up a group of other single ladies and adventure out. Go see a new movie, dine at a fun restaurant, or even have a single ladies gift-exchange! The possibilities are endless.
- Spread The Love: Yes, Valentines Day is centered on LOVE, but you don't necessarily have to dwell on the romantic aspect. Why not spread some positivity and love in the world? Visit a nursing home and love on the residents; write encouraging notes to a handful of important people in your life; or even offer to babysit your neighbor's kids so that they can enjoy some couple time.
So whether this is your first single Valentine's Day or you've been single for a while now, do something DIFFERENT to return Valentine's Day to its origin of love. Love yourself, love your friends, and even love strangers.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
Scout Hunt is a 14 year old photographer who is living proof that dedication and passion lead to success. Scout first made a social connection with us via Instagram and we quickly fell in love with her creative eye behind the camera lens.
The verse 1 Timothy 4:12 came to mind when we first discovered how young Scout was:
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."
In efforts to inspire YOU to continue doing what you love, we've conducted a brief interview with photos from Scout's portfolio.
1. What sparked your interest in photography? How old were you when you started, and did it come naturally for you? Feel free to describe any struggles or frustrations you had along the journey.
"I was in California for several weeks during the summer after seventh grade and my uncle brought his Canon camera and showed me how to use it. He let me take random photos of grass and things with his lenses and I really enjoyed it. He thought I was doing fairly well so encouraged me to continue it.
When we got back to Florida I began searching on eBay and Craigslist for a Canon DSLR that I could afford. I ended up finding his exact camera at a great price and buying it. I learned nearly everything from Pinterest articles, like how to shoot in manual mode, lighting tips, and editing tutorials. When I look back at some of my first portraits I realize how, honestly, bad they were. But at the time I was very proud of them so I did not really encounter too much frustration.
The hardest part about it was learning how to shoot in complete manual and how to edit well. But, through practice it slowly came together to produce better and better photos."
2. What kind of photography do you enjoy the most? "I mainly enjoy portraits because people can give feedback and I love the accomplishment of someone absolutely loving a photo, but I wish I was really good at landscapes because I think those are so beautiful."
3. What word of advice would you give other teenage girls towards pursuing their interests? "It's very important to pursue your interests because of where they could take you and how enjoyable it is to do something you're passionate about."
4. What do you want to be when you "grow up"? "I actually want to be a director, but always continue photography."
5. A lot of people use their hobbies to express themselves, to cope with emotions, or simply because they love the rewarding feeling of accomplishment. How do you feel when you capture a photo you really like? And what's your muse or inspiration behind photography? "Whenever I capture a photo I really like, I try to pass my excitement to the person I'm photographing because when they love the photo just as much as I do I know I accomplished my goal. My main inspiration generally comes from when I see photos other photographers have taken, then I want to capture a photo just as pretty."
6. What's your perspective on modesty? How would you define it? "I would define modesty as respecting yourself and your worth in the way that you dress and carry yourself."
7. We've recently been doing a "Good Girls Deserve Props" campaign amongst the youth, where we highlight young ladies who are doing good. In what ways would you say you and your friends are doing good? Any friends you want to give a shout out to? "My friend Hannah Williams has been volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters which is an organization that pairs youth with 'Big Brothers" and "Big Sisters" who they can develop a one-on-one relationship with. The big siblings also tutor them, help them with homework, play games with them, or just help them out where they need it. Quite a few other friends volunteer at Parker Street Ministries where they also work with young children. Also many of my friends help out with Tennis for Tumors which raises money for brain tumor research."
As you can see, Scout not only has an eye for photography, but a mind for modesty! She took the initiative to pursue her passion for photography and through hard work and dedication, she has excelled drastically. She definitely makes our list of Good Girls who Deserve Props by promoting modesty through her photographs and by spreading love through volunteering with her friends at various organizations.
On that note, we encourage YOU to pursue your passions and spread love too!
A couple months ago Top Buttons had the opportunity to attend Christian Fashion Week -- a Tampa-based event whose mission is "to create a series fashion shows and events around the idea of fashion from a Christian worldview, reflecting common values such as modesty, boldness, and integrity." For a closer look on the event, visit our recap articles about day one and day two.
What was most captivating about Christian Fashion Week was seeing the exquisite designs of a 19 year old fashion designer named Julia Chew of Xiaolin. Julia's cutting-edge designs, eye-popping colors, and three dimensional textures had the whole audience charmed with delight.
In recognition of her raw talent and success at such a young age, Top Buttons thought it was fitting to capture Julia's story to empower YOU that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. We've even incorporated some of Julia's favorite photos and designs for your viewing pleasure!
1. How long have you been designing fashion and what age were you when you truly decided this was something you wanted to do with your life?
"I’ve always enjoyed sewing and art. When I was in about 1st grade I started sketching fashion designs. My grandmother sews and wanted to pass the legacy of this skill onto me. I learned quickly and well. Knowing how to sew my own clothes was helpful because i struggled to find clothes in stores that I liked and also fit me. When I was 17 years old, I participated in my first runway show with 5 of my designs. Shortly after turning 18, I participated in Christian Fashion Week. During this time, I started talking with different boutique owners and they were interested in carrying Xiaolin garments. I took one step at a time and viewed opportunities as open doors to keep walking through. It has been very interesting and there are valuable lessons learned along the way. I meet people regularly who affirm my decision to do what I am passionate about. Often, people say they wish they had pursued what they desired when they were my age."
2. We noticed you use a lot of unconventional elements in your designs such as things like beetle wings and peacock feathers, and we LOVE IT. What inspired you to incorporate these things and what's your main source of inspiration for designing?
"My father, an outdoor enthusiast, frequently took me out hiking and camping with him. He taught me to appreciate nature, and together we collected colorful flowers, feathers, and seashells. I would collect small objects from nature and bring them home to admire. When I find natural materials with an interesting color, shape, or texture I bring it into the sewing room and find a way to incorporate it into a fashion design. I enjoy using these materials found in nature to embellish my garments in a way that is unique. For example, many designers use sequins or jewels to add color and sparkle to a fancy dress. Instead, I use jewel beetle wings or vibrant peacock feathers."
3. It mind boggles us that you're so successful and talented at such a young age. What are some words of encouragement you would like to give to young girls that could encourage them that they can do anything they set their mind to?
"Life is like a journey through hills and valleys. There will be mountaintop experiences and great disappointments. I have been taught that one key to success is finding balance and being steady and consistent whether things are going great or not. Another word of encouragement would be to keep your eyes on the big picture and not get discouraged with small disappointments. When something goes wrong, it is easy to just want to give up. But there is always a lesson to be learned and tucked away for future use when things don’t go “my” way. Keep trying and little by little you will reach goals you set for yourself."
4. Do you integrate faith in God into your career and if so, what role does your faith play into your designs and your lifestyle?
"I design from a Christian worldview and strive to run my business with integrity according to Biblical principles. Concepts of commitment, loyalty and faithfulness are important to me. I try to see projects to completion and stay within deadlines. I strive to be loyal to people. I aim to be faithful to God and ask His guidance daily as I make decisions."
5. What is your favorite thing about fashion design and fashion in general? As a designer yourself, is it harder for you to buy other brands/designers?
"I view fashion as an intimate form of art. A painter hangs his masterpiece on the wall, but I get to wear my creations and share this experience with others. Fashion is like a drama. By putting on a certain outfit, one can be transformed into whomever they wish to be similar to an actor on a stage. I do find myself checking the seams to see how well the garment is constructed when I go shopping. I have appreciation for better fabrics and well-crafted garments. That being said, I do prefer the clothes I sew for myself."
6. We know that an industry like fashion design can be competitive, so was it hard for your parents and family to support you in the beginning stages?
"I am blessed to have been placed in a family that has always supported me and my aspirations. I still consider myself to be beginning since I am only 19 years old. Parents and grandparents have a wealth of knowledge to share. My grandparents own their own business and have done so for 40 years. They have an entrepreneurial spirit and desire the younger generation to have a strong work ethic and succeed. My parents have always encouraged me and my sisters to develop our God given talents. I was home educated and was allowed freedom to explore areas of interest. I am giving my best and hoping God will bless my efforts."
Hearing a story like Julia Chew's is always inspiring. We want to encourage you to find something you're passionate about, offer it to God, and chase it whole-hardheartedly. For Julia, it's fashion, but it can be something completely different for you. Here at Top Buttons we embrace diversity. So, whether you're gifted in the arts, academics, or even athletics ANYTHING is possible.
"I can do all things through Christwho strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13
Feature Photo of Julia Chew - Photo by her mother Cheryl Chew
Lately there’s been lot of discussion around Eco fashion and sustainable consumption. The latter topic doesn't merely focus on the fashion industry, but is also referred to when considering other industries like the food industry, for example. Previously we discussed on Top Buttons about up cycling trends, a phenomenon that has become a trend in itself. It is both fun and helps to extend the life-cycle of garments. Another important aspect to consider is our patterns of behavior when it comes to consuming clothes. Do we buy for the thrill or do we buy to meet a need?
To start with, I think that in one or several stages of life, many of us have fallen victim to buying or acquiring stuff as a product of social pressure and the desire to conform and be a part of the “in crowd”. Also perhaps we purchased for therapeutic reasons of getting something new to feel better about one’s self. It seems as though the western consumer mentality leans towards the famous adage: He who has the most toys wins. This mentality has given rise to the predominant culture of mass consumption which in turn has a great impact on endangering our environment and the lives of garment producers working to meet our unending desire for MORE. You can read about the conditions which garments are often produced under by reading this article, Sweatshops still make your clothes.
So what can we take from this? Well, how about thinking about what motivates you to buy in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with loving fashion and following new trends. But in the end, making use of what you already have and being the best steward of it, can have a big impact in shaping consumer culture in a positive way. It’s all about our state of mind. If you can be happy and content with the things that you already have and maximize the benefit of their use, you may find yourself loosing the need to acquire slightly varying replicas of what you already have.
Clearly, sustainable fashion is a wide and vast topic that can and should be covered in greater depth. With this being said, I hope to write more on this is the future. Till then I leave you with this passage:
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we (have the basics of) food and clothing, we will (and should) be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:7- 8)