Since weeks I haven’t seen anybody except my man, kids, and dog. I cross the town by bike to my studio in the North. Holding my breath when wrong-way drivers pass me, seems rather stressful, but I love the serenity of my workspace with room for Reflections. And even without assignments, I am never out of tasks, never out of plans and ideas.
So we are in the middle of corona times, and I must visit Goelfija to take photographs. I postponed the visit. It is on the other side of the town. The car broke down. It is raining. Eventually, I go there. Worrying about entering the flat, touching doorknobs, encountering inhabitants at the stairways, in the corridor. But I saw nobody. And then my friend opens the door. We haven’t seen each other for ages, we suppress the tendency to hug each other.
Plants & potatoes
After washing my hands with detergent, Goelfija puts on the kettle and shows me her potato plants on the balcony, the first step to create a home garden. She is tired of buying in the supermarket, and like many others, she prefers to support her locals. Discovering more initiatives, she thinks about our situation. We are both fashion designers, having our own business. How is all this affecting us? We talk about the needs and possibilities. We are determined to survive by using our creativity. Must we adapt to new demands, or change everything that we are used to.
In the meantime, we drank our tea, and I took photographs of her, cutting patterns for Sewing Heroes, a local project we both participate in as seamstresses. I stayed much longer than I planned. The moment I entered her studio, annex living room, my ‘corona fear’ vanished. With the 50 mm lens on my Fujifilm, social distancing went automatically;). We took the time to catch up and share thoughts, reflect our situation realizing that we need to connect, but above all, have an open mind.
The Russian way
Sitting here at Goelfija’s flat with a cup of tea, I feel no rush. We have reflections about our passions and picking tomatoes. That maybe it is not enough to only do your own thing. She tells me that during the Cold War, many artists, writers, and other free spirits had to keep a low profile. They kept their heads empty and body healthy by doing physical work in simple jobs during the day time, preserving their intellect for their activities in the evenings. We, too, must find a balance between our passion and what is necessary for the community, especially for creative entrepreneurs, to make a living.
Besides making a living, I notice that many of us start with a fresh slate, are open for new initiatives, cooperations. Like at this moment, our volunteer work for Sewing Heroes. But also begin learning new languages, just without any other reason than to feed the brain. I think it is a good thing because everything you start is the beginning of an experience that will enrich your life.
Artisan and custom made
Although the outlook of the one and a half meter society is not appealing to me, I feel the excitement too. Eager to create new concepts and products that are original ánd fitting for the present times. Local and handicraft businesses are more appreciated now. We want Artisan bread, get our coffee straight from the roaster, and have a custom made jacket. Goelfija and I realize we are already in business. We only have to tell everybody.
New friends & new plans.
I leave the apartment with a plant and the promise that we will keep in touch. At home, I catch up with the Sewing Heroes team. The project is flourishing. More and more people get involved sewing medical gowns or helping out in the organization, as the girls of Blauw Helpt, but also people from my network, like Monica, Iris, and Goelfija. We are all connecting! I feel confident these reflections on life now will turn into a positive effect.