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Article: A New Year Reflection

A New Year Reflection - DEVAN GREGORI

A New Year Reflection

I've got a confession to make.

I'm a recovering "fresh start" person - one of those people that just loves the New Year because it's brimming with brand new beginnings, new chances, the promise of creating new, healthy get the gist. I love the blank slate, the white canvas, full of potential. Anything can happen, and nothing has gone wrong yet.

But, as they always to, the new year starts and then eventually becomes just another year like all the other ones. The sparkle and shine of the fresh start dulls. Those new healthy habits get shelved because other things have taken priority, and I find myself just trying to keep up with the year before it's over. The illusion of the fresh start is still there, just out of grasp and never feels fully attainable.

About 6 years ago, I had a shift in perspective. A fresh start implies that we are wiping the slate clean, meaning we take nothing from before with us into this new era. All the work, the failings, successes, the lessons learned, they are all left by the wayside as we move forward into this clean slate era. And that just felt like a complete waste; an insult to our previous selves. It's basically saying that a fresh start is worth more than everything that you have learned up until this point. I didn't like that at all.

Marking the passage of time is something we as humans have been doing for thousands of years. There is nothing wrong with marking the beginning of a new year. In fact, it is a beautiful moment to reflect upon where we were, where we are now and what we want in this new year. So I decided to reframe the New Year for myself. This isn't a fresh start; it's a new chapter, a chapter in the novel that is life.


Where I Was | 2023

This label accomplished so many things this year! My fiancé and I opened our first brick and mortar here in Oakland, just two blocks from our house. I learned how to design, merchandise and manage a retail store. We had 6-7 market events that spanned from Los Angeles to Portland. I designed and launched a new line of loungewear in organic cotton and hemp jersey. I was honored to be an advisory board member for Visit Oakland's first annual Oakland Style Week and collaborated with the insanely talented Bandaloop for an unforgettable performance. We were published multiple times in Harper's Bazaar, and had insightful interviews published in sustainable magazines and publications. 

Through all of this, the one big lesson I've learned is that I can't do this alone, and I don't want to. One of the most exciting parts of working with others is the creative collaboration. I want more of that in my everyday, and I'd like to focus on that in 2024. 

When it comes to the personal, I feel like I've grown immensely. I am proud that I've prioritized doing the self work of setting boundaries, learning how to lean on others and replacing more destructive coping mechanisms with healthy ones. I've travelled to new places, met incredibly different and diverse people, dabbled in new activities and rekindled a love for cooking. My fiancé and I also became engaged this year! But I think the biggest and most important thing that I've experienced this year is a shift in what drives me forward. 

For a long time, I had this need to prove myself. My defenses were up, and it was me against the world. I channeled a lot of this energy into working long hours and also into fitness, where I would instruct and work out multiple times a day. My mentality was that if I were physically strong, I would be mentally strong. There was a lot of anger that I didn't fully realize that I was processing through all of it - anger due to manipulative relationships, not being treated fairly as a woman, and feeling taken advantage of.

As this year closes, I find myself feeling a lot softer, emotionally and physically. The compulsive need to workout and prove myself has vanished, and I've been working on accepting this new, softer version of myself. Don't get me wrong, I still suffer from bouts of self-doubt, anger and frustration, but they aren't my driving force anymore. My drive comes from a more accepting, more playful place now where I do things on my own terms. 


Where I'm Going | 2024

This new chapter is going to be an exciting one, because my focus is going to be on creativity and getting back to the things that really make me tick.

I'm looking forward to making space in my schedule for creating and experimenting, and I want to share what that process looks like with all of you. I'm going to be less focused on predictable, traditional collection launches (fall/winter, spring/summer), and more focused on dropping new designs when they are ready. That way you get newness all year round and I get critical feedback from you on what's working and what's not. Ultimately I'd like to get back to the root of why I launched this label in the first place.

I also want to bring in other female artists and designers into the store aside from the incredibly talented ones we already have, creating more opportunity for entrepreneurs and independent labels to gain exposure. I'd like for the space to feel exciting and fresh, with new things to look at and learn about. 

Finally, 2024 is going to be a year of some pretty big personal growth (as I find each year is), and I want to make sure that I create the space to learn and explore that growth. A mantra that I'd like to maintain during this new year is my worth is not determined by my productivity.

As a society, we have conditioned ourselves to equate our value with how hard we work, whatever that work may be. But we are so much more than our productivity levels. We contribute to our communities in so many unseen ways - emotional support, critical problem-solving, sharing creativity, providing different perspectives, volunteer work...the list goes on. Down time is an overlooked yet critical part of how we let our brains process things, and when we are doing all this contributing, it's important to give brains a little time to breathe. 

So in addition to focusing on creating new things, bringing in newness into the store, and supporting other artists, I also am going to put some effort in creating space for down-time, or self-care - moving my body, being in nature, reading good books, cooking for loved ones, and exploring new places.


It's a lofty list of 2024 goals, and I may not do everything exactly the way I had planned (let's be honest, most likely will not do everything as planned). But the great thing about these life chapters is that we are writing them as we go. The story will inevitably change, and priorities will be reassessed, but there is always the promise of a new chapter.

1 comment

Such an inspiring message to us all! Congratulations on all your achievements and so glad I got to interview you for Harper’s Bazaar ❤️

Anna Azade

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