Let me say that great ideas come when you’re least expecting them.
This blog, for instance. I know it isn’t great yet (it hasn’t even started), but it will be. Wait. It will tell stories. It will remind you of your push to be alive.
I would like to introduce it.
DC is suffering from one of those interminable winters in which multiple arctic vortexes bring bitter wind and heaps of snow. The snow has been so deep, on occasion, that even bound-and-determined private sector companies like mine have called off work for snow days. One of these was back in February. Sylvia was in her house in Virginia doing art or sewing or doing any one of the various wonderful and creative things she’s bound to do, and I was in my house practically going psycho because anyone who knows me knows that I can’t spend more than two hours without seeing at least 25 people. If I’m left alone cooped up in my house and physically unable to go outside, I will lose my mind. Sylvia evidently was also starved for people because when I called her, we talked for two hours, maybe more.
We spent a lot of the call catching up and complaining or musing about life. Ordinary things. But then, brilliantly (because she is brilliant, in a very understated way), Sylvia came up with the idea that she wanted to start a brand. “What do you mean?” I asked. (and I’m paraphrasing here because I don’t remember every little detail but she said) “A brand. Something people will follow and be a part of.” “Not just clothing,” I clarified, “a mentality.” “Yeah!” said Sylvia, “do you want to start it with me?”
Sylvia is very quick to include others, and I am very quick to say yes to any and every offer of everything. It was such that within three weeks we had expanded the idea, and Sylvia’s blog-savvy sister Elisa had it up and running. We move quickly around here.
We wanted the brand to represent our generation. To be for us. At first, we wanted to create something new, something that would both represent our generation, and also something it could grow into. We hated how the media put so much pressure (whether recognized or not) on self image and how inherently self-promotional social media compounded that. We also wanted to provide an alternative to emulating Hollywood and other stars. We didn’t feel that admiration was self-affirming or otherwise satisfying, and frankly, we were also a little bit bored.
Which is how we arrived at The Unfamous. Why is everyone following “the Stars?” we asked. What about all the other people out there? What about all the regular people that do awesome things? Why don’t we follow them? We should, we thought. Not the famous people but the infamous. All the ordinary people doing awesome things in their everyday lives. Turns out we didn’t even have to create a brand, or a mentality. We could simply chronicle one that already existed.
You meet incredible people everywhere you go and often unexpectedly. Our friendship is a case in point. A friend of mine, whom I had met in Spain after commenting to her that she looked right out of the 1920s, was interning for Shakespeare Theatre Company here in DC. She invited me to the opening of a show, and at the opening I met another intern who enthusiastically invited me to the after party, despite only having met me three minutes before. Being the social consumer I am, I took him up on the offer, and as the story goes, I introduced myself to Sylvia, learned she had just arrived in DC, and announced we were going to be friends. And now we are.
Sylvia and I are both talkers. We talk to people at bus stops, in checkout lines, in parks, and at parties. We collect stories. Talk to people and you’ll learn so much. People all over the place are doing crazy and phenomenal things. We’ll highlight them and also some of our own thoughts — on change, identity, happiness, and all those other pretentious but important topics we know you’re thinking about too. We want this to be a forum and an open book. Life is confusing as hell, especially in the phase we’re in. Most mornings I wake up and think, first, Woah! Another day! and second, What in the what is going on. But that’s the amazing thing about where we are right now. Anything could happen. Everything could happen. It’s a blank slate.
I went to the National Portrait Gallery’s American Cool exhibit today, which showcases nearly 200 photographs of American icons — pioneers, beauties, rebels, game changers … people who garnered Star Status for their grit, courage, artistry, wit, and resilience. Like everyone else, I was there to see my favorite stars and pay my respects. Some of my favorite jazz musicians, writers, and actors are featured. And they are cool.
But hey, so are we.
Famous, unfamous. We are the next generation.