When Tayari invited me to come with her to Cozbi's shop to pick up a few things, I knew instantly that it would make the perfect inaugural video feature on 55 Secret Street! Yes, that's where I've been for the last few days, teaching myself how to do video - and I'm still learning so be kind...
Cozbi A. Cabrera (top center) sewing one of her signature muñecas. Tayari Jones (bottom left) is in a white Cozbi dress with friends in Ghana. The rest (from top left) children's books illustrated by Cozbi, a handcrafted purse. the boutique's storefront and Cozbi wrapping Tayari's purchase. Below on a model, a black lace dress from Cozbi's last collection. Click here if you are unable to see the video.
Nichelle Gainer: What was the inspiration behind your Spring 2009 line for women?
Cozbi A. Cabrera: My Spring Collection, like all of spring is about refreshing. No matter the economic climate, it must be invited in with clean windows and the forward leap of a clock. Unlike the year-end holidays that inspire busyness and gatherings in order to be observed, Spring is personal. It's about peeling off and confronting. So why not greet it in a bright orange 3/4 sleeve coat? Or a ruffle-bib sleeveless shirt dress in roasted gold?
Nichelle: When will it be available online?
Cozbi: We'll be e-commerce ready shortly! Online by the weekend of March 21 to coincide with our in-store Spring event.*
Nichelle: I know that many readers will ask about your hair (it's a fashion and beauty blog after all). What do you use on it and how long does it take you to do it?
Cozbi: I'm laughing at the hair question because people stop me on the street all the time. The funniest incidents always include a train, a closing door, and earnest lip reading through the glass of the train door to get that last hair tip which I always share freely. I'd be thrilled to address that in another blog!
Nichelle: How long have you been illustrating children's books?
Cozbi: I started with some board books way back in the early nineties that I wished would disappear, but haven't. It's hard to see earlier work, even if it was done with love. My latest books include Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt by Patricia McKissack and Most Loved in All the World by Tonya Cherie Hegamin -- two authors I adore.
Nichelle: On the painting you did of the little girl in your shop - what was the inspiration? The muñecas? You as a little girl?
Cozbi: Just a thing with me. I love images of little chocolate girls. Most of the manuscripts presented to me include them. Come to think of it, I unwittingly decide to make them chocolate! I grew up being called ugly, because I was dark. And to think I believed all those people! How utter
ly ridiculous. So those images acknowledge, affirm, and celebrate beauty in a really natural way. I like to see them take up space - abide - without shrinking, without apology.
* Cozbi has generously offered a special deal for 55 Secret Street readers. If you're in town, stop by her boutique for the Spring in-store event March 21 and 22, mention 55 Secret Street and get a 20% discount on your purchase! The offer is good only for the in-store event.