Black Minimalists: Nikki Terry
When and why did you start your minimalist journey?
I was born a minimalist. I also copied my Dad. His style: dress pants, white cotton V-neck t- shirt and thong toe sandals. Aside from a suit for church, this was his every day swag. I remember thinking how simple and sexy it all was. No, actually I thought it was all beautiful.
Being a minimalist is how I see things. It's a need to have a clutter-free mind. I’m a minimalist so I can understand the important things in my life. I come from a complicated childhood and often, things felt confusing and problematic. Moving out on my own, I had a difficult time navigating what my thoughts were, how to value my own time, or how to enjoy things without wavering back and forth between ‘not sure’ or ‘maybe so’. I suppose the minimalist GODS were waiting for me because moving into my first apartment, minimalism found me in the most organic way. I immediately and instinctively felt a need to have one of everything. Aside from my bed, I had one dinner tray, a small stereo, one chair, one set of flatware, and a few plates. I did have lots of bath towels ranging in hues of gray. My friends found it weird, but I thought my choices made my place ready for Elle Decor. Being a minimalist brought a lot of calm to a world that felt overwhelming.
What lessons have you learned since going minimalist?
I have learned people think in order to be a minimalist, you have to have money or be of a certain class. NOT TRUE.
I am a minimalist to the core. I don’t have a lot of money and I definitely did not come from a middle class nor upper middle class family. I believe in monochromatic interior space. I have a particular eye for clothing. I keep the interior of my car clean and free of almost everything outside of the panel board. I have a certain aesthetic that I enjoy when I dress. None of this makes me someone with money. Minimalism for me is all about emotional and mental space. These things make me happy, and calm. It creates a space for me to understand the value of who I am. Being a minimalist has nothing to do with class but has everything to do with those moments in life where there are no blinders, no noise, nor clutter.
What are your goals in living simply?
I'm an artist. My job is to recreate how I see the world. There are aspects of life that are beautiful and quiet, pretty and empty, or dark and loud. Being a minimalist helps me to see and understand these human qualities. I approach the canvas slowly and paint what I see.
Has minimalism impacted other areas of your life?
I thought to mention how minimalism has impacted my life as an artist, but then I decided to talk about the strongest impact minimalism has made on my life. How I choose my friends. I’m not saying that my friends have to be minimalist but I try to have relationships that are deliberate and without competition.
What if any surprises or challenges have you encountered?
The biggest challenge encountered as a minimalist was finding a partner who also believed in minimalism or at least understood it. Some women I have dated referred to me as ‘cheap’. Even friends called me ‘cheap’. I never saw it that way. I think of myself as fiscally savvy (smile). But seriously, I never saw myself as cheap but just a strong pull to stay true to what I enjoy. Now, my Partner, she is a minimalist too. It’s wonderful! She is just as committed to a minimalist lifestyle as me. Decorating our place is easy and fun. We enjoy monochromatic palettes and gosh, it's great having a partner who is okay with not having a television.
What mindset changes have you experienced?
Accepting some people can’t understand minimalism. They don’t get it. I don’t fuss about it. I just do my thing.
What advice do you have for someone interested in simplifying her life?
My advice is simple, go for it. If it feels right, enjoy it. If you don’t want to buy a television, don’t. If you don’t want three sets of flatware, have only one. If you want all the hangers in your closet to be chrome, have them and let them face the same direction. Whatever or however you want to simplify your life, go for it and never second guess that desire.
Where can we learn more about you?
Anything you would like to add?
Being a minimalist does not involve snobbery. It simply involves the joys of having as close to a clutter free life as possible.