Black Minimalists: Charmaine Griffin
Charmaine is the founder of Hello Charmaine and Kollective Koils. You can also find her writing around the web. She is hosting the May #blkminchat Twitter chat on minimalist travel over at Black Minimalists on Thursday, May 5th.
What propelled you into a minimalist lifestyle?
So minimalism kinda found me three years ago when I didn't even know there was a name for it. I started cleaning out my closet because at the time I was stressed, unhappy, and I felt like I needed to do something to start fresh. I started with my closet because I had a beautiful walk-in that I couldn't walk into! I had clothes and shoes literally busting out of the door, which was a clear indicator that it was time to let some things go. I bagged up clothes I hadn't worn in at least 6 months, took them to my favorite thrift store in Long Beach called Tattered, and after doing that I realized this was not the only area of my life I needed to "clean up". So my closet was just the beginning. My bedroom was a hot mess, my car, and then to get even bigger than that my finances needed desperate help. That year I made it a point to get things in order after literally just starting with my closet.
You recently returned from South Korea after teaching abroad for a year. What life lessons did you learn from your experience? How did living abroad impact your minimalist journey?
Living and teaching in South Korea taught me that life could be a whole lot more simple than what I made it. I suffer from anxiety. My anxiety was taking over my life. Even though I slowly started getting rid of my stuff when I got too anxious or stressed my living space would turn into a tornado. That battle ended in Korea. I started reading The Essential Essays by The Minimalists, who opened me up to authors such as Leo Babauta, Courtney Carver of Project 333, and Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. It also put a name and structure to what I needed to consistently do in my life... minimize. I learned to only focus on what I needed, get rid of the excess. This helped with my anxiety because I no longer had a bunch of stuff, I stayed organized and I maintained simplicity.
How do you manage your professional and personal obligations, along with your blog, social media, and desire to travel?
I'm a planner. I try not to plan too too far ahead, but I at least have a idea of what my goals are for the next 6 months. I make sure to tackle small goals on a daily basis (usually no more than 3) related to my blog, social media and personal obligations.
One of your goals is writing full-time. How has writing transformed the way you understand your world and the world around you?
Writing gave me a voice when I didn't have a way to share my story. So in that, I'll always have a connection to writing. I use it as a tool to help connect me with different communities. Because of my writing I've learned to pay more attention to the relationships I have, stories I hear and the commitment of staying authentic.
Your piece on For Harriet about being tired of already successful white men teaching others how to become rich resonated with me. It's something I've struggled to articulate since I entered the realm of online entrepreneurship. What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs struggling to find their place and identity in the business world?
Consistency is the key. Without consistency you'll get caught up in the struggles of the present and it can deter you from doing the work. Make the commitment to do the work and watch your business flourish. It takes time for anything that you want to succeed and grow. I've learned this from living in Korea, it took almost a year before I saw real growth to my blog or Kollective Koils. I toughed it out by continuing to do the work.
Similarly, I experienced the same exhaustion from reading about privileged, white men share their stories of embracing minimalism. Giving everything up and living simply with a thriving business or severance package in hand is a lot different from many of our stories. The reason why I started Black Minimalists was because something was missing between their stories of our stories. What is your take on black minimalism and how we can influence our community by living simply?
Black minimalism is necessary. It embraces the idea that the "American Dream" we once sought after can look different. By living with less we are encouraging ourselves to focus on what's most important in our lives. We also get to save money! Which is an awesome perk. Right now the opportunities are endless for Black people, so living simply will just give us the chance to pursue them.
Tell us about your brand Kollective Koils. Was this a passion project and how does it fit into your message (if it does at all) of "living life simply"?
Kollective Koils was 100% a passion project. I saw a need for promotion of natural hair bloggers. There are tons of natural hair bloggers out there, most of them putting tireless hours to get exposure like the top bloggers. I love natural hair and as a big YouTube viewer I realized instead of starting another natural hair blog, I'd dedicate a brand solely for natural hair bloggers. It doesn't fit into the idea of "living life simply" because it's a different entity but I've definitely incorporated minimalist practices in running the brand.
Where can we learn more about you?
I offer minimalism life coaching, it's great because you can book one hour with me to start your capsule wardrobe or to plan out simplifying your finances, we aren't limited to where we simplify. To do so send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can reach me directly on twitter. I love answering questions about minimalism. So tweet me @_hellocharmaine.
Learn more about Black Minimalists.