charles moon

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Like a lot of military kids, Charles Moon is used to being on the move. When he was younger, that meant new cities and new schools. Now as an adult and creative, that means being open to experimenting with new ideas, projects, and media. 

Charles’ many titles (DJ, sound engineer, photographer, event producer... the list goes on), his eagerness to keep learning, and his love for outer space inspired this month’s theme: explore.

Charles’ first experiments with beats and production started in high school. In the early days, he and his friends would beat boredom by rapping on beats that Charles would create. His friends’ positive reactions and enthusiasm provided him with validation that he was good enough to keep going and fueled Charles to pursue music more seriously.

His interests in music carried on into his college years at Texas Tech where he was an Exercise Science student by day and a studio intern by night. His experience at the studio in Lubbock opened doors for him to refine his skills and expand into event production through ScoreMore Shows. 

I slept on a friend’s couch and applied to every studio that was in town, even walking up and knocking on doors.
nina ho // collective blue

nina ho // collective blue

A few years after graduating college, Charles admits that he “felt like he just hit a ceiling and couldn't do anything more.” His mentor cautioned that he would “plateau” if he stayed in Lubbock, so Charles heeded his advice to move to Austin.

“I slept on a friend's couch,” Charles recalls. “And applied to every studio that was in town, even walking up and knocking on doors.”

Charles’ persistence paid off and one of the major studios in Austin, Orb Recording Studios, hired him on as an intern.

“At first I was just a fly on the wall. I had a notebook and a stool and was sitting literally next to the shoulder of the engineers like, ‘What did you just do?’”

I had a notebook and a stool and was sitting literally next to the shoulder of the engineers like, ‘What did you just do?’

Charles’ constant pursuit of learning and evident passion for music catapulted him to the role of Studio Manager within two years. True to form, once he felt like he had learned all he could at Orb, Charles moved on to a completely new project: Thank You for Sweating.

Inspired by his tenure at ScoreMore Shows, Charles wanted to create a “late night free flowing party where every type of person you can think of is there enjoying each other and dancing and being sweaty.”

I love space. I love staring at the horizon, seeing as far as you can see, and not having any idea what’s out there.
nina ho // collective blue

nina ho // collective blue

He and his friend decided to pull the trigger on purchasing the domain on a wine-induced whim. At this point Charles had learned that there isn’t really ever going to be a “perfect” time for anything, and that some of life’s best opportunities come from not overthinking and simply taking the leap, even when you don’t quite know where you’ll land.

A life-long risk taker, Charles’ comfort with the unknown stems from his name, “Moon” and its ties to the limitlessness of outer space.

“I love space,” he reflects. “I love staring at the horizon, seeing as far as you can see, and not having any idea what’s out there.”

For Charles, looking up into the sky is a humbling reminder of his comparative size in the world. Gazing into the vastness of space and realizing that no matter what happens to him the world is going to keep spinning gives him a sense of freedom.

“I'm just not afraid to try something different,” asserts Charles. “I struggle with associating an identity with the work that I do. I don't ever want to limit myself to one genre or to one form.”

Thank You for Sweating and his other projects give him the opportunity to explore new ways to create and collaborate with other creatives in town.

“I created a haven for creatives to come and hang out and party and feel good. Now they're meeting each other and the work is expanding,” Charles shares. “I think that's awesome. I love connecting people and seeing what happens.”

When asked about what’s coming next, Charles admits that he takes it day by day.

“That's what life is about. It's just the constant pursuit of trying to learn more.”

Keep up with Charles’ projects on IG and follow Thank You For Sweating for the latest news on their events and parties!

hamaila qureshi

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The collective blue team – Nina and myself (Regine) – are constantly reflecting on what it means to be Asian-American and the expectations, beauty, and challenges that come with our respective backgrounds.

Within the context of a hyper-inclusive label (“Asia” consists of 48 countries), people are at different stages on their journey of unpacking the complexities of their respective cultural identity. In recognition of May as Asian and Pacific Heritage Month (APAHM), we’re featuring Hamaila Qureshi as this month’s creator.  Her discoveries about herself and the complex identities she holds inspired our theme: awaken.

Hamaila Qureshi is a local jewelry maker and entrepreneur. She’s also eager to let everyone know that she recently got a job at Limbo Jewelry, one of her favorite shops in Austin, as a Jewelry Production Assistant. Piece by piece, she’s creating a career and life for herself that brings her joy. However, the path to get to this place of creative expression and fulfillment wasn’t easy.

nina ho//collective blue

nina ho//collective blue

As the eldest daughter of four, Hamaila grew up with a distinct sense of familial responsibility. After high school, she went down the expected respectable Asian career path: pharmacy. Though it obviously wasn't where she was supposed to be, Hamaila toughed it out for two years to the detriment of her mental health and creative spirit. After a lot of tumultuous changes, she ultimately graduated with a degree in nutrition and moved to Los Angeles to work at a non-profit.

She returned to Austin after a year. Feeling like she had fulfilled her responsibility to pursue the “right” path (or at least attempt to), she decided to finally pursue the arts.

“I just started taking classes [at Austin Community College] to see what I liked, ” recalls Hamaila. “I started doing whatever I wanted to – art, metals, woodworking, graphic design, and drafting as well.”

It wasn’t until two years into her experimentation that she found something that stuck: jewelry making. An adult by the time she discovered her love and aptitude for creating jewelry pieces, she received some pushback from her family when she first started pursuing it as a career.

nina ho//collective blue

nina ho//collective blue

Making jewelry was far from the job  that her parents had envisioned for her, and it was difficult for them to understand why Hamaila would reject traditional stability or to even trust that she would find a way to make it work.

A part of that challenge stemmed from her Pakistani background. “Our community definitely treats women who are married versus unmarried very, very differently. They feel like you don't mature or become an adult until you are married,” asserts Hamaila. “[I’ve been trying to] bridge that gap with my mom. I understand I'm not married. … But that doesn't mean I'm still a child. I have my own thoughts and ideas and things I want to accomplish.”

As Hamaila gained traction not only as a jewelry maker but as an entrepreneur, her parents’ attitudes toward her creative path shifted.

“For the first few years of ACC classes, they were like, ‘What are you gonna do with this?’” shares Hamaila. “And then as soon as I started my own business, my mom was over the moon.”

Alongside her journey of crafting a fulfilling career, Hamaila shares her reflections on identity and what it means for her to be a modern Pakistan-American woman.

“For the longest time, I grew up in a bubble. I never analyzed my identity much,” Hamaila admits. “I was such a sheltered child. I always just listened to whatever my parents said without even questioning it. It was only in the last few years that I've stepped back and realized, ‘Wait a second, I should start thinking for myself.’”

For Hamaila, thinking for herself involved not only sorting out the conflicting influences in her life but also finding examples of what alternatives could look like for her. As Hamaila embedded herself more deeply into the creative and maker community, she started to realize that her identities as modern, Pakistani-American, and woman don’t need to clash. Rather, there are ways to express herself that are authentic and tie all the parts of her together.

“Now I'm finding more and more Pakistani women who are Muslims, but they manifested very differently than how I had seen it growing up,” reflects Hamaila. “And to me that just opens up so many doors.”

One particularly inspiring role model for Hamaila is Fatimah Asghar, a Pakistani-American poet,  filmmaker, educator, and performer. Women like Fatimah and other people Hamaila have connected with since pursuing creative work serve as both inspiration and living reminders of the opportunities that she can create for herself.

“I would have never imagined I'd be here a year ago,” reflects Hamaila. “A year ago, I was just starting to take classes in jewelry. I never thought that I would actually push myself and make my own community or my own company.”

You can support Hamaila’s work by following her on Instagram and buying her jewelry online and at local vendor markets. She’ll be participating in West Austin Studio Tour at the ACC Highland campus on May 11-12 and May 18-19.

If you’re particularly interested in the conversations around Asian-American womxn and identity, you can follow missfits fest on IG for the latest news on our event series in collaboration with in bold company.

On May 19, we’re collaborating Miranda Bennett Studio to throw Interwoven Histories: A Sunday Social to celebrate our shared histories as Asian-American womxn. Join us for community, a moderated panel, and opportunities to shop from female Asian-American makers curated by MBS.

We’ll also have light refreshments, an interactive art installation using zero waste scraps from Miranda Bennett Studio, and chances to win some fire raffle prizes. Tickets are available now!

Happy #APAHM, y’all.

the audacity

Every year, March and the coming of spring presents an opportunity to awaken. The days are longer, the chill and lethargy of winter starts to fade, and there’s a feeling of optimism in the air. To the collective blue team, March is particularly impactful as it’s Women’s History Month. Women, our sisterhood, and our visions for the future are a huge part of the foundation of our team and of our work. To celebrate this month’s theme of women, we’re featuring three women from The Audacity, “an editorial publication focused on addressing social political issues in a way that forefronts aesthetics.”

Erin Kuykendall (Editor in Chief), Melina Perez (Creative Director), and Maiya Evans’ (Head of Social Media) work and friendship serve as a bright example of what women can accomplish and become together.

nina ho//collective blue

nina ho//collective blue

The idea for The Audacity originally stemmed from Erin and Melina’s background in fashion and publishing. They worked together for a fashion magazine, and, though they loved the opportunity to create beautiful work, they wanted to produce something with a deeper meaning outside of just “new spring necklaces” and the latest “denim on denim” trends.

nina ho//collective blue

nina ho//collective blue

“It started to feel more and more unethical to not be talking about what's happening [politically],” shares Erin. “I love doing photo shoots. I like the visual aesthetics of fashion. And I like the act of putting together a publication. But there's a way that we can create that doesn't blatantly ignore what's happening around us.”

Understanding that opportunity doesn’t always just present itself, Erin and Melina set out to create that space for themselves with The Audacity.

“The magazine really solidified the fashion and activism aspects and made it one thing I could work on,” reflects Melina.

Maiya joined the team later on, with similar motivations to express herself meaningfully.

“I met Melina in class,” Maiya recalls with a playfully annoyed look. “She sat next to me in a room full of empty seats.”

After breaking the non-verbal rule of college classrooms, Melina invited Maiya to a party where she introduced Maiya and Erin to each other.

“I stayed after the party and helped them clean and we were singing ‘Higher’ by Rihanna while cleaning up balloons.”

The first issue of the magazine came out and [my mother] was like, ‘Oh, I can see this isn’t for good Christians.’ To which Erin responded empathically, “You’re damn tootin’!
— Erin

Founded on their shared motivations for progress and admiration for Riri, the baddest girl in fashion, The Audacity launched their first issue in Spring 2016. As the eldest daughter in a conservative family, Erin received some pushback from people back home. Regarding the magazine’s first issue, Erin remarks, “The first issue of the magazine came out and [my mother] was like, ‘Oh, I can see this isn't for good Christians.’”

To which Erin responded empathically, "You're damn tootin'!"

nina ho//collective blue

nina ho//collective blue

As a white woman in the space between creativity and activism, Erin recognizes not only her privilege but also her obligation to be a bridge between where she comes from and where she wants to go. Citing her younger female cousins as her motivation, she wants her work with The Audacity to present an alternative to gender norms and other harmful beliefs for future generations in her family.

“The reason [the work] is important is that it's visible. Other people see that someone is here fighting for you.”

Both Melina and Maiya also derive their motivation from their lived experiences. Melina grew up in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Manhattan that’s almost 50% Hispanic. Surrounded by a community that looked like her, Melina never had to question her place in the world as a young girl of color. When her family moved upstate, however, her new and unfamiliar environment caused her to question her own confidence and beauty.

“It was weird because I was so comfortable with myself, but then I would see white girls and I'd be like, ‘Well this is what pretty is.’ I found myself wanting to look like them, wanting to be skinny and wanting to assimilate,” reveals Melina. “It really affected me. I think it's really important that we're providing an outlet and visual representation for women of color.”

I think it’s really important that we’re providing an outlet and visual representation for women of color.
— Melina
nina ho//collective blue

nina ho//collective blue

Microaggressions were rampant all throughout my life. And so now I’m like, ‘No, YOU need to shut up.’
— Maiya

As a Black woman, Maiya is all too familiar with the intersections between racism and sexism. Growing up without an outlet to properly express the unfairness she constantly dealt with, Maiya sees The Audacity as a megaphone for all the anger and frustration she previously had to leave unsaid.

“Microaggressions were rampant all throughout my life. And so now I'm like, ‘No, YOU need to shut up.’”

In particular, regressive beliefs about what women “should” do with their lives inspired “The New Stepford,” a photo shoot featured in the magazine’s 6th issue.

“You can't force everyone to be this 50s housewife,” Maiya asserts. “You can't tell them that they have to have a family or what their family has to look like. Or, that they’re already 30 and can’t do anything else later.”

In today’s dense, 24-hour news cycle world, sometimes it can feel helpless to enact progress. It can be difficult to find the balance between patiently understanding that change happens slowly and staying committed to doing the emotionally draining work that needs to be done in order to bring about change. For the Audacity team, the magazine represents a way for them to find that balance and do work that they enjoy while still enacting change as individuals. And when they inevitably get tired and need to turn off for a bit, they have each other and their sisterhood to lean on.

You can support The Audacity through their new online shop! They have merch as well as physical copies of their zine issues on sale. Issue 7 is currently in the works, and the team is planning a release party in May.

Follow The Audacity on Instagram and Facebook to stay in the loop!