A Threefold Cord is not easily broken
The signs were plenty in the beginning - the number 3 began to appear with frequency on many a fruitful occasion, including when we first started to sell together as 3 Women at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and our assigned booth was 3333. But it was this next coincidence that assured us we were on the right path and is the basis for our brand’s mission of creative collaboration, community, and love.
Crystal, en route to pick up 3 industrial clothing racks from a gentleman in Los Angeles, knew in her heart that this was a man of God, even though they had only spoken a few times. Even still, when he confirmed that he was indeed a pastor of a church (on 333 Eucalyptus Street!), she was shook. As the Pastor secured the racks with rope to the top of her truck bed, the scripture was given, “A Threefold Cord is not easily broken”.
We have overcome the challenges associated with running a small business in uncertain times by harking back to this guiding message. Coincidence means “together with” and surely, we owe our success to the many people we have worked with along the way. Whether we’re creating a custom piece with our customers or producing our latest Threefold Cord / Made in Los Angeles collection, it takes at least 3 people, often more, to create a thing of enduring beauty.
Special thanks to our print designer, Kim Mejia; production manager, Misha Kaur Gill, photographer, Daniel Hermosillo, and models Andres, Chavez, Jenn, Niko, Patricia, Skye, Steph, Tomisin, and Zuly in bringing Threefold Cord to life. As we begin our campaign, we’ve asked what collaboration and community means to them.
With love & gratitude,
Crystal Lee Early & Natalie Mumford
SHOP THE COLLECTION
Daniel Hermosillo aka Danny is a visual storyteller. They’re a non-binary photographer, visual artist, creative director, and more. They're the stunning photographer of our first Threefold Cord campaign. “I started creating at a very young age. Sketching in lined notebooks, using computer programs to digitally paint, and making cute little drawings for family and friends. I was always very shy and unable to use my voice. Growing up queer in a Latine environment was not the business, but it pushed me to create and think outside the box. I wish things were different for me growing up but nonetheless, I'm healing from that and a big chunk of that healing comes from creating. Pushing those boundaries and slowly eradicating that toxicity in the community.”
Community plays a huge role in their art practices. They reflect on the quote by Audre Lorde, “Without community, there is no liberation.” “When creating art, I strive to create a safe space for everyone involved. I think about who will view the work, who will feel seen and understood. It’s very important to keep that in mind so it shows in my work. Community is healing, and beautiful.”
Most of their projects are collaborative and cleverly calls them creative potlucks. “It’s so beautiful seeing everyone’s offerings and talents create something great. Also goes back to creating community and sharing space.”
Their favorite work in 2021 was a project produced with their friend Zuly called Chosen Family. “We had our friends join us from styling, directing, filming, set/production design, and modeling. It was surreal seeing so many queer folks in one room, being celebrated for things we were shamed for growing up, seeing how beautiful we are in our own skin. Celebrating our differences and our likeness. Chosen families are important for those of us who didn’t have the support or freedom to be ourselves growing up. The love and support received from your chosen family is unlike anything experienced. We created stunning images and a really dope fashion film by our friend Enkrypt.”
“Do everything with intention. Don’t let people’s projections stop you from reaching your fullest potential. Keep going even when things might not be working in your favor. Ask the universe for what you need, and work towards it. Enjoying the fruits of your labor takes patience, love, dedication. Water those seeds that will nourish you and help you grow to your fullest potential. Support your homies, buy their art, share their work.”
Danny looks forward to creating with more queer folks and those from marginalized communities and continues to “tear down outdated beliefs and make the world around them a safer and more colorful place.”
Zuly García is a Los Angeles born x raised creative that works in Photography, Creative Direction, and Production Design. “My work highlights members of our community and our shared lived experiences in our cultural diaspora that our world does not always document.” Their work ranges from Visual Sociology, Campaign work for brands such as Nike, Foot Locker, Foot Action, and Fashion. They’re currently working on Google's new Pixel 6 Real Tone camera to improve image making for BIPOC in tech.
“Community is the essence of my art because it documents history, art, aesthetics, culture, and emotion. I believe as a BIPOC our history has always been demolished or hidden. Documenting my community has been a form of dismantling those challenges and creating a space for others to feel seen and heard.”
Collaborating is one of their favorite things to do, “especially with other creatives like myself due to our ability to share ideas and different perspectives or techniques in our field.” They believe collaborating “helps us grow as artists and amplifies our individuality to make something beautiful as a collective for the world to share and see.”
Their favorite project of 2021 was a collaboration project with Daniel Hermosillo and Areli Arellano. Ther project, Chosen Family, was a high fashion 80s-vogue inspired shoot/ production design project that highlighted how members of the LGBTQA+ community find safe spaces in community when their own homes are not an option to be our true authentic selves. “This project means so much to me as a Non-binary person because safe spaces are essential to our existence and I would not be here if it weren’t for my chosen family support."
They look forward to getting back into storytelling this year and going back to their roots. "In 2022 I want to amplify more voices and more stories through creative direction and Sociology."
“If you find joy in your art/passions- please keep investing into it and don’t give up. Our success does not have a specific timeline and an investment in your art is an investment in your higher self. The growth is not in making it but getting up regardless of the outcome in the name of LOVE AND ART! We all start somewhere <3”
Steph Oh is a Latina writer/director who focuses on Latine stories and representation in film. “Directing can’t exist without collaborating. There are so many minds behind what you see on screen. I appreciate input and discussion to make sure we put the best work out there.” Checkout her 2021 short film Calabaza, a project with Latine in front and behind the scenes that tackles alcoholism and other topics that affect the Latine community. To show support, she encourages everyone to watch Latine tv shows and films. “The views help us be able to make more. Also, support up-and-coming BIPOC filmmakers in your community too.”
Patricia Orene Blanton
Patricia Orene Blanton is a Los Angeles based artist who works mostly with crochet. With a photography school background, she moved over to textiles over the course of the pandemic and is fulfilled by being able to work with her hands. She focuses on accessories and clothing in her work and dove into learning the art of crochet in 2022. She recently created a tote bag as a personal project that became a big inspiration in her work.
She believes that community is at the base of most artwork. “To have people around you who inspire you and to collaborate make some of the best work I’ve ever seen. Personally, sharing work I’ve created can be a vulnerable thing to do and having community support is the necessary push to share and participate.”
She loves collaborating with the people she’s creating for. “They’re willing to support a smaller artist and I definitely want to make sure it’s something they’re going to love and feel good wearing.” She’s looking forward to collaborating with different artists this year to make funky textiles pieces!
Andres Herrera is a freelance photographer and the Communications Director at Youth Mentoring Action Network. “I’m so proud to be a part of the YMAN team, we work and advocate for youth on so many different levels. Being a part of a youth led organization definitely keeps me on my toes, the youth are quite literally my bosses at the end of the day.” They approach their work through the lens of critical mentoring. “We do everything from cross generation discussions about race/sexuality to getting our youth in the room with some of the best producers and musicians to learn/make music. That being said, if you work for a youth serving organization make sure you are collaborating with them when building programming and PAY THEM for the work they do with you!”
“Growing up I felt like I had to do everything myself, the only person who was ever going to advocate for myself was me. For so many years once I fell into doing photo work I would do everything myself, it was exhausting. Slowly realizing that there was a community of talented and skillful people who were willingly and able to help me was groundbreaking. Asking for help initially was so tough but I couldn’t imagine being able to execute these grand concepts without help from the homies. Community is everything, especially as a queer person. Every bit of my art is inspired by the folks around me, my friends are such a light in my life and I’m constantly inspired by their existence.”
They love creating portraits, so community was always deeply embedded in their work. “This is so cheesy, but COVID really flipped my life upside down. Not being able to see my friends took so much out of me, that fire inside me was so dimly lit for a long time and I had to engage in a lot of self reflection about what made me happy, confusion around gender identity, and what my overall growth as a person was.”
“I put my mental health first, and looked at my camera and knew I was going to be there once I figured my shit out. I’m so excited to say that the fire inside me is brighter and stronger than it's ever been. Learning to lead with love, learning to love myself more deeply, and learning to not take the chosen family around me for granted. Stay tuned for all the exciting projects and art that I’m making this year, I’m just getting started!”
Jenn Torres is a multifaceted freelance creative from South Central Los Angeles. She directs, produces, styles, and models. “My whole career and existence is centered in community. I wouldn’t be here without my friends and loved ones. I started my career as a model by collaborating as much as I could.” She feels very fortunate to be able to create with her friends on sets. “There are not many BIPOC creatives that get the flowers that they deserve- however through community and finding your people it’s been beautiful to witness my friends grow and get the recognition that they deserve.”
Her favorite project of 2021 was directing and starring in, “A Part of Me”, a video created in collaboration with Brandie Wed and Enkrypt Los Angeles. ‘A Part of Me was a love letter to our streets. We showcased women from LA being proud about their homes.” This project was her directorial debut. “With the help of Brandie and Enkrypt we were able to create a piece of our love for our city.” This year she looks forward to creating with friends and seeing where it takes her.
Skye Bennike is a model, photographer, creative director, poet and so much more, but doesn’t limit herself by a label. “I never want to feel like I am boxing myself in when it comes to the work I do. At my core, I am a creative person of many mediums and a lover of life! I grew up being very creative and was surrounded by those who had many talents and passions. I feel like that influenced and shaped me in many ways. My passions and curiosity for life are endless.”
Community is the foundation for a lot of her creative endeavors. “My community, my family and my chosen family, my ancestors – they have helped pave the way for me to achieve my goals and dreams.”
Her favorite project in 2021 was working with Urban Outfitters and Converse. “I got to creative direct, film content and talk about the importance of community and what it means to me. I got to discuss my passion for community culture and creativity as well as support an organization that I admire! Really hoping to do more work like that this year. And speaking of this year, I am really looking forward to hosting an Art Show to bring the LA community together. So stay tuned. :) Fun things are happening y'all! You’ll wanna be there.”
She leaves us with the motivation and sweet sentiment we all need to hear, “Be true to you. Lead with love. YOU ARE THAT B!!!”
Half Past in the A.M.
Tomisin Oluwole (Tomiluw) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Long Beach. She was born and raised in Nigeria, but moved to California in 2015 to study fashion merchandising. Her artistic mediums include: poetry, painting, and fashion styling. Presently, she’s pursuing her Masters in Linguistics at California State University, Long Beach, and simultaneously creating more art.
“I think community plays a very vital role for everyone yet alone an artist like me. It feels good to belong somewhere and have genuine rapport with people of like minds. There are so many creatives that I admire, and we all support each other which is very wholesome. A huge part of being an artist is learning to overcome one’s imposter syndrome, and for me, I know that motivation doesn’t always come from within. And that’s where community support comes in as a reminder that my art has value and is worthwhile.”
“Collaboration is important for me because it’s wonderful to create with others. Being able to share ideas and watch them come into reality is a feeling that I can’t really describe. Working with people who are just as passionate and intentional about their art, is really pure bliss. It motivates and also reminds me that what I'm doing, what we’re all doing, is for a higher purpose, so keep going.”
She doesn’t have a favorite project in particular from 2021. “Everything I make has a piece of me, and it’s hard to pick favorites haha but I do know that this year, my motto is to let go and trust the process. I’d like to apply that to my creative pursuits as well. I want to create for myself firstly, and tune out whatever noise or distractions I was dealing with last year.”
Her final words, “Let go and let God <3 (or whatever higher power you believe in).”
Cristian Chavez AKA Chavez recently graduated from CSULB with a Bachelor’s degree in Consumer Affairs and a minor in Public Relations. He works with BYO Long Beach (a sustainable refill station here in Long Beach and our shop neighbor!) providing the community with the option to shop sustainably through home and personal care refills.
“Having the opportunity to be in this space, I’ve come to understand the value of collaborative community work and aim to be a pillar of support for sustainable and vegan living in Long Beach. Alongside my best mate and fellow BYOLB coworker, Niko, we are working towards building a food focused organization to provide these resources and knowledge to our community.”
You must be the change you wish to see in the world -Mahatma Gandhi
Niko Billew is working towards a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. He also works at BYO Long Beach with Chavez.
Niko and Chavez met in their freshman year of college rushing the same fraternity at CSULB. “Our friendship grew while helping one another with positions we were holding in the fraternity at the time. That has grown into the strong bond we have today. Helping one another as we take on new challenges!”
Collaboration is important in community because it allows for us to reach beyond our circles and gives people a chance to understand another perspective.
Niko and Chavez have a project in the works centered around health, education and community. “Hope to share with you all and be a resource to our Long Beach community soon! “
Kimberly Mejia is a creative artist raised and based in Long Beach, CA. She works in graphic design, art and textile design. She is the print designer for our Threefold Cord clothing line. The Get Happy! design is inspired by the iconic rice, flour and feed sack imagery we adore and features the dragon from Crystal Lee Early's, family's 1950s Chinese frozen foods business, Dragon Foods. We met Kim around the time we opened our shop in The East Village Arts District of Downtown Long Beach. Kim and Danny (the photographer of this project) are also longtime friends!
Community is extremely important to her art. “It’s vital to know your community to be able to network and collaborate. 90% of what I do is collaborative. I love to work with others to help execute a unique unified vision. It’s important to be able to gain different perspectives and to get out of your own brain from time to time. Art seems to bloom with collaboration. Being able to interact and talk about it really helps things grow into something so much bigger.”
Her favorite project of 2021 was being able to create and design her own line of silk scarves under her brand, Splendid Circumstances. “It’s been something that has brought me so much joy. I love seeing the scarves out in the world and how others interact with them. Along with that, being able to design and collaborate with 3 Women. Creating a garment was an amazing opportunity. I’m looking forward to a few more projects coming up with them in 2022!”