Have you ever followed an Instagram account, because you love the vibe, the aesthetic and the messaging, and then you meet the person behind it and find yourself loving it even more? Well that happened to me when I met Deshaun from Bloom & Flow.
Deshaun is the founder of Bloom & Flow, a space that celebrates the female form. Deshaun showcases her beautiful line drawings through Instagram, @BloomandFlow, sells prints of her iconic designs through her online shop and, in non COVID times, brings women together through workshops and events. Sisters, look out, as soon as the restrictions lift I’m booking us onto one of these!
She describes Bloom & Flow as her “side hustle” and manages it alongside her day job, working in events and marketing. I was keen to learn more about Deshaun’s experience not only because she is a mixed race woman in Nottingham, like me, and because I’m bringing more voices to join the conversation of “Oo! That’s A Bit Racey!”, but to celebrate some of the inspiring role models out there doing their thing.
I love the term Black Excellence. It’s an empowering and positive phrase. It gives us respite from the challenging work that comes with anti-racism and helps balance our points of view by celebrating brilliance. I hope this interview goes some way to celebrating the beauty of Bloom & Flow and to elevating some of the amazing things happening in our communities.
Deshaun describes her creativity as her “super power” and as soon as she said those words, I knew this was going to be a great conversation.
Deshaun makes beautiful art, and her pieces are so much more than pretty pictures. They come from a place of wisdom, experience, global citizenship and empowerment. So let me start from the beginning.
As she approached the end of her school days, Deshaun decided to follow her love of art to university, and took a year out to travel before embarking on her degree. She taught English at a girls’ orphanage in Sri Lanka and through her experience there, witnessed the disparity between men and women so common across the globe. It fuelled a passion to support and celebrate women.
After more traveling Deshaun threw herself into a degree in Graphic Communications and Illustration.
She got used to being the only brown face in the room and found the courage to use her art as a form of activism. She put herself into her work by taking some of her personal experiences as a young woman of colour, calling out the back-handed compliments and misogyny she often endured (if you know, you know……,..microaggressors are not very original, so I don’t need to list the dozen or so phrases/come-ons/offensive one liners we often hear….) and decided to make a statement.
Deshaun developed a powerful, feminist and anti-racist social campaign called #MicroAggressionsAreMajor.
She took those common or garden variety phrases, created strikingly beautiful line drawings, and placed them in shopping centres where she could reach as many people in her local community as possible.
It took courage.
When Deshaun first spoke to her tutor group about her plans, she was met with blank stares. Maybe she was the only person on her degree course to have experienced these things, or maybe no one else felt brave enough to vocalise their feelings, or they didn’t understand the things Deshaun described. These things weren’t commonly talked about, and Deshaun inevitably questioned herself but went ahead anyway, because she knew it mattered.
Even the titles of Deshaun’s pieces tell a story….
“Peace of Mind” reflects on the importance of finding peace in your own mind and body. “Constantly Evolving” centres on the fact that we’re all from everywhere, in different stages and from different places. No-one is really “from” anywhere. “Bloom” is a call to action to take up space, to step into your power and to stop apologising for who you are.
Deshaun’s business name, “Bloom and Flow” is an instruction to all of us. It reminds us that self-development is a constant process. Learning to go with the flow enables us to blossom. And when we’re in bloom, we have the strength to make a difference in the world.
From simply admiring Deshaun’s artistic talent, I now know so much more about the meaning behind her work. Something I treasure from our conversation is the knowledge that none of us fighting for equality is doing it alone.
There are many fabulous individuals using their voices, and the more we talk about this stuff, the stronger we become. The more we celebrate each other’s efforts and champion each other’s causes, the more impact we have.
I’m fighting for anti-racism in my own humble way. Deshaun is fighting for female empowerment through beauty and art and celebration.
If you want to enjoy something uplifting, beautiful and meaningful on your Instagram feed, follow @bloomandflow. And if you have a story to tell, drop me a line, join the conversation.
Thanks for reading, friends. And thanks for speaking with me Deshaun.