Year-End Thoughts from Caroline 2023
We must reclaim joy outside of the artificial "cheer" it is often reduced to.
There is a joy that is defiant. A portal to survival for our ancestors. A way to say, we will not be captive to despair nor abandon our belief in beauty. Joy with teeth.
Never complacent, always ready. ~ Cole Arthur Riley (@blackliturgies)
It has been a chaotic year. Joy with teeth.
Between February and June, my family and I, and the entire business of VINTA Gallery moved physical places three times (I’ve been WFH before it was an acronym). Home renovation is so much joy with teeth 😁 My stress and gratitude danced together every day. We moved back in, finally, in mid-June with much of the dusty work still happening.
With that chaos in the background, we brought on Danica Hooper to cover for Mica Garcia’s (E-commerce Manager) maternity leave. We also brought on Nana Moore to be our fractional CFO. Sydney had to make the Philippines trip without me. With everyone diving into their own deep ends, we launched our warmly received bridge collection, Pamana, in August.
Mica, now mama to two boys, is back; Danica has now transitioned to the Social Media Manager role. And Nana is tightening up our vinta as we head into the storm forecasted in 2024 by industry leaders. We all work from home mostly, meeting as needed. Although we all work separately, every single one of these women, including Sydney in Los Angeles, Desiree in Siargao Island, and Bernadette and the atelier staff in Parañaque City, while living full lives, contribute to this work wholeheartedly. Everyday I am in awe of what we are able to accomplish together and am so grateful to be working in community with them. We may be the only multi-national small business out there and powered by Filipina women only.
Syd celebrated her and VINTA’s first year in Los Angeles. Our community in Los Angeles just keeps on giving. Filipino American History Month inspired us to contribute and become a sponsor for SIPA (during their annual fundraising gala end of September), of the oldest and largest Filipino community organizations in North America, led by the inimitable Kimmy Maniquis. We hope to build and carve out meaningful collaborations with SIPA in the coming year.
I am often struck by the dangerous narcissism fostered by spiritual rhetoric that pays so much attention to individual self-improvement and so little to the practice of love within the context of community. ~ bell hooks
We had our fair share of defiant joy this year. My statement about the Broadway musical Here Lies Love was about how supporting our community can happen at the same time as critique. Joy with teeth. Putting that out was highly controversial. We got hate mail for it, and people made threats about no longer supporting my business. My critique of the project was perceived as “crab mentality,” but if you think about it in the context of who put the crabs in the bucket in the first place, it changes the paradigm. Part of our ethos of being community facing as a company means that we use our platform to check on US, our community.
Then October 7th happened. And it’s been 84 days and a ceasefire still has not happened. Syd made a public statement. It’s personal for her. Business has not been as usual, and we’re not sure if it ever will be again to be honest. But the truth is that we don’t want to go back to usual anyways. The world is radicalizing at an exponential rate right before our eyes, and it has been empowering to see people unite and take loud and disruptive action. And we will continue to take loud and disruptive action until all colonized folx are free. Liberation is right around the corner.
This all unfolded at the same month as our first ever sample sale in Los Angeles, and our drop of our first t-shirt, Know Your Fucking History. The chaos made sense. The joy of meeting our VINTA friends in LA was salve to the wound of the horrors that was playing out in Palestine. This, further reiterated our ikigai — an ancient concept for the Japanese which simply translates to as “a reason to get up in the morning.” (Mogi, 2018) For this we want to express our gratitude to our LA kapwa.
As the year comes to a close, we prepare for the forecasted storm of 2024, or rather the continuing storm. We have a couple of really big, exciting things we are launching this coming year. Syd and I are booked to go to Manila in February, which is always fun and exciting. Not gonna lie though, the work to maintain sustainability of the business, our employees and our families looks more challenging with the economic repercussions of 2023’s sobering global events. We push ever onward with our joy growing bigger, sharper teeth.
We are forever grateful for the community we have gathered around VINTA Gallery. Thank you for celebrating our culture and our gorgeousness and showing out with us, despite our flaws. The sobering realities of waking life these days, the contradictions we have to balance, we take pride in the honest living we are making doing what we love. It isn’t easy. Never complacent, always ready.
Maraming salamat sa inyong suporta. Ikinahahalaga po namin ito. Sana ang inyong bagong taon ay maliwanag at puno ng biyaya 💖
Caroline Mangosing + the VINTA Gallery Team