Presence 4.0 has been collaborating with Beyond Buckskin Boutique since our founding. Dr. Jessica Metcalfe, the boutique’s owner was one of our first supporters and as mentioned in a previous post, P4 is honored to continue this work through our P4xBBB partnership. As we prepare for our presence 4.0 and Beyond Buckskin Boutique Style Mixer on Friday, February 28, 2014, we wanted to share a special interview with the BBB founder and powerhouse of a woman. We hope you enjoy this special conversation and find some stylish inspiration in the mix.
P4: Jessica, for those not familiar with Beyond Buckskin Boutique, can you explain for our readers the mission behind your business?
JM: The Beyond Buckskin Boutique’s mission is simple: to promote and sell Native American-made fashion, clothing, jewelry, and accessories.
P4: What words would you use to describe your style?
JM: The words I would use to describe my style are feminine, diverse, practical, occasionally frivolous, semi-professional, quasi-sexy, sports-deficient, touch of culture.
My style is diverse. It has to be. I live in rural North Dakota, and whether it’s 40 below in the winter, or you’re soaking up that blazing prairie heat in the summertime, your wardrobe needs to be practical and varied. You need big coats and big boots to trudge through the snowdrifts in the dead of winter – thank goodness for fashionable mukluks – and you need sneakers, shorts and a tank for when you’re doing all that lawn work and house maintenance in the summer. I’ll kick off my shoes whenever I can, especially when I’m in my backyard. But I love heels, I feel short without them, and I’ve definitely weed-wacked in high heels (hey man, that extra height helps!).
I love wearing the colors white, purple, red, fuchsia, turquoise and black. I always wear statement earrings – whether they are beaded, powwow-inspired, colorful, silver, gold, and/or shimmering. I love earrings.
I travel a lot, and when I travel, I tend to be a bit edgier with my style. I wear a lot of dresses, skirts and heels. I was told I had ‘chicken legs’ by my childhood enemy, and so in my true rebellious nature, I show off those chicken legs any chance I get. When people cut you down and say bitchy things about your body, fuck ’em. Do it up – rock your ‘flaws’. I had a revelation when I was in NYC for the first time; we ended up at Fat Baby at midnight and everyone looked different – different shapes, sizes, colors, and different features, and they all looked so fierce! So unique, so beautiful. I danced the night away.
P4: You have worked hard to become a major authority on American Indian fashion, what continuously surprises you about the field you are still so passionate about?
JM: Many things continue to surprise me about this field of Native fashion. We still have many challenges- I’m always surprised by the lack of basic education about Native cultures by the general population. Most of the time, we are just at that lame “Last of the Mohicans”-level. Without this basic information, we are up against constant stereotyping fueled by ignorance. Thankfully, I am also surprised by successes as well- such as being recognized by CNN, and our work with Beyond Buckskin covered by major news or fashion sources. I’m also constantly surprised by all the amazing work being done by Native fashion designers like Jamie Okuma, Virgil Ortiz, Bethany Yellowtail, and too many others to name (just read Beyond Buckskin!). They keep knocking my socks off and I like it.
P4: What is your favorite American Indian piece of jewelry, accessory or piece of clothing you continuously wear?
JM: My favorite piece of jewelry that I constantly wear would be my beaded earrings that I bought myself for my doctoral graduation ceremony. I was proud of myself, not gonna lie, and I splurged on a ton of jewelry from Sacred Grounds Trading Post in Tucson. I knew the owners throughout my time in Tucson, and I thought it was just so appropriate. I continue to wear them when I give presentations at different locations throughout the US and Canada. They are like my source of power. They are like a touchstone for me: a reminder of where I’ve been and where I could possibly go.