Wild Coyotea

Herbal Alchemy Inspired by California

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P A S S I O N with the Coffeetographer

InterviewsWild Coyotea2 Comments

Chermelle Edwards is probably the most inspired and passionate human I have ever met.  She has an electric vibe, always sparking with ideas, smiles, photographs and words. Chermelle is an artist of many mediums - she documents coffee culture on her website, The Coffeetographer, she has written for The Guardian, been featured on Design Good, prolifically creates blind contour drawings... She is the kind of friend who, when we have our extra long coffee-catchups in LA or NY, we hold hands half the time, laugh really loud, and both leave feeling refreshed and enthusiastic.  I'm so thankful she decided to lend herself to this blog, reading about her life and practices (self love, wow!) majorly encourages my life.  I hope you will enjoy :-) 

What inspires you?

Everything. And, I mean it. Of course I’m inspired by specifics like oceans, paper, libraries, artists like Picasso and Gustav Klimt, writers like Faulkner and Morrison and intangible things with physical properties like conversations.

What are you passionate about?

Everything. And, I mean it again. However, if I had to have a short list, I’m passionate about my God, my family, the energy within me, my life as a creative artist and I’m passionate about expression, for myself and others.

What project/s are you working on right now?

The biggest project I’m working on is me. Ever and always. Becoming, being and knowing all that I am supposed to be in this era of my life. I’m constantly working on thecoffeetographer.com, it’s one of my creative children, it takes a lot of time every day and it’s more than a full-time job, and it’s my lifestyle. Thecoffeetographer.com is an online webzine that documents coffee as a culture and leads a cultural revolution about how coffee is more than a beverage but a lifestyle intersecting all parts of humanity, yes that’s a big mission of mine. Somewhere in the last couple of years I lost my way in art. While I’m a big appreciator of it, I wasn’t making any myself, I wasn’t painting or drawing or sketching. A friend introduced me to blind contour drawings over a year ago and I began them as just a release, an outlet for creating something without the worry of right or wrong. Now, it’s become a huge part of my artistic expression, I’m loving the journey of growing with it and inside of it, so much say I started a year project, one contour a day for 364 days. I’ve just hit Day 83 and I’ve learned so much, so much, and most importantly, that art can’t be dispensable in my life. I also have another project that’s been a bit of a hobby of mine it’s called Socks of The People, looking at people and style through socks, I’m having a lot of fun with it. It’s on Instagram right now only, but it’s about to take a leap. There’s a couple other things I’m working on but because I’m working on them, I’ve assigned myself the task to not talk about them, but, I am working on them. Ha!

What keeps you going when you’re “stuck”?

I don’t believe in ‘stuck’. I believe there are obstacles. And, an obstacle just gives you a pointed decision to make about which way you now need to go. Now, sometimes I’m in situations and I truly don’t know what to do. Erykah Badu says, “pivot.” So, I move, I just keep moving even if it’s just a small step, it’s a step further than where I was before I didn’t pivot.

What do you believe in?

I believe in God. I believe in my family. I believe in the power of the human spirit. I believe in energy. I believe in synchronicity. I believe in love. I believe in myself.

Photo by Chermelle Edwards AKA The Coffeetographer, @ Art Basel Miami

Photo by Chermelle Edwards AKA The Coffeetographer, @ Art Basel Miami

 

How do you take care of yourself?

I have a serious mental and spiritual regimen. When I wake up it begins there. I give myself ten minutes to pray and talk to my Creator; it’s because of his force that I breathe. I give myself ten minutes to daydream – and it’s the best thing ever because I’m consciously allowing my mind to go wherever it wants to go. Then I give myself ten minutes to meditate.  After that, I do another hour of work, 20 minutes on morning pages – as named by the great Julia Cameron often to Thomas Newman or Bach – I spend 20 minutes reading Julia Cameron often to Volcano Choir, Bon Iver or James Vincent McMorrow and then I spend 20 minutes with Seth Godin in silence. During those times I’m jotting down free notes and associations and idea hunches that come to me while I’m doing this work. After this I find time to dance to a couple songs, it gets my body moving and the endorphins going especially if it’s a non-run morning. After this during the day I’ll take in a talk Abraham Hicks, read Seth’s podcast, listen to a video of an inspiring artist living or non-living and usually it’ll deal with their creative process or the like.  During the day I find time for at least a 20 minute nap, a walk and a few days during the week I exercise.

What qualities about yourself work to your advantage? (What do you like about yourself?)

My energy; I have great energy and I’m not bashful about knowing that now. I’m a lover of humans and so I can go anywhere and be anywhere and be right with the world. I’m a documentarian of life and that makes me hypersensitive to everything around with me and I believe it keeps me in tune with my God and I know that I don’t have to worry about missing things, or competing with people or the like. All that is for me will appear; it always does.

 

What is your favorite place on earth?

In my skin, in my head, in my thoughts, in my energy. And with that, wherever I am, I am. So, the physical destination is just amplified by me being there.

What is your next travel destination?

I’m returning to Europe. It’s calling and it’s been too long since I’ve been there.

What is your favorite beverage?

Seltzer water. Root beer plays second, coffee third. I’m sure no one knows that; they probably think its coffee first aha hahah

What is your favorite food or recipe?

My favorite food is Mexican; I’m unequivocally in love with authentic Mexican food.

What are your Utopian ideals?

I will be without default and I will live forever and this world be a beauty that I could never imagine but will entirely welcome and I’ll live as an unending multi-hyphenate.

What is your astrological sign?

I don’t know. I don’t subscribe to astrology. Ha!

Anything else you’d like to share?

You’re such a magical being. I love you, entirely. Thank you for allowing me to express myself, it’s the greatest freedom. 

Responsibility: From Humble Beginnings

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 responsibility |riˌspänsəˈbilətē|

noun ( pl. -ties)

the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone : women bear children and take responsibility for child care.

the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something : the group has claimed responsibility for a string of murders.

the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization : we would expect individuals lower down the organization to take on more responsibility.

(often responsibilities) a thing that one is required to do as part of a job, role, or legal obligation : he will take over the responsibilities of overseas director.

[in sing. ] ( responsibility to/toward) a moral obligation to behave correctly toward or in respect of : individuals have a responsibility to control personal behavior.

 

In a culture that values youth, beauty, new gadgets, and fast food, the word responsibility can seem scary – or even worse – boring!  I have actually found power in the concept of responsibility as it relates to being accountable for my own life. 

 

When I take the definition “the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization” I feel compelled to act responsibly, as it indicates freedom of being.  Being responsible, I can make my own decisions without anyone’s approval.  I take the risk, I get the reward.  However, this still may seem like an abstract or “pie in the sky” concept.  How could responsibility actually be rewarding?

 

I have had numerous jobs in the food service industry: bussing tables at a white tablecloth covered hell as an eighteen year old, being a hostess at a “California cuisine” restaurant where the owner regularly fired people for no apparent reason, working in the kitchen for a good friend catering weddings (do NOT come in the kitchen unless you are the event coordinator, we do not need to make you a special meal because of your gluten sensitivity), passing hors d'oeuvres for celebrities and people who would rather pretend you are invisible than say “no thank you” to my small plated treats.  Some of these experiences were enjoyable, some down right miserable, but all served a purpose.  By taking these jobs, I was able to pay my bills, travel, make independent media, have a flexible schedule, and participate in various creative projects of my choosing.  However, I didn’t feel fully empowered because so much of my time was given to others without complete personal fulfillment.  I knew that I wouldn’t always be working these jobs, but I didn’t have a “long term plan”.

 

July of 2013, a friend introduced me to Jessica Koslow of SQIRL, a high-quality, farm-to-table brunch spot in my neighborhood. I needed work and she was hiring.  I didn’t think I would be taking yet another restaurant job but my bank account told me I better find something ASAP, and this seemed like a great opportunity. I was able to be a part of a business that was serving the best food, coffee, I could walk to work, and I loved my co-workers! I had been making kombucha and herbal tea blends at home for years, and Jessica allowed me to experiment with some new beverages at SQIRL. I was grateful to put my creativity to work in a culinary setting!

 

I had a great passion for wellness and natural healing, and I was going in the direction of creating myself as a holistic wellness expert. I had finished a year-long course certifying me as a Health Coach with Institute for Integrative Studies in NYC.  I continued blending herbs at home, spreading the word of #herbalalchemy via Instagram and Facebook, starting to invent myself as an Herbal Alchemist – something new and unique to me.  To bring the definition of responsibility back into the conversation, “the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something” - I was being accountable to myself for creating a new possibility for work and lifestyle that I felt fulfilled by, and I knew this could transcend the day-to-day work I was in at the moment.

 

Eventually another chef, Greg Arnold, recruited me to conceive a beverage menu for Mesa Verde, a new plant-based restaurant about to open in Santa Barbara.  This was truly a dream job.  I was given full reign to invent herbal teas, super-food smoothies, juice recipes, and innovative kombuchas. I started playing around in the kitchen before the restaurant opened, being creative, fully immersed in my art of alchemical beverages! It was very fulfilling.

 

I knew this wasn’t the end game. People started asking me, “What’s next?!” “Are you opening your own spot?” “Where can I buy your kombuchas?” Starting a storefront or restaurant is a huge responsibility, one with much risk and stress and paperwork involved, and though I considered it, I knew this was not the time.  Eventually the concept of Wild Coyotea came into focus: I could make herbal blends, package them beautifully, and sell them in my own online store!  I started saving money, working on the blends, taking steps toward this dream.  I decided to leave LA, move back to my family’s property in Northern California, and use my resources wisely. Although I was giving up a dynamic lifestyle in Silver Lake, Los Angeles (my favorite neighborhood + city), I knew I would be much more focused and grounded in Sonoma County.  These decisions were actually quite easy to make when I realized what it was I wanted.  I was taking responsibility for my own life, making plans, taking the steps, knowing it would be a lot of work, but very rewarding to have my own business!

 

Wild Coyotea is still in its infancy. There will be more herbal teas, more smoking blends, more handmade products in my store to come.  There will be more collaborations, tea parties, and eventually I will sell my products in stores.  I have my work cut out for me!  I wear many hats, am head of all the departments: production, shipping, marketing, newsletter, blog, events, product development, accounting!  By taking this on, I have created much work for myself, but also a sense of pride and love and optimism that wouldn’t exist if I was still working for someone else.

 

Not everyone needs to own a business or even start a big project, but I hope that this will inspire you to be accountable to yourself for your life.  Make adjustments to raise the bar of your own fulfillment. Make plans, ask for support, cut back on excessive spending and start a little savings account.  Whatever it is, you are the one that gets to choose. Enjoy your life, take on this new year with a heart full of personal responsibility!

At Cinespia in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Summer 2014 with my Ritual Smoking Blend

At Cinespia in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Summer 2014 with my Ritual Smoking Blend

 

With Love + Encouragement,

Califa Coyote Weiss