&If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Cleo Wade, poet, activist, and author, who recently collaborated with French Champagne house Moët & Chandon on a Snapchat poem generator and is currently touring the country with her book Heart Talk, about the sweater, mini-pillows, and women-owned small businesses she can’t live without.
I own this sweater in four colors, and it’s kind of a joke on my Instagram because I wear this every single day. For a period of time, I wore the one that was gray with rainbow stripes every single day until my mom literally wrote to me on Instagram and was like, “You need to wash this sweater.” So I ordered another one to put into rotation, but then I wore that one into the ground. Now I have it in white with blue stripes. I have it in blue with white stripes. I have it in maroon. It doesn’t pill the way 100 percent cashmere sweaters would, it’s so warm; it’s so cozy. I’m always either on a flight or writing in my home, so when I am in my space of work or getting from one place to the other, it’s crucial for me to feel really comfortable and cozy. It’s like my safe sweater. You know how some people have a support animal? I actually feel like I have a support sweater.
My friend Eileen makes this line. She’s also my facialist, and she only uses oils. She hugely changed her own skin by doing that, and I’m a convert. I don’t ever wear makeup in my day-to-day at all, but when I’m on the road so much, I have been. My skin is kind of rejecting having makeup on it, and her oils are able to calm it and really bring this glow, so when you are back to your day-to-day of running around, you look alive. I put it on in the morning, in the evening, and sometimes, I’ll throw it on in the middle of the day.
I met [designer Melody Ehsani] recently, and I was so in love with her. It’s so amazing the way she is able to design and create these items that speak to social consciousness in a really creative way. She’s like Patricia Fields, if Patricia Fields would’ve been an anti-racism activist. It’s actually not that hard to decide to participate with your business in your own way, and obviously that doesn’t mean everyone needs to have an item that says “Fuck Racism,” but she’s such a great example of a creative that is socially conscious.
I’m obsessed with everything Aurora makes. She’s a really good girlfriend of mine, and she’s another amazing example of someone being able to create incredible social impact with their creativity and what they’re passionate about. I have a few pairs of her denim ones because they go with anything. They’re like a jean jacket for your foot. It’s kind of that shoe where it’s like, “What does it really not go with?” I’m on the road so much, and that’s just my destiny for the rest of the year, so you’re really conscious about what shoes do you pack because you want a shoe that can go with as much as possible.
I’m actually obsessed with everything from Hill House Home. All of my bedding is from Hill House Home. My pillows are also from Hill House Home. These mini-pillows, I love them because they’re the ultimate gift. Any last-minute thing you ever need for anyone. They come in the cutest box. I have one on my bed that says “Cleo.” Sometimes I’ll give them as gifts with little poems on them. So I’ll get two and have one half of the poem on one, and one half on the other, so they go on the bed together.
It’s surreal to work for so long on something and have it be out in the world, and I’m so happy I’m seeing people use it as a tool, which is what I created it to be. I love watching everyone take their photos of the book and post it online, or tell me in life that this book is really helping them, because I really wrote it to be more of a companion and a friend rather than a book.
Stevona — her name is Stevie — is one of my best girlfriends in New Orleans, and she started this incredible movement where she sells these sweatshirts and zines, and she then uses the money to create spaces where black women can feel safe and wholly themselves. It’s so beautiful because a lot of the time, women, especially black women, we’re told you can’t be everything at once, so you can’t possibly be the intellectual who’s reading Toni Morrison and Alice Walker while at the same time liking trap music. Especially in these times, creating safe spaces for us to be every aspect of who we are, all at once, is so critical, so I support everything Stevie does.
Note: This sweatshirt is currently available for preorder.
There was kind of this kismet moment around the day the book came out. My friend Molly Howard, who actually owns La Ligne, was like, “Come on, we’re going to have a really nice dinner and celebrate this moment, and we’re going to celebrate with pink Champagne.” We went on a fancy friend-date — and then the next day, I remember getting an email about how Moët was doing this poetry [project], and I was like, “There’s obviously a pink-Champagne thing happening in the air.” Champagne turns something into an occasion right away somehow, because if we would’ve just gone to dinner and both had a glass of wine and Chinese food, it would’ve been a little bit different. I think also, as a woman with your other female friends, to do that for yourself, it’s so beautiful and cool.
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