A blog is something you can get lost in. A source for inspiration, a place for learnings, and an outlet for creativity, blogging is a creature of its own. Ever since I entered the blogosphere a little more than three years ago, I’ve come across some that I read religiously and always know I can turn to for inspiration. High on my list is Charcoal Alley. Paris Gerrard is the beautiful spirit behind this blog, which actually is more like a work of art than anything. From her own creative editorials to other inspiring images, Charcoal Alley is a magical, dreamy source that I could spend hours scrolling through. When I heard Paris did a special editorial just for us, I was excited to find out more about this creative being. She always seemed like one of those people whose life was like a handful of glitter floating in the air…always sparkling and always ready to go down that unexpected path, following the sun. Allow me to introduce you to: Paris Gerrard.
Where are you from?
I was born in SLC, Utah, where I have lived there for the majority of my life. When I was a young child, my family and I moved to Kauai, Hawaii – where we lived for several years.
How did where you grew up shape the person that you are today?
Utah and Hawaii are both incredibly beautiful states. I feel blessed to have grown up with such access to nature’s gifts. For me, it is essential to spend time in nature. Walking a coastline or hiking to a ridge top, soaking up the sun’s rays, breathing clean air . . . oh, and daily yoga—these are activities that have kept me centered and creative.
Your blog is one of my favorites that I turn to or inspiration. How has it grown from when you first started it?
Thank you! Wow . . . it has been such a fun journey for me. Charcoal Alley has grown steadily now, for a couple of years. I was lucky to have caught the attention of some amazing labels and bloggers, early on, which helped me reach a larger audience. I must credit the beautiful Byron Bay Sisters Lizzy & Spelly from Spell Designs, as well as the fabulous Dylana Suarez from Color Me Nana. I adore these earth angels, all of whom have been instrumental forces in the success of Charcoal Alley. I want to acknowledge them for adding the sparkle to my fairytale — I think they’ll know what I mean. Now, I feel that I am reaching a tipping point, as I’m working with some major labels such as Volcom, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. It is beyond exciting for me – it’s really a dream coming true!
You are a visual artist as well. What is your favorite way to incorporate your art into your blog posts?
Of course, I love to sneak images of my paintings into my posts. But, I think that painters learn to see the world in a very unique way. I am always imagining how I would translate an object or a scene into a painting. What pigments would I use to mix that storm cloud? How would I paint that shimmering highlight on the water? Nature has such a perfect harmony. I like to reference those combinations when considering any design — even down to my wardrobe.
One of the things that keeps me coming back to your blog is the beautiful imagery in your posts. Do you work with a team of people that helps to take your vision and turn it into a final product?
Absolutely! I couldn’t do it alone, but I must admit to a serious image addiction. I have been collecting and saving unique and beautiful images, that move me in some way, since . . . forever. Each post becomes its own creation, and I instinctively know which images to pull to help foster the feel or vibe that I am desiring.
Where are some of your favorite places to shoot?
Some of my favorite shoots are unplanned locations. Simply walking the streets where I am traveling, or finding a cool doorway in the city can be exciting. However, if it’s not already obvious, the beach takes the cake for me.
Is there anything specific (a place, a person, or an experience) that has influenced you to live such a creative life?
I believe I was born an artist, and I have my mother to thank for that! My mama is also a visual artist, and she has always allowed — even encouraged — me to be myself.
We all crave wanderlust…where is one of the most inspiring places you have ever traveled to?
Once again, I must pay homage to Kauai. This land is really in an alternate dimension — it’s other-worldly — magical, is the only way to describe it. The minute you walk off the plane, you’re bathed in a wash of thick, oxygenated air. It’s like a drug that instantaneously relaxes you, slows you down, and brings you into the moment. The vivid colors of green, blue, and white transport and lift you up. Yes, Kauai, is a heaven realm. It’s a vortex for high vibrational energies that encourage transformation and awakening. Yet, the duality of Yin and Yang manifest in pronounced primal energies of creation and destruction. The Ancient Gods are still very much alive in Kauai. Things move quickly here — this is a place where mother nature can be fierce. Gratitude, honor and respect are key. Kauai encourages you to be creative, open, and free, but, always remember, you can access that energy from where ever you are. Just imagining it can open up a portal for you!
So many festivals take place every season…do you have any you really hope to attend this year?
I don’t know about this year, but on my bucket list the festival Yi Peng and Loy Krathong. It’s a spellbinding festival that takes place in Thailand where thousands of paper lanterns are lit and released into the night sky, creating an awesome display. Symbolically, these acts serves as a time to reflect and let go of personal demons and negativity. The combination of the lights in the sky, rivers and lakes, makes for an illuminated, transcendent experience. For the participants, it’s an auspicious way to ring in the new year and attract good fortune.
What does a day in the life of Paris look like?
I always start the day with a little stretching, and morning tea (currently, I’m loving Earl Grey with a splash of almond milk). Then I dance or yoga (or both), lunch, paint, plan or engage in a photo-shoot, run to Whole Foods, dinner, (always breaking to work on Charcoal Alley)! I work long and hard, and I am dedicated to this work, but I’ve created my life so that my work and life are all mixed together in a wonderful way. I love everything that I do, and that makes life feel magical.
If you could wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would wear a black silk dress, and of course every piece of jewelry that I own!
What is one thing that will always put a smile across your face?
My delightful little cat!
Music—What are you into right now?
Right now, I am loving a couple of groups including Asgier, London Grammar, Odeza . . . and I can’t deny it — I’ve got a crush on Drake’s voice. I’d let him serenade me any day, but I’m always on the lookout for new music.
What are three essential things you absolutely need in life?
Yoga, laughter, and art.
What does the future hold for Paris and Charcoal Alley?
“Don’t tell your dreams to the world—whisper them to love.” – Deepak Chopra said this, and love knows my dreams. The rest of the world will just have to wait and see . . . :)
What does being ‘free’ mean to you?
Being free means doing what I love. It means, living my life for me, as me. E.E. Cummings said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight . . .” My passion is to discover and embrace what lights me up, and in doing so, to show others how to be free.
Keep the magic brewing, Paris!
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