Letters on love from tonlé creators and collaborators

This year, instead of marketing valentines day themed products - we decided to look beyond the bounds of what this commercial holiday usually entails. We asked some of our favorite creatives and collaborators to share stories and insights about love - self-love, love in community, family and more. The prompt was open ended - simply whatever came up for them at the moment when reflecting on love. The variations and perspectives were each so distinct and moving we wanted to compile them in one place 

Nadya pictured playing in the waves wearing our soft jorani zero waste sweatshirt in black and our jorani sweatshirt material skirt in cream with hand sewn appliqué. https://tonle.com/collections/tops/products/jorani-sweatshirt

Nadya is wearing tonlé's jorani skirt in cream with an appliqué design, and a black jorani sweatshirt. She is walking on the beach and radiates a joyful smile. ⁠Photo by Henry Stevenson Photography.

A vulnerable perspective on the importance and ripple effects of self-love from the inspiring Nadya Okamoto.

"One of the biggest things I learned in 2020, was how a person can actually perpetuate and cause harm if they are leading from a place of fear. And I reflect with regret for not understanding this sooner and I think that a big focus of mine over the last year has been really trying to understand myself and heal from a lot of the trauma of my childhood, so my leading wasn't trying to overcompensate for the insecurity I felt around my self worth. ⁠

So now, as I embark on continuing my journey of building August, I try to surround myself with accountability structures and times where I can really check in with myself and just ask where I am coming from in my motivations and ensure that I'm leading from a place of love. And the hardest part of that, is that it requires a level of loving myself, which because of my mental health challenges, is often a really challenging thing to do."⁠ - Nadya

Nadya is co-founder and CEO of It's Augusta lifestyle brand working to reimagine periods as well as PERIOD A global non-profit organization fighting to end period poverty and stigma through service, education, and advocacy.
Shams Ahmed models clothing from our tonlé x plantkween collection https://tonle.com/collections/plant-kween-x-tonle-collection/products/torey-tunic

Photos of Shams Ahmed wearing the torey tunic from our tonlé x PlantKween collection next to another image of Shams wearing the sabra sweatpants and matching rylee sweatshirt in cream monstera rib. Shot in the Southern California sun by Tory Stolper

An honoring of family love from the deeply inspiring Shams Ahmed.

"Love, to me, is my mother. For every laugh and meal we share, for every sacrifice she’s made and every sleepless night she’s waited for me. For every call she makes from half a world away - just to see what I’m up to. I don’t think I can ever truly repay the love my mom has for me, but maybe it’s not supposed to work that way. Maybe the love she’s given me will help me love my own better. Until then, I hope to at least try to balance the scale." - Shams⁠

Shams is a producer, arranger, musician, creative wonder and tonlé's most recent muse. 

Tory stolper wearing our zero waste seyha handwoven jacket https://tonle.com/collections/handwoven/products/seyha-jacket

Tory, basking in the lushness of Palm Springs, is wearing our seyha handwoven jacket and form-fitting emily dress with jewelry from Mulxiply. Photographed by her partner Jackson Kendall. 

A perspective on romanic love from Tory Stolper,

"For me, romantic love has never been limited to a particular partnership the way the songs, romcoms (which I'll admit I love,) and commercials portray for us. Now, I do understand, as a straight cisgendered woman (somewhat recently) in a relationship with a (beautiful and unbelievably love-able) man it might seem "easy for me to say." But, what I humbly offer is that I did not wait for that relationship to love Big. His love was not a missing puzzle piece in my hearts capacity to love Greatly. If I could have one wish it would be to rid all the hearts of the world the feeling of needing to WAIT for only a singular type of love to love Big, to be wined and dined and be swept off your feet. My Great, with a capital G, love is in the relationships I have nurtured with the friends who make my heart feel like it will literally burst open. It is in the dates I have taken myself on across the globe, alone, in the world's most romantic cities. It is in the fellow wanderer I encounter who injects a single bright thread forever blazed inimitably through the tapestry of my life. It is in been seen by my lover and his ability to embrace the already filled parts of my abundant heart without scarcity. It is in my genuine life long love affair with mac&cheese. I have always loved valentines day because whether alone, among friends or with a partner I have found romance all around me. In the twinkle of lights, in the sweetness of a treat, in the scene I can set. I am a big believer in any reason to celebrate. Any reason to make something special whether with grandeur or simplicity, with whatever I have around me. There's a lot of money made off of a single particular package of Great love. Never be fooled that Great love only comes in one package. Nuh uh. No way. Great love is in whomever, whatever and wherever makes your heart sing. And that's *always* worth celebrating." - Tory

Tory is a photographer, adventurer, writer and digital marketing contributor to the tonlé team.
Jess and partner Kim wearing tonlé zero waste fashion https://tonle.com/collections/jumpsuits-1/products/rj-overalls

Jess is in Austin, TX wearing our black RJ overalls with grey crop top next to an image of Kim with Jess wearing tonlé anja dress with dash print with her partner Kim wearing tonlé srey crop top and sothea pants. Photographed by Tory Stolper.

A reflection on the expression of love from the remarkable Jess Bowen.

"Growing up my family wasn't much into expressing love and emotion. In my 30s I'm only now learning to love fully and express emotions with vulnerability. I get impatient with myself and frequently feel the need to pull away before having to stop and realize I'm falling back on protective childhood habits. I'm grateful for a partner whose love is both patient and steady." - Jess

Jess is a creative, maker, earring enthusiast, and Sales & Marketing manager for one of our favorite brands, Global Mamas.

Chloe Jackman wears tonlé zero waste clothing with her son and at Yosemite https://tonle.com/collections/bestsellers/products/nearady-top

Chloe is pictured here holding her son wearing Brass Clothing, Mulxiply Jewelry and her son is wearing Global Mamas photographed by Michaela Joy Photography. In the next picture Chloe is enjoying the beauty of Yosemite National Park wearing tonlé nearady top and sothea pants. 

A mother's message on love from Chloe Jackman ⁠⁠

"Love is...⁠⁠

Love is so complicated and yet so damn simple. Powerful and all consuming. It can be down right debilitating and simultaneously inspire us to move mountains. ⁠⁠

Becoming a mother has unlocked a part of myself that I’m not sure I knew existed. To be in love in this way, to feel my heart beating outside of my body, to look into the eyes of our magical little human and feel his unconditional love wash over me is a feeling I can’t even put into words. Our souls are connected he is me (us ❤️) and I am him. This is a love I have never known and I am forever changed and eternally grateful. I love you Alonzo. Thank you for choosing us. ⁠⁠

Happy Valentine’s Day sweet boy ✨" ⁠⁠- Chloe

Chloe is a dear friend, fashion and lifestyle photographer and cherished collaborator.

christopher of @plantkween wearing their tonlé x plantkween zero waste gender inclusive colelction https://tonle.com/collections/plant-kween-x-tonle-collection/products/darcey-dress

Christopher is at home wearing the darcey dress next to an image of them wearing the jayden jacket and camryn culottes from the tonlé x plantkween collection.

Guidance for joyful practices of self-love from Christopher.

"GURL, the same love, attention, care (and patience, gurl, can’t forget patience) I’ve been putting into my green gurls ... she’s been putting that same love, attention, care, and patience into her own bawdy, dahling!!! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁠

Feels good to give myself intentional time to be with my bawdy, in my bawdy. Feels good to pause and be with my senses, taking in the botanical energy and sunlight in my space. Feels good to just sit still with my spirit and just be. I missed being with myself in this way, and now that she’s back into her flow she ain’t stopping, hunty 🧘🏽‍♂️☕️🌿☀️⁠

Thought I’d re-share some personal mantras this plant parent journey has brought into my life ... some daily reminders that have manifested through taking care of my green gurls. I’ve actually written these down for myself and will occasionally read over them each morning ... cuz some days you just need a lil refocusing 📝⁠

𝟭. Stay hydrated, gurl💧 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁠

𝟮. Let the sunshine in, hunty! Your body enjoys sunlight ... it inspires the creative in you ☀️⁠

𝟯. Healing and growth of your own heart, mind, body and soul takes time, love, energy, and intentionality ... give yourself grace and be patient with yourself, gurl 🌱🌿⁠

𝟰. While you are a kween who has worked hard at becoming good at taking care of herself (self-care) ... it is okay to lean into, seek support, and tender loving care from friends and family (community-care) ... cuz sometimes you can’t water yourself and that’s okay 💚⁠

𝟱. You’re basically a houseplant with complex emotions, gurl 🌱🙇🏽‍♀️🌿⁠⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁠

So how are you spending time with yourself, kween? How are you getting your bawdy ready for the day so that you can show up for yourself and for others ... cuz the werk continues 💪🏾🌿💚"⁠ - Christopher

Christopher is the remarkable creative behind our tonlé x PlantKween collection.

Manpreet wears our zero waste rachana jumpsuit with hand knit infinity scarf https://tonle.com/collections/jumpsuits-1/products/rachana-jumpsuit

Manpreet is pictured here wearing tonlé rachana jumpsuit styled with one of our handknit scarves. Photos by Chloe Jackman Photography, also featuring jewelry by Mulxiply, Cashmere Cactus, and Penh Lenh.

Manpret Kalra shares wise words about love, justice and community.

"Love is…⁠ Sangat (“community” in Punjabi). It is about collective healing — sharing this unspoken understanding of experience that binds you together. Love is meeting each other where they are, lifting one another. Love is about being okay with passing the mic forward and centering the voices that are often unheard. Love is coming together, as a community and fighting for each other’s right to thrive. As a Sikh with roots tied to the fields of Punjab, my community is currently being forced to revisit generations of trauma as we continue to collectively fight against injustice. But that is the thing about community, both pain and healing are collective. Our individual resilience is fueled by sangat. And our fight for justice is fueled by love."⁠ - Manpreet  

Manpreet is a digital marketing expert who focuses her time on navigating the intersection of social impace + marketing + justice. She is the founder of The Art of Citizenry, an independent newsletter on a mission to decolonize storytelling.

Thank you to each of these creators for sharing your words and wisdom so vulnerably with us all. We are so grateful to have your voices as part of our ethos and eco-system. Much love to all from the tonlé team. 

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published