I first met ELENA on an unusually windy day in Oakland. I was working an event for my business Zelma Rose and had reached the inevitable point of any retail day where I had grown weary. Weary being short for wishing I hadn't worn such pretty looking shoes and really wanting to sit down for a minute. My work had caught Elena's eye and I watched her walk across the gusty open square to take a closer look. She approached with a warm immediate smile that made me forget everything that had happened before that moment. What I knew was, Elena made me happy to be there.
And Elena has this effect on nearly everyone she meets. Authentic, brilliant, honest, and kind she makes the people around her feel like we belong and are not alone in our daily struggles, large and small, to experience all that makes us human.
A slow fashion enthusiast and passionate supporter of local design, I always look to Elena for what is new, beautifully designed, and made with deep intention. She is a collector of good ideas and most admirably openly shares them with others.
Elena's tireless advocacy in the mental health, Down Syndrome and disability, and social justice communities comes from a place of deep passion for people to feel like they belong in this world. I have endless admiration for her determination, honesty, and inclusiveness as an advocate, mother, and friend.
Get to know ELENA and her most valued life lessons in JOY Episode 20 and stay for Episode 18 for an EMOTION segment dedicated to GRIEF. Follow along with ELENA'S adventures on IG @lifewithwynterandnova and learn more about her advocacy work and beautiful indie designer finds.
ELENA is JOY.