The Blacker the Berry

There is so much to be said about self love and self acceptance. There is also much to be said about representation for ALL PEOPLE.

Growing up as a darker brown-skinned, black women, you get told  things like “you’re pretty for a darker girl”, or asked things like “do you really want to sit in the sun and get darker?!?”. This, coming from our own black community. Over the years, we’ve been brainwashed to think that if we didn’t have lighter skin and straight hair, we weren’t beautiful, or that society wouldn’t accept us, or that we couldn’t get a job or a proper education, because our appearance wasn’t acceptable.

This idea, at one point in time, was true. Institutionalized racism ran so deep, that we started to teach one another that in order to survive, you had to assimilate and adapt – to become other than what God created you to be. You must straighten your hair, even if it means putting chemicals on your skin, pinch your nose so it wasn’t so wide, or not sit in the sun, out of fear that you’d get darker.


“My 4 year old daughter, Evan, has been noticing the difference in people’s appearances lately. I’ve taken it upon myself to also point them out, and then point out how beautiful they are…”


It is now 2018 and we, as black women are in an age of full acceptance of our features, our naturally coarse hair, and naturally brown and dark skin. This acceptance started with the afro movement in the 60’s and 70’s and has been passed on with the wonderful mantra “I’m Black and I’m Proud!”

I love the representation I am seeing now of ALL PEOPLE! Women who aren’t covering up their blemishes or feeling the need to change their hair or appearance to fit into society. Through these actions, we are creating a better world and place where people don’t feel so out of place!

My 4 year old daughter, Evan, has been noticing the difference in people’s appearances lately. I’ve taken it upon myself to also point them out, and then point out how beautiful they are – those freckles are beautiful, that full figure is beautiful, that dark dark skin is beautiful, that fair fair skin is beautiful, those tattoos are beautiful. If we don’t teach that beauty can be found in all looks, colors, and shapes, the lack of self-love continues. I’d like to take the time to show some love to my darker skin. I’ve always loved it, but I’ve grown to love it more over the years. It’s deep in tone and beautiful like smooth chocolate!

What do you like about the skin you’re in?

My Work

New Design & Brand Services

I’ve updated my 19FIFTYTHREE site with new design and brand services!

In the last year, I’ve seen a need for specific support and services for creative businesses and artists. In the last few months, I’ve dedicated time to creating a residency program for creative businesses. This residency is through ArtFarm; the art space I co-run in downtown Annapolis. Through this residency, three brands are given space to showcase their work and products, monthly brand consultations, and space for events promoting their brand.

As soon as the residency program was launched, I started receiving feedback about the support that others wish they had for their brands – everything from web work, to brand finishing, to social media design packages. I realized that these services are already a big part of what I already offer – why not streamline it a bit more and offer these services fully through 19FIFTYTHREE!?!

So, that’s what I did!

One the updated site are updated services and packages! Check them out below and click here to see the new site: 


Mid-Summer Playlist

It’s been a while! I figure I would slide back into the blog game with what songs are getting me through the summer. Here’s a selection of a few songs that are on constant repeat! Mid-summer playlist!

My Work

Home Sweet Home

This original design was created about 8 years ago and it is still kicking! Out of everything that I have designed, I get asked about this one the most. The Home Sweet Home – Maryland design is simple, but impactful. As a native Marylander, I know that you can spot this flags pattern from a mile away! I’m happy to bring it back to life through a hoodie, mug, and shirt design.

Shop This Collection Here!



Mac Miller

The first song I heard from Mac Miller was Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza in 2010. Rapping over this Lord Finesse sample, with many references to the cult classic ‘Kids’, Mac Miller brought a 90’s classic to his fans in the 2000’s. I’ve been a fan every since! Today seemed like a good day for a Mac Miller playlist, so here we go:

Grrrl Inspiration My Work

Just Erica Nicole

Stylist, Erica Nicole has taken her love of fashion, behind the scenes production, and style to another level. She has taken a passion and creative gift and channeled it into a career. The best part of working with your friends is that you already know their personality and how to showcase it through their brands.

When your stylish and very talent friend is going to the Grammy’s to style Rapsody, 9th Wonder, and Eric G of Jamla Records and Roc Nation fame, you make sure she has her website game up! You don’t leave her hanging! You hit her up and say, let’s get this portfolio poppin’ and do this thing!!

In this case, we went for simple, but bold! I’d like to think that this kinda sums up Erica as a whole. Her personal style is laid back with clean lines, and bold statements. Transferring the personal visual brand that she’s created for herself into a website was a delight. Clean lines, a mix of black and bold colors and gradients!  I’m a sucker for a good gradient!

Having an already impressive portfolio made this site easy to build. Adding to the portfolio during Grammy week was just pure fun! Through Erica’s portfolio, you can see how she takes her clients personal style and pairs it with her knowledge of fashion and design. Watching her grow in her craft has been amazing. So happy to be a part of this creative journey through her site creation.

Take the time to get to know Erica, her work, and her style at her site:

Grrrl Inspiration My Work

Shop Darin Michelle

What do I do with all these ideas?

This is the question I am constantly asking myself? I find myself constantly designing and creating clothing and accessories. Most of these ideas just live on my computer or in a sketchbook. After months of thinking about how to either bring back old designs or create new ones, I decided to turn to some helpful resources and start creating!

Together, Printful and Etsy have created a perfect way for me to take my ideas and create my desired product. I started with bringing back and oldie but a goodie: Home Sweet Home Maryland! This was one of the first items I designed under my old brand LITTLE by Darin Michelle. This has also been my best selling product ever. The East Coast Representer hoodie comes in second!

If you know me, you know that I’m a sucker for mugs! This one will be a perfect addition to my collection!

click image to shop

Inspired by Women’s History Month and vintage posters that have a blurred text effect, the ROAR design was born. Dedicated to those women who have, are, and will roar through the ages, this has easily become one of my favorite designs.

click image to shop

Having the itch to add in a couple more pieces, I went back to some previous sketches and work and created the GRRRL POWER long sleeve and BLOOM mug. Inspired by the both the Riot Grrrl and Girl Power movements of the 90’s the GRRRL POWER design was born. As for BLOOM – I have always loved the quote “Bloom where you are planted”. This was my personal take on that.

click image to shop

All of these items are available on my updated Etsy Shop!