By Caitlin O’Reilly
Navajo Fashion Blogger & YouTuber
Being a Navajo woman interested in fashion, I saw an opportunity to connect these two important aspects about myself, thus creating Nizhoniful Me.
Greetings everyone! My name is Caitlin, a Navajo fashion blogger, and YouTuber. Back in 2019, I started my social media platform called Nizhoniful Me (“Nizhóní” means beautiful in Navajo) with the goal to embrace my culture through fashion. Before we get into what that looks like today, let me give you some background information.
Why I Started Nizhoniful Me
Growing up, I never saw an accurate representation of Indigenous people in the fashion industry. The only type of “representation” at the time was cultural appropriation which big, and even small, fashion brands have been notoriously known to do. As a Navajo woman, I wanted to change this. To those who held misconceptions about Indigenous people due to misrepresentation, I wanted to use my platform to say, “This is what a Navajo woman looks like today in the 21st century and we are not gone.” To my fellow Indigenous community, I wanted to say, “Your culture and traditions are beautiful and should be celebrated every day. Do not be afraid to embrace them.”
Uplifting Indigenous Owned Clothing Brands
Social media has given me a voice and platform to share my love of fashion through the eyes of a Navajo woman. One of the ways I do this is by supporting and uplifting Indigenous-owned clothing brands. A few of my favorite brands include Orlando Dugi, Urban Native Era, Olathe’s Art, B. Yellowtail, Orenda Tribe, Aconav, M.J. Silver, Winston Paul, and ThunderVoice Hat Co. just to name a few. I finally feel like Indigenous people are being accurately represented through these brands by way of their designs, overall brand goals and messaging, and even their use of Indigenous models. Anyone is free to wear their clothing and by doing so you are respectfully embracing Indigenous fashion while also supporting small indigenous-owned businesses.
Connecting with Community
I am always happy to see more and more Natives take up content creation through blogging, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok expressing themselves through fashion, makeup, food, travel, photography, art, and more. Through social media, I am able to connect with fellow Indigenous creators and be inspired by them. We are our own little community cheering each other on and helping each other grow. Because I started Nizhoniful Me, I was able to meet and collaborate with one of my favorite bloggers Alana Yazzie from The Fancy Navajo, I was able to model for Native designers Iris Jean and Chris Holtsoi at the ASU Uncertainty Fashion Show, and meet with fellow Native YouTubers, Amanda Wilson, and Sierra Johnson. I am happy to see our community grow larger and to build real connections with one another.
Incorporating Tradition with Fashion
When I think about the strong women in my life, I automatically think of my Mom, my Aunties, and Grandmother. I always remember my grandma wearing her hair in a tsiiyeel (Navajo style bun), turquoise jewelry, velvet tops, and tiered skirts that she would make from hand. When I was younger, I only dressed traditionally for certain special events. Back then, I would have never thought to incorporate this into my everyday life because I was just trying to fit in with everyone else. Today, I love incorporating these traditional elements into my everyday style because it makes me feel empowered. By using my platform to showcase that, I want others to feel inspired to embrace their Indigenous heritage and to just be themselves.
Misconceptions still exist about Native people today and cultural appropriation is, unfortunately, still something that I see occurring. The difference between back then and now is that I have a platform to incur change by lifting up Indigenous-owned clothing brands, connecting with my newfound community, and embracing the traditional aspects of my culture into my everyday life.
Before I sign off, I would like to thank Nour De La Garza for inviting me to write this article and share my story on their blog. What resonated with me about Nour De La Garza is that they empower women through timeless fashion pieces and are a small women-owned and operated business. I have found their community to be very accepting and open to me thus far and I hope I was able to bring light to issues that previously have not been widely recognized.
Let’s be friends on social media!