The Dahlia

I have my first session with the Dahlia on a Tuesday.’Whats in the bag??’ she asks, after we’ve ordered coffees. Actually, I’m a bit embarrassed because the bag is a Morley’s paperbag (thank the stars) and inside the bag is two pairs of false eyelashes and 2 makeup brushes, which between them somehow require two tonnes of plastic packaging. ‘uhh, it’s some makeup actually,’ I say and show the Dahlia the bag.


For context, I am day to day, a total scraghound. My morning routine is mostly about sitting in bed drinking tea, watching Russell Brand videos and then leaping out of bed 20mins before I need to leave the house, yelling at my kids to get dressed while I scramble some organic eggs quick sharp. Not exactly Jonathan Van Nesse approved. I’m a low maintenance, through a hedge backwards, sunburnt, dirty fingernails babe. But, on the otherhand, I do work with Burlesque Dancers, and every so often the whole thing flips and it’s ‘cut crease’ influencer tutorials and false lashes, because Hun- if you have a family wedding, nothing will make your eyes look big and sparkly in the photos, than some ‘faux mink’. 


The Dahlia has caught me on the flip side, revving up to put on my boots and get back to my Essex roots. She looks at my bare face with intrigue, I search my soul for a Right On explanation. 

‘What is Make-Up?’- she comes at me on a sidewind. 


‘uhhh, I think it’s powders and stuff, I tend to get the pure mineral, or organic ones. I just wish they wouldn’t use so much packaging, you know… ‘ I laugh nervously. 


‘No,’ says the Dahlia, ‘what is Make-Up, in here’ she places an elegant bronze leaf on my heart. 


Hmm, how to answer this one? We’ve only just met and I’m potentially not making the best impression here. It’s a lot of pressure, and in the moment I perhaps over react a tad.


‘its alright for you!’ I burst out unprovoked, ‘with your double petals, and your ombres and tall strong stems. We just want to feel beautiful sometimes. I get that the planet is going to hell, and there’s going to be mass climate refugee migrations when the polar ice caps melt and flood Brighton, but not going to spend this one life that I’ve got sitting around in a sack made of hemp. And you’re not really one to talk, I read on the RHS website that double blooms aren’t even good for pollinators, who are YOU trying to impress???’


The Dahlia doesn’t blink, she’s vibrating on such a higher plane that she doesn’t sink to my level to remind me that it is humans who have bred dahlias to have double blooms. 


‘Let me tell you a story,’ She starts, with perfect poise ‘The manifestor of natural abundance has blessed us dahlias with two ways to reproduce. Every year that we grow our Tuber doubles in size and we can produce another plant with the same blooms, this is how you humans breed the double bloom Dahlias’ (was that a side eye?)


‘But, we also produce fertile seeds, because the flowers are pollinated…'(Double Side Eye).


I feel quite sad about this prospect, I’ve got a tray of Dahlia seedlings on the go at the moment. My plan was to find a friend or acquaintance to love each flower in its uniqueness, everyone I know is drawn to different colours or shapes, there is a garden or windowbox for every Dahlia, there is plenty of admiration to go round.


The Dahlia is reading my mind at this point, which is slightly off putting but a useful plot device. 
‘feeling beautiful, in a makeup way, is not the same as being loved,’ says the Dahlia, ‘You know what it is to be loved… What’s that thing you say about the movies?’


Ah- this is actually a really cute and wise thing that I say. ‘i say it’s ok for movie stars to be super attractive, because when you fall in love with someone that is how they look to you.’


‘Mmmm,’ says the Dahlia, ‘That is quite cute and also a bit wise. But don’t forget there is a dark side, you humans have made a lot of people feel like they can never be beautiful like the movie stars. You have frightened people into trying to buy physical validation in plastic packaging. We Dahlias, we love to bask in the sun. Would you tell the Dahlia seedlings, it is righteous to only live in the shade?’ 


‘No! There’s plenty of sun, all the beautiful seedlings can bask in the sun.’ I say with earnest and passionate forthrightery. 


‘Do you make sure to radiate validation to those around you? Do you reflect to them the feeling of being beautiful?’


Gahhh, she’s got me, I’ve been so caught up in my own perfect cat eye liner that I haven’t been radiating the joy of knowing you are beautiful to my mates. 


‘I could do better.’ I admit.


‘The joy of truly being your unique self, and feeling accepted and celebrated by those around you, this is the way of the Dahlia, it will free you.’


‘that is truly wise, I’m really glad we had this session.’ I say, ‘But I wonder if we could make it a bit more about sustainability, because that’s what this column is supposed to be about.’


‘Ach! My little Dahliette’ (that’s not a real word but I think it’s like a cute nickname to mean I’m a small human apprentice Dahlia). ‘You think that ‘sustainability’ is a thing you can outsource to its own department. But it’s the whole cake. You humans are smart enough to do whatever you imagine, it’s your hearts that are holding you back. 


‘It’s what you value, who you value, the seedlings that you leave in the shade, that will determine whether you can solve this puzzle. Feeling beautiful is a feeling you seek and crave, imagine the brains and clever ideas, and hard work you will attract when you radiate that joy out. You need to stop being afraid of rejection, and root down into each of your unique gifts. Be gloriously you, and the answers will seem obvious. (They literally are, you silly Dahliettes).’



Alice Holloway has been beavering away in the Sustainable Fashion space since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2008. Its not an easy space to work in. The skills and expertise of makers and practitioners has been really degraded by the rise of fast fashion and neo-liberalism.

Alice is the founder of Brixton-based bespoke lingerie brand Little Black Pants Club producing little handmade garments with big post-capitalist dreams.

We all want to make it.
Make it in our chosen career. Maybe make it big.

Sometimes perhaps just make it to pay day.
But whatever our ambition, what unites us all is the desire to thrive, be recognised – and be supported.
And that’s what Lambeth’s Creative Enterprise Zone is all about. Supporting creative people to do amazing creative things without having to leave our amazingly creative corner of south London.
Because we all want to make it – of course – but more than that, we want to Make It in Brixton.

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