#TBT: 16 Tastemakers Reveal the First CD They Ever Owned
On Wednesdays we wear pink. Okay, no, that’s Mean Girls but on Thursdays, we do take a look back at all the throwback tech of our pasts and get all nostalgic and stuff. This week, we’re going to talk about music. Specifically, CDs. There was a time when there was nothing better than going to your local Tower Records or wherever after school, scoring the newest album from your fave singer/band/Spice Girl, then taking it home and listening to it on repeat until you have every lyric in the little CD booklet memorized. CDs aren’t in the very distant past — just a number of years ago, we were still using them on the reg, but man, technology sure moves fast. With a blink of an eye, suddenly that most prevalent form of getting our tunes from the ’90s to ’00s is a relic, which of course makes me think about the first CD I ever owned.
I’d inherited plenty of CDs from my older brother before, but Sixpence None the Richer’s eponymous album was the first one I got for myself. It was released in 1997, but when “Kiss Me” became the theme song for She’s All That, the band entered my world. While Freddie Prinze, Jr. is the love of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s life, Zach Siler was mine. This got me asking other Brit + Co editors, music industry insiders and tastemakers what their first albums were and man, the answers are definitely a trip down memory.
Lisa Raphael, Editorial Director, Brit + Co
“My first CD was Janet Jackson’s Design of a Decade (I was also a decade old) and the most-played song was either ‘Runaway’ or ‘Nasty’ — which I would create elaborate dance routines to and make my five-year-old brother sing the fella’s parts.”
Aniyia Williams, Founder + CEO of Tinsel
“I remember this vividly — the first CD (my parent’s bought for me — I was 10) was Mariah Carey’s ‘Daydream’ album. Ohhh, I played that to death. I almost always listened to the whole album but my favorite song was ‘I Am Free’. I loved singing the ad libs over and over. That was how I first started to practice ‘runs’ when singing… we all know Mariah had runs for days!”
Kate Puhala, Senior Style Editor, Brit + Co
“My first CD was No Doubt Tragic Kingdom. I listened to ‘Sunday Morning’ OVER AND OVER AND OVER and dreamed of being a bleached blonde one day. When I met Gwen Stefani at Beauty Con, I told her that it was my first CD I ever bought and she was like, ‘Awww, I love that!'”
Jordan Wolosky, General Manager, AG Artists (Sean Mendes, Rockie Fresh)
“The first CD I ever bought was Queen’s Greatest Hits. I used to sit in my mom’s car listening to the classic rock station for hours waiting for ‘We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions’ to come on until I realized I could solve the problem with my own copy of the album.”
Beth Wiscnia, Associate Editor, Brit + Co
“My first CD and on repeat song was Britney Spears’ ‘…Baby One More Time.’ The first thing I ever spent money on in my entire life was that CD! My sister and I put our money together in third grade. I remember it so clearly.”
Kristen Shaw, Celebrity Hairstylist
“First CD I ever bought was Break Every Rule by Tina Turner!! I was obsessed with her afro and outfit and dance moves! As a young girl in Illinois dreaming of having an afro and an amazing voice, this find for 50 cents at a garage sale was a hit. My most played track was ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It.'”
Victoria Haas, Channel Marketing, Brit + Co
“I had both Spice Girl CDs but ‘Spice Up Your Life’ was definitely my go-to. I totally choreographed dances to that jam in my garage. The audience? My stuffed animals. Costumes? My old Halloween costumes.”
J Boogie, Musicologist, Pandora
“First CD I ever owned was Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock. ‘Rockit’ was on repeat as I practiced backspinning and doing the worm on a piece of cardboard.”
Cortney Clift, Associate Editor, Brit + Co
“It’s so embarrassing but the first CD I owned was Trisha Yearwood’s album Songbook which I think was a collection of all her hits. I remember listening to ‘How Do I Live’ on repeat, which could have been because I a very angsty child or because it was the first track on the CD… I have no idea how that CD came into my possession. I think I probably just liked the album cover while I was at Best Buy.”
Francesca Bean, Marketing Manager, Brit + Co
“My first album was ‘Now That’s What I Call Music Volume One.’ There were SO MANY GOOD ONES on repeat but its a three-way tie between ‘I Will Buy You a New Life’ by Everclear, ‘Flagpole Sitta’ by Harvey Danger and “Say You’ll Be There” by the Spice Girls.”
Dahni Piro, Singer/Songwriter + Frontwoman for End of Ever
“The first full album I remember was Revolver by The Beatles. My brother sent it to me for Christmas. He being 12 years older than me, I was heartbroken when he moved away so I treasured the CD. ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was on repeat.”
Angela Velez, Community Editor, Brit + Co
“My first CD was Shakira’s Pies Descalzos when she was the Latina Alanis Morissette. My cousin Gaby gave it to me! She was (and continues to be) a million times cooler than me, and she wanted me to hear Shakira’s girl power message. I listened to ‘Estoy Aqui’ on repeat and dreamed of writing letters to boys. (I was nine years old).”
Claire Cook, Strategic Account Manager, SNP Communications
“The first CD I bought on my own was Backstreet Boys Millenium. I bought two copies of it in case one got scratched, which was smart as I played ‘I Want It That Way’ on repeat for about a year. I hid this purchase from my parents as I was a classically trained opera singer and they did not want my training to be influenced by pop music. This boy band rebellion against my parents ultimately lead me to become the product manager for One Direction’s first two albums, which is the source of many Cook-family jokes.”
Andrea Kasprzak, Assignment Editor, Brit + Co
“The first CD I owned is difficult to remember but Ace of Base’s The Sign is coming to mind. The song I had on repeat was ‘The Sign.’ Such a classic. I kind of want to listen to it now.”
What was your first CD? Do you have any throwback tech stories to share? Tell us in the comments below!
This Jewelry Designer Infuses ‘90s Hip Hop, Caribbean Spice + Vibrant Hues into Everything She Makes
This Jewelry Designer Infuses '90s Hip Hop, Caribbean Spice + Vibrant Hues into Everything She Makes
Vibrant hues, '90s-era boldness, and raw artisanal beauty — these are just a few of the characteristics that make the work of today's creative crush truly swoonworthy. Named for a potent Caribbean pepper, Tracey-Renee Hubbard's Scotchbonnet is a gorgeous line of earrings and accessories made by hand with love, thoughtfulness and a resolute passion for the art of making.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and super fan of Scotchbonnet! Like so many creative connections these days, I first connected with designer Tracey-Renee when she DM'ed the @britandco IG account and we featured her work in a story roundup of BIPOC makers. A few weeks later, she applied and won a scholarship to our first session of the Selfmade program where Brit and I both had the privilege of mentoring and working with Tracey-Renee on her brand, her business plan, and her mission. Since then she's been awarded a minority creative grant from JOANN Fabrics, and seriously upleveled her production process thanks to a collaboration with Glowforge. (PS: B+C readers can get 20% off their own Glowforge Pro by clicking here!)
Now I am thrilled to be able to share more about this brilliant maker's journey, inspiration and creative process in this edition of Creative Crushin'.
Anjelika Temple: Before we get into learning all about your creative inspiration, tell us a little about your background.
Tracey-Renee Hubbard: I was born and raised in Wisconsin. Yep, lots of cheese and cows. Growing up in Wisconsin right outside of Milwaukee provided me with a surprisingly diverse and eclectic foundation. My parents stressed the importance of academics, but they didn't believe that excelling at school needed to come at the expense of creativity or other hobbies. Art, music, books and softball were a big chunk of my childhood. Crafting and creating have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
One of my favorite shows to watch when I was growing up was "A Different World." It was about the college experience at a fictitious HBCU (Historically Black College/University) called Hillman College. Watching that show inspired me to go to Florida A&M University (an HBCU) where I received a BS in Business Management and an MBA.
The world changes quickly and I love learning new things! After completing my MBA program, I studied graphic design, multimedia art and completed the Merchandise Product Development program at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in San Francisco. My academic and professional experiences have given me the opportunity to live and work in lots of interesting places; but for now I am based in the San Francisco Bay area.
Anj: Did you always know that you wanted to be a professional artist/creative?
Tracey-Renee: Yep, but for a long time I was afraid to do it because of the "starving artist" stigma (all lies, btw). I tried to compartmentalize my creative practices as just a "hobby", but when something is truly in your spirit the desire never really goes away…and so now here I am!
Anj: What do you love about making things? What keeps the spark going for you?
Tracey-Renee: I've been inspired to create for as long as I can remember! I've always been fascinated by color, texture, travel and cultural connection. I grew up watching my grandmother quilt, sew and mend garments, I saw my Mom create beautiful home décor and heirloom holiday decorations and spent time in my Dad's workshop. Being surrounded by unique handmade items that hold special stories has fueled my passion for being a designer and maker.
Anj: Like so many artists, you've got a day job in addition to your creative hustle. Tell us about your career path.
Tracey-Renee: My first "real job" was in pharmaceutical sales and marketing. I loved the left brain/right brain mix of processing all the data and scientific information and then finding creative ways to relay that information to doctors and health care providers. That role really opened my eyes to the power of messaging and visual communication tools which ultimately led to me returning to school to study digital design and multimedia arts. I've had fun using my marketing and digital design skills in several different industries. I currently work as the Director of Marketing and Creative Strategy for a candy company. I spend a lot of time working in the digital realm – I think most of us do- and that makes me really appreciate the time I spend making handmade jewelry for Scotchbonnet.
Anj: Tell me more about your brand Scotchbonnet! How would you describe your brand's mission?
Tracey-Renee: I want to make pieces that are cherished - special but not so "precious" that they sit in a box stored away for special occasions that are far and few between. My accessories are known for their bold shapes, bright colors and eye-catching patterns. Each piece is handmade with love (I hope my customers can feel it when they wear their Scotchbonnet accessories)!
Scotchbonnet jewelry has been described as "conversation starters" and I love the fact that they connect people and get them to start conversing. I am excited about elevating those conversations by creating capsule collections connected to social causes; that way the chat can go beyond just "cute earrings, where'd you get them?"
Anj: At Brit + Co, we are enamored with bright colors, patterns and geometric shapes -- and clearly, you are too! How did you hone in on your aesthetic?
Tracey-Renee: I chose the name Scotchbonnet for my jewelry brand because scotch bonnet peppers add a distinctively potent spice to Caribbean food and I feel that my jewelry has the same vibe. My accessories are known for vibrant hues, bold shapes and eye-catching patterns. I am inspired by the flashiness of 90s hip-hop, the simplicity of modern luxury, and the raw beauty of artisan goods from the African Diaspora. My aesthetic continues to evolve based on the things I love, the places I've been and the community I want to serve.
Anj: We LOVED mentoring you + helping your business grow during our first Selfmade session. What were your main takeaways from the program and experience?
Tracey-Renee: Selfmade helped me understand the importance of having a clear vision and trusting my intuition. It can be inspirational watching other entrepreneurs "hustling and winning" on their social media feeds, but without clarity about my vision that "inspiration" can be overwhelming and make things confusing. It's easy to confuse movement with progress – Selfmade helped me craft an action plan that ensures each step builds momentum and accelerates me toward my goals. Selfmade also provided me with a vibrant, uplifting community of founders, entrepreneurs and go-getters.
Anj: When you get creatively blocked or burnt out, how do you reset? Do you have tips you can share?
Tracey-Renee: I take a break. We're inundated with "hustle culture" that can make us feel guilty for taking a break, but at the end of the day we're of no value to anyone when we're burnt out. When I have a creative block I usually log off for a while… there's this duality with the internet where on the surface it seems to be an endless pool of inspiration, but in reality everything that's on the internet has already been filtered or curated by someone else. Sometimes it's helpful to see things through a new lens and find inspiration in ("real" physical) books, at a museum or out in nature. Seeing things in a new light from a different angle can be a really refreshing creative jolt.
Anj: What does your workspace look like? What tools do you use and how has it changed over the years?
Tracey-Renee: I'd describe it as "choreographed chaos". It's organized enough so that I can be efficient with the administrative parts of my business like: inventory management, packing and shipping. It's creative enough so that it still feels inspiring, and it's tidy enough that it doesn't feel overwhelming to sit down and start working. It smells like coconut or tropical fruit (thanks to my candles) and it sounds like hip-hop, dance hall, soca or afrobeats.
The primary mediums I work with are wood, paint, glass beads and recently brass. With that being said my paint brushes, needle & thread and jeweler's saw are always within close reach. The most recent addition to my studio is my Glowforge Pro 3D laser printer; it is a game changer! It shrunk my product development cycle time infinitely. Prior to the Glowforge the process was time consuming and costly; now, I can literally "print" a new design within minutes of sketching out an idea. It's also been awesome when it comes to inventory management and sustainability. I no longer have to worry about over-producing or wasting materials; I can make exactly what I need right when I need it without any waste. The Glowforge can make millions of things and I'm excited about trying new design ideas in the future. I have a ton of sketches and inspo photos on my magnet board and in my notebooks waiting to be explored. (ICYMI: B+C readers can get 20% off their own Glowforge Pro by clicking here!)
Anj: What advice do you have for emerging artists and designers just getting started? What advice do you have for creatives struggling to find their unique voice?
Tracey-Renee: Start with your "why" and not your "what". Your "why" will be the secret weapon that competitors will never be able to touch. Once you have that part figured out; dive in! I think that now is a really exciting time for creatives. The rise of entrepreneurship powered by social media has removed a lot of barriers that used to make creative careers seem out of reach. Protect your work, but don't be afraid to put yourself (and your stuff!) out there. Connect with other artists and build a community, it's so important to have a sounding board for difficult times and a crew with whom you can celebrate your successes.
Anj: What's next for your brand?
Tracey-Renee: Scaling and growing in a way that feels authentic. I have new colors and new products coming soon and I am super excited about that! My upcoming premium capsule collections are close to my heart; designing jewelry inspired by social causes and having a "give back" component means the world to me. I want to keep having fun with my brand, sharing joy with fun colors and patterns and infusing love into each handmade piece.