We were lucky to catch up with Madera Rogers-Henry recently and have shared our conversation below.
Madera, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today What was the most important lesson/experience you had in a job that has helped you in your creative career?
At 14 years old, I was introduced to learning on the job. My work now, allows me to bridge organizing to community events and engagement. Beginning in the world of fashion. Fashion behind the scenes provided the most important lessons in being creative and an entrepreneur. As the youngest instructor in an agency/school in Texas, my responsibilities and talents were respected. Here I was a teenager working as a fashion show choreographer & coordinator, and movement coach; all even before Project Runway. I was a performance artist so to speak. Through my bookings with clients, I planned, trained, and implemented the dream, the plan. This paved the way for what I learned about my skills, talent, and self. My client list ranged from then emerging fashion designer, now deceased Fred Segal of Rodeo Drive, Sport illustrated swimwear designer KEIKO, to coaching models, and actresses to performers in the movement for the runway, photographer, and life. I worked with agencies in Montreal to Denver to prepare talent for international bookings. Actress as Colleen McDermott’s credits includes Grey’s Anatomy to General Hospital. Miss Black America 1978, Leiela McBride to the photographer for “Batman Returns”, Jack Pedota cited Madera’s coaching prepared him for real-life expectations.
Madera, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Being locally centered but globally-minded has always been my mantra for my path
in the fashion industry and life. Born in El Paso, Texas but have lived in Germany and Montreal, Quebec for a
a number of years, My introduction to modeling or fashion, modeling began with a bumpy road as a tomboy. My mother believed that modeling would assist me in being more ladylike. Some forty years later, my inspiration and creativity originate from this starting point. Over the past twelve years, a move from Brooklyn to my husband’s hometown of New Orleans recycled my perspective and was an entry point for my being more aware of my caretaking self and the planet. This move fostered enthusiasm, creativity, and a newfound awareness of continuing my work with paper and fibers to create products. This process or economy is known as a circular economy. Before the move to New Orleans, I had created, MERELY M.E. a line that intertwines responsible fashion, the environment, and personal style with versatile pieces. Using unadulterated fabrics
and more-than-ordinary techniques to create convertible clothing and accessories, 80% of accessories of MERELY
M.E. utilized recycled paper, fibers, and fabric to create a wide array of earrings, rings, and bracelets into viable products.
My recent project bridges my work as an artist and connects to my interest to be more socially conscious. My newest project, 2nd Annual The Recycle Challenge Parade & Festival has provided the most joy. While I’m introducing a global initiative that encourages students, adult artists, and everyday folks to participate in community challenges or complete a work of art that incorporates recycling and repurposing trash into works of art. I connect and intertwine culture, and collaboration by paying homage to historical connections and addressing a global need to reduce waste and transform waste into viable products or vibrant works of art. This project allows me to utilize all my talents and interests under one roof.
Through the six-day hybrid, multi-sensory pop-up experience weaves local to international musicians, while blending the rich New Orleans culture. The six-day event infuses fun with green and sustainable practices with education with rose princesses and queens wearing paper dresses and gowns, stylish paper hats from Nigeria worn by models, giant installations, puppets, banners, garden sculptures, and more! This unique showcase draws adventure to a global initiative around reducing trash pollution through recycling and repurposing into a fun and family-oriented experience.
Here’s what I know, the planet continues to sustain itself – the only way it knows how. Through unprecedented weather conditions- floodings and glaciers melting, trash clogging waterways and oceans. The harm has been,.. and continues to be done. We can see how climate control has affected our planet. My belief is that we can not change where the planet is going. However, we can change how we care for one another. I find it ironic that many profess to care about sustainability or our eco_ system. But can not see the direct connection to environmental injustices, disparities, and racism. I have to create my own narrative around the imbalances of society. Through The Recycle Challenge, my purpose, and my calling is clear. We must be the change we want to see in self.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
While recuperating in the hospital, in March 2019. While laying in the hospital bed, I realized a second chance had been given to me. A week earlier things looked very bad for me. At 120 pounds, I was being dragged from my bed screaming and cussing in several languages, by my husband and a close family friend. I had been dealing with a fibroid that had literally begun to zap me with energy. Met my doctor for the first time at arriving at his office. After seeing me he insisted that the next immediate step be – the emergency room. This provided a pivot in my business and life!
During this period, I realized that I was close to death. This second chance was the turning point. In a state of medication-induced sleep. My dreams connected me to a spiritual awakening. An awareness of knowing, that my work needed to shift perspectives and awareness. The Recycle Challenge has allowed me to manifest a dream into real concepts.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
The most rewarding aspect of being an artist is seeing a new art project, or a dream come to a realization. Even more, knowing that what I was creating were products and processes as part of a circular economy.
The Recycle Challenge invites festivalgoers to be part of a social movement by taking a small step as bringing unwanted glass, paper, and or plastic to the event to donate. For their gestures, they receive free admission to different events during the festival.
Unknowingly the attendees are participating in a circular economy. They take unwanted glass, donate it
to us, we, in turn, and donate it to the onsite recycling companies that range from glass, compost to plastics. What takes place is that as a collaborative we globally and locally
repurpose and recycle unwanted items into new products such as costumes, sand and etc. Thereby, further extending the life of unwanted trash. I’m fueled by my passion;
to do what I believe will make the world a better place.
- Website: https://www.the-recycle-challenge.com/cfo-madera-e-rogers-henry
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the1recyclechallenge/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRecycleChallenge
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheGreenJourney
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7riG98DKBLnFlfEJy1hV1Q
All photos are selfies or taken by Madera E. Rogers-Henry