The collection which celebrates, “the natural beauty of the place she calls home,” with vegan leather materials and earthy tones to symbolise the California landscape Rashida resides in, sees the brand introduce new personal items including which are set to be a highly coveted, especially the belt bag.
Rashida Jones, the star of the iconic TV show Parks and Recreation, the US version of The Office, Netflix sitcom BlackAF and Grammy Award winner for her Netflix documentary, Quincy – about her song writing father, Quincy Jones – knows a thing or two about being none stop. And just when her CV couldn’t be more varied, she’s added, “designer,” to her list of skills by creating a collection for the coveted luggage brand that has redefined travel, Away.
Whilst ‘juggling multiple plates at once’ is evidently also one of Rashida’s key skills, she is currently taking “time out,” in her stride, as she reveals to me over the phone during another Monday morning in LA’s lockdown. “We are a generation that compulsively works,” Rashida shares whilst musing on the last year.
“We have notes on top of notes, and we needed to streamline the process, even with socialising we do it all the time and sometimes it’s nice just not to!”
For someone known for her larger than life, side splitting, comedic timing it comes as a touch of surprise to discover what Rashida has learnt about herself from the experience of lockdown, “I think I have found that I am secretly an introvert because I felt a sense of relief not having to leave the house,” she laughs. It’s funny because I think it’s true, for all us!
Rashida’s collection for Away aptly seems to reflect this newfound persona, too. “The actual act of traveling and being on a plane is a very soldiery, pensive experience, where you are leaving something behind. Travel is existential experience,” Rashida tells me.
“Every time I travel, I learn a bit more about myself,” she continues, as I ask what the most formative trip of her life was. “As a kid I went to India, it was so different to my life and it became so formative in how I looked at the world. It was a stark contrast going from a private school in LA to a tiny village in India. It’s forged my path in life as it was the commonality between the people there and I. I was sharing a smile with a kid, we had something in common and it really struck me that we have more in common than we do differences.”
“When I think about globalisation, I get sad because I think about how connected we could be and now it feels like it’s torn us apart. Hopefully the pandemic will show us that we need to care about each other as a global community,” she adds.
Regardless of whether her trip is a solo or group venture it is clear, the act of travel is a reflective, personal experience for the multi-hyphenate. “I was travelling so much,” she says, “the things I bought with me were so important and I wanted the collection to be a reflection of me, something beautiful enough to remind of home and be a companion on the trip. Also, as I have gotten older, I want things to feel more practical too.” The stunningly practical duffle bag is a prime example of that.
Whilst we may not be able to fly around as we wish, Rashida is getting her escapism closer to home in California by, “driving to the beach, touching a tree and trying to connect to anything that feels bigger than me. It’s so easy to forget what the point is, we are stuck on a treadmill with all these things we are told to prioritise with very little time for reflection,” she confides.
Rashida is as well versed in reflection and self-care as she is comedy, she reveals. “I grew up meditating – I went to a meditation centre. Whilst other kids were going to camp, I was going to meditation retreats. Self-care feels essential now, it’s felt that way during other times in my life, too, that it wasn’t a choice. I have to meditate and to practice self-care,” Rashida says.
What has meditating taught her, I ask? “I am a pretty cerebral person. We think our minds define us, but it’s something you should discipline. You have control over it. A lot of the time we think our mind takes over us, and we can’t control a thought, emotion or action but we control it. It’s a huge part of my success.
Meditation allows you to harness your mind so you can control what happens, rather than the other way around.” Anyone else reconfiguring their own mindset after hearing that? Because I certainly am!
Just before Rashida dashes off to attend to one of her many CV exploits, I ask if she could sashay off, around the world anywhere right now, where would she go? “We have a fantasy, my four best friends from High School and I of doing a road trip around Italy,” she replies without hesitation. I for one would sign up for that road trip in a heartbeat. BRB off to pack my Away x Rashida Jones bag right now for a spot of reflection, Rashida style.