Discovering a Soul Connection with Colombia

Shopping in Colombia

A Curated World enlists Travel Ambassadors to source MARKET FINDS from all corners of the globe. Follow Melissa Clarke as she guest curates our Instagram while discovering Colombia for the first time.

We have so many talented friends with a brilliant “eye” for objects and fashion that delight. Furthermore, these friends either live or travel all over the world. So we’re becoming a bit of a voyeur as these style ambassadors lead us to treasure!

Art therapist, style guru Melissa Clarke, aka Buttons, heads off to Colombia tomorrow. We’ve met up for some Q&A at The Somerville Flea where Melissa sells cold brew coffee from her new venture, Old New School Cold Brew, which she launched with our dear friend and Flea founder, Greg Ghazil.

Melissa juggles limes and serves cold brew coffee with Flea founder Greg Ghazil

Melissa juggles limes and serves cold brew coffee with Flea founder Greg Ghazil

Q & A

So I’m giving you carte blanche to buy whatever you’d like as you travel through Colombia. (We’re laughing because it’s total freedom, yet a tight budget!) You’ll explore markets and talk to artisans and sellers in Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogota. Your “Market Finds” will then be for sale through A Curated World.

What inspired your trip to Colombia?

Many reasons. I started taking Spanish three years ago and my teacher is from Colombia, so I feel like my Spanish originated from Colombia. Also because of so many beautiful Colombian people I’ve met I just feel a soul connection with the country. I need to go and experience it.

What will you do while you’re there?

Soaking up culture, meeting and talking with new people and eating! When not traveling, I’ll stay at my friend Julie’s Grammas’ house for one week and then teach art at a school in a fairly impoverished rural area just outside of Medellin.

I’m excited to contribute to your Instagram during this trip. Through photography I’ll share my view of the markets, colorful art, people and street scenes I discover while I’m gone!

The big takeaway goal is bettering my language skills. Working in East Boston as a mental health counselor and sitting down with Spanish speaking mothers, I would never be able to create many of the relationships I do if I didn’t speak Spanish. I speak Spanish in my day-to-day now and build friendships through this second language. So engaging with people is really what this trip is about for me.

There’s a beautiful photo of you laughing with a friend while running a road race and I know you mentor young runners. What are you hoping to share with them?

A mental health clinician started the running mentorship program for adolescent girls. They’re mostly peanuts, age 9-11. The mission is to be role models. Through running we’re sharing with them what can be possible when you care for your bodies. To run you need to sleep and eat well and it brings you outside. And personally with my travel, sharing with them that the world is both small and big and being a woman is being able to go out into the world and experience it.

You have a unique, timeless fashion sense. Yet, is there an of-the-moment, fun trend you’re personally championing right now?

You know, I’m a little dorky. I really like high-wasted jeans and pencil skirts, and I love tucking in my shirts. I’m also drawn to textures, patterns and colors, and I’m always looking to mix things together in a way that’s a little unexpected. I was Frida Kahlo for Halloween last year.

I guess I’m a bit frugal, or maybe it’s mindful of how I spend. I really have plenty of clothes, so mixing them is how I create my personal style. Also I’m given a lot of unique hand-me-downs!

If I’m traveling I search for something bright or patterned, something that will make me feel unique when I’m back home. I like wearing something with a story behind the item.

Melissa's street art shadow

Melissa’s street art shadow

Sometimes when I travel I feel right at home. If you moved from Somerville tomorrow do you know where you would go?

Good question because I am at a crossroads and I think about it a lot. I don’t think there’s one answer. I would go somewhere that has a community that I could fit into because that is what I have here.

I have a love affair with New York and people compare Medellin and Bogota to New York. I’m going to Colombia with some intent on discovering my love affair and what it means. Could I live and practice art therapy in Bogota? The reality of that doesn’t seem so far fetched. I think I would return, but I have nothing holding me back.

A few last questions for people traveling to Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston – these three great cities we both live in and around? 

Favorite Restaurant
The Beehive in Boston’s South End feels like a NY joint and has live jazz.
I loved everything about Sarma in Somerville – the food, the décor, the lighting, the crowd! I don’t often go out with the girls on a Friday night, so I just felt so refreshed, like a class act.

Sarma Restaurant in Somerville, MA

Sarma Restaurant in Somerville, MA

Favorite Bar
Toad – the community is always there and it’s an easy place to not know anyone. And terrific musicians play there every night, no cover.
Highland Kitchen has terrific cocktails and food, but I like sitting at the bar.

Favorite Place for a Run
The Charles River with the whole cityscape! Running over the bridges especially Mass Ave, and being inspired by all the other runners – you’re never alone.

Favorite Boutique
Anthropologie – my secret dream job is to create the windows in Harvard Square. I love to try things on even if I don’t buy.
Thrift shops – Buffalo Exchange and Somerville Flea vendors like Madera y Metal Design.

Favorite Home Store 
I want a Pony  – another Somerville Flea vendor.
Home items are often hand-me-downs that maybe I paint. My apartment’s balcony is really coming along with my garage sale finds!

Shopping I Want A Pony at the Somerville Flea

Shopping I Want A Pony at the Somerville Flea

Favorite Way to Escape the City
Experiencing New England Culture – a lobster roll and sand in my shoes – any North Shore beach like Crane Beach or Singing Beach.
Cape Cod, I love the color palette.


Melissa will guest curate our Instagram while she travels around Colombia. Follow along at @curatedworld

Melissa Clarke’s Colombian Market Finds will sell on our website in the Fall! Stay tuned!

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