The singer and songwriter’s collaboration features a custom woodgrain pattern on the Crocs Classic Clog and the Classic Slide. To pair with the Crocs of your choice, she has curated a collection of Jibbitz; a teeny-tiny evil eye, a little Earth, an asthma pump, a mushroom, and an amethyst are among her personal charms.
To help her kick off the collab and Mental Health Awareness Month, she enlisted her close friends Sage Adams, Yaris Sanchez, and Donte Colley. Sage, she explains, was one of the first people she knew on a personal level to tackle her mental-health issues through therapy, inspiring her to employ some of those same techniques in her own life. Yaris, one of the most spiritually and mentally strong people she knows, SZA says, is able to find the light in any situation despite what’s on her plate. Donte keeps things high energy and motivates everyone while dancing through his struggles.
We spoke with SZA for more on the collab, mental health, and how she stays grounded.
How different was it for you to work on designing this collaboration compared to working on your music?
I’m really a visual person, and I’m really hands-on with everything that I do. It’s just been a really fun extension of who I am. I’m grateful that I get to kind of brain-vomit myself into a pair of very comfortable shoes.
What was it like customizing the patterns and Jibbitz?
The original SZA wood logo was designed by my homeless friend Greg, who lives in Santa Monica. Some years ago, way before CTRL, he was a guy that I used to go sit next to. One day, he was doing all these cool drawings and I was like, “Wow, this woodgrain thing is crazy.” He made a whole outfit for me in woodgrain as a doodle, and it was so cool. I felt like me being at summer camp, thinking about Camp Anawanna, all those things melded into who I was. So when it was time for me to do the Crocs collab, of course, woodgrain was my first thought for something that would be really cool, textured, and interesting. It represented me so well.
What’s your go-to outfit for wearing with your Crocs?
I’ve worn literally everything with my Crocs. I’ve been swimming in my Crocs, which are strangely helpful for buoyancy. I’ve dressed them up, worn a really cute short dress. I’ve worn them super-casual. They’ve been really helpful with my little medical boot because they have a tiny platform to keep them level so that there’s not a huge height difference. Literally, every single outfit, they look so cool with my Jibbitz, no disrespect to anybody else’s Jibbitz. With my Jibbitz, it’s, like, little gold accents and the cool pattern they form just make everything look super-cute and quirky, and I appreciate that.
You’ve been open about astrology and manifestation in the past, even working with an astrologer. What has that been like for you? Do you feel like you’ve learned important things about yourself?
I’m actually not that into astrology anymore. I think it gives a nice overview of who we are as people, but there’s so much more than just astrology that goes into our makeup. Whether you want to be into human design, whether you want to get into different spiritual practices, be it yogic practices or Yoruba practices or anything, ancestral conversations … There’s so much that makes up who we are, even though we still know so little. It’s really just about collecting grains of salt until they make a picture of how we function in the world. I’m grateful that we even have anything to read when it comes to all those different mediums and modalities.
You’re an advocate for mental health, especially in the Black community. Why do you think it’s so important?
I come from a Black family [where] even though my parents are really liberal, my grandparents, my cousins, and my aunts are really conservative. That conservative energy is not in a right-wing sense; it’s more like “Don’t talk about your problems, don’t complain, be grateful for the bare minimum even if you feel like you want more, do not express that you want more for yourself.” It’s like you want to just be non-problematic. And even mental health and expressing moments of struggle and depression can be seen as problematic. I feel like that stigma needs to be done away with. I feel we’re getting farther away from it as a Black community, but also we’re still plagued with unrealistic expectations of how we can be, how we can survive.
We’ve been in survival mode for so long as a diaspora. There’s so much more to dissecting the quality of life that we deserve and really just going after that, and mental health is the cornerstone of discovering the quality of life we truly deserve as people of color, as Black people.
Tell us more about the friends and mental-health advocates you’ve chosen to partner with for this collaboration? How have they supported you and your mental health?
Sage, Yaris, and Donte all handle stress, depression, hard-core trauma, and just struggles in so many different ways. Whether it’s Sage being super-honest about the way she’s feeling — she’s not hiding anything, and she’s not gonna be hunky-dory through all of it, but she’s also going to let you know what she’s learning and what she’s doing. Whether it’s Yaris keeping the light and the giggles and focusing on other things besides her pain, or whether it’s Donte working through his pain to bring light to others. All of those mediums of processing emotions and stress really helped me see the dimensions and the dynamics of mental health.
I really desire to be the kind of person that can bring people joy even through my pain, and I guess maybe making music has been my way of doing that, but it wasn’t conscious. I don’t even know if Donte’s [dancing] was conscious. Making songs and performing and all of that definitely isn’t conscious but I always feel better after, which is interesting, and somehow other people are affected by it in a positive way. I’m just grateful that anything can come of feeling awful besides darkness.
What are your own self-care and mental-health practices like? How do you stay balanced?
I love to meditate. I learned this thing called Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya after I did a program called “inner engineering” from Sadhguru. Prayer is really powerful for me, and I feel like prayer can be nondenominational. It’s just kind of an activation of acknowledging something bigger than you. A life-force energy that keeps all of us animated, electricity that’s running through the world that responds to vibration.
Meditation and prayer and also activation of the body, doing things, actually physically moving and being in nature, acknowledging, like, Okay, I’m outside. The grass is really green; I think that’s beautiful. The trees are really beautiful. The sun is happening. Things that I don’t notice when I’m really stressed out. I don’t notice anything that’s awesome when I’m stressed out. So breaking down what’s around in the now, even if I’m just in my backyard and looking at, like, blades of grass in a bush. That’s something that I need to be reminded is still progressing and growing even if I feel like I’m crashing. It gives me some sort of hopefulness and a reality check or a grounding check. Those are my things.
Music, now design — what else do you want to explore in the future? Can we expect more Croc collabs, as these will likely sell out, and fast?
Man, I hope they do. I have no idea. I want to just open myself and any calling that God puts in my life. Something about water conservation is really important to me, something is drawing me to learn more about it and what that means for our future as a planet and how I can be a part of that, whether it’s even finding main sources of water, etc.
I have no idea who I’m going to be, and I don’t mind that. Even though it’s kind of scary because having a goal makes it easier for you to go toward but also just being open and trusting the process and not closing yourself off of signs, signals.