Gone are the days of black women having a stigma of dating online! Serena Williams becomes ambassador of women-owned dating app BUMBLE!
If you haven’t put your resolutions out into the universe, you’re probably thinking the same thing as me when it comes to making useless resolutions the first of January: that you’ll probably forget by February. Each new year we all have “ to be a better person” on our list of things to improve with marking another (bumpy) ride around the sun. It’s not that we’re cynical about making resolutions that don’t really mean anything. And is it just me or is social media promoting resolution propaganda? “...2019 will be the year I mind my own business, drink tea and meditate.” This is easier said than done. I know this because the culture has been collectively seeking spiritual guidance, spiritual healing through crystals, therapists, astrologist and so on. The market for this type of stuff has also profited from people’s need to block out the BS in the Trump era. According to Fast Company, it is a multi-billion dollar business that attracts executives, CEOs, and the like to make decisions based on their energy and the findings of their spiritual teachers.
But this supernatural technique isn’t the only way to gain your newfound spiritual regimen in 2019. There are much cheaper routes to take like going to church, meditating or reading your astrology charts online. Of course, it is time-consuming but emotional well being is increasingly becoming important in the era of screentime overload - when you find out how much time you devote on your phone and its associated apps.
Over the years, friends and colleagues have asked me how to go about finding a life coach or something of the like because they think they need an intervention of some sort. But what I have found in my own quest to finding allies who are on your side to help interpret your life, is that the whole process in itself is supernatural. It’s not like finding a doctor or your next insurance broker. Your spiritual regimen should come out of self-reflection - what do you truly want to work on about yourself? It’s about owning up to your faults and then trial and era the remedy.
Here are a few ways you can go about it from personal experiences from my world travels.
The church home is key to healing your soul. If you’re religious and grew up exposed to organized religion, then you know this is where to go to get your mind right. Of course, with all the drama aside, this is a place where you can find inner peace. As a Christian, I’ve always loved going to church during times of depression and being lost in life after a major breakup or career shakeup. I know the people who run the church aren’t perfect, and I’m not either, but I find it comforting that other people know me and my goals and will pray for my success. It makes me happy that my pastor knows me by name and calls me a “writer” even during the times when I didn’t believe in myself. Find a church or religious institution that makes you comfortable and is not too judgemental by asking friends to refer you to a good place. I also love how social media can either make a church either more welcoming or expose them. So also read the Yelp reviews.
Get your aura read. If you’re feeling blah and stuck in a rut going into 2019, going to a licensed aura reader may inspire you. Aura reading is a new practice that was founded in the 1980s in Berkeley, California. This past December, I was invited to a beauty industry event where they hired Clara Kumiko Ueki, a licensed medical massage therapist who also studied Cytology, to read the moods of their guests. According to her website,” an Aura is vibrational energy of the presence of any living thing. An Aura Reading provides one's information of this moment in time by showing images and interpretations of the vibrational energy.” I happily sat down across from Kumi in a hotel room for about 20 minutes while she told me about what she felt from my aura. Although, the Japanese born aura reader told me qualities about myself I already knew and even told me facets of my personality I was still working on connecting. Aura reading is good to know for people who are emotional. Kumi’s aura reading is unique in that she equates roses to individual energy. Mine rose she said is bright red and in full bloom!
Much like chakras, if you’re into plant psychology, you should definitely look into getting your aura read to find clarity in your mood. https://www.aurareadingnyc.com/
Hire a longterm life coach if you’re new to entrepreneurship or trying to take your career to the next level. These people are all over Instagram. They are the ones that promote “getting your life together in a few quick and easy steps.” It can seem a bit cheesy but these types of people are highly motivated by people who lack ambition. Their job is to make you successful in whatever life goals and resolutions you establish. I strongly advise you do your research when hiring a life coach. They can change as much as $10,000 a month if they know you will make you grow financially. Although I can’ t accurately provide a price quote for your specific needs, a life coach can help you lose weight or even be a better parent. My life coach was also a Yoga Instructor and a Christian so her methods included meditation, astrology, bible verses about God's children and also lots of smiles. We met on a resort in Jamaica and through our long conversations on the beach, I knew I wanted her energy around me. For our first sessions, we talked a lot about setting intentions and also manifesting the life I want. Yes, these are all teachings that you can probably google, however, a life coach holds you accountable. Tony Robbins is the most recognized life coach. There’s also Tai Lopez who sells online marketing courses, and also gives mentorship opportunities to his best students. Moreover, you can use social media to keep up with people who spread inspiring messages on social media, which that itself can be a cheaper way of gaining access to a life coach.
A shaman can clear away bad spirits in your life. In recent years, Shamans have increasingly grown in popularity. I don’t know if Yoga is considered vintage and people are looking for a new thrill, but Shamans are customary to Latin America and that’s where I experienced my own spiritual awakening. I was traveling in Ecuador, cruising around the Galapagos islands without cell service, and I had no choice to get in touch with the other side. After seeing blue for days and healing from yet another horrible relationship with an idiot, I was going crazy with my thoughts. Somewhere between prayer and meditation, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean,” I came to the thought, “Everything that’s beautiful is not always good for you. “ Once I disembarked from the boat that sailed through the ancient civilization and hoped on a plane that would take me to Quito, Ecuador. From the window seat of the plane, it was beautiful to see vast greenery after being sucked up in the deep blue sea. I was on my way to the Choco rainforest to spend a few nights in a hotel above the clouds. To make a long story short, I met a guy at the hotel bar in Quito, on my way to the rainforest, who told me he was going to see his shaman in Amazon. We talked for hours about shamans, guayusa and the meaning of life. After 3 bottles of wine and vaping at the hotel bar until 5 am, this dutch guys gave me some parting chocolate, a vial of guayusa and another vial of something that was supposed to make me sleepy, and left by cab to see his Shaman. He traveled thousands of miles to see his Shaman. I couldn't believe his trek and he still had 8 hours to the deep depths of the Amazon to go. What I got from this rated R experience is that people are devoted to mending a broken soul and will do anything to find healing. Years later and Shamans just keep popping up indirectly into my life. If you’re seeking shaman to do ayahuasca or something of that nature, definitely do your research. Shamanism is an actual college degree at select universities so at the very least if your future shaman has a degree from an accredited university, you’re halfway there. I would also get testimonies from actual people who have good experiences shamans. A shaman can be expensive, but if you’re into spiritual meditation, then it will be worth it to you.
Subscribe to a Astrologer’s Readings on Youtube. Modern Astrologers have taken their magic to youtube to reach audiences who may not feel like reading their horoscopes on a website or in a newspaper. Ever since a friend told me about Amber Khan and her brand The Quietest Revolution, I became devoted to reading about my sign ( LEO) every first of the month. Her readings are always very detailed and require full concentration when watching her hour long videos. Amber gives very real breakdowns of what her Tarot Cards mean by zodiac sign and it’s good to follow because she will touch on previous months readings for clarity. Aside from Amber, there are TONS of Youtube Astrologers so you can explore people’s vibes.
Get into Essential Oils, Smudging and Incense Burning. If you like burning candles and incense, there’s power in cleansing and maintaining your energy with scent. This type of practice goes into the natural healing category. Tons of companies are popping up with their own version of essential oils that aim to spiritually guide its customers to positive vibes. Wild Spritz, is a beauty company based in Texas that sells au natural products like Energy Clearing Aromatherapy Spray. Founder Lauren Arevalos started her company after turning her obsession with smudging into a business. Essentials oils have also become mainstream in curing anxiety and have been deemed the new antibiotic. In article entitled “How Essential Oils Became the Cure for Our Age of Anxiety” in the New Yorker, essentials oils are not just a white woman spending habit. In a excerpt from the article, “Oils’ rising popularity is part of the contemporary appetite for wellness, an embrace of holistic healthy-living practices ranging from the low key (meditation) to the wacky (Brain Dust, a forty-dollar jar of adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms that promises to “align you with the cosmic flow for great achievement.” Oils can be used to sure just about anything but at a high price. If you’re a beginner at essential oils and smudging, I recommend starting with palo santo and sage sticks to smudge your living space and use it with your burgeoning meditation practice. You can buy on Amazon for under $20 here.
New Yorkers have been reading the MO book and there’s so much to highlight and discuss with your friends, family and colleagues!
This morning on my own MTA commute, I couldn’t help but notice handfuls of young women, dressed devastatingly chic probably on their way to work, with their head down in the pages of the former First Lady’s new book Becoming by Michelle Obama. Seriously, it seems like everyone has the book and there hasn’t been a viral book like this in a while. It’s giving me major Chicken Soup Soul type of vibes. It’s enjoyable across genres.
The memoir begins with a preface about where she is at the moment in relation to 2018. We get realness from the jump; Mrs. Obama writes about making herself a cheese sandwich in an empty kitchen with the dogs. She confesses she feels lonely with no children to look after years in the spotlight. Admittedly, I was sure she was a hot second from putting in a bid for her presidency, but boy was I wrong!! Chapter One takes the reader way back to a 4-year-old Michelle Obama, who was known as “Miche.” From there we learn about the first time she fucked up in school, to how she dumped her boyfriends and my favorite part, how she fell in love with our 44th President of the United States Barack Obama! I really do miss the Obamas! Every 10 pages, I found myself emotionally overwhelmed with tears of sadness, happiness, empathy, and love because that’s how much I related to her stories. As a young woman in her twenties trying to sophistically navigate the keys to a successful career, family and love life, this book brought me reassurance as well as hope. Here are 10 things that I learned from Mrs. Obama’s memoir that want to use to get through the rest of my infamous twenties.
McDonald’s / Fast Food Joints serve better food because of Michelle Obama. Throughout the book, she talks about her vegetable garden and how watering plants lead to measurable change in politics, from decrease childhood obesity rates to major fast food companies pledging to improve the quality of food they offer their consumers. As I walk past an McD’s today, I can’t help but have a better opinion about the infamous restaurant. I don’t feel guilty for indulging in their McDoubles because I know I can also order fruit parfait on the side.
Take care of my family and close friends. Mrs. Obama talks deeply about the deaths of people in her life that really affected her emotionally that made her become a better person. I cried when her dad, Mr. Robinson, passed away a few months before she got married to Barack Obama. I felt for Michelle Obama when her best friend Suzanne died in the midst of her busy career as an attorney. It was as though she spoke right to me when she expressed how guilty she felt for not being there for her friend but still valued and cared about her. In my early twenties, I’ve had friends who passed away because of illness, as well as gun violence and I always felt bad because I didn’t give enough of my time to them while they were alive. But how could I when it’s already tough just trying to make it through? Towards the end of the book, when Mrs. Obama was deep into her First Lady job, she talked about attending and speaking at the funeral a young girl from the Southside of Chicago who was killed in gun violence while hanging out at a park. Perhaps this was her reconciliation for her own friend Suzanne who passed away as well as her own way to stay connected to the hood, but it moved me. I learned that family and friends are everything and I have to make time for who I love.
Search for your most authentic voice. More than ever, I feel pressured in society to have it all at the same time. On social media, we are praised for being a girl boss and entrepreneur, but side-eyed if we have nothing going on at the moment. In the book, she writes, “I look back on the discomfort of that moment now and recognize the more universal challenge of squaring who you are with where you come from and where you want to go, I also realize that I was a long way, still, from finding my voice.” In relation to school, there’s always a sense of who belongs and who doesn’t but i do believe school allows you to find your voice.
Be nice to the younger generations. The Biden kids were SO nice to the Obama girls and this is how it should be between any generation. There’s going to be times of inevitable collaboration with people older and younger than you, but the main thing is to be open. Unfortunately, there have been instances where my skills and my friends’ skills and talent weren’t taken seriously in the workplace. Especially when it comes to new technology. Yet some baby boomers and those older would rather work with someone they are familiar with in age. And it sucks when you are experiencing this! Mrs. Obama offered a lot of encourage to those who are trying to take the higher road. I feel like her encouragement matters because even her team while First Lady consisted of all young female millennials who were understanding of motherly duties and childcare. Very often I work with mothers who have busy schedules and I feel it's my obligation to give these women certain privileges. I’ve always been maternal at heart and I don’t think trying to separate it from the “professional” space is worth it, but I take it in small doses. In regard to Mrs. Obama, she wrote a few times about how in awe and thankful she was for their talent and ability to adapt. Yes, the goal is adapting and everyone can bring something to the table.
Which leads me to my daily reminder for 2018: F*ck what other people think of you. Do you! I loved how the book reinforces self-reflection and unapologetic enlightenment. In regard to the “What do you do? Or want to be?” question kids are always asked, Michelle Obama says that clouds the true vision. “This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path - the my-isn’t -that-impressive path - and keep you there for a long time.” It’s to say...yes, of course, we should all have flawless resumes, but its OK to fail and fall hard. I felt so horrible knowing that I failed at working in the editorial space after being laid off after 6 months of hard work - coming in early and leaving late. Deep down though, I just wanted to work at the reputable publication instead of focusing on my own. Which in the end is all I had and it worked out because Violet Summer Zine has been my saving grace.
Negotiate your salary and ask for more. I’ve had a few experiences with salary negotiation. During one salary negotiation experience, I woke up one morning with my face swollen! I was stressing over the situation for weeks and I guess it was too much stress for my body. Days prior before my blow up, I started itching violently at night and I don’t have a history of irritated skin. So when I finally sent the email to even discuss my salary to my boss, I was sure I’d pass out from fear. My heart skipped a beat when I finally sent the email. An email! To be clear, my salary anxiety had developed from past bosses frowning upon me asking for more. Then I read how Mrs. Obama negotiated her own salary in her late 20s/early 30s and it made me upset, angry and also enlightened. Angry, because my salary inquiries came out of a need, not a want or a sense of entitlement. Yet, I was made out to be some ungrateful millennial on more than one account all because I needed money to live. Mrs. Obama recounts when she too had to ask for me, she says, “it became clear that if I wanted to join the tribe, I’d have to negotiate my way in, asking for exactly for what I needed in terms of salary...I couldn’t be shy or embarrassed about my needs.” Yassss I absolutely love this part so much I highlighted the paragraph with a pink marker. She basically told her employer how much she borrowed to attend her prestigious universities and how she really needed to live on a certain amount that equated to a salary in order to do the job and excel at it. In the end, her employer gave her what she negotiated and she worked twice as hard knowing her employers valued her worth. After reading that, it made me feel better I too had done the same thing when negotiating a raise!
It’s OK to ditch mediocre boyfriends. For whoever needs to hear this: dump abusers and overusers! The young doyenne of black style taught us early on that it’s okay to date and if you don’t really like the person, dump them. She reminded us that marriage is ideal but if you don’t get that feeling of love then why waste your time?!
Barack Obama. Do I have to write anymore? In this book, the reader gets a full glimpse inside of the genius that was our 44th President of the USA. He is smart, kind, and a family man. But Michelle lets us know that she’s running the ship. She’s that black mom that does everything for her family and is unapologetic when it comes to her girls. I love that she made her children’s bedtime at 8:30 PM and stuck with it, even if her husband was running late. Not to mention, the way he proposed! Ahhh! It made me think about how this family is aspirational as they too financially struggled and was not shy at moving in with parents to catch a break with rent!
Am I good enough? Yes, you are. As a recurring mantra in Mrs. Obama’s narrative, readers are forced to step into her shoes. She truthfully recounted situations were the “aim I good enough?” question tried to block her from her full potential. She basically says she wouldn't have succeeded as First Lady had she not had hardships. With a career, it was finding something that she could be happy doing every day. At home, she wanted to give her girls the same love as her parents gave her growing up. The “Am I good enough?” question proposition is REAL. It’s a question that everyone’s had to deal with at some point. It’s unavoidable.
Her style evolution is BEYOND. As the First Lady, Mrs. Obama knew she would be scrutinized for everything she wore, yet she stayed true to what she knew best choosing items she knew would send a unique message. Her commitment to wearing up & coming designers was rewarded amongst magazine editors and she also lifted these now family but then new designers and brands’ notoriety. I thought it was gossipy to read about the intricacies of what went on in her dressing room, yet I loved it! A dressing room just sounds so chic and old world! We witness how this cinderella woman becomes a real princess that has morals and courage and strength.
Every year it seems like I wait until the last minute to buy the kids in my family presents! I start out every holiday season with good intentions when it comes to making my shopping list, but it just seems like I do better with last minute mall trips and rush shipping. Ahhh 8 days till Christmas!! Now, behold my list of gifts and favorite online boutiques! Tis’ the season to get the clickin’! LOL
Here’s what you need for the beauty aficionados:
During Life Therapy’s launch at the pre-historic and renovated Beekman Hotel, a quiet older lady at was reading auras. And you can guess that I got mine read, perched in a makeshift area in the beautifully scented and decorated hotel room. Right off the bat, my aura reader said that she sees the color of ROSE after she scanned me. A BRIGHT RED! She told me that I need to start trusting in my own intuition because I already know how to make good decisions when it comes to my career. Whether all of this is relate-able to my life is debate-able.I took those words and interpreted it as something i already new about myself. It’s no secret I love roses.
DIRTY LEMON is the CBD energy drink you never thought you needed on your shopping list, until now! They announced the launch of its newest product, +cbd, a cannabis-infused elixir created in partnership with leading premium cannabis brand BEBOE. The beverage is formulated to combat stress, increase relaxation and promote overall good mental and physical well-being. Not to mention, it keeps your SKIN HYDRATED & glowing.
Here’s what you need for the accessories obsessed:
This Etsy.com cult classic sells the perfect homewares for your most treasured everyday pieces. From wedding ring holders to chic containers to hold those go-to q-tips and cotton swabs. Check out the shop on https://www.etsy.com/shop/bluephl.
This black-girl-magic inspired cache shop has everything you need for your next girls trip or bridal shower.
Here’s what you need to buy for him, her, and everyone:
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This is hands down the best book from a First Lady and all around Superhero!! Check out our book review and don’t forget to gift the beautiful soul in your life the bible to getting over adulting.
If the West Coast is the best coast, then INTUITION.LA is the shop for all the LA cool girls. From Angela Simmons and fashion bloggers like Claire Sulmers from @fashionbombdaily, INTUITION.LA dresses the hottest women who use are powerful and beautiful. In other words, they use their intuition. The boutique brand carries the latest trendy pieces, as well as timeless products for a look that will set you a part from the rest.
Louis Vuitton celebrated the new Objets Nomades collection during Design Miami/ 2018 at Cecconi’s Soho Beach House on Tuesday, December 4th. Guests in attendance included Michael Burke (CEO/Chairman of Louis Vuitton), designers of Objets Nomades including Alberto Biagetti and Laura Baldassari (of Atelier Biagetti), Humberto Campana, Patrick Reymond (of Atelier Oi), as well as Bailey Beckstead, Nathan Browning, Carolina Daur, Isaac Hindin-Miller, Sue Hostetler, Poppy, Olympia Scarry, Fiona Scarry, and Beau Wrigley.
For Design Miami/ 2018, Louis Vuitton exclusively introduced three new objects: Italian design studio Atelier Biagetti’s Anemona Table, Atelier’s Oï’s Serpentine Table, and Tokujin Yoshioka’s Blossom Vase, along with a selection of existing objects. In addition to these brand new additions, new variations of two select Objets Nomades were also presented: The Campana Brothers’ Cocoon swing chair and André Fu’s Ribbon Dance chair. The new collection of Objets Nomades and Les Petits Nomades are showcased at both Design Miami and our Miami Design District store alongside a special curation of our most exquisite and one-of-a-kind exotic offerings.
Photo Credit: Louis Vuitton / David X Prutting / BFA.com
I didn’t know an email and a small goal to cover fashion in Africa would lead to curating a workshop and press trip in Nairobi Kenya. As vague as that reads, here we are, three months later, flying to Kenya on Kenya Airways first direct flight from New York to Nairobi. I was tapped to host The Core Fashion Kenya’s inaugural cross-continental collaboration with a handful of creatives in the fashion industry. What materialized was a network of passionate people supporting each other’s craft, dozens of mentorship opportunities for Nairobi’s fashion students, and a fabulous travel diary for everyone on the internet to view at #CFKNY2018. It was more than a dream to experience what fashion culture is really like on the continent of Africa alongside my favorite professionals.
Palm trees and lush plant life provide the ultimate getaway for the paved and dirt roads that make up the vibrant city of Nairobi. As I stepped out of the plane on to a red-carpeted runway, I breathed in the summer air of the motherland. I was greeted by dozens of smiling Kenyans and airline officials, eager to welcome me and my colleagues to their country. Little did they know, we were so much MORE excited to be there with them.
Like I said, I was in Kenya to celebrate Kenya Airways inaugural direct routes from Nairobi to New York. I want to say that again because it’s PIONEER TALK. I knew this day would be filled with colorful banners, picture taking with dignitaries and lots of food and wine after getting a taste of the airline's party skills at a gala hosted a few weeks prior to this day in late October / on the eve of November. Because of this, I made sure to handpick a list of New York’s top creative forces in the fashion and media industry who were not only enthusiastic about their job but also sharing what they know with young Nairobi creatives. Including editors and media influencers Tanya Christian, Claudia Rondon Torres, and De’von Johnson, photographer Bellamy Brewster, fashion producer Mariana Cantu, branding executives, Natasha Roberts, Suzie Wakobi and Diana Opoti, as well as fashion designers and Stylists Anyango Mpimga, Mi Mi Plange, Brian Babu and Iris Barbee Bonner. Confession: I went in thinking we were going to be giving history lessons about fashion and quick tips on using proper SEO words. You know, workshopping. The experience turned out to be truly unforgettable. It was an exchange in culture, a connection to our roots, and reawakening of our own mission to what we want to go in life. We were much more than the "Americans" in Kenya. We were a vessel of inspiration, confidence, and proof that if you are passionate enough about your goals and have a plan, you can accomplish anything. This is what the students at the workshops valued the most. The overall mission was Collaboration Not Competition.
At first glance, the city of Nairobi is eaten up by tons of traffic. There are cars, buses, and matatus going with the flow of traffic but it can be consuming. Especially after a 14-hour long flight. There's the city's metropolitan vibe and then around the corner, the dirt roads and fruit markets make it feel like the Caribbean. Which may explain why there's an economic campaign to built up the city of Nairobi by 2030 so the entire city is literally under construction. It’s #8 in the continent’s ranking for most developed countries. Fashion presents an opportunity for entrepreneurship and this city has countless ways to get involved. Is it just me or was I the only one who naively viewed developing countries as a no man's land for business? This is definitely not the case in Nairobi. In retrospect from my week long experience, I can vividly see the potential.
Day One - Nairobi
Linda Murithi was our group leader, a Kenyan who has established her fashion roots in Nairobi and is the founder of Core Fashion Kenya. Hours after our flight landed and not quite over jetlag, our adventure with a local began at Capital FM Nairobi radio station. Capital FM is located in the business district of the city and occupies the penthouse space with a dope view of Nairobi's cityscape. We gathered in the conference room to have coffee and tea before chatting with the host of the Morning Show live radio.
The radio is still a powerful means of communication and in America, podcasting and playback TV totally devalues this medium. Going on air was like talking to all of Nairobi, saying a million "Jambo" to the people. I don't know about the rest of the group, but I felt like a celebrity. LOL.
It was exciting to speak about my background in content and why I chose to collaborate with CFK to produce a three-day workshop. Of course, I didn't expect anything less than amazing from onlookers, but bringing an idea into fruition would also be thrilling. And it is was.
I didn’t know how exhausting it would be to answer questions and speak comfortably about fashion and editorial to people who are genuinely curious about what I do and how it can be beneficial to Kenya’s fashion scene. Gratefully, though, this is why we are all here. Which made the trip as it progressed even more meaningful. After a day, we were comfortable with navigating the foreign, yet familiar, landscape thanks to Uber. Besides the workshops, the itinerary included attending some sponsored dinners but for the most part, we had a lot of free time. In the evenings, we went to dinner at places like The Village Market’s Local Grill and went for a nightcap and chill bar scene at a popular spot called Mercury Lounge.
Day 3 to 5: Workshops
Day three to five included a mix of workshops, travel and fashion collaborations. On the days leading up to the workshops, I got to know designer Mimi Plange on her profession as a designer in the corporate space and also an owner of her own atelier in New York. We were going to be on a panel together so this unscripted 1-1 time made our forthcoming conversation natural. Plus, I got the tea on what it was like working for some of the hottest brands of the 2000s. She spoke candidly about her time working for Rocawear and Beyonce’s iconic denim line House of Dereon, as well as what it was like to have a 6-figure salary at 24 when all your friends are still broke. My motive wasn’t to expose the dramatic parts of her career but find ways to educate others on her journey that ultimately provide career intel for people who are also trying to make it.
One thing Mimi shared is that salary negotiation is a HUGE factor with women asking for more. For her roles in executive positions, she hired an attorney to liaise on her behalf for her salary, contract guidelines and intellectual property. Another career insight she expressed is to never burn bridges because the fashion industry is small. By the time we got to talk on our panel in front of an audience, we were like best work wives. I was able to reference our side-line conversations about negotiating your worth as a designer, the lifecycle of a garment and the struggles of a small business owner. My panel was followed by a native Kenyan and young business owner Diana Opoti, who gained popularity when she announced on social media that she was going to wear only African designers for an entire year. That publicity stunt landed her on the Business of Fashion’s Top 100 People in Fashion list and drive to open her own store selling products from various designers in Africa.
Day 2 of the workshops included lessons on photography, branding and carving your niche with Natasha Roberts, Suzie Wakobi and Bellamy Brewster, and others. While these two young dynamos gave the audience lessons on advertising and branding, the majority of the group went on a Safari and to visit elephants and giraffes in their natural habitat. Everyone met in the hotel lobby at 6 AM dressed in devastatingly chic as fuck safari outfits. How could this fashion group disappoint?! Regrettably, I didn’t put much thought in my own Safari outfit. It was too early for me to think about what to wear from the two suitcases I schlepped across the world. But my go-to black wax leather pants, white tank top, olive green trench coat, and Chelsea boots were perfect! I was grateful to have traditional safari bucket hat from KQ's merch and basically, the whole group wore the same hat that day too. So I was in trend after all. Although our wildlife excursion started with a heavy downpour of rain, I was convinced it was a prelude to the perfect "This is Africa" experience. By the time our huge bus rolled through Jurassic Park, the roads were hella muddy and well you probably can guess the rest.
One minute we were gawking at water buffalo, the next I'm praying I don't have to use the emergency top secret number in my phone. Our little fashion adventure got kicked up a notch when our driver took a turn for the worst! He’d been doing a great job until he tried to bust a u-turn on a narrow and muddy pathway in one of the back parts of the national safari park.
The bus literally got stuck mid-u-turn that ended up blocking any other vehicle that had our same plans of venturing off the course in search of animals. Thirty minutes later and totally freaked out, some dude in a more appropriate jeep pulled up beside our van with a meager 10-foot wire string and a metal shovel. Everyone on the bus thought this wire was a joke and kept saying, "what's that going to do?! Absolutely nothing at all. But A for effort! After several attempts to use this weak wire to pull a full van of us out of the mud, the gentleman kindly left. He muttered something in Swahili to our driver which I presumably interpreted as, "you'll have to dig yourself out." Hence, the shovel. Everyone, including me, laughed at these attempts to get us out of the mud just to keep from panicking as Americans do so naturally. About an hour or so later, another proper Safari jeep came speeding down the muddy road to pick us up and continue our safari experience. Excited to be getting out of the van, We naively stepped onto the dangerous, wet, muddy terrain, ignoring the road sign just meters ahead that read “ Do Not Get Out Of Car.” For obvious reason, that a lion can sneak attack you! duh! Needless to say, my Zara boots I wore for two seasons in a row were laid to rest after spending less than five minutes walking to our “new” car.
I didn’t know I could work up such an appetite observing giraffes, and herds of zebras and water buffalos in the wild. Since the national park is located in Karen, we ate at The Talisman, African and Morrocan inspired restaurant that occupies its own little ranch. The outdoor/indoor restaurant includes seating for at least 150 people and features little private alcoves to host large groups like ours. I couldn’t help but notice the other people also eating at this restaurant.
There were several groups of maybe humanitarians discussing strategy, little Australian families enjoying lunch, as well as a few locals huddled at the bar with sipping on a dark color drink. Although the food and service were to the utmost, admittedly, I got sick (probably from the cheese) and was out cold for the rest of the day. I missed hanging at the private giraffe manor, dinner at a cool local spot and clubbing at Kizu! ugh! Wizkid was partying in the private VIP space that night too.
On the last day of the workshops, the entire group of mentors made sure to be back on site at The Movenpick Hotel. It was another opportunity students and local fashion enthusiasts could ask questions and request last minute critiques of their current projects. In general, I was over the moon that over 100+ students attended all three workshops days. They had notebooks full of tips, tricks, and lessons, and most of all they were not afraid to wait their turn to have their own private little sessions with us!
To summarize the magic that took place, I’ll end this blog post with a quote from one of the young Kenyan bloggers who writes about her city from the perspective of a plus-size blogger. In her own recap blog post she wrote, “the creative atmosphere was so relaxed and unpretentious, the mentors were so open to mingling and networking with us, the attendees, that it was an embarrassment of riches the amount of advice and information availed to us! I could tell they were equally as excited and impressed by our offerings. From our fashion expressions to the styles and even caliber of offerings, I knew that it was a truly collaborative space of which I am certain will bear fruits of collaborations, inspirations, friendships and who knows what else! For a peek into their adventures, check out their respective pages for their perspectives!” As I answered her email hours after I landed back in New York City, I knew that #CFKNY2018 was truly awakening for black culture and necessary for cross-continental relationship building.
This 160 - year - old Dallas, Texas footwear brand is here to school us on all things proper western style and we are here to take notes. Each Miron Crosby boot features eye-catching designs that incorporate intricate stitching , an array of exotic leathers and unexpected embellishments. Catch a vibe with the boots on the mood board. www.mironcrosby.com
There’s no escaping politics these days, whether attending a local not for profit/ community organizing group or keeping up with Congress on the news, the importance of voting in the general election is everywhere. The energy inspired me to make sure I vote via absentee ballot or in person but stay up to date with what’s going on in my own community. Although, I can honestly say I’ve always been this civically engaged. Especially when it comes to community organizing - I was a junior block captain in Philly when I was 13! However, that quickly changed as I became more of a millennial, more into fashion and blogging and of course, social media! And now recent polls have shown that millennials are known for not showing up to vote which translates into statistics that basically mean we don’t care about “democracy.” This recent article published by Business Insider titled, “College students say they can't send in their absentee ballots because they don't know where to buy stamps” is proving to be true for millennials and GenXers at least in Virginia. For those reading who really don’t know, you can buy stamps at the Bodega. However, it’s not the full story. And to keep informed and participating, I went to a free event on Eventbrite hosted by The People's Forum.
During the 3- hour event hosted by organizers of the Poor People’s Campaign, they went over the agenda about changing the narrative for what poor looks like in America. After the group reviewed the data, most of us were not surprised to learn that 140 million Americans are low income or poor, and that number can drastically increase when people’s individual debt is added. This quickly turns into a problem with voting because a lot of the people in these demographics don’t have the time to deal with the system; they are focused on surviving, paying bills, providing for family. It goes far beyond access to the internet when the system doesn’t even rely on the internet to actually work. For example, the fact that I had to print out and manually fill in my absentee ballot, to be eligible to vote is archaic. Has Congress heard of type form?
As I listened passionately to the woes of the Poor People Campaign (founded by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968) , I wanted to relate, and I did relate. To the community, I explained the tedious process of registering to vote in the state of New York after being a resident for five years. Also, all my ids were expired so a government state ID was the quickest way to register to vote in New York. However, to get an ID, it requires five forms of identification, including a birth certificate or social security card, passport, a utility bill, a debit card, another piece of mail postmarked 90 days, a credit card, a pay stub among other documents. These documents were really hard for me to gather. Blockchain should be considered for this verification process, seriously. At the last moment before the DMV attendant dismissed me, I threw a piece of plastic aka a credit card under the DMV reception desk, separated by a glass window. I was elated to have even qualified! Ahhhh, I would finally be registered to vote in New York. But in retrospect, it’s no wonder many people don’t have a state ID and aren’t registered to vote. If we can vote for the next American Idol on our cell phones, why can’t our elections do the same?
This conversation is TBC, however, if you’re interested in voting for the General Election next month on November 6, 2018, here are a few things you need to know.
You have to be 18 years of age to vote, duh.
You have to be registered to vote at least 30 days before an election. If you have a state id or driver’s license, you should be automatically registered to vote in states like Pennsylvania and New York.
If you are traveling or out of the country, you have to apply for your absentee ballot (view here ASAP) by mail, then wait for your actual ballot to be sent to you like a week before the election. You must then, send your ballot back to your country before…
If you live internationally, you can still vote!
The rules to vote are different by the state when it comes to parole, jail, etc. In some states like Florida, you can’t vote if you’ve been a convicted felon. However, in California you can still vote if you have a record, but not currently going through jail time.
You can only vote in one state. In other words, don’t stuff the ballot box. If you have a driver’s license in one state, and a regular ID in another, chose where you are going to vote.
In many states, your John Handcock or your signature makes legitimizes you and your vote. Make it count.
Photos: Chanel S/S 2019 Runway.
Sanity Addiction Part 3 is dedicated to domestic violence and the issue that is still taboo in the urban community.
Sanity Addiction Part 3 tells the story of a young black girl from Philadelphia named Princess who is at a turning point in her life. She is presented with a new opportunity to attend fashion school in New York so she takes it with the financial help of her boyfriend, who gets sent to jail for presumably selling drugs. Princess ends up ghosting him, quickly adopting a whole new life in New York. And you know that means, the young inspiring fashion stylist starts dating the wrong guy even though at face value he is charming and has a respectable job; he ends up becoming her abuser. I was inspired to tell this story from my own upbringing and having women share their own stories. When you’re in an abusive situation, it’s ultimately a struggle. I’m most interested in the reasons why these individuals stay in the “relationship” until it “gets better” in their own eyes. In general, their strength is as identical to many women in history who have stayed quiet. However, in the #MeToo era enough is enough.
It has become increasingly important to talk about issues that are affecting all of us as more of us go public. It is these stories that I feel most empowered to write about in Sanity Addiction, which is published in Violet Summer Zine. According to a report released by the Hotline.org, “females ages, 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.” Just this year, I knew it was still a big issue because of the many young women in my network have either experienced or know someone closely experiencing violence in their personal lives, me included. I have also connected with women who have created nonprofits like BMoreLoved.Org, founded by a young woman who is passionate about helping women navigate the complex legal system when dealing with domestic violence situations. She, too, has also experience domestic violence and was able to escape the situation before it was too late. TIME IS UP. The more we talk about this nasty truth currently plaguing our community, the more it will help put an end to misogyny.
Lastly, domestic violence is ultimately ruining and limiting women to live up to their full potential at home and in the workplace. 4 in 5 victims are females experiencing abuse from their male intimate partners. We already know that it is a huge issue but why isn’t anything being done to stop it? It’s a cultural phenomenon. And more importantly, I would like to know why this issue isn’t serious until someone dies or someone’s life is on the line?? Rihanna is one celebrity I admire because she went through a very public domestic violence situation and she never went back to her abuser. Sadly, a large percentage of women do go back due to financial reasons as well as a mental block disguised as love.
Yes, statistics show that nearly 33% of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner. Growing up in Philadelphia, I knew a woman who was murdered by her supposed boyfriend at a nightclub. I was at her home the night her life was taken by a jealous boyfriend. She left behind a small baby and a 6-year - old daughter who became very angry at her mother who was not around anymore. So it’s not a joke when other people’s lives are involved and there needs to be stricter laws that deal with not only the abuser but also provides mental counseling for the victim.
For more information please visit https://www.thehotline.org to get involved and learn how to approach and deal with various domestic violence situations.
Read Sanity Addiction for Princess’s story.
Happy S/S 2019!
“As someone who has a platform, because of what I do, I thought it was important to lend that platform to a group of people that I believe are under-recognized,” says James. "Being the son, husband and father of strong African American women, I felt like this was something I wanted to do for them and for all the strong women out there who are succeeding despite what might be stacked against them.”
Last week, Philly native Anyee Wright debuted her first single and chill video for OFF THE WALL which is apart of MASTERPLAN. The visuals are a mix of this whole pink neon obsession currently taking place on IG, internet shit, and decent acrylics. The lyrics are super girlie and playful as they fall right in line for the beginning of cuffing season. *insert eye-roll emoji face* Check out the visuals and show her some love!
Instead of keeping up with those Kardashian’s, keep your nail game strong and healthy. Don’t get caught up in the streets with broken nails and missing eyelashes, you never know when you’ll see your haters. If you’re going to truly do “self care,” get educated with the chemicals going into making you feel and look beautiful. Do you know the difference between MMA and EMA? Ever since I switched nail techs, my nails have been in better shape. When she first laid her hands on my nails, she said, “those gotta come off.” Yes, I had MMA nails. It was because the nail salon I’d been frequenting for years was using the bootleg products, even though I was paying top dollar. So we started with a blank canvas which in the nail world means soaking off the acrylics and shaving off the tips. Something you should be doing at least every 4 weeks of wearing fake nails anyway. MMA / EMA is the liquid chemical used to mode the acrylic. MMA, the acrylic monomer or the liquid acid used to activate the powder to melt onto your nails, happens to be super horrible and dangerous for your nails. However, so many salons are still using MMA and customers have NO idea. Here’s what you need to know about EMA and MMA acrylic powder.
MMA (also known as Methyl methacrylate liquid monomers) acrylic is dangerous to the nail and skin around the nail. When used it can turn the natural nail yellow, lead to permanent nail loss and even numb the nail and skin around it so much it can lead to irritation and air blockage. MMA creates super hard nail enhancements that don’t break. However, when the nail is jammed, the natural nail breaks first, under the MMA acrylic causing even more painful damage.
MMA was introduced to the nail industry in the 1970s when dentists used the same powder to form porcelain dentures. It can also be found in plastic. However, by the end of the 70s, numerous complaints were filed to the FDA about the horrible effects of this powder to the skin and thus it became somewhat illegal. I’m saying somewhat because nail salons still use MMA today, as this is the cheaper route.
MMA acrylic powder reacts differently to each person. For example, when I get my nails done with MMA, on the first day, my nails feel super tight and mildly swollen, like tight braids aching to be loosened up. Why did I let someone who may not even have a license put this on my nails? I didn’t know any better! The tightness I use to experience with each fresh set was my skin reacting to chemicals that don’t allow your nails to breath, the strong chemicals used to form plastics. This is a common side effect that most people put up with regularly. Other side effects include swelling so bad, your cuticles can easily become infected with puss build up if you are highly sensitive. My nail tech actually told me that a young girl she knew of didn’t know she was allergic to MMA and as soon as the acrylic hit her nail beds, the reaction took its course and she had to be hospitalized! Moments after her nails were did, they had to be cut off while the ambulance rushed to the nail salon.
According to the FDA, MMA is a dangerous chemical that can lead to miscarriages. More here. Even the dust from the acrylic powder is a problem. MMA is hard to file and mold which produces a lot of dust when the nail tech goes at it with a drill. This is what makes MMA unsafe to use due to its inability to adhere well to the nail plate, often causing dents and thinning or no natural nail at all.
When MMA soaks off your natural nails, it looks gooey, melted glue and smells SO bad. The smell lingers even when it’s exposed. That’s why when you walk past some of these hood salons, you can smell what’s cooking from a few yards away.
Unfortunately and for cheap reasons, a lot of nail salons found in lower income areas are still using MMA acrylic and nobody seems to cares. The fact that nail suppliers are still selling MMA is ridiculous. It poses risks for the nail tech ( who usually wear a mask to prevent inhaling the smell) and the nail wearer ( messing up the nail beds and turning nails yellow).
EMA ( Ethyl methacrylate) is the more accepting type of acrylic liquid. In 1999, Cosmetic Ingredient Review approved the use of EMA as safe in nail products. The difference between MMA and EMA products are in the smell, the way they soak off your nail beds, the damage to your natural nails, and overall reaction.
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to MMA, it’s a good thing. The first step is getting it removed from your nails immediately. If you haven’t been getting a new set at least once a month, it can be easy for MMA ruin your nails. Proper nail maintenance requires a fresh set every month. Get with it, or get a regular manicure.
Let me start out by saying black women are killing it! There's been a lot of encouragement and support in the #blackgirlmagic community because it's needed. Next month, we will reach another heighten sense of inclusion in the world with over 10 black women gracing the covers of high fashion magazines. I am so excited to see Beyonce on the cover of Vogue US, Rihanna on Vogue UK's cover, as well as Tiffany Haddish gracing the cover of Glamour. I'm also happy Actress and Director Issa Rae is bringing the youth back to Ebony Magazine. That's what they need. And of course, I'm on the cover of Violet Summer Zine. It's a domino effect. That's what I hoped would happen for the magazine industry if anything else is wrong in the world when it comes to politics. Well, at least Omarosa is having her share in the media trying to overthrow Trump.
The summer is coming to an end. No one died - thank god. For me, we can all be grateful to at least celebrate life in a brand new way with a sense of accomplishment. If you're reading this, grow up and be the bigger person.
What's giving me life right now is my passion for writing merged with making money and collaborating/working with other passionate people. What's giving me life right now is the support from my friends, colleagues and also new relationships.
But even if some of us are experiencing a good time, black women are still at risk of hate crimes with an unjust outcome. This week I attended a press conference at Junie Bee's Nail Salon hosted by Singer Teyana Taylor to raise awareness to the horrible attack of two black women at an Asian owned nail salon in Brooklyn. The women spoke to the local NY news station about how they were beaten with broomsticks and sprayed with acetone. It was heart-breaking to hear these women speak about the situation all because they didn't want to pay $5 for a shitty eyebrow service. I'm sick of hearing this shit, especially from places that I have also been discriminating against even when I spend my hard earned money on poor services! What's even more maddening is that the women racked up charges for fighting with the employees at the Asian salon.
The disturbing footage of the fight was actually released by the Chinese Nail Association and the circulation of it is raising awareness on social media. However, NY City Officials need to crack down on these dirty ass nail salons that are constantly robbing predominantly black communities. Most of them are cash - only establishments which is also problematic. Also, many of them still use horrible chemicals that can be deadly. Re: MMA, and they don't warn customers of the materials they are using in the first place. You have a right to know why your nail beds are thin, cracked and yellowing under that cheap nail polish. At the end of the press conference, Teyana announced the women can come to Junie Bees and receive FREE services.
Now, I don't usually talk race wars but this video is horrible considering the number of legal issues the nail industry has been in over the years for spreading unsafe sanitary practices to their employees and customers.
The National Action Network team has put their forces behind the women and have organized protests in Brooklyn as well as participated in a press conference at Junie Bees salon early this week. But what we really need is the charges to be dropped. Ultimately, black women shouldn't shop or support at these places.
Here is a list of places owned by black women that you can purchase your beauty services:
YOUR SKINCARE SPOT owned by Detriot native Bianca Townsend. I wrote about her black-owned online business here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/need-beauty-advice-text-an-esthetician-on-your-skincare_us_5a04e571e4b0cc46c52e6938
CLEANSE BY LAUREN NAPIER: New York-based makeup artist has developed these amazing facial wipes for a face that glows. I love to have them in my bag when traveling or need to wash my face with something clean. https://www.laurennapier.com/
CURL BIBLE is owned by Dana Chanel. She's an entrepreneur currently residing in Philly. The idea came about when she was sick of giving her money to businesses that did not look like her. Plus, her FAITH leads her to create a brand that was reflective of her own morals and also beauty rituals. www.curlbible.com