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Collaboration.

On a brisk, beautiful autumn day in Brooklyn, New York, I was on my way to meet with a friend for bagels and business. I was in one of my favorite ‘lewks’ from my line and I was all smiles. He asked me to meet him at a B.O.B. (black-owned business) nearby called Radical Women BK, where I had the pleasure of meeting a fashion maven named Ashaka Givens and a new entrepreneur Natasha of Scat Cat Apparel. Natasha was setting up for her FIRST pop-up shop experience. Introductions were quick and kind, filled with bright Colgate smiles, and Instagram handles were exchanged. Then, in a New York minute, my friend and I were off to discuss his creative vision inspired by his recent tour in Europe over bagels.

It’s been about five months since that day, and by design, I must share with you my excitement about the power of collaboration. I will be joining a group of businesswomen in the South Jersey area as a panelist for their inaugural women’s empowerment event If These Kinks Could Talk: Concessions Cocktails and Conversation.

The Value in Attending

  • Vendors will be onsite sharing their products and services as well as taking orders
  • The opportunity to network with women with an interest in business ownership, community partnerships and sisterhood that is usually happening in Brooklyn, New York has come to South Jersey
  • The event is being held in a gorgeous restaurant Taste and Sea, and the menu is constantly being raved about!
  • The panelists are women with a commitment to share their truths about their unique backgrounds and journey as entrepreneurs and they are also committed to offering valuable advice and practices that have proven successful.
  • It’s something cute to do on a Saturday afternoon with your lady friends!

Wow. Just Wow.

(African Aunty’s Accent)

I am filled with gratitude to have been invited to the discussion. If you will not be able to attend, connect to the community. More events are scheduled that may arrive in your city in 2019!

Continue reading “Collaboration.”
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Anxiety.

Soooo…Anxious…

I literally sing Ginuwine’s song in my head whenever someone say’s “I’m So Anxious!” I do.

It’s 2019.  Congratulations!  We made it!  

As we start off the new year, I have been reflecting on the conversations I have had recently.  About a month ago, I stepped into ‘Holiday Mode’, which for me was leaving my new team and creative space (yay!!!) in New Jersey to visit my family in Ohio.  The energy almost overwhelmed me.  I couldn’t help but wonder, why was everyone so anxious?  The Uber.  The NJ Transit.  The Airport.  EVERYBODY IS ANXIOUS… and I don’t like it.  

Managing My Anxiety
I spent 6 months of 2018 living in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  I originally thought that I would be there for only 3 months.  Essentially, I had 3 months (really 2 months and a few days) of funds that I managed to spread across 6 months… Anxious behavior.  Thank God for family and friends believing in me.  My tribe enabled me to stay beyond my original timeline. 

Why was I so pressed to stay? 

Welp…

  • Cold Weather Avoidance (I HATE WINTER)
  • Creative Juice Flow (AMYANG.COM)
  • Curiosity of African Politics (Election Season)
  • Spiritual Growth (Life-changing Moments)
  • Love of Family & Culture (So many questions answered)

In hindsight, if I had not discovered REAL peace in Zanzibar, and practiced manifesting it while traveling with Koku Gonza and Crew in Tanzania, I probably would have died from a heart attack due to ANXIETY while I was in Sierra Leone.  It’s true.  So much happened while I was there. So many emotions.


I share my inner thoughts about personal moments during my time there on my podcast.  Feel free to listen.  Real peace is priceless.  

It was time.  I decided it was time to return to New York City.

Anxiety? A Little.
I had very little money and was dependent on family and friends for the basics.  Yep.  The basics.  However, anxiety levels were light.  Surprising right?  Here is why.

  • Leaving the ‘comfort’ of a paycheck hitting my bank account every two week that easily pays for a mortgage, car note, living essentials, travel, shopping and potential little emergencies for ‘a full life’ is daunting to the average person.  I left ‘comfort’ in 2016. 
  • I learned how to HUSTLE in 2017.
  • I learned how to live on a REAL BUDGET

Basically, I grew up.

For me, life is uncomfortable at times, yet fulfilling. I travel a lot. I literally live out of a few suitcases… and I have my belongings spread throughout various cities and Sierra Leone. It’s not always easy, but I am genuinely a happy person, often on the move.  My life has changed drastically since 2015, and it’s definitely a different lifestyle from many people that I know.  I have A LOT less commitments than you probably do.  I get that. However, no matter what your lifestyle is, we all go through highs and lows.  Those highs and lows can create constant anxiety… unless you learn how to live a more balanced life…your way.    

My way is practicing faith.

2018 Amyang Fashun Pop Up Art Installation,
Location NYFW SOHO Fashion District

Fight Fear with Faith.
Before I left for Africa, I had to take a moment to realize that I may die on this trip.  No plane ride is guaranteed to land safely, boat rides on the sea could tip over, and God knows what else.  I kept thinking, what if my family watches the news and I am on it because my plane crashed????  I was going to be in at least 6 countries where I do not understand the main language spoken.  I had to trust STRANGERS with my life.  I wasn’t staying in 4-star resorts.  My itinerary included villages in Africa.  What has American Media taught us about African Villages?  DISEASE.  The truth is, I had a meltdown while I was walking back from Chase to my apartment in Brooklyn.  The ladies at the teller line noticed that I used to work for Chase and congratulated me because I chose to lead a different life.  I got about 1000 feet out the door, fresh ‘OBAMA HUNDREDS’ in envelopes, and I cried for joy.  Koku and I were really doing this!  Wooohooooo!!!!  Then it was… Oh God.  Fear hit me in my chest and I choked.  Since it’s Brooklyn, no one interrupted my tears. 

Me vs. NYC Folks

I ugly cried while walking down the street and called Mom.  It was like she was expecting my call and me in that condition.  Probably because…she knows I am an emotional bag of bricks.  Instinctively, she just prayed with me on the phone until I calmed down.  After we hung up, I asked God to have mercy on me for all of my mistakes and bad attitude, and then I caught my breath and got on with living.  I didn’t realize it until recently but in that moment, I broke my chains of anxiety.  In that moment, I realized that I didn’t have control over much of ANYTHING.  I was going to have to have faith, or quit everything that I want for myself.

Inner Peace
I believe that the antidote to anxiety is inner peace.  The public dialogue about anxiety has evolved tremendously since my return.  Traveling through 8 countries on The Continent allowed me the privilege of interacting with people who live in ‘poverty’ EVERYDAY.  I also interacted with people who live in absolute ‘wealth’ EVERYDAY (like…legacy wealthy).  Regardless of the financial situations, I noticed a person’s inner peace when I came across it.  Guess what didn’t matter?  Account balances.  So many myths were dispelled during this trip.  We need to re-examine what really defines wealth and poverty. I met some folks with large account balances who are spiritually impoverished. Nothing to envy from my perspective. Nowadays, moments that seem unbearable, I bear without panic.  Moments that seem amazing, I celebrate with a full heart of gratitude.  I am now in a space where I really try to take every moment, by the moment.  I aim to stay present, even as I write this.  It feels great to share these deep thoughts with you.  Also, my kid sister just treated me to a late lunch at Old Bag o’ Nails so it’s and even better moment!

 Travel Changes Perspective…For Real
My travel binge last year changed my life.  I know I am a better person because of it.  I am a better sister, friend, colleague, entrepreneur, creative, and foe.  I am. I can only share what I know.  If you are interested in reducing your anxiety, traveling to the unknown may be your solution.  It may not be.  However, if it peaks your interest,  do more than look at everyone else’s social media, even mine.  I know without a shadow of doubt that traveling helped me to overcome daily anxiety and practice inner peace.  Consider what traveling could do for your life.  Then start planning.


Inner peace is the antidote to anxiety.

A travel binge could help you find your inner peace.

Practice Finding Your Inner Peace

Congratulations!  You read this whole thing.  You made it.  

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“A Word…”

  I used to carry a heavy load. The picture proves this.
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2011: I was living a lifestyle that involved constantly traveling (within the US) and I partied like a rockstar…I have never been shy around a camera, and only my closest family members mentioned to me that I may need to become more mindful of my weight gain. Weight gain was code for lifestyle. Over time, I realized that my lifestyle was not fulfilling me. Although it looked like I was happy, I was masking wounds, running from demons that needed to be conquered, and over indulging in everything I could afford. I traveled to attend the best brunches, had at least two of everything, and was just doing too much.

2014: The shift to identify my true self began. I moved to a different city and began to shed the material load. I discovered that I was a Creative, and I had the power to influence culture in a unique way. I also accepted that I was heartbroken and bitter. I started listening more and talking less. I learned that it was okay to not know everything.

2016: I began to shed the emotional load. I used to drink myself into oblivion; a toxic state. When I made some life changing decisions, both professionally and personally, I made a personal commitment to stay sober through the most painful moments. I dealt with a loss of income, depleted savings accounts, ending of relationships and a death in my family that made me question my faith in God… but God never lost faith in me.

2017: The weight lifted. I began to recognize my truth and myself. I developed confidence and began to actively practice gratitude and love. Self-care became my religion.

_________________________________________________________

It’s 2018, and I am in Africa.  Over a period of several years, I changed my life.  IT DID NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT.   My decisions were unpopular to my African Parents initially, but God touched their hearts. I mention them because I really care about what they think of me.  The list of people whose opinions matter to me is a short list, and they are at the top.  Having their blessing means the most.  It’s apart of my culture and although I resisted that for a long time, I have come to understand why a parent’s blessing is important to your spiritual growth.

I share because if you look to me for inspiration, know that my journey is far from picture perfect. Have intentions to become the best version of yourself in all that you do. I know now that God has always had my back. Also, the glow-up is real. Go for it!  It’s more than a word… but you get the point.

I hope you find value in this note.

I Am… Gayima

Gayima_LOGO

 

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We Can Still Heal… No Wahala

Flight to WakandaDays have passed, the box office numbers are undeniably record-breaking, and the cast of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther has injected a rush of African Pride into our veins.  I don’t want to come down from this high, but we need a reality check.

 

  • The flight to Wakanda offered by United is NOT REAL.  It’s sad.  I know.
  • The think-pieces promoting negativity around the production of this movie are steadily increasing, and it’s really pathetic.
  • Worst of all, the relations between Africans and African-Americans still needs healing.

Resent

black panther erik killmonger stevens
Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens (played by Michael Bakari Jordan) is fueled by the anger of oppression and disenfranchisement by his oppressors, The Colonists and his people, The Wakandans.

The fusion of real African cultures, language, and scenery presented as Wakanda is cinematic genius, but the torrid history that exists between the Wakandan-American, Killmonger and the Wakandan King, T’Challa is one of the most accurate depictions of the relations between many African-Americans and Africans in today’s society.  The deep level of resentment expressed through the character Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens, was felt world-wide by movie-goers.

Jordan delivers Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens with accurate brilliance, allowing the audience to watch an innocent, gifted child victimized by racism and oppression, internalize pain.  Over time, this pain transforms to a passion that’s engulfed in bitterness and vengeance, with the strength to destroy a nation.

“Maybe we can still heal you…”

Endure

I am second-generation Sierra-Leonean, born and raised in the United States.  My childhood was sensitive; I grew up with racist Whites and angry Blacks that overtly and secretly despised Whites.  I grew up with boys just as angry as Killmonger.  Add Africans into the mix and it gets tricky.  Many of my peers categorized me as an African, resenting and isolating me. I was made fun for having parents from Africa with thick accents.  African Booty Scratcher.  Big Lip Bitch.  Ugly Darkie.  My hair was always braided, and therefore considered short and ugly.  I was forced to embrace my studies because hanging out at the mall was foolish, according to my parents.  In many ways, I was an outcast at school.

 Maybe we can still heal you…”

 

West African Culture
African Parties = Life!!!

Heal

Although that was my childhood, I was healed.  I was saved from becoming a bitter African Woman by my African-American friends.  Not all African-Americans are mean.  Not all African-Americans are ignorant about Africans and Africa.  Some reached out and embraced me.  Those friends celebrated me when I didn’t have the courage to celebrate myself.  Let’s be honest… I introduced them to African food and dancing.  When they came over for a birthday party, heard the music and ate the food, the rest is history.  They realized just how connected we all are.  African parties win every time!  I’m blessed because my friends that embraced me then, are still my friends today.  It’s been almost 20 years, and our bonds are stronger than ever.

“Maybe we can still heal you…”

See

It’s important that we see the pain in each other.  The Black Community of Africans and the African Diasporans must come together.  We must have honest conversations, which means actively listening to each other, forgiving one another, and creating safe spaces for us to thrive in our communities and be actionable.  It is time to open are minds and our hearts to one another.  What’s most important is that we really see each other.  Turning a blind eye to your fellow man’s pain, it’s just not right.  This conversation must happen between us.  We don’t know enough of each other’s history and we must find a way.  We have a right to have commonality, and we owe it to ourselves. It’s for us, and it should be by us. African Diasporans & Africans

“Maybe we can still heal you…”

Forgive

Suppose King T’Challa wanted to save the embattled soul of his cousin Killmonger, even more so than his physical body when he said to him “Maybe we can still heal you…”.  The real tragedy is that Killmonger could not see beyond his own death.  The possibility of existing in a world without death and destruction of his oppressors was just unfathomable to him.  Forgiveness was not an option.  He chose death over the possibility of forgiveness.  King T’Challa did otherwise.  He had to forgive his ancestors and himself.  He also had to forgive Killmonger.  Forgiveness allowed him to maintain his throne,  move forward and make changes with an open mind and open heart.

 

A Tool to Uplift

Let this movie be more than just a moment of pride because the African Diasporans and others showed up and showed out.  Yes, we proved the naysayers wrong about movie sales, the talent exhibited from an All-Black Cast in Hollywood, and we did it in the most elaborate Cosplay/African Fashion series yet seen.

lupita blackpanther premier
Lupita Nyong’o Slays in Fashion at The ‘Black Panther’ Premier

However, while it is important to prove others wrong when doubt is cast against your community simply because of race, I think it’s more important that you prove your greatness within your community in order to uplift your race.

I believe Ryan Coogler and the cast of Black Panther want this movie to be used as a tool in Black Communities worldwide.  It should encourage the dialogue that will lead to the real healing needed between Africans and the African Diasporans.  There is a lot that the African can teach the African Diasporan and there is a lot that the African Diasporan can teach the African.

        “Maybe we can still heal you…”

 

        “Maybe we can still heal you…”

Let’s drop the ‘Maybe’.

         We can still heal.

It won’t be easy, but it’s time to heal each other… together.

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#WAKANDAFOREVER

 

Listen to this episode and more at NO WAHALA… The Podcast.  Hosted by I Am…Gayima.

Follow @iamgayima on all social media platforms.     Website: iamgayima.com

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Introducing Passport to Zuri

Reconnecting to Africa

The feeling of wanting to reconnect to Africa is real for many people that belong to the African Diaspora, yet they don’t know where to begin. A year ago, my best friend and I moved to New York City and took up residence in a humble apartment in Brooklyn to pursue our careers in ways we had only imagined.  Koku Gonza, an emerging International Singer | Songwriter, bought an uncomfortable futon, drop off a few suitcases of clothes, and immediately left for a six-week music residency in Hong Kong, China. A week later, I filled my SUV and journeyed from Washington, D.C. to Brooklyn on election day. It was cold, the country was on edge and I was weary. From opposite sides of the globe, we both knew that sooner than later, we had to find a way to get to Africa. It was time, and we were determined to make it happen.

From Brooklyn to Africa
As a Creative, New York is the city to be in if you are serious about your art. The opportunities are endless, but you have to rise and grind. Our mornings usually begin at 7 am, with agendas that include singing on the train platforms, processing orders and sewing or conference calls with team members. The uniform, Amyang Fashun apparel. One afternoon she came home with a story that inspired the inception of Passport to Zuri.

Koku Gonza: We’re going to Africa. We’re going to my father’s village in Tanzania!

With a blank stare, my response was simple.

Gayima: How?

While Koku Gonza was singing the classic African song, Maliaka, on a train platform in Brooklyn, Justa Lujwangana, Founder of the Travel Brand, Curious on Tanzania stopped her fast-paced New York walk. She listened emotionally, and made the connection. Through their first conversation, Koku Gonza learned that her name identified her as a daughter of Bukoba, Tanzania, a name given to her by her late father. Justa, a travel curator with a passion for helping people experience Tanzania in the most authentic way, invited Koku Gonza to plan a trip that would reconnect her to her family, history and more. As someone who was able to connect to my family in Sierra Leone at a young age, I knew how important this trip would be to Koku Gonza. Weeks later, the trip planning began.

What is Passport to Zuri?
Our joint network of friends and colleagues range from Art Creatives to Corporate Professionals, Politicians and Students. Although their passions vary, one thing that seems to be a common thread among many is the interest to travel, vacation, and do business in Africa. Through conversations, people have expressed reservations about Africa based on media and horror stories from others. Without a direct connection, traveling to Africa typically remains as a dream. Our joint passion for wanting to showcase Africa, build connections in Africa, and highlight all of its beauty while traveling defines Passport to Zuri.

Zuri comes from the word Uzuri, which means Beauty in Swahili. We chose Swahili because it is one of the few African languages spoken in over 10 African Countries, including the US and taught in learning institutions throughout the world.

The Itinerary
On the evening of October 28th, 2017, we flew out of JFK International Airport via Egypt Airways. The first stop: Cairo, Egypt. Our 9-hour layover allowed us to arrive at 11:00 am, join a tour bus that took us to Giza to see the Pyramids, shop essential oils and papyrus paintings, and rejuvenate in a complimentary hotel room before flying to our next destination.

The Great Pyramids
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What’s Next for Passport to Zuri?
Our trip thus far has been filled authentic food, surprise meetings and connections, and a few dramatic moments. From the beauty of the people and places where we have been hosted, to the pulse of morning rush hours and ocean-side nightlife, Africa’s beauty has captivated us. Follow our travels here and through Instagram.

 

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#passport2zuri #p2z #africangypsies #bk2africa

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HASHTAG CURLFEST

#Curlfest.

Sounds pretty strange, right? However, to a large group of people, in particular, women from various countries around the world, it makes perfect sense and sounds pretty amazing.  And it was. Amazing.

It was awesome meeting bloggers and influencers in person that you see online, but meeting beauties from around the world like Bruna Vieira, a Curly Beauty and Business Woman who traveled from Brazil to attend shocked me.  How serious is the bond of curly women?  Super serious!   I briefly chatted with my Instagram Bae, emerging Supermodel Khoudia Diop, a Senegalese Beauty with the brightest smile and personality and realized that I love #Curlfest!  Then we saw OwnbyFemme! Curl Vibes!


My guess is that every curly person who attended #Curlfest has a “Curly Struggle” story.

Mine is as follows:

I went through a life-changing breakup and made the mistake of ending a 3-year streak of natural hair care.  The break-up was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made, but that relaxer and big chop… not so much.  Since then, I found my niche of personal style in the natural hair world and I am marching forward with a band of natural sisters, including my besties, one who is a certified Natural Hair Advocate, and Influencer.

Koku Gonza is “The Plug”.

Public Service Announcement: If your hair texture is in the range of 4, go follow her today.  Get your curl life together.  You’re welcome.

kokugonza for mydna curls
Courtesy of Koku Gonza on Instagram

As a 4C curl pattern lady with roots from Sierra Leone, West Africa, I can indulge in a variety of hairstyles, and I prefer extensions.  My style of choice is Big. Hair. Don’t. Care. Crotchet.   However, have you ever walked into a boardroom in Corporate White America Straight Hair America with a hairstyle like mine and received this welcome?

the scary boardroom
The Scary Boardroom Courtesy of The Googles

Better yet, are you guilty of staring at me when I walked into Corporate White America Straight Hair America boardroom to do my job? Because my hair style is bigger and better than yours?

Imagine. After the longest, most awkward silence, and/or annoying questions about my hair, I am required to smile and carry on, instead of going the fuck off, throwing a chair in the air, and walking out and sucking my teeth at The Scary Boardroom.

My. God.

Why is #Curlfest so important?  It is a safe haven for Curly Folks.

#Curlfest is a festival that I needed a decade ago.  Thanks to The Curly Girl Collective and their corporate partners, it’s a part of my new reality and a breath of fresh air.

~I AM GAYIMA~

I am Gayima at #curlfest
Big. Hair. Don’t. Care. Crotchet.   Courtesy of Dior Davis Photography


2017 was #Curlfest’s fourth year and it was held at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York.

Curlfest 2017 at Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY
Curlfest 2017     Photography by Dior Davis

Highlights from my #Curlfest 2017 experience:

  • A lot of beautiful curly-haired people dressed stylishly.  Mostly women. Some children. A few fine as wine Gentlemen. (ijs)
  • Apparel & Accessories Vendors | Food Vendors | Hair & Beauty Vendors (offering deals!)
  • An energetic host and crowd that can dance well to the beat of the music played… and great DJs to keep everyone entertained
  • The selfie culture in full effect (And why not? It was great natural lighting all day.)
  • Saw/Met/Listened to a down-to-earth Icon that I grew up admiring.   He handed me a “She’s Gotta Have It” Fan (Currently nailed to my wall. True. Story. Sis.)

Photo Jul 16, 5 56 59 AM
Film Director Spike Lee at Curlfest 2017 and I AM GAYIMA

If you love to be stopped for photo ops, have an appreciation for curls and the diverse beauty associated with curly folks, and enjoy festive music, #Curlfest is the festival for you. Bring your squad. Be beautiful. Be curly. Be unapologetic.


Koku Gonza. Vicrina En Vogue. I Am Gayima. Afua Boni.

 

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Squad. #CURLFEST Courtesy of Dior Davis Photography

 

Did you attend #Curlfest too?  What did you think?  Leave a question or comment below.

~I AM GAYIMA~

 

 

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Eliki: A Songstress for Your Soul

Eliki, a Chicago native and world-traveling artist is known for her sweet and soulful tone. A Chicago native, Eliki grew up in a home filled with Greek culture and musical inspiration. After attending Columbia College & DePaul University where she studied Jazz and Acting, she moved to New York City to pursue her vision of success, sharing her gift of singing with the world. She has released at least 20 projects, collaborating with artists such as Ski Beatz, Nitty Scott MC, and DJ Amore. Her projects have garnered the attention of producers in New York City and as far as Johannesburg, South Africa. She has toured in Europe, providing lead background vocals for the Lakecia Benjamin European Tour in 2016 and has performed in New York on stages headlining at SOB’s, LPR, and Jazz at Lincoln Center to name a few.

With all of those accolades, one would think that she would be famous… regularly on your T.V. screen, opening for your favorite music performer or something? Right? Amazingly enough, Eliki has become best known for serenading New York City on the Transit Lines. Yep. She has garnered the attention of millions of tourists, residents and aliens passing through New York City over the course of 6 years, performing on the platforms and trains of the subways, serenading them with her soulful sounds.


I met Eliki about a year after she started doing her thing on the train, and couldn’t stop thinking, “She is crazy AF”. As we shared chips and guacamole over dinner with mutual friends, I was in awe. She is such a natural beauty, inside and out, yet she is incredibly humble and wise, constantly praising others and acknowledging their greatness, sharing amazing stories and her quiet wisdom… listening with intensity to every word that she hears. She might be crazy AF, but she’s so dope. I am constantly learning something from Eliki every time we hang out, but at times before it is truly visible. Her spirit overflows with love and gratitude, despite the daily struggles of living in New York City as a Creative.


She struck a chord with me, so I invited her to share her energy with you.


Gayima: Let’s get into it!  What kind of drugs do you like?

Eliki: Ha! Green. All day.

Gayima: Dog or Cat?

Eliki: I love Dogs. My Dog’s name is Vega. She’s a spaniel and you can find her in my videos.

Gayima: Shoe brand of choice?

Eliki: I’ve been wearing Chucks lately, but I will always love Converse & Adidas.

Gayima: The last city you couch surfed in and why?

Eliki: Oh. Detroit with my homegril Erica Peeples. We met at Columbia and I always end up on someone’s couch when we drive back Midwest. She and I have had some fun times. We attract fun moments. Shout out to E who will be starring in the feature film True to the Game.

Gayima: The wildest thing you’ve ever done to make money?

Eliki: Playing on the Trains of New York. I get this rush every time, but I love it!

Gayima: Now the fun stuff.  What’s your take on marriage?

Eliki: It’s possible. (Long stare…deep sigh).

Gayima: Do you think music and marriage go together?

Eliki: Yes, but you need a partner and friend who can be a fierce lover. Not as easy as it seems but possible.

Gayima: Polygamous or Monogamy?

Eliki: Ask me in a year… Yeah lol

Gayima: What is the most interesting way that you have met someone that inspired your music?

Eliki: I was walking home from a long shift at Birdland it was August 2008. I was their youngest manager. It was Monday because I came from Cast Party that night. The owner Gianni let me sing. When I finished I was high off life. We closed. I made my way out but something told me to walk it so  I bought myself a daisy and walked to Union Square from 45th. I bought a loose, a nasty habit NYC gifted me with. I took off my shoes to rub my feet on a what seemed to be an empty set of stairs in front of Whole Foods on 14th. I was so damned tired before heading back on the train to Bensundhurst. But I lit the cigarette and looked up at the sky. I wanted to zone out. Feel free. I started thinking about my life and it’s direction, I was unwinding. All of the sudden I heard “What are you doing?” I said thinking. Then we locked eyes, this handsome mohawk stylin’ NYC skateboarder said stop thinking so much and come with me we’ll watch the sunrise at Coney Island! I don’t know how to explain it but I saw his soul and it was like we picked up where we left off another life perhaps. So I said sure, and so we did. The ride I hated became filled with chemistry and movie word exchanges. It was synchronicity at it’s finest. When we got to the water it was as if that beach had been waiting for us since it was made. We kissed on the rocks there. Sandpipers were chasing waves. It was surreal.  The Wonder Wheel was right behind us. It didn’t seem real. Never have I ever or will I ever be so taken as I was by him and that beautiful night.  When I write about love he’s always so obviously there. He was beautiful.  He was my muse for a few years and will always be an inspiration in one way or another as he died tragically in 2015. But I’m grateful because he taught me love and now he lives in my songs! RIP Travis Daniel Beckwith thanks for your undying inspiration.

(This gave me chills.  This struck a chord.  Ya’ll should hear one of her new songs inspired by him… sigh).

Gayima: Since music is your life, what do you do to have fun | unwind?

Eliki: I like to go chill out at Soul In the Horn. DProsper and Natasha Diggs create a magical place. It’s still music, but I usually just chill and dance and enjoy the energy of the people there. It’s dope.

Gayima: Have you travelled to a city for your craft that you would pick up and move to in a heartbeat?

Eliki: Yes! Brussles. It’s amazing! It’s a city filled with people like us. Creatives. And their art is embraced and respected. The city is beautiful and historic, and rich in history and personality. It’s charming. I love it. I was so sad when they bombed that airport. That place is so beautiful.

Gayima: What city was the most disappointing and why?

Eliki: Paris. Everyone outside of music venues were not cool. They weren’t “Smurfy” (lol). They were extremely rude and snobbish if you didn’t speak French. I had heard that they were like this, but I didn’t want to believe it. However, I experienced myself and was extremely disappointed.

Gayima: Where do you foresee your music endeavors within the next 6 months?

Eliki: Releasing new music and traveling to perform.

Gayima: What do you think defines an Indie Artist?

Eliki: A muthafuckin’ hustla that can earn money from their talent.

Gayima: Do you believe that you have maximized the potential to earn income from your art?

Eliki: No.  I’m scratching the surface. It’s a hustle. I lived off my art for 6 years but recently took on a part time to help push my music.

Gayima: What advice would you share with other Indie Artists?

Eliki: Listen this is a hard business. Take care of your voice. Never give up on yourself. Invest in your music because nobody will do it for you. Work and collab with anyone you see fit. You never know where it can take you. Keep an open mind. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Don’t give it away… as my homie Leah Beabout would say!

Gayima: Thank you for your energy. You have always struck a chord with me.

Eliki: Awwww. You’re so great. I love you man. You’re so dope!


Eliki shares her gift on Instagram and Facebook. Follow her and receive your dose of Eliki Energy every day. If you’re in NYC, keep your eyes up and ears open. You may see her performing around a city subway station near you… if not a stage in your city.

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Trenchcoat Gang

Eliki is also a founding member of the Leather Trench Coat Mafia.

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21

It was as if God grabbed the back of my neck and pushed me to feel every possible emotion that I encountered at peak level, then forced me to look at myself in the mirror and reflect on each emotion. It was so intense and revealing that I almost had a breakdown. Almost. Instead, love held me up. Self-love and the love of family and friends held me up… and I don’t take any of it for granted. Although I ordered “The Seat of the Soul” by Gary Zukav in March of this year, I finally picked it and started reading it as a birthday gift to myself. Thanks to the forewords written by Oprah Winfrey and the Late Maya Angelou, I now know how important this body of work is that I am about to read; how important it to allow my personality to serve my soul, unapologetically. What is refreshing thus far is that this book completely validates some of the huge changes that I have made in my life. It also is showing me how much I don’t know about my potential and myself.


Each day I learned the following:

Day 1: True loves exists and when it is witnessed, it evokes an array of emotions. Did you miss the #foreverduncan story? People love a good love story. People also hate a good love story. It was fascinating to watch it happen and all of the aftermath on the Internet. Do what you love with the right intentions. It may lead to viral exposure. It may not.

Day 2: The Internet is an external power with the ability to alter your life and the lives of people around you, if you allow it. However going viral doesn’t mean going wealthy. Create a plan to build and acquire wealth. The Internet should be a resource in your plan, not the plan.

Day 3: I want to be wealthy and live and work in spaces where my personality serves my soul and I fulfill my purpose(s). This is my definition of happiness and I am in the pursuit of it. It will take time, but I will accomplish it. Learn what your personal philosophy is. Then live by it.

Day 4: My fear of fame is rooted in the fear to fail and be shamed for failing. I know that I will fail at something relative to what I do and who I am, and I know that someone will shame me for it. I will get through my fear of fame though. Identify your fears. Then work at overcoming them.

Day 5: The people who consistently love me despite my failures are the people who get to provide me with feedback and commentary when a failure occurs. They know who they are. Everyone else… the strongest “Nope” is what you will receive from me when you try me. Be mindful of who deserves to live in your inner circle. They should not be ‘yes men’. ‘Yes men’ will lead you to failure.

Day 6: If you need help, do not be afraid to ask for help. Feeling ashamed to ask for help is stupid. If your intention when asking for help is good and genuine, you will be sent the right person(s) that can help you to become successful.

Day 7: As I continue to build this company with my siblings, we move forward knowing that we must work with people who believe in the brand and our evolving vision for it. Involving people who solely believe in your ability to put money in their pockets is detrimental.   As tempting as it can be, say “Nope” to collaborators and investors that are sharks, regardless of what they offer.

Day 8: You need love to feed your soul, so that when hate appears, your love armor will stop the hate from taking over. Allow love to manifest in your life. Understand that real love is about giving love abundantly, not just receiving it.

Day 9: Never stop appreciating your friends and family. Ever. Make time for them and give them your undivided attention while you communicate with them. Also, your friends can be your family and your family can be your friends.

Day 10: As a leader in business, you must have a team of subject matter experts that are fulfilling their purpose when they are doing work for you. {Refer to Day 3} Otherwise things will fall apart and you will be left to clean up their mess.

Day 11: Value the goods and services you offer the way that you value yourself. Don’t compromise yourself. Don’t compromise your offerings.

Day 12: Practice good habits that will strengthen your spirit, personality and body… in that order. Begin with listening to positive affirmations when you start your day. Do not underestimate how powerful words can be, especially when you don’t hear them.

Day 13: If you need more time to meet someone’s expectation, communicate that as quickly as you can. You create more disappointment than you probably anticipated if you wait to communicate, or do not communicate at all.

Day 14: Make yourself physically available when it is necessary. When it is not, spend time with yourself. You deserve “you” time, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone.

Day 15: #Blackgirlmagic is more than a hashtag; it is a powerful way of thinking that can curate movements, events, and overall success of people… when it is used for good. I have the pleasure of being apart of collectives like The SABA Collective, MindHERBusiness, and Barter Babes curated by beautiful, wonderful women that I am in partnership with. I overflow with #blackgirlmagic and commit to only use it for good. Respect #blackgirlmagic.

Day 16: As an entrepreneur, your spirit is constantly being tested by distractions that could lead to failure. Be mindful that multiple opportunities to earn income may not be a distraction if the opportunities align with your purpose. {Revisit my Day 3 folks…}

Day 17: If you can communicate with someone with a method that allows you to see them while you speak with them, do so. Google Hangout and FaceTime are an enhancement to my life. It makes it a little easier on me, because I miss being in the physical presence of so many people in my life. I love a lot of folks.

Day 18: Along the same vein of Day 17, do not depend solely on Facebook to let you know when someone who you care about has a birthday coming up. Sit down at some point of the year and add important birthdays to your personal calendar. Then contact them on their birthday. You never know… it could be the last time that you both communicate.

Day 19: Visit a hospital and watch someone lay still, connected to life support machines with little hope of recovery. As you stare in awe at the concert of machines and tubes working to keep this person alive, you will wonder if they applied Day 3 to their life. Also, if you love that person that is on life support, you will probably cry the most tears you have ever cried in your life and think about your own mortality. Next level: take all of this anguish and call a parent to express your sadness only to find out that they are also in the hospital. When I say you will fall into a kick-in-the-gut crying spell! Unless you are a robot. It is okay to ugly cry and be afraid. You are entitled to be in the moment and express your emotions, even the sad ones. Besides, you already know not to take people in your life for granted… especially your parents…right?

Day 20: The spirit is immortal. Allow your spirit to dictate how you live. It will keep you close to God and far from foolery. Don’t forget that you will die though, so consider living a life that involves Day 3. Feeling like a broken record right about now… but oh well. It is what it is.

Day 21: Adulting is HARD AF. There is quite a bit to navigate through and figure out. Sometimes you’re going to fail. Other times, you are going to achieve. Sometimes people who you love stop loving you. Sometimes you will stop loving someone. Life can suck. When you fail, be real with yourself about the failure, but get back up. That way, when you achieve, you celebrate without hesitation, because you know that you worked for it and it is well deserved.


My October smacked me in the face with 21 lessons in the most amazing way. All of the emotions you can think of were felt, but on the 21st day, I felt nothing but love. I traveled; I was treated extremely well by strangers as well as by my loved ones. I even was loved on by some new loves. Yep, it is what it is! I meditated. I put on make-up and dressed in a fancy vintage dress. I drank, and danced. I was filmed and pictured. I read some of the best text messages. I was hugged and kissed, and was hugged and kissed again. I woke up to love notes from sisters in my life and I finally cried a joyous cry again. I watched videos sent to me and read every message left on my Facebook wall. I was showered with love in various ways and I am so thankful. As I sit, overflowing with love, my intention is to pass this love on to whoever is ready to receive it. Cheers to the pursuit of happiness and the infusion of love while doing it.

Live. Love. Laugh.  ~Miss GK~

Featured Image: Courtesy of Dior Davis Photography

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I’m Judging You: A Fashionable Side-Eye that Provides a Dose of Good for the Soul

Would it kill labels and retailers to make clothes for women of all shapes and sizes? The afterthought of “curvy” collections at most retailers is insulting; the lines lack inspiration and fit.

~Luvvie Ajayi, Author | Side-Eye Curator~

Luvvie Ajayi is the author of I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual that I am celebrating! She describes herself as a Nigerian-born, American-raised Black woman and she has a lot to say about what is going on in today’s world.  As a United States-born, Sierra Leonean-raised Black woman, the moment I read her blog, I instantly got pulled into her quick wit and wordplay on real issues and real foolishness on the internet.  Luvvie needs a standing ovation for her courage to deliver her opinion in a comedic, turn-paging, side eyeing, much needed rant about the daily shenanigans of the world we live in.

Luvvie discusses a lot of issues in her book that many call ‘real talk’. The sickness that plagues “’Murica” called racism; The amazement of watching a friend work through dating a horrible man that offers amazing penile pleasure; Self-awareness about being late and the importance of your shoe game. Important issues. In between all of these issues, she took a moment to address the fashion industry and it’s inability to do the right thing by consistent inclusion of all body types when releasing new collections at the most important presentations like New York Fashion Week. Like ra-aaaaaaa-in,  I was reading this chapter while sitting on the train heading to New York Fashion Week.  In between events and shoots, I’m still reading too. Judge me.

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In between looks at a shoot, I read, and my photographer caught me! #shrugs


 Couture

Definition: The design and manufacture of fashionable clothes to a client’s specific requirements and measurements. Fashionable made-to-measure clothes.


See what Google said?  By definition, couture is fashionable clothing created based on the client’s measurements, and words mean things. Yet, unless you dig deeply, fashion is limited to a particular size and body type. Our brand has not yet joined the ranks of those that present regularly at NYFW, but when we do, our presentation will include designs that will be modeled by women and men with various body types and they will look fashionable and amazing in each design. The fact is: fashion belongs to everyone, not just those who fit a certain size and body structure. Everyone deserves to look good and feel good in what they wear. Everyone.

Style does not have to go on vacation just because designers need to use more material and a modicum of tailoring skill. Sheesh.

~Luvvie Ajayi, Author | Side-Eye Curator~

Shout out to Luvvie for addressing this in her first book, and shout out to the universe for ensuring that her book’s launch date aligned with New York Fashion Week. I hope more designers read this book. We all need to do better, especially when it comes to fashion and the perception of body image.  Imagine what the fashion world would look like if inclusion was a priority to the decision makers and trendsetters in the fashion industry.

Start doing better by ordering your copy of her book.  Also, if you need something couture to wear that looks fly, check us out. We know what the definition of Couture means and we are expanding our offerings because of it.

Order your copy today!  Don’t make me judge you.

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~Miss GK~

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What If Sierra Leoneans Were United?

While Sierra Leoneans are arguably the most resilient people in Africa, if not the world, I would also argue that we might be the most traumatized.  So much happened mentally to Sierra Leoneans both in Sierra Leone and abroad.  If you know a Sierra Leonean, then you may have heard the most devastating stories that a human being could tell you.  However, there are a lot of great stories that came from that time as well. Have you ever entered into the home of someone who just found out that that immigration approved their applications that will allow a mother to bring her child to live with her?  She had to leave her child with a grandparent… for eight years and the paperwork has been filed for the past 3 years.  All of the tears of joy occur in her kitchen, along with a fresh pot of Cassava Leaves and ice cold Vimto to celebrate!

Regardless of the scenario, there is still trauma that lasts beyond the high and low moments. Deaths occurred and family members abroad were not always able to attend and experience closure. Kids raised by grandparents arrived and began living in a stranger’s house… even though it’s their parent’s house.  Ask this same kid how easy it was to adjust to school in the new country with a thick accent and the “look” of an African that just landed five minutes ago. More often than not, these traumatic events are not counseled by professionals (if at all) and traumatized children become traumatized adults.

Mental health and self-care is something that is rarely discussed among West Africans, especially Sierra Leoneans.  We need to change that.  Every positive event helps to reverse the damage.

FUN EVENTS THAT PROMOTE TOGETHERNESS = BETTER MENTAL HEALTH 

Recently, I attended/vended at a soccer tournament in Virginia, USA, between Sierra Leoneans from over eight different states that promoted camaraderie and togetherness. It was pretty nice to witness first-hand.  My hope is that as this event continues to grow each year, I can play apart in helping the organizers make the event successful and productive in the coming years.

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Let’s really talk to each other, network, and build connections that will promote progress among those in the community as well as celebrate the Sierra Leonean community for years to come.

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We owe it to ourselves to become more unified as a people.


We can celebrate and support the accomplishments and endeavors of Sierra Leoneans like Shady Baby (pictured left) for sharing his musical gifts with the world and positively representing Sierra Leone.

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 #Blackgirlmagic is happening amongst us.

Culture Curator | Entreprenuer.

 Fashion Designer | Branding Consultant.

 Assistant Manager |Social Media Strategist.

Three daughters of Sierra Leone supporting each other.

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Musicians. Culture Curators. Fashion Creatives.  Media Mavens and More.  Sierra Leoneans are thriving in various spaces while walking down the same street as you.  Let’s connect and support Sierra Leoneans globally.


Ar lek mi people dem bad.  Sum wae dae read dis go sae, “Hmmm… Salone nor betteh.  Den nor go change.  Wi nor lek wisef tiday.  Wi nor geht foh lek wisef tumara.”

Una wae dae memba so, ar nor blame yu.  Ow long wi go dae sidom dae hate wisef? Ar dae beg una, nor dae pa di side wae dae cause division. Ar dae invite una foh join mi pa di side wae unity dae!

~xo Miss GK~

 


ORDER YOUR #SALONEDREAM SHIRT TODAY.  SHOW YOUR #SALONEPRIDE.

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Batter & Berries of Chicago, IL: A Slice of Heaven

If you have not experienced Chicago between June and September, figure out how to do so immediately.  Google can help with this.  Summer in Chicago is the best, especially brunch.

When you arrive in Chicago, your first full morning should include Batter & Berries.  I was told about this place several months before experiencing it for myself, and the story shared did the place no justice, so I will try to do better here.

I require that you order the famous French Toast Super Flight if you are ordering breakfast or brunch. Each slice fell from heaven.  Strawberry. Blueberry. Pecan. Banana.  I believe that the recipe was created to remind us mere mortals that if we behave, we could eat like this every day in heaven and it will not reflect at the waistline.  It is so darn good!  Do you see it?  Take note of the special toppings.  You will not need to add syrup or honey.  It is already perfect.

After eating my flight of french toast while sitting comfortably on a cloud as an angel (in my mind), the entrée arrived and I began to hum to myself with delight.  I enjoy fish, so when I saw that their special menu add-ons included a salmon option, I quickly selected it with eggs made my favorite way, over medium.  A side of cheesy potatoes accompanied it and I smiled while eating, even while chewing.  Look at this!  You can see how fresh and well seasoned my salmon is.  The cream that was garnished on top will make you forget about all of your worldly woes.  Again, heaven.

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The staff is incredibly friendly and will patiently describe each item and tell you details about why you will love the option, because THEY LOVE IT TOO!  It’s a busy space because it is a town favorite, so you’re probably thinking that you have to wait awhile for the check to come, right?  Wrong!  I told you that this place is a slice of heaven!  20160718_135421

Batter & Berries embraces technology, allowing you to close the check out without delay. You don’t have to get up and they don’t have to go far to get you squared away.  I had a flight to catch afterwards, so appreciated this immensely.  The only question I had was, why aren’t ALL of the other restaurants in the world doing this?  WHY?

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Anyway, I had to meet and compliment Don, the General Manager.  He is an excellent representative of the founders of this fine establishment, and is dedicated to ensuring that your “foodie” experience at Batter & Berries is an amazing one.

Thank you Don! See you soon Batter & Berries!

Location: 2748 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (Directly below the pearly gates of Heaven)


~Miss GK~

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My Tribe is Creative AF: Meet Olympian Hafsatu Kamara

The Summer Olympics are happening and I am excited!  As a kid, I remember the excitement of watching the opening ceremony and looking for two teams, USA and Sierra Leone.  Why both?  Well, both are important to me.  I am an American, born in the USA, but my parents immigrated to the USA from Sierra Leone.  I am also a Sierra Leonean. Right?  In my opinion, I am both.  I celebrate both and I love identifying with both.

For me, it’s simple, but there is an ongoing discussion about identity as a First-Gen kid. Like many, my parents like to make it very clear that I am American with African parents, while my American friends love to emphasize how African I am because I have African parents and I look really African, even if I was born in the same hospital as them .  What should we claim?  Why does it matter so much?  Well, it matters.  Indulge me and read on…


Meet 2016 Olympian Hafsatu Kamara

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Hafsatu Kamara, 2016 Olympic Contender for Team Sierra Leone, West Africa.  Hafsatu Kamara, a first-generation daughter born in the USA with parents from Sierra Leone, Hafsatu will compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio for Team Sierra Leone.

As a First-Gen kid, Hafsatu’s passion for Sierra Leone is one that many of us First-Gen kids identify with and appreciate.  To many, Sierra Leone is known to many as the little West African country that endured a long civil war in the 90s as a result of government corruption around a precious stone called the Diamond. The aftermath of the war was damaging to the economy yet, progress was beginning to happen.  Then in 2014, Ebola showed up, and things took a turn for the worst.  In conversations with peers, we tend to agree that it is tough to be Sierra Leonean.  Our story is riddled with turmoil.  However, despite all of this, Hafsatu decided to represent the country of her parents. As a role model who has recently garnered the attention of many, I asked her to share some of her thoughts about her journey to Rio and the importance of representing Sierra Leone at the Olympic games as she competes for the Gold Medal in Track and Field 100m dash competition.


Miss GK:  How long have you been a runner/sprinter?  What event(s) can we expect to see you participate in this summer?
HK: I’ve been running track competitively for about six years now. It’s a short period of time in track years. I will be running the 100m dash at the Olympics.
Miss GK: How active were your parents in supporting your passion as a track and field athlete?  Are you able to relate to the “African Parents” memes or was your experience different growing up?
HK: African parents are African parents; unique and one of a kind. My parents are supportive of my dreams with the notion that I will be a doctor after my track career is over, of course. I relate COMPLETELY to the “African Parents” memes! I can always count on my mother’s sarcastic response when I asked to eat something else other than rice or my father’s lack of seeing any other occupation worthy of his acknowledgment other than doctor, lawyer, or prime minister of the world. It’s because of their goals for me that my expectations for myself as an individual are high. I appreciate their teachings and my upbringing now even more than ever.
Miss GK:  What was it like to lose your first event (if that has happened) and what motivated you to continue to pursue your passion?
HK: It hurt. But in any sport, especially track and field, a lose doesn’t necessarily mean a bad performance. You could hit your personal best time in a race and end up last. Motivation cannot solely rely on win or lose; rather if the goal set for yourself that day or that meet has been achieved.  My motivation is improvement. My goal each day is to execute just a little better than yesterday; push harder, lift heavier, and run faster than my previous self.
Miss GK: Tell me how it felt when you learned that you qualified to compete in the 2016 Olympics.

HK: It really didn’t hit until I was on the plane from Houston to Rio. I was appreciative of all the well wishes and positive feedback but I couldn’t understand the magnitude until I was on a flight full of theory Olympians. We were all heading towards one goal, traveling the same road and it was then that I realized, I was on that road with them. That’s when Hafsa realized, “Oh crap, I’m an Olympian!”.

Miss GK:  What made you decide to compete for Sierra Leone versus competing for USA?  Have you dealt with any negative feedback?

HK: I decided to compete for Sierra Leone because I am Sierra Leonean. By that I mean, though I was born in the US, I was raised as a Sierra Leonean citizen. Krio was the main language spoken in our house, cassava leaf was the daily dish, and Emerson was that dude whose music everyone in the house knew word for word. So there was no decision to make, rather an obligation to fulfill.  I have received so much positive feedback from the Sierra Leone community, my US family and friends, and supporters all around the world. Everyone has been so encouraging, it catches me by surprise every time someone wishes me well.

Miss GK:  How can people support your journey at the Olympics?
HK: By tuning into my social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which all have the same tag of @HafsaKamara. I want everyone to engage in this journey with me.
Miss GK: What is one thing that you wish more people knew about you?

HK: That I am just Hafsa. Nothing about my personality or who I am has changed. No matter what I do or achieve in life, I will always be just Hafsa.

Miss GK: Freestyle!! (Anything that you want to share that was not asked?)
HK: I have EIGHT siblings! We all live in different parts of the US but we proudly represent Sierra Leone and the Kamara Clan as we call ourselves.
Miss GK: What type of impact do you want to make in Sierra Leone?
I want to continue encouraging others to more out of life. I want young Sierra Leone athletes to feel pride in represent their roots. I want our parents to be proud of the directions Sierra Leone is headed. I want our Mama Salone to feel peace and hope after all our troubles.

Check back here for the follow-up interview when Hafsa returns from Rio! Go Hafsa!


As Hafsatu competes for the Gold Medal, let’s support her and Team Sierra Leone as they compete at 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.  Created by a team of First-Gen Sierra Leoneans, you can purchase the official 2016 Olympic Games Team Salone commemorative shirt.  A portion of sales will help fund Hafsatu’s future endeavors to develop Athletic Camps for young athletes in Sierra Leone with a #SALONEDREAM. 

Follow Hafsa as she competes for the GOLD for Sierra Leone on all social media platforms @HafsaKamara.

USE OFFER CODE: HAFSA


~Miss GK~

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My Tribe is Creative AF: Koku Gonza

 

As an Indie Artist, it takes a lot of planning and execution to release a body of work, no matter how big or how small the project may appear to be.  Despite the challenges, Koku Gonza forges ahead as an International Songstress & Natural Hair Spokesperson.  Her artistry has taken her around the USA as well as Europe and she looks forward to her upcoming visit to the continent of Africa, especially to Tanzania, where her late father is from.  

As I sit with Koku Gonza, I can’t help but feel thrilled.  Once of my best friends is releasing her new song and video tonight and it is DOPE!  It was the first video styling project for Amyang Fashun, and everyone in it looks DOPE.  It’s been a crazy summer filled with events, gigs, and travel, so we took a moment to catch our breaths and do some last minute updates at one of the coolest spaces in the world, the new Samsung building.  Samsung has managed to curate Cool in such a way that you question Apple.  Seriously, you question it.   The building is located in the Meatpacking District in NYC and it’s LIT! The employees are welcoming, the layout is magical, filled with cool gadgets and comfy furniture.  We just listened to DJ David Kiss spinning Fela and other Afrobeat tracks while eating Vegan Donuts and Coffee.  If you have not visited yet, change your life.  Even if you are #teamapple.  And yes… I own several Samsung devices.  Because I like DOPENESS at my fingertips.

Anyhoo, Koku Gonza’s latest project is a Soul |House| Dance Track called Conveniently Rolling.  The track was produced by Anthony Nicholson and the video is a Camovement Production.  It’s fun and a must for your playlist, and I am not just saying that because I was apart of it.  Here is a little of Koku Gonza’s take on it…

Miss GK: What was the most entertaining moment while working on this project?

KG: When the scheduled make-up artist didn’t show up to the shoot, yet I saw her Instagram posts happening at the same time where she chose to spend quality time with her man and Jesus. (laughs with shade) My squad is amazing though.  We were blessed enough to know Landis from Landis Cosmetics.  He showed up within an hour and beat our faces to the GAWDS!  Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaass Landis Yaaaaaaaaaas!

Miss GK: You’re ridiculous!  Now… on a serious note…

KG: I am being serious.  Did I not show you the posts on Instagram that morning, or did YOU throw shade about it on Facebook when you thanked Landis Cosmetics?  It was the most entertaining moment.

Miss GK:  You’re still ridiculous, but you are also correct.  Now with everything going on, especially with police brutality, what message do you hope to convey with your latest single, Conveniently Rolling?

KG: I want people to dance.  (Sings) Conveniently Roll In AND Dance Ya’ll!  If you love house music, you’ll love this track.  If you love to dance, you’ll love this track.  If you have a workout playlist, this song needs to be added.  Self-care=Dance.

Miss GK: How important do you think it is for people to support indie artists like yourself?

KG: It’s as important as waking up and breathing fresh air.  You need fresh air to breath and live.  You need great art to inspire and motivate you.  Supporting Indie Artists like me allows the world to function without the void of soulful music.

And then Samsung interrupted with an announcement that free vegan donuts and coffee w/almond milk was being served. And we moved on.

Make sure you check out her new project.  Dancing is mandatory.

Click Here to Watch the Video

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Photography by Demetrius Philip | Wardrobe & Styling: Amyang Fashun

~xo Miss GK~

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Sandra Bland Could Have Been Me

Today is Two Years Later


1.9 Million Dollars.  This proves that her death was wrong, yet she is still gone.  The world wants answers, but we may never know the details of the actions that led to her last moments.

Her life was fatally interrupted by police mistreatment.

Sandra Bland could have been me.

Why?  Sandra took selfies.  Who doesn’t take selfies? Sandra was college educated and fiercely proud to be a young black woman… as am I.  Sandra had a beautiful smile and glowing brown skin… as do I.  Sandra didn’t mind making long driving trips alone.  I love long driving trips alone!  Although she preferred a cigarette, I have an affinity for cigars.  The similarities are there, and could continue to grow.  Sandra was outspoken and unafraid to express herself intelligently.  Like many of you, I find myself wondering WTF is really going on?

Sandra Bland could have been me… or you.  Remember Sandra Bland.



Gayima

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The Head Wrap: It’s Here to SLAY

Whoa!  Is She Wearing a Head Wrap? 

Celebrities tend to make people stop and look, so I say kudos to Alicia Keys for embracing the Head Wrap.  The Head Wrap, with Sub-Sahara African origins is back on everyone’s radar, a fashion phenomenon in today’s society, especially here in the United States and has a hold of global fashion.  Recently, Grammy Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter Alicia Keys has served us with head wrap flair and a beautiful bare face on the red carpet as she promotes her new project and talks about her new life perspectives.  This new perspective paired with the Head Wrap is quite refreshing. There is a lot of history behind the use of the head wrap in America, which I encourage you to take a moment to read about. Given the history, it’s amazing how the Head Wrap is being embraced in every day style among women in 2016 and I want to take a moment to enjoy this moment curated by #blackgirlmagic.

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Alicia Keys giving us head wrap SLAY.

My Personal History with the Head Wrap

These days, as a fashion designer and stylist, I rely on my daily experiences and environment when creating for our collections or working on a styling project.  In real life, my staple items are a bold head wrap and big sunglasses … which is much different from my childhood use of a head wrap -the fresh cornrows protector.  Nowadays, my motivation for rocking the head wrap comes from my inner need to celebrate my culture, everyday.  I am extremely proud to be Sierra Leonean.  A few years ago, I was in Ohio and can remember heading to meet friends at happy hour with a head wrap on.  My Mom casually shaded my life into oblivion.

Growing up, the only women in the street that wear head wraps are at the marketplace.  Are you going to sell tomatoes?- My Mom, Shade Specialist

I just looked at her.  She giggled to herself and went back to watching television.  Luckily, her shade over the years (all of my years on this earth) has helped me to ignore naysayers and just do me.  The irony is that the only reason that I can wrap a head wrap to the high heavens in minutes is because of her.  Before every traditional occasion, it was my job to help her wrap her head.  My Mom used to annoy me with it, but look at me now! (DAB)

The Queen’s Wrap

The Queen’s Wrap is the premier head wrap for your fashion palette.  I created it because I wanted to create a head wrap option that is beautiful with bold colors but versatile in patterns.  I don’t like having to spend extra time hiding the underside of the fabric.  Why is it premier? It’s two head wraps in one.  It’s reversible!

This is me when I don't feel like 
brushing my hair, or if I'm feeling Regal AF.  Facts.

I gave myself a pat on the back after I made the first few, but what made me realize that this was a great product is how this has impacted members of our client base.  The clients LOVE this wrap.  I mean, the way that they love it has makes me emotional.  One of our missions with the brand is to bridge the cultural gap between African Women and African-American Women.  It needs to happen, and I am not going to wait on everyone to be properly influenced by our First Lady Michelle Obama or Queen Mother Oprah Winfrey or President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  I follow them, I listen to them and I allow myself to be positively influenced by them.  The Queen’s Wrap is one way in which I am doing my part.  I want my African-American clients to posses the same level of skill and confidence in tying their head wraps as my African sistahcousins.  I want when they walk out of an establishment for doors to be held open for them, just as I experience when I am wearing my wraps.  I want them to radiate from their inner beauty shining through.  I want them to feel beautiful and stylish, especially when they rock The Queen’s Wrap.

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“I invite all boldness, fearless acts and I throw away all mental limitations because I wear the crown to be free and to Queen shamelessly.”- Sherrell W., Owner|Personal Trainer, Thegoodthick.com

PSA: Hi!  If you’re not an African or
African-American Women, don’t leave. I am sure you have at least two friends or family members that are African or African-American. The Queen’s Wrapas a gift is a winner, every time!  Knowing their favorite color(s) helps when ordering.  We also make them for little girls upon special request.

But… how SWAY?  How do I wrap?

Surprisingly, while a lot of women love them, they are intimidated to purchase head wraps.  I’ve been told that the act of wrapping is scary.  While I understand that position, I ask you to consider this.  Consider that the act of wrapping is a personal experience.  There are some great tutorials out there.  If you are a student of head wrap fashion, I say watch a few tutorials, but know that once you find a look that is yours, you are going to own it and love it.  Conquer your fear of the wrap with the following steps:

  1. Purchase a wrap.
  2. Grab a glass of wine and take one big gulp.
  3. Sit in front of the mirror and just play with the wrap.
  4. Allow your inner Queen to take over.

In this journey, I believe that you will find a look that properly frames your face, not just what looks good in a tutorial.   Embrace your inner Queen with a head wrap.  For weekly head wrap inspiration, hashtag #wrapwednesdays on Instagram!  You’ll find a beautiful array of women giving the world head wrap SLAY.


 The Queen’s Wrap featured in the Bohyme Birth Remi 2016 ad campaign.


Share if you love head wraps or if you love seeing the ladies in your life in head wraps!  The Queen’s Wrap by Amyang Fashun.  Order yours today and get your life!

 

~xo Miss GK~

 

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My Summer Sixteen Jewel: Meet Chelsea

Summer Sixteen is here and so is the heat. As I maneuver through these streets, my S.L.A.Y. game requires a hat. I looked at my collection of Fedoras and walked away unsatisfied. To the thrift store I went. But… I was disappointed because I couldn’t find what my spirit wanted. I needed something… that compliments my style and personality. I needed something that would catch my eye and make me squeal. I needed a YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSS! After leaving three thrift stores disappointed, I headed to my Style Guy, Mannie Toraz to pick up items he pulled for a shoot, and it led me to my new baby! My summertime jewel. My classy boo. I named her Chelsea and we go together.

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Five reasons I fell for Chelsea:

  1. Her neutral tones pair well with my bold color palette.
  2. Her wide brim allows me to hide in my thoughts, unbothered by my surroundings.
  3. She sits with ease and comfort over my big hair!
  4. We met at a 50% off sale.
  5. She loves me too. It’s always better when the feelings are mutual, you know?

 

You can find your own Chelsea at The Limited.  Available at a store near you or online.

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Style Guide (From Head to Toe)

Hat: The Limited

Dress: Sheath Denim by Amyang Fashun (Available Upon Request)

Handbag: Wicker Carry Case (Miss GK’s Personal Collection)

Jewelry: Hand Beaded Jewelry  (Miss GK’s Personal Collection from Sierra Leone, West Africa)

Shoes: Pour La Victoire Platform Sandal

 

Photography: Dior Davis Photography

~xo Miss GK~

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An Ode to The African Fada

The African Fada is comedic relief for many people today due to the greatness of the interwebs.  One of my favorite comedians that delivers life with an African Fada is Godfrey.   (Side Note: Fada is Father, with the accent of my father applied.)   When I tell my friends stories now about what I believe are regular conversations with my parents, they laugh to the point of asthma attacks, however I can attest that at one point in time, there was nothing funny about the African Fada.

My Dad is the epitome of The African Fada.  The epitome.  Growing up, I could not stand him.  I felt that he was my personal enemy of progress. Social progress that is.  His goal was to figure out how to keep me from greatness among social circles at school and pursue the greatness of an education.  I could not go anywhere without his personal stamp of approval which meant chauffeuring me when he wants to and picking me up when he is ready… if he agrees to me going.  I had less than 5 friends (because most classmates were thinking…um your life sucks; I’ve heard about your Dad), and he had to know all of their parents and feel good about the parents.  Seriously, he evaluated and shaded everybody without missing a beat.

The Master of Petty

I remember in middle school how my phone usage was monitored with a fine tooth comb.  My Dad was so petty that he refused to get call waiting (you didn’t even know that was once an option did you?) because he wanted to know when I was on the phone after school.  He would call the operator to interrupt the line, just to put the fear of God in me.  Once that interruption happened, I knew that if I didn’t have the most legitimate reason for being on the phone, trouble for me!  Thank God for my Grandma.  I would quickly hang up and dial one of my Grandma’s friends so that when he called back, she was on the phone, not me.  Oh yes, I became gangsta with it.  I’m not getting grounded today!  I will watch The Cosby Show & A Different World tonight!  My Mom finally got pissed about the petty and called and added the call waiting and three-way call feature.  I literally did a baptist praise dance that day, and I was raised Catholic.  Go figure.  The stories of my African Fada Petty Chronicles could go on and on, but I’ll save that for my book.

With all of his petty ways, and tough shade, the one thing that I know now is how amazing his method in fathering me truly is.  My skin is soft at the touch (Shea Buttah Goddess), but I am such a thick-skinned individual, because of my African Fada.  I was raised on brutal honesty.  My nickname was ugly duckling.  Yep.  He would say it, and cackle.  I would just look at him and ask God to be reunited with my real Dad.  Now that I am a Swan, I laugh.  My Dad knew what he was doing.  He did not want me to know that I was pretty.  He only wanted me to focus on being smart and doing whatever I could do to become more smart.

Outside.  There is nothing for you outside today.  Go upstairs and read your books! – The African Fada

Today, I make bookmarks. See?  He shopped for me with the intention of making me look as unattractive to boys and young men as much as possible… and it worked.  I was a tomboy because of my wardrobe, thanks to my African Fada.  Everything was big and baggy.  Luckily, so was Hip Hop in the 90s, so I managed to get by without looking extremely odd.  I also kept all of my mom’s stubs of eyeliner.  Bold eyes and glossy lips allowed me to stay in stealth mode as I walked through the halls of school.  I was not a “cool kid” but I was smart and I had a great smile.  I survived.  Now… I am a fashion curator.  Sigh.  Deep Sigh.

The Culture Clash

The cultural clashes between my Dad and I were Game of Thrones epic, and I spent a lot of years being bitter.  He made a few big mistakes with me. He thought that dictating what he wanted for me in my life without considering what I wanted would work in my adulthood.  It didn’t.  At all.  We spent a several years without communicating… at all.  He alienated me from the family because he hated my boyfriend (he wasn’t African enough or educated enough), he wanted my educational plan executed according to his standard, otherwise I should not speak to him.  It was a lot.  As his first born, I picked up his stubbornness and I went toe to toe with him, which was a HUGE taboo in the community.  Family meetings.  Family lectures from Uncles and Aunties.  A lot of tears.  A lot of yelling matches.  A lot of silence.  I hated my African Fada.

The Night That it All Changed 

Two years ago, while going through the process of moving out of state and prepping my house for my absence, I met with my contractor and found out that I had termites living in the basement wood panels without paying me rent.  I couldn’t believe it.  I just upgraded my carpet.  My roof was just fixed for a pretty penny.  Painting.  I thought I was done.  Now I need to gut out my basement!?  I’m soooooo damn exhausted… and broke.  That evening, I was talking to a friend of mine about my issues with the house and he asked what my Dad was going to do.  I responded, nothing.  He does nothing.  We don’t really talk.  He gasped.

Friend: No way.  You asked your Dad for help and he said no?

Me: Well, no.  I didn’t ask him.  He’s so controlling and I just don’t want to deal with his …

Friend: Wait a minute.  Let me tell you something.  You may have your issues with him, and I don’t know him. But knowing what I know about you, if you ask your Dad for help, he’s not going to tell you no.  I have a friend who allowed her previous issues with her Dad to keep her from communicating with him, and when he died, she nearly died from regret and heartbreak.  Don’t be like her.  Call him.  Ask him.  Let him tell you no.

Me: (Silence).

And so… I went home.  I tried to sleep, and just kept crying because I was so frustrated and afraid that I would not be able to achieve my moving goal due to this new setback with my house.  So, I called my Dad.  My African Fada.  I called him.  It was almost 11pm.  He answered immediately and I just started crying and yelling.  And then…he cried.  And then I apologized.  And then he apologized.  And then we talked to each other, not at each other.  And we put together a plan to handle my basement.  He had me back.

And my life changed.  And so did his.  In the moment, we were both adults and we grew.

We finally let all of the hurt feelings go.  We set aside the pride of wanting to be right.  We let the bitterness from the past go.  We let those salty tears be the last time that we would yell at each other and get upset with each other.  We let it go and we allowed God to enter into our relationship.

My Ode

Since then, my African Fada is my guy.  He’s still ridiculous, but I have grown to appreciate him for who he is and what he is to me.  In Sierra Leone, there isn’t a Father’s Day or a Mother’s Day.  Parents are held to such a high regard everyday, they don’t need a holiday over there.  America can be a tricky place to foreigners, especially when it comes to trying to stay true to your culture and raise your kids with your culture in such a melting pot. Moreover, it’s hard to be a black man in this country.  Imagine being a black man who is foreign to this country and it’s evolving culture, so different and liberal from your own.  Imagine dealing with racism and prejudice attitudes from all kinds of people, including some that resemble you.  Imagine repeating yourself multiple times per day because you have an accent that people can’t seem to understand, even though your knowledge of the English language surpasses their own.  Imagine earning an income that must support your family in the United States, and your family members in your home country, even though you will be the last to be promoted, even if you should be the first to be considered due to your hard work and educational achievements.  Imagine all of that and more as your daily burden as you drive through rush hour listening to NPR because you must know what is happening around the world before you get home to watch CNN.  As you enter the door and look at the new bills that have arrived in the mail, you come home and the daughter is inquisitive, witty, bold, confident, and cleaver and is trying to get you to say yes to her request, because she just wants to be cool.  She also wants money.  Then multiply that daughter times three.

With Love- Miss GK

This is an Ode to the African Fada.  Not just for Father’s Day.  Everyday.  If you have an African Fada, raise your hand with a comment.  I bet you have stories for days…

 

 

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Self Care MUST Include FUN

Hi!

I am stressed many hours of the day, but it disguises itself as motivation to achieve.  Thank God.  Anyhoo, there are moments when I realize that I am actually stressed, and it is usually when I become extremely hard to communicate with.  So much so that I don’t even understand myself.  That’s when I know that the time has come to indulge in pure, unadulterated fun!  If you know me, then you know that I am a self-proclaimed (and can back my shit up) expert in funning!

Now, you don’t have to engage in fun the way I do, but I suggest that you take notes and try some things out that I may mention from time to time.

  1.  Get to know the benefits of Eventbrite.  Eventbrite is a great source to get connected to fun events curated by tastemakers that may be influencing you already and want to provide you with some fun.  Some curators even offer free tickets if you sign up early.  Stay Woke!
  2. Avoid ruining your fun with bad shoes.  Look.  I am a fashionista.  I understand the need to look good out here, but invest in a happy medium.  When you allow style to get in the way of fun, you’re the loser.  Invest in beautiful, stylish, comfortable shoes.  If they must be heels, arrive at the venue early so that you can secure a good seat.  Planning for fun.  It matters.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to people who you don’t know.  I meet really awesome people whenever I go out.  I also meet some assholes.  You know what?  The awesome ones make meeting an asshole here and there bearable.  Be nice.  Smile.  Share a joke.  Dance.  Hey, if you want to make out, make out.  Also, don’t be a judgy bear.  Don’t judge yourself, and don’t judge others.  Manage your own funning.  Okay? Kk.
  4. Dance!  Find your signature move at home in the mirror by yourself.  Get so comfortable that when your song comes on, you can do that signature move with ease and enjoy yourself!  Have fun.  If you know me, you know my life is dedicated to bodyrolling.  In the name of Jesus.  #bodyroll
  5. Be safe.  Having fun doesn’t mean do all of the stupid things.  Maintain your wits about you ok?  Be safe with your intake of all things, including someone else’s body parts.  That is all that I will say about that.

 

Recently, I enjoyed Memorial Day Weekend in the best way.

  1. I celebrated the birthdays of my Sistahcousin Wums in Washington, DC at a rooftop bar called Avery’s.  I say yes to Avery’s. Every time.
  2. I celebrated my sister and business partner, Sallay’s birthday the next day in Manhattan at Hudson Terrace, a rooftop club. I was high on Gemini ALL WEEKEND!
  1. I attended Young Paris’s new album release African Vogue at a rooftop bar called Output in Brooklyn, NY.Photo Credit: sojeffro & IG: ennuinature
  2. MY HOLIDAY WEEKEND WAS LIT.  THE LEVEL OF LITUATION WAS AWARD WINNING.

Did you pick up the common themes here?  Are you beginning to understand the key to my Self-Care this summer?  Rooftops Affairs. Birthdays.  Good African & Caribbean  Music. Basically, if you are celebrating your birthday on a rooftop, chances are, you will have fun and… you should invite me.  I need to maintain my self-care regiment. Bodyrolling.

#bodyroll

~Miss GK~

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10 reasons why EmpowerHER 2016 was Empowering

I woke up for the Inaugural EmpowerHER Conference in NYC after sleeping for two point seven five hours. Yep. I took a nap. A whole entire poolside nap on the eve of a business conference. Instead of sleeping, I decided to finally do the thing that was looming over my head. I decided to finally add content and images to Gayima.com. I needed to show up to that conference feeling accomplished and comfortable with myself.   “My Rules for Me” #3 was at play here. As if the clothing line isn’t enough. However, that is the way that I felt. A saying that I heard often while growing up that still resonates with me kept me motivated that night. “ Don’t just speak about it. Be about it.”   Although I have owned Gayima.com for years, it’s just been sitting there, parked. However, as I grow, I am learning that I have a voice that can capture the attention of the masses in a way that is uncommon. I have a lot to share and I want to create a safe place where people can visit and learn from others and myself. I want to share with the world what it is to be a first-generation African American businesswoman who wants to:

  • Empower people through conversation and education
  • Slay daily and show others how to slay in ways that compliments who they are, inside and out.
  • Have historically difficult conversations about things that people of African decent should be discussing.
  • Share how I love to have fun and practice self care.

That’s about it. So I started it. I published it. I have way more plans for it, but hey. It’s out there. Watch me grow.


After making my eye bags disappear, I grabbed water and jumped in the whip (aka The Uber) and went to EmpowerHER 2016. Now, the day was long and amazing with so many details that I could give you a two hour recap and still have more to say, however, I’ll give you 10 reasons why EmpowerHER 2016 was empowering:

  1. The Perfect Entry Greeter: As my uber driver pulled off, I saw a tall, dark-brown skin, well-dressed African-American man standing with broad, confident shoulders in an opening who welcomed me to the event with a 1000-watt smile. Welp. Good Morning to you sir! Okay Blavity! This is nice AF already… (and I KNOW that his FINE black life matters too). Also, I am certain that this is how I will be greeted when I arrive to heaven. Shouldn’t EVERY conference I attend from here on have a man such as that gentleman at the doorway to greet me? Should it not? Take notes from Blavity’s planning team. Amen.

  2. A Perfect First-Impression: I walked up and was greeted with smiles from beautiful black women. One of the first to greet me happened to be Blavity’s founder, Morgan DeBaun (and I didn’t even know it). All of the women were just so radiant and beautiful and professional and melanin rich. Once my name badge and complimentary bag of goods was in hand, I immediately walked over to the breakfast table. They had fruits, cute mini bagels and cream cheese, cheese Danish and more greatness. The orange juice was refreshing and after elegantly scarfing it all down, I was ready to socialize and get focused.

  3. An Awesome Host: Our host for the day was this beautiful, radiant, upbeat lady named Danielle Leslie. She was all smiles and kept the crowd engaged and excited to listen to each presentation. She even contributed to the dialogue by using herself as example of how she can testify personally to successfully being about your business. She was also stylin’ in her fierce leather jacket. Great selection Blavity!

  4. The Keynote Speaker Dropped Gems and Usies: I met THE Awesomely Luvvie a few years ago when she was handling her business in Washington, DC. I follow her online and fell in love with the online community that she has created. She is just as smart as she is funny, passionate about the Popes (#SCANDAL), a voice to be reckoned with when discussing social issues, and above all, she’s African. I knew that she was going to come thru with Gems of knowledge and she did not disappoint. With the goals that I am working towards, the knowledge that she dropped was received at the perfect time. Yaaaasss Universe! Yaaaaasss! SUBSCRIBE AND GET YOUR LIFE TOGETHER. The Queen has even written a book!

  1. Self Care is necessary to attain & maintain success:

20160521_103943.jpgImagine a panel of women with different skin tones, hair textures, economical statuses, shoe budgets, educational backgrounds, and hip measurements that took a moment from their successful, busy lives to share with you what they do to ensure that they maintain their sanity while still reaching for their super high goals, and ACHIEVING THEM. Imagine this same panel of women taking moments from their delivery to compliment each other and bond with one another, as well as with the audience.   If you attended, then you know how special it was to watch these women, especially Hey Fran Hey (#mygirlcrush).   If you attended, then you know that you saw yourself in some way in each woman on the panel, and as you took to Instagram to follow them or shared their IG with the person sitting to your left, you felt amazing because you were in the presence of greatness and you knew that you are also great.

Let me just leave this here: This amazing panel of #blackgirlmagic was moderated by Elaine Welteroth!


6.The Greatest Lunch Break was at EmpowerHER 2016: In the upper level of the space, you could shop & network with vendors while snacking on a cute muffin. In the lower level, the panel members made themselves available to chat and take pictures with them. Or you could just chill and eat fresh cold cut sandwiches with all of the trimmings and meet new friends.  It was dope!


7. The only time a Breakout was wanted by a Woman: The breakout sessions were pretty informative. I actually took a moment to sit and observe what was happening around me. I wanted to take it all in. This was my first business conference of 2016 as a full-time entrepreneur, no longer earning a paycheck from a Corporate America firm. The moment was surreal. I watched in amazement how all of these African American were quickly organized into 8 different smaller groups based on like-minded goals and talked with each other, shared ideas, listened to ideas, took notes, exchanged business cards and allowed the spirit of togetherness to take control. I was watching a fantasy happen around me and to me that I did not even know that I had.


8. I finally got to ask my question! Yay! One of the things that was challenging was getting selected to ask your question to the panel. I get it. It’s more of us. However, I quietly negotiated with the microphone man and then… it was my turn. Because I am extra, I asked two questions. #shrugs

Q1. What book(s) do you recommend reading as an entrepreneur?

Q2. What quality do you look for when deciding who you want to join your team of workers?

A1. Kelechi, the owner of Zuvaa response resonated with me. She mentioned the book #GirlBoss, by Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal.

A2. Kelechi also mentioned how critical she felt it was to work with people who will show up and ACTUALLY work. Value team members that will put forth their best effort regardless of their compensation.


9. Netta. Nine is for Nettaaaaaaaaa. The Black Lives Matter Movement is real AF. I appreciated how Morgan took us down the path to help us understand the Blavity team’s connection to the movement and Netta. Netta share a bit of her life journey and her motivations as well as some of her future plans. Her story will make you proud to be in her presence. She is a brave young woman who is simply inspiring.


10. The Beauty of Femininity: As I looked at my phone that was dying a slow death, I couldn’t believe two things. The first moment of disbelief was how in the world did I allow myself to walk out of the house without my phone charger. Because my phone is petty AF! My phone hits 20%, begins to graciously Serena Williams twerk on me then quickly slides down the pole to 0% shamelessly in a matter of 7 minutes. “Sorry“ by Beyonce’ should be the ringtone during this moment. The second moment of disbelief was how did I not know that Feminista Jones was my hero until this conference? She made me laugh. She made me cry. She made me reflect. She made me sigh. She made me love being a woman, even more than I already do. Feminista Jones and her panel mates discussed the realness of being an online activist.  We heard from ladies behind the scenes with Change.org as well and the power that a simple hashtag can have like #Oscarsowhite.  With great hashtags come great responsibility, and it is not all that glamourous. They kept it real. The work that they do is not for the weak in spirit.


EmpowerHER 2016 was indeed empowering for me. I cannot sit and wait for someone to make my environment comfortable me. I must take action and work to create a space that is comfortable for me to flourish in. I must celebrate all of the moments, big and small and remember to take care of myself.

We all deserve to be seen. We all deserve to be heard. We all deserve to be empowered.  I am empowered to be about my business.

Thank you Blavity.

EmpowerHER 2016 was a success.

 

~Miss GK~

 


Did you attend EmpowerHER 2016? What were some of your favorite moments?   Do you plan to attend the next event? I highly recommend it! Drop a comment below.

The Check In.

It’s May. Yay!

Or blah… Here’s to perspective.

Over the years, I have become really sensitive. It’s not the “Oh my gosh, now I care about people and puppies” sensitive feeling. It’s deeper than that. It’s the awareness of energy that a co-worker is soul-hurt from their childhood and cannot seem to find peace when they interact with a client that resembles their father. Deep. (Are you soul-hurt too?) It sounds like mumbo jumbo to some, but deep down, we are all connected, and you know it. Think back to a few days ago when you were at a local coffee shop, you actually looked up from your phone (shocker), and you ‘felt’ someone looking at you. When you looked up, he didn’t even dart his eyes away. See?! Energy felt.

Now that you get what I mean, let’s get into it. If you can feel someone else’s energy, you should be aware and in tune with your energy. What is going on with you? Are you good?

I’ll use myself as an example. I am constantly on the go. Travel. Business Meetings. New Clients. Family. Friends. Curiosity. Yes, these days, I allow curiosity to take space in my life. I wanna see things. I want to meet people. I want to experience something different. I want to learn. If I am constantly flying, and dining, and couch surfing, and interacting with strangers, that’s A LOT of energy that I am absorbing. Sometimes, it becomes overwhelming. At times it feels unhealthy. What do I do to take care of myself?

I check in.

Let’s look at my past 6 months. I experienced the following:

  • Working in a Start-Up Advertising Agency, 18-hour work days (seriously)
  • Studying business practices and brokering deals in Accra, Ghana
  • Trying to identify business opportunities in a ‘failed’ economy in Sierra Leone
  • Empowering new clients to believe in their brilliance and take action
  • Studying myself and how to rectify situations caused by my Ego

The check-in requires that I ask myself a few tough questions.

  • What has happened?
  • What has failed?
  • What has been successful?
  • What has been fulfilling?
  • What’s next?
The struggle is real sometimes.

As an entrepreneur, I believe that check-ins are a required part of my life. However, when I converse with friends that hold a ‘9-5’ job, the way they express their life makes me realize that they could use a check-in too. Often times, I listen to their rhythm of behavior. The days are familiar, yet they are not present.

  • The drop-off and pick-up of kids to sports activities
  • The convenient drive-thru of Starbucks where ‘the regular’ is ordered
  • The 20 minutes of mediocre sex with our partner that is comparable to the taste of dry wheat toast

They are in auto-pilot until the next tragedy jolts them awake… or they accidentally meet someone that stimulates their mind at their second cousin’s birthday party. Then I get the call.

Girl, we need to talk. My life f*cking sucks!

A friend

I’m here for the calls. However, that jolt can be avoided. Stop going through the motions. Stop waiting on assigned calendar dates/holidays to check on yourself.

How are you doing?

Get in tune with yourself. You are so valuable. You are so powerful. You are so worth it. Don’t take yourself for granted.

Check in with yourself. Make yourself a priority. Don’t wait until tomorrow.


I mean it ya’ll. Use this basic checklist. Your journal is calling you…


Check In With Yourself.

  • What has happened?
  • What has failed?
  • What has been successful?
  • What has been fulfilling?
  • What’s next?


Um… Let me know how your Check In goes.. There may be a reward from me…

Ego.

I realized that I can’t really talk about ego unless I share how it relates to my daily life.  For me, it’s work.  Once upon a time, I had a client reach out to me requesting for me to return four (4) types of fabric scraps from previous orders completed more than eighteen (18) months ago. Confused, I asked the client to confirm that I understood the request. This request was officially confirmed via email.  I have the receipts.  

Guess who showed up first to dominate my response with a nasty attitude?

My Ego.

I had a serious bounce to the song Ego. Serious. Bounce.

Now let me be clear.  I was pissed.  My ego went into overdrive.  I could not believe that someone would ask for scraps from a previous order to be returned that was completed and delivered that long ago. I went off… to my team; my friends. I’m human.  However, I am boss, a leader of a business. This is a client request. I’m also someone with feelings, a non-robot. So I have a few decisions to make at that moment. 

Boss Question: How am I going to handle this insult from a client…in a professional manner? Like seriously God? WTF?

Side-Eye | Eye-Roll Photography: Demetrius Philp

As a student of (Uncle) Eckhart Tolle via (Aunty) Oprah Winfrey, I am learning about my ego, and how to reduce my ego’s power and position over all aspects of my life.

The shift has already happened.  My approach is different because I know that I have to start with deep breaths. (Sometimes several of them. People try me ya’ll.)

Photography: Demetrius Philp

Is your Ego about to respond? Are you about to curse?

Questions to Self continue a little like this:

Why did that happen the way it did? What is your role in this?

You have to be accountable for something here. Figure it out.

Shit.

Here is the thing. I don’t know if you can relate, but I was taught how to feed my ego and keep her active and healthy. I nurtured her by becoming knowledgeable in all things that interest me, well-mannered yet brash when crossed, hard-working and results-oriented, and a bunch of other traits that make you feel extremely good about yourself whenever you walk into a room. The problem is, by allowing my ego to dominate my thinking, my interactions, subconsciously, I began to think that I was elite, too good to deal with certain people, too closed off to experience certain situations, too smart to be questioned, or take criticism. That’s when the real problems began to take place. These questions to self piss me off… but they are necessary.

Ego.

As a clothing designer that specializes in couture designs, allowing my ego to dominate poses a HUGE problem.  It blocks the part of my passion that loves to connect with people (in real life, not just through Instagram),  to elevate their style with designs from our brand, styling from the team, and knowledge about the richness of African culture, a major inspiration that fuels the brand. I am a subject matter expert.  I am busy traveler.  I know things…first hand.  I am connected.  I am… blah blah blah…still me though.  I am emotional.  I am humorous.  I am a real empath.  I love salt & vinegar potato chips with french onion dip to a fault.  I am sensitive about the work that I do.  I love hard, carry a strong belief in karma and I act accordingly.

I am… that I am.

i Am…

I am…imperfection.

Self-awareness has become a daily practice, which led me to a path of understanding that this ego of mine was going to have to take a permanent seat. Knowing that I am a work in progress is key.  Old habits die hard.  It’s so easy to react with the ego leading, especially when people treat you wrong.  But here is that age-old question:  

Will you become the problem or the solution?    

Entrepreneurship has forced me into a new space of maturity. If I can cry at the end of every episode of Undercover Boss (seriously…it’s bad), I can find space to empathize with my client’s request… or at least try.  My G-Code I follow to combat egoic behavior and responses is as follows:

  • Make sure you have considered the client’s perspective with an open mind before deciding how to address and resolve the issue.    1.  Why did they say this?  2. Is there anything truthful about their statement? In business, I owe my client something, even if it’s a polite GTFOH response.  However, if something is unclear, I need to take the initiative to gain clarity about what has gone wrong so I understand what I can do next to resolve the matter.
  • I need to respond without anger and with facts.  If that means waiting a few hours before responding to the client, so be it.  Do your homework.  Gather receipts. Analyze the situation.  In the age of social media bashing, respond with an appreciation for the fact that you have an opportunity to address the situation one-on-one with the client without an audience of trolls.
  • Avoid pettiness, even if baited. (Always go higher).  
  • Make sure you can look at your client’s grandmother and explain yourself if need be.  (I am a sucker for old folks).
  • Don’t be afraid to apologize for the errors.  But remember, you are not sorry.  Do not say “I’m sorry”, especially if you are not. You are magical, living your destiny.  That’s the farthest thing from being sorry.

Allowing my ego to control how I do business is not smart.  It costs.  Sheesh, thus far, my ego has cost me money. My ego has cost me connections.  When my ego is in control, it becomes a poor reflection on my team, and they deserve the best leader that I can be.  More than anything, my ego has cost me time that I cannot get back.  

Checking My Ego.

Nowadays, the tough conversations are easier.  Complicated scenarios are more simple.  My energy is different.  I can feel it.  I mean really feel it.  Checking my ego means that I realize that I am not entitled to everyone’s approval.  Sometimes I do things that are different from the best way.  Listen, sometimes, I get it wrong.   I’m a human being.

My G-Code is applicable to life outside of business transactions too.  I’m experienced enough to understand that everyone will not like me all the time. It’s okay. Putting my G-Code into practice has resulted in:

Less emotional nonsense.  
More relevant, deep connections. 
More clarity.  
Less anger. 
More love.  

Photography: Demetrius Philp

If you don’t believe me, ask Aunty Oprah (Winfrey).  She’s doing a whole podcast series about it, and it’s changing the lives of podcast communities all over the world.  It’s cool to be a part of that community.   

I listen using the Castbox Podcast App. #teamandroid

Next topic: Collaboration.

Marcus Machado: The Humility of a Prodigy

It’s been four years since the ‘Next Young Gun’ sat down with The Rolling Stone and the world was formally introduced to Marcus Machado, the guitar prodigy.  Since then, he’s released music, traveled the world playing along some of the greatest musical acts in Jazz, Soul, Rap, Rock’n’ Roll and more.  I was introduced to “M Drix” after his show at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York, and we just clicked.  His affinity for African-Inspired clothing established our connection and since then, a friendship filled with styling and couture clothing, my personal motivational speaker that encourages me to thrive as an independent creative, and constant congratulatory banter and humor occurs whenever our schedules permit for us to grab drinks and catch up on life.  I had the privilege of listening and watching his new hit single, “I Can’t Lose” featuring Jermaine Holmes… and I was speechless.  The growth of this guitar juggernaut is so real, that I had to write about it.  The most amazing aspect about Machado, he maintains humility through it all.

GK: I Can’t Lose ft. Jermaine Holmes is super soulful.  It brings an authentic, rich sound to my ears that remind me of 90s R & B genre, a personal favorite.  The guitar is prominent throughout the song, and that’s you!  Did you contribute any additional musical talent to this track? (ie. songwriting, production)
MM: Thanks, I produced that track and I played all the instruments on it as well. I really wanted to capture that ol’ school early 70’s vibe for it.
GK: The video for this song blew my mind.  Honestly.  It’s been a LONG time since I have watched a video for a single from a motion picture that made me WANT to go see the film.  D’Angelo’s video “Devil’s Pie” is what comes to mind.  Share with us what type of vibe inspired the treatment for this video and why you think it pairs so well with the song.
MM: Basically the whole idea for “I Can’t Lose”… I wanted to capture the soul and blues
of a guy who is trying to do right, yet gets stuck in the crossfire of doing wrong.  Once I talked with director Patrick House about it, we both ended up creating what you see in the video. We wanna keep ya’ll guessing on what’s gonna happen next! Lol!  The song itself is an anthem for anybody who goes through the struggle.   No matter what… you can’t lose.  As long as you keep on going…you can’t lose.  With that in mind, plus the video treatment… that’s how everything came together.
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GK: How did this soundtrack land in your lap?  How many songs can we expect and how do you put your ‘Machado’ stamp on this project?
MM: Actually, the soundtrack album came by accident.  When Patrick (Director) had reach out to me to do the movie score for Blue Diamonds, I was working on another album at the time. It wasn’t until I had finished up the movie score… I just kept on recording!  Once I had a few songs from that, I kinda thought that it would be dope if I turn it into a soundtrack album. Right now, I’m still figuring out how many songs I wanna have, but just know its gonna be a full album. As far as my stamp goes, no matter what the music is, I always wanna have the guitar as a lead in the music.
GK: Your collaboration with Jermaine Holmes is a win.  Did you collaborate with other artists on this project?  Who are you looking forward to working alongside in an upcoming project?
MM: Yes, I have a few guests on the album. It was a lot of fun working with everyone on this project. Everybody brought something to the table and what you hear is organic. What I look for is the connection and vibe when collaborating with other artists.  If the vibe is not right, it ain’t gonna work.
GK: Your Summer ’18 schedule must be insane.  You’re dropping this soundtrack, and word on the street is, we can expect more new music. What’s next for you musically?
MM: I’m just getting everything together now.  I’m looking forward to a lot of the new projects like D.M.D. which is Drummer Daru Jones, Myself and Bassist Doug Wimbush. It’s too many projects to name! Lol!! But just know there’s a lot of music on the way coming soon!
GK: As a critically-acclaimed, guitar prodigy, you have been blessed with opportunities to travel abroad and play alongside some of the greats in the genres of blues, soul, jazz and more.  What would you say has been your most eye-opening experience about the culture in one of those cities/countries when compared to New York City here in the US?
MM: There are too many to name but I’m just grateful and thankful to have traveled all over the world and been able to see all of the different cultures. Off the top of my head, a place that was an eye-opener for me was Tokyo. It was amazing to play there, but what tripped me out was when we played, the crowd was silent until we finish the song.  They totally respect the music. They would only cheer after the show ended.  The vibe is great. 
GK: As a performing musician, stage presence and personal branding are important.  How do you manage your stage presence so that people KNOW when Marcus Machado takes the stage?
MM: For me, it’s pretty simple, stay true to what you do… When I’m onstage, that’s the platform to get everything (you’re feeling inside) out. Whatever you’re feeling at the moment, you just leave it all on the stage. With that connection, that’s how you can bring the audiences with you (to the music) and take them somewhere else. For me, that’s what it’s all about. 
GK: On a personal note, I am always curious to understand how busy, talented, creatives incorporate rest and rejuvenation into their daily habits.  Getting burnout is never okay, and we often hear about celebrities checking into mental health facilities or worse.  Do you practice self-care?  What would you like to do more of to feel at peace?  What do you recommend to others as a best practice?
MM: Yeah, it can get crazy at times when your touring etc. Knowing how to shut everything down and giving yourself time… time only for you. It’s very hard at times to do that.  What I do is try to stay fit by going to the gym and eating right and making sure no matter how busy I may get, there is a time to catch up on rest or watch a movie, even though I’m still trying today to do that today! lmao

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Marcus Machado w/ I Am Gayima  Location: LunÀtico 

 

 

Sallay.

Honestly, I tear up thinking about how I felt on this day when you arrived.  It was the first time in my life that I no longer felt alone.  Before you were born, I was always at Aunty Agnes’s house.  They had a grandma living there, so Mom and Dad used to drop me off over there when they needed a last minute caregiver.  Everybody loves the African Grandma.  Since I was always there, that means I was always with Khosay and Alie. I think that because I had them, I didn’t feel like I needed a brother.  I had two.  I would watch them play together, constantly tearing up the house and getting yelled it.  It was such a damn good time!  But it made me realize that I really wanted a sister.  Like… I sat Mom and Dad down one day and said,

“I would like a sister.  It is not fair that other people have brothers and sisters.  I have no one.  I want a sister.”

On Memorial Day several, several years ago, I was dropped off to Khosay and Alie’s.  We were outside playing in their neighborhood with Tough, Stuff, and Enough.  Yep.  They were a trio, and Tough was my boyfriend… anytime I was over at the house.  That meant when all the neighborhood kids played tag, he was allowed to tackle me, and no one else could.  That was it though.  That defined childhood relationships for me.  Anyhoo, that Memorial Day was different.  I remember getting tackled by Tough and Khosay and him almost fought about it.  Tough took his time to get off of me, and Khosay wasn’t having it.  He was my brother.  I looked around and it was just brothers.  Khosy and Alie: Brothers.  Tough, Stuff, Enough: Brothers.

 “Yima, your sister is here!  You have a sister!”

Aunty Agnes yelled the words that changed my status.  It was a shift.  In that moment, I went from being alone to becoming a sister.

Yima and Sallay: Sisters.

I was no longer alone.

I had an idea of how I would ‘sister’ you, but I had no idea how you would ‘sister’ me.  Having you in my life has taught me so many things about myself.  I didn’t know that I could protect, guide, and lead until I had to do those things for you.  I didn’t know that I could contemplate executing a punk-ass dude, until I almost did it because he hurt you.  I didn’t know that I would boldly curse out parents (other people’s parents of course) on their driveway for allowing their kids to fight you at school without consequence. That day, I became everybody’s consequence.  The police officers just shook their head.  I didn’t know that I could be so disappointed too.  I didn’t know that I could care so much about your well-being and progress, that your failures literally make me sick.  Becoming a sister.  I think because I requested your presence, I always felt that I had to rise to the occasion.  I remember praying for you.  Even as a kid, I always noticed that when I asked God for stuff, it happened.  It was like, I talked to God about the important things, like a Sister and always getting As and Bs in school, and I talked to Mom and Dad about toys and clothes.  God always delivered, and Mom and Dad did if they were in a good mood.  Basically, nothing has changed. SMH.

Our sisterhood has been tough.  Our personalities are different, so our approach in how we take on life differs.

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Photography: Richard Nwaoko @richardnwaoko

At times, tremendously different, causing real friction.  However, the way that you allow me to ‘big-sister’ you… I’m grateful.  You listen and respect me.  You are honest and opinionated, often times, pissing me off.

But the way you cackle your way through my tempers and outbursts… well, only you can do it.

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Photography: Dior Davis Photograhy  @diordavis

The shit that we have endured together, whether it’s tackling divorces head-on, middle-fingering gossiping communities within and outside of our bloodline with a smile, silently committing to instill the best practices we know about being a virtuous woman into teenage Bintu (our pride and joy, right?), weathering failure points of the business, and finding the will to get back up and move forward together… the list continues.

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Runway Walk, Hand in Hand at Color Rich Styling Showcase 2017

From pushing you in your stroller down the quiet cul-de-sac in Columbus with shared dreams of leaving that life, to enjoying nightlife moments from New York City to Accra, you’re there.

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From NYC to Accra, Ghana circa 2017

Staring quietly out the window into the abyss of a place called Lunsar, with the sounds of Mom crying in despair and heartbreatk.  You’re at my side.  Sometimes, its about enduring hard moments in silence, together. Sometimes it’s about binge watching the box set of ‘LOST’ together all weekend, instead of dealing with people who suck.  Sometimes it’s about stalking Bintu on social media together until she finally calls back, and arguing about nothing on three-way.  Big. Sister. Shit.

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Photography: Bunmi, Sun of August  @kodak.junkie

Sometimes it’s about waking up out of your sleep to transferring dollars at 4AM because my African emergency is more important than your American bill.  These random moments of Sisterhood have kept me from losing my mind.

Sisterhood is the first jewel in my crown.  It officially started when you arrived.  You didn’t know it, but your entry into this world was a big sigh of relief for me.  I knew that my burdens would forever be lighter.

Every May 28th is a day of relief and celebration because you arrived.  Thanks bruh.

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Somebody’s iPhone. Top: M’Balu 

 

Love  & Gratitude,

Yima

 

R E | D E E M

T H | I N K
It started with family.  The culture embedded in my DNA motivated me to create a brand with a purpose.  The purpose that would cultivate connections with people around the world and promote African culture in a manner that was bold, and unapologetic.  With a name as unusual as Amyang, I wanted the offerings of the fashion brand to deliver styles that encompassed a timeless, unique look that could capture the attention of the world, yet create an imprint in the minds of those with a genuine interest in today’s Africa; it’s culture and style.  My sisters and I launched the Lifestyle Brand, Amyang Fashun.  The brand has garnered the attention of cult taste makers like Afropunk aficionados, with features on Elle.com and other global media publications.  Then as a favor to a client, we created a wedding dress alternative that was apart of a viral sensation… a sexy black gown that was paired with a timeless love story.  The simple, yet daring creation caught the attention of media personalities like Robin Roberts and the Good Morning America Crew along with its viewers.  Despite these amazing milestones, it wasn’t enough.
U N | T H I N K
I did the unthinkable.  Unsatisfied with the business’s trajectory, I turned to Africa and took a leap of faith.  I literally packed my baggage, both emotional and physical, and returned to my Motherland.   Deep down, I knew that in order to lead my organization in the right direction, I had to return to the land of my Father and reclaim our foundation.  In order to move forward in the right direction, I needed to understand where we were coming from.  We were missing the experience of Africa, and I had to go get it.
My return led to revelations.  What I found in Africa was more than I could have imagined.  I stumbled upon answers to questions that I couldn’t recall asking.  I was overwhelmed.
S E E
What I witnessed and experienced with the people of the land was unbelievable.  I witnessed and experienced genuine love and emotional intelligence in their hearts juxtaposed to a life of limitations as a result of strife and hardships rooted in colonialism and government corruption.  The people of The Continent are so resilient.  Despite hardship, the daily mantra for the masses is simply that a supreme being is in control and will have the final say in all that will happen.  They have taught me to activate and remain in a state of faith. I didn’t realize how far I had strayed from God until I resumed my place as a living example of Psalm 91.  I was reminded of the power of the tongue through vigilant prayer.  When I landed in my parent’s country, I was overcome with emotion.  I had expressed for almost a decade that I yearned to go back.  I was often denied permission by my Mother and at one point, resented her.  I wanted to visit my Grandmother.  I wanted to lay on the beaches of Sierra Leone.  I wanted to experience Christmas and New Year’s Eve under the African Sun.  I wanted to source fabrics and create designs in Africa.  I wanted so much.  Not all of my wishes were granted, but when the plane descended onto the runway of Lungi International Airport, I watched and felt a miracle. My prayer was answered.  It was the prayer that my heart had yearned for so long.  It left me with a feeling that I can only express with a flood of tears.
A | W A K E
The methodology of my upbringing became crystal clear. An African Father’s mission; to empower his American daughters without compromising his culture and values was finally defined through simple observation and reflection.  An African Mother’s “mid-life crisis”; a traumatic divorce, finally proved itself to be a spiritual awakening. Her personal journey shifted, elevating her into a new role as a powerful, peaceful, prayer warrior with a deeper sense of motherhood that her American girls could finally appreciate.
S P I | R I T U A L
The quiet breeze that touches the Atlantic Ocean’s surface, kisses the cheeks of a future business mogul, currently interning as a market woman.  She rises at the crack of dawn, and by 9am, she effortlessly totes a neat stack of vibrant-colored fabrics on top of her head to sell under the hot sun of Freetown, Sierra Leone.  This same breeze rises with determination, high above the mountainous roads of the West End Area, and travels through the hills of secluded gated residences.  This crisp breeze finally locates my radiant melanated skin, determined to provide it’s daily caress, as I sit on the veranda, finalizing sketches for Amyang’s latest designs that will be produced…in Africa.  Like many before me, and many more after me, I returned to reclaim more than time.  I returned to reconnect to my people, harness and align with my energy and fill my spiritual cup.
R E | D E E M
No Wahala…The Podcast is my personal ode to my fellow African Diasporans.  We yearn for more than is readily available at our fingertips.  We crave for genuine re-connection to a land that is rich and mysterious, our birthright.  We want to find our place among the diverse set of communities steeped in tradition and culture, speaking languages foreign to us, yet apart of our DNA.  Despite access and travel, lack of dialogue between the African and the African Diasporan remains.  No Wahala…The Podcast is an intention fulfilled to help break down the barrier that blocks the flow of honest and open dialogue.  It begins with those who have access to share their stories of reconnecting to Africa.  It will end with unity among Africans worldwide.  What was lost will be redeemed.
I Am…Gayima
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Featured Image: Lady of The Dawn