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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AFROPUNK: Will It Lose It’s Magic?

 

LIVE. LAUGH. LOVE.

 

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#BLACKGIRLMAGIC Photo Courtesy of boogz1
                                       Left to Right: Amyang Co-Founder @kayslay | Muse @gypsy_eyez_ | Vicrina En Vogue @vicrinaenvogue

 

 

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THE COLD SHOULDER SUPREME.  AVAILABLE FW2016 AT AMYANG.COM.

 

AFROPUNK 2016.  It happened.  It was awesome.  However…

AFROPUNK is one of the few festivals where organic connections lead to lifelong, sometimes… life changing connections.  What makes this festival special is that it is one of the few safe spaces designed to welcome and celebrate the diversity, creativity and energy of Black People while including others from different ethnicities from all over the world. Inclusion.  As AFROPUNK continues to grow year after year, many of us hope that the authentic moments that make AFROPUNK so amazing are not lost in the sauce of the “business” of AFROPUNK.  Some of the moments that you won’t see captured on camera depict that this safe space is in danger of becoming just another big business music festival.  Horrible cell phone connectivity. Overzealous security staff. Food vendors selling $8 grilled cheese sandwiches.  Seriously?  Seriously.  If you attended this year as well as last year, then you know what I am talking about.  Deep sigh.

My message to the curators of AFROPUNK is simple: STAY WOKE.  Don’t lose the magic.

 

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Shirt Available at AMYANG.COM



PERSONAL HIGHS OF MY AFROPUNK 2016 WEEKEND

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                 Guess what!?  Amyang Fashun is now on SNAPCHAT.  FOLLOW & SNAP US @amyangfashun!



~Miss GK~

Instagram:@temnefula | @amyang_fashun

 

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~

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~

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~

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

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~

 

The Picture That Broke Me Open — dream, leap, live

This is a photograph of me(on the right) and my cousin Sallay (co-owner of Amyang Fashun) at Afropunk NYC. Even now, I am cringing at the thought of publishing this. But I think it’s important to highlight what this photo represents for me and my mission. This picture awoke in me a sense of inadequacy […]

via The Picture That Broke Me Open — dream, leap, live

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~

Yim. Yims. Yim Yim. Red. Yep

Over the past few years, I have become drawn to the color red.  I was not a fan of it growing up, and I could not imagine putting the color red on my thick lips.  The thought of it on my lips made me cringe.  Nowadays, I don’t feel comfortable without a red lip.

Recently, I was in conversation with my mom.

Miss GK: What is the color red in Temne (her native language).

Mom: Yim.

Miss GK: Yes?  You didn’t here me?

Mom: The color is pronounced Yim.

Miss GK: Izzzzzz daaaat right!  I thought you were repeating my name! (My nickname is Yima… I’m not crazy). Nice!

Mom: Whatevah.  Not everything is about you.

Clearly, I don’t agree with her last statement, even if it’s true.  But isn’t that cool?  It makes me smile, because for the past year, most of the shoots that I’ve done for myself have involved red.  If you are not into red, get into it.  It’s bold, beautiful, and it compliments many skin tones and shades.  This cannot be said for many colors.  Find a lovely shade for your lips too.  You may need more than one and that’s okay.

 

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xo~Yim Yim aka Miss GK