Posts in "Feature"

Meet PhDivas!

What do you get when you add brains, ambition, drive + beauty? PhDivas, of course! In a society where media loves to portray women of color as just beauty with no brains, it’s completely refreshing for Liz Wayne and Christine “Xine” Yao to create an empowering  platform that flips the script! PhDivas podcast covers  academia, culture, + social justice across the STEM/humanities divide. An engaging conversation between friends and scholars, PhDivas fills a niche for witty and insightful discussion and proves that PhDs in Engineering and English literature have more in common than meets the eye.

At over 50 episodes, PhDivas garnered a wide audience with a listenership from over 100 countries and over 20,000 plays. Two women of color Ivy League PhDs navigating higher education. Biomedical engineer meets literary critic. And of course, both fans of lipstick!

Let’s get to know Liz + Xine a little better!

PhDivasis a podcast about academia, culture, and social justice across the STEM/Humanities divide, what made you launch this powerful podcast?

Academia is a struggle for everyone, especially for those who are underrepresented minorities. Solidarity between women, especially women of color, is so important for surviving higher education regardless of discipline. Sometimes we have to be the change we want to see in the world or the inspiration we wish we could have had. This work is deeply personal: we hope to be part of a chain reaction that will make higher education a better place. As Liz likes to say, “Academia won’t be the space that was provided for me but one that I create — not the one I dreamed of but one that I build.” Join our community!

Being a voice in the community motivates others to be great, which past topics/episodes do you feel your audience responded to more than others? And why do you feel this topic had a large effect?

People feel the pressure to perform perfection all the time, but we try to be honest about the struggle and our anxieties. One of our most popular recent episodes was S03E23 “The Secret Life of Academic Conferences.” Perhaps drew our listeners was that we went beyond the list of practical, professional tips and advice that can be found elsewhere; instead, we delved into the social life and psychology of the conference experience that people don’t often talk about — especially not from the perspective of those who are junior in academia. One of our classic episodes S02E07 “Imposter Syndrome and Other Anxieties” speaks to the personal and structural difficulties everyone can have in competitive environments. Together we discuss the difference between responding to environments inhospitable to women of colour versus universal worries about expectations and performance.

Christine “Xine” Yao

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

We both love how Laverne Cox talks about possibility models instead of role models. For Xine that person is Sara Ahmed, a (now former) academic in the humanities working on feminist and queer of color criticism; not only does Xine draw from Ahmed’s theoretical models, but she is inspired by how Ahmed practices her principles in life, not just in research.

For Liz that person is Dean Gilda Barabino, the first Black women to be Dean of an Engineering School. She has led an exemplary career and she just an amazing and lovely person to be around. She gives me hope.

Liz Wayne

If you had to give one piece of advice to teen girls who are struggling with race and gender issues in their day to day, what would it be?

 Xine: There’s a community out there for you and those people are both more wonderful and more flawed than you can imagine. You will grow together when you work toward each other’s liberation. Oh, and you need to learn how to strategically stop caring or listening to those on the outside in order to make it through.

Liz: Some things we can’t change or help– where we live, who are family is, etc., but we can choose our friends and our life partners. Choose wisely. When the world feels like it has no space for you, surround yourself with people who want you to be healthy, happy, and successful. Don’t linger on the toxic relationships or the toxic social images. Having a strong support network has helped me deal with the struggles of the world.

We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you and your organization?

Lift each other up!

Fun Faves! Fave Food? Artist? Song? Celeb Crush?

Xine: Food: loves eating everything but if she had to choose it would be good ice cream. Artist: Gustav Klimt or Kara Walker (easier for me to think of this kind of artist and not musical ones!) Song: History Maker by Dean Fujioka (the theme song for the anime Yuri!!! On Ice) Celeb Crush: Riz Ahmed

Liz: Food: Chicago deep crust pizza. Artist:Titus Kaphar & Frida Kahlo. Song: Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks  ​Celeb Crush: Rihanna (because she puts in work work work work work).

Check out more of Liz + Xine here!

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Meet Donshea Hopkins!

Photo credit: zxphilmz

When you UNLEASH your power, you light up the world  + actress/musical artist Donshea Hopkins is simply blazing bright! Not only does she play Raina St. Patrick on the hit Starz series POWER, she’s also letting her voice touch her fans through her beautiful vocals and empowering lyrics. Donshea Hopkins is making her mark across all platforms as an actress, singer, dancer, and model. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Donshea began her career as professional actress at the age of four and has since been on some of the biggest hit television shows including, Power, The Detour, Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie, Law & Order SVU, Sesame Street, “What Would You Do?”, Team Umizoomi, appearances in sketches on David Letterman, and an interview segment with Alyson Hannigan and Carson Daly on MTV’s TRL.  Donshea’s EP debut 3Point2 is available for digital download and streaming everywhere.  

 
Let’s get to know Donshea’s a little better…

Photo credit: @zxphilmz

You’ve starred in the biggest hit television shows including Power, The Detour, Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie, + Law & Order SVU just to name a few! What made you want to step into the acting world?
When I was younger whenever I saw kids on TV that were around my age, I would tell my mom that I wanted to do that. I started talking at nine months old, so when I would point to the television and tell her, she didn’t think much of it. She just thought that I wanted to do the ABC’s and 123’s since I was watching shows like  Sesame Street and Barney.

I was so persistent with wanting to become an actress that I would write my own scripts and commercials and perform them for my mom. On New Year’s Eve we have this tradition where we tell each other our goals and ambitions for the upcoming year. When I was 3 years old I asked her, “Why don’t you want me to be on tv?” And she said “It’s not that I don’t want you to be on tv, it’s that I don’t know what to do.” She began to tell me that when my birthday came around, she’ll figure out what to do and how to get me in the business. And the rest is history!

You’ve already accomplished so much at an young age! If you had to choose, what would be the biggest highlight in your blossoming career so far?
I’d say my music is definitely one of the biggest highlights in my career so far. Mostly because it’s my own project that I had complete control over, since I wrote/co-wrote and co-produced everything on my debut EP 3Point2. ( 3Point2 is available for download and streaming everywhere).

In your current role as Raina St. Patrick how was it to work with the cast of Power?
It’s one heck of a crazy exhilarating roller coaster ride, working with the cast of Power. Because everyone’s so different and unique and there styles and methods of acting are all so different that I learn something new every time I walk on set.

As you continue to travel on your amazing journey of dominating your craft, how do you deal with fame + being recognized? How do you stay grounded + focused?
I embrace it, because just how fast I got it, I can lose it. And I think it’s pretty freaking amazing  to be recognized for my work by fans. I’m just glad that my work has been memorable enough to be appreciated.To stay focused I start with the end in mind. I think about how hard I’m working and why I’m working hard, and then I think about how much my work is gonna pay off later. Whether that might be 5 months or 5 years, I know one day it’ll definitely pay off in a BIG way!

Photo credit: Zxphilmz


What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
GO.
FOR.
IT!
You only get one life, so don’t be afraid to go after what you want.
And you’re not gonna get everything you want and that’s okay. Like for example if you go out on an audition and you don’t get it. Don’t be upset, because you got an amazing experience to audition for this company. And they might call you in for something else. Usually it’s not that they didn’t like you, you just didn’t fit the role or what they were looking for. So keep going and don’t be afraid!
Fear less, be FEARLESS!

We are all about empowerment, What does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

Empowerment means taking pride in your culture and who you are. Empowerment also means lifting each other up and as people I feel like we tend to forget that sometimes. Instead of empowering each other we tear each other down. Which isn’t right, if we want to succeed in this world we must help each other in this weird thing we call life. Fighting has gotten us no where, but back to the beginning.

Time for  FAVES! Celeb Crush? Music artist? Food? Movie?
Justin Bieber. Halsey, Paramore, Justin (obviously) Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Selena Gomez, Melanie Martinez, Fifth Harmony, Little Mix, Florence + the Machine, Janine, Zendaya, and the list goes on! Popcorn/Vegan Sushi/ and anything with chocolate. The Princess and the Frog, Beauty and the Beast, The Professional, and Get Out.

Check out more Donshea here!

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Meet T’masia Sade!

As summer break is in full swing so should your style! New York based designer + creative director T’masia Crowder makes sure your fashion taste hits every beach with her luxe swimwear brand T’masia Sade.  This past spring our intern, Maria was able to touch base with the designer who founded her line in 2012. The brand radiates the modern femme with bold fabrics, variety of colors, accessories, edginess and playful shapes. The goal is to take risk and embody fierceness in young women swimwear  beyond the norm.

Let’s get to know T’masia a little better…

What inspired you to make such bold designs?

I am inspired by all types of art and influences. Some of my designs are based on my eclectic/eccentric personality and style. Most of the time my designs are based on stepping out the box or bold colors.

Do you hope to someday expand your line to day and evening wear?

At the moment, no. I am looking to focus on expanding in my current market first.

What were some obstacles you have faced in the fashion industry?

One obstacle I would acknowledge is being discouraged, but don’t be. I typically do not get too caught up in the other obstacles in the fashion industry, I acknowledge them but I won’t allow them to deter me from my end goal. I aim to focus more on meeting my target market needs and adjusting with SOME trends.


What advice do you have for people interested in the fashion field?

The advice I would give to anyone interested in the fashion field would be to stick to your plan and to work hard/smart. Be passionate about what you are doing and don’t be scared to be an individual or an outcast. Most people/buyers relate more to designers who are true to themselves.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a fashion designer?

I was always artistic and my family kept me in different arts programs. However, I always knew I wanted to be a designer since early childhood. I would always work on alterations/bedazzling or vintage apparel with my grandmother, it was our thing!

What’s the best part, in your opinion, about the fashion world?

In my opinion, the best part of the fashion world is being free to create what ever you feel will impact someone’s appearance. The relationships you build with your clientele is also satisfying.

How did you first get your swimwear recognized?

I first got my swimwear recognized when I was selected to participate in the New York RAW Artist showcase. I remember being nervous because I just finished taking the leap of faith to start my brand at the time. However, by the end of that year I was so astonished that I was voted to participate in the RAW NY Fashion finale. That was my first debut to the world honestly and I was not even expecting it.

Would you have pursued a different careers if your designs weren’t recognized?

No. Being recognize does not determine my career, recognition will eventually come. However, during this time I had just graduated from undergrad so I started my career as an engineer in the construction industry during the day and I was pursuing my designs simultaneously.

How important is communication in the fashion field?

As for any industry or relationship, communication is key. The communication keeps everything flowing and on track, it impacts every aspect of your brand and it also can assist with mitigating any risk.
What have you learned so far about fashion? I’ve learned that fashion can change within a blink of an eye and most trends repeat themselves. But most importantly I’ve learned that fashion is what you make of it, it’s the best way to express yourself without speaking.

Has living in New York somewhat influenced your designs? If so, how? 

Growing up in New York City I drew my inspiration from dope fashion in the streets. Most people in NYC are fearless with their fashion and sometimes out of the box. But that’s what makes it exciting and influential.

What do you hope to make people feel when they see and wear your designs?

I hope to make women feel confident, sexy, comfortable and edgy. I want them to say “I gotta have that” when they see my designs!

Check out more here!

T’masia Sade

 

Interview by Teen Blogger Maria Miller

Meet Princess Jackson!

A kind heart, a beautiful spirit + a focused mind are the ingredients of young activist + actress Princess Jackson! This dynamic young lady birthed “Sock Out Poverty” because of her fondness for socks and seeing the need in the community. Princess came up with the idea to raise donations which would cover the needs of men, women, boys, and girls who were in need of a new pair(s) of socks. Her goal is to reduce poverty and provide socks for the less fortunate, therefore Socking Out Poverty one step at a time! Princess has continuously spread the word about her message on bettering the community which caught the ear of Steve Harvey where she was featured on his show!

Let’s get to know Princess a little bit better…

Sock Out Poverty, Inc. is an influential non-profit  that provides socks, clothing and other material goods to men, women, boys, and girls that are in need. What made you want to create this powerful organization?

Four years ago while I was on a blanket drive with my mom, I noticed the homeless had blankets, cardboard, shoes with holes in them, but they didn’t have socks to keep them warm. I wanted to give new socks to the less fortunate so Sock Out Poverty, INC was created.

You also share your gifts through acting, what do you love about the acting world? 

I love acting because it allows me to play in different roles. Improv (acting with no scripts) is my favorite. I able to pretend to be some someone else and have fun doing it.

Being young and having responsibilities can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

I’m active in acting, modeling, charity events, and school. I stay focus and have a schedule I go by so I will be able to accomplish my goals. I also take 30 minutes each day to listen to something positive and motivating.

The possibilities are limitless for your future! What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be an actress and make music.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

My mother and music artist ‘I AM JUSTIFIED’ inspires me. My mother inspires as I watch her give to others, it teaches me not to be selfish and give to others too. I AM JUSTIFIED inspires me because he always focus on positivity even when negativity is around. This motivates me to stay positive.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

Empowerment means to be strong. My goal is when others see my strength, it will encourage others to be strong too.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

Celeb Crushes are Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Bryshere Gray, and Basketball player Kelly Oubre. My favorite food is shrimp alfredo. My favorite movies are Major Payne and Rude Alone.

 

Check out more here:

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Meet Kheris Rogers!

Confidence, beauty + freedom overflows from the stunningly beautiful, Kheris Rogers! This dynamic 10-year-old is blazing the path for young women of color everywhere to embrace their beauty and to rise above insecurities + ignorance of others.

As Kheris began to navigate through her school life she dealt with bullying from her peers when it came to her flawlessly chocolate complexion. Having a strong family foundation her older sister, Taylor, encouraged her to be proud of her beauty + not let anyone dim her light. Her sister then went on to post a photo of Kheris on Twitter using the hashtag #FlexinInMyComplexion and it went viral while receiving much love + support. She then developed her campaign into a t-shirt line which combats colorism by simply encouraging others to  embrace their natural beauty!

Let’s get to know Kheris a little better!

You are absolutely gorgeous both inside + out! What motivated you to start the campaign Flexin’ In My Complexion?

I was motivated to start the campaign “Flexin’ In My Complexion” because after sharing my story, there was so many people that reached out to me to let me know how they relate to my story and went through the same challenges that I am going through now. This inspired me to start my own fashion line called “Flexin’ In My Complexion” so that others can proudly flex in their skin as well.

Your movement has not only inspired young girls but adults to love themselves! How did you tap into your confidence + overcome being bullied?

I have the confidence to speak out because of my family. They have also told me to stand up for what I believe in and to not be afraid to speak up when something is wrong.

We all have tough days when we’re feeling down, what motivates you to stay positive?

Just seeing the impact my story has had on people motivates me to stay positive. It lets me know that I am not alone with how I am feeling.

The possibilities are limitless for your future! What do you want to be when you grow up?

My dream is to get into acting or modeling so that I can open doors for more people who look like me to follow their dreams as well.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

I am inspired by Michelle Obama because she motivates a lot of people to become a better them. She also works a lot with kids and looks stylish while doing it.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

Empowering people is important because sometimes all someone needs is an extra push to become a better them.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

My celebrity crush is Yazz (Hakeem from Empire). My favorite artists are Zendaya and Miss Mulatto from The Rap Game. The Rap Game is my favorite show as well. My favorite food is french fries that are extra crispy and alfredo pasta. My favorite Movie is Annie 2014.

Shop, support + follow Kheris here:

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Meet Black Girls Smile!

Depression can feel like you’re drowning especially if you feel as if their is no one around to save you. In 2012 Lauren Carson created a life jacket for young African American girls suffering with mental health issues through Black Girls Smile Inc!  Lauren envisioned a society that through the normalization and dialogue surrounding mental wellness, all individuals, including young African American females would be provided the education, support and resources necessary to lead a positively mentally healthy life.

Let’s get to know Lauren a little better…

Black Girls Smile empowers young African American women to take ownership of their mental health and stability, what made you launch this powerful organization?

I was diagnosed at age 15 with clinical depression and suffered two suicide attempts at 19 and 20. After
my second suicide attempt, as crazy as it sounds I decided I wanted to live, and to do that I knew I had to focus on making my mental wellness a top priority. And I did! I graduated from a top university, got a job in NYC at a finance, and most importantly I was the most mentally healthy I had ever been. During this period, I took some time to look back over my mental health journey, and although I came out of it positively, there were many negative points that could have been avoided. I realized I was fortune to have the financial means and familial support to come out of my darkest moments well, but I also realized this is not the reality for so many other young African American females like me. I knew that I had to give my journey purpose that I had to do my part to uplift and empower other young African American women to lead mentally healthy lives. Black Girls Smile Inc. was born, and still today works to educate, provide resources and support to help encourage positive mental health and wellness.

Being a voice in the community motivates others to be great, what type of programs and events does Black Girls Smile host?

Black Girls Smile Inc.’s mission is to promote positive mental health education, resources and education
geared toward empowering the mental wellness of young African American girls. We host various programming events and initiatives geared at educating young African American women on general mental health, illness and wellness. Our signature program, “SHE’s Mentally Prepared” also works with
young women to create a self-care action plan and empowers young women to find creative ways to cope with stressors and practice self-care. We also host Vision Board parties, Book Club series and other various events that promote and empower young women to lead a mentally healthy life.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

I would honestly say everyone in my life inspires me, from family to friends to colleagues. I have been
very intentional as I have gotten older to ensure I surround myself with people that inspire me in various ways. My mother is and always will be my biggest inspiration. Her compassion, patience (and this is big, I always need to work on my patience), and ability to let others be themselves is something I have always admired and continuously try to replicate a fraction of this in myself.

If you had to give one piece of advice to teen girls who are struggling with being comfortable in their own skin, what would it be?

Take a breath, everything will be ok! I remember the intensity I felt in many situations as a youth, as I have grown and matured, I see the beauty and helpfulness in taking a breath and calming one’s self
down.Putting situations in perspective and being able to cope with life’s stressors is key!

Working with youth both parties learn from each other, what’sone trait you have learned from working with girls?

I am in awe at the reminder of how resilient young women/girl are. Working with youth we are constantly reminded of all of the stressors that enter their lives and have the potential to affect them, however we constantly see youth thrive, grow, learn and mature. I am humbled to continuously work
with youth that display such resiliency and hunger for growth.

We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you and your organization?

Empowerment means sharing to me and Black Girls Smile Inc.’s mission. Young African American girls
and women for too long have struggled with mental health difficulties alone and in silence. We work to
empower/share self-care methods, coping techniques and support to encourage individual and
community mental wellness.

Fun Faves! Fave Food? Artist? Song? Celeb Crush?

My favorite food hands down would have to be hibachi; Japanese steakhouses where they cook in front
of you. I always enjoy it because it’s a communal dining experience, not to mention the food is always
amazing!

Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire”. I consider this song to be my theme song; an ode to young women and girls
ready to step into who they truly are and share their unique talents with the world. I try to be a Girl on Fire in everything I do.

My celebrity crush would have to be Jesse Williams. Not only is her very handsome, but he has
continued to speak up in Hollywood when others in his industry shied away from racial issues. I consider him dreamy and woke.

Find out more here!

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Meet The Evoluer House!

What comes to life with a mixture of  BOLD, POWERFUL + simply UNSTOPPABLE teen girls? The Evoluer House! This innovative and  dynamic nonprofit organization, delivers empowerment programs that help girls to envision a future devoid of disadvantages and filled with possibilities. Reaching  girls of color in Philadelphia ages 13 to 18, The Evoluer House  curriculums are designed to promote emotional, mental, and social well-being. It equips girls with the tools they need to become college-bound and career-ready.

Founder and Executive Director of The Evoluer House, Cheryl Ann Waldington, has been on a mission to advance all of girl kind! As a former national fashion and beauty journalist, she is an influential global change agent and leading consultant in the field of personal growth. Cheryl is an accomplished writer, television personality and sought-after motivational speaker, who has reached millions of people with her advice and perspective through media outlets as Vogue, Elle, Self, Life & Style, Lucky, C-Span and Glo.com. Her passions unfold in inspiring  youth and making a positive and lasting imprint on their lives!

Let’s get to know Cheryl Waldington + The Evolouer House a little better…

Evoluer House empowers young African American girls in the Philadelphia area through different curriculum and professional development, what made you launch this powerful organization?

I founded The Evoluer House 12 years ago because I believe every girl deserves the best opportunity to achieve her dreams, regardless of what zip code she is born in; and I was also aware that girls of color experience a unique set of social and emotional challenges and barriers to success in the U.S.. So I decided to take action to address those challenges and expand opportunities for marginalized girls for color. Our mission is to equip the most underserved and hardest-to-reach girls in Philadelphia with essential tools to become college-bound and career-ready, thus breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty. Our organization has served over 1,200 teen girls of color, and I am very proud that 100% of Evoluer House graduates finish high school on time and go on to attend a four-year college or other forms of post-secondary education. Many of them have earned advance degrees.

Being a voice in the community motivates others to be great, what type of programs and events does Evoluer House host?

The Evoluer House offers two 8-week programs (the Youth Workforce Development and Evoluer Personal Development Programs), that encourage girls to think bigger, dream higher and be the best that they can be—women of character who are motivated to lead both personally and professionally.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

My parents and brother are my inspiration. They instilled in me the belief that I don’t have to be like everybody else—to be myself—which has served as my foundation. This helped launch my career in fashion as a journalist and image consultant and instilled in me values that charted my life and defined success for me. They also underscored my responsibility to help others along the way and never let me forget that God is the rock upon which I stand.

If you had to give one piece of advice to teen girls who are struggling with being comfortable in their own skin, what would it be?

You can indeed be whatever you want to be. Tune out anyone who tells you otherwise. Sing your own song in your own key and groove to your own beat. Dream big and learn to live life FEARLESSLY.

Working with youth both parties learn from each other, what’s one trait you have learned from working with your girls?

I am thrilled to see girls throughout the country speaking up for their rights and taking an active role in making a difference in their community and beyond. They also understand the importance of empowering each other; and they’re inspired to change the world in big and small ways.

We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you and your organization?

Girls deserve a world where they can be proud and unapologetic with the right to express her culture however she defines it, without judgment. To hear our graduates describe how Evoluer House helped them find the confidence to achieve their goals, this is what we know for sure: “An empowered girl will stay healthy. Save money. Build a business. Empower her community. Lift her country. Change the world.”

Fun Faves!
Holding “court” with my girls.
Weight lifting

Fave Food?
Anything healthy

Artist? Song?
Right now I’m loving: Andra Day: “I Rise Up” and Kelly Price: “It’s My Time.”

Find out more about The Evoluer House here:
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Meewha Bell X Maria Miller!

Dreaming about diving into the fast-paced industry of fashion? Well, you’re in luck! Our teen writer Maria had a chance to pick the mind of the creative Meewha Bell who has carved out her path in the inspirational field of fashion, style + art.  See the gems of wisdom Meewha left behind with Maria after they chatted it up in NYC!

Who influenced you to choose this particular career path?

I can’t say one particular person influenced me. When I was going to college I didn’t know what I wanted to do and waited until the last minute to declare my major. Then when I declared it, it was too vague so when I graduated I still didn’t know what to do. At the time I had worked a lot in fashion and it became a passion of mine so I decided to pursue a career in fashion. So it wasn’t one particular person or thing that influenced me. It was more of me following my instincts and what I felt was right for me.

What do you love the most about Product Development and Design Innovation?

I like being creative. As a product developer you are the liaison. You are the business designer. You work heavily with the design. They bring ideas, designs, concepts and sketches to you. Then we work with everyone to bring them a product. After that we go through the edits and necessary changes. My absolute favorite part, however, is developing the design.

meewha2

You had 3 internships, two in London and one in Paris. Which did you like the most? And which did you learn the most from?

I liked them both. They were both very different. The one in Paris was for a black designer originally from Chicago . He was in charge of the specialty collection for a small company called Lee Cooper. Working with them I was the design assistant. It was very hands on, which is something I loved because I got to be really creative. In London it was very different. It was more corporate and big scale. I made a lot of good connections, but it wasn’t as hands on. However, I built a really good relationship with our designer so I exposed myself to a lot of design projects. I put myself out there. I saw how big corporations would run their office. I learned the most from the London internship because I learned the importance of building relationships. I went from a little intern to an assistant manager. I learned that in order to succeed you really need to get out of your comfort zone.

What would be your dream company to work with at the moment and why?

A small company, but also a company that focuses on the artistry of fashion. I would love to work with companies like Marchesa which specializes in beautiful gowns. There is also a designer based in Greece who is amazing. He makes a lot of beautiful gowns and he recently started doing ready to wear that are based off his evening wear collection. They are interesting looking ready to wear dresses that you could wear in the daytime. Those are definitely two companies/people who I would love to work with.

meewha3

Do you someday hope to have your own company?

I’d love to have my own company. If you’d ask me this five years ago or when I graduated college I would have said absolutely not. There’s pros and cons of having your own business, but after being in the fashion industry– in the job market period– and seeing how much time I put into work, I realized I really have to love what I’m doing. And what better way to love what I’m
doing if I’m doing it for myself. What’s the point of putting all your time and energy into something, just to make someone else’s dream come true. It’s definitely a lot of responsibility, but
it’s your baby. If your company is successful than so are you and everyone who helped create it.
But if something doesn’t go according to plan, then it’s your money and hard work gone to
waste. However, at the end of the day if you love what you’re doing it won’t even feel like work.

Has your minor in African, Black and Caribbean studies helped your career?

I don’t think it necessarily helped me in the design aspect, but it definitely helped me in the people, management and relationship aspect. In business you have to know how to deal with people. This minor helped me understand different people and the importance of understanding
different cultures.

Has there been a moment where you believed this career would be impossible to achieve or that you should try to pursue a different career path?

meewha5Many times. There was one specific moment where I felt like pursuing something different. The evolution of my job at that location had me thinking that maybe this wasn’t the right career for me. I wanted to be really creative all the time not just some of the time. I wanted to be be heavily involved in both the creative and business process. I like having my opinion heard. I like giving influential feedback and at the time I wasn’t expected to give my opinion so no one would ask me. It was incredibly frustrating on my part because I have a background in business. Some of the things they were doing didn’t sit well with me, but I had no say in the matter. I needed a different position or a different industry which is something I later realized.

If you had a chance to go back and do something different in your career, what would it be and why?

I definitely would have stayed overseas to explore more, but that’s pretty much it. All my bumps in the road have led me to where I’m now and everything has been a learning experience for me so I don’t really regret anything.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I’m going back to school and majoring in graphic design. I was torn between the graphic and fashion design, but the more I talked to people in both industries I felt graphic was the right place for me. It was something different. It was also something I feel I could tie back to the fashion industry. Many of my friends in the fashion field have told me I don’t need a degree in fashion. I personally know after taking classes in fashion that I like it enough to teach it to myself. I want to pursue something new.

Many people believe fashion design is one particular field. That there are not other areas to tap into. If that’s true, could you give examples of what you could do if you’re not actually designing in the fashion field?

There’s a lot of different avenues and ways to be creative. It all depends on what you like and are good at. We have fashion marketing,PR, technical design and so many other options. It’s also up to the company and its role. One thing I did learn is that you don’t necessarily have to be an artist to be in the fashion field. That was actually one of the reservations. I’m no artists and there are definitely some designers who can’t draw, but have great ideas. It’s all about finding ways to communicate your ideas and working with people who could draw.

If you had to give advice to any young person who might be interested in the fashion industry what advice would it be?

There are ways around things you may think you are not good at and could potentially stop you from succeeding in a particular industry. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to know what you’re good at and use that to your advantage. Be confident. Whatever you do, you will learn something. Whether it’s by hitting and missing or succeeding, it doesn’t hurt to just go for it.

 

Interview by Maria Miller

Featured Girl Of The Week!

Name: Semhar Solomon

Age: 17

City: New York City

Grade: SENIOR

 

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What is your dream job and why?
My dream job would have to be a pre-teens counselor. I love working with kids and acting as a support system for them. I know what it’s like to form a great bond with a counselor/mentor and I want other kids to have that experience.

Which hobbies do you enjoy?
Some of my favorite things to do would have to be binge watching old t.v series on netflix, listening to music (R&B and hip-hop), and shopping.

Who is your biggest crush?
My biggest crush would have to be Jesse Williams, A.K.A Dr. Jackson Avery from Grey’s Anatomy!

What’s your fave song to jam out to right now?
Right now my favorite song would have to be Caroline by Aminé.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about the world it would have to be the new president of the United States. I wish Obama could have stayed in office forever.

What does Empowerment mean to you?
To me Empowerment means realizing one’s strength and confidence. Using that power to positively voice any issues or concerns.

What are your plans after high school?
After High School I plan on going to away for college, preferably to an HBCU but I’ll be keeping an open mind about that.

Who is your role model and why?
My role model would have to be Madam C. J. Walker. This woman was an African American entrepreneur and was the first self-made millionaire. Walker started off with nothing and built an empire selling hair products. Being both black and a woman definitely made it harder but she didn’t let that stop her future success. If she can do all of that in the early 1900s I feel I can do anything I set my mind to.

How have you helped someone in your life lately?
I’ve recently been busy helping a close friend plan her 18th birthday party, which I believe should turn out to be a huge success!

Teen Talk! Maria Miller x Victoria Pannell

Interview + article by Maria Miller

If you’re passionate about something go for it! Don’t let age or what people may think stop you. That’s something I learned from the brilliant Victoria Pannell who has done so much for not only her community, but for people everywhere whether its directly or indirectly. At such a young age she has accomplished so much and she has only gotten started. Tools for Change is a growing organization that will only get bigger especially since it’s in such capable hands. Want to start your own organization? What are you waiting for, go ahead and do it. Want to make a change in your community? It’s possible, I know you can do it. Just remember it doesn’t take a village to make something happen, all it takes is one dedicated person.

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What is Tools for Change and what was the reason that you started it?
I started Tools for Change, because you can not tell young people to have hope when all they see is bleakness in their future. They need tools to have a better future. They need state IDs, passports, bank accounts, jobs and financial literacy. They need to learn to use social media as an effective networking tool. They need to know that money for college will be there for them. They need an organization that will supply the necessities to help achieve their goals. This is where Tools For Change comes in.


Please share where you see Tools for Change in the next couple of years.
Because I am getting ready to go to college, I would love to start a chapter wherever I am at. I want Tools For Change to expand into chapters all around the country. I also would like to have my own building.

When did you realize that you wanted to do something for your community and why?
I was the youngest volunteer in a hurricane Katrina relief effort and seeing so many homes destroyed made me realize I wanted to help people in general. I didn’t know in what area I wanted to help in yet, but I knew I wanted to do something for others.

How do you manage your time between Tools for Change, school and all your extracurricular activities?
It’s really hard and I barely get any sleep. The only way I handle all of it is by incorporating everything. I look at everything as the same thing, under the same umbrella which makes things a lot easier. The school I attend is also very socially aware and active so I get to discuss Tools for change with them. And even though I mostly keep to myself, the two or three friends I have help me out with everything. Keeping a calendar, which is a little nerdy, not only helps me remember things, but it also keeps me organized.

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Did being on the show Law and Order- SVU bring out any acting passions you might have or was it purely done to bring attention to the issue of sex trafficking?
I’m actually a professional actor since age four and it’s something I really enjoy. I get the opportunity to meet so many people and celebrities. Acting gave me the chance to build my craft, dive into different characters, and it was a great boost to see more of life. And although it’s fun, I have moved away from acting now that I’m older and moving into something I want to pursue in life.

Could you share with us how shutting down Lil Wayne’s music came about?
I work with the Emmett Till foundation and try to keep his name alive by going to schools and telling people his story. Emmett Till had allegedly flirted with a white woman, so her husband and his half brother beat, tortured, and dumped him in a river. Lil Wayne came out with a song comparing the beating of a woman’s female parts to the beating of Emmett till. The Till foundation had reached out to me so I could help them do something since I was young and I could reach out to other young people. Therefore, I reached out Mountain dew through social media and after 24 hours they contacted me with the news that they were suspending the tour he was doing using that same song. I was thanked for my work and received a letter. That day I realized that my voice had power and could make a change. I learned that young people can do whatever they put their minds to and we shouldn’t let others say that we can’t do something.

How did you feel knowing some of Lil Wayne’s followers might verbally attack you?
I didn’t care. I go head first into an issue without caring what people think or how they will feel about it. I knew people who are Lil Wayne’s fan, but I simply didn’t care. I felt that what I was saying was more important than what people might think or them bashing me. I’m going to tell you how I feel without letting others stopping me.

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Have you encountered people that have doubted you or believed you to be too young or naive to actually help? If so, how did you deal with it?
Being the youngest member on the community board is a lot of pressure because several of the members have been serving on the board for 10 years or more. They look at me as if I don’t know what I’m doing which is quite frankly pretty intimidating, but I always have to remind myself that I’m here for a reason and a purpose. I know what I’m doing and talking about. I face people who doubt me all the time and the best thing to do is know your worth because people are going bash you and not support you, but you have to support yourself. If you don’t you won’t make it far.

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Who is your idol or role model and why?
Even though my mother can get on my nerves, she is most definitely my role model. She has encouraged me to do things and taught me lessons that I will always carry with me. She has taught me to know my worth and value which is so important because a lot of young people let others walk all over them and tell them what they can and can’t do. She always tells me to stand up for myself and my beliefs because people will try to push me down. I learned to stand by people who believe and support me and that I shouldn’t be too quick to trust.

What is something you would tell other young adults who want to help the community like you have but don’t know how to start?
Identify an issue that is important to you and stays on your mind no matter what it is. Then do your research and find out everything you can about your cause. You don’t want others to say “you’re an activist, but don’t know what you’re talking about”. After you have done that, start working with other organizations that support your cause until you decide you want to start an organization yourself. One of the most important things you could do is know the benefits of social media. Used appropriately, it can be your best friend which is why it’s so important to keep your page clean.

Find out more about Tools For Change here!