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Natural In The Age Of BBL…

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Health/Beauty, Latest | by — September 15, 2021

Natural Beauty In The Age Of BBL

Written by Naya Solomon

BBL Problems. BBL Behavior. The BBL Effect. DO any of these phrases ring a bell?

A couple monthss back, a viral video had Twitter in pretty high spirits- the clip showed a line of recent BBL patients looking to board planes as wheelchair passengers. Accompanied by lighthearted tweets from account owner @MuvaofGotti, stating things like, “-it’s 28 wheelchairs coming off this flight from DR and Delta losing their minds-” the internet found it hilarious, ridiculing the seemingly innumerable women lined up like dominoes after subjecting themselves to the same  procedure.

A few others chimed in to express their mild concern, disbelief, and comedic sentiments for the surgeons responsible for making these women’s dreams come true. That following month, another twitter user came forward with a surprising letter from an unnamed Hotel, expressing their inability to accommodate so many post-operative stays.

It seems we as a people have reached an emotional impasse in regards to the BBL(Brazillian Butt Lift) Epidemic that has very clearly taken the country and its impressionable young women by storm. Despite its lighthearted presence online, what goes on beneath the surface is a bit more sinister.

As successful surgical videos circulate online and grace the eyes of young girls, teens, and women trapped in the house and online, we have to wonder what the effect of all this one-sided media will have.

Tiktok has given us “The BBL Effect,” an insanely popular trend started by creator @Antonibumba poking fun at the caricature that is the young woman with a bbl- she’s a socialite that uses apple pay at the deli. She drinks with a straw even though it’s bad for her lip-filler. She needs all her clothes altered. With her lips pursed and hair tossed over her shoulder, she is the moment. See: Kylie Jenner and Stassie Baby types. We see young people of all sorts imitating their favorite bbl-toting baddies.

Antonio’s latest video under the tag very casually addresses the viral tweets, suggests they be safe if planning to undergo the surgery, and almost quickly enough to dismiss it, mentions that the procedure was giving “life threatening vibes,” noting that their aunt died from one only six months prior.

The threat that bbl’s pose on the body is easily overlooked when the culture makes it palatable and popular. Now, no shade to Antonio they’re hilarious and we love and appreciate our black content creators- but this is an excellent example of how something so serious can become trivialized.

“BBL surgery” in the tiktok search bar will show you hundreds of patients documenting their experiences, some as young as nineteen years old- an age at which the body hasn’t finished developing.

So many of us have been online for so long we’ve forgotten how to log off. When faced with other women on social media so frequently, we forget that everything is strategically planned, our bodies are posed, our hair is coiffed, and nothing is ever as it seems. Naturalness isn’t a crime. Our perceptions of what is beautiful and attainable has been skewed by social media stunts and capitalistic endeavors. If lots of people make something popular, society begins to cater to it. As this surgery gained massive popularity, terms like “BBL Fashion” were coined, and it was suddenly easy to see what kinds of stores have always catered to the unattainable looks that wear on our confidence: Fashion Nova, Pretty Little Thing, clothes pulled tightly on mannequins shaped like coke bottles.

It’s painfully easy to fall victim to insecurity when society makes it palatable, but it’s not the only route to take. Perhaps it’s time we looked past our insecurities and at who and what preys on them. There’s nothing wrong with you at all, and there never was.

~ By Naya Solomon

Meet Tommyleei Skaggs!

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Feature, Latest | by — August 27, 2021

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“You Are ART.”  The motto that artist Tahlei Skaggs aka Tommyleei lives by and infuses in each vision of her creative masterpieces! Shaking up society and shredding standards; her belief of staying true to herself is the compass that guides her artwork. Hailing from Mcdonugh, Georgia; Tommyleei is an inspiration to be unapologetically bold while spreading the message of standing in your truth without the world’s approval!
 
Let’s get to know Tommylei a little better…
 
 
Your artwork is bold, powerful + beautifully unapologetic! What inspired to start your path of creating art?
What inspired my path to creating art was definitely my father. Although he was murdered when I was 5 I still had memories of him being a very creative person and me being as young as I was I looked up to him. I aspired to be like him but still in my own way. He was more musically talented and had a way with words but he could also draw. I however enjoy my artistic talents more when it comes to drawing and painting but I too have the gift of words as he did with poetry.
 
You infuse your fresh style and captivating art into wearable materpieces, what does fashion + style mean to you when it comes to expressing your vibe?
Fashion and style to me is a visual representation of your personality. It is a part of who you are and it can also be used to display messages. Like things, you believe in or stand with and again that is also a big part of who you are as a person. To me fashion and style is way deeper than the latest trend or a piece of clothing; it definitely tells a story about who you are personally. 
 

What inspires your art + your creative flow? 
And how do you get out of a creative rut? 
What inspires my creative flow mainly is music or beats. I always listen to music when creating and based off the genre I’m listening to determines how the piece will turn out. It even carves out the vibe the piece will bring out of my targeted audience. It may even determine what that audience is. But also what inspires my creative flow is my want for change in things we currently deal with in society.
 
Most of my art is about being true to yourself, loving yourself and being  comfortable enough to live and speak your truth. A lot of people really struggle with that due to the false teachings of society.  I encourage positive things like accepting everything about yourself rather than what society chooses to only accept about you.  That is also how I get out of a creative rut. I think about what I may be going through personally or something I want to advocate for that will have a positive change on society.
 
 
“You are art” is your motto, which we love! What does that mean to you?
You are art means you are a masterpiece. No matter what you look like, where you come from, what you’ve been through; you are art. Art tells a story and everyone has a story and just like art is appreciated and cherished by many; so are you even if you don’t know that or see it at first.
 
Currently, so many people chase the  ‘same look’ or try to ‘fit into the same box’, how do you stay true to yourself?
Staying true to myself has never been a problem for me. I have always done my own thing. I never really liked to follow trends or beauty standards like most people and because of that I was always considered weird or lame until it became a trend to be yourself. Then everyone around me considered me an “inspiration”. But I stay true to myself by simply being myself and not allowing what other people say affect how I choose to be or live.
 
A great example of this would be the fact that I just recently shaved all my hair off and it was because I love the skin I’m in I know I am beautiful inside and out and that I don’t need hair in order to be considered beautiful. I’m not scared to try new things and that’s a major part of how I remain true to myself. 
 
 
What advice would you give others who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
The advice I would give to those who want to follow their dreams is to never give up. It’s easier said than done. Trust me, I swear I know because as I’m giving this advice I am also talking to myself. It’s so easy to get discouraged when you keep trying time after time and it seems like you’re not making any progress or that you’re not going anywhere with it but in reality you really are.
 
Everything you’re experiencing when you’re at your lowest is preparing you for how to move when you finally reach it to the top so that you can remain at the top. It’s ok to get discouraged, frustrated and cry it out. Take time for yourself but then get back up and keep going because you’re one step closer than you are behind. 
 
Time for faves! Music? Food?  
I don’t have a favorite genre of music I’m opened to all music based on how it makes me feel when I hear it really. Favorite food is Food period I love to eat lol. 
 
Follow Tommylei and get your dose of creativity:
 
 

All-Nighters? Think Again…

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Twenty four hours. That’s how much time we have in one day to do everything that needs to get done. And sure, that seems like a lot at first, but once you’ve realized how many things you actually need to do, twenty four hours a day just seems insufficient. That being said, a lot of people, myself,  included, focus on knocking tasks off their list and begin to discard items deemed “unimportant” like sleep.

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Multiple scientists have stated many times that the minimum amount of sleep needed in order to function correctly is somewhere between seven to nine hours. Now, you may be saying, Well, I have other things to do! Homework to catch up on, and people to talk to; I don’t have seven hours to spare!” But you see, that’s the issue right there. The moment you tell yourself you don’t have the time for it, you start thinking you don’t need it, and that is not true… at all. Sleep is basically what your body uses to recharge, kind of like how you plug in your phone so that it doesn’t die. Much like a phone–or any other piece of technology really–the body begins to shut down or become sluggish when it’s battery starts to shut down. There’s many things that can happen if you don’t get the right amount of sleep. 

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It’s very important to sleep, not just because of the effects that it has on your body and mental health now, but because of what it can do to you in the long term. For example, sleep deprivation has been linked to hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as obesity, diabetes, melancholy, and anxiety. It has also been linked to diminished brain function, memory loss, a weakened immune system, lower fertility rates, and psychiatric illnesses, it can even cause skin problems! On top of this, the risk of being involved in a car accident also increases. You see, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving causes almost 100,000 traffic collisions each year, resulting in more than 1,500 deaths and 70,000 injuries. Sleep is something that, simply put, you absolutely need. Which is why keeping a sleep schedule is so important!

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One of the best ways for this to happen is to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. This might sound hard to do, especially if you’re the kind of person that usually has a very hectic and uneven schedule with classes. But, the easiest solution to this problem is simply to allow yourself to shorten the list of things you have to do in one day. It’s okay to feel stressed or anxious with the amount of things you need to get done, but what isn’t okay is to give up your health because it seems “unimportant”. 

Your health, and sleep, are two things that aren’t worth the bargain.

Teen blogger, Claudia Lopez

Meet Tales Of The Text Podcast

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Feature, Latest | by — July 27, 2021

Jumping on the subway? Melanin glistening on the beach? Relaxing in your room? Well, we’re giving you the best soundtrack and dose of entertainment that can keep up with your full summertime agenda through Tales Of The Text podcast!

Tales Of The Text is scripted short fiction stories filled with drama, secrets, and plot twists marinated in Black teen and college culture. This addictive podcast will literally have you attached to your headphones with its spicy surprises, relatable voices and jaw-dropping scenarios.

Creator Joi Mitchell  launched this brilliant and authentic space for black teen + young adult stories to be heard all over the world. Based in Southside Chicago, her platform allows teen voice actors and writers to explore their creativity dipped in every day realities.

Let’s get to know Joi + Tales Of A Text podcast a little more…

From dating to peer pressure to drama, Tales of The Text Podcast gives such genuine lens of what goes on in high school/college on a daily basis! What made you first want to launch the podcast?

I was listening to a podcast about entrepreneurship when I literally popped up and thought, “How can I incorporate what I love which is music (having worked in the music business during the golden era of hip hop the late 90s early 2000s), working with teens, the art of storytelling, and production.” In addition to  asking, “Why isn’t there a podcast that tells authentic uncensored stories relatable to Black teens with a chat at the end?” At the time I had no idea that what I was describing was a scripted audio fiction podcast mixed with a host chat segment. Who knew? lol The next step was to run my idea by the audience I wanted to serve so I sent a text to teens Shay, Taylor, and Cameron (they are all in college now) to get their thoughts. I pitched the concept with the name and when they said YES the rest is history. 

We love the “After The Text” portion where the teens give their honest feedback + relate to each story, where does the inspo come from when creating the storyline for each podcast?

I’m so glad that you connected with After The Text! Story inspiration comes from my crazy imagination and more importantly the lives of teens and young adults. As a former educator who has been humbly blessed to be on the “guest list” of some teens and young peoples lives, I listen to them and I hear them with purpose. For example, our most popular episode is Accidentally Crushin’ and all but 1 of the 5 episodes was written by a young teen and they were based on her real life relationship where she caught feelings for her best friend and the journey they experienced. I also research writing prompts and work with our screenwriters to remix the prompts to include the Black teen/YA experience.

(Joi Mitchell, Creator of Tales of the Text Podcast)

Relationships, friendships + situationships pop up in different ways throughout the stories which we know is a major part of life;  how important is being able to know when someone is a good fit for you whether it’s in dating or trusting your friends?

This can be tricky because we all present our representative in the beginning of any relationship/friendship and we have to remember that none of us are perfect. How in the ever, there are 3 things I think you should pay attention to in order to maintain your sanity as you navigate the world of all the ‘ships’. 🙂

1) A friend should not be trying to sabotage your other friendships nor your relationship with Bae. This can get messy and is just not worth all the drama that ensues. 2)Remember that you want a friend who genuinely has your best interest at heart. Make note that it’s more important to watch what people do vs. what they say. Ladies this transfers to potential Bae too. 3) Lastly, ask yourself how does this person make me feel and do they add positivity or negativity to my life. I had a beautiful “let’s catch up” conversation with a teen and she mentioned that she realized breaking up with her boyfriend was necessary because he was a drag on her life and that’s not the direction she’s headed.

Adults focus on the stress of classes BUT oftentimes forget that so much stress of being in high school/college is trying to navigate your personal + social life. What made you want to highlight the social aspect? And how can you stay true to yourself during these years?

I was an instructor for an After School program for several years and I realized quickly that the social aspect of a teen’s life is a form of escape and entertainment. My overall goal with Tales Of The Text Podcast is to be a form of edutainment that takes the listeners to a place filled with fun, risque, relatable stories made just for their ears. As for staying true to yourself during the high school years I would say that it’s ok to feel awkward at times.

I suggest keep a journal, follow your heart, NEVER try to be like someone else, surround yourself with dope and different friends who challenge you, learn to laugh at yourself, use the social media platforms that best fit your personality and although it can be hard, try not to compare yourself to others because honestly most people, including celebrities, are posting a highlight reel of their lives. No one is really sharing the whole truth. Lastly, trust me when I say that it does get better and if you as a teen are not feeling good about yourself PLEASE ask for help. 

Do you feel like black teen stories + experiences get shared enough in an authentic way on mainstream media?

I honestly don’t think there are enough black teen stories/experiences being shared via the mainstream media or in the world of podcasting. Black teens like Black people overall are not monolithic. We all like different things and have different experiences while at the same time there is something beyond special about our Blackness that connects us. I’ve personally noticed that some of the teens I know , due to quarantine, are bingeing shows like Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and Gossip Girl. My job is to figure out how to produce similar audio fiction stories through the lens of Black teens.

What advice would you give a teen who has the interest of storytelling? What’s a good way to get started?

Ok I’m going to admit something… I’m not a writer but I work with some of the dopest young writers ever and what I’ve discovered is that you just have to start. That means writing short stories with NOTES on your phone. Research young authors/writers on social media and DM them to collab on a project.  Ask yourself what you want to write about and why? Is it fiction or non fiction? Are you interested in beauty, fashion, hair, history, music, entertainment, food, politics and more. DM your favorite author and ask them for an informational interview. (I can explain that in more detail through email)

I created #tuesdaytexttales which are messy creative fiction stories written by teens and/or college students. They can write about anything they want or I’ll provide them a scenario and they build the story from that. I’m accepting applications and we do pay per story. Lastly, consider sharing your stories through a podcast which you can literally record on your phone. The possibilities are endless!

 Listen Here:

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Tales of the Text

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Beauty Line-Up: Amanda

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Health/Beauty, Latest | by — June 22, 2021

 Scroll through the Beauty Line-Up of New Jersey-based beauty content creator, Amanda!

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What’s your name + city you live in?

Amanda Roberts, Camden, NJ
 
Beauty is all about being comfortable in your own skin + expressing your vibe. What are 2 beauty trends you’re loving this year?
 
Glowy makeup, not like the highlighter glow but the good skincare glow. I’m also really into pastel or colorful eyeliner and mascara.

If you had only 15 seconds to grab 3 beauty products, what would they be?

Glossier future dew, Elf wow brow, Milk makeup blur liquid.

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Beauty inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate beauty icon OR what inspires your makeup looks + why? 

My ultimate beauty icon is Yara Shahidi. I love how fun and youthful her makeup looks are!

How does your makeup reflect your personal style?

I’m very laid back. I love natural beauty so I try to keep my look fresh and simple. My goal typically is to look moisturized. Sometimes when I’m feeling adventurous, I like to add a cute detail like a sparkly lid, freckles, or pastel eyeliner.

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What’s one beauty must-have that lives in your bag?

One beauty must-have in my bag is my sunscreen. It makes a perfect primer & base for makeup, protects my skin, & is the secret to that beautiful glow. I really like the brand Black Girl Sunscreen.

What’s your number 1 beauty rule?

Always remove your makeup before going to bed!

Follow more of Amanda’s beauty + style tips here:
 
 

On The Trend Of Summer…

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — June 13, 2021

Since last summer didn’t go as planned, we are excited to be (safely) outside this summer. Chilling by the pool, get-togethers with friends, day trips, and any outdoor activity is what your summer bucket list should consist of. And while you’re taking a break from your summer reading list, here are some things that will be popping up on your timeline all season. Take notes!

Summer Fashion Trend | Matching two-piece sets will keep you looking on point this season. Whether a pant or skirt set, it will give off a put-together look. Plus, it makes finding an outfit easy. All you need to add are accessories!

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Summer Beauty Trend | Grab your edge control because baby hairs are one of the latest beauty trends happening. Whether you like them swooped back in a perfect formation or elaborately decorated around your forehead, just know the key is a perfect wrist motion.

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Binge-Worthy Series | Of course, festivities will be going on all summer, but take a rainy Friday night to binge-watch Cruel Summer. This drama-thriller, told over a span of three different years follows a young girl who went missing, but who knows the real story of what actually happened? It will make you crave more.

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Music Pick | It’s safe to say Rihanna isn’t putting out music anytime soon so in the meantime take a listen to Dj Khaled’s new album Khaled Khaled. We can always count on Khaled bringing the summer vibes and the best artists on a record to collab. Another one!

Book Pick | Moth to a Flame is the perfect addition to your summer reading list. This fictional drama follows a young girl who is forced to choose between love and loyalty. Like a moth is drawn to a flame, she knows choosing love will be the death of her.

~ Tia Banks, Content Editor

Style Line-Up: Azaila

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Fashion, Latest | by — May 11, 2021

 

Scroll through the Style Line-Up of Philly-based fashion-lover, Azaila!

 
 
What’s your name, age + the city you’re from?
Azaila, I’m 16 years old, I am from Philadelphia!
 
Style is showing who you are without having to speak! If you had to line-up your top 3 trends you’re feeling this season what would they be?
Long skirts! Cardigans, and Knee-High socks!! They are the cutest fashion trend I adore so much!
 
Describe your style in 3 words:
I think my clothes are described as Bright, Colorful, and Child-like!
 
 
Style inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate fashion icon + why?
My fashion icon is @fionnaleigh! I have been following her for almost two years now! I have always loved the “Soft-girl” aesthetic she goes for, and she inspired me to be confident in what I wear and the clothes I like.
 
Getting ready in the morning can be fun but stressful if you’re in a time crunch, what’s your go-to outfit if you’re in a rush?
Omg!! I always try to plan my outfits the night before! But, If I fall asleep or forget I go for my light blue angelic mingalondon dad jeans, a plain tank top, a cute-stylish cardigan, and vans! For hair, I will either leave it in a bun or two pigtail braids!
 
 
What’s your number 1 rule when it comes to style?
My number 1 rule when it comes to fashion is to wear something that really makes you feel comfortable and confident. I love dressing up!! And when I wear something that I find is cute or stylish, I feel so confident in myself and feel really comfortable. Also platforms!! You can never go wrong them, they also just make me feel 10x more confident in what I am wearing!
 
Follow more of Azaila’s style here:
 

Healthy Habits? The Struggle?

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Health/Beauty, Latest | by — March 30, 2021

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By Teen Blogger: Claudia Lopez

Healthier Habits, Healthier Life

Being healthier is perceived as a very difficult task sometimes. Well, to tell you the truth leading a healthier life isn’t as hard as it seems. One of the easiest ways to lay the foundation for a more wholesome life is by creating healthy habits. 

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Being healthy is a lifestyle. So your habits just don’t necessarily have to be about “eating healthier” all the time. It could be to start a self-care routine, clean your room every morning, or even simply to read books! 

The best way to create habits is to start off with small goals. For example, if your goal is eating better, you can simply start by eating three meals a day and drinking lots of water! Then as time passes, slightly increase your goal to switch out the not-so-healthy foods with better options. When creating these habits it is crucial that you don’t just jump right into the deep end of things.

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 You also need to make sure to give yourself a break. If you break the cycle of your habits that is okay! Don’t give yourself a hard time for being human. Just make sure you get back up and start again where you left off. This is important because if your habits begin to cause you stress or makes you feel bad, you more than likely will quit altogether.

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Good habits are essential for our day-to-day lives. Once you have gotten used to the feeling of doing them, it will come natural to you!

Teen blogger, Claudia Lopez

Follow more of Claudia HERE

Style Line-Up: Avery!

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Fashion, Latest | by — March 16, 2021

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Scroll through the Style Line-Up of Tulsa-based fashion-lover + blogger, Avery!

What’s your name, age + the city you’re from?

Hey y’all! My name is Avery, I’m 18 (soon to be 19) and I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Style is showing who you are without having to speak! If you had to lineup your top 3 trends you’re feeling this season what would they be?

Neutrals are probably my favorite trend from the winter, especially brown and grey since they’re such versatile colors. Besides that, I really live for collars under sweatshirts for that ultra preppy look, and I love plaid shackets (shirt/jacket-hybrid).

Describe your style in 3 words:

I would describe my style as feminine, fresh, and ever-changing because I’m always shopping for the newest trends!

Style inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate fashion icon + why?

My ultimate fashion icons are easily Blackpink. I love their onstage wardrobe SO much. Their outfits really embody a good mix of masculinity and femininity, and their individual styles always complement one another. I want to raid their closets so bad!!

Getting ready in the morning can be fun but stressful if you’re in a time crunch, what’s your go-to outfit if you’re in a rush?

Hmm..my go-to currently would probably be my white turtleneck, ripped mom jeans, white forces with white socks, topped off with a gold necklace + hoops.

What’s your number 1 rule when it comes to style?

My number one rule is to wear what you want as long as you’re comfortable. Somebody is always going to have something to say about your clothes, whether you wear what you want or not. So just do what you want with your fits anyways. Life is short!

Follow Avery here!

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Meet Designer Tori Nichel!

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Feature, Latest | by — February 16, 2021

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(Interview by teen bloggers: A’Yanna Rouse, Sidney Charlemagne + Kiarra Charlemagne)

Tori Nichel is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who has carved out a major lane for herself in the fashion industry! Growing up in Detroit Michigan and throughout her childhood, she had a passion for fashion and sketching. After dedicating her time apprenticing with a retired designer, she later attended Michigan State University and Fashion Institute of Technology where she earned multiple degrees in Fashion Design. She went on to design and played pivotal roles in the fashion industry such as Senior Designer at Kenneth Cole and Head Designer at Tibi. She was also a contestant on NBC’s hot show, Fashion Star where she competed against other talented designers.

Having a passion of expressing herself, Tori launched her own business and label that represents her style and aesthetics!

She is currently also the Design Director for Kohl’s New York Design Office, she has led design teams to collaborate with numerous brands and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez. 

 Although she is one of the few African Americans in her position, she is committed to paving the way for the next generation of Black design talent through coaching, mentorship and career development.

Let’s get to know Tori a little better…

What inspired you to have a passion for the fashion community?

When I was about seven years old, I knew that I would be a fashion designer. All the women inspired me in my family; my mom was the oldest of six, which included four sisters who were all fashionable. I always chose to hang out with them because they were always shopping. I believe that this somewhat inspired me. Also, seeing pictures of my grandmother, my mom, and my aunts inspired me. They were so stylish and would wear gloves and hats while going to church which I absolutely loved.

From your website, you mention about helping the next generation and helping invent brands, what does it mean to you to uplift others and help others stand out?

I genuinely believe that you have to reach behind, pull someone with you, and pass the baton.  It is important, and many reasons why I am passionate about this is I didn’t have that trying to navigate the fashion world. No one in my family knew what to do with me in the fashion industry at all. When I got to New York, and when I got into the  industry, I realized no one looks like me. It is so important to take the learnings, the opportunities that I have been able to explore and pass that on to the next generation. I know how important it is because when I was creating my business, it was very hard, and it felt like it was only one of me. If I only had one source where I can rely on, that was only half of the battle.  I want to be that resource to give others what they need to be in their career.

I learned early the importance of building relationships and the importance of nurturing your network as well. It is also important to have representatives of black women and to make sure that we share our resources with our community and setting everyone up for a successful future.

FASHION STAR — “Sex Sells” Episode 202 — Pictured: Tori Nichel — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

What inspired you to start your business? 

I felt like the movie Mahogany! I just wanted to have my own business. I set my goal, and I achieved it, and now I think, “now what do I do?” I was very strategic in the jobs that I took because I knew that was my endgame. I had great professors and people. I would go to a lot of speaking engagements and just listen to people talk on businesses. Work for somebody and learn the in’s and out’s of that business on someone’s elses dollars before you spend your limited funds. As I got into those roles, I took on more work to learn all aspects of the industry. For my second job, I shadowed many other fields like PR, production team, etc., and it worked for four and a half years. Then I changed from a big corporation to a small company because I needed to work hands-on to learn how to start my own business. For people who know, I think I was an entrepreneur before a fashion designer. I still want to be an entrepreneur, and I think there is nothing better. If I can contribute that to my community and leave a legacy, that would be wonderful. 

What is your proudest project, and why?

My proudest project would have to be launching my namesake collection Tori Nichel.  It had always been a dream of mine ever since I was a little 7-year-old girl,  and to be able to live my dream was remarkable truly.  I sometimes still pinch myself!

What are the steps that you took to become successful and the women that you are today?

One of the things that definitely helped me at a younger age, shape myself as a designer was getting into sketching, dedication, and being curious. Although I didn’t have anyone to teach me sketching, looking at magazines definitely helped me. One thing that was very pivotal in my career was that, from high school to my junior year in college, I started apprenticing with a retired designer, model, and professor from the Art Institute in Chicago. By doing this, I learned pattern making and draping as well as professionalism. Later on, I got accepted to FIT and that foundation helped build the person I am today.

What is your advice for someone that wants to follow in your footsteps?

First and foremost, own your truth, own every ounce of that authenticity that you were given by your family, and why you are here on earth. Do not let anything stop you from achieving your goal. Show up in your truth, own who you are with any stage that you are given. Be fearless; if you don’t engage yourself and ask questions you’ll never know the opportunities that you can have. 

What are the responsibilities that you have on a daily basis?

I am the design director for Nine West at Kohls and my day usually starts around 9 in the morning. Typically I have 3 fittings a week. I also guide and present various ideas to my team at meetings for seasonal clothing so that we can receive a sign-off from our merchants and leadership. Usually, a couple of hours of my day are spent discussing details with my designers and guiding them on development. 

What qualities do you think an entrepreneur should have and why?

Passion and love. Whatever your business is, you’ve got to love it! There are going to be times where you are on top of your game and times where you are down and wondering “what did I get myself into”. You’ve got to love it because, on those harder days, your love and the passion alone is going to get you out of those hard days and back on level ground. Also it needs to feel like it’s not work because you love it so much. Hence, discipline, because as an entrepreneur you don’t have a boss, so you have to give yourself a structure and stay on track. Be curious and willing to learn as well.

Follow more of Tori’s journey here:

ToriNichel.com 

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