Being a superwoman, doesn’t mean you cannot cry sometimes.

From one brown woman, to thousands of brown girls

It’s been a while since the Strong Black Woman narrative has been exposed for its problematic nature. It robs women of the right of being vulnerable and denies the strength in vulnerability. Yet what happens when we have internalised this narrative, and it is no longer the world telling us to be strong all the time but ourselves?

Kamaria Fleary is a graduate with a Masters Degree and a Bachelors degree in Psychology. She is a millennial woman with a mission to get young women to talk about their mental health and wellbeing. Her company works to overcome regressive narratives such as the SBW by providing a series of fun and forward-thinking programs and workshops. Kamaria is passionate in helping women of colour achieve personal growth, self love and success. With her work she proves that strength comes in all different guises, and allowing ourselves to shed tears as brown women, can be as refreshing as a baptism.

Black feminism for me is saying that I do not have to choose between identifying with my race and identifying with my gender.

-Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.

I decided to create this space as it was a way to share my love for psychology and personally help people in a fun, free and de-stigmatising way. It was born from a series of conversations that I was having with various friends whom I then realised were all talking about similar struggles stemming from the black experience. Having also worked in the NHS on an in-patient psychiatric ward, it suddenly dawned on me that such smaller problems – if gone untalked about and I acknowledged – could possibly result in much more problematic mental health and wellbeing.

-What made you decide to take up a career in psychology?

It all began with me studying psychology at A-Level. I was captivated by how broad the field is and how it draws on such a range of areas from neuroscience to child development to cognition to evolution. I was pretty much interested in the vast amount of perspectives to explain how we develop and behave as human beings and how these different approaches can be used to help people in a variety of areas in their life – from relationships, to childhood trauma to mental health, to learning disability.

I remember initially wanting to be a journalist, because I loved to write, but psychology provided me with all the interesting perspectives to write and talk about. That was kind of how my blog was born – writing about my own personal growth through psychological perspectives. Then I found out that you can also earn the title of “Dr” through becoming a charted psychologist and I knew that would be convincing enough to keep my education-passionate dad happy.

-Can you give us a brief explanation on black feminism and what it means to you?

For me, black feminism is the acknowledgement of intersectionality. Intersectionality is a term coined by the wonderful Kimberle Crenshaw (whom I had an opportunity to meet at BBC 100 women’s ‘does feminism include you’ event). It is the idea that our identities are multifaceted and nobody fits into any one box. I think for a long time the perception was that you are Black first before you are a woman. These ideas emerged due to racism taking such precedence in the history of the United States, the UK and many countries around the world.

Black feminism for me is saying that I do not have to choose between identifying with my race and identifying with my gender; and acknowledging that sometimes both of those elements often interact to create a unique experience of its own. It is acknowledging that there is inequality in the feminism movement which is supposed to be about fighting for equality.

kamaria 2.jpgimage from: kamariafleary

In my programs I share these psychology research findings in a simple and fun way to help other people see that there is science to support the ideas around “black girl magic.”

-How did you find out about black feminism?

I feel like I was always aware of black feminism, but it was only in the recent few years where I felt like I discovered a name for this thing I was experiencing. I would say that I got re-introduced to it through my women of colour coffee club when I was undertaking my Masters at UCL. I was the only black person in my whole faculty and I was looking for that space to meet other Black students.

Through this club put on by the Students Union, we all talked about our experiences and I was at first puzzled by a lot of the terminology thrown about such as “intersectionality” and then I did my research for myself and discovered Kimberle Crenshaw’s work. It was also the year where Beyoncé dropped the Lemonade Album which basically gave even more meaning and understanding to everything I had been reading.

-You are very much about empowering women and ‘helping them blossom into their best selves’, you say on your website ‘it’s time to start loving you…’ how did you get there yourself?

I am still getting there to be honest! It’s an on-going project. Life will throw things at you just when you think you got it all figured out. I was always brought up to have a strong sense of pride and to value natural beauty and have a high level of self-belief. But there were times when I doubted that, there were times when I questioned myself and let the inner critic get the best of me. I learned to get here by learning to stand up for myself, by believing in who I am and knowing that I am enough in everything I do.

I got tired of the code-switching – pretending to be one person at work and one person with my loved ones. I just decided that I was going to be Kamaria 100% of the time and whoever didn’t like it – oh well that would be their problem. Reading a lot of psychology literature helped me a lot too. Especially literature surrounding ethnic identity. I wrote my dissertation on the benefits and protective elements of ethnic identification and finding that it was positively associated with academic achievement, high self-esteem and being protective against race-related stress, I knew that this was something I had to stop being so afraid of showing off in the working world.

In my programs I share these psychology research findings in a simple and fun way to help other people see that there is science to support the ideas around “black girl magic.”

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We spend far too much time worrying about working for other people and meeting all these demands and we need to put as much of that effort into ourselves.

-Mental health is still a taboo in the black community, despite many efforts to change it, how do you tackle this?

I tackle this by simply talking to people about it in such a causal or even in a fun way. In my blog I’m very open about my own self-doubt, my own worries and fears and I talk openly about how these ways of thinking had affected the way I feel about myself. I recognise that my experiences may not have had such detrimental effects on my wellbeing as per say someone suffering with schizophrenia, but it’s letting people know that we all struggle in some way that helps to break down the barriers.

Many people are surprised that I talk so honestly and openly about personal experiences and I think that is the first step in removing stigma. In the Black community the idea of being “strong” has been well intended to be a positive attribute to us, but this hasn’t allowed people the space to be human and sometimes say -“today I cannot be strong, today I need to cry, I cannot do it today or tomorrow or even next week.”

However, I do feel that in the present movement we are creating these spaces and it is only a matter of time before the stigma has to stop. I also worked for a period of time in community psychiatric services in Ghana, West Africa and it opened me up to the way that mental health stigma manifests in different ways. For some, just being a mental health professional came with its own stigma, so we can only imagine the stigma placed upon the patients.

However I do think that we do have to also recognise our resilience as a people and be proud of how much adversity we have withstood and learn more about those coping strategies in our community that have also allowed us to have a strong sense of wellbeing and determination.

-What top tips can you give our readers on how to reach the best version of themselves?

Always make time to work on you. You have to be a project for your own self. We spend far too much time worrying about working for other people and meeting all these demands and we need to put as much of that effort into ourselves. Don’t be afraid of facing those inner troubles, experiences and deep rooted feelings. Once you unpack them and acknowledge them, then you can soon work out a way of managing them.

My second piece of advice would be to find out what it is you truly value and that will inform who you are and how you respond to things that are not in alignment with your values. Once you know who you are it’s so much easier to say no to things that do not serve you and focus on engaging yourself in the things that you deserve.

My last tip is to face your fears and stop being afraid. Challenge yourself, undertake new experiences that are going to help you think differently and give you the confidence to develop your passions and yourself. I feel that fear is one of the biggest causes self-defeat and everything always comes down to mindset first and foremost.

Prelude: Jade offers her Art to the World

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Prelude;
Art portrays me exactly the way I see myself
Something of value, full of potential, adorned in light
A primary colour, in coexistence with others
I am never just one thing
But an amalgamation of many things
The perfect portrait

J C Cowans

 

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Prelude was an opportunity to invite friends, family and the curious to see my work in one room for the first time.

 

-How long have you been creating art?

I picked up my paintbrush again last summer. Before then I had experimented at school like we all do, but never even considered how fulfilling or how important painting, portraiture in particular, would become for me in the following years.

 

-What inspired the creation of Prelude?

For me, sharing is something that sits close to my heart. As artists, I feel we are challenged with the idea that we must not show anything which is unfinished or imperfect, but it’s the process of painting which leads to the end result that inspires me.

I had been going to lots of arts and culture events and kept bumping into people who expressed how much they loved my work and would ask when I was exhibiting. For me an exhibition was something only an artist could do and because it was so early on in what I now consider to be my artist journey, I had shyed away from the idea. Prelude was an opportunity to invite friends, family and the curious to see my work in one room for the first time. I also wanted to introduce a few new works from my debut art series Common Thread.

I created the Prelude piece specifically for the event, a self portrait with a stem of Iridaceae Gladiolus and a single bloom that framed my face. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa and Asia, its name derives from the Latin gladius meaning sword. The flower represents strength of character, faithfulness, sincerity, integrity and a spirit that does not give up.

New ventures shouldn’t be taken lightly and the first steps are always the hardest but I knew how passionate I was about creating a space where people could be inspired, connect with the like minded as well as have a personal experience with my pieces. It was like welcoming everyone into my art studio.

 

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image courtesy of Instagram/ @farfromjaded

 

-Why was the use of watercolours important for Prelude?

Watercolours can be manipulated in so many ways, for me they are dream to work with. I guess it’s like marmite, you either love it or hate it! The transparency and delicacy of the medium itself lends to how I view the subjects I am painting, whether muses or myself; open, honest and made up of many layers. Being able to overlay different colours is like a visual representation of the characteristics and personal traits of a human being. Sometimes these mix well, sometimes they are compatible and other times they conflict but never reject. We are who we are. Watercolour perfectly depicts that for me.

-How do you get to the stage as an artist, where you aren’t afraid of being transparent?

I have never been taught that I was perfect. But I have always been taught that this is completely and utterly okay. It’s always been easy to be transparent. But with art. I remember speaking with my friend and telling him that sharing art in a public space is like having an honest conversation with yourself in front of strangers. If poetry is feelings and thoughts spilled onto a page in the form of words, then art is the same just with colours and marks.

 

Sharing art in a public space is like having an honest conversation with yourself in front of strangers.

 

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-What do you hope people take away from your art?

I hope people, women in particular, can look at my pieces and see how beautiful we all are. That they can see their true selves, with all their layers both visible and hidden, in all their colours both dull and vibrant, that in their entirety they are invaluable.

 

Your Contribution: Adriela offers her Voice to the World

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Passion is a driving force for young dreamers, and with it they can overcome any obstacle or doubt. Adriela Inniss, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter has fought to overcome her own personal difficulties and doubt through the power of music. Her politically conscious record Inaugurated, touches on the disorienting times that we are currently facing with Trump in power. In the record Adriela channels her frustration with the election, singing “I am standing here with my hands in the air, you see yet you turn your back for my life you don’t care.” Through her empowering lyrics she proves that music can serve as an escapism from strangling affairs. Read below to find out why this 24-year-old has zero fucks left to give.

We thank you Adriela for standing in your truth and contributing your gift to the world, we hope you continue to create inspiring music.

I don’t make music to satisfy other people or with intent to touch on social issues, but because I feel strongly about these issues I will sing about it.

When did you realise music was your passion?

I’ve always had a strong love for music. I’m pretty sure I came out the womb singing. My house was always filled with music growing up, from caribbean music to pop, hip hop and jazz etc. Any genre of music you could imagine has been played in my house aside from heavy metal.

My first big recital was during first grade when I attended the Montessori school in Brooklyn New York. We had performed a selection of songs from The Sound of Music. The moment I hit the stage I knew that was where I belonged. At that moment I realized music was my passion. Although I realized music was my passion at a young age, I didn’t start taking the necessary steps to accomplish my goal until I was in college. Throughout my life I had always been diffident when it came to my voice. I was never afraid to tell anyone how much I loved singing and that I would be a star one day, but as soon as they put me on the spot I would shy away giving every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t sing right now. A lot has has changed since then.       

Do you have a particular routine that you undergo in your writing process?

I do have a routine when it comes to my writing process.  It all starts with finding the right beat. I don’t play any instruments yet so I rely on the beats that I find on youtube. The process of finding the right instrumental can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple days. Once I’ve found a beat that makes me go “oooo”, I know I’ve found something good and I just start free styling.

I make sure to record myself every time I freestyle to the  beat and then I listen to the recordings, take notes on parts that I really like and use that as the framework for my song. Most of the time the chorus is what comes to me first. I use to think that I should only work on music when I feel inspired and something comes to me but now I designate a certain amount of hours per day that I am required to work on music.

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image from https://www.instagram.com/adriela__/

 How do you find the strength to be vulnerable and open in your lyrics?

I don’t have to find the strength because my music comes from the vulnerable side of me. If  that makes any sense. I get this weird feeling in my gut when I hear a beat that really moves me and when I start to freestyle its very raw uncut emotion. My lyrics come straight from the heart. However, I do get a little hesitant when it comes to the more personal songs that I’ve been working on lately, but I know there is someone out there who needs to hear it.

I get this weird feeling in my gut when I hear a beat that really moves me and when I start to freestyle its very raw uncut emotion.

Who are some of your musical inspirations?

Some of my musical inspirations include Janelle Monae, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday, Badu, and Jhene Aiko. All  of these artist have played a role in my growth as an artist. Janelle Monae was there during my big swift in focus in college. I had listened to her music before, but I became a big fan after Electric lady. I would listen to her album  every day throughout the day and I would fantasise about me being on  stage singing them.

Listening to her music, in addition to other factors, motivated me to really start focusing  on my career as a musician. I had always thought that one day I would go  to an open mic, perform one song and get discovered, but that’s not how it works. You have to really put the time in to see results. These artists, their stories and their music have all helped me to realize how possible it is to make your dreams come true.

 

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In your song ‘Inaugurated’ you touch on current political affairs. Do you think  that it is artist’s responsibility to reflect controversial/social issues in their music?

This question brings about a paradox because I do think it is the artist’s responsibility to reflect controversial/social issues in their music because when you have a platform you should  try to use it for the greater good. At the same time, I don’t think it should be forced, it needs to be genuine. I don’t make music to satisfy other people or with intent to touch on social issues, but because I feel strongly about these issues I will sing about it.

Inaugurated was written on the night of Obama’s farewell address because I was in a very emotional and fragile state. Like many, I took Obama’s presidency for granted and when it was time for the Obama’s to leave it really hurt, especially with Trump taking his place. Writing Inaugurated was my way of  coping with the travesty that the US has been burdened with.

What advice would you give to young aspiring artist?

Just follow your dreams and be true to you. Make music for you and just be glad if one person listens and genuinely likes it.  I’ve spent so much of my life being insecure and worried to much about everyone’s opinion rather than my own.  Three days away from 24 and I have zero fucks left to give. Be happy, be you!

Singer-songwriter Saie offers her Voice to the World

Asides from music sensations and viral memes, the internet is a home to many havens for marginalized groups. Through her uplifting lyrics and vibrant visuals, 21-year-old singer-songwriter Saie has managed to cultivate a haven for black girls and women. The singer-songwriter is based in London, but has cultural heritage in Sierra Leone. Following the release of her song ‘Blackness’, Saie has manifested a sisterhood which celebrates black girl magic. The record carries a timeless message to stand in your truth no matter how hard society tries to shape and tame you. Saie is unapologetic in her approach, and her confidence in the video is magnetic, as she sings about ‘feeling so strong in my blackness’, in a rich and nostalgic tone. Through her music Saie proves that she isn’t interested in following patterns that are already formed, but is instead working to carve out her own space in the industry. With her perfectly picked afro, effortless style and conscious spirit that is aware of her offering to the world, it would be foolish to doubt her.

We thank you Saie for standing in your truth and contributing your gift to the world, we hope you continue to create uplifting magic.

 It’s not that its important to me to be unapologetic I have NO choice but to be because there is NO way I am not going to enjoy my beauty and fulfil my purpose on this earth.

When did you decide to pursuit music as a career?

I decided to pursue music as a career when I was 15 years old, after I got over the embarrassment of wanting something that I felt was so cliché, I said to myself just face it Saie, being an artist is all you’ve ever wanted to do so go and get it!

How did you nurture your gift from a young age to turn it into the skill it is today?

I didn’t intentionally nurture my gift from a young age due to a lack of opportunities but I will say that my love for music and self expression nurtured itself somehow and only now am I beginning to nurture my gift with the hopes of becoming a master of my “thing.”

The video for ‘Blackness’ is packed with beautiful and striking visuals. Tell us about the creative direction behind the video.

Thank you, I really appreciate your appreciation for the video. The creative direction behind the visual was based upon my desire to be a confidence booster for all the gorgeous black girls who haven’t yet come to self realisation. So I tried to capture some attributes that we posses – SOUL, BEAUTY, GRACE & CHARM.

The brightness of the video, the use of colour and the little dance moves symbolise in some way The Soul. My choice to wear an afro was to show the natural beauty we posses just by simply being ourselves. I also tried to touch on the topic of black love by collaborating with Chris (The male model in the video) just because I personally desire to see more of it, I thought it would feed others visually. I don’t want to bore you with the details but I’m also an advocate for healthy eating which is why I wanted to include the fruits and calling my two friends to be in the video just to again, feed others with the image of sisterhood. That is the purpose of my visuals to feed melanated beings using aesthetics as well to feed myself.

 I just want to be engraved in everyone’s heart as a light and comforter in their dark times, as well as that boost people need when its time to fight for justice and get what belongs to them.

The song ‘Blackness’ is an uplifting celebration of black girl magic. How important is it for you to be unapologetic in your blackness?

Well in general being unapologetic is something I am currently striving for as its been a journey. I like the idea of peace and in society being unapologetic has a scent of rebelliousness attached to it. But when it comes to my blackness I don’t play any games, I will take the rebellious title any day because my “blackness” is deeply infused with my essence. So its not that its important to me to be unapologetic I have NO choice but to be because there is NO way I am not going to enjoy my beauty and fulfil my purpose on this earth as others are intimidated by what I possess or do not understand it and I want other girls to feel this way too.

Congratulations on your recent partnering with GUAP magazine! Talk to us about how that came about.

 Thank you! Well one of the founders of the magazine Jide Adetunji spotted me online and reached out to me, we had a meeting and the vibe was just right and now he is my manager!

Just take the time out to observe yourself and become your own mentor, basically take yourself as an A-Level.

Let’s take it 50 years into the future! What is one thing you would like to be remembered as?

In all honesty, I just want to be engraved in everyone’s heart as a light and comforter in their dark times, as well as that boost people need when its time to fight for justice and get what belongs to them. I guess overall I would love to be a spirit that people can call upon when they need it.

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image from https://www.instagram.com/theafroromantic/

What advice would you give young girls who are still trying to find their confidence and their voice?

I’m not sure where to begin there’s so much that needs to be discussed, but something that would be useful is for girls and boys to just study themselves, watch their habits. How often do you go on Social media? How does it make you feel? What Triggers you? What makes you happy? What feeds your insecurity? When do I like myself the most? How does your relationship with your parent(s) influence your behaviour in romantic relationships? Just take the time out to observe yourself and become your own mentor, basically take yourself as an A-Level.

Do you have any upcoming projects we can look out for?

Well I am about to get cracking on my first EP entitled The AfroRomantic: GENESIS as well as gigging around! So look out for me on social media to stay updated, because honestly nothing goes to plan! So online is the best way to see what I’m up too!

 

Your Contribution: Morgan offers her Photography to the World

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Millennials are proving to be a lot more than the narcissistic consumerists the older generation deem us to be, and Morgan Dezurn is living proof of this. At only 18 years-old she has created an impressive portfolio and she is working towards increasing representation of marginalised groups. She uses photography as her form of expression, to explore different colours and shadows with her subjects and expand on the notion of women as art. Morgan’s exploration of femininity is particularly notable, as she exposes a vulnerability which isn’t often connoted with black woman. She carries this same approach with the males she photographs, which challenges stagnant ideas of hyper-masculinity. There is a softness to her photography, almost as if she is capturing the image from a birds eye view without interrupting the subject.

We thank you Morgan for standing in your truth and contributing your gift to the world, we hope you continue to capture pure moments.

I want to be uncomfortable as an artist, always evolving and never playing it safe or downplaying myself.

When did you first realise you had a skill for photography?
I think it was my sophomore year of high school, I’m a senior now. I had always been interested in art, especially cinematography and fashion. I really loved the way I could create a different work inside of a film and that wearing certain clothes were an outward expression of your personality, or at least it was for me at the time. Unfortunately, my sophomore year was the year that I slowly started losing a passion for those two mediums, but fortunately I gained a passion for something else at the same time. That passion was for photography.

The contrast between photography and cinematography really intrigued me. In cinematography, you get to create this whole sequence of events and allow them to play out in order to convey a certain emotion/theme/ message, but in photography you have to work within frames. You have to encompass a whole emotion/theme/message in a single shot and that really is a challenge. That is what really made me good at photography, I guess, being able to comprehend that I can create a whole cinematic world in a frame if I shot it correctly. I think my understanding is what made me realize I had a knack for photography.

Are you in school for photography or are you self-taught?
I would say both. I was first shooting photography with my old Toshiba camcorder and don’t get me wrong I created some beautiful work with that little camera, but it wasn’t really teaching me what I needed to know to be a great photographer. To do that, I need to have a “real camera.” (I really hate saying that. A “real camera.” A great lesson to be learnt is that you do not need an expensive name brand camera to be a photographer. I wish I had known that when I was younger.)

My sophomore Chemistry teacher overheard me saying that I was interested in photography and I don’t remember how the conversation went, but it ended with me being able to borrow one of his expensive cameras for the duration of summer. That summer I taught myself a lot about aperture, shutter speed, focal length, and such, but I still felt like I was lacking some. I don’t know if that was the ideals of the American school system telling me that I need to be formally taught in order to understand an art, but by next school year I signed up for Photo Studio. There I was taught about composition, tonality; and all the little intricacies of photography really. I am currently in Advanced Placement Photography and I am learning how to construct a concentration photograph series, which is exciting.

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images from Morgan

A lot of your subjects are women/girls. Do you make it a point to explore different types of femininity?
It has always been a goal of mine to give representation to marginalized and misrepresented individuals. For example, within the community I live in right now is predominately Black and Christian. Due to this, there is a huge lack of understanding/empathy with our Asian population and Jewish population, so I made it a point to take photographs of my Asian and Jewish friends in a way that captures their personality truthfully. I want to show that yes, they are different from us, but that is not a bad thing. Diversity is crucial.

In regard to my subjects being women/girls, I think it is because I connect well with them. I know a woman’s struggle because I live through it every day and because of that I am able to connect with my subjects beforehand. In the shoot, we are allowed to be completely vulnerable with each other and those are where the great photographs come from, trust and openness.

I want to get to a point where I make such good photography that I don’t have any self-doubt.

On set what type of interaction do you have with your subjects?
I enjoy making my subjects feel safe. Like I am just one of their annoying best friends that love taking pictures of them. I have modelled in the past and some of the experiences I had were very strict, borderline hostile. I remember how uneasy I was and how that affected the shoot. I keep that in mind whenever I am shooting with someone, that what we are doing is a two way street. We both have to bring in 100% to make the shoot work.

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Something I enjoy from your photography is the use of colour and shadows. Do you have particular themes that you explore in your photography?
Firstly, thank you. I have never gotten a sweeter compliment. I am very sporadic with my work, I don’t really stick to one technical theme because I do not want to get too comfortable with it. Though I do love monochromatic images, I don’t want to fall into the path where all my images look the same because I only know how to do one thing. I want to be uncomfortable as an artist, always evolving and never playing it safe or downplaying myself. I can’t say I am exploring any themes in particular because I am exploring all things I can think of.

Create as though those things are a reflection of you and if you find them looking similar to everyone else, change yourself.

How do you find inspiration for your shoots?
I gather information from anything, as cliché as it sounds. It could be a word that I hear in a discussion, an article, or clothing that I see someone wear, a song, a dream that I had, or a minute moment in a television show. I have become receptive of my surroundings in the last few years and allowing some tendencies of synaesthesia to run free.

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You’re only 18 and you’ve already created a beautiful body of work. What are some of your future goals in terms of photography?
For myself, I want to be able to look back on my work and feel no regret in the way I produced the photo. Currently, I reflect on my work and think “oh, I could have done better on that” or “this could be better” or simply “I hate this, why did I do this.” I want to get to a point where I make such good photography that I don’t have any self-doubt.
In a time of increasing trends and uniformity, what advice would you give for people to stay true to themselves?
Create as though those things are a reflection of you and if you find them looking similar to everyone else, change yourself.

Meet Odd Mojo, Hip-Hop’s rising Emcee

She got her Mojo back, well actually it never left.

The internet is a melting pot, a place where people from all different walks of life exist within a cyber-reality. It can be difficult to spot a rising star among the masses, only a few make the cut. Artists like Rebecca Black have proven that it isn’t just about talent, a star must be both talented and timeless, both cool and conscious. All of which are attributes of Mahogany. Although she goes by the name Mojo, a 22-year-old emcee from Maryland.

Her music feels like clouds softly grazing harsh metal truths, a blend that sonically pieces well together. Her EP, entitled 94 was released 6 months ago. It documents the story of an artist trying to navigate her way through life whilst also trying to hold on to her dreams. On her track Dreamin she raps “dreams, don’t die, keep your hope alive” and in such times we are in desperate need of this hope.

In the 94 documentary you see Mojo rapping in what looks like a home studio. She creates smooth and colourful melodies with other creatives showing that what really matters is the music, the vibes. The documentary relays the grind and hustle that she puts into her music. Her look is reminiscent of the 90s, with Poetic Justice braids, a physique of Aaliyah and a swag like Missy Elliot. But these are simply musical nods as Mojo is her own woman, her own artist.

mo.jpgimage from https://www.instagram.com/oddmojo/

– How did you discover music as your passion?
I discovered music as my passion when I wrote my first song. The day I wrote the song my friend Rayonte came over my house. So I let him hear what I wrote and he was amazed. He told me I should really do this, and I kind of just stuck to it. Since that day I kept writing more raps.
-Who were some of your musical inspirations growing up?
Growing up I listened to a lot of music my mom would play around the house which was Al Green, The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Con Funk Shun, and Teena Marie. I didn’t get into Hip-Hop until I started rapping. Some of the rappers that inspired me to rap were A Tribe Called Quest, Tyler The Creator, Kid Cudi, Nas, Rakim, Bahamadia, Queen Latifah, Aaliyah, and a lot of 90s Hip-hop artists from the Golden Age era.

-Talk about the process of making your EP entitled 94, and why did you feel it were important to document this process?
Making ’94 was a long hard process. I came up with the concept for it a year before I released it. The only reason why I didn’t release it a year ago before I dropped it is because I felt as though I wasn’t being as honest as I wanted to be. At the time I wanted to just release anything, and I was tired of not having a project out. I soon realized that greatness takes time and patience. When I realized that I started taking notes of my experiences, and I felt like it should be documented because my music could help someone that’s going through the same thing I’m going through.

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-How do you manage to maintain your individual sense of style and not submit to the stereotypical look forced upon female MC’s?
I never been a follower, I always had my own sense of style, and I liked being different too. But when I first started rapping the early 80s and 90s Hip-Hop era really inspired me so I always wanted to pretend like I was a rapper from that time. Once I fell in love with that I didn’t care if people didn’t like my music because I liked it.

-Do you feel the pressure/necessity to create art that reflects the temperamental times of today?
I do feel like the people would like to hear someone speak on what’s happening, but I don’t think I feel pressure to create something about what’s happening right now in life.
-Your lyrics are so personal and unlike the typical flow of rappers these days. What motivates you to make conscious and intelligent music?
What motivates me to make music the way I do is just me trying to find peace. It’s a lot of things I deal with everyday and music is the only thing that helps me cope with everything, and gives me some sort of peace of mind. I just speak my mind and rap from my heart.

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-What are some of your other passions, outside of music?
I really wanna get into acting. Believe it or not movies actually inspired me to write music. I also have a dream of having my own radio station to help the underground Hip-Hop scene get more recognition, and give more radio play to female artists.
Many creatives are aware of the importance of believing in something bigger than you. How did you find your purpose?
I know it’s someone out there that needs to hear what I’m rapping about. I think my purpose as a rapper is to heal people through my music and inspire them to believe in themselves.

What can we hope to expect next from Odd Mojo?
You can expect a lot more music from Odd Mojo in the near future. I plan to give the world more of myself through music.

Find Mojo on Instagram @oddmojo, Soundcloud and YouTube.

 

Meet Briana, Female Boss and founder of MATTE Brand

It has been a year since we last interviewed Briana Wilson and it has been amazing to watch her growth! Read what she had to say a year ago, and look at her now. #Goals.

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We call her Briana, but she is Queen Eenah to you. Entrepreneur, designer, model and the list can go on. After starting her own business, MATTE, over a year ago, she has proved that hard work truly manifests into success. She materialises her ideas, designing casual classic pieces that extenuate and caress the curves of MATTE bae’s. Her clothes offer a more extension selection of nude, as each piece is designed to cater to the entire spectrum of melanin. Briana evades the pigeonhole of being just ‘Tumblr famous’ as is more than just beauty, she means business.

Whilst businesses spend hundreds of thousands on advertising, she simply clicks ‘share’ to her hundred thousand followers. She embodies the phrase ‘be your own brand’ by modelling her own designs on her jaw dropping body. Although, it hasn’t always been an easy road for Briana, who earlier this year was involved in a car accident, she has never let obstacles get block her vision. Now MATTE is an ever-growing empire, shipping internationally to more than 20,000 customers. And after just recently celebrating her birthday Briana can sing along to a Drake quote, “I’m 23 with a money tree!”

How did you get started in fashion?

I’ve never actually been huge on fashion, I’ve just always liked to dress a certain way. I started MATTE mainly because I wanted to start a business…any business would do. Once I got into it I fell in love with design.
I think when you choose to think through your problems rather than be consumed by them you’ll realize that the universe is just guiding you in a way.

What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started out?

I mean, so many things have gone wrong since I’ve started this company. The list is endless. I’ve worked with crazy unprofessional people, I’ve invested in ideas that didn’t work out well, I’ve taken too much at a time but overall it’s all just been a learning experience. Whenever I’m faced with a problem I just keep moving forward and every single time I find a much better way to handle it. I think when you choose to think through your problems rather than be consumed by them you’ll realize that the universe is just guiding you in a way.

What is your inspiration when designing?

I love the way clothes fit and I’ve always been very particular about the way that my clothes fit.. that’s my main concern when I’m designing for MATTE, then the way it feels. I’m not a person for crazy unique cuts and bold patterns/arrangements… I like sexy basics, or pieces you just feel are necessary. I’m ultimately inspired by my ideas coming to life. It feels so good to create something from nothing. To have an idea and then eventually hold it in your hand.

briimages from https://www.instagram.com/mattebrand/

How would you describe your style?

Casual but sexy. I love to be sexy but not in your face with it. I’m not going to wear super short shorts with a crop top and hella cleavage, but I will wear super short shorts with a T- shirt that looks like I have nothing on under it. And then a bomber and some sneakers to make it chill.

You also occasionally model your designs. How important is it for you to be your own brand?

When I started MATTE I modelled a lot of my clothes mainly because it was easy! I was always available and I didn’t have to look for anyone. I started using models for MATTE when I broke my leg in January. I had these cute dresses I wanted to shoot in and release but broke my leg like two days before the scheduled photo shoot. While I was in the hospital I started planning the photo shoot and it turned out way better because I actually put energy into planning a shoot for the first time whereas when I shot things myself it’d be more last minute. One of the multiple learning experiences from that seemingly unfortunate situation. I haven’t modelled my own pieces since.

How can young entrepreneurs utilise the internet in a productive rather than destructive way?
I think the internet is great for marketing, it’s great for expressing and displaying yourself. I think people should use it to represent themselves whatever way they want to be represented. The internet is amazing because you can create your own market. You don’t have any market rules to follow because the world is at your fingertips. You can sell anything online if you use the correct platform.

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Who are some of your fashion icons?
I love 2010-2013 Rihanna, 2008-2010 Amber Rose…Karla Deras, Aaliyah.. I’m all over the place.
You get a lot of questions on Tumblr regarding your amazing physique, so we must ask how do you keep so fit?
I’ve never had a set routine or work out plan!

Here at LAMBB we are exploring the idea of a woman who has it all. What would ‘having it all’ mean to you?
Having it all to me simply put is being confident, independent and humble at the same time. Feeling great about yourself and how you look but also knowing there’s more to you than the way you look and even what you achieve materially. True self love.

 

The Jae Daisy is repainting the world around her

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Allow me to let you into a thing that artists know. Imagination is our primary belief, and impossibility is none existent. Artists, especially creatives of colour have a willingness to change the world and not be controlled by it. We are committed to passionate living and not just surviving. These are some of the values cherished by 19-year-old artist, The Jae Daisy. She started posting her work online this summer and immediately got a huge positive response back from people. What is particularly striking about her paintings is the way in which she paints people of colour. She is exact in the way she represents us, showing the rainbow of colours that exists within our melanin. Through her paintings, one becomes liberated as she relieves the weight of negative connotations commonly associated with the colour black.

Art possess the ability to heal, whether that be through music, films or paintings, everyone has a haven they run to in dark and dire times. Jae Daisy uses her painting as a form of escapism. She battled with depression and bullying but now she blossoms with her exquisite and intricate paintings, reflecting her version of the world. Jae Daisy embodies the meaning of the word artist; she is resilient to conforming and muting her multitude of colours for a black and white world. This summer alone she was able to make over a thousand dollars from her paintings, so it is easy to say there is no stopping her. Read below to find out what being a creative of colour means today.

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People forget that without us artists, the world wouldn’t be what it is today.

Do you aim to pursue art as a career, if so how do you plan on turning your passion into your paper?

I do aim to pursue my artwork as a career. I am currently in school at Savannah College of Art & Design. I’m studying fibers to get my artwork onto clothing and furniture pieces. I am currently selling my artwork downtown in my hometown but my dream is to expand my love of art and come out with my own line of clothing and furniture with my portraits & paintings on them.

 All of your paintings have a unique feel to it; they all seem to tell a relatable story. What are some of your inspirations when painting?

I get this question a lot! I always have customers ask me “What’s the story behind this piece?” or “What was your inspiration painting this one?” My artwork is called art expressionsim. I like to paint people because I love showing their emotion through colour, movement and texture.

My goal for every piece is to paint something and have viewers tell me what they see from it and what story the think of when looking at one of my paintings… Mostly everyone that has purchased a piece of mine tells me what they feel and what they see looking at my pieces and they all have something different to say; I love that!

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image from https://www.instagram.com/thejaedaisy/

You’re currently in college; do you find that as you grow into adulthood you’re forced out of the world of imagination? 

Of course not. Personally I surround myself with people who have dreams and goals, just as I do. Throughout high school I was surrounded by people who were not as wiling to embrace creativity and I think once I graduated high school and got to be more on my own and find friends outside of high school is when I started to pursue my art more.

I think when you surround yourself with people who have creativity and imagination in mind, you start to feel like anything is possible. Being surrounded by other artists and other entrepreneurs makes me want to be even more creative and expand with my artwork.

Society always has something negative to say whether you do something or you don’t.

Let’s talk about the Struggling Artist Campaign. There is a widespread notion that to be an artist is synonymous to being broke. Talk about the importance of pursuing your passion despite what society says. 

The Struggling Artist campaign is a huge project that I’m working on this year. It will include a variety of artists, whether it’s painting, graphic design, music, poetry, acting, anything art related and hearing their stories and why being an artist is so important to them. It’s very sad that when people hear the word artist, their first thought is “that’s not a real job” or “you’re going to be broke”. I think it’s crazy when I hear that. I think people forget that without us artist, the world wouldn’t be what it is today. The logos and advertisements we see every day is because of an artist. The music we listen to is because of an artist. The furniture in our house and the designs on our clothes are because of an artist. The artwork hanging in our office space and our living space is because of an artist. The movies and TV shows we all watch are all thanks to art performers. So many aspects of our everyday living and entertainment is because an artist decided to follow their dream and put in the work despite of the negative stereotype of “struggling” and “being broke”.

So that being said, you just have to do what you love. Society always has something negative to say whether you do something or you don’t. So we all have to just do what we love instead of having the mind set of “I’m to do this to survive.” You can always turn your passion into your way of living and surviving if you just put your all into it.

Did you have to convince your parents that art was a serious subject when you decided to study it at college? If so, how did you overcome this?

My parents were actually the ones who came up with the idea to turn my paintings and artwork into a business. In 2015 they came to me with the idea of getting a business license and selling my artwork and shirts. My first thought was “hmmm I don’t know”, only because it was something I did for fun. My parents were both artists in high school before they both decided to join the military. I think they were happy to see me doing what I love and wanted to support me. Back then being an artist wasn’t supported as being a career, more so of being a hobby.

They saw potential in me and I am so grateful because of that. I ended up making a little over one thousand dollars this summer which was huge for us. My mom was actually the one who showed me SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) and I fell in love instantly. A lot of people tell me it’s very rare to have support from your parents when it comes to being an artist for a career and putting so much time and money into it. Sadly it is, but I encourage those who don’t have parents that support their passion to not let that stop you. Surround yourself with supportive peers and other artists!

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Talk to us more about Sky 3 project.

SKY 3 is a non-profit campaign I started when I was fourteen years old. It initially stood for Society Killed You, Stop Killing Yourself & Start Knowing You. At the time I was going through depression and bullying. I wanted to speak up and have a voice. I came out with sweatshirts and shirts and sold them at my high school. All the money went to the homeless and shelters downtown in my hometown. My dad turned SKY 3 into a licensed business when I turned fifteen and he took over from there. He now teaches resilience and character strengths to kids, educators, veterans and the homeless in transition as part of SKY 3. Since I started my art business I decided to donate some of the proceeds from The Jae Daisy to SKY3 to help do workshops on resilience for kids and adults in the community.

What can we hope to expect from Jae Daisy in the future?

I’m very excited for you guys to see what I have coming this Fall! I’m starting the Struggling Artist campaign along with my first Youtube channel. This school year I will be coming out with my first pieces for my clothing line. I’m continuing to paint and sell my artwork, but a lot more is coming for The Jae Daisy.

Find Jae Daisy on Instagram @thejaedaisy, and on her website http://thejaedaisy.bigcartel.com/