arts + entertainment, good news, entrepreneur tips

#WomenatWork: 'LADYLIKE' director Tiffany Johnson schools us on art as freedom

Welcome back to our "Women at Work" series, where you're introduced to a curated selection of working women discussing their professional lives as well as the impact they're making - through an audacious blend of professional and personal passions - on the world around them.

Closing out Women's History Month, meet Tiffany Johnson.

 via @tiffanyjenellej

via @tiffanyjenellej

Admittedly, I wait until the morning each WaW story is due to write it. As an entrepreneur whose entire life is now guided by one giant Passion Planner, I get joy out of being able to wake and feel my way to useful words - hopefully, accurate words - describing these women who move me so much.

When I started thinking about Tiffany this morning, I started thinking about freedom. I started thinking about "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint," the "absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government," "the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved."

 via @tiffanyjenellej

via @tiffanyjenellej

As a graduate of the Los Angeles Film School - one who majored in Directing and minored in Screen Writing - I can imagine that Tiffany knows a lot about engaging the right to speak, think and act without hindrance. I'm probably projecting my 8-year black girl experience as an English Ph.D. student, but I'm willing to bet Tiffany would bring brilliance to a discussion of art, particularly Hollywood filmmaking, and the feeling of foreign domination.

We just haven't discussed that yet.

I think about freedom when I think about Tiffany because (well, look at her, so in and of herself)  since graduating, she's worked for CBS, Overbrook Entertainment, and Academy Award-winning Producer Peggy Rajski.  She's also worked as an Associate Producer on numerous live television award shows, including MTV Movie Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards and the 2011 Primetime Emmy’s. She also serves as assistant to another fave, Lena Waithe.

Tiffany is a woman not just standing in, but operating from her multiple freedoms: to desire, to choose, to create, to redefine. If you're not quite sure how I got there yet, you will be after further reading.

 

Check out the best from my correspondence with Tiffany below.

 

On owning her professionalism ...

I didn't always, but I definitely do now. I had to learn to change the way I speak. When asked what I did, I would say, "Oh I am an aspiring director." That's bullshit--I am a director. Filmmaking is what I do. 


On the logistics of life ...

There's definitely a lot of music ... Music gets me through my days. As an assistant to a Showrunner/Writer, my day usually consists of lots of emails and reading scripts. In the evenings, I'll sometimes grab drinks with friends, maybe catch a movie I've been wanting to see or go home and binge a new show. It varies.

 

On the last year ...

I actually have 2 important projects I completed last year. One was my short film LADYLIKE.
We screened it at a few festivals and even went to Cannes--such a wild, life changing experience! It's currently streaming on Issa Rae's YouTube channel.
I also completed a short documentary last year, entitled The Ride Home. It's the most emotional and personal film I've ever worked on. It was the first time I turned the cameras on myself--it follows me and my dad on the day he was released from prison and the ride home we shared. 

 

On what's up next ...

I'm currently in post on a short film I recently shot called Dead. Gay. Fictional. It's a fun rom-com send up, written by my good friend Caty Zick.
 via wesjanisen.com

via wesjanisen.com

Also, my writing partner, Nick Williams and I are developing LADYLIKE into a feature which I'm really excited about!
 via ladylike.com

via ladylike.com

On sustaining your craft ...

I think it's super important for creatives to fuel their craft. What I mean by that is: surround yourself with other creatives that inspire ... and encourage you. Learn from each other. Study those you admire and dedicate time to your [calling]. I'm constantly watching films or reading books or articles on filmmakers I'm obsessed with.  

 

Do you see why I'm thinking about freedom?

Before I began writing this, I kept scribbling a phrase in my journal: "Do not complicate your freedoms."

Over and over.

DO NOT COMPLICATE YOUR FREEDOMS.

It wasn't until I reread Tiffany's correspondence that I realized what that phrase was really getting at. We, like Tiffany, will often have to enter into spaces that others might dictate as never having been meant for us. However, what's important is our presence there, that we have shown up, not the narrative surrounding our entrance.

Tiffany Johnson reminds us all that we have a right to exercise our freedoms, uncomplicated in whatever form they appear to us. We can show up as ourselves, for ourselves, and tell the stories we want to have heard. Or in Tiffany's case, seen.

 via @tiffanyjenellej

via @tiffanyjenellej

 She is a vision, with sublime vision. 

The only appropriate way to end this is by butchering Bambara, is to say all of our freedoms are real, all of our dreams, attainable. "The failure to realize is the only unreality." 

arts + entertainment, good news

#WomenatWork - Maame Adjei inspires us to literally be all that we can

Welcome back to our "Women at Work" series, where you're introduced to a curated selection of working women discussing their professional lives as well as the impact they're making - through an audacious blend of professional and personal passions - on the world around them.

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Maame Adjei.

 via msadjei.tumblr.com (used with permission)

via msadjei.tumblr.com (used with permission)

Every time I sit to write about anyone, I'm tasked with minimizing an overwhelming desire to type something like "I don't know what to tell you guys. It's ridiculous that you don't know Maame. She's important. Her face. Her eyes. Her body. Her being."

I don't write, "Most important is that I adore her ... that I saw her and she immediately felt like everything to me ... that I see her and can more clearly see myself - in ways that are incredibly important as an immigrant living in the United States ... as a future expat ... as a brown body full of curve and lyric and Liberian ..."

I don't write, "Can't you see she's a model of my most desired ways of being in this world." 

 via Blavity

via Blavity

Instead, I turn what has already become a full-fledged unrequited love affair into the concrete language of Internet introduction.

So let's just get that out of the way.

Internet, meet Maame Adjei, more commonly known in cyberspace as Ms. Adjei, and, perhaps, most easily recognized as the confident, couture-clad, Zainab on An African City

 via Blavity

via Blavity

Now that you've been formally introduced, I'll admit that most of that opening rant was true. I was less than halfway through the first episode of An African City, when I realized I loved Zainab. And because I am who I am, I decided that meant I loved the person who embodied her. A quick internet search would validate all of my feelings.

 via msadjei.tumblr.com (used with permission)

via msadjei.tumblr.com (used with permission)

I soon learned that Maame Adjei was not only a talented actress, but also an artist and producer with an educational background in Psychology and Healthcare Finance and Administration.

As an actress, aside from playing Zainab and co-producing An African City, Maame has also had roles in "A Sweet Song,"a short film by Ghanaian director Asantewa Prempeh, and Coz Ov Moni, a Ghanaian musical.

As an artist, she upcycles vintage and antique furniture for private clients, and has produced visual installations for The Chalewote Street Arts Festival in Accra.

 via msadjei.tumblr.com (used with permission)

via msadjei.tumblr.com (used with permission)

As if those passions weren't enough to consume one human being, Maame served as the Talent Director for the Miss Universe Ghana 2014 pageant, is currently Travel Editor for The Style HQ, and an influencer for Tastemakers Africa.

Maame's bio admits (as if one didn't automatically infer from her list of pursuits) that she is "committed to living life passionately, and to exploring all the opportunities that her natural gifts and talents bring her way."

Learning this, I needed to know more. And I needed it directly from the source.

 

Check out the best from my correspondence with Maame Adjei below.

 

On passionately multitasking ...

Each role definitely seamlessly rolls into the next. I'm an artist. I consider everything I do art. So from production, to making furniture to even teaching (which I do sometimes). I always pull my creativity into it. They are never mutually exclusive.

On the logistics of living ...

Being a self employed artist anywhere in the world is not easy. On the continent it's even harder. My day starts and begins and ends with emails. ... Constantly replying to emails. I'm usually heading to one meeting or another which, in Accra, means I'm spending a lot of time in traffic. At some point during the day, I always stop by my friend Dedo's cozy restaurant, Tea Baa, for some good eats. I always end the day in bed re-watching a movie I've probably seen a hundred times.

On her most important project ...

Everything I work on his super important to me because I'm in a space where I only do work that moves me. So An African City, of course, a short film project I just worked on. And of course my passion project Girl Going Places, a travel show that exposes the beauty and dynamism of the continent and implores Africans, and Diasporans especially, to travel the continent. I've been working on [Girl Going Places] for almost three years and I'm so excited to slowly be sharing it with the world.

On sustaining creativity ...

Diversify, diversify, diversify! It's important to work for the love of the art but at the end of the day artist still need to eat, and pay bills. I can't give the what, where and how cause I'm still trying to figure it out myself but I think that's definitely a good starting plan.

Diversify. Diversify. Diversify.

 

Received, Maame. Received.

I want to end this neatly, enveloped tight phrasing with a simple call to action. But, as the beginning of this article demonstrated, often words and will don't work that way.

 

For some reason, sharing Baraka's “How You Sound” (1959) feels best.

MY POETRY is whatever I think I am. (Can I be light and weightless like a sail??  Heavy & clunking like 8 black boots.)  I CAN BE ANYTHING I CAN. I make a poetry with what I feel is useful & can be saved out of all the garbage of our lives.  What I see, am touched by (CAN HEAR) … wives jobs, cement yards, where cats pee, all my interminable artifacts … ALL are poetry, & nothing moves (with any grace) pried apart from all  these things.  There cannot be closet poetry. Unless the closet be wide as God’s eye. And all that means is that I must be completely free to do just what I want, in the poem. 

Yea. That feels right.

 

 

arts + entertainment

A Tribe Called Quest's Phife Dawg passes on at 45

tribe called quest phife dawg
Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg whose nimble, clever rhymes helped launch A Tribe Called Quest to both commercial and critical success, died Wednesday at the age of 45. Rolling Stone has confirmed the rapper's death, though an official statement has yet to be released.
While the cause of death has yet to be announced, Taylor had had health issues for years, undergoing a kidney transplant in 2008 to deal with a longtime battle with diabetes.
"It's really a sickness," Taylor said in Beats, Rhymes & Life, Michael Rapaport's candid 2011 documentary on the group. "Like straight-up drugs. I'm just addicted to sugar."

 

READ MORE from ROLLING STONE.

good news, arts + entertainment

SiairaShawn launches new #FWYH merch

You know we love SiairaShawn.

So, of course we're honored to share this message from her. 

 

The "FLWRS WHILE YOU'RE HERE" design is my first foray into merchandise. "Flowers While You're Here" is the title of my recent e.p. series, but also a life philosophy. I believe that we should share love, vulnerability, and truth with our loved ones, "while we're here."  
I'm not on tour right now, but I wanted to still connect with folks who want to represent this message and support my music. My goal is to sell at least 30 items at the end of 21 days!

View all of Siaira's new merch HERE.

entrepreneur tips, good news

#WomenatWork: @ItsAriFitz brings out our deepest feels

Welcome back to our "Women at Work" series. If you joined us last week, then you already know that our newest series introduces you to a curated selection of working women discussing, of course, their professional lives. But Khafra's always trying to help you look good and live great,  so we explore the impact these women are making - through an audacious blend of professional and personal passions - on the world around us.

Allow us to reintroduce Tomboyish founder, Ari Fitz.

 photographer: Brenton Gieser

photographer: Brenton Gieser

It's difficult to discuss Ari Fitz without reaching into the most vulnerable depths of my feels (or fee-fees as my lil sis would call them). In 2013, Ari and I had one very important phone call, followed by a few strategic meetings, and a short stint in a world of surreality. From that, we made magic.

Like. A lot of it.

A whole lot.

Today, the feels are lovely, dark, and deep, not because we're more homies than creative partners these days. That's to be expected of magic makers - those who come together at a brief moment in the universe's juncture for the sole purpose of sharing.

I speak about Ari from a soft spot because I look at her and see the manifestation of intentional desire matched hunger, unimaginable work ethic, and indestructible self-belief.

 photographer: Brenton Gieser

photographer: Brenton Gieser

Ari is proof that if you dream it, build it, do it, it can and will come ... and in ways, that (even to me, thank god) were unforeseen. From the day I began collaborating with Ari, I recognized in her what I see in so many of us who know that we know; I saw will. And for the last three years, I've been proudly watching her wield that will, shaping a future (and undoubtedly the next media empire) along the way. 

This is the shit that moves me, folks.

I recently checked in with Ari on the current status of life. Check the best of her interview below.

On the architecture of dreams ...

I'm one of those creatives [funding] their projects with a day job, so a day in my life is pretty hectic. My nights, weekends, and lunch breaks are spent ... curating content on TOMBOYISH's Instagram, casting/producing/filming/editing fashion films, engaging with my audience at every moment, and in my spare time looking for new collaborators (photographers, videographers, brands, etc.).

On her most important project of the last year ...

Late last year, TOMBOYISH launched a partnership with Reebok Classics where we had complete creative freedom to develop something dope for their new styles. That [partnership] was definitely one of my most exciting, rewarding, and impactful projects in the past 12 months.

On what's next ...

Right now, [I'm] hosting meet-ups for TOMBOYISH to bring other tomboy-ish folk together. [I'm] headed to nine cities: SF, LA, Chicago, Toronto, NYC, Philly, London, Paris & Cape Town in the next few months.

Some sound advice ...

Don't let anyone else decide what success is for you. Define it for yourself and don't sleep until you have it.

Define it for yourself. Don't sleep until you have it.

Noted.

Need more Ari in your life? Complete our  STYLE SURVEY and request an invite to Ari's INVITE ONLY salon at Relove Vintage Boutique in SF on Friday, March 25.

 

By khoLi.

 

EXPLORE: #WomenatWork - We spoke with @Pathbrite founder Heather Hiles. It was everything.

good news, entrepreneur tips

Who knew 4 easy steps + 30 seconds could change your day?

Drop everything. Pause for just 30 seconds. This is all the time you need to refocus and center yourself. And we know what you're probably thinking (because we were thinking it, too): 30 seconds seems like a small window of time to essentially dismiss your life's chaos. We understand your skepticism. 

skeptical african boy

However, this 4-step "mindful pause" outlined by Jon Krop, a lawyer and meditation teacher from New York City (who also, in a balanced marriage of his passions, leads Mindfulness for Lawyers workshops) is something like a "spot treatment" - for when you feel the colossal mass of the world pressing against your chest, for when you feel doomed, stressed, and about to collapse under your own anxiety.

 via JonKrop.com

via JonKrop.com

The first step is to take a deep breath.

Take a slow inhale from the bottom of your lungs to the top, slowly filling your torso and, finally, your chest. There is a connection between breath and mood, and slow, deep-breathing fosters a feeling of calmness.

The second step is to turn toward your body. 

This may sound a little complex, but it's really all about focusing on the small sensations of your body - whatever you're feeling, whether it's the material of your clothing against your skin, or the coolness of a breeze rippling mellowly through your hair. All you need to do is focus on these sensations and watch them, and if you happen to feel sensations connected to stress and anxiety, then all the better. Watching them, as opposed to resisting them, will help you pass through them, and them through you. This step can last for one in-breath or one out-breath, and if you choose to stay here longer than that, then feel free to.

The third step is to focus on your breath.

Focusing on the sensation of air entering through your nostrils roots you in the present moment. At this stage, allow your body to breathe however it chooses to. Like the previous step, this one can last for as long as you need it to.

The last step is to carry on with your life

Re-engage with the world, remembering there's no need to do this in a hurry. Try to keep the calmness that you created; keep your rootedness. Don't feel pressured to hurry back into the world; take your time, and fall in slowly.

---

But is this for me?

What's perfect about this mindful pause is that it's fast, and you can do it anywhere, anytime. Krop notes that the most difficult part of the mindful pause isn't in completing the process itself, but in remembering to do it.

 via hellobeautiful.com

via hellobeautiful.com

Our days are cluttered and over-saturated with things - work things and personal things and commitments and deadlines and responsibilities - and feelings of anxiety and stress are always there; they will come, and they will go.

Remembering to take 30 seconds to deeply breathe, to channel ourselves, and to turn towards our feelings and watch them isn't always on the agenda, but re-engaging with ourselves throughout the day guides us through challenging emotions, reminding us that we are transcendent. 

Try it now!


Get a Stopwatch like this or make your own! At: Online Stopwatch

arts + entertainment

#Playlist | Kari Faux, Nicki Minaj, Sevyn Streeter, #WomensHistoryMonth goes rogue

As you might already know, in honor of  Women's History Month, we've launched our newest series, "Women at Work," introducing you to a carefully curated selection of working women. The series will, of course, explore their professional lives. However, it will also explore the impact these women are making - through an audacious blend of professional and personal passions - on the world around us.

And while we're definitely inspired by all of the entrepreneurs we're featuring this month, we're equally moved by some pretty amazing Bad News Women in the world. 

 via @ninachanel (Instagram)

via @ninachanel (Instagram)

We'd like to think this soundtrack celebrates them ... and their constant bad ass Bad News grinds.

Listen, there's nothing like a lil' ratchet to help you take over the world.

 

EXPLORE: Listen to today's playlist -- "There Will Be Love" 



good news, entrepreneur tips

#WomenatWork - We spoke with @Pathbrite founder Heather Hiles. It was everything.

If you follow us on Instagram, you probably already know it's Women's History Month. In celebration, we're launching our newest series, "Women at Work."

"Women at Work" will introduce you to a carefully curated selection of working women discussing, of course, their professional lives. They'll also explore the impact these women are making - through an audacious blend of professional and personal passions - on the world around us.

First Up ... Pathbrite Founder, Heather Hiles

 via leanin.org

via leanin.org

I was first "introduced" to Heather at the first Lesbians Who Tech Conference in San Francisco. We didn't actually meet. I was dizzied by a round of curious and provoking pitches from powerful women committed to diversifying tech, then sobered by Heather's discussion of her (much newer then) company, Pathbrite.

 via Pathbrite

via Pathbrite

As an English Ph.D., my interest was peaked - though admittedly, more in Pathbrite than Heather. But I don't always know what's good for me.

Some two years later, watching Heather open the Capital Connections Conference in Oakland, the universe brought me to my senses.

At Capital Connections, Heather revealed that, launched in 2012, Pathbrite (the world’s first Portfolio Learning Platform) has since raised over $12,000,000, and been acquired by Cengage Learning. The company currently supports more than 500 schools, colleges, universities, and companies, and -- with Heather still serving as CEO -- "Pathbrite’s Portfolio Learning Platform is transforming learning, teaching, and assessment across the globe."

Moved by Heather's discussion of what she calls "overt inclusion" -- a commitment to not only inviting diverse representatives to the tech table, but providing them with access to equal would-be victuals when they arrive -- I decided, "We need to talk."

In my pre-call prep (Internet stalking), I was reminded that Heather is a serial entrepreneur, one who's held founding and leadership positions in multiple private and public sector organizations. For instance, she's served as Board of Directors Member of Liberty & Justice (Africa’s leading Fair Trade Certified™ apparel manufacturing company, based in Monrovia Liberia), Commissioner for the San Francisco Unified School District; Executive Director of Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2); co-founder of EARN; and CEO of SFWorks, a nonprofit that transitioned women from welfare into careers.

Heather has also previously been named as one of the Top 100 coolest people in Silicon Valley by Business Insider.

 via Pathbrite

via Pathbrite

Below, you can check out some of the highlights from my chat with Heather Hiles.

On Pathbrite's ideal audience ...

Pathbrite is a modern version of the e-portfolio with the power to improve meta-cognition through learning, and mastering ... content.  [It's] helping all lifelong learners [and] built for all human beings … not just [people working] in education.

On intuition ...

[When making the decision to separate from my co-founder and transition Ripple to Pathbrite,] it was definitely a gut decision. Intuition happened earlier than action. It was like any relationship, you just know when it's time. 

...

[A lot of women believe they need a co-founder, but] trust yourself. You need one leader. You need to trust you can lead. It has never served me wrong, believing in me.

...

[You have to] get to your core. You know what you need to do. Sometimes you’re afraid of the answer, but you’re there already. Ask yourself, "What is the honest truth about the situation?"

On overt inclusion ...

It’s fulfilling. There’s not a tremendous amount of gratification in being the first of something if you can't do something meaningful with it and share that. [There's something about being there] to just share access - not pitching, just helping.

On choosing to share information and resources ...

It's about creating more opportunities for people to be in a place of growth and transformation. I'm invested in the creation of organizations, the experience of building and growing with other people. So, sharing is not a decision. It's what I have to do. It's who I am. There is a calculated decision about what and who [I give my time to] … but then it’s pure instinct.

But then, it's pure instinct. 

Interested in learning more about Heather? Check out her portfolio on Pathbrite, or follow her on Twitter.

 

by khoLi.

 

EXPLORE: I think you are a Lost Queen | Interview with founder Eboni Merriman

good news, collections, women at work

#WomenatWork - I think you are a Lost Queen | Interview with Eboni Merriman

via LostQueens.com

If you recognize this catchy tune from Pharrell ...

then you're already familiar with most of the intentional magic that went into the launch of Eboni Merriman's e-commerce boutique, Lost Queens. 

But, since rebranding what began as a spontaneous meeting of passion and necessity, Eboni's baby, Lost Queens, has grown to a self-sustaining nationally-recognized brand.

I've been curious about (and admittedly hardcore stanning for) the Lost Queens Instagram account for awhile now. I've watched as it's grown by thousands of followers, boasting black girl fave ambassadors like Jamilah Lemieux, Nina Amour and Pinned x Stitched's Meron B. But when the new collection launched, inspired by Beyoncé's "Formation," I knew I absolutely needed to have a sit down with Eboni.

But it's 2016 and we're working women on different coasts. So we did what any two long lost girlfriends who had never met would do ... we hopped on the phone.

I won't make you endure the details of the many moments I fell in love with her raw and present energy. But, I will say, baby girl showed up ... in full authenticity.

Five minutes into our convo, Eboni had already offered me her full self, her full spirit, and revealed herself in a form that's rare for many. I'm talking revealing everything from how she couldn't keep a job before pursuing her dream, to her relocating about 15 times since moving back to NY from VA in 2011, to the balancing of depression and being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in 2015. Did I forget to mention that Eboni is only 24 years old?

Catch the best from my chat with Eboni below.

And shop the new Lost Queens collection with 15% OFF when you enter "LQCARRIEK" at checkout.

On how Lost Queens became a thing ...

I was sitting at home with a friend, typing ideas on a computer - [Eboni and another friend, Nik Adams had previously begun a blog for creative women that would be a spring board for Lost Queens]. I felt like I was just going in circles … and that Pharrell song came on and took me. I felt it and went with it.  I had already been experimenting, selling things on Ebay. So Lost Queens was a way to spread my love for women and pretty things.

 

On creating ...

I can’t pretend like I'm this business woman that has it all together. I didn't have business experience coming into this. I’m just myself, what I go through is what is reflected in the collections.

On trusting herself ...

I do second guess myself a lot. It’s something I’m working on. But, Lost Queens was something I needed. It gave me a chance to say to myself and other women, "It’s ok to be beautiful, be yourself, be different."

On the Lost Queens collections ...

The jewelry is secondary to the girl. It's complementary. Lost Queens is all about that moment when they pull out the phone to take a selfie because they're like "Oh, I look poppin’ today.” Or, "Oh, my hair is poppin', so let me put this headband on."

On what she's learned from her brand fans and followers ...

Everything, really. Black women are the most vocal. So I take their feedback seriously ... I take the advice and fix the problem. And put the growth back in the business.

It's hard to want to end this with anything more than a "Thank you." So, sincerely, Eboni. Thank you. For being and doing you.

 

By khoLi.

 

EXPLORE: @KariFaux has something to say. And, we're listening.

 

style

Are you following this 16-year-old reimagining sustainable fashion?

 via Instagram

via Instagram

Ribbon. Branches. Flowers, pots and pans, un-tailored fabric, morning glory, bamboo baskets. Plastic clothes hangers, stuffed animals. Pieces of wood and cement blocks. Balloons. What does this miscellany of things have in common? On the surface, nothing, really. But for a spirited thinker and doer, for someone with a ceaseless drive and a hunger to create something beautiful from the ordinary and the unconventional, these items are access. They are potential pieces of clothing waiting to be imagined and actualized.

Can you imagine a dress composed solely of mosquito netting that spans the length of a palm tree? Apichet "Madaew" Atilattana did. And he made it, too.

 via Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

via Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Madaew, a 16-year-old student and self-proclaimed fashionista, is from Khon Kaen, Thailand. He uses unconventional materials to craft wearable works of art, underlining the simplicity and unexpected beauty of the mundane - the beauty of what is found in nature.

The result? Ethical, responsible, and sustainable fashion transcending the fleeting quality of contemporary clothing trends. And, in an ironic twist, there's a beauty to the ephemerality of Madaew's creations that utilize natural materials like flowers and plants. These specific creations and works of art don't last forever, but the memory of creating them, and the imagination that they embodied upon completion, has a permanent space in time (and on Madaew's colorful Instagram).

Madaew imagines, crafts, and models all of the clothing himself, and he pulls his inspiration primarily from plants and animals. There is fluidity and balance embedded in the pieces that he creates - he is a thoughtful designer and engineer with a keen eye for detail, and it shows in the finished product.

 via  Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

via Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

At once, we're reminded of Kyemah McEntyre, the 18-year-old student from East Orange, New Jersey, who designed and wore a sublime African-inspired dress to her high school's prom. She was crowned the prom queen, but more importantly, she broke the Internet. Kyemah is a student at Parsons now, and over the summer, she created a dress for Power actress and former 3LW member, Naturi Naughton, to wear to the BET Awards.

naturi-naughton-kyemah-mcentyre

If these two teach us anything, it's that our creative talent is accessible at any age. Madaew's future is glittering, and we applaud his visionary approach. The lingering question on our minds is this: What will his NYFW show look like? When it happens, we want in on the front row.

author: Rudolph Maag

 

EXPLORE: Celeste Arendse presents "Breasts of Desire"