Five years ago, today (May 11th), a group of talented and dedicated people -along with myself- set out to prove to the world, that young Black people (read: Pan-African descendants), were much more than the negative stereotypes presented in the media (circa 2007).
We were neither beggars, borrowers nor stealer's... and we were NOT down-trodden coons, shucking-and-jiving for a living... yet, those types of images and connotations surrounded -and still haunt- the Black community. Therefore, with the grace of God and the idea which was given to me, STYLE 101: Magazine (Intro. to Fashion), was formulated and birthed into the world.
(STYLE 101: Premiere issue, May 2007.)
My hometown is Baltimore, Maryland, but I like to think that I received an upbringing befitting of a seasoned traveller, without city limits ;-)
Though divorced, my parents did the best they could and followed the best instructions that their parents gave them (in raising my brother and I)... and from an early age, I've always had an affinity for the arts! I loved music, fashion, dancing, TALKING and being in-the-know, from as early as I can remember... and I'd also like to think that this too, helped contribute to my upbringing and set me up for a bright future!
(Me. As a youth.)
In life, we never can quite figure out what God has planned, or where we're going to go next... but if we try to listen closely to the universe, certain signs and wonders may pop-up here and there, and help take us to where we need and want to be...
As for me, during the last days of high-school and early college years, it was hard to hear exactly what God was saying, LOL... and all I know is that I WAS MOVING... here, there and EVERYWHERE!!! That's not to say I was a bad student or person, by no means... I was actually very involved with life and a bright, young man (pats self on the back). In high-school, I was a member of the drama club, a leader of the fashion club and I became an Eagle Scout at the age of 16!!!
(My Scouting Award.)
As I transitioned into college, I continued on the stylish path and wanted more of fashion, so I joined several fashion/model clubs, and attended Morgan State University, American Intercontinental University and finally the Fashion Institute of Technology, just to realize that it wasn't about the school (per-say), but that it was always about me and what I wanted for myself (which no professor/classroom could ever teach me). Furthermore, it wasn't until I settled into New York (my mom's hometown), that I went full-throttle and chased my dreams with a passion!
I became too much of a workaholic AND a party-boy, and less of an FIT student. And, by my second year at FIT (right after the time of the September 11th tragedy), I wound up in the hospital due to drug addiction; experimenting with marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin ...and I got kicked out of school ... all by the age of 21... *womp womp* :-(
(Me, as a young-adult.)
...But in the midst of it all, I saw and learned a LOT, the majority of which I've been able to apply to my work nowadays (read: STYLE 101). Fast forward from my New York departure (2004), to my return to Morgan State University AND graduating college (2008), to my re-debut on the New York scene (present-day)... and you can see the full-circle-evolution of my life, past and present ;-)
(My College Degree.)
Now, what does all this have to do with my blog/on-line magazine and today's cause-celeb?!? I know, I know *blah, blah, blah* ...well, to answer your burning questions LOL, while I was being studious in New York (in-between the bad, party habits), I simultaneously worked at/ interned/ freelanced for several, great, fashion establishments such as IMG Models, NV Magazine, Teen People, New York Fashion Week, InStyle Magazine, Colgate-Palmolive and Francis Hendy... I had even attended the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards and MTV VMA's and was interviewed by their Viacom affiliates, several times! So there you have it, that's just a smidgen of my work history and industry experience, which does -somewhat- validate me and proves that I at least know what the f*#@ I'm talking about (for all you haters out there, LOL)... Uhm hmmm!!!
But anyways, while I did all of those great, aforementioned things, I was constantly reminded that I (along with maybe 2 or 3 more people), was the ONLY BLACK PERSON in the room, or on the set... and this was always subconsciously disturbing to me! I'd always thought that because I loved fashion, I would seemingly run into a lot of others 'like me' who loved fashion too... but I could always count that number of people on 1-hand... let alone the number of 'us' that were represented by the industry or 'presented' via the media, because those numbers were always low too... and sadly, still are low today ;-(
So, after all that's said and done, regardless of what the reason may be (for the above mentioned)... God gave me the vision and the plan to help make some positive changes in this industry that I love! And NO it does not involve me going in the door, guns-a-blazing, demanding change(s) from fashion hierarchy... LOL, can you imagine the face(s) people would make?! *yikes* ...instead, it just involves doing what I can do, with what I have, and CREATING MY OWN WORK SPACE within the industry that I love! Period, point blank!
Anna Wintour even responded (years ago), to the knowledge I was gaining from the industry!
So, it's really not about 'you' as a person, at-the-end-of-the-day... it really boils down to WHAT you know, and HOW you're going to follow-through with making things happen! All great achievers have this one trait in common! Even further, there's a famous quote that says, "...be the change that you want to see," and regardless of whoever originated those few words, I can totally respect that and I can totally say that, I GET IT NOW!
So, it doesn't matter what the next man or woman is doing and whether or not they're employing Black talent(s), or featuring Black talent(s)... the question is, 'what am I doing for Black talent?!,' and once I began to answer that, the road became more clear for me... and thus, you have STYLE 101, today! *insert applause here* ...lol ;-D
Now, that's not to say that I'm shutting the scene down, or feel high-and-mighty or waving a flag around... goodness no! I'm just proud of the fact that I'm willing to make a change in the world, and help people along at the same time... Hence the reason I also founded a fashion club on the campus of Morgan State University (called FAM, Fashion At Morgan), before I graduated... because I didn't want any other young, Black person to have to waiver or be far-reaching in their search for fashion!
I figured that if there was a program that could harness your skills and hold you down during undergrad (for four years), then you'd be good -figuratively- and wouldn't have to worry about skipping classes or getting involved with negative behavior because your time would be preoccupied with doing what you love! And seeing as though FAM -started in 2005- is just a little, bit older than STYLE 101, I'd say that so-far-so-good, God has been doing a really great job through the students... and through me! LOL... *woop woop* ;-D
WHEW! I can talk right?! ...LOL... I feel like all of that was a mouthful... or a double-mouthful, seeing as though nowadays, 89.9% of most people don't read past 140 characters!!!!!! So yeah... LMAO, thanks social media -___-
Anyways, I've said all that I've had to say, in an effort to try and explain the origin(s) of the magazine, and what STYLE 101 means in the fashion landscape! As the Editor in Chief of this project, it's steadily grown over the past five years, owned and operated by me... as a part of my business venture, GET (God Established This, LLC). GET is not a religious corporation -despite the name's connotation- lol... but, I decided to call it that, because it's pretty simple... we all come from that ONE life source (no matter what name you ascribe to it), and it's from there that we get all of our high-minded and most positive thoughts and ideas (the God-source), so instead of me saying random stuff like, "oh yeah, I came up with this...," or, "yes, I did all of that by myself...," I prefer to say that God gave me this, or God gave me that, because again, if you believe, you shall receive... and all that jazz ;-)
Looking towards the future, I understand that this project cannot just be contained in or to a Black market or readership... it has to open up, based on the simple fact that 'we' (Blacks), are not the only group(s) of people that are or have been marginalized. So, it's with that anxiety, that I've become more and more curious to feature and/or promote ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE and see or share what their side of the story is... no matter Black, White, Asian or Spanish (and everything else, in between). And over the course of my lifetime, I've learned that you have to know where you come from, in order to get where you're going... So, don't be shocked or alarmed when you start to see the color-lines fade... it's for good cause... each one, teach one! And, after all, WE ARE ONE!
THANK YOU -EVERYONE- FOR YOUR LOVE, PRAYERS & SUPPORT... AND PLEASE, JOIN ME IN WISHING STYLE 101 A VERY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! *WOO HOO*
P.S.- GOD BLESS YOU, TOO!!!