Be it ever so Humble…

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I met photographer Don Porter when I first hit the fashion scene in Charlotte a few years back.

Pretty much everything I know about the world of fashion shows I learned from him.

So when he asked me to attend a photo shoot at his studio I was ready. Eager to learn more from my knowledgeable teacher.

Then he told me who the designer was. Humble Connor. And I was on cloud nine.

I had met her briefly last year. But I’ve been a fan for several years after seeing her designs on the runway at Charlotte Fashion Week.

I’m drawn to her dramatic, oversized sleeves and her ruching fabrics.

She asked if I’d like to try on one of her pieces. I’ve never been so excited to put on an article of clothing in my life!!!

The feeling of wearing something that will be on the runway soon is a feeling I cannot even describe.

The first piece was an all black outfit. Pairing her own violin against the puffy black sleeves was striking. And the model, Erica Miller, was a good sport, posing on a ladder despite her fear of heights.

The second look was this sea of tulle paired with the most gorgeous satin pants. First photographed with the denim jacket I tried on then without.

We finished up outside at a construction site with my favorite outfit of the day.

The asymmetrical cut of this suit and the colors blew me away. And I would rock this ensemble in any situation.

I got to know the designer and realized her heart and personality were just as amazing as her designs. And I can’t wait to see more.

Getting to watch Don in action was also an experience. I normally see him perched at the end of a runway. He’s a very talented photographer.

Spending the day with two of my favorites in the fashion world was truly Humbling.

https://www.humbleconnor.net/

https://donporterphotography.com/

https://instagram.com/ericachrimiller?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=aq0rvd0on43x

All you need is Love

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

I just wanted to write a short little blog about True Love.

When I was around 9-10, Love’s Baby Soft perfume was very popular.

My mom refused to buy it for me. All of my classmates wore it. And my whole ballet class smelled like the sweet baby powder scent that I wanted so bad.

Our ballet class had Secret Santa that year. I hoped and wished to be able to open my gift and find a box of the much coveted scent.

But while all the other girls opened their tiny rectangular boxes and squealed in delight at their new bottle, I looked at my box. Not wanting to open it. It was much too big to be a bottle of perfume.

The teacher finally persuaded me to open it.

It wasn’t a bottle of perfume… It was a whole gift set of Love’s Baby Soft products!!!

My mom wasn’t very pleased, but I was ecstatic!!! I’ll never forget that feeling.

It remained one of my favorite Christmas memories. Until this year.

My 9 year old Grand Diva spent her money at Santa’s Workshop on gifts for her family.

When I was her age I had just started collecting all things Japanese. I also wished for my beloved perfume.

When I opened my gift it was two things from my childhood that I loved the most. A Japanese fan and my favorite scent.

From a sweet little girl who knew nothing of my 9 year old self.

Yet she has my genes. My Diva genes. And she just knew.

One day she will understand my confused look.

She will understand why I said “But how did you know?”

And one day she will understand the tears of joy I shed that Christmas.

And she too, will have memories of True Love.

Rhyme or Reason

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Reasons Brown is not your everyday designer.

We all know the type. They talk a big game about getting their designs out there but they never really do anything to make it happen.

That’s not how his brand works. Lootswaay Clothing refers to ‘Money is the Persuasion’. And he’s constantly and tirelessly hyping his work.

But he’s not just a designer. He’s also a musician. And plays basketball for Bluefield State College In West Virginia.

He doesn’t identify with any one in general. He hates to be put into a box. When I asked if he had to do only one he couldn’t choose. Because without all three he wouldn’t be ‘Reasons’.

“You have to protect your energy” he told me. “Learn as much as you can along the way”.

Music lets him express himself. And basketball fuels his energy. While designing is his way to get his point across.

Pay Me… That’s his mission statement. Pay me for my time. My work. My dream.

So many of us have gifts and talents and don’t know our worth.

Reasons Brown knows his worth. And he makes sure everyone knows it.

I recently channeled him during a meeting with a brand. I could hear his voice in my head telling me to know my worth. To get paid.

And it worked.

I met him for a reason. We both believe in living according to ‘God’s Timing’. Our mutual friend, rapper IV Montana, knew we would click. He knew we needed each other’s influence.

He believes we are our own competition. He also believes that if he isn’t meant to succeed then he will be the inspiration for the one who does.

His streetwear style is favored by men and women alike.

He felt accomplished and motivated the first time he spotted someone wearing one of his pieces.

If you look closely you will notice the number 25 on many of his pieces.

This is paying homage to a fellow basketball player that passed away.

He has started a fund in his memory. And each time he takes to the stage to perform or each time he sells a piece from his collection a portion of what he earns goes into that fund.

He told me it’s important to be consistent. “Be who you say you are”.

It’s rare to meet such a humble and selfless person in today’s world.

To know him is to know his worth more than money.

He gives us so many ‘Reasons’ to be thankful.

https://www.lootswaayclothing.com/

Still Rocking

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Ryan Jor El Hosted his second annual Black Fathers Rock Awards recently at Pease Auditorium.

Starting as an idea written in his notebook, Black Fathers Rock has now grown and has garnered national attention.

Honorees are divided into six categories.

FATHER OF THE YEAR:

Fans of the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers will recognize Roman Harper for his skills on the football field. And despite leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2016, he is most honored to receive this award. Being a good father is his greatest accomplishment.

SURROGATE FATHER OF THE YEAR:

Whether you read about him in Forbes Magazine or saw him on the news or Ellen, you know Barry White Jr. as ‘The Handshake Teacher’.

He greets each student as they enter the building and every child gets their own personalized handshake.

He serves as a positive male presence in the children’s lives and gets them pumped up for each school day.

SENIOR FATHER OF THE YEAR:

Dr. Clifford Jones Sr. has a presence felt around the world. He’s headed many overseas missions, as well as many leadership positions here at home.

Despite winning innumerable awards through the years he was most humbled by this one.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”.

The quote he favors from 3 John 1:4 sums him up perfectly.

ENTREPRENEUR FATHER OF THE YEAR:

Justin Radcliffe, known as Chef Rico, is one of Charlottes most recognized chefs.

The private chef has worked with celebrities such as Cam Newton.

He views fatherhood as a learning experience. Taking it one day at a time.

DAPPER DAD OF THE YEAR:

The well dressed actor Yandrick Paraison was honored to be recognized for his wardrobe choices.

However, it’s the admiration from his children that means the most.

He recalled walking through the mall with his sons and noticing his son checking out his outfit. Hearing his son acknowledge his Dapperness was the ultimate award.

ACTIVIST FATHER OF THE YEAR:

The award winning educator knows financial independence should start at a young age.

He founded the Be More Foundation to help urban youth make life choices that will end the cycle of poverty.

The Ultimate Black Father who Rocks is Founder Ryan Jor El.

The audience witnessed this when daughter Peyton, upset that her daddy couldn’t see her waiving from her seat, was brought on stage.

Coordinating with her mother in a dress by Tygerian Lace, she stole the spotlight from her dad while showing how much he truly rocks.

Black Fathers Rock continues to change the narrative and recognize fathers active and present in their community.

https://linktr.ee/blkfathersrock

https://linktr.ee/ryan_jorel

https://instagram.com/darkroom.photography?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=1ob4wjrb7m7t0

https://instagram.com/ginadanals?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=1xo0lqwlchhb

https://www.tygerianlace.com/

http://www.seed20.org/participant/the-be-more-foundation/

A Thousand Words

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I’m a firm believer in signs. I look for them everywhere. And my soul pulls me to people that belong in my life.

This is how and why I met Photgrapher Don Harris. Or ‘Nikon Don’ as he’s known in the industry.

I had a media pass for a fashion show and when I walked in I was unsure where the media was to set up.

Although I knew several people in the room I approached Don and asked for info.

We immediately followed each other on social media and he clicked on my latest blog.

“You wrote about sickle cell” he said.

I told him how I connected with a local podcast host because our children have the disease in common. And although my daughter has had minimal symptoms I wanted to learn more and bring more attention to an illness most of the world overlooks.

He said to me “I have sickle cell. I just got out of the hospital last week”.

I then realized why, out of everyone in the room, I was drawn to him.

The 35 year old suffers from the most severe form of the disease and spent a great deal of his childhood in the hospital.

He knew he was different from most kids and hated being seen as ‘weak’.

“This disease is both a gift and a curse” he explained.

The weakness actually gave him strength.

Meditating as a child without even knowing the meaning of the word.

Looking back he sees the front he put on. Channeling his pain into his creativity.

Art was an outlet for him. And drawing led to going to college for graphic design.

However photography was always a part of him.

He took his first photo at his mother’s work function at age 10 and soon became the family Photgrapher.

He went from borrowing a Nikon camera to being sponsored by Nikon.

The opportunity for his own studio fell into his lap. He uses Hardpress Studio not only for his own work but for all the talent in the community.

It’s a platform to help others achieve their dream.

His illness has caused him to miss important shoots. But you can never tell when you see him. His energy and smile take over and he is not defined by his disease.

Being in the fashion scene I’ve witnessed photographers working with models.

I’ve never seen one interact with them like Don does. He makes them feel at ease. And it shows in the final product.

When he talks people listen. He teaches instead of instructing. He demonstrates instead of directing. And the results are amazing.

I soon discovered we have a mutual friend, celebrity designer Stevie Boi. I was honored to attend the photo shoot for his Pink collection shot by Don.

They work in unison. One knows what the other is thinking. And you can witness this by being in the room with them.

They call each other ‘brother’ although the only DNA they have in common are the sickle shaped blood cells pulsing through their veins.

Neither remembers how they met. But I know that we three came together for a reason.

Our souls connected us. And together we will form a tight bond that Sickle Cell will have to face. Three stubborn, determined creative minds that will one day outsmart this disease.

He is more than his illness. He’s more than a photographer. He’s more than an artist. He’s more than a brother, father, friend…

A picture is worth a thousand words. But it takes more than a thousand words to describe Nikon Don.

https://instagram.com/nikondon?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=qh0vhlmgzd9h

https://www.hardpressstudio.com/

Pick 6

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No, I wasn’t playing football. I was playing dress up at one of Charlotte’s most charming boutiques.

My blogger friend Reagan and I spent the afternoon at Apricot Lane trying on half of the store.

What started out as a ‘Top 3 Picks’ turned into a Top 5, and eventually and Top 6. Well 7 if you wanted to go for the field goal and include the cute clover shaped necklace.

Pick #1:

This dress will be living in my closet soon. It’s soft and comfy and will look great paired with my over the knees boots or some tights and flats.

#2:

Why wear your heart only on your sleeve when you can wear it all over?? This distressed sweater would be perfect for Valentines Day.

#3:

Anyone that knows me can tell you my closet is a jungle. Full of leopards. They say leopard print is back in style but to me it never left. I consider it a neutral.

Since it has the same distressing as the heart sweater I think it would look best paired with some tailored black trousers. Or if you’re really adventurous try some red or fuchsia leggings!

#4:

This sweater was one that I was unsure of but took to the fitting room anyway. It’s so soft and a beautiful color of pink that this redheaded blogger can pull off. It can be worn with jeans or skirts. Try wearing it off one shoulder with a cute bra or cami strap showing.

#5:

I was struck by the color blocking stripes. And surprised by the softness of this sweater. To be honest, everything in the store is incredibly soft. This would look great with jeans and a beanie coordinating with one of the stripes.

#6…ok and 7:

This sage green top complimented my hair and skin tone so well. It can also be worn off the shoulder and can be dressed up or down.

The batwing sleeves hide the parts of my arm I don’t like emphasized.

And makes a perfect backdrop for the icy silver necklace.

Now can you see why I couldn’t just pick 3? Or 5??

I’ve never been to a more welcoming, friendly shop. And the clothing really compliments my figure.

They don’t try to sell you something that doesn’t make you look and feel great.

Your smile and your style are their calling card.

Every shopping trip is a Touchdown!

https://instagram.com/apricotlanecharlotte?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=qd0lo1qxemkk

https://www.facebook.com/ApricotLaneCharlotte/

https://www.reaganinmyownworld.com/blog/blue-velvet-and-wine-red

Unloc’d

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When my friend and mentor Ryan Jor El told me he has something he wants me to blog, but he couldn’t tell me what it was, I immediately said “yes”.

Now I wouldn’t go in blindly to a situation for just anyone, but I trust Ryan. His input and support have helped me build my brand, so I knew this would be something big.

I honestly thought he was announcing a sequel to his ‘Fashion & Fatherhood’ book, or expanding his line of pocket squares.

I don’t think anyone anticipated what was about to transpire.

Guests were intrigued by the addition of a barber chair to his living room.

Perhaps he developed a new hair care product?

Maybe he’s helping launch the career of a barber friend.

But I had a feeling. I cornered him and asked “Are you cutting your hair off??”

His eyes darted to the side. And he turned away from me as he confirmed my suspicions.

I was stunned.

I watched as thirty or so of his closest friends and family filtered in.

Only a few had figured out what was happening.

Ryan announced to us all that after fourteen years of growing his locs it was time for a change.

He invited those closest to him because he needed our support.

“I would cancel a hair appointment but I’d never cancel a party” he told us.

In his true ‘Go big or go home’, over the top fashion, Ryan threw a party for his hair.

Although this was his ‘big day’, the room was filled with talent from various arenas. From photographers to graphic designers, chefs to project managers, party planners to event hosts, and even a guy who operates his own mobile phone charging stations!

Of course he surrounds himself with creative minds. And we came together to be his support team.

We watched our friend completely consumed with emotion. Struggling with his decision. Almost hoping we would try and stop him.

His wife Cashmere has never seen him without his signature dreadlocks. She stayed close through the process, stepping in when she sensed his wavering.

His three year old daughter Peyton couldn’t quite understand her fathers announcement and was full of questions.

“What’s daddy doing?”

“Does it hurt?”

And ultimately offering her own words of support.

“Daddy now your hair will look like mine.”

There was a collective gasp as Ty, his longtime loctitian, snipped the first strand.

He sank lower and lower into the chair. His once strong build seemed to crumple before us. And although he assured his daughter it wouldn’t hurt, it was in fact hurting him inside.

India Arie famously sang “I am not my hair”.

But are we, in fact, defined by our hair?

The ancient Greeks considered long hair on men as an ornate sign of power.

Native Americans believe long locks can contain certain sensory abilities. Much like the whiskers in a cat, hair can serve as a sixth sense.

And of course no one can forget Samson. The biblical Superhero who’s powers were tied to his hair.

Would our friend lose his powers as well?

This was one of Ryan’s biggest concerns. The brand he has built is associated with his long locs. And he questions whether it will suffer due to the change.

But one by one we each shared what strengths we see in him.

Upon first meeting him I didn’t notice his hair. It was his beaming smile and his ability to talk to you as if you’re the most important person in the room.

A former colleague from his corporate America days remembers his professionalism and confidence.

Fellow fraternity brothers recall the flack they endured when Ryan refused to cut his hair upon joining. They supported him then and they’re supporting him now.

Ty Nelson was shocked when her longtime client told her he’s cutting his hair after fourteen years.

She cried because she was so attached to her client and didn’t want to see her work undone.

As she and his barber Tavares Green finished up, he slowly realized perhaps his strength really doesn’t lie in his locs and his demeanor changed. The strength he had all along began to resurface. And he sat up straight, steadfast in his decision.

He saw, as did India Arie, ‘Its not what’s on your head, it’s what’s underneath.’

He didn’t want to see it until the end. So the reveal was surprise to him.

Then Ryan, being Ryan, fell in love with himself all over again.

He’s still adjusting to his new look. He can put on a shirt without moving his hair. And it’s cold without hair! And he will continue to notice little things day after day until he’s content. And life without locs will be his new norm.

I was honored to be a part of my friends emotional journey. And even though I’ll joke with him about it I realize how hard it was.

Why do we put so much stock in our locks? Why do they hold so much power?

Will the mysteries of our hair ever be Unlocked?

https://linktr.ee/ryan_jorel

*** I’ve used both LOCS and LOCKS interchangeably throughout this blog. It was intentional. Locs when referring specifically to Ryan’s hair and Locks when referring to hair in general.