Author Archives: Aya

Notes From the 6 Train: My Time in Toronto

Kennsington Shop

I want to tell you about the cool things going on in Toronto. It’s a really neat city that’s super close to New York and is cheaper to get to the most US cities. Luckily, I have friends there who were able to show me all around the interesting places, and avoid all the toursit traps. We went to Kensington Market that was made up of all sorts of homey and inviting shops that just scream “come check me because I will probably have sorts of stuff you won’t find anywhere else.” This was true indeed. We also got to eat some amazing churros infused with chocolate and dulce de leche cream. I didn’t know that such a thing existed but once I found it, I keep returning to the market just for the churros. Here was where I found the groovy hat in the picture beneath. I found it at a vintage store for about $8.50 US dollars! Any avid vintage shopper knows just how pricey vintage items can be, so this was quite a steal. It is now my favorite hat!

I was lucky enough to be in town for Toronto’s biannual Vintage Crawl. Vintage Crawl is when all the vintage stores in the city stay open until midnight, offer AMAZING deals on merchandise and offer free drinks, beer and snacks. Some stores even had live Dj’s. I guess they figure the more you’re eating, drinking and dancing, the less attention you’re paying to the money flying out of your wallet. They’re probably right, because I bought several items, and every single person I went to the crawl at least bought one item. I’ve never been to the vintage crawl on Brooklyn, but I had such a good time in T. Dot that I will certainly check it out the next time it crawls around.

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That’s me at Toronto’s largest monthly queer hip hop party, Yes Yes Ya’ll! Toronto has a pretty progressive queer and polyamorous community, so being able to experience just taste of it was a treat. The entire placed was packed and the crowd was incredibly diverse. They also played a variety of music types, from old school hip to current hip hop as well as reggae and dancehall ( Canada has an extremely large Caribbean community, with their being more of Caribbean descent in Canada than in the actual Caribbean).

I also went to the Textile Museum of Canada, which had several interesting exhibitions, but one of my favorites was about kimonos. I also went to check out “This Is Not A Toy,” curated by Pharell Williams at the Design Exchange, which was all about… TOYS!

unnamed ( Me looking like a nerd attempting to wear a kimono)

pharrell_williams_guest_curates_design_exchange_this_is_not_a_toy_exhibition ( Snapshot from “This Is Not A Toy)

I was able to do so amazing cool things in just the 4 days I was there. If you’re looking for a quick get away this summer, jut look up!

All things Color, Love, & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

Notes From the 6 Train: Bring Back Our Girls

So, if you haven’t heard about the crisis in Nigeria, here’s a little back story. Several weeks ago, approximately 234 Nigerian girls were kidnapped in the middle of night by a famously corrupt, brutal and dangerous Islamic extremist military group called Boko Haram. This group has committed some of the worst atrocities against the people of Nigeria within the past decade or so. Boko Haram steals women from villages, but have never carried out such a large kidnapping at once. The girls who are kidnapped are often forced to work as “porters, sex slaves, and cooks,” according to Aljazeera. There have been other reports that many of the girls were auctioned of as wives to members of the Boko Haram, for as low as twelve dollars. The Nigerian government did not attempt to rescue the missing girls and as a result there have been global protests crying for some type of assistance to help locate the girls. I attended the protest at Union Square a few weeks ago, here are some of the photos.

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I thought that it was an interesting concept to get those who attended the protest to wear head wraps or (geles, the more traditional term) to show solidarity and oneness with the young women who have been kidnapped. Everyone looked stunning. Simply amazing. After I saw a women hearing stilettos though, and almost all the women participating in mini photo shoots to go on their Instagram I began to wonder, is this a fashion show or a protest? Clothes are very powerful, and have the ability to convey strong messages about images, ideas and people you may for, against, or want to align yourself with. That’s the power of fashion and clothing, but I think it’s important to comprehend why we dressing a certain way, and the messages we are sending out when we do so.

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Take a look and decide for yourself. Within the last 24 hours President Obama has announced that he has sent some assistance in finding the girls. I have attached some links to several articles about the crisis if you’re interested.

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All things Color, Love, & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

http://time.com/108025/nigeria-chad-boko-haram-american-troops-obama/

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/4/21/parents-234-girlskidnappedfromnigeriaschool.html

Notes From The 6 Train: Talkin To Da Bomb’

(Okay, please excuse the terrible name of this post it’s nearing finals and we all need some humor in our life). I did, however meet the editor in chief of Fashion Bomb Daily, Claire Sulmers. Fashion Bomb Daily is a blog directed towards the multicultural fashionista highlighting style and trends sported by celebrities of color. The Fashion Bomb Daily gets over 2.4 million hits monthly, and Claire Sulmers has been been a guest at 106 & Park on BET, featured in Time, Glamour, shot an ad for Covergirl, and is contributor to Essence & Vogue.it. Her list of appearances, accomplishments and awards is much longer than the brief listing I’ve posted here, click the link posted at the bottom of the post to see what else Claire’s up to!

Claires-Life-Speaking-to-Fashion-Institute-of-Technologys-Black-Retail-Action-Group-fashion-bomb-daily-claire-sulmers-brag-fit ( Claire Sulmers with BRAG members, the organization that sponsored the event)

She spoke briefly about the ongoing battle concerning the lack of inclusion in the fashion industry. (I’ve written about the lack of diversity on the runway, luxury brands, and top executives in general, etc. in other posts if you want to check it out). It feel good hearing what other people in the industry are doing to abolish this reality, so we can create a new one in which are fabulous people are recognized in fashion, no matter the race.

Claire also spoke about challenges she faced while breaking into the business. She was a storyteller, giving us small fashion vignettes, ranging from her time in in Paris while interning at French Vogue and nearly living on the streets, to how she became friendly with Anna Wintour. Hearing her success story, fueled by unadulterated passion and dedication was welcomed by all, especially the graduating seniors, who like to hear reaffirming stories. She was such a sweetheart and I am so glad that my 2 o’clock was canceled, so that I could stay and just chit chat with her a bit.

photo (Claire & I)

Also, here’s a bit of sidebar. After we took the photo posted above, she sent it to her sister, who happens to be an old classmate and former captain of my high school dance team (in Atlanta, GA, nonetheless), saw it and contacted me via FB. This is the exact reason I always talk about being kind to people, you never know how we are all connected. Granted, this doesn’t guarantee a job for me (though I did give her my resume, as all well prepared FIT students have resumes on them), however, if I treated her sister terribly years ago while in high school and she told her, that would probably guarantee that I wouldn’t any type of job or internship.. Just a bit of food for thought for you all. Below I have posted a link to The Fashion Bomb Daily website, check it out!

All things Color, Love, & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

http://fashionbombdaily.com/2014/04/30/claires-life-speaking-fashion-institute-technologys-black-retail-action-group/

Notes From the 6 Train: Why Being A Student Rocks (Even Though We’re All Ready For Summer)

I recently went to see “A Raisin In The Sun,” for just $20, (a show with tickets easily climbing into several hundred dollars) thanks to FIT’s discounted student tickets! This was the first time I’ve ever attended a play using a student ticket, actually this was my first NYC play! (My first place was starring Denzel Washington, can you believe it?) to be able to see such a big star, in such an amazing play for so cheap! If you all don’t about of A Raisin In The Sun, written by Lorraine Hansbury. it’s name is borrowed from a line a Dream Deferred, an immensely popular poem written by Harlem Renaissance writer Langton Hughes. The plot is about the perils, the Younger’s,a dysfunctional family, experience shortly after the death of the father. It deals with the very real issues of assimilation, class issues, sexism and racism. This piece of art is an extremely popular literary pillar of black American culture. In fact, I’ve seen/ read this piece of work several times, but it wasn’t until just seeing it the other day that I got it. I mean, really understood, the type of understanding that comes only with experiencing life.

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I stress taking advantage of these NYC student perks, because they don’t last forever and you’ll regret i if you don’t cease the opportunity now. Honestly,How many people can say there were afforded the opportunity to see award winning New York City plays for twenty dollars? Not many, that’s for sure.

Notes From The 6 Train: Draggin’ On

My Honor’s Project premiered a few weeks ago. It wasn’t a red carpet premiere, but nothing compares to the feeling of showcasing a project you’ve been working hard on and people actually enjoying. Since the beginning of the semester, my group and I have been meeting every single Wednesday evening from 6:30-8:00. As a commuter student who doesn’t have class on Wednesday’s, making the trudge from Harlem during snowstorms was quite a challange, but our premiere made it all worth it.

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Our project “Can’t Drag Me Down,” was about drag queen culture and we showcased the lives of two NYC Drag Queens, BibleGirl666 & Robyn Banks. We got to spend time with them and learn about the rewards and difficulties about being a drag queen, all while watching them transform from regular guys to astounding drag queens!

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Most importantly, I met new and spent time with people I probably wouldn’t have known otherwise, which is always a nice plus. I made friends with our advisor, Christie Shin, my group members and even one of the drag queens. She was so happy with the finished project, and she even invited to her upcoming party. It’s always interesting to see how one opportunity leads to other opportunities and relationships. Anyways, check it out if you’re interested!

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

Notes From the 6 Train: FIT Clubbin’

This past weekend I traveled with BRAG to Washington, DC. Many clubs often have end of year trips, which is great because it gives students to check out other places around the world, for a fraction of the price. If the organization makes an effort, holds fundraisers to raise money, then the school is willing to help to donate funds. Sometimes, students have to pay, but it’s only a fraction of what the entire trips cost. Of course, the club is only allowed to go it there is some educational value attached to that, like attending a conference or meeting with another chapter at a different university’s campus.

These trips promote club bonding, and people get to explore some pretty places too. We got to do all that educational stuff, but we also got the chance to explore DC and eat some great food! The club bonding is incredibly valuable, since, as I’ve mentioned before, the fashion industry is all about who you know. When you are involved in clubs at school you are beginning to create you fashion allies!

10247420_10152221105254471_6887054848288743376_n ( BRAG at the Martin Luther King memorial)

Other clubs also go on yearly trips. The international trade student association usually goes to the MAGIC show in Las Vegas, but this year they are going to Miami for a different conference. The jewelry club is going to Seattle and the Black Student Alliance went to visit Atlanta this weekend.

FIT provides some many opportunities for students to explore throughout the country. This is a huge difference from my old university, and as a traveler, I am very much appreciative of the opportunities. I will continue to take advantage of all these opportunities that arise, and you should too!

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

Notes From the 6 Train: Alternative options for Spring Break

Spring break could not come fast enough! The momentary Break from classes, and this cold winter/ rainy spring weather, is more than welcomed. This is the first spring break that I will not be going home. Where am I going you may ask? Panama City? Miami? No, no, I am going somewhere event more exotic…
Canada! Toronto to be exact. Now, I know what you are thinking. Won’t Canada still be cold? Hmh, possibly, of course it won’t be Nearly as warm as Miami or Panama City, but is another country ( I try and leave the country at least once a year), and with airfare as low as $85 one way, it’s a much more student budget friendly.

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Even before I had been invited to Toronto, I had planned anther alternative spring break trip. I was going to couchsurf the east coast. I find that so many New Yorkers get stuck in New York. The east coast has so many cool cities, and with most them being a few hours away by bus, and not that expensive to get to, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be explored. I was going to do this via the website couchsurfing.org, a free travel website/community created for adventurers. I used this website while I was in South Korea and wanted to visit the capital city of Seoul. It’s almost like a dating website, but for houseguests. You must create a personal profile that is viewable for others. Find people in the new city/ country you plan on visiting, check out their references, request to spend a night or two then, the viola! You’re an official couchsurfer. If this makes you nervous, you can go to couchsurfing events held in your city to meet other people who’ve done it and see what it’s like. It’s a great way to meet new people, get a chance to truly experience the culture of the city and stay somewhere for free. (When I did this, I met people from all over the world and now have places to stay in South Africa, Korea and even made a friend who now lives in NY!) The link is posted below.

tumblr_mnyyqt8lK21s7xb93o1_1280 ( My couchsurfing friends & I at Pride in Seoul.)

Now, if you aren’t quick the risk-taker as this, which I completely get, there are other ways to explore. Upstate New York has a million different things to check out, many of which are perfect spots for day trips. Or you can take a day trip to a nearby city like Philadelphia or DC, if you still want to actually leave NY. Just don’t stay in your room all day on Tumblr!

My plan is to return to campus with new experiences, new friends and not be completely broke. That sounds like a good spring break to me, I hope yours is too.

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/how-it-works

Notes From the 6 Train: Resume Works

This past week Mike Brown, the recruiter from Lord & Taylor and Erica Pfeffer, the campus recruiter, from Lord & Taylor, came to FIT and gave a comprehensive resume workshop. This event was sponsored through BRAG, so there wasn’t a ton of people which made the event intimate and personalized to our questions.

Mike Brown is a friendly, but no nonsense type of guy. As a recruiter, he doesn’t sugarcoat his thoughts. He knows what it takes to get it hired. Here a few tips he suggested when he spoke the other day.

He suggest putting concrete numbers. They don’t want to hear a bunch of fluff. Recruiters that have been doing it for a while can see directly through all the flowery and decorative language ( much like this) and suggest leaving it out, and putting in real information. They want to see hard numbers, if you helped your company decrease costs by 1% or helped to raise sells by .5% that’s what they want to know.

All students should have business cards, even if they with just say your name and that you’re a student. Or, what you aspire to be. It’s an easy way to exchange information when networking. You come off as much more professional, plus who doesn’t want to feel like a boss? Business cards make you feel 100x more fancy.

Once, you land an interview, do your research. If there is a phone interview first, make sure it’s scheduled for a time you’re actually free. They spoke about when they’ve called candidates, who set the interview time, who were out and about and had to reschedule. If you make it past the phone interview, make sure you inquire about who the interviewer is and approximately how long the interview will run. All of this preliminary makes you seem attentive and that way you can research them on LinkedIn (which you should have). They will get a notification when you check out their profile, and be impressed. You will also have talking points when you go in for the interview.

These seminars are so informative for several reasons, they give insider tidbits on how to be successful and it can the catalyst for forming relationships with the people already in the industry. Even if you’re not interested in the corporate world right now, it’s importnat to know some resume/ industry pointers in general, because the skills can be expanded into other fields. Take advantage of these opportunities when they arise.

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

Notes From The 6 Train: Acceptance!

“Ahhhhhhh!” That was the first sound to escape my mouth when I my parents told me that I was accepted into FIT. I couldn’t believe it. This was such a special moment for me. Firstly, I had completed the entire application overseas while I was in South Korea. This entire process was much for difficult than I ever would have anticipated. Due to the 13 hour time difference, correspondence to the United States was a struggle. Whenever I had a question or wanted to confirm that my paperwork had been received I would have to call, sometimes late in the evening, because that’s when it was morning/ daytime in the United States. Actually being able to call was a struggle. I didn’t have an international phone so I relied on Skype call, without knowing that when I was overseas I wouldn’t be able to use my American debit card to add any more cash. One of my close friends added money to account for me and even called FIT a few times for me. Throughout this entire process I became quite frustrated and considered stopping my application midway through the process.

tumblr_mlkfr2l3B81s7xb93o1_1280 (Here’s the photo of me looking crazy after finding out I was accepted.)

As a senior in high school I didn’t even fill out the application to go to FIT because I didn’t think I would be accepted, knowing how competitive this school is. A year and a half later, while overseas in South Korea, I had finally gained enough self confidence to take a shot. This shot paid off! With help from a lot of people, especially my friend who put money in my account and pestered the kind at FIT for me, my dream was realized. It took a journey for me, but I it all worked out the way it was suppose to, with me at FIT. What was your experience of applying to FIT?

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

Notes From the 6 Train: Showroom Showtime!

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Last week BRAG (the club I’m apart of that you should totally think of joining) took a trip to the Converse showroom. Visiting a showroom of such an iconic brand felt very humbling. Everyone has owned a pair of Chuck’s at some point in their life, it’s like a U.S. rites of passage. It’s like we walked right into apart of American history, a majestic world of sneakers. Bubblegum colored shoes and edgy T-shirts lined the elegantly gray stained walls of the lobby.

url-2 (Not a photo from the showroom, but the vibe in the showroom was equally as cool.)

Leslie Smith, the Converse merchandise manager, was kind enough to show us around the entire building. The show room was divided into 3 floors. The bottom floor was for the business-y stuff, we walked by a group of people wh were literally going through every single item of clothing and pricing each individual item. The top floor was dedicated to designing and the middle floor showcased concepts for future lines. This was one was my favorite one. We got to peak into the ideation of what’s to come. Unfortunately, I was unable to take photos because everything we saw will be released spring/ fall 15′ and they don’t want their ideas falling into the general public prior to their scheduled release. Besides seeing the inner-workings of the showroom, then entire trip was highly inspiring, not just for me but everyone who went on the trip. As students we spend hours upon hours in class, studying, rushing between internships and jobs, then come home to stay up all night hyped up on coffee to complete school projects. Then, in the very wee hours of the morning, we think to ourselves, “what is all this for, what’s the point of all this?” Then, one day you go into the Converse showroom and you remember why, why you choose to study at FIT, why you fell in love with fashion in the first place. Even if your dreams aren’t to work in the Converse, just visiting re-lights that internal fashion fire.

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.