Afropunk Fest 2015

Afropunk Fest 2015

I like to consider Afropunk Fest as my initiation into the Brooklyn community — like, you don’t really know Brooklyn until you’ve experienced this explosion of art, culture, and music.

IMG_0038It was the first major event I attended upon moving to the Big Apple in 2013, and it has become sort of like a family reunion, especially for creative people. Aside from the scheduled performances and marketplace, it has been a platform for individuals to simply network, learn from each other, unite, and grow.

This year, the weekend event celebrated its 11th year with talent such as Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, Kelis, and Sza.  I only went for one day, Saturday, mainly to catch Lauryn, instead of making laps around the park photographing people like I usually do. Well, I got a few, but it felt good to mostly sit back and immerse myself in the environment.

I stopped by the Carol’s Daughter booth for some free hair samples (they’re alsounnamed holding a fantastic #bornandmade campaign right now); got a photo op at Bevel, an amazing and fast-growing mens grooming brand; and ventured through the marketplace, taking a mental wish list of the businesses I want to support.

And not surprisingly, in light of the heightened racial tensions happening across the nation with the senseless killings of black people by white supremacists, police officers, and the like, there was an increased amount of activism going on, especially for the black transgender community – In fact, Afropunk has an “Activism Row” to shed light on the work being done in New York’s minority community.

Unfortunately, I did not rock my ‘fro this time, but I will be letting it all out today for Curlfest! Stay tuned.

Fashion for Freedom: Designers take steps to end child trafficking

Fashion for Freedom: Designers take steps to end child trafficking

Fashion fanatics took strides to end child trafficking at The Set NYC’s Fashion Night Out.

The event production group showcased designs by Reverie, Alex Vinash and Irina Shabayeva to support Freedom Ladder, a global non-profit organization dedicated to making the world safe for children.

“Just by coming here, by coming through the doors, you are helping us with our mission,” said founder and director Thomas Estler before the show started.

The proceeds from the event — acquired through admission, food, and raffles — helps Freedom Ladder produce popular entertainment mediums to educate children about self-protection.

“We have partnered with the FBI to create comic books to teach our children how to protect themselves,” Estler said.

Reverie-SetNYCReverie, founded by Israel-native Ronit Genik, elevated the atmosphere of the crowd with its dreamy designs consisting of sheer skirts and tops embellished with starry-like jewels. The designs, deemed “edgy yet whimsical,” are inspired by Genik’s love of nature.

Estler kept the audience on a high with a dance party on the runway before Alex Vinash romanticized the mood with his sophisticated attire.

Alex VinashIt was all about texture — feathers and floral patterns — for Vinash, a former Argentinian ice skating national champion who channels his athletic experience to incorporate a sense of “effortless movement and elegance.”


Irina Shabayeva, Season Six Project Runway winner, left a final imprint on the stage as models swayed down the runway in layered gowns that radiated regalness. Animal-print patterns made a bold statement, complemented by glistening headbands and high slits that accentuated femininity.

Which looks were your faves? And does your fashion shout freedom?

Frances Udukwu crowned in first Miss Nigeria USA pageant

Frances Udukwu crowned in first Miss Nigeria USA pageant
Miss Nigeria USA 2015 finalists
Miss Nigeria USA 2015 finalists (left to right): Olutosin Araromi (1st runner-up), Frances Udukwu (Miss Nigeria USA 2015) and Wuraola Kolawole (2nd runner-up)

Seventeen women with passions to shed light on issues such as human trafficking and early breast cancer detection competed for the first Miss Nigeria USA title in New York on Saturday, May 23, 2015.

The event was founded and directed by Joy Ikedinma Jacob, in hopes of raising the profile of the Nigerian woman and expand their opportunities while celebrating their physical, cultural and intellectual attributes.

Frances Udukwu Miss Nigeria USA
Frances Udukwu, crowned 2015 Miss Nigeria USA, DJs for the talent portion of the pageant.

Frances Udukwu, representing Cross River State, took home the crown after wrapping up the show with an astonishing DJ performance as her talent.



Runners-up were Olutosin Araromi (1st, representing Lagos), Wuraola Kolawole (2nd, representing Ekiti), Vanessa Afogho (3rd, representing Edo) and Junaid Damilola (4th, representing Sokoto) announced by Miss Africa USA.

Miss Nigeria USA 2015 contestants perform an African dance routine in the opening scene.

The event, with appearances by Beyonce’s stylist Ty Hunter, music artist Banky Wellington and America’s Next Top Model and judge Bianca Golden, opened up with an all-white scene where the contestants performed an African dance routine.

It was followed by swimwear, traditional wear, evening wear and a talent portion before the top five contestants were chosen for questioning.

“Beauty without brains is like a car without an engine,” joked pageant co-host Dulo to lighten up the mood. The judges asked the women some serious and powerful questions and some hit close to home:

If you were the president of Nigeria, what would you change?

How can you empower an uneducated woman?

Do you think the women impregnated by Boko Haram should keep or terminate their pregnancies?

Their responses sat well with the crowd.

After announcing the finalists, Meron Wudneh (Miss Africa USA) reminded the women to stay humble and that it’s not about the crown.

It’s about what you do before and after the crown. – Meron Wudneh