Why: Inspiration. Empowerment. Freedom. Beauty. Show the world that Natural Girls Rock.
To be honest, I wasn’t nervous about going to Curlfest by myself. I knew I would be among pure positivity and maybe going alone would make me more approachable and give me the opportunity to meet new friends. I walked into Prospect Park and saw a girl, who was also alone. She had a head full of beautiful natural hair pulled back by her beats headphones. I tapped her shoulders and asked if she was also looking for Curlfest. Once she said yes, we decided from then on we would be buddies. As we were walking, two gorgeous Latina women with curly hair approached us. They were also looking for Curlfest, so we decided that we could all find it together. #Curlfriends
Curlfest was like a Natural Hair Utopia. There was a sea of beautiful natural women; some with long hair some with short hair, some with braids and some with dreads. Hair, Hair, and More Hair.
The first thing we did after getting our goody bag, was shop!There were a bunch of vendors selling everything from vintage clothes to waist beads. There were a lot of Afrocentric garb and jewelry vendors.
Next thing on our list, was the hair vendors. Curlfest had everything from Carol’s Daughters to Shea Moisture giving out free product samples and hair demos.
I felt so free. I attended a picnic panel on Protective styling moderated by the owner of Khamit Kinks Salon. I danced to all the latest hip hop songs (and partook in a Soul Train Line), I hula hooped and even got free dating advice specifically catered to natural haired women (which was totally a gimmick but I enjoyed it nonetheless).
I don’t want to get sentimental, but natural hair is such a beautiful thing. For years, I struggled with embracing my natural hair, and that insecurity follows me. But each day that passes by, I love my hair and I love myself even more. Growing up, when you are told that your hair is not beautiful or not accepted it hurts and makes you feel denigrated. However, with events like Curlfest, you are joined by other beautiful, carefree women just like you and you have no choice but to be empowered and inspired. Natural Hair is here to stay and I am thankful for my journey and I am also thankful for the organizers of Curlfest. It’s their second year, but I know this is going to be a huge movement.
When I think of Afropunk Fest, I think of FREEDOM! This is why every summer, I look forward to this event at Commodore Barry Park. Nope, scratch that, I count down the days until this event, that’s how much it means to me. From the first time I attended Afropunk, it made me feel like I belonged somewhere. It represented a bunch of misfits, who dared to be different, coming together to be great! Does this mean we are misunderstood by society? Of course, it does, but for one weekend, we are among others just like us and no one, not one person will judge you. I swear Afropunk is the best place on the planet for people-watching. It’s epic. The fashion, the food, and the vendors are all out of this world fantastic.
This was the first year Afropunk charged a fee to attend ($45 for a one day pass and $75 for a weekend pass). In the past it’s either been a requested donation or a regular R.S.V.P. I was hesitant at first but soon decided, the performances were worth my money. On Saturday, which was the first day of the festival I caught acts like Sza, Kelis,Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Grace Jones. Sza can sing her butt off. Kelis was fun and pregnant. She engaged the audience and has so many hits that I love—of course, she sang the crowd favorite My Milk Shake brings all the boys to the yard. During the intermission, DJ Beverly Bond turned the house down before Lauryn Hill’s performance. Ms. Lauryn Hill’s performance was much anticipated. I spent weeks listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, reflecting on how amazing of an artist she is. I love her. However, her performance was straight up mediocre. Her voice is no longer the same, her sound was low, she sat down for most of the performance even though it’s a music festival and no one beyond the first 5 rows could see her. To make matters worse, she sang my favorite song Ex. Factor with a totally different tune and shortly after her sound completely went out. Like completely stopped working. I will credit her for continuing her performance, that’s the testament of a true star. Some people started to boo her and leave, while others, her real fans, wanted her to win so bad, so we stayed there and encouraged her through the rest of her set. She ended her show with Doo Wop (That Thing) and then suddenly dropped the mic and walked off the stage. I was heartbroken. I felt like a child who just found out Santa Claus wasn’t real.
My friends wanted to leave, but I wanted to stay. I’m trying to hold on to as much of summer as I can. I mean, I hate the winter, there’s really nothing to do. They eventually decided to stay and I am so happy they did. We watched Grace Jones perform and were recuperated. All of our hearts were no longer pained (after Lauryn). Grace Jones killed the game, killed Afropunk Fest, and just made everything great again. She’s such a talent, and her songs are amazing. Once, I was able to shake my memories of her from Boomerang the movie, I was really able to appreciate her as a true artist. She’s wild dope!
After Afropunk, we decided to explore Fort Greene. We went to Walters for a small dinner and then Mo’s for drinks and dancing. Overall, it was a great day. Afropunk is so liberating. The perfect end, to an amazing summer.
“Really flying…yesterdays a thousand miles away“- Hoodoo Gurus
Waking up in Singapore for the first time was amazing not just because of the beautiful view from my sister’s apartment but because of the time difference; I was awake while everyone else was asleep.
Day one in Singapore was awesome. My niece and nephew were my personal tour guides which made the transition into this new country an easy one. Being shown the hangout spots and meet up areas that I probably would have bypassed had I not been with them made me think of all the areas New Yorkers know about that tourist won’t even think to look twice at or visit.
Many of the local hangouts in Singapore are primarily malls or outdoor food courts where the locals can come and sit around either between classes or during lunch breaks. The simplicity of these hangouts might be overlooked by tourists, but it was important for me to experience the essence of everyday life among the locals while there. The Ion Orchard is the “it” mall in Singapore city. Most of the malls use a tier system where the more popular, upscale and expensive brands are on the ground level and above, while the more affordable brands are downstairs.
Tasha Fact:If you get a Starbucks itch while walking through the mall, try a cheaper local delicacy instead. My tall frappe from Stbx was almost 8 Sing-yikes.
Areas like Holland Spring are another facet of the tourist-local blend in Singapore. Really popular for its low-key atmosphere and local amenities like supermarkets and convenience stores (i.e the 7-eleven behind me), its where many expats on a budget live. Overall, Holland Springs gave me a taste of what the everyday experience of shopping and living there might be.
Tasha Fact: Massages are a big thing in Singapore so finding a spa or massage parlor is really easy to do. The one behind me is on Holland Spring Road and offers really great foot massages for cheap.
Walking the streets of the city was definitely an experience. I had so much fun people watching; just walking around observing the locals and some of their traditions was really awesome. Traveling throughout the different areas presented another interesting aspect of life there.
Singapore is notorious for its fines. Whether in a taxi or on the bus or train, fines for eating or drinking while en route can be as high as 500 Sing. So needless to say I kept the cover on my bottle of water screwed tight.
Tasha Fact: Singapore is known for being one “fine” city. Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore and fines for this petty offense can reach as high as 500 Singh.
The Singapore MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system is very similar to New York’ s MTA system except a lot cleaner. The EZ-link passes for riding the train are slightly different. If you’re from New York or have ever visited then you’re familiar with a metrocard. In NYC there’s a flat fare of $2.50 which allows you to travel the entire subway system. In Singapore however, when you enter the train station or a bus you tap your EZ-link card and when you exit you tap it again. The card is charged for the distance traveled, and don’t forget to tap when you get off or they’ll keep charging you.
Even though I stayed with family for this trip I was the only one actually on vacation. The family however was in the midst of preparing to move back to the States, so for the remaining days we stayed at the Orchard Marriott in Singapore city. This is probably one of the more expensive hotels costing about 400 Sing a night (or $300 USD). There are definitely more budget friendly hotels that you could consider. With local events and activities going on all around you, I doubt you’ll even remember what the inside of your hotel room looks like.
Throughout much of the city, especially around the malls, I noticed random pop-up tents and stands with presentations of different products or events. Singapore is very fashion friendly-even the renowned luxury brand Louis Vuitton had their third presentation of their Fall/Winter 2014 collection while I was in town.
This lady is eating an ice cream bar inside a slice of bread, which I came to find out was a local treat. Talk about local delicacies
The local experience was fascinating and that was without even trying, so just imagine the wonders the city has in store for its tourist.
I did all my shopping before I left; it’s just too expensive to shop in Europe. Nevertheless, in this photo-driven world that we live in, it was important for me to look the part while in Europe. I wanted each of my outfits to be reflections of my personal style and the countries I was visiting. To start, I researched the traditional and/or stereotypical looks of each country. I then tried my best to imitate:
When I think of…
London, I think preppy, I needed a trench coat
Paris, I think romance, I needed a beret, soft colored outfits and black
Venice, I think nautical, I needed stripes like the Gondola guys
Rome, I think of a historical metropolis, I was thinking something along the line of gaudy Donatella Versace
Barcelona, I think excitement and liveliness, I needed bright colors
Amsterdam, I think Kydee all the way…Boho-hipster
For fashion inspiration, I resorted to magazines that illustrated European influenced styles, specifically Harper Bazaar magazine and clipped out tons of photos that fit the looks I was going for. Now I needed to shop:
Thrift Shopping: Thrifting was the best. I got a lot of European styled skirts and shoes that set the tone for some of my looks
The Fashion District: The garment/fashion district in NYC was my go-to spot for D.I.Y projects. I was attempting a tutu skirt and tassels on my heels
Zara: If you know me, then you know that my favorite store since I was 15-years old has always been Zara. I found some really cute things including leopard pants that were expensive ($70) but cute.
Forever 21 + H&M: I got a lot of accessories, leggings, shirts, and sweaters from these stores. I also got my walking shoes.
Banana Republic: I found my trench coat and blazers here…perfect for the conservative looks.
Ky’s Style Tips:
Take pictures of your outfits before you pack them. It’s great for memory and keeping track of what you are actually taking
No pictures? No problem…just use an excel document or the reminders app on your iPhone as a checklist