I arrived to LA on an early morning flight last week. The warm weather of Southern California wasn’t enough to distract me from the excitement and anxiousness I felt as I headed to my first day of work at Blavity. I was so wrapped up in my own head that I didn’t even notice that I had arrived at the wrong address.
Luckily, it was still a Blavity space -- just not their current one. I instead showed up to their old office in LA that was home to the early days of Blavity and the spirit of the company’s hustle, history and energy. I realized that I was right where I belonged.
I’m joining Blavity as it’s new and first Creative Director after having previously worked with Tristan Walker as the Creative Lead on the Bevel and FORM Beauty products. I have served as a Global Committee Member of Glappitnova, a organization uniting millennials to have vulnerable conversations, and Golden Rule Technology, a firm using VR to address issues of discrimination and bias. All of these experiences as a designer, art director and storyteller have led to me my new home at Blavity, where I can continue to dream big and build together.
My Moment at AfroTech
I have always been blown away by the impact Blavity has on black culture. A few months ago, I attended AfroTech 2017 (Silicon Valley’s biggest black tech conference that Blavity hosts each year) -- not as a guest, but as a volunteer. I gave a part of myself that I tend to keep close to my heart: my photography. In return, I experienced a feeling similar to what mother Oprah described at the Golden Globes when she recalled the moment she witnessed Sidney Poitier win Best Actor at the Academy Awards in 1964:
I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that... I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats…. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation in Sidney's performance in "Lilies of the Field": "Amen, amen, amen, amen."
I’ll never forget how electrifying the atmosphere was at the conference. AfroTech brought over 1,500 people together for one greater purpose: To give black people in tech the opportunity to grow their interests and their careers. I was at the center of it all, documenting history and getting overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, community, solidarity, brilliance and gratitude. I didn’t want the moment to end, and I kept my AfroTech bracelet, even weeks after the conference, as a way to remind myself of the boundless black energy and brilliance of that weekend.
My experience at AfroTech served as a call-to-action for change in my life. I wanted to be more directly involved in creating spaces like these, big and small, where my people could connect and grow together. I didn’t know where this desire would take me or how long it’d be before I actualized it, but I knew I needed to wholeheartedly pursue an opportunity to better serve my community with my talents and perspective.
I vowed to keep on my green bracelet until I transitioned into the next part of my career, only to remove it when I found an opportunity worthy of realizing this vision in my work, everyday.
Little did I know Blavity would ultimately become that next inflection point on my journey to realizing my dreams.
My Vision for Blavity, Inc.
My relationship with the founders Blavity began a few years ago when I responded to call for designers. At the time I was working at a big advertising agency, searching for more ways to directly impact the visualization and socialization of Black culture. From my early days as an engineering student, to my grind as a user experience designer, I’ve longed for opportunities to craft experiences and products that push forward the way we see ourselves, and for us to be masters of our own images and voices.
This year, I look forward to creating alongside the brilliant creative community at Blavity.
I aspire to build processes, encourage creativity, maximize high quality content creation, and grow the effectiveness of each digital platform, which includes both Blavity.com as well as Shadow & Act, Travel Noire, 21Ninety and AfroTech.
I look forward to nurturing a creative culture focused on service, openness and integrity.
I’m excited to curate the best talent and identify passionate, hard-working creative professionals to collaborate with me on polishing look and feel of Blavity and all its brands.
We have the opportunity to strengthen brand strategies with style guides and audits, design customize advertising campaigns with our brand partners and conduct intensive user research to better understand our audiences. We will continue to champion compelling content and original storytelling, and as Blavity growth continues and its brands expand, I will ensure that each maintain their distinct voice while evolving their visual identities in bold and fresh ways.
My Special Introduction
I eventually found my way to the company’s newer office in downtown LA on my first day and was immediately welcomed with open arms by my colleagues.
Some traveled from all over the country for the company’s forthcoming new year kickoff celebration last Saturday, and I used this opportunity to learn as much as I could about my new teammates. From the infamous lunch table, to popcorn snack time, to curated playlists of timeless hits, to the dope black art on the walls, I became immersed in the fabric of our company’s bold and intentional culture.
At our party, I sat at the table of kings and queens, feasting on the fruits of their labor and sharing in the abundance of their blessings. We toasted to the success of the previous year and to the promise of a great 2018. And what excites me the most is that I will be surrounded by these amazing people as I continue to live out the dreams of my heart.
Tweet me, or DM me on Instagram if you are interested in partnering with me on this journey or if you have ideas you want to share. Especially young creators, I am here for you if you need any advice or guidance.
Cheers to a new year and a fresh start.