When speaking to Abigael Tshikani Kalombo, a tale of passion and persistence radiates from her. What Tshikani buyers don’t know is that a story is told through each collection that she releases, and fortunately, she was vulnerable enough to share her story with the Vyntage team. “I get so many DMs, and then they find out I am a woman. I am excited to be able to do an interview and finally share my story,” she starts off. This is the popular narrative of many industries around the world. They are male-dominated, non-starter friendly, and are circulating money back into the pockets of those that already have it. Her starting remark reinforces our work here at Vyntage — creating a platform to share the stories of those whose voices are normally silenced.
Being born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then growing up and moving from Bridgeport, CT to Peabody, MA, Kalombo’s love for fashion started as a way to keep her up to date on the newest trends in her household which include her, her parents, and her four other siblings. Tshikani (pronounced “chi-kani”) is Kalombo’s middle name, meaning “able.” As her brand turns 4 this year, she reflects on the obstacles and the victories she has faced in order to get where she is now. As her brand first started, Kalombo explains how she just wanted to get her ideas and designs out into the public for people to see what she could do, and how she just started selling her products relatively recently. Kalombo wants to ultimately turn her success into activism. “I really wanted to start this brand in order to help other people, to bring their dreams alive.”
Despite this, she shares that it has been really hard especially with the limited support from her peers and those closest to her. Whether it was a financial struggle or creating a source of radical self-love despite the obstacles presented to her, Kalombo has managed to stay motivated and give the Tshikani brand all that she has. Although she is very soft-spoken, the confidence in her craft and dreams shine more than words can explain. The sacrifices that Kalombo makes to progress towards her goals with Tshikani is truly inspiring. Although there are times where the black community is plagued with anger, confusion, and grief, let us take the time to focus on black successes, black creativity, and positive black content. We are the catalyst of the change that we want to see in the future, and Kalombo’s expression through her brand creates an outlet for an outcome that we are all ultimately searching for — black joy.
It’s All in Your Head by Russ | Book Review by Pamela Bailey
Before encountering this book I didn’t realize Russ was a writer. I had become more interested in reading more and more books especially during this quarantine and I actually saw this book recommended to me on my Amazon list. I immediately put it in my cart but never actually came around to making a purchase because I knew I wanted to look for more books.
I felt more connected to wanting to purchase a bunch of books to read during this quarantine since I had so much time on my hands now. It’s All in Your Head was the first book I decided to read when I got all of my books and I felt like it was appropriate to start it first because I felt like the other books were needed to be read with a fresh mindset on understanding that all the knowledge that I wanted to learn was truly only being stopped by me, and it was all in my head.
In this short illustration and guideline book, it not only goes through things that people might not want to come to terms with, but Russ also incorporates many personal instances where he himself was coming to terms with the same things he was speaking about throughout the book. I think that’s what made the book even more enjoyable because I felt like Russ was going through the same things I am going through at this moment in my life.
I 100% recommend everyone read the quick read, it took me a span of 2 days to fully complete the book, and it has great pointers on what to do when to fully live out your dream, and to overcome obstacles that everyone faces in their lifetime.
…On to the next book! All About Love by Bell Hooks
Grace Assogba How do you build a presence in this digital age when as easy as it is for you to be uplifted and empowered, it’s just as easy to face harsh critique to the point where you don’t want to indulge on social media? How does that transfer over to the real world when […]
How do you build a presence in this digital age when as easy as it is for you to be uplifted and empowered, it’s just as easy to face harsh critique to the point where you don’t want to indulge on social media? How does that transfer over to the real world when you need to maintain your confidence without a mask?
At some level, or some instance, we’ve all faced insecurity, judgment, and doubted ourselves and our abilities. Whether it was through the media, social networks, in real life (ouch), at school, or our jobs, have you ever had to question if you were good enough? Intelligent enough? Could you do the work? Was this your place? At the root of these questions is doubt. But how do you start eliminating that doubt if you aren’t aware of how it subconsciously influences you daily?
It’s funny to me because we see people that we think are the most confident, and we never talk enough about how difficult that journey to finding confidence may sometimes be. Take Lizzo, for example; everyone was on her case for what she was wearing to a basketball game, for even having the courage and fearlessness to be herself, wear what she wants, and to not give a damn. When it came to her, the conversation wasn’t about policing people’s bodies, how the memes and the hatefulness were maybe tearing down her self-esteem, and affecting her mental health. All of these reasons and more left unsaid.
When I look at Lizzo, her work, her videos, her presence…I see confidence. I think ‘what a confident, unbothered Black woman.’ But that’s just the type of thought process and thinking that in the moment, that appearance of confidence and control stays forever, like a tattoo. ‘Oh, she’s so confident, bold, I mean she could do that so she must have thick skin, she can handle the comments.’ That’s not fair, nor should it be. Often this is the same thought process that we invoke on ourselves, not giving ourselves space when we feel bothered, to process, or feel hurt, keeping up the appearance that everything is ok.
Like Lizzo says in her music, the truth hurts. Inner truth hurts, and so when you’re looking for the ‘key’ to confidence, to being a boss, you have to realize that finding that is internal. It’s in building your self-worth through your understanding of where you want to be, not by the things, people, actions, or appearances that give off a perception of confidence. Because if your presence isn’t centered in your self-assurance and security, you’re easily susceptible to the trap of insecurity.
This is not to say that insecurity fades or that these tools that I’m telling you are magic, and if you follow them, you will never feel unconfident. Instead, this is to help you find confidence and to understand how to build your presence by creating spaces, whether mentally, physically, or emotionally that can reinforce self-awareness, reflection, and breed growth. So that when you reach your confidence, as Lizzo and people attack that, things chip away from your self-assured mentality, you understand that leaving twitter is not a failure or does not mean you’re any less confident. Instead, leaving twitter for Lizzo is helping her stay confident and maintain her platform because she’s protecting her mental health and the access that people have to her.
So if you want to not only build your confidence and presence but maintain it, I got you!
1. Find and create spaces of self-development, not self-destruction
I told myself at the beginning of last semester that if there was ever a space, I didn’t feel happy, accepted, loved, and appreciated I would leave. Sometimes we force ourselves to stay in places that are no longer benefiting us for the appearance of what it may present. Sometimes it’s because everyone else is hyping up where you need to be at this moment of your life, but that’s not what’s best for you. This can also look like doing what you think is right versus what you feel is better. Don’t play yourself, and don’t lie to yourself. Don’t waste your time in negative spaces or with negative people. Challenge creates growth, not doubt, know the difference. As J.Cole said, know the false prophets.
2. Create outlines for your life, but always keep an update button
God does laugh when we make plans. When things don’t work out, or people don’t work out, understand that change should be positive. Don’t be afraid to try a different route; it’s often better than projecting failures onto yourself that you’re uncertain of. ‘They must have rejected me because I’m not good enough’. Bye. Please. Sometimes people’s actions are not because of us, but because of them and whatever, they’re going through. When you understand this and apply this to your relationships, professional career, or whatever aspect of life is relevant, you will genuinely be unbothered and look for the next step. There is always a next step.
3. Love Yourz
Comparison is the thief of joy; I don’t know how many times that has to be said across your timeline. You are your only competition, and that’s not being arrogant or cocky, but it’s about understanding that the only limitation to your success is your willingness to invest in yourself. This is meant to be applied broadly; however, the context may differ. I’m not saying ‘we all have the same 24 hours’ because we really don’t, and equity can do more good than equality at times. What I am saying is you have to appreciate yourself and give yourself more credit because it’s a marathon, not a race.
4. Say it with me, “The presence of ____ is not the absence of my ___.”
The most confident people have affirmations and reminders. Oprah does meditation and prayer, and Tyler Perry just built a studio, Will Smith has just started an instagram where he is sharing his life, lessons, etc and Jada created Red Table Talk. All of those things help them to affirm their purpose. Some people work out, and some meditate, some dress up and plan photoshoots. The most confident people always have some form of affirmation; you have to find what that looks like to you, whether it’s material or internal. It’s the meaning that matters.
If you find these to be helpful, you have tools that you use or want to speak more about this topic, leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
2019, has definitely been a year to remember, I’ve accomplished so much of what I wanted to do and I can’t wait to grow and plant more seeds in 2020! I think this has been an amazing year for music as well because there was always something to turn to when I was feeling sad, needed to feel confident, motivated, or was just looking for a certain vibe. These are some of Pamela and I’s favorite albums of 2019, along with our favorite tracks. Vyntage Records from the 00’, because we said so. -Grace A
Note: Predominantly Afrobeats, Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul, and more
African Giant | Burna Boy
Grace: I love this album. I just love Burna Boy as a performer and musical artist and being able to see him live, front row, at AfroPunk was an indescribable experience. This album is monumental for a lot of reasons, not only because it’s now a Grammy nominated album, and hopefully Grammy award winning album but because of the history and cohesive impact of the album itself. If you haven’t listened to African Giant, you’re missing out! Burna told apple music that ‘African Giant’ is, “a symbol of strength/ That’s what I want my people to feel like, to realize that they are.” I definitely think that Burna got the message across with his musical fusions, authenticity, and versatility. It’s so hard to choose a favorite song, but my top three are Anybody, Omo, and Collateral Damage.
Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial | Roddy Ricch
Pamela: First off, I would like to say that this album is really just the cherry on top to the end of my 2019. Roddy Rich executed his album with so much thought and patience, and you could definitely get that through the entirety of the album. Every single song flows so perfectly into the next, and that may go over some people’s heads. Still, I love it when the artist cares about how things sound to the actual listeners. Not only do you care, but now I do, and now I HAVE to see you LIVE.
Grace: Can I just say…this whole album was something else. I love Feed The Streets II, but this album is really it. The entire album flows like Roddy says, “You just reflect on all that, and it bleeds into the music. You just talk that shit.” and he was really talking his shit. High Fashion is on repeat, The Box is on repeat but I also really like God’s Eyes & Bacc Seat.
Fever | Megan Thee Stallion
Grace: Meg, MEGAAAAAAAAN, went crazy on this mixtape, and that’s that. Cash Shit has to be my favorite. This album really set the tone for summer, and it was one of unapologetic energy, female empowerment, growth, and relentless, radical, confidence. It was so symbolic and gave us the divine feminine, unbothered energy that we really needed.
Meet The Woo | Pop Smoke
So Much Fun | Young Thug
Pamela: I never really cared for Young Thug until someone had introduced some music to me that I’d never heard before by him. After that moment, my whole mood towards him shifted, to be honest. The song was “Oh Yeah” on his Slime Language album featuring HiDoraah, it just sounded so fire in a car, and so after that album, I started listening to his things faithfully, and this album along with the deluxe version is just filled with bangers and heat.
Revenge of The Dreamers III | Dreamville/Saba
Pamela: I remember watching the documentary that Dreamville made on youtube about the production of this album, and how it only took them about 10 days to make this album. I loved how they captured the moments they had in coming together to compile this work of art, and I recommend everyone to actually go watch that mini-documentary of their musical journey with this project. It provided me more insight into the artist signed to Dreamville, and it always makes you appreciate the time and effort it took into making each song. The features on this go absolutely crazy, which is why I love it so much.
Grace: There’s so much to say about this project, but you really just have to listen for yourself, let the stories flow for yourself. I’ve loved J Cole since 7th grade when my best friend introduced me to his music. Bestfriends, Cheer Up, those were the days. I was so upset when Dreamville Fest was canceled at first, and I couldn’t go when it was back on. I think this album was a really great way to bring Dreamville and its talents to the spotlight. Moody trap and neo-soul warmth, we love to see it.
The Lost Boy | YBN Cordae
Grace: I remember YBN Cordae was coming to one of my favorite clubs in Paris, and I didn’t go for several reasons. Still, I remember seeing the flyer and being like ‘who?’. I PLAYED myself, bigtime. I think a lot of people love him because he’s relatable and authentic, as I was listening to The Lost Boy, I didn’t think I would like his music, but I really mess with it. Broke as Fuck really hits the soul sometimes, feel me? Maybe it was because it was, in a way, a coming of age story, and for a lot of us, we’re living through that. The period of being unsure of what the next page looks like but following our dreams anyway. Sweet Lord, Have Mercy.
Pamela: I’ve been in tune with YBN Cordae through his freestyling, never known him for an official album, but for this to be his first project alone and his body of work, it was just wow. This album speaks on so many things that people never want to discuss, and I love how raw and real Chordae is. He seems like a genuine soul, and I definitely see that reflected through his music.
Homecoming: The Live Album | Beyonce
KIRK | DaBaby
Pamela: DaBaby, DaBaby, DaBaby…I personally felt like this album was very heartfelt, and you can hear DaBaby’s story behind the messages of the songs. I love albums that I feel like I’m getting the artist’s actual feelings, and the message of their songs are speaking to me. This whole album speaks to me, and it resonates, who doesn’t love that?
Grace: BABY ON BAAAABEEEEY. There is no one like the DaBaby, and I really admire how he’s been grinding and working. Now that he’s blowing up, he’s literally giving us consistent BOPs, energy, choreo. I would love to work on his team because they are absolutely amazing behind the talent there is so much more and I love that it was so personal. You can’t hate the man; also, he started the triller trend because now everyone wants to triller their releases, which is cool, but I said what I said. When I listen to this album, I just want to turn up, even if not I’m just happy, and that means a lot. DaBaby for the win.
Perfect Ten | Mustard
Pamela: I’ve always loved Mustard even when he had that ‘Dj’ title in the front of his name, but I love his beats, his style of music, and the vibe that he puts out. Each song he has is a banger on this album, from the transitioning of each song to the next, I just always stay attentive to those things in his musical style. This album resonated with me the most for many reasons. Still, the song that I love the most would be ‘Perfect Ten’ by Mustard featuring Nipsey Hussle. The song being dropped after Nipsey’s passing still makes you feel like he is still alive, you know, and I love that type of storytelling when people are just speaking FACTS, like “where is your backbone at?”
Grace: There was an interview where Roddy was talking about making Ballin, and I think it was before Nipsey had died, he talked about how they had made the song before then. Still, Mustard wasn’t ready to release it. I can’t believe Mustard was just sitting on this greatness. If I had to describe this celebratory album in one word…it would be perseverance.
Pamela: The whole album is just a solid piece of beautifully constructed songs that I feel like anyone can bump to. It was actually my roommate that put me on to Sheff G, the day his album dropped she told me to listen to it and just knowing about Sleepy Hallow at the time, I couldn’t believe I didn’t know about Sheff G sooner. I love his deep voice, I love how it feel as though he is speaking to me, and his flow is smooth. I can listen to him everywhere I go for any mood I’m feeling. Shoutout to Brooklyn to a lot of artists are started to flourish out there!!!!!
Grace: Shoutout to Em because she was like you have to listen to Sheff G, and I kid you not, I was hearing ‘We Getting Money’ for a week straight. It doesn’t matter if I’m happy, sad, frustrated, there’s a little bit of everything. If you haven’t listen to Sheff G, you need to.
Over It | Summer Walker
Pamela: I’ve been keeping up with Summer Walker ever since she dropped ‘Girls Need Love,’ and the way that she’s grown, I feel like it’s like watching one of my friends grow to be honest. ‘Over It’ is just her way of saying that she is over it. That these boys that aren’t doing anything for her, she’s over too nice and forgiving, she’s past being played and treated like trash, she’s just OVER IT Y’ALL. I fell in love with the rustic feel of each song, and she sounds even better live, I’ll tell you that right now.
Wow…That’s Crazy | Wale
Pamela: Wale has always been one of my favorite musicians. I feel like he holds so many strong and retable messages through his music that can resonate with a lot of people if they took the time to listen to the lyrics instead of the song itself. This album, was one of his most solid pieces of this new era, and I love how he was so open and vulnerable about the topic of love. I just resonated with it and felt every word in my soul.
Pamela: Now if you from New York, you know that this was long overdue. We’ve been tired of the little single’s or EP’s that Young M.A was dropping on us, for her to drop a whole album was just like “FINALLY.” She definitely didn’t disappoint at all! Always finding myself relistening to her things for captions on my flicks, her bars go CRAZY.
Herstory in the Making | Young M.A.
Pam: Now if you from New York, you know that this was long overdue. We’ve been tired of the little single’s or EP’s that Young M.A was dropping on us, for her to drop a whole album was just like “FINALLY.” She definitely didn’t disappoint at all! Always finding myself relistening to her things for captions on my flicks, her bars go CRAZY.