By: Taleah Pierre-Louis
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.
You can watch her interview with Vyntage here.