J Profile: This Fashion Entrepreneur Was Born to Stand Out – See How She’s Helping Others Do the Same

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Photo by Lindsey Epps-Tucker for UrBoi Photography.

Knowing who you are and being able to embrace individuality is such an important part of life. – Sara A. Crawford-Jones

 From an early age, Sara A. Crawford-Jones had to do just that while growing up with albinism, a genetic disorder that results in a lack of pigment, and a slight visual impairment. Crawford said it “wasn’t very easy” interacting with other kids who did not understand her unique features, but these days she is happy to stand out.

“I feel as though that confidence has allowed me to achieve all of the things I have done within the fashion industry, Crawford-Jones says.”

Crawford-Jones has taken a passion for fashion that was sparked as a pre-teen all the way to the big leagues, having worked with household names such as Tommy Hilfiger, H&M, Express, and JoS. A. Bank.

“I loved learning every aspect of the retail and fashion industry from creative director, to production assistant; every encounter from unsatisfied customers, to buying the trending items for the season.”

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Sara as a child with her father. Photo Credit: Sara A. Crawford-Jones

Though she graciously credits those experiences with providing the foundation she needed, she always had an end goal in mind – pursuing her independence as a fashion designer, consultant, and author. “I was born to be a creative entrepreneur. I was challenged with giving all my energy and creative juices to another brand when I truly thought it belonged to my own.”

Within embracing her purpose and being, Crawford-Jones has created a brand that helps other women, and men, do the same by taking pride in their features and figures, and then tailoring their styles accordingly. In the years since claiming her independence, Crawford-Jones began doing personal styling, created her own fashion line, Anara Original, and wrote a book entitled The Playbook to Essential Style, to help women and men explore and define their personal style.

“We all were created differently so why not define your style and explore what looks best on you.” – Sara A. Crawford-Jones

The Playbook to Essential Style provides many must-have tips and techniques for women, and men, including what key pieces you should have in your closet and why, how to create the best foundation so that your garments will fit your body properly, and how to begin to identify your signature style.

A few tips Crawford-Jones says every women should know:

  1. Your essential staple pieces are important – these pieces are the foundation of your wardrobe and offer immense versatility.
  2. Staying fashion forward doesn’t always mean wearing every trend that surfaces. Perhaps, sprinkling in a few accents of a trend and intertwining it in with your personal style will do the trick.
  3. Fashion isn’t just about following a bunch a rules, it should be fun! Explore many styles and combination of styles to identify which is best for you.
Looking to keep up with Sara’s latest projects, or meet her on tour? Visit her website saracjones.com for more information, or follow her at @AnaraOriginal.

 

J Travels: Memphis, Keeping Old Promises

The mural across the street from the Civil Rights Museum. Photo by J. Sylvester.

This year, I really only had one official resolution – to travel outside of the D.C.-area every month. I knew it wouldn’t be easy given how fast a month can go, and how expensive traveling can be. The #majorkey would be planning out, at least, the first 4-5 months of my travels at the beginning of the year. I have some exciting trips ahead; I will make sure to document all of my new experiences here.

It was fitting that I traveled to Memphis first because it was the one trip I’d promised a friend I would make in 2016 that never happened.  I didn’t know what to expect as I’ve never ventured to Middle (to me), Southern America, but Memphis definitely had some surprises in store.

Best Time to Visit

Summer. I visited Memphis is late January, and it was as if everyone was hibernating for the winter. I saw very few people on the streets, the tourist attractions were largely vacant and there was a quiet eeriness that hung over the city.

Although I was taken off guard, I could easily imagine how different it is in the summer. Beale street crowded with young people, outdoor concerts, joggers running along the Mississippi River.

The former Lorraine Hotel, now the Civil Rights Museum, at dusk. Photo by J. Sylvester.

Sightseeing

  • The first tourist attraction people mention when you talk about Memphis is Graceland. Graceland, Graceland, Graceland. So where did I got 10 minutes after landing? Graceland. But, from the hefty price (start at around $50), to the dated Graceland complex, I was underwhelmed. My suggestion would be to skip it if not for the major renovation they were undergoing while I was there. Hopefully the exhibits I was unable to visit will provide for a much better experience.
  • Now if you want to get your money’s worth, go to the National Civil Right Museum. I can’t say enough good things about it, I only regret that I didn’t allocate 4-5 hours to exploring all that the museum has to offer. You will want to watch every video, listen to every story, read every placard. The one good thing about going during the off-season – I basically had the museum to myself.
  • The duck walk at the Peabody is a whole ‘lotta hoopla for a 5-minute affair, but it was a fun experience. If you go to the show (there are two a day), make sure to check out the rooftop of the hotel which has an amazing view of the city.
The gorgeous view from the Peabody Hotel. Photo by J. Sylvester.

Nightlife

  • Beale Street. When the weather is nice, I’m sure Beale Street is a blast.

Eats

  • Central BBQ. My first meal didn’t disappoint. There’s a few locations depending on where you’re staying in the city. Rendezvous is another great option (or so I’ve heard).
  • Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. We went to the downtown location, and let me tell you that chicken was fried to perfection.
  • Second Line. If you’re looking for a place a little more upscale, low-key, with great ambience, food, and drinks, head here. Note this restaurant is in midtown so it’s a bit of a trek if you’re staying downtown.
The infamous Peabody Hotel, home of the duck walk. Photo by J. Sylvester.

A Year Defined: Au revoir, 2016!

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2016
/twenty sixteen/
noun

  1. a period of 366 days in which I struggled, cried (a lot), lost hope, found some, opened my heart, experienced new cities, made many new friends and collaborators, challenged myself through creative projects and uncomfortable circumstances, and took some exciting steps toward my lofty goals

2017
/twenty seventeen/
noun

  1. a period of 365 days that has me shook. that I don’t feel ready for. that will challenge me in new ways, some of which will be undesired. yet a period in which I will prevail over the hurdles that have plagued me for nearly two years. a period in which I will rediscover purpose in my work. in which I will build on the relationships I forged in 2016. in which I will travel more domestically and internationally. in which I will put my mental, physical, and emotional health first.

Thank you to all of my family, friends, and readers who continue to support ayminor.com, may you all have a blessed 2017! 

J Reads: Ayminor.com Featured on xoNecole

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I was inspired by my third trip to the WEEN Awards to write my first contributor piece for xoNecole.com with helpful tips for networking as an introvert. Please read, like, share — support!

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J Quote: 60 Seconds with Candice Nicole of Candice Nicole PR

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Candice Nicole, owner of pr boutique Candice Nicole Public Relations, poses with recording artist Von Vargas as she receives an award for her contributions to the music and entertainment space. Find a full recap of In My Own Lane here. Photo via @kelvinjstudios.

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J Events: Baltimore Recording Artist Hosts “In My Own Lane,” an Event for Creatives Who “Fit Out”

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On Friday, October 21, Baltimore recording artist and producer Von Vargas hosted an event for local creatives who are paving their own way in the music and arts space.

Ever since growing up on the Westside of Baltimore, Vargas (né Von Smith) has always felt he was in his own lane—choosing the arts over the pressure to conform to the conventions of his urban environment. As he has grown as an artist, producer, DJ, host, and creative services professional, he has looked to use his platform to inspire others to continue down their own creative path, whether it be in public relations, arts education, or music production.

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Von Vargas. Photo via @KelvinJStudios.

“Being in the industry for years, I’ve seen dope artists who don’t fit the ‘norm,’ so they may not get the same exposure given to the next artist…” Vargas said. “I feel it’s my duty to advocate for artists who create fearlessly, contrary to the norm.”

The 3-hour, curated event included performances from two artists personally selected by Vargas, “Philadelphia’s own” Japhia Life and “Grammy-Nominated” singer Carolyn Malachi.

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Japhia Life. Photo via @KelvinJStudios

Japhia Life, who continues to defy the label of “Christian rapper,” performed a short set featuring songs from his latest release “The Profit.”

Malachi, accompanied solely by a bassist, showed her range, fusing soul, R&B, jazz, spoken word, and hip-hop into her titillating set. She treated event attendees to her latest single “Blowing Smoke” which will be featured on her upcoming album “RISE [STORY 1].”

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Carolyn Malachi. Photo via @KelvinJStudios

Vargas ended the night with a live band performing songs from his 2016 release “Metropolis Binocular,” as well as a few other surprises from his catalog. Among them, the event anthem “Fit Out,” a testament to the importance of staying true to oneself, even if that means going against the grain.

At the event, three dynamic, creative professionals were honored for their contributions to the music, arts, and entertainment space: music producer Wendel Patrick, PR maven Candice Mackel of Candice Nicole Public Relations, and artist Rufus Roundtree. Mackel and Roundtree were in attendance to receive their awards and impart inspiring words.

The event, which was held at the Motor House in Baltimore, was sponsored by Applebees, Lobe’ Dangle, LTH Accounting Services, Liam Flynn’s Ale House, and Kelvin J Studios.