Election Day is Near – What’s Your Coping Mechanism?


Confession: I have election anxiety.  True, it’s my own fault because I’m choosing to read election news and watch debates.  This refusal to opt out has forced me to come up with a coping mechanism: frying chicken.  It is soothing to coat the chicken with a mixture of flour, salt, pepper and whatever other spices inspire me in the moment.  Chervil, anyone? The talking points fade as I watch the peanut oil heat up.  A welcome peace calms me as the coating transforms into crispy brown goodness.  It doesn’t change anything about the world we live in, but it provides a few moments of calm.

Upcoming event picks
October 24 – Style Wars screening @ Roxy Cinema
Classic documentary on how graffiti art came to be

October 31 – Village Halloween Parade 
A night where the most creative and subversive dress up to play

November 9 – The Business of Comedy
A behind-the-scenes with comedic forces behind Funny or Die, IFC and more

Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!


Florence Shin & Athina Wang, Covry

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers, business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Interviewees: Florence Shin & Athina Wang, Founders

Company:  Covry

Launch Date: August 2015

Motto: Smile confidently

covry thursday interview eyewear

Pavo Beige

What inspired you to launch an eyewear company with high school friend, Athina Wang?
Florence Shin: Athina came to me with the idea a few years ago, and it instantly resonated with me because I’ve always struggled with being able to find stylish, comfortable eyewear. Frames were always sliding down my nose, hitting my cheeks and leaving embarrassing cheek indents. Together, we redesigned the standard fit and created Elevated Fit® eyewear.

How did you come up with the name Covry?
FS: Covry comes from the word cove. It symbolizes effortless beauty and calming tranquility to us. We wanted to create a word that we could give meaning to as we built our brand.


Describe a day in the life of Team Covry
Athina Wang: Honestly, every day is so different. We could be at the warehouse overseeing order fulfillment, running around the city for meetings, shooting models, or brainstorming new strategies and events.

There’s a lot of variety that goes into a single day, and I think that’s one of the adventures of being your own boss.

How do you juggle the creative and management skills needed so you aren’t screaming at the end of the day?
FS: Fortunately, Athina and I come from different areas in fashion. Even though we work together, we’re able to divide up the work to focus on tasks that we know and understand better. This allows us to make better use of our time and get more things done.


Nash Black

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Vincent Martell + Jordan Phelps, VAM STUDIO


Jordan Phelps and Vincent Martell, VAM STUDIO

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers, business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Chicago based VAM STUDIO provides artists a community and platform to grow, fail and thrive.  The VAMUNFILTERED | Lucy Stoole video reminded me how important it is to give artists a space to work out the thorny bits that come with living a fully engaged meaningful life. Thank you to  Sam Bailey for introducing me to VAM STUDIO. And thank you to Jordan and Vincent for saying yes to a Thursday Interview.

Vincent Martell, Founder + Creative Director and Jordan Phelps, Founder + Art Director, VAM STUDIO

Describe the moment VAM STUDIO was launched.
Jordan Phelps: VAM started as an idea that Vincent and I had around 2011 when
he had returned from his studies in Europe and I had left school and began focusing on my acting career in Chicago. We attended the same school in 2008 and knew each other casually but didn’t study similar subjects and didn’t reunite until a few years later. Our first similarity was that we both had been drawn to arts of all kinds from an early age, so when we were beginning to establish ourselves in Chicago outside of school, we were both shocked at how few resources there were in our metropolis for new and emerging artists. There were local publications and art-houses that each had their own strong missions and
collectives, but none that attempted to unite the art community and share with the world what kind of creativity flows from the underground resources in Chicago. We ultimately wanted to represent our city by giving it the leg-up it needed, by introducing fresh faces to the limelight and bringing together opposing medias that normally wouldn’t have thought to collaborate.

Vincent MartellVAM was birthed out of frustration. All of the incredible artists and art spaces we admired weren’t getting the adequate amount of media they deserved. A huge majority of the artists we vibed with relocated to either the east or the west coast to find an audience that could truly hear them out. They didn’t have that luxury of getting great coverage in Chicago so we worked to make that obtainable for the underground freaks that we loved and supported. We saw the lack of cool media outlets based in Chicago and knew we had to fill the gap.

How was the Big Night Showcase at Glappitnova?
JP: I attended in support of Vincent speaking but was so glad I went regardless of being associated. There were so many great speakers and I was particularly keen on the impromptu talk sessions of unscheduled speakers and collectives. It was so great to see certain artists and producers taking the initiative to start their own dialogue unscripted.
I also highly respected how each and every member of Glappitnova made an effort to speak to all attendees personally and introduce themselves. Often times the people running the event tend to hide behind the scenes, but you all were the forefront of the event and it was very effective.

VM: Glappitnova was great. I think what the team at Glappitnova is doing is very important to the art community. I think we’re currently trying to figure out how we can get VAM involved in the next Chicago showcase.

Can you share how living in Chicago fuels what you do?
JP: Because of Chicago’s rich art and cultured history it’s frustrating to be shadowed by other major cities like New York and LA. Chicago’s been described as having a minority complex in comparison to those other meccas, but we really are the breeding grounds for AMAZING art that often gets picked up and taken to NY or LA in order to get “discovered” or “noticed”. Our mission is to put Chicago in the limelight so our favorite artists don’t feel like they have to leave in order to succeed. We are the heart of the country and the epicenter of exciting new talent and fresh ideas.

Vincent: I don’t feel like Chicago is being overshadowed anymore. I think the art community in the city has to create its own narrative. Fortunately, we’re starting to see a major push to make that a reality (we can call it a renaissance). Our team is constantly in the scene and in doing so we’ve witnessed a sort of evolution in the underground art
scene in Chicago. The potential in the city is what fuels us. Chicago is already on the map…It just doesn’t know it yet.

How do you connect with VAM STUDIO collaborators?
JP: In the beginning, a lot of our networking and connections were found through personal research. It wasn’t until about half way through our first year of launching that collaborations came almost fully from word of mouth and personal references. Any event we do, or any video or any article we publish has become a window into a whole new pool of names and faces that we are inspired by. We learn more and more as we continue our coverage about who to collaborate with, and sometimes more importantly who NOT to collaborate with. Another important mission of VAM has been to eradicate the commercial, corporate and unoriginal bullshit art often praised in the mainstream media. We’ve learned a lot about how to spot those certain entities quickly.

VM: We worked endlessly for a year before launching VAM to curate a list of artists, content writers, cinematographers, and editors that could represent our mission. We try not to collaborate with people whose work we don’t admire. We’ve done it once and we’ll never do it again. Thankfully, now all of our content is pitched to us by our audience. We
want it to feel like an organic resource for the people and by the people in the community.

In the VAM STUDIO universe, money is……
JP: A resource. It does not dictate our company, it is not the driving force of our company and it is not our mission to require it. It is, however something that we can use to pay forward. In a lot of ways, without the official status, VAM operates like a non-profit. All extra proceeds from a successful event or donation or sponsorship gets put back into the communities and artists we support. We have always made it our goal to make every collaborator feel that they are being compensated in some way, however much or little we can offer gets put back into those hands. I think VAM has learned how helpful funding has been from outside sources, not only to relieve our personal pockets in the maintenance of the company, but also to see who is truly invested in our work and how those who can support CHOOSE to support us. We have never been one to rely on money to make a project happen, we were doing those projects anyway even when we didn’t have the funds, yet we’ve also learned when it is appropriate to reach out to others for support and
when to ask for help.

VM: A tool to be used to benefit your community. We turn down sponsorships and corporate money if we feel like it can taint our brand. We’re not afraid of walking away from a paycheck or network if it means we can keep our integrity.

I think it’s also important to note that everyone gets paid in VAM; our writers, our production team, our graphic designers, and all of those involved in orchestrating our events. We don’t believe in “volunteering” your time with us and that’s one really huge asset that separates us from every other creative space or media outlet in the city.

If you believe in their work and you think the mission can benefit from their talents…fucking pay them.

How can anyone who loves community, collaboration and creative chaos
support what you do?
JP: Being so diverse in the content we produce really allows for audiences of all backgrounds to appreciate what we do. I don’t think we’ve ever asked anyone or expected anyone to like EVERYTHING we produce. I think there’s beauty in the fact that one feature can make you laugh and the next one make you cry, or angry, or annoyed or whatever. As long as there is some reaction to our content, negative or positive, and we’re creating a dialogue that’s healthy and informative, then our job is accomplished. VAM is all about community, collaboration and is definitely creatively chaotic!

VM: The best way to support our mission would be to check out our work at vamstudio.net. We work around the clock to develop content and it’s a pretty rigorous process because what we’re doing at VAM is preserving and documenting art. We’re down with anyone who wants to witness and be a part of it.

Stay connected to VAM STUDIO on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter , Vimeo and Tumblr.

Top photo credit: Greg Stephen Reigh

Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

October 10 #FeelGood List: Roxy Cinema, Brand Partnerships with Spotify, Public Speaking and more



Getting in the mood for Halloween.  Costume ideas wanted!

Public Speaking Class: How to Tackle Your Fears and Talk Like TED

Salsa Party @ Brooklyn Museum of Art

Behind the Creative Curtain: Brand Partnerships with Spotify

Roxy Cinema: De Palma
7:30 pm

The Combine: Open House at NYU

Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

October 3 #FeelGood List: Where the Jobs Are, It’s Brewing in Brooklyn, How to Become a B-Corp


page-blankA rainbow in Soho. A cast iron frying pan filled with frying chicken. A dropped cake, on a city sidewalk. Capturing life as it happens is reason #3 why I love my smartphone.  When the mood and light hits,  the camera becomes my best friend to transform a fleeting moment into a memory.  But during a recent visit to MOMA enjoying  Bruce Connor’s Cosmic Ray video, understanding Faith Ringgold’s Die and becoming unhinged by Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency and Kai Althoff’s vision of the world, the camera was present but I did the capturing.

Here’s to a week ahead where you are present to capture all the possibility you can…

How to Become B-Corp – Using Business as a Force for Good

The Stoop Series: It’s Brewing in Brooklyn

Vice-Presidential Debate 

Media + Tech, Where the Jobs Are

Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!


Carla Ashley, IamCarlashley.com



***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers, business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Does he like me?  What if she doesn’t want a second date?  Why didn’t she text me back?!!! 

These are a few of the questions that usually bedevil daters.  Very few of us have a dating life that isn’t romantic swooning coupled with bouts of doubt and anxiety.  So who amongst us couldn’t benefit from having a compassionate insightful sounding board? Carla Ashley is here to share how she became a  dating and relationship advisor that helps many love wisely.

Name:  Carla Ashley

Company:  Iamcarlashley.com

Launch Date: April 11, 2016

Motto: Love Wisely

Theme Song: Kelly Price –  It’s My Time

Describe your path to becoming a dating and relationship advisor.
I grew up knowing I wanted to find true love. I just had no clue how to go about finding it, the process of dating that is. I pretty much winged my early 20s assuming every guy I would come across was looking to marry based on my own upbringing. “Dating and courtship go hand in hand and you date only with the intent of marriage.” – My parents. Boy was I wrong! Everyone out here DOES NOT have that mindset, but to find love you have to find someone who IS on the same page as yourself.

It took a lot of trial and error which as you can guess led to much heartbreak due to my own hopeless romanticism. I had to change the game plan and start to date wisely. I’d been keeping a journal since my middle school days and noticed the trend that most of my entries were centered around my dating/love life and the lessons I’d learned from each experience. These entries became more elaborate into my adult dating life as you can imagine and with the birth of social media in the past decade I had begun sharing more of my personal life with my close friends.

Before I knew it, I was receiving texts or random inbox messages from friends that had either known me personally or friends I simply connected with through networking who were asking me to provide them with feedback on their own dating dilemmas. The advice requests would pour in in spurts. Sometimes a random person in public, once a lady in the post office and another time my neighbor in passing, would approach me saying that they need someone to ask advice about regarding the person they’re seeing and I looked like someone they could talk to. It was odd, but I welcomed their story and provided what help I could give.

My dating experiences have ranged greatly and one day I just decided to embrace why this was all happening to me. The lessons from each relationship, the random requests for advice, the heavy journaling…it was all a part of the bigger picture, my purpose…to use my lessons to help others.

How does blogging enhance the insight you provide to your clients?
Blogging has been the bridge connecting me to my audience’s hearts and emotions. I receive messages sporadically from readers who have let me know that they appreciate my openness to share my past and some of my current experiences and feelings. I focus on building a level of trust by showing both the pain and the strength of each dating experience I have conquered and how it has helped me get to where I am today…Able to help others from the lessons I’ve learned.

What are your go-to resources to building your business?
@Womeneur – I follow this page on Instagram for tons of business building support, tips, and encouragement.

Copromote.com – A true God-send! I was told about this app/website recently and it’s aided greatly in gaining exposure for my social media content.

Suits & Roots Community (Facebook group)- A network of other entrepreneurs who support you, share advice, events, and open discussion on various ways to grow your business. Entrepreneurs of all phases of the success scale are there to ask and offer assistance where needed.

Best life advice you’ve received from an unlikely source?
“If you put as much effort into building a business as you put into finding a boyfriend you’d be a millionaire.”

This was a funny but relevant piece of advice given to me by my mentor when I was 20 years old. Love and relationships are my passion, learning about them, how each individual plays a part in the unit and how decisions affect each party involved. I didn’t understand her words of advice until I started my business of helping others through my content and direct advising and it helped me realize that my business would not be what it is today had I not put the years in to learn through every relationship. I just had to now begin balancing dating experiences with turning them into productive volume for the world to follow. I’ve made mistakes in love and learned so much from them. Now I’m teaching others to “Love wisely”!

While I’m not quite a millionaire yet, but I’d like to offer fee-based services in the future. For now, all of my direct advice is provided in exchange for word of mouth.


Fast forward to 2017 and what news would you love to be sharing?
I currently have my E-book for sale on my site, “You’re online dating profile- 6 Tips to attract quality potential candidates”. (Free for all blog subscribers upon email request to Carlashley@Iamcarlashley.com) In 2017, I’d love to be able to say I’ve delivered 100+ copies!

I’d like to do more guest writing for digital magazines, bloggers, and other markets within my niche. I’m working on content to be featured within The Urban Dater soon, so be on the look-out for updates and notifications by following me on my social platforms!

In early 2017, I’d love to welcome my 100th Blog Subscriber as well as my 200th Blog Subscriber this time next year and I believe it can happen.

A bigger audience and more advice requests!!! Advice requests help me gauge what my audience needs to hear most from me. I would like to begin work on my first paperback book in 2017 and partner with a publishing company and with so many great and triumphant experiences to share, my audience requests can definitely help me narrow down which points to reference most!

Shout-out time! This is your chance to spotlight your collaborators and community.
So far I’ve collaborated with Lacy Colson on a piece, “A letter to my strong single black women”. Lacy currently writes for Urban Image Magazine.

My biggest supporter has been Kendra Marshall, Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer, and Blogger of Modern Diversity. Both are entrepreneurs within their niches and I owe a huge thanks to them for their work, support, and exposure of my content and my vision.”

If you want a taste of Carla’s dating wisdom, connect  via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.



Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

September 26 #FeelGood List: New York Nonprofit Mixer, Dumbo Dance Festival and more


Last Friday, I attended #PurpleReigns at The New School. The evening featured various academics sharing how Prince and his genius in music and presentation impacted their lives and our culture.  I didn’t take notes because I wanted to be in the moment. What I do remember is how each speaker allowed their joy to overtake the heartbreak and the wonderfulness of being with fellow Prince fans.  They love dancing without reservation.

Enjoy the week ahead!

2016 Presidential Debate
Because it’s important to be an informed voter.

Make It In Brooklyn Innovation Summit

NY NonProfit Mixer

16th Annual Dumbo Dance Festival Opening Night

Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!  
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!