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!

Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, LIT Brooklyn

thursday interview lit brooklyn candles

***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.

Happy September, Thursday Interview faithful and newcomers!  Although summer brain lingers, I am happy to kick off the fall season with Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, founders of LIT Brooklyn.  Their Interview gave me motivation on a day when I needed it.   I hope you find common ground and inspiration in their story of how LIT came to be.  Enjoy!

Name: Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, Founders

Company:  LIT Brooklyn

Launch Date: December 5, 2015

Motto: Keep it lit!

Theme Song: Jay Z- Forever Young

Describe the moment that LIT Brooklyn was born
Akenea Dillon: It was a random Monday morning in October (2014) and Denequa had called me really early. We were having regular conversation about how we can’t wait to be like the women who inspire us. We wanted the freedom and happiness that these women possessed while following their dreams. In mid conversation Denequa was like “Let’s start a business!” I laughed because it was really random but I wasn’t opposed to it. I said what would our business be? She said “Let’s make candles!” It made sense because we both love smell goods and have invested in many different candle brands in the past. I replied “That would be lit!” She asked what would we call it?  My reply: “LIT”.  The rest is history.

What are the most surprising lessons you’ve learned as a new business owner?
AD: Having a business is still relatively fresh as we launched a little under a year ago and since then so much has changed from our initial packaging to our social media content to the scents we come up with. There is always a lesson to be learned.  One lesson that I can think of is that it took trial and error to learn is that simplicity is key. Another one is that sometimes you have to take a step back and take yourself out of the equation. We make candles and while we are making something we love, we want to make sure that our customer loves it too. So I may hate a particular scent but that might be the very scent that our customers are obsessed with. Also don’t doubt your influence. It’s been really humbling to hear people say “I love your candles, I saw it here…” or “such and such gifted it to me.” It never fails to surprise me.

Denaqua Williams: Some of the most surprising lessons that I’ve learned as a new business owner is that you really have to prove yourself for people to either want to work with you, or even support your product. It’s also a common misconception that a lot of new business owners feel that you don’t have to put in the work to see the results. You have to eat, sleep, and breathe your business if you want it to flourish. The passion has to be there.  We live in a time where everyone wants instant gratification without completely and thoroughly understanding the amount of work and time and effort and loss of sleep that goes into running a successful and effective business. Another surprising lesson that I’ve learned is that your relationships with people are going to change. Having a business is like having a baby, and just like a baby, you nurture this business, you give this business your undivided attention, and the people around you who don’t get your vision, won’t understand, and that may cause your relationship to wither. Everyone around you is not going to get your vision and that’s okay because it’s not for them to understand.

candles LIT Brooklyn thursday interview business


Tell us the LIT Brooklyn process for creating the kind of scent combinations that make me wish my computer screen was scratch and sniff.
DW: When it comes to creating the scents for LIT, that might be the most tedious but fun part of it all. It’s a lot of trial and error. We spend a lot of time experimenting. These scents are intoxicating, they are all reminiscent of something that we love. I love all of the scents that we created, but my ultimate favorite scent thus far is “HOME”, we named it “HOME” because that’s what it reminded us of. The lemony scent with notes of vanilla is to die for.

How did LIT get involved with Curl Fest 2016?
DW: We’ve always been fans of CurlFest, since it launched. We keep up with their events through social media, and when we saw that they were looking for vendors, we reached out and were able to be a part of the epic event. The feedback that we received from everyone who came up to our booth was spectacular. We would definitely do CurlFest again.

candles brooklyn thursday interview love

Will LIT candles be available at any pop ups for the upcoming holiday season?
AD: Ideally, we will be a part of a few pop-ups or events for the holidays. We have some things in store for fall and the holiday that we are finalizing right now. (Stay tuned to our social media) I can tell you that you will definitely see us in a few beauty subscription boxes and hopefully a few holiday gift guides. The best part about the holidays is that we get to celebrate LIT’s birthday (December 5th) so an event for that is in the works.

Fast forward a year from now, what news would you like to be sharing with your fans and collaborators?
DW: A year from now, I hope we have become an international brand. I hope to share that LIT has its own store front. I hope to share that we are being carried in major department stores. I hope for us to be featured in magazines that we read. I hope to share that LIT has expanded carrying more than candles.

Shout out time!  This is your opportunity to celebrate the people who have made the LIT launch and journey a joy.  Don’t be shy.
DW: I am happy to celebrate those close to us that keep us going, and that push us to exercise our complete potential. My boyfriend Khiry is stellar, he helps keep me motivated. Every business owner needs that one person in their corner that is there to remind them why they started in the first place. Things are going to get rough, but the most beautiful moments start to unfold right after you cross over that rough patch. Another person in particular is Evanka W., our brand manager, she came on board a few months ago. A close friend to us both, she plays a significant role in our growth as a company. I would also like to thank our customers who have remained loyal to us from the very beginning, we are very gracious to them for supporting us and believing in the product that we created. And overall, just thankful for everyone who supports us in any way possible. Being a new small business, people are often hesitant, but words can’t express my gratitude for the amount of support and love that we receive on a daily.

AD: Thank you to all my family, friends, believers, and yay-sayers for all the support and well wishes. Before the launch, they were the ones to encourage us in the ways we needed and for them, LIT is grateful. For our launch in particular, it wouldn’t have been the dream it was without our friends Marva & Miriam from the space, Ode to Babel where we had our launch party, Eshama John who has blessed us with visuals of our product from time to time, Deasia Rumble, Endeshia Bryan, Gigi Gray, and every amazing person that helped make our launch extra special. Most importantly thank you to all the people that invest in our candles, our customers. Thank you for believing in our product and spreading the love with your friends and family. We couldn’t keep it LIT if it wasn’t for you all.

Want to keep your world LIT?  Stay connected with Denaqua and Akenea on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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

The little bit of feel good for August 2016

Happy August!

Whether you are a regular or new Thursday Interview reader/subscriber, thank you.  It’s a thrill going to a party and finding out someone enjoys the Thursday Interview.   It’s a treat to know that the featured interviewees are finding new fans for their projects and businesses.

And because I want everyone to keep enjoying the Thursday Interview, I’m taking August off for a blogging break.   But no worries!  I will leave you with a little bit of feel good list for the month ahead.  Enjoy!

Fireworks @ Coney Island

The Films of Joe Dante Film Series @ BAM
August 8-24

Andra Day/ Son Little @ Prospect Park
August 13

The Living Room Candidate
This online repository of Presidential campaign ads is fascinating.

Future Hive Pop Up
August 2-8

Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt

Flatiron Tech Tuesdays – Coding for Everyone
August 9

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


Parisa Pan Wang, Love Affair Handbag by ParisaNYC

parisa wang thursday interview

***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.

Name: Parisa Pan Wang, Founder

Company: Love Affair Handbag by ParisaNYC

Launch Date: 5/18/2016

Motto: “Onward ever; backward never.”

What made you decide that owning and running a business was the right choice for you?
Passion and the urge to live a creative life. Artistic expression was not a warmly accepted ideal during my childhood because the arts were seen as a waste of time and as an impediment to academic success in China. I didn’t openly pursue art until I attended college in U.S. However, I always found opportunities to immerse myself in drawing, designing and creating things growing up. My desire to become a fashion designer never fades entering college and pursuing a business degree. Instead, it grows even stronger and deeper. I could have followed my parents’ insistence and a traditional career path. However, at the end of the day, I could not help but feel empty and lost. I asked myself, is this the path that would make me happy? Will I wake up every morning excited to go to work? Will my work have any lasting value in the world? I imagined what I would tell my grandchildren one day when they asked about my life. I could tell them that I chose a safe and responsible career choice for me at the time. But I would much rather tell them that when I was young, I decided to take a risk to follow my dream and have never looked back since. I chose to stay true to myself, therefore I chose to pursuing the things I truly love and make it a lifelong pursuit. After work experiences with 3.1 Phillip Lim, J Crew and Pologeorgis Furs, I started my business venture in 2015.

Describe a day in the life of ParisaNYC
A day in the life of ParisaNYC starts with morning yoga or workout at 7am. I finish up exercising and breakfast in around an hour and be at my desk around8am answering and writing emails. I usually draft out the day’s tasks the night before so that I can follow my calendar to tackle each task one by one that day.

The current stage of the business involves a lot of logistic and inventory management, store and market fairs research, social media marketing and etc. I will start two of my interns this week and slowly assign them some responsibilities to get them familiar with the brand and operation.

Depending on the day, I meet with potential collaborators, go to speaker and networking events, and do store researches.


Why did you create the #LoveAffairCollection?
Disappointed in a love affair, I found consolation and empowerment among my group of friends. Overwhelmed by their graciousness and the emotional support I received from these amazing women, I was compelled to spread an equally encouraging and supportive message of hope to others. That’s why I created the Love Affair line, a collection of high quality leather handbags that encourage all women to truly love their independence and to never shirk in when the going gets tough.

I created the Love Affair Handbag to further inspire women to seek relentless inner courage in the face of adversity, and to regale in the throes of loving relationships that bring out the best in each and every one of them, one handbag at a time.

Love Affair Collection is a line of handbags capturing 5 stages of a relationship to inspire courage and confidence. Find out more at: www.parisanyc.com

Congratulations on your successful Kickstarter campaign.  What insight can you share for anyone considering a Kickstarter campaign?
First and foremost, you got to have a good product and a video that catches people’s attention. The video could be funny, sarcastic or short and sweet. Here is where your creativity comes in.

Then start early. Ideas are only ideas without execution. Get out there and tell people about your ideas. Craft a landing page and create an email signup list to acquire your early adaptors. Identify your target customers and build your social media around them. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, create a business account and start to get followers. I went to many pitch nights, social networking events and speaker events during my campaign to spread the word. Any opportunity I could stand up and pitch my idea for couple minutes whether it is Q&A for guest speakers or talk to people one-on-one, I would do it.

Last but not least, plan to hit your target early. Whether it is to set your target low but practical or to persuade your friends and family to back early on, give yourself a deadline and plan to hit your target in the first week of your campaign. Then the party really starts after you hit your target. I also realized that the amount of your backers and sales orders really pick up after you hit your target.

My Kickstarter campaign can be accessed through here: www.parisanyc.net

What are your go-to resources for managing your business?
The SCORE network is my go-to resources for managing my business. SCORE has an impactful and resourceful board of business mentors who provide free advices and answers to my business questions and concerns. All the mentors on the board offer genuine, insightful and truthful suggestions to your business hoping that you would succeed. It is the best and free resources I found in the city. I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful for their time and support and highly recommend it to you. You can find out more about it here: https://www.score.org

Fast forward to July 2017, what would you like to be sharing about ParisaNYC?
Fast forward to July 2017, I will be designing for Love Affair 2018 Spring/Summer Collection. The design and development go from July to September and selling period goes from September to October. November to January will be production period and delivery to stores/customers afterwards.

I am also looking into opportunities to bring the Love Affair to Asia market and introduce a jewelry line in the near future.

Shout out time — this is your chance to highlight colleagues, collaborators and supporters.
First of all, big shout out to Tom Greenbaum from SCORE network for his genuine support and insightful suggestions to both the long-term and short-term planning for my business.

Secondly, I’d like to give a shout out to my incredible filmmaker Caleb Suttles for helping me with my film planning and making. Without his help and support, I wouldn’t be able to tell my story in the most vivid and effective way.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank all my backers and supporters to believe in my project and the mission of Love Affair to inspire courage and confidence. At ParisaNYC, we don’t believe in making handbags for mere functionality sake. We make them so that you can hold and showcase a tangible object of strength and beauty. With your support, we can continue to spread its message to support and uplift women of the world.

Thank you, Parisa.

You can stay connected with Parisa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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