creatives

TALKING FASHION WEEK, PURPOSE, AND BREAKING BARRIERS: MY INTERVIEW WITH FEARLESS & MULTI- FACETED CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR COURT KIM

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE

Court Kim for Matte Brand. Photos by    Arturo Evaristo   .

Court Kim for Matte Brand. Photos by Arturo Evaristo.

    The dope thing about networking and connecting with like-minded creatives is that as you cross paths, you often get to watch each other’s dreams come true. That’s certainly the case with my lil boo Courtlyn Montgomery, aka Court Kim. We met back in April, as we were both doing media coverage for our affiliated brands at the Fashion Designers' and Craftmakers' Angelman Syndrome Charity Event. We instantly vibed, along with a couple of other dope fashion creatives who atttended.

    I still keep in touch with them to this day so I knew that Court would be walking at NYFW. However, I had NO idea it would be for the same exact show that I would be styling! Upon seeing her name on the lineup, I was pumped to connect with her again. Being present doing what I love, while also being there for her during the backstage chaos that is NYFW, was seriously so special to me, especially as a witness to how multi faceted Court’s brand is and most importantly, how much of a genuine spirit she truly is.

          On top of being an extremely talented and candid journalist for Court Kim Media and LAPP the Brand, she also owns an online t-shirt brand, juggles modeling gigs, and is a bride-to-be, all while remaining extremely humble, well-wishing to others, and having extreme tunnel vision. Her energy is contagious and I’m beyond happy that we connected this year. Check out my interview with Court as we talk her inspirations, her BOMB fashion week experience, her advice to interns, and more.

           

Photo Courtesy of Style Fashion Week.

Photo Courtesy of Style Fashion Week.

Sharra: When did you first learn you had a passion for journalism and how did your other creative endeavors such as modeling come into the picture?

Courtlyn: I loved the concept of telling stories early on as a kid. I also love to talk to people about who they are. When I watched Oprah with my Mom as a kid, I grew fond of how she was able to break barriers while eloquently relay the real-life experiences of the American people. My other creative endeavors came out of wanting to naturally expand. Modeling was the biggest surprise for me because I didn’t know that someone like me could make it. I’m happy that I was wrong.

Sharra: So has your upbringing and background has affected who you are as a creative? If so, how?

Courtlyn: Ahhh this one is tricky. Roswell, GA wasn’t the place that I could really get into my creative self. It was more about surviving a conservative, predominately white community as a black kid. Through God and my loved ones, I’ve survived so many traumatic events and I’m still here to tell that narrative. It affects me to the point that I don’t sugarcoat anything anymore. I want my shoots to be meaningful and strategic. My articles have been  received well because I know my purpose. I’m not PR. I’m a Journalist. It’s my duty to eloquently report the facts.

Sharra: Yeah, you can definitely tell that you have a “survivor, not a victim” mindset. It translates through how transparent and candid you are as a writer. So let’s talk fashion week. I stood backstage with you holding your hand during the chaos right before your NYFW debut. It was so special watching that dream come true for you on the runway AND watching you get a standing ovation! Explain what that moment meant for you? 

Courtlyn: LISTEN. First of all, I lucked out in having you backstage with me. Thank you for keeping me level minded through the process. NYFW has been a dream of mine for the longest. It’s one of the world’s biggest stages. The backstage experience was hectic! I was practicing on my backless heels for two hours prior to hitting the main runway. Briana Wilson (the designer of MATTE Brand) casted me in a campaign two years prior so it just felt like destiny to share this moment with her. The standing ovation was the most out-of-body experience that I’ve ever had. It felt electric. I cried after walking as well. A black curve model with boxed braids at NYFW? I did that. I’m still in disbelief that I achieved that.

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Sharra: You definitely did! It was crazy, both being with you backstage and then watching it all pay off during the show and I’m so happy that I was able to be apart of that milestone in your career! So, when asked on Instagram about the importance of internships, you’ve mentioned that you have one under your belt but you believe that you can make your dreams happen on your own. What do you believe is needed to be a successful, multi-faceted creative entrepreneur in today’s world? 

Courtlyn: “Internships” should be a fulfilling experience in your field with proper compensation. College kids should know this so their labor won’t be exploited. My internship, however, was more so about fulfilling something for my resume. However, everything that I’ve done as a creative had nothing to do with my internship. My hard work, drive, and vision has been my guide this entire time. 

Sharra: I agree. I feel like internships should be mutually beneficial, especially because most young people who participate in them are often just starting to take on at least some financial responsibility. So Courtlyn, You’re working so hard on every aspect of your personal and professional brand from perfecting your craft as a writer, to serving as a muse for several fashion and creative projects. What message do you want to send to the world with your work?

Courtlyn: I feel like my message is embedded in my overall brand and creative vision. I lead with love, kindness, and intelligence in everything that I do. I want the world to know that I’m young, Black, and gifted. There’s no point of being humble about it because I deserve to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Black Women deserve to experience joy and that’s what I’m going to exude. In terms of my career in Journalism, I want my writing to always be meaningful, poignant content. 

Sharra: I’m so glad that you get that black women deserve to experience joy and be selective and intentional with all of their work! Way too often, women are trained to serve as everyone else’s source of joy but we can’t pour into others when our own glasses are empty… So, as a stylist, I’m always stressing the importance of using personal style as a means of self expression. It’s important to me that people have fun with their look and that they don’t get so caught up in today’s “trends” that they lose their sense of individuality. How would you describe your personal style? I know it’s pretty versatile! But how would you put it into words?

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Courtlyn: My style is really sporadic to be honest. I don’t dress on a “trends” basis because it’s honestly wack. I’ll partake if I feel that a trend has the capability of being “timeless.” I have hints of “goth” influence in my wardrobe as well. I really want to tap into that more. When I step out, I always serve a “bombshell” look. I love to wear something simple that accentuates my curves.

In the Winter, I always have my statement faux fur pieces. I also loooove to wear menswear. I know that my fiancé is probably annoyed with me for borrowing his clothes on a constant basis. In terms of my hair, I am sticking to my box braids. They’re super easy to maintain and they make me feel powerful. 

Sharra: You’re constantly adding to your brand. You juggle a day job, your dream job (being a journalist owning your own media company, and creative muse, having a t shirt line, etc.) what’s next for the Court Kim brand? Or are you focused on perfecting what’s already on your plate?

Courtlyn: Wow... I really do a lot, huh? This list is so steep. I’ve just closed a couple of deals for future media projects. One of them is a new podcast. The other one is something that I can’t even comment on. I’ve been given a few dream opportunities and I’m in my zone. I’m constantly working on Court Kim Media. I just don’t create based on instant gratification. I want my projects to be well-crafted. I’m in this fearless, commanding time in my life. This is what I’ve been working so hard for.


Court, it’s more than a pleasure being a witness to some of your major achievements in the industry. Thank you for sharing with me and my readers and I’m looking forward to watching the growth of all things Court Kim! Keep up with Court on Instagram, check out her articles here, and check out her t shirt line here!

More interviews and style posts coming very soon to the blog! Make sure you’re subscribed here to be the first to know about new content!

Sharra,

“The definition of walking art.”

SHE LEFT THE CORPORATE LIFE FOR HER LIFE'S CALLING: MY INTERVIEW WITH EDITORIAL STYLIST + BLOGGER KRYSTAL J. BENSON OF #INSPIREDBYKRYS

SHARED BY SHARRA GREENE

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Back in May, I met stylist Krystal Benson while attending a fashion networking event. Pretty, poised, and dressed to kill, Krystal delivered major keys concerning business, networking, and the power of spirituality, while serving on the panel. I had to catch up with her during the intermission. I instantly vibed with her... It could be a stylist thing, or maybe a Leo thing, or both. Needless to say, I had to bring her wisdom and knowledge to The Walking Art Blog! Check out my Q&A session with her as Krystal weighs in on how she stays motivated, how she deals with different demands and personas in the industry, what trend she's had enough of, and more!

So, what has inspired your career as an editorial stylist + content creator and what motivates you during the not so sexy parts of styling? 

     I've always loved to create and be creative. From doing DIY projects at home to making my own clothes, being creative is one of my favorite pastimes. Since I was a child, I would play store and draw sketches of clothes and sell them to my family members. As I've grown, my love for fashion has also evolved. At first, I wanted to be a personal stylist or a stylist to the stars, but I soon realized that my joy came from digging deeper. 

When it comes to fashion, I love telling a story with clothes, which is why I chose to go the editorial route. After 3+ years in Corporate America, I decided to quit my 9-5 and follow my dreams of being a freelance wardrobe stylist in New York City.  This avenue allows me to have fun and create a story that can spark a conversation. 

     When it comes to styling or content creating, what motivates me to keep going is the finished product. I know that nothing worth having is going to be easy. But the end result is always great when you push through! 

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"The Girl Next Door" styled by    Krystal J. Benson   . Photo by    Dominique Guillaume   .

"The Girl Next Door" styled by Krystal J. Benson. Photo by Dominique Guillaume.

So you’ve just recently wrapped a major campaign with Nike + Amazon.. what was your experience like with this campaign? Were there any challenges along the way and if so, how did you push through to deliver? 

Yes!!! The Nike + Amazon campaign was my biggest job to date. I was the main assistant for the head stylist on the job which meant I was with him for the duration of the entire project. I knew all of the ends and outs and did a lot of the leg work. One of my biggest challenges was dealing with his type A personality. He was very demanding and overthinking throughout the entire campaign. The way that I pushed through was by praying each morning before I walked on set and staying organized! Organization is key!!  

You’re currently working with Brooks Brothers on some online content.. is working with this brand teaching you anything new about the styling / fashion industry? 

     Yes, I'm definitely learning a lot about the e - commerce side and what all it takes to get content put up on the site. Some may think that you just take a picture and post it, but there is a science to all of the webpages that you do your online shopping on. You'd be surprised, all the work that goes into it. Aside from that, when we shoot mens clothing, I'm learning a lot about mens tailoring and the different terminology for the essential garments that make up a man's wardrobe. 

"Like a Boy", styled by    Krystal J. Benson   . Photo by    Pierre Walker   .

"Like a Boy", styled by Krystal J. Benson. Photo by Pierre Walker.

I personally think that styling as a skill / profession that is really slept on or underrated.. have you experienced people sleeping on your skills personally and if so, what do you do when in this situation?

     To be honest, no. Thankfully, my friends and family have all been supportive of my career choices thus far.. and on the days when I find myself questioning my abilities, I'm reminding by my circle that I am the shit, and that I shouldn't doubt myself for one second! I can't lie, when your peers are becoming doctors, lawyers and dentists making 100k out of college, you can find yourself thinking you picked the wrong major. Trust me, I've done it. But when I sit and think that each day, I get to wake up and do what I love and that means so much more! 

      Now, let’s talk style for a moment! What is one trend that you think is slept on and one trend that you think is highly overrated and/or won’t be around much longer?

The trend that I think is slept on, in my opinion, is minimalism, which is an overall vibe. I think in today's society, people love to be extra. Extra with the colors, extra with the prints, extra with everything and sometimes that's cool! But nothing can beat a classical, minimal ensemble. They always say that "less is more" and I agree!

I am OVER the fanny pack trend, especially for men. I think it has ran its course and it's time to get into some new statement accessories! 

"Fearless Brown Girl" styled by    Krystal J. Benson   . Photo by    @torrij_

"Fearless Brown Girl" styled by Krystal J. Benson. Photo by @torrij_

There are a lot of aspiring stylists / fashion creatives who struggle with what their daily /weekly grind should look like. As a wardrobe stylist myself, I’m constantly revisiting my to do list and adding and taking away certain tasks to make sure my focus is where it needs to be. I know this process is different for everyone but could you give just a little insight on how to stay productive and not just “busy” as a wardrobe stylist? 

I think we all struggle from time to time with staying focused. As creatives, our minds are forever thinking of ways to create and evolve. That's the fun part of doing what we do but it can also be one of the hardest things to manage. First, I would say to write out your goals, short and long term. Then, devise a plan that will help you attack it in pieces until you accomplish your goal. And finally put that work into action. Like I said earlier, organization is key so be sure to write everything down and give yourself deadlines to hold yourself accountable. 

Also, whatever you do, remember that you are your own person. Don't compare yourself to the next person. Your journey is different. Your ideas are different. Nobody else can be you and that is your super power. 

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     Krystal, thank you so much for sharing your insight! I'm glad that we crossed paths back in May! Keep up with Krystal's journey on her site and social media!

The goal was to give aspiring creatives some advice from a style pro so I hope you got something from this highlight! Comment your thoughts below! 

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art." 

COLLABORATION OR COMPETITION? THERE'S POWER IN BOTH CONCEPTS

Written & Styled by Sharra Greene

From "My Sista's Keeper", Featuring Tene'A Cummings and Dominique Harris and shot by Damon Rice.

From "My Sista's Keeper", Featuring Tene'A Cummings and Dominique Harris and shot by Damon Rice.

A lot of major brands and business in the fashion and style realm as well as other industries are taking a stand for the idea of "Collaboration Over Competition", essentially creating a movement that empowers the idea of individuals coming together to achieve a common goal as opposed to individually competing to get there. This movement has a powerful message that caused me think about the different benefits of both competing and collaborating in order to progress in a career, and even in life in general. I believe that both concepts can bring out the best in a person both personally and professionally, I explain how below. 

The Ideal Concept of Competition

     The idea of competing for some sort of supremacy, whether it be money, a repuation, or even clientele, often has a negative connotation behind it because of the often insecure, immoral and sometimes mean spirited nature of people. However, when competition is done with authenticity and good ethics, it can serve as a tremendous benefit for those who are constantly striving to grow within their craft.

    As a style creative, I am not necessarily just studying those in my proximity who are building a brand within my field, but I am looking beyond, at the ones who are or seem to be "winning" the way that I want to win. When I do this, I'm rarely ever looking to compare my chapter 7 to someone elses chapter 20, as they say. But instead, I am proposing a challenge to myself to create work that I truly believe is on that level. I truly believe that by challenging yourself to compete with the best, you can literally only get better in the long term. I believe that when someone is receiving the things that you want, one of the most effective things to do is to challenge yourself to create work that could stand side by side with theirs. This type of competition can be done without announcing, sabotaging, or bashing someone else. Over time, the progress will definitely speak for itself. 

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The Ideal Concept of Collaboration

Though I appreciate healthy competition, it is no secret that I am pro collaboration. Most, if not all of the posts on The Walking Art Blog are a result of a collaboration with other bomb creatives. I absolutely love the idea of a group of individuals leveraging each other's strengths to create a collective work of art. Looking back at my journey as a stylist from when I first started to now, one thing that I've learned is how to be selective about who I choose to collaborate with. When I am either seeking or deciding whether to accept or decline a collaboration request, I am looking to see if we are all on the same page, and if our collective efforts would add value of some sort to each individual involved, whether that be financially, professionally, or artistically, the value needs to be there. When those factors are involved, that is when the magic happens. That is when everyone involved can utilize the results to take themselves and their work to the next level, whatever that level may be for them because it really is different for everyone. 

Embracing Both

I am truly learning to appreciate and embrace both competing and collaborating because of what the two combined could do for me as an artist and as a business woman. My advice? Don't just stick to one. Explore both strategies for yourself in the best way that you can and witness your own growth in whatever it is you're going after. 

My Sista's Keeper.   Tenea is wearing a  vintage faux leather little black dress with fur trim ,  Inari fishnet stockings , vintage earrrings and rings, thigh high boots, gold scale necklace from my wardrobe collection. Dominique is wearing a  vintage Janine New York geometric print metallic dress ,  Public Desire Kassidy gladiator heels ,  Urban Outfitters choker , bangles, rings, and earrings from my wardrobe collection

My Sista's Keeper.  Tenea is wearing a vintage faux leather little black dress with fur trimInari fishnet stockings, vintage earrrings and rings, thigh high boots, gold scale necklace from my wardrobe collection. Dominique is wearing a vintage Janine New York geometric print metallic dressPublic Desire Kassidy gladiator heelsUrban Outfitters choker, bangles, rings, and earrings from my wardrobe collection

Credits:

Photographer/ Creative Director: D. Rice Photography

Models: Tenea Cummings and Dominique Harris

Styling and Creative Direction by Me

Click here to see this full shoot!

Stay tuned for more inspiration and insight coming very soon to the blog.

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."

EXPLORING THE COMPLEXITY OF WOMEN'S INTERESTS: MY INTERVIEW WITH CREATIVE AND FUTURE EDUCATOR COACH CANDO

Written by Sharra Greene and Candace Scott

     Working with all types of creatives from models to makeup artists to photographers, I'm always intrigued by how versatile women can be when it comes to their passions. One thing that I love is meeting someone who's super creative and then discovering that they also have interests that are on the opposite end of the spectrum, or something that is unexpected. Meeting people like this inspires me not to ever limit myself, or feel like I only have to stick to one thing as a creative. I can be as versatile as I want.

     This brings me to my latest guest on the Walking Art Blog, creative, youtuber, and aspiring educator Candace Scott, aka Coach Cando. Having known Candace since we were young teens (we're in our 20's now), I've been able to see just how much she's grown. Not only is Cando a gorgeous girl with a bomb sense of style, who unapologetically pursues several of her passions, but she also has a genuine spirit and a heart of gold. In this interview, Candace and I talk her interests, and what drives her to pursue her passions, issues women face when it comes to being "categorized", as well as personal style. 

First things first, Why do they call you coach?

     It's a long story, it's a name that just stuck after my sophomore year of college. I just claimed it after one of my guy friends needed some advice on how to handle a situation with a girl he liked and he responded "thanks coach" and it went from there. I also think a coach is better than a teacher so it fits my lifestyle pretty well too. 

I talked briefly with you before about how complex your interests are... Your passion for creativity and art is evident through your various photo shoot collabs and unique sense of style, yet you are majoring in education, what drove you to want to study this and what changes would you like to see/ contribute to making in the system?

     Well, initially I wanted to be an actress and I wanted to pursue this dream more than anything before I fell in love with the idea of being an educator. I made my mom take me to an agency, she paid for acting classes and I even went to Baltimore Talent for acting my freshman year of high school. I left Baltimore Talent after a that year because my mom was concerned about my safety, Baltimore Talent was over west Baltimore, I was fine with being in the hood (laughing) Well, I ended up being enrolled at Mergenthaler high school/trade school for my sophomore year and the only trade available was teacher academy. Clearly, the choice was already made for me and I felt like it was a start to see what my true purpose in life was.

       I was reluctant at first and if I did have a better choice it wouldn't have been education. But it was like it was picked for me to see my true purpose in life. I was a weird child, I failed the 5th grade, I was bullied, I was emotional, I hated school... Children deserve someone who will fight for them, push them to succeed, open their minds.. and our school systems need help, severely. I'm going to make my way in and make some serious changes. 

How did you discover that you like being in front of the camera? 

     It's really just for fun. A lot of people would ask me to do shoots so I would just yes, I'm pretty awkward in front of the camera at times. It's something that I'm still practicing. 

Talking more about diverse interests, in addition to being apart of dope photography projects and studying to be an educator, you also have produced positive content for women via your youtube channel, Girls Tour, where you and your best friend Maya feature everything from tutorials, to personal friendship milestones, to women's empowerment keys with special guests, specifially my blog boo and self care activist Jasmyn Ruja (see our interview here), what inspired you to start the channel and what can we expect from you via youtube in the future?     

     It's funny you asked that because I've actually been M.I.A from the social media scene for some time now. I needed some personal time away. So many things were going on in our personal lives we had to make a decision to end Girls Tour. BUT, I've been working on a big project for everyone and I'm super excited about creating a new channel! I should be coming back officially in August and I'm really happy with everything right now. 

In society, we as women often encounter people who are uncomfortable with our versatility/ our diverse interests, gifts, and skillsets. If we look, act, or dress a certain way, people often want to only see us in that light. Or, they want to use certain attributes to define for us, what type of woman we are. However, I feel like there's no better time for women to pursue and succeed in a range of different things, regardless of what others may think, especially with so many of us taking our creative, and financial destinies into our own hands. Have you ever encountered this issue in your own life and if so, how do you choose to respond?

      As women we face many injustices and inequalities on an everyday basis. People are intimidated by women that have any power, if we have a strong work ethic, have goals that are fiercely set or they don't settle for less they are automatically labeled the meanest names in the book when they should be admired!!

     I was in a emotionally abusive relationship where that person made me feel like I couldn't be better than him, it was like competition. I couldn't say certain things, wear certain things, it was painful. I decided that I'm going to do what I want and go for what I want no matter the circumstance because I only have 1 life to live and it won't go to waste because of what people THINK of me. Women are making changes in this world, great changes with even greater limitations and that's why it's important to encourage and empower young girls and young women to keep the change going. 

The Walking Art concept is all about expressing an attitude/message through style. Since I've known you since we were young teens, I've watched your personal style evolve and you're always serving such bomb, versatile looks. How would you describe your personal style and what do you think it says about you?

      Aw Thank you beautiful, my style definitely evolved a lot. I felt like I didn't find my style until later on in my life. I was always the one that dressed weird or I guess "couldn't dress". I was a bit tacky to be honest (laughing) I honestly just wear what I'm feeling and I've gotten better at it now that I have an adult budget and I can piece cool things together, I feel like I have a fetish for weird conversation pieces like my shoes and bags that make my style more unique. 

What would you say is your dream creative project to work on? 

     My dream project is probably working with "She's the First" She's the First is a non-profit organization based in New York City, they sponsor education for young girls in low-income countries. I also would like to work with the boys and girls club!

Comment your thoughts below. Candace, I'm so proud of you and I'm looking forward to your success in your future endeavors.  

Stay tuned for more inspiration and new looks coming very soon to the blog!

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."