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#BlackGirlBoss with True Indian Hair’s Karen Mitchell

Going natural has been an incredible hair journey for me, though I’ll have to be honest, more often than not, fraught with frustrations. After relaxing my hair for most of my life, I’ve gone creamy crack free for a little under 4 years now. One of my favorite things about my natural hair journey is the discovery of black women taking their share of the black haircare industry, something that was considered unthinkable before. One of these boss women is True Indian Hair founder, Karen Mitchell. I’ve been following Karen and her brand since it’s early days; I first remember seeing the advertisement for it on a bus in Brooklyn in around 2008. I loved a long straight weave back then and started to hear rumblings in the hair industry about “indian hair” that you could reuse and would still stay full. Karen’s hair was my first foray into luxury hair extensions and I haven’t turned back.

As she’ll tell you later, Karen Mitchell’s True Indian hair wefts are behind some of your favorite celebrity looks, from Taraji P. Henson to Rihanna to Lizzo and on the runways of New York Fashion Week. I can personally attest to the intense quality control that the company provides. I first told my ‘N A Perfect audience of my love affair with True Indian Hair back in 2015, when I wrote about embracing the idea of curls for the summer. Right before this weave was the last time I permed my hair and in an effort to straighten my hair less and take care of it despite my rigorous travel schedule, I decided to try curly extensions for the first time in a texture that would match closer to my own. I hoped to be able to “sweat it out,” go swimming etc. without worrying my roots and hair didn’t match. Flash forward a few years later and those curls have become my signature look and have only gotten kinkier and closer to my natural texture. The wildest thing to me is I still have a few pieces of those bundles. They have lasted through INSTALLATIONS.

But here’s the problem that I’ve found throughout the years in my curly hair search, SHEDDING!

The curlier the hair I seek out is, the more maintenance it requires (think costs) and the more it sheds. So, despite trying a few other luxury hair companies, and even AliExpress, I’m back to True Indian Hair for this summer because I still haven’t found a product that matches the brand in quality. This summer, I’m trying the 20 inch (when pulled) variety of one of their newer textures, super Indian kinky and despite some slight shedding, I can say I am extremely pleased.

If I can support a black business woman, I’m there for it, all day, every day and Karen’s story and hustle is truly inspiring to me. Before Instagram marketing, she was the first black women entrepreneur I saw holding their own in the black hair trade. At the time she started in the early 2000s, packaged hair was the norm; maybe you went to an Asian-owned beauty supply store and if you were lucky, the shop assistant was someone of color. This is why I was particularly interested in Karen’s story and wanted to share some of her experience and sage advice with you! Enjoy!

‘N: I’ve been a fan of True Indian Hair since it’s first store in Brooklyn. In fact, it was the first luxury hair weave company I ever purchased from. Some of my “fill in” pieces are still from one of my first batches! Karen, I’m sure you’re an inspiration to a lot of young women entrepreneurs. This is an industry that seems to be ripe for opportunity, but so few black women selling products to fellow black women at the time you started (and still now). Did you face roadblocks and obstacles in launching True Indian Hair? What was the biggest lesson learned from them?

Karen: I started at a time when there were very few black women hair bosses.  I started in 2004 selling out of a showcase in a barber shop I owned while still working my 9-5.  Two years later after getting laid off from my job, I opened my first flagship store in Brooklyn.  The obstacles I initially faced was being based on not having any real business knowledge, plan or enough seed money.  I was naïve about what it took to start a business. I had the drive to do it but very little else. This lack of planning made it very difficult to get the brand off the ground and I almost closed the store the first year. 

‘N: Black Americans have revolutionized and democratized the hair industry. Making weaves trendy for all races, upping the stakes in the quality we demand, etc. The closest I’ve seen it in all of my travels (even to black countries) has been in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they were selling bundles in an airport stand! If you could open a TIH boutique anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Karen: Yes, black women have certainly taken hair extensions and wigs to new heights globally.  I would love to open a TIH store in Europe (London, Paris, Germany) and in my country, the beautiful island of Jamaica.   I have clients in many European countries and they constantly complain of the lack of readily available quality hair extension and wig stores.  These international stores are on my to do list.  

*They also do Sheitel / Jewish wigs!

*And her background is Jamaican, so maybe I am a bit partial!

HBIC Karen on her way to a business meeting

‘N: It used to be almost “taboo” to talk about your weave. Now people wear them loud and proud, switching it up. What do you attribute to this change?

Karen: As a hair retailer it makes me so happy to see the taboo subject of weaves and wigs are no more.  “This aint your mama’s wig” is a line I jokingly use with my clients all the time.  This change is largely attributed to social media.  Black social media influencers, celebrity stylists and celebrity themselves have pushed the envelope in showing weave and wigs as an acceptable and fun beauty regime.  Now you have the Kardashians proudly saying they wear weaves and wigs.  Celebrities are proudly tagging and promoting wig and weave companies.  This has taken the shame out of it and now it’s cool to proudly claim it.  Now many celebs themselves are starting hair lines.  We are actually partnering with Marlo Hampton of House Wives of Atlanta to launch a line of wigs this summer.

*take that to all the people questioning Marlo’s hustle!

‘N: I remember going to the shop years ago, maybe 2009ish or 2010, and Karen was on a trip to India. I was in India at the end of last year and it was hard being a black woman there. I’ve read a lot of accounts, enough to know it wasn’t just me. From what I experienced, there is a strong overarching racism towards black people there. This could be very different in the business world as your money is just as green as everyone else’s. What were your experiences in India as a black entrepreneur? Do you go often for work trips?

Karen: Yes, in the early days of the business I traveled to India to visit the factories making my hair and wigs. I do know of the racism black people and darker Indians face in India based on my research before I went. I did not encounter that while I was there and it may have been because I was there on business.  What I got more of was a bit of sexism.  It was always a surprise to the vendors that I was doing this as a woman alone.  I was often asked, so is your husband running the business at home? or is your husband coming? or is your husband a silent partner? It was always a surprise that I was doing it alone as a woman.

‘N:Who would be the most iconic “get” wearing TIH?

Karen: I have had some iconic OMG’s like Rihanna. We love Rihanna and her stylist Yusef who keeps her fab in our hair. Adding to her: Beyoncé and First lady Michelle Obama would be the most iconic gets for me right now. 

‘N: Advice time! If you think a friend’s hair, could benefit from a little umphf! A nice weave… how would you suggest it to her?

Karen: A friend friend or just a friend lol..   I would say in a diplomatic way, hey, I think you would look amazing in this texture.  A change would look amazing on you.

‘N: What is your go to TIH style? 

Karen: My current go to style is our 6″ part curly glueless wig and our kinky blowout extensions. I alternate between those two.  They are both textured and require very little maintenance. 

‘N: I’m loving my TIH super kinky curly for a wet and go summer style. What are your 5 favorite summer hair and beauty products?

Karen: Yes, the super kinky curly is a new texture we added this year.  It’s kinkier than  our normal kinky curl but it’s still soft and manageable with a daily leave in conditioner.  I recently created a line of paraben-free hair care products called  TRUE HAIR CARE Moisture Rich system.  My goal was to create a product that works equally great on natural hair and weaves and wigs. 

My top 5 summer and beauty products are: 1. True Hair Care Moisture Rich leave in detangler | 2. Jane Carter Scalp Nourishing Serum | 3. Toppik Hair Building Fibersgives you fuller edges for those up close selfies | 4. La Mer  Moisturizing Creamcostly but keeps my skin looking and feeling younger | 5. Clive Christian L perfume

Check out this fun little video I made for Instagram jokingly inspired by the 1990s Maybelline campaigns staring Christy Turlington.

10 Places to Travel As An Interracial Couple (without being oogled)

I love the respond I get from you guys as readers especially when I write about places I felt comfortable traveling as a black American woman (that’s why I did a second list!). From students planning their study abroad, families planning their first overseas vacations, it’s been great hearing your feedback and experiences. I’ve heard from a few mixed race families looking to have comfortable family vacation perhaps without being oogled at, someone touching their kid’s hair or thinking that the mom is a nanny or au pair.

In our video on Traveling As An Interracial couple in honor of Loving Day, Michele and I mainly discuss our experiences and social commentary as a whole, mentioning very few places so I wanted to make a list and share with you from BOTH of our experiences.

Monaco and the French Riviera. Michele and I just watched Netflix’s new movie, Murder Mystery that takes place in a lot of our stomping grounds, from Brooklyn to Northern Italy. Michele didn’t notice but I notice in the scenes through Monaco, markets to Grand Prix, a lot of the extras were interracial couples of black women and white men. This is something I noticed in my travels in the area as well with wealth, superseding, race and even background as means to enter.

Paris, France. Along the same lines, Paris is a city where I saw an abundance of interracial couples as well as mixed race people reflecting the country’s history from the West Indies to Asia and Africa. It’s where black artists and intellectuals sought freedom post-War: James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Josephine Baker, to name a few. It’s oddly enough where I ended up for a brief stint after the last presidential election. Not even an oogle, being an interracial couple in Paris seems to cause no pause. France is not exempt from intense race issues though and being a black American there is a strange space.

Maybe I’m on a Francophile kick because the isle of Martinique, a French department is a great island for interracial families to travel to as it embodies the histories past and present, seen in the people and culture. As I mentioned in a my Vogue.com article on Martinique, the island is “decidedly French, very Caribbean, with a strong tie to its African roots.” – Nneya Richards ;). This intersectionality of cultures is why Martinique makes the list.

Allow me one more Francophile moment, Geneva, Switzerland. I was reminded of describing Geneva as a “rainbow coalition” to one of my best friends in New York in 2009, recently during a conversation with a friend in Milan last week (in 2019). When I first visited the city (and Lausanne!) I was taken aback by the amount of interracial couples and mixed raced children I saw. Here was Switzerland, often depicted as this very pristine, very white and very wealthy place and I was seeing people of all colors enjoying that idyllic Swiss life. During an aperitivo with a black American friend in Milan recently she too mentioned Geneva being a place where she too noticed an abundance of interracial couples. About one in four residents of Switzerland is an immigrant so that certainly sheds some light. Also, remember, Tina Turner has been living her best life there for the last few decades.

The culture of Singapore is a true melting pot with four official languages, English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay. With the concept of foodgasm being a centuries old thing, seen by the old malay word shiok, it seems like these cultures live in harmony through food! The Eastern cultures as well as the Eurasian Dutch side is reflected in the food, architecture and looks of the population. Peranakans are an ethnic group descended from Chinese settlers from the southern provinces who came to the Malay archipelago mixing with the Brits and the Dutch between the 15th and 17th centuries. Peranakan food is one of my favorite in the world, almost only found in Singapore. With Singapore being one of the wealthiest countries in the world and a place with a lot of wealthy expats, I found Asian-white interracial couples were relatively common in most of the establishments I went to.

As I mentioned in my previous post regarding Brazil, there is a strong black population there was an strong influence on arts, science and culture, the the Brazilian culture exported around the world despite what the bigot in power there may lead you to believe. Hey, I’m American, and yes, Donald Trump is the president of the US, so…. Brazil is considered a “color-blind” society with a full one-third and growing of the marriages there being interracial. Good right? Well yes and know, because there is darkness behind this colorblindness. Is it an attempt to create a true mixed race society or an attempt to erase blackness from the country’s origins. The process was called blanqueamiento (a social process of “improving” the race through interracial marriages) and the most well known commentary on this is the 1895 painting, The Redemption of Ham by Modesto Brocos. Brazil even used this photo as an example of their eugenics theory in a conference in Europe! I could go on for days about this painting and really want to go to Brazil to explore the social ramifications of this process and mentality as shown in this painting, but that’s a whole other story. Here’s a great YouTube on this which discusses this.

The Redemption of Ham by Modesto Brocos, 1895

Due to colonization, the UK has a long history of non-white identifying people identifying as English. In the country’s larger cities like London, you most clearly see a blending of cultures — I’d dare say even more than NYC. Something that Michele noticed about interracial black-white couples there was curious: on council states / in lower socioeconomic classes, the mixed race couples tended to be more black men with white women, and in the upper classes, it was the other way around, white men with black or mixed race women? Curious, huh? The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are almost poster children of interracial marriage for the country and despite Brexit and what is seemingly a wave of alt-right views (Prince Harry had to release an official statement expressing his dismay at the racist tones of the criticism for his then-girlfriend, Megan Markle) the couple is ushering in a new wave of the monarchy and in turn, what the country looks like.

Sure, NYC is a melting pot but it is still very ethnically and racially divided, especially when considering socioeconomic status. What makes it a unique melting-pot is that despite neighborhood divides, 100s of cultures have to intersect and cross paths daily. Brooklyn and it’s diversity could be a city of it’s own and with a younger generation leading the way (the Mayor lived in Brooklyn with his mixed-race family) you’re more likely to see all types of interracial couples (racially and sexual orientation wise) in Brooklyn. Spend a first Saturday in Brooklyn Museum and tell me what you think.

Speaking of melting pots, Miami is one of the most international cities in the US. Long been known as a gateway to Latin American, you also can hear French, Russian, Italian, Patois, Creole, etc being spoken in public spaces there. All of these elements come together in a flavor that is unique to the city and you can see it in the romantic pairings.

I must admit, I didn’t see many interracial couples in South Africa. The few I saw were in Johannesburg, and whether romantic or friendships, they were a beacon of hope in the new South Africa they speak of. If you’re in an interracial couple or family, South Africa is a great trip (as is reading Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime); I’m a staunch believer in confronting our past to make a new and brighter future and with apartheid in our lifetimes, South Africa forces you to do that, count your blessings and see hope for the future.

New Video! Traveling as an Interracial Couple

In the United States, we celebrate Loving Day — a day where we honor the Supreme court decision of Loving vs. Virginia of 1967 which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. Childhood and family friends Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter married in Washington, DC when she was 18 years old and pregnant. Mildred did not realize interracial marriage was illegal and they were arrested in their hometown north of Richmond, Virginia and forced to plead guilty to charges of “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” To avoid jail time, the couple had to agree to leave Virginia and lived in Washington DC with their children for some time. Upon returning to Virginia (it was their home after all!) they were harassed and arrested. After writing to US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy about their predicament, he referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1967 the Supreme Court ruled to strike down the remaining anti miscegenation laws.

Per their website, LovingDay.org, Loving Day seeks both to commemorate and celebrate the Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling, keeping its importance fresh in the minds of a generation which has grown up with interracial relationships being legal, as well as explore issues facing couples currently in interracial relationships. Ken Tanabe is credited with forming the idea for Loving Day. He created the idea in 2004 for his senior thesis at Parsons the New School of Design.


In the US, were not as “post-racial” as we’d like to believe — I think the current political climate has thrown that theory out of the window. We are decades away from the 1967 Supreme Court Loving ruling but interracial couples still navigate a few minefields in society. Michele and I are happily in a partnership where we discuss these things rather openly. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of emails and DMs not just about traveling as a black woman but traveling as an interracial couple (many in particular from black woman with white partners and children!). So when Michele suggested that I write a post on romantic trips for black couples for Valentine’s day, I gently reminded him that we’re not a black couple but decided to address questions I HAVE gotten.


Here is Michele and me on Traveling As an Interracial Couple on YouTube or if you’d prefer, IGTV (sound’s better).

11 Perfect Mother-Daughter Trips

My mother, Heather and me in Martinique

One of my favorite travel buddies in the world is my mom. Whether it’s on a plane or getting into a car for a long road trip for summer camp, a Greyhound bus, she is always up for an adventure. We’ve stayed at palaces in Portugal, traversed dodgy areas of Paris, explored Fidel’s relics in Cuba and have taken an unfathomable amount of photos in doorways around the world — we’ve even been to a reception at the White House together. When I can, I love to give her a trip for her birthday. Sure, I’m an advocate for traveling solo but there really is nothing like seeing many of these incredible places with a loved one and who’s more of a day one than your mom? I’ve rounded up some great destinations for a mother-daughter trip. Some, are places Heather and I have been, others are on our bucket list.

Today is Mother’s Day in the US, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and several countries in Europe including Italy, where I am. Hope this inspires you to call your mom and hit the road (or air).

we’ve taken selfies around the world together but it always comes back to New York

I’m from New York City and absolutely love where I’m from. There is no place like it in the world and while I appreciate other cities, no place holds a candle to my hometown. My mom has been in NYC since her early teens and taught me that deep love of New York. When I see Washington Square Park’s arch in a movie for example, I think of countless hours I spent there as a kid with my mom just watching the fountain, going to the Bronx Zoo, restaurants, museums, you name it. New York City is a kid’s playground and what has contributed to my curiosity. Since there’s something for everyone, easy public transportation, world-renowned entertainment, no matter what your mom’s interests, NYC has something to offer. My beautiful friend Nola, visited NYC with her mom this past holiday season from Paris / Martinique and I was happy to host them. Even in the bitter cold, they had a GREAT time.

One of my mom and my special places is the island of Puerto Rico, particularly the city of San Juan. Honestly, I probably learned travel independence in San Juan as often, I’d wake up in my hotel room only to find my mom gone, already on her hunt for the perfect cup of coffee in the Condado district. In 2017 hurricane María devastated Puerto Rico and the island is bouncing back tremendously. Of course, the tourism industry was majorly impacted so yours and your mom’s travel dollars could go a long way here!

exploring Getsemaní in Cartagena with my mother

If your mom is a lit head like mine, head to Cartagena. My love of the writers Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende etc came from Heather. My mom practically danced through the streets of Cartagena imagining the prose of her favorite authors as she sipped limonada de cocos. Magical realism at it’s finest.

Driving along Havana’s Malecón

My mom and I went to Havana together in 2016. It was an absolute bucket-list destination after tensions and embargoes with the island nation eased during the Obama administration. We volunteered at Muraleando Arts center and explored the city on a long weekend. If you’ve ever traveled to Cuba as an American, you know that cash, and not having access to your credit cards and ATM is a big thing. Moms always know best: it’s no wonder that when I ran out of cash thinking I took out more than enough for the week Heather had an ample amount with her, beyond “in case of emergency.”

Heather at Muraleando Arts Center

There are few better places for a mother-daughter trip that the motherland of humankind, Africa. Remember it’s a continent, not a country so here are two places for you to get started.

in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood of Cape Town during my visit in 2018

Traveling to South Africa was such an incredible experience and I can not wait to go back with my mom. From safari to the international city of Capetown and then seeing the new vibey South Africa of Johannesburg. It’s a trip that’s filled with incredible experiences and people. For my mom and I as black women, understanding South Africa’s past and the struggle of Nelson Mandela and the people of color in the country is moving. It’s also the kind of place where a two-week trip will just scratch the surface. I can’t wait to take my mom there and discover new things! My friend @RachelTravels will be hosting mother-daughter tours in South Africa soon so definitely hit her up if you want some recs. She’s an American currently based in Johannesburg.

My mother casually let me know that she loves travelling with me and oh, Vanessa Williams met her husband while on a mother-daughter trip to Egypt on a Nile cruise excursion. Think about all they’ve done for us. The least we can do is pay them back by playing wing-woman. Experience the wonders of the pyramids with your mother. I know you’re wondering, “I want to see the Sphinx, Giza, Valley of the Kings in Luxor, but, is it safe for my mom?” Tourism to the country definitely took a nosedive after 2011’s Revolution but guess when Vanessa Williams and her daughter went? In 2013! Unfortunately, terrorism is still something to consider when traveling, but can really happen anywhere as we’ve seen by attacks in European countries. Maybe get a guide *as Vanessa Williams and her daughter did, and avoid large public gatherings. Crime, in general, is low in Egypt but sexual harassment is very high with over 90% of Egyptian women in a UN report stating that they have been harassed. Egypt is still on my bucket list with my mom because, well, sometimes I think the world can be going to sh!t — I regret never seeing Damascus before, the original library of Alexandria, and hey, you never know. Maybe avoid big holidays, public squares like Tahrir Square in Cairo. So in the same way you rushed to Cuba before it changed completely, take a mother-daughter trip to Egypt!

Another trip that was incredibly moving was Israel. It’s a destination I absolutely wanted to share with my mom. The rich history in Jerusalem, the modernity of Tel Aviv, the food culture of both, wine in the mountains of Judea is something I’m looking forward to showing her. My mom is also a big street art fan so I know she’ll love Tel Aviv’s street art scene.

My mom and me in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in 2017

You know what they say, “Paris is always a good idea” and you should see Paris for the first time with someone who will always love you. Who better than your mom!

Overview in Bordeaux France

If you’ve already seen Paris with your mom. My next favorite city in France is Bordeaux (my mom’s favorite is probably Marseilles). You and your mom can have a proper girls trip as I wrote about for the Duchess of Sussex’s (née Meghan Markle) former blog, The Tig and All the Pretty Birds. A wine cruise is a beautiful way to visit the region and its vineyards and you won’t have to be mom’s DD.

beautiful buildings while on a trip to Valencia with my mom in 2017

Know your audience. I sure do and my mom is more of a sangria drinker. On a trip to Southern Spain we spent afternoons sipping sangrias, gnoshing on jamon iberico and wandering through Spain’s food halls. As we were in Valencia, we had to try all of the paellas. My mom’s a foodie so exploring Spain’s rich food culture with her was a must.

selfie with my mom in front of Buckingham Palace Christmastime 2017

In the last year or two, few dynamic mother-daughter duos have garnered the world’s attention as Duchess Meghan of Sussex and her mother Doria Ragland. The world has fawned over the latter’s regality, pose and dignity after being thrust into the spotlight and every photo of them together effuses their genuine affection and deep love for one another. Why not plan a trip to London with your mom visiting some of their favorite haunts in West London or a proper afternoon tea. My mom absolutely loves London, finding time for a layover there on every trip to Europe.

Call your mom up and plan a trip now!

my mom and I landing in Havana

10 Ways to Grow Sisterhood in the Digital Creator Space

Ever so often on a press trip, if it’s a mix of influencers and journalists, the journalists often have horror stories of narcissistic influencer behavior and influencers have horror stories of crabs in a barrel behavior. I too have had some horror stories and I’m sure I’ve shocked an X Gazette decades long journalist or two whipping out my tripod and capturing video and DSLR shots simultaneously but I am respectful of the group. Luckily, more often than not, the sentiment is, “but this trip is different.” Such was the case in my recent trip to St Croix with the US Virgin Islands Tourism board. Could you believe a group of female entrepreneurs (and one male! Thanks for the pic Pablo Valentin) could meet, trade life stories, career advice and experiences?

So here’s to making sure that special place isn’t filled with influencers!

STOP with the mean girl behavior. Your fellow digital content creator has her own eye and has gotten far enough before she met you. No need to feel threatened that she’s going to “steal your ideas.” One of my favorite bloggers, Melanie Martins and I met on Instagram and got together while she was in NYC for fashion week. For both of us, after experiencing mean girl behavior on previous trips, it was such a relief to have a laugh and connect with someone who also experienced life on the go. Not being able to get together often we like, comment and support each other from afar.

STOP “follower-count-cliquing.” This is a page from my girl, RachelTravels.com. She mentioned in her book, that while on a press trip with some well-known female influencers of color she and some of the guests were subjects to these influencers clicking up so as to avoid anyone “using their numbers for visibility.” GAG

That leads me to COLLABORATE. For me, if there is genuine synergy and a similar message, or a message I support, why NOT collaborate to get the best shot, shout out your fellow creators and gain some visibility on their networks and vice versa. We have to stop with this crabs-in-a-barrel mentality. You’re the only one that can be you, be confident in that.

If you find yourself relating to men more than you do to your women peers (I am NOT talking in terms of sexuality and gender norms) think about how the patriarchy has warped your mind, sis. I’ve always been very close with my male older cousins and have had a lot of close male relationships at different phases of my life, but nevertheless I cringe when I hear “I’m a guy’s girl!”

Follow a good girls duo. Ok, #relationshipgoals are cute, but #friendshipgoals #sisterfriends warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes. Maybe it’s a mother-daughter duo, maybe it’s best friends that travel together like @goyokococo, or sisters like @theprescodsisters.

with my sister friend @SophieElgort

Check on your sisters. I’m thinking of my friend Sarah, @1nomadicdreamer. She’s always been extremely supportive of me since we met at Women’s Travel Fest in New Orleans. Her keynote speech was so inspirational. Trekking around the world Sarah has had her fair share of accidents that she’s public about but sometimes I like to check in on her offline to see how she’s really coping. Always a trooper, she never fails to inspire.

Support women owned business when considering partnerships and collaborations. When I was in PR at Topshop, we won a beauty award and when attending the award ceremony, my boss and I were 2 of a handful of women in the room. An industry targeted towards women is run by men! We speak with our purchasing power and in our case, with our influence so why not use that influence to support other female entrepreneurs, whether you’re promoting a beauty product, clothing line or an app! My current favorites? Black Girl Sunscreen and Daughters of the Soil face oil both skincare companies founded by women of color.

Spread the love. Chatting with Crystal of @YounicStyle we discussed the idea of passing on opportunities. Sometimes you’ll get a partnership that’s not quite a fit for you. Why not pass it on to a colleague or fellow creative in your circle that may be better suited? Often times the PR team appreciates your thoughtfulness and trust that that good karma is going to come back around. One of my first big brand partnerships was a beauty company was through a mentor of mine passing along an opportunity that wasn’t quite right for the level she was at but was perfect for me just starting. 

Share stories of success and failures. I remember being on a trip and a conversation came up about posting times and what times got the best traction for engagement. A male videographer was giving advice to a woman who was just starting to up her social media game. The videographer’s frequent collaborator stopped him and said “sshh! Don’t give away our secrets!” The group kind of laughed it off but there was certainly a micro-expression of hurt / embarrassment I caught on the newbie’s face. This goes back to that mean girl behavior. Like, why?! I don’t get invited to workshops at Instagram’s HQ in NYC but my best friend does and she shares her insights with me. @SophieElgort is a real one. I’m lucky.

Remember your success is not incumbent on someone else’s failure so why not pay it forward. Your glow up is the group’s glow up.

Of course this can apply to ANY industry. What have your experiences been? Let me know below!

Kakslauttanen Artic Resort Photo Diary


Jordan Peele, Kakslauttanen Artic Resort and Norwegian partnered for a new movie, it’s about 7 people of color, lost in the Arctic Circle, the survival skills they develop and the transformation into a new super race. They go their separate ways after the trip and are planted in different areas of the globe as sleeper agents, waiting for the day….

KIDDING! Well kind of. Diversity is a trending word right now, especially in terms of corporate social responsibility. As consumers, we have a choice as to where and how we spend our money — travel should be no different. It’s not enough for a company to release a PR statement on how much they love all types of people, but look into who is making the decision making process. I’ve spoken on why I love partnering with Norwegian before from their great deals to their philanthropic partnerships, but this trip to Finland, and Kakslauttanen Artic Resort in particular sealed my love affair with the airline. In what was among the most outside the box thinking that I’ve seen from corporate PRs when organizing a press trip, Norwegian decided to gather editors, writers and influencers of color for this trip up North to familiarize us with their flight itinerary to the Laplands and Kakslauttanen Artic Resort. Reindeer sleighing, Santa’s home, dog sledding, icefishing, snow-mobiling, Finnish spas and chasing the Northern Lights. We definitely turned this region of the Artic into a vibrant inkwell.

I can’t remember if I tried reindeer… I’m editing a video for you guys and you’ll find out there. But in the meantime check out my photo diary of my trip to Kakslauttanen Artic Resort with Norwegian.

WHEN TO GO

We went in April, and it was cold. Hey, it’s the Artic, however it became a running joke because when you asked a staff member, they were pumped about the warm weather, sunshine and the arrival of Spring. One of the days we were sledding through a blizzard…. Haha they’re just built differently. Like the huskies, some of our guides were genuinely sweating as they lead us through the resort, meanwhile I couldn’t feel my fingers. April’s a great time to go; the arrival of spring means longer hours of daylight. Don’t go too late in the month or you can miss the Northern Lights, but it’s just late enough in the season that you can comfortably stay out chasing them and partake in fun winter activities.

GATHER A CREW AND RENT A KELO-GLASS IGLO

Kakslauttanen is renowned for being the first to create the glass igloo concept. It’s actually genius. Up in the Artic Circle you can get 8 months of the Aurora Borealis but after 3 nights of being out hoping to see the Northern Lights, unfortunately we missed it due to weather conditions. In the middle of the night, while we were sleeping in the insulated igloo room, my eyes fluttered and I looked up and saw a brilliant green in the sky. “That’s it!” I told my cabin-mate Niki, the experience was almost otherworldly made even better by the fact that it came to me almost as in a dream. I didn’t get a great pic of the phenomenon but my girls GoYokoCoco did. Otherwise, the igloo cabins are also just a great place to wake up. Seeing the snow covering the trees while you’re snug in this wooden cabin is ultimate hygge. There’s even a mini sauna in the bathroom and I’d say the cabin comfortably sleeps about 4-6!

First time driving a snowmobile? Check! It was so fun and such a fun rush gliding through the woods for the snowmobile safari.

BE ONE WITH THE ANIMALS OF THE ARTIC

You could hear the playful howls of the huskies from miles away as we approached their kennels for husky safaris. I’ve always been a husky fan so it was incredible seeing these beautiful dogs in their element (see photos above). Again, my fingers were frozen as these pups dove in piles of snow because they were hot! The experience definitely furthered my love for huskies… but made me rethink the idea of having them in the city, seems kind of cruel now!

We also partook in a reindeer safari! Be careful, these mofos can kick up some snow. They didn’t fly though. Maybe that trick is reserved for Santa?

ICE-FISHING

This was a personal favorite of mine and I was the only one to catch a fish that day and apparently one of the firsts of the season. Our guide Aunti actually asked to see my bait because I had the secret. To tell you the truth, when I caught my fish, my camera was glitching and I was complaining and distracted. It was a little shocking to realize what the tug meant. We grilled up my little fish and had a delicious fish soup out on Lake Inari. It was so serene, peaceful. You’d spot the occasional cross country skiier but it was pretty much just us.

berry tea inside of a traditional Finnish Lavvu

TREAT YO’ SELF FINNISH SAUNA STYLE

There are 5 million inhabitants in Finland and 2 million saunas. It’s safe to say that to sauna is an authentic part of Finnish culture. Indulge in the tradition with a typical smoke sauna, complete with birch leaf stimulation. My favorite part is the ice plunge afterwards. I know it sounds crazy but you leave feeling invigorated and with your skin beyond taut. After a long day of sledding, fishing, and the safari, this was an incredible experience.

I think no matter what time of year you go to Kakslauttanen, you will fall in love with the Finnish Lapland’s natural beauty. Miles and miles of untouched forest and snow covered “Christmas trees.” I can’t imagine a better place for Santa to call home.

Thanks to Norwegian for sponsoring this once in a lifetime experience.

Perfect Stay Alsisar Haveli – Jaipur, India

India’s famed Pink City, Jaipur is as chaotic as it is beautiful. A feast and a work out of all five senses, exploring the city’s sites and navigating its traffic filled streets can be taxing. The oasis of hotel Alsisar Haveli was always a welcome treat when Michele and I returned from sight seeing. A stark contrast to the beautiful chaos right outside of its walls, this haveli is magical.  Birds chirping, the smell of jasmine in the air, the sun dancing through stained glass windows and reflecting off of jeweled mirrors. Alsisar Haveli beckons you to explore its property. But a gentle, passive exploration. Relaxing and refreshing. 

A beautiful representation of Rajput Indian architecture from the country’s legendary regal maharaja days in the wealthy city of Jaipur your stay at Alsisar Haveli gives you a glimpse into the luxury that is Jaipur.

The property was built in 1892 as a nobleman’s townhouse and is run by the descendants of the Maharaja Udaikaran of Amer and his Kachawa clan — they’ve refurbished many of their family’s old mansions (havelis) and palaces into a beautiful collection of heritage, luxury hotels.

A great night’s sleep in a four poster bed.

You want your hotel to be your home away from home when you travel. I’m privileged to be able to stay at lust-inspiring hotels that give me ultimate home decor vibes. I hope my travels inform my future home’s design aesthetic. Block prints of Rajput motifs cover the colorful walls and Mughal era architecture. Beautiful etch work, porticoes and archways pepper the halls and each of the 45-roooms is decorated uniquely. The colors of Alsisar Haveli are absolutely dazzling.

The property also has a restaurant and bar. Breakfast is served daily with both Western and delicious Rajput cuisine. Our stay at Alsisar Haveli was all too short but it’s definitely on our list for our next trip to Jaipur.

PHOTOS BY MICHELE SCAGLIONE & NNEYA RICHARDS

New Video! Checking In and Checking Out Alsisar Haveli in Jaipur

Hi Perfectionists! 

I’ve been in such a hole doing my taxes and prepping for Italy that I saved a draft on this blog post and forgot to hit publish!

Jaipur, India’s famed Pink City in the Rajasthan region. As beautiful as it is chaotic it was a magical sensory overload for Michele and I. To be candid, it also wasn’t always smooth sailing for me visiting the city, as I mentioned in a few Instagram posts.

Alsisar Haveli is without a doubt a serene oasis. To me, it became a refuge. A welcome home with a big luxurious hug. Check out my YouTube video of Michele and I checking in and checking out Alsisar Haveli!

The Real Green Book

I discussed the history and social context briefly around The Negro Motorist’s Green Book on my Instagram Stories “World News Wednesday” and in my last black friendly travel post. The film Green Book had a controversial Best Picture Oscar win but despite what you thought of the movie, I hope that it made you curious about the book that Viggo Mortensen’s character, Tony, was given by the record company: The Negro Motorist’s Green Book. This guide book, written by postal worker Victor Hugo Green in 1936 promised “vacation without aggravation” for black travelers. At the time, with the upward mobility of black people in the United States, and many being able to afford cars, and trips, they began to encounter the problem of “traveling while black.” Black motorists who drove nice cars sometimes went as far as to carry chauffeurs hats as a disguise for fear of harassment by law enforcement (has much changed?)! Often black people would pack food and even gasoline with them on their journey as many rest stops on the road did not serve them. And this wasn’t solely a Jim Crow South problem. There were tons of sundown towns in Illinois; Glendale and Culver City, California were as well. Green was from Harlem, NYC and originally the guide covered New York and the surrounding areas; there were several establishments in Harlem where black people were not allowed entrance. Motorists would spend hours trying to figure out where to sleep that evening and ensuring they did not enter sundown towns (towns where blacks were not allowed after dark). Also not featured in the film but an important aspect, the Negro Motorist’s Green Book highlighted black-owned businesses. The film gave a pretty narrow view of this, highlighting the white establishments as luxury while the black ones as run down and one-dimensional but this was far from the truth. There were the run down establishments but also the mid-range to quite comfortable.  The guide was published through the late 1960s. There were other black travel guides at the time but  the Green Book was definitely the most popular, reaching a circulation of 2 million by 1962. Vogue magazine’s 2017 circulation was 1,242,282.

Something that came up during my Instagram story that people responded to — and have in the past — is that I’ve never driven cross country in the US while I have in Italy. When people ask if me if I’m eager to do so, I’m conflicted. I am, but I do have some hesitation. Growing up black in America you get a little extra education. You know what sundown towns are, you know about the razing of Greenwood, Black Wall Street. Even if you’re so cushioned that you’d most likely never be near these places, or cross paths with these people, black parents feel like it’s their duty in raising a black child to make them aware of this history (and present). I remember a few years ago I was at an industry cocktail party and spoke to a brilliant woman that works in television production. American, her family was of Indian descent and her husband was white, Jewish American (FYI there were also Jewish travel guides in the 1930s). With my profession travel naturally came up and how I wanted to see more of the United States. We talked about the famed cross country road trip and a cool black woman hiker we both followed that just did the Appalachian trial. This well-travelled well educated woman then said to me, “that’s not for me though” and recounted driving down to Myrtle Beach. They stopped at a gas station and her husband asked her to stay in the car as he didn’t feel comfortable with her coming out in that place. They are an interracial couple, she’s brown, he’s protective of her as a woman, there were a lot of things at play here but traveling while brown is a real thing.

Today, politicians and television anchors speak of “terrorism” as though it is a new phenomenon to the United States. Terrorism is not new and to think so is a grievous slight to the nation’s native peoples, to its multitudes of immigrants, and to its legions of black Americans—all of whom have long been terrorized for calling America home. In fact, even before Route 66 was officially connected and enshrined, the roads that would come to form it linked one atrocity to the next.

Candacy Taylor, The Roots of Route 66

I came across an article on The Atlantic from 2016, The Roots of Route 66 that expresses my reservations about the famed cross country road trip. Black people were discouraged from doing parts of it initially. I can’t stress how good this article is. The author vividly (and briefly) recounts America’s terrorism history and why a book like the Green Book was necessary. Candacy Taylor takes you through the historical racial atrocities committed on Route 66 making that jingle “get your kicks on Route 66” seem like a warped joke. We’ve come a long way as a country, a lot of healing has been done but this in entrenched in America’s history and should be recognized. Perhaps it’s why so many of you even come to my Black-friendly travel blog post — that passed down generational trauma that says “I need this place to be vetted.” Or “people that look like me can’t afford to be explorers.”

I want my site to be a resource to you. I always have my spidey senses up when I travel and I am open and honest. We deserve to see the world too and I want to help you do it.

25 Girlfriend Getaways for Popsugar.com

How’s your 2019 going?

While you’re prioritizing self-care, time with your loved ones should be high on your list. I know, for me, there’s nothing like a girl’s night with my crew. Spicy margaritas, lots of wine, lots of laughs, advice, lots of shade. It’s such a cathartic experience. And when you get a whole vacation of it? Now that’s a treat!

That’s why I have compiled the ultimate list — 25, a whole TWENTY-FIVE getaways for you and your crew for Popsugar.com. Check it out now!

*Also for my readers overseas, I’m not sure why but Popsugar.co.uk does NOT show all 25 places on the list — they show only 8 and a random selection. If you have a VPN you can check out the article, in it’s entirety, as it’s meant to be seen on Popsugar.com. I hope you can, I worked pretty hard on this list for you guys and it’s frustrating that everything isn’t available for my international audience. Maybe, at a later date, when it’s been on Popsugar.com for quite some time I’ll repurpose the list here. In the meantime here are the places I listed and you’ll find out WHY on Popsugar.com