Harlem

Behind the Brand with Urban Peace Squad

"I don't believe you can go through adversity without believing in a greater power than yourself."

-Oprah Winfrey

Shea Zèphir, Founder of ART LIVING, Bre Scullark, Founder of Urban Peace Squad, & Mimi Woods, Mental Health Specialist at Urban Peace Squad.

Shea Zèphir, Founder of ART LIVING, Bre Scullark, Founder of Urban Peace Squad, & Mimi Woods, Mental Health Specialist at Urban Peace Squad.

In a world where celebrity, privacy, and fame are blurred lines of unethical marketing strategy click boosters, it is all too easy to become over exposed to the personal live of our favorite celebs. Somehow we actually believe we know them and their stories through the over saturated merciless lens of social media and the tabloids. What we think we know, what that celebrity choose to reveal and what is really happening will never be an authentic testimonial, which is why we at ART LIVING began the series, "Behind the Brand". To allow the artist to tell their story, their own way, and respectfully share their journey. Because it is personal, it is necessary, and most of all it is sacred. 

Edit wout logo 4.jpg

Our newest "Behind the Brand" episode is extra special feature because it reveals the stories of two Harlem native sister friends joining forces to heal the community one yoga workshop at a time. How do you heal urban communities when you have been broken yourself and have hit rock bottom? How do you heal others when you are still healing yourself? Where does one find the strength to rebuild, re-create, and share from a different space of love? Well, we sat down with model, entrepreneur, yogi, documentarian, and founder of Urban Peace Squad  Bre Scullark alongside mental health specialist, performing artist, and licensed social worker Mimi Woods to divulge into why Urban Peace Squad was created in the first place.

We we first introduced to the gorgeousness that is Bre Scullark on Cycle 5 of ANTM in 2003 almost 15 years ago. Since then life has taken her on many journeys and pathways throughout the unpredictable highs and lows in the entertainment industry. Along that journey, Bre was able to birth a new passion while attending rehab as she was introduced to yoga as a positive form of self-reflection and healing movement. Upon her completion of her rehab program, she moved back to her hometown of Harlem from LA, used an old job check that came through at the right time to rent a dance studio to teach community classes and what began as her form of personal healing became a community mission and workshop program called Urban Peace Squad.

Urban Peace Squad - a donation based peace workshop providing live music, yoga, meditation, and open discussion in underserved communities. Focused on a supportive environment for mental wellness Urban Peace Squad encourages self-acceptance, self-healing, and self-discovery to urban communities with the least access to taught self-empowerment practices.

MODEL . ENTREPRENEUR . YOGI . COMMUNITY ACTIVIST . DOCUMENTARIAN 

-Bre Scullark

Edit wout logo 2.jpg

ART LIVING: "Why Urban Peace Squad? Why Yoga? Why Urban Communities?"

Bre: "I wanted to create an organization that supported prisoners the way they had access to healing tools on the inside, I wanted to create that environment for them outside when they came home."

ART LIVING: "Mimi, what about for you?"

Edit wout logo 7.jpg

Mimi: "I chose to be apart of the movement because it was very much aligned with the work I do in my career every day. Bre was really passionate about bringing peace to trauma infested communities and we both live in the same complex across from the projects. And it was about, how can we have all of this knowledge on the other side of the street and not share it with the community. So I was really passionate about her movement of bringing peace, of bringing yoga, talking about mental health in the community because that's the biggest issue we have is NOT talking about mental health, NOT talking about how we are feeling and I knew that by joining this movement, it would increase that awareness and definitely get folks talking, which is why I joined."

ART LVING: "I think its so important to examine our WHY purpose when we commit ourselves to the community for healing. I believe setting that intention and being clear about the goal is why becomes that invisible thread of unbroken communication and education we need so much within the Black communities. Buttttt its not all serious with stats and numbers, so to switch gears a bit, what are some of cool things about Urban Peace Squad that makes its workshops so unique?"

Everyone is going through something, has been going through something, or will go through something.

-Mimi Woods

Mimi: "I think one of the coolest things about Urban Peace Squad is that you initially you see this beautiful familiar face and you think we are going to talk about beauty and ten she gets you like... nahhhhh, we're here to talk about PEACE! and you begin hitting people at the core and you then began creating a space where people can be open and candid. So the response has been overwhelming and I think is has been overwhelming because you realize everybody has a story. Everyone is going through something, has been going through something, or will go through something.

And its so interesting in how similar we are. We did a live instagram this summer and the direct feedback was amazing because people we asking, "When is the next one?" and "Where are you guys doing this?" So you realize, "WOW" there is a real need for this and more importantly anyone can create this type of space within their own communities and within their homes to have these conversations. And really, that is what we are doing. We are pushing the envelope on conversation where ever we show up."


Bre: "When I give eye contact, when I give hugs, when I give touch all those things matter and I have to literally say to myself sometimes that, "I am not alone on any island. if it matters to me, then I know it matters to someone else...to be seen and to receive. The importance of really asking, "How was your day?" or "How can I support you?" and realize that in those moments and when asked those questions you are not alone. That is really what my workshop is all about because that is where the healing process begins. Honestly, it just starts with saying, "You are not alone." 

I don't think there would be a community called "Urban Peace Squad" if we didn't love on each other and acknowledge the presence of each other while we are there."

ART LIVING: "Why is it so important to not only give back, but to directly be hands within our own communities?"

MENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST . PERFORMING ARTIST .  EDUCATOR . COMMUNITY ACTIVIST

-Mimi Woods

Edit wout logo 12.jpg

Mimi: "So, I am a licensed social worker and like I said before, Urban Peace Squad is aligned with the work I do daily. I work with incarcerated youth. Bre mentioned visibility and that's important because people want to be seen and people want to know that you see them. Even when my students say something to me on Monday I am following back up with them on Thursday, because I want them to know I am paying attention. I believe Dr. Cornell West said it best, hopefully I am quoting this as the right quote but I believe it goes like, "You can't lead the people if you don't know the people. And I think its important that we are so hands on. Which is why we say, "We are in the trenches." I can't lead you if I don't know you. I am really big on knowing your name and face, making eye contact, getting to know your story, being there when you are happy and when you are sad. That is the work we do and what we are passionate about." 

ART LIVING: How do you guys center yourselves to get back you your happy in the midst of the work you do?

Mimi: "I started reading again, I started writing in my journal again, and really I am just marching to my own beat. If I want to put on my oils that day then I just go with that you know. I've just been pulling from my basket full of goodies when I need to."

ART LIVING: "What is your wish for the future of the urban community?"

Bre: "I wish for peace. I wish Black men so much peace and internal peace. Because I see them struggle a lot within themselves and it actually speaks symbolic to what is going on with them. I wish them a journey back to self. I really do. I wish depression was talked about more with men and wasn't seen as a weakness. I wish suicide was talked about more in urban communities especially with men. And I wish they let this burden go that they have to do everything and allow us women to be partners...sisters, wives, aunts, mother's whatever. That is my wish a better space for men to bloom because they deserve to bloom too. Men deserve flowers too.

ART LIVING: Ladies this was so, so, good. Thank you for all that you do!

 

Checkout our exclusive photos from the interview and of us pretty brown girls getting real out yoga and community healing. 


Checkout our *BONUS footage of this interview and founder Shea Zèphir getting in on Bre's impromptu private yoga session at the conclusion of the interview.  

 

All photos and video have been captured and edited by J. Mandela of www.lostartbk.com media and production company.

25 Years of Iconic Hip-Hop Fashion with 5001 FLAVORS

"It's business and pleasure, family and friends... it really doesn't feel like work at all."

- Shay Wood, Founder/Co- Owner of Harlem Haberdashery & 5001 FLAVORS

The First Family of Fashion...

The First Family of Fashion...

By now if you haven't heard of Harlem Haberdashery the Harlem family responsible for styling hip-hop and entertainment royalty for the last 25 years, you must be on a little media/internet fast, but we won't hold it against you. They are the veteran creatives behind outfitting everyone from Tupac to Lebron James and even Elmo.

Last week we headed over to the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem to check out their annual Uptown Bounce: I Love the 90's free block party featuring 5001 FLAVORS of Harlem Haberdashery. Displaying their most iconic fashion garments over the last 25 years within the hip-hop industry we headed over for some fashion history and one hell of a good times capturing this latest "Inside the Cool" exclusive.

 

"When the love and influence of the culture overrides that traditional fashion degree..."

-Shea Zèphir, Founder/Creative Dir. of ART LIVING 
 
Tupac - 5001 FLAVORS.jpg

Tupac Shakur

Custom designs by 5001 FLAVORS for Tupac in the movie "Above the Rim"

The 5001 FLAVORS spark began in the early 90's with one of their first clients, charming rapper Heavy D aka The Overweight Lover. As fate would have it Heavy D's cool old school charm and unapologetic fashion swagger turned heads of fellow industry talents who swarmed 5001 FLAVORS for their custom design. It was the traditional word of mouth referrals that increased the industry demand for 5001 FLAVORS as Heavy D sported their designs working as an executive at Uptown Records. The in-house label began dressing artists at Uptown and Bad Boy Records evolving beyond the hip-hop circuit customizing garments for A-list celebs including Kanye West, Will Smith, Al Sharpton, and a host of others within the entertainment industry.

IMG_1777.jpg

2016’s Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour

5001 FLAVORS custom Bad Boy team attire

5001 FLAVORS operates and had always thrived as legit family business, in fact all members of their family are involved in all facets of their businesses manifesting from custom-made apparel company to a retail boutique Harlem Haberdashery housing local designers and exclusive ready-to-wear pieces by 5001 FLAVORS. So how does a designer from Harlem without a fashion degree pull inspiration to design? Designer, Guy Wood creates some of the boldest, most colorful, layered garments from the inspirations of his family genetics, as his mother was a seamstress who made his clothes as a kid. Enamored by tailored clothing worn by icons like Harry Belafonte, Guy has a special love for large cuffs and extravagant button down shirts with bold color.  He wore his moms designs and garnered the reputation of being the cool kid with a mature sense of some serious fashion swag throughout Harlem. The other inspirations that influenced 5001 FLAVORS designs were the historical and fashionable periods of Harlem.  The bold architecture of design within their garments, alongside exotic fabrics, and surprise artistic elements embedded within their custom designs, are a tribute to Harlem's past with the unapologetic creativity of present day ideas. In the words of Jay Z, "the essence of our creativity is that we borrow from our ancestors. We are all vessels right? We're whistles and the wind go through us, we make the noise.   Harlem natives have always held high esteem to one's personal style of dress, it's a special pride that resonates deeply within the neighborhood like the food and music of New Orleans and Chicago, like the influences of Philadelphia and DC. Much like any other place in the world Harlem takes is style of dress personal, besides they don't call Harlem the "Mecca of Fashion" for nothing. 

 

Check out the gallery below for a little throwback hip-hop fashion history of 5001 FLAVORS unforgettable designs

Inside the Cool with Harlem Haberdashery's 2017 Annual Masquerade Ball

Guy & Sharene Wood with Guests

Guy & Sharene Wood with Guests

Last month Harlem Haberdashery held its 4th annual Masquerade Ball celebrating the fearless trailblazers of Harlem making big community change  The stylish affair included curated cocktail food stations featuring locally based restaurants such as Row House, Harlem Shake, Lolo Seafood Shack, as well as an exclusive open spirit bar. Guests' illuminated the Harlem Hospital Pavilion donned in feathered bejeweled masks' as they grooved to live music by the Rakiem Walker Project and DJ Olivia Dope that excited the atmosphere and turned up the mood for the evening.

DJ Olivia Dope

DJ Olivia Dope

Hosted by "La Loca" (Sharon Montero) of Radio 103.9 FM, the award-winning bespoke boutique infused high fashion and philanthropy as they honored the brightest trailblazers of Harlem while raising money for the Harlem hospital Center. This year's honorees included: Todd Stevens of Douglas Elliman Real Estate for Man of the Year, Dominique Jones of Harlem Boys & Girls Club for Woman of the Year, Alison Desir of Harlem Run for Trailblazer of the Year, and Larry Scott Blackmon of Fresh Direct for the Harlem Legacy Award

Harlem Haberdashery has sustained its success by staying rooted in its surrounding community of Harlem. Sitting on the sacred soil of the former home of Malcolm X in the heart of Harlem with over 20 years of industry experience designing custom-made apparel for exclusive clientele under 5001 Flavors ,the birth of its retail store Harlem Haberdashery is an ode to the rich history of Harlem while elevating the community by selling the garments of emerging local designers. Earning the name of the fashion Mecca of Harlem the family run business is the birth child of wife and husband duo Guy and Sharene Wood. You have to be a special gift rooted in community consciousness to be able to serve as a successful business both fashion and philanthropy during the time of saturated gentrification. It is no secret that Harlem Haberdashery is way more than a retail boutique, as they have mastered the delicate balance between staying true to Harlem's vibrant yet unapologetic history of fashion, art, and culture, all the while sustaining an authentic brand that replenishes the community. 

Check out our photo gallery below of the best moments of the night


Check out our exclusive #INSIDETHECOOL highlight video of all the fun!

All photography by Amir Chase of www.lostartbk.com

Art Living NYFW2016 with Harlem's Fashion Row 2016

Harlem's Fashion Row hosted its 9th annual style awards and fashion presentation sponsored by Covergirl and Motions last Thursday evening at Pier 59 Studios.

Founded by Brandice Daniel, Harlem's Fashion Row began as a movement to provide industry access, coaching, and financial support for designers of color to experience fair and equal access opportunities to sustain their businesses beyond the runway. Before "diversity" became the buzzword throughout the fashion industry, HFR was already championing designers of color underrepresented in the showrooms and retail space, with success stories like Omar Salam of Sukeina and Kimberly Goldson of Project Runway Season 7.

Brandice's relentless vigor for maneuvering designers of color from cutting and stitching in their living rooms to selling in showrooms and retails stores with her platform HFR has only solidified her national influence as a NYFW staple if you want to experience the collections of emerging designers of color.  It's no wonder why A list Black celebrities, fashion elite, cultural leaders, and everyday enthusiasts flock over to the must-see fashion presentation by cool creative entrepreneurs too often passed over within the mainstream fashion industry. 

Naturi Naughton, Ty Hunter, and Emil Wilbekin were amongst the fellow guests of tastemakers, entertainers, and cultural influencers on the front row supporting the honorees of the night that included which included:

 

Editor of the Year: Elaine Welteroth


When your resume experience journeys back to being the Style and Beauty editor at Ebony magazine from 2008 to 2011 and advanced to Glamour magazine from Beauty writer to Senior Beauty Editor from 2011 to 2012 all under the age of 30, it was abundantly clear why HFR celebrated this Black Girl Magic with the Editor of the Year Award. 

Harriet Cole, former fashion director, and editor, now lifestylist presented Elaine with her award recollecting the most memorable moments of their relationship over the years as colleagues. If you've followed Elaine's journey to becoming Teen Vogue's first Black Editor and the youngest person to appointed to the title of Editor-in-chief in Conde Nast history, you know that Elaine is a fearless trailblazer in her industry.  Beautiful, stylish, and innovative Elaine has never shied away from new ideas, progressive social media interaction and authenticity.

The Trailblazer: Kyle Hagler


imageedit_4_6472612697.jpg

You can not say Joan Smalls, Liya Kebede, and Hilary Rhoda without saying Kyle Hagler. So who is Kyle Hager? The man responsible for launching the million dollar careers of some of the world's biggest Supermodels. With a 17-year track record as Senior manager at IMG Models and managing his new position as President of Next Model Managment, Kyle Hager knows how to coif a brand to be around for a lifetime. He is the advocate for models that do not fit the norm of industry categories with their look. Hagler is the force behind breaking the barriers of central casting and expanding the boundaries of beauty as the industry knows it. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, model, and client Joan Smalls said, " Mr. Hager said I want brands to see you as multidimensional. You're Black and Latin. That solidified it. He just gave me hope to believe in myself and go for it no matter what. For a Latina, that's so relieving."

It is because of creative change makers like Kyle Hagler that models of color can navigate the fickle fashion industry and challenge the entire industry to expand is castings and representations from the stylist to the business company CEO's

 

Stylist of the Year: Eric Archbald


Best known for being the lead stylist to award-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, Eric Archibald is known within the industry as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to red carpet fashion style. Eric always knew he wanted to be a stylist as a little boy in the Caribbean, but when he got his first break in 1994 he ran with his opportunity and never looked back. Most recently, he styled the honorees of the VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens and Beyonce's internationally record breaking album "Lemonade".  Eric's organic ability to merge classic edge with chic sexiness is what makes his relationship with music and fashion so intrinsic. 

Icon 360 Award: Swizz Beatz


We gotta support each other more. We all are busy but if Tom Ford calls all of a sudden we make it work. I had to be here like it was Tom Ford when I got this call.

In recognition of his diverse talent and contributions to the entertainment industry with his music and astounding art expression Grammy award-winning, super producer Kasseem Dean, aka SWIZZ BEATZ,was the wildcard surprise for the night as the recipient of the Icon 360 Award. Since 1994 the Bronx native has been cranking out chart-topping singles and albums for the biggest superstars and entertainers to date. In 2015, Swizz released the pre-launch of The Dean Collection a personally curated art fair/ mobile gallery of the most renowned emerging global artist hot on the scene right now. An avid art collector, Swizz has always done great work within the art community, but as with many entertainment industries, he also saw the imbalances of the art system which propelled him to do more than just sign over a check. His creativity has opened doors for other passions such as philanthropy through the arts, education, and healthcare. Swizz humbly accepted his award and left these wise words with the audience,"We gotta support each other more. We all are busy but if Tom Ford calls all of a sudden we make it work. I had to be here like it was Tom Ford when I got this call."

After the awards and acceptance speeches, the fashion show began with HFR's 2016 Designers presentation. Creative Director Keith Campbell was the architect behind the edgy fierce hair looks for each designer. From chic loose ended ponytails to gold wire afros and gleaming  glitter roots, this season looks were about personalized artful expression.

Terese Brown: Terese Sydonna

Radhika Perera-Hernandez: Lois London

 

Kahindo Mateene: Kahindo

 

Jakai Franks: JRU

All photos were sourced from Getty Images from the following photographers:

Johnny Nunez, Arun Nevader, and Noam Galai