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Briahna Gatlin

D-WIN Tiara “Love” Verse



77three Magazine Issue Number Two: Spring 2013 -March

Jakina ado Photography Jakina Hill: Founder/Editor

Jakina is a proud Chicago born and raised, Southern Illinois University Alum, photographer, designer, writer and storyteller with dreams of quitting her day job. She considers herself to be just your average Chicago hood chick. Twitter:@JakinaAdo

Senyo Twilight: Writer

Senyo Twilight is a contributor hailing from the suburbs of Chicago via Ghana, West Africa. He spends the bulk of his free time challenging himself with zany science projects and writing poetry. Most of all he considers himself a servant, volunteering his time to several “go green” initiatives and teaching elementary school. Of all his work, he takes the most pride in grooming his son for impending greatness. Twitter: @Senyo_Twilight

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By keeping his head in the game


prepares for the victory.

There is a cool and quiet confidence that swirls around rapper Darius “D-Win” Winfield. Though he puts on flashy, label heavy looks and hangs with all the right people, its that unassuming demeanor and almost effortless talent that makes the louder statement. Just over a year ago the 23-year-old Indianapolis, Indiana native released his first mixtape. “Ode to Debonair,” is an ambitious contradiction of boastful and humble songs with a slightly soulful underlying feel. Since the release of “Ode to Debonair” D-Win has gotten the attention of XXL Magazine, performed at clubs, and is now putting the finishing touches on his next mixtape “D Always Wins,” due out in April 2013.

Interview and Photos by Jakina Hill

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So you moved here to do music, but you went to school for fashion, how did that happen? It was a get-away, I came to visit a friend who I grew up with. We just came up here to visit and then we just kept coming up here. I knew him and I knew his friends so after that I was like man, I’m trying to get out of Indianapolis, Its time to dip and Chicago is the place to be, so I’m like shoot I might as well get into school, so I got into school. And then I just did both. I used school as a way to live here, have housing, network, and meet people. I had just started to do music to, right when I moved here. But was it a thought all along to do music before you came to Chicago? Not really, towards my last year in high school that’s when I decided. I used to play basketball. I was like man I’m not going to the NBA. So the last year in high school that’s when I felt like I could really do it. Were you writing all along? I could rap, like when I was small, when I was a kid and stuff but just used to play around with it, just mess around and then one time, we were recording, this was like 7th grade or something like that and we recorded it and it came out really good. That’s how I figured out I could rap. We had all did it, mines was the only good one. So I was like dang, I could probably really do this. Oh, really so you mostly free styled then? Back then yea, it was free styles and then I got around some people and they really taught me how to structure songs, I started recording in studios, start learning things and started doing shows and stuff Ode to Debonair came out in? 2011, 11.11.11 How has the buzz been? The buzz has been great cause I’ve been doing shows to and getting the photo shoots going and I know the way I dress keeps the buzz going, I’m always wearing some crazy stuff, it gets people talking but uh its going good, when I put out this video for More Gold it got going, back going. I can see the relationship but was just wondering, when I see the way you look its so much more personal I think, it looks like

an image, like I’m putting on but its still clearly you. For me you stand out as the person who put it together, I don’t know if that’s how it really goes but that’s what it looks like. Yea, yea that’s what it is. Just got to have a lot confidence with people looking at you like you crazy, its blend in or stand out, so I try to stand out. Do you make clothes? Yea, I learned how to sew in school. How did you start at Solemates (now Sir&Madame) is that how you started putting yourself in certain circles? It actually is. I started working there back in 2006. 2007/2006 and just being around Brian and Autumn will make you a better person. They influenced me a lot in terms of style. I learned a lot from Brian, just on the sneaker side, all the blogs, that’s when like internet started taking off and all the blogs and he put me up on a lot of artist. How did the XXL thing come about? That was random, they just emailed me and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it and I was like yea! It’s a good look, cause they got this thing called The Break and it’s when they feature up and coming artists. I had been emailing them trying to figure out how I can get on The Break. I guess my email got in the system and they hit me up. Is there anything else that you’d like to talk about or that you want to make sure is out there? “D Always Wins” mixtape definitely gone be out in the spring like March or April and I got a video for a song called ‘Open.’ We just shot it. What is Open about? Open is just a chill laid-back song. Its just about not being close minded, being open, having an open mind, that’s pretty much what its about. JH

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Briahna Gatlin

Entrepreneur, pr maven, Chicago Devotee By Senyo Ador

Photos by Jakina Hill

I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations. I have built my own factory on my own ground. - Madame CJ Walker, first Black female millionaire


nd so the story goes for the daring few that decide to leap from punch clock employee to freedom fighting entrepreneur. Black history denotes that even as far back as into Madame CJ Walker’s era in the early 1900s, there came a time in which one had to transition from scaling someone else’s ladder to erecting her own to taste the freedom of self-determination. For young Black women the difficulties have been well documented. Briahna Gatlin is not blind to the cautions signs warding contenders off the career path of Chicago’s bleak music scene. It’s just that her passion to create a lane for herself in the music business outweighed the sirens of doubt around her. Her experience from music journalism to artist relations and promotions only worked 6 Spring 2013

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to strengthen her resolve in knowing what her clients required from her as a publicist. All her efforts culminated in Swank Publishing, a formidable public relations and brand management entity of which Gatlin is the founder. But there’s no way around it, a career in Chicago’s music business is a steep climb. The PR firms are always the first blamed and on cleanup crew for an artist’s faux pas. They are always the last thanked for the sales and plaques. That is the nature of the beast. It’s a field that asks you to give and give, and maybe if you are one of the lucky ones, it just might consider giving back. Gatlin formed Swank Publishing as the exception. She is dead set on standing victorious over the history of Chicago’s pitfalls by building a legacy of quality service and reciprocity. Being hands on is

Not one to hang her hat on her latest accomplishment, Gatlin came back from London energized and began moving rather quickly through the music media scene in Chicago. She wrote for New Expression, a high school publication that was housed in the Columbia College – Chicago. They made her part of the board and she continued as an editor and contributor. When it was time to choose a school Columbia College became the obvious choice. And at Columbia it was more of the same.

Briahna at her west side office with her staff, Left:Terrance Randell and Right: Jon Johnson.

something Gatlin learned early on. “I was on the school paper staff in high school at Providence St. Mel. That’s when I began doing layouts and I loved it,” Gatlin says. There was a selection process in the program for a student to go overseas to study journalism, for which Gatlin 8 Spring 2013

was selected. She was able to study journalism at storied Oxford University in London, which led to an invite to South Africa to cover an event with Nelson Mandela - where she ended up meeting President Mandela himself. She was only a junior at Providence St. Mel at the time.

“I did my first and

only cover story for a magazine called the Foundation, which is still around today. My story was on a dude named Justo, the guy who started The Mixtape Awards. He got in a huge car accident shortly after and it became such a big deal.” Gatlin also wrote for The Source for five

years, notably reviewing Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool and Malik Yusef’s The Great Chicago Fire. She continues to foster her relationship with the industry elites she encountered through the powerhouse magazine until today for her clients benefit.

asked to Gatlin is, Why stay in Chicago?

“There’s something that’s keeping me here. I’m one of those people that pay’s attention to signs. A lot of the industry people that I am close with encourage “I’m probably the only firm in Chicago, me to stay here. I do think about quitting on the music side, that has had breakout and leaving at least one of a month. It’s part of being in the music business. artists that got signed. We had GLC You have to have a huge backbone to early, even though he did kind of have a situation, running around with Kanye, even exist in this shit. So I look at it the same way the same way I looked at the and also YP when he first started out.” journalism. It’s like if I’m not here, then who’s gonna be here.” Working her way up humbly through the print media world, Gatlin quickly It’s about more than just signs. Swank evolved into one of Chicago’s media PR is becoming something of a street mavens. In doing so, she has broken fresh ground with her company, Swank lamp for the industry, shedding light on PR and is now providing her services to the road and the shoulder of the city’s mean streets. As long as Swank PR The Shrine Chicago, a major nightclub keeps them on, there’ll always be light and concert venue. for Chicago’s music scene. SA

“I do think about quitting and leaving

at least once a month. It’s part of being in the music business.

Gatlin is unassuming, acknowledging her accomplishments are naught unless she is able to pass the baton. In less than a year of working at Swank, Events Manager Terrance Randell was promoted to partner. “She is actually very passionate about her business and the people that work with her and she is vocal about protecting those people,” Randell says. With a dismal music infrastructure, undesirable winters and mounting shooting statistics the question most Spring 2013 9


he desire for more and better is what first lead fashion designer Tiara Verse from a complacent situation at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to Chicago’s Institute for Art and Design. Back in her hometown of Chicago Verse was newly inspired and challenged at IADT where she started over and graduated from. Less than five years later that old feeling of complacency is pushing her yet again, this time from evening wear to ready-to-wear. A shift the designer hopes make her already rising star pick up the pace.

As much as she loves a good gown, next up for the designer is wearing more of her own pieces, which is something she hasn’t been able to do. “It’s not like I can wear an evening gown to the grocery store” Verse jokes. Building her brand and becoming the face of it is what she hopes focusing on ready-to-wear will help her accomplish. “This year that’s definitely something that I’m looking forward to, is just making sure that I am my brand and that I’m wearing it.” JH

The 28-year-old South-Sider got her first taste of design at Gage Park High School as a student, selling prom dress sketches. The feeling she got from seeing her classmates wearing her designs took her from playing with the idea of being a carpenter to solidifying her choice to major in Fashion Design when she headed off to college. Since 2008 Verse’s label ‘Love Verse’ has been featured in trunk shows and three years in a row at the Dangerous Curves Ahead fashion show, which she will be showcasing her work in yet again this year on May 4, 2013. The founder of Dangerous Curves Ahead fashion show, stylist Tamika Martell-Price has become a good friend and envisions a great many things for the future of Love Verse including styling her clients in it. “Her last collection, I would say it was the biggest hit of Dangerous Curves Ahead last year, she really knows how to walk that line of feminine and sexy so its not to over the top and its not to girlie at all,” Price said.

Designer Tiara Monique Verse weaves a new future for the Love Verse label. Story and Photos by Jakina Hill

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Verse names designers like Tracy Reese and Michael Kors as inspirations for their ability to recreate timeless pieces. When it comes to her own style, Verse started as more sophisticated but her intentions are always to cater to all women. “ I definitely want to embrace the sexy,” Verse said while laughing, “something every woman can wear, or majority of women can wear, and feel sexy in no matter what, feel beautiful in, on a day to day basis.” Spring 2013 11

Waiting for Spring

Photography and Styling: Jakina Hill Hair and Make-up Keisha Michelle Model: Ciara Banks

Top: Love Verse (msrp 60.00) Skirt: Love Verse (msrp 80.00) Shoes: Steve Madden (msrp 90.00)

Dress: Collective Concepts (msrp 50.00) Faux Fur Vest: Hot Kiss (msrp 60.00) Shoes: Steve Madden (msrp 89.95) 12 Spring 2013

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Dress: Charlie jade (mrsp 100.00) Location: Chicago, south loop

Blouse with belt: Unicite (msrp 30.00) Socks: Urania (msrp 20.00) Earrings: models own

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77three Spring 2013