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September 2019 | Issue 001

CHRAKTR

“I AM FEMME.”

PORSHA KEY GOOD MENTAL HEALTH MENTAL HEALTH IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY

TREND SETTERS A LOOK INTO SWINSUIT SEASON WITH ST. LOUIS DESIGNER


CHRAKTR

Magazine

Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Jones Assistant Editor M a r s h a n a h Ta y l o r Art Director Patrice R i l e y Contributors Brittany C oleman Q u r an Mu ham ma d Mon i qu e Hu r s t Photographers Adrienne Jones Lawrson Pinson Mu z am m i l S o or ma ay Prince Akachi Daniel Fazio Drone Operator Nate Patton

Cover photography by Adrienne “AK� Jones pictured: Porsha Key Visit us on Facebook and Instagram @chraktrmag to learn more about the creatives in this issue

CHRAKTR Magazine is a digital media platform created to illuminate the true intellectual & moral qualities distinctive to creative minds. Our original photographic & video works, accompanied by journalism & creative writing, aims to cover the natural and sharpened enlightenment of people of color through our eyes. As an independent media source, we hope to ignite a continuous fire providing for and by people of color, for the common purpose to establish a conscious, more intuitive platform.


What’s Inside... 4

Meet The Contributors

6

Model Alert:Cerra J.

8

Ask Mo

12

“Black Love” Prose

14

Moni Christo Collection

20

Local Business

22

Model Alert: Bree H.

27

“I Am Femme” Cover story

37

“Flashes” by Brittany Coleman


Adrienne Q. K. Jones is the creator and Editor-

in-Chief of CHRAKTR Magazine as well as a photographer and entrepreneur. From the west suburbs of Chicago, Jones began her photography endeavors shortly after graduating with her B.A. in Cinema & Photography. Although the journey has had many twists and turns, she became extremely proud of being able to build a foundation from the ground up for current and future creatives to have a place to showcase their true character and, of course, their masterpieces.

Marshanah R. Taylor is the Assistant Editor of

CHRAKTR Magazine and a proud otaku, always spreading black girl magic wherever she goes. After serving as the Junior Editor of a student literary and arts magazine during her senior year of high school, she has since known that the publishing world is where she belongs. When she’s not editing manuscripts or studying for exams, she spends her free time collecting vinyl records, watching either kdramas or period dramas, and reading YA Fiction. Currently working towards obtaining a BFA in Design, Marshanah daydreams of becoming a famous author and cover designer for one of the top 5 trade book publishers.

Patrice Riley is the Art Director of CHRAKTR

and a graphic designer, giving excellent direction when it comes to creativity and design. Her fashion sense is quite unique, fresh, and impeccable while bringing over 5 years of experience to our round table as well as starting her own design firm now in Dallas, Texas.


Quran Muhammad is an entrepreneur and

contributor. A devoted man of Faith, he has written a creative piece depicting his perspective on black love. An Arizona native, Muhammad plans to expand and share his knowledge with us and our readers as he continues his journey down the spiritual path.

Monique Hurst is CHRAKTR Magazine’s

trusted advice guru by day and a brilliant nanny in the greater Atlanta, GA region by night. Delivering a word of advice as strong medicine with no chaser can be tough, but this South Side Chicago native is just the person to do it! Monique has given intuitive advice within her circle of friends for years and now has broadened her talents to you, our readers. So sit back and relax as she spills the tea, laying out sound words of wisdom to live by.

Brittany Coleman is a contributor and writer

for CHRAKTR Magazine with an ezxtensive background in journalism. With her knowledge about travel and so much more, we look forward to seeing amazing works from her in the future and hope you will too. We couldn’t have done it without you, girl!


“I love showing other women that being a model doesn’t mean you have to be a size zero. We come in all shapes and sizes and should embrace that.”

Designer: Moni Christo Clothing Brand: @monichristocollection Model: Cearra Jenkins Makeup Artist: @ask.diamond Hair: @honeyhairco (See page 14)


CEARRA J


ADVICE

Ask Mo... by Monique Hurst

Q

. How long should you date someone before deciding to move in together?

I

’d say there’s no timeline for when you and your partner should move in together. I do, however, feel like that is something that should be discussed at length before doing so. Believe me, living with your boyfriend or girlfriend is no joke, ive done it and it was a wild 2 years. Its as close as you’ll get to experiencing life as a married couple without actually being married. That being said, here are a few major keys that I think you and your significant other should consider before moving in together: Who’s paying the bills? Back in the day, there was no question as to who would be paying the bills because the man was always deemed the breadwinner. Today, things are a lot different; couples are establishing their own non traditional relationships and their individual gender roles within them. Figure out how the bills will be paid whether its being split 50/50, (i.e. one person paying majority, each person paying a specific bill). Another important note is to establish whose name will be on the lease and what the protocol should be if you two decide to break up. Who stays and who goes? Who gets what? I know no one

wants to plan for a breakup but sh*t happens and you have to be smart about this and plan accordingly. That way you have an idea of what to do should you ever get in that situation. Hopefully it won’t come to this, but its better to figure this out BEFORE moving in together; it’ll save you from an argument later on. If your partner watches a show without you that you both started watching together do you break up with them right away? Or do you give them a proper 30 days notice because the relationship is over? These are things you need to decide.


even think about before living with a person. Maintaining your own individuality whilst cohabitating with your partner can sometimes be challenging. I used to find myself boo’d up on the couch watching netflix every single weekend. It wasn’t until after several weeks had passed that I realized I hadn’t seen my family or friends in a while, despite living in the same city as them. It’s easy to get wrapped up in one another, but it’s important to not let go of yourself completely. On the flipside, sometimes you will get on each others nerves, its inevitable especially when you’re spending so much time with a person. give each other space as needed but don’t get too comfortable in that space to where your shutting each other out. My rule was everything we argued about that day was put on pause when it was time to go to bed. I may be pissed but you gone get in this bed with me so I can have a good night’s rest and I’ll finish being mad in the morning lol. But seriously, come up with a plan that best suits your needs.

Make sure that your communication, trust and overall respect for each other is on point prior to living together. It may seem like a fun and exciting idea to move in with your guy or girl(and it is) but it is also HARD work. You never know how much you don’t know about a person until you move in with them. Are they messy? Do they take off their clothes and leave them on the floor instead of in the hamper? What’s their taste in decor like? Over the top or minimalistic? Do they cook and leave the dishes in the sink? Do they have a weird bedtime routine? These are all small things that you’d never

Ladies hide your socks, men hide your hoodies cause it’ll be some stealing going on up in there! All in all, you’ve got to do what feels right for your relationship and there is no timeline for that. If you think moving in is the next step then discuss it thoroughly with each other first before making any rash decisions. Sometimes it’ll work out and sometimes it won’t but that is your lesson to be learned and your journey to be had. Do you boo.


STEVE N. CLAIR

“MILE HYY CLUB”

PRODUCED BY AUDIO DOPE


CONSCIOUS FEST 2019 Steve N’ Clair [pictured on the left], a native St. Louis Recording Artist, along with Cue Coldblooded of The Domino Effect, graced the stage at this year’s Concious Fest. Many of the festival’s supporters, vendors and other performers were greeted with the midwestern humid air as they enjoyed the interactive events that occured.


Black Love By Quran Muhammad The black man and woman have been together since the beginning of time itself. It is my belief that before God; the creator and the author of beauty created anything else, he created a companion, a being that would love him unconditionally while simultaneously challenging him to create and expand himself and his universe. He deposited into that companion a womb, which just like himself has the power to create life. Together this beautiful, majestic like duo created all that we have the privilege of being born in to this world to enjoy. They are responsible for the very air we breathe, the sun that compliments and feeds our melanin enriched skin,

the moon which reflects the sun and lights up the night’s sky so that even in darkness we are able to make a way for ourselves. And of course, the home of the black man and woman, planet Earth. The foundation of these magnificent creations is Love. For Love is the driving force behind everything in existence. Unfortunately, nowadays Love is a term that is being loosely thrown around. It is important that when using a word with this much power and magnitude, we have actions that prove, express and show clearly the love we profess to have for one another. Naturally we are a people who are deeply rooted in ove for ourselves and each other but throughout the course of our history significant events have altered or tainted our characteristics and


we needed in order to grow, to develop, to mature in to a man and woman. Minister Farrakhan also gave some incitement in terms of marriage he said “In the word marriage, is the word unity or union you are not uniting bodies you should be uniting two minds, two spirits that have agreed to be as one. If the two minds are united by this degree called love, then the bodies are in rapture to fertilize the mind! The being together of two bodies only serves to heighten!” When a man marries a woman and they are enjoined mentally, when they come together there is absolutely life passing from one to the other! This physical act that we call “love” is really for the purpose of strengthening and rejuvenating the mind of the two involved. Today we take this physical embrace for granted, it has become a cheap heinous act that often intentionally degrades the woman involved while the man feels as if he “completed the mission” so to say. This act that we are partaking in we are afraid to mention gods name over it. God himself is the author of it and should be included in it. Why are we afraid to include god in the act? With him the act approaches the divine beauty for which it was ordained. Life is begun with an act of love; this physical act of love is supposed to be the highest expression of a spiritual bond.

the way we understand love. I would like to quote the Honorable Mini ter Louis Farrakhan, who is the national representative of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. The minister said “Any person that has not really, and genuinely experienced love has not really experienced life. For to live is to love and love is life. You are not alive spiritually and mentally until love comes in to your life.” We can never become a man or woman without love, we can never produce a strong family which is the basis of our communities without love and we can never ultimately grow in to a great nation with out love. Growing up amid a people who hated us, and their fathers hated our fathers deprived us of the very thing that our souls desired, the very thing

Today we should aim to do good for each other out of love and not to seek some sort of gain or to say, “look what I did for you.” We should do good like the God who created us out of love and gave to us everything we need to not only survive but live and abundant life. We should look to produce for not only ourselves but those that we say we love. For love is nothing without action. The very root of the creation of the Universe is love. The God who created had to be a God of love. For love is that force that causes one to create for the object of his love. He created entire worlds, he created his creatures and he created a means of sustenance for his creatures. He is a god who does well or good out of love. And he showers his servants without them doing anything to deserve mercy. If you have given up on love then you have given up on life, you are already dead all you need to do is jump in the whole. May peace be upon you.


MONIE CHRISTO COLLECTION


@misscearraj is sporting the three- piece cheetah print bikini swim suit (see page 15 for mesh crop cover up).

shop at: www.monichristo.com


SHOP: WWW.MONICHRISTO.COM


LOCAL BUSINESS

This September the St. Louis Grand Hotel hosted the aunnual pitch contest curated by STL Business Development Center. The event also held speed pitch meetings with potential investors for small business owners.


BREE HAMILTON


MODEL HIGHLIGHT

STYLIST: NICOLENE SINCLAIR PHOTOGRAPHER: ADRIENNE JONES LOCATION: STL DELMAR LOOP


“ I’m moved by the desire to heal our relationship with our bodies. These are our forever homes.”


I. AM.

FEM


ME.


Spotlight on Porsha Key of La Femme Rebelle Clothing By Brittany Coleman It wasn’t too long ago that Porsha Key was just a little girl from Ann Arbor, Michigan with big dreams of being fly. Now well on her way to wish fulfillment, she has grown into a fearless young business owner with the world at her fingertips.

L

a Femme Rebelle Clothing (LFR) is a multi-faceted online clothing boutique serving show-stopping looks that cater to the modern woman. Signature pieces include bold, vibrant colors, playful ruffles, curve-encompassing swoops, daring slants, and a bit more than just a hint of dramatic flair. By staying abreast of the latest trends in fashion, the site offers chic clothing options for every occasion: from work meetings and lunch dates, to family play time and errands, and even day parties or nights out on the town. LFR’s owner, Ms. Porsha Key, knows a thing or two about turning heads. Her very own


“passion for fashion” is what led her to open La Femme Rebelle in 2014, and it has been her mission to provide stylish, affordable clothing ever since. However, the path to entrepreneurship was not without its share of roadblocks. Key details some of the most insightful moments of her journey with Chraktr Magazine, crafting a tale of hard work and powerful intention.

How did you end up in the St. Louis area and how does it compare to other places you’ve lived?

Actually I moved to Nashville, Tennessee alone, where I attended Tennessee State University and studied Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering. Growing up in Ann Arbor, style was not emphasized. Living so close to the University of Michigan campus, I really thought all college kids wore pajamas to class. Observing my peers and the culture at TSU, I realized that you can be in STEM and still be passionate about fashion


and how you present. Everyone there dressed so well—it wasn’t a typical college campus. I later found out that this is the culture at most Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We all share that commonality: being flywhile still being focused academically. After being recruited to the metropolitan St. Louis area for work, I decided to fulfill my dream of being an entrepreneur by opening an e-boutique. Doing business in St. Louis is a blessing because it has small-town vibes with way more resources and opportunities. St. Louis natives have a lot of pride and they really take care of and support each other. You mention growing up obsessed with all things beauty, makeup, and girly. Where would you say those influences came from in your life?

When my mother would shop for groceries, I would spend hours in the magazine section flipping through the pages of Seventeen, ELLE, Marie Claire, and Vogue. I loved the fashion in those magazines. I also remember my mother getting ready with my aunts for girls’ night out and she’d always ask what she should wear.

My father has always had a unique sense of style as well. He taught me how to find “one of a kind” pieces at the Goodwill. I’m not sure why all those things stayed with me, but I remember being stylish was something I always aspired to be!

I am my brand. What does La Femme Rebelle mean to you?

La femme rebelle literally translates to “the rebellious woman.” I am my brand, and I think the women that shop with me are like me in that they are a little bit rebellious in fashion—whether it be mixing prints or showing some unexpected skin. I understand that being overtly sexy empowers some, but so does being demure, mysterious, alluring, and suggestive. In what ways do you embody that spirit in your professional or personal life?

I embody the spirit of La Femme Rebelle Clothing by being authentic in who I am. I am a queer woman, so it’s not lost on me that being labeled “femme” is significant in my community. I wear that badge


men, and are courageous enough to be authentic and rebel against the machine that is patriarchy, misogyny, social norms and expectation.

At some point I started to develop an “if not now, then when?” attitude. I was pretty fearless after graduating college proudly. I love women while being feminine myself and being comfortable with my femininity. That’s somewhat of an oxymoron to society. To be a beautiful, feminine woman who loves other women seems outrageous for somereason.

Why did you decide to open La Femme Rebelle boutique, and what was going on in your life at the time?

I started La Femme Rebelle Clothing with my cousin Lauren. We were raised like sisters, and this was a dream realized for the I hope women find more and more both of us. For one thing I had a spaces to be authentic. I’m inspired lot of free time being single and new to the city. I was no longer a by my family and friends, who broke college student with tons are predominantly women. Also of homework and study groups the women I encounter in STEM. consuming my time. I was earning All of these women find pockets more as a full-time civil engineer, and spaces that are dominated by so I had money to fund my dream.


Describe a typical workday for you.

I typically wake up at 4:20am and head to the gym for the first morning class. I come home, shower, and get ready for my day At some point I started to develop job. I’m a civil engineer from 8 – 4:30pm. Then I work on my an “if not now, then when?” boutique from 5 – 8 or 9pm: attitude. I was pretty fearless studying trends, interacting on after graduating college. I had social media, building engagement, the momentum of obtaining keeping track of inventory, two degrees to propel me. I felt equipped and supported so I threw ordering new styles, and printing my hat in the ring. Lauren later got labels for shipments. I send out orders every other day on my married and started a family, and that became her focus, so our paths lunch break through the week, and I dedicate my Saturdays to taking diverged. product photos. It’s intense!


What challenges or pitfalls did you face while growing your business, and what major lessons did you learn from them?

I definitely lost a lot of money buying cheaply made clothes, sight unseen. I have boxes of clothing I didn’t have the stomach to sell. The good thing is that no one can ever say they felt hustled after shopping with me. Every woman that shops with La Femme Rebelle Clothing gets the true boutique experience, which is access to a limited quantity of special, unique pieces. I also learned that you have to work on your business every day. The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.

You should be friends with people who fuel your dreams and tell you, “do that s@#!” Please speak a little about your support system and the role it plays in your success.

and an inspiration, or that they like my style. I think you should surround yourself with people that “gas” you up. You should be friends with people who fuel your dreams and tell you, “do that s@#!” If you’re filled with self-doubt, you don’t need friends to affirm those doubts because then you’ll always be a prisoner to those thoughts and fears. The world beats us down enough about our age, size, weight, hair, race, education, and our history in love and sex. We need to build each other up with random acts of kindness. Compliments and encouragement are literally free! My business has grown immensely just by loving and supporting other women. When I show love, I get love. It’s like the Law of Attraction. I empty myself and some other woman fills me right back up! What plans do you have for the future of your business, and where would you like to see it go?

I hope to expand my reach. I plan When I went into business, I found to focus on curating highly unique that I was getting a lot of support pieces by sewing and embellishing from women I didn’t even know; items myself. But mostly I want complete strangers telling me to to add styling services to the LFR keep pushing and that I’m bomb experience by creating closet


calendars to assist with planning out a week of work ensembles. These tools would help women take the guesswork out of getting ready every morning. I want to help women build wardrobes through acquiring timeless pieces.

You find yourself in the highs and lows.

What advice can you offer to others with dreams of starting a business of their own?

My advice is to ride the wave. It will ebb, it will flow. There will be peaks and valleys. You find yourself in the highs and lows, though. Don’t give up and don’t quit. Pivot and persevere! Learn from the mistakes of others, and as you learn, teach. Before you ask for help, be prepared to offer something. I think the strongest business currency is bartering. Eventually the exchange of services builds a


diverse business team or network. And when you have that team, when you have that network or tribe, TAKE THEM WITH YOU TO THE TOP!

LA FEMME

A rebellious woman in her own right, Porsha Key is no stranger to hard work and perseverance. Her story reminds us of the euphoria of making connections, trusting your instincts, and uncovering a source of inspiration that propels you forward in the pursuit of happiness. Thus, it’s safe to say that a little Ann Arbor girl with hopes of a luxurious future has grown into the passionate, well-manifested woman of her own dreams. Follow @lafemmerebelleclothing on Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress, and Instagram for the latest in fashion inspo and beauty trends.

REBELLE


Flashes Flashes is an abstract mini-series dedicated to the highs and lows of pursuing mental

“Careful Start�

By Brittany Coleman

F

or me there was never a defining moment in the decision to stop running and hold firm against my fears. It happened organically as a cyclical journey of first steps. It was me staring curiously down at a wriggling black hermit crab in the palm of my hand. Or a later version of me chest deep in sea water just dancing and sashaying my hips, so far from the shoreline and the only one fool enough to take the plunge under a

threatening sky. It was me defenseless and overcome with a jolt of terror at having planted my foot on something so slimy and unidentifiable on the ocean floor. And there I was again today, floating about the botanical gardens with my hidden shadow self perched up on my shoulder and the spirit of my faceless lover tucked away in my subconscious. No surprise, then, that I would find myself paralyzed on this messy trail without a single other


human being in sight. And for as long as I could endure it, there was nothing but a heavy stillness and that was it. It was a long time before I could be made aware of my physical reality again. Then, as the hunger settled into my body, I gathered myself up and quickened my step, stomping and crunching over the dense underbelly of untouched woodland.

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