With a shift in cultural norms comes a new appreciation for all things colored. There is a national defining of what it means to be black in our country and a celebration of what God, our collective Creator, gave each shade to share. Not since the 1970’s have we seen this much interest in who we are and the greatness that birthed us. The present political tensions have contributed to a desire for ancestral research and re-established the goodness of our own blackness.
From visiting the mythical Wakanda to vowing to pray while Kaepernick took a knee, we – the children of darker-skinned royalty – have faded to black. So, this is as good a time as any to wear what makes us feel connected to our authentically beautiful and blessed selves. There is no longer as much veiling who we are and how we got this way. We have never just shot a ball, sprinted, swung, or served-it-up like normal. Gifting dictates extra. And we are, finally, at ease with hair that coils and springs, skin that is as black as the sweetest berries, music that we make, dances the way we do them, words we create, and fashion uniquely tailored to our creative impulses. The prints and patterns we like are as bold and glorious as we are, by divine design.
That is what Kedar F. Brunson believes. That is what his wife, Cheryl, agrees with; and what his aunt, Annie V. Jordan, knows. Together, they are joint business owners of CK Marketing and Q-Bella-V Design. African-American garb is their specialty. They are the triple-threat awakening a re-evaluation of the style our “mother” gave us. “She” is the endued continent across troubled waters – Africa.
While living in poverty, the child Annie discovered that lack and long legs were enemies. The remedy, her mother suggested, was making her own clothes to avoid the taunt that was sure to accompany “highwaters (pants peers considered too short).” Heeding mom’s advice, Annie took to the sewing machine, discovering a natural knack. Today, in their business, the skilled seamstress is the on-hands genius while nephew, Kedar, lends his creative fashion-sense to all their brand. Cheryl advises and sees to it that administrative details keep the family business alive and thriving.
As today’s clothing market has expanded with the introduction of online retailing, it helps to have a niche. African attire has traditionally catered to a particular demographic, but this family is looking to color outside the lines. Their product generates interests from other people groups. Much of that may have to do with the expert tailoring and exceptional look of their clothing. Far from merely a dashiki, the vibrancy of seldom-seen fabric woven into headdress, tunics, pants, skirts, tops, outerwear, ties, and bags cause customers to crave what Annie V. is designing and Kedar is directing. He holds firm to the dream of seeing statement pieces worn by everyday fashion forward men and women of myriad ethnic backgrounds. In addition to wears, CK Marketing offers Afrocentric health and beauty aids. Top sellers include fragrant oils, goat milk soap, shea butter, and black soap.
Not one of these entrepreneurs would dare mislead anyone by suggesting that business ownership is for those inclined to rest on their past laurels. Contrariwise, the three, family and friends would be the first to say that since they all have other jobs, this new fashion venture demands nights without sleep and sacrifices of every sort. The toll taken made it easier to discuss discontinuing shortly after start-up. But the chants of encouragement from an audience, following one of their many successful fashion shows, gave them second wind and second thoughts. With a community support system in place, they launched out further, finding a growing market for the exclusivity they bring to the clothing industry.
For the few and far between creative blocks, Kedar boxes, competes in table tennis, collects beads from other places, and reads ferociously. Cheryl kicks-back with a good book as well; but is especially benefited by time spent in Biblical text. Because of work demands, she, too, values stress relievers like her Zumba class. Aunt Annie finds a good time over a good pot of anything her hands are cooking up. In rare downtimes, being in the presence of her mother, Annie B. Jordan, brings immense pleasure. Each business professional enjoys travel; but finds little room for that these days. What they do make time for is their relationship with God, as He is deemed the source of all they have, are, and do.
It is He, they contend, who has gifted each of them with the obligation and imagination to bring beauty to a world that can be “ugly,” especially to people of color. In their hearts are more ideas and concepts. In their hands are ability and agility. In their bloodline is the talent of kings and queens who were entrusted to pass down tools unique to their own experience. Among them, a flair for the fabulous. No evil could keep us from it. No waves could drown it. It is part of our heritage as children from the Motherland.
ANGEL A. WELLINGTON