All Articles Tagged "boxing kitten"

Remixing a Fashionable Past With Boxing Kitten

February 14th, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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Welcome to the “Work It!” column, where we take a look at business innovation of every kind. 



You want to be an innovator? Awesome! Where do you start? That’s harder to tackle. Wanting to innovate in your field is admirable, but good ideas can be hard to come by. Artists and businesswomen alike are searching for the secret to creativity.

It may seem like a contradiction, but the key to changing the present can lie in looking at what’s already been done. Take a cue from your favorite hip-hop track; remix the past to innovate for the future.

Maya Lake, designer of the fashion line Boxing Kitten, is a great case study of the business remix.

The fashion industry is one of the most competitive sectors in the market. Studies show 80 percent of retail clothing businesses fail within the first five years. So, how did a no-name designer turn her college senior thesis into a brand adorned by the likes of Solange, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna?

“Melee of Then and Now”

boxing kitten 3

Maya Lake

Boxing Kitten’s website describes the collection as “a vibrant melee of Then and Now.” Lake pulls from the past; merging vintage styles with African wax block print fabric to create a look that snaps necks and turns heads. “The initial point of departure for the collection was envisioning what two women — a woman involved in the Civil Rights movement and a woman involved in the black pride movement — would look like combined together,” Lake told Essence.

“I took different style elements of each woman, like the classic and conservative lady-like silhouettes, and the African fabrics that women in the black pride movement wore.” The result is a collection that continues to stand out among competitors who rarely get more ethnic than tribal print.

Lake launched Boxing Kitten with the bare minimum for a fashion line: a website, samples for production, and a cool idea. Word of mouth landed Boxing Kitten around Erykah Badu’s frame in a spread for Giant magazine in 2008. The line soon found it’s way into music video director and Lake fan, Melina Matsoukas’ productions for Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” and Alicia Keys and Beyoncé’s mythical “Put It In a Love Song”.

Copycats, Welcome

If you’re drawing your inspiration from the past, what’s to stop someone from drawing inspiration from you? Nothing. That’s the nature of the game. And Lake isn’t worried about it. She told Madame Noire, “I think the only thing I can do is keep moving forward, keep doing what I’m doing, because no one’s going to do it the way I’m doing it.”

Lake echoes the words of poet, critic, and editor T.S. Eliot: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” At this point, nothing in the world is completely original. Every “new” thing is a remix of something that’s been done before.

Before you go stealing everybody’s ideas, keep these rules from artist and author Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist, in mind:



C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed). 

We’re highlighting Pioneers in the Game every day here on Madame Noire. Click here to meet all of our salutes.

Help A Sista Out: Why I’ll Spend More To Buy Black

January 10th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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black woman with credit card

For as long as I can remember I’ve been taught to buy black. If there were a white mechanic in the neighborhood and a black mechanic 30 minutes away, who charged a bit more, in financially fit times, my father would have opted for the black mechanic. This behavior was drastically different than my maternal grandfather’s. A Jamaican living in Indianapolis, Indiana, my grandfather didn’t always view American blacks in the most positive light. In fact, his sentiments would lead you to believe he regarded them as inferior– and he might have. Though, in his defense, he’s grown over time.

But buying black was an important lesson I learned at the crib. One that stuck with me once I got a little money of my own…which was just three years ago really.

I can honestly say that I do as much, if not more shopping online than I do in actual stores. Everything is at your disposable on the internet in ways that the stores are drastically limited. And not only that, on the internet, you’re more than likely to find more black owned and operated businesses. There’s jewelry made by black women. (Earrings are my everything.) Books written by black women, businesses run by black women and unique, one of a kind clothes designed, made and shipped to your apartment or workplace by black women. It’s a beautiful thang. And I’m happy to support even if it means I end up spending a few dollars more than I would have if I bought said item from a white and or mainstream outlet.

Now, please know that my money is not long. With rent, student loans, regular utilities and other things that come up, I don’t have an extensive shopping budget. But as hard as I work, every month I have to buy myself at least one something nice.

In November it was a necklace from Peace Images Jewelry. In December, it was a Boxing Kitten dress. For Christmas I asked my sister to buy me an Ifenkili pillow and earlier this week I was looking at a $55 sweatshirt from Quelly Rue Designs. The sweatshirt featured a simple design on a plain, solid colored hoodie. I showed it to my sister telling her I was thinking about buying it. She agreed it was cute; but when she saw the price tag, her immediate reaction was, as it often is, “I can make that.” My sister, the artsy one, is probably right. But would she actually make it. Probably not. But that’s not the issue, I was contemplating buying the hoodie because the design, although simple, was still beautiful and the designer was a black woman. Historically, that’s been a good reason to spend $10, $20, even $50 dollars more than what I would pay somewhere else.

I support black women because one day I know I’ll need the same and I believe in karma. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. My father, who recently started up his own business selling and installing blinds and window fixtures works with all types of people. But recently he had a client, a black man, who said that he was buying from my father, though he probably could have gotten a lower quality product for less, because he was a black man and he was trying to support his business. As a black woman with a dream, that will ultimately require the financial support of others, it’s important that I regard these women and their products as I would hope they would one day do for me.

Do you go out of your way to patronize black businesses? Are you willing to pay more to buy their products?

Style To Steal Or Girl, Stop: Solange, Taraji, Selita & More!

November 30th, 2012 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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We’re finally coming to a close with the work week and before we get lazy because it’s about to be the freakin’ weekend, we of course had to take a moment to showcase some of the most colorful and attention-grabbing ensembles from the week. Sistahs were out and about in their leather pants, with their fur stoles and jackets, rocking metallic accessories and playful African prints. Could we finally go a week with no stops? We shall see…


Selita Ebanks

Red usually means stop, but looking vibrant in firetruck red, Selita Ebanks was a go! The former Victoria’s Secret Angel attended the 8th Annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball at Cipriani in NYC doing the va-va voom thing in this strapless red gown with a gathered asymmetrical bodice that had a cascading ruffle around the waist. The dress also had a split that stopped at the thigh, and a dramatic train for added effect. She wore black pointed toe pumps and took with her a small black satin clutch. As you can see, her jewelry included a beaded drop necklace, and she brought along her favorite thing in the attempt to go Hollywood glamour and keep warm – some fur.

I think, for starters, that Selita’s makeup is gorgeous, and the hair is “flickin'” which is always a good thing. And I do find the dress to be very stunning, plus I like the mix of the black heel with the black clutch, but the necklace she could have saved for another day. Either way though, steal!


Vogue’s First Fashion Week in Africa Highlights Renewed Interest in the Continent

September 7th, 2012 - By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
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ACCRA, GHANA — This October 5 through 7, Vogue Italia is co-sponsoring the first ever Ghana Fashion and Design Week. Timed right after the Paris shows, fashion’s most important season will close in West Africa, daring fashion editors to pack their Prada for the extended month of international fashion show fun. Expected to be a major coup in terms of exposure for Continent-based labels, the Vogue-anointed event will also open the African market to international fashion labels eager to find new takers even as the recession and general saturation of the American and European markets have resulted in eroding bottom lines.

“There are growing numbers of moneyed, stylish, well-travelled consumers living on the Continent,” noted Helen Jennings, editor-in-chief of lush African style glossy Arise Magazine and author of coffee table tome New African Fashion. “Thanks to improved infrastructure and political stability, retail environments are expanding fast with international and African brands alike taking advantage… all fashion eyes are on Africa as the next creative and lucrative frontier.”

Boxing Kitten’s Designer Maya Lake: Re-Defining Afro-Chic

July 14th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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by R. Asmerom

"Maya Lake, Boxing Kitten"

Maya Lake, Founder and designer of Boxing Kitten

When Erykah Badu rocks an outfit on stage or for a photo shoot, you can pretty much guess the flavor and style; eclectic, punchy and bold are adjectives that would come to mind. That’s just what the fashion label Boxing Kitten stands for and offers in its latest ‘Resort’ collection.

Since Badu modeled the vibrant pieces in Giant magazine’s February 2008 issue, the designer and founder of Boxing Kitten, Maya Lake, has not been short of word-of-mouth publicity and celebrity buzz from the likes of Solange, Alicia Keys and Rihanna.

Using African ankara fabrics and pleasingly bright prints, Lake is one of the few designers reinterpreting African patterns for an edgy and urbane, fashion-conscious audience.

The young designer’s sensibilities started to form early, informed by her own mother’s design savvy. “I started really designing stuff as a kid because my mom is a seamstress, and she has a clothing store so I was always interested in getting dressed up when I was younger,” she said. “It wasn’t until I was in high school that I really started actually making clothes for friends and family.”

Lake attended Wesleyan, the prestigious liberal arts college known to attract and churn out the creative types, and while there, continued to work on projects that supported her design instincts. “I worked in a costume shop, so I had the chance to fine-tune my sewing skills,” she said. “We made clothes for all the school plays, dance recitals, and that was a really good way for me to learn the craft a little better.”

"Erykah Badu"

Erykah Badu wore Boxing Kitten for a Giant Magazine photoshoot in 2008

Although Lake’s own mother went to school for fashion design and went on to open a boutique in New Jersey, Lake’s own path wasn’t so direct. “For a long time, I wanted to be a stylist, but I’ve always been interested in African-American studies, and the two fields to me have never been separate,” she said. “It’s never been one or the other. If I hadn’t been a designer, I think I’d be somewhere in the academic world, so this is the perfect blend.”

In and Out – Top Five Best/Worst Fashion Trends

May 19th, 2010 - By Danielle Kwateng
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Ever look at pictures of yourself in the early nineties and just snicker. Well, we’re going to save you a laugh in 2020 by giving you the best and worst fashion trends now. Take heed…these may haunt you one day.

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