I have never done this before but it was a cool experience.
Interviewing 2 people at the same time and for them to be best friends too made for quite the entertaining encounter.
I got to learn about some of the insecurities people face prior to taking on projects on their own and also obstacles they face navigating this life we live.
This interview will give you insights on self love and resiliency but you will get to see how friendship can bring about greatness in one another.
So this week and last week’s Women Crushing It Wednesday are @shopflybyebony and @musebymc!
All right. So, thank you, Tae and Felicia. This is the first time I'm doing a 2 for 1 Women Crushing It Wednesdays. Let's go ahead and get into this. So my first question is the question I ask every guest and it's the following. Every superhero has an origin story. What is yours?
F:Origin story for me?... I guess the day I became a mom because when my daughter was born it was just me and her. Having a child allows you to be reborn through another person's eyes. She doesn't know shit about what I did before or how I handled things... I am literally a new person as she sees me.
After becoming a mom, I unraveled completely. I got sick, I got better, I got sick, I lived with illness. And the way that I navigate life is completely different than it was seven years ago. And this I can see staying for a long time. In other places, when I'm trying to navigate who I am and who I can be in the world. I made different choices and ran away from things. I think that whatever is happening here in the past seven years, this is what it's going to be forever. As a grandmother, I can see myself being this person,with these principles.
Yeah, awesome. Awesome. Tae, your turn.
T:Um, I don't know how to really answer that... But I was born 3 pounds, 13 ounces with a hole in my heart, and the doctors were saying that I had 3 months to live.... Here I am in the flesh…. So I obviously said no to that. And then when I was 16, they said that my heart condition was so bad that I couldn’t have kids... I got 2. I just say no to things that don't make sense to me, even when I'm not supposed to say no. I absolutely, always rebel. And that's because my rebellious spirit brought me to where I am. My rebellion brings forth my resilience. I don't look at the rebellion in a negative light. I look at it as prosperity and uplifting and encouraging and guiding and supporting. “No” doesn't have to be negative. “No” for me is a way of opening doors in a sense.
It could be protection too.
T:Exactly. So I think my origin story is because I said no. I say no all the time without even saying it.
Alright, that's awesome. That's awesome. And this is different from the way most folks actually answer that question. I like that. All right.
So the 2 of you have two different businesses? So what circumstances led you to start your businesses?
F: In 2007. I started my event planning business, which was called my Social Life. And that that was because I wanted to plan social events for social change. My social life happened and for a really long time, I really struggled with figuring out who I was as a business owner and what that looked like and what it's supposed to be.
I was myself doing cool events, and I got really great opportunities. But I wasn't necessarily making the kind of money. Then #HashtagThat came along with Felix and Ren….it was a little bit better. And then... I'm sorry, before Hashtag there was Blackstone, which is still up and running. And I'm so so proud of the Blackstone foundation library. I'm so proud! It's a nonprofit, and it's about creating and sharing culturally relevant reading materials and programs with Black Folks. Just Us Events is one of my favorite things that I've ever done because it was exclusively black. I loved claiming that space for us. I loved gatekeeping our culture. I was so proud. Because I was creating a space that was just for black folks and the energy reflected back to me that was saying to me...
T & F: Bitch, you doing a good job!
F: Muse let’s me express a different part of myself. It’s about fashion, looking good, feeling good and being extra. I kept telling myself that I couldn't do that. I was worried that people were going to think I didn’t know what I’m doing . I don't know who they is to this day… but they scared me until now.
So Muse by Miss Christmas is such a great expression of myself. It's so freeing for me to be able to be all of the things that I am.
I called it Muse because when I was younger, I used to get bullied a lot. I was always told I was ugly. I was sure I was ugly. I was positive. You know, I didn't have straight teeth. I had dark skin. I had short hair. I didn't feel beautiful. And actually one year an artist asked me to pose for a painting... and it ended up being a mural at an art exhibit…. It was huge, I saw myself in art and the piece was amazing, and the piece was me. I’d never seen myself like that before. That was very empowering for me. And then it happened again @hashtagthat, my friend Jasana Allyene painted me and it was so dope…I can’t express in words how much I love that piece.
I remember that painting!
F:You remember?! It was for my birthday. It’s really nice to see yourself through someone else's lens, eyes, brushes, colors and see the same thing. All of that stuff really was telling me that I'm a part of a community or a space where I am considered beautiful now. My inner child is safe to let that other stuff go. We're good... Now we're okay…. t
Okay. All right. So that's actually pretty dope. What about you Tae?
T: Fly By Ebony was something that I thought about years before I even put it into existence. I love clothes. I like to shop. And I like to put challenging pieces together sometimes. So for example, what's my shit, Felicia?
F: Active wear
T: Active wear. So what that means is the stuff that the girls wear to the gym, I want to wear it to the club.
Like a sports bra.
T: Like a sports bra with matching leggings. All you need is the right accessories and you're good to go. It doesn't even look like you're going to the gym anymore. When COVID hit, I told myself, now's the time more than ever to put my plan into action. I have the time, I have the accessibility, I have the funds and I have the support. I also really believed in this. I felt it was time. Every time I encountered some sort of obstacle, God said NO. I've always had an entrepreneurial mindset, I knew that I didn't want to work for anybody. It's not even just about the money, but it's the freedom and stability that I can have for myself, and my children and also the of fun doing what I love.
I wanted to share it with people and hopefully they embrace me. if they don't right away, that's okay, too. It's gonna take time. I'm not afraid to fail. So if I have to do it 100 times, I'm gonna do it 100 times. Ebony's my middle name. It just made sense. I wanted to represent my authentic self . Now that I’ve launched, I've learned a few things and I'm considering going in a completely different direction. Because remember, I said five minutes ago, I'm not afraid to fail. So I'm going to try something else until I find exactly what it is that it's supposed to be.
F: There’s a lot of beauty in figuring it out. I think that's a part of all these different things that we’ve tried and done.There can't just be one way. And I feel the urge to not work for anybody. I don't know if it's not just about not working for anybody, but I definitely, really do feel like I'm the boss. (laughter)
T: Okay! (laughter) When I love what I do, I really do it with the authority that it takes. And so, for me, it's that part.
At the end of the day, Felicia is really a boss no matter what she's doing, whether she's planning a conference, or she's rolling up to Starbucks.
(laughter) All right. Let’s get to the next question. This is gonna be interesting. What were you aspiring to be when you grew up?
T: Me too!
You guys were wanting to be singers. Who was your inspiration?
T: I love Craig David.
Ah, Can You Fill Me In.
T: That's not his only banger.
(laughter) I'm just saying.
T: I love Craig David. I love Whitney Houston. I love to discover new artists.
F: It was Mariah Carey for me. I felt like her songwriting was perfect. Mariah Carey and Brandy.
Oh I love Monica.
T: That’s my girl!
F: I love Monica too. It was never competition. Brandy's voice and tone. And everything. Mariah Carey though. It was always her vocabulary and songwriting for me.
T: That’s because you're so slick with your words (laughter).
F: Yo! Be sarcastic in a verse? I love you. And that's why I love Jay too, because of that. Just the way that lyrically, he says things. It’s not just rhyming. He's sarcastic. He's got tones. I love it. I love it
T: Jay Z?
F: Yeah. It's crazy. I love Mariah Carey. Remember when the CDs used to come with the words? I’m reading it and things like elusive and other amazing words that... I was in 6th or 7th grade. Even in 4th grade with Daydream. No, it was Music Box. It was Music Box in the 4th grade.It was just so amazing to me. So amazing.
T: My stepfather had a record shop and we used to play those too. I think that's a big part of why I wanted to sing too. And I'm talking about records. Not CDs because CDs weren't even a thing yet. I'm talking about records and I would always be at his store.
I'm wondering... What stopped you guys from pursuing singing?
F: Well, if you go back to the first question, I didn't have the look. And, to this day, I'm not even sure I can actually sing. I'm not sure. I think I can. I've gotten applause.
T: I've also told you. I’m never gonna lie to you.
F: But to be a singer and stuff. I think that at some point, my dream of being a recording artist transferred to... I just want to have a band and I want to sing in clubs. Because I think I'm a live singer. I don't think I'm a studio singer. I used to imagine my retirement just being a live performer in clubs and stuff like that. Whenever I tried to sing, someone would tell me that I would be good in the background.
T: Who said that?
F: Niggas. (laughter)
T: That’s wrong.
F: I was very shy at some point so my stage presence wasn't A1. It was very weird and awkward, but I could have made that a thing, but I don't think I had the right people to tell me that I should do this.
Summer Walker is suffering from anxiety.
F: Yeah, but she's mad sexy.
T: So are you though.
F: I wasn't. I am. (laughter)
Hold up, you’re the one that was right here and it's on record and you said...
F: I know, my body's always been tuhn up. I know that.
T: Your body can be tuhn up and you can still not
F: And I could not feel sexy and so that becomes an invitation to be used. Someone else would be telling you what to do with your sexy. And then I would be ass out on a stage wearing panties singing off key. This isn't the place for that. And I think everyone just doesn't make it here in this city, because everyone wants to look like they're making it in the city. I love the creative energy that's here now. But before, you know, people who were trying to be producers inviting me to work together. And I would write songs to their beats. And I would go, and I’d record them in their bullshit studio in their house. And then the hand gets on my leg, and I'm just like, FUCK! NOT AGAIN! And then it's over. And I don't have the songs because I wrote it to their beats. I have my lyrics. But I don't have beats. It takes more than a producer. And nobody was really trying to invest time or energy into putting me in a space that I didn't know about. I just want to sing right. So I don't know, all that stuff. I don't think I kept with it long enough to stay there. So it's a dream deferred. I hop on an open mic every now and then and satisfy that itch. But that's it.
T: I didn't have support. I literally was told, no. not that my capabilities weren't there. I didn't have the support. I remember one year in high school, all the high schools in Toronto were doing this thing called Keep The Beat. Our school won. So a whole bunch of performers came to our school and I got the opportunity to perform. I performed with In Essence. It was pretty dope. And then Red One pulled me aside and said that he needed to work with me. So I got his number. I went to the studio with my mom and with him. I sang with him. He gave me beats, he asked me to write to some of the beats. My mom said, no. Told me that I was not going again. And then a couple of years later, my stepfather told me that he was opening a recording studio and he wanted me to be a writer for my artists. So it was kind of a slap in the face. You can't do it, but you're gonna help somebody else do it.
F: Yeah. You're good enough for us to use. You have talent. We got to see that. But you shouldn't be seen.
T: It was a big thing. I took vocal lessons and everything. I was serious about my craft. I used to be able to write really well. You give me a beat. And I could sit there and I was very creative with my pen. I don't even think I have that anymore.
F: It's a muscle. Writing is a muscle. It's there.
I'll say this, though. I think the whole thing with the background singing, if you had known that Mariah Carey was a background singer for some other artists, you probably would have been motivated to actually continue.
F: I wasn't offended by being in the background. Even as a background singer, you still need the support so that you can sing background for people who can and who are going places and that are performing places. That are getting gigs. And you still need to be acknowledged as an artist. I don’t feel that I was presented as an artist. I feel like I was always presented as someone who was always trying to sing. And as I'm saying this, it reminds me of my social life. For a long time, people would see that I'm starting a business. I have a little business. I have a little thing. This is something that I do. But not this is who I am and what I do with the boss tone that I have now. I have a boutique right now. I am the owner of Just Us Events right now. I am the Chair of Blackstone right now, for sure. That's what I do. But before it wasn't that because I wasn't confident and I didn't believe in myself and I needed people to believe in just a little bit more. I know that people say that no one's gonna believe in you if you don't believe in yourself. But I don't think that's true.
T: No, it's not.
F: I don't feel like you need to love yourself in order for someone to love you. I think people could love you into loving yourself. People can believe in you into believing in yourself. And I think that as a person, I try to put that out there. When I believe in somebody, please understand. Everybody knows. I will always tell you that I believe in you. And I tell them and I show them. Because that's what I would want. I don't even think that I even scratched the surface of the actual music industry. I think I just met a bunch of gatekeepers that were in proximity or adjacent to the music industry. Or other people trying to get into the music industry that were a little bit further than I was. I'm not mad or anything. I'm in a great place. But That's what that is here.
T: But also, even with that being said, I feel I'm glad that I'm not a singer. I'm glad that I'm not in that industry. I'm glad that I'm not there. I don't know if I would be the same person that I am right now. And I'm proud of the person that I am right now. I'm proud of my humility. I'm proud of my honesty, my genuine nature and sincerity. Sometimes I get my hair done, and I don't know how to act. Now. I got money. What am I supposed to do with that? That's me being true to myself. Would I be as close and as spiritual as I am right now? Would I be caught up with the wrong things right now? Probably.
F: I don't know. I don't know if I would be who I am right now, based on the fact that I strongly believe I'm where I'm supposed to be. But then I do feel like I still would do a smoky club. I think that if you're an event planner, that's what you got to be. If you're this, that's what you got to be until I understood that I was a multi-faceted person. And I have a bunch of different sides to me that I have to tap into.
What are misconceptions people have about you?
T: That I'm not nice.
F: That I’m mean. (laughter)
F: Actually, I don't know that people have... I feel like they don't know that... I mean, I think I can be a little bit mean, I've heard.
T: I think stink is the right word.
F: I don’t like that word. What I've noticed is that when I tend to speak up, people are shocked. I'm very quiet and shy. And I have tons of actual social anxiety. And it's really crazy. But the gag is... Part of what it meant for me to create parties and spaces and events was to create places that I'm comfortable in. The joke’s on y’all! I created spaces where people like me could feel safe to people-out and not have to leave. Right and I people-out all the time. But yeah, I think that might be a misconception. Or that I'm super confident. I used to tell people I have anxiety. I don't tell anyone because it’s none of your business. I don't feel like people give space to like the fact that I could be this and this. So that might be a misconception.
T: I think people think people don’t take me seriously because I’m always joking.
T: No, it's true. I'm a fool all the time. Because it's literally just my personality. I enjoy when I can make you laugh. I can make other people laugh. Laughing is my favorite thing to do. So when I start speaking, and making sense, and having an actual authentic or even knowledgeable conversations, people tend to side eye me and realize that I’m not dumb. Or they think that I'm just mean.
I'll be honest. When I first met y'all at HashtagThat, I thought you were super shy.
T: I was shy then. Remember, this is when I'm just meeting her. I'm being thrown into an environment where I know nobody but her. And I barely know her. Not that I was trying to hide, but I couldn't be my true flamboyant self, because I don't know how people are gonna receive me yet. I'm not in my own comfort zone. So yeah, I was a little bit more reserved there. Because I didn't know nobody yet.
But see the confidence that you have, I thought she had it. And I thought you had the anxiety she has.
T: So you feel thrown off right now?
I feel super thrown.
T: He thought I was the shy one, Felicia. Can you imagine?
F: I can’t. I actually can't.
PART 2 COMING