Tuesday, June 7, 2011

20 Questions with Vashtie Kola

Downtown's Sweetheart Vashtie Kola is really a sweetheart and was kind enough to do an interview with the Vans OTW crew. Don't let her small frame and womens size 8.0 foot fool you though, she's a tough New Yorker who has made a name for herself several times in the male-dominated record label, footwear, design and directing industries. Check out our little interview below:
You’ve had a pretty big year so far and we’re barely into the sixth month of 2011, how does it feel so far?
It feels surreal. For lack of a better analogy, it feels like a dream. Literally. So many things that I never truly thought could happen for me have and in the most organic ways possible. I'm very excited to say the least.
Your name is often stylized as Va$htie. Is there a difference between Vashtie Kola and Va$htie?
Not at all. I'm not one of those artists that have an alter ego or anything - I've always been a bad liar and hate feeling like I'm not being myself. No matter what moniker people refer to me as, its always the same package. Although, I do have a private side that - like most people. I think my public self seems more "socialite" and I'm very much the opposite.
When did Vashtie Kola become Va$htie?
Well, it really came to life after one of my many nicknames came to be. This one in particular was "VASH MONEY" or "VASH CASH" which came into heavy rotation in the late 90's/. Later, it moved into "VASH MONEY BILLIONAIRE". The "$" seemed appropriate and was born by 1999/2000.
What does a day in the life of Vashtie Kola look like?
It varies. On a non-shoot, I'm usually in New York. I start the day with the gym, followed by getting ready for the day (showering, etc), then getting on the computer (answering emails, blogging, writing treatments for music videos, designing for Violette, meetings). I try and pry myself away from the computer by 6 or 7pm. At the end of the day, I try and catch up with friends or watch movies on Netflix.
Women and men look to you for fashion inspiration, but what inspires you?
I've always been inspired by rebels and under dogs. People who followed and created their own path. I've always been an under dog and a rebel and I'm attracted to others like that. The prettiest girl in the room isn't necessarily the most intriguing to me, I like interesting characters with flaws and stories. People who are creative and different. They aren't usually the "cool guy" or someone up on trendy clothes. Sometimes they're off and a bit weird. I love that.
If Downtown’s Sweetheart had to leave the state of New York where would she go? Why?
That sounds so scary to think about, but if I had to move anywhere it would be Paris. Paris is so intoxicating; the people, the style, the food, the architecture. Parisians also seem as rude as my fellow New Yorkers, which I absolutely adore and would make me feel right at home. Leaving New York City would be such a major step that it would only make sense to make the move internationally. If not, it could be San Francisco. I fell in love with Berkeley when I first went in 2003.
You’re very influential in the sneaker world with blogs looking to you for approval or disapproval of new kicks. What do you look for when shopping for a new pair of sneakers? What do you avoid?
Thank you! I think function over fashion is always important when it comes to footwear, I want to be comfortable while wearing them. I also try and avoid trends for two reasons; 1: because I like to be able to have a universal shoe to go with as many looks as possible and 2: it extends the life of your shoe even when the trend ends.
How many pairs of sneakers are in your closet right now?
Not as many as people may think, I'm quality over quantity and I also dislike excess. I think I may have a solid 20-30 pairs.
What’s your shoe size?
I'm a size 6.5 in boys and 8 in womens.
Is there a trend in footwear you’d like to see more often?
I really like retro trends. Going back to the beginning when things were basic and less complicated. Simple silhouettes really win me over.
Is there a trend in footwear you’d like to see less of?
The opposite of my last answer; complicated builds and silhouettes.
If you had to sum up your style in one word, what would it be?
What style advice would you give the opposite sex?
I like it when men and boys keep it masculine and basic. I think I speak for other girls when we say that, we want to feel like the fashionable and accessorized one next to a man. Not saying he can't have his own style and know about fashion, but I think most girls like to feel like it's their area of interest and expertise.
Tell us about VIOLETTE:
Violette is my clothing line and lifestyle brand that launched in 2008, but has been in the works for many years previous. It sprung from my interest of dressing like a tom-boy and masculine style. Despite so many amazing female brands that were born in the 2000's, I still never found myself in them and wanted to offer that to others.
Would you ever be interested in designing apparel or footwear for men in the future?
Absolutely. All of my interests are mainly male driven. I've always loved men's clothing and I used to get in trouble for borrowing my brothers clothes without his permission. I've always been a tomboy wearing boy brands, like Supreme and Stussy. I'm also surrounded by a lot of male friends, so I think I have a good understanding of that market.
Aside from being a designer and an East Coast muse, you’re also an accomplished video director. What is your creative process when working on videos?
I usually get sent music for the artist I have to write for and I listen to the song for a good 40-60 times to get inspiration. From there I take it to the computer and write my concept. I think about all the elements of that artist; their fan base, their style, etc so not to alienate anyone and really further their vision.
Tell us about your years at Def Jam:
I always equate my position at Def Jam to the movie "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitters Dead". Christina Applegate's character is 17 and she's given a high ranking position, petty cash, etc and she's shocked like "I'm just a kid". It was sort of the same initially for me. I was offered an executive position, corporate card, business cards etc and all for me to do what I do naturally - be creative.
It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about the industry and business. Towards the end I was just so drained and couldn't work on my own projects after work 12 hour days and being glued to my Blackberry...I had to leave.
Which video was your favorite to work on? Why?
Jadakiss feat Faith Evans for "Letter to Big" off the Notorious soundtrack. As a kid who was a fan of Big's and the whole Bad Boy movement, working on that video gave me a sense that somehow I was part of Big and his movement. At the end of the shoot all of Big's Bad Boy folks were there celebrating with a bottle of Dom P from 1995. I chilled in the background, giving them room for their celebration and they grabbed me like this wouldn't be right without you in the toast. They ended up giving a profound speech about Big and gave thanks to me for being apart of the project. I cried. It was so unbelievable and powerful.
What advice would you give young entrepreneurs trying to break into the world of music and/or fashion?
I always say be true to yourself. Don't follow trends or try and imitate people too closely. All of the people who conquered their worlds were one of a kind and not easily duplicated. It's important that everything you do comes from you. That way you'll always have original content. It's like blogs that just re-blog everything that everyone else blogs, once you have original content it sets you apart from the others.
What does Va$htie have in store for the rest of 2011?
I have a lot of music videos slated to be directed by my in the next couple of months. I'm directing a video for BIG KRIT in June and I'm very excited about that. I just got back from Trinidad, where I worked on a few creative projects with Legendary Jonathan Mannion. I'm also working on publishing an art book of portraits that I've been taking for the last 6 years. Also Violette will begin an expansion, offering select cut and sew pieces by the end of the year.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vashtie is such a dope chick. I'd always seen pictures of her but I started learning about her, her background, art, etc. last year. She's inspiring to me because she built her following, her brand from the ground up. She wasn't privileged so it's cool to see someone take the opportunities that come her way and really LIVE.

Great interview!


June 14, 2011 at 5:54 PM  

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