How Did I Forget This?! Co-Hosting w/ Tyra Banks!

How ON EARTH…*long pause*…..did I forget to post about the AMAZING opportunity I got to co-host a live chat with Tyra Banks?! I really can’t remember how or why I never wrote a post about it, I must have been too hyped up on fan juice..tehe. In any event, back in November I got chosen to co-host a LIVE Google+ hangout chat with THE Tyra banks– my “big sister”, role model, etc etc etc…etc– about her new novel, Modelland. It’s a long story of how I got chosen to participate, stemming back to being a long time supporter and a guest on her talk show back in 2010. When I found out that I’d be having the opportunity to actually like…….talk to Tyra Banks and have real, down to earth convo (unlike on TV…they control everything..hmph!), I was flabbergasted! I could go on and on and on about how excited I was and how much fun I had participating, but I’ll just let you see for yourself. It was amazing! Modelland was an uplifting, fun, and humorous novel that’s great for teen girls!



with style~ Sharontina B.

A Chat with Supermogul, IMAN!

All of you know that I absolutely ADORE Iman…supermodel, supermogul, CEO, super mom, super woman! What doesn’t she do??? Since 1975 when Iman was first discovered by fashion photographer Peter Beard, she has graced the covers of the most notable publications, strutted the runways of the most famed designers, and has continued to bring us products that beautify women, while maintaining versatility and keeping the essence of glamour and sophistication. In 1994, Iman launched  her self titled cosmetics line for women of color, IMAN Cosmetics, that is still at the front lines of being one of the BEST cosmetics lines for women of color. I recently won an IMAN Cosmetics “Eye-Con” palette, which is a palette that consist of 12 different shadows from their new Boho Chic collection, and can I just tell you how excited I am?! I can’t wait to dive in!

Iman also launched her Global Chic clothing and accessories line, exclusively for HSN, in 2007; a collection inspired from places all around the world. The value and quality of the pieces in this line are unbelieveable! They are cost efficient and they give you so much value and a look of sophistication and glamour, which is very important to Iman. I could go on forever talking about the accomplishments Iman has made over the course of her career, but I’d rather let you hear her take from her words!
I was sooooo thrilled when Iman agreed to do a Q&A for The Runway Times, simply honored! She is so humble and always so willing to help others and she could never know how much I appreciate her taking valuable time to do this for me. So, without further ado, here it is! …

When you began modeling in 1975, what do you remember being the most exciting part for you? (ie. Runway,  photo shoots, etc.)

I loved both but I have to say the runway was more exciting – to be doing Theiry Mugler, Claude Montana and Jean Paul Gaultier at the beginning of their careers was exhilarating! Those days fashion shows were pure theater… the hair, makeup, sets were all masterly created to bring the whole theme of that particular collection to life.

Have you noticed a major change in the fashion industry in terms of how models were viewed years ago and how they are viewed now?

Unfortunately, models are no longer muses! When I used to model, designers always asked me how I felt about the clothes or how I would style it. Our opinions mattered then but unfortunately now the girls are all told to walk the same hence making them more like mannequins. I think the designers are doing themselves a disservice, as there are truly great models around that could become a plus for the designers instead of only relying upon the stylists. Most models’ off duty clothes look better than most of what comes down the runway… sometimes!

Out of the many shows you have done throughout your career, which was your absolute favorite? Why?

Mr. Yves Saint Laurent when he chose me as his muse for his “African Queen Couture Collection”. He cut the fabrics from bolts on my body… I stood for hours on heels and sheer silk pantyhose and nothing else but it was a once in a lifetime experience and to top it all I did the campaign for it with the legendary photographer David Bailey. Unforgettable!

Who or what inspires you today in your roles as CEO of Iman Cosmetics, designer of Global Chic, and many of your other doings?

My inspirations come from diverse places and people, but travel is always where I gather and collect. I am a chic “hoarder”. Sights and cultures are key for my inspirations from beading in India to sunset in Lamu in Africa to how a girl on the streets of Harlem ties her turban!

What are some of your top picks for this spring season?

I love the 70′s deluxe revisited as I can remember wearing it at Studio 54′s heyday but I also love all the colors… it is so uplifting!  I loved Marc Jacobs, Rachel Roy, Rodarte,DVF, Suno & Duro Oluwu .

AHHHHH! I’m still extra excited, this was a honor and I thank Iman so much for her insight into today’s fashion scene! I hope you all enjoyed and like always, thanks for reading.
Sharontina B.

Become the Masterpiece: Yumnah Najah Designs

In recent years, I have found that most of the talented individuals I know are present in my classes, organizations I’m a part of, or even “virtual” friends on various social networks. Last semester I had the pleasure to meet a young woman who is above and beyond her time and is creating a path that will ensure a promising future. I walked into statistics class on the first day of class last semester and as I sat down I greeted those beside me, as we all looked similarly uncertain of what this class would put us through..haha… As we all introduced ourselves to one another, the girl sitting next to me said, “Hi, my name is Yumnah”…before I could even say, “wait..can you repeat that?” (because I didn’t want to pronounce it incorrectly), I said. “You’re from New York aren’t you?!”…her accent gave it clear away!

You all know of my obsession with NY and so we’ve been friends ever since! Aside from that, I noticed her very unique style, she manipulates metallics and different textures to create ensembles of per-fec-tion!..If anyone knows her, they might refer to her as”the girl who wears the cute scarves”, I still have no clue how she wraps those scarves like that! My “styledar” instantly went off, but what caught my attention the most was the earrings she was wearing. They were so…different, unique… interesting. So I asked, “Where did you get your earrings?”, and she replied, “Oh, I make them”…that’s all I needed to hear. I can’t go any further until I tell you guys that Yumnah is 17 years old, graduated high school a whole year early, is now a freshman in college, and has started a business that is doing extremely well and represents more than just an earring that looks good! Yumnah and I always have talks about where we want to go in our careers, or things we’d like to accomplish and we’ve been trying to figure out a way to bring what we do together. So, we had the idea to do an interview about her business so that all of you beauties could see the masterpieces she creates with a brush, paint, and pure creativity. Of course we chatted about everything under the sun, but once we got to the interview it went a little something like this!…

Yumnah Najah, Jewelry Designer of Yumnah Najah Designs

1. What inspired you begin your own business making hand painted jewelry and art? Was it a hobby turned into a business?

I’ve always done business with my family growing up, but I’ve always liked fashion and art and wanted to merge the two. I love big accessories and as I would search for them, I couldn’t find any that really caught my eye. I’ve always been a painter as well so I just decided one day that I wanted to start a business. I started with a couple of pieces and then decided that I wanted to expand and really create jewelry for women who sought bold and unique jewelry; something that no one else would have.

2. What is the most difficult part of trying to manage your own business at such a young age?

The most difficult part would definitely be trying to juggle going to school full-time, commuting to and from school everyday and making sure to fill orders in a timely manner. It’s very critical that I provide quality to my customers, my business is just as important to me as school is. I have to keep the website updated as well, do promotions, attend events to network while still finding time to study. It is so fulfilling because I feel like I am making great progress.

3. I saw on your website that you have a slide show of women wearing your signature pieces, called “YND women”, what is the ideal YND woman?

My motto is “Become the masterpiece”, I really believe that it ties into the woman who embodies confidence and isn’t afraid to be noticed. They draw attention  for people to come up and ask them, “where did you get your earrings?”. Everyone deserves to be adorned with art, turned into a masterpiece. Each piece is unique just like the person who wears it and I feel that it’s more of an internal thing, it represents their inner confidence that manifests itself. It’s for ALL women. It’s how you wear it, every type of woman embraces it because they want to feel confident. Fashion is a reflection of who you are and how you feel and so my motto is not only about my earrings, but about the people who serve as a canvas.

4. When creating new pieces, what is your main source of inspiration and how do you translate that into your jewelry?

Well, I keep all of the original pieces I create and people usually order based on what they see displayed. It’s the same design concept but it’s ALWAYS different because you can never make the exact same brush stroke twice. The stroke, the texture, once a pair is painted the mold is broken and I have a new template to work from. Some original designs were inspired by paintings I did when I was applying to Pratt art school.  One of them being “Fingerprint of a Butterfly”, its been one of my top sellers. “Definition of We” is another painting I’ve done that inspired some of my jewelry paintings and “Lavender fields” is another that was actually inspired by a pair of pumps I had. I also get inspiration from magazines such as Vogue and Seventeen to get ideas for color schemes, and often times I just look around a room. None of my designs are really preconceived, I just sit and start painting. The latest designs were inspired by one of those spontaneous sittings.

5. How many collections do you currently under Yumnah Najah Designs?

I currently have two collections,  the Inception collection and the Blossom collection. While I was working on the first collection, I felt it was blossoming and that inspired the name of the second collection. It was a newness to add to the collection, I feel like when you blossom it is to develop and come into a new state, I entered new stages. I have a new collection coming soon called “the Great Migratation” which is a set inspired by Jacob lawrence’s painting collection.  

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of creating new pieces? ie. Brainstorming, creating, seeing the finished product, or selling them?

The most fulfilling part of the process is between painting when I have no clue which direction it will turn, and the the anticipation of seeing the finished product. It is also in trying to think ahead on the next stroke while painting, and later getting feedback from customers saying it’s one of a kind and inspiring. Those messages let me know that I am bringing joy to other people.

7. In planning who would be your ideal “YND” woman, how did you decide on aspects like price range, age range etc.?(target market)

It’s a business and I had to think about what I would pay for something of quality and authenticity. I did extensive  research, asked real women what they would pay for a product like the one I would produce, I consulted with boutique owners who produce products similar to mine, and other people in fashion to give me an idea of where I would define my market. I wanted to be professional and consult with people who have been there instead of relying on the opinions of people who didn’t have experience. Pricing is very fair, it takes time and EVERYTHING is hand painted from the earrings to box it is packaged in! You have to think about what your time is worth and what the women are worth who will be wearing your product.

8. What are your future goals/aspirations for Yumnah Najah Designs? Where do you see yourself/company in 5 years? 10 years?

I always feel like I’m ahead of myself, I have to pace myself , but I am always thinking of new ideas. I want my company to constantly feel alive,  I’m in the process of getting the collectiona into boutiques and I’m working on new lines that are inspired by different women in my life. They include celebs, people in the fashion industry, and of course women in my personal life. My goal right now is to continue to promote my brand so that people know it’s there. In 10 years I hope Yumnah Najah Designs will be easily accessable for purchase in many retail locations, and to develop a brand associated with a certain feeling or lifestyle. Similar to Alexander McQueen, I want people to recognize my work and its mission, quality, brand, and my visions for the line. I don’t want people to just think of it as jewelry, but what it symbolizes when they wear it.

9. Ideally, what do you want women to feel when wearing your jewelry?

I want them to feel excited, content, and that they look and feel good. I want them to feel like they are a piece of art, a masterpiece. I want them to embrace every stroke of who they are.
10. How would you describe Yumnah Najah Designs in ONE word?
One word?! … well, I once heard a quote by Konstantin Stanislavsky and part of it says, “Love the art in yourself”, it embodies what I believe and what I create in my pieces.
I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing my friend Yumnah, and I believe that she will prosper above and beyond what she even knows. She has the drive, determination and passion that will continue to propel her forward. You know I would not leave you all hanging without showing you some of Yumnah’s beautiful pieces…

“Fingerprint of a Butterfly” painting by Yumnah Najah Designs

Candace wearing the “Fingerprint of a Butterfly” inspired earrings

Snigdha wearing the “Aylah” stud from the Blossom collection

Elaine wearing “Carmel Garden” from the Blossom collection

Imani wearing “Joyous Mosaic” from the Blossom collection

Kristie is wearing “Ramila Lover” from the Inception collection

Snigdha wearing “Stained Glass Views” from the Inception collection

Candace wearing “Autumn Memoirs” from the Blossom collection

Elaine wearing the “Lomasi” stud from the Blossom collection

Kristie wearing “Vivid Vibes” from the Inception collection

Candace wearing “Afasie” studs from the Blossom collection

Snigdha wearing “Zuri” from the Blossom collection

“Great Migration”, the collection coming soon by Yumnah Najah Designs

As you can see, Yumnah really puts her ALL into the beautiful masterpieces she creates. Her dedication to providing pieces that are unique to each individual is what she stands for and many more women have been able to emvbrace a new level of confidence and beauty in wearing her pieces. To see more of Yumnah’s designs and to get updates, visit and also follow her new twitter page @YumnahNajah!

As always, thanks for reading…

Sharontina B.