Images by: Feature image: Tristan Williams Photography
BUSINESS / ORGANIZATION:
Khalilah’s Kloset, Chic & Classy Image Consulting and National Coalition of 100 Black Women of the Charlottesville Metropolitan AreaCentral Virginia
ABOUT THE BUSINESS / ORGANIZATION:At a very young age it became clear to me that there is power in your purpose. Conversely, it took a while for me to experience my ah-ha moment. I was grown-grown when I had an epiphany... there is purpose in your power!
My two powers: (1) an unyielding heart for service; and (2) an undeniable eye for style. I marry these two powers in virtually everything that I do. What sets me apart from other image consultants and brand ambassadors, is my wholehearted belief that pretty is not a look, it is a behavior! Yes, I believe that your appearance can (and should) supplement your skills, knowledge and abilities. However, I also know that external beauty is fleeting and doing what you can, when you can, for others has a far more reaching impact. I promote living with intention.
What legacy are you leaving? Are you leading a legacy living lifestyle?
THE STORY:According to my mother (whom I affectionately call Betty Bop), as a child, I had an outgoing personality, very considerate and caring about other people. Loved to dance from a very young age; at least two years old. Aspirations included being in advertising and marketing and an entrepreneur. Very good student, mostly A’s and some B’s. Avid reader. Participated in a program called Black Youth Leaders in Arizona and was the youngest participant to be voted outstanding young black leader In the program's history. Although I did play hooky from school a lot in high school, I was still an A/B student. Was the founder of a dance troupe and taught ballet, jazz, modern and hip hop for three years or so. Students and faculty always adored me.
Over the course of my entire life, I have been the go-to person regarding wardrobe styling and image consulting for friends, family and strangers alike. I came by it honest with a slick-style Chi-town native daddy and a conservative/saccharine sweet seamstress mother from Texas. In addition, my parents respectively worked in human and social services. Mix them together and you get a socially responsible, yet stylish, Khalilah!
I will not pretend that this journey has all been straight and narrow, because it has not. I am formally educated with a bachelor's degree in business administration and human resources management and an MBA in marketing. It took me a while to figure out how to do what I love without feeling frivolous or that there were more important issues in the world to address than what textiles, prints or silhouettes were the most flattering. Truth be told, there are times that I still grapple with those feelings. However, after taking on clients and recognizing the immeasurable value that my service was providing to their lives, I knew I was doing the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, my education afforded me more than just lifelong servitude to Sallie Mae. Outside of the knowledge acquired during my schooling, it also taught me discipline, time and stress management, and I definitely have to give a shout out to time blocking - whew child!
Over the years, I’ve learned to be my own hype woman! I’ve learned to promote and market myself and I’ve learned that I am my brand! I began freelance styling, and thereafter, I then joined a styling agency. After my contract was over there, I was able to focus on speaking at women’s retreats and leadership conferences, mentoring teen girls, as well as negotiating arrangements as a brand ambassador. Over time, I learned how to confidently take up space in a room. This allows me to take risks and speak up.
After moving to central Virginia and recognizing that there were no programs geared toward Black Women, I was intentional about speaking up in a strange new place, where I knew no one, and doing my part to change that. So, I found myself a charter member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women of the Charlottesville Metropolitan Area. I serve on the board as the Third Vice President of Membership, the role I have held since the chapter chartered. Our mission is to advocate on behalf of Black women and girls to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education, and economic empowerment and to build pathways to sustainable self-sufficiency, for women and girls of African descent.
We’ve worked tirelessly to ensure this happens. From kicking off our mentorship program, to facilitating a youth civic engagement forum, hosting health and wellness community fairs, storming Capitol Hill during legislative days, hosting a black doll drive and most recently raising $15,000 in five days to provide our communities with masks during our #maskupcville initiative. Needless to say, I am proud of this chapter and the work that we do. I was humbled to be recognized for my work in the organization and community as the chapter's Phenomenal Woman for 2019.
When I say pretty is not a look, it’s a behavior, this is what I mean. I spend every day performing at the sweet spot between my heart for service, aesthetics and elegance to craft experiences that go beyond a community service opportunity. I feel one of my greatest strengths is making people feel as if they are the only person in the world that matters to me during our interactions...because they are! For now, and the foreseeable future, I will continue to serve my community both literally and metaphorically!
ACCOMPLISHMENTS / ACCOLADES / AWARDS:Women of Wisdom Woman to Watch (2014)
Military Style: Dayton Daily News (2014)
Star Central Magazine Fashionista of the month (April 2016)
Featured in London LeBlanc Magazine, Volume 16
Big Brothers Big Sister’s Mentor of the month (2016)
National Coalition of 100 Black Women of the Charlottesville Metropolitan Area Phenomenal Woman of the year (2019)
Vinegar Hill Magazine Social Innovator of the year (2019)
ADVICE:As a military spouse of 15 years and all of the inevitable life shifts that comes with that, the #1 principle I live by is “bloom where you’re planted”. You will be thrust into less than ideal circumstances periodically in your life. You cannot control all aspects of all circumstances. What you CAN do is succeed anyway! What that means is recognizing that sometimes the ship you are waiting to come in, is the very ship that you have to build. Create your own opportunities and when you are able to excel, be sure to reach back and lift up others. In every aspect of my life, from home, to friendships, community service or work, these are my guiding principles. I am a strong proponent of recognizing a gap or need, establishing a way to fill it and then helping others to progress when I am able to do so.
HEROES:Naturally, the phenomenal parents I was blessed with are my heroes. Outside of my parents, I am a product of mentorship and believe I will always have mentors. Right now, I am so honored to have the opportunity to work alongside the upper echelon of high caliber women in the city of Charlottesville, particularly, in the National Coalition of 100 Black Women of the Charlottesville Metropolitan Area. What I have learned from these individuals is the importance of community and giving back. I have also learned that regardless of what comes along to deter you, do what you can, when you can, with what you have!