Who’s Inspiring Us Right Now

by Charisse Kenion
who's inspiring us

Image: Ashley Johnson


Right now, it’s all about restoration on ATPB; from what we do with our bodies and our skin, to how we’re spending our time, and who with. For me, the end of the year is the perfect time to go through my social media feeds and check out who I’m following. It’s important for me to have a timeline that delivers on an inspirational and aspirational level and the end of the year is the perfect time to hit unfollow on accounts that either distract me, or just don’t make me feel great about myself.


Inspiring Women on Instagram

As we enter a period that’s a preparatory phase for the year ahead, I wanted to share some of the women who are seriously kicking ass within their own industries. Read on for some serious inspiration!


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anj v Mark Rothko: a concept, a vibe. #anjvrothko

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Ashley Johnson, Photographer and Craftswoman

For the past few years, I’ve been a huge fan of Ashley’s photography and Instagram. In fact, she inspired me to hold my first photography exhibition. Her work is truly beautiful and she’s become especially known for her maternity shoots – all women are queens in front of her lens. When she isn’t creating iconic imagery she’s using her creativity over on her food account @hiaj.eats and creating pretty homewares such as cushions, pillows and ceramics, sold via @coolandbrownshop.  

Instagram dies tomorrow; where do you go for inspiration?
Ashley: Instagram doesn’t inspire me at all, so if it no longer existed I’d continue finding inspiration where I always have: Pinterest, galleries, thoughtful events, travel, beautiful shows, cinematography, magazines, great websites/blogs—there are so many places to feel inspired both inside and outside of media. 


Ryan Norville, Florist at Oat Cinnamon 

Scrolling through Ryan Norville’s creations on her website you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled on the most beautiful moodboard, and not, in fact, an online shop. Her style makes total sense when you learn that she made her way to floristry via design and photography. 

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be where you are?

Ryan: If someone would like to be where I am in terms of working for themselves, or pursuing a passion independently, it’s necessary to be willing to start from square one. If you are building something totally new you have to let being uncomfortable be your new normal. There is also a level of patience needed when building something of your own and you have to be honest with yourself. If you’re doing everything you can to work toward your goals simultaneously, then you have to allow time for the process to work. Anything worth having takes a significant amount of time, and that looks different for everyone.


Kia Damon, Chef and Culinary Director at Cherry Bombe

I first stumbled across Floridian Kia’s work when I was searching for food inspo on one of those rainy, cloudy days when only that sunny Cali-latin cuisine will do. As well as creating food that inspires, New York-based Kia is also Culinary Director of the gorgeous Cherry Bombe magazine.


What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be where you are?

Kia: Don’t be afraid to create something you’ve never seen before and don’t hesitate to say ‘no’ to opportunities that don’t feel right. Find your community – your close, true friends – and lean into them. Talk to them when things are going well and especially when they aren’t. It’s easy to get caught up in the noise and the voices of industries, so make sure you have your people. Lastly, just be you! Some folks will love it and some will hate it…but you won’t have any regrets.

Diarrha N’Diaye, formerly at Glossier and currently working on her own brand Ami Cole

New Yorker Diarrha is someone who truly inspires and comes across as just so, well, nice. When I interviewed her for my podcast, I was inspired by her version of being kind and working with a ‘glass-half-full’ attitude and how that translated to getting the job done and doing it with style and grace. Diarrha has worked at the likes of L’Oréal and Glossier and knows both the social strategy side and the lab side of the beauty industry, so it was only a matter of time that she created her own beauty line, Ami Cole, named after her mother and inspired by her home, Senegal.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are?
Diarrha: Spend time alone to really get to know who you are, what you want and, more importantly, what you don’t want. This clarity creates a stillness within. I call it my spiritual bank. When I’m stressed out or feeling doubtful this bank serves as my internal reminder and fuels me to keep going. Because at the end of the day, that’s the goal: to keep going. Once you gain this clarity promise yourself to accomplish one thing towards your dream, every day. That one thing could be as small as responding to an email or as big as filing a trademark. Each one will bring you closer to the end goal.


Karen Blanchard, Style Blogger and YouTuber

Karen Blanchard’s style is rooted in vintage finds and modern classics, and above all, finding a working wardrobe that works for you. On any given day this Londoner-living-in-New York could be rocking head to toe denim, showing us how she wears her favorite white shirt, or diving into full-on seventies glamour via prints and corduroy, complemented by her signature caramel curls.


Instagram dies tomorrow; where do you go for your inspiration?
Karen: The streets of New York! But actually most streets in major cities. I miss (fashion/street photographer) Bill Cunningham terribly, but I completely agreed with him that the real fashion and the real stars are on the street. It always has been and it always will. Bill summed up my sentiments 100 percent.


Subrina Ejoke, Vintage Expert @subrinaheyinkvintage

If you’re a vintage lover, you’ll know that there are levels when it comes to shopping for it, and if your faves are more Jean Paul Gaultier, Norma Kamali and Moschino than recycled H&M and Ralph Lauren polos, you’re probably already following Subrina Ejoke. 


Instagram dies tomorrow – where do you go for inspiration?
I’ve stopped using Instagram for my inspiration. I log in to post and log out when I’m done. I watch all the ‘80s and ‘90s films and TV shows for outfit inspiration. Also, thank goodness for eBay – I find old magazines in bulk and I buy them for inspiration. Pinterest is also great and sometimes I’ll invest in a good fashion book. When I lived in New York, I would hang out at McNally Jackson, looking through expensive fashion books from Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang and Giorgio Armani (my favorite) for hours. Vogue Runway is my holy grail and lastly, YouTube has some old runway shows that you can’t find elsewhere. I spend my evenings sometimes watching the shows for inspiration so I know what to keep an eye out for. 


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Holding personal boundaries is an act of love 👼🏽 Or so I've heard from living angels… Today I absorbed so much wisdom from @russellbrand's 'Under the Skin' podcast. I can't give it a high enough praise! Do you know what the most compassionate people in the world all have in common? _ I found out from the latest episode with @brenebrown. She's a sociologists and widely know for her TED Talk on vulnerability, courage, and shame. I could go on and on about how incredible she is, but just hear her. _ Anyway, promoting things that matter has never mattered to me more. Even in plugging this podcast, it feels necessary because it's a difficult time to find role models. Everyone is flawed; however, those who are brave enough to learn their flaws more intimately, work through them, and ALSO help OTHERS through theirs are people I admire; true angels. Photo by @lowenbraat

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Anisa Benitez, Brand Marketing Manager at YouTube Music and Founder of More by Her

Anisa is an expert in her field; currently brand marketing manager at YouTube Music, her career has seen her lead marketing for brands such as Time Magazine, Google and RCA Records under Sony Music Entertainment. She’s an entrepreneur and creative director and she’s also launched her own platform, More by Her, to answer the growing need for a place where women creatives can find and inspire one another. 

Favorite way to find peace when life/work becomes overwhelming?

Anisa: Dancing to good music! I’ll get to a dance class or I just put on tunes and groove in the mirror at home. Just 15 minutes of dancing is the therapy I need to feel restored and remind myself that life is about these simple joys. 


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@damihaha took this

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Joy Matashi, Hair Creative

Irreverent, inventive and supremely talented, I’ve been watching Joy Matashi work on Instagram and am always blown away by her creations. As someone who’s been lucky enough to write about the hair industry for 10+ years, I’ve met many a hair creator, but few are as daring as Joy. Currently living between London and Abuja, Nigeria, the self-taught hair artist puts her style down to her background as a multidisciplinary artist, working in architecture and graphic design. She’s also got a pretty cool personal Instagram project, @blackgirlslovepink, featuring beautifully curated images of black women in various shades of pink.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are?
Joy: Pray! Buy one of those Cloud 9 straighteners that switch on when you click-click it twice, post something online, wing it, then move to another country!


Related All the Pretty Birds Inspirational Women Posts:

Firsts: Kenya Hunt & Florence Adepoju

What Makes Style Blogger Taye Hansberry So Awesome

Pretty Birds: Sherri McMullen

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

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