I am an Emissary of the Future


So… I am all signed-up to be an Emissary of the Future with the United States Department of Art and Culture. Isn’t that title exciting? Kinda. Technically, it means I am putting myself on front street for the love of my community and social justice for all. As an artivist in the community I see so many connections to solutions through the arts.

Art is not just beautifying a neighborhood where blight resides. It is a movement… hell is it is movement. The sooner that is realized the sooner solutions are realized. Think about the possibilities. What does doing better look like?

The city of DC is currently renovating The Strand Theatre at the corner of Division and Nannie Helen Burroughs. The Strand was once a movie theatre and meeting spot for African American families East of the River in the Deanwood and surrounding communities. It has been sitting since it closed in 1959. That is 55 plus years that this historical landmark has looked quite less than stellar.

To go from dank to spankin new and fresh not only revitalizes that building but it revitalizes those passersby. When you see dilapidated buildings, trash, broken fixtures and blight in your community it makes you feel unworthy and neglected just like those buildings. Living day in and day out like this creates a lack mentality. Art is the beginning of that solution. It helps you dream in possibilities.

Being an Emissary to the Future, I want to get the community to put on some imagination specs and get the ball rolling on progress. Stop waiting for officials to decide what they will do show them some action about WHAT YOU WANT DONE.

Stay tuned as the plans for the #DaretoImagine project comes together I will be giving updates and countdowns!

The Cover Up

We learn certain behaviors from our families that we may not recognize as detrimental because it is so common place. To be honest this post will probably include some of that good ole cover magic that I am discussing here. Why do we do it? Are the secrets learned? Do we just do it to protect our ego?

These are questions I ask myself when I feel depressed or completely out of sorts. The mask we put on is preserving what exactly? Pain, embarrassment,  possible  ridicule. More than likely all of those things. America is famous for wearing the mask. If you take a look at all of the issues around the United States alone you will realize that mask is so withered and crack that the truth is shining through.

I ask, is this mask healthy or are we simply use to the fit? I can remember being a loud kid in the house. I would just be having fun. I can not remember specifics of what I would say but I do remember my grandmother saying “Shh, Kimmie the neighbors will hear you.” I didn’t care. I mean weren’t we in our own house? We lived in an old home and I doubt back then the walls were so thin that they could hear us. I never heard them other than the band rehearsals in the basement. Even then we would actually sing along. We were tight with our neighbors.

But the privacy of families is more complicated than it has to be. Family secrets, concealing ailments,  all kinds of stuff that could be helpful in human connection. Not everyone needs to know our business.  That is the rule of thumb. No one ever wants to appear lesser in the eyes of their neighbors. Or be pitied because they are down on their luck. It happens to everyone. One turn of events can have us high on the totem pole and another can have us scraping the bottom of the barrel. But no one would ever know.

I have always joked that Black folks can step out of the house dressed to the nines even if at home they ain’t got no lights or a kernel of corn to eat. Pride is a constant in the Black community especially in looking the part. If we look good everyone will believe we are good. That is definitely multi-leveled.

What happens if we are vulnerable and share our hardships? Ultimately,  I believe  that there will be folks that are in your corner and others you will realize who are not. I have been blessed to experience it and still do not have the words. I know there are not always those who want to see you shine. I can’t stand the term haters but… Well let’s just say they are not happy with themselves so how could they even stand to be in the shadow of your light. The sad thing is that there is enough light to go around and if we all shine there would be no shadows.

The rumor mill may run off at the mouth. That is the nature of some but more often than not they will find themselves in need at some point. Karma is real. I do know this though we can not expect to experience a blessing if we don’t open our mouths to ask for what we need or un-clinch our fists to receive.

Check out my finds in the sondai souq

Eye Wear

I wear glasses…


So… I have a strong affinity for eye wear. I call these beauties “Pearly Victorious”. I was worried that they would be to light but they actually look pretty good  (to say so myself). These are a fashion accessory I can’t see (going) without.

I have a style icon. I think most fashion conscious culture iris apfel_2people do. Mine is Iris Apfel! She is a style maven. Her glasses are iconic. Many figure her to be in the fashion industry but if you take a closer look you realize she does not have the trappings of fashion but that of style. An interior designer, Apfel wears what she likes, and among her likes are  her iconic glasses not to mention her baubles and trinkets.


Jill Scott and her Tom Ford glasses as seen on The View.

Everyone loves to add on to their look. More and more celebrities are being more fashionable with great specs. There is a resurgence of folks that have to ask… “Do they have medicine in them?” For me the answer is…Yes, I need the medicine. The interesting thing is as a youngster… glasses were not this cool. I always sought unique frames though. My philosophy is since I have to wear them and the people I come across have to see them… they might as well be entertaining. I feel like why not give folks something fun to look at.

If you want to create a signature look and you are a glasses wearer like moi… Zenni Optical is your friend. There are other friends in my arsenal like Warby Parker, Coastal, See… but Zenni and I have a relationship. We get along well. More times than not without trying the frames on I am satisfied and ecstatic at the fit and the look.

Look at these fabulous EyeBaubles!!! Or what about this EyeCandy? Try them. Zenni Optical has great glasses at low prices. These maybe next…

Don’t leave the kids out…

The Sondai Souq

Sondai Keeps MONEY in your Pocket

snowflake (1)Small Business Shots Regular $375 Summer Special $200

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You have been kissed by the sun and your looking quite amazing and are ready for you and the family to take that summer portrait. We can help you capture Summer 2015.

*Going on vacation and want your own professional photographer to capture moments of your trip worry free?

Email sondai.photo@gmail.com today for your appointment!

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Watch Sondai on #Periscope


I have slowly… NO… I take that back, quickly become addicted to the world of #Periscope. One of my new scoper gurus said “It is the best place for free professional development and entertainment.” Thanks Chalene Johnson.

YES! Depending on who you follow you can “get your life” on Periscope. From messages for the spirit, live coaching, tips on building and maintaining your brand, the platform is an excellent tool and can be a great way to expand your career.

I will be posting my first #Periscope soon and I am looking to provide topics that are of value! The nuggets of knowledge that I have seen on this app have been invaluable. From @JessFozard in Australia, to @trendysocialite in North Carolina and @NapturalNicole in Baltimore, Periscope has great information and community building. Truth be told there is huge value to it.

So check download the app, and check for the “Sondai Sessions” Live on Periscope coming soon! I will be talking S.A.S – Spirit, Art & Style.

Gosh… putting it here makes it real. Whoa! I have that nervous out of my comfort zone excitement.

Check out my finds in the sondai souq

Night Club Art Exhibitions Don’t Pay Artists

The combination is actually illogical. Night clubs are multi-purposed venues but, art seller is not one of them. While I appreciate the out of the box sentiment that promoters and night club owners have, this forcing of culture is not progressing artist’s careers. In fact, it may very well be pigeon-holing or exploiting the artist by using them as atmosphere or a gimmick making the establishment seem like the “it” place to be.

It is a level of respect for the artist. Show them in the best possible light. You wouldn’t put this Ruud van Empel Dawn #1 piece in a night club.

There are strong drinks and uncontrolled patrons, the arts connoisseur is not there to squint at labels or at paintings for that matter, they are there to shake what the good lord gave them. At this point it has been done. Admittedly, I have seen it done well in some cases. I can not deny that the artist was truly thought about in these situations. I have also seen it done horribly with an artist live painting stuck up in a corner and disrespected by drunken night club goers. Do not be mistaken, I am talking full blown night club here, not gallery parties or buildings converted into gallery spaces. Even though, sometimes the party gets a little too “crunk” in this spaces as well.

YES! Art most of the time equates to a jovial atmosphere. It is a celebration of talent, accomplishment and life on a wall, canvas, pallet, glass or anything else an artist can create upon. These night club exhibitions don’t really allow the work to be seen. Indeed, accolades are awesome, having people surrounding you and smiling, and instagramming pictures with “the artist”, that is cool too. But at the end of the day art for an artist is business. The business is the sale of art. They can’t live off of fun times at the night club.

The point is, the artist must be mindful of their audience and how to reach them. Of course, millionaires are not relegated to galleries. This day an age they walk among us. However, for the artists, please think about perception and presentation. If your art fits in the night club atmosphere and the owner is willing to purchase your pieces to adorn their walls, by all means DO IT. Otherwise please stop with this gallery quality work being installed in spots with rum and coke stained floors and (potentially) art.

Check out my finds in the sondai souq

So This Work is Called Arts Management, huh?


Skai, Jati Lindsey, Kokayi, N’digo Rose and Fred Joiner

In the late 90’s I was but a babe on U Street. Roaming the northwest quadrant of DC thinking that I was a part of a Renaissance of arts and culture. To a certain degree I was, however, the proven renaissance was not what I originally expected. U Street underwent change for sure, so much so that it changed myself and my peers right out of the neighborhood.

But oh how nice it was then? We worked in unison. Every night of the week was a different spot. From Mango’s (now Jin) to Kafa House (now some Italian market)… Bar Nun (now Pure) and the meeting place State of the Union (not sure what is coming next). There was the weekend flea market that took over the parking lot next to Republic Gardens night club (now The Ellington Condos) and movers and shakers, shops and craftsmen that sold everything from shoes to semi-precious stones and metals.

bilal salaam

bilal salaam

In the beginning, I was an observer. A fly on the wall documenting the “scene” through the photographic lens as it unfolded before my eyes. Independently published works from W. Ellington Felton and Raquel Brown (which I still have), poetry sets, Groove Gumbo, Sam the Man Burns, websites like Divine Cipher and our northern neighbors OkayPlayer. Folks bearing their expression on their sleeve and a mixture of art and culture that was attractive to many far and wide.



It was around 1999 when I met a painter who was prolific from the start. Work covered the spaces that he occupied and then some. So many pieces! He gave me his card. One day after meeting him I saw one of the pieces on a tee-shirt. I was like that’s whats up. He is really hustling. So I hit him.

“Yo, I just saw your tee-shirt!” I say ecstatically on the line.

“Kim, what are you talking about?” he replied. (or something to that effect. It was a long time ago.)

He then told me how that night we met the dudes who were helping him with transporting his stuff, marketing, shows, etc. pretty much held his work hostage and were now making money off of his work by creating these tee-shirts. I was outraged for him and me both. It compelled me to helping artists on the business side of things while they maintained their art. I put my best foot forward…

‘You needed a flyer? I got you!’

‘You needed a bio? Word, I got you!’

‘You need a press release… hang on, how is that done? Ok I got you!’

PhotoScan (2)

Source Magazine article with cast of Kamilah Forbes’ Rhyme Deferred cast

But I realize, I have always been doing that work. I pride myself on being a trustworthy supporter of the arts and of artists by putting that sweat equity in so artists don’t wind up with the short end of the stick. It didn’t have a name to me then nor did it lend itself to a livelihood. But over the years, I have been a worker bee in servitude to what I think are just causes in the arts.

There have been some misfires and certainly some disappointing ventures but consistency, for me, remains. Dear artist, “I got you”, on the business end. Publications, brochures, marketing, social media, press releases, PACKAGING… I know that all an artist really wants to do is create. That drive exists within me too. Worrying about positioning, branding and audience is not at the forefront of their mind. For me I get excited to see an artist get the recognition that I think is highly deserved.

Matt 25:14-30 talks about the Parable of the Talents. I know and live to use those gifts that God has given me for the purpose of “my community”. That is my art. While I have been blessed with many talents I know that “to whom much is given, much is required.” I use my talent to create within and culturally preserve my community and further highlight the arts. Thanks to that Masters degree from SCAD I have something to call it now.

Typically, we continue on a path that really doesn’t allow us to stop and think about the threads we have woven, we just continue to weave. But when you take some time to think things over… You see the work you have done, the patterns, the shifts, the near disasters and the overall good that has come from the work.

As for the ’90s and my old stomping grounds, I blame it on youth. The saying is “youth is wasted on the young” right? I get it. The point is “if I knew then…” I would have done some things differently. U Street would have been a very different place then and now.

Check out my finds in the sondai souq

It’s pronounced…

sundie pronounce

I credit southern girl Gaytra Arnold with my company name. We were sitting on the campus of Howard University coming up with business ideas and company names. She liked a few other names but to me sondai stuck. It was defined as “keep pushing forward”. I was smitten from there on, it was a directive and I was compelled to do so. It was a time were I was making new waves in my life, moving to DC sight unseen, being a college student with no supervision and so many new people and perspectives. Sondai told me to keep going regardless of not being able to see the land from which I came but continue on to greater expeditions to come.

How could that not become my mantra and business name? 

I come from a great tradition of healers, freedom fighters, educators and abolitionists, it is in my DNA to keep pushing forward. Before sondai was discovered I would always tell myself “failure is not an option”. I have faltered, fallen on both knees and found myself in some precarious predicaments, but my persistence has seen me through.

So when you hear the name sondai… it is a testimony to my continuance.

The Sondai Souq