Dr. Mikaila Brown has done it all. She created her own fashion line, has a doctorate in Anthropology and Education, is a professor at Cornell University, and runs cultural fashion tours in cities across the US.
From a team of driven creatives to another, we interview Dr. Brown and find out how she's pursuing her own version of #realityisextraordinary.
What do you do?
I run my own company called The Common Thread Project, which highlights cultural diversities within the fashion industry by investigating the style trends of local, underrepresented fashion communities. I share this knowledge with the public by offering cultural shopping tours through AirBnB’s new experiential arm.
I am also a senior lecturer in Cornell University's Fiber Science and Apparel Design department.
What do you love about what you do?
Everything, but I most appreciate the fact that my company plays to all my specific interest and strengths and that it’s created a like-minded community of supporters.
Where are you from?
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
I have a BA from the University of Pennsylvania where I majored in Communications with a concentration in Culture and minored in Urban Education.
I also have a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Education from Columbia University.
Favorite AMERICAE Items and why?
Who do you think embodies the AMERICAE women and why?
Confidence. I find AMERICAE's products to be really avant-garde and uncommon in the best way. It takes a bold women to step outside of the box and break with convention. AMERICAE women are definitely trendsetters. [Editors note: and rule breakers. A previous interviewee called AMERICAE women the "titans of tomorrow."]
Describe your style and why it is authentically you?
Feminine edge. It is authentically me because I am a study in paradoxes, like most women. I am an extravert that deeply values my alone time. I’m usually the loudest person in the room but am fiercely private. Being both feminine and edgy exemplifies who I am, because I’m a complete girlie girl not afraid to flex with the entitlement of a badass man.
What drives you?
A few things drive me. The first is a commitment to my community. I lean unapologetically into being a minority woman and I feel constantly compelled to highlight and better the experiences of those who look like me. The second thing that drives me is a calling to make a tangible impact on the world on my own terms.
What’s on your bookshelf?
My bookshelf is as eclectic as I am. Besides all of the philosophical and classical reads I gathered during my graduate schooling, you’ll find a ton of spiritual books. I’m currently reading "Dare to Lead" by Brené Brown for the second time.
Next or favorite travel destination?
Favorite travel destinations include: Rome (Italy), Zanzibar (Tanzania), & Geneva (Switzerland).
What’s next for you?
On a macro level, my next step is to start a cycle of fundraising towards the hiring of a business manager so that I have the team necessary for expanding my business.
On a micro level, I am launching my cultural shopping tours in Atlanta in a few weeks and in LA at the end of this year. I am running a workshop with FIT in the Fall discussing the effects of gentrification on marginalized fashion communities.
What’s your personal motto or what message would you like to share with women?
In Jamaica, we have an idiom that says “What’s for you, can’t be un-for you”, meaning that you can’t miss out on anything that is your destiny. As someone who has lived an unconventional life and has built an unconventional career, this saying reminds me to trust forces bigger than myself and never worry that I’ll miss out on anything because I took the road less traveled.
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