MEET ALEX AND MILANA. SNEAKHER BOSS BABES. CHICKSPIRATION ADVOCATES. CONTENT CREATORS. INNOVATIVE BFFs.
At CNK, it's so important to use our platform to elevate, empower, and inspire others. At times, the best way to accomplish that is by connecting with different women to tell their story. There are so many amazing women in our community, it's only right to highlight a dynamic duo on the last day of 2018. Not only do they inspire us at CNK Daily with fly sneakHER styles, but they continue to prove that a great work ethic and unstoppable drive can get you places. We are all about inclusivity and positive vibes in the new year, and these ladies embody those attributes through their strong sisterhood and new brand - VAINGLORY.
You may know Alex and Milana by their IG names - @gangsta_toast and @zakooties (ring a bell)? I remember aimlessly scrolling through Instagram one day and doing a double take when landing on their pages. Who are these shawties?! Their effortless style stood out and it's obvious how their creative spirits have translated into a new business venture. Remember the Girl Gang Box Purse we were swooning about over about a week ago?
Alex and Milana are the masterminds behind it. We were honored to have the opportunity to chat with both ladies on the birth of VAINGLORY, personal style, and inspiring others through the sneakHER game. Check out the interview, in their own words, below.
CONNECTING THE DOTS THROUGH SNEAKERS…
ALEX: My name is Alex and I am 28 years old. I was born and raised in Harrisburg but moved to Philadelphia 9 years ago to go to college. I started to seriously get involved in streetwear and sneaker culture when I got a part-time job at a streetwear boutique called UBIQ in 2011. I met my best friend Milly (Milana) there and we worked together in the shop for 3 years. UBIQ was the epicenter of all things streetwear. I grew an admiration for sneaker collectors especially the ones who would camp out every weekend for whatever release was dropping. Sneaker culture was a lifestyle that had me hooked at the age of 19. Sneakers are my life.
MILANA: My name is Milana & I’m 26 years old from West Philadelphia - born & raised lol. Honestly I’ve always been attracted to sneakers since 6th grade. Growing up we didn’t have it like that so I always envied the sneakers that my classmates wore. As I got older I became more in-tuned with the sneaker realm and right when I started college in 2010, I got my first retail job at UBIQ. It was over from there.
THE STATE OF [SISTERLY] LOVE…
ALEX: Philadelphia definitely has a certain style and vibe. Philly likes to be comfortable. I feel like we layer alot here. We wear layers and when we dress up we still wear sneakers no matter what. Even with dresses and skirts we still wear sneakers of some sort. Just like New York we are constantly on the move speed walking everywhere. We have to have comfortable footwear because we never stop moving.
MILANA: I think living on the East coast, I’m more versed in different ways to pull abstract pieces together. Being exposed to different weather challenges you to create something unique for yourself. I layer like no other, haha. I find myself putting more “ugly-cute” combinations together because I’m testing the fashionable waters. Philly fashion is interesting, It’s a lot of “brand name” on the shirt, and the sleeve, and the pants. You’ll find people in full branded matching sets with some sneaks or Buttas, but I think that’s what drives my personal style. I’ve steered away from the full branded sets, and the body con dresses, but I like to incorporate those elements into my fits and find a different way to accentuate my style.
SHOW ‘EM HOW TO MOVE IN A ROOM FULL OF VULTURES…
ALEX: Something I realized this past year is that no one can help you more than yourself. You have to create opportunities rather than wait for someone to create them for you. You have to invest in yourself and constantly live outside of your comfort zone. Never ever be comfortable where you are. Always strive for more but also help as many people as you can along the way. A friend once told me that the true measure of success isn't when you are blessed, but when you can pass blessings to others. These words constantly resonate with me and are why I seriously started to invest in myself and my abilities.
MILANA: Alex & I have really struggled to find our place in this industry. We both have been working in this field for over 15 years combined, but we both have risen in the ranks & been able to show our companies where our value & worth is. Showing up, coming prepared, and proving your worth are KEY to creating your own lane in this industry. If you can’t speak to your craft, if you can’t back up your reasoning, if you can’t show up to the table - how do you expect to keep your seat? Always come prepared to give your opinion & values and STICK WITH IT. It’s more valuable than you think.
ON THE BIRTH OF VAINGLORY…
ALEX: So the word "vain" is represented in society as being a negative thing for the most part. However, we feel it is important for people to be vain in regards to having self-love for yourself. There have been times in the past where I didn't fully love myself. I let people use me and treat me less than what I was worth and I had to learn the hard way how to regain my sense of self. I want people to see the positivity in being vain and feel the glory of following there dreams no matter how crazy they are.
MILANA: Alex & I always talked about how male-focused this industry is & how we felt there needed to be a better female presence. We wanted something that offered product that fashion-forward girls like us can appreciate and be happy to rock with! Most brands that we are familiar with or buy into are male-driven, but where are the female designers offering the product that we love to wear? So one day when we were sitting on her couch, we just decided to press GO. We honed in on “Vain” because of the negative stigma it’s given, but we see it as a positive term. Looking deeper into the term vain we came across Vainglory and it’s meaning really resonated with us. it means to be excessively proud of your own achievements. We don’t do that often and we are our own worst critics, so everyone needs to take the time to look within themselves & be a little vainglorious.
THEY’RE A BUSINESS… MAAAN.
ALEX: For me it's about problem solving. My main goal before we even started Vainglory was to just create things that I couldn't find in stores or online. I love DIY and making things that can accent my style. I love Nike but they dont make alot of things like jewelry or purses so I like to just do it myself by finding materials separately on ebay or etsy and put them all together to create something new and different. I hope to continue to turn all the chaos that's inside of my mind into tangible things and to get these things into the hands of people who appreciate them and can relate to my vision.
MILANA: I have more of the quirky, whimsical taste. I love bold and bright colors that accentuate a piece, and I have very forward ideas when it comes to grabbing peoples attention. For our next collection which we literally just finalized last night, you’ll see more of the asymmetry & pop colors to feature during Spring ’19. We’ll also be introducing apparel and we’ve been working on some collaborations for 2019 so sign up for our newsletter!
SNEAKHER ROTATION IN 3…2…1
#1. Air Jordan 1 "Viotech"
#2. Nike Air Max 1 Atmos "Elephant"
#3. Vans Old-Skool (Old Reliable)
#1. Volt Off-White Air Force 1s (have been heavyyy for me right now)
#2. 2013 Bred Air Jordan 1s (you always that Jordan 1 in the rotation)
#3. Blush 500s are a necessity. (So simple, but they literally go with anything)
SHOP THE SNEAKERS BELOW
FOR US, BY US…
ALEX: For me the ability to be innovative and create quality products is what drives me. I feel like the market right now is so saturated with all the same things and it becomes stifling at times. I want to see more one-of-a-kind products. Things that people can marvel at and feel something for.
MILANA: My drive comes from the elation I get from people when there’s that perfect item they’re in love with. I’m the women’s buyer for a male-dominated boutique and to hear how happy women are to have a dope space offering clothes & sneakers they’d actually wear, well it really moves me. I want to see more unique items like Yoon offers with Ambush. Their items are different, but work so well altogether.
MAJOR KEYS FOR THE SHAWTIES…
ALEX: Don't let the fear of the what ifs stop you from fulfilling the way that is you. Keep your eyes on whats in front of you and not whats in the rearview. Also take every opportunity no matter how small or big. Each opportunity will teach you something and knowledge is power. Absorb as much knowledge as you can from everywhere and pass on that knowledge to the best of your abilities.
MILANA: Be assertive - ask for what you want, even if you get denied there will be that one person, that one company, that can say yes and change it all for you. Make connections with people - those friends you made in college, those work friends, your old managers. And always follow-up! I remember watching an Issa Rae interview and something she said really resonated with me. She basically said to make lateral connections & not try to connect vertically. The lateral connections are those you make with your friends, your teachers, your co-workers. You have a better opportunity to build with those you’re already in-tuned with rather than reaching out to these high-profile celebrities or influencers to try and sell your product or an idea.
Micro-influencers are just as influential, if not more influential than these high-level influencers. We as business savvy individuals need to remember that & work with friends and colleagues to build our legacy.
WHAT DOES SNEAKHER CULTURE MEAN TO YOU?
ALEX: SneakHER Culture for me is a community. It's a community of women that empower not just women but everyone to be great at what they do. It means to take pride in who you are and to never settle for less than what you deserve.
MILANA: SneakHer Culture means offering your time and resources to build up others in this amazing community of people. For me that’s how I made a lot of the connections I have now, from going to sneaker shows and just commenting on a girls photo on instagram. We’re such an amazing community of people and I love to see how we all link up to create this safe space.
Want to connect more with Alex and Milana’s brand?
VAINGLORY SITE - CLICK HERE
VAINGLORY INSTAGRAM - CLICK HERE
WE’RE NOT DONE… ISSA GIVEAWAY!!
If you missed the chance to grab one of VAINGLORY’S Girl Gang Box purses (that sold out within 24 hours) - no worries! Our goal is to keep you fly going into 2019. We have teamed up with the ladies to give away one box to a lucky winner. Stay tuned to the CNK Daily Instagram for more details on how to enter + win. Good Luck!
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