Traveling the world in 2013, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and maxing with a slew of the globes most eclectic and enigmatic individuals. Paired with eyes essential to the scope of peculiar style, personality and flavor, living in Europe this year danced plenty of interesting folks across my path.
As to one of the main headliners of my Parisian adventures, honing with plenty of curly haired magic and electric grace rides blogger and natural hair sensation: Rene Daniella Askew, aka OwnByFemme.
Based in Paris, Rene has roots stretching from England to the USA.
With a charming smile, model-girl glamour, and a near 12,000 follower influence- OwnByFemme sets the bar high for melochromatic vibor, international flavor and swirling crowns of perfection.
From the very first time that I met Rene, she has beamed with an inextinguishable luster for loving and living life! And not the corny Kumbaya, save-the-world way either. More like the pack your bags, get up and go with the flow, bat your eyelashes and wake up sipping Mai tai’s in a two-piece bikini on a beach in Brazil.
The story behind Rene’s OwnByFemme alter ego:
“I had an associate of mine who used to say ‘Own it’ all the time and I didn’t really appreciate it, as I thought it was somewhat pretentious. He was really into fashion and so he generally used it in reference to style and flashy namebrand outfits and standing out in crowds etc. Kind of “owning the scene” in a sense which I thought was somewhat superficial. One thing I always recognized him for though was his strong sense of confidence and self worth. Unfortunately, a few years ago he fell ill and passed away which came as quite a shock as he seemed perfectly healthy up until a few weeks prior.
His passing reminded me that life is short, too short to not live confidently as he did, too short to not appreciate yourself and your capabilities, to not kind of define your own intellectual identity and to embrace your flaws and take what you can do/ like to do and, in a sense, own them.
So from that point on I adopted the lifestyle mentality that, in regards to any and everything I do, I will Own it. And big hair fit right into it 😉
This “Own It” mentality along with my growing sense or urgency to understand what being a strong independent woman really means, and means to ME I should say, not just the general public, became a big influence and motivation in how I live my life.” -Rene
[Above: Rene in Prague, October 2013]
How Tony Triumph met OwnbyFemme:
It was Paris Fashion Week, Feb 2013. Rene and I were two of the only few people of color in the room. I had RSVP’d and gotten confirmed to cover at least 3 major shows that day, but I hadn’t been able to attend any of them. Ground Zero was one of the ones I had missed that morning. Finally stepping out for a good time, the rooms energy was snark and a semi-uninviting. A mix of guests were handing me looks as if to say, “who is this guy“, some with their noses stuck up in the air. Little did I know that prude behavior and lack of excitement were key in the personality of the french.
Just as I made my way to the bar, I was approached by a photographer speaking French. I thought he was just being friendly, and giving me a compliment so merely replied with a head nod and a smile.
“Oh, english?” He said. “Yes” I replied, with a guilty look. I felt let down, because at this point I had personally agreed that I should know enough french greetings to get me by.
“Oh nice! Who are you? My editor is dying to meet you. She made me follow you around. Your style’s amazing by the way.”
From this point forth, a conversation commenced and the next hand I was to shake would be of Qianna Smith, the editor of Nordstroms.com.
In town for Fashion Week, and seemingly excited to run into some fellow stylish Americans, Qianna explained a special story that she was working on, which was to include a Fashion Week blogger recap to be featured on Nordstroms.com. Rene and I had the biggest(and only) afro’s in the room, which motivated Qianna to bring us together!
So, as her photographer took me and Rene’s photo, a flashing horde of additional men with camera’s clicked away. Including a few photographers from Sipa Press, as seen above.
But before this photo-op even went down, I had long spotted Rene from across the room. Full of life and good cheer, she was standing under a light with a crowd of people around her. At first glimpse, I snapped a photo of her as I assumed she was some up & coming french artist or a local celeb. She owned the room!
We eventually joined forces and instagrammed the night away. Vowing curly haired matrimony- till curls do us part! 😉
Before I knew it, my doses of OwnbyFemme had increased to a weekly basis. An inseparable friendship had born!
We posed for endless pics in bright Spring colors, underneath world famous landmarks….
…often painting the canvas for unending smiles, amid of our of non-stop buzz from having the worlds greatest landmarks just a click away.
We took dozens of photos at, under, and around the Eiffel Tower every time we would hang out..
…and often scrambled upon messages of love along the Seine River…
…. which struck light on the identical pathwayss we were both pursuing here in France.
Our mile wide smiles and stylish profiles were more then enough decor for the city of Paris…
The curl connection continued in New York over this past summer, as Rene and I crossed during a parody of trendy events like the Everyday People Brunch Party + dinner parties @ Miss Lillies, a popular jamaican creole spot in SOHO.
As Rene often says, “The Curl community stays tight!”, all across the globe. Though as for the daily inspiration that I take away from my friendship with @OwnbyFemme, it stands priceless. I mentioned earlier that OwnbyFemme is far from the Kumbaya type, but the levels of positive synergy that I get from this girl are always enough to keep me grounded. Rene is truly a gem, and I look forward to watching her OwnByFemme brand catapult into a multicultural source of female identity and enlightenment.
For more on @Ownbyfemme, check out her website here.
Wishing a very happy Birthday to the one & only Rene aka OwnbyFemme!