Wednesday, February 19, 2014

C&C Style Club: Venita Aspen

Meet Venita Aspen, a barely 20­something year old who has accomplished much more than the
average woman of her age. Oh yeah, she's a pretty snazzy dresser to boot. We cover everything
from her fool­proof strategy to avoid wardrobe malfunctions, why "Coraline" is the most stylish
movie ever, and 100 ways (kind of) to make sandwiches.

Age: 20
Full time student
Restaurant Hostess
United colors of fashion manager of development
Model coach assistant for CFW
Editorial assistant for

"Waking up. That's inspiring. Because not
everybody has the opportunity to wake up so
when I wake up I'm inspired, like 'dang, I get
another chance'. "

C&C: So let's talk about style. Who and what inspires your style?
V. A.: Janelle Monet inspires my style. All the way. There's no other person. I can't think of
anybody else but her. The first person I think of is her.

C&C.: Is there a certain thing or things that inspire you?
V. A.: Waking up. That's inspiring. Because not everybody has the opportunity to wake up so
when I wake up I'm inspired like, "dang, I get another chance". Somebody else didn't, and at the
moment I'm thinking I have another chance, somebody else's is being taken away. So that gives
me even more power to do the best I can for that day.

C&C: What are your hobbies and interests?
V. A.: I like thrifting. I think that's everyone's answer right now. It's easier to do. It takes up a long
time to find what you want, but it's worth it if you only pay $8 versus paying $30 for it and you only
wear it  like 3 times. I like going out to eat with my friends. We're big foodies.

C&C. What’s your favorite food? No wait, what's your favorite restaurant?
V. A.: Huh!

C&C: It doesn't have to be in charleston.
V. A.: Favorite restaurant, oh my gosh. I have to say Allouettes right now.

C&C: I've actually heard that from a couple of people recently.
V. A.: She has… I kind of get inspired by her because she has a healthier style to her menu. She
does vegan and vegetarian style foods. The food is really good.

C&C: I remember we had a previous conversation and you mentioned that you are in culinary
school, correct?
V. A.: Right.

C&C: What's your favorite thing to cook?
V. A.: Sandwiches. I guess you don't cook sandwiches, you make them. You can make a
sandwich in over 100 different ways.

C&C: Are you familiar with Bubba from Forest Gump?
V. A.: Ok?

C&C: 100 ways to do shrimp?
V. A.: (Laughing hystericaly) Yeah!

C&C: Give me 10 ways to do sandwiches. Go!
V. A.: 10 ways to do sandwiches… Ok. You can do hot sandwiches or you can do cold
sandwiches. That's easy. Let's see, you can use different types of bread. Let's see, what else…
You can do dessert sandwiches.

C&C: Really?
V. A.: Yeah. Like the bread is like a French toast style and all of your ingredients other than that
have to be sweet. Like caramel apples or any type of fruit. And you can toast it and cut it up. Let's
see, I don't know man… it's kind of hard. I would have to sit down and write all the ways.

C&C: Yeah, I kinda put you on the spot huh?
V. A.: Yeah.

C&C: What is your dream job?
V. A.: Having my own restaurant. That would be my dream job. And to have it so big to the point
that people come to me for it. They come from all over just to eat at my spot. I don't have to have
three different locations or a chain so people come to it. Like they would fly to me.

C&C: What's your favorite piece in your closet right now.
V. A.: My leopard print flats, I guess.

C&C: By?
V. A.: Target.

C&C: Score.
V. A.: Yeah, I actually wore them today. With all the things I do so late at night. After I get off and I
have to do things for United Colors of Fashion. That's taking up a lot of my time right now. So in
the mornings when I get dressed, that's the quickest way to be not lazy, but be relaxed and still
look cute. Leopard print flats black jeans or some cutoff jeans or some boyfriend jeans or anything
like that. Those leopard print shoes do it. They're like, "oh man, she got style, she's got sass.
She's got leopard print shoes".

C&C: So real quick. One thing. There's this misconception that in order to look stylish it take a ton of effort, but you just said it. Like, if you strategically pick pieces that you can just throw on, it's really not that hard.
V. A.: Right. Like my favorite outfit I have right now is my “Canadian suit” as my friends call it at

C&C: Double denim?
V. A.: Triple denim.

C&C. Triple?... Ok.
V. A.: I wear some jeans with a denim button down with a denim jacket. And then I'll do leopard
print flats or nude flats. And if I had denim shoes I might try to pull it off but I don't know how good
that would look. That's simple. If you’re getting dressed and you’re trying to do the double denim
thing, like “oh look at this jean jacket. Let's throw this on”. That takes two seconds to put that
together. Then just put your hair up. Throw on some earrings to give it a little edge. You don't
even have to put on makeup. Just go.

C&C: I totally agree. So you mentioned United Colors of Fashion. Talk about it a little bit. What is
V. A.: They're an organization that tries to bring awareness to AIDS, HIV, and sickle cell. Right
now the main focus is HIV but I'm trying to bring more focus to the sickle cell side if things.
Because I honestly don't have an understanding of what it is but it affects just as many people
who get cancer. And cancer is all over the place but sickle cell is off in a corner and no one talks
about it.
I got this position because I was interning for someone who has their own quarterly magazine and
I presented an idea called "Fashion Talk Fridays". [The editor in chief] has a magazine that was
based more towards African American women. With what I was trying to do, everybody was in it,
not just Black women. I don't know how to only cater to one specific group of people and that's a
challenge to me. I want to cater to everyone if I can. And then a couple days down the road she
said I did something she didn't like and a couple days after that I didn't have the internship
anymore. I was working with both her and United Colors of Fashion. So I took the idea to them
and from there I became the manager of development. We have an internet magazine so with the
team that I have right now if it works out well we will have a print quarterly magazine out next

C&C: Wow. Congratulations.
V. A.: Thank you. Yeah, at first I was a little down about it but I talked to my boyfriend and I talked
to a few friends and they said take the idea someplace else. And if they don't like it, patent it, and
make it your own idea. So if United Colors of Fashion didn't take it I was gonna go to do it on my
own and right now it's booming so hopefully I'll have a baby soon. It's exciting.

C&C: So let's say, uh, knock on wood, (3 knocks) I don't even know if this is wood. Yeah, this is
wood. This is totally wood. So let's say your house is burning down. You have like, three minutes
to get out and you have a duffel bag. What are five things that you put in that bag that will hold you over for the next month.
V. A.: My medicine. Hold up now. I'm asthmatic, I have allergies. [I] gotta grab all my medicines.
Um, my blanket. I still have the blanket I was wrapped in when I was adopted.

C&C: Whaaat?
V. A.: Yeah, a little unsanitary. My mother has not washed my blanket. I don't know if she used it
after I was adopted or not but it looks perfect. Looks brand new. I could probably sell it and they
would think it was brand new right now. Um, oh a hair tie. With this thing, whooo! Gotta have a
hair tie. Um, a picture of my parents and a picture of my best friend.

C&C. Good answers. So another list: Five things every woman should have. Five fashion
V. A.: Anything leopard print. Shoes, scarf, bag. Anything leopard print. Classic pair of black

C&C: Black jeans. Why black?
V. A.: Black goes with everything. If it's not black don't buy it. I used to wear black all the time. But
then I started to get into colors more often. But on days that I'm lazy I'm in all black because it's
easy. Um, red lipstick. A denim jacket. And nude pumps. That's an outfit right there. Leopard print
shirt, denim jacket, black jeans, nude pumps, heyyy. Red lip.

C&C: The 5 essentials that everyone should have, goes together. It's crazy how that works.
V. A.: Right.

"My energy has to be right when I step out
the house. Because the same energy I leave
with, I want to come back with. So if I leave
with good energy, I have to come back with
good energy. "

C&C: In the morning when you get dressed, is there a routine that you have? Or is it just
different every time?
V. A.: No I wake up. Check my emails. Make my cup of tea. I drink 3 cups I tea a day.

C&C: Favorite kind of tea?
V. A.: At the moment I have to say jasmine green tea. That's basically it. I put my makeup on first.
Then I figure out what I'm wearing. Because I can't decide the night before, when I'm doing
makeup I'm like "oh, this looks good" then I put my clothes on. I can't put my clothes on first. And I
pack my lunch. I pack my lunch every day to save money. And then I'm out the door.

C&C: When you're figuring out what you're going to wear, is there a certain piece of clothing that
you build around?
V. A.: I guess I build around the jeans. Because I really don't care if the jacket and the shirt
doesn't match as long as the jeans and the shoes match, if that makes sense. It's hard to describe
but that's what I think about. It just makes the most sense.

C&C: Has there ever been a time when you have gotten dressed and gone on about your day and
halfway through, you started to hate what you had on. Or you realized you had a wardrobe
malfunction but it's too late to go home and change. What happened?
V. A.: Uh uh. I don't have moments like that because I will be late to school, late to church. I'll be
late to work. I will be late to anything. I know that sounds bad, but I'll get dressed early enough to
wear I can switch my outfit seven times before I leave the house. Because… just in case. I'm not
gonna have that "I don't like the way this looks" and I'm halfway down the road because I'll turn
around and be like "excuse me, I'm gonna be an hour late. I have a wardrobe malfunction". no.  I can't. I don't feel right. My energy has to be right when I step out the house.
Because the same energy I leave with, I want to come back with. So if I leave with good energy, I
have to come back with good energy. Even if I leave with bad energy I try to make the other
energy throughout the day good so when I come back, that bad energy is gone. Um... no, no.

C&C: That's pretty impressive.
V. A.: Oh, that's scary.

C&C: Go back to the time you were just getting into high school, like 9th or 10th grade. How has
your style changed from then to now?
V. A.: Style has changed. My style had a done a 360, but at the same time it hasn't. Maybe like a
270. Only because I had my own style back then, but it wasn't just as profound. I didn't dress the
norm, wallabees, jeans, polo button downs. Like I wore polo every now and then but I would wear
it like everyone else. I wouldn't change anything though. Because in order to get where I am now,
I had to experience what i experienced. So no I wouldn't change it.

C&C: So if you had to chance to spend 10 minutes with 9th grade Venita, what would you say to
V. A.: Keep up the good work. Don't change for anybody. Stay true to yourself.

C&C: So what do you think the most fashionable movie is?
V. A.: That's hard because I don't like a lot of the mainstream movies. I'll have to go with the clay­
mation "Coraline". That's my favorite movie, so I may be a little biased.

C&C: I've seen it, but only half.
V. A.: It's my favorite movie because it took them seven years to make it. With claymation, they
have to film by the second so I think that's interesting. But she wears whatever she likes. She runs
out of the house with yellow rain boots and a striped shirt. But it's cute because it's kind of preppy.

C&C: I'm totally gonna finish that movie tonight.
V. A.: It's really good. The movie has a dark feel to it but it's supposed to be a children’s movie.
But just the style in the movie. There's a part in the movie, I don't want to spoil it for you, but the
other mother turns into I would say an Anna Wintour. If that makes sense. She gets really tall. Her
waist is 3 inches wide. And she has on this red dress that catches every shape that she has. She
has a bob haircut.

[editor's note: I've since seen the remainder of the movie and that description is spot on]

There's more style in that movie now that I think about it. She has on a pair of pumps and she's
running around the house chasing Coraline. The dad’s wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and flip flops.
So that's kinda like Charleston. And then the mother is average. But then Coraline tries to add
color to everything because there's a part where she has her uniform and she sees a pair of
striped gloves and she asks can she get those and her mom says maybe another time because it
doesn't match her uniform. But she's just trying to stand out within a crowd that looks so similar.

C&C: You know it's funny that you mentioned claymation. One of my favorite movies, it drives my
wife crazy now because me and the kids watch it all the time, is "Fantastic Mr Fox"
V. A.: What? Right here man! (High fives were exchanged). I have that on Netflix. Fantastic Mr.
Fox is the business. It's supposed to be a kid’s movie but you know when your older you catch
stuff like "hmm, how'd they put that in there?" Like instead of cursing they just say "what the
cuss". I think I'm gonna watch that tonight!

For more on Venita, you can follow her on Twitter

Interview Edited by Felicity Rhode