We are thrilled to announce our first cover with Harper’s Bazaar Netherland, for their November issue. Representation matters and we couldn’t be more ecstatic to grace this cover together, on the ‘Power of Sisterhood, photographed by Mikael Schulz. Thank you so much to Harper’s Bazaar Netherland for this feature.
Scroll below to read our full interview.
“Identical twins. Instagram sensations. Style icons The American Cipriana and TK Quann are all things, but above all super cool.” -Harper’s Bazaar Netherlands
HB: You are identical twins, in what way you are similar, in what way you are different?
Cipriana: Well besides obvious physical differences in the way we look and style, personality wise and what we stand for is identically uncanny. Though I do have to say there is another obvious difference that explains us well, my sister is the type of person to literally dance like no one is watching, while I am the one who loves to dance but definitely in the dark lit corner of the room, where no one is watching, lol.
TK: We have very similar personalities and interests however there are differences, one of them being my work in music as a rapper/singer/songwriter, outside of my work with Cipriana.
HB: What’s the thing you like to do best together?
TK: Spending time together is what I enjoy best whether it is for work or leisure time. We are business partners so I have the best of both worlds when it comes to my profession. Working with Cipriana, who is not just a sister but a best friend, and doing what I love as full time career. I consider myself very lucky.
Cipriana: Just love being around each other and conversing. People always ask us, “You guys see each other almost everyday, talk everyday…what is there left to talk about?” Our answer every single time is “EVERYTHING”
HB: What’s your earliest memory about one another?
Cipriana: Giving each other a kiss on the cheek every day in the morning before our kindergarten class. Also a moment involving ice-cream, where TK ate mine and I was very, very upset.
TK: Dancing in our living room for our parents showing them a dance routine we had choreographed.
HB: What do you admire in one another? What’s irritating?
TK: How much time do I have? What don’t I admire? Her kindness, intelligence, perspective, compassion, work ethic, determination and the way she utilizes her platform to discuss diversity and equality. I admire everything about her and she is a constant source of inspiration.
Cipriana: I admire her tenacity, her drive, her intelligence, her strength. The fact that she truly cares about others and the state our world is in socially and politically. She not only does she talk the talk but walks the walk. She is an incredible rapper, songwriter and singer and creates music that is conscientious. She taught me at an early age the power of being who you are or want to be and not letting anyone hither that process. She taught me to see the beauty within, when I couldn’t see it myself. I admire everything about her and there is not one thing that irritates me about her, which may be irritating for others to hear, lol.
HB: When and why did you decide to blog? What is your goal with it? What do you want to share with the public and what don’t you wanna share?
Cipriana: I wanted to create a lifestyle website with the uniting core of the site to support, encourage and highlight the multi-faceted lives of women of color, while producing content which I felt was missing in mainstream media. I wanted to celebrate difference as the norm, “imperfections” as perfections, beauty beyond aesthetics, while breaking down and coloring outside the lines of the stereotypical “ideal standard” of beauty within the industry. There are some things about my childhood that I am not ready to share but one day TK and I will.
HB: How does it feel to be so popular and how do you make sure you are not believing too much in yourself?
Cipriana: Hmm, I can’t really describe what it feels like to be popular but I know what it was like to be unpopular, meaning I was the kid who ate lunch completely by herself or skipping lunch to go to the Library (TK and I had different lunch periods in high school). “Popularity” is definitely a foreign concept for us. I can say you can never be conceited if you realize, appreciate and respect those who support you. First I have my twin sister and mother, they would both slap me silly (well slap me with words, not physically, lol) if I became to big for my britches. Second my audience, my virtual family (which is what I call my followers, since I am not a fan of the term “followers”), they are everything and have enabled me to be where I am today through there support. It is only when you forget this, when you felt you did it on your own is when humbleness begins to take a back seat.
TK: I never view myself as popular or well known or think about that aspect of my work however I am always extremely flattered that our work resonates with others and that love is very much appreciated. As far as confidence you must always believe in yourself and I don’t believe that there is such a thing as believing in yourself too much as long as you are putting the work in and treating others with respect along the way. There are people that may let the attention go to their heads and you see it in the way they treat others.
HB: Can you mention the positive and negative things of being a hit on social media?
TK: Positive: People that address creating change for what is needed have a voice and are heard.
Negative: The people that bully and spread hate are heard. Prime example is in the highest position of The White House.
Cipriana: The positive is that you can reach an audience across the world that you can connect and hopefully help in some way. To be honest what does this life mean if you can’t help others or use your platform to do so. The flip side to the positive is that sometimes others can unfortunately lash out in a negative manner. But as I have gotten older I realize many times it has nothing to do with you. They are placing their insecurities and/or anger onto you, channeling it in the wrong direction.
HB: Do you think the world has become more or less beautiful with social media?
Cipriana: The impact of social media regarding inclusivity. Brands and companies are beginning to see the detrimental loss, morally and financially when they exclusively target one demographic, or continue to push the false narrative of one kind of stereotypical beauty. Whether it be consciously or unconsciously, social media has directly influenced many of the positive changes we see today. A platform where one voice can be joined by, hundreds, thousands or millions to create an immediate change, whether it be social, political, environmental and that is a beautiful. On the other hand social media has placed more pressure on many to obtain a lifestyle that has been cultivated under a false narrative. A fixation on perfection that is not a reality for anyone. The greatest beauty is in the honesty of an individual, imperfection is perfection.
TK: Definitely think more beautiful as social media has really changed the social and political climate drastically in terms of bringing certain issues or causes to the forefront. Voices that need to be heard are being heard and it has created a burgeoning job market. Nothing like witnessing an evolution of strong minded people using their voices and platforms to ignite change for the good of the society whether it be diversity, inclusivity, equality, police brutality, women’s rights, immigration legislation, environmental, animal causes, etc the list can go on and on. How amazing that we have a platform where we all can be heard and support one another at the tip of our fingers? Of course the less beautiful side are those who feel the need to disrespect and bully others however that is a dynamic one comes across outside of social media and I have no tolerance for it on my page and in my life.
HB: This issue of Harper’s Bazaar is about sisterhood, what do you understand by that?
TK: I learned at a very early age that no one will be more supportive than my sister. We were raised to understand this and to not allow anyone to come between our sisterhood and friendship. However sisterhood isn’t about sharing a bloodline. Sisterhood is about being supportive of one another and being positive, encouraging and empowering to one another. Sisterhood has no room or tolerance for derogatory energy meant to debilitate one’s confidence or strides. Whether our journey is the same or different we all share one common denominator. Being a woman. We should all be united in sisterhood no matter race, ethnicity, culture, background, identity or age. It may be difficult to understand each others’ journeys but we should always be open-minded and willing to embrace differences. Sisterhood is not just about connecting with those who are similar but connecting with those who are different from yourself as well. You never know what you can learn or how your journey may change for the better.
Cipriana: Sisterhood means a unified strength in numbers bonded by love. I always say the definition of a soulmate is not solely a romantic nature, but can also be referred to a friendship. Without sisterhood I would not be the woman I am today. Without sisterhood I would not have had the strength to face the daily traumatic moments of our childhood alone. I understand the power of sisterhood because we are a living testimony of what you can overcome, what you can achieve and your willingness to help others feel from what you felt from a true sisterhood. I understand sisterhood because it is the foundation of who I am. To put it simply, without sisterhood I literally would not be here.
HB: What makes you lay awake at night?
Cipriana: I try to have mental clarity at night so I can get sleep that is vital for my health…but what I think about daily is police brutality. The detrimental choices of the current president, and the state/senate/congress members who support his actions. Racial/sexual discrimination. Slave trafficking. The innocent casualties of war. The urgent need in drastically changing our gun control laws. Homeless and hunger issues. The state of our healthcare and education system for those who can’t afford it. Mental health. Vulnerability of our eco-system and endangered species. The list goes on but I definitely need sleep to help contribute my part in making a change.
TK: A few things, one being the judicial system’s lack of justice concerning police brutality against black people.
HB: Your hair of course is your trademark, what does it mean to you? Can you imagine shaving it off?
TK: No I could not imagine shaving it off. I don’t think my hair makes me more special than anyone else however loving and embracing my hair type in a world that does not widely consider my hair type beautiful is what is important to me when discussing natural hair. You see what is contemplated as beautiful in magazines, campaigns and ads which rarely showcases my hair type. As a black woman that has 4C hair type there are definitely stereotypes and misconceptions regarding black hair. Black women can’t grow long hair. Black women can’t grow thick hair. Black women can’t grow healthy hair. Do you hear something wrong in all these statements? I do. One word. Can’t. There are many people that really do believe these stereotypes and cannot be convinced otherwise which is truly sad. As if a black woman can only look one way, speak one way or act one way. As if you have to be anything other than black to have long, thick and healthy hair. Some will say, “What’s the big deal? It’s just hair.” True. It is just hair however the world we live in does not wholeheartedly embrace that perspective when some natural styles are contemplated as unkempt or unprofessional in some circles. Young black girls are still forbidden to have their hair in certain natural styles. The Army not
too long ago changed their guidelines on natural hair and the Navy most recently. Young black girls are bullied and pressured into negating their strands to conform to an aesthetic that annihilates self love. I could delve into this much, much deeper; particularly how those who are not black are creating the guidelines for what is considered “acceptable or professional” when it comes to black hair that naturally grows from one’s head. There are so many tangents to discuss but at one point I realized I had to stop letting negative comments affect the positive way I felt about myself. How I felt about my hair because I received so many derogatory comments regarding my texture and still do until I had an epiphany. Why should I care about the ugly things that people say about me when they don’t even have any self love for themselves.
Cipriana: I always say my hair is physical manifestation of my inner confidence. The more I felt comfortable from within, aesthetically the transformation mirrored what I felt. No, I could never imagine shaving all of my hair off but cutting it to shoulder length, definitely.
HB: Who are your role models and why?
Cipriana: My Mother and my twin sister. They have been the epitome of what a role model is in my eyes; non-judgmental, supportive, motivated, honest, intelligent, caring and loving. They don’t see the world through rose colored glasses, yet have the mind set to always be open minded and believe in the possibility of hope in everything. They have taught me the true meaning of unconditional love and how it has not only the power to transform yourself but those around you. They taught me to always believe in myself and in return to help others to do the same. Our mother taught us that “can’t” was not a part of our vocabulary. As a woman of color in the corporate field, attending one of the top universities in the world and a mother of two who always had time to read a night time story every evening before bed. Our Mother showed us anything is possible and inspires us everyday to do the same.
TK: Our mother has always been our greatest role model. One of the most beautiful human beings and besides being amazing she is positive, intelligent, compassionate and also our triplet. She always carries herself with grace and kindness. As children she was the bread winner and had a full time job, attended one of the top universities in the country and a mother of twins which is a job within itself. We never had a moment that we felt she wasn’t there for us as a Mom. Every night she would read to us no matter how long her day. It is one of the reasons I have a passion for reading and writing. She always listens and is always extremely supportive no matter our goals. She is incredible in every way and words, no matter how fantastic the definitions, do not do justice.
HB: If you would be president twins for one day, what would you do immediately?
TK: Make sure people who really need tax breaks receive them for life.
Cipriana: Provide free healthcare. Automatic college financial aid for every high school student who keeps an above average GPA. Stricter polices on gun control. Retraining of the American police force system regarding preventive tactics regarding discrimination of civilians. Enforce a much higher minimum wage and yearly salary for teachers. Provide outreaches in every work field to monthly address a zero tolerance policy for sexual and racial discrimination. More and affordable health food grocery stores in inner cities. Free therapy sessions. What a woman chooses to do with her body is her choice and laws would be set in motion to solidify that. Set up mandatory state facilities in which all restaurants would donate leftover food they usually dispose of each night to feed the hungry and public schools. Utilizing more solar energy.
HB: What was a life-changing moment for you?
Cipriana: Being business partners with my twin sister but before that transition cofounding UrbanBushBabes. It opened so many doors all through following a passion of wanting to help other women. I have been so lucky to have great feedback from women who said I have helped them in so many ways, but to be honest their support has helped me. It truly is the circle of life.
TK: Learning to forgive. My sister and I had a very difficult childhood. I mentioned earlier that our mother was the bread winner of the family however we had a stay at home father. Our mother never knew about the abuse from our father (until she divorced him in our late teens) as our father threatened to kill us if we told anyone. He was a very violent and mentally unstable man. He had a difficult childhood and past and it was reflected ten fold in the way he raised us. He was verbally and physically abusive every week of our childhood lives. I feared and despised him. It took a very long time for me to let go of this deep rooted ire. It had been my anchor as a child and it steered me in ways that I thought made me stronger. However I found this hatred exhausting. I was tired of it. I was exhausted by it so I eventually let it go. I guess I was more scared of losing this feeling that had been a companion for so long than the act of forgiving. I realized that hatred was not a rewarding companion spiritually, mentally or physically. I have no contact with my father and nor do I desire any type of relationship but I do forgive him. I do not know if he is apologetic or remorseful but that doesn’t matter as the way he feels has nothing to do with my ability to let go, move on and forgive. I have seen what a person becomes when they hold onto hate. How that hate can cripple you in ways you could never imagine. Cipriana and I refused to continue this vicious cycle. We refused to become our father. The power of forgiveness was about me and my ability to let go of that hatred. Definitely a life changing and liberating moment.
HB: What do clothes, fashion mean to you? Who are your favorite designers?
TK: How you view yourself and what you decide to wear to compliment your confidence and wearing what makes you happy is what fashion is all about for one’s personal style. Fashion should also be about aligning with diversity, inclusivity, sustainability. Diversity and inclusivity not just on the runway, during fashion weeks and campaigns but also in boardrooms and in creative director and executive positions. It is astonishing how fashion in 2018 still does not reflect those imperative components. It’s time that diversity is no longer treated like a trend from the runway, attendance at shows and campaigns. It is a continual and needed discussion within the fashion world.
Designers that include diversity and inclusivity are my favorite designers.
Cipriana: My love of fashion was deeply inspired at an early age by my Mother. Her way of thinking outside the box as a woman of color in the seventies forever affected the way I viewed fashion. She had no restrictions regarding what she wanted to wear. She would wear business pants suits, high waist bell bottoms, leather jackets, Victorian style blouses, sports jackets sequined and floral dresses. Her style was everywhere and everything but so effortless. Fashion is a way to express yourself without saying a word.
There are so many incredible designers, that I favor and will not be able to list them all but some of them are Marimekko, TOMÉ, Studio 189, Yvonne Koné, LOVE Binetti, Dion Lee, Sally LaPointe, Ryan Roche, Jonathan Cohen, KENZO, Citizens of Humanity, Cushnie, Miista, Vagabond, AAKS, Pichulik, Scosha, Dion Lee, Burberry, Camilla & Marc, Azzedine Alaïa, Roberto Cavalli, Michael Kors, Gucci, Dior, McQueen, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Armani, Zimmerman.
HB: What’s the message you want to share?
Cipriana: Usually those who are quick to judge have the most skeletons in the closet. Each and everyone one us have made mistakes … who are you to judge? Step back from what you assume and show some compassion, many times there are a multitude of circumstances behind an individual’s choice, that at that moment do not have the strength to resist or take ownership of. This is how we learn, our failures reveal the most and have a potent process in how we can overcome, recognizing the power we all possess within. So those who are quick to judge I would say, “Take a seat and let them have to chance to rise from the fall!”
TK: Beauty and fashion is not dependent on the color of skin, the size of waist or hips, the texture of hair, ethnicity, sexual orientation or identity. It is 2018 and we’re still saying, “The first Black model” or “The first Indian model” or “The first Asian model” etc. Diversity and inclusivity is a conversation not for one season but for every season. Executive positions, Creative Directors, writers, stylists, MUA etc. Diversity is not s trend and it is time that the fashion world stops perpetuating a homogenous attitude when it comes to featuring talent. I am not here asking to sit at the tables of those who do not implement diversity or body inclusivity. I am not here demanding change from those who will never get it. I am here to speak out against it and align myself with those in the fashion/beauty industry who understand that. Representation matters and it matters to me to speak up when I don’t see it regardless if those who think otherwise are listening or not.
HB: How often are you together and if you are not, how do you keep in touch?
TK: Joined at the hip no pun intended. We’re business partners so besides constantly being together for work in our leisure time we’re together almost as much. I can never get enough Cipriana time.
Cipriana: Hahaha, we communicate every single day, multiple times a day (meaning multiple, multiple, multiple times a day). I mean when we see something funny, heard about something social or politically absurd or interesting , the first person we contact is each other. We are also business partners so we physically see each other 4-5 times a week but speak very day!
HB: What book, film, exposition, concert made a big impression on you lately?
Cipriana: ‘When God Was A Woman’ by Merlin Stone. I wish this was a reading requirement in all learning institutions. Everyone needs to read this book, especially women!
1. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
2. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Love And Freedom On Death Row by Anthony Hardin and Lara Day Hinton
3. Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler
4. Killers of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and Birth of FBI
HB: If you could tell other women one thing, what would it be?
TK: Always do what feels right for you even others around you say otherwise. Whether it’s your ideologies, beliefs, what you want to say or how you want to look. Not everyone has supportive people in their lives and you need to truly believe in yourself whether others believe in you or not.
Cipriana: You are beautiful just how you are and you are enough.
HB: How could women better the world?
Cipriana: They already have. It is just the systematic way many countries have stereotyped, discriminated and diminished the monstrous effects women have had and continue to have on this country. There is archeology evidence that has proven women were Kings and ruled in the Upper Paleolithic Age of about 25,000 BC. Women are not weak by design, just the simple fact that we can give life is the most powerful testament of an incomparable strength.
TK: We are already doing it.
HB: What could men learn from women and vice versa?
TK: I won’t stereotype however more understanding in general is always a great thing.
Cipriana: Well women many times are thought of as being more “emotional” and showing emotions in masculine form is thought of many times as weakness. I think many men should understand to show the most truest form of your emotions, releasing instead of holding to that energy is not weakness but strength. Many women can learn that what others had regarded as weakness is actually one of our greatest strengths.
HB: What did you learn the last ten years?
Cipriana: That you can’t control everything and failure will be your greatest teacher, embrace it and learn from your mistakes. Utilize the lesson to propel forward in a more positive and fruitful direction.
TK: Hard work and patience pays off.
HB: What’s your future plans?
TK: Continuing our work promoting diversity and inclusivity in the fashion and beauty industry and expand on that platform into different arenas whether it be a book or television or both. Working on music and writing and working with other inspiring women in various fields.
Cipriana: To not make too many plans and continue to do what I love. Surround myself by those I love who are positive and supportive. Continue to help others with my sister and create change. To go off the beaten path is definitely a necessity for life and can lead you to unexpected places you never saw for yourself. If someone asked me 10 years ago if I saw myself here, my answer would be no, I wanted to be a Primatologist or Interior Designer. When a door presents itself don’t close it out of fear of the unknown, sometimes you have to leap in and forget what you had planned or where you saw yourself in 10 years.
HB: What if your sister doesn’t like the one you are madly in love with?
Cipriana: This happened with an ex of mine and let’s just say it was one of the most awkward situations of my life. I couldn’t even go on double dates with TK and her love. But noticed how I said “ex” that in itself saids it all, lol! It was a very toxic relationship and of course she didn’t approve. I should have ended that relationship much sooner than I did but there were lessons I needed to be taught. I learned that I would never let someone demise my worth or treat me in that manner again. I now am in a loving and very healthy relationship with the most wonderful man, who I am just mad about. To say it all, my sister thinks he is perfect. Plus our loves get along great, so we double date often.
TK: It is a terrible predicament to be in especially since we are best friends. No double dating then lol. Fortunately we are in relationships where we love each other’s boyfriend. We hang out all the time and plenty of double dates.
HB: What would become of you without your sister?
TK: I wouldn’t be here. We’re identical which means the egg split into two. Thank goodness that egg split. I can’t imagine my life without Cipriana. I am one very, very lucky woman and I’m incredibly proud of her. My love for her is infinite
Cipriana: We are identical twins, which means we were one person split into two. We have a very special relationship. I always say the universe knew we needed each other. We had difficult and traumatic ordeals in our childhood that we would not have been able to handle without the support of one another. I can resoundingly say, I would not be the woman I am today or had the strength to survive what we went through without her. She is the very air I breathe.