For Instagram lifestyle and wellness influencer, Vic Styles, this isn't the life that she planned for herself. In fact, it just might be better than she could have ever imagined, "My dreams created the path for where I am today, but I don't think that I could have even fathomed what my life would be like." When you wander into the corner of the internet that Vic has crafted, there's a certain peace that absorbs you, a sense of tranquility that, as many Black women can attest to, is earned through tough lessons and radical self-choosing.
For Vic Styles, the very act of declaring her pursuits through the amalgamation of her passions points towards a life of liberation. Free from outside pressures, only leaving the evidence of her calling.
Coming of age in an analog era where there were no monikers like, "influencer" or even "content creator," conceiving a life centered around this thing called "the internet" would challenge even the most imaginative of dreamers. Still, one thing that has always stood the test of time for Vic was her ever-evolving and innate personal style, "I've always loved fashion. I kept this notebook where my mom would take Polaroid pictures of what I would wear so that I wouldn't repeat the same outfit within a two to three week period." Call it a mini lookbook of #OOTDs before there ever was a name for it, if you will.
Although Vic's early days as an inventive teen and young adult pointed her in the direction of pursuing a life in fashion, her ar family upbringing encouraged structure and tradition as fundamental aspects for her post-grad endeavors. "My whole life I had expressed this interest in fashion, I was always creative, but my family never really took the time to hone that." Still, her smartness of style never fell from her gaze.
Courtesy of Vic Styles
During Vic's senior year of college, she made a drastic and intuitive pivot. "I had a 3.6 GPA, I was in all honors classes, but I just wasn't feeling it, so I dropped out. I had four more classes to graduate, but I walked out." Despite her parent's disappointment and dismay, she knew that her inner compass was guiding her to something greater. "I felt something in my spirit that was like, 'This is not where I'm meant to be. My parents completely cut me off, basically they were like, 'If you're gonna be grown, you're gonna be grown for real.' So I learned what struggle was. I was broke, I had to live on people's couches. I had to make big sacrifices, but it was all worth it."
Vic's journey displays high risk, with a significant return.
Now, the self-declared Freelance Life-Liver continues to carve out new worlds on the internet with her blooming love life, sustainability journey, and co-hosted podcast, Kontent Queens! Proving that your best life will always be the one you decide to choose for yourself.
xoNecole: When you were facing difficult times in LA, what kept you going in those moments?
Vic Styles: I think there was a lot of divine intervention on my behalf. When I first moved there, I had found these girls on Craigslist to live with; I had no friends, no money, and no family. I showed up at this apartment with these girls who I only knew from the internet, I mean, this could have been a scam, and thank God it wasn't. I got an internship there with a really famous celebrity stylist and became her assistant. Then I met my next boss and became her assistant. Then I stepped out on my own based on the connections that I had made as an assistant. But the timing of everything had to be divine because it wasn't within my power to have these things line up the way they did. Every time I felt like giving up, something good would happen, so I knew I couldn't give up because that was my sign.
Courtesy of Vic Styles
xoN: Now, you’re a self-proclaimed “Freelance Life-Liver.” Where did the inspiration behind this title come from and how were you able to take agency of this self-declaration? It sounds like freedom!
VS: Yes, it is freedom! The title came when people would ask me, "What do you do?" while I was still in the midst of styling and being an influencer. I was honestly like, "I'm freelance and I get paid to live my life." And that's still how I look at it. I know the term influencer isn't what a lot of people want to be associated with because of its negative connotation: "Oh, you're superficial, you're inauthentic." Part of it was disassociating myself from that. I want people to feel that when you come to the space that I've carved out for myself on the internet, you see these pieces of my life.
Yes, sometimes brands pay me to talk about their products, but the things I talk about naturally integrate into my life already. When you see me on the internet, I hope that you see a woman living in joy and being herself.
xoN: As a content creator, you have a focus in wellness. What was the turning point in your life that led you on your wellness and sustainability journey?
VS: When I think about wellness, I think about it from a holistic aspect. You can't be well if your mind, body, and spirit aren't well; everything has to be well. I was really depressed five years ago; I didn't want to eat, I considered suicide, I was in a place when I didn't love myself, I didn't even know myself. So I picked up a book by Alex Elle called Words from a Wanderer and everything she was talking about in this book from seeing yourself to forgiving yourself blew my mind. It started me on the journey of saying nice things to myself, but I couldn't just say it, now I had to do nice things and feed myself nice things. This carried into skincare and what I put on my hair and I started to treat myself how I wanted other people to be treated.
As far as sustainability, I was broke. I had to shop at thrift stores, I had to reuse things! Being sustainable started from a lack of money and resources and me having to be resourceful on my own
xoN: You speak a lot about originality on your podcast and how important it is for content creators to not try to be “the next so and so.” How were you able to stand out to brands and find your own authentic identity?
VS: I don't think it comes from finding it, I think it comes from tuning in and tuning everything and everyone else out. I don't spend a lot of time on the internet on other people's pages, and I know that sounds strange, but that's when I feel myself swaying in another direction. I spend a lot of time in self-reflection: I read, I write, I go on trips, I spend a lot of time by myself getting to know the things that I naturally like. If no one else was out there, if no one else could impact my likes or dislikes, what would I naturally gravitate towards?
And those are the questions I ask myself before when I put things on the internet, am I doing this because Victoria, at home, when no one is watching would really do this, or am I doing this because the world is watching?
"I spend a lot of time in self-reflection… getting to know the things that I naturally like. If no one else was out there, if no one else could impact my likes or dislikes, what would I naturally gravitate towards?"
Courtesy of Vic Styles
xoN: Your new podcast, Kontent Queens, is a space where content creators can glean insight into all things social media! What led you (and co-host, Kia Marie) to collaborate on this new endeavor in the audio space?
VS: It was actually Kia's idea. She approached me in summer 2019 and I was down for the cause. She's someone that I really respect and look up to in this space and we just felt like this needed to be done. There are so many creative spaces, classes, workshops for women that don't look like us. And we needed to fill that space. I think I can speak for Kia saying that we didn't have help. There was no roadmap for us and it's still fairly new. So if we can help other Black women in some shape or form, that's our due diligence.
xoN: On Kontent Queens, you and Kia don’t hold back on the gems. How did you all decide to take an abundance approach in the information you share on the podcast; especially in an industry that can be so individualistic?
VS: Purpose. I think Kia and I have a purpose to inspire and motivate, specifically our people. When you operate out of abundance and give back to people, it comes back to you tenfold. There's room for all of us. This is a community effort, community means everything to us and it can't be a community if there's just two of us at the top. We need all y'all too! It's a party, pull up!
"This is a community effort, community means everything to us and it can't be a community if there's just two of us at the top. We need all yall too, it's a party, pull up!"
xoN: When you envision the community you are shaping with the podcast, what does a safe and inclusive space for Black women look like to you?
VS: We would have more creative authority, we would be valued. We would be seen and heard more. We could be paid more, there would be no tokenism. It looks like equality across the board.
xoN: Even though the pandemic has been a challenging time to navigate, you actually found love just days before the nation shut down in a “shoot your shot” kind of way. Could you tell us more about that?
VS: Yes! I was out to eat with my homegirl and went to the bathroom and I walked past this guy who gave me the stare of life. I'm sitting behind him and he's turning around the whole brunch looking at me. So before I left, I wrote my number down on a napkin and said, "Text me if you want later." And he did! We've seen each other every day since March 11.
xoN: They say relationships are like holding a mirror up to yourself. What have you personally learned about yourself through this relationship?
VS: That I am worthy of love. Fair love. Good love. Unconditional love. I think before this relationship, it always felt like I was in these battles with men. It always felt like I was trying to get them to see me and appreciate me and it was never working out. I was always that girl that felt like once I get a man to see how great I am, then he'll reciprocate and it never happened. Because at the time, I don't even think I even realized my worth.
So I've had someone come in who shows and tells me just how worthy I am, even more than I imagined I was. He's my partner; anything I need he does, but he tells me no and tells me when I'm wrong. It's also special to be around someone and them not get on your nerves. I grew up [as] an only child, so I need a lot of space. I have to be alone a lot, so the fact that we can vibe and be together all day speaks volumes for me.
xoN: What was the healing process like for you to get to a place where you could receive the love that was for you?
VS: I've been in therapy for over a year now, and girl, it has changed my life! More importantly than that, I'm 34 and I just got saved. I have never in my life identified as Christian until now and I think that has also helped change the relationship I have with myself and my partner.
"There's no way for me to mess up whatever is meant for me. Maybe I needed that lesson, maybe that bad thing needed to happen so it could mold and shape me into the woman I am today. I have to let go and let God."
Courtesy of Vic Styles
xoN: One of your life mantras is “You can’t mess up your destiny.” What were the experiences in your life that led you to this lesson?
VS: I felt like I made a lot of mistakes when I was younger, or at least that's what I was told. They'd say, "You're so smart, why'd you drop out of college? You shouldn't have done this or that." And as life kept happening and blessings kept falling into my lap, I kept saying to myself that even if I make a bad decision, I'll learn from it and grow from it. There's no way for me to mess up whatever is meant for me. Maybe I needed that lesson, maybe that bad thing needed to happen so it could mold and shape me into the woman I am today. If something is a no, it's for a reason, and that may not be revealed to me until much, much later, but I have to let go and let God.
Featured image courtesy of Vic Styles
Originally published on February 15, 2021
Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
This post is in partnership with BET+.
Kingdom Business is back for its second season, with even more sermons, songs, and serpents. The series picks up where it left off, with actress Serayah as Rbel caught between the stripper pole and the pulpit. With the first lady of the church working desperately against her, Rbel must find a way to live her dreams and honor her friend while figuring out her faith in the process.
Season one served a collection plate of rivalry, deceit, and revenge –– among many other tribulations. Between the 28-year-old’s acting, conviction, and harmonious voice, here are a few reasons why season two of Kingdom Business is a must-watch.
If the Spirit Doesn’t Move You, Serayah’s Singing Voice Will
Rbel, formally known as Rebecca Belle, is a stripper whose life forcibly takes a turn after suffering a tragedy. Through her quest to find the truth, Rbel finds herself at odds with the head of a local church, First Kingdom’s Denita Jordan, played by the legendary Yolanda Adams. Rbel unknowingly emerges as what a faithful Christian embodies: a perfectly imperfect human who works every day to try their best while leaning on God. Although struggling with her faith, each ballad sung by Rbel can be felt, as the lyrics relate to personal struggles we all endure in different ways. Gospel songs hit differently when your life is in shambles, and chile, Serayah is singing new life into folks.
Serayah is a Formidable Opponent to The Yolanda Adams
As one of the best-selling gospel artists of all time, it’s no easy task to take on the role of a person on the opposing side of greatness. Serayah’s Rbel does an excellent job meeting Jordan at her level while shining through her solos. Throughout season one, Rbel emerges as a top streaming artist, an accomplishment that begets something of a holy war.
Serayah’s Acting Range is Engaging
As a former stripper trying to make a name for herself in the gospel industry, you can imagine the struggles that could come with it. Rbel goes through a range of emotions, all understandable and relatable. Despite several crises of faith, Serayah ensures Rbel delivers a humbling performance that makes the audience root for her redemption.
The Kingdom Business Soundtrack is Everything
Streaming now on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music, the Kingdom Business: Season 1 soundtrack is one you’d want to add to your playlist for high and low times. Aside from four soul-soothing songs from Serayah, the soundtrack also features singles from co-star/Hamilton’s Chaundre-Hall Broomfield, gospel artist Chandler Moore, and legend Yolanda Adams.
Serayah’s Rbel Makes You Root For Her
With First Kingdom beginning to crumble under the pressure of lies, infidelity, and deception, Rbel’s window to take that top spot seems wide open; however, the end of season one showed us the Spirit had other plans. Whether you believe or not, Serayah’s Rbel makes you want to see her win. Who doesn’t love a good underdog with a laid 22” bust down? Whether she seeks Him or not, God is proving to be on Rbel’s side. But is it enough to turn everything around for her? Will Rbel lean on faith or fear?
With secrets coming to light, success within reach, and the devastating conclusion of season one, you don’t want to miss season two––especially with more guest collaborations. Kingdom Business returns to BET+ on Nov 2.
BET+ Original | Kingdom Business | S2 Official Traileryoutu.be
Featured image via Getty Images
Can I be honest? Grief is hard. Not only is it hard, but it’s a never-ending process and journey. I lost my mother to metastatic endometrial cancer in February 2021, and while my grief process hasn’t been as hard as some, it definitely has not been easy. So, as a way to change my perspective on her no longer being here physically, I decided to participate in a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in Mexico on the actual day.
Traditionally, Dia de los Muertos is observed on November 1 and 2. Families gather and build ofrendas (a type of altar with various offerings) to peacefully welcome and guide the deceased’s spirit back to the “other side.” The offerings consist of everything from the person’s favorite foods, a photo of them, a mirror, candles, and a cross, among other things. On that night, people may dress in catrina attire and paint their faces with skull-like art to resemble the country’s take on ghosts and spirits. There’s also a dinner as well as singing and dancing throughout the night. It’s literally a celebration.
In full transparency, I’ve never been one to participate in ceremonies like this or traditional rituals that essentially “call” spirits or the ancestors back. We can mostly blame that on being raised in North Carolina— you know, the whole bible belt South, and their beliefs that anything “beyond the Bible” is a sin or the devil. But I’ll digress there.
Photo courtesy of DeAnna Taylor
I traveled to the Jalisco state of Mexico to spend a few days visiting Hacienda Patrón, aka the tequila brand’s main compound and distilling site. I was invited to stay in the private guesthouse— La Casona— as we spent time learning everything about the popular spirit company. From how Patrón only uses three ingredients (water, agave, and yeast) to seeing the details put into each bottle, it was truly a unique and memorable experience. But the best part was being able to participate in the local area’s Dia celebration.
That evening, we started by getting our makeup done. Since we are ultimately honoring those who have passed on, I opted for a design made from pearl-like jewels. My mother would always tell me how, as a lady, I needed to keep a set of pearls at all times. She and my maternal grandmother— who has also passed on— loved them and saw them as elegant. So, it was only right that I incorporated them into the night. Since I wasn’t in my own home or even a family member’s home, I wasn’t able to build my own ofrenda, so this was my “offering” in a sense.
Photo courtesy of DeAnna Taylor
Beyond the makeup, I was able to partake in a traditional dinner that consisted of several courses, including pan de muerto (bread of the dead)— which is usually baked on the holiday as a part of the offerings.
Dressed in all black, we then joined the larger community celebration, where several families publicly displayed their ofrendas for the entire crowd. We spent time viewing each one, and it was very reminiscent of walking in a cemetery, except everything was colorful and bright. Most ofrendas were decked out in freshly cut marigolds placed in ways that made out special designs or messages to the deceased. There were tons of candles and of course, all the trinkets and snacks that the non-living family member would have loved.
Photo courtesy of DeAnna Taylor
Walking around, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy, which is unique for me as I am often uneasy when walking in a cemetery— even in the daylight. Seeing those families honor their deceased loved ones in such a celebratory and joyful way while bringing a bit of humanity back to them was so beautiful.
When I got back to my room at La Casona, a wave of emotion came over me— I cried, but they were happy tears. I couldn’t help but think of my mother and, ultimately, the things I would place on an altar to honor and guide her back to the other side. Of course, there would be pearls, a photo of her, vanilla-scented candles, some Corn Flakes with bananas, and maybe even a steak from Outback— because those were some of the meals she loved.
Being able to experience this type of event served as a reminder that although my mom is no longer here physically, she’s never too far away in the spiritual realm. It allowed me to essentially find an added layer of peace with her passing, too. I think from here out, I will incorporate some of the elements of Dia de los Muertos into my own life because, as far as I’m concerned, my mother’s spirit is always welcomed back to visit. I love you, ma!
Feature image courtesy of DeAnna Taylor