Beyoncé couldn’t have been more right when she sang that girls run the world, but Philly-based Pnk Elephant bosses Kijafa Vick (VA’s own) and Blair Sandlain (Detroit native) maintain that campaign with a bossier proclamation–Girls Hustle Hard.
With a newly launched t-shirt collection dedicated to femme fatales on the grind and reppin’ boss chicks from every state, the trendy accessories and apparel brand (which you can snag online or in-store) has touched new audiences and continues toward the mainstream market.
Vixen caught up with the two ambitious ladies to chat about fashion biz 101, which celebs should be dripping in their accessories and how their friendship makes them a force to be reckoned with.–Niki McGloster
VIXEN: What was the inspiration for the “Hustle Hard” t-shirt line?
Blair Sandlain: We just started a friendly campaign called Girls Hustle Harder, then we incorporated each state. Of course we started with Philly, and we even have Eagles now which are doing really well. Michael Vick tweeted a couple of them, and since he did that, we’ve had even greater buzz from the Eagles. We’re actually rolling out Universities as well. It’s a statement letting other women know that you’re doing tour thing basically [laughs].
I noticed how quick they’re selling…
BS: Yeah, especially if you live in another state other than your hometown. I Iive in Philadelphia, but I’m originally from Michigan. I always wear my Detroit shirt in the store.
You guys need to make a “Maryland Girls” shirt! [Laughs]
BS: Should I do “Maryland” or should I do “DMV”?
Well, you could do DMV ones. Those’ll sell like crazy! Now, what mainstream trends have you been noticing, and how do you want to incorporate into your accessories or your apparel lines?
Kijafa Vick: We see a lot of jackets with the denim and leather combo, and I definitely want to introduce that into the store. We’ve already started introducing a lot of pieces.
What are a couple of things you’ve learned from being in the business of fashion and style?
BS: It’s a whole business behind it, you know? Monitoring your inventory levels, making sure you have enough inventory to cover the season. I want people to understand that although Kijafa and I like fashion, we are in the fashion business. It’s a whole numbers game behind what we do.
Indeed. Has it been hard to learn the business?
KV: It was a little difficult for me. Blair has come from a numbers background, so I learn a lot from her. She teaches me a lot; she makes me pay attention to a lot of things that I haven’t noticed before.
Blair, what was tough for you?
BS: I would say the transition from working in corporate America to working at your own business. You don’t have any vacation days.
Sometimes friends and business just don’t mix, but talk about the relationship between you two and how you approach business together.
KV: I don’t like Blair at all she gets on my nerves! [Laughs] No. Since Blair moved to Philly, I have really, really just loved her like a sister. She left her job and she came down here to run a store, and I respect that. A lot of people couldn’t do that.
BS: When I moved to Philadelphia our relationship definitely did get closer. I learned a lot from her as well about not only the business but how to be patient and how to protect yourself. It’s very evened it out; I’m the edgier one and she’s the girly girl in a sense. We just have this respect to know what we expect from one another on a business level.
What have been your biggest sacrifices with building Pnk Elephant and becoming full-time career women?
KV: I sacrifice a lot of time with my family. Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision, but I balance it out as much as I need to. I would love to be in the business a lot more but I have to be with my kids. I’m definitely always gonna lean towards my family but the store is right behind family, because it means so much. It’s like a second child.
BS: I don’t really go home a lot because I’m kinda like a control freak, so I’ll just be at the store. It’s our first year of business [in the store] since we opened last year and I wanted to know what our numbers would be every day, so I’ll be able to look back on the history.
We all know you’re taken, Mrs. Vick, but, Blair, let us know about the current state of your love life. Is there anyone that you’re dating? Anyone significant?
BS: Um, yeah. I’m dating Kanye West right now! [Laughs] No, I’m playing.
You’re a mess!
BS: Girl, I’m single and ready to mingle.
Now, who are your favorite designers, ladies?
KV: I really love BCBG. I feel like they’re always trendy, and I love their accessories. They give us a lot of inspiration, as far as clothes and accessories styles, that we want to carry in the store.
BS: I’ll buy whatever if I like it and if I feel like it fits my style. But, the designers that I love and respect would be, of course, Alexander McQueen.
In about five years ,what could we expect from your accessories line?
KV: A PNK Elephant in every mall in the United States.
That’s awesome! What do you think you’ll design next?
BS: I want to get into handbags and sneakers.
KV: I definitely love the sneaker idea. I feel like women want to be comfortable now, so we are definitely wearing more sneakers, more wedges.
For sure. Who would you want to see in PNK Elephant accessories? Top three celebrities.
KV: Beyoncé, Rihanna and J. Lo.
BS: Beyoncé. And I would want to talk to her about her work ethic! I like Azealia Banks, and of course, Rihanna. Why not?
Yes. Everybody has a thing for Rihanna right now. Lastly, why should Vixens shop at PNK Elephant?
BS: I think they should shop at PNK Elephant because we are the ultimate destination for all things fun. We have like this whole party girl promotion type of thing going on. The store’s very fun. We even have a DJ booth in there. If you wanna have fun with your look and you want to be free and you don’t care what people say, you should shop with PNK Elephant.