Kahlana Barfield Brown

Kahlana Barfield Brown

Progress is Finding Your Passion

Photographed in NY by Samira Rashid

For far too long, others have dictated the woman’s role in society. Everything from women’s career choices and reproductive rights down to our appearance has historically been shaped largely by everyone except us. Well, it’s a new day. And in this day and age, women taking control of their own lives equals progress for all. The time has come to scrap the implicit standards, societal pressures, and generalized expectations that come along with being a woman. Now, we have a say in who we are and what we become. From my own experiences, I’ve learned that taking control of your life starts with discovering your passion. Once you identify that, you can assess how you can use your unique talents and skills to truly help make a difference.

Kahlana Barfield Brown sitting on a brick ledge
"The time has come to scrap the implicit standards, societal pressures, and generalized expectations that come along with being a woman. Now, we have a say in who we are and what we become."
Kahlana Barfield Brown

Growing up, I loved clothes. Even in high school while making minimum wage working in retail, I realized that fashion and beauty were my form of escapism — a bullhorn for self-expression and storytelling without the use of words. Luckily, I had parents who never pushed me toward a specific career path. Instead, they encouraged me to become the best version of myself. That allowed me to pursue a career I was passionate about. After college, I landed my dream job as a beauty assistant at InStyle. Fortunately, I worked with people who believed in me, invested in me, and supported me along the way -- all of which are extremely rare for Black women in corporate America. But as I climbed the ranks, I began to seek true purpose. I wanted to feel that I was doing my part to genuinely make the world a better place, particularly for people who looked like me and faced similar obstacles. That meant using my voice to highlight, amplify and create opportunities for people of color. But it also helped me understand that my career doesn’t define me.

My true purpose in life begins when my 9 to 5 ends. Over the years, I've watched so many of my peers prioritize their careers to the point that family became an afterthought. For me, starting a family was paramount to fulfilling my purpose on earth. And now I realize that motherhood is the single most important role I will ever play. There is simply nothing more gratifying for me than knowing my husband and I are teaching our children valuable lessons in love, empowerment, compassion, and humanity.

We are all different people with different life experiences, and we value different things. True progress is looking deep down inside and figuring out what you want and pursuing it. This passion allows you to “show up” in all aspects of your life. And when you’re helping others along the way, that’s undoubtedly the most rewarding type of progress. No matter what you're wearing.


Samira Rashid, Washington, DC

Progress is freedom

“Progress is undeniably visible with each opportunity I have to be on set with those of my community that serve as the talent and/ or driving force behind a brand.

As a Black Woman, and a creative this progress is freeing. It also highlights the progressive recognition and ownership of our culture’s creativity.”

Samira Rashid

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The Keds Hand-Book for Women: the progress issue


Progress is being community-focused

Christina Fagan Pardy, founder of Sh*t That I Knit, on using her platform to support artisans.

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Progress is stagnant

Michelle Dalzon, founder of theBOM (Black-Owned Market) on increasing the circulation of the Black dollar.

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Power is representation

Alana Mayo, head of production and development at production company Outlier Society, speaks about the importance of using your own power to lift others up.

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