UndraCeleste New York

Grace Beat Grind in 2017

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Can you believe 2017 is coming to an end in a few days? What a year it has been! 

As bad as things may seem in the world, if you're reading this - you've made it and that's more than enough to be grateful for. 

This has been a really good year for me. Did I get everything I wanted and planned for? No. But by God's grace I received more than I asked for.

Two of my favorite scriptures in the Bible are:

Ephesians 3:20; "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." 

Matthew 6:34; "Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

These messages basically sums up my 2017. I started the year with a very detailed, bullet'd set of goals. Things I had to accomplish in order to feel progressive and good about myself. I don't do as most, and put away my list by the end of January - I kept it posted on my office and bedroom wall. Every quarter and each month I did action steps to make sure everything was going according to plan. I had accountability meetings with my sister and mother and we encouraged each other to push forward. I was focused, determined and on the GRIND. And just to make sure God was on board I fasted and prayed at the beginning of the year. Setting my list of details before the Lord - essentially giving Him my plan for my life (side-eye). I was ready! 

The year started out good. I had recently (November 2016) parted ways with an ex-boyfriend. I was at peace with that decision and told God I didn't want to date anyone for at least 6 months. Relationships and/or dating were not on my goal list, no judgement to anyone who does plan for love, I just don't. Anyway, I was good and taking life one bullet point at a time. Until March, when the bottom sort of fell out from under me. See, many may not know this but I still have a day job. I shouldn't, but I do. One day I'll write about keeping a day job when God doesn't want you to but that's not the burden of this post. In March my job gives it's yearly reviews. I was super excited about mine because I had really worked hard (GRIND) in 2016. I got a bunch of accolades etc for my work, so I know I was going to crush this review. Except for one thing, back in February, a month earlier, I got in a heated disagreement with one of my sales persons. She's a nice lady but when it comes to her bottom-line she tends to only think of herself, it's my job to think of the brand and team. I'll spare you the full details but my boss heard about it and it was just not good with us from that point on. I didn't stress it too much as it related to my review because; 1) that happened in 2017, this was a 2016 review. 2) I had receipts to verify my awesome 2016. Fast forward to March, my boss and I are sitting across from each other. I noticed my review form was blank but didn't think into it too much. She sits back in her chair and says, "well Undra, I just don't think you did your job well, so we're going to not give you a raise or bonus this year...". That statement took the complete wind out of me. Not so much about the money, I was making more than the bonus in my business anyway, but that fact that I put in the work and we both knew it! The feeling I felt sitting across from her can only be described in comparison to getting robbed. If you've ever been mugged (I have), you feel empty and violated. Like you're looking for something to grab onto emotionally, but can't. We went back and forth a litter bit but to be honest I was in shock, so I didn't have much of a comeback. I went home that day and cried myself to sleep. The next day, I got DRESSED (lol - it's my amour) got to work and printed every email from 2016 where I was commended, praised and encouraged for my great work - it was 19 separate emails total (over 100 pages when printed). I had a follow-up meetings with the VP of the company, HR and my boss - the short of it is, the battle (for me) ended in September when my boss told everyone, "I don't know why I feel she didn't do a good job, I need to think about it and get back to everyone" I haven't heard anything since - It's Dec 27th. I'm telling you this long story for a few reason, first, the experience changed my life. The experience brought me to the feet of God, in an entirely new way - I was emptied. I have never really been emotionally emptied before, I always had something to "give" or tell God. Secondly, around this same time the hashtag #blackwomenatwork was popular and this is my story too. Yes, my boss is a white woman. Yes, the salesperson is also a white woman. Yes, I'm the only black face on my team. Yes, the HR person and VP who essentially did nothing are both white. The popularity of that hashtag gave me a little life and made me feel less alone. It was divine timing (God can use who or what ever He wants). I can write a book (I won't) on the perils of #Blackwomenatwork but that also is not the burden of this post. God allowed that incident to empty me so his GRACE could take over. 

In May, almost 6 months after I broke up with my ex, I met the love of my life. We actually met 3 years earlier but i didn't like him. He would call me once a year, every year - this time I agreed to go to dinner with him and it was as if my eyes were opened to this amazing man. He admitted he'd made some changes in his life as well. Whatever it was, we have been inseparable ever since - GRACE. 

In August, I had designed an entire collection with the hopes of showing during NYFW. I had a meeting with Brandice, the CEO of Harlem's Fashion Row and did a presentation of my collection. A few days later I got an email that I wasn't ready and maybe next year. I literally thanked them for their time and thanked God for whatever the lesson was in the rejection - I did not fret or stress. In September, 6 days before the show. I got an email that someone had dropped out of the show and if I wanted I could be in. When I spoke with Brandice, she literally said to me "girl God must want you to be in this show because everything is falling into your favor". My team pulled together an entire NYFW show in 6 days. It was AMAZING. The collection received praise on Essence, NYT, Fashion Bomb Daily, The Root, Fashionista, Hello Beautiful, The YBF, Getty Images and so many more. It was more than I imagined the experience would be - GRACE. 

Then in November I got another email asking to be a part of a design collaboration that will change my business forever. I can't speak on it now (confidentiality agreements and such) but it's the literal manifestation of Eph 3:20 - GRACE

This year I also launched Well Read Inc, a children's subscription box that provided culturally relevant books to African-American children ages 3-12. This was truly GRACE because it was totally outside of my comfort zone, but the Lord put it in my head and heart to start it. Well Read is ending the year in the black (woohoo) - GRACE. 

I can positively say GRACE beat out GRIND in 2017. So much so I've been having a hard time deciding if I should even do goal for 2018? I recently listened to a podcast by Think & Grow Chick - Grace vs Grind, it's so bomb and packed with gems, I had to listen twice! The main take-away for me was that it's okay to plan and work hard but we have to leave room (a lot of room) for GRACE. Similar to the faith and works concept. God can do anything, use anything or anyone to grant you your hearts desire but we have to put Him first (Matt 6:33).

I have decided to make some goals for 2018 - mostly around my health and well-being. I want to move and buy another home, start another business, grow UCNY and Well Read, publish my children's book series I wrote in 2013...and just grow in every way that God needs me to grow in order to be truly of service to Him. Society make us (especially Black women) feel that we have to "hustle", "grind", be "team NO Sleep" all the time - it's a lie. Because of GRACE I'm going into the new year with peace, feeling accomplished, guided and loved!!!!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!



Jamaica: Self-care by any means

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I often hear from friends and family things like "gurl, how do you do it?", "you're the hardest working person I know" or "you're a beast"...the truth is most times I don't take it as a compliment. When I was 29 years old comments like these made me feel like a superhero. Today, it makes me feel like I'm not doing something right! Don't get me wrong I love what I do and most times I'm the one pushing myself to do more. But I can't help thinking it's also a reflection, a. not having or fully trusting and relying on a team, b. being a perfectionist, c. working hard, not smart or d. all of the above. I'll take D for $1,000 Alex! If I were, to be honest, I didn't start writing this to lie, it starts to feel like I'm hustling backwards. I have plans to correct A-C in the coming months - but you know that's more work too, right? What I needed last week was not more work but less to push my business forward. That's exactly what God gave me on my recent Jamaica vacation.  My love and I decided way back in June to take an end-of-summer vacation, it would be our first one together! We planned and packed, made our way to the airport and right before boarding our flight the gate attendant refused to let him on the flight because his passport had some minor water damage. He was sent to the passport office for a replacement, I boarded the flight to Jamaica alone. Please don't side-eye me here - the flight to Jamaica the following day only had one seat left. 


Anyway, I arrived in Jamaica, checked-in and started 36-hours of alone time - filled with rest, prayer, reflection, thankfulness and did I mention REST! It was EXACTLY what God had in store for me the entire time. God knows I need to "sid-down" somewhere sometimes and if I don't he'll make a way. This experience, as well as the NYFW show, taught me that I need to truly let-go and let-God more. This is not just a cute saying or inspirational quote for IG, it's truly a way of life. For someone like me, it's difficult to now "work" for everything. I've been working since I was 14 years old! It takes trust in God and yourself to stop trying to force success, opportunities, relationships, just life in general. Know that what's for you is for you! And if you don't have "it" yet, you're equipped with the talent to get it. It's important to know that the work is necessary but never to our determent.
My honey got his passport and arrived the next day without issue. We had a great time and now I'm back to work! 

HE MADE IT!!!!!! 

HE MADE IT!!!!!! 

Fall 2017 NYFW Press

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Instagram, Facebook & InstaStories

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Brandice of Harlem's Fashion Row Talks to New York Times about 10 Years in Fashion! 





Getty Images Catches us backstage! 

Our First NYFW Show - It was all a DREAM (Biggie voice)!!!

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On September 6th, 2017 I had my first New York Fashion Week runway show. It was a dream, but more importantly a testimony of my faith! I've been a long follower and supporter of Brandice and Harlem's Fashion Row. Every year since UCNY has been alive I've tried to attach UCNY to HFR by doing either their pop shops, seminars and even worked with them on a few special projects. When the year started I knew I wanted to make this the year that UCNY walked the HFR runway. I designed, applied and got rejected! No problem. When I got rejected I was in the mist of a 10-day fast and prayer. I was in a state of peace and couldn't fret about my rejection. I knew that God was in control and another opportunity would come for me to showcase my brand. It was literally "well with my soul". Fast forward 7 days before the show - I get a call that whatever happened, happened and that I was in the show! I had 7 days to pull together a NYFW worthy presentation! Nerves? Not really any time for them. I pulled together my already designed Fall'17 collection (#StayReady), selected what i thought was worthy of the runway and was still six looks short. I called together my dream team, headed my faithful cousin Shekima. I was able to design and sew 6 looks in 2 days. The models? Cast, booked and fit in 12 hours! On Wednesday morning I was ready - tired, but ready! The forecast said rain - I prayed for it to stop - it didn't! Every model was perfect. The make-up was perfect. The hair was perfect. The clothes were PERFECT! With very little hiccups for my first NYFW show it was like a literally DREAM! Something that seems too perfect to have actually had happened. Rain and all, God was in complete control!!!

Top Accessories for Spring 2017

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Spring is now for certain here but what are the hottest accessories trends that the top fashionistas are using today. This season it’s all about the reinvention of the handbag. From bottomless bags to micro bags that you just but your lip balm in, all of these trends are for certain going to be on the streets and think about it, no structure bags equals carry more where micro minis you carry less. The designers were probably thinking of me when making these. It’ll be cool to have a bag that you can carry anything in and then a bag for when you want to leave everything at home.

Travel Diary- Houston, Texas

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How was April? We hope it was well and that you missed us. There is some exciting news that is coming your way on May 24th. As always keep following us on all our platforms and be ready for a huge post on our big announcement on the 24th.

I went to visit family and friends in Houston and it was great refresher from the city. While there, I went to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to see the Ron Mueck exhibition. His pieces brought the unreal and real together to create sculptures that take you a different land. It was a beautiful and eerie exhibition. If you’re Houston and want to step out of reality, check it out

Graphic Images Below

And to lighten the mood... Go be a boss in life! 


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This month was filled with a lot of black magic and it just shows how amazing we are. As black history month closes, don't forget that celebrating black magic never stops. Here's a reminder: always prosper, always lift your community, always give, and never stop being magical. 


Iconic Black Fashion Influencers and Designers

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As Black History Month is coming to an end, we want to bring light the top fashion designers and influencers that help make fashion great. Black fashion have been changing the game of fashion since day one and we love to put the spotlight on the people that helped do that. 




Also, if you want to see current and historical, iconic designs by African Americans check out the Black Designer Exhibition at FIT in NYC. It's amazing showcase of new and old designs that highlight black fashion throughout the decades and bring light to the hardships that black designers had. 

It's Our Anniversary

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Thank You - this fashion week, February 7th to be exact, UCNY turns 2!!! What a time to be 2 years old - ha. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for your love and support. Because of your support UCNY has been able to grow online as well as with some great retailer. We look forward to another great year with many new and exciting things coming soon! 


Behind the Scenes Photoshoot #UCNYFall17

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It’s finally here! Are you excited? This photoshoot has been long in the making. Here are some behind the scene moments to give a teaser to what's coming soon. Take a look and get excited for our newest collection. Preview the full Fall 17 collection February 26th on Facebook Live.   

Special thanks to the amazing talent that helped bring these pieces to life.  

MUA: Shekima Francois . Model: Ebony Jackson . Assistant: Emilie Alexander .

Photographer: Erin Williams

Michelle Obama Top Five Looks

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Michelle Obama has given class and chic a new definition in the past eight years. Showing off her amazing body while playing with structure and prints her style screams a bad a** boss (and also UCNY). Below are our top five looks that she has slayed in the last eight years.

And again, thank you for showing style, class, chic and being a boss.  

Farewell Obamas

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President Barack Obama served approximately 2,920 days in office, that included two inaugurations, many setbacks and greater accomplishments. His greatest accomplishment was completing his mission statement that he started day one of becoming president. In current events, when it seems like America is embracing a mighty storm, in the midst is hope. Without any doubt, you can always rely on hope and determination to bring you through your hardest times. President Obama's mission was to reignite the hope in America that citizens were beginning to lose and because of him and everything that he has accomplished he brought back the hope. Below is my note to the powerful, brilliant President Barack Obama. 

To President Barack Obama, 

On Thursday, January 19th, 2017, you packed your bags, put down your pen and shut off the lights of the Oval Office. The many calls, texts, emails and tweets have already shown you how America will miss you and how much we appreciate you. So, I’m not going to sit here and tell you what you already heard, I’m only going to say what you taught me to move forward with. You and your family revealed that determination, class, respect and faith can move mountains in any situation. I use that when I’m exploring new business adventures or when I’m simply confused and frightful of where our country is headed. Thank you for showing that your faith is apart of you while showing the significance of facing racism in this country. Thank you for being an amazing African-American role model that I and my peers can look up to with pride. Simply, thank you for being you President Obama. So instead of farewell, see you soon fighting the America fight.

UCNY + Harlem's Fashion Row Black Friday POP-UP SHOP

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One of my favorite fashion companies, Harlem's Fashion Row (HFR), is having a pop up shop on Black Friday in Harlem from 3pm -  9pm. HFR provides a platform for multicultural fashion designers. Now, this is our chance to speak with our dollars. You're going to be spending money on holiday shopping. This is an opportunity to be thoughtful about where you spend your dollars, have a good time, and meet new people all at the same time. Use the link is below to RSVP. You'll also find the venue in the link. I hope you can make it! Feel free to pass this on to your network.

RSVP TODAY AT: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/h arlemss-fashion-row-black-frid ay-pop-up-shop-tickets-2932708 1089

The 18th Annual AKA PAO Fundraising Gala

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This past weekend I flew out to Arkansas to do my first ever runway show. Yes - it was miles and worlds away from the New York fashion scene but I great opportunity to get my runway/presentation feet wet. I ended up having a blast and the ladies of AKA PAO were so gracious and accommodating. The models for the show were awesome female athletes and one even won silver is the Rio Olympics!! This event pushed me - I came back inspired to and motivated to do NYFW in February - STAY TUNED! 

...and yes that the BK Anthem playing.



Black Genius + Hello Lover

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Black Genius + Hello Lover Coat

I was honored to be apart of the BG feature on creatives. The shoot
location was magic! I'm from Brooklyn and very familiar with most of
it - But was surprised to find the location in Dumbo had a facelift.
Artist, Coby Kennedy painted the large YES murals in 2013. They spoke
right into me as I've been in a mode of saying YES to God lately. I'm
not operating in fear. I, just like the paintings am bold, beautiful
and daring! It's not an easy thing for me to get in front of the
camera but I said YES. So here I am dressed in this fab wrap dress and
cashmere coat and taking to the streets of Dumbo Brooklyn - YASSSS!

By The way - Did you Pre-order your Hello Lover Coat? I'm in love with this coat and how it's perfect for the fall/winter season. Pre-order is now closed; however, be on the look out for the released date to buy your own beautiful Hello Lover Coat. 

87 Days Left of 2016 - oh my...

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87 Days left of 2016 – Oh my…


A few years ago, a friend and I put together an event to mark the half-way point of our year. We called it the “The Six Month Check-In”. The premise was, to get a group of  women together and do a six month check in on new year resolutions and provide motivation to go forward. We picked a great restaurant in NYC and hired a decorated psychologist to talk to us about staying focused. Everyone in attendance loved the event and encouraged us to do it every six months. We promised…that was 2 years ago…yikes…

We meant well, we really did. So today, with less than 3 months left of the year, I would like to revisit the idea of the in-year check in and share 5 tips on how to end 2016 with a bang!

1.       Give yourself credit. Over the last 9 months I have done A LOT! I’m sure you've gotten many things marked off your lists as well. Whatever it might be, even if it’s something small – celebrate. I upgraded my gym membership earlier this year with hopes of going more and utilizing all of the amenities. I went about five times in nine months. But you know what? I’m NOT going to focus on the countless times I didn't go. I’m going to focus on the five times I went and the exhilarating feeling I had afterwards and let THAT be the motivation to get there 5 times in October, and many more times after that. It’s about perspective – focus on what you've accomplished, celebrate and build from there!

2.       Plan to build on what you started. Now that you see how awesome you already are. Take it a step further. Plan a few small end of year resolutions. Make the goals small and tangible. Setting these types of goals and achieving them, regardless of how small, releases serotonin (the happiness hormone) which will metabolically inspire you to do more. My end-of-year goal is to get healthy! I have 2 doctor appoints scheduled. I’m going back to the gym starting today (clothes are packed). And I’m making better eating choices as we speak. I ordered sushi and fresh squeezed juice for lunch. I know this is an odd time to want to “get healthy” with the holidays approaching – but during fashion and market week in September, I did not treat my body well. In late, up early and eating just about anything. It was way too much. So now I’m focused and as long as I make better daily food choices, i can make provisions for the feast days ahead!

  The point is to make small goals in October that you can commit to and achieve by December. You’ll feel charged going into 2017.

3.       Write it all down. Please. Please. Please. Write it down. I read a lot of business and self-help books – including the Bible. And one piece of advice that they all share is the importance of writing down your goals. The Bible says in Habakkuk 2:2, “and the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it”. Most people are familiar with the first part of this scripture, but neglect the second part – “…that he may run that readeth it”, the simple exercise of writing down a goal and reading it back again will inspire you to “run”. Writing makes it real, it now exist somewhere in the universes besides our head. I start every year with a new physical calendar and journal. I write down everything, even things I know I won’t forget. But let me clear, when I say write, I mean write. I know we live in a digital world and just about everything goes on our phones and tablets - but for me pen and paper are paramount. I need to feel the excitement of drawing a line or adding a check once something is complete. However if you must go digital, do not forget to go back and re-read what you wrote…and figure out a way to cross it off once the goal is complete. It exhilarating!!!

4.       Let the right people know! So this is a hard one for most people, myself included. We like to make our plans, write them in our locked journal and not tell a soul. That’s not good. Two important keys: first tell the right person. Studies show that at every age we are affected by the people we interact with. Peer pressure is not something we leave behind in junior high, it affects us immensely throughout our entire lives. I recently read, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and he noted some research that found that regardless of upbringing most people make decisions based on context. Context includes physical environment and the people you're around. I mention this because this directly relates to who you tell your plans to. Some people will get it and motivate you. Some people will not get it and motivate you (my corner). But others will never get it and will help you talk yourself right out of your blessings.

Secondly, telling folks will hold you accountable. I have a huge goal – I’m not telling you just yet. Ha. But I’ve literally told every person that would listen what I plan to do the end of the year. I’ve gotten varying responses, and that's fine, but the point for me is that it makes me accountable. I’ve told 234,975 people that I’m doing this…let me figure out how not to look like a liar!

5.       Enjoy the holidays! Look – at the end of the day, it’s the end of the year! Make time to enjoy your life, achievements, family and friends. I love the holidays and in years past I’m always working to chase the crazy fashion calendar that’s fast approaching again in February. But this year I have a lot to be thankful for and I’m making time to be grateful. I would encourage you to do the same. We'll get into planning 2017 soon, but in the meanwhile dream the biggest most grandiose dreams you can imagine for you life and write them down! 

Let's talk soon! 


Why I'm Gucci!

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Why I’m Gucci!

Alessandro Michele – you inspire me.

You might find it odd that a designer would sing praises to another designer – this isn’t all about design it’s about vision and purpose.

Alessandro was appointed creative director of Gucci in January of 2015, after being in the background of the previous creative directors for 12 years. He waited, grinded, proved himself and when, Marco Bizzarri, the new CEO met with him for a 30 minute chat and tea, four hours later, he practically had the job! Michele, was not only amazing at designing clothes but he had a vision for reinventing the entire brand. But before this meeting, he was literally unknown.

“But the reinvention of Gucci was underway. With each careful step since the first show, Bizzarri and Michele have engineered a complete rethinking of the company’s collections, branding, advertising, store concept and, even, corporate culture.” – Business of Fashion, September 2015.

Of course I don’t know Michele personally but because I’m a betting women, I’m going to say without a doubt  that he’s familiar with the principles of, hard work + timing + faith + perseverance = success.

It’s not an easy formula, but it’s what I’m leaning on for the success of my brand. There is so much to learn from a good come up or comeback story like Gucci, but if you don’t get anything else, put in the work and just like Michele - everything will come up GUCCI!!!

To read more about the reinvention and branding of Gucci - https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/ceo-talk/reinventing-gucci

Fashion Week!

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September and February are my favorite months of the year! Both contain fashion weeks, on contains my birthday! This September was an exciting time for the brand. We landed our first showroom as a brand, in the historic Showroom Seven! What a dream come true. We opened some great new accounts and met a host of great buyers, stylist and all around cool people. 


On September 10th we had the pleasure of participating in the Harlem Fashion Row Pop-Up event again. It was a fantastic event and again I met a lot of great and interesting people. I'm looking forward to doing it again in February. 


We also did our first Facebook Live seasonal photoshoot. In case you missed it here is an exclusive look behind the scenes. 

Models: Janine Tondu and Katia Michalo

MUA: Shekima Francois

Photographer: James Norton

Assistant: Emilie Alexander

Stylist: Me! 

All Summer'16 Street Styles

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Here are a few ladies that indulged in our Summer'16 collection and looked absolutely fabulous doing so...

Blogger, Susan - He's Just That In To You! 

Kelly - Student + model