Written by: Sharon Mills
HBCUs are the breeding ground for Black Excellence and Asia Milia exemplifies that. This Hampton University Class of 2017 Alumna was already making strides in her career before she even walked across the stage. She graduated from Hampton University with a BA in Strategic Communications and she is currently working at In-Style Magazine while also maintaining her very own website, asiamilia.com. Can y'all say #GOALS.
At the age of 21, she has worked with brands like Fashion Bomb Daily, Hot97, Essence, and New York Fashion Week. Yes you read that right. She has covered events at NYFW in undergrad. There is not one box you can put her in, she's simply Asia Milia. Check out her interview with our team member Sharon Mills below!
Sharon: Who are your influences or inspirations that made you, you?
Asia: So I have people that inspire me that I look up to & I have people that more so motivate me. In the industry, my number one answer is always Claire Sulmmers I’ve looked up to her since I wanted to go into the industry. She’s Editor-in-Chief & Founder of Fashion Bomb Daily which I’m blessed enough to work with now. everything about her - her work ethic, style, journey, leadership - everything about her inspires me.
If you’re to ask who inspires me to be who I am now, I would definitely say my mom because she always pushes me and supports me and she never told me no when it comes to something I want to do. She was never like “Oh I don’t think you can do that”. My boyfriend, he always supports me and without those two, i don’t think I’ll be where I am because they are my support system. I also have great friends. I have a very small circle. Those are the people who I can call or text at 2 or 3 in the morning with an idea or anything and they always pick up and believe in me.
I also have a big sister from Hampton who inspires me and then my little cousin (17 years old) and my niece (8 years old). They inspire me because I feel like I have to do it for them. They don’t really have anyone else in the family to look up to and say like – not only did she graduate from college but she did it like this. When I was in college, I had my own brand. I worked with amazing brands and you know, I am who I am. I feel like they need that to look up to. They inspire me because I know if I just give up, I know that I have them looking up to me & I don’t want them to ever think it’s okay to just give up.
Sharon: I completely understand what you mean. I feel the same way about my niece she’s five and I want to show her there are other ways that you can be successful outside of a 9-5. I totally understand what you mean. But another question I have you is: How would you describe your style? I feel like you’re not in one category with your style either. It definitely resembles your personality in my opinion but how would you describe it?
Asia: Yeah it does. I don’t like to box my style because I’m someone who can step outside with a pant suit one day and slay it then step out with a bodycon dress the other day. I say my style, it’s me. This question is always hard for me because I feel like there’s not a word to describe myself. Its not anything eccentric or anything or extremely out of the box. I just think my style is me. It’s fun, young, while still professional. That’s why blazers are like my number one thing. I also love prints. When I think of my style, I think about me and everything that I represent. I am a walking brand. So whatever I put on, I have to represent who I am.
Sharon: So being an HBCU grad [Hampton University], how important do you think Black spaces are? Not just in education but overall in society.
Asia: It’s extremely important because when you live in a country that’s not for you, you need outlets that are for you. It’s important because everyone else in the world has outlets and models to look up to. When I say models I don’t mean like models on the magazine. We need models in everything and we need to be in everything. This country is not for us, honestly. Going to an HBCU, the thing is everyone always preaches “I’m Woke” or “Stay Woke” but the reality is, who really is? People say it for social media and everything but it’s so important for us to have black outlets and stuff for us because it’s like for the people who claim their woke but aren’t really woke to have that [black outlets] there for them, it may make them think maybe I’m not “woke” but I need to see this or I need to hear this. Seeing Black bloggers or Black reporters, black educated women and men it’s important because we deserve to have that example of people for our culture.
I also think it is important to know the other side as well because. Going to an HBCU was the best decision I ever made. I’ve worked for my HBCU [Hampton], I worked for Essence that’s for black women & I loved it. My blog empowers black women. I’m also with Fashion Bomb Daily which is a team of Black Women but I’m excited to be branching out to InStyle magazine which caters to all women. In order to understand why you’re going so hard for your [Black American] culture, you need to understand the American Culture as well.
Sharon: What would you say to women starting their fitness journey?
Asia: I would say really know what you’re getting yourself into and get ready. I say this because it’s so easy to say oh I’m gonna go on a diet. I hate that word diet because you shouldn’t diet. Make it your lifestyle. You can diet but when you’re done you’re just going to go back to the same things you were doing before? But when you make it a lifestyle, if you fall off, it’s okay. You’re not going to break down because you know you live a healthy lifestyle anyway I can jump right back into it tomorrow.
Be determined and be ready to be consistent. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Be determined and know what you want. I don’t want to say it’s pointless but it’s like going to school and not knowing if you want your degree. You’re just going to school and taking classes for no reason. If you don’t have the goal of a degree, then you’re there for no reason. And it’s the same thing with a fitness journey. I’m not necessarily saying that you should have a goal weight or a goal look but have a goal like, “Do you want to be healthy?” and also know who you are and be okay with having setbacks because they come. I don’t mean to keep using school but you know sometimes with school, finances fall off and you have to take a semester off from school and you’re not finishing in four years like you wanted to because you were set back and it’s the same thing in a fitness journey. Maybe you went through a breakup, or a financial point where you couldn’t afford to eat healthy or a gym membership, or maybe a loss in the family. But I think it’s important to be okay with and accept setbacks because we live in this social media world where we see people who are doing so amazing. That’s why I share my journey on Instagram like that so you can see when I lost 50 pounds, when I gained 20 pounds, when I lost 5 or gained 30. I want people to see me work to lose it back. I want people to be okay with setbacks because some people would feel like “Dang, I lost” and it shouldn’t be like that. It should be like “I came this far and this happened but I’m going to do it again”. That’s something I wish I would’ve known when I started my fitness journey.
Asia: To go out to events! Even if you’re not the type to go out or if you don’t feel like it, go out to these events! That’s gonna sound like, “What kind of advice is that?” but I say that to say… with me for example: I’m not the type to just go out and be in the mix. But going out and being in the mix is what got me where I am. You’ll get business cards, you’ll meet people you never knew you were going to meet and you never know who’s going to remember you. For example, with Claire Slummers (Editor-in-Chief of Fashion Bomb Daily), I got my internship with Fashion Bomb Daily from going to an event. When you see events on Eventbrite or even Instagram go to them! Even when I was in school, any events I saw with people in the industry that I wanted to be in that were going to be on campus I was like I’ll be there. Meeting these people face to face and passing those business cards, telling them who you are or even giving them your Instagram, they may follow you and now their watching you.
Also, make sure your personal brand is good. I was told this by Gia Peppers, “If your personal brand is good, you’re good! Your personal brand carries through your social media and your day to day life. How you carry yourself in the streets. When you go to these events, don’t get pissy drunk. You never know who’s watching.
Ventress Johnson (TXSU) Sharon Mills (UMES)