NYC week/Day 1: WWHW? HbyH!


***EARTHCANDY is in New York City this week and spotlighting some of the FOOD, FASHION & FLYNESS that the Big Apple has to offer.***

Everybody and their Mama is familiar with the rubber wristbands that read,  “WWJD”(What.Would.Jesus.Do). Well, here’s a new one you may not have heard of: WWHW? (What.Would.Harriet.Wear?)

Huh? What? Harriet? As in Tubman?

Why, YES!!! How did you ever guess? 🙂

Seriously, Harriet Tubman was a woman well known for her fierce spirit and fearlessness as she lead many of her people to freedom. Well, one woman took the time to ponder, “What was Harriet Tubman’s fashion sense like? I wonder what she wore…and more, what would she ‘rock’ today?

Hence, the birth of Harriet’s by Hekima.

Originally, Hekima Hapa (along with her partner Ngozi Odita) came up with a masterplan to open a boutique in Brooklyn, NY (Hekima being the designer and Ngozi handling the administration) that would feature Afri-chic couture with a line called Harriet’s Alter Ego. For seven consecutive years, Harriet’s Alter Ego contributed to the fashion landscape of Brooklyn and beyond, offering a unique voice and eye-catching pieces from Flatbush to the catwalk.

Harriet's Alter Ego in Brooklyn, NY

They have since grown into a lifestyle brand that not only includes women’s apparel, but also offers image consulting and event production. Having owned a boutique and art gallery that was a destination for music, fashion and art enthusiasts, they were able to create a base from which their network grew beyond Brooklyn to include people from across the nation and overseas.

While living in NYC in the early 2000’s, a mutual friend of Hekima’s and mine INSISTED I go to the boutique. Taking his advice, I walked into the ‘fashion incubator’ for independent artists, and never left until I moved to ATL 3 years later! The creative energy and more importantly, the sisterhood within those four walls was so inspiring to me. I learned some sewing techniques while there, and soon after, I became the official caterer for their once-a-month brunches! (That’s actually how my EARTHCANDY GOURMET VEGAN CUISINE catering business began :-))

Unbeknownst to me, these women were not merely selling a product; they were building a movement of some next level fashion, art & music ish!!!

They orchestrate guerrilla-style fashion shows in various places throughout NYC…

…and Harriet’s also ‘luh’ da kids!

I’m here in NYC this week, and I caught up with my dear pal Hekima Hapa and got a chance to reminisce on the good ‘ol days in the boutique and  talk about her newfound motherhood (two times over!). She has since launched her new line, Harriet’s by Hekima. Despite being there for many years watching the alchemy of her turning fabric, needle and thread into works of fashionable art,  I wanted to get deeper in her mind and learn the inner-makings of  this fashionista extraordinaire…



































EARTHCANDY: Define fashion…

HARRIET’S by HEKIMA: basic human need + consumerism = FASHION

EC: How would you define your city’s fashion? (NYC)

HbyH: NYC (not necessarily my city): oversensationalized

EC: When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?

HbyH: Watching my mother sew as a child influenced my passion for fashion. I’m not sure exactly what age, though it seems like it’s in my DNA.

EC: What was the first article of clothing you ever made?

Does my couture line of doll clothing count?

EC: What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?

HbyH: Co-owner and operator of Harriet’s Alter Ego boutique, and a teaching artist for Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts

EC:  Who are some of YOUR fave designers?

HbyH: Brenda Bey Brunson, Tracy Reese, Alexander McQueen, Vivian Westwood, Missoni

EC:  What do you DISLIKE about designing clothes?

HbyH: Fashion is very environmentally irresponsible as a whole. Also, its inability to recognize conributions by people of color.

EC:  What are your favorite fabrics to work with and why?

HbyH: Cotton wax cloth, commonly used in traditional African clothing. It’s inexpensive & obtainable, yet makes a royal statement.

EC:  How would you define the style of your clothing line?

HbyH: African-Cultured Couture

There you have it; short, sweet and direct. Just like Hekima! LOL!

She’s started fundraising for a project in the works and is fulfilling her dreams, one seam at a time :-).

Here’a a link to Harriet’s by Hekima,  and for all things Harriet’s Alter Ego, go to:


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