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Spotlight: Mr. Black Girls Killing It

Searching for “black fashion bloggers” and only coming up with white faces spurred Neil Alvin to change the game. Googling “fashion inspiration” and seeing only white models, forced Alvin to prove that black girls too, are indeed killing it! Some say that the easiest way to start a revolution is to be so pissed off by something, that you stop sitting on your ass and do something about it. This is exactly what Alvin did and today, it’s safe to say that he owns one of the biggest and most popular fashion blogs, Black Girls Killing It (BGKI). The blog is true to its name and features black women who are so in touch with their personal style and fashion, that photos of their outfits literally #breaktheinternet. These women are beautiful, trendy, fashionable and leading the pack in style. But while his blog and social media accounts are constantly buzzing with shares, likes, retweets and comments, little is known about the man behind the brand; like the fact that a man is actually behind all of this and the fact that he is from the Caribbean. neil1 I “met” Alvin about two years ago when someone commented on a Facebook post showing that he was in The Bahamas and, of course, being as forward as I am I shot him a message. We were supposed to meet up one night to talk fashion and all that goodness but I was chained to my desk at work. I owe him a round of drinks. We’ve remained Facebook friends since then and now I quiz him on the sheer genius behind his brilliant venture.

The blog is true to its name and features black women who are so in touch with their personal style and fashion, that photos of their outfits literally #breaktheinternet.

 
MiniSkirts and Microphones (MAM): Who is Neil Alvin? Outside of being my FB friend I probably would’ve never known who was behind the BGKI phenomenon…tell us about where you live, your career, your style.
Neil Alvin (NA): Do I even know who I am?  Haha, just kidding.  I would say that I’m just a guy that wants to enjoy life, not at retirement, not in ten years, not tomorrow, I want to enjoy life right now.  I am from Barbados in the Caribbean and I still live here. In terms of my career I actually don’t talk about it when I have on my BGKI hat and vice versa.  That is because when I am at the office I don’t want to be distracted by BGKI or when I am home I don’t want to be distracted by work.  I would say I work in Oil & Energy though.  My style, it changes depending on my mood daily but I go through phases where I want to look a certain way, usually lasts about two years then I change it up again.  Right now my last few purchases have been all blazers/jackets and dress shoes and I’m slowly coming out of the printed shirts and a solid color shorts phase.  Hey, I live in paradise.
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MAM: How did you start BGKI and why? Why the name?

NA: I always had a thing for fashion. I used to live with my mom and we had alot of magazines in the house and I read a ton of them. When Tumblr launched, I started one under my name Neil Alvin. One day in 2010, I was reading an article called “Top 50 Fashion Bloggers” and realized none were black. I didn’t know anything about blogging then, but I knew it can’t be true that no top fashion bloggers were black. The same websites I would go to look for fashion tips, I didn’t like to go on them anymore, suddenly I just kept seeing a lot of white girls and it is something I never really paid attention to before. I said I was going to start my own Tumblr and put up black girls. I used to just put up just models because I didn’t know any bloggers. After a year, I had about 400 followers on Tumblr. It was very interactive. Almost every day I got questions. One day someone said, “I prefer your blog to the ‘Black Fashion’ blog. I said, “Black Fashion Blog?”  What’s that?  I googled it.

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Alvin says he quickly realized though, that it might have been a hard sell to get people to Google “Neil Alvin” and realised that he needed some serious branding if he wanted to be seen. So he took a poll on his  website.

NA: I thought of five names and “Black and Killing It” was the one the readers wanted. I wasn’t happy so I called it Black Girls Killing It. I went and got a logo made, registered the website and domain, spending about $1,000 without even thinking about making it back. In the space of a month, after I relaunched as BGKI, I went from 400 to 4,000 followers. I wasn’t doing anything different. I changed the name and it worked. As it grew, I tried to anticipate the needs of the girls. Girls would ask questions and I realized it would be good to have tips on the site. I wasn’t going to pretend like I knew what I was talking about so I interviewed people to work on the tips sections. That’s when the site evolved.

And over the years thousands of “black girls killing it” have been featured and I dare say, got their social media popularity from that one post on the website that carries so much fashion weight. BGKI has 439,216 Facebook likes and 46,600 followers on Instagram (at last count).

MAM: What is a black girl killing it and how do you know when you’ve found her?

NA: A BGKI is a girl that believes she can do anything that she puts her mind to. She is confident, she is willing to take risks and she can inspire. It is easy for me to spot them, in my head I go, “If you’re going to wear that, well damn!” She doesn’t care that she may be going somewhere and all of three people are going to see her, she puts on those clothes and says, “Eh eh eh eh, I’m killing it,” because that is who she is. If she could high five that mirror she would high five that mirror. How do I spot them? Come on, if you’re going to wear a sweater backwards, or take your grandmother’s dress from the 70’s and cut it up and make it into a tank top, or steal your boyfriend’s long sleeve button down and rock it better…you are killing it!

MAM: With the Internet being what it is, I’m sure you have access to beautiful and fashionable black women from all over the globe. What trends, similarities, differences have you seen in women from the U.S., the Caribbean, Africa, Europe etc?

NA:  Well in terms of trends, that’s easy.  The popular bloggers/celebs that have the most people watching them will naturally have a greater influence.  If you see a girl wear something and you like how she did it, you’ll likely do the same and at most put your own twist on it.  So I already know that when certain girls wear certain things, it’s going to get popular but I already know I can find 100+ other girls that consistently dress better. Not every girl that kills it has a blog or cares to have a blogIn terms of similarities and differences, I really can’t make a judgement on an entire city/country on their dress based on the few bloggers I have seen from the place but it really comes down to culture and personal preferences, because the pieces don’t change.  I have seen two girls wear completely different things, on the same ‘chilly day’ in the same city.  One looked like she was battering down for winter and the other was clearly still milking the summer vibes, both killing it!  I believe it really comes down to resources and access.  It depends on which stores ships to which country, does she have access to a sewing machine or to someone that can make something for her that she’s seen online?  Is there a store that provides great material?  Does she thrift? This is because everyone is going to be inspired by the same things, what they see online and in magazines.

Not every girl that kills it has a blog or cares to have a blog

MAM: What’s the difference between fashion and style?

NA: Style is a girl waking up in New York two days before Christmas, putting on a monokini, a dress pants, heels, a blazer, a scarf and going to a bar to do gift exchange with her besties. Hey you, over there that girl you’re staring at and thinking she’s fab, you know she’s wearing a bikini 400 miles from the nearest beach? No.

BGKI has made such an impact on the fashion landscape worldwide that Alvin says even…non-black girls are vying for their spot on the page.

MAM: Have you gotten any feedback or even photos from women of other races to be featured…despite the blatant name? neil3

NA: I do receive photos of other races, and genders. Sometimes it catches me off guard, especially if I’m zoned in. For example, I would come across a photo in my inbox of a white man, on a motorcycle….bareback. But why?  Then I remember, oh yes most people assume BGKI is ran by a girl this photo meant he was trying to hit on me? I don’t know, I’m grabbing straws here.  You would have to tell me, do men send photos randomly like that to girls?

***They don’t send photos like that to me!*** LOL

MAM: Have you been able to monetize this BGKI venture? Is it more popular that we really know?

NA: Yeah, it has been monetized, mostly advertising.  Is it popular? Hmm, that’s hard for me to judge accurately because I am not really “out there” per say.  I have noticed though if  I mention BGKI 8 times out of 10, the girl is aware of it already.

MAM: What’s next for this empire?

NA: If I told you I’d have to kill you.

From the millions of photo collages, selfies, posts and uploads of people in their Sunday’s best, there are tons of girls out there who think they are killing it and might be right about that. Alvin says it’s real easy to snag a spot on this site. You can hit the submit link and upload high quality photos, if he comes across you browsing the web or if you hit him up directly.

BGKI has made such an impact on the fashion landscape worldwide that Alvin says even…non-black girls are vying for their spot on the page.

Black girl, continue to kill it!

Check out Alvin’s website at www.blackandkilling.com  

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3 Responses
  • ade
    February 14, 2015

    It’s nice to know that men are also passionate about women’s fashion
    http://www.coilsandglory.com

  • Trimaine Rowe
    February 4, 2015

    Cool interview. Keep up the Great work dude. Alot more can be said, but I’ll end it there #NeilAlvinBLESSUP

  • Neil Alvin
    February 3, 2015

    Thank you Ianthia, for reaching out to me and also for supporting the movement! I enjoyed the interview and amazingly enough, you asked a question that was never asked of me before. I actually went back through all past interviews and was like wait, hold up…. lol. #teamBGKI