Visionary Director, Party Producer, Style Maven, Lady of Leisure, Jordan 3 Villain, TomBoy Extraordinaire, Luxury Handbag Queen, Vintage Don, Fashion Addict and Art Nerd. This is Vashtie Kola, or as she is often called “Downtown’s Sweetheart.” With a friendly demeanor and uncanny ability in bridging the gap between underground cool and industry mainstream, Vashtie can take a meeting with cigar chomping execs and chill with graffiti crews on the streets of the East Village in New York City, where she currently resides.
Born and raised in Albany, NY as the youngest of three children of Trinidadian parents, Vashtie was reborn in New York City in 1999. Her sights were set on the film world as she attended The School Of Visual Arts in Manhattan to study directing/cinematography.
Upon graduation in 2005, she was signed to Box Fresh Pictures as a Director alongside Anthony Mandler. Many of her first videos were done with this company, including videos for artists such as Beans, J-Status and Tony Hussle. At the same time, she was also writing music video treatments for established directors such as Anthony Mandler, Lenny Bass and Dr. Teeth & for Common’s video “Testify” which starred Taraji P. Henson and Wood Harris.
In 2006, she was asked to re-vamp the company of Island Def Jam as Director of Creative Services. Antonio “LA” Reid, president of Def Jam, said she would be “the one to keep the building cool, someone in tune with downtown cool and pop mainstream.” The corporate work environment took its toll on Vashtie. She found her creative expression was stifled. In 2007, she left her job at Def Jam to once again pursue her directing career.
Feeling the creative energy flowing, Vashtie continued her directing path. She shot an independent music video for the song “Us Placers” off of a Kanye West mixtape, which features child versions of Kanye and featured artists Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams. The personal project was commissioned entirely by Vashtie and was a huge success, reaching a million hits via YouTube in less than a day. Soon after, she was once again back in the director’s seat creating music videos for Solange (“T.O.N.Y.”), Kid Cudi (“Heaven At Night”), Jadakiss featuring Faith Evans (“Letter to B.I.G.”), Justin Bieber (“One Love”) and more.
Also in 2006, Vashtie started an iconic monthly 90’s party with her best friend Oscar Sanchez, titled “1992”. Spinning only music from the early 90’s, the event brought out a mix of tastemakers and celebrities such as Ne-Yo, Jermaine Dupri, Patrick Ewing, Redman, DJ Premier, The Clipse, Maxwell, Kid Cudi and more. Although its residency is in New York City, the party has spread as far as Miami, Paris and Amsterdam. In 2008, 1992 was nominated for Best Party at the Paper Magazine Nightlife Awards and also received a style feature in The New York Time.
With the overwhelming response to 1992, Grammy award winner Q-Tip asked her to join forces to create a weekly party at Santos in Manhattan alongside DJ Rich Medina called Open. Like 1992, it attracts a mix of people you won’t find anywhere else; celebrities ranging from Jay-Z and Diddy to Mick Jagger and Ben Stiller. Like all of Vashtie’s events, her main concern is creating an environment where everyone is welcome. All types of people, all different styles and scenes, can come together and have fun without barriers.
Among the overload of brands launching every season, Vashtie never found one brand that consistently represented her tomboy flair and high fashion sensibility. With this in mind, Vashtie created her own line, VIOLETTE. With an official debut in Fall 2008, the clothing is inspired by a mix of opposite worlds: uptown and downtown, hip-hop and rock, feminine and masculine, casual and couture.
As Vashtie says, “Imagine if Louis Vuitton had a daughter living in the Lower East Side – she’d be rocking a luxury handbag and a fly pair of kicks. Her wardrobe would consist of rare designer items and delicate vintage pieces. With superb style that is effortless and uncontrived, she starts trends without thinking. The harmony of contrasts is a distinction of her true sense of fashion.”
VIOLETTE is currently carried at specialty boutiques across the globe like Colette (Paris), Essence (Yokohama, Japan), and Fruition (Las Vegas). While still expanding, VIOLETTE is primarily be for the Ladies but, there is also a VIOLETTE HOMME line dedicated to the Gentlemen.