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K2K celebrates difference in We Stand United
The 2017 Medium Band of the Year, K2K Alliance and Partners, known simply as K2K recently launched their 2018 presentation We Stand United. Led by the Norman Sisters—Kathy and Karen, the presentation was filled with all the high drama and couture to which their fans have become accustomed. In an interview with the T&T Guardian, they show how they have taken their brand beyond mas and reveal plans for their empowerment series, The Color of Courage.
Q: In 2018, the band will be called We Stand United. What is behind the theme, what was the influence?
The theme We Stand United was envisioned for 2020 but was accelerated to 2018 given the global socio-political environment.
Instead of focusing on negative externalities and factors that make us different, the theme hones in on topics that unite us all—eg, love, faith, brotherhood, family, resilience that is born through struggle. History has shown that our traditions and religious beliefs shape us and even have been the basis of war. However, through time we have learnt that such differences should not blind us to the fact that we are all human. At our very core we are more alike than we are different. The theme We Stand United speaks to our humanity.
Interestingly, TnT mirrors the theme We Stand United. As the country continues to celebrate our differences, and enjoy many of the unique traditions from around the world, we hope that TnT could be a leading example to the world that regardless of colour, religion or sex there is a space for each and everyone of us.
Funny enough, I see our people as a good marriage – sometimes we fight; sometimes we say bad things to each other; sometimes there is so much bacchanal that you have to even wonder how and why did we enter into “this marriage” in the first place. But in the end our people kiss and make-up and just keep on moving forward. When it comes down to heart of our people we are united, and we stand united in our Trinidadian-ness.
We are united because we are different. We are united because we accept our differences. We are united because we are the best example of a melting pot of races, living harmoniously on one tiny island.
Has your masquerader demographic changed over the years?
K2K is a lifestyle choice. The brand is niche and continues to focus on our 365-day Concept in terms of its garments usage. Carnival is expensive and the 365-day Concept speaks to functionality of our brand, whereby the garments can be dissected and used after the Carnival experience. The garments are wardrobes pieces that can be paired with jeans or even used for formal functions. With that said, the brand continues to attract those individuals who are looking for a more sophisticated and multi-functional garment offering in tandem with an intimate experience.
This is the band’s seventh presentation. What targets and goals have you achieved over the years?
From inception the brand has achieved various milestones in the creative space as well on an academia front. Post the first collection, we were invited to speak at the Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) around the topic of where Trinidad fits in the value chain. In 2016, we were invited to NYU Stern Business School to speak on a women’s panel about the challenges of growing a brand and the tools needed to persevere.
Both platforms reiterated the need for conversations around entrepreneurship, and thus adding conviction behind the initiative, The Color of Courage. In 2016 we launched the Color of Courage at the Hyatt Regency with the first installment including guest speaker Amsale Aberra. Given the economic downturn, we opted not to host the Speaker Series this year. However for 2018 we have shifted gears and have aligned ourselves with an educational institution to further pilot The Color of Courage initiative.
K2K will be hosting guest speakers for the students, who will be discussing hot topics as: brand building; the struggles of the entrepreneur; best practices for pressing forward.
There are three guest speakers lined up and we are in the process of seeing how to best facilitate both the Speakers and student’s curriculum.
In terms of the creative space, we have won Medium Band of the Year for three consecutive years, we have placed first in Costume design and earned first place on the Greens and Downtown Carnival in the Medium Band category.
Honestly, the fact that we are still here is a huge testament to the strength of the brand and our success speaks to the unwavering support of our masqueraders who have become part of our global family.
After six Carnival presentations, what have been the biggest lessons that have enabled you to grow and evolve?
There is no such thing as failure, although seeing over that wall of “I can’t do this” is extremely difficult. Every let down, stumbling block, and crossroad gives you an opportunity to re-access, pick up the pieces and change direction. The easiest decision you will ever make is to give up. The hardest action you will take is the decision to get up and press forward.
Your tagline has been, “where fashion meets mas”, have you been able to take your fashion to runways and shows? Are there any spinoffs from the K2K design team or any plans for such?
The tagline “where fashion meets mas” talks to functionality of the garments after the Carnival Season. We have had the opportunity to create garments for The Marionettes and Rachel Price. Past Collections have even been used in such productions as The Wiz, directed by Mervyn De Goas and Cause and Effect | The Artist & The Initiative directed & performed by Laura Pierre Escayg.
The brand is organic and continues to develop its portfolio, through creating evening gowns, wedding gowns and gowns for Mother’s of the Bride for specialty clients.
In 2016, with the launching of the Color of Courage, K2K was re-branded to “where fashion meets mas with a purpose”
We think that the brand speaks to taking the road less travelled. And although the journey up the mountain is very lonely and the upward climb is exhausting, each time you reach a look out and regard how far you’ve come, it makes the climb up the mountain a little easier.
Strength after all isn’t obtained by easy wins. Strength is groomed by overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t.
K2K’S PAST PRESENTATIONS
n Water Seas of Consciousness (2012)
n The Human Race (2013)
n VIE –The Rise of The Sanctuary (2014)
n Millennia III (2015)
n Searching for Shangri-La (2016)
At The Helm (2017)