Student Success: Elena Takmakova, UMG

Before taking the Music Industry Essentials course, Elena was looking for an opportunity to gain knowledge about the music industry and the necessary skills to start her career. Her student success results in landing a job at Universal Music Group (UMG) months after completing the course. She’s applied what she’s learned from the online course to her job while growing into an independent music producer.

This course became the foundation for my career in the music industry.

ON CHOOSING MUSIC INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS —

I wanted to get into the music industry and needed relevant knowledge and understanding of it. So when I saw the names NYU Tisch and Billboard, I thought this online course was worth taking. After reading the course description, I felt that it was something I needed, and it worked out. 

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

All of the assignments are good, but all instructors were terrific and experts in what they do. Some of the assignments were pretty tricky and took me some time to complete, especially where I had to design my own recording studio! It was the most challenging task, yet the most exciting and inspiring!

ON STUDENT SUCCESS IN REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

Once I obtained the knowledge from this course and affirmed my skills, I got a job at one of the major labels! I also became a member of the Recording Academy. So I would say this course became the foundation for my career in the music industry.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

A few months later, after completing this course, I got a job at Universal Music Group and applied all that knowledge at work. 

To follow Elena’s journey and continued student success beyond Music Industry Essentials, check out her Instagram

Student Success: Cyprian Kiswili, Enda Sportswear

Cyprian enrolled in the Sneaker Essentials online course to understand what careers are within sneaker design. This helped him better seek and prepare for opportunities. Today, as part of his student success, he’s an award-winning footwear designer for his shoe “Blossm,” designed for BATA. He also works for Enda Sportswear.

I have built more confidence in undertaking any design project as I understand what the industry expects of me as a designer.

ON CHOOSING SNEAKER ESSENTIALS —

I wanted to learn more about the sneaker career field to understand the opportunities to grow a successful career in footwear design. I consume so much Complex content. So, being a big fan of sneaker culture, it was an excellent opportunity to learn from these sneaker and media icons. My heart is in shoe design, and I could not think of a better course to take! 

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

My favorite video within this online course was about performance footwear led by Dr. Thomas Novella. Overall, it was very informative and what I wanted to learn about the performance footwear field.

ON STUDENT SUCCESS IN REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

I have built more confidence in undertaking any design project as I understand what the industry expects of me as a designer. For me, shoe design is not something that I love or just a hobby anymore but a whole culture that influences my growing career.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

I have always dreamed of building a career in sneaker or footwear design. However, in Kenya, sneaker design is not viewed as a career but a hobby. Nevertheless, I have grown confidence with each lesson and learned so much to grow my skill set. Thanks to Sneaker Essentials, I am out to prove everyone wrong. As a result, I’m working as a designer in the only performance shoe company in Sub-Saharan Africa, Enda Sportswear. 

To follow Cyprian’s journey and student success beyond Sneaker Essentials, check out his Instagram

Student Success: D’Angelo Woods

After being on the theater stage for years, D’Angelo turned his attention to the world behind a curtain. He looked at different online courses and decided to sign up for Performing Arts Industry Essentials. Read on to learn about his student success and his growth in the theatre industry.

This course was like a giant masterclass to prepare you for the real world of theatre. It gives you hands-on experience with areas you may not have thought to involve yourself in before.

ON CHOOSING PERFORMING ARTS INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS —

As I continue my theatre training, I’ve been curious about the industry’s business side. New York University’s name carries weight in terms of legitimacy and prestige. So I enrolled to understand the industry from those who’ve done it and those doing it every day.

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

The proposal assignment showed me that producing a play takes time and money to pull off successfully. And even then, there’s no guarantee of success. However, with great planning, there can be an opportunity for it.

ON REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

Thanks to this program, when I had a stage reading, I was better able to understand the different roles and positions of all of those involved. I also understood certain terms that I had heard during my coursework, so I wasn’t confused when I heard them.

This course provided me with a reference and a reverence for the different positions available within theatre. Should I wish to volunteer or work part-time, I can educate myself and recall my notes to prepare for the position.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

This course was like a giant masterclass to prepare you for the real world of theatre. It gives you hands-on experience with areas you may not have thought to involve yourself in before. As a result, I was inspired to take classes at Studio Acting Conservatory in Washington, DC. 

To keep up with D’Angelo and his next role, follow him on IG @iamdangelorashadwoods.

Student Success: Kalika Mccrea

Kalika has a long-term interest in turning her love and enthusiasm for beauty products into a full-time career. So, with interest in launching her own hero product and line, she enrolled in Beauty Industry Essentials to get a comprehensive view of an industry she’s passionate about. She talked with Yellowbrick about her student success.

The course provided me with in-depth insight into product ingredients and step-by-step information on the manufacturing process.

ON CHOOSING BEAUTY INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS —

I’ve wanted to take this online course for a while, but I couldn’t afford the tuition. So when I received the email about the tuition special, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take the course. It was right for me because I am interested in developing my own line of cosmetics products. Beauty Industry Essentials was just what I needed to start my own business.

Even though it is a non-credited course, I knew the partnership made with the Fashion Institute of Technology would offer a challenge. In addition, Allure has been a great source of beauty inspiration to me for years and was a plus for me.

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

I enrolled in the course so that I could increase my knowledge about the beauty industry, and I wanted to learn detailed information to begin the creative process of developing my own beauty cosmetics line. I enrolled in this course to build and improve my confidence in the knowledge I’ve learned as a beauty enthusiast.

The Creating A Fragrance Ad assignment took me the longest to complete because it made me think the most. I didn’t want to create a boring fragrance ad, but I did want it to be relatable. The assignment was thought-forming — it made me think about my approach to launching any beauty product in the future. The assignment questions will forever be a part of my product creation approach, which is priceless.

ON REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

The course provided me with the knowledge to start my beauty review forum or group. In addition, it prepared me with a foundational understanding of product development and marketing. Also, the beauty industry terms used in the course provided me with informal training on professional lingo.

The biggest takeaway from the program is the Beauty Product Development lesson. The course provided me with in-depth insight into product ingredients and step-by-step information on the manufacturing process. This particular lesson inspired me to think about the ingredients I’d like to include in my upcoming product line.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

I’m currently employed in Quality Assurance in the banking industry. After taking Beauty Industry Essentials, I have started to research cosmetics quality assurance to pursue a QA Analyst position in the beauty industry.

To stay updated on Kalika’s next career move or future product launches, follow her on LinkedIn.

Student Success: Quanesha Johnson

Quanesha had a goal of starting her own lifestyle brand — Quan Johnson — but didn’t know how to get started. So she enrolled in Streetwear Essentials to learn the fundamentals of running a business. Read about what she learned and how she applied it to launching her clothing line.

The advice, mentors, and assignments really challenged me to dive deep into the business side of things. I learned that running a brand is a marathon, not a sprint.

ON CHOOSING STREETWEAR ESSENTIALS —

Before applying, I had always dreamed of starting my own lifestyle brand. I was scared to take the risk, but I had no choice after investing in this online course and furthering my education in this business. Soon after completing course one, I applied for my LLC. I’ve been in business since. I took the course in strides because I wanted to take what I was learning and implement it into the daily operations. The advice, mentors, and assignments really challenged me to dive deep into the business side of things. I learned that running a brand is a marathon, not a sprint.

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

I wanted to build my lifestyle brand with the best tools available. I was researching graduate programs when I came across Streetwear Essentials. Complex has a lot of credibility in the community, so I believed it was a good fit. The Business Plan assignment and hearing Don C speak were my favorite parts of the course.

ON REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

The course prepared me to build a brand that will experiment with a new realm of streetwear. I’m looking forward to the future of Quan Johnson and more student success. 

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

We have already managed to sell out a collection and get celebrities and influencers to tap into what Quan Johnson is about. We also have a few collaborations in the works. I hope to be able to come back and give my testimony on how Yellowbrick x Complex x Parsons helped me build a six-figure lifestyle brand!

Follow Quanesha on IG @quanjohnsonent and shop the Quan Johnson store for her latest designs. 

Student Success: Nicholas Alexis

Nicholas is a two-time Yellowbrick graduate (Gaming And Esports Industry Essentials and Sneaker Essentials). He enrolled in both courses to learn more about the marketing and advertising sides of industries he’s passionate about. Read more about his experience and the next steps in his journey. 

The course taught me that even if your game is fun, it has to be marketed correctly.

ON CHOOSING GAMING AND ESPORTS INDUSTRY + SNEAKER ESSENTIALS —

Somebody once told me that if you could make money by doing a hobby you love, you win at the game of life. My favorite hobby is playing video games. So as soon as I saw this online course, I knew it would show me a career path in the gaming industry. In addition, the Fashion Institute of Technology is a world-renowned design college. So I knew I would get more background information on the industry’s design aspect and the business models.

Complex is also a huge name in the sneaker industry, so it made me want to take the Sneaker Essentials course even more!

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

What stuck out to me the most was seeing how major streamers started off and where they are now. I see many people trying to make a career in streaming, but they either don’t have the tools or give up too fast. Course Five, Esports Industry: From Game Concept To Center Stage,  showed me the steps to become a streamer.

ON REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

The course taught me that even if your game is fun, it has to be marketed correctly. My main goal for joining this online course was to learn the marketing side. I learned a lot about how independent developers and AAA developers use marketing tactics to grow sales and reach massive audiences.

My biggest takeaway from this program is that if you’re persistent and passionate enough, you could become a game developer, Twitch streamer, or be part of an eSports team. You just have to want it enough and work hard.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

I am interested in working in the advertising and marketing industry which I’m currently studying at FIT. This online course had a section dedicated to that, and I will use those lessons to help further my career. In addition, I plan to apply to internships at places like Rockstar games and other gaming development teams located in New York City. 

Keep up with Nicholas’ journey by following him on Instagram.

Student Success: Tanesha Chynna Littlejohn, GoldenGirl Studios

Chynna has worked as an independent filmmaker for 15 years. As a self taught director and editor, she was always interested in expanding her knowledge and skill set through higher education. However, a university program’s time commitment and cost didn’t fit her needs as a single mother. She enrolled in Yellowbrick’s Film & TV Industry Essentials course. Read about her student success and experience of the program.

I’ve noticed that my editing and creativity has improved and others have noticed as well. I’ve actually gotten more paying jobs since taking Film & TV Industry Essentials.

ON CHOOSING FILM & TV INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS —

I’ve been in the film business for a long time (since 2006), but I felt like I was missing something and I wanted to learn more. My dream was to attend the film program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, but I didn’t have the money. However, this online course was affordable and convenient — meeting my needs as a full-time worker and single mom. 

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

I enrolled to use what I learned from the program to become a better filmmaker and take my career to the next level.

“The Storyboard and Animatic” coursework was my favorite activity. Watching the behind the scenes for Pharoahe Monch’s “Cult 45” was the best! It reminded me of Michael Jackson’s The Making of Thriller

All of the instructors were amazing, but I learned a lot from Janet Grillo, Alrick Brown, and David K. Irving.

ON REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

This course has prepared me for working in this industry by giving me a blueprint, so to speak. I will use the tools I’ve learned to make my next project even better. As a result,  I feel like I am better equipped to create the next project with less fear and more confidence.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

I’ve noticed that my editing and creativity has improved and others have noticed as well. I’ve actually gotten more paying jobs since taking Film & TV Industry Essentials. I can’t wait to film my next project with all that I have learned!

Follow Chynna on IG @goldengirlstudios and check out her website to keep up with her forthcoming productions.

Student Success: Billy Petts, Inspiration Clothing

Billy launched his clothing brand in 2010 with a passion for streetwear and an idea to help his community. Years later, Inspiration Clothing is flourishing, and 10% of the brand’s proceeds have gone on to help food banks all over the country. Billy talked to Yellowbrick about being a two-time graduate, his student success, and what’s next for him and Inspiration Clothing.

At the end of this course, I found myself with a written business plan which I never thought I would have or need. So now I have something professional to build off continuously.

ON CHOOSING SNEAKER ESSENTIALS AND STREETWEAR ESSENTIALS —

I felt like there could always be more to learn. Even with years of experience, I could learn other methods and processes to start and finish clothing projects. I believe this course was right for me because, after 11 plus years of running my own line, I felt it was time to learn about sneakers and how I could incorporate them into my brand. 

Reputation matters. Yellowbrick earned my trust when I completed Streetwear Essentials. I knew the Fashion Institute of Technology and Yellowbrick would teach me every lesson I needed to learn to get me started on my sneaker journey. 

Complex is amazing. They really care about the culture in so many ways. Whether it’s fashion, music, or entertainment, Complex is a company I aspire to work with one day or be featured in one of their Omni-channels. So I knew I would get a real and raw hip-hop-influenced education with Complex behind the course.

I took both, Sneaker Essentials and Streetwear Essentials, courses because I wanted to learn from the best and obtain expertise from an industry standpoint, not just the underground knowledge I’ve acquired over the past decade. 

Ultimately, I want to become a better entrepreneur, understand culture and storytelling, and set myself apart from others trying to get a foot in the sneaker industry.

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

Learning from like-minded creators is always a blessing. Of course, each contributor and instructor have their own personality and experiences. However, Heron Preston and Jeff Staple hold a lot of streetwear knowledge to bestow. I related and took away a lot from those guys and hope to work with both of them someday.

In the Sneaker Essentials course, Kenneth Anand & Jon Tang stood out. They spoke about culture and legality, which I feel is most important when understanding a market and business.

ON REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

Streetwear Essentials forces you to make the building blocks of a clothing brand — right down to a business plan, target market, potential store layouts, pop-up shops, you name it. At the end of this course, I found myself with a written business plan which I never thought I would have or need. So now I have something professional to build off continuously.

I want to view my business as part of a culture and focus on the storytelling aspect, not just product and profits. It’s much more than business. It’s passion and the drive to make a difference in our communities. Streetwear Essentials provided more than just history. It killed my ego regarding what I thought I learned over the last 11 years. I really respect the craft more overall.

My biggest takeaway from Sneaker Essentials is learning patience. I have to understand that many jobs, roles, processes, and factors go into making a sneaker. Learning a skilled trade will take time, practice, sacrifice, commitment, and patience.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

My whole outlook on fashion has changed yet again. I feel as if I still have a long journey ahead, learning about mood boards, tech packs, and manufacturing. Following all the creators and influencers from this course on Instagram has also increased my learning. I see how they post and market after hearing them speak about why they excel in streetwear today.

Upon completing this course, I have partnered with a manufacturer in Italy to design my own line of sneakers. Using tech packs and proper communication skills from Sneaker Essentials helped me translate what type of sneaker I want to bring to life.

To keep up with Billy and see the latest releases from Inspiration Clothing, follow him on IG @InspirationClothing.

Student Success: Nana Ataa Ofosu-Benefo

Switching career fields can be daunting. However, when Nana left her job, she knew she wanted to carve out a path that reflected her unique interests and skills. So she enrolled in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry Essentials course to combine her background as a dietician with her interest in social tourism. Read on to learn more about Nana’s experience, student success, and her plans for the future.

I’ve worked with a food service company for 13 years. However, this online course allowed me to identify new skills that can be developed and implemented. It’s possible to do something different with planning and willingness to take chances.

ON CHOOSING HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS ESSENTIALS —

When I resigned from my full-time job, I wanted to do something slightly different and learn how to refocus my career. My goal was to learn how to organize the resources necessary for starting my own private practice focused on combining food and nutrition education with social tourism.

My mother also attended New York University for her Master’s degree in the 1980s. So I know the instructors are top-notch and think outside of the box.

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

I really enjoyed listening to Dr. Lynn Minnaert. Everything she said was interesting and sparked some introspection on my part. Her academic interest in social tourism and diversity and inclusion is something I have been involved in with my travel and work experiences. This is a course of study I would very much be interested in following at the doctorate level.

ON REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

I’ve worked with a food service company for 13 years. However, this online course allowed me to identify new skills that can be developed and implemented. It’s possible to do something different with planning and willingness to take chances.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

It’s too early to tell, but I hope doors will open with my private practice. I want to start some form of a hospitality business once the global pandemic precautions have relaxed. I would like to incorporate social tourism for non-profit organizations into my private practice and nutrition business.

To keep up with Nana, follow her in IG @nanaataa.

How Haram The Milkman brought his streetwear pop-up concept to life

Haram the Milkman is an NYC-based designer. He started his lifestyle brand, Cash Cow NYC, amid the Covid-19 pandemic and has released two collections since 2020. Now, he’s looking to push the brand to new creative heights with a unique pop-up, mobile concept. He first designed the MOOOVan — his take on a mobile clothing store — as part of his Streetwear Essentials coursework. Yellowbrick spoke with him about launching Cash Cow NYC and bringing his MOOOVan vision to life. 

YELLOWBRICK: Tell us a little bit about Cash Cow NYC and the inspiration behind the brand.

HARAM THE MILKMAN: The concept of Cash Cow NYC is something that’s been in the back of my mind since high school as one of those “what if” or “wouldn’t it be cool” kind of thoughts. 

In a way, Cash Cow NYC is also a “life comes full circle” moment. My paternal and maternal grandfathers were farmers, tending to the fields and cattle in Punjab, India. It’s amusing to think that generations later, in a land literally on the other side of the world, their grandson is still taking part in the business of cows. 

Cash Cow NYC, Haram the Milkman
Photo Credit: John Moustakas

How did you come up with the name Cash Cow NYC?

Even now, I still have uncles and cousins in the same line of work. My dad has run a construction business out of the Bronx here in America for over 30 years. My mother always wanted my brother and me to work in an office where we would have a desk and wear a suit and tie, but that stigma of white-collar professions being better than blue-collar professions always rubbed me the wrong way. 

My whole life, I never once went without clothes on my back, food in my belly, or a roof over my head, and it was always thanks to the hard work my dad put into the construction business. 

I realized any line of work could essentially be a cash cow with the right amount of ambition and grit behind it. I aim to highlight this very concept playfully in the designs presented in Cash Cow NYC. It doesn’t matter if a person is a stockbroker or a dog walker. If the rent’s getting paid and you’re putting food on the table, then that’s your Cash Cow, and you have to milk it for all its worth.

The truck design was cool, and it’s even better in reality. What is your ultimate goal with the Cash Cow truck?

I hated catching the train into areas like Soho for all the latest and trendiest brands when I was younger. I thought it would be better to have a mobile store that could pull up to neighborhoods on a more local scale to target a larger demographic. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to cater to customers in this manner with a pandemic still going on.

I drew inspiration from one of my assignments from Streetwear Essentials, which with a few modifications, gave birth to the MOOOVan. I think it would be essential in a city like New York, where the personality and make-up of a neighborhood change block by block. 

Cash Cow NYC
Photo Credit: John Moustakas

Your slogan is “M.O.O.O – Moving Onwards Over Obstacles,” what does that mean to you, and how do you incorporate that into your brand’s story?

To me, the milkman logo and M.O.O.O. motto are the modern-day equivalents of Robert Crumb’s “keep on truckin” or that “hang in there!” kitten poster. I always say that M.O.O.O. is more of a mindset than just a company motto. To me, it means to aspire and strive to thrive, no matter the difficulties before you. 

I created the “Milk Crate Crew” as a collective of individuals who embody this very way of thinking. Our members include everything from a high school teacher to an opera singer. Each of our members strives to excel in their respective field and keep “Moving Onwards Over Obstacles.” It’s also taken on a deeper meaning these past few years as Covid-19 has hit on a global scale and serves as a personal mantra for mental health.

It’s awesome that you’re documenting your journey with the truck as it happens on Instagram. What have you learned from concept to creation?

I think that I’ve learned that there are only two vital steps to any new endeavor, the first step and the next step. You can plan and map out concepts in your mind indefinitely but only when you take that first true swing at it do things begin to happen. I also learned that the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is crucial, as well as being able to view “the glass as half full.” There were dozens of things that went wrong during the creation of the MOOOVan, but I chose to focus on the handful of things going right at the time.

I think that I’ve learned that there are only two vital steps to any new endeavor, the first step, and the next step. You can plan and map out concepts in your mind indefinitely but only when you take that first true swing at it do things begin to happen.

Legal issues are often overlooked when creating, and we want to highlight that for students. How have you had to navigate getting permits and any other restrictions?

I faced two main hurdles when working on the MOOOVan. The first was changing the vehicle class from commercial to a passenger, so I could navigate myself through the streets of NYC easier since there are many restrictions as to where a commercial vehicle can be driven. To satisfy the requirements of a passenger vehicle for the DMV, I had to have two side windows installed in the back of the van and a back passenger seat bolted to serve as second-row seating. 

The second issue was finding an auto insurance provider that would cover the particular niche the MOOOVan was a part of. Not everyone was ready to protect a passenger class vehicle carrying thousands in merchandise. Fortunately, after looking at two or three providers, I finally found one that offered a policy to meet my needs. 

What kind of lessons did you take from the Streetwear Essentials course, and how has it helped you?

Honestly, the biggest takeaway from the streetwear course was the change in my perception of what Cash Cow NYC could be. When I started the online course, I only focused on graphic designs and fonts for tees, but the course allowed me to shift my thinking to a grander scale from the micro to the macro. As a result, I was pushed to begin to think about things I had never even considered before. For example, what would my booth layout at a major convention look like, or how would I design the interior of a brick-and-mortar location for my brand. The Streetwear Essentials course also helped me figure out a brand’s small steps before making big moves.

Honestly, the biggest takeaway from the streetwear course was the change in my perception of what Cash Cow NYC could be.

What would you tell someone considering enrolling in the Streetwear Essentials course but is unsure?

I would tell them that if they have a genuine interest in developing a brand or working in the world of streetwear, I would definitely recommend enrolling in the course. All aspects of the business are covered to provide a vast amount of knowledge. This course’s modules covered the history of brands that gave rise to streetwear and the current intricacies essential in running a successful brand. It was also amazing to get insights from people who have succeeded in streetwear and to hear their stories and realize how everyone has to start somewhere.

What does 2022 have in store for Cash Cow NYC?  

Well, 2021 was about building a foundation for the brand, from the website to the first two collections we dropped. 2022 is going to be all about expanding upon that foundation. Besides the usual suspects of attending pop-ups and social media marketing, I’ve already begun planning and developing “Star Grazer,” the third Cash Cow collection. I also have an event planned for the Spring which would offer limited edition merch in a very fun and unique way, but I’ll be keeping the details under wraps for now.

Cash Cow NYC

For more on Haram the Milkman and to get updates on his next Cash Cow NYC drop, follow him on Instagram @haramthemilkman. Also, check out the Streetwear Essentials course and learn how to take your streetwear brand concept to the next level.