When you see the name Society HAE, one question that may come to mind is, What does HAE stand for? The acronym stands for Harriet’s Alter Ego. Who’s Harriet, you might ask? C’mon, you know who Harriet is…
Yes, that Harriet. Harriet Tubman!
Initially Harriet’s Alter Ego was a Brooklyn-based fashion boutique and
art gallery that also served as a performance space. Think of everything you’ve learned about Harriet Tubman. Then imagine a place where a wondrous woman with that kind of passion, talent, and commitment to freedom could go to just…chill. Express and pamper herself. Get cute. Maybe read a little poetry. Or just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere.
When the store closed in 2009, the question for its founder, Ngozi Odita, and team became, “Where do we go now?”
They moved online, converting the project to an arts and entertainment social media platform. The Harriet’s Alter Ego crowd found them online and supported them in this new medium. Society HAE was born. Ngozi describes the community they’ve created as a place that resonates with artists, musicians and designers because it gives them a bigger voice.
In December 2010, the Society HAE team of bloggers, or Team SHAE, traveled to Dakar, Senegal to blog from the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture. Since its inception in 1966, the festival has provided a forum for political as well as artistic and cultural dialogue, attracting the likes of Alvin Ailey, Duke Ellington, and Clementina de Jesus. This time around, Yossou N’dour, Jay-Z, Wyclef Jean and Rhianna were on the guest list.
Team SHAE gave their readers live coverage of the three-week long event that showcases fashion, photography, theatre, architecture, music, design, literature, film, and even sport from people of African descent throughout the diaspora. (See SHAE video below)
“I wish everyone could have seen it, “ says Ngozi.
Ngozi’s love for the arts began during childhood. She is proud of her heritage and remembers growing up dancing to her father’s Nigerian music in a household where there was always music playing.
“Fashion and the arts were always a part of me,” she says.
A humble and modest woman who laughs easily, Ngozi has grown this appreciation into a business that allows her to travel the world. She shares some words of wisdom for the budding entrepreneur.
“There are opportunities everywhere,” she says. “If you’re passionate about something, there’s an opportunity [to pursue it]. Look for the opportunities within that passion.”
What does Living Unchained mean to Ngozi Odita? To Ngozi, living unchained means being free, doing the things that move you. It means having the freedom to be who you are, free to engage people.
Article by Ciara Calbert of Everybody is a Journalist