Hi Whitney! Thank you so much for speaking with us today! So for those who don't know you, can you give a brief background of what you do?
I’m a Staten Island, New York native currently based in New Orleans.
After spending 7 years in cause marketing for a professional sports team, I recently transitioned into a collective impact strategist role. My function is to facilitate, link, and leverage partnerships in New Orleans to prevent and reduce chronic diseases. Outside of that, I’m a freelance Visual Marketing Creative and I work with brands to tell specific stories, connecting products to locations and various groups.
Great! So what made you create Two Macks Brand?
I think sometimes when we connect ourselves to defining words or specific professional roles, we develop tunnel vision and forget what else we might have the power to give life to. When I graduated college, I knew I had to use my degree to pay back my loans. So every effort was based on debt.
For 7 years, I failed to explore other sides of myself in fear of missing avenues to advance professionally. The only creative touch I had was admiration. I spent a lot of time with a cousin (9 years my junior,) and I watched her express herself through many visual mediums and I immediately was inspired. She started a twitter account for @TwoMacks (IG: @twomacks), which was set to be her handle for blogging. I offered my help as her support and “twitter manager (lol).” A few weeks later my cousin decided @TwoMacks wasn’t her passion. I took over this account, because I didn’t have my own social media handle, and that was the beginning of TwoMacks the creative.
TwoMacks became the way I expressed myself through writing, painting and photography. All things I never knew I was capable of until I had an alias to channel my energies into. This all started for me at 26. Since then, TwoMacks has become a visual marketing stockpile for all of Whitney’s non-corporate pursuits.
TwoMacks allows me to tap into the unknown side of myself and produce in ways I never thought possible. I think everyone is creative, realizing it is a matter of allowing chance and choice to manifest in undefined ways.
Your Instagram account has amazing photos from your travels abroad. What has your 2015 travel been looking like so far?
In the beginning of 2015 I decided to see as much of the United States as possible. I picked up a part time job on weekends and used the cash I made strictly for weekend travel. Anytime I knew I’d have a Monday holiday at my full-time job, I plotted and planned to leave town for the weekend and search cities I’d never seen. Something told me to start in Portland, Oregon. I hiked, meditated and ate like a queen. After Oregon I went to New York, Austin, Taos, Chicago and Nashville. Every City is fantastic in it’s own way. They carry histories that throw you back in time to see, feel, and hear what built them. I’m hoping to keep on my path and visit Detroit and Madison before the end of the fall.
Tell me about 3 of your favorite travel destinations and what you love about them.
Taos, New Mexico is a dream. There’s an air there that can sometimes be absent in cities with deeply rooted histories (histories of violence, slavery and taken lands.) A group of friends and I farmed with the Red Willow Tribe, the wonderful natives of Taos that recently received grant monies to expand. Our hosts had never connected with black people before; it was such an empowering experience to know that a small effort could carry so much weight. This trip motivated me to continue more domestic travel.
Nashville is a hub of happiness. In reality it was everything I thought Austin would be. Not to say I don’t enjoy Austin. It was just so unexpected to find such a happy and diverse group of people in those lush green hills.
Portland is such a Utopia. I love how it has all of the makings of such a great city and the greens were so green! It’s such a clean and outdoorsy place; you’re continually steeped in the gorgeous nature around you. I loved it, but really wish there was a bit more melanin in the population to make it feel more like home!
Have you traveled alone before? How was that experience?
I’ve actually never traveled solo before. Maybe one day I’ll take the leap and experience solitude in a new city.
What's your dream location to visit within your lifetime? Or have you been there already?
I want to go India and experience the Holi festival. To be around such a rich culture with such beautiful colors around would be an inspiration. Also, I think it would be great to wear a sari, a bright, kelly green one.
Nice! So, the National Parks Foundation is announcing that you are taking part in their #FindYourPark initiative. Can you tell us more about that and what you will be doing?
The National Parks Foundation, Find Your Parks Expedition is an effort to increase diversity in park visitation. Eight social media influencers have been invited to spend a week in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Mesa Verde to document their experiences and share them with the world. I was selected because of my Instagram following and plan on connecting with my friends and followers through visual content. I’ve always had an affinity for our domestic awesomeness, so I’m excited to share and hopefully encourage others to visit these parks.
Nice what are some places that you would recommend seeing in the U.S.?
I recommend everybody come and spend a weekend in New Orleans. It’s so unique and interesting to see the international influences and immediate connections to the roots of American slavery and how that plays out in the music, culture and art of New Orleans. Also, the southwest parallels New Orleans with a history of marginalized culture, but through the eyes of Native Americans. So somewhere like New Mexico or Arizona have interesting pockets of isolated towns with hundreds of years of untouched culture.
What has your biggest learning experience from traveling been?
While travelling within the United States, specifically at National or State Parks, I often expected to be one of a few people of color. Instead, I often found myself in situations where I was one of few Americans. I think as Americans, sometimes we seek change of scenery outside of the country before search for the change within.
What are some travel tips that you can share to help novice travelers create the best deals/experiences possible?
If you’re travelling with a group of people make sure everyone is down. Saying yes to a trip doesn’t mean saying yes to being spontaneous. The ability to change and accept change while already in a place you don’t know is one of the best qualities you or your travel buddies can have.
What are some places that you love to dine in NOLA?
I’m on a Mediterranean kick right now. I’m all about falafel and hummus. Shaya or 1000 Figs are two of my favorite spots for that type of food. I do like a really good all day breakfast, my friends might disagree, but I’m all about Trolley Stop on St. Charles Ave.
What are some of your favorite dishes to cook?
My mother, her mother and her mother’s mother would be shamed, my boyfriend does the cooking in my house and it’s great. I like anything with pesto or avocado.
Again, thank you for speaking with us! Before we go, do you have any upcoming projects your supporters should be on the lookout for?
I’m starting to experiment with blogging actually, so I’m hoping to share a bit more of who I am and give the real details that go into doing what I do, everything from getting a second job to creating brand connections and strategic thinking.