Walker Gems drop jewels

April Walker

April Walker. Photo by Leon Laing.

What better way to launch a hip-hop museum than hold a book signing for the legendary April Walker. From Jan. 19-Jan. 21, the Mini Hip-Hop Museum held its grand opening at its location in Baltimore. Walker signed her book, Walker Gems: Get You’re A$% Off the Couch, for fans on Jan. 20. Walker Gems offers inspirational words for life as well as business.

During our phone interview, which was a week before the book signing, Walker displayed a humbleness. “I’ve learned to be humble,” the Brooklyn-based fashion designer says in her book. “It gives you a better perspective in life, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.” When I her met her on Jan. 20, she was just as down-to-earth. With her youthful face and few gray hairs that drape in the front of her coiffure, she is aging gracefully.

About 40 miles away on the same day of the book signing, the Women’s March took place in Washington, D.C.

Walker’s book is an extension of her Walker Gems inspirational videos, something she says was born on Instagram. She uses social media to tap into millennials. “The internet wasn’t what it is today,” she explains about how things were in her earlier days as a businesswoman. “We now have an amazing digital platform.”

Without the help of the internet, Walker took hip-hop’s DIY mentality and launched one of the first urban clothing lines. She started Fashion in Effect in 1987, a line that later became Walker Wear. Rappers from Audio Two to Tupac to Biggie have worn her clothing. Like Walker, T’yanna Wallace (Biggie’s daughter), designs clothes. What’s Walker’s advice to young fashion designers? “Don’t give up,” she affirms. “Do your homework. You have to apply yourself. Invest in yourself.”

To maintain her success as a businesswoman, the fashion designer takes care of her mind, body and soul. Walker practices yoga and spent part of her recent vacation in Tokyo. When asked if she has an interest in Asian culture, she says she just wants to live a balanced life. “All things have to be in alignment,” she explains. “My sister has lived there for the last 20 years,” she says about her visit to Tokyo.

Aside from Walker’s book signing, the Mini Hip-Hop Museum held other events, such as a cypher and workshop, during its opening weekend.

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