Sounds: BØRNS

Before I fall asleep, I like to listen to music that makes me feel like I’m falling into a dream. Almost like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Lately, BØRNS has been on that playlist. Taking a chance on my Spotify ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist, I found him there – and I’ve been listening ever since!

Thank you for all of the dreamy sounds!

Grrrl Inspiration

Magical Women: One

I love Pinterest! One of my favorite boards on Pinterest is ‘Inspire Me Ladies’. I love supporting other women and gathering inspiration from them. I thought about all the ways I want to feel going into this new year. I want to feel like a boss; better yet, like a BAWSE! I want to feel joy, strong and like a beautiful betty! I want to continue loving myself and spreading love to everyone I come in contact with. So, inspire my ladies! Your loveliness shines through each photo and fills me with inspiration. Here go a few of my recent favs from the board:



Blogging for Foodie Annapolis

Last March, I started blogging for Foodie Annapolis. As a Principal Designer for the Symmetry Agency, this was a natural progression. Symmetry was responsible for developing the brand for the blog and we still work on creating and maintaining the content. Foodie Annapolis is one of three blogs produced by Visit Annapolis (Explorer Annapolis and Historian Annapolis are the other two). This has been a great experience! As a cocktail blogger, I have grown a sincere appreciation for the process and skill that goes behind our favorite cocktails.

One of my favorite posts was for Fox’s Den. As one of my favorite restaurants and bars with one of my favorite cocktail menus in town, this was an easy choice to cover. What made this experience stand out was how much we learned about the process behind creating a local bourbon fav, ‘For Fox Sake’.  Learning the process and history behind the drink  has become my favorite part of this blog coverage.



Keep up with all on my blogs and favorite cocktails around Annapolis & Anne Arundel County here: Darin Gilliam for Foodie Annapolis

Design Life

2016: A Year in Review

Dear 2016, parts of you were amazing and parts of you were really sucky! Losing some of my personal heroes was hard. The election; well, let’s not talk about it. Still not getting enough sleep – not your fault, but hey, I need someone to blame! Either way, it was an interesting year. Regardless of the ups and downs, I’m still grateful for another year!

Here are some highlights:


Over time 19FIFTYTHREE (19F) had evolved and is currently being broken down into three areas: Design, Brand, and Events. The brand 19F was officially launched in 2016! Yay <insert fireworks>!!!

19FIFTYTHREE (19FT) is a brand, a creative project, an extended portfolio and an outpouring of all the ideas and inspiration that have compiled over the years. Designed and made in the mid-atlantic, east coast of America. It is inspired by fine art, graphic design, streetwear, street art, tomboys, and much more.

This has been one of my favorite achievements of the year! The 19F brand has been in the works for almost 3 years and to finally launch it feels AMAZING! This brand is a true representation of myself and my style and I am grateful for the journey to get here.

Visit & Shop 19FIFTYTHREE here:


Symmetry Agency

Guys and gals! I’ve been designing with the Symmetry Agency for the last year and things have gotten better and better with each passing month. Focusing on Brand Development has always been a love of mine. With Symmetry, I get a chance to collaborate with some pretty amazing people to bring our clients visions to life. As a ‘Collaborative Creative Agency’, Symmetry collides a number of small businesses who specialize in different industries for one common goal – to turn ideas and vision into a reality.

Check us out at 


Workshops & Event Partnership

Team Symmetry dreamed SUPER BIG in 2016! I whole-heartedly believe that all that dreaming big will pay off in 2017. We have recently partnered with City Dock Productions to manage both the Annapolis Arts & Wine Festival and the Annapolis Craft Beer Festival. AMAZING!! This festival journey is both scary and exciting and I’m here for all of it! City Dock Productions has created so many great experiences for Annapolis and I am beyond pleased to help create a solid brand and experience for both festivals.

We are also leading a years worth of workshops for partners of Visit Annapolis and group training for small businesses in the area. How exciting! What’s fun about this is seeing all of the creative endeavors I’ve wanted to be a part of open up right in front of me.

Learn more about our events at


The White House

I went the the White House for President Barack Obama’s birthday party!!!!!!!!!! I went to the freakin’ White House and along with one of my fav friends, Rapsody, met so many people I love and admire and wrote a blog about it here: Woo-Hoo for the White House


UpStArt Magazine Feature

Having the love of your local community is wonderful! This past year I was featured in local magazine UpStArt about the development of 19FIFTYTHREE. This was an amazing experience. I wrote a blog about it: UpStArt Magazine Feature


I am definitely excited (and a little scared) about what 2017 has in store. God, I thank you for bringing us through a crazy ideas, blessing us with crazy dreams and giving us the will to try to make them come true.

Cheers, 2016! 

Design Life


A Long Road!

It has been a long and amazing road to 19FIFTYTHREE (19FT)! The original concept around 19FT was to create a streetwear brand for the mid-atlantic tomboy. After collecting inspiration, I found myself wanted to do so much more. I wanted to touch on important topics and create pieces other than clothing. 19FT has turned into what I like to call a “Branded Passion Project”. It has blossomed out of three years of inspiration and experience and has finally seen the light of day. Oddly enough, my almost full-time gig as the Lead Designer at Symmetry in Downtown Annapolis has helped me develop consistency in creating. Realizing that 19FT was not ready as a fully functioning brand, I started to do my freelance and contract work under the name. This lead to me working with the Symmetry team as their lead designer. In this past year, I have learned how to best prepare and budget for this adventure called 19FIFTYTHREE.

It’s finally here and I couldn’t be happier. The amazing collaborations, products and stories that are coming out of 19FT are amazing and I can’t wait to share them all with you all! Until then, visit the new site and browse around! Here’s a sneak peak below:



Dear Marc Jacobs. I Come in Peace.

Dear Marc Jacobs,

I am huge fan of your work. I am a black woman. I am a lover of art and fashion.

The situation that you are currently in with the criticism to your brand for your use of dreadlocks on white women in your recent show is unfortunate. What is also unfortunate is the point that is being missed. Part of your response to this criticism on Instagram was.

“funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair.”

Here lies an issue.

As a woman of color, I was raised in a society that did not except our naturally thick, coily and kinky hair. This has been so ingrained into the black community especially, that it is not uncommon for parents, grand parents, etc. to encourage straightening hair in order to get a job or get into a good school, find a husband – basically, straighten your hair to be accepted. Straighten your hair to be taken seriously. Straighten your hair to be pretty. Straightening our hair was not a way of borrowing or stealing from another culture, it was a way to get by in a world that wasn’t ready to accept black women as they are – with naturally thick, coily and kiny hair.

Within the last 10 years or so, there has been a natural hair revolution. More and more women of color are embracing their natural hair. We are realizing that they shouldn’t be apologetic for the hair that naturally comes out of their head. Unfortunately, this is a battle that is still being fought, here in America and around the globe. Dreadlocks have often been met with criticism. As a style that is mostly worn by people of color in America, that criticism has been felt – being told that the hair in untidy or unkept or doesn’t meet standards.

Here lies THE issue.

Me personally; my issue isn’t with your models were wearing dreadlocks. My issue isn’t with the fact that mostly white models were wearing dreadlocks. My issue is that for so long when black people and people of color wear this style, they are told it’s not clean or not appropriate. It’s not professional, the list goes on. When it’s used for fashion on a white model, it’s creative and inspiring. THAT is the issue. It feels as though beauty and fashion trends aren’t acceptable until a white woman has worn it. That is a tough and sad feeling and unfortunately, that is what cultural appropriation feels like to some. We tend to be criticized for our looks until someone lighter or fairer adopts them and that hurts.

Strides have been made, but there is still a lack of understanding at times. I hope that this note that you may not read, creates a positive understanding.

I am still a fan. Thank you for what you’ve done for the fashion industry. Hopefully this issue creates more dialogue and understanding than negativity.

xoxo. Darin Michelle

Design Life

UpStArt Magazine Feature


Up.St.ART Annapolis stands for Up Street Art.  Upper West street has been designated as the Arts and Entertainment district in Annapolis.

U.A. is a quarterly publication that highlights the creative people and businesses that make Annapolis such a rich cultural city.


UpStArt Magazine has been a great addition to Annapolis and the Annapolis Arts District. It has done a great job at highlighting creatives and artists in the city of Annapolis and showcasing both up and coming and veteran artists in the area.

When UpStArt Publisher, Jimi Davies called me a few months ago, saying he had been keeping up with my posts about 19FIFTYTHREE launching and wanted to feature me in the Fall issue, I immediately said YES! The timing couldn’t be any more perfect! I hung up from our call feeling both excited and nervous! Excited about finally launching this project and brand and nervous about finally launching this project and brand. After meeting interviewing Melanie McCarty, I felt more at ease. We talked about 90’s music, the Riot Grrrl movement, being creative in Annapolis and of course 19FIFTYTHREE. The result? An awesome article that I feel truly reflects the brand I am trying to create!





19FIFTYTHREE is officially launching on September 30 w/ a launch party at ArtFarm Annapolis.





Read the article, check out our Instagram feed and come out to the launch party! Thank you UpStArt for the feature! You made this native Annapolitan feel more at home, more loved and more accepted as a creative in this amazing community! Thank you Christian Smooth for taking the time to take pics of me for this feature! You are the man!








An Open Letter to Maxwell

Dear Maxwell,

I’m a fan! I’ve been a fan! But, blackSUMMERS’night has made me more of a fan! You have blessed us with your gifts and have masterfully crafted your sound and style over the years! This album is so soulful, it hurts! Every sound is so perfect and the chemistry between you and the music is magical!

Thank you for such an amazing body of work! I can’t wait until the next one!

Darin Michelle!