I am pleased to be contributing a weekly human interest feature to the weekend edition of NEWS784 called Diaspora Dynamics, where we will focus on keeping you abreast of the activities, achievements, and contributions of Vincentians all around the world. This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dornel Kirby an American Vincentian by way of parents Tammy Kirby and Wayne Dennie of Rose Place, Kingstown. Dornel is a full-time college student, fashion designer, recording artist and entrepreneur, based in Brooklyn, NY, USA.
Walking through Medgar Evers college campus with Dornel Kirby proved very revealing. He strode through the hallways with a measured, steady, confident grace. Greeting students, faculty, and staff with equal warmth, he made his way purposefully, leading us towards the auditorium as we exchanged pleasantries.
Dornel is a self-described African American Vincentian by way of his parents Tammy Kirby and Wayne Dennie of Rose Place, Kingstown.
College student, fashion designer, recording artist, music producer and entrepreneur are all roles this busy 22-year young man juggles chasing yen and his dreams. All this activity is closely overseen by his mother, with whom he lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn along with his twin siblings.
Growing up as a first-generation American, Dornel had the advantage of existing in two contrasting worlds. As a child, he left his urban Brooklyn setting to spent summers with his family in our beautiful idyllic paradise at Rose Place, like any other Vincy child. “I used to be in Edinboro hanging out with the other boys barefoot in my soccer pants, diving off the rocks.”
He remains very connected to his Vincentian heritage, especially the cuisine, “I grew up spending a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother. I love to cook and they taught me how to cook the Vincentian way. So now, that is my preferred style of cooking.”
Dornel’s foray into the arts started early. At just 13, he started rapping. “My passion is a creative expression. I love music, fashion, art and sharing my thoughts and ideas.” To date, he has released 15 recordings. Currently, he is finalizing work on a 6 song EP, entitled, “Respect Don’t Come From Currency,” under his hip-hop moniker, DK got Aura. Dornel is a message artist and the theme of this latest recording is worldly possessions do not define character, which is consistent with his personal philosophy.
Dornel has always been attracted to the Asian arts, including anime, martial arts, and calligraphy. This fascination inspired him to create a collection of reasonably priced, fashionable and well-constructed line of hip hop clothing under the brand name, Paid In Yen. His logo driven sportswear line capitalizes on his logo which is a kanji (Chinese character), that means Victory.
His clothing expresses his practical nature. He describes his line as affordable, stylish and subtle, with comfort being the key to wearability. He focuses on quality over quantity. Paid in Yen clothing is available at paidinyenclothing.spreadshirt.com.
Dornel creates a victory with every well thought out move he makes. His personal philosophy is captured in the acronym, VITOO, meaning Victory Is The Only Option. “I just want to win. That kinda sounds like a flawed statement, but I still feel like there is a victory in every effort. There’s victory even in failure because it teaches me something.
A lesson is an ultimate victory” This life philosophy has driven him to take financial risks from a young age. He has invested time and money into ventures that he thinks may yield positive results for his community. In typical Aries fashion, he pushes through barriers seen and unseen. “I put my best foot forward in everything I do. A financial “win” isn’t always achievable, but I see victory in my failures from the lessons I have learned.”
Currently, Dornel is a scholar, maintaining excellent grades as he pursues his bachelors in business administration. He plans to also obtain his real estate license upon graduation to open up other avenues to establishing a future business empire. He is driven to make his mark on this world in true Aries form, butting through all obstacles.
Dornel lists traveling, sightseeing, yoga, and meditation as some of his sources of inspiration. He is very self-directed, introspective and ambitious as described by his mother. According to Tammy, “he has always been driven, “he wants success so badly, hearing him talk about it so passionately makes me want it just as badly for him.”
His mother keeps him on track the Vincentian way. According to Dornel, “Caribbean parents are very hard to please. They have very high to almost impossible expectations. Because of my mom, I realize how important it is to take pride in all I do, and to carry myself a certain way.”
I certainly recognize the Vincy in this ambitious, driven young man. His story is indeed one of victory. Victory in the losses he turns into gains, and victory in his irrepressible desire to do as much as he can for himself and for his people.
I have no doubt we will be watching this young man soar in the future.
In his own words, “I want to leave an impression on people. I want to influence people through art, music, and public speaking.”
Honestly, he has certainly made quite an impression on me. Dornel is the voice of our promising future, coached in what we know and love about our past. Functioning as a bridge to our higher selves.