Today’s The Day!!! Introducing the EHD Mentee… The Very Talented Keyanna Bowen

Today is the day! We launched our first mentorship program this year and while there were many great candidates (seriously), there was one that really stood out. Keyanna. Simply because she is extremely talented in design, has a great voice, and lots of solid on-camera and production skills. We want to be part of changing the landscape of the design world and frankly, she is too talented not to have a larger audience to follow, watch, listen, and be inspired by. So today I’m introducing you to Key and publishing a slightly updated version of her application essay (so you can see why she was the choice for our first mentee) and she’ll show you the first project that she will be documenting on here and on her blog. Welcome, Keyanna!!! (and don’t forget to follow her on blog, East and Lane and her Instagram).

Hi, I’m Keyanna, but friends (ie. you guys) call me Key! I can’t even express how thrilled, honored, excited, nervous, humbled, etc. etc. etc. I am to be the first EHD mentee and can’t wait to share this journey with you all! 

So here’s a little bit about me/my blog. And by “little bit” I mean a lot a bit. Because if you’re going to divulge your life and dreams to millions of EHD readers, you minus well go all in…

But first, a little video I made with the EHD team (just wait for the ad to play)!

Ok now let’s get into it.

I live in a very small, rural town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (shout out to all the small-town dwellers out there). After graduation (I have a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Howard University), I moved back home and quickly realized the lack of creative opportunities in my small town. I had two options: 1. move to a big city with more opportunities, or 2. create my own. I chose the latter. And that’s how the blog started…

In 2015, I purchased a DSLR camera, put back on my journalism/storytelling hat, and launched East & Lane as a creative outlet to share my passion for home, design, wellness/lifestyle, and small-town living. At its core, East & Lane is about cherishing the love of home, wherever that may be. As the girl who opted to dream big in a small town, my motto has always been “bloom where you are planted.” My hope is that readers leave my site feeling inspired to curate a home and a life they love — no matter where they live. Because I believe, living your “best life” starts, at home.

So what have I been doing with my blog these last 5 years? 

Well, let’s just say I have an on-again, off-again (mostly off) relationship with my blog. I haven’t posted on my blog for a while for a myriad of reasons (mostly self-sabotage). From imposter syndrome to the mere overwhelm of trying to figure out a content marketing strategy paralyzed me from pursuing my dream of full-time blogging. Not to mention, the lack of diversity in the design blogosphere made me question if a Black (small-town) gal like myself can be successful in an industry that happens to be very White-washed. 

However, despite the recent tragedies in the world, I’m grateful for movements that have taken place to help #AmplifyMelanatedVoices and create more diversity and inclusion. Finally seeing BIPOC design bloggers and creatives getting the recognition and exposure they deserved gave me hope and determination for my own blog. Although creating inspiring content has always been my mission, I feel like I’ve found a new purpose for blogging–one that is much bigger than me or design… It’s no longer about the money or success (although getting paid for blogging would be AWESOME), but I truly just want to be a hope and inspiration for my community and for girls (young and old alike) who look like me — because representation matters!

They say before you start any endeavor, you need to know your “WHY”. You guys, are my “why”. My community is my “why”. Representation, diversity, and inclusion are my “why”!

I now have a fire burning inside of me like never before to turn my blogging dreams into reality. But in all honesty, even though I’m clear on my “why”, I am completely clueless on the “how”. So having the support and guidance of the EHD team on an upcoming project is truly a dream come true.

Oh, and if you’re thinking, that’s great you found your “calling”, but what do you actually do for a living? Well, teaching myself how to use a camera to take pictures for my blog actually lead to a career in interior photography (Sara Tramp you’re my idol). So freelance photography is how I “pay my bills” (with the help of the hubs, of course). But I’ve also dabbled in everything from design, to styling, to real estate, to construction project management, and I recently graduated from carpentry training school! Any other multi-passionate creatives out there who want to do/be more than just one thing? So yea, I’m a bit of a Jill of all trades, but I know I can merge all these passions/skillsets to create some inspiring and resourceful content for my blog. 

I’m very lucky to have a uber-talented husband. His name is Daniel, but friends (ie. you guys) can call him D. He’s a musician but also does videography on the side and shoots/edits videos for me in exchange for hugs & kisses! (it’s almost like an Emily and Brian situation;))

Now, let me tell you about the project I pitched for my EHD Mentorship application… 

D and I recently moved into a new rental. I say “recently”, but it’s actually been 2.5 years…time flies when you’re having fun in a pandemic. The home is an adorable 1950s cape cod. We love the neighborhood and all the charm and character of the exterior, but the interior is very dated! I’ve always wanted to buy a fixer-upper to makeover, but we aren’t ready to buy. So when we found a dated rental I saw it as a chance for me to flex my design muscle, and make some blog content. I’ve partnered with my landlord, and he’s agreed to give me a small (read: tiny) budget to update some rooms. I’ve already tackled the kitchen, which I documented on my blog and YouTube (here and here), and my home office is next on the project list.

Warning: What I am about to show you may be disturbing…

HERE IT IS.

My home office. The space where I spend 99.9% of my day. The space that I’m supposed to be creative in and produce inspiring content. Perhaps this is why I haven’t been able to get my blog off the ground — how can anyone be creative in a space that looks like this? The plan is to transform it into a dual purpose space. I need it to function as an office/creative space, but also serve as a guest room if/when this pandemic ever ends. Even though the room is hideous right now, it has lots of potential. So stay tuned for more.

(Hoping my cute pup will distract from the hot mess of a room.)

So there ya have it! My life and dreams summed up for you guys to judge get to know me 😉 I can’t wait to share this project and mentee journey with you guys. Like Em, I’m an open book (and sometimes long-winded) so be sure to follow along on my personal blog and social media where I’ll be sharing all the nitty-gritty details, updates, behind the scenes, etc. 

Blog: www.eastandlane.com

Youtube: www.youtube.com/eastandlane

IG/FB/Pinterest: @eastandlane 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t end this with a huge THANK YOU to the EHD team for this opportunity. And to all of you for welcoming me with open arms… and making it to the end of this post.  

Talk to you guys soon!

xx Key

Fin Mark

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