A few weeks ago we got to sit down with Sharifa Murdock, KITH’s Chief of People and Culture, Co-Owner of Liberty Fairs, Founder of The Brooklyn Intern, CEO of ENVSN Festival, the list goes on. She took time from her twenty seven jobs to talk about her career, goals, and why she does the things she does.
“I’m an advocate for showing young people, or guiding them in some sort of way because I think that they, especially with today’s struggle with what someone else has and what someone else has done, they suffer from a lot of anxiety and it’s just a lot for them. So however I can be a champion for them, I want to do that and I want to do it in the best way possible.”
Sharifa is the mind behind ENVSN, one of her passion projects that does that. It’s a community platform dedicated to helping young women with their careers and personal development, through collabs and conversation. She’s a huge advocate for empowerment and giving back, so it made sense to create ENVSN and have the festivals.
“I always say it’s a love letter to myself.”
“I felt like I knew a lot of positive young women and men that could mentor people… I wanted the people to feel uplifted, and I wanted the people to feel dynamic, and I wanted young people to understand that there is no limit to where you can go, and that’s how ENVSN was birthed. I always say it’s a love letter to myself- I wanted people to understand how I grew up and given the chance a lot of people can be successful. I was given an opportunity years ago and I wanted to make sure that I was able to hand out that same opportunity to women that might not get the same opportunity.”
We also talked about mentorship, and what her own mentor, Sam Ben-Avraham, has done for her. One of her biggest messages was the importance of having vulnerability, and to understand that a lot of the time people do need to seek out guidance. Even at the stage she’s at in her career, she admits that she will always continue to follow in Sam’s footsteps. She explained, “He has sculpted me as a woman in this fashion industry dealing with men, which is most of the time very difficult for women.” And those connections mean a lot.
Her biggest “hell yeah I made it” moment of her career was when Sam asked her to be partners and start Liberty Fairs, a contemporary fashion and lifestyle trade show. After starting it in 2013, they’ve gone from focusing on the men’s market to expanding their offering to all genders. And now in 2021, they have just recently launched their virtual marketplace.
“The words that came out of his mouth were ‘I never would have done this without you.’ It made me feel like, wow I am appreciated, he knows my worth, he knows my value, he knows what I bring to the table; and I always say that if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be the business person I am today.”
Then we talked about gender equality in the realm of streetwear, and how the industry is on the up-and-up. Streetwear has become an everyone-club; it’s for boys, girls, adults, teenagers, everyone. Even within the culture at KITH, it’s something that the company makes sure to prioritize.
“I can tell you with [KITH] we’re a little over fifty percent women, and we run it… We just did a whole Women’s Day campaign, and it’s so crazy because it’s just a smidgen- that’s just 50 women that work for the company, and we have over that… It was just to showcase how supportive of women the company is, I think we uplift our women in every single way when it comes to our company. It’s a big deal.”
As the Chief of People and Culture for the retail establishment, that’s one of her main goals. Sharifa is basically the head advocate for the people at KITH. On the culture side, she also gets to handle their nonprofit orgs and any philanthropies they want to connect with. And it is a huge deal.
As we wrapped up, she gave a few final pieces of advice to working millennials and Gen Z.
“You guys have that foresight to kind of see what is happening, whereas my generation, we were just taught to work, work, work… I love entrepreneurship. I think I like the hustle and bustle, but I think that you’re in a great position and as long as you keep focus and also just pay attention and not feel like you’re ready to run before you even crawl… Everything doesn’t happen overnight. If you did see a story that happened overnight, that’s one in a trillion, and I want everyone to have an identity of their own. I think that that’s the one thing I always want to stress to people is like everyone’s story is not your story and I want for them to follow their own path and their own joy, and make sure that they’re happy.”