What happens when a crafty hip-hop head sprinkles her black girl magic on the DIY space?
Welcome to the world of A.V. Perkins. She’s a lifestyle content creator and influencer behind the widely popular DIY blog, A.V. Does What!?. Her around the way girl vitality and natural craft-making sense are the driving force behind her appetizing YouTube channel of the same name.
A.V. has appeared in Ebony, Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed just to name a few. She’s disrupting DIY with a unique flavor catering to urban millennial women, encouraging them to tap into their crafty sense. A lifelong hip-hop lover, naturally A.V. incorporates this genre into her work. A.V. is also known for the highly-addictive game, University of Dope (U Dope). She and Marian Andoh created the game in November of 2016. Since then, they’ve acquired a sponsorship through Afropunk. Within a year, this black girl duo amassed wide recognition featured in a number of outlets including Blavity, Soul Bounce and Slay Culture.
Through hip-hop, heartache, and homemaking, A.V.’s journey is one to follow.
Tyler: What encouraged you to birth A.V. Does What!?
A.V.: Everyone was asking me, “AV, what don’t you do? You do everything”. Back then, I was using Tumblr to share my travels and the different things I do. It wasn’t until my father passed away, I decided to make it into a blog. I wanted something to dedicate to him and all of our Saturdays doing crafty stuff. We were resourceful. It expanded from there. I was giving myself something to do in this time of grieving. I was new to the blogging thing and branding, especially for someone behind the camera for a number of years. I was still trying to find my voice. When you think of DIY you think of Martha Stewart. One day I was eating waffles, it was a Saturday and I was in my onesie, comfortable on a winter morning. I’m eating this bangin’ waffle, sidebar I had just got a new waffle maker, and I see the WU Tang symbol in the waffle. And that’s where hip-hop homemaking came to be. I started using the #hiphophomemaking. I already speak in hip-hop lyrics so it was easy for me to be myself in the DIY space. My voice is me. I don’t have to be somebody else so I should continue going down this path. I don’t just talk about hip-hop. It’s a part of my life. I’m your homegirl who crafts as well.
Who is your target audience?
A.V.: My target audience is me. It’s [A.V. Does What!?] named after me. It’s for me and people who like me. People who are authentic. People who live out loud. People who are creative. From a branding sense, it’s for urban millennial women.
Where do you see AV Does What!? in the next five years?
A.V.: I want to have more merchandise. I currently work with brands, but I want to work on a larger scale like a Target having a line of dishes and paint swatches. I want to have a paint collection. I’m also in the process of starting a production company to create more DIY and lifestyle content. And not just with me, but to produce other people so that urban millennials can become educated, whatever it may be, in a voice they are more receptive to.
Why does representation matter in DIY?
A.V.: We’re everywhere. We need representation everywhere. We have houses. We have apartments. We live somewhere. We’re not homeless. For people of color, we’ve been doing DIY forever. We didn’t call it DIY. We were just making it and calling it resourceful. We’ve always excelled and there’s money to be made as people learn what we’ve already known. We’ve been giving up trade secrets for free. Besides on a financial level, it’s good for younger generations to see that anything is possible being authentically you, particularly young girls of color. I grew up watching Caribbean Rhythm on BET and being of Caribbean descent, that was the first time seeing someone who is actually Caribbean, not that Cool Runnings stuff, presenting education. They had Rachel and she’s gorgeous. They had music playing from different islands that I didn’t know about it. There were so many to learn about. I want to bring back that vibe; we can learn and be cool in our same voice.
What sparked you to co-create University of Dope?
It all started with a massive game night, easily 150 people at my house. My business partner (Marian Andoh) and I went to college together. We always talked about hip-hop together. She visited me after that game night. I asked her to name all the members of Wu-Tang. Just random. She said, “Yeah, I can name all the members of WWu-Tang”. Then I asked, “Can you name all the members of Wu-Tang drunk?” . She said, “Yeah,” but I didn’t believe her. It (University of Dope) started off as a drinking game. We went on Google looking for it and it didn’t exist so we decided to make it up so it stuck. We both have separate projects and we let about seven months go by and nothing came of it. Her cousin passed away, we all went to college together and it hit us hard. He was supportive of the idea. We need a hard deadline, if not, we’re not going to get this done. If we don’t do this, we need to be okay with it. She would come down from Connecticut and we would lock ourselves in one of the rooms in my house, with our graphic designer. No one was leaving. We could order in. There’s a shower, but no one was leaving. And we knocked it out in four months. We were doing a second annual of the game night on the same day as the first one and we used our prototype on that night. AV Does What!? and U Dope are cousins.
Favorite hip hop song of all-time?
A.V.: “Get Money” (Junior M.A.F.I.A. ft. Notorious B.I.G.) I even do that Mary J. hand swerve in the air when it comes on.
For women feeling stuck and sitting on a great idea, what advice do you have for them?
A.V.: What puts the fire under me is that I don’t want to starve. If I don’t work then it’s pending starvation on the horizon. You can’t procrastinate. How would you feel if someone started your idea? I’ve never asked someone to pick their brain. I’ve never needed to because people see me working. We talk and then the brain picking begins. They see me working and they want to help. People will complain that no one is supporting them, but are you doing the work or are you complaining? If you want to get started, but don’t, just think about somebody else starting it for you.
Ready to play? Click here to scoop #UDope for your next game night. (I own a pack of #UDope, and trust me, your game night will never be the same. Girl Tyler approved!)