(ep 6) What do you do to push yourself through? With Overtown hotelier and historian Kristin Kitchen
  • Erica Vernet Knowles

(ep 6) What do you do to push yourself through? With Overtown hotelier and historian Kristin Kitchen

Updated: Apr 22





(ep 6) What do you do to push yourself through? With Overtown hotelier and historian Kristin Kitchen


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The Collective Drift platform was created by Erica Knowles to celebrate all women, the beauty of their cultures, and international travel experiences. I believe that women possess magic, that gives them strength and grace to change the world. We learn how to tap into our power in various ways based on our cultural backgrounds and our journeys. Join me and an amazing collective of multicultural, multiethnic, and multigenerational women that are artists, cultural leaders and travel enthusiasts as they tell their stories about their culture, their tribe of women, their passions, their art, and their favorite international experiences. Welcome to Collective Drift.


What do you do to push yourself through? How do you deal with adversity? Is it possible to succeed during a pandemic? How does a hotelier run a hotel during a time of trouble? How do you use creativity to solve difficult problems? These are all things that hotelier Kristin Kitchen handles naturally because her mother handled difficult situations with imagination and creativity. It’s her grandmother’s voice in her head that inspires her and pushes her through to continue to be her best. It’s the poems that she learned as a child that continue to guide her with their wisdom. It’s the international volunteer trips that she has taken that has allowed her to refocus.



This is an interview with the remarkable Kristin Kitchen. She is an African American woman, the owner of the Sojourn Heritage bed and breakfast collection, historian and mom of her rambunctious seven-year-old daughter. She owns 6 Acres B & B in Cincinnati, OH and has recently opened The Dunns Josephine Hotel in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, FL. While her hotels celebrate African American Heritage the majority of her guests are not African American. We had a great conversation about the stories shared at her boutique hotels, how her grandmother and mother influenced her tenacity, and how international travels have impacted her. As we are living in the Coronavirus pandemic we also discussed how she has been able stay positive by having creative solutions.


The Dunns Josephine Hotel was renovated through a grant provided by the Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA


This episode is the first of a series of episodes that is sponsored by the Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA and will highlight the creative women business owners in their community. So you’ll also learn about how Kristin chose the Overtown location and including her favorite spots in Overtown. You can see them in detail below.


Kristin Kitchen has been a hotelier for 15 years opening up the first of her Sojourn Heritage Hotels 6 Acres B & B in Cincinnati, OH and more recently the The Dunns Josephine Hotel in the Overtown area of Miami, FL. Both hotels celebrate African American history and are a treat to stay at especially for is a wonderful place to stay at especially for history and jazz buffs.


Throughout Kristin’s she has noticed that African American history hasn’t been told properly or enough in the United States or in other countries around the world. This is one of the things that has inspired her to open hotels based on African American heritage. At the hotels guests are invited to participate in “Let’s share life over breakfast”. In these discussions the guests learn about African American history and share their own stories. Kristin's favorite discussion was when white family visited the hotel as a part of their annual celebration of their mother in conjunction with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Their mother had walked over the Pettus Bridge with Dr King, and did this defying her husband who didn’t want her to go by borrowing money from her black maid.



6 Acres Bed & Breakfast in Cincinnati, OH 

Kristin recently opened her the Dunns Josephine Hotel, a beautiful boutique hotel in Overtown, Miami, FL. “Our goal with Sojourn Heritage is to come into communities of color and affect those communities we sourced locally. We do our best to support and empower our community. And to really show what community tourism would look like from an organic perspective. So Miami was a great chance because Overtown is iconic. So being able to do that was just amazing,” Kristin said. She practices cooperative economics by utilizing Overtown vendors, hiring employees from Overtown, and sending her guests to Overtown restaurants and shops.


The Dunn’s Josephine Hotel is a 15 room boutique hotel decorated in Harlem Renaissance style. It has portraits of people that were a part of the Harlem renaissance that had a history or connection with Miami or Overtown. Each guest receives a Bottle of wine from an African American winery and complimentary breakfast. There are wine tastings on Friday nights and their lobby is a warm communal space that is also open for the community. They will also be a host hotel for the 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.


The Dunns Josephine Hotel is a 15 room boutique hotel in the historic Overtown neighborhood of Miami, FL


Kristin’s Paternal grandmother was a maid that taught her how to make breakfast, set the table, fold napkins, decorate a table so that it would look like something you would tag on Pinterest. Her Grandmother was proud of her as Kristin was her first grandchild to graduate from college And she knows that her grandmother would be pushing her to get up everyday and do her best because Kristin isn’t working for someone else - she owns the hotel.


Kristin’s mother was a professor and single mom. She didn’t allow children to watch TV and she encouraged her children to read books. Her house was fun. Her mom was a French minor in college and would have them play French restaurant, making french menus, her brother’s were the matradees. They would play this game when the electricity went out. And it taught her to not panic when there is trouble and that the lights do come back on.


During this COVID19 pandemic Kristin has chosen to find creative solutions rather than shut down. When she learned that hotels would be closed except for essential travelers she looked into who are those essential people and how you can get in touch with them. She didn’t wake up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic thinking that her life was over, she woke up thinking about new strategies. She has a strong belief in thinking positive because of the way that her mother raised her. And Kristin is motivated by the memories of her Grandmother.


Kristin doesn’t practice any daily rituals. Her seven-year-old wakes her up or she has to pull her seven year old out of the bed. And if she doesn’t come in she just lays in peace. Getting her to school on time is the relief. And her simple escape is grabbing a sudoku book or playing 7 words. These activities allow her to relax and zone out from her busy life even if just for a few moments. I’m sure some of you can relate to that.



When the market crashed in 2008 Kristin’s whole financial portfolio was with Lehman Brothers. Needles to say this was a difficult time for her. She spent Sept 2008 - Dec / Jan completely paralyzed, just stuck watching CNN. Kristin said, “but then I got to a point where I got angry with myself and I said, Okay, you grew up with a woman who could make a way out with no way. And if you've gotten to the point where you really think you're gonna lose it, you need to go serve somebody. So I took two months off and went to an orphanage in Africa and worked with children that didn't have parents. They could get up and praise God every day. It was kind of that balance that I needed.”


In the interview Kristin talks about her experience at the orphanage with the children. Giving them pajamas she collected. Which was a funny interaction because they didn’t know what pajamas were. She had an inspiring moment with the girls about hair. The girls’ symbol of beauty was long hair and they believe American women have long flowy hair. Their hair was cut short so that it was manageable. They were shocked at Kristin having short hair by choice. It was the first time that they met someone like this and it taught them that having short hair doesn’t mean you were poor. And that you can be beautiful with short hair.



Kristin said that in Kenya there was a “soulfulness that was so familiar. You know, those grandmothers felt like my grandmother and that that deeper part of spirituality that goes beyond religion”. It was definitely a spiritual time for her that greatly impacted her life. During the trip Kristin reflected on what she really needed. She had so much stuff. It reminded her of a quote from an Eckhart Tolle book “the ego has an insatiable appetite and the more you feed it the hungrier it gets. And he said, at some point, man will understand that God and the ego can't live in the same house.” So she went home and purged.


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So, what is a question Kristen would ask other women?

What do you dream of?


How does Kristen define a woman?

“For me there is power in being a woman”.


Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA

http://experienceovertown.com/


Collective Drift

https://www.collectivedrift.com/

https://www.instagram.com/collectivedrift


Dunns Josephine Hotel

http://dunns-josephinehotel.com

https://www.instagram.com/dunnsjosephinehotel/


Kristen’s favorite places in Overtown, Miami, FL


Restaurants

Groovin Bean

https://groovinbean.com/


House of Wings

http://houseofwingsmiami.com/


Jackson’s Soul Food

https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/restaurant/jackson-soul-food-historic-overtown/1288


Hampton Art Lovers

https://www.hamptonartlovers.com/


Red Rooster Overtown

http://redroosterovertown.com/


Lil Green House Grill

https://www.lilgreenhousegrill.com/



Natural Skin and Haircare


Ebene

http://www.ebenenaturals.com/


Fou

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Collective Drift Founder & Publish

er

Erica Vernet Knowles, is a Miami native, an international traveler, and a culture enthusiast. She is known for having a beautiful personality, her ability to help others communicate their message, and for connecting people. Erica is the founder and producer of Collective Drift.  With over 20 years of climbing America’s corporate ladder, Erica found her niche in the media industry serving as an executive director, publisher, and editor-in-chief for 5 publications. However, she grew up watching her grandmother travel the world, experiencing the arts, and taking international trips with her family.  So, Erica has always had a calling for the arts, culture and travel. In the summer of 2011 Erica began her journey abroad spending a vast amount of time in Lima, Peru and Bangkok, Thailand. She has had the amazing opportunity to visit 40+ countries within Africa, South East Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe and South America. Erica's journey has widened her viewpoint of self in relation to others around the world. Furthermore, she gained true friends that are like family around the world and an enhanced appreciation of their culture.  It is the connections with the women she has met while traveling that has inspired Collective Drift.



Music by Catherine Knowles
Photos provided by Sojourn Heritage Accommodations 



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