I met Qimmah a few years ago, and have been awestruck by the work she’s created over the years, and the space of inclusiveness, joy, and power, that is HANNAH. From neon orange scull-caps in the dead of winter, to perfectly worn army jacket as we run into one another during our spring morning coffee runs, Q’s style inhabits ease and a New York coolness. So of course, I needed a window in. Here’s more…
LaTonya: Where is your apartment located?
Qimmah: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. We just relocated here last year. We’re slowly making it ours, but it’s felt like home from the start.
LaTonya: Tell us about your childhood home in the Bronx?
Qimmah: We’ve always lived in houses. Not because we were well-off monetarily, but my parents found a way to make it happen because there were so many of us. My parents had nine children together, and my father already had three. Add in extended family, cousins and lots of friends, our homes were always brimming with people and love. The house that holds the biggest part of my heart was in the North Bronx off of Gun Hill Road. My mother jokes that it was a bed and breakfast that we never charged for. Lots of love to go around to everyone who visited. We had a yard the size of the house. This was before people began building on every inch of land available. There is now a whole house in the yard we had. But when we lived there it was magical. All types of birds and small animals. There was a huge tree in our yard. I remember lying beneath in three feet of snow, staring up at the stars. It was a great home.
LaTonya: And now, that you’re raising your own daughter in Brooklyn, where does your version of motherhood and home meet?
Qimmah: I’ve had to strike a balance between the type of home I’ve always kept (minimal, clean always, everything just so) and the home I want for Leahn: one that encourages creativity, individuality and freedom to express. So there are areas just for her throughout the apartment, where I urge her to create and imagine. She’s lovely though because she also loves cleaning. Haha! She plays freely but cleans up after herself. She isn’t even two yet! Super mature and intelligent for her age.
LaTonya: What’s your most cherished piece in here?
Qimmah: I have a couple but I’d have to say my bookshelf in my office. I found it on Craigslist years ago. It’s super sturdy and beautiful and holds my library of books and mags, along with some cherished possessions. It’s lived in five of my homes already. No plans of ever letting it go.
LaTonya: Did moving here inspire the newest issue of HANNAH
Qimmah: Each issue of HANNAH represents a different phase of life for me. The first issue was born shortly after my daughter was born. The second was created in LA; we’d gone out there to live for a bit to break away from the stress of NY. This last issue came with my return to NY and a phase of pushing past the difficulty that comes with creating anything and following your passion. It ain’t easy. At all. So the third issue felt like birth all over again. It was beautiful. HANNAH is getting closer and closer to what I have always envisioned it would be. Safe spaces within our pages and beyond them. I am very proud of her.
LaTonya: One thing that defines the “New Yorkness” of your apartment?
Qimmah: We live in a brownstone that is pretty old. So everything that comes with that. Creaky floors and windows that take a bit of elbow grease to open. But overall, we found a gem. It’s a great space.
LaTonya: Alright, three words to describe the way your place feels?
Qimmah: Blessed, safe, loved.
Thank you so much, Q!
(Photography by Amanda Petersen for LaTonya Yvette)