• Jon Olangi

UnWine CLT Empowers Open Dialogue And Emotional Support Necessary​ for Millennials​



The anxiety and adversity that many young creatives operate under is often overshadowed by sheer determination to continue creating through it, because they “gotta get this money”. It is undeniable how dangerous of a mindset this is, as information has recently revealed that overworking yourself, on top of the lack of open communication and emotional support can be associated with physical and mental health issues. For Christelle Wembo, founder of UnWine CLT, open dialogue and emotional support from her close friends and fellow creatives have been essential to her evolution ahead of the second installment of her UnWine event series on August 10, 2019, at beSocial in Charlotte, North Carolina.


In a phone conversation leading up to her event, I was able to gain a perspective of what it's like for Christelle, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to step outside of her comfort zone, into a creative scene occupied by other incredibly talented people in Charlotte.


Photo by Lu Rei | LUOPTIC MEDIA

Christelle, like many young creatives, struggles with the anxiety of working a full-time 9-5 job, while also pursuing her creative passion. Operating in a creative space of whatever city or region you reside in is a fulltime job, and if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll quickly realize that justifying your creative work as the side hustle to your 9-5 job is counterproductive to what you truly want. There is an unequivocally rewarding effect in handling each job or project with the same care and discipline individually, but of course, this is easier said than done. “I want to be around creative people, but I have to work 40 hours a week to fund my creative needs,” Christelle said, laughing. “The bulk of creative learning happens Monday through Friday while I'm at work, so when I go out to a party on the weekend, I don't learn from that.”


Coincidentally, UnWine is a perfect representation of what has helped Christelle deal with her anxiety, and step into a creative space she has never been in before. Although this event will specifically focus on unpopular relationship and dating topics, in its totality, UnWine provides a physical and personable safe space for young people to be open about topics they would otherwise feel uncomfortable discussing. “Focusing on UnWine really helped me detach from my anxiety and the negative lables that comes with that,” she told me. “The energy of other creatives who are part of this event also helped alleviate the anxiety, so putting this event together really makes me happy.” 


One of those creatives is Charlotte media personality, and Brooklyn native Ohavia Phillips. Known for her vibrant and positively inspiring personality, Phillps will be the host throughout the evening of the event, as well as the moderator to a five-person panel discussion on unpopular relationship and dating topics. “There’s a message that I want to be [carefully] carried with UnWine, and I want her to carry that message,” she said of Phillips.


Panel: Je'Ron Chester, Alaetra Chisholm, Jenna Galbreath, Chris Chen, Jon Olangi

Photo by Demetria Jennings | MEECH MADE MEDIA

It brought Christelle great joy to see her event was sold out of RSVP tickets in only a weeks' time. “That shit feels really good,” she said, joyfully. “It feels good to know that people want to be a part of what we’re creating”. She made certain to credit Ivy Muthoni, Demetria “Meech” Jennings, and Lu Rei, in being pivotal to pushing and guiding her throughout her journey leading up to the event. “She's been a super huge consultant, sharing advice, and giving me some clarity on everything,” she said of Muthoni. Rei, who created the event flyer, along with conducting the visual direction for marketing the event, “is the most supportive person. Every time I need him, he’s there” she told me. Jennings, a Charlotte photographer, reached out to Christelle after her first UnWine event, telling her she wanted to be a part of what she’s doing. “Meech is so encouraging with her words and will stop what she’s doing just to help me,” she noted.


(Promotional video directed, filmed, and edited by Lu Rei/LuOptics Media LLC)


"Before UnWine, I felt like the Charlotte creative scene was intimidating,” she said. “If you don't actually go out and do things, all you have is social media to show you the perception of Charlotte’s creative scene. But it is very welcoming... if you have a good idea,” she added.


Fortunately for Christelle, UnWine is more than a good idea. It is impactful in the manner it reaches down to the root of what helps people deal with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. As many young people divulge what only appears as dirty laundry or gossip on social media as a form of therapeutic release, the important conversations are either tucked away in the depths of the many text message group chats that exist, or they more than likely aren't being had at all.


There is power in the ability to bring people together alone; but to congregate a group of people in one physical setting for the purpose of discussing uncomfortable topics is an elevated level of impact and responsibility that should never be overshadowed by self-doubt, anxiety, or any other form of emotional instability. It's very important that millennials continue to empower each other, and constantly check on their creative friend who’s working a 9-5, while also juggling to construct a sustainable career through their passion and creativity. Often times, they're seeking positive affirmation, or someone to simply vent to about their obstacles, as well as the small victories along the way.


“We have all the ingredients to have a dope event. The most important thing to me is for the content to resonate with people when they leave, and not just see it as a wine party,” she said, vibrantly. Ironically, what is indisputable about UnWine is; everything Christelle wants people to take away from her events is a direct reflection of the things and people who helped her arrive at this uncharted chapter in her life.


Jon Olangi is a senior editor and writer at TTT Media, where he covers culture.

Connect on his Twitter and Instagram

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