We had the good fortune of connecting with Malkia “Milk” and Kazha “Sizz” Hornsby and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Malkia “Milk” and Kazha “Sizz”, so given that most of us are stuck at home due to the crisis, we’ve been asking folks about what they’ve enjoyed doing during quarantine. We’d love to hear what your favorite thing to do has been.
Before we cancel 2020 altogether, we feel we walked away with one of the most powerful messages received to date – “Grow Where You Are Planted!” To us, it means sometimes the soil beneath you may shift, or you will be completely uprooted, but grow anyway. Grow right where you were told you couldn’t grow or aren’t meant to grow; Grow anyway. Growing despite the devastation of loss is a challenge we wish on no one. We were only 7 days into 2020 when our brother Eric Mwangi Thumbi, 35, passed away suddenly. January 25th, we lost another brother Derrick Thumbi, 47. Since 2017, we’ve lost a mother, uncles, and cousins. Loss was a weed growing in our family destroying all the pretty flowers before some of them could fully bloom. So when the news broke of the COVID-19 pandemic, our family was already mourning two unrelated losses. There was no room for more anxiety and fear; that space was occupied by grief. We are grateful for the safety measures our families took to stay healthy during this pandemic’s uncertainty and can report no additional losses due to COVID-19 at this time.
We feel the quarantine slowed things down for us in a much needed way. We were able to reflect and take inventory of who and what was important. We’ve been able to plan for our future, whatever may come, versus panic. We’ve learned to be fluid and resourceful by creating new, unique spaces for our family to grow. We primarily work from home, so there was little adjustment needing to be made at the beginning of the quarantine. Clients would call and we would answer. The transactions seemed pretty seamless. Instead of face to face interactions, we were Zooming or FaceTiming through meetings and filling cue requests via email. Nothing new. However, quarantine removed all the unnecessary meet-ups and meetings just to meet again on the same topics days or months later.
Reclaiming our time has been wonderful! Then as if we didn’t have enough on our plates already, we decided to leave our existing residence of 8 years to go on a new journey: collective economics. In the next 18 -24 months we will buy land and build our dream home. After years of traveling the world enjoying the simple life of apartment living, valet trash, 24 hour maintenance, and endless amenities, we decided to adjust our environment to support the growing needs of our soon to be 3 year old Makena. Loft living wasn’t giving us any extra bed rooms, doors, or opportunities to save money while we look for land. We knew staying where we were, although comfortable, was no longer a long or short term solution. Moving into a large apartment wouldn’t really fulfill our goal. So, we had to uproot. That’s when a childhood friend of ours chimed in and recommended we take the lower half of their home. I’m sure he didn’t know what he was asking for: as we have such particular taste in design and aesthetics. However, he and his family willingly gave us complete autonomy to convert their one family home to a split level two-family home similar to the ones we lived in growing up in New Jersey. So that’s what we did! We gutted the lower level and essentially created an apartment within a home. Now we will have the time to look for a home without the stress of escalating rent, a pandemic looming over our heads, and grieving.
We know so many families touched by this pandemic, and it’s been nice having a quaranTeam. All renovations have been stressful. Doing primarily all the work and designing alone has been both challenging and rewarding. Hiring a crew during a pandemic was not something we were willing to do for the safety of our tribe. Growing up in a construction family on the Hornsby side has its perks! Our brother created the full infrastructure including running water, electricity, and framing, while other brothers came down from New Jersey to help build a bathroom. We are truly blessed! The new/temporary space will include 2 bedrooms, a completely separate recording studio space, kitchen, living room, bathroom and is less than 800 sq ft, which is roughly around the size we want the studio/living space in our new home to be. So, we are thinking strategically about how what is being built will transfer into that space. We want future guests to come over and record and stay in a separate space from the main house. Everything we create now, we are doing intentionally thinking about our tomorrow.
One of the best decisions we made with making our world more Makena-centric was not only creating a beautiful space for her to learn and grow, but creating music for her to enjoy. Alongside sister duo Arin Jones Jackson of GRAMMY-nominated Brownstone and singer/actor, Alexis Jones, we formed “The Magic Jones” and released first single “Twinkle Twinkle” May 8, 2020. The music is an R&B spin on a classic lullaby. We all saw a lack of diversity in children’s music and wanted to contribute something the whole family can enjoy. The Magic Jones is a 60% Women and 100% Black Owned partnership. We believe in and fight for representation in all music spaces, because we are not limited to one category or genre. We want our legacy to be ‘Broken Boxes.’ Never let anyone make you live or create in a box. Please follow, review, and send us videos of your beautiful little ones listening to the song or watching the video. Tag @TheMagicJones and @MilknSizz when sharing. We want to create more spaces for beautiful brown children to grow!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We believe that an artist, a company or a brand’s unique sonic identity will always set them apart from the herd. We create and develop those identities and we pride ourselves in using one’s existing authenticity to find their greatness. We discourage our clients from falling into a conformity mindsets when completing projects because no one ever did anything great by doing what was comfortable or easy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Right now NOWHERE! STAY HOME!
We created an oasis at home so we didn’t feel the need leave. We have fully stocked bar with all the Rosè, Tequlia and Rum we can drink and we make some pretty great cocktails but if we need help we can just call Shannon Evans for tips.
As far as eats, we highly recommend take out from Endive Publik House (Thursday – Saturday) , Poor Calvin’s, Umi, Yebo and Vegreen. If you like to cook like us we recommend a Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods run for the long weekend. Currently, we are obsessed with lamb.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We must thank Ray, Britny and Atlas Perry, Upper Echelon Services (Georgia), Zarah Wilson Home Improvement (Delaware), Sirtura Hornsby (New Jersey) Charles Mitchell and all of our family and friends for their unwavering support. As far as our current reads, we enjoy Manifest Now by Idil Ahmed, The ONE Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan, How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King, and Untamed by Glennon Doyle.
Nominate someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.