Home is Where the Art is.
Updated: May 29, 2020
Get ready for a story about a woman who was able to call foreign places like Thailand home. While traveling to neighboring cities and countries to spread light, gain wisdom, and create multiple streams of income -- she found herself.
Vagabond Jazz, an international entrepreneur, model, and business professor takes the mic on The Femtourage’s Podcast. In this 50-minute interview with host and The Femtourage’s creator, Carlyn Crawley, you can feel Jazz’s authentic, free spirit as she details how she ended up over 8,000 miles from home (and never went back).
Born of Jamaican descent, Jazz believes traveling is in her DNA – after all, her family came from Jamaica to England and then arrived in America. And even after they got here, they never truly “settled.” It wasn’t until Jazz got into high school that she realized the nomadic and unstable lifestyle she grew up with wasn’t normal by society standards.
Nonetheless, society and their rules do not govern souls like Jazz. Her childhood experiences of packing light and being on the move gifted her with being comfortable wherever and detached from worldly possessions. By the time she arrived at college, Jazz was scoping out every opportunity to study abroad, which gave her a chance to see Panama, Thailand, and France.
There was something different about Thailand and its locals, and Jazz couldn’t get enough of it. The Asian country stole her heart and allowed her to create her own reality. Jazz noticed that the Thais weren’t moved by the same materialistic values Americans were, and she craved to emulate their lifestyle and freeness.
While pursuing higher education, Jazz applied for a fellowship in Asia through the prestigious Princeton University and had to beg the administration to place her in Thailand. They obliged with one condition – it had to be a place unfamiliar to most people. Jazz says the administration believed if anyone could make the most out of a situation, it was her.
In the poorest part of Thailand, Khon Kaen is where Jazz met the most amazing people.
During her fellowship, Jazz worked as a professor teaching English and Business to Thai students. As she poured into them, Jazz was poured back into. Within a year, she connected with students and their families, became a trusted ally and integral part of the Thai community, and signed a contract for another year.
Jazz explains how her ability to be rooted without attachments brought some of her greatest moments, including, finding love, starting businesses, and creating Mali Pah – her international clothing line inspired by her adventures and the indigenous people of Asia. She explains that because of her constant moving, it was imperative to create sources of income AND be her natural self -- a reason Jazz created #NaturalHairWorldTour.
When Vagabond Jazz noticed Thailand lacked products for black people’s hair and skin, she invited stylists from America to Asia to do the hair of other black expats. Jazz admits it took some time for them to trust that this was a safe thing to do. So, before they finally agreed (it took a few trips), Jazz would take an empty suitcase when she traveled home to L.A and fill it up with products.
Vagabond Jazz enjoys going back home and sharing her stories so much that she plans on writing a book. There’s a misconception about black people who live abroad. Jazz wants to change the narrative, especially with the youth. She wants young children, like her niece, to understand there are other people and communities that we can learn from.
After five years of living abroad, there are no plans of slowing down. Jazz will continue with her business -- Mali Pah, host workshops where she creates dream catchers, and work with a Thai production company to create travel content. Vagabond Jazz has lived in over 4 different places within the last year and a half; that’s a lot of change, but we know one constant thing: Vagabond Jazz lives life on her own terms. We admire her freedom, her creativity, and her unapologetic passion for living a meaningful life.
Shanice G. Richardson is a published, freelance digital content writer with over four years of marketing experience. She’s skilled in creating impactful, engaging stories that connect readers to popular brands and the people who run them.