Erica V. Knowles

Erica V. Knowles is founder of Collective Drift, which launched on Sunday.

Traveling is often seen as a rite of passage for some, but there is a new organization in town making it a reality for women of all ages and ethnicities.

Inspired by story sharing and authentic cuisines, Collective Drift is a space for women who love art, culture and travel.

During the finale of the week-long Soul Basel events in Overtown, Collective Drift launched its first official event entitled the Art of Becoming a Woman - A Rum Punch Brunch, Sunday, Dec 8.

"We're an experience for women to come together, enjoy themselves along with the opportunity to learn about differences and celebrate the similarities," said founder Erica Vernet Knowles.

“Men are invited to join the conversation because they can learn, but conversations are about women.”

The room where the rum punch brunch was held was packed with women, excitement, colorful decor, melodic sounds and a pleasant aroma of incense and Ethiopian coffee.

The food for the brunch was prepared by chef Andre Nurse from the Barbados. The talk of the brunch was the potato salad.

Immediately after the belly dancing performance by Njeri Sofiyah, the power went out but that didn't stop the event from going on.

Each table had a diverse group of women from all walks of life led by co-hosts. Some mothers, corporate workers, visual artists, retirees, millennials, professors and even grandmothers.

Every woman had a story to share. They connected that story through their cultural experiences, spirituality, art and even their own hair journeys.

Minca Brantley, a mother who is also a professor at Miami Dade College was a table co-host. At her table, the group discussed motherhood and the importance of travel.

Brantley loved being a table co-host just as much as she enjoys traveling with her family.

"Traveling brings people together and helps us grow as individuals. Travel forces us to see ourselves and the world from different perspectives," Brantley said.

Dita Devi, a visual artist and poet was a table co-host at the brunch.

Devi’s discussion focused on spirituality.

"I love art and culture. I needed to be here. For women who feel isolated, being in a room with each other is amazing," Devi said.

Earlier that day, the event kicked off with a tour of art in the gallery of the Plaza at the Lyric. There, attendees not only viewed a variety of art, sculptures and paintings, but also connected with artists, too.

Doba Afolabi, one of the artists in the gallery at the time, didn't shy away from the camera nor onlookers to discuss his artwork. Afolabi is the creator of two pieces on display in the gallery: “The Heat and the Memory of Three” and “Kuti Symphony,” who Afolabi says is a tribute to the originator of AfroBeats, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

"Art is a universal language and brings people together,” Afolabi said.

Though his paintings are on display at OneUnited Bank and during the week of Soul Basel, he "hardly sees Black people value art until it is recognized or appreciated by another race," says Afolabi.

Knowles agreed.

"More investment is needed in Black art," said Knowles.

“We [Blacks] must promote us. Our work, our art can stand against others,” says Afolabi.

Through Knowles' new venture Collective Drift, art is embodied in culture and travel.

What's next for Collective Drift? Knowles will be bringing back her travel, chat and dine series in February and a trip to Barbados in June.

For more information, visit collectivedrift.com.

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