Kijafa Speaks: Michael Vick, Their Struggles and Her Success
I first became aware of Kijafa (kee-afa) Frank from The Michael Vick Project. I can remember her talking about her life with Michael Vick during his trial and eventual prison term. Even then, I didn’t know what to think of her, so when I heard about her PNK Elephant event at the Louis Vuitton store at Lennox Mall in Atlanta, I jumped at the opportunity to meet her.
Upon walking in the store I was overwhelmed by excess hair and makeup. Many women in the store were dawning platform stilettos, tight dresses, and plenty of eyelashes. So amongst the football wives and, uh—hmmm, I guess I call the others, ‘girlfriends’ I was quickly reminded the football world where nothing is as it seems. Still, everyone was polite so, I indulged in a glass of champagne and moved deeper into the crowd, now more eager to talk to the woman beside the NFL’s newest hundred-million-dollar man.
Kijafa’s engagement ring
Upon first glance, Kijafa is more like the girl-next-door type. She’s got big, warm eyes, and her wide smile compliments her soft voice. Despite her glammed-up-girlfriends which included Tameka Raymond and Lisa Wu Hartwell, Kijafa was elegantly dressed in a sleek black outfit, her PNK Elephant earrings and her huge engagement ring. She was extremely approachable, almost overwhelmed by the response of people who came out in support.
Tameka Raymond and Kijafa
I then remembered my interview with Michael Vick at Super Bowl XLV. I asked him what he was going to do for Kijafa for Valentine’s Day. His answer was as funny as it was shocking and I couldn’t wait to tell her:
JGS: We interviewed Mike at the Super Bowl and asked him what he was going to do for you for Valentine’s Day. He said that this year, he was changing the game—Valentine’s was for the men!
KF: (laughing) He lied. He took me to Vegas. He’s a sweetheart.
JGS: Tell us about jewelry and accessory line, PNK Elephant.
KF: Well, actually I have a [business] partner. Her name is Blair. She had the business before I came into it, and she allowed me to become a partner which I’m so grateful for because we have so much success with PNK Elephant. We opened the store in May and it’s doing phenomenal. It’s in Philadelphia, 504 South Street. We’re actually looking for stores right now, and Atlanta is near and dear to my heart so I’m trying to persuade her that we should open a store here.
JGS: How would you describe the style of PNK Elephant?
KF: Very trendy. Very fashionable. Very affordable—that’s the key word, very, very affordable. A lot of women meet me and think that everything I have on costs a million dollars—false! My earrings I have on right now cost twelve dollars. Most of our stuff is under twenty dollars. It’s very rare we’d have a piece over forty dollars.
JGS: How are you handling this attention with Michael Vick? He can’t stay out of the news and with the reality show and the all the things that have happened, what does it feel like now?
KF: Well, I’ve known Mike for ten years, so when I met him, his life was extremely busy. His life was crazy, and we hit a big storm in our lives, and I appreciate that storm in our life because it taught us a lot of things. It showed us a lot of things. I appreciate a lot more now in life. At one point, I expected things. I was so used to it and accustomed to it, I didn’t appreciate it—and I’m sure it was the same thing with him. But now I appreciate all the things we do. Everywhere we go. All the things we have I appreciate it one-hundred percent more. It was unfortunate, but I’m glad we went through it. It made us closer.
JGS: After this experience with Mike, what life lessons or advice would you give women?
KF: I would tell women of any social class, save your money. You can’t depend on somebody to take care of you. You have to go out and get your own. Always save your money. It was a time where I was buying a lot, overdoing it with shoes, clothes, purses and trips. When I had kids, I began to save my money and the money that I saved actually took care of me while Mike was in prison.
JGS: Wow. So you and Mike have been together for—
KF: January will be ten years.
JGS: How did you meet?
KF: I met Michael in Virginia. I went to college in his home town. I was at a nightclub one night. I just turned twenty one and he was there. He was looking at me. (laughing)
JGS: What was your first date?
KF: He took me to Hawaii. I felt like a princess. He’s a really nice, down-to-earth guy, even before everything happened. I’m glad I’m a part of his life. That’s my baby. I love my baby.
JGS: OK. You’ve got bling and a ring. What’s going on?
KF: (laughing) I’m a horrible bride! I’ve been planning this wedding and I’ve been dragging my feet.
JGS: So for everybody thinking he’s not going to marry you—
KF: (laughing) It’s me! I’ve just been doing so much with my life. I really appreciate the change that’s come into our lives and it’s brought a lot of opportunities to us. I’m new to doing all of this. I don’t know if I should say “celebrity thing” but it’s new to me. It came different. I didn’t really know how to handle it all at first, but I’m grasping a hold of it now, and I AM planning the wedding. Finally. (laughing)
Check out Kijafa’s Pink Elephant accessories at www.pnkelephant.com
Kijafa and JGS co-owner Angela Davis