Jenice Armstrong: Standing by her man . . . and Michael Vick's fiancée Kijafa Frink is standing up for herself, too

Michael Vick (left) proposed to Frink (right) at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia last December.
Michael Vick (left) proposed to Frink (right) at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia last December.
Posted: September 28, 2010

KIJAFA FRINK is no Roxi McNabb.

By that I mean that the fiancee of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick actually seems to like giving interviews and doesn't shy away from talking with reporters, unlike the publicity-averse McNabb. We met Friday afternoon for lunch at Devon Seafood Grill on Rittenhouse Square and it felt like I was meeting up with a girlfriend - except I had my notebook out and was scribbling away. We even ordered the same thing, a crab cake appetizer and salad.

Frink, 29, is bubbly and outgoing. When I admired the chain fringe bracelet she was wearing, Frink promptly offered to give it to me - after the Daily News photographer took her photo with it on, of course. (No, I didn't take it.) The bracelet is from her new costume-jewelry line, PnkElephant.com, which is trendy and surprisingly affordable. A cage-style ring that covered nearly the entire length of Frink's finger costs only $14 and that bracelet that my eyes locked on goes for just $12.

Frink has big plans for the jewelry line, a partnership she entered into last spring following a chance meeting with its owner, Blair Sandlin. "Real Housewives of New York City" star Bethenny Frankel wears one of the PnkElephant.com necklaces in a recent issue of OK! magazine.

Frink also is developing a reality TV show - she'll be the executive producer. She was mum on the details of that project, which are being hammered out.

The show and the jewelry line are components of her master plan to make a name for herself that is distinct and separate from being the fiancee of one of the most-talked- about men in Philadelphia.

"I want to use it and take advantage of it," Frink said of all the attention being focused on Vick, who Sunday led the Eagles to a 28-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The city's experiencing a surge of Vick fever, and if Frink's husband-to-be continues winning, it could make his controversial start with the Eagles just a distant memory. And while I may have been an early doubter, I know I'm ready to let it go.

It has been a wild ride. When calls started coming into the home Frink shares with Vick from Eagles coach Andy Reid's secretary and later NFL security last week, Frink couldn't help but get nervous. "She [Reid's secretary] was, like, 'Andy Reid really needs to talk with him . . . ' I'm like, 'Did he do something? What did he do?' "

Vick later called Frink and shared the news that he'd been named starting quarterback, and he shared his mixed emotions about stepping into the role.

"He didn't want to take the spotlight from Kevin [Kolb]. He accepted his role as a backup quarterback and he was grateful that the Eagles . . . gave him a chance when not too many other NFL teams would offer him a chance."

Frink met Vick in 2001 at a Hampton, Va., restaurant when he was a football star at Virginia Tech. Frink, who graduated from Philadelphia's Bodine High School in 1998, was a business major at Hampton University.

They quickly became a couple. Although the young lovebirds split up for a time, Frink was waiting when Vick was released from prison after serving nearly two years for bankrolling a dogfighting operation. For his role in that crime, the NFL suspended Vick without pay and he later filed for bankruptcy protection before getting signed by the Eagles in 2009.

Frink, who has two daughters with Vick, is planning a wedding for about 200 guests, but wouldn't share the details, other than to say it will be during the off season.

"I feel like that's something we can at least keep private in our lives, hopefully."

Being private isn't first nature for the future Mrs. Vick. "That's the one thing Mike told me, 'Stay close to the people you were with before.' I didn't always take his advice. I guess he knows a little bit more about fame than I do."

Frink takes in stride the autograph-signing and hand-shaking her fiance does while they are out in public. (They're regulars at the Best Buy on Columbus Boulevard.) Recently, she surprised some female shoppers when they spotted her at the affordable, young-adult Forever 21 chain.

"[The shopper] said, 'I can't believe you are in Forever 21,' " Frink recalled. "I'm like, 'Yeah, I want the same things that you want for the same price.' "

Frink looks forward to the day that she can give back to her hometown in a big way. One idea she's tossing around is some kind of project that would help her connect with inner-city girls, possibly by helping them get the things they need to attend their proms.

"I would love to be out in the community. I have a lot of ideas and people I want to help," she said. "I would love to play a part in helping a child just to get a better education."

But for now, there's PnkElephant.com to run with partner Blair Sandlin.

"She went to fashion school, so she knows a lot that I don't know. I may have a lot of contacts, but she knows the business. She teaches me every day.

"We want to do men's jewelry, handbags, nail polish and a children's line," Frink continued. "Michael was in a situation two years ago where our lifestyle changed drastically. Who knows? He could go out and break his leg and I may have to be on the one who has to provide for my family.

"I always had goals and aspirations. My mom was a schoolteacher. So she was really big on education. 'You are going to school. You are going to get good grades.' She said, 'You are going to have your own.' "

"I would love for . . . people to know me just as Kijafa. Just to know that I am my own person. I have my own goals. I have a business. You never want to be in anybody's shadow. It's like being a twin. Twins want their own identity."

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