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2021 Black HERStory In the Making: Week 4

I’m writing this last post on my birthday which is pretty exciting. I was born during Black History Month to the surprise of my mother and doctors. I still say they had her due date wrong. *shrug* I’m a little sad that the month of highlighting fierce, intelligent, savvy, beautiful Black women is coming to a close. But lucky for all of us, Black History Month is every month. Black History is made every day. I still have some other women that I’ll be sharing throughout the year and I’ll be doing this exact series again in 2022. For now, let’s celebrate these incredible women.

  1. Nerdia Nadia – Podcaster, Blogger, and Model
  2. Jo Noble – Designer & Entrepreneur
  3. Lauren Chanel Holley – Model & Virtual Event Professional
  4. Merryck Tann-Dickerson – Entrepreneur
  5. Taylor McPherson – Entrepreneur
  6. Kelsey Lemons – Founder & CEO
  7. Mackenzie Tudor – Founder
  8. Miselta Ihekwoaba – Student & Graphic Designer

Nerdia Nadia (@nerdia.nadia)

Podcaster, Blogger, and Model

I want to be as clear as possible, but I’ve also learned how to make more people comfortable with sharing their own story.

When I say Detroit – what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? The Lions? The Pistons? Well, now the first thing you should think of is Nadia – a model and influencer based out of Detroit. With dope ass pink hair, she hosts the Human Blacks Podcast.

Tell me more about Human Blacks podcast!. What’s your elevator pitch?

“We are 2 peculiarly similar black women nerds that love art, sneakers & blackness, almost equally that just click. So much so that we decided to share it with the world, but along with sharing ourselves we are sharing numerous black experiences and black knowledge curated specifically for a black audience.

Through our first 30 episodes, we’ve been extremely blessed to share so many black humans that do things we weren’t aware existed until our adulthood like black doctors, black statiticians, black cannabis business owners, black researchers, black artists, & so many more.

We record with a black podcast network and we are sponsored by black businesses so that we are not just talking about it, but being all the way about it.

Hearing these perspectives not only gives representation, but we aim even higher by getting to know their personal black human story so that anyone listening can relate and laugh along. We are breaking down barriers of what it means to be human and to be black by the literal living examples we connect with.”

What does success look like to you?

“Success, for me, is monetary stability and confidence in my own voice. as long as my true voice is being expressed and I have a few dollars for a vacation, I’m happy.”

How has being a podcast co-host changed you?

“Being a podcast host has only increased my communication and listening habits. I want to be as clear as possible, but I’ve also learned how to make more people comfortable with sharing their own story.

It’s been trial and error, definitely, but monitoring my impulses to make sure I’m listening first and then adding something valuable. I’m also much more aware of the numerous dualities within folx through our varied guests.

There’s something to learn from everyone, just have to listen intentionally.”

Diversify your listening by adding Human Blacks to your podcast rotation!


Jo Noble (@jodavid_designstudio)

Designer & Entrepreneur, Jo David Designs
jo noble

I’d heard so many stories of fashion design hopefuls move to the city and be burned out working for big brands and never getting credit for their contributions. I didn’t mind ‘staying small.’

You may not know this about me, but I actually really enjoy fashion. When I was a kid, I would grab my pad of paper and come up with little designs because I wanted to be a fashion designer (and a comedienne). Now, how many Black designers can you name? How about Black women? Well, I’m here to introduce you to Jo Noble, the designer of Jo David Fashion.

How would you describe your line?

“We’re in the process of rebranding but the feeling and aesthetic will be elevated but still holds true. The Jo David woman is always in focus. My pieces are colorful, tailored, and appropriate for many occasions. I like to worn with separates so you can mix multiple items to fit your style.”

What inspired you to start Jo David Design Studio? Why include children’s wear for luxury clothing?

“I can’t say I’ve ‘always had a passion for fashion’ but I can say it’s been in the genes. My grandmother was a seamstress as many women of her time and my family were, my mother can sew and both my parents I considered very fashionable.

I had a sewing machine when I was younger but didn’t get back into seeing until going to my high fashion show and finding out my school offered a fashion program.

I eventually graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. My family is from New Jersey so I’d never been in ‘awe’ of moving to New York straight out of college like most of my classmates. I’m born and raised in Atlanta and even then noticed the growth and potential Atlanta had for a luxury apparel company from a ‘local.’

My parents are entrepreneurs and that’s the only life I knew. I wanted to at least build my own brand. I’d heard so many stories of fashion design hopefuls move to the city and be burned out working for big brands and never getting credit for their contributions. I didn’t mind ‘staying small.’

Beside me the smaller things sometimes make the biggest impact. I didn’t add childrenswear to the mix until two years.

I noticed lots of patterns and textures in your line. How can someone new to wearing bold prints incorporate them into their wardrobe?

“I listen to customer feedback! It’s been harder for me to make this new collection because I haven’t been able to touch and feel the fabrics. But I LOVE prints. I feel like just one print in your closet will always make the look stand out.

I’ve toned down having so many prints with my new collection, so you know that one has to pop! However, I feel that anyone looking at the new scope of things will see the bold aesthetic of the clothing will come through with colors chosen, new silhouettes and just a little more skin.

For those who want to take a step into my pattern world I sat start simple. Despite my studio full of all the pieces I’ve sewn in a multitude of colors, my favorite outfits is a white t-shirt and jeans.

Even in the best suits and luxury clothes, a white tee and jeans really shows your style. Amp up that look and throw on a patterned coat or blazer. It’s a small adjustment that can be toned done or taken off and still be super comfortable in your look of the day.”

Okay, you can’t tell me that little queen above isn’t the most adorable kid you’ve seen today? All of the looks you see here were made by Jo. Go follow her and check out her designs.


Lauren Chanel Holley (@itslaurenchanel)

Model & Virtual Event Professional

As a natural 4c/z woman when my hair is not relaxed, I am excited to highlight Lauren Holley, a natural model and virtual events professional.

What is your favorite type of modeling work and why?

“I love doing natural hair and beauty shoots. It allows me to show my 4b/4c hair, and also get upfront and personal for the camera. My ultimate goal is to pursue commercial modeling full time.”

What does the day in the life of a virtual event planner look like?

I would consider myself more of a guide, than a planner. I work for a virtual event platform. As an employee for the virtual venue, it is my responsibility to teach client how to use the platform.

I teach them how to upload their content, and how to design their website. My day consists of meetings with clients to ensure they’ve set up their website how they intended.

I provide them with the tools to ensure their event exceeds their goals. I am also answering emails from clients about any questions they have about setting up their website.

What is your dream event to plan? 

Professionally, the Essence Festival. I know that there’s a lot of moving parts but I feel like it’s one of the best events that celebrates Black culture. Personally, my wedding (one day – with the help of a wedding planner).

Virtual events are NOT going away any time soon. And even after the pandemic officially passes, there will always be a market for virtual events. Make sure you remember Lauren Holley – whether it’s as a model or your next event planner.


Merryck Tann-Dickerson (@exhaleproductions)

Founder

Our goal is to encourage marginalized communities to take their mental health more seriously whether that be through conventional tactics such as therapy or less traditional forms such as yoga and meditation.

Meet Merryck, the founder of Exhale Productions. Her company focuses on mental health in multicultural communities and specializes in events and digital content.

What inspired you to start Exhale Productions?

“In a time of true chaos all over the world, I felt like my hometown of Los Angeles needed a moment to tak step back and breathe. There were protests all over the city, highly violent and disturbing content dominating social media, and a whole pandemic that’s left small businesses, creatives and a large population of the city without work and income. A group of friends and I got together and decided that on Juneteenth, we’d organize a picnic and safe space for people to come and truly relax.”

Tell me more!

“Our Juneteenth Exhale lunch featured an outdoor art gallery featuring artwork from people of color, a series of mediation, yoga and work out classes, refreshments provided by small business and DIY crafts. All we asked is that guests bring a blanket to sit on socially distanced and a protest sign to sit on the hill as a form of peaceful protest. For our first event we had roughly 150 attendees.”

Describe a unique challenge people from marginalized backgrounds experience with regards to mental health?

“Our goal is to encourage marginalized communities to take their mental health more seriously whether that be through conventional tactics such as therapy or less traditional forms such as yoga and meditation. Exhale Productions encourages these communities to do exactly what’s in the name, Exhale.”

As you know, I’m a big advocate for mental health. I believe there’s something out there for everyone. With Exhale Productions, more people are able to find what works for them. Check them out and see how you can improve your mental health.


Taylor McPherson (@TayTay_Fierce)

Entrepreneur

Sustainability is important to me because I care about what’s happening to the planet. When you look at the fact about what things like factory farming do to the country, and how much plastic glitter is at the bottom of the ocean it’s depressing.

Fun fact – I met Taylor through a Coachella Facebook Group looking for a place to stay that weekend. Low and behold, all of the people in the house were AWESOME and I’ve been able to stay in touch with many of them. Even the two from New Zealand. Taylor recently broke 10k followers on TikTok as she discusses fun topics like being a woman and my personal fav dating! She’s the Creator of Current Events LLC where she’s had bookings at SUR during L.A. Pride (hey hey #PumpRules friends), BottleRock, and many other events. Learn more about Taylor and the Sustainable Sparkle Bar now.

Why is sustainability so important to you?

“Sustainability is important to me because I care about what’s happening to the planet. When you look at the fact about what things like factor farming do to the country, and how much plastic glitter is at the bottom of the ocean it’s depressing. I try to do my part and make an impact and not contribute to those numbers in every way I can.”

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced being a womxn, Black-owned business that is often overlooked or minimized by others?

“A big challenge that I face with my business since I’ve been boot strapping it since day 1, is funding. Gaining enough of a profit to be able to responsibly invest back into your business. And then having the education of knowing where to put that funding.”

What does being a successful Black woman look like for you?

“It looks like being financially stable. It looks like having a solid business foundation to stand on that I can scale and recreate in different locations. It looks like being a role model for women everywhere, not just black women. Letting little girls know that they don’t have to grow out of the glitter, they can stay sparkly forever!”

We each need to do our part in helping keep the planet inhabitable so if you’re looking to do that AND add a little sparkle to your life, then check out the Sustainable Sparkle Bar. “The Sustainable Sparkle Bar is a biodegradable glitter company located in West Hollywood, California. The glitter is plant-based and designed to biodegrade in water over time. We specialize in experiential marketing and branding for corporations, brands and individuals at events and music festivals. Our body art tattoo can be transformed into company logo to turn party guests into walking advertisements that sparkle and catch the light all over the room.”


Kelsey Lemons (@sheinthemaking)

Founder & CEO

It can be incredibly difficult having a vision of what you hope to achieve without a road map, but when the stars begin to align, and you see the fruits of your labor, it’s all worth it.

Friends, Kelsey Lemons is one HIGHLY accomplished Black woman. Not only does she run one business, she has THREE. You need to know Kelsey Lemons.

You’re an incredibly accomplished woman. How do you find time to balance your small business and two other ventures?

“Thank you so much! In all honesty, I’m constantly learning every single day. That’s truly what my brand, She, In The Making is all about. Leaning into that process and allowing ourselves the space to learn, grow, and show love to ourselves along the way.

This is my year of working smarter, not harder, so I’ve been investing time and resources into the backend of things, to make running my business as smooth and seamless as possible.

A few things that seriously help me are Honeybook for client management, Flodesk for seamless email campaigns, & Notion for organizing my business and my entire life. If you’re obsessed with organizational systems like me, I actually have some Notion templates I know you’ll love. 

These platforms help me stay so much more organized, streamlined, and set up for success whenever I have a meeting, need to send an invoice, a new client reaches out, or a new member joins Vision In The Making.”

Why is it important for women of color to have digital and IRL communities like Vision in the Making?

“I think so often we come across women empowerment communities but they’re either heavily lacking in diversity or don’t provide consistent accountability. I found myself with so many amazing friends running after their dreams, but without a dedicated community that was keeping me accountable. After searching and searching for this, I realized that I should create one myself.”

How has being a small business owner changed you?

“It has completely changed my perspective on everything. I have to believe in myself and my vision. I have to be my biggest cheerleader and know who my people are to remind me of my ability when I’m in a rough patch. And I am always reminding myself that if it’s something I would invest time and resources into learning to do for a company I was working for, then it’s something I should invest in for my own company. It can be incredibly difficult having a vision of what you hope to achieve without a road map, but when the stars begin to align, and you see the fruits of your labor, it’s all worth it.”

I don’t know about you but after reading about Kelsey, I’m fired up to continue on my purpose. Be sure you follow Kelsey and Vision in the Making!


Mackenzie Tudor (@thetribewoc)

Founder

We need more support, resources and programming that is created for and by WOC. This is where The Tribe comes in. We are committed to ending the pay and opportunity gap for WOC.

The gender pay gap is real and it’s even worse if you’re a WOC. I’m not going to go into details on that today (stay tuned) but what we will do is talk about a woman who is trying to provide the necessary resources for WOC through digital spaces. Meet Mackenzie Tudor.

Why are WOC-oriented digital spaces such as The Tribe necessary?

“It’s 2021 and WOC are only 4% of C-Level positions. We make significantly less than white men and even white women. Existing career and social networks have failed WOC.  We need more support, resources and programming that is created for and by WOC. This is where The Tribe comes in. We are committed to ending the pay and opportunity gap for WOC. We are going to do it by giving WOC the resources and support they need to succeed.”

What was the most difficult part of starting and launching The Tribe?

“I stepped away from my career as a big law lawyer. It was hard to give up the security and prestige, particularly, when there were already so few Black women in my position. I took a risk to do something I was passionate about and it was definitely scary. I also had to prove to the start-up world that The Tribe was needed. There are so few WOC in the industry that the need is not always as apparent to them.”

How has being a founder changed you for the better?

“As a solo founder, it’s all on me. I am the driver, creator and the advocate. For good and for bad, every piece of The Tribe feels very personal. It was definitely an adjustment to go from the corporate world to being a solo founder. It has forced me to be flexible, learn new skills and to believe in myself. But my favorite part is that I get to work with WOC all the time. As someone that was used to being the only one in the room or one of few, it is so refreshing and nice to connect with so many amazing WOC. Furthermore, I get to be my authentic self in these rooms instead of trying to fit into an existing mold.”

Online digital spaces can be cruel. Let’s change that and join ones that are positive like The Tribe.


Miselta Ihekwoaba (@miseltai)

Student. Model, and Graphic Designer

I would love the opportunity to complete further research and work to further address the many inequalities in access to sport & harmful sporting environments, including anti-black racism, gender gaps, & settler-colonialism.

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning an up-and-coming young woman named Miselta. She’s based in Canada where she’s studying Kinesiology! Miselta is also a model & graphic designer.

What types of designs do you enjoy creating?

“When I started off designing, I really enjoyed creating primarily sport-related graphics because I enjoyed capturing and interpreting the intensity of various moments through tools, symbols, and images. I was also extremely connected to a network through my favourite soccer team at the time and designing was another way to bond with fellow fans.

Over the years, I grew to enjoy every opportunity for storytelling through art, so I gravitated towards creating logos and other branding items to help friends and family represent themselves and their goals. Now, I’d say I enjoy creating designs that tell stories and get a lot of inspiration from nature, poetry, architecture, and retro-minimalism.”

You’re currently studying kinesiology. What are your goals after graduation as a kinesiology major?

“Going into my degree, I was very adamant on subsequently studying Physiotherapy and becoming an Athletic Therapist, for either the Canadian or Nigerian Women’s National Soccer Teams – specifically. Progressing into my degree found me a lot more interested in the Humanities aspects of kinesiology, something that I was fortunate enough to have ample access to at my university.

My personal experiences in a quite colonized area of study in a predominantly white institute led me to advocacy pretty quickly, as I yet again found with other students of underrepresented minorities that our safety was rarely upheld in educational settings. Thankfully, this has allowed me to explore and fall in love with sport sociology and sociocultural aspects of sport, especially in a Canadian context.

I would love the opportunity to complete further research and work to further address the many inequalities in access to sport & harmful sporting environments, including anti-black racism, gender gaps, & settler-colonialism.

With my Spanish minor, I also hope for the opportunity to do this work in various countries and help even more people.”

What does success look like to you?

“For me, success looks like having the capacity to create and work to my heart’s content while making an impactful positive change in the lives of others. Getting to the intentions of a lot of my work, I’m finding that I just want to make life a lot easier for black womxn, creatives, and under-represented minorities in spaces where I experienced everything but ease, and where, traditionally, folks don’t want us to have ease. I bring a unique range of experiences from existing in the body that I have for 22 years, and I want to use these, along with the lessons and skills I’ve learned, to positively influence the lives of others. I want to spread peace, joy, and carefree confidence.”

Our young women need our support so make sure you follow Miselta! She’s destined to do great things.


This concludes Black HERSTory for 2021. Next month is women’s history month. Make sure you subscribe to HBIC here and follow me on Instagram where I’ll be doing interviews with women to celebrate how far we’ve come and discuss work we can do now to improve the future.

Sign-up to get HBIC Podcast updates!

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2021 Black HERStory in the Making: Week 3

I can’t believe we’re already more than half way through the month of February. Where is the time going? If you haven’t had a chance to read Week 1 & Week 2, don’t worry, there’s still time. I mean, they’ll be there forever right — it is the internet. Get ready to meet another fierce set of seven Black women who are doing the damn thing.

  1. Kim Kyne – Artist & Designer
  2. Amirah Jones – Poet
  3. Tanesha Graham – Small Business Owner & Herbalist
  4. Jazmine Bunch – Community Organizer
  5. Taylor West – Social Media Strategist & Boutique Owner
  6. Yeny Ferreras – Photographer & Graphic Designer
  7. Jael Umerah-Makelemi – Illustrator & Art Director

Kim Kyne (@kimkyne)

Artist & Designer

It’s my way of processing life and communicating ideas I can’t find words to express.

Get to know this artist with a love for pushing boundaries, Kim Kyne.

What inspires your art?

“My art is inspired by my experiences and emotions. It’s my way of processing life and communicating ideas I can’t find words to express.”

Where can we follow you / find your work?

Please follow me on Instagram (@Kimkyne)! To purchase prints of my work you can find me on Society 6.

Describe a piece of art that changed you and why?

“Carrie Mae Weems’ ‘Mirror Mirror’ and her Four Women series.

The way she addresses race in her work is cathartic. It’s taught me that I can not only bear inequity, but also own and transmute it.”

Art is often a way for many of us to express ourselves. For some, that’s in the way of words. For others, it might be music. For Kim, it’s visual. Please be sure you give her a follow and pick up a new piece for your home.


Amirah Jones (@lookinthemirah)

Poet

I thought about how important it was as part of my healing process to get my story out and tell the world how multifaceted anxiety and sadness can look like but that there definitely is a beautiful, bright light on the other side.

When you hear the word poet, what’s the first image that comes to your mind? If you’re reading this in 2021, there’a good chance you’re thinking of Amanda Gorman (leggggend!). Now, I’d like to introduce you to another beautiful, Black woman who brings to light issues with her words, Amirah Jones.

How did “The Stages of Me: Poems of Growth & Metamorphasis” come to fruition?

“I’m 28 and have been writing poetry since I was in middle school.

When I first moved to NYC back in 2015, I was writing a lot and would go to open mics every once in a while at NuYorican down in Lower Eastside. Fast forward to the middle of 2018, I had someone special in my life who had been there for years, me and him were really close, and when things got really sour between us I was completely crushed.

I also had been dealing with a lot of anxiety and depression before this due to things with my job at the time, feeling completely unhappy with where I was in my life, so that on top of having my feelings hurt was just a bad combination.

In the midst of pulling myself back together, I started thinking about all the poems I had piled up throughout this crazy time in my life. Also, I love butterflies and I always felt I connected so much with them because in their life they transform into a butterfly, they’re so carefree and flowing in the air as they please.

I am also an Air sign, Aquarius, and I also move at the beat of my own drum. As I started to feel better and make healthy changes in my life like becoming pescatarian then vegetarian, journaling, not suppressing my feelings, I thought about how important it was as part of my healing process to get my story out and tell the world how multifaceted anxiety and sadness can look like but that there definitely is a beautiful, bright light on the other side.

The following year, on January 22, 2019 I released ‘The Stages of Me: Poems of Growth & Metamorphosis’!”

How can the arts be a benefit to more people?

“The arts is such an amazing aspect of life because they are so many avenues you can dive down! From writing, to painting and singing, they are numerous ways for people to express themselves creatively.

I love writing and it’s such a big part of my life but I’m also a freelance wardrobe stylist, so my mind is constantly coming up with ideas for shoots and ways to style different outfits.

The way the arts can be implemented into your life is so simple because just adding something like journaling to your everyday life can help drastically change your mood and the trajectory of our life.” 

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in publishing your book?

“Always be authentically yourself is one of the biggest things I’ve learned from publishing my book. My whole entire life my family had raised me to be someone who is honest and naturally comfortable in my own skin.

In ‘The Stages of Me: Poems of Growth & Metamorphosis,’ I’m being super vulnerable and just letting all my feelings out in the table. That’s something I wasn’t use to doing because even though I was raised one way, the older I got the more I saw people not take my feelings and thoughts into considerate, which in turn caused me to just hide them altogether.

I have had so many people tell me how much they’ve been able to resonate with my words because they are there or have been there before. If I wasn’t being authentically myself when I wrote the book, it wouldn’t have been a true reflection of who I am and essentially I would have been telling someone else’s story. It is perfectly okay and actually super beautiful to be vulnerable. There’s no need to hold back your feelings, however you feel speak on it!”

Wow. What an amazing outlook on life. Amirah brings forth some of the experiences we can all relate to in “The Stages of Me: Poems of Growth & Metamorphosis.” You can purchase a copy for only $13 from her website here.


Tanesha Graham (@tonics_teasbyt)

Small Business Owner & Herbalist

Tonics & Teas by T seeks to use tea and herbalism to connect people with the herbs and plants that can help them find emotional, physical and spiritual balance and wholeness.

In my time working from home, I’ve started drinking more tea. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cup of coffee but I’ve also been working on improving my health. With that, I’ve started drinking more tea. Tanesha Graham is more than just a tea expert – she’s an herbalist. So for those of you looking to improve your health from the inside out, then she’s got options for you.

There’s been a rise in tea drinking in the states – why do you think more people are drinking tea?

“I think it’s due to a number of reasons. As we gain new neighbors and get to know our communities better, there’s been a sharing and exchange of cultures.  

Tea is a mainstay in many cultures and varying ways. With travel being limited and periodic lockdowns in place due to COVID-19, many please went online to find ways to pass the time and I think many have come across tea, and it’s many uses and variations, and taken to it.”

What are some unknown benefits to drinking tea?

Well, for me and many others, there is a ritual, a certain process, that we follow when we make a cup or pot of tea.  When my anxiety kicks in and I’m frazzled and shiftless, I’ve found that the process of making tea calms me.

From the initial process of choosing one of my already blended mixes or making one especially for that cup, picking my tea cup or mug, which tea strainer I’ll use, to carefully getting my water to the right temperature for my specific blend choice, all of that requires attention to detail.  

Making tea can bring you comfort and peace.

Tonics by T, the elevator pitch

Tonics & Teas by T seeks to use tea and herbalism to connect people with the herbs and plants that can help them find emotional, physical and spiritual balance and wholeness.

During your daily life, don’t forget to find moments to take time for yourself. Get some teas from Tonics by T and add a new, self-care ritual to your day.


Jazmine Bunch (@TravsWorldProject)

Community Organizer

After experiencing a tragedy that is all too common in America, Jazmine decided to make sure her brother’s name continues to live on. In the aftermath of losing her brother to violence, Jazmine started Trav’s World to help those around her. While still new, there so much to her story and Travis’ that needs to be shared.

I think the largest barriers to preventing gun violence is understanding some of the true root causes: poverty, safety and security, a lack of resources, systemic racism.

Tell us a little about your brother.

Travis was 26 years old. He had a son, Malachi, who turned 3 years old just weeks after his death. He was a father. A brother. An uncle. A son.

But above all, he was a person.

He was intelligent, loving, joyful, and a hustler. He graduated high school in 2012 and before passing, he held two jobs as a welder and an employee at John Deere. He was a country boy at heart, so he loved fishing and riding bikes. He was a true daredevil, and he surely took life for a joy ride whenever he could.

He personified courage and life so well that we carried burdens he was too carefree to hold on to. I loved him for his fearlessness.

I pray that when he left here, although we couldn’t be there for him he held onto the strength he always seemed to have. I watched him grow, we grew together. There may have been a few years where I wasn’t there, but for me, he’s always been there.

And 21 years just won’t ever be enough.

What are some of the largest barriers to preventing gun violence that aren’t talked about enough?

I think the largest barriers to preventing gun violence is understanding some of the true root causes: poverty, safety and security, a lack of resources, systemic racism. Understanding that gun violence is a public health issue stemming from systems that don’t offer equal opportunities and resources to people who come from low socio-economic communities, allows opportunities to address the issue through the lens of prevention and rehabilitation rather than criminalization.

How can a financial donation impact Trav’s World projects?

A financial donation would have a huge impact on Trav’s World and the initiatives that we hope to spearhead in my hometown and the surrounding area.

As a home-grown, grassroots, passion-fueled service initiative, aside from a $1500 service-learning grant, everything that we do is based on fundraising and donations.

I recently led a toy drive fundraiser that gathered a little over $1,000 for brand new toys for 16 children, as well as donations of brand new and gently worn sneakers and toys from people in the community.

My goal is to have a fund to support burial and funeral costs for unexpected loss for families who’ve lost a loved one to gun violence. This fund is already being put to use as the community has already suffered a loss of a mother of 3 due to a gun incident.

All other funds would be used for event programming and initiatives, donations, and drives.

Gun violence is an all too real reality for many people. Jazmine’s been able to turn her grief into action to help those around her. Please, sign-up for her next event and follow Trav’s World Project to stay up to date on ways you can donate and help fight gun violence.


Taylor West (@IVEboutique)

Social Media Strategist & Boutique Owner

I think if I really feel happy and acknowledge the blessings God has granted me, than I truly am successful.

Social media has met its match with Taylor West. And while she enjoys finding creative ways to use various platforms, she also has a passion for fashion.

Who are some of your fashion icons?

Some of my fashion icons are Rihanna of course, TheChicNatural, a influencer and blogger, and highlowluxe!

What does success look like to you?

Success to me is when I truly feel fulfilled emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually. I think if I really feel happy and acknowledge the blessings God has granted me, than I truly am successful. 

What are 3 pieces of clothing every woman should own?

For me, I LOVE to layer. So I think everyone should own at least one classic leather jacket that can go with every outfit, a nice, sleek pair of black booties, and one quality pair of jeans that can be dressed up or dressed down.

IVE Boutique is place where you’ll find pieces by the one and only Taylor West. Skip the fast fashion of H&M and shop small.


Yeny Ferreras (@yenystudio)

Success looks like a CEO Latina woman running my own business while being a full-time mom, helping local shops, new business owners, and social media content creators expand their vision fearlessly.

Yeny Ferrars is a Black Latina with multifaceted talents: Adjunct lecturer, mom, photographer, graphic designer, and founder of Yeny Studio.

What is your favorite genre to photograph and why?

“My favorite photography genre is portraits because it allows me to tell someone else’s
unique story from my point of view.”

How does your unique life experience give you perspective in your creative work?

“My unique life experience gives me perspective in my creative work by getting inspiration
from others and being a multitasking queen.

Since I became a newly single mom, my life experience as a content creator has flourished in photography, graphic design, and digital marketing.

For example, every Friday, I have a photoshoot session with my son to showcase
our memories of him growing up on our social media and, for me as a mom, to show all these
photographic memories with him.

At the same time, I was more of a visual content creator, but now I have found a spark in self-care writing through my mommy blog.”

What does success look like to you?

“Success looks like a CEO Latina woman running my own business while being a
full-time mom helping local shops, new business owners, and social media content creators
expand their vision fearlessly.”

For Black History Month, Yeny is doing a special project “Empowering Your Roots” to “homage to the Caribbean tribal communities of Tainos.” Please follow her and learn more about this Black Latina woman.


Jael Umerah-Makelemi (@nubiartuk)

Illustrator & Art Director

The constant suppression of our emotions is something that’s almost imprinted into a lot of us. We’ve seen the women and men within our families do the same, so for a lot of us, it’s second nature.

As you know, I’m a big proponent of taking care of your mental health. If you read my blog There’s a Mindfulness Practice for Everyone, you’ll know that I struggle with Depression and Anxiety. I love seeing how women find ways to not just tackle their mental health, but to also harness it into something positive.

What challenges do you find are unique to Black women seeking self-care?

“The main challenge I found when seeking self-care is actually letting my guard down and being open to being vulnerable. It’s hard for Black women, especially because we’re painted as these powerhouses that don’t experience pain and the only emotion we’re portrayed to express is anger.

The ‘Angry Black Woman’ trope is something that we’re all aware of, but this portrayal of Black women is a way to silence us, weaponize our emotions and use it against us. Many of us carry so much that we constantly feel like we have to hold it in, and the minute we dare to express how we feel, we’re judged for it. The constant suppression of our emotions is something that’s almost imprinted into a lot of us. We’ve seen the women and men within our families do the same, so for a lot of us, it’s second nature. 

Self-care can be so many things and many Black women like myself choose therapy as part of our self-care journey. Many Black women that seek therapy want someone that understands them. It can be difficult to encounter therapists that look like us as there is a lack of diversity within the mental health workforce.

For some Black women, finding a Black female therapist is essential to creating a path towards overall wellness, so not being able to find one can become a really big roadblock in their path to self-care.”

What’s one step everyone can take to improve their mental health today?

“One step that everyone can take to improve their mental health today is to do something for you. We can become so caught up in day-to-day life especially during this difficult time, that we forget to slow down and take care of ourselves. So whatever makes you happy, whether it’s dancing, spending time alone, talking to your loved ones or just binge-watching your favorite shows, do one thing that makes YOU happy!”

What is your favorite piece of art you’ve created and why?As

My favorite piece I’ve created so far is the animated illustration piece I created for Converse. It encompasses what I’m about and what I stand for. It’s also a piece that challenged my creative ability and that’s the type of art I love creating the most.

You can follow Jael and commission work from her – and definitely should. Jael creates art centered around Black women, mental health and self-care. She’s open for commissions and sells her artwork.


There’s only one week left for Black HERStoy 2021 and you definitely don’t want to miss out on reading up the next seven women. Be sure to follow I’m the HBIC so you’ll receive updates when the next post goes live.

March is Women’s History month we’ll be doing a deep dive on verticals where women are shattering the glass ceiling. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram where I’ll be doing Weekly Wednesday chats to celebrate women’s history month.

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2021 Black HERStory In The Making: Week 2

Last week you met 7 wonderful Black Women making HERStory in Week 1. Let’s continue the vibe with these wonderful women who range from business owners to musicians and podcasters.

  1. King Cooley – Hip-Hop Artist & Art Director
  2. Andréa Spearman – Artistic Director & Podcaster
  3. Keisha M. Hooks, J.D. – Founder & Creator
  4. Toyin Omisore – Business Owner
  5. Yodassa Williams – Author
  6. Michelle & Kareemah – Small Business Owners & Co-Founders
  7. Cydney Rhines – Photographer & Illustrator

King Cooley Savant (@kingcooleyofficial)

Hip-Hop Artist & Producer
Photo Credit: Mark Redman

Success, to me, is getting to a place where I’ve worked through the societal-based fears, physical fears, emotional fears and I’m living completely free.

What’s your favorite song you’ve produced?

“I have a song called “Climate Change” that is by far one of my favorite songs. I wrote that song in year one of the Trump Administration and was so disgusted by the systems and processes that those in privilege, power, and media had allowed to empower this Supremacist. It was the fastest song I’ve written so far. The lyrics came so effortlessly. I realized in that moment why protest music is so powerful. And every time I perform it I feel….tall.”

What does success mean to you?

“In this very moment, success to me is freedom – financial freedom, physical freedom, creative freedom. Nina Simone said, ‘freedom is no fear.’

Success, to me, is getting to a place where I’ve worked through the societal-based fears, physical fears, emotional fears and I’m living completely free.”

How have changes to the music industry affected Black artists?

“That’s a really great question! Really great question. I suppose it depends on what changes you’re referring to. Obviously, the music industry has completely shifted from a time where those in power had utterly low-expectations of Black artists to a time where their now copying, commodifying, and templatizing Black artists. If you’re referring to that then, I have a lot of opinions. My main thought is that I believe white industry leaders have created a strategy of commodifying Black culture while deprecating Black creators and as a result, Black artists have become the victims of this sort of Stockholm syndrome.

We want all these White award shows, publishers, and fashion brands to recognize us. We want their awards, their accolades, and their acknowledgment despite their continuous abuse inflicted upon the Black community. The changes that have been made in this industry have perpetuated the idea that Black artists need white approval of their work and the reality is that Black artists ARE the industry. We ARE the culture. And we don’t need any outsider’s validation for our work.”

Being a Black musician in this day and age is a challenge. There are easy ways for you to support! Follow King on Instagram and stream music on Spotify. Hire Black artists and of course PAY them.


Andréa Spearman (@aspearmanandco, @theblacklandscape)

Artistic Director & Podcaster
Photo Credit: Alexandria Spearman

Every person I speak to carries greatness and brilliance at every step of their evolution in their desired industry.

Andréa Spearman is an artistic woman using her talents to help elevate those of others. As the host of her own podcast, The Black Landscape, she has the opportunity to provide nuanced discussions and bring her listeners along for the journey.

What has episode of the Black Landscape podcast are you looking forward to releasing and why?

“If I’m reading this question correctly, it’s asking me which episode am I looking forward to releasing the most? All of them! Every person I speak to carries greatness and brilliance at every step of their evolution in their desired industry. Each conversation not only enlightens the listener but me as well. I ask the questions from research on my part but there’s always going to be a layer or nuance that’s revealed beyond what I know of the person.”

What’s success look like to you?

“Success is enjoying what you do every day. Not necessarily LOVING it every single day, but a general consensus of enjoyment to be working in a field that speaks to your purpose at that moment in time.”

What is a unique struggle Black individuals experience in the Bay Area?

“I think the Bay Area suffers from being celebrated and also hated. We are responsible for so much pop culture phenomena and history yet we are still seen as a “dangerous” region to actually live and reside.

What other place in the world can you go to the beach, the forest and farmland all in one day? Specifically in under 3 hours?

And with me saying that, a large number of Black youth haven’t experienced any square footage outside of Bayview-Hunters Point or Deep East Oakland. Part of the purpose of this series is to show that there are Black people existing in many, many spaces and places.

There are Black people leading yoga in the redwoods and vogueing at the Palace of Fine Arts and playing air hockey next to their desk at Google Headquarters. We are not limited to our own blocks, our own streets that more and more are being gentrified by foreigners who do not appreciate the history and culture of these great cities.

This is my part of taking back that legacy and passing the baton to the next generation.”

Photo Credits: Alexandria Spearman, Serrano

It’s important to listen to Black voices and hear from our lived experiences. You can listen to The Black Landscape podcast on Spotify, Soundcloud, and Anchor.FM. New episodes are released every 2nd and 4th Wednesday.


Keisha M. Hooks, J.D. (@theblackboardtv)

Founder & Creator of theBLACKboardTV

I wanted to create a forum that allows us to exchange ideas and challenge our cultural norms.

While listening is a skill that many of us are actively working to improve, there’s also the skill of hosting and leading important conversations. Keisha M. Hooks is doing the latter with theBLACKboardTV.

What does success mean to you?

“TheBlackboard will be a trusted source for critiques and commentary on Black culture. The goal is for TheBlackboard to have a recognizable impact on the Black community and to stimulate cultural shifts.”

What drew you to holding round table discussions on YouTube?

“I was dissatisfied with the one-dimensional depictions of Black Americans we tend to see in mass media. I also wanted to show Black folks having the conversations we need to have. I firmly believe we should rethink some of our views and values, and I wanted to create a forum that allows us to exchange ideas and challenge our cultural norms.”

What was one of your favorite round tables you’ve hosted?

Can You Be Pro-Black While Dating White? During this episode, we talked about issues that aren’t often discussed publicly, and we interrogated the diverse viewpoints surrounding this issue.”

BLACKboard is a place where we can all learn and hear more in-depth discussions rather than those that take place on social media. Make sure you like and subscribe to BLACKboard on YouTube.


Toyin Omisore (@roamloud)

Owner, Roam Loud Athlesiure

The world can be ugly to us, but here at Roam Loud, Black women will always be loved, represented and respected.

What do HuffPost, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar all have in common? They’ve featured the up-and-coming athlesiure brand Roam Loud. Today, you get to learn a little more about the Owner, Toyin Omisore.

How would you describe the Roam Loud brand?

“I love to say that Roam Loud is a safe space for Black and Brown women. It’s more than just activewear and athleisure.

It is a platform where we women can be showcased authentically.  When we post quotes, we are speaking to Black women. Our manifesto visual (located on the bottom of the homepage of our website), is an ode to Black Women, the colors we select for our sets we are asking ourselves, will this compliment the skin of Black women. The world can be ugly to us, but here at Roam Loud, Black women will always be loved, represented and respected.”

What inspired you to start Roam Loud?

“My inspiration behind creating Roam Loud is I wanted to see a brand where I saw myself. When I talk about Roam Loud I am intentional to state that I wanted to unapologetically create a lifestyle where brown skin is at the forefront and not an afterthought. There are so many women, like myself, that value health and wellness in every aspect of their lives. So why not a brand that supports that journey through premium activewear and athleisure pieces where we are seen and celebrated.”

Tell me about the largest struggle you’ve experienced going into the athleisure space as a Black Woman x Founder.

My largest struggle is an ongoing one, and that is wearing so many hats for my business. I currently have a lean team, and Roam Loud is a young brand that still requires my presence and attention. Managing inventory, product development, social media, content creation, inquiries, and customer service are just a few responsibilities that I am managing on a daily basis and at times can feel overwhelming. Thankfully I have a solid tribe that is supportive and encouraging that keeps me going.

If I could count the amount of times someone has asked me about where to purchase a sports bra, I’d be rich. Now, I’m going to tell you to check out Roam Loud and support Black Women-owned businesses.


Yodassa Williams (@yodawill12)

Author

 I have a passion for biographies on inspiring and empowering black women, and wanted to explore the spiritual journey of becoming one’s most powerful self in my writing.

First, let’s all clap for Yodassa Williams for publishing her first book, The Goddess Twins. We did a quick chat on being published and exploring the Afro-Feminist genre.

How would you describe the afro-feminist genre?

“Afro-Feminism centers and embraces the experiences of black women. I feel blessed to have had great examples of strong black women in my life, and in growing into one myself, felt compelled to focus on what I know in my writing. I have always loved fantasy and science fiction, but with exception to Octavia Butler, found the genre saturated with centering whiteness and the patriarchy. I am grateful to the rise of afro-futurism and seeing other authors and creators emerge who center their work on black women’s voices, especially in the fantasy and science fiction genres.”

What was the process like to publish your debut novel?

“The process of publishing my debut novel was quite an adventure! When I finished my manuscript, including several rounds of professional edits and feedback from beta readers, I moved into querying agents.

Around this time, a friend sent me a link to a writing contest. Though it wasn’t an ideal fit, I ended up searching for others and found the She Writes Press STEP Scholarship.

She Writes Press has a strong reputation in the boutique book publishing realm, and the winner of the contest would receive a complete publishing contract. The contest was a fit for my manuscript in genre and word count and so I applied, while continuing to query agents from traditional publishing houses.

Months later, I received an email from She Writes that my manuscript was a top 5 for the contest! And then later, I received notice that my book was selected by their YA imprint, SparkPress, to be published in 2020. I highly recommend authors look into the multitudes of paths to publication, from traditional to self to boutique for what is best for them.”

What inspired you to write The Goddess Twins?

The Goddess Twins is a combination of some of my favorite people, memories and themes melted into a fantasy tale. I have a passion for biographies on inspiring and empowering black women, and wanted to explore the spiritual journey of becoming one’s most powerful self in my writing.

The characters in the novel are modeled after my favorite humans in life, my godfather, cousins, friends and mother figures.

And finally, the biggest inspiration of the book is from 2006. In that year, I spent a month in London with my cousins, and experienced such an adventure in self-confidence that I came back home a stronger and fiercer version of myself.

I have never forgot that time of growth and wonder at my own capabilities. I felt it made an ideal foundation for a book on twins evolving in their black girl magic.”

I love a good sci-fi book and was so excited to meet Yodassa and learn more about the Afro-Feminist genre. The Goddess Twins is a spectacular read for those who like to explore and use their imagination. Be sure to grab a copy and support Yodassa.


Michelle & Kareemah (@soulful.self)

Co-Founders, SoulfulSelf

Starting a business has been a great opportunity to explore the mystery and explore the unknown.

I love a good subscription box. I mean, Stark and I each have our own subscriptions. It’s like a little surprise every month! As self-care is priority #1, I’m so excited to introduce you to Michelle & Kareemah, the co-founders of SoulfulSelf.

How has starting a business changed you?

“Starting a business has been a great opportunity to explore the mystery and explore the unknown. There are endless possibilities of how SoulfulSelf can help our community.”

Subscription boxes are all the rage. What differentiates SoulfulSelf?

“While subscriptions boxes are very popular right now, there are barely any with products solely for Black Women and Women of Color. And there are even less that feature products by Women of Color. SoulfulSelf provides tools for self-love and holistic healing for Women of Color, bringing wellness to the comfort of their homes.”

What does success look like to you?

“Success looks like building community and being of service to Women of Color. We want to hold space for our community to be authentic and to just be. We also want to give exposure to the Women of Color businesses we feature in our boxes.”

Alright ladies, I can definitely say this is the gift that keeps on giving. Go check out SoulfulSelf and get yourself a box of love.


Cydney Rhines (@intocreationstudio)

Photographer & Illustrator

It is making sure that I use my gifts to properly feed those who need encouragement or an anchor of hope, truth and light.

Our final story is that of Cydney Rhines. As an Atlanta-based creative, in a digital world, she’s been able to navigate her way to successfully starting her own company, Into Creation Studios.

When did you start Into Creations?

“My business actually started off as ‘By Cydney Maria’, but I changed it to Into Creation Studios a little over a year ago because I wanted to take myself exclusively out of it (and the name honestly wasn’t that crafty sis lol). While I am the one taking the pictures, it is the vision that God gave me. So after time allowing God to show me what He wanted me to see through this lens and after listening to a sermon on creation in the book of Genesis and how God spoke life ‘into creation,’ I knew that was what I had to name my business.”

What are your favorite things to show through photography?

“People and food! I’ve tried to be consistent with product photography and anything outside of lifestyle/family and food photography and my calling always leads me back to people and good eats lol. I love capturing moments…especially moments with Black women.

It truly is my joy.  I lost my mom when I was twelve and that recovery process has always led me back to making sure that I can capture mothers, daughters, grandmothers and more so that our time is stamped in that moment.

However, even when it comes down to food, it’s comforting to see that I can bring a plate of yummy bites to life for someone to enjoy and for my client to gleam at.”

What does success look like to you?

“This is a tricky question for me because my vision is always changing, but if I had to choose, I’d say success in my eyes looks like service work. It is making sure that I use my gifts to properly feed those who need encouragement or an anchor of hope, truth and light.

It isn’t money, likes, popularity, clever marketing or being booked and busy, it is honestly service work at the core. I love people and I love to see people shine so as long as I have that light within myself to spread beyond borders, I know that I’m doing this ‘success thing’ right.”

If you’re looking for a designer or photographer then check out Cydney! You can see more of her work on her website or follow her on Instagram.

Thank you for tuning in for Week 2 of Black HERStory. Be sure to follow all of these amazing womxn and support their businesses. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family and sign up for notifications for the next series update.

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2021 Black HERStory In the Making: Week 1

It’s officially Black History month and I’m so excited to help you discover Black Women who are doin’ the damn thing.

I’ve reached out to various Black women in different fields from artists, designers, entrepenuers, musicians, writers, and more to help you not only shop Black-owned, but also highlight some of the awesome work taking place all around you.

To kick off the month, here are 7 Black women you should follow – now!

  1. Shenequa Johnson, Graphic Designer & Small Business Owner
  2. Allison Esannason, Eco-Conscious Artist & Small Business Owner
  3. Fairley Lloyd, Writer, Editor, and Activist
  4. Dany Green, Visual Arts Teacher & Artist
  5. Sierra Lewis Johnson, Online Lifestyle Shop Curator & Small Business Owner
  6. Loren Maxine, Non-Profit Producer & Founder
  7. Dana LaVette, On-Trend Jewelry Curator & Small Business Owner

Shenequa Johnson (@sjohnsondesigns, @cadashco)

Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Co-Founder of Cadash & Co

Having a businesses/brand is not only a logo which is why a lot of businesses fail.

Shenequa Johnson is a self-taught designer and illustrator. She’s recently started her own business with her sister (yasssss!) and thoroughly enjoyed the process of going out on her own. She’s available for freelance work and is definitely an artist on the rise.

1. What resources did you use to become a self-taught illustrator?

My father is an artist so I’d say I got my talent from that end. As a kid, I would draw on a daily and create scenes and scenarios for my characters. At first, I dismissed illustrations as I got more into Graphic design but in 2019 I started following a lot of illustrators on Instagram and my love for drawing came back. I brought an iPad and Procreate and the rest was history. To level-up my skills, I took advantage of free classes on Skillshare and watched plenty of YouTube to get more acquainted with digital illustrations.

2. What does the creative process look like for you when you’re building a brand for a client?

“As a creative, I play off of the information that the client gives. When designing a brand, I’ve found that it’s helpful when a client has done research and provides a clear brief of their vision. It starts off with questions, finding out who, what and why. Next the research and figuring out the mood of the brand my last step before the actual designing part – which is the most fun.

It’s important for people to know that having a businesses/brand is not only a logo which is why a lot of businesses fail. They don’t put enough thought into the entire look and feel of the business. They just focus on the pretty logo. Your branding should be cohesive and strategic.”

What’s been the most meaningful project you’ve worked on and why?

The stationary business Cadash & Co which I started with my sister.

2020 was a lot and it really opened my eyes to how quickly things can change. I am grateful to be able to still have a job during this whole thing because many don’t. I wanted to create a business with my sisters so that we can have something of our own to fall back on and eventually turn it info a full-time opportunity. We worked for over 6 months trying to get everything together and it turned out great. We are still very new and trying to grow but I was able design a beautiful planner, something that I’ve been wanting to do for years. This has given me the opportunity to not only have my own products but also have an example to show other businesses who want something similar that I can capable of designing on that scale making it a win for both businesses.

Be sure to follow Shenequa @Sjohnsondesigns, and follow her businesses @cadashco


Allison Esannason (@shopalmarie)

Eco-Conscious Artist, Small Business Owner

Not having money can drastically limit you but it can also limit your ability to have access to certain opportunities.

Allison Esannason is a woman of many artistic trades. From art prints to masks, she’s crafty at making her way through the world. Most important to her craft is sustainability.

What’s been the most meaningful piece of art you’ve created?

“The most meaningful piece I created was my Martian Strike print. I got back into painting during the BLM (Black Lives Matter) protest. I was emotionally distraught and overwhelmed. The first pour I did was that one and it was fulfilling in ways I couldn’t imagine. So on that same day, I made about 4 more pour paintings. That week I created about 8-9 works of art. And after that, I showed one to a friend and she said I should sell it. So I took the necessary steps to do but I felt a moment of imposter syndrome because here I am a fashion designer starting up a business where I sell art. But this is nothing different than what I did in all my years in art programs and during my four years at Parsons. But I realized it was my fear speaking that was getting to me. But that went away after so many people told me they loved my Martian Strike print and they couldn’t wait to see more of my work. That was the full circle moment  I needed to keep me going. Now I’m selling more than just prints, the support is growing, and that makes me so happy.”

Why is sustainability important to you?

“My educational background is in fashion design and during college, I took a class that literally changed my outlook on art and design. I began being more conscious of the materials I used and how the selling of any product can have an impact on our planet. It’s important for any brand, artist, or seller to consider their eco-footprint and the end of life of the products you buy or sell.

For me, some questions I asked myself for each product is Can this item be recycled? And if not What can I do to reduce the eco-footprint of selling this particular item? This way I can always stay true to my beliefs and my goal to always be as eco-conscious as possible and that makes me proud. It’s something I’m not ashamed of I’m able to be extremely transparent with my customers. This is why I created a page on my site that says every item that is used for each product and its packaging.”

What Challenges have you faced as a Black artist?

“For me, it’s always money, exposure, and access. I feel out of the three, money is the biggest challenge. Not having money can drastically limit you but it can also limit your ability to have access to certain opportunities and ability to have your work come across the right people.

But access is also something that has been extremely challenging. Having access to someone who can point me in the right direction or even answer a question is something I haven’t had throughout the process of starting my business.

I’m the first person in my family and friend group to start my own business so I became the person people come to but I don’t have that person yet. So it’s hard figuring it all out on my own especially in the art field which is an extremely competitive industry.”

Martian Strike by Allison Esannason

You can find Allison’s work here. Be sure to give her a follow (@shopalmarie) and help her increase her exposure and access.


Fairley Lloyd (@fairleylloyd)

Writer, Editor, & Activist

Think of it as a learning experience and realize that it may be pointing me in another direction that I needed to go into the first place.

With a BFA in Creative Writing and a certificate in publishing, Fairley Lloyd is a woman to watch. Her words can be found across platforms and media companies. From The Mighty to Thought Catalog, Fairley is skilled with the quill.

What is your favorite genre to write about?

“I love writing personal essays about my experiences in a way I hope people can relate to them. I’ve written about my struggles and embracing of my bisexuality, the resilience of Black women and combating racism, my mental health struggles and triumphs, and just general stories that deal with serious topics but have a hope takeaway from them. I want people to read my stories and see themselves if they feel alone, and to feel some hope that if they aren’t the only ones struggling, that we can all overcome our hurdles together.”

What does success mean to you?

“Success to me means achieving something I set out to do, and that can vary from time to time. Being published, for example, feels like success to me, as was landing my day job that I really wanted. However, I don’t think success is limited to getting a job or publishing or winning anything.

I think success really comes from anywhere in life when you learn something from your experience. When I fail or don’t get what I want, that is success, too, because I choose to think of it as a learning experience and realize that it may be pointing me in another direction that I needed to go into the first place.”

What piece of writing are you most proud of?

“It’s actually a piece I had published just last week! It’s about Anhedonia, a symptom of major depression that makes it hard to enjoy anything in life. It’s always scary talking about my mental health, but it’s something I feel like is important to share with others who are struggling or know someone who is struggling.”

Keep up to date with Fairley’s work by following her on Twitter (@fairleylloyd). You can also see a collection of her work on her personal site here. Be sure to give her a follow as she’s working on publishing her first book! To read her most recent work on Mental Health, check out her recent work on The Mighty “Why Anhedonia Is Such an Insidious Symptom of Depression“.


Dany Green (@danyxart)

Virtual Arts Teacher, Artist

Success is something that regularly changes and is very subjective.

What do you love most about hosting virtual workshops?

“One of my favorite experiences as an Artist is introducing people to the beauty and wonder of mosaics. Part of my personal mission with my creative practice is to broaden people’s ideas of “what art is”. Through my workshops, I help students explore a new art form and flex their creative muscles. The workshop is also very meditative. I know that when my class eventually falls silent that the meditative quality of mosaic-making has taken effect. Most of my students say that the process was relaxing and fun.”

What does success look like to for you?

“Success is a very elusive concept. It’s an ever-evolving thing. Most of the time, I feel successful when my vision matches the physical manifestation. When it comes to my art that means that the art piece was executed exactly to my preference and looks like I imagined it would in my head. Over time, I’ve had pieces that I felt were failures become successful in my eyes after they were praised by someone else. Some people hate my most “successful” pieces and love my ‘failures’. This taught me that success is something that regularly changes and is very subjective.

Tell me about your favorite piece of art you’ve created.

“My favorite piece that I’ve created is Current, a 48 x30 mosaic on wood panel. It’s the first of my wood grain series. A series that I developed by realizing the beauty of the actual substrate. I laid my mirror in the wood grain lines, honoring the natural markings that represent time. This piece changed everything for me. After Current, I committed myself to being an artist as I felt it was my true life path. For me this piece marks the beginning of my journey as an Artist.”

Looking to decorate? Make sure you get a piece of Dany’s art. You can find Dany’s artwork is available for purchase on her website. You can also give her a follow on Instagram to see her new pieces as they are created.


Sierra Lewis Johnson (@neworiginshop)

Online Lifestyle Shop Curator – New Origin Shop

It means having the confidence everyday to show up to work towards my dream and to summon relentlessly the grit, determination, courage and passion to achieve it.

What inspired you to start New Origin Shop?

“My brand started as a means of self expression in 2017. At the time, I had recently relocated to Austin from New York City and I was in my first year of working a really demanding Special Education teaching position. 

For one, I was truly inspired by the change of pace the move to Austin presented in my life, and I was really fascinated with the intentionality of Austin’s ‘bagless’ culture. And secondly, I needed a way to decompress from the physical, emotional, and consistent demand of teaching teenagers. 

I turned to crochet as an outlet. First by crocheting minimal, stylish reusable bag alternatives. Before I knew it, I had so many bags that I chose to open my Etsy shop. 

We look a lot different from our Etsy beginnings. My love for thoughtful and hand-crafted wares does not end with what I can produce though. So as we evolved over time, New Origin Shop became a space created to provide unique and affordable wares to shoppers who are eager to support independent makers and small businesses. I curate from makers, artists and businesses who I absolutely adore.”

What does being a Black Woman-owned business mean to you?

“There’s a duality to being a Black Woman-Owned Business that I feel I exist within. First and foremost I’m a proud first generation business owner excited to share my vision, values, and to build community around the lifestyle and products I love. Personally, I also feel a responsibility to share, uplift and empower other Black-Owned businesses—especially Black-Woman Owned businesses—through my platform. I do this by investing in their brands, by buying their wares, sharing their stories with our community through blog posts/social media, AND fostering positive relationships to navigate all that comes with being creatives and business owners. 

Secondly, there’s added layers to the already uncertainty that often comes with business ownership. I’m often the only Black Woman in many spaces where I exist—especially given the niché market of my business—which can feel empowering but also isolating. I started from scratch, like many Black Woman Owned Business Owners I know so no access to capital, to resources, existing networks, or access to friends/families with small business experience. 

I say all this ultimately to share that being a Black Woman-owned business means everything to me. It means having the confidence everyday to show up to work towards my dream and to summon relentlessly the grit, determination, courage and passion to achieve it.”

What does success mean to you?

“I’m constantly reminding myself that success is not just the final destination, not the achievement of one particular goal.That it occurs in those small moments throughout my journey when I exhibit perseverance, determination and compassion for myself and others. Success is the joy and peace that I feel, knowing that I am doing work that I choose—that I enjoy and find purpose and value within. Success is taking a step forward each day despite my fears and insecurities. It’s also the freedom and independence that I have within my work.

The definition of success will vary greatly depending on who we are and whether we’re speaking about our personal or professional experiences. It’s constantly evolving, but this is what success currently means to me.”

It’s not every day that I get to chat with someone who also has the name Sierra. So next time you’re doing some shopping, make sure you make a purchase from New Origin Shop. Be sure to give @neworiginshop a follow on Instagram to know when new items are available.


Loren Maxine (@loren_maxine)

Producer & Founder of Generations Network Non-Profit

I want to help as many people as I can tell their stories and share their voices and creativity.

Meet Loren Maxine, the Producer & Founder of Generation Networks – a place helping creators nationwide. Whether it’s a podcast or a short film, her company is there to help.

How did you decide to create Generation Networks?

I graduated from the University of Central Florida as a student athlete in the Spring of 2020. Despite a difficult year, I was optimistic about my future. I knew I would either stay in my hometown of New York City, or move to Los Angeles to pursue my career in Television and Film. Stuck in my home in Queens, I began to network. After all, everyone says, it’s all about who you know. I reached out to anyone who would give me advice. After dozens of Zoom calls and phone meetings, I decided to move to Los Angeles where I had a better chance to pursue my passions for production and development in the entertainment industry.

In the midst of the pandemic, I moved cross country to sunny Los Angeles.  There were interviews lined up at a few companies, but many positions were on pause due to the pandemic. After a few months of this same routine, I grew tired of waiting for someone else to give me that foot in the door. I wanted to create an opportunity for myself and for others like me. So, I began reaching out to other young creatives who wanted to network and begin creating their own stories. I received numerous responses of individuals who were in the same predicament or were looking to make some magic together. I also met a few women (Opeyemi, Keausha, & Kyrsten) who went above and beyond reaching out to me, helped me with the foundation of this organization and became the best Board of Directors. This led to the creation of Generation Networks Inc. : a new generation of creatives striving to invent our own opportunities and do what we love.”

Tell me about the most rewarding experience you’ve had with Generation Networks?

“Generation Networks is very new but so far one of the most rewarding experiences has been watching our members listen and learn from executives in the industry during our Speaker Series Meetings. Twice a month we have an industry professional join us on a zoom call to describe their road to success, why they chose this career, and provide advice to our members. At the end we have a Q & A. We have had so many kind and open individuals speak and provide amazing advice and guidance. Another rewarding experience has been shooting our first short film written and directed by one of our members. It is currently in post-production and I am excited to see its success!”

What does success look like to you?

“To me, success is doing what you love and being proud of the work you have done. It is finding your purpose in life and your calling, answering it, and doing it to the best of your ability. This industry has so many definitions of success. People measure it with awards, who they know, or the amount of money being made. If you truly love what you do, every story that you tell big or small is considered a win. Personally, I want to help as many people as I can tell their stories and share their voices and creativity. Success is creating your own door when all other doors have been closed, and bringing others through that door with you. I look forward to more wins and success with the amazing members of Generation Networks.”

If you’re reading this, then I know you’re always looking for ways to support and help others. Donate to Generation Networks today to help fund the dreams of creators. Donate here. Remember, no donation is ever too small. And, don’t forget to follow Loren on social!


Dana LaVette (@shopthesilvertint)

Small Business Owner & On-Trend Jewelry Curator of The Silver Tint

I’m hoping to use fashion jewelry as a way to empower women and help them with their confidence.

Who doesn’t love finding a piece that brings you pure happiness? That’s exactly why you need to know Dana, the founder and owner of The Silver Tint. She’s here to help bring more joy to your life with jewelry.

About the brand:

“I had been thinking of starting an accessories company for so long. Having worked in the fashion and e-commerce space for almost 10 years, I knew I wanted it to be an online business. I’ve always had a love for accessories and how they could transform your outfit. I was laid off at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and decided to take the time to make my dream a reality. The inspiration for my brand comes from the poem Don’t Quit. There is a line that reads ‘The silver tint of the clouds of doubt…’. This line has always inspired me to find the silver lining in any situation.”

What are your goals for The Silver Tint?

I’m hoping to use fashion jewelry as a way to empower women and help them with their confidence. The right pair of earrings can boost your confidence to nail that interview or presentation, or even shoot your shot! Accessories have just always been my bright spot in any situation. If I’m feeling down, putting on a cute piece of jewelry can always enhance my mood. I hope the pieces that I’ve curated with The Silver Tint have that same effect on my customers.


I’ve since gotten back into the 9-5 world, but I still have goals for The Silver Tint Accessories in the years to come. For the future of my business, I hope to expand to other accessories offerings (handbags, contemporary fine jewelry, etc.) and work to offer custom and exclusive pieces.”

Why you should shop at The Silver Tint.

“The Silver Tint Accessories is an online destination for curated on trend fashion jewelry. The right accessory can transform not only your look but your mood as well. The Silver Tint hopes to be like your BFF helping you find that right accessory for the moment. Our quality styles are carefully curated with you in mind. We want everyone wearing our pieces to feel confident and inspired, while looking good. Whether you’re looking for a statement piece or something for every day, we got you sis! Remember, your outfit isn’t on point until your accessories are!”

Friends, get your empowerment on and go do a little retail therapy. I mean, who doesn’t love spending a little something on themself here and there? You can see all of her new curated pieces online here. Of course, go give her store a follow!


Don’t miss out on more Black Stories

Don’t forget to subscribe to I’m the HBIC and get updates on more Black stories for Black History Month.

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There’s a Mindfulness Practice for Everyone

Have you ever thought, “I wish I would have started sooner,” on something? I know I’ve had this thought plenty of times. From workouts, to dieting, to even starting this blog. But, we can’t change the past.

As someone who lives with Depression and Anxiety while also seeing a therapist, I can admit that I’m often my own worst enemy. I wouldn’t say that I *live* inside of my own head; I used to *thrive* there. And not in a good way.

Yes to therapy

I tried therapy in 2013 and let’s just say, it could not have gone any worse. After a terrible break-up from being cheated on it exacerbated some of my darkest thoughts. Luckily, I had great insurance at the time and was able to seek professional help from a licensed professional.

I left that session feeling worse than I did going into it originally.

It took six years before I finally tried therapy again. I lucked out this time and found a therapist who fits me much better. I still speak with her by phone on occasion because I truly believe in therapy and speaking with licensed professionals.

Start therapy when things are going well. It’s much less of a mental lift and will give you the room to “date” therapists until you find a right match.

Even if you don’t think you need therapy for yourself, it’s a great way to speak with someone about those around you — and find better ways to interact with the world.

Grade-A Mess

When I embarked on my journey to mental wellness in October 2019, I gobbled up plenty of self-help books, podcasts, and anything to dig me out of the pitch black hole I was in.

Purchase this from your local book store!

One of the books that I read during this period was You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Star Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. Y’all, I ate it up. It was exactly the book I needed when I was at my lowest low to help me pick myself up and see the pinprick of light in the tunnel.

Jen goes through various ways that you can find light within yourself. From affirmations to meditation. This message came at the same time I was deep in therapy. My therapist mentioned starting a mindfulness practice. And we even had a meditation & mindfulness lunch & learn at work.

The Universe was clearly trying to tell me something and I thought, why the hell not. What do I have to lose?

What even is “Mindfulness?”

In the modern day and Western culture, mindfulness has…a wrap. And let’s just say it’s not necessarily met with a ton of positivity. This is likely because it’s been capitalized on and mixed with toxic positivity. Oof.

In short, mindfulness is harnessing awareness and presence in the moment.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Mindful.org

Considering the state of the world, our constant connection to everything with social media, and a 24 Hour News cycle that rarely seems to bring anything positive, how the hell is one supposed to be “mindful?”

Mindfulness is a practice

It takes time. The hardest part for me has been truly accepting that mindfulness takes practice. And a lot of it.

I’m not someone who does well with emotions. One of the many things I’ve had to work through (and still am) is accepting vulnerability is strength. I’m someone who tries to hide their hurt or sadness.

I also don’t generally do well with expressing myself well with body language when I’m experiencing a negative emotion. I can be saying all the right things but my body language gives away everything my words don’t.

Let’s just say – my emotions wear me. I’ve always wanted to fix all of this but I didn’t know how.

*Mindfulness has entered the chat*

A non-linear journey

I can say I started my mindfulness journey by simply picking up the book to figure my shit out. Or at least try to. Then, I found a therapist where I was able to start finding the words for my emotions and how I behaving (or not).

Next came journaling. I started to write in a journal at night as a way to better process what’s happening inside me and around me. It also gave me fodder for when I was seeing my therapist weekly. Yes, I was in therapy weekly for several months. I’m not ashamed of that.

After journaling came the affirmations. There were moments in the day when I’d have to stop myself and say an affirmation. It was here that I recognized I was starting to be aware of my emotions before they took control of me.

Last but not least, I started meditating.

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

I’m not going to lie, sitting and doing nothing is not easy for me. I started with two minute meditations because that was all I could handle. I’ve slowly worked my way up to 15 minutes at a time. But I can see the direct benefits of my various forms of mindfulness practice at play every single day.

Your Practice Is Yours Alone

When people hear the word mindfulness, they often think of meditation and sitting for long periods of time. However, that’s not the only way to practice being mindful. Here are a few ways you can start practicing mindfulness:

1. Write in a Journal

Journals are pretty damn amazing.

Journaling is a perfectly great way to take a moment for yourself. I like to spend a few minutes before bed writing what happened during the day, what I loved, what I didn’t like, and my own feelings.

There are many types of journals depending upon your goals. I personally prefer a blank page so i can freely write what comes to mind. This is the one thing I do almost daily.

One thing I’ve learned in my journaling is how to be better at forgiving myself. There are days that I’m too tired to write anything. Yah know, that’s okay. I just pick it up the next day.

2. Read, Write, and Say Affirmations

A nice little affirmation just for you!

Affirmations. I’m sure just reading that has a few you rolling your eyes. And I don’t blame you. I too used to roll my eyes so far back into my head, you’d see all white. However, when I reached my lowest of lows, I figured why the hell not.

So, every day, I woke up and wrote down an affirmation. I’d say it a few times over. Before I knew it, I’d catch myself repeating them while I was walking or in the middle of doing something. I was telling myself an affirmation before I could recognize the emotion I was feeling.

It helped me start to figure out when I was experiencing an emotion that made me feel less than happy.

Oh yes, I use Pinterest to find new ones. I’ll save some in a collection on Instagram. Or if I hear someone say something I like, I’ll write it down.

Affirmations are a way to help shift your mind’s focus and the energy you’re exuding into the world. Give it a try for a week and see what happens.

3. All Hail Meditation

If you use Netflix, then you’ve probably seen the new Headspace Guide to Meditation series. I started my meditation practice in late 2019 with the Headspace app. As a Kaiser Member, I also have free access to the Calm App, but have never used it. Leave a comment if you have used either!

I won’t lie – meditation is hard. Especially when Stark thinks it play time. Sorry bubba.

Meditation is true practice. There are many ways to practice meditation and there’s no one size fits all for this.

If you’re a beginner, then I’d highly suggest trying a guided meditation through an app such as Headspace or Calm or through YouTube. Start with a short period of time such as two minutes and work your way up.

You can do it!

Benefits to a Mindfulness Practice

I asked my social network how many people follow a mindfulness practice and was glad to hear that there’s a large group of people who’ve found a method that works for them. If you’re thinking about starting a form of mindfulness, here are some of the benefits.

  • Increased Emotional Intelligence – being in touch with our emotions helps us better relate to our surroundings and understand our own reactions.
  • Reflection on Your Values – spending time reflecting will help you realize your values and where things are going well vs. what isn’t aligned with your goals.
  • Help Your Heartstudies show that having a mindfulness practice can help fight against heart-related illnesses.
  • Improve Cognition – we can’t fight the aging process but we can help ourselves to live a higher quality of life. Mindfulness practices are a way to keep our brains happy and healthy.
  • Show Yourself Love – look, we spend a significant amount of time helping other people. A mindfulness practice is a way to take a few moments just for yourself. Who doesn’t love that?

With the nightmare that has been America for the last several years, the exacerbation of said problems in the last couple of weeks, mixed with my Dry January – I can definitely say that my mindfulness practice has helped me get through a lot.

Along with therapy, adding a mindfulness practice is something that I wish I would have incorporated in my life a lot sooner.

I’m grateful that it’s available to me at any moment I need and know that it’s all about the pratice. I’ll never be perfect but I can try to improve every single day.

Tools to Help Your Mindfulness Practice

So you’re ready to embark on your mindfulness journey. Here’s a few items I’ve used to help me on my journey:

  1. Headspace App – $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year
  2. Pinterest Affirmation Quote Search – FREE
  3. Yoga With Adrienne – FREE
  4. 30 Day Mindset Cleanse – $7 (Black Woman-Owned)
  5. Passion Planner – $35 (use code ALEXANDRAR10 for 10% off)
  6. Happiness Planner – Varies by product

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Words Have Power

I’ve taken a few days to process the events of the week. Originally, my post for this week was going to be on the benefits of meditation with a check in on how my 2021 diet is going – then – January 6, 2021 happened.

I have to say, it’s getting to be harder and harder to live through another historical event, in real-time, on social media. Because I refuse to say that person’s name, we’ll refer to them as Fortee Five from here on out.

As many others, I was glued to my devices watching D.C. be stormed by White Supremacists. Bombs be placed not only at a place of business, but near homes, parks, and schools. I, a Black woman, saw videos of the Confederate flag in the United States capitol. Watch a Black man be chased by a mob of White Supremacists.

This was not white privilege – it was white power on full display. For the entire world to see.

It only took this and *gestures wildly* everything else from the FIVE years (be real with yourself – this started before the 2016 election) before the person at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was finally removed from the platforms he used to incite violence, spread misinformation/fake news, and attack women, people of color, and those who were not able-bodied to be deplatformed. And I then had to sit and watch people call this censorship?

WRONG.

Be Impeccable with Your Word

At Trifecta, we have a quarterly book club to foster continued learning. This quarter’s book is The Four Agreements. Oddly enough, I started reading right as everything was unfolding. The first agreement – Be impeccable with your word.

In the chapter, Ruiz uses Adolf Hitler as an example for why words matter.

Take the example of Hitler: He sent out all those seeds of fear, and they grew very strong and beautifully achieved massive destruction. Seeing the awesome power of the word, we must understand what power comes out of our mouths. One fear or doubt planted in our mind can create an endless drama of events. One word is like a spell, and humans use the word like black magicians, thoughtlessly putting spells on each other

Miguel Angel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

The words we use have the ability to uplift someone or cut them down. They have the ability to spark action or inaction. It’s something we often take for granted.

Have you ever noticed how people tend to agree with a leader if they speak at a meeting? Or how the dynamics of the group change when a senior member attends a meeting. There’s a myriad of reasons for this and one is that there are power dynamics at play. When a leader speaks, people will often agree with them or doubt that the information they posses is critical to a decision. Thus, people will tend to keep their ideas or information to themselves.

The words coming from a person in a position of power carry more weight. Period.

Let’s take this concept and apply it to the highest elected officials in the United States Government – starting with Fortee Five.

This individual speaks and people listen. They listen intently. The take the words feel motivated to act because said person is in a position of power. Over the last five years they have said things like, “Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by.” They also claimed, “there were very fine people on both sides,” in response to Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. They have said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” in response to Black Lives Matter protestors.

These words embolden and show support for some of America’s original sins. They enable white supremacy. They legitimize the actions of some of the very worst people within the United States.

Deplatforming Is Not Censorship

Let me say that one more time: Deplatforming is not censorship.

Now that you’ve read that twice – let’s talk about this more.

Fortee Five was removed from various platforms because his words have power. That power has lead to people taking horrific actions towards others, the deaths of at least 5 people this week, bombs being left to attempt to cause further harm, and that’s just the beginning.

Let the gravity of the most recent events sit with you for a moment.

Can you imagine what these individuals would have done if they would have reached actual sitting members of Congress? The fact that we may have witnesses live executions? In our country. Or a bomb leveling city blocks and killing innocent people?

You cannot be a person whose words have power, chose to light a fire, and walk away. It’s a privilege to be able to use a platform and when you consistently, egregiously break the rules, then you are to be removed. Milo, Steve Banon, and others have been removed and they are JUST fine.

Lisa Kudrow’s skit in Death to 2020 exemplifies this perfectly.

You’re struggling with a loss power

Now let’s talk about the deep down reason why people think this is censorship. There’s a few reasons why you’re possibly struggling with this or calling it censorship.

These are PRIVATE companies who have Terms of Service that we agree to following in order to use their service. The product of these companies are WORDS. Fortee Five and his followers have weaponized their product. While it’s taken far too long for the tech companies to take real action (unlike with ISIS and other extremist groups), they have finally started to crack down after witnessing the horrific events at the United States capitol on January 6, 2021.

They do not want to held liable and yah know what – I get that.

These individuals and that leader have violated the terms of services thus they have the right and the POWER to deny access to their platforms. Plain and simple.

What does this mean to you? You’re finally witnessing a white person in a position of HIGH power lose some of that. Deep down – that’s scary to you because whether you realize it or not, that’s a crack in the status quo. White people have been the beneficiaries of these platforms and generally do not see the same repercussions as POC do on said platforms.

As a Black woman – I am constantly fighting for power and access to it. Hell, it’s partially why I’ve decided to start my own blog, In the hopes of helping other women. Rather than constantly trying to bring a chair to a table I’m not welcome at or talked over, I’m making my own.

Yes, tech companies have too much power.

Look, this isn’t and either or situation. I can sit here and say Fortee Five, QAnon, and Parler folks can and should be deplatformed while I also believe tech companies have too much power. This part of the battle isn’t new.

The secondary product to our words is our data. Tech companies have unparalleled access to information about us that we sign away in the Terms of Service we blindly click accept on each and every time we sign-up for a “free” product or service. There needs to be better accountability with these platforms and some decentralization.

It’s okay to admit that these platforms have the ability to kick someone off or remove an entire group simply because they say so. The CEO of Cloudflare said as much when he made the decision to deplatform the Daily Stormer in 2017.

So what can you do? Personally – follow Mozilla and support the work they’re doing to keep the internet a safe and healthy place.

For those who don’t know, Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit company that works on specific issues such as decentralization of the internet, helping improve access to the internet around the world, and making sure that people have access to it.

Two simple actions you can take right now:

Donate to the Mozilla Foundation
Your donation to the Mozilla Foundation will help them continue to fight against Big Tech while fighting for your right to privacy. They also provide grants and opportunities to groups and individuals to find innovative ways to manage things like cyberbullying, access to information, and fighting fake news. Donate here.

Download and Use Firefox
Look, I’m writing in this Firefox right now. Firefox is the browser created by Mozilla and is open source. The profits from the company go back into helping the Foundation and you’ll be fighting against Big Tech. Download now.

Where to go from here

Look, Black people know this isn’t our fight. White people, this is yours. And it’s been time for you to do the work. Part of that means understanding and recognizing the different between privilege and power. It means having those conversations with your racist uncle or mom. It means passing the mic. Do the research on what you’re voting for. LISTEN to marginalized groups and actually believe us when we speak.

And I beg you to remember – your words have power.

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Are There Benefits to Dry January? Let’s See.

Alcohol
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Alcohol. It’s something we have an interesting fascination (okay, relationship) with as a society.

Recently, Chrissy Teigan opened up that she’s decided to quit drinking alcohol. In and Instagram story, Teigan wrote, “One month ago, on my birthday, I got this book from my doctor and friend. I was done with making an ass of myself in front of people (I’m still embarrassed), tired of day drinking and feeling like s— by 6, not being able to sleep. I have been sober ever since and even if you can’t see yourself doing it or just plain don’t want to, it is still an incredible read.”

In the story was a photo of the book Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed With Alcohol.

So Dry January? No Alcohol 30-Day Challenge? Sober October? I started thinking about doing my own challenge consisting of no alcohol.

Are you considering doing a Dry January, Sober October, or a No Drinking Challenge of sorts? I am! I did a poll on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to find out if people were looking to participate in a Dry January.

Instagram Dry January Poll Results 45% yes 55% No
@im_theHBIC Instagram Poll Results
Twitter Dry January Poll Results 31% yes 52% No 17% answers please
@im_theHBIC Twitter Poll Resulsts

After the year of 2020 – I *get* why some folks are hard no. But this year, I thought I’d take a stab at participating in Dry January.

Whoop It Up!

As a Whoop user, I’m all about their data. Luckily, they have LOTS of data available for me to measure the affects of alcohol on my body (and its performance).

For those unfamiliar with Whoop, it’s a wrist worn strap that measures your strain, recovery, and sleep. Or as they say on Talking Elite Fitness “The Big Three.”

Whoop home interface

Strain

Whoop Strain Score
My Whoop strain score from December 28, 2020

Strain equates to how much stress you’ve put your body under for the day. Remember stress is not only physical like working out or having a job where you frequently move such as a construction worker but it’s also related to emotional stress. Or emotional stress – such as when the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in.

For the Dry January / No alcohol challenge, I’ll measure how my strain score fluctuates.

Recovery

Whoop recovery score image
My Whoop recovery score from December 28, 2020

Ever wake up and wonder – how hard should I train today? Or maybe you’re someone who feels tired but knows they got plenty of sleep? The Whoop’s recovery score will help you understand how well your body has bounced back from the day before.

“Whoop calculates how recovered your body is by measuring changes in your HRV, RHR, and duration of sleep.”

Alcohol generally has an affect on the body’s ability to recover. It’s why many professional athletes limit the amount of alcohol they consumer while they are in need to perform. For the month long, dry January / no alcohol challenge, I’m hoping to see improved recovery scores (and few ones in the red)

Sleep

Whoop sleep score
My Whoop sleep score from December 28, 2020

Ahhhh. The most critical element that many of us skip out on – quality sleep. I am definitely someone who could do better at improving their sleep hygiene. Since the Whoop can be charged while being worn, it’s a great way to track your sleep and sleep quality.

Doing this Dry January / sober challenge I’m hoping that I can see and improvement in my sleep quality. Sleep hygiene will happen when I’m back in the office.

Alcohol & Performance — or Lack Thereof

Each morning I wake up and fill out the daily survey as it relates to my previous day and night. There’s a question on alcohol and you can fill in how many drinks you had and when your last drink was.

My December was — interesting. I definitely consumed quite a few drinks – especially as the holidays happened and I was at home more often due to the shelter-in-place in my state.

My December 2020 Whoop Alcohol Survey Data

Over the last 90 Day, I responded Yes to having a drink 20 times. And let’s also just say that I was not seeing peak performance during those 90 days. My HRV (heart rate variability) tends to drop when I have alcohol. My Resting Heart Rate also shoots up when I respond Yes to alcohol and I lose 17 minutes of sleep, on average. OOF.

So I’ve decided to embark on a month long sober challenge. Before jumping into the challenge, I wanted to know what are the benefits of not drinking besides the things I’ll track in my Whoop.

Benefits of Dry January

1. Decrease your risk of disease

Stethoscope
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

I come from a family with a host of chronic illnesses and cancers. You name it, I can probably confirm someone in my family has (had) it. From heart disease, to fatty liver, from Lupus to Diabetes. There are a whole host of medical struggles that run in my family. So cutting out alcohol for a month is probably a great idea since it can decrease my risk of diseases.

New Scientist ran a study in 2013 which showed a significant drop of blood glucose and liver fat in people who participated in Dry January. So if you’re someone who has a family history that includes chronic illness, then participating in a sober month or no alcohol challenge may be a great idea to help improve your health!

2. Hello youthful glow!

man smiling in mirror with tattoos
Photo by 13on on Unsplash

Alcohol and good skin generally do not go together. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to poor skin – and I don’t just mean acne. You’ll notice your pores are larger and you’re prone to more breakouts. If you’re like me and have skin issues like dermatitis, the stress on your body from alcohol can lead to flare-ups.

I don’t know about you but I’d prefer to find ways to keep those as bay.

Skipping alcohol will help improve the quality of your skin and its elasticity. So the next time you skip that drink, your skin will thank you.

3. Weight loss

Are alcohol calories truly empty? Not exactly. A calorie is simply a unit of energy so technically they can’t be empty. In fact, alcohol is a macro all on it’s own. It’s just one that we typically don’t count when we are looking at counting calories or macros for weight loss or gain.

Since alcohol constitutes calories, by removing the extra calories from our day then we are opening ourselves up to potential weight loss. And if you’re anything like me, then when you’re drinking you get the munchies. I might have a couple glasses of wine along with a charcuterie board and a slice of pizza. Before I know it, that’s several hundred extra calories. Over time, these extra calories can lead to weight gain or simply not allowing you to achieve the goals you’re working so hard for.

+ Woman smiling

Hi, I’m Sierra

Holy shit. I’m actually doing this. Well….here we go.

Woman smiling
Oh hi. It’s me, Sierra.

So I guess this is where I start writing about me and why I’m doing this. But honestly, I’m going to pass on that. There’s an About Me page and if that’s what you’d like to know, then feel free to read it there.

Something I know – people don’t read. So I’d rather not waste your time.

It’s 2021 and I’m officially ready to do this.

Last year was a decade. If there’s anything it taught me was, I need to believe in myself a hell of a lot more than I do.

Peace out 2020. What’s up 2021.

Last year I finally started going to therapy. I’ve always said that I believe everyone should be in therapy. The U.S. Healthcare system is an absolute pile of trash.

How I finally got access to a therapist is truthfully pretty awful and I’ll share more about that another day. But for now, I’ll focus on the fact that I finally started taking care of my mental health.

Thanks to one of my colleague’s I also started meditating and read a Essential Spirituality. Thank you Kiah. Then the pandemic struck.

Stark and I were forced inside and unable to go out and do things. It left me with plenty of time to think about who I am, what I’ll tolerate, and what I want. So 2021 is the year I go for the things I want.

What’s first?

Well, first for me is the 90 Day Transformation Challenge. I’ve truthfully never made it a full 90 days dieting. But, this time I’m committed. Maybe it’s so I’ll have regular content maybe it’s for other reasons. But stay tuned as I document my full transformation over the next 90 days.

The Challenge starts on January 11th. Every Sunday, I’ll be bringing you an update on where I’m at in the challenge. Make sure you subscribe to find out what’s going on and how I’m progressing.

Keep in touch

Look, I’m a normal, everyday person just like you. I’ll keep you in the know on more than just weight loss because my goal is to help you THRIVE. Not maintain. Not be a good capitalist. But to live a life you’re happy with and proud of – more days than not.

Let me know if there’s topics you’d like to see covered. Guests you’d like me to interview. Or hey – if I’m wrong about something. That’s okay. I’m human and people make mistakes.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. The YouTube and Podcast will launch later this year.