Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 6

Today’s featured entrepreneur grabbed life by the horns and kicked it in the gut.  She didn’t allow a setback, something that would devastate most people, defeat her.  She has taken the art of being a woman, being confidant, and being a go-getter work for her…and for others.

Shanel Cooper-Sykes has been a lifelong entrepreneur.  Her first business that truly prospered was SCS Media Publishing, which was started in 2009 and still exists today.  Her highly acclaimed book, Stilettos in the Kitchen, was first published as an e-book in May of 2009.  (Might I add she began getting orders for the book before it was even finished.)  The first edition printing was done in August of that same year and is almost sold out.  Shanel’s book, which is a mix of recipes, financial advice, make-up tips, and so much more, was inspired by her mentor Les Brown.  After moving to New York, she became depressed.  She would cook and stay in the kitchen, but she stopped speaking to people and became a hermit.  After reconnecting with her mentor, he told her that in order for her to help herself, she was going to have to help others.  That is how her book was born. 

Her book has now grown to Stiletto University, which will open for enrollment during the Summer of 2011.  This school will consist of extraordinary women who will be taught by Shanel in a weekly on-line course.  This will allow women from all over to experience the knowledge of Shanel first-hand.  There will be activities and homework that the ladies will need to complete as well as participating in community service.  With Stiletto University, Shanel hopes to create a sorority of women who are educated, independent, and empowered women who will be recognizable to all just by the way they carry themselves. 

I appreciate Shanel for allowing me the opportunity to interview her.  It was a pleasure to speak with her.  If you want to know more about Shanel, you must go to her site here.   Everyone can learn a thing or two from this extraordinary and amazing woman.  I might cook in some stilettos this weekend! 😉  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

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Today’s Black History Month fact is about Harriet E. Wilson.  Wilson is credited as being the first female African-American novelist.  Her novel “Our Nig” was first published in the United States in 1859 and was rediscovered in 1982 by professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 5

Photographer Extraordanaire Jerome Pearson

The gentleman I’m highlighting today is multi-talented and is quickly rising to the top of his game.  With just a camera and a dream, this guy has turned a love for art into something great. 

Jerome Pearson of J Pearson Photography is a photographer and media journalist.  Based in Atlanta, GA, Jerome started his business in June of 2010.  In less than 8 months time, Jerome has been an official photographer for the 2010 BET Awards, 2010 Soul Train Awards, 2010 Sean John Fashion Show, the Trey Songz and Monica Tour, Usher Raymond’s annual “New Start” Award ceremony, Keri Hilson’s album release event, and the 2011 Trumpet Awards.   At the tender age of 5, Jerome began drawing and painting.  This hobby followed him into his collegiate years, where he advanced to drawing and painting on clothes.  His artistic ability was apparent to everyone, including his big brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., who gave him the nickname “Krayola”.  After Jerome established himself, he decided “to purchase a camera and create beautiful portraits with a lens.” 

Fellow photographers that Jerome looks up to are Colin Plush Myers of Orangeburg, SC,  Dominic McKelvey of Charleston, SC, and Keith Cephus, who is the main person that is responsible for Jerome becoming a photographer.  (You can check out Keith’s work at http://www.keithcephus.com/.)  Jerome has stated “he (Keith) pretty much shared info with me such as what type of equipment to purchase and software to use.”  Jerome’s dream shoot would be a destination wedding on “an exotic beach somewhere in Costa Rica, the Caribbean, or Mexico, or just a beach setting where the water is actually blue and the sand is white.”   When asked who some of his models have been, Jerome shared the following- “Mainly my beautiful wife Jennifer-she was my very first model. I have also had sessions with Miss Korea, Keri Hilson, Roscoe Dash, Pastor Troy, B.O.B., and Verse Simmonds.”  Jerome would love to do a session with Lisa Wu Hartwell “just for the simple fact that I admire her hustle, ambition, and drive; she’s also a beautiful model inside and out. My wife and I are currently working on getting her on the cover of “Mood” magazine, which is my wife’s fashion magazine that focuses on fashion and entertainment in Atlanta, GA.”  While there are currently no plans for Jerome to do photography full-time, he’s content doing this on a part-time basis, until maybe he retires from his full-time job with the Federal government. 

Jerome states he likes Lisa Hartwell’s ambition and hustle, but I can’t help but to admire his as well.  This man is on the move and continues to make things happen for himself and his business.  If you’re interested in booking Jerome for a session, you can find him on Twitter at @Photo_J or on the web at http://www.jpearsonphotography.com/.  I want to thank Jerome for agreeing to be interviewed.  And I need to get on the good foot and schedule my photo shoot!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

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Today’s Black History Month fact:

Moneta Sleet, Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1969.  He was the first African American man to win a Pulitzer and the first African American to win the prize for Journalism.  The photo that afforded him this honor is well-known to us all; it’s the touching photo of Coretta Scott King holding her youngest daughter, Bernice, at the funeral of her husband Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 4

Ms. Johnson

I met this young lady via Twitter (a great example of social media at its finest!).  Turns out we had a ton of mutual friends in common, and we both attended the same great university!  I can honestly say this girl makes me laugh and has brought to my life so much fun, joy, and amazing experiences!   So without further adieu, please read up on my girl Dominique Johnson of Uniquely Dynamic Enterprises.

Elle: Where are you based?

Dominique: We are based in Chicago. We have corresponding offices in Miami and are opening another location in Atlanta later this year.

Elle: How long have you been in business?

Dominique: We have been in business since 2005. However, the company became my main focus in 2009, when I left my corporate job.

Elle: How did you get started?

Dominique:  I love telling this story. When I was in college, at the prestigious Florida A & M University, I was interning for a law firm and working for the governor’s office. Long story short, I started doing side events. In order to be in compliance with my law school goals, I knew I needed to establish myself as a business entity. I asked the owner of the law firm if he would assist me, and his exact words were, “You can read can’t you?”.  So I went about the diligent task of incorporating myself. In the long run I received a letter from the IRS and realized that I had set up my business structure wrong. So after spending the time and resources of fixing my mistakes, I began to wonder how many small business owners or potential entrepreneurs had done the same thing or the whole process just discouraged them? So in 2005, I started what was then Uniquely Dynamic Enterprises. We are now The UDE Group.

Elle: What can clients expect from Uniquely Dynamic?

Dominique: My clients can expect that their individual needs will be custom tailored to our services. We understand that people’s dreams or freedom from Corporate America, passions, and interests should not be ignored, nor lumped into one group. So we consult with each of our clients and develop a program for them to establish, reestablish, or just reinvent their company, brand, or ideas.

Elle: Where do you see yourself and your business in 5-10 years?

Dominique: As far as The UDE Group is concerned, we would like to have 6 additional offices, each one responsible for the North, South, East, and West regions, and the other two based over seas. I would like for us to be involved in various industries to sustain residual income. All in all, we just hope to be the launching pad for several companies and to look back and say we had a hand in their development.

Elle: What is next for Uniquely Dynamic?

Dominique: The UDE Group is doing a lot of expanding this year. Last year we changed our name from Uniquely Dynamic Enterprises to The UDE Group. We purchased a promotional company that supplies promotional products in any facet for companies and events and such. In the first quarter of this year we are opening a franchise in Chicago. Due to the exceptional work our client felt we did, they gave us the exclusive rights to the Chicago market. We are very excited about this and all other projects that we are working on this year.  We will have opened 4 locations of the franchise two years apart from each other after this April. We are also apart of a charity foundation called Beyond The Game, www.beyondtgame.com. The sole purpose of the organization is to build a school, care point, and clinic in Swaziland, Africa. We will be going back this April to begin laying the foundation for the school.

Elle: What else would you like to share?

Dominique: I, of course, would like to do some shameless plugs for my most exciting clients of 2011 thus far. Since the beginning of this year, we have signed with Alter Ego Heels, a high end couture shoe line established by DaShawn Baker, also a graduate of FAMU. We are in the process of reestablishing and launching a nationwide campaign for a DC native, Julie Edwards and her company Color and Soul Cosmetics. She makes custom mineral makeup and face care products for women of every color, www.colorandsoul.com. We are launching another DC based company called Self Prescribed Shades, a high end boutique shades line. Back to my heart of the community, we are working with another DC based organization called Bradford Media Group, who is hosting an organized boxing event in August on behalf of their charity foundation.

I am very thankful for you granting this opportunity.

And I am thankful to Dominique for allowing me to feature her on this blog.  If you or someone you know is starting a business, or if they are already a business owner and are looking to expand, I highly suggest you support her.  (Visit the site at www.uniquelydynamic.com.)  As you can see, UDE is expanding, so they will be able to assist you with all of your business needs.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

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Today’s Black History Month Fact:

Sarah Breedlove made her fortune by creating hair care products for women of color.  She also established a school to teach hair culturists, opened her own manufacturing company, and is credited with being the first American female millionaire.  You may know her as Madame C.J. Walker.

Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 3

Today’s featured entrepreneur is no stranger to hard work, helping others, or reaching and setting goals.  Arian Simone serves as the Publisher and Editorial Director of “Fearless” magazine, a new periodical which targets 18-35 year old women who love urban culture.  Arian believes that the word fearless describes our current generation.   She states, “We’re overcoming our fears and reaching our goals.  The name also comes from 2 Timothy 1:7.”  “Fearless” started in digital and print form in the Fall of 2010.  Superstar LaLa Vazquez graced the cover of the Winter 2010 issue.  The upcoming “Love” issue for Spring 2011 will be on newsstands in March and can be purchased at Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores nationwide.  For those of you who are a part of the digital age, the on-line edition can be purchased at www.zinio.com.  When asked who her dream interview would be, Arian pointed out she doesn’t do the interviewing, but “as an obvious choice I would love to have Barack and Michelle (Obama) featured.”  She stated her “vision for ‘Fearless’ is to have a digital circulation in the hundred thousands.  Everything is going digital.  It’s my goal to ensure ‘Fearless’ continues to grow, and I want to ensure this magazine continues to be a part of this large, digital entity.  I want to be part of a community that inspires and connects people who are living fearlessly.”   In 10 years, Arian sees herself retired, enjoying her husband and family and helping her children fulfill their dreams.  To catch select articles, readers can go to www.fearlessmag.com

“Fearless” magazine is our generation’s “Essence”.  They offer style, beauty, advice, and all things related to being a young woman in the 21st century.  Make sure to pick up the next copy on newsstands in March; I know I will!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Month fact:

The first Black magazine published was the “Negro Digest”, which was started in 1942 by John H. Johnson.  Johnson would later create “Jet” and “Ebony” magazines.  Similar to “Reader’s Digest”, the “Negro Digest” was aimed specifically to target positive influences in the Black community.

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Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 2

Aaron Arnold has made music his business, so it’s highly appropriate that the name of his company is MusicIsMyBusiness.  I was able to ask Mr. Arnold some questions about his rising empire a few weeks back.  Below is our interview.

Where are you based?

Atlanta, but I have to generally go to NYC, L.A., and Chicago to get the checks.
 How long have you been in business?

Three years and some change, but this journey begin in 2005.

Tell me a little more about your company. 

MusicIsMyBusiness (MIMB) is one of “America’s Smartest New Companies led by people under 30,” according to Inc Magazine and has also been featured on CNN, GQ.com, Blackenterprise.com, among other sites.  MusicIsMyBusiness is supported by a team of young and innovative individuals who believe that music is the soundtrack to life as illustrated through music’s immense historical and modern influence on the world. These young stars include: Chief Music Technology Officer & Music Director, Jason Murdock and Charles “Chizzy” Stephens, Director of Music and Dominique Brown, COO.  We are a fully integrated music company, which houses three components: 1) MIMB  Music/Publishing (houses artists, producers, DJs); 2) MIMB  Television/Film/Animation; and 3) MIMB Brand Management.  We’ve helped the likes of ESPN, McDonalds, Heineken, The United Nations’ World Food Organization, MTV’s “Making The Band”, Platinum Selling  Artists Danity Kane, Grammy Award Winner Bryan-Michael Cox, and various  agencies in New York, Atlanta and Chicago.  

What made you choose this profession?

The need to be happy in life.  I followed my heart.  My heart chose it for me.

What’s in store for you for 2011? 

Recently, we launched a campaign in conjunction with our first video debut (for “Run it Back”) on MTV at the end of January. We encouraged supporters to view and download the video  and song via iTunes so we can break the top 100.  Heavyweights, like Sean “Diddy” Combs, have already gotten into the act encouraging their fans to support via Twitter. You can view the first music video for “Run-It-Back” on MTV Music, YouTube, and iTunes. 

As you know, I made the sacrifice leaving corporate America to become an unpaid intern and assistant to Sean “Diddy” Combs because I wanted to make records and bring the experience back to music as the next generation of music executives and music companies. So debuting this video is a dream come true!!!This is the first single off of the forthcoming MusicIsMyBusiness’ album titled “The Unknowns” and features three rap-artists including MusicIsMyBusiness-Currency Sound rapper Kash, rock singer Tim Z, and Grammy-nominated violinist, Ashanti.  The video was directed by newcomer Ryan Lightbourn. “Run-It-Back” is an energetic uplifting song that fuses rock with hip hop to deliver a story about overcoming obstacles and proving wrong those who told you that it couldn’t be done.  Tell them to “Run It Back”!  

Who’s your target audience?

Everyone from 8-35 yr olds due to the diverse projects on which we work.

Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years?

Only time will tell.  In the meantime, I just keep working hard and thanking God for this year and what it will bring us as a company.

As you can see, Mr. Arnold and MusicIsMyBusiness are well on their way.  You can find Aaron on Twitter at (MrMIMB) and MIMB on Facebook.  Thanks to Aaron for agreeing to be featured in the Young Entrepreneur Series.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

About The Video and Song:  “Run-It-Back” has already aired via several commercial platforms including ESPN and has been added to several viral mediums and college radio stations.  It’s also been co-signed by several prominent DJs, including celebrity DJ, DJ Irie.  CBS and ESPN producers praised the song for it’s “commercial cross-over appeal”.  “RUN-IT-BACK” is produced by MusicIsMyBusiness top producer Charles “Chizzy” Stephens and executive produced by Aaron Arnold.

Today’s Black History Month fact relates to Harlem circa the early 1900s:

The re-development and gentrification of midtown (New York) pushed many blacks out of the Metropolitan area. As a result, African-Americans began moving to Harlem en masse; between 1900 and 1920 the number of blacks in the New York City neighborhood doubled. By the time the planned subway system and roadways reached Harlem, many of the country’s best and brightest black advocates, artists, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals had situated themselves in Harlem. They brought with them not only the institutions and businesses necessary to support themselves, but a vast array of talents and ambitions. The area soon became known as “the Black Mecca” and “the capital of black America.”

Young Entrepreneurs Series-Take 1

Co-owners of Southern Girl Desserts. Catarah is on the left.

Fellow Southern Girl Catarah Hampshire is co-owner of Southern Girl Desserts, a woman and minority owned bakery based in Los Angeles, CA.   Southern Girl Desserts has been in business since July of 2007.  “We’re a southern inspired dessert company, specializing in cupcakes, cakes, cookies, cake pops and puddin’ + thangs. A bulk of our business is catering and shipping; however we hope to open our store front in the near future so that our customers can stop by for a cupcake and some coffee! “, according to Catarah.  You may have seen Southern Girl Desserts on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and HGTV’s “Antonio Treatment”.  In the Los Angeles area, their sweet potato pie and red velvet cupcakes were named “Best in the City” for two consecutive years.  Most recently, they travelled to Tallahassee, FL and served as an official dessert vendor during homecoming at Florida A&M University, our beloved alma mater.   If you’re in the Southern California Region, you may soon see Southern Girl Desserts on the shelves in your local Costco store, and they will be participating in the Road Show Program.  Catarah stated, “This opportunity will allow us to introduce our desserts to the Costco brand and hopefully expand as a distributor. We’re also looking to expand to a few other southern cities in the next one to two years. So look out!”  The most requested flavor is Red Velvet (my personal favorite).  Other unique and popular flavors include Hennessey and Coke, Peach Cobbler, Pecan Pie, and Sweet Potato Pie.  In 5-10 years, Catarah sees herself “hoping to have settled down with a family and maybe move back to the south. It’s also my goal to be financially capable of giving back to FAMU and starting a foundation. As the business grows, our dreams and aspirations are endless; however within the next 5 to 10 years we hope to be a household name, a thriving franchise throughout the country, and a large influence in helping small businesses like ourselves get on their feet and boost our economy!”  If you want to sample some of these Southern treats, but don’t live in the Los Angeles area, you can by visiting the website (www.southerngirldesserts.com), taking a look at all of the desserts, then giving a call to the message line at 310-686-8916 or emailing orders@southerngirldesserts.com, and they’ll be happy to arrange a shipment specific to your budget and needs. At this time they’re able to ship specific products including cake pops, cupcakes in a jar, cake loaves, cookies and pecan pralines.  At this time, they do not ship cupcakes or frosted cakes.

If you’re like me, you have a sweet tooth, and it looks like Southern Girl Desserts has a plethora of choices from which to choose!  Please share with friends and family not just in the LA area, but all over the country.  I’m sure they won’t be disappointed!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

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