A Story

I changed the title of this post about 3 times; I may change it again before I hit “publish”.  (I did.) This weekend I had an AMAZING time with my girls!  We laughed, we joked, we danced, we met up with old friends, we met some new friends, we hung out with my family, and my linesister and I almost got lost in the street game (that’s a post for another day).  All in all, I am so glad I went away on this mini-vacay!  I almost didn’t want to come back…almost.

Before I left DC, I heard a voice speak something into my existence-something I hadn’t thought about in awhile.  But, as we are proned to do at times, I didn’t pay it any attention.  When we were in NC this weekend, the same voice spoke this same thing into my existence again.  Not necessarily louder, but definitely with more force.  And with so much force that I started paying attention.  When we are on the right track and start doing the right thing, God will come to us.  And we must listen and pray and talk to Him to ensure first that we are doing the right thing AND doing it the right way.

Yes, I know, short post, but I had to get this off my chest-when God speaks to us, it would behoove us to listen.  Sometimes we may have to leave our comfort zone in order to receive our blessings.  And when He speaks to us, we cannot ignore him.  That’s when His voice gets a little louder, His hints not so subtle.  But why would we want to shoot ourselves in the foot and not receive blessings that were made specifically for us?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

P.S.  Yes, I know I’m a slacker.  It’s the 19th day of Black History Month, and I have yet to highlight an entrepreneur.  The highlights are coming-just pray for me. 🙂  Also, scratch what I said in an earlier post about doing things (i.e. volunteering and joining organizations) to potentially have my mate meet me. (This comes from putting the right thing in your spirit and opening yourself up to hear the right things.) Like Ruth, if I’m focusing on bettering myself and living my life, all of that other stuff will come.

Today’s Black History Month Fact: Edward Sawyer Cooper, M.D. was elected as the first Black president of the American Heart Association in 1992.

Weekend Recap

So many things have happened since Friday that I have to put it all in one post, lest I drag everything out.  This post may be a little lengthy and reminiscent of when I first started this blog.  You’ve been warned…

First, a HUGE congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens!!!  They are my #2 team, after the Jaguars, of course.  I’m kinda mad that I didn’t take any pictures last night in my Ray Lewis shirt… And no matter WHERE I go, it’s always the old men that end of talking to me…but I digress.  It was an awesome game!  I almost thought that Baltimore was gonna mess around and let San Francisco come back like they did during the NFC Championship against Atlanta.  But Ray, Joe, and them held them off (barely) to win Super Bowl XLVII!  All in all, it was a great game to watch, and I stayed at the party until the end, even though my girls left me high and dry!

Next, can we talk about Beyonce?!?!  Now, I’m a HUGE Queen Bey fan, but treating her like an idol (Beysus) is NOT hot!  I’m about to start quoting scripture, but you guys know what the Bible says about “…not having any other gods before me…”  I was excited to see Kelly and Michelle on stage with her as well.   Of course, I’m making plans to see her when she comes to DC on July 29.  I’ve already got my crew together, and I’m SUPER excited!  I’ll be playing the Beyonce Station all day on Pandora! (I just hope I don’t start singing out loud at my desk…)  I also cannot forget Alicia Keys singing the National Anthem and Jennifer Hudson performing during the Pre-game Show.  I felt so inspired seeing these talented Black women perform on a large, international stage.  (And yes, I know we are not a fan of some of the personal choices that Ms. Keys has made, but this is a time of positivity.  Plus, who am I to judge???)  And speaking of feeling inspired…

I was in AWE on Friday evening watching the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards.  I made a conscience effort (and decision) to sit down and watch this awards show.  And I’m glad I did.  Kerry Washington (my girl) racked up, Harry Belafonte is untouchable, AND Diahann Carroll is still amazing at 77!  As a senior in high school, I made a decision and stated that I would not become a member of the NAACP due to their tourism boycott of the state of South Carolina. Even though the boycott is still in effect, I stated this weekend that I would consider joining the NAACP.  Watching the awards ceremony made me so proud and excited to be a Black American.  To see the accomplishments of my people from the past and the present brought joy to my heart.  Tears were brought to my eyes as I heard Diahann Carroll speak about Kerry Washington as the younger actress was presented with the President’s Award.  I was ecstatic to see Vice Admiral Michelle Howard win the Chairman’s Award; watching her story made me think of two of my favorite Black, female sailors-my “auntie” Madeline and my other play aunt/mother/friend and soror “Queen Tutt”. 🙂  And hearing about the things that Mr. Belafonte has done and continues to do in this country, specifically for young Black boys, made me realize that WE all could stand to do a little more to better our communities.  And hearing him speak about the ills still affecting our people showed a passion and truth that not too many of us are willing to face.

So, all in all, this weekend was great.  And busy…  But I won’t complain.  What were some of your favorite moments from the weekend?  Did you catch any of the big shows?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Fact:  In 1899, African-American golf fan Dr. George Franklin Grant received a patent for the world’s first golf tee. Grant, however, never marketed his invention, instead giving the tees away to friends and fellow golfers. (Shout out to Southern Dad and Southern Uncles for being avid golfers BEFORE there was a Tiger Woods. :))

It’s Black History Month

Today’s post is short, because my morning did not go as planned!  For this month, I will be highlighting young, African-American entrepreneurs (as I did in 2011). We have a new group of young, energetic, smart, and innovative people that I can’t WAIT to share with you all!

Other things coming up include an interesting post on race relations, the What’s Happening page will be updated, and you’ll get my thoughts on the Super Bowl AND Beyonce’s performance. Yes, I’m a Jaguars fan through and through, but this Sunday, I’ll be rooting for my boy Joe Flacco and the Ravens!  (They’re my #2 team!)  Have fun this weekend, and until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Month Fact: On February 1, 1870, Jonathan Jasper Wright was elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

My Thoughts on the Oscars

Happy Monday!  I initially wasn’t going to watch the Oscars, but my neighbor invited me to a little party she was having, so I thought I should go.  Besides the young lady who had to remind us every five seconds that she was from LA and knew somebody connected to whatever actor/actress was on the screen/reminding us that people in LA are shallow/or whatever other anecdote she wanted to share about her hometown, I had a great time! 

I think James Franco and Anne Hathaway did a great job; I actually didn’t even know they were hosting until I started watching the pre-show.  (TV hasn’t been big on my things to do lately.)  Franco is definitely a 21st century James Dean.  Hathaway grew up to be a lovely young woman, who is actually kind of funny.  I was happy for Natalie Portman (you all know how I feel about “Black Swan”), and I knew “The King’s Speech” would win Best Picture.  I’m glad “Inception” got some awards, because it was definitely a great movie.  Watching the Oscars made me want to watch “Blue Valentine”, “Winter’s Bone” and “The Fighter”.  I’m also kind of tempted to watch “Rabbit Hole” (even though I’m no Nicole Kidman fan) and “The King’s Speech”. 

Can we talk about something that was missing from the Oscars?  Black people.  Yes, Oprah was on hand to present the award for Best Documentary, they recognized Lena Horne, and Halle Berry said some nice words about the famed actress, but not one African-American was nominated.  Now, I can’t honestly think of any African-American movies or roles that came out this season worthy of having a nomination…except “For Colored Girls”.  Maybe the story was too much for the board, but there should have been at least one nomination from that movie-Thandie Newton.  She was AMAZING in that movie!   Besides “For Colored Girls”, were there any films by, for, starring African-Americans?  If so, why weren’t they nominated?  And why is it so hard for us to cross-over into mainstream America?  I would like to say I’m so very proud of “Essence” magazine for having their “Blacks in Hollywood” event.  It seems apparent that if we don’t recognize ourselves, no one will. 

What did you guys think of the Oscars?  Love it?  Hate it?  Happy with the winners?  Feel like some people were snubbed and should have been nominated?  The floor is yours.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Month Fact:

Harriet Ida Pickens and Francis Wills were the first African-American female Navy officers.  In November of 1944, these women graduated as WAVES Officers from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (Women’s Reserve) at Northampton, Massachusetts.

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.

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.