Women on the Rise: Mothers Edition

  1. Nia Wood (@niamichelle_)

Nia Wood is a mother of one, founder, and fashion designer of Nia Michelle. She started Nia Michelle in March of 2019 with the goal of encouraging women to feel confident through fashion, by offering clothes that are unique and made just for them. Since starting, she has launched a total of three collections and presented her most recent collection (Concrete Rose) at Atlantic City Fashion Week 2020. Her most recent efforts have been towards creating protective masks for COVID-19 relief.  Most importantly she is proud to say she is a mompreneur.

Nia is a Woman on the Rise because she is the definition of a BOSS. Throughout her pregnancy (and even now), Nia has put in endless hours of hard work and dedication towards her brand/collection. She is a very determined woman who is very passionate about fashion design. This can be seen through her wonderful pieces. Ever single design is handmade by this amazing mommy. She can literally make something out of anything, and she does this effortlessly will raising a family. This Queen is truly unstoppable.

2. Serifat Fapohunda (@dreamlover25)

Serifat Fapohunda is a 26-year-old mother to a beautiful one-year old named Amira. She believes her daughter is her biggest blessing, and the best thing that has ever happened to her. In 2019, Sheri received her master’s degree in Business Management. She is the founder and CEO of LEWA BROWS LLC. She is a brow artist and the owner of LEWA BROWS studio. She founded a non-profit organization called P.O.P SICKLE CELL. POP is a non-profit that was created to uplift and help children who suffer from sickle cell.

Sheri is a Woman on the Rise because despite all she faces, she continues to keep pushing. She is hustler and a go-getter. She is the definition of getting things done no matter what. Her daughter is her life, and her existence alone pushes Sheri to achieve the impossible. Many people believe she’s superwoman but, she struggles like everyone else. Despite these struggles, Sheri has made a way for herself. She describes being a single mother as challenging, but she’s thankful for it all. If you’re ever in Miami and need a brow/beauty makeover….THIS is the mother to see!

3. Erica Sullivan (@mom.e.planner)

Erica Sullivan is not only a wife and a mother but also a business owner. She started her journey as a single mom blogger over 8 years ago. When her family grew, by a husband and two kids, she relocated to the Philadelphia area and put her fear aside and started working for herself full-time.

In 2018 Erica decided to expand her momE brand to talk more about her new lifestyle. She grew from a single mom blogger to talking more about step-parenting, marriage, cooking, traveling, mental health and so much more. It was with these changes that her brand grew from a mom’s blog to a lifestyle blog.

In 2019 momEplanner launched their Believer clothing line. This line was created to show others that we aren’t just followers of Jesus but Believers in him! With the growth of her clothing line and the success that she started to see from her social media platforms, Erica decided that it was time to start hosting events. Having been an Event Planner in her earlier years, momE wanted to curate events for women to celebrate themselves on Mother’s Day. So she birth the momE Mother’s Day Wellness Social.

At the start of 2020 Erica has began her coaching courses. From teaching women how to brand themselves on Instagram and how to grow their blog traffic to match her views of 7-10K a month. momE is now working on the release of her third digital magazine and in the works of creating her own all natural and chemical free cleaning products.

Erica’s mission is to help women learn to live on purpose in business, motherhood, marriage, and life!

Erica is a Woman on the Rise because she is unstoppable. She uses her own life experiences to help women everywhere. She believed in herself and chased her passion of blogging full-time. She uses her platform to help different types of mothers such as single moms or step moms. She is a strong woman of faith and an amazing mother. We can’t wait to see what she has in store next!

4.Tiana Dickerson (@tianabreexo)


Tiana Bree is a self-taught makeup artist, founder of Beat2aTi, boutique owner and mother-to-be. Her sole purpose in life is to bring the beauty and confidence out of each woman she comes in contact with, in more ways than one! Tiana has spent the last 7 years sharing her gift of artistry, style, and confidence, and knows that when you look your best, you feel your best. She makes it her mission to inspire others daily. 

After the loss of both of her grandmothers, Tiana decided to curate something to carry out their legacy, birthing her online boutique, The Seven22 Collection. Each item from her collection is handpicked for the chic, versatile and fabulous, sure to have heads turning with every item purchased!

Tiana’s work has been featured on the MAC Cosmetics website, several news stations and has shared her knowledge as a Makeup Expert at empowerment events for women across the DMV.

Tiana holds a B.A in Communications with a focus in Public Relations from Morgan State University and will continue to inspire other women through her platforms, Beat2aTi and The Seven22 Collection.

This mommy-to-be is a Woman on the Rise because she uses her gifts and inspires women everywhere. She promotes confidence and self-love, and the items in her collection portray that message as well. If she’s not promoting her online boutique, she beating a face. Her talent speaks before she does, and her captivating personality draws you in. We know that motherhood wont slow this Mom-boss down, it’ll only fuel her!

5. T’ana Patterson (@tinyfaces_)

T’ana Patterson is a Montessori Teacher and Psychiatric Rehabilitation Specialist. She graduated from Morgan State University in Spring 2018 Cum Laude with her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. After graduation, she moved back to PG County and gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Tru Taína.

She is currently getting ready to pursue her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology while building her brand as an MUA. She also has a beauty and lifestyle blog on the way. Her focus is helping women to heal mentally and emotionally by recognizing their power and purpose. She wants every woman to feel their incomparable beauty from the inside out!

T’ana is a Woman in the Rise because she is living in her purpose and inspiring other mothers to do the same! Aside from pursuing her passions, she is furthering her education and using it to help other women heal and grow. Through her makeup artistry, every client who sits in her chair leave feeling like a brand new woman. She sets the example of what it means to be a great mother while chasing your dreams. She’ s a mother any daughter would be proud to have!

6. Mariama Smith (@thekoolmominc)

Mariama Smith is a mother, educator, and business owner. The 24 year old has a five year old daughter named Karter. She describes her daughter Karter is her ultimate bestie. When she’s not having a great time playing dress-up and having makeovers with her five year old, she’s surrounded by many others everyday in the classroom. Mariama is a kindergarten teacher at KIPP DC and her students are her joy. She loves teaching and watching her students grow and develop.

Between “mommying” and teaching, she started her non-profit The Kool Mom Inc. during her last semester of undergrad. She is a graduate of Towson University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Family Studies. Graduation was a huge accomplishment for her because statistics will show that teen moms do not tend to make it to their college graduations, but she beat the odds!

She started the Kool Mom Inc. to create emotional and financial support for teen and young adult mothers to be able to strive and succeed in a society that tells them success is impossible. The values for The Kool Mom are to encourage, inspire, uplift, and love. She currently has 51 members. Although its been hard to keep in contact due to COVID-19, Mariama and her members keep in touch and uplift one another with their daily group chat, weekly prayer calls, and zoom chats.

Mariama is a Woman on The Rise because she has allowed her own journey to motherhood be the driving force to her fulfilling her purpose. She is a living testament of doing the impossible, but she doesn’t stop there. instead, she empowers and inspires other beautiful women to do the same. She shows her fellow mothers that being a teen mom doesn’t stop you from accomplishing anything, rather it propels you. We STAN!

7.Kemi Ajibare (@styledbykemi)

Kemi Ajibare is a Personal Stylist in the DMV. She is also the founder of StyledByKemi, LLC, providing shopping and image consulting services to her clients. Her goal is to help women discover their true authentic style!

Kemi was born in Nigeria but came to the US as a toddler. Most of her life was spent growing up in Baltimore, MD. She has a degree in Business Technology, but her real passion is fashion. She is an IT professional by day and mommy to an amazing 3 year old boy. She is a proud mother of Nigerian descent who celebrates the beauty of individuality; in life and in style.

Kemi is a Woman on the Rise because she is proof that you can do it all. She shows women you can have a career, chase your passions, and have a family. The best part is she ALWAYS looks bomb while doing so! Her individuality sets her apart; she can walk into any room and own it. Her style is eye-catching and we stan her creative style. Her love for fashion and personal style can be seen on her various social media platforms, so make sure you follow!

We hope the stories of these amazing mothers have inspired you. As you can see, they dominate any lane, whether its fashion, education, beauty, blogging…..the list goes on. We hope you are empowered through this post. These beautiful mothers have shown us that nothing is impossible. All it takes is hard-work, sacrifice, grit, and determination. To all the mothers out there who do the impossible daily, we dedicate this post to you. We appreciate and love you! Happy Mother’s Day! ❤

Women on The Rise: Women’s Month Edition

As we all know, the month of March has been such a rollercoaster. With everything going on, Women’s month wasn’t really celebrated in its full capacity. To honor the month, and end it in the right way, we had to bring back fan favorite….Women on The Rise. It has been such a long time, but FINALLY….WE ARE BACK.

The Women on The Rise series has returned, and this time full force! By now, (if you’re a frequent reader), you already know how this goes. The Women on The Rise series is a series that highlights amazing women in the DMV that are trailblazing and making their mark in the area. These women come from all walks of life, in different fields, and professions. Since it’s Women’s Month, we HAD to bring it back. This one is JAM PACKED, so without taking too much of your time…..Women on The Rise: Women’s Month Edition!


Ashli Kolawole (@__dollyp)


Ashli Kolawole is a 26 year old Nigerian American with a love for all things PR and women! She is a Brand architect  (an AMAZING one btw) and a PR strategist. She is the CEO of her own Creative Agency known as ATENKO which focuses on PR strategies and Brand development. She is also the founder of GRL GETTER. Grl Getter is a community of aggressively enterprising women focused on connecting with one another in our career and everyday lives. She began her entrepreneurial journey because she was interested in the world of PR and how influential PR professionals are in the success of any industry. She has a thing for problem solving, finding solutions and acting as a liaison so she instantly wanted to create a lane of her own.

In the beginning she was interested in Fashion and music, but as time went on she found her niche. She is passionate about elevating brands to their full potential and introducing them to the world with the best foot forward. Our generation in particular is full of so many creatives but she finds that sometimes they don’t know how to execute that amazing vision and that’s exactly where Atenko comes in. 


She started Grl Getter in 2017. Her main goal and reason of starting was because she wanted a safe space for women to be able to elevate and inspire each other, NOT only in entrepreneurship but also in their 9-5’s and in everyday living. When she first started her creative agency, it took her some time to really decide what direction she wanted to go in. As time went on she began to create connections in her career and everyday life. She would meet people who would connect her and plug her in. That’s when she knew she wanted to start Grl Getter and create a space that would take women places they would’ve never imagined and to create lifelong fruitful relationships. 

Ashli is a Woman on The Rise because she has created a platform where women can cultivate meaningful relationships and connections. In addition to her platform, she puts her all in her brand, and does the same with every single brand she works with. She is really the bomb.com, and we cannot wait to see the great things she has in store! To keep up with her follow her personal and business instagrams, @atenkopr & @grl.getter.

Tamani Lyn (@tamanilyn)

Maryland native, Tamani Lyn, is a 21 year-old college student in her senior year at Bowie State University, studying Communications with a focus in Public Relations, aiding her in successfully founding her own women’s empowerment organization, WOMEN OF LYN, LLC  and financial advising company, Lyn Financial Advising Co.

Tamani always knew that her dream would consist of anything having to do with women’s empowerment or teaching financial literacy throughout her community. With original ideas and meticulous planning, she has watched her first found ideas and dreams come into full fruition right before her eyes with her brands.

Tamani always knew that her passions would be centered around inspiring, encouraging, and uplifting others. WOMEN OF LYN was started to make positive change in the community centered around women and encouraging all women to be bosses, and Lyn Financial Advising Co was started to teach financial literacy throughout the community.

Tamani is a Woman on The Rise because she is using her passion to inspire and uplift women everywhere. Through workshops, her mentoring program, her podcast, and so much more, she is giving women the tools to become the best woman they could possibly be. She is selfless and professional, and she serves as the epitome of a go getter. At such a young age, she has found her purpose and is moving aggressively in it. Tamani is breaking down barriers, and bringing women along with her! She is just getting started! To keep up with her, or to get involved with a few of her programs, follow her business page @womenoflyn.

Brittany Dorsey (@accordingtobrittt)

Brittany is a Woman of God, purpose, light, and love. Originally from Queens, NY by way of Willingboro, NJ, she graduated from Morgan State University in 2019, earning her Bachelors of Social Work. She is one of the manifestors of the Back 2 [H.E.R] podcast.

She fell in love with her journey of evolution and gaining the knowledge of self. Through this journey, she became aware of the influence she had on other woman in her reach. While at Morgan, she served as Miss Morgan State University. It gave her a platform to inspire woman, publicly speak, and plan events to connect with woman on a deep spiritual, emotional and mental level. Through that platform she realized her purpose in life. She knew she couldn’t stop once her reign ended.

She loved speaking and connecting over uncomfortable but necessary conversations , spreading wisdom and knowledge, and being a light to those in her reach. This is where her connection with her podcast co- host came about. They had a very deep conversation, and later her co-host reached out to her and asked if she was interested in hosting a knowledge of self workshop with her and doing a podcast to promote the event.

After their first meeting, they realized the podcast was a God given idea and they ran with it. Back 2 [H.E.R] podcast launched on January 4,2020. Back 2 [H.E.R] is a platform designed to Heal, Evolve women from all walks of life. Since their official launch, they have been streamed in 16 states all across America. Also streaming in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. They are available on Anchor, Spotify, Breaker, Google Podcast, Overcast, Pocketcast, Radiopublic and Apple. She can be found on Instagram at @Officialback2her and at @AccordingtoBritt

Brittany is a Woman on The Rise because of she selflessly uses her influence and platform to build her fellow sisters. She speaks words of love and light, and uses her podcast to help women everywhere. From her bubbly personality, to her mature mindset, Brittany is a person you always want around. B2H is just the beginning for this phenomenal woman.

Joy Griffin (@joyjoelene)

Joy Joelene, a woman built on faith, reformation, and healing, is an advocate of spirituality and internal growth. She is a proud graduate of Morgan State University, where she became a member of The Always Divine, Alpha Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Joy also advanced onto serving as the Student Government Association President, where she and her team worked diligently to make several impactful changes for the campus community.

Currently, she attends Johns Hopkins University and is pursuing her Masters of Science degree with a concentration in Government Policy. Enlightenment is a passion of hers, which she likes to spread to those around her. It is because of this passion that she co-established, ‘Back 2 Her’, which is a podcast dedicated towards healing, evolving, and revolutionizing women from all walks of life. She is an adamant believer in The Most High divinely and carefully paving her way so that she is able to inspire anyone she comes into contact with. Joy has been featured in many workshops and panel discussions. She can be found on Instagram @JoyJoelene! 

Joy is a Woman on The Rise, like her co-host Brittany, because of her selfless use of influence. She uses her own life lessons to speak light and love to her listeners everywhere. Her gentle spirit and humility are characteristics that have taken her far. Her desire to be an advocate for growth has allowed her to move in her purpose and we are here for it!

Ruth Addisu (@channelonenine)

 Ruth is a certified Audio and Visual Technician, Photographer, and Editor hailing from the great state of Maryland. She received her Bachelors degree from Towson University in 2018. She majored in Film with a focus in Television Broadcast accompanied with a minor in Women Studies. Her photography experience trails back to 2015. Since then she has taken captured moments and participated in interviews with people from Keri Hilson to Ndaba Mandela. Her event visual experience ranges capturing from baby showers, concerts, and banquets; to setting up lighting and audio for corporate events. 

Her experience doesn’t stop there, she has managed social media accounts for Towson University Admissions, international news broadcasters, and more. She has been featured on a weekly international radio health program, and is the recipient of the 2018 Joe Manns Black Wall Street Award. 

Since being established in 2015, the mission of her brand is to develop content with integrity that produces dialogue and transcribes the truth.
She started doing video production in high school and fell in love with it. She saw photography as a way to master framing and coloring so that she could apply it to her video background. 

Ruth is a Woman on The Rise because her passion for photography has inspired so many. Her talent has allowed her clients visions to come to life. She tells stories through her art, and this is something to thoroughly enjoys.
She strives to capture the reality of life, and not produce altered images that can mislead audiences of true reality.She hopes to one day capture someone’s reality, which will inspire someone to change their direction of life to improve the reality of others.

Moni Osibodu @moniosibodu)

 Moni Osibodu is a Nigerian influencer located in Lagos, Nigeria. She started her YouTube channel MoniTalks her senior year of college. Once she graduated from Morgan State University in 2015, she moved to Nigeria 2 weeks later to chase her dreams which is Nigerian entertainment.

Within 6 months of moving, she worked at one of the top TV stations, HipTv, as a TV presenter. Fast forward 5 years, she is now a freelancer. She host events, concerts, and has been featured on a couple of tv shows. She still has Moni Talks where she has interviewed a number of top Nigerian artists. These artists include Naira Marley, Zlatan, Burna boy, Dbanj, Olamide, and so much more! She also holds an event called Mo’s Playlist. It is a showcase that is done every couple of months. Its purpose is to put emerging artists on. She invites these artists to perform, and she invites her industry friends such as A list artists, record label executives, and new potential fans.

Moni is a Woman on The Rise because of her will to always bet on herself. Ever since knowing Moni, she has always danced to the beat of her own drum. She has always made a way for herself, and it is great to see her hard work paying off. She is the definition of GRIND and she is truly self made. We can’t help but to stan. Make sure to keep up with her to see what she’s got cooking up next!

Esther Alayo (@crowned.queene)

Esther Alayo, aka S’TA, is 24 year old singer/songwriter born in Washington D.C. The songstress grew up in Maryland and in the summer of 2014, she relocated to Texas. Music stole her  heart at a very young age. At 18 months she began to speak, and by the age of two she was already singing. She believes singing was something that was embedded in her.

She refers to music as her culture and singing is her language. This is why it was so shocking that she put off singing for so long. Like many African kids, she was raised to do “practical things” like going to school and  getting a degree in something “ideal”. Although she came from a musical family, and she had the support of her parents, she was still always told that music wasn’t going to pay the bills and that she needed something solid. Because of this, she put music off, but lucky for us, she silenced the noise, and finally overcame her fear. On February 16th, 2020, she released her debut single “BOJU”.

Esther is a Woman on The Rise because she went against the grain, took a leap of faith, and followed her true passion. It took a lot of courage to do so, and we are so happy she did. Her bravery led her to uncover her inner diva, and she calls this woman of power S’TA and she doesn’t playyyyyyy. We know she has so much more in store so stay tuned!

Vicha’n Cooper (@vichaaaan)

Vicha’n Cooper is a 24 year old KIPP educator. She is a graduate of the illustrious Morgan State University, and she is the CEO and Founder of VVENTURES INC. VVENTURES INC. was created simply from her daily life routine. She feels the understanding of self is essential for growth and the changes that life brings. There was no other way she could do this, but through journaling. Journaling became a ritual for her and she figured what better way to go through this experience, than sharing it with the world.

VVENTURES INC. Is an adventure of finding your purpose and awareness of self through journaling. It’s desired purpose is for one to learn and grow by understanding your own process.  It is not to aid you along the way, but just pick your brain for you to visually see and hear your own thoughts. Many times when that happens we compare where we want to go and where we are currently and start to create life changing experiences. At this stage, you have become your own agent of change. In addition to having a brand, she is a professional hair braider.

Vicha’n is a Woman on The Rise because of the lane she has created for herself. By opening up and sharing an intimate daily routine, she birthed a brand that allows its readers to heal and grow. Since its creation, she has done so much and we know she will continue to do more! To keep up with Vicha’n and join in on the journey, be sure to follow her brand (@vventuresinc)and hair braiding page (@braivvdsbyvichan).

Oluwatosin Adedoyin (@loveabletee)

Oluwatosin Adedoyin is a Nigerian local fashion designer located in the DMV, and is the CEO of her own brand Tosin Ade LLC. Her vision is to cater to the customization & development of exclusive garments created uniquely for each client. 
Graduating from Towson university, Tosin Ade started this journey her senior year in college and put forth much time and commitment towards her passion to later launch her own Business, Tosin Ade LLC, in January 2019.

Tosin is a Woman On The Rise because her designs are authentic and original. Her pieces are clean, cut, and unique. She effortlessly seams high fashion and afro prints to create a line of clothes that is to die for! She just recently dropped her 2020 collection, and the pieces are unforgettable. We cannot wait till her designs are seen in the likes of Vogue and on A listers like Rihanna! To purchase some items of your own, follow her business page (@tosinade)!

Jazmine Boyd (@yourgirljaz)

Jasmine Boyd is a 23 year old photographer hailing from Oxon Hill,MD. She is a graduate of THE best HBCU in the land, Morgan State University. Jazmine started photography because it brought out her creative side. It allows her to capture special moments others might not see. She loves how you can turn just about anything into a work of art. Not only is this beauty a beast behind the lens, but she is completely self taught.

Jazmine is a Woman on The Rise because she is the definition of determination and raw talent. Despite not having the technical skill for photography, she did not let that stop her. She taught herself, and has allowed her talent to make way for her. Her photos are eye catching and vibrant, and her edits are flawless. This is one lens you want to be in front of! To support her, follow her photography page (@jshots__)

Monjama Nyalley (@yourssstrulymj)

Monjama Nyalley is a creative hailing from Washington D.C., who now resides in Prince George’s County. The Sierra Leonean native is a lover of old school music, wine and food. She graduated from the first HBCU, Lincoln University where she pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. She received her degree in Biology with a minor inPsychology. Although she enjoys many hobbies, her favorite is writing.

Her love for writing began at the age of 12. She was dealing so much trauma so she began to go to therapy. It was there that her therapist gave her a book by Maya Angelou, I Know What The Caged Bird Sings. The book changed her life forever. It inspired her own style of writing. The rawness and vulnerability of her words pushed Mj to do the same in her writing. She truly believes writing saved her life.

She is the creative mind behind “Listen Up I Got A Story to Tell”. She wanted to start her writing brand for a while, but kept pushing it off. One day she was driving in her car listening to music, and she heard the song I Got A Story to Tell. From there, her blog was born. Mj uses her blog as a creative outlet for her poetry and thoughts. She also wanted to use this platform to feature others as well as help others. She allows a space where people can share stories of their own. She believes it is a safe space where others can tell their stories and free themselves while saving someone else. Through her blog, she started a prom dress drive, and is on the way to launching her scholarship. These are just a preface to what she has planned.

Monjama is a Woman on The Rise because she despite the anticipation in the beginning, she finally opened up and shared her passion with the world. Not only is she allowing her passion to make way for herself, but she’s choosing to use her platform to help others. She hopes to create her mark on the world, and inspire people. She wants people to know that no matter who they are or where they are from can know their story matters. To read or blog or donate to her many causes, follow her blog page (@listenupigotastorytotell)

Jillian Curry (@jilliancurry16)

Jillian Christina Curry is an educator, motivational speaker, and empowerment coach haling from Edison, New Jersey. She is a graduate of Morgan State University. Ms. Curry currently serves as a 4th grade teacher in Columbia, Maryland. She believes that the academic, emotional, and physical strengthening of children is the solution to many of society’s ills. 

Aside from teaching, she is a motivational speaker, certified self-esteem and empowerment coach and creator of the Millennials in Worship Brand; a brand created to uplift and inspire young women and men experiencing the everyday struggles of a modern day millennial. Through her journey, she dreams of making a difference in the life of children and adults who battle low self-esteem and depression as it is important to understand that happiness and success can still reign supreme during some of life’s most challenging times. Through her platform, she hopes to inspire the world to accept their unique destiny as life has the potential to be all that we want it to be, if we only believe!

Jillian is a Woman on The Rise because she has always moved in her passion. She has always used her platform to uplift her community. Whether that is her students, women in her community, etc., you can always count on Jillian being transparent and delivering a WORD. Her brand Millennials in Worship offers a daily morning prayer line that has helped many overcome strongholds and receive breakthroughs. Jillian is a light anywhere she goes, and we can’t help but to admire a woman moving in her purpose.

Danielle Sadé Williams (@fashionably.dsade)

Danielle Sadé Williams is a beauty/fashion blogger located in Baltimore, MD. She is a New Jersey native who is a lover of all things style and beauty. She created “Fashionably D. Sadé” to show how it’s okay to be yourself in your walk of style. The name originated from her being “fashionably late” to everything, she was always late for a very beautiful and stylish reason. She really wants to inspire those around her and convey the message that you don’t need the fanciest brand or the most the exaggerated outfit to fashionably express how wonderful you are.

Danielle is a Woman on The Rise because she is fashionably her. She is completely herself anywhere she goes, and she inspires others to do the same. Her style is unique and her fashion sense is none like we’ve seen. She is 100% authentic and we appreciate it. This Queen is also multitalented. As stated above, she is also a beauty blogger. This has allowed her to be an entrepreneur, and trust she doesn’t disappoint. To see what exactly we’re talking about, follow her!

Tolani Taiwo @tolaninaomi)

Tolani Taiwo is a senior Health Promotion major at Morgan State University. She is the owner of health brand Naomi Health Promotion. NHP is a health and wellness brand that promotes staying active and eating healthy. After graduation, she wishes to become a celebrity personal trainer.
Naomi has always loved sports, and has been an athlete. When her track career ended, she was trying to figure out how she could carry on her love for fitness, and from there her first baby was born; Naomi Fitness. She solely focused on fitness, however, when she began digging deeper into her major courses, she realized that she had a passion for health in all aspects. When she came to that realization, she decided to transition from Naomi Fitness to Naomi Health Promotion.

Tolani is a Woman on The Rise because of her dedication to healthy living. She doesn’t just promote fitness, she promotes healthy living all around. She gives her clients and followers information and tips that will help them reach their goal. She uses her platform not only to provide motivation to get in shape, but to encourage everyone to achieve whatever their life goals are. She is all about putting her clients first and helping them understand how the body works. Tolani is also a go getter, despite all the things that may try and stop her, she keeps elevating. She loves what she does and it shows. If you’re trying to get snatched by the time quarantine is up, this is the woman to contact!

Chelsea Okoro (@dineroboss)

Chelsea Okoro aka “DJ Dinero” is a 25 year old Nigerian, born and raised in Landover, MD (now in Largo, MD). She has always been a go getter her entire life. During her high school years at Largo High School, she was always grinding. She was always selling candy, snacks, juice, whatever the people needed. The hustle and grind was always embedded in her

Being a dj was never a dream of hers.It was something that came about at the end of her 11th grade year. A friend of hers was having a big house party and his dj backed out at the last minute. She always uploaded music for money to people’s mp3 players and iPods, so she was asked if she could DJ that party. The rest was history.

Once she got to college, she saw there was a lack of female DJs, which discouraged her from DJing. At the end of her freshman year in undergrad, a close friend, Adedire Ososanya, encouraged her to DJ at school. Luckily, she took that advice, and when her sophomore year came around, she became the first female DJ to ever win a DJ competition in Morgan State history. 

Overtime, she began to recieve more recognition, booking more gigs, becoming the official dj for all athletic events, and much more. After graduating from Morgan State in May 2019, her DJ career took catapulted. She now Djs all types of events. With the help of her manger and close friend, Rashida Kamara, She was able host her first musical showcase in November 2019. Following the sold out event, Chelsea got the opportunity open up for Larry June, DJ for Premo Rice, and sis is even going on tour this year!

Chelsea is a Woman on the Rise because she is truly a trailblazer. She is dominating in a field that is known to be predominately be for men. Becoming the first female DJ to win a DJ competition at Morgan State is no small feat. She is the one to watch, and we truly believe in the near future, DJ Dinero is going to be a problem! Despite being super talented, she is very humble. A few Djs she apprecitates and looks up to are looked up to are DJ Dezzy Dez, DJ PhilloFlexx, DJ KiloVibes, DJ Flow, DJ C-Stylez, DJ VonChase and DJ SmoothRell. If you need a DJ post-quarantine, Chels is your woman!

The Ayaba Manifesto

Whenever you hear succesful people speak on their journey to success, they always mention the “power of manifestation“. Motivational speaker, Wayne Dyer said “within all of us is the divine capacity to manifest and attract all that we need and desire“. This means you can literally accomplish whatever you want through the power of manifestation.

Nick Manifest GIF by Big Brother

Well, what exactly is manifestation? Our definition of manifest is to bring to pass or bring something to life by mouth. In other words, speaking something into existence.

Okay, so boom. What is a manifesto? A manifesto is a declaration, or affirmation, of what you want out of life. It is an aggrement between you and your higher self. It is written with strong and empowering languauge to affirm what you plan to happen and WILL actually happen (because once you said it so shall it be sa-weetie).

Santana On The Beat Saucy Santana GIF - SantanaOnTheBeat SaucySantana GIFs

Okay, so………”The Ayaba Manifesto“?

The Ayaba Manifesto is a public declaration catered to the strong, driven and confident woman. Its purpose is to remind yourself that all your goals, dreams, and aspirations are achievable, and it is a promise to you that you will always work aggressively towards achieving it. You’re letting yourself know that whatever that aspiration is, it can be done. It’s from your mouth to God’s ears.

Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those that love it shall eat the fruit“. It’s already written sis, so speak your dreams and goals to life. Your affirmations will come to pass, so far as your drive matches your hustle.

This manifesto will be there to encourage and remind you on those days where you aren’t able to show up 100%. It will be there to speak to you and remind you who you are, what you’re capable of, and what exactly you’re working towards.

How does it work? All you have to do is use this manifesto/affirmation by personalizing the prompt below and applying it to your life. Its as follows:

I ____(insert your name here)______, declare that I will work to accomplish all of my dreams, goals, and aspirations. I will do so by ___________, _____________, and ____________ (list three things you will do or not do to propel yourself closer to success). I am a boss who will get things done by any means. I am a Queen who knows her worth and won’t settle for what is offered. I am capable. I am strong. I am beautiful. Nothing or no one can stop me.

Read and recite this to yourself everyday, and watch how the things you manifest will come to fruition. And truthfully speaking, if you aren’t feeling mine, write your own! Make a clean and neat copy, post it where you’ll see it everyday. Make sure you’re consistently reading and reciting it.

There have been so many situations where I have manifested something and God came through. I manifested graduating from college….I did it, I manifested getting a job after being unemployed for about 7 months…..I got one, I manifested a new car and BOOM, God came through and blessed me with a 2020. Manifesting isn’t magic. It is an agreement with you and God. You’re exercising your faith and God will see that and reward you, but the power is in your tongue. You have authority over your life, take control and speak favor and blessings into it.

DISCLAIMER: The key to allowing this manifesto to work is to actually WORK. You have to put some grind behind those words. Dreams don’t work unless you do, pooh! Whatever it is you want to affirm for yourself, make sure you are actually working towards it! The dream is free. The HUSTLE is sold separately.

Comment below and tell me a few things you are planning to manifest!

International Women’s Day: Celebration of Women

Happy International Women’s Day to all the Ayabas all over! Today, we celebrate you along with all the amazing women across the world!

IWD is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of all women. It is also about unity of women, celebration of women, reflection of how far women have come, advocacy of women, and action of women! It isn’t a day to bash or demean men, but it is a day to celebrate the strides women have made within society. We’ve gone from only being housewives, to owning businesses, having amazing careers, and making policies and laws that rule society.

So how exactly did IWD come about? We’ll give you a super short cliffnotes version ;-)!

The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Many women’s equality groups arose during the early 1900s due to the climate and conditions surrounding women. This birthed the rise of women’s marches. In 1908, 1500 women marched in the streets of NY demanding better work conditions such as shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. In 1913, members of Delta Sigma Theta sorority Inc. marched in the women’s suffrage parade despite being encouraged not to due to the color of their skin. These marches and movements produced a revolution.

Because of the efforts of women, National Women’s Day was observed in the US on February 28th, 1909. In 1910, at the 2nd International Conference for working women, Clara Zetkin (the chairperson for the conference) proposed the idea of International Women’s Day. She said every year, every country should celebrate it on the same day. All the women in attendance approved, and they honored March 8th of every year to be IWD. From there, the IWD movement and many other women’s movements began. Women of all colors, backgrounds, and ethnicities came together to fight for gender parity and women’s rights.

Today, IWD continues to fight the good fight by celebrating women’s achievements, and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality. Every year has a theme, and this year’s theme is “Each for Equal“. The mission is to fight for a gender equal world.

We at ayabaconnect choose to celebrate IWD, because of all the prominent women who have been badasses, and fought the fights that were needed for us to advance. From the Fumnilayo Kutis to the Marsai Martins, we celebrate the barriers women have broken. In addition to celebrating, we also choose to advocate for the women all over who are still oppressed, and aren’t afforded the same opportunities we have.

We honor and celebrate all of you. The women who wake up everyday and show up. Who selflessly use their talents and skills to make the world a better place. We see you, and we thank you!

So here’s to strong women! May we be them, may we know them, may we raise them! Happy International Women’s Day sisters! Comment below and tell us why you celebrate International Women’s Day!

6 Types of Men (N*ggas) on Valentines Day | By Osamudiamen


Here at AyabaConnect, as you all know were a supported of others. This is why he had to get a post from one our FAV BLOGGERS EVER. Queen Osamudiamen has blessed us with the guide to men on Vday! To check it out, just keep scrolling!


Happy Valentine’s and Gyalentine’s Day, niggas! Today is a day to celebrate ourselves and others in the name of love! In doing so, I’ve created a guide of the different types of niggas that exist on Valentine’s Day. Ladies, you’ll know which one you have, and gentlemen, you’ll know which one you are! Let’s get it!

1. The “Pussy is not a gift” Valentine’s Day Nigga

“Pussy agaiiiiiiiiin?……oh..ok…”

This nigga is fed up with the notion that Valentine’s Day is just for women. He wanna be wined and dined and have his back blown out after dinner too, ladies. In short, he’s tired of you bitches. He feels as though the bomb ass pussy you got is not a gift, but a “requirement” so this gift does not suffice. Shaving your pubes into the shape of Cupid’s bow and arrow also does not cut it for this man, ladies. I hear you and I’m actually not mad at this type of nigga and he’s got a great point. PUSSY IS NOT A lVALENTINE’S DAY GIFT. If you gon be lazy with it, you might as well just say, “Babe I didn’t know what to get you so I didn’t get anything” and just blow his back out later on without telling him your pussy is the gift. He already knows it’s wetter than a Seaquarium *yawns*. Personally I think Valentine’s Day is a time for both parties to celebrate love, whatever that means for the both of y’all. Communication is key and both parties taking time to learn one another is crucial!

2. The “Pussy is all I need for Valentine’s Day” nigga

Your pussy so good this man has no problem not receiving shit from you other than pussy for Valentine’s Day. He just appreciates you allowing him to be inside of you. This could be your man, your friends with benefits, or your “bro” (some of y’all love calling these niggas your brother, but wholetime them yeeks getting clapT). PATHETIC. He only needs your time. However, In return of the laziness of your gift, there may be uncertainty in what you’ll receive from him. If he’s your man, he might still do something special, but he also might just gift you with some meaty-oaker dick as well and call it a day. Beware of this nigga ladies. He has no standards.

3. The “Ima take you out February 15th cuz I was tied up at ‘work’ on Valentine’s Day” nigga

Uhhhhh ladies…sorry to break it to y’all but if you still falling for this okie doke, you MIGHT need to get an MRI. This nigga ain’t shit and YOU might be a clown. If he has not officially informed you that you are the side chick, welcome to my Ted Talk. Hello, it’s nice to meet you. However, if he has informed you, he’s an upstanding Piece of Shit and you might just be a dumbass. Keyword is MIGHT, though. Times are changing and some women are perfectly cool with being the side chick because there may still be perks to this deal: great sex, food, gifts, shit…all the shit he probably does with his girl but it could be better or worse. You never know with these niggas ladies so you chancing it. I don’t judge and I’m not gon tell you to dub it (even though you should), all ima say in this situation is don’t be a dumb bitch, know what’s going on, don’t have any expectations for this kind of man, and keep yourself at peace. And stop lurking his girlfriend IG. She don’t know about you, goofy. 

4. The “Everyday is Valentine’s Day so I don’t gotta do shit today” nigga 

I don’t know how I truly feel about this type of man. Niggas loveeeeee saying this shit yet only do the bare minimum on the daily so I generally don’t buy it. There he is. Just like that sloth. Just looking goofy thinking he’s doing something but not at all. I just cannot call it. There ACTUALLY are men who spoil their women on the regular though (never experienced, believe it’s a myth, but I think I’ve read about this phenomenon somewhere so I won’t say it’s totally untrue). Ladies this one is totally dependent on the kind of man you have and how well you know him so I’ll just leave this one at that LOL. 

5. The nigga who actually tries to make Valentine’s Day amazing for you because he loves you and not because he has the expectation that you’re going to do something grandiose for him

These niggas are the best type of niggas. What they do for you and is independent of their expectation of you. They just want to do for you because they love you. They are generally observant and know exactly what you would like and what would make you smile and happy. They love showering you with love and you never have to question their love for you. This is the guy you do everything for. This is the guy whose face you always want to keep a smile on and because he cares about doing the same for you. He’s a blessing. Abeg, this is the kind of nigga I’m looking for. If you are reading this and this is you, make your way to my DM’s, please and thank you. 

6. And the niggas who don’t got nobody but themselves for Valentine’s Day 

Regardless of the type of man you have, I say all of this to say, everyday is a day of love and to love but Valentine’s Day is the day to do the most with it! All types of love too. It’s not just about romantic love. It’s okay if you’re alone today watching Netflix. Me too, Chile and I’m not mad one bit. Send your momma flowers. Gift your best friends something sweet. Celebrate yourself. Love on yourself. Remind yourself how beautiful, amazing, and worthy you are everyday but especially today! If you are celebrating love today with someone, I pray you all keep the love going and live in eternal happiness and peace.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! 💓

-oo

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/osamu.diamen/

Blog: https://thebonydiaries.com

For Lovers Only: Valentines Day Playlist | Curated by: Thomas J.

What’s the one thing that you need to set the mood for V-day? MUSIC.

The power of music is indescribable. You can play one song and it’ll take you back to a place, a moment in time, or remind you of that special someone. The power music holds is truly amazing. It’s no wonder that music plays an integral part in the formula to producing a successful Valentines Day. A V-day experience is bound to go right when you have the right vibe, and we have got you covered! We had to get a professional to cook up all the right vibes, and curate a Valentine’s Day playlist! This playlist is sure to take that special day to the next level.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Valentine🌹” playlist curated by the great Thomas J!

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Valentine🌹

Love. Faith. Hope. Destiny. In life you will meet lots of people, many of whom will have a profound impact on you and your journey. Some of these people will be homies, some will be lovers and most will be friends. Often times we think Valentine’s Day is reserved for the romance and intimacy—and it is to some degree—however it is important not to underscore the value of friendship and real love. No, not everyday will be great, and sometimes things will be dark and twisted, but you’re always able to get back on track. This playlist was created with the holistic [music] lover in mind. Love for self, and love for others. Whether you are your own Valentine this year, or are spending time with someone special—play this and set your V-Day plans in motion. Enjoy.

*Designed to play straight through, no shuffle.

https://t.co/N12Ntm9H9q

Valentine’s Day Must Haves: Couples’ Edition

As we allllll know, Valentine’s day is around the corner. V-day is a day where love is the focus, and honestly it’s one of our fave holidays! That’s because………well come on, who doesn’t love, LOVE?!

This day often involves a very special date night, and we want to help you get right! We are bringing you Valentine’s Day Must Haves that will be sure to have you looking BOMB on your special evening. Not only are we looking out for the ladies, we got our men too! We hit up two of the hottest in the DMV, MUA extraordinaire @kingdupes and the KING of grooming @guidedhands. Keep reading to see how you can look your absolute best on that very special evening!

Women: by @kngdupes

The Look

The Perfect Red Lip

Cost/Where you can find them:

Mac Cosmetics: Ruby Woo Retro Matte Lipstick| $19.00

Juvia’s Place: Afrik Liquid Lipstick|$12.00

Milan Cosmetics: Amor Satin Lip Creme (Red)|$9.00

I think a red lip is always perfect for valentine’s day, it’s bold, fun & sexy. You can never go wrong with this!

Luxuious Lashes

Cost/Where you can find them:

Lilly Lashes | $30.00

Ardell Wispies | $5 & up 

Dupes on the beat luxe lashes | Stay Tuned

Having the perfect pair of lashes is essential, for those that want to make a statement or those that want to flirt a little harder – the right lashes will do the job, trust me. 

Poppin highlight

Cost/Where you can find them:

Mac Cosmetics “Gold Deposit” | $36.00

Artist Couture “Jackie Aina Collection” | $30.00

You know what they say… your highlight must blind your enemies! Lol, all jokes aside, your highlighter can make or break your face. When applying it, be careful not to use too much. Personally I think the less blinding your highlight looks the better. Soft highlight gives “grown woman” “talk to me nice”! So take my advice!

Blooming Blush

Cost/Where you can find it:

Juvia’s Place “The Saharan blush bundle” | $35.00

These shades are perfect for everyone! They are always a staple in my makeup routine on myself and my clients.

Many people don’t realize the importance of blush on your skin, after applying make up blush helps to bring back life into our skin by adding the color we’ve taken away with foundation, concealer & etc.

Cost/Where you can find it:

YSL Black Opium | $75

Viktor & Rolf Flower Bomb | $85

Gucci Guilty | $80

Ladies, you want to leave a lasting impression, Having the right scent is an absolute game changer! These are a few of my fave, and I promise they’ll have you smelling heavenly!

Men: by @guidedhands

The Look

photo by @kennykfromthea

Versace- Versace Man Eau Fraiche

Cost: $85

Where you can find: CVS

If you don’t smell good, you might as well pack up and go home for V-Day. Every woman needs her man to be well scented on that particular day. Versace Man Eau Fraiche has been well proven amongst the ladies

Curl Sponge/The Mane Choice Coconut Curl Mousse

Cost: Sponge-$5, Mousse-$11.19

Where you can find: Sponge-Amazon, Mousse- Sally’s

The curly top is the most popular style among the men these days. If you’re not sporting the waves, then you have to make sure your hair is contained and styled correctly. The curl sponge can help with that. Make sure to accompany it with the Pink lemonade and Coconut Curl Mousse from The Mane Choice brand.

Natural Peppermint Premium Hair Oil

Cost: $9.62

Where you can find it: Beauty Supply Store

A healthy scalp is necessary. Peppermint oil contains several nutrients that will help keep your scalp moisturized (while your lady runs her hands through your hair lol).

Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Cost: $16.24

Where you find get it: Walmart

Black castor oil is a must for the beard! Do yourself a favor and use this oil to help soften and moisturize your beard or facial hair. Keep the beard right for your lady on V-Day. (And if you don’t have a beard use this oil twice/day and add prayer so your beard will grow before v-day)

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

Cost: $6.39

Where you can find it: CVS

Wash your face fellas. You don’t need your lady getting pimples on her lips from kissing your face. Cetaphil facial cleanser does the job!

Go Big!

Happy New Year! I know its a bit late, but better late than never, right?! :/

Haha, although I am late, I always say everything happens in God’s time, so I’m not even tripping. But heyyyyyy guys! I’ve missed you all and I’m so happy to be back. I took some time away, but it was veryyyyy much needed. My last post was back in November, and I decided to take a break. Not because I was tired of blogging and wanted to quit, but because I was going through a period of transition. During this time, I really wanted to be present in what I was going through. God was taking me through what I call an in-between stage. This stage is a level where God is elevating your from one level to another.

Transitions are never the easiest, but if you want to elevate and grow you have to go through them. During this period, God gave me some amazing people, took some much needed people away, and showed me certain things that I myself needed to do and certain things I needed to let go. He did a lot to prepare me for this new level I am stepping into. So while all of this was transpiring, I did a lot of evaluating and I was blessed with a message. The message I was given was to STOP PLAYING SMALL. It was DREAM BIG. Go BIG. OR GO HOME. PERIOD.

This means that numero uno, NO dream is too big or too crazy to achieve. If it’s your hearts desire, it can absolutely happen. Secondly, after dreaming big, you need a grind that matches that energy. You have to go BIG. A dream with no work behind it will never be fruitful. It’s about working and working hard. I decided to apply this mentality to my life, but I especially wanted to apply it to my brand, my business……my “lor baby”. I had a vision to re-brand and expand. I didn’t want to just write motivational posts, I wanted to do and be so much more. I wanted to provide substance and love to all. I wanted to create a community of women that are inspired to be the best version of themselves who also support and uplift one another. I told myself in 2020 I’m making it happen.

Entering 2020 was super important to me. Its not just another year to me, is a new decade. A new chapter. A new beginning. We’ve had 10+ years of experience to guide us and aid us through the next 10. We know what works, we know what doesn’t, its a matter of applying these lessons to our lives and applying pressure. We all have a reason, a purpose for being here. If we don’t live in it, life is just a waste.

So this is me living in my purpose. I am choosing to live fearlessly, with intent and purpose. It’s a go big or go home kind of year for me. So allow me to reintroduce my baby, Ayabaconnect. A space where we inspire, empower, and connect strong and beautiful women everywhere!

I often get asked what exactly does Ayaba mean. For those who don’t know, Ayaba means Queen. It is derived from the Yoruba language. Ever since I was little, my parents always called me Esteri Ayaba (Queen Esther), and being “Queen” has always been apart of me. So you know I had to bring a little peace of me to the brand. So from one Queen to another, welcome to Ayabaconnect!

I cannot wait to show you all whats in store for the new year. God willing, it’ll be one for the books! If you don’t already, follow us @ayabaconnect for inspiration, announcements, updates, and more! Follow my personal page as well @esteriayaba!

Stay tuned for the month of February. Great collabs, amazing content, and so much more!

P.S IF YOU WERE LOOKING FOR A SIGN TO DO THAT THING YOU’RE SO AFRAID TO DO, THIS IS IT. DO IT. IN FACT, DO IT SCARED. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE. LIFE IS TOO SHORT AND TOO PRECIOUS TO BE PLAYING IT SCARED.IF THAT WASN’T KNOWN BEFORE, KNOW IT NOW. DO IT. DO IT NOW. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE CHANCE TO LIVE. LIVE IT RIGHT AND LIVE IT WELL.

Men on The Rise: DMV Edition Part 2

By now, you all should know that DMV breeds excellence. We know the women are a force to be reckoned with, and the men are a different breed. I had to come back and get in one last post before I end this series. These posts can’t even begin to capture the talent that resides in the DMV, but it is a start! With that being said, here are the Men on The Rise!

1.Elijah Miles (@tendea_lij)

Elijah Miles is a speaker and community organizer in Baltimore City. He has made two TedX talks about issues relating to Baltimore City. Elijah Miles is also the leader and founder of Tendea Family, a grassroots organization in Baltimore city that galvanizes and organizes young people to do work to change improvised communities. Tendea focuses on four core areas: community service, economic development, unity and mental/character development. Lastly, Elijah has just graduated last spring from Morgan State University with a bachelors degree in Political Science. He now teaches a class on morality and does Tendea full time.

I remember the first time I heard Elijah speak. It was his freshman year and we were at an event on campus. Once I heard his speech, I knew that this man was destined for something BIG. He is passionate about bringing about change to his community, and he moves to educate his people. With this passion, he has built a team of likeminded individuals who really work for the advancement of our people. To see how far he has come is truly amazing, and it is without a shadow of a doubt that he is a Man on The Rise. Sidebar: I keep telling y’all Morgan State University breeds excellence!

2. Anthony Lampkin (@thomasj_)

Born Anthony Thomas-James Lampkin, Thomas J., 28, is an American media personality, talent manager, creative director, and event planner. He is the founder and CEO of THOMAS J. LIVE™ Entertainment, A&R Director at Hunter Management and works as a production and artist relations assistant at ScoreMore Shows. His work has been featured on Spotify, and BET, and he has worked with some of the biggest names in music like: Rick Ross, J. Cole, Megan Thee Stallion, and Da Baby; among others.

In 2012, Thomas J. was appointed the Director of Special Events, at Morgan State University, where he began organizing concerts, showcases, conferences, and large-scale events. In 2014, launched his Thomas J. LIVE brand and in the same year, he joined WEAA 88.9 as an associate producer, and on-air talent of the longest running hip-hop radio show in the state of Maryland, Strictly Hip-Hop. In 2015, he relocated to North Carolina, and began work as an educator. There he oversaw cultural and social programs for over 1,600 students, and in 2018, he won the Blue Diamond Award for Business Impact Non-Profit, as part of a joint effort between Queens University’s Knight School of Communication and Digital Charlotte.

His life revolves around music and culture. He frequently publishes playlists and writes on his music, culture and lifestyle blog The T(hought). Most recently, he became the general manager for Projex Santana, an emerging R&B singer-songwriter from PG County, Maryland.

Since February of 2019, Thomas J. has worked the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend, the inaugural Dreamville Festival, the 2019 Neon Desert Music Festival, the 2019 Mala Luna Music Festival; Rap Caviar’s House Party featuring Da Baby. Thomas J. is a graduate of Connecticut School of Broadcasting, and a proud alumnus of Morgan State University. He currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

Anthony is a Man on the Rise because he embodies the spirit of entertainment. Since I met Anthony my freshman year of college, he is someone I could never forget. He is UNAPOLOGETICALLY himself (I say this with emphasis, because if you know Anthony, then you KNOW) and because of it, he is respected. Aside from his outgoing “life-of-the-party” personality, he is a hard worker! He works tirelessly to provide a quality entertainment experience. Aside from his work in music, he is an event host, and I assure you, he brings any event he hosts alive. I can’t wait for you all to take part in the ThomasJ experience!

3. Tosin Gbadamosi (@tosinshotit)

Oluwatosin Gbadamosi is a third year undergrad student currently studying Multimedia. Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, he moved to the U.S. with his family in 2004, and moved to Maryland in 2008.

Tosin’s interest for photography sparked in March of 2017, when he purchased an iPhone 7, and started taking pictures with portrait mode. He initially did it for fun, but as he took more pictures, he developed a passion for it. A year later, he bought his first camera, a Nikon D5600, and officially started his photography journey. Initially he barely received any sort of recognition for his work, but he kept going. After a while, he started to pick up the pace for his shoots and began posting his work on social media.

His social media platform slowly started to grow. His first viral photoshoot happened back in August, and it consisted of a pool scene featuring two of his friends. Ever since, his media presence has grown drastically, and every shoot that he has posted on social media has been receiving thousands of likes and retweets. He hopes to continue to pursue photography as an official career and eventually have his work reach the likes of vogue, xxl, time magazine, and other major magazine companies!

Tosin is a Man on The Rise because in a short period of time, he has mastered his craft, and created a beautiful body of work. When I first saw his work, I was really shook. It was so beautiful, and vibrant, and the image made you feel like you were there. As a creative, I can say his work is an experience, and it has a major wow factor. I urge everyone to take a look at his work and have this experience for themselves!

4. Richard Lucas (@richardlucasiii)

Richard Lucas III was born on April 23rd in Buffalo, New York. Richard attended Bowie State University where he received a Bachelor’s degree in History and Government.  At Bowie State University, Richard was an active and involved student. He was initiated into, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc where he served as Chapter President. He also had the privilege to serve as President of The Student Government Association. Additionally, Richard participated in the Congressional Black Caucus Emerging Leaders Program focused on preparing the next leaders of American in public policy. 

A budding writer and speaker, Richard articles “Twas the Night before Christmas; Spending Christmas Eve Homeless” and “The State vs. HBCUs” have been published by national outlets such as the Baltimore Sun.  Moreover, he has been honored to grace multiple speaking platforms at many colleges, conferences, high schools, and churches. 

While at Yale University, Richard was the William Sloane Coffin Fellow. This full scholarship award is given to one student in every incoming class that demonstrates Coffin’s prophetic leadership, his passion for social justice, and his critical theological interpretation of the social and political scene.  Moreover, Richard worked at the Dwight Hall Center for Social Justice at Yale University as the Magee Fellow focusing on the intersection of religion, self-reflection, and social justice. Lastly, Richard was chosen to attend the prestigious James Lawson Institute, a strategic direct-action organization that seeks to apply scholarly and practitioner knowledge of civil disobedience to the political scene. Currently, Richard is a professor at Bowie State University an where he teaches religion and philosophy courses.

Richard aspires to be a teacher for freedom, believing in the radical power of social justice literacy to transform hearts, minds, communities, policies, and the world.

When I first moved to Maryland back in 2010, I remember walking in the hallway and seeing a kid dressed in a full blown suit (mind you, we wore uniform). He spoke with such confidence, and great diction, and it was then I knew…this man is going to be someone great. Richard is one of those individuals who you know are special. He can thrive in any environment, and his intellect draws you to him. He has always had a passion for advancing his community and working to educate people. It’s amazing to see how everything he spoke of, he has now manifested. I am so proud to be witnessing this journey and I can’t wait for you all to finally witness it too.

5. Chef Hakeem (@chefkeem)

Executive Chef Hakeem was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA with his mother and little brother. Hakeem was accepted into a high school – trade school in Wilmington DE, where studied both the high school curriculum, as well as matriculated through a rigorous culinary arts program. Falling in love with culinary arts and the many possibilities the industry presented, Hakeem graduated top of his class. He attended Morgan State University and earned a B.S in Hospitality Management, with a minor in Marketing.

During this time, Hakeem found his path in life. As a natural born leader he co-founded a nonprofit organization at 20 years old. Strong Men Overcoming Obstacles Through Hard-work Inc., (SMOOTH) an all male, community service and mentorship based organization. This gave Hakeem the platform to help his peers and underclassmen in many ways, but most importantly finding their purpose. Through different culinary activities such as cooking classes, private organization dinners, and even pop up restaurants, Hakeem showed how to incorporate a passion and a life calling. 

After graduation, Hakeem worked in the corporate hospitality industry bouncing around from managerial positions trying to find his footing. In 2014, he landed his dream position with a Maryland based food management company. In 2017 Hakeem and the other managerial staff were let go due to a mindless error from a hourly staff member. It was this moment that sparked the idea to create an DinnerClub Hospitality LLC, The premiere Hospitality Platform. 

DinnerClub is the innovative and pioneering Catering business with aspirations of evolving into a virtual restaurant and more. “ChefKeem’s” unmatched catering experience has allowed him and his team to cater or personally cook for clients such as Meek Mill, Nipsey Hussle, Wiz Khalifa, YBN Cordae, Shy Glizzy, Dreezy, 2 Chainz, Young Dolph, and Cassanova. He has also cooked for other big names such as Kevin Blackestone, Roger Mason JR, Baltimore’s Top Radio Company 92Q, NFL Player Mark Ingram, Author Dawn West. 

Hakeem is a Man on The Rise because he made his passion his purpose. He is thriving in an industry that is rare for black men to flourish. Through the love of culinary arts, he has opened so many doors for himself and others. His leadership skills allowed him to start one of the most notable orgs on Morgan State’s campus. Not to mention, his food is actually bomb! Like reallllllyyyy bomb.

6.Aziz and Hassan Sanusi (@__sunkanmi @oladi.two)

Nigerian American twins, Aziz and Hassan Sanusi were born in Baltimore MD. They are co-owners/cohosts of Breaking Bread TV, a weekly pop culture podcast with which they provide a platform for millennial creatives in the DMV. Their motto “Everybody eats” is the drive behind their podcast. They believe, “You’re only as successful as the number of people you’ve made successful”, and the dynamic duo do their best to make sure that no one gets left behind. “Let’s Break Bread.”

They aspire to connect the world of visionaries one conversation at a time. Each episode feels like they gain family. They see Bread TV as a multimedia production company, that brings all manners of creative projects to life while empowering the underdogs. The best exchange of culture, conversation, and creation all happen over food. That exchange is Breaking Bread. 

I can honestly say I genuinely bang with this duo These Twins are Men on the Rise because they are not afraid to be them, and show love while doing so. In today’s society, it’s rare for people to show genuine love, or even put other people on. These to do so with no issue. I got hip to them literally a few weeks ago, and I was hooked ever since. Their podcast makes me feel like I know them, and the level of relatability is just there. It’s so refreshing and authentic. They’re two dope easy going dudes who just do them and thrive in the lane they created! They don’t have to try too hard, they just got it. If you don’t do anything else today, tap into their podcasts and take a listen. I promise you will not regret it.

7. Daniel Olumese (@alllwild)

Daniel Olumese is a 24 year old up and coming artist from Largo, Maryland. Dan has been making music seriously since about 2012, but his love of music has been there since as long as he can remember. At 3 years old, he would carry around Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits VHS so he could watch it wherever he went. Growing up, music would be on in the house constantly and it always grabbed attention of Daniel and his brother. They would take up their Saturday mornings listening to music and writing lyrics. This helped groom his love for the art from a very young age.

He wrote songs, but growing up in a Nigerian household, he knew that dream would not be supported at all, but towards the end of his time in high school, some friends he grew up with started a rap group. He heard their work and was inspired. He asked if he could join and he was welcomed with open arms. 3rdiiiuth became the talk of their high school. The group was making big moves, but they began to drift away due to college approaching. They wanted focus on things they thought were “more realistic goals”.

Dan went on to study Accounting at Morgan State University where he later received his Bachelors. While getting his education, he always told himself once he got out of school, he would pursue music more seriously, and he would do it while working his 9 to 5. And that is exactly what he did. In 2018, he rebranded myself as Alllwild (formerly “Lume”), where the three L’s stand for Living through Lessons Learned, because he believes that because of what he has learned from his experiences, he cannot be stopped. He dropped his debut project Volume 1 in September of 2018 and in January of 2019 he won 93.9 WKYS’s Versus Challenge.

Dan is a Man on The Rise because of his growth not only as a person but as an artist. His freshman year, he barely spoke of his music. If so, it was short and faint. To witness his growth and this AMAZING project he just released, I am presssseddd. Pressed because he is actually talented. I’m not speaking from a biased pov, but this man is truly gifted. His lyrics are so real, his songs resonate with you, and his first visual…..everything. In addition to his musical talent, he is dominating corporate America. Dan is legit the man.

8. Joseph “Joey” Adeoye (@joeyog_)

Joey Adeoye, a DMV native, is the former CEO of JoTronics Repairs (JTR), Electronic repair business. He operated this business from 2013 to 2018, until he decided to leave the DMV to pursue his dream and work for one of the best Tech Companies in the world, Google. He currently works as an IT Engineer.

Joey is a graduate of Prince George’s Community College, where he doubled majored and earned his Associate’s in Information Technology and Computer Engineering Technology. He later went on to graduate from Towson University, where he earned his Bachelors degree in Information Technology. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Information Technology with a specialization in Project Management. His life is all about technology, but also business. He is a Brother of the oldest and largest professional business Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi. 

His love for Tech and Business stemmed from being the only boy amongst 4 beautiful girls. Since he had no one to play with, he was automatically drawn to every electronic around him. At the age of 5, he competently operated his first computer. At the age of 7, he learned how to fix most of common the issues and all his family members always looked to him for help.

In addition to JoTronics Repairs being his passion, it gave him a strong foundation to secure IT jobs and internships that helped propel him faster in life. At the end of the day, his mission is to give back, help others, and never forget the people and opportunities that made him. He enjoys mentorship, public speaking, and planning his annual Genuine Happiness community service events that he began in 2017, primarily serving the less fortunate in DC. 

Joey is a Man on The Rise because he is about his business. I’ve known him for his work in tech, but to see how he harnessed his talent and paved away from himself, its great. It sets him apart, and him being such a selfless person makes him that much better. Google is lucky to have someone like him, and its great seeing him happy doing what he does. I just love seeing Nigerian kids flourishing in fields they truly love!

9. Haneef Hardy (@kinghardy___)

25 year-old, Haneef Hardy is someone who lives by the motto “Be who you needed when you were younger”. At the start of his adolescent years in West Philadelphia, things took a devastating turn in his lifestyle. He seemingly went from some of the best days of his childhood to the worst. His life initially consisted of a happy home with two parents – and instantly switched to no home and no guardian. 

Haneef uses his unconventional past as motivation to help him inspire and help lead people to reaching their unlimited potential. Unlimited Potential is the name of the mentoring program Haneef founded here in Baltimore 2 years ago. His main goal is to uplift and inspire the King and Queen in everyone.

Haneef made his way to Baltimore via a track and field scholarship to Morgan State University in 2014. After getting his bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Haneef started substitute teaching, which then led to a permanent position at Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy. After those initial interactions with the kids substitute teaching, Haneef realized his destiny.

He saw himself in a lot of his students. His upbringing wasn’t’ the best which is why he related to them. at a point in his life, he grew up homeless, but a Woman named Cherly Hardy, his behavior specialist in school, came along and took after him. She later introduced him to her son Brian, and he saw the need for stability Haneef’s life and decided to adopted him. To pay tribute to these amazing people, Haneef now does everything he can to be that same blessing to as many young people as he can. His mentoring program has impacted the lives of those apart of it, and he believes that his path is to make difference not only in his classroom, but in the community.

Haneef’s bio was probably the hardest to write, because I was trying to capture the essence of his story in so little words. His story is so moving, and after getting to know it you’ll under why he is truly a Man on The Rise. He uses his pain and struggles to help the students he comes across. Instead of write that “bad” student off, he understands them and uses his mentoring program to cater to their needs. He is one of those people the child in us needed when we were younger. I really want all of my readers to hear his story, and support and uplift him as he is making strides to help the youth, and the Baltimore community as a whole.

10. Donte M. Dixon (@___d1xon)

Donte M. Dixon, a first generation college graduate and Forbes 30 under 30 class member, hails from Baltimore, MD. He is a graduate of Morgan State University where he received his Bachelors of Science in Finance. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Business Administration from the Graves School of Business.

As a young man from an economically challenged household and community in West Baltimore, he has attacked goals through life that aim to break educational, social, and socioeconomic barriers. As a resource for knowledge, education, and mentorship, he seeks to empower those with the entrepreneurial spirit, and motivation to push the limits of their success. He does this through hosting and directing finance and investment sessions throughout Baltimore City, from Elementary levels to College. 

While teaching practical skills in session, he also imparts living knowledge and wisdom to provide substance by sharing his successes and pitfalls sustained along his journey. Through his story, and the story of others, he hopes to lend new knowledge, perspective and understanding of the process of Generational success stories. He currently has plans in development for an Urban Business space where our community can work to provide a supportive ecosystem that is sustainable mindfully, socially and economically. He currently works as a Morgan Stanley Operations Specialist.

Donte is a Man on The Rise because he works actively to spread knowledge on financial literacy and awareness to his community. He wants us all to thrive, and he expounds upon the important of generational wealth. As someone whose been in the struggle, he’s speaking from experience, and he is so genuine and passionate about what he does. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge on Financial literacy, this is the man to go to.

11. Malik Whatley (@malikthepharaoh)

Malik is currently a student at the University of Baltimore finishing up his Publication Design master’s program. Hailing from Landover, Maryland, Malik discovered his love of art while a freshman at Central High School. With technology constantly changing,  he was inspired by one of his high school teachers to try his hand at graphic design. He fell in love with graphic design and never looked back. In December of 2016, he graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design. While at Morgan State, Malik was a designer for the Student Government Association and designed flyers for multiple organizations on campus. 

Since graduating, Malik has held the title of Creative Director for his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. He has also become the head designer for Mimosa City ™️ and the clothing brand Self Society Worldwide, both founded by his fellow Morganites.

Malik is a Man on the Rise because his creativity sets him above the rest. Since undergrad, Malik’s body of work has always been impressive. I have always admired his creativity. You give Malik an idea, and the way he brings it to life….it’s crazy! He uses his talent to help brands bring their ideas to life, and I am in awe of his raw talent. If you need any type of graphics, Malik is your guy. I promise you won’t regret it!

12. Eric Murchinson (@ericm.jr)

Eric Murchison Jr was born and raised in West Baltimore, Maryland. Knowing the struggle that comes with growing up in an underprivileged community, this pushed Eric to strive for success. He always knew education was his way to that. He is a graduate of Morgan State University, where he received his Bachelors degree in Finance. He is currently a student at the Harvard School of Business online program with a concentration in contract negotiations.

Eric is a brother of Beta Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Inc. He has a passion for mentoring and uplifting his community. This passion allowed for him to have many achievements such as: Forbes Under 30 2018 Fellow, a Yale University Emerging Leaders Class Of 2019, and a student of the summer 2019 class of the Charles Hamilton Houston Law School program, which was held at Georgetown Law School. Eric is a prospective law student for the Fall of 2020. 

In 2018 Eric launched a networking event company called Millennials Connect . It’s a company geared towards helping millennials increase their network through social events. Eric is also the founder of the Eric Murchison Jr leadership academy. His leadership academy was created in order to teach young males from Baltimore important leadership skills in order to succeed in life.

Eric is a Man on The Rise because of his passion for uplifting his community and dedication in turning his dreams into reality. Despite his humble beginnings Eric continues to defy the odds that were set against him through his hard work and dedication.  Eric’s favorite quote “ it’s not about where you come from, it’s about where you’re going”. He truly is a dedicated change maker, and I personally have been inspired by his journey!

13. Eugene Maddy (@getboxed)

Eugene’s philosophy is “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”— Paul Caponigro

Eugene Denzel Maddy is a Portrait photographer located in the Maryland area. Coming from a Sierra Leonean upbringing, Eugene tends to focus on capturing the beauty of various cultures through his work. Using warm tones and vibrant colors, it has allowed him to bring out the best in people. He has a keen interest in learning about a wide variety cultures through his lens.

He takes photos because he throughly enjoys it. He loves the creative process, and how it helps us connect to other people, and appreciates the sense of community it builds.Eugene embodies all of these things and more, you can see the progression in every photo putting in time, effort and love.

Eugene is a Man on The Rise because he really captures the essence of his subjects through his sense. He really does have an appreciation for other cultures, and you can see it through his work. He is the mastermind behind many of the photos you see from DMV creatives. I appreciate the art he produces, and I respect the artist in him.

14. Quodarrius Toney @(__dr.q)

Quodarrius was born and raised in Memphis Tennessee. He is a graduate of  Howard University and is a prospective graduate of Howard University College of Dentistry Class of 2021 D.D.S. He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. He is currently pursuing a career in Cosmetic Dentistry!

He chose dentistry because he is a strong advocate of self-agency. He always believed that if there was anything about his life that he did not like, it was his responsibility to work towards changing it. Recognizing that he had the ability to improve himself filled him with the desire to catalyze that transformation in others. He strives to be a catalyst for change in others’ lives. It is his personal belief in the power of reformation that lead him to seek a career in Cosmetic Dentistry. He believes this carrier will allow him to exercise his passion and provide others with the tools to reform their oral health and aesthetics.  He believes through dentistry, he has found his purpose.

“Dr. Q”, is a Man on The Rise because I admire his passion for change not only in his personal life, but in the lives of his patients. He works tirelessly to provide them with a smile that is sure to transform them. He is passionate about dentistry, and he has made it a goal that he is about to reach. As someone in aspiring to enter into the medical field, it is really a sight to see. He has worked to build a brand, and he has made it all look fun while doing so!

Men on the Rise: DMV Edition

By now, y’all should know, DMV is the place to be! For the past few blogs I have been highlighting amazing women in the DM, but I wanted to switch things up and appreciate our men. Men that are from (or reside) in the DMV are different from the men everywhere else. They are truly one of a kind. The way they talk, act, and dress….they’re just different. In addition to all this, these men are some of the most hardworking and dedicated men I’ve come across. Their determination and hustle sets them apart from everyone else. With that being said, here are some Men on the Rise: DMV Edition.

1. Chidozie Onyima (@starschi_nhutch)

Mr. Chidozie Onyima is currently a third year, Doctor of Pharmacy candidate at Howard University College of Pharmacy. He is Nigerian, and native of Prince George’s County, MD. He graduated from Bowie State University in December 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology. At Bowie State, he and two of his classmates founded the HPV Youth Ambassador program. This is an initiative to raise the third dosage of the HPV vaccine in the Washington, D.C. area before new protocols for the vaccine were rolled out in 2018. This initiative has partnered with the D.C. Dept. of Health and DCPS. While at Howard he has participated in a number of organizations on campus, such as the Industry Pharmacists Organization, where he gained exposure to the pharmaceutical Industry.

One of his main interests is in the Commercial/Marketing functional area of Big Pharma. He believes that he can be able to make a difference in patient care process by exposing doctors and healthcare networks to the proper tools needed for optimal patient care. Pharmacy is not the only realm where Chidozie is passionate about, he also has a love for fitness and loves to help people attain their personal fitness goals. He recently started Personal training through his business– Doz of Fitness. Upon completion of his doctorate program, Chidozie hopes to use both of his passions as a vehicle to help individuals live healthy lives.

Chidozie is a Man on The Rise because he is living out his passion while making a difference. By now you all know, as an African, medicine is the preferred way for us to go, and we are often pressured to pursue. While some succumb to the pressure and do it despite not having a passion for it, for Chidozie, this had nothing to do with pressure. This was something he truly wanted, and he is making it happen. It’s truly inspiring to me, because it is beyond medicine for him. It’s the patients he helps, or the people he is inspiring to live better lifestyles. Pharmacy is just the beginning. He is just starting to take the world by storm.

2.David “Davyj” Abraham (@davyjthevirgo)

David (DavyJTheVirgo) Abraham is the CEO of The Lunch Table Blog Show LLC. He is originally from….., and a graduate of Towson University. During his junior year, he started TLT. He decided to start the show due to the fact that he couldn’t find a job as a TV host because he didn’t have any experience. Thus TLT was born. As he grew, he saw that many other people shared the same passion for media as he did. As a result he branched the organization to other colleges and universities in the DMV, and now PA! He is also a part time DJ, and motivational speaker. He currently works at Yelp DC as an account executive.

David is a Man on the Rise because instead of complaining about not having a seat at the table, he made his own! In creating TLT, not only did he give himself an outlet to express his passion for media, he gave others to do the same as well. He’s hardworking and serious about his craft, and that I commend. This is truly the beginning of a mogul!

photo by @getboxed

3. Emmanuel Zamba (@iamzamba)

Emmanuel Zamba, better known as “Zamba” was born and raised in the DMV, and is a first generation American in a Nigerian home. He began rapping in October 2009 as a past time, but it quickly became a passion once people began to gravitate towards his sound, and his flow.

Growing up he listened to R&B and the soulful sounds of Jodeci which influence him to this day. He would take the same topics and ideas from their music, and make it his own. Zamba is inspired by staying true to himself, and rapping about his insecurities to help others build on their own. Being the people person that he is, he enjoys entertaining and making people feel happy in general, whether it is through his lyrics, or his presence as a whole. Although his music has a lot of versatility, each song will still have a message regardless of the genre.

He wants his supporters to be able to relate to mistakes and understand that they are just lessons learned at the end of the day. He has performed over 100 times at several different places including A3C Music Festival, Howard theater, and  Filmore Silver Spring, . Zamba’s other interests include reading, writing treatments for videos, and listening to interviews to build and obtain information.

Emmanuel is a Man on the Rise because he IS music. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s been about his music and perfecting his craft. Seeing him firsthand in the studio was truly inspiring to me, and it pushed me to push for my passion just as much as he pushes for his. His talent speaks for itself, and his authenticity just takes it to another level. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Emmanuel is going far.

photo by @earlthephotographer

4. Tarrance “Vonchase” Taylor @djvonchase

A Brooklyn, NY native, Tarrance grew up of West Indian and Midwest descent. He has had a history of music aptitude, originally being in various bands and chorus’ through his adolescent years. At the age of 17, he was accepted into Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD, where he graduated with a B.S. in Radio and Audio Production. Now 26, he has become one of the fastest Rising DJs in the DMV area.

Tarrance started DJing in September 2015 under the tutelage of prominent DJs in the DMV area, as a result “VonChase” was born. He was able to quickly rise through the ranks, hosting and DJing some of the biggest events in the state of Maryland, some in excess of 2500 people. He most recently was able to DJ in St. Lucia, Mykonos, Greece, Ibiza, Spain and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as well as spin for artists such as Cardi B, PNB Rock, Yo Gotti and many others. He is currently a DJ for HaywireWeekend.com as well as a freelance Dj in the DMV area.

He also is the Curator of MimosaCity™️, a Brunch and Day experience that has housed 3,500 guests thus far. MimosaCity™️ has traveled to Washington, DC, NYC, Jamaica, and is rounding out with Philadelphia to end the year.
VonCHASE has no plans on stopping his takeover anytime soon.

Now, many may say I’m biased because Tarrance is my best friend, but when I say he is a Man on the Rise, I mean it 1,00000%. He is one of THE most hardest working Djs. I remember when he first wanted to start djing, and to where he is now, it is truly amazing to witness. He worked hard and created a lane for himself, not only on the Dj scene, but with his Mimosa City events. The Vonchase experience is truly like no other. I am truly proud of him, and I can’t wait for you all to see the heat he’s got coming!

5. Oluwatobi Odukoya (@heytobs)

Tobi, popularly known as Heytobs, is the CEO of Heytobs Photography. Hailing from Maryland, his passion for photography started in middle school. He had a desire to own a camera and capture moments of anything and everything. His big sister (shoutout to her because she helped birth the GOAT) purchased HIM a Nikon coolpix L110 for Christmas. His passion only progressed from there. 

He aspires to have his images seen across the world. He wants his images to grasp his viewer’s attention through angles, contrast, and vibrance. 
His style is pretty unorthodox from the normal Fashion/Editorial photographer, and you can see it through his images. He’s a huge fan of taking images from various angles so that the visuals can be viewed in more than one way.

Tobi is a Man on the Rise because he truly embodies the art of photography. From middle school, he never gave up his passion. Instead he used it to create art, and allow every person in front of his camera to feel beautiful. He doesn’t just capture photos, he captures moments that are timeless, and will have you in awe. I personally cannot wait to get in front of his camera! He is a household name in the DMV, and he is knows for his amazing work. I look at his photos and I’m just shook because of how amazing they are. If you weren’t hip before, get hip now. Tobi is the photographer to know!

6.Olalekan Adepegba (@loeadde)

Olalekan Adepegba, better known as LOE or LOE Addé is a first generation Nigerian-American artist born in Washington, DC and raised mainly in both Brooklyn, New York and Maryland. In between those cities, he fell in love with the creation of music when his single mother had moved both him and his brother to Chicago, IL for some time. Prior to that move that later shaped his love for music, He was quite interested in writing lyrics after witnessing multiple lunch table freestyle sessions. Music has proved to be an outlet for him. In his music, he talks about real life experiences that any listener can relate to. His smooth flow, and image-provoking lyrics sets him apart from the rest. He recently dropped his “AHKIE” music video, which has been getting some great buzz. Check it out and subscribe to his Youtube Channel “Loe Adde”!

Loe is a Man on The Rise because his music is real. He speaks from the heart, and does not try to be like anyone else. He is who he is, and you feel him in his music. Despite having to take a break, he worked on his craft and came back blazing. His music has personally resonated with me and I am thankful we have the gift that is Loe!

7. Adiza “Aj” Jatto (@guidedhands)

Adeiza Jatto, mainly known as AJ, is a first generation Nigerian-American. He grew up playing drums in his church choir (CAC). His first exposure to cutting hair was at 12 years old when his mom refused to “waste” money on haircuts anymore (LOL such an African mom comment). She got him his first pair of clippers and he began cutting his hair and his younger brothers hair. Through the years up until college, he continued to cut hair. It was mainly a hobby and a way to sustain hiself, but God was preparing him for his career. He would cut hair between classes, on the weekends and in his house back home.

After he graduated college, he realized that he had grown a business with consistent clientele. He decided to pursue barbering instead of computers (he studied computer science) because of the flexibility, freedom, passion, and the ability to work for himself. Four years later, he is now 26 and has grown his business to 6-figure annual revenue. He has expanded to catering towards women hair services. He has worked with Adidas, Wizkid, Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, The Source Magazine and Sarz.

Adeiza is a Man on the Rise because he has taken the art of barbering to a whole entirely different level. He has changed the face of barbering single handedly. From his precise and quality cuts, to the content he creates from his work, he is a trendsetter. He has turned a simply hobby into a full time business, and he has found a creative way to present his work to the world. He is known for his transformation videos, and it literally gives me life. He offers classes to anyone that is wiling to invest in their skill, where he provides the step-by-step process in coloring, cutting, and styling. He has already achieved so much, so its going to be amazing to see what he does next!

8. Eddie Musa (@musamajic)

Eddie is a host, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. He created a  digital TV agency called MusaMajicTV. MMTV produces film and television content as well as client video packages. In the past two years, they have created a webseries, and 4 short films. One of their goals as a company is to get hundreds of black creators’ films, shows, and podcasts produced. MusaMajicTV also produces high quality Special Events. Make Sure to check them out on MusaMajicTV.com

Eddie is a man on the rise because he is one person I know that has stayed true to his dream. Just like many others on this list, he used his passion to create a lane for himself and others alike. While in college, filmmaking was something everyone know he was serious about. He often uses his friends in his work, and I think it is so dope. In addition to him being ridiculously funny, Eddie’s presence is felt when he enters the room. Watching him grind and go after his dream is something I can say makes me very proud. His talent speaks for itself, and it is that same talent that will take him very far.

9. Jeffrey Addo (@jaddo301)

 J.Addo Is A 27 Year Old artist from Silver Spring, Maryland by way of Ghana, West Africa. He has been recently taking the world by storm and is only continuing to grow his fanbase. He has been making music since 2010, but he took a four year break to finish college. J.Addo returned in 2019 with a very strong comeback and has been seen On BET, MTV, The Shaderoom, Fox News, ABC, CBS. Daily Mail and many more. He released a brand new music video in July entitled “Right Now”, which premiered on BET Networks. He also dropped a follow-up single entitled “Only One” Feat. Bou. Be sure to check him out on all social media and music platforms!

Jeffrey is a man on the rise because he didn’t give up. He took a break to finish school, but he was right back on it. When he came back, he came back with something to prove. His music has opened doors for him and is changing his life in ways unimaginable. The great thing about this is, he’s just getting started!

10. Shawn Elliot (@sosaog)

Established in 2017,BE SAFE BE DANGEROUS, was founded by Shawn “Sosa” Elliott. Headquarted in Washington D.C., BE SAFE BE DANGEROUS, began as a concept by a young man who wanted to make a create clothes that served as an accurate representation of who they he is and what he stands for.

As a result of Shawn and his creative mind, BE SAFE, BE DANGEROUS (BSBD) is a lifestyle brand, that uniquely positions itself between the gap of streetwear and contemporary fashion. BSBD’S mission is to deliver quality materials that are both unique, and affordable.

In a world where clothing lines are constantly seeking validation by hype and exclusivity, Founder, Sosa is committed to authenticity, with options available for all people.

Shawn is a Man on the Rise because he has created not only a fashion brand, but a movement that can ultimately move the culture forward. His pieces are authentic, and he stays completely true to who he is. His work is made to resonate with people who are from all spectrums of individuality, and that we STAN.

photo by heytobs

11. Rodney Sawyer (@rodreclusive)

Since a very young age, Rodney was always into art and fashion. He loved expressing himself without speaking. He felt that it was dope how one could convey a message and share information without having to say anything at all. Conforming is something he did not want to do, but in his words he “played it safe”. That was until he attended UMES. It was while attending, that his fashion was completely “unlocked”. His journey began with something as simple as getting dressed, taking pictures, and posting them on Instagram. Little did he know, this would catapult him into his passion.

He was later introduced to “Tumblr” by a friend of his, and he would take his photos and submit them to a popular blog page. Within weeks, he became tumblr famous. He saw the impact he had and he wanted to do something with it. A month later he began creative directing his own photoshoots. He was also modeling at his school, this allowed him to consistently style, model, and direct shoots. His Sophomore year, his first brand “The Outsiders” was born. Since then, his brand has elevated and improved.

Fast Forward to a few years later, he transferred to Morgan State University where his stock instantly went up. Campus got word of his talents, and his name spread. This gave him the opportunity to work with other universities, and he sold out his first two collections within two weeks. Recently he collaborated with his good friend Justus Samaiye, and together they launched “MOLOWO”. He currently serves as the CMO. Through MOLOWO, they launched a huge collection entitled “Reclusively Exclusive”, which allowed them to curate their own NYFW pop-up shop. Since then, they have been able to get their clothing in stores in New York, and he has received overwhelming success from different avenues.

Rodney is a man on the Rise because like a lot of people, fashion is his purpose, but he takes it beyond that. He is not just the “fly fashion guy”, but he is a jack of all trades. From modeling to directive and designing, he does it all. He often refers to himself as a Renaissance man, and I couldn’t agree more. He is a true artist, and his realms of creativity surpass anything I’ve ever seen.

12. Jonathan Williams (@dubbempire)

Hailing from Washington D.C., Jonathan grew up in sports all his life. Sports helped him develop discipline, time management and work ethic. He took those skills to Morgan State University in which he majored in Broadcasting and Integrated media. Throughout his matriculation through college, he managed to be apart SGA, Smooth Org, ABC Modeling and he a member of Kappa Alpha Psi.

He started his own business called Dubbempire a year prior to graduating, because he was tired of not being able to get the jobs he wanted in his field due to lack of experience, therefore he created his own experience. Today, he is now pursuing his dreams as a Director and Videographer. He started an internship called Dubbempire Academy, which is an accredited internship program catered to creative college students.The program is to help students become better in their craft, build their portfolio and network with other creatives on campus, which will prepare them for life after college. He soon hopes to be able to employ those students who complete the program. He plans on creating a powerhouse production team, while creating jobs and opportunities for creatives just like himself. He wants to get into film to create meaningful visuals that will inspire and motivate his peers. He looks up to people like Tyler Perry and other influential creatives like Spike Lee and Jakob Owens.

J. Dubb is a Man on the Rise because his he has come a long way in his art, and he’s not even close to being done. I have personally witness his growth as a Director, and it really shook me. If you know Johnathan personally, you know he is always on joke time, but when it comes to his art he transforms. He is so serious about his business, and he makes sure to provide the upmost quality content. It is encouraging to see he is creating and providing opportunities not only for himself, but for younger ones as well. I’m honestly so proud of him, and I’m anticipating the great heights he’s going to reach!

13. Shomari Brooks (@marithegod)

Shomari comes from an extremely artistic background. Dancers, musicians, actors, poets, are the creatives that make up his family. His talents were always the more tangible arts, such as drawing and building. He honed in on these skills in his younger years, but he always had a passion for business and making money. This passion unfortunately led him down the wrong paths in my late teenage years and impaired his progression facing felony charges and jail time. With the help of his family, he turned that all around and refocused his two passions; art and business while attending Morgan State University.

 He wanted to create something for people that they would pay him for, and he somehow landed on jewelry. It was an interest he never knew he had until the first time it crossed his mind. His grandfather is an African priest and has been a master bead maker for decades, he believes this may have rubbed off on him. This led to the birth of “Prestige Republic“, which is an affordable brand of premium jewelry. As this company became popular, he was naturally interested in more. So he began to look into real gold and diamonds.

He was immediately hooked on the idea of turning molten gold into custom lifetime masterpieces. Despite the barriers of entering into the fine jewelry industry and there not being many black jewelers, Shomari wanted to change this. Through long and extensive research he earned just enough to meet who he needed to get the ball rolling on his newest company, “District Diamonds“. They have now sold a large amount of fine jewelry since launching last year.

He aims to continue his jewelry legacy for generations to come. In addition to jewelry, he has also ventured into the real estate world. He is working on his realtor’s license and will be launching the “Brooks & Co. Venture Group” very soon for real estate investment and related projects. He hopes to share his story and mentor young men like myself.

Shomari is a man on the rise because I can honestly say he embodies the word hustle. He is a hard worker who goes after what he wants. He is confident in who he is and his abilities and you can see it in his work. He provides quality and clean cut jewelry, and his pieces elevate any look. He has always been about his business and leaving a legacy, so to see this come full circle is pretty moving! I’m going to go ahead and plug him in, if y’all need custom quality jewelry head over to District Diamonds and get your pieces today!

Women on the Rise: DMV Edition Pt. 2

As I have mentioned before, the DMV is the place to be. It is an area where black professional millennials reside, and thrive. Not only are the men doing their thing, but the women who are sure changing the game. In part 1, I highlighted some amazing, and phenomenal women. There were so many great women doing the damn thing…I had to come back with another one! So here we are again….Women on the Rise: DMV Edition Pt. 2

1. The Nicole Briana (@thenicolebriana)

Nicole Briana is currently an Internet Radio Personality, Social Media Manager and Event Curator in the DMV. 

Nicole’s passion for communications has grown more through her experience with social media, marketing, and branding. Her background and experience in social media management for both small and large brands is what allows Nicole to see such success when working with a range of clients.

Nicole is currently running her Social-Me Digital Marketing company that works on growing brands recognition both online and in person. Nicole works with brands through workshops, masterclasses and managing day to day social media accounts. 

She is also a freelance radio host working with a variety of platforms such as 1500 radio, Shoe City radio and DTLR Radio. Her hosting’s range from workshops to facilitate networking events, speaking on panels, and hosting social events.

She is a woman on the rise because she’s a boss that is determined to make her dream come true. I met Briana a few years ago while we were both on the Black and Gold Royal Court at our schools, since then she has stood out. She is a go getter. She has a vision, and she follows through with it. This can been seen in her her workout journey (her body is bomb), her companies, and who she is as a person. She inspired me to create a lane and dominate it. She teaches me to put my shyness and fear aside and go after what I want, all while being me.

2. Yetunde Oriola (@yetunchi)

Yetunde Oriola is a 24 year old beauty-boss from Prince George’s County, MD. She has been a makeup artist for 6 years. She specializes in photoshoots, video, bridal makeup, special events makeup artistry, and makeup classes. She realized her love of makeup and beauty at the age of 16. Once she started college at Morgan State University, she found her drive to push forward and pursue makeup artistry seriously. My sis also has a Beauty Line called Beatbyye Beauty. She has so many upcoming things in store for 2020. She attained her degree in Public Relations from Morgan State and she applies it to Beatbyye daily, but she plans on getting into the PR industry in a big way next year and she’s excited to show everyone what she has in store!

Yetunde is a woman on the rise because she literally loves watch she does and she does whatever in her power to take it to the next level. She is the definition of investing in yourself. She has invested into her business and has used it to enhance every client that sits in her chair. You sit in her chair and you come out feeling like a new woman! Not only does she care about her business, but she cares about each and every client she comes across. When you sit in her chair, I promise…you’re in for a good time!

3. Anuoluwapo “Liz” James (@lizlenses)

Anuoluwapo “Liz Lenses” James was born and raised in Prince George’s County ,Maryland. She is a 24 year old first generation Nigerian. She received her B.A in Public Relations, Advertising, and Media Sales, and she is currently getting her Masters in Human Resources Development and Project Management. Liz describes herself as a 24-year old millennial trying to take the world by storm! Growing up, the pressure to become a doctor or lawyer was put on by her parents. She grew up rebellious because she wanted to break the mold, and forge her own path. Elizabeth has a constant desire to excel. She’s doing so by taking the right steps by working and attending graduate school. Although she’s a student, she still makes time to pursue her true love of photography and media corresponding.

She is a woman on the rise because there are few and many Nigerian women in Media, and even less who are as good as Liz. She is a mastermind behind the lens, and her vision is game changing. I have seen it first hand how she has worked her ass off, and networked to make her dream a possible one. She’s the sweetest person ever, and as soon as you talk media to her…her eyes light up. You can literally feel the passion she has for it. I respect her so much, and I am so proud of the woman she’s becoming.

photo by quis.mar

4. Funmike Lagoke (@funmike.lagoke)

Funmike Lagoke is an educator in the arts, a performer and recently crowned Miss Nigeria USA 2019. A Nigerian-American born in Washington, DC, she was raised in Lagos and London. She earned her bachelors of Arts in Music from Morgan State University. She is a vocal instructor and music teacher for Baltimore City Public Schools. Funmike has been teaching music for the last five years and believes that she has found her purpose in teaching by giving back as well as being a positive influence and advocate for our future leaders of tomorrow. In performing, Funmike is a classically trained singer. She has performed in many Operas and continues to perform and make debuts throughout the country. This past May, she won a beauty pageant and became Miss Nigeria USA 2019. She went on the platform of Promoting Performing Arts in Education. Since then she has been attending many galas and events to promote her platform. She is also working on an event gearing towards the youth and arts. Funmike continues to teach as she educates her students on music being a universal language, and a tool that gives power and  expression. She continues to perform and promote her platform as Miss Nigeria USA 2019.

Ms. Lagoke is a woman on the rise because she’s a star whose light will probably never go dim. When you hear her sing, I assure you it’s nothing like you’ve heard before. Sis is GIFTED. What is even better is that she uses her gift to educate and inspire the youth (y’all know I love the kids), and I stan. In addition to being a fabulous star and an amazing educator, this beauty is a Queen. A Queen who is utilizing her platform and putting on for our sweet country of Nigeria. I really look forward to all the amazing things she has in store.

5. Brittney Andreá Mays (@ill_bambina)

Andreá Mays, (pronounced Un-dray-uh) was born in DC and raised in Suitland, MD. At a young age, she understood that she loved every aspect of capturing memories first through photography and then moving towards videography during college. She knew that her future was in the visual arts.
Attending thee illustrious Morgan State University, she successfully crossed over into her true passion TV/Film Production. With more than 10 years of professional and technical skills, her hunger, drive, and determination led her to relocate to Los Angeles, CA, where she is currently a Producer and Digital Media Tech. Andreá is fueled by her passion to continuously learn more. She always says a forever student is forever evolving and she believes this is the key to success! 
Website: andreamays.com

She is a woman on the rise because…for starters, she literally decided to move cross country and made it happen. She packed her things into her car and moved to California. In addition to all this, Andrea is a person who wants to use her passion in TV/Film production to change the narrative of minorities. Her projects have highlighted and brought awareness to many under represented communities, and it has educated me in so many ways. Saying I am proud of this young lady is an understatement. I’m looking forward to the day I can see her name in the credits of a major movie!

photo by: tayojr

6. Gloria Nnaji (@africanglow)

Gloria Nnaji (commonly known as Africanglow), is a 25 year old born and raised in Washington D.C. by way of her Nigerian (Igbo) culture. She is a model and a creative. Even though she was born here in the United States, she never fails to express her Nigerian culture. 

Like many African kids, she was brought up in a well structured and strict household. Modeling was not considered to be a career option. With that in mind, she attended Trinity Washington University where she was forced to major in nursing. Through her matriculation, she figured out it wasn’t for her.

Throughout her life she has worked with children. Having worked with children, this introduced her to children who come from broken homes. Hearing so many of their stories, this inspired her to become a child life specialist. However, circumstances occurred that did not allow her to finish school, but she does plan to finish what she started.

Modeling was something she never imagined herself doing, but in 2013 she stepped in front of her very first camera and from there “Africanglow” was born. Despite many struggles and pressure in the beginning, she began turning her modeling into art and her creativity began to blossom.

Her goal as a model and creative is to break the barriers and stereotypes in the modeling industry, as well as inspire other through her art. She hopes to become an international model and be a role model for other women around the world! Since her start as a model, she has been mentioned in Yahoo Beauty, Kontrol Mag “2017’s popping models you should follow”, This is 50, Pluto TV, Allure Magazine, and BET.

Gloria is a woman on the rise because she has had so many obstacles thrown her way, and instead of letting it stop her, she uses it to fuel her drive. From the pressures of being an upcoming model, to having to deal with personal health issues, she hasn’t let anything stop her. She instead continues to create art, and bless our timelines daily. Sis is so poppin, she’s had many people recreate her shoots, and not give her the credit. Either way, this is one woman who will take the modeling industry by storm.

7. Taylor Moore (@tay3k_)

In a male dominated field ….she’s the 1% they talk about. She creates experiences that can’t be duplicated or imitated only rewatched to savor the memory. She is the host with the most…Taylor Moore.

Taylor Moore, better known as Tay3k, is a 23-year-old professional host and media personality from Washington DC. She graduated from Morgan State University in May of 2018, where she obtained her degree in Strategic Communications. She did this while serving in more than 7 organizations. Hard-work and Dedication is nothing new to her. She is committed to using her platform to inspire people to become the greatest version of themselves while living their dreams. Her philosophy on life is that people remember none what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. She looks at herself as a Content Creator not a host. With plans to land her own segment on MTV, she uses every opportunity to her advantage to create a once in a lifetime experience that can never be replaced. The 3K experience is truly one like no other.

Tay is a woman on the rise because through her hosting, she really provides an experience. She started hosting in college and to see where she has come is so inspiring. She has a plan, and she is sticking to it. She is a hard worker and one hell of a creative. Her personality and vibe is unmatched and she is a good time. She is guaranteed to make any event she hosts a poppin one. Be sure to catch her this October at MimosaCity Homecoming, where she will be curating all the vibes!

8. Kayla Thomas (@sheisk.nicole_)

Kayla N. Thomas born and raised in Landover, Maryland. She was raised in  a single family home with my two older sisters , mother and grandmother. She didn’t grow up in a traditional family style home with a father or marriage, but the women who raised her have shaped her into being the amazing women she is today. She graduated from one of the National Treasures of this country, Morgan State University. She received a Bachelors of Science in Family & Consumer Sciences with a concentration in Fashion Merchandising. During her Matriculation at Morgan state University she was able to serve as Miss F.A.C.S for the 2015-2016 academic school year by aiding in community service, Fundraiser for The F.A.C.S club and assisting in multiple Morgan state Fashion shows. 

After graduating, she set out to be a personal stylist and Lifestyle blogger. Thus, creating her Personal Signature Agency and SheIsKnicole. Both platforms were created to bring awareness to young professionals excelling as entrepreneurs and creating the life they so desire while looking great. Her vision is to be able to serve her peers in multiple ways to encourage them to go after their dreams, goals, and aspirations. 

Ms. Thomas is a woman on the rise because she is one of the most consistent and determined people I have ever met. She is one of the most talented and professional bloggers I come across. She continues to grow and expand, and as a blogger she has inspired me in so many ways. The content she pushes out is amazing, and she is a role model for women everywhere. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you are missing out!

9. Rakiatu Bangura (@queen.raki)

Rakiatu is a Sierra Leonean born dancer that has always had a love and passion for dance since the womb. She started competing in dance competitions at the early age of 6 years old, but she later stopped to pursue cheerleading. She resumed dancing in college by joining her school’s African dance team. From there, during her sophomore year, her dance career took off and she became a professional dancer. She has worked with many world renowned artists and organizations since then. Her most profound achievement was starting my own dance company, Adama Dance Agency (@theadaofficial).

Her dance agency aims to manage aspiring dancers and aide them in their professional careers, using various resources and connections. She has experienced so many setbacks when she first started her dance career, and she knew she wanted to impact other dancers as well. She created the company to help those, who like herself, need the support and guidance. Although most people know her for dance, she has many other gifts. She’s a hairstylists and ABA Therapist. She is extremely passionate about children and she believes kids are truly the driving force behind all that she does.

Raki is a woman on the rise, not only because of her talents, but her heart as well. She is one of the most nurturing and caring women I have ever met. She literally puts everyone else before her own, and she isn’t lying when she says children are her life. Aside from caring for the youth, she uses her dance talent to being smiles to people everywhere. She’s such an amazing dancer and choreographer, and I am so happy to come across such a beautiful soul. If you’re an aspiring dancer, this is the woman to follow!

10. Elizabeth Morafa (@lola_mora)

Elizabeth Morafa, best known as Lola Mora, was born and raised in the DC Metropolitan area . She attended Frostburg State University, where she found her passion for fashion . Serving as the President of Visual Couture models for 3 years, it prepared her to be the leader she is today . After producing 6 fashion shows and designing her first collection, she noticed the absence of curvy couture clothing in the fashion industry. This gave her a push to start her own custom clothing company. In 2017, she launched her clothing business right after graduating from Frostburg. After a year of ups and downs with her company , she rebranded and renamed her clothing boutique to Zamora LLC, and my good sis decided to go into international manufacturing. 

Lola was so determined to figure out how to get into manufacturing for Zamora, she decided to randomly go to China and figure things out on her own . Although it was a very bold and risky step for her business she describes it as the best move she could’ve made. She is currently working on her plus-size luxury line that is projected to debut the end of the year.

Although fashion is her passion, she is studying for her Master’s in Health Informatics Administration at University of Maryland. She is currently a health educator, and plans on using her health education experience to transition into the health technology industry.

She is a woman on the rise because she is paving her own way. She is the definition of self made. Her business wasn’t something she just built in a day. It was a culmination of things since her days in undergrad. I remember being in college, and seeing the pieces she designed herself. She has always been confident in who she is and her abilities. She works hard and goes out of her way to make her brand quality, and you all will be able to see that in her upcoming collection!

11. Jamia Coleman (@miajcosmetix)

Jamia Coleman, born in Washington, D.C. and raised in PG county, is a 24 year old salon owner (YES, I said salon owner!), brand ambassador and beauty entrepreneur. She graduated from thee illustrious Morgan State University, where she received her B.A in Public Relations. Jamia Co-founded Luxe Cosmetix Beauty Bar (@luxecosmetixbeautybar) in February, and has worked with many beauty brands, including SheaMoisture.

Her passion for the beauty industry came from a very young age. It stemmed from her having very long thick hair. Her mother never wanted to manage it, so she learned how to do it herself! By the age of 7, she was doing her own hair, and by the age of 10 she started doing her friends’ hair. As she got older and social media developed, she took that as an opportunity to brand herself. Throughout her career, Jamia has curated beauty tailored events and developed brand content. She has her hands in all things beauty, and she continues to evolve within the local beauty culture! Pretty soon this beauty boss will be taking over everywhere.

She is a woman on the rise because used her talents to establish a business for herself. At such a young age, she is the co-owner of her own shop. She hires other boss women to work there, and provides a luxury experience for every woman who talks in her doors. She loves everything hair and beauty, and she is a branding genius. If you want to get your hair slayed, while getting an amazing experience, be sure to visit Luxe Cosmetix Beauty Bar located in Fort Washington, Maryland!

12. Lolade Faniola (@lolamontanaa)

Lolade (Lola) Fanilola was born in Nigeria and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2013, Lola had her very first job as being a server. While working, she noticed the people in the kitchen made more money with more hours, despite the fact that she had no interest in cooking, she asked to be transferred to the kitchen.

After working there for a few, she ended up getting fired because of school, from there she relied solely on her hair business. Her roommate, Yetunde, (who is mentioned earlier in the list) did makeup and every-time she had a client, she would watch and learn. Eventually, she picked up the skills and took up a few makeup classes. From there, she developed her hair and makeup brand, LADEMADEIT.

Last November, she began to notice she picked up on a few cooking skills from her old job. From technique, to presentation, she saw she was really good at it. This pushed her to start posting her work on instagram. Once she did, people began inquiring and was the start of her cooking business.

What inspires her cooking is the art of it all. She loves to decorate food and plates, and she loves how one can make a dish look more appealing than it actually is. She describes her style of cooking as clean. Apart from Youtube University, she learned majority of what she knows from the kitchen she once worked. Her amazing skills have reached many people, amongst them are African celebrities like King Promise, R2bes, Mr. Eazi, Masterkraft, and Tekno. She is currently building her “Brunch-in-Style” brand locally and nationally for others to enjoy her experience!

She is a woman on the rise because she is a triple threat. She does hair, makeup, and is a professional cook! She has single handedly changed the face of cooking as a Nigerian. She brings a twist to our traditional dishes, while making them brunch appropriate. Her brunch in style brand has introduced many people in the dmv a way to experience our dishes. While she’s not providing delicious meals she’s slaying faces and heads. She is a one stop shop, and this is a black owned business you won’t regret supporting.

13. Yaya Luchi (@yaya.luchi)

Yaya Luchi is a graduate of Salisbury University and Bowie State. She has her masters in Human Resource Development from Bowie State and she double majored in Conflict Analysis Dispute & Resolution and Sociology at Salisbury University.

Yaya grew up in the DMV, and it was here that she realized there is a surplus of Yoruba women. With that in mind, she felt that she could create a great space for like minded individuals who share the same culture to network together. Thus, Yoruba Girls Connect was born.

Yoruba Girls Connect is a platform for women to share their love for the Yoruba culture. The goal is to culturally uplift one another while supporting, encouraging, and expressing their individual gifts. This group will promote networking, professional and social development, political awareness, and ultimately collaboration. This group is not limited to the DMV area, but will be the start up of a world wide venture. The group gives Yoruba women a space to come together and grow together.

She is a woman on the rise because she created a space for young women to come together to fellowship, grow, and support one another. I am all for women’s empowerment, and anyone who creates a space for women to come together in a positive way, I will always support. If you are a Yoruba babe in the DMV area, make sure you’re following YBC for more updates and events!

All these women have inspired me in one way or another, and I wanted to support and highlight them for the great things they are doing. I charge you all to get to know these women and hear their stories. You are sure to be inspired as well. I look forward to working with these women and bringing you all amazing things! I hope these two posts have brought a sense of togetherness and pride in being from the DMV. Again, thank you for the support……and the Men’s edition is coming soon :)!

Women on the Rise: DMV Edition

The D.M.V. (For those who don’t know is an acronym that represents D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) is such a beautiful and diverse place. Originally, I did not appreciate this place, but we thank God I had a change of heart. In all of the United States, you’ll never find another area like it. From the music, to the fashion, the DMV is one-of-a kind. The people here are unmatched. The beautiful men and women who make up this place are from all walks of life, dwelling together to create this unique area. The DMV is full of ambitious millenials who are grinding to make their way to the top. Here, you will find awe-inspiring women who are pushing the culture forward by simply doing them and dominating while doing so. These Queens are educators, designers, doctors, content creators…the list really goes on.

At A2A, I’m very big on uplifting, empowering, and supporting women. This is why in this post, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to shed some light on women who have been doing amazing things in their fields lately. They are dominating and trailblazing their way through life, and it is honestly inspiring. These Queens are DMV’s Women on the Rise!

1. Sydney Flanagan (@junothestylist_)

photo by @jshots__

Better known as JunoTheStylist, Syd was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She received her BS in Family & Consumer Science with a concentration in Fashion Merchandising at the illustrious Morgan State University. She often states that studying fashion was the best thing that could’ve happened to her. She’s known she always had a passion for fashion at a very young age and she knew her purpose was to make other people feel good in the clothes that they wear.

Not only is this beauty educated, but sis has credentials! Here are some of her noteworthy accomplishments: Style Assistant Intern for Madonna
Wardrobe Assistant for movie “All In” feat. Lil Mama
Stylist Assistant for “The Author Incubator”
Creative Director for B.A.P.S Remake (which you all should check out!)
Interned with Hanifa Official 

In addition to her noteworthy accomplishments, my girl started her own company, Savvy The Label! STL is a brand that offers personal styling, image consultations, closet revamping and creative direction. 

Syd is a Woman on the Rise because she’s amazing at her craft. Ever since I have known her, I could see that her passion for fashion goes beyond clothes, she committed to the full transformation of the people she styles. She’s a go-getter, with impeccable style, and that transcends into everything she touches. Oh, and my sis can dance! I’m pretty confident that you’ll be seeing her name everywhere pretty soon!

2. Allison Powell (@kay.spade)

photo by @nandihenderson

Allison K. Powell is a Health Management Consultant with six years of experience working in health care. Her background is in public health with an emphasis on policy and management (she has a masters, okay). She is an Alabama native with a passion for healing urban communities and addressing social determinants of health barriers. In her personal time, she enjoys promoting a healthy lifestyle highlighting the importance of mental and physical health. You can follow her health journey on instagram where she motivates her followers to live healthier.

Allison is a Woman on the Rise because she is truly inspiring. To know Allison is to love her. From her physical transformation, to her evolution as a woman, Allison has touched so many young women. Allison’s story alone will show you that nothing can stop her. No matter what trial or tribulation life throws her way, she is 100% committed to the advancement of people everywhere. She is the definition of a girl boss. She does a great job at balancing her career, living a healthy lifestyle, and living the life she loves. Plus, Allison help me get snatched with her monthly workout challenges, so if you want to get that summer body now, follow my good sis!

3. Saudat Almaroof (@bonaroof)

Saudat is a graduate of Morgan State University. During her matriculation at Morgan she received her Bachelors of Science in Marketing and was involved with various student organizations. Shortly after graduating she founded Jaiyeroof, Inc., a 501(c) 3 non profit organization whose aim is to serve underprivileged communities in Nigeria. Since its inception, Jaiyeroof has fed over 1300 people in various communities in Lagos, Nigeria, and has held a 3 day Vocational Training program. Saudat will be chartering chapters of Jaiyeroof on the campuses of University of Maryland, College Park and Morgan State University this spring. In conjunction with serving as the Executive Director of Jaiyeroof, Saudat works as an IT Auditor at a CPA firm in Alexandria, Virginia.

Saudat is a  Woman on the Rise because since I’ve known her she’s been about her business. She has dominated anything she set out to accomplish. She is also one of the most selfless people I’ve come across and her selflessness has helped so many people in Nigeria. Her organization has brought a few students to Nigeria to aid in the efforts of taking care of those in need. At such a young age, her philanthropic efforts are commendable, and each year her organization gets better. The crazy thing is, she’s just getting started. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.

4. Racheal Cheek (@rachhhwavy)

photo by @steve.christo

Rachael Cheek was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. She received her BS in Biology from Morgan State University and her MS in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. She is currently a first-year medical student at Meharry Medical College.

Her journey to medicine was not an easy one. She knew that she wanted to be a physician since she was a child. Her initial desire to pursue a career in medicine stemmed from witnessing her mother struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. She wanted to learn about what made her ill and how she could fix it; she knew that becoming a neurologist would allow her to help individuals like her mother. Beyond clinical medicine, she has a strong interest in public and health policy. Personal experiences with health insurance and witnessing health-disparities first has inspired her interest in that realm.

Racheal is a Woman on the Rise because she has shown me to not give up on a dream. She didn’t take the traditional route to medical school, but she made it happen. Her story has shown me that there isn’t one way to get to your dream, all it takes is a leap of faith. Since undergrad, she has been intentional about her goals, and it is truly amazing to see hers manifest. As an aspiring doctor, she has pushed me to do the same.

5. Alljahni Mack (@jvhnimvck)

Alljahni, 23, was born and raised in New York City. She attended Morgan State University in 2013 where she became known for her amazing style and cool hipster attitude. Since she was young she was always labeled as someone who dressed different. Her grandmother and mother introduced her to thrifting at a very young age. Although she was not interested in it at first, around the later years of middle school and into high school, she began thrifting. Thrifting did not become popular till her 10th/11th grade year. She didn’t care, she expressed herself through her clothing despite the opinion of others. Once thrifting did become popular, people began to gravitate towards her style. She always knew she had style but she wanted it to be more than that. She wanted a real talent. With the constant encouragement of friends, she sought out to find her gift and she did! In 2017, she began styling. The same year she coordinated and curated her very first fashion show. With the help of her amazing team, they pulled off a great show. From here, she started her own online thrift store boutique, and now she designs pieces from scratch! She currently makes handmade vests and designs amazing custom pieces. Her dream is to own her very own consignment/thrift store in New York.

Alljahni is a Woman on the Rise because she is changing the narrative. She is about expressing your TRUE self. She teaches others to get out of the box that society puts us all in. She shows me its cool to be different no matter what anyone else thinks. She shows us that confidence is all you need, and that fashion is a language and its about whatever you try to express. This young lady was also seen slayinggggg NYFW. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few years, we will see her there curating her own show.

6. Olamide Iyanda (@olamide.iyanda)

Olamide Iyanda was born and raised in the Metropolitan Area. She attended Morgan State University where she studied Health Education, but her real true passion was Marketing and Communication. After she graduated, she encountered some obstacle along the way that made it hard for her to enter the public health sector. Olamide decided to give up her parents’ dream and to pursue her passion for Marketing.  

 This  led her to create Naija Girl Talks Podcast. NGT was inspired from all the years of intimate conversation Olamide would have with close girlfriends whenever they got together. NGT is a show that showcases the unheard stories of First-Generation Nigerian Women who are dealing with the growing pains of living in America. So far, the podcast has had over 10,000 listens in its first season. Season 2 is scheduled to start October 1st, 2019. 

Olamide is a Woman on the Rise because she shows me how important it is to follow your dreams. As an African kid, your parents pressure you to fit into this mold of who they want you to be, but Olamide graciously broke that mold, and is showing others they can do the same. Her passion and love for marketing is seen through her work. She creates authentic, refreshing, and relatable content that is sure to put a smile on your face. This fashionable woman of God effortlessly pushes beyond the labels and does life her way. I can’t wait for the greatness she has in-store.

7. Jennifer Gomez (@g.jennn)

photo by @getboxed_

Jennifer is a woman, mentor, social worker, and runway coach dedicated to massively transforming people and society positively. For over 5 years she has studied human behavior and understanding the power of self. Out all of her experience as an individual and model, she offers a unique and passionate opportunity for individuals, one step at a time. By helping people overcome their mindset of fear and mindfully practicing authenticity on and off the runway. She believes that to live your true purpose it takes for one to be their authentic self at all times. Authenticity Doesn’t Die. It is through her knowledge, skill sets, personal experiences, and keen detailed eye that she aims to transform and an unseen gem to a walking bona fide gem that the world was meant to see. 

She does this through her company JAG.Co. JAG.Co is a full model development inspiring aspiring models and children living in inner-city neighborhoods in the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Their global vision is to promote social well-being by helping individuals develop their image, self-esteem, and exhibit self-expression through fashion and art as a nonprofit. They provide model consultation and coaching for all ages, ethnicity, shapes, sizes, heights, and level of experiences.

I remember the first time I saw Jennifer on the runway. She absolutely commanded the stage. Her stride and confidence absolutely caught the eyes of everyone in the room. She is a Woman on the Rise because she gives this gift to others. It is not just about modeling. It’s about putting your fear to the side, owning who you are, and accepting you. She teaches us to be completely authentic and to look tf bomb while doing it.

8. Tolu Okanlawon (@tolumontana)

Tolu Okanlawon, popularly known as Tolu Montana, is a super friendly outgoing PG native. This 26 year old graduated from the illustrious Bowie State University with a Bachelors of Science in Child and Adolescent Studies. Her passion is children (anything and everything that has to do with children). One day she hopes to own several child care centers catered to empowering and shaping the minds of children all over. She currently works as an educator, but she is also an entrepreneur! She is the CEO of CrystalClearLashes, where she sells and installs quality lashes. In addition to to her lash business, she is currently working on a mentoring group for young women. She also has a very entertaining YouTube channel.

Tolu is a Woman on the Rise because of a number of reasons. She really is ardent about working with the youth. This is seen both inside and outside her classroom. She is serious about shaping the young minds of tomorrow, and she does by providing love and support to all of her students. Her upcoming mentoring program will be geared toward the development of young women, and it’s going to touch the lives of young women everywhere. Oh and her lashes are really popping, so I suggest you all go get you some!

9. Aysha Williams (@queenaysh)

photo by @thephotochase

Hailing from the Charm City of Baltimore, Aysha Williams is a proud Alumna of the Prestigious, Morgan State University. Williams is a professional freelance model, human services professional, and Founder of POWERHOUSE PLUS. While in undergrad, she had a strong desire to be a fashion model, however there weren’t any other women in the campus orgs that she could relate to physically. As a result, she had an idea to create a distinct and exclusive modeling agency for women sizes 12 and up. Thus her business was POWERHOUSE PLUS was born. POWERHOUSE PLUS is a mentorship based full figured model organization, whose mission is to create an empowering space for young women and adolescents to build confidence, establish a sisterhood, and break barriers associated with low self-esteem through the art of modeling. Since the start of her business, Williams has worked with over 80 young adults who attend or has obtained a collegiate degree from various universities in the D.M.V region.

Aysha is a Woman on the Rise because she promotes self-love and confidence no matter what size you come in. Her entire brand is catered to plus-size women accepting themselves, loving their bodies, and slaying no matter the time or place. She’s done so much, but she’s on her way to doing so much more! On November 16, 2019, Williams will be producing her 2nd POWERHOUSE PLUS Fashion Showcase.  

10. Dupe Ajayi (@dupesonthebeat)

Modupe Victoria Ajayi, also known as “Dupesonthebeat” is a professional makeup artist based in Bowie, Maryland. She prides herself in offering her clients flawless makeup applications for bridal work, photoshoots and everyday occasions by simply enhancing the beauty that lies within them.

Victoria graduated in the spring of 2019, from Bowie State University, earning her bachelors degree in Business Administration. She will soon be furthering her education by pursuing her Masters degree in Business, as well. 

Dupesonthebeat was born by chance, Victoria’s love & interest for all things beauty began during her junior year of high school. The goal was to learn how to do her eyebrows and one thing led to another. Shortly after & with encouragement from friends and family she started offering makeup services and things began to blossom. This is still the beginning of her journey, and she plans to continue to leave an impact on society and women empowerment by establishing herself in other business ventures.

Dupe is a Woman on the Rise because she is a girl boss! Her boss babe mentality has helped mold her business as a makeup artist. She is uses her gift as an artist to enhance the beauty we already have. Her beats are flawless, and she will have you looking right for any occasion. Her astonishing transformations leave all her clients in awe when they get out of her chair. She is one of my fav DMV MUAs. Besides the fact that she is a bomb artist, she’s a sweet soul. Her friendly persona and out- going personality naturally draws you. She is a force to be reckoned with!

11. Ayana Bell (@ayanajanae)

Ayana Bell, a D.C. native, is a Morgan State University Alumnae with a B.S. in information systems. Her passion for IT started in middle school. She knew what career path she wanted to take early, so she geared every phase of her life toward that goal. She became well-rounded and experienced in her field. Since high school she developed a plan to get her to dream career. She attended networking events, spent time with computer teachers to pick their brains, and even became a student ambassador for IT conferences and seminars. While at Morgan, she participated in a plethora of community service organizations that were specific to her field in tech. She served as President of the Association of IT professionals for 2 years, worked as an Orange Technician for 3 years, and served as as a student ambassador that opened the door for her to work for the Office of Information Technology. Her networking and interpersonal skills, internships, and tech experience placed in her in the position she’s has always wanted. Today, she currently works for Accenture Federal Services as a CyberSecurity Analyst working within compliance.

Ayana is a Woman on the Rise because she IS that black girl in tech. She has this genuine zeal for what she does, and it inspires other young black women to follow their tech dreams. I stan Ayana because she has always had a plan. Tech has always been the end goal, and to see her break barriers and accomplish that is truly inspiring. She has stepped out of her comfort zone, fearlessly pursued the career she wanted, and she got it! She is black girl magic.

Each of these women have had an impact on me in one way or another. They’ve taught me to be confident, authentic, selfless, healthy, sexy, smart, gentle, and so much more. Some of them I know personally, others from a distance, but each have inspired me. I wanted to shed light on these ladies, because not so often do they get the credit they deserve. I’m thankful to know these women in the capacity that I do, and I hope within this post they have inspired you as they have done with me. I urge you all to get familiar with these ladies because in a few years they will be household names!

NOW, because there are soooooo many popping women, I couldn’t get them all in one post, so please be on the look out for part 2! Oh and I have something for the gentlemen as well so stay tuned!

Before You Give Up

Whewwwwwwww! Sisters, it has been a whileeee. I missed blogging and of course I missed you guys! Needless to say…I’m back, and for good this time! These past few months have tested me in every way possible. I can honestly say 2019 just might be the top 5 worst years of my life…so far (because a change is going to come, amen!) I literally lost almost everything, and because of it I was in a pretty low place. Honestly speaking, I have not felt this low in a while. Usually, I am pretty good at weathering the storm. I get knocked down, but I always get back up. I am the definition of staying ten toes, but this time…it hit different. It was so much going on. I had so many rejections, failures, BETRAYALS, it was bad y’all. I finally got to the point where I wanted to give up. Honestly speaking, I did give up…a lot. Like, I literally couldn’t do it. There was a point where it was a struggle for me to even get out of bed, but it’s by the grace of God I can even write this post. Despite this year being a tough one, I’m super thankful for it. This lesson I have learned has literally changed my life, and I’m praying it’ll change yours. 

So boom, so many bad things happened this year. I lost my job, my apartment, I got into ANOTHER car accident (if you know me, you know my car struggle), and so many other unfortunate events occured. This caused me to become really depressed. For about three to four months I was going through it. The struggle was sequential, one thing after the other. Question, has anyone  ever been through something like that? Its like the blows just don’t stop? Yeah, I was there. I was not me at all. I literally was not eating, I would bust out crying randomly, I was hopeless, and unmotivated. I felt like everything was stripped away from me, at once. There were so many points where I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. Like y’all. My faith was gone. I used to think there really wasn’t any point in me being here. Nothing was going my way. I prayed and fasted, and nothing. I went to church, nothing. I was listening to all these sermons, and you guessed it….NOTHING. After a while, I stopped praying because your girl was fed up. I just chose to wallow in self pity and I was comfortable doing so.

I was so upset and so confused. How could God sit back and allow all this to happen? Adulting is already trash, but adulting for me….suuperrrr trash. Everything I worked hard for in a year, gone. I take pride in being an independent woman and taking care of mine, so when I couldn’t do that anymore, I was hurt up. In the midst of all this, I also lost friends. People who I called family, at my lowest they left me. Literally dipped out, and I was super hurt. I don’t really let people in so when I do and things like this happen, it hurts a great deal. It’s crazy because we tend to have a plan about our life and you think it’ll work out and your friends will always be there, but life doesn’t care about any of that. When it comes, it comes. Life really ruined allll of my plans, and for the longest I was so lost. I did not know where to go, I would just cry.

So it got to a point where I was fed up with my situation. Yes, life is trash right now, but what do I do? What happens when your plans are ruined and your life seems to have no sense of direction? What happens when we face struggle? When you’re going through our own journey in the wilderness, what do you do? Cry? Wallow? Dare I say it…give up??? No. You don’t give up, you fight and adapt. The key is to adapt. Adapt to the waves of life, the ups and downs. In life, everyone has their own struggle, their own journey in the wilderness, and the only way out is through. You have to get through. The more you give you up, you just prolong your own journey. No storm lasts forever, no matter how bad it is.

I wanted to write this to encourage someone. I know, right now it may seem like life is hard and you can’t catch a break, but I promise, good things are coming. Keep pushing. Keep going. Do not let your current struggles stop you from living. You go through these things as a test. God is testing you. He’s pushing your bounds and your limits. He’s strengthening you and preparing you for that next level. There are certain things you have to learn and experience so when you elevate, you have those tools that will help you. I look at struggles like working out, in the moment they suck. They hurt, they make your body sore as hell, but in the end its ultimately shaping you into an even better you. Everything on this earth serves a purpose, including our struggles.

This point in your life is a test. Don’t fail. That is what the enemy wants. Your season of struggle is almost over. Do not let up. Put in the work and win. The work you do now is the groundwork for your future. You can’t give up. You have to keep at it. You’re losing hope in your business, keep going…You don’t think you can get into school, keep trying….You can’t find a job…keep applying and use this time to focus on you. You cannot give up at whatever it is that your heart desires. There are people attached to your dreams, goals, gifts, etc. that are depending on you. They need you! You are intertwined into their destinies. It is through whatever power God has given you that you help others. You can’t stand in the way of that because things got a little hard. In the end of time, God will ask you. What are you going to say? Oh my bad God, I was going through a tough time…uhhh I think not! 

I learned in life you are going to fail, but those failures just propel you to your greatness (if you allow it). This year I have given up on myself so many times, but I’m thankful for my tribe for constantly talking to me and telling me all that I’m telling you.  Things may not be 100% for me, I’m still going through it, but Im not letting up, I refuse to give up. I’ve come too far. I learned giving up is weak. It’s easy and it’s selfish. No matter how hard things may be, we don’t give up. We refocus, plan, and execute. 

If you are like me and you have lost hope, I’m here to tell you to push through. Nothing worth having comes easy. Don’t let these obstacles stop you, let them challenge you and push you towards growth. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Don’t fold. Have faith and trust the process. Center yourself, take care of you, believe in your vision, and get it done. Don’t give up.

Be The Light

It has been a little over a month (or two lol) since I have posted. Thats due to personal challenges, fear, and a bunch of other things we can get into a little later. What got me out of my “hiatus” was a message I felt people should hear.

When this idea came to write on this topic, I was in tears. This was days after news broke that Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed. Usually, when a celebrity dies, I say a prayer, pay my respects, and keep it pushing. This one hurt different. I was really hurt. I cried like he was my own. I was crushed. One of the main reasons I was hurt was because I felt this world is so evil. His death had me thinking about how people are so wicked and this world we live in is a dark place.

I thought about all the individuals who lost Nipsey, all the children in the world who are suffering, everyone who is going through one thing or another, or all the people of color who have been killed…..I thought about everyone. I just felt it all at once and my entire day was ruined. I couldn’t even focus at work. I just kept thinking about everything that was wrong with the world.

To distract myself I went on Instagram (I should’ve been praying tbh, lol) and I saw my explore page was full of Nipsey. There were a lot of clips from interviews that he had done. I watched a number of them. In each one, he drops knowledge, whether it be on business, financial freedom, or personal development. He had alllll the keys. But in a few of them he talks about love and goodness and letting your heart be pure. He spoke about being a change maker; a light.

His words stuck with me. I thought about it and I remembered, in my church, they often talk about how we are the light of the world. They reference Matthew 5:14, “you are the light of the world. A city on a hill that cannot be hidden”. It was no secret that Nipsey was indeed a light, a pillar in his community, and his light was not hidden. When you have this light, you have to know that there are also people of darkness. They live to dim your light. Nipsey knew that and he moved in his light anyway. He didn’t live in fear of anyone……he just shined.

I believe everyone has a light in them, even people of darkness. They have just allowed this dark world to take it away. We can’t do that. We all have a purpose; to inspire, teach and help. Thats why you face trials and tribulations, but that is why you also overcome. This happens so you can help those after you. Your light leads the way for others.

This world is crooked and evil, but we cannot conform to it. We rise above it. We keep our hearts pure, and we move with LOVE. This isn’t an easy task but its one we are all given.

You have to let your light shine. By doing so you “unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”…… How do you be the light? By being your absolute self, fearlessly. It means pursuing your dreams, living vividly, inspiring, laughing, teaching, not playing it small, but most importantly, loving. It means to live with love and share it with others. We  all are to be the light, the light that is needed light up this world.

We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.- Marianne Williamson

I want to dedicate this post to Nipsey Hussle. I may not have been his biggest music fan, but that mans words have helped me in one way or another. He inspired me in some of my darkest times and even in death he continues to do so. He was an Angel here on earth and his legacy will forever remain.

Lately

Usually, I’ll come up with some catchy name and a cute graphic, but this time I just wanted to be raw and transparent about how I’ve been feeling lately with life and about my journey. 

Lately, I’ve been going through a whirlwind of things. Life has really been coming at me and its like PAUSE………….what did I EVER do to life?! Like why do I deserve this, lol. I’ve been feeling lonely, powerless, confused, lost, all the above…despite this I have moments where I have “power feels” (where I feel spirts of motivation and I feel unstoppable), but then life levels it out and I crash. I feel like my world is collapsing. Everything I am going through at the time just hits me all at once.

Issues with my job, finances, living away from home on my own, not being in a relationship, not being where I planned to be has contributed to my feelings of doubt and sadness. These are things I deal with regularly, but as humans we all come to a point where we feel enough is enough, and I was there.

I was feeling extremely low and it physically showed. You could see me and tell I was going through it. You ever heard the saying “I thank God because I don’t look like what I’m going through”? Well, I looked like what I was going through times two, lol. The good thing about being low is that you’re your most vulnerable state, and you are honest with yourself. Its during this time, you hear yourself the most. 

One day, I was laying in bed thinking. Like okay boom…..this is the problem, this is how you feel, do you want to feel like this forever or do you want to change your situation? This is when I found my power. I realized we control our narratives. Yes, we know life will not be easy, especially being a Christian, but wallowing in pity and self doubt does nothing for your tomorrow. It’s about what you will do in the face of adversity.

I tend to read on powerful and influential women for inspiration, and out of all the inspiring stories I read, I noticed 1 similarity about all these women. When times were tough, they never gave up. They looked each trial and tribulation and took it head on. Of course they had their moments, but it wasn’t for long. They adjusted their crowns, and got back to business. I decided this was the mentality I wanted to adopt. 

Lately, yes, life has been kicking my ass, but I have been putting up one hell of a fight. In my time of struggle, I am realizing my power. I am more resilient, I am strong, I am beautiful, I am a fighter…I am so much more than what I am currently facing. And me realizing this has caused to me to love myself so much more. I’ve been in my bag, getting things done, and feeling a little more sexy (my weight loss has also contributed to this s/o to Allison!). I see what I am truly capable of and I love it.

All in all, what I am trying to say is that when you have your moments and everything around you has come crashing down, it is in that moment that you rise. These situations are temporary and they allow you to see what you’re made of. You access and harness a power you didn’t even know you had. Ayabas don’t let temporary defeats keep them down. They look situations straight in the face and go beast mode. I just wanted to send words of encouragement, because I know lately I have been in need of it, and I’m sure someone somewhere needs it too. Don’t let your lately determine or affect your tomorrow. Put your faith in God and always have hope. My mother tells me where there is life there is hope. That means as long as you’re still breathing there is a chance for change to come. Keep going. Decide to be unstoppable, then become it. Do not let anything stand in your way. 

Valentine’s Day: Single Edition

As we all know, February 14th is that divine day of love. It is a day where you shower your significant other (or loved one)  with undeniable love and affection. It is a day full of I love you exchanges, bae probates, roses, and just a general outpour of love for that special person. Now, what do you do if you’re………single? If you have been single for as long as I have, you know a thing or two about spending that special day alone. Now, I’m not saying this in a sad or heartbroken way, but I can admit I know thing or two about “maximizing your singleness”. This post is to help you do the same once “doomsday” hits.

Often times once V-day comes around, we see those “bitter bettys” all up and down our timelines. It’s like they’re the “grinch” of love. They try to take away the “awwwwww” moments from us. I know because I was that girl! BUT I have been deliveredT. Besides, this year we are not doing that! We are going to be genuinely happy for others and that is that on that. We will waiting patiently for our bearded Kings to arrive, okay. Ayabas are never haters, it’s distasteful. So instead of being sad, watching romance movies, while eating a tub of ice cream and crying on and on about how we wish this was us, you could be doing the following instead:

  1. Treat your damn self: Excuse my french, but treat your damn self, seriously! Use this day to love on you. Spoil yourself. Take yourself shopping, do a little TLC, or even take yourself on a date. Spend it doing whatever you want to. After all, whose going to love you more than….you?
  2. Celebrate Galentine’s Day!: Galentines Day is a V-day but with your girls! You all hang around each other and spread love to one another. I remember one year, my best friend Jillian surprised my other friends and I with a Valentine’s Day care package. It had Hot Cheetos (our favorite snack), cake pops, and a card letting us know how much she loved us. 

Another year, my friends and I had a cute little sleepover the night before Valentines Day, then that night of, we got super dressed up and took ourselves out for a cute little dinner. It was so nice and it made me love my girls even more. This day, you appreciate your friends. You bask in the blessing of sisterhood!

Use this time to have fun with your girls, for example, have a “love-a-thon! You can spend the day being inspired by love by watching all your favorite Romance/Rom-Com movies. From The Notebook, to Friends with Benefits, even the Netflix show You (WARNING: That show is wildddddd), you have the world of movies at your fingertips! 

3.Go out!: Just like you are single, there are hundreds of other people who are just as single. Get up, get dressed reaaaaaaaaalllllll nice, and meet someone! You get in your bag, and bag whoever your little heart desires, RESPECTFULLY. We are not home wreckers ladies. If that man is taken, peace be unto that side, pls. Use this time to meet new people! I mean why not? You’re attractive/beautiful, you have goals, you’re ambitious, anyone would be lucky to have you. Don’t be afraid! Just go out and have fun. You never know who Cupid can pair you with. After all, it is a day for love :).

4. Cut Them Offfffff: This day is also the day where some people lose their God demn (yes, I said demn) minds. Especially the ones you kind-of sort-of just started talking to. At this point, you’re in that phase of “are we Valentines orrrr is it too early”? Instead of him/her being upfront about their stance, my friend decides to do one of the following:

a) Go ghost a few days before.

b) Picks a rubbish fight a few days before to avoid the holiday

c) Completely ignore the day

I had C happen one year. Mans said he doesn’t believe it. I respectfully let him go. If any of the above occurs, let that child go! If they cannot communicate despite the conversation being difficult, that person is not the one, period.

Just because Valentine’s Day is a day usually spent with your special someone does not mean you cannot participate. Spend it doing whatever you want with whomever you want, in the name of love. It is not a day for us to sulk about us being lonely. It is a day for you to spread love. Even if that love is to yourself. Use the time alone to love on you and work on you. That way when your bearded King comes, you’ll be readdyyyyy. I hope you’ve been inspired to be happy this Valentine’s Day and to spend it loving love! Happy Valentines Day Ayabas!

P.S. I do want to emphasize the fact that it should not take a holiday for one to proclaim their love, it should be an everyday thing! 

Purpose

Does anyone know the story of Esther? No, not my story, haha. The story of Queen Esther in the bible! If not, thats cool because you’ll get a cliff notes version today! If you are a non-believer, do not let this discourage you, keep reading! I promise you will still learn from this. It’ll resonate with you. The story of Esther is one of my all time favs. Not because this amazing woman and I share the same name, but because this story speaks to what it means to have a divine purpose. 

Esther was what we call the “underdog”. She was counted out. She had all the odds working against her. She was a poor Jewish orphan that was raised by her Uncle Mordecai. At this point in history, Jews were not it. They were the “lower” race. The King at the time was looking for a new wife (he kicked the old one out). So he did an “America’s Next Top Model” search. He took all the land’s most beautiful women, placed them in a palace, pampered and, had them undergo etiquette training for a year or two before deciding his next Queen. The moment he saw Esther, he was immediately in love. He knew she had to be his wife. So he chose her. She was picked out of the hundreds of women in the land. Pause……Remember this!

Now, she’s in the palace living her best Queenly life.The King has a very evil and wicked right hand man. The King doesn’t know of his evil ways (not a point I was going to make, but please be mindful of the company you keep), but this man was indeed evil. Right hand was not very fond of the Jews. In fact he hated them. He got into the King’s ear and concocted a plan to have them all killed. Esther got hip to the plan, and she knew she had to do something. At first, she was scared because no one in the palace knew she was a Jew, but her uncle encouraged her. He told her “who knows if perhaps you were made for a time such as this” Esther 4:14. Pause……Remember this point too! 

Esther made the choice to put her fear aside, took action. She secretly sent a message to all the  Jews in the land to pray and fast with her for three days; at the end of three days, she would confront the king (despite her fear), and fight for her people. Pause….Remember this again! To cut the long story short, Esther ended up saving her people and the evil right hand man was killed. I shortened the story very much, so I urge everyone to take the time and read it!

Now what exactly did we learn from this story in relation to purpose?

1. When you have a particular purpose, no matter how many are in that lane or field, you will succeed. You will find favor and success will be yours. Remember point #1. Esther went up against endless women. Every single one, beautiful. Others, even more beautiful than her, others, more rich than her, and most likely other were more cultured than her. Despite all that, she was the one. Why? Because sis served a purpose! God placed her there for a reason. To save her people. 

In life, there are certain dreams and aspirations that we have that are there for us to fulfill our purpose. We want them to manifest, but we fear they won’t come to pass because that area of interest is “oversaturated”. “I want to make a youtube channel, but everyone is doing it”…..”I want to be a makeup artists, but so does everyone else”……..”I want to start a fashion line, but….” My response to that is so? What is destined for you will be yours, no matter how oversaturated that market is. Do you know how many other blogs are out there? Others are more advanced, others have more followers, and others have more influence. One thing I know is that not anyone of them have a me. 

2. The second thing I asked you all to remember is that verse, Esther 4:14.                                   Who knows if perhaps you were made for a time such as this? I came across this verse while I was doing the Black and Gold Pageant for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. My pageant mom Amber (Shoutout to Amber!!!) blessed me with this verse. Up until then I knew nothing about it, but ever since, it has been my life’s motto. That sentence is purpose in itself. There are moments where you realize that wow, I was created just for this. I’ve been through a number of things in my life, some you cannot even imagine, but it used to really get to me. I came to the realization one day that everything I have ever faced is for a purpose. How can I preach about lack of self love when I haven’t even known how that feels? Without my experiences, this blog would not exist. Life can be hard, but understand it is all for a purpose. There will be trials and tribulations coming from situations, people, and just uncontrollable circumstances, but they all serve a purpose. Imagine if Esther was not a Jew. Those people would’ve perished. With her being Queen, she saved them, and in her new position imagine all the things she could’ve done for them. 

3. Finally, when you know/have your purpose, you have got to face your fears.  Esther had to let it be known that she herself was a Jew in order for her to save her people. To keep it stack, sis could’ve been killed right then and there, but she looked fear in the face and went for it. What fear is holding you back from fufllinig your purpose? When you have purpose, things like this will come, but you have to push through. Till this moment I get thoughts about how I should quit blogging, but I push through. I do my part by doing it anyway. Then I get messages from Ayabas telling me how I have helped them. This gives me confirmation that I am living in my purpose. 

My purpose is to help others. I want to do this in so many ways. By being a doctor, blogger, influencer, entrepreneur, and so much more. In every field I aspire to be in, I’m helping people in one way or another. I know that in my journey I will be hit with hardships, I will see others that may even be better than me, but what I know is, despite all that, this is what I was put on Earth to do. No matter what I am living in my purpose. Ayaba, are you? If not, put aside doubts, fears, and hardships…..pick your head up, fix your crown, and go forth. It’ll be apart of your story to tell. Live in your purpose!

2019: On Your Mark. Get Set. Goals!

First and foremost, Happy New Year to all my Ayabas and Obas (Kings..the few of you that do read, haha). I hope the first couple of days into the new year have been nothing but blessed. Really quickly, I want to take the time to acknowledge and thank each and everyone of you for the support you have given me. Every view, every time you read, every time you share, it means so much to me. As you continue to bless me, God will continue to bless you. Again, thank you so much!

Now……now that we are in a new year, it is a time for endless possibilities. It is a time to do things anew! A time for renewal and reinvention. Endless opportunities for new beginnings. This includes new goals.

Every year we know during the first month everyone sets their resolutions. By week 2, majority of people have given up, myself included. Lack of consistency is a lot of our downfalls. This year, that stops. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you never quit on your goals?Can you imagine what you could’ve accomplished if you just stayed the course and stuck it out? Your life could be completely different trajectory. Some may argue “God’s time”, yes everything is indeed on his time, but this should not be an excuse. We tend to get in our own way. Many of us also like to argue that our schedules are the issue, but if you really want something, you’re going after it no matter what. Why are we so quick to give up on things just because it got hard? We commit to so many other things, but when it comes to our goals….the desire to get it done is gone.

Do we really want these things as bad as we say we do? Are we really vested? These are the things we need to be asking ourselves. Now, per usual, I am speaking from experience. This was/is me (‘cause God is still working on me, lol). I used to set goals, write them down, and just not commit to them at all. I did this because of laziness, fear, procrastination, etc, but it got to a point where I saw my life was becoming stagnant. I was not progressing in any way, shape, or form. I literally was just there.

2019, I told myself I AM doing it. I am fully emerging and committing myself to the completion of my goals and dreams. This time I did things different. I involved God. Before, I tried to do it all on my own. I realized (very soon) that I simply cannot. I need God. I am firm believer that God places these desires in our hearts, and I was afraid because I thought that I would fail. The fear of failure took me out. BUT I know God has plans for me. Plans to prosper me and not harm me, and that was my motivation. There is nothing that I put before God that does not come to pass. In the case that it doesn’t it simply means there is better planned for me. Things may not happen on my time, but they will happen right when they need to!

This means whatever you want to do, or whatever goals you have set for yourself and your future, it is done. All that needs to happen is for you to do it. God has anointed it, trust in him and see it through. Go for it without doubt, but in faith. Believe in your power. You have to. Invest in your dreams, goals, and most importantly yourself!

I am a firm believer that this is going to be a breakout/breakthrough year for a lot of us, all it takes is for us to DO.

With all that being said, I want to give my Ayabas a few tips on how to stay on top of your goals this year:

  1. Write them down: This is my favorite point because I literally write everything down. I feel as though when you write, those things are stamped.They are written in the book of life! Plus, this allows you to go back to remind yourself of your goals. Also, after you have completed them, you can see your progress and all that you have accomplished. Once you write them down post them. Put them in a place that you will always see them. Put them on sticky notes or make them your screen saver. It should serve as a reminder that you are working towards this goal.                             
  2.  Affirm it: As you write down your goals, affirm them.”I AM going to….” or “I WILL get….”. There is so much power in the tongue. Put these things into the Universe…put it before God, watch him work. Affirm it, visualize it, believe it, and it will actualize itself. There was an interview that Jay-z did and he said he believes you can speak things into existence. You really can. That is how powerful you are. The more you say it, the more you believe it, and you will actually begin to do it. I am telling you there is power in the tongue!                                                                                     
  3. Be realistic: Set realistic goals sis. Have goals you can realistically accomplish. For example, do not tell yourself you will lose 20 pounds in two days, kolework. It is not going to happen. Set short term goals (goals that you can achieve within a few days, weeks, or months) and set long term goals (goals you can achieve within years). Give yourself an appropriate time span. Make sure your goals are achievable then, crush them!                                                                                                                                     
  4. Keep it to yourself: Sometimes we get so excited about what we’re doing and what we have planned that we just have to tell someone. Let me tell you, I identify with this first hand. I used to do it all the time, but I quickly learned not every has your best interest at heart. Everyone  that smiles in your face is not for you sis. Many act like they are your friend and pray on your downfall. You ever been in a situation where you shared a plan with someone and it fell through and didn’t workout? Yeah. You have to trust and speak with caution. Keep it to yourself for a while. Till things are set into to play and confirmed, work in private, shine in public.                             
  5. Invest: If no on ever told you this, I am telling you, you have to invest in yourself. Invest in you, your goals, your dreams, your well being…YOU. It is so important to put yourself first this year. It is time to be selfish and do what you have to do for you. One of the biggest lessons I got out of 2018 was this. Everyone else is taking care of them. They’re making sure they’re good. You need to do the same. In order to make things shake, you have to invest all of you. This includes your time, your money (sigh, unless it’s possible for you to get investors lol), and yourself. I am fully vested in the fruition of my goals, and you should be too.

Everyday you wake up, you have the will to determine not only your day, but your life. The decisions you make now will affect your life in the future. Are you doing what needs to be done to better your future? Is it putting you in a better position? Are you living up to your full potential? If not, this year…make that change. Boss up. Shamelessly and relentlessly go after whatever it is you want. Real Ayabas are go getters, we are persistent in what we want. No matter how long it takes or how hard it may be, we make it happen. We don’t talk, we do. The only person that can change your future is you. Make things those happen this year. What you were afraid to do last year do it this year! Make this  a staple year. A year that changed your life for the better……forever.

Esteri Ayaba

The Self Series: Self Discovery

 

The journey to self-discovery is not a short one. It is on-going because throughout life we are evolving. The person you were last year isn’t who you are right now. You are always growing and that is the beauty of life. Although you are forever changing and evolving, there is something that stays consistent, that is the core of who you are, your character.

Self discovery is the process of acquiring insight into one’s own character. Self discovery is about finding out at the center of your being, who are you really? A lot of us go through life wearing a mask. We put on a front for the approval of others. Especially women. We put on a front which attracts the wrong people, and along the way, we lose ourselves. I see this a lot especially with my students. The young girls do things to try to fit in or get the attention of the other little boys, and I realized that us losing ourselves start from a very young age. We can all think back to a time in middle school or high school where we just wanted to fit and, we’d do anything just to be apart of the in-crowd. This was the start to us losing ourselves.

One of my biggest struggles was/is for to completely be me, 100%. Accepting who I am is a challenge for me. Even as I have entered into the world of blogging, it has hard for me to find my “identity”. This has been something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. I remember back when I was in college, people used to tell me how I “should” be. I was too rough, I was too outspoken, I didn’t know how to be a woman, I’m too headstrong and it’ll cause me to be lonely…..I have heard it all. For a while, I listened. I became who they thought I should be, but thats honestly annoying and fake asf. I was struggling to find my identity and to live in the skin God designed for me. This affected my self esteem and what I felt to be my purpose.

With self-discovery, when you find yourself you ultimately find your purpose. Once you know who you are, things fall into place. You know your worth, your potential, your power….it is vital for us all to embark on this journey. If you don’t, you’re honestly just cheating yourself, and you’re taking away a gift from the world. That gift is you! You being yourself authentically and unapologetically. You being you 100% of the time holds so much power. By you not being you, you’re not being who God called you to be.  When you’re at your full self, you can do anything. You can move some mountains. There is a saying that says the most powerful thing a woman can do is realize who she is. Once you know who you are, and you walk in your power….the world has no choice but to adapt. As we’re going into the new year, dedicate it to you and your growth, your development as a person, or whatever it is that you need to do, do it. We need you as your full authentic self! Get to know you, transform. Go through your journey and be who you are meant to be.

There are so many people who want to start, but may not have an idea how. Here are a few ways I began my journey:

1. Write: A couple of years ago my best friend Stephanie bought me a journal, and I can honestly say that was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. That was the whole reason I started all of this to be honest (so thanks Stephie!). I literally wrote everything. I wrote all of my secrets, my wins, my losses….I wrote so much. I used this to reflect over my life and myself. I wrote what I wanted to accomplish, change, and fix. I’d work at it and update my progress. I would go back and read where I once was, and it pushed me to keep working towards my best self.

2. Read: If you’re lost and don’t know where to start, it is important to read books, especially self help books. Self help books guide you and help you attain knowledge and insight. It helps you to get to where you need to be.

3. Do!: In addition to reading and writing, you have to actually do things to help you discover yourself. This includes prayer, meditating, (many things you do to practice self care can also intertwine with self-discovery).Take a dance class, get into art, “date” yourself. Get to know you. Figure out what you like and what makes you happy.

4. Join: Don’t go on this journey alone. Ask friends to do it with you. You’ll be more encouraged. Make it a challenge with your friends. Debrief after activities and invite new perspectives. This will also bring you all much closer

5. Embrace: Embrace your journey. Embrace yourself. Accept the fact that you are a work in progress. You are young. It is okay to not have it all figured out, but understand you are fully committed to finding you. Discover your true self and who you are, embrace you and your journey.

Self discovery is not an easy journey. You will have to confront certain parts of you, parts you do not want to face. You will have to unpack and figure out who you are and determine your purpose. Do this and be you. The world needs you……like today. You are a gift. You are here for a reason….for something or someone. Not being yourself is not doing what God has called you to do. Embrace you. Love you. Take care of you. This upcoming year, make it a year of self. You deserve love, care, happiness, and so much more. Even if that means you have to give it to yourself.

The Self Series: Self Care

 

In today’s world, there is so much going on. We are a busy people always on the go.This is really emphasized in the millennial generation. We are a focused group. We’re either getting to the bag, chasing a dream, or building our empire. When we aren’t doing that, we’re taking care of others, paying bills, and overall making sure everything and everyone is straight. In doing so, it is so easy to forget to take care of yourself. It is so important to take care of self, and a number of us don’t. I honestly did not know what self care was until I moved to Miami, and I am so happy I am aware now.

I am a person that loves to take care of others. I put other people before me ( a blessing and a curse), and seeing others happy makes me happy. Although this can be a really good trait to have, it can be extremely draining. I was doing it to the extreme. I worked a lot, spent my time and money on others, and I often ignored signs my body would try to tell me whenever I needed to slow down. At the beginning of the year, all this began to catch up to me. I was stressed to the point that I began to have headaches, and I started having really bad anxiety. I’d just be in a constant state of stress and worry. My face broke out, and I’d get constant migraines.

During the summer I was at training for Teach for America. We had a seminar where it talked about self care. As a teacher, you cannot go into the classroom and teach if you are not at your full capacity. It dawned on me that I could not give anything my all if I didn’t take care of myself. You cannot pour into others from an empty cup. It is that overflow that other people get from you. From that seminar, I started taking care of myself. I asked so many people about their self-care routines and things they did to de-stress. From my inquiries, I learned self-care is not just physical and skin related. It is mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, etc.

Self care isn’t a general concept. It is individual. It is based upon the needs of the person that is practicing it. It is a healing; a medication in fact. It requires you to medicate in all aspects. Self care is so crucial because if you do not stop and recharge, you’re literally going nowhere. People think self-care is a luxury, no! It is a necessity. It’s needed. With our phone, we’re so quick to throw it on a charger when it drops 1%, why can’t we take care of ourselves the same way?

I’ve learned work will always be there, bills will always be there, but you only have one life to live. Do not spend all of your days just working. If you’re sick, take off! If you are not there mentally, take a personal day. It is so important to do things to maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul. It is so easy to throw on a face mask and scream self care, but are you really taking care of self? Are you catering to your needs? To have self care isn’t just physical it is so many other things. With that being said, here are some ways I practice self care:

  • Pray: Let me say this right now, prayer is the key to everything, okay. When I feel stress, anxiety, or worry, I drop everything and pray. BUT, understand that you have to put some work behind what you just prayed for. Faith without works is dead, and so is prayer without works. This means to pray against anything that is harming your sanity or peace, and once God reveals it to you, LET. IT. GO.                                                    

 

  •  Unplug: Sometimes self care is as simple as logging out. It isn’t healthy spending the majority of your day looking at your phone screen. We expose ourselves to so much, we don’t realize how much social media can really affect us. You see so many influences (both positive and negative), you don’t see that subconsciously it affects our mental. Just do yourself a favor and log out!

 

  •  “Me” time: My roommate and I love me time, haha! This is a time dedicated to YOU. During this time you do whatever you want. You unplug from the world and spend time with you. It is no work, just you enjoying your own company. That can mean putting on a face mask, sipping wine, watching Netflix, getting a massage, sleeping, or you can even use this time to balance and budget your finances! Ayaba, you spend this time doing whatever it is your heart desires! It is completely up to you.

 

  • Get Physical: One of the best ways to let go of some stress is through the body. I know times when I’m really overwhelmed, I go to the gym. Getting physical should not be limited to the gym. You can try out boxing, yoga, swimming, or something as simple as taking a walk! Plus, you’re getting your body right. Thats a two-for-one. Who doesn’t love a two-for-one?! Lol. 

 

  • Feed your soul: It is so important to feed your soul! Everyday so many things are thrown at you to influence you. If you are not careful, it can throw you off. So you have to do whatever it is to keep you grounded. This includes meditating, reading, listening to positive music/podcasts, or even taking a lavender bath! Whatever makes you smile from within, do it!

 

  • Cut it: Cut off anything or anyone that is disturbing your peace. It is about to be a brand new year, and we’re not bringing that negative energy into 2019. Protect your peace sis. That job you don’t like, quit it. That friend that always has you in drama, cut them off. That toxic relationship, let it go! Free yourself and be your own peace. Peace and self care go hand in hand. Peace is what you get as a result of taking care of yourself.

One of the reoccurring things that I believe God wanted me to understand this year is that life is too short. Tomorrow is not promised. We should not take anything for granted. We are supposed to be using our days to make us happy. We should be taking care of us and our individual needs. It is okay to be selfish sometimes! This upcoming year start treating you. Make it the year of self. Take care of your needs. Actually take the time to cater to you. Listen to your body, pay attention to your thoughts, and remove anything that is contrary to your progression and growth.Anything that is disturbing your peace, do away with. Start doing whatever is it you need to do to take care of you. If that is meditating, praying, going to therapy, journaling, or laying down doing absolutely nothing, do it. You deserve it!

The Self Series: Self Love

The Self series is a series that encourages the complete healthy development of ones self. Taking care of one’s self isn’t just about bath bombs and facial masks, it’s also about feeding your body, spirit, and soul. This is a series dedicated to working towards the best you. This series will talk about three aspects of self: self-love, self care, and self discovery. By the end of this series I hope you’re a little step closer in becoming the best you!

The first topic featured in this series is self love. I selected this as the first because I know that someone, somewhere needs to read this. I’ll go ahead and say the holy spirit led me with this one, lol, but in all seriousness this is something that is difficult for so many women, including me. Through my journey of life. I have learned  so much about self-love. Ive seen the beautiful and the ugly parts of it, and from my experience I have learned that it is so important because without it, you literally are lost. Lack of self love will have you trying to find love in meaningless things and unworthy people. This goes without saying, but that is not how love works. Love is about accepting and embracing and having deep feeling for someone or something. It is about knowing that that particular thing or person may not be perfect, but you choose to look past that and accept it/them anyway. It is a choice, and that choice starts with you. Choose to love YOU. Your life can be in complete disarray if you don’t learn to love and accept you. Once you do, you’ll see things fall into place.

Google defines self love is as “having regard for one’s own well-being and happiness”. In other words, it means to take care of you in all aspects and to find your own happiness. This is true but loving yourself goes way beyond that. It means accepting yourself in the dark. Loving you despite your flaws and mistakes, and protecting your peace. You do this by being positive, working out, reminding yourself that you are beautiful, and loving you so that you can love and pour into others. PAUSE. I’m stopping right here, because that last statement is crucial. As women, this is one of our biggest downfalls. The love we lack for ourselves, we try to seek in others. We have voids we try to fill with relationships, sex, social media, material things, and so many others things that have no value. We try to fix men or women that are broken because there are broken parts of us that we need to attend to. Baby girl, that is not how this works!

I can say that I have been that woman. I tried to fix broken people because I was broken. I lacked self love and I looked for it from outside sources. The lack of self love has caused me to do things I didn’t have any business doing. I tried to get the love I didn’t have for myself elsewhere. If I didn’t receive it from outside sources, my self worth and self esteem was diminished. I gave my body to a man at a time I really was not ready, I’ve tried to hurt myself; I have even attempted suicide because I really used to hate myself. I really used to wake up and look in the mirror and cry and ask God why he made me the way I was. I was never happy or content with myself. If it wasn’t my skin, it would be my weight, if it wasn’t my weight it would be my hair…I was so hard  on myself and it really took a toll. I had no self worth, and because of it, I allowed people to treat me any kind of way. Knowing your worth and having self love goes hand in hand. Self worth is a product of self love. You need one in order to get the other.

Self love is being patient with yourself. It is understanding you are a work in progress and that is okay! As women, we put so much pressure on ourselves. We strive to be perfect when in the fact the world just needs us to be us. The world needs us to be our unique and individual selves. When you love who you are, you ACCEPT who you are. Accepting yourself is a product of self love, and it is a tool that is needed when you embark on the journey to self discovery.

The journey to self love is not easy  and it won’t happen in a day, in fact I’m still on this journey to loving me. Just a few weeks ago, I had one of those days where I was struggling with self-acceptance (which will happen). I spoke to a close friend of mine and she gave me a task (I suggest everyone should try this out.) She told me to write down everything I loved about myself and the things I didn’t. I did it and I looked over the things I didn’t like and I sought to see how I could fix those that were fixable. If I couldn’t fix it, I made the decision to accept them. For example…love my legs….hate my stomach, what am I going to do? Get my behind up and workout, lol. One thing I cannot fix is my slight lazy eye. What am I going to do? Accept it and move on. I’m fire regardless!

You cannot allow little things to stop you from loving you and being the best you. If your past is stopping you from love, forgive yourself. Everyone has a past and everyone makes mistakes. You owe it to yourself to move on. Look within and see what issues you need to confront in order to fully love and accept yourself. Self love is the key to a happy self. Be confident in who  you are. If need be make improvements (absolutely nothing wrong with improving btw, its needed!), but do not let it consume you.

Life is way too short to not live it in its beauty and fullness. Stop hiding behind insecurity, low self esteem, shame, or guilt. Make the effort to love you. Start with a prayer. Ask God to help you find self love and acceptance. From there do whatever makes you happy!

Self love is about embracing you and loving every part of you. It is about confronting your darkness and choosing to allow your light to shine. Its about not letting the opinions of others define you. Its about taking care for your mind, body and soul. Most importantly, its accepting yourself those days your thoughts betray  you and they’re constantly telling you you’re not beautiful or worthy. Don’t let any of it deter or stop you! You are powerful just for being you. Find yourself and love yourself, it is the first step to a better you and a closer step to becoming a happier you.

Toxic Traits Pt. 2: Identifying traits in others

While it is important to identify toxic traits within yourself, it is just as important for you to see if those traits are within those around you. Dealing with people that are toxic is draining and dangerous and honestly it can cause you to pick up on a few unhealthy traits yourself. In addition to that, they bring a dark aura in your life that is definitely not needed. Toxic people honestly are hurt people who look to hurt others. They prey on the people with good hearts and they manipulate it in so many different ways. They hold traits that can literally destroy. If you do not know how to identify certain toxic traits within other people, here are a few:

Manipulation: If you are in a relationship/friendship with someone and they are constantly getting you or other people to do what they want them to do, they are manipulative. People like this often think it is about them, and they will use whatever they feel necessary to get what they want. There is no equity in the relationship, it is extremely one-sided. You just see yourself catering to their every whim when none of that energy is returned.
Belittling others: People who are toxic are always bringing other people down. They talk down on others and make them feel low. If you find yourself in that type of situation with your friends or significant other, it is hard. They’re condescending and they make you feel bad for being you. They find fault in everything you do. Either you look wrong or you’re doing something wrong, and it seems that they are never satisfied or content with you or anything that you do. This one may be hard to identify because it may seem like they’re trying to help you, but pay attention to tone, and how often it is that they’re saying negative comments.
Projecting past hurt on others: This one is easily mistakable to do, but when it becomes constant, it becomes toxic. No one wants to get hurt and everyone is trying to guard and protect their heart, but if they are constantly comparing you to the past, if they are not trying to let go and move forward, and they hurt you like they were hurt for whatever reason, that person is toxic. You do not deserve to pay for the sins of others especially when you genuinely care. If you are in a relationship and your significant other is bringing up their ex and how you are doing them like this person or that person, stop that quick…..or let them know if it continues, you’re gone.
Inconsistency: A BIG one. Often times we make up excuses for those who are inconsistent but ladies, and gentlemen, this has to stop. Inconsistency in a relationship or friendship is indeed a toxic trait. Some people may question how, but it’s extremely unfair! They are keeping that person in limbo and not allowing them to move on. They leave when they want to and they come back when they want. They play on the emotions of the other party making them feel obligated to stay, when in fact they really do not have to.
Envious/Jealous: A dangerous one. I call this the dangerous one because you never know the lengths people go to when they are jealous or envious. It’s a dangerous game and you never know the outcome. People with extreme jealousy or envy like to sabotage the life others. They project their insecurities onto you and make you seem like you’re crazy. I try as much as possible to stay away from people like this because sometimes they got the game messed up, and yeah….they’re just a different type of people. It’s different to be jealous once in while but to live in that realm of jealousy and envy, it’s really wild.
Negative Attitudes: Honestly, with this one, I had to cut a few friends off. People with bad attitudes for no apparent reason really blow mine. They have an attitude and they take it out on you. You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them and not upset them. In reality, no one has time for that. No one has time to be around people with dark and disgusting vibes. It’s 2018, we are out here trying to live our best lives, no one wants to entertain this type of person, at all.
“Blamers”: I didn’t really have a name for this trait so I just made one up, lmao. Blamers are people who always make everything seem like it is your fault. They never take responsibility, but they know how to put the blame on others! they do not apologize (which is another toxic trait within itself), and they put all their feelings unto you. They will always defend how they feel with complete disregard to how you do, and it will always be your fault.

Toxic people are broken people. They are looking for people to fix them. They look for sympathy and try to seek it in people who are good people. Their problems are never really solved or fixed so they get joy from bringing drama, pain, and agony to other people. No one deserves to deal with people like this. It is not our job to fix people (not saying you can’t or you shouldn’t), but do not take on that burden. Especially, if you are broken yourself. Dealing with a person like this can drain you emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. Do not allow yourself to become a victim. If you were reading this post, and some people popped into your head, you might have to re-evaluate those relationships. It may be hard because this might be a person that is near or dear to you. Ayaba, what it boils down to is who do you love more, yourself (and your sanity and peace) or them?

Toxic Traits: Identifying them within yourself

When people talk about toxic traits it is often related to relationships, but no one ever discusses those that dwell within yourself. One of the hardest things to do in life is to be completely honest with yourself. To completely read yourself for fillthhhhh. A lot of times we blame other people for things, but sis…sometimes its YOU.
I know I always say whatever particular topic I’m writing about is “hard for me”, but this stuff is really hard, lol. Growth is never an easy thing, but to become who you need to, it is essential. Anyways, as hard as it may be to understand, but in certain situations, it is in fact you. There are certain TOXIC traits that you harbor, that brings so much negative energy to your life. We’re so quick to identify the toxicity in other people, but can you do it to yourself? Personally, I was THE number one person calling people out on all their BS. I’d tell you if you were bitter, jealous, angry, etc., but when other people brought my own traits to my attention, sis was in denial. I didn’t have a major epiphany for my need to change, but I just simply noticed how I treated people or the things that I would say…I just saw a lot of my shortcomings and it really bothered me.
I had a lot of toxic traits that I worked to get rid of (some are still there, but God is working on me, lol). I was extremely jealous. If certain things did not work out for me, but they worked out for others, I’d be hurt. If they were going after their dreams and becoming successful, I would always find something to hate on. I compared myself to others a lot, especially appearance wise. Being too big or not thick enough was a major issue and till this day I still have somewhat of an issue. At times I can be very pessimistic (mind you, I hate pessimistic people), I just carried a negative aura at times and it affected those around me. It is important to self-evaluate every so often because you do not want to be that person. It isn’t fun, lol. Oh yeah, I was also VERY judgmental. I didn’t care who you were, I judged you, lmao. It’s not funny, but thinking back it’s like who in the world did I think I was to put myself in the position to judge others. Like, I’m really hilarious, lmao. To be honest, the list goes on..lack of trust, passive aggressiveness, insecurity, projecting my fears unto others, I could keep going. I do want to pause and say I wasn’t this crazy person all the time. I didn’t exude all these things at once, but over the course of time I did notice and identify them.
To identify your traits it’s all about self-evaluating. It even helps to ask your closest friends. I used to ask my friends all the time what is something I need to change, or what characteristic do I have that’s detrimental but I don’t notice. If you truly believe you do not have any toxic trait, you’re lying to yourself. To be honest, I understand if you really truly believe you don’t, its really easy to believe, but in the end, all you’re doing is hurting yourself. We are all human, and no one is perfect, but that isn’t an excuse to not work towards a better you. It is very important to get rid of these traits. Some people don’t know what certain toxic traits are so below are a few:

Manipulation
-Stinginess
-Negativity
-Sensitivity (being too sensitive)
-Lack of Empathy
-Jealousy
-Judgemental

Now, that you have a few examples of toxic traits here area few indicators to help you identify if you have them:
1. People no longer want to be around you– If you are the negative nancy and you bring down a good vibe, you gotta go sis. No one wants that type of person in their space. Especially since we live in a world that is negative enough. People will not want you around, and you will see it. You’ll start to notice people just do not want you around. If their energy changes when you walk up, you all don’t hang out as much as you used to, or they always suddenly just have to go….maybe jusstttttt maybe, it’s you.
2. You notice yourself always talking about someone-This one was one of my biggest toxic traits. I would literally find the bad in everyone. If they just graduated, “finally”,  whole timeeee I didn’t even graduate on time, lmao. I remember once, I heard the words coming out of my mouth and I was like ”damn, I sound like a hater”, and from that moment on I told myself I would stop.
3. If your friends don’t confide in you about their issues-I remember one of my best friends had told my other best friends her issue. We were all talking and they were discussing it. I was mad because she didn’t tell me. I low-key went off. She graciously gathered me all the way together and expressed I was extremely judgmental. When she talked to me about certain things, she felt worse after we spoke. When your best friend tells you that, its heartbreaking. That’s not what the relationship is supposed to be like.
4. You find yourself never content with your life-Now, nothing is wrong with wanting more for yourself, but if you’re never happy with what you have due to the fact that you’re looking at what God gave others, it is a no-go. This is dangerous because you become greedy, and you will find yourself doing crazy things to get to where other people are. Keep in mind everyone’s story is different. Everyone’s time for glory is different. Stop comparing. Your time will come.
5. Bad situations just always seem to find you-If you find yourself in a bad situation all the time, you might be apart of the problem. What you put out into the world is what will return. If you are constantly negative and putting others down, how do you think the world will reward you? You think you’ll….be blessed? No. You have to be the change you seek. Start inward. Look at what you need to change and go from there. Be a pillar of light, and not a cloud of darkness. Do not put out bad energy, because it will surely find you. Like Wizkid said, bad energy stay far away!

Now, these aren’t the only indicators of you having toxic traits, but they are a start. If you can identify with any of the traits or indicators above, its time to make a change. Toxicity should have no place in your life. It can cause a lot of damage and pain. Being toxic is like a poison and it affects everyone you come in contact with. It can leave you feeling like an outcast in your own life. It is best to identify them early and try and find out the cause. I always tell myself I have one life to live, and I want to spend it as happy as possible being the best me. That should be a mentality you adapt to as well. It should be no reason you are bringing all this bad energy into your life. You should live it being happy and doing what you love. Ayaba, we don’t have time for toxicity, we should be getting to the bag and working to make our dreams come true, period.

Forgiveness

If I were to sit here and tell you all that forgiving those who hurt you is pretty easy, I’d be telling you the biggest lie. Forgiving is one of the most difficult things to do, but it is also one of the most important. When you make that decision not to forgive, you take on a heavy burden, and eventually it will consume you;  consequently, it’ll ruin you. When it comes to forgiveness, you have to understand it is not for the other person or people, it is ultimately for you. When you make that choice to forgive, you set yourself free. I know this is easier said than done, but it will bless you. I am the last person to talk about the importance of forgiveness, but with what I experienced, I knew I had to share.

One of the hardest experiences I faced was the betrayal of a loved one. Family. Without getting too detailed (I know I preach transparency, but for the sake of the parties involved, I can’t get too detailed), this person literally ruined my life, lol. They were the reason my family relocated to Maryland. Prior to the move, everything was gravy. Once we moved, the switch up was realllllll! Because of this individual, my family and I went through the hardest of times. To keep it a stack, I really don’t know how we’re here today. Anything someone can possibly go through, we went through. From being robbed, to the death of our Grandfather, to almost facing homelessness, to so many other unspeakable things; this person was the cause of it all. So many things happened, but the worst of it was putting us through all this and abandoning us. To sacrifice for someone you love only for them to leave was a different type of betrayal.

With the events that occurred, I was affected the worst.  It affected me in so many ways. Out of all, the worst was the hatred. I am a really nice person, and I give people chances (sometimes too many), but this situation turned me into someone ugly. I was very bitter and I trusted no one. Guys, when I say I hated this person, I hatedddd them. That word cannot even fathom the amount of hate I had towards this person. I won’t even hold you, it was bad. It spilled into other areas of my life. I didn’t trust anyone, I was nasty to people, I didn’t want any new friends for fear they’d just come and leave; I just wasn’t myself. The resentment really took over me.

I really want to reiterate and lament how much this situated affected me because it nearly destroyed me. Ask my friends, they know. I was super defensive, I would snap on people, and try to embarrass them. I started losing people because of how I was treating them. I was fighting with my family members, and it caused me to stress. As a result, my weight was up and down, I was breaking out, and I had really bad headaches. I was tired of this happening so I decided to make one of the hardest choices ever, forgive and let go.

I won’t lie, it hurt like hell. To really let all the things this person did go, and charge it to the game? Nope! I couldn’t do it. For a while,  I fought it, but it took a lot of reflection and prayer to actually go through with it. After much thinking, I realized that most of this derived from pain and fear. I feared that the process would keep repeating itself. I would let someone in fully, and they’d purposely hurt me and abandon me. I’m a tough person, so admitting I was hurt took a lot as well. It was annoying because I would come home from school and relax, and I would start thinking about the situation all over again. To think that I made the conscious effort to let this person in and they purposely hurt me was driving me absolutely wild. I was literally going crazy thinking about it all day. Also, seeing how it affected my family, especially my mother, made the situation 20x worse.

After all this reflecting and realizing, it took a lot of effort and prayer to forgive. I did not want to at all, but I knew if I wanted to be happy I had to. Again, it was not easy but it was necessary. I learned so much in this situation. It taught me a lot about power, emotions, pain, freedom, etc. While I would not wish what my family and I went through on anyone, I appreciate the journey.

I learned that forgiveness isn’t for those who hurt you, it is in-fact for YOU. It is needed in order for you to move on and live your life. I was hurt and I didn’t give myself time and space to heal. I had to ask myself who am I not to forgive? Every day I hurt God by doing one sin or another, and I ask him to forgive me. If he can forgive me, why can’t I forgive others? My good friend brought up a point and said that in the Lord’s prayer, it says “…..forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us….” Like what?! God is telling me he’ll forgive me as I forgive others. No matter how much they hurt me. I wished so much bad on this individual, but in the end, I left them for God. God will you fight for you, he will vindicate you, and he will judge those who hurt you. I learned forgiving doesn’t mean you are weak. This was a big one because I hate feeling weak. Whenever I say I forgive, I feel like I’m being sweet and people will try and play with me again, but that was my pride talking. I had to let her go too, lol. Pride?  She will cause you to miss your blessings and so will choosing not to forgive.

Yes, It will hurt at first. You will fight it or cry about it like I did. There will be times where you will say no they don’t deserve it, but it won’t hurt anyone but you. The other person does not care. They’re still going on about their life, and you should do the same! Forgive. Let it all go. Do whatever you have to, but free yourself from the ugliness in your heart. I promise it will be worth it. You may not feel like that right now, but God will take control. You deserve happiness, peace, freedom, and everything forgiveness gives, so give it to yourself.

How To Be A Girl Boss

For this blog post I wanted to do something different. I’m very big on supporting other women and collaborating sooooo….I wanted this post to embody both of those things. Lately, I have had  this “Boss Up” mentality and I decided that I wanted to do a post on it, but I wanted to bring in someone who really embodies what it means to be a GIRL BOSS. At that point, I knewwwww I had to call on my sis Olamide Abimbola.

I met Olamide or “Lami” in 2013 at a church retreat and we’ve been cool ever since. She has become something like a big sister to me. She is such a great person with a pure heart, but what I respect about her most is her grind. Babyyyyy, she emulates what it means to hustle. From doing hair, to singing, to owning her own fashion company, she does it all!

Lamide is the CEO and founder of her company Wardrobe798. Wardrobe798 is an online store created to find unique fashion statements to make your outfit pop. It is the perfect combination of African culture and Miami style. She started this company almost a year ago, and sis has been Bossed up ever since!

In this post, we talk about her business journey and what it means to be a Girl Boss!

Me: Okay, so first tell us a little bit about yourself!

Lamide: “So…..My name is Olamide but most call me Lami… I am 26 years old born and raised in Miami, FL but of Nigerian descent. I graduated from Florida A&M University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in healthcare management.  I’m all for a good vibe. I love music, fashion, dancing, good food, creating, and praising God just to name a few. Some call me the social butterfly.  I started my business Wardrobe798 a year ago, and I thank God for the growth ever since.

Me: Great! Now that we know a little bit about you, what does it mean to be a Girl Boss and how do you become one?

Lamide: Listennnnn, my definition of being a girl boss, is being independent, making a purpose or solving problems. A strong woman with leader characteristics and skill. It’s not just about the title or money, its being inspirational and having some type of impact on others. Some women are naturally born leaders/bosses and some learn how to be…..let me teach you.

To be a girl boss, you have to constantly educate yourself (be open to learning), you have to be strong, and be ready to stand out. When having this mentality, you have to learn how to take some losses and charge it to the game #PERIOD. Expect it. Don’t put anything past anyone or anything. You also have to have a million dollar mindset, great thing start from inside-out. It’s so important to love what you do and have a passion for it. Most important, keep God first in all things you do he is the ultimate creator.

Me: Okayyyyy sis, feeling your energy! What inspired you to start a business?

Lamide: My love for fashion! I love dressing up and putting things together and my love for it pushed me to start a fashion brand. I wanted to own a business I would enjoy doing while inspiring people. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m literally the”Jane of all trades”, I do it all. My love for learning also inspired me. I watch and try to teach myself things and I just really love to create! Oh yeah, and my mom! She inspired me. She’s a hustler! She goes out and she gets it. She can sell you the shirt of your back. I took that mentality and I ran with it.

Me: Why did you chose the business you chose?

Lamide: What inspired me to start Wardrobe798 was the compliments of many people on how I put my outfits together. I always had my own style. Wardrobe is a touch of my culture and pieces to make simple outfits pop. I just love fashion because it’s all about the individual. I felt like that was the perfect business for me to own. Not only do I love fashion, but I love my culture. My culture is so rich and royal and I wanted my brand to embody that. My brand represents royalty and the appreciation of diversity.

Me: What has been some setbacks in relation to your business, and how did you overcome?

Lamide: Setbackkksss? HEYYYYYYYYYY. Let me tell you!

Number one setback I would say is procrastination. This business will be a year since its official launch next month. Prior to starting, I would say “I want to start a fashion business, but everyone is doing it” or honestly, I was fearful of actually putting it out there. Due to this, I put off my plans and kept procrastinating. I would find an excuse. I made a lot of excuses. I was being my own setback so yeah for me it was procrastination.

Now? I’m on it! Haha, sis, what is a setback? Can’t stop me now, Thank God

Me: Haha, what motivates you?

Lamide: Sis, Im trying to be an international business babe “laughs”. What keeps me going is the drive and the hustle! I love the game of this business. The fact that I get to own/run a business is so gratifying! I will be on the Forbes list one day known for greatness and success! I claim it. I read a lot & listen to music that moves my spirit, it helps me create. What keeps me going is becoming a better me.This isn’t something just for hype, it’s my legacy and my future. In addition, GOD is a big key factor to staying motivated. It’s very important when it comes to having faith and praying. One of my fav bible verses is Genesis 1 vs 28.

Me: What are three things every entrepreneur should have to start a successful business?

Lamide: Number one, a plan.  Number two, quality. Whatever you’re doing, whether it is a service or an product, make sure its quality. Don’t sell ppl BS. Number three, I don’t have a particular word for it, but JUST DO IT. Stop the excuses and start now. Whatever you have on your heart to do and accomplish, start now. JUST DO IT.

Me: What are three things every entrepreneur needs to maintain a successful business?

Lamide: First, consistency. You have to be consistent. I cannot stress that enough. I don’t care if you have two followers (customers). If you have two followers, post till you have three! Keep going. Don’t look at the numbers in the beginning. Understand that great things take time

Second, Investments. Investing in yourself and your business is so essential. You have to spend money to make money. When running your own business, there will be things that will hurt the pocket, but you have to make sure it’s worth it. For example, paying to protect your business.

Lastly, preparedness. When you make the decision to become an entrepreneur, understand anything can happen. You just never know. You have to be prepared for whatever comes your way. You have to mentally prepare, but always maintain a positive mindset. Be ready for the ups and the downs (because they will come) and be ready for lack of support. This is very important, because not everyone will support you like they say they will, and as a business owner, you can’t take it personal (one of those things you have to just charge to the game).

Me: Is having a 9-5 while being an entrepreneur Ideal?

Lamide: YES. It all depends on the individual and their circumstances. I currently work a full time job and run my business at the same time. It can get overwhelming at times, but you have to make your 24hrs work for you. Eventually business will get to a level where you can go fulltime with entrepreneurship, and not have to work for anyone, that’s the goal.

Me: As far as branding and marketing goes, what inspired you. What do you go for?

Lamide: When it comes to branding, it is important to start off with self, and that is exactly what I did. I started off with myself, I make sure to reflect what my company represents, royalty. Then I started rocking my own product. If I can’t wear what I’m selling, how do I expect people to buy my stuff? I started wearing my merchandise without telling people to see if they had interest.

When it comes to marketing, you have market yourself. Trust your own brand, post yourself, and utilize people around you. I use my sisters, my friends, and social media. I started using these outlets for my business rather than “just for fun”. Although social media is a very important tool, I also don’t get stuck on technology. You actually have to go out. I marketed in hair salons, events and pop-up shops.

Me: What advice would you give to anyone that wants to start a business or has quit on their dream to start one?

Lamide: Do whatever you want to do but it starts with your mindset. You have to be patient. Understand good things take time. Never give up. Someone can work hard for 2-3 years and the fourth year blow up! Don’t give up!

When owning a business, don’t just look at the dollar sign, make sure it is something you love.

Be original. Don’t fake it! Do whatever you want to do, be confident, and believe in yourself. If one don’t work move on to the next great thing.

For those who quit, it is never too late. We all get distracted and want to quit, but keep going. I have my days, but you have to shake it off and get on track. You got this ❤

——————-

Life is about taking chances and risks, and so is business. I hope this post inspires all my Girl bosses to just go for it! Boss up. Educate yourself, plan, execute, and have patience. Most importantly put it before God. I hope that this helps you and pushes you to make that first move, go out and do it!

 

Know Your Worth

I can honestly say the journey to knowing my own worth has been an extremely difficult one. I did not always value the person I saw in the mirror, nor did I see her as worthy. I had low self esteem which played the biggest role in me not seeing my worth. It allowed me to put others before me. I defined myself  through other people and stupid things like popularity and positions. After a while, it became seeing my worth through others.

Like I always say, I’m not a big “relationshippyyy” type of gal. I rarely trust people andI hate vulnerability, and whenever I feel like I’m being vulnerable…I run, lmao. But a few years back I met someone that I felt was worth that. I then got into a “situationship”. I’m low-key glad it happened because it made me see that I didn’t value myself. My value came from whether or not he valued me. I eventually wanted a relationship, and he didn’t….this is what really messed me up. I took this as I’m not good enough or I’m not worthy enough, and things went south from there. I looked as myself as the issue. What it really was was that he just wasn’t ready to be in a relationship but I really had a complex and I believed it was me. Because I measured my worth through his eyes, I allowed myself to stay into something when I knew I deserved better. What it boiled down to is lack of self love. I didn’t know how to love myself…and essentially I lost myself.

Thinking back, I realized I went through this period because there were certain things God wanted to teach me. I had to learn how to love me for me. Regardless of position, status, or whatever. I had to learn to be confident in the woman I am… confidence and self worth go hand in hand. Confidence is a product of knowing your worth. Again, self love also plays a major role. When you love yourself, you set standards and you know what you deserve. This isn’t limited to relationships but in your careers, FRIENDSHIPS, etc….Don’t ever sell yourself short. 

From my “know your worth/self love” journey I’ve learned when you know worth, you keep away from anything or anyone that is a detriment to you. You don’t tolerate just anything. You’re mindful of who you give yourself to…I had to learn this the hard way because not everyone deserves you. You have to protect the woman that you have fought so hard to become. Love yourself. You can’t teach people how to love you when you don’t even have the slightest idea how. It. Won’t. Work. Sis. It just won’t, lol. You have to also be mindful of those you keep around. You need friends or people around you who see the worth in you……especially when you don’t see it in yourself. This is so crucial because my friends did this day in and day out, and I really want to thank them. When I was allowing people to walk over me and mistreat me, they were there. They never condemned me or judged me. They helped me and encouraged me to love and accept myself. A sister circle is so essential y’all, I am telling youuuuu.
To everyone that is struggling to see their self worth, there are 3 things I would advise you to do:

1. Pray. It may sound cliche, but seriously pray. Prayer is needed because self doubt, self loathing, and lack of self love are spirits the enemy uses to destroy you. You have to be in consistent prayer.

2. Take this time to get to know you. Write notes about what you like about yourself. Figure out what you want to improve about yourself. Do something you love. Post positive affirmations. Fall in love with you! Honestly what I had to do was take time away from everything and everyone, and I had to find me.

3. Everyday look in the mirror and tell yourself you are worthy. You’re worthy of all the good things coming your way. Regardless of what you’ve been though, what you’ve done, how you’ve been treated by others, or how you’ve treated yourself….know you are worthy. You are beautiful inside and out. You have a purpose. You are alive and breathing. You are great. You are loved. You are divinely favored. You are here. You ARE worthy. #PERIODDDDDDD (S/O City Girls #FREEJT)

In Transition

The theme of my year thus far has been all about transition/change. For me the two go hand in hand. Transition is a process of changing from one state or condition to another. Right now it is very evident that God is doing just that to me. God has taken me through many transitions and journeys, but right now I’ll have to say Im going through a very hard yet important one. I moved out on my own to a completely different state. When presented with the opportunity, I was terrified. Although change is needed to succeed and grow in life, it is something I really struggle with. Not only that, I knew this stage would come with many challenges and babbbbyyyyyyyy, ya’ girl was right, lol.

 

From working an entire summer with NO pay, to almost not having a place to live, to just going through every struggle imaginable….it has been rough, okay. There were many times I wanted to give up, and I’m pretty sure there will be many more, but one thing that this journey has taught me is to hang in there. To have hope…..It is so easy to dwell on the negative, but I’m literally in the process of transforming my mind to really focus and dwell on the good. I also reaffirmed that change/transition is in fact inevitable. Without it one does not progress or grow, or get to a level of desired success. Many changes will mold you and shape you into who you need to become for that next level in your life. It will be uncomfortable and there will be doubt, but you have to stay headstrong. This plays a vital role in becoming the best you.
I’ve learned so much about myself in this transition. It has taught me how strong I really am, and it has showed me how great I will and can be. I also learned the power of faith. It was days I didn’t know how things would work, I would pray and by the end of the day….there was a solution (We thank Gawwwdddd). In this time I have meet some of the most genuine people ever. They helped me in my time in need, and it made me believe in people again. I’ve learned it is okay to be open and vulnerable. I say all this to say every transition or point of change in your life is worth it. Its purpose is to prepare you for what’s to come and as tough as this transition has been, I pray for greatness.

God’s Plan

 

Lately, a lot of things in my life have not been going according to my plan. I had planned to graduate, go immediately into my masters program, and jump start my road to medical school. This obviously has not happened. A lot of the things I planned for myself and my life haven’t always gone accordingly, but what I learned was that everything is going according to God’s plan.

When I was coming into college, I had convinced my self I had the perfect recipe for success. I had a plan and it was legit. My plan was to come to school, not get involved with anything (no orgs, clubs, nothing), get bomb grades, do not get romantically involved with anyone (because nobody has time for love when you’re on your way to the top, lol). I wanted to just get in and get out….in four years. This did not happen. While in college, I ended up being involved in everything. From Student Government, to modeling, to becoming Miss Black and Gold, to mentoring, to bio club for one semester (lmao), I did it all. Any and everything in between. Not only did I get involved, I definitely started talking to guys (even got my heart broken once or twice), my grades could have been better, and your girl definitely did not graduate in four years.

Even after I graduated from the Illusstriousssss Morgan State University (Shoutout to Morgan :)), I had a plan that I thought my life would take….Baybeeee, I was so wrong.
Once I graduated, I just knew I would get my dream job and I would start my journey to becoming Dr. Aribilola immediately….but uhmm yeah, that didn’t happen either. I had to put off my plans for school for later this year or early next year. Currently, I work as a substitute teacher and Ill be teaching full-time come August. These are not bad or horrible jobs, but these were not my dream job. Honestly speaking, the week after I graduated, I was depressed. Post-grad depression was real. It hit me hard and fast. Yes, I was happy I was finally done with school, but I felt so behind. All my friends were either in grad-school or were graduating, happily dating, financially secure, etc. I just felt so delayed. Amongst, all that I was going through a lot at home as well..financial issues, issues with my family….the whole 9 yards. I was just over it. I was lost, confused, pretty much every negative emotion, I felt it. This honestly made me question if becoming a Dr. was my career path and my purpose in life as well, but after taking to the GOAT A.K.A my mother, things became so much clear.

I just want to state the fact that I am so thankful for my mother. She’s everything to me and without her, I’d be so lost in life right now. Anyway, I was talking to my mom about all I was feeling and she kept saying trust God’s plan. Everything that you’re going through, everything that is happening is according to God’s plan. Just have faith. Crazy enough a few days after, Drake releases his song entitled “Gods Plan”.When I say I was shook, I was shooketh. When my mom was talking to me, I didn’t understand. How could God let all that was happening to me just happen? I was just si confused. I didn’t understand what was going on or what God was trying to tell me. But eventually I got it loud and clear, to trust him and his plan.

I learned that everything that occurs in ones life is intentional. Everything that happens is a stepping stone used to propel you to that next level in your life. For the longest I was so upset and embarrassed about not graduating on time. I used to hear it from my mother all the time. My friends were graduating one by one and they were doing pretty well. I was so irritated like, “God, why am I still here”? I was just so fed up in the position I was in. I didn’t understand that God delayed my plans to answer a prayer. I forgot my freshman year, I prayed to God about my father being at my graduation. No. Matter. What. Along the way I lost hope and I didn’t think it was possible,but the day I walked across that stage, my father was there to witness. If it had been according to my plan, I would’ve graduated on time and my dad would’ve missed it, but that plan was put on hold so he could be there.Yes, I was delayed, but that delay wasn’t a denial, it was a setback that had to occur in order for his plan to come to pass.

Same thing with college, God wanted me to get involved and get out of my comfort zone because there were things I had to learn and go through to prepare me for my next stage in life. I had to endure certain trials and tribulations to attain the tools and knowledge I have now. I can honestly say everything I have every been through has made me a better person, but in the moment you won’t see that. As I always say, just trust the process.
In LIFE, we make plans and when things do not go according to those plans we flip, but we have to understand to trust the process, (my GOD, trusting the process is so important), and understanding everything that occurs is according to God’s plan. Yes things may go wrong (as they will because thats life), but understand it is intentional. God is laying things out one by by one so that his plan is coming to pass. So stay faithful and stay the course.Take everything as it comes.……Everything is happening according to his plan.

What I learned during Lent.

What I Learned During Lent

Lent is known as a season where most people use this time to repent, fast, and evaluate. It’s used as a time for self-examination and self-reflection. Lent lasts for forty days (excluding Sundays) which represents the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. The season starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. This year I decided to finallyyyyy take it seriously and participate (because every year I start and never finish) and I am happy to say it was a journey that was worthwhile. I decided to reflect on myself and my life and here are a 4 things I learned during that time.

1, I learned that I did not love myself like the way I thought.

Note: I just want to say this point (and this blog post really) is fairly long and is pretty vague, so I’ll make an in-depth post about this particular point in the future.

Upon starting my blog, I vowed to be completely open and honest when writing and I wanted to take that theme into my fast. Sometimes in order to move forward you have to deal with certain things in your past. In doing so, you have to have a level of honesty with yourself and I feel like that is one of the most difficult things to do. What I found to be the root of a number of my problems was the fact that I was extremely insecure and I really didn’t love myself the way I thought I did. All I did was mask my insecurities with positions, accolades, and reputation. I’ve always struggled with insecurities but I thought I was over it. EL OH ELLLLL, I was wrongT.

I decided to fast from social media and it played a part in me coming to this discovery. I took away something that gave me validation. Not only that, graduating also played a major role in me coming to this realization. Having low self esteem and insecurities were always something I struggled with. When I tell people, no one believes me because I come off as crazy confident, but I wasn’t. My self esteem issues were pretty bad. It wasn’t like “oh I’m ugly today *sad-face*”, it was pretty extreme. I literally hated myself. I had body issues, abandonment issues, the list goes on….It got to a point that when I was 13 or 14 I wanted to commit suicide. Eventually, I went to high school and college (insecurities tagged along as well), but during those years I was coming into my own and I saw that people really liked me (I didn’t even peep, but the was the first issue! I was looking for the approval of myself through other people). I got to college, branched out even more and I made a name for myself. I got involved on campus, I knew all the “cool” people , and I was talking to guys, so I really thought like yeah…I have arrived. I love myself, I’m so confident and popping. Its lit.:). WrongT. All I was doing was getting validation and satisfaction in my popularity, positions, and, recognitions.

Graduation really helped me see that because once you graduate, you’re in the real world. The real world does not always care that you were popular on campus or that you SGA president (depending on your career because it does help in some ways). They care about the work you put in and how you’ll be an asset. So with all this taken away, I really had to sit and think do I love myself? Do I know who I am? Thinking back, I realized I let all these things and people define me and give me validation when in all actuality what they think really does not matter. Like ya’ll, it was so bad I would switch up who I was for a guy I’d talk to. I had to be honest with myself and really tell myself you’ve never confronted those issues. I never really got to the root of my insecurities.So I began to. I wrote in a journal and I talked about experiences that have affected me and the way I think about myself. Once I did this, I really prayed on it and i’m still praying on it. I pray(ed) for me to find my identity for myself and not rely on what others think or say about me. To love who I am despite my flaws or despite what people have said. What really gave me comfort was reminding myself that I am made in Gods image and in his eyes I’m perfect. Now, it really doesn’t bother me when I hear people speak down on me. I don’t let what they say define me or affect me. I’m not after anyones approval but God’s.

2. I learned about temperance.

For those who don’t know me personally or that well, I used to be very defensive and once I get into defense mode, baybeeeeee…..I attack. I would come for people or snap if I felt like someone was trying to play with me. It caused issues within my friendships and family and forced me to realize majority of the time, I’m the one that is tripping, lol. I was always so angry and very bitter and I didn’t want to be that anymore, like it’s draining. Plus, I was tired of giving people that much power over me and my emotions. And because they had that much power, I felt weak and vulnerable and I hateeee feeling that way. I also peeped that I acted like this because of my past. How people treated me and things I went through, it just made me extremely bitter and hurt. Im learning now that I have to let those situations go and forgive which is hard for me. So I added temperance and forgiveness to my prayer points. After I started praying, I started to see that I’m being be put in way more situations where I would be upset or angry. I would want to snap, but instead, I would just breathe and realize its not even worth my energy. There were times where I would go off and I’d be like “damn, you just did the most..go apologize”. In these situations God was testing me and helping exercise patience and temperance. It was done to help me grow. I learned to admit when I was wrong, not give people so much of me, and forgive. Its not every time pop off and get out of character. Sometimes its shhhh, be quiet.

3. I learned to take my walk with God seriously.

I grew up in a very religious home. My father is a pastor and my mom is a prophetess, so God was always in my life. I really gave my life to Christ (my own decision not because my parent forced me) at 16 and for a while I was doing good. My first year of college, I didn’t drink, I didn’t party..nothing. I was just so set on God, but of course I got caught up in the things of the world and I lost my way for a few years. I’d do this thing where I would go to God when I need something and then be out. When it was time for me to do my part, I’d disappear. Thankfully, I went to this church event the week before lent, and when I say I got my life y’all, sis got her life. I learned so much and it really made me realize I need to get back. What kept me away from God for so long was I thought I had to be perfect. I couldn’t sin not once, I couldn’t do this or do that, but what I’m learning is that God accepts you as you are. No one will be 100% holy. No is is never NOT going to sin. What matters is that you’re trying, and God sees your heart. Ask for forgiveness and its given to you. Now, that doesn’t mean sin 6 days a week and ask God to forgive you on Sunday and do it all over again. It means try your best, listen to him, follow him, and he’ll crown your efforts. With this in mind I began fasting more, praying more, and reading my bible more and it has made a huge difference in my life. God has come through in the last month in ways unimaginable. Its not hard to start, just tell God you want to grow closer and do better and watch how he will start to move.

4. Trust God’s Plan

Yo, when I say God really came through and showed outttttttttt. He really came through. It was so many things I was going through. I was facing so many problems in every area of my life. I was so lost. When I say post grad depression hit me the following WEEK, it was crazy. My friends were in grad school or they had perfect jobs and it seemed like life was just going right for them. Here I was unemployed and not in school….I just felt like a failure. I was so hurt up. I didn’t understand where I was going, what my purpose was, or what it was I was supposed to do, but God started showing me. I prayed a lot for guidance during this time in regards to my career, romantic relationships, friends, and a few other things. One by one, God started ordering it and I got clarity. I didn’t realize what was going on at first, but when I noticed I started losing friends and the romantic relationship (not a boyfriend guys, just someone I was talking to lol) I was in fell apart, I knew God was working. At first I was confused and lost because it seemed like everything was falling apart, but God was just breaking certain things apart to put a better picture together. Prior to lent I didn’t have a good job, but I do now. I didn’t have a plan for my life, but I do now. I didn’t love myself, but guess what I’m learning to now. I say ALLLL this to say, I challenge you to seriously and actively participate in lent. You will see what God will show you. Put him first and he will do the rest. So lent 2019, DO IT! Take it seriously and just watch how shifts will be made in your life. I won’t sit here and say it was easy, because it wasn’t, but in the end it was worth it!

Let Go of Fear

 

Its 4:38pm…February 9th, 2018. I’m on this airplane literally sitting here staring at my laptop. I thought I finally had enough courage to open up and begin writing, I was wrong. For the past 30 minutes, I just been here staring at a blank screen…. I was literally stuck, but then it hit me. I finalllyyyyyy realized…I’m really just scary. I’m legit scared, haha. Scared as hell in fact lmao. Okay, let me rewind…..

About three years ago, I had this strong desire to start a blog. At the time, I was very depressed. I was in a really low place. I was drinking everyday, blacking out, crying all the time. It was really bad. Now that I think about it, I could honestly say I was really losing myself. One day I was at home, and the idea came to me out of nowhere. When I first thought of it, I was soooooo excited. I stayed up every night for about a month or two doing research, figuring out a name, trying to find a theme, anything you can think of pertaining to blogs, I was up looking it up, okay. I was focused sis. NO games were being playedT.
It took about a month and some change for me to fully come up with my name, color scheme, the whole sha-bang, IT WAS LIT. I was ready to go. Then it hit me. With starting a blog (at least the type of blog I want to put out), you have to put yourself out there. If you want it to reach people and inspire, you really HAVE to be open,  transparent and honest. Now, if you know me, you know transparency, opening up, and communicating are things I struggle with. I do not communicate. It physically hurts me to share my feelings, I get nauseous and squirmy and it just hurts (childish, I know), and I am not the type to just share details about my life with just anyone. This really freaked me out and I was scared. So I did what I always do when I’m scared, I loafed. For years I kept making different excuses. “The timing isn’t right”, “I’m just not ready” or my go-to excuse “I HAVE to do a photo shoot, and it hasssss to be lit.” (Till this day my ass still has not done a photoshoot.)
I literally came up with every excuse in the book, and as I did this many of my friends started following their dreams and really putting in work. They started blogs and businesses and they’ve really flourished. Like it really inspired me and it made me just evaluate myself I was just like, damn sis…you’re really playing. So I promised myself, in 2018, no games. I’m dropping this. Its going to happen and whatever God wants it to become, it will become.
I originally wanted to drop it in January, but I was scared yet AGAIN. I was just letting time pass me by and my scary behind was content. That was until I was scrolling down me feed on  Instagram and I saw a post and it said “Don’t let your head talk you out of what God has told you in your heart”. When I say this hit me, it HIT me. You see often times God gives us desires in our hearts, and he tells us that these desires are yours. It is attainable. It can happen. All you have to do is put in the work, trust him, and trust the process. It seems pretty simple, but we as humans, we have doubt. Not only do we doubt the process, but we doubt ourselves and we doubt God as well. Who knows where my blog could be right now? How many people I would’ve inspired? Or how many things I could’ve done? Although I am a firm believer that everything happens at the right time, I had to learn how to get out of my own way. I’d put myself down and sell myself short.Whenever I thought about this blog, I would just tell myself  “nobody cares what you have to say” or “no one will read your blog”. I was my own worst enemy. I literally shot down every idea I ever had all because of fear. There was fear of failure, fear of what other people would think of me or what I’ve done or been through. I promised myself I’d let fear go.  So as this is the first blog post of many to come (hopefully, I pray I don’t punk out and not post this lmao), I challenge each and every one of you to leave fear behind. Whatever it is you want to do, go for it! Even if you fail embrace it, it is all apart of the process. Move forcefully in the direction of your dreams. Keep those doubts out and just do it. Whatever you want this year, for yourself, for your life, just do it. Even if no one believes in you, believe in yourself, and enjoy the journey.
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The entire purpose of this blog is to inspire. Inspire my fellow friend, enemy, sister, Queen, whoever…this blog is for US. I want this to be a space where as you read and you hear my story, you learn and you grow as I am. You win with me, you lose with me; you take every mistake I make and learn a lesson. You use your struggles not to stop you but to empower you, to build you up, to make you stronger, and to push you keep going. This is my journey through life and I hope throughout this topsy-turvy mess, you’re inspired and you also find your way. …So from one Ayaba to another…this is just the beginning.