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.