International Women’s Day: Celebration of Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pussy agaiiiiiiiiin?……oh..ok…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! 💓


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

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

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

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

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Valentine🌹

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

*Designed to play straight through, no shuffle.

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!


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 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

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!