CEOMOM Spring 2019

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Spring 2019








Mixi Avenue produces all natural products using premium ingredients to give your hair and skin optimal nourishment.

CONTENTS 05 FROM THE EDITOR In our Spring 2019 issue we are redefining beauty by going beyond the veil to illustrate what we think makes a woman beautiful.

06 BECOME THE FACE OF YOUR BRAND Five reasons to amp up your visibility in today’s marketplace presented by Mallika Malhotra

42 MAKEUP TIPS FOR MOTHER'S DAY Four tips for this Mother's Day from New York makeup artist Markphong

48 MEET LISA DURUPT Actress Lisa Durupt discusses being a new mom and her new movie of hope and miracles, Breakthrough, starring Chrissy Metz and Josh Lucas.



REDEFINED. BEAUTY. Editor-in-Chief Vonna Matthews

Contributing Designer Photo Editor Tia Mowry Photography Contributing Photographer Contributing Photographer Contributing Photographer Contributing Photographer Contributing Photographer Contributing Writer Contributing Writer Contributing Writer

Taly Melo Krystal Jackson Diana Ragland Mallika Malhotra Samantha Qeja Belle Imagery Portraits Octavia Whitlowe, For Beauty Sake Dc Lovensky Markphong Mallika Malhotra Andra Liemandt

Editorial Office Little Elm, Texas 75068 +1-972-302-9150 | CEOMOM Magazine is published by For Her Media Little Elm, Texas 75068 | +1-972-302-9150


Mother's Day is around the corner. We celebrate moms and all they do for their families and their communities. As the conversation about self care continues to permeate the mainstream, we are forced to evaluate how we perceive ourselves, that includes our beauty. We are constantly seeing images of what society considers to be beautiful. Conversations usually focus on exterior beauty, yet does perfectly curled hair or flawless makeup define beauty at its core. We believe that a woman feels good when she looks good, but that's not enough. True beauty is an experience, not a look. In this Spring 2019 issue we are discussing what makes a woman beautiful. It starts with defining beauty for herself. You get to decide what you consider as beautiful, not media or any elements outside of you. The next step is to go deeper than what you see. In this issue we are giving several characteristics that represent beauty by featuring women who exude beauty in all they do. From confidence to a servant's heart to the way you treat others, a beautiful mom is more than just a pretty face. Krystal Henry presents various components of beauty in her article Beauty Redefined. A beautiful mom has a sense of self that she presents to the world with confidence. That shows in her business and in the way she interacts with others. Mallika Malhotra of MikiFoto + Co gives us tips to become the face of our brand. Too often women hide behind the business when studies show that customers and clients connect with brands more when there's a face connected to it. We interviewed the beautiful Tia Mowry-Hardrict about her new role as mom of two and why she chose to share her challenges with endometriosis. She also gives us tips on how to plan for the chaos of everyday life.

Editor-in-Chief VONNA MATTHEWS

Vonna Matthews


Be the Face of Your Brand

Five reasons to amp up your visibility in today’s marketplace By: Mallika Malhotra The business world is crowded and complex. There are a million brands bombarding you with information, vying for your attention through email, social media, and even old fashioned TV ads. Consumers are highly distracted with all of the noise. With search engines like Google at their fingertips, customers are more educated on their buying options and more sophisticated in their decision-making process. It’s not enough to just advertise what your business does. If you want to build a stand-out brand, you have to build a relationship with your customer. To win the hearts and minds of today’s modern consumer, the power of storytelling and visibility must be utilized. It no longer works to hide behind our websites, our offerings, and our logos. We must all become the FACE of our brands. As CEO Moms, we must take that sometimes-scary leap to really show up in our marketing. It’s time to open up and share the many layers of ourselves with our audience. Powerful brands have depth, meaning and story — and that starts with YOU! Here are five reasons why visibility matters in building your business: It can build relationships faster. Business is no longer just an exchange of money for products and services. People want to do business with real people. They crave a personal, human, and emotional element — not just dealing with a faceless company. Your audience wants to SEE the heart of the brand and learn about you and the story behind your business. They want a personal touch. To develop the essential 'know, like and trust factor’, you’ll have to show up in your own marketing. Think about when you are hiring someone: the first page you often visit on their website is the About Me page. Why? Because we are naturally curious about who we are going to work with and what that might feel like. If we can see the person, we are able to decide quicker if they are the right fit. It can help you stand out. Our markets are saturated. Let’s be honest — the competition is fierce these days. There are so many people doing the exact same thing as you. Having photos of yourself on your website or on your social media will help boost your brand awareness and build a connection with your audience. It can demonstrate how you are different from the rest. It can showcase your personality and vibe. All important elements for making you memorable (especially when it comes time for your audience to hire or refer!).

Photo Credit: Mallika Malhotra


Photo Credit:

By putting yourself and your story out into the world, you’ll create a brand with meaning that captures the heart of your consumer. It can develop depth in your brand. When you share your message through video or photography, you can communicate your authentic story clearly. You can convey your purpose, your vision, and your values in a quick and engaging manner. Your audience will understand so much more about you than just the offerings you sell. By putting yourself and your story out into the world, you’ll create a brand with meaning that captures the heart of your consumer. It will inspire your audience, making them loyal fans. It can position you as a leader. Visibility will strengthen your brand reputation. The more you share your expertise, the more the world will view you as an authority and professional. Maybe you speak at a conference or on a podcast? These types of opportunities will create trust with your audience and differentiate you from the newbies and the hobbyists. Leaders don’t hide, they speak, teach, empower and support. By being the face of your brand, you can solidify this leadership status.

It can build community. We are made to connect with others. People long to be a part of a community where they can be united around a similar purpose and mission. When you open up and share your message in a genuine way, people with similar interests and desires are drawn in. They’re attracted to your message and want to connect with others who are attracted to that message as well. This is how you’re able to form a tribe of likeminded individuals around your brand. That cannot happen without your willingness to show up and connect with people, though. This is how a brand that people want to belong to is created. The business landscape is changing. We can no longer rely on traditional marketing tools to build our businesses. To stand out and develop strong consumer ties, we need to be transparent and visible with our story using tools such as video and photos in our communications. It doesn’t matter what size or industry you’re in, we should all be telling stories, creating content, and showing up. We need

We need to stop hiding and put a real face to our authentic brand. If you want to make an impact and build a breakthrough business, don’t miss the opportunity to become the FACE of your brand. It’s a critical element of success for small businesses in today’s modern marketplace. Mallika Malhotra of MikiFoto + Co is a professional photographer, brand strategist, and author of The Brand Photography Playbook. Former ad agency gal, Mallika now helps ambitious women entrepreneurs share their message with confidence and show up as leaders. Her mission is to empower women to stop hiding behind their business and confidently become the face of their brand. When she is not taking pictures or building brands, she’s at home with her three sons and husband, drinking coffee or red wine and dreaming about their next global adventure. For more information, email or visit


Ami Desai



A woman of many roles, Ami Desai is a mother, wife, host, highly sought after beauty and lifestyle expert and producer who has made it her mission to change the face and media representation of beauty. Growing up, Desai did not see many South Asian images of beauty in mainstream media. As her career evolved, she began to seek and create opportunities for diversity and inclusion in the beauty industry. “When you talk about diversity and inclusivity in the beauty industry, it’s not just race, but includes gender and age. It includes all of us.” With a background and education in journalism and communications, Desai has hosted for and has produced for E! Network, CNN and Her dedication to her craft separates her as a multifaceted journalist. Though she loves all things beauty, Desai is more interested in how you view your own beauty. CEOMOM chatted with Desai about her role as a modern mom and why diversity is so important to the beauty industry. Who is Ami Desai? I consider myself a mom first, a modern mom who is redefining what it means to balance motherhood, life and work. I appeal to the modern mom. The modern mom does care about self care. She prioritizes herself. She wants to be the person she is and has always been. In addition to being an entrepreneur, your career has included producing for E! Network,, CNN and Inside Edition, being a host for and going on the road with Oprah for the Life You Want Tour. To what do you attribute such a diverse career? How did you transition into being a makeup artist, hairstylist and beauty influencer? I think I have always had the interest and passion for both the entertainment space and beauty. A big thing for me is, I grew up in the 80’s. Diversity and inclusion are more popular now, but not when I was growing up.

I never saw anyone that looked like me on television so I would try to be something that I wasn’t. That compelled me as I got older and more mature. I just wanted to be in the space so that other people can see there are other people like me. I grew up in a traditional Indian family which meant going to college, getting your master's degree and going into medicine or law. For me, I had a big creativity with arts. In high school, I was asked where did I see myself in five years. I wanted a business related to hair and makeup, because I didn't see others who looked like me in that space. I wanted to make that change. I wanted to see if it was something I could do. My parents were supportive but said they didn't think I could do it. That compelled me to do it even more. I did it behind the scenes. I produced a lot. That set me up for really great training. Being behind the camera and producing prepared me to be in front of the camera. I know how shots should be set up and how I should speak. That allows me to separate myself from others. What is your definition of beauty? How does beauty play a role in self care? To me beauty goes so much deeper than what we see on the outside. I try to emulate this in what I teach my daughter. It starts with who you are on the inside. My mom used to tell me that what is on the outside will fade, but the one thing you can fall back on is your education and your character. I thought as soon as I became a mom I would trade in all of my heels for mom shoes. That didn't happen. I am still the person I was before. I can still dedicate time to myself doing a mask or my makeup. Self care does not equal selfish. If we don’t take care of ourselves first we can not take care of others. When you look good you feel good. People may look at me and think it took an hour for me to get ready. It takes me 10 minutes. It’s like exercising. If it’s something that is important to you, you will do it. It’s one thing I can do for myself.


Photo Credit: Dexter Brown

How can a busy mom incorporate a beauty routine into her daily schedule? I think it seems harder than it really is. It is little things like incorporating activities into your daily routine that you feel will benefit you. I like to keep a J-roller in my freezer to use when I wake up in the morning. I will turn the coffee machine on and prepare breakfast. I can just roll it on my face. I like to incorporate beauty regimens into my daily tasks. I tend to always multitask whether I'm putting on a mask while I exercise or putting on my face while I cook dinner. You can really find so many things you can use in your own house. I have some exfoliating scrubs I like to use. I put fresh sugar on them and use that to exfoliate my skin. The sugar helps to really fluff the skin cells. These are things my mom taught me back in the day. It is not something you have to spend tons of money on or do at a spa. What are your go to beauty products as it relates to skincare and makeup? I operate on the notion that good makeup starts with good skincare. Something I’ve added to my routine is microneedling at home. I have been using the GloPRO at home. It started in an office for a lot of doctors. It’s these little needles that prick your skin. The needles are causing your skin to regenerate itself. If you have large pores or post acne marks, this will help with that. You can use it with serum or moisturizer. It is not something you can use once and see results. Over time it helps tighten pores. It helps to diminish the look of dark spots. As far as makeup goes, I recommend having a good concealer and bronzer. A concealer helps tired eyes look fresh. One of my favorites is from the Milani cosmetics. It has just the right amount of shimmer in it. It gives your face that nice healthy glow.

You posted on social media that there is no such thing as work/life balance. How did you come to that realization? What should moms strive for instead of work/life balance? For me what should be strived for is work/life harmony. When you say balance you are thinking of a way to scale 50/50. I get asked that question so much from new moms who are getting ready to go back to work. Even if you are a stay-at-home mom, the biggest takeaway is there are going to be days, weeks and even months when you are giving a little bit more to one than the other. You may feel the guilt, because mom guilt is very real. You may be relying on your partner for help. Don’t feel guilty because months from now the tables will turn. You will be giving 80 percent at home and 20 percent at work. What’s next for Ami? I have a really great campaign with a great brand coming soon. My messaging has evolved since the beginning of my career in entertainment and television. When you talk about diversity and inclusivity in the beauty industry it’s not just race, but includes gender and age. It includes all of us. You come into this game, going to the various events and almost competing with different influencers for spots on campaigns. It feels really good when you are recognized for the fact that you are of a certain age but you are promoting self care and prioritizing self. I also have a beauty line that we are developing in the next two years. We are so excited. To learn more about Ami Desai, visit her at

As a beauty and lifestyle expert, social media influencer and mom, what are you teaching your children, especially your daughter, about beauty? One of the biggest things that I say over and over is I want my daughter to admire someone else’s beauty without questioning her own. There is room for everyone. So much perfection and curation is thrown at us that it is easy to question your own beauty. Appreciate what other people have to offer without questioning your own. Just be able to look at them and say they are beautiful. If you need self affirmation to tell yourself, my hair is pretty, then that’s fine. Just appreciate other’s beauty without questioning your own.

One of the big est things that I say over and over is I want my daughter to admire someone else’s beauty without questioning her own.


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I never saw anyone that looked like me on television so I would try to be something that I wasn’t. That compelled me as I got older and more mature. I just wanted to be in the space so that other people can see there are other people like me. AMI DESAI


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From child actor to bonafide television and film actress, Tia Mowry-Hardrict has grown up in the spotlight and continues to make her mark in Hollywood. We have watched her grow up, from a young girl on the hit television show Sister, Sister, where she acted alongside her twin sister, Tamera MowryHousley, to a career woman, wife and mother on the The Game. Now this mother of two, son Cree and daughter Cairo, with actor husband Cory Hardrict, is sharing glimpses of her life with fans on her popular YouTube show, Tia’s Quick Fix and her cookbook, Whole New You. Tia has several projects in the works including the new Netflix comedy, Family Reunion, alongside veteran actress Loretta Devine. CEOMOM chatted with Tia about what makes Family Reunion special, why she returned to TV and how a change in her diet transformed her life. Tia also shares tips to help busy moms plan for the chaos.

On your Lessons I Learned in 2018 episode of Tia Mowry’s Quick Fix you talked about the need for self care. What is your definition of self care? What are some ways you practice self care? My definition of self care is taking time out specifically for yourself. I was talking to someone about how as a working mom I sometimes feel guilty coming to work or doing something for myself. Of course, I do it to make sure my family and children are taken care of. How can the goose lay the egg if she doesn’t take care of herself? When it was put in that perspective, a light bulb went off for me. I had to change my perspective on what it means to take care of yourself. It is okay to nurture others, that is a natural instinct that women have. In order for me to be the best mom, wife, sister, girlfriend and employee I think it’s important to take care of myself so that I have enough energy to do what it is I am called to do or love to do. Once it was put into that perspective for me, I realized that it is okay to be selfish for an hour to take care of myself whether that is reading a book or watching my favorite television show or drawing a bubble bath for myself or listening to my favorite artist. I had to learn to make me a priority.


because of my diet change. Once I realized that the change happened because of my diet, I thought, I can’t keep this information to myself. Even though it was embarrassing and you become vulnerable, what good is it to keep it to myself. I wanted to share my story. I am African American and endometriosis affects a lot of African American women. Within my culture there is not a lot of connection with health and nutrition. I grew up in the South. I want to be able to give this knowledge to my family and community. I remember learning that dairy causes inflammation in the body. It had never been brought to my attention. I grew up drinking milk so I was shocked to learn about some of its effects.


ou’ve been very open about your journey with endometriosis. What was the defining moment that made you want to share your story? It was when I actually started to see improvement with my condition. I was on this journey of figuring out what was causing me severe pain which was a long journey for me. After connecting with the right doctor and having the right procedure for the diagnosis, I was able to get on a path to help the condition. I was told by my doctor to see a nutritionist. I was very ignorant about seeing a nutritionist for my health. I thought you saw a nutrition expert to lose weight. I didn't know they could help you with an existing condition. I sat down with several of the authors who wrote books about how food can be medicine. I started to get a hold of the proper foods to eat. I learned how certain foods could exacerbate my condition. I started to cook for myself. It was about a year later that I started to see a difference in my condition. I got pregnant with my first child, Cree. I told my mom it was

You launched Tia Mowry’s Quick Fix in partnership with Kin Community to help moms make their daily lives easier. What are your top three tips to help moms streamline their daily lives? I am all about preparation. Prep is key. You never really know how your day is going to go. Sometimes the day can go smoothly or chaotic. When you prep it makes those chaotic days a little smoother. I do a lot of prep when it comes to food. Prepping meals for my family could be cutting up my staples to cook with like garlic, onions, celery and carrots. That could be

one way of preparing. Another way could be knowing exactly what you are going to cook throughout the entire week. Determine what your family will eat Monday through Friday and do your shopping on Sunday. A prepping method I got from my mom is lining up our clothes in the closet two weeks at a time based on whatever we are going to wear the next day. For my son, Cree, I pull out his outfits the night before school so he can get himself ready. This keeps us from running around trying to find things in the morning. I am a huge fan of the Crock-Pot or just electric pressure cookers. It does a lot of the cooking for you. You can cook a lot of balanced meals in the Crock-Pot. You can just season and throw everything in there in the morning before you take the kids to school and it is done by the time you get home. Chili is one of my favorite because it is so versatile. You can use the chili for hot dogs or nachos. Your cookbook, “Whole New You,” has been called a “healthy and practical approach to comfort food dishes.” What sparked your love for cooking? What are your favorite dishes to prepare? I was put in the kitchen as a child. I remember being six years old and standing on a stool washing dishes. Looking back, both of my parents worked really hard. With four kids you can’t afford assistance. The kids have to help out so I was in the kitchen at a very young age helping my mom cook. I started out cleaning up after dinner to eventually helping to prep the food like washing the vegetables. As I got older, I became my mom’s sous chef. Once I got good at it she graduated me to cooking dinner. I would have to cook for the family weeks at a time. That’s when I fell in love with cooking. For me, when I see people's responses to my dishes it speaks to my nurturing side. You are putting smiles on people's faces. I love food. I love

everything that encompasses it. I love bringing people together and laughing and really enjoying each other’s company. When I got married I would always cook for my husband and his friends would come over as well. One of my favorite recipes would have to be my pan roasted chicken with a maple bacon sauce. The meat falls right off the bone. It is something that my family loves. I’ve made it several times. It is a really nice hearty meal that tastes delicious. Another one is my banana pancakes with blueberries. It is just a delicious recipe and it is very easy to make. For me, it was all about trying to find alternatives to make dishes healthier without missing the flavor. For my banana pancakes, I use an oat flour instead of white flour and blueberries and coconut sugar as natural sugars instead of processed sugar. My other favorite dish is the fried rice. It is a very delicious comfort food but with healthier ingredients. It’s an easy dish to make. You can use rice that you previously ordered from a restaurant. You can use packaged kale and almonds. Those are my three favorite dishes. For a busy mom who wants to start preparing dairy free or healthier dishes for her family, what’s the first step? Educating yourself is the first step. The more you educate yourself about healthy eating the more you will stay on track. Understand why you are doing what you are doing. That also means educating your family and children about why you are making these changes. I also find that it is very beneficial to start off slow. Don’t start thinking about complicated dishes and meals that are hard to find alternatives for. For example, don’t start off trying to bake a cake. If you do, you most likely won’t stay on track. The shakes that I have in my cookbook are easy and delicious. You can gradually work your way into preparing more complicated dishes and finding the right alternatives for you. There is almond milk, coconut milk or pea milk. Find what works for you and find something that is really good for you. Do little taste tests for yourself. I think the main tip is to understand why you are making the change and start off slow with easy recipes. You have a successful and long standing career in television including syndicated comedies Sister, Sister, The Game and Instant Mom. You’ll be starring in a new Netflix comedy series, Family Reunion with Loretta Devine. What made you want to return to television? How is this project different from your previous ones? I returned to TV, because it’s just in my bones. It is embedded in me. I feel grateful to continue this journey coming from being a child actor, I grew up in television. When I get on set there's this smell that comes from the burning lights. For some


reason that smell brings me joy. I think it’s just that scent that brings so many memories that I enjoy. I feel blessed to do what I absolutely love to do. It makes me excited. This project is different because of the story line and its approach. What is so amazing and what I love about this show is it reminds me of my personal life. Loretta Devine plays my mother n’ law. She is grounded in the South. Religion is huge to her so she’s always going to church and reading the Bible. The show will be very relatable to a lot of people from the extremely religious to the non-traditional. The way my husband and I on the show raise our children is non-traditional which is a huge contrast to Loretta’s character. I love that the show presents those differences. We can come together and love each other, although family is not always perfect. We are not afraid to talk about topics that are challenging. We talk about things like loving who you are no matter what weight you are. My character is dealing with that. A lot of women my age have those insecurities. Being able to talk about that is so important. We also talk about how my daughter should be able to express herself through how she dresses, not having a male figure dictate what is important to her. Another episode was about one of my sons’ love for baking. He was forced to think he should be playing football. In that episode we talk about toxic masculinity. This year we’re shifting the conversation on work/life balance to be more about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health rather than how you manage your family and career. How do you define balance? Is it something you think moms should seek? Prior to having kids, and what I mean by that is not having too much on your plate, just being in control of your own life, I

Some days it is going to be great and you are going to check everything off your list, but not everyday. Balance to me is learning that there is no such thing. believed in balance. Now that I have two children, I don’t think there is a such thing as balance. How I approach it and what makes me happy is knowing that there is no such thing as balance. When there is balance you look on the scale and it is equal. Some days are great and others are not so great. I have learned to accept that there are going to be days that I am an incredible mother and giving to my children all that they need and that day my career didn't get that much attention. That’s not balance. I have a new perspective. Today was a great day and I was able to give to my children but the next day may be the other way around. I could put 60 percent into my career and the other 40 into my children. If I could define balance it is being okay that your life is not balanced. Some days it is going to be great and you are going to check everything off your list, but not everyday. Balance to me is learning that there is no such thing. Watch Tia’s Quick Fix on YouTube. Order her cookbook, Whole New You on Amazon.


One of my favorite recipes would have to be my pan roasted chicken with a maple bacon sauce. The meat falls right off the bone. It is something that my family loves. I’ve made it several times. It is a really nice hearty meal that tastes delicious.

Tia Mowry's

BANANA PANCAKES WITH BLISTERED BERRIES INGREDIENTS 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon fine salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 2 ripe bananas 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 2 teaspoons honey 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 cup blueberries 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes, optional Maple syrup, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS 1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Add the oats to a food processor and process until they resemble coarse flour. Add the baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Pulse a few more times to mix together. 2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl until smooth. Add in the eggs and mix well, then add the honey and vanilla and stir. Add the dry mixture to the wet and fold with a rubber spatula until a batter forms. 3. Put a griddle on medium heat and grease with some of the butter. Drop 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake onto the griddle. Cook the pancakes on each side until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. 4. Transfer to the warm oven and continue with the remaining batter, adding more butter when needed. To make the berries, set a dry saute pan over high heat. Add the blueberries and swirl the pan to avoid sticking. Heat until the berries are just starting to change to a deep purple color and beginning to blister and open. 5.Pour the berries over the pancakes and sprinkle with the coconut if using. Drizzle with the syrup. Serve immediately.


As a fashion public relations powerhouse, Sarah Boyd understands first hand the challenges that creatives have breaking into the fashion industry. Known as the connector, Boyd wanted to create a kind and unintimidating space for fashion stylists and other creatives to connect and receive industry insider information. In 2012, taking a leap of faith and believing in her own passion and capabilities, Boyd founded SIMPLY, a company that brings together fashion, beauty, and entrepreneurial professionals to network, inspire, and learn from one another. SIMPLY hosts fashion and beauty conferences as well as monthly sessions. Boyd spoke to us about her transition from corporate to entrepreneurship, how SIMPLY has evolved and why the agency is so important to the beauty industry.

Photo Credit: Corina Howell

Who is Sarah Boyd? I am the founder of SIMPLY. I am a mom of a three year old. I am a wife and a stepmom to two boys. I started SIMPLY to create a kind place for people to connect. We do that through event and influencer content campaigns. How did your career in fashion PR begin? I went to school for fashion in Philadelphia and moved to Los Angeles after I graduated to work with my sister. I was lucky to have a sister in the fashion industry. I worked with her for eight years working in public relations. I worked with people who were really talented but didn't have that connection like I did. I wanted to give them that foot in the door. Some


SARAH BOYD, FROM PR POWERHOUSE TO FOUNDER OF SIMPLY wanted to be stylists, some wanted to be designers or fashion editors. These are jobs that you can’t go to school for. You have to have a connection to get into the industry. Tell us about SIMPLY. What is SIMPLY and who do you serve? I created it seven years ago as a platform to connect in a kind way. We do that through travel and events. We do the digital branding. We represent people like Jana Kramer and Ben Higgins in the digital space. We help them build their careers through social media and partnerships. Why is an agency like SIMPLY so important to the beauty industry? There are other companies that represent influencers and celebrities, but there aren’t many that represent celebrities in the digital space. When we started to get into the digital space, these celebrities started coming to me to help them launch blogs. I would start advising them and that turned into what is now our digital network. We have grown these celebrities into bigger influencers. You left the corporate world to build your own business. What was the defining moment that inspired you to take the leap. I think for me it was when I was going home every night and complaining about my clients to my husband. I was bending over backwards and killing myself. My husband was like, “You need to do something about this. This is insane.” I thought, I can do something else. My sister asked me what was my true passion in life. I was meant to connect people, that is my passion. I gave myself three months to figure out how I could connect people. I came up with a conference. I figured out what worked and what didn't work. I was open to change and adjusting the business based on where the industry was headed. We have now been acquired by Nylon and Socialyte. We are under them. Describe your transition from the corporate world to full time entrepreneurship. I was very scared but I also am one of those people that takes risks and jumps. For a lot of people it’s too scary to say goodbye to the monthly paycheck and the perks

and benefits. For me, I wanted to take a risk. I was in my 20’s at the time. Why not, if I didn't succeed I would have time to figure out what’s next. I didn't look too far ahead in the future, I looked at what was in front of me. I had saved up enough money so I could just focus on the conference in the first three months. I just did baby steps. When you dissect everything into smaller pieces, it is less overwhelming. What can we expect from SIMPLY in 2019? We are rolling out another online course. The first one is on styling, the second one just launched on “How to Build and Sell a Business in five years”. We will be doing more events in the U.S. and different locations. We are trying to offer more free events for our fans as well. Where do you see SIMPLY in five years? That’s a good question. We are now owned by Nylon. It could be a multitude of things. It could be international. It’s hard to say where it will be every year. I hope that we are touching more people and we are doing more events. I hope through our online courses we are teaching more people. As a mom and entrepreneur, what have you had to give up to maintain balance? I don’t think I have ever achieved this balance that we all talk about. I have had to give up a lot. There are a lot of nights that I haven’t put my daughter to sleep or woken up with her in the morning or even had a date night with my husband. Everything has to give. You have to have partners and people you work with that understand. I am sure my daughter will look up to me and know that she has a mom who is a hard working entrepreneur, but you still beat yourself up. I think it is hard to achieve true balance. I don’t think it exists. My gym routine has gone out the window. I would rather spend that hour with my daughter. Do the best that you can and don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn more about Sarah Boyd and SIMPLY at

For me, I wanted to take a risk. I was in my 20’s at the time. Why not, if I didn't succeed I would have time to figure out what’s next.


Beauty is faith. Beauty is service. Beauty is sacrifice. Beauty is connection. Beauty is love. Beauty is confident. Beauty is unique. BEAUTY EMPOWERS THROUGH MINISTRY AND FAITH.



There is significance and power in a name. Dr. Faith Oliver-Robertson, affectionately known as “Dr. Faith,” lives up to the meaning of her name. Her passion to transform others inside and out shows in everything she does. From her work as a makeup artist for Faces by Faith to her award winning dental practice to her new book, Speaking by Faith, Dr. Faith helps others realize a higher level of faith that shifts how they think and speak about themselves and their lives. If you can change the way a person perceives themselves, you can change the course of their destiny," Dr. Faith says. CEOMOM had a candid conversation with Dr. Faith about her recent transition into full time ministry and why faith is not about what you understand, but what you do. Who is Dr. Faith Oliver-Robertson? My nickname growing up was Chocolate Drop. I still see that young girl who grew up the youngest of nine children and the product of a praying mother who always told me I could do anything and be anything. CEOMOM | 29

I believed her. I am very passionate about people. I am a servant by nature. It comes easy for me, it is in my DNA. I am a woman who has her own share of scars, who has made her share of mistakes. I have been lost in the hustle and bustle of life but I am so happy to say that I have recently found myself and found my freedom. As far as what I do, I am multitalented. We all have so many layers to us. There’s my practice, my makeup and my speaking, which is all to better somebody else. I am more than a title. I am more than positions. I am more than degrees on the wall. I am chosen. In Speaking by Faith, you take readers on a journey of self discovery through 30 declarations. Describe a few of those declarations and how important they are to self-reflection. Forgiveness - This one is extremely important. That is something that is suffocating us and keeping us from walking in freedom, not forgiving others that have wronged us, not forgiving ourselves for not making the best decisions. You have to let those things go for you, not for someone else. Forgiveness is for you so that it doesn't turn into resentment. Prioritizing - We are so busy in this microwave society. We want drive through prayers, but we have to get back to communion with God. We have to carve out that one on one time. We have to get away from being too busy for God. You also have to prioritize yourself. The book caters to women because we are so busy taking care of everything and everybody else that we are having health issues. We can't sleep. We are stressed. Put yourself as number one on your to do list. The world benefits from a better you. What was the defining moment that led you to write Speaking by Faith? I had to look back over my life at everything that I have done that has touched other people. A seed was being planted in me. Someone saw something in me and said, you need to put something together like a prayer journal. People need something tangible. It started out just being a prayer journal with some positive scriptures and blank pages, and evolved into Speaking by Faith.

Photo Credit: Sparkle Publishing

The book was created to change your mindset and what comes out of your mouth so you can have a different outcome. How has Speaking by Faith empowered you as a woman, mother, wife and ministry leader? It has caused me to be accountable because there is no way that I can put this out there and not walk the walk. I am more cognizant of what people are saying. I am more cognizant of negativity. It has caused me to set up boundaries in my home. I handle conflict differently. I listen with intent rather than to retaliate. I watch what I speak over my children. It has changed the way I navigate through the world. In Speaking by Faith, I include scriptures that cause you to walk in a certain amount of confidence, knowing you can have what you say. You know what you are entitled to because you are speaking his promises. It changes your whole person. You have a diverse career as an author, oral surgeon, speaker, makeup artist, entrepreneur and more. What do you want your legacy to be for your children? I look at my son who is 20 and I look at my nine year old daughter. What I want for my daughter more than anything is to know who she is. That way the world can’t put a label on her. They can't define her. We have started saying everyday, I am Angelica. I am strong. I am brave. I am intelligent and I live my life for

God. More than anything what I want to instill in her is her identity. She is already a natural born leader. My job is to guide her in the right direction. She is going to take wings and fly. You recently made a huge career transition by closing your private dental practice to work in ministry full time. Congratulations on this new venture! What words of wisdom do you have for someone who wants to take the leap of faith to pursue God’s calling? It’s still very fresh and I still go, wow! I went from dentistry to ministry. I did not see that coming. People are saying congratulations and I am like hold up, this is no cake walk. Oh my goodness. I knew that it was time for me to shift. I had been in practice for over 20 years. When it started to feel like work it was time to do something else. I saw God opening other doors for me. I saw the shift coming. I was waiting on him to say, now is the time. Was it my timing? No. I wanted to get things in order. That is where the faith move comes in. You won’t see the whole plan. I did it and I have had about 20 meltdowns since then. My word of advice is definitely go but get ready for doubt and fear to come at you like a Mack truck. Stand flat footed and know that God told you to do this. You will never be able to fulfill your true calling without making


Photo Credit: Brandon Lester of BandRi Photography

that bold and scary step of faith. You don’t have to understand it but you have to be obedient to it. What is next for Dr. Faith? I feel like after closing my practice that the limits have been taken off of me. I have time to move and breathe and travel and go and do those things that I have always wanted to do. My knees are shaking but I know that he called me to nations, not just locally. I want to do what I do which is encourage people, speak life over them and pray. I recently had an idea that I was tossing around with my girlfriend. I want to host a small group of women where we talk and get to the matter of what is going on in our lives. Just that idea has opened doors to bring Heart of the Matter to places like Los Angeles and Australia. That has blown me away. I connected with a pastor in Australia through social media. She follows me and said, I wish I could come to one of your events. I said, "I am coming to you." God opened that door.

I feel like after closing my practice that the limits have been taken off of me. I have time to move and breathe and travel... I am still in disbelief that I am going. They are forming a conference around Heart of the Matter. It's a two or three day conference. They have asked me to do a day of prayer. I feel inadequate but I know that God will equip me. I know that when it is time for me to step foot on that soil he will give me everything I need to do it. The deal I made is, if you don't speak, I don’t speak. The platform is getting so huge. I just wanted to do this for 12 women at an Airbnb. God clearly had other plans. Getting to The Heart of the Matter Is literally going around the world. I'm excited about every door that he is opening for Speaking By Faith. It only gets bigger and better from here. To learn more about Dr. Faith and order your copy of Speaking by Faith, visit


Cheryl Roseborough

HELPING WOMEN REACH THE NEXT LEVEL: NAOMI SPEAKS INSPIRES THROUGH TRANSPARENCY Cheryl Roseborough is a woman of many roles, visionary, award winning philanthropist, entrepreneur, radio personality, mom and champion for women, are just a few. Out of her heart's desire to help women and men unapologetically pursue their kingdom purpose, Roseborough founded Self Esteem Elevated (SEE), a ministry that works to position women to realize God’s version of self esteem. SEE hosts the quarterly event series, Naomi Speaks, a platform where influential women of faith are honest and transparent about their imperfections and life challenges. CEOMOM had the privilege of speaking with Roseborough about her merge of entrepreneurship and faith and how her own life journey has positioned her to empower and equip women for a life of freedom and power. Who is Cheryl Roseborough? That is a loaded question. I am a woman that is created to help people discover their true life purpose. I love to share and encourage and empower others. I feel like it is a part of my DNA. I am a woman on a mission for my kingdom purpose to be fulfilled. Tell us a little bit about your professional background and what you do now. Currently I am in graduate school at SMU. I have a degree in advertising and a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma. I knew I wanted to work at an ad agency and got the only job I interviewed for in the media department. After a little over a year, I was asked by the Human Resources Director if I would work in their department. I made the switch and a few months after taking the job I knew that I had made the wrong decision. I loved my coworkers but

my position didn’t challenge me. I stayed for a while to maintain stability in my home. At the time, my life was in disarray so I decided to resign and start my own business. I took a few odd jobs to pay bills so that I could take care of my children. In November of last year, I made 20 years of being an entrepreneur, owning my own agency. I started my company with $25 and a Big God. I was laughed at, mocked and told it would never be successful. I've had my high highs and my low lows but I never stopped. I now have three companies I own and operate. I was in my prayer closet asking God what new client to pursue. I remember getting TD Jakes as a client. I did a presentation for him and after five minutes he said, “Stop, I need to know who you are.” JP Ventures was my company, but he started asking me questions about who I was and what I knew about my industry. It ended up being an hour and a half interview. I walked out that day with a new client. When I started working with the ministry it started opening up the door for more clients. That’s where my purpose really began. It’s when I started traveling with the ministry that things changed. The work I performed required me to be onsite for various events. We would pray before every event. At the first Megafest, I remember lying there and hearing God say, Self Esteem Elevated (SEE). Professionally, I had been doing advertising and marketing. I knew ministry would take me out of my comfort zone. For the next ten years, the Lord allowed me to create events and partner with brands such as 7-Eleven, Dry Sparkling, Park Place Motors, Lexus and ESPN. The deeper God called me into ministry, the more I had to put my business on the back burner. I was not happy about that. I had recognized that

my identity was laced in my title and my position. Once I conquered that identity phase, my business was restored. Now I am launching a new company that will work in tandem with SEE and my other company, Blyss Agency. How has your faith played a role in your career? My faith has played a large role in my career. I was at an Essence Women’s Summit where I met one of the most beautiful souls Andria Hall, who was a news anchor for CNN. I stood up and shared with the ladies at the summit that I had started my company with $25 and a Big God. She has since passed away, but she told me, “You are a writer. Write from God’s heart.” I got up the next morning and prayed. God showed me that I was walking in the right direction for business and ministry. I write proposals for clients, blog posts for the ministry as well as curriculums and programs for the ministry. My title for all of my companies is Chief Strategic Officer. What is Naomi Speaks? What inspired you to start this ministry? There are good ideas and there are God ideas. We always have women CEO’s speak at each event. The stigma with women CEO’s or women who run companies is that we are not relatable or touchable. What is important with each speaker with Naomi Speaks is that we have open hearts and share from an authentic space. We must be transparent about our journey and what part our faith has played in that journey. We have issues. We are imperfect women. We need words that can heal just like Naomi in the Bible who was a


woman of wisdom. The goal is for each attendee to be in a position to walk through her issues so that they can be healthy, healed and whole. It should start the moment they walk in the door. It is up to them to make that conscious decision to heal. I have to be honest and say that most of my endeavors have been God ideas. I have walked through a number of situations, good and bad, that have gotten me to where I am today”. Naomi Speaks was birthed out of a conversation with one of my friends, Melani Ismail. I was sharing with her that God was nudging me to expand and do something new with Self Esteem Elevated. I told her that I couldn’t do it until she was ready because she was going to be the first speaker. I was preparing to go on a one month sabbatical in 2016. I was not feeling well, business wasn’t going well and so many other things were falling apart in my life. I remember hearing one of my spiritual mentors Elder Cathy Moffitt speak at “Heart and Heels” hosted by Emily Blue. She said God told her if she didn't take care of herself she would not be in a good space. It immediately resonated with me because of what I was recently told by the doctor. Melani called me a few days prior to me leaving for my sabbatical to say she was ready to speak. I told her we could get started when I got back. That was April 2016 and we have been going strong ever since. What does a Naomi Speaks event look like? What does it mean to be healed and whole? I get asked this question all the time, what does the event look like. I always say, it’s not really anything you can explain. It is definitely something you have to experience. We touch on sensitive subjects that aren’t discussed inside the four walls of the church such as sex. We have been talking about mental health since our first Naomi Speaks (which is now a major discussion inside and outside of the church). We share life lessons with practical application. There is definitely a moment at each event where we specifically deal with healing and deliverance. That is where the breakthrough comes for most of the women. What’s next for Naomi Speaks? We have a new location in Las Colinas, Show Business Studios, where we will be hosting our quarterly events. Our SEE Next Level Experience, that we host every three to four years, will be hosted in June of this year. In the Fall of 2019 we will begin to travel across the U.S. We have identified and scouted four cities last September. Now it's time to expand. We will also start a mentor program in the Fall as well as Boaz Conversations, the male version of Naomi Speaks. I am very excited about this next season. While it all may be challenging, it’s going to be fun! Photo Credit: Octavia Whitlowe, For Beauty Sake

We must be transparent about our journey and what part our faith has played in that journey. We have issues. We are imperfect women. We need words that can heal just like Naomi in the Bible... CEOMOM | 34

Now we have to be diligent about getting to our next level in every area of our lives a ter the YES! Next Level requires our active participation.

Photo Credit: Ada Lee Photography

Tell us more about Self Esteem Elevated. What is your organization's mission? Who do you serve? What many people don’t know is Self Esteem Elevated (SEE) is a marketplace ministry that started the summer of 2004 in my home, with a diverse audience of 22 women. There are so many layers to SEE. We are dedicated to transforming the lives of men and women from the inside out. We teach and train individuals on how to live a life free from strongholds and life issues that have placed limitations on them. Once free, you can walk and live in your kingdom purpose. We want everyone to have that freedom. The 2019 theme for Naomi Speaks is “Next Level.” What does next level mean for your ministry? How are you equipping other women to realize the next level in their lives? Our 2019 theme Next Level may seem simple but it’s not. We said YES! in 2018. Now we have to be diligent about getting to our next

level in every area of our lives after the YES! Next Level requires our active participation. I am of the firm belief that we can completely walk in the truth of God’s promises. We can also achieve everything that he has required us to do. We have to be intentional about those decisions and actions. I have learned through a few bumps and bruises that if it’s God’s deal it’s his bill. You have to trust God even when you can't trace him. He will get in every situation and fight the battles for us. We just have to give up control. When it is all said and done, we want this year to remind us that we have the power and the authority to do what we are destined to do, if it’s in God's plan. Next Level transformation comes when we are diligent to walk in it. Learn more about Naomi Speaks and Self Esteem Elevated at


Photo Credit: Jesse Hornbuckle Photoggraphy

L. Shonny DeBouse-Young


A HEART TO SERVE: TRANSFORMING LIVES THROUGH MONA'S HEART OUTREACH Along with her mother, L. Shonny DeBouseYoung started Mona’s Heart Outreach to continue her Aunt Mona’s legacy of service. With a passion to meet the practical needs of the least of these, DeBouse-Young serves communities that are often forgotten. For DeBouse-Young ministry is her life, from her work with Naomi Speaks to her role as a licensed minister to her role as a media business consultant and host. She inspires. She equips. She serves. CEOMOM spoke with DeBouse-Young about the inspiration behind Mona’s Heart Outreach and why maintaining her peace is a non-negotiable. Who is L. Shonny DeBouse-Young? She is “God’s Girl” first, then a wife, mother of two, CEO of Paradigm by LShonny, cofounder of Mona’s Heart Outreach, media business consultant, minister, board member, election judge and community

advocate. To sum it up, Shonny is a busy mom with a huge heart the size of Texas. Tell us about Mona’s Heart Outreach. What does the organization do? Who do you serve? At Mona’s Heart we provide assistance, resources, and relief to those who are affected by homelessness and domestic violence. We also provide aid for children and families in CPS as well as caregivers and patients dealing with chronic illness in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. We currently coordinate community support services and life management resources for veterans, senior citizens and those who have experienced displacement through financial hardships. If we can't help with a specific need we strategically locate resources and provide referrals to our various network

of community partners. At Mona's Heart Outreach everything we do comes from a place of compassion and love with the intention of helping others improve their quality of life. What inspired you to start Mona’s Heart Outreach? In 2010, I received a devastating phone call at 4:05 pm that my Aunt Mona, at the age of 47, died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism. She was the core and glue to our family. I looked up to her. Her life was an amazing testimony. She was a living example of love and selflessness. Her heart was as big as Texas and she made it her mission to help anyone that she could. We affectionately called her Mona Love. After her passing, my mother Angela Pitcher and I created Mona’s Heart. We started serving Tarrant and Dallas County residents October 1, 2010 in loving memory of Minister LaMona J. Wills. Today her legacy, love, and service continue through Mona's Heart

Outreach, Inc. How can people get involved with Mona’s Heart? People can get involved by collecting toiletries year round (many donors collect toiletries year round from their travels). We collect new and gently used coats, gloves, hats, socks, blankets and non-perishable snacks. We partner with other organizations to host coat drives and we volunteer quarterly, serving the homeless, veterans and senior citizens. Mona’s Heart is not all you do. You are also a host and marketing professional who helps clients with social media management and personal branding. How did your career in marketing and media begin? I have a background in business management and marketing. I gained my clients first as a makeup artist and I quickly began to learn more about media, client management and behind the scenes production while on the set of several shows and tapings, etc. Doing makeup allowed me to interact with several celebrities, successful entrepreneurs and high profile athletes. I noticed that there were gaps in their branding which could use a little revamping and or management. Out of this need Paradigm by LShonny was started. You are a part of Naomi Speaks, an event series that allows women CEOs to teach other women how to discover their identity and purpose in Christ. How has being a CEO positioned you to minister to other women? Being a fully licensed minister and a CEO definitely prepared and positioned me to serve alongside a phenomenal group of Naomi’s. I have a BA In Theology, and I have been in ministry for almost fifteen years. Prior to joining the Naomi’s, I joined the founder of Naomi Speaks, Cheryl Roseborough, annually for over 10 years ministering and volunteering through Self Esteem Elevated. You are currently healing from a brain injury. How are you doing? You’ve spoken of your healing process requiring you to be still and hear God. Describe your journey of stillness. How are you creating a consistent space of quietness beyond your physical healing? The first week of 2019, I experienced a brain injury and a hemiplegic migraine simultaneously. This caused temporary paralysis which caused me to have to learn how to walk again. I had to participate in intense therapy just to gain strength and function again. When you can’t move or do the everyday things you're used to doing you have a lot of time to get quiet and hear God’s voice. I was busy, busy, busy but in my recovery I had both physical and spiritual stillness. God had my undivided attention. During that time I recovered quicker than most and I gained a fresh perspective on life. I decided to stop existing and to start living. My peace and hearing the voice of God was all I wanted many days while lying in my hospital bed. That peace and stillness remain with me and is nonnegotiable in my life. My peace is everything.

I decided to stop existing and to start living. My peace and hearing the voice of God was all I wanted many days while lying in my hospital bed. That peace and stillness remain with me and is nonnegotiable in my life. My peace is everything.

As many women you manage several roles and now you are on a journey of physical healing. How do you balance life’s trials with being a mother? I used to wear so many hats that I was becoming inconsistent as a wife and a mother. My journey of physical healing reminded me which hats mattered most. I find balance by utilizing CEO time mapping and by setting distinct boundaries for others in my life as well as for myself. My wellness is predicated on keeping my life as stress free as I can. I meditate daily and spend time with God before my feet even hit the ground. To learn more about and L. Shonny DeBouse-Young and Mona’s Heart, visit and CEOMOM | 37

Photo Credit: D Lacy Photography



Driven by God-given purpose and confidence in her calling to help other women manifest their own visions, Dr. Kimberly Ellison is a woman on a mission to transform. She saw greatness in herself from a young age and has unapologetically walked in her purpose as a wife, mother, entrepreneur, publisher and ministry leader. As the founder of Dr. Kimberly Ellison Global (DKEG), Dr. Ellison works to move people from potential to achievement. CEOMOM talked to Dr. Ellison about how she turned sadness into ministry and why it’s important to maintain purpose beyond motherhood. Who is Dr. Kimberly Ellison? I am a woman with a vision, a vision that saved my life. I am a woman who is driven by pursuing my purpose and finding out what God has for me. That is what fuels me, inspiring others. I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and a friend who is seeking what God’s purpose is for me so I can fulfill that on earth. I have a passion and a level of commitment, because God has allowed me to walk through doors that weren’t even there. They are walls that he created as doors.

McCarley taught me how to be the mother that I am today to my two beautiful children, McKinley Grace and Faron Ellison, III. I look at motherhood from a different lens.


My children are my first ministry and my first responsibility. My highest calling is to do the work that God has called me to do. Part of that is being a mom. Tell us about the Dr. Kimberly Ellison Global (DKEG) brand? What do you do and who do you serve? God gave me the vision for DKEG. In a vision, I saw myself standing on a stage at about 18 or 19 years old. I was standing in front of thousands and thousands of women. I didn’t see faces, I just saw me standing there. That birthed in me the desire to speak. I now am a transformational speaker. DKEG is a solutions based consulting company. We develop training programs to help individuals in the corporate and business sectors realize personal and spiritual development. I do a lot of training and career development for leaders and organizations. I also do courses throughout the year. My passion is helping people move from potential to achievement. I am committed to helping people see the practical piece and see how they can move in their personal and professional lives. We offer all gamuts of consulting for professional and spiritual growth. We also have Sparkle, our publishing division under the DKEG brand. We help people craft and share their stories with the world through book form, whether it is an ebook or a hardcover. You are a woman of many titles, business owner, international speaker, author, publisher, visionary strategist, wife and mom. Other than being a wife and mom, what is your most important role and how does it play a part in your purpose? I am a glory carrier. I live a life that is not about perfection. I have to be different. I truly feel a responsibility to help women birth purpose. I get fulfillment seeing the fruit of what God has given me. I get fulfilled when I see clients start their businesses or build confidence in areas they lacked. I know that I am responsible for the destiny of other women who are attached to my destiny. It goes beyond church. I have the ability to see something in individuals that they cannot always see in themselves. I am an activator. I believe it is my full responsibility as a glory carrier for the kingdom to help women activate in a very genuine way. People have shared their stories with me. They have given me concepts and book titles. I have to be a servant of authenticity and help them activate those concepts and stories. I believe that every single thing I’m given is an assignment. It leads up to the vision that God has for me. When we think about Jeremiah 29:11, we can have confidence that God will deposit vision in us. Tell us about the Gemstones & Gentlemen Summer Enrichment Program. What does the program do? What inspired you to start Gemstones & Gentlemen? Gemstones and Gentlemen started in 2010. It started with our first daughter. It was our first pregnancy and we lost our daughter, McCarley, at six months pregnant. We had purchased her crib and decorated the nursery. I had a healthy pregnancy. I went into the hospital and had to give birth to McCarley. Her lungs weren’t fully developed and she didn't live. From that, I was committed to coming out of that place of immense pain. It was the type of pain I didn't know I could experience on earth. That's when I really became a mom. After birth comes life, but for us came death. McCarley taught me how to be the mother that I am today to my two beautiful children, McKinley

Photo Credit: D Lacy Photography

Grace and Faron Ellison, III. I look at motherhood from a different lens. It changed the whole trajectory of who I am as a mother now. I refused to come out of the pain the same. There are some things that break you down in such a way that it drives you closer to God. It changes the way you think and the way you live. I told God, “If you never give me a daughter, I will take care of yours.” That was the inspiration for Gemstones. It was all girls for four years before we added boys. Gemstones was birthed from a broken place of pain. You talk a lot about finding and pursuing your purpose? What advice do you have for moms who are looking to discover their purpose beyond motherhood? You have to go back and look at who you were before becoming a wife and mom. What were you passionate about? Everything that God has given you is still in you. I remember when I got married thinking that I was supposed to do everything with my husband. I learned that you need to remain in your identity. I took his last name, not his identity. I can only find purpose in who I have identified with which is Christ. That means my husband and I are supposed to do destiny together, but we are still individuals. When you have children you have to fight to maintain your individuality or you will lose it in being a mom. I was called and chosen to be a mother and I was also called and chosen to help others find purpose. My children are my first ministry and my first responsibility. My highest calling is to do the work that God has called me to do. Part of that is being a mom. I was also called to be a warrior. I remind myself not to feel guilty about that. How important is work/life balance in your career? Is it something you strive for? Why or why not? I never strive for work/life balance. I used to and it almost gave me a heart attack. I strive for priority. Prioritization is what is important. Everything is urgent to everybody, but what is important. I have to be very selfish with my time. I look at what is high, medium and low risk. What is the risk if I don’t do this today? I don’t seek balance. I seek what’s purposeful, what’s meaningful and what brings me the greatest fulfillment. When you try to do work/life balance you are striving for something that is unrealistic. Learn more about Dr. Kimberly Ellison and DKEG at CEOMOM | 40

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I understand that working 9 to 5 and taking care of family or children might take its toll when you’re a mother. But having a busy schedule does not make her any less beautiful – even if she does minimize her beauty routine. Many of my clients have come to me asking, “what can I do when I don’t have the luxury of time to sit in a chair and get my makeup done? What if I only have 15 minutes?” To this question, I suggest: Tip 1: First, apply some tinted moisturizer to even out your skin tone while also moisturizing your face to save time. I like Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer. Tip 2: Next, go for bold brows. The quickest and easiest way to fill in the brows are with an angle brow pencil. I like to use Dermelect’s Revitalite Brown Transformer ($26, because it has a smooth, angled tip and a nice brush to blend the color. Tip 3: To help look more awake and pulled-together, use a good mascara to open up the eyes. My go-to is Diorshow Iconic Mascara. Tip 4: Last, use a shade of velvet moisturizing lipstick which are stunning because they are not too matte or too glossy. Dermelect has really good lipstick shades of red, pink, and nude. For an everyday look, I like the 4-in-1 Smooth Lip Solution in Intimate ($20,

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Photo Credit: Sesha Smith, Convey Studios


The decision to homeschool is one that is weighed heavily. It requires sacrifices that will test your fortitude and faith. For Leslie Kent, Founder and Director of Trinity Preparatory Academy in Keller, Texas, opening her own school to meet the needs of her children was more than a decision, it was a calling. Kent desired to provide a classroom environment for her children that would adequately prepare them for college and uphold the values and beliefs she taught as a homeschool mom. She also wanted to do the same for other homeschool parents. CEOMOM chatted with Kent about the joys and challenges of being a school director, what advice she has for other homeschool moms and why she has no regrets. Tell us about Trinity Preparatory Academy? What kind of school is it and what is your mission as it relates to childhood education? We are a private, part-time, Christian K-12 school in our eleventh year. CEOMOM | 44

Students are on our campus attending classes two class days per week. I was a homeschool mom who had previously formed a co-op to address the needs of my own children. I had opportunities in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to take my children to different classes and to people’s homes for learning experiences. What is delightful about the education experience is that it can take many forms. You have full time homeschool parents who have various ways of combining outside resources with what they do in their home. But the Lord spoke to me to start a part-time school. I started researching and praying on what that would look like. I was seeking to meet the needs of my son who was in 6th grade. Not everyone is confident that they can do middle school and high school well for their kids. I was very passionate about providing that confidence for parents and teachers. What inspired you to start Trinity Preparatory Academy? One day I was observing a class on setting lifetime, midterm and short term goals, and I realized I had a goal: to open a parttime school. Trinity Prep flows out of my belief that God wants to be working in us until the end. I realized that what I wanted to do was organize the core subjects into one place. One of the jokes about homeschooling is how much we are in our cars. We are taking our kids everywhere to keep them plugged in. But I love efficiency. I thought it would be delightful if a school could offer the four core areas of English, Math, Science and History. If your child is a dancer you are going to add dance class or if she’s an artist you are going to add an art class. We offer the core classes every student needs, in one place. I identified a need in my own life regarding my own child. If you identify a need and offer a solution other people are going to be a part of that solution. Trinity Prep meets a need. Parents want to homeschool, but they know there's value in a class environment. There is value to teachers that are dedicated to certain areas. We don’t need our students to be in a full time classroom environment. We can still have more time with our kids yet have the benefits of class time, in a twoday school. We do offer a learning lab if

they don’t have an option to study at home. They can be here in a supervised study environment. And all students have assignments from us that they work on at home according to their schedule. Are there other academies like Trinity? If so, what makes you different? We are independent. I trademarked our term, “College-Style School™”. But we are very similar to the University Model (UM), which is well established. There are schools like Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington that are part of UM network, but there are other independent schools. When you meet the needs of your child, you are going to meet the needs of other children. Describe your process for opening a school. The first thing I did was create what was comparable to a business plan. I took the vision God gave me and translated it. I just spent time thinking, praying and researching what I wanted to do and then we looked for a location. We outlined what we wanted to do and what grade levels we wanted to serve. For the first year we had three classes, Kindergarten, grades1-4 and grades 5-8. We found a location, which happened to be the church I was attending at the time. We then “pounded the pavement” in the homeschool community to invite them to be a part of our new school. We got the word out to every homeschool group we knew. Six months from the day we began, we opened our doors in

August 2008, to 21 students. We now have 260 students. Get your ideas down on paper to see what you need to do. I didn't open Trinity Prep until I was 50 years old. This was a season I could spend a great deal of time researching and investing in the school. Sometimes we believe we need to manage all of our dreams at the same time. God was really plowing my field years prior to opening the school. I was spending a lot of time researching education. I first and foremost was a mom. I always worked part time, but I didn't embark on this adventure until my youngest child was old enough for me to do this. You are not working to fulfill all of your dreams at the same time. God uses everything; He is very economical. You may push through another dream in a different season. What are the challenges of starting your own school? How have you overcome them? When you do something with excellence people think it is easy. It is not easy. We have what I think is an excellent school. I regularly ask our graduates how well we prepared them. They all say we prepared them well. We have an excellent academic environment that prepares them well for college. The biggest challenge as we grow is that every family is unique and they want to meet the individual needs of their child. How do we meet the needs of that child but continue to do what is good for the whole school?


I don’t think we can do it without prayer. We invite people to be a part of the mission. For some people this educational partnership may not work. You have to be true to the fidelity of what you were called to do. I have to be very clear about what we have to offer and then work very hard to maintain the integrity of that. We have a calling and we want to maintain our fidelity to it. You have been homeschooling your kids since they were very young. How have you balanced your own professional and personal endeavors with homeschooling your kids? I would say preparation. For instance, I spent time carefully choosing curricula that would work for them and me. I wanted to be the mom-educator. It’s worth those late nights. It’s worth preparing over the Christmas Break. Preparation is critical. Identify the goals for your family and for yourself. I wanted my children to be as independent as they could be. Maintain your fidelity to your vision and keep that in front of you. I haven’t prepared breakfast and lunch for my kids in decades. At a very young age they began to have responsibilities around the house, which increased as they grew. It’s invaluable that my kids can leave my house and function. Give them responsibilities. Give them wings through preparation and delegation. Don’t overschedule yourselves and your children. Set your expectations for how much you commit to and then dial back. What advice would you give to a mompreneur or working mom who wants to homeschool her kids? The very first thing that comes to mind is the Bible verse about counting the cost, because it is going to take a lot of you. It is a joy, but be prepared for long days and long hours. Make sure it is something you are prepared to get up and do every morning. You won’t live anyone else’s life. You need to be sure that this is your joy and your passion. You are going to be very committed. I know the Lord has been in the middle of this. It is my calling, it is my joy and it is my ministry. It is a very committed life. But I don’t have any regrets. Learn more about Leslie Kent and Trinity Prep Academy at

Photo Credit: Sesha Smith, Convey Studios

Get your ideas down on paper to see what you need to do. I didn't open Trinity Prep until I was 50 years old. This was a season I could spend a great deal of time researching and investing in the school. Sometimes we believe we need to manage all of our dreams at the same time. CEOMOM | 46

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Lisa Durupt

Talks Being a New Mom & Her New Inspiring Movie, "Breakthrough"


This year, Lisa Durupt experienced major shifts in her life both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. The Canadian born veteran actress is working to expand her career beyond quirky and familiar roles to portray characters that reveal a more complex and vulnerable side. One such role is that of Paula Noble, a pastor’s wife in the new movie, Breakthrough, which hit theatres just in time for Easter. This faith-based film tells the story of a mother’s unwavering belief in miracles as she prays for healing for her 14 year old son who has been declared brain dead from a drowning accident. Becoming a new mom herself earlier this year, Durupt connects to the story’s message of hope, faith and miracles. CEOMOM spoke to Durupt days before the arrival of her beautiful baby girl about how she relates to her Breakthrough character, Paula Noble, and what’s next for this new mom. Congratulations on becoming a new mom. What are you looking forward to the most about becoming a mom? It’s kind of a toss up. I thought it would be to have a little bit of time off and not have to worry about work. Honestly, it’s more about getting my waistline back. I look forward to meeting her and becoming a new mom. It’s more about getting my body back and meeting this new little person. How did you prepare for motherhood? We renovated our place. We completely gutted everything and renovated. Of course, I have been getting the nursery all ready. I didn’t think I wanted it to be too girlie, but it’s actually very pink and gold and girlie. I’ve also been reading everything I can and watching a million YouTube videos. You can’t truly be ready. You think you can, but you don’t know. I’m just trying to be prepared and educate myself, but it will be what it will be. What has been the best advice you’ve received so far? Take everything with a grain of salt. You don’t have to take everyone’s advice to heart. You listen to everybody. Don’t be rude and shut them down but understand that their advice may not work for you. You are a mom and you are going to get through it. You will do what you have to do. Tell us about your character in Breakthrough starring Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas, and Topher Grace. How did you prepare for the film?

Don’t be rude and shut them down but understand that their advice may not work for you. You are a mom and you are going to get through it. You will do what you have to do. My character is based on a real person, Paula Noble. She is the wife of Pastor Noble. They were a couple who moved to town and took over the new church. She was the den mom for the church. I prepared by reading all the clips I could about her. I learned that she was open and feisty, yet loving. She was the stereotypical pastor’s wife. The story is about a young boy who is pronounced dead after falling through ice and staying underwater for fifteen minutes. His mom kept praying and he came back to life… to the surprise of the doctors and the whole town. In what ways can you relate to your character? I would definitely say that I am very much a den mom when it comes to my environment and the people I surround myself with. I am a woman in a little kid’s body. I’ve always been a protector. Breakthrough is a compelling story about faith and healing. What do you want people to take away from the film? I hope they can have a few good hours to step outside of the chaos in their lives and be entertained. Entertain yourself for two hours but also take away that, in the midst of everything, there's always a silver lining and hope in every situation. You have a diverse career in TV and film. How did your career in acting begin? It was totally a fluke. I injured my shoulder playing hockey in high school. In order to go away to school I had to have surgery. I decided to stay home in Winnipeg and take some easy classes. One was a theatre class and I fell in love with it. I completely gave up hockey. One day I drove a friend to an audition for the MTV show Everybody’s Doing It. The casting director heard my laugh and I ended up getting a role. I decided to take a combat stage class and ended up doing stunt work. Later, I booked a great comedy. My career took off from there. What are some of your upcoming projects? Definitely Breakthrough, which hit theaters this April. I also have Chronicles Mysteries with Alison Sweeney. I’ve worked with her before, so this was a fun way to work with her again. I will go back to Heartland and then just try to jump back into it. I’ve had such a long break. I have my first animated film Norm of the North, which will be released on DVD. I’ve got three films coming out this year. You can catch Breakthrough in theatres now. Get your tickets at

Photo Credit: Kristine Cofsky Photography CEOMOM | 49



“36-24-36.” “Hair on fleek.” “Face beat to the gods.” “Dressed to the nines.” “Fine as wine.” We’ve all heard these sayings used to describe the physical qualities of a woman, or better yet- what makes her attractive and beautiful to others. But what happens when beauty fades and waistlines don’t quite fit into the category the Commodores sang about? What is left then? Are we not still left with a “winning hand?” I wanted to know what people really thought so I surveyed 20+ people about what makes a woman, and a mother, beautiful. I didn’t go into it having an idea about what they would say, and I was pleasantly surprised that everyone shared qualities that couldn’t be dressed up with the latest lipstick color or fit into designer fashions. They told me what makes a woman and a mother beautiful is not what you can see, but what is in her heart, her mind and her spirit. “A person becomes 10 times more attractive not by their looks but by their acts of kindness, love, respect, honesty and loyalty they show.” - Meme, Author Unknown Leave it up to a meme to put into words

thoughts about true beauty. Kindness, love, respect, honesty and loyalty were just some of the qualities those surveyed mentioned. Think about it- it is not just who we are as mothers, but what we do and how we do those things that makes us beautiful. Each time you go out of your way to share a word of encouragement with someone or you stick with a friend through the trials of lifeyou become more beautiful.` But why? As a younger woman, I thought physical appearance counted for more and I focused on running my credit card up trying to fit in rather than spending time racking up points in the empathy, honesty and self-love categories. It wasn’t until I took a hard look at myself and decided that if I wanted to grow from the inside out, I had to do the work. It takes work to show those acts of kindness, love and respect. It does not happen because we simply will it to. I think people begin to see our spirits and the intentions behind our actions and that is what is attractive. Invest time in being intentional about demonstrating love. Be purposeful in your selflessness and the sacrifices you make for others without expecting anything in return. When you do, others will take notice and it will be those qualities that cause you to be that meme in real life. “I think what makes a mom beautiful is a big heart, kindness, and the willingness to help others.”

“People are not as beautiful as they look or as they talk, they are only as beautiful as they love, as they care, as they share.” - Ritu Ghatourey Amongst all of the comments shared with me, love was the major theme that flowed through all the responses. Our first lessons about love are taught by our families. As we get older, our friends influence the way we interpret love, and after some life experience, we begin to show love to ourselves. Good or bad, right or wrong, these early lessons teach us what love looks like and how it makes us feel. It is more than just a word. It is a set of behaviors directed toward a person or thing that demonstrate the intense feelings of affection we have. “I think what makes a mom beautiful is her ability to make her love expand and grow exponentially. You can always tell a mom by her ability to love and care for all of those around her. I also think what makes a mom beautiful is her ability to extend the same to herself.” This quote, that came from the survey, struck me. Not only did this mother believe that a mother’s love has the ability to grow and touch others outside of her immediate surroundings, but they believed in the idea of extending this love to themselves. So we can love, care for and share with ourselves? CEOMOM | 50

Absolutely! Self-care and self-love, while more commonly heard now, were not terms I heard growing up. Every now and again I heard about ‘me time’ or a ‘spa day,’ but self-care (which is a demonstration of self-love) was not a regular topic. Consider a redefinition of beauty to include demonstrations of self-love. Make time to journal or unplug for a few hours to tune into your thoughts. Meal prep or go for a walk with a friend. Plan a dinner date or go to the movies solo. Self-care can be for you exactly what you need it to be. Remember to pour back into yourself. “Be healthy and take care of yourself, but be happy with the beautiful things that make you, you.” Beyoncé Knowles Carter The final person I asked about what makes a woman and a mother beautiful was my husband. Before I could get my computer open to capture his words, with a half-smile and a nod, he said, “It boils down to confidence. If you carry yourself in a certain kind of way- it makes you beautiful.” His response was not exactly what I thought he was going to say, though the more I thought about it, I agree with him. Some people call it energy or vibes, he calls it confidence. And what is that “certain kind of way” he was referring to? It’s probably that je ne sais quoi that you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know it when you see it. It comes out in the way you carry yourself that makes people take note of your confidence. It could be your posture as you walk into a room or how you maintain eye contact in conversation, or how you communicate your ideas or how you welcome others into your space. Bey was right. We should focus on being healthy and taking care of ourselves. We should also be happy with who we are and with the qualities that make us unique. It is then, when you are pleased with who you are, that you will operate “in a certain kind of way” that will show off your confidence. Put up notes reminding yourself how creative and talented you are. Do those things that you are good at and watch yourself flourish. Speak kind words about how much you love you and how important you are to the world. Pour into your own cup. It will take a concerted effort on our part to forever change the narrative of how beauty is defined. With so many competing factors vying for our attention, looking past those things that we can see is the key. I’m willing to go out on a limb to say the 20+ men and women I surveyed are a representation of a world that believes beauty is deeper that what we can see. Beauty is strength. Beauty is vulnerability. Beauty is honesty. Beauty is sharing. Beauty is self-love. Beauty is forgiveness. Beauty is patience. Beauty is true love.

Beauty is strength. Beauty is vulnerability. Beauty is honesty. Beauty is sharing. Beauty is self-love. Beauty is forgiveness. Beauty is patience. Beauty is true love.

“When she looks in the mirror and thanks God for every moment she’s able to give the world a bit of herself by being it, showing it, living it— whatever the ‘it’ is, then beauty exudes from her naturally and spiritually.”


How to Radically Connect in 2019

"It takes an investment of time and energy to put yourself in the physical presence of another human being..."

By: Andra Liemandt

So let me be honest with you. These days, I’m hungering for radical connection. Allow me to explain. Not too long ago, I paid a visit to an old friend under fairly dire circumstances. He was in the hospital, in a coma after a shocking motocross accident, and his family had reached out to his friends with very specific instructions: “His doctor says that seeing familiar faces will help heal his brain,” they said. “He needs people to come by right now.” I hadn’t seen this person in over 15 years, but - weirdly - we had indeed “seen” each other on social media. We kept up with each other’s families, liked each other’s photos, sent each other encouraging comments. Just three weeks prior, he and his family had suffered a tragedy almost equally unimaginable - a fire in their home - and I had a left a note of condolence on Facebook. In the wake of it, I wanted he and his family to know I was thinking about them, and at the time, it felt like the right thing to do: to share some words, transmitted over the chasm of the Internet, but sincere words all the same. I wanted to show that I cared. This, though...this was different.

My friend’s doctor couldn’t pull up social media and show him concerned messages from his friends and family, or even their pictures. What he needed for recovery was physical presence. A person’s voice, energy, their specific swirl of atoms: this was the stimulation his injured brain needed, the familiarity and comfort of those he had a real, offline relationship with. So I packed my things, left work, and went. But walking into the hospital, I felt something strange: a gnawing sense of fear. Was I going to impose? Was this gesture too intimate? True, his family had reached out. But after all this time - was this act too much? I walked into the small hospital room, gave his wife a hug, and took in my friend, lying on his bed -- peaceful, still. My visit was short, about five minutes all told. But it was a dose of presence, one of many he would receive over the next few days from the people that loved him. I walked out of that hospital room thinking: “I wonder how many people felt the same way I did? That they were desperately needed - and yet - a little afraid to go?”

Why is that? Why are we afraid to be vulnerable in each other’s presence? I’m coming to the growing realization, as I’m sure many of you are, that our social media tools are no substitute for the real thing: in-the-flesh, faceto-face connection, which these days is getting more rare. It’s becoming more convenient than ever to never leave the house unless it’s absolutely necessary, which saves me time, and perhaps makes me more productive. But at what cost? This is the question I’m turning over in my head: is there an inverse relationship between convenience and connection? It takes an investment of time and energy to put yourself in the physical presence of another human being, and to take the steps necessary to be vulnerable with them. We are getting more accustomed to tools, though, that save us the steps of time and energy, and normalize the quick option: the concerned comment when we hear someone is sick, the sad face emoji when someone goes through a breakup, or a divorce. But it takes more to make the phone call. And it takes even more to go to the person, to look them in the eye, to breathe the air they breathe. There is something profoundly, intuitively healing about this.


And yet - it's hard! I know, because I had to overcome that hurdle, making the journey from the hospital parking lot to my friend’s hospital room. Which is why I’m calling this set of choices: radical connection. And in 2019, that is what I want. Enough hearts and likes. I’m ready for the real. Are you, too? If so, here are 5 simple ways to start creating radical connection in 2019. 1. MAKE THE LIST. ...of people to call. We all have those friends and family members that we know we should catch up with. Whoever they are, pick three - just start with three - and make the time to call them. Schedule a half hour in your calendar for each one, and do it. I can’t tell you the number of people I know who say, “I hate it when people call me! Just text!” I’m the same way! But I think it’s because we’re out of practice. Text is great (and funny gif’s are especially great), but it feels good to hear someone’s voice. Reestablish that connection, awkward pauses and all. 2. RESPOND WITH YOUR VOICE. When someone’s in actual trouble, take it offline. Make the call (see step #1), or show up in person. If you’re anything like me, it feels a lot, well, safer to send a text - a “hey, I heard what’s going on, are you OK?” But truly, carving out the emotional space for someone to use their voice or their presence is a gift. As Esther Perel says, it can be difficult to condense hard-to-express feelings into the prison of words...but the body is the mother tongue. So I propose we make 2019 the year we start showing up, with phone calls and visits. By giving someone else that outlet, to be heard and to be seen, you’ll notice how your relationships deepen. 3. ADVOCATE FOR WHAT YOU REALLY WANT. Forget playing it cool: say what you mean. I recently had a friend confront me for not inviting her to a social event I helped host,

Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

and to be honest, it was the kind of party I wasn’t sure she’d be interested in. But I couldn’t be certain, and didn’t ask her beforehand, so against my better judgement I left her off the invite list. When she later spoke to me about it, it caught me off-guard -- but I walked away full of admiration for this woman. When it comes to our feelings, how many times have we said the polite thing (or nothing at all) instead of the true thing. I’m not suggesting going around making demands for every little whim (“valet service at the grocery store, NOW!”). But what I am saying is that social media makes it really easy to smooth over awkwardness, and I guess I’m ready to strengthen my assertive muscle. To give voice to the things that are important to me, and to take that little risk, even if it means a sideways glance or two. I’m ready to lean into that vulnerability, knowing that there’s acceptance on the other side, from the right people. There’s a Brene Brown concept of “fitting in” versus belonging, and it’s connected to self-advocacy. “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” Next time we’re tempted to play it cool, when our deeper truth is bubbling up, let’s pause instead. Let’s feel into what’s genuine, and let those truths shape our words. 4. LISTEN, BREATHE, RESPOND. As Part 2 to that story I shared above - of the cool woman who told me straight that she wanted to be invited to my party - it would have been easy for me to get defensive, or to ring off excuses why I didn’t send her an Evite. (And in truth, for most of my life, I probably would have had those reactions.) But instead I listened, and took a breath before responding - and this, my friends, takes practice. Activating regular mindfulness, the kind that comes with deep breathing and cultivating emotional awareness, is prep work for these moments. It’s important so that when we find ourselves in these more tense situations, we are prepared with a new set

of instincts, rather than defaulting to fight or flight. This habit can start simple - finding a moment each day to breathe for four counts in, four counts out - and progress to whatever you want it to, like a meditation practice or yoga classes. But to “listen, breathe, respond” to others in the moment, you first have to breathe, listen, and respond to yourself. And do so on a regular basis. 5. DO THE THING (WITH YOUR KIDS, FRIENDS, PARTNER, ETC.) Lastly, to make radical connection a priority, let’s do the thing: a cooking class, camping, wine night, whatever with your special people. I don’t know about you, but I know what it’s like to be all about that #hustle and feel...I don’t know, useless? if I’m not actively working toward a goal nearly every second of the day. But it’s so, so worth it to sacrifice some of that delicious productivity, and DO something silly and totally not-productive instead, like watching “Shark Tank” with my favorite human beings. In a world constantly demanding our attention, time is a precious resource - and it’s true for all of us. So once you start honing in on the relationships you’d like to deepen, do the thing. The coffee date, the lunch, the date, the couch cuddle session. This is the stuff of organic connections, the kind I am craving. Let’s intentionally put some of this time into people, and observe the sense of stability and security - the kind that arises from social connections - that follows. Here’s to radical connection in 2019! ABOUT ANDRA LIEMANDT Andra Liemandt is the founder of The Kindness Campaign, a national nonprofit devoted to research-based emotional intelligence and anti-bullying. TKC designs interactive SEL (social emotional learning) curriculum and programming for schools as well as the corporate space, with a focus on developing kind leaders and emotionally aware schools and workplaces. To learn more about The Mrs and The Kindness Campaign, please visit and CEOMOM | 53

I started competing in figure bodybuilding in 2004. I placed first in figure class and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Photo Credit: Paul Williams

FELICIA COX For the Love of Fitness Fitness expert and competitive bodybuilder Felicia Cox is teaching couples the power of working out together through Marriage and Muscles. Studies show that couples who work out together create an emotional bond and increase their chances of maintaining a fitness routine. Psychology Today lists five reasons that couples benefit from working out together. One being, it makes your partner fall in love with you. Felicia Cox, cofounder along with her husband, of Muscles and Marriage knows this firsthand. Her initial connection with her husband was based on their mutual love for health and fitness. They have made it their mission to help other couples cultivate healthy relationships by making physical and mental fitness priorities. What is Marriage and Muscles? Who do you serve? What are your products and services? Marriage and Muscles is a husband and wife partnership that promotes healthy relationships and exercising together. We aim to help couples overcome personal and fitness obstacles. Our primary audience is married and engaged couples. Our products and services are healthy meal preparation, relationship and life coaching, fitness tips and apparel. What inspired you to start Marriage and Muscles? My husband and I met online. On our profiles, we both noted that we loved working out. After we got married, we continued to work out together. We were experiencing intimacy when we worked out. We wanted to inspire other couples to work out together and improve their intimacy while getting fit. My husband is so geeked on getting a reality TV show. We have already been on television shows such as the Steve Harvey Show. If we do a reality show, it has to be positive. How did your career in fitness begin? I started competing in figure bodybuilding in 2004. I placed first in figure class and I’ve been hooked ever since. What advice do you have for couples who want to start a workout regimen together? Seek help from a dedicated and experienced professional and don’t be afraid to try new ways to get fit like swimming, yoga,

Pilates and boxing. What is the key to proper meal planning? You have to allocate time whether it is a Saturday or Sunday. Choose a day that you are available to meal prep. You have to write out a list of things you want to eat. You have to execute it and prepare. If you don’t you will be susceptible to go to fast food restaurants. You have to execute it and actually eat the meals and stick to the plan. What is your philosophy on fitness and nutrition? It takes consistency, patience and commitment. How do you balance your fitness and health with motherhood? I have two boys, 12 and 13 years old. They are very athletic. They have been going to the gym with us since they were little. We have been into fitness as a family from the very beginning. My husband and I, along with our kids, enjoy working out together so it is very easy to balance. We are all like-minded. What’s next for Marriage and Muscles and the Iron Diva brand? I hope to be doing more speaking engagements. I want us to reach as many married couples as we can. We are launching our YouTube channel this year. As for the IronDiva brand, I will be competing in more bodybuilding competitions this year and scaling my meal prep business to serve corporate America. I have a competition coming up in the City Limit Championship. I have been bodybuilding for 15 years. It is really about being disciplined, because you won’t always be motivated. My next goal is to do this show as a warmup to see where I am and then I will go to Pittsburgh for a national qualifiers competition in July. The first two women that place will get their pro license. Learn more about Felicia Cox and Marriage and Muscles at


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