The Classy Chronicles June/July Issue

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BLENDED DESIGNS Inspiration Is In The Bag!





Talks The NYLON Project

Socialize. Volunteer. Innire. JUNE/JULY 2017



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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF LaShanda Pitts CREATIVE DIRECTOR LaShanda Pitts EDITOR Eric Thompson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Panya Dixon Valérie Alerte Kavanagh Vanessa Parker Avis Pitts Rebecca Hyde Walls DESIGN Jennifer Hardimon








BE A PART OF THE NEXT CLASSY CHRONICLES For advertising or editorial contribution, please contact us at,, or

also in this issue Summer Finds 04 Member Spotlight15 She’s So Social 16 Mommy Corner 17






Abeille Creations 21 BlaBla 26 Dear Mom & Dad 27 Summer Getaways 28

I W E A R S H A D E . C O M Summer Awaits! Shop Our New Summer Collection SHOP WWTH YOUR CONSCCOUS AND LET YOUR SHADE DO THE TALKKNG… With every lipstick sold a $2.00 donation will be iven to a nonprofit orranization that is helpinn to channe the world.Your purchase makes this possible. Don’t throw Shade. Wear it. Join the ##WearShade Movement TODAY!

summer finds

THE MISFITS by Adra Young

School as sixth graders. Dreading the fact that the first day of school is upon them, The Misfits embark on their journey to discover if life gets any better for them as seventh graders.

The Misfits is a book based on the bullying epidemic occurring in the lives of middle school children. Chelsea, a Middle school student, along with her friends, Brandon, Megan, and Josh all have one thing in common: all four of these students were bullied while attending Vernon Middle

Chelsea, your typical everyday student, would love to get the most out of her middle school experience. Unfortunately, Chelsea and her three friends, Brandon, Meagan, and Josh all have one major dilemma standing in their way from accomplishing this goal. The dilemma is Linda, a seventh grade student from the previous school year. Along with her cronies, Linda bullied and tormented Chelsea and her friends as sixth graders. Blair, Linda’s younger sister, refused to play any role in her sister’s cruel tactics; ironically, Blair and Chelsea even become friends. The first day of school for Chelsea and her friends as seventh graders approaches soon. The night before school, each one of the four friends experience “back to school anxiety”. Riding the bus together on the morning of the first day of school, they

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encourage and motivate one another to have a great day. Although Chelsea and her friends have one amazing bond, the question remains whether or not they have what it takes to make a productive school year as seventh graders. Will they succumb once again to Linda’s cruel and vicious acts of bullying? About the Author Adra Young is a Native of Gary, Indiana. With many years of teaching experience under her belt, she served as a Socialization Skills provider for the Detroit Impact center on the city’s Westside. The Misfits, a fictional read based upon the ongoing bullying epidemic among youngsters ranging from ages sixth through eighth was released to address this major yet global concern. For information on the signs or indicators of a bullied child, log onto https://adraly.wordpress. com/2013/08/09/the-signs-or-indicators-of-abullied-youngster/ To purchase a copy of The Misfits, e-mail Ms. Young at

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At the tender age of ten years old, Alexandria’s passion for fashion began in the country of Nigeria. As she arrived at her mother’s fashion design studio after school, her daily ritual of begging and pleading to be an assistant began. Soon enough Alexandria’s mother relented and, at that young age, the youth learned about design and running a fashion business. This prior knowledge of the fashion industry enabled Alexandria to experience success in the next phase of life: Moving from Nigeria to Atlanta, Georgia. In Georgia, she started her modeling career, representing major companies throughout the South. As her modeling career advanced, Alexandria fell in love with the industry’s beauty and glamour. Her guilty obsession was the well crafted luxury handbags she wore as a model. After some time, she realized that most women, including herself, could not afford the luxurious accessories and clothing that she modeled in magazines and on the runway. After earning her Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 2008, she decided to combine her educational background with her years of experience in the fashion industry and create a luxurious brand for the busy woman “on the go.” With the support of her husband, Alfred Alli, F&W Style was born. F&W Style handbags are in over 80 boutiques nationwide including select Ritz Carlton Gift shops and featured in several publications including Modern Luxury, Black Enterprise, Jezebel Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, CBS, Atlanta Plugged-In and more. The new collection is for the “F&W Girl on the Go!” The “F&W Girl on the Go” is a sophisticated woman: she expertly juggles work, family, and a social life but does it all with grace and style. In our collection you will see well crafted pieces. We use a lot of croc embossed leather in our handbags to add a touch of luxury to each piece, and each bag has our signature hot pink interior which clients say is like a dose of happiness in each bag! The Round “Circa” Bags, which come in red, blue, and black, and are perfect for the summer. Wear the Circa bag across the body with a pair of jeans during the day, or pair them with a sleek solid colored dress for a girls night out. Also check out our popular “Rose” clutches. These bags come in Gold, Pink, and Black. The Rose is not just pretty; it is also functional! Wear it with its gold tone shoulder strap and a sundress during the day, or pair it with your favorite little black dress for a dinner date. It can carry all the essentials like your phone, lipstick, cards, and keys! You can find out more about F&W Style and our collection at Also, visit us on instagram @fwstyle Alexandria W. Alli F&W Style 404-810-1270 (office)



Cleaning Up: Adopt A Road - Classy Living Society has adopted a road! How exciting!! Our road is the stretch of Papermill Rd from Spring Lake Rd to Simonton Rd. The name of our great organization will soon be gracing that stretch of Atlanta roads! Volunteers helped to maintain nature’s beauty by picking up debris from the roadside.

Month in Review by Rebecca Hyde Walls

Summer is just around the corner and Classy Living Society is going strong in Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA and Los Angeles, CA! Our Classy Cali Sisters began at the reDiscover Center. reDiscover provides lightly facilitated tinkering and creative reuse art activities using curated recycled materials. Volunteers helped facilitate Tinkering Club after school programs for children ages 7-12 at the Venice, CA location.

at one of our favorite partners in the community! The Eyeglass RecEYEcling Program offers eye exams, eyeglasses and even eye surgery for those who would otherwise be unable to obtain these services. Volunteer tasks included: Washing and drying donated glasses, sorting donated glasses according to procedures that are set in place and utilizing lensometers to read the prescription on cleaned and sorted eyeglasses.

The Classy Ladies of CLS Atlanta were up very early to help celebrate the 81st Anniversary of Atlanta’s infamous Dogwood Festival! The purpose of this festival is to promote the Arts and to plant trees (specifically the Dogwood tree) in all parts of Atlanta under the sponsorship of the garden clubs and public spirited citizens interested in the beautification of the city. CLS volunteers, also interested in the beautification of our city, were available to assist wherever needed during the festival in Piedmont Park.

Just around the corner was our CLS New Member Mixer! Here is where we welcomed new members that joined our organization within the last 90 days. Here is where we promote sister bonding as well as provide information that is imperative to the success of CLS volunteers. We had food, fun, prizes and introduced our sisters to all of the new Shade products! A good time was had by all!

Not far from the festival, some of our Classy Atlanta Sisters were back


In Mid April, the Classy Ladies of CLS Atlanta are back at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Orientation. CLS Volunteers are preparing to assist as ushers at the actual Symphony. Orientation is required in order

Volunteer week


to volunteer. During the orientation we learned about the history of the Woodruff Arts Center/ Orchestra, were guided through the experience of ushering and provided with helpful information on policies and procedures. What a Classy experience! In keeping with the Easter holiday, Classy Living Society partnered with the Atlanta Children Shelter for the 9th Annual 5 to Thrive 5K & Bunny Run/Walk at Piedmont Park to provide loving, high quality early childhood development and support services for homeless families striving for self sufficiency. Wearing bunny ears, CLS Volunteers assisted in the following areas: Refreshments, 10 Pre Race Set Up, 10 Water Stop, 10 Mile Split 5 Course Monitors, 10 Race Registration and 10 Finish Line 15.

registration, staffed author events, supervised book signings and much more! The Highlight of April: National Volunteer Week! National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration observed by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. The aim of National Volunteer Week is to promote and show appreciation for volunteerism. Classy Living Society has participated in National Volunteer Week annually since 2014, Our Classy Sisters in Charlotte started the month of April off at the Second Harvest Food Bank. Voland recently received recognition as recipiunteers helped to inspect and sort food and non ents of the 2016 President’s Volunteer Service food products in their warehouse that got boxed Award. Each year we go over and beyond the and distributed to their partner agencies. call of duty with a week full of volunteer efforts from coast-to-coast, including Opening and Closing Ceremonies and virtual volunteer opportunities. #CLSNVW2017

CLS California came out in full support of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The Festival featured more than 100 ticketed author events, children’s storytelling, poetry readings, book signings and more than 400 exhibitor booths. Volunteers assisted with welcoming attendees,

CLS kicked off Volunteer Week with a memorable Family Day filled with Laughter and Lemonade! All of CLS was invited out along with their families and friends to enjoy a fun packed day of food, old school games and more. CLS gave back in support of Lemonade for Livy, a national



Freedom From Fibroids Movie Premiere Freedom from Fibroids: A documentary premiere event featuring celebrity special guests. Volunteers worked the registration table, the bar (wine and water), passed out hors d’oeuvres, greeted guests, and enjoyed the movie. The film powerfully explored Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) — a non-surgical, outpatient alternative to hysterectomy. UFE has a cure rate of nearly 90% and a shorter recovery time compared to surgery. Cynthia Bailey became a UFE advocate after suffering from Uterine Fibroids and going to Dr. John Lipman for treatment. CLASSY CHRONICLES


CLS IN THE Community program that is managed by the Epilepsy Foundation. Each attendee donated $1.00 for a deliciously fresh cup of lemonade from our CLS lemonade stand. Our sisters wore yellow or purple to help support this worthy cause. Volunteer Week Monday - Meal Packing: Open Hand The kitchen is the Grand Central of Open Hand. As you would imagine, with nearly 5,500 meals to prepare, package and deliver every day, the atmosphere is electric. But it’s not all work — the music is always on, and the friendly banter among new friends never ceases. It all makes for a very memorable and rewarding experience. Packing involves portioning food into individual containers and snack bags on our packing assembly line. Tab Collection: Ronald McDonald Charities (Virtual) CLS became ambassadors for recycling by asking family, friends, school, church, or companies to get involved. Pop tabs were removed from every aluminum can and collected in a convenient container. Once a large amount of pop tabs were collected, they were dropped off at locations provided to be recycled for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Volunteer Week Tuesday - Random Acts of Kindness (Virtual) Opportunities were sought out every day to help someone. From holding open a door, offering assistance of any kind, helping someone trying to get a stroller down the steps or just taking any opportunity to be kind. Every small interaction with someone is an opportunity to have a positive impact on both of your lives. All kind acts were posted using our hashtag #CLSNVW2017 ALL DAY via social media. Volunteer Week Wednesday - Music Therapy: AG Rhodes Health & Rehab AG Rhodes Health & Rehab Center had Music Therapy at their Wesley Woods location. CLS was invited to come and visit to participate with the residents and spread the love of companionship. AG Rhodes is dedicated to helping their residents lead a healthy, fulfilling life. Our CLS sisters donated some of their time during Volunteer Week to visit the residents and show them some love! Street Meal Delivery: Kashi Atlanta Volunteers met at Kashi headquarters and used their own vehicles to deliver sack lunches for hungry and homeless men, women and children living on Atlanta’s streets. Volunteers of all ages were welcome with adult supervision. Pantry Organization: The Grace Community Food Pantry Volunteers organized and unpacked food items that had been delivered, ensured freshness, and monitored quality before supplying the appropriate shelves with designated items. Volunteers also broke down boxes and took cardboard to the recycling bin/trash. Financial Donations: Project MB (Virtual) Miracle Babies works to provide a better start for new families who face significant financial challenges due to having a newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Donating to this great cause was made possible when CLS provided a link to it’s members! Volunteer Week Thursday - Write Letters: A Million Thanks Letters (Virtual) Founded in 2004 A Million Thanks is a non profit organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. military. They ask individuals, schools, churches, businesses, and other organizations to write cards, letters, emails, and prayer messages of appreciation for our military, past and present. Sample Letters were found on website. Any CLS member that wrote a total of 10 letters between April 23rd- April 29th was eligible for 2 virtual volunteer hours. The hashtag #CLSNVW2017 was used once the letters were completed. Race for Empowerment Packet Prep: Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence Packet Prep (T-shirts, & Bibs) Volunteers helped to stuff 300 packets. Proceeds from the race benefit the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence whose mission is to collaborate, advocate, educate & empower others about Domestic Violence. Volunteer Week Friday - Baby Basics Drive: BLABLA Kids CLS always celebrates with a cause! Baby donations were collected while 8 CLASSY CHRONICLES

our sisters “parlayed” and learned more about CLS while sorting donated goods. BlaBla Kids hosted CLS for the evening as we sorted through donated items to benefit pregnant homeless teens through a partnership with Families First. Music, wine and dessert was abundant! California Baby Basics Drive: Baby2Baby (Various locations) CLS gives back from coast to coast! Volunteers were able to participate in the baby basics drive in California through drop-off locations with Baby2Baby anytime during National Volunteer Week. A link was provided to find the nearest drop-off location to help provide low-income children ages 0-12 years with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. Charlotte Baby Basics Drive: Baby Bundles Our Charlotte sisters also helped mothers in need by donating baby items at a location nearest to them. Baby Bundles provides a bag full of necessities – baby outfits, blankets and the like – to mothers in need as they leave the hospital with their newborn. The contents of each bag are worth about $125, helping families begin parenthood on the right foot. The Care Project, Inc,! (Virtual) Tax deductible donations in any amount were possible for CLS members to contribute. A donation of $10 paid for a patients co-pay who otherwise could not afford a co-pay for screening. Another option: If you are an Amazon shopper, you could simply log on to and search “Care Project Inc, Riverside, Ca” and choose them as your designated charity. Thereafter, every time you shop Amazon, make sure to go to the Amazon Smile website and a % of your sale will automatically be donated to TCP! Any donation amount made with a copy of the confirmation or any purchases made from the listed site earned 1 virtual hour.

Volunteer Week Saturday - Building Furniture and Organizing: The Furniture Bank Furniture Bank of Atlanta is a wonderful non-profit organization that builds and provides essential household items to clients transitioning from homeless shelters into apartments and homes. Volunteers assisted building tables as well as sorting and organizing kitchen items and linens. We want to give a big Thank You to all of our Community Partners that helped to make Volunteer Week a success for CLS! Our beautiful sisters in Charlotte closed out April with a volunteer effort at HOC Promising Pages. CLS members joined Hands on Charlotte volunteers to help with organizing, sanitizing and wrapping books at the organization’s temporary facility near Carowinds. Promising Pages is a nonprofit dedicated to helping underserved children develop a love of reading by providing free books to those children. CLS volunteers also supported the effort by donating new or gently used children’s books. April Showers bring Classy Living Society’s 3rd birthday! Happy birthday CLS! California knows how to Volunteer! CLS California brought in the month of May with Transform Compton. CLS Volunteers brought their positive attitudes and willingness to work and partnered with parents, students, city leaders, churches and other residents to transform Compton. Transformation projects included painting of schools, homes, churches, non profits, murals, yard work, graffiti removal, block clean ups, community gardens and other similar activities. Back in Atlanta, CLS supported the Free to Breathe 5k. Volunteer participation helped to build awareness to programs dedicated to doubling lung cancer survival by 2022. Volunteers passed out water and tee shirts to participants, assisted with registration and set up, and greeted participants. CLS Atlanta continues the momentum by supporting The Atlanta Children’s Shelter as they hosted their annual Women’s Giving Circle Luncheon at Piedmont Park’s Magnolia Hall! The luncheon connects, empowers and inspires executive leaders in Atlanta’s business community to have an impact through Philanthropy. Volunteers managed the registration table, checked in guests and escorted them to their tables. BCBS Peachtree Juniors is a great event that serves over 3000 kids ages 2-14. CLS Atlanta Volunteers assisted with the races and filled in where needed with other activities. This event is designed to offer kids the experience, excitement and prestige of the infamous AJC Peachtree Road Race. Volunteers were also available for the post race festival on the Active Oval at Piedmont Park. CLS Charlotte is back in action in mid May assisting MDA with the fight against Neuromuscular disease. Professional athletes buddied up with a local child living with this disease. There were interactive games, a silent and live auction and plenty of fun! This event would not have been possible without volunteers who assisted with registration, greeting, auction spotters/runners/retrieval, games and clean up. The Classy Ladies of CLS wrap up the month of May with the Kettle Krush 5k. The goal of the event is to generate funds to help support the Salvation Army’s ministries and programs within the Atlanta community. CLS Volunteers were needed to help support the fight to crush homelessness, hunger and human trafficking.





by: Valerie Alerte Kavanagh


s one of the contributing writers for the Classy Chronicles I have been afforded the opportunity to interview several amazing women in business since the Chronicles debut. This month’s cover story is especially warm and dear to my heart as it speaks to me as a mother, a working professional, and a Founding Sister of Classy Living Society whose mission is giving back and making a difference. Blended Designs (BD) has defined themselves as a small “blended” family business. Let me assure you, there is nothing small about this business’s mission, and my candid interview with its Founder, Casey R. Kelley will give you, our readers a look into how Blended Designs came to be and the powerful impact they are making in our community. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida with distribution in multiple US locations, Blended Designs specializes in apparel and gifts with positive and socially conscious messaging. Ms. Kelley understands that education is pivotal if breaking the cycle of poverty and incarceration is to be seen and

#Blessed realized in America’s inner cities. Ms. Kelley is passionate that “someone has to be first! Someone has to be the change”. This is why Blended Designs places a great deal of focus on first generation college students, specifically young ladies in the inner city. Blended Designs works to help college-bound aged girls to navigate the path to a four-year college degree. “We want to change the question asked to high school juniors and seniors from “are you going to college?” to “which college are you going to?” With each purchase of a BD inspired apparel or gift you are equally joining in the effort to break the cycle. A portion from EVERY purchase is donated to nonprofit organizations and scholarships which share in the Blended Designs mission. Classy Chronicles (CC): Casey, can you please tell me when and how did Blended Designs come to be? Blended Designs (BD): It actually started as a result of my wedding; I got married in July 2014 and my husband and I blended our


#Melanin CC: Talk to me a little bit more about bridging that gap and making that correlation and having the youth understand that we are not necessarily the stigma that is portrayed in social media and in the news. BD: First, I’m really trying to reach, the people of color that actually do feel that, they are who society says they are. I’m trying to teach them that they are not a product of their circumstances. What we have done is really tried to focus on education because we believe with everything that education is what bridges the gap of poverty, and it breaks the cycle. So we look at first generation college students and have messages that are promoting being educated, promoting going to college, and we donate to help people go to college as well. Tying all of the positive messaging together is how we are working to change what society thinks. We are redefining #SquadGoals CC: When I look at your website I see that you have items such as backpacks with little boys and girls depicted on them. Can you tell me about that line, which obviously is for the younger demographic? BD: Our target demographic is actually females between the ages of 18 to 26; however we’ve included the “Black Boy Joy” and “Black Girl Magic” for the kids line, along with the cartoon-drawing inspired backpacks. The backpacks are a very recent addition to our line , and have just taken off like “crazy” thank the Lord!

families. I made the invitations, managed the day-to-day planning and it was one of those things that everyone was saying “You really should start a business”. CC: You mention that for your wedding you were doing invitations, save-the-dates and so forth; but can you tell me a little bit about your business today and how it morphed from wedding related items to what it has become, which is quite a different focus? BD: Last year I actually did a complete 180 with the business that corresponded with the shootings that happened that really hit home, and I wanted to make T-shirts that reflected the beauty of melanin and by that it changed the direction of the business completely. I now focus on positive messaging which I transpose onto T-shirts, totes, backpacks and several other items which have continued to evolve. CC: So that I understand, what you’re saying is that your business reinvented itself due to the societal tragedies which have taken place most recently. BD: Exactly! CC: Can you share with me further how you’re connecting these tragic situations to your actual messaging to today’s youth? BD: With the messaging I share, it’s about positivity, and it’s about celebrating the beauty of melanin. There are so many negative connotations of what represents African-Americans, and I didn’t want messaging that would be blatantly in your face, but I did want to express subtle “melanin is beautiful” “because I’m beautiful”, type of messaging and further celebrating all of the things that African-Americans are told are negative. For example, Blended Designs sells a T-shirt that says “Black Boy Joy.” This shirt came about because of my son. It is a counter response to “Black Girl Magic”, and it was something that I wanted to do to somehow bring together and express to the world that African-Americans are more than what is being seen in the news. More importantly how do we put the message out there that college is an option for all of our youth and that they understand this is where we want to go and this is what we want to do.


CC: Now that you have added these items to your line, by any chance, are there any programs that you have tapped into with elementary schools that are going to directly correlate with this younger demographic since you’ve started advertising and marketing some of your clothing and some of your backpacks and totes? If so, what organizations or schools are you connecting with at this point? BD: We have done a couple of things to promote the positive messaging of our youth backpack line. The “Think Outside of the Box” design, we recently made a donation to Cub Scout troops in the United Kingdom and also in Indianapolis, Indiana. We also made a donation to Coretta Scott-King High School in Atlanta, where we donated at cost our tote bags which were used as a graduation gift to their graduating senior class. Blended Designs also has a partnership with Dubois County Public Schools, where we provide our backpacks, and the bags are then stuffed with school supplies. CC: What’s the next step for Blended Designs, where do you see yourselves going, as obviously you’re growing rapidly. Where do you see the company in five years? BD: Ultimately, I would like for Blended Designs to have our own scholarship so that we really can hone in and focus on first generation college students which is our ultimate goal, and creating partnerships with colleges to see our vision come to fruition. For example, when students confirm their positions in college there is an initial expense which can be several hundred dollars. It is important to understand that your average first-generation college student in the inner cities may not necessarily have those funds readily available. Partnering with the schools so that there’s a pool of money that a student can pull from if needed would be a great help and prevent any deterrence from starting college. Let me also mention, we are presently working with a major retailer to get on to their dot-com site. We’ve got a lot going on and we’re moving a lot faster than ever envisioned. CC: Considering the fast-paced growth of your company, is it safe to say that in the next five years, when we go to your website which is presently Afrocentric in nature, that it’s going to be more diversified and encapsulate all races, and focus moreso on all first-generation college-bound women? BD: Yes. That’s right.


#BlackGirlMagic CC: That’s awesome! BD: Ultimately I envision our website being very much targeted for first-generation college students and promoting first-generation college students across demographics. I do know that I will probably keep the T-shirt line, I’ll definitely keep the biblically inspired “Be Blessed” line, but I want to broaden and go beyond backpacks, totes, and T-Shirts. I want people to be able to see themselves in a positive light, specifically African-Americans, but in underrepresented cultures and ultimately everyone! CC: Is there anything that you feel that you’d want our readers to know about you, something that maybe you haven’t shared today, something you’d want us to remember about you and the legacy of Blended Designs? BD: I think the most important thing that I would want readers to know is that ideas have an expiration date, and it’s like I have this idea of something and I moved on it, and moving on it really changed the nature of my business. However, prior to that I literally prayed and prayed. I quit my six-figure salary earning job in March 2017, and because I felt that this is what I am being led to do, and the aspect of my business that gives-back is what is driving me and pushing me forward. I want to make a difference in people’s lives; I want someone to be able to say not “Casey


Kelley, of Blended Designs did XYZ,” but “Blended Designs was the company that helped me go to college and changed the dynamic of my future....changed my generation and changed my family…” And THAT is what I want people to know. Order products at Follow on Instagram & Twitter: blendeddesigns Follow on Facebook: BlendedDesignsLLC

Member spotlight

y a R y b a B t e e w S

Loving, Living & Learning Rafanee Herman’s story Love yourself’s impossible to love others if you don’t.


afanee Herman, also known as “Ray” or “Sweet-baby Ray,” is a great example of a person making a difference in the world. She’s supportive and is always willing to help wherever she can. When you meet Ray, you first notice her positive outlook and then you see this positivity in everything she does. Her enthusiasm and commitment to success are evident as Ray is a “constant body in motion.” She has an energetic “hands on” approach to life that is absolutely contagious. Born in 1982, in the quaint town of Little Rock, Arkansas, Ray grew up in a loving, family oriented environment. Her mother, Mimi, taught Ray to stand up, speak up, and show up - letting the world know the Hermans have pride. At the age of 13, Ray’s journey of service begin in the church as she served on youth praise team and as a member of the youth choir. Being involved in the church helped her form numerous bonds and friendships that continue to be in place to this day. Graduating from high school in 2000 and then moving to Atlanta with her mom and brother in the summer of 2001, were significant steps in Ray’s life journey.

credits her accomplishments to “going hard” five to six days a week and challenging herself with sensational new workouts. Ray regularly goes to her “happy place”...the gym...where she participates in Zumba, kickboxing cardio, boot camp classes and lifts those so important weights. She says she loves it all!!! Ray got the nickname Sweet-baby Ray from a friend a long time ago. Ray says, “I always went by “Ray” but I guess when you’re as sweet as pie with a baby get Sweet-baby Ray.” When speaking of her role in Classy LivingSociety, Ray lights up! “My role on the events team, Fabfunktions, is administrative assistant. I help make sure the vision concerning our events is brought to life. I’m involved in everything from helping find the perfect venue to cutting the stems of flowers for the perfect tablescape. My responsibilities on this amazing team also include research, site visits, meetings and promotions. I’ve seen a lot of positive changes in my life since joining this team.” My family and my close friends ,that love me dearly, have been the biggest influences in my life. I have to give credit to each and every one of them; they have all guided me in life at the times that I needed it most.

After 13 years of working in administrative and legal positions, Ray found the perfect extension to her dedication to serve...Classy Living Society. Ray says, CLS is the perfect Ray continues to love, live and learn a lot about life. place for her because giving back and volunteering has changed her in ways she never To me, fun means VOLUNTEERING, family time, imagined. It really warms her heart knowing going to the gym, cooking, traveling, tanning at the beach, cocktails that she’s restaurants learning and bonding with like with the girls, and trying out new minded women who, when it One of her favorite sayings is “have no fear...Sweet-baby comes to assisting those in need, have the same passion Ray is here to volunteer!” When it comes to helping others, as she does. she just can’t help herself. Ray feels that even the smallest Ray enjoys spending time with family and friends, things can make someone’s day. She’s always been the entertaining them and, most of all, she enjoys cooking for type to put others first, which is one of the reasons why them. It seems that the more she cooks, the more she she LOVES CLS! She says, “Who knew volunteering could falls in love with the thought of trying a new recipe. After be so fun! Not only am I giving back but I’m able to conyears of research, many, many hours of practice and a nect, bond, and learn from other like minded women who load of unwavering faith, Ray is in the process of starting love to serve. It’s a joy and a pleasure to give back in ways Sweet-Baby Plates Lunch Delivery and Catering Service...a that I never imagined.” unique service providing a lunch alternative to those who After learning more about Rafanee Herman, we can see want nutritious and oh so delicious meals. why there’s a constant look of satisfaction on her face. Yes...Ray cooks...volunteers...but she also has another She’s found her passion for service and she’s living on passion: FITNESS! She calls herself a “gym rat” as she purpose. For Ray...these are truly the best days of her life. started her fitness journey in February 2015. Just a little --- Avis Pitts over two years later, Ray has lost 21 lbs and has managed to maintain her weight loss. Talk about inspiration! She

She’s So Social: Stop spending hours creating marketing content

Why Evergreen Content is Queen! So what is evergreen content? Evergreen content is videos, blogs, live streams, posts or other social media information that will almost never get old or go stale. For example: I’m sure you’ve heard that adding lemon to your water will speed up weight loss. You’ve heard it, your mother has heard it and I’m pretty sure your grandmothers have heard about it, too. So if you write a blog entitled, “Lemon Water: The Natural Miracle that helps you lose weight,” post it on Twitter and never post it again, what’s the point? You’ve wasted an hour of your life writing a blog that will only be seen by 50 of your followers that happened to be looking at Twitter when you posted the article. Will that content be relevant tomorrow? Will it be relevant next week? What about next year? Why create a blog post on a new topic when you can repost that article over and over again, until every last one of your four million Twitter followers see it…. Twice! Ok, well maybe you don’t have four million Twitter followers, but you get the point, right? Stop spending time creating so much new content. Start reposting evergreen content. If your content can stand the test of time, set it up on auto repost, several times a day on Twitter or several times per week on Facebook. First, your content doesn’t always have to be your own. You should combine your content with those that your audience respects and enjoys. If your audience loves Oprah, pull a quote from Soulful Sunday guests. Look at previous social media posts and see which content performed the best. Snag that content and add it to your evergreen posts list. If your platform doesn’t offer this, it might be time to upgrade. Click here to see my absolute favorite social media management platform, Social Report.

Socially Nina, The Social Media Professor

Here are a few examples of where to look for evergreen content • YouTube Videos • Live Streams • Instagram Stories • Facebook Posts • Snapchats • Blogs • Tweets • Online Magazines • Memes • Discussion Forums

See what others are saying about Social Report “I love the white labeled, comprehensive reports I can present to clients with just a few clicks. I also couldn’t live without the many automations they offer and then finally I like that my clients can have their own access to their Social Report projects.”


mommy corner

Hot Fun In The Summertime

by Vanesssa Parker

Fun & Inexpensive Summer Activities

School is out and the summer is here. Summer break is a great time to spend making memories with your family. You don’t have to drop a lot of money to create these memories. Think outside the box to create some summer fun with your family. Here is a great list of inexpensive ideas . Summer goes by fast and you want to take advantage of the time you have with your children. Use this list to create amazing memories that they will talk about all year long.


FAMILY PICNICS Family picnics can be a lot of fun. Grab your favorite snacks, picnic basket and hula-hoop for an outside adventure. Have the kids assist with creating their favorite snacks and spend the day outside.



Make Reading Fun Just because it is the summer does not mean you

FREE FESTIVALS Most cities have free festivals during the summer. Sign up for community newsletters to receive updates of local festivals. Macaroni Kids(national. is a great resource to find events in your area.


can’t enjoy a good book. Prevent summer learning loss and make reading fun. Contact your local library for summer reading events. Create rewards for books read during the summer to encourage reading.


There is always time for a roller coaster or two. Visit your local amusement park for summer discounts and events. Your kids will thank you!

Create a book of summer memories Take a ton of pictures of your summer adventures. Print the best ones and grab a scrapbook and some glue sticks. Have your children help create a scrapbook


of the memories they created over the summer.

BE A TOURIST FOR A DAY It is easy to take local museums and landmarks for granted. Visit these landmarks and have your children write a summary of what they learned as a tourist for the day. Or create a scavenger hunt of things they will see along the way. Make it fun for them to learn about their city.




Woman Doctor SPEAKS

The Woman Doctor, a non-profit organization that has a mission of cultivating and inspiring women and girls to pursue higher education while building non cognitive, entrepreneurial skills and leadership skills, was founded in 2016. It was established due to the disparities of women and women of color with terminal degrees and participating in entrepreneurial endeavors. Also, one of the main pillars of TWD is self-love. Self-love isn’t taught in schools.


“So, who am I?” The question that reminds me of the nostalgic place between learning my history and choosing to walk in my purpose. Having come from lineage who were once denied education, residing in a country which has not overcome gender inequalities, the answer, “today I am a change agent, tomorrow I aspire to be a better one”. My professional background is in business administration and political science, working for both Fortune 500 and governmental agencies. However, my passion of leading, education and fostering change has led me to pursue a Doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education. My dissertation dissects the necessary non-cognitive skills of African Americans in the segregated city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in pursuit of entrepreneurial success. This research is directly aligned with my interests in educational policy, transformational leadership, innovation, race and equity. Indeed, my learning precedes everything else I do. During my doctoral studies, I was afforded the opportunity to study at the University of Pennsylvania, where I received a certificate in Race and Equity. From this experience, my passion for historically underrepresented groups, and women in leadership grew. To expand my global reach, in 2016, I co-founded the Imani Institute for Girls in Kenya to foster education and training in the areas of leadership, STEM and entrepreneurship. My goal is to foster education and self-love among women and girls. During my 20’s, I did not know how to love myself, so it is essential we foster this noncognitive skill among women and girls. Growing up, education was essential in my household. Education is of extreme importance: it provided me the platform for which I stand today. Education creates many opportunities. In fact, we should never stop learning. Lastly, although academic pathways to college are essential, the educational system should incorporate more vocational training and entrepreneurship courses into its curriculum. Opening doors of educational opportunities for those who think it’s unattainable is essential. ~ The Woman Doctor TheWomanDoctor on Social Media CLASSY CHRONICLES 19


JORDANA GUIMARAES Jordana Guimaraes, founder of ACL PR & Marketing, has worked in the fashion and lifestyle industries for over 15 years and, through every project she raised awareness and funds for numerous causes including Make-A-Wish, Give Bones, SU2C as well as “bullying”. After recently giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, Guimaraes wanted to make a bigger impact/difference and this time on a “global” scale due to all of the troubles the world has been facing affecting the “millennials” in a major way! The NYLON Project was founded in December of 2016 with a mission to “give a face to homelessness” worldwide. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this issue has been a lifelong concern of hers. In the beginning stages of the project, $10K was raised via a GoFundMe campaign in order to feed 1,500 homeless individuals - starting with New York (as it’s her current base) - and get each of their stories of how they wound up on the streets. The official launch took place at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 2017 w/ tremendous success! Celebrities & influencers including: Christina Milian, Jenni Farley (JWOWW), FAULKNER (band), Wé McDonald (finalist - Alicia Keys’s team - on season 11 of The Voice) and blogger/ influencer Rachel Lynch of “I Hate Blonde”, supported the cause by walking the runway & performing.

THE NYLON PROJECT “Nearing record highs, New York City homeless shelters take in more than 60,400 people, including 24,000 children, each night” - according to the Coalition for the Homeless’ 2016 “State of the Homeless” report. The project is compiled of many fashion/entertainment initiatives, utilizing celebrities, influencers, fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, to create a viral #ItCanBeYou campaign, getting the attention of the “millennials” to understand the homeless rather than judge by sharing the stories gathered through the “meal giving” component of project. “It’s time people stop judging and start relating. Through compassion and love, we can make the world a better place. We all deserve a second chance in life,” says Guimaraes. This is all only the beginning as there are many new initiatives currently being assembled which will soon be announced. Stay tuned as it started in NYC, however, after much demand will soon touch every city all over the world! For more information please visit www.thenylonproject1. com or follow on Instagram at @thenylonproject1. Press inquiries or to participate please email thenylonproject1@

Dress designed for Jordana by Layana Aguilar




elissa Mitchell is an Atlanta based abstract artist, with a love of vibrant colors, unique shapes, and bold dark lines. As a self -taught artist, she pulls inspiration from her Bahamian heritage, melodic tunes, and the colorful world around her. Since February 2014, she has created over 350 original art pieces, painted over 25 larger than life murals, been featured in the media and has work sold in stores. She has also turned her favorite paintings into unique headwraps, pocket squares, socks, bow ties, home decor, and specialty textiles. She specializes in working with clients to create one-of-a-kind pieces for homes, offices, and other personal spaces. She aims to create pieces that evoke emotion, to serve as a “light source”, speak to the soul, but above all-----inspire people to follow their passions and cultivate their dreams. She is known as the “Kaleidoscope of Hope” because she brings joy through her use of colors. Anyone that experiences something she has created will find comfort in knowing that there is nothing else like it in the world.

Melissa says, “Art is like love. You make it what you want and it makes you feel things you can’t always describe; you’re left to just relish in the beauty of it. Art has single-handedly changed my life and the way I live it”. She is currently working on expanding her brand globally and developing significant artistic collaborations with other artists, corporations, major fashion houses and brands.

Follow Abeille Creations Website: Instagram: @AbeilleCreations Melissa says, “My work is highly expressive and emotional. Because art serves as a conduit for my freedom and happiness, I always leave a piece of myself into anything I create. My pieces evoke great emotion and compels the viewer to want to know more.I initially began creating on wood and canvas, then I branched out to fabric, walls, furniture, luggage, actual humans,and anything else I can get paint to stick to.” Melissa began creating because she wanted to “get out my colorful emotions and I also waned to inspire others to find their gifts. I found a way to express emotions that words would do no justice, and I gave my ‘idle time’ great purpose.“



Summer A Summer Guide to Losing the First 5 Pounds



ummer is not the time to ditch the weight loss efforts that you made at the top of the year by trading in your workout clothes for swimsuits and maxi dresses. In fact, if you have not reached your weight loss goals, the summer months are the perfect time to refresh your workout routine so you can start seeing lasting results. The longer days and warmer weather should get you motivated and off the couch and ready to work toward your fitness goals. Most people that are hesitant to exercise have the same problem: they don’t know how to get the most from their workouts and don’t know which foods provide their bodies with the fuel needed to burn calories and build muscle. For most people, exercise is not their first love. It’s just a means to an end. That end may be to lose weight, gain weight, sleep better, feel better, or even to impress someone from the past. No matter what the reason, we can agree that the majority of us are not exercising just to past time. We want results and we want to know the most effective way to get the results. A road map showing where to start and how to continue after you’ve started will increase your chances of making it to the end. Breaking your fitness goals into small milestones is recommended in order to keep you focused and excited about your journey. A progressive plan requires you to adjust your workout to fit your current level and helps avoid the dreaded “plateau” that can bring your weight loss to a screeching halt. Focusing on the first 5 pounds can set the foundation needed for much larger weight loss goals. If you know how to take the first steps towards weight loss and how to effectively get through each day, having achieved a goal that can be used to get through the next day, your chances for long-term success triples.



Rule #1: Never go more than 2 days without working out.

Break a sweat before the clock strikes midnight on day 2. Aim for 30 -60 minutes of total body strength training with 10 minutes of interval cardio at the end of the workout. Rule #2: Plan and track each workout. Know what you are going to do before you start working out. Have it in front of you. This decreases the likelihood that you will quit mid workout. Write down your times and number of reps so that you can aim to beat them during the following workout. This pushes you to challenge yourself by setting baseline goals. Rule #3: Limit your carbohydrate and starch intake to 1 cup per day. Oatmeal might be considered a healthy food, but it is still very caloric. If you know you are having potatoes for dinner, skip the oatmeal at breakfast. Rule #4: Start lifting weights. Cardio is great for burning calories while you work out but muscle is what burns calories while you are not working out. Muscles are your friend. Rule #5: Eat smaller meals more often. Help your body burn fat instead of storing it by not waiting too long in between meals.




FATHER’S DAY GIFT TIPS Times are forever changing and millennials set the bar high for parents. We often have to step outside the box, especially for Dads! According to Braylen Brooks, here are the Top 3 Father’s Day gifts that should be on your RADAR!



A nice, cost-friendly and timeless watch by Daniel Wellington. These watches exude trendy, affluent maturity.


Dads need “maintenance” too. I would recommend a gift set from the Art of Shaving. The kit contains different items and gadgets to trim the beard and keep the skin looking youthful.


Shoes! When a dad looks good, he feels good! Keeping him polished in a pair of Cole Haan wing-tipped shoes will always be a great idea!

Who is Braylen Brooks? Braylen Brooks is a red carpet TV host & Style / Travel Blogger. Becoming a TV host was something that Braylen “fell into organically.” In his group of friends, he was notorious for crashing “high profile” events such as The Grammys, The Golden Globes, Movie Premiers; you name it! After 2 years of interviewing celebrities and public figures on the red carpet, Viewer’s Choice audience poll results revealed a demand for Braylen to have a platform showcasing the locations offering his unique red carpet pieces. Thus, a natural transition into the role of a style influencer commenced. For as long as he can remember, Braylen has had a passion for fashion. In fact, he came from a long line of elegant women, so it’s no coincidence that he would pursue an interest in fashion! It was destined to be. Follow Braylen


community partner


hat’s what Classy Living Society experienced at the Virginia Avenue Blabla Kids store on a beautiful Friday evening in Atlanta We couldn’t think of any better way to end the day, so we brought our donations of baby clothes, wipes, diapers, baby food and onesies to Blabla. The mission was to support pregnant homeless teens through a partnership with Families First. We had an amazing time sorting and organizing items for expectant mothers and their precious cargo. CLS continued the tradition of giving back to the community and making a positive impact in the lives of others by bringing the best to Blabla. In fact, Blabla was created in 2001 by Susan Pritchett and Florence Wetterwald. These friends had the same philosophy about life and beauty. Blabla is committed to fair trade, environmental awareness and is involved with various humanitarian causes. Its mission is to inspire joy, laughter, and to try and make the world a better place. Go to to learn more.

volunteering and giving those in need a helping hand; enthusiasm filled the store. Our time at Blabla Kids was both memorable and fun. As well, Blabla’s representatives stated our contributions were very much appreciated and they. are looking forward to us returning soon. Classy Living Society continues to be on the move by being one of the most talked about women’s volunteer organizations in Atlanta.

Families First helps connect, strengthen and sustain families by providing resources, support systems, and other opportunities around Atlanta. Their numerous programs include: adoption services, foster care, and residential living along with family counseling, training and therapy. Go to to learn more. We topped the night of bonding with good music, dazzling desserts and sensational wine. Also, CLS members were available to network with guests who desired to get information about Classy Living Society, even with our own CEO, LaShanda Pitts, in attendance to answer questions about the organization. Based on the experience with the CLS sisters showing their zeal for giving, a new member was born. Mona Turenne became a member of the family that night. She witnessed a group of women dedicated to

Sugar & Spice


s ’ r e h t o M y p p Ha ather’s Day &F M

y mother is my source of strength and encouragement. I’m a lucky girl to have a mom like

As a child, my mother taught me about life, fought for me, shouted at me, helped me but, most of all, she loved me unconditionally. Now as two women, I am looking forward to celebrating her day with a Sunday brunch at Ray’s On The River. My father has always been there for me. Even through the good and even the “not so good” decisions I’ve made, he has guided me in the process. He is an excellent grandfather to my children and has been a Blessing to our family! Panya Edwards-Dixon


y daddy is in Heaven. He taught me how to be ambitious and always be

a leader. He instilled values and discipline in all his kids. He was the first man I loved! May he continue to rest in Heaven. His birthday is May 17. Mizette Coakley

My mother means everything to me and I would not be the

Carolyn Dixon. Still planning the day, but I’m sure it’ll end with my hubby making his famous ribs for her. She loves them! My father was the best dad ever. He always taught me to be the Chooser...never the Chosen. He also taught me how to pick a good man! I know he’s super proud of my choice and would love my hubby! LaShanda Pitts

My mother shaped me into the woman I am today. She was my biggest cheerleader and always made me believe that I could do anything. People in my small hometown always tell me that I look just like my compliment in the whole wide world!! Agnes Rochelle Jamison


others are so precious and wise. We all should

love them beyond measure. I Lost my mom in 2015. Her memories dwell in me constantly!!!! Happy Early Mother’s Day to you, mom, my beloved friend... Betty J. Burney

person I am without her. We are

I am so grateful to have my mom. After losing my dad 10 years ago, unwavering love has

best friends and I plan to lounge

sealed our bond. I plan to go to church with her and cook her a fabulous Mother’s Day

around and watch HGTV or LMN

dinner, which is the very thing I know that makes her happy! Although my Dad is in heaven,

with her on that special day! She loves to spend time with me doing nothing, lol.

there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. He was my rock and my happy place. He never met a stranger. I’m so grateful for the time we had together. Miss you Dad! Avis Pitts

Kirstin White


y dad is my warm place. He is funny, youthful, and


celebrate my mom’s legacy every day. She is in heaven and continues to guide me from above. For

passed on his love for music to

those with moms still living, love and cherish them. I do

me and my sisters. He is sen-

have a wonderful daughter who I plan to spend the day

sitive and not afraid to show

with. The details are always a surprise! My dad is also

emotion, especially when he

in heaven. He taught me about God and told me that I

says how much he loves us! I

would never want for anything because of my faith. He

love my daddy! Kristell Sigmone Douglas

was a powerful man of God. I miss him dearly. Rebecca Hyde Walls CLASSY CHRONICLES 27

Location : Bahamas

Location : Panama City Beach, FL

An English-speaking archipelago that begins about 50 miles off the south coast of Florida, the 29 islands, 661 cays, and a few thousand rocks that make up the Bahamas differ dramatically from one to the next -- from bustling, modern business centers in Nassau, to flashy casinos packed with thousands of docked cruise ship passengers, to Americanized shopping centers to entirely isolated beaches far removed from an airport, a bank, a grocery store, or anything else. But, uniformly, you’ll find a pleasantly infectious culture focused on conch, beer, and slow-paced good times.

Featuring 27 miles of white sand beaches along the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach is home to dozens of public beachess, waterfront restaurants that serve up fresh local seafood, and legendary attractions. In Panama City Beach you can watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico every day of the year.


Location : Jamaica

With warm locals and some of the most attentive service anywhere in the Caribbean, live reggae performances across the island, world-class golf courses, cliff diving, roadside jerk shacks, serving some of the Caribbean’s best -- and cheapest -- grub, money-saving all-inclusive packages offered virtually everywhere (even at the Ritz-Carlton) there is no doubt that Jamaica is a ‘must experience” Caribbean destination.


WHERE ARE CLS MEMBERS GOING THIS SUMMER? The ladies of Classy Living Society are traveling around the world this summer. The types of trips are versatile and include traveling with families, while others are doing girlfriend getaways or traveling alone.

Location : San Antonio’s RiverWalk

The River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is the largest urban ecosystem in the nation. Tucked quietly below street level and only steps from the Alamo, it provides a serene and pleasant way to navigate the city. Ride a river cruiser, rent a bicycle or take your time seeing the sights on foot. With 15 miles of sidewalks and paths, the River Walk provides access to museums, the King William Historic District, 300-year-old Spanish missions, hotels, shops, restaurants and a new adventure around every turn.

Location : Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (pictured below) At the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas -- a beach town on the stretch of coastline collectively known as Los Cabos (The Capes) -- has long been a popular vacation spot for sun-worshipping party seekers. One reason why Los Cabos remains a staple in the beach resort world is its California-esque vibe. It almost feels like an extension of Southern California, with similar deluxe accommodations, striking golf courses, and high-end shops. All posh-ness aside, Cabo San Lucas still presents visitors with stunning scenery and a distinct Mexican charm, especially around the coastline. The large cluster of rock formations on Land's End is famously beautiful, and there's great whale watching January through March (particularly in March).

Location : Martha’s Vineyard Salty breezes. Fresh-caught seafood. Storybook villages. Just off the southern coast of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is the ultimate New England summer escape. Far less developed than Cape Cod—thanks to a few local conservation organizations—yet more cosmopolitan than neighboring Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard is an island with a double life. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the quieter (some might say the real) Vineyard quickens into a vibrant, star-studded place.

Sources: Fodor, Oyster, Travel & Leisure