IMM November/December Holiday Issue 2021

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November/December 2021

Alexzandra Denis





CEO SHOULD KNOW + Brand SWOT Analysis + Suited for the Holidays + 6 Tips to Host Your First Thanksgiving



You can't run a business alone.

Let IMM give you small business advice every boss babe needs. Visit Now!





Editor's Note


7 Tips Every CEO Should Know By Cassie O. Lopez


Are You Tuned In? Discovering Your Voice through Podcast By Alex Whitfield



11 12

12 Essential Excellence Alexzandra Denis, CEO of Avalah Beauty, dishes on the joys of a thriving business 20

Creating Culture Xperiences

LaToya Davis' story on how her brand, BOX, is curating greatness for the culture


33 How to Upgrade

Your Social Skills by Emilio Cruz

38 Recreating Her


IMM catches up with last year's cover girl, Shenea Brown of HerCollectively, LLC.



SKIN CARE TIPS FOR THE WINTER: by Tania Marshall, Photo by John Adams Now that the weather is changing, it's not only time to break out the booties, pea coats, and scarves, but it's also time to take care of your skin, even more so than before. By tweaking a few habits, you can keep your skin fresh, vibrant, and beautiful with these five tips below: The Spa is Your Friend Schedule yourself a much needed sugar-scrub or full day at the spa. Your skin will thank you! Exfoliate Twice a Week The winter weather can be cold and dehydrating for your skin. This will also remove dead skin cells and allow the skin to absorb moisture. IMM Magazine | 04

Stay Hydrated Remember to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day. Water consumption can also aid in weight loss and lowering blood pressure. Drink Warm Lemon Water This drink is insanely inexpensive to make (haha, it's actually free), keeps skin glowing, aids in digestion, and can help you lose weight and is packed with vitamin C. Get Plenty of Rest Money can't buy the benefits of a good night's rest. Your oxygen levels will drop if you don't get enough sleep, meaning that your cells will not be renewed as quickly. >>

IMM Editor-in-Chief Matia Johnson-Buggs

Creative Director Executive Producer Contributing Editor Contributing Designer Senior Editor Design Editor Editorial Assistant Art Director Deputy Photo Editor Photo Assistants Staff Writers Contributing Photographer Contributing Illustrator

Dominic Guerrero Taylor Klein Marcus Daily Kelsey Carter Angela Mitchell Alma Myers Patti Lawrence Wesley Sherman Josephine Vasquez Gustavo Becker, Noah Scott Cassie O. Lopez, Tania Marshall, Tiffany Davis, Emilio Cruz, Derek Hough Jonah Denworth, Jeff Ho, Mariela Naplatanova, Jonah Marquese Santiago Holmes

EDITORIAL OFFICE P.O. Box 1565, Bowie, Maryland 20721 IMM Magazine is published content created by Creative Expressions Group, Inc.

IMM Magazine | 05


Brand Personality Adjectives Tick the adjectives that apply to your brand personality Adventurous































editor's note Can you believe we are nearing the end of 2021? Thankfully, I am writing this editor’s note in good spirits, as IMM has celebrated almost two years of being a brand agency providing business advice to Black female entrepreneurs who are launching brands, making connections, and building communities. On the front cover of this Holiday issue, we have the pleasure of catching up with Alexzandra Denis, the powerhouse CEO of Avalah Beauty, a Brooklyn based company designed to bring together 100% all natural ingredients, essential oils and luxurious scents. Her main focus is to provide customers with a spa-like experience, and Alexzandra dishes on her brand and what beauty products have inspired her entrepreneurial journey along the way. Joining Alexzandra in this issue, we also highlight LaToya Davis, CEO of Black Opulence Xperience, wife, mom, and full time Marketing and Communications leader based in Washington, DC. Her brand is the beacon in celebrating black culture with a focus on love, life, and family experiences: all things she is surrounded by on a daily basis. What do both of these women have in common, you might wonder? The cover girl of the Holiday issue in 2020, Shenea Brown, CEO of HerCollectively, LLC., virtually connected us all! In short, you can’t be afraid to make connections. Speaking of the Curating Queen, we caught up with Shenea after a year since her last IMM cover issue, and we are revealing what’s up next for her brand that is taking up some serious space.

Need some motivation? Check out our tips and tricks on digital marketing and branding at Don't forget to follow us on our social media handles:

Like in all of our magazine issues we are focused on being a positive influence to women who are managing their brands and their 9-5’s. So enjoy the last bit of 2021 and continue to keep watering those relationships that bring you the most joy! Be blessed,

Matia Johnson-Buggs Editor-in-Chief Instagram: @MatiaBuggs E-mail: IMM Magazine | 0 7




Every CEO Should Know Everyone wants to be a leader,

#1. Share Their Vision

but maintaining great leadership A leader with vision has a clear idea qualities is not for the faint of heart. Great leaders all have specific traits that they display As well as good communications, consistently. Boost your boss-oconfidence, commitment, and work meter and find out what they are. ethic, entrepreneurs need to have

of what they need to be doing, where they are going, how to get there and what success might look like. Be sure to articulate your vision clearly and

just a little bit more gusto under passionately when working with your WRITTEN BY CASSIE O. LOPEZ

their belt. Ready to suit up? Check clients.


out these seven leadership qualities understands the company's vision, by every entrepreneur should snag.

IMM Magazine | 08





conveying it in a clear and cut way.

#2. Lead By Example

#5. Make Difficult Decisions

As a leader, the best way to build credibility and gain the

To be an effective leader, the ability to make fast, difficult

respect of others is to set the right examples. Working around

decisions with limited information is crucial to your business.

the clock? Don't do that.

Leave time for yourself to

When facing a tough decision, start by determining different

decompress. Paying attention to quality customer service?

outcomes. Consider the likely consequences of your decision

Do that. By placing your clients first, you lead by example,

and any available alternatives. Make your final decision with

which is also highlighting great values to what your brand is

conviction, take responsibility for it and follow it through.

really invested in. #6. Recognize Success #3. Demonstrate Integrity

For people to stretch themselves and contribute their best

A leader with integrity draws on their values to guide their

efforts, they need to know their work will be valued and

decisions, behavior, and dealings with others. They have a

appreciated. Find ways to celebrate the achievements of your

strong sense of character, keep their promises, and

people, even if it’s through a simple ‘well done,' or remembering

communicate honestly and openly, as well as honestly and

a birthday and sending flowers to someone who is having a hard

directly with others.

time. As well as boosting morale, it will also strengthen their motivation to continue giving their best.​

#4. Communicate Effectively Know what you mean, and mean what you say. Try to be as

#7. Empower Others

clean cut as possible, without beating around the bush.

Great leaders understand that for people to give their best,

Sometimes you just have to "keep it real." Communication

they must have a sense of ownership over their work and

involves more than just listening attentively to others and

believe that what they’re doing is meaningful. Communicate

responding appropriately. It also includes sharing valuable

clear goals and deadlines to your team, and then give them the

information, listening, and not always talking, and asking

autonomy and authority to decide how the work gets done. >>

intelligent questions.​

IMM Magazine | 09

Natural hair care that works


ARE YOU TUNED IN? By Alex Whitfield

"It's more than just hearing yourself talk...." On frequency wavelengths, the human voice can connect with people when words on a computer screen cannot. One huge benefit of having a podcast for your business is this: We get to hear your voice. We get to connect with your topics. We get to connect with your personality. and buy into your brand. We get to put a voice with a name when sometimes written words behind a blog cannot give us that true connection. Besides being able to generate content, having a podcast makes it possible for you to build lucrative relationships. Here are the benefits of producing an intimate level of content to your audience: 1. Podcasts make information personal. In a podcast, the content is communicated directly to you, the listener, either verbally or through video. That’s a much more intimate way of getting information than reading it from an e-mail or document. 2. Podcasts are convenient and easy to consume. Once you subscribe to a podcast feed, new podcasts are automatically downloaded to your computer as soon as they are available. You can listen to them at your convenience. 3. Podcasts cut costs. Because podcasts are delivered digitally, they eliminate many costs associated with other forms of communication including postage, printing, and paper.

4.Podcasting is a time-efficient form of communication. You can listen to podcasts while you do other things at work or at home, or during your commute. Some types of meetings can be eliminated in favor of podcasts, saving time and improving productivity. 5. Podcasts are portable. Once a podcast resides on your computer, if your computer is portable, you can take the podcast with you and listen whenever or wherever you want. Or, you can transfer the podcast to a personal media player such as an iPod. With so many benefits of having your own podcast, it's only fitting that you get out now and gain leads, build up a valuable library of content, build influence, and promote your products and services. Happy Marketing! IMM Magazine | 11




CEO of Avalah Beauty


The term "Creative" does no justice for this

When I created the brand it was about showing my

entrepreneur. This Brooklyn, NY based brand has a

community that you can have all natural products that

love for all things beauty, wellness, and self-care. The

are wonderfully scented in lux packaging. Now I am

face behind the brand is Alexzandra Denis, vibrant,

also showing men that they have to take care of their

vivacious, and with a heart of gold, she is a force to be

skin and hair as well.

reckoned with. Her brand, Avalah Beauty, brings together 100% all natural ingredients, essential oils

IMM: Describe your style. What advice can you give

and luxurious scents. Find out which essential

people working on their own style?

products this hardworking boss has been developing:

AD: I worked in fashion for 10 years for companies

IMM: So what's your favorite part about your brand,

such as Perry Ellis, Jones of NY and Calvin Klein so

Avalah Beauty?

this is a great question! My style I would describe as

AD: My favorite part about my brand is the

casual, comfortable, approachable, tonal and basics

connections, networking and friends that I have made

with bold accessories. I am constantly on the go and I

along the way. The people that use my products are

need a style that can keep up with me, and for advice

very invested in the brand and want to see it do well. I

to others, I would tell people to work on a mood

love keeping up with my customers and hearing how

board. You can select either a celebrity or a few looks

much they love the product or that they gave the

that you are attracted to and then go after items that

product to a family member during a hard time.

match that vibe. Don't be afraid to take a few risks and you do not by any means have to follow the trends!

IMM: You also have products for men. How important was it to incorporate co-ed marketing into your

IMM: What beauty products have inspired you along


your entrepreneur journey?

AD: It is very important. We promote skin and hair care

AD: This is going to sound sappy but the beauty

products that are all natural and men need to be a part

products that inspired Avalah were homemade by my

of that journey. Women are constantly serviced in the

mom.... (continued on Page 15)

realm of beauty, to a point that most men believe they need little to no skin care products. It's time we even the playing field. IMM Magazine | 13

My mom is West Indian and growing up she was old school

Choose your circle wisely. Create a positive team of

about her products and made her own out of Shea Butter,

mentors that are supportive with your vision and your

Cocoa Butter, Jamaican Castor Oil etc. When I was a kid I

goals, and most importantly, treat yourself. Your free time

remember in the winter time, she would slather shea butter

is not free but you having a mental breakdown shuts down

on my face before letting me run to the school bus. She

the entire company.

always had an all natural remedy for every skin care issue. When I got older, I wanted to use what everyone else was

IMM: What is your advice for those just entering into the

using so I took my little first paycheck, went to Bed and Bath

beauty industry?

and bought their products. Needless to say my skin

AD: My advice for those entering into the beauty industry

definitely felt the difference. I was ashy faster, the scents

is to network, be patient and have great customer service.

were too strong and my skin lost its glow. I went right back

Networking is such a vital skill and is the difference

to what I knew.

between your next opportunity and your next BIG opportunity. Nobody ever believes that I am an introvert at

When I created Avalah it was because I wanted the luxury

heart but I put aside my social issues so that everyone I

feel of a Jo Malone, with all natural ingredients that I know

interact with gets the best and most personable version of

work and the scents of a grown and sexy spa. I was tired of


seeing shea butter bricks melted and put in random jars and containers throughout the house. I wanted to create a

It is ALSO important to be patient with the industry you

product that you can give to your boss as a present and it

want to be a part of. There are so many companies that

does not look cheap.

give incorrect information or sell harmful products. You have to earn your customers trust and that takes time. I

IMM: If you had a chance to have dinner with one celebrity,

find great pride when someone buys a product and sees me

who would it be and what would you ask them?

in the street or at another pop up and they go out of their

AD: If I had a chance to have dinner with one celebrity it

way to let me know they loved the item they purchased.

would be Lisa Price, the owner of Carol’s Daughter. We have many similarities such as we are both from Brooklyn and

IMM: You’ve been featured in a lot of magazines, including

making skin care was originally a side hustle turned full

InStyle, Cosmopolitan, and Sheen Magazine so you have a lot

blown business. I would ask knowing everything you know

of experience telling your story. What do you think makes

now, what would you do differently? What was the most

a compelling story?

important lesson you have learned on your journey? What

AD: We are all the main characters in the story of our lives.

was the hardest decision you have had to make for your

What makes life compelling is growth. It is the only thing


we all have in common and the ability to do. Whether you grew up in the projects or with a silver spoon in your

IMM: What important entrepreneur lessons have you

mouth, we can all strive to be better, build something

learned along the way?

greater and overcome our issues. My story is compelling

AD: There are so many lessons that I have learned on my

because I am a Brooklyn girl, who was raised in a single

entrepreneurial journey. Don’t expect everyone to “get it”


whether it be your ideas, the way you work, the hours you

entrepreneur.... (continued on Page 15).








put in, or the decisions you make.

IMM Magazine | 15

IMM Magazine | 16

I ended up in corporate fashion for 10 years, creating my own small business and hopefully bringing my community up with me. Why do we love Jay-Z, Barack Obama or Oprah so much? They were the underdogs turned big dogs. Every time you feel like you can’t do it, you are making an excuse. You can do it but what are you willing to do to execute your goals? Are you willing to lose friends and family to complete your vision? Are you willing to not be at every party, club or family gathering? Are you willing to be told that you can’t do it and then do it anyway? Can you hear the industry tell you no 30 times and criticize you but keep going? People love a

Soy wax and relax: The perfect present for cold weather.

good come up story and we love resilience. You only live once and whether you believe it or not you have nothing to lose. Write your life to be a compelling story. IMM: What's up next for Avalah Beauty? AD: The first year of Avalah I stayed up at night thinking I was crazy to start a business. In my second year, I was killing myself to work my full time job and work Avalah at the same time, basically two full time jobs. I worked every single day, mostly all day for a year. My third year, a pandemic happened and my business thrived and survived because everyone wanted to support Black Owned and local stores were closed. As I approach year four, I am confident in my

When Entrepreneurs Connect: Alexzandra with CEOs Jennifer Small (L) and Alyssa J. Francois (M).

business and am enjoying some of the fruits of my labor. Avalah is always looking for the next opportunity to grow and expand. We are looking into many possibilities such as an official brick and mortar, doing classes on product making and collaborating with larger brands and influencers. I would love to start creating my team of people that help Avalah to grow. Everyone tells me to get into Sephora, Nordstrom or Target but honestly that’s not the route for my brand so I just need to then figure out what is. I'm confident that I will. ***** And we are confident that you will too! To follow Avalah

Take Your Pick: Avalah Body butters, black soap, and essential oils. Wellness at its best.

Beauty, visit IMM Magazine | 17




to Host Your First Thanksgiving Are you a bundle of nerves due to We did a poll and asked our readers for you hosting Thanksgiving for the their Anxiety into hosting your first Thanksgiving is rising. Don't be scared out of your wits. Use these 6 tips to help you navigate Turkey Day with ease!





first time this year? Well, join the Thanksgiving dinner, and here are 6 club and wipe that sweat off your essentials, distilled from the most brow. Hosting and cooking this great frequent points we heard, that will suit American meal is a big milestone for you






a cook, but it also can be a HUGE Thanksgiving seems daunting, these 6 moment of some nail-biting anxiety essentials will make it less so. They’ll


and nerves. Well, our readers have show you how to get organized, stay


quite a lot of advice for you.

IMM Magazine | 18

calm, and enjoy Thanksgiving more than ever!

#1. Stick with Tradition

#4. Cook Ahead

Thanksgiving is not the time to switch things up or try

Make sure to cook what you can in the days in advance. You

something "new." Give the people what they want and

can prep the turkey the night before, so that you just have to

what they'll expect. That means don't serve tapioca-shrimp

place it in the oven in the morning. Mashed potatoes can be

pudding or cajun fried rice instead of turkey and stuffing.

made ahead of time and heated. And you can set the table and

Make it easy on yourself and stick to the basics, no matter

have all the serving dishes out and ready to go the night

how many Youtube videos you have to watch on basting a


turkey. #5. Call in the Reinforcements #2. Create the Right Ambience

Still feeling like you don't know what you're doing? Moms or

Get into the spirit of having a little decor. Create a festive

grandmothers come in handy at this stage. Also, there might

place for people to mingle and eat. Fall leaves or branches,

be relatives who will want to actually help you cook. If things

acorns, or cornucopias can be used to decorate your dining

get really bad, you can always call the Butterball Thanksgiving

room. You can prepare at the start of November or at least

hotline at 1-800-BUTTERBALL (yes, this is a real hotline and

in the week before the holiday.

we aren't just joking). The Butterball Web site also offers online chats that run periodically before Thanksgiving and

#3. Plan Ahead

turkey text messages.

Part of the reason hosts get stressed out on Thanksgiving is because they're unprepared and they wait until the last

#6. Remember the True Meaning of Thanksgiving

minute. Instead, you should choose your menu about one

The purpose of the holiday is to show gratitude for the bounty

month before the holiday. Write it out - from cocktails to

we have in our lives. Ask everyone to share for what they are

appetizers to dessert. Determine what ingredients you'll

thankful. Be the first to show your gratitude. You are the host

need and plan in advance.

of Thanksgiving, after all! >> IMM Magazine | 19


IMM Magazine | 20



INSPIRE. EMPOWER. ELEVATE. Those are the three

We also often think of materialistic things as being

defining pillars of Black Opulence Xperience, a

luxury. I want to grow a community where we break

premiere luxury lifestyle brand that celebrates Black

down those mindsets and learn to live our most

Excellence and all that is Black Culture. Behind the

authentic and real lives in a luxurious way – one that

brand is a powerhouse: mother, wife, and Marketing

is the normal. I also want to build a brand where we

and Communications Guru, LaToya Davis, who

host upscale and luxurious Xperiences for us to enjoy!

provides a platform and elevated environment for people of color to enjoy the luxuries of life while

IMM: What are some of your tricks to the trade when

connecting with one another. Find out what’s next in

it comes to managing a fulltime job, a brand, and a

store for LaToya and her curated brand below:

family? LD: Using a calendar/planner is a MUST. I have

IMM: What’s the story behind Black Opulence

several calendars – a work calendar, personal calendar

Xperience (BOX) and your brand?

and a family calendar (one that both me and husband

LD: I created BOX with inspiration from my love of

share) that way I can make sure I am where I need to

entertaining and black culture. I wanted to provide a

be when I need to be there. Teamwork is huge for me

platform and elevated environment for people of color

too. I’m grateful that I have an AMAZING partner as a

to enjoy the luxuries of life while connecting,

husband who helps keep the house/kids in check so

celebrating the culture, and enjoying unmatched

that I can do all that I do.

Xperiences. Taking elements of my life and what I consider #goals, I’m inspiring others through this

IMM: What would you say are some of the hardest

beautiful lifestyle brand.

challenges you’ve had to overcome growing up? LD: I grew up in a predominately white town – so that

IMM: What is the meaning behind your motto, “Luxury

within itself had it’s challenges. Having to explain

is a lifestyle, not a flex?”

myself and culture to friends and other kids/teachers

LD: So often times, when we think about luxury, we

was tough but grateful to my parents who made sure

think of it as something that is hard to attain and or

we had a sense of self, our culture and who we were.

something that we can only do on a case-by-case basis.

Although surrounded by white people for a majority.... (continued on Page 23) IMM Magazine | 21

At Home & At Peace: LaToya is all smiles as she's basking in the joy that surrounds her.

(Clockwise, from Left, Top, Right: LaToya showing love and appreciation to her King and "husbae" of six years; THE DAVIS UNIT: LaToya, herband Jonathan, and their two kids Jaxon (5) and Kaari (3); LaToya with her two lovebugs. Being a mom to these two is by far her favorite title. LD: (Continued from Page 21) of my life (1st grade – 12th)

IMM: Let's play a 10-second, rapid favorite game of mines.

between school and sports – that was a big chunk of life as a

List below, What's your favorite game, snack, song, tv show,

kid; my parents made sure all of our extra-curriculum

movie, icon?

activates were centered around the culture.

LD: Game: Taboo, Snack: Salt & Vinegar Chips (kettle Cooked) Song: that’s a hard one…Everything by Mary J. Blige, TV

IMM: Describe your style. What advice can you give people

Show: Power, Insecure, Billions (top 3) , Icon: Oprah.

working on their own style? LD: My style is sophisticated, sexy with a little edge (every

IMM: What type of advice would LaToya give to pre-

now and then). Here's a word of advice: Do you Boo! Wear

entrepreneur LaToya?

what you love – regardless of what others may say or think.

LD: Do it, even if scared. Don’t look back, just forward.

I’ve always been told – they’re going to talk about you so

Continue embracing all the luxury and beauty that is the

give them something “good” to talk about. Keep it classy &

culture. Continue to make spaces and places for US.

cute, always but rock your style! IMM: What’s up next for BOX? IMM: What does it mean to you to be 100% authentic?

LD: Just launched our Signature curated BOXes. They’re

LD: I only know one way – and that’s to be ME. It means not

meant to be an extension of our Xperiences and something

changing who you are based on who you’re around and or

that one can buy to help them create/curate their own at-

what’s convenient. Being 100% authentic means – you will

home Xperience. ***

get this LaToya every day of the week, 365. I’ve grown to love who I am and embrace that.

IMM Magazine | 23

The official logo of Black Excellence: Black Opulence Xperience. To stay tuned for their events, visit


We want to feature you!

Go to our website at to submit your brand and you'll be featured in an upcoming issue of IMM Magazine.



Got a brand new business idea? Indeed,

The fact of the matter is you will have

and you can’t wait to share that news

some people who voluntarily choose

with those closest to you. We all have

not to support you because they’re not

that one person we can't wait to text or

interested in the entrepreneur lifestyle.


call and gab about our new business

What works for you, doesn’t always


ideas and accomplishments with. But

work for everyone else. It’s important

what happens when the one closest to

to understand who you are in a close

you is not as “hype” about your

friendship with, know their habits and

newfound business idea….as you are?

their ways, and understand that they

Don't stress. It's actually more common

don’t always have to connect with you

than not.

on a creative level.

IMM Magazine | 26

“The entrepreneur life is a preference, and may not be for everyone.”

The entrepreneur lifestyle is a preference, and it may not be for everyone. So if you’re running off at the mouth on creating a social media content calendar, trying to find out if you should register as an LLC or Corporate Partnership, and just can’t wait to attend one of those Ronne Brown DC-networking events, and your friend only wants to talk about who pissed her off at work that day, recognize the disconnect and don’t take it as a diss. Just know that you come from two completely different playing fields.

Here are a few other things to consider: What is your friend doing to not be supportive? Is she rolling her eyes every time you bring your business up? Is she knowingly changing the subject, or cutting you off? Is she occasionally throwing passive-aggressive snarky remarks? If so, then it’s time to address the situation not by flying off the handle, but in a grown woman, one on one type of conversation-kind of way. Let her know how you feel, but also understand that real friends should not be patronizing you or belittling your dreams in the first place. Know that jealousy is a real thing, and the fastest way to lose friends is by opening up a business, and seeing who is there for you in the long run. Trust me, once you get a creative idea and actually run with it, I mean really run with it, your supportive circle can get smaller and smaller. If you are in this situation, don’t fret. Take it as life having its seasons and maybe your friendship with someone who is jealous and unsupportive is over (should have been over!) Learn how to build your brand with other like-minded individuals who share your same values, attend some networking events, follow relevant hashtags, exchange your contact info with another entrepreneur for a possible collab opportunity, browse Instagram groups and see who’s doing what in your area, and who’s under the same industry as you. What can start off as a cup of coffee can end up being a positive budding friendship, or what’s better, a business partnership.

IMM Magazine | 27

Be good to yourself, mind, body & soul.



The Steps to Making Your Brand Official Written by Derek Hough

IMM Magazine | 29

"Always consider your branding when communicating with customers."

3. Be innovative, bold and daring - stand for

We all want to be entrepreneurs, but do we

4. Consider what is driving your business

have what it takes to birth this baby? Apart

Ask yourself a few pressing questions: What

from not working a 9-5, managing our own

does it believe in, what is its purpose and

day to day schedule, and reaping the

who are its brand heroes? These things can

benefits of a few tax write offs, we must pay

help establish your brand personality and

our dues before waging the creation of a

inform the identity and character for brand

business. Here are five tips on how to


something you believe in Big brands are encumbered by large layers of bureaucracy, preventing them from being flexible and reacting to the ever-changing needs of their customers. Those layers of decision-makers can make it hard for them to be daring with their branding.

successfully implement branding for your business.

5. Always consider your branding when communicating with customers

1. Start by defining your brand

Try offering more, rather than slashing

Do you know who you are? If not, spend a

prices. Do a couple of discounts. Do a couple

few brainstorming sessions figuring it out.

of raffles. Promotions are an opportunity to

Your brand character should promote your

reinforce your brand mission, and treat your

business, connect with your customer base

customers with that TLC they can all

and differentiate you in the market.


2. Do not copy the look of chains or big brands Now that you've gotten a sense of your identity, try not to copy and rip off images from big brands or chains. Remember, there is no such thing as an original idea! The best ideas are made from your own, and getting inspiration from others and putting a twist on it.

IMM Magazine | 30











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HOW TO UPGRADE YOUR SOCIAL SKILLS THE ART OF STAYING CONNECTED Long gone are the days of handwritten letters. Step up your social skills with these easy tips.

When was the last time you

opportunities within your city,

expanded your OUTER circle? A

whether if it's through joining a

part of building your brand is, or Instagram,

networking, as it is one of the

that can expand your little, black

most crucial skills any startup

business book. Check out these

entrepreneur can have. How else

five tips when networking and

will you meet the key clients and

you'll be on on your way to

contacts necessary to grow your

upgrading your outer circle, and

business? Take a few moments to

your social skills, in no time.


brush up on your business cards


and look for a few networking

IMM Magazine | 33

1. Set a goal to meet five or more new people at each event,

Other ways of upgrading your social circle can include:

and follow up. Remember, deals don't get made by just saying "Hi." Follow up personally by sending an email, text,

1. Participating in your local, small business community

or call.


2. Try one or two new linkup groups per month. Bounce

2. Reaching out to former connections. Leave yourself open

around until you find a circle of people that reflect your

to be introduced to new circles by old friends.

interests, or other creative industries you are interested in. 3. Become a resource on social media (A great way to do this 3. Carry your business cards everywhere you go. Yeah, it's

is by holding interviews and highlighting other local

2020, but there's nothing like having something tangible!

entrepreneurs on your platform who are working in your same line of business).

4. Don't be afraid to be an extrovert! Technology has afforded us so many benefits, that we barely want to hold

4. Do some basic press outreach. Also keep in mind, a strong

decent conversations with people anymore. Step out of your

professional network can help you achieve things that you'd

tech bubble and spark up interesting conversations. You

never accomplish on your own. Now go forth and do great

never know what could lead to a collaboration opportunity,

things! >>

or your next business partner! 5. Don't sit by people you know at networking opportunities. Take a chance and begin a brand new conversation with a complete stranger. Sounds bold, huh? That's because, IT IS!

IMM Magazine | 34

6 Tips How To Grow Your Brand Develop your unique brand voice. Build a consistent social media presence. Offer your product to on a guest blog. Devote yourself to customer service. Get to know your target personas. Start a blog — And keep it updated.







Font Style Headers: Argent

Body: Montserrat Classic

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Design Inspo

Rest your body the yafana spa way.



Her Community



IMM Magazine | 38

Entrepreneurs (L to R) Alyssa J. Francois, Jennifer Small, and Alexzandra Denis at the Back To Basics: The Business Edition event.

YA GIRL IS BACK! And we are more than happy to

The Small Business Suite, in collaboration with 333 Lounge

catch up with her as she continues to recreate her

& J Small Services located in Brooklyn New York. The

community. As Founder and CEO of HerCollectively,

weekly pop-up shop with a full brunch menu, serves as a

LLC., Shenea concentrates on forming bonds that are unbreakable so that women can embrace who they are authentically. She graced the cover of last year's

launching pad for passionate owners to network, prospect, and promote their business while keeping their existing base engaged in their product or service. The Small Business Suite is open to the public on Saturdays & Sundays from 1 pm-5

Holiday issue, and since we love her so much, we

pm EST. I have taken on the role of being a Co-Curator

brought her back to see how she continues to make

where I get to curate the lineup of business owners that are

space for her greatness. Find out what drives this CEO

highlighted for our pop-up shop experience.

woman of God below: IMM: What has “Creating Her Community” looked like for IMM: Welcome BACKKKK! How has your brand grown in

you in 2021?

the last year since you were last featured on IMM in 2020?

SB: It has looked like being consistent, engaging and

SB: First of all, I cannot believe we are almost a year away

authentic. Building/Curating this community has not been

from when I was featured! It really feels like yesterday. But

easy. It is the willingness to continue to show up for yourself

then again so much has changed and the growth has been

even on the days you don't feel like it. I am now in the

exponential. Since February 2021, I have been a part of an

process of vetting people to help my business have a

initiative shout out to my friend Jennifer Small of J. Small

foundation, i.e. accountant , social media assistant, business

Services, called the 333 Small Business Suite.

strategist etc. IMM Magazine | 39

IMM: What were some of your top moments from this year

Taking the "A Seat At The Table" series and making it an

and what kind of collaborations have you made?

event experience in person has also been rewarding. In

SB: In April, I collaborated with Janell Sewell-Lowers and

August 2021, in collaboration with the 333 Lounge and J.

Adrian Lowers, founders of the Faithology brand to create a

Small Services, I had the opportunity to have an interview

hoodie called "A Tribe Called Blessed." The reason behind

live and direct with Ashlee Muhammad, founder of

the hoodie was to highlight being apart of a tribe that is

BeEyeconic, LLC and co-founder of Happily Every

blessed; that God has given us favor to have a village that

Muhammad, a fragrance brand created with her husband.

always supports, loves us, and empowers us unconditionally.

Having the opportunity to share the with others off line

Within hours of its release, it was sold out! We were so

was truly an experience. As a result, I am looking to have

amazed and touched by the support, we had to run it back in

more "in person" A Seat At Her Table events. I would like

the color cream (original hoodies were green)! That did well

to do this on a bi-monthly basis. I enjoy making space for


our people and always ensuring they have a seat at my table.

In May 2021, I collaborated with three phenomenal women; Sara Trowers, Sharifa James and Tisa Wright on an event

About two weeks ago, myself and Kyra Rackley, founder of

titled, The Miseducation of Black Women: Maternal Health

Public Eye and a member of the HerBookClub curated an

Awareness Event." The goal was to gather black women

event titled, Back to Basics, the Business Edition. We

health practitioners to have a real conversation around the

spotlighted three women in business: Jennifer Small,

maternal health crisis that is plaguing our black women. We

Alexzandra Denis and Alyssa Francois. We created an

curated "thank you" boxes with products for all the

intimate, panel discussion with these ladies to discuss the

attendees created by black women. We were very

basics of business, wellness and balance.

intentional about the items in the box and women received products such as candles, journals, sunglasses, tea, and so much more. We recognized the importance of not only addressing the systemic inequities, but also the importance of education and establishing agency over women’s bodies and autonomy over their health care decisions.

IMM Magazine | 40

Shenea with friends at a winery in PA.

IMM: You’re a spiritual person that has a relationship with God. If you were writing a love letter to God right now, what would it say? SB: "You make plans, God Laughs." God, I can't thank You enough for what You've given me that I didn't know I needed. When you give God the glory and allow Him to work, there are beautiful things that will happen. He will align you with the right people, right resources and the right community to make the impossible, possible. IMM: What’s up next for you? SB: Launching my podcast, A Seat At Her Table. It is important for me to expand my community while amplifying the voice of individuals in my community, especially my women of color. I am Collaborating with another beautiful woman, Anjelica of "Still Becoming" to bring forth a wellness retreat March of 2022. I am continuing to work on spotlighting more businesses to be a part of the pop-up shop experience with the 333 Small Business Suite located in Brooklyn, NY! As always, I'm curating more events and I'm continuing to take HerCollectively higher! *** Support "A Tribe Called Blessed" - Shenea celebrates a collab effort with Christian faith brand, Faithology entrepreneurs, Janel Lowers and husband, Adrian Lowers





visiting, and follow Shenea on her Instagram handle: @HerCollectively.

IMM Magazine | 41



Has your logo and branding been professionally designed with strategy and the future in mind?

Are you proud of your new logo and branding design? Will you be happy putting it out into the world?

Do you have a style guide to use moving forward to ensure you continue to create consistent on-brand designs?

Are you using the same colours and fonts throughout all platforms for your brand including online and offline?

Have you trademarked your logo and/or business name? This isn't mandatory but is something to consider.








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An outfit that would make the most novice person look professional would indeed be a classic, fitted suit. Think pieces that make a bold statement, shouting "I'm open for a business partner or that next collaboration." Below are a variety of business suits that would fit any entrepreneur's budget and is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. Here are five business suits that are professional, savvy, and would leave you with enough money to invest in other projects, and get yourself a cocktail at a networking event while you're at it!





E. A. BOOHOO Women's Crepe Fitted Suit - Yellow. Wrap up in the latest coats and jackets and get out-there with your outerwear. Breathe life into your new season, layering with the latest coats and jackets from BooHoo. Supersize your silhouette in a padded jacket, stick to sporty styling with a bomber, or protect yourself from the elements in a plastic raincoat. For a more luxe layering piece, faux fur coats come in fondant shades and longline duster coats give your look an androgynous edge. Price: $34.00

B. Shein, Black and White Elegant Long Sleeve Striped Fabric has some stretch Spring/Fall Twopiece Outfits. Sleeve Length: Long Sleeve: Price: $23.00

C. Venus Fashion, Pants- Approximate jacket length: 24.75"; varies by size Pants have button and zip closure is fully lined 33" in seam. Price: $64.00 IMM Magazine | 44

D. MACY'S Slanted front pockets, a sleek tailored cut and slick sharkskin tone exude sophisticated modern style on this Kenneth Cole Reaction suit while its Techni-Cole fabric offers stretch comfort you can enjoy all day. Price: $99.00 E. MACY'S Streamline your sophisticated look with the sleek slim fit and stylish flex stretch suits from Van Heusen. Price: $79.00

Navigating Brands & Besties WEDS, NOV. 10, 2021 8:00PM EST - ONLINE Are you having an issue with friends who aren't supporting your brand? Do you want to maintain healthy relationships as an entrepreneur?

Zoom Q&A

Come join us for an open discussion as we discuss navigating friendships as boss babes!

Hosted by:

Co-Host: "I'm having an event tomorrow, and she hasn't even asked me about it yet!"

"How do I build my brand with other like-minded individuals?"

Matia Johnson-Buggs

Enjoli "Enji" Lauderdale

CEO, Innovative Minds Media (IMM)

CEO, Aye Yo Sis!

Scan the code to register for Navigating Brands + Besties!

IMM Magazine | 45


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Social media. Marketing. Branding.

rotavonnI ytuaeB Brand Curator We understand the plunge towards entrepreneurship doesn't happen overnight. Visit us at for your top branding and boss tips.