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WHERE THE LAUGHS AT? Rochester Woman Online is ecstatic to announce Yolanda Smilez is joining the team for our special section “ Sumthin 4 DA Sistas”. You might know Yolanda from hosting events in Rochester, or you saw her on the stage tickling your funny bone, or even at the ROC Awards or Ms. Kurvie North. Life is too crazy not to have a sense of humor.

the next five years; her hopes are set on her debut on HBO, Netflix, and/or Def Jam doing a comedy special. Yolanda faced many challenges breaking through as a comic as it is a male-dominated field. Finding her voice, inspired her and allowed her to gain confidence in her craft. Confidence is the key. Yolanda is also a new author. This experience is definitely something different

Yolanda shares that “Humor plays a big factor in my day-to-day life. Comedy comes from life and what other great place to get inspiration from than the things around you? It definitely helps me to not be serious all the time and provides a balance in my life”. Yolanda gained her inspiration to get started from a fellow comedian, Rob Campbell. Rob as a personal friend, provided support and empowerment by pushing Yolanda out of her comfort zone to get up on the stage. He encouraged her to do an “Open Mic” sponsored by Grace Flores. It was the hottest night in the Roc on a Wednesday! Rob told Yolanda she was “naturally funny” and should give stand up comedy a try. From the first moment she grabbed the mic she fell in love with making people laugh. The rest is history!!! Yolanda shares for people interested in being a comic saying, “Know why you are doing comedy. This will help you find the best material for your set. It’s easy to make fun of yourself and things you are familiar with.”. Yolanda strives to achieve greatness in 70

Anderson. She is proud of her work here giving plus-sized women an outlet to show the world they are beautiful. This platform was created to encourage women they have the power to do all things. This is an annual pageant held in the Rochester area. The women are planning to expand the pageant nationally in the near future. Additionally, Yolanda is the CEO of the Roc Awards. This is an annual local awards show. Rochester people are recognized for their accomplishments. It is held in February, so it is coming up soon. I wonder who will win this year? Some of the categories recognized are best model, dj, hip hop artist etc. She says, “I create platforms to acknowledge and encourage our communities to always do better. I, despite ups-and-downs keep pushing and I never lose sight of why I started this movement. I will continue with my projects and comedy and I will spread as many smilez as I can”.

for her and she refers to it as “a learning experience”. Her book, “Big Mama is the new Trap Queen”, is an urban fiction novel, focusing on the life of a dysfunctional family who sells drugs but goes to church. It is an interesting story told in the view of Charmaine, a 12-year-old. The story line follows whether it is “in her blood” to hustle and what someone else’s dysfunction was her normal. Smilez also is the co-founder of the Ms. Kurvie Pageant along with Latiffany


Yolanda is the proud mother of three children. Her children are her inspiration in life. The foundation of her work ethic is focused here. Yolanda works hard to create as many opportunities as she can for her family. She looks forward to leaving a legacy. Yolanda is pleased to be writing her new column “I Love Smilez” with RWO. She will explore the concept of laughter vs. pain in her first article. Readers can expect her column to bring laughter, joy, uplifting encouragement and guidance for everyday life!








Welcome to the initial, “I Love Smilez” column, by your local comedian, that’s me, Yolanda Smilez! My goal with writing this column is to make you smile by the end of every read. I hope that here, you will find you can smile, even when things in your life are not going right. Keep this in mind, “No matter what you been or going through, you will smile again”. It’s a known fact, smiling gives power and energy to the human soul. We must try to always remember this.

My life began to spin in circles, as if I was on a merry-go-round that was at high speed. The first words that came out my mouth were,” Is everyone ok”? To hear, “Yes, we are all fine, but we lost everything” let me breathe, knowing my family was safe. Arriving to the place, I once called home to water damage, smoke, and busted windows, it

Start with protecting your energy! Stop feeding into the old negative energy. When you allow yourself to feed into the negative energy, it will prevent you from up lifting or pushing your life forward. Don’t hold on to disagreements, fights, or disappointments you experienced. Holding on to these things, takes away the energy from your vision, and goals. Let it go! Tell yourself, “I’m taking back my smile, I will wear it every day. I will not allow others to come take my smile away. My smile is no longer in bondage! It’s free! I’m a survivor! My smile is powerful! In January 2015, my family and I will never forget, we lost everything a house fire. My middle son ran in the room to warn his step father there was smoke coming from the kitchen door. This door led to our attic and within seconds of my son warning him, his step dad discovered a blazing fire. The fire began to take over the entire kitchen. He grabbed our youngest son and took both kids outside. That night we lost everything. Receiving the phone call my house caught on fire, right after just making a crowd of people laugh their butts off, because I’m a stand-up comedian was devastating.

I’m standing there, waiting for the realtor to say, “April Fools”, it sold to someone else. Now, I went from shedding tears over the 3 bedroom, upper apartment with small kitchen , tiny bathroom and small bedrooms that burned to the ground, to now shedding tears over a whole house , 3 bedroom with walk-in closet, two bathrooms, attached one car garage , beautiful neighborhood, kitchen so big to host all the holiday parties. Months ago, when I thought I could not smile again. I was able to smile again, we found a fresh start. If we stay on the things we lost, we can never enjoy the new. I had to redirect my energy to focus on living for now and not yesterday. Not giving the fire no more tears or energy but pouring the energy into decorating my new home and creating new memories for my children. “No matter what you been or going through, you will smile again” Smilez Joke of The Month:

was heartbreaking. It destroyed me because everything we had worked for was gone. My kids’ trophies, awards, wedding pictures, our clothes all just gone. I could not see the bright side of this tragedy. As a mom, I felt like a failure. We had nowhere to go, until a friend of mine opened the doors to her home. We stayed there almost 3 months in a one bedroom. Trying to find a home for our family was so hard. On April 1st, I found the home my family could grow up in. I thought it was funny to find a house on April Fool’s day.

My son, Wesley, is 6-years-old and speaks very proper. He gets confused a lot with questions. If someone asked him, “What’s your name?” He responded, “I am Wesley”, If someone asked him, “How old are you, Wesley? He responded, “I am Wesley”. Then the person said to Wesley, “No, no baby, how old are you?” And he still responded, “I am Wesley”. At this point, I usually walk away because the person is looking at me like, “Girllllllll !!! What’s wrong with this baby?”…




RENEE COBBS-HILL SHE SAID I DO Rochester Woman Online is proud to announce Renee Cobbs-Hill as a new writer for the “Sumthin For The Sistas” special section launching in January. Her new column is called “Marriage Chronicles”. Making it through almost 18 years of marriage, is a huge accomplishment today and we can’t wait to learn how in the world she did that!!! I’m hoping she shares some of her other talents too. You may recognize Renee from our runway. She recently competed in the Ms. Kurvie Pageant. I’m sure the fact she can cook, helped her maintain her home! Recently in the Roc’s “Bake Off” her entries “Hennessey” infused cake and cupcakes, among others were exceptionally interesting and took home winning the competition for three categories. Mother, esthetician, singer, actress, these are all words which describe Renee Cobbs-Hill, a phenomenally talented woman. In January, she will add monthly columnist and we just can’t wait! Renee grew up always interested in make-up. Upon entering beauty school at Continental, she learned her interests were deeper than just being a make-up artist. She was fascinated with learning about all of the aspects of skin care. She is currently training at Titus Medical Spa to work in this industry. She has an Associates degree in Medical Assisting and a BS in Sociology. She currently works as a workforce navigator. She was the daughter of parents who were entrepreneurs, and this instilled in her a thirst for success in her life. Her interests in singing and baking came 76

along early in life. She started singing at age 3. She sang in school choirs and competed in solo festivals. She trained with a music professor at Eastman School of Music, studying classical music. She also majored in music in high school. She believes in education as the key to success. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Cooking began early for Renee

and she recalls playing in flour and sugar, as a youth. She loved reading cooking books and trying new things. Her favorite baking creation is red velvet cake! As a woman who refuses to give up, Renee struggled to learn how to live life as a married woman who married early in


life. She also attended college throughout her twenties to better herself and the life she could share with her family. She was tired of being in jobs going nowhere. She experienced having a terrible supervisor and that was it for her. She went back to school. It took her 5 years to earn her bachelor’s degree, but she did it. She shares, “I wasn’t supposed to have a bachelor’s degree. At least the text books said I wasn’t. I was supposed to stay on welfare and section 8. I read my life in a text book every day. Through it all, I found my strength and talents. Talents I always had, but my low socio-economic status made those talents dormant”. Renee comes from a family where marriage is celebrated, and her parents are married nearly 50 years. Her siblings also enjoyed longevity in their relationships, so this factor was instilled in the home. Her close to 18-year marriage endured all of the common things which traditionally destroy relationships, including infidelities, a Baby Momma with three children who she serves as the step mother, arguments, and tears. Renee chose to bring some of her experiences to our readers to show that sometimes love can conquer all and sometimes it does not. Many people don’t know Renee is married. The couple does not wear rings anymore. They are married based on their marriage license. She will share the ups-and downs. She will share her struggles with you in her new column.









It’s interesting how it all happened. Let’s flashback to 2000 “the millennium”, when everyone was going crafty over Y2K and everything was just a mash up of pop cultures. Back then, I thought I was grown. I was out of high school and experienced living on my own for a little while. I drove a little hooptie and worked at the Sodus Recreation Center. I thought I was doing the damn thang! Ms. Independent, you know.

running to the bird (City of Rochester) to chill. In the city, the love was different. The black boys dressed a little different, talked a little different, and appreciated black girls. I could remember in my junior and senior year, my friends and I going to the city to chill. Most of us had older sisters so we would either

At least I thought I was. If you’re not from the area, Sodus is a small rural area out 104. It is a town known for migrant farm workers who pick apples. So, basically, I was drowning up in rural Sodus/ Williamson and dating and relationships was dry for black girls. Interracial dating was super prevalent in my town. Let me outline the way it was: white girl, black boy. There literally was a shortage of black boys to kick it with. I’m not sure of what caused the trend of the black boy/ white girl relationships, but it hit like a plague. I remember when every black boy in school was going out (that’s what we called dating in school) with a white girl. It was if It was like a goal or accomplishment for a black boy to date a white girl. Even my brother started dating his wife of 20 years, when he was fifteen-yearsold, who is white. So great now the guys were becoming an endangered species for us. The uneven ratio left black girls

use one of their cars, or some of us had cars. I can remember my sister letting us use her car. I would drop her off at her baby daddy’s house on Magnolia and we would ride out. Pagers and pay phones were the things back then. We would page boys we met on the chatline and meet up at the playground or a parking lot to just chill. We always traveled in a pack though.

Speeding things up a little, to how he and I met. It was the fall of 2000, and my homegirls and I were riding around on the Eastside. We stopped at the A-1 corner store on Clifford and Clinton. I was walking into the store with my girls and he was walking out with his crew. Now, usually I don’t approach guys, but that night I was like “what sup?” He was fly...rocking a leather coat, Tims, little brush cut, and just seemed like a nice guy. He wasn’t talking reckless, so I gave him the number. However, he got my fake name “Alexis” lol. He was calling my house and I had no idea because my dad was telling him “No Alexis lives here”. I was chilling with my girls again and met him at the same store about 2 weeks later. He saw me and said something like, “Why you gave me the wrong number?” We laughed, and I came clean about giving him the wrong name/right number. So, we talked for a while at the store and I wanted to chill with him longer. However, he had an unorthodox profession and didn’t want to bring me over to the “spot”. He said normally he would bring chicks to the spot, but he said I was different. I didn’t see him for a while after that. We spent every late night on the phone. Finally, he invited me over to his place, he lived with his brother and mom. I brought my girls with me, because I was at this point,



{ THE MARRIAGE CHRONICLES } “It felt so surreal walking out of City Hall being married, I was someone’s wife. So, my marriage was secret for 3 months...”

To make a long story short, we started a relationship. We dated for 2 months and I found out I was pregnant. Once day, we were walking downtown, and we had talked about marriage before and it came up again, while we were walking. We walked past City Hall and he was like “That’s where you can get married”. I was like, “You want to do it?” He was like “Do you want to do it?” 80

So, we decided, “Let’s just do it”. We walked in and applied for our marriage license and set a day to come back. He never really asked me to marry him. It was just a mutual thing. I’m not even sure, if we were really deeply in love with each other, or if it was infatuation. I remember calling off from work and meeting him at City Hall for our wedding. We dressed up in business, casual type


clothing. He came with his younger brother. I came with one of my best friends and we said, “I do”. It felt so surreal walking out of City Hall being married, I was someone’s wife. So, my marriage was secret for 3 months....Tune in for the next chapter next month in “ The Marriage Chronicles”.





DR. KIKI MICHELLE SINGLETARY-WILLIAMS LEAVING ON THAT MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GEORGIA As Rochester Woman Online announces our new section, “ Something 4 The Sistas” we are proud to announce that we have added writers who are around the country and not just from our area. Dr. Kiki Michelle, a Rochester native, is straight out of Atlanta, Georgia. Her husband Mr. Carlyle is also joining the team. We are too excited to share a little bit of their world with you. Dr. Kiki Michelle is an early childhood education trainer and operates a childcare operation at Kiki Michelle LLC. She provides business services and is also a notary. Additionally, she’s an American Red Cross certified instructor. She provides counseling services. She’s involved with Quantum Talks 8.0 and runs a not-forprofit CARKI GLOBAL which benefits homeless children. She is a singer/writer/recording artist, a model and a motivational speaker. When I say she does a little bit of everything, I am not lying. We are more than pleased that she is coming on board to join the RWO family! Dr Kiki Michelle states“Education is the cornerstone of being able to accomplish anything in life. Success as an entrepreneur is attainable once a person takes the time to study their target market and develops a plan to reach attainable goals. Children are our most prized possessions and if one child is hungry, homeless or otherwise abused that’s one child too many. I wish to change the world one heart and one child at a time”. 82

Dr. Kiki Michelle tells us she started out singing at an early age, just merely 5-yearsold in the Sunshine Band. She then joined chorus in high school. All the while, she enjoyed also writing poems. One day the poems started becoming songs, coming to her with tunes, tones, melodies, instruments and accompaniments. Despite all of the endeavors Dr. Kiki Michelle

Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman”, as well as model as an Ashley Stewart, plussized model. Best advice for newcomers, be yourself and follow directions! Balance is also important, especially when two members of the family are in the entertainment business. This is very challenging. You must include “me time’. Setting healthy boundaries and keeping first-things-first, allowed me to embrace balance in every aspect of my being.”. Life was challenging at times,when trying to complete her education and learning how to deal with life. Dr. Kiki Michelle shares with us the knowledge to overcoming obstacles is to have a consistent prayer life and never sit there helpless. You must always find a way to keep going and find alternative ways to beat the odds. The most significant person in Dr. Kiki Michelle’s life is Jesus Christ.

has in her life, she is also a model who loves the fashion industry. She shares, “An affinity to fashion was always in me. I yearned to create my own looks, even in high school. In my school’s group picture, I had a giant-sized red bow in my hair. More recently, my modeling career started in 2014, with being invited to model in and sing at the Durnham, NC Fashion week show. I was excited to sing


She tells us, “While it may sound like a cliché, it’s true, without God I am nothing. In the next five years, I hope to be staples in the international market. Charity is also a very important part of my life. This goes back, as long as I can remember. I always volunteered at nursing homes to sing and sit with residents who were otherwise forgotten by their families. As I matured into my calling, I have donated cars, furniture, food , clothing and basic necessities to others as a philanthropist would”, Dr. Kiki Michelle, indicates her upcoming column is sure to bring awareness to certain issues in a multi-level dimensional perspective. So, stay tuned!









An Excerpt From Dr. Singletary-Williams’ Dissertation on Counselor Burnout & Compassion Fatigue The hope to prevent counselor burnout and compassion fatigue is found in the counselors’ ability to pay attention to their own symptoms, and research suggests proper self-care by the counselor is mandatory. Proper self-care could prevent the stress, fatigue, low tolerance, etc., which might accompany counselor burnout and compassion fatigue. While there is no one-size-fits-all for the best way counselors could care for themselves, the governing council of the American Counseling Association established a Task Force in Impaired Counselors, which have pointed to positive results when counselors are proactive (Lawson & Venart, 2003). A key to becoming proactive has helped counselors of varying backgrounds. Whether the client is new to the field or a veteran, exercising balance could help to prevent the symptoms, which commonly exist when burnout and compassion fatigue are present. Balance could be achieved by exercising, practicing meditation, going on vacation, and dedicating time to family (Lawson & Venart, 2003). Burnout and compassion fatigue do not tend to occur in 26

counselors who have a wellness approach to their personal lives, and self-care for counselors has to be a priority. The benefits of self-care, which the counselor could expect to enjoy, are clarity of thought, more attention to the needs of the client,

and better satisfaction with contributions to the counseling field. It would appear that the key to keeping burnout at bay is to have a positive attitude no matter where pastoral counselors believe their contribution to the field of counseling

measures compared to other counselors in the field (Holifield, et al., 2010). Counselors should never make extraordinary sacrifices of themselves to assist others (Skovholt, et al., 2011), and self-preservation is a concept in making sure one’s needs are met before attending to the needs of others. By definition, self-preservation is “preservation of oneself from destruction or harm; or a natural or instinctive tendency to act so as to preserve one’s own existence” (MerriamWebster, 2017). Self-care involves an adjustment in the attitude of the counselor. The focus must involve an introspective approach toward promoting a “survival of the fittest” mentality. If counselors previously have put others first always, they could find it difficult to begin to meet their own needs. Studies conducted by licensed professional counselor, Rebecca Baum, with various professions have revealed several strategies to promote well-being and decrease the potentially harmful effects that might accompany a stressful career. The strategies include listening, giving permission to experience the emotions, and also setting clear boundaries. Baum also suggests that counselors look for the signs of not practicing self-care, such as chronic lateness or absence to work, low motivation or an increase in errors, overwork, avoidance of responsibilities, conflict at work and in personal relationships, and a low self image.



{ DR KIKI SPEAKS } “Self-care involves an adjustment in the attitude of the counselor. The focus must involve an introspective approach toward promoting a “survival of the fittest” mentality.”

Research suggests that one way for early career counselors to help reduce burnout is to seek the assistance of a mentor who could help through the brutal effects of dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis that often occur. Mentors have the knowledge and wisdom to coach others through new tasks and new professions; hence, effective mentorship could play a critical role in professional growth and development. Successful mentors take protégés under their wings for guidance, inspiration, and encouragement and in the process they create motivated, 86

productive, and successful teachers and researchers, thus leaving a legacy. Mentorship could assist the counselors who might need additional support to avoid some of the hazards associated with being a counselor. Holified, et al., (2010). using SelfMonitoring to Increase Attending to Task and Academic Accuracy in Children with Autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabliites, 25(4), 230-238.


Lawson, G. and Venart, B. (2003). Preventing Counselor Impairment; Vulnerability, Wellness and Resilence. Self-Preservation. 2017. In MerriamWebster.com. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/ dictionary/self-preservation. Skovott, T.M. and Trotter-mathison, M. (2011). The Resilient Practitioner “Burnout Prevention & Self-Care Strategies for Counselors, Therapists, Teachers, And Health Professionals.” 2nd Edition.


MR. CARLYLE E. WILLIAMS LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION Rochester Woman Online is pleased to welcome Carlyle E. Williams as a contributing columnists to the new section, “ Sumthin 4 da Sistas”. He is coming to us straight from Atlanta , Georgia and like his wife Dr. Kiki Michelle Singletary-Williams is a jack of all trades. He is an awardwinning fashion designer of the Mr. Carlyle Collection which is featured in several fashion magazines. He’s an actor, a philanthropist a casting director and so much more. We are ecstatic he will be gracing the pages of RWO with his column “In Style with Mr. Carlyle”. We look forward to sharing with you the many aspects of the Williams’ lives and their world of fashion. Mr. Carlyle was raised in a closeknit family. He was 1 of 6 children. Each child was blessed with Godgiven talents. Their home was built by their grandfather. The family loved being close and supportive of each other. As a child, Mr.Carlyle watched and learned things from his grandparents. Entrepreneurship and empowerment was taught to him at a very young age. His grandmother quilted, sewed as a millinery and owned her own hair salon. Mr. Carlyle learned the art of sewing by watching his grandmother. She told him he had a “third eye” and was blessed with a talent. He also began drawing at an early age and making things by hand. Mixing and matching outfits was one of his favorite things. He began doing patchwork designing. He would take a solid or flannel shirt and remove the collars. He would then 88

make a banded collar. This was before they became popular. He never threw away clothing. He just reinvented them. Through this exposure, he grew his love for fashion and understanding the details of fashion design. By enrolling in DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) he began developing his quest for skills in management and salesmanship. He was always ahead of his time and continues

a building that also had a rock and country station, on the 6th floor also gave me an opportunity to meet and network with many artists when they came to town. Naturally they loved my collection because we had many different looks. My shop “All About Tuxedos” was also located right next to the Procter and Gamble headquarters. So many people flew in to do business there and experienced airlines losing their luggage leaving these business men with no suit to wear to their meetings. This started my idea of “renting a suit”. Customers could rent a coat, pants, dress shirt and tie with shoes within an hour. Same day service!” Mr. Carlyle shares being able to reinvent yourself is a blessing which will keep you energized. He gains his inspiration from God. He loves to help models build their brands. He also directs them and provides a platform where they can showcase their talent. Being a mentor is an important part of his life.

this through his fashions. Carlyle shares, “My family was in the music, hair and fashion industry for 70 plus years. Being around stars in the entertainment industry gave me an opportunity to learn from the best. Having a tuxedo business in the downtown Cincinnati area also opened doors to working with the film commission, playhouses and the orchestra. Having a store located on the ground floor in


Mr. Carlyle indicates, “It is all about who you know. I have loved every minute of being in the entertainment industry. You get to meet great people and continue to network. Networking is key. This provides an outlet to keep sharing your work and leads you to further connections. I love to give back. We often work with our church. I am the co-founder of CARKI Global Inc. a foundation which always gives to homeless children”. So definitely, stay tuned. We can’t wait to wow you with the Mr. Carlyle Collection and more!


mr carlyle









important for business or for making a power move. Use a conservative look for interviews and corporate meetings to help you climb the ladder to success.

A palette is an artist’s board for mixing colors. Do you have a color chart that you should go by? Should you have a specialist to color your wardrobe? How do you get more mileage out of your wardrobe? These are just some of the questions that are asked by customers.

If you’re just starting out and want to develop a look, purchase a solid dark suit (navy, black, charcoal grey) that will be more versatile for you. Then add different color shirts, tops and accessories to complete the look. A garment that is made well will last longer. Try a black suit for example, mix purple, tan, yellow, pink, and/or teal, and you can go on and on, mixing and matching tones together. Look back on the colorful fabrics of your heritage for your own color palette!

The most important thing to know if you’re an African American is that our culture secures our look and pride in wearing any color in the rainbow. Our different skin tones from golden to rich chocolate are reflections of beauty and of color. Casual wear is the best time to experiment with palette dressing. This way you can see what colors look good together. Spring and summer are fun times to brighten your looks for daywear. Bright colors are healthy for you and will make you look happy and charming. You’ll count the compliments. Dark shades of clothing area very

makes you look and feel powerful. It is a color that is neutral to all. Try mixing more dark tones together like charcoal grey with black ore black with blue. Stripes, pin dots, solids or prints can work together as well. Remember that all sales people aren’t trained specialists, so ask a fashion consultant or use your own creativity to develop your own look.

White, cream and neutral tones are completely natural to people of color. They make you look fresh and clean. Black

Women can always look like a boss with a power suit in Navy, Charcoal Grey or Black. Always over a white blouse, refrain from showing to much cleavage during your 9 to 5, business hours. But do remove that blouse for that sex appeal to knock’em out after hours. A pants or skirt business suit works every time.



{ IN STYLE WITH MR CARLYLE } “A palette is an artist’s board for mixing colors. Do you have a color chart that you should go by? Should you have a specialist to color your wardrobe?”






Quintessence Services was founded due to an inherent and overwhelming cry for help, from parents and students alike, where addressing needs in reading, writing, and comprehension skills were involved. The mission of Quintessence Services is to bring exemplary level educational assistance to those who need it most, without breaking the bank. We specialize in ELA Reading Comprehension, perfecting your craft in writing


structure, and editing of a wide variety of documents.


Quiana D. Joseph, MSEd, is the founder of Quintessence Services. She holds a Master of Science in Education and a Bachelor of Science in English. Ms. Joseph is not only a graduate of the Rochester City School District, she is currently a High School English Educator within that said district. She has taught at varying


grade levels, from preschool to 12th grade, for more than a decade and has shown marked academic success with some of the community’s most underserved student population. Not only is Quiana D. Joseph an educator, she is also the mother of two elementary aged sons. She couples her skills as a single mother and educator to create relationships with parents and students which allows her to experience successful outcomes both academically and holistically.


REGINA SMITH HERE COMES THE K AT ! K AT L A D Y P RO D U C T I O N S THAT IS Rochester Woman Online is proud to introduce Regina Smith straight from NYC and her new column which will be in the “ Sumthin 4 Da Sistas” new section of the publication. Regina’s column will be a monthly addition, so get ready for “Kat Lady Productions”. Kat Lady Productions is an upscale, creative modeling company that also participates in event planning. The focus being fashion, entertainment and furs. Regina is also a fur designer based in NYC and she finds her career amazing! Regina says, “There is nothing like seeing and showcasing your creative designs on a NYC run-way. I became a fur designer because it was a challenge.to take fur pieces and turn them into a masterpiece of art. I look at myself as an artist. For any designer who is trying to break into the fashion industry, stay tuned to your passion. You have to learn to refuse NO as an answer”. Kat Lady Productions was established August 8, 2007. This was a favorite pastime of Regina’s. She started sewing as a child with her mother. Regina found being an entrepreneur is a challenge in that you really find out who your true friends are when you launch a business. You learn who really believes in you. Regina found her experience challenging, as the fur industry is dominated by 96

Caucasian business owners, so she being an African-American woman, her business was already unique. It was frustrating when people did not realize her contributions as art and in general not understanding her. Many friends and family did not see her vision. She did not give up. She believed in herself and what she was capable of and she made her way into the fashion industry.

role in Regina’s life. Her son always brings out the best in her. Sean started Kat Lady Productions. He designed Regina’s logo. He is also an investor in the designs. He has even modelled in some of the shows and gives Regina 100% support. Teddy Peterson is also a great supporter in Regina’s life, Regina tells us: “He is my rock, my friend and I love him with all my heart”. In addition to being a phenomenal designer, Regina is an activist. She loves to advocate for people who cannot talk for themselves. She fights for women and children. She is the founder of ARKS (Acts of Refined Knowledge Services). This is a program in the Bronx supporting re-entry services for people who were incarcerated. Regina is also invoked with National Action Network in Harlem. She volunteers with CAIC an organization who’s focus is halting solitary confinement. She partakes in many charitable functions including an annual coat and toy drive.

Regina lost her MOM this year on August 6th, just two days before her birthday. She cites her mother as being one of her greatest sources of inspiration. She shares, “She taught me everything I know!” She was Regina’s soundboard. She inspired her with great ideas and showed her how to creatively mix and match differing fabrics. She always told Regina, “Don’t give up on your dream”, Regina’s son Sean Jr. also plays a big


Regina shares with us her progress was a journey. She looks forward to continuing to bring the world her creative designs in the future both fur and other custommade garments. Her vision includes expanding her product-base on a national basis. Monthly readers can expect her column “Kat Lady Productions” will share with the readers some highlights from her shows and her latest designs and the world of NYC fashion! Most of all energy, motivation and fun!









Triple Treat creative designer, and CEO/ founder of Katlady Productions, Regina Smith showcases, a softer side of her fashion collections with elegance and class. An exquisite style of her own, her collection is created for mature individuals who love fashion, furs and play. 101 Fashion & furs is for the person who loves art. Fashion is a life style, a mixture of art, and a recipe of ideas mixed all together. Designing is a love. It’s an expression of a creative minds. In fact, fashion is all around the world. It is universal. 101 Fashion & furs was never just about clothes. It’s about creating sculpture of art and defining the beauty in its form. Uniting pieces, through your vision, using different skins, fabrics and colors is fascinating. Boom! An arrangement of diverse, unique garments is born. When people think of Katlady Pr o d u c t i o n s © , I want them to envision style and elegance. My goal is to bring 101 Fashion & furs to the world, one step at a time. As a creative fashion designer, and event planner, I’ve worked with the best in the fashion and entertainment Industries, from the late, great Vaugh Harper Quite Storm’s 69th birthday party, to the R & B weekend with Lincoln Session.

Katlady Productions(C) experienced the privilege and pleasure of opening up for Blue Magic, Ray Goodman & Brown, Soul Generation, Harold Melive’s Blue Notes, Black Ivory and the Motown Sister out of NYC. I am blessed to know and interact with theses great individuals on a personal level too. I realize my creative is a God given blessing and I

further express it by doing shows at the National Black Theater in Harlem and the Minisink with the youth. We have so many upcoming events in 2019. Our growth is so exciting! Starting out 2019 with a bang, we are doing a fur presentation (February 9,

2019) with the Music and Film Festive in Newark, NJ. Katlady Productions© will be at the elegant Terrance on the Park in Flushing Meadows, Queens , featuring R&B artist Christopher Williams, and with RWO, April 25,2019 in Rochester, NY, where we will slay the runway. Heading into summer time, one of our favorites is the Annual United Harlem Basketball players event. Former Harlem Globetrotters, college players, coaches and people who made a difference in the Harlem Community come together and give back to the community. We do this, as a small way to give back what God has blessed us with. I would also like to mention Mr. Stephen A. Smith, for taking time out of his busy schedule, to come to Harlem to talk with the youth. On July 21, 2019, Katlady Productions© will grace the runway in Atlantic City NJ. We will be casting for models, designers, photographer and vendors. Stay tuned for all the upcoming information. 101 Fashion & Furs is here to stay. Our Journey is not finished yet. The destination we are focusing on is equally




as enjoyable, as successful. We already embraced on our path to launching in Baltimore, Md; Atlanta, GA; and Canada. Katlady Productions© was featured in three magazines across the NY area. Billie Blunt, Dmochlloe Fashion Magazine and Fanzisa Fashion Magazine. As a matter of fact, we won the cover of the year! What an amazing feeling. I am a professional creative designer, tailor, fur furrier, event planner and promoter. I am ready to let the world know about Katlady Productions© I hope you like it as much as I do. When you work with this sort of in-depth fashion and construction, you must take your time and be patient with yourself. 100

You need an eye for detail. There are hidden structures to each piece. What fun, adding a variety of colors or vertical strips, or different shapes of buttons of many sizes or shapes. For example, if you haven’t worn a garment in a while, or no longer think it is in style, restyle it. Here are some tips for you. Change the buttons, add trim, cut off sleeves or add sleeves, use different fabrics or fur. Most importantly, have fun restyling it so it is something you would like to wear in pubic. Restyling old garments is always fun, because you see your creative skills come to life. Seasonal shifts are a great time to clean house, instead of getting rid of or tossing


out piles of clothes, again restyle them. Regardless of the result, the outcome will be one of a kind. Restyling garments is always perfect with fur. A fur can be restyled in many different forms. It can be made into a vest, hat and much more. Restyling furs is a little harder than fabric, to cut, sew etc. you need a heavy- duty machine that sews leather & fur. Although 101 Fashion & Furs construction steps vary depending on the demand of the garment and or project lesson, its well learned and transferable. Until next month Ladies & gentlemen enjoy!


585 THE PLUG RADIO Rochester Woman Online is pleased to announce 585 The Plug will be joining the special section “Sumthin 4 The Sistas” in January 2019. You will recognize Jessica and Shikeya as the hosts of our fashion shows ate RWO. This witty duo has a lot of offer our readers. They will share with you in the “585 Plug” column and as individual columnists!

Shikeya Townsend, co-host of “585 The Plug Radio” is known for her “tell-it-likeit-is” raw personality. She owns/created Phace Cosmetics, earning a nomination for “best new business” within the first year of operation. She prides herself as a positive motivator for women of all shapes and ages. She herself, once

Jessica Bain and Shikeya Townsend are the evening team on Wednesdays, on the radio show, “585 The Plug Radio”. This is an internet radio show, airing in Rochester, NY, focusing on intersecting the worlds of entertainment, current events, fashion and beauty, as well as shining the light on local businesses/areas of interest and women’s issues. Jessica Bain, host and cofounder of the show is an award-winning entertainment manager, event producer and life coach. As President of Collective Society, Jessica produced events such as “Slay the Runway”. Her background is in Music Business and Public Relations (graduate of State University at Fredonia). Jessica is a master of “voice” doing commercials, and voice-over work. Jessica attributes her love for the arts to her musically-inclined family. She is known for being direct and using a detailed-way of solving problems and delivering results. She is often referred to as “the plug” by friends and associates based on her talent of connecting people and resources. 102

and assist them in finding a way to live extraordinary lives. The hosts, met each other through a mutual friend, remaining acquaintances for approximately two years. Through conversation, the ladies recognized they shared a similar vision. They turned the vision into a reality with the radio show. The Plug Radio occurred when their ideas and goals merged creating a platform for the show. The ladies discuss what they hope their show will do: “There are a few messages we always hope to convey through our work together. We strive to shine a muchneeded spotlight on thriving local businesses and entrepreneurs and to recognize the efforts of those working towards their dreams. We also aim to provide a warm, supportive forum through which women especially feel freer to discuss the issues and themes which affect them in a genuine and unbiased manner.

struggled with low self-confidence and esteem. Learning how to accept and love ourselves is the key to becoming a confident woman. Shikeya went on her own self-love journey, learned selfacceptance and “love conquers all”. She uses this platform to encourage others


We’ve always had a passion for speaking up and using our voices to affect change and positivity. We’re very outspoken within our own respective professional ventures. When the opportunity to produce and co-host the show presented itself, we felt it was natural to seize it and fill the empty niche in radio which existed for so long”. The ladies both gain inspiration from







{ THE PLUG REPORT } “All of us need to know, your dreams are valid. Nothing you really want is unattainable. It may seem that way when you feel discouraged. Many times, what holds us back is simply the inability to say yes to ourselves and committing to our own visions”.

family members, Shikeya believes she learned the biggest lesson in life, which helps her be who she is today, from her father. He taught her to live unapologetically, no matter what. Jessica indicates her mother was the most inspirational person who taught by living as an example. She instilled in her the importance of independence and taking a pro-active stance in life through consistency and tough love.

at once. If doing all this was easy, we wouldn’t be working hard enough. We are fortunately enough to have amazing relationships with our loved ones, keeping us balanced, and providing quality, personal administrative support”.

The ladies’ final thoughts were stated by stying, “All of us need to know, your dreams are valid. Nothing you really want is unattainable. It may seem that way when you feel discouraged. Many times, what holds us back is simply the inability to say yes to ourselves and committing to our own visions”.

The co-hosts are excited as their show grows. Soon, the show is going on the road. The Plug will be touring, hosting more special events, and more! The show will be everywhere this season and the women are looking to start 2019, off with a bang! The ladies reflect saying,“Our biggest obstacle in this venture was finding a solid support team whose values and methods were consistent with our vision. This venture definitely taught us, who was truly there for us and who was along the ride for perks. There is no perfect juggling act. We will always have way too much to do and too many places to be all

Jessica says, “The point in my life which was most defining was when I actually recognized I possessed skills and connections, and experience to make a living off what I love to do. I learned and brought to fruition the American Dream”.

Shikeya talks about what her most defining moment was in her life: “Becoming a mother, really brought everything in my life, to a clear focus. I crystallized more of my goals at that time, redefined my career goals and I know knew I didn’t just have myself to live for”.

In the holiday season, the ladies were proud to present their Cur ve Nation fashion show. In the tour’s second year, this year the shows are at Dress Barn and Ashley Stewart. The ladies strived to battle society’s view of what is defined as beauty by placing plus-sized women as models on the runway. Be prepared to see everything curvy!




JESSICA BAIN Rochester Woman Online is pleased to announce Jessica Bain is joining us as a new writer for the special section “Something 4 The Sistas”. You recognize Jessica as she is the founder-CEO and co-host of “The Plug Radio” along with Shikeya Townsend, and the ladies appeared hosting RWO fashion shows. Both ladies are writing and there will also be a “Plug Radio” article every month. Jessica also has her own business Collective Society LLC. Collective Society is a multimedia management company which specializes in branding, image consulting and development for businesses and artists. Jessica books entertainment acts for companies, in addition to managing Collective Society’s talent roster. Jessica loves event planning and production work. Jessica is the producer at The Plug Radio, as well as being the host! She’s worked with and booked some Grammy award winning artists such as: Monica, Job B, Erica Mena and Gospel Recording Artist: Kirk Franklin. Additionally, she is the co-founder of: Slay the Runway Fashion Showcase & The Best-friend Brunch here in Rochester, NY.


LA for a PR and promotional campaign and shared the experience with her social media platform. The ladies were scouting new talent and launching promotions about Jadah’s upcoming album. While on the west coast, they put in some studio time and attended several industry events. Jessica shares some advice for other women thinking about being an entrepreneur saying, “Make sure you really think your chosen

credibility of her business which was not an easy task. All of this takes time. Most businesses are not an instant success. You must plan to get the word out about what you are trying to do, find clients, network etc. Jessica attributes her success to having lessons learned which were instilled by her mother. She taught her the importance of being independent and taking a proactive stance on life with consistency and tough love. Jessica is known for her fun, professional and detailed way of thinking. She was given the name: “The Plug” by her peers because she is a huge advocate of connecting brands and People. Our readers can expect the following her in her monthly column: Celebrity news and Interviews, Updates on what’s happening locally in Rochester and abroad in the areas of: music, fashion, film and entertainment. Her Column will also educate you on how to build your brand from the ground up. Her column will be especially interesting as she will give you an insider’s view of what she does, share success stories of her clients and share with you her ventures outside of the Rochester area.

Jessica and Shikeya are very supportive of other efforts in the Roc. The pair recognizes we must all support each other. Doing so builds relationships which usually turns into more business. Being involved in your community is definitely something that is important to building success and recognition of your brand. One of the things of importance when working in the entertainment industry is being seen, networking and partnership building. Many entertainment productions involve m any different entities. Broadening your knowledge of people in the business is always a plus.

business venture through. Know that you really want it and your ready to commit your assets to making your dream a reality, before investigating your resources. Be ready to make sacrifices, and plan that most of your free time is going to be used to ensure the success of your business”.

Recently, Jessica and one of her clients, reality TV star, Jadah Blue, travelled to

Jessica shares she too struggled with self-doubt and having to put the work in to build the


RWO is especially pleased to add this national component of highlighting successful people coming from the Rochester area. We hope this will encourage readers to reach for the stars and see your dreams are possible. There is such a big world out there and broadening your horizons beyond our city will definitely help ensure the success and growth of your businesses. Jessica is a key-component in sharing her ventures with span as far as the west coast. Make sure you follow her upcoming column so you can share with us in expanding our horizons.









Recently, I was given the pleasure and honor of sitting down and speaking with Nye Howell, a good friend. She just happens to be one of Rochester NY’s top female bartenders. Here’s her story! There’s a lot more to tending bar, than you would think. It’s much more than standing behind the counter looking pretty.

Where are you from, and why did you want to become a bartender?

I’m originally from Florida, currently residing in Rochester, NY. I wanted to become a bartender because the night life is entertaining, as well as the benefit of being able to make money while having fun.

How do you juggle night life and everyday life?

Being organized is the key. It takes a lot of motivation and pre-planning of my week. Having a network of supportive people around me helps, because not only do I work 3 jobs, I’m a full-time mom of a toddler, who demands a lot of attention.

When do you sleep?

I’ve adjusted to survive on a minimum of sleep. The end goal in mind is it will all pay off in the end.

What are some downsides to working as a bartender, if any?

Always working at night, sometimes can affect my personal social life. But like I said, if I follow my goal- this will all work out and I will reach my goals when it is all over.

How competitive is it to get a job as a bartender?

I’ve found that, bartending jobs in a major city is super competitive. This

is especially true at the nicer places, mostly because the money can be very good. It’s not as bad in a smaller area like Rochester. More than likely, if you have experience and they are looking to hire, you’ll at least get an opportunity interview—but, this business is all about who you know!

Being a bartender, have you serviced celebrities?

I personally haven’t serviced any celebrity clients. However; they were in the club, while I was working. Living in a smaller town, famous people don’t walk in every day. What was the biggest tip you every received? The largest I’ve received so far is a hundred dollars.

How long have you been bartending? I’ve been bartending for 3 years.

Besides working your different jobs, what else do you do in your free time? This past year, I’ve been more heavily involved with the beauty and fashion scene, in Rochester. I was a featured model for the Xquisite Boutique segment, during Rochester Fashion Week’s 2018 show. In addition, I’ve done some print and boutique modeling for a few local businesses.

customers is the worst! Some people don’t know their limit and this goes for drinks and attitude.

How knowledgeable of drink preparation do you have to be to be a successful bartender ?

Honestly, being a successful bartender, you have to know your alcohol and your drink recipes. So I’m very knowledgeable!

What else do you do?

I supervise a convenience store and I’m employed at local boutique.

What advice would you give someone trying to pursue bartending as a career?

I would encourage them to go all in. Enjoy the experience at every given chance. The night life is not for everyone. You constantly have people screaming and wanting attention- this doesn’t change. But, you can meet a lot of amazing people, during the experience. Bartending jobs aren’t right for everyone. If you’re a people person with a good memory and have the ability to stay grounded you can excel in this field

What’s next for you?

Eventually, I’d like to open up my own bar. It is a passion of mine. Some people might think I’m crazy, however, I truly enjoy this industry.

Do you have any plans on retiring from the nightlife?

No. I plan on continuing to bartend, as it is a great source of income for me. Further, I’d like to open up my own bar- not anytime soon- but soon!

What is the worst part of the job?

Dealing with unruly, disrespectful ROCHESTER WOMAN ONLINE :: JAN/FEB NEW YEAR NEW YOU 2019



SHIKEYA TOWNSEND GOT PHACE? Rochester Woman Online is pleased to announce Shikeya Townsend of The Plug Radio and Phace Cosmetics is joining the RWO team in the new section “ Sumthin 4 The Sistas”. Bright, bold and tells it like it is, this is what you can expect from this beauty. You may recognize Shikeya from hosting RWO fashion shows along with her co-host Jessica Bain. “Phace by Shikeya”, her monthly column will bring you everything about skin care, among other things! It is the holiday season, and that time of year for The Plug Radio’s Curve Nation Tour. This is an awesome set of fashion shows where Shikeya and Jessica have opened the door for non-traditional models creating a platform for women with curves. At the time of the inception no one else was doing it so the pair decided it was time. Shikeya is always a lover of all things beauty so she decided it was time to put her skills to work to share with others by gaining an education in the field. Shikeya shares, “Everyone is beautiful, no matter what their size, shape, or color. Find what works for you and work the hell out of t! Be confident when doing so”. 110

Phace Beauty Bar is Shikeya’s business and she offers services related to waxing, facials, chemical peels and eyelash extensions. She tells us: “You name it I can do it”. Phace cosmetics is her baby. Shikeya recently took a break from this concept but It is on its way back! The cosmetic line offers loose shadows, highlighters,

and eye and lip glitters and many more awesome cosmetic products. Shikeya tells RWO, “I want to empower women! We are amazing. I feel a lot of women don’t realize this or feel undervalued. I plan to change that. Expect lots of laughs with a lot of real


and encouragement. I’ve struggled with low self-esteem. I hated the way I looked. I felt my weight defined me. I’ve changed so much and gained so much confidence. If I can help just one woman, my job is done”. Shikeya is lucky to have a strong family support system behind her. Her family means everything to her. She draws inspiration from all of them: her husband, daughter parents and siblings. They all play a major role in the woman she became. Having this solid family environment allows Shikeya, to gain strength. She loves to be an example for her daughter, so she knows as a woman, she can do anything. She wants to instill the same level of confidence she has to her daughter. She shows her by example, family matters. She teaches her how to have a healthy relationship wit her spouse and to be a stand-up person. In her column, she expects to share these things with the readers too. We can learn a lot from the beauty advice on how to “live your best life”. Shikeya looks forward to helping all women find their inner beauty so they can shine!









Well, it’s the time of year again, where people start to feel down. Everyone’s skin is dry and flaky. Our amazing summer tans have left the building (Have you seen me?). We all get caught up in holiday parties, running around getting last minute shopping out of the way and often our own care is left by the wayside. We’re over tired. Kids are waking us up early to go to holiday outings or to open presents. We are scrambling trying to get the perfect gifts for the people we love. Then it is all over and it’s time for the new year! This is known for New Year’s Resolutions and making a strategic plan for all the ways we can improve our lives to make 2019 the most prosperous yet! No need to panic ladies, even though the seasons change, we still can look and feel just as beautiful, all year round!

want to still look 20, even when we are 50! It seems so far away now but the years creep on you.

Beauty and skin care are a life style, not just a hobby or something we should do just for special occasions. We must incorporate a regime in every day life to make sure we always look our best. Sometimes people do not make their skin a priority early on, and they live to regret it as they age. Proper skin care can minimize what you see in the mirror later in life. No one wants to have wrinkled, sagging skin. We all

new skin as often, as we age! A good skin care routine is important. People are afraid of skin care because they think it’s expensive or not important. It’s just as important as any other organ in your body. Every woman should own a cleanser, exfoliating product and a moisturizer with sunscreen to start! Cleaning and moisturizing should be a daily routine with exfoliating only 2x per week! This alone will help you

Did you know that the cell turnover rate for your skin is around 28 days between the ages of (20-40) and (38-42) days, as we age, at least that’s what they taught us in beauty school! So, we must take care of the skin we have. We don’t get

see major improvements in your skin health. Ok ladies! Time for some truth. Healthy habits play a major role in your skin’s overall health! So smoking and excessive drinking, will age you faster than you can blink your eye! Now, I said excessive drinking (a girl needs her wine). So, have a couple glasses of wine a few times a week. This won’t hurt but be mindful. What we eat is important too, because what we put in our bodies, will come out. This holds true for the skin too. First thing you have to figure out, is what is your skin type? Dr y, Normal, Combination, or Oily. Dry skin (alipidic) lacks what it needs to produce the right moisture. In all skin, we have follicles, these provide protection to the skin from environmental factors which cause damage. Drier skin is not afforded with as much protection, so we must make sure to moisturize to supplement. Dry skin has smaller follicles and less sebum (oil). Someone with normal skin fluctuates between being dry, normal or a little oily. This skin type has normal sized follicles and is usually free of blemishes.




In combo skin, the follicles are usually medium to large and the skin can either be dry and oily or oily and normal. I know, crazy right? Insert eye roll. Last of all we have oily skin. This skin type requires more cleansing. This skin type has an excess of sebum and large visible follicles. This skin type is at risk 114

for blemishes and other skin problems from pores being clogged and or dead skin building up. No matter the skin type, the goal is to balance what is called the barrier function. Oily skin does have one benefit it ages slower but as I said is more prone to develop acne. Sooo.., let’s get the basics down ladies,


and improve the overall health of our skin. For more tips and even a consultation please feel free to email me at shikeya. morris@yahoo.com let’s stay younger forever together!


GARY ARIEL WASHINGTON THE MAKING OF AN ICON RWO is pleased to announce Gary Ariel joining the “Something 4 The Sistas” new section in RWO launching in January 2019! Gary Ariel is all the way fabulous. RWO is pleased to introduce Gary as a phenomenal new writer who’s monthly column “ICONIC MOMENT” will give you an inside look at how he molds talent into pageant winners. Gary began his career as a pageant contestant in 2006, while attending Bowling Green State University, competing for Mr. Blu Magic, a scholarship pageant organized by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. He took 2nd runner up and continued competing in collegiate pageantry until finishing his 2 graduate degrees. After placing in his first pageant, he was then nominated for homecoming king! The experience of making the top 10 was a huge motivator for him. He then was appointed by Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority earning his first title, Mr. Majestic 2007. He then won Mr. BGSU (2008). His next title was Prince of Pearls (2009) (Sigma Kappa Sorority). After his third attempt, in 2010, Gary took Mr. Quien Soy (Mr. Ecuador). At 23 years-old, Gary took a three-year break to transition from college life to adulting. He then competed from (20132015) and began winning more titles; He took Mr. Supermodel NJ and Mr. East Coast Male Entertainer (2015). In 2016, Gary began to soar, winning Mr. Florida ICON Continental, then Mid-Atlantic All-American Gent (2017). In 2018, he won Mr. Gay Pennsylvania America. Gary competed in numerous 116

pageant systems and gained a wealth of experience as a competitor. His evolution to pageant coach occurred randomly, while serving as a pageant judge. Alison Herbert approached him and inquired if he could mentor her. Alison became the center of how great a coach Gary would become. He gained additional mentees from almost every pageant he judged.

top 5 at Miss Earth NY (2018); Ramces winning Mr. Gay Gem State and Greater NW Showman. He is now heading to the National Showman Pageant; Lastly, Octavius, a pastor, who is preparing for his first pageant (2019) competing in Mr. Pose International Newcomer). Gary is currently prepping competitors for many upcoming pageants.

Gary cites his most favorable moments of coaching were producing 3 national

Gary shares saying, “After being asked by Alison, it seemed to be a domino effect and I gained a lot of mentees. Once you string together an amazing body of work, then people start to see and join in. I received great encouragement from my coaches, Stacy Margules-Gallagher and Kyle Ean Haggerty. They are both coaches from One Step Ahead Pageantry Consulting and Winner’s Circle. They still coach me and give me pointers. I am grateful to my coaches who sponsored the assistance they gave me, and I follow in that tradition with my team. I never charge for my services. Pageantry is not a business it is a way of life!”

titleholders, 2 state titleholders and 5 charity wins! He congratulates his team on their successes (Alison winning 4 crowns and first runner up at Jr. Teen Spirit of NY (2017); Ava winning Jr. Teen Spirit of the USA and International Princess; Raelyn winning Teen Spirit of NY and telling him they were going all the way to Miss USA and Miss Universe! ; Kira winning International Princess for Sullivan County; Alexa taking the


Gary ssys for competing pageant contestants that “First and foremost, you must take pageantry seriously and understand it is a sport. You must have fun in the process of creating your “package” and in preparation for the judges and audiences. Third, never focus on who your competitors are but maintain congeniality. Read everything, ask questions and never assume anything. Never compete and play safe. Please understand you are competing to reign and if you are not ready to reign or really compete, then don’t and sit in







{ INTRODUCING } “She wasn’t just my mom, she was also my paternal grandmother. She raised me until her passing, which was a month after my fifteenth birthday. She is the only reason I am still going. She taught me to be a fighter and to go above and beyond my sexuality, ethnicity and gender”.

the audience. Lastly, study the pageant system in which you are competing. Look at each former contestant. Analyze the characteristics they share. Mirror them without copying. Authenticity wins, and fakeness only gets you in the door. Don’t ever take it for granted. Put in the actual effort. Don’t overanalyze. Remember always to never look back once sash, medallion, crown etc. is on your head and your haters marvel!” Gary shares: “I am the guy from the projects from Spanish Harlem. I grew up in a broken family. As a chocolate man, who knew nothing about pageantry, I took this life on as a way to empower myself from my previous shortcomings. I survived being abandoned by both of my parents at birth. I battled my way out of special education by the 9th grade ( was placed there between 2nd and 8th grade), graduated from high school surviving being the only LGBT person and doing it in 3 years. I was homeless three times in my lifetime and still maintained my pageantry and entertainment career. I was assaulted by family and strangers. I was ridiculed by others, including people who I once looked up to. This adversity only makes me strive more for greatness”. Gary is most grateful for Ms. Mary Louise Washington. This is his paternal grandmother. Gary tells RWO,“Well, she knows my answer!!! She is the most beautiful woman ever. She wasn’t just my mom, she was also my paternal grandmother. She raised me until her passing, which was a month after my fifteenth birthday. She is the only reason I am still going. She taught me to be a fighter and to go above and beyond my sexuality, ethnicity and gender”.

Gary’s talent does not stop there. He is a lead male performer, stylist, actor, singer, dancer and retail specialist. His hobbies include collecting hats, fashion frames, hand gloves and super hero memorabilia. He also enjoys classic/ reality/cartoon/TV. He loves singing weekly at karaoke, shooting pool, rock climbing and playing trivia. Styling people is also a favorite past time. Watching someone evolve into a stronger person is rewarding. As far as being creative, this is a way of life for Gary. He is also an avid creator of creative beverages for parties! He maintains his ties to Sigma Lambda Beta International and Alpha Phi Omega National Co-ed Service Fraternities.

honesty and everyone learning to find their own iconic moments, as Gary shares with you his. He will also share interesting stories of first-hand male pageant accounts and he will teach you how to uncover the secrets of experiencing an ICONIC MOMENT. Stay tuned for the next episode!

Gary hopes to continue with Pageantry success and continuing to serve as a titleholder. He looks forward to getting married and having a family and who knows maybe even an Oscar nomination. He has hopes to continue with pageantry charity and will seek to raise money for cancer awareness and the homeless including establishing a scholarship program through his platform (#BETRUETOYOU). He promotes positive self- esteem and self-image through social media advocacy and helping those who have experienced cyber bullying. Gary will continue to assist others in their goals of becoming pageant title holders. He strives to obtain his own apartment and a new car. He would like to have the opportunity to become NY’s #1 Male Lead Entertainer. Gary says he has stopped trying to predict everything as far as what the future will hold. He hopes he will continue with everything he does, leading to something ICONIC or an INCONIC MOMENT. He looks forward to writing for RWO and you can expect truthfulness, facts, ROCHESTER WOMAN ONLINE :: JAN/FEB NEW YEAR NEW YOU 2019







PICK ME, PICK ME: UNDERSTANDING T H E PA G E A N T MENTALITY AND ITS COMPETITON BACKSTORY Have you ever wondered why anyone decides to ever compete in a beauty pageant? No, seriously. Have you ever considered the rationale of the person who is competing? Have you ever wondered how the person truly shows up to the world? Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we all have our ideal daily scope of achievements. Each daily scope, we as individuals have shares various scenarios from “living our best lives” to winning a beauty pageant and reigning. One must first understand, what really makes a pageant competitor come out a person. In this first article, I am exploring the “backstory” as to why compete in a beauty pageant? I will offer lessons which can be taken from a pageant stage, to the life stage and how you can incorporate these things into your life. First, an obvious reason anyone chooses pageantry, is they must have an honest enjoyment of performing. Pageantry pushes each competitor to find their signature moments. They must portray themselves as the perfect choice. The majority of pageant systems, allow the contestants to push themselves to a new elevated level as an individual. From singing, dancing, acting, modeling, lipsyncing, garment constructing, to original/ unconventional talents, everyone gets the opportunity to show the world what they can do. Many people in the world, thrive off entertaining large or small audiences with

their chosen gifts. Becoming involved in pageantry does just that. Pageantry also offers up opportunities from gigs or career paths you didn’t expect would come your way. I know so many who have gotten television roles to even running for local congress!! The transferable skills you gain in pageantry, especially if you really study the game, can make you a fully realized human being.

immaculate perfection.” Pageantry allows us to create our own platforms to enhance the needs and wants of society on a local, regional, state, or national level. Each competitor must champion one or more charitable organizations . These competitors are using their titles to speak with legislation, having hands in changing history, and empowering positive change through true advocacy for humanity. The greatest reigns are from those who give onto others, whom give onto them! I personally advocate against cyber- bullying & homeless prevention and its was thanks to a pageant, I gained my platform! Another idea to why people compete, is having the opportunity to share their personal stories to others . In relation to my previous point about getting involved and inspiring through work, many do the same by sharing who they are. Often competitors have real backstories that are compelling, overwhelming, shocking, to unfortunate. Next time pay close attention to those video packages where you get to hear the contestant speak. Normally, they will get to share what molded them, and often as a society, we forget to connect with others. Some have a fear to reveal what we’ve gone through, in fear of judgement. Pageantry allows you to truly confront those feelings.

Another aspect of competing in pageants is the chance to change lives, while enhancing your own. What I mean by that is, pageants engage the person to make contact with the outside world. Many of us out there have one person we view as our “symbol of excellence” and “beacon of hope &

The outgoing Miss Universe 2017, DemiLee Nel-Peters was assaulted by a male attacker after winning the Miss South Africa crown. She talked about that brutal assault and what measures she took upon defending herself. In sharing such a personal, yet traumatizing experience in return, she



“Each daily scope, we as individuals have shared various scenarios from “living our best lives” to winning a beauty pageant and reigning. One must first understand, what really makes a pageant competitor come out a person.”


brought heightened awareness towards learning how to defend yourself. At times, placing a crown physically on your head or metaphorically, pageantry does a beautiful, honest job of bring people together. Everyone has differences, but that is what makes pageantry a celebration, because diversity of experiences are always rewarded. The final reason I offer up to the why compete question, is pageantry is not a conventional sport. Now your reading this like, hold up did he just write a sport? And yes, I actually did. Pageantry fits all of the actual criteria for a sport. Its competitive. There are various rounds/categories your challenged in. YOU MUST TAKE REAL STUDIED PREPARATION, TOWARDS THE COMPETITION! 124

Each pageant has a history, a reputation/vibe and you do take time to strategically plan the proper approach to win the pageant. It challenges you to really show up to your life, thinking out of the box. Pageantry promotes becoming a fully well-rounded person. That reign for 365 days that your blessed to receive, also grants prizes upwards of various monetary gains to travel, and chances for a larger social media following. Most importantly, it’s achieving the “do something different” mentality. It’s not a common thing many get involved in, having that uniqueness to your personal resume is bonus bragging rights. In my 12 years in pageantry, it’s a blessing how many recognize the sacrifices that were made. The amount of dedication it


has taken to achieve what I have achieved. Furthermore, the amount I get to give back as a coach and public figure, is astronomical. Assuming everyone wants to challenge themselves by trying pageantry, which I stand firm that everyone should do once. I hope those reasons help you understand why someone may enter a beauty pageant. In the next edition, I will go into the specifics of strategies and how to properly prepare for a Pageant. I hope the above reasons I have given you, you apply to your life and hopefully your pageant backstory. Please follow me & contact me on Instagram: @Gromance0804 & Facebook: @3NAMEWONDER.


SHEILA YOUNG BEAUTY LIES WITHIN Rochester Woman Online is proud to announce Beautician Sheila Young will be joining us in our new special section “Something For The Sistas” as a writer. You may recognize Sheila as a model from the RWO runway or as one of our stylists who has provided services for photo shoots. She is a “class act” that is for sure and we are excited about what she will bring to our readers as a new writer.

Many entrepreneurs are still starting up and getting grounded, so they must maintain employment aside from their business. Sheila also works at Paychex and as a server for a company called Celebrate Events Inc. Sheila reminds business owners that “The advice I have for women who decide to own your own business is simple. The word CONNECTIONS. Being able to lean on someone for advice or help is

Sheila shares by saying, “Being a Beautician, is harder than most people think. It takes patience, skills and a lot of training, even after you graduate from Hair School. I decided to become a Beautician, after I was laid off 5 years ago from a corporate company. I decided to attend classes at Continental School of Beauty. I started doing hair when I was 13-years-old! I practiced on a little manikin doll I received from my parents as a gift for Christmas one year. I attended college in Sanford, Florida. I would practice my skills on my friends and enjoyed making people feel good. After losing my job, it was a given this would be my next venture”.

These days making ends meet is tough. 126

Sheila shares as women we are vulnerable sometimes to others. “PEOPLE can cause you to stop doing what you love the most. Having a Dream and someone crushing it can cause a burden on anyone. When you have a passion and then have it ripped from your hands, it can be devasting and hurtful. Be cautious who you share your dreams with and be vivid on what you say and whom you say it”. Sheila is very spiritual and indicates the most significant person in her life at this point is GOD. Besides the man above, my children make me want more than I could ever possibly need or want. I am lucky to have found friends like Latiffany Anderson, Cheryl Kates, and Barbara Young who have supported me in everything I do. These women impacted my life by always choosing me as choice to represent them and the subsequent encouragement they provide. Last and most importantly, my Grandmother Mary Lee Bowman and Aunt Katina Redden, as they give me unconditional love, and this is consistent since I was a young child. They always have my back and support ANY dream I ever have”.

Sheila has a chair in a shop, so she is very aware of the sacrifices people must make to succeed as a business owner. She tells RWO that “Being an entrepreneur is very difficult. It takes lots of prayer and patience. For me, being successful revolved around who I knew. This helped me get to where I am today. When you work in the industry, it is exciting because you get to meet so many new people! In a salon, you come across so many different personalities and attitudes. It is rewarding to be able to change a frown on a face and be able to help someone beautify their looks with just a simple hair style”.

in the industry and meeting new people everywhere she goes. Her worst experience in the industry is working in an unprofessional environment or venue.

always a great asset for your business to grow. Having someone to guide you in the right directions is always a plus. Again, you must always remain relevant and stay up on the latest trends and techniques so always take classes and trainings to keep up your skill set”. Sheila became a model through her pageantry. Sheila competed in the Ms. Kurvie Pageant. In 2017, she placed as Ms. Congeniality. Since then Sheila has joined every modeling show she could. She loves the atmosphere


Sheila aspires to own her own spa within the next five years. She looks forward to building a legacy to make a family business for herself and her children. Sheila indicates, “It doesn’t have to be a anything big or flashy”. She will be satisfied with anything simple that God blesses her with. Sheila looks forward to bringing our readers a down to earth column where “The sky is the limit!” She plans to share things, so people know “Don’t let anyone make you feel less than a person”. “Beauty Lies Within” will promote loving yourself and how to stay your number one fan!










from both sides. Now, I was not exactly in the same area as the fellas. However, my clients had to walk through the barber shop clients to get to my chair. Some women were not comfortable walking through a shop of men. A little bit of this.

When I lost my corporate job at JP Morgan Bank, I never thought in life, I would produce beauty within someone, besides showing love and support. On January 09, 2012, I started at Continental School of Beauty at 633 Jefferson Rd. Rochester, NY. At first, my mind was set on, “Let’s just go to school, doing something I love and use it as a part-time gig to get me by”.

Next stop, Phli Divas Beauty Salon, owned by Tiff Gray. What I learned while at this shop was techniques/skills to do 27 pieces and Dreads. This was a specialized set of skills, I needed to broaden the services I knew how to do. A little bit of that.

Well, it turned the other cheek. I am excited and honored to be able to produce beauty within someone, with just my hands. It takes lots of courage and patience to deal with so many different personalities and attitudes. It takes love and passion to keep yourself encouraged and up-to-date with the styles or current trends. I learned to love what was just a hobby, which turned into a career and now I am an entrepreneur. I learned it took a little bit of this and a little bit of that! I found my way. I graduated February 23, 2013. Once I hit the world as a cosmetologist, I had hope in my heart, it would be a piece of cake. Reality set in, I was sadly mistaken. Growing a successful business took a lot more than hope. It took prayers and a lot of time, sweat, and tears to get where I am now. I set up in several shops, before getting to where I am currently located. Fresh out of school, I started off my beauty career at Changing Faces Barber Shop, owned by Kelvin Young. Within this barber shop, I learned lesson number one, owning/operating a shop with men and woman as customers and providers can be challenging. It required patience

The Lord led me to the third salon, Divine Designs, owned by Cee Cee Davis. What can I say? This woman is exceptional, brave and unique. Clarissa “Cee Cee” Davis, should not just be producing beauty within hair (styling) but teaching it to others as well. She taught me the value of HAIR. She taught me YOU are the creator of your styles. You make your own mark, not just within the hair, but also with the client. Anyone who passes through her shop, will be blessed and loved genuinely. First, we must perfect our craft. Then, we must perfect how to work with people. The customers must feel special and comfortable to keep coming to see one stylist. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Now, currently I am at Forty Acres, owned by Lauren Carr. She taught me the value of loyalty & trust. Within the years of being at so many shops, I learned something from each place and owner. Every day, I am grateful for the experiences I was exposed to and the little piece of the various mentors I took with me. You become successful because you combine what you learned at school, with lessons learned etc. It is not usually an instant thing. That’s for sure. My mark, talent and gifts include coloring, 27 pieces, cuts, and sew-ins. Additionally, specialized services such as, solutions for

cancer patients, assistance with damaged & breakage, as well as, lace frontals. Within the years of being a beautician, I managed a shop. I experienced job offers at chains like Super Cutz and JCPenney Hair Salon. I turned those all down, because I felt in my heart, the neighborhood shop I was at, was where I was meant to stay. These are all lessons learned along the way. Lesson number two, of being a successful entrepreneur, it takes great courage to get the confidence you need to be able to sell yourself. That did not occur overnight. People will let you down and make unnecessary noise regarding your gift. You must learn to tune people out. Hold on tight and know that GOD has a way of putting things together for you. It took me a long time to get the clientele I now built for myself. I have faithful clients. There are also those who are just a test. I, thank God for all of them. Even those allowing me to touch their hair at least once. My goal going forward is making every hair style exceptional and more beautiful than before, all the while, perfecting and creating my styles. Also, in 2019, I am striving is to become a master stylist where I expand my services to broaden my clientele (increasing male clients). Yes, Yes, I want to perform perfection in both men and women. Stayed tuned, follow me on social media (Sheila Young on FB). You’ll see once my mind is made up and God opens those doors the rest will follow. The moral of the story is, never give up on your dreams. Prove something to yourself. Learn skills, self-love and self-confidence. Beauty is more than a pretty face, you must also create beauty within. Can’t ride out on hope alone fam, it takes a little bit of this and a little bit of that! You will eventually find your way!




JAMEQUA ABERNATHY ALL HAIL THE QUEEN Rochester Woman Online is pleased to announce Jamequa Abernathy is joining us as a writer in our all new “Something For The Sistas” special section. You saw Jamequa previously on the RWO runway, or from “Jewels By Lady A” Most recently, she was crowned Rochester’s “Ms . Kurvie North”! She is also a makeup artist extra-ordinaire! She will be bringing us a monthly column “Glam Factz” by Lady A, so make sure you check her new column out.

are and everything else will fall into place! I enjoy meeting new women through Ms. Kurvie, who are just like me, who weren’t afraid to be who they are. I’ve developed friendships I thought I would never have and I’m forever grateful for that. My platform is to make every woman I come in contact with to be and feel confident with who they are. I want to break the stereotype of

Jamequa says, “He is the sweetest man I know. He is literally my best friend. He pushes me to do better. He stands behind me 100%. He is my number one supporter. He is my number one fan. I love him so much. I know if I lose everything today, he will still be by my side. He’ll still be all that and more”.

Jamequa lives in Buffalo, NY. She studied forensic science and criminal investigation at Hilbert College. Jamequa started her career in modeling as a plus-sized model and a pageant contestant after meeting Latiffany Anderson on Facebook. Latiffany reached out to her to inquire if she would be interested in competing in the Ms. Kurvie North Pageant. She competed initially in 2017. She then began modeling. In 2018, Jamequa competed again and she brought home the crown. Jamequa also won an award for the talent competition, where she performed an array of a Beyonce dance routine, showing everyone being Kurvie did not deter her ability to produce the moves! RWO asked Jamequa “How did winning Ms. Kurvie North change your life?” She shares, “It really didn’t change much of my personal life or how I viewed myself, except now everywhere I go in my hometown everyone calls me Queen(she laughs)! Women must always be true to themselves no matter what. Never let anyone change who you are and just allow yourself to be beautiful. Always be confident in who you 130

Jamequa became an entrepreneur after losing her job as a secretary. She decided to become a make-up artist based on her love for make-up. She is a free-lanced artist and is seeking to become licensed. She became a jewelry entrepreneur, after her husband John suggested she did. She was always complimented on the pieces she was wearing. She’s been in business now for three years. Her husband, John Abernathy is the most significant person in her life.

a BBW or plus-sized woman . We are more than just our size and pretty faces. We are fearless, victorious, and unique women. I want to encourage young girls to never settle and to follow their dreams. I want them to see their body isn’t what is the most attractive thing about them. It’s your smile! I’m going to change and break the rules of the plus-size industry. Watch me work.”


Jamequa looks forward to her year as Ms. Kurvie and hopes to continue to inspire plus-size women with the message, they are beautiful and can do anything they set their mind to. She looks forward to building her business, continuing to collaborate with others and growing as an individual. In the next five years, she tells us, we can expect her to bring more beauty, business and billions! She loves meeting new people, networking and working together so everyone wins. Jamequa is very excited about her column with RWO and hopes to inspire each one of you through her work and things she shares with you. She indicates to expect everything glamorous. She will bring you the latest updates on makeup tips, the do’s and don’ts, and also lots of “Jewels by Lady A” . You won’t want to miss it!









I once heard jewelry isn’t an enhancement of my beauty, but an extension of my personality. In this issue of “Glam Factz” I’m bringing you “January Jewels”. Learn all the latest and hottest jewelry facts/ tips. This includes jewelry must haves to the do’s and don’ts for this upcoming season. I’ll also include how I first became an entrepreneur of my own jewelry business. Tune in each month for more must have info to look and feel your best. Your outfit is never complete without a little bling!

life. Bright, bold colors are also what’s hot on the market right now. Designers such as Tiffanys , Cartier, Gucci, Swarovski AG, David Yurman and my personal favorite, Coco Chanel are spicing things up with these jewelry trends to add more versatility and options to their customers.

but so significant and meaningful to have in your collection. Let’s not forget about pearls or as I like to call them “the go to jewel”. This is a definite must have. They are not solely available as white, now they added colored pearls. This adds a sense of sassiness to the jewelry scene.

Chokers , extremely big earrings, stacked bracelets, lace, and long necklaces are also trendy for your jewelry box. Don’t sleep on the head pieces. They are more and more



Jewelry comes from the french word “jouel”?. It is not a modern day invention, way back in Mesopotamian and Egyptian times, jewelry was still popular. The most important concept about jewelry is how you wear it and how you feel wearing it. The birthstone for January is “Garnet” which is the color red. This gemstone is often gifted after the 2nd anniversary of marriage. It is thought to keep the wearer safe during travel.(1) Now that’s a fun jewelry fact! Jewelry is crafted from all different types of materials and there are all types of jewels such as; rhinestones, diamonds, shells, gemstones, beads, pearls, silver, gold, and different metals just to name a few. The cost of jewelry varies so it is affordable for everyone to accessorize your latest outfit. It can be simple or extravagant. One of the most expensive pieces called the “Graff Pink” , a type ll color diamond necklace was worth over $1 million dollars.(6) I guess the saying is true, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”(5) and expensive too!


Big statement pieces like big hoop earrings with long bold necklaces are the must haves for any runway show, for a date night and even for the wedding season. Never leave the house without a matching set or a bedazzled necklace to bring any outfit to

To leave the house without a pair of earrings, is considered “bad taste” (3) I mean, I know I feel naked if I don’t have any on. Never just throw or store your jewelry anywhere, invest in a jewelry box or storage container to help protect your precious jewels. Always have clean wipes or jewelry cleaner, to wipe down and clean your jewels after use. This protects from germs and rusting of your jewelry. Try not to use heavy oils or lotions in the areas where your wearing your jewelry, as well. This can also cause rust, discoloration, and damage to especially costume jewelry. These are just some helpful do’s and don’t tips to help you better maintain your jewels.(4)


popular, as the day goes by. If not for the bride -to -be or prom season, headpieces are definitely a head banging trend you want to be a part of. Now is the time to start thinking outside of the box, when it comes to jewelry. Designers are now going beyond their basic styling and incorporating these jewelry looks into their designs. Why not invest in pieces you can get a lot of wear out of every day? Take the jewelry pendant for example, small

Anytime you sport home-made jewelry, it is sure to be a hit. Handmade jewelry is definitely an “IT” factor! Whether it’s bohemian styled headpieces, flower pieces , rope necklaces, or the newest trend earrings with faces or figures on them, these looks are a sure go to for your everyday looks with a touch of home . Did you know that handmade jewelry is said to be the most expensive jewelry because of how much time, effort, and material is put in just to create it? (2).These different types of styles , colors, textures, and designs makes these pieces extra unique in their own way.


Being an entrepreneur is the most rewarding part of my life, because I get to make women feel and look as beautiful as I do, whenever




I’m wearing one of my pieces. In 2015, I decided with the help of my husband, to start my own jewelry business called “Jewels By Lady (because of the way i carry myself) A” (named after my last name Abernathy) and the rest is history. I’m an independent jewelry consultant, who sells affordable jewels . My line of jewelry started off small and has blossomed into something great. I’m in the process of looking to purchase a small store of my own. My pieces include necklace and earring sets, chokers, bracelets, headpieces, body chains, foot jewelry and much more. One word to describe my business is “BOLD”. All of my pieces are indications of the things 134

I like and how I like to look. Everything in my collection shines and are bold. They are extraordinary pieces you won’t find anywhere else. Be sure to get all the updates on all my jewels and more just follow me on facebook @Jewels By LadyA. See you in the next issue of Glam Factz!! Resources

(3) “Brainy Earring Quotes” (2018). Brainy Quote,Xplore 14 , Retrieved December 14,2018, from www.brainyquote.com/topics/earrings. (4) Mayne, Debby. “Tips for Properly Wearing Jewelry.” (2018). The Spruce, Retrieved December 14,2018, from www.thespruce.com/jewelryetiquette-1216702.

(1) “Old Farmer’s Almanac.” (1991) The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Old Farmer’s Almanac 1991.

(5) Channing, Carol.(2018). “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” Wikipedia Foundation, Retrieved December 14,2018 from wikipedia. org/wiki/Diamonds_Are_a_Girls_Best_Friend.

(2) “Handmade Jewelry, Handcrafted Jewelry.” (2018) Uncommon Goods, Retrieved December 14, 2018, from www.uncommongoods.com/jewelry/ by-collection/handmade-jewlery.

(6) Balkhi, Amanda.(2014). “Top 25 Most Expensive Pieces of Jewelry in the World.” Retrieved December 14, 2018 from https://list25-com.cdn. ampproject.org








THE UPMOST IN EVENT PLANNING & COORDINATING It’s already mid-month and we are still reflecting on our modest but successful first full year of business as event planners and coordinators. 2018 was a phenomenal year, it jump started us into the wedding planning field. We were chosen as a day-of-wedding coordinators for 2 wedding ceremonies and 3 receptions. Our responsibilities were; liaison between the bride and various vendors, organized the wedding rehearsal, set up of the ceremony and reception spaces, decorated both areas, and coordinated the reception timeline. All of these time consuming details were met to insure the bride that she would have an amazing day. Last year also provide the team with other opportunities to design and display our creative abilities. We created unique teacup centerpieces for a women annual fellowship. As a marketing technique to advance our services to the general public, we designed incredible eye-

catching winter wreaths for the holiday season. Which was a perfect way to end the year. With great delight we would like to share our sincere appreciation to all our clients who selected us to create a beautiful atmosphere for their special affairs. 2019 will be a year of fulfillment and expectancy. The team is prepared and eagerly awaits the opportunity to create the perfect design using innovative ideas. This year we’ll be introducing gorgeous color combinations for our new designs. Our color spectrum will range from monochromatic to primary colors with a vibrant twist. Our knowledge and experience have skilled us to accommodate virtually any occasion from large scale corporate conferences to Intimate events such as weddings.







Satisfy the client’s desire by providing an unforgettable event


Handle all the logistics of a function


Visual display of the client’s ideas


Weddings & Receptions, Birthday & Anniversary Parties, Family Reunion & Picnics,

LAUNCH A PRODUCT & MARKETING EVENTS If you are interested in more information about our services, please click, write or call us at: Mailing address: PO Box 93116, Rochester NY 14692-9998 Facebook: @RedTwig Elegant Design, Email: elegantdesign359@gmail.com Website: redtwigelegantdesign.com



Rochester Woman Online is pleased to announce Latiffany Anderson will be joining us as a new writer in our special section “ Sumthin 4 The Sistas”. You may already know Latiffany, from seeing her at RWO events, and seeing her clothing on our runway! Latiffany Anderson is the owner of Kurvie Kulture, a clothing boutique in Rochester, NY. She is also the director of the Miss Kurvie Pageant. In 2013, Latiffany started out styling women in Rochester. One of the women was Yolanda Smilez. One day the women were discussing being plus-sized women and wanted to do something in the Rochester, NY area to uplift women. In 2014, the first Ms. Kurvie Pageant was held, “Ms. Kurvie Upstate”.

to change things for yourself, that is ok. Every day is an opportunity to begin new moments of self-discovery. We all have things about ourselves we would like to change. However, you must love yourself at every point of your journey”. Kurvie Kulture began as a blog in 2012. Latiffany enjoyed expressing herself. She enjoyed connecting with women and inspiring them. The movement all started off with a blog. Then there was an online closet sale. In December 2012, an online boutique and Instagram sales. The sales started to pour in.

My message to any plus-sized young lady struggling with their self-esteem is, “ You are enough. You are beautiful. You have a purpose and there is no one on earth like you. Do not compare yourself to the images you see on social media, movies and TV. Your beauty lies within your confidence. There’s a world that is setup to make you feel like you aren’t loved. You don’t have to conform to societal ideas. If you want

Latiffany shares how being a stylist has changed her life: “Being a stylist, is more than picking out clothing for women. It allows me to connect and engage with a variety of women. Some come to me with an idea of exactly what they want, while others come for complete guidance. Most women come for a styling session and do not expect to leave feeling fulfilled. I take pride in knowing I have an impact on how women feel on the outside, but more importantly on the inside. I like to ask questions about their style leading to conversations about their self-esteem. I am a firm believer that clothing is an accessory to your confidence”. Latiffany looks forward to 2019. She is planning various Ms. Kurvie Pageants, a black artist expo, a retreat centered on Reclaiming your Krown, and Kurvie Kulture’s first fashion show. Latiffany is grateful for all of the blessings she received throughout the years and the status she is currently in, but she still faces challenges and struggles.

Latiffany shares saying, “With the pageant, we were trying to further the Kurvie Kulture (KK) Motto: “Embrace your kurves. Empower yourself. Evolve your life!” I want women who are plus-sized to understand loving yourself, is the first step to having a truly, happy life. I wanted to show society plussize women are beautiful, articulate, alluring and should be celebrated. Being the director of the Ms. Kurvie Pageant, brings so much to my life. It allows me to see the transformation of each contestant. I work directly with them to prepare for the show. My position gives me the honor of guiding them in their confidence journey and it is so rewarding on so many levels.

just make the movement stronger ”

In November 2016, her physical location at 510 State Street in Rochester opened. Additionally, “Reclaiming Our Krowns” emerged. This movement allowed Latiffany to be a mentor. Latiffany says, “In the next five years, I plan to establish the “Reclaiming Our Krown” retreat and a Kurvie Travelers Klub. I will continue to style and contribute to magazines. Celebrating, 11 years of Kurvie Kulture with plans to expand the Ms. Kurvie Pageant including Ms. Kurvie South, and Ms. Kurvie Canada is all a dream come true. At that point, the Ms. Kurvie Pageant will produce 6 Miss Kurvie Teens and 6 Ms. Kurvie Norths! We progress in everything we do, so time will

She states, “Although I am in a place where I feel I am most in touch with who I am as a woman, there’s still some work to be done. I have overcome needing approval from others and the desire to be what society sees as perfect. I struggled for years trying to fit into a mold never designed for me. I battle with my image at times just as some women do, however, I found love within myself and this helps me overcome anything”! Latiffany plans to share with our readers the ability to have an open- mind. She will share lifestyle tips and inspiration. Readers will expect a real perspective on womanhood and a person who is open about everything. she plans to be a reference for the readers who want to evolve into the woman they know they can be. Lastly, she plans to be accessible to all readers!









The journey of self-love is just like the infinity symbol. It’s a constant loop which will never end. The way you feel about yourself, flows into every relationship you have. It is important for us to understand how we feel about ourselves effects every aspect of our lives. In order to be loved, you must love yourself first and then that will follow. I often ask during my styling sessions, “What do you love about yourself?” Many women will instantly name something physical. They will say something like “I love my legs, but I wish they were smaller”. I love my body, but I wish my arms weren’t so big. “I love everything except my stomach”. “My body would be perfect, if I didn’t have back fat”. In those moments I interject and ask “What makes you dislike those parts?” “Who decided that larger parts aren’t something to be celebrated?” “Why don’t you see your whole image as beautiful?” Often, they look at me and say, “I’m not sure” or state “it just is”. I then begin to inform them, “All bodies are beautiful”. Furthermore, all of our body parts, even the ones we want to change are gorgeous. I have to let them know dissecting your body, feeds into what the world wants. Our conversations continue with questions and observations on how they feel about themselves. I try to steer

the conversations into a positive light. MY goal as a stylist is not only to make sure my clients love their outfit, but for them to truly love the woman within the outfit. There is power in self-love. We have to understand that it all starts with our mindset. Directing the MS. Kurvie pageants allows me to dig deeper into the minds

of women who are plus size. Most of our contestants are women who wish they were “confident enough” to grace a stage. Over the years, I’ve heard several women say, “I’m not pretty enough”, or “I’m not like those other plus-size girls, I don’t love myself like them”. There were several contestants I’ve spoken to daily about their struggles and fears

of not being able to match the beauty of the women they were competing against. I am blessed to say, many of the contestants changed how they felt about themselves through the MS. Kurvie Pageant. My personal self-love journey is what allowed me to become a stylist, boutique owner, mentor, and pageant director. It took several years to be in the place I am today. I wasn’t always the secure, self-loving woman I am today. As a teenager, as my hips increased, my self-esteem decreased. I hid my shape, it was a source of embarrassment for me. Most of my friends were smaller in stature, and those who were plus-size didn’t have the same shape as I did. There wasn’t someone I felt could relate or share my struggles. Being uncertain of their reaction to my statements, I then internalized them. I didn’t have any images on TV or in the movies of women who looked like me. There wasn’t a reference of a plus-size woman being celebrated. Many will say, if a young girl has low self-esteem, she wasn’t told she was beautiful. I am a living contradiction of this statement. I was taught to love myself within my family. Although the lessons and “you’re beautiful” statements were always there, I didn’t know how to




love my body. I didn’t know where to begin, I didn’t feel my pear shape was acceptable. No matter who told me I was pretty, it wasn’t until I believed it when I started to see myself differently. Self-love or lack thereof flows directly into each person you interact with. Being confident in yourself shows through your conversations, and how you enter 144

a room. In order to truly love another person, you have to understand who you are, and completely love who you are. There is an image society deemed as perfect. With social media and this rigid view of beauty, women have the constant pressure to be something that is unattainable. We are constantly being force fed images of what we should


look like, and if we do not meet those requirements our self-esteem is instantly attacked. I am on a life long journey to combat those ideas. Every day is an opportunity to take steps forward on the self-love journey.






Hey, everyone! I’m back with a not so traditional contribution this month. If you’ve read my articles, you know that I try to approach things from a positive place, sharing tips and tools I use in my own life to help you live your best life. Using my training as a Life Coach and my perspective from personal experience, I aim to spur you on toward your own success, just as I hope to spur toward my successes as well. But, you know what? I’m only human… and sometimes I fail, too.

During the weeks in which my daughter was gone, I had “all the time in the world” to focus on myself. Theoretically, I had no distractions and no one to take care of but myself. So, I was surprised when it seemed the harder I tried to make positive changes, the harder I fell down- and we’re not talking the graceful kind of fall where you manage not to spill your coffee or drop your purse. Oh no. We’re talking the take-three-steps-and-fall-flat-on-yourface-in-a-crowded- room kind of fall. Did

Every summer, my daughter spends about a month in Minneapolis with her dad’s side of the family. Each year when she leaves, I have some grandiose idea of some gigantic change I’m going to make in my life. Apparently, I haven’t learned enough from my past failures in this arena and this year not only did I have one grandiose goal, I had many sort of grandiose goals totally separate from the big gigantic number one goal. You see, for the first time in a long time, I am at a very stable place in my life. At this time last year I was wasn’t working my dream job, But, this year? Ah, this year how things have changed! I am in my last year of writing my dissertation and as a result I am receiving more opportunities than I know what to do with. I feel like a new person after intentionally taking time to reflect on the things I should keep and the things I should let go. And after many years, I finally did it! So, I can take on the world? Right?

you see it? That was me- falling over and over and over again. Some might even say the most important thing is that I got back up, but I disagree. What is the good in getting back up if we make the same mistakes all over again? No, we can’t just get up and go full-steam ahead. We’ve got to take a minute to gather ourselves and regroup. This is the step I was missing- the regrouping step.

Wrong. So, so wrong.

When we fall down- literally fall, the instinct

is to jump up as fast as we can and act like nothing happened. We think if we keep walking, maybe no one will notice that we just fell. When the truth is, we fell down. It hurt. We may be bruised and not just our ego… if we continue on like nothing happened, we could cause the injury to become worse. If we can swallow our pride long enough to take a deep breath and shake ourselves off, we give ourselves the chance to assess the situation. Are there any broken bones? Am I bleeding? And for me, the most important question: what tripped me up? Until we are able to see what it is that tripped us in the first place, we are bound to trip over the same thing again and again. Here is what I do when I fall (and trust me, I’ve had a lot of practice formulating and using these steps): 1) Take a minute and breathe. Try not to do like I’ve done in the past and flip out. It’s hard, isn’t it, when we want something so bad and then we fall short. Often times the knee-jerk reaction is to get angry and scream, or cry in disappointment. Go ahead and let yourself feel those feelings, but don’t let the feelings overtake you. When I fall hard, I’ll let the emotions consume me for anywhere from ten seconds to ten minutes, depending on how hard the fall. After that amount of time, I gather myself and take the biggest, deepest breath I can muster. Almost immediately, calm starts to replace the feelings of inadequacy or loss. I’m not saying everything will be fixed with



{ REEL TALK } “Tripping is a part of life. When you trip and fall, get up! But, remember: getting back up is only the first step. Take a breath, shake yourself off and kick that stone out of your way! You’ll be on a smoother path before you know it.”

one deep breath, but that one deep breath could make a big difference in the way you take your next steps. 2) Take the time to figure out what tripped you. Was it the size of a pebble, perhaps something as simple as lack of sleep? Or was it big like a boulder such as a bad habit that overtook you or a friend who’s not the best influence in your life? Once you identify what caused you to fall, you can begin to take steps to keep it from tripping you again. 3) After you’ve figured out what tripped you, remove it. This isn’t always as easy as picking up the rock you tripped on and 148

tossing it out of your path. Sometimes, removing the things that trip us up is a process that involves creating new patterns and breaking old habits. As with any change you attempt to make in your life, enlist some support. Vent to a good friend and have someone to help encourage you and hold you accountable. Change can be difficult, and the more supported you feel, the easier the change will be. 4) Learn to laugh at yourself. I once tripped and went flying into the pavement in a parking lot after a meeting with my ex-husband. I laid there, all sprawled


out stunned for a minute, and then I laughed. I laugh now as I retell it. It’s a fact of life: you’re going to fall. You won’t reach all your goals on the first try. So, try not to take life so seriously- learn to let go a little. You’ll be amazed at just how much freedom this will give you. Tripping is a part of life. When you trip and fall, get up! But, remember: getting back up is only the first step. Take a breath, shake yourself off and kick that stone out of your way! You’ll be on a smoother path before you know it.


AKILAH MOORE Rochester Woman Online is pleased to announce health advocate Akilah Moore will be joining us as a new writer in the RWO special section, “ Something 4 The Sistas”. You may recognize Akilah as she was featured in the September 2018 edition of RWO. Akilah Moore is a Teaching Assistant in the Rochester City School District. She enjoys her work there, especially being able to be a positive force working and assisting children of all ages and their families. She did not originally see this as her career choice but is overall happy and finds her work personally fulfilling. She gains her inspiration from being a woman of strong faith. She attends church regularly at Greater Adams Street Church of God by Faith, where she is the President of the Nurse’s Guild. She participates on the church auxiliary. Akilah suffers from sickle cell anemia, which she was diagnosed at birth. In 2013, she became a health advocate, forming the RocCity Sicklers, along with two other survivors. The grass-roots advocacy group focuses on educating the public about the effects of Sickle Cell on family, medical information and society. In 2018, Akilah was recognized for her work in this area receiving the Dr. David Satcher Community Health Improvement Award. This award was given celebrating the advocacy, support and improving the health of the community. Akilah shares with us by saying, “Being 150

a thriving adult with Sickle Cell Anemia has given me a passion for educating and bringing awareness to the disease and it’s effects on the individual, family, the healthcare system and societal views. I have overcome giving in to my sickness. It is a mountain I see and face every day of my life. When I think of other obstacles, I see a “In Progress” sign flashing. I’m faced with overcoming fear, self-doubt and the what ifs in life”.

Akilah attributes her mother and her grandmother as being the most influential people in her life. Her Grandmother is since passed on, but she feels that she remains an “angel among us”. She embodied love and happiness in her family. She wore a smile as if it were the most important thing she put on every day. She showed Akilah’s family love and the importance of showing love to others. She recalls that everyone who met her never forgot her. She left that kind of impression. Her mother is her


best friend. Akilah admires her strength, her gift of giving to others and that she is always there for her. Akilah plans to continue to aid in the efforts she is embarking on with the not-for-profit agency she co-founded, Roc-City Sicklers. This advocacy group was started out of a need. There is a need in the community for better transitional health, adult support and overall awareness in our community. The Roc-City Sicklers is a support group that supports children, adults, and caregivers with coping with Sickle Cell. Monthly meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. She hopes her efforts continue to bring awareness in the community of the disease-process and ways to improve healthcare agendas relating to such. Readers can expect hope, inspiration, strength, humor, and heart when reading Akilah’s column. The column will focus on diseases that affect black women at a much higher rate than others. Each month, she will write about a Sista that has faced illness and disease , with heroism and grace. In efforts to bring to light their journey, with a focus on the disparities in health care concerning the overall health of black women. She hopes to educate black women on taking better care of themselves, the importance of healthcare and being proactive and aware of the things they are most effected by. She looks forward to collaborating with RWO and these special Warrior Chicks!









We’ve all experienced a “life tornado” before, right? You know, that unexpected curve-ball that smacks you in the face, totally whisking you away like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, leaving you chanting to yourself, “There’s no place like home”! Regina_____________, a moth-er with 5 loving children, a wellrespected hair stylist, and the co-owner of Tru Beauty, a suc-cessful salon, one day woke up and her life was forever changed. In June of 2015, Regina was thrown into her own tornado. She was visiting a sick friend who was hospitalized, out of state. No one wants to get sick when they are away. Regina started experiencing extreme headaches. This progressed to nausea, dizziness and pain. Finally, Regina sought medical attention.

around her brain before she reached home. They began to pray as a family. Time was of the essence. Not know-ing how much time she had, she felt as if her brain were a ticking time bomb, that could explode at any minute. She was taken straight to Emergency at Strong Memorial Hospital. The doctors ordered another MRI. While surrounded by family, Regina was given the results. She indeed had a brain tumor. Miraculously, there was no fluid. Relieved and thankful to God

Regina was prepped for an MRI scan of her brain, which can be an intimidating procedure in itself. As Regina was laying inside this big, white, cold and noisy machine, she was in dis-belief. Regina says she was “afraid of the unknown” and felt “just as cold as the room”. It seemed this was a bit much for a headache. As she sat in disbelief, she repeated what the doctors told her in her head, “I have a tu-mor on my brain?” Just like that, thinking she just needed some Tylenol and now they are plan-ning to airlift her to Camden, New Jersey for emergency brain surgery. Regina was devastated, her life was hanging in the balance. Against doctor’s orders, Regina declined to be admitted. The doctor warned Regina to go straight to the emergency room, once she reached Rochester, be-cause he wasn’t sure as to how long she had. She needed the comfort of her family, children and loved ones. Being a woman of faith, she was clear on one thing, she needed her family to pray! While on the eight-hour ride back to upstate New York, she made the call notifying her family. Regina asked them to pray a specific prayer. She asked them to pray the fluid dried up

for answering their pray-er. no emergency brain surgery would take place. Regina was diagnosed with a Grade 1 Meningioma which is a benign brain tumor (non-cancerous) located in the right cerebellum, the area in the brain responsible for regulating movement, co-ordination, breathing, swallowing and balance. The team of Neurologists estimat-ed there was a 5-year window before they had to perform surgery to remove the tumor. Regina joined the “watch-and-wait” list. This is the term assigned for assessing the tumor through MRI. December 23, 2016, 16 months later, Regina started to get back to living a normal life. She went in for her routine doctor’s visit

planning to finish up Christmas shopping with her daughter after, but Regina’s tornado picked up speed. The tumor started to grow rapidly. Brain surgery was back on the table, and much earlier than anticipated. Although Regina was not alone, she had her family, friends and church family praying for her, the whole ordeal began to take a toll. Regi-na experienced many sleepless nights because fear and anxiety haunted her once again. The only thing grounding her was prayer. So, Regina prayed for comfort. On February 2, 2017, with the support of family and close friends Regina underwent a 5- hour brain surgery. Post-surgically, Regina experienced dizziness, fogginess, painful headaches and hand tremors. She felt as if her life was taken away from her. Not only did Regina suffer physical side effects, she also dealt with depression. One can only imagine the mental anguish Regina endured. Walking was now a challenge, after taking five steps she experienced fainting spells. She needed assistance walking longer distances because her balance was also affected. Weight loss, a half-shaven head, coupled with her dependency on others, made her feel defeated. It might sound minor or superficial to some, but to look at herself in the mirror, was hard. All she saw was a 6-inch scar on the right side of her head, where shiny, healthy hair once was coiffed. Regina felt alone, overlooked and that no one understood what she was going through even though her children were right by her side. Regina says, “It takes a special village exuding love, compassion, empathy and patience to take care of a loved ones stricken with an illness”. Family and friends were a blessing in her time of need and recovery. Her journey was longer than she expected, but God has shown her grace and mercy. February 2, 2019, Regina cele-brates what her online support group, “Meningioma Mommas” calls her “Cranniversary”. She can’t believe she survived.



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Profile for Rochester Woman Online

Something For The Sistas Jan 2019  

This is an ALL NEW AMAZING SPECIAL SECTION within the pages of Rochester Woman Online, Rochester's premier professional women's publication....

Something For The Sistas Jan 2019  

This is an ALL NEW AMAZING SPECIAL SECTION within the pages of Rochester Woman Online, Rochester's premier professional women's publication....