Huami Magazine Charleston July/August 2022

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CHARLESTON

July/August 2022 Vol. 1 Issue 11

JenSa Massage Charleston - July/August 2022

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The Benefits and Burdens of Your Assignment A Letter From The Editor

With the onset of each new day, there is always a list of things for me to accomplish waiting for me. I prepare my day based on the available hours; you can probably say that I am routine. I would beg to differ and counter by saying I work better in blocks of time and with a plan in place. I have been fortunate to learn that I don’t efficiently function without one. That’s just me. On the other hand, I am grateful for having something to look forward to doing. While often things may appear overwhelming, I can rest in the fact that God has chosen me for this experience. This is my assignment. It’s not a “why me Lord” question that I ask; instead, it’s a “why not me Lord” affirmation expressed. There are several ways to understand or comprehend God’s assignment upon us. We can face it head-on and work diligently to complete the mission or not. What I find so fascinating is that when God initially blessed me with purpose, I wasn’t shown what the end would be like. He didn’t brief me on the events that would occur, and I must say, there have been some good and some bad ones. If I have learned anything thus far, I know that the same pattern will likely repeat itself at some time or another. Still, once I tapped into God’s presence and listened for His voice, I realized it was time for me to get moving. And that’s what I did. God also gives us the freedom to ignore our assignments. While it’s not wise, running from what God calls us into only delays our destiny and purpose. God’s word says His yoke is easy to bear, and the burden He gives is light. Because I believe His word, my desire to complete my mission is ignited. Even more, I understand that I am not alone in the fight, and someone else is actually carrying the bulk of my load. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and move. The blessing in our assignments is revealed to us once our attitude about the assignment is changed. We can embrace the assignment and trust the process or ignore it. Remember that God gives us a choice. He also blesses us with life; with that gift comes a plan. I encourage you to tap into what God has assigned you to do and enjoy a life full of purpose and promise.

Terry L. Watson 4

www.huamimagazine.com Terry L Watson

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Terry L. Watson Ellen Richardson Dorjea’ McClammey Monica Montgomery

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Ashleigh Crawley Ron Lam Bernard Smith

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CONTENTS

CHARLESTON

JULY/AUGUST 2022

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BVOUI’J Suites

Agatha Grimes

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On The Cover

JenSa Massage

Jennifer Jones

Baker Unified Fitness

Richard Baker

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New Zion Grove Worhsip Center

Stephen Robinson

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Love Monae’ Anthony

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Also Featured

Monique Simone Joe Having and maintaining healthy skin is very important. Her line of skin care products will help you. Huntsville, AL

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Ava Smith She has spent her entire life and career serving and pouring into her community. Learn more about her journey. Greenville, SC

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Charleston - July/August 2022

Bernard Moore III He is the face and founder of Moore & Moore Sports Management. Learn how his story began. Jackson, MS

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JenSa Massage By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Charlie Jones and Trenise Elmore It’s been said the first five years of running a business can be the most challenging period for them. This is typically the period when their survival or demise is determined; statistically, only 50% of small businesses make the cut. For Jennifer Jones, she wants to prove that the numbers aren’t the end of her story. Jennifer is the owner of JenSa Massage. Based in the low country area of Charleston, SC, her company offers traditional massage services such as hot stones, cupping, prenatal, relaxation, and deep tissue massage. She also provides therapeutic massage services that promote relaxation and pain relief. Jennifer shares, “I started my business making house calls to clients and local businesses. The inspiration for my business name came from combining the first three letters of my name, Jennifer, with the first two letters of my zodiac sign, Sagittarius, to create Jensa.” “I got into this line of work with the encouragement of a coworker. While working at a restaurant, I’d massage and knead some of my coworkers’ necks and shoulders after our shift ended. They appreciated it so much and encouraged me to look into it as a career. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It was perfect for me because I genuinely enjoy helping people feel better. Later, I saw an advertisement for Miller-Motte and recognized it as a chance to get in. The 15-month program was one of the best investments I’ve made,” she says. Jennifer has a genuine love for people. The Charleston native and newlywed is also a daughter, sister, auntie, and friend. She also describes herself as energetic, passionate, focused, dedicated, and determined. “My values play a significant role in me owning a service-based business. My parents instilled a strong work ethic into my older sister, my two younger brothers, and me. They encouraged us constantly to strive to better ourselves and help those in need. These values helped me immensely during my days at Miller-Motte Technical College and my career as a massage therapist.” Being a massage therapist offers Jennifer unique opportunities to meet the needs of her clients. She says, “I have been able to meet people from all over the world. Often, clients arrive tense and stressed out due to the pain they are experiencing. However, they leave smiling once their discomfort has been relieved. Knowing I played a small part in their well-being brings me tremendous joy. I aim to make a difference, one client at a time.”

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Jennifer shares that her parents have influenced her life the most and demonstrated the value of hard work and commitment to her and her siblings. “I watched them both work full-time while running a successful business,” she says. Jennifer also credits her mentor for positively impacting and sparking her ambition. “Years ago, I was fortunate to participate in a women’s empowerment business group she conducted. The event educated women on how to start their businesses. She did such a fantastic job preparing me to launch my business.” Jennifer’s entrepreneurship journey has come with some shining moments and a few challenges. She has reached the five-year mark while operating in a brick-and-mortar location; previously, she worked in two spas while running her company and doing home visits. Her transition into opening her doors was smooth, and she’s been blessed with supportive clients. Though there were moments when she had faithfully believed her business would survive. She says, “As a business owner, it takes time to build up your book of clients. I had a client I would see four times a month. That was all the confidence I needed to continue building my business. My goal has always been to provide a comfortable living for herself while offering services that promote relaxation and pain relief. My business is blessed because I’ve stayed focused and dedicated to those goals.”

There isn’t much Jennifer would change about the journey she has experienced in business. She only points out that she wishes she would have bought more materials ahead of time. “I had enough to start, but I should have stockpiled massage sheets over the years. I’ve learned that you can never have too much of anything in business. You never know when you might need it,” she says. Her advice to others who may follow in her footsteps is to first find individuals already in your industry and ask them questions. She advises you to purchase supplies in advance if you can and don’t hesitate to seek assistance. “Your company is a reflection of you. Be steadfast and dedicated, and keep your enthusiasm and motivation alive. Finally, take pride in what you’re doing. Small steps often lead to bigger ones down the road.” In the future, Jennifer hopes to expand her brand and have more space to accommodate more clients. “I’ve been in the same location for five years, and it’s been great, but as my business has grown. I’m also considering hiring an employee to help with administrative duties and light cleaning. This will allow me to focus on what I love most; massage therapy,” she says. To learn more about JenSa Massage, please visit their website. h

JenSa Massage

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www.jensamassage.net 843-330-0633


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Pastor

New Zion Grove Worship Center By Ellen Richardson Photos Provided by Pastor Stephen Rohinson

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15 KJV)

Have you ever felt a calling from our Heavenly Father that didn’t align with the path you thought you were on? Allow us to welcome you to an area pastor who has walked this path and is here to tell you why following your heavenly calling will lead you towards your best life. Born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Pastor Stephen Robinson grew up the youngest child of a faith-filled family of five. He was raised by Pastor Emeritus Ulysses, Jr. and the late First Lady Emeritus Lee Ella Robinson, and began his spiritual journey on a more musical path than that of his father. “As I was growing up, I used to tell my father that I would never preach or pastor,” said Robinson. “Instead, I wanted to sing and perform at various gospel revivals.” This dream began when Robinson was the tender age of three years-old. “My brothers and I performed together at my father’s church revivals. In fact, I sang my first song in front of a large crowd before the age of five. Before long, I was singing regularly at my church, and by the time I was getting out of college, I began singing with a gospel group called Purity.” he said.

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After Purity recorded its first album with PepperCo Records that reigns from Columbia, SC, Pastor Stephen rejoined his equally talented brothers, Bishop Kenneth L. Robinson and Ulysses Robinson, III. “I performed alongside my brothers for 15 years before going out on my own,” said Robinson. “After recording my first album called “I Still Have My Smile”, I really fell in love with the industry. That is until I had a personal encounter with God.” This encounter occurred in 1996 and Pastor Stephen says he was hanging out with his best friend one night when the Spirit of the Lord visited him. “The spirit told me that God had more for me than just singing and performing. He then showed me that he wanted me to preach His Word. This was around 1:00 a.m. in the morning and I remember getting up, driving to my father’s house, and falling into his arms, crying, telling him that I had been called to preach. The best part is that my father already knew I would come to tell him this because the Holy Spirit told him as well that I would be called to preach.” Following this encounter, Pastor Stephen went back to school to obtain his master’s degree in theology from Slidell Baptist Seminary, and later began serving as his father’s assistant pastor at New Zion Grove Baptist Church in 2004. This happened before he stepped into his father’s shoes in 2009. “In August of this year, I will have been serving my home church as its pastor for 13 years. I am so grateful to God for leading me into this role,” he said. Today, through his God given vision of Empowering People for Next Dimension Ministry, Robinson is making every effort to empower and lead his people towards God’s restorative love. “I love seeing people empowered and restored by His love and even seeing marriages restored by His power,” said Robinson. “I believe that God has ordained His people and their families to be empowered by His love in order to ensure that His might strengthens both our communities and churches. These days people need to see a picture of what

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“These days people need to see a picture of what a marriage and family look like inside of the church, and I believe that the enemy is very busy targeting these families because he knows that the stronger they are, the better the community, as well as the church and other ministries, will be.”

a marriage and family look like inside of the church, and I believe that the enemy is very busy targeting these families because he knows that the stronger they are, the better the community, as well as the church and other ministries, will be. As someone who knows the challenges that the enemy can have on both a marriage and family, it has been my mission to help these families be healed through God’s spirit of love.” What does the future look like for this servant of The Lord? “I aspire to lead my family and my flock by being the example of what it looks like to walk through trying and tough times with the help of God,” said Robinson. “I always say that the world may change, but God never changes, and I just want to show others what it looks like to lead knowing this.” To find out more about Pastor Robinson and New Zion Grove Worship Center, please visit their website. h

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Bernard Moore Moore & Moore Sports Management

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By Dorjea’ McClammey Photos Provided by Bernard Moore III Bernard Moore III of Jackson, MS, is the founder of Moore & Moore Sports Management. Ever since he was a kid, sports was the one thing that always kept Bernard sane. His choice of sports was versatile, while his top three were baseball, basketball, and football, with football being his all-around favorite. His journey began when a member of his neighborhood was trying to do something better for the community by recruiting young boys to play sports for the park recreational team. The connection was made, and Bernard and his brother instantly liked football. From there, he says it blossomed. During the Summer of 2005, Bernard worked with a college teammate with hopes of figuring out a way to help his community. “I wanted to organize an event for the Walter Paige Scholarship Foundation, but while working on that, tragically, Hurricane Katrina hit and wiped out all of our hard work. After that, I was back at the drawing board and decided the best way to accomplish my goal was to combine my love for sports and become a sports agent,” he says. Thus the creation of Moore and Moore Sports Management. To get started, he researched how the field of sports management differs between different leagues and sports sections. He made connections, and things began to move for Bernard, but he still wanted to know more. So he began searching for a mentor and called different agencies in the Mississippi area, yet they all rejected him. Still, Bernard stood firm. “I told them I wanted to learn the game, and I will have my own agency,” he says. Soon he connected with an attorney, Benjamin Wilson, with the Beveridge and Diamond law firm and taught Bernard how to get started. He says the information he obtained from Benjamin Wilson laid the groundwork for how he runs his agency now. Benjamin Wilson gave Bernard the entire client list they worked on together. However, Bernard had not received his certification to work with NFL and NBA clients. Not to be denied, he found a way to work with clients by becoming a consultant until receiving his certification to become a full-time agent. By 2010 Bernard was on his own, branching out into different fields such as managing and consulting college athletes, former coaches, and even triple-A athletes, also known as the highest level in minor league baseball. With his business continuing to grow, clients began to ask for Moore’s help in planning events such as fundraisers, sponsorships, and advertising. Now, Moore & Moore Sports Management offers many services, including Marketing, Endorsements, Sponsorship Services, event planning, draft preparations, and so much more. He also contracts other professionals for mental health counseling and financial planning services.

“Use the gifts that God has blessed you with, and continue to be a helpful hand in society and all you do.”

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Like any other business, Bernard has seen his share of challenges. He says the Covid 19 pandemic put a hold on many of his events, a delay lasting nearly two years. “With the restrictions in place, many venues were closed, and even with the ones I could obtain, many fans could not attend. This hurdle resulted in a loss in profit,” he says. However, it didn’t stop everything; Bernard would continue his sponsorships and fundraisers online and even worked with radio stations in the area to help spread the word. Speaking of community work, Bernard has worked with many individuals and organizations in and around Jackson, including Butterflies by Grace, Designed by Faith, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation Mississippi Chapter. He has also worked with Jackson Public Schools Athletics, of which he is a proud product of. Out of all the perks, Bernard loves seeing his clients succeed. As for his inspiration, he says that just doing the will of God inspires him to move forward. ”God blessed me with the ability to play football throughout college,” he says. For anyone looking to follow in his footsteps, Bernard says never to let anyone dictate what your outcome may be because you are in control of your creation. “If you want success, you must work hard for it.” Bernard says to expect nothing but growth for the future of Moore and Moore Sports Management. He plans to continue helping individuals who want to flourish in their careers and to be a willing vessel for God to use. He leaves with a quote from the Bible from Corinthians 12: “Use the gifts that God has blessed you with, and continue to be a helpful hand in society and all you do”. Please visit their website to learn more about Bernard Moore and Moore and Moore Sports Management. h

Bernard Moore III www.mms-management.com 601-260-3509 18

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BOUVI’ J Suites 20

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By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Howard Gaither Have you ever Googled yourself? Go ahead… Try it. You may or may not be surprised at what you find. If you Google Agatha Bouvi’J Martin Grimes, you would find twenty years of business savvy and a smile that makes you feel at home. If you have spent time talking to Agatha, you wouldn’t be surprised. Agatha and her husband John are owners of Bouvij’s Enterprises, located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Agatha started in the beauty industry in 1995 and has been building a legacy of service and entrepreneurship ever since. “Service is a large part of who I am as a wife, mother, and business owner,” Agatha explains. “I’ve been in the business of servicing customers as a stylist for over twenty years, and my chair was always booked because I learned from childhood to treat people the way you want to be treated,” she says. Family and community are extremely important to Agatha and John. They have one son, Danny J. Martin Jr., and a nine-month-old granddaughter Demi Noel Martin. For this couple, It’s not enough to be a business owner and entrepreneur. They believe that the blessing is not just for them but everyone. “Our goal is to build a legacy of entrepreneurship that can be passed on to Danny, his daughter Demi, and her children. But we can’t grow as a community if we don’t work together to make it happen.” This was never truer than in the past two years. The pandemic damaged the economy in ways the US hadn’t seen in decades. Not only did we lose loved ones, many lost jobs, homes, and financial stability. Agatha credits her husband, John, as the visionary for their newest joint venture, Bouvij Business Suites, and Enterprises. “Bouvier’s is my middle name, and the J is from John’s name, hence Bouvij,” she explained. Bouvij Enterprises are a combination of smaller companies that Agatha and John own. They include a home improvement business, a commercial covid cleaning service, and their newest business venture Bouvij Suites. “Bouvij Suites are business spaces that entrepreneurs can rent as they build or expand their business. It’s essentially a platform for new business owners a running start,” John explains. “Any business owner will tell you that the biggest obstacle is finding quality spaces to rent,” Agatha interjects. “We toured some of the spaces people work out of, and it’s unbelievable. Either the rent is sky high, or the landlords are basically slum lords. Bouvij Suites give entrepreneurs who are serious about creating a business that people want to patronize the opportunity to do more with less capital.”

502 Four Seasons Town Center Greensboro, NC 27407 336-254-1555

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Bouvij Suits aren’t just for those in the beauty or cosmetology industry. The suits can be customized on a fundamental level to meet most every need. “The way we see it, everyone can have a nice, clean, upscale business environment without having to go to other neighborhoods and paying exorbitant monthly rental fees,” Agatha shares. Unfortunately, the African American beauty salon isn’t always shown in the best light. Businesses in urban communities have been given the reputation that because they are black-owned, they are sub-par. Some business owners believe that to attract and maintain quality customers, they must leave their communities. Agatha and John are attempting to prove the naysayers wrong. “We want to keep our business and our dollars in our community,” John explains. “I don’t have a problem with other races, but I want to see more of “us” doing better,” Agatha shared also. Bouvij Suits are more than just brick and mortar. Renters are given the basic requirements to get started in their rental space. The suits are well kept, and there is 24-hour security and monitored security cameras. “Safety is a big selling point for our renters. Any business owner worth their salt wants a location where their customers and clients feel comfortable visiting. Reputation will only get you so far. When your clients see that you have taken basic steps to give them comfort and peace of mind, they will return and bring others with them,” John said. “All of these things are about servicing or serving our community,” Agatha emphasizes. “By creating a quality space for businesses to exist, we attract quality businesses, which attracts customers who want a quality product. It creates opportunities to generate income, jobs, taxes revenue, and that all works to elevate the community and the people in it,” Agatha says passionately. As community leaders, Agatha and John work to set the example of what can be achieved if you put your mind to it. “As God has blessed us, we want to be a blessing. After twenty years of marriage and running a business, there is so much I have to share.” Agatha spends a lot of time giving back to support her community. “We helped set up a location so people could come and receive the covid vaccine. We feed the hungry, especially during covid. My husband makes a point to hire men who may need a second chance or someone willing to take a chance on them. We understand that everybody needs help sometimes.”

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Agatha says her area is mentoring young women. “Young women are attracted to me for some reason. Well, I know the reason. It’s because I’ve been where they are. I know what it’s like to be in a bad relationship and struggle with self-worth. I pray that something I’m doing or saying to them is helping them see themselves as worthy. Sometimes all I can do is try to be an example of what is possible,” Agatha admits. “When I started, I had no money, but I knew what I wanted for myself.” Although Bouvij Suites doesn’t offer a mentorship program, Agatha and John are always willing to give new renters the benefit of their wisdom. “We try to offer new entrepreneurs the wisdom we’ve learned over the years. Some accept it, and some don’t. The offer is two-fold. Some new business owners may have a great idea but don’t have a good execution plan. As a result, they find themselves struggling to pay rent three months in. Our goal for all of our renters is long-term success. If that means giving them a little encouragement or a word of advice here or there, we are more than willing.” Agatha and John say they experience the same things most business owners do, but for the most part, they have been blessed. If they had any regrets, it would be not recognizing the power of oneness earlier in their journey. “I believe we could have been much further along in our business endeavors if we had understood partnership a long time ago,” Agatha admits. “I have many people ask for advice about going into business with their life partner or spouse. I often tell them if I knew what I know now,” she says with a laugh. “My husband is quiet and unassuming, but he is the man with the plan. John is very detail-oriented and helps keep things in focus. We talk about building our community and working together to elevate our people. First, we have to learn to have faith in God, the man or woman he ordained to be in our lives. If you are with the person God has for you, there is no question of partnership in life or business. Together we build.”h

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Baby MAGAZINE

Cutest Baby

Love Monae’ Anthony The daughter of Alneshia Torian

To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to huami.cutestbaby@gmail.com

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Symonious Fusion By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by C. Moore For Monique Simone Joe, having and maintaining healthy skin is a family affair. Not only does she believe in the importance of having healthy skin for herself, being a Black woman encapsulated in melanin, but her passion is expressed with her husband and children. Monique is the face and owner of Symonious Fusion, a skincare company based in Huntsville, AL, that produces handmade soaps, body scrubs, body butters, and more. Monique shares that the name of her company is a fun take on her middle nameSimone, and it represents a perfect fusion of mind, body, and spirit. Her products are designed to be an alternative to harsh manufactured soaps and other products, and everything is made with the best natural ingredients. She has a women’s care line, a men’s care line, and a soon-to-be-released kid’s care line. Her journey to becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur began with her having confidence in herself and her products. She shares, “Symonious Fusion was birthed during quarantine season August 2021. The world was dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, which was a very stressful period for adults and children. Lives were turned upside down, and people had to adjust to unfamiliar situations. Self-care became a mandatory survival concern, and I felt Symonious Fusion was a likely solution. I knew people needed something to look forward to, and one of the things I heard most was individuals wanting a few quiet minutes alone to take a nice relaxing bath.”

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Monique also believes that the five senses are very important when it comes to self-care. Knowing this, she wanted to make a product that would satisfy as many senses as possible. Using the feedback of her customer base, who expressed their desire for products that smelled good and were safe for their skin, Monique set her sights on developing products that would meet their needs. “Many products out there have such harsh chemicals, even for me. While I love a lot of the smells, my skin can’t handle the chemicals. I started researching, asking questions, and experimenting. I began with self-care products for my family and friends, but as the word spread, the demand grew, and the next thing I knew, Symonious Fusion was born. I was able to do it and meet the needs of my clients because my products smell good, feel good, and are good for your skin,” she says. Monique describes herself as a lover of life. “Everything that God has placed in my life makes me who I am. I value my relationship with God and strive daily to show myself through my family and friends and live out my purpose. I love taking care of my family and shaping the futures of my kids while having fun at the same time. I love to take care of others, but I try to remember not to neglect myself,” she says. She has enjoyed 22 years of marriage with her husband Timothy, and they share three children. What Monique loves most about her business is being able to create something useful and safe for everyone to enjoy. “I also love the creative process and being able to experiment with different scents, designs, and recipes. Honestly, I did not consider myself a creative before Symonious Fusion, but I guess I am,” she says. She shares she finds inspiration in various people and things, yet the person who has inspired the most is her mom. “She is God fearing, hard working, very smart, resourceful, resilient, funny (in her older age), and the wisest person I know. If I turn out to be half the person she is, I have done well,” Monique says.

Monique Simone Joe Symonious Fusion

www.symoniousfusion.com 256-756-7267

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Being an entrepreneur has its share of challenges. There are good days and some notso-good days. For Monique, she states there isn’t much she would change about her journey in business. “I’m taking it one step at a time and enjoying the process,” she says. The future looks bright for Symonious Fusion, and with Monique’s creativity and determination, things should only get better. To learn more about Symonious Fusion, please visit their website. h


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Richard Baker Baker Unified Fitness

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By Dorjea’ McClammey Photos Provided by Richard Baker It’s never too late to get physically fit. Without question, being physically active promotes good health and positively impacts mental health. This is the arena where Richmond, VA resident Richard Baker excels. He is the founder of Baker Unified Fitness. Richard has operated in the fitness industry for over 12 years. Not only is he knowledgeable in everything fitness, but he also has a background in elementary education and previously worked as a social worker for eight years. Richard’s chosen profession didn’t happen by chance. For the most part, his journey in life has led him to it. He has played sports, beginning at age seven. This included everything from track and field, basketball, baseball, and his favorite sport, football. His passion for recreation led to him becoming a coach at Chowan University in Virginia, which happens to be the same school where he played sports. After coaching at Chowan, he moved to Richmond and continued to coach and build up his clientele. In 2017, Richard’s brother, an entrepreneur, gave him the idea to branch out and start his own fitness company. “From the student-athletes and parents I trained, my brother saw my potential before I did. He took a picture of some cash and texted it to me asking if I was ready and to start looking for rental spaces,” Richard shares. From there, Richard got straight to work, pricing all the equipment he would need, setting up the studio, putting in floorboards, and building just about everything from the ground up. With only one client at the time, Baker Unified Fitness was born. Since its conception, the brand has done nothing but flourish. Baker Unified Fitness, or “BUF” for short, offers essential personal training fitness with a twist. Richard calls it “Partner Training”, which allows clients to bring friends or partners to join them in training. He says this makes them feel more comfortable, motivated, and accountable. Another way Richard has grown his business is by renting out his fitness space to other independent trainers and for fitness events. Richard shares that his favorite type of training is Group Fitness. “The Group Fitness represents the brand’s culture,” he says. Richard always promotes accountability, and his community and clients latch on to that. He shares, “They have a sense of community and pride about our brand because that is what we talk about. It all has to do with the kind of energy you get when you’re in our space. It’s not just a gym. Clients don’t just come in to work out and leave; they stick around and connect, strengthening their community.”

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Baker Unified Fitness also offers training outside the gym, such as their annual hike. Once a year, Richard takes his clients on a hike about an hour away into the mountains. Additionally, during the spring and summer, they offer outdoor pop-up training sessions across Richmond. Baker Unified Fitness also brings in guest speakers who not only talk about fitness but nutrition as well. While the journey has been incredible, Richard also points out a few challenges he’s faced. Some of them were a lack of resources and being a first-time entrepreneur. He shares he did not have disposable income to achieve everything he wanted. Through it all, he continued to grow, build, and learn everything he could and be open to adapting and adopting new services and making his business unforgettable. He’s joined business organizations with resources and seminars which have connected him with other business owners and entrepreneurs. “Those things have allowed me to take my business to the next level,” he says. Richard says his biggest inspiration is his family. He says that watching his daughter grow reminds him how much he loves helping people develop in every aspect of his life. Richard offers clear advice for anyone looking to follow in his footsteps. “Seek information, and whatever you learn, apply it! The biggest thing that ever helped me was when I looked for information and asked questions. Doing these gave me the knowledge I needed to be a successful business owner.

Richard Baker

Baker Unified Fitness

www.bakerunifiedfitness.com 804-592-1867

Moving forward, only expect the best out of Baker Unified Fitness. They plan on reaching the next level of becoming a corporate fitness business. “We would love to take our whole style, energy, and swag and just drop it in a company,” says Richard. They also plan to continue to offer classes and personal training and share their fitness plans with others. He concludes by sharing, “Many people see fitness and become intimidated. I hope people can understand the true benefit of fitness, incorporate it into their lives, and adopt it as a lifestyle.” To learn more about Richard Baker and Baker Unified business, please visit their website. h

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I’m Here To Serve

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Latisha Miles

She is known for her unceasing devotion to serving others, an attribute the Upstate area of South Carolina has grown to cherish and appreciate. Without hesitancy, she eagerly answers the call to assist in any way, whether in business or from a personal perspective. In addition to leading and serving, Ava Smith is also an accomplished entrepreneur. She is the owner of Flat Fee Recruiting and Ava Smith & Associates. Flat Fee Recruiting is a permanent placement recruiting firm that provides quality employees at affordable rates. It also assists companies in various industries and with all types of vacancies. Ava Smith & Associates is a full-cycle HR Consulting firm that operates as an outsourced HR Manager or Director for small businesses, non-profits, and ministries throughout the United States. Some offered services include onboarding, compliance, benefits, risk management, wellness, and training. The New Jersey native holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Human Resource Management from Limestone University and is a Lifetime Member of the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society. She has over 25 years of experience as a Human Resources Professional. That includes employee relations, compliance, recruitment, retention, and training. Ava began her career in the non-profit sector and shifted into manufacturing, the corporate arena, and staffing. Throughout her career, Ava progressively moved upward in her positions, serving in various roles from HR Assistant to HR Director. In August 2002, Ava began her own firm, HR Specialties, which specialized in providing HR services, training, and recruiting. She later expanded this firm by adding additional experts and rebranded it into what is now widely known as Ava Smith & Associates. In 2010, she formed a permanent placement agency called Flat Fee Recruiting. Her agency received the Minority Business of the Year Award in 2013 through the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. Ava is also a noted Diversity Trainer and has delivered hundreds of sessions throughout the Southeast since 2005. Her clientele involves corporations, manufacturers, non-profits, service organizations, government officials, municipalities, universities, hospital systems, local chambers, and faithbased organizations. Ava is known for her unique style and approach that captures her audience’s attention, allowing them to discuss diverse topics easily. Even more, she was the Recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Diversity Award, given by the Greenville, SC Chapter of SHRM.

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Ava has served the Upstate of South Carolina in various roles, including current Board Member with the Simpsonville Area Chamber of Commerce, current Board Member with The University Center of Greenville, Board Member with Greenville Technical Charter High School, Board Member with Junior Achievement (Greenville, SC), Diversity Director of the SC Society of Human Resource Management State Council, Advisory Board Member with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Steering Committee Member with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Advisor with Greenville Chamber of Commerce CAPACITY Builders program, Chair with Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s Greenville Women at Work (GW@W) initiative, Advisory Board Member for Virginia College, Advisory Board Member for ECPI School of Technology, Board Member for the Greenville Society of Human Resource Management (GSHRM), Chair of the Diversity/Inclusion Committee for GSHRM, President of the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Greenville, Board Member of Fostering Great Ideas, Advisory Board Member for Clemson Small Business Development Center, Steering Committee Member for MLK Dream Weekend, a member of the Clemson CU-ICAR Diversity Committee, and member of the Greenville Technical College Multicultural Advisory Board. These accomplishments and contributions have resulted in her being honored extensively. How did Ava get to where she is now? She says, “I originally started my career in accounting. After obtaining a two-year certificate, I became a bookkeeper for a large finance company. I thought I was destined to have a 10key calculator under my hand until I retired. However, a restructure left me without a position. As a single mom, I had no choice but to pursue any vacancy I could find to make ends meet. After searching for several weeks, I found a position at a local non-profit that would change the trajectory of my life.” Her career in HR began when Ava was only 24 years old. “At that time, the industry called it the “Personnel Department”. My job description had two line items. I was to pass out applications and answer the phone. I was unsatisfied with those simple tasks and began asking for more responsibility. A year-and-a-half later, I was the HR Manager of a facility with 400 employees. As my career continued, I would eventually hold HR roles in various industries,” she says. Ava says while serving in her previous HR roles, she realized a common need for employees accompanied by the inability of their small budgets to cover the cost of staffing. To address this, in 2009, she launched Flat Fee Recruiting. When asked what she loves most about what she does, Ava shares how she loves bringing solutions. “I am a problem solver for businesses that need HR support without having the workload that requires a full-time position. I also love being a part of their business strategy team. My clients include me in their vision and long-term plans, and I assist them with walking it out,” she says.

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Ava shares how she finds inspiration in her children and grandchildren. “I always want to be their role model, and knowing they look to me as an example pushes me not to give up. I am also inspired by my father, who recently passed away. He left such a feeling of “legacy” that it has shown me that I am not only working for what is in front of me, I am also working for what I plan to leave behind,” she says. Becoming an entrepreneur, Ava says, was not something she had planned to do. “I was not prepared, and I had to identify training and learning opportunities to gain knowledge on how to be successful. I was challenged by having to build a network with other business owners and people that could support me on this journey. Being open-minded and believing that failing could still be a form of winning helps me overcome challenges on a daily basis.” For anyone who is considering starting a business, Ava offers some advice that may be of assistance. “Knowledge is power. If you are pursuing entrepreneurship, take business courses, be aware of what your legal and financial obligations will be so that you will be prepared. If you are currently in business, continuously find ways to stay innovative and an expert in your field. Choose yourself even when you feel like no one else will.” Please visit her website to learn more about Ava Smith and her companies. h

Ava Smith & Associates Ava@YourFullCycleHR.com 864-448-0939

Flat Fee Recruiting www.flatfeehiring.com 864-326-4211

Celebrating Fifteen Years of Acknowledging Black Excellence

2007 - 2022

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Commercial Lending

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