Huami Magazine Charlotte Jan./Feb. 2023

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The Queen City

CHARLOTTE ® Jan./Feb. 2023 Vol. 4 Issue 11
Kreative Designs by Kim fromdreamtorealities Customized Designs & Unique Event Decor Follow me on Linkedin/in/kimberly-perkins Instagram/Facebook @ kdkp69 Event Designer/Owner 336-587-8886

My Dreams Are Windows To My Freedom

I am a self-proclaimed dreamer. Many of the things I possess or may be involved with, at some point, I probably dreamed about it. Being physically fit, I dreamed about losing all the weight I was carrying around while stuffing my face with food. Singing in the church choir, I dreamed about it, while practicing in my car over one of WOW Greatest Gospel productions.

In short words, I will typically act on something if I dare to dream about it. I have used the gift to dream while sinking in some of my lowest moments. I wanted more, and dreaming of something better made it almost feel like I was there. I learned that there is power in what we dream about.

In that same breath, my dreams have been filled with thoughts of hope and sometimes regret. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would. If I could reverse some of the experiences of my life, I would. If I had the ability to reach back into my past and open some of the doors that were shut and close some that I walked through, I would. One might ask me why, and my response is quite direct; I would if I could.

Now, it’s not my intent to sound as if I do not appreciate the life God has blessed me with. My message is quite the opposite. I love my life and all that has helped to make it what it is. Still, I wish I could have avoided some unnecessary experiences. However, I am wise enough to know that everything has been necessary. It is all part of God’s plan for me.

Acknowledging and accepting where and how my life began instills a sense of reality into my heart. Dreaming of places where I wish I could be also encourages me to keep striving for that which is greater.

My message is simple. Life is but a whisper, and I refuse to get lost in the chaos and confusion. There is way too much for me to do, and if I never achieve all that I dream of, I will remain enthusiastic about what tomorrow promises. Tomorrow, if it comes, is provided by God. And when God blesses me with another day to live, He also blesses me with another day to dream and get to work.

Terry L Watson Publisher Dorjae McClammey Writer Monica Montgomery Writer Joy Rogers Writer

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By Terry L. Watson - Photos Provided by Todd Youngblood
City Ronell BRockington 704.492.7222 AdRiAn SloAn MichAel “Big tAj” joneS 848-469-3252 Facebook@ JD Davis IG@ Mr_Please_Believe 704.492.7222 jd dAviS 704-858-3790 tiMothy FowleR
The Queen

Timothy Fowler Boys to Men Foundation

Timothy Fowler of Charlotte, NC, is the founder of Boys To Men Foundation. His organization provides thousands of boys, ages (9-17) who are referred through partnerships with local school districts and juvenile court systems) with positive alternatives and a robust support network. The mentoring program presents opportunities for enrichment, exposure, support, and guidance through group mentoring sessions led by trained volunteers and mentors. They also connect young men with consistent, positive male role models who foster effective relationships, community involvement, interactive teaching, and open communication in a loving and nurturing environment.

Timothy was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He grew up in a household with seven kids and says his father took care of them and ensured they always had a roof over their heads. Today, Timothy is a father of a teenage son, and he has a daughter who attends Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. Timothy graduated from Medgar Evers College with a BA in Elementary Education in 1995. He has worked as a Pre-K teacher for nearly 30 years. His first teaching position happened at P.S.190 in Brooklyn, and upon moving to Charlotte in 2005, Timothy worked as a Pre-K teacher at Morehead Stem Academy. Currently, he works as a Pre-K teacher at Highland Renaissance Academy.

Upon graduating from Medgar Evers College, Timothy began a career in education and has served as a role model for young people ever since. In 2008, he founded the Boys to Men Foundation. BTM’s workforce development benefits two groups: It builds character for mentees as they acquire knowledge, skills, and aptitude for gainful employment. It also benefits employers who participate in the apprenticeship program by providing an effective means of communication with a familiar candidate pool, helping to meet their demand for stellar employees.

Timothy’s desire to serve started a long time ago. He shares, “Back in my hometown of Brooklyn, I first noticed the nonexistent presence of positive male role models in underprivileged communities. Out of this need, I started my quest to counsel young teens through programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. I was a Big Brother for over five years and worked at the YMCA, and I continue to be active today. As a young male, I would always strive to bring people of all walks of life together. While attending Medgar Evers, I started a program called the Black and Latino Male Initiative. The initiative’s goal was to bring males together to discuss common issues affecting society at that time. When I moved to Charlotte, I continued that initiative by starting the Boys to Men Foundation.”

Timothy understands that he must care about others who need help outside his immediate family. “It’s a selfless act to fight for someone who is virtually a stranger until that relationship unravels. Ninety percent of our boys come from single-parent households. For these young men to have someone they can trust enough and be vulnerable with to reach out when they need help is invaluable,” he says.

Timothy says his life was greatly impacted by his grandmother, who lived in Wilmington, NC. As a young boy, he would travel there every summer to visit her. He witnessed her give back to her community and how she poured into anyone, regardless if they were members of her family. This explains why he loves giving people new experiences and watching them grow. “Every day is different. I always tell my mentees they help me grow just as much as we help them,” he shares.

For BTM, Timothy says operational funding is always tough. “There are a lot of non-profits that all need funding, so it’s a competitive environment. Fortunately, we have cultivated some great relationships with local businesses. Finding good people to help me carry out this organization’s vision and mission has also been a challenge. Yet, we are moving ahead and always looking for good people to help us,” he says.

Timothy says BTM’s goal for the upcoming year is to form more partnerships with local businesses and corporations to aid in their effort to empower young men. h


Ronelle Brockington

While the Covid 19 pandemic ravished the world, some opportunities were created in response to its madness.

Ronelle Brockington of Charlotte, NC, is the founder of CoviLab, a diagnostic laboratory testing facility that is also based in Charlotte. His company offers Laboratory testing services, including RSV, Flu, Covid, Drug Testing, Urinalysis, Blood Panels, and DNA Testing. They also provide fingerprinting and photography services for Passports and can conduct background checks for employers. Recently, CoviLab launched a medical courier service to assist doctors and labs with transporting their specimens promptly. “Our niche is our turn around time is faster than anyone in our local or surrounding markets. Almost all of our results are the same day,” Ronelle says.

Ronelle is a family man. He is a husband and a father of two boys and two beautiful girls. In addition to being a real estate investor, he is a United States Navy veteran. He has Phlebotomist and Project Management Professional Certifications. Ronelle also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Project Management.

Ronelle says, “We started CoviLab at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. I owned a clothing company, but the pandemic shut down online clothing distributors. Most of them were located in China. My distributor couldn’t make clothes, so I asked him to make masks. We started selling cloth masks and KN95 versions to people who couldn’t get them but wanted to pay for them. We also gave some away for free to healthcare workers. After seeing how covid was spreading, I knew I wanted to help more. I started to obtain certifications in the healthcare industry, and with experience, I decided to start my own lab. We chose the “first ward” uptown area of Charlotte because it’s one of our city’s most historically black areas and where our services are most needed.”

Ronelle says nothing makes his heart smile more than helping senior citizens determine why they feel ill. He gets the same enjoyment when a traveler comes to see them at the last minute because of CoviLab’s proximity to the airport and ability to produce rapid results. He also finds inspiration in waking up another day and having another chance at life. “Another day to breathe. Another chance to go get it right,” he says.

Word of mouth has been the biggest impact on Ronelle’s business so far. It has allowed CoviLab to penetrate the market for half the spending costs compared to its big-box competitors. Ronelle says his ability to get results out fast makes the difference. “Operating in the medical field is not easy. Our goal was to get the word out to everyone. Many of our marketing efforts were being flagged and canceled online because it entailed covid testing. We had to find ways to overcome those challenges. I believe that in business and life, you will face challenges daily. It’s all about how you respond to the challenge,” he shares.

The future plans for CoviLab are to further the connections made with its nonprofit arm, “Covilab Community”. This program serves the elderly, immuno-compromised, and underserved communities of Charlotte by donating high-quality KN95 masks and home covid testing.

Ronelle’s advice to others who may follow a similar path as he has is very clear. Proper preparation. “If you properly prepare for whatever you want to get into by educating yourself, all that’s left to do is jump. Some people are afraid of the preparation. Some people are afraid of the jump. If you jump before you are properly prepared, you will fall almost every time. Preparation is the first step. If you properly prepare and still decide to take this path, then it’s meant for you,” he says. h


Michael “Big Taj” Jones

Micheal “Big Taj” Jones is a king amongst kings in the queen city of Charlotte, NC. He is also a man of many talents. On one level, he serves as a celebrity freelance barber; on the other, he is a comedian, host, and film and tv show producer.

He was born in Monmouth County Red Bank, New Jersey. He attended school in Tinton Falls, NJ. While in high school, he enrolled in Monmouth County Vocational for Auto Mechanics. He also attended Freehold Vocational School and Asbury Vocational School and studied Cosmetology. Currently, Michael is a Full Sail University’s Online Digital Cinematography student.

In 1999, he transitioned to Charlotte, mainly due to family members already living there. He shares, “My Grandfather, Kingdom Reevey and Roberta Hart Reevey lived in the Hidden Valley community in Charlotte, and that is why I came here.”

As a master barber, Michael uses his creativity to make others look good and feel great about their appearance. Using his other talents, he has formed ALC Entertainment. Launched in Cobb County, GA, in 2007, ALC Entertainment, his company offers styled haircuts and beauty supplies. He also provides celebrity-style haircuts and is known for entertaining his clients while cutting their hair. “I am a comedian, and my barbershop helps to prepare me for the stage and when it’s time for me to host,” he says.

Michael says what he loves most about what he does is making others feel good about themselves. That is, with a haircut, by purchasing his products, or while being entertained by him on stage. He says real-life experiences inspire him, and that raw, explicit comedy keeps him balanced. He also acknowledges his father. Ronald Jones for helping shape him into the man he is today.

Being an entrepreneur has its perks, and it also has its share of challenges. For Michael, he identifies one that could cripple any business if left unattended. “People steal items as if cameras don’t tell the whole story. This is why I have my alarm systems in place, such as ADT, CPI, and RING. I also allow the local Sheriff’s Department to do their job,” he says.

As Michael looks forward to the future, he has set some pretty exciting goals. Besides cutting hair at 34th Design Barbershop in the University area of Charlotte, he plans to open an event space and open at least two more within the next three years. “I would like to open as many rental spaces as possible,” he says. He also plans to perform comedy karaoke all over Charlotte and surrounding areas.


Adrian Sloan Elite Financial Services LLC

Adrian Sloan is a business, not just a businessman. He is also someone who doesn’t accept no for an answer.

The Salisbury, NC, native is a serial entrepreneur, having several businesses and brands credited to his name. He is also a father to four amazing and beautiful kids; Kazai, Adriana, Dezaiah & Kadrian. While the business and the successes he’s enjoyed may appear to drive Adrian, he shares the opportunity to pour into others and help them realize their genuine potential is the true reason.

Adrian attended North Rowan High School in Salisbury. He has received a two-year Degree in Business Administration Marketing & Retailing. He also attributes his business success to mentors and coaches and the live business experience; some things he says have helped him learn the art of business.

Adrian has been in business for over twenty years. One of his brands, Elite Financial Services, LLC, launched in 2015, with Adrian working with other Fortune 500 Companies in upper management positions. During this period, he launched a start-up company and became a licensed financial advisor in 2010. He says, “I decided to put all my skills together to start my own Financial Services company that would allow clients to receive business consulting for their brand and have access to sufficient insurance and investment products; these are necessary tools to build a sound financial portfolio.”

Some of the products and services Adrian company offers are Business Consulting, Marketing Strategies, Financial Advising, Insurance Products, Universal Life Products, and Fixed and Variable Annuities. He also says the opportunity to help others is what he loves most about being in business. “I enjoy seeing business owners explain their vision and seeing their bellies burn when they explain the vision for their business. I also appreciate the opportunity to present a business strategy of how we can accomplish their goals. Once their business is optimized at the level they desire, their expressions are priceless. It always feels good helping clients accomplish their goals and dreams,” he says.

Adrian says he is inspired by freedom and knows his life is created from his thoughts and actions. “Everyday, I execute my plans knowing that I enjoy the freedoms from 20 years of business dedication.”

The legacy of his father, Adrian says, has impacted him more than anything. “I find comfort in knowing that I had to put my work in as he did to ensure my children would be willing to carry the legacy forward in the same level of excellence and honor that I did for him,” he says.

Business has been challenging at times, and Adrian says learning how critical proper business infrastructure and tax implications are to his corporation is one challenge he had to learn to overcome. “I learned from mentors how to set up my corporations, build business credit, and leverage expenses inside of a proper business trust to handle business taxation. I had to learn that maximizing your business earnings comes from structure and taxes, not just from managing profit and loss statements.”

As he prepares for his future, Adrian hopes to continue to build digital automation for Elite Financial Services so that he will be able to take on more clients. He plans to execute additional financial literacy workshops and Q&A sessions to help consumers understand updated financial strategies. He also plans to serve more youth programs so that the next generation understands how to properly position their future for financial success and avoid the pitfalls of the education gap in the traditional education system.



JD Davis is the owner of Please Believe Fitness. Based in Charlotte, NC, Please Believe Fitness began with words JD spoke to himself. “If you don’t truly believe that you can accomplish what you set out to do, then there’s a strong likelihood that you probably won’t be able to.”

JD is a native of Charlotte and has served as a Certified Personal Trainer for over 20 years. He is a father of two grown young men, Donte and Tre’, and he has two beautiful grandkids; D’Mani and Donte’ Jr. JD’s career in the health and fitness industry began as a response to his being overweight. He says, “I knew I needed to make some changes in my life. S, I purchased a good pair of running shoes and started running on my lunch breaks at work. I only had 30 minutes to get it in, so I would sneak out a few minutes early to change my clothes. I would run my entire break, change back into my work uniform, and sneak back into the building about five minutes late every night,” he says. With consistency, he lost weight very quickly, but a fire had also been ignited in JD to learn more about the human body and help other people reach their weight loss goals.

After being laid off from his job, the idea to start his own fitness company came about. That is how Please Believe Fitness came to life.

At Please Believe Fitness, JD offers HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and will soon include FITRANX in his arsenal. FITRANX is a standardized training system used to gauge one’s current fitness level. He also offers nutrition assistance to all of his clients.

JD says he loves the daily interactions with the people he works with. “My “Believers” give me life! They inspire me to continuously learn and educate myself to be the best for them and provide the best possible service. I love changing and impacting lives and assisting others in accomplishing their goals.”

The future for Please Believe Fitness is limitless, and JD says while he can predict the future, he plans to continue to impact people’s lives and change the world, one pound at a time. His advice to others who may want to experience a lifestyle change as he has is this: Once you start something, don’t give up until it’s yours. Learn and study all you can and surround yourself with people who will support whatever you’re attempting to accomplish. h


It’s All About Her Love For Kids

Who has a bigger heart than Shaunielle Foster? She is the founder and CEO of Footsteps to Follow, a non-profit organization based in Guilford County, NC, that focuses on special needs children and the inclusion of the buddy system for standard children.

A native of New York, Shaun, as she prefers to be acknowledged, has cemented her “footstep” in the modeling industry and is highly sought after for her creative expertise and fashion savvy.

Modeling is something that Shaun grasped at the young age of three. Soon she was appearing in commercials and print ads. Living in a city that never sleeps offered her opportunities at every corner. However, these opportunities did not focus on just modeling but allowed her to branch out and explore different arts, such as dancing and performing arts. Growing up in multiple industries, she felt the need for modeling would let you express who you are regardless of what the person is wearing. And the rest is history.

“It all began in 2009 with a simple conversation. My friend and I were discussing their child who had special needs. While talking, they realized there were no opportunities available for the young person to participate in the fashion and model world without being stigmatized. At that moment, the idea for Footsteps to Follow came to life,” Shaun says.

For Shaun, it is all about loving her kids. The open platform that Footsteps To Follow have gives children ages with special needs between the ages of two to 18, a sense of inclusiveness in the fashion world. With bi-annual fashion shows during April and October, they can forget their disabilities and enjoy themselves. Shaun’s mentoring program, “The Buddy System,” allows them to be matched and create life-long friendships with other children who don’t have the same setbacks or illnesses.

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Another project Shaun has her hands in is a workshop called ‘Stytches.’ It allows the kids to create their own garments and showcase them during the fashion show that Footsteps To Follow produces. She has also created various partnerships with her community members to ensure the kids in her program and her community are receiving everything they need. One partnership is with the local HBCU, North Carolina A&T State University. Together, they pair each of her kids with a mentor from other local non-profits. Another program called ‘Wrapped Up In Music’ serves kids who are patients in local hospitals.

Shaun’s love doesn’t end there. She has been a foster parent for seven and a half years and has fostered over 290 children. “I felt like it was necessary to be able to be more than just a bridge gap for so many children,” she says. She has also found a way to get her family involved with her programs. Her son Kingzton, a young KidPreneur and model, has created an all-natural self-care line called “Kingz Korner.” He has all-natural lip therapy, bath bombs, awareness suds, and more. The colors of his logo are dedicated to his mother and represent all she has done for kids in the foster system. “Green is for missing children, blue is for adoption, and yellow is for unconditional love.” Shaun also has launched ‘Fatz15’, a clothing line dedicated to her daughter Daisha who she calls Fatz because she barely weighed five pounds at birth.

Although there have been challenges along the way, Shaun says she is unphased about them. “I always find the silver lining. It’s not about the challenge; it’s about finding the solution,” she says. As for the future, she is working on acquiring a brick-and-mortar location for her programs.

For anyone looking to follow in Shaun’s remarkable footsteps, her advice is to be authentically you; there is only one. “Follow your hopes, dreams, and heart, and be passionate about what you do. Doing so will not feel like work.”

To learn more about Shaunielle Foster and Footsteps to Follow, please contact them directly. h Charlotte - Jan./Feb. 2023 20

Cutest Baby

The daughter of Brianna Jackson Granddaughter of Ed & Raquel Browning Great Granddaughter of Annie Browning & Lisa To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to MAGAZINE Juliana Marie Jackson

Project Community Center

With a population of nearly 630,000, Louisville, KY, is regarded as the biggest city in the bluegrass state. Of that number, African Americans make up 28%, invoking a presence full of culture, history, and promise. One of Louisville’s prominent residents has made it their lifes’ journey to give back and create opportunities for others.

Quintina Monnai McDowell is the founder of Project Community Center Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring urban projects from the West End and the East End of Louisville together using an intergenerational approach to become the center of success for everyone. To accomplish this, the organization uses the following principles; Creative and Performing Arts, Health and Wellness, Education and Leadership, and Services for families and Military Veterans.

Monnai was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She’s a mother of four children and a two-time business owner. She has a passion for children and health and wellness. Additionally, she has two degrees, one in Business Administration and one in Human Resources. Monnai enjoys meeting new people, spending time with family, and connecting with others.

Another thing Monnai enjoys is sharing her testimony of how she began her traditional lifestyle journey. “I’ve had some challenges along my journey, but I’ve overcome many of them. I’ve been married and divorced. I’ve been at my lowest, and I’ve mentally quit on myself. I felt like I lost just to only realize that it was a test of my faith, and that I had to lose to win. One thing I am proud of is that I never physically gave up. I’ve always been a fighter at heart and I love hard. I’d rather blame myself than blame anyone else. I don’t have any regrets in my life. Everything happened according to God’s will, not mine. I thank God everyday for what He has already done, what He’s doing now, what He’s about to do.”

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Some of the services offered by the Project Community Center are Business Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy Mentoring, Belize Cultural Dance, and Health & Wellness. “We have implemented a health and wellness program through our nonprofit. It helps to educate children about health and wellness and how to build a healthy immune system. We also provide a transitional lifestyle program that prepares them as they mature and make lifestyle decisions and choices,” Monnai says.

One other business Monnai has produced is Sea Moss by J. Cortez. Like her nonprofit, this brand came to life in 2020. She says, “For three years I kept running from the dream that kept chasing me. I finally prayed to God and I ask “what is your dream for me?” Then it was revealed. One day, I was talking to my brother on the phone, telling him I want to start my own nonprofit. Not realizing that I was manifesting my vision. Then I wrote it down. Thereafter, I started it with three children. Soon I had 63 children. The next year came and I had 150 children. All these blessings without a permanent location to call our own. While we still don’t have a permanent location to call our own, we plan on having 300 plus children during our free summer camp this year. We’re excited and can’t wait to see what God does,” she says.

It is evident that Monnai is walking in her calling, and while walking purposefully, she has acquired a greater appreciation of love for others. “I love engaging and educating everyone about health and wellness and connecting with others spiritually. I am a huge giver and love to see everyone become successful. I love all my children, and my passion involves them. I’ve always believed that if I could help or change one person, I could change or help many,” she shares.

Like most business owners, Monnai has faced some challenge along the way. She says, “One challenge I’ve faced in business is “trust”. It’s hard for me to trust anyone. I had to learn how to overcome that obstacle in my life, especially in business. I was listening to a motivational clip from DMX and he explained trust. “Trust a person to be who they show you they are. Trust a snake to bite you, trust a thief to steal from you, and trust a liar to lie to you”. I wanted trust, but I had to also show that I could be trustworthy. I’m a very loyal person, so when trust is betrayed, it’s hard to trust again. In business, I had to learn how to trust without implementing emotion. What I mean by that is, removing my feelings from my business by separating the two. Business is business, it’s not personal. This could be a challenge for givers because you’ll always have to watch out for the takers.”

As life continues for Monnai, she plans to continue serving the Louisville community with great products and services via her brands. She also plans to continue to be a blessing to others and expand her organization in other states. “My passion is worldwide. I’m not saved to sit. I am saved to serve. Therefore, whatever path God has for me, that’s the path I’m taking,” she says.

visit their websites to learn more about the Project Community Center and Sea Moss by J. Cortez. Charlotte - Jan./Feb. 2023 24
For three years I kept running from the dream that kept chasing me. I finally prayed to God and I ask “what is your dream for me?” Then it was revealed.”

Divine Dream Designs

Born in Aurora, CO, and partially raised in Bainbridge, GA. Kieshon Davis has enjoyed small-town living and the bigger city lifestyle. This young and budding entrepreneur is also a mother of two wonderful children and says they are her motivation and inspiration for everything she does. “Everyday, I push hard to one day make them proud and leave our family with a legacy they can enjoy and pass down to their families. Next to my children, my Christian faith is my greatest blessing. My faith in God has enabled me to look forward to each day with gratitude and encouragement,” she says.

Kieshon owns Divine Dream Designs, a full-service, lifestyle-based, professional event planning and design company. Divine Dream Designs specializes in corporate events, dinner galas, luxury outdoor dining, grand openings, and private events. Her commitment to providing great customer service from start to finish, while keeping her client’s goals, vision, and budget in mind, sets Kieshon’s brand apart from others. “I am committed to delivering on every detail while offering less stress and more fun,” she says.

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Kieshon describes herself as a serial entrepreneur and says her journey began when she was a lot younger. “In grade school, I sold candy, cool pencils, silly bands, and more to the other kids. I did this so that I could have money for extra snacks. That ambition followed me to my adult years. I have owned a natural skincare line and various craft businesses. My skincare products were what pushed me to plan my first event. I had all these great products and needed a way to market them locally and generate sales. So, in September 2020, I decided to have a craft market that featured myself and 19 other African American female entrepreneurs. There was food, music, and games. The event went so well that I started having them once a month. Next, I began having an annual Cup in Hand Kickball Game and an Adult Field Day event. There, I tried to decorate my first seven-foot balloon arch and learned that it was way more difficult than I expected, and I ended up paying someone else to do it. I was inspired, and I began doing more and more balloon decorating at family events. I eventually realized I wanted to focus on the designing and overall planning of events,” she says.

Some of the products and services Kieshon offers are full event decor, main displays, draping, centerpiece making, planning, day-of coordination, and hosting. Each package includes a complete set-up and take-down, table settings (place settings, cutlery, glassware, centerpieces, balloon decor with flower garnishments, candles, and a complimentary bottle of wine, complete with lights for optimal romance. She also offers rentals for games and stands. “My favorite service is the Luxury Outdoor Dining Experience, which features a see-through, 10x10 bubble tent that encapsulates the best picnic experiences,” she says.

Kieshon says she loves being creative in everything she does. “I enjoy bringing my client’s dream events to life and seeing the look of pure joy on their faces when they realize that I took care of every last detail. All they need to do is enjoy themselves. That is what I enjoy most,” Kieshon shares.

Like most businesses, Kieshon has faced some challenges. One, she says, has been able to delegate responsibility. “Small business owners sometimes think we can do it all. We often put too much on our plates, which can eventually diminish the quality of our work. To overcome this challenge, I have built up a team of loyal employees who see my vision and want to help me reach my goals. I appreciate my mom, Autumn and Aurie. Without them, I would not have made it this far,” she shared.

Futuristically thinking, specifically within the next 5-10 years, Kieshon hopes to have her own venue and cater to luxury weddings and events. Until then, she plans to continue to perfect her craft and stay on top of trends. Her advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs who may follow a path similar to hers is never to lower your price. She says, “If your clients complain about charging what you are worth, get new clients. Someone will see your value, and you won’t have to convince them why they should pay you what you deserve. Secondly, build a solid team of those who believe in you and your vision. Behind every great leader is an amazing team of brilliant people who want to see you win. You can’t be afraid to network with other entrepreneurs who do the same thing as you and, most of all, stay positive and keep going no matter what,” she says.

To learn more about Kieshon Davis and Diving Dream Designs, please visit her website.




The saying goes that when a man looks good, he feels good. Budding entrepreneur Michael Arnett of Charleston, SC, has set his sights on ensuring it becomes a reality for all men who desire it.

The 59-year-old father, husband, caretaker, and retired Police Officer is a native of Harlem, NY, but was raised in the Bronx. Living in a melting pot, Michael saw different nationalities and cultures of people. That experience helped him grow as an individual. He says he was determined to escape his environment and see the world.

His story is that of someone who has persevered despite what his surroundings presented to him. He shares, “I lived in public housing (the PJ’s) for 25 years. I come from a two-parent household, along with two other siblings. We had great examples as parents; my father was a Police Officer, and my mom worked as a Secretary. My parents always told me to work hard, and that anything is possible. My dad told me I could be better than him and that nobody was going to give me anything.”

Michael always loved fashion. After graduating from vocational high school in 1981, he enrolled at a community college. He attended school full-time and worked full-time. His major was graphic arts and advertising. Michael successfully received his associate degree in 1985. “After college, I worked several jobs but wasn’t satisfied. In 1987, I joined the US Air Force, served for five years, and spent time in the Gulf during Desert Storm. After leaving the military, I worked until I became a police officer and was accepted into the academy in 1997. I later retired in 2018 and started on a mission of entrepreneurship, fueled by my love for fashion and to be different,” he says. In 2020, Michael relocated to his current home in Charleston to care for his mom.

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Today, Michael is the owner of TheBeardedOne., a clothing apparel company that produces T-shirts, Hats (Bucket and Farmer), and Hoodies. Michael’s clothes are geared toward the Bearded community and cater to individuals with mustaches, goatees, etc.

Michael says TheBeardedOne. began after he grew a beard in late 2017. “I began to think about how to incorporate my beard into my business model. After going back and forth, I figured out how to make it happen in December 2020.”

While he has a genuine love for fashion, Michael says he also finds enjoyment in being different. “Fashion is what you make it! I have made a business out of fashion, and because I am the owner, I can do what I want and not answer to anyone,” he says.

Like most small business owners, TheBeardedOne. has faced its share of challenges. Michael says some have been finding a way to navigate through a saturated T-shirt market and rough economy. He has also had to deal with operating with limited resources. “I have overcome the saturation by offering different and unique clothes of good quality. I have found good quality clothing and still profit from my prices. With limited resources, I have attended more networking workshops and located events that allowed me to vend and showcase my apparel,” he says. Michael is also a member of the cigar club, Good Times Gang. That connection, he says, allows him to network with people from all over the country.

While his journey has been a little challenging, Michael says he wouldn’t change much about the way things have happened. “I would not change anything. The trials and tribulations are a part of life. You can grow from them or fall back and blame everyone else for your misfortunes. My advice to others who may follow in my footsteps is to keep God first in everything you do. You must have a plan, execute, network, and bring the love of what you do to your business. Stay focused and cut back folks that don’t have the same energy as you. And don’t be scared to let the world know you are here,” he says.

Living in New York prepared Michael for life at an early age. Moving forward, he plans to continue to grow his brand. He also hopes to purchase a van and convert it into a mobile store. He also hopes to have a storefront to display his apparel and help out other local fashion-based companies by displaying their apparel in his store. Charlotte - Jan./Feb. 2023 32
Instagram @TheBeardedOne. h


Brownlee A Hero In His Community

Community Activist, Geno Brownlee is committed to doing his part to change the narrative for the youth in Memphis, TN. A South Memphis native, Geno has a ground-level perspective of the inner workings of Tennessee’s second-largest city. Most importantly, he understands the challenges that young citizens in his community face and refuses to sit on the sidelines. Geno has jumped into the heart of the matter, with hope and purpose as his sidekick.

Geno is a father, independent artist, children’s book author, motivational speaker, and visionary of Changing Lives Global Foundation. Through his foundation, Geno focuses on changing the lives of kids and young adults across the mid-south.

Growing up in a tough city like Memphis made Geno want to bring light to his community. He admits that he never imagined being a children’s book author. “It all started when I went viral on the social media platform TikTok for creating a new dance. In no time, the video gained over four million views. I eventually used this engagement to promote my song,” he says. The name of his song is called, “Saucy”, and its focus is to encourage young kids to dress for success, and to stay in school, and achieve good grades. It is also a tool used to prevent bullying.

Geno made his first official school visit at Levi Elementary in Memphis on September 21, 2021. To date, he has performed for and hosted motivational seminars at over 132 schools and has been featured on local news stations countless times. He has written five children’s books, including “One Day the Sun Will Shine” and “A Superior Christmas with 901 Nazcar and Friends”.

Through Changing Lives Global Foundation, Geno has developed the Stop the Bullying Workshops, which are 15 to 20-minute sessions designed to teach kids and young adults about the different types of bullies. He’s spoken to kids from the daycare level up to the college level. What’s more impressive is that Geno’s words have spread across the country, from the mid-south to Atlanta, GA, and Cleveland, OH.

He is unequivocal and purposeful about helping youth and his work has given him a chance to connect with some big names in the entertainment industry, including T from Superior, Hadrat Faatimah, MoneyBagg Yo, Glorilla, Bankroll Freddie, Dee Mula, Marcus Ward Sr., Penny Hardway, Zach Randolph, Reagan Garland, and more.

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The journey for Geno hasn’t always been easy. It has come with a few challenges here and there. Growing up, neither of his parents was in his life, and while building his foundation, many people continued to leave. He shares, “I faced a lot of people quitting on me, giving up on me, and telling me no. But when adversity sets in, that’s when I’m at my best. When things get hard for me, I go harder.”

Geno finds inspiration in serving his community and by improving child literacy one day at a time. “I sometimes believe the youth in my community are being steered in the wrong direction. By being a positive role model for them and leading by example, I want to show them what can be possible if they strive for more,” he says. “I also want to show my own kids how to succeed.” How is he doing that? One way is by developing the Changing Lives Global Foundation into a family business and enlisting his seven-yearold daughter, Brooklyn, as his manager.

In the future, Geno plans to do more for the youth in Memphis and the United States. He is currently working on four new books and taking the Changing Lives Global Foundation on tour. He will also take his Stop The Bullying Workshops to 32 more states nationwide.

Geno’s advice for others who may follow a path similar to the one he has is clear. “You’re going to go through some pain, but I promise God will use it to make you stronger. He has a purpose for you, so don’t give up. It will be a rocky road to success, but you must keep going when things get hard. Success will not come easy.”

To learn more about Geno Brownlee and all his excellent work, please follow him on Instagram and TikTok. You may also contact him directly via email. Charlotte - Jan./Feb. 2023 36
“I sometimes believe the youth in my community are being steered in the wrong direction. By being a positive role model for them and leading by example, I want to show them what can be possible if they strive for more.”

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