Huami Magazine Chicago July/August 2022

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CHICAGO

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July/August 2022 Vol. 1 Issue 9

IMbellish Beauty Studio Chicago - July/August 2022

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KIRBYROBERTSANDCO.COM

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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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Dorjae’ McClammey Terry L. Watson Ellen Richardson Monica Montgomery

Writer Writer Writer Writer

Tamara Smith

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CONTENTS

JULY/AUGUST 2022

CHICAGO

Tracy Morton Memorial Chapel

Tracy Morton

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On The Cover

IMbellish Beauty Studio Brittany Parker

Ava & Associates

Ava Smith

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Baker Unified Fitness

Richard Baker

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Love Monae’ Anthony

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Also Featured

Terry Thomas Jr. He is proving that it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you run your race. Learn more about his journey. Houston, TX

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Tiffany E. Slater If you are a small business with Human Resource needs, she may be able to assist you. Learn more about her. St. Louis, MO

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Foluke Houston-Gaddis She is in the business of helping and serving others. Learn more about P3 Human Capital Solutions. Memphis, TN

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IMbellish Beauty Studio 6

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Brittany Evans

“Beauty lies within the eyes of the beholder. Beauty is only skin deep. Beauty will fade, but not goodness.” These adages have been spoken countless times. They also represent the honest opinion of others, but whatever the case, beauty and its perception is a God-given freedom for all to enjoy. For businesswoman Brittany Evans, her focus is all about beauty and helping others realize theirs as well. Brittany is a 27 years old Licensed Esthetician who is in love with all things beauty as well as health and fitness. She is the owner of IMbellish Beauty Studio LLC. Their focus is to culminate their client’s beauty from within. Some of the services they offer include eyelash extensions, brow tinting and waxing, henna, body waxing, and makeup. Makeup services are available for bridal services also. Brittany attended Purdue University for one year and then advanced towards her career at Mario Tricoci Beauty School. She has been licensed for six years. In addition to owning her business and running it full-time, she also focuses on her fitness journey on the side. The Chicago, IL, native says years of deep low self-esteem and insecurity sparked her interest in the beauty industry. “I selftaught myself how to apply makeup with the assistance of YouTube. I did this just to make myself feel beautiful every day. By the grace of God, He brought me through those tough years, and it catapulted me right into my passion and purpose,” she says. Brittany says professionalism, customer care, education, and paying close attention to details are some of the main characteristics that she bases her business upon. “I make it my duty to ensure everyone feels comfortable and at home. They aren’t my clients. They are my family,” she says.

“I self-taught myself how to apply makeup with the assistance of YouTube. I did this just to make myself feel beautiful every day. By the grace of God, He brought me through those tough years, and it catapulted me right into my passion and purpose.”

Brittany shares that what she loves most about owning IMbellish Beauty Studio is being able to make women smile. “I take pride in having the opportunity to share my love for beauty by enhancing the God-given beauty that’s already there,” she says. Chicago - July/August 2022

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She is inspired mostly by her grandfather, who passed away a few years ago. She says his ambition, tenacity, hustle, and drive are always in the back of her mind and pushes her to keep going. Her advice to others who may follow in her footsteps is simple. “Be like a sponge and absorb and learn all that you can in this industry. Never stop learning and practicing your craft. Focus on your niche and become a master of those services. Most importantly, offer services that you enjoy doing yourself. By doing so, it will show in the way that you serve others. Remember that when you are passionate about something, it doesn’t ever feel like work.” As the future continues to look bright for Brittany and IMbellish Beauty Studio, she plans to continue to learn, grow, and master her niche and expand her business. She also plans to have a storefront in possibly more than one state. With her determination and ambition, one shouldn’t be surprised to see the IMbellish Beauty Studio brand in any area of the country. To learn more about them, please visit their website.

Brittany Evans IMbellish Beauty Studio LLC www.imbellishbeautystudio.com 708-926-4037

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Lance Omar Thurman

HR TailorMade

If you are a small business owner, HR TailorMade will most likely be able to serve and meet your needs. Led by Tiffany E. Slater, who serves as the I am also the CEO and Senior HR Consultant, HR TailorMade promotes itself as the human resource (HR) solution for small organizations. “The work we do for our clients not only supports their team but also helps the owner to work in a more balanced and efficient way,” she says. “Our goal is to essentially take the HR ball away from business owners and manage it for them. We serve as the virtual HR team that manages the day-today operations required to effectively employ a high-performing team.” A native of St. Louis, MO, Tiffany launched her company in 2018, after realizing that her dream job was not what she had hoped for. “I started with faith. I prayed diligently that God would order my steps and that I would have the courage to follow his lead. When I started, I was miserable and needed to find joy in the work I had been doing for over 20 years. As an HR Professional, I had seen firsthand how integral maintaining a proper work-life balance was to a healthy and happy lifestyle. I not only wanted to create a joyful work experience for myself, but I also wanted to teach small business owners how to do it for themselves by removing the HR burden from their long to-do list,” she says. Four years later, Tiffany is still in business, and it’s growing. HR TailorMade offers additional services: employee handbook development, benefits implementation and administration, and onboarding. They also provide compensation structure development, employee recordkeeping, policy and procedure development, and leader and team support. “We serve our clients through monthly retainers, project-based work, and on-call service,” Tiffany says.

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Tiffany is a wife to Michael Slater, mom to MJ and Donovan, and a loving daughter, sister, and friend. She has a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Organization Management from Benedictine University at Springfield. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Professionally, she serves as the President of NAWBO St. Louis. Helping and serving others comes naturally for Tiffany. These are attributes that come in handy in her chosen profession. She also loves helping small business owners and founders to create joyful work experiences for their teams. “Doing so means I get closer to fulfilling my vision of making the world a better place, one employee at a time. I believe happy individuals make the world a better place,” she says. Tiffany also enjoys having the freedom to create new programs, policies, and experiences for her clients. While Tiffany says her mother has been the most impactful person in her life, she credits her aunt, Lathea Morris, and her upbringing as her biggest inspirations. “My mother exposed me to so many amazing things and people. I was surrounded by entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs who were highly successful and doing great things in the community. She made it her life’s mission to keep her timid child (me) involved in activities in hopes I would grow out of my shyness and navigate this world fearlessly,” she says. “My aunt, Lathea, has always been my idol. She was always so cool to me. She rose to the C-Suite of a large insurance company. After finding her way to the top, she left and became the Assistant Secretary of State for New Jersey. When her term ended, she started a business that has been operating for over 25 years. Watching her throughout her career inspired me to dream big.” Tiffany says the journey of running her company has come with a few challenges. The biggest ones were learning how to move through her fear and building a plane in the air. “I learned that fear led to my procrastination. If it were something I hadn’t done before or wasn’t sure about, I would research as though I was looking for the end of Google. That is when I learned to build a plane in the air. I had to move to seek perfection, avoid mistakes or failure, and still get things done.” There isn’t much Tiffany would change about her journey in business. She says everything that has happened has taught her a great lesson. Most importantly, she has learned what she needs, what she doesn’t want, what she can’t do, and what doesn’t work. She advises others who may follow a path similar to her: not to allow the fear of others to cause you to be afraid of chasing your dreams. “Go for it! There is enough out here for everyone. Give more than you take!” In the future, Tiffany says she envisions HR TailorMade as a multi-million dollar business supporting small businesses across the country; world, perhaps. She also expects her company to be ranked in the Top 5 Best Places to Work. To learn more about HR TailorMade, please visit their website.

Tiffany E. Slater www.hrtailormade.com 636-400-7944 12

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Tracy Morton

Tracy Morton Memorial Chapel, LLC By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Tracy Morton

Tracy Morton is the founder of Tracy Morton Memorial Chapel. Established in 2017 and based in Pensacola, FL, TMMC provides personalized, professional, and compassionate services to families, which help lighten the burden and offer support during the difficult times that follow the loss of a loved one. Planning a funeral service can be a complicated process for families who have just lost a loved one. Tracy says it’s essential to provide those who are grieving with a supportive environment in which they can begin to find closure, say goodbye, and come to terms with the loss. “Gathering with friends and family allows everyone to connect, share memories, offer words of sympathy, and create a lasting network of comfort and support as they start the journey toward healing,” she says. There are different services available for a loved one’s burial, depending upon their individual needs and preferences. Some of the services offered by TMCC are Burial and Cremation. “The biggest misconception about cremation is that there can’t be a funeral service or visitation. This is not the case, and we encourage you to consider holding a memorial service to celebrate the life of the deceased as well,” she says. TMMC also offers Green Burial options for those who want to be more environmentally friendly with their end-oflife decisions.

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Tracy describes herself as a young and aspiring entrepreneur. She began her journey as an apprentice at Joe Morris and Son Funeral Home. During her time there, she discovered her calling. Following graduation from Pensacola High School in 1998, she immediately relocated to Miami, FL, and pursued her degree in Mortuary Science at Miami-Dade College. Upon graduating from college, she participated in an internship at Shuler’s Memorial Chapel in Delray Beach, FL, before becoming a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. She would later work at Fred Hunter’s Funeral Home in Hollywood, FL. In a short period, Tracy has mastered the fine art of serving families. She shares how she wanted to move back home to Pensacola to open her own funeral home, and now she is doing just that. “God led me in this field of the deathcare industry with a dream. At Tracy Morton Memorial Chapel, I create memorable services. We are a funeral home that strives to meet every need of the families that we serve,” she says. At the age of 42, Tracy is a single parent to two children. Tracy herself is the only child of Frank and Gaylier Morton, who she says have been her most incredible supporters and backbone in every way. She says what she loves most about her career is having the honor to serve families. “Just seeing a smile on the faces of those who I serve, even during a bereaving moment, does something to my spirit,” she says. Being a business owner is very formidable, and Tracy wishes she could clone herself at times. She also shares some advice for those who may be interested in pursuing a career such as hers. “Make sure this is the career you want because this industry is very demanding. It’s very rewarding, spiritually, but you give up so much of yourself.” As she moves forward in life and business, she plans to continue to grow her business based on the principles that have shaped her life. “I will allow God to lead me where He needs me. I also plan to take as much time off as I possibly can to spend with my babies,” she says. To learn more about Tracy Morton and Tracy Morton Memorial Chapel, please visit their website. h

Tracy Morton

Tracy Morton Memorial Chapel 55 Coast Road Pensacola, FL 32507 850-332-7661 www.tmmchapel.com

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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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P 3 Human Capital Solutions P Human Capital Solutions

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Foluke Houston

Foluke Houston-Gaddis has a very clear and simple goal; to connect people to their purpose and passion. The Vicksburg, MS, native and current Germantown, TN, resident is the face and founder of P3 Human Capital Solutions. This diverse and woman-owned organization provides strategic solutions, enabling talent and organizations to develop and sustain high-performing and inclusive environments. The company’s guiding principles are the most practical parts of P3, which Foluke clearly outlines. “Our universal, enduring principles guide our organization in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in project goals, strategies, and work climates. Following these guiding principles, we create bigger and better value for our stakeholders and clients in collaboration with innovation and integrity,” she says. “We stand on Integrity, First - Trust & Service Always. We believe that feedback serves as a gift. We also understand the value of simplicity, and we do not allow anyone to stand alone and are always value-focused.” Foluke is the wife of Rodney Gaddis and the youngest of six children. She is a national keynote speaker, award-winning community leader, and Human Resources expert that values service and excellence. As a global talent leader, Foluke brings unique perspectives from her experience working within Fortune 300 and Fortune 100 private sector organizations, local and federal government agencies, and community groups within the HR space.

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Using real-world examples, Foluke says her personal and professional mission is to positively impact others through her gifts. “P3 was a vision in my mind for over ten years; however, like so many others before me, I was apprehensive about stepping out on faith. I had this vision, but something was missing. In late 2021, I was referred to a non-profit organization, Innate Success Corporation, which provides business mentoring to aspiring and new business owners. Innate provided me with the missing ingredient of business start-up knowledge and confidence. Still, I needed guidance on the “how” of entrepreneurship, such as how to create my business plan, how to complete the legal compliance steps, etc. Once I completed the program, P3 was ready to roll,” she shares. Before completing the program with Innate Success Corp, Foluke had secured contractual collaborations with two national organizations and provided them with services such as Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging(DIB) program assessment and training development and facilitation. Foluke shares that she loves the opportunities P3 provides her, especially connecting others with their passion and purpose. She also loves connecting with individual clients and organizations and witnessing the positive impact of empowering someone to operate within their purpose. Anyone who has had a significant encounter with Foluke understands how important God and her family are to her. “My name, Foluke, means “Placed in God’s hand” and I truly understand the power my name possesses. My faith and upbringing have kept me humble while persisting that I operate in my purpose and excellence,” she shares. Foluke says she is inspired by transparency and being connected to authentic and transparent people. She also states her professional journey has not been easy but has been fulfilling and successful. “My testimony is that I can and will be transparent at all times to inspire others.” Every part of Foluke’s journey hasn’t been easy. There have been a few challenges she’s had to face. Still, she confesses that she wouldn’t change anything. “Every accomplishment, connection, and misstep has led me to this moment. I have learned so much since arriving in Tennessee. It has all played a part in the inception of P3.” For those who may follow in her footsteps, Foluke offers some sound advice. “Rest in the promises, not the paranoia. A lot of times, we sabotage our own success by thinking, “what if I fail” or “how will I sustain my business?” My advice is to rest in that God would not have placed the business idea in your spirit and heart unless there was a provision already waiting for you to take action. Also, know that it’s not about you. Someone or some organization needs your gifts. There is a call on every one of our lives, and your “yes” to starting a business or a non-profit will impact someone’s life. You are the answer to someone’s call for help. And finally, render the pen. We are not the author or finisher of our fate, and as business owners, we like to control outcomes with our perspective. Do your best, build relationships, provide excellent service, and trust that everything will work out the way it should.” Moving forward, Foluke says that P3 is deeply committed to helping her individual clients realize their worth and what they bring to the table. She is also committed to helping leaders, teams, and organizations evaluate their current practices and culture and influence true, positive change. She also states the P3 website is in production and will be live by mid-August. In the meantime, they are open for 20222023 consulting services and projects. Individual clients and organizations can book their initial consultation at https://calendly.com/p3hcs

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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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Terry Thomas Jr. Proving That It Can Be Done By Terry L. Watson

Photos Provided by Terry Thomas Jr. He describes himself as a 46-year-old black visionary. Raised by his father since the age of 13, Terry Thomas Jr. has experienced life from both sides of the coin. At one point, he had hit rock bottom, but with determination and grit, he pulled himself back up and set out on a journey of promise and has yet to look back. “My mother moved to Houston, TX, pursuing a job opportunity with my sister. I stayed with my father in my hometown of Detroit, MI. I grew up watching him work a (9 to 5) job at Ford Motor Company and running a nightclub. After graduating from Southfield High school in 1994, I attended Alabama State University. Unfortunately, I dropped out and began working full-time as a waiter. Soon I got caught up in the street life of grinding and hustling and fell into a dark psychological place,” Terry shares. “My ability to speak my vision to myself became my light through the darkness and is what kept me strong.” Things would soon change for the better in Terry’s life. In 2004 he met his wife Samitra. “The experience of meeting my wife was life-changing because she believed in the man that I was becoming and loved me unconditionally. Although I felt I didn’t deserve her, I knew she was the woman I envisioned to be my wife,” he says. Terry and Samitra dated for two years before getting married. One of the things that connected them was entrepreneurship. Terry says, “Right after we got married, we started our first business, which ended up failing. After that, we went through a series of failed businesses. While struggling to get our businesses off the ground, we birthed our two greatest joys - our sons Terry III and James.” Fast-forward to 2016, and things were happening for the ambitious power couple. In addition to having kids to raise and love, Terry found himself overweight at 305 pounds. “I had been laid off from my corporate job and had to deal with judgment from family and friends for not having an income. It was during that time that my wife suggested that I do photography. She saw my love for taking pictures, and we even published our magazine, Over Flow Magazine. I wasn’t sold on the idea initially because I didn’t think it would be financially worth it, but it was the key to my purpose,” he shares.

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With his company, Terry Thomas Photography, some of the services offered are studio and on-site photography, events, weddings, corporate functions, birthday parties, fashion shows, lifestyle photography, and so much more. He also provides a social branding component. As he began to master the art of photography, Terry also practiced living a healthier lifestyle. When he was overweight, he had to deal with high blood pressure, diabetes, and back issues, and with the new positive outlook on life, he was sure not to revert to those conditions. “I saw myself with a lean body. I saw my wife and I running a successful business from the ground up. I also saw us owning acres of land and living self-sufficiently,” he says. The things that Terry envisioned has now become a reality. In April 2022, he and Samitra closed on 10 acres of land. Today, he is known as a photography king and has has birthed T’s Tea Herbal Bar, which contains his Herbal Seasoning called T’s Seasoning and his line of herbal teas called T’s Tea Herbal Blends. “I was drinking Herbal Tea for years before it fell on my heart to share my blends with the world. Now, I grow herbs in my garden, and my first non-store-bought tea came from natural herbs that I mixed from my garden,” he says. While Terry loves to share the good things in his life, he is clear not to forget where he came from. He shares that his darkest season taught him how to live in gratitude. “I am grateful to be a husband, a father, a Herbal Healer, and a photography King. My vision has been my guide, my self-love has been my strength, and my purpose has been my foundation. Even more, my gifts are keys to doors that house the opportunity for me to be a light in this unbalanced dark reality. Today, I am set in harmony. My soul and flesh are working under my command as one, evolving to be an inspiration to all of mankind.” h

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“I saw myself with a lean body. I saw my wife and I running a successful business from the ground up. I also saw us owning acres of land and living self-sufficiently.”

www.terrythomasphotography.com www.healthfirstnation.com

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Cutest Baby

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Love Monae’ Anthony The daughter of Alneshia Torian

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