It seemed like only yesterday when the first edition of Huami Magazine was published. In November 2007, a vision given to me by God became my reality. I have shared the story of publishing Huami Magazine, first having a conversation with God, then taking the leap and stepping out faithfully in response to God’s call. Still, I often reflect on the first edition and become reminded of how awesome God is.
While I was confident in my ability to fulfill the assignment, I admit I didn’t have all the answers initially. Ten years earlier, in 1997, I researched the magazine publishing industry, specifically in the Triad area of North Carolina. I did this to learn more about what is required to publish a magazine, including how to manage a publishing company, etc. Amongst all of the information obtained, I never inquired about how to support my new media company financially. That would eventually pose a problem for me and Huami Magazine.
Finances and their availability is vital to the survival of any business. I self-funded operating costs for quite some time, especially in the first few years of existence. However, all of a sudden, things changed. Huami Magazine would enjoy the love and support from unlikely sources, including individuals who never exhibited an interest in the product. Doors would soon open and opportunities flowed. Things were looking up for Mykel Media Company, LLC.
As the face and founder of Huami Magazine, I worked hard to spread brand awareness. During this time, there were other challenges I would face, but having the support of the magazine wasn’t one of them. Sales were so good that everything needed to keep our doors open, we received it. God saw something good about Huami Magazine and He made provisions to ensure
The message that I want to remind the readers of Huami Magazine is simple. When God gives you an assignment, He will also make provisions for you to see it through. All that we have to do is show up for the assignment.
Terry L. Watson Publisher
Dorjea’ McClammey Writer
Monica Montgomery Writer
Terry L. Watson Writer
Joy Rogers Writer Marrissa Dick Writer
Still Shots Photography Photographer TMF Photography Photographer
Howard Gaither Photography
She is doing business her way. Learn more about this serial entreprenuer. Charlotte, NC
She is a world traveling photographer. Learn how she captures the beauty of others through her eyes. Phoenix, AZ
If you are in need of home repair service, she is here to help. Learn more about her journey in business.
Hampton Roads, VA
Be Whole Financial EnterpriseBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Kelly Armstrong
Kelly Armstrong is the owner of Be Whole Financial Enterprise LLC. Based in Columbus, OH, her company focuses on helping individuals improve their overall credit health by utilizing the power of the law to challenge negative, incorrect, erroneous, and outdated information on credit reports, typical items that often result in lowering credit scores.
Kelly’s says her motto for life comes from Matthew 6:33 in the holy bible and reads, “But seek he first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
She is a member of Rhema Christian Center in Columbus and serves as a Deacon, Ordained Minister, and Director for several different ministries. Kelly received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She credits her two beautiful parents, Donald and Frances Armstrong, for providing a sound upbringing and her amazing sister, Tracy, for positively influencing her life.
Be Whole Financial Services was birthed out of her spirit while spending her final challenging months working for a corporation. She is wellversed in teaching others about debt and says that at the young age of 20, she had her own mountain to climb. Through prayer, biblical teaching, systems, and strategies she put in place, Kelly was able to turn her life around. “I believe the systems that worked for me can work for others with the same struggles. My mission is to teach as many people as possible how to Be Whole within their Finances, so they can experience the benefits of excellent credit and live life to its fullest,” she says.
Helping others while serving God is what Kelly says she loves most about her company and career. Her blessing does not come without its share of trials. “Having your own business is challenging. We are always working on our brand to obtain more clients. Awareness is a challenge, and educating clients on a new mindset about their finances and credit can be one as well,” she says.
In the future, Kelly hopes to provide more of her services to the citizens of Ohio, as well as other states around the country. To learn more about Be Whole Financial Services, please visit their website.
Doing Business My WayBy Dorjae’ McClammey Photos Provided by Todd Youngblood
Timmie Mitchell can easily be described as a go-getter. She is the founder of Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel LLC, along with her two business partners, Danielle Griffin and Dawan Feely. Launched in April 2022, her company offers an array of styles and scrub sets, including separates, compression socks, fanny packs, clogs, aprons, and personalized badges. Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel also provides group sales and discounts for nurses, nursing students, and schools.
Born in Monrovia, Liberia, which is located in West Africa, Timmie, along with her two younger sisters, moved to Durham, NC, when she was only nine years old. She says the transition was not easy, mainly due to the drastic culture change. Timmie was bullied a lot because of her small size, home environment, family income, and her accent. With all of those challenges, Timmie says it was tough for her to make friends.
With all that chaos around her, Timmie was determined to stay focused and get her education. She attended Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, and gained her longtime best friend and business partner, Danielle Griffin. In 1997, Timmie graduated from Shaw with her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management. From there, she moved to Greensboro, NC, before settling in Charlotte, her residence for the past ten years. In Charlotte, she is surrounded by her two wonderful daughters, her family, and many friends.
“You must learn to invest in yourself and your business and not give up. Never give up on achieving your goals in life. Remember that along your journey, you will receive some yesses for every no, but you must remain persistent and patient.”
Once settled in the Queen City, Timmie did not hesitate to jump into the work field, a strategic move she made to provide her daughters a better opportunity to succeed than she did as a child.
While Timmie’s primary focus is Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel LLC, she has dabbled into other business ventures. She is also the sole owner of Liberian Lady Investment LLCs, a property preservation and renovation company. With the services offered, vendors, banks, realtors, and more can fix and preserve foreclosed properties. She also owns Mitchell Notary and Signing Service LLC, a mobile notary and loan signing entity that serves all of North Carolina. Additionally, Timmie is a real estate investor and partner with Guaranteed Homes LLC, owned by Dawan Feely. With this company, Timmie helps renovate homes and build properties for communities in South Carolina and assists clients with repairing their credit.
Timmie shares she has always desired to create a business that would last a lifetime, and one connected to the medical field made perfect sense. Why? It’s neverending, Timmie explains. Once her vision was realized, the next step was to get the business off the ground. She says the beginning was a little rocky. “I wasn’t making many sales, but I kept true to my faith, and by the grace of God, it did a full 360. The rest is history. Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel went from barely making sales to generating between $500 and $1,000 worth of weekly orders,” she says.
Even though things have been better for Timmie and Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel, she remains grounded. Timmie shares she still loves being able to provide medical professionals with uniforms that make them look and feel good at an affordable price. As for Liberian Lady Investments LLC, Timmie continues to assist clients with preserving one property at a time. This includes working along with Guaranteed Homes to build and help clients get into their dream homes while educating them on ways to improve their overall credit.
Timmie says she is proud to be a true African American woman and for the opportunity to show her children what faith, determination, and hard work look like. “I want them to know that no matter their challenges, they can achieve anything. I am proof of that,” she says. “I always wanted my own business, and now I have multiple. What better example for them to have than me.”
For anyone wanting to follow in her steps, Timmie advises you to do your research, “Google is your best friend. You must learn to invest in yourself and your business and not give up. Never give up on achieving your goals in life. Remember that along your journey, you will receive some yesses for every no, but you must remain persistent and patient.”
Moving forward, you can expect big things from Timmie Mitchell. In addition to expanding Liberian Lady Investment LLC and continuing her partmentship with Guaranteed Homes, Timmie and her partners plan to open storefronts/boutiques in Charlotte and South Carolina for Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel. The first boutique grand opening is in January 2023 in uptown charlotte. The expansion will also include the release of her custom line of scrubs. Please visit her website to learn more about Timmie Mithcell and all of her businesses. h
Sophic Solutions, LLCBy Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Sophic Solutions, LLC
In 2018, the world was formally introduced to Wakanda. A world where people of color lived and ruled in a modern economic and progressive society of fair trade and collaboration. As portrayed in the fantasy fiction movie Black Panther, Wakanda is a black utopia untouched by the outside world. To most, it was a fantastic work of fiction, but to Rodney and Stephenie Smith, it was as real as you or I, and as possible as starting a simple courageous conversation. Rodney and Stephenie (Steven-ee) Smith have made it their mission and business to create a space where sustainable transformations takes place through courageous conversations about race and equity. The Smiths are working to change society toward racial equity.
Sophic Solutions, LLC is a change management and consulting firm based in Kansas City, Missouri. Sophic provides educational consultation to schools and school districts, offers change management solutions to various organization types, and conducts diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging training for a variety of companies and associations. Sophic also designs educational curriculum, offers professional development sessions, and facilitates team-building activities in addition to several supplementary management improvement services.
“Sophic Solutions was born out of our passion and experiences in our respective professions,” Rodney explains. “Our goal was to overcome our own daily dealings with some of these discriminatory practices. It came from being faced with marginalization in our own professional environments.”
Dr. Rodney D. Smith is also Vice President for Access and Engagement at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. As an academic, his natural curiosity caused him to question and investigate how implicit bias became so ingrained in American culture and how to change it. “As an academician, I began to study the origins of the divide we as a country are experiencing. It ushered me into wanting to learn more about how we got here.” These are the questions Sophic Solutions encourage their partners to ask and explore.
Dr. Smith began teaching courses in the area of social justice and equity. As word spread of his knowledgeable and practical approach to this conversation, he received invitations to speak and educate others. Fast-forward to 2018, after leaving a post in the not-for-profit sector, Stephenie assumed the role of managing partner of their business. As a social worker, Stephenie had a front-row view of how unawareness and avoidance affected underserved communities in the area of social equity. Her passion for helping people find efficacy in their lives and community made her stand out.
“Although Sophic Solutions was founded in 2007, I continued to work for outside organizations until 2018. I have always been blessed because while working for majority white social service organizations, I created a safe space for my team and the people we served. I was able to use my role, personality, and the way I lead, to create a “Black” space within those entities,” Stephenie explains. Creating a relevant space wasn’t just about carving out and cultivating an environment where the concerns of black and brown people were heard, but were responded to with a demonstration of cultural humility. It was also essential to how the work was being done and those doing it.
Stephenie has leveraged her 20 + years of direct practice and organizational leadership experience to support her partners/clients. As the lead consultant with leaders across several sectors, Stephenie is able to stimulate curiosity about how outcomes are generated. With a belief that outcomes are produced through the system, Stephenie is able to guide teams through examining the Pedagogy, Policy, Practice, and People (Culture) of the organization. Stephenie explains, “Often times when organizations are seeking change, teams stop at simply transforming behaviors. While behavioral modification can be key, it is equally important to ensure the system of that organization does not have policies, practices or a culture that tolerates or promotes inequity.” Therefore engaging in a holistic approach to change is imperative. Stephenie’s approach is very much aligned with her discipline as a Master’s level Social Worker. Her commitment to this value- driven practice creates room for social emotional attention that must accompany the process of change.
In addition to leading Sophic Solutions, Stephenie serves as an adjunct professor at Avila University while also contributing to several community boards. Stephenie reminds us, “It is important to connect the dots in every area of our lives. Meaning this is not just the work that I engage in, but the life that I live.”
As husband and wife business partners and parents to two wonderful children, family is vitally important to the Smiths, “We were both privileged to have parents who are Black professionals that taught us how to seek and use knowledge to further ourselves and our community,” Stephenie explained. “When you have role models in the home that set the standard, you are compelled by those expectations. My mother is a retired educator, and my father is a retired agriculturalist. So, I grew up understanding that I am responsible to my community and that is how Rodney and I have raised our children, and I’m proud to say that they have embraced the idea that it takes action and understanding to move the culture forward.”
With recognition from the community and other entities, Stephenie and Rodney received requests asking them to help create equity-centered schools, companies, and organizational groups.
With, not for is Sophic Solutions’ approach to assisting organizations in achieving their goals of self-sustaining social change. “We strongly believe in working with organizations to help them identify and address the areas of social inequity within their companies or groups,” Stephenie explained.
“Helping companies understand what implicit bias is, that it really exists and that its existence is the cause for the racial inequity that we see in society, is an important first step for the organizations that engage our services,” Rodney explains. “If asked, most of these organizations will say that they are made up of ‘good people.’ So, the next question is, ‘Can good people cause black, brown, and female workers to feel marginalized and overlooked?’ These kinds of questions can open the door to the kinds of courageous conversations that must take place so that change can happen.”
Over the years, Sophic Solutions has been a catalyst for change across a variety of platforms. Their website features many testimonials from partners and individuals who have benefited from their approach to social justice. As a result, Stephenie and Rodney have been recognized by their peers and the community at large.
In 2021, Sophic Solutions received MARC’s Leadership Award. This award honors people and organizations that advocate regional concepts, approaches, and programs; address regional challenges; apply innovative solutions to regional problems; and advance a regional vision of excellence and opportunity. In 2022, Stephenie Smith, MSW, was selected as the Missouri Social Worker of the Year by the Missouri NASW chapter. The duo has been featured on several podcasts that spotlight social change as they continue to get their message of hope, empowerment, and self-efficacy out to the community.
As they move forward, Sophic’s vision continues to grow. “Growth is one of our goals”. Stephenie says, “Within the next two years, we hope to add more associates dedicated to promoting and educating about social justice, equity and inclusion. Although we are based in Kansas City, Missouri, we serve all over the country. We also want to grow how we do the work, so we are excited about the recent launch of Sophic Circles. Sophic Circles are practical engagement workshop opportunities for our peer partners. We refer to our clients as partners, and Sophic Circles allow partners in like industries or organizations to connect and create community. The long-term benefit is that these circles become an ecosystem of change.”
Sophic Circles brings Rodney and Stephenie’s vision into view. “We know that this work happens best in community. When change agents are isolated, they are less likely to demonstrate the behaviors necessary to perpetuate change. The future of racial equity and inclusion cannot be achieved in silos, but by agents of change working in community to educate ourselves and others.”
So, is Wakanda real? According to Dr. Rodney Smith and Stephenie Smith, with hard work, sacrifice, and a willingness to ask hard questions and then apply practical solutions, the answer is Wakanda is in all of us. We have to be willing to cultivate it.
Unity Ride LLC is more than a driving service. Owner and founder Tarik Gant says it’s a hospitality service as well. When one gets into one Unity’s vehicles, they will find snacks such as chips, fruit, popcorn, fruit bars, and cakes, as well as beverages such as juice, tea, water, and more. Unity Ride provides local trips, long-distance trips, one-way trips, round trips, and chauffeuring services by the hour. They also do mobile pick-up and deliveries, including groceries and restaurants.
Tarik graduated from Antioch High School and attended Tennessee State University and American Baptist College. There he studied psychology and theology. Amazingly, Tarik says he realized at age 37 that college wasn’t necessary for him to do what he loved to do. “I realized that I wasn’t going to find the perfect job. I had to create it,” he says.
Tarik describes himself as a family man. Though now separated from his wife, his three children are homeschooled and often ride with him. Their mother works two jobs and he shares, “My children ride with me just about everyday. The only time they do not ride with me is when it’s a rider I’m not familiar with and or there is not enough room for them and my passengers,” he says.
Based in Nashville, TN, Unity Ride LLC was birthed from Tarik’s understanding of the need for more transportation services and as a response to a life-changing situation he endured. “In 2015, my wife miscarried the first child we conceived together. Although we lost the child in the first trimester, we never knew the sex of the child. I never wanted the baby to be forgotten. I felt that the miscarriage challenged us greatly and strengthened our union. I decided to name the baby Unity. That’s how the name Unity Ride came to life. Not only is it a business, but It is in honor of the baby I never got to hold and see in the flesh,” he says.
Four years later, in 2019, Tarik launched Unity Ride LLC. “I learned I am passionate about transporting people safely and providing an entertaining and freespirited atmosphere while driving for Uber part-time. One night while driving for Uber, I thought I could provide the same services. So from that point, the rest is history,” he says.
Unity Ride LLC serves Nashville and the surrounding areas mostly. Tarik says there is no place in the United States his company will not travel to. When asked what he loves most about what he does, he says, “I love the connections that I make. The friendships, bonds, business, and even family through the people I meet. I love it when the service is so good that my riders express love towards my children and me. Whether they express it verbally or through gestures, I’m grateful most for the connections. Next to that, I love traveling to different places,” he says.
While Tarik has enjoyed the successes of business ownership, he has also faced some challenges. He says that shortly after launching, he was hit with the Covid 19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020. “The world shut down right after I quit my full-time job and started Unity Ride LLC. I overcame that challenge by continuing to advertise and meet riders. My consistency and passion helped me to overcame that challenge,” he says.
Another challenge Unity faced was losing money from riders that would ride but would not pay. “I lost a lot of money when I allowed riders to pay me after they received my services. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I overcame it with a strict policy of having the riders pay invoices before they get into the vehicle,” he says.
Tarik obviously loves the things that currenlty happening with Unity Ride. He also says there is nothing he would change about his experience in business thus far. “I know that everything is happening the way it should be. I know i’m on the right path and doing what I came here to do, so I wouldn’t change a thing about the journey,” Tarik shares.
His advice to others who may follow in footsteps is simple. “Stay in the moment, keep the initial vision alive, and remain conscious of how far you’ve come,” he says. In the future, Tarik’s plans for Unity Ride is to add a full fleet of vehicles provided for all drivers. He also plans to have Unity Ride Stations nationwide, and provide job security for drivers. “The possibilities are limitless and I plan to give each one that comes to mind, a chance,” Tarik says.
To learn more about Unity Ride LLC, please visit their website. www.unity-ride.com h
I Can See YouBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Felicia Reed Photography
It all comes down to what is seen through her eyes.
Arizona-based photographer Angelia Malbrew describes herself as a woman of God. She is also determined to create a life she loves and a legacy she can be proud of.
Angelia is a loving wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, educator, and successful entrepreneur. She is the oldest of two amazing daughters to her parents, whom she says were both solid and dedicated examples.
Angelia attended school in the hospitality state of Mississippi. In 2011, she made a move to Arizona and continued her education. Today, she is the owner of Angelia Malbrew Photography LLC. “I am a traveling luxury portrait photographer with a flare and a passion for making my clients look and feel like celebrities. I offer luxury portrait experiences by rolling out the red carpet and offering a full-on celebrity affair,” she says.
Angelia realized her love for photography many years ago, and making a career out of it only made sense. She shares, “I developed a love of photography when I received my first Polaroid camera when I was around 12 or 14 years old. I began taking photos of my family and friends at school, and little did I know that would be the start of something beautiful. My late father, Clayton, was a huge influence in my life, and watching him take everyone else’s photos at family gatherings is one of the reasons I fell in love with art. My cousin, the late Nate Edwards, motivated me and was never too busy to help or push me to become an amazing photographer.”
The excitement her clients express when they see her work is something Angelia says she loves about photography. “I love how their faces light up like a kid at Christmas when they see the back of my camera. I love how they get excited and cry when they see their images upon delivery. I also love being an artist blessed by God to create art and freeze time. I love what I do more than I could ever articulate, and I know I was born for this,” she says.
Understanding her purpose and being able to enjoy the success she has, Angelia would be remiss not to honor those who have impacted and inspired her the most. Her late grandmother, father, and mother ensured she would be upstanding, successful, and well-rounded. “I do what I do and keep going because God has an amazing purpose for me. My husband and family have been very supportive and kept me going when I needed them most. I owe it to them and myself, as well as other little brown girls that see me as an inspiration to be the best I can be.”
Some of the challenges Angelia says she has faced in business is trying to prove herself to those that aren’t familiar with the process of being photographed professionally. “Luxury isn’t cheap, and cheap isn’t luxury,” she says. Another challenge is educating and advising her clients about how important it is to have professional photographs and legacy portraits. “Sometimes, when people are used to doing things a certain way, it takes a bit of convincing and several connection advances to win them over. That’s ok, and I am here for it all. I welcome challenges.”
In the future, Angelia plans to take the world by storm, create more memorable portraits, and offer exceptional service to all that step in front of her camera. She also plans to continue taking her brand of photography around the globe. “I want to photograph people in every part of the world. My clients, fans, and viewers may miss the chance to travel, so I want to show them the world through my eyes. Keep watching, I am on my way,” she says.
Her advice to those who may follow a path similar to hers is to pray, work hard, pray some more, keep moving, and never give up on your dreams. She also says to stay humble and always find a way to give more than you take. h
Pearls & Politics Kahalah Clay, Esq.By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Kahalah Clay
You get a reaction when you speak of Kahalah Clay in the southwestern Illinois area or Springfield. She’s a wife and a mom of three amazing little people: two handsome boys and a beautiful little girl. In addition to that, Kahalah is a powerfully effective advocate for her community. She is the kind of person people quickly take notice of.
Kahalah Clay, born and raised in East St. Louis, is the daughter of the late former East St. Louis Fire Chief Bruce Hill, Jr. and Mrs. Reola Hill. She graduated from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign with a degree in Pre-Law/Speech Communication and later obtained her law degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Kahalah has served as St. Clair County assistant state’s attorney and won her campaign for Circuit Clerk of St. Clair County three terms in a row. In November 2021, Kahalah stepped down as Circuit Clerk, taking on a new role as Chief Legal Counsel at - Illinois Prisoner Review Board.
“I was blessed to serve as St. Clair County Clerk for ten years. I transitioned to my new position as Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Prisoner Review Board coming up on a year now. That’s my nine-tofive. I was blessed to launch my God idea, Pearls & Politics, LLC, in June of this year. From the LLC, stemmed Pearls & Politics Podcast,” Kahalah shared.
Pearls & Politics Podcast is a platform for the empowerment of women and the uplifting of our communities. “The podcast has been a fourth-month, full-time labor of love, but God is blowing on it,” Kahalah explains.
As a former politician, Kahalah has seen and survived a great deal. With Pearls & Politics, she is creating a space that won’t just inform but educate. It will allow her to combine all of the elements that make her who she is, African American female, attorney, politician, wife, mother, and family-focused community leader to advance her culture.
“I had been praying for this wonderful “God idea” for years. Just an opportunity to make a difference while providing additional income for my family. And ultimately leave a legacy for my children’s children. I think about all of the business moguls and the ideas that have revolutionized the world as we know it, and I was like, ‘Okay, God. What do you have for me?’”
The birth of Pearls & Politics is an excellent example of beauty for ashes. People had time to sit still and refocus when the world shut down due to the Covid 19 pandemic of 2020. As a result, many great and innovative ideas were born.
During the pandemic, everything was virtual. We lived and interacted with our jobs, loved ones, and doctors via virtual platforms like Zoom and WebEx. I had the opportunity to take part in an Alpha Kappa Alpha Women in Politics forum. All attendees were A. K. As and were either currently running for office or elected officials. We discussed the current political climate, voter registration, what it meant to be a black woman in politics, and why we ran for office. It allowed black female politicians to express themselves, discussing their positions and perceptions of life as African American women in politics. The conversation was insightful and engaging. I remember thinking, ‘Man, this feels good!’” Kahalah exclaimed. “And it hit me. This needed to be a podcast.” With her God idea in hand, Kahalah started putting things in motion, and before she knew it, Pearls & Politics LLC was born.
Despite her public persona and political reputation, Kahalah sees herself starting from the bottom as she builds her brand and works to gain traction for her podcast. “So many great things have already been birthed from the Pearls & Politics. For example, we partner with a local law firm and my church to host a voter registration rally. We were able to bring the community out to meet the experts. It didn’t matter whom they were voting for. Our goal was to get people ready to go to the polls and let their vote speak for them.”
The rally was held in East St. Louis’ Jones Park. Pearls & Politics, in partnership with Sanderford & Associates and Power of Change Christian Church, created a family-friendly environment. Some vendors were available to discuss community healthcare, family food, and nutrition, as well as hear from the experts about the issues voters needed to be aware of on election day.
“The voter registration drive is just one of the many things we hope to birth from the LLC. But Pearls & Politics isn’t just political talk,” Kahalah explains. “The end goal of the podcast is the advancement of the African American woman, to give access to useful and accurate information to the African American community and communities of color. This includes discussing business and entrepreneurship, women’s and men’s health and self-care, financial health, and home ownership. These topics are important to any community but have systematically been withheld from the black communities.”
The name Pearls & Politics isn’t just because she is affiliated with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. The name has a deeper meaning. “The name Pearls & Politics has a purpose. The pearls are of wisdom, knowledge, and information relevant to communities of color, specifically women of color. Getting good reliable information into the hands of the black community is pivotal to cultural growth and encouraging citizens to self-advocate by voting. We have covered mental health in the black community extensively. We looked at it from the black female’s perspective, the black male, and black children’s. It’s important to understand that each group needs something different. We did an entire series on financial literacy because, as a community, we have to learn to be fiscally responsible and understand how to become successful entrepreneurs and business owners and how to invest. These important pearls will help us grow and advance as a people and a community.”
“More important than anything else, the podcast is all about providing the African American community and communities of color with political information that is not misinformation,” Kahalah explains. “Studies have shown, and statistics are clear, that the black community is one of the most purposefully misled communities. The abundance of misinformation during the 2020 election was geared toward the black population. So creating a reliable outlet for information and resources is important to me. As a people, we need to be registered and mobilized. Being registered does nothing if you don’t vote.”
Launched in June of 2022, Pearls and Politics has been gaining traction all over the country and around the world. “I’m excited to see the progress we are making. I was initially nervous, but within the first six weeks, we had over a thousand followers on Facebook. It doubled in twelve weeks. The steady growth confirms the need for this kind of platform. Our podcast and Youtube shorts have been viewed in over thirty countries. The episode with senator Chris Belt received two-thousand views in seven hours!” Kahalah said with excitement.
Although Pearls & Politics is focused heavily on African American women, it is also catching the attention of male views. “We call our tribe or female viewers Political Pearls. They make up ninety percent of our viewers. But we also have male views, who currently comprise ten percent of those watching. Those are our political gents who seem to be taking notice.”
If there is one thing Kahalah has proven as a woman of faith and the people, it gets done when she sets her mind to do something. Pearls & Politics is just one episode away from taking the world by storm and changing how African American women in politics are seen by their constituents and themselves.
K-9 Safety Consultants LLCBy Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Flem Peacher VI
Family is essential to Flem Preacher Sr. He is the sixth Flem Preacher in his family and the second generation of leadership in the K-9 Safety Consultants firm.
K-9 Safety Consultants LLC was launched on January 29, 1985, by founder Flem Peacher V of Detroit, Michigan. K9 Safety Consultants is a household name and brand people can trust. K9 Safety Consultants has trained private firms, law enforcement agencies, celebrities, athletes, and the general public. The “K9 Safety Method” enhances the relationship and communication between dog owners and their furry friends.
Flem Peacher VI, the company’s CEO, and his wife, Talitha Peacher, the company administrator, along with his sister, Flemesha (Peacher) Armstrong, president, are in charge of securing the family-run company for the next generation.
The founder of K-9 Safety Consultants was Flem Peacher V. This business was not just a job but a calling. Birth from tragedy, the founder Flem Peacher V built a legacy that would span over forty years.
“Our story started with a near-fatal mauling. When my dad was around thirteen, he was walking down the street, and a neighbor’s pit bull got loose. The vicious attack left my father close to death. Needless to say, that experience traumatized him. After surviving that attack, my father was terrified of dogs. It didn’t matter what kind. He couldn’t be around them or see them. If someone said the word, he would panic, looking around to see if there was a dog nearby. My grandfather was concerned and didn’t want his son to continue to live in terror. He firmly believed that the best way to get over your fear was to face them head-on. So, my grandparents bought my father a puppy. This helped him see that not all dogs were the same. As he bonded with the dog, my grandparents noticed that he had an unusual gift for training the dog. This confirms that everything happens for a reason. If not for the attack, the talent my father possessed may have never been revealed.”
After overcoming his fear, Flem’s father fell in love with dogs. Everyone around him noticed his unique gift of reading a dog’s behavior. They also noticed that he could train dogs to perform practically anything on command. Through experience, he began to develop what is known as the “K9 Safety Method.” This method has been proven and used worldwide to transform millions of dogs into model citizens. “After marrying my mother, my dad moved to Arlington, Texas, and went on to receive many specialty certifications. Including Schutzhund training.”
According to the United Schutzhund Clubs of America or USCA, “Schutzhund is a German word meaning “protection dog.” It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating dog traits that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. Schutzhund’s work concentrates on three parts. Many are familiar with the obedience work of the American Kennel Club’s affiliates and will recognize the first two parts, tracking and obedience. The Schutzhund standards for the third part, protection work, are similar to those for dogs in police work.”
Upon returning to Detroit with his wife, young son, and daughter in tow, Flem’s father, saw the need to add another layer to the training of personal security dogs. “When my father moved us back to Detroit recognized that the dogs had to be able to discern their environment. With the crime rate as high as it was, the animal couldn’t properly protect its owner in the streets of Detroit if they weren’t trained to do so. So, he trained them in real conditions.”
This led Flem’s father to go door to door, offering his services. “He went from house to house asking people to let him transform their dogs. And that’s how it started. One house, one client, one dog at a time.”
Eventually, word spread about the success Flem’s father was having, and their clientele grew. By the time Flem was ready to take over the business, the Peacher name was known by dog owners across the country.
One of the many things K-9 Safety consultants prides itself on is that they not only train the dog, but we train the owner. “What makes us unique is that we train the client and their dog. Because the dog is only as good as its handler, and the handler is only as good as the coach. As coaches, we have to educate and empower the handler. Once the owner or handler has completely boughtin to the theory behind what we do, you see a different kind of relationship between the dog and its owner.”
K-9 Safety Consultants’ “both sides of the leash” approach to training gives them success with dogs that most people won’t work with or own. “We are known for dealing with the dogs that most people have given up on,” Flem explains. “We have partnered with rescue organizations and taken on dogs sentenced to be euthanized. We’ve found that most people don’t know how to handle or respond to dogs with behavior issues. Like us, dogs have emotional issues and trauma, but they cannot express it the way we do. That’s where our approach excels.”
Flem and his sister Flemesha were raised watching, helping, and being trained by their father in the family business. Their mother was the executive administrator, and their father the CEO. Just like his name, Flem knew that K-9 Consultants would be passed on to him one day. At the age of twenty-one, he and his wife were newly married and had just purchased their first home. They were starting their new life together, and Flem was preparing to take up the torch when the recession hit.
“It had always been my dream to run the business, but because of the recession, there was no business. Our clients had to choose between paying basic utilities and paying for dog training. All I could do was stand by and watch our business, legacy, and my father’s hard work dry up. My father did everything he could to keep the doors open, but eventually, in about 2007, the banks foreclosed, and K-9 Safety Consultants was no more,” Flem confessed. With fewer clients, employees were laid off. “It was the toughest period in my life. We lost our home and our car. We lost everything. I’ve been a certified master trainer since I was thirteen. I didn’t know anything else.”
After losing everything, Flem found himself at what he said was his lowest point. “I had to work, so a friend connected me with a job as a part-time lunch aid, making $8.00 an hour. I was at my lowest point. My parents were multi-millionaires, so I never knew the kind of struggle I was experiencing. God was humbling me. Ministry wasn’t on my radar then, but God had plans.”
Taking the job as a lunch aid, Flem trusted that there was something bigger ahead. Like his dad, it wasn’t long before people noticed his unique talent. “The students at my school were rough. But they needed someone to give them structure and show them that they cared. Although I was just an aid, I didn’t sit by and allow them to be disrespectful. I knew how to give constructive discipline, and people took notice.”
Even in his dark place, God showed favor to Flem. Within ten years, he went from being a part-time cafeteria aid to Dean of students. “I didn’t want there to be a reason I couldn’t progress, so I went to school to show myself approved.” After losing everything, Flem and his family were finally starting to stand on firm financial ground. But the dream he thought was dead was only sleeping.
“K-9 Safety Consultants had closed physically, but it was always on my mind. So, once I made decent money and we were stable, I started training dogs again. I started just like my father did. I went door to door.”
It wasn’t long before K-9 Safety Consultants was back in business with over two thousand clients. Flem could leave education and go full-time into the training business again.
The company continues to prosper and be a blessing to its community. They won the business of the year in 2022. And through their K-9 Cadet program, they have mentored twentyfive hundred children and youth, ages nine to eighteen, because the Peacher family legacy is bigger than dog training. They have also granted scholarships to students who what to further their education.
“This has truly been a rollercoaster ride, but I wouldn’t do anything differently. God has blessed us beyond measure with a life and legacy that I pray will last another forty years.”
Sunshine Home Improvement, LLCBy Monica Montgomery Indoor Photos Provided by Jerryck Jacob Outdoor Photos Provided Ryan N. Dyson
It’s common knowledge that black women can wear many hats, but can they all do it with a smile? Arielle “Sunshine” Middleton is proof positive that yes-we-can. She has a full-time military career and manages other skilled positions as a landscaper, carpenter, and artisan. Her most important job is as a single mother of five-year-old twins. In March of 2022, she formally launched Sunshine Home Improvement LLC. Arielle’s new company combines her love for people, her skill as a carpenter, and her artistry to create affordable design dreams for her clients.
“My reasons for getting into this were purely personal and selfish,” Arielle explains. “I’ve always been a very thrifty person. I try to do everything on a budget. I decided I wanted some new furniture pieces and home décor, but everything at these stores is so expensive. Even the marked-down and clearance items are still ridiculous. I’m like, ‘This isn’t a sale!’” she laughs.
As needs must, Arielle discovered thrift stores. “I found some gorgeous pieces for cheap. Even the not-so-beautiful items had the potential to become special with a little TLC. Usually, I could restore or upcycle items for little or nothing, and I enjoyed the work.”
Arielle’s passion for décor and restoring furniture was an outlet, so she took every opportunity to practice it. “After I finished my projects, I started doing things for my friends. When they would move, buy a new home, or want a change, and I would hear them say they needed a coffee table or a nightstand, I would think, ‘I can do that.’ So, I would find a five-dollar table, restore it and give it as a gift.” To her surprise, people loved her work.
After a year of impressing her friends with her ability to restore and transform items into something extraordinary, Arielle’s friends encouraged her to take the next step. “I had been doing my little transformations for friends for about a year when they were like, ‘Girl, you should make this a business.’ The thought had occurred to me, but my reality at the time was that I had a full-time job in the military, and I was a single mom with twins. I figured starting a business was a pipe dream way down the road,” Arielle explained. Then the pressures of life happened.
It’s no secret that our service men and women deal with highly stressful situations daily. Arielle has traveled the world with the military and has seen her fair share. When her future was uncertain, she turned to crafts as her outlet. “As I continued to think about it, there was a lot to consider. I was having trouble with my job. I didn’t know where my military career was going, and I was finding the craft work as a form of release,” says Arielle. “It turned into a mental health thing. Painting and crafting helped me stay balanced and sane. The feeling I got from sitting and painting was like talking to a counselor. It became my therapy.”
In effect, Arielle turned something basic, and a fun hobby into something she believed was life-saving. “Standing on the other side, I decided to launch the business as a birthday gift to myself.” Not wanting to jump into the deep end right away, Arielle decided to start small, but thanks to social media, her business grew overnight.
“I thought I would start with getting a few business cards printed to see if people were interested, but a couple of TikToks later, I’m getting clients from across the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia). Next, my friends all got together and sent me to the Black Business Expo. As a result, I’ve just signed my first major contract with a brokerage design firm Red Door Realty.” Arielle will be designing and building custom closets and pantries for million-dollar homes.
The amazing thing about Arielle’s story is that she had never picked up a hammer before joining the military. “One of my many jobs in my military career was as a combat engineer. It was the first time I had picked a hammer or a saw. As an engineer, I became familiar with woodworking, concrete, and building design, because my group’s job was to build schools from the ground up. So, when I started doing the small projects, my muscle memory kicked in, and I realized I actually knew what I was doing. I could actually do this.”
With newfound confidence, Arielle went out and “thrifted” some tools, dusted off her building skills, and began her journey as a carpenter. Her skills as a designer and artist came from where most great gifts and traits stem… her mother. “I got my natural ability to paint and design from my mother. She studied art, and I learned a lot from watching and being around her. My natural talent for art and design and my skills as a builder have made this an easy process.”
Although Arielle’s original purpose for discovering her talent was selfish, it has become a passionate desire to help people who don’t have much money to spend on décor or home renovations. “My mom used her artistic talent to build a business as a nail art designer. She owned her salon for over twenty years. Plus, she had an eye for beautiful things. She could put together amazing combinations. So as a kid, I grew up in the high-end stores as she purchased the odds and ends that brought her visions to life. As an adult, I go into these same stores, and I’m like, I’m not paying that much for that!” Arielle laughs. “I decided I’m going to go over here and get the old table that the person originally bought at the highend store and make it live again.”
Believing that having a beautiful and comfortable home shouldn’t have to cost a fortune, Arielle began to respond to what others were saying. “I kept hearing about how expensive it was to do simple renovations or interior designs. I started asking, what are these people charging? Some of these prices out here are ridiculous. My main focus in launching the business was to provide people with affordable options for getting the home of their dreams.”
Arielle’s resourcefulness and desire to deliver dreams on a dime pushed her to find quality materials at a discounted rate so she could pass those saving on to her clients.
“I discovered ways to get discounted wood and paint. I upcycle furniture so clients have nice pieces without having to go and pay the new prices. I go to home sales, where people have gutted their old kitchens and put in new stuff. I repurpose the old stuff into a new laundry room for someone else at a fourth of the cost. Giving customers these options to help them achieve their goals without breaking the bank is what I’m all about.”
Since launching the business, Arielle has been busy, but there were obstacles. “It’s one thing to do the work. I love when I finish a project, and the homeowner sees it for the first time. It makes the long nights worthwhile. My biggest issue was understanding the business side of things.” At thirty-three years old and fifteen of those years spent in the military, Arielle didn’t have much exposure to what it takes to build a business.
“Getting my LLC and all that paperwork done correctly was a struggle. It was such a struggle because I had no clue what I was doing. I thought all I had to do was go online, file paperwork, and pay a fee. Thankfully I had recently hired an accountant who reached out to me the day before an important deadline and told me everything I needed to do in less than twenty-four hours. Now that was stressful,” Arielle explained. “I didn’t have anyone to talk me through those critical parts. I wish I’d had a mentor to help explain what needed to be done. Thankfully I could get everything done before I faced any penalties.”
As Sunshine Home Improvement continues to grow, it remains small and personable. “When people call, they talk to me. I mow the lawns and hang the pictures. I work with contractors for larger jobs, but for the most part, it’s all me,” Arielle said.
The future is bright for Arielle. In five years, she will retire from the military, and Sunshine Home Improvement will be her focus. In the meantime, Arielle plans to continue to do what she can to help people create dreams on a dime.