Huami Magazine Detroit March/April 2024

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Picking Up The Pieces

2024 Vol. 2 Issue 8
Scan the QR code and email us to schedule your complimentary consult and get your company connected today! Lunch & Learns Team Building Coaching & Workshops Build Your Self-Care Tool Kit Consulting & and more.... SERVICES INCLUDE: Visit Visit Unwrap You provides companies with on-site wellness plans to improve employee well-being and increase workplace productivity. Scan This COACH MELODY MCCLELLAN Corporate Wellness Expert & Speaker

Well, the first quarter of 2024 is almost over, and the question that I ask is, what have you done so far? If you are like me, you have created a list of goals for this year, and with anything, life has happened. With many distractions and obstacles, it can often be difficult to sift through the many challenges. However, success is a close friend of determination and persistence, so I encourage you to push and persevere and remember why you made that list in the first place.

I often imagine what it would be like if everything that I imagine I could do, I get it done. It feels so good to plan, yet it does not always work out how I plan. I truly believe that God gives us each a divine plan and purpose for our lives. I believe God speaks purpose into our minds and hearts, but He doesn’t stop there. He intends for us to return to Him for guidance and instruction for our purpose.

I once heard that if God blessed us like an all-you-can-eat buffet, we would probably eat all that we can eat in one setting and never return to Him for anything more. That is not how God works. God wants us to stay connected and follow the path He creates for our lives, which is constructed with steps that must be followed as He intended.

As we approach the second quarter of the year, I want to encourage you to revisit the goals you have in place and remind yourselves of your why. If we can think about it, then it is possible. If we trust God’s plan, then it will definitely happen, and it will happen in His time.

Work on your goals and dreams and goals now. All of your hard work will pay off. More than anything, we must keep pursuing what we have asked for. We must trust God and get it done! Detroit - March/April 2024 4 Howard Gaither Photography Tamara Smith Terry L. Watson Publisher Dorjea’ McClammey Writer Monica Montgomery Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Marrissa Dick Writer Still Shots Photography Photographer Rolando Ochoa Photographer Smitha Lee Photographer Email Mykel Media Company LLC Greensboro, NC 2024 All Rights Reserved Scan The QR Code Above To Visit Our Website 336-340-7844 General Inquiries A Letter From The Editor
Terry L. Watson
Later....... Just
Now, Then,
Get It Done!

Also Featured

Trina Pringle

She has helped to establish a prominent theatre in the midwest. Learn more about her journey.

Dr. Jay Davis

Alisha Wright

Indianapolis, IN 22 24

His decisions landed in a place he never thought he would be. Learn how he has used that experience to motivate and build up his community.

Dallas. TX

She is known for having a sharp eye for detail. Learn more about her company and her vision.

Memphis, TN

Picking Up The Pieces
Shana K. White Nakeesha Tolden-Mosley Tax Nakeesha Tolden-Mosley Author of Locs
C. Michelle Greene-Smalls
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34 Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Lola Knight A Caregivers Story Terry L. Watson

Picking Up The Pieces

“In this line of work, one of our primary challenges is raising awareness about the importance of stability for families rather than solely focusing on housing solutions.”

What better way of helping others is to have first-hand experience and knowledge of what it feels like?

Shana K. White of Detroit, MI, is the founder of Picking Up The Pieces Inc. Her nonprofit organization focuses on offering vital support, including basic necessities and furniture. By addressing these needs, Shana strives to alleviate the obstacles linked with reentry into stable housing, ultimately fostering stability for families in transition. Shana has dedicated her time to volunteering for various homeless shelters and organizations, establishing herself as an integral figure within her community.

Established in June 2023, Picking Up The Pieces operates on a referral basis. Shana says her organization stands as a testament and reflects her commitment to the welfare of her community. Guiding families through the challenges of reentry into stable housing and reigniting their sense of “home” has become her life’s passion. “Our organization takes great satisfaction in knowing that families are filled with hope by the time we leave their homes,” she says.

Conversely, Shana’s dedication to altruism has long been evident through utilizing her interior design prowess to aid others. Shana is a mother of two beautiful children and has devoted nearly 13 years to working in a professional medical setting. Despite her career path, her true calling lies in helping people and her deep-seated love for interior design. She recalls the words of her mother, “You’re always making something out of nothing, Shana.”

Her vision for the program stems from Shana’s personal experience navigating homelessness. Her personal experiences inspired her to provide stability to families in need. In doing so, Shana realized that seemingly mundane items like forks, knives, and plates are indispensable for essential functions such as eating, and they significantly contribute to societal well-being and functionality. She also recognized that stability, distinct from mere “housing,” is essential. “The absence of basic comforts can profoundly impact children’s well-being, leading to issues such as social anxiety, low academic performance, ADHD, and depression,” she says. “Surprisingly, even after finding housing, 95% of families continue to sleep on the floor for over six months due to a lack of essential furnishings.”

Helping and serving others is not always an easy task. While it may involve pouring from one’s heart, it can also yield stress and frustration. Shana says, “In this line of work, one of our primary challenges is raising awareness about the importance of stability for families rather than solely focusing on housing solutions. We encounter difficulty in attracting donors who prefer to contribute to larger, more well-known organizations for recognition. Another challenge we face is ensuring we retain the right talent to drive our mission forward. We grapple with the overarching housing crisis, further complicating our efforts, and the funding limitations that are narrowly directed towards addressing immediate housing needs rather than fostering holistic stability present yet another hurdle for us to overcome. Still, we persevere.”


Shana’s response to such adversities included intensifying their advocacy efforts to highlight the critical importance of stability for families over shortterm housing solutions. They’ve focused on targeted outreach to attract donors who share their mission and have prioritized creating a supportive and fun work environment, offering professional development and training. Funding is critical for any nonprofit organization, and its lack can determine who and how many people are helped. Shana and her team have strategically searched for funding sources and advocated for policy changes.

Moving forward, Picking Up The Pieces has chosen to focus on the following objectives: Enhanced Awareness that will intensify campaigns to highlight family stability’s importance through diverse channels. Diversified Fundraising that will expand fundraising strategies to engage individual donors, corporate sponsors, and mission-aligned foundations. Talent Development that will invest in team growth to retain top talent and ensure operational continuity. Innovative Housing Solutions that will involve collaborating on transitional housing, affordability, and community land trusts. Finally, they will focus on advocacy and policy reform that address homelessness’s root causes and provide comprehensive family support. “Through these strategies, we aim to overcome challenges and continue our impact on families experiencing housing instability.”

For those considering to follow a similar path of Shana’s, she offers the following advice. First, finding a cause that deeply resonates with you and aligns with your values is crucial. Your passion and commitment will sustain you through challenges and setbacks. Take the time to educate yourself about the issues you aim to address and stay informed about developments in the field. Awareness of the broader context will guide your efforts and help you identify effective strategies. Building strong relationships with community partners and like-minded organizations is essential. Collaboration fosters innovation, resource-sharing, and collective impact. Be prepared to pivot and adapt your approach based on changing circumstances, feedback, and emerging needs. Flexibility is key to navigating complex and dynamic environments. Addressing social challenges requires resilience and perseverance. Anticipate setbacks and obstacles but remain steadfast in your commitment to your mission. Balancing a passion for your work with self-care is crucial. Prioritize your physical and emotional well-being to sustain your energy and effectiveness in the long run. Lastly, acknowledge and celebrate successes, no matter how small. Recognizing progress fuels motivation and morale, inspiring continued dedication to your cause,” she says. h


Nakeesha Tolden-Mosley Tax Services

In regard to profession, Nakeesha Tolden-Mosley of Caseyville, IL, is the founder of Nakeesha Tolden-Mosley Tax Services and Information Technology Professional. She also owns Nakeesha Tolden-Mosley Tax Services. Her company provides Tax Planning and Advice, Personal Tax Preparation, Business Tax Preparation, and E-Filing.

Nakeesha Tolden-Mosley Tax Services was founded in 2011. Nakeesha says her journey in business began with her searching for methods to supplement her income. She enrolled in tax classes at a local financial tax office and was given the opportunity to serve as the office manager. From there, things grew and led her to where she is today: assisting clients with their tax needs. “I’m passionate about helping others understand tax laws. I also love assisting my clients with how to make the most out of their paycheck during the year and understanding the obligation of not owing at the end of the year.”

Nakeesha grew up in O’Fallon, Illinois, and as a child growing up, she says the importance of having more than one stream of income was imparted to her. “I knew to sustain a quality lifestyle, there had to be more than one way of doing it.” Nakeesha acquired a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a Master of Business Administration from Lindenwood University. She is a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and serves as the Financial Secretary on the Climate and Culture Changers Board of Directors. Nakeesa was also awarded the Side Hustle Honors Award for 2023, a testament to her commitment to simultaneously holding down a full-time job and side hustle. Additionally, she is a member of the Hustlers Council for the Side Hustle Honors Awards.

“I’m passionate about helping others understand tax laws. I also love assisting my clients with how to make the most out of their paycheck during the year and understanding the obligation of not owing at the end of the year.”
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Tax Planning and Advice, Personal Tax Preparation, Business Tax

Being a full-time employee and holding down a side hustle can be a very daunting task for most. Nakeesha has faced this challenge head-on, along with a few others, such as marketing and growing her business and clientele and researching how similar small businesses operate. “I have had many roadblocks in this journey, but I embrace every struggle I have faced upfront. It has helped me think outside the box. I also know everyone has room to build their clientele and business,” she says. “I write down my goals (weekly, yearly, and future) and plan out my days. That is one way I meet such challenges. I have also been able to separate my full-time career by setting boundaries and allotting my time appropriately. I set up my hours to be available in the evenings and allow earlier and longer days on the weekends. I have structured my business to be virtual for clients who have busy schedules. My clients can upload their documents, answer questions, and sign their returns electronically through my secure portal. These features allow me to allocate my time appropriately and to take on more clients without them having to come in person,” she says.

Nakeesha says her approach to business has been greatly influenced by her father, who also had a full-time career as an educator and managed a business on the side. At an early age, her Dad taught Nakeesha to sustain a fulltime job that would provide benefits, stability, and funding for her business. He also taught her how to use her side hustle to supplement her income and build her legacy and future.

Looking ahead, Nakeesha says her goal is to develop her own tax software and market it to other tax professionals. Nakeesha loves spending time with her husband of 16 years, Julian Mosley, and their handsome son, Braylon, and fur baby, Blaze.

To learn more about Nakeesha ToldenMosley Tax Services, please visit their website. h Detroit - March/April 2024 12
and E-Filing Services Offered

In the inviting city of North Little Rock, Arkansas, known for its waterfront attractions and warm Southern charm, there exists a culinary sanctuary called SAPs Creole Cuisine. Behind its doors lies not just a restaurant but a symbol of a remarkable woman’s journey—a journey marked by resilience, triumph, and an unwavering determination to live out her dreams.

At 38 years old, Sylvia Pennington is the proud owner and operator of SAPs, Creole Cuisine, which is recognized as being authentically New Orleans. The acronym SAPs is for (S)ylvia (A)nn (P)ennington. Her story is a testament to the power of the human spirit to rise above adversity. When Huami Magazine caught up with the restaurant owner, she was preparing a food-tasting presentation for the Arkansas Minority Health Commission (AMHC) as their official caterer for their upcoming health fair.

“I am attempting to combat the health crisis within minority and underserved communities. “Most people don’t want to eat healthy because they don’t want to sacrifice good-tasting food. I cook healthy food and my food tastes good. I’ve made my own seasoning for at least 15 years and every dish has its own no-salt seasoning.”

Her journey began in the vibrant, colorful city of New Orleans, where she was born and raised within the rich tapestry of the Creole culture. But her early years were marked by hardship and struggle. She was the youngest of three siblings; her family dynamic shifted when her mother married, and their family nucleus changed. “When my mother married my stepfather, we moved from the comfort of having my extended family close by to a very different life.”

Most people don’t want to eat healthy because they don’t want to sacrifice goodtasting food. I cook healthy food and my food tastes good.
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Unfortunately, their family became poisoned by abuse and dysfunction. “Things were really bad. From the ages 11-16, I slept with a knife under my pillow for protection,” Sylvia said. Although she experienced a parental disconnect, there were others who were sent to fill those emotional voids.

“We spent lots of time in church and it was there that I met the late Lois Charles. God sent her to make my life a little easier because she just clung to me for some reason. She would hug me and love on me. She gave me something to look forward to. We called her mother and she was really like my other mama,” she shared. There were others who filled the emotional gaps, void of familial support.

“11SG Calvin Bassett stood out not just as a JROTC instructor but as a beacon of guidance and support. Recognizing the struggles I faced, Serg Bassett and his wife didn’t hesitate to extend their care beyond the classroom. They ensured I was clothed, provided me with glasses, and even introduced me to the world of fine dining — a first for me. More than a teacher, Serg became a mentor, imparting lessons on self-respect and the expectations one should have from others. In my heart, he occupies the space of a father, a sentiment echoed in his unwavering acceptance of me as a daughter. They have two sons, and I always say that I’m their third child,” she laughed.

Despite the challenges she faced, Sylvia’s spirit remained unbroken. Academically, she ranked in the top 10 of her class, graduating with honors in 2004 from L.B. Landry High School and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of New Orleans. Then, in 2005, Katrina hit. It was two months before my oldest daughter was born. Sylvia, along with approximately 30 family members, evacuated the area and ended up in Memphis, Tennessee, where she stayed for about seven months before returning back home to New Orleans.

In the aftermath of Katrina, Sylvia’s resilience was tested once again as she sought to rebuild her life amidst the chaos. Forced to leave New Orleans, She found herself in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she began a new chapter working in photography and raising her family. She never wavered from her heart’s desire to one day own her very own restaurant. But life had more twists and turns in store for Sylvia. A tumultuous marriage shrouded by infidelity left her feeling isolated and alone, but it was during this dark period that Sylvia found solace. Detroit - March/April 2024 16

“I was feeling depressed. I begged God for peace..for 30 days, I prayed for peace. I isolated myself from everyone and spoke only with my brother.”

Fueled by a deep-seated passion for cooking instilled in her by her mother, Sylvia’s dreams never wavered. Despite the setbacks and challenges she faced, she remained steadfast in her determination to open her own restaurant. In 2022, that dream became a reality with the grand opening of SAP Creole Cuisine—a testament to Sylvia’s perseverance and unyielding spirit.

Today, you may find her spending time with her daughters, 18-year-old Myrionne and 10-year-old Mykell, or planning her upcoming wedding to her fiancé, Daron Plummer Jr.; she is a shining example of resilience, triumph, and love. Through the highs and lows of her journey, Sylvia has remained guided by faith and fueled by the love and support of those who have stood by her side.

As guests step through the doors of SAPs Creole Cuisine, they are greeted by delicious food and the indomitable spirit of a woman who refused to let life’s challenges define her.

Sylvia Pennington’s journey reminds us that no matter what obstacles we face, we can overcome anything with courage, resilience, and love. As she continues to write the next chapter of her story, Sylvia stands as an inspiration to us all, a beacon of hope in a world where anything is possible for those who dare to dream.

“What I love most is coming through the door, knowing that I accomplished my dream. I cut on my own light and see that God never left me.”


18 A T a s t e o f N e w O r l e a n s

Learn More About My Experience of Being A Caregiver For My Mother

CHAPTER ONE: What Do We Do Now?

I can remember the day just as if it was today. My mother had suffered an Ischemic Stroke nearly four months ago, and it took her independence and her ability to communicate and left her paralyzed on the right side of her body. Within the previous 120 days, she had visited three different rehabilitation facilities, and we had reached the point in her recovery process that required our family to make a very difficult decision.

While in rehab, Mom didn’t make a lot of progress. Her ability to speak and her speech was measured very low, as she suffered from Aphasia. (A disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these areas are on the left side of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury. - Even more, she didn’t make a lot of progress in physical therapy and still required some assistance with every physical need. Our family all agreed that we didn’t want Mom to continue to reside in the Skilled Nursing Facility, so preparations were made for her to come home and to my home, to be more specific. Detroit - March/April 2024 20
Photo Provided by Adobe Stock Photos
Yet, there was much more that my family and I would be tasked with doing, and we were thrust into the role of caregiver without any formal training or experience. The only tools and resources I had available to assist me were my unwavering love for my mother and a Godly assignment to honor her.

Coming to my home and providing accommodations for my mother’s new physical and emotional needs was something that I never imagined that I would ever have to do. Yes, my mother had new emotional needs, as she was still adapting to her new style of life, a style that depended on someone for everything she needed. At that time, I could only imagine how difficult that was for my mother, a woman who, up until the morning she suffered her stroke, was always helping anyone who needed help and putting all of her needs aside. If I could try to accurately describe the level of my mother’s independence before her brain injury, my best description would be of a servant and someone who refused to be still and rest until everyone else was taken care of.

What Do We Do Now?

The day finally arrived for my mom to come to her new home. As a family, my siblings had devised a plan to care for her. This also involved working with a reputable home care agency. With their assistance, my mother’s basic care needs would be met. All that I expected to do was coordinate the scheduling of their visits and administer my mother’s medicine, which would also involve insulin injections. We had plans in place to assist our mother with getting to the bathroom and managing things of that nature. I don’t consider myself to be a professional chef, but well before my mother’s stroke, she’d developed a love for my cooking, so I felt comfortable in that category. Yet, there was much more that my family and I would be tasked with doing, and we were thrust into the role of caregiver without any formal training or experience. The only tools and resources I had available to assist me were my unwavering love for my mother and a Godly assignment to honor her. Looking back on the previous 120 days, to even the day I got the call that my mother and best friend had suffered a stroke, and fast forward to the day my mother came to live in my home, my life would never be the same.

Welcome to the world of caregiving.

I decided to share my experience as a full-time caregiver for my mother to consult, console, and inform other families who may be going through a similar situation. As a son, caring for my mother never feels like work; if so, it is a labor of love. Please continue to follow this message, Becoming A Caregiver, in Huami Magazine. I hope that sharing my experience will help others. From one caregiver to the next, God Bless You! h

Family is all we got, and we have to stick together. If one has an opportunity to lead, he must lead the family the best he can, and others will follow.

Dr. Jay Davis, a renowned A-list barber located in the southwest community of Dallas, TX, is a trailblazer in the barbering and hair replacement industry. Born and raised in Arkansas, he now calls Dallas home and has over 17 years of expertise in barbering and mentoring. Without question, Dr. Jay is a highly respected figure in his field.

In the ever-evolving world of barbering, Dr. Jay Davis has set the bar high, and his consistent passion and dedication have led to endless opportunities. Notably, Dr. Jay holds the distinction of being the youngest barber to earn a doctorate, a testament to his dedication and commitment to his craft. His passion for education and skill development led him to establish the upcoming MasterBarber University, an institution dedicated to nurturing the next generation of top-tier barbers and entrepreneurs. Dr. Jay’s innovative techniques and profound understanding of hair aesthetics have made him a sought-after professional among the A-list clientele, such as God Shammgod, Raekwon, Floyd Mayweather, and many more. Even more, Dr. Jay’s work is not just about cutting hair; it’s about enhancing each client’s personal style and confidence and building lifelong relationships.

He shares, “As a mentor, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and expertise. I am also committed to inspiring up-and-coming barbers to reach their full potential. I hope that my journey from Arkansas to evolving to being a respected professional worldwide will serve as a beacon of inspiration for many.”

Jay shares that his success is a reflection of the sound family structure he was raised in. “Family has been my main support system all of my life, and it is very important to me. I have one son, Jayden Davis. My parents were married two days before I was born and continue to be, now for 38 years. I also have two brothers and a sister, and I am the oldest of the boys and have many nephews and nieces. Family is all we got, and we have to stick together. If one has an opportunity to lead, he must lead the family the best he can, and others will follow.”

Jay graduated from a small school, Arkadelphia High School in Arkansas, with an advanced diploma in 2003. He attended a few different colleges and studied engineering before dropping out his senior year to enroll in barber school. He later graduated from New Tyler Barber College in North Little Rock, AR, in 2008 and graduated with a Crossover and Instructor License from Washington Barber College in SW Little Rock in 2015. He achieved the status of a Hair Replacement Specialist in 2017 and an SMP Specialist (Scalp Micropigmentation) in 2020. That same year, Jay graduated from Miracle University in Virginia with his Doctoral Degree.


Jay is the owner of Master Barber LLC, a brand and school that promotes education, cosmetic and barbering events, products, and much more. Jay says, “At Master Barber, our mission is to provide high-quality education and training to aspiring barbers. We strive to create a supportive learning environment that encourages our students to develop their skills, knowledge, and confidence. This includes full service grooming, image consulting, as well as hair replacement systems for clients dealing with hair loss.” He also owns Associated Building Consultants LLC, a consulting company that consults with barber/stylist entrepreneurs on their business and future decisions. Additionally, Jay manages short-term rental and cleaning companies, including Not A Trace Cleaning Co.

It’s obvious that Jay is a man of many talents. I mean, look at all that he has accomplished in such a short period of time. He shares, “I always knew as a kid that I would be successful just because of my drive and the hunger to learn things. I always strived for excellence because I wanted to be somebody. Yet, I never knew that I would be a barber or entrepreneur. I thought I would be an engineer or work in finance.”

With all his potential to be anything he wanted to be, life would present Jay with a few twists and turns. “I made a bad decision that landed me in prison; whilst incarcerated, I truly understood what it meant to be patient, seeing as that in jail, you are on someone else’s time. As I sat in a jail cell in 2009, I gained a lot of vision, and I told myself that all I had to do was put 100% into my craft and trust the Most High! I told the Most High to show me the way, and it became clear why I was there and that this journey was for me. I knew I wanted to be impactful, not just for my clients, but for my family and peers, seeing how we grew up and how many looked up to me. The vision sometimes would get blurry as I would stray away from my purpose. I would ask for guidance and strength to clear the obstacles and get back on the right path and for the strength to say no. Go home instead of being out all night, and the understanding of what it would take to be successful. My vision allowed me to broaden my horizon and do many other things outside of barbering.”

Jay says he loves the opportunity to bless someone with his grooming experiences. He is aware that many people are suffering from many things, and he realizes that hair brings back confidence and a positive mental attitude. “Self-confidence is everything, so to be able to bless them and make them more confident brings a rush of excitement to me. I love learning about different people and cultures and building personal and business relations with them. You learn to listen, and you learn to give advice. You learn it’s great to be a barber and count your blessings because so many are less fortunate. I have also fallen in love with being able to help my community and mentor the youth regarding life and the opportunities we have with the odds against us.”

It’s apparent that the challenges Jay has faced, including his past decisions and experiences, have helped him to become a better person, a better father, and an astute businessman. He adds, “Being in prison taught me how to be patient. To get home, I had to be patient so that I could be a father to my only son, who was born right before I went to prison. I had to be patient with myself to change because I was there not just for my decisions but mostly due to the lesson that was present for me to learn. Keeping the Most High first and focusing on my own spiritual growth allowed me to avoid the same mistakes I have made.”

Dr. Jay says that his life and career have been impacted by both people and experiences. Prison, as he’s mentioned, and also the Covid 19 pandemic. He also says a few mentors and business partners have helped him including Dr. Will McNeely, Curtis Smith (Xotics), Dr. Darrin Lyons (DL Master Barber), and Arlo Washington. While his journey has been challenging at times, Dr. Jay says he wouldn’t change anything. “The journey is what made me into who I am today. We all wish we could have done something differently or sooner had we known better; however, life doesn’t work that way and had we got whatever we wanted, we probably would have lost it all for not being mentally or spiritually ready for it”. h



Alisha Wright of Memphis, TN, is known for having a sharp eye for detail. She is also the face and founder of Alisha Wright Designs, an interior decor design company based in the music city. Her company offers Residential and Commercial interior decoration and commercial and residential renovation. Soon, the services she provides will include handmade decor items.

Alisha’s early life was rooted in sports. She had been a cheerleader since the age of six and cheered through primary and secondary school. She went on to deeply engross herself in the dance and cheer culture locally around Memphis. Alisha has been a Memphis Redbirds Redhot Cheerleader, a Memphis Grizzlies Grizz Girl Dancer, and a member of a local hip-hop dance troupe called M-Town Image. She has also opened up for artists who graced the stages of Memphis, like Chris Brown and India Arie. Additionally, she’s danced, sang, and acted in theater plays in the Memphis area, which she says is probably one of the best experiences she’s had in her life.

She graduated from the University of Memphis in 2004 Magna cum laude with a degree in Public Relations. Alisha left the United States in 2008, moved overseas, and lived in Spain and Japan. At one point, she returned back to the US and lived in Hawaii. “I lived abroad for seven years and had the pleasure of teaching dance abroad. Japanese culture had a significant impact on my spirit, and it changed the way I view the world. It was in Japan that I discovered my knack for design. The time I spent there was also the pinnacle of my life experiences. It was in Japan that I discovered two major lifechanging things - Meditation and Design.”

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Alisha shares she began decorating professionally through event design. While living abroad in Japan, she worked for a Boys & Girls Club that was located on a Navy Base in Sasebo. There, she developed an educational program called The International Club, which focused on a different country every month. Alisha would educate kids about the country’s culture, language, dietary preferences, etc., and develop a unique event centered around these facts. “One summer month, we focused on Indian food and film culture, and Bollywood was the theme. I decorated the Teen Center with a Bollywood theme, using beautiful jewel tones, and organized an Indian cuisine-themed dinner and movie night featuring a Bollywood movie. My coworker was in attendance and adamantly and emphatically said I should consider pursuing this trade as an actual profession. And so began my career as an event planner,” she says.

Years later, Alisha ventured into real estate but rapidly found that she preferred to design and decorate homes a lot more than selling them. In 2021, her next move was to launch her design company, Alisha Wright Designs. “I’ve been incredibly blessed to have an array of clients, from closet design to kitchen and bathroom renovation. My artistic gift is innate and is a direct gift from the Creator.”

Alisha says what she loves most about her career is the ideology of leaving behind a piece of her essence in every home she touches. “It is a great honor and a great responsibility to create a space that the client falls in love with. It reflects what they envision the most and inspires them every time they enter the room. That is the most gratifying aspect of what I do,” Alisha states. Detroit - March/April 2024 26

It is a great honor and a great responsibility to create a space that the client falls in love with. It reflects what they envision the most and inspires them every time they enter the room.

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She also adds that her internal fire is a motivating factor. “I have a perspective that screams to come out.” Another motivation for her is being a mother. She shares, “Few things in life will metamorphose a woman than raising a child. My daughter is absolutely fantastic and amazing! She has transformed me in ways that nothing else in life could have.”

While Alisha has exceeded her own personal expectations for her life as a designer, there are a few things she would change about her journey if given the chance. First, she would change her confidence level. She adds, “If I believed in myself enough earlier in my life, this journey would have been more of a flow. I did not truly know that everything I needed was already within me. I also would have told myself to think less and do more, as the momentum of motion brings forth the manifestation of what you dream your life could be. The lack of this motion is what slows down your momentum, which takes you further away from “the zone”. This, in turn, creates a stagnancy, which will block your blessings. A wise woman told me early on in my life to be like water. This is the best advice that I have ever received. Water flows in the path of least resistance, and the path of least resistance is the path of allowance. When you allow the flow, you allow the universe to bring you blessings rather than seeking them or trying to create them through the control of your reality. The truth is we honestly don’t control anything. We can control how we respond and act, and in some situations, feel, but life happens whether we choose to participate or not.”

Alisha advises anyone looking to pursue an interior design career to go for it fully and to believe in yourself first and foremost. She says, “Listen to your inner voice as it is that voice that comes directly from God. Get as much mentorship and technical training as possible and try to design every single day, whether it be something as small as a centerpiece or as large as a bathroom renovation. Also, keep your ideas and never veto anything; add to it, build on it, and refine it.”

Next, Alisha plans to commercialize handmade products such as centerpieces, wedding bouquets, and wall art/murals. h Detroit - March/April 2024 30

Tea With Teash Podcast

Artesha Fernandez, also known as Teash, is best described as vibrant, spontaneous, funny, and stylish. She is also a popular creative and the face and voice of Tea with Teash Podcast, a Tea With Teash, LLC product. Tea With Teash discusses various topics, including health, relationships, and daily motivation.

Born and raised in Kansas City, MO, Teash enjoys being a representative of the culture. “I love engaging with the public and keeping up with all the awesomeness my Brown Sisters and Brothers possess,” she emphatically says. In addition to managing her podcast, Teash works as a Medical Biller for a local clinic specializing in Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology. She has an Associates Degree in Human Service Management and Healthcare Administration.

Nearly five years ago, Teash says she thought about starting a podcast. It was in November 2023 that she made the decision to play with her craft and applied for her business license. In doing so, Teash built an umbrella for her amazing ideas and plans, and things began to really take off. “I started building my pages, researching my topics, and reaching out to those who were amazing to interview. My efforts involved individuals, both local and out-of-state. I just went for it. My intention was to become a Black Business Owner and make something remarkable out of my artistry.”

What Teash says she loves most about being a Podcaster is being able to not only share her life and my charismatic personality but also have the chance to tap into the lives of her peers. “I love saluting anyone that has really good things going on, and I love meeting new people and being able to share their attributes, businesses, products, and services. I also enjoy giving them extra exposure for their greatness in case the world has missed it,” she says.


For Teash, coming up with better ways to get exposure and create watch worthy content has been a little difficult, and while she is fairly new to the world of podcasting, her presence has been noticed. She adds, “I have definitely brought a new meaning to the phrase “being new means nothing”. I’m getting things done”. Teash appreciates where she has come from and is equally excited about where her podcast production is going.

Teash is all in with Tea with Teash Podcast but hasn’t been able to accomplish what she has alone. She credits her sons for impacting her life and career the most. Allowing them to see her in action and following her dreams is all Teash ever wanted to show them, she says. “Even though my sons are 22 and 16, they are still impressionable and watching me. I wanted to give them Mommy/Artesha and what Artesha wanted to do with her life outside of being their amazing Mother.”

Her advice to anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps is to believe in yourself when no one else does, take it one day at a day, and make every move you make your biggest move. “I have made it by asking questions, praying, and keeping at it. My advice to others is to make a lot of noise about yourself and don’t quit!”

Looking ahead, Teash plans to open her very own black-owned business eventually. She doesn’t want to reveal the type of business yet. She also plans to continue to make a lot of noise throughout her city and remain involved with everything creative, possibly TV. She says, “I would like to have a full production set for my podcast and continue to bring Positive Culture Love.” To learn more about The Tea with Teash Podcast, please visit their website. h

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Natural Hair Advocate/ Author Signs Book At Barnes And Noble C. Michelle Greene-Smalls

“I was excited to share my book with others interested in wearing the natural locs hairstyle.“

C. Michelle Greene Smalls has had to overcome many negative messages about her natural hair. Both within her family and the larger society, she was pressured to wear her hair in styles that required the use of chemicals, including relaxers and geri curl products. However, from a young age, she preferred to wear natural hairstyles like afros, twists, and locs. Greene Smalls has documented her hair journey in her first book, Quit Making Excuses and Loc Your Hair. She held a book signing for her book on Saturday, February 10th, 2024, at Barnes and Noble at Westwood Plaza, 1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, Charleston, SC.

“I was excited to share my book with others interested in wearing the natural locs hairstyle” says C. Michelle Greene-Smalls. “It was also great to see several African American celebrities who wear the loc style, including South Carolina’s own Shanola Hampton from the shows, Fearless and Found.”

A natural hair advocate, Michelle’s book is a compelling blend of memoir and education, chronicling her personal journey toward embracing and styling her hair in its natural form and providing information to readers who are interested in styling their hair in locs. Her book delves into her personal experiences and challenges, making it relatable and inspiring for a wide audience.

C. Michelle Greene-Smalls, MSN, RN, CCM, is the bestselling author of Quit Making Excuses & Loc Your Hair. She is a native of Mayesville, South Carolina. She’s a wife and registered nurse with a master’s degree in nursing education. One of her most recent accomplishments included being recognized as South Carolina Black Pages Top 20 Under 40 in 2019. Michelle has been writing her blog, Succeeding Naturally, for four years. Her additional hobbies include traveling, playing word games, and crafting.

For more information about Greene-Smalls, her natural hair advocacy, and her book, go to her website. h Detroit - March/April 2024 34
Information and Photos Provided by C. Michelle Greene-Smalls
Lola Knight The daughter of Rashaun Knight and Zaria Knight

The Seven Thirty Theatre

Trina, Dee, and Kila are a tenacious trio breaking barriers in the world of Black musical theatre. They are the first Black and womanowned musical theatre organization in Indiana. The trio owns and operates a nonprofit urban musical theatre and arts academy in Indianapolis, IN, and Chicago, IL.

After many years of performing and producing money for others, they decided they had enough and formed their very own companies. These are the Urban Theatre, the Seven Thirty Theatre, and KaidyDid Productions. Urban Theatre, formerly known as the Indiana Performing Arts Center (IPAC), was founded in 2005 by Trina Dingle. The Urban Musical Theatre is a nonprofit performing arts theatre organization with a primary focus on diversity and inclusion. Trina has worked in theatre and development for over 30 years and aims to increase the exposure of people of color represented in theatrical productions. Dingle has been instrumental in leading female entrepreneurs within their artistic focus by providing doors of opportunity within their artistic lanes, especially in leadership roles such as CEO, executive director, arts administrator, creative director, and playwright. She stays busy planning, budgeting, securing funding, and so much more. Trina is primarily behind the scenes and the backbone of both theatre’s as the executive director.

Dee “Dutchez” DuVall brings over 25 years of seasoning to the trio and is the artistic director. Dee’s love for the arts began at the early age of nine. Her parents were musicians, and she was trained classically. She went on to study theatre, music, and classical voice. After earning a degree in Performing Arts, DuVall immersed herself in Broadway, Gospel theatre, Madrigal Performances, filming, and commercial roles. Dee has had the opportunity to tour and perform in over 300 productions abroad within the industry. She is a singer, actor, and ensemble dancer. In 2010, in addition to acting, Dee began directing and teaching artistic styles. A significant part of her craft is utilizing her creative juices to implement, organize, lead, and develop ideas into any script. As the artistic director, Dee is known for effortlessly adding grace, class, elegance, sophistication, and style into any of the roles the productions demand.

The theatre’s production manager, Kila Adams, brings with her over 25 years of experience and a degree in theatre. She began her journey into acting at the young age of five. Kila earned her training from the Broad Ripple Magnet High School and the Asante Children’s Theater. She gained more experience at Indiana State University and transferred to Butler University, where she majored in theatre and journalism. Her formal training has provided her vast experience in Classical, Broadway musicals, Period pieces, and Gospel productions. Kila, also having skills as a playwright, began writing and acting in her own productions. This led to her touring and performing in over 200 productions with national artists around the United States. Detroit - March/April 2024 36

Adams portrays all things theatrical and is exceptionally creative and talented in media and technical design. With such an expansive array of experience, Kila has the artistic ability to envision and estimate the shape each production will take on. She is responsible for the creation of KaidyDid Productions, which is the production partner for both theatre’s. KaidyDid encompasses all things directly related to producing a show (i.e., lighting, costumes, staging, etc.).

Urban Musical Theatre (UMT), located in Indianapolis, Indiana, focuses on providing black and brown individuals an opportunity to develop and showcase their artistic talents in a safe and family-oriented environment. The theatre began in 2005 as the Indiana Performing Arts Centre (IPAC), which aimed to provide people of color and underserved populations access to the arts through its ability to draw in crowds from local churches, schools, civic organizations, and the overall community. The idea behind IPAC was simply to keep the spirit of Black theatre alive and at its highest excellence. IPAC, now UMT, holds the same purpose and is committed to providing arts education programs, performances, employment opportunities, children’s theatre, and community outreach throughout Indiana. When asked why they changed the name, DuVall stated the former name was just too long and did not really roll off the tongue. In addition, with their future production expansion, they felt it was necessary to remove “Indiana”. So, they created a name that fit more of who and what they were about.

At their theatres, they like to explore the strengths and weaknesses of those who audition for roles. Kila is tasked with being the talent development and casting director. She focuses on theatre etiquette, offers character development and stage etiquette, and trains individuals on how the set works as a whole. In addition, there is a vocal director who is there to help and train those auditioning. “It is important that each person provides their area of expertise so that we work as a family unit,” says Dee. She is tasked as the artistic director and focuses on all things scene development from an overall perspective, not just per scene. Dee is very hands-on and gets down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to business.

As their audience grew and their desire to expand and do more for the community, they decided to open a second sister theatre in a larger city. This is where the Seven Thirty Theatre (STT) came to be in Chicago, IL, in 2013. Much like the Urban Theatre in Indiana, there was a need to allow the underserved and people of color population to showcase their artistic skills and talents. Within a year of planning, the ball was rolling for STT to open its doors in Chicago. Also a nonprofit Black Theatre organization, STT strives to be a permanent platform for people of color to perform, grow, and learn. The plays performed at STT allow their artists to explore, experience, and depict a wide range of dramatic programs that highlight the Black artist, singer, dancer, actor, and musician on stage.

When asked why the name Seven Thirty, DuVall stated that all evening shows start at 7:30…period! “The name was also a quirky spinoff, and so we rolled with it,” adds Kila. They pride themselves on their professionalism, punctuality, and work ethic. They do not play any games when it comes to business.

Having a deep passion for each area of expertise, all three ladies complement each other in the business and as friends. Like all businesses, they have faced adversity and challenges

throughout the years. One challenge that Kila finds is that the auditioning actors in the area need to be made aware of who the theatre chooses for each production. To overcome this casting challenge, they highlight that all roles are open to everyone, and there is no favoritism. Additionally, Adams asserts that funding equality is a major challenge and hurdle for their companies. “There is also a constant comparison to our counterparts, and we simply are not in competition,” adds Dee. She goes on to say, “We are here to provide an opportunity to artists.”

On top of that, she finds challenges in how the funders determine who they provide for, generally people versus organizations. “We take the time and effort to go into lowincome neighborhoods to recruit and show individuals what they can achieve and accomplish,” says DuVall. She also adds, “We are knocked down before we even walk in the door based on other less performing artists and companies”. The ladies are proud of the top-notch business etiquette they demonstrate in their companies. As an all-female-owned company, it offers its own set of challenges.

So, with so much talent, experience, and a deep passion for the arts, what do these women love the most about what they do? Well, Dee is in love with production and feels she was truly born to do this. She finds joy in the audience, seeing that this, too, could be them. For Kila, her heart is warmed when actors have that aha moment and realize they are exactly where they need to be. When they doubt their abilities and then instead perform at their highest level, it is the most amazing feeling for her. Trina loves that even from behind the scenes, she can help expose the underserved and people of color in a positive, artistic way. The ability to contribute to an individual and population finding and elevating their artistic lanes is priceless. In addition, the ladies find inspiration in their art in different ways. For Dee, she is inspired and motivated by being told they “can’t” by the naysayers. This sets a spark for her and pushes her to level up her game. Meanwhile, Kila finds her drive and is most inspired when thinking of her late sister cheering her on at all times. The strength her sister upheld during her health battles is an even greater motivation for Adams.

In their journey towards success, social acceptance, and simply continuing to keep the arts alive for people of color, these ladies are very optimistic and have learned from all the lessons they endured. They hold a very positive attitude and wouldn’t change much of anything that has transpired throughout their journey. They do hope that the viewpoint of others will be more openminded, family-oriented, and more of a familiar creative concept. For all of their companies, “no accolades are necessary, as our work speaks for itself,” says Dee. The big question is, what’s next for this tenacious trio? They are gearing up to expand their productions across the Midwest and southern states. They started planning productions for 2024 last year and are working on their next state venue. They are excited to be producing The Best of Broadway Cabaret Shows, which will take place in late March or April. These ladies are on fire and plan to take over the musical arts and Broadway entertainment arena. Be on the lookout for their upcoming productions, as you will not be disappointed. Remember, Black Theatre Matters.


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