Huami Magazine Florida April/May 2024

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FLORIDA April/May 2024 Volume 2 Issue 6 ® Grand Moment Events LLC atarye urphy

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336-558-4660 O u r m i s s i o n i s t o s a f e g u a r d t h e c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , i n t e g r i t y , a n d a v a i l a b i l i t y o f i n f o r m a t i o n s s y s t e m s , i d e n t i t y , a n d d a t a a s s e t s b y p r o v i d i n g p r o a c t i v e s e c u r i t y e x p e r t i s e , c r e a t i n g a n d m a i n t a i n i n g a r e s i l i e n t a n d s e c u r e i n f r a s t r u c t u r e , a n d f o s t e r i n g a c u l t u r e o f s e c u r i t y a w a r e n e s s . W
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Courage. Focus. Patience. Success Requires Them All

A Letter From The Editor

There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

When someone says that, it feels as if they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders; for me, it sounds as if everything that is going on in their lives is boggled down into one area. It also sounds very heavy. If it’s problems and troubles in their haul, that could be burdensome. If it’s the cares and needs of others, their load may be delightful and hauled with great joy and appreciation.

A Letter from the Editor

What if tomorrow didn’t arrive? All of your plans, hopes and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired today? What would you do?

Where does your life align with the two types of carriers mentioned? Are you hauling with a heart of gratitude or with a funky attitude? I believe that God looks at how we handle what life presents us with. I also believe that it’s easy to lose our focus when things are seemingly piling on top of one another. As I have been blessed to get older, it often feels that things don’t always seem to get easier, and if I can be honest, I think I am just getting better at handling them.

I’ve been told that I often seem like I do too much. Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me that I couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonder how life would be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity is a blessing that isn’t afforded to everyone. A challenge to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in return acquire life.

When we find ourselves boggled down with life, we must remember that it takes courage to continue. It takes courage to see beyond the troubles. When we find ourselves in such situations, we must also have faith in God’s word that things will get better. Remember that God allows us to experience both prosperity and adversity, good and bad, and there is a purpose for them all. Because He is sovereign, we shall not question Him; instead, we should seek Him for endurance and strength to finish the trek.

The best advice ever given to me happened when someone told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only hope provided. I have also learned the difference between what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and when to be quiet, because someone may get it confused with being arrogant.

In order for us to enjoy the fruits of our labors, patience must be involved. We must get control of our focus and eliminate the distractions pulling us away from our purpose. God blesses us when we exhibit faith, and it is impossible to please God without faith. Oftentimes, we can’t see or may not know what is coming, but if God promised it, by faith, it will happen. Finally, we must not be anxious about anything. Every time I have tried to rush God’s hand, nothing happened. Yet, every time I have waited on God to do what He said He would do, blessings have appeared. Our success requires us to be courageous, have faith, and be patient throughout the journey.

Make you tomorrow happen today, but most importantly make it count. Life is but a whisper and we must put ourselves in a position to hear what it is telling us.

4 4 November/December 2014 Want To Advertise? Call (336)340-7844 Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography Shaw Photography Group Still Shots Photography Who Shotya Photography Layout Mykel Media Company Linda Bennett HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication (336) 340-7844 On The Cover
Photo by Shaw Photography Group
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Sharlisse Evans

She is an active member of the US Air Force, yet, she finds time to bring the juice. Learn more about her brand and journey. Hampton, VA


Donna Knight

She wanted to see more people who look like her in the beauty supply industry. So, she started her own company. Ripley, MS

Fontaine Yancey

There is something very beautiful brewing in the southeastern community of Atlanta. Learn more about MiZo Coffee Co. Conyers, GA

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Comfort Craving Experiences Shelby Cross 6 On The Cover Also Featured
Becoming A Care Giver Terry L. Watson Poetess
18 34
Maxine Moncrieffe
37 28 S.T.A.R.S. Perforning Arts
Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Lola Knight
Tamika Joy Russell

atarye urphy Grand Moment Events LLC

Photos Provided by Matarye

Matarye Murphy’s career as an event planner is a testament to her passion and dedication. It also allows her to express her creative juices on various fronts.

A resident of Destine, FL, Matarye’s journey began as a military brat moving quite a bit across the country. After settling in Saint Augustine, FL, she graduated from Saint Augustine High School Center for the Arts. This led her to attend Florida State College at Jacksonville, where she refined her skills in interior design. After her studies at FSCJ, she answered the nation’s call, serving in the United States Air Force. During her military tenure, Matarye’s enduring love for design persisted. She channeled this passion by volunteering at local event venues and orchestrating memorable occasions for friends and family.

Today, she is the owner of Grand Moment Events LLC. Her company offers exceptional full-service event planning and more. Matarye goes above and beyond to ensure a seamlessly executed event, from designing captivating flyers and invitations that lure attendees to securing the perfect venue that embodies the essence of the occasion. She says, “I meticulously locate the most delectable catering options for my client’s special event and arrange for topnotch entertainment, all while crafting a comprehensive event agenda.” Additionally, Grand Moment Events caters to diverse needs and preferences by offering partial event planning services, including hourly rentals for tables, chairs, decor, photo booths, Magic “Moment” Mirror, and more.

Matarye launched Grand Moment Events on July 24, 2023, an event that marked a significant milestone in her career. This wasn’t just about starting a business; for her, it had more to do with creating a platform that would enable her to share her gift with a wider audience. Her decision to embark on this venture was fueled by a genuine love for bringing joy to people’s lives. Despite the official launch in July, it wasn’t until October of 2023 that Matarye began business operations. This delay was due to her commitment to serving her country with the US Air Force, as she was away on deployment. When she returned home, she dove into her dream of making Grand Moment Events LLC a beacon of excellence in the event planning industry.


Creating unique experiences for individuals, Matarye says, is a powerful and inspiring mission. “It’s about crafting moments that resonate personally, leaving a lasting impact as unique as the person it’s designed for. This pursuit is not just about understanding what makes each person tick but also about the creativity and empathy required to translate that understanding into an experience that feels tailor-made,” she says. “The art of creation lies in the details. It’s about listening deeply, observing what brings joy, excitement, or a sense of wonder to a client. It could be as grand as personalizing our Magic “Moment” Mirror with pictures or videos that a client holds near to their hearts. It may also involve planning a surprise engagement dinner during sunset or a date night for a couple. The magic is in how these experiences reflect the individual’s personality, desires, and dreams, making them feel seen, understood, and valued.”

Ultimately, the satisfaction that comes from seeing the joy and appreciation in her clients’ eyes is the greatest reward that owning her company offers. Matarye says it reaffirms the purpose and passion that drives her to create perfect moments. However, her joys do not come without some difficulties. Embarking on the entrepreneurship journey is an adventure filled with unique challenges and invaluable lessons. She says, “One of the most enlightening realizations comes from understanding that while it’s beneficial to listen to the experiences of others, your entrepreneurial path will be distinctly your own. This insight is crucial as it helps shape a mindset that is open to learning yet aware of the unique variables that affect each venture differently.”


Another significant lesson she has learned involves the dynamics of inventory management. Holding large amounts of inventory might seem like a sign of success or readiness for big sales. However, Matarye says that inventory is only as valuable as the demand from the audience it serves. “Understanding market demand and having a solid strategy for reaching and engaging your target audience is essential. It’s a delicate balance between being prepared to meet customer needs and avoiding the pitfalls of over-investment in stock that might not move as quickly as anticipated. The journey of facing personal, professional, or otherwise obstacles is often fraught with difficulty. Staying resilient and bending but not breaking under pressure speaks to an inner strength cultivated over time,” she says.

Matarye offers some advice and wisdom to others who may follow a path similar to hers. “Your ideal of success, unique and personal, cannot be measured against anyone else’s. It reflects your aspirations, values, and the impact you wish to make. The challenges you face, including financial setbacks and tough lessons, are integral to the process. They are not merely obstacles but opportunities for growth. Each setback teaches a valuable lesson that hones your skills, refines your strategies, and strengthens your resolve. Remember, many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs faced failures and losses on their path to success. Yet, their persistence and ability to learn from these experiences ultimately led to their triumphs.”

Looking ahead, Matarye predicts a future with consistent clientele and a reputable service in the event planning industry. With her grit and determination, there isn’t any doubt she will accomplish whatever she sets her sights on. To learn more about Grand Moment Events, please visit their website.

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It’s about crafting moments that resonate personally, leaving a lasting impact as unique as the person it’s designed for. This pursuit is not just about understanding what makes each person tick but also about the creativity and empathy required to translate that understanding into an experience that feels tailor-made,” she says.  “The art of creation lies in the details. h

Shelby Cross

Comfort Cravings Experience

The youngest of four siblings, Shelby Cross has called Houston, TX, home all of her life. Her family’s roots extend to the 5th Ward in Houston and even Lafayette and New Iberia, Louisiana, and she describes herself as a true, hospitable southern girl.

Shelby is a proud Alumna of Stephen F. Austin State University. Her educational background involves Kinesiology and Health Science with a concentration in Exercise Science, Human Performance/Fitness, and Sports Psychology.

“I can say growing up, I didn’t really know who I was. I spent a lot of time alone. My life revolved around sports until completing college, so the transition into adulthood was extremely difficult and a very vulnerable and lost place for me. I had to relearn myself: my desires, the things I actually loved to do, and really decided what I wanted out of life. It also called for a lot of healing. If I had to apply scripture to my life now, it would be Luke 1:45: Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her,” she says. Knowing who God is now, Shelby professes she is not settling for anything less than His promises. “I show up and work every day for the little girl in me who didn’t have a voice and just wanted to be heard. The little girl who was verbally and emotionally abused, who was betrayed, who was bright but dimmed, and who just needed a place to let her light shine unapologetically.”

Today, Shelby’s light exudes love and triumph on many fronts. She is the owner of Comfort Cravings Experience Private Chef and Catering Services. Her company focuses on providing her clients with a tantalizing journey of comfort, taste, and luxury. In addition to catering services, Shelby offers Private Chef and Private Event Services. Her catering services involve the preparation and service of food for events such as weddings, proms, networking mixers, large parties, and corporate events. The Private Event Services provide food services for small gatherings such as business showers, birthday celebrations, VIP events, and engagement parties. As a Private Chef, she provides a customized dining experience for individuals or small groups in their

“I show up and work every day for the little girl in me who didn’t have a voice and just wanted to be heard.”
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Photos Provided by Shelby Cross

Prior to starting her business, Shelby worked in Corporate America. “I had a good job, and I was slowly moving up the corporate ladder. I had received several promotions and achievements; however, I was still left unfulfilled. The job I had required me to constantly pour into others and the needs of the business. I didn’t pour into myself, and my efforts towards the company I worked for weren’t reciprocated. I felt like I wasn’t able to be myself, like I was in a box, and there was a ceiling on growth. Things started to get really cloudy in something that I once thought I wanted to do as a career, and I started to dread my job. For several years, I put all of my time and effort into my job and would put whatever I had left into myself, my passion, and the things that mattered most to me. I saw the potential and even knew what I wanted to do, but I also knew that I would need to have more time to invest and to fully bring the visions to life. So, in July of 2022, I took the leap of faith and quit my corporate job to become a full-time entrepreneur,” she shared.

Comfort Cravings Experience Private Chef and Catering Services started with Shelby cooking for friends and family. She cooked for her church and sold plates in her community. She did party packages for football and basketball games on the side, and eventually, her company became a full-time experience. Florida - April/May 2024 12

Shelby gives God all of the glory for what her company has become. She says that after giving her life back to Him in 2020, God directed her paths. “I’m a foodie. I have gone to so many good and popular restaurants and left unsatisfied because there were some areas that were left unmet in terms of needs and expectations. I believe that food has a unique ability to heal and uplift the soul by offering a hug in the form of a dish, and by creating memories that linger on the palate and in the heart. So, I strive to cater to my clients and their specific needs and to exceed their expectations by giving everyone their own personal experience. This is my ministry to be a light and give God the Glory through the many people that I will reach throughout the world and throughout this journey.”

Running a business is hard enough; running a successful business and doing it right is even harder. Shelby says the biggest challenge she has faced thus far is the battle within her mind. “I’m a first-time entrepreneur and learning as I go. You’re basically delusional when you choose to walk by faith and not by sight. There are many times that reality looks different than what you’re believing for, but you still have to choose to believe what you believe and walk forward,” she says.

Another challenge Shelby describes is the sacrifices for long-term success and building a solid foundation. Her interpretation of entrepreneurship is all or nothing. She adds, “You have to put all of your eggs in the basket to see it through. Everything is an investment, including your time and your resources. You’ll have to miss out on some things and get uncomfortable in order to grow. I’ve managed this by continuously learning, researching, partnering and asking for help, being vulnerable, practicing humility, and doing whatever it takes to build a business on a solid foundation that will lead to success.”

Lastly, a challenge she’s faced is going back to the drawing board. She says you can plan as much as you want, strategize, and everything else, but life will happen, and things don’t always go as planned. “I used to feel like I failed when I came to bumps in the road, but I had to shift my mind and refocus. You only fail when you choose to give up.

Shelby admits she wouldn’t change anything about the way things have happened in her life and career. She is the woman she is today because of the process, and she knows that God is working on and through her. Looking ahead, she plans to take her company and the services she provides to even higher heights. “I have been working diligently behind the scenes, and starting in the summer of 2024, there will be opportunities for everyone to attend our curated food events. This will begin in Houston, and we plan to go to cities around the country,” she says. There will also be cooking classes and a collection of things available to purchase online.

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You Got The Juice Now

Sharlisse Evans of Hampton, VA, wears many hats, a talent she acquired at a young age. She is a mother, an Active Duty US Air Force Paralegal, a former member of the Military Police, and a successful entrepreneur. First and foremost, Sharlisse describes herself as a woman and bearer of life and someone full of intuitiveness who shares her love with those around her.

Her circle of love includes her three young sons, whom she says keep her humble. “My young men constantly remind me to self-reflect and to grow and learn daily. I know I would have never discussed some of the things that we talk about with my parents, yet it makes me smile to know they feel safe enough in our relationship to ask life questions without fear of judgment,” she shares.

While adorning her business hats, Sharlisse is the owner and founder of You Got The Juice Now. Her company offers a variety of “refresher” fruit drinks, some that are sugarfree and topped with real fruit. Additionally, she offers 8oz bottles of four flavors, something she prepares for those who can’t decide on any single flavor. She also has a 16oz glass Libbey Can with a bamboo lid and glass straw. These are accompanied by a positive affirmation and come with a free refill.

Originally from Jamaica, Queens, New York, Sharlisse grew up as an avid viewer of the movie Juice, which starred the late rapper Tupac Shakur. Sharlisse says her vision for her business correlates with that production in many ways. “The movie Juice was empowering, and that is something that we are all about, “ she says.

I had previously owned two businesses before I started You Got The Juice Now. When I quit the previous businesses, I was truly quitting on myself because everything in my being knew I was supposed to be an entrepreneur.
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As an entrepreneur, Sharlisse shares that 100% of your time is spent believing in yourself and having almost delusional selfconfidence. “I was delusional until I truly believed it. You Got the Juice Now helped me do that,” she says. “I had previously owned two businesses before I started You Got The Juice Now. When I quit the previous businesses, I was truly quitting on myself because everything in my being knew I was supposed to be an entrepreneur, and I never stopped thinking about it. In 2023, I agreed to volunteer with a friend at a lemonade stand for a military air show event. There, I realized how people continued to come back asking for free refills, mainly due to the sugar in the lemonades, which kept them thirsty. It was then that my vision for You Got the Juice Now came to be. I began asking the gentleman who trained us how it worked, and I took pictures of the whole setup on my phone. I was on a mission,” she says.

After the event at the Air Show, Sharlisse put her nose to the ground and conducted research nonstop for a few weeks. The products she had in mind for her business had to be something with minimal to no sugar but still tasty. She desired for them to be healthier than lemonade, and most importantly, she would offer a free refill. She finally ordered many products, trying them until finding the perfect concoction of flavors. Finding the perfect Glassware to accommodate her juices was the next task on her to-do list. “I’d never seen nor heard of sublimation. It struck me that this was a way to incorporate who I am as a woman, a giver of life to those around me. Designing drinking glasses featuring positive affirmations allowed me to incorporate the free refill option. With each refill, I can see my customers again, get to know them a little better , and receive first-hand feedback. It’s the best!” Florida - April/May 2024 16

When asked what she loves most about being an entrepreneur, Sharlisse’s response is the opportunities she has to talk and connect with people. “I absolutely love when someone is vulnerable enough to share why a specific message on a glass of affirmations touched them. It’s just a small moment in time, but I like to think that it reminds them how beautiful, how strong, and encouraging they are. I love that most!”

One of the lessons Sharlisse has learned while in business is that all days are not the same. “I’ve had to learn that some events are better than others, and sometimes I will lose product. I have to be okay with that. I’ve had my best days when I feel like I’m there just for fun. On the contrary, I have had financially draining days when I place so much pressure on whether the day will be lucrative. I learned early on to overpack supplies rather than play it safe because I had sold out mid-event, and my supplies sitting in my garage were not helpful because they weren’t with me. Additionally, bookkeeping has been a challenge. It is tedious, but I’m glad I still force myself to do it,” she says. “Realizing that making mistakes is inevitable, but learning from them is the key. In the heat of the moment, that’s easier said than done, but meditation is a big part of my life, and reflection is invaluable to those lessons.”

Presently, Sharlisse is awaiting the arrival of her personalized juice trailer. Ultimately, when she retires from the military in five and a half years and finds her forever home, she plans to open a commercial space for You Got the Juice Now. She also plans to expand her menu to include vegan meals. “My goal is to express a lifestyle of self-love through food, drinks, and items of encouragement. It’ll be a vibe, and I truly can’t wait to offer folks such a sanctuary.”

To learn more about You Got The Juice Now, please visit their website.



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.

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

Florida - April/May 2024

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

CHAPTER TW0: Think Fast and Learn As You Go!

As a single man, a single, mature, grown man who had enjoyed living alone, I now found myself sharing my home with my mother. I know she never imagined it would come to this, as I had asked her on many occasions prior to her suffering an Ischemic Stroke to move in with me, but she always refused. That is just who she is, always holding on to her independence.

With the help of my brother, we began to care for Mom. All of her medications, we had to learn fast how to administer them. This included insulin injections. We also had to learn how to prepare her meals and wash her clothes. All of the things that an independent person does for themselves on a daily basis, my mother now needed assistance, and her children would be the ones to give it to her.

Seeing my mother in a disabled nature was truly heartbreaking. My mother is highly intelligent, and all of her children and friends were blessed to benefit from the therapeutic conversations with her. My mother was a great talker and an even better listener. Now, due to the savageness of the stroke, she was almost speechless and struggled to get words out. The inability to communicate effectively frustrated her, so much so that she would often burst into tears when she couldn’t express what she wanted to. Yes, it frustrated me also to see her in this condition, but I was determined to be a voicebox for her. I am her son, and having thousands of conversations with my mother would pay huge dividends. I had learned to know what my mother’s facial expressions meant, and I felt as if I understood how she thought. More than anything, I had the patience to work with her, and I was there for it.

As my mother now resided in my home, this meant that my other siblings, her friends, and other family members would have to come there to visit Mom. There was no shortage of visitors either, and Mom, in her sophisticated ways, would only allow visitors when she felt suitable and comfortable enough for them. If her hair wasn’t done, there were no visitors. If she wasn’t dressed well, no visitors. And getting dressed meant that someone, such as me, my brother, or another caregiver, would have to dress. We had to think fast and learn as we went along because my mother’s care and well-being hung in the balance.

On visitation days, Mom always seemed very excited, especially when she knew and approved of who was coming. It’s not that she had a problem with anyone; I learned that she had developed a level of isolation, and to be quite honest, she didn’t really care to talk to a lot of people, only a small and select few, many of whom she had been in contact with in the months and days before the stroke. What amazed me more than anything was how her friends would respond to seeing my mother’s new level of dependency. Before, she was always doing for others: cooking, cleaning, giving, talking, and listening. That was who she was. Now, she sat silently, with a modest stare, a little confused, a little embarrassed maybe, scared, but remarkably, still in control of what she wanted from others. Though she was slowed a little, and her new deficits confined her to the recliner or wheelchair, she continued to dawn a look of sassiness on her face. I knew my mother was OK, and I was determined to do all that I could to help her adjust. h

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!


Beauty Direct Studios

Donna Knight of Ripley, MS, says that at an early age, she realized her calling in life, is motivating others. For the last 18 years, she has enjoyed a career in the healthcare industry, and in 2004, she launched a nonprofit organization, Shades of Elegance, geared towards uplifting and empowering young women. “Starting this non-profit sparked a fire inside of me, and the work we did with young women made me more passionate about being an ambassador for my community,” she says.

Donna obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information from the University of Mississippi and her Master’s Degree in Public Health from Jackson State University. Right after college, she met the love of her life, Lee, whom she has been married to for 15 years. Together, they have four children.

Today, Donna is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and the owner of Beauty Direct Studios. The idea of Beauty Direct Studios came about in 2019. However, it wasn’t until 2022 that the doors of her business opened to the public. “In 2005, my sister, Tamico, and I launched a makeup business. So, in essence, I have been in business since then. However, I transformed the business model into a beauty supply in 2022. As women of color, we should be able to purchase our beauty supplies from people who look like us. I had gone into a beauty supply store with bars on the window, and many of their products were behind the shelves, and I had to ask someone to get them for me. That experience sucked, and I made up my mind to create one that represented me and would be welcoming to people who looked like me,” she says.

As women of color, we should be able to purchase our beauty supplies from people who look like us.
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Beauty Direct Studios is an independent, woman-owned and operated beauty spa and wellness center. There is a traditional side that has hair bundles and weaves, and there is a component that offers all-natural products such as skin care, hair care, and products free of chemicals, dyes, and parabens. About 80% of these products are made by other women of color. “We work to ensure that the beauty products we sell are of the highest quality and owned and operated by other small businesses. Many of the products are exclusive, and you can’t find them at WalMart or Amazon. You must come into our store to get them,” she says. Even more, Donna has narrowed her focus to catering to individuals who are seeking products to enhance their all-natural experience.

When asked what she loves most about her business, Donna says it is the feedback from her clients. “I have put so much effort into creating a place for women, specifically women of color, to find the products they desire and need. When people come into the store and are happy about what they see, it gives me the most gratification. Some ask if my location is a store, a school, or a salon; to be quite honest, it is all the above, as I strive to address my client’s needs from various perspectives,” she says.

Donna says there have been many people who have impacted her life and career the most. She adds that she strives to learn something from everyone she encounters. “Life is a lifelong journey of learning, and everyone has something to offer, whether good or bad. I want to learn something new every day, so I read often and constantly educate myself about the things involved in my life and career.” Florida - April/May 2024 24 Florida - April/May 2024 26

Opening her store has come with its own set of unique challenges. Donnas confesses that Beauty Direct Studios has caused her to say things and do things she never thought of doing. “I know I am being prepared for the next level. When I started my business, I only wanted to cater to local business owners. I have encountered things that make me want to cry and second-guess myself. I know they have come to make me better and make me resilient. More than anything, it is confirming that I am on the right path, and I needed that. I also refuse to quit and give up,” she says.

For those who may follow a path like hers, Donna’s advice is to make sure you are doing something that aligns with your spirit. “Check your “why”. If your why isn’t clearly defined, you will not be fulfilled. You must also be very passionate about what you are doing.” Moving forward, Donna plans to do the things that God leads her to do. “The door is wide open, and when the spirit tells me what to do, I will know,” she says.

To learn more about Beauty Direct Studios, please visit their website.

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Beauty Direct Studios 509 Stateline Rd W Southaven, MS 38671 901-713-0793 h

Stars Performing Arts Inc

It makes perfect sense for Tamika Joy Harris Russell to be a polarizing member of her community of Chesapeake, VA. Growing up in Occoquan, VA, her young mind was impressed upon by leaders, activists, homeowners, homemakers, and faith-talking and faith-walking individuals. She was taught to dream big and that life is what you make it. Now, as an adult, Tamika has committed her life to service.

Tamika describes herself as a child of God, first and foremost. Her anointing translates her voice, as she has worked as a national recording artist and sung at venues worldwide. She has enjoyed a career spanning over 20 years in the music industry, which involves being a Professional Singer and Songwriter, the former CEO of Celebrity Status Entertainment, and the Co-Owner of Vinyl Music Group. She shares, “I started singing in church at the young age of three. My great-aunt, whom I consider my grandma, put me in a chair on the pulpit, and I loved to see people smiling and cheering me on. That experience boosted my confidence, and I performed without fear.

She has been married for 13 years and has six beautiful children (three boys and three girls) and three grandchildren. Collectively, they are known as The Russell Hustle Krue. In addition to leading her family, Tamika is the founder and president of Stars Performing Arts Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization (Shining Through Adversities Reaching Success).

Stars Performing Arts Inc. provides individuals with hardships and or challenges a platform to shine in the arts. Tamika also owns Joy’s Academy, LLC, GoWomen, Tammy Lynn’s Heart, and Tamika Joy, the brand. Joy’s Academy focuses on teaching wellness, life skill building, media, and music. GoWomen is the first fintech bank powered by VISA for women of color. Their products include debit cards, financial tips, and credit repair. Tammy Lynn’s Heart sells health products and more.

Florida - April/May 2024 29
“I started singing in church at the young age of three. My great-aunt, whom I consider my grandma, put me in a chair on the pulpit, and I loved to see people smiling and cheering me on. That experience boosted my confidence, and I performed without fear.” h

Like all her other skill sets, entrepreneurship was passed down from Tamika’s mother. She says her mom would send her into the town to pass Avon books out. She recalls how her great-aunt cleaned homes and conducted events and parties for others. Seeing how they lived and having access to an active and productive life as a child encouraged Tamika to dream and strive for more.

Family is very important to Tamika. Her faith and relationship with God are also important. “The Lord has impacted my life and career in so many ways. Working hard to get to where I am, I know it only happened because of the love and protection from God. He gets all the glory,” she says. Additionally, Tamika credits William Crews and Tony Jackson for always believing in her. Her appreciation extends to Pam McMillon, Raenell Williams, Alisa Thornton, Denise Reubel, and Tisha Johnson. She states they have always been in her corner and supported her career.

In a male-dominated industry, Tamika faced numerous hurdles in getting her talents and gifts noticed. Despite the pressure to conform, she never compromised her integrity. Even when business and personal relationships didn’t go as planned, Tamika’s resilience, guided by her faith, ensured she would overcome. Her experiences have taught her valuable lessons, and her advice to others on a similar journey is to never give up. “Learn the business, hone your craft, and always remain a student,” she advises.

Looking ahead, Tamika’s plans are rooted in her commitment to her community. She intends to continue sharing her gift of singing with the world, recording more music in the studio, and performing. As a businesswoman, she navigates the sector with confidence. Her dedication to serving her community through Stars Performing Arts Inc. remains steadfast, and she envisions forging successful partnerships with other influential women for GoWomen, a testament to her unwavering commitment to empowering others. Florida - April/May 2024 30

MiZo Coffee Co. Coffee. Community. Love

There is something beautiful brewing in the southern town of Conyers, GA. Whether you are a resident or traveling into one of the southeastern’s most thriving communities, a delicious cup of java and knowing where to find it is essential. Fortunately, there is a reticent and calming place, designed explicitly for coffee lovers.

MiZo Coffee Co. is not your average coffee shop. Owner Marlessia Fontaine Yancey had a little more in mind while building her business than just brewing coffee. Her goal was to prepare a place where people could meet, socialize, and enjoy great coffee and delicious, locally-made pastries. Even more, she desired to create an experience for her customers that would allow them to relax and unwind, even if only for the time it takes to consume one cup or two. After placing your order, have a seat, as each cup is served table side. A space is also available for reservations, perfect for groups who would like to conduct private events and more.

Community, faith, and family are the cornerstones Marlessia had in mind while building her brand. She adds, “MiZo Coffee Co. is a ministry. It’s about God. We offer more than just hot and iced beverages. MiZo Coffee Co. is a place where the aroma of coffee wafts in the air and arouses the senses. While enjoying our delicious coffee, I hope that we are able to evoke memories of childhood and family with our clients.”

While she calls Conyers home, Marlessia is originally from Martinsville, Virginia. She is a mother of two and has three grandchildren. She has lived an eventful life, which involved working in Corporate America, and managing hundreds of people. She has also traveled the world, but confesses that her true calling is serving others. Marlessia says “Having a relationship with God is very important. Being able to support my family and positively impact my community is also important, and MiZo Coffee Co. affords me the opportunity to do both.”

Marlessia’s vision began as a dry distribution company providing consumers with high-quality packaged coffee. The chosen name for her company, MiZo, is a combination of Mila and Zoie, her two granddaughters. MiZo Coffee Co. also honors Marlessia’s parents. With tradition and legacy at the forefront, Marlessia promised her father that she would continue what she started. “My father would say, ‘Success is in the double-digits’. That was something I wouldn’t fully get until later,” she says.

Marlessia wanted to capture a time when family and community relied on each other; she also wanted to capture an experience that brought you back to happier times. She initially thought about operating a coffee truck, but the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Marlessia decided to repurpose the vehicle but kept her focus on her promise to her father, which was to open a coffee shop one day. “We had a soft opening on December 18th, 2022, which was also my 55th birthday. Someone at the opening asked me how old I was. When I replied 55, he shouted double nickel, as my father would say. I believe that’s what he meant when he told me that success was in the double nickels,” she says. Florida - April/May 2024 32

Nestled in a shopping strip located on Sigman Road, a large “Yes, We’re Open” sign stands in front of MiZo’s, welcoming each customer. On the inside, Marlessia’s family is included in every element, from the large portrait of her parents on one side of the wall to the portrait of her granddaughters Milo and Zoie on the other. “You won’t be able to ride by slowly and look in the shop, that’s by design,” Marlessia explains. “I wanted people to be able to come inside and relax. Once you’re in and you’re seated, you can see out, but someone riding by won’t be able to see in. This is achieved by one-way vision window treatments. On the outside, patrons see eye-pleasing pictures, like those with various shades of coffee and lattes, from dark to light with the captions. “I thought of individuals who may have been victims of domestic violence. No one wants to constantly be looking over their shoulder. MiZo is a safe space. Mizo features a calm décor, soft jazz playing in the background, low enough that patrons can hold conversations without having to raise their voices, and gentle enough that a person can sit by themselves and listen to soothing music while they sip their coffee.”

MiZo also showcases Marlessia’s family-inspired menu. For breakfast, one can order “TheMayrann”, a breakfast sausage or bacon croissant with egg and cheese named for her mother, Mary Ann. There is also the “Bitty” a sausage or bacon biscuit with egg and cheese. “Bitty” is a nickname given to her father as a baby, short for “Itty Bitty”. Her father was born prematurely. He carried that name until high school. The “Itty” was dropped, and he was called “Bitty” until he passed at age 77. For lunch, she offered the “Big Brubby” hamburger with the works. It was inspired by her older brother. The “Lil Brubby” is inspired by her younger brother, who liked a simple burger. It is a plain burger served on a bun. There is also the “Sister/Sister,” which is a chicken salad served with crackers, a slightly lighter option than the chicken salad served on a croissant. Sister/Sister was put on the menu for Marlessia and her sister.

Marlessia’s relationship with God, her faith, and her walk are evident in how she treats the people who visit MiZo. “Brokenness comes to MiZo for healing,” she says. Imagine an old-school teacher’s chalkboard with pens and sticky notes instead of chalk and erasers in the coffee shop for people to leave inspirational messages. Personal “Post-it” notes line the tray for people to write inspirational quotes or words of encouragement. “A person may be spiritually led to go to the board to pick a note just for them. A note that reads something uplifting, something powerful. You never know who will need it.”

In today’s economy, there are few places where you can get good gourmet coffee and affordable food options at modest prices. MiZo Coffee Co. is the exception. “People have questioned why my prices are so low or how I make money with such low prices. I price my items so everyone can come and experience MiZo,” she says. “Owning my company is not about getting rich, it’s about community. It’s a ministry. As MiZo grows, the economy should grow. As I add more items to the menu, I may raise my prices just a little, but we will grow together as a community.”

In keeping in step with the Conyers community, Marlessia opens MiZo for gatherings and workshops. There’s “Coffee with a Cop,” which is an opportunity for the community to talk to local police and express concerns and issues such as crime and safety. These gatherings allow both parties to get to know each other and forge relationships. Additionally, MiZo invites local politicians and state representatives to connect with their constituency and answer questions.

Although MiZo is Black-owned, Marlessia has a diverse customer base that she refers to as family. “I love my customers, and I treat them as family. We are all part of the same community, and I am committed to supporting other locally-owned businesses. The Pastries, Muffins, Cheese, Danishes, and Croissants that I sell are bought from local suppliers. However, the pound cakes are my creations,” she says. “This includes the banana pudding pound cake, the Almond Rum pound cake, and the blueberrylemon pound cake. They are made with love, and I want every bite to evoke a memory of that mother, grandmother, or auntie’s homemade pound cake,” she says.

As the future unfolds, there are a lot of great things happening at MiZo Coffee Co. They have recently secured an agreement with a major medical system in Conyers that will allow the Mizo Coffee Co. brand to be available in more places. Marlessia is very excited about this growth, and with it comes a need for additional support, and that is where Marlessia is very particular about how her brand is represented. She adds, “MiZo is a great environment to work in, but a person must reflect my mission and vision. I look for the best personality for MiZo, and I want them to be kind and people-oriented. They must love people and possess a heart to serve.”

During the first year of operations at MiZo Coffee Co., Marlessia shared her focus was on stability and connecting with the community. Going forward, she has her sights set on expanding and continuously improving. While their existing line of premium coffees and pastries has set the standard, Marlessia has plans for more. Stop by their location in Conyers and enjoy the love and warmth that MiZo Coffee Co. provides. If you would like to have MiZo Coffee at home, that is very possible, as they can ship anywhere in the world.

425 Sigman Road NW Conyers, GA 30012 1-877-879-6496


Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jamaican parents at Cumberland Hospital in the early 70s, Maxine A. Moncrieffes first introduction to poetry came from her mother and fellow creative poet, artist, musician, singer, activist, teacher, and registered nurse, Hyacinth Williams-Moncrieffe. Her love of music started with her father. Her parents catalyzed Maxine’s passion for the world of creativity, poetry, music, arts, roots, and culture.

Maxine was born with disabilities that she was not aware of, but she knew something was wrong because she’d been in physical pain the majority of her life. It was not until she had reached adulthood and had children that her physical state went awry, which had a huge impact on her mentally. Maxine also grew up witnessing mental illness and violence daily. This rendered Maxine homeless on the streets of Brooklyn at 12. Even through her own private tortured life, it made her wonder what her parents and family members were going through and how she would change the old narratives. This forced Maxine to not only seek answers but also to change her life for the better.

Having excelled in academia, except for mathematics (she was diagnosed with dyscalculia in her early twenties), Maxine found school boring at a very young age. She loved it but found the curriculum to be painstakingly slow. She had already passed what the teachers were teaching. When her cousins and siblings would play hooky at school, Maxine tried to fit in and follow. However, she always ended up in the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza reading for hours, touching the books, and smelling the pages.

“To laugh is to live longer, with a smile that reaches your soul, and is the best medicine for the dreary and negativity that also encompasses existence.”
Florida - April/May 2024 35
“Life is always filled with challenges, and operating a business is not excluded.”

Books have been a place of escape and wondrous imagination for Maxine since childhood. Back then, Maxine was deemed a nerd and bullied. She tried fighting back, even becoming a bully for a month and hated it. Why? She simply felt awful causing someone else pain. So, instead of bullying, she became a friend, protector, and vigilante, fighting for the underdog and the people individuals threw away or mistreated.

Maxine’s mother transcended from breast cancer in 2008. Her father is under family care. She is the mother of three (two girls and one boy), the grandmother of nine (with number 10 on the way).

Moncrieffe is certified and licensed in various areas, from food handling, public notary, healthcare (HHA & PCA), medical billing, writing, literature, and human resources. She is also the owner of two businesses, a published poet, self-publisher, podcast host, and face of Creatives Magazine.

One of her businesses, P.L.O.T.S. or Proofing & Promoting Services, LLC, was established in 2020. Plots Proofing & Promoting Services, LLC handles creating promotional works for creatives and entrepreneurs. These include video clips, flyers, video and audio commercials. The other business, Cyber Clerical Associates, offers proofreading, editing, book covers, book publishing, and more. There is also a clothing line that uses the proceeds to support creatives.

Maxine loves what she does, and that is very apparent. However, with her joys also come a few challenges. She says, “Life is always filled with challenges, and operating a business is not excluded. I was laughed at and told I was crazy for using my stimulus checks during the Covid 19 pandemic to start and invest in my businesses. I was told by those whom I thought were loyal team and family members that my magazine was a waste of time. I was also told by a creative doing similar work that I was wasting my efforts. I learned that when it comes to business, I simply cannot tell everyone everything or anything. Negative energies and thoughts can be a major diversion from one’s goals and purpose,” she says.

Maxine is a very business oriented individual. She says she is inspired by the famous and popular quote, “Live, Laugh, Love. These 3 L’s are the reasons why I do what I do. To live is a blessing, bestowed upon us by the most high. To laugh is to live longer, with a smile that reaches your soul, and is the best medicine for the dreary and negativity that also encompasses existence. Love; there is nothing greater than this. These things inspire me to write, work, live on, fight onward, help others, be grateful that I exist, and work at being a better individual.”

Moving forward, Maxine will have her hands involved with many things. This includes a bevy of projects such as publishing books for creatives. There is also a new series of coloring books - Color With Me – Coloring Books, Color With Me, Let’s Go To Space, and Fruits & Veggies. A special literary project also reflects her experience during Hurricane Ian in Florida. Be on the lookout for more from Maxine and her brands. Florida - April/May 2024 36
Lola Knight The daughter of Rashaun Knight and Zaria Knight
ARKANSAS DALLAS/ FORT WORTH CALIFORNIA CHARLOTTE MISSISSIPPI NEW YORK/NJ LOUISVILLE HAMPTON ROADS CHICAGO MEMPHIS NASHVILLE DENVER INDIANAPOLIS RALEIGH/ DURHAM MILWAUKEE Established 2007 A Mykel Media Company LLC Publication Published for 23 States and 30 Markets / Online & In Print Scan Our QR Code For More Details 336-303-9814 FB-LadyE_Specs IG-lady_especs Exclusive Specs for Men and Women Florida - April/May 2024 40

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