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Brandon M. Frame #theblackmancan Atlanta - January/February 2020
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Don’t Just Talk About It, Be About It A Letter From The Editor
There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About If we never allow ourselves to experience the things that It!
we imagine, we are not really living our lives according to what God purposed us for. To achieve the impossible requires A Letter from Editor fortitude and the determination. You must also be willing to let go of somethings that you previously thought was a part of you. Letting go also means that we are growing in the direction that What ifistomorrow our destiny pointed. didn’t arrive? All of your plans, hopes and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if everything decided put offis until tomorrow A dream isthat just you a dream untiltoaction applied. That isnever the happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy moment of which a dream grows its wings and takes flight. I day, and you could spare trouble of making might say that I would like someone to lose 40the pounds of body weight promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired this year, but if I never do anything that relates to getting me today? What would you do? to that goal, then all I am doing is talking to myself. To lose 40
pounds of body weight would require for me to change the toldhave that Itooften seemand like develop I do too an much. way I’ve I eat,been I would exercise, attitude of Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm someone who wants to be 40 pounds lighter. It would require believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me for me to apply action to my goal or dream. that I couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonder how life would be I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I Inif2020, I have decided not to make a lot of resolutions. found that very boring. mylast opinion, Tohave be honest manytoofbethe ones that IIn set year, I opportunity didn’t is a blessing that isn’t afforded to everyone. A challenge reach. Instead, I believe that if I attempt to live a more positive to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? lifestyle, there will be little or no room for negativity. In terms If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn of being positive, the things that seem impossible I am going to something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in approach with a possible mindset. Doors that may look closed, return acquire life. I am going to knock on them anyway with expectation. They have to open. The best advice ever given to me happened when someone told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so The most important action that we can make this year I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only requires no action at all. To get to where we are dreaming to hope provided. I have also learned the difference between go, we must allow God to lead us. Life has proven that the what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with navigational system created by as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and man is full of flaws and will all when to be quiet, because too often lead us to a dead end. someone may get it confused If we just sit still and be patient, with being arrogant. and trust God to work for us, every dream that we ever had will Make you tomorrow become a reality. happen today, but most importantly make it count. All that matters is what God has Life is but a whisper and planned for our If we in dream we must putlives. ourselves a it and give it back to God, we position to hear what it isare thentelling living aus. truly a purposed life.
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Terry L. Watson Atlanta - Editor/Founder January/February 2020
On The Cover
Photo by Shaw Photography Group
Apple For The Day
On The Cover
The Black Man Can Brandon M. Frame
Sasha A. Ridley Enterprises
Sasha A. Ridley
SOul Divine Wellness & Creations
Music To His Ears
Jevertus Burnette He is bringing a Black Wealth Seminar to the Upstate Area. Greenville/Spartanburg, SC
Jonnika Wilson Looking for something to wrap your hair with. Meet the face of Jonnika Nickohl Collections.
Atlanta - January/February 2020
Kasion Priest He is the cutest, and has been selected as Huami Magazineâ€™s Cutest Baby.
Brandon M. Frame #theblackmancan
Atlanta - January/February 2020
By Crystal Kelly Photos by Brandon Frame Morehouse College graduate, Brandon M. Frame, is a man that is motivated by M.K. Asante’s quote, “Once you make an observation you have an obligation.” While attending Morehouse College Frame observed that there was a need for mentorship for young boys of color attending middle school. He created a youth males mentorship group called Voice. He led this group and fostered the educational growth of young boys of color while attending college. This group met once a week and focused on fostering and building positive self-identity of young men boys of color. When asked why he chose Morehouse, he simply replied, “I wanted to attend a college that is designed to created Black male leaders.” Almost as if written destiny, Brandon’s life has always been on a path to be a leader and trailblazer for boys and men of color. Born and raised in Hartford, CT and the eldest to his five siblings you might say that Brandon has a natural tendency to care and look out for others. After graduating Morehouse College, he began teaching and coaching at a private school in MA. There he became a mentor to his students. Frame realized that he had an impact on the younger generation and became a male figure that young men looked up to. Growing up most of his life without his father, he had to learn certain things about becoming a man on his own. One thing he learned was how common it is for other young men of color to be without their fathers. Brandon wanted to create a place for young men of color to express themselves and be able to see positive images of other males of color. Often the media will paint only one kind of image for men of color and more times than not, that image has a negative tone to it. In 2010, Brandon created a blog called #theblackmancan to congratulate, educate, and inspire young boys and men of color. The blog set up a platform
“I wanted to attend a college that is designed to created Black male leaders.”
Continued on the next page
for boys and men of color to express themselves and share positive life stories. Using social media as a place for these young boys and men of color to have a voice and show the world positive images, this blog experienced tremendous growth over the next few years. He also used Instagram to post positive pictures of Black men getting married, smiling, playing with their children, and more. In 2013, Brandon decided to take this movement to the next level and wrote a guided journal entitled, Define Yourself: Redefine the World. The journal was used as a tool in his educational institute. He combined personal stories of the stories on the blog, positive images shown online via social media platforms of men of color, and education to continue to spread the message that #theblackmancan. Since its inception, Brandon began to be recognized and awarded for his movement. Some of the notable awards include, Boston Globe magazine cover, Jet magazine’s Men of Honor, BET Honors: Next in Class Awards, and the MLK award from Morehouse College. Throughout the decade he launched his own YouTube tv series “Building Minds Forever” which lasted for two years and hosted over 150 guests. He created 1000 T.I.E.S (Transforming Identities 2 Empower Society), the Blackmancan Institute which is now called ‘Building a Better Brother’ Summit. Over 7,000 young men have attended since its inception in 2013 and is headed to the Bahamas in 2020 for its first international summit. He is the Creative Visionary for several innovative events and platforms which include, #FallingBlackinLove Power Couple Brunch, #BlackManWinningWednesdays featuring young boys of color recognizing successful men of color, and #BlackMenMondays. These hashtag shows can be found on YouTube. In 2019, He co-authored his first children’s book entitled, My First Tie. This young man has a God given path to lead and pave the way for other boys and men of color to succeed and be seen as the kings they are made to be. Brandon is definitely a man that lives to fulfill his obligation to provide a positive platform for boys and men of color. He is a young Black Man that most certainly can! h
Sasha A. Ridley Heart To Heart Consulting Sasha A. Ridley Enterprises
By Terry L. Watson Photos by Sasha Ridley
Sasha A. Ridley of Chesapeake, VA is a devoted mother, multifaceted business woman, purpose pusher, and creative thinker. She is also extremely empathetic. By the sounds of it, Sasha lives a pretty simple life. She loves meeting and connecting with new people from all backgrounds and vantage points. Even more, she believes the best way to view life is from the perspective of another person. Life hasn’t always been easy for Sasha but she has proven and battle tested. She has faced being homeless three times within the last four years, all while battling depression and anxiety. “I felt as if I didn’t belong. I have adjusted by learning how to shift my focus and to slow myself down and reconnect with my faith. Searching for the lesson in the situations rather than focus more on trying to move on to the next survival shift was the game changer which helped me to become the change agent in my own life,” she shares. “Realizing and owning the role I played in each and every situation allowed me to be able to connect and be of value to others”. Within her circle of friends and family, Sasha is the one everyone seeks for questions and advice. Even though she may be the youngest in most cases, she is still the go to and describes herself as the “baby in charge”. Currently she operates as a certified Relationship Life Coach with Sasha A. Ridley Enterprises and Heart To Heart Consulting. Coach Sasha works with those who are looking to overcome debilitating fears in regards to vulnerability, communication and adversities that may limit one’s ability to establish personal and professional relationships. She is also a transformation speaker and author, and has published her first book, The Relational Mindset How to Heal and Build Healthy Relationships, which is a take action memoir. “Writing my memoir offered me freedom and healing. The book has also helped others take a closer look at their life and the toxic things they are allowing or have allowed in past relationships. Furthermore, being able to speak on these topics and my mirror confidence method allows me to take my one on one coaching model into a group atmosphere,” she shares.
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Sasha has over eight years of management, customer relations, coaching, marketing, and development experience; skills that she utilizes to assist her with Heart to Heart Consulting. “I am committed to serving those individuals who are ready to put forth action to uncover their who, why, and how and shift their mindset of lack and self-sabotage in order to start their business,” she says. “It is my ultimate desire to equip today’s business owners with the tools and strategies to realize their financial worth, and help them with building an unmatched brand and to dominate their market. I want to help others find their purpose as a person outside of their brand.” Sasha began working as an Executive Assistant with a non profit organization. After two years there, she went on to work as an Telecommunications Officer with the area police department, a move that spanned four years. Due to a family illness, she terminated her employment with the police department and jumped into full-time entrepreneurship so that she would have more flexibility. Both opportunities played a role in helping her to launch Heart to Heart Consulting, and helped her with establishing client relationships. “Working with many different companies over the years I began to see things that challenged my morals. I knew I had to fully invest in Heart to Heart and give the people something different. I also realized that starting a business was a big investment and required a lot of trust. Clients come to me because they trust that I will offer them solutions, and that is what Heart to Heart Consulting is all about. From my heart to yours,” Sasha explains. Her desire to be a life coach had been a long time passion. She studied psychology at Virginia Union University and was always deeply intrigued by the cognitive development and thought process of a person and how it impacts behavior. When the opportunity came to implement life coaching into her business, Sasha knew she had to be strategic and intentional about it. “It was important that I mastered the areas in which I was trying to advise someone else on. Vulnerability and being able to communicate with yourself is vital. You can’t expect to have an honest and authentic exchange with anyone if you are hiding from your own face in the mirror,” she says. She finds the most joy as a Life Coach when her clients experience “the light bulb moment”. “A client called me once and was so excited about being able to use a method I used and taught them. When my clients are able to stand in their boldness and implement the practical tools and strategies they have learned in sessions with me, makes it all worth it,” she says.
www.SashaARidley.com www.HeartToHeartConsultingLLC.com FB & IG: @SasahARidley FB & IG: @HeartToHeartConsultingVA 757-556-6856
Ironically, Sasha finds inspiration through many of the adversities she has faced. She is also inspired by her daughter. “When I was at some of the lowest and scariest moments of my life she was my beacon of light. We all want to leave a legacy behind as parents and our greatest legacy will be our children. My drive is to create a life that she wont have to recover from. As a single mom it is important to me that she knows that no matter who or what may come that I will always be in her corner,” she says. She is also deeply inspired by watching others succeed despite the obstacles that are thrown at them. “Life can sometimes be tricky but mastering the odds is the ultimate magic trick,” she says. h .
Marquita Brown Apple For The Day
By Terry L. Watson Photos by Marquita Brown Marquita Brown is a native of Petersburg, VA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies and is also a Licensed Practical Nurse. She is also an entrepreneur, mentor, philanthropist and community advocate who believes in social justice. She also believes in equality in healthcare and educating African Americans about their health and informing them about the importance of making healthy decisions. “It has always been embedded in my DNA to empower those whose voices are not heard. The voice that is least heard are black and brown people. I hope to change this phenomenon,” she says. Marquita is also the owner of Apple for The Day, a health education and health consultation business. It is focused on the health of all but mostly concentrated on African American health. The point of receiving these services is to make sure people have a basic knowledge on their condition. The name came about from the phrase “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”. Marquita shares that she wanted to give knowledge on health and instead of having someone retrieve an apple a day, she wanted to give them an apple for the day. “When it is time to go to a healthcare provider, people can hold an informed conversation with their caregiver. Hopefully, people will think more critically about their health and their care and collaborate with their healthcare provider and receive better results because of it,” she says. She shares that God gave her this vision. “Unbeknownst to myself, I began my business as a child. I started out wanting to be a physician. I worked diligently from that time to attain this goal. As a teenager I began as a hospital volunteer formerly known as a Candy Striper. From there, I began volunteering at my pediatrician’s office and could see how the front office worked and the doctor allowed me to come in the room with him while he examined patients from time to time. In high school I was a part of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). I also took my first Black History course there. After graduating high school, I majored in Biology and concentrated in Pre-Medicine and was offered the chance to intern in a private practice. That experience changed my life,” she says.
She would become even more eager and interested in helping others. “There were so many African American patients who had surgery because the doctor said they needed it but did not understand why the procedure was necessary. I knew this because of their facial expressions. I started going into the room after the doctor finished speaking and asked if the patient understood what was being said. The patient replied ‘yes’ repeatedly but when I asked them to explain it to me, they could not. After seeing this for about the third time, my view on healthcare changed drastically” she says. Soon she would obtain an Associates in Science and went on to another tract, nursing. Simultaneously, she had switched her major to African American Studies, minored in psychology, and concentrated in African American Health. Marquita says she knew African Americans were being neglected in the healthcare system and did not know why. She also knew African Americans did not trust the healthcare system. Continued on the next page
During her last semester in college, she volunteered for a public health organization and participated in an internship educating African Americans in the community about their health. Once she graduated, she was able to work for that public health organization and realized this is what she wanted to do with her life. The grant had ended in that position and she was no longer in that line of work. “I had to work in clinics/doctors’ offices where people were treated like numbers instead of people. Yet, again, I noticed where African Americans were not receiving the proper education they needed and deserved,” she says. She tried looking for positions in the non-profit sector and they were not available. So, in January of 2019, she stepped out on faith and created Apple for the Day. Marquita has a genuine love for the African American community. She is aware of the need to bring about a change to a group of people without a voice. “I will be fully satisfied with my business once African Americans are on par and/or surpass the majority in this country in all areas of health,” she says. “As a society it would be substantial if we could remove social constructs such as racism, discrimination, low paying jobs, jobs without health benefits, lack of transportation, and food deserts. These social barriers affect health on levels that most people are not even aware of.” She is also inspired by her parents. “My mother had no idea how much she was feeding my quest for knowledge. She groomed me for the healthcare field as a child. My father was a businessman. I watched him run a business and he gave me vision of not only being an African American businessman in the early 90s, but also a successful businessman. He also helped me while I was brainstorming for Apple for the Day. He was confident in my ability,” she shares. Marquita is also on a mission to eradicate racism from the healthcare practice. “Without racism, health disparities would not exist. African Americans receive the least amount of healthcare and tend to only go to the hospital or doctor when it effects their work. By that time, it may already be too late. Even if African Americans do not wait until the last minute to receive care, the best care is not always given while being seen in a medical office or hospital; regardless of income or education status,” she says. To learn more about what Marquita Brown and Apple for The Day is doing, please visit their website or contact her directly. h
By Crystal Kelly Photos by Cameron Tillman Cameron J. Tillman (Cam) is a young and talented jazz and gospel musician. He has recently relocated to Atlanta, GA. He was born on May 15, 2005, in Hartford, CT. He is the only child to his single mother, Crystal Kelly. As a young child Cam has enjoyed music. At church he would sing and play on the drums. At the age of four he received a trombone as a birthday gift. He was encouraged to learn to play the trombone because it is one of the instruments featured on the brass shout bands at his church, The United House of Prayer for All People. Cameron reluctantly did not want to play the trombone because he felt that it was too hard to pick up and learn and he could not get the hang of it. He decided to learn to play the snare drum instead because he picked it up faster than the trombone. By the age of six, Cameron asked his mom if he could take lessons to play the saxophone. She declined because he already had a trombone that he never used and he refused to learn how to play it. Plus, she did not want to spend the extra money on another instrument if he was not going to actually learn how to play it. She decided to make him a deal; she said, “if you learn how to play your trombone first, then you can switch to another instrument.” Cameron decided to dedicate himself to learning how to play his trombone. He became determined to play it just enough to satisfy his mother so that he could switch to the saxophone. As he began getting better playing his horn, he decided to join his elementary school band at John F. Kennedy Elementary in Windsor, CT, in addition he continued to play with the brass band at church. Cameron began to learn how to read music as well. He got really good at playing his trombone. He got so comfortable playing his trombone that he did not want to put it down. When he got to middle school he joined the school orchestra band and decided to audition for the jazz band as well. Cameron became one of only four 6th graders on the school’s jazz band. This was his first time being exposed to the world of jazz. He instantly fell in love with the genre of music. He started to listen to all kinds of jazz music and learning about the musicians. Cameron became really close with his band director who took him under his wing and really introduced him to all kinds of jazz musicians and music. He became known as a Jazz Cat! He had adult mentors that would talk about music and jazz with him each week. Cameron became a consistent featured soloist to perform during several concerts and performances.
in band for playing his trombone and for his character. At Charter Oak, they gifted him with new Yamaha trombone. It was stated that he was gifted the horn due to character. He is such a respectable young man and he always volunteers to help others with learning how to play their instrument. Since moving to Atlanta in June of 2019, Cam has performed with the Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra at Georgia State University. He made 1st Chair at his school, North Cobb High School’s concert band and is a member of their marching band as well; all while continuing to play on the brass band and marching band at his church. Cameron has not thought about playing the saxophone since he has learned how to play his trombone. He also plays other instruments, but his trombone is where his heart is. He plays with such passion and enjoyment. He loves the trombone and is hardly ever seen without it. h
Cameron eventually learned about a music program at Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, CT. They have a brass band called the Funky Dawgz Community Brass Jazz Band. He again decided to join this band in addition to the bands at school and the band at church. Cam’s mother advised him that he was already a member of three bands and taking on another was going to be a lot. He promised not to let his grades fall and that he would be responsible for keeping up with all the work he needed to put in, and he did just that. Cameron has such a love for playing his trombone. He has quickly advanced in the bands he plays in at church and even played in the orchestra band at church in Washington D.C at a Memorial Day event hosting thousands of people. He has won three full scholarships three years in a row to an elite jazz camp, Litchfield Jazz Camp in CT. He was recognized as June’s student of the month in 2017, at www. spreadmusicnow.org. At school, he has been awarded student honors
SOulDIVINE Wellness & Creations
By Terry L. Watson - Photos by Lauren Danielle Lauren Danielle of Atlanta, Ga describes herself as divine love. She is a healer, teacher, supporter, friend, and free spirit. Yet, a combination of all of these are what makes up her business, SOulDIVINE Wellness & Creations. “I am passionate about the greater expansion of relationships, healing, and businesses in the black community,” she says. SOulDIVINE Wellness & Creations offers services and products dedicated to holistically supporting one’s journey to well-being. They are designed to elevate someone’s the mind-body-spirit. The therapy services they offer are Yoga, Reiki, Vibrational Sound Therapy, Vaginal Steaming, and Detox therapy. Their products available are copper wire jewelry, waistbeads, herbal pads, and smudgesticks. Originally from Virginia, the path taken for Lauren hasn’t always been pleasant. She shares that 2019 was a rough year for her. Not one to settle, she knew she had to do something about it and so in October 2019, she took a huge leap of faith and randomly moved to Atlanta with just her clothes, therapy tools, and her dream. It was the best decision she could have made. She says her business was birthed after her own personal journey to well-being. “I was on a path to a deep depression. I was so unhappy with my life. I was at rock bottom. I knew something had to change so I decided to do something about it and so I began my journey by going to yoga classes everyday. This practice allowed me to find myself and my life shifted for the better. I eventually realized I was operating in my purpose and needed to share this healing with others,” she says. Lauren has always had a heart of service and jumps at each opportunity to help others. “I love that I’m fulfilling my soul purpose,” she says. SOulDIVINE Wellness & Creations is sort a like a diamond in the rough, but Lauren is working diligently to making her brand more visible. This doesn’t come without challenges. “I feel as though, if you aren’t a person of high influence then you have to work ten times harder to make the value of what you do known,” she shares. “Finances are another challenge for me. When you don’t have the financial means to support you or your business, It can sometimes by discouraging. However, I believe my challenges are fuel for my greatness. Lauren says she is inspired mostly be people who are living in their true purpose. “What truly moves me is knowing the pleasures of life is available to us all. I encourage everyone to enjoy life to the fullest,” she says. She also credits her mother for being a constant source of support. “She has impacted my life in all aspects and has literally had my back since I began my journey, from the beginning, the middle, and now. I am excited about the opportunity to pour back into her as much as she poured into me.” Moving forward, Lauren plans to continue to seek opportunities to heal herself while supporting others. She is co-creating an event with MMM Fit Club titled, Atlanta Beads of Love: Re-Connecting The Dots of Black Love. It will take place on February 14th. “I would love to establish a brick and mortar in Atlanta and then across the nation. I plan to travel the world sharing this gift of what I call holisti-care, encouraging people to live healthier lives,” h she says.
The Black Business Connector
By Terry L. Watson Photos by Sasha Ridley
Jervertus Burnett wanted to bring the summit back and make it better than ever. Burnett is the founder of The Black Wealth Summit, which will take place in two locations this year. Last year, more than 150 people came to the inaugural event, held in Spartansburg, S.C. In 2020, there will be two summits, the first from March 13-15 at Greenforest Baptist Church in Atlanta and the second at Spartansburg Community College April 3-4. Burnett, who graduated from Savannah State, works as a financial advisor by day, but also helps others at night which birthed the concept of the Black Wealth Summit. “During the day, I make sure I’m equipping clients with methods to move wealth efficiently and maintaining the integrity of their brand, elevating their profiles in the greater South Carolina committee,” Burnett said. “Off the clock, I want to make sure that people in the African-American and undeserved communities have some of those some resources.” Burnett was raised in Norwood, G.A. and credited his upbringing for implementing his work ethic. “I was raised by a single mom with four kids and she only brought home about $600 a month,” Burnett said. “I was heavily acquainted with the word ‘no,’ so at a young age my brother and I started working — raking leaves, cutting grass, doing anything we can to help around the house. “Every decision my older siblings did had my mom in mind. My brother had a basketball scholarship at Georgia Southern, but he left school and went to the military to send money home. My sister had a full scholarship to Clark Atlanta, but she worked full-time as well.” Growing up, Burnett said he wanted to get into the financial field. “I knew that money didn’t grow on trees, so I was inquisitive about it and wanted to learn everything I could,” Burnett said. “In the 10th grade, I was absolutely sure that was the field I wanted to go into — I didn’t know the different types of jobs, but I knew I wanted to be a part of one.”
“My sister and her husband used to teach financial literacy and I started sharing information to my peers,” Burnett said. “My roommates were the first ones who sat down and went through everything with me. During my senior year, I spent my Christmas holiday and Spring Break helping her — she was a consumer credit counselor with United Way — I was later certified as a financial literacy coach, and I focused on the opportunities she gave me. “After I graduated, I did more self-studies and I took a job at a school here at South Carolina, initially to coach basketball. Still, I was so passionate about business and the school didn’t have a program, so I wrote one out. The first year I taught health to the kids at the school, then the second year it was financial literacy. I thought that I would coach basketball in high school, then work to the college and NBA ranks before teaching finances, but God had a different plan for me to start so soon. I’ve been satisfied with everything that’s happened so far.” Burnett said The Black Wealth Summit will have plenty to offer. “On Friday night, we’ll haven the networking event, highlighted by vendors and sponsors, which will also give people the opportunity to learn about black businesses in the areas,” Burnett said. “On Saturday, it will be full of workshops and seminars with sessions such as how to create a family bank, tax codes, real estate investing and branding sessions. Eugene Mitchell will be the keynote speaker at both events—he’s the author of ‘Closing the Racial Wealth Gap: Seven Untold Rules for Black Prosperity and Legacy’ and has helped lead a charge inside the black community. “This summit is here to inspire entrepreneurs and team them up with people who have been there. If you have a vision and want it to come to life, it helps to have great examples to provide insight in an environment with an abundance of knowledge. We don’t want to be hoarders of that — instead, we want to be the epitome of lifting each other up as we strive for great achievements.” The cost for The Black Wealth Summit is $49.95. For additional information, go to The Black Wealth Summit on Facebook. h
Although Burnett learned plenty of lessons about money as a child and wanted to become a financial advisor, he didn’t set the best example starting out at Savannah State. “I messed up a lot of money,” Burnett said. “I was on a scholarship, but lost it due to horrible decisions. I bought a house and lost it, ran up credit cards, was homeless for a couple of weeks and my credit was messed up. It got to a point where my sister said ‘I’m concerned about you, but if you truly want my help you need to do something different.’ My Christmas gift from her my junior year of college was the ‘Crown Financial Ministries’ series and she told me I had to make better decisions with money if she was going to continue sending it to help me out. “It was a combination of hitting rock bottom and having someone who cared about me get in my grill and tell me to do better. This is why I tell people they don’t have to be ashamed about where they are, but they have to be disciplined to get out of the situation.” As Burnett cleaned up his act, he also shared information at his school.
Jonnika Nickohl Collection 24
Atlanta - January/February 2020
By Junious Smith Photos by Apollo Wonex A leap of faith, flair for style and a desire to advocate the diversity of women in the workforce, propelled Jonnika Wilson into entrepreneurship. On November 11, 2019, Wilson launched The Jonnika Nickohl Collection, a hair accessory line she created as a way of expression for the everyday women to look and feel their best. The Spartanburg, South Carolina native who currently resides in Duncan, S.C. says the initial reviews have been positive. Wilson has showcased plenty of innovation over the years, having graduated from the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, S.C where she studied dance. With over 20 years of dance training, Wilson continues to pursue her passion by teaching in local dance studios and creating choreography in the upstate. Wilson extended her education and now holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of South Carolina Upstate and a Masters degree in Business Administration and Human Resource Management from Strayer University. “My desire for the arts and business has molded me into the professional woman I am today. I believe that your passion comes from your heart which is not enforced but embraced,” she says. While having a hand in numerous avenues, a decision to go natural in 2009 planted the first seeds of Wilson’s desire toward her collection. “From college to the start of my professional career, I always thought straight hair was considered the only way to look professional, move up in your career and fit in,” she says. With the desire to try something new with her strands, Wilson went for a drastic change. “I wanted to go natural, which at the time was not the trend as you see today. So, I did the bigchop and embraced my new identity and journey.” A missed job opportunity a few years later emboldened Wilson into wanting to put something together. “I applied for a business developer position, which included four interviews. The final interview was between myself and an external associate. The director over the area said, “we want you to work in this position - we know you’re a great employee and well qualified – and we’re pretty much set on offering you the position, but I do have one question: what are you going to do with your hair?” “My hair is naturally curly, defined, and as most would say good hair – I didn’t see anything wrong with it.” Continued on the next page
Another female associate included in the interview quickly objected saying that she did not see a problem with her hairstyle or texture and proceeded to imply and that the most important factor was that she is most qualified for the position, but the director refused to budge saying it was not his thing. “He felt the look wasn’t as approachable for others. Ultimately, I didn’t get the position - someone was hired externally - and that planted a seed for me,” she says. In 2016, Wilson started working on what would become her initial staple. “At that time, I only had one design in mind,” Wilson said. “I had an old headband - I took the stitching out, extended it, and placed it on my head which pulled up my curls creating a pin-up style. People started asking me where I got it saying it looked professional and was something they would wear to work. With such positive feedback, I started thinking of expanding this design to a collection of hair pieces for women to wear in any occasion.” A trip to New York a year later helped Wilson put the plan into place. “I took a lot of creative and business advice from a close friend who is a fashion designer - business owner and we started thinking of ideas and the best concept for my hair pieces,” Wilson said. “What makes my collection so unique is that each design is named after a family member or close friend. I love my family and friends, and this is the best way to hold them all close to me on this journey.” Although she was very confident about her designs and concept, she struggled with a fear of rejection from previous experiences. She was able to overcome her doubts due to a strong support system. “I am blessed to have good people around me especially my mother who has prayed and supported me during this process. I design headbands, headwraps and turbans for the everyday woman. I want women to exude confidence and style in any scene whether it’s in the office, at an event or in the gym. The pieces are made from a slinky fabric which gives a sheen sophisticated look while providing the best comfort and flexibility for all-day wear,” she shared. Wilson has some plans in the future. She would like to expand her collection by creating more pieces each season and build her audience from online sales to storefront and in major department stores. She would also like to use her professional career in Human Resources along with the Jonnika Nickohl Collection to counsel others. “Through my personal experience of rejection and seclusion as a professional, I want to close the gap and bring to light the importance and positive impact of diversity in the workplace, education and personal lifestyle,” she says.
www.jonnikanickohlcollection.com Facebook: Jonnika Nickohl Collection Instagram: jonnikanickohlcollection
“I am excited about this business, the brand and my future. All I have to do now is place my feet in the right direction and trust God in the process.” h
Kaison Priest MAGAZINE
The son of Natosha Priest Photo by Natosha Priest
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Atlanta - January/February 2020
By Terry L. Watson Photos by Autumn Prather
Autumn Page Prather understands that motherhood is the hardest job on the planet, yet is the most rewarding. Moreover, this mother knows that leaving a legacy to her children is the single most important thing she can do to ensure that her pedigree continues to thrive and survive. She is the co-founder and CEO of (M.A.D.E.) The Mother & Daughter Experience , a 501 (c) 3 organization that promotes the sacred bonds between mothers and daughters, so that relationships are enhanced now and for generations to come. M.A.D.E sponsors, hosts and/or participates in events and activities that help foster the sacred bond between mothers and daughters. The program offers tailored workshops, seminars, summits and retreats on a variety of themes including but not limited to self-worth, leadership and team-building skills. M.A.D.E is available to professional keynote speakers for formal and informal events centered around women and girl’s empowerment. M.A.D.E hosts an annual Mother/Daughter Breakfast to celebrate mothers, grandmothers, god-mothers, step-mothers and the village who all play important roles in the rearing of our daughters. The Mother & Daughter Experience was founded in response to a 10 year journey of my wanting to do something to honor Autumn’s late mother, Mrs. Linda Marie Everett who passed away April 24, 2009. “In January 2019, as I was lying in bed recovering from a difficult surgery, and I had an epiphany. I wanted an opportunity to share how my daughter and I created a unique bond through love, wisdom, and understanding. I wanted a chance to showcase that kind of bond with her because my mother and I shared that uniqueness as well. I declared that generational curses and dysfunction would stop with us and we would encourage others to look for their unique bond and create their own mantra for a better future. I called my daughter, who was 19 years old at that time, and told her about my idea and titled her the Executive Director,” she says. A passionate leader with over 24 years of professional experience in the financial and insurance sectors, Autumn is a 1997 Cum Laude graduate of Tennessee State University and brandishes a degree in Business Administration. She was initiated into the Alpha Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, in 1995 and is a 1998 charter member of Upsilon Psi Omega6 Chapter. She has been employed at UBS Financial Services, Inc. for 15 years and is currently a Senior Business Analyst in the Investment Bank division. Autumn’s daughter, Sydnei Page Everett is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Mother & Daughter Experience. She is currently enrolled at Tennessee State University an is majoring in Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., in the Honors College, a member of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success and apart of the Student Government Association, Student Union Board of Governors. Sydnei is the former President of the Top Teens of America, Nashville chapter. She is also involved with The Positivity Board and Undergraduate Students National Dental Association (USNDA).
In her spare time, she enjoys being a middle school cheer coach, motivational speaking, traveling, service to the community and mentoring young girls. The recipients of the services that (M.A.D.E.) offers are women and girls of all ages, races and ethnicity. “If you are a woman who is a mother-figure to a young girl and/or you had a hand in helping to raise her, our services are for you. If you are a teacher, coach, sponsor or administrator who wants to improve mother and daughter relationships, so that the quality of life for girls in your care is enhanced, our services are for you. If you are an organization that wants to partner together to bring awareness to the community for greater impact, our services are for you,” says Autumn. Autumn shares she absolutely loves tapping into an area that a lot of people tend to shy away from. The mother/daughter relationship is extremely complex and it’s not easy to navigate. “Our relationship is not perfect at all. But, we are intentional about making sure that love is in action, that wisdom is heard and respected and that understanding is felt. I love that we are impacting generations of women and girls, mothers and future mothers and are encouraging mothers to be the role model for their daughters. Healthy relationships are so very important and we believe that the mother/daughter bond sets the stage for every subsequent relationship in a girl’s life - whether romantic or platonic. My mother and her grandmother is the catalyst behind our non-profit and I love that most of all,” she says. As with any nonprofit organization, they rely heavily on donations from the general public. Along with their services, they have also established The Mrs. Linda M. Everett Arts Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund awards monies to those who desire to obtain a degree in the Fine Arts, as Autumn’s mother was an avid proponent for the arts as a dance instructor and sound engineer. They also look to help with any arts related activities for children. Having their 501(c)(3) designation is certainly a plus, however funding has been a big challenge. Autumn shares her mother has definitely impacted her life the most. “She instilled an impeccable work ethic in me, to be graceful and authentic at all times and to simply live life on my own terms,” she says. Moving forward, their plan is to continue to get the word out about The Mother & Daughter Experience, its mission and purpose. “We hope to seek out opportunities to share space with other mother and daughter duos to ignite those sacred bonds. We also plan to promote our 2nd Annual Mother/ Daughter Breakfast Affair coming up in June 2020. It will be titled ‘Generational Gemstones’. We are actively seeking sponsorship at this time. Additionally, we endeavor to endow the memorial scholarship so that we can begin awarding funds to deserving students,” she says. h
Atlanta - January/February 2020
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