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RICHMOND

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May/June 2019 Vol. 1 Issue 11 FREE

Alexis Epitome Hair Studio Richmond - May/June 2019

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

The Push, The Pull, and The Prize

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

A Letter From from The Editor A Letter the Editor

In your lifetime, there will be moments when you will be A Letterto from the Editor required push. These moments happen when you get What if tomorrow didn’t arrive? that All of plans, hopes behind your purpose, and it appears it your has stalled in dreams wouldn’t havemay a street on.on What if theand middle of the road. You wanttotopark move to the everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never Whatbut if tomorrow didn’t arrive? Alland of your plans, hopes next step, you lack the enthusiasm momentum happened? There would beano reason to save for a rainy and dreams wouldn’t to park What if needed to do so. Duringhave thesestreet moments youon. have to muster day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making that you decided to put off until tomorrow never up everything the strength, lower your shoulders, breathe, and push! promises. What your last happened? Thereif would be opportunity no reason toseemingly save for aexpired rainy You must push those things which appears to have died. today? What would you do? day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making However, you can’t let it die because of the significance promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired it has in your future.that YouI often must push the things which has I’ve been today? Whattold would you do? seem like I do too much. carried you but is now out of gas. You have to push Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m athat firmof which others be like valueless, into believer in have knowing that God to wouldn’t put on me I’ve been tolddetermined that I often seem I do anything tooback much. brilliance. You must also push yourself into a position of that I couldn’t sometimes wonderand how would Honestly, I feelhandle. like I amI not doing enough I’mlife a firm effectiveness in order to meet the needs of others who be if I chose to sit idle and accept whatput it presented believer in knowing that God wouldn’t anything to onme. me I depend on you to survive. haveI found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity that couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonder how life would is aifblessing that to what everyone. A challenge be I chose to sitisn’t idle afforded and accept it presented to me. I When you too ahead of yourself, you realize to mefound is anget adventure. What is the worst thatmay can opportunity happen? have that to far be very boring. In my opinion, that have left It might have gotten If you nothing, fail, ifbehind. I try to I don’t, but instead learn is aI do blessing thatIsomeone isn’tand afforded everyone. A challenge lostto in the confusion, but now you realize that you need something new about myself. yourcan pride and in me is an adventure. What is Relinquish the worst that happen? them. You must reach behind andI don’t, pull them to where you return acquire life. If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try but instead learn are.something Without them, you may not be able to reach the next new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in The advice everprepared given to me when someone phase of best which God for happened you, and for them as return acquire life.has told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so well. I have pressed myever way given through doors with a key thatsomeone only The best advice to me happened when hope provided. I have also learned the difference between told meittoormake tomorrow doing Believe not, my there is a prizehappen waitingtoday. for youInat the so blesses me canathat burden with have pressed my waywith through doorslife with key that only endIwhat yourGod journey. After all ofand thewhat excitement life me as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and hopefades provided. havethe alsomusic learned theand difference between brings, away,I and stops the winds calm, when to be quiet, because what God blesses me with and what life can burden me a prize awaits to be redeemed by you. The irony of it all with someone may get itwell confused as well. I compare it to knowing when topromised be confident and is your reward was uniquely prepared and with being arrogant. when to be quiet, because before your first steps were planted on the road of life. God someone get it confused promises to givemay each and every Make you tomorrow with being arrogant. one of us His very best. That today, is howhappen much he lovesbut us. most Your importantly make count. Make decisions, bothyou thetomorrow gooditones Life is but a whisper and happen today, but most and bad ones, will play a role as we must putmake ourselves in a importantly it count. to when and how the moment position what it is Life is buttoa hear whisper and will happen. telling us.put ourselves in a we must position to hear what it is In the meantime, you must telling us. push your way through, pull that Terry L. Watson which has fallen behind, and press on to Editor/Founder redeem your prize Terry L. Watson that God promises.

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Richmond - May/June 2019

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CONTENTS

MAY/JUNE 2019

RICHMOND

The Making Of A Soldier

Adriene Odom

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On The Cover

Alexis Saunders Epitome Hair Studio

Ambrosia Food For Thought

Kenda Sutton-EL

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Life Seeds Coaching

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Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

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DeAnna Morris

D’Naria McDowell

Also Featured

James Harris Learn how his movement is helping to erase the issues of African American mental and physical health.

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Jiyah Fennell This young author and member of Fennell Adverntures has a bright future. From Wilmington, DE

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Richmond - May/June 2019

Rafaela Thomas Learn how CaraBeautiful is changing the way African American’s defy aging. From Greensboro, NC

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HAIR STUDIO By Laci Ollison Photos by Photography by Lechele

Nestled in the heart of downtown Richmond sits a hair salon that is the personification of its name. Epitome Hair Studio has garnered a reputation as a safe space for girls and women to receive services that will enhance their natural beauty and improve the health of their hair. Alexis Saunders opened the salon during a time when she desperately needed a flexible schedule. “I have three children: a set of twins, and one son who is autistic. It was hard to work and still be able to care for my son because my husband and I didn’t really have any support.” The mother of three knew that she had to find a job that would allow her to maintain a flexible schedule while earning a sustainable income. “I knew that I always had a knack for hair,” said Alexis. “When my husband and I moved back to Richmond that’s when I decided to open up my own salon.” In the seven years since she began her cosmetology career, Alexis has managed to build a thriving business that has not only impacted the life of her clients, but her community as well. “I try to think of my salon as being more than a salon,” the owner said. “I try to find ways that I can partner with others in the African American community. I’m always looking for ways to pay it forward.”

Continued on the next page

Epitome Hair Studio Stylists Alexis Saunders and Lindsay Poole 7


Lindsay Poole is a lead stylist at Epitome Hair salon, working alongside owner Alexis Saunders. Originally from Richmond, Lindsay had always wanted to be a hairstylist, even as a child. “I always paid attention to someone’s hair as long as I can remember,” said Lindsay. “My parents love to tell people how all of my dolls would have different hairstyles.” Although she has been a licensed professional for eight years, she has been doing hair since middle school. Her dreams of being an entrepreneur started early as well. “I never liked how the corporate world could put a limit on what I earned. I never believed in someone else’s dream.” She recently launched her own line of extensions, custom wigs, and lashes. “I want to add more services to my business. I want to be a one stop shop,” Lindsay said. “I’m working on adding make up services as well as skin services to my business.”

The hairstylist also aspires to mentor young girls in the Richmond community, and hopes to encourage others to follow their dreams, no matter what they may be. “If I could change one thing about my journey, I would’ve gone straight to cosmetology school after high school, said Lindsay. “I went to a traditional college listening to everyone else’s plans for my life but my own.” Although entrepreneurship wasn’t an easy journey, Lindsay was able to learn valuable lessons along the way. The hardest part of her journey was remembering to remain true to herself. “I had to learn to listen to myself and what Lindsay wanted. Now that I am true to myself and what I want, I am very optimistic about my journey.” Today, she is able to enjoy the business and life she has built for herself. “My absolute favorite part about being in the beauty industry is making women feel good about themselves,” she said. “I love how us women get that different strut in our walk when we know our hair is on point.” In regards to being an entrepreneur, she tells others, “Rome wasn’t built in a day. Stay consistent, stay hungry, and most importantly have faith.” Continued on page 11

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Continued from page 8 Epitome Hair Studio is committed to developing strategic partnerships with other businesses in the community, and routinely feeds the homeless citizens in the Richmond area. “As a whole, we don’t support others as often as we should,” said Alexis. “I want people to support me, of course, but I also love to see other people grow. I try to help others in any way that I can.” That includes those who enter the doors of Epitome Salon. Alexis said that her clients are her biggest motivation. “It gives me a natural high and extreme happiness to see my clients faces. Some may not seem as confident when they come in but their reaction after they’ve gotten their hair done is priceless. “ Alexis said that she takes pride in enhancing her client’s natural beauty. For her, seeing the confidence of a woman leaving her salon has been one of the reasons she hasn’t given up on her business. But she also draws her strength from someone who was very dear to her. “My grandmother, Gladys Rodgers, was and still is extremely instrumental in my life.,“ she said.

Although Alexis’s grandmother passed away in November of 2018, she still finds herself attempting to make her grandmother proud exceed her expectations. Alexis also has fond memories of her great-grandmother Dolores Miller, who was also a hairstylist. “When I was younger, I used to ride the bus in the summer and spend all day in the salon with [my greatgrandmother],” said Alexis. “I guess you could say becoming a stylist was in my DNA.” Just as a love for cosmetology was passed down to Alexis, the mother of three hopes to pass down a legacy of entrepreneurship to her own children. “It’s extremely important for me to instill entrepreneurship in my children. There’s no gratification like having your own and working for yourself,” she said. She also encourages others to pursue their dreams, no matter what. “The best advice I can give anyone is to never give up. What you put into something, is what you’re going to get out of it. Map out your overall goal and take baby steps towards it. If you have a vision you must create an action plan and believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself then no one else will,” she shared. h

HAIR STUDIO

213 E. Grace Street - Ste. 100 - Richmond, Virginia 23219 - 804-442-8611

www.epitomehairstudio.com

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Adriene Odom The Making Of A Soldier


By Terry L. Watson Photos by Smart Shot Photography

T

here is one word that can effectively describe who Adriene Odom is; survivor. Even more, she is a mother, author, and soldier. With all of these attributes, God has made her perfect and unique.

Adriene, who is originally from Yanceyville, North Carolina but, migrated along with her family to Virginia when she was about nine or ten years of age. For the most part, Virginia is home for her, but the path and roads traveled along her journey in life far exceeds the common wealth state. “Becoming an author was something I never imagined for myself. The way I told my story bought me so much more strength and empowered me.,” she says. In 2017, the aspiring author made the decision to share a sincere and precious part of her life in the pages of her book, The Making Of A Soldier. “This is my story of surviving so many obstacles which are similar to those that women have to face daily,” she shares. Adriene says she had to rely solely on her faith in God to carry her from a state of brokenness as a teenage mother and single mother, to becoming a soldier in the United States Army, and now disabled veteran. As a soldier, she did one tour to duty in Afghanistan during which time she began to realize who she was and her purpose for life. “I was put here on earth to become a soldier, not just in the Army but, for women and men who are too afraid to speak out for themselves. In my book I expose my darkest and most intimate secrets so that others would be inspired to tell their stories and be set free, no longer having to live in bondage,” she shares. Adriene’s story opens the doors of her life to the its readers, and what lies behind them are pages of pain and triumph, as well as determination and self acceptance.

Continued on the next page

“I was put here on earth to become a soldier, not just in the Army but, for women and men who are too afraid to speak out for themselves.”


“In my lifetime, I’ve faced homelessness, domestic abuse, rape, and divorce. My testimony is my story.”

“In my lifetime, I’ve faced homelessness, domestic abuse, rape, and divorce. My testimony is my story. The story of a teenage mother having her first child at 15 and then her second at 19. It is a story of becoming a high school drop out, and later joining the US Army, and eventually becoming a disabled veteran. It’s a story of me becoming an author, entrepreneur, and founder of Joshua’s Place, a nonprofit that helps to house, and advocate for homeless veterans,” she shares. Adriene finds inspiration in being a mother to her four sons Gabriel (26), Joshua (21), Kaleb (12), and Aldarius (5). Though now divorced, that experience alone caused a great deal of hurt and pain. “It was almost like grieving for my husband, except he wasn’t dead. The hurt that he caused me has given me the strength I needed to continue to be what others needed from me to survive,” she says. “I guess in so many ways it intensified my hunger and passion to continue to help others.” Throughout her book, Adriene shares similiar experiences, all of which lead to where she is today. And that is a winner. Moving forward Adriene plans to continue to share her story through motivational speaking with the hopes of inspiring others to tell their stories. To purchase a copy of her book, The Making of A Soldier, please visit her website. h

To learn more about Adriene Odom, and to purchase a copy of The Making Of A Soldier, please visit www.themakingofasolndier.org

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DeAnna Morris

By Dawn Cauthen Thornton Photos by Photography by Lechele

In life, we don’t always get to choose our paths. Many believe that our steps are ordered, by our creator, before we even travel through the birth canal that delivers us. Some will arrive at their destinations sooner than others and some will get derailed and turned around, get lost even. But make no mistake, your experiences throughout your journey will shape you into the person you were meant to be. And if you know DeAnna Morris, you know she has had one heck of a journey to arrive where she is today. Growing up, DeAnna thoroughly enjoyed helping people and always knew that was her passion. She had no idea in what capacity she would do this, but understood this was her calling. At age 13, DeAnna was diagnosed with leukemia (a form of cancer) and needed a bone marrow transplant. The experience was so traumatic that being self-encouraging and pushing herself through the treatments made all the difference. “I had to keep telling myself I could do it. I can make it through this.” And she did. She made it through the treatments, was cured of cancer and was ready to encourage others with their struggles. At 14, she was asked to speak to a high school health class about her experience as a cancer patient and survivor. When the speech was over, the students showed their appreciation and had so many questions that the nervous teen knew she had made an impact. That day was the catalyst to her motivational speaking career.

Continued on the next page


Since she grew up in the church, motivating others wasn’t far-fetched at her young age. By her early 20’s, DeAnna was preaching, evangelizing, and serving in many other capacities. A few years later, she started a non-profit organization, where she provided resources to those facing depression and other mental battles just as she had previously. “People don’t know that there are so many resources for them. If I couldn’t help the person, I always found someone who could.”

“ I had to keep telling myself I could do it. I can make it through this.” 18

The year 2007 would prove to be a difficult one for DeAnna. She was ending her first marriage, preparing for a cornea transplant, and decided to pick up and move to Richmond, VA – a town she barely had a connection to. It was an unorthodox decision, but it was necessary, to carry out God’s vision. In the years following her relocation, God’s plan manifested into creating her coaching firm, marrying the love of her life, Mercell Morris, and cultivating their joint venture, The Ministries Church. DeAnna and Mercell, also a pastor, married in 2009, two years prior to her


receiving her pastoral ordination in 2011. Now they’re partners in life and in Christ. In fact, as a married woman of the cloth, DeAnna takes pride in the role she plays in her husband’s life, but also honors the meaningful position she holds as a leader and mentor in the community. To support her beliefs and coaching methods, she published “My Husband’s Rib” in 2013 and “S.Q.U.A.D. Leadership Coaching Manual” in 2016. She is currently working on her third self-help book, due out next year. Her biggest endeavor to date, however, is Life Seeds Coaching & Developing Firm. It incorporates DeAnna’s pastoring with her life coaching to elevate and expand her clients’ lives for the better. In addition to life coaching, she’s a certified behavioral coach, a certified marital coach, and a prayer coach with more than 20 years of coaching and mentoring experience. Naturally, her primary target is women and uplifting them, allowing them to ascend to where they want to be. “I don’t want to inspire people, I want to have an impact on them,” DeAnna explains. The latter of the two is more meaningful to her, in that she feels it has more of a lasting impression. Under the Life Seeds umbrella, DeAnna has spearheaded a support group named S.I.P. (Sisters in Partnership) that was created as a safe space for women to talk openly and be vulnerable without being judged. She teaches that it is an injustice to one’s self to not recognize personal growth and live in cycle behaviors without expecting or desiring change. She also lives by those words. The cancer survivor has created a safe space for countless people and fortunately her family continues to be hers. “My family is very close with each other. I’m the oldest of five children, and the only girl,” says DeAnna. When she suffered a heart attack in 2017, it was discovered that she had kidney cancer, as she recovered in the hospital. Ten days later, one of her four brothers unexpectedly passed away. As devastating as it was, her family held each other up and supported her through more treatments. In the fall of 2018, DeAnna triumphed over triple bypass surgery. Once again, her family, especially her husband, was with her every step of the way. DeAnna has dedicated the better part of her life proving the depths of her conviction by helping others feel whole, mentally. She continues to walk by faith in everything she does and attributes her success to God, the trials she has faced, and her nurturing family. Her parents, brothers, and husband have been her biggest fans throughout her journey of finding a place to plant her feet. h

DeAnna Morris Life Seeds Coaching & Developing Firm P.O. Box 5082 Midlothian, VA 23112 804-464-7815 www.lifeseedscdf.com 19


Kenda

Sutton-EL Ambrosia Food For Thought


Information and Photos Provided by Kedra Sutton

Kenda Sutton-EL of Richmond, VA wears many hats. She attended Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, and New River Community College. She is a Holistic Nutritionist, Student Midwife, Reproductive Justice and Maternal Health Advocate, Iridologist, Birthworker, Vaginal Steam Practitioner, Reiki Master, Reflexogy, and Master Herbalist. She is also a passionate advocate of healthy foods, maternal mortality, reproductive justice, alternative medicine, and nutrition education. Kenda believes that health starts on the dinner plate. She uses herbs, diet, and lifestyle shifts to mitigate and reverse health conditions, and focuses on addressing her clients’ metabolic individuality as a key factor in her functional nutrition protocols and health coaching. As a Holistic Vegan Nutritionist and Lifestyle Coach, she specializes in hormone healing. “That’s what it all comes down to. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I recognize there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet or magic bullet which is going to cure all illnesses. I focus on having a thorough understanding of your personal goals, needs, likes and dislikes, support networks, and lifestyle so that I am able to create a food and lifestyle approach that suits you. If your hormones are out of balance, chances are you will not be looking, and feeling, or performing at your best,” she shares. Prior to launching her private practice as a holistic herbalist and nutritionist, Kenda spent years as an Executive Director of a skilled nursing facility, working with individuals with developmental disabilities. She says this experience greatly improved her communication skills, compassion, flexibility, and understanding of the specific needs of others. Kenda also became passionate about birthwork while working with her late great-grandmother who was a Granny Midwife. Kenda interest in nutrition came while she was trying to heal herself. “I took a nutrition class and was amazed at how little I knew. It wasn’t until a few years later when I began to seek out alternative medicine, than my obsession with the idea that “food is my fuel” started. It was during these long workouts with my husband that I experimented with food to help fend off hallucinations (from sleep deprivation), prevent muscle cramps, and more importantly, avoid bonking. I learned what worked and what didn’t work. What foods kept my muscle glycogen topped off, and what foods repaired my body. Regardless of how big or small, it taught me that my body requires proper fueling for optimal performance and recovery,” she said.

Kenda says one of her professional goals is to create individualized, custom nutrition programs for her clients. “I enjoy teaching clients about the benefits of eating whole foods while learning about their specific needs. I do this without judgment. I do not believe in quick fixes or unrealistic diets. Nutrition programs are a lifestyle change and I understand it can be an overwhelming concept at first. I believe in setting realistic goals, making a commitment to those goals, and working together to accomplish the goals with patience, compassion, and encouragement. Change takes time,” she says. h

www. ambrosiafoodforthought.com 804-316-9867 21


Kevin T hornton Author and Life Coach


By Terry L. Watson Photos by Kevin Thornton Kevin Thornton is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. There he obtained a BS in Health Administration. He also has a Master’s in Organizational Psychology from Argosy University. Additionally he is a life coach, holistic health coach, author, indoor cycling instructor and internet radio personality, and someone who understands his life purpose; To inspire, educate and empower others to create the healthiest versions of themselves mind, body and spirit. Kevin uses his platforms to change the narrative of how society and the media portray black men. “I want the world to know there are more men like me than what they see and hear on TV and radio,” he shared. Kevin is the brains behind 1 on 1 Health Coaching (which offers 60 minute session of 1 on 1 coaching), 1 on 1 Life Coaching and Group Coaching. He also produces meal plans based on the assessment he conducts. He also offers (7, 14 and 30 day) Detox. “Detoxing is a way to cleanse the body of toxins while allowing the body a chance to heal. Seven day detoxing is for someone looking to cleanse while lose a couple pounds. The 14 and 30 day detoxing is for people with medical conditions looking to create a change in their health. I also offers Juice Plus, vegan capsules with fruits, veggie and berries. These capsule should be taken daily as a supplement, and this product with help you reach the goal along with eating a healthy diet,” he said. Kevin began life coaching in 2013 after he was coached by Iylanla Vanzant and her team in 2011. During that process, he realized his life’s purpose and the need for mens coaching. “I believe the best life coaches are people who have been coached themselves. They are able to understand the process,” he shared. He became a health coach in 2015 after graduating from Integrated Institute of Nutrition. He was already a fitness instructor and I wanted to incorporate the holistic health coaching into his program. He began detoxing as soon as he graduated from school, knowing that most people tend to have between five and 30 pounds of feces in their systems, and because he . Once his system was aligned, he started offering the product from Juice Plus. Kevin says he is inspired mostly by his father Sam Thornton. “He played a big part in my journey in holistic health and personal development. Growing up, he has always been into holistic living so he planted the seed in me. Seeing him at 77 years old and in great health without taking any medication motivates me daily to be my best self, and help others be their best self,” he says. Kevin credits Iylanla Vanzant with giving him clarity of his purpose and teaching him how to be the vessel to help black men and all people become their best self. h

“I want the world to know there are more men like me than what they see and hear on TV and radio.” If you are interested in purchasing a book, please use the PayPal link below

paypal.me/kev211 23


James Harris Men To Heal By Terry L Watson Photos by Max Williams Photography

James Harris received a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and started a movement getting men back focused on their overall health, mental and physical. “Men To Heal is a movement coordinated by me with the purpose of raising awareness about the mental and physical issues that men experience, and their lack of knowledge on how to receive services and assistance for them. I conduct quarterly forums in the Richmond community, addressing varies topics in mental health that men usual avoid discussing,” he said. James also conducts speaking engagements and workshops to end the long stigma of men not receiving services. James started the movement in his second year of Graduate school. It has now gained the attention of other states, mental health professionals and community liaisons. James has also conducted forums via Skype for a few other countries. The movement has also been propagated all over Richmond with the assistance of T-shirts that have been purchased and worn by local citizens, celebrities, and athletes. James says he has been fortunate that other states and a few other countries including Afghanistan, Germany and Spain are seeking services surrounding this movement. Everyone has their own personal reason for having an interest in the Men To Heal movement, and for supporting it. One would be that James is a local African American male therapist (which is rare in the Richmond community). Another is because most men are reluctant to seek treatment for health, especially mental health. “I want people to get away from Hollywood therapy. Not every therapy or counseling sessions involve someone sitting on a couch and talking to a counselor. That is a form of therapy but not one that I feel that our community needs, and not just what the media would like for you to believe,” he shares. Based on the dynamics of the African American community, men have been taught to keep things to themselves, and not talk about them. Religion has taught them to pray it away. Unfortunately, James says there has to be an outlet offered to men that gives them a chance to express their feelings and still be masculine. James emphasizes that his cause is not just about address the mental issues, the physical ones as well. Recently I met a man who had not a physical from a doctor in two years,” he said. “Most men think that it couldn’t happen to them, or they will not get prostate cancer and other illnesses. That is one of the stigmas that I want to break because the truth is it can happen to any male.” That is why the t-shirts are so effective in James’ cause. They are often used as an opening to get the interest of men, and to get the dialogued started. James is looking to partner with other organizations and individuals who are interested in getting the word out and spread the message of the Men To Heal movement. To get involved, please contact James directly. h

Follow Men To Heal on Instagram: @men_to_heal 24


Jiyah

Fennell 26

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Richmond - May/June 2019


By Terry L. Watson Photos by Antony Brown Photography Wimington, Delaware native Jiyah Fennell is a 15 year old author, entrepreneur, professional face painter, speaker, traveler, podcaster, and star of her family’s very own cartoon. She is also very outgoing and is somewhat an overachiever. “I don’t look at obstacles in my life as challenges. God puts those things there for a reason, so you can get where you need to be at the right time,” she says. One of the books she has written, Journey Through Atlanta with Jiyah (that is also a part of the Choose Your Fennell Journey series) consist of places to go and things to do in Atlanta, Georgia and includes a guide in the back of the book. Her other book, Princess Jiyah’s Face Painting teaches character traits to children of all ages, and shows full faces that she has painted. According to Jiyah, the best thing she has ever read is the Choose your Fennell Journey series. The series is unique, true, and authored by kids. “It’s amazing having a family of authors. We’re all supportive of each other and help out as much as we can,” she shares. Jiyah began writing about two years ago. Then she was awarded the citizenship award at her 7th grade graduation. That’s when I had the idea to teach every kid how to achieve a great character by learning positive traits. “I love inspiring people of all ages by helping them believe they can do anything. It doesn’t matter what your age is, go do it! It can be done. I began painting at the age of nine,” she says. If she could change the world, she would do it by helping as many people as she could, and in anyway possible. “I want to make sure people grasp the concept of believing and achieving,” she says. “The best advice I can give someone is to put your faith in God and He will guide you in the right direction. It doesn’t matter what it is, God will work it out. My life is proof. This is one of the reasons I began writing my books, so that I could thank Him. When she is not writing or doing one of the many other things she is good at, Jiyah enjoys her time being a kid. She is inspired mostly by her mom and Ariana Grande. “My mom supports me in all I do, and I would love to meet Ariana someday,” she says. Still a little unsure of what she would like to be when she becomes an adult, she has a peaking interest in psychology or being an audiologist. The Fenell Family Adventures book club offers a family membership, the Be Anything Club, for families. Members get amazing perks including a free coloring book, publishing discounts, books mailed, travel discounts and more. Please subscribe to their YouTube channel ‘Fennell Adventures’ to see the launch of their full cartoon in May. h

Please visit their website to learn more about Fennell Adventures

www.fennelladventures.com

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HuamiMagazine.com

Richmond - May/June 2019


CaraBeautiful RafaelaThomas

By Yasmine Regester Photos by JLG Photography

Rafaela Thomas said her father always told her that education could take her anywhere she wanted to go. And he was right. Her education helped her travel the world, become a high ranking officer in the Army, a licensed Family Nurse Practitioner and the owner of her own business, CaraBeautiful, a cosmetic dermatology salon in Greensboro. Born in Panama, Thomas recalls her family moved to Brooklyn, New York when she was 10 years old and they didn’t speak any English. The seventh of eight children, she noted that her parents stressed the importance of education and the need for them to learn the language. “I come from parents with third and fourth grade educations, but they instilled in us that it was necessary to get an education. We all graduated from high school, and went on to be successful in our career paths. So when you come from such a strong family unit, it inspires you to strive for more,” said Thomas. She first established her business in 2016, and in February 2019 she was ready to move CaraBeautiful into Sola Salon, Suite 110 in the Friendly Shopping Center on Pembroke Road. “Coming here from another country, I learned that the world has so much to offer. All you have to do is strive hard and do the best you can. My father always said, ‘No matter what you end up doing in life, you do the best you can and you be the best at it.’ So that is how I’ve always lived my life,” said Thomas. Thomas graduated from the High School of Fashion Industries in NYC, and joined the Navy in 1978, and worked as a dental hygienist and assistant. She explained how she noticed that a simple procedure, like applying braces, changed a person’s whole outlook about themselves. “For me, teeth and smiles and faces have always been a part of medicine that I enjoyed. Seeing the smile on a patient’s face in reaction to the change they saw would make me so happy. I knew back then that I wanted to work with faces,” she said. Instead of pursing dentistry, Thomas said her sister convinced her to attend school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in 1992. She enjoyed it so much, that she went on to become a Registered Nurse (RN) in 1994 with an associate degree from Miami Dade Community College. She continued with her education and received her Bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1996 from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She also holds a dual Master’s degree in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is accredited through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). She became a Nurse Practitioner in 2004 and has been a long standing member of The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. At 59 years of age, Thomas is dubbing this next journey her ‘second chapter in life.’

Continued on the next page

“I come from parents with third and fourth grade educations, but they instilled in us that it was necessary to get an education. We all graduated from high school, and went on to be successful in our career paths.” 29


“I’m calling this chapter two of my life. As I’m about to turn 60 years old, there’s nothing like being able to make people feel good with what you’re doing. I’ve spent my medical career treating inner health, everything that makes you feel good on the inside – but now I want to help people feel good about their outside.” The name CaraBeautiful loosely translates to “beautiful face” in English, a nod to Thomas being bilingual. “In Spanish ‘cara’ means face and ‘beautiful,’well, it speaks for itself,” she said with a smile. At CaraBeautiful, Thomas provides Botox and dermal fillers. Each product requires a different procedure that is placed in different areas of the face, and both are temporary results. Thomas ensures she provides detailed information to each client about the procedures and what to expect. “It is very important that you are truthful of your medical history, as this is a medical procedure,” she added.

Pictured above: Frown Lines & Nasolabial Folds injections

“It’s important for me that I spend time educating the client when they come to see me. I like to explain the products, the techniques, and help them understand that everyone’s results will be different. And it’s important to me that they leave here satisfied. That they’ve received the best care they can have,” she said. CaraBeautiful also offers free consultations. Thomas takes appointments and walk-ins in her salon daily, from 9am – 7pm, and even makes house calls to accommodate her clients busy schedules. She also welcomes groups or individuals for a session. During her more than 18 years in the medical field, she has worked in emergency rooms, health clinics, and traveled to Arizona and California to help provide medical services to low income communities as a nurse practitioner. Her 27-year military career allowed her to take residence in Spain, Europe, Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina, where she worked at the naval hospital for seven years in Jacksonville. She now ranks as a Major in the US Army, and plans to retire soon. As a Reservist, she spends two weeks a year on active duty, and one weekend a month for training. Major Thomas was also called to duty during the Irag war.

Pictured above: Nasolabial Folds & Foredead Creases

When she is living as a civilian, she works as a nurse practitioner in preventative medicine, but is working on transitioning CaraBeautiful into her full-time passion, which is helping people, particularly women, feel good about themselves. “I always advise women to invest in themselves. We can have a closet full of shoes and clothes, some of it we’ve only worn once, and then we throw it away. But we wear our faces every day. You don’t put that in the closet. That’s the difference in how we invest in ourselves,” said Thomas who shared that even she gets filler injections. “It’s not just a matter of giving it out either,” said Thomas. “I’ve decided how I want to look. And I have no problem with that.” Thomas sees a range of women in her practice, from 25 years of age, all the way to 75 years old. It all ranges based on a person’s needs. “As we age, we’re going to have changes. We lose volume in our face. We start to see lines and wrinkles form. We see the change in our faces and now we realize we can do something about it. I tell women all the time it’s not about looking younger, but to give a smoother, softer appearance. That’s what I intend to give them,” she said. While about 75 percent of her clientele has been women, Thomas noted that she is slowly starting to encounter more male clients who are interested in facial treatments.

Pictured above: Injections for Crows Feet 30

HuamiMagazine.com

Richmond - May/June 2019

“It all comes down to education on the topic. People aren’t sure they can have that. Or they think that it’s not acceptable. Or they are worried about what other people will think. But there is a


solution. Just like there is medicine for high blood pressure or diabetes, there’s a solution. And I want women to know that we don’t have to feel guilty about it,” Rafeala stated. A woman of faith, Thomas shares how she woke up one morning and felt the spirit of God telling her to go pursue her dreams. “Faith is the basis of everything I do and the direction that I’m going with CaraBeautiful.” In order to be a practicing aesthetician in North Carolina, one must be a medical professional and licensed by the state. She has attended multiple training courses and received certifications in Aesthetics in Botox and Dermal Fillers from Empire Medical Training and Aesthetic Medical Educators Training (AMET). These instructions assist her with keeping up with the latest techniques and products. She first started working with family and friends and said social media has been her biggest driver for new clients. Thomas also contracts with salons and med spas who don’t offer Botox and dermal filler services. She said in the next few years she sees her business growing with a larger space, employees, and more availability for clients. In addition to her career accomplishments, she is especially proud of her two daughters, Odessa Hancock, a small business owner, Lloyda Thomas, a teacher in Florida, and her granddaughter, Leslie Thomas. Her daughter, Odessa, designs the CaraBeautiful brochures and monitors the business web presence, under her company, Uprising, a digital marketing and consulting firm in the area. Thomas shared, “It’s important to me that we have this family unit. We are working together. I have a lot of strong family support, near and far and I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without them. We don’t have to stop because there are always goals to achieve.” Thomas is a member the American Business Women Association of Forsyth County, the American Med Spa Association, a lifetime member of the Montford Point Marine Association and frequently attends Word of Faith Christian Fellowship in McLeansville, N.C. “My greatest accomplishments have been serving this country, reaching the rank of a Major Medical Officer, being a nurse practitioner and finding my greatest passion in life, which is CaraBeautiful. Coming to CaraBeautiful is not work. It’s a passion to do what I do and I love it” said Thomas. h

CaraBeautiful Offers: Dermal Fillers Botox Injections Our focus areas:

Forehead Creases Marionette Lines (Smile Lines) Crow’s Feet & Nasolabial Folds Glabellar Lines (Frown Lines) Lip Fillers

Rafeala Thomas

Sola Salon Studios 704-A Pembroke Road Greensboro, North Carolina 27408 (910) 554-6856 www.carabeautiful.com Free Consultations - In Home Visits Richmond - May/June 2019

HuamiMagazine.com 31


Kendra Diggs is a Greensboro native and author. Her book, His Masterpiece, was inspired by her very own life experiences. She is a domestic violence survivor and though she admits it can be frightening to tell share her stories, she understands they must be told. What makes her book unique is its rawness, uncut, and honest description of resilience and courage. “I’m the voice of many women who are silent and are afraid to share their scars of domestic violence, and losing their identity and abandonment. I just want to help people, especially women who have dealt with this, and maybe I can help save a life. I pray that people are inspired and blessed by this book and God is glorified,” she shares. Kendra has started a movement called (#lovedoesnothurt) and has partnered with the Sherri Denese Jackson Foundation in Greensboro, North Carolina to help bring awareness of domestic violence in North Carolina and beyond.

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Kendra Diggs HIS MASTERPIECE

Book Release Party - June 29, 2019

Information Provided By Kendra Diggs Photos by Luguzy Atkins

Exerpt from His Masterpiece

“How dare you compare me to him?” He screamed. We started to fight in the bathroom and his nail dug deep in my chest as he threw me in the shower. I got up with tears in my eyes and I tasted blood. “ I’m sorry. Please stop!” I pleaded. We were fighting until we got into our bedroom. “I’m my brother, you said?” He sneered and proceeded to throw me into the wall, which left a huge hole. I fell. He kicked me in my shins. “Please stop! I’m sorry, Please forgive me.” I cried as my body laid weak on the floor. He stopped and looked at me with disgust. He gathered his things and left. I just laid there and cried. My shoulder was throbbing. I can’t believe someone I loved would treat me this way. I must’ve deserved it. Tears started to roll down my face but I cleaned them up quickly. When I arrived at Panera Bread I sat down at the table and waited for my client. When she walked in, I put on my fake smile. We sat and talked for an hour. My shoulder and my legs were on fire. After the meeting, I sat there for another hour or so. I was just quiet. My ears started to ring again. I stared out into blank space. Tears flowing from my eyes. Maybe I should kill myself. This will get me out of my misery. With my eyes blurry from my tears, I looked outside, it was night time. I got up and walked back home.”

“My ears were still ringing, I was still in a daze as he held me. As he was talking, I still couldn’t hear the words but I saw his mouth move, I heard a voice say, “Take his life and take yours. You won’t have to deal with him or yourself anymore. Why go through this? Do it.” Then the voice left me. That voice shook me to the core. I looked into his eyes blankly. I saw this man who I thought was supposed to love, protect, and be there for me turn into a nightmare but I could forgive him again right? I breathed in and exhaled, “I forgive you and I love you, too.” He stood up, hugged me, and kissed me. He laid me back down and started to rub my shoulder. Then he laid down beside me. “We are going to be okay.” He reassured me. I nodded my head. “I know.” It was quiet for the rest of the evening. When he fell asleep, I got up and looked out the window. Our window sill had an alarm on it. It was 2am. I walked in the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked at my face, with heavy bags under my eyes, the scar from my chest, and my bruised up shoulder. I didn’t see myself. I didn’t see beauty. I didn’t see virtue. I saw a failure. I sat on the bathroom mat and I grabbed my head. I began to wail and cry. “There has to be more than life than this.” I said to myself. “I want to be free.”

To order your copy of His Masterpiece, please visit: www.thekweenexperience.com

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Cutest Baby

D’Naria DaKari Howell The daughter of Akilah Parms and Devarus Denard Howell

To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to huami.cutestbaby@gmail.com


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Richmond - May/June 2019

Profile for Terry Watson

Huami Magazine Richmond May/June 2019  

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Huami Magazine Richmond May/June 2019  

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