Huami Magazine Indianapolis Sept./Oct. 2022

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INDIANAPOLIS

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Sept./Oct. 2022 Volume 1 Issue 12

Victoria The Pink Tub, LLC Indianapolis - Sept./Oct. 2022

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God’s Plan Is Greater Than Me A Letter From The Editor

With every ordeal or trying circumstance, there will always be more than one way to handle them. We can face them head-on, or we can turn away and avoid any form of an altercation. No matter what decision is made concerning the matter, the impact or effect of what we chose will most likely be waiting on the other side of our decision. That’s why I believe it’s vital to share our thoughts with God beforehand and confirm His viewpoint because God’s plan is greater than anything I can decide for myself. Like most people, the thrill of victory is generally the reason why I compete or fight. Also, if you are anything like me, I understand that you may hate to lose, regardless of what is at stake. Yet, I am learning that I must do a better job choosing my battles because, for the most part, every battle is not mine to fight. God desires to fight for me, and He expects me to let go and allow Him to do His thing. I’ve learned that the car drives better when He controls the wheel. I recently celebrated my birthday, and to be honest; I celebrated for the entire month. That was my choice because I love birthdays. I also used that time to reflect on where I am in life and where I’ve come from. I wanted to know what I am currently doing to get to where I ultimately want to be. What was revealed is my interests and efforts were possibly pointed in the wrong direction. I learned that while I am blessed, God is more concerned about those individuals He can reach beyond me, and when I don’t allow God to use me, He isn’t able to reach them through me. Being vulnerable and a cooperative vessel are attributes of real greatness; that’s what God spoke to me. Living my life as a Christian and believer in God means that I must trust God. Even during the most difficult moments, if I just show up for the fight and trust God while I am fighting, I will then see Him move on my behalf. The things that I may be dealing with and determined to be unbearable may actually amount to nothing once it’s placed in God’s hand. How will I ever know if I don’t allow God to lead me? God has a plan and purpose for all of us, and His plan is far greater than anything we can imagine or think. I get excited when I think about everything God has prepared for me. His is greater, and all I have to do is trust His process and believe what He tells me.

Terry L. Watson 4

www.huamimagazine.com Terry L. Watson

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Dorjae’ McClammey Ellen Richardson Terry Watson Monica Montgomery

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CONTENTS

SEPT./OCT. 2022

INDIANAPOLIS

Robyn C. Hill Counseling

Robyn C. Hill

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On The Cover

The Pink Tub LLC

Victoria Thomas-Bodie

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Tolbert Consulting Group

Julius Tolbert

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Loc’d By Nature LLC

Bridget Speller

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Laney Williamson

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Also Featured

Kara White Learn more about this serial entrepreneur. She knows something about dance, finances, and giving back to her community. Phoenix, AZ

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John Odum Meet the face and founder of D2G ScreenShots, and learn more about his journey in business. Memphis, TN

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Arlisa Thomas Learn more about how this professional has used her talents to make the lives of others better. Jackson, MS

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Victoria The Pink Tub, LLC

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by The Pink Tub LLC

From the very beginning of her life, Victoria Elizabeth Thomas-Bodie believes that greatness has been upon her. She is the youngest sibling of nine children and was born with a disability that physician’s assumed would be permanent, but she shares that God had other plans. For the first three years of her young life, Victoria wore a cast on both legs. However, she was walking, running, and dancing by age four. In high school, Victoria says someone told her there were not that many options for a girl like her. Being that her test scores weren’t the greatest and she resided in an impoverished neighborhood, God would step in and show out on her behalf again. Soon she would leave her home of Gary, IN, travel to Houston, TX, and enroll at Alief High School. There, Victoria’s scores would soar. Next she would eventually enroll at Texas Southern University. Later she acquired a certificate in Travel and Tourism and worked in that same industry for over 30 years before earning an Associate Degree in Multimedia Programming & Video from Borough Manhattan Community College. Today, she is only 22 credits away from earning her Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a minor in Corporate Law. Again, but God! Victoria is also the owner of The Pink Tub LLC., an Opulent Organic Handmade Body & Bath Brand. Their products cater to all Cancer patients and survivors and help them to restore, replenish and rejuvenate their skin back to its original glow and state of health. Victoria says she was inspired to start her business after realizing there was a lack of soaps and lotions focused on caring for someone’s skin below the surface. “I had tried many products, and they were either drying my skin or clogging my pores. I wanted a soap, lotion, and body oil to hydrate, moisturize, replenish and rejuvenate my skin with a glow. In 2012, while on a trip in Arizona with my late husband, Kevin, I decided to use my income tax return to launch my business, and Delightful Scents & Sweets was born. The rest of my story is history,” she says.

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Victoria would later change the name of her company to The Pink Tub LLC. While things seemed to be going great, with only two years into making soaps, lotions, body wash, and oils, Victoria was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, the most aggressive breast cancer. Her treatment plan would require surgery, but her faith was in God. “Right before surgery, I had got hives from the iodine that was injected into my lymph nodes to see if cancer was present there. They couldn’t operate until my hives were cleared. Normally, it would have taken two weeks or more to clear, but I went home and googled what the best oils, butters, vitamins, and antioxidants to heal skin quickly and effectively were. The 5-5-3 method was born, a patent-protected method that will Restore, Replenish & Rejuvenate your skin back to a healthy form and glow… instantaneously! After my second round of chemotherapy, my skin was restored,” she shares. Though she didn’t know it at the time, Victoria says it was something that happened during her teenage years that sparked her hunger for entrepreneurship. “I wanted a hotel or a Bed and Breakfast of some sort. I knew I didn’t want to work long for anyone,” she says. In 2017, Victoria was cleared of cancer and went into remission. She says she started following God’s lead and has been doing so since her late husband’s death. “Kevin transitioned in February 2018 from a ruptured Brain Aneurysm. His death was unexpected mentally, emotionally, and physically. It could have cost me my life also, but God! I prayed and meditated and got the help I needed to keep me balanced,” she says. In 2018, Victoria relocated back to Gary from the Bronx, where she had been residing for quite some time. Now, she is renewed, refreshed, and mentally stable and has relaunched The Pink Tub. Through all the challenges she has faced, Victoria is still determined to succeed and accomplish every goal she has set for herself. Her advice to others who may face similar challenges that she has is never to give up, no matter what may come your way. “You must learn to pivot because that is a part of your journey, life, and testimony. Write your vision and make it plain. Your vision looks beautiful and easy in your mind; however, it becomes your business model when it’s written out. From your business model, you can write your business plan. Your plan is a living, everchanging document that should always be with you,” she says.

Victoria Thomas-Bodie www.thepinktub.com

317-279-6568

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The Pink Tub celebrated ten years of business in March of this year. Victoria’s brand has been featured on several networks, and she recently registered The Pink Tub LLC with the state of Indiana. She has also finished her first cohort with Indiana Black Expo - Black Business Training Institute. She is in the process of being certified by the city, state, and government to obtain funding that will allow her business to grow even more. To learn more about The Pink Tub, please visit their website. h


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I am Loc’d By Nature LLC 10

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Bridget Speller Bridget Speller describes herself as a proud entrepreneur, author, and Business Coach. The Charlotte, NC, resident was born and raised in the small town of (Bertie) Windsor, NC. After graduating from high school in 2006, she attended and graduated from NC A&T State University in 2010. During her college years, she met the love of her life, Joseph Purington, and the couple has enjoyed each other for a total of 14 years, being married for nine of them. Together they share two beautiful daughters, Sage and Phoebe. With one of her business ventures, she serves as the owner and founder of Loc’d By Nature, LLC, a Natural and Organic Hair Care Product line. Bridget’s company creates natural hair care products, including shampoos, conditioners, Pomade, and oil treatments. They are uniquely designed to care for natural hair and locs. Bridget shares, “We promote growth and healthy hair. Our innovative line of organic products ensures quality and freshness.” The health of an individual’s hair and its impact on the environment are two of Loc’d By Nature’s biggest priorities. In addition to its haircare line, they have produced a plant-based pet care line designed for dogs, cats, and horses. This new line was launched in June 2022 and consists of shampoos, Pet Balms, and treats. One might ask how did the journey begin for Bridget and her companies. She says, Loc’d By Nature Hair Care was established in April 2020. She started in her home kitchen, mixing organic products as a hobby. She says, “My daughters are my why. Prior to the year 2020, I began to realize that I truly wanted to learn the science of our hair, especially since all three of us have different textures and hair types. I also wanted to ensure I was using nonharsh products on our hair. I’ve always noticed how beautiful our textures were, and I wanted to have a product line that could work perfectly for our hair and my husband. I later decided to have people with different textures try out my shampoo and give me their honest thoughts. I made up about four different formulas and once everyone tried them, their feedback helped me to determine what was working and what wasn’t. One that stood out was the peppermint and tea tree formula. In October 2020, I launched my “Mint Roots” Hair Care line of products online; the rest is history.”

“My daughters are my why. Prior to the year 2020, I began to realize that I truly wanted to learn the science of our hair, especially since all three of us have different textures and hair types. I also wanted to ensure I was using nonharsh products on our hair.”

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Starting her company presented several challenges. Bridget had a great idea, but had no clue where the startup funds would come from. “I didn’t want to take on a business loan because that would involve debt and time. I also felt like I had to do everything myself as a new entrepreneur. I made the decision to avoid a business loan and use the salary from my job to get things moving. After working extra long hours, I was not only able to get the startup funds, but had enough to operate the business the first year,” she says. Although Bridget had been employed before, she knew that entrepreneurship was her true passion. She shares, “I was blessed to only have one job after graduating from college. I always loved the entrepreneur side but didn’t think it would happen. While working in the banking industry for 11 years, I experienced a short-term layoff, and I made lateral moves within the company to gain my dream “9 to 5” job. I endured many denials for positions I thought were a great fit for me. I became comfortable with my corporate salary job to the point where I was okay with retiring there. Sitting home during Covid for almost two years, God truly showed me my purpose. The spirit allowed me to sit down and figure out what Bridget wants. If it wasn’t for me working from home during the pandemic and writing out my wants, I probably would still be working my corporate job.” She resigned from her job in January 2022, became an author, and published her first book, “Attain Financial Freedom, Evolve as Entrepreneur. Loc’d By Nature has been very successful, so much so that Bridget and her husband decided to diversify their business portfolio. She says they noticed a shortage of rental cars and decided to create a business that would offer a solution to the shortage. That is how Regal Rental Cars came about in late September 2020. “Our goal was to make things easier and affordable for guests renting cars,” she shares. Outside of running multiple businesses, Bridget coaches other entrepreneurs on their purpose and shows them how to take their businesses to the next level. She also reiterates how important it is for her to leave a legacy for her children and generations that will follow. Her advice to others who may follow a path similar to hers is to put God first in anything you do and pray over your goals. “Remember, faith without works is dead. Manifest your life, and watch God work. Always know that success isn’t built overnight, and things take time.” Moving forward Bridget’s goal is to ensure the values and mission of each of her brands. She also plans to continue giving back to her community. “I love being a blessing to others,” she says. To learn more about Bridget Speller and her brands, please visit her website. h

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Real Estate, Finance, and Dance....... I Do A Lot By Terry L. Watson - Photos Provided by Kara White

While Phoenix, AZ, is widely known for its often sweltering climate, someone else is blazing their own path in the black business community and helping others succeed along the way. Her name is Kara White. The young and ambitious entrepreneur wears many hats, including that of a real estate agent, financial planner, dance instructor, and director of a nonprofit organization. Kara was born and raised in Chicago, IL. In 2002, she decided to make the cross-country trek to the Desert Valley in search of a new start. That same year, she received her real estate license and followed that by becoming a licensed broker in 2009. She shares how her journey began, an experience wrapped in surprise and purpose. “While on a trip with my mother, I talked with an owner of a real estate agency. They offered me a job and even offered to cover the cost of my real estate license. However, as soon as I received the license, I left the resort gracefully and began building my clientele,” she says. Indianapolis - Sept./Oct. 2022

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Due to the ever-changing real estate market, Kara had to reinvent herself. That’s how one of her products, Kara’s Wealth Consultant, was developed, which spawned another product, Get the Money Friend. In this brand, “F.R.I.E.N.D.” is an acronym for “Financial Consultation, Real Estate, Investments, Planning, Notary Public Services, and Debt Elimination. She also offers credit consultation with services that include Credit Report Review, a Credit Repair DIY Kit Guide, and Income Protection and Budget Review. While she has demonstrated an astute business understanding, Kara’s talents expand beyond the entrepreneurial sector. She is the former Miss Arizona International. Her platform and influence were carried over into her nonprofit organization, Live Love Dance Inc. Its focus is to empower youth and lead them to live healthy, strong, and fulfilled lives via the performing arts. It also provides workshops, empowerment sessions, galas, fundraising, private lessons, and community service events.

Kara shares she has always had a passion for dance. “When I was 11 years old, my first job was as a dance assistant. I quickly rose in rank from an assistant to teaching my own class. I’m disciplined in all seven dance forms, with contemporary dance being my favorite. I favor this style more because it incorporates the basics such as ballet and the freeing movement fundamentals of jazz and modern dance,” she says. Kara’s genuine love to see others succeed is an attribute that comes into play in her personal and professional life. “I am committed to helping others, and my business endeavors must positively impact my community. The different experiences I’ve gained have allowed me to not only help others, but I’ve benefited from those that I serve, pouring back into me,” she says. The life of an entrepreneur can present unique challenges, and Kara has also experienced her share. She says that times can get complicated, but during those moments, she has to search deep within and find a way to stay positive and keep moving. “Despite my challenges, I am committed to living in the moment. I try to live and be present because time is whatever you think it is and whatever you create. I often tell others not to dwell on the past or focus too much on the future because they don’t know what will or might happen. We must live in the moment,” she says.

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“I am committed to helping others, and my business endeavors must positively impact my community.”

On top of being able to help others, Kara also loves that she doesn’t have to conform to anything. Whether it’s her money world or dance world, she’s able to be personable while working at the same time. She also loves being able to work with a team of great people. As life moves forward for Kara, she expects to be involved in more endeavors and hopes to launch an event planning business. She also plans to expand her brand, Kara’s Wealth Consultant, and continue spreading financial advice in her community. Additionally, plans to continue to promote and grow Live Love Dance Incorporated. Their signature gala fundraiser is coming up in October, with proceeds going towards dance scholarships. For anyone looking to follow in Kara’s footsteps, her number one piece of advice is this; no one is going to be better at being you than you. She says, “Don’t try to be me, be better than me, be better at being you than me.” Please visit her website to learn more about Kara White and her great endeavors. h

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Get In Your Element By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Arlisa Thomas Life. Love. Basketball. In that order. That is how Arlisa Thomas moves. She is someone who wears many hats, and with each one, her composure and balance are sustained. Arlisa is a professional basketball player, entrepreneur, graphic artist, model, fashion designer, aspiring actress, and movie producer. If that wasn’t enough, her goal is to add even more to her list of accomplishments. Arlisa is a native of Cary, MS, and she shares that she began learning what her gifts and talents were at a young age. She is the sixth of seven children and credits her large family setting with positively impacting her life. “I began playing basketball and embracing my creative talents when I was between five and ten years old. My life revolved around my desire to do something away from my six siblings. Being in a home of seven was busy, and we had experiences that most other families had, like interaction, sharing, and normal kid arguments. I eventually dove into my own world and explored who I was. I wanted to learn what I could do, and playing basketball was something I learned,” she says. Arlisa holds a Masters degree, Bachelor’s degree, and Associate degree in the fields of Technology, Education, and Graphics. She has enjoyed a successful career as a professional basketball player. She is also the owner of SIBA (South International Basketball Association”) and Lisa Thomas “Get in Your Element”.

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With SIBA, Arlisa provides player exposure, mentorship, life skills, and allaround player development for current and aspiring professional basketball players. Their platform is designed for players who desire to play on all professional platforms such as the NBA, D-League, WNBA, FIBA, and other player-accommodating organizations. SIBA prepares players for endorsements and life after basketball through community impact development. Arlisa says her journey as a professional basketball player has been life-changing. “I have learned the game from all angles. My court vision has taught me that the same vision is applied in everyday life. I was taught how important it was to be a leader, be effective in what I do, help others around me become better than they are, and execute and model what greatness is so that the people around me are impacted through my achievement,” she says. Being able to fill the gaps for players, coaches, and organizations who seek elite players is something that Arlisa says she enjoys doing. She often reflects on the words and encouragement of her late mother and credits her with having the most significant influence and impact on her life and career. Arlisa’s message to other aspiring athletes and business owners is to keep God first in all that you do. She shares that doing so will ensure you have a fulfilling path of purpose. In the future, she plans to continually be a source of influence in the lives of others.

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John Odum D2G ScreenShots

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by John Odum Genuine in nature, John Odum has found his footing in the world of entrepreneurship. He is the face and founder of D2G Screenshots, a multifaceted graphic design and creative arts firm based in Memphis, TN. D2G is an acronym that represents “Dreams to Goals” and Screenshots John shares was added to his business model to allow customers to have any shirt design, image, or idea printed directly onto a T-shirt. Some of the additional products and services John offers are customprinted t-shirts and hoodies. “We use a Direct to Garment printing setup, which allows us to create vibrant, high-quality prints with a three to five day turnaround time,” he says. John was born and raised in Memphis and graduated from East High School. In high school, he met his sweetheart, a connection that led to marriage and three children. While his approach to business is calm, he has been assertive in his quest for knowledge. In doing so, he obtained an Associates Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology, a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, and a Master’s degree in Information Technology/Cybersecurity. D2GscreenShots came to life in December 2017 as a result of a graduate school assignment John had. He was asked to write a 30-page paper focusing on a new technology. After stumbling upon a printer that printed directly to t-shirts, my interest peaked, and I began to inquire about the technology,” he says. John scored a high grade for his assignment and decided to invest his money into the equipment needed to start the business, and the rest is history.

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“Having a son and creating a legacy is very important to me. My son’s birth motivated me to focus on my dreams of entrepreneurship and education. I want to exemplify to him that anything is possible if you do the work and believe in your dreams.”

John Odum D2G ScreenShots

D2Gscreenshots@gmail.com 901-279-0434

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John says he loves the creative freedom his business offers, as well as being his own boss. He also finds enjoyment in satisfying his customers. Like most business owners, John has also faced some challenges in business. Some of these involve creating a customer base in a fairly new market and setting himself apart from other shirt companies. Another challenge John shares he had was being comfortable with his product’s value and giving his customers the option to go a cheaper route with other Tshirt vendors. He was able to overcome his challenges by utilizing social media as a marketing and promotion tool. “Social media has allowed me to reach thousands of potential customers at little to no cost,” he shares. “I have built relationships with other t-shirt companies simply by referring clients to them for various services.” John says his life and career have mostly been impacted by knowing others depend on his success. “Having a son and creating a legacy is very important to me. My son’s birth motivated me to focus on my dreams of entrepreneurship and education. I want to exemplify to him that anything is possible if you do the work and believe in your dreams,” he says. John’s advice to others who may follow in his footsteps is to dream big. John shares, “Give yourself at least three years to become profitable. You must also research the industry and the competition and prepare yourself to manage taxes, licenses, and budgets. In other words, do your Homework!” There isn’t much that John says he would have changed about his journey in business. Yet, one thing he mentions is that he wishes he would have gone to college earlier to advance his communication skills and increase his exposure to marketing and business strategies. Besides those, he admits the journey has been worthwhile. As John’s future continues to look bright, he plans to expand his business and become a wholesale supplier of blank t-shirts and supply new t-shirt companies. He will also offer consulting, marketing, promotion, and startup packages to companies and help guide them into becoming successful in the t-shirt industry. To learn more about John Odum and D2G ScreenShots, please contact him directly.


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Robyn C. Hill Counseling & Professional Development Services By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Robyn C. Hill Being raised in a two-parent home has benefited Cleveland, OH, native Robyn C. Hill. Her father worked a full-time job with a local telephone company, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom before helping Robyn’s father with his business. Even more, having a loving support system that doubled as role models allowed her to understand the value of being responsible and accountable. Today, Robyn is the face and founder of Robyn C. Hill Counseling & Professional Development Services. Opened in 2011, the privately practiced company provides culturally and spiritually sensitive counseling, focusing on depression, anxiety, and trauma recovery. She also offers individual counseling sessions to adults and adolescents and accepts most insurances. Additionally, Robyn provides a sliding scale fee for the uninsured and underinsured. Robyn graduated from John Marshall High School in 1995 and later attended Kent State University. There she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Pan African Studies and followed that accomplishment with a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary. She also became licensed by the state of Ohio as a Professional Clinical Counselor to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate in education in Community Care in Counseling with a focus in Traumatology from Liberty University. In addition to running her practice, Robyn has authored two books that are designed to assist clients with understanding mental health. One, A Healing Conversation: Beginning Steps Towards Dealing With A Painful Past, introduces the reader to the counseling process while invoking discussion about depression, anxiety, and trauma. Her second book, Refresh! A Therapeutic Devotional, is a 40-day prayer devotional that teaches the skills of mindfulness, meditation, and journaling utilizing scriptures that explore various emotions. Robyn also provides training and workshops to area organizations on various topics related to mental health and wellness.

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Robyn says she opened her practice after years of working for community agencies and feeling limited in her ability to practice. “I found that agencies focused more on medications and entitlements, meaning connecting clients to government benefits than getting the clients better. Also, community mental health agencies did not allow for addressing religious beliefs in sessions, despite my clinical training to incorporate spirituality into therapeutic practices. I decided to branch out and start my own practice that related to my community and addressed their needs and concerns more effectively,” she says. Robyn shares that what she loves most about what she does is walking through valleys with people and helping them get to the other side of their healing process. “Healing can be a long journey, and it takes endurance. As a therapist, I don’t intend to rush the client but instead walk alongside them and help them process the journey that we are on. I have had several clients who come with the expectation of wanting a quick fix or something that they can get from a workbook. I do give them some coping skills until they are ready. However, it is something about when you see your client evolve before your very eyes, and you’re able to hold the proverbial mirror up to them and applaud their growth,” Robyn says.

“Healing can be a long journey, and it takes endurance. As a therapist, I don’t intend to rush the client but instead walk alongside them and help them process the journey that we are on.” While Robyn credits her parents with being her biggest cheerleaders and inspiration, she also acknowledges someone else. “The seed of becoming a therapist was planted by my former pastor, Bishop Joey Johnson. I met with him to discuss this strange phenomenon of people pouring out their life stories to me. He eventually directed me to Ashland Theological Seminary,” she says. “My current pastor Charles Dickerson is a strong advocate of theology and therapy, and covers me and my practice with prayer and sends me referrals consistently. My colleagues Al McIntosh and the team of PBCTN, have greatly supported me and are always great sounding boards for clinical and administrative issues.” Moving forward, Robyn says she wants to pour into the next wave of mental health professionals. “My focus is becoming an expert in the field of traumatology. Obtaining my doctoral degree will open up opportunities for more trainings, specifically in the area of education,” she says. To learn more about Robyn C. Hill and her services, please visit her website. h

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Tolbert Consulting Group “Falling Forward”

For Julius Tolbert, entrepreneurship is in his DNA. As the oldest of four, he grew up in a family of business-minded people. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My granddaddy was in the logistics industry. He owned his own trucking company. My mother was an interior designer, my uncle had his own trucking business, and my grandmother was the family bookkeeper. So, I understood from an early age what entrepreneurship meant. Everything wasn’t always peaches and cream. I was exposed to the good, the bad, and the ugly when it came to growing businesses as a minority in the south,” Julius explains. “The most important lesson I learned was that falling is part of succeeding. Just as long as you fall forward.” Growing up, Julius says his grandparents were his biggest influence. “Being the oldest grandchild, although we all were exposed to that enterprising spirit to some degree, I would say I had a little more first-hand experience.” When Julius was fourteen, he moved in with his grandparents, whom he credits as the center of their family’s business prowess. “My grandparents ran a fully functioning business. My grandfather was also a driver, so he was away often. I spent most of the time with my grandmother, who ran the day-to-day operations that make or break a business,” he says. The expectation was that Julius would grow up and work in the family business, but he had plans of his own. “Watching my grandmother made me realize there was more to being a business owner than selling a product or providing a service. I think that’s why I focus on the behind the scenes work. The business behind the business.” Julius is putting the lessons he learned as a child to good use. He has two consulting companies: Tolbert Consulting Group and Cornbread Consulting Firm and co-founder of Black Economic Mobility Coalition. “Tolbert Consulting Group is a nationally recognized business credit and funding company. We help entrepreneurs that are serious about getting their business started the right way the first time. We help with everything from business coaching, business funding, payroll, and bookkeeping. Our goal is to give business owners the support they need to succeed. Cornbread Consulting Firm work specifically with small business owners that are in the hospitality industry. We assist restaurant, food truck, catering company owners get in business, turnaround existing business, and/ or franchise concepts. Then there is the Black Economic Mobility Coalition which is very similar to a chamber of commerce. Our mission is to identify, address and remove barriers to economic prosperity for black business owners. All three companies were birthed from the experiences and challenges he faced along the way.

His journey has had its significant highs and lows, but now he wants to help others fall forward. Julius has always known who and what he wanted to be in life. He just had to carve his own path. Not one to take the traditional route, Julius decided the military was the best path forward. “After high school, I joined the Navy. During my time, I went through two six-month deployments. I gained knowledge and exposure I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else during my travels. I saw myself and Black America from a different perspective. I have to say it definitely affected me,” he shares. As someone who already had plans, he says his time abroad helped shape and define his vision for the future. “When you live in the same place around the same people all the time, it’s hard to imagine a different kind of life. My time away allowed me to open my mind to the possibilities of what could be.” The unfortunate side of life in black communities is that it may be hard to do anything but worry about surviving. Julius decided he couldn’t live with the status quo. When he returned home, he was full of dreams and plans for the kind of world he wanted to live in and contribute to, but his ideas weren’t met with the excitement and support he was hoping for. He says, “After having the opportunity to experience other cultures and communities, my creative juices were overflowing. I wanted to push the boundaries and show my community that we don’t have to travel the world to experience it. However, I was met with a lot of resistance and close-mindedness. I kept hearing, “Aye, bro, ain’t nobody gonna come to that around here…” Thankfully, Julius wasn’t easily dissuaded.

Watching my grandmother made me realize there was more to being a business owner than selling a product or providing a service. I think that’s why I focus on the behind the scenes work. The business behind the business.

By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Julius Tolbert

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Along with his time in the military, another important factor that pushed him to think about the longevity of a business was the loss of his grandfather. “My grandfather stepped in during a crucial time in my life. He took on the role of father and mentor. He taught me about business etiquette and how to dress and be addressed. He taught me how to conduct myself in professional settings, and even how to talk and handle business in meetings,” Tolbert explains. “He taught me to make sure I do everything in excellence. People will remember you if you take pride in everything you do.” Using his grandfather’s wisdom, Julius went from an entry level position in restaurant all the way to the corporate offices. “It was never my intention to build a career. I wanted to build knowledge. I took advantage of every opportunity to learn a new skill. I worked at several restaurants as I continued to climb the ladder. That’s how I worked my way out of the kitchen to become a corporate manager overseeing a region of restaurants.” Julius was being paid to learn how to flip, manage, and maintain a restaurant successfully. He was learning restaurant hospitality from the inside out. “My first leap into the deep end of entrepreneurship was when a partner and I opened Cornbread to Caviar Catering, which later became a fully operational restaurant,” he says. Like most chain restaurants, the employees seldom met or had a relationship with the owners. Julius and the chef of the restaurant he was overseeing decided they were done training people to become their boss or compete for their jobs, so they struck out on their own and opened Cornbread to Caviar. He shares, “Our concept was a southern-inspired menu presented with a touch of elegance and creativity. So that’s what we did, or at least where we started. We kicked off our catering company with networking events like First Fridays.” These events weren’t just for the locals. Julius and his partner had a targeted audience. “We were intentional with our invitations. We invited corporate department heads, University chairs, and others we knew had influence with their companies. As a result, we were awarded their catering contracts.” From there, Cornbread to Caviar grew into a full-service restaurant, and Julius did well for a while. The restaurant earned Best New Restaurant 2009 and at a tender age of twenty-five, he was part owner and operator of a restaurant making over seven figures per year. Then the effects of the recession hit. We went from doing $1.5 million a year in sales to $750,000, but I was operating as if we were still making $1.5 million. At this point, I realized there were areas of running a business that I didn’t know. I was running way above cost and bleeding money.” In 2008, Julius lost his grandfather and mentor. So, it was a fatality of the economic recession without any guidance on how to make the adjustments needed to keep the restaurant above water. “I struggled with self-doubt and depression when the restaurant closed. That experience taught me a critical lesson. Success isn’t how great the business is doing right now. Real success is how well the business will be doing ten and twenty years down the road.” To say he landed on his feet is an understatement. One of the reasons Julius started his restaurant consulting business that caters to small companies is because, after twenty years in the hospitality industry, he learned what the mom and pops need to know. “I have essentially taken all my years of experience with corporate restaurant chains and made it available to the little man. I share all the processes and tools the big boys use to maintain continued growth with my clients. I never want anyone to find themselves in the position I did.”

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It doesn’t matter what your business is; knowledge is power. Julius and his associates are here to make sure you have the power to live your entrepreneurial dreams successfully. He can’t guarantee you won’t fall, but he will help you use the momentum to fall forward. h


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