Huami Magazine Louisville Nov./Dec. 2022

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Nov./Dec. 2022 Vol. 1 Issue 6 LOUISVILLE ® Anchored Beginnings Lactation, LLC

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Yesterday Prepared Me For What’s Next

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

A Letter from the Editor

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

While I was confident in my ability to fulfill the assignment, I admit I didn’t have all the answers initially. Ten years earlier, in 1997, I researched the magazine publishing industry, specifically in the Triad area of North Carolina. I did this to learn more about what is required to publish a magazine, including how to manage a publishing company, etc. Amongst all of the information obtained, I never inquired about how to support my new media company financially. That would eventually pose a problem for me and Huami Magazine.

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

Finances and their availability is vital to the survival of any business. I self-funded operating costs for quite some time, especially in the first few years of existence. However, all of a sudden, things changed. Huami Magazine would enjoy the love and support from unlikely sources, including individuals who never exhibited an interest in the product. Doors would soon open and opportunities flowed. Things were looking up for Mykel Media Company, LLC.

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

As the face and founder of Huami Magazine, I worked hard to spread brand awareness. During this time, there were other challenges I would face, but having the support of the magazine wasn’t one of them. Sales were so good that everything needed to keep our doors open, we received it. God saw something good about Huami Magazine and He made provisions to ensure

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

The message that I want to remind the readers of Huami Magazine is simple. When God gives you an assignment, He will also make provisions for you to see it through. All that we have to do is show up for the assignment.

www.huamimagazine.com

Editor In Chief

Dorjae McClammey Writer

Terry L. Watson

Alana Allen - Deputy Editor

Writers

Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove

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www.huamimagazine.com for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication E-mail at terrywatson@huamimagazine.com On The Cover

Photo by Shaw Photography Group

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Still Shots Photography Photographer Todd Youngblood Photographer The Editor
Terry L. Watson

Dymetra McCaskill

She has a unique eye for style and design. Learn more about her journey in business. Denver, CO

Also Featured

Kahalah Clay

For her, it’s all about getting down to business. Learn more about the voice of the Pearls & Politics Podcast.

St. Louis, MO

Donnie C. Young

He has universal appeal. Learn more about his journey from the streets of South Carolina to success.

Greenville, SC

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Braxton Moore Love, Hair, and Faith Timeka Tillman Footrpints In Africa Tammy Moore Sophic Solutions LLC Rodney Smith
NOV./DEC. 2022 LOUISVILLE EDITION CONTENTS 38 16 10 20 6
The
Anchored Beginnings Lactation LLC Shanice Nelson
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Cover
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Anchored Beginnings Lactation, LLC

Shanice Nelson is a mother, student, and entrepreneur who resides in her hometown of Louisville, KY. Shanice attended Central High School and Shawnee High School before enrolling at Western Kentucky University. She later transferred to Union Institute and University, acquired her Associates Degree in Health Science, and is scheduled to obtain her Bachelors Degree in Human Lactation in 2023.

Today, Shanice is the owner and founder of Anchored Beginnings Lactation, LLC. Her company was launched in 2020, and she shares it literally fell into her lap. “My own children are currently ages three, five, and six, but at one point, they were infants. I was breastfeeding for many consecutive years. While my experience was like a rollercoaster, I still loved it, and it was great. I was one of the first people in my family to breastfeed. It was a learning experience for me, and I shared my experience with my family and friends. From there, someone planted the seed in my mind to make a business out of it, and so I did,” she says.

Anchored Beginnings Lactation offers lactation consultations, group classes, breastfeeding boxes, and more. Her products are designed for breastfeeding mothers and their support persons, which Shanice says is especially important. When my clients take the course with another person, a support person, they have someone to encourage them during their most difficult moments. The support person can also remind them of the strategies and things previously discussed, helping them put them into practice and be successful with breastfeeding,” she says.

Watson Photos Provided by Shanice Nelson

Shanice doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar operation, and that structure generally works to her advantage. She finds that when she goes to her client’s location, she is to offer them a better experience, a more comfortable experience in their setting.

Shanice shares that she genuinely loves her business and is excited to educate more individuals about breastfeeding. “I really believe that breastfeeding is a public health strategy. I believe that breastfeeding can shape the narrative of parental bonding. I also love the ah-hah moments when I see my clients begin to trust their bodies to nourish their babies,” she shares. “Oftentimes, people don’t need me until there is a problem. Being able to provide strategies that will help lead to a solution and empower them. I have learned that people want to breastfeed, and they want to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of breastfeeding for 24 months. These are the things that do it for me; this is what gets me out of bed in the morning.”

Shanice draws inspiration from various sources to be able to do the things she does. One of them she acknowledges is her grandmother, whom she says was a tenacious person and made her believe she could do anything she put her mind to. “She is the person I credit for my intuitiveness and being able to recognize my natural gifts and abilities. My servitude spirit comes from her. The foundation of my business stands on serving women and infants,” she says.

Shanice says that with running her business, she is always learning something new, and with new growth comes new challenges. One of them is being able to talk about her business. “I’ve found that the more I talk about her business, someone is paying attention, even when it doesn’t seem like it. I know this because a large portion of my customers is strangers,” she shares. Shanice has also found new ways to talk about Anchored Beginnings Lactation LLC by networking with other business owners in her field.

As she moves forward, Shanice would like to train the next generation and grow her brand in other states around the country. Her advice to others who may follow in her footsteps is to believe in the craziest part of your vision and go after it. “If it’s crazy and appears bigger than you, then you are on the right track,” she says.

Please visit their website to learn more about Shanice Nelson and Anchored Beginnings Lactation, LLC.

www.myanchoredbeginnings.com h

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HuamiMagazine.com Louisville - Nov./Dec. 2022

Footprints In Africa

Footprints in Africa, a subsidiary of Chayil Enterprises LLC., is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to aiding the people of Africa, in poverty-stricken communities, with the skills and opportunities that will support economic stability for individuals and their families. The founder and visionary Tammy Darmell Moore says, “Footprints in Africa is not here to give aid but to assist. We don’t want just to put a bandage on the problem. We are here to provide sustainable ways for the people we encounter to care for themselves and the people of their communities.”

Ms. Moore, a single mother of grown children, decided that once her youngest was out of college, she would see the world. “I love to travel. Other people like to shop or go the shows and dine out. I’m not knocking anyone for what they like to do, but for me, I love to travel.” Moore, a selfproclaimed military brat, was now free to move about the country and the world.

“My friends often asked me when I was going to Africa. I had decided to wait until the year of return because I wanted my trip to Africa to be more than memorable. I wanted it to be momentous.”

The Year of Return, Ghana 2019’, a yearlong program of activities marking the 400th anniversary of the first recorded enslaved Africans to the US. While everyone was flooding Ghana, Tammy went to Ethiopia. “I planned to tour the continent, but I wanted to visit Ethiopia first. It was Africa before colonization.”

Moore’s connection with the country and the continent was instant and almost symbiotic. “I immediately fell in love with the people, the food, and the culture. I was in awe of how beautiful the people were.”

The organization’s name, Footprints in Africa, has a three-fold meaning, but it all started because of a little girl and a pair of sneakers. “While I was out in the bush, I met a little girl who asked me for my shoes. I was wearing some black and white Nike Air Max, and she liked them. She was wearing

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shoes, but they were in horrible condition. They were so worn that one foot was protruding out of the shoe. I felt bad. I wanted to take my shoes off right there, but I was about five miles from the tour bus, and the terrain was rough, and let’s just be honest, I wasn’t ready to walk barefoot in the Ethiopian bush,” Tammy says, laughing. “But… I decided that I would find that little girl and give her my shoes when I came back.”

Tammy’s visit to Ethiopia was in the fall of 2019, and she had plans to return in February 2020. Unfortunately, rumors of an unknown virus were spreading across the globe, and the FAA was canceling and restricting flights. “When I was notified that we weren’t allowed to fly, no one would tell me why. Our trip kept getting delayed until finally, on March 18th, the city of Greenville, North Carolina, was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Like most citizens during the lockdown, Tammy found herself with nothing but time. “I’m not one to sit around and twiddle my thumbs, so I decided to clean out my closets. As I was clearing things out, I had a thought. Why take one pair of shoes to Ethiopia when I can take back multiple pairs? So, I contacted family members and friends via text and phone calls. I figured they were doing the same thing I was. I told them if they had shoes in good condition to send them to me.”

Within two weeks, Tammy had collected over one hundred pairs of shoes. “This wasn’t a social media drive or anything like that. These donations came from my immediate circle of friends and family. I was blown away. All I had to do was ask, and this was the reaction I got from my close circle of friends. I asked myself, how much more could we do?”

Tammy and her supporters are finding new answers to that question daily. In addition to their Soles for Africa initiative, there are several other projects the group is using to help people in poverty-stricken areas of Africa to live healthier and financially independent lives.

“We have our Life Gardens project that is currently in Kenya but will be starting in Ethiopia soon. Life Gardens is a partnership between Footprints in Africa and Thrive for Good to twelve Kenyan schools. These gardens are a source of food and good nutrition; they lower the cost of school fees, feed students and teachers, and generate revenue, allowing the schools to purchase supplies for the students,” Tammy explains with pride.

“Then there is the Legacy Scholarship in The Gambia, where we are helping with tuition for students seeking higher education so they can give back to their communities. When I learned that one semester in university was about the same as my Luis Vuitton handbag, I decided immediately that I could help. There is no application process at this time. We choose the recipients based on where we find the most need. Students are carefully researched to ensure they are enrolled and have the academic prowess to complete their degree program,” Tammy assures.

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The most crucial thing Tammy wants to convey is that Footprints in Africa is about helping Africans receive a fair wage for their trade. Africans are culturally rich and creative but often aren’t given proper credit or compensation for their artistry and craftsmanship. With the Alkebulan, Footprints in Africa’s Cultural Emporium, people can purchase directly from the artist or vendor in Africa. We have products from all fifty-four countries in Africa,” Tammy explains with excitement.

“We have our own tea line called Justea. Most of the world’s tea comes from Africa, but it’s shipped and repackaged, and the true farmers get pennies on the dollar. Justea comes directly from the tea farmer to you. What we have done is partnered with a company in Canada that works with tea farmers. These farmers employ over three hundred workers, most of whom are women, and pay them a fair wage to work the land. When you purchase tea from us, you will get information on the farmer and the farm in Africa your tea came from.”

In the two years since the foundation was started, Footprints in Africa has made it its mission to empower people in the poverty-stricken areas of Africa with as much support as possible. They have been successful, but like all great initiatives, it takes money.

“The one obstacle we have had to contend with is donations. Because we are still dealing with the fallout from the pandemic, people are timid about giving. It’s understandable because nobody wants to be caught off guard by all of the new threats. We have been blessed to have a core group of supporters we call our FIA (fiya) tribe. They are champions for our cause. We would be nowhere without their constant support.”

With the momentum Footprints in Africa is gaining, the future looks bright. “We hope to add more recipients for the Legacy Scholarship and extend it to students who want to attend trade school. We understand that university isn’t for everyone,” Tammy acknowledges. “And to help fund our projects, we are launching our Legacy Society. This is a way for supporters who believe in what we are doing to continue to give posthumously. They could name us as a charity in their estate.”

As stated before, the name Footprints in Africa has a three-fold meaning. “This all started because the little girl asked from my shoes. But it has grown into so much more. While I was in the bush, I saw more footprints than I saw shoe prints. This meant there were more people without than with. The other aspect comes from my desire to leave something behind. I desire to leave my mark, my footprint in the continent’s soil that has made an indelible mark on me.” h

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www.footprintsinafrica.org

Professional Hairstylist Timeka Tillman loves making people feel comfortable, relaxed, and, most importantly, beautiful. Timeka is the owner of Pensacola-based Loyalty Hair Studio.

“As a salon owner I love helping others grow. I also love to see people reach their goals. Most importantly, I teach others that God leads my path and having faith is a must,” she says.

Loyalty Hair Studio is a one-stop salon that specializes in something different. Their team consists of a barber, loctician, and hairstylist with a focus on natural and relaxed hair. Timeka says their clients always come first, and great customer service is their top priority.

Timeka is a native of Junction City, Kansas. At the young age of 17, she became a single parent to her son, Timothy. That experience, she says, sparked her drive and helped her focus on her future. She shares that her daughter, Tatayana was born extremely premature at just 25 weeks. That experience taught her about having faith and encouraged her to depend on God to lead and direct her path. Her youngest son, Tyking has taught her how to appreciate all that life has to offer.

Timeka graduated from Junction City High School in 2002. She says, “I knew Kansas was not where I wanted to stay. I wanted more for my son and me, so I moved to Pensacola in 2003. Once there, she worked different jobs before attending cosmetology school at Pensacola State College in 2010. Once acquiring her cosmetology license, Timeka would go on to work in several salons, she says, until God pushed her into ownership. In March 2020, right in the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic, Loyalty Hair Studio was born.

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Sophic Solutions, LLC

In 2018, the world was formally introduced to Wakanda. A world where people of color lived and ruled in a modern economic and progressive society of fair trade and collaboration. As portrayed in the fantasy fiction movie Black Panther, Wakanda is a black utopia untouched by the outside world. To most, it was a fantastic work of fiction, but to Rodney and Stephenie Smith, it was as real as you or I, and as possible as starting a simple courageous conversation. Rodney and Stephenie (Steven-ee) Smith have made it their mission and business to create a space where sustainable transformations takes place through courageous conversations about race and equity. The Smiths are working to change society toward racial equity.

Sophic Solutions, LLC is a change management and consulting firm based in Kansas City, Missouri. Sophic provides educational consultation to schools and school districts, offers change management solutions to various organization types, and conducts diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging training for a variety of companies and associations. Sophic also designs educational curriculum, offers professional development sessions, and facilitates team-building activities in addition to several supplementary management improvement services.

“Sophic Solutions was born out of our passion and experiences in our respective professions,” Rodney explains. “Our goal was to overcome our own daily dealings with some of these discriminatory practices. It came from being faced with marginalization in our own professional environments.”

Dr. Rodney D. Smith is also Vice President for Access and Engagement at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. As an academic, his natural curiosity caused him to question and investigate how implicit bias became so ingrained in American culture and how to change it. “As an academician, I began to study the origins of the divide we as a country are experiencing. It ushered me into wanting to learn more about how we got here.” These are the questions Sophic Solutions encourage their partners to ask and explore.

Dr. Smith began teaching courses in the area of social justice and equity. As word spread of his knowledgeable and practical approach to this conversation, he received invitations to speak and educate others. Fast-forward to 2018, after leaving a post in the not-for-profit sector, Stephenie assumed the role of managing partner of their business. As a social worker, Stephenie had a front-row view of how unawareness and avoidance affected underserved communities in the area of social equity. Her passion for helping people find efficacy in their lives and community made her stand out.

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“Although Sophic Solutions was founded in 2007, I continued to work for outside organizations until 2018. I have always been blessed because while working for majority white social service organizations, I created a safe space for my team and the people we served. I was able to use my role, personality, and the way I lead, to create a “Black” space within those entities,” Stephenie explains. Creating a relevant space wasn’t just about carving out and cultivating an environment where the concerns of black and brown people were heard, but were responded to with a demonstration of cultural humility. It was also essential to how the work was being done and those doing it.

Stephenie has leveraged her 20 + years of direct practice and organizational leadership experience to support her partners/clients. As the lead consultant with leaders across several sectors, Stephenie is able to stimulate curiosity about how outcomes are generated. With a belief that outcomes are produced through the system, Stephenie is able to guide teams through examining the Pedagogy, Policy, Practice, and People (Culture) of the organization. Stephenie explains, “Often times when organizations are seeking change, teams stop at simply transforming behaviors. While behavioral modification can be key, it is equally important to ensure the system of that organization does not have policies, practices or a culture that tolerates or promotes inequity.” Therefore engaging in a holistic approach to change is imperative. Stephenie’s approach is very much aligned with her discipline as a Master’s level Social Worker. Her commitment to this value- driven practice creates room for social emotional attention that must accompany the process of change.

In addition to leading Sophic Solutions, Stephenie serves as an adjunct professor at Avila University while also contributing to several community boards. Stephenie reminds us, “It is important to connect the dots in every area of our lives. Meaning this is not just the work that I engage in, but the life that I live.”

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As husband and wife business partners and parents to two wonderful children, family is vitally important to the Smiths, “We were both privileged to have parents who are Black professionals that taught us how to seek and use knowledge to further ourselves and our community,” Stephenie explained. “When you have role models in the home that set the standard, you are compelled by those expectations. My mother is a retired educator, and my father is a retired agriculturalist. So, I grew up understanding that I am responsible to my community and that is how Rodney and I have raised our children, and I’m proud to say that they have embraced the idea that it takes action and understanding to move the culture forward.”

With recognition from the community and other entities, Stephenie and Rodney received requests asking them to help create equity-centered schools, companies, and organizational groups.

With, not for is Sophic Solutions’ approach to assisting organizations in achieving their goals of self-sustaining social change. “We strongly believe in working with organizations to help them identify and address the areas of social inequity within their companies or groups,” Stephenie explained.

“Helping companies understand what implicit bias is, that it really exists and that its existence is the cause for the racial inequity that we see in society, is an important first step for the organizations that engage our services,” Rodney explains. “If asked, most of these organizations will say that they are made up of ‘good people.’ So, the next question is, ‘Can good people cause black, brown, and female workers to feel marginalized and overlooked?’ These kinds of questions can open the door to the kinds of courageous conversations that must take place so that change can happen.”

Over the years, Sophic Solutions has been a catalyst for change across a variety of platforms. Their website features many testimonials from partners and individuals who have benefited from their approach to social justice. As a result, Stephenie and Rodney have been recognized by their peers and the community at large.

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In 2021, Sophic Solutions received MARC’s Leadership Award. This award honors people and organizations that advocate regional concepts, approaches, and programs; address regional challenges; apply innovative solutions to regional problems; and advance a regional vision of excellence and opportunity. In 2022, Stephenie Smith, MSW, was selected as the Missouri Social Worker of the Year by the Missouri NASW chapter. The duo has been featured on several podcasts that spotlight social change as they continue to get their message of hope, empowerment, and self-efficacy out to the community.

As they move forward, Sophic’s vision continues to grow. “Growth is one of our goals”. Stephenie says, “Within the next two years, we hope to add more associates dedicated to promoting and educating about social justice, equity and inclusion. Although we are based in Kansas City, Missouri, we serve all over the country. We also want to grow how we do the work, so we are excited about the recent launch of Sophic Circles. Sophic Circles are practical engagement workshop opportunities for our peer partners. We refer to our clients as partners, and Sophic Circles allow partners in like industries or organizations to connect and create community. The long-term benefit is that these circles become an ecosystem of change.”

Sophic Circles brings Rodney and Stephenie’s vision into view. “We know that this work happens best in community. When change agents are isolated, they are less likely to demonstrate the behaviors necessary to perpetuate change. The future of racial equity and inclusion cannot be achieved in silos, but by agents of change working in community to educate ourselves and others.”

So, is Wakanda real? According to Dr. Rodney Smith and Stephenie Smith, with hard work, sacrifice, and a willingness to ask hard questions and then apply practical solutions, the answer is Wakanda is in all of us. We have to be willing to cultivate it.

www.sophicsolutionsgroup.com

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A Magazine Just For Kids For more information, including advertisement opportunities, please call 336-340-7844 h

Dymetra McCaskill of Denver, CO, has a unique eye for detail. Her ability to look at a blank canvas and create works of art has propelled her to being one of America’s top African American interior designers.

Along with being a mother, grandmother, sister, and daughter, Dymetra is the owner and founder of Urban Esthetic Interiors, LLC. As a black designer, you will notice hints of cultural esthetics, vibrant colors, and warm textures. She describes it as a whole vibe!

With her company, Dymetra offers one-on-one, personalized design experiences and collaborates with her clients to create what she describes as a beautiful space.

Dymetra was born and raised in Denver. There she attended school and obtained a Business Management degree. All of her family resides in Denver, including the matriarch of her family, who is now a great-great-grandmother. Dymetra is also a lover of music and says, “If you come to my home, there’s always music playing and candles burning. I’m always tinkering around with something design related,” she says.

Urban Esthetic Interiors, LLC came to life in 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic. “I worked full-time as a flight attendant, and because of the pandemic, I was temporarily furloughed. During that time, I was able to divert all of my attention to interior design, develop a business model, improve my skill set, and work,” Dymetra says.

When asked what she loves about having her own company, she says it’s all about the art of design. “I love beginning with a blank canvas and using my imagination to create a work of art. There are so many moving parts, which can be challenging at times, but that is what drives me. I test the limits with each project, make bold choices, and experiment with new trends.”

While Dymetra says she is inspired by her friends and family’s support and encouragement, she specifically acknowledges her mother for being the most significant source. Dymetra says her mom was the first to let her use a miter saw, which she thought was just a “guy thing” at the time. “I gained confidence, and it allowed me to feel limitless,” she says. Growing up, Dymetra says her mother would always rearrange furniture and have beautiful plants throughout the house. She shares that everything had its place. Even more, Dymetra’s dad is a pretty good designer in his own right. “Dad designs with class and deliberate pieces. His home shows like a model home, and I always wanted that for my space,” she says.

Additionally, Dymetra says that all things visually beautiful inspire her. “My son, who mimic’s my feature wall ideas, inspires me. My four-month-old grandson, who greets me with bright eyes and the happiest smile, inspires me. My sisters, who consistently root for me, inspire me. My aunt, who always eloquently encourages me, inspires me. My gramma, who covers me in prayer every day, showers me in love, and shows me how a fierce black woman moves and shakes in this world inspires me,” she says.

Things are going great for Dymetra, and she says there isn’t much she would change about how things have happened for her in business. If anything, she says she wishes she would have started sooner but also that she firmly believes that everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. “I’ve encountered some challenges and made plenty of mistakes; however, the beauty lies in knowing they are learning lessons. I’m creating my own formula, which makes me unique, bringing about some uncertainty, but it’s a beautiful mystery. I’m hopeful and excited about what’s to come,” Dymetra says.

Her advice to others who may follow a path similar to hers is not to allow fear to keep you from leaping. “Keep some of your thoughts and plans private, and if you decide to share them, do so with those you know will encourage you. Remember, we’re always students, so we never stop learning. This is a constantly evolving business, so be prepared to operate consistently with your creativity. Whatever your dreams and desires are, release them into the wind. Allow yourself to imagine all the possibilities, keep your intentions pure, and enjoy the ride.”

By the sounds of it, Dymetra has a bright road ahead of her. Futuristically, Dymetra plans to add to her existing brand, which will include designing commercial spaces and offering my products through retail. “If I’m not in your city, I would love for anyone to have access to an Urban Esthetic Interiors experience,” she says.

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On the surface, Donnie Young appears to be an average African American male. However, if one looks a little deeper into who he is, one will find a lot more to this serial entrepreneur’s story. For the most part, his journey has come with a few ups and downs and bumps and bruises. Still, Donnie has found a way to persevere and now lives a life of gratitude and grace while exemplifying the love of God.

Born and raised in South Carolina, Donnie comes from humble beginnings. His mother passed away when he was just a baby, and his father was imprisoned shortly after. At such a young age and without his parents, what was next for Donnie? What would his future look like? As if someone sounded the horns, Donnie’s village stepped into place with his grandmother and aunt answering the call.

During his childhood, Donnie enjoyed playing all sports, including football. There is where Donnie could be found, on the football field, he says, until the pressure of wanting more in life pushed him toward the wrong crowd. “I looked to the streets to find my way. I began selling drugs and soon got entangled in crime. I was charged with accessory to murder and found myself sitting in a jail cell, alone,” he says. Donnie was eventually cleared of that accusation, but his past would soon catch up with him, and soon Donnie would find himself back in prison, he says, for being framed for a crime that he did not commit or know anything about. “I wasn’t supposed to be in there, but I used that time to my advantage. I slowed down, sat quietly, analyzed my mistakes, and educated myself.”

Donnie says, “Prison won’t teach you how to be a man, but it will give you the blueprint.” While incarcerated, Donnie learned as many trades as possible such as cooking to brick masonry and obtained his G.E.D. He was a model prisoner and gained a good rapport with other inmates and officers. “I was motivated to make it out and make something of myself, but most of all, I was inspired by the fear of ending up like my father.”

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“I looked to the streets to find my way. I began selling drugs and soon got entangled in crime. I was charged with accessory to murder and found myself sitting in a jail cell, alone.”

Once released, Donnie was determined not to find himself in an idle situation. He went straight to working multiple jobs and mastering a new trade at each one. “When I did something, I pretty much mastered it, making it a point to be the best at it,” he says. Things were going well for Donnie but he knew there was more he could be doing, specifically for himself. That is when the spirit of entrepreneurship sat on him, and he hasn’t looked back.

Donnie shares that he became tired of growing so much with his skills and not with the companies he was employed by. He decided to break away and create his own business and do it the way he knew how, with excellence. In 2016, he launched his first brand, Universal Lawn and Floor, a high-quality landscaping and lawn care business. Under the Universal brand, he owns several sub-companies. One is Universal Flooring, which covers all floor maintenance, such as striping and waxing commercial floors and flooring installation. “Laminate, tile, vinyl, carpet, and subfloor. Anything flooring, we can install it,” Donnie says.

Other companies Donnie has produced are Universal Power Washing Solution and Uni-Klean. These offer services such as pressure cleaning driveways and homes, as well as commercial cleaning. He has also developed Universal Credit Repair and Business Consultation and UNI-Wellness.

The word “Universal” is purposely incorporated into all of Donnie’s companies. He says that word is his staple. “I am ‘Mr. Universal’. I can apply my brand to anything, no matter what you need, I can handle it,” he says. Moreover, Donnie’s work speaks for itself. That is obvious and he has several awards to validate that. He’s won ‘Best of Taylors’ award twice and ‘The Nextdoor Neighborhood Favorite’ award, amongst many others.

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It is apparent that Donnie has his hands and mind involved in many things, and that is by design. He shares that while he serves many industries, his primary objective is to impact his community positively. “My past has been challenging, but I’ve decided to allow my lifes’ lessons to help others. I can do this by employing and providing real opportunities to members of my community. I want to provide an outlet for people facing obstacles, as I have. I understand that all it takes is for someone to be given an opportunity, and I am happy to be in a position to do so,” he says. “Just like how I was tired of struggling, I’m even more tired of seeing others struggle.”

Moreover, Donnie’s testimony is that he got it out of the mud, period. “I’m a very, very hard worker. I never quit, I never give up or listen to the naysayers. When people tell me I can’t do something, it makes me try harder,” he says.

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What is next for this self-driven entrepreneur? He says, Don’t think for a second that he will be slowing down anytime soon. Donnie says he’s just getting started. He has plans to continue growing as a businessman and will add real estate to his list of services in 2023. It is pretty clear there isn’t much that he can’t accomplish once he sets his sights on it. To learn more about Donnie Young, and all of his brands, please visit his website or contact him directly. uniklean8@gmail.com www.debtcleanse.com/UCRABC dcyoung372@gmail.com

Pearls & Politics Kahalah Clay, Esq.

You get a reaction when you speak of Kahalah Clay in the southwestern Illinois area or Springfield. She’s a wife and a mom of three amazing little people: two handsome boys and a beautiful little girl. In addition to that, Kahalah is a powerfully effective advocate for her community. She is the kind of person people quickly take notice of.

Kahalah Clay, born and raised in East St. Louis, is the daughter of the late former East St. Louis Fire Chief Bruce Hill, Jr. and Mrs. Reola Hill. She graduated from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign with a degree in Pre-Law/Speech Communication and later obtained her law degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Kahalah has served as St. Clair County assistant state’s attorney and won her campaign for Circuit Clerk of St. Clair County three terms in a row. In November 2021, Kahalah stepped down as Circuit Clerk, taking on a new role as Chief Legal Counsel at - Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

“I was blessed to serve as St. Clair County Clerk for ten years. I transitioned to my new position as Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Prisoner Review Board coming up on a year now. That’s my nine-tofive. I was blessed to launch my God idea, Pearls & Politics, LLC, in June of this year. From the LLC, stemmed Pearls & Politics Podcast,” Kahalah shared.

Pearls & Politics Podcast is a platform for the empowerment of women and the uplifting of our communities. “The podcast has been a fourth-month, full-time labor of love, but God is blowing on it,” Kahalah explains.

As a former politician, Kahalah has seen and survived a great deal. With Pearls & Politics, she is creating a space that won’t just inform but educate. It will allow her to combine all of the elements that make her who she is, African American female, attorney, politician, wife, mother, and family-focused community leader to advance her culture.

“I had been praying for this wonderful “God idea” for years. Just an opportunity to make a difference while providing additional income for my family. And ultimately leave a legacy for my children’s children. I think about all of the business moguls and the ideas that have revolutionized the world as we know it, and I was like, ‘Okay, God. What do you have for me?’”

The birth of Pearls & Politics is an excellent example of beauty for ashes. People had time to sit still and refocus when the world shut down due to the Covid 19 pandemic of 2020. As a result, many great and innovative ideas were born.

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During the pandemic, everything was virtual. We lived and interacted with our jobs, loved ones, and doctors via virtual platforms like Zoom and WebEx. I had the opportunity to take part in an Alpha Kappa Alpha Women in Politics forum. All attendees were A. K. As and were either currently running for office or elected officials. We discussed the current political climate, voter registration, what it meant to be a black woman in politics, and why we ran for office. It allowed black female politicians to express themselves, discussing their positions and perceptions of life as African American women in politics. The conversation was insightful and engaging. I remember thinking, ‘Man, this feels good!’” Kahalah exclaimed. “And it hit me. This needed to be a podcast.” With her God idea in hand, Kahalah started putting things in motion, and before she knew it, Pearls & Politics LLC was born.

Despite her public persona and political reputation, Kahalah sees herself starting from the bottom as she builds her brand and works to gain traction for her podcast. “So many great things have already been birthed from the Pearls & Politics. For example, we partner with a local law firm and my church to host a voter registration rally. We were able to bring the community out to meet the experts. It didn’t matter whom they were voting for. Our goal was to get people ready to go to the polls and let their vote speak for them.”

The rally was held in East St. Louis’ Jones Park. Pearls & Politics, in partnership with Sanderford & Associates and Power of Change Christian Church, created a family-friendly environment. Some vendors were available to discuss community healthcare, family food, and nutrition, as well as hear from the experts about the issues voters needed to be aware of on election day.

“The voter registration drive is just one of the many things we hope to birth from the LLC. But Pearls & Politics isn’t just political talk,” Kahalah explains. “The end goal of the podcast is the advancement of the African American woman, to give access to useful and accurate information to the African American community and communities of color. This includes discussing business and entrepreneurship, women’s and men’s health and self-care, financial health, and home ownership. These topics are important to any community but have systematically been withheld from the black communities.”

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The name Pearls & Politics isn’t just because she is affiliated with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. The name has a deeper meaning. “The name Pearls & Politics has a purpose. The pearls are of wisdom, knowledge, and information relevant to communities of color, specifically women of color. Getting good reliable information into the hands of the black community is pivotal to cultural growth and encouraging citizens to self-advocate by voting. We have covered mental health in the black community extensively. We looked at it from the black female’s perspective, the black male, and black children’s. It’s important to understand that each group needs something different. We did an entire series on financial literacy because, as a community, we have to learn to be fiscally responsible and understand how to become successful entrepreneurs and business owners and how to invest. These important pearls will help us grow and advance as a people and a community.”

“More important than anything else, the podcast is all about providing the African American community and communities of color with political information that is not misinformation,” Kahalah explains. “Studies have shown, and statistics are clear, that the black community is one of the most purposefully misled communities. The abundance of misinformation during the 2020 election was geared toward the black population. So creating a reliable outlet for information and resources is important to me. As a people, we need to be registered and mobilized. Being registered does nothing if you don’t vote.”

Launched in June of 2022, Pearls and Politics has been gaining traction all over the country and around the world. “I’m excited to see the progress we are making. I was initially nervous, but within the first six weeks, we had over a thousand followers on Facebook. It doubled in twelve weeks. The steady growth confirms the need for this kind of platform. Our podcast and Youtube shorts have been viewed in over thirty countries. The episode with senator Chris Belt received two-thousand views in seven hours!” Kahalah said with excitement.

Although Pearls & Politics is focused heavily on African American women, it is also catching the attention of male views. “We call our tribe or female viewers Political Pearls. They make up ninety percent of our viewers. But we also have male views, who currently comprise ten percent of those watching. Those are our political gents who seem to be taking notice.”

If there is one thing Kahalah has proven as a woman of faith and the people, it gets done when she sets her mind to do something. Pearls & Politics is just one episode away from taking the world by storm and changing how African American women in politics are seen by their constituents and themselves.

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“The name Pearls & Politics has a purpose. The pearls are of wisdom, knowledge, and information relevant to communities of color, specifically women of color.” Kahalah Clay, Esq. Pearls & Politics LLC www.thepearlsandpoliticspodcast.com 615-510-9186 h
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