Huami Magazine Milwaukee Jan./Feb. 2022

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M I LWAU K E E

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Jan./Feb. 2022 Volume 1 Issue 6

KB Management Milwaukee - Jan./Feb. 2022

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My Expectations and The Truth A Letter From The Editor

I would have to say that I grew up poor by world standards. There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It! I never felt like it because my mother constantly poured unconditional love into my other siblings and me. Her love wouldn’t allow me to focus on what I didn’t have or anything A Letter from the Editor I could be missing. However, as life happened, I realized that when compared to others, my experiences were more complex. Even still, I haddidn’t the opportunity overcome them. What if tomorrow arrive? All oftoyour plans, hopes

and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if One of the most important learned from my never everything that you decidedthings to putIoff until tomorrow upbringing is that the truth will always override my a rainy happened? There would be no reason to save for expectations. very first someone car that I the owned, I purchased day, and youThe could spare trouble of making forpromises. myself. It wasn’t newlast vehicle, but it was mine. Itexpired had a What if ayour opportunity seemingly fewtoday? dents,What and the tires didn’t match either. The heat or air would you do? conditioning didn’t work, and the exhaust pipe would shake like a leaf whentold I started car, probably because it was I’ve been that I the often seem like I do too much. being held inI place byIthe of aenough close hanger. Honestly, feel like am wiring not doing and I’mWith a firmall of its believer imperfections, my car was a wouldn’t beauty input my anything sight, andonI was in knowing that God me very appreciative to own Iit.sometimes wonder how life would that I couldn’t handle. be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I have found that to like be very boring. opportunity Though it seemed I drove that In carmy foropinion, all eternity, it only is a blessing thatwith isn’tme. afforded tokeep everyone. challenge survived one year I didn’t gas in A the fuel tank, to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? and I never changed the oil either. I drove it fast, and on cold If I do nothing, I fail, and I try I don’t, but instead learnit or mornings I didn’t allow it toifwarm up. Rarely did I bathe something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and inand even provide it with routine or preventative maintenance, return acquire life.first and only method of transportation before I knew it, my slowed down and shut off in the middle of the road. The best advice ever given to me happened when someone told to makemy mycar tomorrow happen but today. In doing See, me I expected to run forever, the truth is so I have pressed my to way through with Iaexpected key that only I never did anything ensure thatdoors it would. hope provided. I have also learned the difference between my car to go when I needed it to but never considered my what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with thoughtless and erratic treatment’s impact on it. I expected to as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and ride forever, but the truth is I never invested in my cars’ future. when to be quiet, because someone may get it confused I’m saying that we will only get with being arrogant. out of life what we put into it. How will we ever expect to know God Make you tomorrow if we never spend time with Him? happen today, but most My goalimportantly in life is to make win. For this it count. to happen, I must be willing to do Life is but a whisper and what iswe necessary to win and must put ourselves align in a myself position with what is true, which to hear what it is is God’s expectations. telling us.

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Terry TerryL.L.Watson Watson Editor/Founder

www.huamimagazine.com Terry L. Watson

Publisher

www.huamimagazine.com Arielle Kilgore Editor In Chief Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Ellen Richardson Allen - Deputy Editor Terry Alana L. Watson Writer Dorjea’ McClammey Writer Writers

Tonya Dixon Christopher Falls Sr. Photographer Terry L. Watson Michael Duncan Allen Photographer Alana Tamara Smith Still Shots Photography Jeuron Dove Photographer Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography Todd Youngblood Photography

To Advertise? ShawWant Photography Group Still Shots Photography Send An Email or Call Today

Who Shotya Photography huami.milwaukee@gmail.com (336)340-7844 Layout Howard Gaither Photography

Mykel Media Company Linda Bennett

mykelmedia@yahoo.com (336) 340-7844 HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication Greensboro, NC may be submitted to the editor by 2022 All Rights Reserved E-mail at terrywatson@huamimagazine.com terry.editor@yahoo.com or to Mykel Media Company, LLC P.O. Box 20102 Greensboro, NC 27420 HUAMI MAGAZINE 2014 All Rights Reserved

On The Cover

Photo by Shaw Photography Group


CONTENTS

JAN./FEB. 2022

MILWAUKEE

There Is Magic In Her Pen

Monica Montgomery

On The Cover

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KB Management Kelvena Benson

The Confidence Coach

Brian K. McNeill

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The Mobile Art Canvas

Rhonda Shaw

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Railyn Kate

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Also Featured

Tarolyn Street Meet the face and owner of Delectable Delights by Tarolyn. She is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Pensacola, FL

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Attorney Justin Camper If you are in business, you will need a business lawyer. Learn more about his journey of becoming an attorney. Indianapolis, IN

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Dr. Tiffany M. Gethers Her heart is to serve her commuity. Learn more about The 2Gethers Foundation. Dallas, TX

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Kelvena Benson KB Management

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Kelvena Benson

Kelvena Benson, also known as Kelvy B, wears many hats. She is a wife, mother of two beautiful children, a Professional Admin at a Fortune 500 Company, CEO of KB Management, and an author. KB Management Brand Operations, LLC is the official name of Kelvena’s company. She provides small business owners who are looking to fill the digital gap in brand operations and strategies with brand management. She offers a wide range of services such as creative digital content, website construction, business development, custom printing, and more. Her book, A Creative Path, is a mentor-styled guided workbook for creatives and entrepreneurs that shows them how to trust the process and adapt to change while going through their creative journey. Kelvena was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. She shares, “I was raised in a very traditional environment, where checking the boxes was the norm. I was blessed to be surrounded by a hard-working, educated Christian family. As I began to have my own family and figure out what kind of life I wanted to build for myself, the way I knew wasn’t fulfilling.” Growing up in Milwaukee, Kelvena admits, was tough. When the chance arose to see something different, she was all for it. “Finding a new place, new people, and new opportunities changed the game for me. I realized my own strength when I moved out of my city, and although I’ll always love it and have roots there, it was the best decision I could have ever made,” she shares. She relocated to Austin, TX in 2017, to pursue other opportunities and further her professional career. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. Although her entrepreneurial journey started in the beauty industry, she was constantly intrigued by business and technology. “Relocating has opened many doors for me and allowed me to further those passions, and focused on building my own branding company,” she says. Kelvena’s creative path started when she jumped off the porch and launched a cosmetics/beauty company in 2014. In 2017, she transitioned her focus to branding. “I was asked to assist various entrepreneurs and small businesses with building their brands. I started by freelancing my services and as my network grew, so did the number of inquiries. So I embraced my new lane and birthed my brand,” she says. Over the past four years, Kelvena has helped over 200 people elevate their brands with clean, professional, and modern services.


Fast forward to 2021, KB Management Brand Operations, LLC came into the mix. This part of the company focuses on small businesses and career professionals looking to enhance their brand awareness with effective brand management. “The goal of this transition is to build long-term relationships with clients while building a team of experts to help further the success of her client’s brand building,” she says. “We also expanded our business by adding short-term rentals, KB Management Stays, as an extension to the company.” What sets KB Management apart from other companies that offer similar services? Is their commitment to delivering the best experience possible. “When you come to us for assistance, we seek to build a long-term relationship to ensure your personality, purpose, and vision is embedded into your brand. While building and providing solutions to your problems, we connect you with experts, resources, and tools to further your success. Kelvena says she is inspired by the opportunity to serve others. “I’ve always been ambitious and optimistic. My biggest motivations are my children and my husband. My children are so talented, and leading by example with their Dad means the world to me. My husband and I have been together since high school and the fact he saw me for who I am today speaks volumes. He believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes,” she says. One of the biggest challenges Kelvena has overcome as an entrepreneur was trying to do it alone. She says, “I realized the team I needed was always around me, I just had to be ok with reaching out for help.”

www.kbbrandmanagement.com IG: @kbmanagement_kelvy_b FB: KB Management

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Kelvena plans to continue serving small businesses through KB Management in the future. She says she desires to employ more creatives and provide a healthy and flexible working experience. “We are adding more short-term rentals to our portfolio this year and in different locations. I am looking forward to collaborating with other amazing brands on social events and initiatives designed to educate and empower through our expertise. Additionally, I am working on my second book, with plans for its release within the next year. Besides taking over the world, I plan to elevate my kid’s brands and help them strive for everything they set out to do.” h


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The 2Gethers Foundation “Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to start a nonprofit organization.... While I didn’t really understand what that meant when I was younger, I just knew that I wanted to help those in need.” By Ellen Richardson Photos by Micheal Duncan

While some people may dedicate their lives and careers to fame or riches, there are those who follow a path towards using their God-given talents and passions to help others succeed. This is the truest story of Dr. Tiffany Gethers. She is the president and co-founder of The 2Gethers Foundation. a dual state nonprofit organization serving the Dallas Fort Worth and Chicagoland areas, that is dedicated to empowering first-generation students in the attainment of a college degree and the achievement of academic and life excellence. She shares how she found her path towards helping others at an early age. “Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to start a nonprofit organization,” said Dr. Gethers. “While I didn’t really understand what that meant when I was younger, I just knew that I wanted to help those in need. As this passion grew, another interest also developed – a love for education. I often tell people that if there were something higher than a doctorate degree, my crazy self would have probably pursued it.” As this lover of learning continued to pursue higher education, she would find out why God had given her such a fervent love for knowledge. “During my time as a doctoral student, I did a research study on the persistence and retention of firstyear, first-generation college students at Governors State University,” said Dr. Gethers. “As a first-generation college student, I was very interested in finding out what the retention rate was for college freshmen to continue to their sophomore or junior year.” After finding a considerable number of students were leaving college before obtaining a degree, Dr. Gethers decided to find a way to help improve these retention rates, particularly among at-risk student populations.

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“I wanted to help because I saw myself in these students,” said Dr. Gethers. “As someone who had overcome many of the same barriers as many of these students do, I could relate to the challenges they were facing as well. I realized the dream that I had as a little girl would involve assuring at-risk first-generation students would have access to higher education and the resources to stay the course to obtain a college degree. In my first year of college, I found out that I was pregnant. I was 18 years old; in my first semester of college, I found out that I would be a mom. While I wanted to have children someday, I was just sure that this would crush my dreams. I always wanted to go to college, was finally here and now I have to decide if I am going to leave my dream behind.” Although Dr. Gethers would walk away from a four-year university to become a young mother, this would not stop this lover of learning from pursuing higher education. “While I was living at home and was preparing to become a first-time mother, I still felt like I should be doing something to keep my dream alive,” she said. After enrolling in a local community college, the next challenge would come. “A few months into the first semester, my doctor put me on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy, so I would once again have to drop out of school.” Despite these hurdles, following the birth of her daughter, Dr. Gethers would find herself back on track. “I had an angel in the form of my mother who quit her job so that I could go back to school,” she said. Although it would take six years and a few additional hurdles, Dr. Gethers would go on to achieve her dream of obtaining a college degree. “I couldn’t have done this without my mother, who decided that allowing me to pursue my dreams was more important than her pursuing her own.” Along with support from her mother and other family members, Dr. Gethers also had help from other college professors who ensured that she had the necessary resources to finish and obtain her degree. “It was so wonderful to have this support, which is exactly what other students need.” Dr. Gethers had a desire to pay it forward. She was well equipped with adequate education, including a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Roosevelt University and a Doctor of Education from Governors State University. She set her sights on achieving the dream that began when she was a young girl, and founded The 2Gethers Foundation in 2018 along with her husband, David.

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David A. Gethers

Co-Founder and Vice President of Community Partnerships David Gethers develops strategic community partnerships and networks that increases the reach and impact of The 2Gethers Foundation’s mission to empower first-generation students to attain a college degree. Additionally, he is a sought after mentor of youth and future leaders. Driven by his authentic love for people and passion for service, he is dedicated to providing guidance on decision-making, life preparation, and sharing his personal story of life transformation to develop and inspire others. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corp. and actively assists fellow veterans with overcoming specific barriers to ease their transition. This passion drives him to also direct The 2Gethers Foundation’s student veteran programs. A native of Chicago, David earned a Bachelor’s of Arts from Governors State University in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters in Ministry Leadership from Olivet Nazarene University. “Both my husband and I were first-generation college students. We both have a desire to see others like us pursue their dreams. Research shows that these students do not receive a lot of the support needed to go to college and ultimately stay there and obtain a degree. About 90 percent of low income first-generation college students do not graduate within the first six years of college, and many of these students do not even make it to the second year due to a lack of support and finances to finish. This is why we started this community rallying organization to surround these students with the support and to help develop our next generation of leaders,” Dr. Gethers states.

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The 2Gethers Foundation provides several programs and services to enhance first-generation students’ academic, social, and career development such as scholarships for high school seniors, who will be the first in their families to attend college. To date they have awarded a total of $37,000 in scholarships. There is a mentorship program, free workshops and seminars on various topics for students and parents, as well as a mobile food pantries on college campuses. “We also go as far as sending care packages to several of our students as food insecurity on college campuses is a huge problem,” said Dr. Gethers. “Last year, we also launched a mentorship and leadership development program called Defy The Odds, where high school and college students were paired with leaders across various industries to help them set and achieve their immediate goals as well as navigate through any challenges they were faced with. This gave students a look at a successful future and the opportunity to see why it is so important to give back to their community.” Because of Dr. Gethers desire to help and serve others, many students who may have never had the opportunity to attend college will be able to. She is an excellent example of what hard work and determination look like. h

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www.2gethersfoundation.org 708-966-9491


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Delectable

Delights By Tarolyn By Terry L. Watson Photos by Christopher Fails Sr.

It’s one thing to have a sweet tooth, but to have it satisfied is where the real pleasure comes in. If you happen to be in the Pensacola community of Florida, there is one company that is sure to meet your delight. That company is Delectable Delights by Tarolyn Inc., a home-based cottage bakery. Delectable Delights offers both traditional and custom cakes, as well as a wide variety of treats. Owned and founded by Tarolyn Street, they can create anything for such occasions as baby showers, birthday parties, weddings, and more. Tarolyn is the true definition of a savvy businesswoman. She launched her company with a determination to succeed and set an example to her children of what hard work will do for them. She has been married for 12 years to her husband, David, who she describes as her business partner, prayer warrior, best friend, and counselor. Together they shepherd a blended family of six children and seven Godchildren. Tarolyn says the truth is she did not want to launch her business. “I enrolled into culinary arts school right out of high school, but I had so much going on in my life, including being homeless, that I did not finish. I would make cakes for family and friends, but I wasn’t interested in making cakes and treats full-time. My focus changed, and I enrolled in school to become a licensed massage therapist. I was running from my calling. I was scared. Scared of failure and scared of not being accepted. I was also scared of not knowing what to do. I had these emotions even after winning third place in the state of Florida VICA Commercial Baking and Pastries Competition. However, things changed one day when I heard God say, “I gave you a talent, so what are you going to do with it?” I told God if He’s pushing me out here, I know I have no choice but to move with His plan, and so I did,” she says.

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On February 11, 2015, her company opened for business. Tarolyn says she was referred by her classmate, Shirley Johnson, to a customer who needed her services. Shirley was already familiar with Tarolyn’s sweet creations, and things took off once the connection was made. “From that weekend until this very day, I have soared beyond what I could ever have thought,” she says. Tarolyn says what she loves most about her business is being able to touch the lives of others with something as simple as a cake or treat. “To be able to build relationships and bonds with people and see the looks on their faces when they see what my hands have created. Their faces light up with excitement. This makes it all worth it.” With all that she has endured in life, Tarolyn continues to credit God with being her source and strength. “God is my biggest inspiration. Without Him, I’m absolutely nothing,” she shares. Tarolyn credits her husband and kids for pushing and motivating her to be the best every day. “On days when I need that extra push, they give it to me. They provide the drive and the confidence I need to go further.” Additionally, she acknowledges Derric and Valiencia, a couple in her community who she says exemplifies what genuine love for community looks like. “I have seen them effortlessly care for the children on the dance team as if the members were their own kids. I’ve witnessed them take money out of their pockets to make sure no one is left behind,” she says. For those who may be considering starting a business like Tarolyn, she offers the following advice. “Be confident in yourself and know your worth from the beginning. Even in knowing your worth, remain humble and learn something from every avenue of your life.”

850-375-3417 delectablesbyt@yahoo.com Facebook @ Delectable Delights by Tarolyn

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As the future continues to look bright for her and Delectable Delights by Tarolyn, she hopes to become more involved in her community by giving back and serving. One way Tarolyn plans to accomplish this is to shine a light on more small businesses and help them grow and become more successful. That is what love looks like. To learn more about Delectable Delights by Tarolyn, please visit them on Facebook, or contact them directly. h


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Justin Camper Law, LLC By Terry L Watson Photos Provided by Justin Camper Attorney Justin Camper says his life’s mission is to be a “Champion of Purpose”. He believes God created everyone for a purpose to do something to make the world better. Justin is known from his clients for being a genuine and passionate advocate, who goes above and beyond to provide the best results possible. He is a small business and trademark attorney located in Northwest Indiana. Justin completed his educational journer through Purdue University Northwest and obtained an undergraduate degree in Political Science. He received his law degree from Valparaiso University Law School. Next, Justin began practicing law as a Lake County Prosecutor in Indiana. He worked in the Prosecutor Office for one and a half years before transtioning to several law firms ranging in the areas of business, criminal defense, civil litigation, and municipal law. He also briefly worked as an Administrative Law Judge for unemployment. Today, he works in his own practice, Justin Camper Law, LLC, which he started in August 2020. He also works with Stidham Legal, P.C. as a contract attorney assisting with criminal cases. Within his practice, Justin says his main area of law is to provide small business legal services. These include, but are not limited to, LLC/nonprofit formation, contracts (drafting and reviewing), online legal protection, trademarks, copyrights, and business litigation.

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Justin shares he knows the process of hiring an attorney is often accompanied with many questions, and that is why he firm works to ensure every clients understands the services they are being provided with. “The first step is for us to work with our clients and come up with a plan to get the results they need. Through our understanding of the law and your understanding of the circumstances, we will craft a path to success,” he says. As an attorney, Justin shares he loves being able to help small business owners fulfill their dreams. “I am a small business owner, so I know what it is like to have a dream and vision of building a business. It gives me so much passion to help future entrepreneurs and current business owners protect and grow their business using legal strategies from my firm,” he says. “I’m inspired and motivated by small business owners who pursue an idea that helps change the lives of people. My vision is to live in a world where people can use their gifts and talents to create products and services that enable them to live in their God-given purpose.” Justin shares he truly grateful for all that he has encountered as an attorney, including the many ups and dows. He also shares if he could change anything about his journey, he would have focused more on business law from law school and taken on opportunities that would have given him experience for the type of law he practices now.,” he says.

www.justincamperlaw.com 219-281-6166 Facebook: Attorney Justin Camper Instagram @justincamperlaw

To anyone who is thinking of pursuing a career as an attorney, specifically business attorney, Justin offers some helpful advice. He says, “Fearlessly pursue your goal. If you want to be a small business attorney, do your best in law school and make great relationships with your colleagues, professors, lawyers, and businesses in your area.” In the future, Justin hopes to eventually expand his law firm and focus on different practice areas such as real estate and entertainment law. He also would like to advocate for small businesses and nonprofits continually through the government. Additionally, he hopes to create and invest into his own small businesses and nonprofits that are designed to help transform people’s lives. To learn more about Attorney Justin Camper, please contact him directly or visit his website. h

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MAGAZINE

Cutest Baby

Railyn Kate The daughter of Raisha Mercer and Dexter Bozeman

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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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The Sales Confidence Coach By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Brian K. McNeill Brian K. McNeill of Charlotte, NC, is Brian K. McNeill is a true champion in the arena of “how to sell”. He has accumulated over 30 years of study and practice of professional selling. By his own count he has read over 700 books on Sales, Sales Management and Self Development. Brian has produced coaching programs, published several Best-Selling Books, and is committed to helping and serving others. The loving, caring husband and father is also a proud veteran of the US Army. Brian is the founder of The Sales Confidence Academy. In this capacity, he provides training and certification for entrepreneurs. He is the current president of Virtual Team Network, a global online networking organization. Brian exhibited signs of effectively communicating with almost anyone at an early age. He shares, “I entered the wonderful world of professional selling at the age of 23. That was 31 years ago. I soon came across some books about selling. After reading the first book, my interest grew, and before long, I had read several hundred books about sales. Some of the other topics were about Sales Management and Personal Development. The more I read, the better I became at selling. I eventually became a sales manager and my job. Sales and the knowledge and understanding of sales seemed easy to me, and soon I decided to start my own sales training company. Over the years, thousands of salespeople and entrepreneurs have benefited greatly from my sales training workshops, classes, and platform.” Today, he is recognized as Brian K. McNeill, the Sales Confidence Coach. In this role, he teaches entrepreneurs and salespeople what to say and do, to ensure they are confident and prosperous in selling themselves and their services. His services include Sales Coaching, Sales Training, Sales Speaking, and Sales Workshops.

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Some additional products include personalized and on-demand/self-paced sales training programs. He also has the Basic Essential Sales Training (BEST), a recorded seven-session curriculum covering the basic essentials entrepreneurs must know and the seven reasons why a client will say yes to you and your services. After completing the course, the entrepreneurs will have the correct language and confidence to sell their services successfully. There is also Get Profitable/Stay Profitable (GPSP), which includes everything in (BEST) plus a curriculum that teaches the entrepreneurs what to do with their time. Then finally, there is the Sales Confidence Course, the complete and updated course on How to Sell Your Services in today’s marketplace. One of the books that Brian has published is The Shortcut! - The Fastest route to Selling You and Your Services so that you earn more money than ever before! Another book he has published is Asking for the Money - How anyone can close more Sales, even you! Another publication is a children’s book, Why Rhinos Make Great Sales People - Featuring Mr. Randall the Rhino. Many of Brian’s typical clients are service-based entrepreneurs, Coaches and Consultants, Insurance and Financial Services Professionals, Attorneys, Accountants, and Bookkeepers. Brian has also founded the M.E.N (Male Empowerment Networks of Charlotte). This organization is a Support Discussion group that meets virtually twice a month and has been doing so since August 2013. “We know that men need men, and teenage men need men. So we provide a safe and transparent space for men to talk about anything.,” he says.

Brian K. McNeill The Sales Confidence

www.briankmcneill.online

Brian says he loves it when people take what he teaches them and earn more money as a result. “It brings me joy. I believe that God has uniquely gifted and qualified me to help people sell themselves and their services. My work is a ministry, and I honor God by helping people sell better,” he says. Moving forward, Brian shares he will continue to make his workshops available, especially through online courses, so that people can take the training on demand. To learn more about Brian K. McNeill, please visit his website. h

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Monica Montgomery

The Happy Pen Creative Writing Services

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Monica Montgomery

For Monica Montgomery, her life has happened by way of the right opportunities. Writing is something that Monica realized a love for early in life. The East Saint Louis, MO native was raised by a single mother and is the youngest in the family of four. She grew up and still resides in East St. Louis and shares she was blessed to be exposed to the greatness that East St. Louis is known for. “I come from a creative family, so writing was a natural path for me. I love reading stories about mysterious people and magical places. However, it wasn’t until I wrote my first short story for the Young Author’s contest in the 5th grade that I believed I could create those people and places. The entire class was asked to write a story for the contest. I complained to my sister that I didn’t know what to write about. Annoyed, she said the most random thing she could think of. “Write about The Backwards City of Page.” She rattled it off as if it was a real place, and I should have known where and what it was. Then she said, “It’s where everything is backward!” With her help, I wrote my first piece of fiction. I was hooked from that day on,” Monica says. Monica is the owner of The Happy Pen Creative Writing Services. Her company offers writing seminars, coaching sessions, and commercial writing for websites and personal projects. Monica received a scholarship to Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She completed her Bachelor’s of Arts, English Literature, and music minor at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and received her MFA, Fiction Writing from Lindenwood University, St. Charles. In 2020 she was selected to participate in the East St. Louis Urban Education Teaching Residency Program. The program was an intense ten-month accelerated Master’s degree program and helped Monica earn a Master’s in Elementary Education from National Louis University. Today, Monica works as a first-grade teacher at Wyvetter Younge School of Excellence in East St. Louis. Professionally, she has written, directed, and produced several Christian plays and skits for her church’s youth group and spent the last fifteen years volunteering and mentoring youth in dramatic arts.

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Her first short story was published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, “Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul,” in 2006. She has written her first novel series, “An Everlasting Love”. The first two books, An Everlasting Love: Concrete Soul and The Summer of Carlos, are available for purchase on Amazon. com, and the third book of the series will be released in June 2022. Additionally, she writes for I Am East St. Louis the Magazine and serves as V.P. at Top Dog Studios, a St. Louis-based independent film group. Monica says what she enjoys most about writing is the ability to create a place of learning and escape simultaneously. “I love reading because I get to travel to far-off places and meet people from every walk of life and beyond. When I write, I don’t just want to tell a story; I want to create a space where the author, reader, and character meet in a harmonious ebb and flow. A place where one doesn’t exist without the other. The highest praise is when the reader or audience refers to a character as independent, free-thinking. I’ve had people walk up to me and say they have a love-hate relationship with one of my characters. The word that stuck out to me was relationship. As an educator, I love when a student gets it. Whether it be a first-grader learning to count by ten or someone taking up the challenge of writing, the light in their eyes is the same. It’s like a door they weren’t aware of opens, and they are breathing for the first time. It’s amazing to watch,” she says. Like anyone else, Monica says she could spend hours talking about her wounds, woes, and regrets, but it wouldn’t change anything. Ultimately, it has been her trust in God that has carried her throughout her life. She shares, “In my late twenties, I was diagnosed with cancer. I have been in remission for fourteen years now, but it was a wake-up call. I could no longer wait for the life I wanted. I had to go out and get it. I never imagined myself as an author and a teacher. When I entered the Young Author’s contest in 5th grade, my teacher said she believed she had heard the story before and accused me of cheating. I knew I hadn’t, but it didn’t matter. I won second place in the district. The first prize went to a 6th grader. My teacher never apologized. and the damage was done. I have no children of my own, but I realized that my words and what I create with them are just as important to me as a child would be. Being honest meant exposing my “baby” to the world and subjecting it to public scrutiny and rejection. Any parent can tell you that hearing that your child isn’t good enough is painful, to say the least. To my surprise and excitement, readers are my writings, and I continue to trust God.”

“I love reading because I get to travel to far-off places and meet people from every walk of life and beyond. When I write, I don’t just want to tell a story; I want to create a space where the author, reader, and character meet in a harmonious ebb and flow.”

Monica says the one thing she would have changed about her journey in life would be publishing an essay back in high school. “I believe it would have gotten me into professional writing much sooner. Then again, would I have gained the experience that I think contributed to the person I am today? Destinations are great, but life is in the journey,” she says. h

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The Moving Canvas Mobile Paint Party

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Rhonda Shaw “I asked God to show me my purpose, and He gave me my son. I asked God to show me how to build and move forward with my gifts and talents with purpose, and He gave me The Moving Canvas.” Rhonda Shaw is a self-taught artist who was born and raised in Nashville TN. She is also the owner and operator of The Moving Canvas Mobile Paint Party and the creator of all Artbyrhonda products and merchandise. She is also a single mother to a remarkable young man. Jayden, whom she says will be the heir to her empire. The Moving Canvas is a mobile Paint Party. With her company, Rhonda creates paintings and themes for her clients. She provides all painting supplies, including paint, pre-drawn canvases, brushes, easels, pallets, and aprons. “I instruct on an intimate and personable level, with my clients loved ones, family, friends, and coworkers,” she says. Rhonda offers freelance art and painting services with her other brand, Artbyrhonda products and merchandise. Additionally, she does commissioned paintings and custom art merchandise like t-shirts, totes, coffee mugs, and wine glasses. Rhonda launched her company, The Moving Canvas, in April 2017. “A friend of mine asked me to host a sip and paint for her birthday. I drew ten flowers on canvases, brought paint, brushes, easels, and aprons. As I instructed, I also painted along with everyone. We took pictures and posted them on social media. I had no idea that anyone else would want to do the same thing in their own home. The rest is history,” Rhonda says.

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“I asked God to show me my purpose, and He gave me my son. I asked God to show me how to build and move forward with my gifts and talents with purpose, and He gave me The Moving Canvas.”

Rhonda says she loves revealing the artist that inside of people. “There are those who would never pick up a paintbrush—that is where I come in. I help to reveal creators and artists. Art is anything you create, not necessarily what the world sees,” she says. The one thing that keeps Rhonda going is the kids. “A Lot of kids do not realize the importance of art. I want to change that because art and creativity give purpose. Just knowing I assisted in helping them create their very own masterpiece they can take home and be proud of is everything to me, along with creating for people and bringing their vision to life.” Rhonda says her success has only happened because God has allowed for it. She advises other aspiring business owners to pray, have faith in God, and know that their clients, customers, and support team play a significant role in your business. “Talent and experience are just dreams until you put in the work and move,” Rhonda said. As Rhonda continues to serve the Nashville community, she has plans to take The Moving Canvas global. Soon, her brand will be available in every major city, and Rhonda is looking forward to working with other like-minded individuals who possess a natural love for art. To learn more about The Moving Canvas, please visit their website. h

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www.art-by-rhonda.com


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