Huami Magazine Mississippi April/May 2024

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Courage. Focus. Will. Success Requires Them All

A Letter From The Editor

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

A Letter from the Editor

When someone says that, it feels as if they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders; for me, it sounds as if everything that is going on in their lives is boggled down into one area. It also sounds very heavy. If it’s problems and troubles in their haul, that could be burdensome. If it’s the cares and needs of others, their load may be delightful and hauled with great joy and appreciation.

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?

Where does your life align with the two types of carriers mentioned? Are you hauling with a heart of gratitude or with a funky attitude? I believe that God looks at how we handle what life presents us with. I also believe that it’s easy to lose our focus when things are seemingly piling on top of one another. As I have been blessed to get older, it often feels that things don’t always seem to get easier, and if I can be honest, I think I am just getting better at handling them.

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.

When we find ourselves boggled down with life, we must remember that it takes courage to continue. It takes courage to see beyond the troubles. When we find ourselves in such situations, we must also have faith in God’s word that things will get better. Remember that God allows us to experience both prosperity and adversity, good and bad, and there is a purpose for them all. Because He is sovereign, we shall not question Him; instead, we should seek Him for endurance and strength to finish the trek.

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.

In order for us to enjoy the fruits of our labors, patience must be involved. We must get control of our focus and eliminate the distractions pulling us away from our purpose. God blesses us when we exhibit faith, and it is impossible to please God without faith. Oftentimes, we can’t see or may not know what is coming, but if God promised it, by faith, it will happen. Finally, we must not be anxious about anything. Every time I have tried to rush God’s hand, nothing happened. Yet, every time I have waited on God to do what He said He would do, blessings have appeared. Our success requires us to be courageous, have faith, and be patient throughout the journey.

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.

Terry L. Watson

4 4 November/December 2014 Want To Advertise? Call (336)340-7844 Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography Shaw Photography Group Still Shots Photography Who Shotya Photography Layout Mykel Media Company Linda Bennett 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 (336) 340-7844 On The Cover Photo by Shaw Photography Group
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Beauty Direct Studios

She had aspirations of becoming a Psychologist, however life had other things in store for her. Learn more about her fitness journey. Brooklyn, NY

She knows the path to someone’s heart; it is through their stomach. Learn more about her cooking skills. Cleveland, OH

There is something very beautiful brewing in the southeastern community of Atlanta. Learn more about MiZo Coffee Co. Conyers, GA

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Donna Knight
The Cover
Jennifer Tidwell Marlessia Fontaine Yancey Becoming A Care Giver Terry L. Watson Poetess
24 40
Maxine Moncrieffe
29 20
Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Lola Knight S.T.A.R.S. Perforning Arts Tamika Joy Russell
Lena Di

Beauty Direct Studios

Donna Knight of Ripley, MS, says that at an early age, she realized her calling in life, is motivating others. For the last 18 years, she has enjoyed a career in the healthcare industry, and in 2004, she launched a nonprofit organization, Shades of Elegance, geared towards uplifting and empowering young women. “Starting this non-profit sparked a fire inside of me, and the work we did with young women made me more passionate about being an ambassador for my community,” she says.

Donna obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information from the University of Mississippi and her Master’s Degree in Public Health from Jackson State University. Right after college, she met the love of her life, Lee, whom she has been married to for 15 years. Together, they have four children.

Today, Donna is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and the owner of Beauty Direct Studios. The idea of Beauty Direct Studios came about in 2019. However, it wasn’t until 2022 that the doors of her business opened to the public. “In 2005, my sister, Tamico, and I launched a makeup business. So, in essence, I have been in business since then. However, I transformed the business model into a beauty supply in 2022. As women of color, we should be able to purchase our beauty supplies from people who look like us. I had gone into a beauty supply store with bars on the window, and many of their products were behind the shelves, and I had to ask someone to get them for me. That experience sucked, and I made up my mind to create one that represented me and would be welcoming to people who looked like me,” she says.

As women of color, we should be able to purchase our beauty supplies from people who look like us.
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Beauty Direct Studios is an independent, woman-owned and operated beauty spa and wellness center. There is a traditional side that has hair bundles and weaves, and there is a component that offers all-natural products such as skin care, hair care, and products free of chemicals, dyes, and parabens. About 80% of these products are made by other women of color. “We work to ensure that the beauty products we sell are of the highest quality and owned and operated by other small businesses. Many of the products are exclusive, and you can’t find them at WalMart or Amazon. You must come into our store to get them,” she says. Even more, Donna has narrowed her focus to catering to individuals who are seeking products to enhance their all-natural experience.

When asked what she loves most about her business, Donna says it is the feedback from her clients. “I have put so much effort into creating a place for women, specifically women of color, to find the products they desire and need. When people come into the store and are happy about what they see, it gives me the most gratification. Some ask if my location is a store, a school, or a salon; to be quite honest, it is all the above, as I strive to address my client’s needs from various perspectives,” she says.

Donna says there have been many people who have impacted her life and career the most. She adds that she strives to learn something from everyone she encounters. “Life is a lifelong journey of learning, and everyone has something to offer, whether good or bad. I want to learn something new every day, so I read often and constantly educate myself about the things involved in my life and career.” Mississippi -April/May 2024 8

Opening her store has come with its own set of unique challenges. Donnas confesses that Beauty Direct Studios has caused her to say things and do things she never thought of doing. “I know I am being prepared for the next level. When I started my business, I only wanted to cater to local business owners. I have encountered things that make me want to cry and second-guess myself. I know they have come to make me better and make me resilient. More than anything, it is confirming that I am on the right path, and I needed that. I also refuse to quit and give up,” she says.

For those who may follow a path like hers, Donna’s advice is to make sure you are doing something that aligns with your spirit. “Check your “why”. If your why isn’t clearly defined, you will not be fulfilled. You must also be very passionate about what you are doing.” Moving forward, Donna plans to do the things that God leads her to do. “The door is wide open, and when the spirit tells me what to do, I will know,” she says.

To learn more about Beauty Direct Studios, please visit their website.

Beauty Direct Studios 509 Stateline Rd W Southaven, MS 38671 901-713-0793 h

MiZo Coffee Co. Coffee. Community. Love

There is something beautiful brewing in the southern town of Conyers, GA. Whether you are a resident or traveling into one of the southeastern’s most thriving communities, a delicious cup of java and knowing where to find it is essential. Fortunately, there is a reticent and calming place, designed explicitly for coffee lovers.

MiZo Coffee Co. is not your average coffee shop. Owner Marlessia Fontaine Yancey had a little more in mind while building her business than just brewing coffee. Her goal was to prepare a place where people could meet, socialize, and enjoy great coffee and delicious, locally-made pastries. Even more, she desired to create an experience for her customers that would allow them to relax and unwind, even if only for the time it takes to consume one cup or two. After placing your order, have a seat, as each cup is served table side. A space is also available for reservations, perfect for groups who would like to conduct private events and more.

Community, faith, and family are the cornerstones Marlessia had in mind while building her brand. She adds, “MiZo Coffee Co. is a ministry. It’s about God. We offer more than just hot and iced beverages. MiZo Coffee Co. is a place where the aroma of coffee wafts in the air and arouses the senses. While enjoying our delicious coffee, I hope that we are able to evoke memories of childhood and family with our clients.”

While she calls Conyers home, Marlessia is originally from Martinsville, Virginia. She is a mother of two and has three grandchildren. She has lived an eventful life, which involved working in Corporate America, and managing hundreds of people. She has also traveled the world, but confesses that her true calling is serving others. Marlessia says “Having a relationship with God is very important. Being able to support my family and positively impact my community is also important, and MiZo Coffee Co. affords me the opportunity to do both.”

Having a relationship with God is very important.  Being able to support my family and positively impact my community is also important, and MiZo Coffee Co. affords me the opportunity to do both.

Marlessia’s vision began as a dry distribution company providing consumers with high-quality packaged coffee. The chosen name for her company, MiZo, is a combination of Mila and Zoie, her two granddaughters. MiZo Coffee Co. also honors Marlessia’s parents. With tradition and legacy at the forefront, Marlessia promised her father that she would continue what she started. “My father would say, ‘Success is in the double-digits’. That was something I wouldn’t fully get until later,” she says.

Marlessia wanted to capture a time when family and community relied on each other; she also wanted to capture an experience that brought you back to happier times. She initially thought about operating a coffee truck, but the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Marlessia decided to repurpose the vehicle but kept her focus on her promise to her father, which was to open a coffee shop one day. “We had a soft opening on December 18th, 2022, which was also my 55th birthday. Someone at the opening asked me how old I was. When I replied 55, he shouted double nickel, as my father would say. I believe that’s what he meant when he told me that success was in the double nickels,” she says.

Nestled in a shopping strip located on Sigman Road, a large “Yes, We’re Open” sign stands in front of MiZo’s, welcoming each customer. On the inside, Marlessia’s family is included in every element, from the large portrait of her parents on one side of the wall to the portrait of her granddaughters Milo and Zoie on the other. “You won’t be able to ride by slowly and look in the shop, that’s by design,” Marlessia explains. “I wanted people to be able to come inside and relax. Once you’re in and you’re seated, you can see out, but someone riding by won’t be able to see in. This is achieved by one-way vision window treatments. On the outside, patrons see eye-pleasing pictures, like those with various shades of coffee and lattes, from dark to light with the captions. “I thought of individuals who may have been victims of domestic violence. No one wants to constantly be looking over their shoulder. MiZo is a safe space. Mizo features a calm décor, soft jazz playing in the background, low enough that patrons can hold conversations without having to raise their voices, and gentle enough that a person can sit by themselves and listen to soothing music while they sip their coffee.”

MiZo also showcases Marlessia’s family-inspired menu. For breakfast, one can order “TheMayrann”, a breakfast sausage or bacon croissant with egg and cheese named for her mother, Mary Ann. There is also the “Bitty” a sausage or bacon biscuit with egg and cheese. “Bitty” is a nickname given to her father as a baby, short for “Itty Bitty”. Her father was born prematurely. He carried that name until high school. The “Itty” was dropped, and he was called “Bitty” until he passed at age 77. For lunch, she offered the “Big Brubby” hamburger with the works. It was inspired by her older brother. The “Lil Brubby” is inspired by her younger brother, who liked a simple burger. It is a plain burger served on a bun. There is also the “Sister/ Sister,” which is a chicken salad served with crackers, a slightly lighter option than the chicken salad served on a croissant. Sister/Sister was put on the menu for Marlessia and her sister. Mississippi -April/May 2024 14

Marlessia’s relationship with God, her faith, and her walk are evident in how she treats the people who visit MiZo. “Brokenness comes to MiZo for healing,” she says. Imagine an old-school teacher’s chalkboard with pens and sticky notes instead of chalk and erasers in the coffee shop for people to leave inspirational messages. Personal “Post-it” notes line the tray for people to write inspirational quotes or words of encouragement. “A person may be spiritually led to go to the board to pick a note just for them. A note that reads something uplifting, something powerful. You never know who will need it.”

In today’s economy, there are few places where you can get good gourmet coffee and affordable food options at modest prices. MiZo Coffee Co. is the exception. “People have questioned why my prices are so low or how I make money with such low prices. I price my items so everyone can come and experience MiZo,” she says. “Owning my company is not about getting rich, it’s about community. It’s a ministry. As MiZo grows, the economy should grow. As I add more items to the menu, I may raise my prices just a little, but we will grow together as a community.”

In keeping in step with the Conyers community, Marlessia opens MiZo for gatherings and workshops. There’s “Coffee with a Cop,” which is an opportunity for the community to talk to local police and express concerns and issues such as crime and safety. These gatherings allow both parties to get to know each other and forge relationships. Additionally, MiZo invites local politicians and state representatives to connect with their constituency and answer questions.

Although MiZo is Black-owned, Marlessia has a diverse customer base that she refers to as family. “I love my customers, and I treat them as family. We are all part of the same community, and I am committed to supporting other locallyowned businesses. The Pastries, Muffins, Cheese, Danishes, and Croissants that I sell are bought from local suppliers. However, the pound cakes are my creations,” she says. “This includes the banana pudding pound cake, the Almond Rum pound cake, and the blueberry-lemon pound cake. They are made with love, and I want every bite to evoke a memory of that mother, grandmother, or auntie’s homemade pound cake,” she says. Mississippi -April/May 2024 16

As the future unfolds, there are a lot of great things happening at MiZo Coffee Co. They have recently secured an agreement with a major medical system in Conyers that will allow the Mizo Coffee Co. brand to be available in more places. Marlessia is very excited about this growth, and with it comes a need for additional support, and that is where Marlessia is very particular about how her brand is represented. She adds, “MiZo is a great environment to work in, but a person must reflect my mission and vision. I look for the best personality for MiZo, and I want them to be kind and people-oriented. They must love people and possess a heart to serve.”

During the first year of operations at MiZo Coffee Co., Marlessia shared her focus was on stability and connecting with the community. Going forward, she has her sights set on expanding and continuously improving. While their existing line of premium coffees and pastries has set the standard, Marlessia has plans for more. Stop by their location in Conyers and enjoy the love and warmth that MiZo Coffee Co. provides. If you would like to have MiZo Coffee at home, that is very possible, as they can ship anywhere in the world.


Mila and Zoie
425 Sigman Road NW Conyers, GA 30012

Stars Performing Arts Inc

It makes perfect sense for Tamika Joy Harris Russell to be a polarizing member of her community of Chesapeake, VA. Growing up in Occoquan, VA, her young mind was impressed upon by leaders, activists, homeowners, homemakers, and faith-talking and faith-walking individuals. She was taught to dream big and that life is what you make it. Now, as an adult, Tamika has committed her life to service.

Tamika describes herself as a child of God, first and foremost. Her anointing translates her voice, as she has worked as a national recording artist and sung at venues worldwide. She has enjoyed a career spanning over 20 years in the music industry, which involves being a Professional Singer and Songwriter, the former CEO of Celebrity Status Entertainment, and the Co-Owner of Vinyl Music Group. She shares, “I started singing in church at the young age of three. My great-aunt, whom I consider my grandma, put me in a chair on the pulpit, and I loved to see people smiling and cheering me on. That experience boosted my confidence, and I performed without fear.

She has been married for 13 years and has six beautiful children (three boys and three girls) and three grandchildren. Collectively, they are known as The Russell Hustle Krue. In addition to leading her family, Tamika is the founder and president of Stars Performing Arts Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization (Shining Through Adversities Reaching Success).

Stars Performing Arts Inc. provides individuals with hardships and or challenges a platform to shine in the arts. Tamika also owns Joy’s Academy, LLC, GoWomen, Tammy Lynn’s Heart, and Tamika Joy, the brand. Joy’s Academy focuses on teaching wellness, life skill building, media, and music. GoWomen is the first fintech bank powered by VISA for women of color. Their products include debit cards, financial tips, and credit repair. Tammy Lynn’s Heart sells health products and more.

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Photos Provided by Tamika
“I started singing in church at the young age of three. My great-aunt, whom I consider my grandma, put me in a chair on the pulpit, and I loved to see people smiling and cheering me on. That experience boosted my confidence, and I performed without fear.”

Like all her other skill sets, entrepreneurship was passed down from Tamika’s mother. She says her mom would send her into the town to pass Avon books out. She recalls how her great-aunt cleaned homes and conducted events and parties for others. Seeing how they lived and having access to an active and productive life as a child encouraged Tamika to dream and strive for more.

Family is very important to Tamika. Her faith and relationship with God are also important. “The Lord has impacted my life and career in so many ways. Working hard to get to where I am, I know it only happened because of the love and protection from God. He gets all the glory,” she says. Additionally, Tamika credits William Crews and Tony Jackson for always believing in her. Her appreciation extends to Pam McMillon, Raenell Williams, Alisa Thornton, Denise Reubel, and Tisha Johnson. She states they have always been in her corner and supported her career.

In a male-dominated industry, Tamika faced numerous hurdles in getting her talents and gifts noticed. Despite the pressure to conform, she never compromised her integrity. Even when business and personal relationships didn’t go as planned, Tamika’s resilience, guided by her faith, ensured she would overcome. Her experiences have taught her valuable lessons, and her advice to others on a similar journey is to never give up. “Learn the business, hone your craft, and always remain a student,” she advises.

Looking ahead, Tamika’s plans are rooted in her commitment to her community. She intends to continue sharing her gift of singing with the world, recording more music in the studio, and performing. As a businesswoman, she navigates the sector with confidence. Her dedication to serving her community through Stars Performing Arts Inc. remains steadfast, and she envisions forging successful partnerships with other influential women for GoWomen, a testament to her unwavering commitment to empowering others.

To learn more about Tamika and her programs, please visit her website. Mississippi -April/May 2024 22

Learn More About My Experience of Being A Caregiver For My Mother

CHAPTER ONE: What Do We Do Now?

I can remember the day just as if it was today. My mother had suffered an Ischemic Stroke nearly four months ago, and it took her independence and her ability to communicate and left her paralyzed on the right side of her body. Within the previous 120 days, she had visited three different rehabilitation facilities, and we had reached the point in her recovery process that required our family to make a very difficult decision.

While in rehab, Mom didn’t make a lot of progress. Her ability to speak and her speech was measured very low, as she suffered from Aphasia. (A disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these areas are on the left side of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury. - Even more, she didn’t make a lot of progress in physical therapy and still required some assistance with every physical need. Our family all agreed that we didn’t want Mom to continue to reside in the Skilled Nursing Facility, so preparations were made for her to come home and to my home, to be more specific.

Photo Provided by Adobe Stock Photos
Yet, there was much more that my family and I would be tasked with doing, and we were thrust into the role of caregiver without any formal training or experience. The only tools and resources I had available to assist me were my unwavering love for my mother and a Godly assignment to honor her.

Coming to my home and providing accommodations for my mother’s new physical and emotional needs was something that I never imagined that I would ever have to do. Yes, my mother had new emotional needs, as she was still adapting to her new style of life, a style that depended on someone for everything she needed. At that time, I could only imagine how difficult that was for my mother, a woman who, up until the morning she suffered her stroke, was always helping anyone who needed help and putting all of her needs aside. If I could try to accurately describe the level of my mother’s independence before her brain injury, my best description would be of a servant and someone who refused to be still and rest until everyone else was taken care of.

What Do We Do Now?

The day finally arrived for my mom to come to her new home. As a family, my siblings had devised a plan to care for her. This also involved working with a reputable home care agency. With their assistance, my mother’s basic care needs would be met. All that I expected to do was coordinate the scheduling of their visits and administer my mother’s medicine, which would also involve insulin injections. We had plans in place to assist our mother with getting to the bathroom and managing things of that nature. I don’t consider myself to be a professional chef, but well before my mother’s stroke, she’d developed a love for my cooking, so I felt comfortable in that category. Yet, there was much more that my family and I would be tasked with doing, and we were thrust into the role of caregiver without any formal training or experience. The only tools and resources I had available to assist me were my unwavering love for my mother and a Godly assignment to honor her. Looking back on the previous 120 days, to even the day I got the call that my mother and best friend had suffered a stroke, and fast forward to the day my mother came to live in my home, my life would never be the same.

Welcome to the world of caregiving.

I decided to share my experience as a full-time caregiver for my mother to consult, console, and inform other families who may be going through a similar situation. As a son, caring for my mother never feels like work; if so, it is a labor of love. Please continue to follow this message, Becoming A Caregiver, in Huami Magazine. I hope that sharing my experience will help others. From one caregiver to the next, God Bless You! h

Mississippi - April/May 2024

Learn More About My Experience of Being A Caregiver For My Mother

CHAPTER TW0: Think Fast and Learn As You Go!

As a single man, a single, mature, grown man who had enjoyed living alone, I now found myself sharing my home with my mother. I know she never imagined it would come to this, as I had asked her on many occasions prior to her suffering an Ischemic Stroke to move in with me, but she always refused. That is just who she is, always holding on to her independence.

With the help of my brother, we began to care for Mom. All of her medications, we had to learn fast how to administer them. This included insulin injections. We also had to learn how to prepare her meals and wash her clothes. All of the things that an independent person does for themselves on a daily basis, my mother now needed assistance, and her children would be the ones to give it to her.

Seeing my mother in a disabled nature was truly heartbreaking. My mother is highly intelligent, and all of her children and friends were blessed to benefit from the therapeutic conversations with her. My mother was a great talker and an even better listener. Now, due to the savageness of the stroke, she was almost speechless and struggled to get words out. The inability to communicate effectively frustrated her, so much so that she would often burst into tears when she couldn’t express what she wanted to. Yes, it frustrated me also to see her in this condition, but I was determined to be a voicebox for her. I am her son, and having thousands of conversations with my mother would pay huge dividends. I had learned to know what my mother’s facial expressions meant, and I felt as if I understood how she thought. More than anything, I had the patience to work with her, and I was there for it.

As my mother now resided in my home, this meant that my other siblings, her friends, and other family members would have to come there to visit Mom. There was no shortage of visitors either, and Mom, in her sophisticated ways, would only allow visitors when she felt suitable and comfortable enough for them. If her hair wasn’t done, there were no visitors. If she wasn’t dressed well, no visitors. And getting dressed meant that someone, such as me, my brother, or another caregiver, would have to dress. We had to think fast and learn as we went along because my mother’s care and well-being hung in the balance.

On visitation days, Mom always seemed very excited, especially when she knew and approved of who was coming. It’s not that she had a problem with anyone; I learned that she had developed a level of isolation, and to be quite honest, she didn’t really care to talk to a lot of people, only a small and select few, many of whom she had been in contact with in the months and days before the stroke. What amazed me more than anything was how her friends would respond to seeing my mother’s new level of dependency. Before, she was always doing for others: cooking, cleaning, giving, talking, and listening. That was who she was. Now, she sat silently, with a modest stare, a little confused, a little embarrassed maybe, scared, but remarkably, still in control of what she wanted from others. Though she was slowed a little, and her new deficits confined her to the recliner or wheelchair, she continued to dawn a look of sassiness on her face. I knew my mother was OK, and I was determined to do all that I could to help her adjust. h

I decided to share my experience as a full-time caregiver for my mother to consult, console, and inform other families who may be going through a similar situation. As a son, caring for my mother never feels like work; if so, it is a labor of love. Please continue to follow this message, Becoming A Caregiver, in Huami Magazine. I hope that sharing my experience will help others. From one caregiver to the next, God Bless You!

Lola Knight The daughter of Rashaun Knight and Zaria Knight

Tidwell Jennifer Chef Jenuine Cuisines Culinary Services

Bone Appetite!

If you are not serious about pleasing your palate with a whole lot of deliciousness, well, you better not call upon the services of Chef Jennifer Tedwell. Jennifer is the face and founder of Jenuine Cuisines Culinary Services. Her company offers catering for public, private, and corporate events, coaching, and consulting.

Jenuine is a play on Jennifer’s name of course. Her journey as a professional chef began at the Cleveland, OH, based learning institution of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in 2010. Jennifer says, “I took classes when my work schedule permitted. The company I was working for was sold in 2016, and they moved all the positions to Lithuania. With that transition taking place, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity for me to dive deeper into a new career.”

First and foremost, Jennifer is a child of God. She is a caring person who has a huge heart and loves giving back. Currently, Jennifer calls Cleveland home, while her mother’s family is from Gadsden, Alabama, and her father’s roots are traced to the island of Bermuda. She is married and has two sisters, two brothers, a daughter, and two black cats. Jennifer continues to absorb the wisdom of her mother, as well as her mother’s mother.

“The company I was working for was sold in 2016, and they moved all the positions to Lithuania. With that transition taking place, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity for me to dive deeper into a new career.”
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Jennifer possesses an Applied Business degree in Hospitality Management - Culinary Arts (Certified Chef with the American Culinary Federation), a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and a concentration in Medical Technology, and a Master of Public Health.

Her journey in cooking began after a couple of her closest friends encouraged her to think about cooking for a living. She says, “We joked and I told them I cook for a living. Their response was that I should do it professionally. They saw something in me that I did not see at first. I gave it some thought and decided to look into it. I began by taking some classes, and now I am here.”

What Jennifer loves most about what she does is bringing people together through food. She adds that she loves to see the smiles and enjoyment on the faces of those whom she serves. “I love knowing that I was a big part of people’s lives regardless of what the event was for. Often, people underestimate the power of food until they have an unpleasant moment with it. They will always remember that!”

In the professional culinary field, when someone is first starting out, the challenges they mostly face involve clients and customers. This was no different for Jennifer. “Trying to get my name out there and getting people to trust me to serve them for their events was a challenge initially. Fortunately, it has become easier with time. Another challenge is trying to stand out and be different. I’m different because there is only one Chef Jennifer Tidwell,” she states.

While things have happened the way they have, Jennifer says she wouldn’t necessarily change anything. She confesses that she is grateful for all that she has learned, gained, and taught. She is grateful for the people she has met and the community that she is a part of. If anything, Jennifer says she would have loved to possess more knowledge starting out. Even more, she admits she would love to have more knowledge and understanding now. Those are true traits of a success-driven entrepreneur.

Moving forward, Jennifer plans to find an outlet to cook, as she likes to cook and have people come around, eat, and enjoy. “I want to continue to coach, consult, and help others through their journey. I also want to get into real estate. This is something that I have always been interested in but have yet to explore. There is no time like the present, so I will do it,” she shares.

To learn more about Chef Jennifer Tedwell and Jenuine Cuisines Culinary Services, please visit their website. h Mississippi -April/May 2024 32
by Lena Di

Lena Di is an international plant-based wellness professional and self-care consultant. Born in Brooklyn, NY, but raised in Atlantic City, NJ. From a shy young lady who was a selective mute in school, Lena’s journey to becoming a wellness professional is a confirmation of her personal growth and resilience. She is the middle child of her mom and dad, with an older brother and younger sister. Despite the early loss of her father, Lena’s determination led her to overcome her shyness and find her voice.

A natural introvert, it’s pretty ironic that Lena is involved in the field she is today as the face and founder of Lena Di Wellness. Her company is a Black-Owned health and wellness entity whose mission is to empower melanated individuals and communities to prioritize their well-being and self-care and equip them with the necessary tools for their self-discovery journey. Through their in-person and virtual services and events, they are able to provide restorative, safe spaces for youth and adults globally.

Lena is a first generation of many things. One is being the first in her family to graduate from college. She attended Rutgers University, studying Psychology and Communications, with a minor in Africana Studies. She initially wanted to be a Pediatrician but pivoted to psychology, as it has been a passion of hers since high school. Lena later entered into a clinical doctorate program, which gave her hands-on experience in her field. She would move to Chicago for school, and while there, life would reveal a few challenges to Lena. Feeling overwhelmed, she returned to New Jersey and ventured into the world of entrepreneurship.

One of the services Lena Di Wellness offers is Wellness Retreats, which are aimed at restoring harmony in her client’s mind and body. She does this through movement, nutritious plant-based meals, multicultural activities, mindfulness, and relaxation, often in stunning locations. Another service is Yoga and Meditation, which involves private yoga and meditation classes for individuals and groups, as well as community events for new and experienced practitioners. Corporate Wellness also provides comprehensive health and wellness services to companies seeking to enhance the overall well-being of their employees. Another service is Youth Wellness, which teaches children and teens between the ages of 3-18 about the importance of their well-being through interactive and engaging activities. She also helps to instill healthy habits from a young age and set the foundation for a lifetime of wellness practices. Additionally, Lena offers Self-Care Consulting, and Fitness and Nutrition services.

I like to say I am planting seeds of holistic wellness, and self-care in young lives. Because of my own personal journey, it has taken many years to develop. That is why I don’t expect immediate results from my clients.

Without question, Lena loves what she does. Helping and educating people on how to live healthier lives. However, her love doesn’t come without a unique share of challenges. “Returning to Atlantic City from New York, the biggest thing was the lack of education in terms of healthy living and its importance. In New York, there are a lot of people involved in health and wellness. In Atlantic City, I found it hard to charge the rate I did in New York. I had to convince people of my worth. I found myself dropping my rates to meet my clients where they were. That didn’t serve me well in the long run,” she says. Lena also had to be innovative and learn what worked best for her company. “I had mentors, but there was a lot that I had to learn as I went. I had to constantly write and create blueprints for my services. Those experiences encouraged me to venture out and find clients who have the budget for what I am doing.”

Lena says what she loves most about what she does is playing a small role in helping people live healthier lives. “I like to say I am planting seeds of holistic wellness, and self-care in young lives. Because of my own personal journey, it has taken many years to develop. That is why I don’t expect immediate results from my clients. By planting the seeds, I believe the results will happen eventually,” she says. “I love to see the transformation and the results my clients experience. It shows me that I am on the right path.”

What she has accomplished in her business and the impact Lena has on her community is to be commended. She admits that it can’t be done alone, and everyone plays a part. Lena also credits her mother for being a huge inspiration. Given her work ethic, Lena witnessed how her mother set an example for her siblings to live by, examples that she applies to her business. She also finds inspiration in the memory of her father. “I know my father is my guardian angel and is always with me. I get signs that confirm that he is there and that I am on the right path,” she says. Lena’s brother and her sister are also very supportive, along with her niece, who Lena realizes is watching how and what she does. Mississippi -April/May 2024 36

For those who may be interested in a career in health and wellness, Lena offers the following advice. “If you want to venture into the health and wellness industry, I recommend that you identify who you want to serve and help. You must also bring authenticity and creativity to your services. There are so many people in the nutritional space. What do you offer that is different from what everyone else has? Being true to yourself and making sure that your products and services align with who you are very important. I also advise you to seek mentors who are involved in this field.”

Moving forward, Lena Di Wellness will host a Health and Wellness Retreat in Tanzania, in East Africa. This experience was intentionally curated for wellness enthusiasts, healers, and caregivers who need a change in climate. It is an immersive 10 day, experience designed to nurture self-indulgence and self-discovery.

“Imagine being surrounded by the motherland’s breathtaking landscapes and enchanting sounds in the company of like-minded souls while indulging in a fusion of Relaxation, Multicultural Activities, Vegan Culinary Experiences, Adventure, & Holistic Workshops,” she says. The dates for the retreat are October 24, 2024, through November 02, 2024.

For more information about Lena Di Wellness, please visit their website.


Mississippi - April/May 2024 39

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jamaican parents at Cumberland Hospital in the early 70s, Maxine A. Moncrieffes first introduction to poetry came from her mother and fellow creative poet, artist, musician, singer, activist, teacher, and registered nurse, Hyacinth Williams-Moncrieffe. Her love of music started with her father. Her parents catalyzed Maxine’s passion for the world of creativity, poetry, music, arts, roots, and culture.

Maxine was born with disabilities that she was not aware of, but she knew something was wrong because she’d been in physical pain the majority of her life. It was not until she had reached adulthood and had children that her physical state went awry, which had a huge impact on her mentally. Maxine also grew up witnessing mental illness and violence daily. This rendered Maxine homeless on the streets of Brooklyn at 12. Even through her own private tortured life, it made her wonder what her parents and family members were going through and how she would change the old narratives. This forced Maxine to not only seek answers but also to change her life for the better.

Photos Provided by Maxine Moncrieffe

Having excelled in academia, except for mathematics (she was diagnosed with dyscalculia in her early twenties), Maxine found school boring at a very young age. She loved it but found the curriculum to be painstakingly slow. She had already passed what the teachers were teaching. When her cousins and siblings would play hooky at school, Maxine tried to fit in and follow. However, she always ended up in the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza reading for hours, touching the books, and smelling the pages.

Books have been a place of escape and wondrous imagination for Maxine since childhood. Back then, Maxine was deemed a nerd and bullied. She tried fighting back, even becoming a bully for a month and hated it. Why? She simply felt awful causing someone else pain. So, instead of bullying, she became a friend, protector, and vigilante, fighting for the underdog and the people individuals threw away or mistreated.

Maxine’s mother transcended from breast cancer in 2008. Her father is under family care. She is the mother of three (two girls and one boy), the grandmother of nine (with number 10 on the way).

Moncrieffe is certified and licensed in various areas, from food handling, public notary, healthcare (HHA & PCA), medical billing, writing, literature, and human resources. She is also the owner of two businesses, a published poet, self-publisher, podcast host, and face of Creatives Magazine.

One of her businesses, P.L.O.T.S. or Proofing & Promoting Services, LLC, was established in 2020. Plots Proofing & Promoting Services, LLC handles creating promotional works for creatives and entrepreneurs. These include video clips, flyers, video and audio commercials. The other business, Cyber Clerical Associates, offers proofreading, editing, book covers, book publishing, and more. There is also a clothing line that uses the proceeds to support creatives.

Maxine loves what she does, and that is very apparent. However, with her joys also come a few challenges. She says, “Life is always filled with challenges, and operating a business is not excluded. I was laughed at and told I was crazy for using my stimulus checks during the Covid 19 pandemic to start and invest in my businesses. I was told by those whom I thought were loyal team and family members that my magazine was a waste of time. I was also told by a creative doing similar work that I was wasting my efforts. I learned that when it comes to business, I simply cannot tell everyone everything or anything. Negative energies and thoughts can be a major diversion from one’s goals and purpose,” she says.

Maxine is a very business oriented individual. She says she is inspired by the famous and popular quote, “Live, Laugh, Love. These 3 L’s are the reasons why I do what I do. To live is a blessing, bestowed upon us by the most high. To laugh is to live longer, with a smile that reaches your soul, and is the best medicine for the dreary and negativity that also encompasses existence. Love; there is nothing greater than this. These things inspire me to write, work, live on, fight onward, help others, be grateful that I exist, and work at being a better individual.”

Moving forward, Maxine will have her hands involved with many things. This includes a bevy of projects such as publishing books for creatives. There is also a new series of coloring books - Color With Me – Coloring Books, Color With Me, Let’s Go To Space, and Fruits & Veggies. A special literary project also reflects her experience during Hurricane Ian in Florida. Be on the lookout for more from Maxine and her brands.

“To laugh is to live longer, with a smile that reaches your soul, and is the best medicine for the dreary and negativity that also encompasses existence.” h
41 Mississippi -April/May 2024 42


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