Huami Magazine Mississippi July/August 2022

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MISSISSIPPI

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July/August 2022 Vol. 1 Issue 9

Bernard Moore Moore & Moore Sports Management Mississippi - July/August 2022

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A Fusion of Scents & Harmony for the Body

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The Benefits and Burdens of Your Assignment A Letter From The Editor

With the onset of each new day, there is always a list of things for me to accomplish waiting for me. I prepare my day based on the available hours; you can probably say that I am routine. I would beg to differ and counter by saying I work better in blocks of time and with a plan in place. I have been fortunate to learn that I don’t efficiently function without one. That’s just me. On the other hand, I am grateful for having something to look forward to doing. While often things may appear overwhelming, I can rest in the fact that God has chosen me for this experience. This is my assignment. It’s not a “why me Lord” question that I ask; instead, it’s a “why not me Lord” affirmation expressed. There are several ways to understand or comprehend God’s assignment upon us. We can face it head-on and work diligently to complete the mission or not. What I find so fascinating is that when God initially blessed me with purpose, I wasn’t shown what the end would be like. He didn’t brief me on the events that would occur, and I must say, there have been some good and some bad ones. If I have learned anything thus far, I know that the same pattern will likely repeat itself at some time or another. Still, once I tapped into God’s presence and listened for His voice, I realized it was time for me to get moving. And that’s what I did. God also gives us the freedom to ignore our assignments. While it’s not wise, running from what God calls us into only delays our destiny and purpose. God’s word says His yoke is easy to bear, and the burden He gives is light. Because I believe His word, my desire to complete my mission is ignited. Even more, I understand that I am not alone in the fight, and someone else is actually carrying the bulk of my load. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and move. The blessing in our assignments is revealed to us once our attitude about the assignment is changed. We can embrace the assignment and trust the process or ignore it. Remember that God gives us a choice. He also blesses us with life; with that gift comes a plan. I encourage you to tap into what God has assigned you to do and enjoy a life full of purpose and promise.

Terry L. Watson 4

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Publisher

Monica Montgomery Ellen Richardson Terry L. Watson Dorjea’ McClammey

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Tamara Smith

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CONTENTS

JULY/AUGUST 2022

MISSISSIPPI

MiKo Coffee Co

Marlessia Yancey

On The Cover

Moore & Moore Sports Bernard Moore III

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YMC Financial

Joseph Wallace

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BOUVI’J Suites

Agatha Grimes

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Love Monae’ Anthony

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Also Featured

Monique Simone Joe Having and maintaining healthy skin is very important. Her line of skin care products will help you. Huntsville, AL

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Sawand Belcher This young man is committed to making change in his community. Learn more about how he is taking action. Greensboro, NC

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Antonia Boayke Learn how she has created a space designed just for moms. Meet the founder of MomSpaceCo. Baltimore, MD

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Bernard Moore Moore & Moore Sports Management

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Mississippi - July/August 2022


By Dorjea’ McClammey Photos Provided by Bernard Moore III Bernard Moore III of Jackson, MS, is the founder of Moore & Moore Sports Management. Ever since he was a kid, sports was the one thing that always kept Bernard sane. His choice of sports was versatile, while his top three were baseball, basketball, and football, with football being his all-around favorite. His journey began when a member of his neighborhood was trying to do something better for the community by recruiting young boys to play sports for the park recreational team. The connection was made, and Bernard and his brother instantly liked football. From there, he says it blossomed. During the Summer of 2005, Bernard worked with a college teammate with hopes of figuring out a way to help his community. “I wanted to organize an event for the Walter Paige Scholarship Foundation, but while working on that, tragically, Hurricane Katrina hit and wiped out all of our hard work. After that, I was back at the drawing board and decided the best way to accomplish my goal was to combine my love for sports and become a sports agent,” he says. Thus the creation of Moore and Moore Sports Management. To get started, he researched how the field of sports management differs between different leagues and sports sections. He made connections, and things began to move for Bernard, but he still wanted to know more. So he began searching for a mentor and called different agencies in the Mississippi area, yet they all rejected him. Still, Bernard stood firm. “I told them I wanted to learn the game, and I will have my own agency,” he says. Soon he connected with an attorney, Benjamin Wilson, with the Beveridge and Diamond law firm and taught Bernard how to get started. He says the information he obtained from Benjamin Wilson laid the groundwork for how he runs his agency now. Benjamin Wilson gave Bernard the entire client list they worked on together. However, Bernard had not received his certification to work with NFL and NBA clients. Not to be denied, he found a way to work with clients by becoming a consultant until receiving his certification to become a full-time agent. By 2010 Bernard was on his own, branching out into different fields such as managing and consulting college athletes, former coaches, and even triple-A athletes, also known as the highest level in minor league baseball. With his business continuing to grow, clients began to ask for Moore’s help in planning events such as fundraisers, sponsorships, and advertising. Now, Moore & Moore Sports Management offers many services, including Marketing, Endorsements, Sponsorship Services, event planning, draft preparations, and so much more. He also contracts other professionals for mental health counseling and financial planning services.

“Use the gifts that God has blessed you with, and continue to be a helpful hand in society and all you do.”

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Like any other business, Bernard has seen his share of challenges. He says the Covid 19 pandemic put a hold on many of his events, a delay lasting nearly two years. “With the restrictions in place, many venues were closed, and even with the ones I could obtain, many fans could not attend. This hurdle resulted in a loss in profit,” he says. However, it didn’t stop everything; Bernard would continue his sponsorships and fundraisers online and even worked with radio stations in the area to help spread the word. Speaking of community work, Bernard has worked with many individuals and organizations in and around Jackson, including Butterflies by Grace, Designed by Faith, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation Mississippi Chapter. He has also worked with Jackson Public Schools Athletics, of which he is a proud product of. Out of all the perks, Bernard loves seeing his clients succeed. As for his inspiration, he says that just doing the will of God inspires him to move forward. ”God blessed me with the ability to play football throughout college,” he says. For anyone looking to follow in his footsteps, Bernard says never to let anyone dictate what your outcome may be because you are in control of your creation. “If you want success, you must work hard for it.” Bernard says to expect nothing but growth for the future of Moore and Moore Sports Management. He plans to continue helping individuals who want to flourish in their careers and to be a willing vessel for God to use. He leaves with a quote from the Bible from Corinthians 12: “Use the gifts that God has blessed you with, and continue to be a helpful hand in society and all you do”. Please visit their website to learn more about Bernard Moore and Moore and Moore Sports Management. h

Bernard Moore III www.mms-management.com 601-260-3509 8

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MomSpace&Co, Inc By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Antonia Boakye

Antonia is Boayke of Baltimore, MD describes herself as a caring and funloving person. She is a wife and mother to three beautiful kids. Amongst all of her responsibilities, she has enjoyed a career as a professional hairstylist for almost 12 years. As life has continued to happen for Antonia, many opportunities have also presented themselves to her. One is the host of a podcast called MomSpace&co. “I am a hairstylist turned podcast host. I love to laugh and enjoy good company, but resetting and self-care are vital in my everyday life. MomSpace&co provides a platform for me to do that,” she shares. A mother, wife, and everything else in between, Antonia says her passion for helping others provided a path to helping mothers. She shares, “Having a village is vital for our children and the mom. Our mission is to assist in each phase of motherhood by providing resources, sharing our knowledge, and making connections throughout the community.” The podcast started in 2017 with a focus on bringing moms together to have the “taboo” conversations about motherhood and life. “We’re a nonprofit organization that moms exactly where they are; in motherhood, business, and through conversation and community.

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“Having a village is vital for our children and the mom. Our mission is to assist in each phase of motherhood by providing resources, sharing our knowledge, and making connections throughout the community.”

Antonia is inspired mainly by people, and she is always looking for opportunities to serve, offer solutions, and give back. Antonia says she loves what she does and wouldn’t change a thing about the process to get to this stage in her life. “Coming from a place where I had little to no experience operating a business put me in a position to learn and grow personally and professionally. It has helped me to become who I am today,” she says. As she looks toward the future, Antonia says she plans to receive whatever God has in store for her. “I pray it’s more meaningful connections and continued support from our community for our mission. I also hope to grow more,” she says.

www.momspaceco.com

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Her advice to others sitting on a dream or facing a similar path that she has traveled is simple. “Don’t give up. It seems so cliche, but persistence and diligence will get you where you once dreamed of seeing yourself. It’s no easy road, but it’s worth it. Also, don’t forget to celebrate yourself and the milestones you reach, both big and small!” To learn more about Antonia Boayke and MomSpace&co, please visit their website. h


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MiZo Coffee Co. 14

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Marlessia Yancey For most adults, a good and flavorful cup of coffee is an integral start of each day. Without the routine robust boost, things may appear to happen as planned. Fortunately, there is a Conyers, GA based coffee maker who is committed to satisfying the taste buds and cravings of avid coffee connoisseurs. Marlessia Fontaine Yancey is the founder of Mizo Coffee Co, Inc. Named after her two granddaughters, Mila and Zoie, Marlessia’s company is focused on producing quality products for everyone to enjoy. Marlessia was born and raised in Martinsville, VA, to Marvin and Mary Fontaine. She says that after losing her parents, she decided to honor their wishes and continue building her brand and coffee business. “At MiZo Coffee Company, we aim for a clean, rich, and balanced taste in every cup. Our coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans, which gives the brewed coffee a full body, fine aroma, and rich flavor. Our objective is to create the perfect experience,” she shares. Mizo products consist of 12oz bagged coffee (Regular/Decaf/French Vanilla/ Hazelnut) as well as a few retail items. They also offer hot and cold coffee, and a warm smile. Marlessia’s journey to becoming the owner of MiZo Coffee Company began early. She says, “I have been drinking coffee since I was about three years old. I didn’t drink milk as a child. Instead I loved sitting with my grandmother, drinking sips of coffee with her,” she says. “I wasn’t actually drinking coffee, but I thought I was. My grandmother would warm my milk and mix a spoonful of coffee in it to change the taste to get me to drink my milk.” As Marlessia grew older, she had the opportunity to interact with her mother and her aunts while they visited Marlessia’s grandmother on their weekly Wednesday night meet-up. “I was not old enough to be in the kitchen with them; however, I anxiously waited by the kitchen door, anticipating the invite in for a piece of cake or pie. Of course, nothing goes better with coffee than cake or pie.” Marlessia says what she loves most about her business is seeing the look on her customer’s faces when they try MiZo for the first time or one of their specialty coffee drinks.

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Losing both of her parents was quite a difficult period in Marlessia’s life. She credits them both with impacting her life in two different ways. “Dad was always the hardworking father who made many sacrifices to ensure his family had the things they wanted and needed. He had a way of talking to me that was stern, enlightening, and encouraging. He often spoke of challenges on his jobs to shed some light on my obstacles. My mom was a kind-hearted disciplinarian. She had an inviting smile coupled with a warm embrace that left you feeling empowered. They both pushed me to set goals, and live out my dreams,” she shares. While MiZo’s brand of coffee is proven, the journey has come with a few challenges. One Marlessia points out is with her company being compared to the larger coffee houses. “I embrace this because I have an opportunity to educate on my brand, understand hidden expectations, and improve my offerings. Still, we can stand alone because MiZo is different. We provide an experience,” she says. Things are looking great for Marlessia and MiZo’s Coffee Company. Moving forward, she plans to open a full brick-and-mortar MiZo Cafe with unique offerings, accompanied by an atmosphere of family and community. Marlessia says the aroma of MiZo Coffee wafting will be the lure for families to come together for good times and bonding. The place to come where after the first sip, you find yourself reminiscing about some of your most treasured moments....Family Her advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is positive. “If you have a passion for something and feel strongly about it, do the research. Be prepared for negative encounters from people that don’t share your vision. Remember, it’s not their passion; it’s yours. Map out a plan. Create an outline or road map to follow and collect data points along the way. The information you collect along the way allows you to monitor and make a change as needed. Most of all, don’t quit and tell yourself every day, “ I got this!” To learn more about MiZo Coffee Company Inc., please visit their website. h

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BOUVI’ J Suites 18

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By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Howard Gaither Have you ever Googled yourself? Go ahead… Try it. You may or may not be surprised at what you find. If you Google Agatha Bouvi’J Martin Grimes, you would find twenty years of business savvy and a smile that makes you feel at home. If you have spent time talking to Agatha, you wouldn’t be surprised. Agatha and her husband John are owners of Bouvij’s Enterprises, located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Agatha started in the beauty industry in 1995 and has been building a legacy of service and entrepreneurship ever since. “Service is a large part of who I am as a wife, mother, and business owner,” Agatha explains. “I’ve been in the business of servicing customers as a stylist for over twenty years, and my chair was always booked because I learned from childhood to treat people the way you want to be treated,” she says. Family and community are extremely important to Agatha and John. They have one son, Danny J. Martin Jr., and a nine-month-old granddaughter Demi Noel Martin. For this couple, It’s not enough to be a business owner and entrepreneur. They believe that the blessing is not just for them but everyone. “Our goal is to build a legacy of entrepreneurship that can be passed on to Danny, his daughter Demi, and her children. But we can’t grow as a community if we don’t work together to make it happen.” This was never truer than in the past two years. The pandemic damaged the economy in ways the US hadn’t seen in decades. Not only did we lose loved ones, many lost jobs, homes, and financial stability. Agatha credits her husband, John, as the visionary for their newest joint venture, Bouvij Business Suites, and Enterprises. “Bouvier’s is my middle name, and the J is from John’s name, hence Bouvij,” she explained. Bouvij Enterprises are a combination of smaller companies that Agatha and John own. They include a home improvement business, a commercial covid cleaning service, and their newest business venture Bouvij Suites. “Bouvij Suites are business spaces that entrepreneurs can rent as they build or expand their business. It’s essentially a platform for new business owners a running start,” John explains. “Any business owner will tell you that the biggest obstacle is finding quality spaces to rent,” Agatha interjects. “We toured some of the spaces people work out of, and it’s unbelievable. Either the rent is sky high, or the landlords are basically slum lords. Bouvij Suites give entrepreneurs who are serious about creating a business that people want to patronize the opportunity to do more with less capital.”

502 Four Seasons Town Center Greensboro, NC 27407 336-254-1555 19


Bouvij Suits aren’t just for those in the beauty or cosmetology industry. The suits can be customized on a fundamental level to meet most every need. “The way we see it, everyone can have a nice, clean, upscale business environment without having to go to other neighborhoods and paying exorbitant monthly rental fees,” Agatha shares. Unfortunately, the African American beauty salon isn’t always shown in the best light. Businesses in urban communities have been given the reputation that because they are black-owned, they are sub-par. Some business owners believe that to attract and maintain quality customers, they must leave their communities. Agatha and John are attempting to prove the naysayers wrong. “We want to keep our business and our dollars in our community,” John explains. “I don’t have a problem with other races, but I want to see more of “us” doing better,” Agatha shared also. Bouvij Suits are more than just brick and mortar. Renters are given the basic requirements to get started in their rental space. The suits are well kept, and there is 24-hour security and monitored security cameras. “Safety is a big selling point for our renters. Any business owner worth their salt wants a location where their customers and clients feel comfortable visiting. Reputation will only get you so far. When your clients see that you have taken basic steps to give them comfort and peace of mind, they will return and bring others with them,” John said. “All of these things are about servicing or serving our community,” Agatha emphasizes. “By creating a quality space for businesses to exist, we attract quality businesses, which attracts customers who want a quality product. It creates opportunities to generate income, jobs, taxes revenue, and that all works to elevate the community and the people in it,” Agatha says passionately. As community leaders, Agatha and John work to set the example of what can be achieved if you put your mind to it. “As God has blessed us, we want to be a blessing. After twenty years of marriage and running a business, there is so much I have to share.” Agatha spends a lot of time giving back to support her community. “We helped set up a location so people could come and receive the covid vaccine. We feed the hungry, especially during covid. My husband makes a point to hire men who may need a second chance or someone willing to take a chance on them. We understand that everybody needs help sometimes.”

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Agatha says her area is mentoring young women. “Young women are attracted to me for some reason. Well, I know the reason. It’s because I’ve been where they are. I know what it’s like to be in a bad relationship and struggle with self-worth. I pray that something I’m doing or saying to them is helping them see themselves as worthy. Sometimes all I can do is try to be an example of what is possible,” Agatha admits. “When I started, I had no money, but I knew what I wanted for myself.” Although Bouvij Suites doesn’t offer a mentorship program, Agatha and John are always willing to give new renters the benefit of their wisdom. “We try to offer new entrepreneurs the wisdom we’ve learned over the years. Some accept it, and some don’t. The offer is two-fold. Some new business owners may have a great idea but don’t have a good execution plan. As a result, they find themselves struggling to pay rent three months in. Our goal for all of our renters is long-term success. If that means giving them a little encouragement or a word of advice here or there, we are more than willing.” Agatha and John say they experience the same things most business owners do, but for the most part, they have been blessed. If they had any regrets, it would be not recognizing the power of oneness earlier in their journey. “I believe we could have been much further along in our business endeavors if we had understood partnership a long time ago,” Agatha admits. “I have many people ask for advice about going into business with their life partner or spouse. I often tell them if I knew what I know now,” she says with a laugh. “My husband is quiet and unassuming, but he is the man with the plan. John is very detail-oriented and helps keep things in focus. We talk about building our community and working together to elevate our people. First, we have to learn to have faith in God, the man or woman he ordained to be in our lives. If you are with the person God has for you, there is no question of partnership in life or business. Together we build.”h

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YMA Wealth Management Group 22

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By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Joseph Wallace Joseph Wallace is the founder and CEO of YMA (Young Millionaires Association) Wealth Management Group in Spartanburg, South Carolina. If you are looking for business solutions, Joseph and his team are your “problem solvers.” “I solve problems. Think about it for a moment. You want to start a business but don’t have a business plan. That’s a problem. You need capital for your start-up, and you don’t have it. That’s a problem. Your credit needs attention. That’s also a problem. All of these issues are roadblocks to entrepreneurs. My job is to help navigate and eliminate these roadblocks so business owners can grow and succeed.” Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Joseph didn’t always have the focus he needed to envision his future. “I grew up in a two-parent household, but there wasn’t always a lot of money. My parents struggled to make ends meet, and sometimes that struggle made for a stressful home environment,” Joseph explained. Like many youths, I was seduced by the culture that specific music and movies glorified. He knew the path he was on would lead him to a bad end but not understanding his purpose, he chose to live in the moment. “Like most kids in my neighborhood, I fell in with the wrong sort of people. My parents and grandmother tried to point me in the right direction, but when you’re young and think you know it all, you don’t listen.” Joseph admits that after high school, he was lost and had no direction. “I didn’t know my purpose, so I didn’t know the path I needed to take. The people whose influence I see in my life today are my mother, my father, my older brother, and my grandmother. My mother taught me how to always keep striving for better. She would work two jobs to take care of her family, but she never settled or became complacent with where she was. She was always working on getting to the next level. My dad worked and was also a coach at the local community rec center. He gave back to the community by working with the kids. My brother is a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, but my grandmother was a God-fearing woman. She took me to church and taught me about God. I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have at the time, but I know now that God was pointing me toward my path.”

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At twenty-one, Joseph says he took his first steps toward purpose. He joined the US Navy. “I didn’t go to church or anything, but I still believed in God. I knew He was real and remembered what my grandmother taught me. One night I came home late, and a Navy movie was on. I can’t remember the movie’s name, but it was about the Navy. I went to sleep and woke up the next morning, and the first thing I saw was a commercial about joining the Navy. I can’t say I heard the voice of God, but I believed he was speaking to me. This was no coincidence. So, I signed up that day.” The Navy didn’t give Joseph purpose, but it gave him the tools he needed to pursue the purpose of his life. “To this day, I am grateful for what I gained in my seven years in the US Navy. I learned fortitude, selfdiscipline, and a new understanding of respect. These were all of the things I was missing. Most importantly, as a search and rescue team member, I learned to push myself beyond my limitations.” One of the biggest obstacles/ problems for budding entrepreneurs is not a lack of opportunity or education. It is the limits they place on themselves. Joseph believes you can start the problem-solving process once you identify the problems. After serving seven years in the Navy, Joseph tried his hands in several business startups. He was gaining success but felt that he was not walking in his purpose. “You have to make sure you do things the right way. Everything you do must be built on a firm foundation. Without it, you will fail. That was the most important thing I learned, and what I hope every reader walks away with,” he shares. In 2009 Joseph decided to change his lifestyle and environment for the better and was considering moving back to Miami. His mother had recently moved to Greenville, SC, and suggested he come there. “I knew I needed a fresh start, but I didn’t want to go backward. Understanding problem-solving means that even if you are the problem, you must be willing to get out of your own way. I had to learn the difference between my voice and the voice of God. Moving to Greenville was God putting me back on the path to my purpose, and I have never looked back.” Shortly after moving to South Carolina, Joseph met a random stranger at a restaurant in Downtown Greenville. “It’s crazy what can happen when you start to follow your path. After moving to Greenville, I took some time to get settled. I met a man Downtown, and we started talking about work and my move. We exchanged information, and about three weeks later, he called out of the blue and said there was a new call center opening in Greenville, and with my experience in marketing, I should apply. That’s how I started at Samsung.”

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“To this day, I am grateful for what I gained in my seven years in the US Navy. I learned fortitude, self-discipline, and a new understanding of respect. These were all of the things I was missing. Most importantly, as a search and rescue team member, I learned to push myself beyond my limitations.”

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In his seven years at Samsung, Joseph rose from call center agent to Senior Operations Manager. “Following my mother’s example, I worked my way up. It wasn’t easy. The first time I applied for a supervisory position, I didn’t get it. I didn’t know why at the time, but I couldn’t allow it to affect my attitude or my energy. To the people who will read this, I’d like to say you can’t quit. Things will not always go your way when trying to pursue your dreams. Even if you try multiple times and it doesn’t happen right away. Just remember you only fail when you quit,” Joseph councils. “You have to be willing to take a step back and look at what you are doing. What worked, and what needs attention. And don’t be so proud that you can’t take constructive criticism. In fact, expect it. If it isn’t given, ask for it. It’s not acceptable for someone to deny you a job or position and then say you did everything perfectly. Ask them what made them choose someone else. Then take that information and don’t just meet the expectation but beat it. When the opportunity comes back around, and it will if you don’t give up, you can show that you not only maintained what they liked but also took their advice and improved on it. If you do that, you can’t be denied.” By applying this philosophy to his own life, Joseph has grown and expanded his businesses while helping others understand how to turn their dreams of becoming business owners and entrepreneurs into reality. “We just moved on June 20th into our new Corporate Office in the center of Downtown Spartanburg. It is listed as a historic building, and when I looked at it three years ago, it was out of my reach, but I found out what I needed to do to get it. That’s what you have to do with anything you want. You may not be qualified right now, but take the time to identify the problem, then work toward a solution. Attain the qualifications to get what you want. I go to meetings and hear people who look like me complaining about not being given equal opportunities, which may be true in some cases. But when you invest the time and money into beating and exceeding those set qualifications, not only will it make you better, it will make it hard for anyone to deny you your dreams.” Joseph and his wife and business partner Rebecca are taking YMA Wealth Management Group to new heights. They have created a onestop shop for business startups, personal and business credit, and real estate. Their nonprofit YMA CARES is launching a Business Incubator program in August 2022. h .

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Baby MAGAZINE

Cutest Baby

Love Monae’ Anthony The daughter of Alneshia Torian

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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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Sawand Belcher This Is Me Taking Action By Back the Block

By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Tory Bass Sawand L. Belcher is the founder of Belcher & Belcher Properties, LLC, also known as Buy Triad Homes. Sawand and his wife LaMicah have five children, with number six on the way. Don’t be fooled by his easy-going casual demeanor; Sawand is serious about leveling the real estate field. He makes buying and selling real estate look easy. After building his company from the ground up, Sawand is ready to show just how easy it is to own our future. His real estate coaching services, This Is Me Taking Action, will show you step by step how to navigate the world of real estate, and you’ll be making a profit in no time. Sawand learned early in life that anything worth having is worth working for. “I’ve always been a great salesman. I remember when I was in sixth grade, my dad told me I couldn’t have something. But he said I could have whatever I wanted if I had my own money. So, I went over to his computer and came up with the catchy phrase, Wan’s Lawn & Dog Sitting Service. I made some flyers and started cutting people’s grass. I did that all the way through high school.” Sawand went to college at North Carolina A&T, where he studied political science, but in his senior year, his life took a new direction. “I loved my time at A&T. I studied political science not because it was my passion but because my parents wanted me to. My aunt, Hon. Romonda Belcher was the first African American female judge in Iowa. My parents wanted me to follow in her footsteps. But in my senior year, I found out I was going to be a father. That changed everything.”

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Sawand, always the entrepreneur, bought his first car by buying auto parts online and selling them locally. With him and his partner expecting their first child he had to shift things into high gear. “I left A&T fourteen credit hours short of my degree and got a job. I had new responsibilities, and those came first. That’s just how God made me,” Sawand explained. “Since I was familiar with car parts, and always liked cars, I went to a car dealership and applied to become a car salesman. I was hired on the spot.”

“We were going out to bars and clubs and spending the money just as fast as I could make it. The finance manager told me I should find a place to put my money. He suggested I buy a house.”

With mentorship from his GM and sales manager, Sawand did well. Selling cars came easy to Sawand, and in less than seven months, he had made over $100,000.00. “I had an amazing leadership team at Crown Honda. Scott Bisbee was my GM, and Mike Hilton was my sales manager. They were teaching and mentoring, not just me but everyone. I learned so much about business and sales from them, which served me well.” The next step in Sawand’s journey would take him from making money, which he found easy to do, to having and investing money. “So, there I was, making money hand over fist, and one day one of the financial managers at the dealership asked me what I was doing with my money. I told him I was spending it,” Sawand said, laughing at his younger self. “We were going out to bars and clubs and spending the money just as fast as I could make it. The finance manager told me I should find a place to put my money. He suggested I buy a house. I had every excuse in the book. ‘I have bad credit,’ ‘I don’t have any money,’ ‘Nobody will lend a young black man money.’ You know those kinds of things. But the sales manager told me to go to the bank and at least see what they would give me.” To Sawand’s surprise, they offered him a $120,00.00 loan. He didn’t take the first offer, but that helped him see that getting a loan and buying a home wasn’t so far out of reach. As a surprise for his girlfriend, Sawand purchased their first house. But the surprise was on him. “I wanted to show LaMicah that I was ready to be responsible, so I surprised her with a house. She surprised me by saying she didn’t want to move in. I tried to back out of the sale but couldn’t, so we ended up renting the house out. It wasn’t a lot at first, but it got me thinking. This was when I got the concept of real estate investing.” Sales-based employment means that you get a percentage of what you sell if you make a sale. This means if you make a sale, you get paid, but if you don’t, you don’t get paid. Sawand realized that with his rental property, he had regular income regardless of what kind of sales day he had. “When we bought our second house, we looked at off-market or unlisted properties. LaMicah and I were looking at a house and knocked on the neighbor’s door to see if they had any information on the owner. The woman invited us in and asked us what we thought about her house. We looked at each other and said it was cool, but we were looking for info on the house next door. The woman asked if we would make an offer on her house.”

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By the time the couple left the woman’s house, they had agreed to purchase the woman’s home for one-third of its market value. Sawand and his family live there to this day. With his new appreciation of being a property owner, Sawand decided to buy another off-market home. “Once we completed renovations on this house, I immediately started looking for the next one. I found a vacant house at the end of the street. I go the house under contract for $45,000. Like the first two, I didn’t have the money. I go to the bank, but this time they turn me down because I have two existing loans out. I had a debt-to-income problem. I started to get depressed because I had contracted to buy this house and couldn’t. So, I went to church. A friend from church, James Cox, said did you know you could sell the paper? I had no clue of what that meant.” Sawand learned that because he had a signed contract on the property, he could sell it to someone who had cash looking to buy properties. He shares, “I sold the paper for $1,000.00 nonrefundable upfront and was promised another $4,000.00 at closing. I made $5,000.00 and didn’t spend a dime. I realized I didn’t need money to buy real estate. I was like, ‘I’m in!’” Sawand has purchased over three hundred houses now. One thing Sawand says that has helped him find his path is his faith and trust in God. “When I started making money from real estate, a co-worker from the dealership said I should quit my job. I wasn’t ready to take that risk. But three weeks later, I decided it made sense. Yet it was still a difficult decision. I worried about failing. I didn’t want to let my family or myself down. I knew I could depend on my job, but I had to trust the one who made me.” Sawand used his faith as the foundation for running his business which led to financial, personal, and spiritual growth. As his business grew, Sawand understood the need for training. He was a great salesperson and was making great strides in the real estate market, but what he didn’t know was how to run a business. “I took a course from Carlos Rayez out of Arizona. He taught me how to organize, when to hire, who to hire, and basically how to run a successful and profitable business. Now I have ten amazing employees, and we work well together as we move the business forward.” Over the years, Sawand had learned a lot about the real estate business and mastered strategies and skills that helped him succeed. His goal now is to pass that on. “My program, This is Me Taking Action, is about helping people take ownership of their lives and their future one block at a time. The cost of the program is so low because I have a target audience—young, Gifted, and Black. I want young black men to know they don’t just have to rep their neighborhood. They can literally own it. We can create generational wealth today for ourselves and those around us,” he says. h

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Symonious Fusion By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by C. Moore For Monique Simone Joe, having and maintaining healthy skin is a family affair. Not only does she believe in the importance of having healthy skin for herself, being a Black woman encapsulated in melanin, but her passion is expressed with her husband and children. Monique is the face and owner of Symonious Fusion, a skincare company based in Huntsville, AL, that produces handmade soaps, body scrubs, body butters, and more. Monique shares that the name of her company is a fun take on her middle nameSimone, and it represents a perfect fusion of mind, body, and spirit. Her products are designed to be an alternative to harsh manufactured soaps and other products, and everything is made with the best natural ingredients. She has a women’s care line, a men’s care line, and a soon-to-be-released kid’s care line. Her journey to becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur began with her having confidence in herself and her products. She shares, “Symonious Fusion was birthed during quarantine season August 2021. The world was dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, which was a very stressful period for adults and children. Lives were turned upside down, and people had to adjust to unfamiliar situations. Self-care became a mandatory survival concern, and I felt Symonious Fusion was a likely solution. I knew people needed something to look forward to, and one of the things I heard most was individuals wanting a few quiet minutes alone to take a nice relaxing bath.”

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Monique also believes that the five senses are very important when it comes to self-care. Knowing this, she wanted to make a product that would satisfy as many senses as possible. Using the feedback of her customer base, who expressed their desire for products that smelled good and were safe for their skin, Monique set her sights on developing products that would meet their needs. “Many products out there have such harsh chemicals, even for me. While I love a lot of the smells, my skin can’t handle the chemicals. I started researching, asking questions, and experimenting. I began with self-care products for my family and friends, but as the word spread, the demand grew, and the next thing I knew, Symonious Fusion was born. I was able to do it and meet the needs of my clients because my products smell good, feel good, and are good for your skin,” she says. Monique describes herself as a lover of life. “Everything that God has placed in my life makes me who I am. I value my relationship with God and strive daily to show myself through my family and friends and live out my purpose. I love taking care of my family and shaping the futures of my kids while having fun at the same time. I love to take care of others, but I try to remember not to neglect myself,” she says. She has enjoyed 22 years of marriage with her husband Timothy, and they share three children. What Monique loves most about her business is being able to create something useful and safe for everyone to enjoy. “I also love the creative process and being able to experiment with different scents, designs, and recipes. Honestly, I did not consider myself a creative before Symonious Fusion, but I guess I am,” she says. She shares she finds inspiration in various people and things, yet the person who has inspired the most is her mom. “She is God fearing, hard working, very smart, resourceful, resilient, funny (in her older age), and the wisest person I know. If I turn out to be half the person she is, I have done well,” Monique says.

Monique Simone Joe Symonious Fusion

www.symoniousfusion.com 256-756-7267

Being an entrepreneur has its share of challenges. There are good days and some notso-good days. For Monique, she states there isn’t much she would change about her journey in business. “I’m taking it one step at a time and enjoying the process,” she says. The future looks bright for Symonious Fusion, and with Monique’s creativity and determination, things should only get better. To learn more about Symonious Fusion, please visit their website. h



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