Yesterday Prepared Me For What’s Next
It seemed like only yesterday when the first edition of Huami Magazine was published. In November 2007, a vision given to me by God became my reality. I have shared the story of publishing Huami Magazine, first having a conversation with God, then taking the leap and stepping out faithfully in response to God’s call. Still, I often reflect on the first edition and become reminded of how awesome God is.
While I was confident in my ability to fulfill the assignment, I admit I didn’t have all the answers initially. Ten years earlier, in 1997, I researched the magazine publishing industry, specifically in the Triad area of North Carolina. I did this to learn more about what is required to publish a magazine, including how to manage a publishing company, etc. Amongst all of the information obtained, I never inquired about how to support my new media company financially. That would eventually pose a problem for me and Huami Magazine.
Finances and their availability is vital to the survival of any business. I self-funded operating costs for quite some time, especially in the first few years of existence. However, all of a sudden, things changed. Huami Magazine would enjoy the love and support from unlikely sources, including individuals who never exhibited an interest in the product. Doors would soon open and opportunities flowed. Things were looking up for Mykel Media Company, LLC.
As the face and founder of Huami Magazine, I worked hard to spread brand awareness. During this time, there were other challenges I would face, but having the support of the magazine wasn’t one of them. Sales were so good that everything needed to keep our doors open, we received it. God saw something good about Huami Magazine and He made provisions to ensure
The message that I want to remind the readers of Huami Magazine is simple. When God gives you an assignment, He will also make provisions for you to see it through. All that we have to do is show up for the assignment.
Terry L Watson Publisher
Dorjae’ McClammey Writer
Terry L. Watson Writer Joy Rogers Writer Monica Montgomery Writer
Still Shots Photography Photographer Todd Youngblood Photographer
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She is doing business her way. Learn more about this serial entreprenuer. Charlotte, NC
From the Upstate area of South Carolina, learn how she is serving communities in Africa. Footprints In Africa. Greenville, SC
Learn how she stepped out on faith and built her company. Rock City Staffing Agency. Little Rock, AR
Unity Ride LLC is more than a driving service. Owner and founder Tarik Gant says it’s a hospitality service as well. When one gets into one Unity’s vehicles, they will find snacks such as chips, fruit, popcorn, fruit bars, and cakes, as well as beverages such as juice, tea, water, and more. Unity Ride provides local trips, long-distance trips, one-way trips, round trips, and chauffeuring services by the hour. They also do mobile pick-up and deliveries, including groceries and restaurants.
Tarik graduated from Antioch High School and attended Tennessee State University and American Baptist College. There he studied psychology and theology. Amazingly, Tarik says he realized at age 37 that college wasn’t necessary for him to do what he loved to do. “I realized that I wasn’t going to find the perfect job. I had to create it,” he says.
Tarik describes himself as a family man. Though now separated from his wife, his three children are homeschooled and often ride with him. Their mother works two jobs and he shares, “My children ride with me just about everyday. The only time they do not ride with me is when it’s a rider I’m not familiar with and or there is not enough room for them and my passengers,” he says.
Based in Nashville, TN, Unity Ride LLC was birthed from Tarik’s understanding of the need for more transportation services and as a response to a life-changing situation he endured. “In 2015, my wife miscarried the first child we conceived together. Although we lost the child in the first trimester, we never knew the sex of the child. I never wanted the baby to be forgotten. I felt that the miscarriage challenged us greatly and strengthened our union. I decided to name the baby Unity. That’s how the name Unity Ride came to life. Not only is it a business, but It is in honor of the baby I never got to hold and see in the flesh,” he says.
Four years later, in 2019, Tarik launched Unity Ride LLC. “I learned I am passionate about transporting people safely and providing an entertaining and freespirited atmosphere while driving for Uber part-time. One night while driving for Uber, I thought I could provide the same services. So from that point, the rest is history,” he says.
Unity Ride LLC serves Nashville and the surrounding areas mostly. Tarik says there is no place in the United States his company will not travel to. When asked what he loves most about what he does, he says, “I love the connections that I make. The friendships, bonds, business, and even family through the people I meet. I love it when the service is so good that my riders express love towards my children and me. Whether they express it verbally or through gestures, I’m grateful most for the connections. Next to that, I love traveling to different places,” he says.
While Tarik has enjoyed the successes of business ownership, he has also faced some challenges. He says that shortly after launching, he was hit with the Covid 19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020. “The world shut down right after I quit my full-time job and started Unity Ride LLC. I overcame that challenge by continuing to advertise and meet riders. My consistency and passion helped me to overcame that challenge,” he says.
Another challenge Unity faced was losing money from riders that would ride but would not pay. “I lost a lot of money when I allowed riders to pay me after they received my services. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I overcame it with a strict policy of having the riders pay invoices before they get into the vehicle,” he says.
Tarik obviously loves the things that currenlty happening with Unity Ride. He also says there is nothing he would change about his experience in business thus far. “I know that everything is happening the way it should be. I know i’m on the right path and doing what I came here to do, so I wouldn’t change a thing about the journey,” Tarik shares.
His advice to others who may follow in footsteps is simple. “Stay in the moment, keep the initial vision alive, and remain conscious of how far you’ve come,” he says. In the future, Tarik’s plans for Unity Ride is to add a full fleet of vehicles provided for all drivers. He also plans to have Unity Ride Stations nationwide, and provide job security for drivers. “The possibilities are limitless and I plan to give each one that comes to mind, a chance,” Tarik says.
To learn more about Unity Ride LLC, please visit their website. www.unity-ride.com h
Rock City Staffing Agency, LLCBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Vivian Brittenum
Vivian Brittenum is the owner of Rock City Staffing Agency. Based in Little Rock, AR, her company is a locally owned and operated professional staffing and recruiting agency. Vivian says her team is dedicated to providing their clients with top-notch service, industry-leading solutions, and skilled talent. “At Rock City, we take great pride and purpose in what we do. That’s why we always seek to outperform client expectations. We cover many staffing situations, including temporary, temp-to-perm, contract, and direct hire. We specialize in placing administrative, information technology, customer service, warehouse, and light manufacturing,” she says.
Vivian is a native of Forrest City, AR, but has called central Arkansas home for the past 28 years. She is a divorced mother of two fantastic children, Miracle, 21, and Praylyn, 19. She acquired her MBA with an emphasis in Information Technology and an MS in Management and Leadership with an emphasis in Project Management from Webster University. She also obtained her BS in Management Information Systems from Park University with a minor in Human Resources.
Some additional certifications she holds include a nationally Certified Public Manager as well as a Certified Arkansas Governmental Manager from UA Little Rock. She is a Certified Woman Entrepreneur from Cornell University, a graduate of Leadership Greater Little Rock, past Chairman of Auditing Committee for Southern Gas Federal Credit Union, past Diversity and Inclusion committee member for the City of Little Rock, Commissioner for the City of Jacksonville, past-chairman of the Board of Adjustment, and past chairman of the Planning Commission and a graduate of the Rock It! Lab Accelerator Program.
“At Rock City, we take great pride and purpose in what we do. That’s why we always seek to outperform client expectations.”
Vivian shares how her faith in God has shaped her life from the very beginning. “I am so grateful to God for choosing me for such a time as this. Life for me began in Forrest City. My parents were teenagers when I was born. My mom, Barbara Paulette, was a senior in high school. My father, Leon Jones, Sr. was attending college in another city. In a sense, my mom and I grew up together. She raised me and my two sisters, Tracy and Tajuan in a strict Pentecostal household. We were in the church from sun-up until sundown at least four days a week. That is where my faith began and where I learned to trust and believe in God. My mom and dad worked hard to provide for my sisters and me. Mom worked for a time in factories making garments and televisions before she decided that was not the life she wanted for herself or her daughters. She decided to further her education and became a CNA, became certified in early childhood education, and worked as a transport driver before settling down in the classroom. That’s where I got my inquisitive mind and my love of learning. My dad, Pat Haggins, has owned and operated a well-respected construction business for over forty years. My father, Leon Jones, Sr has been self-employed for 48 years. They both stepped out on faith, took a chance on themselves, worked hard, and are now reaping the benefits of following God’s path. That’s where I inherited my entrepreneurial spirit.,” she shares.
After getting married and moving to the central Arkansas area, Vivian knew this was where she could flourish. The big city lights, highways, fast cars, and endless opportunities, she says, it was time for her to walk in the calling God has on her life.
Vivian says her job isn’t about just having a source of income or building generational wealth for her family. “I have a God-given passion for helping others, so placing someone in a job offers me a sense of personal fulfillment and professional growth. I am so blessed to wake up every morning with the opportunity and be a blessing to someone else.”
When her youngest graduated high school, she felt God telling me that now was her time. Finally, on September 14, 2021, God spoke to me and said now is the time! I stepped out on faith, drove to my job, and resigned in the parking lot! I knew it was now or never. I chose my NOW! I came home and incorporated Rock City Staffing Agency and have not looked back,” she explains.
Without any doubt, Vivian is sure she is walking in the plan God has for her because He gave her the idea to open a staffing agency and the name of the business. “I did not know much about the staffing and recruiting world, nor did I have any savings to fund a business. All I had was faith and trust in God,” she shares. A week after opening her business, Vivian was blessed with a $1000 small business grant. Still, she didn’t know where to begin or how to open a staffing and recruiting agency, but she says God provided everything needed to get her company going. “I don’t have a choice but to be successful,” she says.
Now fully operational, Rock City Staffing LLC has positioned itself as a premier staffing agency. Vivian’s advice to others who may follow in her footsteps is to pray, pray, and pray some more. “Keep God at the forefront. Do your research. Find good mentors. Go for it!”
Moving forward, she hopes to continue to follow God’s plan. “Rock City Staffing Agency is just the beginning. There is so much more that’s going to be birthed from this. We are going to use this platform to do the Kingdom’s work,” she shares. To learn more about Vivian Brittenum and Rock City Staffing Agency, please visit their website.
Footprints In AfricaBy Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Tammy Moore
Footprints in Africa, a subsidiary of Chayil Enterprises LLC., is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to aiding the people of Africa, in poverty-stricken communities, with the skills and opportunities that will support economic stability for individuals and their families. The founder and visionary Tammy Darmell Moore says, “Footprints in Africa is not here to give aid but to assist. We don’t want just to put a bandage on the problem. We are here to provide sustainable ways for the people we encounter to care for themselves and the people of their communities.” Ms. Moore, a single mother of grown children, decided that once her youngest was out of college, she would see the world. “I love to travel. Other people like to shop or go the shows and dine out. I’m not knocking anyone for what they like to do, but for me, I love to travel.” Moore, a selfproclaimed military brat, was now free to move about the country and the world.
“My friends often asked me when I was going to Africa. I had decided to wait until the year of return because I wanted my trip to Africa to be more than memorable. I wanted it to be momentous.”
The Year of Return, Ghana 2019’, a yearlong program of activities marking the 400th anniversary of the first recorded enslaved Africans to the US. While everyone was flooding Ghana, Tammy went to Ethiopia. “I planned to tour the continent, but I wanted to visit Ethiopia first. It was Africa before colonization.”
Moore’s connection with the country and the continent was instant and almost symbiotic. “I immediately fell in love with the people, the food, and the culture. I was in awe of how beautiful the people were.”
The organization’s name, Footprints in Africa, has a three-fold meaning, but it all started because of a little girl and a pair of sneakers. “While I was out in the bush, I met a little girl who asked me for my shoes. I was wearing some black and white Nike Air Max, and she liked them. She was wearing
shoes, but they were in horrible condition. They were so worn that one foot was protruding out of the shoe. I felt bad. I wanted to take my shoes off right there, but I was about five miles from the tour bus, and the terrain was rough, and let’s just be honest, I wasn’t ready to walk barefoot in the Ethiopian bush,” Tammy says, laughing. “But… I decided that I would find that little girl and give her my shoes when I came back.”
Tammy’s visit to Ethiopia was in the fall of 2019, and she had plans to return in February 2020. Unfortunately, rumors of an unknown virus were spreading across the globe, and the FAA was canceling and restricting flights. “When I was notified that we weren’t allowed to fly, no one would tell me why. Our trip kept getting delayed until finally, on March 18th, the city of Greenville, North Carolina, was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Like most citizens during the lockdown, Tammy found herself with nothing but time. “I’m not one to sit around and twiddle my thumbs, so I decided to clean out my closets. As I was clearing things out, I had a thought. Why take one pair of shoes to Ethiopia when I can take back multiple pairs? So, I contacted family members and friends via text and phone calls. I figured they were doing the same thing I was. I told them if they had shoes in good condition to send them to me.”
Within two weeks, Tammy had collected over one hundred pairs of shoes. “This wasn’t a social media drive or anything like that. These donations came from my immediate circle of friends and family. I was blown away. All I had to do was ask, and this was the reaction I got from my close circle of friends. I asked myself, how much more could we do?”
Tammy and her supporters are finding new answers to that question daily. In addition to their Soles for Africa initiative, there are several other projects the group is using to help people in poverty-stricken areas of Africa to live healthier and financially independent lives.
“We have our Life Gardens project that is currently in Kenya but will be starting in Ethiopia soon. Life Gardens is a partnership between Footprints in Africa and Thrive for Good to twelve Kenyan schools. These gardens are a source of food and good nutrition; they lower the cost of school fees, feed students and teachers, and generate revenue, allowing the schools to purchase supplies for the students,” Tammy explains with pride.
“Then there is the Legacy Scholarship in The Gambia, where we are helping with tuition for students seeking higher education so they can give back to their communities. When I learned that one semester in university was about the same as my Luis Vuitton handbag, I decided immediately that I could help. There is no application process at this time. We choose the recipients based on where we find the most need. Students are carefully researched to ensure they are enrolled and have the academic prowess to complete their degree program,” Tammy assures.
The most crucial thing Tammy wants to convey is that Footprints in Africa is about helping Africans receive a fair wage for their trade. Africans are culturally rich and creative but often aren’t given proper credit or compensation for their artistry and craftsmanship. With the Alkebulan, Footprints in Africa’s Cultural Emporium, people can purchase directly from the artist or vendor in Africa. We have products from all fifty-four countries in Africa,” Tammy explains with excitement.
“We have our own tea line called Justea. Most of the world’s tea comes from Africa, but it’s shipped and repackaged, and the true farmers get pennies on the dollar. Justea comes directly from the tea farmer to you. What we have done is partnered with a company in Canada that works with tea farmers. These farmers employ over three hundred workers, most of whom are women, and pay them a fair wage to work the land. When you purchase tea from us, you will get information on the farmer and the farm in Africa your tea came from.”
In the two years since the foundation was started, Footprints in Africa has made it its mission to empower people in the poverty-stricken areas of Africa with as much support as possible. They have been successful, but like all great initiatives, it takes money.
“The one obstacle we have had to contend with is donations. Because we are still dealing with the fallout from the pandemic, people are timid about giving. It’s understandable because nobody wants to be caught off guard by all of the new threats. We have been blessed to have a core group of supporters we call our FIA (fiya) tribe. They are champions for our cause. We would be nowhere without their constant support.”
With the momentum Footprints in Africa is gaining, the future looks bright. “We hope to add more recipients for the Legacy Scholarship and extend it to students who want to attend trade school. We understand that university isn’t for everyone,” Tammy acknowledges. “And to help fund our projects, we are launching our Legacy Society. This is a way for supporters who believe in what we are doing to continue to give posthumously. They could name us as a charity in their estate.”
As stated before, the name Footprints in Africa has a three-fold meaning. “This all started because the little girl asked from my shoes. But it has grown into so much more. While I was in the bush, I saw more footprints than I saw shoe prints. This meant there were more people without than with. The other aspect comes from my desire to leave something behind. I desire to leave my mark, my footprint in the continent’s soil that has made an indelible mark on me.” h
& King’s Lemonade LLCBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by King’s Lemonade LLC
There’s always a good time to drink lemonade; fortunately, a young group of inspiring entrepreneurs in Durham, NC, has made it their business to quench the thirst of lemonade drinkers.
Founded in October 2020, King’s Lemonade LLC is a siblingowned and operated business led by Corey Jr. and Ami. They also share ownership with their older sister, Jada Lyons-O’Kelly. With the support of their mother, Erica, and other family members, the duo has created over 25 delicious flavors of freshly squeezed homemade lemonades. Erica is the formal operator of the business and describes herself as the “Momager” and “Queen”.
So how do they make it happen? Corey is responsible for squeezing lemons, cutting fruit, creating new recipes, assisting with purchasing supplies, loading and unloading supplies, and serving as a cashier at events. Amir is responsible for the same duties as Corey; however, he is also the spokesman.
Initially, the idea of the business came about while Corey and Amir were at home during the Covid 19 pandemic. During this time, everyone was bored and just tired of doing the same routine, day after day. Like most families, the pandemic required most families to resort to a life of isolation. In some cases, the pandemic even added a financial strain on their budgets. Erica’s family experienced both. “The pandemic changed how we moved, so we collectively decided to think of various ways to generate additional income. We came up with various ideas, and finally, the boys decided they wanted to have a lemonade stand. I encouraged them to expand their thoughts, think bigger, and even start an entire lemonade business. With the support of their father, Corey Sr., everyone agreed. Next, we needed to create a name for the business. Everyone threw out various ideas for names but none really stuck. Finally, Corey Jr. blurted out “King’s Lemonade!” I asked him why he chose that name and he said “because I’m a king, momma!” That’s how King’s Lemonade was birthed,” Erica says.
King’s Lemonade currently has over 25 flavors of delicious, freshly squeezed homemade lemonades in various sizes. Some of their most popular ones are Strawberry Lemonade, Pineapple Lemonade, Blue Raspberry Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, Very Berry Lemonade, and their classic Original Lemonade. King’s Lemonade can be purchased online, year round, and they also deliver locally within a twenty-five-mile radius of Chapel Hill, NC, for an additional fee. At various locations, King’s Lemonade can also be found around the Triangle and Triad areas.
Owning a business has been an enjoyable experience for both Erica and her two sons. She shares, “I truly enjoy learning with my children. I didn’t go to school for business. I actually went to school for Criminal Justice. Teaching my kids how to provide for themselves for the future is very important to me. They now have the opportunity to continue to build and grow their business and brand and provide job opportunities for others.”
Amir shares that working with family is easily the greatest challenge he has faced in his young business career. “No one knows how to support you like your family, but no one knows how to push your buttons like family also. Working with my mother and brother has proven to be stressful, and I’d be lying if I say if I haven’t thought about waving the white flag at one time, but after seeing how well-received our products are, I can firmly say that I believe in what I do.”
Erica says she is inspired by her children and the support of her community for their business. Corey Jr. says the positive feedback from the customers also inspires him. Amir says, “While revenue is a great inspiration, an even bigger inspiration is what I can hopefully tell the people that see what I do and are either encouraged in entrepreneurship themselves, or to support small businesses like mine.”
Erica, Amir, and Corey encourage anyone who may follow in their footsteps to be unafraid. Amir’s message is to embrace struggle and loss and, while doing so, continue to swing on. “There are days where our product doesn’t sell as well as we had hoped, and it can get discouraging. Never give up, swing on. Sometimes a closed door can open another window. Another window will open for you soon enough.”
Moving forward, Erica says her plans for both of her children’s businesses are to continue to assist them with making each better. “We would love to see King’s Lemonade in various stores and online,” she says. With persistence and good flavors available, the sky’s the limit for King’s Lemonade.
To learn more about them, please visit their website. www.kingslemonade.com
Doing Business My WayBy Dorjae’ McClammey Photos Provided by Todd Youngblood
Timmie Mitchell can easily be described as a go-getter. She is the founder of Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel LLC, along with her two business partners, Danielle Griffin and Dawan Feely. Launched in April 2022, her company offers an array of styles and scrub sets, including separates, compression socks, fanny packs, clogs, aprons, and personalized badges. Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel also provides group sales and discounts for nurses, nursing students, and schools.
Born in Monrovia, Liberia, which is located in West Africa, Timmie, along with her two younger sisters, moved to Durham, NC, when she was only nine years old. She says the transition was not easy, mainly due to the drastic culture change. Timmie was bullied a lot because of her small size, home environment, family income, and her accent. With all of those challenges, Timmie says it was tough for her to make friends.
With all that chaos around her, Timmie was determined to stay focused and get her education. She attended Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, and gained her longtime best friend and business partner, Danielle Griffin. In 1997, Timmie graduated from Shaw with her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management. From there, she moved to Greensboro, NC, before settling in Charlotte, her residence for the past ten years. In Charlotte, she is surrounded by her two wonderful daughters, her family, and many friends.
“You must learn to invest in yourself and your business and not give up. Never give up on achieving your goals in life. Remember that along your journey, you will receive some yesses for every no, but you must remain persistent and patient.”
Once settled in the Queen City, Timmie did not hesitate to jump into the work field, a strategic move she made to provide her daughters a better opportunity to succeed than she did as a child.
While Timmie’s primary focus is Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel LLC, she has dabbled into other business ventures. She is also the sole owner of Liberian Lady Investment LLCs, a property preservation and renovation company. With the services offered, vendors, banks, realtors, and more can fix and preserve foreclosed properties. She also owns Mitchell Notary and Signing Service LLC, a mobile notary and loan signing entity that serves all of North Carolina. Additionally, Timmie is a real estate investor and partner with Guaranteed Homes LLC, owned by Dawan Feely. With this company, Timmie helps renovate homes and build properties for communities in South Carolina and assists clients with repairing their credit.
Timmie shares she has always desired to create a business that would last a lifetime, and one connected to the medical field made perfect sense. Why? It’s neverending, Timmie explains. Once her vision was realized, the next step was to get the business off the ground. She says the beginning was a little rocky. “I wasn’t making many sales, but I kept true to my faith, and by the grace of God, it did a full 360. The rest is history. Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel went from barely making sales to generating between $500 and $1,000 worth of weekly orders,” she says.
Even though things have been better for Timmie and Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel, she remains grounded. Timmie shares she still loves being able to provide medical professionals with uniforms that make them look and feel good at an affordable price. As for Liberian Lady Investments LLC, Timmie continues to assist clients with preserving one property at a time. This includes working along with Guaranteed Homes to build and help clients get into their dream homes while educating them on ways to improve their overall credit.
Timmie says she is proud to be a true African American woman and for the opportunity to show her children what faith, determination, and hard work look like. “I want them to know that no matter their challenges, they can achieve anything. I am proof of that,” she says. “I always wanted my own business, and now I have multiple. What better example for them to have than me.”
For anyone wanting to follow in her steps, Timmie advises you to do your research, “Google is your best friend. You must learn to invest in yourself and your business and not give up. Never give up on achieving your goals in life. Remember that along your journey, you will receive some yesses for every no, but you must remain persistent and patient.”
Moving forward, you can expect big things from Timmie Mitchell. In addition to expanding Liberian Lady Investment LLC and continuing her partmentship with Guaranteed Homes, Timmie and her partners plan to open storefronts/boutiques in Charlotte and South Carolina for Scrubs Unlimited & Apparel. The first boutique grand opening is in January 2023 in uptown charlotte. The expansion will also include the release of her custom line of scrubs. Please visit her website to learn more about Timmie Mithcell and all of her businesses. h
Action is a necessary component required to bring change to a community. The type of action to which others who desire change will respond to. The kind of action that addresses the concerns and problems of a community and produces solutions that improve living conditions. Such an organization exists, and is answering the call for change.
Based in Houston, TX, The New Black Collective was developed by four high school friends; Ebony Joiner, Shaquala Warren, Kevin Thomas, and Jasmine Bledsoe. With each member reigning from Waco, TX, they share a variety of degrees and certifications from HBCUs to Ivy Leagues. Another member, DeAundra Moore, serves as Program Manager and is passionate about empowering and supporting others through direct community interaction.
Launched in 2019, The New Black Collective is a nonprofit organization that services the minority community through community outreach programs. The idea was born out of a need each member was aware of. They also genuinely wanted to give children and adults something positive to look up to.
“To amplify the quality of life in our community, promote culture, and education; through community intitiatives and partnerships with other organizations.”
Led by Jasmine, who believes in giving back and enriching her community, The New Black Collective operates under the mission to implement community initiatives that improve access to education, investments, opportunity, and sustainable services. “I learned that surrounding myself with people who can help me is like being surrounded by tangible Godliness,” Jasmine says. The group offers curated programs that are free to the community. They also host annual events, including a Back 2 School Drive and Coats N’ Cocoa, and collaborate with other organizations and businesses in Waco, and Waco ISD.
What motivates the group as a whole? They say, “God and people. Our love for God has inspired us to love people aloud. Our people inspire us so much. Knowing that we come from a strong people who have built so many things from the ground up is an inspiration. The tenacity and perseverance of those that have come before us will always be true inspirations. They did, we can.”
Like any other startup, The New Black Collective has endured its share of trial and error. One challenge they shared was that learning what works for them as a business and what doesn’t serve them has been pivotal in their journey. They were able to overcome such challenges through mentorship and counsel. “We believe one does not know everything. So we talk to people that know a little bit more than we do and apply what we’ve learned,” they said.
Moving forward, the plan for The New Black Collective is to be a legacy of labor and love. They also hope to expand and build sustainable and forward-thinking programs. To learn more about the program and to find ways on how to get involved with their programs, please visit their website.
“I learned that surrounding myself with people who can help me is like being surrounded by tangible Godliness.”
Jasmine Bledsoe President
Urban Esthetic Interiors, LLCBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Dymetra Caskill
Dymetra McCaskill of Denver, CO, has a unique eye for detail. Her ability to look at a blank canvas and create works of art has propelled her to being one of America’s top African American interior designers.
Along with being a mother, grandmother, sister, and daughter, Dymetra is the owner and founder of Urban Esthetic Interiors, LLC. As a black designer, you will notice hints of cultural esthetics, vibrant colors, and warm textures. She describes it as a whole vibe!
With her company, Dymetra offers one-on-one, personalized design experiences and collaborates with her clients to create what she describes as a beautiful space.
Dymetra was born and raised in Denver. There she attended school and obtained a Business Management degree. All of her family resides in Denver, including the matriarch of her family, who is now a great-great-grandmother. Dymetra is also a lover of music and says, “If you come to my home, there’s always music playing and candles burning. I’m always tinkering around with something design related,” she says.
Urban Esthetic Interiors, LLC came to life in 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic. “I worked full-time as a flight attendant, and because of the pandemic, I was temporarily furloughed. During that time, I was able to divert all of my attention to interior design, develop a business model, improve my skill set, and work,” Dymetra says.
When asked what she loves about having her own company, she says it’s all about the art of design. “I love beginning with a blank canvas and using my imagination to create a work of art. There are so many moving parts, which can be challenging at times, but that is what drives me. I test the limits with each project, make bold choices, and experiment with new trends.”
While Dymetra says she is inspired by her friends and family’s support and encouragement, she specifically acknowledges her mother for being the most significant source. Dymetra says her mom was the first to let her use a miter saw, which she thought was just a “guy thing” at the time. “I gained confidence, and it allowed me to feel limitless,” she says.
Growing up, Dymetra says her mother would always rearrange furniture and have beautiful plants throughout the house. She shares that everything had its place. Even more, Dymetra’s dad is a pretty good designer in his own right. “Dad designs with class and deliberate pieces. His home shows like a model home, and I always wanted that for my space,” she says.
Additionally, Dymetra says that all things visually beautiful inspire her. “My son, who mimic’s my feature wall ideas, inspires me. My four-month-old grandson, who greets me with bright eyes and the happiest smile, inspires me. My sisters, who consistently root for me, inspire me. My aunt, who always eloquently encourages me, inspires me. My gramma, who covers me in prayer every day, showers me in love, and shows me how a fierce black woman moves and shakes in this world inspires me,” she says.
Things are going great for Dymetra, and she says there isn’t much she would change about how things have happened for her in business. If anything, she says she wishes she would have started sooner but also that she firmly believes that everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. “I’ve encountered some challenges and made plenty of mistakes; however, the beauty lies in knowing they are learning lessons. I’m creating my own formula, which makes me unique, bringing about some uncertainty, but it’s a beautiful mystery. I’m hopeful and excited about what’s to come,” Dymetra says.
Her advice to others who may follow a path similar to hers is not to allow fear to keep you from leaping. “Keep some of your thoughts and plans private, and if you decide to share them, do so with those you know will encourage you. Remember, we’re always students, so we never stop learning. This is a constantly evolving business, so be prepared to operate consistently with your creativity. Whatever your dreams and desires are, release them into the wind. Allow yourself to imagine all the possibilities, keep your intentions pure, and enjoy the ride.”
By the sounds of it, Dymetra has a bright road ahead of her. Futuristically, Dymetra plans to add to her existing brand, which will include designing commercial spaces and offering my products through retail. “If I’m not in your city, I would love for anyone to have access to an Urban Esthetic Interiors experience,” she says. To learn more about her, please contact her directly.