Huami Magazine New York Nov./Dec. 2022

Page 1

The Pandemic Pivot

NEWYORK/NEWJERSEY ® Nov./Dec. 2022 Volume 1 Issue 11

Yesterday Prepared Me For What’s Next

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L. Watson

Terry L. Watson Publisher

Monica Montgomery Writer

Terry L. Watson Writer

Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor

Joy Rogers Writer Dorjae’ McClammey Writer

Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove

Ryan Dyson Photographer Charles Beason Photographer Eurila Cave Photographer

Tamara Smith


Todd Youngblood Photography

Howard Gaither Photography

Perfect Lenz Photography Shaw Photography Group Still Shots Photography Who Shotya Photography

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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 E-mail at

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The Cover
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A Letter From The Editor Terry

Marvin F. Cockrell

Arielle Middleton

Rock City Staffing Agency. Little Rock, AR


Hampton Roads, VA

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Braxton Moore
Cinnabar Nutrition Tana Jeter Eye For
Serving Their Community The New Black Collective An
Interior Design Dymetra McCaskill The Pandemic Pivot
CONTENTS 37 18 28 36 6
32 22
Danielle Edwards
On The Cover Also Featured
Vivian Brittenum
Learn how she stepped out on faith and built her company. Music makes his world go around. Learn more about his journey through life and music.
St. Louis, MO
If you are in need of home repair service, she is here to help. Learn more about her journey in business.

The Pandemic Pivot

Her birth name is Nundiah-Danielle Edwards, of which Nundiah means “Challenger”. Yet, her friends and family call her Danielle.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, to West African Liberian parents, Danielle shares that her mother was a strong woman who engrained confidence and strength in her. Her father was a highly educated man and taught Danielle that acquiring a good education was the key to her success.

“At an early age, I have always been a high achiever,” Danielle says. “I graduated high school at 16 and a half years old and went straight to college. At just 17 years of age, I received a scholarship to attend Berkeley College and received two degrees; an Associates in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelors in International Business & Business Administration. At 23, I earned my Masters of Business Administration in Management from American Intercontinental University, all while being a mother to my two small children.”

Today, Danielle is the founder and CEO of The New Body Project, Inc. The New Body Project is Brooklyn’s first and only “All Women’s” Fitness Bootcamp. Her studio specializes in High-Intensity Interval Training by providing weight training, strength training, cardio, nutrition guidance, and mindset coaching. Additionally, Danielle offers a membership-based program.


“I truly believe that once a woman puts herself first and declares she is taking her body back, all possibilities can be created,” Danielle says. “At The New Body Project, we want women (and individuals who identify as) to understand the importance of self-care and prioritizing their needs. Many women play an important role in the lives of others, and our needs must be met to provide sustainable care.”

The New Body Project staff works with women from all backgrounds, occupations, lifestyles, and fitness levels. Once a member, Danielle says their clients have the opportunity to be a part of a community that genuinely cares about their well-being. “Our members are held accountable for attending classes, maintaining their streak in one of our many fitness challenges, and achieving their fitness goals.

As a savvy entrepreneur, Danielle also has her hands in another business. She is the founder and CEO of Atrium82, an intimate gathering space designed for Danielle’s community members to host various events. These include micro-events, micro weddings, commercials, movies, micro-bar/bat mitzvahs, engagements, birthday parties, bridal showers, pop-up shops, theater rehearsals, not-forprofit conferences, fitness, and yoga classes. “Our mission is to empower the community by providing an affordable space where people can gather and enjoy,” Danielle says,

Atrium82, Danielle says, believes in the power of community. A portion of all bookings are applied to their partners at The Ghana Desk Project. “We are committed to helping the underserved child in Africa receive a desk built by carpenters from their village, which provides seating for students to attend school.”

How did Danielle get started in business? In 2009, she was laid off from her banking job. As a result, she became depressed and gained 20 lbs from stress and motherhood. Despite having a strong educational background, she says it was nearly impossible for her to find work. “I no longer wanted to be in a mindset of doubt and discouragement, so I declared to lose weight and find a career that would allow me to be a mother to my children,” she says.

Soon Danielle stumbled upon an advertisement for a fitness representative at a small studio. “In my mind, I thought it was ridiculous to apply because I was overweight. Jokingly, I applied and thought nothing of it,” she says. “Little did I know that clicking a button would transform my life forever.”

She interviewed and was hired as Director of Membership Services and Development. She learned all there was to know about building a fitness business and training classes, and only after a year of employment she was informed the company was shutting down. That news encouraged Danielle to start her own business; but how would she do it? She had no money saved, yet with the help of members in her community of Brooklyn, she raised $3000 and The New Body Project was born. NY/NJ - Nov./Dec. 2022 8
Photo by Richard Chen Floral and Decor by Miarama Delph-Clarke of Couture Events

Atrium82 was birthed as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. During 2020, Danielle was forced to shut down with no clear reopening plan. Beatdown, depressed and broken, she was unsure of what her future looked like. “The one thing I was sure of was that I couldn’t let my space sit idle for long, and I decided to transform my fitness studio into a small gathering space,” she says.

“In both my fitness business and event business, I meet so many dynamic people everyday that I would be remiss by not sharing that as one of the top things that I love about what I do,” she says. Additionally, she shares that her family is the most important reason she goes as hard as she does.

Some of Danielle’s challenges in business include the uncertainty of the economy and the Covid 19 pandemic. “I overcame economic uncertainty by simply starting my own company, and just when I thought that was the answer to all my problems, the entire world was forced to shut down. I’ve overcome the pandemic by pivoting my business,” she says.

Though she has faced some adversity along her journey, she also admits that she wouldn’t change how things have happened. “While you’re in the moment, it may feel like the end of the world but trust and believe that every failure, every obstacle, and the low moments are what builds you and your business. When I thought I had lost The New Body Project, I ended up birthing another company in Atrium82. Who would’ve thought the hardship of the pandemic would make me the CEO of two companies? Because of these obstacles, I have been blessed to share my story on ABC, Good Morning America, Entrepreneur Magazine and other platforms. There is power in a dynamic story, and that doesn’t come without struggle.,” she shares.

Danielle’s advice to others who may follow in her footsteps is to believe in yourself. “God gave you an idea for a reason. Don’t fall victim to sharing your visions with those who can’t see or understand them. It’s not their vision, it’s yours.”

The New Body Project 82 6th Ave - Brooklyn, NY 11217 Atrium 82 82 6th Ave - Brooklyn, NY 11217
Photo by Daniel LopezFloral and Decor by Miarama Delph-Clarke of Couture Events

Sunshine Home Improvement, LLC

It’s common knowledge that black women can wear many hats, but can they all do it with a smile? Arielle “Sunshine” Middleton is proof positive that yes-we-can. She has a full-time military career and manages other skilled positions as a landscaper, carpenter, and artisan. Her most important job is as a single mother of five-year-old twins. In March of 2022, she formally launched Sunshine Home Improvement LLC. Arielle’s new company combines her love for people, her skill as a carpenter, and her artistry to create affordable design dreams for her clients.

“My reasons for getting into this were purely personal and selfish,” Arielle explains. “I’ve always been a very thrifty person. I try to do everything on a budget. I decided I wanted some new furniture pieces and home décor, but everything at these stores is so expensive. Even the marked-down and clearance items are still ridiculous. I’m like, ‘This isn’t a sale!’” she laughs.

As needs must, Arielle discovered thrift stores. “I found some gorgeous pieces for cheap. Even the not-so-beautiful items had the potential to become special with a little TLC. Usually, I could restore or upcycle items for little or nothing, and I enjoyed the work.”

Arielle’s passion for décor and restoring furniture was an outlet, so she took every opportunity to practice it. “After I finished my projects, I started doing things for my friends. When they would move, buy a new home, or want a change, and I would hear them say they needed a coffee table or a nightstand, I would think, ‘I can do that.’ So, I would find a five-dollar table, restore it and give it as a gift.” To her surprise, people loved her work.

After a year of impressing her friends with her ability to restore and transform items into something extraordinary, Arielle’s friends encouraged her to take the next step. “I had been doing my little transformations for friends for about a year when they were like, ‘Girl, you should make this a business.’ The thought had occurred to me, but my reality at the time was that I had a full-time job in the military, and I was a single mom with twins. I figured starting a business was a pipe dream way down the road,” Arielle explained. Then the pressures of life happened.

NY/NJ - Nov./Dec. 2022 13

It’s no secret that our service men and women deal with highly stressful situations daily. Arielle has traveled the world with the military and has seen her fair share. When her future was uncertain, she turned to crafts as her outlet. “As I continued to think about it, there was a lot to consider. I was having trouble with my job. I didn’t know where my military career was going, and I was finding the craft work as a form of release,” says Arielle. “It turned into a mental health thing. Painting and crafting helped me stay balanced and sane. The feeling I got from sitting and painting was like talking to a counselor. It became my therapy.”

In effect, Arielle turned something basic, and a fun hobby into something she believed was life-saving. “Standing on the other side, I decided to launch the business as a birthday gift to myself.” Not wanting to jump into the deep end right away, Arielle decided to start small, but thanks to social media, her business grew overnight.

“I thought I would start with getting a few business cards printed to see if people were interested, but a couple of TikToks later, I’m getting clients from across the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia). Next, my friends all got together and sent me to the Black Business Expo. As a result, I’ve just signed my first major contract with a brokerage design firm Red Door Realty.” Arielle will be designing and building custom closets and pantries for million-dollar homes.

The amazing thing about Arielle’s story is that she had never picked up a hammer before joining the military. “One of my many jobs in my military career was as a combat engineer. It was the first time I had picked a hammer or a saw. As an engineer, I became familiar with woodworking, concrete, and building design, because my group’s job was to build schools from the ground up. So, when I started doing the small projects, my muscle memory kicked in, and I realized I actually knew what I was doing. I could actually do this.”

With newfound confidence, Arielle went out and “thrifted” some tools, dusted off her building skills, and began her journey as a carpenter. Her skills as a designer and artist came from where most great gifts and traits stem… her mother. “I got my natural ability to paint and design from my mother. She studied art, and I learned a lot from watching and being around her. My natural talent for art and design and my skills as a builder have made this an easy process.”


Although Arielle’s original purpose for discovering her talent was selfish, it has become a passionate desire to help people who don’t have much money to spend on décor or home renovations. “My mom used her artistic talent to build a business as a nail art designer. She owned her salon for over twenty years. Plus, she had an eye for beautiful things. She could put together amazing combinations. So as a kid, I grew up in the high-end stores as she purchased the odds and ends that brought her visions to life. As an adult, I go into these same stores, and I’m like, I’m not paying that much for that!” Arielle laughs. “I decided I’m going to go over here and get the old table that the person originally bought at the highend store and make it live again.”

Believing that having a beautiful and comfortable home shouldn’t have to cost a fortune, Arielle began to respond to what others were saying. “I kept hearing about how expensive it was to do simple renovations or interior designs. I started asking, what are these people charging? Some of these prices out here are ridiculous. My main focus in launching the business was to provide people with affordable options for getting the home of their dreams.”

Arielle’s resourcefulness and desire to deliver dreams on a dime pushed her to find quality materials at a discounted rate so she could pass those saving on to her clients.

“I discovered ways to get discounted wood and paint. I upcycle furniture so clients have nice pieces without having to go and pay the new prices. I go to home sales, where people have gutted their old kitchens and put in new stuff. I repurpose the old stuff into a new laundry room for someone else at a fourth of the cost. Giving customers these options to help them achieve their goals without breaking the bank is what I’m all about.”

Since launching the business, Arielle has been busy, but there were obstacles. “It’s one thing to do the work. I love when I finish a project, and the homeowner sees it for the first time. It makes the long nights worthwhile. My biggest issue was understanding the business side of things.” At thirty-three years old and fifteen of those years spent in the military, Arielle didn’t have much exposure to what it takes to build a business.

“Getting my LLC and all that paperwork done correctly was a struggle. It was such a struggle because I had no clue what I was doing. I thought all I had to do was go online, file paperwork, and pay a fee. Thankfully I had recently hired an accountant who reached out to me the day before an important deadline and told me everything I needed to do in less than twenty-four hours. Now that was stressful,” Arielle explained. “I didn’t have anyone to talk me through those critical parts. I wish I’d had a mentor to help explain what needed to be done. Thankfully I could get everything done before I faced any penalties.”

As Sunshine Home Improvement continues to grow, it remains small and personable. “When people call, they talk to me. I mow the lawns and hang the pictures. I work with contractors for larger jobs, but for the most part, it’s all me,” Arielle said.

The future is bright for Arielle. In five years, she will retire from the military, and Sunshine Home Improvement will be her focus. In the meantime, Arielle plans to continue to do what she can to help people create dreams on a dime.

Arielle Middleton Sunshine Home Improvement

Cinnabar Nutrition

Today, Tana is the owner of Cinnabar Nutrition, located in Milwaukee at Bayshore Mall. She started her business under the name of Simply Tasteful Nutrition in May 2020. “It was a way to re-engage with clients, family, and friends through baking. As I became more focused on my own health, I took my love for baking rum cakes to healthier options for baked goods, primarily donuts,” she says. As a result of needing to change her business name, Cinnabar Nutrition was born.

Tana says Cinnabar is a gemstone that represents health, wealth, healing, and personal transformation in the community around you.

Cinnabar Nutrition officially began in January 2021 as a Satellite Nutrition club. While working as Juvenile Probation officer supervisor during the week, Tana baked on Friday nights and delivered her goods on Saturday mornings. On October fifteenth, 2021, Cinnabar Nutrition opened its doors to the public.

Some of the products Tana offers are healthy shakes and smoothies, and teas.. “ We offer healthy plant-based protein meal replacement shakes, healthy energy drinks and protein baked goods. When trying one of our shakes, think about having your favorite ice cream any time of day. It’s a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner,” she says. She also offers healthy drinks, collagen drinks, refreshers, and non-caffeinated drinks.

NY/NJ - Nov./Dec. 2022 19

Tana says what she loves most about her company is being able to restore her faith in her community. “Working in a tough field of Juvenile Justice for 27 years was heavy. Within two days of opening, it felt like weight was lifted from my shoulders,” she shares. “Being able to meet new people daily, smile, laugh, and form positive relationships has been a blessing. The connections and bonds created are real.”

Her own personal transformation journey has had a huge impact on Tana’s life. She says that she has developed the ability to shift her mindset from negative to positive during difficult times and find the good in every situation. Tana is also inspired by the women in her family. “I come from a long line of strong, independent women who support one another, encourage growth, and always find a way when it seems like a solution isn’t possible. There is always a solution!”

She says that her mother and my daughter both inspire her. Tana’s mother has her own floral business. Tana says she is one of the greatest examples of what it looks like to never quit. Her daughter is a full-time student and working a full-time business. Tana says seeing her passion and commitment keeps her going.

As the future happens for Tana, she hopes that both health and fitness can be provided to the community under one roof. Tana says this will help further educate others on the importance of nutrition, along with their fitness journey.

As of November first, Cinnabar has teamed up with five other women to further grow and support the community within Cinnabar’s Results Center. To learn more about Cinnabar Nutrition, please visit their website. h NY/NJ - Nov./Dec. 2022 20
Cinnabar Nutrition 262-362-1483


Marvin Cockrell of St. Louis, MO, is regarded as a musical genius. He is the man and the mind behind Music Focus LLC and Focus The Band. “I remind people to remember where talent comes from; mine comes from God.”

Marvin is a husband, father, member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc, and the youngest of seven children. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and moved to East Saint Louis, Illinois as an infant. As life progressed, he soon began playing the piano at seven and the saxophone at nine. “My parents began piano lessons with me,” he shares. “For the first year of piano lessons, my parents also took them to help get me acclimated.” Although his parents ultimately ceased their lessons, they encouraged Marvin to continue.

Marvin was encouraged to be an entrepreneur at an early age based on his family’s accomplishments. He is the son of an electrician and a seamstress. His biological mother owned a dry cleaner. His uncle, Leroy Garrett, was the founder of WEUP, the first Black-owned radio station in the state of Alabama and the first Black-owned 24-hour radio station in the United States. At age ten, Marvin had his first garage band, and played his first wedding at sixteen. The ambition for Marvin to be successful was innate.

“I love bringing people together and making them happy, and for me, music does that.” Marvin attended and graduated from East Saint Louis School District. After high school, he attended college and majored in music. At age twenty-two, he allowed his gift of music to be utilized for the benefit of others and began teaching and teaching elementary music for nine years. He also taught music at the middle school level, including Jazz Band, Concert Band, and Marching Band.


Many of Marvin’s students would eventually become his band members. With two music videos to date, his videos are rooted in messaging that aims to inspire and uplift. “Our World speaks to the political landscape as well as past and present-day struggles,” he says. Marvin has always found ways to implement music to address the various transitions in society and his personal life. One of his productions, St. Louis Bounce, is inspired by the loss of his late mother, who passed away in 2011. “Music helped me deal with the depression I felt after losing my mother.”

Marvin cites his marriage and having a family of his own as one of his most significant accomplishments, His daughter played the keyboard in his very first Jazz concert in 2004. “There is a sense of pride and joy when I can witness former students and family begin careers in music,” he says.

Navigating the musical landscape in Saint Louis and East Saint Louis has been challenging, and Marvins shares that, “Musically, it has been difficult to find managers and people to network.” From composing R&B in the brand 80s and 90s, Dr. Seth Brownridge collaborated with Marvin to create music. The Breeze was formed with the addition of Carl “Guitar” Watkins.

The band began to transition between 2002-2004 and eventually parted ways. Marvin Cockrell Music Focus became the business and Focus became the band. Marvin praises his wife Vivian for her support and assistance in promoting Music Focus. “If it wasn’t for the support of my wife, I would not be here five CD’s later.”

It’s apparent the path for Marvin hasn’t always been clear, yet the journey from the beginning of the musical pursuits were ordered for him to live out his purpose. “God has a plan for me and doors keep opening,” he says.

Some previous challenges for Marvin regarding management and publicity were alleviated when his very own daughter Dr. Maurya Dominica became his business manager. As such, Music Focus has an enhanced social media presence and visibility. As Marvin reflected on his journey as a musician, he realized that everything was predestined by design. He relied on his spirituality to aid him in overcoming the obstacles he encountered and shared, “Through prayer, perseverance, and determination, I was able to get my music out there.


Additionally, Marvis was given a proclamation from Tishaura O. Jones. the Mayor of the City of Saint Louis. Beginning in 2023, the month of August will be “Marvin Cockrell, Music Focus Month”. In honor of this proclamation. Marvin desires to continue impacting the Saint Louis community through musical entertainment and education awareness. Various workshops, activities, and performances will be held to commemorate Music Focus during August in the St. Louis Area.

Focus’ music has been played on various national radio stations and is available on all major streaming platforms. Mavin is recognized for starting the first Suzuki string program for preschool and kindergarten in the East Saint Louis School District. Recently, he played internationally in Rome, Italy, and Paris, France. Marvin currently serves as the Musical Director for Greater Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church.

During his career, Marvin has opened for greats such as the late Dennis Edwards of the Temptations, and Will Smith and played alongside Cameo and Saint Louis Saxophonist Tim Cunningham.

Marvin’s exhilarating passion for composing music is apparent in his everyday walk. Amazingly, the words spoken to him by his father have manifested. Marvin shares he is thankful to his father for the push to begin music lessons, “He was an electrician, he would be on the ground getting dirty, but he told me I would be in a suit and tie,” Marvin says.

In the future, Marvin plans to write two or three more cd’s and continue to host and conduct various workshops. These will focus on music education, playing, writing, leading a band, and the business of running and managing a band. Marvin desires to continue working with artists of various ages to inspire his writing and teach the next generation of young musicians. He is working on a music project to bring out the energy and passion he experienced in Barcelona, Paris, and Rome. “These three cultures greatly influenced my music and me as a person.” In addition to traveling and creating more music, Marvin hopes to cultivate an environment in St. Louis where music transcends all racial, socioeconomic, age, and access boundaries. h NY/NJ - Nov./Dec. 2022 26

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. NY/NJ - Nov./Dec. 2022 30
“I learned that surrounding myself with people who can help me is like being surrounded by tangible Godliness.” Jasmine Bledsoe President

Rock City Staffing Agency, LLC

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.

34 h
Vivian Brittenum
Rock City Staffing Agency LLC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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of LaSaudia Moore
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