Huami Magazine for Raleigh Sept 2023

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® RALEIGH-DURHAM Sept./Oct. 2023 Vol. 5 Issue 2 Astylux Notary & Courier Services

“We looked like a wholesome, loving family on the outside, but on the inside, our house was a living hell. I had a controlling father, and my mother was his punching bag. I felt abandonment, fear, anxiety, and depression. I didn’t take care of my childhood trauma, so it showed up in my adult life. I wanted control, and the men in my life were victims of my wrath. My life came full circle when I met a man just like my father.

It is time for my story to be told my way. My trauma. My triggers. My truth.”

Dear Abuser…

Your Copies Today!!

Align Your Assignment With God

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

Your assignment is not the assignment of everyone else. Once I learned what those nine words truly meant, my focus on life changed. Of course, I have been told that God gives His toughest battles to His strongest warriors, but that memo didn’t include details of when the battles would end. Instead of sticking my chest out during my victories and hanging my head during the moments of defeat, I’ve decided to learn from each circumstance, and by doing so, I am prepared for the next battle with each new day.

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?

The best advice I have ever given myself is to be satisfied in my attempts to be better. When I first launched Huami Magazine, I was presented with a situation that adversely impacted the quality of my relatively new publication. I was frustrated, but I also knew what had occurred and why it happened. The idea of quitting never came into my mind, even while I sat motionless, staring at the balled-up copy in reference. I didn’t know then, but God was preparing me for something greater.

Terry L Watson Publisher

Dorjae’ McClammey

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.

Tamara Smith

In November of this year, we will begin our seventeenthanniversary celebration of the birth of Huami Magazine. When I think about all of the layouts, the photo shoots, the interviews, and the distributions that have taken place, all I can say is God has been faithful and continues to keep His promise.

Todd Youngblood Photography

Howard Gaither Photography

Had I given up in the beginning, the stories and testimonies of countless individuals may have never been published. Had I given in to the pressure of operating in the unknown, my mother would have never been able to mail magazines to her friends. Had I not decided to pour everything I have in me into producing something my community would celebrate, the hope that others have in God doing a great work for them may not exist.

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.

Make you tomorrow happen today, but most importantly make it count.

All of my assignments have come with a lot of responsibility. What is more interesting is that the same set of instructions has accompanied them all: to seek God first and operate according to His plans. My assignment is not everyone else’s, and I know everything I desire is connected to how it aligns with God’s plan. Learn your assignment and align it with God. He will handle the rest for you.

4 4 November/December 2014 Want To Advertise? Call (336)340-7844 Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography Shaw Photography Group Still Shots Photography Who Shotya Photography Layout Mykel Media Company Linda Bennett HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication P.O. Box 20102 (336) 340-7844 On The Cover Photo by Shaw Photography Group
Life is but a whisper and we must put ourselves in a position to hear what it is telling us.
Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Joy Rogers Writer Monica Montgomery Writer
Ashleigh Crawley Photographer
Inquiries Mykel Media Company LLC Greensboro, NC 2023 All Rights Reserved Want To Advertise? Call 336-340-7844 Scan The QR Code Above To Visit Our Website (336)340-7844 General Inquiries A Letter From The Editor
Todd Youngblood Photographer Alphonso Abbott Photographer General
Terry L. Watson

Ellery Lundy

Nycole L. Johnson

After serving his country, and serving the Memphis Police Department, he has chosen to spend the rest of his life serving youth. Learn more his journey and career. Memphis, TN

Richmond, VA

Indianapolis, IN

Astylux Notary & Courier Services T. Alexis Byrd SEPT./OCT. 2023 RALEIGH/DURHAM CONTENTS 6 On The Cover Also Featured
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Aj 12 28
and The Cool Kids Antonio & Tonya Tolson The Skrub Kafe Leatriece Franklin
The Saucey Chick Nikki Knox Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Ashton Hairston 16
Craig Littles
Men are faced with many challenges and obstacles in life. The Broken Men Foundation is here to help them cope with them. Who knows what she will do next? Learn more about how she has excelled in all facets of her life, including business, with the love of God.

Astylux Notary & Courier Services

Hailing from Catawba County, NC, particularly Hickory, NC, T. Alexis Byrd is deeply connected to her roots. However, her upbringing carries a unique twist due to her family’s military background spanning an impressive five generations. Her legacy was further enriched by formative years spent in Germany, a testament to the enduring commitment of her family to serve. Alexis says those diverse experiences have shaped her.

In 2001, Alexis embarked on a new journey with the United States Air Force as a dedicated Logistician. In her role, she gained invaluable skills, exhibited a strong sense of discipline and duty, and enjoyed a career lasting 20 years. Having concluded this illustrious chapter, Alexis now resides alongside her teenage son in Wayne County, NC. Wayne County, she says, has become her cherished home, a place where she is forging a fresh path as an entrepreneur, driven by the values and principles instilled by her family’s rich military history.

Throughout her career, Alexis has had the privilege of shouldering diverse responsibilities within the intricate supply chain process. These roles ranged from offering indispensable customer support to military personnel and civilians to orchestrating management of issuance, storage, order requests, transportation logistics, inventory upkeep, real-time tracking, security protocols, repairs, and addressing general inquiries regarding an extensive assortment of supplies and invaluable hazardous equipment. Alexis was also entrusted with safeguarding Personally Identifiable Information (PII), reinforcing the importance of data security and privacy. Furthermore, Alexis acquired valuable skill sets that she still utilizes today.

Photos Provided by T. Alexis Byrd Photo Provided by Litrato by Lorenzo

Alexis also holds the distinction of being an Iraq veteran, having undertaken a deployment to the region. This experience bolstered her expertise and honed her ability to navigate complex and challenging situations. Over the course of her Air Force career, she achieved significant academic milestones and earned an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Logistics from the Community College of the Air Force. She also attained a Bachelor’s Degree of Arts in Social & Criminal Justice with Magna Cum Laude honors from the University of Arizona Global Campus, formally Ashford University.

Today, Alexis owns Astylux, LLC, a diverse notary company based in Wayne County. Their services include Notarizations, Mobile Notary Services, Electronic Notarization, In-Person Electronic Notarization (IPEN), I-9 Employment Verification Forms, Efficient Courier Services, Comprehensive Administrative Support, Notary Signing Agent, Witnessing Services, and Apostille Agent Services.

“Our services come to you,” Alexis says. “We utilize our extended knowledge of the federal and state laws, immeasurable customer service skills, leadership, and compassion to ensure essential documents of community patrons are legally authenticated, protected, and transported safely with the utmost confidentiality and care.” Convenience is provided at your doorstep with exceptional Mobile Notary Services. “Our team brings the notarization process to you. Whether it’s your residence, business, or place of employment, we are committed to making notarization hassle-free and accessible,” she says. Astylux was recently aligned with the EscrowTab platform to integrate IPEN Services. “We expertly fuse in-person and electronic processes,” Alexis says, “redefining notarization for enhanced efficiency, real-time updates, and advanced encryption techniques.”

As a Notary Signing Agent, Alexis partners with various Title Companies, Lenders, Borrowers, Sellers, Escrow Officers, Loan Officers, Attorneys, Settlement Agents, Real Estate Agents and various Signing Agencies. “We ensure a seamless process, acting as impartial witnesses and ensuring swift communication with lenders.” Providing Apostille Agent Services ensures her client’s documents are properly authenticated by the Secretary of State for international use. Whether it’s a vital record, legal document, or business agreement, her company navigates the complexities of the apostille process.

So how did Alexis start her company? She says, nearly five years prior to her retirement from the U.S. Air Force, a journey unfolded that would shape her into a business owner. She learned the role of a notary held the potential to greatly enrich and uplift her community. Her vision went beyond the conventional, encompassing the creation of a meticulously tailored mobile notary service to meet the unique needs of Wayne County and its neighboring regions. She emphasizes, “While our services are finely tuned for this specific region, it’s crucial to note that they are designed to benefit everyone, regardless of location or background. We aim to reach a wide, diverse audience, ensuring that quality assistance is accessible to all.”

Our services are tailored to cater to the specific needs of this region. However, it’s important to note that our services are designed to benefit everyone, regardless of their location or background. We extend our offerings to a broad and diverse audience, ensuring quality assistance is accessible to all.”

Drawing on her expertise as a Logistician and her educational background in Social & Criminal Justice, Alexis developed an integrated notary and courier service that aligned with the convenience-driven ethos of the community. She also aimed to create opportunities for employment and mentorship, nurturing local talents in business and notarial domains. She immersed herself in over twenty Small Business Association courses, both in physical and virtual spaces. She served as an Apostille Agent, an I-9 Employment Verification Authorized Representative, a Notary Signing Agent, and even a Courier. Alexis enrolled in the Notary class at Wayne Community College and the Electronic Notary course at Wake Tech Community College. By August 2021, she proudly became a Commissioned Notary. She was then certified as a Notary Signing Agent in March 2022. She obtained her courier license in June 2022. On February 14, 2022, Astylux LLC was formed. The grand inauguration of Astylux Notary & Courier Services on July 1, 2022, marked the beginning of a significant chapter devoted to redefining notarial and courier services in her community.

Alexis says she appreciates the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to her community. “Every day brings the chance to connect with diverse individuals, expanding my network while keeping stress at bay. The continuous learning, whether it’s about business dynamics, local insights, or new regulations, keeps me engaged and educated. This knowledge is a gift I’m eager to share, allowing me to teach others along the way.”

Alexis appreciates the individuals who have had a significant influence in making her the accomplished woman she is today. One is Reverend James N. Holloway, her grandfather. He pastored while concurrently owning a highly regarded janitorial service in Hickory, NC. Alongside him, she credits her grandmother, Nettie G. Liles-Holloway, who served as a dedicated first lady and a missionary, deeply involved in community outreach.

Alexis also acknowledges the support of her customers. “Each time they reach out, or I arrive at their location, their genuine gratitude and sense of relief leave a lasting impact. Their overwhelmingly positive reviews are uplifting and serve as a driving force, propelling me to push forward and consistently enhance the services I offer,” she says.

Looking ahead, Alexis shares her plans involve a steadfast dedication to continuous learning as a notary and business owner. “ I’m committed to elevating my brand’s presence by acquiring innovative skills, enabling me to effectively engage with a broader audience. In summary, my vision includes a continuous journey of selfimprovement, expanding my brand’s influence through innovative skills, and extending my impact beyond local boundaries,” she concludes.

To learn more about Astylux, LLC and the services they offer, please visit their website.

Astylux Notary & Courier Services 919-756-3986
Alexis Byrd
T. Alexis Byrd enjoyed a 20 year career in the United States Air Force

Broken Men Foundation

Ellery Lundy is the President and Founder of The Broken Men Foundation. His nonprofit organization is designed to help men deal with trauma from various life situations, whether it be divorce, separation, drug abuse, gun safety, gun prevention, and more.

A native of Richmond, VA, Ellery says that just because someone is broken, it doesn’t mean they should stay broken. “We want to teach men through our program how to take back the community and lead in a positive way. We also want to extend our hands to the youth and raise boys to become men,” Ellery says. “Men have a tendency not to communicate. We act out in different fashions, sometimes resulting in domestic violence, becoming abusive parents, or worse. Men must understand they aren’t alone in this journey, and it is okay to talk about the past and move forward.”

In 2014, the Academy began with only three participants. Since then, its focus has specialized on mentoring young men between the ages of 12-18 and offering a 16-week curriculum covering a variety of topics aimed at better understanding adolescent behavior to allow our mentors to teach problem-solving skills.

Ellery shares his organization is deeply rooted in academic achievement, the establishment of social skills, self-esteem and responsibility, citizenship, and community involvement. “Our ultimate goal is to make young men accountable for their actions, thus enabling them to become productive members of our community.” As of 2023, they have graduated over 500 men.

Ellery has been certified in the Fatherhood Initiative program for fragile families through the Virginia Department of State Social Services and Certified in Crisis Intervention. He has coached various sports in the community, from girl’s basketball to little league football, and has also officiated numerous games from little league, high school, and even semi-pro.

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Photos Provided by Ellery Lundy

The Broken Men Foundation gives back to its community with its outreach program. In September, they conducted a back-to-school supply event. In October, they will conduct a breast cancer walk to raise cancer awareness, and in November, they will conduct a Thanksgiving food drive and give food to families in need. Additionally, they will partner with other organizations in December to give away toys to families.

Ellery shares that what he loves most about his foundation is dealing with the unknown. “When we have young men into our program, we may not always know what they are dealing with. We began by letting our mentees know that we love them. We want them to know that none of us are perfect, and we are all in this thing together,” he says.

Ellery acknowledges his mother, Lydia Lundy, for instilling sound values into him and his siblings. “She always told me as a young man that I was no less than any other man. My mother told me whenever I needed to tell a man something, to look into his eyes and tell it. She taught us to be respectful and confident,” he says.

Of course, Ellery couldn’t do all that he does alone. A stellar group of individuals, such as Steve Clarke, the Executive Director and Vice President of the organization, surrounds him. There is also James Fobbs, Keith Adams, Pastor Calvin Harris, Shawn Hobbs, Troy Mithcell, James Jones, Charles Johnson, Chris McNeil, Ray Smith, Rickey Brown, William Simmons, and Leroy Terry Cain, Jr. Some additional assistance comes by way of Doreen Lundy, Joe Lajoie, and Rachel Fenton.

When asked if he would change anything about his journey with the organization, Ellery says he wishes he would leave his job sooner. “Other than that, there is nothing I would change. I believe we are where we are supposed to be in life. I appreciate every part of the journey,” he says.

Looking ahead, Ellery hopes to take his organization to higher heights. “I want to make our organization bigger than organizations like ours. I want to secure more grants and help our organization to be bigger than the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA. Those are both great organizations, and we have the opportunity to reach even more young men. I want to secure a building and buses to transport our group to events outside Richmond. I want to ensure they are exposed to the things that will help them continue to succeed.

To learn more about the Broken Men Foundation, please visit their website.

Our ultimate goal is to make young men accountable for their actions, thus enabling them to become productive members of our community.”
Ellery Lundy

Memphis Shelby Police Activities League “A Little Can Go A Long Way”

Over the years, stories of youth growing up in crimeinfested areas have become increasingly common. Craig Littles, a military veteran and former law enforcement officer from North Memphis, Tennessee, has a similar story. But instead of giving in to the pull of the role models in his community, Mr. Littles took a different path with the help of his mother and sports coaches. Grateful for the opportunities and help he was blessed to have, Craig has built a community that helps kids like him find a different path. Today, he is the founder and Executive Director of the Sheriffs and Police Activities Leagues. The Memphis Shelby Police Activity League, or PAL, has been a life-altering organization for the youth of North Memphis for over thirty years.

In addition to being the founder of the Memphis Shelby County PAL, Craig is the National PAL Vice President. Nationally, PAL serves 1.5 million youth, over three hundred chapters, and seven international chapters. Locally, Memphis PALs serve over two thousand youth annually.

Craig’s passion for being an advocate and resource for the youth in his community comes from a deep sense of gratitude and respect for God and those people he believes God sent to help him beat the odds.

“Growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Memphis, my role models were gang bangers and dope dealers,” Craig explains. “I started this program thirty years ago to be a better role model than our kids see in the community every day.”

Craig, a single parent to three, now adult children understand the importance of good examples outside and in the home. He and his brother, John Littles were raised by a single mother, Carolyn Willis who made sure they were surrounded by strong male mentors who could give them good guidance and sound advice when needed. “My brother and I are a year apart, and our mother ensured we were always involved in something positive. We were really good at sports, so that’s where we focused our energy,” Craig shares. “It made our mother happy because it kept us busy, in school, and away from influences that would distract us.”


A star athlete, Craig, and a fellow teammate were being heavily recruited to play college football. Going to college and getting a degree, all while doing something you enjoy would be ideal for anyone working to change their circumstances. Craig was no different, but he had to look at the bigger picture.

“I wanted to go to college, but I needed to get out of Memphis. One weekend, a teammate and I were scheduled to be picked up for a college visit. We waited, and they never came. The entire weekend passed, they didn’t come, and no one called. We found out later the coach and the staff of the college’s program were fired,” Craig shares.

Feeling like the college option was closed to him, he did what a lot of young men do. He went to the military. “When the college tour fell through, I signed up for the Army as soon as I was able to. College was my first choice, but in the end, I had to get out of my neighborhood. I saw the military as the fast way to do that at the time.”

After four years in the Army, one spent in the Dessert Storm campaign, Craig came home with a purpose. “While in Dessert Storm, I prayed to God. I told him if he got us home safely, I would do whatever He told me to do! I had no idea of what that would be. I didn’t know if I would be a minister, a teacher, or a chef! It didn’t matter. If God got me out of the foxhole and home safely, I would dedicate my life to doing what he directed me to do,” He shares pointedly. “When I returned home, I kept my promise. I went with what I knew and what had worked for me and my brother as children. Sports.”

In 1996, Craig started the first youth sports program. “When I got out of the Army, God led me to start a youth organization. I gathered several of my high school buddies, and we started with twenty-five football players and five cheerleaders and started our youth football cheer program called Memphis Bears Inc.”

Craig returned home in 1991 and joined the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in the jail division; later, he became a Memphis Police Officer. “Law enforcement felt like a natural progression for me but not for the reasons you may think,” Craig starts to explain. “I’ve always felt the call to help people. For that reason, I find myself drawn to the jobs and situations nobody wants to do.”

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Growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Memphis, my role models were gang bangers and dope dealers.... I started this program thirty years ago to be a better role model than our kids see in the community every day.”
Pictured from top right to bottom right: 1. Craig Littles with his children (Eldest, YarKeva Nicolé Littles, and twins Morgan Janay Littles, Branson Marcel Littles). 2. Craig as a soldier in the US Army 3. Young baby Craig (5 months old)
1 2 3 4
4. Craig while serving as an officer with the Memphis Police Department.

In the thirty years since starting their first sports program, Craig and his team have been strategic and hyper-focused on creating programs that benefit the youth and the community. Continuing to draw from his own childhood, Craig wanted to channel the group’s efforts toward mentorship. “Again, growing up without a father in the home, my mother tried to ensure my brother and I were exposed to good male role models. Whether it was our uncles, the pastor, or our coaches. She positioned us in a space where we had positive examples to help shape and mold us into the men we are today. Our coaches held us accountable and gave us goals. Those things kept us out of trouble. That is what we set out to do for the kids in our community. We wanted to give them good role models to emulate because that is what worked for us,” Craig explained.

Because of the overwhelming response to their initial project, new programs and initiatives Trezevant were started. “We started with the twenty-five football players and five cheerleaders, and we immediately saw the positive impact that it made in our community. As a result, the program grew. We started a track program, a summer program, and on the academic side, we have tutoring and homework assistance,” Littles shared with enthusiasm. “There was such a need; students and families were hungry for the opportunities our programs have brought to this community.”

In the years since Craig gathered a few high school buddies to honor his promise to God, they have not had a shortage of support from the community. “We have a strong volunteer base and partners who provide financial support. We have thirty staff members and over two hundred volunteers that span all programs. Our volunteers include the advisors, coaches, tutors, board members, and booster club.”

Because Memphis Shelby PAL is an independent non-profit, the program relies on financial support from sponsors and partners. “We have been so blessed to have so many people and companies who believe in us and what we are doing here,” Craig explains. “The programs that we create are not based on what I think is needed. We listen to the community and create programs based on their needs. Whether the need is nutrition, mentorship, or help with academics. We work to find a partner that helps us meet that need.” Craig shares. “If a parent says they need intervention for their child, we’ve partnered with the Ford Foundation and the juvenile court. In some cases, in lieu of being arrested, those students attend my training. There are a plethora of avenues that we can access to support our families at Littles or no cost to them.”

The success of the programs that MSC PAL has instituted has been evident in the students who graduate from it. “We have students who go on to complete college and trade school successfully. We have students who come back and volunteer, and we’ve had students come back and teach or join the police department in their community,” Craig said with pride. “That is why our program is so successful. We focus on

where the need is. For those reasons, the people of the community respect what we do, and we get to see the success stories that make this all worthwhile.”

If you haven’t caught on yet, Craig Littles loves his community and the people that live there. So, it was only fitting that the program be housed at his alma mater. “The best part is that we were able to host the program at our alma mater, Trezevant High School. That’s where it started for us. Now, thirty years later, we are still there and have been blessed to open an after-school program inside of the school. Trezevant High School and Memphis Shelby County Schools donated a wing inside of Trezevant. With a $300,000.000 renovation, Memphis Shelby County PAL was able to start after-school, summer, and extended learning programs,” Craig said proudly.

Over the years, Craig has been recognized for his labor of love. Craig has received numerous awards, such as the Meritorious Community Service Award by former Mayor W. W. Herenton, Outstanding Community Service by former Congressman Harold Ford Jr., River City Gala, Community Man of The Year, and Community Service Award, Memphis Police Department, just to name a few.

Staying true to his original vision to give kids in the North Memphis community something to emulate, make them proud of themselves, and stand a Littles taller, Craig’s current project is to give the local schools a stadium to hold their sports events.

“Right now, the schools must leave the area to participate in sporting events. They don’t have a place in their community built for them,” Craig explained. “The Field of Dreams Project is a state-of-the-art sports stadium where local schools can host sporting events and activities,” he shares passionately.

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The Love Is In The Sauce

There is no secret in her sauce; nothing but savoring deliciousness. Chef Angela (Nikki) Knox is known as “The Saucy Chick”. She is also the owner and founder of The Vine Catering.

She is a native of Cleveland, NC, a small town that neighbors Salisbury. At the age of seven, her family moved to Greensboro, NC. There, she attended Peeler Elementary School before graduating from Ben L. Smith High School. After attending Guilford Technical Community College and Guilford College, Nikki thought her career path would be accounting. However, while preparing for her own wedding, she found herself in need of a caterer. She also learned how expensive the cost of catering services was. Little did she know that her interest in food would open the doors to greater opportunities.

As a child, the structure of Nikki’s family consisted of her mother, father, and stepmother. Nikki’s grandmothers’ she says, had a significant influence on her. “As a small child, I would stand in the kitchen and watch my great-grandmother and watch her cook. I would join in when she allowed me to. I would snap the beans, shook the corn, and even clean the chitterlings.” That exposure helped shape Nikki’s mind, and her love for food and serving others was conceived.

Nikki’s interest in culinary grew from the ground level. She shares, “I got my degree in culinary from the school of hard knocks. I received the title of chef from Executive Chef Femi Frazier.” After marriage, Nikki started selling plates from her home. She also took some to her job, and a coworker recognized her gift and asked Nikki if she offered catering services. At that time, she had never catered anything, but her answer was still “yes”. Her coworker offered Nikki the job, and her journey as a caterer began.

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Photos Provided by Still Shots Photography

That was in 1997, and Nikki only charged five dollars a person. The name of her first catering company was Genesis Catering. She would also open a restaurant in Asheboro, NC, called Angela’s Chicken & Ribs. After closing that business, The Vine Catering came to life in 2003.

In 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nikki began to find new ways to sustain her business. She launched a YouTube show called Xtra Sugar Cooking In The Kitchen With Nikki. She also wrote a book that complimented the show. She shares the book was not only a cookbook but a story about her entrepreneurial journey. Today, besides her personal chef services, Nikki focuses on Xtra Sugar and Saucy Chick Gourmet Sauces.

Nikki has a heart to serve and is dedicated to giving back to her community. “I love life and God’s people. My desire is to see people come to the knowledge of the love of Christ, not being judged by who they are or what they do, but to know God loves us unconditionally and sent His son, Jesus so that we may have eternal life,” she says. Nikki has partnered with Cone Health and other non-profit organizations to prepare and serve weekly meals to those in need. Nikki is a mentor to inspiring chefs and offers internships to culinary students.


“With my personal chef services, my goal is to create experiences,” she says. Some of the gourmet sauces Nikki produces are “She Makin Me Krazee , Sweet Thang, She Hot, She Bossy, Triple Berry Bourbon”. Nikki says my favorite is Triple Berry Bourbon, which is marinade. My customer’s favorite is Sweet Thang.

Nikki says what she loves most about her company is the ability to go back and train and mentor others. She also appreciates the opportunity to provide her children with a sound and stable example to look up to. “My journey has come with many challenges and obstacles and hasn’t been easy. I have built my brand from scratch. I have lost some things, but I have learned to trust God. Amazingly, I still feel like I am just beginning, and everything I have accomplished has come by faith.”

The life of an entrepreneur can often be a trying and risky experience for some. If allowed to change how things have happened in her business, Nikki says she wished she had acquired more financial education initially. She also advises others who may follow in her footsteps to study their craft and learn from watching others doing something similar.

Moving forward, Nikki plans to continue producing material to air on her YouTube channel. She also hopes to see her line of gourmet sauces on grocery store shelves nationwide. She also plans to be a guest on the Sherri Shepherd Show. One thing is obvious: Nikki can get the job done if anyone is looking for professional catering services. And by the way, her sauces are also great for personal use and make great gifts.

To learn more about Nikki Knox, please visit her website.

Nikki Knox IG: sauceychicksauces Sauceychickllc/Xtra Sugar Creating Experiences Personal Chef Services youtube: Xtra Sugar Cooking In The kitchen with Nikki 336-508-8213 h


So many words and adjectives can describe Nycole Johnson. Imaginative, inventive, and servant are appropriate, yet there is more to her story. First and most importantly, she is a lover of God and professes that she wouldn’t be where she is today without God.

The East Chicago, IN, native and current Indianapolis is the youngest of three sisters of her mother’s children and the youngest of seven children of her father’s. Her adult son, Xavyon, is her only child, and the village she relies on for support consists of many family and friends.

At the age of 18, Nycole moved to Indianapolis to attend IUPUI. She initially pursued a degree in communication but was intrigued by the world of Technology and what it had to offer. She would eventually pivot and change her major and become the first African American female to obtain an Associate’s Degree in New Media. Next, she got her Bachelor’s degree in General Studies and would later work for the Indianapolis Urban League as their IT Coordinator. While there, she started an initiative to encourage young minority females to pursue careers in various areas of Technology and entrepreneurship and led high schoolers in programming to assist with closing the digital divide within their communities. To date, she has provided instruction and mentorship to over 300 youth and countless others.

Everything Nycole had accomplished up to then was already impressive. Still, there was more for her to do.

Nycole returned to school and obtained her Masters in Business and Administration, focusing on Leadership Development from Indiana Wesleyan University. She has worked in IT for over 25 years for the profit and nonprofit sectors.

Today, Nycole owns Rose of Sharon All Naturals LLC (ROS), a health and wellness e-commerce store. Rose of Sharon All Naturals is named after her late mother, who pushed Nycole to help make the world a better place. “I learned early on as a child that making a difference in my community was imperative. My mother taught me what it truly meant to give back and stand up for what was right,” she says.


Her company offers a variety of sea moss and functional mushroom-based products, some being consumable and others intended to be applied to the skin. “My products are designed for individuals seeking alternative methods to experience healthier lifestyles. They are intended for those who seek natural, life-changing results minus the artificial preservatives and colors. They are primarily vegan-based, but the face mask uses raw honey,” Nycole explains.

With Rose of Sharon All Naturals, there is something for everyone. “We have six Sea Moss flavored gels that are a true delight for your taste buds. The flavors are pineapple, strawberry, peach, green apple, not your ordinary lime, and original. Not only are they delicious, but they are packed with the incredible nutritional benefits of sea moss. Sea moss is known to boost immunity, improve digestion, promote healthy skin and nails, and much more,” she says.

Nycole also has four sea moss splash drinks. Made with coconut water and infused with the delightful flavors of strawberry lemon, peach mango, watermelon, and pineapple, these drinks are the perfect way to quench someone’s thirst. Not only do they taste amazing, but they are also rich in essential vitamins and minerals to keep her clients energized throughout the day.

For those looking for a quick and invigorating health shot, Nycole offers pineapple ginger sea moss shots to boost their wellness journey. “These shots are loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and immune-boosting benefits and combine the power of sea moss, fresh cold-pressed ginger, pineapple, lemon, aloe, and coconut water. Say goodbye to fatigue and hello to a revitalized body,” Nycole says.

The Chaga Tea is a delightful blend that tastes like sweet peach tea and comes in a plain variant, and the Lion’s Mane Lavender Tea with a hint of lavender. This unique blend combines the brain-boosting benefits of lions’ mane mushrooms with lavender’s anti-inflammatory yet calming properties.

With her skincare line, Nycoles offers a sea moss face mask, of which she describes as a powerhouse combination of sea moss, aloe, and raw honey, specifically designed to tackle acne, dry skin, and problem skin. This face mask is a natural and effective solution to achieve clearer and healthier-looking skin.

There is the Sea Moss Body Butter, available in four delightful scents: Baby Powder, Lavender, Mango, and Plain. There is also the ROS’s Pain Kicker cream. This unique formula combines sea moss with essential oils, which aims to relieve minor inflammation and pain.

30 Raleigh/Durham - July/August 2023
I learned early on as a child that making a difference in my community was imperative. My mother taught me what it truly meant to give back and stand up for what was right.”

Nycole says the vision for her company came from her stumbling on the ideal while trying to find alternative ways to cope with some issues she was dealing with. These were pre-covid conditions, heavy weight gain, loss of hair, and much physical pain resulting from a car accident in 2013. “I tried many western world medical remedies that did nothing but made me feel worse. Someone recommended sea moss, and I initially hesitated to try it. I eventually accepted the challenge but under one condition: I would have to tolerate the taste easily. I figured out a way to gain the wonderful benefits of sea moss and made sure it was naturally flavored.,” she said. The word quickly spread among Nycole’s family and friends about the transformation of her weight loss and improved health, and requests began to pour in for her sea moss. This is how Rose of Sharon All Naturals was born.

Nycole says what she loves most about her company is seeing the surprising look once someone tries her sea moss for the first time. She also appreciates the feedback and testimonials from her clients.

The journey of an entrepreneur can be very challenging. However, Nycole is a “Solopreneur,” which makes her business experience even more daunting. She shares, ‘I realize I can’t be everything to everybody at all times. I am not an expert in every aspect of what my business needs. Though I do most of it myself, I still have to contract certain aspects of the business needs, such as social media and marketing tasks, finance, and accounting. I also have a few mentors who offer sound advice and valuable resources.”

Funding has also posed a challenge for Nycole with her business. She has relied on her personal funds to build her brand without seeking assistance from any other source. Fortunately, she applied for grants and was awarded one earlier this year. “That funding has been a tremendous blessing and supported my business as sales continue to increase.”

As her future happens for Nycole, she is positioning her brand to be very successful on all stages. She shares, “ROS is steadily gaining momentum and is on track to be a go-to company for wellness needs. We are working hard to improve our brand and product offerings. Currently, we are working on rebranding, styling, launching a new name to trademark, and enhancing products. ROS will be known for its healthy and great-tasting natural sea moss and for being a wellness brand.:

Please visit their website to learn more about Rose of Sharon All Naturals.

Nycole L. Johnson Rose of Sharon All Naturals 1-800-690-7725 h

Young Male Mentoring Program Aims To Lead Youth To Purpose

The Purposed Man Mentoring Group (TPM) is currently seeking to partner with individual and corporate sponsors to assist with making our upcoming “KICKIN IT” Sneaker Campaign 2023 a success.

TPM is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization based in Greensboro, NC. Executive Director, Terry Watson, says, “Our mission is to meet the needs and concerns of young males while assisting them with becoming positive citizens through positive role modeling and hands-on activities. We also aim to provide them with guidance and assistance to develop great males of purpose.”

Terry also shares, “We strongly believe in the strength of individual and community empowerment through community building, community reinvestment, and peer-to-peer networking and connections.”

TPM is excited to host its first sneaker giveaway, designed for ten young males ages 8 to 13. The sneakers will be awarded to those that demonstrate a need. Each participant must submit a completed application to be considered for the awards. Those accepted participants will be awarded a shoe voucher for $150.

TPM is also looking for sponsorships and donations for the Kickin It Sneaker Campaign that will allow us to purchase T-Shirts, food, and supplies for the anticipated awards ceremony scheduled for October 22, 2023. At this event, the participants will be entertained by a guest speaker and receive other empowering information.

Any donations are tax deductible and are greatly appreciated. Donations can be made by visiting their website.

Antonio & Tonya Tolson AJ and The Cool Kids

We are honored to share the story of AJ and the Cool Kids, a nonprofit organizatioin led by Tonya and Antonio Tolson.

Tonya Tolson: How did your journey begin?

Our autism journey began when our son AJ was 12 months old. He was not meeting milestones on his Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3) test that children take at the pediatrician for monthly checkups. Until then, he was hitting all milestones, and I was relieved because, after several miscarriages, we finally had our rainbow baby. We soon found that he was not speaking. I contacted my local Child development office, CDSA, in Charlotte, NC. He was found to be Level I/II autistic. I literally could not believe that there was a problem with my beautiful blessing.

With the proper diagnosis at 18 months, our son started receiving free services through the CDSA department. I soon realized he would age out at three, and I would have to provide services at cost or enroll him in a Pre-K program in which I knew he would not be successful. It was then I decided I would become my child’s best advocate, provide the services privately, and pay out of pocket. With hard work and determination, our child went from being nonverbal to doing math in a traditional public school. This is partly due to our village and community of autistic families. We want to ensure other families have the same access to our child’s services. This foundation was created to educate and alleviate the stress of the diagnosis and life thereafter.

What does the team of your organization consist of?

My husband is the founder, and I am the director, but we have a staff that consists of a Public Relations Director, Asha Ellison, and our events team, Arletha McClelland and Kelly Mosley. With these people in place, we can serve families in the autistic community across the United States. I serve the entire autism population, from one-yearolds to adults. People tend to forget that autistic children become autistic adults, and they go underserved because of that fact.

Where do you and Antonio draw inspiration from?

Our first inspiration came from our son. The strides he’s made from diagnosis through today are not only an inspiration to our family but to many families like ours who hope for new milestones with their children. We are also inspired by the families we have touched with our social media posts and stories. I have encountered several families that are right where we started or who can relate to what we are doing for this community. It is not just the parents we have a direct impact on, it is all communities. In general, everyone’s lives have been touched by someone with autism.

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COOL AJ KI DS AND THE 704-675-0161
Information and Photos Provided by Tonya Tolson

Your story is so amazing. What do you love most about what you do?

We love the lives that we are


We also love how we can educate others external to this community. We have learned so much as an autism family, and we love the connections we’ve made on many different levels. This is what drives us. We want to ensure everyone knows that autism is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis. We have seen everything from high functioning to severe autism and learned a lot about the in-between. The love we have for our son and this community keeps us pushing forward in our work to spread education and awareness.

How has your program been received in your community?

We have received some great feedback regarding how our organization has grown. We have gone from helping one family in our first year to helping several this year. We have been told we are doing a fantastic job sharing our experiences. It allows parents and caregivers in the community not to shy away from what is going on with them. They see it is normal to have a child on the spectrum and that you can feel comfortable speaking about the good, bad, and the ugly side of autism. Yes, it is called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but it doesn’t mean your life has to be dysfunctional. We are here to help autism families navigate all those parts. A parent specifically told us that “we see her” and understand what she is experiencing. That’s made all the difference in what we are trying to achieve through this organization.

Your calling sounds like it can be challenging. How are you managing them?

Some of the challenges were getting our name out in the community and actually having people attend our educational sessions. We loved the gala celebration in August, but we want the community to be more informed about what is going on with autism. We also needed some help securing sponsorships and grants because of how new of an organization we are. We will get the sponsorships and grants needed to serve this community. The work that we do requires a certain amount of funding that we were providing from our personal funds. Through the news media and the gala this year, we secured a little more funding and help, but we still have a long way to go. I know we will be blessed to get everything we need to help make the loads lighter for autism families in the community.

What is next for AJ and The Cool Kids?

We are presenting several educational sessions online and in the Charlotte community to make others aware of what the autism community needs. We also want to partner with several businesses and organizations to make sure that they know what autism looks like. In the last year, I have seen many local organizations, businesses, and the arts cater to the autism community. We want to make them aware that they live and exist among us, and we need to know the varying needs of this community. We also want to grow into serving more families’ financial needs. Autism has a high cost medically and can take a toll on families emotionally and physically. We want to be a resource to those families and help them in any way possible. h


Leatriece Franklin Giving Back Is How She Does Business

Leatriece Franklin of Memphis, TN, is a multipreneur. She is the owner of both LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses and The Skrub Kafe Network. With LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses, she provides basic to advanced CPR Training to individuals and groups as early as nine years old. She also offers custom first aid kits and the children’s book series The Adventures of Captain LifeSaver and Kid Shock. With The Skrub Kafe Network, Leatriece offers high-quality scrub uniform styles and accessories, a spacious networking area, and LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses.

Leatriece is a native of Memphis and grew up in Raleigh and graduated from Raleigh Egypt High School. She is a mom of one son, Thomas. Since 1997, she has worked as a nurse. Additionally, she is a Retired Army Captain of 22 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, a Master’s Degree in Nursing (concentration in Leadership and Management), and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management.

Leatriece shares that her journey in business aligns with her career of serving in the military. “While in the Army, a Military Training Network certification through the American Heart Association was required to provide Basic Life Support training to EMT-B and EMT-B Recert students. As I trained people for the military, more people started reaching out for training on the civilian side. So in June 2016, LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses was born,” she says.

In 2018 LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses was designated as an official training site for the American Heart Association. In 2022, Leatriece published her first book in the series, The Adventures of Captain LifeSaver and Kid Shock. Her goal was to get LifeSaving concepts in front of children at an early age. “CPR can double to triple a cardiac arrest victim’s survival,” she says. Fast forward to 2023, LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses has trained and certified thousands of LifeSavers.

With The Skrub Kafe Network, Leatriece says she got tired of talking about what she wanted to do. “Sometimes you have to stop and check yourself and just try,” she says. “My lease with my CPR Training space was ending, and I thought it was the perfect time to acquire a space large enough to conduct CPR Training and provide scrub uniforms in one place. So, in August 2021, The Skrub Kafe Network was created.”

Her location is sectioned into three parts. There is one for scrub uniforms and another section for networking and seating. The third section is designated for CPR Training. The Skrub Kafe Network’s official opening happened on July 23, 2022. Leatriece says, “It was beautiful.”

The vision for both businesses, Leatriece says, came from a need. “The need to offer cost-effective and location-friendly training to all sorts of people, not just Healthcare Providers.” The community of Raleigh was chosen due to being an area of need. “There are no scrub uniform stores or CPR Training sites in Raleigh. It was also a goal for me to open up shop in Raleigh as a means of giving back,” she shared.

Leatriece says what she loves most about her businesses are the opportunities she has to meet amazing people, whether in class or during a sales transaction. “I love providing my amazing clients with the skills necessary to save a life and providing them with scrub uniforms at a competitive rate.”

While her journey continues to prove itself as a learning experience, Leatriece credits her family and friends with having a significant impact on her life and career. “The military and nursing have prepared me with thick skin. I can handle anything thrown my way. My mom was a nurse and retired after working for 32 years at the V.A. Hospital in Memphis. Her work ethic showed me you can do anything you put your mind to. My brother was in the Navy, and my sister was in the Air Force.”

Besides being faced with the challenge of having adequate capital to grow her business, Leatriece shares that marketing and staffing is just as important. She has addressed both by utilizing social media, word of mouth, texting, emailing, and more. “It’s hard, but if you want to be successful, you must keep going. I do what I can when I can, and I do more when I can. As a nurse, I’ve seen the horrible staffing market, and it’s no different for reliable retail associates.”

For those who may follow in her footsteps, Leatriece advises them to be determined and prepared. “Become as educated as you can in your field. Also, find a mentor or someone who will pour into you. It’s enough opportunity out there for everyone. Your path will be individualized for you, and things will happen when you want them to. It might not be when you want it to happen, but I’ll be right on time.”

As her future unravels, Leatriece plans to continue providing services in Memphis and hopefully nationwide. By the looks of what she has done thus far, Leatriece’s brands are here to stay.

Please visit their website to learn more about LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses and The Skrub Kafe.


Soul Food Scholar

Adrian E. Miller regards himself as the Soul Food Scholar who is dropping knowledge like hot biscuits. The Dever, CO, native has enjoyed careers in various arenas. He is a recovering attorney, a former Politico, and an author. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the Colorado Council of Churches. In his role, he brings people together across denominational lines in the Christian faith tradition, and they collectively do social justice work.

He focused on commercial litigation as an attorney, but the main focus was employment law. “That area of focus was not what I really wanted to do. I wanted to do corporate law, assist entrepreneurs in building their businesses, and help them develop an exit strategy. But, when you go work for a big law firm, they plug you in where they need you. It just wasn’t for me, and it got to the point where I was singing spirituals in my office,” he says.

As the Council of Churches, Adrian oversees 13 Christian denominations, representing over 800 churches in Colorado. Adrian primarily works with the mainline protestant denominations and strives to get people to connect people outside of their church walls and denomination walls. “Most people only relate to people in their church. I try to connect people in the broader Christian community and collectively do social justice work. We are a lot stronger than we are separately,” he shares.

Adrian’s journey also includes a stint with him working in the White House with former President Bill Clinton. The program he worked on was called The President’s Initiative for One America, an outgrowth of President Clinton’s initiative on race, which the late John Hope Franklin chaired.

As mentioned, Adrian is regarded as the Soul Food Scholar, a self-proclamation derived by Adrian. The books he has written on this subject matter include Soul Food: The Surprising Story of American Cuisine, One Plate At a Time, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet, and Black Smoke: African Americans and The United States of Barbeque.

Adrian says, “I am self-taught, and I arrived at this title due to unemployment. After leaving my stint at the White House, I was trying to get back to Colorado and start my political career. The job market was really slow, and I watched a lot of daytime television. In the depth of my depravity, I decided to read something and purchased a book from a local bookstore titled The History of Southern Food, written by John Edgerton. In his book, John said the tribute to black achievement in American cooking has yet to be written. I found that to be very interesting. I decided to reach out to him and see if he thought that was still true. John said he did and believed that no one had taken on the full story. With no qualifications at all, besides eating a lot of soul food and cooking it some, I started on the journey to answer my own question,” he says.

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Adrian Miller

Adrian headed back to Denver, and upon arriving, he got into politics. In his spare time, Adrian would read everything he could get his hands on about African-American food traditions. This included 3,500 oral histories about formerly enslaved people, 500 cookbooks, half of them authored by black people, and thousands of magazine and newspaper articles and talked to hundreds of people. Adrian shares that because he cares about his subject so dearly, he decided to eat his way through the country; he visited 150 soul food restaurants in 35 cities in 15 states. That exploration lasted about the course of a year and a half.

In regards to soul food, Adrian says his favorite dish is greens. “I love soul food greens. My favorite is mustard and turnip greens without the turkey. My mom is from Chattanooga, TN, and she cooked mustard and turnip greens. I learned there is a regional difference in the preference for greens. If you are from the Deep South, you will most likely eat collards. If you are from the mid-Atlantic, you will likely enjoy kale. I also love bone-infried Catfish. I love that,” he says.

In his travels to learn more about soul food, Adrian says what shocked him was learning the narrative that it was created by white people for black people as the food they did not want. “In doing my studies, I learned the Southern food story has more to do with class and place than it is about race. So, pretty much, African Americans of the same socioeconomic class are eating the same foods.”

He also gained a deeper appreciation of the African influences on soul food. “Before, I didn’t know much about African influence. I learned that African’s brought some of their foods to America from Africa and adapted to some things in America. I saw a lot more agency in trying to shape their foods while in the most horrific circumstances.”

Adrian says that due to his research, he has become inspired by the celebration of African-American cuisine. “I observed how the African American food tradition was heavily criticized while others were not. I wanted to know what was up with that. If you investigate the nutritional facts of other cuisines, you can’t argue they are healthier than soul food. I thought that something else must be going on. I learned that it is criticized because it is strongly associated with slavery and poverty. It is also believed to be inherently unhealthy. I wanted to unpack that and sort out fact from fiction. I also wanted to celebrate what we’ve brought to the table in terms of the cooks, the cuisine, and the culture,” he says.

For those interested in venturing on a journey similar to that of Adrian, the Soul Food Scholar, he offers some advice that may help along the way. “First of all, you have to do the work. It is so tempting to take a shortcut, but that often leads to mistakes. You must keep receipts because there are people who will doubt you, especially within the African-American culture. Also, find your bliss and that which sings to your heart and soul, and share your dream with others because that might open new doors of opportunity for you,” he says.

Please visit his website to learn more about Adrian Miller and purchase copies of his books.

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Adrian E. Miller Soul Food Scholar

Ashton Hairston

The son of Shannon Hairston
Elevate your style with A Few Wood Men’s empowering wooden watches! Corporate Team Building Girls Night Out Birthday Parties Lunch & Learn Mobile Candle Making Party “Our Candles Are Made With 100% Soy Wax and Non Toxic Fragrance Oils”
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