Huami Magazine Raleigh/Durham Sept./Oct. 2022

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Sept./Oct. 2022 Volume 4 Issue 9

The Glam Corridor Raleigh/Durham - Sept./Oct. 2022

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God’s Plan Is Greater Than Me There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

A Letter From The Editor

With every ordeal or trying circumstance, there will always be more thanAone way to handle them. We can face them head-on, or we Letter from the Editor can turn away and avoid any form of an altercation. No matter what decision is made concerning the matter, the impact or effect of what we chose will ifmost likely be waiting on the side of our decision. What tomorrow didn’t arrive? Allother of your plans, hopes That’s why I believe it’s vital to share our thoughts with God and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if beforehand andthat confirm His viewpoint plan isnever greater everything you decided to putbecause off untilGod’s tomorrow thanhappened? anything I can decide for myself. There would be no reason to save for a rainy

day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making Like most people, the thrill of victory is generally the reason why promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired I compete or fight. Also, if you are anything like me, I understand today? What would you do? that you may hate to lose, regardless of what is at stake. Yet, I am learning that I must do a better job choosing my battles because, for I’ve been told that I often seem like I do too much. the most part, every battle is not mine to fight. God desires to fight Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm for me, and He expects me to let go and allow Him to do His thing. believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me I’ve learned that the car drives better when He controls the wheel. 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 I recently celebrated my birthday, and to be honest; I celebrated for have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity the entire month. That was my choice because I love birthdays. I a blessing that afforded to everyone. A challenge also is used that time toisn’t reflect on where I am in life and where I’ve to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can come from. I wanted to know what I am currently doinghappen? to get to If IIdo nothing,want I fail,toand I try I was don’t, but instead where ultimately be.if What revealed is my learn interests and something new about myself. your pride and inthat efforts were possibly pointed in the Relinquish wrong direction. I learned acquire life. whilereturn I am blessed, God is more concerned about those individuals He can reach beyond me, and when I don’t allow God to use me, best advicethem ever through given tome. me happened when someone He isn’tThe able to reach Being vulnerable and a told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing soGod cooperative vessel are attributes of real greatness; that’s what I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only spoke to me. hope provided. I have also learned the difference between what Godasblesses me with and whatinlife burden with Living my life a Christian and believer Godcan means thatme I must as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and trust God. Even during the most difficult moments, if I just show to be quiet, because up for the fight and trust God while I when am fighting, I will then see someone may get it confused Him move on my behalf. The things that I may be dealing with and with being arrogant. may determined to be unbearable actually amount to nothing once it’s tomorrow placed in Make God’s you hand. How will I ever today,God butto most know ifhappen I don’t allow lead me? importantly make it count. but aand whisper andfor all God Life has aisplan purpose we His must putis ourselves a of us, and plan far greaterinthan position hear what it is I get anything we canto imagine or think. excitedtelling when us. I think about everything God has prepared for me. His is greater, and all I have to do is trust His process andTerry believeL.what He tells me. Watson

Editor/Founder

Terry L. Watson 4

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HuamiMagazine.com

November/December 2014

www.huamimagazine.com Terry L Watson

Publisher

www.huamimagazine.com Dorjae’ McClammey Editor In Chief Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Terry L. Watson Allen - Deputy Editor Ellen Alana Richardson Writer Monica Montgomery Writer Writers

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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 may be submitted to the editor by E-mail at terrywatson@huamimagazine.com terry.editor@yahoo.com or to Mykel Media Company, LLC P.O. Box 20102 Greensboro, NC 27420 HUAMI MAGAZINE 2014 All Rights Reserved

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CONTENTS

SEPT./OCT. 2022

RALEIGH/DURHAM

Richard Steadwell 28

Kingzi Royal Skin Care Products

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On The Cover

The Glam Corridor

Mia Adams

Tolbert Consulting Group

Julius Tolbert

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Get In To Your Element

Arlisa Thomas

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Laney Williamson

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Also Featured

Alice West-Goers Learn more about the face and founder of AWG Counseling Services LLC. Denver, CO

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Denaro Cook He spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Learn how he uses his experience to help others. Little Rock, AR

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Michelle Coleman Learn how this young and ambitious businesswoman is putting her name on her community. Columbus, OH

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The Glam Corridor By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Mia Adams Mia Adams, is a social media influencer and the owner of The Glam Corridor. Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Mia attended the beauty school at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown. Shortly after, she married her high school sweetheart. Now residing in Cary, NC, Mia is a full-time mom of two wonderful children, Londyn and Emory. Mia has always been sort of a fashionista and regarded as someone who knows a little something about style and fashion. “Every since I was a little girl, I would always watch my mom get dressed up for work or to go out with friends, and I believe because I was surrounded by such stylish women, my passion for fashion was ignited.” Mia says her brand, The Glam Corridor, started as a hobby. Mia would post day-to-day outfits, hoping to inspire others with her fashion sense, but something changed and Mia began to take social media professionally about three years ago. For a while, Mia shared she was praying and asking God what did he want her to do? “How did he want me to use my gift,” was something else she asked. Mia knew she wanted to expand her hobby into creating her brand, but she was struggling to find something that would make her stick out from the crowd. Then one day, she heard “corridor,” and it stuck. “I envisioned walking down a corridor with different rooms such as beauty, formal wear, casual, work attire, anything you can think of, whatever your mood is,” she shares. Today, The Glam Corridor is a one-stop shop for all of your beauty and style inspirations. Mia wants to help her followers, whom she calls her community, seek their authenticity and versatility with the help of her inspiring content. She also takes note of the direct messages she receives from her community asking for advice about certain outfits or events. When asked what life is like being an influencer, Mia remains proud yet humble with her response. “It all happened so fast. Just a couple of years ago, it was a hobby. I was not posting consistently, then once Covid hit, I began to feel stagnant and felt like I needed to do more in life, and so I prayed about it,” she says.

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fashion i love this

With her support system by her side, Mia started turning her hobby into a brand, skyrocketing from there. She was posting daily, becoming more strategic with her content, starting with over 500 followers. Today, she has over 60 thousand followers and says, “It’s a little bit overwhelming and surreal and everything happened so fast.” Still, it is exhilarating to see where things are going for The Glam Corridor. Although above all, Mia’s primary focus is to remain humble, and says it doesn’t matter if she gets two million followers, she will always be the same Mia. Through it all, Mia’s transition into a full-time mom and content creator has been smooth. Keeping with her faith and consulting God every step of the way has helped her life balance with being a mother, wife, and influencer. She also makes sure to stay strategic and organized; she writes down everything from the outfits to the reels to the times she posts.

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Regarding inspiration, Mia shows gratitude to fearless women who don’t feel the pressure to conform to trends and whatever everyone else is doing. “Women who are innovators and march to the beat of their own drum are what move me,” she says. She also credits her community for helping to shape her. “Their feedback, love, encouragement, and learning that I am a fashion inspiration are what pushes me to keep doing what I do.” While Mia is very happy with her position as an influencer, she says that there are some things she would change about the influencer industry, such as the expectations that influencers and content creators have of following a particular blueprint. “I feel that sometimes we must keep up with a certain aesthetic to be on trend. I’m not a big trendy person; you should be able to do what you want and what is best for your brand”.

For anyone thinking about following her in her footsteps, she noted that you must stay consistent, authentic, and patient. “It’s ok to get inspiration from other influences, but at the end of the day, you always need to be authentic to yourself,” she says. Moving forward, Mia has set many goals. Once she reaches one hundred thousand followers on Instagram, Mia plans to start her Youtube channel and branch out into different content, including lifestyle. She also plans to help other women balance their role of being a mom and understand self-care’s importance. As one final word to the ready, Mia wanted to say, “Be authentically you in all aspects of your life. Always be true to who you are.” You can check out all of Mia’s content on Instagram @theglamcorridor h

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Tolbert Consulting Group “Falling Forward”

For Julius Tolbert, entrepreneurship is in his DNA. As the oldest of four, he grew up in a family of business-minded people. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My granddaddy was in the logistics industry. He owned his own trucking company. My mother was an interior designer, my uncle had his own trucking business, and my grandmother was the family bookkeeper. So, I understood from an early age what entrepreneurship meant. Everything wasn’t always peaches and cream. I was exposed to the good, the bad, and the ugly when it came to growing businesses as a minority in the south,” Julius explains. “The most important lesson I learned was that falling is part of succeeding. Just as long as you fall forward.” Growing up, Julius says his grandparents were his biggest influence. “Being the oldest grandchild, although we all were exposed to that enterprising spirit to some degree, I would say I had a little more first-hand experience.” When Julius was fourteen, he moved in with his grandparents, whom he credits as the center of their family’s business prowess. “My grandparents ran a fully functioning business. My grandfather was also a driver, so he was away often. I spent most of the time with my grandmother, who ran the day-to-day operations that make or break a business,” he says. The expectation was that Julius would grow up and work in the family business, but he had plans of his own. “Watching my grandmother made me realize there was more to being a business owner than selling a product or providing a service. I think that’s why I focus on the behind the scenes work. The business behind the business.” Julius is putting the lessons he learned as a child to good use. He has two consulting companies: Tolbert Consulting Group and Cornbread Consulting Firm and co-founder of Black Economic Mobility Coalition. “Tolbert Consulting Group is a nationally recognized business credit and funding company. We help entrepreneurs that are serious about getting their business started the right way the first time. We help with everything from business coaching, business funding, payroll, and bookkeeping. Our goal is to give business owners the support they need to succeed. Cornbread Consulting Firm work specifically with small business owners that are in the hospitality industry. We assist restaurant, food truck, catering company owners get in business, turnaround existing business, and/ or franchise concepts. Then there is the Black Economic Mobility Coalition which is very similar to a chamber of commerce. Our mission is to identify, address and remove barriers to economic prosperity for black business owners. All three companies were birthed from the experiences and challenges he faced along the way.

His journey has had its significant highs and lows, but now he wants to help others fall forward. Julius has always known who and what he wanted to be in life. He just had to carve his own path. Not one to take the traditional route, Julius decided the military was the best path forward. “After high school, I joined the Navy. During my time, I went through two six-month deployments. I gained knowledge and exposure I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else during my travels. I saw myself and Black America from a different perspective. I have to say it definitely affected me,” he shares. As someone who already had plans, he says his time abroad helped shape and define his vision for the future. “When you live in the same place around the same people all the time, it’s hard to imagine a different kind of life. My time away allowed me to open my mind to the possibilities of what could be.” The unfortunate side of life in black communities is that it may be hard to do anything but worry about surviving. Julius decided he couldn’t live with the status quo. When he returned home, he was full of dreams and plans for the kind of world he wanted to live in and contribute to, but his ideas weren’t met with the excitement and support he was hoping for. He says, “After having the opportunity to experience other cultures and communities, my creative juices were overflowing. I wanted to push the boundaries and show my community that we don’t have to travel the world to experience it. However, I was met with a lot of resistance and close-mindedness. I kept hearing, “Aye, bro, ain’t nobody gonna come to that around here…” Thankfully, Julius wasn’t easily dissuaded.

Watching my grandmother made me realize there was more to being a business owner than selling a product or providing a service. I think that’s why I focus on the behind the scenes work. The business behind the business.

By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Julius Tolbert

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Along with his time in the military, another important factor that pushed him to think about the longevity of a business was the loss of his grandfather. “My grandfather stepped in during a crucial time in my life. He took on the role of father and mentor. He taught me about business etiquette and how to dress and be addressed. He taught me how to conduct myself in professional settings, and even how to talk and handle business in meetings,” Tolbert explains. “He taught me to make sure I do everything in excellence. People will remember you if you take pride in everything you do.” Using his grandfather’s wisdom, Julius went from an entry level position in restaurant all the way to the corporate offices. “It was never my intention to build a career. I wanted to build knowledge. I took advantage of every opportunity to learn a new skill. I worked at several restaurants as I continued to climb the ladder. That’s how I worked my way out of the kitchen to become a corporate manager overseeing a region of restaurants.” Julius was being paid to learn how to flip, manage, and maintain a restaurant successfully. He was learning restaurant hospitality from the inside out. “My first leap into the deep end of entrepreneurship was when a partner and I opened Cornbread to Caviar Catering, which later became a fully operational restaurant,” he says. Like most chain restaurants, the employees seldom met or had a relationship with the owners. Julius and the chef of the restaurant he was overseeing decided they were done training people to become their boss or compete for their jobs, so they struck out on their own and opened Cornbread to Caviar. He shares, “Our concept was a southern-inspired menu presented with a touch of elegance and creativity. So that’s what we did, or at least where we started. We kicked off our catering company with networking events like First Fridays.” These events weren’t just for the locals. Julius and his partner had a targeted audience. “We were intentional with our invitations. We invited corporate department heads, University chairs, and others we knew had influence with their companies. As a result, we were awarded their catering contracts.” From there, Cornbread to Caviar grew into a full-service restaurant, and Julius did well for a while. The restaurant earned Best New Restaurant 2009 and at a tender age of twenty-five, he was part owner and operator of a restaurant making over seven figures per year. Then the effects of the recession hit. We went from doing $1.5 million a year in sales to $750,000, but I was operating as if we were still making $1.5 million. At this point, I realized there were areas of running a business that I didn’t know. I was running way above cost and bleeding money.” In 2008, Julius lost his grandfather and mentor. So, it was a fatality of the economic recession without any guidance on how to make the adjustments needed to keep the restaurant above water. “I struggled with self-doubt and depression when the restaurant closed. That experience taught me a critical lesson. Success isn’t how great the business is doing right now. Real success is how well the business will be doing ten and twenty years down the road.” To say he landed on his feet is an understatement. One of the reasons Julius started his restaurant consulting business that caters to small companies is because, after twenty years in the hospitality industry, he learned what the mom and pops need to know. “I have essentially taken all my years of experience with corporate restaurant chains and made it available to the little man. I share all the processes and tools the big boys use to maintain continued growth with my clients. I never want anyone to find themselves in the position I did.”

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It doesn’t matter what your business is; knowledge is power. Julius and his associates are here to make sure you have the power to live your entrepreneurial dreams successfully. He can’t guarantee you won’t fall, but he will help you use the momentum to fall forward. h


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Meet The Author of The HBCU Homecoming By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by La-Donia Alford-Jefferies For those living within the Greensboro, NC community, the annual North Carolina A&T State University Homecoming can easily become a tradition. It is regarded as the Greatest Homecoming On Earth, or GHOE, and draws thousands to the Triad area, many of who are seeking to reconnect, engage, celebrate, and cheer for the Aggies . For La-Donia Alford-Jeffries, an A&T alumnus has created a couple of books, The HBCU Homecoming and the HBCU ABCs, and hopes they will educate and inform current and future HBCU students on the significance and history of the HBCU experience. At a young age, she was taught the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities by her mother and father, and has attended HBCU Homecomings regularly since the age of three. Her mother worked for 40 years as a full-time professor at an HBCU, and her father is an alum of A&T. She recalls how she attended A&T football games with her father and continues to sit in his lifetime stadium seats. As a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and Fort Valley State University, La-Donia continues to advocate for HBCUs. After having children, La-Donia was inspired to share her family’s experience of attending HBCU Homecomings with families around the world. Additionally, she is a former Adjunct Professor at A&T, and currently serves as the Chief of Staff for the National Organization for Women and advocates for equality.

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La-Donia says she decided to write her books in 2015, but the first book was eventually published in 2019. The HBCU ABCs was self-published in 2022. “When I was pregnant with my first child, I began looking for a children’s book that would help me explain homecoming and the HBCU culture to my children. There were some HBCU children’s books, but none specifically talked about homecoming. So I decided to write one. With the success of the homecoming book, I wanted to continue the story and highlight HBCU culture for children. I then wrote and published the HBCU ABCs to tell the story of what happens after homecoming. I wanted to explain the different aspects of college for children and highlight why HBCU’s are far from inferior institutions,” she says. La-Donia says what she loves most about sharing her books is showing children what it’s like to attend an HBCU, even if they have never been on a college campus. “I’ve seen children light up when I’ve read both books. They become full of questions that lead to a discussion of higher education,” she shares. The response to her books has been wonderful. Essence magazine listed her book as one of the 50 “must read” Black Children’s and Young Adult books of the past 50 years. The production, Because of Them We Can, featured the HBCU Homecoming book, calling it “If “A Different World” had a children’s book, this would be it.” La-Donia’s parents have played a huge role in her life as they have been a part of the Greensboro community for over 20 years. They have made an impact through education, community leadership, and service and have not only supported La-Donia and her brother on their HBCU journey’s, but they have helped others attend college and have always talked about the importance of attending an HBCU. In the future, La-Donia says she plans to continue to share her stories and encourage all children to be confident. She also plans to help children learn about the opportunities available through higher education. To learn more about La-Donia and her books, please visit her website. h

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Get In Your Element By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Arlisa Thomas Life. Love. Basketball. In that order. That is how Arlisa Thomas moves. She is someone who wears many hats, and with each one, her composure and balance are sustained. Arlisa is a professional basketball player, entrepreneur, graphic artist, model, fashion designer, aspiring actress, and movie producer. If that wasn’t enough, her goal is to add even more to her list of accomplishments. Arlisa is a native of Cary, MS, and she shares that she began learning what her gifts and talents were at a young age. She is the sixth of seven children and credits her large family setting with positively impacting her life. “I began playing basketball and embracing my creative talents when I was between five and ten years old. My life revolved around my desire to do something away from my six siblings. Being in a home of seven was busy, and we had experiences that most other families had, like interaction, sharing, and normal kid arguments. I eventually dove into my own world and explored who I was. I wanted to learn what I could do, and playing basketball was something I learned,” she says. Arlisa holds a Masters degree, Bachelor’s degree, and Associate degree in the fields of Technology, Education, and Graphics. She has enjoyed a successful career as a professional basketball player. She is also the owner of SIBA (South International Basketball Association”) and Lisa Thomas “Get in Your Element”.

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With SIBA, Arlisa provides player exposure, mentorship, life skills, and allaround player development for current and aspiring professional basketball players. Their platform is designed for players who desire to play on all professional platforms such as the NBA, D-League, WNBA, FIBA, and other player-accommodating organizations. SIBA prepares players for endorsements and life after basketball through community impact development. Arlisa says her journey as a professional basketball player has been life-changing. “I have learned the game from all angles. My court vision has taught me that the same vision is applied in everyday life. I was taught how important it was to be a leader, be effective in what I do, help others around me become better than they are, and execute and model what greatness is so that the people around me are impacted through my achievement,” she says. Being able to fill the gaps for players, coaches, and organizations who seek elite players is something that Arlisa says she enjoys doing. She often reflects on the words and encouragement of her late mother and credits her with having the most significant influence and impact on her life and career. Arlisa’s message to other aspiring athletes and business owners is to keep God first in all that you do. She shares that doing so will ensure you have a fulfilling path of purpose. In the future, she plans to continually be a source of influence in the lives of others. h

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Michelle

Coleman The Coleman Estate JC

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided byMichelle Coleman This young and vibrant entrepreneur has one thing on her mind: to succeed. She is no stranger to hard work; at a moment’s notice, she is ready to roll up her sleeves and make things happen. Micelle Coleman of Ohio, comes from a large family. Along with her twin sister, she has five other siblings. She describes her mother Theresa Magee, as being strong and wise. Her father, the late Frederick Coleman, was awarded a purple heart for his sacrifice in the U.S. Army. When her father died at a young age, Michelle says her mother, aunt, and uncle worked in unison to ensure that she and her sister never went without. “They were someone we looked up to. They never forgot a birthday or holiday, and they instilled in us the importance of education. I would not be who I am today if it were not for the three of them,” Michelle says. Originally born in Nashville, TN, Michelle attended Forest Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi. There, she ran track, cross-country and created a dance team in high school named the 601 Chicks. “The dance team gave young girls like me a fun space to express ourselves throug dance,” she says. She later graduated high school in 2013, and along with her twin sister, they were the only two children on her mother’s side to receive a high school diploma. Michelle says it was a great day to see her mother so proud. After high school, she attended Hinds Community College and received a trade certificate in business. She would go on to work a couple of side jobs until she received her license in the insurance sales field. Today, she owns The Coleman Estate JC, and Wealth Consulting Group LLC. Both were established between 2019 and 2020. Raleigh/Durham - Sept./Oct. 2022

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The Coleman Estate J.C brand involves real estate investing, wholesaling, Airbnb, and rental properties. Michelle shares she helps her community by buying unwanted properties, rehabbing them, and turning them into beautiful masterpieces. She also enjoys helping families out of foreclosure, problem homes, and relocations. She successfully acquired rental property, turned it around, and later built her dream home within 12 months. Those accomplishments even happened during the Covid 19 pandemic, and now Michelle is teaching others to do the same, no matter what the housing market looks like.

“While in college I started attending real estate (wholesaling) seminars and reading real estate investing books. I attended many seminars throughout the years. Then I finally invested in a mentor who gave me more hands-on training. After doing my first flip and receiving a check for over $10,000 for little to no work, I believe that was the start of my journey.”

Michelle Coleman

Wealth Consulting Group LLC www.startcreditjourneynow.com 614-972-3026

Her other company, Wealth Consulting Group LLC, assists clients with their credit, offering many services such as free consultations, free one-on-one credit coaching with a credit expert, free credit analysis, and much more. “We are changing the lives of our clients, their families, and our community,” she says. Michelle also named one of her businesses after her father’s last name and hopes to build a housing community for veterans one day. How did Michelle get started on her entrepreneurial journey? She says, “I have always had a vision of helping others. I guess that is what sparked an entrepreneurial spirit that initially launched my business interests. While in college I started attending real estate (wholesaling) seminars and reading real estate investing books. I attended many seminars throughout the years. Then I finally invested in a mentor who gave me more hands-on training. After doing my first flip and receiving a check for over $10,000 for little to no work, I believe that was the start of my journey. I purchased my first rental property at the age of 24, built my home at 25, and purchased another property at 26. There is something about owning multiple properties that always gave me such excitement. My second business came about as a response to something that happened to me. I was a victim of identity theft and had to work personally for many years to clear up my credit and regain my identity. I have seen what the damage can do, and after studying and getting my own score above 740, I’ve set out to help others do the same.” Like most business owners, Michelle has faced some challenges along her journey. The first and biggest challenge she shared was finding new clients without being one of those large household names. “I had to work hard every day to bring as much attention to my business as possible. Another challenge was finding help with running my business. That issue was easily resolved after hiring family and close friends, which allowed them to be a part of the journey of helping others,” she says. Moving forward, Michelle says her goal is to acquire five multi-family homes by 2023 and at least three more Airbnb properties by the end of this year. She has already set a goal to help one hundred credit families get the credit score they deserve. “My ultimate plan is to keep changing lives,” she says. Michelle has one son, Jeremiah, who she professes is her rock and greatest motivation. h

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AWG Counseling Services By Ellen Richardson Photos Provided by Reyna Jean Photography

If the truth can be told, most people have been through something in their lives that requires some form of healing. The question is, how do we exactly heal? A general answer may be by asking for help. When that option is chosen, finding the right person to help can be difficult. Fortunately, there is someone who has dedicated their life and career to assisting others during such instances. Alice West-Goers of Denver, CO, is a licensed and experienced counselor and change agent who promotes and facilitates emotional healing. She uses her personal story as a tool to connect and assist others. “My story begins with growing up in Guam. I moved to Guam with a relative whom obtained custody of my sister and I when we were removed from our birth mother’s care. My sister left the home due to behavioral concerns and was placed with my later to be adopted family. I was 17 years old when I was adopted. This was life-changing for me and ultimately affected the trajectory of my life,” she says. After two years of being placed with her new adopted family, Alice would run away from home to locate her biological family. Her actions would eventually lead to a downward spiral. She says it also made finishing school difficult. After realizing her life was headed in the wrong direction, she decided to go back home, contacted her adoptive parents, and asked for help. “At the age of 16, I contacted my adopted mother and asked her if I could come back home. I knew this would mean that I would have to go back into a house with rules and structure, but I knew that was something I needed,” she said. The decision to return home would forge a path leading Alice to a brighter future. Along with graduating from high school, Alice could now attend Regis University college. “During my time at Regis I participated in a commitment program for kids who had trouble getting through high school, which helped with my grades,” she says.

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“I moved to Guam with a relative whom obtained custody of my sister and I when we were removed from our birth mother’s care. My sister left the home due to behavioral concerns and was placed with my later to be adopted family. I was 17 years old when I was adopted. This was lifechanging for me and ultimately affected the trajectory of my life.”

Alice West-Goers

AWG Counseling Services www.alicewestgoers.com 720-988-9482

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A new challenge would arise as Alice continued on her road toward a better life. “I got pregnant with my daughter during my sophomore year of college. With the new addition to my life, I decided to transfer to Metropolitan State University (MSU). There I received my bachelors degree in Social Work. I also served as an intern for the County of Denver. That opportunity opened the door for me to work full-time as a social worker following graduation. Life appeared to come back to me full circle. From aging out of the foster care system in Denver County to becoming an intern in the same department where I was once a foster kid, to working alongside my former social worker as a full-time employee,” Alice shares. Following her time with the city and county, Alice would acquire a master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Denver, with an emphasis in Child Welfare and Trauma. Next, she worked as a childhood therapist within the nonprofit sector and later with the childhood mental health field at Aurora Mental Health Center. She would also serve as an inpatient behavioral health therapist with The Medical Center of Aurora. Though Alice’s life appeared on the right track, her life would come to another fork in the road in 2020. “It was during the Covid-19 pandemic that I decided it was time to focus more on private practice,” she said. Although it would take time to set up this practice, Alice is now celebrating her first anniversary as the owner of AWG Counseling Services. With AWG Counseling Services, Alice practice now offers counseling services, including adult therapy, family counseling, self-esteem, and healthy coping skills to eliminate destructive patterns. There is even a childhood therapist available to assist those who are dealing with social and emotional issues. Alice has also become a member of the Therapist of Color Collaborative, where therapists of color come together to provide mental health services for those who cannot afford these types of services. With her being a therapy liaison for the University of Denver, Alice’s opportunity to connect with graduate students within the social work realm to be a guiding light towards their future is a way that she gives back. Now that she has her own private practice, what is next for this bright beacon of God’s light? Along with obtaining additional training and licensures in various counseling and becoming a licensed addiction counselor, Alice has some interest in joining various coalitions that would allow her to offer services to more of those in need. To find out more about AWG Counseling Services, please visit their website. h

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Richard Steadwell Kingzi Royal Skincare Collection

By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Todd Youngblood The first question asked of Richard was, “Who is Richard Steadwell?” The look on his face was priceless. “Of all the questions I expected to be asked, that was the one I wasn’t prepared for,” Richard explained, smiling and nervous while rubbing his cold, clammy hands. It was clear that Richard was nervous, but he slipped easily into his element as he explained his plight. Richard Steadwell is living his dream of being a self-employed entrepreneur. He owns and operates Kingzi Barbers Lounge in Concord, N.C., and the Kingzi Men’s Skincare Collection. Although Richard has always possessed the creative spirit of an entrepreneur, there were limitations he says he had to overcome before he could realize his dream. “I’ve always been good with my hands. I love being creative and using my imagination. I always knew that using those natural talents would make me happy.” Richard called himself a kitchen barber because he’s been cutting hair since he was a teenager, but he never thought of it as a career. Richard was born in North Carolina but was raised in California. In the tenth grade, he decided school wasn’t for him. He shares, “I was struggling and getting into trouble a lot. I had convinced myself that they were teaching me the things I wanted to know. Deep down, part of my reasoning was I felt like I was an embarrassment to my mother, and I didn’t want to keep putting her through that, so I quit.” Richard explained. “My mother wasn’t happy about it, but my mind was made up.” Richard’s mother gave him two options, the military or trade school. Due to health issues, the military wasn’t a good fit, so Richard went to the Earl C. Clemmons Job Corps center in Morganfield, Ky. “My mother drove me to the center because she was serious about me not sitting up in her house without a job or trade of any kind. She said if I was going to be grown, I had to make a way for myself,” he says. While in Job Corp, Richard took several certification classes, including a business course. The one thing he stayed away from was getting his G.E.D. “If I had been wise and not so worried about failing, I would have just gotten my G.E.D. while in Job Corps. Things would have been a lot easier for me, and I would be farther than I am today. But, what can I say? I was young and didn’t want to listen to anybody,” Richard explains with a laugh. In his lifetime, Richard has done just about every laborious job there is. He was a self-proclaimed jack of all trades and master of none. “Wow… I can’t even begin to name all the different jobs I’ve had in my life. I’ve done everything from working fast food to construction. And

at no time did I ever feel like I was doing the job I was meant for. I wouldn’t say I like working for other people. Plus, because I didn’t have a high school diploma or G.E.D. I couldn’t go any higher than entry-level work. It was frustrating,” Richard states. After years of going from one unfulfilling job to another, Richard decided he wanted something more. One day, not long after his fortieth birthday, Richard was sitting in his barber’s chair and shared his idea of going to barber college. The response he received was surprising. “I had been going to this same guy for over ten years, and I considered him a friend, but what he told me blew me away. He told me it was too old and it would be too hard for me to build up clientele at this point. I couldn’t believe my ears,” Richard said; still a little put off by the experience. “I was like, wow. I was not expecting that at all. When I left the shop, I kept thinking about him telling me it was too late for me. The more I thought about it, the more I was determined to prove him wrong.” Immediately Richard looked into starting barber college at Park West Barber College in Greensboro, N.C. As he read the requirements, the first thing that stopped him in his tracks was the requirement of a high school diploma or equivalent.

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“There I was again. Every time I tried to move forward, I found myself coming back to the same roadblock. All these years later, my decision to drop out of high school was still haunting me. I sat there thinking about what I wanted and the time I had wasted. I have to admit I was terrified of going back to school, but I decided I couldn’t spend one more day letting fear hold me back.” Richard enrolled at Gilford Technical Community College, Jamestown, N.C., and started working towards his G.E.D. He transferred and finished the program at Alamance Community College in Graham, NC. School was never easy for Richard, but his desire to achieve his goals was stronger than his fear of failure. “It was hard, working and going to school at the same time, but I finally knew what I was working towards. It was all going to be worth it in the end.” After completing the program, Richard had to take the G.E.D. Test. Most people struggle with standardized testing. Richard’s past traditional education experiences and test anxiety didn’t make things easy. He says, “I will be honest and say I didn’t do well initially on the G.E.D. Test. I failed it three times!” he said, shaking his head. “I couldn’t believe it! I had worked so hard. Before I knew it, I felt like I was back in high school. I didn’t think I was smart enough to pass the test. I was struggling and embarrassed. Then I remembered that I wasn’t in high school anymore, and my dreams were just on the other side of that test. I couldn’t let it stop me again.” On the fourth try, Richard passed and received his G.E.D. “I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. My family came and celebrated with me, and I made my mother proud. I made myself proud. I proved that I could do anything if I didn’t give up,” he said. After receiving his G.E.D, Richard started at Park West Barber College in Greensboro, N.C. From there, he became an apprentice barber, but he knew that he had to relocate to grow. “After job corp I moved back to Greensboro, and later moved to Durham, NC. to finish barber school. But after barber college, I wanted to go to an area where I could start fresh and have room to grow. Barbering in Durham and Greensboro was a crowded market. I thought about Jacksonville, Florida, or Georgia but settled on Charlotte, NC.” Richard was an apprentice barber at Bennett’s Barber Shop in Charlotte for four years. “You usually do one year as an apprentice before you can take your master barber’s licensure test, but I did four years because I felt I had so much to learn.” As Richard worked as an apprentice barber, he was free to explore his creativity. Barbering isn’t just about cutting hair. Men trust their barbers and seek their advice about looking and feeling their best. Richard noticed a small selection of beard and skin grooming products for men. The scents were basic and didn’t represent all men, especially black men. Hence Kingzi Men’s Skincare Collection was born. He says, “I didn’t like that most beard balms smelled like the great outdoors,” Richard said with a laugh. “Never have you heard a woman say she loves the smell of citrus on her man. So, I started experimenting with fragrances that I liked and ones that didn’t make my customers smell like car air fresheners.”

“My clients were willing and honest test subjects. I gave away free samples, and they would let me know what worked and what didn’t. Before I knew it, word got out, and it’s gained momentum from there.” Putting what he learned about sales and marketing in Job Corps, Richard is preparing to put the Kingzi Men’s Skincare Collection on the shelves of major shopping centers all over the country. But for now, the skincare line can be purchased locally at Kingzi Barber’s Lounge. This was his reply when asked what the future looked like for Richard. “The future is bright. Brighter than I thought possible at this point in my life. I was stuck for forty years because I didn’t think I was smart enough to pass a high school equivalency test. But when I faced my fears and pushed past them, the world opened up to me. Things are happing so fast I am having trouble keeping up,” Richard said, smiling proudly. “But I guess that’s a good problem to have.” Richard intends to continue growing his business, including lotions, skin conditioning oils for women, and a Kingzi clothing line. He concludes by saying, “If I could say one thing to my younger self, it would be this: Don’t let fear and other people’s opinions of you hold you back. You can achieve anything you set your mind to if you are willing to fail at it first. When you fall, you got know where to go but up!” h

Richard enrolled in YouTube university and learned all he could about creating beard balms and lotions specifically for men. Once he had the know-how, Richard started making small batched in his home and trying them on his clients.

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My Best Is Yet To Come By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Denaro Cook

We’ve all heard about the many innocent people who have been victims of inadequate representation. Denaro Cook served eighteen years of a twenty-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. I wish I were about to tell a story about how the truth won out in the end, but that was not the case for Denaro.

Since his release in 2017, Denaro has hit the ground running, fueled by the hopes and dreams he never let go of during his eighteen years of incarceration. Music has always been a large part of Denaro’s life, and his time in prison was no different. “The inspiration didn’t stop just because I was locked up. In fact, it happened more often. I have so many songs and lyrics that I have yet to record it ain’t funny.”

The culture that most African-Americans grow up in says that you don’t turn on your family. Denaro heard this a lot as a kid. “My mother used to say all the time, ‘your family is all you got. You should never turn on your brother.’ So, I didn’t. And it cost me eighteen years.”

Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, Denaro has always loved country music. One of his songs is titled “I Love Country.” But it’s not the sad, jailhouse blues. What Denaro sings is Joyful Country.

At eighteen, four days after his high school prom and two weeks before graduating, Denaro was arrested and charged with a murder he didn’t commit. “The detective told me if I testified, I would have been cleared of all charges. But the person was my brother, and they already had him in custody. They knew he was the guilty party. They just wanted me to make their case for them. Because I refused to say anything, they charged me as well,” he says. Because Denaro wouldn’t testify against his brother, he was punished and spent eighteen years of his life in jail. “I completed 80% of the sentence I was given. If I’d had the financial means available to me at the time, I wouldn’t have served a day,” Denaro explained. Losing your freedom just as your life is about to begin is a hard pill to take. Especially when you and everyone involved, including the detective and prosecutor, know that your only crime was guilt by association. “I had a public defender, but they were no help. So instead of continuing to fight and get my hopes up, I decided to make peace with the hand I was dealt.” Although Denaro gave up the hope that he would be exonerated, he never gave up on hope. “That’s all you have, really. Life without hope is death.” So Denaro refocused his energy toward the future. When you are locked up, you are at the mercy of someone else. They tell you when to eat, sleep, and control every aspect of your life. The one thing they can’t control is your ability to dream,” Denaro shares.

“I could be bitter, but what would that accomplish? The time I spent in prison caused me to see life differently. I had to learn to forgive. Forgive the people who put me there, forgive myself, and forgive God. Once you do that, you can have peace no matter where you are.” Denaro credits his faith in God for seeing him through the rough times. “I learned to trust and believe God would see me through it all. And he did. Since my release, I’ve seen him work things out for me that I couldn’t do for myself. My dreams are becoming a reality,” he said.

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Denaro is a country music recording artist. He has a talk show called Prison Chronicles. He owns a book publishing company, Cook Book Publishing LLC, and he just started a nonprofit organization called Ones WHO (Ones Who Have Overcome). “These were the things I dreamt about, and I’m watching God put people in my path who can make things happen. That’s why you don’t give up on your dreams. Especially when you are in the darkest of places.” Prison Chronicles is a YouTube web show that gives voice to those affected by the penal system. This platform gives voice to former inmates, current inmates, family members of incarcerated people, and the people who put them there. Denaro has hosted correction workers and even judges. “Everyone on both sides has experienced some form of trauma. I believe it’s essential to understand that. The show allows people to speak their truth and dispel the lies and misconceptions people have about life in prison. It’s not what you see on television. These men and women are still human beings and deserve to be treated as such. These stories not only give them a release, but it also helps others who don’t yet dare to speak out. It’s therapeutic in many ways.” The seventeen episodes of Prison Chronicles have been over three thousand times since the first video podcast aired. “We are in the process of revamping, but there will be new episodes coming soon.” As a recording artist and a talk show host, it’s only natural to have a Cook Book Publishing company. “I never thought about becoming a publisher until my brother and his friend started writing books.” Denaro’s brother, who is currently serving time for the same crime Denaro was convicted of, has written several books. “An inmate who started a publishing company while in jail published one of my brother’s books. When I visited him, he asked why I didn’t do it too. At first, I didn’t think I could, but after some research, I realized it was simple. With just a few steps, I had a legitimate book publishing company.” Cook Book Publishing is a licensed publisher with nine books published under their label and four authors.

taking you to the Goodwill to get clothes. Giving you guidance on where to go to get help for different things.” Denaro admits that he has had a few struggles while making a name for himself as a free man. “Everyone has trauma, and I’m no different. It was painful to endure what I did, knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong. While you are away, life begins, and it ends. People you love pass away, but none tells you, thinking they save you heartache. They don’t understand that it’s more painful to find out years later.” During reentry, everyone has a decision to make about the way forward. For Denaro, that meant losing friends and family. “Inside, I had to make a change of mind and change of heart. When I got out, I had to change my environment to maintain that change. I lost friends and family who didn’t understand that I wasn’t the person I was when I went in. As a man, society has taught us not to show weakness. We have to suppress it and suffer through it. To do that, we have to become detached and inaccessible. It makes having successful relationships hard because you don’t know how to open up without being vulnerable. Thankfully God blessed me with a beautiful daughter who has taught me how to love again. Because of her, I feel myself coming alive again.” It’s been five years since his release, and Denaro has never let go of three things. His faith in God, his love for his family, and the belief that it’s never too late to dream. h

The nonprofit is a recent addition but not a new idea for Denaro. “The nonprofit was just approved, but it’s an idea I planned out while in prison. Originally it was supposed to be called MAID by Us, but the name was taken. Ones WHO is a rehab, recovery, reentry, and disability assistance program for ex-inmates trying to restart their lives.” After release, most former inmates have to adjust to the world they are being released into and come to terms with losing the world they left behind. “You must apply for your social security card, driver’s license, and all kinds of documents that make it legal to walk around. You have to figure out how to function in an alien world. When I went in, technology was nowhere near where it was when I came out. I wasn’t familiar with smartphones, tablets, and things like that. For successful reentry, there needs to be technology training. You have to know how to use computers and the internet to fill out a job application.” Along with the need for help with technological advances, Ones WHO will act as a resource for people who need support during reentry. They will help with everything from basic needs such as clothes and personal care items to mental and emotional support. “You learn to cherish the things most people take for granted. Something as simple as someone

www.denarocook.com

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Cutest Baby

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Laney Williamson The daughter of Elise Blackmon and Dante Williamson

Raleigh/Durham - Sept./Oct. 2022

To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to huami.cutestbaby@gmail.com


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