Huami Magazine Richmond Nov./Dec. 2022

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Nov./Dec. 2022 Vol.3 Issue 8 RICHMOND ® Notary 2 Notary LLC
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Yesterday Prepared Me For What’s Next

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

It seemed like only yesterday when the first edition of Huami Magazine was published. In November 2007, a vision given to me by God became my reality. I have shared the story of publishing Huami Magazine, first having a conversation with God, then taking the leap and stepping out faithfully in response to God’s call. Still, I often reflect on the first edition and become reminded of how awesome God is.

A Letter from the Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terry L. Watson Publisher

Terry L. Watson Writer

Monica Montgomery Writer

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

Joy Rogers Writer Dorjae’ McClammey Writer

Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove

Tamara Smith


Todd Youngblood Photography

Howard Gaither Photography

Perfect Lenz Photography Shaw Photography Group Still Shots Photography Who Shotya Photography 336-340-7844 General Inquiries Mykel Media Company LLC Greensboro, NC 2022 All Rights Reserved Scan The QR Code Above To Visit Our Website

4 4 November/December 2014 Want To Advertise? Call (336)340-7844
On The Cover
HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication E-mail at (336) 340-7844
Photo by Shaw Photography Group
Still Shots Photography Photographer Todd Youngblood Photographer Email Want To Advertise? Call 336-340-7844
Letter From The Editor
Terry L. Watson

On The Cover

Notary II Notary

Vanessa Terry

Also Featured

Donnie C. Young

He has universal appeal. Learn more about his journey from the streets of South Carolina to success.

Greenville, SC

Arielle Middleton

If you are in need of home repair service, she is here to help. Learn more about her journey in business. Hampton Roads, VA

She is a world traveling photographer. Learn how she captures the beauty of others through her eyes. Phoenix, AZ

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Braxton Moore Love, Beauty, and Faith Timeka Tillman Rock City Staffing Vivian Brittenum All-Around Athlete Shana Howard
NOV./DEC. 2022
CONTENTS 17 28 18 14 6
Peyton Zora Doctor
Angelia Malbrew

Notary 2 Notary LLC

New York native Vanessa Terry is a wife, mother, and the founder and owner of Notary II Notary.

Based in Richmond, VA, Notary II Notary came to life in 2014 when Vanessa sought to utilize her notary skills as a side hustle. In just two years, she realized that her hustle had full-time potential. “I was doing so well with it, that I was able to help others start their own notary business,” she says.

While assisting others with starting their businesses, Vanessa created Notary II Notary, a notary training company. She started small and local in Richmond with only a few in-person classes. From there, she conducted online courses, and her brand really began to prosper. Today, she has clients from coast to coast, from Florida to California, and Vanessa offers online and in-person courses.

Some additional services offered by Notary II Notary are training that includes self-paced basics that teach how to become a notary. She also provides one-on-one coaching that allows her clients to learn how to build their businesses. She has published books, “How To Make A Thousand Dollars A Week As A Notary Public” and “Do It Yourself, Remote Online Notary,” which assist with her instruction. All of Vanessa’s books are available on Amazon and Audible. Additionally, Vanessa has a notary business center in Chesterfield, Virginia, where she hosts in-person classes and events.

Notary II Notary continues to exhibit its versatility with its signing services, On-Time Notary, and its e-notary platform, I-Notarize. They also have more courses that cover every aspect of building a business ranging from notarial law, business formation, and credit. “We want to teach clients how to get started with no background whatsoever,” Vanessa says. “All of the courses are in-depth yet still very simple. They are one-on-one and hands-on for those who need an extra push.”


Vanessa says that her number one service is the online course “Ultimate Notary Training.” This program teaches clients everything they need to get started and allows them to work at their own time and pace.

Notary II Notary has developed a coaching program where clients meet once, sometimes twice a month, for about 30 minutes during each meeting. During this time, Vanessa and her team critique each client’s needs to ensure they’re working on the right paths to receive the results they’re looking for.

What does she love most about what she does? Vanessa says it’s everything, but most importantly, she loves being able to help people gain time and financial freedom. “I think that’s the best part, meeting people and helping them change their lives and leave jobs they hate to make great money doing an effortless task,” she says.

As with all business owners, Vanessa has faced some challenges. One, she says, was learning how to run her own business. “I was not raised around entrepreneurs, nor did I go to school for business. So understanding the ins and outs of business while simultaneously trying to grow my company was a challenge. Still, I took it head-on and succeeded effortlessly,” she says.

Despite the challenges, Vanessa loves what she does and is inspired by the financial freedom she gets from being a notary. “I like being on my own time, spending time with my family, being able to determine how much money I make and not someone telling me how to do it. Most of all, being able to help others gain the same feeling inspires me,” she says.

Vanessa says her vision is to become the nation’s best and largest notary training company. She also realizes that being a notary is not for everyone, but states, “for those who want to know how I am here and ready to share the building blocks of what it takes to be successful.”

For anyone looking to follow in Vanessa’s footsteps, her advice is to take the leap of faith and do it. “A lot of people that are afraid to get into entrepreneurship think they are going to fail. To that, I say, fail, and then go back to work, but you will succeed. You should just bet on yourself because you never know what you’re capable of. Also, keep pushing yourself and try new things. That’s what life is about, not to be stagnant but to push yourself to new limits every day to see what your new limits can be,” she says. To learn more about Vanessa Terry and Notary II Notary, please visit her website. h


I Can See You

It all comes down to what is seen through her eyes.

Arizona-based photographer Angelia Malbrew describes herself as a woman of God. She is also determined to create a life she loves and a legacy she can be proud of.

Angelia is a loving wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, educator, and successful entrepreneur. She is the oldest of two amazing daughters to her parents, whom she says were both solid and dedicated examples.

Angelia attended school in the hospitality state of Mississippi. In 2011, she made a move to Arizona and continued her education. Today, she is the owner of Angelia Malbrew Photography LLC. “I am a traveling luxury portrait photographer with a flare and a passion for making my clients look and feel like celebrities. I offer luxury portrait experiences by rolling out the red carpet and offering a full-on celebrity affair,” she says.

Angelia realized her love for photography many years ago, and making a career out of it only made sense. She shares, “I developed a love of photography when I received my first Polaroid camera when I was around 12 or 14 years old. I began taking photos of my family and friends at school, and little did I know that would be the start of something beautiful. My late father, Clayton, was a huge influence in my life, and watching him take everyone else’s photos at family gatherings is one of the reasons I fell in love with art. My cousin, the late Nate Edwards, motivated me and was never too busy to help or push me to become an amazing photographer.”

The excitement her clients express when they see her work is something Angelia says she loves about photography. “I love how their faces light up like a kid at Christmas when they see the back of my camera. I love how they get excited and cry when they see their images upon delivery. I also love being an artist blessed by God to create art and freeze time. I love what I do more than I could ever articulate, and I know I was born for this,” she says.

Understanding her purpose and being able to enjoy the success she has, Angelia would be remiss not to honor those who have impacted and inspired her the most. Her late grandmother, father, and mother ensured she would be upstanding, successful, and well-rounded. “I do what I do and keep going because God has an amazing purpose for me. My husband and family have been very supportive and kept me going when I needed them most. I owe it to them and myself, as well as other little brown girls that see me as an inspiration to be the best I can be.”

Some of the challenges Angelia says she has faced in business is trying to prove herself to those that aren’t familiar with the process of being photographed professionally. “Luxury isn’t cheap, and cheap isn’t luxury,” she says. Another challenge is educating and advising her clients about how important it is to have professional photographs and legacy portraits. “Sometimes, when people are used to doing things a certain way, it takes a bit of convincing and several connection advances to win them over. That’s ok, and I am here for it all. I welcome challenges.”

In the future, Angelia plans to take the world by storm, create more memorable portraits, and offer exceptional service to all that step in front of her camera. She also plans to continue taking her brand of photography around the globe. “I want to photograph people in every part of the world. My clients, fans, and viewers may miss the chance to travel, so I want to show them the world through my eyes. Keep watching, I am on my way,” she says.

Her advice to those who may follow a path similar to hers is to pray, work hard, pray some more, keep moving, and never give up on your dreams. She also says to stay humble and always find a way to give more than you take. h


All-Around Athlete

“Don’t see me, see God” This simple yet powerful command comes from someone familiar with believing in the power of faith.

Huntsville, AL, resident Shana Howard is a mother, educator, author, businesswoman, and source of inspiration for others. As a student of life, Shana has channeled her tragedy into triumph and transformed countless lives.

In 1996, as a sophomore in high school, Shana described her younger self as popular, social, and beautiful. That was Shana before being involved in a motor vehicle accident that would change her life drastically.

The collision left Shana in a coma for a year and paralyzed for a total of two years. Journeying to healing included loss of sight, inability to speak, and eating through a feeding tube. “Everything I worshiped was taken away,” she explains. Even more, depression developed when lasting remnants of the collision appeared in the form of vision impairments and hair loss. Shana says others noticed the imperfections, and she found it challenging to fit in with her previous crowd. She adds the burden of her new circumstances led to loneliness, dark thoughts, and a laden desire to be normal again.

Shana describes the excitement as she began to regain mobility after undergoing a procedure to correct some of her vision impairments. “I began to realize normality is fluid and not definite,” she said. To help Shana regain a sense of normalcy, she was prescribed an array of treatments, such as physical therapy, counseling, and medications.

As her condition improved, Shana wanted to do more. Soon, she had the desire to attend school. However, her neurologist disagreed and informed her parents that her memory would not sustain her academic aspirations due to her traumatic brain injury. Unsatisfied with the limitations placed upon her by man, Shana put her trust in God and enrolled in Lawson State Community College and received an Associate of the Arts Degree in 2001.

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All-Around Athlete LLC Swim With Spice
“I have to talk, and I’m always working for God. I’m only tired when I’m leaning on my own strength.”

Shana was able to supersede the limitations placed on her. She obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education from Alabama A&M University in 2005, Masters of the Arts in Physical Education from Alabama A&M University in 2010, and an additional Master’s Degree in Leadership in 2018 from Alabama A&M University. “I began to realize my life is my testimony.,” she says.

Although the physicians and clinicians diagnosed Shana with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), she has reimagined and redefined TBI to “Testimony Beyond Imagination”. “I have to talk, and I’m always working for God. I’m only tired when I’m leaning on my own strength,” she says. Even more, her steadfast belief and faith have inspired others, and she shares her story in her book, Brain-E-Yak Wonders.

Swimming has been therapeutic for Shana. As a kid, she always loved to swim. Her passion has helped her to form a program called All-Around Athlete. In 2019, All-Around Athlete was founded in Huntsville. Shana says she initially set out to give kids something to do during the Covid 19 pandemic, and so she decided to train some young individuals how to swim. Word spread quickly, and the rest of the story is still being told.

“My purpose is to give people an awareness of water. Water is created to give a sense of peace. God created more water than land because it is symbolic of Him,” she says. “I believe everything with a purpose in life is attached to water. Trust water, trust God. Don’t be scared of water if you believe in the man that walked on it.”

As if her plate wasn’t already full, Shana has started a nonprofit organization called Swim With Spice. While targeting the North Huntsville, Madison, and Decatur areas of Alabama, the mission of Swim With Spice is to teach people of all ages to swim. It also invokes encouragement through the rigorous movement of the body. Shana has demonstrated through her organization that conditioning the body through swimming can improve the learning process. “Swimming can improve cognition in three ways. It can enhance the mind by increasing awareness, productivity, and engagement. It is also an activity that stimulates nerve cells in ways that allow them to bind to one another while making way for new information to be stored. Lastly, swimming aids in a child’s development by stimulating growth,” Shana says.

Shana has decided to use her testimony and life experiences to inspire and uplift others. In the future, she hopes to continue uplifting through her vocations as an educator, coach, and motivational speaker. To learn more about Shana and her programs, please visit her website. h

The son of LaSaudia Moore
To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to Cutest Baby
MAGAZINE Braxton Moore

Rock City Staffing Agency, LLC

Vivian Brittenum is the owner of Rock City Staffing Agency. Based in Little Rock, AR, her company is a locally owned and operated professional staffing and recruiting agency. Vivian says her team is dedicated to providing their clients with top-notch service, industry-leading solutions, and skilled talent. “At Rock City, we take great pride and purpose in what we do. That’s why we always seek to outperform client expectations. We cover many staffing situations, including temporary, temp-to-perm, contract, and direct hire. We specialize in placing administrative, information technology, customer service, warehouse, and light manufacturing,” she says.

Vivian is a native of Forrest City, AR, but has called central Arkansas home for the past 28 years. She is a divorced mother of two fantastic children, Miracle, 21, and Praylyn, 19. She acquired her MBA with an emphasis in Information Technology and an MS in Management and Leadership with an emphasis in Project Management from Webster University. She also obtained her BS in Management Information Systems from Park University with a minor in Human Resources.

Some additional certifications she holds include a nationally Certified Public Manager as well as a Certified Arkansas Governmental Manager from UA Little Rock. She is a Certified Woman Entrepreneur from Cornell University, a graduate of Leadership Greater Little Rock, past Chairman of Auditing Committee for Southern Gas Federal Credit Union, past Diversity and Inclusion committee member for the City of Little Rock, Commissioner for the City of Jacksonville, past-chairman of the Board of Adjustment, and past chairman of the Planning Commission and a graduate of the Rock It! Lab Accelerator Program.

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“At Rock City, we take great pride and purpose in what we do. That’s why we always seek to outperform client expectations.”

Vivian shares how her faith in God has shaped her life from the very beginning. “I am so grateful to God for choosing me for such a time as this. Life for me began in Forrest City. My parents were teenagers when I was born. My mom, Barbara Paulette, was a senior in high school. My father, Leon Jones, Sr. was attending college in another city. In a sense, my mom and I grew up together. She raised me and my two sisters, Tracy and Tajuan in a strict Pentecostal household. We were in the church from sun-up until sundown at least four days a week. That is where my faith began and where I learned to trust and believe in God. My mom and dad worked hard to provide for my sisters and me. Mom worked for a time in factories making garments and televisions before she decided that was not the life she wanted for herself or her daughters. She decided to further her education and became a CNA, became certified in early childhood education, and worked as a transport driver before settling down in the classroom. That’s where I got my inquisitive mind and my love of learning. My dad, Pat Haggins, has owned and operated a well-respected construction business for over forty years. My father, Leon Jones, Sr has been self-employed for 48 years. They both stepped out on faith, took a chance on themselves, worked hard, and are now reaping the benefits of following God’s path. That’s where I inherited my entrepreneurial spirit.,” she shares.

After getting married and moving to the central Arkansas area, Vivian knew this was where she could flourish. The big city lights, highways, fast cars, and endless opportunities, she says, it was time for her to walk in the calling God has on her life.

Vivian says her job isn’t about just having a source of income or building generational wealth for her family. “I have a God-given passion for helping others, so placing someone in a job offers me a sense of personal fulfillment and professional growth. I am so blessed to wake up every morning with the opportunity and be a blessing to someone else.”

When her youngest graduated high school, she felt God telling me that now was her time. Finally, on September 14, 2021, God spoke to me and said now is the time! I stepped out on faith, drove to my job, and resigned in the parking lot! I knew it was now or never. I chose my NOW! I came home and incorporated Rock City Staffing Agency and have not looked back,” she explains.

Without any doubt, Vivian is sure she is walking in the plan God has for her because He gave her the idea to open a staffing agency and the name of the business. “I did not know much about the staffing and recruiting world, nor did I have any savings to fund a business. All I had was faith and trust in God,” she shares. A week after opening her business, Vivian was blessed with a $1000 small business grant. Still, she didn’t know where to begin or how to open a staffing and recruiting agency, but she says God provided everything needed to get her company going. “I don’t have a choice but to be successful,” she says.

Now fully operational, Rock City Staffing LLC has positioned itself as a premier staffing agency. Vivian’s advice to others who may follow in her footsteps is to pray, pray, and pray some more. “Keep God at the forefront. Do your research. Find good mentors. Go for it!”

Moving forward, she hopes to continue to follow God’s plan. “Rock City Staffing Agency is just the beginning. There is so much more that’s going to be birthed from this. We are going to use this platform to do the Kingdom’s work,” she shares. To learn more about Vivian Brittenum and Rock City Staffing Agency, please visit their website. Richmond - Nov./Dec. 2022 20
Vivian Brittenum
Rock City Staffing Agency LLC

On the surface, Donnie Young appears to be an average African American male. However, if one looks a little deeper into who he is, one will find a lot more to this serial entrepreneur’s story. For the most part, his journey has come with a few ups and downs and bumps and bruises. Still, Donnie has found a way to persevere and now lives a life of gratitude and grace while exemplifying the love of God.

Born and raised in South Carolina, Donnie comes from humble beginnings. His mother passed away when he was just a baby, and his father was imprisoned shortly after. At such a young age and without his parents, what was next for Donnie? What would his future look like? As if someone sounded the horns, Donnie’s village stepped into place with his grandmother and aunt answering the call.

During his childhood, Donnie enjoyed playing all sports, including football. There is where Donnie could be found, on the football field, he says, until the pressure of wanting more in life pushed him toward the wrong crowd. “I looked to the streets to find my way. I began selling drugs and soon got entangled in crime. I was charged with accessory to murder and found myself sitting in a jail cell, alone,” he says. Donnie was eventually cleared of that accusation, but his past would soon catch up with him, and soon Donnie would find himself back in prison, he says, for being framed for a crime that he did not commit or know anything about. “I wasn’t supposed to be in there, but I used that time to my advantage. I slowed down, sat quietly, analyzed my mistakes, and educated myself.”

Donnie says, “Prison won’t teach you how to be a man, but it will give you the blueprint.” While incarcerated, Donnie learned as many trades as possible such as cooking to brick masonry and obtained his G.E.D. He was a model prisoner and gained a good rapport with other inmates and officers. “I was motivated to make it out and make something of myself, but most of all, I was inspired by the fear of ending up like my father.”

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“I looked to the streets to find my way. I began selling drugs and soon got entangled in crime. I was charged with accessory to murder and found myself sitting in a jail cell, alone.”

Once released, Donnie was determined not to find himself in an idle situation. He went straight to working multiple jobs and mastering a new trade at each one. “When I did something, I pretty much mastered it, making it a point to be the best at it,” he says. Things were going well for Donnie but he knew there was more he could be doing, specifically for himself. That is when the spirit of entrepreneurship sat on him, and he hasn’t looked back.

Donnie shares that he became tired of growing so much with his skills and not with the companies he was employed by. He decided to break away and create his own business and do it the way he knew how, with excellence. In 2016, he launched his first brand, Universal Lawn and Floor, a high-quality landscaping and lawn care business. Under the Universal brand, he owns several sub-companies. One is Universal Flooring, which covers all floor maintenance, such as striping and waxing commercial floors and flooring installation. “Laminate, tile, vinyl, carpet, and subfloor. Anything flooring, we can install it,” Donnie says.

Other companies Donnie has produced are Universal Power Washing Solution and Uni-Klean. These offer services such as pressure cleaning driveways and homes, as well as commercial cleaning. He has also developed Universal Credit Repair and Business Consultation and UNI-Wellness.

The word “Universal” is purposely incorporated into all of Donnie’s companies. He says that word is his staple. “I am ‘Mr. Universal’. I can apply my brand to anything, no matter what you need, I can handle it,” he says. Moreover, Donnie’s work speaks for itself. That is obvious and he has several awards to validate that. He’s won ‘Best of Taylors’ award twice and ‘The Nextdoor Neighborhood Favorite’ award, amongst many others. Richmond - Nov./Dec. 2022 24

It is apparent that Donnie has his hands and mind involved in many things, and that is by design. He shares that while he serves many industries, his primary objective is to impact his community positively. “My past has been challenging, but I’ve decided to allow my lifes’ lessons to help others. I can do this by employing and providing real opportunities to members of my community. I want to provide an outlet for people facing obstacles, as I have. I understand that all it takes is for someone to be given an opportunity, and I am happy to be in a position to do so,” he says. “Just like how I was tired of struggling, I’m even more tired of seeing others struggle.”

Moreover, Donnie’s testimony is that he got it out of the mud, period. “I’m a very, very hard worker. I never quit, I never give up or listen to the naysayers. When people tell me I can’t do something, it makes me try harder,” he says.

What is next for this self-driven entrepreneur? He says, Don’t think for a second that he will be slowing down anytime soon. Donnie says he’s just getting started. He has plans to continue growing as a businessman and will add real estate to his list of services in 2023. It is pretty clear there isn’t much that he can’t accomplish once he sets his sights on it. To learn more about Donnie Young, and all of his brands, please visit his website or contact him directly.

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Professional Hairstylist Timeka Tillman loves making people feel comfortable, relaxed, and, most importantly, beautiful. Timeka is the owner of Pensacola-based Loyalty Hair Studio.

“As a salon owner I love helping others grow. I also love to see people reach their goals. Most importantly, I teach others that God leads my path and having faith is a must,” she says.

Loyalty Hair Studio is a one-stop salon that specializes in something different. Their team consists of a barber, loctician, and hairstylist with a focus on natural and relaxed hair. Timeka says their clients always come first, and great customer service is their top priority.

Timeka is a native of Junction City, Kansas. At the young age of 17, she became a single parent to her son, Timothy. That experience, she says, sparked her drive and helped her focus on her future. She shares that her daughter, Tatayana was born extremely premature at just 25 weeks. That experience taught her about having faith and encouraged her to depend on God to lead and direct her path. Her youngest son, Tyking has taught her how to appreciate all that life has to offer.

Timeka graduated from Junction City High School in 2002. She says, “I knew Kansas was not where I wanted to stay. I wanted more for my son and me, so I moved to Pensacola in 2003. Once there, she worked different jobs before attending cosmetology school at Pensacola State College in 2010. Once acquiring her cosmetology license, Timeka would go on to work in several salons, she says, until God pushed her into ownership. In March 2020, right in the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic, Loyalty Hair Studio was born.

30 h

A Voice For Autism

As a young boy, Marcus Boyd was perceived as someone without a voice. Today, Marcus’s voice is heard and recognized on various levels and platforms. “I create and make things from nothing,” he says. The young folks say they got it out of the mud, but for me, I made a rose from concrete,” he says.

While he has Autism, Marcus doesn’t allow his condition to slow him down. Eleven doctors once told him in two states that he was brain dead and would never get an education. Those same doctors said to him that he would never talk or function on his own, that he would never cook or do anything for himself, and would rely on the assistance of a caregiver. Yet Marcus has defied their predictions; Marcus Marcus is a leader, a visionary, a goal-getter, a brand hustler, and an empire grinder.

Marcus says his past was horrific and full of challenges. “I was beaten, bullied, I had my ribs broken, I was peed on and even left for dead. He has lived in 17 foster homes, 16 group homes, 16 mental hospitals, and four inpatient centers. He has been homeless and ate from dumpsters as a means to survive. At his lowest point, Marcus tried to commit suicide, but God had other plans for him.

Marcus says he never imagined that he would become a brand and that others would be interested in his life. He knew he wanted to help change lives and help change the status quo of how people perceive Autism. In doing so, he has become an international, five-time award-winning Autism Activist. He works with governors, mayors, city council members, state senators, organizations, and foundations to produce rights, laws, and benefits for Autistic individuals and families in the United States and around the world. “I am using my testimony as a light to give hope to others who may be going through what I did. I want to bring acceptance, inclusion, awareness, justice, and new opportunities for Autistic families,” he says.

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So, how did Marcus begin? He shares it was during August 2017. He had already been diagnosed with Autism and rapped about his condition in some of his music. The music was fine, but he knew he had to take it to another level. He connected in Atlanta, GA, with Manisha Holiday, who he calls his Godmother. Manisha, a celebrity PR, encouraged Marcus to focus on sharing his story of being Autistic rather than his music. During that time, Marcus’s interest was music. Still, his ability to survive was more important, so he took Manisha’s advice and began using his platform to bring awareness to Autism and individuals infected by it, and the rest is history.

Marcus shares that he could not do all he does without God’s blessing. “With all the blessings God is allowing me to be a part of and do, I give God all the glory and honor. I worship His holy name because He is the reason for this season,” he says. The platform that Marcus is blessed to utilize, he says, is one of the things he loves most. “I love the amazing, incredible people I meet and the stories I hear. Having Autism and speaking up for Autism and the millions of voiceless individuals and their families is priceless. I spent fourteen years of my life being nonverbal and battling other conditions associated with Autism. Now I get to use my voice to help bring real change,” he says.

Being an Autism activist is not easy work, Marcus shares. “There are autism advocates who advocate for their child, family member, or a friend, and those who are actively on the battlefield operating with limited resources. I come from the projects and the ghetto, where grinding is celebrated, and few are educated, and that presents challenges for me.” One of the essential things Marcus has learned is to invest and believe in himself.

Along with God, Marcus acknowledges his grandmother as his greatest source of inspiration. “I couldn’t put a price on what my grandmother has done for me. She looked past my Autism, loved me, and forced me to tap into my own greatness,” he says. Marcus also says that his best friend, Queen Carter, for showing him how to love. He also says that Queen has greatly impacted his brand and cause. He shares other sources of inspiration: Gary Sinatra, Manisha Holiday, Tracy Bumpers, John Mcclung Jr., Minista Todd, Jacquetta Quashie, Tina Bridges, Veronica Tess Myers, Alexander Myers, Jessica Nash, Kathy Taylor, and Dorothy Carr.

As life continues to happen for Marcus, there is no telling what will happen next for him and his brand. In the meantime, Marcus will continue to use his voice and testimony to uplift others and fight for those affected by Autism. He encourages those interested to keep watching and believing in God’s plan. h


Sunshine Home Improvement, LLC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arielle Middleton Sunshine Home Improvement

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