Huami Magazine St. Louis July/August 2022

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S T. LO U I S

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July/August 2022 Volume 1 Issue 9

HR TailorMade St. Louis - July/August 2022

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Commercial Lending

Small Business Financing

Equipment Financing

Capital for Real Estate Investing; Flip, Renovations and Multi-Family Investing Multiple Lenders (We Will Always Find The Right Fit For Your Situation)

Minimum Credit Standards of 650 FICO (Average)



The Benefits and Burdens of Your Assignment A Letter From The Editor

With the onset of each new day, there is always a list of things for me to accomplish waiting for me. I prepare my day based on the available hours; you can probably say that I am routine. I would beg to differ and counter by saying I work better in blocks of time and with a plan in place. I have been fortunate to learn that I don’t efficiently function without one. That’s just me. On the other hand, I am grateful for having something to look forward to doing. While often things may appear overwhelming, I can rest in the fact that God has chosen me for this experience. This is my assignment. It’s not a “why me Lord” question that I ask; instead, it’s a “why not me Lord” affirmation expressed. There are several ways to understand or comprehend God’s assignment upon us. We can face it head-on and work diligently to complete the mission or not. What I find so fascinating is that when God initially blessed me with purpose, I wasn’t shown what the end would be like. He didn’t brief me on the events that would occur, and I must say, there have been some good and some bad ones. If I have learned anything thus far, I know that the same pattern will likely repeat itself at some time or another. Still, once I tapped into God’s presence and listened for His voice, I realized it was time for me to get moving. And that’s what I did. God also gives us the freedom to ignore our assignments. While it’s not wise, running from what God calls us into only delays our destiny and purpose. God’s word says His yoke is easy to bear, and the burden He gives is light. Because I believe His word, my desire to complete my mission is ignited. Even more, I understand that I am not alone in the fight, and someone else is actually carrying the bulk of my load. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and move. The blessing in our assignments is revealed to us once our attitude about the assignment is changed. We can embrace the assignment and trust the process or ignore it. Remember that God gives us a choice. He also blesses us with life; with that gift comes a plan. I encourage you to tap into what God has assigned you to do and enjoy a life full of purpose and promise.

Terry L. Watson 4

www.huamimagazine.com Terry L Watson

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Terry L. Watson Dorjea’ McClammey Ellen Richardson Monica Montgomery

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CONTENTS

JULY/AUGUST 2022

ST. LOUIS

BOUVI’J Suites

Agatha Grimes

On The Cover

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TailorMade HR Tiffany E. Slater

Synergy Hospitality Group

Daymain Smith

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MiZo Coffee Co.

Marlessia Yancey

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Love Monae’ Anthony

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Also Featured

Bernard Moore III He is the face and founder of Moore & Moore Sports Management. Learn how his story began. Jackson, MS

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Monique Simone Joe Having and maintaining healthy skin is very important. Her line of skin care products will help you. Huntsville, AL

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Ava Smith She has spent her entire life and career serving and pouring into her community. Learn more about her journey. Greenville, SC

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HR TailorMade

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Lance Omar Thurman

If you are a small business owner, HR TailorMade will most likely be able to serve and meet your needs. Led by Tiffany E. Slater, who serves as the I am also the CEO and Senior HR Consultant, HR TailorMade promotes itself as the human resource (HR) solution for small organizations. “The work we do for our clients not only supports their team but also helps the owner to work in a more balanced and efficient way,” she says. “Our goal is to essentially take the HR ball away from business owners and manage it for them. We serve as the virtual HR team that manages the day-today operations required to effectively employ a high-performing team.” A native of St. Louis, MO, Tiffany launched her company in 2018, after realizing that her dream job was not what she had hoped for. “I started with faith. I prayed diligently that God would order my steps and that I would have the courage to follow his lead. When I started, I was miserable and needed to find joy in the work I had been doing for over 20 years. As an HR Professional, I had seen firsthand how integral maintaining a proper work-life balance was to a healthy and happy lifestyle. I not only wanted to create a joyful work experience for myself, but I also wanted to teach small business owners how to do it for themselves by removing the HR burden from their long to-do list,” she says. Four years later, Tiffany is still in business, and it’s growing. HR TailorMade offers additional services: employee handbook development, benefits implementation and administration, and onboarding. They also provide compensation structure development, employee recordkeeping, policy and procedure development, and leader and team support. “We serve our clients through monthly retainers, project-based work, and on-call service,” Tiffany says.

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Tiffany is a wife to Michael Slater, mom to MJ and Donovan, and a loving daughter, sister, and friend. She has a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Organization Management from Benedictine University at Springfield. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Professionally, she serves as the President of NAWBO St. Louis. Helping and serving others comes naturally for Tiffany. These are attributes that come in handy in her chosen profession. She also loves helping small business owners and founders to create joyful work experiences for their teams. “Doing so means I get closer to fulfilling my vision of making the world a better place, one employee at a time. I believe happy individuals make the world a better place,” she says. Tiffany also enjoys having the freedom to create new programs, policies, and experiences for her clients. While Tiffany says her mother has been the most impactful person in her life, she credits her aunt, Lathea Morris, and her upbringing as her biggest inspirations. “My mother exposed me to so many amazing things and people. I was surrounded by entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs who were highly successful and doing great things in the community. She made it her life’s mission to keep her timid child (me) involved in activities in hopes I would grow out of my shyness and navigate this world fearlessly,” she says. “My aunt, Lathea, has always been my idol. She was always so cool to me. She rose to the C-Suite of a large insurance company. After finding her way to the top, she left and became the Assistant Secretary of State for New Jersey. When her term ended, she started a business that has been operating for over 25 years. Watching her throughout her career inspired me to dream big.” Tiffany says the journey of running her company has come with a few challenges. The biggest ones were learning how to move through her fear and building a plane in the air. “I learned that fear led to my procrastination. If it were something I hadn’t done before or wasn’t sure about, I would research as though I was looking for the end of Google. That is when I learned to build a plane in the air. I had to move to seek perfection, avoid mistakes or failure, and still get things done.” There isn’t much Tiffany would change about her journey in business. She says everything that has happened has taught her a great lesson. Most importantly, she has learned what she needs, what she doesn’t want, what she can’t do, and what doesn’t work. She advises others who may follow a path similar to her: not to allow the fear of others to cause you to be afraid of chasing your dreams. “Go for it! There is enough out here for everyone. Give more than you take!” In the future, Tiffany says she envisions HR TailorMade as a multi-million dollar business supporting small businesses across the country; world, perhaps. She also expects her company to be ranked in the Top 5 Best Places to Work. To learn more about HR TailorMade, please visit their website.

Tiffany E. Slater www.hrtailormade.com 636-400-7944 8


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Creating “Synergy” for African Americans in the Hotel and Hospitality Industry By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Daymain Smith Synergy is an interaction or cooperation giving rise to a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Attic Greek word συνεργία synergia from synergos, συνεργός, meaning “working together.” Wikipedia Daymain Smith is the founder and CEO of Synergy Hospitality Group, based out of Atlanta, Georgia. His mission is to help African Americans conceive and receive the wealth and authority that comes with not just living their dreams but owning them. Daymain is a living example of the adage, “the only time you see success before work is in the dictionary.” With the southern charm of this Mobile, Alabama native, Daymain makes living the dream look easy. Yet he will be the first to tell you it’s not. The hotel and hospitality industry is challenging, especially for people of color. “Despite African Americans making up 45% of the population in this country, we own less than .5% of the hotel and hospitality industry. I believe it is my calling to help change that,” Smith says as he discusses his plight and passion. Daymain plans to enlighten, educate, and model the road to ownership and financial freedom. Daymain grew up in a small urban community in Mobile, Alabama. He admits that there are many layers to the path that led him to where he is today. “I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. My parents split shortly after I was born, and my grandparents primarily raised me. So, for the most part, my story is a lot like most kids who live where I lived,” Daymain explains. “My father was a pastor, but my mother struggled with addiction. So I had a wide range of influences in my life, and from all of it, I learned that there isn’t anything I can’t have if I was willing to work for it.” St. Louis - July/August 2022

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“I’m not perfect, nobody is, but I don’t shy away from the fact that who I am in my faith is who I am in my company. I strive to do things the right way and make good choices when it comes to how I deal with my investments and investors.”

At fifteen, Daymain left his grandparents to live with his father. “I was about to turn sixteen when my grandparents kicked me out of the house. I went to live with my dad at a time when we both were in transition. We were trying to figure life out for ourselves and each other,” Daymain shares. After graduating high school, Smith attended Bishop State Community College. In 1998 Daymain attended the University of South Alabama, where he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha. He furthered his education at Louisiana State University. Daymain was always involved in one entrepreneurial or another, but it wasn’t until he found the world of hotels and hospitality that he found his niche. “In 2007, I had a magical moment, or rather my defining moment. It was during the 2007-2008 Final Four games when Atlanta’s first recorded tornado touched down. I was working at the Residence Inn Downtown Atlanta,” he says. According to WSBTV. COM, a powerful tornado caused widespread damage across Downtown Atlanta cutting a 6-mile path through downtown and causing significant damage, leaving mass destruction in its wake. “My hotel was horribly affected, and I had to do whatever I needed to help my guest. So there I was with a luggage cart with two guest, their luggage, and a piece of plywood, making my way down Peach Tree to the Westin Hotel. At that moment, when my natural response was to help people who needed me, I knew hospitality was where I was supposed to be. It’s my called place.” Synergy Hospitality Group is a faith-based company. Its business practices and principles are rooted in Daymain’s Christian beliefs. “I’m not perfect, nobody is, but I don’t shy away from the fact that who I am in my faith is who I am in my company. I strive to do things the right way and make good choices when it comes to how I deal with my investments and investors. I am happy to say that my partners and I are like-minded when it comes to that.” Daymain has had the opportunity to work in many different roles within the hospitality industry. In each position, he never second-guessed his called place. He learned that there is a right and wrong way to do everything. “I was blessed to have some fantastic mentors in my career. In fact, one of the partners in Synergy, Robert McCoy, was my General Manager at Premier Hospitality Solutions, Holiday Inn Orlando Airport, for several years. Bob was one of those guys who always made you feel like it was a partnership. I never felt like I was a subordinate to him. Bob has zero ego and never puts himself on a pedestal. He was a great mentor and now an invaluable friend and business partner because he showed me how to stay humble,” he says. With Robert’s mentorship, Daymain became GM for the Holiday Inn Orlando Airport, ultimately leaving to become Regional Manager over a chain of thirteen hotels.

The book featured, How To Buy A Hotel, is written by Davonne Reaves 12

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Obstacles are essential to everyone’s journey, and Daymain is no exception. As Smith continued to excel in the hotel and hospitality industry, he couldn’t ignore the absence of men and women who looked like him. On the rare occasions he did, he found himself on a detour. “I try to learn something from every experience. Even if that is simply what not to do,” Smith says with a laugh. “I’ll just say I worked for an owner who wasn’t setting the right example of what ownership should look like or be about. As a result, I was terminated from that position, which was painful, but by the grace of God, I was able to shift. God allowed me to see that it was all working for my good. I knew I wasn’t going backward because my Father in Heaven didn’t create me to be average.” Daymain and his wife created a car parking business. He says, “Following God, I made six figures parking cars!” According to Merriam-Webster, disenfranchised means to be deprived of some right, privilege, or immunity. After years of working in the hotel and hospitality industry, Daymain saw himself as part of the disenfranchised. He realized there was a missing component that had been out of reach for him and others like him. It was Ownership. “That disenfranchised component made me realize that my people were disenfranchised in the hospitality industry. I had learned the business inside and out and loved it. I was passionate about it but didn’t know how to own it. Again, African Americans represent less than .5% ownership in this industry. Once I understood what that meant, I finally understood my purpose. My purpose was not just to become an owner, but to become an educational conduit for people who look like me in hospitality investment and ownership,” he says. Synergy Hospitality Group was birthed out of one simple premise. “If I can do it, you can too.” “When I realized that I knew just as much if not more than the guys I was working for, it didn’t make sense to continue as an employee. I knew I was built for better, and that’s what I want to pass on to my people,” Daymain shares. Synergy Hospitality Group is ultimately an educational platform and resource to get African Americans to invest in the hospitality industry. “I want to help anyone ready to believe they are built for more. I had to learn the ownership side of hospitality. I have been blessed to have a great friend and mentor, Omari Head, the “Hip Hop Hotel Broker,” as a great connection and one of my biggest supporters. He has opened doors and helped me make connections I couldn’t have made alone. Because I know the value of open doors, I want to help others come through.” he explains.

www.synergyhospitalitygroup.com 202-350-1151

Daymain believes that with the help of his forwardthinking business colleagues, Elise Capital Hotel Investment Advisory and Davonne Reeves, author of How to Buy a Hotel, he can inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. He aspires to teach them how to move past just wanting to make money but see themselves as worthy, capable, and qualified to own their future. “The greatest compliment I’ve ever received was when a young black high school student told me he wanted to be a business and hotel owner like me when he grew up. I knew then that he could see himself as more than what society wanted to label him. I felt like he was waking up to the knowledge that he was built for more,” he says. h

www.synergyfinancialpartnersinc.com info@synergyfinancialpartnersinc.com 202-350-1151

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Symonious Fusion By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by C. Moore For Monique Simone Joe, having and maintaining healthy skin is a family affair. Not only does she believe in the importance of having healthy skin for herself, being a Black woman encapsulated in melanin, but her passion is expressed with her husband and children. Monique is the face and owner of Symonious Fusion, a skincare company based in Huntsville, AL, that produces handmade soaps, body scrubs, body butters, and more. Monique shares that the name of her company is a fun take on her middle nameSimone, and it represents a perfect fusion of mind, body, and spirit. Her products are designed to be an alternative to harsh manufactured soaps and other products, and everything is made with the best natural ingredients. She has a women’s care line, a men’s care line, and a soon-to-be-released kid’s care line. Her journey to becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur began with her having confidence in herself and her products. She shares, “Symonious Fusion was birthed during quarantine season August 2021. The world was dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, which was a very stressful period for adults and children. Lives were turned upside down, and people had to adjust to unfamiliar situations. Self-care became a mandatory survival concern, and I felt Symonious Fusion was a likely solution. I knew people needed something to look forward to, and one of the things I heard most was individuals wanting a few quiet minutes alone to take a nice relaxing bath.”

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Monique also believes that the five senses are very important when it comes to self-care. Knowing this, she wanted to make a product that would satisfy as many senses as possible. Using the feedback of her customer base, who expressed their desire for products that smelled good and were safe for their skin, Monique set her sights on developing products that would meet their needs. “Many products out there have such harsh chemicals, even for me. While I love a lot of the smells, my skin can’t handle the chemicals. I started researching, asking questions, and experimenting. I began with self-care products for my family and friends, but as the word spread, the demand grew, and the next thing I knew, Symonious Fusion was born. I was able to do it and meet the needs of my clients because my products smell good, feel good, and are good for your skin,” she says. Monique describes herself as a lover of life. “Everything that God has placed in my life makes me who I am. I value my relationship with God and strive daily to show myself through my family and friends and live out my purpose. I love taking care of my family and shaping the futures of my kids while having fun at the same time. I love to take care of others, but I try to remember not to neglect myself,” she says. She has enjoyed 22 years of marriage with her husband Timothy, and they share three children. What Monique loves most about her business is being able to create something useful and safe for everyone to enjoy. “I also love the creative process and being able to experiment with different scents, designs, and recipes. Honestly, I did not consider myself a creative before Symonious Fusion, but I guess I am,” she says. She shares she finds inspiration in various people and things, yet the person who has inspired the most is her mom. “She is God fearing, hard working, very smart, resourceful, resilient, funny (in her older age), and the wisest person I know. If I turn out to be half the person she is, I have done well,” Monique says.

Monique Simone Joe Symonious Fusion

www.symoniousfusion.com 256-756-7267

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Being an entrepreneur has its share of challenges. There are good days and some notso-good days. For Monique, she states there isn’t much she would change about her journey in business. “I’m taking it one step at a time and enjoying the process,” she says. The future looks bright for Symonious Fusion, and with Monique’s creativity and determination, things should only get better. To learn more about Symonious Fusion, please visit their website. h


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Bernard Moore Moore & Moore Sports Management

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By Dorjea’ McClammey Photos Provided by Bernard Moore III Bernard Moore III of Jackson, MS, is the founder of Moore & Moore Sports Management. Ever since he was a kid, sports was the one thing that always kept Bernard sane. His choice of sports was versatile, while his top three were baseball, basketball, and football, with football being his all-around favorite. His journey began when a member of his neighborhood was trying to do something better for the community by recruiting young boys to play sports for the park recreational team. The connection was made, and Bernard and his brother instantly liked football. From there, he says it blossomed. During the Summer of 2005, Bernard worked with a college teammate with hopes of figuring out a way to help his community. “I wanted to organize an event for the Walter Paige Scholarship Foundation, but while working on that, tragically, Hurricane Katrina hit and wiped out all of our hard work. After that, I was back at the drawing board and decided the best way to accomplish my goal was to combine my love for sports and become a sports agent,” he says. Thus the creation of Moore and Moore Sports Management. To get started, he researched how the field of sports management differs between different leagues and sports sections. He made connections, and things began to move for Bernard, but he still wanted to know more. So he began searching for a mentor and called different agencies in the Mississippi area, yet they all rejected him. Still, Bernard stood firm. “I told them I wanted to learn the game, and I will have my own agency,” he says. Soon he connected with an attorney, Benjamin Wilson, with the Beveridge and Diamond law firm and taught Bernard how to get started. He says the information he obtained from Benjamin Wilson laid the groundwork for how he runs his agency now. Benjamin Wilson gave Bernard the entire client list they worked on together. However, Bernard had not received his certification to work with NFL and NBA clients. Not to be denied, he found a way to work with clients by becoming a consultant until receiving his certification to become a full-time agent. By 2010 Bernard was on his own, branching out into different fields such as managing and consulting college athletes, former coaches, and even triple-A athletes, also known as the highest level in minor league baseball. With his business continuing to grow, clients began to ask for Moore’s help in planning events such as fundraisers, sponsorships, and advertising. Now, Moore & Moore Sports Management offers many services, including Marketing, Endorsements, Sponsorship Services, event planning, draft preparations, and so much more. He also contracts other professionals for mental health counseling and financial planning services.

“Use the gifts that God has blessed you with, and continue to be a helpful hand in society and all you do.”

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Like any other business, Bernard has seen his share of challenges. He says the Covid 19 pandemic put a hold on many of his events, a delay lasting nearly two years. “With the restrictions in place, many venues were closed, and even with the ones I could obtain, many fans could not attend. This hurdle resulted in a loss in profit,” he says. However, it didn’t stop everything; Bernard would continue his sponsorships and fundraisers online and even worked with radio stations in the area to help spread the word. Speaking of community work, Bernard has worked with many individuals and organizations in and around Jackson, including Butterflies by Grace, Designed by Faith, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation Mississippi Chapter. He has also worked with Jackson Public Schools Athletics, of which he is a proud product of. Out of all the perks, Bernard loves seeing his clients succeed. As for his inspiration, he says that just doing the will of God inspires him to move forward. ”God blessed me with the ability to play football throughout college,” he says. For anyone looking to follow in his footsteps, Bernard says never to let anyone dictate what your outcome may be because you are in control of your creation. “If you want success, you must work hard for it.” Bernard says to expect nothing but growth for the future of Moore and Moore Sports Management. He plans to continue helping individuals who want to flourish in their careers and to be a willing vessel for God to use. He leaves with a quote from the Bible from Corinthians 12: “Use the gifts that God has blessed you with, and continue to be a helpful hand in society and all you do”. Please visit their website to learn more about Bernard Moore and Moore and Moore Sports Management. h

Bernard Moore III www.mms-management.com 601-260-3509 22

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I’m Here To Serve

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Latisha Miles

She is known for her unceasing devotion to serving others, an attribute the Upstate area of South Carolina has grown to cherish and appreciate. Without hesitancy, she eagerly answers the call to assist in any way, whether in business or from a personal perspective. In addition to leading and serving, Ava Smith is also an accomplished entrepreneur. She is the owner of Flat Fee Recruiting and Ava Smith & Associates. Flat Fee Recruiting is a permanent placement recruiting firm that provides quality employees at affordable rates. It also assists companies in various industries and with all types of vacancies. Ava Smith & Associates is a full-cycle HR Consulting firm that operates as an outsourced HR Manager or Director for small businesses, non-profits, and ministries throughout the United States. Some offered services include onboarding, compliance, benefits, risk management, wellness, and training. The New Jersey native holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Human Resource Management from Limestone University and is a Lifetime Member of the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society. She has over 25 years of experience as a Human Resources Professional. That includes employee relations, compliance, recruitment, retention, and training. Ava began her career in the non-profit sector and shifted into manufacturing, the corporate arena, and staffing. Throughout her career, Ava progressively moved upward in her positions, serving in various roles from HR Assistant to HR Director. In August 2002, Ava began her own firm, HR Specialties, which specialized in providing HR services, training, and recruiting. She later expanded this firm by adding additional experts and rebranded it into what is now widely known as Ava Smith & Associates. In 2010, she formed a permanent placement agency called Flat Fee Recruiting. Her agency received the Minority Business of the Year Award in 2013 through the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. Ava is also a noted Diversity Trainer and has delivered hundreds of sessions throughout the Southeast since 2005. Her clientele involves corporations, manufacturers, non-profits, service organizations, government officials, municipalities, universities, hospital systems, local chambers, and faithbased organizations. Ava is known for her unique style and approach that captures her audience’s attention, allowing them to discuss diverse topics easily. Even more, she was the Recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Diversity Award, given by the Greenville, SC Chapter of SHRM.

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Ava has served the Upstate of South Carolina in various roles, including current Board Member with the Simpsonville Area Chamber of Commerce, current Board Member with The University Center of Greenville, Board Member with Greenville Technical Charter High School, Board Member with Junior Achievement (Greenville, SC), Diversity Director of the SC Society of Human Resource Management State Council, Advisory Board Member with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Steering Committee Member with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Advisor with Greenville Chamber of Commerce CAPACITY Builders program, Chair with Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s Greenville Women at Work (GW@W) initiative, Advisory Board Member for Virginia College, Advisory Board Member for ECPI School of Technology, Board Member for the Greenville Society of Human Resource Management (GSHRM), Chair of the Diversity/Inclusion Committee for GSHRM, President of the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Greenville, Board Member of Fostering Great Ideas, Advisory Board Member for Clemson Small Business Development Center, Steering Committee Member for MLK Dream Weekend, a member of the Clemson CU-ICAR Diversity Committee, and member of the Greenville Technical College Multicultural Advisory Board. These accomplishments and contributions have resulted in her being honored extensively. How did Ava get to where she is now? She says, “I originally started my career in accounting. After obtaining a two-year certificate, I became a bookkeeper for a large finance company. I thought I was destined to have a 10key calculator under my hand until I retired. However, a restructure left me without a position. As a single mom, I had no choice but to pursue any vacancy I could find to make ends meet. After searching for several weeks, I found a position at a local non-profit that would change the trajectory of my life.” Her career in HR began when Ava was only 24 years old. “At that time, the industry called it the “Personnel Department”. My job description had two line items. I was to pass out applications and answer the phone. I was unsatisfied with those simple tasks and began asking for more responsibility. A year-and-a-half later, I was the HR Manager of a facility with 400 employees. As my career continued, I would eventually hold HR roles in various industries,” she says. Ava says while serving in her previous HR roles, she realized a common need for employees accompanied by the inability of their small budgets to cover the cost of staffing. To address this, in 2009, she launched Flat Fee Recruiting. When asked what she loves most about what she does, Ava shares how she loves bringing solutions. “I am a problem solver for businesses that need HR support without having the workload that requires a full-time position. I also love being a part of their business strategy team. My clients include me in their vision and long-term plans, and I assist them with walking it out,” she says.

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Ava shares how she finds inspiration in her children and grandchildren. “I always want to be their role model, and knowing they look to me as an example pushes me not to give up. I am also inspired by my father, who recently passed away. He left such a feeling of “legacy” that it has shown me that I am not only working for what is in front of me, I am also working for what I plan to leave behind,” she says. Becoming an entrepreneur, Ava says, was not something she had planned to do. “I was not prepared, and I had to identify training and learning opportunities to gain knowledge on how to be successful. I was challenged by having to build a network with other business owners and people that could support me on this journey. Being open-minded and believing that failing could still be a form of winning helps me overcome challenges on a daily basis.” For anyone who is considering starting a business, Ava offers some advice that may be of assistance. “Knowledge is power. If you are pursuing entrepreneurship, take business courses, be aware of what your legal and financial obligations will be so that you will be prepared. If you are currently in business, continuously find ways to stay innovative and an expert in your field. Choose yourself even when you feel like no one else will.” Please visit her website to learn more about Ava Smith and her companies. h

Ava Smith & Associates Ava@YourFullCycleHR.com 864-448-0939

Flat Fee Recruiting www.flatfeehiring.com 864-326-4211

Celebrating Fifteen Years of Acknowledging Black Excellence

2007 - 2022

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By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Howard Gaither Have you ever Googled yourself? Go ahead… Try it. You may or may not be surprised at what you find. If you Google Agatha Bouvi’J Martin Grimes, you would find twenty years of business savvy and a smile that makes you feel at home. If you have spent time talking to Agatha, you wouldn’t be surprised. Agatha and her husband John are owners of Bouvij’s Enterprises, located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Agatha started in the beauty industry in 1995 and has been building a legacy of service and entrepreneurship ever since. “Service is a large part of who I am as a wife, mother, and business owner,” Agatha explains. “I’ve been in the business of servicing customers as a stylist for over twenty years, and my chair was always booked because I learned from childhood to treat people the way you want to be treated,” she says. Family and community are extremely important to Agatha and John. They have one son, Danny J. Martin Jr., and a nine-month-old granddaughter Demi Noel Martin. For this couple, It’s not enough to be a business owner and entrepreneur. They believe that the blessing is not just for them but everyone. “Our goal is to build a legacy of entrepreneurship that can be passed on to Danny, his daughter Demi, and her children. But we can’t grow as a community if we don’t work together to make it happen.” This was never truer than in the past two years. The pandemic damaged the economy in ways the US hadn’t seen in decades. Not only did we lose loved ones, many lost jobs, homes, and financial stability. Agatha credits her husband, John, as the visionary for their newest joint venture, Bouvij Business Suites, and Enterprises. “Bouvier’s is my middle name, and the J is from John’s name, hence Bouvij,” she explained. Bouvij Enterprises are a combination of smaller companies that Agatha and John own. They include a home improvement business, a commercial covid cleaning service, and their newest business venture Bouvij Suites. “Bouvij Suites are business spaces that entrepreneurs can rent as they build or expand their business. It’s essentially a platform for new business owners a running start,” John explains. “Any business owner will tell you that the biggest obstacle is finding quality spaces to rent,” Agatha interjects. “We toured some of the spaces people work out of, and it’s unbelievable. Either the rent is sky high, or the landlords are basically slum lords. Bouvij Suites give entrepreneurs who are serious about creating a business that people want to patronize the opportunity to do more with less capital.” St. Louis - July/August 2022

502 Four Seasons Town Center Greensboro, NC 27407 336-254-1555 HuamiMagazine.com

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Bouvij Suits aren’t just for those in the beauty or cosmetology industry. The suits can be customized on a fundamental level to meet most every need. “The way we see it, everyone can have a nice, clean, upscale business environment without having to go to other neighborhoods and paying exorbitant monthly rental fees,” Agatha shares. Unfortunately, the African American beauty salon isn’t always shown in the best light. Businesses in urban communities have been given the reputation that because they are black-owned, they are sub-par. Some business owners believe that to attract and maintain quality customers, they must leave their communities. Agatha and John are attempting to prove the naysayers wrong. “We want to keep our business and our dollars in our community,” John explains. “I don’t have a problem with other races, but I want to see more of “us” doing better,” Agatha shared also. Bouvij Suits are more than just brick and mortar. Renters are given the basic requirements to get started in their rental space. The suits are well kept, and there is 24-hour security and monitored security cameras. “Safety is a big selling point for our renters. Any business owner worth their salt wants a location where their customers and clients feel comfortable visiting. Reputation will only get you so far. When your clients see that you have taken basic steps to give them comfort and peace of mind, they will return and bring others with them,” John said. “All of these things are about servicing or serving our community,” Agatha emphasizes. “By creating a quality space for businesses to exist, we attract quality businesses, which attracts customers who want a quality product. It creates opportunities to generate income, jobs, taxes revenue, and that all works to elevate the community and the people in it,” Agatha says passionately. As community leaders, Agatha and John work to set the example of what can be achieved if you put your mind to it. “As God has blessed us, we want to be a blessing. After twenty years of marriage and running a business, there is so much I have to share.” Agatha spends a lot of time giving back to support her community. “We helped set up a location so people could come and receive the covid vaccine. We feed the hungry, especially during covid. My husband makes a point to hire men who may need a second chance or someone willing to take a chance on them. We understand that everybody needs help sometimes.”

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Agatha says her area is mentoring young women. “Young women are attracted to me for some reason. Well, I know the reason. It’s because I’ve been where they are. I know what it’s like to be in a bad relationship and struggle with self-worth. I pray that something I’m doing or saying to them is helping them see themselves as worthy. Sometimes all I can do is try to be an example of what is possible,” Agatha admits. “When I started, I had no money, but I knew what I wanted for myself.” Although Bouvij Suites doesn’t offer a mentorship program, Agatha and John are always willing to give new renters the benefit of their wisdom. “We try to offer new entrepreneurs the wisdom we’ve learned over the years. Some accept it, and some don’t. The offer is two-fold. Some new business owners may have a great idea but don’t have a good execution plan. As a result, they find themselves struggling to pay rent three months in. Our goal for all of our renters is long-term success. If that means giving them a little encouragement or a word of advice here or there, we are more than willing.” Agatha and John say they experience the same things most business owners do, but for the most part, they have been blessed. If they had any regrets, it would be not recognizing the power of oneness earlier in their journey. “I believe we could have been much further along in our business endeavors if we had understood partnership a long time ago,” Agatha admits. “I have many people ask for advice about going into business with their life partner or spouse. I often tell them if I knew what I know now,” she says with a laugh. “My husband is quiet and unassuming, but he is the man with the plan. John is very detail-oriented and helps keep things in focus. We talk about building our community and working together to elevate our people. First, we have to learn to have faith in God, the man or woman he ordained to be in our lives. If you are with the person God has for you, there is no question of partnership in life or business. Together we build.”h

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St. Louis - July/August 2022


By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Marlessia Yancey For most adults, a good and flavorful cup of coffee is an integral start of each day. Without the routine robust boost, things may appear to happen as planned. Fortunately, there is a Conyers, GA based coffee maker who is committed to satisfying the taste buds and cravings of avid coffee connoisseurs. Marlessia Fontaine Yancey is the founder of Mizo Coffee Co, Inc. Named after her two granddaughters, Mila and Zoie, Marlessia’s company is focused on producing quality products for everyone to enjoy. Marlessia was born and raised in Martinsville, VA, to Marvin and Mary Fontaine. She says that after losing her parents, she decided to honor their wishes and continue building her brand and coffee business. “At MiZo Coffee Company, we aim for a clean, rich, and balanced taste in every cup. Our coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans, which gives the brewed coffee a full body, fine aroma, and rich flavor. Our objective is to create the perfect experience,” she shares. Mizo products consist of 12oz bagged coffee (Regular/Decaf/French Vanilla/ Hazelnut) as well as a few retail items. They also offer hot and cold coffee, and a warm smile. Marlessia’s journey to becoming the owner of MiZo Coffee Company began early. She says, “I have been drinking coffee since I was about three years old. I didn’t drink milk as a child. Instead I loved sitting with my grandmother, drinking sips of coffee with her,” she says. “I wasn’t actually drinking coffee, but I thought I was. My grandmother would warm my milk and mix a spoonful of coffee in it to change the taste to get me to drink my milk.” As Marlessia grew older, she had the opportunity to interact with her mother and her aunts while they visited Marlessia’s grandmother on their weekly Wednesday night meet-up. “I was not old enough to be in the kitchen with them; however, I anxiously waited by the kitchen door, anticipating the invite in for a piece of cake or pie. Of course, nothing goes better with coffee than cake or pie.” Marlessia says what she loves most about her business is seeing the look on her customer’s faces when they try MiZo for the first time or one of their specialty coffee drinks.

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Losing both of her parents was quite a difficult period in Marlessia’s life. She credits them both with impacting her life in two different ways. “Dad was always the hardworking father who made many sacrifices to ensure his family had the things they wanted and needed. He had a way of talking to me that was stern, enlightening, and encouraging. He often spoke of challenges on his jobs to shed some light on my obstacles. My mom was a kind-hearted disciplinarian. She had an inviting smile coupled with a warm embrace that left you feeling empowered. They both pushed me to set goals, and live out my dreams,” she shares. While MiZo’s brand of coffee is proven, the journey has come with a few challenges. One Marlessia points out is with her company being compared to the larger coffee houses. “I embrace this because I have an opportunity to educate on my brand, understand hidden expectations, and improve my offerings. Still, we can stand alone because MiZo is different. We provide an experience,” she says. Things are looking great for Marlessia and MiZo’s Coffee Company. Moving forward, she plans to open a full brick-and-mortar MiZo Cafe with unique offerings, accompanied by an atmosphere of family and community. Marlessia says the aroma of MiZo Coffee wafting will be the lure for families to come together for good times and bonding. The place to come where after the first sip, you find yourself reminiscing about some of your most treasured moments....Family Her advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is positive. “If you have a passion for something and feel strongly about it, do the research. Be prepared for negative encounters from people that don’t share your vision. Remember, it’s not their passion; it’s yours. Map out a plan. Create an outline or road map to follow and collect data points along the way. The information you collect along the way allows you to monitor and make a change as needed. Most of all, don’t quit and tell yourself every day, “ I got this!” To learn more about MiZo Coffee Company Inc., please visit their website. h

www.mizocoffeeco.com

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Baby MAGAZINE

Cutest Baby

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Love Monae’ Anthony The daughter of Alneshia Torian

St. Louis - July/August 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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