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Published by The Lioness Group. Founder, Natasha Clark.

Editor-in-Chief Katelyn Gendron Art Director Leo Pilares Director of Photography Denise Smith Columnists Kristina Chapell Aliyah Cherrisse Brenda’s Child Angela Lussier Contributing Writers Erin K. Corriveau Carley Dangona Paige Cerulli Tara McCollum Emily Thurlow

Š2013 Lioness is the first leading magazine for female entrepreneurs. We believe women are multi-dimensional creations who flourish, personally and professionally, when they take time to nurture their spirits. We celebrate the unique challenges and achievements of women in business. We believe women are multi-dimensional creations who flourish, personally and professionally, when they take time to nurture their spirits. Our mission is to elevate, educate and support female entrepreneurs.

welcome to editor’s letter Katelyn Gendron

2014: Roaring louder than ever before! It’s a new year and we’re pouncing on 2014, roaring louder than you’ve ever heard before. Why? Because with a new year comes new beginnings and here at Lioness we’re always striving to improve, to give you more of what you need to help succeed in the marketplace. In this month’s edition, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from such female trailblazers as famed pageant coach Kim Gravel, pathologist-turned-shaman Dr. Sarah Seidlemann, and Louisiana fashion designer DeOndra Jereé. What do they all have in common, besides the fact that they’re in this month’s Lioness? They’re all kicking butt and taking names and they’ve continued to persevere in the business world without letting nay-sayers get in their way. Gravel, the basis for Lifetime’s newest docuseries “Kim of Queens,” is a fascinating interview and an even more complex business woman as she takes her larger than life personality – and her own unique vocabulary – into everything that she does. Even if you’re not a fan of the pageant world – I’m indifferent to it, honestly – you can learn a great deal from her business savvy and unwillingness to compromise who she is as Southern woman. This month you’ll also have the opportunity to help formulate your Startup Tool Kit. We’ve included an entire section of suggestions, from books, to ways to avoid startup pitfalls, to a go-to manual on how to stretch yourself between day job and startup. Life as a female entrepreneur isn’t an easy one, we all know this, but this Tool Kit will certainly offer solutions to ensure success throughout the new year. May 2014 bring you many blessings and a renewed sense of vigor. Roar loud and proud, we are!




1) How long have you been in business? We opened our doors at the very end of December 2010.

2) Why have you chosen to dedicate yourself to this particular business/industry? I decided after 2 years of living in London, to move back home, as I missed it terribly. I saw this as a good opportunity to do something different (the thought of filling out a thousand application forms and attending countless interviews again made my heart sink), I thought I could use this opportunity to fill a gap in the market. My mother, also my business partner, had run a pop-up vintage shop the previous year, and it was very successful. I spoke with her and we decided vintage was the way forward. So, we started looking at commercial properties to begin our venture. I liked vintage, but now I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. I have developed an unthinkable passion for this industry and love everything about it.

3) What makes business/product unique? There seems to be a bit of a “gap” in the market, when it comes to vintage in Edinburgh. There’s the long-standing Armstrongs & Son, which have three outlets in the city, and is a name everyone is familiar with. Apart from that, there are a handful of small vintage shops dotted about, with which not everyone is so familiar with. Everything we put out on the shop floor is hand picked, cleaned, ironed and mended if necessary (something you don’t see in a lot of vintage shops around the country, but I speak from personal experience). I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, so it is essential for me to have a clean environment, clean (lovely smelling) clothes and they must not be fraying, missing buttons or have torn linings. Everything is hand labeled and a lot of the time hung according to color.

4) You could have worked for anyone and would have been successful, why become an entrepreneur? Truth is, whilst I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and a postgraduate in Art History, I struggled to find a job. I could only afford to do so much “interning” without getting paid, and the amount of experience someone wanted for a job I felt more than qualified for, was extreme. I thought, rather than go through the turmoil of the job application stress again for the rest of the year and possibly end up somewhere I feel undervalued and stapling booklets together, I will be my own boss, do it exactly how I want to do it. And I did.

5) What was your last, “why did I go into business for myself” moment? It definitely has its downs as well as its ups! Unexpected bills and difficult customers can sometimes make you question everything! But at the end of the day, I fantasize about being in a cramped office, wearing sensible shoes, unable to answer all my



Answers By:

Nina Goldberger; Partner; The Frayed Hem, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; edHem

emails in a day, with work piling up next to me and my boss going, “More, do more, we need this now!” and I remember, life is very good.

6) Every female professional should have Confidence. It is essential when it comes to saying “no” to people trying to sell you unnecessary products, nuisance phone calls and making business decisions. If you feel something is right, and you can afford to make a decision, then you need to have the confidence to say, “Yes, I will do this, it’s my business and my choice.”

7) If you could steal some business mojo from another mogul, who would it be and why? I’m afraid my answer might disappoint here, as I don’t think I would steal anything from anybody. I do things my way, slogan or not, things have gone really well for me, as I have been honest to myself about what I am doing, and wish to accomplish. I am not looking to have franchise, or become a millionaire, so I guess my motto would be “take every day as it comes.” I tackle things as they happen, I don’t stress or try to predict numbers for the forthcoming year, as I believe this is unrealistic and I don’t want to end up disappointed. I’m very relaxed and believe what will be, will be. I can only do my best.

8) What is your business motto? See above: “Take each day as it comes.”

9) If you could give other entrepreneurs three tips, what would they be? Trust your gut; sometimes the best decisions are not the expected, proper decisions that everyone else would make. I thoroughly believe in experience and learning from them.

Don’t waste money on advertising in inappropriate areas; we are very lucky to be situated in the heart of the Old Town, where a lot of tourists pass through from the train station, to the castle and see the sights around this area. We have invested some money in the past advertising in

national magazines in an attempt to get our name out there and perhaps have more online business, it made no difference to us whatsoever, and it was money not well spent. Our main income is passing traffic, so we don’t really need advertising.

Keep an eye on the tax bill; I don’t like to give all my hard-earned cash back to the taxman, so I invest where I can in improving the shop, by purchasing better quality (more expensive) items to sell, adorning the walls with trinkets and pretty things that will keep our customers entertained, and trying new things to jazz up the changing rooms a little!

10) Has there been a piece of technology or software that has been a lifesaver to you? The Internet. I am online a lot; sourcing, finding new wholesalers, finding out when vintage fairs and flea markets are on, if there are new vintage shops opening up nearby, special events etc. I couldn’t run my business without it.

11) What is your goal for the next year? To survive! The council like to put up rent, taxes and get as much money off you as they can, regularly, so I will be pleased to survive another year, make some profit and live comfortably without having to worry.

12) When someone is telling their friend about your business, what do you hope they say? I hope they point out the little things; we have a good atmosphere! I hope people enjoy their experience in the shop, and find it easy enough to find everything and like the décor. The smell in the shop (we get a lot of comments about this, we use a festive plug-in all year round, so it doesn’t smell like mothballs, which a lot of vintage shops do, according to our customers), the pretty satin hangers, tidiness (I can’t stand an untidy shop! I hope people appreciate I tidy up a lot, ensuring everything is symmetrical, in order and the right way around!), the handwritten labels, the good quality.


Above: Kim Gravel, right, stars in the all-new Lifetime docuseries “Kim of Queens.� Right: Allisyn Varalla demonstrates pageant form at The Pageant Place. Photos courtesy of Karolina Wojtasik



Kim Gravel will be the first to tell you she’s never been a typical Georgia Peach. “I’m just a nobody; a 42 year-old, 32 pounds overweight and I’m just trying get by,” she confessed, acknowledging that she’s always considered herself to be “an ugly duckling.” The worlds of pageantry, entertainment and business, however, have been in disagreement with Gravel’s self-assessment for more than 20 years; she was crowned the youngest Miss Georgia in history at age 16, has built her own successful cosmetics line, Hardee Girl Cosmetics, runs her own

pageant coaching business, Pageant Place, and is now starring in Lifetime’s new documentary series, “Kim of Queens.” The show, which premiered on Jan. 1, chronicles Gravel, founder, owner and CEO of Pageant Place in Suwanee, Ga., as she attempts to harvest a future Georgia Peach. Using her own unique vocabulary – “sass-a-frass” and “cucaracha-ness” (competitive attitude) – her unrelenting honesty, her zeal for life and pageantry, Gravel is aided, and sometimes comically inhibited, by her business partners, Allisyn and Jo, her sister and mother, respectively. “A lot of people don’t get our family dynamic. We’re just such raw, real people. We talk to each other to the point that

makes people uncomfortable sometimes,” Gravel explained. “My mother is the epitome of class and you will see that as the show progresses. My sister doesn’t take anything or herself too seriously. She is just Miss Party Girl USA. She has made some big life mistakes and she’s able to help these girls [at Pageant Place]. I don’t think that I could do this without them. “My passion is not just being a pageant coach. I’m a builder of people and businesses and just a builder by nature. I like pageants but I love people. The TV [executives at Lifetime were] attracted to that in me. They thought I was just a great character, funny and inspirational, and I

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Cucaracha-ness! Left: Pageant hopefuls learn from Kim Gravel at Pageant Place.

Bottom: (L to R) Jo Hardee, Hope, Allisyn Varalla and Kim Gravel star in the allnew Lifetime docuseries “Kim of Queens.” Photos courtesy of Karolina Wojtasik

“My passion is not just being a pageant coach. I’m a builder of people and businesses and just a builder by nature.

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Hope, a pageant hopeful, learns from Kim Gravel in the new docuseries, “Kim of Queens.”

Photos courtesy of Karolina Wojtasik

said OK because it’s just such an amazing way to get your brand out there,” she continued. “I hope the show will take off. I enjoy doing it. It’s not just some random, arguing women. I think it’s a fresh take on docuseries. I think women are hungry for this message. I hope that they can tune in and see their best girlfriend. I hope that the show really connects in that way, but what do I know?” Gravel said with a laugh. If the show doesn’t resonate with viewers, Gravel explained that she plans to continue her efforts building Hardee Girl Cosmetics and Pageant Place. “I started my makeup company 15 years ago. I was in the corporate world in something that I hated and grew this business on nights and weekends. Then people started calling me to train them and do their



hair and makeup [for pageants] and it just evolved. For me, the business started small, raw and organic. I never set out to be a pageant coach. Not everybody who’s been a beauty queen is suited to train. Just because you do doesn’t mean you can teach,” she explained of the evolution of her career. Gravel advised other aspiring female entrepreneurs to “start small,” adding, “I bumped into this business. I have an entrepreneur’s spirit. Women are so great in so many aspects of [entrepreneurship]. Start small and organically and just evolve.” When asked how she’s able to coordinate both businesses as well as satisfy her responsibilities as a wife and mother to two boys, age 4 and 6, Gravel replied, “I don’t believe we can have it all. I believe we

can do it all but we can’t have it all. It’s an ebb and flow. Sometimes I’m working harder on my family and other days I’m working on my business harder. When I’m with these girls [at Pageant Place] I’m with them 100 percent. Sometimes when I’m on the mountaintop for my business I’m in the valley with my family.” She admitted that she hopes to continue her success both at home and the workplace by staying dedicated to her work ethic, all while aiding the girls at Pageant Place to not only achieve their dreams of obtaining a crown but also to become future entrepreneurs, leaders and passionate citizens of tomorrow. “Money, I do, but fame and fortune I don’t care about that, but if people are encouraged by what I do it’s worth it,” Gravel said.

Doctor changes career path proving she’s ‘born to freak’ By Erin Corriveau

So, I discovered I’m a bit of a freak – and I’m OK with it. Dr. Sarah Seidelmann is also OK with it. In fact, she promotes it, supports it and gives me permission to be so in her new book “Born to Freak: A Salty Primer for Irrepressible Humans.” A former board-certified pathologist, Dr. Seidelmann transitioned from clinical medicine to shamanic healing in order to fulfill her soul. She did so with excited fear, conviction and love. I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with this incredibly inspiring, humorous and real woman about how she came to be where she is today, how it’s changed her and what she hopes to change in us. Just as with other phone interviews,



you have a moment of “I really hope this person on the other end is going to be easy to talk with.” I’m not sure which interview God heard my plea, but Sarah, as she addressed herself when she answered, was nothing less than incredible. Forty-five minutes later I was crushed to have to end such a kindred conversation. What I took with me, though, will last a lifetime.

Q: Where were you in your life when you decided to leave pathology and become a shaman? Did one specific event happen to trigger it or was it an overall feeling you had for a while? A: It was a culmination of things, a general

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Shebooks launches new e-books for women on the go

Shebooks ( entered the booming e-singles market with a collection of nine titles aimed at the largest reader segment – women. Shebooks also announced plans for a unique subscription offering for accessing the publisher’s growing collection of titles. The nine titles released on the Shebooks preview site (view on include six memoirs and three

works of fiction by well-established authors and essayists, including Hope Edelman, Marion Winik, Faith Adiele, Jessica Anja Blau and Suzanne Paola. At Shebooks, readers will find original and rarely seen memoir, fiction and journalism by and for women. Currently available for Kindle and Nook devices, the growing library of e-books — up to 15 a month, each between a long magazine article and a book in length — will be available on all devices and by subscription from the site beginning in March. “Women writers are looking for new outlets for their most personal work, and women readers crave great reads that fit into their busy lives,” Laura Fraser, editorial director and a co-founder of Shebooks, said. “We are thrilled by the variety and quality of our first titles.” Shebooks was co-founded in 2013 by Laura Fraser, a journalist, writing teacher



and best-selling author (“An Italian Affair”); veteran magazine editor Peggy Northrop (former Global editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest, former editor-in-chief of More, current editorin-chief of Sunset); and publishing veteran Rachel Greenfield (former executive vice president, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia). Shebooks was awarded a seed grant by the New Media Women’s Entrepreneurial Fund administered by the American University’s J-Lab in 2013. The company is currently in the midst of raising its first round of seed funding. Rachel Greenfield, the company’s chief operating officer, said, “Women make up 71 percent of all e-book buyers — a $1.7 billion market. And women make up over two-thirds of all magazine subscribers. But there are actually very few outlets for quality writing by women at this length, even though the format is ideally suited to women’s busy lives. We think this idea, enabled by the advent of tablets, is ripe to explode and grow, and we have been getting an excellent reception as we take it to market.” The nine books live on today are:

“Boys Like That: Two Cautionary Tales of Love” A memoir by best-selling author Hope Edelman (“Motherless Daughters; Motherless Mothers”) of finding solace in unexpected places when her mother is stricken with cancer.

“Guesswork” A collection of essays on love, memory, and things that last, by popular author and NPR commentator Marion Winik (author of “Highs in the Low Fifties: How I Stumbled Through Single Life,” and many other books). “His Eye Is on the Sparrow An Engagement in Black and White” Ann Pearlman’s memoir of

the beginnings of her interracial marriage, set in 1962 in Pittsburgh and Chicago, reveals a personal side of the civil rights movement and its effects on two families. Pearlman is the author of Infidelity, which was nominated for a National Book Award and made into a Lifetime movie. “Lady Problems: A Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide Faith” Adiele’s insightful and often hilarious account of a clash between health care cultures. Adiele is author of the PEN award-winning memoir “Meeting Faith,” about becoming the first black Buddhist nun in Thailand.

“Alone in the Woods: Cheryl Strayed, My Daughter, and Me” Micah Perks writes beautifully about mothering a determinedly independent child after growing up as one herself. Perks is a novelist (“We Are Gathered Here”) and memoirist (“Pagan Time”) and co-directs the creative writing program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“The Risotto Guru: Adventures in Eating Italian” In this amusing and appetite-whetting collection of essays, Laura Fraser journeys from the SpaghettiOs of her childhood to savor the best of Italian cuisine and the culture that cooked it up. Fraser, a co-founder of Shebooks, is the author of the international best-selling memoir, “An Italian Affair.”

“Owl in Darkness” This hypnotic novella by Zoe Rosenfeld, about a writer on retreat who cannot write a word, confronts us with our own cravings for change and progress. Rosenfeld is a poet, writer and editor and the recipient of a MacDowell fellowship for fiction.

“Stolen Moments” Interconnected short stories by Suzanna Paola about how found objects — from a forgotten tube of lipstick to a pair of shoes left in a hotel room — transform three women’s lives and self-perceptions. Paola, a poet and essayist, is a Pushcart Prize and American Book Award winner.

“Mating Calls” Any woman who has behaved badly in the name of love – or lust – will want to download these two funny, moving, and alltoo-true-to-life fictional stories by Jessica Anja Blau. Blau is the best-selling author of “The Wonder Bread Summer,” “Drinking Closer to Home,” and “The Summer of Naked Swim Parties.”

Born to Freak

Dr. Sarah Seidelmann feeling of being overwhelmed with everything. I had reached a point where I could no longer be at home with my kids and be the mom I had always wanted to be and the most excellent pathologist. I had been striving to do both for so long and it became a real struggle. I was exhausted. As a woman, everyone (family, children, friends, relationships) comes first because we treasure them so much. Because of this, we don’t take time to honor ourselves. Instead we betray ourselves. I had no “juju” left for creativity. My soul needed more. Q: So knowing you needed more, how did clinical medicine lead you to shamanic healing? While they both “heal” they are two very different concepts. What was the deciding factor?

A: (She laughs with a smile I can hear through the phone) I want to assure people that I didn’t just wander out of office one day and just decide to do this. It was subtle. Things really came to light when I was at a breast cancer conference. Conversations were laden with the terms “cancer,” “chemo” and “radiation” – basically the disease itself. Then I would hear nurses and caretakers talk about a person they were treating whose husband didn’t support them, or abused them or another person who was alone with no connections or support. During the conference, this topic was brought up but never focused on. Instead it was about cancer, not love and community. I began to think, “Maybe diseases would be different if those things (love, support, community) were present in treatment.” I wanted to look at it that way. I took a sabbatical and began to spend time outside. I connected with nature and I started to receive messages. For example, the air would be still and a wind would blow and I would feel as though it would blow for me, as if trying to connect with me. I

began to open my eyes to things I hadn’t noticed before and things became mystical, magical. Please don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t in a perpetual state of wonder (she laughs again) but I felt connected. I spend as much times as I can outside. Even in the winter I’ll go onto my porch for at least five minutes just to be outside. We live in our world with our jobs, our cars. We sit inside all day. However, if we spent more time with nature we would feel healed, whole again. Nature teaches us so much about life, and death. In nature, the natural progression of life is embraced (age, etc.) For example, trees grow and then they die … and it’s OK to die. They are supposed to. In our society, death is to be feared.

Q: You’re absolutely right. I feel as though we fear so much of what is supposed to be natural. We are also uncomfortable with change or anything outside of our comfort zone. Did this change in your life scare you? Not only the career aspect of it, but your own personal journey of connection and healing?

A: Oh yes, it was scary for sure. It still is some days! I like to think of fear as a little friend. It

can be exciting if it’s bringing you somewhere good. I think my biggest fear was of course money/income. Then there were the people who thought I was crazy and tried to urge me to stay in my “secure field.” Regardless of these fears, I knew that to turn back would be impossible. Q: And I’m happy you didn’t! In your new path as a shaman, do you remember the first person you helped heal?

A: Yes! I had a close circle of friends at the time (my “brain trust” as I call them) and it was one of the first people I had spoken with in this group. We talked about the animals she had been crossing paths with or that were present in her life during this specific time and it was then she had her “Aha!” moment and realized the symbolism behind it. I remember thinking how easy this was. There was no heavy lifting. When you find what it is that you love and it’s so effortless it almost seems so wrong (we both laugh).

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Born to Freak Q: In both of your books “What the Walrus Knows” and “Born to Freak: A Salty Primer for Irrepressible Humans,” you refer to animals, or “beasties” as carrying messages to us. Can you explain how?

A: I encourage a lot of people who are fearful to look carefully at what animals are showing up in our lives during these times of need. For me, the honey badger kept coming up – specifically through a YouTube phenomenon. Honey badgers are found in Africa and are very fierce. They dive into these bee caves packed with angry bees but they respectfully don’t care as they are just following their hearts’ desire for the honey. There was one video I saw where a viper bites the honey badger. Having been attacked the honey badger passes out for a little bit. But then, it slowly moves and starts to get up and it continues fighting. It was a message for me at the time. To go after what I wanted and even if bitten or attacked to get right back up. Wild animals show us that there’s

nothing wrong in going after what you want. They don’t live in the past or the future but rather they live in the moment carrying no judgment with them. In our society, when people go after what they want to succeed they are met with “Well who do they think they are to do this?” Well I like to say “Well who are you not to shine your light?” We all need to shine.

Q: Speaking of “shining,” being who you truly are and running with it is “shining”. You promote just that in “Born to Freak: A Salty Primer for Irrepressible Humans.” I’m a little ways through so far and find it incredibly fun and enlightening. It’s freeing really. As a child we are born growing up exactly who we are – quirks and all. However, we are then taught what not to do, or how to act, or asked to suppress what makes us who we are to “fit in.” I find in reading this book that you’re saying it’s OK to let it out and to embrace it – and it’s perfect! What prompted you to deliver this message via this book?

A: Right before my sabbatical I was diagnosed with A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder). During this time, I had stumbled upon other women who were diagnosed with A.D.D. who reminded me of myself (habits, etc.) I picked up a copy of “Driven to Distraction” and read it and thought, “This is me!” Shocked, I went to a psychologist. I was interviewed and tested and I remember thinking, “I’m kicking ass on this test! I’m so passing this!” In the end, no such luck. Diagnosis? “Oh yes, you have it.” It’s such a terrible label to have, such a negative moniker. I didn’t see it as negative at all, I saw it as a gift! Sure you get distracted throughout the day (thinking of groceries and other things) but we were magical. Don’t get me wrong, you certainly don’t want us doing your taxes but we have other gifts. People with A.D.D., Autism, Asperger’s, etc., they are all too often ostracized by a society that’s so quick to medicate or “fix” them. No! They are here to show peo-

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Born to Freak ple things! I started reading a lot and made some interesting discoveries regarding A.D.D and a daydreaming state, a natural REM state. During this state, shamans would appear. Similarly, there was a movie on Temple Grandin, an autistic girl who in her dream like states communicated with animals [cows] and grew up to be an animal scientist. Through her and her advocacy for the cows, she created much more humane slaughter houses and the overall treatment of the cattle prior. She took something that was deemed “wrong” or “needed fixing” and instead fixed something herself. A lot of us are those people who are bridges to healing through simply expressing who they really are. I began to do cold calls and collect research, learned how children connect with animals and concentrated on the gifts of A.D.D, what is wonderful about it versus what is awful about it. And, here we are. Q: I love that you took such a positive spin on

what most people consider a difficult topic. You truly want people to see the beauty in “different.” In doing so, you celebrate the “freak” in these people – and everyone else. That being said, what is your favorite freaky part of you?

A: (She laughs) My favorite freaky part of me? Wow, OK well little things sometimes cross my brain as funny and when I get courageous I let them out. That may not seem like anything to crazy, however, these things have a sort of inappropriateness to them – sort of like the SNL [Saturday Night Live] section of my brain is on overload. I was just in India this spring and the there was a drawing on a white board where two rivers come together and make a big river. There was a patch where they converge and suddenly I saw the female body and it all came together and it looked like a woman having sex! I thought, “Does anyone else see this?” Dr. Seidelmann and I are both hysterical at this point – mostly because I’ve done the same thing from time to time –

seeing something I find absolutely hysterical and wondering if anyone around me is enjoying it as much as I am. But then I think, I don’t care if they are or aren’t – but they’re missing out!

Q: Dr. Seidelmann, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today. Before I let you go, would you please share your favorite quote with us?

A: Absolutely! My favorite quote resonates from Alice the Elephant – “Commit to believing you deserve to experience all the love and connection your heart desires. No earning or repenting or serving time is required. (Elephants never forget this.)” – Born to Freak, the book. Sadly, the interview had to be over because I truly could have talked with her for hours. Witty, charming and salty she was a kindred spirit. When I go outside, I think of her often and what she taught me. The wind might blow just then and I smile, wondering what message it has for me today.


5 books every entrepreneur should read Title: “Shark Tank Jump Start Your Business” Author: Michael Parrish DuDell

Summary: From the ABC hit show “Shark Tank,” this book-filled with practical advice and introductions from the Sharks themselves, will be the ultimate resource for anyone thinking about starting a business or growing the one they have. Full of tips for navigating the confusing world of entrepreneurship, the book will intersperse words of wisdom with inspirational stories from the show. Throughout the book, readers will learn how to:

•Determine whether they’re compatible with the life of a small business owner •Shape a marketable idea and craft a business model around it •Plan for a launch •Run a business without breaking the bank (or burning themselves out) •Create a growth plan that will help them handle and harness success •Pitch an idea or business plan like a pro Title: “The Lean Startup” Author: Eric Ries

Summary: Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. “The Lean Startup” is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

Title: “The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future” Author: Chris Guillebeau

Summary: In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living.

Still in his early thirties, Chris is on the verge of completing a tour of every country on earth – he’s already visited more than 175 nations – and yet he’s never held a “real job” or earned a regular paycheck. Rather, he has a special genius for turning ideas into income, and he uses what he earns both to support his life of adventure and to give back.




5 books every entrepreneur should read (cont.) Title: “How To Win Friends and Influence People” Author: Dale Carnegie

Summary: For more than 60 years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

Now this previously revised and updated bestseller is available in trade paperback for the first time to help you achieve your maximum potential throughout the next century!

Title: “Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs” Author: Kaira Sturdivant Rouda

Summary: Real You Incorporated empowers women entrepreneurs. The book provides insights for women on how to discover and love their personal brand, and how to bring it into the market as a real business — unique and different. In the first section of the book, Find It Within You, readers will learn how to express internal personality, passions and essence to define the internal brand. In the second section, The Competitive Advantage, readers learn how to extend the internal message into the world — to their partners, employees and ultimately their customers.

Title: “Lean In” Author: Sherly Sanberg


Summary: Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.




Startup Pitfalls

So you want to be an entrepreneur, eh? Get ready for the ride of your life. Following our passions gives us a feeling of vivacity that is infectious. We get tunnel vision as we hone in on our dreams. It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we need tunnel vision to stay on task and to keep our dream alive on awful days. But other the other hand, we have to heed the signs that may be pointing for us to take a new route or reevaluate an idea.

If you don’t pump your breaks every now and then to come up for air, you could find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole of disaster.

Here are the Pitfalls to avoid. 1. Going with no guidance. The task of writing a business plan can be daunting. In fact, many people with exciting business ideas often give up when it is time to get it down on paper or they fly without one and wonder why their plane crashes mid-way after takeoff. Your plan is your map and every now and then you’re going to need to look back at it to make sure you’re on track (especially if you intend to seek financing).

Whether it’s in an old shoe box, computer file or tattooed on the bottom of your foot, you should at least have the vision, its purpose, the mission and your target audience written down somewhere.

2. Spending cash unwisely. Think of your money as your lifeline. Even blood donors have to wait 56 days before they can donate again. You should be spending conservatively and only on necessities as a startup. Entrepreneurship brings a variety of hidden costs. Mismanagement of funds and bankrolling poorly executed ideas is a surefire way to go broke fast.

3. Figuring it out on your own. No one is an expert in everything. If you don’t know the answer, find someone who does.



There are a variety of programs to assist entrepreneurs, networking opportunities to meet other professionals and workshops to teach solutions to problems. You can’t be all things. Smart entrepreneurs surround themselves with smart people. 4. Fearing failure. You’re going to fail most of the time and get it right some of the time. You get more lessons and experience out of losses than wins. It’s scary. It sucks. It’s entrepreneurship.

Think things through. Try your hardest. If you fail, reevaluate, get back up and repeat.

5. Not devising a marketing strategy. How can someone buy your product if they never heard of it? You’ll learn very quickly that it takes more than grandma bragging about you to her friends at church and a classified ad to build a brand.

Find out where your target audience is going and be there when they arrive. You’re also going to have to leave your modesty at home and actually tell people what you do. If you’re not enthusiastic to sell what they will be buying, they won’t be enthusiastic about taking their hard-earned cash to buy it.

STARTUP Toolkit 6. Growing too fast. Once you start meeting your financial goals, even exceeding them, this is the perfect time to reevaluate and pull out that old business plan or vision statement we talked about in #1. Don’t just aimlessly decide to start hiring new employees, adding more products to your line, making large distribution deals or spending more on plush items.

Growing requires preparation and a blueprint. Just remember that more employees, more office space, more products, more overhead costs means spending MORE money.

7. Not being on the same page as your partner. If you’re going into business with a partner, you guys not only need to be on the same page, but at the end of that page should be a line for you both to sign on and a notary seal. Nothing can make a venture go sour like two people who begin to despise one another.

Sure there will be days when you want to deflate your partner’s car tires, but a good working relationship starts with a legally sound one. Your roles should be clearly defined, your strengths and weaknesses should be shared candidly behind closed doors and your decision-making process should be clear before the first decision is implemented. You both should be a unified front to your staff, investors and general public. There should be trust and room for respectful disagreement. Because there will be issues – oh yes – many issues. But who wants to deal with that on top of possible backstabbing?

8. Waiting. Successful entrepreneurs execute not procrastinate. You can have a billion-dollar idea, but if you never put it into action it is worthless. Entrepreneurs don’t have time to wait or waste. If you are not a self-motivator who can manage your own time, adhere to deadlines, occasionally beg and be willing to put in at least 12 hours of work most days – then you, my friend, should stick to your day job.

9. Not knowing your competition. If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, how will you know what sets you a part from them? Do the research. Get to know the leading people in your field. Join associations where your peers are having open conversations about your industry. Buy trade journals. Go to trade shows. Participate in Google+ groups and chime in on discussions on LinkedIn. Be in the know. Thinking two steps ahead keeps you on your toes and full of fresh ideas. Industries seldom die. They change. Make sure you’re at the front end of its revolution.

10. Believing if you ‘Build It, They Will Come.’ Ryan L. Mansell, author of “Success In Online Business,” encourages entrepreneurs to go beyond themselves. “An idea or service may look good to the entrepreneur but the most important question that should ring in one’s mind is whether customers would actually be willing to pay for it.”

Case in point: after kicking butt in the dental industry, Colgate thought launching Colgate Dinner Entrees (microwaveable meals) was their next great idea. It wasn’t. Do your research and host a few focus groups. Just because it seems like a good idea doesn’t mean it is one.

you completely lose it. So you may cry. Often. However, get your ass up the next morning and go back to work full throttle. This is your dream. Doing what you love makes the tears worth it.

12. Forgetting to establish your Avengers team. Successful entrepreneurs are rarely a onewoman show. They usually have a team of good mentors, advisors, friends, family and employees around them. Everyone needs a cheering section. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your company, who can offer words to build you up, not tear you down.

Launching a startup is hard enough. You will wrestle with doubts and fears on your own. The last thing you need is negative comments from the peanut gallery. People who are not entrepreneurs will not always get it so make sure to find other women entrepreneurs you can have a glass of wine with and just vent.

11. Not packing a tissue box. “Cry Me A River” is not just a hot song by Justin Timberlake. It’s a way of life at startups. Five doors may slam in your face before one cracks open wide enough for you to jam your foot in. So bring your box of tissues, sister. It takes a lot of ugly, boring, tedious work to get your business off of the ground and sometimes you will be up to 2 a.m. getting it done. Your days will be demanding. Your mind will be all over the place and sometimes all it can take is dropping a splat of coffee on your blouse to make



STARTUP Toolkit The Straddle: Stretching yourself between day job and start-up By Kara Martin Snyder

Have you ever taken a yoga class where some blissed-out teacher just glides into a straddle? Only you’re breaking a sweat from the shaking, feeling your muscles scream and wincing.

If you’re an early stage entrepreneur, then you probably know about the other straddle. One foot is in your day job; and one foot is in your big entrepreneurial dream (a.k.a. your start-up). Both of your feet are starting to move in opposite directions. At first, it’s thrilling. Let’s be honest: entrepreneurship can be intoxicating. You’re all loved-up talking about your passion project. People are cheering you on. You’re starting to make tracks. Onward and upward!

The day-to-day reality might be somewhat more tedious, especially when you have that pesky, yet bill-paying, insurance-providing day job. You’re exhausted. You’re overwhelmed. Your nerves and immune system are shot. Your friends and family that used to cheer you on are wondering if you’re still alive. You have haven’t had a clear or creative thought in weeks. Plus, your boss is on your back. The worst: You’re beginning to wonder if you should just ditch your dream. Well, Lioness, it’s time get fierce about:

• Your Sleep: While entrepreneurs LOVE to brag about how they can function on four hours of sleep, they can … like an intoxicated zombie who always seems to have some sort of cold, flu or infection. How productive! How confidence inspiring! Every cup of coffee that you slurp down is like writing a rubber check at your Bank of Energy, so forget about that crutch. Aim for seven-plus hours to be svelter and more successful. You can’t effectively create or produce anything when you’re spent.

• Your Goals: “Quit day job” doesn’t cut it. Be honest: When was the last time that you sat down and made S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals? Goals that are Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic (or Relevant.) Time-specific. And Emotionally Resonant. Seriously, you’ll be amazed what happens if you set a timer for 15 minutes to focus on just one personal goal, one start-up goal and one day job maintenance goal. Think critically and creatively about areas that overlap or conflict to make them serve your goals. Aim to break your three goals down into action items that take 60 minutes or less. Create bite-sized morsels of progress instead of an overwhelming gobstopper that will make you choke. You want to feel like your making regular progress.

• Your Calendar: Things that go on your calendar are far more likely to get done, so scrub it. Are there activities on your calendar that don’t align with your three goals? Then, give your No muscle a workout. Ditch or delegate wherever you can. Add in sleep and some modicum of self-care first. Then, start adding in those 60 minute or less action items that lead to you completing your first three goals. Before anything new goes on your calendar, be your own gatekeeper and ask yourself: Is it moving my current goals forward? Does it feel shouldy? Setting these boundaries takes practice, but isn’t your sanity worth it? When you get close to capacity, start looking for creative ways to identify synergies, reclaim time and negotiate for it. You want a parttime, flexible job in finance with health insurance like I did? Ask. For. It.

• Your Team: Entrepreneurship is often a road less traveled that some people just don’t understand. You can’t always take everyone on this journey with you. Your energy is precious during the straddle period, so don’t waste it trying to please the naysayers, fearmongers and toxic detractors. Be assertive … or be previously booked when they want to get together to rain on your parade. Surround yourself with the people who believe in you and your start-up.

Kara Martin Snyder, CHHC is the owner and chief strategist over at vital corps, a health and wellness studio located at the intersection of strategic action and self-care. Kara’s not your run of the mill, woo-woo wellness coach, though. Sure, she’s got the classroom and professional creds that many health coaches have but she's also got an arsenal of bad-assery stemming from her boardroom, kitchen, and street savvy. She straddled a career in finance and start-up life for two years. Serving whipsmart, Type A, professional women since 2009, Kara deconstructs the broken processes in her clients’ lives and together they co-create actionable, manageable steps to creating healthy, more fulfilling lives slathered with joy. Forget frazzled and famished, it’s time to get focused and downright fierce ... without starvation, deprivation, or tribulation. Visit Kara’s little slice of digital Shangri-La at and make yourself cozy



The Lipstick Chronicles

Learning Pearls of Wisdom By Kristina Chapell

One of my best girlfriends and I were at dinner recently when a lady came and sat next to us. Mrs. R, as she introduced herself, started talking to the bartender about music and musicians and we thought she was crazy. After pleasantries shared, she started telling us about her life, her family, but more importantly sharing what she called her “pearls of wisdom.” As she shared, we were both in awe and agreement. So, as we enter a new year and have made another promise to be better versions of ourselves in 2014, allow me to share some pearls of wisdom with y’all. 1. Never be without your girlfriends. Your girlfriends should be the number one priority in your life … over a guy. Guys come and go but your girlfriends will ALWAYS be by your side.

If a guy wants to date you, let him date your girlfriends too. He should want to spend time with you AND them. If he never wants to hang out with all of you, run, because he will never want to hang with your girls.

2. Don’t give someone else sole responsibility for your happiness. You and only you can make you happy. Thinking a guy will fulfill you emotionally and mentally will eventually drive him away. Have a life, a man whose girl has a life and

does things she wants, will respect her so much more than a guy who is expected to be the sole provider of your happiness. Yes ladies, this is where your girlfriends come in! And, if you devote 100 percent of your time to your man and he leaves, and he will leave, your girls will not be around the same way they were before.

3. You’re not on the top of his mind. You don’t want your world to revolve solely around your guy but you do want to be his number one priority. He has a right to go out with the guys and you have a right to go out with the girls but you should always be put first. A real man will put a woman first, make her feel special and like she is a gift, one to not take advantage of. 4. He should add to you, not take away from you. A guy should add to your beauty, never take it away or steal the spotlight. He should support you and your values; add to you versus just balance you out.

5. Know exactly what you are looking for. Know what you want. What is important to you morally, spiritually, etc. Make a list! Yes, I said it, make a list. What are the important things you want and deserve and what are some things you might compromise on, such as does he really have to look like George Clooney or Brad Pitt? There are some things you need to be honest about

are not compromises and some things that can be … make sure your priorities are in the right places.

Now ladies, these pearls are not anything new. Maybe I wrote them a little differently than you read them before or heard them but they aren’t new and we act like they are every time we hear them. There is something in us that hears them, thinks “Wow, this is awesome,” and then we go back to our lives and forget we ever heard this advice.

I can’t force you, my girlfriends, or even me to remember and live by this advice every day but if there is one piece of advice I would “force” upon you it would be to keep you guys close buy your girlfriends closer. You girlfriends hold the true meaning in your life, not your guys; and I have to say I am one lucky girl because I have some great girlfriends both here in Atlanta and back home. I am truly blessed and know no matter who I date, they MUST date my girls too because I will never be far from them. As Mrs. R says, “Keep your girlfriends close, no one else will support you the way they do. Holla!” Until next time be safe and have fun!

~ xoxoxo KC

Kristina Chapell is a single gal in her 30s making her way in the world. Passionate, savvy, and stylish; Kristina is a social relationship builder. You can often find her on Facebook and Twitter keeping up with the latest news and always supporting causes she is passionate about such as the Alzheimer’s Association, Link to Libraries, and The Business Channel.



Making Cents

Negotiation: Are You Getting What You’re Worth? By Angela Lussier

While going out for what was described as an “emergency cocktail” with my friend Becca, I learned that she was courting a huge client and was probably going to land the gig. In realizing that she would be taking on said client, she felt the weight of no less than 100 boulders sitting on her chest and a tiny gymnast doing constant back flips in her stomach. The reason? With a big project comes the inevitable, dreaded negotiation. What if they don’t offer me what I want? What if they tell me the amount they can pay me is not negotiable? What if they tell me I have to decide whether or not I want the job on the spot? How do I tell them I’m worth more? Since negotiation is right up there with telling your best friend her husband is cheating on her, I will help take some of the pain away by helping you make negotiation easier.

First off, I have many theories as to why negotiating is so tough. The one I keep going back to is the idea that negotiation goes against everything our mothers, and society, have taught us about being good, nice, and agreeable females. Why? Because negotiation is anything but being good, nice, and agreeable. In fact, it’s the complete oppo-

site. Have you ever seen someone like Donald Trump take what was given to him because he wanted to be nice? I don’t think so! He has a strategy. He has an end goal. He goes in knowing what he wants and doesn’t leave without it. Most importantly, he doesn’t make it personal. It’s a business deal.

Were you ever offered a job and told the salary was below what you were worth, but you took it anyway? What about taking on new clients? Ever gone into a client meeting with an idea of what you wanted to be paid, and walked out the door allowing yourself to take half of what you’re worth because it was a good opportunity/you didn’t want to say no/it could always lead to more? Ladies! We need to stop allowing others to dictate our worth by allowing them to get away with what they think we need. Our energy, talent, and gifts are valuable and we need to stop accepting less!

In order to gain more insight on this subject, I interviewed Ji Eun Lee, a negotiation coach in New York City who works with self-starter women who want to build their bargaining power. Since I’m not a negotiation expert (yet!) I asked her why she thinks women don’t ask for what they are worth. She says, “For some of us, the desire to please customers – coupled with the insidious desire to have people like us without being threatened by our ambition – can make us squeamish about asking to be paid for our value.” Does that hit home with you? If so, here are four tips to start asking for what you are worth, in Lee’s words: 1. Listen to your customers. Eighty percent of a success-

of a successful negotiation is preparation 30


Making Cents ful negotiation is preparation. Just as you invested countless hours to research into your field before you developed your services or products, you’ll need to invest some time upfront to learn as much as possible about your customer. The best way to do this is to ask them open-ended, diagnostic questions: What are key metrics that determine the success of this project/assignment?

How can I help address your specific pain point or preferences? How long do you envision this project/assignment to take to complete and what is your budget?

Who has the final say in the budget and scope of this project/assignment? When can I speak to him/her? 2. Frame for high value based on credentials, experience, and expertise. When you make the pitch or offer your proposal, mention your education, industry-specific know-how, or glowing references. If you’ve worked with high profile customers or well-known entity, don’t be shy about mentioning them to raise your own profile. Be specific by mentioning concrete facts and figures:

I’ve successfully managed a $25 million project from ideation to completion within time and under budget. I’ve produced workshops for 100-plus industry insiders that resulted in eighty-six percent positive reviews.

3. Generously demonstrate your value. Resist the temptation to rush into work. Instead, generously demonstrate your know-how, expertise, and skills to your prospective client. This can take the form of a complimentary consultation, demo account, or a sampling of what

you can offer.

4. Run the numbers. How much should you charge per hour? Your hourly rate is a function of 1) billable hours, 2) sum of expenses and taxes and 3) profit. Based on the number of hours you expect to charge your customers, you can make an educated guess as to how much you realistically need to bring in to cover your living and business expenses and have enough remaining to save and invest back into your business. Let’s assume you have 2,000 working hours in a year and can bill half, or 1,000 hours out to customers (the other half you spend networking at industry events, writing emails to prospects, paying your bills, and doing other administrative tasks). Sum up all essential expenses such as rent, food, connectivity, computer, and legal expenses. To this figure, add your desired profit, or the amount you want to save for retirement, to cover future expenses, or to invest back into your business. Let’s say that this adds up to $50,000. $50,000 divided by 1,000 billable hours is $50/hour.

How does your hourly rate feel when you say it out loud? If it doesn’t feel ambitious enough, raise it by another 20 percent. Then practice saying the following out loud, at least three times: “My standard rate is $X per hour.”

Print this article and read it often if negotiation has been an area of pain for you. It doesn’t have to be hard when you are prepared to talk numbers and know what you want before you walk in the door. Happy negotiating!

Angela Lussier is the chief strategy officer and partner at the BrunoFox Group in West Springfield, Mass. She is an award-winning speaker, author, and business owner. Visit her website at



Stiletto Statement

Dream Catcher in Heels! By Aliyah Cherrisse

Happy New Year everyone! The Stiletto Statement received a makeover and I hope it’s one that you all will enjoy! I will bring to you a series of women who are taking the strides to turn their dreams into their reality. I decided to go this route in order to hopefully inspire our readers to chase their dreams and achieve some goals that may have been deferred. We are as powerful as we make ourselves to be, we can persevere through anything with faith and work, and we can Photographer: Kevin Richards accomplish anything we set our minds to however, some of us Make-Up: Brionna Jones of Bre's Beautiful Faces just need an extra push. You will Wardrobe: Color Of Teal Inc. hear from women of all walks of Model: Aliyah Cherrisse life who are becoming, “Dream Catchers In Their Heels!”

Kicking off this year we have the CEO of the organization known as “Color of Teal,” an organization that will forever be dear to my heart. In honor of January which is, Cervical Cancer Awareness month, I bring to you a snippet of my story with surviving this silent epidemic, and a woman behind starting her own nonprofit organization to raise awareness to a cancer that took a dear loved one from her. Read on to see what Genese Valentine, CEO of Color of Teal Inc., had to share!

Photographer: Kevin Richards Make-Up: Brionna Jones of Bre's Beautiful Faces Wardrobe: Color Of Teal Inc. Model: Aliyah Cherrisse

Q. Why would you consider yourself, “A Dream Catcher In Heels?”

A. I would consider myself A Dream Catcher in Heels because of my ambition, my determination, persistence, and perseverance. Although it’s OK to chase your dream, it’s more important to turn your dream into a reality.

Q. Please tell our readers, when and why “Color of Teal,” was birthed?



A. Established in 2011, Color of Teal was created after my mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2002. She suffered with abdominal pains for a very long time. Her gynecologist misdiagnosed her for having gas. After increased pains, my mother had a second opinion and her biopsy indicated that she had Stage IV ovarian cancer. Q. What is Color of Teal’s mission and who was it created around?

A. Color of Teal’s mission is to educate a woman on how to develop an open dialogue with her gynecologist, to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of gynecological cancers, and to advise her of various methods of treatment and available care. Q. Since the beginning of Color of Teal, what were your main goals for the organization as a whole?

A. We created the platform to really educate women on their bodies, and to pay attention to signs and symptoms. I always say, “If you have a headache for more than a week, it’s important to seek medical attention. It is the same as having abdominal cramps, back aches or bloating. It’s equally important.” Until you are made aware you cannot fully educate yourself. Q. Can you tell us how Color of Teal has impacted the lives of women and even men, if any?

A. A lot of women did not realize how important their reproductive system really was. We have had an increase of women asking their gynecologist questions they usually wouldn’t, we have women paying more attention to their bodies, and men are now educated as to how it impacts the lives of their daughters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. You’d be surprised as to the amount of male supporters we have!

Q. What are some of the accomplishments that you have seen Color of Teal achieve and

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Stiletto Statement what would you like to see in the future for Color of Teal Inc.?

A. Aside from solely raising awareness for gynecologic cancer, Color of Teal has the Teal Care Co-Payment Program for Women that address the needs of women who cannot afford their insurance co-payments to assist them in covering the costs of physician appointments, paying for medication, and/or advance treatment for gynecologic cancers. We are the ONLY organization in the U.S. that provides co-pay assistance for all of the gynecologic cancers. Eventually, we would love to open our own clinic. Q. What are some of the hardships you faced as a nonprofit organization? Especially with one that could be so vital to one’s life, with the knowledge and services the organization can provide. A. Raising support has its challenges. Many people support organizations geared towards breast cancer, because they aren’t aware of other women cancer organizations. We have to be very

aggressive with raising support and awareness. Thankfully, Color of Teal is making a name for itself and more people are recognizing us for the importance of raising awareness for gynecologic cancer.

Q. If you could say something to someone who is uneducated on the massive case growth of cervical cancer and other gynecologic cancers, what would it be?

A. I would explain the core symptoms of what it could be. Since I am not a physician, I would recommend that you would get tested. Get a second opinion. Get a third opinion, but continue to be aggressive with follow up and treatment. Ask your physician plenty of questions and continue to educate yourself. Q. Fashion wise, if you could collaborate with anyone in the fashion rim of entertainment, to help raise awareness for cervical or any other gynecologic cancer, who would it be and why?

A. If given t h e

opportunity, we would love to collaborate with Victoria Secret. They have a huge platform created just for women (and the male admirers), and it would make a great impact for those women to learn about Color of Teal and the services we provide.

Q. Where do you see Color of Teal, in the next five years?

A. It would be humbling to have Color of Teal recognized on a national level. However, it is more important for us to have a greater influence in changing the lives of women surrounding gynecologic cancer. We would like to continue creating more partnerships and alliances in the next few years. In 2014, we have a few exciting announcements to make. Be sure to follow Color of Teal to find out more important information about what we are about to do and our upcoming events. ***

Color Of Teal caught up with me so that I could share my testimony in surviving cervical cancer at a very young age. See what I shared with the organization, for if it wasn’t for them, I may have still been in silence. The following are my answers, something I like to call, Aliyah Cherrisse, The Dream Catcher and Survivor. Q. Which of the gynecologic issues did you face? A. I survived Cervical Cancer, which is cancer of the woman’s cervix, which I developed from what is known as HPV (Human PapillomaVirus).

Q. How did you find out? How were you diagnosed?

A. During my very first OB/GYN visit at age 17 during my senior year of high school, I was told that the pap test that I was given came back with abnormal results. My OB/GYN informed me that I had what was known as HPV

Continued on next page Photographer: Kevin Richards Make-Up: Brionna Jones of Bre's Beautiful Faces Wardrobe: Color Of Teal Inc. Model: Aliyah Cherrisse



Stiletto Statement and I have the cancerous strand of it. At the time I had never heard of HPV so I had no idea what she was talking about. Typically in school we only learn about certain types of STD’s (HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Herpes). HPV was never bought up in health class! So, with that in mind, I started to do some research because when my OB/GYN started explaining the facts and some possible long term issues I thought, maybe she was just trying to scare me straight from doing what I had no business doing in the first place which got me to this point, but no, that was not the case. The facts were real and there was the possibility of me never Photographer: Kevin Richards baring children, there was a Make-Up: Brionna Jones of Bre's Beautiful Faces possibility of undergoing differWardrobe: Color Of Teal Inc. ent surgeries, and there was the Model: Color Of Teal CEO possibility of never just having that normality of a woman. But all I can say is, “thank god for early detection!” Q. How has it impacted your life? Did you receive support from your family?

A. Well it’s been 10 years since the diagnoses but about seven years since being completely done with any and all treatments or vaginal procedures. It was very rough for me. I didn’t like to talk about it because people are very harsh, judgmental, and what they don’t understand they consider weird. What I was dealing with was something so unfamiliar to many that I kept it to myself because I had already shamed myself and did not need nor did I want the slander from others. Those OB/GYN visits were brutal; I dreaded going and leaving. My family was unaware, except for my mother; she was there when I got the news, but I began going back for my follow-ups on my own and kept quiet about what I was dealing with for my own personal reasons. All-in-all, my time of treatment was very difficult; I felt very alone. You know how people always claim, that you could have talked to them; well I am a strong believer now that not everyone can handle other people’s reality. You have to be really careful who you invite to console you and during that sensitive time, I chose my safety-net to be my own self.

Q. What steps are you currently taking? Are you on any prescribed medication? How long did you have to take the medicine (if any)? Was it successful?

A. Currently I am fine. Since receiving the laser



surgery where my OB/GYN went in and performed removal of layers from my cervix, I was later told that nothing looks or was coming back abnormal and I was cleared of what I had been dealing with for almost three long years, I remained proactive on my doctor visits. We’re talking discharges, the smallest odor, just anything that does not seem regular for the vagina, I am in that office saying, “Doc, fix it please” and it’s sad because most of the time it’s nothing. I never had to take medication, I was placed on birth control to make sure my cycle stayed regular but that was it. The first big procedure she tried was the LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) and that was unsuccessful. With that particular procedure I was awake but numb although I still felt some of that procedure as she cut away at my cervix in the hopes of removing the cancerous cells that were on my cervix and the cramps that came after were no joke. Later came the laser surgery, because the cancer was not removed with LEEP but all was and still is well. Q. What keeps you going? What are the positives that you are able to get from this experience?

A. What keeps me going is my beautiful son that I later conceived after being told that I may not be able to bare children. My drive to succeed and be an advocate in people’s lives, keep me going. I strongly believe that I am supposed to inspire so I am very open to people because if my testimony can help you keep going through your storm through the grace of God, then here I am. I have graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. I have been pursuing my dreams and was recently signed to True Model Management of New York. I turned my dreams into reality through faith, work, and perseverance. I landed a huge client the same time I was signed to True thanks to “Plus Night Out 2013,” so I now model for Ashley Stewart! With life comes trials, but it’s how we come out, that makes us and I decided not to let Cervical Cancer make nor break me. I keep an optimistic attitude and block the negative out. Q. If you had the attention of the entire world, what would you want them to know?

A. I think I would just want them to know the importance of taking care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally and financially, will work its way in. We get so wrapped up on our finances that we ignore ourselves, we ignore the company we keep, and we ignore

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Stiletto Statement the most important things that matter to our survival. Protect yourself by any means necessary from everything and everyone who may try to bring you harm. The HPV virus does not just affect woman, men carry this virus as well. So get regular screenings, use condoms, abstinence is always still the best option, and conduct research on what’s out there because you are only as knowledgeable as you make yourself to be. Don’t have an ignorant mindset and think that you’re untouchable. I was just recently informed that they no longer even test young girls at age 17 anymore they start test-

ing at 21 now. Now think, if it takes about 2-3 years for that HPV to turn into cancer, that’s if your body does not rid the virus on its own, what happens at age 20? So, if they are not testing at age 17 or lower anymore with the sexual activity that goes on in our society nowa-days, what do you think your odds are by time you hit age 21 and you have been living with HPV the entire time? They have no way of determining how long you had it, so make your odds good for yourself; do your own research, get screened and get the vaccine.

Aliyah Cherrisse, born and raised in Atlantic City, N.J., has grown to be a very educated, vibrant, and driven intellectual. As a graduate of Morgan State University, with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Marketing, Aliyah has put her studies to use in branding herself as the “Multimedia Personality” she is to-date. Currently pursuing her love of entertainment, Aliyah is known for her titles of “Fashion Show Production Assistant, Radio/TV Personality, Curvy/Full-Figured Model, Red Carpet Correspondent, Host, and Blogger,” but let's not forget to mention: this is all while being a single mother! With no intentions on slowing down, Aliyah anticipates what God has awaiting ahead for her!

WRITER’S NOTE: “Don’t ever be afraid to help yourself, love yourself and build your confidence level up. We are our own worse critics, so take the time out, figure out what you don't like, and then take the steps to fix it. Don't be afraid, for God gave us the spirit of love, use that love on yourself first!” –Signing off, Aliyah Cherrisse.


sophistication weaves DeOndra JereĂŠ Collection By Katelyn Gendron

DeOndra Jereé

DeOndra Jereé has had a love affair with fashion ever since she was a little girl in Louisiana. It wasn’t until the age of 19, however, that she became fully committed to her relationship with handbag designs while attending the Handbag 101 Awards in New York City. Now 21, Jereé has branded her own line, the DeOndra Jereé Collection, and officially taken her “southern sophistication” to Manhattan. Her relationship with fashion, though, hasn’t been without its compromises and sacrifices, she noted. “At first it was hard for

people to take me seriously because I am so young but I’m educated and I know what I’m doing,” Jereé said with a thick southern drawl. “My style is very sophisticated. I like to be edgy, glamorous and fun and that’s what the fashion industry needs right now.” Her collection features a line of beige and burgundy-colored leather works, including a clutch, coin purse, shoulder bag, satchel, backpack and tote. The most difficult part of creating her line, Jereé said, is two-fold: firstly, finding the best leather possible, and secondly, locating a right manufacturer. “One of the hardest part is to source out the leather. I know what real leather smells like and I stretch it and pull it as hard as I can,” she explained of her methods. Jereé confessed that she’s mostly self-taught, having earned an associates degree in graphic design from the Delta College of Arts & Technology in Louisiana. She relies, she said, on natural talent but is always eager to learn more about her industry, which is why she has completed continuing education courses online through the Academy of Art University in California. When asked where she finds inspiration, Jereé replied, “Most of the time I research a lot and I sit down and start drawing and I design pieces that I would wear as well. I like the shoulder bags because it’s a medium size bag that can be transformed from day to night.” She said the only way to become widely successful is to “know your brand, network and make connections,” and to go where the action is, in her case, New York City. “I moved from Louisiana and that was a huge step for me. I felt that I was grown up and it was time to go. Louisiana, it wasn’t very fashionable out there and New York City is the fashion capital of the world,” she added. Jereé was quick to note the most important aspect of her business motto is to “be true to yourself and put God first. Surround yourself with great mentors and great people in general.” Her mentors and benefactors, she said are the members of her family, particularly her father and brother, Dwayne Morris and Darian Morris. When asked about her hopes for the future of her business, she replied that she’s looking to expand her brand into shoes, gowns and perfume. As for the immediate future, Jereé said she’s committed to maintaining the quality and excellence of the DeOndra Jereé Collection.



Lioness Magazine - January 2014  

For the Female Entrepreneur

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