Anesha: If you have a desire to start a business (whatever that may be), go and do it! Don't let anyone hold you back, not even yourself. Sometimes people don't believe in your entrepreneurial journey because it's too scary for them to understand, and that's okay — it's not meant for them to. Sometimes the journey will even scare you, but you have to keep going. You need to wake up everyday (even the days that you don't want to) and pursue your dream wholeheartedly. You don't have to make announcements; put in the work, and then show it. Let your work speak for you, and watch how evangelists of your brand follow suit. After you show it, go to the next thing. I always say that the current project or booking you're working on is what's booking you for the next thing, so always be on point, stay focused, and enjoy the journey.Read More
I have always wanted to get myself involved in things that not only affect me, but others—whether it's sexual orientation, gender, race, or for some of my friends, it's religion. But I had a hard time finding my voice. As a bi Afro-Latina woman and first generation American in my family on my mother's side, I've seen and heard and felt a lot of things. I went with my friend Lisa to one of the protests in Philadelphia during the travel ban. There was a family being held at the airport. Lisa was a child refugee, so this was important to her. Some of my family has since been worried that they could possibly be sent back, so this was important to me, too. That was a real frightening moment just because it was my first protest and ended up being a sit-in. It was overwhelming, and I just didn't know what would happen next. Thankfully, it ended without any injuries or problems. But the support I received from my friends and family for involving myself in something felt great. I felt great. I've found my voice since then and have been learning about other ways to get involved. A big thing that I've noticed a lot is this problem with some makeup artists or photographers not having enough diversity in their portfolios, or they culturally appropriate. I'm working on a photo project that shows you CAN have models of different backgrounds, you just have to be willing to find them. I'm hoping to follow suit with some of the photographers I've gotten to know recently that are working on some amazingly inclusive projects. I'm glad to be inspired by such wonderful and strong individuals.Read More
Liz: Can you tell us a bit about your background? What was growing up like for you?
Chanda: I grew up being raised by my grandmother, "Granny," who had the house where all the kids went to get a hot meal! She was always cooking and entertaining. She was always at home, her number was everyone's "emergency" number, and she influenced me to graduate from high school. But little did she know, she was planting the seed for me to become an event planner…
Liz: Your grandma sounds wonderful. How was she planting the seed?
Chanda: I wanted to be like her. She found joy in making dinner and setting a fancy table with Sunday china and having everyone over. She didn't like being in the spotlight, but she loved how everyone felt after they left...I didn't know that then, but that's what I loved and love to this day!Read More
Kanayo: My fiancée, now wife, bought me a camera for Christmas. So she tends to buy me enabling gifts when she notices a new interest I may have. I think I have an extreme personality, so say you give me 10-pound weights, I may end up a body builder, or you buy me a bike, I may start biking 20 miles a day. All of this happened by the way. So she gave me a camera, and it ended up as a photography business.Read More
Liz: So what does your business look like today, nine years later?
Liz: That's great to hear. And reassuring to all of us who are younger in our businesses.
Amy: I've had opportunities that I never would have imagined nine years ago. I moved here with 2K in my bank account with a hope and a dream. I had no apartment; I slept on my aunt's couch for months, but slowly I've made a way. Nine years later, I live in a brownstone and make enough money to support myself, my family, and then some... So that makes me proud of myself.Read More
I was definitely sipping the Kool-Aid growing up, thinking somehow I was an exception to the rule. That changed a few years ago after a horrible experience with some police officers. It was the October before the Mike Brown shooting. I thought a middle class upbringing, pearls, and dresses were going to save me. But I learned that to some people, all I ever will be is black and a problem. I hated it. I hated the microaggressions I denied were problems. It was really an unlearning of a bunch of different things. It was being honest about how I felt as a black woman in a world that hates black women. It grew into advocating for everyone else who gets sidelined into the margins. I learned to listen and I learned to speak up and out.Read More
Tomayia Colvin, a portrait photographer and educator in Houston, is a well-known leader and activist in our community. She is a children's book author, a doctoral student in the field of educational leadership, and she works with conferences to connect them with talented and diverse speakers and educators.Read More
Liz: I love that. When you speak of challenging clients, are you challenging them in specifically creative/design ways? Or are you willing to challenge client's assumptions around race, gender, sexuality, etc.?
Ashley: Yes. I'm constantly fighting the fight to change people's perspectives about people and how we approach them. Talk to them. Have a conversation with them. I speak of "target markets" in regards to connection points. They can be purple, gay, short, whatever...if a person connects to your message, it's because it's been crafted in authenticity, and their micro-qualities don't dictate generality. And the message part is indifferent...truly it's about authentic connections, no matter the person's make-up.Read More
Liz: Is there anything else you would like to share with folks reading who are also working to find their own place and their own identity?
Bri: I would say to others that it starts with stepping out of the denial. Don’t deny how you feel or think because it is beautiful, and it is you. Once you stop denying you can start loving, and that extends to yourself.Read More