Category Archives: Feature

8 in 2018

We are midway into year 3 as Nouveau Exposure Magazine and we have seen so many people making moves that sometimes it is impossible to feature them all. So this month we decided to bring you our 8 in 2018 list. Here is a list of individuals or groups you should be following and/or supporting whether by social media or their business. Let the countdown begin!!!

 

[source: instagram]
#8 Darlyshia Menzie 

For those of you who are faithful Nouveau followers, you may recall Darlyshia wrote a few inspirational pieces some time ago. Well, she has taken her gift of encouragement to another platform and in 2017 released her first book, At the End of Me: A Journey of Identity and Self-esteem. She has been seen at various events and conferences sharing as God graces her to do so. If you want to hear the transparent and encouraging words from this young woman of God do yourself a favor and follow her on social media (@theferventservant) or check out her website www.ferventservant.life

 

#7 Simone Yael #6 Olamide Giwa

[source: instagram]
[source: instagram]
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simone and Olamide are besties who have known each other since their college days at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. While they live hundreds of miles from each other now, their journeys happen to be on the rise at the same time. Talk about soul sisters! Simone is located in the area of St. Louis, MO and has embarked on the world of fashion. She is the founder and executive director of Creator. the brand as well as a designer/stylist. Keep an eye out for her work. While you’re keeping an eye our for Simone…be sure to catch her bestie, Olamide, as well. She ventured to the west coast world of Los Angeles, CA nearly several years ago and this talented woman is a dancer, hair stylist and model. She was recently blessed with the opportunity to serve as a hairstylist to Solange.  Solange displayed her braids in a 2017 issue of the Evening Standard Magazine. Who know what 2018 holds for these two gal pals?! Follow them both on social media (@heysimoneyael and @_lamilam_ ).

 

 

[source: leaharmwood.com]
#5 Leah Armwood

Leah Armwood is a Chicago native who has survived a life of abuse since her childhood and broken relationship after broken relationship as a young woman. She was gifted to express herself through poetry and song writing between the ages of 7 and 9. That gift has brought her to her present where she has endeavored on a journey to have a career in the gospel music industry. But it doesn’t stop there. She will be releasing her book this year titled “The Weight Is Over.” A testimony like Leah’s is one that should be read far and wide. Be sure to keep up with her via her website, www.leaharmwood.com

 

[source: instagram]
#4 Ti Nicole Danridge

Ti Nicole Danridge is another Chicago native. Go ChiTown! She has always shown a passion for theater and drama. She has been seen in countless performances and in the Midwest entertainment city of Chicago she was cast on an episode of Chicago P.D. playing Kayla in 2016 and in 2017 she acted, wrote, directed and produced a short film, Plow. In February this short film will be viewed at the Indie Night Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA. Follow her on social media (@blacktress_mommy) to keep up with all the excitement for her latest project and what else is in store for this woman on the move!

 

 

[source: facebook]
#3 Cameo Profit & 1 Way

Cameo Profit has an AMAZING testimony of overcoming a whirlwind of self-destruction, the abandonment of “friends” and finding God’s grace as he moved forward for a fresh start. God’s hand never left him through all that he has endured and his testimony rings through the lyrics of his music performed by the group he leads, One Way. They have one project under their belt and will be releasing their new project this year titled Resurrected. Revived. Reloaded. Do yourself a favor and follow this group. Their first project, Speak to Your Day was wonderful and we eagerly anticipate their return. 

 

 

[source: facebook]
#2 LXW Chicago

We have featured LXW Chicago in the past but this group has moved on to do so much more since our last mention of them, we thought it was only fair to suggest you follow them in 2018 so you won’t miss anything! This youthful and anointed group of singers is spreading the love and welcoming dancers to join their ministry. They have been hosting a weekly radio show and it is broadcast through their Facebook account as well for a live feed where you can interact with the hosts and their guest. Catch the train while you can because they are going places!

 

#1 Theresa Mosley

[source: facebook]

Theresa Mosley has been awarded our number one spot! Why? She owns the first black owned cosmetology school in Grand Rapids, MI (Mosley School of Cosmetology) because of God and she doesn’t hesitate to share her testimony with anyone. She wants the world to know how much God has blessed her and she is fully aware that without God ordaining every step and every choice she would not be where she is today. Theresa has gone from searching for a way to make a living and attending undergrad to using her gift of doing hair to make extra money on the side. Little did she know, God had a plan. She eventually became licensed to be a hair stylist, made thousands upon thousands before age 30 only for life circumstances to cause all of that financial gain to go away.  She didn’t let that stop her. She kept the faith and believed God for his promises to her. Theresa eventually obtained a degree in business and became credentialed to teach cosmetology classes. While she held a dream of opening her own school she did not have experience teaching. While volunteering at her church putting her business degree skills in action she was offered a position at a school in Grand Rapids where she would gain experience teaching and learn the ropes from the owner of the school. God had different plans. At the same time she was offered a position from her church by her pastor. After praying she accepted the position at the church. We are sure you have heard the saying delay is not denial, and Theresa learned it’s not denial at all. God began to move her towards her current blessing of not only opening her own school, but being able to purchase the school she was once offered employment. Talk about God ordained!!! 

Terence Lester: Going Beyond the Walls

Terence Lester
[source: Facebook]
“I would tell anybody, to this day there are a lot of people doing philanthropic work. Is your heart in it? Can you do it when nobody is there? Can you do it when nobody shows up? Can you do it when you are only affecting one?” These are the things that drive Terence Lester to go on for his organization Love Beyond Walls day after day. His desire is to make sure that he is leaving a legacy that not only his children, but others will follow. He has witnessed people waste their lives being distracted by bad relationships, failed obstacles and other challenges. Terence is determined not to allow anything to distract him from striving on a daily basis to do all that he can to contribute to humanity.

In 2013 Terence Lester accepted the challenge to sleep on the streets and experience life like the homeless in his city during the Christmas holiday season. He took to social media sharing a gofundme campaign to raise money to launch his now flourishing organization, Love Beyond Walls. Love Beyond Walls is a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, GA and it was founded by Terence to be an aid to those who have ended up on the streets for reasons anywhere from job loss to runaways.

So exactly how does Love Beyond Walls operate? Well, some years ago, Terence met with mentors and he learned that every organization or company focuses on data. He wanted to do something where his measures of data were not focused on the number of volunteers or donations but his success was about reaching one person and making a difference in their life. Every life is important. While speaking Terence referenced the scripture Matthew 18:12 when Jesus mentions a shepherd who will leave 99 sheep to search for one. That is Terence’s focus today, reach one, and he believes that if his measure marks were not different from other organizations he would have quit a long time ago.

#HireMark [source: Instagram]
This was recently proven through a campaign that was led by Terence and Love Beyond Walls using the hashtag #HireMark. Love Beyond Walls has helped a ton of people over the years. Mark’s story was that he was adopted as a child, ended up in corporate America and became homeless. Terence promised Mark that if he went the distance that he would do the same in return to get him employed. Terence wanted to show Mark the power of collective support and how many people would be able to identify with Mark’s story. Mark was involved with volunteering with Love Beyond Walls and in turn they kept Terence’s promise. They helped Mark gather all of his identification documents, connect with family, and moved forward with the campaign. It was launched using the hashtag and Terence stood with Mark wearing a sign with the words “Hire Mark” painted on giant boards hanging over his shoulders. Mark was recently hired back into corporate America, moved into a housing space and open a bank account in less than a month from the campaign launching thanks to social media and word of mouth. This was a successful outreach for one but it affected thousands. That’s the magic of Love Beyond Walls.

Love Beyond Walls
Map18
[source: Love Beyond Walls Website]
Love Beyond Walls is gearing up for it’s next campaign known as MAP18 (March Against Poverty 2018). You may recall seeing Terence in the media during MAP16 when he walked from Atlanta to our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. This year Terence will begin walking on March 3rd from the Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. Terence should arrive in Memphis by April 4th. The day he is set to arrive will be the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.  The focus this year is to bring attention to poverty and racial division in honor of Dr. King and two of the triple evils that Dr. King marched for during his life. This is a way to bring people together in a non-violent way. They have the endorsement of the NAACP as well as the SCLC. Terence believes this march will be one of the most historic campaigns that Love Beyond Walls has participated in.  The campaign will be turned into a documentary film on racial reconciliation. “It will be creating the moral courage that we need,” said Terence. He believes this is something that america desperately needs. If you would like to learn more about MAP18 or Love Beyond Walls and how you can help visit their social media (@lovebeyondwalls) and website.

 

New Duo One Reason

Name a male gospel duo that has hit the scene since Dawkins and Dawkins. I’ll wait. (insert crickets) That’s right, you probably can’t name any. Well, now you can add One Reason to your list.

 

Lamarr Lyons and DJon Johnson have had a whirlwind of a year in 2017 and they aren’t letting go of that momentum. Together they have close to 20 years experience in the gospel music industry. Lamarr began singing background at the age of seven from choirs to gospel and country artists as well as arranging music. DJon connected to the music industry at the age of 16. He gained experience doing background vocals and assisting with production.

 

Lamarr and DJon began working together in 2016 singing background as well as writing, arranging and producing. Earlier this year they found themselves working on a song for an artist and God began to deal with them both about embarking on a new journey and recording the song themselves. How many of you know when God gives a call, you should be obedient and answer with yes?! Lamarr and DJon gave God a yes! They purposed to keep it real with their lyrics, break boundaries with their sound and produce music that will change your life as well as please the ear. They agreed to record the song, and just this past summer they released their debut single, “You Are.” This song has not only played in the United States, but has streamed internationally in countries such as the United Kingdom and Nigeria.

 

It has not been a fairytale full of rainbows and sunshine. They definitely went back and forth on going forward with moving together as One Reason versus continuing alone on the paths they were already on. Eventually they did make the choice to work together. The connection between the two of them and the balance that each one brings to the other from a creativity to personality is what makes everything come together so well. Have they had challenges? Yes. Has it been easy? No. Do they work through those moments? Of course! They both learned something from this new endeavor. DJon’s advice to others, “Don’t ever second guess what God is trying to tell you to do.” He believes that God doesn’t intend for you to be defeated. God’s direction is a set up for something greater. “What you think you aren’t qualified for, is what God can give you the tools to accomplish,” said Lamarr.

 

They haven’t dropped the ball. They have been very busy. Check out their crazy and comedic moments on their YouTube show OneReasonTV. They share from their adventures in L.A., performance appearances and more. Keep an ear our for their mixtape, “Loyalty”, set to release just before the holiday.

 

Nouveau Exclusive with Married at First Sight’s Sheila Duhon

Love Through the Eyes of God

by: Anise Marshall

 

The drowning sound of a beating drum grows faster, now louder. You clench the neck of your pajama shirt to discover the unrelenting pounding was the sound of your heart. The struggle to saturate your waterless mouth prompts you to reach for the night stand, only to find a phone that won’t stop ringing. Sit up, close your eyes once more, and use the cusp of your wrist, to clear the gooey mascara and lashes from your eye lids. You stretch your hands through the air, place them on the ball of your frigid, yet saturated cheeks and slide them to the back of your neck. Breath in. Then out. My mornings won’t always be like this, you think. It is 4:30am. Time to go to war.

 

Sheila Duhon has fought so many battles in her life and discovered, not too long ago, that a prayer room has been her gift from God. We’ve all had those morning where it has been difficult to wake up because of an overwhelming anxiety about something hard, something exciting, a bad feeling, a desire to change your relationship with Christ or even divorce. She has had to dabble in a bit of all these emotions for the past few years and it has truly transformed her relationship with God.

 

 

Sheila, as you are aware of, decided to trust God and “Get Married at First Sight.” Married at First Sight’s intent, was to create compatible couples based on scientific matchmaking with a team of specialists. The team, that they describe as experts, consists of a sociologist, relationship and communication expert and a marriage counselor, who happens to be a pastor. Not only do the couples meet for the first time at the altar, the struggle for their marriage is recorded to document their own unique journeys. They have several weeks, that are constantly being documented, to decide if the marriage will work or if they will separate. This seems to capture a unique struggle and success along the way as each couple goes through their own personal journey. Trusting God, for most of us, does not always imply that things will go the way you thought. Isaiah 55:8-9 in New International Version (NIV) says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Her hope was that this would be the beginning of something great. She truly thought this would be “it,” because marriage was always what she desired and she prayed for. Sheila described it as a covenant that weighed heavily on her heart.

 

In a world that loves, lives and thrives on negativity, it can be very challenging and intimidating to be the lighthouse God intends for us to be. Sheila took on that duty when she said, “I DO.” From the very beginning of the show, she made it known that her faith in God was what she wanted to be the base of her marriage. She uses her platform to share the gospel of the Lord. Sheila’s marriage did not take the turn she hoped for, but we will get to that later in her story.

Something Hard

Sheila’s worst fears, throughout her life, was not living to her full potential and prior to the ending of her marriage it was not being the wife that God wants her to be. Do you know that God will test your fears even when they are the desires of your heart? According to the Bible, James 1:2-4, says:Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Sheila’s Thoughts

“Marriage exposes you. It is a journey where you have to decide to roll up your sleeves, even when you’re not excited about it. Every day is not happy. You have to enter a marriage with a wholeness from the beginning so that you are not expecting someone else to feel a void. Getting married, the way we did, presents so many struggles already, so being added in the public eye makes it even more difficult. We had to face something most couples don’t have to experience in the beginning, and that’s being in the public eye. We both, I think, underestimated the spiritual attack against our marriage. We would, most times, default to prayer. Some weeks ago, I created a war room (This is a room dedicated to awakening your inner prayer warrior). I created it because I wanted to have intentional prayer with God and sacrifice my time to show God how serious I was. I needed this to fight for my marriage and for me. It was about figuring things out—because we were in different places in our lives, we were dealing with different issues. We brought in expectations, previous hurt and different insecurities. I knew that if I wanted to be who God called me to be, I needed to address my relationship with God.“

Something Exciting

Sheila woke up, much like what we described at the beginning of the article. This was a new and exciting part of her journey. She was getting married to someone she had never met. Sheila was raised in the church and describes the beginning of her life as being a “pew baby.” Her thoughts of marriage were a covenant that she held close to her heart. She prayed for her husband before the show and even had experiences in the church that led her to believe that being married would be a good thing. She recalls a time before her wedding where she had been prophesied over. “God says your relationship will be the real thing. He will bless you,” she recalls the prophet saying to her. She stood in her wedding gown, ready to marry a stranger and felt at ease and at peace with it because she knew that it was what God had gifted her. She was not sure of the way her marriage would unfold but constantly told herself, “Lord I trust you!” This is the very “anthem” that has gotten Sheila through the good, the bad and the ugly. “I was beyond hopeful. My whole thing was that I felt at ease. I was nervous when I got married because I knew that with prophesy, it also comes to warn. I decided, though, it is well with my soul.”  She described her wedding as the most beautiful, authentic and sincere thing that she had ever been a part of.   

A Bad Feeling

4:30am. This was the time Sheila set aside for her prayer. She was committed to this. Her marriage had become so difficult to handle. Yes, she relied heavily on prayer, but she could not sleep. While Sheila was taping for the show, she had a scene where she called her husband out of his name. She called him, in less disparaging terms, a female Dog. It was a moment of weakness and, as Sheila would describe, “walking in my flesh.” She hated that she had publicly disrespected him and says she will forever regret that moment. “You can’t undo but you can choose to not repeat.” (This was something that she would have to revisit and decide on days later.) “The bad and ugly are me. The good, that’s GOD! Even with the show, it showed that God is who He says regardless of our shortcomings. When you truly surrender, God can do things we can’t.” She still recalled the prophecy that she was truly starting to think was a warning. “I think God paired our souls. It was bigger than us. It helped us to be the people God called us to be. We will persevere no matter what. I have to keep going and praying because I meant forever on that altar.”

A Desire to Strengthen in the Lord

Psalm 9:9-10 says “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 34:10 “Even the strong young lion sometimes goes hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:17 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.” These are a few scriptures I could see being along the corners of Sheila’s prayer room. “God, I want to live the life You have for me.” Sheila uses every platform she has had access to to share the Love of God. “Anything I post, is not only meant to encourage others, it first encourages me. This is why I share my struggles and my joy with everyone, so they know that it is authentically me.” Sheila expressed her desire to be close to God no matter what path that has for her life. She has adopted the mantra, “It is well with my soul.” She says it is this saying that helps her draw closer to the presence of the Lord.     

 

THE DIVORCE

“Sometimes the fouls in life, all of the wrongs that have been done to you in your relationships, if you just trust, the vision will come back and lead you directly in your purpose.” Sheila looked back over her marriage with her husband and decided that bitterness was not a characteristic she wanted to radiate. “Hurt people, hurt people.” She decided that she no longer wanted to make the same mistakes she made in the past. She admits, though, when she found out about her husband’s infidelity and unwillingness to salvage the marriage she wanted to discredit him.  She knew that belittling him, from past experiences, wasn’t the answer. She would never diminish him again. Instead, she decided that she would just publicly end their marriage. When looking back on who she became in the marriage, she described a woman who sounded broken but healed. “I must say, I was extremely guarded and I would retreat and throw up walls with anger. I made a decision that I would not love him based on how he made me feel. I would love him through his flaws regardless of the situation. The events happened. I loved him and still do. I refuse to say bad things even if he no longer wants the marriage. My great grandmother told me that ‘love is an action word, even through divorce.’ I legit got married for forever. I have been fighting since the alter and honeymoon. I have made mistakes of saying things in the past, but it was my husband that broke those vows. I love me and I am excited about my future. I am who God says I am and I am ready to walk into the calling on my life. It’s time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

 

When asked what advice she would give to women battling with infidelity in their marriage, Sheila had this to say: “ I think it is important to fight for marriages. Divorce is not the remedy for everyone in every situation. If you have two people who are willing, you can come back from infidelity, but it takes two to bring it together. I don’t doubt that God will allow you to come back from situations. Everyone’s story is different. I don’t look at my failed marriage as failing God. We are supposed to experience things. Free will sometimes voids out our desires. Marriage is still worth fighting for. I think my husband is a good person and has great potential, but we were in vastly different places. My husband was younger than me. People make mistakes. My husband just should have made better choices. One mistake does not paint the portrait of a person’s whole picture. Our marriage…our story, was raw from the very beginning. Although it is not ideal, it is still a story that people can learn from. Even if you are hurting, build your husband up and take it to him. Don’t be guarded. I am not in a place of bitterness I am holding on to my hope. I am not living in the ‘what if’s’ and owning my moment…hoping tomorrow will be better than yesterday.”

 

When asked about continuing her relationship with her husband’s brother, Tyrique, Sheila only said that she would respect the boundaries set by him and that he would always be a brother to her. Sheila feels that learning about the infidelities in the marriage made her stronger for the next chapter in her life. “This marriage exposed my weaknesses and fears, previous hurt and forced me to deal with it and dig deep. I am in counseling and I think it’s helping me to be the best person I can be. I’ve done this through my brokenness. You don’t know how strong you are until it’s your only option. I know that I am worth it. I won’t let anyone dictate my value. I am still the daughter of a king adjusting my crown. The Bible says that people without a vision will perish. We depend on things to help fulfill our vision. Sometimes God will strip you of the thing you thought your vision was intertwined in. God showed me that this is well with my soul. My vision is not what I said, but is on God. I am yielding to the will of God. I am finding comfort in GOD. “ When asked if any of the “experts” reached out to her when she publicly ended her marriage, Sheila informed me that Rachel, the relationship and communication expert, was the only one who did.

Hopes for the Future

“I am excited for my future. Although there is a new sadness there and it will be an adjustment, there are still so many things that I have to look forward to. I’m excited for my book, career and looking forward to meeting the love of my life. God does not make mistakes. I want to travel and have children. I still will NEVER denounce the name of God. just like Job who had been through so much, I still choose to believe that God has a purpose for my life. I have started a blog and it’s amazing! I am also writing a book that I started when I was 18. I am really excited to finish writing and publish within a year. It’s about a girl who grew up in the church and grows into a woman who is finding her place in this world. It is not an autobiography.”

 

Nouveau Exposure magazine is for women who are bold believers and bold achievers. When Sheila was asked about the things that make her a bold believer and achiever, she simply said: “I am bold in my faith because I realize all good things come from the Father and I can only achieve that with Him. It is easier to be bold in your faith when you haven’t been through anything. The standing of the test comes from trials. Regardless if people like me, and follow me on social media, my only request is to first follow God!” Sheila Duhon sends out so many encouraging posts via social media. Her most popular following is on Instagram at handle @happyfromwithin. She engages with most of her followers and is an inspiration to all that she meets! 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” I encourage you all to love despite circumstance and know that your steps are ordained by the most High!

Like A Boss

The phrase “like a boss” comes to mind when thinking about Delores Balogun. She is vivacious, innovative and chic. This serial entrepreneur is on fire and it’s just the beginning.

Delores is a professional event planner by trade. She studied event planning during her undergraduate career at Illinois State University. The beginning was a little on the rocky side. By her second semester she was failing her classes and placed on academic probation. She didn’t understand how she could go from having a 3.2 grade point average in high school to failing out of college before college really began. Her years of primary and secondary education had not properly prepare her for college. After a meeting with the president of the university, Delores was able to continue attending ISU. After completing her education at ISU she became an event planner for National PTA. It was her responsibility to plan the annual convention and other major events. One event in particular was a bit different than the others. The keynote speaker was former Flotus, Michelle Obama. Her staff took notice of how meticulous Delores was when it came to every detail for the event. So much so, that they inquired if she would be interested in joining an advanced team working the Mrs. Obama planning her events. Two weeks later Delores was working for Mrs. Obama!

Fast forward a bit to 2012 when Ellen Degeneres and Michelle Obama joined with JCPenney to help several hundred girls of military families get ready for prom. Delores was assigned the task of helping these individuals get everything they needed. While interacting with them she couldn’t help but think about how this was a rare experience for the participants. That, paired with her passion for working with girls, inspired her to take action and start iGlow Mentoring in her hometown, Chicago. Delores had planned her first event expecting maybe about 20-25 girls to register. Her expectations were exceeded. She had over 500 girls to attend. iGlow mentoring has taught Delores that there is a strong need for the presence of organizations for girls. Five years later the organization is still going and growing.

The organization recently expanded to a 1,100 square foot office in the downtown area. If you know about urban real estate, that’s a hot commodity. They are currently in the developing stages of Glow boxes as part of the for-profit arm which is a social enterprise to bring money back to iGlow mentoring. There are so many participants in the mentoring program, that they are no longer able to do one-on-one mentor to mentee relationships. They have adopted peer-to-peer mentoring and there is still a waiting list. There are different locations throughout the city of Chicago where the participants come together to meet every other Saturday. iGlow mentoring deals with social/ emotional health, bullying, self esteem, college preparation and exposes the girls to things that aren’t necessarily normal opportunities. The mentees have been exposed to the Joffrey Ballet and visited the McDonald’s headquarters in Illinois. They also have been fortunate enough to have interns. Just this summer, there were 25 paid interns. Delores shared on social media, in excitement,“I love that we hire high school and college girls to work for iGlow during the summer months. For some working with me will be their first job experience. After working for me, they can work for ANYONE!!! Sooo honored to be their leader!!”

You have learned that Delores is an event planner and founder of iGlow, but did you know she has Pumps and Power, which is an organization for faith based for entrepreneurs. The tagline is “Where women, the bible and spirituality meet.” This organization was birthed when Delores started interacting with women who were powerhouses but were beyond disconnected from the church and she believes that the church is the heartbeat of God. The Holy Spirit began to show her what to do about this. She thought it would be something small, as if she hadn’t learned her lesson with iGlow. It started with a couple of dozen women and grew from there. It went from a small group to an organization. They come together once a month and have strategy sessions to reconnect their faith to what they are doing in business. Delores brings in experts, who are believers and nonbelievers, to train them about increase, net worth and business strategies.

At this point you may be wondering what is her secret? Life, sometimes, is the best teacher. When Delores was working in her field as an event planner, she could feel God tugging at her to pull her into entrepreneurship. She wanted to do it, but thought she was still too young and maybe in her late 30’s or 40’s she would that jump. Well, here she was employed for a university in Chicago. She was a hard worker and over achiever who was fired…yes, FIRED. They gave her a nice package of several months salary, but for someone who thrived off of staying busy and completing tasks, she was hurting. “Sometimes when you love God so much and you’ve literally molded your entire life around pleasing, serving and loving God when things happen to you that feel unfair and unjust you feel like how did you let that happen to me,” said Delores.

She was looking for something to do. God was trying to show her that her wealth was inside of her but she wasn’t listening. Everything she applied for, she was either overqualified or asking too much for salary. iGlow was a well oiled machine and didn’t need her for any day to day operations. Everyday she would wake up quoting scriptures. God began imparting wisdom and doing character changes for the next level he was moving her to. Eventually, she found another job working for a mega ministry with multiple churches world-wide. She was running events and knew this was what God called her to do. She was getting people together for the kingdom. After seven months, they had to lay her off due to budget issues. While they couldn’t afford to keep her on salary, they offered her a position to stay on as a consultant. After toying around with the idea for a while, Delores declined. As she began to make moves as an entrepreneur, God began to bless her with a $20,000 contract here and an $80,000 contract there. Delores’ nature was to make plans and focus on the details. She really just wanted God to share the plan with her so they could work on it together. She quickly learned this was an area where she was going to have to learn to trust God and put on her blinders.

Things became clearer for Delores last year. In 2016 she stayed off of social media for six months. She zoned in with God and shut out the noise. She began attending therapy and spending time in devotion. She read books addressing things she struggled with such as rejection and abandonment. This was the turning point for her and the more she became focused on the purpose God had given her to inspire girls and women globally, she was able to say no to the things that were not relative. Delores has had some big no’s. She doesn’t share them all, but this year, she turned down an Executive Pastor position for a well known ministry in the United States as well as a major corporation who requested to meet with her to hire her as the Senior Vice President of event planning. Could life get anymore exciting? Delores put it best, when you are anointed, favor will chase you down. When Delores learned to turn things down, things began to change for the best.

Delores simply feels unstoppable. Her experiences have shaped her thinking to another level. She has employees, interns, clients,mentees and more who are looking to her. She believes the purpose God has given you, can protect you from what you can’t see and keep you from falling down a path that isn’t ordained for your life. People hit bumps in the road and choose if they will and will not recover. Delores knows that life is a fight. She wants people to know that because you love Jesus and he loves you doesn’t mean it won’t be a fight, but it’s a fixed fight.

 

Yasira Sonnier Moving Forward

What once was a title to be had in shame is now raised on a banner in hero status and that title is being a single mother. Yasira Sonnier knows all too well the tale of being a single mom. Her first marriage resulted in divorce and she found herself being a single mother of two young boys. She found herself being a college graduate without work experience because she was a stay at home wife and mother.

At the age of 28 her first job paid seven dollars per hour. To make budget for bills and other finances Yasira found a second job that paid eleven dollars per hour. Their father was active in their lives, but she was the primary caretaker and desperately wanted to be all things to her children. She struggled with not being enough for her children. The new responsibility of providing for her own home as well as her children was a curve ball of emotional distress. She wasn’t prepared.

Not knowing where to turn, she decided to run from the discomfort. She and her children moved around bouncing from Texas to New York and North Carolina. She moved around hoping each time things would get better and it would be a come up, but things only seemed to get worse. She didn’t have the assistance from a community of family or friends for her children and lost employment because of absences due to caring for her children. She recalls one instance when she and the boys were all ill with the flu and had to be hospitalized.

Eventually Yasira found herself moving back to Houston,Texas and slowly piecing her life back together. She was able to create a family through friends and began attending Lakewood Church with senior pastor Joel Osteen. “Joel and Victoria say give them a year of your life and they will change everything. I was able to commit to God and work hard,” said Yasira.

After some time she rejoined the dating scene but was careful not to bring anyone around her children and home if it were not serious. After some time she befriended a gentleman and as a year passed, their relationship blossomed. Yasira observed his actions and how he cared for her children. She felt that he cared for them as if they were his own. He even waited for her children to be comfortable with their relationship before asking to marry her. They have been married for two years now.

She experienced quite a few challenges trying to tackle life on her own and harnessing emotions within. Doing so only caused her to be withdrawn from the world. Once she began to let go and welcome others into her life, God was able to heal her heart from hurt and she was able to love again. She strives now to share her testimony with other women to encourage them during those rough moments that she knows all too well.

Yasira has done different workshops for women in her community to teach various topics, from the importance of having a spiritual relationship with God and self love to managing finances and sharing about single parenting. She helps them find resources for different services that they need and encourages them to continue to move forward with their lives as they experience the ups and downs of being a single mother. She is currently working on a how to book for single moms to share many of these tips from her workshops and will soon be leading a group for single mothers at her church.

Yasira’s advice to women who are in a difficult season of their lives and don’t see their way out is to pray and trust that God has a way of timing everything. You may never know the reason why but later God will reveal why he allowed things to work out the way that they did.

LaKeisha Bowling, Wounded to Wonderful

Domestic Violence…. Two words labeling actions that many of us have experienced or know of someone who has experienced it. BUT, WE DON’T DISCUSS IT! We talk about sex, drugs, divorce, dating, debt, politics, traveling and who knows what else. For some reason, abuse is a topic that too many churches leave untapped.

I was recently granted the opportunity to chat with a domestic violence survivor, LaKeisha Bowling, who has found the courage to share her testimony this year after holding back for over a decade.

-How Did We Get Here?-

LaKiesha was raised in a very small town in the state of Virginia. Just to let you know how small, she says it only had one stop light. She was brought up in a two-parent home until, her parents divorced when she was eight years old. Clearly not long enough to witness the ups and downs of a relationship and the love that bonds a couple together. As an adult, she mentally revisited that time in her life and realized that she felt abandoned. Her mom found other interest and her father was distant. She felt as though she was left in the cold. Well, you can imagine the next line… she was looking for “love” in all the wrong places.

LaKeisha was looking for love to be shown to her in some way from someone and because of the lack of foundation being taught and shown love through word and action, she accepted what was given to her. She didn’t know what a healthy relationship looked like and went from broken relationship to broken relationship. By the age of 18 was involved in a cycle of being in an abusive relationship with someone who physically abused her time after time.

-Destined Duo-

At the age of 22, during the second abusive relationship in her life, she was living in the state of Virginia. Needing childcare for her children she found the home day care of Pam Fisher. Little did she know, God had set a divine appointment.

The irony of LaKeisha and Pam meeting is that, just prior to her settling into a new life, Pam had been praying for God to open a door to sell her home, and purchase a larger residence for her home daycare. She had a realtor, but couldn’t find a house to her liking. After some time, God answered and told her to run her business in home as she already had. Her instructions were to extend into her garage. Pam followed the leading of God. Little did they both know; their lives would change after meeting each other.

LaKeisha recalls being frail at this time. She was a mother of two now. She would come to the daycare wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants in summer weather and would keep her sunglasses on inside to cover up bruises. She remembers moving slowly at times because she would be sore from an abusive episode from the night before.

She doesn’t believe that her children witnessed her abuse visually, but thinks that they may have heard it. Even with her efforts of going as far as stuffing a sheet or towel at the foot of her door to muffle the sounds. “Listen, it is a craft to learn how to scream silently. Inside. When someone has put your hand inside of a drawer and slammed it on your hand and you have to scream within yourself, you become a master of those things so you won’t wake your children, so you won’t scare them,” said LaKeisha. So many times, she thought she would lose her life and her children would come home and find her dead.

Pam didn’t impose on what was going on with LaKeisha. She didn’t tell Pam what was going on. Growing up in a home where physical abuse occurred, Pam noticed the signs. As a childcare provider, Pam has learned that the behavior of the child usually signals activity that takes place in the home. The real tell was witnessing the behavior of LaKeisha’s children at the daycare. One of the children would have constant episodes of hitting and yelling.

Pam simply took an approach of loving on LaKeisha and her children as God gifted her to do. She complimented LaKeisha by letting her know she was beautiful, she gave nuggets of support and encouragement as moments would allow. Pam was very careful not to constantly hammer her with statements like “when are you going to leave him,” or “don’t you know you deserve better.”

LaKeisha credits Pam for being a loving friend to her and her children during this season of her life. She could feel the love radiate from Pam. As time went on, their friendship blossomed and Pam was there for her in those moments when she would get fed up with the abuse. Pam has shown up at Lakeisha’s home and stood between LaKeisha and her abuser (professional athlete) telling him to leave her home. LaKeisha recalls a time when Pam and other friends came to her home to help her and her children gather their items to put in storage and move. LaKeisha had no place to go, so Pam opened her home to them in their time of need.

Pam became LaKeisha’s best friend. She stuck by her to help her through the moments of loneliness. For instance, there was a time when LaKeisha showed up at Pam’s’ front door with her children in the middle of the night so she wouldn’t go back to her abuser because she longed for companionship.

-Renewed-

LaKeisha’s family introduced her to Christ during her childhood but during her time of healing she had to get through her emotions of anger and disappointment towards God. LaKeisha witnessed Pam moving forward in her life and took queues and moved forward on her own spiritual journey. Pam had recently made a vow to be celibate until marriage and was growing in her daily walk. She takes joy in knowing that God was able to use her journey to inspire LaKeisha and show her that a relationship with a man cannot fill a void the way God can.

 

After some time LaKeisha began watching Christian television programs and reading Christian books. She felt that God’s presence made her feel a way that no one else could make her feel. Eventually she found a church and began attending services. She recalls an encounter with the Pastor when they told her “you are in a pit and the dirt is over the top of you.” The pastor was speaking to the hurt that LaKeisha had inside of her. LaKeisha couldn’t understand how God had allowed her to be in three abusive relationships. She thought maybe God didn’t love her. She didn’t know what she had done to keep attracting men who treated her the way that they did.

Over time God began to deliver LaKeisha from the hurt she had experienced and the feeling of loneliness. She was able to gain strength from God’s unconditional love. LaKeisha’s self-esteem increased and she no longer looked for men, children or anyone else to feel a void in her life. She had the love of Jesus.

-Inspired to Inspire-

A little over a year ago LaKeisha married and decided to take a break from social media for a year. God began to deal with her about sharing her testimony to be an encouragement to others. LaKeisha wanted to empower men and women who have been in or are in similar situations and let them know, “You don’t have to stay in this situation, love is out here and it comes from yourself. You have to get your healing and deliverance.” She knows that you may feel invisible, but you can fly. Whether it be domestic violence or even a struggle that you are trying to overcome, you can do it.

In just a few months LaKeisha has gone from telling her testimony of domestic violence through a Facebook live video to coming across a request from a woman who was looking for stories of domestic violence survivors to get them compiled for a book. She responded, and now her story along with others will be released in a book titled Wounds to Wisdom…The Survivor Series Volume 2 on October 7th. There will be a gala held in Atlanta, Georgia in celebration of the release.

 

Faith Fueled

DeAndre (Relentless) Holmes and Richaun Holmes are two of the four sons born to Richard and Lydecia Holmes. They were raised in a Christian home, both parents are pastors of Morning View Word Church on the south side of Chicago. They are a true testament of what can happen when your faith and work ethics drive you to pursue your dream.

Today DeAndre is a rapper on the rise, recently releasing his latest single “Rise Above It,” and Richaun is an up and coming NBA player from the Philadelphia 76ers roster. Both share so many similarities when it comes to their outlook on applying faith to works, because faith without works is dead.

DeAndre was first inspired to become a rapper during his teen years. He would battle rap all the time and was so talented that he received offers to sign. While considering taking a deal he went on a trip to Houston, TX where he witnessed some pioneers in the Christian Rap community take the stage and own it, Canton Jones and Pettidee. While at that concert God began to speak to him and tell him that this is how he wanted him to use his talent. DeAndre says he responded, “God, if this is what you want me to do for you, I don’t want my lyrics to be wack.” His parents were a little concerned. Christian rap wasn’t as widely accepted then as it is today and what they knew about rappers and rap music did was not a testament of the gospel. Over time his parents began to see the ministry in it and that it was more of what the lyrics were about and the message of the songs he created.

DeAndre didn’t accept the offers he received. He went on to attend college and study his word. He hadn’t developed a good flow, he was used to doing battle rap but not ministry or testimony through rap. The more he began to read the bible and pray God began to open his thoughts to write. By 2013 he released his first album, “The Alarm Clock.” He has been blessed with the opportunity to work with Delmar Lawrence III, known in the music community as Mr. Dell, and minister through rap and the word as God opens the doors.

As he grows in Christ and has more life experiences his gift develops even more. DeAndre and his wife experienced a faith growing challenge a couple of years ago when she, Kassy, went to the doctor for a normal pre-natal visit only for them to learn from the doctors that something was wrong with the baby and the baby was not expected to live. While the initial shock was there, DeAndre remembers putting everyone out of the room and telling his wife “the weapon is formed, but it’s not going to prosper.” They stood on the promises of God and kept the faith and today they have a healthy and active toddler who is nicknamed Mr. Unstoppable, which inspired one of DeAndre’s songs “Unstoppable.”

DeAndre isn’t the only one reaping a harvest on his faith and works in the Holmes family. His brother, Richaun, is as well. Richaun is the youngest of his four brothers. He is also married, to Allexis, and they have a toddler as well. The Holmes family is growing and growing.

Richaun had the dream of playing professional basketball since the age of five. He said, “I never saw myself doing anything else.” Richaun, like his brother, developed a talent but his more on athletic side. Because of his love for the game of basketball he participated in the sport as soon as possible and never stopped. He attended basketball camp every year until he aged out. Because of his hard work and practice, he was chosen and added to the 76ers roster. He has been a part of that organization for a couple of years now. It’s a surreal feeling for him. He remembers being a bit star struck the first year from the excitement of being able to meet athletes that he grew up watching.

Richaun recently just experienced hosting his first basketball camp focusing on teaching fundamentals of the sport. He hosted in his home town in Lockport, Illinois and his fan base home in Philadelphia, PA.
His biggest influence is his faith in God. His faith is what drives him to put in as much work as possible and he credits the rest to God. He makes it a point to read his bible and pray every day because he was taught to put God first. His dreams are not capped, he desires to achieve all that he can.

DeAndre and Richaun have an amazing support system from their wives, brothers and especially their parents. When asked how she felt about witnessing everything they have accomplished so far their mother Lydecia responded “It’s really fun to watch because I know the struggle that came with it. Now to see where they are, I am very proud of them.” She credits them for never stopping and continuing to pursue their dreams.

Human Trafficking: Where is the Church?

You may think you know what human trafficking is, but do you know what you can do about it? I surely didn’t, until I began doing research for this article. A misconception about human trafficking is that the victims are girls who are runaways or tourists in a foreign country that are lured away by a stranger and taken captive. Do these situations happen? Yes, they do happen. But, this is not the only way human trafficking occurs. Just recently there was an incident that made nation-wide news in the United States about a deadly human trafficking issue in San Antonio, TX. A truck was found with over two dozen people (adults and children) and several of those individuals were deceased. Did you see this story? Did you think to yourself, well that’s only in urban areas or that only happens near the border and that’s why we need President Trump to build the wall?

Well, I recently had the opportunity to speak with a couple of individuals who have found themselves on the end of doing their part to help those in need and assist to gain survivors of human trafficking. Benjamin Grasmeyer of A21 is the Global A-Teams Mobilizations Coordinator stationed at their California office. A21 is a 9-year-old organization that was founded by Christine Cain and her husband. They began the organization to aid in the rescue of victims of slavery, yes…slavery. Benjamin became involved with the organization through volunteering while residing in Sydney, Australia. He and his wife learned about the organization. His wife would volunteer several days a week and he would volunteer to assist with events. They moved to California to be a part of their church ministry there and through connections from A21 Benjamin was offered a position at the California office.

One of the things he is focused on now, just as others from A21, is the Walk for Freedom that will take place on October 14, 2017. The purpose of the walk is to draw awareness to human trafficking by individuals gathering together in their city to walk in a single file line while being silent. They have been doing this walk for a couple of years now. Through the attention from the walks and social media they can bring focus to a horrible act. To find out if there is a walk registered in your local area you can visit their website at www.A21.org/walk and enter your zip code. If there isn’t a walk in your area you can register to host.

Benjamin was kind enough to educate me on human trafficking and the areas that A21 participates in such as reporting, rescuing and training. There are five types of trafficking acknowledged by the government. Those are child labor, bonded labor (a worker is in debt to the trafficker and must work until their debt is paid), forced labor (forcing someone to work for little or no pay while held in captivity), involuntary domestic servitude (forcing someone to live and work in the same place non-stop) and sex (forced or coerced commercial sex acts).

According to A21, “Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating more than $150 billion USD every year.” It has been found that most victims are from sex trafficking, but it is believed that labor trafficking is one of the top in the United States. The isolated incident from San Antonio involving the truck driver was related to labor trafficking. According to www.humantraffickinghotline.org the top industries in the United States to have workers through labor trafficking are domestic and agriculture services. There are times when individuals may believe they are answering a job post for a position in another country and when they arrive they learn that it wasn’t what it appeared and they are caught up in a trafficking scam.

Sex trafficking is what most people are familiar with from media and depictions through entertainment sources such as television and movies. It seems dangerous and horrible and we see the character who comes in like a secret spy and rescue the girl. But, on the realistic end of things there are teams of people and organizations along with law enforcement. This is something that Kara Doan learned as she began to feel a tug at her heart from God to become involved. Her story is a little different from Benjamin’s.

Kara was volunteering in a soup kitchen a few years ago in her local area after a tornado hit a nearby town. Someone walked in while she was serving and boisterously asked how they could become involved with helping victims of human trafficking. Kara confessed that she thought to herself she wants nothing to do with it, but when the words crossed her mind she felt a pinch at her heart. A little over a year later God had turned her world around. She and her husband left their local area and moved to the city of Chicago based on the leading of God, not knowing why he was moving them but understanding there was a ministry assignment there for them. A year passed and God didn’t have them doing anything different from what they were doing in their old city of residence. She began to ask God why he had them move. Shortly after she began receiving emails from her church and noticed an announcement attached about attending an abolition summit. While she tried to ignore it, God kept tugging. Eventually she, her husband and the small group they were leading from church went to visit the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, MO. While there, they visited the organization hosting the summit and decided to attend the summit after all. A scripture that has been with she and her husband since that time has been Isaiah 61. From then, they left saying “How can we know and do nothing.” You see, Kara has a testimony of “knowing what it means to be helpless, and what it is to be shameful.” She also knows what it means to be redeemed and delivered. Because of that, she knew she had to do something.

They began a non-profit organization, Restoration61. They are currently in their second year of outreach. They receive resources and work with several other organizations such as Exodus Cry, Agape international and Elijah Rising. As a matter of fact, they did outreach at the super bowl this year with Elijah Rising to bring awareness to commercialized sex trafficking and help rescue those who were being used for consumers interested in their sexual services. Kara states, “The things that we are initiating are things that we have seen other people doing well and we are tweaking to work in the Chicagoland area.”

The outreach that they do through Restoration61 varies. They do outreach via phone calls, text and E-outreach by responding to advertisements for sexual services and then turning the conversation around to offer help and a way out. They have not done street outreach yet, they are preparing to do so and want to ensure that they are covering an area that is not already being covered so it doesn’t appear that organizations are being territorial. They also do hotel awareness by providing training to staff when requested.

Both A21 and Restoration61 do trainings. They discuss anything from internet safety to trafficking. Benjamin shared a successful story of a young woman who had attended a training. She believed she had encountered someone through the internet who was not a legitimate employer. She reported it to her local authorities. They kept the communication going to see if the lead would show that the person was involved in human trafficking. It turns out that they were involved and law enforcement was there to arrest the individual.

It is not a common practice for organizations to allow volunteers to assist in the hands-on process of rescuing a victim from where they are being held. The organizations work with the law enforcement in the area because they are more equipped to handle the situation should danger arise. They ensure that law enforcement understands while the people may be doing something illegal they are being forced through human trafficking and the victims can be taken to a shelter that they have and provide different resources from social workers and counselors to job placement.

There are reporting hotlines available all over the world for people to call at any time of day and day of the week. Those tips are turned in to law enforcement departments. If someone who is a victim of trafficking calls they respond as quickly as possible with law enforcement to complete the rescue. Now that you know more about human trafficking my prayer is that you will find a way for you and your church to be active in helping to end it and rescue victims.

 

 

Carrington Nakwaasah: Tale of A Daddy’s Girl

Carrington and her Father, Kirk Franklin.
Photo provided by Carrington.

Through reality television and social media, we have been welcomed into the lives of so many people, from the average Joe and Josephine to Mary Mary and John & Aventer Gray. There is one person who has made their mark on the hearts of many through song and word. They have drawn the attention of the churched and unchurched from all over the world. Who, you may ask? Your cousin, your nephew, the living legend… Kirk Franklin. While he has yet to have a reality show, he has offered transparency through countless testimonies and song for over 20 years. Through social media he has welcomed fans and foes into his life experiences. One thing you can gather from paying attention to the things he shares with the public is that his family is important to him.  Who better to share about the impact he has had in their life than his daughter, Carrington Nakwaasah?

Carrington is the eldest daughter in the Franklin family. She truly cherishes the relationship she has with her father. While the world may see him for his gifts, talents and fame; she sees him as daddy. Carrington knows that God has been able to use her father’s music to have an impact on the lives of others and just as many of you, she has been in awe of how amazing those moments have been.  Over the years his music has impacted the lives of so many people. His influence surpasses that of the gospel music industry. Carrington recently heard Chance the Rapper mention that her father had an influence on his life and music. She even shared a memory of a performance her father did when she was about 10 years old. English was not the native language of the audience, they needed an interpreter. When her father began to sing, the audience knew every word in English.

Because of the fame that Mr. Franklin’s music has brought him Carrington and her siblings have been afforded experiences that many dream of having. As expected, the level of fame he has reached and the amazing impact of his ministry worldwide comes with some ups and downs. For those who have been a fan of Mr. Franklin’s music for more than a decade you may recall an album titled The Nu Nation Project. The first track on the record is “Interlude: The Verdict.” When listening to the track, you can hear the criticism of the music that Mr. Franklin produced. While comical, this was truly art imitating life.  Has Mr. Franklin ever really been charged with “tearing down the walls of religion” or “making gospel music too secular”? No. But, Carrington shared that there have been occasions when time together has been disrupted by those who are excited fans and those who want to… let’s just say, share their disagreement on some things. In the age of social media people are not fearful of expressing their opinions through comments, statuses and tweets. Carrington says she “has learned to remain humble and personable when dealing with certain situations with people.”

Carrington has learned so much from how her father handles himself in all areas of his life. She has never had the desire to be a performer as her dad, despite the assumption of others that she wants to be a singer. The closest she has come to being a singer is singing on demos for her dad. However, she does aspire to become involved in the music industry as a writer.  What she admires the most about her father is his business savvy. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Carrington is a creative in her own right and as an entrepreneur, she has a graphics design company offering services from creating snapchat filters to designing logos and websites. She does merchandise for Anthony Evans Jr. and Priscilla Shirer while they are on tour. She recently did a little free hand word art on a chalkboard wall in her father’s office with words from a saying of his, “God is the writer. We are the pen. The world is the paper.” How dope is that?!

Instagram : Word Art by Carrington

 

Carrington admits that as a child she had moments where she wondered why her father had to be so honest about things and share so much about his personal life. As a young adult, she believes that people can connect with him and learn from his testimonies, including herself. “My dad’s transparency has helped me in a lot of ways. It’s taught me that in order to achieve any type of healing that you have to be completely honest,” said Carrington. Her father’s truthful approach in life has taught Carrington to be truthful in all things. She confessed that she is not the person to come to if you want the response sugar coated, she believes in lovingly telling the truth and applies that to every relationship from friendships to marriage.

 

In October of 2016 Carrington said I do to Maxx Nakwaasah. Carrington mentioned, “my husband, Maxx, actually mirrors my dad in more ways than I realized before marrying him.” She desired the characteristics of integrity, care and honesty in a spouse and she received that and more. She feels that her father’s personality helped to prepare her on how to interact with her husband.

via Instagram – Daddy/Daughter Dance
Photo Credit: Pharris Photos

Her father is someone she turns to for sound and godly advice. He offers her a safe place to be herself. He is one of her biggest cheerleaders. Her father is her friend. The emotion and energy of their friendship was displayed by them both on Carrington’s wedding day. It was truly a testament to the dynamic of their relationship. Carrington and her father wowed the world last fall when videos of their father/daughter dance from Carrington’s wedding reception went viral on social media. The dance was everything you could imagine from the creative duo. Carrington and her dad were originally planning a typical dance number until they realized people were anticipating something that would be different and exciting based on their relationship and personalities. They went back to the drawing board and in a matter of minutes they choreographed the dance. The next day the videos recorded by wedding guest were viral. While the world saw Kirk Franklin and his daughter doing the latest dance moves and enjoyed the moment for the excitement brought during those few days it was viral, for Carrington it was a moment within a day that she will remember for a lifetime. To her Kirk Franklin isn’t the famous living legend whom she idolizes and crazes over usies with him for likes, shares and comments. He is her role model, her friend and her father.

Caryce Porter : Blessed by Frustration

Imagine you are preparing your attire to attend an event and you can’t find a nude shoe. You begin searching online shops, the major retail stores, your local boutiques but nothing. You have even gone as far to try goodwill or the thrift store and there isn’t anything that comes close to the idea you have in your head. Do you give up and pick another option or do you design an option yourself?

Caryce Porter picked option number two and there are hundreds of women who are grateful that she did.

 

Caryce was tired of being frustrated with the lack of options for a nude shoe that she could wear. During spring of 2016 she made the decision to design a shoe for herself. While designing the product, she was inspired with the idea of making it a product that other women could purchase as well. She feels that the fashion industry defines nude as the color beige but nude depends on the complexion of the person wearing the product. When she began designing the products she wanted to ensure that she offered something for all shades of women. Caryce stated, “I want to make sure that I fill that need and want. It’s almost a staple, like having a nude bra.”

Dawn Collection

 

Fast forward to February 13, 2017 at 7:31pm (cst) when Caryce posted a status on Facebook showing her friends several photos of the prototype for her nude shoes and sharing the website www.nudesoles.com for people to subscribe for updates. The status was intended for her social media family and friends. To her surprise, it went viral. The status has over 11,000 likes, over 1,500 comments and over 7,000 shares. She began receiving comments and messages from women who wanted to know when they could get the product. With just one post on social media Caryce gained so many supporters. With the encouragement, she received from other entrepreneurs, along with the compliments of her being an inspiration to women who were in the idea stage of creating a business Caryce was motivated to continue with her endeavor of NudeSole.

Espresso Collection

 

With the wind of the initial announcement pushing her into success, Caryce put her digital marketing experience to work and used social media as a tool to engage potential customers. The followers of NudeSole could suggest style and color names. The company has four styles of shoes and each style comes in four colors. The styles are Beatrice, Eva, Chantelle and Reecie. The styles are available in the colors of Dawn, Fox, Cocoa and Expresso. Pre-orders are currently being taken through the website and Caryce anticipates that they will be able to take live orders in the next month.

Fox Collection

 

“A dream can be more than just a dream,” says Caryce. She didn’t set out to make this product. She was initially hoping that someone, some company would finally create a nude shoe for her to purchase. The thought crossed her mind to create the product herself and from there she ran with it. No, she does not have a degree or training in the fashion industry. The closest she came to retail was being a customer shopping in stores like any other citizen of the world and a job she held at a shoe store during breaks of her undergraduate education which was studying Biology. Anything that she didn’t know how to do from experience she researched or reached out for help from those who had the experience. Now look at her!  She has a full-blown business and is making moves to turn this into a movement in the fashion industry.

Cocoa Collection

 

Let Caryce inspire you to become the solution to your problem and allow God to direct you every step of the way!

Aleka Thrash: Planting, Pursuing, Prospering

Meet Aleka Thrash. She is an entrepreneur based in the state of Michigan. She is a natural hair blogger (NaturallyACT) as well as a photographer (ACT Photomedia).

Aleka began her journey as a natural hair blogger when she came up with the idea of doing something with her love for natural hair. She didn’t know what direction to take. She sought a confidence coach, Veverly Austin, of Confident Living. The coach asked Aleka “What problem are you going to solve?” That question sparked something within Aleka. She learned that she needed to think about what would set her apart from other hair bloggers.

Aleka admitted that at times she can be a self-doubter and had to develop confidence in herself that she had something to offer. For example, when it came to having topics for her blog she learned to pay attention to the questions she received from people about her hair. From there, she realized that there was more to hair than what you put on it and do to it, but healthy hair also included what you put inside of your body. She began to focus on those things and work to be consistent with posting her blogs. Around the same time, Aleka’s confidence coach challenged her by discussing her ability to instruct a class/workshop. Aleka accepted the opportunity and recalls having 15 people attend her first class. This helped her feel confident to move forward with other endeavors involving her love for hair.

Aleka began reaching out to various hair product companies to partner with her for her giveaways and for her reviews of their products. She sent 150 emails and only received four responses of “yes.” She did not see that as a moment to be discouraged, instead she reached out to the companies again to find out why their responses were “no.” Aleka believed it was a learning opportunity to discover what areas she could improve in so the future response would be “yes.”

When it comes to her endeavors for photography, Aleka’s dream was to become a photographer for a publication to capture images for an article or story. However, she finds herself on the other end of the lens. She works as a photographer but has experienced being featured in publications for her various roles as an entrepreneur and has recently been honored to receive a local community award for her business of photography. While things aren’t panning out the way Aleka hoped, she has learned to “trust God when the plan shifts.”

Aleka is finally in her groove of reaping her harvest in her business endeavors. She has gone from having her first class/workshop to being asked for one-on-one hair tutorials. She has experienced the favor of God with her friends, mentors, and her businesses. Because of the success, she asks God for those that she can help pursue their goals/dreams and share her experiences with them so they can flourish too.

Aleka could have convinced herself that photography and blogging was something enough people were doing and given up on the idea of pursuing either area. She did not! Aleka pursued and turned adverse moments into learning opportunities. Don’t give up on your dreams/interest. Think outside the box and discover a way to reach people with your passion.