“As someone who has a platform, because of what I do, I thought it was important to lend that platform to a group of people that I believe are under-recognized,” says James. "Being the son, husband and father of strong African American women, I felt like this was something I wanted to do for them and for all the strong women out there who are succeeding despite what might be stacked against them.”
Last week, Philly native Anyee Wright debuted her first single and chill video for OFF THE WALL which is apart of MASTERPLAN. The visuals are a mix of this whole pink neon obsession currently taking place on IG, internet shit, and decent acrylics. The lyrics are super girlie and playful as they fall right in line for the beginning of cuffing season. *insert eye-roll emoji face* Check out the visuals and show her some love!
Instead of keeping up with those Kardashian’s, keep your nail game strong and healthy. Don’t get caught up in the streets with broken nails and missing eyelashes, you never know when you’ll see your haters. If you’re going to truly do “self care,” get educated with the chemicals going into making you feel and look beautiful. Do you know the difference between MMA and EMA? Ever since I switched nail techs, my nails have been in better shape. When she first laid her hands on my nails, she said, “those gotta come off.” Yes, I had MMA nails. It was because the nail salon I’d been frequenting for years was using the bootleg products, even though I was paying top dollar. So we started with a blank canvas which in the nail world means soaking off the acrylics and shaving off the tips. Something you should be doing at least every 4 weeks of wearing fake nails anyway. MMA / EMA is the liquid chemical used to mode the acrylic. MMA, the acrylic monomer or the liquid acid used to activate the powder to melt onto your nails, happens to be super horrible and dangerous for your nails. However, so many salons are still using MMA and customers have NO idea. Here’s what you need to know about EMA and MMA acrylic powder.
MMA (also known as Methyl methacrylate liquid monomers) acrylic is dangerous to the nail and skin around the nail. When used it can turn the natural nail yellow, lead to permanent nail loss and even numb the nail and skin around it so much it can lead to irritation and air blockage. MMA creates super hard nail enhancements that don’t break. However, when the nail is jammed, the natural nail breaks first, under the MMA acrylic causing even more painful damage.
MMA was introduced to the nail industry in the 1970s when dentists used the same powder to form porcelain dentures. It can also be found in plastic. However, by the end of the 70s, numerous complaints were filed to the FDA about the horrible effects of this powder to the skin and thus it became somewhat illegal. I’m saying somewhat because nail salons still use MMA today, as this is the cheaper route.
MMA acrylic powder reacts differently to each person. For example, when I get my nails done with MMA, on the first day, my nails feel super tight and mildly swollen, like tight braids aching to be loosened up. Why did I let someone who may not even have a license put this on my nails? I didn’t know any better! The tightness I use to experience with each fresh set was my skin reacting to chemicals that don’t allow your nails to breath, the strong chemicals used to form plastics. This is a common side effect that most people put up with regularly. Other side effects include swelling so bad, your cuticles can easily become infected with puss build up if you are highly sensitive. My nail tech actually told me that a young girl she knew of didn’t know she was allergic to MMA and as soon as the acrylic hit her nail beds, the reaction took its course and she had to be hospitalized! Moments after her nails were did, they had to be cut off while the ambulance rushed to the nail salon.
According to the FDA, MMA is a dangerous chemical that can lead to miscarriages. More here. Even the dust from the acrylic powder is a problem. MMA is hard to file and mold which produces a lot of dust when the nail tech goes at it with a drill. This is what makes MMA unsafe to use due to its inability to adhere well to the nail plate, often causing dents and thinning or no natural nail at all.
When MMA soaks off your natural nails, it looks gooey, melted glue and smells SO bad. The smell lingers even when it’s exposed. That’s why when you walk past some of these hood salons, you can smell what’s cooking from a few yards away.
Unfortunately and for cheap reasons, a lot of nail salons found in lower income areas are still using MMA acrylic and nobody seems to cares. The fact that nail suppliers are still selling MMA is ridiculous. It poses risks for the nail tech ( who usually wear a mask to prevent inhaling the smell) and the nail wearer ( messing up the nail beds and turning nails yellow).
EMA ( Ethyl methacrylate) is the more accepting type of acrylic liquid. In 1999, Cosmetic Ingredient Review approved the use of EMA as safe in nail products. The difference between MMA and EMA products are in the smell, the way they soak off your nail beds, the damage to your natural nails, and overall reaction.
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to MMA, it’s a good thing. The first step is getting it removed from your nails immediately. If you haven’t been getting a new set at least once a month, it can be easy for MMA ruin your nails. Proper nail maintenance requires a fresh set every month. Get with it, or get a regular manicure.
Let me start out by saying black women are killing it! There's been a lot of encouragement and support in the #blackgirlmagic community because it's needed. Next month, we will reach another heighten sense of inclusion in the world with over 10 black women gracing the covers of high fashion magazines. I am so excited to see Beyonce on the cover of Vogue US, Rihanna on Vogue UK's cover, as well as Tiffany Haddish gracing the cover of Glamour. I'm also happy Actress and Director Issa Rae is bringing the youth back to Ebony Magazine. That's what they need. And of course, I'm on the cover of Violet Summer Zine. It's a domino effect. That's what I hoped would happen for the magazine industry if anything else is wrong in the world when it comes to politics. Well, at least Omarosa is having her share in the media trying to overthrow Trump.
The summer is coming to an end. No one died - thank god. For me, we can all be grateful to at least celebrate life in a brand new way with a sense of accomplishment. If you're reading this, grow up and be the bigger person.
What's giving me life right now is my passion for writing merged with making money and collaborating/working with other passionate people. What's giving me life right now is the support from my friends, colleagues and also new relationships.
But even if some of us are experiencing a good time, black women are still at risk of hate crimes with an unjust outcome. This week I attended a press conference at Junie Bee's Nail Salon hosted by Singer Teyana Taylor to raise awareness to the horrible attack of two black women at an Asian owned nail salon in Brooklyn. The women spoke to the local NY news station about how they were beaten with broomsticks and sprayed with acetone. It was heart-breaking to hear these women speak about the situation all because they didn't want to pay $5 for a shitty eyebrow service. I'm sick of hearing this shit, especially from places that I have also been discriminating against even when I spend my hard earned money on poor services! What's even more maddening is that the women racked up charges for fighting with the employees at the Asian salon.
The disturbing footage of the fight was actually released by the Chinese Nail Association and the circulation of it is raising awareness on social media. However, NY City Officials need to crack down on these dirty ass nail salons that are constantly robbing predominantly black communities. Most of them are cash - only establishments which is also problematic. Also, many of them still use horrible chemicals that can be deadly. Re: MMA, and they don't warn customers of the materials they are using in the first place. You have a right to know why your nail beds are thin, cracked and yellowing under that cheap nail polish. At the end of the press conference, Teyana announced the women can come to Junie Bees and receive FREE services.
Now, I don't usually talk race wars but this video is horrible considering the number of legal issues the nail industry has been in over the years for spreading unsafe sanitary practices to their employees and customers.
The National Action Network team has put their forces behind the women and have organized protests in Brooklyn as well as participated in a press conference at Junie Bees salon early this week. But what we really need is the charges to be dropped. Ultimately, black women shouldn't shop or support at these places.
Here is a list of places owned by black women that you can purchase your beauty services:
YOUR SKINCARE SPOT owned by Detriot native Bianca Townsend. I wrote about her black-owned online business here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/need-beauty-advice-text-an-esthetician-on-your-skincare_us_5a04e571e4b0cc46c52e6938
CLEANSE BY LAUREN NAPIER: New York-based makeup artist has developed these amazing facial wipes for a face that glows. I love to have them in my bag when traveling or need to wash my face with something clean. https://www.laurennapier.com/
CURL BIBLE is owned by Dana Chanel. She's an entrepreneur currently residing in Philly. The idea came about when she was sick of giving her money to businesses that did not look like her. Plus, her FAITH leads her to create a brand that was reflective of her own morals and also beauty rituals. www.curlbible.com
Update on Zine
Violet Summer Zine is in a different place than it was in 2015 and even eight months ago when the team started to form on weekends and on holidays. Each year I allow myself to be vulnerable as I write what I think is a reflection of the culture - even if it’s a small percentage. There have been over 14 collaborators who really contribute to the overall all vibe of the zine. They always take the topics so seriously and really do their best work! That’s SO rewarding for me as a creator -- for others to also put their passion into your passion. Many of them, I met up with for coffee or drinks to discuss their pieces which make it even more personal and fun.
At the end, VSZ aims to inspire through stories told in an urban chick-lit perspective. I love the Dressing Up & Normcore story ( in issue 2) , A Glamourous Nightmare ( in Issue 3) , I also love our biography about Meghan Markle in Issue 3 as well! Each year the content gets really robust with information.
Also, did I mention it’s very personal? Sanity Addiction is all true. Some of my friends read it and be like “Damn Mel I can’t believe you want through that.” Well, I’ve been through a lot of disappointment that … blah blah and some of it is my friends and colleagues stories. So that’s why I like Sanity Addicition to be like super honest. Aramide helped me edit Sanity Addiction Part 3… I felt like I had to write at least part of the story. I am thinking about doing like meet up with all these characters in a story. They all work or have aspirations to be in the fashion industry but like their careers, things get fucked up on the way to success. That’s what I’ve been dealing with and so I just felt like why not tell the story. In 2018, black women and women of color are experiencing a heightened sense of representation in the media community. I hope it stays like that.
And speaking of Black women, I'd love to do a cover shoot production with someone super fierce. So far, it’s just been me on the cover. But I’d love to shoot someone dope for the cover and really plan for it! Issue 5 I’m gonna do it. Someone so devastatingly chic ( Laina Rauma) , she’ll snatch your edges. Either that, or I definitely want a HOT dude on my cover with me in a thong bikini. he he
One area of the zine I’d like to improve is our “research” section. I want to conduct and report on studies about of the moment topics and then compare them to the millennial lifestyle. I get emailed survey results all the time! So I want to look into having a sponsor help me with researching.
Where are we Going:
VSZ has grown into this urban literary magazine that is read by a millennial to mature audience. When I say mature, I’m speaking of 40+-year-olds that are young at heart or really curious about the millennial interactions and experiences. Some white dude who is a veteran tweeted me about how he read my piece in Issue 1 and on my huff post column “Black Girls Tan Too” He loved it. VSZ always gets good feedback on the content. It’s still shocking. I want it to always include long realistic fiction articles to advice and pop culture short features that are both trendy, intellectual and feel-good. It is STILL a beach read!
On Social Media:
Our Instagram is definitely growing and videos still are the most engaging thing online right now. That and memes. Social media in general though is overwhelming. I never know where my audience is coming from and feedback is everything. That’s why it’s important to be like on every platform. It’s exhausting. However, I have so much content from previous issues that didn’t get much play.
On ISSUU we have 30,000 reads and over 7 million impressions so people are definitely tuned in, ya dig?? When I started I don’t think I had anyone reading other than my family. So keep spreading the good news.
Follow up on new and old relationships
I get a lot of compelling emails each week that I don’t answer or I am not attentive to. There are literally free products and interview ideas in my inbox, but I just forget or get too lazy to respond. It’s so bad. I need to stop being super picky about it and realize that it’s an opportunity that other writers may not have, so now I make it a point to answer all emails. A collaborator told me this so thanks Kipenzi. Even if it’s saying “hey! I’ve love to run a contest!” to “yes, I’ll sample the product for my publication.”
Being Honest makes me totally vulnerable but it’s worth it
Another reason why I started the publication is I wanted to be honest. But sometimes, I have to be so honest it’s literally nerve-racking to push publish. If you’ve read my work you may have cringed at some lines, but that’s what makes a good story. When I started writing highly suggestive content, friends, family and even dating prospects couldn’t understand my work. Sanity Addiction Part 2 garnered the most press and helped me legitimize my brand and it was also the most controversial. It’s about revenge porn, drugs, sex and out of control relationships. A lot of people could relate but it’s not a story with a fairytale ending. But not all stories end horrible. So SA is written with "a light at the end of the tunnel." And that’s why I felt so passionate to put it out there because most of it is true. It was a period after I released SA, that I toned down my work. I regret that because the momentum slowed down. I was caring too much of what people would think. That’s until I had another awakening when I realize that people will have their say, but what I say matters.
Dealing With Shitty Relationships
Since forever, I had to cut off people and people have definitely stopped talking to me for their own reasons. GREAT, SEE YOU AROUND. People don’t ever really disappear especially when you’re in the same industry. So the one thing I’m good at is NOT burning my bridges. My mentor says, you’ll go farther if you carry less baggage.
Editor's Note: I loved writing this piece. Enjoy!
This week Facebook announced that it would roll out its new privacy laws for the European Union. But this doesn’t come as a surprise because Europe has been on top of internet privacy since the 90s. Meanwhile, us “users” in the US are still dealing with who “misused” our data to skew the results of the 2016 Presidential Election.
Let me rewing to the moment I got annoyed...
It all happened on a calm Thursday evening when a notification from NBC News sounded off on my phone with the headline reading “Without data-targeted ads, Facebook would look like a pay service, Sandberg says. “ Like, Seriously? You know what's following... If Facebook offers a paywall, this could honestly be the cure to my unabiding Facebook scrolling addiction. So thanks!
Facebook found themselves in a pot of hot water. They got in tRoUbLe this month for violating our 4th Amendment right to privacy by manipulating our 1st amendment right to free speech, and finally, our lawmakers have managed to summons the jack of all trades without a diploma, Mark Zuckerberg. (Side note: I've written about Revenge Porn from a first-person witnesses perspective and I was utterly disgusted Read here. ) For two days, 10 hours in total, congressional committee members, grilled Zuckerberg on what exactly Facebook does with our data once we click on stuff and merely write words we think is meaningless on our "status." For those who don’t know about Cambridge Analytica, it is essentially a digital marketing agency that Trump used for his political campaign, apparently, they also worked on the Obama Campaign too. They have an office in New York and according to their website, they have since deleted the data they received from another third party called GSR. But nothing is really deleted... Cambridge Analytica is also claiming that they did not violate any terms and conditions of whatever opt in pop up message window they are referring to. DO YOU THINK THEY DID? Which is the precisely the reason why I’m pissed off? I feel like they did! We need someone to blame for why Trump is sitting in the Oval Office. What are we opting- in to anyway? Where is our precious user behavior report really going? And why is it that so many people seem to have access to it? These social media sites weren’t built with any type of morals. Social media platforms only care about feeding our EGOs and which is earning them millions of dollars worth of advertising revenue.
Anyone with talking points could have said what Zuckerberg said to the dozens of Senators who just logged onto Facebook for the first time last week. Someone on the news has the same opinion. Literally, I laughed at every Senator stumble to ask appropriate questions that would someone how nail Zuckerberg. But the technical terms are just too beyond their generation to comprehend. In addition, Zuckerberg couldn’t define“ internet cookies” which I find highly suspect!! We all have the same Google. Which is another reason why I’m pissed off? Take us back when you could actually delete your Facebook, and hide your Facebook posts from certain groups, and also back when there was only one inbox per user!!!
With the exception of Cory Booker ( D- NJ) and Kamala Harris ( D- CA), every Senator struggled to ask a question that was somewhat related to the issue at hand: Data. There was this one Senator who asked a question about how Facebook segments data into different buckets, which she called “categories.” Don't ask me her name because I totally ignored. I think she was trying to ask what happens to the data once it’s inputted into Facebook, how is it stored, who has access and is it really deleted, etc. But the lady Senator just couldn't get out the aforementioned words. Furthermore, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t going to help her decide what she wanted to ask him. And why would he?
This was a time for all those millennials working on The Hill for these Senators for dirt cheap to actually help their bosses stick it to the man. In this case, the man is Mark Zuckerberg.
Friends, I am truly concerned with the state of our privacy and the lack of security protecting who we are as a society. If data can manipulate human behavior, the future has a lot in store for us, Re: the NYT article below. We’ll be carrying around terabytes like diamonds on our fingers and stuck in a real-life black mirror episode that won’t end if we don’t wake up.
MAKING OBAMA PODCAST REVEALS REAL STORY BEHIND EARLY POLITICAL DAYS IN CHICAGO WBEZ Chicago’s Documentary Provides Insider Account from Obama and his Key Advisers, Mentors and Rivals.
“A story like mine could have happened in another city, but my story could have only happened here…, “said President Obama in an excerpt from the podcast."
The postal service sucks and it's ruining the online shopping experience.
Have you noticed how horrible of a job the USPS/FEDEX/UPS services are doing with delivering packages that you paid so much money to be delivered? No? Well, I have because as a business owner and an assistant and a traditional human being, I often find myself waiting in line at the US Post Office in Harlem or in Midtown Manhattan. In fact, I've spent hundreds of minutes waiting in line to send and retrieve packages from all over the world. And I'm sick of the horrible customer service ( an exception with the lady with the long nails at FDR Station building)! Why even waste ink on my receipt to ask me "How Are We Doing?" in a survey that you're probably not going to read. These past few years, it has been a struggle trying to conduct business when there's always something going wrong.
First of all, sending the zine out to buyers has been like a game. When I started distributing the zine, I often found myself at the post office in mild panic attacks. My first zine was printed by a company in Philly and when it was time to ship the final product, not only did it cost be $40 due to weight but also due to inflated expedited costs. I was lucky enough to be home all day to receive the package but it was still a headache trying to get my first zines in my sweaty hands. The years following the foundation of the zine, it has been nothing but "oh no's." Some buyers never received their zines, USPS takes weeks to deliver packages abroad, and UPS doesn't have an empathy when it comes to plants delivered in boxes.
Let me take another paragraph to explain the time my monthly fresh follower delivery was sent to North Brother Island because I wasn't home to sign for the package. Because don't you know it was a Friday and the UPS people sent my fresh flower shipment to a warehouse this is closed over the weekend?! So when Monday finally rolls around, my fresh flowers that have been boxed without sunlight for at least 4 days finally get to my hands. I think I took off work to make sure I'm home. The flowers look OK thanks to Enjoy Flowers, past client of mine.
Fashion is becoming less fun.
Fashion is fun and simple. Stop trying to make fashion sound so intellectual, because the greater majority of people only choose to wear clothing because we would be absolutely breaking the law if we weren't in clothes. Recently, I skimmed through an interview featuring a trendy streetwear designer and this person said something about "the dialogue between the clothes and the customer." And I thought to myself, "What conversation did I ever have window shopping with a designer at Barney's?" I surely do not consider myself in relation to the designer and the products that are hanging on hangers. Then it dawned on me: fashion is so private and personal, and in this day and age, we spend so much on things! Gucci is selling tee shirts for $800 and creating this vicious cycle of "trendy" poverty that I'd rather just spend my money with a small, cool designer who needs it to pay their bills. That's what makes retail for me fun- supporting business owners who still have a touch to their products. I can care less about the ideology behind a luxury product that only less than 1 percent of the world will get to wear and "cherish." If it's moderately priced, I will consider it. It bothers me that some blogs and magazines talk about fashion in ways the general public can't really relate to and it's taking the fun out of fashion. Fashion is being wrung out to dry, picked apart thread by thread until it's no longer for the public, an elitist idea that only people who go to "fashion week" think they have power over to control and dictate. Well, how about get a life. lol.
Diseños creados desde el corazón y el alma de Colombia.
When she’s not dancing for celebrities, Aliya Janell is running a successful business called Queens N’ Lettos that she started just five months ago.