Watch me talk all things Violet Summer Zine & digital content! Thank you ISSUU for the platform and tools to create fulfilling content.
If you haven’t put your resolutions out into the universe, you’re probably thinking the same thing as me when it comes to making useless resolutions the first of January: that you’ll probably forget by February. Each new year we all have “ to be a better person” on our list of things to improve with marking another (bumpy) ride around the sun. It’s not that we’re cynical about making resolutions that don’t really mean anything. And is it just me or is social media promoting resolution propaganda? “...2019 will be the year I mind my own business, drink tea and meditate.” This is easier said than done. I know this because the culture has been collectively seeking spiritual guidance, spiritual healing through crystals, therapists, astrologist and so on. The market for this type of stuff has also profited from people’s need to block out the BS in the Trump era. According to Fast Company, it is a multi-billion dollar business that attracts executives, CEOs, and the like to make decisions based on their energy and the findings of their spiritual teachers.
But this supernatural technique isn’t the only way to gain your newfound spiritual regimen in 2019. There are much cheaper routes to take like going to church, meditating or reading your astrology charts online. Of course, it is time-consuming but emotional well being is increasingly becoming important in the era of screentime overload - when you find out how much time you devote on your phone and its associated apps.
Over the years, friends and colleagues have asked me how to go about finding a life coach or something of the like because they think they need an intervention of some sort. But what I have found in my own quest to finding allies who are on your side to help interpret your life, is that the whole process in itself is supernatural. It’s not like finding a doctor or your next insurance broker. Your spiritual regimen should come out of self-reflection - what do you truly want to work on about yourself? It’s about owning up to your faults and then trial and era the remedy.
Here are a few ways you can go about it from personal experiences from my world travels.
The church home is key to healing your soul. If you’re religious and grew up exposed to organized religion, then you know this is where to go to get your mind right. Of course, with all the drama aside, this is a place where you can find inner peace. As a Christian, I’ve always loved going to church during times of depression and being lost in life after a major breakup or career shakeup. I know the people who run the church aren’t perfect, and I’m not either, but I find it comforting that other people know me and my goals and will pray for my success. It makes me happy that my pastor knows me by name and calls me a “writer” even during the times when I didn’t believe in myself. Find a church or religious institution that makes you comfortable and is not too judgemental by asking friends to refer you to a good place. I also love how social media can either make a church either more welcoming or expose them. So also read the Yelp reviews.
Get your aura read. If you’re feeling blah and stuck in a rut going into 2019, going to a licensed aura reader may inspire you. Aura reading is a new practice that was founded in the 1980s in Berkeley, California. This past December, I was invited to a beauty industry event where they hired Clara Kumiko Ueki, a licensed medical massage therapist who also studied Cytology, to read the moods of their guests. According to her website,” an Aura is vibrational energy of the presence of any living thing. An Aura Reading provides one's information of this moment in time by showing images and interpretations of the vibrational energy.” I happily sat down across from Kumi in a hotel room for about 20 minutes while she told me about what she felt from my aura. Although, the Japanese born aura reader told me qualities about myself I already knew and even told me facets of my personality I was still working on connecting. Aura reading is good to know for people who are emotional. Kumi’s aura reading is unique in that she equates roses to individual energy. Mine rose she said is bright red and in full bloom!
Much like chakras, if you’re into plant psychology, you should definitely look into getting your aura read to find clarity in your mood. https://www.aurareadingnyc.com/
Hire a longterm life coach if you’re new to entrepreneurship or trying to take your career to the next level. These people are all over Instagram. They are the ones that promote “getting your life together in a few quick and easy steps.” It can seem a bit cheesy but these types of people are highly motivated by people who lack ambition. Their job is to make you successful in whatever life goals and resolutions you establish. I strongly advise you do your research when hiring a life coach. They can change as much as $10,000 a month if they know you will make you grow financially. Although I can’ t accurately provide a price quote for your specific needs, a life coach can help you lose weight or even be a better parent. My life coach was also a Yoga Instructor and a Christian so her methods included meditation, astrology, bible verses about God's children and also lots of smiles. We met on a resort in Jamaica and through our long conversations on the beach, I knew I wanted her energy around me. For our first sessions, we talked a lot about setting intentions and also manifesting the life I want. Yes, these are all teachings that you can probably google, however, a life coach holds you accountable. Tony Robbins is the most recognized life coach. There’s also Tai Lopez who sells online marketing courses, and also gives mentorship opportunities to his best students. Moreover, you can use social media to keep up with people who spread inspiring messages on social media, which that itself can be a cheaper way of gaining access to a life coach.
A shaman can clear away bad spirits in your life. In recent years, Shamans have increasingly grown in popularity. I don’t know if Yoga is considered vintage and people are looking for a new thrill, but Shamans are customary to Latin America and that’s where I experienced my own spiritual awakening. I was traveling in Ecuador, cruising around the Galapagos islands without cell service, and I had no choice to get in touch with the other side. After seeing blue for days and healing from yet another horrible relationship with an idiot, I was going crazy with my thoughts. Somewhere between prayer and meditation, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean,” I came to the thought, “Everything that’s beautiful is not always good for you. “ Once I disembarked from the boat that sailed through the ancient civilization and hoped on a plane that would take me to Quito, Ecuador. From the window seat of the plane, it was beautiful to see vast greenery after being sucked up in the deep blue sea. I was on my way to the Choco rainforest to spend a few nights in a hotel above the clouds. To make a long story short, I met a guy at the hotel bar in Quito, on my way to the rainforest, who told me he was going to see his shaman in Amazon. We talked for hours about shamans, guayusa and the meaning of life. After 3 bottles of wine and vaping at the hotel bar until 5 am, this dutch guys gave me some parting chocolate, a vial of guayusa and another vial of something that was supposed to make me sleepy, and left by cab to see his Shaman. He traveled thousands of miles to see his Shaman. I couldn't believe his trek and he still had 8 hours to the deep depths of the Amazon to go. What I got from this rated R experience is that people are devoted to mending a broken soul and will do anything to find healing. Years later and Shamans just keep popping up indirectly into my life. If you’re seeking shaman to do ayahuasca or something of that nature, definitely do your research. Shamanism is an actual college degree at select universities so at the very least if your future shaman has a degree from an accredited university, you’re halfway there. I would also get testimonies from actual people who have good experiences shamans. A shaman can be expensive, but if you’re into spiritual meditation, then it will be worth it to you.
Subscribe to a Astrologer’s Readings on Youtube. Modern Astrologers have taken their magic to youtube to reach audiences who may not feel like reading their horoscopes on a website or in a newspaper. Ever since a friend told me about Amber Khan and her brand The Quietest Revolution, I became devoted to reading about my sign ( LEO) every first of the month. Her readings are always very detailed and require full concentration when watching her hour long videos. Amber gives very real breakdowns of what her Tarot Cards mean by zodiac sign and it’s good to follow because she will touch on previous months readings for clarity. Aside from Amber, there are TONS of Youtube Astrologers so you can explore people’s vibes.
Get into Essential Oils, Smudging and Incense Burning. If you like burning candles and incense, there’s power in cleansing and maintaining your energy with scent. This type of practice goes into the natural healing category. Tons of companies are popping up with their own version of essential oils that aim to spiritually guide its customers to positive vibes. Wild Spritz, is a beauty company based in Texas that sells au natural products like Energy Clearing Aromatherapy Spray. Founder Lauren Arevalos started her company after turning her obsession with smudging into a business. Essentials oils have also become mainstream in curing anxiety and have been deemed the new antibiotic. In article entitled “How Essential Oils Became the Cure for Our Age of Anxiety” in the New Yorker, essentials oils are not just a white woman spending habit. In a excerpt from the article, “Oils’ rising popularity is part of the contemporary appetite for wellness, an embrace of holistic healthy-living practices ranging from the low key (meditation) to the wacky (Brain Dust, a forty-dollar jar of adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms that promises to “align you with the cosmic flow for great achievement.” Oils can be used to sure just about anything but at a high price. If you’re a beginner at essential oils and smudging, I recommend starting with palo santo and sage sticks to smudge your living space and use it with your burgeoning meditation practice. You can buy on Amazon for under $20 here.
New Yorkers have been reading the MO book and there’s so much to highlight and discuss with your friends, family and colleagues!
This morning on my own MTA commute, I couldn’t help but notice handfuls of young women, dressed devastatingly chic probably on their way to work, with their head down in the pages of the former First Lady’s new book Becoming by Michelle Obama. Seriously, it seems like everyone has the book and there hasn’t been a viral book like this in a while. It’s giving me major Chicken Soup Soul type of vibes. It’s enjoyable across genres.
The memoir begins with a preface about where she is at the moment in relation to 2018. We get realness from the jump; Mrs. Obama writes about making herself a cheese sandwich in an empty kitchen with the dogs. She confesses she feels lonely with no children to look after years in the spotlight. Admittedly, I was sure she was a hot second from putting in a bid for her presidency, but boy was I wrong!! Chapter One takes the reader way back to a 4-year-old Michelle Obama, who was known as “Miche.” From there we learn about the first time she fucked up in school, to how she dumped her boyfriends and my favorite part, how she fell in love with our 44th President of the United States Barack Obama! I really do miss the Obamas! Every 10 pages, I found myself emotionally overwhelmed with tears of sadness, happiness, empathy, and love because that’s how much I related to her stories. As a young woman in her twenties trying to sophistically navigate the keys to a successful career, family and love life, this book brought me reassurance as well as hope. Here are 10 things that I learned from Mrs. Obama’s memoir that want to use to get through the rest of my infamous twenties.
McDonald’s / Fast Food Joints serve better food because of Michelle Obama. Throughout the book, she talks about her vegetable garden and how watering plants lead to measurable change in politics, from decrease childhood obesity rates to major fast food companies pledging to improve the quality of food they offer their consumers. As I walk past an McD’s today, I can’t help but have a better opinion about the infamous restaurant. I don’t feel guilty for indulging in their McDoubles because I know I can also order fruit parfait on the side.
Take care of my family and close friends. Mrs. Obama talks deeply about the deaths of people in her life that really affected her emotionally that made her become a better person. I cried when her dad, Mr. Robinson, passed away a few months before she got married to Barack Obama. I felt for Michelle Obama when her best friend Suzanne died in the midst of her busy career as an attorney. It was as though she spoke right to me when she expressed how guilty she felt for not being there for her friend but still valued and cared about her. In my early twenties, I’ve had friends who passed away because of illness, as well as gun violence and I always felt bad because I didn’t give enough of my time to them while they were alive. But how could I when it’s already tough just trying to make it through? Towards the end of the book, when Mrs. Obama was deep into her First Lady job, she talked about attending and speaking at the funeral a young girl from the Southside of Chicago who was killed in gun violence while hanging out at a park. Perhaps this was her reconciliation for her own friend Suzanne who passed away as well as her own way to stay connected to the hood, but it moved me. I learned that family and friends are everything and I have to make time for who I love.
Search for your most authentic voice. More than ever, I feel pressured in society to have it all at the same time. On social media, we are praised for being a girl boss and entrepreneur, but side-eyed if we have nothing going on at the moment. In the book, she writes, “I look back on the discomfort of that moment now and recognize the more universal challenge of squaring who you are with where you come from and where you want to go, I also realize that I was a long way, still, from finding my voice.” In relation to school, there’s always a sense of who belongs and who doesn’t but i do believe school allows you to find your voice.
Be nice to the younger generations. The Biden kids were SO nice to the Obama girls and this is how it should be between any generation. There’s going to be times of inevitable collaboration with people older and younger than you, but the main thing is to be open. Unfortunately, there have been instances where my skills and my friends’ skills and talent weren’t taken seriously in the workplace. Especially when it comes to new technology. Yet some baby boomers and those older would rather work with someone they are familiar with in age. And it sucks when you are experiencing this! Mrs. Obama offered a lot of encourage to those who are trying to take the higher road. I feel like her encouragement matters because even her team while First Lady consisted of all young female millennials who were understanding of motherly duties and childcare. Very often I work with mothers who have busy schedules and I feel it's my obligation to give these women certain privileges. I’ve always been maternal at heart and I don’t think trying to separate it from the “professional” space is worth it, but I take it in small doses. In regard to Mrs. Obama, she wrote a few times about how in awe and thankful she was for their talent and ability to adapt. Yes, the goal is adapting and everyone can bring something to the table.
Which leads me to my daily reminder for 2018: F*ck what other people think of you. Do you! I loved how the book reinforces self-reflection and unapologetic enlightenment. In regard to the “What do you do? Or want to be?” question kids are always asked, Michelle Obama says that clouds the true vision. “This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path - the my-isn’t -that-impressive path - and keep you there for a long time.” It’s to say...yes, of course, we should all have flawless resumes, but its OK to fail and fall hard. I felt so horrible knowing that I failed at working in the editorial space after being laid off after 6 months of hard work - coming in early and leaving late. Deep down though, I just wanted to work at the reputable publication instead of focusing on my own. Which in the end is all I had and it worked out because Violet Summer Zine has been my saving grace.
Negotiate your salary and ask for more. I’ve had a few experiences with salary negotiation. During one salary negotiation experience, I woke up one morning with my face swollen! I was stressing over the situation for weeks and I guess it was too much stress for my body. Days prior before my blow up, I started itching violently at night and I don’t have a history of irritated skin. So when I finally sent the email to even discuss my salary to my boss, I was sure I’d pass out from fear. My heart skipped a beat when I finally sent the email. An email! To be clear, my salary anxiety had developed from past bosses frowning upon me asking for more. Then I read how Mrs. Obama negotiated her own salary in her late 20s/early 30s and it made me upset, angry and also enlightened. Angry, because my salary inquiries came out of a need, not a want or a sense of entitlement. Yet, I was made out to be some ungrateful millennial on more than one account all because I needed money to live. Mrs. Obama recounts when she too had to ask for me, she says, “it became clear that if I wanted to join the tribe, I’d have to negotiate my way in, asking for exactly for what I needed in terms of salary...I couldn’t be shy or embarrassed about my needs.” Yassss I absolutely love this part so much I highlighted the paragraph with a pink marker. She basically told her employer how much she borrowed to attend her prestigious universities and how she really needed to live on a certain amount that equated to a salary in order to do the job and excel at it. In the end, her employer gave her what she negotiated and she worked twice as hard knowing her employers valued her worth. After reading that, it made me feel better I too had done the same thing when negotiating a raise!
It’s OK to ditch mediocre boyfriends. For whoever needs to hear this: dump abusers and overusers! The young doyenne of black style taught us early on that it’s okay to date and if you don’t really like the person, dump them. She reminded us that marriage is ideal but if you don’t get that feeling of love then why waste your time?!
Barack Obama. Do I have to write anymore? In this book, the reader gets a full glimpse inside of the genius that was our 44th President of the USA. He is smart, kind, and a family man. But Michelle lets us know that she’s running the ship. She’s that black mom that does everything for her family and is unapologetic when it comes to her girls. I love that she made her children’s bedtime at 8:30 PM and stuck with it, even if her husband was running late. Not to mention, the way he proposed! Ahhh! It made me think about how this family is aspirational as they too financially struggled and was not shy at moving in with parents to catch a break with rent!
Am I good enough? Yes, you are. As a recurring mantra in Mrs. Obama’s narrative, readers are forced to step into her shoes. She truthfully recounted situations were the “aim I good enough?” question tried to block her from her full potential. She basically says she wouldn't have succeeded as First Lady had she not had hardships. With a career, it was finding something that she could be happy doing every day. At home, she wanted to give her girls the same love as her parents gave her growing up. The “Am I good enough?” question proposition is REAL. It’s a question that everyone’s had to deal with at some point. It’s unavoidable.
Her style evolution is BEYOND. As the First Lady, Mrs. Obama knew she would be scrutinized for everything she wore, yet she stayed true to what she knew best choosing items she knew would send a unique message. Her commitment to wearing up & coming designers was rewarded amongst magazine editors and she also lifted these now family but then new designers and brands’ notoriety. I thought it was gossipy to read about the intricacies of what went on in her dressing room, yet I loved it! A dressing room just sounds so chic and old world! We witness how this cinderella woman becomes a real princess that has morals and courage and strength.
There’s no escaping politics these days, whether attending a local not for profit/ community organizing group or keeping up with Congress on the news, the importance of voting in the general election is everywhere. The energy inspired me to make sure I vote via absentee ballot or in person but stay up to date with what’s going on in my own community. Although, I can honestly say I’ve always been this civically engaged. Especially when it comes to community organizing - I was a junior block captain in Philly when I was 13! However, that quickly changed as I became more of a millennial, more into fashion and blogging and of course, social media! And now recent polls have shown that millennials are known for not showing up to vote which translates into statistics that basically mean we don’t care about “democracy.” This recent article published by Business Insider titled, “College students say they can't send in their absentee ballots because they don't know where to buy stamps” is proving to be true for millennials and GenXers at least in Virginia. For those reading who really don’t know, you can buy stamps at the Bodega. However, it’s not the full story. And to keep informed and participating, I went to a free event on Eventbrite hosted by The People's Forum.
During the 3- hour event hosted by organizers of the Poor People’s Campaign, they went over the agenda about changing the narrative for what poor looks like in America. After the group reviewed the data, most of us were not surprised to learn that 140 million Americans are low income or poor, and that number can drastically increase when people’s individual debt is added. This quickly turns into a problem with voting because a lot of the people in these demographics don’t have the time to deal with the system; they are focused on surviving, paying bills, providing for family. It goes far beyond access to the internet when the system doesn’t even rely on the internet to actually work. For example, the fact that I had to print out and manually fill in my absentee ballot, to be eligible to vote is archaic. Has Congress heard of type form?
As I listened passionately to the woes of the Poor People Campaign (founded by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968) , I wanted to relate, and I did relate. To the community, I explained the tedious process of registering to vote in the state of New York after being a resident for five years. Also, all my ids were expired so a government state ID was the quickest way to register to vote in New York. However, to get an ID, it requires five forms of identification, including a birth certificate or social security card, passport, a utility bill, a debit card, another piece of mail postmarked 90 days, a credit card, a pay stub among other documents. These documents were really hard for me to gather. Blockchain should be considered for this verification process, seriously. At the last moment before the DMV attendant dismissed me, I threw a piece of plastic aka a credit card under the DMV reception desk, separated by a glass window. I was elated to have even qualified! Ahhhh, I would finally be registered to vote in New York. But in retrospect, it’s no wonder many people don’t have a state ID and aren’t registered to vote. If we can vote for the next American Idol on our cell phones, why can’t our elections do the same?
This conversation is TBC, however, if you’re interested in voting for the General Election next month on November 6, 2018, here are a few things you need to know.
You have to be 18 years of age to vote, duh.
You have to be registered to vote at least 30 days before an election. If you have a state id or driver’s license, you should be automatically registered to vote in states like Pennsylvania and New York.
If you are traveling or out of the country, you have to apply for your absentee ballot (view here ASAP) by mail, then wait for your actual ballot to be sent to you like a week before the election. You must then, send your ballot back to your country before…
If you live internationally, you can still vote!
The rules to vote are different by the state when it comes to parole, jail, etc. In some states like Florida, you can’t vote if you’ve been a convicted felon. However, in California you can still vote if you have a record, but not currently going through jail time.
You can only vote in one state. In other words, don’t stuff the ballot box. If you have a driver’s license in one state, and a regular ID in another, chose where you are going to vote.
In many states, your John Handcock or your signature makes legitimizes you and your vote. Make it count.
Sanity Addiction Part 3 is dedicated to domestic violence and the issue that is still taboo in the urban community.
Sanity Addiction Part 3 tells the story of a young black girl from Philadelphia named Princess who is at a turning point in her life. She is presented with a new opportunity to attend fashion school in New York so she takes it with the financial help of her boyfriend, who gets sent to jail for presumably selling drugs. Princess ends up ghosting him, quickly adopting a whole new life in New York. And you know that means, the young inspiring fashion stylist starts dating the wrong guy even though at face value he is charming and has a respectable job; he ends up becoming her abuser. I was inspired to tell this story from my own upbringing and having women share their own stories. When you’re in an abusive situation, it’s ultimately a struggle. I’m most interested in the reasons why these individuals stay in the “relationship” until it “gets better” in their own eyes. In general, their strength is as identical to many women in history who have stayed quiet. However, in the #MeToo era enough is enough.
It has become increasingly important to talk about issues that are affecting all of us as more of us go public. It is these stories that I feel most empowered to write about in Sanity Addiction, which is published in Violet Summer Zine. According to a report released by the Hotline.org, “females ages, 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.” Just this year, I knew it was still a big issue because of the many young women in my network have either experienced or know someone closely experiencing violence in their personal lives, me included. I have also connected with women who have created nonprofits like BMoreLoved.Org, founded by a young woman who is passionate about helping women navigate the complex legal system when dealing with domestic violence situations. She, too, has also experience domestic violence and was able to escape the situation before it was too late. TIME IS UP. The more we talk about this nasty truth currently plaguing our community, the more it will help put an end to misogyny.
Lastly, domestic violence is ultimately ruining and limiting women to live up to their full potential at home and in the workplace. 4 in 5 victims are females experiencing abuse from their male intimate partners. We already know that it is a huge issue but why isn’t anything being done to stop it? It’s a cultural phenomenon. And more importantly, I would like to know why this issue isn’t serious until someone dies or someone’s life is on the line?? Rihanna is one celebrity I admire because she went through a very public domestic violence situation and she never went back to her abuser. Sadly, a large percentage of women do go back due to financial reasons as well as a mental block disguised as love.
Yes, statistics show that nearly 33% of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner. Growing up in Philadelphia, I knew a woman who was murdered by her supposed boyfriend at a nightclub. I was at her home the night her life was taken by a jealous boyfriend. She left behind a small baby and a 6-year - old daughter who became very angry at her mother who was not around anymore. So it’s not a joke when other people’s lives are involved and there needs to be stricter laws that deal with not only the abuser but also provides mental counseling for the victim.
For more information please visit https://www.thehotline.org to get involved and learn how to approach and deal with various domestic violence situations.
Read Sanity Addiction for Princess’s story.
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.
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.
Like Harlem, I found the memorial in front of Louvre intriguing yet sad at the same time. A place that is supposed to be beautiful, wrought with despair. But everything that’s beautiful is not always good for you. From Harlem to Paris, is a series of articles written about my first time in Paris and my experiences and awakenings thereafter.
When your crush starts to text you back, you’ll realize what you are texting is probably just your own fantasy regardless of whatever else may ensue afterwards.
On a mild Thursday night in downtown New York, IVY Connect, the social network university, hosted a conversation with the CEO of FEED Lauren Bush about how social business has become a way of life for companies.
Unbound, a high-end sex accessories shop and monthly subscription box based in New York City, is disrupting and breaking the stigma with buying sex and self-love toys online and in style.
Zuri Marley hosted her family's launch party of Marley Natural, a high-end line of smoking accessories. Dozens of smoking enthusiasts gathered at The Standard Highline's gift shop to celebrate and test the launch of Marley Natural. Guests were treated to rolling tobacco demos by Marley Natural reps, as Zuri and her crew entertained the small crowd with smiles. But of course, It's not a party until someone blazes against the host's will, and how can you not given the fancy tools?! Check out some photos of the event with a cameo from Issue 2 of Violet Summer Zine...
In this special Behind-the-Scenes moment, the Violet Summer Zine collaborators sent Kish a 35MM disposable camera from Duane Reade in hopes of creating something a little exciting when it comes to snail mail, diy, and photographer. Nicole suggested this art direction since our photo shoot budget was like none existent (ask Devin), a tight printing deadline and Kish was touring Russia, which is where my zine she gave me was all about! This feature will definitely be returning in Issue 3 of the zine, wonder who we'll send a 35MM disposable camera to next! Not to mention, it took me forever to develop the film (again, Ask Devin) and come to find out there's a Walgreens that develops film in one hour right in Times Square!
Designs by Human decorated a New York City apartment full of books and beauty products into a chic holiday escape.
(Tap for the next photo)
From the romantic countryside of Italy to the gritty streets of New York City, Valeria in the City reminds Mel Writes why New York is so magical.
367 days away from You!!!!!
My “mind” journey to NYC starts every time I come back home, ‘cause I keep on being there!
Do you wanna feel like a real new yorker? Follows my tips on the city and remember that NYC is not only the Empire State Building, the charging bull at Wall street or the Times Square lights. So take the subway, feel the city, walk as if you were in a terrible hurry.
This past September was my 13th visit and I still never get used to it.
“How is it possible?” people ask me. And I respond, "It's because NYC is not just a city, it’s a variety of cities in one; it depends on the neighborhood you are in, that has its own soul."
Nobody could, for example, compare SoHo to UES, or LES to Chelsea. Completely different!!
And talking about Brooklyn, aren’t Dumbo and Williamsburg different from Carrols Garden or Red Hook?
Have you ever been to Red Hook? Oh, I think you should. No subway to get there. Just take the water taxi at Pier 11 at South Street Seaport.
As soon as you approach IKEA, you feel you’re in another world (where is Manhattan?!), back to 50’s! No traffic no crowd but one of the best seafood you can eat enjoying a stunning sunset: the sun is just in front of you and so is Lady Liberty.
Keep this in mind: every place you go, it recalls you that you are in NYC ‘cause you can see the skyline or the Empire or the freedom tower from many points in the city.
If you want to admire the Manhattan skyline just go to Roosevelt Island by tramway; (it seems you can touch by hand the Queensboro bridge) or go to Williamsburg.
I went there on a Saturday morning and I was so lucky to be there during the Smorgasburg, a flea food market.
Grab something to eat and look at the East river park just in front of you in its glory beauty. The east river seems to be there as to divide 2 worlds. You are there and I’m here!
And what about a walk at Mott street, going from Nolita to Chinatown. Everything is slower down here.
Take your time making shopping among the little vintage shops and sipping a coffee and tasting a cupcake at Little cupcakes, a bakery not famous among tourists and trust me it makes everything much better…
“How do you feel when you stay in the city?” difficult question to answer … I feel one and nobody, I feel like everyone else, I can act as a posh lady who lives in a beautiful penthouse in Park Ave., who goes to Bergdorf for shopping or to Sant Ambroeus for a brunch with her friends talkin’ about the next charity event; I could feel like a model who walks in SoHo in her biker shoes or a business woman who is having a cocktail after work, before taking her subway train to come back home…
NYC is this and much more and you know what???? The most important thing to me is that I feel I’M ONE OF THEM!!!!
Valeria in the City
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Ashley Smith is the November face of Playboy Magazine and is bringing a whole new vibe to the iconic highly suggestive movement.