Leon Shipp Belt is an award winning video editor and motion graphics artist. Growing up in Baltimore, Leon was destined for the visual arts. Whether Belt was drawing, painting, or learning to develop his own film in a makeshift dark room at home, he has always been creative.

 Belt took his passion to Howard University where he studied television and film. After graduating, he moved to New York City to work at MTV before pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts at Rhode Island School of Design. Driven by his desire to craft images and tell stories, he freelanced for HGTV.com as a photographer, and worked as a video producer helping astronauts, artists, and humanitarians develop their messages; before working at ESPN as post-production video editor.

Why would you need a poet to make things more complex? Two whinos can make things more complex. -Gil Scott Heron

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Being a creative person can often mean translating personal pain into art in order to illuminate issues and affect change in society. But whether it be Jazz, hip-hop, or spoken-word: our art is consumed like junk food, but never really digested. How many platinum rap albums articulated the inequities and police brutality broadcast from smartphones last year? Were people just waiting for the chorus, or didn't they hear that there were real problems that hope couldn't change?
My outlook this year is that we look at Black history month as more than just a sugar high, and that we sustain a conversation about Black lives that celebrates our accomplishments.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

Working in television, finding inspiration is easy these days. There is so much great work out there and so many platforms to access it. I'm visiting sites like motionographer and art of the title a lot to see what's going on in the industry. Recently, I've been inspired by Mr. Robot, Ava DuVernay's documentary the 13th, and by countless videos on Vimeo.

To Learn More About Leon Visit:

Photography by Erin Robinson

Photography by Erin Robinson

Creative Visionary Erin Robinson is a Fashion Designer by trade, and a trained fine artist from Parsons School of Design and the Corcoran School of Art.  Erin decided to re-invent herself after taking a sabbatical from corporate life, and started her new business, Brooklyn Dolly.  The name of the business comes from a nickname from her grandmother and from residing in Brooklyn.   
Her day-dreamy, magical imagination is inspired by travel, color, texture, the feminine shape, and the many shades and coifs of Brooklyn. Robinson has had her illustrations featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Village Voice among other publications.  She is currently working on her first illustrated book, a period piece focused on the civil rights.  

Photo of sisters in Rwanda from a trip I made; I feel the togetherness, love, and strength in the power of this photo.  Photography by Erin Robinson

Photo of sisters in Rwanda from a trip I made; I feel the togetherness, love, and strength in the power of this photo.  Photography by Erin Robinson

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

This year I feel like more than ever Black History Month is important due to the political climate of our country and the world.  Its more relevant to be seen and heard as Black people, and make sure our power is coming across.  Social media is a great tool to promote people, and push our power forward.  I also feel like Black History is 24/7, 365 days a year, and although its good to call awareness once a year, it's something that's happening all the time.


Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

I am extremely visual, so inspiration comes everywhere for me.  I sometimes amuse myself and use my imagination, my childhood, and the people I surround myself with as an influence for my designs.  I often gravitate towards the strong women in my life as inspiration: my mother, sister, and friends, and all of these different shades and strengths of women. In the the majority of my pieces I have drawn the lotus flower,  similar to the phoenix it represents rebirth, rising from the dark into the light. 

I also get the best education through travel, my passport stamp.  The best money I can spend on myself is travel because it makes me feel inspired by people watching and experiencing other cultures.  I find it's so important to connect with each other, so many of us don’t want to connect anymore.  I need to hear other people’s connections, and I want my work to be tangible and feel it.  I am such a passionate person you need to hear me, not read my words.

To Learn More About Erin Visit:


Teri Johnson is the creator, host, and executive producer of Travelista TV, an online video network with a focus on travel, culture, lifestyle and entertainment.  Known for her spontaneity, jovial personality and her ability to present travel and lifestyle advice and experiences to all demographics, Johnson is recognized as a global travel expert. Her commercial appeal has lead to national advertisements, web series, and online campaigns with FordHonda, and Choice International Hotels.

Johnson is also the founder of the Harlem Candle Company.  A business which grew out of her passion for crafting artisan candles at home. Exploring the rich history of the Harlem Renaissance, Johnson named her collection after icons like Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington. With such a clear focus, Teri pursued a manufacturer and developed a team in the US to produce the Harlem Candle Company that you see today. 

Currently, Teri works with hotels and destination venues to create videos that explore the people and culture in countries all over the world.

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Recently out of all of the years, this Black History Month means the most to me.  I am ambassador for the Harlem Renaissance through my brand the Harlem Candle Company; by educating the consumer on the Harlem Renaissance like talking about Josephine Baker and how her story is still relevant today I am participating in Black History everyday. 

This month also means celebrating Black culture today, and being in touch with our ancestors and what they did like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglas.  Lately, I’ve been experiencing and watching documentaries and learning from their resiliency and seeing how it translates today. I've been thinking about words from Frederick Douglas,

Be not discouraged. There is a Future For You...The Resistance encountered now predicts hope...Only as we rise...Do we encounter opposition

and the message to continue to resist and then seeing those same phrases being used today to protest this current political environment.   We have to keep resisting against the hate of this administration, and keep pushing forward. 

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Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Create This Year?

My travels have always inspired me.  Traveling is more than just something I like to do, it’s necessary for me to create and to see other cultures and new experiences.  I have been to 66 countries, and at this point it's more important to me torevisit them; its not about the number of places, but its more about going back and re-exploring a place from a new perspective. I love traveling to a place I've been to before and then go to another area of the town and stay in a new hotel or try a new restaurant.

I’m originally from Texas, and next week I go to Mexico. This was the first country I visited, and returning to it now is really special to me. Plus, I love the food and the culture, so I am sure to comeback with some great new ideas to share. 

To Learn More About Teri Visit:

Photography by Emmanuel Hahn for Arq

Photography by Emmanuel Hahn for Arq

Anthonia Akitunde is the founder of mater mea, a platform for Black women at the intersection of career and family. Raised in Kansas City, Missouri on a healthy diet of books and magazines, her decision to become a journalist was practically inevitable. After graduating from the University of Chicago and Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Anthonia moved to New York City to further her journalism career, freelancing for The New York Times, Fast Company, Fortune.com, and The Root before launching mater mea in 2012.

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

I think increasingly Black History Month has become Black Future Month for me. Instead of looking back at the mainstays of our history—Dr. Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, the Civil Rights Movement—I've been engaging in outlets and institutions that have one foot in the past, paying homage and respect to where we've been, and the other looking at what we need to move forward. Now is such an amazing time to be a Black creative, and I'm constantly inspired by what I see coming from all over the world.


Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Create This Year?

I recently had the opportunity to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and was very moved by the stories of Black women's groups that acted as church, bank, doctor, therapist, babysitters, professors, business coaches, and sisters for their members. The National Association of Colored Women’s motto "Lifting As We Climb" has become the focus of my own platform's mission.

To Learn More About Anthonia Visit:


Recently named two of Charleston's 50 Most Progressive in 2016, Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves are the dynamic duo known around the globe as the curly-haired Cocktail Bandits. The full-time Charleston Ambassadors met in their political science classes at the College of Charleston.  Now, with their booming hospitality business and self-titled Cocktail Bandits blog, they promote female empowerment through advocacy for the food and beverage community from a feminine, urban perspective.


The curly ladies, who talk cocktails daily, educate and entertain their growing blog audience through their own original cocktail recipes, promoting the craftsmanship of other bar professionals, and sharing their experiences at foodie events all around the Holy City and beyond. The Bandits were recently featured on PBS's Moveable Feast with Chef Sean Brock and Chef BJ Dennis and in February's issue of Essence Magazine. Johnny and Taneka have also been featured on Sirius XM Radio online, Metro UK online, Charleston Wine & Food Festival, Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and several other regional publications.

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Black history means several things to us. First it means empowerment. We have to be models and advocates for people of color. We have to remind one another of our excellence and not tear each other down.

Black history month is also about education. We need to learn more about our history of the past and we also need to know more about African-Americans creating history today. We inspire and aspire each other to do better so we must pass this information around as much as possible.

Black history month is also about embracing our blackness, our story and being proud of where we come from. If we were proud of our past, we can definitely build a better future. We were oppressed for a very long time, and still are the front and center of pop culture. We create trends, always have, and we will continue to do so. We are the only people who don't know our power. It's time to learn.

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Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Create This Year?

We are finding inspiration from everywhere! Our biggest outlet for it is social media. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have open doors to all types of creative minds. We have met artists, designers, musicians, restaurant owners, and awesome bartenders on the social sites. We see people that are aspiring to do everything under the sun. The more we search the more we want to create.

We also find inspiration in our beautiful city of Charleston. We don't see a lot of women, especially women of color, doing what we do in the food and beverage industry. We want to see more people of color in this field. To provide service for someone is an honor, but we only see our brown counterparts in the back in the kitchen. We need to see more upfront, serving and bartending in the industry.



To Learn More About The Cocktail Bandits Visit:

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Born and raised in New York City, Saudah Saleem is an award winning interior designer, wife and mom of 5 children. She is passionate about design and enjoys working with clients to create a look for their home that truly reflects their style and personality.  Her goal as an interior designer is to help clients refresh, renew and re-imagine their living spaces with comfort and style.
Greatly influenced by her love of fashion, culture, art, and history, Saudah loves using pattern, unexpected color combinations and a mix of both elegant and eclectic design elements to create an aesthetic that is both sophisticated yet approachable.

Saudah’s design expertise and work have been featured in both print and online media outlets such as Ebony magazine, AphroChic, HGTV, the Olive Guide, Sisters magazine, House of Fifty, MSN.com, CocoaFab, and Azizah magazine.  She has worked with retail brands such as HomeGoods, the Home Depot, IKEA and Rugs USA. 

Saudah also writes her own design blog, sharing home design inspiration, styling advice, and helpful solutions to common decorating challenges.  When she’s not dishing about design or helping clients revamp their living spaces, Saudah is juggling "mom duties" and tackling DIY projects in her 1920s Brownstone home in Maryland.

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

As the daughter of socially conscious parents, my childhood was filled with lessons and stories of the legacy, strength, faith, excellence, creativity and ingenuity of our people.  As such, Black History Month in our home was just an extension of what we learned and discussed year round.
I have always been motivated by the idea that all of who I am and the work that I do is a reflection of those who came before me, those who persevered through unimaginable difficulties and whose sole motivation was the hope that their progeny would live a life they could have only dreamed of.

 "I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams."

This statement is one that has truly inspired me this month.   I imagine the generations before me that sacrificed and literally prayed for me to be who I am.  How can I not honor their sacrifice?  As a mother, I spend this month instilling in my children that same sense of both honor and dedication to pursue excellence.  It is important to me, now more than ever, to reiterate to my children who we are as a people, our journey, the importance of living your truth; defending the rights of those threatened by injustice and honoring those who have come before us by embracing our amazing legacy with pride and sharing our culture with the world.   

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Where Are You Finding Inspiration Today To Design This Year?

Lately I’ve been drawing inspiration from the past.  I really love finding new ways to use traditional pieces in unexpected ways. The curated mix of old and new elements creates such an authentic, not easily reproduced, design aesthetic.  I infuse the mix of old and new with a dash of fashion and global inspired décor (a nod to my love of fashion and travel) for a custom look that is both inspiring and stylish.

To Learn More About Saudah Visit:


Martina Dodd is a DC based art historian and curator. Her concept driven shows have touched on topics relating to race, gender and power dynamics.  She is intrigued by the ways in which value is placed on art, and seeks to examine the social impact material culture has on society.

Dodd holds a MA in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas from the University of East Anglia, and a BA in Anthropology and International Studies from Johns Hopkins University.  She is one of the founding editors of DIRT, and has recently curated shows for DC Arts Center as well as Prince George's African American Museum and Cultural Center. 

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

This year in particular Black History Month is all about recognising the diversity of Black excellence and achievement on our own terms and through our own lens. The adinkra symbol "Sankofa" comes to mind during this month, which symbolises the proverb "go back and fetch it." The proverb reminds us that we can not move forward without learning from those and what has come before us. So this month (and really every month) we should take the time out to learn from our collective experiences and cultural past to build upon what has already been done. This time of the year should not be just an isolated incident where we honor our ancestors.  It should also serve as a reminder that we stand on the shoulders of giants, and we too should be consistently lifting up each other.


Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Curate This Year?

I seem to find inspiration in things or images that force me to think harder or stare longer.  Like Renee Stout's assemblages which are tangled in personal and historical narrative or Kerry James Marshall's portraits which are layered with meaningful imagery and symbolism. I am inspirited on the daily by other young black women artists who challenge me to dig deeper through my art. I find inspiration in the dog-eared pages of my aunt's old novels by James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and bell hooks. And I recently found inspiration on the brightly colored streets of Havana along with the heavily patterned textiles of West Africa.

To Learn More About Martina Visit:

Richard ‘Rich Blk’ Mkoloma has an extensive fashion design background and is a creative trouble-shooter, who has provided creative advisory and design services for the likes of African Fashion International, Adidas Originals, We Are Parable, Napapijri, Hussein Chalayan/Puma, Puma Lifestyle, MO SAIQUE and Sean John to name a few. Tasked with strategic creative and innovative design, Rich has delivered highly regarded global brand concepts and apparel collections that bridge the gap between high fashion, lifestyle and sportswear.

Richard has delivered workshops and presented at key public events including The Dandy Lion Project, TedXEuston Salon, Amnesty international and the Africa Fashion Guide. In 2014 Rich was honoured as a leading designer by the African Society at Cambridge University, and sat on the first ever creative panel at the London Business School’s, African Business Summit.
Committed to growing future talent and creative skills, Rich works with charities, schools, social/community organisations and start-up businesses. He has worked on projects that use design process, creative direction and poetry to positively impact the next generation of talent and provide them with skills and tools that enable them to advocate on issues and pursue their personal goals.  Rich has developed fashion training programs in Aruba for arts/education program ‘Art Rules Aruba’ and the RBKC. He has also led a process of facilitating creative writing workshops UK-based women’s rights charity FORWARD for young women across England around the issue of FGM; where he conceptualised and produced a youth-authored poetry book, professionally-designed graphic poster series and curated a series of Art Exhibitions. Rich has also mentored students across two Secondary Schools for the social organisation ROK/Reach out 2 Kids.

Photography by Agenda at www.visualmarvelry.com

Photography by Agenda at www.visualmarvelry.com

Being a true creative polymath, ‘Rich Blk’ is a ‘Spoken Word Hip Hop MC’. Rich’s concept-driven approach to poetic lyricism celebrates the UK's creative community and progressive music scenes and offers a fresh perspective on addressing personal and social subject matter while reflecting his cross-cultural upbringing (Barbados, Malawi and The UK). His writing and music seamlessly merges the worlds of Hip Hop, Afro-Electronica and Spoken Word Poetry.

Rich Blk’s music collaborations include projects by T.Roy/Broadcite, DJ Psykhomantus, Son of Dan and CDR and he has performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Sadler’s Wells, The Albany, ICA and Africa Centre to name a few. Rich has also graced the stage in New York, Amsterdam and Sydney and featured on Vox Africa, OHTV, Channel 4, BET, BBC Radio 1Xtra and Bang FM. His poetry has been published in print; ‘RED: Contemporary Black British Poetry’ anthology (Peepal Press) and ‘IC3: Contemporary Black Writing in Britain’ (Penguin - under the nom de plume, blkmale). His journalism & photographic commission include Soobax, Africa Fashion Guide, Lets Be Brief, Black British Blacklist and Parlour Magazine and others.

28 tastemakers - on blk history month

28 tastemakers - on blk history month

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

I never went anywhere
I’m here,
standing in front of mirrors that lead their own lives
but move like me at the same time.
Different strokes but sibling in their swagger.

I was a yesterday that they forget
while shielding eyes from a light so bright
they squint.
While shielding eyes from a light so bright
they scowl,
in order to avoid the stare of Baldwin’s pain.

360-being me!
The refrain.
They 180 - turn backs,
lacking desire for comprehension.
But in my defensive they find offensive,
not the bridges over fences  
constructed anew
cluttered with roses that protrude from concrete blues.

I am tomorrow in technicolour,
bathed in contemporary flourishes
that outlive the second and the tenth
speckling the remaining ten with tales of guts and glory and gore that endure.
That always endure.

  28 tastemakers - family family

  28 tastemakers - family family

Where Are You Finding Inspiration Today To Create This Year?

Yinka Ilori and chair workshops . Johannesburg street style . London . Endrime . Son of Dan & Dziko & Enji . @stiilSheRises . @getUpStandOut . ThinkLikeAnArtist.com . ChaleWote . @keyzuz . “contemporary Hip Hop Dance’ . Benji Reid photography . SabolaiMusicFestival . Nomadic People . maXhosa by Laduma . Black Panther comics . African textile traditions . Sci-Fi . Ta-Nahisi Coates . Mr Hare . Hip Hop . Bloody talented friends!

To Learn More About Richard Visit:


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Huntress & Shopkeeper, Ariene C. Bethea is fueled by her thrill of the hunt!  Her design style is heavily influenced by her mom’s flair for mixing Hollywood Regency, Mid-Century, Chinoiserie and African art into spaces. Growing up in a home infused with art and culture has influenced Ariene's eclectic casual style, and her playful use of patterns and color.  
While working toward her dream of a brick and mortar, Ariene co-founded Elle & Bae, named BEST in CHARLOTTE for their curated high-end furniture and home decor boutique pop-up shop events. Years later, she co-founded The Olive Guide Magazine, a digital shelter magazine showcasing designers and creatives of color -- the first of its kind.  Ariene was also a regular contributor to Four Magazine interviewing Interior Stylist & HGTV Design Star Emily Henderson and Interior Designer Nikki Chu.  And while working as Lifestyle Editor for Charlotte Style Magazine, Ariene created a regular series called "My Favorite Place" featuring homes of local Charlottean bloggers and socialites.
Originally from Washington, DC, Ariene holds a Master's in Management Communication from Emerson College in Boston, MA and a Bachelor's in Corporate Communication from Elon University in Elon, NC.

Located in Charlotte, NC, Dressing Rooms Interiors Studio offers an artistic collection of designer and designer inspired vintage home furnishings in fresh color combinations and graphic patterns mixed with ethnic pieces (African, Asian, Indian, Italian and Moroccan) for a soulful feel. Our favorite pieces have warm woods, worn leathers, fretwork, faux bamboo, brass and chrome.

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

The prominent and crown like presence of The National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall, means that our American history is finally being told.  The stories that have been left out of history books for generations and never taught during BMH are being shared all year long, and not just in February is the greatest gift. Lead designer David Adjaye being chosen to design the NMAAHC is history by itself and should be celebrated.  

Where Are You Finding Inspiration Today To Design This Year?

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Lately I’m drawing inspiration from vintage art, specifically pieces from the 1960’s.  The color combinations are amazing!  Jewelry is another huge source of inspiration, especially finding clever ways to place it in a room.  The classic look of black and white will forever be a favorite, and I enjoy finding new ways to layer pattern on pattern.

To Learn More About Ariene Visit:

Danielle Colding was born in New York City and is principal of her own firm, danielle colding design, inc. She has made consistent appearances on television and has been featured in multiple media outlets internationally.  Danielle has worked on many high profile projects from home interiors to commercial spaces. She works closely with charities such as The Ronald McDonald House and DIFFA.
With a degree from Stanford University in cultural anthropology and African American studies, Danielle also has an associate’s degree in interior design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles. After several years working with other prestigious New York firms, she formed her eponymous firm in 2006. An avid traveler, Danielle’s roving eye, and love of different cultures, informs each of her projects.







(Reference photo below) My favorite author James Baldwin; his works shaped my college experiences when I first really leaned about African American history in depth. His ability to speak to our collective experience with such wisdom and beauty was always inspiring. It is a tremendous comfort to me that he has come back to the forefront during this truly challenging time. It feels like kismet that I Am Not Your Negro has been released this year.


James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.

James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Black history month has always been a time for reflection for me. It has also largely been a time to connect with my peoples and go to some great events celebrating our culture. This year, however, it has taken on a whole new meaning. Given the current climate, celebrating black history month feels like a political act. It feels like protest; it feels like affirmation; and it feels like pride. This year I am reflecting on our collective history in a new way. I am looking at it from the perspective of reliving many of the challenges our ancestors faced. So I am taking this Black History Month to go back. I am taking time to reread texts, to revisit art, and to remind myself that we are a people who know struggle and who know triumph. This year our past is in our present more then ever. We are part of this historical continuum. And I, for one, am looking to the wisdom of the past for guidance. 

Where Are You Finding Inspiration Today To Design This Year?

This year, I too am finding creative inspiration in looking backwards. I am feeling inspired by design that evokes a sense of history. I am over trends and am not particularly interested in what's new. I want to go back. I am in the market for things with grit and soul. Right now new and shiny look garish and inauthentic. I am on the hunt for items of substance and objects that tell stories. And as always, I am filling in any blanks with travel.

To Learn More About Danielle Visit:

Rochelle Porter has never met a blank surface she didn’t want to draw on. A lifelong lover of global design traditions, the Atlanta-based artist takes cues from the breezy hues of her Caribbean roots to create her designs.  She is also influenced by the stark simplicity of Scandinavian prints, and the bold geometrics of West African weaves to create vibrant, eye-catching textiles for the home décor and apparel markets. Her travel-inspired patterns feature joyful, unexpected burst of color and classic motifs with a modern twist.


Upon learning of the unethical and environmentally hazardous labor practices of today’s globalized “fast fashion” industry, Rochelle nearly abandoned her dream of becoming a designer. That is, until she figured out that style could also be sustainable.  Combining her passion for patterns with her commitment to social responsibility, she formed Rochelle Porter Design (RPD), a lifestyle brand specializing in thoughtfully made, eco-friendly home and fashion accessories.  



True to its tagline, “Design for abundant living,” the company believes everyone along the value chain should have a chance to live well—from the farmer who picks the pesticide-free organic cotton for its textiles, to the customer who puts them on her sofa. RPD prioritizes fair pay, environmentally safe manufacturing, and the use of organic and recycled materials whenever possible. Additionally, a portion of the company’s proceeds go to organizations that help human trafficking survivors and displaced families rebuild their lives.


Rochelle has been featured on In Her Shoes blogs’ Holiday Shopping Guide, Black Southern Belle and mybrownbox.com’s Brown Girl Boss Owned Businesses to Support in 2017 and Beyond list. RPD’s playfully sophisticated products have been sold at West Elm, on Zuvaa.com and in local boutiques.


When I think of Black history, I think of this iconic photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics.

When I think of Black history, I think of this iconic photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics.

What does Black History Month mean to you this year?

This Black History Month is an ideal time to celebrate the cultural Renaissance that's been happening. Twenty sixteen had its share of ups and downs, but it was a banner year for African-Americans in creative fields. From design to film to television, Black artists have been consistently producing thoughtful, brilliant, groundbreaking work, and this is only the beginning. I'm also encouraged by the fact there are more Black men and women in positions of power in the arts and entrepreneurship than ever before, guaranteeing us a seat at the proverbial table.


Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

I recently discovered South African photographer Trevor Stuurman on Instagram and Tumblr. He manages to make his subjects look simultaneously casual and exalted. Many of his photos feature layers upon layers of bright, almost garishly colored prints that seem like they should clash, but they never do. He's a true aesthete and a risk taker, and his work makes me want to be more daring with my design choices.

Inspirational images by Trevor Stuurman:

Who Inspires You?

Lucille Clifton, one of my all time favorite poets continually inspires me. Her work is wise, incisive, and a little bit cheeky. A friend of mine posted on of her poems on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and it's kinda been my theme for 2017 thus far:

i am running into a new year
i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen and
twenty-six and thirty-six
even forty-six but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me



To Learn More About Rochelle Visit:



AuthorAngela Belt
Anishka Clarke and Niya Bascom

Anishka Clarke and Niya Bascom

Ishka Designs is dedicated to creating "efficiently beautiful" minimalist interiors for its hospitality and residential clients globally. Led by the duo, Anishka Clarke and Niya Bascom, its style can be described as clean, modern, eclectic and simplistically beautiful.  The company's approach to all projects is highly responsive to the stylistic and functional needs of individual clients allowing for a very diverse portfolio. Project experience includes hospitality, multi-use retail, and healthcare while residential projects have taken the company as far as France and the Caribbean.

In 2014, Ishka Designs was listed as a “Next Big Name” in Design by Lonny magazine and has been listed 4 years in a row as a Top 20 African-American interior design firm.  Ishka Designs has enjoyed local and international success and press. The company has been featured on TV's NBC Open House, in magazines such as Anthology magazine, Wallpaper* City Guides, New York magazine, and New York Spaces, and popular online media: Design*Sponge, Lonny, Remodelista and Refinery29.

Gondar Priests - Ethiopia, West Africa by Niya Bascom

Gondar Priests - Ethiopia, West Africa by Niya Bascom

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Prefer to call it African History Month.  It represents the past, present and future.

Africa coral - Jamaica, W.I. by Niya Bascom

Africa coral - Jamaica, W.I. by Niya Bascom

Where Are You Finding Inspiration Today To Design This Year?

We always seek inspiration from the natural environment, but are increasingly inspired these days by different cultures and how they can potentially influence our approach to design.  This is not just about pretty things, but observing a community’s way of life and cultural practices, and the impact these have on the functionality, usability and simplicity of their systems.

To Learn More About Ishka Designs Visit:


Keita Turner is an interior designer who creates enduring fashionably classic designs. As a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Turner has an extensive background in both fashion and interior design. Her award-winning full-service firm, launched in 2000, offers expertise in residential and commercial interior design and has produced environments for numerous high profile clients across the country.


It was a highlight to see Turner’s recent interview with the International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., air January 1, 2016 on the AKA Network, for the second season of “Conversations”. In 2015, Turner was invited to endorse and promote The Home Depot products by partnering with both the home improvement retailer and Ebony Magazine to create custom Best Dressed Home national advertorials that ran in the spring and fall of 2015. In 2014, Turner was invited, along with a handful of New York City's top interior designers, to unveil stylish room vignettes on the new 9th floor furniture gallery at Macy's Herald Square. Since 2013, Turner has been invited to join New York City’s most popular interior design fundraising event - Housing Works’ Design On A Dime benefit, as a featured top designer, charged with creating unforgettable room vignettes. Since 2011, Keita Turner has served as a member of the Interior Design Committee for Young Collectors Night at the 58th, 59th, 60th, 61st , 62nd and 63rd Annual Winter Antiques Show and is recognized as one of the country’s finest designers on a committee chaired by Wendy Goodman, Design Editor of New York Magazine.

Turner's work received Honorable Mentions in the 2012 International Design Awards (IDA) competition for two of her State Farm Agency commercial office projects. Named the 2nd prizewinner of the 2007 International Design Awards (IDA) for Residential Interior Design, a runner-up winner in The Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute’s Prettiest Painted Rooms in America national design competition in 2006, a featured designer in the Essence Magazine Designer Showhouse in 2005, featured in a group exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Summer 2005, and inducted into the African American Design Archives (AADA) at the prestigious Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Turner has been featured and quoted in print and online publications including The New York Times, The New York Times Style Section, Elle Decor, New York Spaces, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, New York Cottages and Gardens, New York Post, Curb NY, New York Social Diary, Ebony and Essence, as well as seen on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BETJ and AKA Network broadcast channels.

Turner has added home décor product design to her repertoire, with her fashionable vintage and contemporary pillow collection, Livvy & Neva.


(Referencing the above photo) This photo vignette of an interior space within my home is peaceful, quiet and still.   But, at the same time, it is confident and strong.  This moment...this gallery wall of art and objets d’art inspires me.  In particular, sometimes I find myself just staring and gazing at this drawing of a young African American woman in the 1930s - 1940s, by Harry Pink.  It’s funny, but I gaze at her gazing off somewhere else.  I wonder what life was like for this black woman back then?  What were her aspirations and dreams?  Was she happy?  What was she contemplating?  This drawing of this black woman represents introspection for me.  If only this women knew that one day her portrait would provide inspiration to another young black woman way off in a future generation, probably still reflecting on some of the same concerns that still impact black women today.

Black Woman Portraits_VariousArtists (clockwise from top): Guarn In Contemplation, by B. Toler Turner (my mother), Oil on Canvas, 1982 Study of Edith, by Dominic Avant (a former RISD classmate of mine), Oil Painting Untitled, by Harry Pink, WPA Era African American Portrait, Pastels on Paper, c. 1935-1943 Green Tea, by Kadir Nelson, Oil on Canvas Self Portrait of me, by Keita Turner, 1986/87

Black Woman Portraits_VariousArtists (clockwise from top):
Guarn In Contemplation, by B. Toler Turner (my mother), Oil on Canvas, 1982
Study of Edith, by Dominic Avant (a former RISD classmate of mine), Oil Painting
Untitled, by Harry Pink, WPA Era African American Portrait, Pastels on Paper, c. 1935-1943
Green Tea, by Kadir Nelson, Oil on Canvas
Self Portrait of me, by Keita Turner, 1986/87

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Black History Month is a time for celebrating the phenomonen of being black.  It is an occasion to commemorate our extraordinary and exceptional history. During this period of Black History Month, I am reminded to celebrate and share – Our allure.  Our brilliance.  Our creativity.  Our endurance.  Our legacy.  Our magic.  Our power. Our resilience.  Our wealth.  

Black History Month offers the opportunity to recognize our ancestors who suffered immeasurably, sacrificed everything, resisted and protested endlessly for our freedoms, privileges and rights that many of us exercise today.  It is also a time for observation and introspection of where we come from, where we are today and where we plan to be in the future.  I believe we should familiarize ourselves with and support our black brothers and sisters (and not just in the month of February) who are and will continue to push forward the remarkableness of our long history of our black presence on this planet earth.

The contributions of black people to civilization, is something all people, especially blacks in the diaspora should know.  We should know our history.  We should know all of our history, even the forgotten, the hidden, and the lost history.  And most importantly, we should be making and continuing to make history.

When I think of black history, I also think of the influences of black women, both the conventional and the noteworthy.  In my opinion, black women have had a significant impact on the world.  To me, black women are the embodiment of life, light and love.  We are smart and possess ingenuity, although sometimes underestimated.  We are empowered, although some may be confused thinking we are disempowered.  We have unique point-of-views and stories to tell, although some may try and cut or omit us from the narrative.  The truth is, we are beautiful and we shine.  We are indestructibly strong and we thrive.  We are driven hard-workers and we climb.

Black Woman_FigurativePaintingsArt_BTolerTurner Various Artworks and Paintings by my mother depicting colorful images of black women and girls through her lens / point-of-view

Black Woman_FigurativePaintingsArt_BTolerTurner
Various Artworks and Paintings by my mother depicting colorful images of black women and girls through her lens / point-of-view

Where Are You Finding Inspiration Today To Design This Year?

As an interior designer and product designer, I find inspiration to create and design from a variety of sources and places.  My original design background in fashion design and genuine love for fashion will always influence how I approach interior design.  My exposure to the visual arts, initially through my mother, a fine artist, and then through my formal art school education, cemented my love of art museums.  I get some of my most exciting inspiration from art exhibitions at galleries and art museums.  I could design an entire space around colors found in a favorite painting!  Travel, whether it is local, regional, national or international, can also lend itself as a great source for design inspiration.

To Learn More About Keita Visit:


 Photography by Kibwe Brathwaite (kibwebrathwaite.com)

 Photography by Kibwe Brathwaite (kibwebrathwaite.com)

Tanya Marie Williams-Rhule is the Principal Designer and Brand Consultant at ‘Studio Tanya Marie’ — a boutique design studio located in Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies. She is also the Founding Creative Director of the Caribbean Creative lifestyle brand and online publication, Designer Island.  Designer Island curates the Modern Caribbean Aesthetic by sharing the work and stories of the creatives changing the way the world views Caribbean Design.
Designer Island was first developed in 2011, as a blog spot blog with an interest in understanding the idea of the ‘Caribbean Aesthetic’. Tanya started by interviewing some of her Caribbean creative peers, documenting their views and opinions on the blog, until these conversations as well as the team eventually outgrew it's original blog space and the content was moved to it’s own website, designerisland.com in 2014.
Now this blossoming online publication continues to curate ideas of the Modern Caribbean Aesthetic, with a growing list of collaborators who are passionate about presenting the diversity of our Caribbean Identity through creativity.

 Photography by Michele Jorsling (michelejorsling.wixsite.com/folio)  The work of Jamaican artist, Jasmine Girvan Thomas

 Photography by Michele Jorsling (michelejorsling.wixsite.com/folio)  The work of Jamaican artist, Jasmine Girvan Thomas

(Referencing above image) It was very difficult to choose one photo for this, but easy to select the topic or rather person’s work that not only means something to me when I think about Black history, but also when I think about a person who’s work inspires me tremendously and that’s the work of Jamaican artist, Jasmine Girvan Thomas. Her work is inspired by Black artists and writers both Caribbean and international and so much Black history. She infuses all this knowledge and all these ideas with her life and her feelings and material and sculpts art and stories. Every time she creates new work I feel so blessed to be able to look at it and admire it, and even more blessed when I get to read or hear her speak. She is magic. Her works brings out so much emotion in me as a black women, and I am not fully equipped to speak about her or her work in ways that would do her justice.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Well, first off, I should state that I’m not American and ‘Black History Month’ does not apply in a Caribbean content or resonate in the same way that it does for Black Americans.  As an Afro-Caribbean woman living in Trinidad, most of us are Black, Indian, Chinese or mixed with much smaller percentages being white. Trinidad specially at first scan comes across as almost 50/50- African/Indian. As Caribbean people we also often know more about American history than much of our own history due to media saturation. American media pervades our lives from Sesame Street all the way through to adulthood.  So Black History Month while not celebrated or paid much attention to here is still something we notice in February.

I can say though that as a young educated Black woman in the Caribbean, I have a huge admiration for the significance for the month. I love when informative ads come on the television about Black History and that the internet has created all these wide open windows for me to view Black American culture. I admire how social media is being used to bring more awareness and self love to and for Black people and it does affects us here. Things from the US trickle down to us. Whether we like it or not the US is an example that a lot of people follow. We see the affects later on, years on; which makes what’s currently going on in the US scary and in many ways necessary…

Photography by Kibwe Brathwaite (kibwebrathwaite.com)

Photography by Kibwe Brathwaite (kibwebrathwaite.com)

Who Inspires You To Design Today?

I know it’s super corny to say this but whenever I’m asked who or what inspires me the most, the most honest answer is always my family and it’s not that we’re so close that we talk all the time and know each other’s business. We’re not like that kind of close. But it’s that I know without a doubt in my mind that they are always there for me. If I fell tomorrow they’d be there holding me up and they are the only people I think of when I think of who I want to make proud. My husband isn’t in this picture but he is very much a part of that crew that inspires me, that makes me want to do better daily and create better.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration Today To Design This Year?

I’m one of those people that sort of lives online and in books, bt I’m not an academic or anything like that; I’m more of a consummate observer. I have digital and physical scrapbooks and I’m forever ‘moodboarding’ in my mind. I’m that person that goes to jog around the Queen’s Park Savannah at home or goes out by myself just to ‘people-watch’ more than for the actual activity that I’m there for.
Lately a lot of my inspiration comes from books, often not design related, documentaries on Netflix and Instagram! (I’m a bit obsessed with Instagram but not for the selfies! :) My book wish-list outweighs my clothing list, and the secret image saving option on Instagram holds all my inspirations, wishes and dreams!

To Learn More About Tanya Visit:



AuthorAngela Belt