Style blogger, social media specialist and digital media maven Christina S. Brown is a New York native and the founder of fast-growing lifestyle destination LoveBrownSugar.com. Recognized everywhere from The New York Times to Essence Magazine as a top lifestyle blog, LoveBrownSugar.com focuses on fashion and beauty for multicultural women with an emphasis on self-empowerment.

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With backgrounds spanning from luxury retail to online editorial and fashion & beauty PR, she started off her budding career attaining a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia. She’s attained a wealth of experience from over 6 years of digital media experience in fashion, editorial and PR.

Christina is adept at driving online buzz and brand recognition through social media and is recognized as an influencer in her field. She’s worked roles for a number of renowned national brands including SAKS Incorporated, BET Networks, editorial outlets Honey Magazine, UPTOWN Magazine and VIBE Magazine, Siren Public Relations and more conceptualizing and implementing highly successful online editorial & social media campaigns.

As a digital influencer, she’s participated in campaigns from major consumer brands like Ford, Covergirl, Neutrogena, Capital One, Dove, Strength of Nature, Sunglass Hut, JCPenney, Reebok, My Black is Beautiful, and many more.

She is a valued contributor to digital and print properties like Essence Magazine and People Style Watch Magazine and is frequently featured online and in-book for her expertise in beauty and style for women of color.

Christina S. Brown has been heralded as a “30 Under 30 Style Maven” by HelloBeautiful.com, a “Black Blogger To Watch” by TheRoot.com, a “Top 40 Style Blogger” by Essence Magazine, a Black Enterprise Magazine “Blogger Month” Honoree, and a Wharton Magazine “Social Media Watch List” Honoree among other accolades.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

 A group of black owned business owners that I curated for my Shop LoveBrownSugar event

A group of black owned business owners that I curated for my Shop LoveBrownSugar event

Black History is about the past, but also about the future.  It's so important to highlight and remember those who have come before us and have passed the baton to us.  Right now as a Black mompreneur, I am living proof of my ancestors' wildest dreams.  My BrownGirlsLove POWER Day  conferences are crafted to cater to millennial women of color looking to turn their dreams into reality. Our panelists provided guests with tips on everything from thriving under 30 to being a mompreneur, developing a successful podcast, branding yourself and even preparing for life after college.  I am actively paving the way for other Black women like me to create brighter futures together through colloboration and supporting one another. 

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

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My kids inspire me each and everyday.  It's my love and passion for my children that has propelled me to quit my day job, and invest my efforts full time into my brand Lovebrownsugar.  I also focus on empowering other mothers of color and their children through my two other endeavors Baby Brown Sugar and Brown Girls Loves, which focus on celebrating and embracing the journey of motherhood with beautiful brown babies.  

To Learn More About Christina Visit:

  • Website: LoveBrownSugar.com
  • Website: Babybrownsugar.com
  • Website: BrownGirlsLove.com
  • Instagram: @LoveBrownSugar
  • Twitter: @LoveBrownSugar
  • Facebook: @LoveBrownSugar
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Stacey Blake, the mother of 3 took a creative leap when she went on a hiatus from her teaching career. She discovered blogging and would later create her own blog, Design Addict Mom to showcase her design work and share the latest in design news and trends. Stacey is known for her fearless use of color and patterns to create vibrant and beautiful spaces. Her work has been featured around the web and in printed publications such as Better Homes and Gardens.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Black History Month should be celebrated year long but unfortunately that is not the case. This month is necessary to tell our story/our history with our children especially in the schools, and to celebrate our accomplishments. I like this quote from an article written by Danielle Fuentes Morgan that I read recently, "Until the limited view of history and of who gets to be an American undergoes a significant change, like saying "Black Lives Matter," we need to specifically claim a space for Black history."

 Born into slavery in 1797, Isabella Baumfree, who later changed her name to Sojourner Truth, would become one of the most powerful advocates for human rights in the nineteenth century. ... She continued to speak out for the rights of African Americans and women during and after the Civil War.

Born into slavery in 1797, Isabella Baumfree, who later changed her name to Sojourner Truth, would become one of the most powerful advocates for human rights in the nineteenth century. ... She continued to speak out for the rights of African Americans and women during and after the Civil War.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

Though this has nothing to do with design, I wanted to mention Tarana Burke who has been a champion for victims of sexual harassment and assault. She has been a pioneer committed to this cause long before the #metoo movement. She is undoubtedly an inspiration.

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For design and being a highly visual person, I am inspired by everything around me, but a lot of my inspiration comes from nature and my travels/other cultures.

To Learn More About Stacey Visit:

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After receiving her undergraduate degree in English, Emerald Lavender traveled to Misawa, Japan where she taught English As A Second Language. Over those 3 years abroad, she acquired a true admiration for the Japanese people, their delicious cuisine and rich culture. Her love of the written word took center stage when she returned back to the United States and began writing for fashion and entertainment magazines, but her true passion was found in the colors and textures of interior design.  She has written for esteemed publications such as Architectural Digest and popular websites such as Design*Sponge. At East Coast Home & Design Magazine, she interviewed architects and composed articles for luxury homes and mansions.

In June of 2017, she launched The Pineapple Pen, a copywriting company that aids lifestyle brands in attracting their ideal customers through highly targeted content. The Pineapple Pen Blog highlights the accomplishments of interior designers of color and celebrates their amazing contributions to the design community.

 

 

 

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

 Although Obama's presidency is over, I still feel an overwhelming sense of pride for him and his family. They were not only examples of black excellence but resilience.

Although Obama's presidency is over, I still feel an overwhelming sense of pride for him and his family. They were not only examples of black excellence but resilience.

  Eartha Kitt & Sammy Davis Jr. in one of my favorite movies,  Anna Lucasta .

 Eartha Kitt & Sammy Davis Jr. in one of my favorite movies, Anna Lucasta.

It's all about progress! I am constantly seeing black excellence across social media. I feel honored to be apart of a narrative that is empowering our people to be forward-thinking, inventive and creative. Today, there is an influx of black entrepreneurs and creatives utilizing their gifts and talents to create wealth for themselves and their families. There's been a mindset shift from looking for jobs to pursuing passions that allow us to create our best work.

 

 

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

 This is a nature shot I took in my neighborhood in Boca Raton.  I have always imagined myself living in a small cottage surrounded by gorgeous flowers. It represents peace to me. 

This is a nature shot I took in my neighborhood in Boca Raton.  I have always imagined myself living in a small cottage surrounded by gorgeous flowers. It represents peace to me. 

I find so much inspiration in viewing different interior designers work. I enjoy studying the different interpretations through each person's lens. Whenever designers mix and match a myriad of styles together, I absolutely love it! I'm really feeling the Bohemian vibe these days and would love to have a house that resembles a jungle on the inside! I also love the modern design aesthetic for its defined shapes and clean lines. A few designers that are inspiring me now are Jeanine and Bryan Hayes of AproChic, Angela Belt, Tamu Green and Stacy Ann Blake.

To Learn More About Emerald Visit:

 

 

 

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Jecks is an eclectic interior designer and a mother of two, who set up Persona Abode Interiors to specialise in designing eco-conscious residential interiors.  The focus of her business is to design for everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status and support world causes.

Her appreciation of interior design comes from the experiences of being terrified to step into her own home. Having endured occurrences of domestic violence, through the eyes of a child and also as an adult, she understands how the sanctuary of home crumbles when you no longer feel safe in the environment that you live. Understanding that this loss alters how you feel about yourself, and how you interact with the world, Jecks creates our most personal environments that we inhabit as a way of uplifting the individual.

Having come from a long background in building conservation and recycling management, Jecks is not swayed by just aesthetics. Architecture and the environment are important to her creativity. She is unimpressed by the idea of consumer trends, as it doesn't sit well with carving out your true design style or design experience. Rather than being sucked into the vortex of designing client’s home for the sake of fashion, Jecks concentrates on providing a sensory experience that benefits their well-being, whilst also honouring the planet.

Believing that the profession of Interior Design should be held accountable for its participation of unethical practices, Jecks pursued studies in vegan design, becoming a “certified cruelty” free designer in 2017. She is one of the first UK designers to do so, and will use this knowledge to pass on to clients and fellow designers.

Jecks is passionate about making design accessible to all. There’s a notion that interior design is a mere luxury for the rich and this idea comes at the exclusion of the majority of the population. Everyone wants a home for shelter or to be able to navigate through spaces without losing their dignity. Therefore, Jecks is always on the look out for independent companies that contribute to strengthening its local economy, businesses with a strong ethical stance as well as those who care about the pools of communities

  Nanny of the Maroons   Jamaican National Hero, was a well-known, 18th-century leader of the Jamaican Maroons. Much of what is known about her comes from oral history, as little textual evidence exists. She was born into the Asante people in what is today Ghana, and escaped from slavery after being transported to Jamaica.

Nanny of the Maroons

Jamaican National Hero, was a well-known, 18th-century leader of the Jamaican Maroons. Much of what is known about her comes from oral history, as little textual evidence exists. She was born into the Asante people in what is today Ghana, and escaped from slavery after being transported to Jamaica.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Black history Month is in October in the UK, rather than February. However, the recent roar for equality has amplified the aim of getting recognition for the work and talents within the Black community. So I see Black History Month as a valuable instrument for change.

For me, it’s an opportunity to learn about the diversities of the Black experience, and build up positive perspectives to pass on to future generations. Passing on that knowledge is really important to me and fuels my desire to create.

 

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

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I’m greatly intrigued by our interaction with the planet, so it’s a given that nature continues to be one of my strongest influences. I’ve a mad fascination with reigniting our connection to the outside world through rituals, cultural practices, and sound right now.  

 

To Learn More About Jecks Visit:

I was born in the DC area to an American mom and Ugandan dad. They met in Germany. My mom worked in various design, diplomatic, and managerial capacities, and traveled the world all the time. My dad ran (and still runs) his own medical clinic in inner city Baltimore, in a systemically undeserved community. I fell in love with architecture as a kid, and my favorite pastime was going to model home open houses with my mom. I went to undergrad for a bunch of things, eventually graduating in art history and Spanish. I moved to NY three weeks after graduation and worked in architecture firms before returning to grad school for urban planning. I love urban planning, but it didn't address my compulsion to design, so I eventually started xNasozi (xN for short) two years into a social justice philanthropy career. Even though I am technically in a design field, social good underpins my work, so it's convenient now to have this term "social entrepreneurship" to explain what I do. I also recently relocated most of my entire life to the DC/Baltimore area where I grew up. It didn't impact my business operations so much, but it has taken me some time to connect with the likeminded business community here to stimulate my inspiration and business innovation. I am a designer, but I am also very much a businesswoman, so that's actually been a really fun discovery and reason to meet new people!

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

  American Gothic by Gordon Parks

 American Gothic by Gordon Parks

Black History and pride is something that imbues pretty much everything I do, so it's hard for me to think of it in terms of a single month. As a whole, I think the month is a platform for to highlight mainly the cultural aspects and contributions that Black people have made on a larger scale. I would also like to continue finding ways that expand Black History month narrative beyond the United States of America. The commonalities and contributions of Black people all over the world are astounding.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

I have a few international trips planned this year, and I plan on being inspired by those! I'll be in Cape Town, Accra, and possibly the South of France. It will be my first time to Ghana, and France outside of Paris, so I am very much looking forward to experiencing those landscapes, cityscapes, architectures, and cultures. Until then, I spend a lot of time in Baltimore City, and there is so much unexpected and underrated inspiration here. I mostly enjoy the murals tucked away down unsuspecting alleys, and the layers of mismatch paint as they peel off of old brick buildings. The organic color combos alone are inspiring!

To Learn More About Nasozi Visit:

 Tupac and Matisse, and the artist behind this piece, Elise R Peterson

Tupac and Matisse, and the artist behind this piece, Elise R Peterson

Laura Tully is an expert wardrobe stylist, blogger and professional model. Her passion and infectious energy allow her to connect with her clients beyond the perfect outfit—through style, she helps each client celebrate individuality in a modern, refined way that fits their lifestyle. Laura has been featured in Sunset Magazine and Belong Magazine, and consults with corporations to develop their company's professional image. As a wardrobe stylist, her goal is to show clients that style can fuel real confidence and be delivered in a fantastic outfit that’s all you. Laura lives in Boise, Idaho with her mountain man hubby and adorable stepdaughter.

 

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

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The culture of fashion and style continues to be stuck in a “one-size-fits-all” mentality when it comes to body shape and skin color. I've witnessed a small shift in acknowledging this issue, but only on a micro scale. For me, there’s so much power that comes from seeing images that not only represent what I look like but also allow me to see what I can become. As a black woman, I don't want my natural hair or skin color to be a trend that gives cultural giants a check-the-box-and-we’re-done mentality. It's about acknowledging that black women exist and that our desires and expectations are as diverse as we are. In all the areas I find myself stepping into, I will choose to be an advocate for women of color and all backgrounds, who demand a seat at the table because they have earned it.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

In so many places! I'm inspired by Hiplet. It's this beautiful bend in the art of ballet created by the work of Homer Hans Bryant. It reminds us that you can create and infuse all that makes you unique into whatever space you desire. I'm inspired by brands like Aerie, Target, Nike and Dove that show women of color and celebrate our beauty. I'm inspired by the bravery of activist Tarana Burke’s #metoo movement and the need to openly discuss and dismantle cultural norms about gender and sexuality, violence and even sexually charged so-called humor. I'm mostly inspired by the women I meet every day who are driven to show up and do their part in how we change this world--and that's a beautiful thing.

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To Learn More About Laura Visit:

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I am a stamp-carving, pattern-making, color loving, Africa-dreaming Imperfectionist. Otherwise known as a Nigerian-born, America-raised Textile Artist and Surface Designer. I’m also a Wife and Mom of 3.

I came to America when I was 13 in the mid-80s and have been here ever since. I have always been a creative person, always making something. I also have a passion for Interior Decor. Having been uprooted from my home country, I have always been exploring the concept of ‘home’. I believe that ‘home’ should be a soft place to land, and a comfortable and joyous place to be.

I stumbled into Textile and Surface Design when I took a printmaking class in college. I realized the satisfaction of creating a motif and having it immediately turn into a tangible piece of fabric. I naturally gravitate towards African/African-inspired looks. As someone who really loves color, I love to drench my designs in bold color. I believe in inspiring joy with my design work. Beyond fabric, I am currently exploring 3-dimensional applications of my motifs.

I started doing what I do because I wanted to see something different from the usual prints and patterns I see in home decor. I love the geometric, imperfect shapes of African prints. As yet, this aesthetic seems to be enjoying some popularity, and the vision is being realized, but I think there is still room for more. I aim to bring a fresh perspective to this market with my work.

I am also branching into sharing the knowledge that I have amassed through all my research. I believe knowledge should be shared so that it can be expanded upon. I share block-printing and textile design tips and techniques on Instagram, my blog, newsletter, and soon, ebooks.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

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I have a somewhat complicated relationship with Black History Month. As an African who does not share the exact cultural history as Black Americans, I sometimes feel like I am performing blackness. I exist in this space and have the same societal realities, therefore I appreciate, respect and understand the need for Black History Month. Also, my children are Black, and will not/do not have my perspective. Black American history is relevant, and important to me because without the work put in by Black American ancestors and forbears, I would not enjoy the freedoms I enjoy today. This year, and every year, I reflect on the bravery that it took to overcome all that they did. I try to honor that history and legacy by striving for excellence for myself, and demand it for my family, year round.

 

 

 

 

 

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

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To be honest, and not to be corny, I am constantly inspired by my children. I have a soon to be 17 year-old daughter, and 14- and 11-year old sons. I admire in them all the things I see as shortcomings in myself. My daughter is highly intelligent, thoughtful, stylish and graceful. My middle son is an amazing Artist. He decided when he was about 10 or so that Art was his calling, and he is single-mindedly focused in his pursuit of bettering himself. My youngest son is so sweet and innocent. They inspire me to keep pursuing my dreams, because by showing them what is possible, it will never occur to them to think that there is a limit to what they can achieve.

I am also inspired by my late mother. She died when I was 9 years old, so I never knew her as an adult. In a way I have lionized her, but I remember her as being the epitome of style, grace, and class. I try to live up to that.

Creatively, I am so inspired by all the creativity I see on the ‘Gram, especially Black creatives. We are not afraid of color! I am constantly amazed by human creativity. I think I have finally reached a place where I can be inspired without comparing myself. It wasn’t easy, but I have learned to follow my own path, no matter what others are doing.

I am super inspired by all the Nigerians doing it big in the realms of entertainment, art and design. Nigerians are enjoying a popularity right now. Instagram has even released a filter called ‘Lagos’! This is big! I love this because when I was growing up, the Arts were not seen as a viable career path, at least not in my socio-economic background. We were only allowed to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, full stop. I love that we are bringing our culture and language along and putting it on center stage, dispelling stereotypes. 

To Learn More About Yetunde Visit:

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Eva Sonaike is a London-based interiors and lifestyle brand creating luxurious textiles, home décor and accessories with a distinctive and vibrant West-African aesthetic.

The company’s ethos 'Bringing Colour to Life' is reflected in its signature collections of cushions, bags, stationery, fabrics and furnishings using textiles designed by Eva Sonaike, combined with the finest velvets and leathers. Emphasis is placed on hand finishing, distinct designs and high quality manufacturing.

Creative Director Eva Sonaike graduated with an MA in Fashion Journalism from the London College of Fashion, where she specialised in contemporary African fashion and textiles.
She then pursued an editorial career working as UK Fashion Editor for Hubert Burda Media for six years, working for titles such as German Elle, InStyle and Focus.

Eva, who was born and raised in Germany and is of Nigerian origin, has taken the best elements of those two cultures to inspire her work – her designs draw from the two distinct influences of colourful African clothing culture and European antique and mid century furniture traditions.
With textiles expertly printed in Germany and products manufactured in the UK, the luxury range boasts a breath of exclusive designs that bring a touch of African luxury to any setting.

Eva Sonaike’s products have been stocked in department stores such as Liberty, Fenwick of Bond Street and Selfridges in London, Globus in Switzerland and ABC Carpet & Home in New York, as well as in exclusives boutiques around the world; and are regularly featured in UK and international interiors and fashion press.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

To me, Black History Month means being unapologetic about celebrating the achievements, the struggle and beauty of our black culture. It is about strengthening and celebrating our community and passing on knowledge and pride!  We have such a diverse culture in the Diaspora and for us black people here in the UK there are different challenges than for our brothers and sisters in the US.

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I grew up in Germany in the 80s and 90s and there is a strong black community, but up to now the challenges they are facing is different than what is going on here in the UK.  But I think the common denominator is to confidently celebrate our achievements, feel confident and strengthen the community, wherever we are on this planet.

But I always think the ethos of Black History month should be applied throughout the year. So supporting black businesses, giving opportunities or advice to people, especially youngsters, who would otherwise struggle and for me personally, creating work that celebrates the beauty of Africa and trying to establish this on the international mainstream market

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

The continent of Africa first and foremost inspires my work. And in my case West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Benin) – the places that I visit regularly.  I travel to Nigeria at least once a year and every time I am out there I am like a sponge, taking in as much visual information and energy as I can.

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Colours, clothing, nature, street-scenes, architecture – everything is so vibrant and intense in this part of the world and this feeds my work. But it is not only the visual inspiration in West Africa that influence my work. It is also the positive energy and vibes, as well as the allover confidence I feel when I go home. I think to be in your natural habitat, where, despite the noise and the chaos, I feel the closest to myself, has a major impact on my work.

On the other hand, when it comes to finishing and the way I run my business, I am very much inspired by Germany. The quality of  German craftsmanship and the way Germans structure their thinking is amazing.  Growing up in Germany exposes you to quality and that is what I apply to my products. We use British cotton velvet for the backing of our cushions, the finest Italian leather for our bag straps and I make sure the packaging of our products fits in with our branding and looks immaculate.

To Learn More About Eva Visit:

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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.
 

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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: