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I am a self-taught photographer specializing in custom lifestyle photography. I capture lots of love (weddings and elopements), candid family moments,  and some bangin' brands too!  When it comes to photography my goal is to convey a sense of place, personality, and most of all the essence of a moment! I love the Sunday mornings of life and believe that everything God has made is beautiful! I'm here to capture all the beauty God creates along with those authentic and genuine connections! Oh, and I love to laugh (that deep belly laugh). So, when you're around me get ready to giggle a little...or a lot too!

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Black History Month is all about the celebration of a culture and triumph for me.  I'm black and proud 365 and I'm proud of my heritage and flavor each and every day. I celebrate who I am each day, but as we all know, America is built on the backs, blood, sweat, and tears of African slaves and for years that went unrecognized. So, for a month to be dedicated to acknowledging our contribution to the US and the world it means a lot to me.

The image above by James Karales, Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965, 1965. This image inspires me because there is so much power in one candid shot. This one image is a complete story in itself. So much hope and power in one shot.

The image above by James Karales, Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965, 1965. This image inspires me because there is so much power in one candid shot. This one image is a complete story in itself. So much hope and power in one shot.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

This shot is one of my personal faves! Black girl magic is oozing out of this image.

This shot is one of my personal faves! Black girl magic is oozing out of this image.

I find my inspiration in everyday life and authentic human connection. So far this year, I’ve been really inspired by the flow of dance. I love the flow and connection in dancing.

To Learn More About Sirena Visit:

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Crystal White launched her career in 1993, attending the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. She received the CFDA Award in 1997 while only a senior in college for promising/upcoming new talent.   White was recruited out of college her senior year to work for popular brand Abercrombie & Fitch before graduation, quickly rising to senior management within 3 years.  She has been in leadership roles  in various successful brands in Menswear, Womenswear and Childrenswear including American Eagle Outfitters, Suitsupply, Ralph Lauren Club Monaco, Ali Ro, and Osh Kosh B’Gosh before landing a coveted position as a Design Director for Donna Karan/DKNY, where she is currently.

 

 

 

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

my favorite illustrator is Normal Rockwell.  Every time I see this photo, it melts me.  It’s called “The problem we all live with” painted in 1964.  It speaks for itself...

my favorite illustrator is Normal Rockwell.  Every time I see this photo, it melts me.  It’s called “The problem we all live with” painted in 1964.  It speaks for itself...

After 20 years in the industry, this year 2018, is the first time that any of the companies I’ve worked for have acknowledged and supported MLK Day.  It’s significant to me that Donna Karan/DKNY now owned by GIII, recognized and honored this monumental day. It gave me pause and reflection... I felt acknowledged, appreciated and welcome.  Recognizing and celebrating the lives of Blacks in American history is important for all Americans, not just minorities. It’s very easy to take for granted the rights that many people before us died to secure. Blacks in the Design industry are few and far between.  I have found myself the only executive sitting at the table the majority of my career, but I feel blessed to be here.  So to me it is essential to have an awareness of the past, so that we may truly value and appreciate the blessings we enjoy in the present.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

Art prints that offer creative inspiration

Art prints that offer creative inspiration

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I am inspired by all things...  fabric and texture, nature, music, pop culture, and other designers, but most inspired by contemporary art...   I use it in my work.  Our prints are original designs by different artists all over the world.  Daily motivation is inherent...  I had strong parents, it’s part of my make up.  I am product of a strong talented black, powerful Southern family of God, but I also recognize that what I share with the world is a blessing and gift.  My family and friends have supported  me everyday since I was a young girl.    My children inspire me to be my best self in all things... 

My children Blake & Peyton

My children Blake & Peyton

To Learn More About Crystal Visit:

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AuthorAngela Belt
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A'Driane "addyeB" Nieves is a USAF veteran, self-taught artist, activist, and speaker with a heart for serving others and social good. She's also a mental health advocate living with bipolar disorder, and runs an online mental health support group for women of color called Tessera Collective. She empowers women to transform brokenness in their lives into power and beauty, and amplifies the voices and experiences of those marked as Other in society through her written and visual work. Most recently she was featured alongside Bono as a ONE Campaign activist and volunteer for Glamour Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” issue, where Bono was awarded their first ever “Man of the Year’ award for his work on gender equity and extreme poverty. She believes creating and viewing visual art that addresses themes such as racism, mental health, and recovering from trauma can serve as a catalyst for personal growth and social change. Her work has been featured on BlogHer, Everyday Feminism, Upworthy, Buzzfeed, Mashable, The Fourth Trimester Bodies Project, Sheryl Sandberg's "Option B" platform, and MISC Magazine. Her artwork has been exhibited at Wild Goose Festival, Johnson State College, WORKS San Jose, and most recently at Rare Device in San Francisco. She lives in New Jersey with her robotics loving husband and three boys.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Danai Gurira as the leader of Wakanda’s special forces team, the Dora Milaje/ Marvel/AP

Danai Gurira as the leader of Wakanda’s special forces team, the Dora Milaje/ Marvel/AP

Black Panther (Wakanda Forever). All the Black athletes in the Winter Olympics. Ava DuVernay directing A Wrinkle in Time. Black people across the diaspora continuing to show that the impossible is actually quite doable.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

Ava Duvernay, award winning director and founder of ARRAY

Ava Duvernay, award winning director and founder of ARRAY

The impact of personal and collective trauma, Dopeciety, Toyin Odjih Odutola, Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, Kesha Bruce, Kendrick Lamar and SZA in “All the Stars”, Mindy Kaling, and A Wrinkle in Time.

To Learn More About A'Driane Visit:

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I am a textile artist who creates goods combining cultural consciousness and clean design aesthetic.

I was born and raised in Nyack NY, a small town on the hudson river 45 mins north of NYC with Victorians on the waterfront and a main street of mom-and-pop antique shops. Nyack was where my interest in design and architecture was rooted; as a little girl, I helped refurbish tiger wood oak dressers and art deco armoires with my mother, who tucked handwritten affirmations into mirror frames.

My fascination in “how people live” comes from sleepovers at some truly incredible homes my childhood friend’s mother house-sat during the summer months. Experiencing up close and personal how people I had never met approached their interiors impacted my own sense of style and desire to fill my spaces with inspirational pieces.

With my company rayo & honey, I utilize typography and draw on literature, affirming quotes, and urban pop-culture references to create handmade pennants and other home goods with positive intent, resulting in soulful pieces with a timeless aesthetic. My intent is to create art for people who believe that that there is incredible power in the things we choose to surround ourselves with.

I’m kept on my toes by the wild ride of motherhood and partnership by my 12yr old boy-girl twins and literary editor partner with whom I reside with on the banks of the New York Bay in Brooklyn.

What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

This image for me represents how much Black History there is for me to still discover. I look at this prairie settler couple in the 1800’s often in my phone. There’s so much to consume in it! The crisp clothing, the way this gentleman's hat is slight cocked just so, the baby that is the future, the not so small house behind them and my favorite detail: this free black woman's hand resting on her hip.

This image for me represents how much Black History there is for me to still discover. I look at this prairie settler couple in the 1800’s often in my phone. There’s so much to consume in it! The crisp clothing, the way this gentleman's hat is slight cocked just so, the baby that is the future, the not so small house behind them and my favorite detail: this free black woman's hand resting on her hip.

Celebration of the the Black American experience is practiced in all that I do, 365 days a year.  During Black History month, our voices are amplified to a higher decibel that really should be held everyday. For me, the goodness of Black History Month is discovering and sharing new artists, writers and creatives that may not otherwise be on my radar. I believe by consciously documenting and consuming our collective narratives and individual creative pursuits, we can continue to learn from the past and be prepared for the future.

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

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My great grandmother Rose
mother of Ashley gave her this sack when
she was sold at age 9 in South Carolina
it held a tattered dress 3 handfulls of
pecans a braid of Roses hair. Told her
It be filled with my Love always
she never saw her again
Ashley is my grandmother
Ruth Middleton
1921

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things that has stayed with me & impacted my work since visiting the NMAAH last year is Ashley’s sack. Embroidered by a Black women in 1921 with an account of her great grandmother’s enduring love for her grandmother during slavery is a beautiful heartbreaking testament to who we are as people.

This year I am releasing a new line of home goods. I’ve found that researching design and fabrication has introduced me to so many talented designers. Instagram is my go-to for daily bits of visual inspiration. I’m moved by the subtle details of vintage books. While my work until now has used the written word, I’ve been exploring the graphic design of books by Black presses. I’m looking forward to continuing my research in The Schomburg Library incredible archive.  

To Learn More About Roachele Visit:

Denise Mckenzie-Lee is a Portland based ceramic artist, and the creator of Enkee Ceramics.  After Denise received a gift certificate for a pottery class, she declared that life was too short to eat on uninspiring serving ware. Denise has always enjoyed being creative, and once she explored clay as a medium, her creativity was sparked, and she decided to make a set  of dishes for herself.  From this experience, she transformed this idea into a business to create one-of-a-kind hand thrown serving ware for your tabletop.  Denise is the most happy when I see beautiful food presented in an artisanal way for friends and family gatherings.

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Black history month this year reminds to be proudly Black, to speak up and out loud, to be bold in my Blackness.  I think right now the marketplace is ripe for Black business owners, and being that there are so few Black ceramists in the industry, I know it’s important to get my work and story out there.

 I am constantly inspired by Ava DuVernay

 I am constantly inspired by Ava DuVernay

When I think of Black History, I think of the beaded sista

When I think of Black History, I think of the beaded sista

Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

    I find inspiration in all things rustic, rusty and dilapidated.  I pull inspiration from those weathered and worn objects, and use it as inspiration for my serving ware.  I am also inspired by producer and director (among many other things) Ava DuVernay, who works tirelessly to create new and old stories about Black History.

    To Learn More About Denise Visit:

     

     
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    AuthorAngela Belt
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    Erika Hollinshead Ward is an award winning, published interior designer whose commitment to timeless interiors, lifestyle, and wellness has positioned her to be sought after by both brands and consumers. Her strong foundation in business finance, plus over a decade of design experience as the Owner and Principal designer of Erika Ward Interiors, Erika has combined both to properly educate the consumer on the benefits, both financial and intrinsic, of a well designed home.

    As a wife and working mother of five, Erika has also demonstrated how to achieve success in both work and life. Because of her creativity and sharp business acumen she’s been the choice for national spokesperson roles and brand ambassadorships for targeted consumer campaigns.

    Based in Atlanta, GA she also has spearheaded initiatives that rally other designers and vendors together to bring great design to disadvantaged groups. She firmly believe in the charge of to whom much is given, much is required.

    What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

    Dr. King with his youngest daughter Yolanda. Reminds us that we need to engage verbally with our children and get down on their level to remain relevant and relatable.

    Dr. King with his youngest daughter Yolanda. Reminds us that we need to engage verbally with our children and get down on their level to remain relevant and relatable.

    We should all consider ourselves Black History heroes in our own right due to the fact that we are making history every day. Thanks to social media, our reach now extends much further than our own community. As a present day activist, you can put forth the same effort to influence as our predecessors yet yield exponential results. With each post, we make a conscious decision to choose how we want to be remembered.

    Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

    My Maternal Grandmother, the late Mrs. Onetha Glover Hollinshead (my greatest inspiration)

    My Maternal Grandmother, the late Mrs. Onetha Glover Hollinshead (my greatest inspiration)

    Inspiration dwells among us especially when we engage in new experiences. This year, I resolved to fully explore The Arts in an effort to see the world through various lenses. The Arts range from culinary delights to interpretive dance to the ancient art of perfumery. I can’t wait to see the impact of living life consciously through all six senses, yes six, has on my work in the field of interior design. I’m even journaling my progress.

    To Learn More About Erika Visit:

    Posted
    AuthorAngela Belt

    Riche Holmes Grant is the founder, designer, and Chief Mom behind BambiniWare, a lifestyle brand for moms that designs stylish, functional accessories for the adventures of motherhood. Inspired by her experience as a new mom, Riche founded BambiniWare in her basement while her daughter, Riley, was sleeping. When Riley woke up, she served as BambiniWare’s first fit model. Just a year after its inception, BambiniWare was hand-picked by Martha Stewart to partner with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in the highly-curated Martha Stewart American Made Market.

    Passionate about living and working on her own terms, Riche also blogs, speaks and hosts a web series geared toward women and moms who want to live fulfilling, happy, perfectly-imperfect lives. #TheRicheLife show is a mash-up of everything Riche does in her roles as a mom, wife, entrepreneur, designer, maker, home chef, blogger and all the beautiful parts of her life that make her super rich (pun totally intended!).

    Riche is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Brown University. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and her daughter (now a 5-year-old #miniboss).

     

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    What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

    When my daughter started attending her school two years ago on February 1st, I was shocked to learn that they don’t celebrate Black History Month. It’s an Afrocentric homeschool collective, and I thought that surely Black History Month would be a huge deal. Except it wasn’t. Instead, every day is a like a mini-Black History Month there.

    Students as young as two years old learn about the rich history across the African Diaspora as a part of their daily lessons. It’s really amazing and beautiful and inspiring when you see Black history taught as a way of life, instead of crammed into 28 days out of the year.

    So, this year, that’s what Black History Month means to me––it’s about sharing our experience and encouraging other families to think outside of the month too. And, the best part is that it’s my daughter (now 5 years old), not me, who is leading the charge.

     

    Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

    As a self-taught designer, the learning curve was steep for me, but I wouldn’t go back and erase any of the challenges that I faced in the beginning. Now, five years later, I’m totally in my element. I love being in this creative space, not only when it comes to designing products, but with what I’m doing with #TheRicheLife show as well.

    For so long, I thought everything had to fit in its own little neat box when it came to my life, my career and my family. It wasn’t until I had my daughter that I realized that living my richest life meant getting rid of the boxes. Everything in my life is so beautifully connected now and I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been.

    It’s through this lens of organic connectivity that I draw from all of the different facets of my career and my everyday life as a wife and mom to produce content for the show. From designing a fabulous tablescape, to creating a vision board, to making family-friendly body butter or whipping up an easy meal that tastes great, it’s all there at #TheRicheLife. It’s the most I’ve ever revealed of myself, and that’s a little scary, but at the same time, it’s very liberating to be inspired from within.

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    To Learn More About Riche Visit:

     

    I'm an interior designer living & loving in Raleigh, NC. I'm passionate about living a well-designed life and serving others along the way.

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    I believe every space needs a little bit of vintage + a splash of brass. I'm a southern girl to the core, who loves playing dress up, and that feeling you get in your stomach right as an airplane takes off.

    My blog SingleBubblePop began in the fall of 2007 as a way to catalog my journey from pre-med student to interior design professional. Since then, readers have watched me graduate from design school (7 years later!) and work in residential + commercial interior design. I even made my way onto HGTV. I believe that the spaces we live, work & play in have a great impact on our well-being. 

    What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

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    I'm thinking about all the historic first for black Women this year! Kamala Harris in California, Keisha Bottoms as Atlanta's mayor and Vi Lyles in Charlotte. Black women are resisting in a major way. I think we will look back on this era as a historic moment in our story.

    I grew up in North Carolina where there is an annual festival in Wilmington called the Azalea Festival. One year, I was blessed to be able to attend with a local group of the historic Tuskegee Airmen. I believe I was 14 years old in this photo that my dad took of my sister and me with the Miss North Carolina of that year. As a young girl, you would think that we would be idolizing this beautiful pageant queen, but we were so enamored with this senior men! The stories that they told us about being fighter pilots, and then their subsequent careers as doctors, dentists and entrepreneurs were so fascinating. They truly made me believe that I could make black history just like they did.

    Nina Simone. What can I say? As a little black girl pianist also from North Carolina, Nina represented everything I aspire to be. Limitlessly talented on the piano and an amazing singer/songwriter. Courageous, fearless and style icon. She's everything to me!   

    Nina Simone. What can I say? As a little black girl pianist also from North Carolina, Nina represented everything I aspire to be. Limitlessly talented on the piano and an amazing singer/songwriter. Courageous, fearless and style icon. She's everything to me!

     

    Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

    I'm finding a lot of inspiration from visual artists. Some of my favorites right now are  Malene B, Rachel Stewart, Victor Ekpuk & Allison F. The way they blend colors and create patterns inspires me so much!

     

    To Learn More About Niki Visit:

    • Website: www.singlebubblepop.com
    • Instagram: nikimcneill
    • Twitter: nikimcneill
    • Facebook: SingleBubblePop

    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: