The desire for a healthy body must go hand in hand with the desire to maintain it. There is no quick fix involved in attaining the body of your dreams, but if you’re serious, what you do is constantly seek motivation outside of yourself to keep you fired up! This motivation can come in the form of a coach, workout visuals or even the clothing that you choose to work out in.
Kyle Harvey, 35, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, has masterfully combined his passion for weight training and hip hop to produce an exciting line of fitness apparel, Rack Runners. It all started with a logo concept which was designed and posted on Facebook. The positive reviews of the creativity of his design motivated Kyle to try something different and so he did! He decided to learn digital art and creating unique designs became a passion for him. Rack Runners incorporates the things that have inspired him since childhood; 8-bit art, hip hop culture, streetwear, and the love of food. Rack Runners active wear are available in men’s and women’s sizes, including t-shirts, joggers and hoodies. EBooks and fitness accessories are also available on the website.
Kyle loves staying in shape, and personally trains as if he’s preparing for war, with a mixture of calisthenics and high-paced weight training. This level of discipline has been his mindset even before joining the military and his passion is interlaced throughout his designs. Lots of time, thought, and creativity went into building his vision and this is why each design is either motivational, hip-hop inspired, street wear inspired or foodie- inspired to show a contrasting appreciation for fitness, food and hip-hop culture. “Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever combined streetwear, hip-hop culture, the love of food, and fitness together. This is what I feel makes my brand unique.” The most popular and best-selling designs are those that feature the classic Rack Runners logo, Gym Dropout, and the Slop Gang logo.
Since launching in 2017, Rack Runners has amassed 10k followers on Facebook and Instagram, also being hand selected by Facebook to be 1 of 1,300 members of the Boost Facebook Leaders Network.
Harvey, an Ohio native & Washington, DC area resident stays grounded by reminding himself that there is more work to do to get to where he wants to be. “I am going to leave a legacy that lasts longer than my next generation so I know what’s ahead of me and what I expect out of myself.”
The Rack Runners website also features a blog that will contain information on nutrition, motivation, as well as gym tips. Kyle ships his merchandise worldwide, so feel free to browse his exciting designs! What’s Next? Kyle’s new goal is to create his own gym shoes that rival the big businesses, so watch out for Rack Runners sneaker line!
“Success means finding a goal, acting on inspired thought, and not looking towards building the entire house right away. You start by laying a brick as well as you can then replicate that process until you have reached your ending point.”
Music carries with it a magical energy and most music lovers can identify with the emotional highs and lows they’ve experienced while listening to their favorite genres. Any one who enters the music industry with the hopes of having a successful career must themselves carry an internal energy that their fans can identify with. Music is not so much heard as it is felt. A DJ for example, must be able to ‘move the crowd’. Playing popular tracks and shouting into a mic every now and then just wouldn’t cut it. An artiste can get on a stage and sing a verse that everyone knows and loves, but at at some point the audience must connect with their presence. What is this ‘energy’ that I speak of? It can only be described as an unseen connection that awakens the spirit so that one connects with the music in a spiritual way.
BJ (Blashford Wilkins Junior) carries that energy. Because of this, he has accomplished much as a young DJ hailing from the Caribbean Island of Antigua where he first fell in love with the art form. It all started with him downloading a virtual DJ program and watching some insightful Youtube videos. A 15 year old BJ became quite fascinated and asked his mother for his first set of DJ hardware equipment. As most mothers would be, she was hesitant because teens often change interests with every new trend that comes on stream. BJ was determined, so eventually he was granted his wish. This began a plethora of practice sessions, sometimes for 20 hours daily with short breaks between and this musical obsession became his career. BJ became DJ Quest.
Now 24, he reminisces on the journey from being an Instagram/Facebook DJ and getting booked for school events to regional carnival bookings and opening for Grammy Award Winning Jamaican Artist Koffee, UB40 and Masicka. He was booked for lover’s Choice in New York and as one of his biggest accomplishments to date, he entered the Redbull 3 Style Caribbean Finals in Panama where he placed 2nd among some top hitters in the industry. What sets this musical prodigy apart? He doesn’t force his energy or his vibe. The Magic that moves him comes naturally, and his audience moves right along with him.
DJ Quest has suffered many of the same insecurities as those in careers that depend on a motivated and accepting audience, but his fear of not being accepted as ‘the new kid on the block’ didn’t stop him from staying focused. With a determination to succeed and a love for music itself, he perseveres. He also credits his level focus to the support of his parents and a few select friends who have been his rocks of support. For amazing visuals on his major projects he applauded the creativity and ‘top tier’ guidance and support of @chaso_media. For inspiration, he singled out regional DJ’s like DJ Captain John from St. Vincent, Travis World from Trinidad & Tobago, DJ Puffy from Barbados, DJ Ovadose from Bahamas, Selectah Kerry & Precision Production also from Trinidad and Di Genius from Jamaica. On the International music scene, he admires the creativity and musical excellence of Timbaland & Jon Bellion – “their approach to the music is really really dope.”
His energy and positive outlook are amazing, and as an Antiguan based publication, we are thrilled to learn that DJ Quest has big plans for the island’s music industry. His main mission is to grow the interest in Antigua’s talent regionally and internationally. “Whether it be DJ’s, Producers, or artists, I would really like to see people from my country be included on the main stage in music across the Caribbean music circuit. I want people to know that Antigua is a real force to be reckoned with as it pertains to talent.”
Covid 19 happened to all of us, whether we were infected with the disease or not. For DJ Quest, Covid caused a major delay in many of his plans including bookings he was in the process of lining up in New York, Miami and St. Lucia and his homeland of Antigua. Instead of losing his spark, he pivoted and transferred his energy into music production.
On all platforms this April 7th, He drops his new EP of Antiguan Dancehall called “HomeGrown”. It includes 7 songs he’s produced or co-produced with other Antiguan creatives. We can look forward to energetic collabs with producers like G Slixx, Chippy G and Gozie. It also features songs from Niqko Wyld West, Di Melody Kid, Jay Abnormal, TayNova, Anjie Blacks, Mula Million & Gozie.
He left us with some valuable advice for other black creators like himself:
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The way you feel about yourself… the energy you radiate unknowingly into the world is often overlooked as you focus heavily on the physical, but those around you can sense everything you feel about yourself through your posture, eye contact, tone and even through the way you smell. Are you powerful? Are you seductive? Are you a peaceful soul? A fragrance has a transformative quality that awakens specific emotions in all of us. This is why a young entrepreneur inspired by her own love for heavenly scents puts so much time and effort into creating aromas that are simply irresistible to the senses. Ravon Kelsick, 29, grew up on the Island of Antigua in the village of Cedar Grove, but was born in Bronx, NY where she now resides. Upon her frequent trips back to her childhood home, she recounts always being complimented on the scents she used. The compliments were always welcomed with a smile, but little did her admirers know that these potions were concocted by Ravon herself using a mixture of her own fragrance oils. The constant admiration led her to spend more time brainstorming new aromas and she soon created her very own brand, Heavenly Auras. She began with perfume oils which were each unique and in high demand. The success of this inaugural product led her to begin producing perfume sprays, glitter fragrance oils, mini perfume sprays, home scents, Reed Diffusers and soon, car fragrances joined the line.
“Heavenly Home” is Ravon’s new home and car fragrance line, and it has its own category of fragrances. There are scents like Toasted Marshmallow for the vanilla lover and Paradise Vibes to please the senses of those with a love for the islands. “Paradise vibes is very popular in Antigua…but can you be surprised? Why not smell the scent of paradise while actually living in it?” There are many more scents in tow for the Home line and she is currently still expanding.
When Ravon isn’t busy in the lab, she enjoys spending time with great company, reading and manifesting success for her business. A successful entrepreneur understands the power of manifestation and the ways it can positively transform a business if done correctly and regularly. She has mastered this because in the past, Ravon has had her share of doubt and obstacles that literally threatened to put an end to her business journey. One of her biggest obstacles was operating Heavenly Auras while residing in New York, but she was quick to point out that God blessed her with an amazing team consisting of herself, supportive friends and most importantly, a business partner and mother who believes in her dreams. Ravon’s mother, Verlyn Kelsick is the heart of Heavenly Auras. “I would probably be a millionaire if I had a dollar for everytime I said “I quit, I cant do this anymore” and there she was ready to pick up the puzzle pieces and help me put them back together.” Smooth seas never made a skillful sailor, and through the painful lessons she learnt, she took the time to offer some wealthy advice to business owners like herself; “never give up but at the same time make sure to keep upgrading. Don’t settle, but don’t rush. Products may not look as aesthetically pleasing at first, but trust the process. Once you’re putting in that work, ALWAYS trust the process!”
Ravon is a young black woman with a single mother, raised by a single Aunt in the USA. She was therefore taught what independence looked like at a young age. Independence was all she knew, but now it’s clear that there were many benefits to seeing someone you love face their obstacles, fight and succeed. “I now see the benefits of always having to be independent for it attracted genuine energy and a clan of people who want to see me win.”
One of her aspirations is for Heavenly Auras to become “everything scents” for Antigua. She’s on a mission to become a notable brand in the country she calls home and will eventually make her permanent home. Her mission is to someday add to that country’s greatness. Although Heavenly Auras and Heavenly Home are U.S. based brands, her service to Antigua is at the top of her list of priorities.
Heavenly Auras provides scents for all. The site features fragrances for the feminine, masculine and unisex. Her fragrances can be viewed on Facebook and Instagram and customers in the USA may visit the website to order directly on and Antiguan customers can fill out pre- order forms as well.
BWM asked Ravon to fill us in on some of Heavenly Auras most effective ingredients, but this entrepreneur knows how to keep the magic a secret! We are left to use our imagination as all we were offered was a general description of how her scents are created...in each fragrance you will find the confidence, strength and super magical aura that this strong black woman has within her!
Nefertum was the “god of perfume” who was originally thought of as a man with a pleasant blossom on his head. In ancient Egyptian history he was shown as a beautiful young man who had arisen from primal waters and had the delightful smell of blue lotus flower all around him.
Who would you be without struggle? We have all been shaped in some way by our experiences. At some point in our lives we can all remember at least one event that caused a shift in our paradigm; something that caused us to change the way we saw ourselves and the people around us. For Lia Abney, 54 of Hephzibah Georgia, that event was when her then husband after 15 years of marriage told her that he no longer wanted to be married. There is no quick fix to healing after a divorce, and Lia knows this all too well. However, she found the strength within herself to #keepitmoving.
After her divorce Lia moved from Korea to Georgia and started picking up the broken pieces of her life. She founded Victory Leadership Group Inc. a nonprofit organization preparing teens for success as they transition from high school into the workforce. She became motivated to do even more, and founded her very own consulting service, Lia Abney LLC aimed at empowering women (mind, body, and soul) to pursue their God-given talents. BWM visited her website and we were immediately captivated by her charisma. The passion Lia has for what she does is undeniable. During her career, she’s had the pleasure of sharing her knowledge and passion with nonprofit organizations (education, homelessness, and mental health), entrepreneurs, schools, juvenile court systems, authors/speakers and churches.
When Lia isn’t out inspiring the world, you can find her reading scripture or taking in the soothing sounds of soulful Gospel or Jazz. Her studies at Capella University, where she ispursuing a Doctorate Degree in Public Administration also keepher busy. Busy is an understatement for this veteran as she is also a Management Analyst, Motivational Speaker and Published Author. She’s contributed to skillfully penned masterpieces including – Women in Public Administration: Theory and Practice – which is being used in colleges around the world, and – Perfectly Imperfect, Seeing Yourself Through the Eyes of God – which allowed her to share her story of God’s love for her after divorce. Both publications were realized during a time for Lia that was most challenging and affected her self esteem. However, she was able to persevere beyond the hurt knowing that God had a plan for her to prosper and not cause her harm…(Jeremiah 29:11).
This Black Queen wears multiple ‘hats‘, but they are all set in perfect alignment with who she is. She has fully embraced her anointing… an anointing to inspire and motivate others to achieve their highest.
In 2019, Lia was awarded the Shero Arts Award in support of local arts as an author and a finalist for the 2019 Indie Award. She is actively involved in various community initiatives as well as an active board member with the Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce as the VP of Business and Financial Affairs.
What motivates this visionary? She credits much of her inspiration to some strong female leaders whom she has admired for years – Ronic West, a prime example of an industry leader (a mover and shaker as Lia describes her), and Sojourner Truth who was a constant reminder to fight for those who are unable to make their voice be heard. Lia also credits much of her resolve to #keepitmoving to her daughter Chontele, aka Yum Yum, who is a perfect example of focus and determination.
Like many entrepreneurs and black women in general who are working toward creating their own path, Lia has experienced her fair share of defeating thoughts. For this phenomenal black queen however, giving up has never been an option.
“One time,I took a leap of faith and submitted a proposal to speak at a conference. Of course, I had people ask to come along and thinking of course why not. Well, lets just say it was the worse speaking engagement. Not so much because I had someone come with me but I was actually treated horribly by another speaker not to mention other things that did not line up. I left there feeling like man…your own kind treats you like this. It really left a bad taste in my mouth. But then as clear as day…God said I never told you to take anyone with you. So the next couple of speaking engagements I journeyed alone. And nothing but blessings…I share this not to shame or bash others but to say that in your journey there is a season where you may be required to do it alone. It won’t be for ever but it is a season that I believe God is grooming us for something beyond what others can understand. Going at it alone during that season is an opportunity for you to grow without distractions. So where ever you are in your journey KEEP IT MOVING.“
— Lia Abney
One of Lia’s future goals for Lia Abney, LLCis to outreach the business internationally and continuously build strong foundations for accomplishing strategic goals. “So many businesses get stuck in the process of building because they do not clearly have a plan that will allow them to expand and grow to the next level. I want to help businesses that have found themselves stuck by establishing the right connection, communicate the right message, and commit to the process as a business owner to #KeepItMoving.”
Like most with such an important calling as hers, Lia’s story reminds us all to stay focused. There is no quick path to success, but through perseverance and constant self- evaluation anything is possible!
Our melanin is magnificent. It protects us from the harsh elements and absorbs light whenever the sun’s rays dance unhindered upon our skin. Although most resilient when compared to that of others, our soma needs protection and care. We’ve all had our experiences with store bought skin and hair care products that didn’t work as well as we thought they would. Although disappointing, it’s important to note that this could be due to multiple factors including skin type, harsh chemicals and level of exposure to the elements. Recently, there has been an upsurge in the number of natural skin care businesses online. People of color have taken it upon themselves to learn the art of cosmetic production; shea butter lotions, tumeric scrubs, coco body butters and the like are flooding the market much to the delight of black men and women eager to take care of their appearance and general well-being. There are however, a few well-seasoned natural skin care professionals that have had taken the time to perfect their products for years. We found one such gem in the heart of the United Kingdom.
Irene Afari, 35, of London UK, grew up in Paris France and Hackney United Kingdom. This melanin beauty with a European nationality is a registered nurse with a biotechnology degree, but when she’s not out saving the world she enjoys the Arts and learning about new cultures in her travels. While in her 20s, chemically damaged hair led her to begin her own journey of healthy hair growth. Frustration soon set in however, because regular beauty supply stores didn’t carry the products needed to save her damaged mane and staff within these stores lacked the knowledge needed to advise her on how to get her naturally healthy hair back. This avid traveler has visited Ghana regularly and the wonderful natives introduced her to natural skin and hair care ingredients. Cocoa butter and shea butter have always been used and loved by generations of Ghanaian natives. Irene was so inspired that she began creating her own home made concoctions with these same ingredients, and this led to a multiplicity of accolades from family and friends regarding the natural look and glow of her hair and skin. This all fueled her passion to incorporate a more holistic approach to beauty care and thus she created her own hair and skin care brand, Native Nous. The name was derived from both cultural and spiritual ideals.
Irene’s love for the indigenous people and flora of Ghana =”Native.” (For The natives were her inspiration.)
A new found awakening toward natural and traditional care for the body, the awareness, mind, intellect and good sense= “Nous.”
Here are some of the top picks for healthy hair and skin:
This black owned beauty brand delivers top quality skin and hair care because Irene understands the unique challenges faced by men and women of color when caring for their unique afro/curly hair and skin care needs. She experienced these challenges herself. Her line comprises the most effective natural ingredients which are unrefined or organic. All ingredients are hand picked for their beneficial and nutrient rich properties.
Find these products and more on her Website , Facebook or Instagram. Native Nous is currently listed on several black owned business directories such as ‘Black Pound Day‘, and also our very own blacked owned business listing on Black Wealth Magazine!
These awesome products ship internationally too, so have a look at the product catalog and order up!
Upon observing the list of natural ingredients it’s obvious that Irene is serious about skin and hair care. Her mission is simple. She wants to share the heritage and tradition of indigenous people’s use of nature in caring for our beauty needs through her products. Think of Native Nous as envisioning men and women of colour who have healthy skin and hair and because of it, they are confident enough to embrace all that they are.
As with all businesses whether large or small, Native Nous has had its fair share of challenges. Irene is the sole founder and this has meant that since inception, she has had to wear multiple hats in order to successfully manage the various facets of her business. Imagine being the marketing manager, secretary, founder and manufacturer all in one! This may seem a daunting task, but Irene has proven to be one tenacious business owner that doesn’t give in!
Business growth has been steady throughout the years and Irene credits this in part, to the City University London Launch Lab Business accelerator programme and her business mentor. There are no limits as she envisions her brand becoming a substantial player in the beauty and cosmetics industry. It will become a lifestyle brand, and she plans to market her products through larger retailers such as Self ridges, Boots, Superdrug and Wholefoods Markets. The Native Nous line of products will be sold in retail store chains where women can receive hair and skin care advice and product recommendations. If we recall how her business started, we understand why this aspect is of paramount importance!
At BWM we applaud this business owner for endeavoring to create charitable foundations and co-operatives in the countries where her ingredients are sourced in order to benefit the women and their families who produce the ingredients. This says a lot about her work ethic and appreciation for her own craft and people. She encourages other business owners like her self to carry out due diligence by researching their unique markets, keep an eye on the competitors and test their products. This doesn’t mean that one should procrastinate. On the contrary, begin where you are and keep moving. That first step could eventually create a multi-million dollar brand!
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It has always been said that fortune favors the brave. This may be true, but history suggests that it also favors those who refuse to allow negative thoughts and emotions to linger. If we examine some of the most successful black celebrities today, we will find the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry who are perfect examples of modern icons whose childhoods were riddled with both poverty and abuse. It is therefore no wonder that our featured entrepreneur has identified them both as public figures who inspire her on her journey. Cindy Grigg didn’t come from a glamourous past but her resolve to remain in a positive mindset and achieve every goal she’s set for herself is nothing short of admirable.
She grew up in Glanvilles Antigua, the second child among 4 siblings. Her life was seemingly uneventful until her early teen years when divorce separated her family and life took an immediate turn for the worst. Cindy recalls sleeping on floors as her mother, who was forced to become the text book definition of a single parent, struggled to provide for and sustain her children on her own. Cindy describes those years as being the hardest of her life.
Now a parent herself, she has vowed that her three year old boy, Elisha, will have all his needs met. That’s why the hustle never stops for this mother of one. Her first talk show, “The Cindy Show”, was a dream realized after years of procrastination. She recounts visualizing this goal since she was 13 years old. Why a talk show? One may ask. But, why not? She has the experience and fearlessness required to speak on various topics that would otherwise be considered taboo, and offer candid advice without the filters that most would employ to hide parts of themselves that they are afraid would be subject to judgment… judgment from those who simply stand on the outside of life’s big wheel of movers and shakers… judgment from those who are afraid to expose the truth of who they really are.
Since its inception 6 months ago, The Cindy Show has received support from hundreds of viewers on its social media platform, Facebook. This encouraged our charismatic entrepreneur to venture into new but familiar territory. Her second Talk Show, The Sisterhood Show, was visualized and executed with as much vigor as her first.
Constantly being in the public eye can expose anyone to serious criticism and in some cases, bullying both in cyber space and real life. Cindy has had her fair share of criticism. Her most recent stemming from a live video she posted on social media recounting her experience of feeling ill and subsequently passing out after being on the set of The Sisterhood Show the night before. In the live video, she made a few grammatical errors which were instantly added to the social media ‘funnies’ by those with an adverse sense of humor. The negatives of the video were highlighted and the positives were basically kept in the shadows. These events threatened to break her spirit, but she refused to fold. Cindy relied on prayer and positivity to overcome the constant attacks, and that she did!
She almost immediately conceptualized then launched a fun T-Shirt line captioning two of the most popular grammatical errors she made. The phrases were already being shared and re-shared on social media, so why not print them on a shirt? “I tooked in” and “I woke up unconscious” shirts were advertised for sale. Professionally designed by Sistah Souljah’s Hub and printed by Kay Inks printing services in Antigua, the t-shirts were made available in various colors and sizes. Cindy reports that close to 100 shirts have already been sold, with supporters posting themselves donning the shirts and tagging her on her Facebook page. This is how we turn a negative into a positive! Because the support was so promising, hats and masks with the same designs were soon made available. Although this was quite an enterprising move, she is fully aware of her errors and is now taking personal steps to continuously educate herself on various topics that can only enrich her in her capacity as a talk show host and entrepreneur.
Cindy has experienced her fair share of untrustworthy friends so she speaks from experience when she advises her fellow entrepreneurs to “know who your friends are and be mindful of those in your circle”. She further advises that we should only keep persons with a positive and progressive mindset around us and surround ourselves with those who want to see us win. She explained that negativity will always rear its ugly head when one is trying to push past the status quo, and there isn’t much that can be done about it, but it’s important that you don’t quit. “Keep pushing, pray and have faith because every day won’t be great but you can only succeed if you don’t give up!”
One of her greatest aspirations is to be able to give back to the underprivileged in her community. While this is both thoughtful and a wise career move, we believe she has already begun the process of giving back by being an example of how we should all work toward our goals; with optimism and without fear or surrender.
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While it is true that the impact of the global pandemic can be felt in the corporate society, the entertainment industry worldwide has suffered a severe blow. At one point, nightlife came to a complete stand still and there was neither a party nor event to attend. No gatherings. No socializing. On the island of Antigua, scores of patrons who had grown accustomed to feting and revelry were left disappointed as this years’ carnival celebrations were cancelled. Pre- covid, both expats and tourists alike visited the island religiously to celebrate its emancipation from slavery. Before the actual week of festivities, multiple fetes and parties are usually held during the season. This is the time when most of the island’s DJ’s and entertainers make their living. One such entertainer, Omari Anthony, aka “Versatile Virus” calls the island his home, and he’s eager to rock the city with his talents once again.
This was the first question that came to mind. Omari attended the St. Joseph’s Academy during his teen years. This all-boys, privately owned Catholic Diocesan school was founded on the island by The Christian Brothers in 1958, and has produced a few prominent officials on the island like businessman and parliamentarian Max Fernandez and Attorney and former Senator, Lenworth Johnson to name a few. During Omari’s tenure at the school, he excelled in the subject area of Information Technology. It was generally accepted that they all have monikers so with his classmate’s assistance, the moniker ‘virus’ stuck with him into his professional career. He also discovered his love for music while attending the school. He hosted a number of parties and school events with his friends and this further solidified his love for the craft. He officially began Deejaying in 2007 and since then he has been a part of several major events, many of which he was called back to do an encore performance. He highlighted working with Myst carnival, Project Sync and Wardadli Soulja’s as some of his most profound accomplishments.
His love for the artform supersedes all, but this DJ is not all about music. He is also a true sports fan. He once performed as a wicket keeper and prolific batsman for Antigua’s under 13/15/19 cricket team. Within his own community, he played for the Liberta sports club. Outside of the local sporting arena, he avidly follows the NFL and the NBA.
A love for music will always expose the creativity in someone who is truly passionate about the craft, and Omari has done just that. He loves to incorporate hidden messages which he coins ‘easter eggs’ in his productions. What exactly does this mean? I guess we will just have to find out! As much as he enjoys the art of deejaying, Omari aspires to find ways to integrate his deejaying, vocal talents and production abilities to develop a fully functional career all rolled into one. While we’re on the topic of Love, Omari credits much of the strength needed to endure the rolling tides of the entertainment industry to his loving fiancée and his management team, as well as his avid fans. They love what he does and keep him inspired with constant positivity. You can find this versatile DJ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He has also been featured on local radio airwaves and this, coupled with his live performances have aided tremendously in growing his visibility and engagement as an artist. He is confident that the marketing of his skill set would not have been possible without the tremendous support and engagement of Myst carnival, project sync, Sarah McMillan, together dubbed “Team contagious.”
This rising star has encountered his fair share of obstacles in both his personal circles and the industry itself. He cited Nepotism as one of the predominant ills in our society that affects him personally. The effects of the covid 19 pandemic have been the most recent struggle that threatens to dim his shine, but this young entertainer will not be discouraged. He has plans that once carried out with precision, we are confident that this DJ will rock the entertainment scene post covid like never before! He took the time to offer his colleagues some serious advice about the industry:
What’s Up Next?
Team Contagious and Young Luiy entertainment are the parent bodies under which Versatile Virus performs. Together, they’ve got a few treats in store for the entertainment world, as they’ve been working on a few live streamed events to bring the ‘noise’ back to the city. If you like to party and you need some relief from all the happenings around us, we have one suggestion. Don’t take your eyes off this DJ!
Many Caribbean customs were birthed from the teachings and inspiration of our African Ancestors. Anastasha Elliott, affectionately known as Ana, grew up observing her elders use the most eccentric Afro-Caribbean concoctions to cure everything from the common cold to the most troubling skin conditions. Her native island of St. Kitts is a part of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and is well known as the Sugar City of The Caribbean. The island earned its moniker because of its sugar cane plantations which were stationed throughout the island in the early 16th century. The island was formed by now dormant volcanoes, and is also known for its green monkeys and carnival festivities.
Ana enjoys being an island girl and often finds herself hiking through its tropical terrain and sailing the surrounding tranquil waters. She is also an avid reader, and this has been a significant aid in the research she constantly carries out in order to produce the most quality products in her organic hair, skin and nutrition line,Sugar Town Organics.
At the tender age of 12, this now 38 year old inspiring entrepreneur received some life changing news about her mother. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and as hard as this news was on the entire family, they all strengthened their resolve to provide healing through the very same natural remedies they had been using within the family for years. Sugar Town Organics was birthed once Ana realized the power that food had on regeneration, healing and empowerment. Call it an obsession if you may, but once you see real results such as those obtained when her mother was healed, you instantly want to help others see the truth behind the power of medicine, natures way.
The family – run business now comprises multiple brands, with products for baby and the entire family:
Yaphene : The core/starter line which comprises hair and body care products
Baba by Yaphene : A Baby Care Line
Marapa Luxury by Yaphene: A Skin Care Line
Flauriel Foods : The beverage, sauces, treats and vegan wine line of products.
I personally visited their online store at Sugar town Organics, and from the colorful packaging to the beautiful logos, I could tell that this brand is inherently Caribbean! I was especially impressed with the selection of skin care items including soaps that were displayed in a variety of ‘flavors’, to include frangipani/plumeria and silk cashmere. As I wandered through the pages, I noticed a few wines that caught my attention. My eyes landed on Breadfruit Wine! How innovative is that? Needless to say, I am intrigued and will be ordering soon!
Sugar Town organics operates within Caribbean borders but Ana is now in the process of extending her market reach internationally. Selected products from the line will be heading to the USA for retail in October, so for those of you who live stateside, look out for this product line in a store near you! The website will also be opened to receive U.S orders with shipping happening through Miami. The logistics are still a work in progress, but with the present pace of this dynamic innovator, it is evident that Sugar Town organics is set to become a worldwide brand.
Ana has experienced her fair share of obstacles as a black business owner, from financial difficulty to persons undermining her concepts, and even personal issues that threatened to derail her and question her own ability. Ana recalls a meeting at a national bank where her hopes were dashed and she was told by a banking official that her business could not work on an island. She could have conceded to fear and heeded this ill-advice, however she persisted. She credits her strong family support system for her tenacity. They have supported her in any way the could from assisting her in marketing campaigns to driving her to far-away pop up shops. She is grateful for an amazing network of women who saw her vision and helped to multiply her dream.
She shared some invaluable advice for other business owners like herself. She believes that there are many instances where we begin our entrepreneurial journeys at a disadvantage, however, if we are willing to do some honest and unbiased introspection, we will be better able to spot our shortcomings and improve. She also advised that it may be difficult to find assistance, but never give up! Help is out there if we just search for it. Finally, don’t be afraid to start small. “Take it step by step, we have a saying where I am from, ‘likkle likkle mek plenty ..”
I have just outlined some major positives about this black owned business, but wait! There’s more! Sugar Town Organics gives back! Once a year, Ana works with new startups by either mentoring or coaching. Her last mentee was Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope for Survivors of Domestic Abuse, run by Dr. Kit Ford Davenport of Iowa. Ana is quite proud of what she has accomplished over the last year in aiding female survivors of domestic violence to earn a living, become empowered, and learn marketable skills that enable them to chart the way forward for themselves and their families. Giving back to your community while building your own brand may seem a daunting task, but it is with this ethos that we open our enterprise to universal blessings. With all she does, Ana still finds the time to educate her customers about the herbs around them and how they can be used. “It is a knowledge we seem to have lost in many ways and as an integral part of our culture as people of color it is important for us to rekindle this knowledge in each other.”
Ana’s Mission as CEO of Sugar Town Organics is to engender a love of our blackness in our people by crafting products that bring out the beauty of who they are, encouraging them to relearn love of self and all it entails from our kinky coily hair, to our beautiful melanin skin. She does this one product at a time, one customer at a time. With her business acumen, tenacity and support system, I am encouraged to believe that going forward her black owned business will not only survive, but thrive!
It all started with her own obsession with healthy skin. Ressa Valentine Benjamin loved the way her organic skin care routine kept her melanin skin glowing, and soon made the decision to stop keeping her skin care secrets to herself. Originally hailing from St. Johnson’s village in her beautiful island home of Antigua, Ressa boldly founded her own skin care line, “Definitely Reese,” with the hopes that she could help others achieve radiant skin.
Hyperpigmentation, acne, dry skin and eczema are some common skin conditions faced by people of color. There can be a misconception that we do not need to be as vigilant about our skin care routines as others because of the natural elasticity and melanin glow of our skin, but the opposite is true. According to Medical News Today, melanin-producing cells may be more susceptible to the effects of inflammation and injury, which may be more noticeable in dark skin than in light skin.
Ressa’s products contain natural ingredients which are perfect for people of color. Ground turmeric, cinnamon, coffee grounds, brown sugar, honey, and lemon along with her ‘secret ingredient’ are just some of nature’s gifts which she uses in her products. She highlights turmeric as a main ingredient used in her line. It’s no secret that this natural spice has amazing skin care benefits. Some of these include:
It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties; This means that it’s great for combating acne and other skin irritations.
It calms the skin and works wonders on fading acne scars and hyperpigmentation.
Another plus? It unveils a noticeably healthy glow!
Her turmeric and honey facial scrub was personally tested by me, and all I can say is, this entrepreneur takes the skin care business seriously!
Another main ingredient she utilizes is coffee. Yes! Coffee. Coffee grounds are actually a great source of several nutrients and antioxidants that benefit the skin tremendously.
Just like turmeric, coffee brings out your natural glow;
It reduces puffiness of the eyes;
It protects the skin against harsh sun rays;
and removes dead skin cells;
Coffee grounds are used in her Vanilla Latte Scrub. Needless to say, I will be trying this one next!
At “Definitely Reese,” you can also find other amazing products such as foot scrubs, lip scrubs, lip balms, lip glosses and eyelash/eyebrows serums. Check out her store on Facebook, and browse her selection of natural beauty and skin care products.
Her momentum is steady and growing, but entrepreneurship is not all ribbons and rainbows. This small business owner faces her fair share of obstacles including fluctuating customs duties. When endeavoring to make a profit, the taxes imposed at the island’s air or sea ports can be counter productive for small business owners. However, this inspiring entrepreneur presses on. Thankfully, her support system is dynamic and extremely loyal.
Although she is ‘taking things one day at a time’ and marketing her products locally, Ressa hopes to expand “Definitely Reese” both regionally and internationally. Once she continues producing these superior products, we are confident that there are no limits for this Antiguan entrepreneur!
He’s only 23 but has already had the pleasure of participating in a few musical events in his present twin -island home of Antigua & Barbuda, including the ever- popular Antigua Sailing week and “Wadadli Kingz, Just Got Started.” Christopher Howell grew up in the reggae-centric Caribbean island of Jamaica, where he earned the moniker ‘Young Luiy’ because of a small Louis Vuitton bag which he donned in primary school. The name stuck and he has grown to infuse his unique and authentic tastes into his music.
Chris got his introduction to the world of Hip Hop in his hometown of Jamaica, when his childhood friend, a hip hop artist himself, introduced him to the recording studio. He immediately felt at home. When placed in front of the mic, he imagined himself among the hip hop greats that he admired such as Lil Wayne and J Cole.
Young Luiy is confident that his love for music was fortified by the rich musical culture of Jamaica where he grew up. Jamaica has spawned a plethora of internationally renowned artists like Beenie Man, Chronix, Sean Paul and Koffee, to name a few. Reggae is the most widely known genre of music in Jamaica and it was popularized by the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers in the 1960s. Soon, the selection of genres expanded to include dancehall and dub.
With the introduction of sound systems, American music found its way into the households of the islanders. According to worldmusic.net, sound systems were an extremely significant development in Jamaican music, and helped to develop the Jamaican record industry. When radios finally became affordable to the majority of Jamaicans, there was a boom in the popularity of American R&B, but it did not stop there.
Did you know that Hip Hop has inherent ties with Jamaica and Reggae? Reggae was the most influential figure in the development of Hip Hop. Although Hip Hop wasn’t exactly discovered in Jamaica, The dubbing and toasting techniques used in reggae directly influenced America’s techniques of emceeing and scratching.
Rrrroots, rap, reggae!
And we don’t stop
It’s like that y’all, and then we’re ready to play
Grateful for his multi-cultural background, Young Luiy credits this quality for his ability to speak to and entertain both his American and Caribbean Audiences. His musical style is upbeat, raw and explicit in some cases. His tracks can all be found on his YouTube Channel, IamYoungLuiy. There’s no doubt that this artist is has an incredible ability to incorporate his native ‘twang’ into his Hip Hop verses. One of his latest singles, Bragginz/Benz, highlights this artist’s versatility. Listen Below, and be sure to subscribe!
His advice to upcoming artists
“Stay being you and true to whom you are, never let your worth be defined by the stereotypes of the world or what you see on social media. Being black and authentic is a great privilege which will bring forth great scrutiny and hate, but never let that hinder you from accomplishing the big dreams you are aiming for”.
Throughout history, black culture has been known to influence all genres of music. Having had such an influence on the very musical cultures of our oppressors, only to be targeted by those influenced, should only give you even more courage to stand with your own and cement your very will to exceed all expectations within the music industry. Young Luiy has taken this thought to heart as he sets his sights on future projects.
What’s Next for this island artist?
Growth. His hopes are to continue expanding his platform both regionally and internationally. He is also the father to a 2 year old son; his heir and driving force, Aahron Howell. Chris is on a mission to bring the international spotlight to Hip Hop and R&B music in the Caribbean. He is confident that one day, the world will acknowledge the hard work and dedication of talented artists in this corner of the world.
“We are so much more than just Dancehall, Reggae, and Soca. There is so much more here than beautiful vacation spots. It’s time the world knew that we have so much more to offer.”