I sat amongst Queens and Kings on Sunday, June 10th and I’m still inspired a month later.
We live in a world today where there is so much going on – it is sometimes very challenging to go through all the information to get to a space where we’re actually focused and what we’re focused on is the truth. We have been pulled in so many different directions throughout our day that we often end up losing direction in our own lives; we look up to people that many of us cannot relate to and many of whom have not shared some of the experiences we have encountered in our lives.
The intention of the Queens & Kings Empowerment Brunch was to empower all who attended however it inspired, empowered and gave us a fresh set of people to look up to – the Goal has been accomplished plus some.
Since starting Brooklyn’s Lifestyle I have been invited to so many events – too many to count and unfortunately, way too many lacked value or substance, many were too self-serving and a great many a complete waste of time and money. When the organizer and producer, Diana Archer reached out I really wanted to tell her outright I wasn’t interested and I did in a subtle way but as I secretly watched the preparation for the event I realized that this event was a very small part of what this phenomenal woman was doing to help others, then the panelist was announced and they were normal, everyday people. I was intrigued and did a bit of research on Ms. Archer.
Ms. Archer is an incredible human being, the selfless acts of kindness, she commits to in her everyday life is beyond impressive. I can’t wait to tell you her story but please be patient because today it’s all about the Empowerment Brunch; and the Queens and Kings who shared their stories.
This event was very different in so many ways – Ms. Archer did an excellent job of incorporating Community, Giving to the Homeless and lining up an impressive panelist that was real, relatable and who told their truth.
Walking into Pacific BK was amazing, the energy was positive, the love was felt from everyone and there was a real sense of community. There was an area for donations of household items. These items were for the homeless, in anticipation of them moving into their own apartments. Ms. Archer spoke about this with passion – the reason she organized the collection was to make sure that although these individuals were experiencing challenges in their lives they would be able to move into their new homes with a start…maybe some new pots and pans or new bed sheets – whatever it was, she wanted them to have something to start with, something to build upon.
Vendors lined the outer part of the room for the 3 to 6 PM POPUP shopping. I loved that while there were vendors at the event waiting to sell their products – it did not distract from the main goal of the event. We moved on to the introductions, were seated and Brunch was served. Buffet Style – we brunched on Mac & Cheese, French Toast and Chicken & Waffles provided by Seasoned Spiced. As we grooved to the DJ – Real Brunch Atmosphere, Don’t you think?
After everyone ate – Freestyle Spoken Word Poet, Parlay set the tone for the event and the magic that was about to happen.
Every day we are bombarded with all things Celebrity, or all things local Instagram, Facebook or Twitter wanna be Celebrities. Our lives have become one big pile of comparing ourselves to other people’s curated Social Media accounts that we somehow forget that we are people with real lives who should actually be living our lives. We forget that there are people right in our backyards that are doing amazing, amazing things – real-life people, living real lives.
Ms. Archer gathered real-life people: our next-door neighbors, our friends, people living real lives, facing real challenges that many of us can relate to and they are pushing through to be better individuals, to accomplish their goals and to serve as an inspiration for others just like you and me.
The panelist included Four Queens and Four Kings – the queens were introduced by Brownsville Beauty, Octavia Bradley, who released her first book ”Spilling Secrets of Trauma.”
The four Queens took the stage and were asked to tell the audience about themselves, they were asked about obstacles they faced in Life and Business, tips for self-care and finally what advice they would give the audience.
Below I will tell you about the panelist at Queens & Kings Empowerment Brunch, how they responded to the questions above and their thoughts about success, etc that were shared with me.
1) Shana James is a successful international and domestic entrepreneur in the beauty industry. She is the owner of 4 beauty supply stores, TheVMonroeCollections.com and Pretty Girl Hustle LLC. As a single mother Shana V was able to go against the odds and chase her dreams when all the odds were against her. She’s an advocate for women working together and is determined to help other women live up to their full potential.
Shana spoke to the audience about the challenges of being a woman in Business, being taken advantage of by the same people she hired to help her with her company. She maintains her composure by working out five times a week for two hours and journaling.
Nat: What does Success mean to you?
Shana: To me I feel that success is when you find true happiness in whatever you’re doing. So many people are doing jobs that pay a lot of money but aren’t happy. But if you find a job or have a business that you love and enjoy than I feel that you are successful. what good is having a lot of money and not being happy?
Nat: What do you believe contributed to your success?
Shana: I believe that being a woman of integrity contributed to my success. Being a good person and conducting good business practices goes a long way.
Nat: What do you believe contributes to your growth as a person and a professional?
Shana: Wow, this is such a good question. I believe that my experiences and trials contributed a lot to my growth. It allowed me to become so much smarter and stronger. Each loss I took ( and there were many) I turned them into a lesson. I’ll never make the same mistake twice.
Nat: With the trend being “Women Empowerment” what are your thoughts? Do you believe that as women we are truly empowering each other or is this just a trend or buzz word?
Shana: This is such a touchy subject. I do believe that there are some people that are really trying to empower one another and are pure with their intentions, however, there are some that are just having “ Woman Empowerment” just because of the trend. I have come across certain women who use this term for social media but in real life are really nasty.
Nat: Through your journey did you receive the support you needed to accomplish your goals and to dream bigger?
Shana: For the most part I would say that I have some amazing people in my corner that support me in whatever ways they can and that goes along way. From those that help me ship out customer packages to those that just simply tell me that I inspire them to push forward means a lot to me and that too is a form of support and I’m grateful. Everyone that played a role in my life whether good or bad has helped get me to be where I am today and it’s important to recognize that.
Nat: What are you doing to help other your women or men towards their journey of accomplishing their goals?
Shana: Outside of the www.TheVMonroeCollections.com and my international Business I have a nonprofit called Pretty Girl Hustle LLC in which we host quarterly events that give upcoming entrepreneurs and small businesses the opportunity to showcase and sell their merchandise. At these events, we also have guest speakers that are there to give advise and answer questions in regard to entrepreneurship. I also run an Instagram page called @Prettygirlhustlellc that showcases events and small businesses locally and internationally.
Nat: Why do you believe journaling is an effective outlet for your mental, emotional and spiritual wellness?
Shana: Journaling is so important to me because it gives me the opportunity to speak freely without judgment or merit by anyone else. We go through so much on a daily basis and its so important to channel those feelings positively. I remember I went through a really low point in my life I wasn’t eating, I couldn’t sleep, I was breaking out in acne because of stress and I had no one to talk to because of the fear of being judged, Criticized or even feared that if I confided in anyone that that person would spread my business. I remembered how much holding in those feelings made things worst for me. I remember listening to a podcast I believe it was Oprah’s super soul Sunday and the guest spoke about journaling. I said well you know let me try this out because I was tired of feeling the way I felt. I was pretty much desperate. My first entry was 6 pages long! but you know what ? after those 6 pages I felt so much better. It was like a huge burden had been lifted off me. I was able to acknowledge my truth! It was then I realized that journaling would be my way of channeling my feelings.
2) Ayana Thomas – Bazile was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY (East Flatbush, to immigrant parents and refers to herself as a Caribbean American. She grew up on a great block in Brooklyn where her friends were more like family and not friends. Many of whom she has remained connected to.
Becoming a teenage mom to son, at 16 did not deter Ayanna from pursuing her dreams. With the desire to become a Funeral Director, she attended McAlister Institute of Funeral Service. A few years later Ayana got married, moved to Richmond, Virginia and gave birth to her daughter. To everyone, Ayana appeared to be living a great life but behind a closed door, she was living a life filled With baby momma drama, betrayal, drugs, money deceit, just a real-life hood story which eventually landed her 3years of pre-trail, 3 years in Federal Prison and 3 Years’ probation.
Finding strength in God, the single mom of two she returned to Brooklyn NY, Landed her first job through the help of the agency and made the decision to go back to school – this time around receiving her CASAC-T. Meeting Jeffrey Bazile was a wonderful experience and the promise of spending the rest of her life with her best friend and love of her life brought Ayana such happiness an peace, sadly Jeffery was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer and passed on just months after their beautiful wedding.
Ayana had begun a new story – now lives in Newark NJ where she opened a Real Estate Investment Firm. She is living in her truth, investing in the new city she calls home and is committed to working together with her community.
Ayana spoke to the audience about the importance of self-care especially dealing with the death of her husband and best friend. Through her tears, she said,” you’re gonna have to learn how to be strong in your heels, love yourself as a woman, practice forgiveness and love Life regardless because it’s precious.”
Nat: what does success mean to you?
Ayana: Success means not an overnight trip, it’s a vision that allows you to grow consistently and give to the world, not just caring about yourself. Success is your decision, it means being happy, satisfied, with who you are and what you are doing. Success is a pleasure!
Nat: Did you find that ppl around were/are supportive of your goals?
Ayana: I feel that people are not that supportive, but people usually do not support what they cannot see, and I do not expect them to be. So, I stay uplifted by people that do what I do.
Nat: With the new trend being Women empowering women, woman empowerment, etc – what are your thoughts? And is this really a fact or is it just a trend?
Ayana: ( LOL)Woman empowerment if it is a trend should be a never-ending trend. Being in the business that I do, I only sit at the table with 90% men. My dream is to do Deals in Heels! So, if I become what they can see eventually it will grow into what I think it should be, we are just as strong and capable as the other sex. (sometimes stronger).
Nat: As you mentioned, the most challenging thing you’re dealing with is the death of your husband – what would you tell women who are facing this challenge?
Ayana: I have a friend and I tell her to Breathe, one breath one moment and one footstep at a time we cannot change what has happened but we must implement the proper tools to cope with living our daily lives. Ruff days come, have them but don’t let it stop you from breathing.
Nat: What do you think about the state of the Real Estate Market in Brooklyn (prices, foreclosures, gentrification, etc.) From the perspective of a Brooklyn native and that of an Investor?
Ayana: (LOL) I believe that Brooklyn and NYC for that matter are markets for huge developers and huge moneymakers, I’m learning along this journey that to profit her it’s not about the homes its about buying the co-ops and subleasing its more affordable unless you have it to spend. I wish I knew what I knew today I would have invested in my 20’s and been okay today. Gentrification makes me laugh, all it is, is a process of people with money coming to change the nature and culture of an area (ghetto, urban community, less fortunate neighborhood, hood, etc..)v whichever word comforts your ears, to make it seems more refined with more affluent people and jack the cost of living up. When the problem that originally surrounded that neighborhood becomes condensed and isolated into one area, so there never really is a solution but a band-aid on a bullet wound.
Dr. Fuller is also the founder of the No Rest Until Success Foundation, which serves the NYC community in many different aspects but aims at helping NYC high school seniors pursue their college dreams through scholarship awards.
Dr. Fuller success story stems from being raised in NYC Brownsville/East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, NY and being exposed to the power of education and the places that a solid education can take you. Being raised without both parents, Dr. Fuller managed to put herself through school and remain student loan and debt-free. Dr. Fuller personal struggles have created a self-motivation from within that has allowed her to use education to take her out of poverty. In turn, Dr. Fuller wants to inspire others to become self-motivated in life to deliver themselves from whatever battle or rut they are currently in and to a promising tomorrow and a better future.
Dr. Fuller stressed the effectiveness of therapy. She believes education should come first and that Life is bigger than Brooklyn. Life isn’t about where you start but rather where you’d like to go.
Nat: What does success mean to you?
Dr. Fuller: Success means to me reaching my goals. I tend to find myself always wanting more, and no matter what I obtain I still want more because success means fulfilling your clear destined purpose.
Nat: Why do you think many of us in the black community does not resonate with Therapy? Why do you believe it has worked for you?
Dr. Fuller: So many of us in the African- American Community do not resonate with therapy for several reasons. Some of these reasons include our stigma towards our healing. Often time people feel that treatment is only for crazy people or military purposes and if you go to see a therapist people will judge you. Some may feel getting treatment is too expensive; Others might think that you don’t believe in God if you go to a therapist and lastly, Therapy is only for white people, or they don’t know how to seek out a therapist.
Therapy has worked for me because it has taught me to deal with my emotions, my ability to reasoning and also my ability to know that my circumstances are just trials and tests and it doesn’t determine where my life is going to end up at.
Nat: I know that one of your obstacles in your life is dealing with Parental Abandonment – what would you tell someone who is facing the same challenge?
Dr. Fuller: To anyone facing Parental Abandonment, you may feel alone, abandoned, and not worthy of love but that’s not how the story ends. You are loved, never alone and worthy of respect because your creator is always near and never far. I grew up entirely forsaken, and I ended up overcoming all my obstacles and earn a Doctorate in education.
Nat: What most contributed to your growth as a person and a professional?
Dr. Fuller: The things that contributed to my growth as a person and professional is identifying myself with struggle and not wanting to return to that struggle. I was also blessed to be exposed to different things and people who showed me what life has to offer if I take my education seriously, I could elevate myself out of poverty.
With an early beginning as a strong leader in her family, it came naturally that she would transition so well into motherhood. Shawina is the proud mother of four remarkable children; Kanii, Kaden, Kamiyah, and Kennedi.
Shawina credits her strength to her connection to God and spiritually. As an active leader in her local congregation – she finds great pleasure in her participation in community outreach projects. Shawina is a graduate of St. Joseph’s College and is a Certified Professional Life Coach, who currently works for an administration in the medical field and is pursuing her masters. Shawina launched her own non- profit organization called Bleeding Hearts Inc., as the founder and CEO of her own organization she looks ahead to service an even greater span of her fellow citizens in the communities of the world. With the support of her family, friends, and church community Shawina is spearheading her first community event sponsored by Bleeding Hearts Inc.
As an innovative and creative thinker, Shawina continues to look for new ways to serve people from all walks of life. Armed with her favorite quote from famed author Norman Vincent Peale “What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve.” The possibilities are endless for Shawina.
Shawina openly spoke about trust and her struggles with knowing her own worth at one point in her life. She believes we can be our own worst enemies and she tells us that we should keep going even if we experience failure.
Well, there you have it Dahlings Part 1 of 2 featuring our Queens from the Empowerment Brunch. Stay tuned for Part 2 which will be published this week.
Listening to these women tell their stories in the most honest way possible I took away three things that I’ve added to my “to live by’ List – Life isn’t about appearances, Always find the Light in every Situation and Focus on how to add value or make a difference vs how I will be judged or criticized.
Images via Cindy Trinispice Photography