As Black History comes to a close, we're taking a look back at the 10 extraordinary women who were featured in our #10BlackWomenToWatch social media campaign.
We're keeping our eyes on these change makers.
We hope you will, too.
Oh, and with the winds of March blowing in, we'll be dropping some CHIC right here, in your inbox, shortly.
A bientôt, #TeamChic
Patrice McLaurin comes out the gate with her declaration. Don’t believe me? Check out her @patricemclaurin cover photo! Based in Georgia, McLaurin is a children's book author and image activist. She writes with the goal of dismantling racial stereotypes that too often precede black children, specifically black boys. I asked my new friend, "Why did you start writing children's books?" Her quick and definitive response: "I began writing children's books to humanize black boys and highlight black excellence." With that, I rushed to Patrice's website to order her STEM focused series. You'll find the link in her bio. With a gang of best seller awards and accolades on her shelf, I was curious to know... What's next? Where is her path leading? "My ultimate goal is to help other BIPOC authors share their stories through my publishing company, Khemrah Publishing, LLC." I'm keeping an eye on this powerhouse. I hope you will, too. Merci beaucoup, Patrice, for your contributions to this campaign, our children and our future. You are #BlackHERstory.
In full disclosure, I have had my eye on this changemaker since long before she became a working mom, and I've always known that Raena Joy was designed to do something special. What I did not know is that she would use her voice to speak for a generation of mothers who face archaic challenges in a national workforce that is systemically flawed. As a founder of @chamberofmothers, I wanted to know what motivated this working mom of 3 petite bébés to mobilize mothers toward national change. "I always knew that I wanted to be a mom, and I also knew that I would likely continue to work. When I became a mom, I realized that working moms lack support on an institutional and community level, are underestimated at every turn, and receive tired advice." Tired advice... Raena spares no mercy! In her brilliantly written blog @theworkingmomtras, Raena shares the good, bad, and the ugly as she and the Chamber of Mothers target monumental issues like paid family leave, maternal mental health, and affordable childcare. Though she's marching in the face of issues that, let's be honest, should be throwbacks from the 1970s, Raena Joy is the future of working mothers... no, Raena is the future of women in America. Watch her work!
Remember when we went to Nola last Fall? In celebration of her 50th birthday, my sister-friend @withrobo and I made a pilgrimage to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum to take an interactive cooking class. That's where we first met Chef Dee Lavigne. @eatdrinksofab
This woman is a powerhouse! Her story is one of resilience, perseverance, and unwavering faith in her God given talent. Following the trail that was blazed by Chef Lena Richard some 80 years ago, Chef Dee founded @deelightfulroux, the first black owned cooking school in New Orleans in nearly a century. I wanted to know, in the face of a global pandemic and a series of crippling hurricanes, what in the world inspired this New Orleans native to start a business. "My love for sharing my passion for food. I want to inspire women and girls all over the world to master your dreams!" Roger that! You can't be in Chef Dee's presence without feeling her passion. There's a light that shines inside of her that not only inspires you to create something magical with a cup of rice and the holy trinity; it almost puts you on notice that she's only getting started. When I asked about her next big move, she quickly replied, "My very first cookbook, more exciting cooking classes, and a cookware line." Yikes! I suspect that @chefdeelavigne will soon be a household name. Just remember, you heard it here first.
Meet Victoria Wilcox. @victoria.wilcoxx
The moment this bright, young filmmaker steps into a room, it becomes more interesting, and when she steps out, she leaves behind an excitement that comes, I think, from knowing that we've just been in the presence of excellence. As a high school student, she launched @torian.studios. In her first year at Temple University's prestigious School of Film, she is taking it to a whole 'nutha level! What inspired Tori toward filmmaking? "The escapism that film provides is what drew me into the craft. Within media like film and photography, we are able to temporarily leave what is ours and we get to explore the world in the lens of another. Not just from a different angle, but a different mentality and way of life. The aspect of empathy within this medium allows me to have peace, having the chance to creatively express myself while simultaneously being able to foster enlightenment through the motifs and principles of my work." OK, I see you! Where is her imagination taking her? What's on her horizon?
"Exploration. I have been blessed over the past months being exposed to multiple resources to elevate my content and help foster who I am as a creator. This past fall I was fortunate to intern at REC Philly, an incubator for the growth and success of creators. I am continuing my journey through them as a sponsored member. Being in the REC Philly environment will allow me to tap into realms I haven't even thought of. I look forward to exploring audio mixing and producing music, having access to dance studios so I can give movement in more projects, and more. As I continue to grow throughout this year as a creator, my voice will become stronger and my focus will become clear, and that's a journey I can't wait to start." I hope she lets me style her for the Oscars. No doubt, she'll be there!
It's important to remember that the way we love ourselves sets the tone for the way we will be loved by others. Meet Yvette Murray. @yvettejmurray Style influencer. Sustainable fashion advocate. Self image champion.
This Philly native is changing the narrative as it pertains to body image and beauty standards. Through her highly acclaimed style blog, A Fashionable Distraction, Yvette is redefining what CHIC looks like. I asked this style guru... how'd it happen? "This whole journey started for me as a result of my friend and photographer suggesting doing photoshoots to escape the chaos of the pandemic. The shoots rekindled my love for fashion and curating looks, mostly from consignment finds. As an avid reader since childhood, who read editorial articles in fashion magazines, I was inspired to create my blog, 'A Fashionable Distraction.' It is an ode to fashion and Susan Taylor, the former editor of Essence Magazine. When reading my blog, many will notice I take a journalistic approach to posting." Yvette's blog is... different. She's clever. She brings you to where she is standing in that moment. She encourages her readers to do... something. To try... anything. Yvette isn't following trends. She's starting a whole new conversation. I get so tickled when I see that she's dropped some chic in my inbox! Go ahead, subscribe. You’ll thank me later. What's next for this fire starter? "My next big move is collaborating with other content makers and brands. This year, you will see other people that I have styled featured in my blog. I am also gearing up events and workshops, teaching others to develop their style." I've got a feeling that HERstory is just beginning. I see you, Sis!
Don't call it a comeback. Est. in 2013, Katina Dowley was a pioneer in the now, immensely competitive, in-home specialty baking game. Fast forward nearly a decade, she is rebranding her booming business, @artandsugarbykatina, to incorporate more of her vision. We wanted to know more about her fascination with all things sweet. "I've been a lover of art and food since I was in diapers. My mom would calm me by sitting my carrier in front of the tv while #bobross and #juliachild were on. In school, I focused heavily on the arts and shortly after, I started experimenting in the kitchen. When I launched Katina's Cupcake Fetish, #cupcakewars was big and I focused on that aspect of baking. As trends have changed, I've been inspired to introduce my love of art into my creations.
Hence, the birth of the rebrand... #artandsugarbykatina
"My clients are elevated. They want custom creativity and attention to every sweet detail. My clients don’t need an event to celebrate. They call because it’s Tuesday and they want to be fancy. They call because they need a thank you gesture... or a treat to show someone they’re special... just because." Next up for this sugar sensation... "My next move is a commerce site so that I can ship custom cookies globally. I'm also developing the non-edibles to further explore my artistic passions. Custom acrylic cake toppers, ornaments, resin trays, and coasters to name a few." We've got our eyes on you, #queensugar!
She looks familiar? Of course she does! You've seen her on tv a hundred times... LAW AND ORDER: SVU, BLUE BLOODS (CBS), FBI (CBS)... and most recently THE EQUALIZER with @queenlatifah. Or... you may have seen her in #downtownhaddonfield. Narci Regina @narciregina is a local #shiningstar... and #herstory is remarkable! "What fuels my passion? God. My passion for acting and filmmaking wasn't fully realized until just 7 or 8 years ago. I didn't grow up acting. 'The plan' was to become a pediatrician. My parents were immigrants from the #dominicanrepublic and had few educational resources. They prepared their children to take full advantage of #theamericandream: Go to college and get degrees. I earned a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health and an M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology. Life was great! But in the midst of my 'planning,' God threw a curveball. Instead of returning to the workforce after our boys started preschool, I was to pursue a new path... ACTING. Once I received that bomb of a revelation, I pushed backed with a vengeance. 'Huh? That's no