Carla Ashley, IamCarlashley.com

 

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***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers, business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Does he like me?  What if she doesn’t want a second date?  Why didn’t she text me back?!!! 

These are a few of the questions that usually bedevil daters.  Very few of us have a dating life that isn’t romantic swooning coupled with bouts of doubt and anxiety.  So who amongst us couldn’t benefit from having a compassionate insightful sounding board? Carla Ashley is here to share how she became a  dating and relationship advisor that helps many love wisely.

Name:  Carla Ashley

Company:  Iamcarlashley.com

Launch Date: April 11, 2016

Motto: Love Wisely

Theme Song: Kelly Price –  It’s My Time

Describe your path to becoming a dating and relationship advisor.
I grew up knowing I wanted to find true love. I just had no clue how to go about finding it, the process of dating that is. I pretty much winged my early 20s assuming every guy I would come across was looking to marry based on my own upbringing. “Dating and courtship go hand in hand and you date only with the intent of marriage.” – My parents. Boy was I wrong! Everyone out here DOES NOT have that mindset, but to find love you have to find someone who IS on the same page as yourself.

It took a lot of trial and error which as you can guess led to much heartbreak due to my own hopeless romanticism. I had to change the game plan and start to date wisely. I’d been keeping a journal since my middle school days and noticed the trend that most of my entries were centered around my dating/love life and the lessons I’d learned from each experience. These entries became more elaborate into my adult dating life as you can imagine and with the birth of social media in the past decade I had begun sharing more of my personal life with my close friends.

Before I knew it, I was receiving texts or random inbox messages from friends that had either known me personally or friends I simply connected with through networking who were asking me to provide them with feedback on their own dating dilemmas. The advice requests would pour in in spurts. Sometimes a random person in public, once a lady in the post office and another time my neighbor in passing, would approach me saying that they need someone to ask advice about regarding the person they’re seeing and I looked like someone they could talk to. It was odd, but I welcomed their story and provided what help I could give.

My dating experiences have ranged greatly and one day I just decided to embrace why this was all happening to me. The lessons from each relationship, the random requests for advice, the heavy journaling…it was all a part of the bigger picture, my purpose…to use my lessons to help others.

How does blogging enhance the insight you provide to your clients?
Blogging has been the bridge connecting me to my audience’s hearts and emotions. I receive messages sporadically from readers who have let me know that they appreciate my openness to share my past and some of my current experiences and feelings. I focus on building a level of trust by showing both the pain and the strength of each dating experience I have conquered and how it has helped me get to where I am today…Able to help others from the lessons I’ve learned.

What are your go-to resources to building your business?
@Womeneur – I follow this page on Instagram for tons of business building support, tips, and encouragement.

Copromote.com – A true God-send! I was told about this app/website recently and it’s aided greatly in gaining exposure for my social media content.

Suits & Roots Community (Facebook group)- A network of other entrepreneurs who support you, share advice, events, and open discussion on various ways to grow your business. Entrepreneurs of all phases of the success scale are there to ask and offer assistance where needed.

Best life advice you’ve received from an unlikely source?
“If you put as much effort into building a business as you put into finding a boyfriend you’d be a millionaire.”

This was a funny but relevant piece of advice given to me by my mentor when I was 20 years old. Love and relationships are my passion, learning about them, how each individual plays a part in the unit and how decisions affect each party involved. I didn’t understand her words of advice until I started my business of helping others through my content and direct advising and it helped me realize that my business would not be what it is today had I not put the years in to learn through every relationship. I just had to now begin balancing dating experiences with turning them into productive volume for the world to follow. I’ve made mistakes in love and learned so much from them. Now I’m teaching others to “Love wisely”!

While I’m not quite a millionaire yet, but I’d like to offer fee-based services in the future. For now, all of my direct advice is provided in exchange for word of mouth.

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Fast forward to 2017 and what news would you love to be sharing?
I currently have my E-book for sale on my site, “You’re online dating profile- 6 Tips to attract quality potential candidates”. (Free for all blog subscribers upon email request to Carlashley@Iamcarlashley.com) In 2017, I’d love to be able to say I’ve delivered 100+ copies!

I’d like to do more guest writing for digital magazines, bloggers, and other markets within my niche. I’m working on content to be featured within The Urban Dater soon, so be on the look-out for updates and notifications by following me on my social platforms!

In early 2017, I’d love to welcome my 100th Blog Subscriber as well as my 200th Blog Subscriber this time next year and I believe it can happen.

A bigger audience and more advice requests!!! Advice requests help me gauge what my audience needs to hear most from me. I would like to begin work on my first paperback book in 2017 and partner with a publishing company and with so many great and triumphant experiences to share, my audience requests can definitely help me narrow down which points to reference most!

Shout-out time! This is your chance to spotlight your collaborators and community.
So far I’ve collaborated with Lacy Colson on a piece, “A letter to my strong single black women”. Lacy currently writes for Urban Image Magazine.

My biggest supporter has been Kendra Marshall, Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer, and Blogger of Modern Diversity. Both are entrepreneurs within their niches and I owe a huge thanks to them for their work, support, and exposure of my content and my vision.”

If you want a taste of Carla’s dating wisdom, connect  via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

 


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, LIT Brooklyn

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***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers, business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Happy September, Thursday Interview faithful and newcomers!  Although summer brain lingers, I am happy to kick off the fall season with Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, founders of LIT Brooklyn.  Their Interview gave me motivation on a day when I needed it.   I hope you find common ground and inspiration in their story of how LIT came to be.  Enjoy!

Name: Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, Founders

Company:  LIT Brooklyn

Launch Date: December 5, 2015

Motto: Keep it lit!

Theme Song: Jay Z- Forever Young

Describe the moment that LIT Brooklyn was born
Akenea Dillon: It was a random Monday morning in October (2014) and Denequa had called me really early. We were having regular conversation about how we can’t wait to be like the women who inspire us. We wanted the freedom and happiness that these women possessed while following their dreams. In mid conversation Denequa was like “Let’s start a business!” I laughed because it was really random but I wasn’t opposed to it. I said what would our business be? She said “Let’s make candles!” It made sense because we both love smell goods and have invested in many different candle brands in the past. I replied “That would be lit!” She asked what would we call it?  My reply: “LIT”.  The rest is history.

What are the most surprising lessons you’ve learned as a new business owner?
AD: Having a business is still relatively fresh as we launched a little under a year ago and since then so much has changed from our initial packaging to our social media content to the scents we come up with. There is always a lesson to be learned.  One lesson that I can think of is that it took trial and error to learn is that simplicity is key. Another one is that sometimes you have to take a step back and take yourself out of the equation. We make candles and while we are making something we love, we want to make sure that our customer loves it too. So I may hate a particular scent but that might be the very scent that our customers are obsessed with. Also don’t doubt your influence. It’s been really humbling to hear people say “I love your candles, I saw it here…” or “such and such gifted it to me.” It never fails to surprise me.

Denaqua Williams: Some of the most surprising lessons that I’ve learned as a new business owner is that you really have to prove yourself for people to either want to work with you, or even support your product. It’s also a common misconception that a lot of new business owners feel that you don’t have to put in the work to see the results. You have to eat, sleep, and breathe your business if you want it to flourish. The passion has to be there.  We live in a time where everyone wants instant gratification without completely and thoroughly understanding the amount of work and time and effort and loss of sleep that goes into running a successful and effective business. Another surprising lesson that I’ve learned is that your relationships with people are going to change. Having a business is like having a baby, and just like a baby, you nurture this business, you give this business your undivided attention, and the people around you who don’t get your vision, won’t understand, and that may cause your relationship to wither. Everyone around you is not going to get your vision and that’s okay because it’s not for them to understand.

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Tell us the LIT Brooklyn process for creating the kind of scent combinations that make me wish my computer screen was scratch and sniff.
DW: When it comes to creating the scents for LIT, that might be the most tedious but fun part of it all. It’s a lot of trial and error. We spend a lot of time experimenting. These scents are intoxicating, they are all reminiscent of something that we love. I love all of the scents that we created, but my ultimate favorite scent thus far is “HOME”, we named it “HOME” because that’s what it reminded us of. The lemony scent with notes of vanilla is to die for.

How did LIT get involved with Curl Fest 2016?
DW: We’ve always been fans of CurlFest, since it launched. We keep up with their events through social media, and when we saw that they were looking for vendors, we reached out and were able to be a part of the epic event. The feedback that we received from everyone who came up to our booth was spectacular. We would definitely do CurlFest again.

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Will LIT candles be available at any pop ups for the upcoming holiday season?
AD: Ideally, we will be a part of a few pop-ups or events for the holidays. We have some things in store for fall and the holiday that we are finalizing right now. (Stay tuned to our social media) I can tell you that you will definitely see us in a few beauty subscription boxes and hopefully a few holiday gift guides. The best part about the holidays is that we get to celebrate LIT’s birthday (December 5th) so an event for that is in the works.

Fast forward a year from now, what news would you like to be sharing with your fans and collaborators?
DW: A year from now, I hope we have become an international brand. I hope to share that LIT has its own store front. I hope to share that we are being carried in major department stores. I hope for us to be featured in magazines that we read. I hope to share that LIT has expanded carrying more than candles.

Shout out time!  This is your opportunity to celebrate the people who have made the LIT launch and journey a joy.  Don’t be shy.
DW: I am happy to celebrate those close to us that keep us going, and that push us to exercise our complete potential. My boyfriend Khiry is stellar, he helps keep me motivated. Every business owner needs that one person in their corner that is there to remind them why they started in the first place. Things are going to get rough, but the most beautiful moments start to unfold right after you cross over that rough patch. Another person in particular is Evanka W., our brand manager, she came on board a few months ago. A close friend to us both, she plays a significant role in our growth as a company. I would also like to thank our customers who have remained loyal to us from the very beginning, we are very gracious to them for supporting us and believing in the product that we created. And overall, just thankful for everyone who supports us in any way possible. Being a new small business, people are often hesitant, but words can’t express my gratitude for the amount of support and love that we receive on a daily.

AD: Thank you to all my family, friends, believers, and yay-sayers for all the support and well wishes. Before the launch, they were the ones to encourage us in the ways we needed and for them, LIT is grateful. For our launch in particular, it wouldn’t have been the dream it was without our friends Marva & Miriam from the space, Ode to Babel where we had our launch party, Eshama John who has blessed us with visuals of our product from time to time, Deasia Rumble, Endeshia Bryan, Gigi Gray, and every amazing person that helped make our launch extra special. Most importantly thank you to all the people that invest in our candles, our customers. Thank you for believing in our product and spreading the love with your friends and family. We couldn’t keep it LIT if it wasn’t for you all.

Want to keep your world LIT?  Stay connected with Denaqua and Akenea on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

Angelique Ellyn Anderson, LIQUE Story Studio Inc.

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Screenshot of Lique Story Studio’s “Humpty and Other Goosey Tales”

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Angelique and I met at media mixer hosted by Emerging Market Views, a digital news platform focusing on emerging and frontier markets.  We were there to support a mutual friend Dawn Kissi,  the platform’s founder.  We started chatting about entrepreneurship, co-working spaces  and creativity.  Once I heard about her work, I wanted to include her on the Thursday Interview.  Enjoy…

Name: Angelique Ellyn Anderson, Artist, Founder / Creative Director of  LIQUE Story Studio Inc.

Launch Date: 2016

My current project(s) are…
…developing children’s book apps utilizing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. I have 2 other picture-book app projects which include journey, seek and discovery experiences for VR headsets.

I love getting up in the morning to…
…work on my projects. Now that I work independently for myself I can focus on developing my own successful dreams instead of someone else’s.

The main challenge(s) to being a creative entrepreneur…
…is being able to maintain that independence financially so that you can focus on development of your own products; and to obtain those necessary funds and resources to help you grow until your business can stand on its own. Having to stop and start by working for someone else so that you can raise money to continue your own growth is frustrating and can kill a very viable product.

My go-to networking groups are….
…the New Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, the VR Lab at ITP-NYU sponsored by Hearst Corporation, UnityVR user MeetUp group and the Children’s Book Illustrators Group (CBIG) for Julie Gribble’s Kidlit.TV,  and Viridian Artists Gallery in Chelsea, NY.

Here’s why you and everybody you know needs to see Hadestown…
…I became a passionate supporter of the folk opera, Hadestown, 6 yrs ago, when I first experienced Anais Mitchell and Michael Chorney with their band performing it  in the park. I approached them afterwards about developing it for stage on Broadway. Their CD was just being released. So here they are, years later, performing Hadestown, Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop, NYC. My passion for the musical, Hadestown expands by working with the producer to procure investors for the Broadway production.

Shout out time.  This is an opportunity to salute your collaborators and supporters.
I thank my mom and Pat Cummings, who got me started with Children’s Illustration, storytelling and book making; all my CBIG members for being such a dynamic support and resource in the industry; grateful for Roxy Munroe for being an inspiration and a dynamic force in the industry of book, storytelling and app-making;  Julie Gribble of KidlitTV for being a steadfast supporter and gracious friend;  Steve Sandberg, genius musician and best friend; choreographer and colleague Annetta Sawyer for ultimate support and of course the New Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn for being a resource of knowledge and support.


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!  
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

Jackie Summers, JackFromBrooklyn, Inc.

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***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

At a casual Memorial Day bbq (thanks for hosting Sung!), longtime friend and baketender Kimberly Wetherell introduced me to Jackie ‘I make booze’ Summers.  That night, I discovered Jackie’s Sorel liqueur (I call it hibiscus heaven) and that he is a wonderful storyteller.  Keep reading to discover why he does what he does with wit, laughter and many libations.

Name: Jackie Summers

Occupation: I make booze

Company:  JackFromBrooklyn Inc.

Launch Date: May 14, 2012

Motto: Eendraght Maeckt Maght (Unity Makes Strength, the Brooklyn motto)

Theme Song: “Trouble Man”  by Marvin Gaye

How did Jackie Summers become Jack From Brooklyn?
Jack From Brooklyn predates my launching a liquor brand.

In the spring of 2010, I had a cancer scare. After months of suffering crippling sciatic pain, my doctor sent me for an MRI. “We think you have an ependymoma” he said. “Mmm…that can’t be right. That sounds like cancer” I replied. “It’s only cancer 95% of the time” he reassured me. When I asked why he phrased his statement “we think,” he confessed: because of the tumor’s location—inside my spine—biopsy wasn’t an option. All the MRI did was confirm that 85% of my nerve sheath was blocked—thus the searing sciatic pain.

“If you can’t do a biopsy, how do you remove it?” I asked. “Simple” he said. “We’re going to drill a hole in your spine. We’re going to slip your nerve sheath out through the hole, slice it open, and expose your spinal cord. Then we’re going to perform neurosurgery on your spinal cord—that’s what your tumor is tangled up in.” “This sounds pretty… invasive. What are my odds?” I asked. “You’ve got a 50% chance of partial paralysis” he said bluntly. “If it turns out you’ve got a malignant tumor in your lymphatic system… you’re looking at six months, tops. You should probably get your ‘paperwork’ in order.”

Faced with this scenario, I took the only steps that made any sense at the time. I consented to surgery, and then immediately made plans to go on vacation: nine friends, a beach house in Cancun, and shopping carts full of alcohol. One morning, before the sun had made its ascent over the Gulf of Mexico, and before any of my companions had risen from the booze-induced stupor of the night before, I grabbed a bottle of tequila, and treated myself to a sunrise walk along the beach–as I figured it might be my last–and a leisurely talk with Death. I don’t recall much of what Death had to say that morning. I do clearly remember looking into the lifeless hood of The Reaper, scythe in hand, and hearing him say the following: “Truthfully Jack, I don’t understand why this has you so shaken up. This is not the first time I’ve come for you. It’s just the first time you’re paying attention.”

As I stood in the operating room making small talk with the anesthesiologist, I recall being completely at peace. My time was done. My life had run its course, and whatever happened next was completely out of my control. As I prepared for my very talented team of doctors to splay me like a fish—expose my spinal cord and all of my nerves, like strings from the bow of a violin come undone—I recall feeling an uncanny sense of calm.

Six hours later, they wheeled my gurney into the recovery room, as I sang “Material Girl” at the top of my lungs. In an attempt to determine my level of cognizance, the recovery room nurse asked me if I knew my own name. “Lady GaGa” I shouted, without hesitation. When she patiently repeated the question, I corrected myself and calmly told her “I realize I’m not really Lady GaGa; I’m Madonna.” She asked me how I felt, and I burst out into a rousting chorus of “Like a Virgin.” With all the professionalism she could muster, she asked me if I had any weaknesses—a reasonable query to someone just coming out of spinal surgery. As I’d just had a bone removed from my spine, I actually had no feeling below my rib cage; I didn’t even know if I had feet. Without pause I responded “Chocolate, whiskey, and raven haired women.” And then I realized she was cute, so I composed myself, and put my hand on her arm. With tubes still up my nose and needles stuck into both arms, I made the dreamiest bedroom eyes a man still mostly under the influence of general anesthesia can make. “Just because I came out of surgery claiming to be Madonna and singing ‘Material Girl’” I declared with a wink “doesn’t mean I’m gay.”

The operation was a complete success. And the tumor (schwannoma) was benign.

I call what happened to me “the gift” because I was forced to confront the question most people spend their whole lives avoiding: if you knew for a fact that today was your last day on earth, what would you do? Would you call your mom? Go home and make love to your partner one last time? Play with your kids; toss a frisbee with your dog? Call up an old friend and settle an old feud? Punch someone in the face who really deserved it?

For me, the answer was clear: on my last day on earth, I want to sharing great conversation with interesting people, over delicious food and scrumptious libations. This led me to take a concoction I’d been brewing in my kitchen for almost two decades–sorrel–perfect a shelf stable version–Sorel–write a business plan, raise capital, and launch a distillery.

jack from brooklyn sorel bottle

When it came time to promote this new venture, I realized I didn’t have anywhere near the kind of capital required to solicit a decent PR agency. What I did have was a blog I was writing about my dating life, called F*cking in Brooklyn, under the name Jack From Brooklyn. At the time, the blog was receiving 500,000+ views a year, and not making a dime. It seemed to me that, people who liked reading about fucking, might like drinking as well. So I decided to capitalize on my significant social media following, and name my company after my blog.

And THAT is how JackFromBrooklyn Inc. was born.

How important is being a people person crucial to launching and building a liquor brand?
People skills are the most crucial skill in launching and building ANY brand. You may have a terrific concept for a product or service. You might have keen analytic skills, or a talent for logistics. Maybe you’re a ruthless negotiator. This is all very useful. And ultimately irrelevant. No matter how determined you believe yourself to be, success in entrepreneurship is dependent on your ability to form and cultivate quality relationships.

You will need help. Behind every successful startup are visionaries with the volition to turn dreams into reality. Behind them are the people who believe in them: their investors, their advisors, their vendors, their spouses, family, and friends. Without their support, their guidance, their faith in you, you cannot succeed.

It doesn’t matter how great your product is, or how well conceived your business plan. Yes, your financial projections have to be solid, and you must be able to demonstrate the ability to execute your grand designs, but at the end of the day, people do not invest their time, money, and access to their social networks in grandiose ideas.

People invest in people. People need to believe in you. People must want to help you. People have to want you to succeed as badly as you want to succeed.

jack from brooklyn hibiscus

How do you juggle making sorel, managing the business of making sorel and consulting without going a little bonkers?
This is the part where I’m supposed to say: if you love what you do, it isn’t work. That’s bullshit, and anyone who tells you different is lying. I’ve kept 16 hour days, 7 days a week, for months on end. I work harder now than I ever did when I was working for someone else. What keeps you going isn’t love, it’s choice. You can fall deeply in love with someone, but you still have to wake up every morning and choose that person. This is why I say: going crazy is easy; staying there takes real commitment. Once you accept this, juggling everything required of entrepreneurship is still far saner than sitting in a cubicle.  

jack from brooklyn product line

What news would you like to be sharing about Jack From Brooklyn next year?
No spoilers! You have to wait for the after-credits scene to find out. Stick around, I guarantee it will be entertaining.

This is your chance to shout out to mentors, colleagues and supporters who helped Jack From Brooklyn make it to year four.  Go.
Arthur Shapiro, my Booze-Business Bookend. Lori Edelman, my Social Media Director. Summer Lee, my VP, and the most ethical person in the entire liquor industry. Too many bartenders, distillers, writers to name.

If you are Sorel fan, good.  If you have not indulged, change that.  It is delicious. I cannot wait to make a Strawberry Sorel milkshake.  You can follow Jack From Brooklyn on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This post has been lightly edited with love.

Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!  
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

 

Melissa Archer, Actress

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***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Melissa came on my radar, thanks to director/technologist/entrepreneur John Threat. I’m featuring her because I admire how she pursues her passions with gusto.  Enjoy her story.

Name: Melissa Archer, Actress

Motto: Say what you mean and mean what you say

Being featured in two films (Coach of the Year  and South 32) in the Soho International Film Festival is….
…This is truly exciting! I am so blessed to have both films in the festival, but to also have one on opening night, and the other the following night which is a Friday…that’s amazing! I’m really proud of both films.

I started a production company because…
…The reality is, I can’t sit for too long. Ha! I started the company because I woke up one morning with a feeling of, “this is what I have to do.” I want to make stuff happen. I love acting, but why not combine acting into being the boss? I wanted it to be a collaborative effort for the company. I feel creative minds together can create bigger. It just so happened that my now producing partner, Sonia Blangiardo, had a similar thought around the same time. We got together for lunch and said “let’s do this.” I was already working with Jessica Morris on a writing project, so it was a no-brainer, she was my first call. Sonia, went to Brandon Goins and then later Theresa Cicala. Sonia, Brandon, Jess, and I all got together shortly thereafter, and “Viral” was conceived.

Filming the ‘I am woman, hear me pee’ scene in “Viral”  was…
…Too much fun! It was like midnight or something, and all I could do was be silly. In between takes, I’d do funny dances with the panties still sitting around my knees. Such a blast!

My definition of a kick ass day must include…
…Getting at least one priority done, spending time writing, and if I get to work on something tech related, it’s icing on the cake for me. I haven’t worked on one in awhile, but I do get into kind of a meditative state when I fix an iPad or iPhone. So if I can include all the above, and maybe a trip to the beach…that’s a kick ass day haha.

I need you to know the following about superfood Hacker’s Brew…
Hacker’s Brew is my other baby. I’m so fortunate that I get to be a part of this company and product from the ground and watch her grow. I work with the best team, here in LA and all the way to NY and Russia! Hacker’s Brew works…you have energy all day, without feeling jittery, and man, can I focus. I’m also proud to say that the ingredients are all there for effect. Meaning, if it’s in there, it will do something. It’s also not just the focus and energy, but I actually feel good after I drink it. It lifts my mood. I first learned about Nootropics last year, and starting them, turned my life around. I could literally feel the fogginess that I always felt, lift, and my energy levels increasing. My productivity started to increase. Then I was a believer. It’s been so fun and rewarding working with everyone to bring a delicious brew to life, and be a part of helping others get shit done!

These are my collaborators and conspirators…
…I have so many hahaha! Of course my Steel Penny team, my Hacker’s Brew Team, my writing team, my friends, my BFF, my family, and if she were alive, my inspiration Lucille Ball.

Check out Soho International Film Festival and  Hacker’s Brew.
Also connect with Melissa via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!  
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

Alissa Nichole, GloriJoy

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***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

This week, I invite you to spend a few moments getting to know Alissa Nichole. She’s an artist, personal stylist, digital designer and the founder of the newly launched site, GloriJoy.

Name: Alissa Nichole

Company: GloriJoy

Launch Date: April 22, 2016

Motto: I don’t get ready… I stay ready.

How did you make the shift from web designer to personal stylist to launching GloriJoy?
Ultimately, the shift was because I needed a change AND more creativity in my life. I taught myself Photoshop and HTML back when I was middle school and, fortunately, was able to make a career out of it after graduating from college. Fast forward to now; that basically means that I’ve been doing the same thing for about 20 years. In a nutshell, I’m grateful but bored.

I was often teased when I was younger for not having the latest, expensive fashions. During my early 20s, my fashion sense changed drastically.  After my first real job out of college, I was able to update my look in a way that fit me. Actually, I still didn’t have the most expensive fashions… but I found my sartorial niche through a lot of trial and error. While all of this was happening, someone noticed my “great sense of style” and asked me to dress him for a special event. That led to my first personal styling job. The odd thing is, that I didn’t think too much of it when the job was complete… I went back to the grind as a web designer. I guess it just wasn’t my time yet.

A few years later, I realized that I was really itching for a change. I thought back to my experience of acting as a personal shopper & stylist. I decided to start taking Image Consulting classes at FIT and Personal Styling and Styling classes at School of Style while still working my day job. In fact, I’m still working on building my personal styling business so that it’s something I’ll be able to do full time.

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GloriJoy ties into this in a bittersweet way. My grandmother passed away in October of 2015 and I needed an outlet to deal with the grief. In my styling courses and through my fashion experimentation, I realized that accessories are great to really make an outfit POP. I ended up merging the two ideas together. I wanted to keep my grandmother’s memory alive but I also wanted to create something stylish and useful.

So here we are. I love the creative high… and I love challenging myself. Each of these things (design/styling/jewelry) are most definitely connected creatively… but the challenge had been how been figuring out how I can pave my own way with them.

What are your go-to resources for building and managing GloriJoy?
I’m the type of person that wants to do EVERYTHING myself but I’ve been learning that for my sanity and to save time, I need to outsource. Since I have a background in web and graphic design (specifically in e-commerce), I’m able to build my own web pages and design advertisements for GloriJoy fairly quickly… but my secret to saving time is this: I use Fiverr to get a lot of things done. Something broken on my page that I don’t want to spend hours digging through code to fix? Fiverr! Need to vectorize some images? Fiverr!

I also ask my mom for help, being that she’s also a creative and she understands the direction I’m moving in.

I’m also a big fan of Google and YouTube. Many times I have an idea for a new technique or project and I want to see if it’s already been done, so I can either learn the proper way or pioneer it. I also make sure to keep active in certain Facebook groups, mostly geared towards blogging, style, e-commerce and travel. It helps me keep up with the latest news, trends and also gives me the opportunity to connect with fantastic people.

Lastly, the kindness of strangers has been a HUGE resource for helping me to build and manage GloriJoy. Being that I’m do-it-all-yourself type of person, this is all very new for me. Earlier this year, I set out to find my tribe and ended up connecting with a lot of like-minded women. They’ve been super nurturing and just generally super awesome and just started promoting, supporting and helping with GloriJoy straight away. I’m very grateful for that.

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How does your Brooklyn love inspire your creative life?
Brooklyn is such a huge melting pot of cultures… there’s so much to see, do and experience. I refer to Brooklyn as gritty but pretty… you have concrete, sharp lines and tall buildings but then you have colorful graffiti, green spaces, warm and welcoming nooks. I absolutely love that special contrasting nature that Brooklyn has. Here’s where the “but” comes in: While living in and loving Brooklyn has inspired my creative life, I would also say that it’s more me wanting to explore life beyond Brooklyn. I’ve been a lifelong Brooklyn resident and sometimes a change of scenery is necessary for me.

I grew up in Farragut Houses, where my grandparents lived… definitely gritty. The pretty part of all of this was that I spent a lot of time in my maternal grandparents’ care while my mom worked and went to school; they were a big influence on my life. My grandfather was very handy and sometimes a little creative with his fixes; my mom and I still joke about him saying “put a piece on it” when it came to fixing things. I’d like to say that’s where I get my ability to find creative solutions for my work. My grandmother, is the reason for GloriJoy (Gloria Joyce). She was a seamstress… and more than that, she encouraged my creativity and was very instrumental in me reaching higher heights. Both of my grandparents were.

Being an only child, I happily used my imagination, and that imagination often led me to wanting to explore. I’ve wanted to travel since I was a little girl. I’m not quite sure where I got the travel bug from, but it bit me BIG TIME. I haven’t been EVERYWHERE (yet), but every new place I visit gets me even more curious about the different cultures, food, flavor and music that’s out there. There’s so much more out there to learn about and explore.

What are you learning about the GloriJoy community?
The GloriJoy community is the world… it’s global. Like the world, it’s full of people that are unique and different… and their style reflects that. But this particular community really appreciates things that are a bit off the beaten path. It’s like when you’re having one of those moments where you’re feeling weird and you say to yourself, “Am I the only one that likes XYZ?!” and the response is, “No! You’re not! We’re right there with you!”

I feel like some of my pieces have an extremely personal aspect to it, and I like to think that when someone admires or purchases a piece, they just “get it”… in the sense that they understand the memory, feeling or emotion the piece captures and they’re able to connect it to something in their life.

What do you like, hate and love about launching a new business?
What I really love about launching a new business is the feeling of accomplishment that comes on after the launch. You’ve spent months getting everything together, learning, researching and now the big day finally comes… how exciting! And I’m not even talking about people coming up to you, patting you on the back and telling you congratulations… I’m really talking about that inner satisfaction where you’re just blown away that you just pulled off something so huge.

The thing I hate about launching a new business is that sometimes your expectations don’t match up with reality. You expect to make certain numbers, you expect for certain people to purchase from you, you expect for everything to run smoothly and sometimes none of those things happen. But that’s something I have to work on for myself… letting go of my expectations.

When I mix the love/hate aspects of launching a new business, I realize that I really like learning, even though it can be stressful. I feel like after the launch is when the real work begins; you may see that eventually you want to (or need to) implement new ideas or go in a different direction and it’s your job to figure out how to get there. Then the question becomes, “What do I do next?” Basically, you’re launching your business several times over, if you really think about it.

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This is your chance to shout out to the GloriJoy collaborators and supporters – don’t be shy! 
My mom. She’s the OG of jewelry making in my life and introduced me to wire wrapping. She also helps me out a lot with some of the production aspects of GloriJoy.

My cousin Dawn, who is beyond supportive and is always there when I need her… she keeps me crazy and sane at the same time.

Amber (of the Fab Life Project), Danielle (of She Dares), Veronica (of Black Adventuristas) for showing up as their authentic selves for the first ever GloriJoy photoshoot… and also being an inspiration to never stop being a boss. They are my crew of lady bosses!

Kim McCarter, my business coach. She’s been working with me on developing my personal styling business but she drops some gems that can be applied all across the board.

Ayanna Dutton, who has been helping me with my marketing strategy. She gave me food for thought, which has been a life saver!

Megan Elle Mason, a fabulous event planner. Big thanks to her for providing encouragement, allowing me to bounce ideas off of her and giving me some great ideas as well.

Patrice of Looking Fly On a Dime, for being a huge GloriJoy supporter and inspiring me to level up.

Zaida Grunes (of Taproot Organics) and Sabrina Espinal (of Sabrina&Company)… I’ve watched these two ladies from a distance… and have asked questions on occasion and they’ve come through with answers! They are totally badass and inspirational.

Beyond the GloriJoy website, you can also connect with Alissa and GloriJoy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

 

Thursday Interview Alum News: LISA’S ADVICE returns with LISA’S BABY ADVICE

 

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Lisa’s Baby Advice: Seeing in Color

Regina Taufen and Anna Christopher have updated their twisted and award-winning web series Lisa’s Advice  with Lisa’s Baby Advice.  The newest webisode is ‘Seeing in Color’and it is BEYOND cute.   That’s all I can say because you need to check it yourself.

Lisa’s Advice

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