Meet Breast Cancer Survivor Tracee Allen

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over, but that doesn’t mean that we stop showing support and acknowledging our strong and beautiful survivors. I am so pleased to feature Ms. Tracee Allen, as this week’s Sister With Vision. Her interview was so informative and helpful and I believe that anyone dealing with Breast Cancer or has had to have a double mastectomy and undergo the reconstruction process to please take a look and share this post. Also, please be sure to check out and donate to her gofundme page. Any amount would help. Without further adieu, I introduce to you this black queen full of strength, Tracee Allen.

Tell me a little about yourself. 

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My name is Tracee Allen. I am 41  years old and I’m originally from Indianapolis but l currently live in Bloomington, IN. I am a divorced mother of an 11 year old boy in the 6th grade. My profession is a Commercial Liability Claims Adjuster for trucking companies. I like to travel and spend time with my family.

Please share your story. How did you first find out that you had breast cancer? What stage are you in (if not in remission) and what treatments have you undergone? 

I was already on annual mammograms since 2011 after I had a benign cyst biopsied in my left breast. In July 2014, my doctor said he saw some “suspicious” calcifications he’d like to monitor, but said he wasn’t concerned. He said it would be up to me to choose to biopsy them then, or wait 6 months for another mammogram. Since I had a horrible experience with the biopsy in 2011, I chose to wait. In December 2014, I started experiencing pain in my left breast, but the doctor refused to do my mammogram until the 6 month mark which was February 2015, even though I was able to get a prescription for a bilateral mammogram from my OB/GYN. When I went back in February, they only wanted to scan the right breast until I basically “threw a fit” to do the left too. As long as your insurance will cover a procedure, fight for it! They did the left and nothing was found, but they did find cancer in a milk duct in my right breast. This is considered Stage 0 – Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The next stage was an MRI which revealed a tumor at the 6 o’clock position of my breast and in my lymph node. This upgraded me to Stage 2A.

Since my 2 areas of cancer were too far apart, the recommendation was a mastectomy. I wasn’t prepared to make surgery decisions yet. Since the doctor said that having chemo before or after surgery would not make a difference in survivability, I chose to do chemo first. I also have Lupus which complicated my surgery, reconstruction and possible radiation decisions. I did 2 rounds of chemo over 5 months and I think I handled it well. I discovered that you have to eat and keep your naps short to prevent vomiting. Food is needed to soak up that chemo in your system. I also took my anti-nausea medicine on time. I felt like crap, but I never vomited.

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Physically, I chose to cut my long hair before chemo into a short cut. I never had a short hairstyle before so I felt that I might as well have fun for the 2 weeks they gave me when my hair was expected to fall out.

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It happened at exactly 2 weeks and I had my aunt buzz cut my hair. I was afraid of getting a cut in my head if I went completely bald. Any cuts or injury after chemo may take longer to heal or lead to infection. It was less traumatic losing little pieces of hair than long stands. I tried and hated wigs so I found a scarf style that I wear all the time. My pathology report showed that all the cancer was removed so I’m overjoyed to be done with cancer treatment but the reconstruction process is very uncomfortable and painful. And thank God I got a double mastectomy because there were “changes” in my left breast that would have led to cancer later.

The Reconstruction Process…..

I’m divorced and have hopes of getting remarried so having breast were important to me. Everyone gave me the speech that a man that truly wanted me, wouldn’t care if I had breast. I’m not confident enough to believe that. Since I wouldn’t know if radiation would be recommended until my pathology came back, I was taking a chance on starting the reconstruction process after the double mastectomy. I chose a double mastectomy because i was worried about the left breast pain before and possible reoccurance in the left. Plus i didn’t want 1 perky right breast and 1 saggy left breast. .lol! I trusted my faith and moved forward with the reconstruction. After the breast surgeon is done, the plastic surgeon comes in and inserts temporary expanders. Currently, I have weekly appointment with the plastic surgeon to inject saline into the expanders until I get to my desired C-cup size . In a couple of months, I will have another surgery to get my permanent implants. Then a few months after that, if I decide, I will get nipples created from my own skin. Soon after those heal, that nipples will have to be tattooed to match my skin tone. So yes, I’m very happy that my cancer treatment is over but the reconstruction process is very uncomfortable and painful. It takes several months to complete.

What advice would you give women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?

My advice to others is to get a second opinion, try to have someone with you at all your appointments, tape record the consultations with your doctor and keep educating yourself. My brain was about to explode with everything I had to learn and all the decisions I had to make by myself. Fight for the treatment and diagnostic tests you want if you have the insurance coverage.  Also, if women or men have breast cancer in their family history,  get a mammogram as early as possible. I didn’t have any history and my genetics test was negative;  so thank God I was already on routine exams!

IG & Twitter: @gillty98

Gofundme:
fundraising campaign for Tracee Allen’s Breast Cancer Fight:

https://de.gofund.me/we5stdqc

Meet Breast Cancer Previvor, Monique Douglas

This week’s Sister With Vision feature is very special to me. As we all know, this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is a disease common in the community of African American women. It is the most common cancer among African American woman and in 2013, an estimated 27,060 new cases of breast cancer and 6,080 deaths were expected to occur among African American women. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you Breast Cancer Previvor, Monique Douglas. Please read and share her amazing story.

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My name is Monique Douglas. I am 25 (soon to be 26) years old. I am from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2012 in Organizational Communication. I am currently a clinical training specialist for a hospital in Baton Rouge. My mother is a two time breast cancer survivor and my grandmother, who is now deceased, was a 26 year survivor. My family history of breast cancer is very strong. When my mother was diagnosed, I was 11 years old. Although I knew what breast cancer was, I didn’t know the details. She had a lumpectomy and radiation and was back at work in 6 weeks. For all I knew, my mother was just sick. My parents didn’t make a huge deal out of everything because they didn’t want to scare me. As I got older, my mother educated me on breast cancer and I become aware of how serious it was. My mother was a big part of Susan G. Komen Baton Rouge affiliate and I volunteered numerous times over the years in high school and throughout college.

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Fast forward 13 years from my mother’s first diagnosis, she called me downstairs in May of last year and told me they found cancer in the same breast and same spot as before. I was devastated. I am the only child and have no brothers and sisters that understood how I was feeling at that time, but my mom assured me everything would be okay and she was planning to have a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery ASAP. She found wonderful doctors in New Orleans who performed a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She did 4 rounds of chemotherapy and was then tested for the BRCA gene, this is the gene that carries mutations for breast and ovarian cancer. In October of 2014, she tested positive for the gene and as soon as she tested positive I went to my doctor to see about getting tested. In my mind, I almost knew I would test positive because of my strong family history. I was sent to a breast specialist, Dr. Hailey in Baton Rouge and he told me my percentage (chance of Breast cancer) was so high that he suggested that I have a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery within the year. I WAS FLOORED!!!! I was 24 and was planning to wait at least 5-10 years to have such a drastic surgery, but I did not hesitate with my decision. I remember him telling me “Monique it isn’t a matter of IF cancer will show up, honestly it’s a matter of WHEN.” From there he gave me recommendations for a plastic surgeon to do the reconstructive part and I started doing my research.

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A few months earlier, I went with my mother to a doctor when she was trying to find a surgeon, Dr. Sadeghi in New Orleans, who really impressed me. I decided to call his office and explain my situation to them the staff was SO helpful and caring and in January I went for my consultation and scheduled my surgery in February 2015. I have a double mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction. They removed all of my breast tissue and made new breast from fat from my abdomen. All together I had 3 surgeries over 8 months and can say I do not regret my decision. My chance of breast cancer occurring went from 84-86% to 1-2% which is AMAZING. I feel and look the same way I did before the surgery besides my scars across my abdomen and on my breast and I can live better knowing how much my chances have increased. I will get ultrasounds of my breasts and ovaries every 6 months to stay on top of things just in case but will no longer need to get mammograms. Not everyone with the BRCA gene may not make the decision I made to have a double mastectomy at such a young age, but I encourage you to get checked regularly and if something doesn’t feel right go see the doctor. Nobody knows your body as well as you do.

Thank you so very much, Monique for sharing your story. It takes great courage to be so transparent with the world, on a such a sensitive subject as this. You are truly a Sister With Vision. 

With Sisterly Love,

B

Meet Madame Hunte 10.21.15

So there is this extremely talented Soror of mine. Her voice is absolutely beautiful and like no other. What I love about her most is her free spirit and beautiful personalty. I was floored by her interview and I know you all will enjoy it to. Please meet this week’s Sister With Vision, Madame Hunte and be sure to check out her AH-MAZING song, Lava Burns at the end of this interview and let her know what you think! 🙂

Tell me a little about the person behind the voice?

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The person behind the voice is a woman whom is made within the nature of her creation which consist of light, beauty and love. I fight to protect the goodness of the Earth by helping to bring out the best within those that are in my reach. That is my mission and one of my purposes on this planet. I enjoy the vibrations of life and the depths it unapologetically takes me through spiritually and physically. Therefore, I meditate on mantras to help me better understand the world around me and where I can service it best.
The woman behind the voice is a woman whom is constantly building on inner self, a woman whom has accepted her flaws and chooses to create safe spaces for them to manifest into tools use to strengthen her very being.

I am a storyteller that lived many lives before. Therefore, as a true student of language; whether it may be in the form of poetry, the quiet cyphers I have with myself in my room, music , monologues, books or body language, it is all used within my music to further the art of storytelling. The portal of my imperfections is what is used to allow my writing to come from the most authentic and vulnerable place within. My purpose is to use Music as a platform to reach the minds of those that choose to live within the realm of truth, light, love.

Who is your musical inspiration and why?

I love the electricity that James Brown would have on stage. I love Prince for the daring bravery to be himself, the womaness of Jill Scott, the realness of Erykah Badu, the spark that Janelle Monae brings everytime she performs and Missy Elliot for her swag on every track and uniqueness in each video! Each of these artist never cared about what society thought of them. They stayed true to their vision and to themselves. I admire that a great deal! So often, the entertainment business makes you feel as though you have to sound like what’s popular on the radio. These artist made a CULTURAL IMPACT by just being themselves. That is what I am constantly in awe of when I think about true artistry. Therefore, I make music that makes me feel good and if others feel it as well, then that’s a major BONUS!

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At what point did you realize that singing is something you would enjoy doing so much?

I realized that being an artist is something that I would enjoy at a very early age. I’ve always been very attracted to tones and sounds. I’ll never forget when my father asked me at the age of seven what I wanted to be when I was older. I told him, I wanted to be a singer. He looked puzzled! Being the business man that he his, I’m sure at the time he wanted me to say that I wanted to be a doctor. lol! I believe that children know where their heart lies and it isn’t until they get older and someone tells them that they can’t do it , that their dreams change. We have to encourage our children’s dream. Thankfully, I have supportive family and friends that challenge my career path in loving way. That is important to keep around. I’ve always wanted to be an artist. The dream never dies, it just takes new form.

During your musical journey, have you ever had a moment where you felt like giving up? If so, how did you overcome it?

I can never give up on my journey. I know for a fact that I am to use music as a torch in my life. What becomes difficult is the uncertainty of the road I walk while on this path. The jump from knowing what you want to do to not knowing exactly how to get there causes discomfort. So, I’ve decided to just put one foot infront of the other and just start walking. We will see where the road leads. There’s a beauty to the unknown. It gives you jitters and can be fearful. The challenge is in your approach. So I always question myself, am I going to let fear of the unknown stop me from fulfilling my purpose? The unknown is dark at times. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have my bouts of darkness. However, understanding life’s paradoxes, will teach you that you can not know light without knowing the dark. I say this to say, get to know the side of yourself that is rarely seen to the public because it is that journey in particular that you will grow from the most! That is how I overcome fear, I confront it.

What encouraging words would you give a young Queen that is interested in singing professionally?

The only way you’ll rise, is if you’ve understood the fall. Trust the fibers that make you , YOU! They will guide you into the Phoenix that you are rising to be. Don’t be lazy! Im guilty of that myself, but you are only holding yourself back. Study artist that made people uncomfortable . There is a beauty to their artistry because art is never about comfort. Stay true to your vision. If you can see it, then it is tangible and within your reach! Also, stay woke! Be aware of those that surround you. Ask the higher power to give you a clearer understanding of those that walk with you. Keep your circle small and make sure you are surrounded by those that will check you when needed. Spread love, always!

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My music will be posted on : Soundcloud.com/MadameHunte
Upcoming events will be posted on my

IG: @Madame_Hunte

Facebook: Sharmelle Hunte

Snap: Madame_Hunte

Be on the look out for my upcoming EP entitled: Asylum

I’d like to say, thank you to Bridgette for your love and patience with me throughout this interview. Its such an inspiration to see women supporting other women and I am forever grateful to you for creating such a platform for us to do so. You are a Queen!

Trilogy by Steffy with Unbelievable Truths

This week’s Sister With Vision is a little different. All week, we have been discussing the subject of “Letting Go” and it is with great pleasure that I feature this beautiful and POWERFUL poem written by a fellow blogger and sorority sister of mine. Enduring what she went through and being able to write about it and starting process of “letting go” makes this woman EXTREMELY strong and brave. Please look at this poem written by Steffy with Unbelievable Truths and visit her website.

https://theunbelievabletruths.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/trilogy-2/

Trilogy

Taken

For someone I used to love and only wanted the best for.

Never thought your hate for me would go this far.

To stoop so low.

Like a thief in the night, you slipped in without fright.

Every word you spoke seemed so sly,

Something was certainly different about the look in your eyes.

I lay there trying to ignore your presence,

Clenching my blanket, the aura in the room was of an unfamiliar essence.

A small breeze followed by a cold hand,

Like a skilled bandit, you maneuvered your way in, touching my skin.

Trying to escape… every struggle, every move…

There was nothing I could do; I was trapped under your weight and wide frame.

You moaned, I cried out “stop… no.”

You grunted in pleasure, I grimaced in pain.

You pumped your frustration and hatred in and out of me,

I lay there limp, no facial expression, no emotions… limp.

For what seemed like an eternity, you were finally finished…

Rolling off me with heavy breathing and exhaustion,

The sound of your zipper, felt like nails on a chalk board.

Without a word you left, I lay there flat… face down.

The front door closed and tears flowed harder soaking the sheets under me.

My most prized possession, gone.

Taken.

The Aftermath

Days, weeks, months had passed.

Seconds, minutes, hours… passed

There had been only one soul I had told,

No one seemed to understand,

I blamed myself every day for what happened to me.

I knew some way somehow, this was all my fault.

Feelings of worthlessness consumed me,

Isolation was the best answer.

Isolation from God, friends, life… men.

God, because I couldn’t fathom why He would let such a thing happen.

Friends, because I was afraid of judgment

Life, what is life… something so valuable… stripped right from under me.

Men, the thought of any intimate interaction with the male species turned my stomach

They made my blood boil…

I was so insecure in my skin, in my hair…

I still felt dirty even after numerous showers and scrubbing myself raw.

No one would love me… I was mentally alone.

One night I was lying in my bed, crying myself to sleep,

Just when I thought there was no hope… He spoke

And that was the last time I cried tears of pain.

God gives the toughest battles to His strongest soldiers…

Recovery

“It took a whole damn year to repair my body

It took a whole damn year….. Gon’ take a long long year for me to trust somebody

Gon’ take long long year.”

For an entire year I went through this entire process of feeling less than the soil of the earth to regaining my mental strength and being comfortable with my physical appearance. It would be a lie if I said I was completely healed and had no days where emotionally I was drained from remembering that day. I had to accept that at any time this could happen to anyone when we least expect it and from who we least expect. We don’t expect anyone that we used to love to hurt us in such a way.

“…Get it together

You wanna heal your body

You have to heal your heart

Whatsoever you sow you will reap

Get it together…”

Get it together! That’s exactly what I decided to do. I couldn’t be “broken” forever. Healing me is first on my to-do list. Learning to love me again is one of the greatest tasks I’ve ever accomplished, aside from loving God. I’ve committed to setting my life up for success. Happiness is a must, I am in control of that at all times. If and when I find a life partner, personally I’ll be ready and fully in love with whom I am before attempting to love someone. Building a good soil within my heart to produce a thriving life harvest. To love, wholeheartedly; something I had not done in many years… I’m excited about it! 🙂

Dr. Klein said that firmly believing that success is healing our psychological-emotional-physical wounds and living rightly in a purified body as the free and fearless spirits that we truly are. The absolute best chance we have to heal is by taking the route of allowing the body to do the work on its own terms, without interfering…

“The choice is yours

No matter what it is

To choose life is to choose to forgive

You don’t have to try

To hurt him and break his pride

To shake that weight off

And you will be ready to fly..”

I chose to fly….

Meet Shani Michelle of Genesis 7 Image Consulting

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to this weeks Sister With Vision! We have made it to Week 9 yall!!!! 🙂 This beautiful Queen is a Certified Image Consultant in the DFW area. She makes it clear that she is not just focused on your “image” but the empowerment of women as well. Which I believe is absolutely amazing! Everyone do me a favor and meet, Shani Michelle of Genesis 7 Image Consulting.

Tell me a little about yourself.

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My friends call me Shani Michelle and I’m an Austin native living in Dallas, TX. My passion is supporting women in their efforts to be their best selves. I travel between Dallas and Austin on a regular basis to meet clients for Genesis 7. I love exploring both cities, meeting new people and finding new boutiques, stores, restaurants, and lounges. One of my favorite activities is attending live music shows. I try to go to at least one or two music festivals every year. I love the energy and seeing all of the great festival fashions. I also have an appreciation for art and dance. I danced for 11 years and I was a photographer in high school. I’m starting to get back to those passions and incorporate them into my business as well.

Now tell me a little bit about your business. How did it start? Where did the vision come from?

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I’ve been styling myself, friends, and family members since I can remember but I turned it into a business in 2014 and recently became a certified image consultant. I’ve always enjoyed helping women feel and look their best. In the beginning I had this very holistic approach to providing women with services to be their best selves. I offered coaching in health, wellness, beauty, fashion, fitness, and it was all about living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. After a while I decided that I needed to focus in on just one so I went with the one area that came most naturally to me– style.

Have you reached out into the community? If so, what have you done?

I reach out to other entrepreneurs in the community, so that we can support one another in our work. I’m the organizer of two meetup groups in Austin and Dallas called “Simply Stylish Austin” and “Simply Stylish Dallas”. In late fall, I will start working with non-profit organizations in Austin that help to provide low-income women with clothing and accessories.

What advice would you give a young Queen trying to start their own business?

When God places a passion in your life, just run with it. Don’t ask how or why just do it! Walking in faith toward your destiny empowers you and it empowers others. Second, be grateful for the people and the resources that show up to help you with your business.

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How important do you think it is for us Black people to support other Black owned businesses?

There’s a lot of power and value in the Black dollar and it’s important that we recognize that and support one another. The only reason we have made it this far is through unity and by supporting one another. Black business women have the power to change and uplift their families and communities. Business for me is not just about money, but it is about serving and coaching others to be their best selves holistically. My spirituality encourages me to serve and support women, but I’m also inspired by women like Madame C.J. Walker and others who took risks to make their businesses a reality when Black people faced so many challenges. Black people have to be willing to use their money wisely to build business and to support our businesses. Last year during Blackout Black Friday, the nation saw the power of Black buying power.

How does a person find you and connect with you via social media for questions regarding your business?

Website: http://www.genesis7consulting.com
Email: michelle@genesis7consulting.com
Instagram: @_genesis7_
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/genesis7consulting
LinkedIn: Genesis 7 Image Consulting
Meet Up: Simply Stylish Dallas Simply Stylish Austin
Thumbtack: Genesis 7 Image Consulting
About.me: Shani Michelle
Twitter/Periscope: @Genesis7Style

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Any upcoming events?

We have an October 24th meetup and fashion shoot for women who need photos for their websites, blogs, social media, modeling portfolios, or women just wanting to get some pictures in their best fall outfits. They’ll showcase suede, fringe, lace-up tops and vintage inspired prints. It will be a lot of fun!

Anything else you would like to add?

Yes, style is so empowering for women. Style is something for everyday and not just for events. I consider it a privilege to support women who are choosing to make their lives better every day. One of my favorite quotes is, “Personal style is accepting who you are.” The work I do helps women to appreciate and assert themselves in a world that is always trying to force them into a fashion box. Genesis 7 is about liberating and encouraging women to love and represent themselves in a positive way. For me, style is all about self acceptance and it’s an unspoken language. Your style speaks before you even have a chance to say a word. It’s so important and I truly love helping women live their lives in style.

Shani Michelle
Genesis 7 Consulting
Image & Style Consultant
(972) 674-1023
“Live your life in style.”

Meet Amanda Muhammad of A Peace of Yoga

A couple of Sunday’s ago, I had the pleasure to experience Yoga with a great friend of mine for the first time. It was an absolutely AH-MAZING experience. For once, I was able to relax. My phone was turned off and it was just me and my breathing, and of course my instructor, my favorite “flower child” Manda! I challenge EVERYONE to try a session with her at least once. I promise you will not be disappointed. So please do me a favor and help me introduce to the world, Amanda Muhammad of A Peace of Yoga. 🙂

Tell me a little about yourself.

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My name is Amanda Safiyyah Muhammad, I am 26 years old and was born and raised in Overland Park, Kansas. I attended the University of Kansas for my Undergraduate Degree in Management & Leadership with a Concentration in Human Resources and recently wrapped up my Masters Program at Baker University where I received my degree in Organizational Leadership. I moved to Dallas in October 2013 and it was the best thing I could have possibly done for my future. I have an incredibly odd obsession with sharks, conscious hip-hop music, love all asian foods, and have a thing for helping others maximize their potential. I am a 2nd Grade Reading Teacher by day and yogi/transformational consultant by morning, day and night.

IMG_7720Now tell me a little bit about your business. How did it start? Where did the vision come from?

My vision for A Peace of Yoga began about 6 years ago while taking Wally Meyer’s Entrepreneurship class at the University of Kansas. At the time, my mom (fellow yoga instructor) and I had began taking yoga classes as an avenue for stress relief while we dealt with multiple tragedies that suddenly directly affected our family. Initially, I was going to start a studio in the downtown Kansas City area with hopes of sharing my practice with our community. God had a different plan and I moved to Dallas and lost sight of my vision for APOY for quite some time. I battled with trying to find passion in something from the moment I crossed the stage at The University of Kansas. I held a couple different positions with great companies but never could fill this void I felt deep in my heart. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an incredibly passionate person and I wanted to do something that would allow me to directly impact and serve others. After diving deep back into my yoga practice and continuously getting this rush I didn’t find anywhere else at the end of every single class, I decided to dust off my business plan and make my vision a reality. I realized that yoga, meditation, and empowerment was my vehicle to helping others transform their lives and to create healthier and happier communities.

BIGHave you reached out into the community? If so, what have you done?

I’ve been providing private/small yoga sessions in the DFW area along with Vision Board Consulting and Empowerment/Law of Attraction Coaching. I have partnered with a homeless shelter in the DFW area and teach the clients about yoga, stillness, and the power of positive thinking. I am also putting together an athletic clothing drive as an initiative to promote health and wellness in underserved communities. My ultimate goal is to create safe spaces, make yoga accessible to everyBODY (literally), and to help others with their journey to self acceptance and peace.

What advice would you give a young Queen trying to start their own business?

My advice to a fellow Queen is to start before you’re ready, fail fast, be your own number one fan and be cautious of your surroundings. I know it sounds crazy but hear me out. If you wait for the perfect time to take a risk, you will never take it. Your dream will literally be the dusty statue on that shelf you clean one time a year. Go for it. If it doesn’t work out exactly the way you wanted it to, good, you just learned something new for the next journey when you pick yourself up and try again. Experience has hands down been the best teacher for me in learning how to run a business and maintain professional relationships.

It is so important that you cheer yourself on and surround yourself with people who are proud of you and support you in your endeavors… only. My Line Sister doubles as my accountability and vent partner where we lay it all out on the table and help each other to get through the rough days and celebrate the great ones. The reality that you will find is that some people simply want you to be the caterpillar that they met and want nothing to do with the butterfly you are evolving into. That’s the beautiful thing about becoming the butterfly.. you can fly away. Dismiss yourself from negativity and distractions and stay focused on the big picture. No one but you can see your vision and create your reality. My general rule of thumb is to assess the five people that you are hanging around or communicating with the most, are they adding or subtracting from you reaching your goal(s)? Recognize that these five people make up the person that you are and determine the type of relationship you desire to maintain with that person if any.

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How important do you think it is for us as blacks to support other black owned businesses?

I’ve always known the importance of supporting black owned businesses because I grew up watching my father develop and run one. However, I didn’t FEEL the importance of it until I actually began developing my own. If you know a fellow King or Queen that is trying to do something on their own, support them. Whether it is liking or sharing a post, purchasing a good or service, or even advertising by word of mouth – trust me; it means a lot. There needs to be a higher level of respect and appreciation for entrepreneurs and their businesses in our community. Money circulates zero to one time within the black community, compared to the more than six times it circulates in the Latino community, nine times in the Asian community and unlimited amount of times within the white community, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth. Stop looking for handouts and find ways to partner or collaborate with businesses versus devaluing our people’s efforts. I think it is incredibly important to bring diversity of all kinds to your businesses, of course, but there is something profound and very beautiful when it comes to watching our people come together and support each others visions.

How does a person find you and connect with you via social media for questions regarding your business?

My Instagram and Twitter Handle are both @sfmako1908. I can be directly reached at APOYpractice@gmail.com or through my website, APeaceOfYoga.com

Any upcoming events?

As mentioned before, This fall I will be launching an athletic clothing drive to encourage health and wellness in underserved communities. More information regarding that initiative will be available soon. If you are interested in donating or partnering, please feel free to reach out to me at APOYpractice@gmail.com

Thanks Amanda for the wonderful interview! 🙂

If you know someone or would like to be featured on week on Sister’s with Vision please email me at Sisters.With.Vision2015@gmail.com

Sisterly Love,

B

Meet Thee Black Bradshaw Carrie Sierra

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to this week’s Sister With Vision. Let me tell you how this young lady has helped me through some of my most recent darkest of hours. She has truly an amazing spirit and a smile that can light up a room. And she has style out this world. She was my inspiration and gave me the push I needed to actually jump start my blog. So please meet Thee Black Bradshaw, Carrie Sierra.

 Tell me a little about yourself?

I am Thee Black Bradshaw CarrieSierra. I am a blogger, wardrobe stylist, and Inspirationist. Optimistic goal digger who is constantly evolving as I figure out this thing called life.

Have you ever dealt with insecurities? If so, how did you overcome them?

Yes, I’ve definitely dealt with my own share of insecurities. To be honest I still deal with some to this day. Once I started to figure out who I was in Christ my insecurities started to minimize themselves. I fully grasp the concept that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. There’s no one on this planet like me and I am a daughter of the King. I’m not going to say that I still don’t have my days, we all do. I just constantly remind myself that I am worthy and those insecurities are minuscule compared to the gifts the Lord has blessed me with.

What does being “perfectly imperfect” mean to you?

Being 100% comfortable in your own skin. Knowing that it’s okay to not be perfect. Not harping on those insecurities, doing so does nothing but destroy any self esteem and self
worth one does has. No need to b perfect we serve a perfect God and that’s all that matters. Besides He’s not looking for perfection, He loves us regardless in our stages of brokenness and that’s what makes being “perfectly imperfect” so perfect.

 If you had the chance, what would be one thing you would tell a young girl dealing with low self esteem or insecurities?

To remember that there’s no one in this world like her. She was in fact fearfully and wonderfully made. Hating yourself or dwelling on those insecurities does nothing but breed more insecurities. She can convert that negative energy into something else positive. Try pointing out things she loves about herself. All in all the heart that’s meant to love you will see those “insecurities” as perfect.

carriebabyNow tell me a little bit about your business. How did it start? Where did the vision come from? Have you reached out into the community? If so, what have you done?

I own my own blog and wardrobe styling business. My brand is referred to as Thee Black Bradshaw. It’s crazy how it came about, growing up I’ve always been into fashion and I was semi obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw’s closet off of Sex in the City. In the beginning my business was solely suppose to be about fashion but over time as I slowly found out who I was and what my purpose was it blossomed into so much more. I aim to be more than just a wardrobe stylist, I want to transform people’s lives. By sharing inspiration, being completely transparent, and walking in my purpose God has destined for me. I have reach out yet within my community but I do have many ideas that I’ll be putting into affect on the near future.

What advice would you give a young Queen trying to start their own business?

Don’t over think it just start. I think the hardest part about starting a business is actually making the first step. We become so overwhelmed thinking about everything we need to accomplish that we never start. Break everything down to the simplest form. Ask yourself daily, “What can I do today that’ll put me one step closer to making my dreams a reality?” and do just that. Remember slow progress is better than no progress at all. Another important factor is never compare. Comparison is the thief of joy. How can you water and nurture your own grass when your worried about what’s on the other side. You can’t enjoy your own meal if your focussed on the next mans plate. Find your purpose, create your “Why”, and stay in your lane. You’ll make it to your destination.

How important do you think it is for us as blacks to support other black owned businesses?

It’s critical that we support one another. Imagine how many more jobs will be created if we supported more black businesses.

How does a person find you and connect with you via social media for questions regarding your business?

http://www.theeblackbradshaw.com
TheeBlackBradshaw@gmail.com
IG: @TheeBlackBradshaw

Any upcoming events?

I’m currently working on a website release gathering as well as starting my own YouTube channel. Wish me luck xoxoxo

Meet Montoya Jackson of The Nosk Caj

It is Week 6 of SWV and I am absolutely excited to introduce you all to Ms. Montoya Jackson. It was an honor to learn more about her business and her passion for event planning and design. I have been stalking her IG and her arrangements are simply amazing! You can tell she adds the perfect touch to any event and room! Not only that, she uses her talents to help in her community. Please meet and support this Black Queen, Montoya Jackson of The Nosk Caj. 🙂

Tell me a little about yourself.

My name is Montoya Jackson. I am 26 years old and a Design and Events Stylist. My business is called The Nosk Caj (Jackson spelled backwards). I am very ambitious, driven, I love to travel, and I am working towards my purpose in life!

Now tell me a little bit about your business. How did it start?

My business focuses on Design & Event Planning. I specialize in Interior Design, Studio Set Design and Events. Here’s a quick story before I actually explain what executed into me getting started. In 2010 I was dating this guy and we were watching House Hunters on HGTV and I was so in tune with the house selections on the show. I basically was giving my opinion on what should be and what shouldn’t. So he says to me, “You should go to school for this type of stuff, you’re really into it.” At that time I didn’t know what I really wanted to do, but that sparked a flame in my spirit and planted a seed. During that same year started I was helping one of my mentors move back into her home due to family circumstances. Her home was pretty much a fixer upper so we decided to give her home a makeover in the process we stripped and re-stained her floors, coated fresh paint on the walls, re-stained her kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and added new counter-tops. The process was very time consuming and tedious, but the finished product turned out to be beyond our expectations. To me, I was being of service and helping someone re-create a safe haven in her home. Within that I found pleasure as well and experience. After the 2 1/2 month process she was back living in her home and well. Upon the following year, I enrolled in school at El Centro Community College located in Downtown Dallas where I enrolled in their Interior Design Department. I was ready and willing to learn the needs in becoming a great designer.

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This red and white event was my first actual event back February. There were about 150 guest attending this event. It was hard work but I executed it.

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This set up was for the Woman of Purpose Conference prepared by Founder Jessica Chinyelu this past April. These shots were taken from the dinner for the guest speakers. What an amazing conference. Something soft and simple.


Where did the vision come from?

I would say the vision came from me wanting to do something for others. I’ve always been in the arts and creative and this was the perfect avenue where I could shine. I’ve always wanted to utilize my creativity somehow. My vision and goal is to create something no one else could have. Its all individually exclusive.

Have you reached out into the community? If so, what have you done?

I just signed up to volunteer with a non profit called Dwell with Dignity. They are a home design service specializing for special families that go through programs for housing assistance. Families have to meet certain credentials in order to receive DWD’s home design service. Dwell with Dignity gives back to families on a weekly basis where they go in and do lighting, plumbing,and furniture installs to have ready before the family even moves in. Many families don’t have the necessary means to furnish and polish their home in the desire they would want. What’s refreshing is they will come home to something that is promising and elevating. With this opportunity, it will be great because I’m helping to create a safe environment for less fortunate families, also learning and getting experience, and able to network. I’m looking forward to what’s in store with this group.

What advice would you give a young Queen trying to start their own business?

Advice I would give for young queens on starting their business is to first figure out what you want to do, second pray if this is what God wants for you, third know your worth and have the confidence. Many will not understand your dream and they are not supposed to. The people that understands will be right there supporting you, encouraging you, and praying that you go higher in life. Also network, get your name out there, always have your business cards on hand you never know who you will come in contact with. If you stay ready you will never have to get ready! Be the best you and don’t look back! Being an entrepreneur is a hustle and bustle but the reward is always great it’s not always about the money but being a servant as well. Every business has a service and you are here to”SERVE” serve your clients so they will have the best experience to come back to you and to expose you to those that are awaiting for you. Black Queens be great and keep going!

How important do you think it is for us as blacks to support other black owned businesses?

I think it is very important for our race to support our black owned businesses because we can build one another to reach that mindset, put our communities in better shape, our children or younger generations would have something to live for, and we would be able to maximize what we have to better platforms. It’s also relatively important because there aren’t enough leaders, too many followers. There’s never enough room for improvement, if we remain teachable and coachable and not willing to settle for the bare minimum, our future would not only be great but show what our race stands for. We should stand for PURPOSE!

The floral arrangement with place settings was a set up for my launch Party this past July. I created this versatile set for in doors and outdoors. I wasn’t set on doing rustic designs but rustic has became one of the loves of my life.

This floral arrangement is a wedding inspired set design that was arranged by myself, Pastries and sweets by Amber Williams of Le Rouge Cuisine, and Photography by Kali Rogers. The bouquet was actually the floral arrangement I used in the beginning. I added twine rope around the stems to give a rustic feel, using the blues and purple gives said sting and summer time. A great ideal look for an outdoor wedding or dinner party.

I used different accessories for the coffee table because (1) it was a large coffee table two using golds, champagnes, and pewters help bring warmth into this room. The living space is just a sitting room but hosts plenty of elegant style.

I used different accessories for the coffee table because (1) it was a large coffee table two using golds, champagnes, and pewters help bring warmth into this room. The living space is just a sitting room but hosts plenty of elegant style.


How does a person find you and connect with you via social media for questions regarding your business?

I’m active on all social media you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @thenoskcaj or for more information email me at thenosk.caj@gmail.com. Also to check out my website for portfolio or to learn more about me visit my website at thenoskcaj.com Sidebar: I’m very active on my Instagram. 🙂

Any upcoming events?

I’m actually planning an Event which will be a Design Class. I will be having Design Classes where I will teach on different topic of design and have special guest come in as well. The classes will be hands on and more of a team player class. I want those attending to go home knowing they have learned something as well as having some sort of design expertise.  Stay tuned for more details.

Anything else you would like to add?

To those who are wanting to start a business or something that their passionate about DO IT. If it’s a burning in your chest, or you feel led to be a leader and stepping out into your own thing go for it. No one can stop you but you! YOU WERE ALREADY AMAZING BEFORE YOU STARTED!

Meet Amber Williams of “Le Rouge Cuisine”

Wow! I can’t believe we have already made it to our 5th member of S.W.V. I’m super excited about that! 🙂 I’m even more excited about introducing this young, beautiful, driven Queen to you all. It was an absolute honor to interview her and learn so much more about the person behind her business and you will see why once you take a look.

Every please meet another Sister With Vision….Amber Williams of “Le Rouge Cuisine.”

amber2Tell me a little about yourself.

My full name is Amber Williams. I am 26 years old, born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I am a 2011 Graduate of Grambling State University with a Bachelors of Science in Business Management. I am a hugely active person. I cheered from the 4th grade to all 4 years at Grambling state on the collegiate level, I love dance, music is a great passion of mine and basically anything pertaining to the arts, but of course, my first love is cooking.

Now tell me a little bit about your business. How did it start? Where did the vision come from?

Although I was born and raised in the metroplex, where my father is from, my mother is from Baton Rouge, LA and we have huge roots in southern Louisiana and Mississippi. On each side of the family, our common connection was the kitchen and From Grandma and Papa, to aunts, uncles and cousins, everyone had their specialty and when we joined together, everyone had their spot in the kitchen and/or grill and magic would happen. So being in the kitchen is huge pass time for me and it’s always where I feel at ease. With this love, I began making small dessert bites, cakes, brownies, etc in college and selling them. From then, people started to order more, then I began studying the art of decorating cakes and practicing on my own and my passion grew. As time went on, I knew that serving people was what I wanted to do and I set my eyes upon going to culinary school after obtaining my Bachelors. Well as God ahead other plans for me, I did not attend culinary school but I did not let that stop my journey. I continued to work at my craft and practice, using my friends as guinea pigs and finally I just wrote down a few business names and prayed over them and one stuck out-this is how Le Rouge Cuisine Food Company is born. ‘Le Rouge Cuisine’ simply translates to “The Red Kitchen” in French, which culminates my Créole roots. Red is the color of passion, power and zeal and with the kitchen being My Domain, it just stuck.

Have you reached out into the community? If so, what have you done?

There are so many places I want Le Rouge Cuisine to go, but it has to start at home first. Currently, I assist my culinary ministry at my church and I help feed our Pastor and staff for meetings and special events, while also preparing food for our Seniors and the men and women enrolled in our Adult Rehabilitation program. But there is so much more to come.

What advice would you give a young Queen trying to start their own business?

Just 2 weeks prior I made the daunting decision to leave corporate America and take on my catering company full time. No, the stars didn’t align up, No, I didn’t have a large sum of money stored up, nor did I have a calendar of clients lined up as well-it was all God. To the Young Queen with a vision, faith, support and vision will be your greatest tools. You must always Keep God first for He should be leading you along the way. This walk is a hard one, so make sure you have at least 1 person, if not more, you can keep in your corner ands honest, good support-you’ll need it. And stay true to your vision, that’s one thing that no one can take away from you. Believe in your vision, invest in it and be the best boss you can be.

How important do you think it is for us as blacks to support other black owned businesses?

Now, more than ever, the Black dollar is so powerful yet so undervalued. In the DFW metroplex alone, they are projecting thousands of people to move here every year and the Black business community is steadily growing. One of my main focuses is Networking. I think it is so important to link together with like-minded driven people in your realm to promote unity, support and mutual promotions for all. I think once we support ourselves and each other, our voice can be heard, our businesses can thrive and society will take us seriously and we can be in a positive, thriving light.

How does a person find you and connect with you via social media for questions regarding your business?

Currently, you can find Le Rouge Cuisine on Instagram at @Lerougecuisine and all inquires or questions can be sent to me via email at Lerougecuisine@yahoo.com. My Facebook is being worked on and website will come shortly thereafter. I am currently working on a blog as well entitled “FOODIES UNITE”. It will include How-To instructional for easy recipes, Tips & Tricks on easy cooking shortcuts, and I will be highlighting the hottest, restaurants and eateries known specifically to Dallas.

Le Rouge Cuisine services include, but are not limited to:
Wedding cakes and dessert table
Corporate and special event catering
Private chef services
Private or group Cooking fundamental lessons
Meal prep services and more

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Meet Adjwoa Hogue of Pan-African Connection

When I moved to Dallas the first people to take me in and help me to get on my feet were Adjwoa and Akwete. So when I say they are definitely about giving back to the community and helping those around them, I mean it. More importantly, their business has been apart of the South Dallas community for 26 years and we want to keep them there! Although I love all my Queens, this feature is very important and dear to my heart because it showcases a business that has done wonders for people of color since their opening. So please do me a favor and meet my sister and my friend….Adjwoa Hogue of Pan-African Connection.
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Tell me a little about yourself and the founders of your business.

I’m Adjwoa which is an African name from Ghana that means born on Monday, Beautiful, and intelligent.  I’m a recent graduate of UAPB ,who loves meeting new people, traveling, and trying new things. I’m a community activist/organizer and Co-Owner of Pan-African Connection Bookstore & Resource center in Sunny South Dallas. The Pan-African Connection was founded 26years ago by my father Bandele Tyehimba and my mother Akwete as a tool to organize, educate Black/African people in America about the dignity and greatness of their history and culture. In 2012,when my dad passed away I vowed to help our store anyway I could and “da store” became my new Love!

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7C4A3E10-1903-44E3-A93F-4CEAF35ADC95Now tell me a little bit about your business and what you all have done for the community that you live in.

Where do I begin? Lol .We are more than just a bookstore/art gallery, we are an institution of learning and community space. We hold free workshops, on entrepreneurship, healthy and holistic living, children African dancing and drumming, farmers market, lectures, uplifting films, festivals, and so much more. We  are a business that grows, as our community grows.

What advice would you give a young girl trying to start their own business?

Don’t worry about how much money you have, just make a plan of action, surround yourself with friends and family who support you and find your market and implement your plan. Just jump out there and do. The longest journey, starts with the first step.

How important do you think it is for us as blacks to support other black owned businesses?

We are all we have. We must help each other survive. Our businesses, especially independent cultural businesses are closing daily. We are barley sustaining our business at this time. Rent is too high and no one seems to see the importance of culture as a tool to uplift our community. Yes, my father use to say to me “if we don’t support ourselves, no one else will”.

IMG_0014How does a person find you and connect with you via social media?

They can follow us on:
Instagram: @PAC_Dallas
Facebook : Pan African Connection
Website : PanAfricanConnection.com

Any upcoming events?

We have many events weekly, the easiest way to get information is to email us at panafric@airmail.com or give us a phone (214)943-8262 your email information and we                                                        will forward information to you.

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Anything else you would like to add?

Yes, we want to thank the community for their support. They have been with us from the beginning and we are eternally grateful. We are in need of your help, in this moment to help with rental and other expenses.

You can go to gofundme: http://www.gofundme.com/fc2t9wj8

What a wonderful interview! Please do me as well as the community of South Dallas a favor by clicking on the link above to donate to this great establishment. No amount is to small or too big! And as always, thank you reading.

Love,

B