Meet Brittany Polk!

Name and Location

Britany Polk

1.    What is your passion in life?

My passion is to be a successful creative director/designer/stylist lol.  I love helping people, especially when it involves clothing and accessory choices.

2.    What is your current job?

I currently work as an accounting assistant in a law firm.  This by no means is my career.  It’s that “I needed a job out of college and this is what I came up with” instance.  I received my Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications and am looking to utilize that degree in the creative field.  So now I am on a serious job hunt (anyone in the Chicago area can definitely forward me any job openings if you hear of anything lol).

3.    Do you own your own business? If so, what is the name and the mission? 

I did take a leap of faith and launched my own business called Luxcheri, pronounced “luxury” with Cheri being my middle name.   Right now it is a compilation of handmade jewelry and accessories along with vintage jewelry.  I plan to add my own clothing line and reconstructed/thrifted vintage clothing, but I am starting small first in order to build a solid customer base.  The mission is to provide unique options for anyone’s styling needs, whether it’s with jewelry or clothing.  I am all about one-of-a-kind pieces because it allows people to express their personal style without being cookie cutter.

4. Did you have any fears when first starting your business?

I have what you call kakorrhaphiophobia, fear of failing.  I know I am not the only one.  Sometimes, that gets the best of my and like in so many past projects, I would just give up.  But this time, I am like, what the heck, if I fail, at least I tried and I can always try again until I succeed.  After all success is nothing without failure.  So this time in my endeavors, I am really pushing myself to go beyond the limits and just produce things that I like and stick with it, good or bad.

5. Did you have any insecurities when first starting your own business?

Yes!! I always get this feeling that people will not like what I produce and that scares me.  Often times, I hold back more in those instances rather than just letting it be.  I put a lot of time, energy, and thought into the pieces I create, so just like anyone else, I always want to hear good feedback.  But I have realized everyone rocks to the rhythm of their own drum, so I have to understand some people will like it and some people won’t.  I just make sure I go hard for those who do like it.

6.    Describe your brand in one word.

Powerful

7.    Do you have any past failures that you can tell what you did to learn from them?

I have failed many times, so it’s hard to pick just one instance, but if I had to pick one, it would be not going for my dream in the beginning.  What I mean by that is, I wish I would have followed my heart when deciding on college.  Don’t get me wrong, college is and has been very great to me, but I just wish I would have went to fashion school instead of the traditional college.  I let people get into my head saying it’s going to be hard, not enough money, blah, blah, blah.  If I had followed my own heart, I think I would have been better off.  So I would consider that a failure, not following my own heart.  But now I try to listen to my gut instincts and just go for what I like instead of letting others persuade me.

8. Who are your target consumers? Would you want to change this?

Urban professionals are my target consumer.  I don’t think I would change this.  I think urban professionals have a lot of purchasing power, which is a very good thing.

9.    What inspires you?

This is a hard question because it is literally everything from color to art or even random people on the bus or walking down the street as I go to work.  I love looking at things and picking them apart to see what else it can become.

10. Who inspires you?

I have a few people who inspire me.

My mom – for her creativity and sense of style.  I learned a lot from her.

My pooh Felix – for his motivation, drive, and positive reinforcement that actually helped me jump start my business.

Aunt Bonita – the most outgoing and creative woman you’ll ever meet. She keeps it real all the time and she’s herself without any regrets.

Andrea aka Peachie – She is a very influential and inspirational person in my life as she is a young entrepreneur who has really been a mentor to me in helping me start my journey.

11. What is always at the back of your mind?

I am always trying to figure out what’s next and how can I make it unique.  Everyone and their momma create jewelry or clothing to some capacity and what I don’t ever want to do is copy or mimic someone else.  I always want it to be a reflection of me.  I have found that hard as some of the bracelets I create are similar to other designers, and that is one of the main reasons I decided to expand outside of that.  I like things to be my own.  Of course if my customers ask for something, I make it happen, but I always try to put my own twist on things.

12. What do you want to change about your job or career right now? 

The monotony.  I like to be moving around, not stuck at a desk entering in data all day, and that’s pretty much what I do.  It becomes very hard on some days when there is absolutely nothing to do.  I want a job that I actually look forward to going to everyday.  But as of now, I have to be thankful that I have a job.

13. What advice do you have for others?

Go for what you know and what you like.  Once you get that mindset, nothing can really stop you at that point.

14. How do you motivate yourself?

I look at my current situation and ask myself is this what I want to be doing in the next 5, 10, 15 years and then I kick it into high tail gear and start sketching and creating.  I want to enjoy my life, not be a negative Nancy about why nothing is going right.  You have to enjoy life.

15. Did you have any obstacles that you overcame to get to where you are now?

I think during this whole process, I have had to become more talkative.  I tend to be a tad quiet and very modest/shy when it comes to projects I am working on or am a part of. It’s weird because a part of me does like the limelight, and then the other part is like, no it’s too much.  But I definitely have been coming out of my shell more and that’s pretty big for me.

16. Where can we find you on the web?

I am working on getting my website together as we speak. The launch  date was suppose to be on August 17th, an ode to my mother for her birthday, but there have been some technical difficulties that have come up. So I am planning to launch in a couple of weeks.  I at least hope to be running on August 31.

Website: www.shopluxcheri.com

Instagram: luxcheri

Twitter: @luxcheri

Blog: www.luxcheri.blogspot.com


Graduation !!!!

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                                                                                                         Class of 2012

I just graduated with my Master of Arts from Lindenwood University and I cannot be more happier.  Yes, I have my Bachelors degree but I played through that degree, I worked but didn’t really work, this degree came with long nights and tears.  There were many nights where I sat at my computer crying because I didn’t know if wanted to give up or continue on with getting this degree. Life is what you make it, even though I thought about giving up many times I am grateful that I didn’t and that I have people in my corner that helped me through those hard times. This degree came with stress, depression, uncertainty if I was doing the right thing, and sooooo on….. I thank GOD that I didn’t give up. I am a living testimony in more ways than one on doing the best to stay on the right path and not in confusion. Confusion will not leave but it’s what you do with it that makes a difference.

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My sista Alesia graduated with her Masters degree as well!

Who has a testimony that they would like to share about a hard time in their life and they were able to get through it still smiling?


Pariah Review

Saint Louis finally got the movie… a couple of friends and I went on opening day… Not many people were there, I’ll say a good 20 people…… that’s pushing it. Of course there were more white people than African American… this is a movie that I feel everyone should see no matter your sexual orientation, however, I do feel that LBGTQ’s needs to see it more….These words are my opinions, please go watch the movie for yourself to get a better understanding.

Pariah:

http://focusfeatures.com/pariah/photos

Alike–played by Adepero Oduye, a young African American woman, senior year of high school, and apart of a family that is full of silent dysfunction.

Which starts with her parents.

Mother Audrey—played by Kim Wayans is overbearing and controlling.

Father Arthur—played by Charles Parnell non-existent because he does not want to be with mother. He’s a police officer and uses that to his advantage, and is never home.

Alike’s younger sister Sharonda—played by Sahra Melesse is the “prodigal” child according to her mother.. she happens to love being a “girl” …

Alike is identifying to be more masculine.

Alikes close friend, Laura—played by Pernell Walker a stud… who is in love with Alike but refuses to tell her (I was able to sense some liking from the first interaction).

Alike’s mother Audrey does not like Laura because she feels that she is influencing her in a negative way.  Audrey is odd, she has issues communicating, in a scene while she was at work on lunch, she is very uncomfortable being around people.  I believe it’s because of low and lack of self-esteem that she never handled from the past, plus having to deal with her husband cheating but not wanting to divorce, add that with her two children being aggravated with her.

Alike mother forces her to become friends with one of her co-workers daughter Bina—played by Aasha Davis, Audrey thinks Bina will have a “positive” influence on Alike… Bina however, is a wild child.  So much so that Bina ends up being Alike’s first and breaking her heart, because she just wanted to chill and have sex.  Even though Alike’s feelings were hurt, that moment was all of the confirmation that she needed.  She knew from that first kiss that the feelings she’d been having were indeed real.

Alike acknowledged that she was a lesbian.  She found her voice.

Her mother proceeds to beat her, Alike packs up some clothes and goes to stay with Laura.  Audrey goes on with life as if nothing happened and the next scene while they are eating dinner Sharonda mentions to her father that he needs to go find Alike.  Alike finds out that she can graduate high school early, and asks her father to sign the paperwork.  Alike goes to her mother’s job to tell her she loved her and to let her know of her plans, Audrey acts as if she is not there, and tells her she will pray for her then walks away.  Alike moves across country to attend a prestigious college writing program..

This film hits on many issues in the African American family..acting as if everything is alright when deep down you know it’s not. Numerous stereotypes are throughout this movie. Some of the stereotypes maybe true for some, but false for others. The point is light being shown on the issues in our families. Homosexuality is not a disease and I do not feel that it is wrong.  God made me and I know for a fact that he did not make any mistakes when he designed me. I know that the family issues when it comes to acknowledging your child is “different” and not going the way you want them to go are in my family. I have talked openly about how my family has responded to me coming out, although I have not been disowned, they have moments when the words they let come out of their mouth equate to diarrhea.  I have no control over that so I continue to live my life.. As it would be pleasing to God, not man.

Website link again… http://focusfeatures.com/pariah


Me, Myself, and I Circa 2005

Here is a paper I did Spring 2005… My second semester in college….. I was 19 and angry at the world.. The growth that I have done is AMAZING…

“Every year I ask myself, what do I want to change about me? It is always the same statement: I want to change my bad ass attitude.  It never fails; I will be nice or try   to act nice for about a good week; then I will back to my old ways giving any and everybody attitude.  So this year I made more than one New Year’s Resolution so I could at lease accomplish one.  The first one is of course to change my attitude, but that one can wait a while because my second one is to get off of academic probation.  This one will be the most challenging one because I messed up so early and I have a low grade point average.  I played around last semester and this is where I ended up feeling low and stupid and I will work harder than ever this semester so that I can earn a 3.0 grade point average and get out of the gutter.  I have to do this for me because I am the one who is suffering. I am the one who got me into this and I have to be the one to get myself out of it.

The first resolution will always be hard for me because people do not know what other people go through from day to day and when people jump to conclusions or say blurt things out it upsets me.  I am one of those girls that many always hear about with the bad attitude problem.  I have a major one and it will not be a good idea to get on my bad side because it will be over then.  When I try to be nice, it does not work.  I feel as if I am being phony, so I go back to the way I was, or stop trying to be nice.  Hopefully I will change for the better because I do not want the reputation of being “The Bitch”, but I also do not want the reputation of the soft girl that take anything.  Many say I will die from a heart attack and I do not want that; so maybe if I go to some anger management classes I will have a much better attitude.  I am the biggest baby on earth, but have the saddest attitude.  What kind of combination is that?

My second and most important New Year’s Resolution will be easy to achieve if I just sit down and focus for once in my life.  When I want something badly, I get it and I want so badly to get off of academic probation so all I have to do is do it and stop talking about it.  I am going to accomplish this by earning a 3.0 grade point average in all of my classes.  Studying is the big priority for me because I do not know how to study.  I never had to study until last semester and I see where that got me.  Going to tutoring whenever I need help will be hard for me.  My pride and ego is the cause of this. I am too big headed and need to know that it is okay to not understand a certain subject and not being ashamed to show it or tell.

My grades never struggled in high school the way they did last semester and it is very embarrassing to have to take a class over with the same teacher knowing that I slacked in her class.  Making this 3.0 grade point average will benefit my life so much because I will not be on academic probation anymore. I will be able to transfer if I still desire to do so next year.  Also, I will feel good about myself knowing I set a goal and achieved it, and it was dealing with school, and I did it with out a problem.  A person may not have any flaws on the outside.  They might not be visible, but that does not mean that they do not have any problems at all.  This is me, I am so messed up on the inside, and I know what I have to do to change what is wrong.  I have to start with the most important problem right now.  My education and whatever else will have to come second.”


Mentoring OUR Youth

When you sit back and think back to the years when you were in grade school through high school, what do you remember the most? DO you remember bullying, having sex in the corner stairwell hall, being made fun of because you didn’t have the “in” clothes, getting good grades, tutoring or getting tutored, being mentored by someone older ??

Now think about where you are now, and the conversations that your sisters, cousins, brothers, nephews, or nieces are having?

Are you worried that they are getting the wrong information?

I am… and I mentor..

When a teenager asks ‘What does fucking feel like” what should you say?  I can remember thinking about questions like this when I was a teenager.  I remember hearing my auntie telling me that sex is emotional and feels great when it is with the right person.  So again… what should we tell our young ladies when they ask questions like the one above?

 

Other questions I have been asked:

Can you take me to get an abortion?

Can you buy me some condoms?

Can you tell my mom that I am NOT having sex if she asks you?

What does getting and giving head feel like?

Is it okay to reuse condoms?

I thought sex is supposed to feel good, why does it hurt?

 

YOU get the point.. and these are questions from teens who are actively having sex and they are confused about the whole idea of having sex..

 

I have been mentoring since I was 15 with the neighborhood cheerleading team under my Aunt who was the head coach.  These girls were asking me questions about sex that I’d never heard of.. they just assumed that I knew and I am sure I led them the wrong way a couple of times. Butttt it was good to have older friends and to be smart. See I was in honor courses and the upperclassmen were in just about all of my classes soooo I learned and took notes… I first found out about orgasms, oral sex, SEX, and more SEX…You get the picture..(I truly don’t know if that was a good or bad thing..)

 

ANYWHOO…

 

When mentoring a young woman it is your job to provide her with the correct tools and mind frame to help her along her way.  I talk, do activities, give homework (and expect it to be done), and spend time.  I am consistent with them, and I let them know that nothing is off limits, meaning no questions or topics are too personal.  The purpose of me mentoring young women is to help shape and mold them into honest women of our future.  Our youth is hurting tremendously.. and Amber Cole is not the first teen to do something that her boyfriend asked of her because she thought she was in love, teens and “adults” do these type of behaviors daily. BUT the question is WHY are our teens feeling like they must give head or have sex to fit in.

 

I know that I am in the minority when I say that children should be sheltered… my grandmother raised me that way and I believe I came out just fine, of course I had a little bumps along the way, but her strictness was for the better. I grew up in Chicago…we know about the statistics for STDs, STIs, HIV/AIDS there..  I know live in St. Louis and the rates are astronomical in the high schools. These rates will NOT leave until we get real about mentoring, and teaching our teens safe sex and abstinence.

Think about how you can help a teenager out, and make sure that they are going to be prepared for this world that we are living in..

 

Thank you for reading..


Helping not Condemning

This situation brought to my attention on twitter about Amber Cole, I feel that I have to say my piece.. I found out about this 14-year-old child who has been misguided and I took up for her like she was my little sister, cousin, or mentee.  I did (and will do it again for someone else) so because grown women were calling her all types of names and saying that she “was a fast little (insert your derogatory word of choice)”  I did not and still do not agree with those statements.  Yes, she was filmed giving head to a young boy who was in her class outside and could have looked like she enjoyed it (I don’t know did not watch the video because I don’t feel that I should participate in watching child pornography)

Here are some reasons and questions as to why we know about her (and most importantly, why weren’t these students in school and why didn’t their prospective teachers notice they were missing):

  1. Ignorant little boys using technology and watching like it was a freak show.
  2. How has her life been so far growing up? Meaning was she molested, did she watch others have sex, was she taught about self-esteem, was she taught about self-worth, did her mother tell her she betta not be fucking but she heard and saw her mother doing the same. All of these scenarios should be included into the fact that she was acting out for attention.
  3. Was she bullied or made fun of?  This question matters because peer pressure is REAL in case none of you knew, also did this guy force her to come outside and give him head.  Force? Yes, force meaning he would tell people that she did it when she really did not so she would still be made fun of and ostracized so she went ahead and did it.  Now she is being called hoe/slut all over the United States.. (How soon do you GROWN people forget that you used to do the same activities.. Some of you gave head or was being fast and got caught kissing at school and was caught on the camera or you knew where the cameras were NOT placed and was able to get away with it.  How about looking in the mirror before condemning this child)

Now let’s talk about solutions so that there will not be another Amber Cole in this technology advanced world.

  1. Mentoring.  This is the number one way to help out our teens whom are misguided and look to the media whether it’s the television or internet for information.  This is truer that you may want to admit.  We have the boom of rappers talking about how they “banged some hoe” the night before.. have rappers talking about how  “you can have whatever you like” but you gotta do something for it be it sex or begging.  Think about how you can help one teen out instead of talking about how “fast they are”
  2. Blogging about positive things and posting it for teens to see. Going to places where they are and cutting out sheets of paper with your blog site, giving them five reasons why they should visit.  If you draw them in, you will have their attention.  Reading about self-worth, self-esteem, healthy relationships, safe sex, physical fitness, and etc will be a great outlet for them.
  3. Stop posting sex-a-pades and tips for teens to see.  Not saying you cannot be who you are, but limiting this can be a huge help for them.  Remember me saying that the internet is where they are going for information.
  4. Speaking about how to have healthy sex and relationships and talk about abstinence but NOT just that.  Telling a 16-year-old that they should not have sex is just like telling your 28-year-old self that you can’t have a cupcake.  Sex is going to happen so instead of ignoring it, how about we provide healthy avenues for them to come and ask questions. (It is being talked about in the most raunchiest detail as I type and you read this post)

All of these tips work, I know from experience have younger cousins and I have two mentee(s).  When you are a positive light you will draw individuals to you and our teens need more positive avenues.  They are not seeing enough, they have stressors coming across their eyes daily, from not being “cute” enough, “skinny” enough, “popular” enough, or “smart” enough.  When in reality these life lessons should be coming from home, BUT they are not.  Therefore, WE as a community have to step in to help.

Think about being apart of the solution and not problem.


Meet Ryan Burrell

  1. What is your passion in life? Hair is my passion in life. I really do love my job!
  2. What is your current job?  Hair stylist
  3. Do you own your own business? If so, what is the name and the mission? As a hairstylist you own your brand so in a way. I do have my own business Ryan Burrell Hair.  My mission is to stay true to what I love and that’s beauty.
  4. Did you have any fears when first starting your business? The only fear I had was when it came to my website. I wanted my image to be clean, classic and professional.
  5. Did you have any insecurities when first starting your own business? I had insecurities not with the business but with myself and I’m still working on it.
  6. Describe your brand in one word. CLEAN
  7. Do you have any past failures that you can tell what you did to learn from them? To be honest, I don’t have any past failures. Anything that I have done in the past has shaped me into the man I am today.
  8. Who are your target consumers? Would you want to change this? My consumers right now are agencies who represent Hairstylist. I’m trying to get signed to an agency. So, anything I do is styled to get there attention. But, as far as in the salon my consumers are career women.
  9. What inspires you? Actually the seasons, when the weather changes I get inspired. From the color of the leaves to the hot summer nights. I don’t know why but ideas come to me throughout the season.
  10. Who inspires you? My mother who is also a hairstylist. Ted Gibson and Kim Kimble
  11. What is always at the back of your mind? Is this my best work!
  12. What do you want to change about your job or career right now? I want to let hairstylist know that its more then just doing hair in the salon. There are so any avenues to get involved in. You don’t have to be a celebrity stylist to make good money.
  13. What advice do you have for others? Think beyond the salon.
  14. Where can we find you on the web?   RyanBurrellHair.com  www.twitter.com/RyanBurrellHair

Meet Ashley Nash

Ashley Nash, Opelousas, LA

  1. What is your passion in life? To become the creative director of my own company and own a boutique.
  2. What is your current job? Graphic Designer [Student Worker]
  3. Do you own your own business? If so, what is the name and the mission? Urban Serenity (Jewelry and accessories company) & Fresh Perspectives Photography and Graphic Design (Photography and Graphic Design)
  4. Did you have any fears when first starting your business? No
  5. Did you have any insecurities when first starting your own business? No
  6. Describe your brand in one word. Innovative
  7. Do you have any past failures that you can tell what you did to learn from them? When attempting to take the GRE, I went in head first without trying to study. I did not get into the first grad school I wanted and I learned that I should study to be prepared.
  8. Who are your target consumers? Would you want to change this? Women for the jewelry/accessory line. A variety of people for photography and graphic design. No changes are needed thus far.
  9. What inspires you? Living my dream.
  10. Who inspires you? My mother
  11. What is always at the back of your mind? Always looking for a way to push myself or be better.
  12. What do you want to change about your job or career right now? I’d like to be doing graphic design on a more professional level.
  13. What advice do you have for others? Fears are your biggest liars.
  14. Where can we find you on the web? www.ashnash.com www.twitter.com/ashnash www.ashnash.tumblr.com www.urbanserenityonline.com