Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega Is Using Art to Uplift Brown and Black Women

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Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega

By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Pop Sugar

In 2017, Afro-Latinx visual artist Reyna Noriega began her career as a full-time creator. Little did she know that in just a few short years, she would have over 100,000 followers on Instagram, would be working with huge brands like Apple and Old Navy, and would design a cover for The New Yorker. Born and raised in Miami to a first-generation Cuban father and a Bahamian mother, Noriega, who is best-known for her bold, vibrant, graphic work, was destined to be an artist.

“My father is also an artist, and I became interested early on in just the magic of it all, being able to bring ideas to life on paper and communicate in a universal language,” Noriega told POPSUGAR in a recent interview. “I was always the ‘sensitive kid’ feeling a lot and thinking a lot, so art and writing were great outlets for me to get all of that under control and to be able to process my emotions.”

Now, Noriega’s art is being seen on a much wider scale and impacting thousands of people who follow her on social media or see her art on city walls and T-shirts. To get there, she had to put in a lot of work, including studying and learning on her own, despite the fact that she took art classes throughout high school and minored in art in college. Using the help of books and YouTube, Noriega honed her skills and eventually left her job as a teacher, with the full support of her parents.

“I was very fortunate that my family believed in me and my ability to make my passion a career and even help me make it happen! To this day, my mom is the person that helps me run my online shop, and they encourage me to strive higher,” Noriega told us.

By 2019, Noriega started doing brand work, after getting comfortable with her style and what she wanted to represent as an artist. It gradually became easier for her to align herself with brands that had the same mission. She is currently working on Amex’s “Always Welcome” design collective launch, which will provide businesses with signage for their storefronts and indicate their stance on inclusivity.

“Honestly, every time I get an email, I am honored and humbled that my name enters rooms I never thought would. From companies whose products I used to save up for at one point, like Apple, to legendary publications like The New Yorker, or having thousands and thousands of people wear a shirt I designed with Old Navy. It really is a dream come true,” she said.

Ultimately, it was Noriega embracing her culture and her commitment to advocating for Black and brown people through her art that got her there. She says her Afro-Caribbean culture is what brings “vibrancy and flavor” to her art. But we think it’s so much more than that. With just a single glance, it’s obvious that Noriega’s background informs her work. Her use of color, the way she showcases the female form, the various complexions and skin tones she celebrates in her work, and the stunning, tropics-inspired botanical scenes she often creates speak to exactly who she is and where she comes from.

“Art has always been a place I look to boost my mood, museums, galleries, [and] learning about art history. But unfortunately in those spaces, rarely did I ever feel I belong, because my story wasn’t told on those walls, and in the rare occasion it was, it only highlighted the struggles and traumas,” she said. “I wanted to create work that would lift moods and raise the self-efficacy of Black and brown women with positive representation and vibrant depictions of joy.”

Noriega describes the art she creates with a tremendous amount of care and respect. Her mission is to create art that represents and uplifts communities that are often left out of the conversation. “I focus on women because as a woman, I know all of the challenges and barriers we face,” she said. “Inequalities in pay, harmful messaging on body image, the ongoing fight for body autonomy . . . it can be really exhausting. Add on to that the challenges being a BIPOC, and it just magnifies. My art is meant to celebrate women, inspire joy, and a reclamation of peace and rest.”

Noriega recognizes how important it is to not only amplify voices like hers but also to use her gifts and resources to speak up for people who don’t have the same advantages that she does. Even as a Black Latina, she’s cognizant of the privileges she has and the responsibility associated with them. “For me personally, I often look at my identities as a privilege, which pushes me to amplify Black voices even more. I am all too aware of the advantages I have received being a Latina in Miami, and even being ethnically Caribbean, although my race is Black,” she said. “Being able to say where your lineage comes from is a privilege many Black Americans don’t have. I have been unfairly judged and treated and had some very hurtful comments said to me, but I must also be aware of how my skin tone provides privileges, how my heritage provides privileges, and how knowing more than one language is a privilege.” And in recognizing that, she’s able to leverage her position to empower others in really visible ways.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

How to Get Certified as a Minority-Owned Business

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female business owner arms crossed and smiling

How To Become An MBE

Minority-owned businesses are on the move. There are now more than four million minority-owned companies in the U.S., with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion. According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship minority businesses have created 4.7 million jobs in the U.S over the past 10 years.

In a climate of intense awareness for the fair treatment of all minorities, getting your business officially certified as minority-owned can open important contract opportunities.

In the spirit of equalizing opportunities, federal, state and local governments and big corporations reserve a percentage of their contracts exclusively for minority-owned businesses. To get your share of the contract pie, however, your business needs to be officially certified as a minority-owned business. Here’s how you can get certified. 

National Minority Supplier Development Council

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) is a membership organization comprised of small minority-owned businesses and large corporate businesses, both public and privately-owned. With 23 affiliate regional councils nationwide and 1,450 corporate members, the NMSDC’s mission is to promote supplier diversity through education and connect corporate members with minority-owned businesses.

The NMSDC also offers an official certification process for minority-owned businesses.

Does Your Business Qualify?

To qualify for certification, you must meet these qualifications:

  • The business owners must be U.S. citizens
  • The business must be at least 51 percent minority-owned, operated and controlled. (Per the NMSDC, a minority must be at least 25 percent Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American. Also, minority eligibility is established through screenings, interviews and site visits. For publicly-owned businesses, at least 51 percent of the stock must be owned by one or more minority group members.)
  • The business must be for-profit and physically located in the U. S. or its territories.
  • The minority owners must also participate in the daily management and operations of the business.

Start Locally

Although the organization’s headquarters is located in New York, the NMSDC requires applicants to register and fill out the online application on the website of the regional NMSDC affiliate closest to their business.

Before you start the application, make sure you’ve gathered the required documentation (requirements vary by business type). You’ll need:

  • Your business history
  • Certificate of incorporation
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Stock certificates and stock ledger
  • Minutes to the board of director’s and shareholder meetings
  • Corporation bylaws and amendments
  • Any agreements and documents regarding ownership, operation, and control of the business
  • Identification documents for all principals including business cards, resumes, driver’s licenses and proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificates or U.S. passports only)
  • Corporate bank resolution agreements and bank signature cards
  • Business lease agreements/security deeds
  • Proof of general liability insurance and bonding if applicable
  • Copies of the businesses’ canceled checks

Don’t worry about completing the online application all in one sitting — you can save your progress along the way and return to the application at your convenience.

When you submit the application, you’ll be asked to pay an application fee, the amount of which varies by region. 

What’s Next?

Once you’ve uploaded the required documentation through the online portal, you’ll be asked to schedule a site visit and interview. Then you can expect an NMSDC Certification Specialist to reach out for confirmation.

Typically, the certification review process can take up to 90 days to complete, although you’ll need to check with your regional office to see how the process time frame has been affected by the pandemic.

Your application will be reviewed by the NMSDC’s Certification Committee and then submitted to the Board for final approval. The Board reviews the Certification Committee’s recommendation and then makes the final decision. Once your application is approved, you’ll be notified via e-mail and postal mail. The certification is then required to be re-certified annually by providing current tax forms and any changes in contact information.

If your application is not approved, you can file an appeal with the Board.

Finding Opportunities

Becoming an official Minority Business Executive (MBE) then allows your business to participate and take advantage of the many networking and educational programs provided by the NMSDC. Check with your regional office about business opportunity fairs, leadership training, and networking opportunities.

For federal and state contracting opportunities, go to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) contracting website. Here you’ll find a large number of helpful links to procurement opportunities nationally and locally, plus helpful guides on how to bid for them.

The official website for federal contracts is called SAM. You need to register your business there so you can bid and receive contracting notices.

Don’t limit yourself to government and corporate contracts. Once you’re certified, make sure you note your business is minority-owned on all your marketing vehicles, including your website, brochures, email newsletters, etc. You never know who is on the lookout to support your minority-owned company by sending business your way.

Source: Score

André Leon Talley, “One of the Last Great fashion Editors,” has died at 73

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André Leon Talley headshot

Posted on TMZ
A source with direct knowledge tells us Vogue’s former creative director and one-time editor-at-large passed away Tuesday at a hospital in White Plains, NY. It’s currently unclear exactly what he was battling in the hospital.

Talley was instrumental to Vogue’s vision and direction in the ’80s and ’90s, when he worked his way up the magazine ranks to eventually become the news director — which he helmed from ’83 to ’87 — and then ascended to Vogue’s creative director in ’88.

He held that post for a good 7 or so years, and before long … he was heading up all of Vogue as the EAL — with a slight break in between — until 2013, when he left the company. Even after his official departure, however, he continued to contribute to Vogue in varying capacities … including podcast appearances.

He will perhaps be best remembered as a trailblazer in the fashion world — not just for his stylish flair, but for his push to include more POC on the runway … specifically, Black models.

His work and career speak for themselves … and so has his consulting work elsewhere, including being a stylist for the Obamas at one point during Barack’s presidency, and even serving as a judge on ‘America’s Next Top Model’ … among many other notable achievements, like his ‘SATC’ cameo and frequent Wendy Williams chats.

Read the complete original article posted on TMZ.

Michelle Obama’s guest appearance on ‘Black-ish’ excites fans while also serving a purpose

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Michelle Obama Smiling at the camera in a white sweater and blue jean pants

By Kyle Moss, Yahoo! Entertainment

On the eighth and final season premiere of Black-ish Tuesday, Michelle Obama made a guest appearance after the show’s main characters attended an event for When We All Vote, an organization that Obama founded to help register and turn out voters across the country.

What began as Andre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross)’s chance encounter with the former first lady turned into a casual dinner at the Johnson house.

Obama’s main scene mostly consisted of the rest of Dre and Bow’s family interrupting with attempts to try and impress her. And there were also a few moments of conversation among Obama, Dre and Bow about what it’s like having teenage kids.

“When our girls were that age, you should have seen how they rolled their eyes, especially at their father,” Obama said during the episode.

But clearly the cameo for Obama, who was personally asked to appear on the show by Ross herself, was all about getting the word out about voter registration. And while it was subtle within the episode, Obama reiterated the objective with a tweet after the show aired, reminding people to get themselves and others registered.

Meanwhile, viewers on Twitter celebrated Obama’s appearance on the hit series with plenty of praise and even a few requests like, “Please decide to be president in 2024” and “I too would like to invite you over for dinner.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment.

Less Than 1% of Hotel Owners Are Black Women. This 34-Year-Old Is Changing the Game

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34-year-old Davonne Reaves says she became the youngest Black female hotel owner under a major chain.

By , Next Advisor

Davonne Reaves is not your typical 34-year-old.

Last year, Reaves and her former college roommate turned business partner, Jessica Myers, brokered a historic $8.3 million deal to acquire a Hilton hotel.

Through this deal, Reaves says they became the youngest Black women to co-own a hotel under a major hotel chain.

Investing in a hotel may seem like a faraway dream, and for most Black people, it’s an even bigger stretch. “Only 2% of hotel owners are African-Americans, and less than 1% are Black women,” said Reaves. But she is determined to change the narrative.

Reaves is a 14-year veteran of the hospitality industry, and in 2017 founded The Vonne Group, which provides coaching, courses, and advice about hotel investing, raising capital, and becoming a hotel owner. Reaves also sits on the board of her alma mater, Georgia State University’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality. But her path hasn’t been without challenges.

From Front Desk Agent to Hotel Owner
While attending college, Reaves worked as a front desk agent at a Hyatt hotel in Atlanta, which sparked her interest in hospitality. After graduating with a degree in sociology, she wanted to explore the corporate side of the business, but felt she lacked the financial skills that would make her a strong candidate for certain positions. Reaves accepted an unpaid internship to learn the skills she needed.

“That was my introduction to financial analysis, feasibility studies, and the investment side of hotels,” she said.

In 2017, after a few years in Boston and several positions with different organizations, Reaves took the biggest risk of her career and left the corporate world. “I’m continuously building other people’s brands, making other people wealthy,” she said, which led to a realization: “Why don’t I take that same initiative, drive, passion, hard work ethic and put it within my company?”

Reaves now lives in Atlanta and in 2019, she partnered with Jessica Myers to form the Epiq Collective, a real estate venture which pools community resources together to invest in commercial real estate deals. Through Epiq Collective, and in partnership with Nassau Investments, Reaves and Myers closed the deal to acquire a Home2 Suites by Hilton in El Reno, Oklahoma, in 2020.

Hotel Ownership as a Black Woman
At the Vonne Group, Reaves kickstarted the 221 initiative, her mission to create 221 Black hotel owners and investors in 2021. “I hope my story will inspire people to not only think big, but also think about hotel investing and ownership as a possibility,” she said.

Outside of buying a hotel, there are other ways to invest, like hotel real estate investments trusts (REITs), which allow investors to add hotels to their portfolio in a similar way they would add stocks or bonds. “I want more people to look at hotel investing as a way to diversify their retirement portfolio and build generational wealth,” she said.

According to the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD), Black people hold 1.5% of positions at the director level and above, with only 0.5% of those positions held by Black women.

Click here to read the full article on Next Advisor.

5 Business Strategies You Need to Know Today

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Confident Businessman. Happy african guy smiling at camera working at office. Panorama, free space

By Mark Quadros

Research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected 76.2 percent of U.S. businesses. COVID-19 impacted most of these businesses negatively, disrupting everything from their supply chains to their in-store sales.

So, if you’re one of these business owners, how can you adjust your operation to thrive during lockdowns, stay open for customers and keep staff engaged?

Here are five COVID-19-involved business strategies to help small businesses survive the pandemic:

Redefine your business growth opportunities

The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown measures have disrupted many significant industries, including the hospitality industry, retail industry and entertainment industry. Naturally, companies in these fields have changed how they deliver their products and services to customers to continue growing.

But redefining your opportunities isn’t just limited to companies directly affected by lockdowns.

If you want to keep growing during the pandemic, you will need to seek out new ways to improve your profitability, including:

  • Entering new markets
  • Taking out a bridge loan and investing in new projects
  • Adjusting your marketing and sales approaches
  • Targeting new customers
  • Redesigning old processes with new online business tools
  • Forming new partnerships (especially with local suppliers)
  • Finding new ways to improve your offerings for customers

To identify the best opportunity for your brand, you must research potential options, identify the best ones and formalize them with a new business plan. According to this guide to business plans, your business plan should include detailed product and service plans, a market analysis, a management plan and a financial plan for each growth strategy.

Adapt your current business models

Experts predict that coronavirus will continue to spread around the world for the foreseeable future.

Naturally, if your brand wants to survive this new normal, you’ll need to crisis-proof your business so you can continue to operate in the current economic climate. To crisis-proof your business, you should:

  • Measure the damage to your company regularly so you can adapt to potential problems before they arise
  • Back up your data and embrace digital solutions to help staff work from home
  • Prioritize the health and safety of your employees with workplace safety measures like social distancing, hand sanitizer and masks
  • Reduce your cash flow to only essential expenses
  • Adjust how you deliver products and services to customers to ensure their safety when shopping
  • Re-organize your work processes to prioritize key functions (e.g., by redefining customer support)
  • Establish contingency plans for further lockdowns and pandemic restrictions

If you are self-employed or a small business owner, you could also take out a personal loan to keep your business’s cash flow steady as you adjust your business models.

Rethink your financial structure

A 2020 study on 5,800 small businesses from the U.S. found that the average brand with over $10,000 in expenses only had access to two weeks of cash at the start of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, many of these companies had to adapt their spending habits to survive.

And the rest of us should learn from them.

To keep your brand alive during the pandemic, you will need to establish an emergency fund to cover any unexpected events (like lockdowns). You can build an emergency fund by saving the money you would have spent on unnecessary expenses.

To identify unnecessary expenses, sort your expenses into two key categories:

  • Value-adding expenses that are crucial to running the business (i.e., expenses like supplier costs, inventory acquisition costs, online advertising, staff wages and technology costs)
  • Extra expenses that are not crucial to running the business (i e., additional office space, extra professional training and food/drinks)

Once you have sorted your expenses, identify expenses you can eliminate to reduce your operating budget and make cuts according to your priorities.

Retrain your workforce

While it may seem wise to fire non-essential staff and redirect their salaries into your emergency fund, this decision may hurt your business financially long term. Currently, it costs $4,425 to hire the average employee and weeks to train and acclimate them. To avoid incurring this cost later, retrain your workforce and adjust their duties to match your new business model.

You should also consider ways to improve your employee’s productivity (the quantity of their work) and efficiency (the quality of their work). Improving productivity and efficiency will increase your business’s output, increasing your revenue and decreasing your expenses.

To improve efficiency, you can use a productivity formula and calculate your current figures:

Productivity = Total Output / Total Input

Efficiency = (Standard Hours Spent On Task / Actual Amount of Time Spent on Task) x 100

Then, brainstorm business-specific ways to improve productivity and efficiency.

Build meaningful relationships

Finally, you should prioritize maintaining good relationships with your customers. As research shows that the top 10 percent of customers spend three times more per transaction than the bottom 10 percent, maintaining a relationship with loyal customers will increase your revenue.

To maintain a connection with customers, you could:

  • Set up social media accounts and encourage customers to send you User-Generated Content (UGC)
  • Establish a customer loyalty program to keep customers happy
  • Improve your email marketing
  • Send digital ‘thank-you’ cards to customers
  • Offer special discounts to loyal customers
  • Improve your digital customer service practices
  • Convey your COVID-19 safety measures to customers with a poster

New normal, business

Periods of economic are very stressful for companies, but they frequently result in long-term growth and new industry-wide trends. For example, people often credit the fast rise of eCommerce to the 2003 SARS outbreak in China or the rise in click-and-collect to the early months of COVID-19.

If you follow the tips in this guide, your company can emerge from COVID-19 stronger and more profitable than ever before.

Source: Score

Why Beyoncé and Jay-Z Are on Track to Make History at 2022 Oscars

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jay-z on track to make history at the oscars with beyonce

By Gabrielle Chung, NBC

It may just be Oscar gold everything for Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

The powerhouse couple is one step closer to becoming Oscar nominees after they were both named in the shortlist for the best original song category at the upcoming 94th Academy Awards. The list of 15 contenders, which was announced on Dec. 21, recognized Beyoncé’s “Be Alive” from “King Richard” and “Guns Go Bang,” Jay-Z’s collaboration with Kid Cudi, from “The Harder They Fall.”

If Beyoncé and Jay-Z are nominated, it will be the first time in Oscars history that a married couple will face off against one another in the same category, according to Variety and Billboard.

Other stars who landed on this year’s shortlist include Billie Eilish and Finneas for “No Time to Die” from the latest James Bond film of the same name; Lin-Manuel Miranda for “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto”; and Ariana Grande for “Just Look Up,” her collab with Kid Cudi from the “Don’t Look Up” soundtrack.

Last year’s winner H.E.R. also made the shortlist, as well as songwriter Diane Warren, who has been nominated 12 times in the best original song category without a single win.

Voting for nominations will take place between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1, and fans will see if Beyoncé and Jay-Z will make history when nominees are announced on Feb. 8. Queen Bey was previously shortlisted for “Spirit” from “The Lion King,” but neither she nor Jay-Z has been nominated for an Academy Award.

The 2022 Oscars shortlists come hot on the heels of news that Beyoncé and her three children with Jay-Z — Blue Ivy, 9, and 4-year-old twins Sir and Rumi — will be featured in a new theme song for her mother Tina Knowles’ upcoming Facebook Watch series, “Talks With Mama Tina.”

“I loved filming this show and sitting down with so many amazing people because we got to have such honest heartfelt conversations and I got to make them my famous GUMBO!” Tina shared alongside a trailer of the show. “Thank you to my baby @beyonce and my beautiful grand babies for making this special theme song for the show. Are you guys ready to watch?”

Click here to read the full article on NBC.

The youngest Black female professor ever to be tenured at Oxford was born in Kenya

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The University of Oxford has made history by appointing Patricia Kingori to a full professorship, making the sociologist the youngest Black woman ever to receive tenure at Oxford or Cambridge.

By Ananya Bhattacharya

The University of Oxford has made history by appointing Patricia Kingori to a full professorship, making the sociologist the youngest Black woman ever to receive tenure at Oxford or Cambridge. Kingori, born in Kenya to a Kenyan father and Caribbean mother, spent her childhood in St Kitts, before the family moved to the UK during her early teens. Her sister, Vanessa Kingori, is the first female publisher in British Vogue’s 102-year history.

She studies the everyday ethical experiences of frontline workers in global health, and “was awarded this historic distinction in recognition of the quality and global impact of her research on academia and beyond,” the university said on Dec. 13. Kingori is in her early 40s.

From Kenya to Oxford, via St Kitts
During her eight years at Oxford, Kingori has consistently obtained large and competitive funding grants, written frequently cited and impactful publications, supervised numerous DPhil candidates, and taught hundreds of students, the university said.

However, Kingori’s road to professorship wasn’t without roadblocks. For instance, she was awarded a Wellcome Doctoral Studentship to fund her PhD with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine just a month after she gave birth to her first child. After a year’s maternity leave, she relocated to Kenya with family to do fieldwork. But her career nearly stalled when civil unrest forced her to leave in 2007. Pregnant with her second child at the time, she thought people would write her off at work.

But 10 months after she left Kenya, she was able to go back, armed with two new supervisors, to bring her data collection back on track.

After completing the PhD, she bagged the Wellcome Research Fellowship to do postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford’s Ethox Centre. Since then, her career at the British institution has taken off. Within a span of five years, she went from being a research lecturer to an associate professor.

Kingori beyond academia
In addition to garnering accolades in academia, Kingori has also served as an adviser to multiple organizations including the World Health Organization, Save the Children, Medecins San Frontières, the Nuffield Council of Bioethics, and the Obama administration’s White House Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa Initiative.

Currently, Kingori is the recipient of a Wellcome Senior Investigator award, leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers exploring global concerns around fakes, fabrications, and falsehoods in health. Outside of her research, Kingori also helms several diversity initiatives, including a visiting scholarship for Black academics to the University of Oxford, and an internships program for students of color.

Click here to read the full article on BBC News.

Michael Jordan and His Son Jeffrey Jordan Launch Heir Inc., an Entertainment and Tech Venture Geared Around Athletes

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Heir-Inc-Jeffrey-Jordan-Daniel-George-Jeron-Smith

By Todd Spangler, Variety

Michael Jordan and his son Jeffrey Jordan are looking to drive the six-time NBA champ’s legacy into the world of NFTs and next-generation entertainment.

The Jordans have launched Heir Inc., a new holding company that plans to build a consumer-facing community platform for athletes to connect with fans — as well as other lines of business, including an entertainment studio and consumer products. (“Heir,” of course, is a play on the Air Jordan brand at Nike.)

The company was co-founded by Jeffrey Jordan (above left) along with marketing exec Daniel George (above middle), founder of agency Limitless Creative, and Jeron Smith (above right), former CEO/co-founder of Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media.

Heir Inc.’s first tech product, called “Heir” (heir.app), is envisioned as a Web3 personalized community platform for athletes. For the Heir product, the startup closed a $10.6 million seed funding round led by Thrive Capital, marking the venture-capital firm’s foray into NFTs (and its largest seed investment ever). Investments also came from Solana Ventures, the investment arm of public blockchain platform Solana, along with angel investors including tech entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit), New York Knicks EVP and senior basketball adviser William Wesley and Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball.

Here’s how the founders say the Heir platform will work: Athletes will sell a limited number of membership-based “seats” to fans, who will get access to digital assets and first-person NFT drops, using an exclusive Heir token built on Solana’s energy-efficient blockchain network. (NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are used to verify ownership of unique digital content.) Supporters will have the opportunity to purchase one-time digital assets or join an athlete’s “huddle” for exclusive drops, digital goods, immersive experiences, and other perks.

“The Heir platform reimagines the creator-fan experience, to empower athletes to engage with their fans,” Jeffrey Jordan told Variety.

For now, the founders are mum on which athletes may be on board for the initial launch of Heir, slated for 2022. “We’re being very deliberate with our early-adopter athletes,” Jordan said, adding that Heir is aiming for “tier one” NBA and WNBA players and the next generation of rising stars in the NCAA.

Will MJ be on the Heir platform? It’s unclear. According to Jeffrey, “My dad is a strategic adviser and partner. We meet with him regularly, and he provides guidance and insightful ideas… When he was playing, he didn’t have the same tools to connect with his fanbase or monetize that.”

Alongside the three founders, Heir Inc.’s executive team includes VP of operations Briana Richardson, formerly business manager at Robinhood and consultant with Bain & Co.

The focus for Heir is on young stars like Lonzo Ball who appeal to Gen Z and millennial fans, according to Smith. “Individuals his age have grown up with social platforms,” he said. “This is the first step for athletes building their meta-brands in the metaverse/Web3 world.”

Heir will generate revenue from consumers purchasing memberships in an athlete’s “huddle.” Athletes will get an 80% cut of primary sales of NFTs and Heir Inc. will keep 20%; on subsequent sales the split is 50-50.

The idea is keep the Heir memberships scarce: The number of seats in a given “huddle” will be capped at about 0.5%-1% of an athlete’s existing social following, according to George. Once you hit the cap, “the only way to get in is if somebody sells you their seat,” he said. “The value of the huddle seat appreciates over time.”

Digital content from athletes on Heir will encompass multiple formats, ranging from exclusive behind-the-scenes videos to what they’ve watched on Netflix. Athletes also will be able to host live Q&As with their huddle members and post polls and quizzes. Fans who are highly engaged on the platform will be rewarded by unlocking digital goods.

Click here to read the full article on Variety.

Black Women Gamers Aren’t Unicorns — They’re The Future

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Gamer Girl and founder of Black Girl Gamers

By Jay-Ann Lopez

Many people still think that being a gamer and a Black woman is a juxtaposition. It’s not. We’re not unicorns. Just like in any other industry, there are content creators, industry professionals, and consumers, and Black women can be found in all of these categories — but they’re often overlooked, underestimated, or outright ignored. So Black women are taking their spot in gaming for themselves.

If you’re not familiar with gaming, let me briefly explain how we got here. Gaming started with simplistic classics like Pong, and in their infancy, games were aimed at a broad audience who just wanted to play and have fun. But after the video game crash in the 1980s, the industry essentially said, “Fuck it, let’s just focus on white men and boys.” And after decades of game creation and marketing geared toward men, here we are in 2021, with the majority of the highest paid gamers being white men. Not to mention that the workforce in the industry is also dominated by white men. According to jobs site Zippia, 72% of video game developers in the US are men, and 72% of developers are also white. And unfortunately, with this came the foundation of a toxic misogynistic culture, which companies overlooked and sometimes encouraged with their early marketing — just look at one ‘90s Playstation advertisement.

As the social climate changed to become more critical and vocal about racism, sexism, homophobia, and discrimination, some companies have vowed to change, but only after hitting rock bottom. In July, a lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard by the California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleged the company long facilitated an environment of harassment, discrimination, and a toxic “‘frat boy’ workplace culture.” The suit led to an outpour of horror stories on social media that exposed what often happens behind game creation. Some triple-A companies have started to hire experienced chief diversity officers, who slowly but surely hope to tackle the ingrained bias internally and in their games.

But many gaming companies are still struggling to hire, and retain, Black employees which means, beyond the marketing, the culture isn’t progressing. Just 6% of video game developers in the US are Black, according to Zippia, so it doesn’t take long to look under the surface and see the dust is still under the rug. Brands are still enabling toxic content creators or work environments where marginalized people can feel as though they are collateral damage as we’ve seen with recent revelations about Activision. There’s still so much to do, and it seems the industry only reacts to current events, such as the murder of George Floyd, rather than plan for a better future. Despite changing demographics and efforts from within to create more inclusive spaces, Black women still aren’t visible and have long been ostracized, ignored, and underpaid.

The space is democratizing. But rather than the companies that make millions, it’s creators-turned-entrepreneurs who are doing the necessary work to address the lack of transparency and seemingly unclosable gaps in gaming.

Click here to read the full article on Refinery29.

The Los Angeles Woman Bringing Beauty to the Homeless Getting to know Beauty 2 the Streetz founder Shirley Raines.

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Shirley Raines accepting a "hero of the year" award

By , The Cut

Self-care is, by definition, typically and selfishly meant to be about caring for one’s self. In its purest form — rid of bogus, wallet-draining products that often serve capitalism more than the soul — self-care allows room for blissful and intentional heeding to whatever (and whomever) serves your spirit. But for Shirley Raines, founder of Beauty 2 the Streetz, a Los Angeles–based nonprofit serving the homeless community, self-care is decidedly selfless.

For Ms. Shirley, as the community she’s now served for six years calls her, self-care is a daily action that culminates in a weekly Saturday service. The gathering is one in which she asks unhoused individuals on Skid Row a simple, oft-desired question: “What do you want?”

When we chat on a Monday afternoon, Raines is enjoying a moment of respite before she goes shopping to fulfill requests for the week; think honey buns, McDonald’s burgers, and “shower-in-a-bag” kits. She’s fresh off of an Instagram Live filled with laughter and casual banter about coitus — among other things. “I gotta go, I gotta go, I got a Zoom in three minutes,” she laughs before ending the livestream. If it feels like she’s talking directly to you, it’s because she is. Beauty2TheStreetz’s 238,000 Instagram followers are responsible for funding the work she and her team of about 25 do every week. Her followers’ donations on the platform allow her to provide hygiene products, beauty sessions (complete with hair-dye jobs, long bright wigs, eccentric makeovers, and fresh cuts), and a catered family barbecue fit for 500 kings and queens, as she lovingly calls those who attend.

Sporting little to no makeup, a shirt emblazoned with “Black Powered,” and wide-framed Voogueme specs with a soft throw over her shoulders, Raines dials in from her couch at home in Long Beach — a pineapple-flavored probiotic Pressed juice in hand. The 54-going-on-34-year-old leader is direct and refreshingly self-aware. Beauty, she explains, is at the crux of her organization, and it’s an inside-out job.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that’s why I always tell people I’m lucky that I found a community that holds the things that I behold as beautiful as beautiful.” When asked what those are, Raines tells me, “I don’t know how to say it … you can clean it up,” before uttering words she absolutely knew how to say, and I’d later opt to leave exactly as is. “The beauty of me is that I don’t give a fuck what society says I should wear, you know what I mean? The boldness that I have is beautiful to me … It was nothing to cover my hair yellow when it wasn’t normal because I didn’t feel like I fit into your normal society anyway. It’s nothing to me to have eyelashes on so long that I can’t even blink and put my glasses on …”

Although Raines has a physical place to call home, she feels a strong sense of belonging among the community she works with; it’s the only part of society that she’s ever felt truly in tune with, and the degree of pain she often observes is something the mother of six knows all too well.

Click here to read the full article on The Cut.

A Maine city that’s 90% White now has a Somali mayor

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Somali Mayor, Deqa Dhalac, poses for a portrait at her home in South Portland in 2018. Of becoming the city's mayor this week, she said, "I'm...really proud of the fact that I'm going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me."

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

Deqa Dhalac saw it in their faces when she started campaigning. Some people, she says, seemed scared to open their doors when she knocked. Others saw her hijab and assumed she didn’t speak English. But Dhalac kept knocking and telling her story. And she says a lot has changed since those days back in 2018, when she first ran for City Council in South Portland, Maine — and won. On Monday she became the first Black mayor of the small city on the state’s Southern Coast. And she’s believed to be the first Somali American mayor in the United States. South Portland’s other city councilors, who are all White, elected her in a unanimous vote, heaping praise on Dhalac for her dedication to the community and thoughtful consideration of issues.

Dhalac, 53, says her election shows what can be accomplished when people find ways to connect with each other instead of putting up walls.

“People will always have some kind of reservation…but will get to know you, listen to you and see who you are through that,” she says. Given that Maine is the whitest state in the country, and that South Portland is 90% White, Dhalac knows her election sounds surprising to some. But she says that it shouldn’t be. And that’s one reason she ran for office in the first place. She hopes her election as mayor will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m…really proud of the fact that I’m going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me, especially our young community members, to say, ‘If this woman can do this, actually I can do that,'” Dhalac told the City Council last month after her nomination. “And also not only for immigrant, first-generation or Black people, but also young, White individuals who may have been afraid or don’t want to be a part of the civic duties that we all have. … I say, ‘Yes, if I can do this, yes, you can do it. We really, really need you, each and every one of you in this beautiful city of ours, to step up.'”

Her election marks multiple milestones
Dhalac’s inauguration is a milestone for Somali immigrant communities that have grown in size and become more established in states like Maine, Minnesota, Ohio and Washington. As that’s happened, more Somali Americans are taking on roles on local school boards and city councils — and also serving as lawmakers, like Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota.

Dhalac is the first Somali American mayor in the United States, according to New American Leaders, an organization that trains and encourages immigrants to run for office. But the organization says they hope she won’t be the last.

“Her leadership will certainly make a big difference not only in South Portland, but around the country,” said Ghida Dagher, the organization’s president. “She’s going to serve an example for Somali Americans across the country to step up and step into their own leadership journey. … It’s about owning their own power and potential in our democracy.” Dhalac’s election is also a historic first for South Portland, which has never had a Black mayor before, says Seth Goldstein, vice president of the South Portland Historical Society. Goldstein, who teaches history and leads historical tours in the area, says he’s happy to watch this new chapter in his city’s history unfold. “It’s very exciting, I think that it is reflective of the way that the community here is gradually changing,” Goldstein says. About 6,000 Somalis live in Maine, Goldstein said, thanks to a wave of migration that began in the early 2000s.

Their arrival hasn’t always been met with open arms. In 2002, the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, drew national media attention when he wrote an open letter telling Somali immigrants not to come to his city.

But Dhalac says the people she’s met in Maine have been welcoming, and in recent years she’s seen more Somalis and other immigrants taking on leadership positions in the state. In the past, she says, immigrants were more hesitant to run because they were focused on making ends meet and supporting their families.

“I think we were always kind of afraid to get involved. … We were waiting on somebody (else) to do something,” she said.
In 2018, Dhalac got tired of waiting.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Meet The Founder Who Has Helped Women-Owned Businesses Secure Over $14 Million In Funding

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The Founder Who Has Helped Women-Owned Businesses Secure Over $14 Million In Funding

By Pauleanna Reid, Forbes

Black women have outpaced white men in starting a business according to recent studies. Yet despite being among the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs, only 3% of Black women are running mature businesses. This is largely because building a strong, growing entity that has moved past its starting stage requires access to capital. A barrier for growth that highlights the inequities women of colour continue to face in finance. Black women run businesses not only get approved for loans at rates 20 percent lower than men but also receive significantly smaller loan amounts as well.

For Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, a fintech and investing expert and founder of EnrichHER, her mission is to change that. EnrichHER, the only digital lending platform specializing in connecting diverse entrepreneurs to capital, is Novellus’ solution to fuel inclusive economic growth by providing business owners with capital, coaching, and connections.

“I believe that women entrepreneurs are the cornerstones of society; our businesses not only create jobs, but they strengthen economies and sustain whole communities,” states Dr. Novellus.

In 2017, Dr. Novellus founded EnrichHER by gathering 50 organizations in Atlanta to test her idea. The full program launched in February 2019, receiving applications from 3,000 women-led businesses. “EnrichHER is the perfect name because we’re trying to put money into companies that have gender diversity in the leadership position. And by doing so, we’re enriching the business and enriching her,” Dr. Novellus explained. The platform focuses on two different types of customers. One being the funder profile – either an angel investor or a small angel group – that wants to fund a new majority founder. The other funder type is for a larger organization such as PayPal to deploy greater sums of money to well-qualified business owners. Providing the ability to make a financial transaction directly through EnrichHER makes it frictionless for funders to make investments. “Everything is built into our platform, and they can walk away a year later with a principal plus interest payment and knowing that they have funded new majority founders,” stated Dr. Novellus.

In 2017, Dr. Novellus founded EnrichHER by gathering 50 organizations in Atlanta to test her idea. The full program launched in February 2019, receiving applications from 3,000 women-led businesses. “EnrichHER is the perfect name because we’re trying to put money into companies that have gender diversity in the leadership position. And by doing so, we’re enriching the business and enriching her,” Dr. Novellus explained. The platform focuses on two different types of customers. One being the funder profile – either an angel investor or a small angel group – that wants to fund a new majority founder. The other funder type is for a larger organization such as PayPal to deploy greater sums of money to well-qualified business owners. Providing the ability to make a financial transaction directly through EnrichHER makes it frictionless for funders to make investments. “Everything is built into our platform, and they can walk away a year later with a principal plus interest payment and knowing that they have funded new majority founders,” stated Dr. Novellus.

Dr. Novellus is no stranger to gaining access to resources. She is one of very few Black women founders who has raised over $1 million in venture capital. But her journey toward economic empowerment and leveraging the power of investments began when she was just 15 years old. Recognizing that she would require a strategic plan to reach her goals, Dr. Novellus raised over $600,000 in scholarships to fund 11 years of higher education. She achieved this herculean feat by reaching out to over 200 companies to inquire about scholarships. Her persistence worked, and companies decided to invest in her educational goals.

Much of her determination and advocacy for economic equality began with the conversations held in her household growing up. Defying common misconceptions about women and their perceived lack of financial knowledge, Dr. Novellus was taught differently, “My mother always told me that women were the best at managing money and managing finances, even though other people often tell us otherwise. Women are the best because they typically have to manage all the money in every household.” Dr. Novellus’ mother encouraged her daughter to be knowledgeable and feel confident in any kind of financial transaction by giving her hands-on experience from an early age. “Outside of learning how to invest in the stock market at 12, I told my mother that I wanted to do the taxes for our family, so she allowed me to read through the tax books. And she believed that I could do it,” Dr. Novellus explained.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. From Day One
    February 9, 2022
  3. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  4. From Day One
    February 22, 2022
  5. From Day One
    February 22, 2022
  6. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022
  7. NOBLE 2022 William R. Bracey Winter CEO Symposium
    March 17, 2022 - March 19, 2022
  8. From Day One
    March 29, 2022
  9. From Day One
    April 12, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. From Day One
    February 9, 2022
  3. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  4. From Day One
    February 22, 2022
  5. From Day One
    February 22, 2022
  6. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022
  7. NOBLE 2022 William R. Bracey Winter CEO Symposium
    March 17, 2022 - March 19, 2022
  8. From Day One
    March 29, 2022
  9. From Day One
    April 12, 2022
  10. From Day One
    May 10, 2022