Blair Imani is a critically-acclaimed historian, outspoken advocate and activist, and dynamic public speaker. The author of two historical books: Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History (2018) and Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream (2020), she centers women and girls, global Black communities, and the LGBTQ community. Blair has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC, presented at colleges and universities, spoken at conferences around the world, and delivered powerful talks for organizations and brands including TEDx and GLAAD. As an advocate and historian, organizer and public speaker, Blair Imani is dedicated to making the world a better place and amplifying the voices and work of those fighting the good fight.
Tahir Murray is a 20 year old junior at Howard University and CEO of the first HBCU luxury brand, LegacyHistoryPride. LHP is a collegiate lifestyle brand that designs and develops products for a variety of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). His overall goal with the brand is to be the face of HBCU fashion and culture. A portion of the proceeds go directly back into the HBCU community through funds and scholarships to ensure we are constantly giving back to the community. HBCUs INFLUENCE EVERYTHING. “As the creator of LHP, I want people to understand that my brand is deeper than clothes.”
Dennis Belton is the multi-talented creative force behind Belton Media Group. BMG is a group of creative millennials based in Detroit who freelance individually and have united under the Belton Media Group Umbrella. Dennis Belton Jr is the Co Founder of the Non Profit Organization ARTicle. ARTicle is a nonprofit organization providing youth with training in graphic and digital arts and fashion & education in the culture surrounding it. During the 6-month program the youth participate in weekly planned activities to improve their skills, confidence and mental health. Dennis’ mission is to give creatives in Detroit a home, and being tired of seeing creatives have to move to LA for opportunities and leave their family behind to chase their dreams. “I want to change the narrative and push the culture forward here in Detroit.”
Mari “Little Miss Flint” Copeny: In May of 2016, at the age of 8 years old, Mari wrote a letter to President Barack Obama challenging him to visit Flint, Michigan to see the crisis first hand. Mari has used her platform to not only bring awareness to her community but to give back. Mari has raised over $500,000 for her Flint Kids projects including but not limited to: backpacks stuffed with school supplies, Christmas toys, coats, uniforms, etc. When Mari grows up she plans on running for president.
Shirley Raines: In 1990 Shirley Raines buried her 1st born child and broke emotionally. “I thought I had no purpose for my life so I stayed in a very dark place for almost 27 years. My son's birthday and anniversary of his death are both in September. I have 5 other children but my life was never the same.” She subsequently came down with anxiety and panic disorder, with the help of her twin sister Sheila she decided that she needed to find a purpose to my pain which lead her to feeding the homeless. The homeless women however were more interested in her hair and makeup vs the food and clothing she was providing. “I realized that there are so many broken spirits in this world and that since I am one of them we have so much in common.” She felt pulled to help the streets, help them through their pain so she created Beauty2thestreetz. With funds and items she had at home she took to the streets and started handing out makeup, washing hair, cutting men's hair, cooking homemade food, showers and more and is solely ran off Beauty2thestreetz runs off of donations from social media. We strive to help others on their journey, Beauty2TheStreetz was born out of pain, loss, and suffering.
Sade Ndya is a freelance Cinematographer and founder of ‘The Red Futon’ based in Pasadena with a strong emphasis in capturing black identity and stories. “Being an artist that explicitly only tells black stories with an emphasis on having black folks behind and in front of the camera is something that I’m extremely passionate about, but has inherently caused me to receive a lot of backlash from people in the industry and my own educational practice.”A red futon was one of the first pieces of furniture Sade purchased when she moved out on her own. After a while of owning it, she realized that she and her friends would often talk about creative dreams/values, plan projects and create art on the same couch. It became a safe space of sorts for them to be themselves, regardless of any external forces telling them that people “like them” couldn’t be artists. It inspired her to create her own production team dedicated to prioritizing having POC artists behind and in front of the camera. Right now they’re a small team of 20+ creatives of different backgrounds and mediums, with hopes to expand into a full in house production company soon. They’re known for our vibrant sense of color and intricate set design, all in which we’ve managed to create in Sade’s living room with limited resources. “We want to create space for folks of color to create with a supportive team with like minded voices, whether its a fellow filmmaker or an employer looking for content for their brand. The Red Futon is for the people, by the people.”
Jalen Amir is a creative director and photographer who specializes in portrayals of the black body. Amir’s work takes a “for us, by us” approach, exploring the Black identity and homaging African American history. Historically, the black body is both misrepresented and underrepresented, hardly ever being appropriately displayed in high art and fashion. His work is a direct response to that. Amir hopes to start conversations with and for people who look like him and share experiences that are uniquely their own.
WHLGN: Allante Steele & Antonio Robinson 2 out of 11 of Detroit’s creative power team WHLGN. Growing up in Detroit there’s a particular chip on your shoulder, there’s a very negative light on the city. With that in mind, WHLGN sets out to provide opportunities for creatives to connect and grow together, along with a mentoring program “Leaders Amongst Leaders” “Tony” Robinson is an artist in every definition of the word, he began as a kid doodling on his classwork to attempting art school and dropping out due to financial roadblocks; but this in no way stopped his journey, just fueled it. Allante is a multi-hyphenated creative, entrepreneur,photographer,brand developer to name a few. Finding his purpose in helping others and being open to wherever that will lead him. WHLGN’s encompassing message with everyone involved is as simple as, “Do what you love and love what you do.”
Kevin Fredericks A/K/A KevOnStage was born on May 1, 1983 in Texas where he grew up in a military family. During that time, with frequent moves and the constant task of making new friends, Kevin honed his comedic skills. Since those formative years, Kevin graduated from college and took various paths professionally, but has since found joy and success in the world of entertainment; in comedy and beyond. His journey began as he wrote, directed, produced, and acted in plays about church life with his brother and best friend. After losing his 9 to 5, Kevin began to focus on his solo career as a comedian. He performed in comedy clubs and traveled doing stand-up, while also making daily videos, and eventually took social media by storm. This was the catalyst to him being the actor, stand-up comedian, entrepreneur, podcast developer/host, content creator, author, influencer, and filmmaker he is today.Kevin enjoys his work and strives diligently to build his entertainment empire. Aside from the sheer pleasure he receives from making people laugh, Kevin is also passionate about helping his friends and supporting other artists. He even passes on as much knowledge as he can to others via his Master Class; The Blueprint: How to start, build, or expand, your business using social media.
Evelynn Escobar-Thomas is a Los Angeles based digital consultant, content creator and founder of an intersectional women’s hiking group affectionately named ‘Hike Clerb.’ She uses her platform to champion important causes, a holistic lifestyle and representation for people of color. Through her work she empowers her community to live comfortably and authentically. She’s worked for the First Lady Michelle Obama as a White House Intern, Honest Beauty, Toms and Undefeated to name a few. She's been featured by Refinery 29, Teen Vogue, Women's Health Magazine, Bustle and more.
Damion Gross: One night Damion was scrolling down his Twitter and saw a video of someone getting bullied because they were disabled, while he was looking at the video he felt himself getting angry because he knows how that feels first hand, having struggled with Cerebral Palsy.That inspired him to make a video stating that he’s not ashamed of being disabled.Once he saw all the good feedback and support he was getting he knew he had to bring awareness to his disability to inspire others just like him. On October 1st 2019 Damion walked in his first Fashion Show at Georgia State University for homecoming week. “I remember when I walked out on the runway I heard everyone cheering and screaming for me. That was so empowering and loving, it made me feel like I could do anything I put my mind to.” Eventually Damion wants to start his own modeling agency, catering towards disabled models. “By me starting my own agency, I will be breaking down walls and opening up doors for others like me who want to model and be taken seriously.”
Aleali May was born on July 10, 1992 in Los Angeles,CA, Crenshaw District to be exact, Aleali May is nothing short of living black history. Originally starting off as a stylist, Aleali has always been known for her style and ability to blend streetwear with high fashion. In October 2017, Aleali made her mark by being one of two of the only women to collaborate with the Jordan Brand. Her ‘Satin Shadow’ Jordan One’s serve as an homage to her roots in LA. From the corduroy representing slippers her father would wear down to the satin to represent starter jackets. She has gone on to make two more collaborations with the Jordan brand, being the first woman to release both men’s and women’s sizing with the Jordan brand. Aleali’s success continues to be a beacon of hope for women who have dreams of not just existing in a male dominated business but excelling in it.
Lance Woods & Joe Robinson: Separately, Lance Woods works in youth development, while Robinson operates as an entrepreneur with his company ‘APX Management.’ But when they are together, they are WeRun313. Separately they both ran the streets of Detroit, Joe on the East and Lance on the West.But, they both had a similar vision for their hometown and the African-American community: a running club. They put out the word and gave their idea a name: WeRun313. WeRun313 is a social run club that connects individuals through running to help build a more healthier and prosperous community. It was created to assist African Americans in becoming more active in the sport of distance running. It is for runners of all levels, ages, and ethnicities to bring awareness to the physical and mental health benefits of running; but also, to Connect, Run, and Build with like-minded individuals in the city. Woods & Robinson aim to dismantle the narrative that African-Americans don't run and move the culture forward in a way that has never been done, specifically in Detroit.
Chelsea VonChaz: After seeing a homeless woman without her needs being met for her menstrual cycle, Chelsea created #HappyPeriod to serve and support homeless, low-income, and/or women living in poverty. Her initiative collects rarely donated items like pads and tampons, along with soap, underwear, wipes, and items to help build period packs for women in need, reminding them that they are deserving of everyday necessities too. Since its inception #HappyPeriod has developed several chapters across the US in major cities including New York City, Atlanta, Miami, San Diego, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.The hyper-focus of #HappyPeriod is to bridge access to safe period products, and menstrual health through education, while eliminating the stigma.
Hannah (18) and Charlie Lucas (15) are the creators of the award-winning notOK app. The notOK app is a digital panic button that when pressed sends a text message to your up to five preselected trusted contacts with a message saying, “Hey, I’m not ok. Please text, call, or come check up on me”. It also sends the user’s GPS location to the trusted contacts with directions. After developing Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a condition that causes her to faint, then 15-year-old Hannah Lucas, was terrified of being alone. What would happen to her if she fainted and no one was around? Hannah's fears quickly spiraled into anxiety and deep depression, which led to self harm. By the end of her freshman year of high school, she missed 196 classes due to her condition. Watching his older sister suffer from a disorder made Charlie Lucas feel utterly helpless. He couldn’t drive her to doctor appointments. He couldn’t make her better. He couldn’t even catch her when she fainted. But Charlie knew he could step in to help his sister when she told him about an idea for an app she’d had. He wireframed the app’s basic premise and figured out the best workflow. He even built Hannah a website and created their first logo. As the technical genius at Bug and Bee, LLC, Charlie is responsible for any updates, design ideas, and developer approval.
Rick & Yolanda Williams: Hailing from Detroit,Michigan, Rick and Yolanda Williams are a success story in more ways than one. Individually, at their core, they are hard working Detroiters who worked tirelessly towards a vision. But, together they’re something even more powerful, a team. Having been married for over a decade Rick & Yolanda, are an entrepreneur dream team. Running their full-service creative agency Distinct Life and skin care brand ‘Cream Blends. They were the recipients of Crain's Detroit 2017, 40 under 40 award recipient. Rick has three things that he makes sure to incorporate in every project:To
INSPIRE, CHALLENGE, and CELEBRATE culture for the betterment of all humankind. And Yolanda does as well:
The slow pace of consistency is better than a fast pace of mediocrity
Learn to be a perpetual student; sometimes you are just the student, sometimes you are the student and the Master, you are never JUST the Master.
Arriving early to opportunities presents you with the chance to walk in first, Arriving on time gives you with the opportunity to walk in with others, Arriving late presents you with the opportunity to knock on the door and show others just how unprepared you are.
Idiris Mohamed was never meant to indulge into the creative world. As the son of two immigrant Somali parents, he was always supposed to get a job working behind a computer and not ask too many questions. Eventually he started doing freelance photography and videography, he always loved how happy he could make people just by creating photos that made them feel beautiful. Eventually he put himself in front of the camera, and used his voice to speak to the world about topics that he feels are truly important, but not talked about nearly enough. “I understand how much more words can resonate with you if it’s being spoken by somebody that looks like you, and knows a bit of what you have been through. So I knew I had the opportunity to be a positive influence to my people. And if I could motivate a single one of my brothers or sisters to live their life a little better because of the words that I’ve said, then everything that I’m doing is worth it.”
Breyona Holt: Born October 16th, Breyona Holt, the artist behind the Exquisite Eye began creating and telling visual stories early on in her life. After experiencing the loss of her mother, she began to understand the importance of chronicling life through photography. With this new purpose, she began photography her sophomore year of high school. After graduating from Stockbridge High School and attending Savannah State University for only a year, Breyona decided it was time to jump into her purpose of becoming a full time artist. Breyona then began interning for Dewayne Rogers editor of Rolling Out Magazine, and soon hired to be a full-time staff member. After her departure from Rolling Out she moved to Los Angeles as a full time artist. Breyona's artistry has now allowed her to work with household brands from around the world while still sharing her story. Her work is inspired by women and the black experience.
Atira Lyons: Born June 11th 1999, Atira is a 20 year old designer originally based in Atlanta getting ready to move her business to the city of dreams, Los Angeles. A self taught seamstress and pattern maker, Atira has been sewing since she was 17. She owns a growing brand, mainly known for my durags, turbans, and satin lined beanies. Towards the end of 2017, Atira’s brand went viral for her velvet durags. Receiving a lot of negative criticism for the pricing Atira took that criticism by standing her ground and defending her prices knowing the value and quality of her product. Something that could have been so negative for a new brand, turned out to be something that boosted her brand into the public eye. By the summer Atira expects to have opened her first storefront in California.
Jennifer Harmon: A hardworking mother of four that works her 9 to 5 as an Auditor for an insurance company. Someone who works tirelessly to support her children, giving from her heart whether its time or partnering with an organization that is working in the community.
Jennifer created her jewelry brand, Jen's Finest Things which creates unique custom beaded bracelets for all ages. Jennifer also runs a non-profit organization “Jen's Finest.” Jen's Finest was created to help young adults learn a skill set and teach them basic business knowledge.
Berlin Flores: Also known as, Germany Flowers is a 21 year old mental health advocate from Norwalk California. She struggled with depression for the majority of her time in high school, to the point of contemplating suicide. A little after graduating, she became everything she needed for her mental, spiritual, and physical health. After doing so she realized that there had to be so many other people who were like her and had no one to go to, so she wanted to be that person for them and that’s how she started making her inspirational videos. She makes daily inspirational and educational content about mental health. Whether it be depression, anxiety, self love, etc. One of Berlin’s goals is to redefine what an “influencer” actually means by influencing change and healing in the people who follow me. She wants 1 million followers, not so she can benefit, but so she knows that one million people are taking daily steps towards being their best selves. Her other goal is to write a mental health curriculum to replace the health courses in high school to ensure that high schoolers can understand themselves in ways that she lacked at that time.
Matthew A. Cherry was a football player in the NFL until he left in 2007 to pursue a film career. Since then, Cherry has gone on to direct music videos for various artists, including Michelle Williams, Jazmine Sullivan, Lalah Hathaway, Snoop Dogg,Dwele, and Chloe X Halle. Cherry also served as an executive producer on the Academy Award®-nominated film “BlackKklansman” from Spike Lee while working as a film executive at Jordan Peele’s production company, Monkeypaw Productions. Cherry’s latest project "Hair Love" is an animated short film about an African American father attempting to do his daughters hair for the first time. The Oscar nominated short, has an accompanying picture book which quickly became a New York Times Bestseller. From being in the NFL, the highest level you can achieve while playing football to being an Oscar nominated director, Matthew shows that it's never too late to pursue new dreams or a different career.
David Orobosa Omoregie, born on 5 June 1998, the youngest of three brothers was raised by a single mother due to an absentee father. When he was 11, Dave’s brother, 18 at the time, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 18 years for his involvement in a murder. Dave’s story is an admirable, extraordinary one because even with someone who can play such an influential role like an older brother, Dave has gone in an opposing route. Being very vocal in his music about the logic of the streets, or lack thereof. Saying on his song “Hangman”: “The streets don’t love you, If you died today they wouldn’t donate to your f**king GoFundMe.” With his recent album, “Psychodrama” Dave has been vulnerable about feelings of depression,the pressures of success, domestic violence and much more. Armed with something to say and something actually worth hearing, at the age of 21 Dave has already made his mark and will undoubtedly continue to do so.
Olympia Auset: In 2016, Olympia started SÜPRMARKT, a low cost organic grocery service to eliminate food deserts. She grew tired of traveling hours by bus each time she needed fresh, healthy food. 1.3 Million South Central residents have just 60 grocery stores, and none have healthy options. 23.5 Million Americans live in food deserts. Health conditions caused by unhealthy diets kill more African Americans than any other cause so SÜPRMARKT was founded to save lives.Since starting, SÜPRMARKT has served up 35,000+ pounds of affordable organics, making it easier and affordable for thousands of Angelenos to live healthier lives. They also founded South Central's first vegan festival: SÜPRFEST. In May 2019, SÜPRSEED launched the Keep Slauson Fresh fundraising campaign to build South Central's first full service organic grocery. Olympia serves on the board of Co-Opportunity Market and is a Howard University Alum. She is a vegan of 11 years and an advocate for spiritual health and growth for the planet. Having grown up in neighborhoods across Los Angeles, Olympia has become very familiar with the differences in creativity, potential, and happiness which accompany differing food landscapes and is steadfast in her commitment to creating infrastructure for a better earth.
Travis Hart grew up in a one bedroom home with four people living in it, with no father or father figure in a run down community where people tend to lose hope. Sadly, TJ entered the criminal system at the young age of 14. Today, TJ Hart is the founder of ‘EatYoHartOut’ who helps mentor youth sports by training proper movement patterns which translates to greatness in their chosen sport. Every year Travis Hart sponsors over 10 kids in low income homes with free training/recovery sessions. Through his trials and tribulations Travis found his purpose in mentorship. “I understand how the importance of childhood and how it can impact a child’s dream. Giving kids hope before the world loses hope in those kids is the mission!
Lauren “Lo” McGrier began her journey as an experience curator in 2018 with her signature event Twerk x Tequila which has since sold out seven venues spanning from Detroit to Chicago to New Orleans. She founded a women-focused event for ladies who spend more time on the go than on the scene. She carefully curates safe spaces where women can be endlessly unbothered and abundantly liberated. Twerk x Tequila is what happens when one woman makes a space for herself and invites other free-thinking, fun-seeking queens to connect. As the founder of Twerk x Tequila, Detroit’s girl next door has grown herself and her brand into an entity that can shake up any city. Trust in Lo.
Kimberly Nicole Douglas was born on March 16, 1996, in Southern California. She is a model, creative director, photographer and set designer all from home. She does what she does because she wishes to “inspire people to go after their dreams, take chances and realize sometimes you don’t make it overnight, most people don’t.” “I also want to show it doesn't take thousands of dollars or the most expensive equipment to create something dope, just a little imagination. I have been trying to get into the modeling/fashion industry since I was 18, now I’m 23 and I’m still not where I want to be, but I'm enjoying the journey there, God's got me and I know I'll be where I want to be and I'll remember times like this. Like my mom always says, “sometimes you have to take a different path than everyone else to get to where you want to be.”
Sam Trotter was born September 11, 1997. Detroit bred, visual artist and black man. Currently working as a photographer and creative director, Samuel Trotter has been blessed with the immense opportunity to visualize the stories of many luminaries within the black community. He's successfully photographed/produced several digital and global print campaigns; his debut project being a campaign with Adidas and rapper Big Sean during his senior year of high school. In 2017, Trotter partnered with Italian luxury brand Iceberg to exhibit a huge selection of imagery of celebrity siblings Lucky Blue Smith and Pyper America Smith during their Men's Fashion Week Showcase in Milano, Italy. In 2019, he debuted his first fine art portrait series, In Plain Sight with renowned curator and writer Ashleigh Kane of Dazed magazine. Hand in hand with his must and creative collaborator Jantae' Spinks, Trotter has now relocated to Los Angeles. Here they have worked on recent commissions from the likes of New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, MedMen, Fear of God and many more. "I wanna create work that brings a smile to the lil homie in me and those that will come after."
Bree Bettis was born on June 30, 1995, in Detroit, MI. After seeing her grandmother survive breast cancer, Bree decided to become an advocate for the breast cancer community. Later, Bree founded The Pink List in September 2018. The Pink List is a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to breast cancer patients as well as spread breast cancer awareness within the communities of Southeast Michigan. Since then, The Pink List has created a 90-day grant program for current breast cancer patients undergoing treatment, and a chemotherapy care package initiative, called Project Pink Box. Bree plans to launch the Patrica Ragin Memorial Scholarship, an annual scholarship for a college student affected by breast cancer, either through their own diagnosis or the diagnosis of a family member.
A Detroit based graphic designer, content creator and artist. Etim Eniang, uses his platform to bring other people’s visions to life. In a city like Detroit, the environment is constantly evolving. A city whose name is tarnished by the idea of violence, is actually filled with motivated entrepreneurs, who are motivated to become successful and not just another statistic. Detroit is filled with entrepreneurs with great ideas, and they hire him to turn the ideas into reality. Etim‘s career began by working with some of Detroit’s hottest music artists, creating music artwork, logos, advertisements and social media campaigns. Quickly, his clientele increased and he was able to take on new and challenging tasks, expanding his skill set and gaining relationships that will last a lifetime. “Expansion” is Etim’s word for 2020, new projects, new relationships.