Feature:Johnica Reed Hawkins

I’ve lived, worked and studied across six continents.

Work / As a writer, I work to archive Black culture through stories.

Latest Project / On assignment for Time, Inc., I traveled to Cuba to explore the African history, traditions and religious customs that form the backbone of the island’s identity. My work appears in the August 2016 issue of ESSENCE Magazine.

Next Up / Houston, Raleigh-Durham, Paris, London, Antarctica.

 

 

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Feature:DWomoh-Piper Twins

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Danielle and Chantelle Dwomoh-Piper are Models, bloggers and Designers based in New York.Since the start of their journey in fashion they have been blazing the fashion trail with features in WWD,Elle SA,Essence,HuffingtonPost, Lucky Magazine, Marie Claire, Buzzfeed and The New York Daily Newspaper, as well as appearances on the Rachael Ray Show, NBC’s Today Show, Good Morning America, and placements in Vogue Japan and so much more. Their designs have also been exhibited at fashion weeks all over the world, including New York Fashion Week, Arise Magazine Fashion Week, Glitz Africa Fashion week in Ghana, Caribbean International Fashion Week, Fashion week in Los Angeles and their talent has been recognized on a wide array of media platforms in New York and beyond. Celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o Jojo, Chrisette Michele,Angela Simmons,Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes, Karen Civil, Towanda Braxton and others have been spotted wearing their designs.
Born to a Caribbean mom and an African dad, the DPiperTwins embrace their roots and display it in every collection through a bold and vibrant combination of colorful African print designs. They were born in New York but raised in Ghana and later came back to the United States to pursue their dreams. They graduated from The High School of Fashion Industries as well as the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology with their bachelor’s degree. After graduating,Chantelle interned at Shwartz & Benjamin,which is the showroom for DVF and other brands where she worked alongside the design and marketing team. Danielle interned at Marchesa and Maggie Norris Couture, where she sharpened her skills with hands on experience.
They have used their platform to highlight brands they love. As fashion bloggers/ innovators in this industry, they have partnered with brands such as Keds, Teva, Budweiser and Chinese Laundry just to name a few.
As part of their efforts to give back, the DPiperTwins have raised funds for several non-profit organizations. They have also done charity fashion shows for Sickle Cell Anemia organization SYNC, Nyaka Aids Orphans School and New Life Orphanage in Ghana. Annually, they use a portion of their sales to purchase toys, clothes, books and other supplies for an organization in need. Recently, they spent their birthday at New Life Orphanage home in Ghana and New Years at a Village in Ghana where they gave numerous gifts to children . They hope to one day create their own non-profit organization to help further their goal of bringing smiles to the faces of people globally through their joy of fashion.

 

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Feature: Spectra Speaks

Spectra Speaks

Spectra is an award-winning Nigerian writer, gender justice advocate, and new media evangelist at Spectra Speaks (www.spectraspeaks.com), a global afrofeminist blog which publishes social commentary about gender, sexuality, diaspora communities, and movement-building through the lens of “Love” and media psychology.

She is also the founder and executive editor at Queer Women of Color Media Wire (QWOC Media Wire, www.qwocmediawire.com), a media advocacy organization that amplifies the voices of LGBTI racial and ethnic minorities around the world, and the Community Engagement officer at Africans in the Diaspora (AiD, www.africansinthediaspora.org), a philanthropic organization that nurtures principled philanthropy in Africa. She’s also the principal at her boutique consulting firm which offers coaching and support services to women-led ventures in new media for branding, creative campaigning, thought leadership, and social impact.

Her work using media to amplify the voices of marginalized people has earned her international recognition, appearing on both mainstream and alternative media outlets, including ABC network, Huffington Post, Ms. Magazine, Curve Magazine, Racialicious, BET,and a myriad of print publications.

In her spare time, Spectra curates live art and music events, hosts the monthly podcast, Kitchen Table Conversations (featuring interviews with global thought leaders about gender, politics, and pop culture), and supports indie and mainstream films, books, and music projects by women and/or queer artists of color through media advocacy and philanthropy. She is currently editing a collection of poetry from LGBT Africa for an upcoming anthology, and planning a queer afrofeminist wedding with her soulmate.

Her mantra is “Love is my revolution.”

 

 

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Feature: Elizabeth Eckford

Elizabeth Eckford

 

It was a school night, and Elizabeth Eckford was too excited to sleep. The next morning, September 4, 1957, was her first day of classes, and one last time she ironed the pleated white skirt she’d made for the occasion. It was made of piqué cotton; when she’d run out of material, she’d trimmed it with navy-blue-and-white gingham. Then she put aside her new bobby socks and white buck loafers. Around 7:30 a.m. the following day, she boarded a bus bound for Little Rock Central High School.

Other black schoolchildren were due at Central that historic day, but Elizabeth would be the first to arrive. The world would soon know all about the Little Rock Nine. But when Elizabeth Eckford tried to enter Central, and thereby become the first black student to integrate a major southern high school, she was really the Little Rock One. The painfully shy 15-year-old daughter of a hyper-protective mother reluctant to challenge age-old racial mores, she was the unlikeliest trailblazer of all. But as dramatic as the moment was, it really mattered only because Elizabeth wandered into the path of Will Counts’s camera.

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FEATURE: Danielle Cadet

Danielle Cadet

Danielle Cadet is the editor of Huffington Post Black Voices. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she received her bachelors and masters. She has written for the Medill News Service, Right On! & Blackbeat Magazines, and various other publications and websites.

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FEATURE: Necole Bitchie

Necole Bitchie

They say the best way to find your own path is to get lost on your present one. No one is a better example of that than Necole Kane. Today the blogger/entrepreneur sits in the driver’s seat of a burgeoning empire which includes the Urban Entertainment blog NecoleBitchie.com, its Lifestyle offspring, XONecole, the web channel BitchieTV, and a forthcoming apparel line, BC Society; but what a difference three years can make.

Though Necole’s Bitchie online persona made it’s debut onto the blogging scene in late 2007, the motivation behind building her brand really began when she was a child growing up in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, spending her free time daydreaming, creating movies in her mind and writing books that were never finished. In college she majored in Television & Film with a hope of becoming the next Mara Brock Akil or female John Singleton.

In 2002 Necole’s father passed away and two years later her mother followed, leaving her feeling lost, uninspired and with a terrible case of writer’s block. Looking for a fresh start she moved to Detroit and began an internship with a radio station as a producer; her first taste of working in entertainment. Six months later she was hired as the Assistant Marketing Director/Promotions Coordinator where she was introduced to marketing and brand strategizing and how important it is to build a branding platform. After music executive Lyor Cohen visited the radio station and gave a presentation on his artists at Warner Music Group, a light bulb came on for Necole: she would work for a record label.

The young entrepreneur hopeful quit her job, moved to New York City, and interviewed with numerous record labels and management companies, but her lack of experience kept her from nabbing the job of her dreams. By the summer of 2007, a frustrated Necole made the decision that she would never send out another resume, and she never did. Unfortunately, however, by the beginning of 2008 Necole found herself broke and forced to move in with her aunt. Necole recalls, “I was in a situation where I felt like I had lost everything while trying to take risks. My career. Money. My parents. I was devastated.” She was back in the small town where she was raised where the two most viable employees were Wal-Mart and a pickle plant, and Necole was sure that her entertainment industry dreams were over. “I’m sitting in the guest room at my aunt’s house thinking to myself, I’ve failed. I’ve truly failed. What are people going to say about me?”

After getting her hands on the popular self-help book The Secret, Necole decided she had no time for self-pity. What she needed was a plan so she concluded, “There is a lack of jobs in the industry, so I’m going to create my own.”� Seeing a lack of coverage in urban entertainment, Necole Bitchie was born as she began reporting on the world of celebrity entertainment and new music while blogging some of her personal experiences as well. “I wanted to connect with my readers on a level that I hadn’t seen on other urban sites that I had frequented. That helped me stand out.

Though her following on her website grew quickly, a new challenge emerged: unable to understand why Necole spent the majority of her time on the internet versus looking for employment, her Aunt kicked her out, leading her to Atlanta, completely alone again to figure out how to make it work. “I was hurt because the only thing I had was a roof over my head, and you go and take that too. That was the worst thing that I thought could happen to me at that time, but now, I see that it was truly a blessing. It gave me only one option, and that was to make it.”

Within a year, NecoleBitchie.com became one of the leading and fastest growing Urban Gossip Sites on the internet, attracting readers, advertisers and such esteemed outlets as The Huffington Post, CNN, The Boston Globe, Global Grind, VIBE and XXL. She was being courted by the very industry that had once rejected her. Now, her accolades include Black Enterprise’s Black Blogger of the Month, Soul Train Music Award For Best Soul Site, the Black Weblog Awards Best Gossip Blog and Blogger Of The Year honors, Ebony magazine’s Power 100, being the first Blogger to appear on BET’s 106th and Park, all while being featured in Sister 2 Sister, The Source, Honey, Essence, J’Adore, Rolling Out, The Huffington Post, The Tom Joyner Morning Show and more. Necole is well on her way to not only building a media empire that will include a production house, clothing and beauty line, and social applications, but creating a non-profit that will mentor and provide financial support to further the education of children that have lost their parents prematurely.

Necole exemplifies what it means to gain control of one’s self through self-determination, self-motivation, self-reliance, and self-promotion. More important than any of her accomplishments, however, is Necole’s focus on making sure people, especially young girls, find inspiration in her story. This desire led her to create IAMNECOLE.com

She says, “I hope I am able to connect with my readers more on a personal level and provide inspiration. I want to motivate others to take risks and go hard for what they want out of life. I especially want girls to know that you should never let anyone get away with telling you that you aren’t worth it, or you won’t make it. If you truly believe in yourself, it doesn’t matter what people think because ultimately as long as you have a dream and a plan of action, no one can stop you.”

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