“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” - Booker T. Washington
15. Koran Edwards - DJ Blackout
Koran Edwards, better known as DJ Blackout, has been making a name for himself in the smaller circuit of the DJ’ing world. Working diligently and endlessly to perfect his craft, Blackout has already reached major accomplishments. DJ-ing at a lot of prestigious universities, Koran has become the official DJ for the Deans List Tour and DJ’ing at Howard University’s Homecoming in 2013 and 2014 alongside Matt The Violinist. Besides his infamous skills on the 1s and 2s the reason we chose this turntable master is because he has also created a network for DJs called Blacklisted. His network allows the giving of opportunities to other DJs that do not have an outlet or network to reach the next level of their careers.
16. Justa Lujwangana - Founder of Curious
Founder, dancer, storyteller and traveler, with a desire to serve as a bridge between Western society and her Tanzanian heritage. For Justa, Curious on Tanzania is in a sense, her way of reconnecting with her roots after leaving Tanzania at a very young age. Justa familiarizes travelers of Tanzanian diasporas inspired to connect the world with people of Tanzania by organizing grassroot and unparalleled travel adventures, enriching villages/cities by connecting explorers with the locals.
This is another beauty choice from the Brown Girls Love Conference, with her LIT brand “Lit Brooklyn” a candle company where each candle is hand poured, packaged, and shipped from Brooklyn, and made with 100% natural soy wax and scented with the finest of fragrance oils. The energy she radiates in her presence is definitely contagious and her openness to collaborating and promoting other talented like minded individuals is humbling. She is the pure definition of simply loving what you do and sharing it with the world. Key reason why she is our pick due to the fact she is bringing her business back to the community and staying local from production to product, which is very rare these days. "It's LIT!" - A Millennial Proverb
Co-Founder Catherine had the pleasure to briefly meet Tonya Rapley at the Brown Girls Love Conference and hear her speak during the panel, this young black and fabulous entrepreneur female is one of her picks for her mission to help millennials break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck so that they can become financially free and do more of what they love. America’s biggest fear is the advancement of the African American community, so to see her brand dedicated to the advancement of our financial power and freedom is the reason she is making history. “ It was time to stop acting like I had it all together and start getting it together.”
This pick may come across bias being as co-founder Catherine is her best friend and was there for the development from idea to conception. However, this project hits too close to home to not highlight. Having seen a need, that to many would not think twice about and dedicate the brand to not only giving back hygiene products to female less fortunate, but promoting empowerment and healthy mindset attitudes. This lovely female has been known to be the mother hen of the group and now she is expanding her flock by focusing on the uplifting and uniting of the female community around a beautiful cause and breaking the barrier of what is perceived of being an uncomfortable conversation while having the option to either rock it daily in style or read it daily with a reminder.
20. D-Nice - DJ
This man is the sole reason why rocker, Kid Rock was discovered and signed to Jive Records. But he is also the sole reason as to why he is a Dope Black Entrepreneur. He is a local talent from The Bronx who has gone to great length DJ-ing at high level events at major award shows, high-end fundraisers, and The White House. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the 2012 Apollo Spring Gala which I was able to design alongside The Style Marc by MWD Lifestyles. He had the crowd dancing all night but the beauty of it all was being able to see him bring all cultures and races together with his music alone. It was truly a night to remember and mostly because of him.
21. Esther Robles - Business Solutions Consultant
Characterized by her instinctive attention to detail, poised demeanor and creativity, Esther Robles is an experienced Business Solutions Consultant. She thrives in the vibrant city of New York, providing one on one services to clients seeking expert business solutions and an extra pair of hands- willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done! Esther brings to the table an Administration/Hospitality Management Bachelor's degree and eight years of combined experience in the Hospitality and Corporate industries. She is adept at providing administrative support that is effective, while adding long term results. Her experience includes working for high profile clientele, financial institutions, lifestyle brands and landmark New York City venues. She is driven by creativity, the power of human connection and an innate desire to make a positive contribution to her clients, on a professional and personal level. When not being a girl boss, you can find Esther at a "whole in the wall" eatery, feasting her eyes at a local market, or daydreaming at a stationery store.
22. Alicia Pinckey - Apparel Designer / Artist
Where does one even begin with this natural beauty. There needs to be a book written about her marvelous journey and undeniable talent. The amount of awards and recognitions she has been honored does not come by any luck but by raw talent, extreme passion, miraculous skill, extreme dedication, and pure blessings. This Philadelphia born designer has taken her talents to Domus Academy for VOGUE Talent’s “Call For Talent” scholarship where she spent time in a new city, Milan, while collaborating with companies like BMW & Stone Island. And has now found her wanderlust soul in Boston designing for Reebok/Adidas. However her journey does not stop there, whether she is painting pieces to touch the lonely lovers heart, capturing breathes with her healthy glow in her natural curls, or developing signature pieces in her menswear brand G Leon 1938 , this creatives capabilities leaves her next path to be unpredictable but guiltily enjoyable.
23. Jonathan Harris - Culinary Chef and Teacher
Don’t call me a “Chicken and Waffles” Chef!
Chef Jonathan Harris literally grew up in a kitchen, being the son of a father who was a chef and restaurateur he was immersed in the culinary industry at a young age. Deciding he wanted to take his life in a different direction that resulted in what Harris calls, “an uneventful sports injury” to bring him back to the kitchen, he continued his academic studies in culinary and developed his own taste. He is our pick due to his recognition of black chefs struggle with breaking the stereotypes of culinary crafts. This has fueled him to push limits, develop a unique culinary story with plays on popular foods, delicious blends of flavors and innovative signature menu items. He ensures everyone has a mouthwatering experience and carries a level of professionalism and personal touches. Making his 2017 resolution to become more familiar with black vendors within the food & beverage industry in efforts to promote, unite, and giveback is yet another reason why he is one of our picks. Also stay tuned for a collaborative event!
24. Michael Greene - CHEF & Founder of Plate 2 Plate
Michael Greene is a young chef, foodie and aspiring caterer. Having a degree in culinary background, Mike’s true joy is entertaining people with his culinary skills by creating an atmosphere for fun, creativity and, unity. Every meal he prepares is a conversation with his guests. Every bite is an expression of the meticulous care and preparation he puts into to every meal. Two years ago he decided to extend that conversation to the world by hosting and curating his own signature events. With each event being better than the last he, as well as we are optimistic about his future success. As a welcome he extends to all of his guests and friends, there will always be a seat at the table.
25. Krystal Dethan - Make Up Artist
Makeup is an enhancement, not a change of who you are. These are words that Krystal preached by. By seeing her work, you can tell she has a special talent for this. Studying English and business in school, she began working the major retailers in the beauty industry, familiarizing herself with the latest and best products and trends. On her spare time, she would freelance for clients that she met along the way and for many events in the city. A lesson from working through this ever changing industry, Krystal came to the realization that although she is enhances and external beauty, she never let the person sitting in the chair in front of her leave without asking what they love about themselves and accentuating those features. It has become an empowering feeling, that makes her a force to be reckoned with. Her work is creative, refreshing, and constantly making you do a double take. She is empowering women of all races and cultures to embrace their natural beauty, and love themselves, through means of art.
26. Seyi Sowunmi - Founder of PROPERGUY.COM and VILLAGERS + OUTSIDERS
Founder of PROPERGUY.COM and VILLAGERS+OUTSIDERS, an analyst and a social entrepreneur by night, Seyi is focused on turning ideas into solutions that will impact the lifestyle of African people. Seyi was one of the 1000 entrepreneurs selected from the 45,000 plus applicants for the The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TTEEP) hoping their business idea will impact the African economy. In early 2016, he decided to pack his backs and move to Nigeria to spearhead his focus on properguy.com.
Properguy.com is a platform curated for African men; providing definitive guidelines, resources, products and events in culture, grooming, entertainment and style. Aiming to be the premier lifestyle platform both on and off line. Their mission is to enhance the lives of African men in their communities, families, and businesses. Seyi started properguy.com to impact Africa the way GQ has done for the western world and others.
Villagers+Outsiders is a creative consulting and business development firm devoted to the fashion and lifestyle industry in Africa. They are creative souls focusing their expertise on creating online experiences that allows a client's’ brand or company to stand tall and bold against local and international competitors.
Seyi is a driving force in entrepreneurship, and continues to embrace and educate culture and business on a global level !
We met her on her hit VH1 series Styled by June and have been obsessed with her since then. She is the epitome of a grounded successful black woman who lights up any room she walks in. According to her bio, “She’s a creative director, author, costume designer, celebrity stylist, #Rockmom and social media maven, who has forged a career thanks to her fierce and fearless spirit. And with over 1 million followers across her multiple social media platforms, June’s influence is more widespread than ever”. She is awesome and you should check her out!
28. Demetria Lucas D'Oyley – Writer
You may have seen her amongst the drama on Bravo’s Blood, Sweat, and Heels but this sultry entrepreneur is more than just a show. Demetria’s rise to fame and success came shortly after launching her ABelleInBrooklyn.com blog back in 2007. Since then she has become a staple in the homes after launching two successful books; A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Guide for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life published in 2011 and Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love published in 2014. Be sure to check out Demetria and connect with her on social media!
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”