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Entrepreneur Events Interview Motivation Mondays

Meet Samara George

“You have to be dedicated to doing it. You can’t just do a face mask once a month and you can’t just drink two glasses of water every four days expecting results…” -S.G.

According to a 2016 Beauty Industry Analysis Report, just last year the beauty industry generated 56 billion dollars in revenue. It is no secret that Americans are obsessed with beauty and quite honestly I have no shame in admitting – I, too, am obsessed and I am here for it!

In honor of my obsession I would like to shout out my two favorite tools in beauty: YouTube and the Instagram community. With these two outlets, you are only one click away from a fierce contour and a couple seconds away from a flawless eyelash application. You might be laughing but I am sure if you check your search history you too have stalked the big names in make-up to learn how to apply BEN NYE banana powder without looking dusty. It is okay, we all have!

But, have you ever noticed that the majority of these make-up artists already have perfect skin? I get so frustrated when I am watching Ms. AaliyahJay lay her foundation on a smooth canvas and I am looking into my magnified mirror at pimples galore. I’m supposed to get those exact results after watching your tutorial? How sway?

But have no fear, esthetician Samara George of SKYNbySamara aka the “skin whisper” is taking beauty to a deeper level.  I linked up with her this past Friday to discuss her skin regimen, her new business, and how she is making her mark in the beauty industry. Below you will find our in depth conversation. Enjoy.

(Side note: If you are not sure what an esthetician is – it is your lord and savior in beauty heaven. They are professionals who specialize in skin and skin care.)

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“Growing up I always liked to play in make-up. I liked making sure my face looked nice…and I can remember times where my parents used to call me vain…just to get me out of the mirror.”

[Q] What is your full name?

[A] My name is Samara George and I am the owner of SKYNbySamara.

[Q] How did you come up with the name SKYNbySamara?

[A] I’m an esthetician, so I am all about skin care, and I wanted people to know of the jump what my brand deals with. I, also, included my name so that people would know the person behind the brand and I spelled skin with a y instead of an I (SKYN) so that I could invite people to ask about it and learn more about what I have to offer.

[Q] How did you get into skin care? Did you have formal education or training in the field?

[A] I got into skin care because both of my parents own a beauty school. It offers cosmetology, nails, and an esthetician program, etc. and I just really took to skin care. I started reading into it, getting to know the ins and outs of it, and I fell in love with it. I just want to be able to help both men and women know how to take care of what is underneath before they put anything else on top of it. As far as my formal education, I attended Morgan State University and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Television Production. So, I have a background of being in front of and behind the camera as well as a background in PR/marketing which has helped build my brand (through YouTube and Instagram) as I know how to market myself and to get my name out there.

[Q] How has social media impacted your start-up?

[A] Social media has definitely helped get my name out there. I already had a semi-good following on IG but by using hashtags that people can click on daily, I’ve noticed an increase in my followers from different skincare companies to different spas and salons from Arizona to Korea. It’s amazing how one social media outlet can get my name around the world without me having to put money out there or travel anywhere.

[Q] As far as brands, Sephora and MAC are dominating the beauty industry and women and men are spending tons and tons of money on the latest and greatest. Do you have any recommendations for people who are interested in achieving better skin? Are there things people should be looking out for before spending money?

[A] I would recommend getting a consultation with an esthetician or visiting a dermatologist. It is important you know and understand your skin. Everyones’ genetics is built different so, what works for one person will not always work for the next. A lot of products are being endorsed by make-up artists who already have flawless skin and they probably don’t even use the products they endorse or know what is in the products themselves. With that said, I like to stay on the natural side of skin care.

[Q] You mentioned you are a fan of natural products, is that something we should be expecting from SKYNbySamara in the near future?

[A] Yes! I am in the process of creating 100% natural products. Everything from coconut oil, Shea Butter, to other pulled oils…I am actually working with someone right now to make this happen. I want people to know they don’t have to spend 1,000 of dollars to achieve amazing skin and that they literally can use everyday things around your house.

[Interview Break and transition to audio. We apologize about the background noise.]

Want to meet the fabulous Samara George and learn more about SKYNbySamara? 

Instagram: SKYNbySamara | Website: SKYNbySamara  | YouTube: SKYNbySamara

She will be officially launching SKYNbySamara April 30, 2016 at BAR 7 located on 1015 1/2 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 from 5 to 8.  You won’t want to miss this event and tell her Astu sent ya.

RSVP HERE

Wondering what to expect, click here to hear: 

Stay Down Blaze Up,

Astu Mengesha

Categories
Clothes . . . Entrepreneur Interview

Broccoli, Broccoli, Broccoli Fest

Broccoli Fest hit DC, this past weekend, and it was mind-blowing. It brought creative souls from every corner of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to the East Gateway Pavilion located in South East DC. The festival included what every great festival considers essential; artsy vendors, food trucks, couple of hula hoopers and a performance line up that ensured a good time.

The organization, Broccoli, was launched in 2009 by Brandon McEachern as an effort to “develop innovative strategies on living healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, while empowering communities to make informed decisions about their health and environment.”   Just about everything at BCFest incorporated the theme of green: in the VIP room you could find mason jars with broccoli stems poking out from the top and signs on trash cans asking attendees to recycle. Overall it was a well thought out and executed event.

I was super excited to be there but even more excited to meet the masterminds behind some of the pop-up shops. I talked with a lot of people but two specific vendors stood out the most.

Meet Phillip Loken aka OG Swagg Jesus the Don II

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He was sitting on a table minding his own business when of course I came and disturbed the peace! Here is what you should know about the Don: He is a student at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he currently runs a mens fashion blog called Cool and Well Dressed that highlights up and coming clothing lines, and he is an artist that works with all mediums. Don was at the festival with a clothing line that he works closely with Avant Garde. Expect to see more from SDBUP on OG Swagg Jesus the Don II. In the meantime follow him here: KingPhill_ and read more about him here http://newsandfeatures.uncg.edu/phillip-loken-fashion-blog-uncg/#sthash.74IKrleJ.dpbs

Meet Ryan Lindsay

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The event was full of clothing lines. Some of them good some of them bad, in my opinion, I had to have met at least two or three designers all preaching about their lifestyle brand but none of them struck a chord with me like Gloss Rags “And Counting” tee. I saw the controversial names listed on a black tee and thought to myself who would have the audacity to print these names on a tee and it all came full circle when I met Ryan Lindsay. Here is what she had to say about her involvement with #BCFEST and her tee.

Astu: “How did you find out about the festival?”

Ryan: “I found out about BCFest through a couple of my friends who are a part of Rock Creek Social.”

Astu: “Explain the shirt for me.”

Ryan: “The shirt came as an idea after having attended the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. I was making signs with a youth organization called GapBusters and these names really stuck to me, this was back in August, and to think that the list started at 5 and all of a sudden I had to add Jordan. That is where the name ‘And Counting’ comes from…power, passion, purpose – I’m sure you will get stares or stopped when you wear this shirt but it is worth it.”

Follow her on instagram: @randigloss and visit her site: http://www.glossrags.bigcartel.com

 

 

All in all, the event was eye-opening and I do plan on attending many more BC Fests!

Shout out to our honorary camera woman Kedest Firdaweke.

Astu Mengesha – Stay Down Blaze Up

Categories
Entrepreneur Events Inspiration Interview

“Am I too African to be American, too American to be African?”

As a child, children would blatantly ask me “what are you?” As a teenager, my peers would joke and say you are my African queen or Nubian princess. As an adult, I find myself tangled up in conversations about whether I am truly African-American, Black enough to be Black, or if I am too American to be African. Growing up in a city where there was a population of 6 Africans, which was my entire family, I never took the time to discuss my identity with anyone but my father. Thankfully my parents were always there to reinforce my Ethiopian-American identity. Being in the DC metropolitan area now, a place full of culture, I now know every first & second generation immigrant experiences this at some point in their life and Nadia Sasso is attacking identity head on.

photo (7)Beautiful, outspoken, and goal-orientated are all words that come to mind when describing, my new friend, Nadia Marie Sasso. This past week, in the midst of a random snow storm, I was able to sit down with Nadia at one of my favorite spots, Bus Boy and Poets in Arlington. She is the daughter of Sierra Leonean immigrants, a Maryland native, and currently resides in Pennsylvania. Pursuing a master’s degree and completing her thesis at Le High University, Nadia is the definition of versatile. Not only she is student but she is a brand curator, social entrepreneur, and digital storyteller. During our meet-up we laughed, we joked, and bonded over the similarities of our experiences of growing up in America. But for Nadia the topic of identity is not just for laughs but rather for research. As mentioned before Nadia is taking identity development by the horns, in producing a documentary, alongside cinematographer Corey Packer , on the ever so popular question “Am I too African to be American, too American to be African?”

She traces her interest in this topic back to a panel discussion at Bucknell University, where she attended undergrad. The panel consisted of generational immigrants that openly discussed their experiences in the United States. Not only did this panel steer her in the right direction but it gave her insight on a topic that has not been translated into film just yet. Nadia has found a way for her passion to be her thesis project. Her film, which includes in-depth interviews with women from different African backgrounds, will be the first of its kind that can be appreciated by all: academia, cultural enthusiasts, and the general public.

The film will debut this spring and to find out more about her projects or this particular film please visit: http://www.iamnadiamarie.com/. Make sure you subscribe to #SDBUP to find out when screenings in the DC area will occur!

 

 

Connect with Nadia Marie

Twitter: @iamnadiamarie| IG:iamnadiamarie| Website: http://www.iamnadiamarie.com/#portfolio

Astu Mengesha – Stay Down Blaze Up

Categories
Art Entrepreneur Inspiration Interview Mindblowing

Meet Chidinma Dureke

“My goal is to redefine the definition of blackness in the Diaspora, by using color, design elements to transcend physical material reality.”

Thank God for the creators of Instagram! I am always finding amazing artists and this week we are highlighting an extremely talented female artist and her name is Chi-Chi. When people submit their work to the website I initially send out a questionnaire and I condense their information, but I have decided to do something a little different so you can get the REAL artist. So below you will find the answers, directly from Chi-Chi herself. Enjoy!

Chi-Chi[Q] What is your full name?

[A] Chidinma Dureke a.k.a. Chi-Chi

[Q] Where are you from?

[A] I am a first generation African-American & both my parents are Nigerian. I am native of Maryland born in Washington D.C., raised by Nigerian parents.

[Q] When do you believe you became an artist and why?

[A] I think I truly embraced my talent and took the title as “Artist” after my senior art exhibition. I say this because it had taken three others and myself several months, weeks and sleepless night to put making this show life changing. The emotions I felt the day of the show were truly amazing and encouraging. I had finally felt and found my calling in the arts. My work spoke for me that day and my message was clear in my work. To be able to impact other lives in that light was so amazing. Art allows freedom of expression and ideas in a peaceful way.  Not to mention being at a predominately white university and the only African-American girl in the exhibition and sell the most work that afternoon wasn’t too bad either. That experience gave me the validation and confidence I needed to go forward as an artist.

[Q] Favorite medium to work with when making your artwork.

[A] I would have to say oil pigments are my favorite medium to work with. I work primarily with oil paints on different surfaces. Every once in a while I use other mediums like fabric, paper, ink and gouache.

[Q] Who or what inspires you to create?

[A] My culture or lack there of culture inspires me to create. African aesthetic and West African/Nigerian culture all play a huge role in my work. Being a woman inspires me to create. For example, my use of kente cloth, bold/bright colors, textiles, African fabric and women of African descent. Being a minority inspires me to create. Initially, my portraits were based on the culture of hair and it’s significance it has in African –American culture. Using bold African fabric as head wraps to disguise what the figures hair look like; the viewer is then forced to focus on the woman’s natural and physical beauty. In the past we used Colorism to discriminate against each other as blacks and today hair has become another way to divide and discriminate ourselves as a people. Currently, my work focuses on hair and its significance in black culture but has evolved into beauty and what I feel it means to be beautiful. My goal is to redefine the definition of blackness in the Diaspora, by using color, design elements to transcend physical material reality. The expressionistic sunflowers are not naturalistic but used to represent society and mood. The fleshy, peachy color in each skin tone gives more positive feeling and the continuous use of the color green symbolizes growth and nature. With Africa as my main inspiration I fuse colors, textures, organic shapes and traditional techniques to create images that are fresh, iconic, expressive and diverse.

[Q] What is your absolute favorite project or piece of work you have created and why? What does that piece mean to you?

[A] I don’t have a favorite piece from the past five years. I enjoy all my work equally. The one piece that has been the biggest social experiment would have to be “One Drop.” The focal point here again is feminine beauty and what constitutes blackness. This piece is number one of eight. The piece is entitled “One Drop” primarily because it is difficult to determine the ethnicity this young woman represents. It is evident that she has that 1% of black in her. With her intense gaze, Head Wrap is a more passionate exploration of culture, portraiture. My ultimate goal is to shift our focus on whom the woman is rather than what her hair looks like, facial structure and complexion. What she looks like and the texture of her hair should no longer be used to define a woman. The goal is to shift focus from what she is mixed with and how diluted her blackness is, how “black” he or she is.At the time of working on this piece I was at a difficult period of my life.  As a graduate trying to figure out if I was really going to pursue being a professional artist or work for someone else. In the process of trying to figure out life after college, I kept getting my hair relaxed once a month, wearing long straight weaves back to back. I grew my natural hair out in preparation of my big chop while figuring out who I wanted to be in represent in this world after college. My piece “One Drop”, helped me to express how I was feeling about the world at that moment in my life and our obsession with the western ideals of beauty and hair. I think her strong gaze exemplifies my frustration and awareness.

[Q] A quote you live by (optional)

[A] “ My favorite quotes are those on opportunity. When opportunity presents itself, if it is not inconvenient, it is no longer an opportunity.” – Margaret Dureke founder and president of WETATi

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Connect with Chi-Chi

chichisart.com | chichi@chichisart.com | chichisart.com/shop

Astu Mengesha – Stay Down Blaze Up

Categories
Art Entrepreneur Events Inspiration Interview Wednesday's Business Weekend Sum Up

Zaaf Launch Event

Stay Down Blaze Up attended Zaaf’s Official Launch, this past Sunday, and below is the entire account. Enjoy!

Upscale, classy, and family/friend oriented, Zaaf’s Launch event was beautifully executed. People from all over came to celebrate, Abai Schulze’s up and coming company, and I was super excited to meet the mastermind behind the promising brand. I arrived about an hour into the event along with a couple of my girlfriends and we were immediately greeted with a sweet smile from an enthusiastic hostess.  The Barcelona Wine & Bar venue, handpicked by event planner Yodit Geberyes, was an excellent choice as it offered an intimate yet spacious feel. My girls and I checked in and we were immediately thrown into a room filled with laughter, good vibes, good food, and even better looking bags.

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Abai Schulze

Before delving into the mix of the event, I caught of up with the woman of the hour and here is what she had to say.

After speaking with Abai, I connected with an attendee and the male perspective is always appreciated, in this next clip Alan Yeboah tells us his connection with Zaaf and his go to piece.

Yodit Geberyes, the engineer of the event, sits down with SDBUP and tells us how her experience with Zaaf has been so far. [Yodit pictured below]

Zaaf, as Abai previously mentioned, is a brand rooted in the Ethiopian culture. Not only are the pieces stylish and practical but every item created allows for economic development in favor of the developing country. Zaaf, is also a brand that transcends all ethnic backgrounds and is a brand to be embraced by the international community. All in all, the line has an extremely bright future ahead of it and we are so honored to have captured some of its’ early moves.

Connect with Abai 
Instagram: @zaafcollection| Twitter: Zaaf_Collection| Web: http://zaafcollection.com/
*Disclaimer: Not all pictures are my own.
Astu Mengesha – Stay Down Blaze Up