Meet Dr. Travis Whiteside and Dr. Chohnice Daniels
Dr. Travis Whiteside and Dr. Chohnice Daniels are the owners of and practitioners at The Plug: A Chiropractic Wellness Center. The Plug Chiropractic opened August 27th, 2021 and provides family wellness chiropractic including care for pregnancy, pediatrics, and athletes. Other services include acupuncture and nutritional guidance. Drs Travis and Daniels met in chiropractic school and share a passion for uplifting and educating our communities. Because of this passion, they decided to return to Dr Travis’ hometown of Asheville to open their first practice! Their mission is to provide quality holistic healthcare and promote better health and wellbeing to the community through the vessel of chiropractic!
Contact The Plug: A Chiropractic Wellness Center at 828-242-1369
Meet Ataurus Lenoir (Taurus)
Asheville Native with a passion for music. My purpose is to establish a successful urban music scene here in Asheville where the cultural narrative does not exist. Also creating an atmosphere where women empowerment can thrive in the city and community. I am the CEO and Artist of Gangsta Boujee Entertainment, record label.
How it started
Taurus Is an Asheville native, and successful single mom of 2 adolescent kids. Growing up without an outlet to express her true feelings in her home and community she turned to her notebooks for release. Catching the attention of her sister who pushed her to turn her stories and pain into songs. Taurus aka Suruat plans to also use this as a platform to bring back programs in the community for young women to have an outlet to express themselves in a safe and comfortable environment.
Follow Her on Social Media
Apple Music: Suruat on Apple Music
Meet Artist & Zedoria
Artist & Zedoria Anderson are the founders & CEO of 4Ever Love LLC, and COO of Black Marriage Club. The Andersons are both from Virginia, Artist being born and raised in Richmond while Zedoria grew up in Farmville then moving to Richmond. Artist and Zedoria both attended and graduated from Virginia State University. Artist would then enter into the field of business and entrepreneurship while Zedoria entered into the area of finance and banking. The Andersons are successfully married and as the founders of 4Ever Love their vision is to provide relationship education and consultation to the world as the company was birthed out of recognition of need in our communities.
How it started
Being taught how to do almost everything in life from a child to adulthood, except the very thing that we all must learn, experience and function in from the moment we are born, that being how to effectively have successful relationships of all kinds, was a mystery the Andersons wanted to solve. They aim to provide relationship education through coaching, consulting, seminars, and more in efforts to fill the education gap and void regarding relationships.
Relationships are their passion. They desire to see people thrive in them. The Andersons desire to see people succeed in their friendships, families, single life, dating life, engagement, and marriages. They are thankful, humbled, and excited about the future in connection with Black Marriage Club and look to continue to help take 4Ever Love & Black Marriage Club across the world.
Facebook Page: @try4everlove
Meet Chiloh and Asia
A mother-daughter duo, Chiloh Reece and Asia Campbell founded the Luhvoh Livity, LLC. It is an aromatherapy, wellness goodies & lifestyle subscription box to pamper the body and nourish the soul. All products are curated for discerning women who leads a busy life and deserves to be pampered. It is a new way to reward yourself with serenity and vitality and a perfect gift for your loved ones.
How it started
The idea came to Chiloh a few years ago as she was raising her young family. During those early years, she experienced some challenges and made the shift to incorporating natural, soothing, and sensory products into her household. As the primary caregiver, she needed a way to create and experience more balance in their lives.
As she began that journey, she began to receive support from like-minded women. Asia and Chiloh have crafted, shared, and sold some creations at an expo and at birthday parties over the years.
Fast-forward to December 2020 during the pandemic, her daughter was selected as a participant at a Youth Entrepreneurship event where she would create, sell products, and pitch to the community. The event was a success and gave them the realization that the time is now, and the world is waiting for their creations.
Meet Ashley Tolbert
Ashley received her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Psychology at the University of Houston-Victoria and her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, splitting her undergrad years between Winston-Salem State University and Emmanuel College. She is a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS) and one of the clinicians and artist/creator of From the Ashes Cultural Arts & Counseling, LLC (FTA), a black-owned small business in Asheville, NC who promotes healing, and empowerment through Substance Abuse Counseling, and cultural art and was founded together with her identical twin sister.
She is part of the Black/female/LGBTQIA+ community and hopes to offer her services to diverse groups struggling with substance use/addiction and mental health. Through healing and transformation, her goal is to help people acknowledge, accept, and celebrate their differences.
Their vision is for the African American/diverse communities in our region to experience equity, love, unity, and peace as well as literacy in all aspects of social justice, inequality, and culture. Through personal and collective transformation, the community can celebrate each other and honor our differences.
They aim to address not only the public health crisis of addiction and mental illness but the underlying causes of these diseases in black/diverse communities.
Meet Heather Tolbert
Heather is the co-owner of From the Ashes Cultural Arts & Counseling, LLC (FTA). She is a native of WNC, where she is a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS). She has a BS in Psychology and an MS in Criminal Forensic Studies.
She wants to use her gifts, talents, experiences, education, and authentic self to help others feel empowered to live as their authentic selves. She wants to normalize seeking help.
Her vision is to normalize mental health struggles and addiction and let people know that they are not alone. There is help and support just around the corner.
FTA hopes to give back to black/diverse communities, while also collaborating with other black-owned and non-black substance abuse programs and facilities.
With the individual talents and skills that we bring to the table, we hope to create and sell custom arts/crafts, apparel, and accessories that inspire, celebrate, educate and empower black people, culture, pride, and unity in communities.
"We hope to inspire individuals to not only feel empowered within themselves but to support, uplift and empower others as well. Our goal is to connect people to each other and to celebrate indifference together through social gatherings like paint nights, art exhibits, and more." - Ashley and Heather Tolbert
Meet Millicent and Daulton
Founders of Tayse of Di Islands LLC, Millicent is a Jamaican native that moved to the mountains of WNC in 2009. Daulton was born and raised in Hilton Head Island SC and met Millicent 3 years ago, after moving to the City of Asheville. Their love was quickly fueled by their passion for cooking, particularly delicious authentic island fare.
How it started
Unable to find an example of their beloved cuisine in Asheville, Millicent and Daulton began to explore ways so they could cater to those who desired fresh high-quality, authentic island fare. Brought together by their passion for cooking, Tayse of Di Islands LLC was born. Millicent and Daulton are so excited to share their family food tradition with you and everyone in Buncombe County and possibly the whole country.
Meet Sapphire and Pearl
Sapphire De'Bellott and Pearl De'Bellott are the CEOs and organizers of Stella Stellar Network, LLC. They have over 8 years of youth engagement and advocacy. Both Sapphire and Pearl served as Americorps members to volunteer in their communities and they have continued their early childhood education to become qualified. The De'Bellott Sisters have provided childcare for Private families, Corporations, and centered equity and justice organizations.
Sapphire is a young professional woman who believes, in order to empower people; one must be educated. In May 2017, She received her Associates in Arts from AB-Tech Community College. Additionally, She has over eight years of experience in intergenerational circles learning from peers and elders. These relationships enhanced her ability to build sustainable partnerships. Her passion is to create a cultural environment for youth.
Pearl is a passionate entrepreneur who is dedicated to educating youth on health and wellness within her community. Pearl focuses on providing healthy meals and options for every child by working closely with local nutritionists and food banks. Pearl De'Bellott is currently attending ABTech to receive her Associates in Arts in Business and Marketing. She plans to use her knowledge to expand and grow Stella Stellar Network, LLC.
How it started
Due to Covid-19, many child services were discontinued. This has socially impacted children and parents who go to work. We notice that high-quality and affordable childcare is desperately needed for Western Carolina families. Sapphire and Pearl De'Bellott, have developed an idea to create a safe and authentic environment. This space offers youth to be educational and culturally engaged. These services provide parents with peace of mind and affordable childcare services.
Throughout his entire life, art and creativity have played an important and formative role for him. His earliest education came at an art magnet school during his elementary years. It was there that he started exploring every creative outlet he could. He was a sponge.
At the age of 20, he was given a small opportunity to work nights in a small print house's billing department. He took that job and turned it into a print and design career that he has navigated for 15 years and counting. He was that same sponge. He learned pre-press and design techniques, and soon after that, he was making flyers for shows his friends promoted.
In 2008, the financial crisis struck, and like most small businesses, the company he worked for wasn’t immune. They closed their doors that October, and he jumped around as a sort of hired design and pre-press gun for some years. In February of 2014, he moved from his home in Fort Lauderdale, FL, to Asheville, NC. That first year in Asheville, he refocused his creative efforts to becoming a better graphic artist and discovered his passion for photography. In 2015, his wife bought him his first Panasonic camera for Christmas. After getting over some initial apprehension and intimidation, he hasn’t looked back.
While his design work finds its identity in a type-focused, minimalist discipline, his photography allows him to explore many other avenues he's interested in. Landscape and nature. Street photography. Concert and portraiture work. Abandoned photography. He truly loves it all.
That great love is what led him to start Show And Tale Creative. Here, he hopes to explore all of the different creative avenues that interest him while inspiring and lifting some truly amazing people.
Meet Sonya Crump
Sonya is an IT Professional, and owner of BeauteInsideOut, LLC. Beautensideout is an ecommerce store that focuses on infused Sea Moss gel and more. Sea Moss, also known as Irish Moss, contains 92 of 102 essential minerals for the human body. It is an excellent source of iodine, minerals, protein and potassium chloride, a nutrient which helps to support healthy inflammation and phlegm levels in the mucus membranes, which makes it ideal for respiratory issues. Other key elements include sulphur compounds, bromine, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, pectin, Vitamin C, B, B12, K and A.
How it started
Growing up, Sonya struggled with headaches, allergies, and digestive issue with many trips to the doctors’ office leaving her hopeless. She slowly started eliminating foods out of her diet, which basically left her plant based. Soon after, she was introduced to sea moss through a mutual friend. After using this product for years, she decided to make her own Sea Moss and share it with world, which inspired her to start her own business.
Her vision is to educate others about Sea Moss, and it benefits. I always say, “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in.” I truly believe this.
Facebook Page: @beauteinsideoutt
Meet Kim Moore
Kim is an independent consultant/business owner and sells Paparazzi jewelry. Kim spends her time between Asheville and SC. Kim has 3 children, one son, one daughter, and one step-daughter. She has her MSW and is a social worker by profession, which she has almost 30 years of experience working with children and families.
How it started
Kim had been a faithful patron for the Paparazzi jewelry products for almost 3 years before deciding to join the Paparazzi Family. She really enjoys all the support from other Paparazzi consultants/business owners as when they greet each other it often starts with “Hey Papa-Sis or Papa-Bro” and almost immediately followed by sharing of ideas and new information. Kim wants to now bond with people on a fashion sense and assists them to find their beauty inside and out through accessories and fashion through Paparazzi.
Meet Lakievia Johnson
Lakievia Johnson, also known as "Lucky," the founder and lead advisor of S.T.E.P.S (Strategically Tailored Educational Planning and Services), LLC, or STEPS Academic Advising and Tutoring, moved to Asheville in 2018. Since then, Lakievia has been an active member of the community, serving on the planning committee for the Asheville Chamber of Commerces' WomanUP program and as one of the Professional Development Co-Chairs for the Young Professionals of Asheville (YPA). As a lifelong learner and an academic scholar, Lakievia is a PMI Certified Associate in Project Management and Project Management Professional, with a BS in marketing management and an MBA in management and strategy from Western Governors University. She also has a post-graduate certificate in project management from Brenau University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in strategic leadership from Liberty University. Furthermore, she is an active member of the Project Management Institute and NACADA. Finally, Lakievia is currently a master tutor and has over five years of experience working as an enrollment specialist, academic advisor, and academic success coach. As a non-traditional student herself, she is also experienced in navigating the challenges non-traditional students face while attending school to pursue higher education.
How it started
STEPS Academic Advising and Tutoring provides remote academic support to U.S.-based students in the seventh grade and older. While serving as an academic advisor and success coach, Lakievia often spoke with students about the challenges they experienced when switching academic advisors and feeling as though their academic support had been interrupted, limited, or taken from them. Additionally, she witnessed strong academic support relationships being interrupted or ended when students graduated, change schools, or changed programs. Finally, as someone who spent her teenage years in the foster care system, Lakievia was required to consistently seek new academic support systems when she moved from home to home and school to school. With this knowledge and first-hand experience in mind, she created STEPS to address the need for voluntary, consistent, and long-term academic support for students committed to their educational and professional growth and development.
Meet Alexandria Hawkins
Founder of The Rehab Project. A North Carolina native, looking to add to your home, office, or all of the above. Rehab Project specializes in home decor items to include our line of candle products, Just Be. What began as a hobby of rehabilitating furniture has become a passion for all things home goods. Our candles and melts are made of organic soy wax. Soy doesn't release chemical by-products into the air like paraffin wax. Our Products are free from carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, organ toxins, and acute toxins. Our wicks are made from cotton and contain no lead or zinc. Plus our soy wax candles hold more fragrance than those made of paraffin wax so you get a stronger scent. Soy wax is also 100% renewable, so we don't harm the Earth! All of our candles are handcrafted in North Carolina by me, Allie. Many of our other products are from distributors in the USA, most often on the East Coast.
How it started
Home interiors and remodels had always been of interest. Most of the furniture remodeled has been for personal use. As she was moved into my last place, I realized that luxury is often very expensive so Alexandria decided to "rehab" by restoring old furniture pieces. Since then, Alexandria has branched off into the world of home decor with her line of candles and wax melts.
Meet Yvette Freeman
Yvette is the owner of Red Angle Photography, a portrait and headshot photography studio, based in Hendersonville, NC. After working more than 20 years in both corporate and non-profit marketing and communications, she opened her photography studio in 2016. Within three years, she became an award-winning portrait photographer, and as of Spring 2021, she has been awarded 17 image competition awards. A native of Winston-Salem, NC, and a magna cum laude graduate of Bennett College, Yvette is also the founder and publisher of The ENVOY, a print and digital magazine that educates, features, and promotes minority- and women-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, community members, and creative artists across the U.S.
How it started
Red Angle Photography started out of Yvette’s lifelong love of photography. Growing up, she always had a camera to take photos of family and friends; and as an adult, she continued to photograph the people and places she loved as a hobby. In 2016, after 11 years in higher education sales and marketing, she decided to become a full-time professional photographer specializing in fine art beauty, maternity, family, and high school senior portraiture, as well as corporate headshots and branding.
Yvette created The ENVOY in early 2021 after living 11 years in western North Carolina and seeing a lack of diversity in the publications, and the absence of a high-quality publication specifically for minority business owners, entrepreneurs, community members, and creative artists. The ENVOY features articles written by experts to help start-up, manage, and grow your business; spotlights on local and national minority and women entrepreneurs, businesses, and artists; and a directory of participating businesses.
Meet Bali Mitchell
Founder of Moving Mountains Doula Services. A Labor and Birth Doula with a passion for birth, reproductive justice, and advocacy. Moving Mountains Doula Services promises to provide not only emotional, informational, & physical support; this doula promises to help preserve the memory, advocate, and to provide support to whoever else you have as a support person. Moving Mountains Doula Services main objective is to help you have the tools needed to have a brave birthing experience.
How it started
After a rough time during their birth of their first child and a pregnancy loss, Bali made sure to get a doula for their twin birth. Their doula was so invaluable to them that they decided that they wanted to be able to give support to someone else who needed it, especially those who are often neglected by the medical community, and they joined a local training to get started! Being a doula fits their love of social justice and advocacy perfectly because they just want to support people as best as they can.
Meet Michael Hall
Michael Hall is the program Director of City Works USA. A Fatherhood and Youth Mentorship Program. One which we use life skills from lived experience, evidence-based information, and employment. Their aim is to encourage Dads to reestablish the foundation of fathers not only in one's own home but in our communities.
What we do
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Parenting is the only way, naturally, that YHWH has partnered with humans!
Our City Works USA and Washed By the Water Pressure Washing Service aim to implement valuable life skills through Young Adult mentoring. Restoring Father's and Son's relationship.
We are a Non-profit that employees at $15.00 per hour while positioning ourselves as Role Models.
CityWorks USA was awarded a grant from Dogwood Health Foundation to launch its YardDad's Program to beautify the community while increase the Black Man's involvement community and the lives of his children.
Each week, Dads and Children will work together to beautify a yard in the community. After they complete the volunteer project, the group will meet for breakfast and discuss any issues that arose during that week. As a result, we expect to see a more beautiful community, an increase in dads spending time with children, and an increase in kid's school grades. We will pay the children for their time, but all fathers will volunteer.
If you would like to discuss event sponsorship by your business or organization, please contact Michael Hall firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Stephanie Lee
Stephanie is the Assistant Vice President/Banking Center Manager at First Horizon Bank in South Asheville. She has over 13 years of financial services experience along with 10 years of human resources experience. She is focused on providing consumer and business financial services that help Black Wall Street AVL cohort members establish strong financial wellbeing. Stephanie’s specialized services include loans, lines of credit, mortgages, business and personal deposits as well as investments. Stephanie’s education includes a Business Administration degree from Tusculum College, an MBA from Lincoln Memorial University and a Business Analytics graduate degree from Harvard Business School.
First Horizon Bank
At First Horizon Bank, we understand that everyone has their own story – and their own unique banking needs. That’s why we take the time to get a deeper understanding of your financial goals, then work with you to find the right solutions to help you achieve those objectives. From your first checking account to a small business loan, we’re ready to travel with you throughout your financial journey. Visit us at one of our three convenient locations in Asheville off Hendersonville Rd, Leicester Hwy or Merrimon Ave.
Contact: (828) 277-4509 office
Meet Raileigh Duschen
Raileigh Duschen welcomes you to Conscious Lifestyle Coaching, a platform for professional self-empowerment and spiritual coaching, motivational literature, yoga & meditation classes, and many other self-care and mindfulness resources for those on the healing, self-development, and spiritual paths. Raileigh's modalities derive from education and experience in wilderness exploration, yoga, meditation, breathwork, and mindfulness. Her priority as a coach is to motivate, empower, and inspire you to the highest version of yourself...by allowing space for self-awareness and reflection, encouraging positive coping skills, and guiding you to conscious and mindful life choices that YOU ALREADY INTUITIVELY KNOW TO TAKE... using the practices and philosophies of Yoga.
How it started
Raileigh took her first yoga class in 2016 where she first experienced a sudden awareness of her present state of being - the triggering of generational illness and trauma that was steadily degrading her mind, body, and spirit due to her lifestyle. With new clarity, she was able to release this identity and pursue the embodiment instead, a life of health, peace, freedom, abundance, joy, and connection in alignment with her soul's purpose. To heal herself, to heal her family, and ultimately to use her own gifts to serve others, she chose her Highest Self over who she thought she had to be.
Facebook: @Raileigh Duschen
Meet Melissa Perkins
An international educator, Melissa has held teacher licenses in North Carolina, Virginia, and Hawaii and holds a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She also had the pleasure of building and leading English Language Centers in Beijing and Shanghai, China. A graduate of Meredith College, they awarded Melissa the distinguished NC Teaching Fellows full scholarship to pursue becoming a world class educator in 1992.
Melissa also had the pleasure of serving as an adjunct professor for international students at Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute at the Fairfax Virginia campus in the Washington, DC metro area.
How it started
Starting with one Master Student and an outstanding homeschool mom, Melissa Perkins, used her over 25 years of education experience to found Blue Star Virtual Learning (BSVL). She creates an experience that celebrates the essential beauty of learning and speeds up learners (toddlers to adults) to self-mastery. Moving to Asheville, North Carolina, in May 2021, Melissa has moved the headquarters of this global company to downtown. She plans on welcoming thousands of families from around the world to bond, explore nature, and academically excel together. Despite her busy schedule, Melissa actively facilitates Master Student activities within Blue Star Virtual Learning because it fuels her passion and devotion to delivering quality education for her learner around the globe.
Contact: (984)-200-0069 ext 1001
Facebook Page: @BlueStarVirtualLearning
Facebook Group: The Conscious Educator
Meet Diamond Cash
Artwork by Diamond Cash is a mobile Sip and Paint studio where she brings the party to you! Diamond instructs painting parties and private parties all around North Carolina and surrounding areas. I provided all painting materials for each painting class and pick your own painting to create! Classes can be for girls' night-in, youth classes, fundraisers or even classes just for fun. Diamond is also a local artist who stays connected to the area with many projects and is open for commission work.
How it started
Born and raised in Henderson County, Diamond started with her passion for the arts at a very young age and continued on throughout her school years and college. She learned about painting, drawing, photography and more. Diamond also was a part of her local Boys and Girls club, where she learned more about art and knew she wanted to pursue it further as a career. She graduated from UNC-Greensboro with her Bachelors in Studio Arts. Diamond has worked for years with K-5th graders and adults with disabilities. Diamond has taken her knowledge and created her own business to teach others the art of painting and more to those of all ages and abilities.
Meet Mr. Shammah Waller
Mr. Shammah Waller also known as “ SPEED” is the owner of a professional photography & videography agency called Speed Snaps LLC, who captures the moments that mean the most. The moments that move us closer to Joy. Shammah Waller’s mission is to “Inspire, Elevate and Empower the human race through Artistry”.
How it started
At a young age Shammah had a vision. Growing up in Richmond Virginia he was influenced artistically by his family and community. Shammah later moved to Brooklyn NY in search of opportunities to advance his dreams. Photography began as a hobby which later turned into a passion to uplift and bring Joy. Today he is the visionary and founder of a high end Photography & Videography Agency called Speed Snaps LLC.
“From a young age I've always had vision. I remember dreaming about where I am today. I can recall the moments when I felt down. Photo’s had the ability to shift my mood to see life from the lense of Joy. It was then, I realized I had the ability to uplift others in their time of need. It was my super power as a creative to capture the moments that moved us closer to Joy”. -Shammah Waller-
Meet Apollos Kimbrough
Founder of KimbroAscent, LLC. Apollos helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses by transforming their websites into web magnets that attract customers. His work includes consulting, private coaching, web design, sales funnel marketing, and lead generation strategies.
How It Started
As a teacher, he spent most of his spare time building courses, designing websites, and developing web pages. He studied different design strategies that led him to the world of affiliate marketing. He dove deeper into his studies, learning sales and marketing techniques from the country's best strategists. With this newfound wealth of knowledge, he began sharing this information.
He started consulting other entrepreneurs, designing websites, and incorporating sales funnels and behavioral marketing strategies to increase the average cart value, the profitability of the sales process, and customer follow-up. He has helped entrepreneurs save costs and increase their revenue with a strategic sales process designed to attract customers and solve their individual needs.
Meet Ramona Young
Founder of the Kente Kitchen. A foodie with a mission to feed all kids, eliminate food insecurity, and provide food access to all living in Buncombe County. If you have traveled to Africa or if you have never traveled to Africa, The Kente Kitchen is an opportunity for you to experience something that you will find nowhere around town. All dishes are made with fresh ingredients and can be modified to accommodate vegan and vegetarian diets. She specializes in West African Cuisine.
How it started
Ramona moved back to Asheville and there was nowhere she could go to buy the food that she loves. No restaurant or grocery store sells them, so she started working in festivals with a tent and a two-burner grill so she could share her love of West African food with people and from there she added catering. Now it's time to add a grocery store.
Meet Claude Coleman Jr.
With a successful track record of 35 years of professional experience as a recording, performing, and touring music artist, Claude Coleman can claim a deep knowledge of all facets of the music industry. Drummer for the group Ween with a large discography of work, he has built, owned, and operated several recording studios and worked his entire life in recording and rehearsal studios both domestically and internationally. He also is a professional carpenter/builder, school director, graphic/web designer, teacher, and writer.
How it started
It started because of the owner's experiencing firsthand the issues and desperate need for music practice spaces and working musicians in Asheville. It was non-sensible. In every other music city, these types of facilities are abundant. After searching for properties, they found Rabbit’s Motel. It was then the concepts of a re-imagined soul kitchen and cultural landmark spoke to create a mission of deeper importance and greater dimension. With this reconnection to history, they are also continuing a hundred-year tradition in Asheville of helping to create Black business opportunities, while creating a destination site to foster diversity within the Asheville tourism industry and population.
There are hard times as well
It was difficult for us to be held as prospective buyers when trying to purchase property for the business. This was how we found the old Rabbit's Motel. The sellers were sitting with two cash offers on hand when we looked at the property to purchase. After writing a letter to the original owner's family with our plans to restore it and re-create its purpose of serving the community, they put us under contract ahead of those offers, as if they were waiting for someone like us. We converted it into a music rehearsal studio facility inside of the 1948 historic Black-owned tourist court, the legendary Rabbit’s Motel in Southside, Asheville, NC. It is soon to include a soul food kitchen by chef Clarence Robinson, additional artist studios, and a multi-artist murals project depicting its own history, and the rich history of prosperity within all the lost early Asheville Black communities.
Meet Debra Kiliru
Debra’s passion for nature began as a curious child in Kenya. Her work centers on environmental education, youth leadership, community wellness, and access to nutritious food. She seeks ways to bridge people across borders and has facilitated extensive cultural programs in several African countries as well as domestically.
As a nonprofit executive, she collaborates with inspiring people and organizations, to build capacity and deepen the impact. Her research focuses on underutilized plants in Africa while working to ensure land/forest regeneration, farmer’s rights, and economic vibrancy. She is working on a social enterprise focused on a more inclusive pathway to health. Her business creates nutrient-dense, plant-based products to help achieve your health goals, invigorate your daily life and broaden your cultural cupboard.
How it started
Moving to the US as a teenager, she was confronted with the misperceptions of Africa and the wounds of transatlantic slavery. She later co-founded an organization to facilitate healing these divides and bridge people across borders. Simultaneously, she witnessed her dad battle cancer and became deeply invested in holistic & somatic practices. She continues to seek ways to be of service in the world, bring people together and advocate for a healthy planet and society. Debra has two daughters.
Meet Lakeisha Lee
Lakeisha is an educator and the owner of Luv-Lee Natural's, LLC. A line that focuses on natural skincare products. She’s been making natural skincare products for years.
How it started
Lakeisha’s daughter suffers from sensitive skin and loves to smell nice. Unfortunately, she can’t use many of the products out there. So she envisioned creating natural products that anyone can use. She developed her plan with 3 things in mind:
1) The products have to be natural.
2) The products have to smell good.
3) The products have to be affordable.
So at the end of 2020, she decided to step out on faith. she invested in herself and something she believes in.
“It is important to me that my products smell amazing but contain no harmful chemicals. It is my goal to keep my products natural and affordable. My hope is to give everyone, especially those with sensitive skin a self-care experience without breaking the bank.” - Lakeisha Lee
Meet Mrs. Naomi Waller
Mrs. Naomi Waller “The “Lifestyle Beautyprenuer” is a licensed cosmetologist and Beauty Consultant who “Empowers through the Art Of Beauty”. She is the visionary and CEO of the Ayoki Styles Beauty Collection. An online digital store that provides multiple organic and vegan safe products. While in partnership with her daughter Gei’onie Arie who owns Arie essentials, a company that focuses on healthy skincare and lifestyle strategies. Naomi’s mission is to redirect the concept of beauty through Empowerment, Education, Transformation, and Beauty.
How it started
Inspired to start because of her own insecurities growing up. The pandemic assisted Naomi to identify a continual problem in the Beauty Industry. Covid-19 was unfortunate, but it gave Naomi time to reflect and redirect her approach on how she serves. Her business originally started off with the name Ayoki Styles but with the big shift, she decided to add on a beauty collection to what she already offers. Leaving the salon during Covid has pushed her to find new ways to stay connected and influence the Beauty Industry. Naomi say’s, “Beauty products are my connection to still influence anyone in any location”.
The Journey Leads to the Goal
“I hate to keep going back to Covid but I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted my life to look like 10 years from now. One of the things that came up for me was not wanting to be bound to a 9-5. I want full control over my time and where I spent it. My driving force is my family, covid opened my eyes. My business had to somehow be interconnected to the many roles I am responsible for. Most importantly as a mother, I never want to miss out on being just that. The ultimate goal is to live free and be fulfilled.” -𝒩𝒶𝑜𝓂𝒾 𝒲𝒶𝓁𝓁𝑒𝓇
Meet Nicole Lee
A loving mother of 3, 20-year veteran salon/managing cosmetologist, Counsel to the Entrepreneurs, self-published author of 9 publications, podcast host of "Spiritual Beings Having Human Experiences " and founder of a 501C-3 social enterprise called Warrior Moms where their mission is to eradicate emotional paralysis among singles who live in poverty.
How it started
While marketing her self-published books, Nicole decided to offer a complimentary counsel session with the purchase of her book. She realized then, that she had a niche, the conversations that ignited during the counseling session made her realize that from the reading of her book, she created higher consciousness. This is how the birth of Counsel to the Entrepreneur, LLC evolved.
What makes your business unique in its field?
Business consulting is the ideal title in my field, I chose “counsel” because it’s more of a personal and therapeutic approach. My expertise is a more holistic and healing approach that ignites the mind, body, and spirit.
There are hard times as well
"Every time my businesses needed to shift, it was always a struggle in thought. Sometimes the idea from the heart isn't the one that will bring in monetary abundance. As an entrepreneur, ideas tend to flow in an abundance from conversations and even in my dreams. The struggle is to seek out what idea is most profitable. Having access to a mentor, coach, positive support, and fruitful resources to figure this out is key to overcoming the struggle." - Nicole Lee
Meet Phyllis Utley / Ani-Kusa Cofitachequi
A Multimedia Artist, Host/Emcee, Facilitator, Racial Equity Consultant, Diversity Institute Coach, Joyologist, Creator of the first Copper Colored Indigenous Elder Super Heroine in the 21st century, Actress, Author, and Abolitionist. Her upcoming book is entitled : " Did You Know ? Asheville's Multi-Cultural Roots." Her literary art is featured in a 2019 public art installation downtown Asheville entitled " Hope Springs Forth Brightly." She has performed at the Asheville Art Museum. Her work will be featured also at the Mint Museum Uptown in Charlotte NC. The Opening of "Silent Streets: Art in the Time of the Pandemic" is on April 17, 2021.
She founded Phyllis Utley Enterprises and is a Ye Iswa First Nations Tribal Citizen with Ancestry in North, South, and Central America. She is a member of the Federation of Aboriginal Nations of the Americas.
Phyllis is an Alumni of the Racial Equity Institute, an Economics graduate of Dartmouth College with Graduate Studies at Clemson University. She has been mentored by 2011 Liberian Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gwobee and is an alumnus of the Women, Peace, and Security program at Columbia University in NYC. She is a Heroine of Asheville and Tzedek Social Justice Impact Award Winner and Founder of Saving Our Selves (SOS). Phyllis enjoys forest bathing..taking in the beauty of rainbows, waterfalls, and eating garden-fresh vegetables and fruits, especially blueberries, strawberries, and persimmons. She also has a Hemp Enterprise. You can find her on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
“In this side of Eternity, I help people Re-Member, Re-Frame, Re-Construct. The world is our stage – at home, at school, at play, at work. Every day we create. We re-create who we really are. I see you. I see you see me. I see you see me seeing you. I see you and me. I see us.” – Phyllis Utley / Ani-Kusa Cofitachequi
Meet Robinette D. Cross
Robinette D. Cross is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she graduated magna cum laude, with Departmental Honors, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with a concentration in Africa. While at Spelman, Robinette benefitted from three study abroad opportunities, studying in Morocco, Britain, and South Africa.
A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Robinette also serves on several committees that are rooted in community service and education. She is committed to the instruction, education, and upliftment of all humankind and, as global citizens, ensuring all who wish to have access possess the fundamentals needed to be successful in academics and cross-cultural understanding. Her commitment to excellence and community impact is what led to the founding of Cross-Cultural Talks, LLC in 2015 which promotes academic success and cross-cultural understanding. Cross-Cultural Talks has introduced community and business programs to students, educators, and entrepreneurs across the world. The business specializes in Speech, Tutoring, Grant Writing, College Preparation, and international travel for experiential learning. To date, her programs have led more than 100 learners of multiple ages abroad.
Moreover, her efforts to make equitable learning available on a global scale, Robinette is launching the Cross Global Academy of Academic Excellence that will be in multiple countries on the continent of Africa and states in the USA, which will provide virtual learning opportunities for students in urban, rural, and remote areas across the world with instructors globally.