#BlackDecemberGiveaways Day 4: Win A Hand-Dyed Gold Tote From Southern Journeys

For Day 4 of #BlackDecemberGiveaways, Southern Journeys is getting in on the fun and giving away one of our very own gold African Garden tote bags!

The African Garden line of the Georgia Garden Collection is crafted solely from vibrantly colored motifs, hand-dyed by our artisan sisters of the Baba Blankets Collective, Ghana and canvas lined.

#BlackDecemberGiveaways Day 3: Win $25 To Shop Headwraps & More On FanmDjanm.com!

You still have more chances to win our #BlackDecemberGiveaways!

We find it impossible to describe the head wraps of Fanm Djanm without using the word “regal”. Fanm Djanm offers an array of stunning wax print head wraps and a powerful mission of women empowerment, even down the meaning of its name (“strong woman”).

Fanm Djanm's founder Paola (of FindingPaola.com)'s line embodies strength and elegance and we support her amazing journey as an entrepreneur.

Now you have a chance to live boldly and shop Fanm Djanm with a $25 gift card. Click here to enter a giveaway to win $25 from Fanm Djanm now!

#BlackDecemberGiveaways Day 2: Win A Pair of Button Earrings From Soapbox Theory

#BlackDecemberGiveaways continue! Today, we are pleased to welcome Kayin of Soapbox Theory and give you a chance to win your pick from her selection of cute-as-a-button handmade earrings.

"Always a 'creative-type' Kayin started Soapbox Theory in 2001 as a way to keep the creative juices flowing while going to school for Mechanical Engineering...All products are printed and finished by hand."

Soapbox Theory is fresh, fun and uplifting and now you can win your choice of a gorgeous pair of earrings from her collection!

Introducing #BlackDecemberGiveaways! Day 1: Win A Lisa Bonet-Inspired Shirt From Ariel Brands

Thank you for stopping by our blog! Your support has kept us busy and motivated to make 2015 our best year yet.

Southern Journeys is in solidarity with all our brothers and sisters taking a stand for justice and equality in Ferguson, NYC and around the world. We are sending prayers and thoughts of peace to everyone this holiday season.

Inspired by the social media love for black-owned businesses by Afrobella, LoveBrownSugar, Glamazons, SuperSelected, and HeyFranHey, we teamed up with some wonderful black-owned companies for an exclusive giveaway series.

Between now and December 23, visit our blog for a chance to discover and win prizes from a unique, fabulous black-owned company every day! We have seven can't-miss giveaways lined up for the entire week from Ariel Brands, Fanm Djanm, The Glossy Queen, Mae B Paper Boutique, Soapbox Theory, and Yumnah Najah Designs

To kick off our giveaway series, we are thrilled to welcome back Ariel Brands. Keturah Ariel is the artist founder behind this company and a longtime friend of Southern Journeys. Every product from Ariel Brands exudes joy and positivity.

Click here to enter our giveaway for a chance to win this Lisa Bonet-inspired shirt from Ariel Brands. Hurry - this giveaway ends 12/18!

Don't forget to Like Southern Journeys on Facebook to be the first to know about tomorrow's giveaway prize and see who won today's!

Placemaking - Day 1

With Christmas just a few days away, Southern Journeys' worker owners would like to share a few seasonal reflections about the places we call home during this time of year. "Place" and "Place Making" are receiving renewed prominence these days as environmental disasters are hitting our homes with increasing frequency.  Not only are we coming to understand the impact of our activities on the earth (both helpful and harmful), but we are also recognizing how our connection to place nurtures our sense of who we are as both individuals, families and communities.

WinterWoodsSnow-long goodbye.png

For Shirley, one Southern Journeys artisan from rural Alabama, the seasonal memory of going out to find a Christmas tree, tasked to the girls of the household, is symbolic of her relationship to her childhood surroundings and to being together outside.  During the month of December she would anticipate the annual cold trek with her sisters.  While she hoped they would find something suitable and cut it down quickly while the air was still warm, she was also excited by the uncertainty of what lay ahead.  She looked forward to escaping the usual chores, the embrace of tall trees illuminated by dazzling sunbeams and the challenge of fulfilling the duty as charged.  

Dorothea, another Southern Journeys artisan, describes her foray into the Georgia woods as follows:

"Growing up with my parents and 16 siblings, me being the 9th child, the middle man (lol), going in the woods to get a medium size pine tree was a family event.  My dad would chop it down. My siblings and I waited for the moment to drag that tree home together. My dad made that ole homemade stand for our tree. Sometimes we used a cane syrup can filled with sand to support the tree (which it didn't always work but seems like we were always there to catch it when it started to lean).  We loved helping my mom decorate it. Sometimes we used hand me down decorations. Christmas Eve everybody was so excited;  wanting to stay awake to see SANTA come down the chimney. Not sure if it was milk or water we left, and a slice of cake, but it was gone one when we woke up.   That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

Holidays with SJ: Part 1

The holidays are a special time for Southern Journeys to celebrate the people and things in our lives that we cherish all year round, including our company and the community supporting us. For this "Holidays with SJ" feature, we're sharing our holiday memories with you as we count down the days. We begin with the spotlight on Dorothea

Dorothea celebrating the holidays

Dorothea celebrating the holidays

What does the holiday spirit mean to you?

Dorothea: Getting all the decorations up and seeing the city lit up. The presents under the tree. The smells of the cakes and the pies.

 

 

 

Opening presents with the family

Opening presents with the family

What are your favorite childhood memories?

I remember the apples and oranges and Brazil nuts and wanting to sneak into the brown paper bags when my parents went out shopping for the kids. And the hand-me-down toys. You had breakfast every morning except Christmas because everyone was so excited.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

My parents had sixteen kids. Back in the day, as the older ones leave home and move to a different state, they would still come home every Christmas with their kids. My siblings and I would all open gifts on Christmas morning. Our family members who live close to each other started a tradition years ago in which we draw names on Thanksgiving day. That way, we all receive a gift for Christmas. And it may be small, but it's the thought behind it that counts. And the end of the day, everybody would return home and years later, still today, the siblings and our small grandkids go to my mom's to spend their Christmas Eve and open gifts in the morning. Then we celebrate Christmas and have dinner and everybody returns home.

 

 

 

What is your favorite holiday song? Holiday movie?

My favorite song is Silent Night. I particularly like the Temptations' version. My favorite Christmas movies are Home Alone and Once Upon a Christmas Ever.

 

What do you want for the holidays?

First, my health and strength and my family members, friends, and neighbors to be alive and well. And I want most of all to thank God for another Christmas I can celebrate.

What would it mean for someone to receive a gift that you made for Southern Journeys?

That people are pleased with our products. That our products are getting out there and helping our company to grow. And most of all, in the near future, there will be jobs for the next generation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Journeys celebrating the holidays together

Southern Journeys celebrating the holidays together

Dorothea and Jessie of Southern Journeys

Dorothea and Jessie of Southern Journeys


How do you celebrate the holidays? Let us know in the comments below and on our social media pages!

Liked this feature? Subscribe to our blog and enjoy upcoming holiday interviews from more women of Southern Journeys. 

- SJ

 

Southern Journeys Mother's Day Tribute: Dupe Ajayi

Southern Journeys, along with fellow creative black women entrepreneurs who support our mission, will be paying tribute to our mothers all May in gratitude for the impact they have made in our lives. Do you enjoy these stories? Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and help us spread the word!

My mom would always say, “Dupe, everything you touch turns to gold!” I remember her saying that to me even when I didn’t know what that meant.
— Dupe Ajayi

Giving back to the community is what Southern Journeys is all about. We are proud to welcome Dupe Ajayi, marketing and social media extraordinaire with a talent for and commitment to strengthening and furthering social good. On her blog, The Ajayi Effect, she describes herself as, "A fearless, charismatic individual obsessed with changing the world via entertainment and social media. I never said I was an expert, but I come pretty close!" Well, she's certainly an expert in our book. Here's our interview:

Dupe Ajayi, changemaker

Dupe Ajayi, changemaker

Which values have been key to your success in life and business and how does your mother embody or instill these values in you?


Mentorship has been key. My mother passed away in 2005 but the lessons she taught me still ring true. She was known for being a role model to young women in our neighborhood who saw her as a second mother. It's because of this, that the value of 'pay it forward' has stuck with me. I've found that no matter where I am in my career - a high or low point - when I give of my time and advice, it comes back twenty-fold.

How has your mother supported your journey as an entrepreneur? 

My mom would always say, "Dupe, everything you touch turns to gold!" I remember her saying that to me even when I didn't know what that meant. Little did I know, she was planting seeds of confidence and courage within me from the start. It's because of this that to this day, I believe there's no obstacle too big for me to conquer.


What is the most important lesson she has taught you? 

The most important lesson that my mom taught me was that it doesn't matter what I'm wearing, how much money I have in the bank or what my title is - I should always walk with my head held high as a, "woman is so much more than those things."


Thank you for sharing this touching tribute, Dupe. With such words of wisdom, we see where you got the Midas Touch from. She raised a thoughtful, inspiring woman.

How has your mother instilled confidence in you? Share in the comments below.

- SJ

Give the gift of a quality product made by southern rural Black women trying to change conditions in economically depressed communities across the South. Visit our store today - sale extended for everything 15% off through the end of May!

Southern Journeys Mother's Day Tribute: Joy Adaeze of JoyLovesFashion.com

Southern Journeys, along with fellow creative black women entrepreneurs who support our mission, will be paying tribute to our mothers all May in gratitude for the impact they have made in our lives. Do you enjoy these stories? Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and help us spread the word!

My mother has always told me to believe in myself and that is something I carry with me everyday in my career. It is the extra bit of encouragement that I need when things get hectic!
— Joy Adaeze

Motherly love never goes out of style. For our Mother's Day tribute series this May, the trend of trendsetting fashion entrepreneurs continues with our spotlight on Joy Adaeze: 

Joy Adaeze, fashion blogger

Joy Adaeze, fashion blogger

Joy Adaeze is a Nigerian-American fashion editor and style blogger of JoyLovesFashion.com. She has been in the fashion industry for over 5 years, having worked for ESSENCE, Essence.com, WWD, Huffington Post, and with Constance White (former Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE). Joy started her top rated personal style blog, JoyLovesFashion.com, in 2009 and has since been featured on The New York Times, Italian Vogue, French Vogue, NYMag, ELLE, Daily Front Row, and more. Joy is coming out with a fashionable turban line this year, stay tuned! Follow her on Twitter @joyadaeze and Instagram @joy_adaeze. 

We are honored that Joy delightfully offered a tribute to her mother for us to feature on our blog and hope that you enjoy:

Joy's mother, Gloria

Joy's mother, Gloria

Which values have been key to your success in life and business and how does your mother embody or instill these values in you?

My mother has always told me to believe in myself and that is something I carry with me everyday in my career. It is the extra bit of encouragement that I need when things get hectic!

Joy and mom at NYFW

Joy and mom at NYFW

How has your mother supported your journey as an entrepreneur? 

When I told my mom I was thinking of starting a turban line (launching this year), she was so excited! She loves the idea and is totally supportive! She even offered to invest in it, which really warmed my heart.

Joy and mom at Nigerian wedding

Joy and mom at Nigerian wedding

nigerianwedding.JPG

What is the most important lesson she has taught you? 

To be a strong woman. I watched her raise my four siblings and I and it is truly amazing what she did! She did it on her own and that takes an incredible amount of strength and courage. She's truly a gift from God! If I can be only half of what she is, I'd be spectacular! Love you, Mommy! Happy Mother's Day! 


The apple did not fall far from the tree because we think you're both spectacular! Thank you Joy for sharing your mother's inspiring story and lovely pictures with us. We are confident that your turban business will be a success and wish you the very best.

How has your mother taught you strength and courage?

- SJ

Give the gift of a quality product made by southern rural Black women trying to change conditions in economically depressed communities across the South. Visit our store today - sale extended for everything 15% off through the end of May!

Southern Journeys Mother's Day Tribute: Maryam Garba

My mother has taught me so many lessons, it’s difficult to pick one, but perhaps one of the most obvious ones is the importance of why a woman must always contribute financially to her household.
— Maryam Garba, Maryam Garba LLC

We've been lucky to feature many fashionable women entrepreneurs on our Mother's Day month-long tribute so far. Maryam Garba is definitely not an exception. With her Stanford and Harvard background and cosmopolitan flair, her journey creating fashion-forward options for professional women as the CEO of Maryam Garba, LLC is definitely worth a double take:

Maryam Garba, fashion entrepreneur

Maryam Garba, fashion entrepreneur

Which values have been key to your success in life and business and how does your mother embody or instill these values in you?

My mother taught me a lot about the value of hard work and she is probably the most hardworking person I know.There was a time when we were growing up when my mother had my younger sister, started a company and also graduated from school all in the same year. I still don't know how she manages to get all this done, but her love of life and her hardworking nature inspires me everyday!

How has your mother supported your journey as an entrepreneur? 

My mother is one of my biggest cheerleaders. She constantly calls me to find out how my business is going. She also sends me new design ideas and sometimes she manages my production and manufacturing orders in Nigeria. My mother is an excellent marketer and project manager. 

Maryam, her sister, and her mummy

Maryam, her sister, and her mummy

What is the most important lesson she has taught you?

My mother has taught me so many lessons, it's difficult to pick one, but perhaps one of the most obvious ones is the importance of why a woman must always contribute financially to her household. My mother has never had to work a day in her life because my father has always provided for us but she has always chosen to work because she wanted her family to have a phenomenal quality life. She's showed me that a woman who works can help to upgrade her family's standard of living and also give back to her community!


Thank you for sharing, Maryam! We love your mother's example as a financially empowered woman and hope that your latest designs at MaryamGarba.com will be worn by many working women.

How has your mother taught you the importance of being entrepreneurial and earning your own income?

- SJ

Give the gift of a quality product made by southern rural Black women trying to change conditions in economically depressed communities across the South. Visit our store today - sale extended for everything 15% off through the end of May!

Southern Journeys Mother's Day Tribute: Cynthia Andrew of Addicted2Etsy

Southern Journeys, along with fellow creative black women entrepreneurs who support our mission, will be paying tribute to our mothers all May in gratitude for the impact they have made in our lives. Do you enjoy these stories? Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and help us spread the word! 

My mum always emphasized that you get out of life what you put into it. If you want real success, you work hard, you stay consistent, you remain persistent.
— Cynthia of Addicted2Etsy

We hope that you had enjoyed this past Mother's Day weekend with your family. Motherhood is too important to spend only one day celebrating so the tribute to mothers continues on the Southern Journeys' blog all month long! Today we are honored to feature Cynthia Andrew of Addicted2Etsy and her loving tribute to her mother:

Cynthia of Addicted2Etsy

Cynthia of Addicted2Etsy

Cynthia's eye for fashion and her effortless style makes Addicted2Etsy a must-read blog. She delivers Etsy chic to the masses while sharing an eclectic range of interests from food to travel to music to humanitarian causes with her adoring fans. Cynthia also goes by SimplyCyn but we think she is simply great. We hope you will too:

Which values have been key to your success in life and business and how does your mother embody or instill these values in you?

It might sound cliche, but I guess that's cos its so important and very true. My mum always emphasized that you get out of life what you put into it. If you want real success, you work hard, you stay consistent, you remain persistent. She recognized that I was impatient and could quickly move into self doubt, so she was a coach and a cheerleader. She knew when I needed a yelling and when I needed comforting. She also knew when I needed prayer.

Growing up, I would watch my mum, who is nothing less than a naturally born entrepreneur. She never held just one job, even when that job was extremely financially rewarding, and even though she was a single mum.
— Cynthia of Addicted2Etsy

What role did your mother play in your journey as an entrepreneur?

Growing up,  I would watch my mum, who is nothing less than a naturally born entrepreneur. She never held just one job, even when that job was extremely financially rewarding, and even though she was a single mum. Just watching her navigate her tailoring shop, her contracting business and real estate ventures were really inspiring. She knew she couldn't do it all by herself and was great at seeking or asking for help. 

Cynthia and mum

Cynthia and mum

What is the most important lesson she has taught you that you would like to share? 

To be God fearing: and by that I mean that she taught me the importance of being a good person. To be kind, to be thoughtful, to care about others and to be the best person I can be. If you go into anything in life with that attitude and with that foundation, you'll only get good back. Even if it takes a while, even it takes what seems like forever, you'll be happier and you'll be really blessed.

-

Thank you for sharing your tribute to your mother with us, Cynthia. She sounds like a tremendous role model for single mothers everywhere and we are proud to share her story here.

How does your mother inspire you to be the best person you can be? 

- SJ

Give the gift of a quality product made by southern rural Black women trying to change conditions in economically depressed communities across the South. Visit our store today - sale extended for everything 15% off through the end of May!

Southern Journeys Mother's Day Tribute: Keturah Ariel

Southern Journeys, along with fellow creative black women entrepreneurs who support our mission, will be paying tribute to our mothers all May in gratitude for the impact they have made in our lives. Do you enjoy these stories? Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and help us spread the word! 

I was born with an innate ability that was nurtured and has been fully supported by my mom since day one. She has always shown me that true growth is forcing yourself out of your comfort zones and seizing the opportunities that have come your way.
— Keturah Ariel

Southern Journeys believes in using our craft to celebrate our heritage and traditions. As we discussed in our Black HerStory Month post on sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis, we are thrilled to see other artists who proudly infuse their cultural pride in their works. We continue our Mother's Day tribute series with our interview with a lovely, young and truly talented artist, Keturah Ariel:

Keturah Ariel, artist.

Keturah Ariel, artist.

Which values have been key to your success in life and business and how does your mother embody or instill these values in you?

My mother has always taught me to focus on what's important to me. Family is very important to her and it's important to me because of her. When the opportunity arose that I would be able to start my own business, I needed help. Without even having to ask, my business automatically became a family business and for that I'm very grateful. Everyone needs a strong support system who truly has their best interest at heart. I'm very blessed to have this kind of support system, and I try my best to not take it for granted.

I have a body of work I am in the process of completing called "Matriarchs" and it was initially inspired by the strong, powerful women in my family. They have always shown me that family is everything. People often overcompensate in attempting to "change the world," when in actuality if everyone took care of their home/their famillies, first...the world would indirectly improve because of it. That's what was evident in my Granny's life, my Grandma's life, and it's evident in my Mom's as well. 

Matriarchs

Matriarchs

What role did your mother play in your journey as an entrepreneur? How has your mother influenced your growth as an artist?

My mom is also an artist, so the artistically inclined gene passed from her, to me. She went to art school, and then later decided to change her major to business. When I was a freshman in high school trying to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I honestly didn't see being an artist as a viable career. I thought, "I'll just be a regular person, work in an office, and art will be my hobby." My mother objected, she felt it was important for me to go to art school and make a career out of what I loved to do. I was given the opportunity to live out my mother's dream, and without me not noticing, it became my dream. I was born with an innate ability that was nurtured and has been fully supported by my mom since day one. She has always shown me that true growth is forcing yourself out of your comfort zones and seizing the opportunities that have come your way.

Granny, Mom and Keturah

Granny, Mom and Keturah

People often overcompensate in attempting to “change the world,” when in actuality if everyone took care of their home/their famillies, first...the world would indirectly improve because of it.
— Keturah Ariel
What is the most important lesson she has taught you that you would like to share? 

She has taught me strength, and that no matter how troubling a situation is you can still find the sunshine through the rain. This time last year, I witnessed my mom and my auntie care for their mother (my Granny) who was battling stage four cancer. Granny was the kind of person who stole the hearts of everyone she knew. She was the heartbeat of my family, so when she was in pain, everyone "felt" it. The experience changed me because from watching them and how they cared for her I realized that what you go through isn't always about you. Sometimes, it's about the person who needs you the most. Well my Granny needed her girls and they were there with her, caring for her, loving her up until the very end. The strongest humans are selfless humans, when you are able to put your feelings aside to truly love and show compassion for someone else...nothing embodies strength more than that. Strong enough to conquer fear and embrace love. My mom is one of the strongest people I know and I love her dearly.

Mom

Mom

Keturah, thank you for sharing your moving story about your mother and grandmother with Southern Journeys. You have been blessed with a gift and it is beautiful to see how your art emanates the pride and joy of your matriarchs. 

Those interested in seeing more of Keturah's works can visit her portfolio here and can purchase her work online at her Etsy store.

How does your family motivate you to live out your dream?

- SJ

Give the gift of a quality product made by southern rural Black women trying to change conditions in economically depressed communities across the South. Visit our store today - everything 15% off through May 12!

Southern Journeys Mother's Day Tribute: Ope Bukola

Southern Journeys, along with fellow creative black women entrepreneurs who support our mission, will be paying tribute to our mothers all May in gratitude for the impact they have made in our lives. Do you enjoy these stories? Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and help us spread the word! 

Another important value I’ve learned from my mother is tenacity. You don’t always get what you want the first time around. It’s important to rebound from stumbles, and to try again.
— Ope Bukola

Mother's Day is less than a week away and luckily we still have great stories to share from entrepreneurs we admire. As you can see from our personal journeys, Southern Journeys is all about resourcefulness, passion, and an unwavering belief that hard work pays off. Ope Bukola, as a self-taught software developer and founder/CEO of educational tech platform CourseSky, embodies all these things:

Ope Bukola, founder of CourseSky and Zora Magazine 

Ope Bukola, founder of CourseSky and Zora Magazine 

Ope first became interested in education during college while working as a tutor. She realized that many students had the motivation to succeed, but could not afford the best academic resources. Prior to CourseSky, she spent many years working in education. She managed partnerships and marketing efforts for a non-profit provider of open-source textbooks. She's also worked in higher education and management consulting. She is a self-taught web developer, and a graduate of New York University where she earned a joint degree in Economics & Mathematics. When she’s not working on CourseSky, Ope enjoys listening to podcasts, reading magazines, blogging, and taking online classes. [Source: Coursesky.com]

The following is our interview with Ope paying tribute to her mother as part of our monthlong Mother's Day celebration:

Which values have been key to your success in life and business and how does your mother embody or instill these values in you?

I've learned many values from my mother, but perhaps the most important is the importance of working hard. My family moved to the US from Nigeria when I was around 10 years old. My mother was a professional nurse in Nigeria but had to re-earn her certificate in the US. To do this, she had work full time as a Nursing Assistant, while taking courses to prepare for her exam, and taking care of 3 young kids. She pulled it off in less than a year. Throughout my life, she continually embodied this ideal: work hard and work diligently and the rewards will come. Another important value I've learned from my mother is tenacity. You don't always get what you want the first time around. It's important to rebound from stumbles, and to try again. Throughout life's ups and downs, my mother has shown grace, strength, and the ability to get up and try again.

How has your mother supported your journey as an entrepreneur? 

My mother has supported me in numerous ways, but the one that has been most important is the one that's hardest to quantify: through prayers and faith. I'm a spiritual person, and I believe that God has a higher plan/purpose for our lives. When you are trying to start something - a business, school, a new project - it's so easy to get caught up in it. It's easy to tie your personal self-worth and esteem in your present circumstance and whether your current project is succeeding. My mother constantly reminds me to keep the bigger picture in mind, to trust in the larger plan for my life. Knowing that she is praying for me makes me feel stronger no matter what trials come. 

What is the most important lesson she has taught you?

There is no substitute for hard work. 

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Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ope! Your mother's work ethic and tenacity inspire us all and we wish her a very happy Mother's Day. 

How does your mother inspire you to do great things? 

- SJ

Give the gift of a quality product made by southern rural Black women trying to change conditions in economically depressed communities across the South. Visit our store today - everything 15% off through May 12!

Southern Journeys Mother's Day Tribute: Lisa Nicole Bell

Southern Journeys recently launched its website because we saw the opportunity to connect with a wider audience and grow our business. Selling our products online allows our story and our craft to enjoy greater reach and creates more possibilities in our mission to create jobs for economically depressed regions of the rural South.

We are honored to introduce Lisa Nicole Bell as one of Southern Journeys' Entrepreneurial Allies helping us transition to online entrepreneurship. Whether as a media personality, entrepreneur, filmmaker, or speaker, Lisa inspires not only Southern Journeys, but people around the world. To quote her official biography at LisaNicoleBell.com:

Lisa Nicole Bell is an award winning media personality, entrepreneur, producer, and author. Lisa is a passionate storyteller and content creator who moves effortlessly on all sides of the camera as a writer, producer, and on camera talent. Working at the intersection of media, technology, and social change, Lisa is the founder and CEO of Inspired Life Media Group, a collection of media properties and brands that leverage technology, digital media, and traditional programming to create unique branded experiences. As a serial entrepreneur, author, and international speaker, Lisa is a noted advocate and expert of entrepreneurship and women’s issues.

Lisa Nicole Bell, lisanicolebell.com

Lisa Nicole Bell, lisanicolebell.com

My mother gave me roots and wings. She encouraged me to go after my dreams, and she has made sacrifices in order for me to grow into the woman I am today.
— Lisa Nicole Bell

We are delighted to share the following interview with Lisa as a tribute to her mother:

Which values have been key to your success in life and business and how does your mother embody or instill these values in you?

My mother is a direct person who speaks her mind and is amazingly confident. I believe this quality has been essential to my evolution as a woman, and it has certainly helped me succeed as a businessperson. She operates from a place of authenticity that I admire and I believe it’s the reason so many people love her. They know she’s genuine, and I try to embody that in my life.

Lisa and her mother

Lisa and her mother

What role did your mother play in your journey as an entrepreneur?

My mother gave me roots and wings. She encouraged me to go after my dreams, and she has made sacrifices in order for me to grow into the woman I am today.

What is the most important lesson she has taught you that you would like to share?

The most important lesson my mother has taught me is the value of honoring self. She is really great at setting boundaries and being mindful of what she needs to do to take care of herself. That is a lesson I’m still working to adopt into my own life because I can easily get so caught up in serving people that I neglect the core things I need to be okay. I’m grateful for her example of self-care and self-preservation.

-

Thank you for sharing, Lisa! Next time you're back home in Huntsville, be ready for a visit from your Southern Journeys Alabama family.

Southern Journeys is not only celebrating mothers on our blog, but also in our store, where you can buy all our products for 15% off. Make your mother proud and stylish by purchasing our products as a gift!

- SJ

Southern Journeys Mother's Day Tribute: Willie

Southern Journeys, along with fellow creative black women entrepreneurs who support our mission, will be paying tribute to our mothers all May in gratitude for the impact they have made in our lives. Do you enjoy these stories? Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Southern Journeys worker-owner Sonya helped us get this Mother's Day series off to a strong start yesterday. Now Willie, another Southern Journeys' worker-owner hailing from Mississippi, is keeping the motherly love going with a tribute to her mother:

Southern Journeys worker-owner Willie of Misssissippi

Southern Journeys worker-owner Willie of Misssissippi

Which values have been key to your success in life and business and how did your mother embody or instill these values in you?

My mother didn't just talk, she always had me to watch what she was doing.  I learned a lot by watching.  She taught me to have good work ethics and to always work hard.   Fear God, treat people right, have compassion, help the less fortunate, be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to anger, do the best I can and don't worry about the rest.

My mother taught me to never stop learning.
— Willie

What role did your mother play in your journey as an entrepreneur?

My mother taught me to never stop learning. She taught me to learn more than one trade because you never know what situation you might come up and you need to have more than one skill. She taught me to be humble and speak up and to the point when needed.

What is the most important lesson she taught you that you would like to share?

Always put God in front and everything will be alright.  Be careful who you call your friend.  Always treat people the way you want to be treated.

Willie's daughters

Willie's daughters

Has being a mother influenced your journey as an entrepreneur? How do you teach your children the importance of being entrepreneurial?

Being a mother made me become an entrepreneur because working on a 8-5 job only paid the bills and nothing else. I try to instill in my grandchildren and children to be self-sufficient with a business of their own and not depend solely on working for someone else. I also reminded them of the various businesses I have been involved that help support them through school and even now. I do my best to teach them to learn to do for themselves. I thank God because one has her own business and another one is working on one.

Anything else that you'd like to share for this feature?

My mother was a very humble person, did a lot of sewing during her lifetime. My mother never used a pattern to sew our cloth, she just looked in the Sears catalog and said what dress do you like and she made it to fix perfectly. She sewed quilts and for other people. She sewed by hand with stitches almost as small as a sewing machine. 

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Thank you for sharing your story, Willie. Your mother's teachings are a great guide for happiness. Your SJ family wishes you a lovely Mother's Day with your daughters.

Willie is one of many Southern Journeys worker-owners working hard to create the perfect gifts for your loved ones this Mother's Day. Give the gift of a quality product made by southern rural Black women trying to change conditions in economically depressed communities across the South. Visit our store today - everything 15% off through May 12!

- SJ

Black HerStory Month: Jeni le Gon

Quvenzhane Wallis is making history as the youngest actress ever to receive a Best Actress nominee. As a nod to the Oscars airing tonight, Southern Journeys would like to honor Jeni le Gon, the first black woman signed by a major Hollywood studio, as part of our Black HerStory Month celebration.

Jeni Le Gon (born in Georgia Aug. 24,1916; died December 7, 2012)

Jeni Le Gon (born in Georgia Aug. 24,1916; died December 7, 2012)

Le Gon (born in Georgia Aug. 24,1916; died December 7, 2012) was the first African-American women to sign with a major studio, but there was more to it that that. From the loving obit by Stephen Bourne in the Independent:

"Following her screen debut, the vivacious Le Gon was signed by MGM and paid the huge sum of $1,250 a week. They gave her a role in Broadway Melody of 1936 but, she said, "MGM hosted a party for the mayors of various cities and the cast of Broadway Melody of 1936 entertained them. Eleanor Powell, the famous tap dancer from Broadway, had also been signed for the movie and after I stopped the show on performance night at the mayors' party, MGM decided they couldn't have two tap dancers in the picture and I was dropped from the studio. If I had been white, they would have kept me because I could have developed into something, but they let me go. While I was at MGM I was told I wasn't allowed to eat in the main dining room. Here, they were paying me $1,250 a week and telling me I wasn't good enough to eat in their dining room. But Hollywood was no different to the rest of the country in that respect."

Also from the obit:

" She played maids to Maria Montez in Arabian Nights (1942), Ann Miller in Easter Parade (1948) and Betty Hutton in Somebody Loves Me (1952). Tiring of maid roles, Le Gon faced humiliation in 1950 when she joined a group of black actors to call on Ronald Reagan, then president of the Screen Actors Guild. They raised their concerns about the stereotyping of black actors, but Reagan showed no interest: "We tried to get him to intervene for us, but he wasn't the least bit sympathetic. He didn't even lie about it."

Le Gon lived her life in a "great big way" and set the stage for black entertainers who followed her. To read more about her amazing life and career, visit Roger Ebert's blog post on le Gon.

Jeni le Gon cartoon

Jeni le Gon cartoon

Above is a video of Jeni dancing at the age of 92, decades after she was the first black actress to dance with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Fred Astaire on film. 

Think this is news worth sharing? Share this post with others on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest using the hashtag #BlackHerStoryMonth and let us know what you think. We'll be featuring notable women in black history in our blog all February.

You only have just a few more days to take advantage of our storewide sale of 15% off all items.  Visit here to shop using the code BLACKHERSTORY13 at checkout to receive your Black HerStory Month discount.

Black HerStory Month: Teresa Graves

Any Southern Journeys fans tune in ABC's Scandal? Kerry Washington is making black history as the lead actress in this popular primetime drama. Today, as part of our Black HerStory Month celebration, we are recognizing Teresa Graves, the first African-American woman to star in her own hour long drama television series. 

Teresa Graves (January 10, 1946 - October 10, 2002)

Teresa Graves (January 10, 1946 - October 10, 2002)

Teresa Graves was born on January 10th, 1948 in Houston, Texas.  She got her start in show business as a member of a singing group called, The Doddletown Pipers.  She later on became involved in acting and had regular roles on, "Our Place" (1967) and "Turn On" (1969).  She was also a regular on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" (1969-1970) and also worked on a number of films such as, "That Man Bolt" (1973), "Black Eye" (1974) and "Old Drac" (1975). Graves also starred on the television show, "Get Christie Love" (1974-1975) and retired from the industry shortly afterwards choosing to focus in 1983 on her involvement with Jehovah's Witnesses.  She spent the remainder of her life living in Hyde park in Los Angeles California and cared for her ailing mother. 

At the age of fifty two she passed away in a tragic house fire on October 10th, 2002 in Los Angeles, California.  Graves married only once in 1977 to William D. Reddick but it is unknown for how long the couple stayed together and she never had any children of her own. 

Source: matineeclassics.com

Teresa Graves on the cover of TV guide for her starring role in "Get Christie Love!"

Teresa Graves on the cover of TV guide for her starring role in "Get Christie Love!"

Teresa Graves performing

Teresa Graves performing

Do you think Teresa Graves is someone more people should know about? Share this post with others on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest using the hashtag #BlackHerStoryMonth and let us know what you think. We'll be featuring notable women in black history in our blog all February.

Our store is marking this occasion with a 15% storewide sale through February 28, using the code BLACKHERSTORY13 at checkout.

- SJ

Black HerStory Month: Mary Edmonia Lewis

Black HerStory Month is Southern Journeys' special tribute to unsung heroines in black history. We continue our Black HerStory Month celebration with a look at the life of the first African American professional sculptor, Mary Edmonia Lewis. Her remarkable talents brought her to Rome and garnered international acclaim in the nineteenth century, a time where race, class, gender and ethnicity barred many artists from success. Lewis' bold portrayal of black and Native American heroes, immortalizing figures such as Hiawatha, Phyllis Wheatley, and various abolitionists, was unprecedented and paved the way for future artists to embrace their racial identity.

Mary Edmonia Lewis (ca. July 4, 1844–September 17, 1907)

Mary Edmonia Lewis (ca. July 4, 1844–September 17, 1907)

Little is known about her early life. Elusive when it came to personal details, Lewis claimed different years of birth throughout out her life, but research seems to indicate she was born around 1844 in upstate New York. The daughter of a black father and part-Ojibwa mother, she was orphaned at an early age and as she later claimed, raised by some of her mother's relatives. Following a childhood that saw her roam the woods with her Chippewa Indian relatives, Lewis found her way to Oberlin College in Ohio, thanks to, it seems, the support and encouragement of a successful older brother.

Oberlin was a hot bed for the abolitionist movement, a facet of school life that did not escape Lewis and would greatly influence her later work. But life at Oberlin came to a violent end when Lewis was falsely accused of poisoning two white classmates. Captured and beaten by a mob, Lewis recovered from the attack and then escaped to Boston, Massachusetts, after the charges against her were dropped.

In Boston, Lewis befriended abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and sculptor Edward A. Brackett. It was Brackett who taught Lewis sculpture and helped propel her to set up her own studio. By the early 1860s, her clay and plaster medallions of Garrison, John Brown and other abolitionist leaders had given her a small measure of commercial success.

In 1864, Lewis created a bust of Colonel Robert Shaw, a Civil War hero who had died leading the all-black 54th Massachusetts Regiment. This was her most famous work to date and the money she earned from the sale of copies of the bust allowed her to move to Rome, Italy—home to a number of expatriate American artists, including several women.

Lewis' famous bust of Colonel Robert Shaw (1864), who lead the all-black 54th Massachusetts regiment during the American Civil War. Shaw's family commissioned Lewis to create this bust, whose popularity spurred many plasters.

Lewis' famous bust of Colonel Robert Shaw (1864), who lead the all-black 54th Massachusetts regiment during the American Civil War. Shaw's family commissioned Lewis to create this bust, whose popularity spurred many plasters.

Her desire to learn drove her to Europe at the age of twenty-one. There, she thrived among pioneering female artists, described sneeringly by Henry James as a "strange sisterhood." Rome offered an environment largely unspoiled by the North American society based largely on slavery and Puritan rejection of European institutions. Soon a visit to her studio was a must for tourists and she achieved commercial success. She called herself "the Indian girl" and her illustrations of Longfellow's Chippewa heroes, Hiawatha's Wedding and The Old Arrow Maker, attracted many orders. Many copies survive today in museums and private collections.

She became the first African American sculptor to celebrate Emancipation with The Freed Woman and Her Child followed soon by the immortal Forever Free and Hagar. She created popular cherubs, copies of classics, and religious works that readily sold to Holy Week pilgrims. She created a famous bust of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, also sculpting Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Horace Greeley, John Brown, Senator Charles Sumner, Bishop B. W. Arnett, John Cardinal McCloskey, and many others. 

She loved America, but she could not live in a society that unfairly cast her as an outsider. Slighted by Americans even in Rome, she plotted to return victorious to the United States as "the colored sculptor.". Advertising Hagar in the Chicago Tribune, she became the first African-American artist to link her race with artistic achievement. She shocked and mortified those who claimed African Americans lacked the capacity for intelligence and fine art by standing next to her works and discussing them for days on end. She was the first important female sculptor to take her work to California. At the 1876 Centennial exposition, she stunned the world with her sensational Death of Cleopatra, assuring her right to a place in history. 

Forever Free (1867) represents the emancipation of African-American slaves after the Civil War. Lewis attempted to break stereotypes of African-American women with this sculpture.  Source: Wikipedia.org

Forever Free (1867) represents the emancipation of African-American slaves after the Civil War. Lewis attempted to break stereotypes of African-American women with this sculpture.  Source: Wikipedia.org

The Death of Cleopatra, a monumental 3,015-pound marble sculpture created for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. After being lost for a century, the sculpture can now be found at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Source: Wikipedia.org

The Death of Cleopatra, a monumental 3,015-pound marble sculpture created for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. After being lost for a century, the sculpture can now be found at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Source: Wikipedia.org

Edmonia Lewis was endowed with special gifts. Her shrewdness, creativity, perseverance, and passion enabled her to find support against all odds and ever press her case. As a symbol of courage and success, her name bonds cultural minorities in the arts. Her works are landmarks in American history, monuments to a heroic spirit and chaotic times. 

Source: www.biography.com and www.edmonialewis.com

Hagar (1868), inspired by a character from the Old Testament, was made of white marble. Lewis uses Hagar to symbolize the African mother in the United States.  Lewis had a tendency to sculpt historically strong women. Lewis also depicted regular women in great situations, emphasizing their strength. Source: Wikipedia.org

Hagar (1868), inspired by a character from the Old Testament, was made of white marble. Lewis uses Hagar to symbolize the African mother in the United States.  Lewis had a tendency to sculpt historically strong women. Lewis also depicted regular women in great situations, emphasizing their strength. Source: Wikipedia.org

Are you moved by Edmonia's art and life? Share it with others on FacebookTwitterand Pinterest using the hashtag #BlackHerStoryMonth and let us know what you think. We'll be featuring notable women in black history in our blog all February.

- SJ

Black HerStory Month: Unita Blackwell

Southern Journeys is proud to honor Unita Blackwell as we begin our Black HerStory Month series.  

Unita Blackwell (born March 18, 1933)

Unita Blackwell (born March 18, 1933)

In 1961, Unita Blackwell was chopping cotton in the Coahoma County in Mississippi Delta. In 1991 she was lecturing students and professors at Harvard University.  

Unita Blackwell, a civil rights activist and the first black female mayor in the state of Mississippi, was born the daughter of sharecropping parents in Coahoma County, Mississippi on March 18, 1933. She worked throughout the civil rights era urging and recruiting blacks to register to vote, while holding positions in numerous organizations to fight for black civil rights in the United States.

Blackwell began her education by attending a school in West Helena, Arkansas, because of the lack of educational opportunities for African Americans in Mississippi.  She received an eighth grade education and then joined her parents as sharecroppers. In the early 1960s, with determination and willfulness, she chopped cotton for $3 per day while she patiently began her work in civil rights. 

By 1964, Blackwell was teaching Sunday School at a church. When the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) visited her hometown of Mayersville, Mississippi, Blackwell signed up to be a field worker.  Her assignment was to persuade her neighbors to register and vote.  

The very same year, Blackwell became a prominent participant in Freedom Summer, the massive effort by civil rights activists to register black voters across the state.  She also was selected a Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) delegate and traveled with other delegates to the Democratic National Convention in New Jersey to plead its case to be seated to represent Mississippi.  Although the Convention failed to accommodate the MFDP, Blackwell continued her civil rights work.  By 1967 she was a Community Development Specialist in Mississippi for the National Council of Negro Women. 

In 1976 Blackwell’s decade long activism in voter registration and other civil rights issues paid off when she ran for and won the position of Mayor of Mayersville, a Mississippi River town of 1,635 residents. Upon taking office Unita Blackwell became the first black woman to serve as mayor in the entire state. 

As mayor, Blackwell led the effort to pave streets and install street lights and sewers in the black section of Mayersville.  She also spoke out on poor housing conditions which disproportionately affected her constituents.  In 1979 Blackwell was chosen to participate in the national Energy Summit organized by President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland.  In 1989 Blackwell was elected Chair of the National Conference of Black Mayors.

Despite beginning her adult life with an eighth grade education, Blackwell in 1983 received a master’s degree in Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She was also a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship in 1992.  Blackwell’s autobiography, Barefootin, was released in 2006.

Well Lord, if I’m going to die, I’m going to die trying. I’m going to die for freedom.
— Unita Blackwell

The Honorable Unita Blackwell's life is a testament to strength and the spirit of overcoming. She was born to sharecroppers in Coahoma County, Mississippi, a place where hard work was common place. Ms. Blackwell fought a virtual caste system to equalize voting and other civil rights. SRBWI honors her legacy in the young women's leadership institute in her name.

Source: www.blackpast.org and www.srbwi.org

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Does Unita's story inspire you? Share it with others on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest using the hashtag #BlackHerStoryMonth and let us know what you think. We'll be featuring notable women in black history in our blog all February.

- SJ

Introducing Black HerStory Month

Throughout February, in observance of Black History Month, Southern Journeys will be saluting black women worth celebrating all year round. These women's acts of courage and ingenuity, perhaps little known to the public at large, had profound impacts on their communities, which reverberated throughout the nation and inspired those after them.

As our home page reads, "From ancestral symbols to story quilts to feed sack fashion, our journey as Southern Rural Black Women is interwoven into everything we create." Heritage is central to Southern Journeys' mission and collections and something we wish to pass down from generation to generation. As President Gerald Ford said when Carter G. Woodson's Negro History Week became the Black History Month know today, it is important for all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

To keep this observance "the site of resistance, reflection, and struggle that its founder Carter G. Woodson hoped Negro History Week was," Southern Journeys invites you to join "Black HerStory Month," a lively, thoughtful series on the role of black women in history. Although we honor pioneers such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks, we will be spotlighting equally praiseworthy women whose names are less recognizable. Together, these women represent the collective leadership that redirected the course of history over time, confronting powers that be and cultivating opportunity and hope.

To be the first to see and share our posts, join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Lucky readers will also have a chance to win prizes in a special Southern Journeys giveaway. We look forward to a wonderful dialogue both online and offline. Black History Month grew out of grassroots efforts and together we can harness the power of social media and keep this part of American history alive.  

- SJ