Derby Season is right around the corner. As much as we love getting dressed up and wearing our big hats for the main events, we also love learning about the history of the Kentucky Derby. One little-known fact that should be more well known is that the Derby season was once dominated by African American […]
One thing Black Southern Belles know how to do is create. From compelling stories, to captivating images, to dynamic recipes, Black women from the South are renowned for their flair and style. From Southern natives to a few who’ve chosen to call this region home, here’s a list of 50 Black Southern Belles making the region smarter, more beautiful, more creative, and more delicious. These are African American Tastemakers of the South that will add the inspiration you need in your life!
50 Black Southern Belles in the Lifestyle Industry: African American Tastemakers of the South
Owner, Southern Soufflé
Erika Council is the software engineer, professional cook and food writer behind the blog, Southern Soufflé. The North Carolina native, who currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, hosts biscuit pop-ups and Sunday Suppers, two traveling odes to Southern cuisine. Inspired by family tradition, Council uses food and fellowship as a form of activism. In North Carolina, her maternal grandmother, Geraldine Dortch, used the proceeds of her 1960s Sunday suppers to fund the civil rights movement. Her paternal grandmother, Mildred Cotton Council, baked biscuits for local children who couldn’t afford breakfast. Erica Council fuses those two experiences with her own Sunday Suppers, donating the proceeds of her dinners to help kids learn computer science.
Mildred Cotton Council
Owner, Mama Dip’s restaurant
In 1976, Mildred Cotton Council opened Mama Dip’s restaurant in North Carolina. One of seven children, Council named the restaurant after a nickname her siblings gave to her as a child– she was so tall she could “dip” into the bottom of the rain barrell. Before she opened Mama Dip’s, Council cooked for years at North Carolina coffee shops and dining halls. In 1957, she cooked alongside her mother-in-law at a take out kitchen, where she built her reputation for her famous biscuits. She released her cookbook, Mama Dip’s Kitchen, in 1999.
Food Alchemist, owner of Sage’s Larder
Herbalist Jovan Sage is the co-owner of The Farmer and The Larder. Based in historic Brunswick, Georgia, The Farmer and The Larder serves both international and traditional coastal- inspired dishes with local ingredients. The restaurant also offers intensive, hands-on cooking classes. In her hometown of Kansas City, Sage worked with her uncle at the City Market, where she developed her palate for herbs and spices. She studied herbalism at the Florida School of Holistic Health and The Herbal Academy. Sage also owns Sage’s Larder, an online store for herbal teas and bitters.
Dr. Portia Fulford
Owner, Organpi Farms Farmhouse
Dr. Portia Fulford is the owner of Organpi Farms Farmhouse, an organic farm-to-table eatery and grocery store in Selma, Alabama. Much of the food at Organpi Farms Farmhouse is locally sourced from the Black Belt soil. A Selma native, Fulford owns two farms in nearby Lowndes County, one of the largest farm operations in the area owned by a black woman. She spent a lot of time on farms while studying for her Ph.D in Africana Women’s Studies at Clark Atlanta University, where her thesis focused on African American women and uses of folk healing medicine. Fulford also plans to launch Ritual Farmhouse, an online store for home accents, handmade goods, and rustic decor.
Food Historian, The Crooked Spoon
North Carolina native Clarissa Clifton is a food historian, living history demonstrator, and author of the cookbook One Hearth, One Pot: For Love of Food and History. Growing up, she helped her grandmother cook on an open hearth stove, which peaked her interest in Southern food history. In North Carolina, visitors can find her doing living history demonstrations at Latta Plantation in Charlotte, North Carolina or demonstrating campfire cooking at the Revolutionary War battlefield with the Royal North Carolina Re- enactors. True to her motto “have pots, will travel,” Clifton is currently doing open hearth cooking demonstrations at Smith Plantation in Roswell, Georgia.
Shirley Mae Beard
Owner, Shirley Mae’s Cafe and Bar
Shirley Mae Beard opened her namesake cafe on New Year’s Eve in 1988. Tucked in the heart of Smoketown, the historic restaurant is located in the oldest African American community in Louisville, Kentucky. Beard also has a passion for history. While she and her family had extensive knowledge of the legacy of the black jockeys who pioneered the Kentucky Derby, she was shocked to find out a lot of Smoketown residents hadn’t heard of the equestrians. In 1999, Beard founded the Salute to Black Jockeys event, with the mission to educate African-Americans in the community about the contributions of black jockeys in the Kentucky Derby.
Sallie Ann Robinson
The Gullah Diva, Chef and Cookbook Author
Born on South Carolina’s Daufuskie Island, Sallie Ann Robinson is a chef and cultural historian. Renowned for her knowledge of Gullah culture, Robinson is the author of two cookbooks, Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way and Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night. A sixth generation descendant of Gullah heritage, Robinson teamed up with Tour Daufuskie in 2016 to debut the Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour, the first time a native professional guide offered a weekly tour of Daufuskie Island.
Cook, Kardea’s Cuisine
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Kardea Brown is a contemporary Gullah cook. Her family is from Wadmalaw Island off the coast of South Carolina. Brown kicked off her cooking career taping a pilot for The Cooking Channel, and has since appeared on both ABC’s The Chew and a number of shows on Food Network. Her traveling pop-up dinner series, The New Gullah Supper Club, pays homage to Gullah recipes passed down from her mother and grandmother. She also plans to launch a low-country treats and pimento cheese company, based in Atlanta.
Chef, Tiffany Derry Concepts
Tiffany Derry is a native of Beaumont, Texas. Following her graduation from culinary school, Derry rose through the ranks of the Houston and Dallas culinary scenes. She broke into the TV world when she appeared on Season 7 of Bravo’s Top Chef, placing in the final four. In 2011, Derry teamed up with Patrick Halbert of the Halstin Group to open the restaurant Private Social, but left her executive chef position in 2013 to launch Tiffany Derry Concepts, a company devoted to her business and TV ventures. Currently, Derry is a judge on Spike TV’s Hungry Investors.
Chef, Michael’s Restaurant
Birmingham’s Eryka Perry is the executive chef at Michael’s Restaurant in Homewood. Perry is also a certified health coach, and her background in cuisine and nutrition was the inspiration for her catering company, Not Just Catering. Partnering with fitness professionals, Not Just Catering offers personal chef services, health coaching, and meal preparation. But her catering company is just the start of learning to understand how the body processes food. The head of the kitchen at Michael’s says her goal is to get her Ph.D in nutrition.
Owner/ Cake Designer, Coco’s Cakes
Kentucky native Shacole Henderson is lead decorator and owner of Coco’s Cakes, a bakery for custom wedding and specialty cakes. The granddaughter of a retired pastry chef, Henderson preferred fashion design to baking. She started decorating cakes on a whim, after opting to take a higher paying job at Kroger. Two weeks later, she was hooked. After she posted a photo of a luau-themed cake she made for her father’s birthday to Facebook, the requests came pouring in. While she no longer operates her cake shop at a brick-and-mortar location, she still takes plenty of orders on the Coco’s Cakes website.
WINE AND SPIRITS
The Drinking Coach, mixologist and “freelance” bartender
In 2015, Tales of the Cocktail profiled five black female bartenders influencing the Atlanta drinking cocktail scene, and Texas native Tiffanie Barriere was one of the chosen mixologists. Barriere spent seven years as the beverage director at One Flew South before stepping away to take her craft around the city. Known around circles as “The Drinking Coach,” Barriere now calls herself a “freelance” bartender, opting to create cocktail menus for pop-up dinners and host mixology lessons. To cap out the end of 2017, Barriere will team up with executive chefs Jennifer Hill Booker and Deborah VanTrece to produce Cast Iron Chronicles, a series of dinner and conversations highlighting the work of African American women in the culinary industry.
Bar Manager, Ration and Dram
Kysha Cyrus has risen through the ranks of Atlanta’s cocktail scene for over a decade, working as both a bartender and cocktail server. In 2003, she landed a job at Emeril’s in Atlanta, where she spent a lot of her time learning about mixology and spirits, and developing her signature cocktails. In 2009, BlackBook ranked her one of Atlanta’s top 10 bartenders. A comic book fan, Cyrus spent time mixing up game-themed cocktails at Joystick Gamebar before before heading to Ration and Dram to focus on more classic cocktail styles.
Head bar, Bar Margot
Before leading the bar at Atlanta’s Bar Margot, Tokiwa Sears was the assistant lead bartender at Holeman and Finch Public House, where Simply Buckhead ranked her as a “Bartender to Watch.” She also mixed cocktails at One Flew South. Known around circles as “Miss Libation,” Sears recently told the Hot of the Press podcast that she is studying to become a certified spirits specialist.
Cocktail artist, bartender, Escorpion
Sadiyyah Iddeen spends the first part of her days behind the bar at Atlanta’s Escorpion. When she’s not crafting drinks at the upscale midtown eatery, she’s working on another project, and her face may look familiar. Iddeen is one of the eight award-winning bartenders behind Cocktail Artist premium bar ingredients and mixes. The product she developed: the simple syrup with agave.
Lead bartender, 5Church Atlanta
A native of Liberia, Keyatta Mincey is the lead mixologist at 5Church in Atlanta. Before heading up the bar at 5Church, Mincey was a bartender at Serpas True Food, and in 2015, Thrillist named her one of the top 12 female bartenders in Atlanta to watch. The self described “gin and bourbon girl” is also a film producer, and she writes about drinking culture and film production on her blog, Pictures and Cocktails.
Owner, vintner Darjean Jones Wines
Darjean Jones is the owner and vintner of Darjean Jones Wines. The native of Opelousas, Louisiana is a plant scientist, with a B.S. in Plant Science from Southern University in Baton Rouge and a Ph.D in Plant Pathology from UC Davis. Her research on plant diseases that affected wine grapes opened the gates for her to explore wine-making. In an interview with Cuisine Noir Magazine, Jones says seeing the success of her fellow Creole vintner Iris Rideau inspired her to start her own boutique winery.
Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves
Bloggers and owners, Cocktail Bandits
Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves are owners of the lifestyle brand and blog Cocktail Bandits. In addition to crafting their own original cocktail recipes, the Cocktail Bandits have booked speaking engagements on drinking culture and hosted events around the South, including both the Charleston and Atlanta Food and Wine festivals. This year, the International African American Museum named the duo to its list of 5 African American women making an impact in Charleston.
Wine Maker, Rideau Vineyard
Iris Rideau is the owner of Rideau Vineyard and the first African American woman to own a premium winery. In 1997, the New Orleans native bought thirteen acres of land in the Santa Ynez Valley, two hours north of Los Angeles, California. She also planted a Syrah vineyard. In an interview with Wine Enthusiast, Rideau says she attracted newcomers to her vineyards by preparing small portions of Creole dishes based on her grandmother’s recipes, such as okra gumbo, to pair with her wines. Rideau Vineyard is still one of the few vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley that specializes in pairing wine with Creole food.
Hotels/ Travel/ Hospitality
VP/Tourism, Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors bureau
Sara Hamlin is the Vice President of Tourism for the Birmingham Convention and Visitors bureau, where she supervises the operations of three Birmingham visitors centers. Hamlin has worked in the tourism industry for many years, and previously served on the board of the American Bus Association. Responsible for coordinating, budgeting and booking motorcoach transportation in the Birmingham area, she is the Magic City’s go-to guide for booking transportation for large events such as family reunions.
Connie W. Kinnard
VP/ Multicultural Tourism and Development, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau
A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Connie W. Kinnard is the Vice President of Tourism for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Before heading to Miami, Kinnard worked for over a decade at the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she was involved in developing plans for the Nashville Museum of African American music, slated to open in 2019.
Stephanie Mays Boyd
Director of Sales and Marketing from one of the best digital marketing companies, Pennsylvania Convention Center
Stephanie Mays Boyd is the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Macon, Georgia native got her start in hospitality in 1989 at the Macon-Bibb Convention and Visitors Bureau. She also serves on the board of directors of the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
Co-owner, Morehead Manor
Monica Edwards is the co-owner and innkeeper of Morehead Manor in Durham, North Carolina. Located within walking distance from downtown Durham, Morehead Manor is a colonial-style home also available for weddings and events. A native of North Carolina from Southern Pines, Edwards is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the manor, including baking desserts. She is also the co-president of the North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns Association, dedicated to regulating the standards of quality and comfort in the state’s inns.
Co-owner, Magnolia House Inn
Joyce Blair is the co-owner and innkeeper of Magnolia House Inn in Hampton, Virginia. Located near the waterfront, the Queen Anne Victorian home is minutes away from the downtown area. Joyce and her husband and inn co-owner Lankford Blair are both ordained ministers, and have officiated small wedding ceremonies in the inn’s wedding chapel. In 2013, Virginia is for Lovers ranked Magnolia House on its list of 10 Virginia B&B’s with Notable Breakfast.
Rachelle Jamerson Holmes
Co-owner, Thee Matriarch Bed and Breakfast
A South Carolina native, Rachelle Jamerson Holmes is the co-owner and inkeeper of Thee Matriarch Bed and Breakfast in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Jamerson, who previously owned a design studio and produced fashion shows, is the interior designer of the 100-year-old Victorian home. She and her husband Fred named both the inn and the rooms in the inn to pay homage to the mothers and influential women in their lives. In April, the couple competed in Buzzfeed’s Tasty Date Night Challenge at the Charleston Food and Wine Festival.
FASHION/ DESIGN/ART/ PUBLISHING
Creative Director, Wildlife Reserve
Tabitha Bethune is the creative director of the Wildlife Reserve, a branding and product development agency based in New Orleans. The company started in 2008 when her husband began selling neckties at the Freret Market, an open air and flea market in New Orleans. Bethune is also an actress and playwright. She and her husband have launched 16 brands under Wildlife Reserve including La Playbill, a brand specializing in couture evening gowns. The studio also houses Savoir Faire, a fashion incubator that helps emerging designers launch their collections.
Furniture designer, owner Atlantic Fine Woods
Born in the Central African Republic, Laura Sissoko is a furniture designer and owner of Atlantic Fine Woods, based in Decatur, Georgia. The supplier offers a selection of domestic woods and imported lumber from the Congo Basin. The studio also offers custom milling and woodworking. Sissoko, who has also lived in Paris and New York, says her wanderlust influences her creativity. Raised by a jeweler and microbiologist, Sissoko says her natural talents are a combination of architecture and design. She’s a graduate of Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Architecture.
Javacia Harris Bowser
Features writer/ Founder, See Jane Write
Born and raised in Birmingham, Javacia Harris Bowser is writer and columnist, who pens features for Birmingham Magazine, USA Today, and B-metro magazine. Harris is a regular contributor to the digital lifestyle magazine StyleBlueprint Birmingham where she writes the profiles for FACES, a series showcasing contributions of women around the city. In 2011, Harris launched the award-winning See Jane Write, a network for women writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. In 2016, Southern Living magazine included her on its list of Innovators Changing the South.
Curator of Contemporary Art, Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas
A native of La Follette, Tennessee, Lauren Haynes is the curator of contemporary art at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. She joined the museum in 2016 after a decade at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she organized and curated exhibitions including ”Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet and Contemporary Art.” She also managed the Studio Museum’s artist in residence program. Lauded as a scholar in contemporary art by Art Forum, her work has been recognized in a number of publications, including The New Yorker.
Co-owner, Pearl Design Interiors
Alecia Johnson is the owner of Pearl Design Interiors, a luxury boutique interior design firm in Houston, Texas. In addition to home design, Pearl Interiors’ design projects have been featured in celebrity photoshoots for a number of publications, including JEZEBEL magazine. Johnson is an award-winning designer, recognized as one of the Top 20 African American Interior Designers. A Houston fixture, Pearl Interiors has received a Best of Houzz award every year since 2013.
Penny Francis and Casi St. Julian
Interior Designers, Eclectic Home
Penny Francis and Casi St. Julian are the mother-daughter team behind Eclectic Home showroom and design center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Owner and principal designer Francis has nearly 20 years of experience, and many clients reached out to her after their homes were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. Senior designer Casi St. Julian is also an artist who creates the renderings of the rooms she and her mother design. Inspired by design legend Elsie de Wolfe, she creates mixed media or acrylic pieces. In 2016, the Black Interior Designers network recognized Francis and St. Julian as Top 20 African-American Interior Designers.
Interior Designer, Level 5 Designs
North Carolina native Niki Mcneil didn’t follow a traditional artistic path to becoming an interior design professional. Mcneil actually started out as a pre-med student, and in 2007, she started her blog SingleBubblePop to chronicle her transition. Since graduating from design school, Mcneil has worked as a design assistant at HGTV, as well as a designer at Phillips Architecture. A self-described “southern girl to the core” Mcneil’s design inspirations are a combination of vintage and brass.
Delita Martin’s art explores the power of narrative storytelling. Drawing inspiration from oral traditions and vintage family photographs, the Texas native creates prints, collages and other visual elements to pay homage to women of color. Martin’s series “I Come From Women Who Could Fly” was a tribute to her grandmother who taught her the stitching she uses in her work. In 2014, the Arkansas Times included Martin on its list of “Five Arkansas artists you should know.” Martin’s pieces have been displayed at the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, as well as profiled on Crystal Bridge Museum’s State of the Art. Her work is currently on display at the Boswell Mourot Fine Art studio in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Sheila Pree Bright
Born in Waycross, Georgia, Sheila Pree Bright is an award-winning photographer and visual producer. Bright’s work widely depicts and examines contemporary culture, and she’s widely known around art circles as a “social cultural anthropologist.” In 2016, she received national attention and acclaim after winning the Santa Fe Prize for her series “Suburbia”. In 2016, Bright debuted her project #1960now, a journey documenting the evolution of activism. This year, work from the series was on display at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and the Gallatin Galleries at NYT. Bright is also a contributor to the everydayblackamerica Instagram account.
Betty Tourney Turner
Owner, This Little Light Creative Glass Art and Gallery
Artist Betty Tourney Turner is the owner of This Little Light Creative Glass Art and Gallery. She has long been fascinated by stained glass art and, as a child, she admits to paying more attention to the stained glass windows in church than the actual service. Turner started learning the craft as an adult, and she opened the gallery in 2015 in Old Hickory, Tennessee. She yearns to see more depictions of African-Americans in stained glass art. Inspired by artist Angela Smith, her goal is to bring more affordable pieces to fans of the art form.
Principal Designer, Quin Gwinn Studio
Quintel Gwinn is an interior designer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to running her own full-service design studio, the Columbus, Georgia native is also an urbanist and community innovator. After graduating from design school, she starting working at an architecture firm where she designed commercial spaces. As a Charlotte fellow with the League of Creative Interventionalists, Gwinn uses architecture and design as a form of civic engagement. An advocate for the arts, the designer also teachers design and urban planning to youth.
Founder, Principal Designer, Erika Ward Interiors
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, interior designer Erika Ward started her career as a corporate accountant, managing construction budgets. She started Erika Ward Interiors in 2006 to flex her creative muscle. Three years later, she decided to leave her job to focus full-time on her design firm. A number of publications have featured projects from Erika Ward Interiors, including JEZEBEL magazine and Better Homes and Gardens. In 2016, the Atlanta Tribune featured Erika Ward Interiors in their “Best In Atlanta Guide.” Ward also manages Blue Label Bungaloo, a newsletter and daily guide to design and style.
Khristian A. Howell
Chief Creative Officer, Khristian A. Howell Color + Pattern
Khristian Howell is a designer and color pattern expert based in Atlanta, Georgia. After working for five years as a textile designer and colorist at Nordstrom, Howell decided to fly solo and start her own design company, Khristian A. Howell Color + Pattern. The independent creator designs textiles and patterns for clients including Better Homes and Gardens, REI, and Shutterfly. She also licenses her work to Target and West Elm. In addition to designing her own brand of stationery, phone cases, and home decor, Howell also penned Color and Pattern, a guide to exploring textile design.
Brand Strategy Consultant, Amber Crudup & Co
Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, Amber Crudup is the brains behind Amber Crudup & Co, a consulting agency for creative direction, brand imaging, and photography. The agency is a neat fusion of her two previous positions. Crudup was previously the graphic designer and owner of Suite Paper design studio, where she designed custom wedding stationary. She was also a wedding coordinator at Highgrove.
Graphic Designer, Brand Engagement Manager, The Gathering Spot
Jade Carter is freelance graphic designer and art director. The Atlanta- based creative just started a new position as Brand Engagement Manager at The Gathering Spot– a private, members-only club for the city’s community of innovative talent. Carter is no stranger to managing high-profile events. She just finished her final year as the creative director of the A3C Festival and Conference, one of the most prominent hip-hop festivals in the country. Known around circles as Spanky the Kidd, Carter also made her art show debut this year at Facet Gallery’s PROPAGANDA! design exhibit.
Designer/ Creative Director, Citizen LMS
Atlanta-based designer Marisa Scott is the brains behind the lifestyle brand, Citizen LMS. The native of Macon, Georgia launched the brand in 2013 to bridge all of her creative outlets including fine arts and animation projects, fashion design, illustration and graphics, and interior design consulting. Scott has worked with design studios such as Bradley and the interior design site, Decorist. She was also product development manager for PurseN and has collaborated with Atlanta Fashion Week. This year, Scott showcased her artwork at EMERGE: ATL, a fashion, music, and art event devoted to showcasing Atlanta’s up and coming creative talent.
Deidra K. Diaz
Associate Publisher, Birmingham Magazine
Deidra Diaz is the associate publisher of Birmingham Magazine, Birmingham’s lifestyle publication devoted to food, arts, and culture. She joined the magazine in 2012 after directing fundraising and events at the University of Alabama. During her tenure at Alabama Media Group, Diaz has been involved in the planning and development of Women Who Shape the State and Birmingham’s Young Professionals Summit.
Life and Culture Photographer, Al.com
Tamika Moore is a photojournalist at Al.com. The Alabama native has spent over a decade capturing the images of civil rights leaders, Miss Alabama, the Magic City Classic, and historical sites and architecture from around the state. This year, Moore launched People of Alabama with the Alabama Bicentennial , a photo series that showcases the faces and stories of people who call Alabama home.
Owner, Saltshaker Marketing
Culinary scholar Shaun Chavis is the chief strategist behind Atlanta-based Saltshaker Marketing, a boutique agency that creates culinary content and marketing strategies for food, wellness, and tourism companies. Chavis designed and instructs The Cookbook Course, a guide to teach people how to write cookbooks, and she also offers culinary hopefuls coaching to help develop proposals and manuscripts. The longtime journalist and student of Southern food was an editor for Time, Inc. She edited Cooking Light’s Mad Delicious, which won a James Beard award in 2015. Chavis was also a researcher and contributor to the 2010 New York Times best-seller, The Carb Lover’s Diet.
Interior designer, Cecil’s Designers Unlimited
Florida native Cecil Hayes is the owner and founder of Cecil’s Designers Unlimited. One of the world’s most iconic interior designers, Hayes was one of the first African-American interior designers to manufacture her own furniture and upholstery. She was also first African American designer featured in Architectural Digest magazine. In 2004, Architectural Digest featured her on its list of 100 Top Interior Designers. Her projects include the design of Chicago’s South Loop Hotel Lobby. Hayes has worked with a long list of celebrity clients including Samuel L. Jackson, who called the veteran designer to help decorate his Tudor-style home . Cecil Hayes is also the author of two interior design books: 9 Steps to Beautiful Living and The Art of Decorative Details.
Michelle Colligan Johnson
Photographer, Colligan’s Fine Art
Michelle Colligan Johnson is a Louisiana-based fine art photographer, best known for capturing the aesthetics of Creole culture. A member of the Professional Photographers of America, her work has received recognition from the Professional Photographers of Louisiana. New-Orleans based brand agency The Wildlife Reserve featured photos from Johnson’s “Women in the Woods” series in their 2016 campaign, “But Not Broken”.
Writer, PR Specialist, Cookbook author
Chanda Temple is a public relations pro based in Birmingham, Alabama. The former Birmingham News reporter transitioned out of full-time journalism in 2012. Since then, Temple has been the director of public relations for the Birmingham Public Library. She’s also handled public relations and social media for Birmingham schools and currently works as a communications consultant for BBVA Compass Bank. Still a storyteller at heart, Temple writes the “You Had Me At Hello” marriage profiles for the Birmingham Times. In 2014, she teamed up with Food Network Star Martie Duncan to write the cookbook Birmingham’s Best Bites. A couple of years later, the pair reunited to publish a second cookbook, Magic City Cravings.
Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin
Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin are the duo behind the beauty technology company, Myavana. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the company analyzes hair textures to research and recommend hair products. Mitchell and Martin met at Georgia Tech while completing their engineering degrees. Chanel Martin is also a brand strategist where she teaches entrepreneurs how to launch small businesses. In 2016, Forbes featured Candace Mitchell in its annual 30 under 30 list. Myavana has been featured in a number of publications including EBONY, Essence, and Black Enterprise. Martin and Mitchell have also appeared on The Real and at Essence Fest.
Owner, Iwi Fresh Spa
Known as the “Skincare Chef”, Yolanda Owens is the owner of Iwi Fresh Spa in Atlanta, Georgia. As college student, Owens didn’t like the idea of using beauty projects filled with chemicals. Inspired by her grandmother, who made herbal remedies to treat stomachaches and other ailments, she began making her own natural beauty creams. Owens decided to resume her skin care hobby in 2001 after she lost her job in I.T., and her first new creation was a Carrot Glow face cream. Now, in 2017, one Whole Foods location in Atlanta carries Iwi Fresh organic skincare products. The spa has also partnered with Atlanta Hot Shave and is in the process of expanding to a new facility in the city.
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