Greentop Gifts Shares Diversity in the Black Community with African-American Characters


Jacquelyn Rodgers is the Founder of Greentop Gifts. Greentop Gifts started as an idea for her son and turned into a company bringing diverse products that reflect families for their own celebrations and holiday moments. Greentop Gifts has been featured in NBC News, Essence, People, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Jacquelyn is a recipient of the 2020 Visa • IFW Black Women Owned Business Grant, 2020 Wild Card Winner in the Stella Labs Women’s Fast Pitch Southeast Regional Competition and a participant in the 2020 Ad Astra Get to Even Founder Bootcamp. She has over 14 years of Consumer Packaged Goods experience at Nestle & Mars Wrigley. From this experience she has keen knowledge on how to take an idea from concept to actual product which has proved invaluable in the early stages of Greentop Gifts.


Patrice: What stuck for me while reading about your business is the name ‘Green Top Gifts’ which is unique. Could you tell us a little bit more about your motivation for creating Green Top Gifts?

Jacquelyn: Yes, I love telling the story of Greentop Gifts. It is an ode to my family. My grandfather had a restaurant bar in the 40’s/50’s which was called Greentop. It was a place of celebration for people in the black community because it was a place where people can go and enjoy the fellowship. This is how my grandfather got his start in entrepreneurship. My dad shined shoes there as a child. When we were deciding on names, we discussed it and that’s how I came up with the name.

Patrice: This is an amazing back story on how you came up with your business name! I like the fact that your grandfather owned a restaurant back in the day and that your dad shined shoes there as a child! Great memories to have! For those who don’t know, that Greentop gifts is an African-American décor and gift service and you mentioned that it features an African American character called Clarence Clause. Could you elaborate a little bit more on the character?

Jacquelyn: We launched the company with the idea of looking for black characters for the season that has a black Santa clause on it. I came to realize that it didn’t exist so I joked with my husband that I wanted to make wrapping paper and he just laughed. That made me start looking at manufacturers and illustrators and we created Clarence Clause that we wanted to appeal to children and adults.

Patrice: Now who would have thought of that idea? That is truly unique on how you moved on that idea of creating wrapping paper for black children! So, are the wrapping paper and other items that you guys sell specially sold online or are they in stores as well?

Jacquelyn: We currently sell online and partnered with some independent retailers in Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Raleigh. We are also looking to expand with some other retailers at the top of 2022!

Patrice: Sounds like a plan! Congrats on that! Like I stated before, your business is very unique and I love the whole representation and the whole meaning behind it. As far as diversity goes, how important is that to you and how do you empower not only kids, but adults on the importance of it?

Jacquelyn: Diversity is extremely important to me and to my husband especially since we are raising small children. We are factious about the images that we show them so that they see representation in television shows, the books they read, and even the celebration we do in our home. We try to make sure they understand and share with them the celebrations that are important to our family as well as people of other races and other nationalities.

Patrice: Well said! Diversity is extremely important in America! Besides Christmas wrapping paper, do you all have other wrapping paper for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or graduations?

Jacquelyn: Yes, absolutely!

Patrice: Great to hear! Your business is located in Atlanta and it has been reported that Greentop Gifts had the record-breaking in sales this past year. Congrats on that big accomplishment!

Jacquelyn: Thank you! We were excited to work with big supporters of our brand. 2020 was a challenging year for us and a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs. We really tried to fight through that by creating product and content that our consumers were excited about; we just thrived through the pandemic! We are grateful for the support from our customers.

Patrice: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can the readers expect next from Greentop Gifts?

Jacquelyn: We are launching our Happy Birthday collection, we are expanding that with other products, such as gift bags. We are also getting ready for the holidays! Also, we are trying to get our products with some retailers to expand the marketplace.

Listen to more of this interview by visiting http://www.anchor.fm/theriverzreport


Connect with Greentop Gifts:

Website: www.greentopgifts.com

Instagram (business page) @greentopgifts

Meet Yvette Lloyd of Life Her Podcast! Get Uplifted and Motivated Through Candid Conversations

Yvette Lloyd is a Philanthropist and Media Personality who partners with CEOs, executives, and solopreneurs to grow their personal and professional brands. Yvette has spent nearly a decade being a CEO for Fadia Young Women’s Program and owner of multiple learning centers. She has been honored with her own day, named the “Yvette Lloyd Day,” December 20th from the City of Akron, Commendation Summit County Council, and Congressional Recognition. Yvette’s organization Fadia Young Women’s Program received many features such as LSherie Alert, Rolling Out Magazine, SHEEN Magazine, Bombshell BLU Magazine, BET Experience, 19 Action News, Madamennorie, Devil Strip, Ohio.com, WKYC Channel 3 News, and more. Yvette creates such a positive and comfortable space for all the women and men she interviews. Trust and vulnerability are rare feelings that are difficult to experience with someone we have never met before. ButYvette has landed media coverage in print and broadcast outlets around the world, including the Super Bowl LIV 2020 private party with Dwayne and Theresa Bowe, BGR Fest, Zaytoven Beats private party at the Trap House Museum, I Am Queen Magazine Feature, Akron Beacon Journal National Black Guide and Boss Chicks.


Patrice: What does it mean to be a pretty woman who hustles?

Yvette: A woman that walks with confidence, make sacrifices and hustle.

Patrice: Podcasts are the new virtual and audio talk show of the century and they have so many wonderful shows from great podcasters like yourself! What made you want to start a podcast?

Yvette: My mother encouraged me to start a podcast. She was supposed to start it with me. But, she passed away before we were able to launch it together. So, now I have a passionate purpose to continue to uplift, inspire, and help women’s voices be heard on my podcast.

Patrice: Why do you feel that empowering and uplifting women is much needed in the world we live in today?

Yvette: Women are the root to making things happen. We endure so much in this world we live in and still manage to get up and go daily no matter what the circumstances may be going on in our personal lives. That’s why I created my platform to give all women the opportunity to be themselves, feel comfortable, and be vulnerable for once on a media outlet.

Patrice: The fact that your mother wanted to start the ‘Life Her Podcast’ with you and later she passed. You still had the strength to continue the legacy and start the podcast still. I applaud you for that! Since then, has things been difficult knowing your mom wasn’t physically there with you for the podcast?

Yvette: A lot of times it has been extremely difficult for me to keep pressing forward. However, with me coming from my mother’s womb I still feel her spirit and the connection I have always had with her. My husband also helped me and guided me a lot when she passed away too. Then, later I loss him as well. But, my purpose still serves a purpose to be that women that other women are everyday not even realizing it.

Patrice: Your podcast has received over 6,000 downloads! Congrats on your amazing journey! What do you want others to learn when they listen to each one of your episodes?

Yvette: Thank you so much! Yes, it has. I want each woman to develop strength, knowledge, wisdom, and courage from each woman I interviewed. We all carry something similar to each woman. We just have to listen to each other’s hearts more and love ourselves more to hear what God is trying to show you. Each journey in our lives serves a purpose and you listening to each woman on Life Her Podcast at that very moment is a reason for that because you could’ve occupied your time doing something else.

Patrice: Tell us more about being a CEO for Fadia Young’s Women Program. What was that experience like?

Yvette: It was a beautiful experience mentoring young girls in the community. It actually helped me to become the woman I am today as well. Sometimes we don’t recognize mental health issues in ourselves not until you see a reflection of yourself. I saw that in every girl and being an advocate and mentor for them is one of the best moments of my life.

Patrice: You also had celebrity features on your podcast such as Trina, Pretty Vee, Kissie Lee and more! What was it like having those heavy hitters on your podcast?

Yvette: I honestly don’t see a difference in them than we see in any other women. I loved every moment with them because it was an opportunity for me to let people see them for them on the inside instead of a celebrity. Sometimes people aren’t considerate of other people’s feelings and believe everything in the media. I want Life Her Podcast to give women that are celebrities a chance to be who they really are within instead of someone making them feel uncomfortable speaking about nonsense.

Patrice: Are you currently working on any new projects at the present moment?

Yvette: Yes! I’m actually working on a new show connected with Life Her Podcast that will feature my close friends. Also, I will be launching my new Networking Channel Called “Black Orange Network” that I started with my best friend Tommy Cherry.

Patrice: What can we expect more of on your podcast?

Yvette: More authenticity and more real life stories from women. Also, I will be interviewing some men as well real soon.


Connect with Yvette:

Facebook: Life Her Podcast

Instagram: @ lifeherpodcast

Twitter: lifeherpodcast

Website: http://www.lifeherpodcast.com

Dive Into New Beauty Brands with Alidib Beauty on the Rise! Women Making Boss Moves in Beauty


Patrice: What motivated/inspired you to start a business?

Alicia: What motivated me to start Alidib Beauty was me actually starting my own natural hair journey. Back in 2009 I decided to big chop my heavily heat and relaxer damaged hair. After experiencing CCC a form of alopecia. I decided to become not only an example to myself. But my 3 beautiful black daughters who were following my destructive hair and skincare regimen. On how to embrace and care for what naturally came from my creator. Which was my naturally kinky curly 4b/4c hair. And oily acne prone skin.

Patrice: What makes you a pretty woman that hustles?

Alicia: I am a pretty woman that hustles because I believe in embracing my independent, go getter energy. I feel like I have a story to tell to my assigned audience. That not only will encourage, but motivate and inspire other beautiful women and men to attract their life of abundance. Through entrepreneurship and setting intentions to build self-sufficient generational wealth.

Patrice: What is the name of your business(es) and what are they all about?

Alicia: The name of my business is Alidib Beauty. I decided to give my brand this name because it’s a combination of my actual legal name. And what better way to introduce my consumer to my brand than sharing with them who I AM as a CEO.

Alidib Beauty is an all -natural herbal infused hair and skincare brand. That promotes and encourages the use of natural and organic ingredients. That help to nourish and replenish our bodies. Through our largest organ which is our skin. I believe healthy hair and skin start with what we 1st think about our bodies. Followed by what we put into or onto our skin. That’s why my brand motto is “Be You. Be Beauty+Full”!

Patrice: Have you faced any challenges in your business?

Alicia: The challenges I’ve faced so far as a business owner has been making the public aware of Alidib Beauty. Again, the mission is to promote healthy hair and skincare from the inside out. And as a small business or new business owner who has been used to being a stay at home mom of 9 since I was 14 years old, I’ve found it to be a challenge with marketing and getting my products into the hands and homes of the people who can truly benefit from them. Let’s just be honest, modern tech skills such as Tik Tok and Instagram isn’t my lane of expertise!

Another challenge of being a new business owner has been accepting the fact that I can’t be like Noah and build this Ark alone. Meaning, growing a sustainable brand isn’t a one -woman show. So I had to learn how to seek and ask for help. And that was my sign of growth as CEO. Admitting I needed help even when I was used to being independent and always in control.

Patrice: What projects are you currently working on?

Alicia: The projects I’m currently working on with Alidib Beauty is staying ready for overflow! That means preparing for continued sale out and restocking once my brand grows. So, I’m learning to clarify my brand image and gearing up for summer and fall with future pop- up shops and small beauty business expo events rather than be in person or online. Also, working on two new products that will join the roster and help my customers feel amazing and beautiful! Stay tuned for the big drop June 1st!

Patrice: How do you face diversity as a woman entrepreneur?

Alicia: I face diversity as a woman entrepreneur first and foremost by being a minority. We all know that women in general aren’t taken as seriously or paid as equally as our male counterparts. So, I make it a mission to have Alidib Beauty be as credible and high quality as possible so my brand and I are seen and taken seriously.

Secondly, I am a mom of nine which means I am always on the move. I’ve seen so many opportunities for collaboration and partnerships for myself and my brand not come together simply because someone had reservations about if I would have time or stamina to meet goals,

Patrice: Is balancing your personal life, work life and business life difficult for you at times?

Alicia: Balancing my personal, work, and business life has always been a priority for me. One thing that I decided even as a kid that “I can have it all” If I learned how to organize and plan my time accordingly. I am very good at time management and have a scheduled alarm for everything! That’s how I keep my sanity. I stay organized and as close to time as possible. I was taught very early on by my bonus dad that if I stay ready, I’ll never have to get ready. So it’s definitely a skill that I utilize daily.

Patrice: How would you say your business differs from others in the same industry you work in?

Alicia: How Alidib Beauty differs from other beauty or self- care brands you ask?

Well, as Founder and CEO of Alidib Beauty again I wanted to be sure I wasn’t just selling a product but an actual lifestyle. Most hair and skincare brands push products claiming to be natural. Yet the consumer can’t even pronounce the ingredients and the ingredients purpose. Every ingredient in my products are all natural and of highest quality. You can pronounce the ingredients as well as understand it’s intended benefit.

Our products are handmade in my kitchen with spoken intentions over every batch and that this product will improve the quality of life for its customers.  I am a huge believer in law of attraction and manifesting and every herb and oil sacrificed has been given new life and purpose to heal. Not to mention, my products are made to order, not pre- batched or machine manufactured. That means my customers get the freshest product possible when it reaches their doorstep.

Patrice: What does being an entrepreneur or business owner mean to you?

Alicia: Being an entrepreneur means freedom to me. Whether it’s freedom of time or financial independence, I get to have a bit more control over my destiny. That means I get to gain, grow, and, share more leadership skills in my family and community. I have an opportunity to inspire and motivate those coming behind me; That if you must work to earn and it can be achieved at your own standard. There’s more than one way to obtain my idea of success; punching in a 9-5 and missing opportunities to be a full -time mom was not my idea of success.


Connect with Alicia:

 Website: http://www.alidibbeauty.com

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/alidibbeauty

http://www.instagram.com/alldayalidib

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alidibbeauty

TikTok: http://www.tiktok.com/adbbeauty

Ladies, Get Sexy with Amour Cache; Bringing you Sexiness with Fashion and Lingerie

Deean Yeoh is co-founder and CEO of Amour Caché, a new intimate apparel company that seeks to create space for everyone from bralette lovers to breast cancer survivors and beyond. Deean found her passion for customer-centric products while working at a digital marketing agency. Since then she’s found ways to incorporate market research data into Amour Caché’s designs. When she’s not working on new bra designs or scouting for unique fabrics, you’ll find her curled up with a book, writing, or taking 35mm photos. She’s lucky enough to work with her best friend, but in her downtime recoups via solo sports (ballet, boxing, and sailing).

Agnes Zhan is co-founder and CFO of Amour Caché. She previously headed project management at a VR company before founding Amour Caché with her best friend. She is passionate about how technology can streamline and advance “traditional” processes and hopes to incorporate this into Amour Caché’s product development flows in the future. Agnes’s dream is that one day, public perception of intimate apparel will shift to encompass beauty and function — not just one or the other.


Patrice: What motivated/inspired you to start a business?

Amour: We initially planned to create a size-inclusive lingerie company, 30–40 bra bands and XS-2XL bottoms sizes. During the course of our company’s evolution, one of our co-founders discovered she had breast lumps. Soon after, we heard from two other girlfriends who had either just discovered their breast lumps or just gotten biopsied. All these women were below 25. It was kind of existential and made us question “well, what if we did get breast cancer? How would we feel? What would we want? What would help us feel like “ourselves” in a time of distress and uncertainty?” We started speaking to survivors to hear their stories. When we did more research into the intimate apparel space, we discovered that beautiful, luxurious post-mastectomy bras were in short supply. As we continue to develop the brand, we’re realizing the same can be said for many marginalized groups that haven’t been catered to by the traditional lingerie industry. From there, we’re catering to and expanding on inclusivity, which is how Amour Caché was born and continues to grow!

Patrice: What makes you a pretty woman that hustles?

Amour: We both come from entrepreneurial families. As a kid, when you bear witness to the rise, falls, and risks that come with owning your own business you want to run in the opposite direction, but as cliché as it sounds, we are driven by our passion. We both share a deep love for business and fashion. When we saw a gap in the market that we believed we had a solution for, we went for it. Lucky for us, we have very supportive families that pushed us to chase our budding business and friends who tried our products and were convinced we had a future in the industry.

Patrice: What is the name of your business(es) and what are they all about?

Amour: Amour Caché is a new breed of inclusive lingerie where everyone from bralette-lovers to breast cancer survivors and beyond feel seen and catered to unlike ever before. We also have an e-magazine that accompanies our brand called L’AMOURZINE. The e-magazine is our way of featuring individual stories and inspiring conversations around topics like mental health, body diversity, and gender identity — an extension of our brand’s goal of inclusivity. Having a space for discourse and dialogue on a wide range of topics allows us to make space for all the identities we want our brand to reach in the near future.

Patrice: Have you faced any challenges in your business?

Amour: It’s very difficult garnering organic interest in a brand as a small business; we have limited resources to spend on marketing and a limited network to draw from. However, it has made us really creative and scrappy when it comes to making genuine connections with people who believe in our mission and our products. It’s really inspiring to work with like-minded folks who care about the same things we do and share in our love for the power of lingerie.

Patrice: What projects are you currently working on?

Amour: We are currently working on launching our Spring/Summer styles and starting to develop new styles for 2022!

Patrice: How do you face diversity as a woman entrepreneur?

Amour: The lingerie industry is quite heavily women-dominated – at least from our experience. Most designers we’ve met are women and are, therefore, able to address the fit/aesthetic/comfort concerns of women. We find that increasingly, more and more lingerie startups are women-run, which is incredible to see.

Patrice: Is balancing your personal life, work life and business life difficult for you at times?

(Deean) I love painting and photography, it really helps me decompress. I’m lucky to love my job; oftentimes even when I’m “unplugged” I’ll find myself doodling bra designs or hunting for fabrics.

(Agnes) I try to balance myself by going for workouts. It’s hard to think about anything else except the actual weight that is on your body.

Patrice: How does your business differ from other businesses in the same industry?

Amour: Our company is the first lingerie company (that we know of) to cater to women of all walks of life. Alongside our extended size range, we also cater to all types of bodies and needs. Whether it’s breast cancer, maternity bras, or everyday bras – Amour Caché’s goal is to become a new breed of inclusive lingerie that caters to all your needs throughout all your walks of life.

Patrice: What does being an entrepreneur or business owner mean to you?

(Deean) As someone who loves design and tailoring, I started studying which bra cuts fit well, which fabrics were comfortable or scratchy. Being able to fill a gap in the market is really fulfilling. It’s really rewarding to read reviews where people say how much they love the bra / how they’ve been looking for a bra like this and finally found it because of Amour Caché.

(Agnes) Also a desire for control and independence. As an entrepreneur, we wanted to control the decisions made in a company, the income you have, your future. To me, owning your own business is the only way to do that independently.


Connect with Amour:

Website: http://www.amour-cache.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/amour___cache/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1lGcQfHva9t_boYqCDXatQ/

Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/amourcach0480/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmourCache.IntimateApparel/

The Renaissance Woman and Media Mogul Donia Duchess Shares Insights and Experiences of Being in Media


Donia Duchess is an award-winning, two-time Emmy nominated producer, host, model, actress and motivational speaker. Having carved her own path to success, Donia is known in entertainment circles for her determination, outgoing flair, and fearless demeanor. Hailed as “one to watch,” Donia is using her distinct gift of gab to make a name for herself as a rising television personality! Upon graduation, Donia landed her first job in television production with The Maury Povich Show, where she thrived as a production assistant, helping to book and coordinate some of the show’s most watched episodes. But by 2015, Maury’s executive producer approached Donia about appearing on the show to host a national segment, and Donia’s on-air career officially commenced. Bold, beautiful and brilliant, Donia Duchess is a renaissance woman. With multiple television and modeling credits under her belt, Donia is quickly becoming entertainment’s go-to celebrity reporter, on-air segment host, and lifestyle expert. Fierce perseverance, sincere passion and an undeniable propensity have helped Donia climb the ranks as one of television’s most sought after talents, and she’s just getting started.


Patrice: Thank you so much for taking the time out to interview with Pretty Women Hustle Magazine.

Donia: Thank you for having me!

Patrice:  I was blown away just by reading your bio. It is very impressive of all the work you have done so far in your career! How did you get started in the media industry?

Donia: I always like to tell people that I started out behind the scenes. I wanted to learn everything behind the scenes to make good television, to make good entertainment, figure out how to connect with people in order to be good in front of the camera. My first job was on the Maury show and I started there as a production assistant. It was a really interesting time for me because I got to work with all these incredible people and producers and learn so much. Honestly after one season, I immediately felt like that wasn’t the kind of television I wanted to produce. I knew that type of television wasn’t really what I wanted.

Patrice: Anyone that wants to be in the media industry whether a producer, behind the camera, media correspondent or in front of the camera, a lot of people do start behind the scenes. People who work in media don’t just jump in front of the scenes, but gradually start slow. What experiences have you learned from being behind the scenes and then working your way up in front of the camera?

Donia: Ultimately, I’ve learned to have a bigger appreciation and the work that goes into making television. So for the people that sit at home and don’t know much about TV, they can watch a show and see a host on camera and you know those type of people that comment negative things on social media and say “Oh that job must be easy” They can sort of attack a celebrity or host because they feel that the job looks easy. So, that’s the point. As a talent you are supposed to make the job look easy. That’s how you know that you are doing a good job. But It’s really hard and it is a lot that goes into it and I’m grateful on how my climb has been slow and steady.

Patrice: I agree with that. Media can be quite competitive at times and may not look as easy as it may seem. Gaining all the experiences and challenges you overcame so far, what current projects are you working on?

Donia: Honestly, current project is being a mom (laughs). To be completely honest, I am just trying to get back to myself. I see that a lot of times celebrities will have kids and snap back in six weeks. And then they are showing off their abs and that is the unrealistic for the average mom who is at home with her kid. I went through a lot with my pregnancy. At point they thought my son was going to have down syndrome; it was a 92 percent chance. I had diabetes when I was pregnant, I had high blood pressure, and not to mention I was pregnant during the pandemic. A lot of doctor’s appointments I had to go alone because my husband wasn’t allowed to come in with me. So right now my current projects are being a mom, focusing on my mom and getting back to my hosting career.

Patrice: You are definitely a renaissance woman! During your career, what has been some of your favorite celebrity interviews so far?

Donia: OMG! There are so many! Boris Kodjoe was the first one. So we are doing the interview and I’m with my co-worker and he’s answering all these amazing questions. He’s a very good-looking guy; people with eyeballs can see that. Then in the middle of the interview, I said “Me and my co-worker are listening to you, but all we can say is uh-huh uh-huh” We were zoned out by how beautiful he was! (laughs) The interview was live so people picked up on that clip and thought that it was the funniest thing.  In the end I am always going to be myself and everyone ended up loving it.

Listen to more of this exclusive interview by visiting The Riverz Report Podcast at www.anchor.fm/theriverzreport

Meet the CEO of MKCircle CEO Institute, Dr. Karen Semien-McBride

@thatriverzgurlbrandllc

Dr. McBride’s executive coaching programs have produced a generation of exceptional leaders who have transformed industries using sustainability and innovation while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. “The focus is on building emotionally intelligent leaders and helping them understand and conceptualize the concepts of emotional intelligence with applying self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-motivation,” Dr. McBride says.

Her upcoming book explores the psychological theories and their applications of the operational style assessment, making it the new ‘Leadership Language’ of the 22 Century. “It gives you a deeper insight on how to utilize the theories to benefit how you engage others, communicate, make decisions, and how to fully show up in your professional and personal life.”

Dr. Karen McBride provides Entrepreneurs, Influencers & Thought Leaders with the insight and expertise necessary in the areas of entrepreneurship, corporate structure & business acumen, as well as, counseling/mentoring professionals dedicated to providing them moral support and actionable value in both their business and personal lives; empowering, strengthening, encouraging, and challenging them in identifying their unique purpose, equipping and enabling them by teaching them transformative lifestyle changes to live positive, dynamic, impactful, influential lives by supporting & propelling them to show up to lead & win.



Patrice: What motivated/inspired you to start a business?

Dr. Karen: I was raised in the inner city of Compton, California. I was destined to reach higher heights in the entrepreneurial and leadership space. I was leading and starting businesses in elementary school. As a teenager headed to college, I sold my flower business to a florist and received $11,000 to pay towards my education. I was always an entrepreneur. I always believed in leadership, bringing me to realize my goal was always to lead people. Not just lead people, but in a way that would produce results, that would create opportunities, and that would shift the norm of what people would consider leadership to be.

Additionally, I believed in education and how it would support my business acumen. I did not plan to have 5 degrees. However, I worked hard to establish an impressive college background, obtaining my bachelor’s in business administration, a master’s in management and organizational leadership, and two doctoral degrees in business administration/ organizational psychology, psychology/management & consulting, and human letters honored for research.

Patrice: What makes you a pretty woman that hustles?

Dr. Karen: Ha-ha, I love that! I see, ‘pretty’ as an internal state of your being. Meaning, the work I do, is because of my inner awareness of who I am, and how I can use my expertise to help others. I train small business leaders and executives to become emotionally intelligent leaders. I teach the highest level of leadership theory to reach the most significant level of growth. So, with that, I would deem it equates to a “pretty awesome hustle.”

Patrice: What is the name of your business(es) and what are they all about?

Dr. Karen: MKCircle Enterprises: CEO Institute Executive and Business Coaching.

MKCircle Enterprises, LLC offers individuals, small business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate, non-profit, and civic leaders a one-on-one curriculum that support professional growth, life planning, and goal setting.  It also explores personal and professional pressures that may hinder progress and growth—introducing several tools that support daily decision-making and leadership, all of which can be shared with other leaders, colleagues, and subordinates.

The CEO Institute offers executive coaching, leadership development team building, and engagement programs that provide one-on-one, cohort and team curriculum that supports professional advancement, personal growth, success strategies, and tools to create the best YOU! It is like no other program in the market. The focus is on three main theories: Operational Style Language, Emotional Intelligence, and Mindset. We explore personal and professional pressures that may hinder progress and growth introducing several tools that can be shared, as well.

We offer:

1:1 Executive Coaching Programs (Executive Leaders, Small Business Owners, Civic Leadership, Entrepreneurs)

Cohort Leadership Program

Team Building and Engagement Programs

And, much more.

Patrice: Have you faced any challenges in your business?

Dr. Karen: Starting as a small business and now scaling into a more mid-level business, presents some challenges. Our main challenges have been funding for expansion and hiring new coaches with the proper education credentials. But if I am speaking about my small business clients, they experience the same challenges around funding. However, they also need support in marketing, customer engagement, understanding their business, and making it profitable and sustainable within their community. The pandemic has been a struggle for some of my small business clients, but it’s also been profitable for some. I always encourage my clients to use my EOES Business Growth Model to plan for the unexpected. The EOES Business Growth Model represents, Emulate, Originate, Establish and Sustain. We support them in creating a plan using the model to follow, which ultimately promotes sustainability during challenging times.

Patrice: What projects are you currently working on?

Dr. Karen: I have several projects that are happening simultaneously. I will share three that I am extremely excited about.

First, I am teaching a Business Health 101 course to legacy business owners in the Los Angeles area. This project is so near and dear to my heart because I grew up in the inner city of Los Angeles. I am a proud product of the inner city. This is an opportunity for me to bring my expertise back to the inner city to support economic growth.

Secondly, I was offered the opportunity to publish a section in Business Matters magazine, for 12 issues, called “Executive Coaching Corner with Dr. Karen.” This is so amazing because I can reach an audience not just in the US, but in the UK and Australia. I get to coach individuals monthly with tips and resources that support professional growth and business sustainability.

Lastly, with my longtime colleague, we created the Operational Style Assessment. It embarks on a new leadership language that will help leaders communicate effectively and learn about their true selves. When I speak of leaders, I speak of everyone who leads their professional sector, in their personal lives, and social circles. The language is universal.

The assessment is available on my website at: https://www.mkcircle.com/assessment/ It is life changing.

Patrice: How do you face diversity as a woman entrepreneur?

Dr. Karen: I wrote a quote that says, “High heels are not about being comfortable; they are for leveling the playing field.” I wrote that in closing on a talk I was giving to a group of young female professionals who needed to hear that we are enough. We are tall enough, we are smart enough, we are strong enough, to stand equal to our male counterparts in any sector. Although we have come far, there is still inequity in pay, position, and perception. That quote represents my stance, my obligation as a leader to stand when injustice, a lack of inclusion, and a lack of diversity are present. I believe it is my job to pave the way for women who walk behind me and alongside me and support them in their growth.

Patrice: Is balancing your personal life, work life and business life difficult for you at times?

Dr. Karen: Work-Life balance is a priority for me. I teach work-life balance within the CEO Institute programs because as leaders and hard workers, we get caught up in what I call the loyalty spiral. We misconstrue loyalty by not leaving work on time. We discount our needs and place them behind our work. What we fail to realize is that it is a dysfunction and more of a hindrance to our growth. If we continue to work in that capacity, the inevitable is resentment, unhappiness, not being fulfilled at work or home. I do my best to balance my work and personal life. I leave my office when it is time to go home. I don’t take client meetings during my off days or off times. I’m a better leader, a better teacher, a better coach if I have that balance, and I want to be a role model for my clients. I want to practice what I teach.

Patrice: How would you say your business differs from others in the same industry you work in?

Dr. Karen: There are countless times that I hear from a corporate client or an individual client that there is no other coaching firm doing the work that you do, how do you do it? Our results speak for themselves. Our research showed me that 1:1 dyad executive coaching breeds the highest results. It was essential for us to make our coaching programs about our client’s needs, not about time or money.

Not only are we business strategists and an executive coaching firm, but we are also a research firm. We believe the data that we produce. The data offered that we needed to teach theory in a practical way and create training with tools that would be used and not forgotten. All our programs are 4 to 12 months long. We do not have one-week executive coaching programs or 1-hour group trainings. We have a results-based curriculum, and to teach that curriculum takes time on task, repetition, and engagement. We base all our training on sustainable research and the results that our clients receive. That is what makes us different.

Patrice: What does be an entrepreneur or business owner mean to you?

Dr. Karen: To me, it means that I have the opportunity to welcome diversity of thought, engage in like-minded leader projects, teach my curriculum, make a difference in individual’s lives, and support business growth. I also have the opportunity to create, collectively build, individually and intentionally shift sectors of business that I would not have typically engaged in my previous role as a COO of a large corporation. The most important part of being an entrepreneur and a business owner is doing the work I love every day.


Connect with Dr. Karen:

Website: www.mkcircle.com

IG: @drkaren.execoach

Twitter: @drkaren.execoach

FB: @CEO-Institute-Executuve-Business-Coaching

YouTube: Dr. Karen Semien-McBride

FEEN, The New Streetwear of Fashion You Must Have! CEO of FEEN Official Talks about Journey

By Patrice Rivers @thatriverzgurlbrandllc


Patrice: What motivated/inspired you to start a business?

Kate: What motivated me to start my business is the fact that I’ve always wanted something of my own. I wanted to create a platform to not only inspire but also motivate and push true hustlers to exceed their limitations. Starting a business wasn’t about me, but more so about others. Everyone needs inspiration at some point in their life, my business FEEN helps inspire you when you need it most.

When I was younger my father got into a drinking and driving accident, leading him to a coma. Thankfully, he woke up on his birthday. Fortunately for me while my family was going through this tough time I turned to fashion as my outlet. But I was FEEN for more than just fashion. I was a FEEN for my purpose. And I was determined to be more than a fiend for alcohol as my father was. So I changed the narrative. I FEEN for my dreams!! And I created brand that will inspire you too as well.

Patrice: What makes you a pretty woman that hustles?

Kate: Without a doubt I’m a pretty woman that hustles. Humbly speaking, I am good looking on the outside, but I’m more beautiful on the inside which makes me pretty. I embody my brand’s motto, Hustle, Grind, Rewind. Every day I wake up I make it a priority to work towards my business, personal brand, and overall goals. I create opportunities for myself and the people around me. Not only do I create opportunities but I also open doors for myself. I am a true believer that you get what you work for. So I’m striving to work towards everything I want and desire 24/7.

Patrice: What is the name of your business(es) and what are they all about?

 Kate: The name of my business is FEEN. FEEN is a premium streetwear brand that caters to women and men. While providing quality streetwear FEEN also provides hope. FEEN pushes their consumer to live by their motto, Hustle, Grind, Rewind and FEEN for their dreams! The fact of the matter is that we all crave and have a desire for something(s). FEEN helps you express your hustle for whatever that may be.

Patrice: Have you faced any challenges in your business?

Kate: Of course I have faced challenges in my business. But, every challenge I have ever faced I’ve overcome through preservation. Any challenge I encounter I take it as a lesson, I learn and grow from it. In the end every challenge it’s all a part of my journey and my story. I am trusting the process through every trial and tribulation.

Patrice: What projects are you’re currently working on?

Kate: Currently I am working on an upcoming collection, a podcast in the making, as well as a huge event I am producing together this summer that will focus on giving creatives like myself a platform that started from the ground up.

Patrice: How do you face diversity as a woman entrepreneur?

Kate: As a powerful female entrepreneur I face diversity by embracing it. I feel powerful when I’m the only woman in the room, because I know I make a difference.  Diversity takes you out of your comfort zone, and that’s when you grow the most when you’re uncomfortable.

Patrice: Is balancing your personal life, work life and business life difficult for you at times?

Kate: Honestly, I would say that I balance my personal and business life pretty well. Sometimes it’s a thin line in between the two and as an entrepreneur you may give more to one than the other but life is about finding the balance that’s comfortable to YOU.

Patrice: What does being an entrepreneur or business owner mean to you?

Kate: Being an entrepreneur to me means that I control my own time, financial freedom, and direction of my energy to whatever I please. Having that type of control on your life is a power like no other. Don’t get me wrong, everything in life has its ups and downs, and entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


Connect with Kate:

Personal Instagram : @katehayez

Business Instagram : @feenofficial

Business Twitter : @feenofficial

YouTube : Feen Official

Website : http://www.feenofficial.com

5 Tips on Making Yourself Visible in Media

By That Riverz Gurl Brand @thatriverzgurlbrandllc

Photo Credit by Nick Morrison via Unsplash

So you want to be in media huh? The media industry is making waves for journalists, writers, podcasters, hosts, producers and more! There are some that say it is very competitive, but someone I recently interviewed stated that “You are only in competition with yourself.” That is the honest truth and even though some people in media think they are competing with the next big thing in the same industry, it can put fear in our hearts making us shun away from great opportunities! If you have the right determination and hunger for it, the rest will be history! Create your own lane and own opportunities when people aren’t trying to put you on or give you opportunities! You got to put yourself on! One thing about that is showing up and making yourself known and visible. Here are some tips on how you can stand out and get noticed in media by publicists.

Stand for who you are. Whether you are a freelance writer, journalist or radio personality, you have to stand for what you are made of. If being a journalist is something you love doing, then stick to that while exploring opportunities not only for yourself but for media outlets you are contributing for. Don’t allow others to tell you no different!

Photo Credit by Christina via Unsplash
  1. Make yourself visible on social media. What’s the point of having a brand if you aren’t willing to show up for it on social media? Instagram has came a long ways and with the easy-to-use tools such as reels, insta stories, IGTV, short videos and more to make yourself visibible but creative as well. Use those tools to your advantage to engage more with your audience. If you are a radio personality or podcaster, showing some bts footage or a short video of yourself talking about your latest interview or topic will gain some views and insights on what you do.
  2. Reach out to PR firms and publicists. Since being a freelance writer for over ten years, I’m always reaching out to publications and media outlets to contribute on their platform. It helped me to share my experience with writing and now interviewing people. Publicists are always looking for the next best thing when it comes to getting exposure for their clients. If you are in the media, you are a valuable accesory to them. Create a pitch and tell them who you are and what your brand is. Collaborations are valuable and important in media.
  3. Chase opportunities. Media is filled with lots of opportunities such as attending press conferences virtually (since COVID-19), interviewing people and more! When people see your presence more, they start to pay attention.
  4. Keep reminding people who you are. Sometimes people forget who they email or talk to and all those emails, pitches and introductions, so be consistent and keep reminding people. Re-introduce yourself to your supporters, your network, your followers, your potential clients and future collaborations.
  5. Let your voice be heard. It doesn’t matter how many people who are doing the same as you, just continue doing what you are doing as a radio personality, as a podcaster, as a television host, as a journalist because someone out there is waiting for that opportunity to work with you. Get creative in your craft and allow your voice and your passion be heard.

So, with all of that said there are many different ways to be visible in the world of media. Sometimes you got to block out the negativity and the naysayers because they are the ones that want to see you fail and not succeed! And like this woman once told me “You are your own competition.”

Photo Credit by Danny Howe via Unsplash

OWN’ Ready To Love’ Reality Star Ashlee Akins Debuts New Book “Authentically Ashlee”

Ashlee Akins is more than just a face on the OWN network. She’s an educated, entrepreneur making her way while using her platform. After being on Will Packer’s Ready To Love, she decided to take advantage of her loyal fan base she had on the show and create a brand bigger than herself, empowering women, managing artists and plenty.



Patrice: What motivated/inspired you to start a business?

Ashlee: I motivated myself!! Ok let me keep it real I have a huge support system .my brothers are a blessing to me and my mother is the fire behind everything I do.   I always knew that I wanted a business. I just wanted to make sure that it made me feel good about myself when I went to sleep at night! You know, it embodies who I am. 

Patrice: What makes you a pretty woman that hustles?

Ashlee: What makes me a pretty woman the hustle is my go getter mentality there is nothing that I won’t try and I can’t do.  During my college years my stepdad and mom had opened a family restaurant named Ashlee Diner. I loved being a young restaurant co-owner but I then understood all the hard work running a business took. I guess you could say I was a young hustler. I was able to go to school and understand what it takes to run a full restaurant business. I’ve always been a hustler I’m always trying to figure out ways to make money. It’s no question that I’m beautiful. Lol, I looked in the mirror. I received, I believed that I am that!!! I am definitely pretty woman that hustler I’m going to hustle to the day I check up out of here. More or less my mom and dad prepared me for my life now!!

Patrice: What is the name of your business(es) and what are they all about?

Ashlee: The name of my business is AA Dimensions; it’s an entertainment and empowerment company. We offer photography, music, dance and fitness, books, community events and more to come. I knew that I wanted to continue my life in the entertainment field. After being on the hit show ‘Ready to Love’, I wanted to make sure whatever business that I involved myself with I empowered people. I love making a difference. So my mother didn’t hesitate when I brought her my ideas. Then boom we birthed AA dimensions and have been going strong since 2019!

Patrice: Have you faced any challenges in your business?

Ashlee: Yes, I have definitely faced challenges in my business. It’s tough trying to juggle everything plus your life and make a profit with your business. You go broke before you get rich! Lol; everything that glitter is not gold! But what I have learned is that hard work pays off and consistency is key. Keep going!

Patrice: What projects are you currently working on?

Ashlee: Yes, I am currently working on some projects!  I have a brand new book out titled “Authentically Ashlee” and it’s available on all platforms. You can get it directly from http://www.chocolatereadings.com/authenticallyashlee

Also I am planning my first community fest on June 5th in my hometown in Jackson, Tennessee where we are going to highlight gun violence awareness, mental health awareness and I am definitely working on bridging the gap and getting my community back to a safer state and creating an opportunity for networking and bringing all of the entrepreneurs the small business and large businesses out in my community!!!

Patrice: How do you face diversity as a woman entrepreneur?

Ashlee: It’s simple! I don’t face diversity when someone is doing something that is not God- like. I simply take a deep breath and figure out a way to go around that speedbump. At the end of the day that’s all it is; a speedbump!  I don’t let diversity bother me; I move around diversity.

Patrice: Is balancing your personal life, work life and business life difficult for you at times?

Ashlee: Honestly, yes sometimes it can be difficult to balance everything. But I got to keep it real yall. To be honest balancing your career personal life and work life can be done with a little scheduling LOL. But you make time for what you want. Understand that you need to set short-term goals because you don’t want to cram your brain or your week. Always save some time for yourself each day!


Connect with Ashlee:

Ig: @_iamashlee007

Fb: Ashlee Akins

Twitter: Ashlee Akins


ANN AND ASHLEY BRINGING THE GAME-CHANGING SKINCARE PRODUCTS IN BEAUTY

The highly anticipated skincare line Ann & Ashley has released game-changing products for all skin types to ensure that every individual receives the glow they all desire and deserve. With each product supercharged with antioxidants, essential oils, botanicals, and more, it becomes the perfect regimen to restore radiance and reinvigorate the skin that has been exposed to temperature and harsh environmental aggressors. Designed with the skin in mind, Ann & Ashley products respect and restore the natural pH balance of the skin, firm the skin, and improve elasticity.


Patrice: What makes you a pretty woman that hustles?

Ann and Ashley: A pretty woman that hustles is an enterprise woman whose savvy, & determined to go after her goals. I have always been ambitious, driven, and aspired to bigger things and I believe you need a combination of all those things to truly be a pretty woman “hustler”.

Patrice: The name of your business is catchy! What is the story behind it?

Ann and Ashley: Our story began when I decided to develop a solution to help alleviate my mother’s skin condition. I realized that a homeopathic solution would help reverse the symptoms affecting the texture and color of her skin. ​Recognizing a valuable opportunity to provide for this niche market, Ann & Ashley was born. The inspiration behind Ann & Ashley (hence our brand’s name) named for my Mother and myself.

Patrice: What makes your skincare products different from others?

Ann and Ashley: Sourced from the cleanest, purest ingredients using nearly up to 60% to 80% natural and organic botanicals and oils to effectively moisturize and hydrate the skin as well as protect the health & body using the principles of aromatherapy. At Ann & Ashley, its more than a moisturizer, it is a lifestyle!

Patrice: In your beauty products, what are some of the main ingredients?

Ann and Ashley: Vitamin C, African Baobab “super fruit” oil, rosemary extract, mango Butter, vitamin E, Neem Seed Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil are some the main ingredients used based on the healing properties.

Patrice: A lot of people have sensitive skin as well. Does your products caters to all skin types?

Ann and Ashely: Yes, Absolutely! Our products are formulated to work for even the most sensitive skin.

Patrice: Skincare regimen is especially important I believe. What products do you recommend people use?

Ann and Ashely: A good moisturizer, first and foremost, helps to reduce the signs of aging, and a good exfoliator to remove buildup of dead skin. Our Skin Elixir is a pore reducing genie that provides superior benefits that enhances the moisture content of the skin.

Patrice: Black-owned businesses are important. Do you feel that black-owned businesses in the beauty industry are treated the same as any other skincare company around the world?

Ann and Ashley: Black brands are some of the most culturally influential in the world. Many companies have recognized the value of Black owned brands and Black consumers in the marketplace and are starting to implement better inclusion practices as well as reflect that diversity of product offerings to their customers.

Patrice: Tell us more about the Coconut and Rose body butter and the Skin Elixir Firming Radiance concentrate.

Ann and Ashley: The Coconut Rose body butter boasts an enchanting flowery scent that invigorates the senses and envelops the skin in velvety butters for maximum hydration. The Skin Elixir Firming Radiance Concentrate is vitamin c packed skin food that reduces appearance of pores, minimizes cystic breakouts and the effects of the elements on the skin. It is superstar ingredient of Baobab Oil is a fountain of youth in a bottle.

Patrice: What are some of the challenges you faced along the way in your business?

Ann and Ashley: Whew! So many things from having a lack of access to capital, knowing what things to look for to help with the best decision making, budgeting, bad deals, incorrect marketing. Those are some of things I have had to overcome.

Patrice: What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

Ann and Ashley: It means being passionate, savvy, fearless, tenacious, determined, cunning, hardworking and being willing to sacrifice and get back up after being knocked down to achieve your goals.

Patrice: For people wanting to start their own business, what advice would you give them?

Ann and Ashley: Give yourself time, do the market research, find your niche that makes your brand unique, automate things, and outsource jobs that you are not an expert in. It will ultimately save you time and money!

Connect with Ann and Ashley

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/ann.ashleyskin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnAshleyskin/

Website: http://www.ann-ashley.com

Email: info@ann-ashley.com