Letter from the Publisher Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity can not survive. – Dalai Lama The word compassio

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Publisher Syrah Scott and #BeYou Campaign Model Ariah, Photographed by Khamaali Vernon

Letter from the Publisher

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity can not survive. – Dalai Lama

The word compassion has been coming up a lot lately for me. From situations in passing, to my own personal relationships. It has been in my circumference so much, that I decided to dedicate this quarter’s issue to this very important expression. I’ve been looking at everything happening in the world, and began to wonder how we even got to this point. Why do people feel threatened by a simple hello or good evening? Why do I clutch my bag when people pass me by? Why are our children disrespectful and emotionally detached from people? Why is there fighting and war taking place around the world? Basically, one idea summed it up. People simply don’t understand. We are not using compassion toward our fellow man. No one takes the time to stand back and look at a situation from all ends. We are all so busy and caught up in our own world, that we have no time for anything else. But, if we stopped our daily routine for say, five minutes, and looked at the bigger picture, maybe we would understand the situation a lot better. Maybe we wouldn’t be so quick to judge one another, and maybe, just maybe, we could salvage a relationship, make a friend and end the conflicts across the globe.

I read somewhere that wars help to bring in lots of money. Can’t we bring in money another way? And, why does it always have to be about money? What about the human lives lost and their loved ones? In a recent article about a gas main explosion that happened in New York City, the writer focused more on a woman that lost her things rather than the person that lost their life. Where has all of the compassion gone? Has money and material things become more important than human life? Have we gotten that greedy and self-consumed that we lost a sense of touch and empathy for one another?

Recently, I have been implementing the practice of compassion into my life, and it feels good. I have also introduced this idea to my daughter and it's helping her understand why things happen the way they do. Now, I’m able to forgive people a lot easier. In my personal life, the man that I was dating lied, cheated and took me for granted. But, instead of getting upset with him, I forgave him. I tried to understand his-story (get it?!) and why he mistreated me; and it helped me put things into perspective. How could I expect someone that is hurting their self, to treat me with respect? A person, that has been through several wars and psychological numbness, many women, a broken relationship with his father-- who is now deceased, and someone who doesn’t love himself? See, what I’ve learned is that in order to spread love to other people, you must first love yourself; unconditionally. And, because he hasn’t really practiced self-love, he can’t even fathom loving someone else-- completely. This is a person that tries to find happiness in other people, rather than first finding it in himself. It took me some time to realize this, but once I did, I was able to see everything more clearly. From time to time I offer him suggestions on how to improve his life. In fact, he receives our quarterly newsletter. I pray for his healing and hope that in his future life experiences he’s able to treat the people that he encounters with more respect. Because I do that, I’m able to move on with peace in my heart. And, that’s what people in this world need to do. Maybe not exactly like how I’ve done it, but they should stop and look at the overall picture-- the history, the current situation and what could happen in the future, and then make a decision on how to react.

See, compassion is kindness, forgiveness, and empathy. It is the emotion that you feel in response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. It is the eager awareness of the interdependence of all living things. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring. All of which can turn someone's life around. When you have compassion in your heart, you suffer much less in a situation. Forgiveness is instinctive when you practice compassion. It will become a habit and you will be able to understand the suffering in people. Compassion will naturally begin to flow from your heart. Without love and compassion, humanity cannot exist. Remember, everyone is going against their own battle. Find it in your heart to be understanding and be kind.

"BeYou-tify Your Life" is the very FIRST quarterly newsletter that focuses on empowering YOU. Ultimately, it will help you develop a better version of yourself. The newsletter will include the latest information about health & nutrition, healthy eating, fitness, fashion, music, art/culture, education, mental health, politics, entrepreneurship, and other important issues facing our current social environment; as it relates to being the best YOU.

Kick off your shoes and get cozy with us. Together, let's begin to create the best YOU!

Email, forward, Facebook, or tweet this message to 5 people that you think needs compassion in their life.

Thanks for sharing!

Syrah Scott
Publisher & Editor of BeYoutify YOUR Life


Compassion, Image Courtesy of Getty Images

I Will Embrace You. Will You Embrace Me?

By: Marian Mellen

I am at peace, "In times of joy, I smile and laugh out loud. I hold my head up high. Life is so good. "

I am at war, "During tough times, tears fall silently from my eyes onto your shoulder. I take deep breaths and move slowly. I feel alone. I am deeply saddened, and feel so broken.”

My heart becomes heavy, "Mommy, I am with you." My mind stills, "I am with you." My tears form, "I am with you. Your pain has become the compass in which I gauge my heartbeat. I meet you in your sadness; I embrace you in your suffering. My emotions run deep as if they were oozing like honey from my heart, through my fingertips and grasping for yours. Mommy, I want you to know that I am here for you."

Compassion is a silent pulse. It radiates below the surface and makes us more human than we were before. It is a steady force of love and empathy; and is needed in the purest and most vulnerable form. To be intimate and raw with another human being, we have to allow ourselves to feel deeply and with humility. When someone is in pain, when they are suffering or are broken, we have two options; either we embrace the pain with grace and courage, or we flee. It would be lovely to say that embracing the pain is easier, but it's not. When you embrace the pain of their soul, you must pause. In that interlude we are able to connect, and in that connection we can walk with one another through the suffering. It means to come out of the space of ego and to find radical empathy. To meet someone in their sorrow, is altruism in its purest form.

Pain demands to be felt. It is a dark place; it is scary, it is lonely, and it is unknowing. Pain can show up at your doorstep at any given moment without the slightest inclination that it was coming for you. We are not immune to pain, but we can become immune to compassion; because of fear of worry or suffering… it is too real or too painful and it hurts.

We close ourselves off to those layers of life that add depth and meaning to our relationships. We shy away from vulnerability for fear of being hurt or embarrassed. But unbeknownst to us, we are closing ourselves off to deep intimacy and a profound connection to people. Compassion fuels our existence of relating through love and kindness. It is a warm hug to a crying child. It is a smile or a wave or maybe even a simple hello to someone in passing.

There's nothing worse than to be a teenager in high school and have to go through breast cancer with your loving mother; not once, but twice. The times when you don't know how to hold her with compassion, the fear; the suffering she felt. When she wanted to feel her own child's heartbeat pause and meet her in the darkest of moments, the conversations of deep meaning and sacred listening, never really happened. The times when you didn't understand the process; but years later you finally took notice and recognized the power of compassion. My mother has forgiven me for not knowing how to embrace her in these times of need.

We never know exactly what someone may need from us, but we do know that we have the ability to find a simple moment in our busy schedule to pause, breathe and start to move into that space of empathy and radical love. We as lovers, have the choice to listen to our partner through the darkest of nights. We as friends and relatives, have the choice to speak with sensitivity. We as a society, have the choice to embrace strangers with clear eyes and open minds. We as human beings, have the choice to radiate kindness and compassion to and for all. These choices are given to us at birth and the world can never have enough tenderness. Will you choose to make the world more alive, more beautiful and more compassionate? If there is someone hurting, can you meet them in their pain? Can you let yourself move to the space of acceptance and compassion? Will you be afraid and embarrassed or will you be empowered and let yourself embrace someone's sadness and despair? Will you?


Self Love is the First & Best Kind of Love

The NEW Compassion: Love Yourself As You Are

By: Evelor Savior

"Greater self-love automatically equals greater love for others. Get busy loving, nurturing and being compassionate to yourself. When you’re not being resentful for neglecting yourself, it’s much better for all of us. Be authentic to your needs and who you are.”

Sometimes we are so focused on catering to societies' expectations of us that we forget we are the number one person that needs the greatest love and compassion. The moment we start paying attention to the way we’re treating ourselves and how we think about ourselves, that’s when the shift into a greater love-filled life begins. There are 3 most common ways we tend to belittle ourselves:

1) Criticizing our physical body
Let's pretend that your face, stomach, and legs have feelings of their own. How do you think they'd FEEL when you throw judgments at them such as: “You’re distorted, why are you not proportionate?, You’re fat, ugly, and definitely not toned. Why can’t you look like so-and-so’s body shape, etc...?" They would feel pretty sad and unloved, right? Not to mention, not feeling good about yourself, especially for long periods of time, directly affects your health. It is in your best interest to offer kinder words and perception to your body, as it is a magical vehicle that allows your soul to experience physical life on planet Earth.

2) Criticizing our abilities
How many times do you go on Facebook, Instagram, or some other form of social media to see your friends posting photos of their amazing achievements and fun life adventures; later to feel bad about yourself because you feel that your own life doesn’t look as great? You might beat yourself up for not doing enough, for not getting rich fast enough, for not having as much resources as other people do, for (fill in the blank). The question is, what month, day, year, and time will you start being your greatest lover and fan? When will you recognize the sacredness of your personal life journey and how everything is unfolding for you with profound purpose? When will you consciously become the CEO of your happiness and witness with gratitude all the blessings that you have been given and are continuing to receive? That time will surely arrive as soon as you want it to.

3) Refusing to forgive ourselves
It can be so easy to forgive other people; yet when it comes to forgiving ourselves, we tend to say: “How could I? I should have known better; it’s all my fault, I deserve to be punished; I deserve to struggle and suffer before I can know true joy and happiness again...etc.” Stop for a moment. Close your eyes and think of the sun rising in the sky every morning. See it clearly in your mind. Now, does the sun ever decide that if something bad happened yesterday, it would not shine over your house today? And, if Ms. Paula cheated on her husband, will there be no sun rays that shine over her house for five years? Now, think of a new born baby who simply loves everyone regardless of their past history or mistakes. Take a moment to FEEL what it feels like to be loved unconditionally; just as you are. Now, do the same for yourself day in day out.

As you review your habitual behaviors and your way of thinking about yourself, here are some practical steps you can take this week to nourish your life with greater self-love and compassion; therefore uplifting everyone else around you in the process.

1) Write a heartfelt love letter to yourself on a fancy piece of paper and frame it. Hang it in your home where it will be the most visible to you.

2) Have a “Why I Love Myself” get-together with your close friends. Invite everyone to hold a meeting to share "appreciation", "nurturing", and "beauty within", for each person without judgment. Then, do a round-robin where everyone gets to openly share why he or she loves himself or herself. Celebrate each other; enjoy finger foods or share a yummy potluck and drinks afterwards.

3) Appoint yourself as your TPO (Thought Police Officer) and monitor closely how you’re thinking about yourself, your body, and your abilities most of the time. Ask yourself: “Is this thought I’m having right now honoring the compassion, love and respect I deserve? If the answer is no, let the thought go and mentally say this command to your inner-self: “Cancel. Clear. Delete. Now magnify love.”

4) Say “I Love You (Insert your name)” to yourself way more often. Take a self-love break during the day just to hug yourself and kiss your shoulders or your hands. Yes. It might feel silly at first. You learning to admire yourself and vibrating more love into the planet is more important though.

Thank you for your commitment to helping all of us experience paradise on Earth by always being true to ourselves. Reading this article and feeling inspired is one thing; putting into practice the tips that it provides is where the magic happens. May your choices continue to add greater love, joy, and compassion to yourself and the world. We all believe in YOU!


#BeYou Survivor Sticker

Your Choices Determine Your Life's Path

By: Syrah Scott

Are you a survivor of life? Have you been through what some might call the most horrific journey one could ever experience? Well guess what? You're still alive and kicking! Which means that you still have time to make a positive impact on the world. Remember, everyone makes mistakes and will go through trials and tribulation. When you are pushed to the edge of difficulty, you will either fail, be defeated and let your failures define you, or you will learn how to fly. It's your choice.

Our lives are composed of our choices. We have the power to choose whichever path we desire. The decisions that you make are a value judgement and can bring forth benefits or consequences that have generational effects, eventually becoming the thrust or burden in your life. Going forward, take time to weigh out the pros and cons of your decision to determine its impact on your life. Now that you have been given another chance, focus your energy on building the new. You are a survivor of life and ONLY have one life to live. Make the best of it!

The following stories highlight the life journey of 3 people that have made it through the storm. We hope that their testimonies will encourage and give you strength, guidance, and courage on your voyage. Cheers!

Jordan FG

#BeYou Survivor Jordan Stierle, Photographed by Syrah Scott

Cheers, my name is Jordan and I am in LONG TERM RECOVERY.

By: Jordan Stierle

My last drink and drug was taken inside of my 20th institution on September 7, 2009. On that day I saw my truth. I realized that I had no choice when, where or how I drugged. When the obsession to use came, I did what it told me to do. I was past addiction and out of control. And, if I couldn't stay clean in a rehabilitation center, then I was never going to make it outside in “the real world". It was in that hopeless moment that I realized something had to change. I had been kicked out of other institutions for using. I shared needles, lied, cheated and continuously stole things to support my bad habit. I was tired of my life!

What seemed like a wish came through the help from a few people I met days after I honestly asked for help. I don't know why, but prayer seemed like the only way out, and during that moment it made sense. I was tired of coming up with my own answers, I needed a higher intervention; something bigger than me.

On my journey to “getting clean”, I started on a 12 step program that would prove to everybody including me, that LONG TERM RECOVERY was possible. I no longer had to be looked at as a junky as long as I changed my way of life for the better and did things in a certain way. My life started to get better and better, every day when I began to live life constructively. I realized fear controlled my life and found that I was ruled by a negative viewpoint of the world and how I was to be in the world.

As time passed, I stopped counting days and was able to think and act in ways I had never been able to do before. I was stronger than I had ever been, and it felt so good. I found true FREEDOM! It was weird because I began reading and listening to people who had been through what I’d been through and worse, and the more I experienced a good day, the easier living a “clean” lifestyle became. My life was no longer governed by a drink or a drug, but by the promise of a happier and more fulfilling life, if I did things the “right” way. When I first started the process of recovery, I could have never imagined my life the way it is today. Honestly, I thought my life was over. But, I know now that it has just begun.

Since my first day of being sober in 2009, I have accomplished so much. I started my own T-shirt company; I am a part of IAMNOTANONYMOUS; a portrait series done with other people in recovery; and I spoke at colleges and many high schools in Long Island and New Jersey for STEEREDSTRAIGHT and MISSIONBE on the topic of mindfulness and how it has helped me in my recovery to meditate and be mindful of my thoughts and actions. Over the summer of 2014, I played hockey in a 24 hour hockey-athon with a few of the New York Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup Champions. I spent a month in Thailand and have been on many vacations; all of which I would have never done if I was still using drugs. This year I got into modeling and I am taking acting classes to find out what I am really good at. I got the chance to shoot with the #BeYou Campaign, which was amazing and shortly thereafter, I walked in Couture Fashion Week in New York City for my first of 2 runway shows.

Today I have the ability to give hope to people and help them change their way of thinking for the better. I have been given a gift to go off into uncharted territory, and touch places I would have never fathomed. Instead of checking into rehabs and treatment centers, I now check into schools to share my story in hopes to positively influence kids around the world. I have strong relationships and friendships today which is something I could have never imagined. The same people and places that kicked me out or banned me, now welcome me with open arms. I have the ability to love and understand people like never before. I mean I couldn’t have asked for my life to be any other way. I am so thankful for all of the great things that are happening before me and will continue to travel on a meaningful journey to LONG TERM RECOVERY. I owe this to the people that came before me, the teachers, the influencers, the people that care. Because of them I have A LIFE WORTH LIVING. I am forever indebted. Thank you for my life.

Jenna FG

#BeYou Survivor Jenna Montalbano, Photographed by Syrah Scott

Hi, my name is Jenna. I am a model, motivational speaker, and a life SURVIVOR.

By: Jenna Montalbano

I grew up in a very loving household because of the support of my mother. My little brother looked up to me, and my father was bipolar and verbally abusive at times. Despite receiving love and support from my family, I went through troubled times during my teenage years. I had to learn the hard way; which none of you should have to do. Growing up, I was naturally very smart, but always felt like I was missing something. I had friends but I wanted better ones. I had talent but I wanted more. I envied what others had and doubted my own potential. I was so wrapped up into trying to impress boys, that I lost myself. Throughout high school, I got involved in several academic clubs, but none of which were popular. So to be cool, I forced my way into the "popular crowd". At 16 years old, I started dating an older guy. I made bad choices while with him, and was brutally raped by someone I thought loved me. This began a road to many other abusive relationships.

In college, I tried even more to fit in, ending up in the party scene. I was now "legal". My looks got me into the latest clubs for free, and partying became my life, along with drugs and alcohol. My new relationship was so chaotic that it harnessed more destructive behavior and severe mental health problems. I tried building my confidence by becoming a model; only to end up more lost and confused. I became anorexic and used drugs to help me maintain my weaknesses. And by age 19, I was 87 pounds, with kidney failure, a drug and alcohol problem, and no hope. I became depressed and eventually suicidal. Now, instead of trying to fit in, I was trying to survive...

At 21, I woke up and finally realized that I needed to take control of my life. I've been sober for 5 years now; thanks to the help of 12 step programs like AA. I love myself like never before, and know what it means to truly be loved for who I am.

Today, I am a dental assistant, coach for the special Olympics, and a volunteer for a women's organization. I went to college and received two degrees, and my family and I have a beautiful relationship! On the downside, I lost my father two years ago. Now, I am a strong woman and I use these struggles in my life to help others. My greatest joy is helping people empower themselves and find their own success.

I've learned that life will always have its challenges and obstacles, no matter the situation. It can beat you down, but at the same time lift you up, granting you opportunities that make you stronger. Life is about turning your hardships into successes.

Moses FG

#BeYou Survivor Moses Sesay, Photographed by Syrah Scott

Greetings, my name is Moses; proud African, proud son, and proud survivor of life.

By: Moses Sesay

I was born and raised until 8 years old in Sierra Leonne, Africa during a time of what I call, "hatred and sadness"., you know, the "Blood Diamond" wars. Though I loss many of my family members and my immediate kin; because of my grandfather, I managed to escape those cruel times of war.

After being shipped to Coney Island, New York, at eight years old, I was in an unfamiliar place with no friends, and barely any family. I was an outcast in the eyes of my peers and to top it off, I barely spoke any English. Imagine an African kid, that didn't speak a lot of English in the middle of one of Brooklyn's worse ghettos, Coney Island. This was a place in which if you didn't conform, you either got beat up or got killed, just for being you. Throughout elementary, junior high, and high school, I had to fight for my life. I was bullied and teased most of the time, and had to prove that I was worthy to live and "be me" in my own territory. I was kicked out of school many times because of it, and after while, fighting became tiresome. I found other outlets to consume my time; mainly basketball. Basketball became my best friend. It helped me regain my confidence and respect amongst peers in my community. Pretty soon I was the star of my high school basketball team and had all the girls.

All of these struggles helped me to discover my passion and talents, and gave me strength. I learned that confidence and self- reliance was the way, and if I wanted to become something in this world, I had better straighten up my act. My high school principal Ms. Leong and mentor Mr. Murray changed my life. From them, I learned to embrace myself and found that having my individuality truly was and still is a special thing. I learned that my life was determined by the choices I made. And, that I was responsible for the way my life turned out. Today I am a working model and actor who still has many goals and dreams. I learned to always maintain my individuality and never go with any social norm. I encourage YOU to do the same.

Product 11

11 Years in the Business, Image Courtesy of Walker's Apothecary

Walking the Thin Line in Skin Care

By: Syrah Scott

Walker’s Apothecary is a Beauty Haven that specializes in Skincare, Makeup, Eyebrow Design and product knowledge.

What started as an in-house spa and skin care line, has now blossomed into a fully functioning online store, available to masses across the globe. The mastermind behind this influential brand is thirty something, Shalea Walker. A woman that funded her own idea with the money gained from her 401K plan. She had a winning strategy and would do anything legal to make it happen. "I knew I could do anything I wanted. Beauty was just me, and nothing was stopping it", uttered Shalea. In the beginning, she had a goal to create jobs within the community, and later turned that idea into a global business. Shalea's first product was a facial-to-go, and now celebrating her 11th year in business, Walker's Apothecary has more than 30 all natural and paraben free products including cleansing creams, peels, masques, serums, and customized blends; all priced at a competitive price point.


Product Chart, Eight Products to Balance Your Skin, Image Courtesy of Walker's Apothecary


15% off Coupon, Promo Code BEYOU, Courtesy of Walker's Apothecary

It is Ms. Walker's immediate plan to have all products in retail stores across the nation, and in the long-term, she aspires to function under the Estee Lauder brand and remain the Creative Director.

Shalea offers this advice to aspiring business owners, "It's important to take breaks, analyze and look at your surroundings. The best progress is made when you slow down and think about your next step. What does the market need? You must pay attention to the needs of the market; you're not here to serve your own need." Thanks for your words of wisdom Shalea.

Please be sure to visit Walker's Apothecary to check out their natural skin care goodies and use this 15 percent coupon on your next purchase!

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Juliana Mare Health and Fitness Enthusiast, Image Courtesy of Juliana Mare

Nourishing from the Inside Out

By: Juliana Mare

I recently saw a campaign by Dove that highlighted how most women have negative thoughts about themselves on a fairly regular basis. Truth be told, when I stopped to think about this, I realized that I customarily made comments about my appearance, weight and lifestyle internally that if someone said aloud to my face, would shock and disgust me.

“You’re jeans are looking a bit tight today.”

“That crease above your lip when you smile makes you look ugly.”

We can be our own worst enemy, but we also have within us, the strength and light to be radiant, from the inside out. Almost two years ago while at my heaviest weight, I received a rude awakening from a complete stranger that I now consider to be a blessing in disguise. My life did a 180° spin; I joined a gym, dieted, lost weight and am now more fit and happier than ever before.

If someone had told me two years ago, that I would manage my own health and fitness blog, dedicate hours every week to meal prep, calorie counting and exercise, I would laugh, convinced they were talking about the wrong person. But, I firmly and without a doubt believe that once you take the first step onto the “health” bandwagon, it consumes you.

One of the best things to come from this, has been an unrelenting passion for food and nutrition. I’ve always loved to cook but the exploration of new healthy ingredients and recipes has kept me driven and motivated to continue on this healthy path. Recently, I’ve taken this one step further and dedicated a blog, which I hope inspires others to branch out with their culinary creativity.

I hope that while I continue on my food journey, I can help motivate, inspire and encourage others because if my experiences have taught me anything, it’s that any journey you’re on, is better when shared with others.


Blueberries High in Antioxidants , Image Courtesy of Juliana Mare

It’s truly astonishing how much diet can transform your life. With the right foods, nutrition and healthy exercise balance, you can go from dragging yourself out of bed in the morning and craving a caffeine hit to bouncing out of bed at 5:45 A.M. and being excited to head to the gym before work.

I don’t consider myself to be on a diet because I’ve been doing it for so long now, that it’s simply become my lifestyle. With elements of paleo, FODMAP and gluten free, I essentially eat any foods that are natural and fresh. While the “everything in moderation” approach is popular for many dieters, my will power doesn’t agree with this, so I find it easier to just exclude foods with high sugar and fat contents altogether.

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Wasabi Almond Crusted Fish, Image Courtesy of Juliana Mare

I only have one key strict food rule; if it comes processed or in a can, don’t eat it. If your willpower ever begins to waver when it comes to craving a greasy cheeseburger or canned soup, remember this saying – You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap or easy.

I believe in the healing properties of food and know from my own experiences that not only will your body thank you for nourishing it with wholesome, fresh ingredients, your mind will too. I’m not talking about the satisfaction and self-confidence you can achieve from weight loss (although that’s a huge motivating factor for a lot of people, myself included).


Climbing the Wall of Success, Image Courtesy of Juliana Mare

It’s more to do with how clear your mind becomes, how refreshed and energized you feel and how rewarding it is, knowing you’re treating your body well. It’s an exhilarating feeling that can have a ripple effect on your relationships, mood, lifestyle and sleeping patterns. And once you achieve it, you never want to let it go.

The most common question people ask me, is what my favorite food is. The easy answer is peanut butter. But, my favorite meal is my homemade one-pan baked beans and eggs brunch. Cooking is a huge part of my life and something that I love to share. For my daily recipes, health advice and fitness tips, follow @juliimare on Instagram and Peaches and Push-ups


Buy My Mixtape, Photograph Courtesy of Colored Girls Hustle

Compassionately Driven: BeYou's Interview with the Heroines of Colored Girls Hustle

By: Priscilla Smikle

"We're simply redefining the word hustle and inspiring bold self-expression for women and girls."

Compassion is a word that is often tossed around without any real thought as to what it means. In this overly critical world it is so easy to judge people without really knowing what's going on. People usually assume it's a person's disposition rather than the situation, and fail to insert understanding into the equation.

Nowadays, girls, or rather women, have it bad! From the smart remarks received on the street, rude comments made on Instagram, and disrespectful songs heard in the music, most women are largely misunderstood and presented in a toxic manner. It's very evident in this video! Why can't we express ourselves in the way we dress? Why are we judged off of another person's wrongdoing? Many of us are intelligent, confident, and make our money in a legitimate way.

In this month’s issue of BeYoutify YOUR Life, we'd like to shine a light on two women that show compassion in their daily lives, through their music and adornments, and to people in communities and neighborhoods worldwide. I had the pleasure to sit down with Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris, the powerful young ladies behind Colored Girls Hustle LLC, a thriving company that aims to spread the bold, authentic and creative message of self-expression to women and girls. They have been creating a buzz around the country with their line of accessories and now mix tape featuring “The Colored Girls Hustle Anthem”, Hustle Hard-- an inspiring piece that showcases their drive and dedication to a higher purpose for community. Their swift foray on the music scene has made people take notice and want to know more about the colored girls that hustle, oh so hard.

The #BeYou Team first found out about this dynamic duo during a workshop facilitated through the Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturday event. It was a hands on cypher that included an eclectic mix of people. Participants offered their ideas on what it meant to be self-expressive, and later joined in on a musical round table of human beat boxing, singing, dancing, and freestyle interdependence; it was such an exhilarating experience.

To get to know Taja and Jessica is to see a spectrum of strength and feminism that is not always plastered in your face through mainstream media. The more people that are aware of their strides and purposeful mission, the better. Here's what the ladies had to say about compassion and their overall philosophy of life.

BeYou: Who or what inspired you to start Colored Girls Hustle?

Taja: I started Colored Girls Hustle in 2011 out of frustration with my job. I was working full time in a place where I felt that I couldn’t express my full creative self. I find that’s the case with a lot of jobs, we are multifaceted people with lots of different interests and talents so it’s difficult for one job to fit all of that. I was working in a place that demanded a lot of my time at least 45 hours a week! And, so I just needed a space to express myself creatively. I’m a self-taught artist; I did not go to school for art. So, I was just kind of making things in my house. Um, really earrings. I was making some earrings and thought, "I should sell these." Then I started selling them, and the name sort of just came to me. Colored Girls Hustle. So, the name really came from my hustle to make and sell things that allowed me to express myself. Since then it has grown organically. We started with handmade adornments and now we offer a free mix tape experience and other goodies. Recently, we began to hold workshops, performances and now offer an online hustle interview series in which we speak with women and girls of color who are hustling hard for their communities. My goal is for Colored Girls Hustle to be a place, a platform that celebrates what women and girls of color are doing to help make a better world; and redefining hustle as something that is driven by passion and fueled by purpose.


Embrace Yourself, Photographed by Syrah Scott

BeYou: Okay wow, thats great!

Jessica: The mixtape! Can I talk about the mix tape project a little bit?

BeYou: You sure can!

Jessica: So, me and Taja had been living together; we had been good friends for a long time. Taja started Colored Girls Hustle with making the adornments. And, at the time I was working with different artists and women making moves and doing their thing. I was inspired by what she was doing... and at one point we were stuck in the house due to Hurricane Sandy for a few days with nothing to do with our pseudo emergency bags (laughter). We had talked about making an anthem before. We were thinking... I don’t know if we were listening to a Rick Ross song or what, but we were like, "we should make a hustle song for Colored Girls Hustle." So that was an opportunity for us to express our creativity. After five days of boredom, playing scrabble and whatever else, we decided to make the song. We spent like a whole day writing, and then recorded it on a webcam. After multiple recordings, we embarrassingly published it to YouTube.

Taja: Embarrassingly Jess? (laughter)

Jessica: Yeah! I was afraid (laughter)! I was afraid! I was like, "Oh God my cheeks are pink now! People are to going to laugh at me." You know...we were out of it but, really had a good time doing it.

Taja: Yeah, yeah you’re right it was good but, we were scared at the same time.

Jessica: Yes. We were proud of it definitely! But, there was a level of oh God…But, we published it and the feedback was incredible! People were sharing it, commenting, and reposting it and it got a lot of likes really fast. So we were like “Oh... Ok! That’s cool… What’s next?!” So, then we started creating more songs after that. And, then created a mix tape music video,. created by a good friend of ours. We put a lot of our friends in the video. Then we decided to launch an Indiegogo Campaign to fund the full mix tape. As we were in the process of creating that mix tape, we realized what we wanted to do a mix tape release in June 2014 and became really intentional on how we wanted to use the content and the art that we were creating. We wanted to offer workshops and create spaces for people to engage in creative courage, and hear their passions and purpose and have that affirmed within the community. And, so the project continues to grow as we create new ideas.

BeYou: This next question is about the philosophy of your company, do you guys believe it’s possible to build a business model from the standpoint of love and compassion? I know you did say prior that you felt stuck in your 9 to 5, so do you feel like the love you have for yourself or the love you have for art helped you develop your business model?

Taja: I mean, of course! That is what it was born out of. The values of Colored Girls Hustle revolves around self-care, self-love, pleasure; honoring and celebrating, you know, who we are. I mean that is, you know, what we’re doing. It’s built into the process of how Colored Girls Hustle gets stuff done. Around the mix tape in particular, like there’s specific values that guide us and are listed on our website. We bring that into both our process of making music as well as into the products that we create. They are values that influence the content of our music. And, we also use those values at our workshops. We would literally list them on the board and tell people about our values. It’s kind of like our community agreement when we create workshops. When you’re walking into this room to participate in this thing, here are the values that we hold. So, the values really drive all the work that is done and accomplished. The adornment pieces come out of a pleasure ritual of getting ready. It’s meant to be more than just a piece of jewelry. Part of the philosophy around the adornment is jewelry and is a part of the practice of decorating your body as a way of expressing yourself. So, all of that is infused in there.

BeYou: So, would you say that the inspiration of the adornments are a part of the love and compassion that one should have for themselves?

Taja: Yeah! I believe that what you wear could be an expression of who you are. So, the ritual of getting ready takes a lot of care. Lotioning your body, and taking a shower and doing all those things, treating and taking care of yourself are a part of the self-love ritual. Even what we talk about in the mix tape too, we have a song about what we wear; jumpsuits and tutus! It is a big part of our work.

BeYou: Oh I love it!

CGH sharp2dash

The Circle of Self-Expression via The Brooklyn Museum's Target First Saturday, Photographed by Syrah Scott

Taja: It’s a big part of our performance aesthetic and we’re being self-expressed through that. I like wearing Tutus. I don’t wear them on a regular basis, I actually might be changing that soon. I should wear them more often. But, I’m thinking of jumpsuits; Jessica is typically wearing jumpsuits.

"Jessica:" I am typically in jumpsuits. And, I did recently buy a jumpsuit that I will be wearing soon! Ah, she’s trying to jack my style. (laughter).

BeYou: Well, I’m about to jack your style too! I love Tutus! (laughter)

Jessica: Well, yes! I think everyone should do that! Just to be boldly expressed! As you know, part of our values are creative courage! You know, express who you are! Take a step out there!

Taja: Yes. I’m 29 years old and I wear tutus! And, I love it. We are trying to encourage people to do the same.

BeYou: That is definitely true and it ties into my next question, do you believe your self-acceptance has a direct relation to the philosophy of your business?

Jessica: I would like to add something. Coming out of the last question; the origin of Colored Girls Hustle and our musical collaborations stem from our state of sisterhood, love, friendship, and joy. So, we make sure that no matter-- if it’s a workshop or whatever we’re doing, when we get together whether we are on a retreat or meeting, we’re always checking in on each other. Making sure that we are coming from a space that is recreating a space for the sustainability of our work. And the sustainability of our wellness, individually, and as friends.

BeYou: Now, I'd like to move a bit in a different direction, what trials and tribulations have you gone through on your journey?

Taja: Tribulations and struggles?

BeYou: Yes. Have you had any hiccups that you needed to work through or do you feel like you guys are still learning?

Jessica: Yeah we are definitely still learning. Like even the process of recording a mix tape, we learned so much about being in a studio; how our voice sounds; like volume mixing…It’s like a different language that we didn’t have before. It’s an ongoing process of learning. You know we didn’t study music; we didn’t study art in school or marketing. So, we’re kind of building and learning from other people and learning from those who have been in the game for a minute. Sometimes it can feel like a tribulation but, I feel really honored to learn as we practice.

BeYou: I don’t know if I mentioned this to you guys but, this issue is all about compassion. What does compassion mean to you?

Taja: When I think about compassion I think about deep love. I also think about being really centered with how we are all connected. And how our wellness; our individual wellness is really important and sacred and reflected in the wellness of our community. Being intentional about our work, our actions, our thoughts and how they impact ourselves; our livelihood and the livelihood of our community. Figuring out how to be present in the world in a way that presents wholeness of self and love for all people.

CGH sharp1Dash

The Circle of Self-Expression via The Brooklyn Museum's Target First Saturday, Photographed by Syrah Scott

Jessica: That sounds like a great definition of compassion, thanks Taja! I think in terms of our work, in terms of our mixed tape like even before we do a workshop, me and Taja love up on each other. We make sure we pray together, and we make sure we give thanks and gratitude, as its one of our values. We acknowledge that this isn’t just coming from us- it’s bigger than us. And, that space is bigger than us. We are just the vessel to create this kind of space and offer our community the kind of love we would like to receive. So, in terms of our performance, practice and workshop facilitation, compassion is reflective in all of our values. You know, it's encouraging creative courage; self-celebration, self-determination and gratitude-- all of the values that are part of how we create communities that are based on compassion and love.

BeYou: Thank you! Now, I know you touched on this earlier Taja, but what is your vision for Colored Girls Hustle’s future? Short and long-term goals?

Taja: I would like it to be a platform for the hustle of girls and women of color. I want to be able to promote, interview and showcase what other people are doing. I think that I’m a person who is self-taught in a lot of ways. And, by taking some of our classes and workshops people can attain a degree or certificate from the information gathered from us and others. We live in an age where people are figuring out how to do the things they want with the limited resources available to them- you know, that is hustling. But, I think sometimes when you’re trying to leave your 9 to 5 or figure out how to get into your dream job or dream career; or to be living your dream; whatever that may be, there’s a lot of mystery around it. It can feel unattainable or out of reach. It can feel like something that is not meant for you.

So, I think that interviewing people that are in the process of accomplishing their dreams or have accomplished them already, is critical to how we share information. To find out how to get from point A to B. What are all those little steps in between that other people have taken? I like to read interviews of folks that I admire. Just to get the idea of how they got to where they are today. And, so I’m hoping that Colored Girls Hustle can be an inspiration through our platform and interviews. I would also really like to support people in being self-actualized. We’re not robots, like we’re not machines, and I don’t think we live in an economy that well, "I’m gonna work this job for another 40-50 years then retire and collect my pension and social security that's gonna sustain me at age 65 or older." And, then when you’re old, that’s when you'll finally be able to travel the world. People want to take charge of their life today. We are hoping that how it translates to women and girls of color facilitated through Colored Girls Hustle; that taking charge of your life, and going after your dreams being fully self-expressed, and really living the life that you want, realizing that this is your hustle; like being you, and living out your purpose in life. It’s about enjoying your life, right now today! That’s a part of the impact I want to have. I’m also hoping that we add some things that are beautiful, awesome and contagious to the world. The things that we sell as well as the things that we offer, are things that enrich people’s lives. So, if the ritual of getting ready uses the adornments that we make, or if you’re bumping to our mix tape while you’re getting ready, and it could be a part of your everyday ritual, that would be great! Even if your traveling across country or need something to pick you up-- I’m hoping that everything we offer is something of value. Something that could enrich anyone’s life; specifically with women and girls. I think it’s really important.

Like when I first launched my line of adornments through Colored Girls Hustle & Luminary Soul, I thought it was very important to have models that were women of color. Being able to have our faces in the forefront and not token-ized. More than a couple of faces to show the different varieties that we come in; to be able to show the different sizes, shapes, and skin tones that we have was really important to me. I have fly women of color friends, including Jessica who was like a model. And, I just used them.

Jessica: Heeey!! (laughter)

Taja: (laughter) She made her modeling debut.

Jessica: I did, I did!

Taja: And, it was just really good. You know and I think Jess had a really good time doing it. Just being a part of that process, they were able to be beautiful and shine. The pictures came out really great and everything was just lovely. Being able to see us in that way and being able to provide that sort of representation, opens up new possibilities for people. The fact that we wear jumpsuits and tutus on stage; us just being present and ourselves has an impact on people. Showing up has an impact; showing up authentically, as who we are, has an impact. I want to continue to build that ripple, to have a community that is worldwide. And, to be able to exchange that energy with people across the world.

BeYou: What an awesome goal! We are backing you and want to see your ideas come to fruition.

Taja: Thank you

BeYou: And, now finally the last question-- Why do you support #BeYou?

Jessica: When you say be you, I definitely believe and know that everybody on this planet was born for a purpose. Everybody is here to offer something unique and magical to the world. When we are not being ourselves and we are not fulfilling what brings us joy and passion, then we are holding back our own gift. And, holding back whatever it is that we should be contributing. I know that for me personally, it’s still a practice for me to be myself. There are so many things in the world that would make me feel like I need to conform or make me want to fix this about myself. Or question whether I need to do something better or differently. But, I constantly have to remind myself through my communities and I’m constantly reminded by people that are doing incredible and inspiring things, being themselves. To just honor who I am, to honor what I bring and to know that is enough. That who I am is enough and I am here for a divine purpose. And to know what is my compass for knowing that I am on the right track is if I’m enjoying myself. Does what I’m doing give me life, bring me joy give me pleasure, and it feel good; if its loving to myself and others then I know I’m in the right place. It’s all basic.

People say all the time growing up you should “Be yourself!”, but it’s so hard because there’s so many things in this world that would make you feel like you can’t be yourself. Or, you feel like in order to get from point A to point B you have to navigate in a certain way. And that’s a skill you need to know. We have to know that there are complicated ways to navigate in the world; so to create a space to come back to center, would be ideal. To meditate, reflect on, and honor our bodies, spirits, our minds, and our desires; it’s not just important, it’s everything! That’s why we’re here! So yeah, I support being myself…even when it’s hard (laughter).

Taja: Well shoot, if you don’t, nobody will (laughter).

BeYou: Well thank you ladies! Thank you so much for allowing me to pick your brains. With all sincerity, we appreciate you for all that you’re doing.

Taja: No, thank you!

Jessica: Thank You!


Cover: Homeless Man NYC, Photographed by Khamaali Vernon

All I Want Is to Be Acknowledged

By: Syrah Scott

As the saying goes, many of us are TWO paychecks away from being homeless. This speaks volumes to me. When I was in Miami working on my Fashion Merchandising degree, I found myself homeless for a week. I couldn’t believe it. While waiting on my dormitory room to be ready, I had no place to stay in between. But, nothing was going to interfere with my schooling, so I made it work. I quickly went into survival mode. Fortunately enough, I had a rental car that I had gotten a week prior. This was surely an eye opening experience, to say the least. My school was next to Miami Beach, so when it was time to sleep, I parked the car on the busiest strip, leaned all the way back in the car seat and slept throughout the night. I did this for seven days straight and got ready for class in an available school bathroom. No one in class could even tell that this was going on, nor was I going to share the experience. I simply kept it to myself. I am happy to say that this was the closest that I’ve been to living out on the streets.

But, homelessness today as most people see it is actually much worse than what I’ve been through. Every homeless person has a different story, and I found that evident on my quest to interview several people living on the streets of New York City. In general, we have the tendency to lump all homeless people in one group; which is unfair. It's just like if we were to gather all sick people together. There are different levels of sickness and everyone has a different kind of sickness. With homelessness, sometimes it's the disposition of a person that gets them into that situation, but most of the time it's the situation. Mental illness, drugs and alcoholism, lack of family support and other miscellaneous conditions may also play a part . After situations such as Hurricane Sandy, the Ebola breakout in Africa, the earthquake in Nepal, and the uproar that happened in Baltimore, thousands of children and families worldwide have been forced to homelessness.


Homeless Man NYC, Photographed by Syrah Scott

Based on New York City records, the number of residents living without their own shelter is close to 60,000 people. The numbers nationwide are far worse! More than 578,424 are out on the streets left to fend for themselves. Have you ever wondered why homelessness is not being taken care of in America and abroad? We live in a place where there should be no homelessness. With all of the opportunities, abundance of wealth; the rich people in America alone can help solve this problem globally and still be ON TOP. So what is it?

Millionaires like Chen Guangbiao give to the needy on a regular basis. In fact, he gave a dinner party for homeless people living in Central Park at the famed Loeb Boathouse. He also gave 4 people $300 each and donated money to the shelter in the area; he continues to help where help is needed. Kind acts such as this can surely happen more often. As much money that is spent on material items, like clothing, jewelry, houses, and cars, it’s almost glutinous to live in such bounty; especially when you know that there are people out in the world that really need help.

I remember when The #BeYou Campaign held several fundraising events. We sold cupcakes and when homeless people came up to our booth, they insisted on giving their little bit of money to support our good cause. I still can’t get over the amount of selflessness they displayed. It was wonderful to see. So, why can’t people with an abundance of money share in the wealth? My point, exactly! What’s crazy is that these types of donations can be written off at the end of the year so, basically they would get it right back. Is this a case in which the wealthy are fearful of losing their power if they help too much? I don’t know, you tell me?


Homeless Man NYC, Photographed by Syrah Scott

Many of us know how it feels to go without something for a day or two. But, imagine going without nourishment for days, weeks or even months, After a while, our bodies begin to break down when we don't treat it good. And, when homeless people cannot get a balanced meal, their body begins to malfunction. Not to mention, not being able to take a bath and take care of your personal hygiene on a regular basis. It wouldn’t be good at all! Yes. I know some of you are saying, "That isn’t my problem.” But, what if the shoe was on the other foot? Wouldn’t you want the help? Some people aren’t as strong as you, and haven’t had the support that you’ve had throughout your life. Imagine not having your parents there to support you or imagine growing up in a drug infested household, or what about not having family at all? How would you hold up in this time? We were all made to coexist and help our fellow man when they experience hardship. The saying “when you give, you receive tenfold” is very true. So, find it in your heart, show empathy and assist where needed.

What everyone wants so badly in their life is to feel important, and to be acknowledged. And, when we rush pass a homeless person without even acknowledging their presence, it's not a good feeling at all. When I spoke to a couple of people living on the streets of New York City, that was the first thing they said, "I appreciate you even acknowledging me. That made my day." And, they went on to tell me their whole life story. What would you do if someone constantly overlooked you? Isn't that what happens to kids in school when they are alienated? Some act out to get the attention they've been looking for or just take it all in; eventually becoming hopeless, depressed, and suicidal. We're all human and need some sort of companionship. Even if it's a heartfelt "Hello" or a hug or just simply listening to what they have to say; it all goes long way. So, the next time you pass by a homeless person or they ask you for help, stop and acknowledge them, even if you don’t have anything to give. It makes all the difference.


Homelessness NYC, Photographed by Syrah Scott

Y and P

Teen Entrepreneur Gabrielle Jordan Williams

You Can Live Your Dream At Any Age

By: Nicole Nurse

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
― John Holmes

Meet Gabrielle Jordan Williams, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, author, and young leader that turned her ideas into a reality. At the tender age of seven, Gabrielle discovered that she could create a business out of the bracelets she loved to make for her friends. She loved everything about jewelry and found her passion very early in life. What started out as show and tell for other kids her age, quickly grew into a synergistic bundle of entrepreneurial greatness. Two years later, at just nine years old, this budding kid entrepreneur turned her obsession into a promising business venture called Jewelz of Jordan. Thereafter, she would create ExCEL, a youth mentoring institute that teaches aspiring entrepreneurs the steps to achieving their dreams early on in life. Gabrielle is the author of The Making of a Young Entrepreneur, A Kid's Guide to Developing the Mindset for Success. She is the youngest member to be on the board of the Great Black Speakers Bureau, was the recipient of the International Trendsetter Award presented by Alpha Alpha Sigma- Baltimore Chapter, and had an opportunity to speak for a TED Talk event. Most recently Gabrielle was acknowledged by Black Girls Rock and invited to celebrate her award on Black Entertainment Network (BET). There, she met numerous influential people including First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Where did Gabrielle’s creativity, drive and determination come from? What happened when kids in school made fun of what she was doing? Gabrielle gave us some insight into her life and business journey when she sat down with us for a chat. Here is some of what Gabrielle had to say about dealing with critics, bringing other kids along with her on her road to success, and taking risks in life.

BeYou: How did you get started in your business

GJW: I loved jewelry from a young age and taught myself how to make it at 7 years old. I learned from videos on YouTube then started the jewelry business at 9 years old. The first item I sold was a ‘Bling Ring’, a friend bought it from me and that friend also bought a charm bracelet. So, my first customers were friends from school.
At 11 years old, I wrote the book called The Making Of A Young Entrepreneur: A Kid’s Guide To Developing The Mind-Set For Success, for the Write A Book competition at school. That book is now available on Amazon!


Gabrielle Jordan Bracelet

BeYou: How did you transition from selling to friends at school to selling to people you didn’t know?

GJW: I used a lot of online marketing. My mom had a connection with a lady from Diva Time with Mom. I sold that lady a few things and did styling from there. Being involved with a grand opening event allowed me to expand my sales network. Word of mouth has been key. I never liked plastic. I always liked elegant styling and pearls. The products that I sell are quality, so people quickly bought into my product idea. They say I am an old soul. My mom is a classic and elegant woman who doesn’t love jewelry but she always had a love for classy and elegant things. I get my sense of style from her.

BeYou: I read that you are currently home schooled. Is there a reason for that and did you experience bullying while you were going to school?

GJW: I was missing a lot of school days because of the business so, I decided to study at home while in the eight grade. Also, transitioning between different environments, between business meetings and school classrooms was challenging. I want to be in entrepreneurial mode 24/7. Plus, I am a very picky person. Before I choose a friend I don’t tell them about my business. My closest friends ask about it or stay away from the topic when they notice I’m not willing to talk about it. When I was in school some jealous people said I bought my jewelry from the dollar store, which wasn’t true. Some people always asked me for money. Although I have always been shy, I have also always been a confident person. People know that about me because I have always asserted that I will be successful. Even if someone encourages you, if you aren’t positive you won’t believe it. I don’t listen to naysayers. I know that if I have my eye on my goals and dreams, I will be successful.


ExCel Youth Institute with Gabrielle Jordan Williams

BeYou: Do you have advice about business for kids your own age or in highschool?

GJW: If you have any idea of something, start it now. By the time it’s ready you will be successful. Even if it’s not business, just a job, take courses. Jump head first into your business. Adults really want to help young people who are trying great things. You don’t have the worries of bills and other things like that. Of course, there are complications to being young and dealing with legal documents etc. It is worth the struggle and trouble. Time is the most precious thing that we have and we have it when we are young.

BeYou: Let's talk about Gabrielle as a motivational speaker. How did you get into this, what do you like most about public speaking and the other things you do?

GJW: I started my speaking career because I wanted to reach more people and touch more lives to encourage young people to start their business right now! I really wanted to get that message out to young people in my book and in my speaking opportunities. Being able to talk to large groups of kids and adults has been a wonderful experience. I have so much to work on when it comes to balancing being a kid and being an entrepreneur. If I feel overwhelmed, I take a step back, take a break and focus on something fun like being a kid and hanging out with friends. I can’t do that too long because I am itching to get back to my business. (laughter)

BeYou: What do you see in the future for Gabrielle Jordan Williams?

GJW: I am really trying to build my ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute: Excellence Created Through Entrepreneurship and Leadership. I am mentoring young people through a series every Sunday at 7pm and through the ExCEL Youth Mastermind (9 students from around the world on Google+). I go through the key components of being an entrepreneur. I do this session 3 times a year, the next session is in April. Students apply and I will choose 9 students.

I also want to become a Gemologist at GIA (Gemological Institute of America). There is one in New York that I want to attend. But, I am not sure if I want to go to college or not depending on how big the company grows. It depends on whether I have time to take away from my company to go to school. I want to go to GIA in my early years at age 20.


Black Girls Rock Appearance on BET, Image Courtesy of Gabrielle Jordan Williams

BeYou: It must be something to be a kid entrepreneur. I'm quite sure that ideas come a mile a minute. Do you tend to get interested in many different ideas at a time? How do you stay focused on just one?

GJW:. I ask myself ‘what is overall making money right now?’ Before I make a decision on what to do next. I am more focused on taking calculated risks. Whatever I jump into should benefit me or other people in some way. I should be able to answer the question ‘How will this grow?’

The Zen B

The Zen Bird Customer Mobile

The Zen Bird Mobile: You are Beautiful, Authentic, and Unique

By: Marian Mellen

Greetings! I'm Marian Mellen, owner of The Zen Bird, a cool and friendly company focused on building confidence and creating products with a purpose. I started my company just over two years ago after seeing far too many people trying to fit the mold of what they thought they “should be” and creating a life that looked good on the outside but didn’t feel good on the inside.

I decided then to change the conversation and start to build radical self-love through BEYOUband-- headbands that remind us, “All we are and all we become begins in our minds. If we believe we are worthy, we are. If we believe we are important, we are.”

We all are irreplaceable human beings unable to compare to another yet, we suffer from chronic 'wishing to be skinnier, funnier, smarter, and more talented’; constantly comparing ourselves to an ideal image of what we THINK will bring happiness, when happiness resides WITHIN.

BYband Group1

Top Choice Models Valentina Julio for The BEYOUBand United, Photographed by Syrah Scott

In collaboration with The #BeYou Campaign, The Zen Bird has created BEYOUband United to celebrate the uniqueness of people and spread the message of SELF-CONFIDENCE & UNITY globally. 20% of all proceeds collected will go directly to the #BeYou Campaign. Together we can create a paradigm shift in people's mind, change the dialogue, and celebrate authenticity worldwide!

Pre-Order YOURS today! Visit The Zen Bird and email thebeyoucampaign@gmail.com or marian@thezenbird.com. Be sure to include the quantity, and contact and shipping info.

From my heart & authentic self to yours’, sending love & positive vibes, Marian Mellen ~ Owner of The Zen Bird.


The History and Culture Lies within the People of Australia, Photographed by Aditya Bajekal

The True Definition of Culture: The Aussie Way

By: Sameera Afzaal & Aditya Bajekal

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” Marcus Garvey.

Art, food, fashion, entertainment, societal standards, and religion are all part of a sphere that collate the definition of what culture is and what culture can be. Subjective to say that after centuries of studies and knowledge consumed, it seems that the definition of culture has only become more challenging to narrow down into a sentence. How can it be defined in a concise manner? Well, since cultural awareness is the foundation of communication and it involves the ability of standing back from ourselves and becoming aware of our cultural values, beliefs and perceptions, we ascertain that we are all people with our own inheritance of the definition of “CULTURE”. In other words, everyone sees culture from a different perspective. What is considered an appropriate behavior in one culture is frequently inappropriate in another. Misunderstandings arise when we use our meanings to make sense of your reality.

Becoming aware of our cultural dynamics is a challenging task because culture is not conscious to us. Since birth, we have learned to see and do things at an unconscious level. Our experiences, values and cultural background lead us to see and do things in a certain way. Sometimes we have to step outside of our cultural boundaries in order to realize the impact that our way of life has on our behavior. But, perhaps what ties it all together is the compassion that we have to create culture.

Talking about compassion can be quite entertaining because of its subjectivity. When you ask someone what they think compassion means, the first thought that may pop up in their mind is a motivational video narrated by the Dalai Lama reciting a message of compassion to the people of Nepal or maybe even of world renown Psychologist, Daniel Coleman And, yes we’re all guilty of watching such videos at some point in our lives, and why not – they help us feel better about ourselves.

A simple definition of compassion is the active expression of acceptance for the world and people just as they are; a place of no judgment about a situation or a person. True compassion is being able to look at the whole world without expectations that it should be any different. In other words, we can still hold a vision of possibility for the world, but we don’t use it as a standard of comparison for rejecting where the world is right now. This way we can avoid the personal emotional reactions that create sadness, sorrow or pity.

For this particular article, we will share what compassion means in the expression of our culture, the Aussie culture. From what we wear, to traveling to exotic destinations! Everything we do is culture. From the #ootd on our Instagram page, to visiting a pop up food market, we are deep in the threads of a quilt that has been sewing for centuries.


A Taste of Australia, Photographed by Aditya Bajekal, Food Editor Revathie Dhanabalan & Hoda Milani

We often hear people say that life should be all about appreciating and respecting other peoples' work. This is where we believe differently. Our philosophy is that life is all about making others appreciate you and your ability to enrich the world and how you make a difference in the world; professionally and personally. Now you may be thinking that this is a very selfish view, but let us explain. How do we accomplish this? Easy - be compassionate about yourself and all that you have to offer, even your little quirks! Banksy created his own culture by depicting his personality throughout canvases that offer something to be compassionate about. One can be subjective and say that he was compassionate enough to believe in his art and the impact it could have on society. The moral here, when you’re compassionate about yourself, you learn to appreciate everything else in life. Don’t chase success, chase compassion and excellence and you will find that success will follow.


Sameera Afzaal & Aditya Bajekal of DYNAMIQUE.BLOG, Photographed by Hoda Milani

Every day, we aim to express this compassion and hope to share it with others through our sense of style, belief and value system, language, photography, and overall approach to life. We've learned that it is important to be creative and artistic, and once we can accept our own innovative ability, we can then accept and say that we’re all artists and begin to start a productive conversation with people around the world.

The Aussie culture is influenced by the wonderful geography of our continent, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the numerous waves of multi-ethnic migration that followed. It is evident in our distinct accent and beautiful street and aboriginal art. In fact, people's fascination with the "outback" has persisted in the arts of Aussie Land. Major landmarks including Webb Bridge, Gallery of Victoria, The Melbourne Docklands and, the awesome street art in Perth City are all a part of the enormous picture of Australia. Appreciating our country allows us to appreciate other lands and take certain common practices and tweak them to make sense with our way of life; allowing us to live freely and share kindness, love and understanding all around

We suggest you do the same within your world. Create your own culture, love yourself and dynamify your surroundings! When you can achieve this, you will automatically learn to appreciate and empathize with others and how they contribute to the world.

Learning a new language, participating in traditional dances and even losing yourself in unknown lands may all sound scary, but when you appreciate who you are and find that confidence in you, this can all become a very fun and interesting way to learn about other cultures. Just add your twist to it! Some of you know what you have to offer to enrich the world and not merely exist and some of you may still be finding your way. The beauty of this is that as long as you continue to be compassionate about yourself, you will find that part of you that is waiting to enrich and add your spice to the pot. Remember, we are all unique in our own way. The possibilities are endless, from sharing cooking tutorials on YouTube to showing people the latest dance moves in your neck of the woods; express yourself in whatever shape and form-- never hold back that magic inside of you. It is the creation of culture in its works.

We are excited to see what you have to offer! STAY DYNAMIC

Dish Motherland

The Motherland

Taste of Africa

By: Martha Browne

With azure blue skies, mountains that kiss the heavens and some of the most breath taking landscapes on the planet, there is no surprise that Africa is host to some of the most vibrant and tantalizing cuisine. The great continent is so diverse and verified, and this is reflected in its delicious food.

Africa! Home to food filled with passion and life, flavors that lift you up and away from the dreariness of everyday life. And, did you know that the traditional African diet is one of the best for you? Leagues ahead of western cuisine which comes heavily refined and processed, Africa takes it back to the roots, when cooking was all about the food; the goodness of raw ingredients that mother earth provided for us. Why would you fill your body with processed sugar and fat, when you can enjoy something wholesome, nutritious and fabulously delicious?

One inspirational advocate of this is African-American food blogger Sanura Weathers who through her blog shows the world a side to African cuisine that is fresh, healthy and sets your taste buds on fire! Her blog is a treasure trove of incredible recipes and so I highly recommend that you fire up a computer and take a look! You won't be short of recipes that will brighten up a dull dinner table. And the best part... you don’t have to slave your life away in a kitchen or break the bank recreating some of the irresistible traditional dishes. So, call your friends, crack open a bottle of South African goodness and serve up a culinary feast that will change the way you view African cooking, forever!


African Spices Just Right

A personal favorite of mine is the Senegalese Jollof Rice; a simple rice dish that packs a punch filled with African spices such as cinnamon, cumin and coriander that fill the house with such a fragrant aroma you are transported away and desperate to get stuck in! Taking only 30 minutes to prepare, it is a quick and easy dinner for the busy student, however I find that if you leave it to simmer and stew, the flavors are released and each mouthful is more of a delight than the last. Here's how you put it together!


1 tsp olive oil/ melted butter for cooking
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground caraway
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks (Cheat: use 2-3 tsp ground cinnamon)
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 green pepper, chopped finely
2 celery stalks, chopped finely
2 inch fresh ginger, grated (Cheat: use Lazy Ginger pre-chopped!)
1 tin of peeled plum tomatoes
2 red chillies, finely chopped
200g rice of choice (I prefer brown rice but cooking time increases slightly!)
½ liter of stock chicken or vegetable
250ml of red wine
2 handfuls of frozen peas


Using a large pan, melt the butter or add the olive oil and bring up to temperature over a medium heat. When fully melted and hot add the onions and cook until soft but don’t caramelize!

Add all the spices and mix well, then chuck all the other vegetables except the tomatoes and peas.

Then cook until they are soft, about 5-10 minutes.

Add to the pot of stock, tomatoes, wine and rice then bring to a boil. Once boiling cover the pan with the lid, reduce the heat and allow the rice to simmer, occasionally stirring.


Senegalese Styled Jollof Rice with a Twist

Simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked (add more water to the mix if the pan is boiling dry before rice is fully cooked).

Once cooked add the frozen peas cooking for a additional 2 minutes adjust the seasoning to taste, and voila!

Serve hot alongside a large green salad and grilled chicken breast for a healthy, fresh and delicious meal. Recipe adapted from the My Life Runs on Food Blog.

BestBody8WEEKChallenge TEAL EN

8 Week Challenge, Image Courtesy of Yor Health


Weight Loss Transformation via YOR Health 8 Week Challenge, Images Courtesy of YOR Health

The YOR Best Body 8 Week Challenge

By : Johnny Ly

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#BeYou Brand Ambassador, YOR Health Representative, & International Entrepreneur Johnny Ly, Image Courtesy of YOR Health

Powered by the YOR Health product line's innovative nutrient absorption focus and enzyme based core, we use the highest quality ingredients, and no fillers. We guarantee this will change your life or your money back. Are you up for the challenge?

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How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

It’s crunch time and you need to start expanding your network; getting rid of dead weight and bringing in new people into your world. How do you do this, you ask? We have the perfect solution…How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of the first best-selling self-help books ever published, provides basic techniques on how to expand your network and have an influence on the people you meet. It teaches you how to deal with people, suggests ways to make people like you and understand your way of thinking, and gives effective leadership advice on how to be an influential leader; all while suggesting a powerful approach to changing people without offending or triggering resentment.

This powerful book was written by Dale Carnegie and first published in 1936. Since then, it has sold more than 15 million copies. Some of the most successful and influential people have read this book including Warren Buffet, Donald Triumph, and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.

Be sure to hold yourself accountable for reading. Take notes in a journal and apply what you've learned to your everyday life. We want to hear from you! You have three months to read through everything. Send over your feedback to thebeyoucampaign@gmail.com and let us know how it worked for YOU.

Happy Reading!


Installation NYC Pop Up Boutique, 559 Myrtle Aenue, Brooklyn, New York

I Want My Borough Back

By: Syrah Scott

Brooklyn is the largest, most diverse, and artsy borough that New York has to offer. Home to more than 2.5 million, it continues to grow and gentrify to include people from all walks of life.

Unbeknownst to some, is a little boutique nestled in downtown Brooklyn called Installation NYC. This fashionable and eclectic pop up shop desires to create "noise" in the community and put Brooklyn back together again! With the increase in rent and gentrification taking place, artisans that originated from this neck of the woods simply can not afford the high rates and are being thrown out to the curbside; therefore disrupting the city's intrinsic blueprint that has been planted there for several decades.

The owner Israel David, has fostered a comfortable and intimate ambiance in which people from a far are welcomed to engage in everything it has to offer. Installation NYC features a well-curated selection of exclusive men and women's second hand and NYC based designer fashion, accessories and house-ware items; all at a contemporary price point! You are bound to find some of your favorite designers from all over the world including brands like Gucci, St. John, and Margiela, and handpicked New York City based independent labels; each piece one in its own!

I had the pleasure of stopping by this very special boutique to sit down and chat with Israel. Here is what he had to say about Brooklyn and his optimistic view point on the borough's growth.

Moses Cut2

Installation NYC Ecclectic Mix, Photographed by Khamaali Vernon

BeYou: Who or what inspired you to begin Installation NYC and how long has it been in existence?

Installation NYC (INYC): Hmmm. Who, what, and when? So, three years ago, I came back from Georgia back to Brooklyn, and I saw the neighborhood was starting to dramatically change. And, when I first came here, I was around so many talented artists and musicians, creatives in general, living in Brooklyn and who were my next door neighbors. And, so when I saw that some of those guys had been pushed out because of rent increase and whatever else, I was like whoa. That’s crazy. But, I really didn’t come with the intention of necessarily doing something about it per say, until a good friend of mine had a store vacancy down the street. And, he was like I want to do something with this but, I don’t know what to do. Let’s do this boutique you were talking about that was centered around emerging designers and I wanted to…not just NYC but make it even more specific to Crown Heights. Because of all that’s going on and everybody is sort of rent poor. So, how do we keep the money with the artisans in the neighborhood? You know let’s work with the artists in the neighborhood. So, we came across a couple of challenges in the beginning. Because there are production issues, you know quality control. Because these are young kids. They don’t have money to replenish some of the things and keep up with seasons. So, I started with jewelry designers first. And, then I moved on to tee shirts. Guys that were doing tee shirts and hoodies and a good friend of mine Rene Mantilla that does custom Fedoras. That did the Happy video for Pharrell; He came on board and then a local guy that was making custom beanies introduced himself to me. He was in Brooklyn. He was like actually one of my first vendors, and was into the story about how the Installation NYC market came along. Once I gave up the location down the street, and this space was offered to me; twice the size, I said well…even though the rent was reduced and all that, 'how am I going to make that work?' You know, So, I was like what...let me…I thought about it. I was like okay the Brooklyn Flea is around here. I’ve done the Flea and I’ve done markets before and I was working with the hat designer down the street and I was like ohhh. Let me set up a market. I had multiple vendors down there. Actually during the summertime I would just have outdoor vendors, you know. And it worked out really nice. It’s a low fee for the designers that didn’t have a store and it generated business for me as well. So it’s a win, win.

BeYou: The collaboration is definitely wicked!

INYC:Take the same business model and move it up the block!

BeYou: I love that you just answered almost three questions in one! So that’s awesome. Because I’m about collaboration too. So it’s just interesting how God just sent me to someone that’s about that same thing. And you didn’t really plan to implement compassion and understanding but, this is just something that’s in your heart anyway. So it’s in your business plan because this is who you are. Isn’t it something? That’s so interesting to me.

INYC: I think when you stay true to yourself you can be successful. You know, you develop your skill set and all that… so forth and so on but, it’s important to also make sure that you’re staying true to yourself. I see a lot of businesses making …not only in just this area but also in the other part of the world. They are...

BeYou: Manufacturing stuff just to make money…

INYC: Exactly! And, catering to a certain demographic of people that they think can afford it. Specifically, here in Crown Heights, it’s catering to people with a heavier pocket. And, it’s making it exclusive for some of the artists that have it and some of the artists that don’t necessarily have it that have been a part of this community and that have even contributed in ways to develop a culture for Crown Heights. And, it’s starting to dwindle away. And we’re forgotten. The artists are forgotten. And, people that were originally in the community from the beginning are forgotten. It’s like these businesses are more so catered to the Manhattan Upper East Side or West Side crowd. But, that crowd of people doesn’t really live here. You know.

BeYou: So you feel that building Installation NYC is a community builder? It brings in community and starts to build that community again.

INYC: Exactly! It makes you feel a part of it. Even with the aesthetic, I was careful

BeYou: So, because Brooklyn is becoming more expensive to live in, do you think that it will be a positive or negative impact on your business?

INYC: It’s subjective because it’s like what do you do... it can be a negative thing. If I don’t go with the change, if I go against what’s happening it can be a negative effect. But, I think it will actually be more positive because there will be a place that you can actually visit that’s more authentic to the foundation of what the area is. You’re basically visiting your neighbors. Why wouldn’t you want to? Why wouldn’t you want to visit your neighbors? You get to interact with neighbors and see what they’re doing, you know. And, it winds up building an even bigger community because more people want to be a part of it as well. Then, it becomes a landmark because you then have people from other countries coming here and the community...and then it becomes a go to spot. If you want a piece of Crown Heights, go here. It’s the music, the art, we got Chetamor with the mural, and we have some paintings in here as well. You know. So, we’re implementing all realms of art in one establishment. So, it’s like something that anyone can relate back to. It’s not a colored thing. You know, you like art? You like fashion? You like music? You got it! And, you can be a part of it. Not only by purchasing, but I’ve had customers, clients turn into the vendors. You know. So we’re all working together, and get to recycle money right in the neighborhood. And, that’s what builds a strong community that we can all survive in.

BeYou: So, it sounds like this has been instilled in you since a young kid? Community and family, and all these kind of things. Cause it just seems like it’s a natural thing for you. A natural progression…

INYC: My family has been always entertaining. Both of my parents are musicians. My mom was a backup vocalist for Billy Paul and my dad a percussionist for Billy Paul. Like the Me and Misses Jones. Then my dad went on to Bob James and my mom did Stevie Wonder... and my dad ended his career with Nina Simone. So, just traveling around and getting to see different things, different cultures and recognize how, that we are humans. You know it’s like oh…okay. You have an idea of how this all works. You know. And what’s important and how important community is. So, we break community a part like how it all just goes to shambles. I don’t want to really see this happening to this area. It’s just something really special about it. You know.

BeYou: You know me being from... I was born in Brooklyn, Crown Heights. That’s where my family still lives. I can definitely relate. Family is super important to me. You are right along with how I think about community and family. With the music and what’s going on in the media, how do you think that effects community? Because really they’re talking about independence as opposed to being interdependent…that’s the "American Way." How do you feel about what society says and how it’s affecting community? And, how can Installation NYC help with that?

INYC: With mainstream music, cause there’s a lot of good music, and a lot of good artists. I feel like we are in almost like a Renaissance. There are a lot of good artists coming out right now and it is becoming more underground, and is still accessible through social media. You know, and just staying in the know. But, mainstream definitely damages the value. It’s devaluing what community and family is about.

BeYou: Because you got this song saying I’m going to the next girl, and yea, I’m going to this girl.

INYC: And then what? Then, it comes back down to parenting and how important that is. Because mainstream can only exist on what we allow it to be. We dictate what mainstream is. So it’s not just going to be me or Installation NYC (from what I see) that’s going to be able to do it. But, I want people to hop on the bandwagon of that idea more so than this whole fashion thing. Because we started to get people just saying “it’s just about fashion”, but it’s about culture. Keyword. Music. Art. Food. You know.

BeYou: Yes. Everything intertwined!

INYC: That’s right. And, when you take that apart and try to like nitpick it and create these little facades of what something really is and what’s important, it’s over. Then all of that is going to end. The powers that be will take away what’s most important. Cause we stop valuing it.

BeYou: Right. I mean that makes sense too with what’s happening with these kids. Our kids are really being punished, if you will; by all of this stuff. I feel like they are missing out on so much. They don’t know their culture, they don’t know where… yeah they know that their parents are from, but they don’t know…it’s deeper than just where your parents are from. It’s also about finding out your roots, finding out where you are from, who you are, and mixing and mingling with all different types of people so you can have a worldly view on what’s happening; globally.

INYC: Yes. They are not taking advantage of the platforms that are set for them. Google wasn’t like Google is now. Back when I was going to school. And, all the social media and things that you need. You can Google anything you want. If you want to know where you came from and your mom may not know, you can go online and order a kit for $20.00!

BeYou: But, do you feel that these kids even want to know about that? Because I feel like history is not as important as it was. With anything, we must know that you have to know your history in order to know where you are going. And, kids nowadays are not even talking about that. So, why would they want to find this stuff?

INYC: Once again it comes down to parenting. I empathize when I see the working mother. Mostly single mothers unfortunately. Because of what we’re talking about music and everything, is destroying all of these values. Especially in New York, I look at mothers in New York as God, because I’m wondering 'how are you in New York City and carrying these strollers up and down the stairs? You’re going to work, dealing with a babysitter.” You know it’s like, how much time do you have in between to keep up your apartment, feed your kids, clothe them? And, then teach them, finish up their homework. You’re so beat by the end of the day, I’m like, and I’m swamped by the end of the day. And, I can only imagine if I had to go home and just do the basics of what kids need. Like feed them after that then bathe them. It’s like yo, we got to go over homework too?

20150322 KV 049

Installation NYC Vintage Home Decor, Photographed by Khamaali Vernon

BeYou: It’s a lot for single parents. But, let’s switch it up because I feel that we are going to be talking for a long time.

INYC: Yea. I agree (laughter)

BeYou: But, it’s good though because it shows me that you have empathy for people. You can sympathize with people and you have a heart. And, that just shows your character. And, those are the type of people that I want to be associated with. What kinds of products do you carry in your store? And, how did you come about bringing on these particular designers?

INYC: Having the boutique for three years, I had already been working with the artisans, which were mostly jewelry designers for the most part. And, then you know as years passed by, you just start accumulating more people. It just creates attention. They know they have an open door... you know, its an open door policy for any artist to come through and make submissions. We are going to continue with this pop up even though we are going to establish another brick and mortar store. We will continue with the pop up throughout New York City or to Brooklyn and eventually take it on the road throughout the nation.

BeYou: Oh nice!

INYC: Cause, like I said, this is not limited to New York or to Brooklyn. This is happening in all of the communities around the world. I was Turkey and the same thing. Development is happening, gentrification.

BeYou: So, again to bring community together.

INYC: Exactly!

BeYou: I love that!

INYC: And, just through art because I think that is just most important. You know, we touched on it before about how important art is with culture and how synonymous it is. This is my take on it. I hope that other leaders out there can get together and do their take on it and just build together and hopefully just make this a better world for us to live in. That’s it. That’s real!


BeYou:* That’s awesome! That’s very awesome!

INYC: It’s bigger then ahh, this is installation boutique. You know that’s great but like getting the product, that was the easy part. They just come and just gravitate like oh wow, I can have a space here? Yes. Because once I tell them what the philosophy is, it’s an invite you know. It’s like this is what we’re doing. We’re welcoming artists, painters, we had a painting on the wall. And, if people inquire about that, I say, "oh well there’s a blank wall back here. Absolutely. Please paint it. You know it is an open door. Let’s do this." Some spoken word artists we’ve had through here. We’ve had vocalists, we’ve had rappers and MCs. Then, we get people from all over the world. We had a vendor from South Africa. I met her two days prior. And, she was like "I have all this stuff from Cally with me you know can I set up shop?" And, 'I’m like absolutely.' And, she did well. I want to keep it as diverse and eclectic as possible. I want it to be curated in a way that it’s just harmonious and all the vendors can live together. So, sometimes I don’t place everyone at the same time. I try to create an environment where as though it makes sense to the customers that come in, you know. So, like having a South African vendor and then having a Nigerian vendor made sense. You know. And, when I do my vintage, I have another vintage slash second hand designer... stuff that they put together. You know, it lives together well. And, it has a harmony to it.

BeYou: Wow. So, your price points?

INYC: Man…

BeYou: What are your price points? Where does it start and where does it end?

INYC: You can get stuff for like three to five dollars. Blouses start at 20 you know, a price point for everyone.

BeYou: A contemporary price point.

INYC: Exactly. I have artisans that make jewelry in the front and their price points are higher. So, I get costume jewelry that everyone can buy. And, we have $10 earrings.

BeYou: What would you say your most expensive piece in the store is?

INYC: Uhhh...I have the hats that are $200, some jewelry pieces that go up to... I think my highest price point in the store is $300.

BeYou: Oh, that’s not bad at all. And, they are all one of a kind!

INYC: Yea, everything is one of a kind. You don’t ever have to worry about anyone having it!

BeYou: Awesome! So, it allows for people to express their individuality.

INYC: Exactly!

BeYou: So, your demographic you would say is just an eclectic group of people that appreciate art and culture?

INYC: That’s it!

BeYou: Cause that’s what it sounds like?

INYC: Yea.

BeYou: Okay! Very cool and I noticed just from me being here, I’ve seen all kind of people come in to your store.

INYC: Yeah. I’m looking at it as well. I see it changing but, you know I just take it in and I try not to have a negative outlook on it. Because that can consume you.

BeYou: Of course.

INYC: You know like just what the goal is. You just gotta keep going and make... and invite them and if they don’t like what you’re doing, you know well hey…

BeYou: On to the next right?

INYC: Yea.


BeYou: So, what collaborations have you been a part of and who will you partner with in the future, near future?

INYC: I would like to... there’s an organization called the Brooklyn Pop Up and I was introduced to one of the owners and I would definitely like to collab with them and expand the brand together. Both of us building...because they're doing a similar business model. We both like what we’re doing and we know that we can help each other.

BeYou: Smart.

INYC: You know. Expanding it. You know monopolizing it even. You know I’d rather have like two of these then one of them.

BeYou: Of course!

INYC: Then we both get together like hey! Now we got two. Then we can get four! You know yeah.

BeYou: And, then the word of mouth spreads and people are like yes! And, before you know it, you got people from all ends coming. That’s just smart! If you think about it, that’s what those people do from Yemen. A lot of them. You know the grocery store owners, they are doing that. They have stores there and in Brooklyn. Because they know that it takes a community. It takes like mad people doing it and not just one person to make it happen!


INYC: You can imagine... like you know we won’t even need the H & M’s the Zara’s and some of these big corporations, when we have all of this abundance of talent.

BeYou: Exactly!

INYC: And, they’ll be so many different perspectives on how to put it together. How people are seeing this format in general and being able to build upon it. You know.

BeYou: Isn’t that something? Wow. That’s clever. Your mindset on working with people... that’s powerful because there is power in numbers and if we don’t understand that then we’re not really good business people. You know what I’m saying (laughter)

INYC: Everyone can gain from it. You know. Having a small business in the neighborhood creates more jobs for the neighbors. Like, why do you need to leave your home and go to the city to work in a nine to five office with some big corporation all day when there's all this talent? You’re talented but you’re giving it up to these big corporations. Why?

BeYou: Yeah and they’re slaving you and you’re not really utilizing your full capability. You’re limited and capped off. You know. And, it’s a lot of work.

20150322 KV 067

Installation NYC Owner Israel David Styling Top Choice Models Moses Sesay, Photographed by Khamaali Vernon

INYC: You are disposable and just as much of a risk by having a small business. Cause I get asked that a lot as well. Even my family members. You know. they say 'you were making over a $100 thousand dollars before. why don’t you go back into corporate? You know you got a great resume.' I’m like yo. My head was on the chopping board EVERYDAY! Why in the world?

BeYou: They don’t get it!

INYC: Why in the world would I even think to go back?

BeYou: So, what I got from what you just said is that you left an unhappy world to just do what you love and whatever made you happy. No matter what the money was.

INYC: Right!

BeYou: Talk about that just a little bit cause…I think that’s important for people to know because I feel the same way about this whole thing. It’s like I’d rather be happy then have the money like that…in abundance because I gotta wake up every single day and deal with my life and be happy. (laughter)

INYC: Yeah for me, it was definitely an opportunity. But, this is how we’re schooled and raised; to work for these big corporations. So, you know in the beginning you’re just going with the program and I think life experiences just start to teach you. Things don’t necessarily have to go this way.

BeYou: Right!

INYC: There are other alternatives. And, if I’m about to do this full time for these corporations, why can’t I do that for myself? I don’t get it. But, everyone…I don’t expect everyone to be an entrepreneur. Like there has to be workers too. Right? Because then the entrepreneurs won’t have anyone to work for them. So, it has to be that balance.

BeYou: That’s right.

INYC: But, also there has to be...I think there has to be something out there that inspires entrepreneurs. You know. There’s a lot of stuff that says or that discourages the youth from being entrepreneurs with that being lucrative. With them turning into anything. They throw the whole 1%...Only the 1 percent ,that and the third. So, there’s all this data and information. Who knows what's truth with all of that? You know. It’s like you can be a successful entrepreneur. It’s all up to what success means to you. And, for me, my happiness was a big part of it.

BeYou: Yes! I agree. I'm actually teaching middle school kids about entrepreneurship. I can definitely relate.

INYC: My passion was a big part of it. So, I was like alright. I’m not going to be happy at this job anymore. I’m making great money; I’m living high up on the hill. It all looks great. It looks great from the outside. But, on the inside, I knew that , especially after the recession, which was a real eye opening experience for me. In corporate you know, you’re seeing your friends, and they're getting laid off from having these high six figure salaries to going to $400 a week or unemployment, and you gotta keep in mind that you’re living up to those standards. Meaning that you may have a condo that you’re paying 2500 for like I was, and then going to $400 a week or unemployment. And, you know luckily I was able to get a severance but I was like "Am I going to spend all of that here or am I going to make a move to make this make sense?" You know. I don’t need to keep up with the Joneses like "Why if I’m not happy would I go back and reenter that world?" You know.They just took me out and made me feel disposable and like nothing!

BeYou: Exactly!

INYC: So, I’m like. You know what, I’ll take my chances. I’ll take my chances over here. I got the skill set. Let me write down exactly what my strong skill sets are. What network do I have? Who do I know or whatever? That’s what made me develop my first business model. Because your resources…My cousin went to Morehouse, studied business and he had this chart they developed that was a life changer; before I even got into corporate. But, I always held it with me. He had this relationship chart. 'Who you knew inside of your field and outside of your field. Who your associates were and how to bridge the gap, how it was. Was it a burnt bridge?' So forth and so on and that helped me with creating my business model too. It was just like, 'who can I reach out to. What can this person do for me? What can I do for them in exchange?'

BeYou: Yes! It’s an exchange!

INYC: Yes! Because you know sometimes the money isn’t there. So, it’s like what do I have that that person can have? That’s the only way that this is going to work. You know, It was just sending out to everyone what I was trying to do and how I was going about developing it, letting them know and just giving them follow ups with how far I was getting. And, it wound up getting me a really big job for this young designer. A little brand called Pyer Moss. I did their Fall 2013 collection. I did the production, not the design. I did the production for the collection and it wound up to be a very successful brand. Now, it’s on Harvey Nichols, Browns, it’s like doing very well for themselves. And, I went on to do another brand after that; Gray Matter and then I opened up a store, and then another market. So, we've been able to...I’ve been able to move. These are opportunities. Once you open that door that you know, there are unlimited opportunities you can have. Everything will fall into place.

BeYou: Exactly!

INYC: You know, I’m never really like, worried…I get stressed out every now and then because I’m a human. But at the end of the day... (laughter) I get stressed out you know. I need to vent! (laughter) But, I try not to complain. I vent. I learned that venting is very important because if you harp on that stuff, you will blow! There’s some things that I want to say sometimes. I’m like. 'you’re going to regret saying that. So you need to vent exactly what you need to say now.' Then you know… (laughter) you’ll see how you feel after that. That’s my process

BeYou: Wow. That’s interesting. When will you be moving to your new spot?

INYC: The beginning of April but more like May. Because I want to continue with the pop up and there are certain setbacks but...like moving into any permanent brick and mortar, there are leases, negotiating, damages etc. So, we’re more for our next brick and mortar. We will continue and are actively looking for another location for the market. We’re doing outreach in Bed Stuy because a lot of my customers moved over there and there are some opportunities there.

INYC: As far as our media exposure, we do a monthly newsletter. So, we’re sending press clips out, putting our EPK out, to find sponsors and to find people like yourself, the bloggers, everyone. No one in particular, you know we’re not just going or looking for top tier Time Out, we want the BK, where we are , give me the BK blogger. Who are the fashionistas? That event with Livid Magazine, that’s what that was about. That was about bringing stylists together. Developing stylists... I’m sorry emerging stylists and designers together to meet people like you and industry connections and build together because there is such an abundance of talent. That’s what that was about!

BeYou: Yes! I really apprecaite your time. It was great chatting with you!

INYC: No problem at all. It was definitely a pleasure. I can't explain how that interview made me feel. It was refreshing. (laughter)

Moses Cut1

Top Choice Models' Moses Sesay Fashion Shoot, Styled by Israel David, Photographed by Khamaali Vernon


Flick the Dial & What Do You Hear?

Today's Music: What the Bleep Are We Listening To? A Conversation with Chet & I

By: Shahzaade Hunter

Flick on the radio, and slowly turn the dial to any popular radio station; the ones with the greatly enthused radio jockey blaring commercials, and voice-overs from today's biggest musical sensations. Now, close your eyes for a moment, head tilted to the side in anticipation for the sound. As you sit there, waiting for something to happen, the static finally stops and beginning softly at first, music begins to play out. In this day and age more likely than not, the sounds to be heard are composed with a computerized beat, pounding bass line, catchy lyrics, and empty words representing the "new culture" of society. “So true. Nowadays, you know a song because you hear it over and over again. It’s basically thrown at you. Everybody’s playing the same thing, and there are only about 20 artists in rotation”, explains rapper/artist Chetamor.

Walk through areas often populated by the younger crowd, and the musical waves streaming from their portable devices begins to blend together in a bland mixture of words, and loud music that will rarely cause us to feel something from within. It might be fun to dance to, and have a pleasing beat that isn’t difficult or over-complicated, but I’m often left wondering, where's the substance? What the bleep am I listening to? “Well, today, the content doesn’t matter. It’s about what artist can be most shocking. It’s just entertainment. The new stuff is lighter because it was created to be more vibrant. All in fun. I remember when I saw my mother dancing to 'Big Pimping' by Jay Z. That was cool but weird at the same time", says rapper/artist Chetamor.

All human beings are born with a need to bond with our fellow man. It’s why we are social creatures. We need to understand the world around us, and as a result we need to understand the people around us. As we form interconnected relationships and dynamics, from a social standpoint, how those around us are influenced by the world, will be proxy.


Rapper/Artist Chetamor Speaks the Truth about Today's Music, Photographed by Syrah Scott

As one of the oldest and purest forms of self expression, for as long as we’ve been able to forge instruments, music has been a living, breathing, source of life. With the ability to harness and create sound, it’s become an extension of what we believe in many different forms. People have, and will continue to, build an identity around a specific sound. It becomes a personification of self, a movement. From rock, to punk, to reggae, and everything in between, there’s a beauty in the way the undercurrent of a song can bring so many people together, stretching across societal boundaries, race, color and creed. I remember as a kid, sitting on the kitchen floor, watching as my mom danced around the room, singing and wiggling to whatever record had suited life at the time. The sounds of Sam Cooke, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Elvis were the background to many childhood memories. A voice crooning along, carrying with it the weight of another person’s journey, struggle, life experience. As the music would play aloud, I wouldn’t always understand, or be able to feel the same pain, but it opened my eyes up to see beyond myself and feel empathy for my fellow people. "Exactly! And that kind of music lasts. Back then there was no other blueprint, so you could do whatever you wanted. Now, in mainstream music you have to sound like someone else. There is a formula. What worked years ago, won't really fit the current vibe of society; unless you are an indie artist or popular-- then you can do your own thing. A lot of new rappers want to be like Jay Z though. He's like Ali in their book. But, what I've learned is that people that have longevity in the music industry are the people who stay true to themselves. Some artists change so much to adapt to the current atmosphere. If you're yourself, you'll be fine and people will be able to relate to your vibe", Chetamor explains.


Rapper/Artist Chetamor, Photographed by Syrah Scott

The melodic trappings of today's mainstream music is not exactly encouraging, compassionate, or promoting positivity, and the scope of music that is generally promoted is very narrow. Unless effort is made to look for “underground” or indie music, its easy to fall into a certain mindset, and outlook on life, and then stay there. "True. Most rappers believe that it's just entertainment. A business to make money. They are looking at the game as if it's a hustle. They are not looking at how it effects people. Rappers like 50 Cent talk about how they grew up and what they experienced in their songs. On the other hand, Kendrick Lamar sees it different. He actually feels a responsibility to music, and it is reflective in his songs. What's popular is not always good. In mainstream music, it's about whatever is working... people must know what's an illusion and what is real", utters Chetamor.

It is a well known fact that American society is one of consumerism, and one’s sense of worth is placed on an individual's ability to acquire or possess. We are taught, both directly, and indirectly, that materialistic goals will bring happiness, and a sense of satisfaction. The music industry, and the specific sounds they strategically push out fails to place importance on humanity, and the importance of maintaining it in a rapidly changing society.

Imagine if you will, if every artist topping the billboard charts, produced a song that focused on the compassion, fragility, and love that makes up the human experience. Not the artificial emotions, of fleeting pleasure in short lived flings, or fast cars, and even anger at the world, of which there is plenty. The influence of music is far reaching. It allows us to see a different side of the human experience, what it means to live from someone else’s eyes. The most influential performers have always drawn from personal experiences to connect with a wider audience, an authentic sound strikes a chord in all of us. If there was a little extra push, talk of love for our fellow brothers, communities, even ourselves, maybe the world would make a little more sense. If for a moment, we could all just see outside of ourselves, and just even acknowledge each other, maybe we wouldn’t be so quick to judge and dismiss.

Underground artist’s struggle to get their voices heard, to prove that their experience does matter, and they do have something to say; as a result the hunger is still there. There’s a rawness to the words, because it hasn’t been taken apart, and rinsed through different channels to be deemed marketable. "You got it! I'm an indie artist, and I don't feel the pressure to conform. I enjoy what I do and evolve at my own pace. Since I've started, I changed up a bit. But, this change is with my own stride. It feels comfortable to me. I'm just putting in the necessary legwork and practicing patience while on my journey. I'm doing what feels right for me and if it fits the current music wave, that's great", affirms Chetamor.

As a community we need to come together to support our local artists, and instill a support system so that they’ll continue to follow their dreams. We need to make sure that self- expression, and individuality remains a developmental milestone. Without the words, or the knowledge on how to express it, art, music, life will fade to bleakness, and conformity. To look at someone and just say, “yes I do hear you, and yes you do matter.” can make such a difference in a persons life. And, until we begin to do so, or at least support the musicians who spread that message, the future doesn’t look too bright.


The #BeYou Campaign China Team, Beijing, China

"Not the Double Bell Again"... A Child's Perspective on China's Environment

By: Angela Tai

A seventh grade teacher asked a group of twenty-two students at Western Academy of Beijing, “What are the symbols of Beijing? Air pollution”, the students uttered. – there was a moment of silence. Children who have never visited or lived in China would have probably responded with more monumental landmarks or events such as the 2008 Olympics, Great Wall, The Forbidden City, or even Tian An Men Square. However, for those of us that have to experience this sort of lifestyle day in and day out, it is clear that the topic of air pollution is very concerning and severe, to say the least.


Smog in the Air, Beijing, China, Photographed by 9th Grader HeeJung Choi

Grey skies and choking air is the reality and normalcy for people living in Beijing. We wake up to this sort of thing every day. Pollution is expected and blue skies are a rare "treat" that residents witness once in a blue moon. “Beijing's pollution and the dull, smoggy sky make it difficult for me to enjoy my day,” said Yani, a current 9th grade student at WAB. As a student living in Beijing, it is a daily routine to check the air quality readings. In order for us to participate in outdoor activities, the atmosphere must be favorable. Wearing white gas masks is a very common fashion trend for people especially in the winter, when pollution levels surpass the scale (mainly PM2.5 on the Air Quality Index).

What exactly is PM2.5? It stands for particulate matter, describing the microscopic solid and liquid particles in the air that can easily travel through our bodies. Not only will short exposure to these particles cause irritation in facial areas, coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath; long exposures will, in fact, increase the possibility of getting asthma and heart disease. Considering these potential health issues and children’s particular sensitivity to PM2.5, our school Western Academy of Beijing has implemented a strict policy towards pollution levels and restricting activities. When the air quality level is above 250, all outdoor activities will be either canceled or moved inside for all students from nursery through middle school. For high school students, activities will be moved inside if levels are above 300. Just the other day, the lunch bell rang twice (meaning that the pollution levels are too high for outdoor activities) while walking through the elementary building. The kids did not rush out of classrooms like they usually do on a beautiful day. Instead their movements were slow and their voices were whiny. “Aw. Double bell, again?" said the students. "But… we were going to play tag.” To no avail…this is a typical day in Beijing, China. Many young, disappointed voices arise in the cafeteria, soon after covered by the voices of teachers reminding students that, “today is a pollution day and you cannot play outside.” None of the kids object, because we’ve all been in Beijing long enough to know the hazards of pollution. In fact, I still remember those days of hating double bells— probably very few compared to what the kids today experience.

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A Clear Day, Beijing, China, Photographed by 9th Grader and Team President Angela Tai

While we’d like to think that under these extremely dangerous times, people would be honest in their reporting; several cases have proven that some air quality readings have been manipulated to appease certain standards. It was recently reported by The Brics Post that Wu Xiaoqing, the Vice Minister of Environmental Protection is setting a strict watch against manipulated air quality data provided by provincial authorities as “the air quality in Chinese cities is often poor with readings for PM2.5 pollution. It’s sometimes 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the World Health Organization." This news does not come shocking to students and faculty members at Western Academy of Beijing, because we experience the thick, grey matter first-hand. Fortunately, our school has access to accurate air quality readings; many times there has been a huge difference between Western Academy of Beijing’s ratings and Beijing's ratings.

Even though, the “pollution” of phone technology especially in teens is the hot topic around the world, in Beijing, China the focus is on an old-school issue, air pollution. In all, it puts a damper on out-door activities, restricts kids from playground time during recess, and puts everyone’s health in grave danger. We all play a part in the cause of air pollution whether driving cars or by over-consuming products. In order to make a difference, we must start small. It starts with yourself and then eventually it should spread into your communities. Please help where you can.


Owners of Healing with Horses Foundation LLC Veronika & Lennon in Tobago, West Indies, Photographed by Emanja Alleyne

Providing a Comfy Space for the Needy

By: Veronika Danzer LaFortune

"Creating An Integrated, Inspiring Space For Differently Able Children Where They Are Embraced And Empowered To Realize Their Full Potential Through Therapeutic Interactions”

Healing with Horses is based on the philosophy that people can grow, develop and learn about themselves through the interactions they have with horses. The core belief is that all people have the inner potential for growth & self-actualization. When connected and centered, we have a natural, intrinsic way to auto-regulate and live out our true inner nature in a harmonic way. Our medium is a `Horse´ as we practice `Centered riding´, bonded with first the HORSE, and that what is leading us to our true self.

Created in 2010, this non-profit organization came from a dream by its Founder and Director, Veronika Danzer LaFortune. With one horse rescued from the rain forest and a heart filled with love and hope, Ms. Danzer-LaFortune and her husband Lennon created a place for children aged 6-12 from different backgrounds, with varying physical abilities and of different nationalities, to come together to enjoy therapy and creative play.

This community based organization offers children from Trinidad and Tobago, after school opportunities including arts and crafts, music, dance, yoga, nature walks and gardening, sports, and the exceptional eexperience of being with horses.

The healthy herd of ten gentle healing rescue horses allow children the experience of bonding and affection with animals, along with the physical benefits of strengthening and improved balance from horseback riding. Each child, is given the opportunity to ride and spend time grooming, feeding and communing at the stables. The children are guided by the teachers and encouraged to be creative and expressive while enjoying the outdoors, surrounded by nature and the sea.

Healing with Horses offers yoga classes on the cliff, overlooking the bay and the gardens border the horses pasture by the sea. Each child enjoys physical activity which is carefully monitored by the teachers and volunteers.

To find out more about this compassionate organization visit Healing with Horses or their FB page!


Veronika and Lennon Healng the Needy in Tobago, West Indies, Photographed by Emanja Alleyne

Campaign Product Ad

Order your #BeYou Campaign Tee and BeYouBand Today! Ad featuring Campaign Models Jenna Montalbano, Moses Sesay, Ariah, Valentina Julio, and Jordan Stierle, Photographed by: Syrah Scott

Let's Spread Self-Confidence Across the Planet!

Hey Guys! We are proud to announce that #BeYou has expanded to California, Florida, Trinidad and Tobago and China, and currently have nine Brand Ambassadors including Johnny Ly, Shanntol Ince, LaTonya Swann, Benny Escontrias, Coco and Breezy, Brienna DeVlugt, and Meredith O'Connor! Help us continue to spread the message of self-confidence worldwide!

Only $25! Get your very own limited edition #BeYou Campaign Tee designed by celebrity graphic designer/artist TC of RezOnes!

Also, be sure to PRE-ORDER your BeYou Band, made by The Zen Bird. This stylish and reversible headband is a symbol of positivity and aims to spread the message of SELF-CONFIDENCE & UNITY around the world

Email Thebeyoucampaign@gmail.com and include your payment method, quantity, size, and shipping address. Thanks in advance for your support!


We want your input! Email #BeYou to send feedback, sponsor, or contribute articles for our next newsletter, to be released in August 2015.

Thank you for all of your love and support. Together, let's create the best YOU!

Kind Regards,
The #BeYou Team

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