CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY

We’re giving a nod to the originals who look challenge in the eye and give it a wink.

Shawna Gordon

- Shawna Palmer -

Please introduce yourself and tell us one thing that makes you original.
My name is Shawna Palmer—I’m a former professional soccer player and now the founder & executive director of an LA-based non-profit organization called Football For Her. I am original because I saw—and experienced—a lack of representation in female sports and made it my mission to create a space that not only gave visibility to young female athletes of color, but also created an opportunity for them to change their lives, career trajectory, and path of success.

 

You are writing history today for tomorrow's generations. What would you like to tell the future female leaders and entrepreneurs?
It will be challenging. You will be doubted. You will be let down. You will question your decision to be leader & entrepreneur so, so many times.

You have to trust yourself. Be confident in your passion and purpose—know in your heart that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

Let your ego drive your confidence, but know when to put it aside. We’re students first. Ask for help. To keep learning is to continue growing—don’t ever lose that drive.

 

Celebrate who you are. What fuels your entrepreneurial spirit?
I’ve played sports all my life, and the times I felt most confident was when I was given freedom to express myself on the pitch. It’s a direct translation to my entrepreneurial mindset—I am most free without structure; that’s what fuels me to create. Give me a problem, and I’ll make something out of it.

 

Is there a woman in history or in your life who motivates you to be who you are today?
My mom is my motivation for everything I am today. She came from Vietnam to America when she was 16 years old, during the war. She’s been through circumstances most people couldn’t imagine, and has never once complained. She’s a do-it-all, fix-it-all kind of woman and I grew up marveling at her independence, work ethic, and dedication. I feel so fortunate to have had such a strong female role model leading the way my whole life, and I strive to persevere and accomplish every single one of my goals—just like she did.

 

This is a month of providing healing and promoting hope. What words of hope and healing would you like to leave with those reading this?
Prioritize your mental health. Practice your self-love. Your businesses, friendships, and relationships can only flourish if you are able to find the balance between taking care of yourself, and taking care of the challenges life throws at you.

You first, always.

 
Riana Singh

- Riana Singh -

Please introduce yourself and tell us one thing that makes you original.
My name is Riana Singh and I am a Digital Content Creator based in NYC! I graduated UCLA with a major in Asian American Studies, and I am really passionate about amplifying the voices of people around me, especially women of color. What makes me original is my emphasis on staying true to myself, in everything I do personally and professionally, by following my gut when making decisions on what brings me the most happiness, even if those decisions don't always make sense to others.

 

You are writing history today for tomorrow's generations. What would you like to tell the future female leaders and entrepreneurs?
That just because you do not see someone following a path that you'd like to carve for yourself, doesn't mean that it is unachievable!

 

Celebrate who you are. What fuels your entrepreneurial spirit?
Thinking about making my younger self proud by following my gut and focusing on doing what makes me feel most fulfilled in my personal and professional life.

 

Is there a woman in history or in your life who motivates you to be who you are today?
Instead of focusing on 1 specific public figure, celebrity, or CEO, I have found motivation and inspiration from so many women my age who are so empowered and focused on unapologetically claiming space, breaking boundaries, and dismantling societal expectations of what success is.

 

This is a month of providing healing and promoting hope. What words of hope and healing would you like to leave with those reading this
It can feel easy to miss celebrating small moments when you are focused on big wins. Don't forget to have fun along the way of accomplishing your goals, or you will get to your end destination and realize that the journey was actually more fun and rewarding than the final big win!

 

Vanessa Villarreal

- Ashley Keiko -

Please introduce yourself and tell us one thing that makes you original.
My name is Ashley Keiko and I am a saxophonist, composer, singer/songwriter and entrepreneur who has studied classical piano, alto saxophone, and has taught music for many years.

One of the things that makes me original is the instrument I chose to play/master as a female artist in a male dominated arena. Alongside my roles as performer, music educator and music advocate, I expanded my music academy, Keiko Studios, in January 2018 with the grand opening of a store front location that caters to adults and children who aim to explore the importance of music and music expression.

 

You are writing history today for tomorrow's generations. What would you like to tell the future female leaders and entrepreneurs?
I would like to tell the future female leaders and entrepreneurs to stay focused -there are so many distractions in this day and age and simply staying focused on your goals can set you apart from others.

Be organized -when wearing many hats and juggling the many roles of a business owner, organization helps bring clarity and peace of mind.

Do something that you're passionate about -at the end of the day, work is work, and working towards something you're passionate about can make a huge difference.

 

Celebrate who you are. What fuels your entrepreneurial spirit?
My passion for music and giving back to my community is what fuels my entrepreneurial spirit. As an entrepreneur, having a top-notch school with quality programming in thecommunity fills a huge void. Music is a universal language and I believe in its positive impact on the human soul. As an entrepreneur, I'm truly making a difference in the lives of others.

 

Is there a woman in history or in your life who motivates you to be who you are today?
There are three women in my life that motivate me to be who I am today: my mother and my maternal and paternal grandmothers. Witnessing firsthand their strength, love, and sacrifice is so inspiring and motivates me to keep striving on my off days.

 

This is a month of providing healing and promoting hope. What words of hope and healing would you like to leave with those reading this?
With each new day comes strength and growth. My hope is that wherever life takes you and whatever challenges you may face, you find the strength and the endurance to persevere.

 

Christina Degreaffenreidt

- Alyza Bohbot -

Please introduce yourself and tell us one thing that makes you original.
I am Alyza Bohbot James, founder of City Girl Coffee, a brand of coffee dedicated to empowering the women of the coffee industry. Growing up I was passionate about music and performance arts, but when I had developed vocal nodules, I turned to my next biggest passion: shopping and the retail world. That never stopped my love for music, though, and my superhero power is finding the nearest Karaoke bar in whatever city I find myself in!

 

You are writing history today for tomorrow’s generations. What would you like to tell the future female leaders and entrepreneurs?
I would encourage the future female leaders and entrepreneurs to bring both passion and compassion to everything they do. At our company, everything starts from a place of purpose. If we don’t know WHY we are doing something, then can we truly reach our full potential as a company. You may not always get it right, but if it comes from a genuine place, you’ll sleep soundly at night knowing you’ve done the best you can, and tomorrow brings new chances and opportunities!

 

Celebrate who you are. What fuels your entrepreneurial spirit?
Entrepreneurial spirit runs through my blood. I was five when my parents started their business, Alakef Coffee Roasters, so I really grew up in and around the growth of the business. It is their sense of drive and determination that continues to motivate me today. When I came back to take ownership of their business, it was this fuel to want to build something myself, and not just run their business, that sparked the search for what would become City Girl Coffee.

 

Is there a woman in history or in your life that motivates you to be who you are today?
From having an amazing mom who played an essential role in the success of our business, to impactful teachers and professors, to my life-coach who taught me the power of manifestation, and everyone in between, I have been beyond blessed to be surrounded by strong, supportive and successful women who have lifted me up every step of my journey.

 

This is a month of hope and healing. What words of hope and healing would you like to leave with those reading this?
As someone who struggles from anxiety, depression and body dysmorphia, I have worked my entire life to find healing, hope, and grace. In an age where everything is digital, and our lives are lived through the lens of the latest filter, my hope is that we can all learn to have a little grace with ourselves. You are the most beautiful you have ever been. You are right where you’re meant to be. Abundance is all around us if we are willing to see it. Find gratitude in every moment, and finally, live life with purpose and passion!