Determined to Define Elegance
Jan27

Determined to Define Elegance

Written by Leah T. Johnson/ ColorBlind Magazine  “I’m only holding two photos in my hand,” Tyra Banks says in a serious, quiet tone. “But only one of these photos is the winner. Only one can be America’s Next Top Model…” Moments later, the winner is announced, gasps and screams for joy replace the silent anxious space that existed only seconds ago. Tears are flowing, and hugs are given. A new beauty has been crowned, and is poised to begin her journey as a model. Rana Ellison, a native of Detroit, may have never stood before supermodel Tyra Banks, but she does know a thing or two about modeling. Ellison formerly lived in New York and has worked in the commercial, fashion, and sports industry of modeling. While most people are aware that the modeling industry can be cutthroat and capable of a “dark side,” many have not experienced it as Ellison has. “It goes beyond looks and I saw that a lot of women were hurting. Mainstream media drives out sexuality,” Ellison said, even mentioning that as a model she struggled with her weight. What pained her most was there was no outlet for these women who took gorgeous photos, but were suffering from low self esteem and other issues. Ellison knew that in order to provide a remedy she had to remove herself from the situation. She wanted to create a platform for women, a group where they could come together and express themselves. This desire birthed the nonprofit Saving Her Elegance (S.H.E.) in June 2015.     “Saving Her Elegance isn’t a faith-based organization nor is it the common nonprofit that only wants volunteers…we like to be heavily involved with everyone and feel like a family. It’s a lifestyle,” Ellison said. One of the programs offered is “She Can Be Me” which allows ladies to shadow those in professions they are interested in. Maishunda Welborn, a 21 year old from Detroit, who wanted to be a professional stylist was chosen for the program. After being selected for this opportunity based on a video she submitted, Welborn was flown to Tampa, Florida to assist with styling for a runway show at the You Deserved to Be Loved Summit. She assisted Kelly Reeds Boutique as a lead stylist. Welborn received exclusive tickets to Beyonce’s concert in Florida. Currently, Welborn is finishing her degree in Fashion and will graduate May 2017. True to her roots as a model, Ellison incorporates fashion and modeling, in the S.H.E. photoshoot. Ladies are selected for this high fashion photoshoot by stating in writing what S.H.E. means to them. S.H.E. also offers programs for anti-bullying...

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Managing Money on Her Own Terms
Jan16

Managing Money on Her Own Terms

Written By Leah T. Johnson/ ColorBlind Magazine  A vacant, ordinary two-family flat is much, much more to financial guru Aja Williams. This type of home symbolizes the birth of financial capability- a step above financial literacy. The ownership of this cherished location is the vision for Aja’s Real Life Finances, a business spearheaded by Williams, to work with those who need assistance with finances, making smart money decisions and of course the “B-word”- Budgeting. Her desire to give back stems from a true understanding of personal financial woes. Cutting Back and “Letting Things Happen” Although Williams credits herself as being a disciplined person, the characteristic hasn’t always manifested itself in her dealings with finances. She believes her financial woes early on were caused by a “lack of wisdom.” Williams recalls making the decision to purchase a home at age 22 for herself and her son, Vincent Long Jr.  She worked at Ford Motor Company, drove a truck, and sent her son to private school. This was “Adulting” at its finest. However, things soon spiraled out of control. Her house note, home insurance, property taxes and finances increased and spun out of control within a year  to 2 years. “I recall going into a room in my house and saying ‘Lord, it has got to be more to life than this.’” Moments later, Williams was creating her first budget at age 26 using an excel spreadsheet. Ironically, this is the same spreadsheet she uses today. She used the “Snowball Approach,” to pay off her debt, from the smallest to largest amount. Williams forced herself to shop at thrift stores, avoid going to the hair salon, and to save any money she received. That same night, Williams promised herself she wouldn’t borrow anymore money. Lack of finances resulted in utilities being cut off from time to time until payday. “My heat was off, my son was sleeping in jogging suits, and the next day I was standing in line at DTE and my feet were freezing because I was cold the night before,” Williams recalls. “But I paid my bill, and I didn’t owe anyone afterwards! I didn’t have to go give my mom any money.” Despite an uncomfortable situation, Williams and her son endured and she felt the heavy debt slowly lifting. “Sometimes that’s the problem; we need to just let things happen… you’re not going to die, you’re not going to go to jail… just let stuff happen so you can get to where you need to get to.” The Birth of A Business “Being in debt was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt outside of losing someone...

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Candid Hair Talk
Jan12

Candid Hair Talk

 Filmed By Leah T. Johnson  Starting off 2017 with a new hair video! It’s a candid hair talk! Enjoy!  

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Hidden Figures- Lesson Learned
Jan06

Hidden Figures- Lesson Learned

By Leah T. Johnson/ ColorBlind Magazine  Black History Month and Women’s History Month came early this year. It was completely unexpected. I was ill-prepared, and launched into space via the new film Hidden Figures. This movie gave me an early present in the form of a history lesson i didn’t know I needed, as I watched the story of three African American women who worked for NASA. at the Langley campus in Virginia and helped launch America into space. Admittedly, I’d become a little irritated with the films about Africans/African Americans Hollywood has created and pushed into mainstream for the past few years. Of course, it’s great for the seasoned black actors and the rising stars. but I wondered ‘how many times does the story of the fight for civil rights need to be told? How many ways does it need to be presented in film to prove that black history is American history? Is all this hoopla surrounding black films really necessarily? Enough is enough already. In addition to those feelings, I’m still frightened of the movie Apollo 13- a movie I saw when I was way too young. I remember my heart pounding through the entire film as it was too suspenseful for my nerves. I’d since turned a cold shoulder to movies about outer space. Hidden Figures, however, removed my growing dismay toward black films, and I settled comfortably into the film’s setting at NASA. This movie is about much more than astronauts and rocket ships. It’s about Education. Hidden Figures makes being educated extremely appealing and noteworthy. It makes having a brilliant mind- and not being afraid to use it- attractive. In a selfie-obsessed world where young people run to take the perfect picture in the bathroom mirror, Hidden Figures shows the opposite. For those women running (sometimes literally) to the Colored bathrooms at NASA to relieve themselves also meant putting brains over boys, and it was their brains that made them truly beautiful. Even in bathroom stalls they calculated numbers, looked beyond the obvious math problems, and vied for positions and pay they knew they deserved. These women were the first of their kind as Mathematicians, Engineers, Supervisors, and Influencers on the operations and success of NASA. The film gives just enough details about their personal lives, including their husbands who loved them and were attracted to their wit, perseverance, and intelligence. Considering that my alma mater unveiled its upgraded Science Building last year, It was perfect timing that the University offered pre-screening passes to Hidden Figures, and a special program highlighting the S.T.E.M. field. I brought my dad as my date, and I...

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