Brown Women Corner

The Brown Women Corner celebrates us

Our stories, moves, hustle, accomplishments, beliefs and drive.

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AngieStar Photo & Visual

Shout out to one of Become SHE's photographers, Angela Mejia! 

Angela Estrella Mejía is the eye behind AngieStar Studios. Her love for photography really stemmed from the love of culture and urban city living in Chicago; From the architecture, public transportation, and diversity in people: art, food and music--The inspiration to capture all the beauty was endless, and in 2010 she launched AngieStar Photo. From that point on she’s been featured in galleries, has been published and featured in both print and online media, has traveled to different cities capturing food and culture, and consistently shoots portraiture, editorial, weddings, and events of all kinds. Her unique perspective and artistic flare truly sets her apart from others. What started as a passion to illuminate culture and inner city life turned into a career that continues to flourish today. 

1. Talk about the biggest failure you've had with your business. What did you learn from it?

The biggest failure I had with my business was discounting work for close friends and family. I had to learn that true supporters will value your true value. 

2. What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?

First is, know your worth! You will radiate and reflect this in your work. If you truly value you, others will also. Second is, think outside the box. With social media and amazing camera phone technology, everyone and anyone can be a photographer nowadays, but your unique approach and perspective will set you apart. Lastly is never stop having fun with it. Business can get you wrapped up in deadlines and monetary negotiations, but never forget what led you to this passion. Remember there's energy in everything you capture, it's not just about a pretty picture, it's about capturing an essence and moment in time that can never be replicated, your love behind this will always shine. 


Janessa: Multitudinous Entrepreneur

Janessa is the creative force behind the Robbin Patrice brand. renaming her company after her mother (Patrice) and aunt (Robbin), made her want to be even more of a creative force as an entrepreneur. mostly known for handmade jewelry, which one could refer to as wearable art, Janessa now has put her knowledge of hair to work and created, Uzuri (Swahili for beauty) a hair and body care line. As a world traveler, going abroad a few times, she then started Luxperience Travel to encourage other black millennials to travel. As the founder of Essie's Closet, Janessa expresses her art by styling people while handing down "no holds barred" relationship advice & opinions on world affairs--Just like her grandmother Essie did.  

The Robbin Patrice brand allows us into all of who Janessa really is, from jewelry designer to travel, to keeping your head on straight, to looking good while getting ahead!

1. Talk about the biggest failure you've had with your business. What did you learn from it?

The biggest failure I had with my business were two things quite honestly. 

Not researching how to properly do business with those who owned boutiques that wanted my jewelry in it. It ended up being a success for them and an extreme loss for me. It still has soured me to this day.

Another failure was understanding that opinion will keep you from checking a bag. I used Facebook to voice my opinion on politics, race, relationships at one point. My opinions, I assumed, would change the mind of the masses or enlighten them. I learned that opinions on politics, relationships etc won’t grow a brand. In fact it does the opposite. Consumers only want to consume a product not your opinion. A difference of opinion will keep you from checking the bag.

2. What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?

  • You find out who your friends and quite frankly, the definition of family too. Don’t let their lack of or little support stop you or Sour you.

  • Don’t ever be outworked by people who are in your industry. Always stay on top of your marketing and what’s the newest technique or style. Be the brand, you’re your best customer.

  • Say no. Say no to those who want a freebie or feel like you should just give them something because you’ve known them for a long time. Recognize that all money ain’t good money, the goal is to check the bag and not chase it


Just Tea

When Tahirah isn't planning her next adventure she's curating events and experiences with innovative brands from around NYC. Her company Just Tea is a boutique space where concepts, thoughts, creating visually stimulating experiences for others and a vivid vision are shared. Her transformative vision for revolutionizing brand identities and consumer impressions inspires her enterprise.

Her experience working in luxury and international sales has given her the opportunity to develop strong critical and analytical abilities that allowed her to venture into her own consultancy. Having worked with clients like Roc Nations; Young Paris as a lead stylist, she' styled him for men's fashion week and The BET awards. Tahirah was also given the opportunity to be head of the wardrobe for AT&T's activation booth during the BET awards and 2017 Essence Festival.

Just Tea is a creative consulting company that focuses on small business owners within the fashion + lifestyle industry. Not only does she shape the identity of others, Just Tea also takes form in product + marketplace. Expanding the brand into her own skin care + everyday objects line, she has created a one stop shop for other contemporary independent brands

1. Talk about the biggest failure you've had with your business. What did you learn from it?

I think the biggest failure I had with my business was the lack of consistency with my clients when I wasn't confident with myself. I allowed my negative energy to overshadow my brand, and then in which is reflected in my work. It affected my relationships with people. With my purpose. With my passion. I feared failure and the perception I left on others. I learned that if I really wanted things to come full circle for me, I'd have to shift my energy and my thoughts. Unlearn bad habits and get rid of the toxic build up within. 

2. What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?

  • Do your research. On roles, rules, finances, and all the people that have done what you are aiming to do. Study them. Find yourself somewhere in between and go for it.

  • Find a mentor. School doesn't teach you everything.

  • Trust the process. Trust me.


Dr. Carleah East

Dr. Carleah East aka “The Sapphire Woman,” is an
Author, Clinical Psychotherapist, Licensed Mental
Health Counselor and Psychology Professor. She
currently operates her private practice called
S.M.I.L.E. –Solving, Managing Issues w/ Love &
Enrichment. Dr. East promotes the strength of women
in her many empowerment seminars and workshops.
With laughter and love, she inspires women to
reclaim their power, embrace their truth, and design
their destiny.

1. Talk about the biggest failure you've had with your business. What did you learn from it?

My biggest failure in my business was paying for others to represent my brand. Taking the easy way out instead of embracing each step and set-back as a learning process and using that to propel me forward.  Nobody knows you or your brand like one can connect to others like YOU...and nobody can define you.  I made the choice to reclaim my power, embrace my truth and design my destiny. 

2. What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?

  • Always represent your truth (if you bow down once, you'll be expected to bow down again)

  • Don't be afraid to delegate (it takes a squad to build an Empire)

  • invest in self (take time to nurture and heal your Wounds)


Akosua Edwards

Akosua Dardaine Edwards has won awards for Social Entrepreneur of the Year in Trinidad & Tobago and Caribbean Female Social Entrepreneur of the Year from the Global Innovation Partners and Caribbean Center for Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods. She offers entrepreneurial and business support with a message of unconditional self-love and living a life in love and personal power. Akosua has published two books, "Nyabo (Madam)—Why Are You Here," and “What did I Learn Today, Lessons on the Journey to Unconditional Self Love."  In both, she explores self-love and transformation. "Daily Lessons on the Journey – A Journal" is also part of her work.

As a gender and entrepreneurship specialist, Akosua is the founder of the Enabling Enterprise Project which collaborates with women’s business support agencies, policy makers and women entrepreneurs worldwide. The program focuses on enhancement, empowerment, exchange of ideas and experience, and best practices for women’s enterprise and entrepreneurship. Capacity Building with a focus on Self Improvement is akosua's speciality. The NiNa Programme for young women is the first of its kind in the region and is currently in two schools and in the St. Jude’s Home for Girls. 

Akosua’s latest offering, Unveiling – Looking into the Mirror of Self,  a women’s retreat, was launched in 2017 with an emphasis on self-awareness and transformation.

Akosua has traveled throughout countries such as South Africa, India, Grenada, Kenya, Uganda. St Vincent and the Grenadines, Columbia and Trinidad & Tobago working with women and youth entrepreneurs. Being on the ground in communities to see "first-hand the impact of the beauty of the human spirit" is what drove her to begin working in rural communities and developing countries. With great joy, she looks forward to learning from each experience and connecting with those she meets during her travels.

1. Talk about the biggest failure you've had with your business. What did you learn from it?

I was promoting one of the new products to be debuted, the team was in place, one of the best teams assembled, the response from the marketing was positive, the excitement and vibe felt on point yet coming down to the wire and on the date of reckoning no one showed up, it was a total bomb. I was devastated, I believed that all the "t's" were crossed and best practice followed. Money was invested and spent, from a tight budget as well. What I learned from that was my own self-doubt and resistance manifested itself into reality. I learned that even though there is doubt that the faith and action put into the effort must, must, must over ride those doubts or the consequences will be shown somehow in reality. Do the work, have the faith and let it go.

I decided to relaunch with those lessons and the event/product was even better than I envisioned. Letting go is really a superpower.

2. What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?

  • Do the work - the inner and outer work. This involves believing in yourself, doing a new thing even if it feels uncomfortable but knowing it will get you closer to your intentions. Know your worth and take responsibility

  • Be Authentic - show up as yourself every single time and love yourself through it all.

  • Build a team around you with diversity, and people with courage, love and kindness. it seems like soft skills but they make a huge and hard difference.


Janessa Rivera: R.E.B.I.R.T.H. Journey LLC

Janessa Rivera is a first-time author and owner of R.E.B.I.R.T.H. Journey LLC, providing seminars and workshops on several topics of abuse in hopes to educate the community to prevent the repetition of the cycle and epidemic throughout future generations. She is a graduate of William Paterson University, having studied Sociology with a concentration of Social Services. Professionally,  she has worked in the social services field working with the low-income community in the Human Services field, including women who identified as Domestic Violence victims/survivors for 10+ years. Daily, she oversaw the Domestic Violence program and implemented new strategies to attain successful outcomes while working with the victims and providing them resources to prevent them from returning to harmful relationships. She has collaborated with various organizations and nonprofits to provide direct services to these communities as well as being part of local advocacy groups, held positions on executive boards, and been a volunteer to many projects and organizations in the South Jersey area. Before embarking in becoming an author and writing her memoir, Janessa used to contribute to Yandy Smith’s E-magazine, Everything Girls Love (E.G.L)  blogging under the Love and Sex section for a little over a year, providing advice to readers from the point of view of a married, professional working woman with kids. She anticipates using her personal journey as a learning tool for not only the other women who have encountered abuse, but the family/friends that witness it, and the professionals that encounter clients with these issues whether in their past or present lives. Her goal is to provide education on these forms of abuse, prevention tactics and training to the community, and advocacy for those who have already endured it. 

1. Talk about the biggest failure you've had with your business. What did you learn from it?

One of the biggest failures I had with my business is not being able to be sponsored because I was a LLC. (private business) vs a nonprofit 501 c3. This caused me setbacks in my planning because I had to find ways to publish my book with no money, launched a website with no money, create a unique cover for my book with no money etc. I had no publishing deal. No big reserve or savings to dip into. I was just a divorced woman in her 30's with two young children that worked hard to maintain the basic necessities for my family and still had a vision to bring my desires and passion to life. There was so much red tape around who could help you and who couldn't. Big companies already had the businesses they supported and were in partnership with, small businesses said they could afford to give donations, and everyone else in between gave an additional 10 reasons as to why they could help out, not even with in kind donations. All these things I needed, were foreign to me. The people who specialized in them cost money that I just didn't have. Ultimately, what I learned from it is creating my own solutions for the problems already built for me. I became a true student of my craft. I did research, I read, I experimented. I learned how to write/edit/format/design/publish my book by myself. I had to become my own PR team and learn the social media tricks and how to brand myself. I taught myself how to web design so that I could create a website I wanted in the time I wanted. Basically I had to find the loop holes and fill the gaps. I had to stay current on these items and topics because I needed to be the one to execute it for myself since there was no budget for them.

2. What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?

  • Many people have the same barriers and experiences but their journeys are all different. Meaning yours is unique. I hate when people are discouraged to do something/start something etc. because someone else is "already doing it". There is room for ALL OF US to win Queen!

  • Educate your self on your industry. Know the history, know what's relevant in the present, learn the trends and what they mean for the future. NEVER get comfortable with your craft. 

  • You are only as strong as your support and foundation. Understand that sometimes your friends and/or family may not be the best ones to share your professional journey with. Its ok to meet knew people with the same passion and vision. You don't have to feel obligated to include people in your future plans if they don't really have a genuine purpose or role with your craft. 


Tonya Mckenzie: speaker. author. mentor. influencer. advocate.

Tonya McKenzie has more than 20 years of public speaking experience at schools of higher education, local politics, corporate training & leadership, and community relations. Tonya started early in her career with campaign speeches to run and be elected to an Associated Student Directorship position at CSUN and president of her Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. As an Associated Executive Director at the Mt. Diablo Region YMCA, Tonya co-authored the FIT Kids Manual for the Contra Costa Health Services, was elected to the Oakley Chamber of Commerce as a Director, appointed and served on the Youth Council for Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover, MC’d events for Contra Costa County’s Supervisor Mary Piepho and moderated political discussions for past Oakley, CA Mayor, Brad Nix.

You can find Tonya McKenzie highlighted in the pages of Amazing Moms: Parents of the 21st Century. She authored of a memoir titled, A Childhood Memories of Cartoons and Murder. This well-crafted book covers an unthinkable act of violence that Tonya witnessed as a small child and the incredible story of her resilience that guided her through various other episodes of violence and chaos throughout her young life. She covers topics that she passionately speaks about; non-combat PTSD, predatory behavior, generational dysfunction and domestic violence. Tonya advocates for the empowerment of women, the future of our children and disadvantaged youth. She is also the founder and principle public relations consultant of Sand & Shores PR Firm in Los Angeles, CA.

1. Talk about the biggest failure you've had with your business. What did you learn from it?

The BIGGEST failure that I had with my business was to continuously undercharge for my services based on my desire to help everybody no matter how small they told me that their budget was. I learned that it is ok to do that but you have to value yourself and your time with the quality of work that you deliver enough to command what you are asking for. I learned how to get the client to understand that what they are paying is an investment in their business and will be returned 10-fold once the process gets started. Public relations and marketing are intangible and cannot be touched so explaining the ROI (return on investment) is integral to signing clients.

2. What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?

To start in my industry (Public Speaking & Public Relations) you need to know the following;

  • You must have good communication skills and be able to clearly convey your message through speech and written.

  • You must be able to network and connect people and businesses in a strategic way that makes sense for both parties.

  • You must have great time management, prioritizing and timely responsiveness. Many times, things have a quick turn-around and when you have multiple things to do (which should be always), you have to make good decisions on what comes first.


Debbie L. London was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia.  Over the years, Debbie has consistently maintained an innate passion to help others, with a specific focus on spiritual and emotional healing. Debbie considers herself to be a vessel that God uses to relay messages to others. In order to assess how best to help other people, her particular approach is to be led by the Holy Spirit; this allows her to navigate tough issues, which vary in depth. Transforming with Transparency is her tagline because she helps others through being open and honest about her own experiences. She is the author of the self-help book, Residue: Surviving and Overcoming the Stains of Generational Curses and Soul Ties. Her second book is Your Facade is Showing: A Divorcees Perspective on Accepting Relationship Red Flags the First Time! Debbie has a captivating personality, is authentic, epitomizes realness, enjoys laughing and conversing with others.  She is the mother of two wonderful children.

1. Talk about the biggest failure you've had with your business. What did you learn from it?

The biggest failure I have had is two fold. One is not starting to write books when I knew I was supposed to. The other is allowing the fear of the unknown and perception of others to keep me from moving forward. Both of those failures are wrapped up in fear. Had I taken the leap sooner, more people would have been helped and healed and I would not have wasted time being stagnant in my own journey. However, I do believe everything happens as it should. Using those as hindsight holds me accountable to continue to be bold and not be concerned about the wrong things and in line with my purpose.

2. What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?

  • If you are an author please be authentic to yourself. Nothing is worse than trying to be something that is not organic because the readers will feel that. God has told me to throw a whole book away because I didn't believe what I was writing at the time and that would negatively impact the readers. Don't worry about perception and let your heart flow to the pen/keys.

  • I have heard many people say that they want to write a book but for whatever reason they can't seem to do it. There is no perfect time and either you will keep SAYING it or you will actually DO it. The choice is ultimately yours. People need to hear what you have to say. Take the leap and start somewhere. Don't worry about structure or chapters or anything. Just freely write whatever comes to mind and piece it together later if it overwhelms you where to start. Also, using different mediums has helped me. I write in my phone, computer, or actually write in a notebook to get it done. The thing is to start!

  • Everyone won't like your writing and that's okay. You are perfectly made for YOUR audience so don't be too concerned with critics.