Sisters Making Waves With Their Swimsuit Designs

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RUE107; A. LEKAY

Have you ever had trouble finding that perfectly sexy one-piece or tantalizingly comfy bikini to show off your assets in the summer? So did a few designers we met, and they say it was their quest for a curve-contouring swimsuit that drove them to start their own companies.

When it comes to swimwear, these sisters are making waves. From itty-bitty, teeny-weeny string bikinis to formfitting, flattering one-pieces and everything in between, The Root has a list of nine bathing-suit designers who offer something for all shapes and sizes.

1. Tennille McMillan

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Nakimuli swimsuit (M. JONES IMAGING)

Tennille McMillan began designing bathing suits in 2012 after fans of her clothing line, Nakimuli, wanted more from the Brooklyn, N.Y.-born and -bred designer. Her suits favor African-inspired prints, and she tells The Root that she has just started designing her own patterns, too, which come in all shapes and sizes. The 34-year-old designer says that Erykah Badu wears her line, as does Danielle Brooks from Orange Is the New Black.

2. Desiree D’Aguiar

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BRANDSXBROTHERS FOR WINIFRED TAYLOR

Designer Desiree D’Aguiar does only one thing: swimwear. The 25-year-old started her Winifred Taylor label last year. Although D’Aguiar works in Toronto, where she grew up, the beach plays a large role in her life, thanks to her Caribbean roots. D’Aguiar tells The Root she gets her inspiration from artists, using their work to drive her collection. Her next collaboration will be with Tosh Jeffrey.

3. Altrichia Cook

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A. LEKAY

Altrichia Cook is the designer behind the A. Lekay label. She’s been in the swimwear business for two years. The 28-year-old is based in central Florida, where she grew up. Cook tells The Root that her quest for a high-waisted swimsuit that would hide certain imperfections led her to start designing her own. It caught on with her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sisters, and the company was born. Nicki Minaj is a fan and wore an exclusive bikini in July’s issue of Cosmopolitan. This year A. Lekay showed its suits during New York Fashion Week.

4. Risque Dukes

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RISQUE DUKES SWIM APPAREL

Risque Dukes founded her swimwear company of the same name in 2013. It’s based in Miami, which seems like the perfect location for an über-sexy line. The 25-year-old Army veteran tells The Root that she always wanted to be an entrepreneur and designer, so when she couldn’t find a “selfie-worthy” bikini, she decided to design her own. Her current collection includes bikinis featuring prints of Haitian, Bahamian and Jamaican flags. This year Dukes showed her suits during New York Fashion Week.

5. Monif Clarke

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MONIF C.

Monif Clarke, the designer behind the Monif C. label, is from New Jersey but traces her roots to Barbados, where the 36-year-old gets some of her inspiration for her sexy, bright and tight line of swimwear. She was one of the first to introduce plus-size bikinis five years ago, when she couldn’t find suits she liked that fit her figure. The swimwear line is an offshoot of her clothing line, which started with the “Marilyn” convertible dress and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

6. Kambili Ofili-Okonkwo

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KAMOKINI/’ANUEL MODEBE

Nigerian designer Kambili Ofili-Okonkwo came up with idea for Kamokini a few years ago while living in England. The 27-year-old tells The Root that she wanted a swimsuit “that would make a woman feel confident when she might be at her most vulnerable.” So she sketched some designs and had them made during a trip to China. She started by selling to friends and family, then last year officially launched her company. Kamokini is a combination of her family name and “bikini.”

7. Marie-Jean Baptiste

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RUE107

New Yorker Marie-Jean Baptiste is the designer behind the Rue107 line, founded four years ago. The name comes from her own Haitian background. The brand, the “home of confidence and curves,” includes swimwear and caters to all sizes. Baptiste weaves the rich and bold colors of her home country into the feminine swimsuits, which she says are perfect for a day at the beach. Baptiste, who was studying nursing before pursuing her passion, tells The Root that her detour only helped her understand even more how to design for the body.

8. Shakedria Mathis

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MICHAEL DAUGHTRY/8TH & OCEAN SWIM

Shakedria Mathis’ swimwear company, 8th & Ocean Swim, was born in 2013 out of her love of travel and her obsession with finding the perfect bikini. She combined the two into the “travel-kini,” which she says is perfect for the “pretty young traveler or PYT, who loves and lives on vacation in a bikini.” The 29-year-old designer hails from Miami but lives and works in New York City.

9. La’Daska Mechelle Powell

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Ladaska Mechelle swimsuit  (COURTESY OF SHAMAYIM.NET)

La’Daska Mechelle Powell started making swimsuits while in design school in Tampa, Fla., in 2009. One year later she launched her swimwear company, Ladaska Mechelle. The Texas native has designed for the Dallas Stars Ice Girls and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. She tells The Root that she finds inspiration everywhere and makes most of the suits herself. The 31-year-old now lives and works in New York City.

article by Julie Walker via theroot.com

Obama to Unveil Plan to Bring Overtime Pay To 5 Million More Workers

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama this week will propose a plan to extend overtime pay to 5 million American workers who are currently excluded under federal law, according to sources.

The president will recommend updating overtime rules so that salaried workers who earn less than roughly $50,400 per year would be guaranteed time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Under the current rules implemented by former President George W. Bush, salaried workers must earn less than $23,660 per year in order to be automatically eligible for overtime pay.

The president announced his intention to make overtime reforms last year, but the details of the plan have been kept secret until this week. The president is expected to discuss the proposal later this week during a visit to Wisconsin. Details of the proposal were first reported by Bloomberg.

In a blog post on The Huffington Post Monday night, Obama said that “too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve,” and that his proposal would help assure that “hard work is rewarded.”

“That’s how America should do business,” the president wrote. “In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.”

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Bree Newsome Speaks For The 1st Time After Taking Down Confederate Flag from State Capitol

Activist Bree Newsome Takes Down Confederate Flag from South Carolina State Capitol grounds (Photo via bluenationreview.com)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the weekend, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. Her long dread locks danced in the wind as she descended to the ground while quoting scripture. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, who is also from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bree Newsome arrest feature

Earlier this week, social justice activist and blogger Shaun King offered a “bounty” on the flag and offered to pay any necessary bail bond fees. Newsome declined the cash reward, asking that all proceeds go to funds supporting victims of the Charleston church massacre. Social media users raised more than $75,000 to fund legal expenses. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, a renowned defense attorney, has agreed to represent Newsome and Tyson as they face criminal charges.

Newsome released the following statement exclusively to Blue Nation Review:

Now is the time for true courage.

I realized that now is the time for true courage the morning after the Charleston Massacre shook me to the core of my being. I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake in the dead of night. All the ghosts of the past seemed to be rising.

Not long ago, I had watched the beginning of Selma, the reenactment of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and had shuddered at the horrors of history.

But this was neither a scene from a movie nor was it the past. A white man had just entered a black church and massacred people as they prayed. He had assassinated a civil rights leader. This was not a page in a textbook I was reading nor an inscription on a monument I was visiting.

This was now.

This was real.

This was—this is—still happening.

I began my activism by participating in the Moral Monday movement, fighting to restore voting rights in North Carolina after the Supreme Court struck down key protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

I traveled down to Florida where the Dream Defenders were demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, who reminded me of a modern-day Emmett Till.

I marched with the Ohio Students Association as they demanded justice for victims of police brutality.

I watched in horror as black Americans were tear-gassed in their own neighborhoods in Ferguson, MO. “Reminds me of the Klan,” my grandmother said as we watched the news together. As a young black girl in South Carolina, she had witnessed the Klan drag her neighbor from his house and brutally beat him because he was a black physician who had treated a white woman.

I visited with black residents of West Baltimore, MD who, under curfew, had to present work papers to police to enter and exit their own neighborhood. “These are my freedom papers to show the slave catchers,” my friend said with a wry smile.

And now, in the past 6 days, I’ve seen arson attacks against 5 black churches in the South, including in Charlotte, NC where I organize alongside other community members striving to create greater self-sufficiency and political empowerment in low-income neighborhoods.

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Janet Jackson Receives Dance Tribute and Icon Award at 2015 BET Awards

Janet Jackson (l) receives Ultimate Icon Award; Kendrick Lamar opens the BET Awards (photos via Getty Images)

Janet Jackson (l) receives Ultimate Icon Award; Kendrick Lamar (r) opens the 2015 BET Awards (Photos: Getty Images)

Last night, Black Entertainment Television held its 15th annual BET Awards celebration, honoring musical legends Janet Jackson and Smokey Robinson, as well as radio and television personality Tom Joyner with special tributes and awards.  Jason Derulo, Ciara and Tinashe did a tribute in dance to Jackson before she received her Ultimate Icon Award from longtime producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

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Jidenna and Janelle Monae arrive at BET Awards (Photo: Jerome Dorn)

Performances by Alicia Keys, Janelle Monae, Jidenna, Kendrick LamarTyga and Chris Brown, to name a few, also energized the event, and it was no surprise when Best Acting awards went to deserving “Empire” darlings Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.  To see the full list of winners, read below:

Best New Artist
Sam Smith
Dej Loaf
Fetty Wap
Rae Sremmurd
Tinashe

Best Male Hip-Hop Artist
Kendrick Lamar
J. Cole
Drake
Common
Big Sean
Wale

“Empire” Actor Jussie Smollet (Photo: Jerome Dorn)

Best Female Hip-Hop Artist
Nicki Minaj
Azealia Banks
Tink
Iggy Azalea
Trina
Dej Loaf

Best Actor
Terrence Howard
Anthony Anderson
Idris Elba
Jussie Smollett
Kevin Hart

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist
Beyoncé
Janelle Monáe
Jhené Aiko
Ciara
Rihanna
K. Michelle

SEE ALSO: Janelle Monae and Jidenna Perform ‘Yoga’ and ‘Classic Man’ at 2015 BET Awards

Chris Brown at 2015 BET Awards (Photo credit: Jerome Dorn)

Chris Brown at 2015 BET Awards (Photo: Jerome Dorn)

Best Male R&B/Pop Artist
The Weeknd
John Legend
Trey Songz
Usher
August Alsina
Chris Brown

Best Group
A$AP Mob
Migos
Rae Sremmurd
Rich Gang
Young Money
Jodeci

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Teen Kyemah McEntyre, Whose Prom Dress Broke The Internet, Designs Naturi Naughton’s BET Awards Look

Kyemah McEntyre stole the show yet again through a gorgeously handcrafted ensemble designed for singer-songwriter and Power actress Naturi Naughton at the 2015 BET Awards.

McEntyre’s orange Afrocentric-print dress featured a low cut V-neck, open cross back and trumpeting mermaid bottom. Posing gracefully in the dazzling number by McEntryre, Naughton and photographers alike were clearly impressed with the New Jersey teen’s work. Naughton specifically requested a dress reminiscent of her African roots, Pop Sugar reports. The Notorious actress also wanted to debut her hometown’s talent to the small screens, and what better opportunity than the largest Black excellence celebration of the year? The New Jersey teen told Necole Bitchie that Naughton shot her an email explaining her vision for the dress.

“Naturi and her beautiful soul welcomed me despite my experience with Fashion Designing,” McEntyre said. “She wanted to shed light on young people from her community [East Orange, New Jersey] and that she did. I enlisted a local seamstress by the name of Markell Mockabee, who brought my design to life.”

The 18-year-old first drew attention when she posted her stunning custom-made prom dress to Instagram, complete with a ravishing Afro and V-shaped headpiece. Penning a letter regarding the inspiration for her dress and messages of self-acceptance, the blossoming young designer’s gown went viral. Her story was even more gripping after she revealed that she had been bullied throughout high school for her appearance.

Since the debut of her prom dress, she said that her mailbox was never the same, but it hasn’t affected her faith nor her drive. The college-bound beauty plans to use her success to motivate other young girls to be themselves.

“People ask me all the time how does it feel, and I tell them it’s just amazing to be celebrated for just being myself. I consider myself to be an artist, fashion designer, and self-identity activist.

‘Empire’s’ Lee Daniels Signs Multi-Year Overall Deal with 20th Century Fox TV

Lee Daniels Empire

Producer/Writer Lee Daniels (PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW H. WALKER/GETTY IMAGES)

Lee Daniels’ reign at 20th Century Fox Television will continue.  The “Empire” co-creator has signed a multi-year overall deal with the studio that will allow him to develop, write, direct and supervise new television projects under his Lee Daniels Entertainment banner. He will also remain an executive producer of the popular Fox drama.

“Lee Daniels has a gift for telling authentic, provocative stories that are both truthful and wildly entertaining,” commented Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Gary Newman and Dana Walden, who announced the news. “His casting instincts are incredible, whether he is discovering tomorrow’s stars or attracting the most accomplished performers to his projects. As a director, he elevates world class material to even greater heights, balancing heart-wrenching poignancy with surprising moments of levity that are over the top and fun. Quite simply, we love working with this inspired storyteller, and this deal is about extending and deepening our relationship.”

To say that “Empire” has been a win for Fox would be an understatement. The music industry-focused series, which stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, is the highest-rated broadcast drama in seven years.

Daniels serves as an executive producer on “Empire” along with co-creator Danny Strong, Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo and showrunner Ilene Chaiken, who inked an overall with 20th Century Fox Television in May. Daniels also directed the pilot.

“I’m incredibly excited to continue my relationship with Dana and Gary, and the rest of the Fox team,” said Daniels. “I’m looking forward to developing content and finding alternative voices for both in front of and behind the camera.”

article by Whitney Friedlander via Variety.com

Charleston Council Renames Library To Honor AME Shooting Victim Cynthia Hurd

Cynthia Hurd, one of the nine churchgoers killed last week in the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church, looks over a reproduction of the original of the Charleston Messenger found inside the John L. Dart Library in 2002. (Photo via postcourier.com)

Cynthia Hurd, one of the nine churchgoers killed last week in the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church, looks over a reproduction of the original of the Charleston Messenger found inside the John L. Dart Library in 2002. (Photo via postandcourier.com)

Renaming the Charleston library she served for 30 years is a fitting tribute to Cynthia Hurd, one of the nine churchgoers killed during the Emanuel AME Church shooting last week.

The Charleston County Council unanimously voted on Thursday to rename the St. Andrews Regional Library the Cynthia Graham Hurd St. Andrews Regional LibraryThe Post & Courier reports. Hurd worked in the city’s library system from 1990 to 2011, before being given the managerial title at the St. Andrews Regional Library. Her husband Arthur called the commemorative title fitting for the woman who dedicated her life to books and helping others.

“People will look up and see her name and remember her every day,” Arthur Hurd said. “There have been nothing but good things said about her because that’s how she lived her life.”

Hurd was the longest-serving part-time librarian in the county. In a 2003 interview, she said the best thing about being a librarian was the chance to serve others. “I like helping people find answers,” she said. “Your whole reason for being there is to help people.”

Shortly after suspected gunman Dylann Roof took the lives of Hurd and eight others in Mother AME Emanuel Church last week, friends and former classmates from her alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, paid their respects with a candlelight vigil.

The College of Charleston also showed their gratitude to Hurd by renaming their academic scholarship the Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Scholarship. Formally known as the Colonial Scholarship, 12 full academic scholarships are handed out every year to in-state students.

The county also has set up a fund in her honor to continue her work. Those donations may be sent to Charleston County Public Library, c/o Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Fund, 68 Calhoun St., Charleston, SC 29401.

article by Desire Thompson via newsone.com

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