Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hallmark’s Mahogany brand announced that it will be releasing the Jill Scott Collection, a line of new greeting cards with design, sounds and an editorial ‘voice’ from none other than Jill Scott herself.
“The Mahogany brand is genuine, progressive and optimistic – values that are important to me and reflected in my music and poetry, and now, through my card collection,” said Jill Scott. “I was inspired by highlights within my own life – love, marriage, motherhood – in the writing behind these cards, and I am excited to be involved in a project that will give others another way to express their love to the people that matter most to them.”
The collection features 20 cards for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as cards celebrating graduation, friendship, love and support. “Ms. Scott is more than a singer, songwriter and actress – among other things, she is a busy mom and wife, like many Hallmark shoppers who cherish and celebrate the important relationships in their lives, and this card collection is a reflection of that,” said Philip Polk, Vice President of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards.
Ride-sharing technology has boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry within the past decade with the biggest names being Uber and Lyft. Now a new platform, led by an innovative chief executive, looks to stake a claim in the global marketplace. Moovn is a ride-hailing app that is currently operating in 7 U.S. cities and has plans to rapidly expand in both western and emerging markets.
Founded by Tanzanian-born Godwin Gabriel, the mobile application also operates in 3 cities in Africa: Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; and Gabriel’s home city, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania. In an interview with UrbanGeekz, Gabriel talks about teaching himself to code and developing the software to launch the platform. Still, he admits his beta launch was “amateurish at best” and states, “It wasn’t until we received investor backing that I was able to hire and collaborate with a team of seasoned developers to transform the platform into what we have today.”
When asked what his biggest challenges are, he says, “The market, for the most part, is currently being dominated by Uber and Lyft with these companies enjoying the benefits of having first mover advantage with the transportation technology space. However, we’re confident that the global market remains sizable enough for all of us to fit in and play.”
In fact, operating in Africa has been a smart business strategy, particularly with the rise smartphone usage across the continent. It is also a chance to do business in markets that hadn’t been explored by big name brands. “I believe Moovn is changing lives – particularly in Africa and developing markets,” he says. “For instance, drivers earn more on our platform, are reducing idle time and are able to provide and build their communities.”
Gabriel has an impressive track record climbing the ranks of corporate America. He also has an MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Stepping out in faith as a tech entrepreneur, he quickly realized that he had to differentiate his brand to create a competitive transportation technology platform.
Moovn sets itself apart from most ride-sharing applications because it allows the rider to pre-schedule trips up to a month in advance, instead of only being able to request one for immediate service. It also allows different vehicle options depending upon local modes of transportation, such as motorcycles and tricycles in developing economies. Other unique features include the movement of products and services from the marketplace to the consumer and the ability to enable businesses to keep track of their transport logistics.
Andrew Colom, 33, and David Alade, 29, ditched jobs in real estate and banking to start Century Partners, a development firm aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods in the Motor City. The duo also uses the biz to help Detroit’s Black residents build wealth.
What inspired you both to move to Detroit?
Andrew Colom: About five years ago, when I was a real estate developer in Mississippi, I was raking leaves in front of a house before showing it. I was listening to an audio book, Arc of Justice, about Ossian Sweet (a Black Detroit home owner acquitted of murder after he defended his new home against a White mob in 1925). I was thinking about the stories of people who were struggling during the Great Migration, and it sort of inspired me. So I took a trip up here about four years ago and drove around and fell in love with it. I went to David and said, “Detroit is where it’s at. We’ve got to invest.” He said, “You’re crazy.”
David Alade: As a banker at Credit Suisse in New York City, I covered the Big Three auto companies—Ford, GM and Chrysler. All I ever heard was negative stuff about Detroit. Andrew’s talking about artists and potential, and all I’m hearing is crime and violence and abandonment and bankrupt auto companies. About two years ago, I started thinking that it wasn’t my dream to stay in banking. I’ve seen so much inequity in the world, and it’s all tied to wealth disparity. And whatever I wanted to do next, I knew it had to be somewhere in that area.
Colom: We buy historic, abandoned homes and let neighbors invest in the rehabilitation of those homes and recoup their investment from the fund consisting of rent paid by new neighbors. Investors can also sell their homes to Century for cash and inclusion in the investment pool.
Why was it important for Black residents to be involved financially in the rehabilitation process?
Colom: Detroit is a city where there was such high African-American ownership of homes. That got us thinking about bringing neighborhoods back.
Alade: Mrs. Cox, a Black woman who has lived here for 50 years, will talk to you for hours upon hours about the history of Detroit. Within the context of White flight from the neighborhoods, we have a chance to reinvigorate diversity. Ultimately, we can help bring wealth back to the communities that deserve it the most. People who stuck with Detroit through the depths of crisis are really looking forward to seeing how it looks on the other side when home values go up and neighborhoods are vibrant again and abandonment is gone.
Colom: We want to make the Atkinson Historic District, a historically Black neighborhood that has been dormant, active again. They used neighborhood associations to keep Blacks out. What if we use neighborhood associations to build Black wealth?
Earlier this year, home-rental site Airbnb came under heavy scrutiny after black users of the platform took to social media to describe the discrimination they faced. Most noted that after renters saw their photos, which were included in the booking request, they were denied accommodations. The hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack popped up on Twitter and went viral. The company needed to do some serious soul-searching.
“Our mission is to allow people to belong anywhere … and that this issue, the issue of racial bias [or] discrimination on the platform, was a big problem and antithetical to our actual mission,” Christopher Lehane, head of global policy and public affairs for Airbnb, told The Root. “We needed to address this, but to be able to address it, we needed to understand it, consult with the experts [and] listen to people who’ve been on the front line for decades to help us … understand what the challenge was and then, from there, what we can do.”
That aha moment led the company to tap powerhouses such as formerU.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder, along with Laura W. Murphy—former director of the ACLU Legislative Office, who currently serves as a senior adviser to Airbnb—launched a review into the company’s practices with the intention of confronting and dealing with explicit and implicit discrimination and bias.
“What Airbnb made clear from the beginning is that they didn’t want to simply follow the law … but to do that which would exceed what was legally required,” Holder told The Root. “Change comes when you have tough, honest conversations, which I think Airbnb has done; when you have genuine self-reflection, which I think they have engaged in; and when you come up with proposals for bold action.”
Holder, along with civil rights attorney John Relman and Airbnb staffers, spoke with civil rights leaders for input and ideas about policy changes to address the problems and also to position the company to deal with any future grievances.
“The first time I spoke to the executives at Airbnb, there was a palpable demonstration to be willing to have these uncomfortable but absolutely necessary conversations about how these issues arose … and I thought they were interested in solving the problem and not just responding to public criticism,” Holder said.
On Thursday the company is releasing a report detailing its findings and how it plans to remedy the issues that the victims of discrimination have faced. In doing so, Airbnb acknowledges its own lack of workforce diversity, saying that it plans to create a “new comprehensive plan to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.” According to the report, some 9.64 percent of all its U.S.-based employees come from underrepresented communities. The company hopes to increase that number to 11 percent by the end of 2017.
Part of that plan includes implementing the “Diversity Rule,” which mandates that all vacant senior positions at the company include candidates from underrepresented backgrounds before any hiring is permitted to go forward.
An Alabama A&M student started a free lawn service for the elderly and to teach younger kids about community service.
Rodney Smith, Jr., now runs“Raising Men Lawn Care Service” with “about 20 young men ages 7-17.” They cut lawns for the elderly, disabled, and single mothers.
It all started when he witnessed an elderly man mowing his lawn. “It looked like he was struggling,” he said. “I was watching him and it just hit me. I could do something about it.”
Smith asked if they knew anyone who needed their lawn mowed. Friends gave him names and he wanted to mow 40 lawns by winter. He found a lawnmower on Craigslist and received it for free when he told the owner why he needed it.
Smith will receive his bachelor’s degree in computer science in May. He hopes to return to school to earn a master’s in social work. “I want to go back and get my master’s in social work,” he explained. “All of this has made me want to do social work. I love helping people.”
Stefun Darts ate microwave pizza for months on end just to be able to give his grandparents the surprise of their lives. The full time college student and founder of the non-profit Caring Heart Youth presented his grandmother and grandfather with a check on March 20th for $15,000 to pay off their mortgage.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Marilyn Roberts, Stefun’s grandmother said. “To have a grandson like that is truly a blessing.”
For more than 20 years, the Roberts have being paying their mortgage on time every month and were well on their way to paying off their house. However, it would’ve taken another four years to do so, which is when Darts stepped in.
She started out as a cashier in 1985 but now Ann-Marie Campbell is at the top of the ladder at Home Depot. On Feb. 1, Campbell became the executive vice president of all of the company’s stores in the United States.
Campbell, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, graduated from Georgia State University and has a degree in philosophy and an MBA. As executive VP, Campbell will serve as president of the southern division, and is in charge of 2,000 stores and most of the company’s nearly 400,000 employees.
Campbell has received accolades from Black Enterprise and was named one of the 75 Most Powerful Women in Business by Black Enterprise, in 2010. She was also named one of Atlanta’s 100 Top Black Women of Influence by the Atlanta Business League in 2012 and in 2014 she was ranked #38 on Fortune‘s list of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.
Today we’ve got gifts we think any teen would appreciate. Yes, that age group can be a little tricky to buy for, but we think we’ve picked some good GOODS. Yes, I will certainly be doing the “gift card” thing… but I like to throw the teenagers off a bit and actually wrap a gift that scores and surprises them.
We’ve compiled a short list of goods they just might like. I’ve certainly got a little perma-teen in me, and I’d love just about any of these…
SKULLCANDY – CRUSHER – $99.99 (some colors on sale 79.99)
We LOVE the way these headphones look and sound. They come in nine stylish color combos. Crusher brings the sound and feeling that you get from sitting front row at a concert. The headphones’ design features a slider to control the bass and customize your music. Dual ear cup articulation and premium materials deliver long-lasting comfort.
LOGITECH K380 MULTI-DEVICE BLUETOOTH KEYBOARD (Blue) $39.99
This multi-device Bluetooth universal keyboard is simply the best we’ve seen. It can go in between devices with the click of a button (Mac, PC, Tablet, Smartphone). This keyboard gets our vote. Comes in blue & dark grey.
Remember instant photography? Well here’s a modern version of the old throwback Polaroid camera. Exceptionally stylish –the Polaroid 300 instant analog camera is beautifully designed and comes in different colors. We LOVE the red. It’s one of the more reasonably-priced instant cameras out there and makes a great gift.
The Grammy Award winner is partnering with a Detroit housing developer, Alexander Gorlin, who is “noted for his inventive use of space, light and natural materials,” on a potential plan for “prefab housing in Detroit.”
The project is still a work in progress, and Williams and Gorlin have not yet secured the land or permission to move forward. However, it looks like the plan is to create housing out of empty city-owned land using the prefab housing model, meaning parts of the homes will be built in factories and then moved out to the locations.
“I’ve seen some plans that fill up a lot of empty space, with different types of housing, including single unit housing that look like the stuff in Lafayette Park,” said Paul Emery, chairman of the North Corktown Neighborhood Association.
John Roach, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Duggan’s office, said that there is not yet a deal in place for any of the city-owned land or for any development yet.
“The city talks to developers all the time,” Roach said Friday. “As a rule we do not comment on potential development projects unless there is an agreement in place.”
Houston is a destination hotspot, to say the least. From the burgeoning culinary scene, to the thriving nightlife, to the city’s main attractions, it’s increasingly becoming one of the top cities to visit in the United States. So much so, that Houston is already setting the stage to host more than 200,000 fans for the 51st edition of the Super Bowl in early 2017 at NRG Stadium, which is also the home of the NFL’s Texans.
The most important decision when planning your visit to Houston (or any city, in fact) is deciding where to lay your head every night. And while hotels are typically the first thought when making accommodations, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) have been growing in popularity for a number of reasons — namely, cost, comfort, and the family-style environment. These mini-residences combine the chic style of hotels with private rooms and a home-cooked meal.
For those unfamiliar, there are more than 30,000 bed and breakfast establishments in the country, but sadly only about 1% are black-owned. Don’t get it twisted, however — just because the numbers are lacking doesn’t mean that these options aren’t some of the most luxurious, five-star accommodations that you will come across.
Lodging in one of the few, but hailed, African American–owned bed and breakfasts would ensure coverage of all your vacation needs — especially if you’re staying at La Maison in Midtown. Dispelling the notion that “sisters” can’t support and grow with each other, Houston attorney Genora Boykins and her business partner Sharon Owens are the epitome of brilliant, boss women. And they are also the founders of La Maison in Midtown.
Inspired by the architecture of New Orleans, the three-story B&B features seven unique and well-appointed guest rooms (all accessible via elevator) that offer amenities like whirlpool tubs, walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs, bathrobes, Wi-Fi, and great views of the downtown skyline. As soon as you walk through the doors, you will understand the “wow” factor of staying at La Maison.
As you continue on your tour, if you head to the second level, there’s also a 310-square-foot conference room available for private business meetings. Downstairs, a parlor, living room, and dining room area lends to the property’s cozy, at-home vibe and plays host to a daily, Southern-style breakfast.
Building your own B&B is no easy feat. Though the property was built in 1999, it was not opened until 2010. Genora Boykins shared, “For the most part, it was about trying to wait until the area was very well developed, and also just figuring out the bed and breakfast industry, since neither of us had that previous experience. We knew exactly what we wanted to do, however.”
“We were very intentional when we created the B&B [La Maison] and the concept that we were trying to achieve. We wanted it to be a place where people would feel very comfortable and cozy, but also wanted the rooms to have a hotel feel, because that’s what people typically don’t like about B&Bs. We wanted to have the same amenities that you would find at a hotel, so that you are able to find the best of both worlds.”