Africa Jackson is a politics and culture writer from the deep South now living as an international nomad. She is a fervently nasty woman who spends her days offer unsolicited whistles and comments to construction workers. In her spare time, she volunteers by working with at-risk adults and randomly calls white people the “C” word. (It’s ok, her best friend is white.) Her critically acclaimed multi-national lecture series is a figment of her imagination. She specializes in making the best of poor decisions (#lemonade), but doesn’t let that get in the way of her mission to amplify the voices of marginalized groups.
As a Black Chahta scholar, her research focuses primarily on the arts. Africa is a staff writer for Black-Owned Taji Magazine. Her writing has also been featured at Black Girl Dangerous, Role Reboot, and The Tempest. Her articles about anti-Black microaggressions piece and Self Esteem Among Girls of Color have been published by The Establishment. Africa is currently working on her non-traditional anthology about the power of unearthly orgasms as a natural remedy for anxiety and depression.
Her #MustLoveBeards series featured on Taji Magazine celebrates entrepreneurship. You can follow Africa Jackson on twitter @AfricaJwrites and on Facebook: AfricaJacksonWrites.
Or don't. Jerk.
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Get to know a brilliant emerging artist named Myke Archie
Happy #MCM Taji readers! Taji Mag is happy to introduce Myke Archie because we love his work & now you will too.
First of all, we’ve been fans for years. Myke Archie is the Perfect Man to buy a holiday gift from If you’re looking for a unique option this season. Check out our #MustLoveBeards profile features a down to earth Southern brother with a knack for creating beautiful works of art. He is the creator of WorkForce Comics who has been stirring up controversy all over social media. Today’s #MCM is a comic prodigy with a lot to say. His work has been featured by Polite Conversation, All Real Radio, and now Taji Mag. Especially relevant is his drive to make economic autonomy a stronger part of how his fans live.
Graphic designer Myke Archie is on the rise. He illustrates book covers, album art, posters, and logos. This Atlanta native earned his BFA from Georgia State University. Consequently, he is not the biggest fan of traditional education. He prefers to think critically rather than follow trends. Perfect Man Designs, his privately owned company, has lots of fans. The first volume of his critically acclaimed series WorkForce Comics was released 2014. It looks at the crazy ways we think about life, making money, and politics while scratching and surviving in a society that cares more about loot than love.
His work has a certain quality that is not the same as other designers. The style, the stroke, and the scope is different than any comics out there. Other influences for his work include classics like Ice Cube’s film Friday and another favorite: old school Sci-Fi thriller called They Live. Myke invites fans to listen to his playlist of artists like Isaiah Rashad, Yani Mo, Denmark Vessey, and Knxwledge. The man something special.
Support Black Owned Business – Buy WorkForce Comics
WorkForce Comics Volume 4 is set to be released this month. Until then, customers can buy copies of volume 1, 2, 3, or all three on his blog: Perfect Man Designs. Like his fan page for the latest news and exclusive content. In conclusion, respect the man’s grind.
If you’re planning for the holidays and you’ve never tasted Jollof rice, stop everything. Taji mag is giving you another great reason to love the continent. Africa is full of culture, beauty, knowledge, and history. Some of the best food also comes from the motherland. Although a number of West African nations argue about who created it, we can all agree on one thing for sure: it is delicious! If you like Jambalaya, you’ll enjoy Jollof (Jambalaya is actually a derivative of Jollof that came to fruition when Africans were taken from their homeland as a result of the transAtlantic slave trade). All Jollof rice around the world is not the same, but it all started in Africa because our motherland is the genesis of everything beautiful.
You can spice it up with a bit with more cayenne. Furthermore, as much as I personally like adding chicken or shrimp, you can make it vegan by omitting the chicken bullion and butter (substitute with olive oil or vegan butter). It can compliment a protein as a side dish or be the main course. Another thing to note is that everyone does it their own way. Consequently, Jollof rice is simple and flavorful because of that diversity. So, here is a version I’ve made below with my great grandmother’s instructions, because Taji is different:
Total Time: I say about an hour, depending on how slow yuh chop Prep: Like 10 min Cook: 45 minutes (more or less)
1 pound parboiled rice (no other kind, either)
2 maybe 3 large tomatoes, chopped fine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 onion, sliced
3 maybe 4 cloves of garlic
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 large red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 teaspoon white pepper
8 chicken bouillon cubes
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1. Blend together yuh garlic, tomatoes, onions, and red pepper til it gets real smooth.
2. Put in your fresh thyme and white pepper.
3. Add the oil up in there, then put it to the side
4. Fill up yuh pot with 4 cops of water (preferably alkaline, but sick water is fine too I guess)
5. Wash yuh rice in hot (not boiling) water til it come out clear. Drain it real good.
6. Pour alla yuh rice into the hot water with that blended mix you set to the side earlier, stir it with a wooden spoon (any other type of spoon and yuh not doing it right, maybe yuh don’t want real jollof afterall)
7. Put the stove on like a nice heat (not all the way up high, just medium or so) and cook it like for…I say about 45 minutes or so. A good while so the flavors with amalgamate the right way. Keep your eye on it while it cooks and stir every 15 minutes.
This week we are grateful to feature an immensely talented Afro-futuristic graphic designer and brand expert TheOneWillFocus. His work is an uncanny display of ingenuity and historical veneration. He focuses on effectively shaping perception.
We sat down for a virtual conversation with TheOneWillFocus about his work.
Africa Jackson: What is the best thing about being a Black man?
TheOneWillFocus: I’m not sure if there’s just one answer to this question for me, but let’s see… me being a Black man alone is symbolic to strength, durability, spirituality, and limitless potential. It also allows me to attract the type of queen that only a Black man could attract.
AJ: What makes your work unique?
TheOne: My work is focused highly on the uplifting of our people and more so on the Black woman. She is highly undervalued and overlooked and if I have the power to change her visibility via my art, why would I not pay her respect? So, I take an approach to show the Black woman in a way which SHE can be proud of, representing her strength, intelligence, and perseverance through imagery. I call my illustration style Satabu, which is a combination The words Art and Book in Swahili. I made this term simply because we do not have a representative category of art under which Black people create, although other cultures do indeed have theirs. We need our own category, our own sect, that is all our own. Satabu is just such a thing.
TheOne: Honestly, I had no parts in the creation of the Black Owned Business Collective, that was all the work of the always innovative NayMarie, but I was all for helping. When I saw that she began looking for a means to collect business information, I wanted to create a central hub outside of facebook, something that would allow us to no longer excuse our lack of support for black businesses by saying we are unable to find them. Creating OBW (Our Black Web) was a natural progression… we can now search businesses and get directions to them, as well as filter them by business types and keywords worldwide. No more excuses. We can work towards financial freedom/economic empowerment through group economics.
AJ: Why is Black love important?
TheOne: Black love is important because the world around us will do everything in its power to convince us that it does not exist. This creates a need, dependency, and desire to seek out love that does not LOOK like us. Black love is a love that understands, that comes from a very familiar place, and makes the road you are traveling together that much easier due to your mutual understanding of one another. This also allows our children to understand that Black love isn’t something to be avoided, but to be embraced and that with it brings strength to the home and the community. We are a communal people so family is at the center and Black love is essential to our survival.
AJ: When did you realize you were talented?
TheOne: It was never something I realized, but more so was ingrained in me. My mother told me every day since I can remember that “You can do anything you want and noone is smarter than you”. As a result, my talent was something I assumed was something normal that I had to cultivate. I remember being wowed by my mother taking my cousins and I into the dining room, sitting us down with lined paper, and drawing each of us individually. This was the point in which I knew what I wanted to do, but as I started to do it, drawing day by day, the more I did it, the more I realized how amazed people were and THAT was when I realized I had a talent. I was probably about 9 years old at that point.
TheOneWillFocus is currently working on (and super excited about) his upcoming comic book. He decided to push forward after ten years of work, reflecting on his life and eyes opening to the world, as well as how well received his art and coloring books have been after showing them to the public. The comic will go by the name of “Tension” and will feature his character “Eternity”, which can be found on his Instagram. He is also building a collective that we are all eagerly waiting for.
Happy #MCM everyone! This week, Taji Mag sat down with the talented brother Alan King, author of the new book POINT BLANK. Alan King has worked with the Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper. King has also been an outspoken housing rights advocate. He has also served as a researcher with the Center for Public Integrity. In addition to his impressive resume, he is a devoted husband and father. Mr. King has an upcoming book tour, and took a break to talk to us about his work, love, and the perseverance it takes to be an artist.
Africa Jackson: What do you love most about being a Black man?
Alan King:I love being another line in the legacy of Black people. I’m juggling two legacies as a Caribbean American. I’m inspired by the writers that come before me. Writers who are ancestors now like John A. Williams, Clarence Cooper Jr. and Chester Himes. Oh yeah, and Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. Let me throw some women in the mix: Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Wanda Coleman, Octavia Butler.I also love Black culture.
poet, husband, father, visionary
AJ: You mentioned ‘legacy’. What does that word mean to you? In what ways have you seen that manifest in your career and/or personal life?
AK: There’s a heritage that connects us to the diaspora. There [is] rhythm, history. There’s a beauty in our culture. Being a husband and father allows me to pass on the best of myself.I was a teacher. That role allowed me to be an example to my students. I taught a class, where I was the first married black men the young women encountered. This was middle school. They kept staring at my wedding band asking about what it’s like to be married.
AJ: The “wicker” reference from the latest Point blank trailer is indicative of Black culture. Have you ever been discouraged from being too Black? If so, by who? How did you respond?
AK: I had a higher up, during my work study placement, who asked me to read poems, but then said “Don’t get too back with it.” That came from a Black man.I wasn’t sure if I should still read poems. It was for an office party.
But my writer friends encouraged me to do it. They said by me going through with it, it would show him that his biases are wrong.As a writer, I don’t worry about being too black in my work. White writers aren’t asked not to be too white. I feel I should have that same freedom to explore various types of blackness in my work. In Point Blank, more of my Caribbean heritage comes through. Rereading the poems, I was surprised how present it is.
AJ: What advice can you offer to other artists struggling with double consciousness?
AK: My advice to other artists is to be true to yourself.
AJ: Did you ever seriously consider another career?
AK: I’m a Communications Specialist for a living. I’ve always been a writer at heart. There was one time, in college, when I considered being a programmer. I later found out from my mom that she thought I was making a mistake. She knew my passion is writing. My dad kept pushing me to do something that makes moneyThat’s why I went the programming route.But I don’t regret my decision. I’m also open to learning other skills that might mesh with my writing.
AJ: Switching gears, there is this belief that Black men don’t love Black women. What are your thoughts about that?
AK: I know there are some brothers who date outside the race, but so do some black women. It’s touchy to assume why those folks do it without knowing the whole story. I know for me, it was important to be open to however love presented herself. I had no idea that I’d meet my wife, a passionate Nigerian woman, the way I did. I think it’s important to be open to love, whatever way it presents itself. I don’t think someone should be with someone because the community feels that way.
AJ: Audre Lorde taught us that self-care is revolutionary. As an artist, father, husband, and Black man has self care been part of your life?
AK: My family is part of my self care. I draw strength from my wife and my daughter. I hit the gym when I can and go for walks to clear my head. The important part of self care is having friends, people you can vent to when needed.
AJ: If someone were to choose between your new book and Starbucks, what would make them pick up POINT BLANK over a Frappuccino?
AK: The image of the young man on the cover.I purposely chose it because he embodies what people of color are going through in this country. The picture is powerful. He’s on his way somewhere.Depending on the point of view , he could be up to no good or just minding his business. I thought it was powerful how the photographer, Ewholomeyovwi Jeroro, captured him. The young man is in the photographer’s scope much like how people of color are in the scope of law enforcement.
CLICK HERE to purchase his book of poetry and learn more about why we love this Black man!
I know that’s a messed up way to start off the birthday celebration for her. When The Color Purple came out, everyone thought I looked like her. Back then, Black gums, Black skin, and nappy Black hair were the perfect recipe for a depressing childhood. I was all kinds of African booty scratchers, skillets, and midnights. It was one of the things that made me miserable growing up. I only had two real friends during that time–my right hook and my mother. Needless to say, I fought a lot and wrote a bunch of angry poetry. Whoopi Goldberg represented (and still represents) everything I hated about myself.
Between elementary and middle school I got in dozens of fights over the way I looked. My main goal was to make the pretty white girls as ugly as I felt when they teased me about being so dark. I hated looking in the mirror. My mother was a kind and candid woman who reminded me that I was not ugly everyday. She asked me if I thought she was beautiful and of course I said yes. My mother was a striking, bold woman with high cheekbones and mahogany skin that glistened. She would laugh and tell me that I looked like her, so by default I must be beautiful. It made logical sense, but when I looked in the mirror I did not see her reflection. Instead, I saw what kids at school called me–shit skin. I was faster on the track than all the children who teased me. I was consistently ranked at the top of my class academically. I won awards. I earned internships while still in middle school. I was invited to special events for gifted children. None of it made up for my skin insecurity though. It was like running a long distance sprint that never ended yet I still lost.
At some point in high school I announced to my mother that I was too dark to run in the Olympics, so I was going to be a writer and stay in the shadows. My mother was tired of the decade long pity party so she showed me a movie she promised to God I would like. (My mother refused to swear to God). Those were the be kind, rewind days so she pushed in the tape and pressed play. The Associate changed the game for me.
In the film, Whoopi Goldberg stars as a brilliant investment banker whose talent is dismissed by a white male dominated financial world. First of all, Whoopi Goldberg plays the quintessential Black woman. She has a full time job and she owns a rental property. Before this film, I didn’t know Black women owned places to rent out. It blew my mind. One of her older tenants told her as she came home one night: “It’s nice you young girls have your your careers. But when you come home to an empty apartment what do you really have?”
Without blinking an eye, her character replies: “Independence”. I was hooked.
When she tried to start her business, the bank almost denied her a loan, but she risked her home to make it happened. I came from a place where faith was too expensive. From there the movie got better and better. Instead of learning golf last minute to impress a client, she pulled in a golf celebrity to win the client over. She was the original spook who sat by the door. No one could have ever brought that character to life the way she did. She was slick, quick-witted, and dark-skinned. She had the confidence I never dreamed imaginable. Even pre-presidential Donald Trump was following behind her. She had a box of ideas she saved over the years–something i still do today with my pitches. She taught me that rejection is never the end. I won’t spoil the whole movie for you, but just know that I cried during the climax scene. She says what I think!
Whoopi Goldberg was equally phenomenal off screen too. She is an interracial relationship pioneer (as fr as I knew at the time), natural hair advocate, and human rights activist. Like me, she was raised by a single mother. She embodies resistance. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning one-woman show about Moms Mabley. Whoopi’s impact on me was parallel to Moms Mabley’s impact on her.
Before her brilliance graced the big screen, she was a stand up comedian who rivaled the likes of Eddie Murphy and Redd Foxx (for those who don’t recognize those names, that’s like saying she was up there with Kevin Hart).
Whoopi is still a force. Her guest star appearance on this terrible ABC show called 666 almost coerced me to become a fan. When her character flew away, though, so did I. She has worked with undeniable talents like Ernest Dickerson (Good Fences Director), Angela Bassett (duh), Danny Glover, and others over her career. This woman has won a Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Awards. People sleep on her resume.
Before the #BlackLivesMatter movement, there was Rev. Louis Coleman
Welcome back to the #MustLoveBeards series here at Taji Mag! We took a short (much-needed break). One of our subscribers suggested a profile that was quite different than the men we have featured to this point. Our #MCM is the dearly departed elder Rev. Louis Coleman.
We all know that there is a serious generation gap in our community. Much of the wisdom gained by those who lived during the time of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ella Baker is locked away, waiting to be revealed. The power of technology (specifically social media) is often wasted on memes that divide us rather than unite us. Rev. Coleman’s entire legacy was built on defying these norms.
As a human rights activist and anti-police brutality hero, he fought daily to build up the power of young people in the south. When 19 year old Michael Newby was shot in the back by police, it was Rev. Louis Coleman who reached out to high school and college students to offer not only support, but also a plan. He led the Justice Resource Center in Louisville, KY for years. There, young people could receive job training, learn about the civil rights movement directly from people who lived through it, and fellowship with other community activists.
Rev. Louis Coleman was more than a leader. He was a man who took action. Up until his death in 2008, he worked diligently to bring about community change through legislation and protest. He was a great visionary who welcomed folks from all background to join in the cause for social justice. His love for Black people went beyond his hometown. He was on the front lines after Hurricane Katrina. He fought against the wars our young folks were forced to fight.
Dick Gregory once spoke of Rev. Coleman, commenting that “nobody covers as much territory and spends as much time of his life for the liberation of suffering people.” We venerate Rev. Louis Coleman. The work he put in over more than three decades continues to impact people he never even met. We hope to be at least half the advocate he was for Black people.
If you have ever visited DC’s famous Busboys & Poets for their poetry night, you have this man to thank. This week’s #MCM is Charlotte’s own Derrick Weston Brown, author of the acclaimed poetry book, Wisdom Teeth. His talent has taken him all over the country including San Francisco, Oakland, Vancouver, upstate New York, Philly, Seattle, and of course DC. This week’s #MustLoveBeards brother is the always delectable Mr. Derrick Weston Brown.
Smooth jazz made sweet love to classic prose and Derrick Weston Brown was born. Our #MCM #MustLoveBeards feature will remind you why good poetry matters.
He is more than just a nice smile and thick beard you could fall asleep in. Brown is an insightful poet with a passion for education. He has played a number of roles including poet-in-residence, teacher, lecturer, and performer. He goes by many names on social media: Fatback McGristle, Neegrolicious Jones, Nipsey Rustled, Rad News Brown. No matter what alias he sports, this brother is beyond talented. With inspirations like the Black Rooster Collective, Gaston Neal, Risikat Okedeyi, Amiri Baraka, and Sonia Sanchez, his work was always destined to shine. He credits his mother and Black women for much of his success. Let’s be real though, Taji Mag loves this bearded man because of his willingness to be emotional and vulnerable in a world that tells Black men they’re only allowed to be hyper-sexual, ignorant beasts. Word after word, his art is unlike any other creator we have come across. It also doesn’t hurt that his locks and chocolate skin are the gateway to heaven.
Advice for Future Authors
If others want to publish their first book, Mr. Brown has some sound advice. “Have a good support system who can help cut through the insecurities and doubts. Let them talk you down, and keep your ego in check. I actually turned down the initial offer to get my book published. I was worried that people would assumed someone was doing me a favor. It took me a while to come around. My loved ones gave me that reality check that I may not get that opportunity again.”
The publisher approached him again and he finally accepted that the book deal was based on his merit rather than his connections. His story is a testament to the necessity of support in our community. Support systems matter. His experiences taught him that real friends will let you know when you’re being a knucklehead. That’s what love is: when your friends are clear and honest. He admits that he would not be where he is without his close friends, family, and mentors like Dr. Tony Medina (Howard University professor), Alan King (new book Point Blank comes out in November), Fred Joiner (Center for Poetic Though in DC).
What else has he learned on this journey?
Avoid any book contests you have to pay for! That is a trick for them to fund their publishing so they can often be shady. Use the resources/connections that you have as you’re establishing your book tour. Be very selective about your free copies and where you send your book for review.
Libraries are you friend! Get a good relationship with the local library. It will be cataloged and could end up in libraries around the country. Be aware of your publishers’ strengths and weaknesses. How do they treat other authors? Do they have the means to push your work? Are they too big? Does your book fit their format.
Connect with Black women! Black women are the biggest reading demographic. Get in good with the sisters and you are set. They get their children reading. They get their men reading. They get the community involved. Black women are about 60-70% of my audience.
Derrick Weston Brown is currently working on a new manuscript called “Halo of Arms“. It’s not in book form yet, but he is looking for a place this new work can call home. For the people who already know and love Wisdom Teeth, they will feel the growth in this second book. The subject matter has changed. He is less guarded and more willing to take risks. For people who don’t know him, this book breaks some misconceptions and brings awareness regarding vulnerability and Black men. He will deal with doubt, anxiety, and seeking balance.
For all the latest on Mr. brown’s upcoming book, follow him on TWITTER and check him out via ColorLines.
You know what’s sexier than a Black man with a beard and a plan? A humble Black man with a beard and a plan. #MustLoveBeards
This week, Taji Mag sat down with one of Brooklyn’s finest: Thomas C. Knox, CEO of Date While You Wait. What started off as one brother at a table with a game has turned into an exciting potential prospect for New York commuters.
Most people don’t realize that the dates are not about romance at all. These dates are the first few steps to change the world. One question we will probably get from our readers is getting handled from the jump. If you want to know whether he is single, please email: [email protected]
Thomas C. Knox embodies the perfect balance of confidence and perseverance. A conversation with him is a refreshing reflection. Ask him how he got so famous and he’ll admit that he doesn’t really know. “Maybe people just have deep feelings to let out. We are all searching for ways to connect beyond a computer screen or a tweet.” As easy going as and approachable as he is, he won’t let anyone dictate the purpose of his project. In the beginning, there weren’t really any barriers. Every person did it without being solicited. They saw him sitting at a table and approached him. These days, though, the major obstacle is finding the time to make it happen.
Thomas is the kind of man who challenges everything. Equipped with the heart of a weirdo, he has managed to avoid following trends. Reciprocity, integrity, and respect are the core of everything he does and that’s something his parents taught him from an early age. Funny enough, his family has mixed feelings about him talking to strangers on the subway. “some of them are so proud of me and some of them think I am crazy.”
As a 29-year-old man who cares about the community, Thomas is on the verge of greatness. Mental health among you people is an issue he takes very serious. This project aims to address some of the issues while inspiring others to strive for the same. He plans to uplift a generation and deliver messages that make a difference. Date While You Wait continues to grow along with the spirit of what he’s doing. One major goal is to spread the good vibes so that more of us can connect in real life.
Thomas believes that building a community matters so much and we have the power to be a catalyst for real global change. Thanks to the work he has put in, more of us are willing to look up from our phone and get to know the beautiful world around us.
If you’d like to know more or want to join the movement, visit DateWhileYouWait.com or email Thomas directly: [email protected]
If you loved marveling at the regal beard of past feature NESTLE SNIPES then let us introduce you to the man who made the pomade that made us gush over that beautiful beard.
Gilbert Mathews, creator of the high quality, all natural product line Noir Classic is today’s #MustLoveBeards feature. This South Carolina family man is passionate, purpose-driven, and prosperous. In his adult life, he has almost always rocked a stunning beard. When he started in management years ago as a teenager, he was looked down on for rocking a beard. Black men already have to deal with racism in the workplace. Gilbert felt uneasy about expressing his aesthetic preference in the office because of the negative reactions from colleagues and supervisors. Eventually he cut his beard. Over time it grew back along with his resolve. Rather then continue feeling professionally insecure, he taught himself more about grooming. It was difficult to find products that worked for him. Non-Black bearded men would suggest waxes that dried out his hair. He started realizing that others were struggling with the same issues. Just like many other great inventors, Gilbert Matthews created Noir Classic to address a need.
Noir Classic offers Black men natural products with healthy ingredients made specifically for coarse, curly, and thick hair. The following products are available for purchase:
ManWash– Our sulfate free, pH balanced shampoo and body wash. Conditioner– pH balanced, moisturizing and light weight. Pomade– Vegan and can be used for waves, curls and to tame beards.You can even apply some to your hands to fight ash.
The sulfate free shampoo and body wash are great. These cleansers clean our skin and hair a bit too well, stripping them of the natural oils they need to remain soft and moisturized. Moisture rich conditioners made of natural ingredients that restore moisture and give our hair and beards some sheen. The conditioner will help your beard look fuller and shinier in 1 wash. Bet. Natural moisture sealing pomade with Jamaican black castor oil. Jamaican black castor oil is great for thinning hair lines, as it helps naturally reverse hair loss. You can also purchase the FULL SET here.
All of products from Noir Classic are VEGAN, paraben-free, dye-free, and detergent-free with ingredients you can pronounce.
Through Instagram and barbershop talks, Gilbert Mathews is teaching Black men how to take care of their beards naturally while supporting a Black owned business. he is changing the face of male hair care and helping to give more Black men the confidence to rock their beards. We are created from the earth, so we use all the products from earth. From an environmental standpoint, natural products are key to sustainability. In growing my beard, I searched for natural products.
MAKING MOVES FOR THE FAMILY
Gilbert talks about the importance of being an example for his children and being the type of man his wife is happy to be with. As he reflects on life before and after being married at 22, he realizes that his wife has made him a stronger businessman.. “When I was younger it was all about me. I moved to the top in my career, but as I got older and started having children I realized that the world doesn’t revolve around me. We are interdependent. My children made that clear. My wife reminds me of that when I see her shine. Now I am more engaged in helping other Black men. Black male hair care is still a niche. Black women have led the way and we have to do the same. I have gained a sense of selflessness and peace of mind through this process.” As a man who loves his family dearly, Gilbert invests time into making sure his customers are happy. Any good business man knows that treating people well leads to great results.He noted that Black men have insecurities no matter how hard they are taught to hide it. “Our head may be shaped funny, we worry about feeling vulnerable–and men who don’t use my product may have dry or patchy beards–Noir Classic is a step towards a more confident man. That confidence leads to success and I want all of my brothers to succeed.“
“Before trying Noir Classic Pomade, I had a hard time growing out my beard. I have tried numerous other beard oils that weren’t generated towards men of color. I experienced the dreaded “patchy beard” and searched high & low for the remedy. It wasn’t until I started using this product that I began to see those patchy areas fill in. It also helps that this product smells & feels amazing! I strongly recommend this to anyone looking to obtain that ideal beard of distinction.”
What tips does Gilbert suggest for emerging business owners? It’s simple: SERVICE. Service to our people is imperative. Service to the customer is essential. Put your customer above yourself and do it to genuinely take care of your people and they will take care of you.
Baltimore is a mecca of Black creativity. There have been an astounding number of artists over the years who embody that spirit. Our #MustLoveBeards profile series at Taji Mag has introduced readers to Black men doing great things around the country. It is only right that for Labor Day we introduce one of the hardest working brothers on the East Coast. Today we had the chance to converse with the creator of THE INCREDIBLE CREATION, Milly Vanderwood.
The Incredible Creation is more than meets the eye. It is an umbrella brand that works with community members to uplift entrepreneurs and help them reach their potential. The organization deals with artist management, branding, culinary arts, and professional development. When young Brother Milly was 12, he wanted to break into hip hop. He was an ambitious rapper, even from an early age. Thirteen years later, he traded in the mic for management. At 28, he is now working with a number of artists doing the behind the scenes work it takes to be successful. On top of that, he opened an art gallery last year and has become a real force in his community. Along with the recording space and a thriving cupcake business, The Incredible Creation gives life. If you’re wondering about the caliber of the artists he has worked with, check out the incredible queen YoNasDa Hill. You can also visit the site to learn more about the musicians and painters on his roster.
Like many entrepreneurs, Milly does’t follow the rules and instead takes calculated risks. He is motivated by the success of others around him and keeping his customers happy. That drive to build up his network means that he is able to create endless opportunities. His aspirations to build his business into a multi-million dollar brand are certainly attainable at the rate he’s going. Any of his 8,000+ followers can tell you, this Black man puts in work.
“I just want to do better for us / by us because who else is gonna do it? I wanna show others that anything is possible.
You don’t have to be stuck in their system or way of doing things”
Despite some initial (and ongoing) struggles to find support, he has made it work. Finding hard working people who understand the vision can be daunting, but he handles the challenge like a champion. One lesson he has learned is that not everyone who approaches you will be capable or reliable. He has had to deal with his share of disappointments, but overall he and his business have grown from the experience.
What sets Milly Vanderwood apart from all of the other people out there chasing the same dream? In his words, “I basically do what I want…I get shit done.” One of his greatest influences is Master P. and it shows. He has a diversified portfolio, he cares about the community, his work is highly respected, and his empire continues to grow.