Picture you’re boarding your next flight and you immediately notice that there’s something vastly different from the others that you’ve taken. The staff is very welcoming which is customary, but all of the seats are more spacious. You have a seat, strap in, and glance at the menu for the day’s trip and notice that you’re selecting between lamb chops or filet mignon. The good stuff. Now imagine this airline being black owned and operated. This was the vision of Michael Hollis, an extremely successful businessman who set out to create a black owned luxury airline. The late Michael Hollis of Atlanta Air was one of the first African Americans to realize how great of an opportunity it would be to pioneer a string of black owned airlines.
Hollis didn’t get into the airline industry as a former pilot, nor did he have any experience in the aviation business. In fact, Hollis at the time was a lawyer and a very well-known and well-respected man. He became widely recognized at an early age due to his prominence in several youth based political groups. At only 15-years-old, he was named head of the Atlanta Youth Congress, and was later appointed to a community-relations commission that helped address race. Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition and a former Atlanta mayor told The Atlanta Journal Constitution in a 2012 interview. “He was a boy wonder and helped us understand issues just surfacing in that arena.”
Most famous shoe designers are older white men, many of whom mass produce their products. Baltimore shoe designer Tori Soudan is changing the game, she brings shoe designs to life with her own special touch. She believes that shoes are emotional, and not something to be made on an assembly line.
Soudan’s start in fashion began at the age of nine when her mother began teaching her how to make Easter dresses, then as she grew older as a teenager, her mother showed her how to make prom dresses for her friends. While attending Spelman College in 1994, the shoe designer participated in a study abroad program and traveled to Italy. While overseas she developed an interest in shoe design, after witnessing a demonstration by a master shoemaker on the outskirts of Venice.
After graduating from college, Soudan went on to study at the Parson’s Institute of Design in New York, which led to an internship with Tommy Hilfiger. Following these achievements, she earned an MBA in finance from Northeastern University in Boston, so she would have the knowledge to start her own business.
Located just minutes from some of Atlanta’s hottest tourist spots, Atlanta Breakfast Club (“ABC”) is a perfect pit stop. The restaurant, designed like an urban diner, smells of home cooked Southern comfort food as soon as you walk through the front door. The letters “ABC,” an acronym of the restaurant’s actual name, sitting atop an old brown piano feels like a homage to Michael Jackson’s Motown hit. It doesn’t take long to realize that this is a place to sit back, relax and enjoy good company and of course, good food.
Co-owners Anthony Sanders, who is also the chef, and O. Osiris Ballard, the business manager, bring the concept to life.
“I’m good food and he’s company,” Sanders told Atlanta Magazine and with more than 20 years of restaurant experience, you can expect for your taste buds to be amazed. Ballard keeps the business part of Atlanta Breakfast Club together. Combining their work experience and love for food, they’ve worked to make ABC the premier breakfast and brunch spot in downtown Atlanta. “We wanted to be in a diverse enough area where we see all types of people” Sanders continued. Nestled in between the World of Coca Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta Breakfast Club attracts everyone from those born and raised in the city, to metro-Atlanta residents to tourists. But the location isn’t the only thing that keeps ABC thriving. The real showstopper is the food.
History and heritage serve as inspirational, guiding forces in life. Without knowing one’s history, how can she plan for the future or fully comprehend her present? Many of us look to familial history to better understand ourselves and what has brought us to this very day. Furthermore, cultural roots can color our creativity, for they instill in us concepts of traditional and abstract beauty. For painter Tamara Natalie Madden, heritage is a dominating theme of her artwork. This artist’s cultural ancestry not only serves as a pivotal force behind her paintings, but it actually saved her life.
Growing up in Manchester, Jamaica, Madden was exposed to art very early in life. Her mother was a writer and photographer, and various members of her family were visual artists. In an interview with the online art magazine The Morning News, Madden described her early artistic influences: “My uncles were ‘raw’ artists. They were [Rastas], and they sculpted and drew. One of my uncles was actually my very first artistic inspiration.”
Getting into the fashion industry is not an easy task. Fashion evolves quickly and nothing is predictable, designers have to be alert and stay on their toes. Dedication and hard work are just a couple of the attributions one would need to make a name for themselves in the world of fashion.
Those characteristics are exactly what gave two young teens an opportunity to get their foot in the door and turn their dreams of owning a clothing line into a reality. Lucid Footwear and Clothing, was founded by twin brothers Betts and Chet DeHart when they were just 13-years-old. They used the funds they made from their YouTube channel to jump start their brand. Lucid FC fashion label based in Atlanta has gained popularity for its high-end streetwear and eye-catching logo.
“I’ve always not wanted to live the normal lifestyle of working all day and then coming home at dinner time. It sucks. I don’t want to do that. I guess that’s another reason why I do this,” said one of the twins in their Materialistic Documentary, detailing their start in the industry.
The heavyweight champion in boxing, has historically always been one of the most prestigious titles in the sports arena. With the UFC becoming more and more of a draw, boxing has somewhat taken a backseat to the UFC. While boxing continues to try to regain its prominence, there’s one guy who sits atop the heavyweight division and come second to none. His name is Deontay Wilder.
Wilder stepped into the ring late, he didn’t start boxing until he was 19-years-old. Growing up Wilder was an all-around athlete, playing basketball, baseball, football, and he ran track as well in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
But it was a birth defect to his oldest daughter, Naeiya, that led him to his true calling in the boxing ring. Naeiya was born with Spina Bifida, which is a birth defect where there is an incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. Wilder dropped out of college and took to the ring to be able to afford the proper care for his daughter.
Google Brian Atwood. You will find brilliant shoes. His name is plastered on every major high-end retailer’s website: Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bloomingdales, and Nordstrom, to name a few. The wonder of how top designers make it to such a high status is always a query of the fashion conscious. Atwood’s rise to the design world was unique in comparison to his competitors, and he is definitely someone who found his niche. While his path to design may not have always been clear, Atwood has always found himself dabbling in modeling and clothing design ventures, his passion for creating beautiful accessories has become the height of his career.
Atwood shared with Business of Fashion, international retail industry blog, that a psychic once told him, “‘I see you being famous for something to do with feet,’ It made no sense to me, because, at that point, I hadn’t designed shoes. I still have the cassette tape somewhere.” Apparently, fate was in favor of his flourishing career.
Everyone’s path isn’t always a straight line to get their dream job. In order to get there, many people have to go through the process of narrowing down interests, some even take the crappy jobs to make ends meet. I’m sure you know somebody who took one of the good old fashioned commission based, door-to-door salesman positions, just to try to stay afloat financially. I worked several and only for one day, needless to say I never sold a thing! Others have avoided such fortunes or misfortunes, depending on how you view it. And as for artist Dave Kinsey, he was one of the people that wasn’t obligated to do so.
For those who may not know, Dave Kinsey is a Los Angeles based artist who hails from Pittsburgh, PA. Kinsey always had a unique passion for art and design, and was determined not to deter from his interests. After graduating from high school in 1989, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He also attended the Art Institute of Atlanta before making the move to California in 1994 and pursuing his dreams of becoming a designer, while being afforded the time to continue his work as a painter.
Sure, moving to the other side of the country is a huge adjustment, but when your dream job is at your fingertips, it’s time to pack those bags! Besides, trading in those cold, Pennsylvania winters for Cali weather is never a bad look.
Kinsey was fortunate enough to have met a friend that taught him how to fully operate computer design programs. As prehistoric as it may sound to some of the younger readers, computer programs didn’t always come equipped with the software that allowed graphic design. His ability to adapt so quickly from manual, hand drawn design to digital changed his fortune and value to those he would design for. In fact, for that time, Kinsey was completely ahead of the game.
Yonkers, New York is the birthplace of many musical legends in the famed world of rap and hip hop. However, fairly new to the scene rapper, Outasight, doesn’t quite fall under the same category as other artists that come from his hometown, like Mary J. Blige or Jadakiss. But suit and shades sporting Richard Andrew, who goes by the moniker, Outasight, writes his own melodies and light hearted lyrics to what can be classified as hip hop, rap and pop.