Alicia Harper, Creator of Mommy Delicious

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If superwoman was a real life character, Alicia Harper would be her. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, just like Jay- Z, Alicia “bleeds blue” but for a different reason. Receiving undergraduate and Masters’ degrees from Columbia University in the City of New York – she’s True Blue. Being educated at one of the premiere universities is just the tip of the ice burg for this phenomenal woman. Her feats also include being a dean of students at a charter elementary school, creator of her own blog, Mommy Delicious, featured writer with magazines and online publications, and of course a mommy. Alicia proves that nothing is two great for a visionary woman who has drive and determination.

Excellence was always the standard for Alicia. Being involved in foster care as a child may not have been easy but Alicia grew tough skin to manage the difficulties of life. At a young age she learned not to fail and that if she wanted more in life she would have to work hard to get it. She knew that she would have to become the author of her own destiny. And she did nothing short of it. As a high school student she was awarded a Times Scholarship recognizing her ability to overcome adversities and successfully manage hardships in life. Though she was accepted to many universities, she experienced the greatest feeling of pride when she received her final acceptance letter – from Columbia. This was her top choice and for Alicia a life changing experience.

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As a Columbia student she realized the stark differences in academic preparation when she went from being the top student at her own high school to struggling with the academic rigor of an Ivy league university. Like the Superwoman she is, she worked hard to excel at Columbia – and of course she did. Beyond the academic differences Alicia was able to learn first hand the social inequalities within the city she had grown up in. Though she was from New York City she soon realized the many cultural and social experiences in Manhattan that her friends were afforded growing up and she was not.  She took it upon herself to be reintroduced to her hometown and enjoyed city life with a new lens.

A woman whose personal and professional are connected – her formative experiences at Columbia would later inform her professional pursuits. As a college student Alicia had completed several independent studies working with schools in Harlem and Brooklyn. She realized that she was not alone in her own academic experiences and become interested in the achievement gap. She wondered why some students have more resources and better schools than others.

After graduating from Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology she decided to pursue a career in education. Alicia became a part of the NYC teaching fellows program where she taught third and fifth grade. Observing her classroom, Alicia became aware that her students had little interest in learning until their psychological needs were met. She built rapport with them and learned that they did want to learn and had big dreams – only they had personal issues that needed to be dealt with before they could focus in school. From these experiences Alicia felt that she could be more effective if she tackled the achievement gap from a different perspective.Alicia4

Alicia chose to pursue her Masters degrees in psychological counseling at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was not only a loyal Columbian and New Yorker, but was also drawn to the program for its commitment to multiculturalism and premiere faculty with which she would have an opportunity to learn from.

All of Alicia’s educational and life experiences connected to make her the perfect candidate for the Dean of Students at a local elementary charter school that services students in grades K-4. Alicia works directly under her principle to manage teachers and help them to help their students. Her work includes collaborating with teachers to develop lesson plans using multiple instruction methods and effectively managing student behaviors. Her job is to bridge the gap between passing state mandated tests, supporting the psychological and emotional development of children and staff, maintaining a positive school environment, and developing programs to sustain these efforts. Alicia asserts that the most rewarding aspect of her job is that she gets to help so many students directly and indirectly through consulting with teachers, staff, and parents.

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As if that wasn’t enough, Alicia is also Mommy Number 1 to a “rambunctious” 6-year-old son – Aiden. Life as a single mom may not be easy but Alicia manages it with style, grace, and a whole lot of love. Alicia is able to manage mommydom in addition to her professional obligations by prioritizing – a method that has admittedly kept her sane. She describes having a routing for both her and Aiden that supports his growth and development including participation in activities of his choice and also allows her to be a successful career woman and person! Of course she always makes time for mommy-son time including fun weekend activities exploring New York City together and awesome vacation getaways. Alicia enjoys the opportunity for them both to enjoy first time experiences with each other. She also acknowledges how her and Aiden have grown together – a blessing for them both.

Alicia has become more comfortable in her role as mommy, some of which might be attributed to her decision a few years ago to give her own life new meaning. She had always dreamed of becoming a freelance writer and as a new mom actively began to think about how she might do this. While in the gym she decided to create her own blog as a way to express herself. Though mommydom was an experience that she knew first hand she did not want that to be the sole focus. Motherhood was one of her roles but not her only one, so she used her blog to be more interpersonal.

Alicia created Mommy Delicious – a coming of age blog about her life including mommydom and womanhood. Alicia uses this space to honestly share her life and experiences from multiple angles – highlighting herself as a well-rounded woman. There is not a topic that is off limits as long as she has had enough time to mature and grow from it and can effectively tell her story with clarity and purpose. Interestingly, what started off as an opportunity to emote and share her story turned into a delicious cult following. Alicia knew she had something special after being invited to exciting events not only in New York City but also on vacations across the country. Her passion turned into even bigger opportunities where she is now able to run a successful blogging business as well as lend her writing chops to other celebrated publications – an experience she could have only dreamed of several years prior. Despite her writing success, the best part of her blog is when she receives positive feedback from readers who share her experience or feel inspired by her story.

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At Dirty Thirty Alicia’s accomplishments are nothing shy of phenomenal. Describing herself as strong, sensitive, and sweet she has overcome many obstacles to reach her goals  – making her the ultimate U Blush Woman. And it ain’t over yet. In the next ten years Alicia hopes to continue to be a blessing to other people by doing her current work but on a larger scale. These goals include writing a regular column on a larger platform, publishing her own book, teaching as an adjunct college instructor, and opening her own school.

Alicia’s source of inspiration is her faith and knowing that “God will never leave or forsake me.” Aiden, the special boy in her life, always motivates her that anything is possible and keeps her striving for better. She reminds readers that “overnight success” is rarely over night. You have to work hard even when no one is looking; your day will come. In pursuit of excellence Alicia asserts, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” A method that has brought her to the level of success she stands at now by never giving up even when the odds were stacked against her. For her, empowerment means “unapologetically going after what you want and know is right even if you are the only person doing it” – a quote with which she obviously lives by.

Dunnie B. Onasanya, Miss Dunnie O.

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Ms. Dunnie B. Onasanya has blossomed into what Maya Angelo has deemed a “Phenomenal Woman.” Born to Nigerian immigrants, Dunnie’s parents had high expectations for her future, a college degree being one of them. After a spending a summer in high school exploring the luxuries and unanimity of historically black colleges, Tuskegee University seemed to be the perfect fit.

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Exploring every opportunity available, Dunnie was an active student on campus. In 2008 she joined Delta Sigma Theta, a not-for profit Greek-letter sorority of college-educated women dedicated to public service. During her senior year she was elected President of the Student Government Association, a position that exposed her natural affinity for event planning.

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Following graduation, Dunnie relocated to the Golden State of California where she began her career in Corporate America. The looming dissatisfaction of working from a cubicle drove her to search for new inspiring opportunities. Volunteering on various productions with event planning extraordinaire, Diane Valentine and William P. Miller proved to be her life changing experience. Seeking advice from her mentors, Dunnie found that the only way to the next level was to “get up, do your own thing and figure it out,” step-by-step. The learning was in the doing.

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By fate Dunnie met the love of her life while standing in line at a local Trader Joe’s. Soon after the two found their dreams of entrepreneurship a commonality, leading them to relinquish their fears, and dive in head first. As a result, Dunnie launched her very own special event production company, Miss Dunnie O.!

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As Dunnie is an amazing woman, she pays tribute to her fiance, Ibrahim Hasan, for his support. Last year, Dunnie and her beau, put on their first ever Facet Fashion Show: Swimwear and Lingerie and the Facet Fashion Show: Fall edition, events that gave rising fashion designers and models a platform to showcase their talents.

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From prior trail and error Dunnie discovered that event planning is a hands on gig, requiring vast organizational skills, patience, and persuasiveness. “Events are all about consistency and not getting caught up in your last project. Consistency is a determining factor in your success.” With teamwork and communication as the cornerstone of her methodology, working with a small yet strong team has become Dunnie’s winning combination. Utilizing a tool as simple as “group-chat” adds an accountability factor, which has positively influenced team dynamics. Bonding with her team outside of the work environment is an additional factor. Her tight knit team has become more than a company but a sisterhood, whereby four of her six assistants will be in her bridal party.

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The embodiment of a U Blush Woman, Dunnie believes you can do anything you set your mind to and in the spirit of such gave us quick breakdown of “Event Planning 101”:

a. Creating timelines and a schedule with attainable goals are important for business to run smoothly.

b. Having a clear and organized communication system is necessary for a team to be on the same page.

c. Budget – have one!

d. Location is of the utmost importance, your event depends on it.

e. And lastly, flexibility. There are so many things you do not have control over, to thrive you must be able to adapt.

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“When you are a visionary you are robbing society when you stay in a role that you are not passionate about.”  After experiening success with her own company, Miss Dunnie O decided to partner with Ms. JGray of Image Is Everything PR, to launch The Curly Cartel movement! The Curly Cartel was a simple concept turned movement for the everyday woman to empower and support her along this journey we call life.

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Described by friends as a passionate, driven visionary, while Dunnie enjoys watching a good romantic comedy and listening to neosoul funk, she maintains a focus on her future by continuing to do what she loves  while being open to exciting new opportunity!

Brenda Versoza Skouras of Victory Models & Event Staffing

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If I had to choose one person who instinctively embodies the word “entrepreneur,” I would have to select none other than Brenda Skouras – founder, president, and promotional model expert of Victory Models & Event Staffing.

Born in the fashion capital of the world, this Filipino beauty fell among the chosen few whom dared to enter the cutthroat industry of modeling. From the age of sixteen to twenty-one Skouras, stood tall in shows and posed in front of cameras from the New York City to Milan. Having grown up with a love for the arts- singing and acting- the transition to modeling seemed only fitting, plus what girl doesn’t love clothes.

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Returning to the Big Apple from George Mason University, Skouras, like many others, bartending and cocktail waitressed in between gigs to make ends meet. Not long after fate granted her, not the opportunity of a lifetime, but one that would change her life.

It is difficult to say how many people grow up knowing exactly who and what they want to be, although in a literal sense it seems that life experiences act as a blueprint.

The world of marketing & pr was a new encounter for Skouras, interfacing with the “whose-who” of the entertainment industry, working the room at hottest events in the city, unknowingly making a name for herself – the road to professional autonomy was being paved.

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A life long hard worker, Skouras, with the help of a friend, saw an opportunity to bring innovation to life in her day-to-day work. If models can pose with seductive poise to sell a piece of clothing, a product or a lifestyle, how much more effective would it be to bring that proposed reality to life in an interactive fashion. Simply put, why should models only be utilized on the runway, showroom podiums or in front of a camera? What if she brought the showroom to life, the runway to the party – the showroom to the event?

Needless to say this was the beginning of Skouras’s careering in Promotional Staffing.

At the age of twenty-four Skouras had officially started her first company, “Poshability.” As she continued to build new relationships and foster old ones, news traveled fast around town and clients began rolling in.

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They say “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade” and after three years of developing a successful and thriving business with her friend and business partner, their relationship came to an end as did her company. Like many, anxiety sets in when imagining that you would have to start over, but whether it was her small town spirit or big city nature, Skouras was determined to purse her dreams. With a new partner lined up and previous clients and models in her rolodex, SOZA Models was born and for the next four years she worked harder then ever.

As time pasted a sense of dissatisfaction set in. While she put in the work and the man-hours to create a company she that could be proud of something was missing.

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“Victory is near,” the catch phrase at the three day Tony Robins seminar that help shape her future. In just a weekend Brenda found herself rejuvenated. Describing it as “as weekend you could never forget,” she was encouraged to better herself as a person and in turn as a business owner. Feeling empowered and ready to take on the world, the first thing she did was find a life coach, this would help prevent her from going back to old habits and the second thing she did, perhaps one of her most influential moves yet, was starting her own company, on her own, with no assistance and no partner – Victory Models & Event Staffing.

Looking back on things now Skouras has come to realize that she could have done this all along and that this idea of needing a partner or help was just that, an idea. It is often said “only you can stand in your own way,” but as victory neared, Skouras no longer saw reason to question her abilities.

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Confidence often spews from the successful entrepreneur, but to Skouras, it’s all about family – loyalty and kindness. Taking the high road and “smiles always” are her personal mantras. With a considerate heart she treats her staff and models with care and respect, always keeping open lines of communication and earning their trust.

“The universe will evolve around you, but if you are putting in good, you get a good return.” For the past twelve years she has ridden a waves of success and with an earnest spirit and happy-go-lucky personality, like the shot heard ‘round the world,” Victory Models has spread across the globe. Skouras manages a staff of four in her New York office and 1200 models in the US, Canada and London.

To the prospective entrepreneur, Skouras has offered a few pros she lives by:

1. Try not to take short cuts.

2. Don’t be discouraged.

3. Be true to yourself and honest with your clients.

4. Don’t ever get cocky, always be grateful.

5. Never take no for an answer.

6. Do not sugarcoat! (That’s the New York in her!)

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Adorned with the name Brenda, after the iconic comic book character Brenda Starr – a glamorous and adventurous female reporter, there is no question as to why Mrs. Skouras fits the heels of the U Blush Woman. She is Bold in love and work, Luxurious with her classic collection of Louis Vuitton handbags, Unique, having funky fashion sense, Sophisticated in the way she treats others, and Haute with a stylish charm.

Living life to the fullest Skouras believes you can’t be too serious and that having fun is a must. Spending quality time with her Husband, jet-setting here and there are amongst the few things she like to do for fun, but like any dedicated contemporary professional stylista who loves her job, working definitely is at the top of her list!

Jamiese Price, Television News Reporter, Blogger

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Childhood dreams become reality. Jamiese Price, television news reporter, is a one-stop shop in journalism. From securing interviews, to filming, and editing her own pieces, this Jane of all trades is a forced to be reckoned with. Her journalism career started with a mock news cast in the fourth grade. At 9, she wasn’t a polished newscaster but she didn’t let failure stop her.  “I was horrible, but I wanted to be great so bad.” The following year Jamiese had the opportunity to “redeem” herself and from then on she knew she had found her calling. Attending college on a full ride scholarship to Tuskegee University in her home state of Alabama, Jamiese was an English major who sought out opportunities to hone her journalism skills. Her junior year she secured an internship in Detroit where she met a young newscaster who rocked the news station. Jamiese described her admiration for this young woman. “I want that” she told herself and quickly decided that she needed to pursue graduate training at Syracuse University.

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July 2006, Jamiese and her mother made the 18-hour trek from Alabama to Syracuse, which marked the beginning of her bourgeoning reporting career. She described the move as “emotional” with accompanying feelings of self-doubt. “What am I doing? Am I making a mistake?” she asked herself. Jamiese used her fear, anxiety, and excitement to push her to courageously face her dreams. Though Syracuse was a very intense and demanding yearlong program, Jamiese learned the essentials of the profession. Using this journalism boot camp to force her into reporting shape, she bested taking criticism and using it to enhance her skills. The long hours she spent in class and on the job, coming home to a few hours of sleep in the brutal upstate New York cold, all while being away from her family prepared her for a grueling career as a reporter.  During these testing times Jamiese turned to a group a classmates who became her family and helped each other get through the process. She also had the support of her family and friends back home that constantly motivated her to succeed.

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In August 2007 Jamiese’s hard work paid off when she graduated from her program and six months later secured her first job with a station in Huntsville Alabama! Though her first job differed from what she learned in school, Syracuse provided Jamiese a solid foundation for her employment. This “one man band” was able to successfully shoot and edit her own video, set up her own interviews and write her own stories. As a general assignment reporter she covered an array of stories including tornadoes, crime, and everyday feel good pieces.  After a year and a half, Jamiese decided to take a break from reporting by teaching at a community college and working as a policy coordinator for the American Lung Association.

 

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During an almost 2 year hiatus from broadcast journalism, Jamiese felt a burning desire to stay abreast of the happenings in media, fashion, and popular culture. In August 2010 she decided to add blogging to her resume. Jamiese started Ooh La La blog where, “fashion never looked so sweet.” On this platform she lets her personality come out discussing the hottest fashion, celebrity trends, and affordable pieces for the frugalista in all of us. Ooh La La is where sexy meets excitement! The blog invigorated Jamiese but there was still one thing missing. She began to miss the television industry and decided to continue her pursuits to become a premiere journalist. Securing another position with a local Alabama news station, Jamiese is mastering the mix of both her passions in blogging and reporting. A long but fulfilling workday, starts with blogging at 6AM, several hours reporting, and ends with blogging. She might spend her day reporting on a gun trial and come home and blog about Solange’s estillo. Her ability to switch between the two is predicated on her being her authentic self and remembering who her audience is – the perfect combination.

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Jamiese’s future goals include more fully integrating her two passions by becoming an entertainment reporter. Her dream job would be a red carpet correspondent for E news. In this way she can merge both worlds as a multi media journalist – all things pop culture, fashion, entertainment but still using journalism skills. As she pursues her career goals she knows that she must work hard now to play harder later. She often misses being away from her family and friends but uses them as her motivation to succeed. Her mother is her biggest inspiration who taught her the value of hard work and dedication. With a supportive family and solid foundation, Jamiese is empowered to pursue her dreams in order to make them proud and act as a role model to her nieces and nephews. She believes that if they see her achieving they will inevitably know they can too make their dreams a reality. In true U Blush Woman spirit Jamiese encourages others to believe in yourself enough to stand-alone. “Don’t let someone else dictate your dream.” Sometimes people won’t understand your vision because it was given to you. Nonetheless she challenges each person to pursue your passions and eventually success and happiness will ensue.

See Jamiese Price’s electrifying on screen personality!

Préity Üupala, Actor, Writer and Brand Ambassador

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Préity Üupala, the words unique, sophisticated, intelligent and haute come to mind at the utterance of her name – although after getting to know her, daring, courageous and invincible strike a chord. It is a rare find that you meet a person who truly lives life to the fullest, with determination in place of worry. Most people seek answers to the questions that life presents, in the case of Préity, the journey comes first. Beauty is her natural charm, but there is certainly more than meets the eye.

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Half Indian and Portuguese, born in Dubai, Préity’s name, pronounced “Pree-Tee,” is most fitting. After living in France for a year, her family moved to Sydney, Australia, where she continued her education and graduated with two degrees, in IT and Marketing. Following the completion of her undergraduate studies, Préity joined the corporate world as an investment banker, but it was not long after that a deep sense of dissatisfaction pushed her into a new direction. While doors began to close, the universe provided guidance and she began to listen.

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Through her struggles Préity started to the explore the world of mediation and after attending a seminar she began to wonder, “what do I want to do with my life…what is my life about…what is my gift to the world?” Questions she had not previously pondered. In a moment of honesty, Préity realized that her passions lie in the arts, and while the pathway through the corporate world provided a safety net, it was not fulfilling.

Spirituality is the cornerstone of Préity’s methodology of life. She recalls the moment of which things begin to shift for her – a shift that began internally. “I think the universe works in miraculous ways, at least for me or maybe because I was making a career change. All the universe was waiting for, was for me to genuinely and sincerely declare what I wanted to do, to be honest with myself, to state this is who I am and this is what I want to do. Once I did that, “boom” almost the very next day doors opened.”

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Over the period of a year, Préity found herself studying at one of the top acting schools in Australia, working as a model, actress and host, and signed to one of the best agents in the country. The icing on the cake came when she was awarded a scholarship that she had not even applied for – one that lent her the opportunity to come to Los Angeles.

Préity was a National Finalist in Miss Earth Australia 2009, where she was the first candidate of Indian or Portuguese origin to be a finalist in the competition since its beginning. The winner of Miss Bollywood in Australia 2009, in 2011 she became an overnight star in China when she was awarded 3 film awards at the Asia Pacific Film Festival. Currently holding the title of Miss India International AP 2012, with a number of achievements under her belt success is a natural occurrence for Préity.

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Her mission is to inspire and empower people through her work and her presence – her work in film, writing, and imaginary and her presence as in her “being.” “I want to use beauty and glamour for a purpose,” spoken like a true U Blush Woman. As Préity is currently working on her first autobiographical novel you can look forward to a piece of literature filled with comedic stories fueled by luck and chance, spiritual guidance and bold adventures.

Believing that “you are who you think you are,” Préity makes only conscious decisions, following her heart and only going where she is intuitively guided. Growing into the woman she wants to be, Préity encourages others to be their “authentic true self,” though this is not the easiest thing to do it is well worth the pay off!

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As an avid traveler, Préity has been to countless cities – Paris, Cannes, and Mykonos all in the last two months. In her spare time salsa dancing, reading, yoga and astrology are just a few of her favorite activities. At first glance she may seem like a girly girl but she loves to plays sports and does not mind getting her hands a little dirty.

Over the year Préity has shot two pilots, one of which is an original reality show, where she will have the opportunity to share her day to day life with the world. In the coming months she will also be on set shooting a film in London.

In the meantime, check out a day in the life of Préity Üupala on her personal websitefacebook, twitter, and youtube.

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