Barack and Michelle Obama Partner with Spotify to Produce Exclusive Podcasts

Barack and Michelle Obama recently partnered with Spotify to produce podcasts that will cover an array of their favorite topics with the goal of creating compelling content that entertains and inspires viewers.

According to a recent press release, the power couple will produce under their newly formed production company, Higher Ground Productions, which took flight in 2018 with their initial partnership with Netflix. This will include developing, producing, and starring in the audio voice series. The distribution will be supported by Spotify worldwide.

“We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” President Obama said in a statement provided by Spotify. “It helps us build connections with each other and open ourselves up to new ideas. We’re excited about Higher Ground Audio because podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together.”

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to amplify voices that are too often ignored or silenced altogether, and through Spotify, we can share those stories with the world,” Michelle Obama said. “Our hope is that through compelling, inspirational storytelling, Higher Ground Audio will not only produce engaging podcasts, but help people connect emotionally and open up their minds—and their hearts.”

Spotify is a great home for the Obama’s with its 100 million Premium subscriber base and more than 217 million active users a month.

“President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are two of the world’s most important voices and it is a privilege to be working with them to identify and share stories that will inspire our global audience, which looks to Spotify for unique, breakthrough content,” said Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff in the statement. “Connecting people with original and thoughtful creators—especially those with the ability to highlight underrepresented and indispensable narratives—is at the core of our mission and we are thrilled that not only will the Obamas be producing content, but that they will be lending their voices to this effort.”


Rico Love Gets Passionate About Music, Entrepreneurship, and Values

Behind Rico Love is a creative, visionary and music industry educator that has produced, written, and contributed to hit records including Usher’s “There Goes My Baby,” Nelly’s “Just a Dream,” Trey Songz “Heart Attack,” Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation” feat Lil’ Wayne, and Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams.” He has also contributed to Grammy-winning works such as Beyoncé’s 2009 Best Contemporary R&B album “I Am… Sasha Fierce.”

Rico Love’s body of work is extensive. However, not only does he work as both a producer and artist within the ever-changing landscape of the music industry; he also invests in technologies that provide a greater platform for artist discovery and creativity. 

In an interview, Love spoke about the music industry, creating financial opportunities, and gives advice to young creatives.

Black Enterprise: How do you see yourself evolving as a veteran in the music landscape that exists today?

Rico Love: I am now 36-years-old, which is a dinosaur in the music industry, but I’ve been in the game since I was 17 years old. At first, you are bothered by how easily accessible things have become. When you get past the initial annoyance of the change, you adjust. I have been able to create different platforms for myself where I can add value. This includes adding value to myself through the creation of content for others, developing platforms for emerging artists, and also developing this with a financial strategy in play.   

Financially, how are you able to set yourself apart to either create or take advantage of opportunities when presented? 

I went through some of the most challenging financial times of my life because of my value system and unwillingness to compromise on my principles for a dollar. It’s about having the willingness and smarts and being open-minded to recognize what is a good opportunity and what is not. Even more important is building your brand to be strong enough to fit in many rooms. I can fit in the streets, in Hollywood, and corporate because I can articulate myself in all three parameters. I do not limit myself, but I don’t spread myself so wide that I alienate myself from being able to gain financially. 

Why is community currency important, and as a musician why must you connect and have a genuine appreciation for the communities that support you?

I am who I am. I don’t place a level of importance on things that I do in the sense that I don’t have to tell myself to do things for the community. It is who I am so it is already important for me to do things in the community. The value and substance of who you are is a natural thing. It can’t be coached up.  

What are you working on in the world of tech?

There is something I have in the works that allow creatives to create and build records the same way people create via Twitter or Instagram. A quick form transfer file that allows collaboration between creatives. For example, I start a loop and post it—someone else can join in on the creative process. if a piano player goes to my page they can add a melody to the loop. Musicians are able to watch and join in on the session and create a whole track real time. 

What are three key pieces of advice for young creatives?

  • If you want to do something and you are willing to do it for 10 years for free then that is what you truly want. if you see someone doing something and you see it as a quick way to make money then it is not your passion. Stop focusing on simply trying to get a dollar because even if you become successful you are still pushing the culture back. 
  • Elevate yourself and stop looking for people to validate you and elevate you. Create something people cannot refuse. Stop telling people what you need and starting being what they need. When you become what they need you do not have to ask people for anything. 
  • Who are you? People do everything else in the world and try to figure everything else out but never define who they are. Figure out and discover who you are as an artist, as a person, and as a brand. Once you discover this, remain true to your core value and belief system and do not compromise this. 

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

Spotify is Searching for New Female Podcasters of Color (Again!) With 2019 Contest

Spotify has been making a concerted effort to support more multicultural podcasters because yes, the podcasting world is still majority white male. According to a recent press release, in 2018, only 22% of podcasts were hosted by women, and even fewer when it came to minority women.

Spotify is back for year two of Sound Up, a program that is highly focused on diversifying the podcast landscape, with an emphasis on backing women of color. The immersive accelerator for new female podcasters of color is set up to support the next generation of podcasters by providing education and resources.

Here’s how it works. The press release states that applicants can expect an immersive experience that will help them take their ideas to pilot production. The program covers technical production, storytelling through audio, marketing your podcast, and more, geared to develop the skills and confidence to create a podcast pilot. No prior experience is required. Applicants just need to have something unique to say and a desire to use the podcast medium to tell their story. At the end of the week, participants will pitch for a chance to win $5K and the opportunity to have up to five of their podcast episodes produced. The participants will own the intellectual property to their podcast idea.

Past alumni of Sound Up have received podcast development deals, connections to industry leaders, and production grants to take their concepts to the next level.

The program was launched in 2018 and previously selected 10 women of color from over 18,000 applicants. Last June, the Spotify offices in New York City hosted the first-ever Sound Up Workshop. In addition to the U.S., Sound Up launched globally in Australia, Brazil, and the UK. Last year’s winners included: In Those Genes, which focuses on genetics and the black community, Dope Labs, which looks at the intersection between science and pop culture, and Your Job Seems Easy, an interview show which explores the working lives of women of color.

Spotify is now accepting applications for the 2019 Sound Up program. The deadline for entries is June 21st at 12 AM ET. The program will take place Aug. 12–17 in New York City.


Gordon Parks Foundation Raises $1.3 Million, Honors Kareem Abdul-Jabbar And Kehinde Wiley

A whopping $1.3 million was raised by The Gordon Parks Foundation at the organization’s annual award dinner and auction on June 4. The Tuesday night event, held at Cipriani, honored former NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and artist Kehinde Wiley, who immortalized former President Barack Obama in a presidential portrait painting.

Both humanitarians have been paying it forward; Abdul-Jabbar with social activism and Wiley with his ‘art-ivism.’ The two icons were honored alongside Carol Sutton Lewis and William M. Lewis, Jr., Chelsea Clinton, and Raf Simons.

Kehinde Wiley

(Sarah Jones, BFA Images)


Other notable African Americans—including Gayle King, Danny Glover, Questlove, Amy Sherald, Dapper Dan, Coach K, and Carrie Mae Weems to name a few—gathered to celebrate the famed photographer’s legacy, honor those who carry a torch in his name, and support artistic and educational initiatives doing creative social justice work. Key speakers were Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault and Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys, and Tony Award-winner Sarah Jones.

Kehinde Wiley

(The Gordon Parks Awards Dinner, BFA)

“It’s nice to see that Gordon’s legacy is conveyed to many generations after his passing,” Abdul-Jabbar told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “His photographs exemplify and personify the civil rights movement.”

In February, ESPN reported, that the 7-foot-2 inch tall Hall of Famer auctioned four of his six championship rings for $1.2 million to benefit Skyhook, his own foundation that offers “STEM opportunities to underserved communities,” according to the organization’s website. The foundation is named after a shot Abdul-Jabbar perfected throughout his ball-playing days. The all-star athlete is adamant about serving children “a shot that can’t be blocked,” and auctioning the historic memorabilia, Abdul-Jabbar stated: “enabled me to give back in an important way.”



Wiley is shooting winning shots as well. Across the Atlantic, the famed artist rolled out Black Rock Senegal, an artist residency in Dakar, to bring together creatives, producing in a range disciplines, from around the world, to work together and shift the global narrative and perspective of Africa.

Kehinde Wiley

(Kehinde Wiley, Swizz Beatz, Sean Zanni/PMC)

In addition to honoring these leaders for their philanthropy and humanitarianism, artist and archivists Guadalupe Rosales and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas were awarded the 2019 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship. One hundred students received scholarships for their pursuit of the art forms bearing Parks’s “breadth and integrity,” as the Foundation puts it. Disciplines include photography, art history, African and African American studies visual art, and journalism The festivities didn’t stop there. Attendees also celebrated the 20th anniversary of Parks’ iconic photograph, A Great Day In Hip-Hop. Photographer and 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation honoree Jamel Shabazz, known for his documentary-styled images of Black urban life, recaptured the image with several hip-hop artist who were present for the original shoot — including Slick Rick, Pete Rock, Kool Keith, Questlove, Black Thought, Rah Digga, Grandmaster Kas, and hip-hop historian Fab Five Freddy and filmmaker Benny Boom. The cherry on top of the stunning evening was a stellar performance by The Roots.

Kehinde Wiley

(Black Thought, Kehinde Wiley, Swizz Beatz, Questlove, Sean Zanni/PMC)

The Gordon Parks Foundation was born out of great loss when the notable photographer transitioned in 2006. The foundation preserves Parks’s work and makes it accessible to the public. The arts organization has been supporting artists and funding arts initiatives with a focus on social justice since 2009. Each year since, funds are raised through auction and at The Gordon Parks Annual Awards Dinner And Auction where individuals are honored for their astounding contribution to the arts and social justice. In 2017, the foundation established the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship to support creatives working in the same vein as Parks. To find out more about Gordon Parks and The Gordon Parks Foundation, click here.


Why I May Never See ‘When They See Us’

I may never see When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s groundbreaking, disturbing and necessary documentary for Netflix about the Central Park Five saga, one of the worst chapters in New York City’s long tradition of racially biased law enforcement and mass media.

If I were still raising minor children, I’d be watching When They See Us with them, just as my mother required us to watch the groundbreaking Roots miniseries in 1977 (Her oldest child, I was 17 then).

However, I lived through the whole Central Park Five (Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise) media massacre—and the false narrative of young black and brown males “wilding” through the city that it justified—both personally, as a resident of Brooklyn, and professionally as a New York journalist. I’ve reached a stage of my life where I do my best to avoid unnecessarily re-traumatizing experiences.

I’m not saying I’ll never watch the documentary, but… let’s just say that I’m going to protect my mental health and spiritual peace, PERIOD.

The people who most need to watch When They See Us (in addition to young people) are those who are in deepest denial of the racial injustice that contaminates both law enforcement and mass media—which puts the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of black people, and young black males in particular, at ever present risk.

What made Roots matter was not that it was a revelation for black people (other than us kids at the time), but for white people (including many of my high school classmates) who were ignorant or in denial of the reality of slavery. The same must happen for content like When They See Us if we hope for comparable impact. (By the way, the media currently showering this doc with accolades—and likely to add more than a few well-deserved awards in the future—is the same media that vilified the Central Park Five, and continues to vilify victims of police brutality today.)

As for me, I’ve seen this “movie” too many times. The Scottsboro Boys. The Groveland Four. Jena Six. And countless others too numerous to name. I’ll pass on When They See Us, at least for now.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and not necessarily the opinion of Black Enterprise.


Cardi B. Performs at HOT 97’s Sold-Out Summer Jam

Some of the biggest names in hip hop, including the genre’s reigning queen, Cardi B, took over the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on June 2 for the annual HOT 97 Summer Jam concert. For the last 25 years, the music festival has celebrated the art, sound, fashion, and culture of hip hop along with the black artists who’ve propelled it into the mainstream. This year’s show included performances from top-selling acts like Meek Mill, Migos, Tory Lanez, and a surprise performance from Lil Nas X with country legend Billy Ray Cyrus.

Cardi B. was greeted by chants from the crowd screaming her name moments before she arrived on stage riding on the back of a three-wheeler motorbike. In between performing her new single, “Press,” and other chart-topping songs, the Bronx-born rapper charmed the crowd with her signature snark and commentary.  She also shared the stage with City Girls, her husband, Offset, and rising rap star Blueface. However, the biggest surprise of the night was perhaps when she threw on a cowboy hat and introduced Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X to perform their viral hit, “Old Town Road,” as part of her electrifying set.

Cardi B.

Cardi B. performing at Summer Jam (Photo credit: Jill Chami)

Securing The Bag

In addition to her ballooning music career, Cardi B is securing the bag with a number of lucrative endorsements. Earlier this year, she starred in Pepsi’s Super Bowl spot. She also launched a second signature clothing line with Fashion Nova in May, which reportedly sold out within 24 hours and generated $1 million in sales, according to The New York Daily News’ PageSix.

In 2017, it was reported that the Grammy-winning artist created an estimated $4.5 million media value for Christian Louboutin, which she raved about in her breakout hit “Bodak Yellow.” Following the song’s release in June 2017, the luxury shoe brand received a massive 217% spike in online searches by November of that year.


Black Enterprise 2009 Woman of Power Legacy Award Honoree Leah Chase Passes Away

Chef, entrepreneur, and civil rights icon Leah Chase passed away on Saturday at 96-years-old. Chase was executive chef of Dooky Chase’s—a New Orleans landmark restaurant where many black leaders including Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., Hank Aaron, Ernest Gaines, Quincy Jones, and Barack Obama dined, and strategized during the Civil Rights era.

The restaurant opened its doors in 1941, founded by Emily and Dooky Chase, Sr. Their son, Edgar Dooky Chase, Jr. married Leah Lange Chase in 1946. Leah Chase helped propel the restaurant into the national spotlight with her Creole cuisine cooking and emphasis on showcasing black art and music in the establishment.

Dooky Chase’s was shuttered for two years in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After a rebuild and assistance from the community, the restaurant re-opened and emerged even stronger.

Several notable black celebrities took to social media to pay respects to Chase. Chef Marcus Samuelsson called her a “true mentor, friend and inspiration” in a post on Facebook:




In 2009, Chase was honored as a BLACK ENTERPRISE Woman of Power Legacy Award. In an interview with BE she said, “My father taught us to live by three rules: Pray, work, and do for others.” Watch the entire video interview with Leah Chase below:



How an ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Mindset Can Help Rebuild the Black Community

More than 100 million people went to see Marvel Studios blockbuster, Avengers: Endgame. I’m a huge Marvel fan and according to these stats, I have to assume some of you are as well. The Avengers were able to save the world by adopting the mindset of “whatever it takes.” Black folks will have to adopt this same mindset, but it means understanding inclusion and how it will play a huge part in the rebuilding of the black community.

SPOILER ALERT! Skip the next paragraph if you have not watched the movie and read the one after it.

The last 10 minutes of the blockbuster is epic. Just as Captain America looks weary and helpless, and we think it’s over, and the good guys have lost (again), he gets a message to look to the left. A portal appears and out walks Black Panther and a couple of Wakanda warriors. You could hear everyone in the theater make a collective sigh among all the cheers. As portals continue to open, we see Spiderman, Dr. Strange, the Wasp, Star-Lord, Scarlet Witch and all our favorite heroes and she-roes appear on the battlefield.

Black Communities vs. Inclusion

That scene made me think about a question I ran across on Facebook:  “Black people, shouldn’t we build up the black community before we start fighting for inclusion?

It’s a good question that causes contemplation. My comment was this: we should do both. We need to build up our communities. But since most of us also work with and live beside people different from us, whom we are competing against for promotions, equal pay, level playing fields for our kids and ourselves—inclusion is paramount. This question has been lingering in the back of my mind for the past few weeks because I know there are many who feel this way and it deserves more conversation.

For more than 27 years now, I’ve been engrossed in advocating for the black community to be heard, to be respected, and to be resurrected to the prestige of the 1920’s Black Wall Street, which was in Tulsa, Oklahoma—where I live. If you are not familiar with Black Wall Street, you have some homework to do. It was the mecca for black-owned businesses. Unfortunately, it along with many black people were destroyed in 1921 and it is now referred to as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The entire black business community was burned to the ground by an angry white mob.

Even if you aren’t familiar with Black Wall Street, its irrefutable success is what I believe people in the black community imagine when we say, we need to support our own and keep our dollars in the black community.

I think we also imagine a magical place like Wakanda—where we own the country, are self-sufficient, make our own laws and live by a code of honor. Wakanda is a fantasy world created by Marvel Comics. It will never happen. Black Wall Street, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was created by black businessmen and women. It was real, sustainable, undeniably successful and magical in its own way, born out of necessity. Could Black Wall Street happen in black communities across America? For that to even be a notion, one key tenant would have to be challenged: the ability to do it alone. We did it before, but time and circumstances were different. We need inclusion and there are many of us who don’t value it. So what is our endgame?

Let’s look at this situation from the perspective of the Avenger’s film that grossed $2 billion dollars in its weekend debut.

(Before you start shaking your head and saying, it’s just a freaking movie, you should know that Iron Man agrees with me.)

Robert Downey Jr., whose character, Tony Stark, plays Iron Man says, “The last eight minutes of that movie are maybe the best eight minutes of the entire history of…the whole run of them, in a way, because everyone’s involved.”

Applying the Avengers: Endgame Mindset to Rebuilding the Black Community

This mindset says, we don’t care about your color, your gender, your religion, whether you fly, are a robot, an ant, a wasp, a green monster or a raccoon, if you are willing to join the cause to fix this problem, we want and need you. Not only that, but the Avengers didn’t need to agree on everything to work together. In fact, there are many scenes in which they don’t even like each other. But it never stopped them from fighting for the world as it should be, a place where everyone is included and valued.

That is a movie. In reality, I would love nothing more than to have Black Wall Street back with one replicated in every city in America. It would be an amazing source of economic stability that would allow black folk to create our own wealth. Our pride would be indescribable. I stand a little taller just thinking about how resilient black business people had to be in 1920 to build something that amazing and progressive.

What does inclusion look like in rebuilding our black communities? It looks like wealthy black folks investing into black communities, while those living there take care of the investment to make it worth it. It looks like multicultural dollars, which means get your paper from every customer you can. It looks like adopting professional business practices from successful businesses no matter who is at the helm. It looks like interacting with city and government officials who are in positions to change policy so we can create equitable sources of income and build Tax Increment Finance Districts around our black communities to help sustain growth. Our endgame is to rebuild our black communities with 21st-century ideas that use our superpowers to collaborate with other superheroes who are down for the cause.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and not necessarily the opinion of Black Enterprise.



Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

Rebuilding After the Storm: The U.S Virgin Islands Are Open for Business

It’s been more than two and a half years since Hurricane Irma and Maria caused mass devastation in the Caribbean back in September 2017, but the remnants can still be seen throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. The powerful category 5 hurricanes caused billions of dollars in destruction and left the islands without power, running water, or a reliable food supply for weeks. Today, many businesses are still closed while many homes remain covered with blue tarps in place of roofs.

Nevertheless, that has not stopped some locals from picking up the pieces of their lives affected by the storms. Although the infrastructure of the islands still needs a lot of attention, the spirit, beauty, and resilience of the people remain strong. More and more natives are reopening their stores, starting new businesses, and welcoming visitors to their homeland. After spending five days in St. Thomas and St. Croix, I’d recommend anyone looking to travel this summer to book a trip to the Virgin Islands. Here’s why.

You Don’t Need A Passport

U.S. Virgin Islands

Secret Harbour Beach on St. Thomas (Photo credit: U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism)

The U.S. Virgin Islands — which consists of the main islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas — are known for their white-sand beaches, beautiful coral reefs, and verdant hills. In addition, it may also be one of the most accessible and convenient Caribbean destinations since Americans don’t need a passport in order to visit.

“We’re U.S. Territory, but we’re still very much a Caribbean Island and we definitely have a very authentic feel,” Anquanette Gaspard, the founder of the Virgin Island Food Tours, told BLACK ENTERPRISE. Plus, “We don’t have typical touristy kind of events.”

A Taste of Wakanda

Many of us are still fantasizing about the idea of visiting Wakanda, a fictitious country featured in Marvel’s Black Panther where black folks were never enslaved and lived their best lives since the beginning of time. Well, if you want to experience a taste of a pre-colonial world, then consider paying a visit to St. Croix where Chef Digby Stridiron is helping to bring the fantasy into fruition. Last fall, he opened Braata, a rum bar and West Indian kitchen in Frederiksted that gives patrons a true taste of freedom.

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A post shared by Digby Stridiron (@chefdigby) on

What if “Africans came to the Americas on their own free will, with all of their beauty and their boats, and we just started cooking with the tribes that were [already] here?” said Stridiron, a proud Crucian who moved back to St. Croix after the hurricanes.

The cuisine at his newest eatery reimagines a world where colonialism didn’t exist, and instead of being invaded and colonized, Africans migrated to the land and co-existed peacefully with indigenous tribes. Braata’s menu is inspired by the indigenous tribes that inhabited the Virgin Islands for centuries before they were seized by Spaniards. The biggest influences “come from the Taino, a colonized tribe,” said Stridiron.

Many of the dishes he created include pastillas, red beans, and creole sauce. The menu, which is a creative culinary interpretation of Crucian cuisine from locally sourced farmers, also includes lots of rum and Caribbean-inspired cocktail. Digby added that most meals don’t include creams, bread, or dairy-based products. “All of the heavy pastas, the heavy gluten dishes, and bread with everything – all that stuff is out the door here.”

Meanwhile, Braata’s rustic and timeless ambiance is uplifted by Caribbean music playing in the background. “I wanted it to feel like an old world,” said Digby. “You can feel that vibe from the limewash paint. I did it myself,” he added.

View this post on Instagram

Feeling blessed today as I get ready to open @braatastx today. A little over a year ago I was put into an awkward position. My vision on food revolves around love, integrity and centers itself around sustaining our history and foodways. I remember how it felt. What I learned over time is life isn’t always about achieving the things you want but sometimes it’s about learning what you don’t want and not accepting it. Looking back at the last few months I couldn’t be prouder of my teams at @braatastx and @amacanebay and what we’ve been able to accomplish so far! Thank you to St. Croix for always supporting my goals and allowing me to showcase our culture to the world! What I took from this experience can be summed up by @sizzlakalonjimuzik “you can’t keep a good man down!” Happy Thursday Yal!: @meredithzimmerman_

A post shared by Digby Stridiron (@chefdigby) on

Digby is one of many natives who took a tragic loss in the aftermath of the hurricanes but remain committed to rebuilding the islands. “Irma changed my life,” he said. “I lost the most important person that I know, my grandma. [She] influenced everything that I did. She’s the reason why I cook.” His grandmother’s death was partly caused by the island’s lack of infrastructure since many of those who lost their homes had a hard time finding safe shelter in the aftermath. “She was elderly and she was being moved around, and through all of that moving around, from spot to spot…she passed.”

Nevertheless, the devastation and the loss of his grandmother has ultimately strengthened Digby’s love for his homeland. “I’m more committed to being here more so than I ever was in the past,” he said. “I don’t want to live anywhere else outside of the Virgin Islands. I want to be with my family every single moment so that I can be here with them so when they need me I can be that person. For my community, I want to be here so that I could be that person.”

Support Black Business Owners

St. Croix

Ramone Reid, founder of Cultured Naturals Body Care

Like many tropical islands in the region, the USVI are economically dependent on tourism — the industry’s continued contribution to GDP relies heavily on high levels of customer service. Fortunately, there are plenty of people and businesses that could use the support, like Ramone Reid. The registered nurse started making skin care products from natural ingredients after being diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and then losing her grandmother to the disease. Eventually, she turned the hobby into a business, launching her own product line called Cultured Naturals Body Care. Her business, however, took a hard hit from Irma. “I had just given up my business because of the physical destruction,” she said. “After the storm, everybody was in survival mode. A lot of people had lost their homes. I was [also] pregnant with my second baby. So it was just self-preservation at that point.”

At the time, she says she remembers thinking, “who would want to get body care products?” However, rather than completely giving up, she relaunched her brand with a new purpose: to serve the needs of her people following the storm.

“When I thought about it, we had an issue with mosquitoes, we had issues with the water and people were having skin issues. So, I decided to do a new twist on the business and create products that were beneficial …  like mosquito repellents and repellant candles. Products that helped with breakouts and itching from the water issues.”

In September, she took a leap of faith to expand her business by opening a store on Christiansted street.

“The Culinary Gateway to the Caribbean”

Anquanette Gaspard says she was inspired to launch a food tour company in St. Croix after traveling the world and realizing that the food in her homeland doesn’t compare to anyplace else. “I realized that St. Croix’s food culture has always been rich in comparison to the other Virgin Islands throughout the Caribbean. We’re considered to be the culinary gateway to the Caribbean, if you will, because you can get Dominican food, Dominiquican food, Antiguan, Trinidad. And then we also have our own local cuisine,” she said. In addition to giving tourists a taste of the Twin City, the Virgin Island Food Tours also preserves the history and culture of the island.

The Beauty of the Islands

St. John

Waterlemon Cay, St. John (Photo Credit: U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism)

Reid encourages people to visit the USVI to experience its beauty and glow first hand. “We offer a warmth and a love and we have rich talent and skills and services that we can still offer,” she said.

Stridion agrees. “Why should you come to St. Croix? It’s part of American culture [and] it’s beautiful,” he said. “The people are so vibrant,” he added.  “It’s the people, it’s the culture, it’s the vibes, it’s beautiful, it’s beaches. We offer so much.”

Gaspard, however, said the Virgin Islands can’t be summed up in words. “You have to feel St. Croix. It’s hard for me to describe it. It is definitely more of a feeling.”

Ultimate Buy Black Father’s Day 2019 Gift Guide: Men’s Fashion

Father’s Day Gift Guide: Men’s Fashion 

Benson Watch Co.

Launched by millennial entrepreneur Marcel Benson, the Benson Watch Co. offers innovative and elegant timepieces.

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Dapper Dan Clothing Line 

Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day pioneered luxury hip-hop fashion in the ’80s and ’90s by remixing high-end brands into urban streetwear. However, after closing shop 25 years ago, the legendary designer opened a new store in Harlem this year similar to the famous Dapper Dan Boutique that closed in 1992—but this time with a Gucci twist.

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(Image: Instagram/DapperDanHarlem)


LyfeStyle Clothing Line 

Born in Brooklyn, Lyfestyle captures the essence of New York City urban art, style, and flavor. The brand was birthed from the imaginations of four friends who loved the lavish fashion on Fifth Avenue but were limited to shopping on a budget.

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(Image: Instagram/LyfestyleNYC)

Abdju Wear

Abdju Wear is a new clothing line that sports high-end clothes and sneakers at affordable prices. The brand offers everything from polo-style shirts to high-top sneakers in traditional Pan-African flag colors. The designer, Bobby West, aspires to become a staple in black fashion the same way that Ralph Lauren has become one of the most iconic brands in the country.

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Abdju Wear founder Bobby West



Help Dad rep his HBCU with apparel from Tradition, a collegiate and lifestyle brand.

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Loren S

If you know of or are a man who is a purveyor of fine clothing, then get familiar with Loren Spratt—a uniquely inspiring black-owned clothing brand wholly focused on the male consumer. The Atlanta-based men’s custom couture line is the brainchild of Clark Atlanta University grads Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass, Brandon Theriot, and Mario McMillan.

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