is a poet, children’s book author and founder of the creative literary arts brand, Black Mermaids (@blackmermaidsbrand). Her latest book, Survivor's Guilt, takes an unflinching look at grief. She is the mother of three children: Julian (deceased), Jaya, and Kareem. She lives in Central Pennsylvania. Her latest work has appeared in Barrel House Mag and Raising Mothers. Her next book is slated for a Spring 2021 release.
1. Tell us about the Black Mermaids brand and mission.
Black Mermaids is essentially my creative container. I've been referring to it as a "creative literary arts" company. Initially, my sole mission was to publish a collection of poetry by the same name, whose title poem detailed reimagining of the mythology surrounding mermaids: What if during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, kidnapped Africans aboard slave ships that attempted to flee or were thrown overboard, in turn, became Black Mermaids? Its evolution as a brand has become synonymous with being bold, brave, and resilient while honoring ancestral traditions of storytelling.
2. What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture?
Black Mermaids offers a boutique line of apparel, mainly graphic tees with all of the brand's best phrases. In addition, Black Mermaids offers small paper goods such as calendars and notecards and produces children's books, poetry, healing texts, and workshops. As of late, I have been offering writing and healing workshops related to topics such as grief, shrinking, and personal power. My most popular workshops are "Whose Imagination Created You?", "Name Yourself Possible: Poetry + Power," and "Can We Talk About Grief?"
3. What are your company goals?
Black Mermaids wants to make sure that Black people of all ages see themselves reflected in the creative arts and have access to healing spaces.
4. Entrepreneurship is romanticized on social media. Often it gives a false perception of how hard working for yourself can be. What sort of challenges have you faced while manifesting the vision?
The new romanticization of entrepreneurship is unfortunate as it makes some people feel like it's the only way to make money or be happy. I've had some of the same struggles that most entrepreneurs discuss, such as a lack of access to capital, and having more ideas than I have time. Also, early on, I struggled with maintaining balance between paid contractual obligations, managing my passion at Black Mermaids and making time for myself and the people I care about.
5. What new skills did you have to acquire for your business?
I am fortunate that a lot of the skills that I need at Black Mermaids I have acquired over the years in various roles. Black Mermaids has taught me how to leverage them all nearly simultaneously - I basically had to un-silo myself.
6. How many hats do you have to wear?
7. Do you find it hard to delegate?
Yes, I am absolutely super close to my work and also sometimes I move too fast and that doesn't allow adequate time to invite others in. I am working on it! I recently launched the Stop Shrinking Socialcast and it has stretched me in this way because I do not have all of the technical skills to do it on my own so I have had to ask for help.
8. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting, what would it be?
Never forget the reason you started. You will need to tap into this when things become challenging.