How Might We Value Equity?

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on May 7, 2017.

On Sunday May 7, 2017, as I was reading pg. 29 of Keith Ferrazzi‘s, “Never Eat Alone”, I came across a tool which he uses called, “The Relationship Action Plan.” This plan is separated into 3 parts:

1. Developing goals that will help us fulfill our mission.

2. Connecting these goals to the people, places, and things (resources) that will help us get the job done.

3. Determining the best way to reach out to the people who can help us to accomplish our goals.

As I was reading this, it made me reflect on one of my #7DaysOfWisdom videos which I shot back in September of 2016. In this video, I discussed the relationship between sweat equity, relationship equity, and financial equity. In addition to Keith’s “Relationship Action Plan”, I believe that it is highly important for us to understand and value equity.

Equity is something which we can all learn and earn. It starts with the amount of work we decide to put in (sweat equity). Through our sweat equity, we will eventually begin to build the connections and relationships (relationship equity) which lead to opportunities to increase our financial equity and the impact we can have on the lives of others. Let’s stay focused and have fun pursuing the things we love to do in life. Live legendary, leave a legacy!

What are your thoughts on sweat equity, relationship equity, and financial equity? 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾 In this video, I discuss the relationship between sweat equity, relationship equity, and financial equity. I believe that it is highly important for us to understand and value equity. Equity is something which we can all learn and earn. It all starts with the amount of work we decide to put in (sweat). Through our sweat equity, we will eventually begin to build the connections and relationships which lead to opportunities to increase our financial equity and the impact we can have on the lives of others. 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾 Let's stay focused and have fun pursuing the things we love to do in life. Live legendary, leave a legacy! 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾 #7DaysOfWisdom #ALOVERSAmbition

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Cultural Curator, and Educator. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

Discover NOW: Brandie Freely

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Photo via Brandie Freely.

#DiscoverNOW is our curatorial series aimed at creating awareness for emerging culture, lifestyle, and talent. Today, we are excited to profile Brandie Freely. Brandie is a hope dealer, mother, writer, musician, lover, and free spirit to say the least! We came across the amazing work of Brandie when we saw the image posted above on Instagram. One of the first thoughts which came to mind were, “What does this image represent?” To us, this image represents beauty, courage, cultivation, love, motherhood, promise, trust, and unity. What does this image mean to you?

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Photo via Brandie Freely.

After checking out some of Brandie’s work on her website, brandiefreely.com, we came across one of her articles entitled, “On Mothering and Growing.” In this piece, Brandie shares her six year journey as the mother of her six year old daughter, Solona. Like many mothers, Brandie strives to be the absolute best mother she possibly can. In fact, she understands that she is a mother under construction. Here’s a question for our mothers, “What is it like to be a mother under construction?” “What does motherhood mean to you?”

We’re happy to have come across the great work of Brandie and we hope that you are too! We’re also looking forward to seeing how great of a mother-daughter combo both Brandie and Solona grow up to be. Be sure to sign-up for updates and follow Brandie’s journey by checking out her website, brandiefreely.com. Enjoy!

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A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is a brand development agency that specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. With an emphasis on culture and lifestyle, the primary focus of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is to help companies adapt to culture and build value between brands and their consumers centered around love. Our social mission is to leverage the influence of popular culture to create social change and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership. We are driven by AMBITION, fueled by PASSION, inspired by INNOVATION, and suckers for STRATEGY!

What Do We Look For In Emerging Artists?

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Photo via FACT Magazine.

Back on November 24, 2015, I had the honor of being interviewed by one of my favorite new music discovery platforms, fanum.fm. When asked the question, “What characteristics or qualities do I find attractive in new and emerging artists?” I answered as follows:

When I was an A&R and music publisher, I was often asked: “What do I look for in emerging artists?” As strange as it may sound, this was never a simple question for me. In fact, I was always looking for better ways to explain what catches my attention. Even today, when it comes to discovering new and emerging talent, there are a few elements that I find myself…well…a “sucker for” — here they are!

1. Production Quality (Songs)

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Photo via GrungeCake.

My introduction into the world of recorded music came through producing and writing songs alongside a very good friend of mine. We were HUGE fans of The Neptunes and were always intrigued by the quality of their production and how they worked with a wide variety of artists. When it comes to identifying artists who catch my attention, I’m very production driven.

Here are a few attributes which I tend to look for:

  • Good selection of sounds (electronic, live, sampled, etc).
  • Catchy melodies and chord progressions.
  • Clear and audible vocals.
  • Interesting vocal and/or instrumental arrangements.
  • Thoughtful lyrics and storytelling.

In October of 2015, I was talking to one of my friends in the lobby of my apartment building. A few minutes into our conversation, I heard an ear-catching melody underneath some foreign female vocals. I immediately had to pause the conversation to find out exactly what song was being played. Thanks to Shazam, I discovered it was “Come” by Jain – a singer/songwriter from France. Due to the flavor and quality of her production, I was positively exposed to her music. As a result, I continue to follow her work as she proceeds to build her brand.

2. Brand Potential (Cohesive Aesthetic)

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Photo via The Fader.

I firmly believe that a strong brand should entail a cohesive aesthetic across all media platforms. It’s important to avoid confusing our potential consumers and make sure that they know where and how to find us. Our website, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Soundcloud, Twitter, and Youtube all serve as primary and secondary touch-points for people to find us. They need to be in sync. A GREAT example of an emerging artist with a cohesive aesthetic is Kali Uchis:

I’ve always been a sucker for the small things that tend to add up as our careers manifest down the line. Do you notice how Kali’s quality visuals match her personality, style, and theme across all channels? Even her color scheme is a consistent baby blue and pink. Brand cohesion plays a huge role when it comes to catching and keeping our consumers attention.

3. Diligence, Honesty, and Initiative

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Photo via Google.

Practicing diligence, taking initiative, and being honest with one’s self is truly what helps to set an artist up for the long-haul in regards to defining their legacy. I believe Kehlani is a prime example of this. Her current label, Atlantic Records, considers her a “mindie” act (‘Major’ artist with ‘Indie’ bonafides), having her fan base as an independent artist before garnering the attention of the majors.

It’s apparent that her hard work is just beginning to pay off, while her more subtle honesty bleeds through her music. In an interview with The Fader, she talks about going through foster care, losing her father as a child, and her wavering sexual identity. These are all topics that many artists shy away from for fear of compromising how they are viewed in public. Kehlani is different. She realizes that to inspire others is to accept herself for exactly who she is. She is such a shining light of truthful experience and authentic artistry! For this reason, Kehlani is continuing to win over fans and supporters even through her public challenges and setbacks. Keep striving Kehlani, keep striving!

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Cultural Curator, and Educator. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

Behind The Beauty: Brittany Camacho

Although we do not know anything about makeup, we do know talent when we see it! When we came across the video below via one of our brands, We LOVE Hub City (@welovehubcity) on Instagram, not only were we introduced to the work of Brittany Camacho (@britni.__), we also took a liking to the the collaborative effort of all parties involved. This includes the fantastic makeup artist, Ashley Victoria (@ashleyvictoriamua), and the wonderful visuals by Elisee Jean-Pierre (@siiojp). By the way, the “SiiO” in Elisee’s Instagram handle stands for “Success In It’s Outcome.” Don’t worry readers, you’re not alone, we LOVE it too!

We’re looking forward to seeing the future growth of Ashley, Britni, and Elisee. Who knows, we may end up working together in some capacity in the near future. We would love to see Britni in an Adidas campaign. Only time and effort can tell!

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A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is a brand development agency that specializes in creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. With an emphasis on culture and lifestyle, the primary focus of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is to help companies adapt to culture and build value between brands and their consumers centered around love. Our social mission is to leverage the influence of popular culture to create social change and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership. We are driven by AMBITION, fueled by PASSION, inspired by INNOVATION, and suckers for STRATEGY!

Brands We LOVE: Black Santa

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Photo via @theblacksantacompany on Instagram.

We came across  The Black Santa Company yesterday evening after noticing that the company followed our @aloversambition account on Instagram. Being as curious as we always are, especially considering our immense interest in emerging brands, culture, and lifestyle; we decided to dig into what the Black Santa movement is all about!

In search of discovering a larger purpose after sustaining a basketball injury, two-time NBA All-Star Baron Davis conceptualized the idea of “Black Santa” after dressing up as Santa Claus one year on Halloween. Realizing just how much of a hit his Black Santa persona was, he then thought to himself, “Black Santa can be someone super cool for the African-American audience such as a character or hero who we can all love and enjoy!” After identifying a real need to create cool contemporary content aimed at African-American and multi-cultural audiences, Baron founded “The Black Santa Company.”

The mission and purpose of The Black Santa Company is to inspire the world by building diverse characters and telling stories that reflect the change in culture. The Black Santa Company aims to create new characters, contemporary and engaging content, and high quality products celebrating diversity, fun, and positivity.

In an article courtesy of Blavity, Baron mentions, “This is a character-focused company that I want to use to expand people’s imaginations, we live in a world that needs a constant reminder of hope and positivity, particularly in neighborhoods like where I grew up (South Central Los Angeles).  I want to give people the ability to dream and imagine something different. I want to make people feel good about themselves.” In addition, Baron also shares that The Black Santa Company is here to provide a feel good and positive angle and spin on storytelling. “I just want to make people smile” says Baron.

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Photo of Christal Cross courtesy of “Black Santa Manifesto” video on YouTube.

At The Black Santa Company, they also believe that giving has no season. They encourage year round acts of kindness and want to highlight the people who do too. “Our world is culturally diverse. That’s why our mission is to create positive characters that embody the multi-cultural spirit of our society.” – The Black Santa Company

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Photo courtesy of @jennpilatessocal on Instagram at a #HashtagLunchbag event.

Along with The Black Santa Company, we here at A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group also believe that the power of giving and gratitude should be celebrated and practiced all year round. Every season can be a holiday season when we decide to live in accordance with a compassionate, joyful, and grateful mindset and philosophy. We admire Baron for stepping into the role of servant leadership and leveraging his influence to create social change in an effort to inspire the world. As another favorite guy of ours, Gary Vaynerchuk often mentions, “It’s time that we begin to make positivity LOUDER!”

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A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is a brand development agency that specializes in creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. With an emphasis on culture and lifestyle, the primary focus of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is to help companies adapt to culture and build value between brands and their consumers centered around love. Our social mission is to leverage the influence of popular culture to create social change and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership. We are driven by AMBITION, fueled by PASSION, inspired by INNOVATION, and suckers for STRATEGY!

Songs We LOVE \\ Zilo \\ Only Us \\

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Photo of Zilo courtesy of Instagram (@youngzilo)

Okay, we must admit…we spent a majority of our morning day listening to Zilo’s “Only Us.” What’s wrong with that…right? Obsessive in our musical ways, some things just never change. Our taste for soulful music coupled with an everlasting admiration for those with a dope sense of style and beauty just happens to be one of those things.

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We came across Zilo’s music courtesy of a playlist Tiara Thomas just happened to (re)post curated by Chantel Jeffries aka CeeJay The DJ. We thank you both! What would we do without music curation?

Enjoy the tune!

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A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is a brand development agency that specializes in creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. With an emphasis on culture and lifestyle, the primary focus of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is to help companies adapt to culture and build value between brands and their consumers centered around love. Our social mission is to leverage the influence of popular culture to create social change and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership. We are driven by AMBITION, fueled by PASSION, inspired by INNOVATION, and suckers for STRATEGY!

The Story Behind: #WeLOVEHubCity!

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Preface!

On July 19, 2015, I asked myself the following question, “Where can we create a global community for those who express an interest in changing the world?” As big and futuristic of an idea as this may sound, please allow me to express how we can begin to manifest our ideal thoughts into ideal actions. Here are the two magic words, “START LOCAL.”

On Saturday May 28, 2016 at 4:18 am, I recorded a voice memo detailing my ideas and thoughts on the impact and importance of starting local. This came after sending an email over to Anand Patel. Anand happens to be the co-owner of Hidden Grounds Coffee, a local business here in New Brunswick, NJ.

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In October of 2013, I interviewed Anand for behindthehustle.com. We sat down to discuss both the hardships and successes that come with opening up a new business. Since then, I have made an effort to stay informed of what’s going on at Hidden Grounds.

The email that I sent to Anand was in reference to 365 by Whole Foods, “Friends of 365” program. This is an entrepreneurial move aimed to incorporate a sense of localized, independent, and creative entrepreneurial spirit by installing third-party vendors inside of its 365 by Whole Foods stores. A few minutes after I sent this email, I had an instant epiphany…”START LOCAL.”

Why Start Local? Proximity Matters!

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On January 2, 2016, I posted a video of Bryan Stevenson’s 2015 Zeitgeist Minds talk. Here he discussed the importance of being proximate to the problems in our world. “Proximity teaches us things that we cannot learn from a distance” Stevenson says. “When we get proximate to problems, we see things and hear nuances and details that we cannot see from a distance. In order to solve problems and create breakthroughs, we must get very close and inside of the problems that we intend to solve.” Starting local enables us to foster closer and more intimate relationships in the communities which we serve.

I Thought To Myself!

“With so many local businesses, companies, organizations, and schools here in the City of New Brunswick, how can I leverage my talents in an effort to add value to my local community at large?”

Naturally, my first instinct was to go to social media. I went straight to Twitter and Instagram to search for local businesses, companies, and organizations in the New Brunswick area. For some reason, I decided to check out New Brunswick’s Hyatt Hotel on Twitter.

@HyattNewBruns (517 Followers)

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After viewing their profile, I immediately thought to myself, “Why does the Hyatt only have 517 followers?” I was then curious to see how much of a brand presence our city government and school district had on their social media profiles as well.

@CityofNewBruns (4,311 Followers)

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@nbpschools (268 followers)

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Seeing these numbers were highly intriguing! Not only did I begin to see a trend, more importantly, I began to see an opportunity. According to U.S. Census data, the City of New Brunswick’s population is roughly around 57,000 residents. If this is the case, I asked myself the following question: “How might our local businesses, government agencies, and schools do a better job in regards to engaging with our community?”

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Living In The City!

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As a graduate of Rutgers University, a resident in the City of New Brunswick, and a substitute teacher throughout New Brunswick Public Schools, I feel as though I am extremely proximate to the diverse culture and lifestyle New Brunswick has to offer. However, along with the great potential of our city will come challenges. One immediate challenge that I have observed over the years, is a lack of awareness when it comes to business, community, education, and government initiatives. In a city with roughly around 57,000 residents, how might we do a better job in regards to reaching and engaging with our community?

The Power of Social Media!

In an age where both digital and social media presence move the world, I believe that our online platforms are the single most important places for businesses, communities, schools, and government agencies to connect and meet at scale. This leads me to my BIG ESSENTIAL question:

How might we leverage digital and social media platforms to bridge the gap between business, community culture, education, and government?

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Introducing: The #WeLOVEHubCity Initiative! 

The #WeLOVEHubCity initiative is a solution to our problem. This initiative is essentially the culmination of the last 5 years of my life. Since graduating from Rutgers University in May of 2011, I have worked on numerous community service initiatives as a City Year Corps member while living in Miami, FL. While in Miami, I also spent my “free” time working as a field marketing rep for Cornerstone Agency. I owe it to Cornerstone for introducing me to the world of branding, entertainment marketing, and promotion. When I returned back to New Jersey in late 2012, I began to work for New Brunswick Public Schools as a Substitute Teacher.

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The combination of all of these unique experiences is ultimately what I feel enabled me to develop the #WeLOVEHubCity initiative. My love for culture, community, education, entertainment, and leadership are just a few things that I feel fuel me with the passion to pursue an initiative of this capacity. Through digital and social media curation, our mission is to bridge the gap between business, community culture, education, and government in the City of New Brunswick, NJ.

Where Might We Begin?

Through promoting the usage of the #WeLOVEHubCity hashtag to our businesses, community organizations, government agencies, and schools throughout the city, we are proactively encouraging digital conversation and dialogue on all social media platforms. In turn, this will help to endorse healthy engagement, the exchange of ideas, and the increase in brand awareness for the entire City of New Brunswick. When we curate content generated through the usage of the #WeLOVEHubCity hashtag, we will then share it across all of our @WeLOVEHubCity social media accounts.

Where Might This Lead Us?

Our @WeLOVEHubCity social media accounts will serve as “digital hubs” for the intersection between business, community culture, education, and government initiatives throughout the City of New Brunswick. Imagine a digital community center that serves as the hub of Hub City. Imagine a place where we are proud to share the accomplishments, best practices, and talents in business, community culture, education, and government. It’s a huge win for everyone involved. When we are able to pull together as a collective for the City of New Brunswick, we will also begin to economically thrive across all sectors. This will serve as an inspiration for other cities throughout the State of New Jersey and across the nation!

Collaboration + Partnership!

If you love what you hear, we would love for you to hop on board in some capacity. We understand that collaboration and partnership is essential to the healthy development and execution of ideas. We also know that we have a long way to go and thus will need the full support of the New Brunswick community at large. We would love to begin talks to discuss partnering with the following community leaders:

  • New Brunswick Public Schools
  • The City of New Brunswick
  • Rutgers University
  • Community organizations
  • Local businesses

Interested in saying hello? Shoot us a note at hi@welovehubcity.com. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Oh…we almost forgot. Please, spread the word and follow us on social:

Website: welovehubcity.com
Facebook: @welovehubcity
Instagram: @welovehubcity
Twitter: @welovehubcity

Cheers!

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Cultural Curator, and Educator. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

Artists We LOVE: Abena Mansah

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Here’s another talented creative who started following us on Instagram just last week. Her name is Abena Mansah. Abena is a visual artist of Ghanaian decent who hails from the great country of Canada. As soon as we checked out her work, her art immediately spoke to us while simultaneously speaking for itself. So…of course we decided to follow her back! Here’s a link to her personal IG page and here’s a link to the IG page of her shop as well.

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According to her account on Tumblr, Abena is in love with flowers and ebony. She really likes to eat quiche and admires the sun. Her favorite book in the bible is Ecclesiastes and she’s open and down to answer any questions you may have.

When we made time to sit down and digest her visual masterpiece’s, we began to notice that a lot of the work that she has been creating fits right in line with Blavity‘s movement.

We’ve been admiring and following the work of Blavity for a little while now. Their mission is to improve peoples lives through partnering with diverse content creators and influencers to help them reach a wider audience, amplify their message, and fund their hustles.

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We would love to see Abena and Blavity team up to amplify her artistic expression with the world. We definitely think that more people should be afforded the opportunity to experience her work!

If you get the chance to interact with Abena and Blavity on social, mention us @aloversambition and use the hashtag #ALOVERSAmbition. We would love to join the conversation. – Cheers!

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Educator, and Music Publisher. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

Blavity Presents: #EmpowerHER 2016

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We initially came across the wonderful work of Blavity over one month ago on April 10, 2016. Thanks to Lauren Miller (@cantstayput_), Blavity was brought to our attention when she announced on her Instagram profile that she would be speaking at their inaugural #EmpowerHER conference later this month.

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After looking further into the event, #EmpowerHER is a black women’s conference that will be exploring the impact of creativity, leadership, and technology on their daily lives. The extraordinary line-up of women will consist of bloggers, designers, entrepreneurs, and techies who all play a vital role in helping to shape today’s cultural movement.

Blavity’s #EmpowerHER Conference will be taking place in New York, NY on Saturday May 21, 2016 from 8 am to 7 pm at 404 Event Space.

The speakers will include:

Some of the topics that will be covered throughout the day include:

  • Using The Internet To Empower Change.
  • Growing Into Yourself and Creating Community.
  • Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Start-up.
  • Pushing Your Boundaries Through Exploration.
  • Owning and Becoming a Brand.

Here’s a look at the conference agenda and here’s where you can scoop up some conference tickets. Still lurking? Morgan has you covered. Use her discount code “blavityfam” for a limited time only and receive a cool 15% off!

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Educator, and Music Publisher. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.