Learning to Lead: A Young Professionals Brunch

When you hear the word "professional" what do you picture?

I remember growing up and hearing someone being called a professional. I pictured tailored suits, briefcases, and tall city buildings. But in 2018, the look of professionals has definitely shifted. Yes, those Corporate 500 employees in suits and tall building still exist, but professionals has now expanded to describe the go-getter hustler entrepreneurs that we see everyday at coffee shops, the gym, and even the mall. Us 20 & 30-somethings are changing the faces of business, especially us black folks!

Now, you've seen me post about Shahedah Williams before. The Trenton native who not only designs for a successful NY company, but also has her own swimwear line, Shahedah Williams Textiles AND is the founder of the non-profit organization, Prom Scholar. At this point, I consider Shahedah more than a business connect, but an actual friend who I will always support. So when she invited me to her Young Professionals Brunch, a networking mixer to raise money for Prom Scholar, I couldn't say no.

Shahedah Williams, founder of Prom Scholar & Myriah (MJ), founder of Hey BLK Girl

Shahedah Williams, founder of Prom Scholar & Myriah (MJ), founder of Hey BLK Girl

The Young Professionals Brunch was hosted in Shahedah's hometown of Trenton at the Studio B Bakery and Cafe. I will say, I was a little nervous because I'd always heard negative things about Trenton, so I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled off of the highway and turned onto South Broad St. The street is definitely up and coming, with revamped storefronts and attractive architecture. I pulled into the back parking lot of the address, which is split between the bakery and a colorful restaurant with outside seating. Walking into Studio B you are greeted by the sunlight shining through the big glass front windows. Apparently I came thru the back entrance instead of the store front (lol). The walls were white, decorated with the artwork of Trenton artists and gave a NYC gallery type of feel. The marble counter and bakery display were transformed into a display of tea and snacks, brought to patrons by Lady Tea InStyle. We mixed and mingled while Lady Tea served up her famous tea blends in decorated fine china and let us dine on tasty tea treats of cookies, scones, and fruity jams.

In addition to tea and mingling, the the Young Professionals Brunch also included a panel session featuring several successful and well-known professionals including:

Ayana Iman, author & founder of Authentic Convos

Abu Fofanah, Ad strategist & Marketing Educator

Donna Jarret, author & co-founder of Paris Hair & Beauty Supply

Producer T, Producer & commentator on 102.7 FM the Karen & Jeffery Show

The Young Professionals Panelist, Lady Tea & Shahedah Williams

The Young Professionals Panelist, Lady Tea & Shahedah Williams

The 30 minute or so panel discussion, led by Qaysean Roe, covered all subjects of entrepreneurship, leadership, finding your purpose, overcoming adversities, standing out in segregated markets, and being a successful professional.

If you've been on Hey BLK Girl's social media then you know May is all about purpose for us this month. One of the first questions asked to the panel was about purpose; how they found they're purpose and how did they know the decisions they made were the right ones for them to get to the lives they're at now. All of the correspondents shared different experiences, but the similarity of everyone's story was that they did not know that this is where they'd end up. A lot of times we picture these lives for ourselves, not realizing that God's plans for us is already in motion. We're just living it. I think its very important, and I'll probably repeat this everytime I talk about purpose—we are all given a gift and the point of purpose is figuring out what that gift is and using it to better the lives of others. Shahedah is really the epitome of understanding your purpose. She took her skill for designing clothes to impact the lives of inner city teens and give them a full prom experience for free. And it doesn't just stop there! She also designs swimwear that tells stories, raises; the latest one being Sickle Cell Awareness.

The Prom Scholar Team

The Prom Scholar Team

The biggest takeaway from the Young Professionals Brunch for me was understanding what it means to be a leader. A lot of times people confuse being a boss and being a leader. A boss is just going to tell people what to do. A leader, on the other hand, is going to show people what to do and help them develop their skills to their fullest potential. This goes hand-in-hand with understanding your purpose. Ayana Iman described a leader as someone who has empathy and emotional understanding and Abu Fofanah tied that in with not being afraid to accept help. I know for me, Hey BLK Girl is my baby so I am very protective of who I let behind the scenes. But the more I talk about my purpose and express my passion for what I'm doing, the more people who want to help. I now have a photography team and graphics team for promo stuff. They connected me to someone who has a screen print connect so yeah, merchandise coming soon, look out for that. But just understanding that in order to lead I need to utilize the people around me and not rely all the time solely on myself. I can't do it all. None of us can. Unless you devote 24 hours, and a legit 24 hours a day no sleep, 7 days a week to what you do, you're going to at some point be able to trust that other people believe in your dream and genuinely want to help. But also, be able to see who wants to be there for you and who just wants to be you. But we'll save that subject for another post.

I know Shahedah reads these posts so I just personally want to thank you for inviting me to the event and allowing the opportunity to connect. For anyone interested in having Hey BLK Girl at your event, please email Myriah@heyblkgirl.com. Use the email too if you have any questions about blogging, networking, or collaborating. My inbox is open! Hope you enjoyed reading!