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Balancing Act: I Turned My Passions into Profit

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I've always known that service was my calling. I'm happy to say that in the midst of helping others, I've found a way to serve myself. I am an entrepreneur cubed. I currently run two businesses; Epiphany Blue, an event planning company, and Hip Hop 4 Life, a non-profit agency that helps build self-esteem and life skills for youngsters who are part of the hip-hop generation. In addition, I'm in the middle of completing my certification to become a yoga instructor. Let's not forget that I'm also a wife, sister, daughter and the proud mama of Governor, my family's beloved dog... I'm usually busy. I'm often tired. I'm always happy. I am living my purpose. I founded Hip Hop 4 Life in 2003 after reading about the deaths of the legendary DJ Jam Master Jay and a teenage boy who was killed for a leather coat he'd toiled and saved to purchase. I knew something needed to be done to protect our kids and bring positivity into their lives. Hip Hop 4 Life uses a medium that kids love, teaching them life skills they need to survive, like street smarts, coupled with those skills they need to thrive, like how to tie a necktie or proper table etiquette. Most importantly, I bring in celebs and other notable professionals who the kids admire, to ensure the message isn't in one ear and out the other. Managing events for my non-profit led to the development of Epiphany Blue in 2005. The first event I threw featured Chaka Khan and Floetry. Both artists performed under their rate because the event's attendees were women and girls from shelters. Since then, my company has worked for scores of big brands, such as Tide and McDonald's, planning events and securing talent. With so much going on, I knew I needed to keep centered. After falling head over heels for yoga, I was hooked. It was the perfect way to neutralize anxiety, strengthen my body and simply relax. Initially, I couldn't figure out how it would fit into my life, but that all changed early this year. I took a cruise with my family and led a yoga workshop. I loved it. The best part for me was helping my mom, who's notoriously inflexible, place her palms on her toes. I realized that teaching yoga would be empowering. Today, I'm adding it to my Hip Hop 4 Life curriculum, as a way to help kids de-stress, exercise and focus. I also plan to offer private lessons. Even with all my yoga training, doing so much is a stretch. As a wife, I've learned the importance of making sure my husband always feels like he is a major part of me. In order to keep our connection strong, I've made the commitment to always find time for him. For example, on Thursday night I have to work until midnight and then I have a meeting at 8 AM -- but my husband is an "Iron Man" fan and movies are our thing. I decided to see the 1 AM show with him. He's worth it. I'll happily swap out a few hours of sleep to make sure my husband knows his wife happily shares his hobbies and loves to simply kick it with him -- regardless of what's going on in her life. She's still the same woman he fell in love with... though I have made a few upgrades. As a businesswoman, I've learned how to turn my passions into profitable entities. No matter how much you love what you do, you can't sustain a company if you're constantly coming out of your pocket. Over the past eight months, my businesses have grown by leaps and bounds. I credit that to two things: planning and pursuit. I stopped resting in my comfort zone and started looking beyond the mere fun side of my passions. For example, I love talking to the kids at seminars for hip-hop, but I needed to become an effective executive director to truly bring in the resources to help them flourish. Secondly, I learned the importance of making relationships with the right people and securing them. The latter comes in handy because you never know who you'll need to call on -- or who may call on you. Being an entrepreneur and wife isn't easy, but I'm happy I went for it all. I'm balancing giving and being my everything. Following your heart never fails.
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