Know yourself, know your brand. That was one of the big themes of the third day of the Disney Dreamers Academy. To start Day 3, the Dreamers had the chance to learn how to create their own personal brand and the importance of crafting your image. Lessons were delivered at the start of the day by some of the most innovative names in fashion, those who know how essential image is: beauty and style authority Mikki Taylor, stylist and fashion designer Misa Hylton and fashion designer Jerome Lamar. The kids were also able to present their truest selves in a fashion show of sorts, where a few students strut their stuff in front of their colleagues in attire that they felt best exemplified their image.
Motivational speaker Lisa Nichols had a special talk afterward about a number of great things, including not dimming your light, the benefit of falling (or failing), and the need to chase a state of being as opposed to only chasing a goal. She also talked about the dangers of getting caught up in labels as a “mover and shaker,” like being called “amazing.”
“No I’m not amazing,” she says. “I’m a phenomenal being who grinds every day who amazes you. But I grind every day like the next person grinds every day. I’m just willing to get up every day and give myself 1,000 second chances. And every time you get to 999, press reset. Now you’ve got a thousand more second chances. I’ve created a life that I’m blown away of by simply giving myself a thousand second chances.”
Later in the day, there were celebrity panels, where speakers from all industries and of all ages talked to the Dreamers about storytelling, chasing joy, and knowing that whatever your story is, whatever makes you who you are and makes your brand stand out is “your superpower.”
“It’s something no one can replicate,” says fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of Pyer Moss. “That’s the thing that’s going to make you unique and stand out from the rest. That’s going to be the thing that unknowingly opens the door for other people who look like you.”
Some of the speakers included Jean-Raymond, Ralph Farquhar who is the executive producer of Disney’s Proud Family, Insecure producer Prentice Powell, Tommie & Codie Oliver, the creators of OWN’s Black Love series, Bethany Donaphin, the head of league operations for the WNBA, Demi Singleton, who played Serena Williams in King Richard and more.
Later in the night, taking all that the Dreamers learned about branding themselves and image, they were able to flex their chops in their first-ever networking event, or “Career Open Mouse.” There, they showcased what they created during Friday’s Deep Dive sessions and also handed out business cards, going up to individuals from all different backgrounds to share more about themselves, learn more about others and make connections.
During that time, we had the chance to meet Christianna Alexander of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She is the creator of Sweet Christi’s, a brand of body care products that are plant-based for young girls. At 16, she’s already an expert in entrepreneurship — and self-care, as she’s been pushing her brand and a non-profit since she was 12. (Follow her on Instagram here.)
“I wanted to make an impact around my community and talk and teach little girls about the steps to self-care. You know, washing your face, things like that,” she tells ESSENCE. “I also want to encourage them to have positive outlook when reaching their goals. I talk to the girls about having a growth mindset. I say to write down whatever you feel confident in and your growth mindset ideas. That’s how I take care of my community.”
After shaking hands and making professional connections that could last a lifetime, the kids were able to celebrate all of their hard work with a dance party. A DJ spinned while the kids did the electric slide, there was karaoke, and more. And to cap the night, the kids went to see fireworks at EPCOT.
They got to do a lot of things in Day three. Dreamers learned tools that will benefit them now and long into adulthood, as they get comfortable going after their dreams and connecting with people who can help them bring them to fruition. We were glad to be on the scene to see and experience it all — and our team even enjoyed a two-step and some tunes at the dance party. Three days down, and all the learning activities, panels, deep dives and events are done. One thing is left: graduation day. Stay tuned!