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The McBride Sisters
 
March 31, 2022 | The McBride Sisters

Changing the Game for Dance Creatives : A Q&A with the Talented Taja Riley

For Taja Riley (she/he/they), Black Girl Magic isn’t just a trend phrase, it’s the style of their life. The talented dancer artist-athlete successfully spearheaded a movement (on behalf of as many as 400 performers!) to ensure that all dancers for the halftime show of football’s biggest game of the year got fully compensated for their time and energy. [Source: Dance Magazine] Inspired by music that embodies a feminine essence, Taja believes the people they need closest to them are the ones that directly align with their values.

We’re raising a glass of Black Girl Magic Sparkling Brut to celebrate Women’s History Month with this incredibly talented artist who is pursuing a better future “where dancers are valued and the dance community as a whole is elevated.” 


Dress : @openingceremony

Tell us about your business and what inspired you to start.

My Business is people, and using my movement to connect to/with/for them. God made me realize why I have these gifts, and it forever inspires me that he trusted me enough with the responsibility of being here for the reasons I am. I’m inspired by the fact that I get to uncover more and more of that full picture. Some call my business by the words of “advocacy”, or “Entertainment”, but I try to widen the net when I’m asked because I don’t want to limit my capabilities to expand on what I hope my business here will bring me, which is a meaningful legacy. 

Who inspired you to break the rules or think beyond them as women in your industry? 

Ah. Easy. Mom. Sisters. The most powerful mentors in my life, are in my blood. IYKYK

I am so geeked up that I get to love on these women, and keep them close to me as examples. Besides them as the top shelf, I find myself inspired by music that embodies a feminine essence. They may not always be women, but the spirit guides me to believe in the empowering building blocks in musical sequences, that add extra hip to my walk, or depth in my tone, more groundedness in the way I make my daily choices. I think you can tell a lot about the type of power a woman has by her music taste. As for rules, I think my mom would affirm that I’ve been hard headed since I came out the womb. 


Custom Dress: Cameron Willie
Headdress: Gifted custom piece

How does your sisterhood - friends, family, and colleagues - support you personally and professionally? 

To expand on previous sentiments, I’m totally in transition right now in learning what kind of support I need personally and professionally. I set some boundaries earlier this year and had to keep it real with a lot of friends that weren’t supporting me in the way that I felt would be beneficial — not really for myself, but more so for the way I want to and choose to serve my community. I understood last year (towards the end) that some of the things I tackle have been trying on the body, mind, and soul. At the end of a day combined with Advocacy, Career Developments, and my Mental health balance, the people I need closest to me are the ones that directly align with my values. They don’t need to agree with what I do or how I do it, but they need to have a voice to speak up on whatever it is that will be productive in the growth of continuing my journey.

Support for me is keeping it real, and doing it with style. Support is praying with me, and praying for me. support is loving me til I’m me again. Support is being someone I can look to for inspiration, empowerment, and insight through the experience you're having because you doin’ the thug thizzle in your corner of the world. I noticed how sensitive I was to that after the harder days and how keeping this kind of company now has made a huge difference for my spiritual fuel, and my emotional well-being. Spiritual stamina is a thing, and I’m tryna skate this advocacy pavement like sha’carri Richardson. 

What does Black Girl Magic mean to you? 

It means so many things. I think that hearing that phrase is equal to the smell of my grand mom’s soul food. Hearing that phrase takes me to a montage filled of visual poetry, slow swaying hips, bright dimpled smiles, Sunday school double Dutch hearts, tree swings. It makes me think of riding in the back of my moms car after a competition weekend, listening to Jill Scott, Mary Mary, India.arie. Musical performances with my sisters on holidays.

Black Girl Magic isn’t just a trend phrase, it’s the Style of my life. It’s the curation of my roots. It’s the respectful nod to all the sisters that are and we’re before me. I feel proud and honored to possess it, and I am happy to continue presenting and spreading that type of matter everyday. Black girl magic is the black girl's inner anthem, affirming how tall and powerful our essence stands. As an individual + as a collective group/class of black spiritual warriors.

Taja Riley
Shoes: @louisvuitton
Bodytard: @dollskill

What goals would you like to achieve this year to advance yourself and your business?

Dang. I am sooo ambitious, but building Rome in a day for my dance industry, too much to ask? Hahaha.

Truly it would be amazing to finish out the year feeling that everyone is involved + active in the discussion to rectify the current inequitable treatment for dance creatives. Since I’m only in control of me, I hope that I can remain consistent with growing in my journey to serve my dance community in every aspect of the Entertainment mountain: directing, supervising, educating, motivating through speech, modeling as an example, using my gifts to perform in all creative mediums, and becoming an experienced or knowledgeable mother in the ideas birthed or implanted in my mind, heart, soul, and brought to life through my work.

No pressure lol.

What’s your favorite Black Girl Magic Wine?

Definitely saved the hardest question for last. I see you.

Favorite Black Girl Magic Wine: might have to go with that Black Girl Magic Sparkling Brut, which is crazy because I’m more of a UB40 song. I guess I’m evolving? 

Photo Credits:
Creative Direction: taja Riley @tajariley
Photo: Lee GUMBS @leegumbs.photography
Bts Videography : Sevyn Eutsler @sevyn9000
Hair : Lucy Romero @braidqueenla
Makeup : Draco @drvco

Time Posted: Mar 31, 2022 at 9:25 AM Permalink to Changing the Game for Dance Creatives : A Q&A with the Talented Taja Riley Permalink
The McBride Sisters
 
March 22, 2022 | The McBride Sisters

Cultivating a Thriving Community of Brilliant Women

Did you know in 2020, women accounted for nearly 41% of all gamers in the United States? [Forbes] Female gamers are on the rise and building authentically inclusive communities. Some of the incredibly passionate, nerdy women behind this charge are the founders of the*gameHERs!

The*gameHERs is a women-led community dedicated to amplifying and centering the voices of women and femme identifying gamers. Founded by Laura Deutsch, Rebecca Dixon, Verta Maloney, and Heather Ouida in March 2020, they set out to amplify and center the voices of women and femme-identifying gamers today and every day. 

They created a sexist-free space for the casual players, the hardcore gamers, the techies, the streamers, the designers, the cosplayers, the developers, and programmers. We’re raising a glass to these rulebreakers and game changers for Women’s History Month! Learn more about their mission to become a household name in the gaming community.

*the gameHERs

Tell us about your business and what inspired you to start:

We were inspired to launch the*gameHERs because women and femme-identifying gamers are quite simply brilliant & so underrepresented in the gaming industry. We wanted to be a part of changing that & making sure women and femme-identifying gamers were celebrated, amplified, making money, and having fun!

It really hit home when two of our founders attended a conference about the future of the esports industry and they were among a handful of women in the room. A few cocktails and strategy sessions later, we decided that through a combination of our previous community-building experiences and an awareness of the need for representation in esports and gaming, our company was needed. 

Since the*gameHERs officially launched in March of 2020, we have cultivated a thriving community that can be accessed in a variety of ways; from our social channels, our streaming content, our collegiate division, our annual Awards Show, and our very own app which launched in late 2021. 

Who inspired you to break the rules or think beyond them as women in your industry? 

Our inspiration to break the rules comes from so many places, starting with our mothers. We want to share the women that inspired our logo design because they were badasses & broke all the right rules. 

the *gameHERs logo

The * in our logo honors Q*bert:

Doris Self: First Female and the World's Oldest Competitive Gamer. At the age of 58, Doris Self was one of the first female competitive gamers when she entered the 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament and broke the world high score record for Q*Bert with 1,112,300 points. Although her score was beaten a few years later, Self continued to work towards conquering Q*Bert. Self was featured in the documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”, when Pac-Man world champion Billy Mitchell presented her with a Q*Bert arcade machine, spurring the then 79-year-old Self to start competing again. Tragically, in 2006, at the age of 81, Self passed away from injuries she received in a car accident. Although she is no longer in the game, her legacy will last in the annals of classic competitive gaming.

The yellow-redish lines in our logo honor the Vintage packaging in Centipede:

Determined to break into the game-making biz, Dona Bailey accepted a position as an engineer at Atari in 1980. Carol Shaw had already left for Activision, so Bailey was the only female game designer at the company. While there, she co-created and designed, along with Ed Logg, the classic arcade hit, Centipede. After its release to instant success, Bailey disappeared from the video game industry only to resurface 26 years later as a keynote speaker at the 2007 Women in Games Conference. Bailey revealed it was the pressure and criticism from her male counterparts that drove her from the business. Today, Bailey encourages women to pursue careers in games. She works as a college instructor teaching numerous courses, among them game design.

3 colors side-by-side honor the vintage packaging in River Raid and orange/yellow colors/font in PONG (from Atari 2600):

Computer programmer Carol Shaw is best known for her work at Activision with the retro hit River Raid, but years before, Shaw had already made a name for herself in the history of video games. In 1978, she was the first woman to program and design a video game, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe for the Atari 2600. In 1983, the final game that Shaw completely programmed and designed herself, Happy Trails, released just as the video game market crashed. With the industry in shambles, Shaw took a break from making games but returned in 1988 to oversee the production of River Raid II, her final swan song in the world of console gaming. Shaw and her husband Ralph Merkle, a specialist in the fields of cryptography and nanotechnology, are retired.

How does your sisterhood - friends, family, and colleagues - support you personally and professionally? 

First and foremost we want to shout out and raise a SHE CAN to the amazing women that work at the*gameHERs. We are so grateful to have a diverse, strong team working at the*gameHERs … that also happens to be over 90% women. The respect, kindness, and support they show each other makes every meeting, Zoom call, and event so supportive and positive, it's really one of the best parts of building the business.

As a company, we are also so fortunate to have a trusted group of women on our advisory board who come from inside and outside the industry and provide guidance, feedback, and support.  

Verta: My sisterhood is my best friend and business partner Naa, my daughter, Simone, my beautiful mother, Wannetta and my twin sister, Juanita. They are literally the village that makes it possible for me to be out in the world doing the things I love. They keep me laughing and they keep me honest and most importantly they believe in me.

What does women empowerment mean to you in 2022?

For us at the*gameHERs women empowerment means:

  • amplifying and centering the voices of women and femme-identifying gamers today and every day. 
  • creating safe and sexist-free space for the casual players, the hardcore gamers, the techies, the streamers, the designers, the cosplayers, the developers, the programmers, and all women in the industry. 
  • advancing the role, voice, image, and power of all the*gameHERs in the gaming world. 
  • collaborating with anyone who believes what we believe because there is space for all of us to be great. 

What goals would you like to achieve this year to advance yourself and your business?

This year we want to meet as many of our community members as possible. We want to grow and expand our community in the United States and globally. We want to become a household name because everyone is a gamer and/or has a gamer in their lives that they love. We want to be the go-to place for elevating, amplifying, and honoring women and all the*gameHERs in the world. 

What’s your favorite SHE CAN flavor?

SHE CAN Island Citrus is a favorite because as Verta’s Caribbean family would often say ... “I was processed in the islands and manufactured in the states.”

 

Time Posted: Mar 22, 2022 at 7:28 AM Permalink to Cultivating a Thriving Community of Brilliant Women Permalink
The McBride Sisters
 
March 14, 2022 | The McBride Sisters

Sparking Drive & Encouraging Confidence in Women - Meet the LiCi Fit Team

When you feel good, you look good! The women behind the athleisure brand, LiCi Fit are on a mission to encourage self confidence. Personal trainers Liz and Cinee were inspired to create LiCi Fit due to the lack of flattering gym wear for all sizes in the fitness industry.

LiCi Fit is more than just an activewear brand - it’s a chance to help women around the world feel comfortable in their own skin while they work hard to achieve their goals.

"We think it's time to be unapologetic about our curves and flaunt what your mama gave you!” Raise a glass to these rulebreakers to celebrate Women's History Month and learn more about how they're challenging the status quo.

LiCi Fit Founders and SHE CAN Wines

Tell us about your business and what inspired you to start. 

LiCi Fit is a fitness and lifestyle brand designed to encourage self confidence and spark drive in women who aren’t afraid to stand out. It started as a passion project for us and a desire to create something fun together. In 2017, being personal trainers and heavily involved in the fitness industry here in LA, we felt like the options for women’s fitness wear were missing something. We loved matching sets, and would search far and wide for the cutest fits with bright patterns. The problem we ran into was finding gym attire that had a fun and different look with a flattering fit to hug the curves we work so hard in the gym for. We were spending hundreds of dollars on other athletic brands, only to have them tailored to fit properly! Our frustration turned into inspiration to create our own brand to provide women with the kind of athleisure wear we would want to rock in and out of the gym. 

We pride ourselves on creating styles for all body types, but our Scrunch Leggings and shorts are what we're known for. Let's be real, it's 2022 and it's all about the booty. Big or small, round or flat, all booties matter and the scrunch design is going to make you give yourself a double take in the mirror! The design process came from that same desire to feel sexy and stand out when working out. We wanted that extra little motivation and encouragement. When you feel good, you look good! Women all around the world are loving the confidence they get when they put on their LiCi. We think it's time to be unapologetic about our curves and flaunt what your mama gave you! 

Who inspired you to break the rules or think beyond them as women in your industry?

We both come from strong willed, independent women. Our moms definitely raised us to break the rules if it meant standing up for what is right and making our dreams come true. We are just two young women really building from the ground up, trusting our instincts and the journey. When we met we instantly got along and have been attached at the hip ever since. Despite so many people saying "Don't start a business with your best friend," we beat the odds and started LiCi. We challenge the status quo daily and it pushes us to learn and sharpen our skills in communication, patience and respect for each other. We hope to keep growing and inspiring women to break the rules don’t take no for an answer! One of Cinee’s favorite quotes is “closed mouths don’t get fed”- a common theme we’ve instilled in our team and all live by.

LiCi Fit Founders and SHE CAN Wines
 

How does your sisterhood - friends, family, and colleagues - support you personally and professionally? 

Our team really is like a family. We have grown a sisterhood and bond where we can be ourselves, support each other, and have fun while working hard. A lot of our girls come from very toxic work environments. We wanted to create a space we would want to come to work in. To have found a group of women who love LiCi as much as us is a dream come true. These women are the heartbeat of LiCi. We ride together through the ups and the downs personally and professionally. We even work with a life coach who meets with our team monthly for extra support in communication and team building. 

What does women empowerment mean to you in 2022? 

When we started LiCi, we thought we were just making sports bras and leggings. Now we know we’re doing so much more than that. We have brought together a community of women that RIDE for LiCi and we couldn’t be more proud. Outside of our LiCi community, we are always looking for other women-owned brands to partner with and uplift any way we can. We understand how hard it is to start a business as a woman and love to offer advice and share our experiences in hopes that it might give them the confidence to go after their dreams. If we can do it, so can you! 

In the past year we’ve put a lot of energy into different events to bring women in our community together. We’ve hosted boot camps, hikes, and empowerment circles where women can be open and heal. We want the community of women we’re bringing together to feel like they are a part of something special. It’s important to us to hold a space where women can be themselves and love themselves fully. These women are more than friends, they’re family. We hope to leave a mark not only as a clothing brand, but a movement of strong, independent, fearless women. 

What goals would you like to achieve this year to advance yourself and your business?

One of our main goals moving into this year is humanizing the brand. We are known for our glamorous shoots and bright prints, but at the end of the day we are just normal girls who have many facets and flaws too! We are on a mission to instill confidence in women all over the world by being unapologetically themselves. We’re learning daily how to be vulnerable and share the good and bad days, to show other women that perfection is a beauty standard we can leave behind. We hope to change the way women view themselves, to know their worth and beauty beyond the exterior. 

What’s your favorite SHE CAN Wines flavor?

SHE CAN Wines Fresh White for sure!

 

Time Posted: Mar 14, 2022 at 10:31 AM Permalink to Sparking Drive & Encouraging Confidence in Women - Meet the LiCi Fit Team Permalink
The McBride Sisters
 
March 10, 2022 | The McBride Sisters

Celebrating Black Hair and Culture: Amplifying the Message of Self Love

For Women’s History Month, we’re raising a glass to the rulebreakers. We’re celebrating sisterhood in March with gratitude and appreciation for the visionaries, innovators, entrepreneurs, mentors & advocates who are changing the world. 

Make way for the #1 Black owned selfie museum, The Black Hair Experience ! Combining pop-up art and a series of Instagrammable spaces, The Black Hair Experience pairs the nostalgic moments of Black culture with affirmations of self love. The exhibits can be found in major cities across the U.S. - Atlanta, DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia region) and Los Angeles, with locations coming soon to Austin, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia and Charlotte.

Inspired by two friends who both share a love and appreciation of Black hair, founders Alisha Brooks and Elizabeth Austin-Davis joined forces to create an exhibit dedicated to celebrating Black communities. For our Women’s History Month Q&A, they discuss their inspirations and what women empowerment means to them in 2022.

The Black Hair Experience

Tell us about your business and what inspired you to start.

The Black Hair Experience is an interactive selfie exhibit created to celebrate Black hair and culture. As Black women, it is and was important for us to create a space that celebrated our beauty and further the message that all Black hair is beautiful no matter how you choose to wear it. 

Who inspired you to break the rules or think beyond them as women in your industry? 

Honestly, we inspire each other. We are constantly pushing each other and challenging ourselves to think outside the box. We are both creatives in two different lanes but our skills complement each other. We are always amazed at what ideas the other person comes up with. 

How does your sisterhood - friends, family, and colleagues - support you personally and professionally? 

Being friends first and business partners second is our secret sauce. We really understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We also understand when the other person needs a break. Our spouses and friends have been our rocks! They have been supportive since The Black Hair Experience was just a dream. From putting in the physical labor to just providing a listening ear when we hit a wall, our community really exemplifies the saying “it takes a village.” 

What does women empowerment mean to you in 2022?

Women empowerment in 2022 looks like showing up for one another publicly and privately. It means using your voice and platform to provide opportunities for other women and making space for their ideas. Women empowerment looks like lifting as you climb. 

The Black Hair Experience

What goals would you like to achieve this year to advance yourself and your business?

We want to amplify the message of self-love and that all Black hair is beautiful. We want to do that through community outreach initiatives, our We Care workshops, and getting The Black Hair Experience in front of as many people as possible.  

What’s your favorite Black Girl Magic Wine varietal?

We are both in agreement on this one! The Black Girl Magic Riesling and the Black Girl Magic Rosé for sure! 

 

Time Posted: Mar 10, 2022 at 10:29 AM Permalink to Celebrating Black Hair and Culture: Amplifying the Message of Self Love Permalink
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