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Empire Insight: The Check In

Empire Insight shines the spotlight on entrepreneurial women and their success within their community and the positive impact they’re making within the community. We caught up a few Empireliatas to check in on the progress of their entrepreneurial journeys, Ms. Trinidad and Tobago Kenisha Salvary, Candice Mackel of Women Who Hustle, the ladies of Y.A.B. The dish on their upcoming events, current and future projects as well as milestones met since we spoke with them last.

Kenisha Salvary

empire insightCurrently I have found a location for my Gala event and I am deep in the planning stages of the event. I am working with lots of folks and organizations on The Shoe That Grows Gala Fundraiser, like Afghan American Women’s Association, George Mason University’s Afghan Student Union, Members of the Afro Newspaper, and other UN local organizations. We are currently still seeking chefs and entertainers to volunteer on the project. We hope to share final announcements with EmpireLife very soon.

Aside from project planning, I am continuing to develop KenishaSmiles. I continue to speak at different schools and functions, sharing my story of overcoming homelessness and fighting our odds. I am developing special events like the For Smiles 5k, The Christmas Gift Share, and so much more. I am using all of my KenishaSmiles efforts and my love for modeling to bridge the gap between unconventional beauty and charity; so look out for me in a few photos that scream, “I am beautiful, so what if my scars don’t simply fade.” Just think, they said I couldn’t represent beauty due to my many scars now I’m even making scars beautiful.

Speaking of Bridges, there’s a new development, one I am so excited about! As of Tuesday, April 19, 2016, I now sit on the Board of Directors for Bridges to Independence (B2i)  , this is especially important to me since just three years ago I lived at B2i as one of their homeless clients, then I spent a year in their Adopt-A-Family program, and last but certainly not least I am now a part of their permanent family.   I am board member and the Public Speaking/ Fundraising face for B2i. There’s so much more I could tell you about this organization, the projects I have in mind, how my story took a positive turn because of them, and how you can help keep their efforts going. Readers should feel free to contact me for more information and I’ll be happy to tell you more. Visit their website to make a donation. Speaking of donations have you heard about ‪#‎Spring2Action?

As for dreams, right now I have my eyes set on completing my memoir and making Forbes 30 under 30 list, as a research-based social entrepreneur who started a mobile that can help persons facing adversities and poverty.

Candice Mackel

empire insightMost recently, Women Who Hustle joined forces with Chicks With Cheques to create Women, Wealth & Wine which debuted April 3rd in Washington, DC! It was a sold out event, with special guest speaker Dominique Broadway. This is a series that we will continue to grow and will eventually take on the road to assist in educating women about the importance of knowing about your finances.

In addition, we had our first Women Who Hustle COOK event which was also sold out and featured Chef Brazil Murphy. The featured protein was chicken. The ladies left with knowing more about “The Art of Meal Prep” and the many ways to prepare chicken during the week.

For CNPR, I’m proud to announce that I have a team of interns! I launched my program January 2016 and now have my second quarter interns (five returning from the first quarter). I added three more for this quarter. In addition, CNPR is now working with new Soul Artist Ellis Lambert and Woman Entrepreneur & Restaurant Owner, LaTonya Taylor. There are some other possibilities, but those are in the pipe so I can’t speak about them right at this moment.

Women Who Hustle also celebrated our one year anniversary on April 7, 2016! To commemorate the milestone I hosted a breakfast in downtown Silver Spring, MD and the guest speaker was the inspirational Timea Gaines, Author, Entrepreneur and Creator of SheROCKS Awards!


empire insightWhat can be expected from Y.A.B. in the future is building more partnerships in the three different target areas of our venture conglomerate: business development, community engagement & mentorship development, and personal development. Our partnerships with Chicago Public Schools as well as co-working spaces in the City of Detroit have had phenomenal outcomes in bringing more resources to all women of color and ages. However, in the next two years, we plan to expand those developments to more cities where other members and venture partners are located such as Washington D.C. and New York City. A few organizations in the New York City area have reached out to us about being event curators, so we are looking to develop a traveling event series. Overall, we simply want to increase the volume of women in business. Y.A.B. was created to be a change agent, chamber of commerce for women of color and our mission is to continue to provide resources which in turn provides solutions to eliminate problems. Our upcoming events are:

  • Boss. Beauties. Build. – The event is a summer kick-off happy hour that will feature guest speaker Aireal Taylor, Founder of Kidz Cab. It will also feature some of our Detroit Venture Partners as well as Build Institute graduates as vendors.
  • Y.A.B. Presents the 2nd Annual SPARK! Conference – This event is a segment of the Community Engagement & Mentorship entity of Y.A.B. as a part of our “From Girls…to Young, Ambitious, & Beautiful Women” program. This year, the young ladies of Whitney Young High School will be facilitating the development of the 1-Day Conference that tackles areas that help better catapult their future careers.
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Women in Business Event – The theme of the event is “Bridges That Build Up Our Community” and the Co-Founders of Y.A.B. are pleased to be guest panelists alongside some awesome women who are helping to bridge the gap in the business community.
  • Detroit Start-Up Week – Y.A.B. has been asked to take part in two dynamic featured events for Detroit Startup week taking place May 23-27. The first event will be helping low-income individuals get access to capital resources and readiness and will include Chase Bank, Invest Detroit, as well as Comerica Bank. The second event will be on why community matters to social entrepreneurs where we will discuss our co-working space partnerships alongside Bamboo and Build Institute.

Gayima Kanu

empire insight

Gayima, Mantibu and Sallay Kanu

We caught up with Gayima Kanu of the sistership behind Amyang Fashun. The trio recently re-branded and released pieces from their Spring/Summer 2016 collection. Gayima dishes on her favorite pieces and talks about the inspiration behind the brand.

1. Will we see Amyang shutting down NYFW in any of the upcoming seasons or is that top secret?

Yes, our plan is to participate in New York Fashion Week this Fall; September 2016. In the meantime, we’re releasing our first collection of blazers as our spring 2016 Collection. Our first collection of 2016 was released online this past March. That release of course will be available to view and purchase through our revamped website.

2. Okay, back to the collection, What is Amyang saying with this collection and who is it speaking to?

Amyang is saying, “We’re fucking amazing! Look what we can do for you! You can be amazing too!”

3. Describe the fabrics used and how you decided on them?

The typical blend of fabric that you would encounter with a blazer from Macy’s or Nordstrom, what you’re used to feeling, you’re going to get that same feeling.  But, your look is going to be completely different. We couple those fabrics that are

empire insight

Bintumani Statement Blazer

pretty typical of a blazer with African inspired fabric. I say African inspired, because if people really do their homework and look at the history of the fabric that are called “African” fabric, a lot of those fabrics were not created on the continent. We do it such that, not every blazer but the majority of them can be worn by a man or woman. Unisex is key for us. It’s exciting because we get the same reception from whoever sees it and loves it. Men react positively just like women, so that’s really exciting! 


4. What’s your favorite piece from the collection and why?

The answer would have to be the Bintumani Statement Blazer.  The blazer makes a statement.  Like our collection, it immediately catches the eye and peaks interest, but unlike the other Blazers, it celebrates the fusion of a plethora of fabrics and colors while the cut of the blazer celebrates your body.  You can pair it with a T-shirt and Denim or a bodycon dress and illuminate the room effortlessly.  I hope our clients enjoy wearing it as much as we enjoyed creating it.

5. What goals are in mind for the re-branding of Amyang Fashun?

One of the things that we really have decided that we need to make sure we focus on is the intention behind the brand. It means so much to us, and one of the aspects is making sure that what we have to offer to the world is authentic and it really encompasses what Amyang is; what we mean by that and what we’re trying to deliver. And what is that made us even start the brand, it’s centered around individuals whom we may know personally or coming up to us off the street, wanting to know what we were wearing, wanting to know where we got it from, and just wanting more form us. And that just doesn’t happen with clothes.

Amyang Photo Credit: StampDMV Photography

We enjoy celebrating the progress of our Empirelistas and would love to here how you to have grown in your business. Comment with updates below!

IsokeMK is the Executive Editor of Empire Life Magazine and owner of Masani. From Detroit, now residing in metro DC, IsokeMK is a fashionable entrepreneur, with a love for all things fashion, business and marketing. @isokeMK on Instagam, Twitter and Facebook.

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