Beauty is Payne Owner Teri Payne, (from left to right), The Perfect10 Owner Jennifer Peeples, CJ Heart Studios’ photography studio co-owner LaShandra Harris, and Write Down To It Owner Raquelle “Rocki” Harris are all bosses.
We already know that all over Black women are holding it down during their 9 to 5 jobs, shining brilliantly wherever they show up in their careers.
And after work when they “punch out” many of them continue to boss up and go to work again — but for themselves.
Whether they’re making cocktails, taking pictures, or designing nails — these women are indefatigable and working in their second profession that they established through hard work, grit, creativity, and a big side of hustle and soul.
Let’s meet a few of these boss ladies.
Write Down to It
Southfield resident Raquelle “Rocki“ Harris, 43, is one of those women who spoke to The Michigan Chronicle about why she created her six-year-old company Write Down to It, https://writedowntoit.net/. The media personality’s creative writing consulting service includes a blog, podcast, articles and more, that are as real, raw and riveting as her fierce and funny self is.
Harris, who works as a social services specialist through the state of Michigan doesn’t play when it comes to toggling both jobs, even when it gets wearisome at times.
“Sometimes living your dreams and real-life looks like going to bed after 4 a.m. and getting back up at 8 a.m. for your 9 to 5 — that is me literally today working on an article,” she told the Chronicle recently. “I was up working on this article but it’s what I do.”
Harris has been in social services for the past 20 years and said while she likes her job the restraints can make it tough but the financial stability and benefits for her family are worth it all. Harris, who won an award for her work in media, learned over time that she can have it all — her way.
“The pandemic has taught me sometimes just say no and that’s okay,” Harris, a larger-than-life personality, said. “And not every client is the best fit — not all money is good money.”
She added that the biggest struggle as a creative is balancing the business side with the artistic side. But her job in social work helped lend its hand to where she is today — where people saw her creative side when she wrote precisely and engagingly and stood out from others. With her own company she draws from social issues to fuel her content.
“My podcast focuses on culture, entertainment and relationships — my goal is to shift the narrative on things. That’s the social worker in me trying to bring awareness, who is the person behind the person. That is why I love what I do in that aspect. It can be challenging but very rewarding,” Harris said, adding that she also addresses the school to prison pipeline, infertility, open marriages, and more. “I am still in the beginning strategies, still working my 9 to 5 and putting certain processes in place.”
She added that her family, including her husband and two children among others, help her to keep going. “I don’t want people to think I’ve got it all together. … It’s not all glamour. A lot of people think because you write and you meet celebrities, and it’s definitely awesome to connect with different people, it’s a lot of grind behind the shine — I love it.”
CJ Heart Studios
LaShandra Harris, 39, of Dearborn Heights, is a woman on the move. For the past eight years, by day she is a probation agent for the state of Michigan, supervising convicts at Third Circuit Court — a job she’s described as rewarding. By night, and during the weekends, she is the co-owner, with her husband, of a photography company in Canton and Livonia,
“We started our photography company in Livonia kind of not knowing what we were doing,” she said, adding that over the years the company has grown.
Her husband, the head photographer, takes photos in their studios using a variety of set designs including those that are seasonal as well as depicting various celebrations and rooms found in your house.
They opened their Livonia location in 2017 and the Canton one followed three years later.
She added that their Livonia location is smaller and more intimate if people want to have boudoir shoots and more.
“We were surprised at the growth — it was scary but fast,” she said. “I also help with his clients during the shoot with any clothing, wardrobe, hair.”
Harris said that she and her husband, who have a six-year-old, are juggling wearing different hats, but she is glad that her career gives her the flexibility to do this, especially during the pandemic.
“We’ve been basically mobile and working virtually from home, pretty much our weekends are our busiest at the studio,” she said, adding that they sometimes do shoots as late as 10 p.m. based on the client. They also allow other photographers to rent their space. They are also working on adding to their design sets.
“Our sets … make it look like we’re somewhere else — it looks outdoors,” she said, adding that she gives herself time throughout the day. “(I’m in) the habit of once I’m done with work and try not to think about it. … You have to be very demanding of your time, even if it’s 10 minutes or an hour. …I definitely tell people to create the balance and not to have to find the balance.”
For more information visit https://www.cjheartstudios.com/.
Keiona Turner, 48, of Farmington Hills, has been in the insurance industry for over 20 years and is presently an investigator for an auto insurance company. She is also the founder of the GROWN.GROWN clothing brand that she started in 2019, selling branded T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and accessories.
“We request that our customers share their journeys with us and to tell us when they realized they were grown.grown. We are the only brand [where] you have to earn the right to wear,” she said. “Our goal is to grow a community of people who empower others to embrace a grateful and growth mindset.”
Within a four-month time span, her aunt suddenly died and her mother-in-law passed away after her battle with breast cancer.
“With their passing, I had to help plan and prepare for two funerals, become the guardian of a disabled family member, be the executor of an estate and do other tasks that I didn’t even know I was capable of doing, all while still being a wife, a mother, a homeowner, working full time, running a non-profit and still handling all my other commitments,” she said. Following more hardships, including COVID-19 related trials, she learned to rise above it.
“During the most challenging times, I would often joke and say, ‘I thought I was grown before, but now it’s official, I’m grown-grown,’” she said. “Those difficult times forced me to stretch myself further than I knew to be possible. I became braver than I believed and stronger than I seemed. The Grown.Grown brand embodies resilience, perseverance and growth. It’s a reminder that the tough situations didn’t break you but made you stronger. It’s our message to the world that it is our experiences that define us, not our age.”
For more information https://grown2.com/.
Beauty is Payne
Teri Payne, 42, of Detroit, is a manager of a delivery service company during the day and owner of Beauty is Payne, a professional makeup artistry company she started in 2013, by nights and weekends.
“I’m working on an expansion that will involve beautification projects outside of physical appearance. We will include interior design, custom painting, consulting and creative photography,” she said, adding that she sells beauty transformations.
Payne said that she’s always been drawn to beautiful things and deeply appreciates self-expression through makeup and fashion.
“What began as me learning ways to enhance my own looks turned into a successful business,” she said, adding that she keeps her job and business separate by giving each their own undivided attention. “Of course, I’ve had moments where everything didn’t fit as well as I’d like, but those times are few and far between. For me, prioritizing is essential. My job is important, and without it, I wouldn’t have the ability to take my time and build my brand efficiently.”
She added that her job and business require two different versions of her to use a different set of tools in each role that ultimately helps her stay sharp.
“The experiences of both help me all around,” she said. “I’d advise any person looking to start their own venture to research, research, research. Again, my experience has allowed me to build a successful brand slowly while maintaining my employment. That works for me, so I’d suggest that if people have a similar situation, they embrace the security of doing double duty until they know for sure their business will thrive and/or to keep an ongoing successful side hustle.”
Find out more on Instagram at @beautyispaynemakeup.
She’s Pressed Nails LLC
Chondra Jones, 40, of Detroit, works as a special education teacher consultant, and, after launching her luxury press-on nails company, She’s Pressed Nails LLC, in March 2020, she’s working double duty and is loving her work.
“I had been doing nails for over 20 years and was looking into ways to expand and branch out,” she said. “I stumbled upon a nail tech on Instagram that was selling press-ons and I couldn’t believe how great they looked. I saw she was coming to Detroit, from Texas, to teach a class and I decided to invest in myself and enrolled,” she said, adding that her nails are reusable and made with the highest quality material.
“Instead of going to the nail salon during the pandemic, nail sets can be sent directly to your home with all the needed supplies to rock your full-set,” she said, adding that she also has custom filtered face masks and cuticle oil. “I always tell people that when the Lord guides your steps, you can’t go wrong. Because of She’s Pressed Nails, I have not returned to doing actual nail client, just press-ons.”
Her company is already being recognized in a big way. She was asked to complete 50 nail sets for Hulu’s movie premiere of “Bad Hair.”
“The sets I created were featured in the swag gift boxes that were sent to celebrities and influencers. To have Vanessa Williams, Kandi Buress and others tag my business and/or shout me out was everything,” she said, adding that she is still working on balance and helping others wind down. “In the midst of everything going on, people want to still be fly and I am here to help them out!”
For more information visit www.shespressednails.com.
Jennifer Peeples, who has a heavy science background in organic chemistry and biology, is a chemical laboratory scientist by trade and now is a subject matter expert for the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. When she is not doing that, Peeples is overseeing her mixology company, The Perfect10 Mobile Mixology Service, LLC, which she started in 2017. Initially, a mobile bartending service that has worked weddings, corporate event, and the like, she is building up the brand putting more emphasis on cocktail education.
“My mixology classes are geared toward those novices who enjoy a great drink after work,” she said, adding that she wants to also pull people out of their comfort zone and try amazing cocktails with ingredients already in the fridge.
Peeples does virtual mixology classes and sells cocktail kits and bar tools for everyone looking to get their drink on creatively. “Life is too short to drink a bad cocktail,” she said of her company’s motto. “That is my goal, to teach people how to make great things, how to make great cocktails.”
She added that women were created to be bosses. “I just want to tell women that we were created … to be great in everything we can do,” she said, adding that sometimes tears might flow and long nights are often on the agenda, but it’s fulfilling to accomplish that goal. “To just get to that end of the road … you’re going to feel so good. Everything wasn’t built in a day — it takes work and prayer and a good team.”
For more information visit http://www.perfect10mixology.com/.