I Am My Brand 2018 - Black 49er Edition - Live FinESSe

I Am My Brand- Black 49er Edition-Essence Sylvia Smith- Live Finesse.png

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Last year (June 2017), I released a list “20 Something Doing Something- Black 49er Edition”. This post was dedicated to 20 "young" movers and shakers out there doing it. They all shared  the same commonalities:

  • They are within their 20s

  • They are apart of the Black UNCC family

  • Each excels in their area of expertise

  • They continue to find success with life after college in their endeavors. 

I think this list is important because it can help connect the black population at UNC Charlotte as it continues to grow. It’s also important to shine light on individuals who are really working hard.

This year I am posting a new list. The individuals on the list have the same commonalities as before. However, the list has a few changes. I changed the name to “I Am My Brand- Black 49er Edition” for several reasons but one relates to an Instagram post I put up not too long ago. The point of my post was to share that when you are your brand you are constantly working, thriving, and focused. The second change is to include black alum of ALL ages. My plan is to drop this list every homecoming. We all know that’s a big event for not only UNC Charlotte but our Black Community as well. So, here’s a list of 20 (well 22) Black 49ers who are their brand.

In no particular order, lets begin..

  1. Ahmad Boney

The Black Elite

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Ahmad created The Black Elite in 2015. More than just another homecoming party promotion team, The Black Elite has 3 tiers: The Black Elite Nightlife, The Black Elite Travels, and The Black Elite Cares Foundation. The Black Elite provides an opportunity in which blacks can have positive engagement with each other and feel safe doing so. He makes the list because on top of everything that he does, Ahmad secured a deal with Live Nation.

2.Tahji Kaigler

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Now “Watch This”, Tahji relocated to Los Angeles for a new start and this has been a huge win for his career. He released his EP “Genesis” on August 10th and currently has over 80,000 streams. Be sure to go check him out!

3. Princess King & Angelica McDonald

Black Element

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Black Element is an apparel company inspired by the owners love for their alma mater, UNC Charlotte. It speaks to the culture of a generation of educated and innovative individuals. Both, Princess “PK” and Angelica juggle continuing their education and their careers, However, they still manage to produce great t-shirts.

4. Danny McCaleb Jr. & Brian Okoye

District Avenue

Daniel McCaleb and Brian Okoye

District Avenue is a lifestyle, contemporary, and seasonal fashion hub commonly referred to as “The Shelter”. The company has two parts: 1. they are a online portfolio where multiple brands sell and showcase their products 2. they aim to provide the culture with unforgettable experience through their events. Daniel and Brian make a great team!

5. Zakiyah Everette

House of Zakiyah

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This former reality TV star has both brains and beauty. Zakiyah is a Masters Student at UNC Charlotte, an Apparel Curator, and former house guest of the CBS hit show Big Brother 18. This stylish lady has owned her own swim line and has just started an online boutique, House of Zakiyah.

6. Dr. Justin Okons

Medical Resident

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Black men make up less than 7 percent of students enrolled in U.S. medical schools. It’s an extreme accomplishment that Justin graduated from Drexel University Medical School in 2017. He is now training at LSU New Orleans in Emergency Medicine. If you are ever in New Orleans and things take a turn where you need emergency medical attention, call Dr. Okons.

7. Tyler Hickey

Body by T

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Tyler, owner of The Body by T Fitness describes himself as your typical college entrepreneur. Tyler started in the basement of UNC Charlotte’s gym. He began his brand based on the idea that fitness should be affordable to all. His training philosophy is built on having coaches, not trainers. A trainer effects a client for the 1 hour they train with them, but a coach effects the other 23 hours of the day because fitness is a lifestyle.

8. Chantal Hamid

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Why rent when you can buy? Chantal Hamid is a Realtor that services Charlotte and the surrounding areas. She is a member of The McLaurin Realty Group- Affiliate of Katie Lane Real Estate LLC. She always provides home buying tips every Tuesday. If you are purchasing a home make sure the property is “Closed with Chantal”.

9. Urriah Robson

Lasting Impressions Auto Detailing

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Urriah, owner of Lasting Impressions Auto Detailing is devoted to providing an unmatched car detailing experience in the Charlotte Area. He continues to strive for perfection beyond today's definition and truly brings that "WOW" factor back to your vehicle.

10. Justin Navarro

Hair Wins

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Justin is one half of the new hair company, Hair Wins. He and his partner Tee created a hair company for ALL. Though , they are a new company they still provide high quality wigs and extensions for all your hair needs. Join #TheWinningTeam

Be sure to use my promo code “finesse15” for 15% off your order ! This deal can be stacked with their current BOGO promotion.

11. Gabrielle Powell

Stereo Production Coordinator

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Gabbie, as many people know her works as a Previs Coordinator and 3D Stereoscopic Production Coordinator with Marvel. She has worked on Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Thor: Ragnarok, Tomb Raider, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. She recently began a new position as a Stereo Production Coordinator.

12. Joshua Lee


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There’s no party like or event like a DJ JLee party. Josh began at UNC Charlotte and though he is booked and busy at other gigs he still finds time to support the Niner Nation at various events. Balancing work life, fatherhood, and DJing, He truly is THE man you want at your next event.

13. Alvin “JR” Shepherd

Big Al’s BBQ

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Alvin “JR” Shepherd, informally known as Big Al, uses his family heritage from Eastern-North Carolina, where he has drawn inspiration and influence when it comes to Big Al’s Barbecue. He makes his barbecue sauce fresh to order. He is available for catering services, weddings, cook-outs, family functions and/or whenever you or the community needs fresh East-Carolina style barbecue.

14. Jowette Bobray

The Spark

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Jowette is a firm believer in Black Love. Shes uses her own marriage as a platform to unite black couples through engaging events, uplifting conversations, and creative date nights. She’s trying to help black couples keep things exciting and keep “the spark” alive.

15. Andrea Murray

Dre’s Design Shop

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Andrea can create almost any item. She specializes in bringing a personalized touch to your daily household items and special gifts. Customization is her thing. Be sure to follow her so you don’t miss out on her next giveaway.

16. Meisha Frontis

Simply Mei

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The blogging world can be hard, let alone being a black blogger. However, Meisha tackles it with ease. She also juggles working full time, motherhood, and being a graduate student. Humble, eager, and driven are just a few words to describe her. Meisha is taking over the blogging world. Have you read HER story?

17. Raven Johnson

Pour Up Atlanta

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Raven’s Pour Up Atlanta is a brand new company. Offering mobile bar-tending services, gift sets, and recipes. She even has a candy shop as a tribute to one of the biggest staples in the Cone Center. Book her for a fun time because you can #PourUpInAnyCity and everyone knows Raven is the life of any good party.

18. Brenae Combs

Be The Beat

Brenae Combs

I literally remember Brenae at her Freshman orientation. Now, she is beating faces as a free lance MUA. Brenae has acquired over 5k subscribers on her YouTube Channel, Be The Beat. We love a good beat honey! She is taking over the make-up world one beat at a time.

19. Keisha 'Sparkle' Hughes

Professional Dancer

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Keisha has come a long way from UNCC’s Tantrum Dance Team. After graduating, she took her talents back to New York. Her dancing skills are impeccable. She has graced the stage with popular artists such as Cardi B, Janelle Monae, and Lil Kim to name a few. She wants you to keep evolving your style with @keysbykeisha.

20. Alexis Louder

Professional Actress

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Alexis has graced the big screen in the hit movie, Black Panther. She has also appeared in TV Shows such as: The Quad, Green Leaf , and Star. Look out for this actress as she continues to make strides in Hollywood.

To my influencers/owners/artist who made the list, know that I see your hustle and your grind. I salute you and wish you much success and prosperity. Continue to inspire others within and outside of the 49er community, you never know who's watching. 

Be sure to congratulate all those who made the list!

And As Always,✨


Want to be featured or have a recommendation for my next list of I Am My Brand-Black 49er Edition ?

Send your submissions/recommendations to



Last years list

  1. Janelle Collins- Orijanelle Designs and Grit Appael Co.

  2. Justin Surgeon- Inigma Productions

  3. Damien Allgood- Allgood Trade Enterprise

  4. Latesha Byrd- Byrd Career Consulting

  5. Shante’ Bruke- Burke- Hayer Law Firm, PLLC

  6. Shaud McCray- DR3AM3RS

  7. D’Angelo Taylor- Super Dope Nation

  8. Bree Law- Quirktastic

  9. Fabian Elliott- Black Tech Mecca

  10. James Shipman- Prime Time Aesthetics

  11. Brianna S. Johnson- B. Glamhairous

  12. Joseph Okeiga- Task Away

  13. Vernisha Crawford- B.Y.E. LLC. and Miss All Natural Pageant

  14. Khaleel Loyd- Lloyd Visuals LLC.

  15. Lamar Devereux- Designs by Devereux

  16. SeQuoya Addison- sequoya dakota

  17. Rico Lindsay- Sole Individual

  18. Mic Armstrong- Sol.Leigh

  19. Darryl P. Bellamy Jr.- Bellamy Inspires

  20. Essence Sylvia Smith- Live FinESSe

Speaking of Homecoming…

Did You Know?

Freddy K and I are Co-Founders of The Young Black Alumni. We are both members of the UNCC Greek community. However, every year we provide a tailgate experience for ALL. We truly believe that homecoming is a time for celebration and should include EVERYONE.

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Have you gotten your YBA Homecoming “Tailgate Experience 2018” ticket yet?


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