By Sarah Thompson
Minna Murphy, owner of Zeni Beauty®, has been helping people through the art of makeup for more than two decades and has a heart for helping everyone look and feel like the best versions of themselves. Zeni Beauty® truly is the brand for the everyday woman.
In the early 2000s, Murphy started working as a freelance makeup artist for a film and video production company.
“I started custom blending onset because as every makeup artist knows, trying to carry over 20 shades of foundation in your kit is heavy and expensive,” said Murphy. “The production company repeatedly hired me for almost a decade because I could match anyone’s skin tone—from the lightest to the darkest person. My beauty business was born from the requests I received from the actors and actresses asking how they could get a bottle of the color I just created, because they couldn’t find a better match at the cosmetic counters.”
In 2005, Murphy launched her first business—Makeup Mixology, Inc.—focused on custom blending for women of color, with the hopes of making custom blended foundation readily available to women like her who struggled to find the right shade of foundation. “Historically, Black women have not had as many color options available as other ethnicities,” she said. After years of working with people of every skin tone on set and private clients she refocused her business model to be more inclusive.
“While working in the film and media industry, I met people of all cultures and ethnicities. I realized that despite our perceived difference we all want the same thing and that is to be happy and look fabulous,” she shared.
Murphy combined her years of knowledge, education, and expertise and in February 2019, she launched Zeni Beauty®. Zeni is the shortened form of the word Zarazeni, which is the Czech word for inclusion. She created Zeni Beauty® because her business was growing, and she needed to separate the cosmetic brand from her cosmetic manufacturing business now known as The Makeup Mix Cosmetic Co.
“While working in the film and media industry, I met people of all cultures and ethnicities. I realized that despite our perceived difference we all want the same thing and that is to be happy and look fabulous.”
Murphy took hundreds of custom foundation formulas and created a normalized array of colors that represents the global range of skin tones. Her products are now accessible to an even wider range people.
“There’s a person behind every foundation color in the Zeni Beauty® Cosmetics line,” said Murphy.
“Today, most cosmetic companies offer various shades of brown foundation,” she added. “Custom foundation is different, understanding how to match an individual’s unique undertones is a science. While there are other companies that offer ‘custom blending,’ I understand how to adjust the formula to compensate for the way your skin will react to environmental factors. I have combined my experience as a makeup artist with my training as a cosmetic formulator and created a line of made-to-order products that can be personalized to your skins needs. This is what sets my products apart from other brands.”
All Zeni Beauty® products are environmentally conscious and free from parabens, mineral oil and talc. “Your skin is an organ, it breathes and absorbs,” she explained,” the ingredients in the products you use matter!”
While foundation is her passion and the first product she started making, Murphy’s manufacturing company produces a full line of cosmetic products including foundation powders, concealers, eyeshadows, blushes, lipsticks and lip glosses, all of which can be purchased on her website, zenibeauty.com.
One of Murphy’s future goals is to work with up-and-coming beauty businesses, helping them validate and scale their product formulas. She wants to help others pursue their passions—a beauty entrepreneur helping other entrepreneurs!
“My manufacturing company is preparing to offer small scale production runs for indie beauty businesses,” she said.
She believes that beauty is much more than physical appearance. It’s a reflection of all that is good about people at their core.
“This business is an expression of who I am. I was born to do this,” said Murphy. “I’m finally living my dream.”
Find Zeni Beauty® on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube or visit www.zenibeauty.com. Zeni Beauty® offers virtual consultations and in-person services by appointment at The Alms House Salon, 53 Warwick Street, Middletown, Connecticut.
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By Alicia Brown
Latasha Townes, founder, director and owner of 501(c)3 non-profit Hartford Lending Hands, is on a mission to help families during the holidays and beyond—especially those who cannot afford to purchase toys, groceries or clothing.
In 2013, Townes experienced a low during the Christmas season. She had signed up for a program to receive items for her son but was surprised at the lack of care for the items children and families received. While she appreciated the program, she was disappointed.
“I knew there were other people who felt the way I did. I wanted to do something for them,” she shared. From there, Townes and her husband started to create, cultivate and grow Hartford Lending Hands in order to give back to their community in ways other charities can’t provide.
“Christmas Help for Needy Families” is one of the biggest programs Hartford Lending Hands now runs, but the organization provides assistance year-round for people who are going through hard times. Townes also hosts an “Autism & Me” group for parents who need or want information and support on working with their children, and a youth group for teens age 13 and up called “Kick the Truth” where they can come relax and enjoy being teenagers.
“Feeding Connecticut” is a new project in the works for Hartford Lending Hands. The program will provide healthy meals for those who need it most.
It’s important to Townes that the people who come to her organization for help experience respect and that their dignity is preserved. She has an immensely warm heart and many wonderful ideas for how to make a difference. Whether people are donating or asking for help, Townes is passionate about creating personal relationships with them. She doesn’t sacrifice quality when it comes to helping and taking care of others.
“We still have so much work to do for our community. But with the help of our amazing volunteers I know we can make it happen."
Hartford Lending Hands has been operating out of Townes’ parents’ home but she’s looking to find new, expanded space in Hartford. Wherever she lands, she’s sure to keep the personal connections that have been established through her organization alive and thriving.
With all Townes has created through Hartford Lending Hands, it’s clear to see that her heart is bigger than Connecticut. And she’s got her eyes set on even more.
“We still have so much work to do for our community. But with the help of our amazing volunteers I know we can make it happen. I would love to expand in the future,” said Townes. “I have so many big dreams for this!”
Hartford Lending Hands is self-funded and relies on financial support from generous donors. Click here to donate. Find Hartford Lending Hands on Facebook, Instagram, or visit their website by clicking here.
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Photos provided by Hartford Lending Hands.
1/6/2022 0 Comments
College students and adult learners seeking to engage in a high-tech, hands-on, upwardly mobile field of study, now have a unique educational opportunity offered by community colleges across the nation in partnership with Aquiline Drones, the nation’s only Black-owned drone manufacturing and technology company, that has developed a comprehensive online drone pilot certification course that primes students of all ages to become drone service providers and business owners.
In Connecticut alone, more than half of the state’s community colleges have adopted the exciting curriculum, including Capital Community College in Hartford, Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, and Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson with many other schools soon to take flight.
"We are proud to begin this new alliance with Aquiline Drones, our neighbor in the same city,” said Capital Community College’s CEO Dr. G. Duncan Harris. “Capital is committed to providing our students with opportunities in up-and-coming, high-growth industries and this course gives them an exciting opportunity to take their education to new heights.”
Students are required to enroll in two specific classes to earn their commercial drone operator certificate: "Introduction to Commercial Drones" and "Cloud Connected Drone Operations".
Since the instruction is entirely online, students can work at their own pace. Each course takes approximately four months to complete. Scholarships may be available for qualified students.
For program highlights, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMpMdKKRPkY&t=53s
“Due to the growing demand of drone use cases nationwide, we’re excited to deliver this exceptional technology to our college students now so that they are better prepared for the transportation means of the future,” said Diane Bordonaro, Chief Regional Workforce Development Officer for the Capital-East region of the CT State Community College system.
“It is my goal to institute Aquiline Drones’ ambitious curriculum into every Connecticut state college by the start of the 2022/23 school year.”
Graduates of the drone certification program will have a deep understanding of how to navigate an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the necessary training to obtain the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 Certified Drone Pilot license. Most importantly, these courses arm them with solid entrepreneurial skills that allow them access to a field of countless industries currently serviced by drones, including real estate, construction, farming, public safety, oil and gas and energy and utilities among others. Further, the program helps teach participants how to establish and operate their own commercial drone business.
"Not only are we offering an exciting high-tech journey with these compelling new courses, but we are also priming students to enter a rapidly accelerating industry now growing at a 13.8% rate annually with a potential market of $127 billion. We are creating limitless job opportunities in this rapidly growing space!" said Barry Alexander, Founder and CEO of Aquiline Drones.
Colleges and universities interested in adopting Aquiline Drones online courses into their curriculum can send an email inquiry to: email@example.com.
About Aquiline Drones
Aquiline Drones is a progressive, Black-owned, American drone company founded by highly experienced aviators, systems engineers and IT gurus. With a customer-centric model, US-based manufacturing and supply chain and world-class MRO services, the company offers innovative and successful ways for using drones in commercial activities. Supported by a dedicated UAV cloud, autonomous drone operations with real-time control, and dynamic on-field decision-making capabilities, Aquiline Drones' full-spectrum of technological solutions provide increased applicability across countless industries and environments by delivering real-time data insights. Aerospace-compliant processes for software, hardware manufacturing, and systems integration, along with best-in-class mission capabilities, are being planned and designed. The company continues to forge relationships with federal, state, and private organizations, developing and collaboratively launching new drone applications. Visit www.AquilineDrones.com for more information and follow all exciting company news and updates on AD’s social platforms.
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