By Sarah Thompson
Shian Earlington is proof that the most beautiful diamonds are created under pressure. At just 20 years old, Earlington is a biochemistry major with the intent of becoming a neonatal surgeon. She is also a community advocate, activist, K-12 STEM tutor, Get LIT Teens Podcast co-host and a business owner.
Earlington always knew she wanted to be her own boss after seeing how her immigrant parents were poorly treated working for other people, and in February 2020, her dream became a reality when she launched her jewelry, accessory, cosmetics and crafts company.
“Bling’d By Kaila is flashy, nice and sassy—it’s all about fun!” she exclaimed.
Her customers, who she gains mostly through social media like TikTok and Instagram, gravitate toward her handmade charm bracelets, purses and bonnets. They love her genuine and friendly nature, and keep coming back for more.
However, being able to thrive in a pandemic has not been easy.
“At first I was in the land of the unknown, so to speak,” she shared. “Because remember, there was a time when everyone was scared to go outside and people were only going outside to get groceries. So I didn’t know if people would trust me to sanitize their products and send them off. Eventually the trust rolled in and that’s how I’ve been getting sale after sale after sale.”
“Bling’d By Kaila is flashy, nice and sassy—it’s all about fun!”
Earlington puts special efforts into ensuring her customer service is top notch by including handwritten notes and extras in each order she packages, and even goes the extra mile to provide one-on-one consultations. Each order gets a little bit of sparkle when it hits a customer’s mailbox.
“When I’m in the process of doing a transaction with a customer, I like to get to know them better,” she explained. “Sometimes I even Facetime them, and get a little more information about them – like, what’s your favorite color? What candies do you like? I show them things they might be interested in. I like to put a smile on their face.”
Earlington is shining bright these days, but it hasn’t come without struggles.
“Growing up my life wasn’t perfect, and it still isn’t. I struggle with anxiety and depression and my life was not a crystal stair,” she shared. “Now that I’m older and I have moved out on my own, my life is in my own hands and I can do what I want with it now. I’m not only loving on myself, I’m loving on other people and other children that need it.”
And spread sparkles she does, in so many ways. From helping tutor inner city youth to encouraging young Black and Brown women on a podcast, she’s determined to show others how through struggles beauty can be born. She also wants to be an example for other young entrepreneurs who are considering starting their own businesses.
"Do it scared, do it afraid, but as long as you’re doing it and doing it with God, you’re going to be fine. No one’s perfect and you can always perfect anything as time goes by,” she encouraged. “2020 shattered me into pieces. Yet, through it all I trusted in God and I am beginning to feel whole again.”
Bling’d By Kaila is an exclusively online business based out of Hartford, Connecticut. Click here to shop, or find Bling’d By Kaila on Instagram or TikTok. Her hours are 8:00am – 5:00pm EST, Monday through Friday.
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By Lajeune Hollis
Launched in August 2020, ReFramed by Nikki is an eyewear business located in North Haven, Connecticut. Owner Nicole Forbes-Shaw—who goes by “Nikki”—is a nurse by trade who believes that patient care should be a nurse’s first priority.
With an extensive professional background in nursing, Nikki is an Assistant Nurse Manager of the Interventional Immunology Center where she assists in managing two out of six sites that focus on chronic and auto-immune diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus and other inflammatory disorders. Nikki also attends Western Governors University and is actively working to complete her Masters in Nursing in 2022.
To Nikki, “ReFramed means reframing your visual perspective. Your glasses make your whole visual perspective – clear.” The ReFramed by Nikki eyewear includes a range of styles, from chic and precise, to astute and edgy, with eyewear styles categorized in unique collections, each of which has a significant meaning.
The first collection, “The Collective,” was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic and was a way of acknowledging the heroic work of close family, friends and colleagues who worked as essential workers – including Nikki herself. Ten percent of the proceeds from eyewear purchased from “The Collective” collection was given to Yale Haven Hospital’s COVID Relief Fund.
“ReFramed means reframing your visual perspective. Your glasses make your whole visual perspective – clear.”
The second collection, launched in October 2020, is the “While Black” collection. It was introduced to increase cultural awareness and knowledge of common stereotypes and issues faced within the Black community.
ReFramed by Nikki is an online-based eyewear business that also offers services such as virtual and in-person consultations. In-person consultations are offered for a ten-dollar fee per person. These consultations offer an opportunity to meet with Nikki or a brand ambassador to try on and purchase frames upfront (depending on availability). To ensure the utmost safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nikki and her team adhere to CDC guidelines when meeting in-person. Group consultations require a minimum of five people, with the host receiving their consultation free of charge.
Beginning in Spring 2021, ReFramed by Nikki will offer a new service for clients outside of Connecticut who want to try on or purchase frames. This service will allow clients to select four eyewear styles of their choice and schedule a private Zoom consultation with Nikki or a brand ambassador. The brand will also be expanding to include eyewear for kids, readers and smaller frames for petite faces.
Click here to visit the ReFramed by Nikki website or find ReFramed by Nikki on Instagram or Facebook.
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By Alicia Brown
It’s 2021 and some of us still don’t understand how to properly break the cycle—the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle that too many people are familiar with.
Covid-19 made it even harder to juggle finances for some who were living with that paycheck and nothing more, and then suddenly there are layoffs on top of it. For some it was a disaster, for others it became a normal way of life and that is why learning how to balance finances is critical to make surviving this crazy world even easier.
Thankfully, Patrina Dixon, award-winning author, financial education instructor, “dualprenuer” businesswoman of P. Dixon Consulting, LLC has created an It’$ My Money, a business specially designed to help provide clear, helpful pathways to better spending and budgeting.
Dixon is one-of-a-kind. She loves helping people get on the right track and fall in love with saving. In her book, It’$ My Money: Guided Journal, she helps readers understand their relationship with money and encourages her concept of “forget what was”—a motto for brushing aside any guilt for current bad financial habits and instead embracing new, better habits. She emphasizes that it isn’t best to change habits “cold turkey” but instead, embark on a process that embraces nurturing and time—one that Dixon and her book can provide.
From providing tips and advice to taking a deep dive into personal or business financials, Dixon and her team will do it all, with understanding, confidentiality, and patience, through one-on-one classes, virtual finance workshops, and even financial workshops. She helps clients increase their savings and improve their credit scores. She also hosts a podcast called The Money Exchange, where she is joined by special guests to help educate listeners about personal and business finance. What’s more? Dixon has just launched a podcasting workshop for anyone interested in radio blogging or hosting a podcast.
There is almost nothing she won’t do to help her clients break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
Among her specialties are helping clients understand how to acquire multiple forms of income, like passive income and stocks, as well as build up their credit score.
“I imagine myself in my client’s shoes and I want to provide a quality experience,” she shared.
Dixon is one-of-a-kind. She loves helping people get on the right track and fall in love with saving.
Dixon started her business in 2016 and, just like the savings accounts of those who take her advice to heart, it has grown. Throughout the years, she’s stayed humble and true to her roots—focusing on why she teaches financial literacy—which is her goal of helping people achieve happiness instead of being stressed over money.
Dixon’s motivation was her own journey through childhood and into her adulthood watching her mother’s financial habits. Dixon’s daughter remains at the center of Dixon’s “why” as she refers to it.
"My 'why' is my daughter, by far,” she explained. “She’s why I do everything that I do but my inspiration was my mom.”
Dixon’s mom showed her that life can still be beautiful and that she could still have fun without having a ton of money, but, according to Dixon, the stress was there. So, she wants to show her daughter the stress-free way of living, even when she might not have a lot of money.
“I want to say, look, roll up your sleeves and do the work. You can do whatever it is that you want to do. You can dream high and make it happen,” said Dixon.
Dixon says she began this journey through learning and experiencing it herself. She wants to help others because she noticed that as people became interested in her expertise she came to realize that many people aren’t being taught financial planning. That is unless they are taking a webinar or conference hosted by Dixon.
“I wasn’t taught this. I wasn’t t taught this at home, I wasn’t taught this at school,” she explained.
Today, she is widely known as the “It’$ My Money Lady” and has traveled the country providing talks and bringing her financial expertise to hundreds of people. It’s no secret that she wants the best for her clients and community. She even provides adults and college students internship opportunities.
Whatever the season, Dixon is ready to help provide advice and guidance toward financial freedom. Click here to find information about It’$ My Money, including classes, workshops, books and more. Find It’$ My Money on Facebook, and join the It'$ My Money Squad Facebook group! Dixon’s only requirement when you join the group is that you remain active, and that’s not hard to do at all!
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