Women are entrepreneurs

Celebrating Women’s History Month with local business owners

By Sakina Stamper

Unless you are a business owner, you probably haven’t completed an external environmental analysis recently. In other words, in case you haven’t been looking closely, women as entrepreneurs are certainly on the rise. What better way for Women’s History Month than to discuss the impact Baltimore women are having in the business world.

Three Baltimore women are doing their part to make history not only for their families, not only for their children, but for the greater good of the world. These Baltimore women are role models for other women who are budding entrepreneurs. Proving that it is possible to be a mother and an entrepreneur, Tammira Lucas, Shantell Roberts, and Carmin Coates are successful business owners, each on a mission to make their own history.

Though people decide to take that leap from employee to entrepreneur for different reasons, it is important to know what some of those reasons are because they may resonate with many other people. “What drove me to want to be an entrepreneur is not having the capabilities to work for someone. Wanting the freedom and to be able to control what I make and how far I go, and not having someone dictate those things for me”, said doctoral candidate Tammira Lucas. One of the common qualities of entrepreneurs is the general feeling of not being satisfied working for someone else. Carmin Coates, owner of Soiree Conceptions, LLC. said that “not wanting to work for someone for the rest of my life and building their legacy” lead her to entrepreneurship and having “the opportunity to do things [her] way.”

For others, entrepreneurship may come a little differently. Shantell Roberts, founder of Touching Young Lives, Inc. speaks of her road to entrepreneurship a little differently. “It just kind of happened after the death of my daughter. One of my good friends told me that I should start a foundation in the honor of my daughter. I started doing a lot of research and realized there was a painful problem in my community that I needed to address” said Roberts. There are so many life events that can lead us to realize the many issues and problems in this world that need resolution. Something that can be the one of the worse life experiences can lead to one of the greatest experiences if one sees the opportunity presented between the darkness.

Tammira Lucas is known for seeing an opportunity and immediately taking it by the horns. Twenty-nine years old and already involved in various businesses (The Business Dr. a consulting company, MAE, and the nonprofit RISE). “I always see opportunities out there that I have a passion for. I just see opportunities. I see a problem and it’s bothering me so I need to start a business to solve that problem” said Lucas. Starting a business is all about solving problems. If your business does not solve a problem that many people are impacted by, your business will not survive.

In business ownership, one can never truly be prepared for the highs and lows it presents. For every high, there will be just as many lows, whether silent or loud. Coates describes her one of her lows as business being “a consistent learning process and every lesson is not going to be one that you are going to enjoy. You have to be able to distinguish what’s good for your business and what’s not”. Her business, Soiree Conceptions, LLC is an event planning business, thus one of her highs is “having your client appreciate your work and show their admiration,” Coates says. Customer appreciation always goes a long way to the longevity of a business. However when it comes to operating a non-profit such as Touching Young Lives Inc., securing adequate funding is the key to a successful organization. Roberts speaks to one of her main lows when she says “financially if you are not able to carry out your mission or programming that is a major setback. I hate when I have to compete against another program for funding. Programming can only be as good as its funding”. Lucas has experienced this as well with her non-profit RISE. Both ladies have great non-profit organizations that aim to change lives in Baltimore and are not going to allow lack of fluid funding prevent them from working their missions.

There is so much more history to be made in this world and it starts with more women taking the leap of faith from employee to entrepreneur. Many women dream of it, but doubt if they can actually achieve it. The best advice for women out there is to get out of their own way and make it happen, because you can. Roberts says, “If you have a dream, do something every day to make that dream happen”. Being an entrepreneur is a dream that can become a reality with hard work, dedication, and “surrounding yourself with other people that help uplift you and take you to where you want to be” Coates adds.

You may be scared, but turn that fear into fuel. As Lucas says, “If you don’t do it, how will you feel ten years from now? At the end of the day you can’t be scared to fail”.

For more information on these women entrepreneurs and their businesses, like their businesses on facebook and their websites are below:


The archaeology of a poet

By Belinda Sacco

Baltimore’s first Youth Poet Laureate Derick Ebert sat down after the release of his first collection of poetry “Black Boy Archaeologist” to discuss origins, influences, and how far he’s come as an artist in the span of two short years.

When and how did you get interested in poetry?

I got into poetry around my sophomore year at UB. The generic story I always like to tell is I was in a two-year relationship and then, after we ended it, I couldn’t find an outlet, and Anthony Moll, who was my professor freshman year always showed spoken word videos before he started class… and I always found spoken word very interesting. So I said, “Let me Google some spoken word artists and just listen.” I listened for a few weeks and was like, “Wow, this is really cool. I think I’m going to give it a try.” Eventually, I just started to write and write and write. I didn’t perform a whole lot until about February of 2014. I would go to very few open mics, get cold feet, and leave, but that was my start. That was my beginning. It was Open Mics, and then finding Dew More Baltimore.

Who or what are some of your main inf luences in writing your poetry?

I would definitely say hip-hop influences a lot of what I talk about. It at least influences the message. Certain rappers and hip-hop artists like Kanye West, J. Cole, and even Kendrick Lamar kind of all talk about the same theme and have the same message. They just do it a different way because, you know, their styles are so different. When I listen to music I’m always influenced and I take what they say and I try to apply it to how I connect to that topic and how I relate, and if I can relate in any way, if I’ve experienced what they’ve gone through in their raps then I apply it to my poetry. In addition, what really influences me is just being out, talking to people– the stories that come from that and the stories that are worth sharing are what influence me the most. I want to tell other people about it instead of just talking how we’re talking right now. I try to find a creative way to present it to the masses in the form of poetry… Also, James Baldwin is one of my favorite writers. He’s influenced a lot of my endings because how James Baldwin ends in a lot of his essays… is so impactful because they just leaving you hanging or they leave you with this sense of closure. So I adopt that style from him in ending with a powerful, breath-taking, drop the mic, walk off the stage message.

And what happens when the people who are in the poetry hear the poetry? For example, I know in your poem “Archeologist” you talk a lot about your father. Has he heard that poem? How did he react?

He has heard “Archeologist.” There is some conflict with that only because he doesn’t really understand what the poetry is saying–or maybe he does; we haven’t really talked about the poem before. He just feels like in the poem I’m telling him he’s not doing a good job of being a father, but really I’m not. It’s just that we have separate interests. The poem even starts off with him telling me and my brothers “How about you be interested in something like this? Something like…” Something like what he’s interested in. And at the end of the poem I talk about how he’s always given us everything and that I’m appreciative of that, but, even though he’s always wanted me to be these things, I wanted to be something completely different. I want to be who I am. It’s really a poem about that. But I think he’s still getting into the groove of me being a poet. Eventually, he’ll just grow into it.

What’s your writing process like?

With being a poet for two years now, my process has changed. Before, I would just wait for poetry to come to me and that would give me a poem a month. A lot of my coaches were telling me “you just have to write daily” and I was like “no, I like when poetry comes to me; it’s hard to just push things out.” And then, it got to a point where I was doing the same poems over and over like “Archeologist” and “Animal,” so I was like “Okay, maybe I should start to write daily.” I would listen to a lot of spoken word artist’s workshops on YouTube and I would adapt the style of my concept of how to write–I tell other young poets this at the Baltimore Leadership School for Women where I teach–of just writing. Writing poetry is almost like writing in your diary and getting all the concrete things out, getting all the messy things out, getting everything you have to say out, and then you can let it rest or you can look at it and some of the things that don’t flow you can cross out or add more in, because once you push all the fluff out of the way and you really get to what you want to talk about, you continue to write. And it’s fine to make a little more scribbles and waste some pages. Don’t rip the pages out, just keep the pages there to see how far you’ve come. My process now is to write a lot of concrete things about whatever I’m going to talk about and eventually I’ll get to the point where I know exactly what I want to write about and incorporate literary devices and go to poem.

Birthday bash for Bob Marley

By Matt Nickelson

It’s not often you get to celebrate a legend’s 71st birthday on their actual birthday. I am of course talking about Bob Marley, whose birthday is February 6. The man who helped pay tribute to this legend of music was Junior Marvin. His name may not compare to that of Marley’s, but he played guitar in Marley’s band, the Wailers, for five years. He was invited to join Stevie Wonder or Bob Marley and the Wailers on Valentine’s Day in 1977. He chose Bob Marley because they both had Jamaican roots. He was a key contributor to some of Marley’s biggest releases including 1977’s ‘Exodus’ and 1980’s ‘Uprising.’

Junior now leads his own ten piece band called Junior Marvin’s Wailers. There is a full drum kit, percussions, and two keyboard players. The wonderful celebration of Bob Marley’s birthday was held at the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown. The festivities began with a DJ soul shakedown party for an hour of Marley inspired dance music. The venue usually holds around 150-200 people, but there were many more than that groovin’ to those reggae beats. The chairs were moved out so people could sway and dance to the music.

Junior Marvin’s Wailers were very tight and professional. They also dedicated their performance to Althea ‘Julie’ Layne Hamilton, a vocalist in their band who recently passed away. They brought a special guest, who they introduced as Bobby from Mongolia. He accompanied Marvin on a few songs. They covered many of Marley’s classic hits including ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ ‘Redemption Song,’ and ‘Three Little Birds.’ I don’t be- lieve there was a person who wasn’t singing along; I know I was. They jammed for two hours taking a ten minute break.

Many people may not know that Junior Marvin carries a piece of Maryland with him to every show—his Paul Reed Smith guitar. As of 2012 he has been endorsed by PRS Guitars of Stevensville, MD on the eastern shore. Also, like his late friend Bob Marley, Marvin is a humanitarian. He sponsors the Kana Academy in Ethiopia, which is a school designed to assist in educating children in undeveloped countries.

The audience was a mix of young and old which just goes to show that even though Bob Marley’s been dead for 34 years his music and message of good vibes and peace will always resonate with listeners. Junior Marvin released a new album in February titled ‘Unite the Time Is Right: Africa Is Calling You.’

When the going gets tough, get graphic novels!

“Pleasure reading should be pleasurable,” says librarian Jenny Arch in her blog Look out, honey, ‘cause I’m using technology “Not that you shouldn’t ever explore a new genre or try a book that you find a bit difficult, but if you’re 25 or 50 or 100 pages in and you’re just not that into it, then by all means, put it down and pick up something else instead! You have this librarian’s permission.” Unless you’re doing required reading for a class, she adds, there’s no sense driving yourself crazy with a book when you can be enjoying one instead.

It can be difficult to read a book your friend recommends when you’re swamped with school work. After hours with a textbook it can be hard to concentrate on an intricate novel or thought-provoking nonfiction. Are those books better left for summer reading, when you can give them your full attention?

Kemi Kodja, a finance major at UB who works at Langsdale Library, is now reading W.I.T.C.H., an Italian fantasy comic series written by Elisabetta Gnone, Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa. Kodja started reading the series for the second time in her life, this semester, after a UB writing professor asked her class to reflect on what made them love reading.

The first time Kodja read W.I.T.C.H., she was in third grade and living in Benin. Her edition was a French translation. After being inspired by her Writing

300 assignment, Kodja picked up her old French translation of W.I.T.C.H. and struggled to get through it with a French/English dictionary at her side. Mainly an English speaker now, Kodja ultimately decided to read the English translation of W.I.T.C.H. online.

Kodja likes shelving books at the library because it’s a great way to find new books to read. This time of the semester, however, she is feeling daunted by the pile of library books she has checked out.

Still Kodja wanted to stay on top of everything she had to do, so you can imagine how happy she was when she discovered The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need on Langsdale’s shelves. “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko” is America’s first business book in the Japanese comic format known as manga – and the last career guide you’ll ever need” says the graphic novel’s author, Daniel Pink, on his website. Entertaining as well as inspiring, the book can be read in an hour or two.

Readers can also find Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, another graphic novel on Langsdale’s shelves. Persepolis is considered a modern classic of the medium. The book is a memoir of a girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. “…Full of

thematic imagery,” says book reviewer Rachel Fischer, in Library Journal. The family in Persepolis is fascinating, says Fischer. The main character is an outspoken and intelligent girl with Marxist parents. She also happens to be the great granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. Persepolis could be an engaging way to explore memoir as well as social and political history along with human rights issues.

Similarly, students might want to check out Maus, the Pulitzer prize winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman. Maus is a Holocaust survival story that explores the effects of experiencing the Holocaust. Other graphic novels at Langsdale include Gabba gabba hey!: the Graphic Story of the Ramones, Skim, a tale of growing up goth in the 90s and a graphic novel version of Romeo and Juliet.

To find more graphic novels at Langsdale Library, visit Worldcat at ubalt.worldcat.org.

And remember, you can always put down your book halfway through and pick up a different one.

It’s a digital world

We are living in a digital era, and the backpacking traveler, no matter what country she or he goes to, cannot escape that. Just six years ago traveling backpacker-style (moving on local transport and staying in shared hostels) with a cheap, twenty-dollar cell phone meant one more thing to keep track of. At that time it would have been absurd to consider bringing a smart phone to many places, especially such places where these little computers we call phones are not common and generally reserved for the wealthy. Pulling out a smart phone flaunts one’s wealth, which is never a good idea while traveling.

But things have changed. Wi-Fi started becoming common in hostels and internet-cafés in tourist areas are harder to find. As with many things that change, it is never purely for good or for bad, but it has its ups and downs. In some ways it makes living in the moment more feasible—booking an airline ticket the evening before a flight can be done at 11:00 p.m. from a bed. But it becomes much harder to escape home with Facebook and Twitter still at your fingertips. In many cases human interaction sprung from necessity is no longer needed, at home or abroad. Instead of asking a random person on the street for directions, I can use the maps.me application (a downloadable map that navigates without an internet connection) to find my way. While I just lost a moment of human contact that could have turned into a memorable experience, not many people are around and I am able to get back to my hostel before dark, knowing I am heading in the right direction.

Like so many decisions when traveling, deciding whether or not to bring a smart phone is a personal one that can only be decided by you. In my recent experiences, traveling with a smart phone made my life much easier. I pre-booked hostels so I had an address to hand the taxi driver, I was able to easily navigate my way around streets, I booked overnight train tickets a few days prior to get a sleeper berth, and I set up tours which were important to me ahead of time to ensure I’d have the experiences I wanted.

Still, some of my favorite memories from being on the road are the unplanned ones, the ones where I had very little idea of where I was going and how to get there and getting lost at some point was eminent. Those are the moments that reminded me that I’m strong and capable and that life isn’t as difficult and complicated as we make it out to be. If you’re unsure, then do a little research about your destination before deciding.

And whatever you decide, live the experience and don’t be trapped by spending precious time emailing and updating social media.

Spring Fashion Fling

8 fashion tips that are “2 Legit to Quit”

By: Sakina Stamper

Flowers, sunshine and showers Oh My! Time to tell those winter fashions good bye! Well not quite so fast. People seem to think that whenever a new season rolls around (four times a year) it is cause to go buy a whole new wardrobe. Now I can’t speak for everyone but in speaking for myself I can admit that every year I end up with lots of clothing I never get around to wearing. This bad shopping habit is one that I decided to put an end to for a couple of reasons. The two main reasons would be to save money instead of wasting money and to save resources!

Spring is all about cleaning out the old and brining in the new. However, this does not necessarily mean throwing away everything and buying new things, especially when it comes to fashion. One of the great things about fashion is that based on your creativity level, fashions can be highly transitional from one season to the next. Spring is such a great season in Maryland because you get a taste of various elements. One day it will be rainy, and the next day it will be bright and sunny. Some days it will be in the high 40s, and other days it will be in the low 70s. There is so much fun that can be had with fashionable spring styles.

In order to help you get prepared for Spring 2016, I’ve prepared the following list of tips to help you transition your winter wardrobe into your stylish spring fashion.

Limit your layers

During the winter, we put on as many layers as possible to keep warm. However with the spring, layering can end up being too heavy. Since the spring weather can have different elements, you want to make sure the layers you wear aren’t too heavy, so cotton and linen are good choices.

The denim jacket

I don’t care what year it is, this will always be a staple to wear during spring. You probably already have one, but if not, this would be an item to purchase because of how transitional it is every year. Consider it an investment piece.


The cardigan sweater is really easy and convenient to wear with that sleeveless dress or shirt. If you get too warm you can easily take it off and wrap it around your waist or toss around your shoulders. Also, spring is a very good season for ladies to wear those awesome sweater dresses.


Get creative with pairing some of your darker winter colors such as black and grays with brighter spring colors such as hues of blue, Kelly green, and pinks. A hit of color will make your entire look pop!

Lace and Fishnet panty hose

Not quite ready to put away your favorite combat boots or knee boots? You don’t have to. Pairing the boots with a breathable pair of lace or fishnet panty hose allows you to confidently rock those boots in the spring time.


It is not quite summer time yet, but you can wear shorts. It is perfectly okay to wear your favorite pair of shorts as long as you pair them with your favorite panty hose and boots.

Flowers are your friends

What a better way to style your winter fashions than with hints of f lowers. Flower prints and accessories are a great touch to add a bit of spring flare to your transitional winter fashions.

Don’t forget to have fun! Fashion and style should always be fun. Spring allows us the opportunity to let our hair down and get creative with our looks.

Hopefully these tips were helpful to you. Just remember, springing forward with a stylish wardrobe does not mean you have to go out and spend money. Invest in the current wardrobe you already have by adding a little creativity to it.