Successful Sistas: Racquel Dwomoh

26 03 2010

Successful Sistas is an interview series featuring successful women pursuing their dream careers.

Job Title: Founder of QuellyRue Designs [,]

What is QuellyRue Designs?

QuellyRue Designs is a collection of “one-of” and very limited handmade crafts. This includes tote bags, blankets, decorative pillows, jewelry, hand-crocheted hats and scarves, stationary products and electronic accessories. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though; I plan to wander, dabble and expand my crafts to whatever I am in the mood to learn.

How did you become interested in design?

The heart of me is creating, whether it is a portrait, painting, photography, crochet, felt or jewelry. I’ve been passionate about art and design for just about as long as I can remember. Crafting is fun, and I love nothing better than to spend the day covered in paint, surrounded by scraps of fabric, all tangled up in yarn. The end result- cozies, cowls, totes, headbands and whatever else- strikes my fancy!

Why did you create this business?

Throughout my life, I have felt the urge to create and to express myself artistically. I find enjoyment in the process of design and in the end result, which is ultimately a product of my compassion for all things handmade. And so, I combined my love for hand crochet and art fancies to create my own collection of handmade crafts.

What do you love most about it?

I love the wonderful sense of accomplishment and freedom about being a business owner. It is so satisfying to see your business dreams become realities. I also love working toward self-imposed goals, and I love the challenge of trying to figure out, “What next?”

What is the most stressful aspect of running your business?

I wouldn’t say it is the most stressful, but the flipside is that it’s also extremely challenging working on your own and wearing every hat from receptionist to shipping manager to marketing and PR executive. Any tears shed are worth it because I’m doing something I really and truly love and am passionate about.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me starts at 8 A.M. and slows down around midnight. Sometimes my ambitious juices overflow, and I find myself working in the wee hours of the night. I enjoy what I do, so my days are never ending. My brain is constantly thinking of something new for my hands to create. The bulk of my day is spent crafting, photographing new items and updating my shop. QuellyRue Designs is a one woman show!

I have a rule that I’ll never allow anyone to help me produce my items and that everything will always be produced “in-house.” I never want to mass produce anything or let my ideas leave my hands. In addition, I am my own model, photographer (thank God for timers on cameras), makeup artist, writer- you name it.

What advice or tips would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

Well, it helps a lot if you are extremely wealthy and have endless amounts of time and patience. But of course, most of us don’t. I would say my best advice would be to first understand what you have a true passion and natural talent for. Believe in your idea, plan for everything, but be flexible enough to roll with the punches. Trust your strength and use it. Always persevere, don’t be afraid to take risks and never become complacent. Pursue your passions; otherwise, what’s the point?

Finish this sentence: This career is for you if___ You are hardworking and determined to fulfill your dreams.


Successful Sistas: Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

22 02 2010

Successful Sistas is an interview series featuring successful women pursuing their dream careers.

Job Title

Full-time freelance writer and blogger (see her websites below)

Job Description:

My main focus is running my six blogs (the “Quips and Tips” series)- and earning an income from them- but I happily accept magazine article assignments when they’re offered!

Why did you decide to pursue this field?

Writing is a dream come true– I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about eight-years-old. I never thought I could make a living as a writer, though, so I’m living proof that dreams DO come true! If you work hard enough, of course : -)

What do you love most about your career?

I love publishing my blog posts and getting immediate reader feedback on what I’ve written. And I love inspiring and motivating people to achieve their goals, become successful writers, get healthy and happy, and live the life of their dreams.

What is the most stressful aspect of it?

Writing for magazines can be stressful because editors are often detail-oriented and reader-focused. When you’re getting paid to write articles for magazines or other publications, there’s no room for error or sloppiness!

What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Getting paid to do what I love. I get up at 5 A.M. each morning WITHOUT an alarm clock because I’m so excited to see my blog statistics and affiliate earnings.

What is the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you work-wise?

Hmmm…can’t think of anything crazy (except for the rare, mean comment that a reader leaves)…but I’ve been invited to go on the radio and talk about my work several times. That’s probably as crazy as it gets!

Describe a typical work day for you:

I work from 5 A.M.- 11 A.M., then do Pilates, core fusion or kickboxing. After eating lunch in front of Judge Marilyn Milian (I love the People’s Court!), I go back to work from 1 P.M. to 4 P.M. Then I either run or do ballet, but I’m not always motivated to work out twice in one day!

What advice or tips would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?

Start writing or blogging part-time (or even just on weekends or evenings) to make sure you can pay your bills. And you need to discover if you can work from home because not everyone likes it.

Finish this sentence: This career is for you if____:

You have the motivation and self-discipline to work from home despite the distractions of surfing the Internet, watching TV, snacking mindlessly or playing with your pets.

Check out Laurie’s websites:

Quips and Tips for Love Relationships

Quips and Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility

Quips and Tips for Successful Writers

Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals

Quips and Tips for Spiritual Seekers

See Jane Soar

Successful Sistas: Angel Jackson

29 01 2010

Successful Sistas is an interview series featuring successful women pursuing their dream careers.

Job Title: Pageant Queen (Miss Florida Essence 2009, Miss Black Jacksonville are some titles she’s held)- you can call her “Pageant Girl.” (She’s also a law student, piano teacher, tax preparer, organist for a church and on the board of directors for Norman Studios Silent Film Museum.)

Job Description: Competing in pageants commonly in the areas of swimsuit, evening wear, talent, interview and on-stage interviews.

Why did you decide to pursue this field? My mom started me in pageants when I was a kid, so it started to become a hobby that I enjoyed. I love challenges! Pageants make me challenge myself. They also serve as an outlet from school.

What do you love most about it? I love being the center of attention! I absolutely love having all eyes on me. In addition, pageantry takes guts and dedication. To say that I have both and have reached for a goal I set is very rewarding to me.

What is the most stressful aspect of your job? Preparing! It takes mental, physical and financial dedication to prepare for a pageant. You really have to give it 100 percent. Staying in shape, losing weight, preparing mentally for the challenging interview questions and also planning the right makeup, hair and wardrobe combination can all be very stressful but fun at the same time.

What is the most rewarding aspect of doing pageants? To see [that] all my hard work finally pays off. To get up on stage and strut my stuff after months after challenging myself feels great! I may not take home the crown, but I’ve worked hard to accomplish a goal that I set for myself. It’s like setting a goal to graduate, but you really want to graduate on the Dean’s list: even if you don’t wear the honor cords on graduation day, you can at least say that you worked hard to accomplish your main goal- graduating. Not everyone can say that.

What is the craziest thing that’s happened? Pageants are filled with crazy events constantly. Between dealing with your competitors backstage to tripping on stage, pageants can be really funny. I have to say the craziest thing for me was when I was answering an onstage question. I absolutely went blank! I couldn’t even think. I believe I paused for like 15 seconds and was mumbling “um” over and over. That was totally the worst day on stage for me. But I’ve learned my lesson!

Describe a typical day at work for you: A typical day while I’m preparing for a pageant usually starts with me hitting the gym in the morning for a good workout. Later, I practice my talent (classical piano or sing and play a piece) for an hour or more. Other daily tasks are practicing my runway walk in heels and studying interview questions.

What advice or tips would you give someone who wants to do what you do? Give it your all! Be prepared for the unexpected. Anyone can do anything they put their minds to. With pageants, you definitely have to be prepared mentally and physically for anything. My favorite quote is: “The race is not for the swift or the battle for the strong, but it is for those who endure to the end.” If you want to do it, stay dedicated and work hard until the pageant is over, and you can finally say, “I did it.”

Finish this sentence: This career is for you if ____ you have a lot of self-confidence and are willing to dedicate yourself to giving it your all.

Successful Sistas: Ursula Burns

15 01 2010

Ursula Burns is the first black woman to be CEO of a Fortune 500 Company (Xerox). She took on the role in July 2009.

She joined the company in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern and later worked in product development and planning. Burns led many business teams from 1992 through 2000; she was also named senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Services, in 2000.

In April 2007, Burns was named president of Xerox and was elected as a member of the company’s Board of Directors.

Burn also serves on professional and community boards, including American Express Corp., FIRST- (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the U.S. Olympic Committee. She was also named by President Obama to help lead the White House national program, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), in November 2009.

Source:; photo from:

Successful Sistas: Angela Patterson Benton

11 12 2009

Successful Sistas is an interview series featuring successful women pursuing their dream careers.

Job Title: I am an EIP (Early Intervention Program) teacher in Cobb County, GA

Job Description: My basic job description is to work with second and third grade students who are behind in reading and math and to get them back on grade level. When I work with these students, I work in either a small group setting, or I push into their homerooms and assist them with the curriculum as it is being taught by the homeroom teacher.

Why did you decide to pursue this field? Well, to be honest with you, teaching chose me, I didn’t choose it (lol). But really, I have watched my mother be an outstanding educator ever since I can remember. I guess I would say by watching her, I allowed teaching to choose me.

What do you love most about your job? The thing I love most about my job is seeing students learn! I know that may sound corny, but it’s true. I love seeing a student come to me in August who could not read and was up for retention and by the end of the year, they are reading, and they pass the CRCT- gotta love it.

What is the most stressful aspect of your job? The most stressful part of the job is knowing that these little ones are depending on me to teach them and prepare them for the world. I feel like in a lot of instances, I am their last hope before retention and special services are put into place.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The most rewarding part, again, is watching them learn, and when children come back to me at the end of the school year or even years later, and they tell me I made the difference. I was the one who helped them believe in themselves…oh my, I love it!

What is the craziest thing that’s happened at work? At my old school a student brought drugs into my classroom…nuts!

Describe a typical day at work for you: A typical day for me: coming into my spot and mentally getting ready to change the world, one kid at a time. In addition to that, moving throughout the building and constantly interfacing with students, letting them know how much I care about them and believe in them.

What advice or tips would you give someone who wants to do what you do? If you want to come into education, know that oftentimes it’s a thankless job but the most rewarding thing you can ever do.

Finish this sentence: This career is for if ___ you love children and have a passion for seeing children grow and develop.

Successful Sistas: Cassandra Stewart

3 12 2009

Successful Sistas is an interview series featuring successful women pursuing their dream careers.


Job Title: CEO of Rosalyn Scent (

Job Description: I’m the creator of all my products, I make sure my inventory is stocked; I do everything for Rosalyn Scent until the day comes when I hire employees.

Why did you decide to pursue this field? I was tired of having to answer to someone else and going through stressful times at work. I felt like I was wasting my time and energy on a job I wasn’t happy about.

What do you love most about your job? I absolutely love creating fragrances and making my own products. I love it when my customers send me wonderful emails about my products.

What is the most stressful aspect of your job? My job can be very stressful when my suppliers don’t have what I need at the time, and I have to go out and search for it until that item becomes available. I [also] hate when I schedule a pick up time for my carrier, and he/she doesn’t come on time.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The most rewarding aspect of my job is I choose my own hours and days to work. I make sure that I have time to spend with the kids.

What is the craziest thing that’s happened at work? The craziest thing that ever happened is when my 4-year-old tried to put cereal in my butters. I’m glad I caught him just in time, [but] he said he was helping me.

Describe a typical day at work for you: I check my emails, schedule package pick-ups, make phone calls, and I go out and purchase gifts to add with my customers’ orders.

What advice or tips would you give someone who wants to do what you do? I would say keep an open mind, figure out how you want to set up your business, do research on the ingredients you want to put in your products, make samples of your products and pass them out to friends and co-workers.

Finish this sentence: This career is for you if ____: You have patience, funds to start your own business (start small and move up gradually) and you want to spend more time with your family.

Successful Sistas: Malaak Compton-Rock

13 11 2009


Malaak Compton-Rock’s career began in public relations and special events. She contributed to several movie and record release campaigns and projects for clients like HBO, Eddie Murphy and The Essence Awards.

She ultimately found her true calling and took a position at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund). In her three years working with them, she fronted and oversaw Special Events and Celebrity Relations Department, a postion made for her when the agency realized the need to utilize celebs.

Upon observing the changes in welfare law, she combined that and her love of individual style to establish styleWORKS, an organization that gives complete grooming services (hair styling, skincare services, image consulting, etc.) to women going from welfare to work. Today, styleWORKS provides grooming seminars on a consultant basis and offers monthly mentoring and job rentention-based services.

Eventually, Compton-Rock wanted to encourage others to live a life of service, and in 2008, she founded the Angelrock Project, an umbrella project for the six primary causes she works on full-time. It’s an online e-village that encourages volunteerism, social responsibility and sustainable change. The Angelrock Project also has useful information on ways to volunteer, advice on making financial or in-kind donations, links to life-altering nonprofits, suggests fair trade companies whose products support third-world artisans and includes a discussion forum and blog; Angelrock Project features great philanthropic individuals, grassroots volunteers and organizations monthly.

Other accomplishments:

  • Founded and coordinates Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service
  • Created and manages Champions for Children Committe
  • Partnership with the South African NGO The Olive Leaf Foundation
  • Partnership with The Food Garden
  • Work with The Bushwick Salvation Army Community Center
  • Wrote forthcoming book, If It Takes A Village, Build One: How I Found Meaning Through a Life of Service and 100+ Ways You Can, Too
  • Sits on two board of directors, is a global ambassador for The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Global Promise Fund, a member of the New York Women in Communicationis, The Cause Marketing Forum and The Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Compton-Rock lives her life by her favorite quote: “Service is the rent we pay for living.”

For more information about The Angelrock Project, go to

Photo from: