J. Marcelle Lashley-Kaboré is passionate about impacting change. In 2013, inspired by her first visit to Africa, she added Social Entrepreneur to her already successful career path as an Experiential Marketing Content Curator and Producer. Her purpose is to be an advocate and provide a platform to be a voice for the voiceless. She desires to help equip youth to re-write their own narrative and rise against their injustices. In her youth development work to date, she has used multimedia to create a voice and choice platform for youth which has garnered 5NY Emmy® nominations for social justice and documentary film pieces.

Dooplex: What was your inspiration to go to Africa?

Lashley-Kaboré: It was around 2008 that I started traveling, at which point I had made my footing in New York and was working full-time. I began traveling because I felt like I was at that place in my career to experience new places and cultures. I distinctly remember telling myself from that point on that in 5 years I would go to Africa at which point the year would be 2013, and 13 was always a lucky number for me. I wanted to start with the countries of my origins, sort of like a tour of my heritage. I had already visited Guyana and Trinidad, and then the opportunity in 2012 was presented to me to lead an NGO based in Tanzania. I felt like my vision was literally manifested. I had previously been to Europe and other parts of the world, but when I got to Africa, I realized it was less expensive than other destinations. I realized that Africa shouldn't have been a bucket list item for me, because it was more accessible than Europe and the Caribbean.

The Dooplex: How did that Africa trip change the course of your career?

Lashley-Kaboré: When I went to Tanzania, I instantly felt a sense of home. It wasn't just the fact that I reached a destination that was a pinnacle for me, but I was amazed at how it reminded me of Trinidad, it reminded me of Guyana. It was a proverbial home for me. It was no different from the countries I had spent the past few years exploring in search of my lineage. When I was there and began to meet the people and do the work and immerse myself in the culture and the environment, I would think to myself, "how can I live here?" I didn't want to go home. I remember we had begun the process of purchasing properties for the foundation and I knew that that's exactly where I wanted to be. I decided that Africa is a huge continent and that I really needed to explore it. Each time I've gone, it's always felt like home for me. It didn't just change my career, it changed my life. Every time I've gone, I've learned more and more about myself. It's helped me tap into my purpose and what it is that I'm supposed to be doing. While I focus on work there, I know that my work isn't exclusively in Africa but rather connected across the board. I believe that's where the path to purpose began for me.

What are the greatest challenges for young kids of color?

Lashley-Kaboré: One thing that I can identify with in regards to African-American children along with first generational African and Latino students is that they don't know the richness of their heritage. They don't know where they come from or see value in their heritage. I believe many of these students only get to see the circumstances of today and how "doomed" their generation is. I'm always amazed when my instructors and myself are able to stand in front of them and give them insight of their history and show them correlation between their ancestry and royalty versus what they know their generation to be today in the way they've been degraded and diminished. I think that's a huge problem.

What is your greatest hope for youth today?

Lashley-Kaboré: I'm already starting to see hope happening with Gen Y-ers who have learned from Millenials and Gen X-ers. They don't want to take any BS, and that combined with knowledge of self, will truly make them fearless. My greatest hope for youth today is that they will actually discover and honor their worth and walk in their fullest potential at a young age.

What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date for kids?

Lashley-Kaboré: I'm glad that I'm able to establish a platform with education access and opportunities that require action. I've created a platform that allows kids the ability to identify that they don't have to wait until they grow up to accomplish certain goals. They can make impact now. That's how the NY Emmy nominations came into play. These kids have been able to see by achieving a huge milestone that an adult would typically receive that they too can accomplish so much. It's about finding heroes in your own generation and knowing you can do things yourself.

What would you like to say to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about the school system and what kids need to be inspired?

Lashley-Kaboré: Primarily, my message to Betsy DeVos would be to "please get a clue!" She just seems so close-mind. I want to tell her to open her mind and step outside of her comfort zone, step outside of her country. She needs to go somewhere where she will see something, learn something, and do something different.

What's your relationship with your hair like?

Lahley-Kaboré: My hair is the epitome of me:. versatile, complicated, and does what she wants to do, but no matter what she is always fierce and fabulous. I love my kinky, curly hair. My hair has been natural practically my whole life. I can remember maybe twice in my life (2nd grade) that my mother allowed me to relax my curls. I also remember vividly how desperate I was to make my long, full and curly hair straight. There were two other classmates that had similar hair textures to mine and I remember there was always this stigma about what I was mixed with. In Atlanta, it was always either black or white. I wanted to relax my hair to look like the other girls in my class, but no matter how much my mother did it, it would not get straight. I decided to keep it curly and I'm proud that this has been the case my whole life,

Where does your confidence come from?

Lahley-Kaboré: I always say "My mother taught me how to be a lady, but my father reaffirmed by femininity." I come from a large family of women, and all of them were very strong. I was surrounded by a group of women in my family that reminded me of a tribe of Amazonian warriors. Additionally, when your father constantly tells you how amazing you are and how much he loves you and how wonderful you are, you start to see yourself as a prized possession. When I grew up, any man couldn't just tell me I was pretty and I'd open my legs. I would reply with "I know. We grew up knowing that, so come harder than that." It was my nature and my nurture, from my father's influence and my mother's example.

How do you feel about the beauty industry when it comes to women of color?

Lahley-Kaboré: We have come such a long way. I love to see that there are so many natural hair care lines and beauty brands that are for women of color, even more so that they are made and run by women of color too. It's not just a European brand or a white male in charge of a segment. It's not just a business decision, it's a personal decision, it's a connection. My sister, Iche Martinique, has a natural body butter line called Neteru Naturals that she started herself in her kitchen. She wanted to use essential oils and natural ingredients for her baby, so she made her own product because she wasn't finding what she wanted in the stores.. It's inspirational that women like my sister decided to make their own products when they couldn't find products that were fitting their lifestyle. There are so many brands, in hair, nails, and body created by women who want to serve themselves and everybody that looks like them.

www.itsjmarcelle.com -- instagram, Twitter, & Facebook: @ItsJMarcelle

www.iamaGWK.com -- Instagram & Facebook: @iAmaGWK

1. Tell me about reinventing yourself? Most surprising aspects and the most challenging aspects. I never really thought about "reinventing" myself. I just realized I was finally putting all the pieces together. Everything I learned in my fashion magazine days prepared me for life as an entrepreneur, but at the time I didn't know it. Sometimes when you're shifting, the most difficult part can be getting people to understand your vision. Friends and family can think you're crazy or have unattainable goals but that's usually their own insecurity showing, so I had to learn to quiet those voices.

2. Tips for style? Style is all about whatever makes you feel great. A five inch pair of heels may look beautiful but if they're uncomfortable, they don't make you feel great and you're simply wearing them because for whatever reason you feel you should be wearing them. Style should be something that's fun and constantly evolving, so I always suggest that people try something new. If you don't like it, then take it off and try something else.

3. Shopping on a budget? Everyone has a different definition and amount allotted for a shopping budget, so first I suggest determining what that budget is, either an overall budget or what you're willing to spend on a particular garment. Then it's about creating a list of priorities. If a good suit or blazer is at the top of your list and that's all you can afford for the season, find a great one and anchor the rest of your existing wardrobe around that new piece. You can create the look of a new wardrobe with the addition of a few statement making pieces vs. buying a totally new wardrobe.

4. Being a black woman business owner? I constantly face microaggressions, especially working in fashion. Most of the editors and producers I encounter are white and many clearly have a bias. I see it in the people they constantly choose to work with and the people (of color!) they constantly choose to ignore. It's frustrating and at times it's made me want to quit, but I know that when people see me winning, it makes it just a tad bit easier for another black woman to succeed. That's what keeps me motivated.

5. Advice for black women who want to wear their hair natural, but worry about looking "professional." No matter how "professional" and perfectly coiffed your natural hair is, it will still be seen as unkept by some. That's a fact. Instead of focusing on what other people think, just look your best. Have a few go-to hairstyles and keep it moving. I first went natural about a month before I started working at a fashion magazine. I was clueless about how to style my TWA after doing the big chop. But I focused on keeping my hair moisturized, cute headbands and accessories and went from there.

6. Thoughts on spending with black-owned businesses. I'll always support a small business, and especially a black-owned businesses, before patronizing another mega company. I love seeing people who look like me or who look like they could be in my family, running their own businesses and if I can spend my dollars there or bring attention to a great biz, I will

7. Hope for the future? For a while I took a break from doing television full time, but in the next year I hope to return with a fashion contributor role at a NYC or national station. Also, I would love to write another book, but this time with a major publisher versus self published.My overall hope for the future is to have more inclusion in the fashion and beauty space. Not just one or two token models on the runway or natural hair brands that only showcase loose curls versus tightly coiled kinks, but true inclusion.

8. Having the courage to go out on your own. Sometimes you don't have the courage, you just go for it.

9. Advice for women who want to become entrepreneurs. Do you really understand the entrepreneurial life or do you fully comprehend the insane amount of work and sacrifice it requires? If you really want it, have a plan. But know that things will never be perfect but you have to start somewhere. Also, take a break. There's no gold medal for running yourself into the ground.

10. What are your 5 go-to style pieces? Skinny jeans: find a brand that fits your body perfectly and buy them in a few colors, especially dark washesBlazer: great for any workplace and a good layering piece in the spring or fallNude pumps: instant way to make your legs look longeLeopard print: a belt or scarf is a great accent piece and the print is fun without being over the topStatement necklace: perfect way to turn any boring or neutral top or neckline into a fun moment.

Link to blog: https://www.instagram.com/patricejwill/

Women We Admire

No Hair is Bad Hair

Sulma Arzu-Brown is a proud Garifuna woman born in Honduras, Central America.

The Garinagu, dark-skinned and often Spanish-speaking, are descendants of indigenous groups of Central America and Africans. Too often, they end up being identified simply as Afro-Latino or black.

But it was when Arzu-Brown, who now lives in the Bronx, became a mother that she decided to embrace her true self. As a way of encouraging her daughters to love every aspect of themselves (especially their hair), she made the radical decision to cut her chemically straightened hair and go natural.

Her decision was confirmed when her older daughter told her, "mommy we finally look alike."

Arzu-Brown works for the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, but she is also the author of the children's book "Bad Hair Does Not Exist," a bilingual book that encourages young black, Afro-Latino, and multi-racial girls to see themselves, and their hair, as beautiful.

It all started when Arzu-Brown's babysitter commented that her 3-year-old daughter, Bella Victoria had "pelo malo," a Spanish term for "bad hair."

She says she knew at that point, she could be on the defensive or the offensive. She chose to be proactive and write a book to help her daughter and others feel positive about their natural hair and teach them that no hair is ugly or bad, but just theirs to embrace.

*If you want to purchase books or schedule Sulma Arzu-Brown for a speaking engagement, go to www.nopelomalo.com or follow her on Instagram is @nopelomalo_sulma.

Jodie Patterson first and foremost is a mother of five. But, it was her son, Penelope, 8, assigned female at birth, who became the catalyst for Patterson to develop into the dynamo she is today.

Patterson's book, "The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Identity," is a personal reflection on identity, her lineage, and the deep connections of civil rights to race and gender.

In Patterson's TEDx talk she covers the rocky terrain of parenting a transgender child and the realization and questions she has about discovering what gender really is.

Patterson has been recognized by quite a few big players for her LGBTQI activism -- Hillary Clinton, The Advocate, GLAAD, Family Circle magazine, and Cosmopolitan magazine among others. She's a regular participant at transgender and LGBTQI conferences, including the Trans Health, Gender East, and Transcending Boundaries conferences, and sits on the Advisory Board of the Ackerman Institute's Gender & Family Project, where she advises on strategic partnerships and overall goals for the organization.

The fascinating thing about Patterson, is the intersectionality of issues in her life, and she's filtered them into and through the lens of the many careers she's had. From publicist to beauty expert, CEO to author, black mother of five children, and even state-champion gymnast and circus acrobat; Patterson doesn't allow any one career define her, and she imbues all of the hats she wears with a color of compassion, and desire for deeper understanding of herself and others.