Stephanie Donegan has always loved to cook. It began with her grandmother who was an avid gardener and used fresh foods from her garden to whip up the family’s favorite dishes.
“She also was famous for her fried pies that I still make to this day,” Donegan said.
That love for cooking never left Donegan and in college, when short on cash, she started preparing and selling home-cooked meals to help make ends meet. A career was born.
Donegan’s culinary skills have landed her a TV show, In the Kitchen with Queen, which airs on Monday evenings (6:30 p.m.) on ACN in Alabama and GCN in Georgia. She also shares her kitchen know-how on her website InTheKitchenWithQueen.com and through cooking classes.
What makes Donegan stands out from other culinary artists is her focus on using all natural, preservative free and local ingredients.
What do you love most about Birmingham?
Most women who sport natural hair know that while they may not be spending money on relaxers any longer, natural hair care products can be just as pricey. Fed up with the high costs of these products, in October of 2010 Angela Carter decided she would begin creating her own.
“I began looking up the ingredients in the products I was using, and checking out YouTube,” Carter said. “I realized everything I needed to take care of my hair had already been provided f or me by nature and were as close as my kitchen and local grocery store.”
Soon Carter began receiving compliments on her hair and people wanted to know where they could find the products she was using. After several family members tried and loved the products and at her sister-in-law’s suggestion, Carter began to consider selling her products. “After praying about it, I got my answer,” Carter said. She started advertising via word-of- mouth and Facebook and giving out free samples. Her business, Angela’s K.I.S.S. All Natural Hair & Skin Products, was born.
Carter offers a hair moisturizing cream that comes in two scents, White Chocolate and Cake Icing Scent. She also sells three shampoos, Good For Your Hair Shampoo, Invigorating Shampoo, and a Patchouli Scented Shampoo for men.
Carter also offers skin care products such as All Day Moisturizing Skin Cream and Avocado Butter & Coconut Oil Skin Cream. She makes body scrubs, bath salts, a foot soap and even a mild skin toner/astringent designed for both men and women. Products may be purchased on her website www.angelaskissallnatural.com.
“All of my products are 100 percent all natural, food grade products,” Carter explained. “The law requires that products sold to consumers must have a preservative, so I use an all natural preservative made from vegetables in my products. I often tell my customers, ‘You can eat my products if you’d like. They may not taste good, but they won’t hurt you!’”
Carter uses essential oils such as jasmine, lavender and bergamot, and other oils like sweet almond oil, extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, and tea tree oils in some of her products. But the ingredient she considers her secret weapon is shea butter.
“I love shea butter,” Carter said. “The Africans consider the African Shea tree or Karite tree to be a gift from God. Karite means tree of life. The butter that is made from the nut of this tree has unparalleled moisturizing properties. The moisturizers in shea butter are the same as the moisturizers produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. It also has vitamin E in it which as we all know nourishes the skin. I like to use it because it nourishes the skin and scalp, and then goes further to seal in moisture to the hair shaft, thus protecting it from the elements. When you add additional moisturizers and other nourishing ingredients to it, it makes an exceptional hair moisturizing conditioner. Shea butter is absorbed by the skin and doesn’t clog the pores like petroleum based products.”
Carter does not believe the current natural hair craze is just a fad. She believes it’s the beginning of a dramatic shift in how black women define beauty.
“I believe they now see that black hair is just as beautiful kinky as it is straight,” Carter said. “ Because of this, our little girls are beginning to see how beautiful they are.”
Carter went on to say, “I don’t think it’s a fad, but I do believe that once every black women realizes that their natural beauty is the definition of the word beautiful — whether kinky fro, twist out, flat iron, hot comb, or braids — the movement will have served its purpose and being natural will be considered the norm. Only God knows when that will be, though. I’m just enjoying the journey!”
Javacia Harris Bowser is founding editor of GeorgiaMae.com and a natural hair enthusiast.
By: Javacia Harris Bowser
Tiffeny Curier loves Birmingham. That’s why she started her online publication BPositive Magazine and that’s why she felt she had to do something to help families affected by the devastating storms of April 27.
“I was inspired to coordinate this event because I had four family members to lose their homes as a result of the April 27 tornadoes,” Curier said. “Pratt City (one of the hardest hit areas) is the community I grew up in and so many of my neighbors and friends lost their homes as well. My home church was also in the path of destruction so I knew I had to do something.”
On Sunday, June 5 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., BPositive Magazine will host a private jewelry sale at Charming Charlie in the Summit and all money raised from ticket sales will go to families affected by the tornadoes. Everyone attending the jewelry sale will receive 20 percent off their entire purchase. There will be prizes awarded throughout the night and light refreshments will be served. Tickets to the private jewelry sale are $25 and can be purchased online at bpositivejewelrysale.eventbrite.com.
Javacia Harris Bowser is founding editor of GeorgiaMae.com.
Cerissa Brown admits to once being a homebody. She used to spend most of her time with her mother and her 10-year-old daughter and though she’s lived in Birmingham all her life, she could never tell you what was going on in the city.
“But after my 30th birthday I starting feeling like my life was in rut and I was always bored,” Brown said. She started searching websites and social media networks like Facebook for things to do and stumbled upon the Little Black Dress Club, a women’s social network with chapters in cities across the nation that boasts a “penchant for out-of-the-box ideas” according to the official website. Eager to be part of the group, Brown contacted the Little Black Dress Club for information on joining the Birmingham chapter only to learn that there was no LBDC in the Magic City. The organization wanted to know if Brown knew someone who’d be willing to start and serve as director of the Birmingham chapter.
“I’m extremely shy and didn’t think I could handle being a director so I started pressuring some of my outgoing friends to become the director, but no one wanted the responsibility,” Brown said. But she just couldn’t stop thinking about LBDC and how it would be a great organization for the women of Birmingham. “Finally I emailed LBDC’s CEO Christine Zellers and said I want to do this.”
The Birmingham chapter launched in February with a fabulous party at Cajun Steamer Bar & Grill in Trussville. Read on to learn more about this group.
JHB: What is the purpose or mission of the Little Black Dress Club?
Our mission is to create a worldwide community so that as women move or travel, there will always be a friend to share an occasion.
Why do you think it’s important for Birmingham to have an organization like this?
I always hear people complain that in Birmingham we do the same things and see the same people. And I have found that to be true. With Little Black Dress Club you meet people that you would have never met in normal day-to-day life and everyone is so different which leads to a lot of different event ideas. It’s great because you get to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. For instance, I would have never tried Persian food, went indoor rock climbing, or attended a wine tasting before I became involved in LBDC.
How do you think organizations like LBDC benefit their members?
LBDC benefits its members because it is an easy way for women to get connected to one another for advice, camaraderie, or for the purposes of going out or taking a trip. Our founders Christine Zellers and Jenny Holzer wanted to create a situation where women can easily find other women with whom to have fun. But my favorite part is the discounts. Once you pay your $30 membership fee you become a cardholding member and with that membership card you receive several discounts here in Birmingham and nationwide.
I understand that on a national level LBDC seeks to bring together women from a variety of backgrounds and women who are in different stages of life. Is that true of the Birmingham chapter as well? Is it a very diverse group of women?
Yes, we are a very diverse group. We have people with different income levels, nationalities, ages, interests, martial status, children/no children, religions, political parties, and I even let some Alabama football fans join. But seriously, when we get together none of that matters. It’s like hanging out with your longtime female friends from high school and college.
Any exciting upcoming events?
On June 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. we will be having a private shopping party at Arden B in the Riverchase Galleria. Each attendee receives a very fashionable 15 percent discount!
Attending social networking events can be intimidating for some women, especially if they’re going to an event alone. What do you and those helping you with the events do to help first time guests feel comfortable?
You know what, it is very intimidating and I admire the women who do it. We try to make everyone feel like they are among a group of friends. And my Co-Director/Mama Gladys is excellent at this and I have learned a lot from watching her. It’s just the little things like learning names and and engaging the ladies in conversation to find out more about them and what they like and don’t like and really listening and caring about what they are telling you. I’ve been that person sitting alone at events because I’ve been too shy to talk and I refuse to have any lady at any of my LBDC events feel out of place.
Click here to learn more about the Birmingham chapter of the Little Black Dress Club.
Javacia Harris Bowser is an digitalartshosting.com/urbanham contributor and founding editor of GeorgiaMae.com.