Women on the Rise: DMV Edition

The D.M.V. (For those who don’t know is an acronym that represents D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) is such a beautiful and diverse place. Originally, I did not appreciate this place, but we thank God I had a change of heart. In all of the United States, you’ll never find another area like it. From the music, to the fashion, the DMV is one-of-a kind. The people here are unmatched. The beautiful men and women who make up this place are from all walks of life, dwelling together to create this unique area. The DMV is full of ambitious millenials who are grinding to make their way to the top. Here, you will find awe-inspiring women who are pushing the culture forward by simply doing them and dominating while doing so. These Queens are educators, designers, doctors, content creators…the list really goes on.

At A2A, I’m very big on uplifting, empowering, and supporting women. This is why in this post, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to shed some light on women who have been doing amazing things in their fields lately. They are dominating and trailblazing their way through life, and it is honestly inspiring. These Queens are DMV’s Women on the Rise!

1. Sydney Flanagan (@junothestylist_)

photo by @jshots__

Better known as JunoTheStylist, Syd was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She received her BS in Family & Consumer Science with a concentration in Fashion Merchandising at the illustrious Morgan State University. She often states that studying fashion was the best thing that could’ve happened to her. She’s known she always had a passion for fashion at a very young age and she knew her purpose was to make other people feel good in the clothes that they wear.

Not only is this beauty educated, but sis has credentials! Here are some of her noteworthy accomplishments: Style Assistant Intern for Madonna
Wardrobe Assistant for movie “All In” feat. Lil Mama
Stylist Assistant for “The Author Incubator”
Creative Director for B.A.P.S Remake (which you all should check out!)
Interned with Hanifa Official 

In addition to her noteworthy accomplishments, my girl started her own company, Savvy The Label! STL is a brand that offers personal styling, image consultations, closet revamping and creative direction. 

Syd is a Woman on the Rise because she’s amazing at her craft. Ever since I have known her, I could see that her passion for fashion goes beyond clothes, she committed to the full transformation of the people she styles. She’s a go-getter, with impeccable style, and that transcends into everything she touches. Oh, and my sis can dance! I’m pretty confident that you’ll be seeing her name everywhere pretty soon!

2. Allison Powell (@kay.spade)

photo by @nandihenderson

Allison K. Powell is a Health Management Consultant with six years of experience working in health care. Her background is in public health with an emphasis on policy and management (she has a masters, okay). She is an Alabama native with a passion for healing urban communities and addressing social determinants of health barriers. In her personal time, she enjoys promoting a healthy lifestyle highlighting the importance of mental and physical health. You can follow her health journey on instagram where she motivates her followers to live healthier.

Allison is a Woman on the Rise because she is truly inspiring. To know Allison is to love her. From her physical transformation, to her evolution as a woman, Allison has touched so many young women. Allison’s story alone will show you that nothing can stop her. No matter what trial or tribulation life throws her way, she is 100% committed to the advancement of people everywhere. She is the definition of a girl boss. She does a great job at balancing her career, living a healthy lifestyle, and living the life she loves. Plus, Allison help me get snatched with her monthly workout challenges, so if you want to get that summer body now, follow my good sis!

3. Saudat Almaroof (@bonaroof)

Saudat is a graduate of Morgan State University. During her matriculation at Morgan she received her Bachelors of Science in Marketing and was involved with various student organizations. Shortly after graduating she founded Jaiyeroof, Inc., a 501(c) 3 non profit organization whose aim is to serve underprivileged communities in Nigeria. Since its inception, Jaiyeroof has fed over 1300 people in various communities in Lagos, Nigeria, and has held a 3 day Vocational Training program. Saudat will be chartering chapters of Jaiyeroof on the campuses of University of Maryland, College Park and Morgan State University this spring. In conjunction with serving as the Executive Director of Jaiyeroof, Saudat works as an IT Auditor at a CPA firm in Alexandria, Virginia.

Saudat is a  Woman on the Rise because since I’ve known her she’s been about her business. She has dominated anything she set out to accomplish. She is also one of the most selfless people I’ve come across and her selflessness has helped so many people in Nigeria. Her organization has brought a few students to Nigeria to aid in the efforts of taking care of those in need. At such a young age, her philanthropic efforts are commendable, and each year her organization gets better. The crazy thing is, she’s just getting started. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.

4. Racheal Cheek (@rachhhwavy)

photo by @steve.christo

Rachael Cheek was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. She received her BS in Biology from Morgan State University and her MS in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. She is currently a first-year medical student at Meharry Medical College.

Her journey to medicine was not an easy one. She knew that she wanted to be a physician since she was a child. Her initial desire to pursue a career in medicine stemmed from witnessing her mother struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. She wanted to learn about what made her ill and how she could fix it; she knew that becoming a neurologist would allow her to help individuals like her mother. Beyond clinical medicine, she has a strong interest in public and health policy. Personal experiences with health insurance and witnessing health-disparities first has inspired her interest in that realm.

Racheal is a Woman on the Rise because she has shown me to not give up on a dream. She didn’t take the traditional route to medical school, but she made it happen. Her story has shown me that there isn’t one way to get to your dream, all it takes is a leap of faith. Since undergrad, she has been intentional about her goals, and it is truly amazing to see hers manifest. As an aspiring doctor, she has pushed me to do the same.

5. Alljahni Mack (@jvhnimvck)

Alljahni, 23, was born and raised in New York City. She attended Morgan State University in 2013 where she became known for her amazing style and cool hipster attitude. Since she was young she was always labeled as someone who dressed different. Her grandmother and mother introduced her to thrifting at a very young age. Although she was not interested in it at first, around the later years of middle school and into high school, she began thrifting. Thrifting did not become popular till her 10th/11th grade year. She didn’t care, she expressed herself through her clothing despite the opinion of others. Once thrifting did become popular, people began to gravitate towards her style. She always knew she had style but she wanted it to be more than that. She wanted a real talent. With the constant encouragement of friends, she sought out to find her gift and she did! In 2017, she began styling. The same year she coordinated and curated her very first fashion show. With the help of her amazing team, they pulled off a great show. From here, she started her own online thrift store boutique, and now she designs pieces from scratch! She currently makes handmade vests and designs amazing custom pieces. Her dream is to own her very own consignment/thrift store in New York.

Alljahni is a Woman on the Rise because she is changing the narrative. She is about expressing your TRUE self. She teaches others to get out of the box that society puts us all in. She shows me its cool to be different no matter what anyone else thinks. She shows us that confidence is all you need, and that fashion is a language and its about whatever you try to express. This young lady was also seen slayinggggg NYFW. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few years, we will see her there curating her own show.

6. Olamide Iyanda (@olamide.iyanda)

Olamide Iyanda was born and raised in the Metropolitan Area. She attended Morgan State University where she studied Health Education, but her real true passion was Marketing and Communication. After she graduated, she encountered some obstacle along the way that made it hard for her to enter the public health sector. Olamide decided to give up her parents’ dream and to pursue her passion for Marketing.  

 This  led her to create Naija Girl Talks Podcast. NGT was inspired from all the years of intimate conversation Olamide would have with close girlfriends whenever they got together. NGT is a show that showcases the unheard stories of First-Generation Nigerian Women who are dealing with the growing pains of living in America. So far, the podcast has had over 10,000 listens in its first season. Season 2 is scheduled to start October 1st, 2019. 

Olamide is a Woman on the Rise because she shows me how important it is to follow your dreams. As an African kid, your parents pressure you to fit into this mold of who they want you to be, but Olamide graciously broke that mold, and is showing others they can do the same. Her passion and love for marketing is seen through her work. She creates authentic, refreshing, and relatable content that is sure to put a smile on your face. This fashionable woman of God effortlessly pushes beyond the labels and does life her way. I can’t wait for the greatness she has in-store.

7. Jennifer Gomez (@g.jennn)

photo by @getboxed_

Jennifer is a woman, mentor, social worker, and runway coach dedicated to massively transforming people and society positively. For over 5 years she has studied human behavior and understanding the power of self. Out all of her experience as an individual and model, she offers a unique and passionate opportunity for individuals, one step at a time. By helping people overcome their mindset of fear and mindfully practicing authenticity on and off the runway. She believes that to live your true purpose it takes for one to be their authentic self at all times. Authenticity Doesn’t Die. It is through her knowledge, skill sets, personal experiences, and keen detailed eye that she aims to transform and an unseen gem to a walking bona fide gem that the world was meant to see. 

She does this through her company JAG.Co. JAG.Co is a full model development inspiring aspiring models and children living in inner-city neighborhoods in the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Their global vision is to promote social well-being by helping individuals develop their image, self-esteem, and exhibit self-expression through fashion and art as a nonprofit. They provide model consultation and coaching for all ages, ethnicity, shapes, sizes, heights, and level of experiences.

I remember the first time I saw Jennifer on the runway. She absolutely commanded the stage. Her stride and confidence absolutely caught the eyes of everyone in the room. She is a Woman on the Rise because she gives this gift to others. It is not just about modeling. It’s about putting your fear to the side, owning who you are, and accepting you. She teaches us to be completely authentic and to look tf bomb while doing it.

8. Tolu Okanlawon (@tolumontana)

Tolu Okanlawon, popularly known as Tolu Montana, is a super friendly outgoing PG native. This 26 year old graduated from the illustrious Bowie State University with a Bachelors of Science in Child and Adolescent Studies. Her passion is children (anything and everything that has to do with children). One day she hopes to own several child care centers catered to empowering and shaping the minds of children all over. She currently works as an educator, but she is also an entrepreneur! She is the CEO of CrystalClearLashes, where she sells and installs quality lashes. In addition to to her lash business, she is currently working on a mentoring group for young women. She also has a very entertaining YouTube channel.

Tolu is a Woman on the Rise because of a number of reasons. She really is ardent about working with the youth. This is seen both inside and outside her classroom. She is serious about shaping the young minds of tomorrow, and she does by providing love and support to all of her students. Her upcoming mentoring program will be geared toward the development of young women, and it’s going to touch the lives of young women everywhere. Oh and her lashes are really popping, so I suggest you all go get you some!

9. Aysha Williams (@queenaysh)

photo by @thephotochase

Hailing from the Charm City of Baltimore, Aysha Williams is a proud Alumna of the Prestigious, Morgan State University. Williams is a professional freelance model, human services professional, and Founder of POWERHOUSE PLUS. While in undergrad, she had a strong desire to be a fashion model, however there weren’t any other women in the campus orgs that she could relate to physically. As a result, she had an idea to create a distinct and exclusive modeling agency for women sizes 12 and up. Thus her business was POWERHOUSE PLUS was born. POWERHOUSE PLUS is a mentorship based full figured model organization, whose mission is to create an empowering space for young women and adolescents to build confidence, establish a sisterhood, and break barriers associated with low self-esteem through the art of modeling. Since the start of her business, Williams has worked with over 80 young adults who attend or has obtained a collegiate degree from various universities in the D.M.V region.

Aysha is a Woman on the Rise because she promotes self-love and confidence no matter what size you come in. Her entire brand is catered to plus-size women accepting themselves, loving their bodies, and slaying no matter the time or place. She’s done so much, but she’s on her way to doing so much more! On November 16, 2019, Williams will be producing her 2nd POWERHOUSE PLUS Fashion Showcase.  

10. Dupe Ajayi (@dupesonthebeat)

Modupe Victoria Ajayi, also known as “Dupesonthebeat” is a professional makeup artist based in Bowie, Maryland. She prides herself in offering her clients flawless makeup applications for bridal work, photoshoots and everyday occasions by simply enhancing the beauty that lies within them.

Victoria graduated in the spring of 2019, from Bowie State University, earning her bachelors degree in Business Administration. She will soon be furthering her education by pursuing her Masters degree in Business, as well. 

Dupesonthebeat was born by chance, Victoria’s love & interest for all things beauty began during her junior year of high school. The goal was to learn how to do her eyebrows and one thing led to another. Shortly after & with encouragement from friends and family she started offering makeup services and things began to blossom. This is still the beginning of her journey, and she plans to continue to leave an impact on society and women empowerment by establishing herself in other business ventures.

Dupe is a Woman on the Rise because she is a girl boss! Her boss babe mentality has helped mold her business as a makeup artist. She is uses her gift as an artist to enhance the beauty we already have. Her beats are flawless, and she will have you looking right for any occasion. Her astonishing transformations leave all her clients in awe when they get out of her chair. She is one of my fav DMV MUAs. Besides the fact that she is a bomb artist, she’s a sweet soul. Her friendly persona and out- going personality naturally draws you. She is a force to be reckoned with!

11. Ayana Bell (@ayanajanae)

Ayana Bell, a D.C. native, is a Morgan State University Alumnae with a B.S. in information systems. Her passion for IT started in middle school. She knew what career path she wanted to take early, so she geared every phase of her life toward that goal. She became well-rounded and experienced in her field. Since high school she developed a plan to get her to dream career. She attended networking events, spent time with computer teachers to pick their brains, and even became a student ambassador for IT conferences and seminars. While at Morgan, she participated in a plethora of community service organizations that were specific to her field in tech. She served as President of the Association of IT professionals for 2 years, worked as an Orange Technician for 3 years, and served as as a student ambassador that opened the door for her to work for the Office of Information Technology. Her networking and interpersonal skills, internships, and tech experience placed in her in the position she’s has always wanted. Today, she currently works for Accenture Federal Services as a CyberSecurity Analyst working within compliance.

Ayana is a Woman on the Rise because she IS that black girl in tech. She has this genuine zeal for what she does, and it inspires other young black women to follow their tech dreams. I stan Ayana because she has always had a plan. Tech has always been the end goal, and to see her break barriers and accomplish that is truly inspiring. She has stepped out of her comfort zone, fearlessly pursued the career she wanted, and she got it! She is black girl magic.

Each of these women have had an impact on me in one way or another. They’ve taught me to be confident, authentic, selfless, healthy, sexy, smart, gentle, and so much more. Some of them I know personally, others from a distance, but each have inspired me. I wanted to shed light on these ladies, because not so often do they get the credit they deserve. I’m thankful to know these women in the capacity that I do, and I hope within this post they have inspired you as they have done with me. I urge you all to get familiar with these ladies because in a few years they will be household names!

NOW, because there are soooooo many popping women, I couldn’t get them all in one post, so please be on the look out for part 2! Oh and I have something for the gentlemen as well so stay tuned!

AyabaConnect

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