From the category archives:

Business Owner Interviews

It was an honor to interview the founders of GoDiva Dance Studio. I love seeing black owned businesses, but especially a black owned business that focuses on health and wellness. Not only that, but they are all three relaxer free.

If you’re looking for alternative to your daily workout, with a little something extra that might benefit your SO, exotic fitness might be for you!

Now, Kcurly would need a lot of encouragement to do these classes but I am sure it would be fun! Check them out if you’re in the Bloomfield, NJ area!

GoDiva Studio was founded and opened on April 20, 2010 by Ty Smith, Nikki Philip and Sonya Miller, with a mission to empower women to their own sensuality using exotic dance as a form of fitness and has quickly become New Jersey’s premier exotic dance studio. GoDiva Studio is located in Bloomfield, NJ and caters to clientele located in Essex County and beyond. With 5,000 square ft, this space is outfitted with three studios dimly lit with candles and chandeliers, creating a relaxing environment as one embarks on the new adventure of exotic dancing.

 

How did ya’ll get started participating in these types of classes?

Ty: I got started taking exotic dance classes for fitness in 2007 when I moved to Atlanta. I had never been into traditional gym workouts but I recognized I needed to do something to stay in shape.

Nikki: Ty started taking the classes in Atlanta and she would tell Sonya and myself about them.

Sonya: I work out 6 times a week and Ty would share with me her experience taking exotic dance. I looked for classes near me but the closest were in NYC.

 

What are both some mental and physical advantages to the types of classes you offer versus more traditional workouts (such as walking)?

Ty: The advantages of taking these types of classes are that they are more than just a work out. These classes help build confidence, increase flexibility & strength, improve poise, they are fun and most importantly the routines learned can be used to spice up your love life outside of the fitness studio.

Nikki: Mentally the classes help the ladies come out of their shell and combat their shyness by building confidence.  Physically, our customers are getting fit but they are also building strength.   There are people out there who appear muscular and toned but they are not strong.  You can see how strong our customers are getting, especially in the pole classes because they can do things today that they couldn’t do 3, 6 months ago.

Sonya: GoDiva Studio is a place where woman can develop or rekindle their sensuality and self esteem. Many women come to us as a release from everyday stresses. Physically, they reap the reward of 2 or more hours of cardio. Our classes are fun, which attracts our ladies to take all the classes offered in a day. In some cases, they end up taking 3 hours of exotic dance in 5 ¾ stilettos.

 

Could you share with us your most popular classes?

Ty: Our most popular classes are GoBooty Pop, GoPole Tease & GoStrip Tease

Nikki: I agree with Ty.

Sonya: Yeah, GoBooty Pop, GoPole Tease and GoStrip Tease.

 

What advice do you have for the ladies out there who would like to do these classes but  might feel too shy or self conscious to get out there and try it?

Ty: My advice to them would be that over 90% of the women that visit our establishment for the first time felt the same exact way and those women are now the most comfortable and outgoing in the studio. Remember that we are all here to have fun and get fit. This is one of the few places you can go where you will not be judged so get out of your own way and come join the party.

Nikki: If you are close enough to come, go GoDiva Studio :). If not, try to find a studio that keeps the class size small or do a private session alone or with a few friends.

Sonya: Don’t be afraid, our studio’s ambiance is sexy and inviting. Add exotic dance to your bucket list and stop on by!

 

Tell us more about the “GoParty” service. That sounds very interesting. What types of parties are usually involved?

Ty: The types of parties we usually have are bachelorette, birthday, just because, get over him and many other types of parties.

Nikki: (Ty answered)

Sonya: Same as Ty and we offer party add-ons, such as studio rental. Studio rental in 30 mins or 60 mins sessions allows the ladies to enjoy refreshments or just hang out for girl talk after the instruction. It’s a great addition to any party.

 

We are all aware of the disproportionate rate of obesity in the African American community. As women of color, what do you feel can be done to increase the percentage of African American who make physical activity a part of their lives?

Ty: One of the main reasons for the disproportionate rate of obesity is that many of us do not enjoy working out. We sometimes consider traditional workouts boring and monotonous. We have to continue giving women more attractive fitness options. One of the main reasons why GoDiva Studio was formed was to give women an affordable alternative approach to fitness that they can enjoy.

Nikki: I think the key is finding an activity that you enjoy and adding variety so you don’t get bored. I tend to get bored very quickly so I am always switching things up and that helps tremendously.  I also think we have to encourage one another to become more active. You are more likely to get out and do some sort of physical activity if you are doing it with a friend.

Sonya: From my own experience, it was simply knowledge. In my late 20s I started working out regularly. Before that I didn’t know which types of work outs would produce the best results in my body. Through the years I found the right regiments for me and that kept me entertained. Then just this year I wanted to shed 15 extra pounds and I didn’t know how. My diet was the problem. Through a special eating program I learned how to track my caloric intake and how to eat properly. Now, I am in the best shape I’ve been in my life. I feel if more women were equipped with options of combining the correct cardio and diet they would use it. It’s about getting you out the way and trying a new way of life. GoDiva Studio offers knowledge through our classes we are teaching women that cardio can be fun and sexy!

 

Do ya’ll find having natural hair as an advantage to leading an active lifestyle?

Ty: Though I am natural I wear my hair blown out and it has been a bit of a disadvantage to leading an active lifestyle. However, it has led me to be a bit more creative with the way I wear my hair when I am working out. Now when I workout I wear my hair up in a ponytail and I wear a sweatband so that I don’t completely sweat my roots out.

Nikki: Yes for me having natural hair is definitely an advantage when you’re active, especially when you are wearing wash & go’s.  Now that I wear my hair natural I tend to work out a lot more in the morning because I can just wash my hair afterwards. Working out in the morning helps me quite a bit.  I get up and get it over with as opposed to waiting all day and then finding excuses not to.

Sonya: Yes, I am natural but I choose to wear a full sewed in weave. My weave definitely makes it easier for me to stay active.

 

What is your favorite natural hair style?

Ty: My favorite natural hairstyle is the braid out.  It is my favorite because it is sexy and very flexible.

Nikki: I love twistouts and wash and go’s during the warmer months.  When my hair grows out a little more I will try some other styles.

Sonya: I currently wear my natural hair braided in a sewed in weave. This fall I plan to wear my hair out. Nikki has inspired me to rock the wash and go. I can’t wait to give it a try.

 

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I was honored to interview Dawn Fitch, owner of  Pooka Pure and Simple, a natural handmade product line. Dawn, who runs the company with her three best friends,  has been featured on The Today Show, CBS evening News,Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, and Michael Baisden Radio (and now the BIG TIME: Newlynatural.com ;) ).  She is also the author of a book called “Moving Through Opened Doors” about her journey of starting a business. To find out more, visit their websitetwitter, YouTube, or Facebook.

Kcurly: What sort of products can we find at Pooka?

Pooka is a line of natural bath and body products!  We have great products for the body and hair. We like to mix good for you ingredients with great delicious scents. We refer to our products as “something good for your skin to eat!”

Kcurly: What separates Pooka products from other skin and body product lines out there?

We feel that Pooka is not just a product but a lifestyle! We believe that we all need to be a little healthier and we try to spread that message through our videos, newsletter, blog and Fanpage. When you buy our products and follow our brand we hope that you’re investing in a healthier way of living.

Kcurly: Do you have any product geared towards those who have allergies or skin reactions?

Allergies are hard because people are sensitive to different things.  Just because things are natural don’t mean that people won’t be allergic to them.  We try to use ingredients that we know are overall safe and good for you.

Kcurly: What is your best selling product?

I’d have to say our Hair Butter!  A great simple butter, thats petroleum free and infused with wonderful essential oils to stimulate growth and soothe the scalp. The added bonus is that you can also use it on your body.

Kcurly: What prompted you to start your own business?

I had gotten sick and with so many doctors telling me that I was fine, I decided to adopt a more holistic lifestyle to make myself feel better.  I became a big label reader for anything that I ate and I started to do the same with my body products.  I was amazed at the chemicals that were in the body products, so I decided to start making my own.  Eventually I started sharing them with people and they liked them.  So after some prompting from my friends, I took the products to a festival and we sold out. Thats when we knew we had a business.

Kcurly: I was interested to see that you have a book about becoming an entrepreneur. A lot more African American women are venturing out to become business owners. What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking of getting started but doesn’t know where to start?

Start with something that you’re passionate about or that you enjoy doing because you are going to spend A LOT of time doing it, LOL!  Don’t get overwhelmed by the process, take it step by step.  Check out your local college or university they usually have a business development center and they can help you to get started. I live by the 3 P’s. If you have the passion and you’re willing to persevere, your purpose will be revealed! You can make it!

Kcurly:  Is there anything else you’d like Newly Natural reads to know about your product line?

We’re thankful for all of the support we get from everyone. That’s why we’re still here!  You can try Pooka by ordering from our website  www.pookapureandsimple.com or Whole Foods Markets.  We also have a great fanpage, so please drop by and experience Pooka!

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I asked Vanessa to grant me an interview when I saw her artwork and hair. There’s nothing better than seeing a talented woman who also sports a beautiful head of natural hair!  Check out her interview, especially if you’d like to participate in her artistic endeavors! If you’d like to see more of Vanessa’s work at her blog, her Facebook, and her Twitter.

Who Am I?

My name is Vanessa. I’m an artsy island girl from Bermuda.

When did you go natural and what inspired you to do so?

While in University, I was experiencing a lot of difficulty regarding breakage and maintenance of my permed hair. At the time my hair was just below my ears and had never really been longer than shoulder length. I had struggled for years with thinning along my hairline and general breakage from continuous roller setting at heat styling.

I’d always tweak my permed hair styles to show more volume and texture until one day the idea of “going natural” came to me. I thought about it for almost half a year, during which time I searched online for natural hairstyles and advice regarding care. I did meet quite a bit of resistance amongst people who knew little to nothing of natural hair and those that viewed it as something inferior or ugly. I found nappturality.com along with fotki and together they became a wonderful way in which to connect with other nappturals across the globe and learn more. My decision was easily made, I transitioned over the course of two months and did my first BC in 2003 followed by another in 2005.

It took me a long time to learn how to care for my natural hair. During the early part of my journey, the only resources I had were online websites and random suggestions from friends (who weren’t natural). I had to learn many things the hard way, regarding what products to stay away from, how important moisture is, the benefits of protective styling, which dyes can damage hair, why deep conditioning treatments are important etc. the list goes on. But today, I can happily say I’ve got it down.

What is your current regimen to keep your tresses healthy?

My hair is best classified as 4a/4b, zig-zag to tightly coiled. It is of medium thickness with fine, coarse strands. It took me quite a few years to find a regime that really works:
  • I shampoo using a sulphate free shampoo such as Qhemet Biologics Egyptian Wheatgrass Cleansing Tea.
  • I condition after every wash using Organics Hair Mayonnaise along with Suave Coconut Conditioner.
  • While my hair is full of conditioner, I detangle using a wide-tooth comb. This is the only time during my routine that I detangle my hair. I do not do so throughout the week or any other point because my hair breaks easily, especially around my hairline.
  • After rinsing out the conditioner I apply Qhemet Biologics Amla Oil Nourishing Pomade to my scalp. Following this I apply a water based moisturiser to my hair, Qhemet Biologics Burdock Butter Root Cream and then seal in the moisture with an oil based moisturiser such as Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream
  • When wearing my hair loose for long periods of time, I moisturise it daily and section it into large twists or braids at night to reduce tangles.
  • If I am wearing a protective style (typically twists) I tend to moisturise once or twice through the week. I find that the best thing to revive twists after a good nights sleep, is steam from the shower.

What do you love most about your hair?

I love the versatility of natural hair above anything else. There is an endless array of styles to choose from and even after being natural for this long I still have not tried them all. In addition, I believe that my natural state is the best reflection of who I am personally, like an extension of my personality. One minute it can be wild and funky, and the next, chic and very classic.

What’s your favourite style to wear?

I tend to wear two strand twists quite often in pinned up styles and I often wear the resulting twist-out for 3-4 days. And if laziness takes over I just let my hair do whatever it pleases until the next wash.

What advice do you have for newly natural ladies?

Wow, there’s so much to say. I have learned so much through the years so I’d happily share these tips with all newbies:

  • Do not compare yourself to others. It is self defeating and unreasonable
  • Focusing less on hair length and more on health is the key
  • Everyone’s view of “their journey” is different
  • It’s important to enjoy and have fun with your hair, we only live once!
  • Water based moisturisers hydrate/moisturise hair
  • Oil based moisturisers seal in moisturiser as oppose to providing it. Thus, they work best when applied to damp hair or on top of a water based moisturiser
  • Detangling often is not necessary
  • Trimming only when necessary is sufficient
  • Wearing your hair in the same style too frequently can be damaging
  • Harsh shampoos with sulphates strip hair of moisture and should be avoided. Natural shampoos/rinses exists and can even be made at home
  • Products should not be applied so heavily that they create build up on the scalp. Most times, less is more
  • There’s nothing wrong with learning from experience.
  • Remember it’s YOUR journey, you have nothing to prove to anyone unless it’s yourself.

What do you look to for inspiration when creating your art?

Art is a very important aspect of my life and has been a big part of me since childhood. I would say that people inspire me. People mean a lot to me, they are often the source of happiness, laughter, sadness and confusion. I have always been intrigued by the series of personal transformations that people undergo in life to ultimately find a brief state of balance before the next series of transformations.
Specifically as women, we are continuously transforming in marriage, careers, motherhood, friendships etc. Everyone is always on a journey consisting of transformations and balance. I am a granddaughter, a daughter, a mother, a wife, an aunt, a friend… as such this concept is very real to me.  At this point in my life I find this fascinating and most certainly worth depicting.

So it is my hope and aim to create art that addresses this concept. It is part of my artist statement, which I am steadily working to express.

As far as your art is concerned, what are your future plans?

I would like to steadily develop my art goals and address more “women’s issues” through my work.

I’m also looking to do some work on women who wear their hair in it’s natural state. So, I would REALLY love it if any natural women, who are interested in being painted, would contact me via one of the [aforementioned] links. I’m hoping to do a series by summer and am looking for reference material.

In regards to long term goals, I just want to continue doing what I love and what I have passion for. It’s been very fulfilling and I want to make more time for it and take it as far as I can.

 

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