“I am committed to improving the condition of Black women worldwide because I am a woman, because I am Black, but, most importantly, because I genuinely care.” Moana Luu, Chief Content and Creative Officer, ESSENCE
I echo these exact sentiments. In this time of racial unrest, violent uprisings, and a worldwide pandemic, I want to hold space for your grief, my own sorrow – the pain we collectively share as a community. And now more than ever, I am committed to promoting and celebrating Black women and the businesses they fearlessly lead.
I have selected a few of my favorite planners and designers of color that inspire and motivate me on a regular basis. These women are my mentors (in my head); I follow them on social media, listen to the podcasts, read the articles and have taken some of their courses. They have built mighty empires, and most of them started out just like the rest of us—with nothing more than passion and a vision. In doing their work and paving the way for burgeoning planners of color like myself, they are activists.
Karleen is known for her impeccable ability to curate bespoke experiences like no other. Karleen’s knack for innovation has allowed her to found The Vanity Group (TVG). Karleen, originally from Memphis, Tennessee, has learned from the best; she started off working with Sean “Diddy” Combs as his executive assistant. Her dedication to mastering every event led her to literally mastermind a gem-dropping quarantine course, where she virtually taught over 150 women – including myself! – how to snag six-figure clients. “You can’t win if your head’s not in the game.” Karleen is also the authority on all things fashion, music, travel, and lifestyle.
We happen to share a few things in common, outside of designing events. Karleen happens to be my sorority sister! We are members of the first and the finest African-American Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She became a member at Howard University, which is also my Alma Mata. Karleen is down-to-earth, fun-loving, wise, and is doing it for the culture! Check her handles out below –
Khadidra “PEP” Muhammad
Khadidra, commonly referred to as, “PEP” is known for creating FUN, eye-catching, over-the-top events while also skilled with executing supremely elegant affairs. PEP’s talents know no bounds! Her work ethic is unmatched; I recall her telling a story about a time she was injured by a stray bullet and then had to execute an event from a hospital bed – unbelievable! She offers yearly workshops where she shares transparent and informative advice to others in the industry. The second part of the workshop is a hands-on learning experience and culminates with a one-of-a-kind gala!
PEP is a native New Yorker with Caribbean roots, like myself, and her workshop, “Pick Pep’s Brain” was the first event planning workshop I attended. PEP wants to see everyone win and that is always evident in the way she shares knowledge during her workshops. I love that she is always willing to lift others up; a true example of, “women supporting women.”
Tricia Smith Brown
Tricia is the owner and creative director of TSB Planning & Design. She started her career as an in-house event producer for distinguished brands. Now, Tricia executes exclusive luxe events for celebrities and high-profile brands. If I had to describe her brand’s style, I would say it merges original and modern with clean and chic; her detail-oriented designs are often made up of unlikely yet stunning combinations of hues, patterns, and textures.
Three of us makes a crowd - Tricia is also a Howard University alumna! #HU Much like the scope of her designs, Tricia has a myriad of personal passions. I love when she shares her trips around the globe just as much as I admire the position she takes on social justice issues. Lastly, she makes work-life balance appear seamless. I’m sure it isn’t, but I am inspired by a woman who is able to build a successful business all while raising a family.
This event designer holds many titles. Akeshi is the CEO and Creative Director of Kesh Events, yes, but she is also Best-Selling Author, Event Designer, Party Planner and Educator. Kesh has a natural ability to design lush and romantic spaces. A quick peek on her Instagram page will reveal a spread of plush arrangements. If that’s something that fancies you, you’re in luck! Kesh is also well-known for her exclusive workshop, The Kesh Experience, which focuses on floral and design.
What strikes me most about Kesh is her heart for educating planners and designer, no matter their level of expertise. I love that she has offered valuable information on a multitude of platforms. While her workshop and coaching courses require an investment, Kesh makes it a point to offer free and valuable information through other platforms such as social media and her podcast, Let’s Talk About It. Her passion for helping and educating others is admirable – take a look at her work!
Chloe is a Celebration Curator based in the Houston area who executes numerous events, including weddings, birthday celebrations and baby showers through her brand, Chloe Cook Events & Photography. She just celebrated ten years in the business, after starting by simply taking event photos (never despise small beginnings!) Chloe also hosts an educational workshop entitled, “Cocktails with Chloe,” where she shares her knowledge of business and marketing for people in various industries.
Chloe, like most of the planners featured, juggles countless other priorities; two of the most notable are her roles as mother and teacher! There is really something about educators…you can count on them to throw the best children’s parties! We also have a knack for working with and managing different personalities. As both a school psychologist and planner/designer, I truly admire Chloe’s desire and ability to balance two professions while creating an intersection of them both where her skills can be used! If you want to learn more about Chloe -
Again – I would not be the planner I am today, if it were not for the influence of these women. I am grateful that I am able to grow from their various experiences, styles and approaches to the industry. As I recognize those who have impacted me most in my event design and planning career, please take the time to cheer on those who have motivated you. In doing this, we stand in solidarity.