Angel- The Spice Suite | Makers Series

Today’s featured maker is definitely one of the folks that inspired the start of this project for me. She was the very first maker I photographed (she was a few months pregnant with her baby spice girl at the time of our shoot :) and is one of the most consistently inspiring women I know!

Meet Angel Gregario of the Spice Suite!

I first learned of Angel and the Spice Suite in 2016 when I randomly came across her instagram (thanks IG algorithm!) and fell in love with everything she posted- and I do mean everything. From the spice mixes she shared, to the meals she prepared… everything looked SO good! Not only that, but I could tell that she had such a dope vibe and a warm personality. So when I finally made my way to the Spice Suite, it was so great to connect with the woman behind it all and experience the interactive spice bar for myself. Long story short-her spices MAKE me enjoy cooking!

Since then, it has been a joy to work with Angel and see so many new people learn of her awesomeness! In addition to traveling the world for unique spices and creating amazing new blends, her space functions as an incubator for other black owned businesses to host daily pop-ups- the core group of these are affectionately known as the SpiceGirls (one of which was featured during this series- Maya :)

Angel has been featured on Martha Stewart, Essence, XO Necole, and countless other media outlets, with regular appearances on local DC news stations.

Angel is an absolutely brilliant maker who loves what she does and that joy is infectious! It is an honor to include her in this series.

Note: Although this feature gives you a peek into her process, if you’re interested in learning more about Angel’s story, check out her interview with previously featured Nicaila on the SideHustlePro podcast (linked at the end of this post).


Your spice blends are so delicious and unique! What guides your decision-making when it comes to what products you will offer?

Food is fashion. I don’t believe in rules or restrictions when it comes to what I wear or eat. That motto permeates my life. I like to experiment and bring my customers flavors they may not ever imagine mixed with some classic staples. There are some favs you can’t get away from but there’s sooo much fun to be had in the new.

Walk us through the creation process. What does it look like from idea to final product for one of your spice or sauce blends?

This question is a little different for me. I don’t sit and write out spice recipes beforehand. I don’t research or read, I don’t have rules. I encourage my guests to engage in the same way. I largely draw on my motto “food is fashion” and play around. When traveling the world for blends, I go first with what looks interesting and fun, then smell, and then taste.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of owning The Spice Suite?

The freedom of owning my time and being able to show my children the world- literally. Traveling the world with them for spices while making a stop at the pyramids in Egypt. Like- I could never have thought this would be my life!

I first found you via social media a few years ago, and since then, thousands more have as well! As your business and social media following continue to grow, how do you balance your time and manage this tool?

I respect and acknowledge feedback from my social media followers, but I also have very clear boundaries and I make them clear. I’m very transparent with them about what I will/won’t do. While my business is growing, I still make decisions in the best interest of the business and my peace. We recently decided to close on Tuesdays because it’s slow. Folks didn’t love that idea but it makes sense. I also don’t have a traditional online shop. That drives my followers out of state crazy. I have a SpiceBox that we release each month though and folks can access a variety of products. So I basically try to reconcile their concerns while not compromising my time in a way that would jeopardize my business and freedom. I’m here to be free, not bound by opinion.

As a small business owner, sometimes motivation can ebb and flow. What slows you down and how do you overcome it?

I’m rarely slowed down. I try to create my own flow, I don’t yield to expectations of others. That keeps me up for the most part.

What's been your favorite entrepreneurial highlight so far?

Being able to provide space for so many other creatives to pop up. To date, we’ve hosted about 300 small black owned businesses. And of course my SpiceGirls. There’s no me without them.

What's the most important thing you've learned so far about yourself as a maker?

I’m more creative than I thought lol. I never considered myself creative.


I hope you enjoyed learning getting to know a little more about Angel! If this is your first introduction to the Spice Suite, you are in for a treat when you check out the links below :)

Keep up with Angel online: Visit her website: https://www.thespicesuite.com, and follow her on instagram and facebook- she’s @thespicesuite everywhere. Additionally, check out her previous interviews on the SideHustlePro and hey, girl. podcasts.


Now for a few housekeeping announcements: This is the end of the Makers Series (for now :)

For the past 3 months, I have enjoyed featuring some of the amazing black & brown women makers in my network. Over the next few weeks however, I have some exciting things I will be sharing with you so I am pressing pause on this series, and it will return in the fall.

If you missed any of the previous features, no worries- you can check them all out here (or by clicking the ‘MAKERS’ tab up there on the menu bar). I have some great folks lined up for the return of the Makers Series, so stay tuned! And if you’ve been loving the photos that accompany these features and want a makers photo session for yourself, check out the details here.

Thanks for rocking with me and showing love to this passion project of mine 🖤

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Meshia- IncREDible Designs | Makers Series

Happy Makers Monday and welcome to *adjusts glasses * July 15th!

This hot summer has been moving right along and we’re already halfway through July! A graphic tee or tank is perfect in this weather and I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to introduce you to another talented, focused maker- Meshia ‘Red’ Easley of The IncREDible Designs!

I learned of Red and IncREDible Designs through my dear friend Naseera at the Creative Saints Loft. The loft was still in it’s early stages when we talked about it, and I’m so happy to see how they brought this amazing space to life!

As a graphic tee lover, I was very interested in learning more about the process and I thought it would be cool to share it with you guys!

There are some great gems here not only about the process of screen printing, but about life and entrepreneurship as well. I’ll continue to keep my love for graphic tees on the consumer side, but if you’re thinking about making that leap into screen printing I hope this can be a starting point for you 💙

Please enjoy getting to know Meshia and her IncREDible Designs!


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With your background as a basketball coach, how did the shift to screen printing apparel take place?

As a coach/athletic director of a charter high school in Chicago, I was having a difficult time finding quality screen printing options for my teams’ uniforms. At the time, I was doing the graphic designs for all of the team uniforms and fan gear (thanks to my advertising + art classes in college) and found myself getting more curious about the screen printing aspect of it.

Walk us through the creation process. What does it look like from idea to final product for one of your apparel designs?

I receive and edit the vector files that clients send me using Adobe Illustrator, then print the design out on a transparency film. I then choose the appropriate sized mesh screen, (they vary by thread cross counts), coat it with a photo sensitive emulsion, and let it dry overnight.

Once the job is sent to production, the transparency film is then taped on the screen and UV light is burned in an exposure unit. The film is removed after the image is burned onto the screen and taken to a wash out booth. A pressure washer is used to blow out the emulsion where the design on the transparency film was placed. Once the image is fully visible, the screen is placed on a drying rack for a few hours.

Once dry, the screen is loaded onto the screen press and aligned with additional screens if it is a multiple color job. The alignment process consists of putting plastisol (or water based ink) on the screen and using a squeegee to push the paint back and forth over the design. This process can take anywhere from 10 mins (1 color) to an hour (6 colors). After a test print is successfully run, production begins!

During production, layers of ink are printed onto the garment and placed under a flash dryer to gel the ink onto the shirt one color at a time. The final step is to take the fully printed shirt off of the loaded pallet and into a 340-375 degree conveyor dryer to cure the ink onto the garment. Once removed from the dryer, the apparel is folded and boxed.

What is the soundtrack to IncREDible Designs (what's playing in the background when you're creating)?

Like a real 80's baby, give me some early 90's music. I LOVE to jam to Mary J's Pandora radio when I first sit down to start the artwork process, BUT once I'm ready to load the screen printing machine and get in my zone, “Alexa-- play Lil' Wayne.” I'll take any of his albums!

As a small business owner, sometimes motivation can ebb and flow. What slows you down and how do you overcome it?

For me screen printing is not only my livelihood but also my passion and being an entrepreneur is the only way I can see me living my life. I honestly can’t think of a time when I’ve lost motivation and I hope that never changes. The freedom to choose how I spend each hour of my day and to be able to pursue something that holds so much of my interest keeps me going 24/7. I think about my future and how I want to live my life with my family and that gives me all the push I need.

What's the most fulfilling aspect of owning your own creative business?

I have NEVER been a morning person so sleeping until 9:30 every day has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of owning my own creative business lol. I set how my work day goes. If I feel like going for a bike ride in the middle of my day, I do. Nothing trumps that feeling.

How does your sports background compliment your creative work?

The two are very similar actually. As a point guard most of my career, my job was to prove to my teammates that they could trust me to create the big plays on the court because the ball was in my hands 90% of the time. It's the same in this industry… I ultimately have to establish a rapport of trust with my clients to create the best product in order to come out with the WIN and keep them happy.

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What's been your favorite entrepreneurial highlight so far?

Hands down my favorite entrepreneurial highlight has been making all of the shirts for the "Native DC" photoshoot that went viral. Seeing my work in magazines and on websites was a feeling I can't describe. Just being a part of such a monumental movement means everything to me. Another highlight was during a happy hour event in DC a few months ago when 6 or 7 people in the restaurant walked past me with shirts on that I had screen printed lol. I was all smiles that evening.

What's the most important thing you've learned so far about yourself as a maker?

That I'm ambitious and love to take risks.  I've had to stretch my capabilities and take on orders that I knew were above my shop's abilities BUT I've learned from those instances and was able to see my business grow from it. I've also learned that the love and support from my family and friends since day 1 really makes me who and what I am.  They are without a doubt the reason why my vision came to fruition and has continued to blossom. I've had the opportunity to collaborate with other creatives all around the country and that keeps me going. My partner Naseera, has been the real MVP behind the scenes of the social media platform. She and I are the co-owners of Creative Saints Loft but she has taken on the role of handling the marketing content for IncREDible Designs and it has opened so many doors that I didn't think were possible. 


I hope you enjoyed learning getting to know Meshia and learning more about the screen printing process!

Keep up with Meshia online: Visit her website: https://theincredibledesigns.com/, and follow her on facebook and instagram. For more information about the Creative Saints Loft, you can visit https://www.creativesaintsloft.com/, follow on facebook, instagram, (and buy some merch here).

Miss the first 5 makers features? Check them out here!

Want a makers photo session for yourself? Check out the details here 🖤

Stay tuned for the next Makers Monday feature on July 29!

Hadiya- Black Pepper Paperie | Makers Series

Happy Makers Monday and welcome to July!

It’s been 2 months since the start of the Makers Series and we have been rolling! Today I am thrilled to introduce you to an amazingly talented maker that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for the past 8 years- Hadiya Williams of Black Pepper Paperie!

After meeting at an event in 2011, Hadiya and I worked together several times over the years- photographing her best friend’s wedding, working together on a styled shoot, photographing various creative projects, and most recently, we were both contributors to our friend Andrea’s book, We Inspire Me! That was a cool full circle moment because it was at Andrea’s event where we first met in 2011!

Hadiya is legit one of the most talented people I know. I am always inspired by how she effortlessly brings art to life using many different mediums, with a consistent eye for beautiful bold design. Keeping up with her work over the years has made me so happy!

I’m very thankful that she was able to share a moment of her time so that we could learn a bit more about her creative process 🖤

I hope you enjoy getting to know Hadiya!


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With your background in graphic design and art direction, how did the shift to clayware take place?

When I was in design school, I was always inspired by handwork- letterpress, woodwork, printmaking, etc. There was something extra special about tactile design/craft work. Like it hits on all senses as opposed to modern day graphic design which is heavily computer-based. I realize now, that it was inevitable that I would end up working with my hands, but I would have guessed it would be some form of printmaking.

After going to the American Craft Council Show in 2015, I developed a deeper appreciation for the art of handmade ceramics. I started collecting pieces whenever I came across something interesting. In Feb 2017, I took a 2-hour wheel-throwing workshop with a friend for fun. I had no goal outside of having fun and trying out a new craft. Afterward, I wanted to continue learning but in the comfort of my home since it was winter. I discovered polymer clay and youtube and started creating and sharing.

The whole process was pretty organic and unexpected. I took a couple of ceramic classes and now I primarily work with ceramic clay. I currently own a small kiln and I’m also a community artist at District Clay Center.

You have a beautifully intuitive method of creating, how do you ensure that your environment is conducive to creativity?

Thank you. I pride myself on leaning heavily on my intuition to create. I feel like some of my best work comes from just getting in there and making. My biggest MUST for my environment is lots of light. Anywhere that I live or work has to have a lot of natural light. I need that connection to natural light source, whether its sunlight, daylight, or moonlight. Outside of that, a clean surface is always helpful. I can be a bit messy so when I clear my surface, it tends to inspire me to create.

Walk us through the creation process. What does it look like from idea to final product for one of your clayware pieces?

I typically create a lot of pieces at once. Break out a piece of the clay, wedge it and roll out a slap to cut. Then I get my cookie cutters and start cutting out shapes. I just go for it until I have a variety of shapes for earrings, neck pieces, combs, etc. Smooth out the rough edges, let them dry out completely. Bisque fire, then glaze and fire again. The glazing is fun and stressful at times. I tend to like surprising myself with the end result for some pieces. Then once they are out of the kiln, I add the painted elements and spray with ceramic varnish.

This process is relative but for the most part it’s a pretty standard process for my jewelry. I like to let each individual piece “dictate” the design. I just intuitively start painting designs on them. Sometimes, I let them be. There have been times where I sketch out my designs and shapes but for the most part I am working on the fly.

You have a piece that's being really difficult and not turning out as you'd hoped... How do you reset?

The reset can be a shift in my expectation of the end result. Even if I sketch something first, I am open to what the organic process allows. Being able to embrace the mistakes makes it easier to be flexible and to improvise. If time allows, sometimes it’s just best to start over.

What's the most fulfilling aspect of owning your own creative business?

Being able to create pieces that bring others joy.

As a creative, sometimes motivation can ebb and flow. What slows you down and how do you overcome it?

I tend to procrastinate when I let the details overwhelm me. That definitely slows me down. Even though I know better, I still try to keep things in my head. When I actually take the time to write things out, whether it’s a schedule, a to-do list, etc., it frees up some serious mental space. It always gives a clearer perspective which reduces the anxiety.

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What's been your favorite entrepreneurial highlight so far?

Getting the LLC for my business. When I received my documents, it reminded me that I was building something bigger than I’d imagined.

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What's the most important thing you've learned so far about yourself as a maker?

I have learned that I prefer not to create the same piece twice. I love the idea of each piece being one-of-kind. I find myself trying to combat that in the effort to make my business more scalable and to follow advice from others but I realize that the joy is in seeing the array of designs and knowing that each piece is it’s own work of art.


That was dope, right? I’m so happy you guys were able to learn a little more about my friend, Hadiya! Let me know what you thought of her feature!

Now, the only thing missing is some Black Pepper Paperie in your life :)

Keep up with Hadiya online: Visit her websites: https://www.blackpepperpaperie.com/ and https://www.hadiyawilliams.com/, and give her a follow on instagram @blackpepperpaperieco and @hadiyawilliams, on facebook, and on twitter.

In DC, NY, or NOLA? Pick up some of her handmade goods in person: https://www.blackpepperpaperie.com/shoplocal

Miss the first 4 makers features? Check them out here!

Want a makers photo session for yourself? Check out the details in this newly announced service 🖤

Stay tuned for the next Makers Monday feature on July 15!

2019: Part 1 | January to June Recap

Happy Thursday to you!

We are just about one week into the Summer season and I realized that I haven’t shared much of what I’ve been up to these past few months- so let’s rectify that, shall we?

Last year I did two recaps- one for the first quarter, and another for the second. This year you get one mega post recapping the first 6 months of 2019 :)

What have I been up do? Literally everything lol. Mentoring, headshots, family, graduation, maternity, birthday, anniversary, brand revamps, makers sessions… you name it! And I could not be more thankful for my amazing clients, truly. It hasn’t been the easiest year for me personally, but I am incredibly grateful that I get to work with some pretty delightful people.

Well I won’t make this intro super long because there are loads of photos for you to peruse :)

One note I do want to include though- there are just 6 dates remaining on the summer calendar- 2 in July, 2 in August, and 2 in September so pleease don’t wait to reach out if you’d like to take photos this summer because there may not be any dates left!

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If you’re interested in scheduling a business or lifestyle session in the coming months, I would love to get you on the calendar. View available dates here + email me if you have any questions! Now booking: limited Summer 2019 dates.