On any given day of the week, the #blkcreatives network can be found bridging the gap between black creatives and their goals.
But its founder Melissa Kimble never envisioned she would ignite a community that currently connects over 45,000 people across social media. Fresh out of college, it was hard enough for the brains behind the hashtag to land a writing gig at a magazine or newspaper.
Her love for all things creative had humble beginnings when Melissa was no older than 12. During a cleaning day in her grandmother's home, Melissa stumbled across a box flooded with The Source, Vibe, and XXL magazines, which more than likely belonged to her brother who had just moved out. Having had no concept of hip-hop journalism, she pored over words penned by Danyel Smith to Kim Osorio. "This is someone's job to put this together?" she thought as she moved from cover to cover.
While Melissa always had a flair for reading and writing, thanks to her single mom placing books in her hands when she was merely two, this was different. "Finding those magazines and seeing how the music I was listening to on the radio was being turned into stories was the moment that I discovered my natural love for print," she reminisces. "It opened up a whole new world for me."
"It opened up a whole new world for me."
During our morning call, the Chicago native sounds as bright as the sunlight piercing through my window. "I've been feeling very clear this week," she tells me at the dawn of our conversation, miles from one of the lowest moments of her life.
In May 2009, Melissa's job hunt unraveled into a series of no's as she prepared to cross the stage at the University of Tennessee at Martin. "At that time, trying to go into media seemed impossible," she reflects.
With the Great Recession gnawing at her childhood dreams and communications degree, the recent grad landed face down in defeat at a FedEx center in Memphis. "Having a degree and then immediately having to go throw boxes just to make money was humbling in hindsight but super difficult [at the time]," she explains.
As a means to keep her pen afloat, Melissa dabbled in celebrity news and gossip in her spare time but was ultimately unfulfilled. "It stretched my muscle, but over time, I got tired of contributing to that particular conversation and wanted to find a way to tell stories," she maintains. "I felt like I wasn't doing that."
After lending her talent to several sites, developing her own space online came to mind as early as 2010. Since she couldn't keep her phone on her during FedEx shifts, Melissa would scribble her ideas on paper and tuck them away for later review. As a bookworm, she contemplated interviewing black authors about their latest titles until a larger vision crept into view. "Given where I was in my life, it was so important for me to see examples of people who had created their own lane or career out of nothing," she muses.
From there, My Creative Connection was born.
When she launched her blog in 2012, Melissa panned to self-starting women like relationships guru Demetria Lucas and digital influencer Christina S. Brown before zooming in on men as well. One year later, she was listed among the "Top 14 Empowering & Inspiring Black Women to Follow Online in 2013."
Despite the traction, Melissa admits she was "off and on" with her project for three years before hitting her stride. Her skills began to tilt towards social media, she explains.
It started with Twitter chats. She had participated in a few, but soon realized they weren't curated with black creatives in mind. "I always feel like there are two different conversations going on in this world: one where the conversation is being controlled by the media and the government and what they want us to see, and then there's the conversations that we are having with each other and with ourselves that are necessary for the mainstream to see, and I felt like the latter part was missing from social media," Melissa expresses.
"I felt like the latter part was missing from social media."
In response to that void, she launched My Creative Connection's first Twitter chat in April 2015. Driven by four guests, including Black Actress creator Andrea Lewis, the exchange on "Owning Your Creativity" lured a number of eyes. "People kept asking, 'When's the next one?'" Melissa describes the demand for more. "There was nobody else online who looked like us doing Twitter chats, so we were able to really capitalize off of that."
By the fifth chat, she adopted the name #blkcreatives from a friend, which marked a definitive chapter for her platform.
With each discussion, the hashtag swelled into a network that, to date, reaches tens of thousands.
The success of #blkcreatives catches Melissa off guard at times, but she's aware it didn't manifest by accident. "We found this lane where we're like the creative's best friend or thought partner," the social media strategist explains. "We have this energy around us that's really personable and open, very informative but with a heart and mission for service, and I feel people can feel that when they come in contact with the network."
Scroll their Twitter page, and you'll spot plenty sharing their intentions for the week, revisiting their wins for the month, and holding themselves accountable for where they fall short. There are tons of job opportunities to mull over too, but Melissa insists, "You can't pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of business."
"You can't pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of business."
It was through a chance encounter at a networking event that the digital maven landed a job at Ebony in December 2015, but had she not done "the inner work," chances are she wouldn't have left much of a mark as their onetime senior social media manager.
The moment she accepted the position, she knew she wanted to dig through the magazine's archives, which spanned 70 years of black history and culture. Under the direction of then Editor-In-Chief Kierna Mayo (whose words she once marveled over as an aspiring writer), Melissa unearthed classic Ebony covers to establish "On This Day" features. When she commemorated the 44th anniversary of Sanford and Son's premiere, her post reached over one million people on Facebook within 24 hours, a rare feat for the publication at the time.
Looking back at how she fueled Ebony's visibility, she cites more than doubling their social media following as a standout accomplishment. "I'm most happy that I was able to take a legacy brand and make it relevant on a daily basis online," she shares.
Before she could ring in a second year at the magazine, however, Melissa and much of her team were laid off in May 2017 as #EbonyOwes became a trending topic on the web. "A lot of what the public was finding out at the time, I was finding out as well," she recalls, referencing the dozens of freelancers who accused the company of nonpayment last year.
The sudden dismissal left Melissa upset and lost yet, ultimately, relieved. "I say this as a person of faith, but I definitely feel like it was God getting us off the Titanic before it sunk," she reflects.
"I definitely feel like it was God getting us off the Titanic before it sunk."
She had already been searching for new opportunities, which sparked a move to New York less than a month later, but credits #blkcreatives for seeing her through the unexpected. Between words of support and regular job leads, Melissa felt far from alone. "I was able to tap into my own community to help myself," she says, pointing to the value of the network she built. "It's definitely tested (laughs)."
Today, Melissa is helping Vibe veteran Mimi Valdes build her digital platform Kaleido Beauty all while managing social media for co-working space Dream Village and Sanaia Applesauce. Ask her how she does it all, and she'll list daily prayer and meditation as life changers. "I always try to make sure I'm putting myself first," she explains, adding that she's intentional about meeting her physical and emotional needs. If she could use help along the way, she won't mince words either. "Up until now, I've thought of balance as a solo effort when, really, it can be a group effort," she affirms.
As for the future of #blkcreatives, Melissa has set her sights beyond the Internet in more ways than one. She imagines she'll start an official nonprofit that will inspire black creatives to give back to youth through literacy and tech within the next three years. In the meantime, her team has launched a $5,000 fundraiser in support of Children of Promise, a Brooklyn organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration.
In deep thought on the limitless possibilities for her network, she also reveals hopes of maturing into a digital marketing agency, cementing an annual conference, and hosting events in an effort to make a fuller impact on visionaries across the country.
"It's not just about one person," Melissa ensures. "I could've easily slipped my personal brand in front of #blkcreatives and allow that to elevate me higher than I am now, but it's never been about that. #blkcreatives is really about the community, and I think that shows in everything that we do."
- From Passion Project to National Platform for Young Black Creatives ›
- About Me — Melissa Kimble ›
- Melissa Kimble - Creator - #blkcreatives | LinkedIn ›
- #blkcreatives - Where #blkcreatives Unite. ›
- My Creative Connection - Where #BlkCreatives Unite. ›
- Melissa Kimble (@melissa_kimble) • Instagram photos and videos ›
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There are moments on our health journey when our bodies are bugging us to hit the reset button.
With life, we can start to see slips in our diet, irregular exercising, and inconsistent sleep schedules, and our mental health can suffer because of it. But what many people come to find is that with just a few adjustments — as opposed to restrictions — being made to their food intake, we can see a focus more on eating “the right” calories and less on being on a restrictive diet.
"Raw Till 4" is a dietary concept and lifestyle associated with the raw vegan and high-carb, low-fat vegan (HCLF) movements. Created by Australian blogger and YouTube star known as 'Freelee the Banana Girl', the method suggests eating raw, uncooked plant-based foods until 4 p.m. each day and then having a cooked, vegan meal in the evening.
The Raw Till 4 lifestyle follows the guidelines of vegan and rawist eating and involves consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains in an uncooked, natural state until the designated time of 4 p.m. or around one’s typical dinner time. After 4 p.m., a cooked vegan meal is consumed, which may include foods like steamed vegetables, grains, legumes, and plant-based sources of protein like tofu or tempeh.
On TikTok, creator Adina Yaffa is repopularizing the trend, sharing how it’s helped to improve digestion, boost energy levels, and support weight loss.
Replying to @🌜kat🌛 here is what I eat in a day on a raw till 4 lifestyle. I eat with the sun and according to the circadian rhythm that out bodies follow on a typical day. Where i drink liquids during the first 8 hours, then juicy fruits, then smoothies, more dense building fats, proteins and veggies! #snatchedwaist #bellyfat #bellybloat #smallwaist #hourglass #rawtill4
“During the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., your body is in an elimination phase and needs all the help it can get,” Yaffa says in the clip. “So what you’re going to do is drink coconut water, citrus juices, and green juices during this time, and around 8 a.m., you can break your fast with some fruit. I suggest juicing fruits, and then after that, I suggest having a smoothie or a bowl with berries and granola so you can get your fats and healthy proteins in.”
Raw till 4 has so many benefits including better digestion, nutrients, belly fat and bloat elimination, snatched waist, more energy and so much more! #snatchedwaist #bellyfat #bellybloat #smallwaist #hourglass
On the official Raw Till 4 website, Freelee the Banana Girl shares tips on how to get the best outcomes of this lifestyle change, which include:
- “Stay hydrated! You should pee about 8-12 times per day, and your urine should be clear. Drink 1 liter of water when you wake up in the morning, and 1 liter of water about 30 minutes before each meal for optimal results.”
- “Fragmented sodium (salt) should be kept to a minimum. Use herbs, lemon juice, etc. wherever possible in place of salt.”
- “Eat unlimited calories at every meal, no restriction. The majority of your calories each day should come from fruit. Don’t under-eat on fruit during the day or 'save up' your calories for dinner time. RT4 is about abundance at every meal.”
- “Move your body daily. Find an activity you love and make it your playful exercise.”
- “Make sure to get lots of rest, relaxation, and good sleep. Learning to incorporate good rest, early nights, and regular sleeping patterns into your life will greatly improve your overall health.”
- “Practice gratitude and peaceful emotions at mealtime, and get a vision book started! Be sure to enjoy this journey. Focus on long-term health instead of short-term results.”
Critics argue that it can be challenging to get all the necessary nutrients from a raw vegan diet and that it may not be suitable for everyone, especially over the long term.
As with any diet, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making significant dietary changes to ensure that it meets your individual nutritional needs and health goals.
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