As a community of creatives, MADE Magazine is proud to highlight influencers well deserving of recognition for their contribution and leadership to their industries. Congratulate these rising Chicago influencers in Fashion, the Arts, Media and Entertainment and join us on 6/24 as we celebrate these influencers at A Taste of F.A.M.E Midnight Fireworks Yacht Party!
Aaron Christmon, Stylist – Fashion
Chicago native, Aaron Christmon, has always had a love for the fashion industry. After working for various top luxury fashion retailers, Aaron began to cultivate his styling skills and talent. Over the past 6 years, he has turned his love for fashion into a career of enhancing his client’s wardrobe and style. During Aaron’s undergraduate studies program at Columbia College in Chicago, he founded his company Smart Dress. He has worked with a variety of individuals including singers, actors, and athletes such as Gabby Douglas, Fantasia, Malik Yoba and Jeremih. Not just your ‘typical’ stylist, Aaron provides an array of services; from personal shopping and closet reorganization to fashion shows and events.
IG: @aaronchristmon | WEBSITE: www.smartdressonline.com
Emily Nejad, Cake Designer – The Arts
Bon Vivant Cakes is Emily Nejad, an Chicago cake artist and dessert designer with a passion for creating edible art for people who appreciate life’s sweet luxuries. Since starting Bon Vivant Cakes in early 2016, Emily’s cake, donut, and cone cake designs have become a foodie favorite in Chicago and beyond, eventually landing her on the cover of the Redeye. When she’s not dreaming up custom designs for weddings, birthdays, showers, and every celebration in between, Emily can be found onstage singing in the pop duo Celine Neon. Fondant free and ever artful, Bon Vivant’s custom cakes make a statement of lavishness that are almost too beautiful to eat— almost.
IG: @bonvivantcakes | Website: www.bonvivantcakes.com
Sir The Baptist, Artist – Entertainment
Sir the Baptist, hip hop’s holistic lyricist, is proving himself to be a chaplain of the modern rap culture.Sir the Baptist delivered his first full form statement in an album format, with his debut album release via Atlantic Records, Saint or Sinner (released on May 12th, 2017). The congregation takes on an emotional rollercoaster as Sir weaves his way through tales of honesty, love, joy, pain, truth and enlightenment; listeners are left with ideas of hope and the possibility of change. Sir isn’t just a recording artist, he’s also the author of The Travelogue of a Visionary and is frequently called upon for his opinion on current events by major national and international news outlets. In his tireless advocacy for humanity, his urban church and charitable organization (Tymple and DeedPin respectively) have brought awareness, funding and care to countless foundations and over 100,000 music festival goers in the summer of 2016 alone at festivals such as Lollapolooza, Made in America and more. Sir was also honored by the Mayor of Chicago for his contribution to HIV/AIDS awareness. After over 5 million streams, 2 major films and 1 album, Sir the Baptist is well aware that there’s so much more work to be done.
IG: @sirthebaptist | WEBSITE: sirthebaptist.com
Chiquita Carey, Stylist – Fashion
Born and raised in Chicago Chiquita makes the streets of The Windy City her personal runways. She has loved dressing since she was able to dress herself, but only in the last few years has she decided to make it her career. TruVanity a wardrobe styling company was launched in 2011 in order to help women and men learn to LOVE to get dressed. Since her launched date she has landed several wardrobe styling/blogging opportunities; most notably she is the Lead Wardrobe Stylist for “She’s Gotta Show” a web based talk show and currently writes her own fashion blog TruVanity at www.allineedisonemic.com. In 2016, she styled Donda’s House Executive Director Donnie Smith for 1st Grammy Red Carpet appearance and for her acceptance of the Ebony Power 100 Honoree, all while releasing seasonal style look books on her YouTube channel. TruVanity wants her clients to think of her as the little angel on their shoulder telling them which clothes, shoes and accessories to wear every day.
IG: @truvanity | Website: allineedisonemic.com
Chan C. Smith, Multimedia Storyteller – Media
Chan C. Smith is a multi-talented wiz behind the lens known for her compelling visual storytelling. With years of film, photography and cinematography experience, Chan, who also held the role of multimedia producer for Ebony, is dedicated to delivering an authentic and aesthetically pleasing final product.
IG: @blkfilmsmith | Website: vimeo.com/chancsmith
LaToya Cross, Writer / Producer – Media
LaToya “Toi” Cross is a writer and creative producer who curates content to share, learn and further analyze the creative, social and psychological world that surrounds us all. In her previous and most recent role as the Senior Entertainment and Culture Editor of EBONY Magazine, she documented the arts and covered television, film, web series, music and secured interviews with a variety of celebrity and industry talent. Within just three years, LaToya’s hard work, dedication and ability to build strong relationships with Hollywood powerbrokers and strategic partners facilitated her rise from a freelance Social Media Specialist to a Senior Editor for the company’s flagship publication. LaToya has a passion for shining light on creatives and telling authentic stories, which is a responsibility she continues to uphold as she embraces her next chapter. IG: @ToizStory | Website: latoyacross.contently.com
Alysse Dalessandro, Blogger – Media
Alysse Dalessandro is a plus size fashion blogger, writer, social influencer, designer, and professional speaker. After graduating with a double-major in Journalism and Gender Studies from Loyola University Chicago, this entrepreneur is best known as the owner/designer for body positive fashion brand and personal style blog Ready to Stare. She has appeared on Good Morning America and has been featured in VICE, Buzzfeed, Allure.com and People.com. In addition to her work in fashion, Alysse travels around the United States as a professional speaker and she is a trusted voice in the body positive community. She has been selected to speak at the Success Her Way Summit, Queer Body Love Series, Curves Rock Weekend, the TCFStyle Expo and the Fat Activism Conference.
IG: @readytostare | Website: www.readytostare.com
BeBe Jones, Stylist – Fashion
BeBe is the founder and creator of Row A Seat 1, a Chicago-based style blog highlighting men and women of color in the fashion and beauty industry. From her Q&A profiles, event recaps to exclusive giveaways, BeBe provides a platform for the emerging and established to showcase their work while sharing their journey.
In 2016, BeBe took her ‘style-anthrophy’ to new heights by joining forces with the nonprofit organization, AfterSchool Matters. She became one of the founding instructors of The Suiter’s Academy, a 6-week program designed to enrich the lives of Chicago male teens through fashion. As BeBe Jones continues to endlessly build her empire, she has no plans on slowing down anytime soon. Why should she? BeBe’s life is one, grand fashion show and the world is her runway. Everybody will want a seat here.
IG: @bebe_jones | WEBSITE: www.RowASeat1.com
Taylar Barrington, Creative Expert – Media
UniversiTee Box CEO and expert creative, Taylar Barrington is the “queen of the digital marketing world”. Taylar graduated from Florida A&M University with a degree in Graphic Communications and a Master’s in Business Administration. Since then, she’s made her name as an award-winning designer and sales guru who three years ago decided to turn her passion into full time entrepreneurship. Her business, UniversiTee Box is an influencer hub created for girl vloggers, it also boasts a fun digital space for photo and video production – #BublrChicago. Taylar and her company is focused on empowering women while marketing fun brands, through video-based social media influencers and creative ad campaigns. With her work ethic, style, and expertise, Taylar is making her mark on the webosphere!
IG: @taylarbarrington | WEBSITE: www.taylarbarrington.com
Emmanuel “Manny Reel” Camacho, Filmmaker & Photographer – Media
Emmanuel Camacho is a filmmaker and photographer born and raised on Chicago’s Southside. His work spans genres, styles and looks, but reveals a unique approach honed over years working with industry leaders and innovators, including Nike, Revolt TV, Möet Hennessy, as well as notable figures such as Grammy and Oscar award-winning hip-hop artist Common, Lupe Fiasco, and painter Hebru Brantley among others. His artist alias ‘Manny Reel’ has become a recognizable creative brand in the Chicago scene and serves as the name of Emmanuel’s creative studio, Manny Reel Films. Recently, Emmanuel co-directed ‘The Revenge of Emmett Till’, a documentary retelling the story of the brutal slaying of the young Chicago boy, which sparked the Civil Rights Movement in the mid 1950s. The film has toured the Gene Siskel Theater, Soho House Chicago, Howard University, and Google Chicago and has also been selected to film festivals nationwide, including the Black Hollywood Film Festival.
IG: @mannyreel | WEBSITE: www.mannyreel.com
Francesca “The Franchiise” Fontenot, DeeJay – Entertainment
The Franchiise is one of the most dynamic rising stars to hit the Chicago scene. She’s channeled her strong passion for music in various forms throughout her life, from being the Director of Concert Events at Georgetown University, working on award shows & music programming at BET Networks and now as a professional DJ.
Technically trained by some of the best DJs in the industry at Scratch DJ Academy, her musical style is an eclectic fusion that spans across genres. She leverages her sets as a platform to bridge the generation gap with music from the past, present & future by finding lyrical and melodic commonalities between songs and creating seamless transitions that come to life in every performance. You can find her every week at Beauty Bar’s #Timbuck2uesdays, the longest running hip hop night in Chicago, started by the legendary DJ Timbuck2.
IG: @TheFranchiise | WEBSITE: soundcloud.com/TheFranchiise
J.A. Medcalf, Visual Artist – The Arts
J.A.Medcalf is a mixed media visual artist from Grand Rapids, MI but has called Chicago home in recent years. A proud alum of Western Michigan University earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing.
Fueled by a love for culture, music and all things dope the J.A.Medcalf brand was born early 2016. As a newcomer to local art scene, Medcalf’s bold style has quickly gained exposure through creative partnerships with PepsiCo, Bombay Sapphire, Partners for Racism-Free Community and Colossal Creators. As a self-proclaimed “Artrepreneur” J.A. is committed to being a lifelong creative and will continue to push the boundaries of visual artistry.
IG: @j.a.medcalf | Website: byjamedcalf.com
Nick Brown, Producer & Visionary – Media
Nick Brown is the visionary behind the Glappitnova community and celebration uniting extraordinary millennials through media and showcases around the world. He is an advocate of global inclusion and his current work has been highlighted in the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, and various niche blogs. From production management at the Nike World Basketball festival, guest keynote at the Apple store, to mentoring for CODE2040, Nick earned a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Architecture while being a 2-Time All American Track and Field Athlete.IG: @ynickbrowny
Britt Julious, Writer – Media
Britt Julious is a writer . Her work focuses on the intersection of music, art, race, feminism, culture and politics. She is a firm believer in the underground, the avant garde and the underdog.
Britt has written a variety of profiles, longform reported pieces, fiction and nonfiction for publications, including the New York Times, Esquire, ELLE, GQ, Rolling Stone, W magazine, Vice, and The Guardian, among many others. In addition to her numerous freelance assignments, she currently pens a weekly column for the Chicago Tribune and writes and edits for Vice’s THUMP.
Britt also serves as a moderator, panelist and guest speaker for organizations, schools and events throughout the country. Past clients include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Pop Up Magazine and the Chicago Humanities Festival.
IG: @britticisms | WEBSITE: brittjulious.tumblr.com
Hasani Henderson, Brand Activator – Media
A serial self-starter, avid brand activator and passionate experience creator, Hasani Henderson is already making waves in an array of areas. Hasani graduated from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism (ranked #1 in the world) with an emphasis in Public Relations, Advertising and Social Media. Upon graduation, he immediately began working as the chief ambassador at a nonprofit in Chicago named Quad Communities Development Corporation. Growing up in the Bronzeville area known as “The Low End”, he has always discovered ways to give back.
He devotes much of his free time to non-profit work focused on helping youth reach their fullest potential. In 2014, he began an anti-violence initiative called #TheTakeBack. Since its inception, #TheTakeBack has provided a back to school festival serving more than 1,000 youth on the south side of Chicago with school supplies, meals and scholarships. Due to his unwavering dedication to service paired with his unmatched diligence in the workplace, Hasani was awarded the Viacom’s 2016 Viacommunity Award in February 2017.
As an Ad Sales Assistant at BET Networks, he manages more than 30 accounts and 50 brands across many of the industry’s most prominent agencies. He now manages more National business than any other employees in his position, valuing in more than $25 million.
Tanikia Carpenter, Filmmaker & Screenwriter – Media
Tanikia Carpenter is a filmmaker and screenwriter. She’s also the founder of Black Owned Chicago which was created for citizens and tourists alike who crave the African American experience in our city. Tanikia is happily married to her husband Steve and strives to live out John 15:5.
Dometi Pongo, News Anchor – Media
Dometi Pongo is weekend anchor at WGN Radio 720AM and host of the Brainstorm With Dometi Podcast available on iTunes and all other podcasting applications. Meet him live at the historic South Side Community Art Centerwhere he hosts live art exhibitions and poetry readings every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month.
Formerly the morning news anchor for talk station WVON 1690AM, Dometi Pongo became a popular fixture at the station where he also wrote and produced radio features spurring thoughtful dialogue on social, political and economic issues relevant to under-served communities.
The 2015 radio feature Pongo penned chronicling the coverage of the Laquan McDonald shooting was a finalist for the National Association of Black Journalists’ Salute to Excellence Award for Best Radio Feature. Pongo’s work as a moderator and analyst has been covered in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, the Huffington Post and several local publications.
IG: @dometi_ | WEBSITE: Dometi.net
Melissa Kimble – Digital Strategist – Media
Melissa Kimble is a Digital and Social Media Strategist and Writer who believes in using social media for good through education and empowerment. As the Founder of #blkcreatives, a lifestyle brand for the young, professional and Black creative with a mission to shift the culture from the inside out, Melissa has created the premier Twitter chat for Black millennials. As she pivots the brand into a business, she is quickly becoming a Black millennial digital consultant.
Melissa has worked with small businesses, major brands, mission driven startups, entrepreneurs, and Creatives to share their brand stories through social media campaigns and consultations, handling social media for live events, brand ambassador and influencer programs and more. Her past work includes EBONY Magazine, Golin Harris, Burrell Communications, the NFL, ORS Olive Oil, and American Family Insurance.
IG: @Melissa_kimble @blkcreatives | WEBSITE: www.melissakimble.com
Phillip Scott & Kendall Hurns, Art Gallery Owners – The Arts
A Rochester New York native, Phillip Scott Sinclair, experienced the early eighties full throttle. In the height of what is now recognized as the birthplace of Hip-Hop, Phillip, artistically known as P. Scott, grew up around the three B’s: break dancing, B-boys and breaking the rules.
The first signs of entrepreneur engagement manifested with the opening of a barbershop in downtown Rochester New York. After opening several shops, his talent and style were recognized by a local business consultant who encouraged his expansion. A sequence of events led P. Scott to Chicago permanently. His never-rest spirit compelled the opening of NYCH Art Gallery, home to a plethora of working artist exhibitions and fashion.
Kendall Hurns was born and raised on Chicago’s south side where he attended Thornwood High School. After leaving college midway through his freshman year, Hurns began managing a close friend who was drafted to the NBA right out of high school. That opportunity opened many other doors which started his sports management career where he managed an NBA All Star and Gold Medal Winner in the 2012 US Olympic s. Later, Hurns decided to take his fixation with fashion to another level and started his own clothing brand called Robotic Minds. Now, along with partner Phillip Scott Sinclair he’s co-owner of NYCH Art Gallery.
IG: @pscottart | @kendallhurns | WEBSITE: www.nychgallery.com
Trey White, Media Personality – Media
With his South Side persona Trey White is a Up and coming media personality currently on the airwaves at WGCI! Treys familiarity and introduction to public speaking began as a young boy, as he hosted plays and events at his elementary school. It was at those defining moments Trey knew for certain his position was behind the microphone and in front of an audience. As he grew, so did his love and ear for music. His diligence built a foundation while working at IHeartMedia in New Orleans as he was promoted to hosting his own spot on New Orleans’ number one urban radio station, Q93. In 2016 Trey moved back home to Chicago to work for WGCI hosting his #1 show. Treys familiarity with media has landed him on shows like 106 & Park, Black Ink Chicago and National shows for WGCI’s parent company IHeartMedia.
Jazzmin Monet, Dance Choreographer – The Arts
Jazzmin Monet is a dance choreographer and entrepreneur with the spirit of the African Diaspora running through her veins. She began her professional journey as a youth and adult dance instructor at a local fitness facility. This was miraculously, her first job and only career since then. She currently owns J Monet Dance & Fitness Studio while coaching and facilitating workshops in programs and events throughout the Chicago region. Jazzmin choreographs and performs at festivals such as AAHH Fest, events like the Black Women’s Expo, the Voluptuous Divas pageant, the annual Bud Billiken Back to School parade, music videos, and weddings. She aspires to progress into an international choreographer touring with artists.
Party Noire Collective, Event Producers – Entertainment
When three of Chicago’s leading curators of culture and cool got together in spring of 2015 Party Noire originated as a simple yet profound idea to bring together black creative millennials in a positive, joyful atmosphere. Nick Alder, Lauren Ash, and DJ Rae Chardonnay, each have impressive individual projects and loyal followers and have beautifully merged together their collective passion for black culture, creativity, and joy to curate what is now recognized as Chicago’s most exciting new day party and hub of one of Chicago’s most interesting subcultures.
The #PartyNoire community is very intentional space for uplifting and affirming the lives of Black women. This space of #BlackJoy celebrates Black womanhood along the gender spectrum and holds space especially for queer, trans and gender non-conforming Black people. When in this intersectional space, our space, love, uplift and make space for ALL Black Joy.
IG: @partynoire | Website: www.thepartynoire.com
Desmond Owusu, Designer – Fashion
Desmond Harold Owusu is an educator, design artist, and photographer born on January 28, 1988. Desmond was raised on the South Side Chatham neighborhood of Chicago, IL to Ghanaian parents; his culture continuously nurtured in elementary school at Betty Shabazz International Charter School where he returned as an 8th grade educator of math and science and as a paraprofessional for their SPED Program. It was during his college tenure that Desmond began to partake in fashion and design; he and his cousins started a streetwear brand by the name of Nerdy.
As an educator, Desmond also created a children’s photo alphabet book with partner Briana McLean. As a designer, he has created popular designs worn across the city and country. He is currently an entrepreneur in photography and design while managing Fat Tiger Workshop.
Latoya, Blogger – Fashion
TheFatGirlofFashion was born out of the voice that LaToya wanted to give to the plus size community in Chicago. LaToya was on social media and wasn’t seeing people that looked like her and that were from where she’s from. LaToya wanted the world to know that Chicago had women that were plus size and fashionable. Due to community engagement thefatgirloffashion was expanded to lifestyle because blog visitors wanted to discuss things like travel, food, and reviews. LaToya’s motto is “I’m happy with me.” She believes if you are happy with yourself than you will be more likely to live life on your own terms. LaToya is an advocate for people who have been told being different is bad. LaToya wants to show that the “standard media idea of beauty” is not all the world should find beautiful. LaToya wants to be a resource for people looking for something new and exciting. Like the world thefatgirloffashion is ever changing. LaToya hopes you continue to come back to thefatgirloffashion blog as a source for relevant content.
IG: @thefatgirloffashion | Website: thefatgirloffashion.com/
Tacarra “Spifster” Sutton, Nail Artist – The Arts
As the go-to Windy City manicurist that “spiffs up” manicures to the nth degree at Shervan Salon, Tacarra “Spifster” Sutton is known for her innovative and edgy nail designs. The witty- and undeniably zany – self taught graphic designer-cum-mani-maven got her nickname Spifster for her ability to make anything “spiffy”, and credits trying to kick a bad nail-biting habit as a reason why she started putting polish to talon. Sutton’s precisely-painted lines and one-of-kind geometric designs has grabbed her clientele like Debi Mazar, Danielle Brooks (of Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black) & Taraji P Henson, brands such as Nike, Redbull & Topshop, as well as a long list of devoted clients country-wide who keep her on speed dial for “spiffing”.