Author: Deja

Fitness Guru and Creative Designer Melissa Dufour Shows Sweating is Sexy with New Affordable Athleisure Brand

“Working out and what you wear is a form of self-care.” – Melissa Dufour, Founder and Creative Director of Sexy Sweats.

A great fitness guru once said “looking good is important, but feeling great is key!” What if we told you that you can both look and feel good while exercising? That’s the mission of the Athleisure Brand “Sexy Sweats” that hit the market in 2018. Founded by Melissa Dufour, the brand is highlighting the sexiness of staying fit. With true fitness background and overcoming her own health obstacle, this fitness guru is helping others transform their lives one outfit at a time.

The Vice City native is a first-generation, Haitian-American and the oldest of two siblings. Her love for fitness was stamped in her childhood as she watched her father playing soccer. She even participated in many sports herself including track & field, flag football, and boxing, and was even on the girl’s weight lifting team. With a strong athletic background, it is no surprise that it would be the segway to her successful ventures in the future. Melissa later went on to obtain her B.A. in Healthcare and found herself facing adversity shortly after.

At only 25, she was diagnosed with severe arthritis. The experience was a painful one for Melissa. She says “there were times it was hard to walk and after multiple doctor visits, tests and diagnoses, nothing seemed to add up.” This motivated her to change her diet and routine.

After battling arthritis, Melissa gained a new appreciation for looking and feeling good and went on to create a new fitness routine that would balance the two. She notes, “Although it wasn’t the easiest routine for me to follow, I experienced real success in finding balance for them all. I’ve created a schedule to incorporate working out five days a week. I usually find myself in fitness apparel and sneakers on my days off, even if I am not in the gym.” These aspects would become the driving force behind Sexy Sweats.  

Photo Credits: Sexy Sweats

Sexy Sweats is new a bold and attractive imprint proving that sweating is indeed sexy. It is described as an athleisure brand made to shape a woman’s natural features, not hide them. It’s the athleisure line for the bold and daring and embodies the unique creative vision for bodaciously curvy women. Sexy Sweats is so attractive in its daring designs, vibrant colors, and intricate stitching with a slimming illusion.  The brand was created because Melissa wanted to help women feel their best while working out, which is something she felt was missing. 

The brand separates itself through exclusive designs and prints. It’s more than clothing, It’s a movement for women to showcase their confidence, sex appeal, and athletic lifestyle. Dufour states, “Sexy Sweats’s distinctive style and colors are unmatched. It’s an outward symbol that confidence and feeling sexy shouldn’t be hidden, and we are here to embrace it. Everything down to the stitching was given immense amounts of attention.”

Creating the brand was a no-brainer as she states, “I love a good challenge. My goal is to influence the fashion industry with our exclusive pieces, build a lifestyle brand and motivate women to work for their results and proudly show them off.”  With prices ranging from $18 to $82 dollars, it’s something every woman can get her hands on.

Photo Credits: Sexy Sweats

When speaking about the creation of the debut, “She Is” Collection, Melissa says it was created with personality and style in mind. I designed each piece intricately, intending to make head-turning clothes. I also added stitching with slimming illusions to enhance one’s silhouette. I want to provide each customer with comfortable, form-fitting pieces that provide much-needed support while in the gym. Sexy Sweats has your favorite athleisure pieces, no matter what size or shape.

Serving both as founder and creative designer is no chore for Melissa as she loves to get in touch with her creativity and bring her visions to life. As the brand grows, the heat is being turned up. “As the founder, I am still in the building phase, learning so much from the business’s administrative side, which can be extremely challenging.”  When asked her favorite things about her double role, she says Everything! “ Melissa watches the growth of her brand, and it excites her as she crushes her goals every day. I’m far from the goals I want to achieve but way ahead from when I first started.

“The final results always make the process look like a piece of cake but finding a good balance is the key to business.”

Melissa and Sexy Sweats plan to continue highlighting the sexy of every woman stating “as Sexy Sweats continues to grow, the public can expect a lot of heat. Sexy, daring, new prints and colors all summer long and beyond.” It’s sure to give A Lot of Heat. Sexy, Daring, New prints and colors, dropping this Summer 2022.  She also hopes to collaborate with top-of-the-line athleisure brands, athletes, and have other fitness gurus join the movement of fashionable fitness.

You can keep up with Sexy Sweats’s innovative styles on their social media at @sexysweatswear. Join in by tagging and using the #sexysweatssquad. Shop the She Is Collection now available at

Fitness Expert Gabi Mazar Combines Fitness and Traveling with Destination Fitcations

Gabi Mazar constantly thinks about how she can make a difference and create an impact with her current path. She would soon find that answer with endless love for exercise. Working with clients drives her, and their success is a huge motivator. With a go-getter mentality, Gabi successfully created a fitness empire, helping others improve and enjoy their lives.

The importance of staying fit was instilled into Mazar from a young age as her father was an active sports coach. Gabi was an all-around athlete herself, participating in activities such as swimming, gymnastics, dance, and volleyball. In her collegiate years, she decided to take on business but couldn’t shake her interest in fitness and nutrition. This led her to major in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Small Business and Exercise & Wellness. She later became certified in NASM, Stretch to Win FST, and PMA Pilates.

Over the next 15 years, Gabi immersed herself in the fitness world beginning as an intern. She continued that role off and on until opening her first fitness oasis. She spent the next seven years building her brand. Gabi states “I cannot say the journey was easy. There were many times I cried and thought about quitting, and doing something else, but my passion for what I do, and my clients kept me going.” During this time there was another obstacle on the horizon.

While growing her gym, Gabi neglected her health and fell ill an untimely autoimmune disease. She endured rapid weight gain, incredible brain fog, sleeping 12-17 hours a day, memory loss, and other symptoms. She would later be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This diagnosis was an eye-opening experience for Gabi who states, “previously, I had the idea that everyone could do any form of exercise it was just a matter of modification. Hashimoto’s changed my life. It changed my perspective. It changed everything.”

“I have always believed in everything in moderation, but what do you do when your life is turned upside down?”

Gabi’s journey to wellness took years but changed how she saw others, saying, “We all have different bodies, injuries, illnesses, and ailments, and to say we should, or can all do the same things is incorrect.” She had to drastically change what she ate, how she exercised, and how to schedule her life to what worked for her. From this, helping others figure out what works best for them has become her goal.

Despite her setback, Gabi found success in building her loyal client base and expanding her fitness empire. Pilates Tempe is a pilates studio community offering over 70 classes every day. Their Services include private appointments, in-person and virtual classes, and live stream classes. 

In 2019, Gabi decided to take her fitness imprint worldwide with Destination Fitcations. The platform stemmed from her love for fitness and travel. The goal was to take people around the world and show them the most amazing time, while still incorporating her daily routine.“Fitness isn’t a means to an end and should be incorporated into all aspects of our lives. Being healthy and learning how to live healthily and moderately, even on vacation, is something I want to show people,” she explains.

Throughout her journey, Gabi has found joy in her working with clients and learning new things. She says, “The longer you work with clients, the more you learn about how to work with injuries or how to train and modify workouts for different people. The more you learn, the more people you can help.” Gabi also finds excitement in seeing when clients hit milestones, make progress, and reach goals no matter if it is a weight loss goal, a health goal, or just something as simple as going to the gym 3 times a week. 

“You are a positive influence in people’s lives, and there is nothing better than being that for someone.”

When asked for some workout tips for beginners, Gabi says, “start simple. Don’t try to overthink it or overbook yourself. Whatever you do, make it something you can stick with and stay consistent with. When you have made that commitment to yourself, then you can add to that. The key to any successful health goal is consistency, not how hard you go today just to quit tomorrow.” 

As for now, Gabi focuses on building Pilates Tempe and Destination Fitcations. She plans to create a second location for Pilates Tempe and incorporate new fitness destinations. Her biggest goal is to continue to focus on serving the amazing clients she has now. 

You can join a class in Tempe at or join one of Gabi’s fitness vacations at You can also watch for updates on Instagram @gabrillemazar, @pilatestempe, and @destination_fitcations.

OWN TV’s Rebecca Lynn Pope Helps Women Take Back Control of their Love Lives!

Women’s empowerment is creating all the buzz on OWN TV’s newest hit series, Marry Me Now! The new impromptu show documents eight potential brides as they prepare to pop the big question to their romantic partners. The Saturday night show chronicles hopeful brides on their quest to get successfully engaged, find a dress, and head to the altar in less than a week. The brides are not alone! That’s where the internationally renowned relationship expert Rebecca Lynn Pope steps in. Pope is a relationship expert headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. She is widely known for her innovative life and love coaching courses and her sensational YouTube platform, where she has gone viral to the tune of millions of channel views.

Growing up, Rebecca was heavily influenced by the ministry with her father being a pastor. After attending the University of Washington, she would get her start as a matchmaker and would later transition into a life and love coach. Her life coaching packages She offered retreats, events, and classes that continually sold out nationwide. She later founded the Godly Girls Club, an organization for women of faith with over 12,000 members globally. Her work has been featured in People Magazine, Fox News Morning Shows, Essence Magazine, iHeart Radio and she also served as a columnist for Black Bride Magazine.

Her imprint gained greater momentum when she started posting relationship advice on YouTube with nearly 100K loyal subscribers (To date, her most viral video Why Women Have Totally Unrealistic Standards for Men, Dating, and Marriage has over 1.7 million views). This is Where she would garner the attention of the OWN Executive Team. Rebecca is on record saying “When they approached me, I had no idea it was an OWN show… When they described the host for the show, it sounded just like me. I could just show up and be myself.” 

Before (and still), Rebecca is the CEO and founder of several global six and seven-figure businesses and brands. She has always loved building businesses and currently coaches spirit-led entrepreneurs on how to create multiple streams of income and scale revenue up.  Pope co-owns Abundant Life Path, with her husband Kerry A. Pope where they have trained 250 plus abundant life coaches.  She is also the CEO of the Abundant Life Path Coaching Certification program and- Millionaire Coach branding and marketing company aptly titled, called the Millionaire Coach. Her best-seller Love and Dating in the 21st Century: A Godly Girl’s Guide is a raw and real guide about why relationships have become so complicated and how anyone can successfully navigate dating and love.

For those yearning for a healthy relationship, Rebecca says “the work won’t be easy, but getting real with yourself and facing your issues head-on will make you a better partner and will help you attract better quality partners.”

Want more? You can catch Rebecca giving her expertise on  Marry Me Now every Saturday at 9 PM EST on the OWN and Discovery+ networks.

Show the love doctor some love Also you can find her on social media @rebeccalynnpope. Subscribe to YouTube Channel HERE!

Successful Relationship Coaches and R&B Icons Strengthen Marriages through Walking

When building relationships, building a bond that lasts the test of time is the ultimate end goal. This bond is important because it is the foundation of the family and sets the standard moving forward. Those are the same reasons the Married For Life Walk was founded. Founded by Professional Life & Marriage Coach Martez & Woodrina Layton, LPC and R&B Icons and Power couple, Ronnie and Shamari DeVoe, the movement is moving into its 5th successful year of helping couples of different ethnicity, and backgrounds to build strong marriage relationships.”

This Marriage Movement was inspired by the founders’ own fight for their love. Martez states,  “Being a man full of faith,  he heard the spirit of the Lord speak to his heart by instructing him, “to hold Woodrina’s hand each day and simply walk and talk with her.” Over time this built an empowering bond of which they saw results. Today, they have been married for nearly 30 years. 

Married 4 Life Walk is a two-day event where couples will connect, share, and stand with one another in the name of love.  The M4LW Experience advocates for the importance of professional marriage coaching and counseling in relationships for prevention and to help couples navigate through challenging times. The movement is important because it combats the increasing divorce rate. Co-Founder Woodrina Layton states the M4LW helps to correct the course of failing marriages by equipping couples with practical tools that they can use in their relationship to build their emotional intimacy with one another and strengthen their marital bond. 

Having faced their own obstacles, Ronnie DeVoe (New Edition) and Shamari DeVoe (Blaque, and Encore on BET), decided to seek guidance from the Laytons. After successful coaching and understanding the importance of having a solid partner firsthand, they decided to join the Married 4 Life Walk movement as vision partners. 

Not only does the movement improve relationships, but it also strengthens entire families. Founder Martez Layton CPC finds that a healthy two-parent household benefits the family dynamic in many ways. One major benefit is being able to have combined resources of emotional support, financial support, and energy needed to raise children and to deal with the stressors and challenges of family life. It provides the opportunity for no parent or child to feel neglected or have feelings of low self-esteem. A healthy two-parent household also provides an environment that builds teamwork, unity, and acceptance for both parent and child.

The event begins with The Couples Conversation & Love Celebration where couples come together and network. It is followed by relationship enrichment while they enjoy DJ, dancing, a special performance by Ronnie & Shamari DeVoe, and more!. The goal is to start the weekend off with learning, having fun and celebrating your love, and remembering to “Never Let Go Of The Hand You Are Holding. The following Saturday, couples will participate in the 2-mile unity walk symbolizing their unity.  While holding hands during the 2-mile walk, couples experience firsthand the importance and benefits of taking time in their relationship to hold hands and walk together.

The 5th annual Married 4 Life Walk kicks off on April 22, 2022. Interested couples can learn more and register now at Also, keep up with all the Married 4 Life Walk updates @married4lifewalk on Instagram and Facebook.

Fox Soul General Manager & Head of Programming James DuBose Creates an Innovative Safe Haven for the Black Community.

Entertainment veteran and visionary, James DuBose is no stranger to shedding light on the real and raw experiences that lead to success.  His mission to unapologetically amplify the Black voice and the Black experience is backed by his impressive professional catalog and continues that mission in his new executive role at the Fox Network imprint, Fox Soul. To date, the network’s programming has garnered record-breaking TV viewership numbers and as the program celebrates its second successful year, he continues to positively shift the paradigms at the network.

DuBose is a native of Greensboro, North Carolina. While he was raised in a single-parent home, he grew up surrounded by lots of love from both sides of his family. James would find sports to be an outlet and would develop lifelong friendships. He would also learn the importance of a strong work ethic.’

Media and entertainment have always been a passion of James’. From an early age, he had the desire to hone in on his creativity. This would lead him to study Broadcast Communications at his home state’s Wake Forest University. After Graduation and signing with the Detroit Lions, James would fully immerse himself in Media and find himself working with some of the biggest names in entertainment.

In 2005, he launched his first production company where his first project would be working on the hit Keyshia Cole Series, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is. Dubose says he is forever indebted to Keyshia Cole who entrusted him with his vision and share her raw and uncut story. From there everything would fall into place as he was able to work on other hit series including Tiny and Toya, Monica: Still Standing, Trey Songz: My Moment, The Michael Vick Project, and more! This would give birth to a new era of storytelling in the Reality TV and Docu-Series realms. He notes that everyone was at a crossroads in their life and his focus was capturing people at the darkest moment trying to find their way and how they overcame that. He found that audiences would gravitate towards those shows because they are real and relatable which would foreshadow the focus at Fox Soul.

Much like the stories he told, James would later find himself facing crossroads in his own career. At the highest point of his career, he was miserable. “It was like I was living a lie and the hardest part is looking at yourself in the mirror and knowing you’re living a lie. And it’s like I am dying every day,” He states and he had a difficult time talking about it. He credits Loretha Jones, former President of BET for aiding him during that time. James would encourage others who are facing hardship in their life to talk, stating “there’s nothing weak about telling somebody you need help. You’ll start to feel better because you won’t feel alone and you’ll realize that 90% of people you’re talking to have some type of demon they’re fighting every day.”

(Image credit: Fox Soul)

Fast Forward to today, James is now the General Manager and Head of Programing at the OTT Network, Fox Soul. Fox Soul is the Fox Broadcasting Network’s first live and interactive OTT (over-the-top media) Service dedicated to the Black community. James’ mission is reflected on the FoxSoul Network- to celebrate black culture and with real topics that impact the everyday lives of the black community through frank and insightful dialogue with local and national influencers.  

The opportunity find James while he was the executive producer and syndicator at the entertainment show, Dish Nation. He states that Fox was looking to venture out into new cultures and they would eventually approach him for insight. After pitching his ideas and a successful test run in 2019, he sold it and would officially get the green light for Fox Soul. He makes it known that “I am able to obtain these opportunities because I was blessed with a great team.”

Fox Soul is the viewers’ network, where they allow the audience to control what they want to see. They further differentiate themselves from other streaming networks because they allow viewers to interact with their hosts in real-time. This gives the community a safe space to address imperative issues and topics in the comfort of their homes. “The mission for Fox Soul is long-term,” James says. His goal is to develop the streaming platform into a linear broadcast channel in addition to the streaming. He also wants to hit the genre of everything Black people love as a culture and show the totality of the Black community.

In the spring, viewers can expect new programs from the network including a music competition show following how a Producer, Writer, and artist come together to make a hit.  The program also plans to dive into Saturday morning animations for children, where black kids can go and see themselves, feature films, and documentaries in the future.

For a man with such an impressive, professional body of work, James humbly describes himself as a man who is striving to learn and grow every day with an intent to uplift the culture of the people who are for him. When it’s all said and done he wants his legacy to live on as a man with a pure heart.

Be sure to interact with Fox Soul wherever you watch or visit their Youtube and website FOXSOUL.TV and follow them on all social media @foxsoul.

You can connect with James Dubose on all platforms @duboseofficial.

The Underground Scoop With Cheesecaked

Imagine taking all of your favorite desserts and combining them into the ultimate cheesecake or milkshake. Well, that’s the magic that happens at Atlanta’s popular bakery, Cheesecaked. With over 20 years of baking experience, Founder Shawn Brown serves tasty creations leaving patrons with an everlasting sweet tooth. Amidst several life-altering events, she has been able to stay afloat and has been featured on some of the nation’s top outlets! Now, with two new reemerging locations, Cheesecaked is baking its way to the top!

The Los Angeles, California native was inspired by her grandma to begin baking. Shawn states it started with her grandma’s sweet potato cheesecake recipe. From there she began to perfect her innate ability to create delicious cheesecakes. These precious moments would later help Shawn open the nationally acclaimed bakery.  

Red Velvet Cheesecake Sandwich

 Cheesecaked specializes in turning your favorite desserts into amazing cheesecake flavors.  The gourmet cheesecake boutique offers a variety of personal-sized cheesecakes in an assortment of flavors including Pecan Praline, Champagne, Salted Caramel, White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl, Vanilla Bean, Banana Pudding, and more! Cheesecaked was a way to keep living amidst the heartbreaking event she suffered years earlier.

Peach Cobbler Cheesecaked

Tragedy struck Shawn and her family in 1994, when she, her sister, and her ten-month-old son was struck by a drunk driver. The accident would leave Shawn with massive head and face injuries, needing reconstructive facial surgery, and her infant son deceased. This accident was a turning point in Shawn’s life as she found herself trying to reclaim the women she lost in the incident. Out of this, Cheesecaked became a way to create a sweet victory by bringing joy and awareness to others.

The bakery would officially emerge in 2011 and become a national phenomenon. During their first launch, Cheesecaked was featured on Good Morning America, Food Network, CNN Travel, and more! Unfortunately, Shawn would find herself facing adversity again once she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. This would force Shawn to close Cheesecaked indefinitely while she went through recovery.

Since finishing remission, Cheesecaked has made its grand return to the Atlanta community in November 2021. The new location is located in the Historic Underground Atlanta shopping strip with a second location is soon to follow in Norcross, GA. As Shawn continues her sweet journey, she would tell others, “Here is the thing. Life is hard. There is no way around it but the thing is, it’s a journey, it has peaks and valleys and it’s in those times there is a lesson God is trying to teach you. During tough times pray that God shows you the lesson so that you can learn from it and share with someone how you got through it, trust me, they are watching.”

To get Cheesecaked, follow them on Instagram @cheesecaked and visit!

Lights, Camera, Action: A Close Up into the Media Industry with Alyssa DiTomasso-Ammar

Alyssa DiTomasso-Ammar is an upcoming media maven and community leader based in Atlanta, Georgia. Though she is just beginning and her career is still budding, she has already held positions at major networks like CBS Radio (now Audacy) on WAOK’s Rashad Richey show, iHeart Radio1100 AM’s Chicks Into Sports radio show, V103 FM, Star 94 FM and has hosted on-air for various independent shows.

New Jersey-born and Atlanta-raised, Alyssa has always had big dreams and that has carried her throughout her life. Growing up she dreamed of holding various occupations but later found herself lost trying to discover her true passion. Ammar fell into communications after it was recommended to her in college and found inspiration in the hit BET show “Being Mary Jane.” She went on to attend Georgia Highlands and finished her matriculation at Kennesaw State University with a degree in Communications specializing in Digital Media and Entertainment. She also holds a minor in Hospitality Management and Event Planning and dived straight into the field upon her graduation.

Alyssa DiTomasso-Ammar

For the last five years, Alyssa has been honing in the media field. She started in the industry as an intern and had been working her way up the ladder. This led her to her current role as a Digital Content Producer at Audacy (formerly Entercom). She says, “it’s been a wild ride, but this industry is everything I dreamed it would be.” She has been able to expand her reach as she gets to network- meeting and talking to amazing people every day. Outside of producing, she is an on-air personality where she interviews community leaders, trendsetters, people of interest, and more! She says wakes up energized and ready to work knowing that “when I meet new people who have an amazing business, or star in a show I get to share them with the people I care for most, the people in my community.” She ultimately wants to be someone people could rely on for important information, for a learning experience, for a friend that would always be there for them.

While Alyssa is just getting started she has already learned some major lessons in the industry. One of her first lessons was, some bridges are meant to be burnt: not everyone you meet in this industry is your friend. She has experienced people who claimed they can help propel her career to the next level but were not true to their word. Also, she states that remembering names is super important- having made this mistake herself, and the most important lesson is to trust your gut. For those hoping to get their big break in the industry, Alyssa notes “follow your heart. If you believe in yourself, don’t let anything or anyone – including yourself – stand in your way. There is no formula to be successful in this industry.”

In the future, Alyssa hopes to transition from a radio personality to a tv personality. Her current focus is on expanding her presence and making an impact in the social media community.

For those looking to connect with Alyssa, you can find her on social media at @itsme_AlyssaD

Mercedes Johnson Goes Viral for Ripping the Band-aid off of Salary Negotiation

What seemed like a simple learning ‘lesson’ on Facebook would turn into a worldwide uproar on social media for Mercedes Johnson. A simple post she made on her lunch break would change her entire life in only two hours. The post that originated on Facebook found its way onto Twitter, Reddit, and several social platforms—which opened up an explicit discussion on salary negotiation and the public’s sentiments about recruiters. 

Mercedes Johnson, who describes herself as a family-oriented, fun-loving faithfluencer, was offered a position in recruiting fresh out of high school and was able to work her way up fast through the ranks. The freelance recruiter would go on to work for some of the most prestigious corporations offering her expertise as a liaison within the hiring process.

The talent acquisition consultant that once lived a quiet life would soon garner the attention of the world with her controversial insight into salary negotiation. Her post (pictured left) would go on to explain how she gave a candidate what she offered versus what the budget allowed- which left a bad taste in the mouths of many. The post would go on to receive 35k+ retweets, 215k+ likes, and 2332K+ comments after the comment made its way from platform to platform and country to country. 

The conversation opened the door for various perspectives on the topic among those who were upset that she allegedly “lowballed” the candidate, while others felt that accountability shouldn’t have been solely based on Mercedes, and she should not be attacked for her opinionated social post. There were also plenty of stories told of those who were triggered by the situation. This backlash would cause the freelancer to be a social media outcast and lose various corporate contracts.

Mercedes Johnson, Corporate Talent Acquisition Consultant

Within a short period of time, she issued a statement in an attempt to provide clarification, but many still were not pleased. In the post, she states, “The purpose of that post was to empower others to not end up like this particular candidate. I want people to know their worth.” Since then, Mercedes has offered an exclusive interview via her YouTube Channel addressing the controversy. Her goal was to “shed light on the intent of the post, clean up inaccuracies, and  ultimately to clear the air.

The video has helped turn some of the chatter in a different direction, but there are individuals that are still not pleased that continue to brutalize Mercedes through commentary about her size, perceived lack of experience, and other irrelevant subjects. It is on record that one unhappy follower posted her home address, prompting hundreds of letters arriving at her door. 

For Mercedes, there is hope that everyone can learn and grow from the situation and that candidates have more insight into the hiring process so that they can advocate for themselves. She insists that she has taken all of the commentaries into account and is processing the experience as a learning experience through the rest of her twenties. 

View the full interview here: Mercedes Johnson Formally Addressing The viral Social Media Post!

Hot Coffee Brings New Taste to Coffee and Cryptocurrency Markets

Hot Coffee is the newest coffee brand bringing a new flavor with cryptocurrency. Atlanta’s very own community pillar, Katerina Taylor joined forces with serial entrepreneur and former corporate executive Brad Hill to develop the first “Coffee and Crypto” brand of its kind.

Headquartered in Grove Park, the double minority-owned retailer is dedicated to enhancing the daily coffee experience with their premium gourmet roasts. With a wide range of flavor options catering to every coffee lover, Hot Coffee is establishing itself as Atlanta’s home team choice for coffee.

Business is not new to the Hot Coffee duo as they both have many years in prestigious leadership roles. Over the last 20 years, Katerina gained experience in executive leadership and has a proven track record in the workforce and economic development sector. She previously served as VP with SunTrust Bank, now Truist; and is the former president of the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, in which she was the first female to hold that position. Complementary to Katerina’s leadership, Brad brings experience as both a compliance director and director of operations where he oversaw the Information Security Program for Federal contracts. With their commonality in leadership, travel, and coffee, they created their steaming imprint, Hot Coffee.

Founders Katerina Taylor and Brad Hill

Hot Coffee specializes in premium gourmet coffee from select growing regions of Africa and Central and South America. The simple yet innovative moniker, Hot Coffee, is a testament to the company’s mission of “gourmet simplified,” and is the way many describe the fuel that kick starts their day. Their seven times micro-roasted whole beans allow Hot Coffee to preserve the integrity and quality of every bean, creating the perfect brew, every time. The current line includes whole and ground beans in Decaf, Light, Medium, and Dark roasts.

Katerina and Brad’s business idea was fitting for the times—because as the global health crisis cases rose, so did the consumption of coffee. Katerina states, “I read that 166 million bags of coffee were sold during 2020 and 2021.” While coffee was definitely being roasted, sold, and consumed, emerging at the height of a global pandemic did pose challenges. The pair were unable to physically connect with coffee suppliers; however, the determined business partners were able to virtually conduct thorough research on coffee consumption habits, the morning beverage market, cryptocurrency phenomenon, and identifying suitable roasters.

With the future of purchasing power shifting, Hot Coffee decided to position itself ahead of the curve by incorporating a cryptocurrency component into its purchasing experience. By allowing customers to purchase Hot Coffee through the Coinbase e-commerce platform, they are taking the customer’s first approach and eliminating the proverbial middleman merchant. This initiative also makes Hot Coffee the first African American coffee brand to use cryptocurrency as its primary method of payment. While they are not experts, they understand being curious and staying updated on current trends will allow them to stay atop current financial trends and provide the best customer experience.

The Hot Coffee executives keep the pulse on consumer preferences as Brad states, “having others enjoy our product is rewarding because “their validation of the product quality aligns with our commitment to using the highest quality ingredients.”

Being a business with two owners, their different leadership styles create the perfect blend for their day-to-day operations.

With an official launch set for February 2022 in honor of Black History Month, coffee lovers can expect to get their hands on the anticipated brews. The Atlanta-based retailer is proud of its roots and wants to be synonymous with the city. They also hope to partner with some of Atlanta’s most respected brands including American Express, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport, cool local artists as well as retailers like Target, Savvy Provisions, Whole Foods, Microsoft, and more! With so many exciting things brewing, patrons have a lot to look forward to with Hot Coffee.

To keep up with Hot Coffee, follow @lovehotcoffee on social media. To connect with Hot Coffee for vendor opportunities and to learn more by visiting their website at and emailing them at

First Class Learning Academy: Advancing the Community One Learner at a Time

Using her God-given talent, American educator Jessica Jones has been helping students excel in math since she was a teenager. Now, with over 5 years of experience, Jessica has helped aspiring learners go to war against one of the world’s most feared academic subjects,  mathematics. 

Since its inception in 2017, First Class Learning Academy has helped students with weaknesses in all core subjects.  2021’s data analysis shows Jessica’s students have shown drastic improvements academically–with some students catapulting whole letter grades in their desired subjects.  

Jones is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and has always been passionate about education. She states, “I have been passionate about education for as long as I can remember.” The importance of education was instilled in Jessica by her loving parents. In her own academic journey, Jessica always excelled in mathematics. She was even offered the opportunity to advance grade levels twice during her formative school years.

She honed in on her passion by obtaining her degree in Business Administration, concentrating in management. Jessica’s postgraduate education includes a Master’s degree in Education specializing in Mathematics and Art and Teaching, specializing in Instructional Design and Technology. She is also certified in Youth Mentorship and Life Coaching for those ages 12-30.

Headquartered in California, First Class Learning Academy (FCLA) is a virtual Mathematics academy catering to students who need help in foundation-level mathematics concepts. Promoting a one-on-one environment, Jessica developed a curriculum focused on improving her students’ weaknesses and raising their current grades by one whole grade level. She also provides group learning sessions and creative learning plans. She has been acknowledged for her endeavors, receiving the Outstanding African-American Educators Award in 2019 and the Teachers Excellence Award in 2015.

The imprint was born from a vision while tutoring her peers in high school. Despite having a strong desire to open her academy, Jessica decided to teach in the traditional school system, which would later foreshadow Jessica’s future.

While in the school system, Jessica tried to birth her vision of a learning academy through the school. Unfortunately, the project did not go far as she says,trying to perform your vision under someone else’s organization is a challenge. They didn’t see the vision, so it became short-lived.” This sparked her entrepreneurial spirit stating, if I can get past the frustrations of the ‘no’ then I could do it for myself, but at least the vision is still there. After attending a vision board party in 2016, Jessica officially decided to stop fighting her calling and begin plans to launch First Class Learning Academy.

Jessica believes FCLA stands out from its competition because of the interpersonal skills built into the program. As both a virtual learner and educator, Jessica is well versed in online learning and can give insight into the ins and outs. Being a traditional educator and a virtual educator Jessica says the only difference is tactics; however, her expectations of her students are the same. Jessica finds virtual learning beneficial because she has one-on-one time with her students, eliminating any embarrassment they may feel and allowing flexibility as students can access their lessons anywhere.

With education being an ever-changing sector, Jessica tries to keep up with changes by participating in interviews. This allows her to see what questions are asked and what educational professionals are looking for. Jessica’s inspiration stems from wanting to change the community one learner at a time; and help others break past their stigmas. Jessica would tell other entrepreneurs and educators to “stick with it. It’s not easy, but it is worth the one person willing to connect with you.”

In the future, Jessica plans to create education consultation contracts for organizations and provide group tutoring for those organizations. She hopes to expand her staff at FCLA and expand her offerings. Client’s can expect new divisions such as the health and wellness division, which focuses on the mind, body, and soul, and a travel division. FCLA is also planning a summer boot camp and award ceremony to highlight their clients. With all of these fun projects in the works, Jessica’s clients will be sure to receive a first-class experience.

To keep up with First Class Academy, follow their social media @1stClass_Services and message Jessica on Linkedin HERE.

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