Cocktails & Creatives: Sip, Shop and Enjoy Live Music at Impact Hub Baltimore.

Increasingly women are coming together in support of one another and various causes— from rallies on the streets to social media. Why should the creative community be any different?

Two Maryland-based organizations, Speakable Joi, which helps solopreneurs balance life and hustle through community and courses; and Women Creatives Chat, a community and resource for women of diverse artistic disciplines have partnered to present Cocktails & Creatives: A Sip & Shop Event at Impact Hub Baltimore located at 10 E. North Avenue in the Station North Arts District on Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Mikey’s Miracle Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides support services to cancer patients and their families.

Event attendees can enjoy complementary cocktails, sponsored by Gifted by Grace Financial Service; and appetizers, all while shopping handcrafted jewelry; African-inspired apparel and accessories; products for the hair, skin and body; and visual artwork. There is also music from Queen of the Turntables, a performance by Baltimore-based hip-hop artist Nefertiitii, and an opportunity to win prizes from sponsors.

Book lovers may connect with writers at the Authors’ Corner featuring works ranging from fiction to self help, memoir and children’s literature; presenting writers include: Valerie Keys, D. Antoinette, Rochelle Soetan and Mia Loving. This diverse mix of women creatives runs the gamut in age, artistic discipline and experience.

Sillie Mugo, a young Kenyan artist, who is selling her colorful abstract art pieces said, “Growing up in Kenya allowed me endless color inspiration from the colorful tribal fabrics to the lush Botanical Gardens. My vibrant abstracts are my way of telling my stories on canvas. I hope that everyone who experiences my art is instantly uplifted.”

Mugo is new to Maryland and feels the opportunity to build relationships with other creative entrepreneurs and like-minded, women is exciting.

Ché Vaughn, another vendor who creates handcrafted bath and body products through her business, Ché Naturelles, echos Mugo’s feeling about the benefits of networking with creative entrepreneurs: “Being in community with other women strengthens my business by providing me with a positive network of mothers and entrepreneurs working hard to build their businesses and brands, just as I am. We truly respect and value each others creativity and successes, which ultimately inspires me to go harder in my own business pursuits.”

Nearly everything about the process of creating her products inspires Vaughn, including details such as “measuring, handling and mixing all natural butters, oils and aromatic essential oils… It just feels right, like I’m truly in my element doing what God intended me to do. It’s healing for my soul to make natural self care products. It feels good to do what I love [and] give someone else a piece of my creativity.”

Like Vaughn, Sam Smith, owner of New Vintage by Sam, who creates and sells handcrafted jewelry, is inspired by a wide array of elements and creates using various mediums including design, modeling, styling and directing. Smith says, “fashion and art have always been a means of expression so choosing one over the other is never an option.” And collaborating with other women is also a source of both strength and inspiration for Smith, who adds: “Surrounding myself with other females has propelled my creativity and business acumen. The way women work independently and together is phenomenal. I couldn’t imagine feeling nearly as inspired without a pack of courageous women leading the way, standing beside me, and holding me down.”

Perhaps this collective passion to create and cultivate community is partially behind the growing number of women entrepreneurs. Overall, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 74 percent between 1997 and 2015— a rate that’s 1.5 times then the national average, according to the recently published “2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” commissioned by American Express and detailed in Fortune Magazine.

Event organizers want to foster community for creative women in business, as they feel this group, particularly women of color, are often overlooked in terms of resources and affirming spaces. “It only made sense to combine our [Women Creatives Chat and Speakable Joi] resources and passions to create this project. Together, I know we can foster an environment where creative women feel celebrated and supported by us and the community at large,” said Joi Turner, founder of Speakable Joi.

The event is free, but registration is required. You will find unique gifts for your Mom, too! To register, visit:

Jewelry by New Vintage by Sam will also be available for sale. These are just two of many unique items that will be offered for sale at the event.

Jewelry by New Vintage by Sam will also be available for sale. These are just two of many unique items that will be offered for sale at the event.

Chè Vaughn, Owner of Chè Naturelles

Chè Vaughn, Owner of Chè Naturelles

House of Mandela Wines celebrates family and legacy

It’s dreary outside, but Tukwini Mandela, granddaughter of late legendary South African leader Nelson Mandela, is full of light and enthusiasm. Her visit to Baltimore is the last stop on a three-week U.S. promotional tour for House of Mandela, the wine company she runs along with her mother, Dr. Makaziwe (Maki) Mandela.

Their diverse portfolio, a mix of red and white wines, ranges from the mid-tier Thembu collection (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon) to the premium Royal Reserve (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz). Deep River, the most recent addition has two blends, Tukwini Mandela noted, “the Chenin Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.” The Vusani series, which will soon be available in America, focuses specifically on South African wines, including Pinotage and Chenin Blanc.

The Mandelas are wine negociants, who work directly with selected South-African wineries that adhere to the Mandela’s values of fair trade and a diverse workforce. Launched in 2010, the brand continues to expand globally, and is currently in 15 markets, according to Tukwini Mandela. Still, they never forget a loyal customer base. “We have always received great support from Maryland and Washington D.C. There is a wonderful African-American community of wine drinkers here.”

Less than two percent of winemakers in South Africa are black. “Yes, and even fewer are black women. I actually know all of them,” she laughed heartily. Her response to the statistic is indicative of the family’s resilience and determination despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Their royal bloodline dates back to the 1800s, and includes the esteemed Chief Mphakanyiswa, Chief of Mvezo and father of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. At one point, Thembu land (pronounced “tembu”) was connected to a Kingdom in the country’s Eastern Cape. Despite these earlier illustrious circumstances, their collective history is marked by challenges.

Tukwini Mandela pointed out the parallel between this background and the wine process. “We always thought the vine grew in a straight line, it does not. It sort of weaves and bobs, provided the viticulturist takes good care of it. Our family story is very similar to that. We did not necessarily have an easy road. My grandfather did not have an easy life. But our family produced this great son of Africa.”

These unique experiences are inextricably reflected in the brand, beginning with its packaging. The bee on the Royal Reserve wine label alludes to Tukwini’s grandfather’s first name Rolihlahla which translated means “one who is brave enough to fetch the honey from the honeycomb,” she revealed in an earlier interview. There are numerous branches on the bee’s wings, and these symbolize the large Mandela family.

The ornate decoration on the Thembu collection bottles reference Nelson Mandela’s favorite attire, the colorful Madibe shirts. Eschewing suits, Mandela often dressed in a manner that he felt communicated accessibility to the people. The wine, too, invokes this casual and down-to-earth tone.

It’s also partly the deep connection to people which drew Mandela and her mother to the business. “We fell in love with the workers who produce the wine,” she said. “Fair trade is there to make sure that the farm workers have adequate and acceptable living condition, and that they are paid fairly for their work.” Nearly 350,000 South Africans are employed by this industry, which constitutes three percent of the country’s GDP. Tukwini Mandela remains hopeful that in her lifetime more blacks, particularly younger people, will enter the industry and participate in a variety of roles. While, at the moment, there is no formal organization for black wine industry professionals, “the Department of Trade and Industry really goes out of their way to support black-owned businesses through funding,” she said.

Mandela sees the diversity of South African culture, and the warm disposition of its people as worthy of uplift; there is a different side of her country, she insists. “We want to present the best of South Africa.” Working with fair trade wineries is not the only way this family business gives back. They are involved with two charities in South Africa, My Life and St. Mary’s Foundation. Both organizations focus on helping young people succeed and overcome the sting of poverty. In addition to those efforts, they work with Spring of Hope, a nonprofit whose mission is “partnering with rural South African schools to bring them clean water sources and economic development opportunities.”

Ultimately, the House of Mandela, would like their wines to inspire meaningful connections for their customers. “We hope they will talk about their own family stories. Their own lineage. Everyone has a great ancestor that has sort of changed the trajectory of their family.”

Staying Connected:

Discover where to purchase the House of Mandela wines by visiting