Local Entrepreneur Expands Her Brand

Baltimore resident Gia Winfield has taken entrepreneurship by the horns— or, in her case, by the nails— and she is thriving.

The owner of “The Purple Peach Nail Bar,” which she believes is a first of its kind in Baltimore— 100 percent black-owned full-service nail salon. Winfield says her journey to become an entrepreneur began at the tender age of 14.

“I took a liking to the nail industry at a young age because beauty always seemed to surround my family,” said Winfield, a native of Queens, New York. “I started doing manicures on my girlfriends and eventually it became my profession,” she said.

From age 14 to 18, Winfield worked at a trendy New York nail salon. When that salon closed, it motivated her to start her own business.

“I had such a big following at the time, so I launched my own salon,” she said.

Admittedly, Winfield was a bit apprehensive, but she maintained a passion for the business and decided to dive in headfirst.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into by starting my own business, so there was a lot of trial and error, but I got past that,” Winfield said.

Recently, she says seeing pop star Beyoncé perform at the famed Coachella Music Festival further energized her. The performance last month drew favorable comparisons from critics to the late Michael Jackson.

Winfield says the “Formation” singer’s history making show proved that nothing “can stand in the way of a woman and her hustle to the top.” She further says that Beyoncé’s show also provided more evidence that women who are driven by their craft can reach untold heights.

Quite simply, the show was a signal for her to go full steam ahead with her new innovation. Her new “Purple Peach Energy Drink,” is the next-level energy supplement, and is the first high-performance energy drink owned and operated by an African-American woman, according to Winfield.

“I’m always on the go and with me drinking coffee all of the time, I wanted to invest in my own drink,” she said.

For Winfield, it’s all a part of being a self-made entrepreneur, a position that comes with its share of pitfalls, she said.

“My biggest fear was failing because here I was leaping out into a whole different world where all of the responsibility would now be on me,” Winfield said. “There was that fear because everyone was now looking at me. I was the go-to person and I had to wear many different hats.”

Winfield says she eventually came to realize that she couldn’t be everything to everyone. It was a lesson she had to learn and advises others to grasp.

“It eventually made me stronger. and I was able to build a strong foundation,” Winfield said.

“You can’t take everybody with you and everybody isn’t worthy of your surroundings. I learned that lesson. There are certain people you must deal with and certain ones that you must leave alone.

“My circle has become very small now, as an entrepreneur because I had to understand that you can’t trust everybody— everybody isn’t trustworthy. In building a brand, not everyone is going to applaud you.”

With that, Winfield says her primary advice to young women who aspire to start their own business, is to stay focused and be sure to surround yourself with like-minded individuals.

“The biggest thing is to keep your credit clean so that you are able to get loans for your business if you need it,” she said. “Sit down with a CPA and learn the things you need to do and not to do.”

For more information about The Purple Peach Enery Drink, locations where it is availabale, or to purchase the drink, visit: www.purplepeachenergydrink.com.

Black Fashion Icons of the past 100 years

The past 100 years for people of color have been moving at the speed of light. I have identified a few of my favorite Black Fashion Icons of the past 100 years.

There is no way that I could conceptually include every single Black Fashion Icon and trend setter of the past century, but I have compiled several Diva’s of Black Fashion and I hope that you enjoy them!


First Lady, Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States of America | Known for her beautiful, upscale and always poised appearance. First Lady Michelle Obama is a Black Fashion Icon known for wearing relatable fashion as well as high end designers such as: Tracy Reese, Marchesa and Narciso Rodriguez. You can always count on seeing the FLOTUS in pearls and showing off her physical fitness. Her signature Bang in 2013 set a trend that even Kim Kardashian followed. This First Lady has covered Vogue Magazine two times!


Grace Jones

Grace Jones, Singer, Actress, Model | Grace Jones has been a striking part of entertainment and fashion since her emergence on the scene in the 1970’s. Her amazing body and non-traditional beauty landed her on some of the most prestigious runways of the world including walking for designers such as Yves St. Laurent, Claude Montana, and Kenzo Takada, and appearing on the covers of Elle, Vogue, and Stern working with Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and Hans Feurer. Her music has inspired artists such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga. Fashion Icon’s cannot be mentioned unless she is in the line up and she is the Ultimate Black Fashion Icon.

Photo Courtesy of The Place


Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty

Rihanna, Entertainer Extraordinaire | Robin Rihanna Fenty does everything. She has been most famous for her singing performances, and risque behavior. Rihanna is also an actress and a muse for fashion houses. She impacts how women dress, behave and even style their hair. Rihanna’s raw sense of fashion and the way that she shares her personal life with the world makes her a leader in Fashion as well as Lifestyle. More on Rihanna…


Diana Ross

Diana Ross, Singer and Actress | Diana Ross, The Boss and the Original Dreamgirl, ahem Supreme, has been a Black Fashion Icon ever since she broke out as the lead singer of the Supremes. Long, lean and cinnamon colored-Ms. Ross has always been elegant and has inspired Fashion and Hair for all women. She defined demure and sexy.


Dihann Carroll

Diahann Carroll, Actress, Singer and Entertainer Extraordinaire | Dihann Carroll is positively beautiful and totally classy. Most of us remember her FIRST as the Elegant, Fur Wearing Dominique Devereaux on Dynasty! But she has been stunning audiences for over six decades never a hair out of place or a inappropriate fashion faux pas. She broke racial barriers as the first Black Woman to have her own television series, “Julia” in 1963.


Lena Horne

Lena Horne, Actress, Singer, Dancer, Civil Rights Activist & Philanthropist | Lena Horne has always been noted as one of the most outspoken women in the Civil Rights movement in the early 1900’s. Her beauty, class and charm were world-renowned and her fashion sense: Iconic. However, during the Red Scare her left wing views landed her on the Blacklist and she was unable to get work in Hollywood. This Black Fashion Icon has performed hundreds of times on Broadway and recorded music and performed until she began to live a more private life in 2000. She passed away in 2010 leaving behind a legacy of Class and Fabulousness for women and especially women of color to follow and emulate.


Eartha Kitt

Eartha Mae Kitt was an American singer, actress, dancer and cabaret star. | Miss Kitt was perhaps best known for her highly distinctive voice, singing style and the enduring Christmas novelty smash “Santa Baby.” Orson Welles once called her the “most exciting woman in the world.” Miss Eartha Kitt took over the role of Catwoman for the third and final season of the 1960s Batman television series. She was the Rihanna of the 50’s, Sassy, Classy and Unusual.


Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington actress and philanthropist | Known for being rediculously pretty and well dressed at all times. Her girl-next door looks as rocked Hollywood and she has recently been the actress that will not quit. Kerry Washington in the role of Olivia Pope in Scandal has sold wine glasses, $4000 coats and white gentlemen as sexy to Sistas! She is currently one of the most powerful women in Hollywood wielding those lips that Black Women are known for. Kerry Washington is positively a Black Fashion Icon.

Billie Holiday


Tina Turner


Josephine Baker




Janelle Monáe


Donna Summer


Pam Grier


Dorothy Dandridge


Nina Simone


Of course honorable mentions go to Beyonce, Jayne Kennedy, Leyontine Price, Phyllis Hyman, Naomi Campbell!

I know I missed a lot of Black Fashion Icons! Please tell me who your favorites are.

Classily Yours,

Sharelle D. Lowery

Follow me on Twitter for Black & Fabulous Lifestyles

African Influence in Fashion

Fashion is a 400 billion dollar industry in the US. Well-dressed celebrities like June Ambrose, Solange Knowles, and Tracee Ellis-Ross help to fuel the fashion obsession that helps to keep the sell of clothing and accessories on the rise. To many, European influence is what seems to be the cornerstone of the fashion industry. Because of this notion many people fail to see the African influence on many of the fashion trends we love and wear every day. Let’s be honest, anytime the word “African” is mentioned in a conversation about fashion, thoughts generally go to clothing or accessories made with “tribal” or “ethnic” fabric. Contrary to popular belief, African influence goes far beyond kente cloth and shells. While tribal-themed apparel is all the rage, that is not Africa’s only influence on fashion. Beyond the fabric, the African influence brings us vibrant, well-constructed designs that keep fashion lovers wanting more.


Briana McCarthy

Korto Momolu designs

Today, designers from across the globe have made their marks in fashion, bringing with them the beauty of African culture. Let’s take a look at some designers that are helping to bring African culture and style to the forefront of the fashion industry.

Korto Momolu

Korto is a Liberian-born designer whose talent landed her a spot on season five of ‘Project Runway’. Her designs are clean yet bold. The African influence in her designs shine through her garments in her vibrant color choices, rich fabrics, and the movement of each garment.

As if designing fabulous garments wasn’t enough, Korto has also branched off into designing eco-friendly fine jewelry and launched her own line “Green Love” at New York fashion week in 2011.


Briana McCarthy

Samilia Colar

Samilia Colar

Samila is a Nigerian designer based in Memphis, Tennesee. She intertwines her rich Nigerian culture into her famous handbags and accessories. Known for her use of color and handcrafted designs, Colar has set out on a mission to provide pieces that are attractively unique, smart, and beautiful—and from the looks of it, she’s done just that.


Briana McCarthy

Fenix Couture by Josephyn Akioyamen

Josephyn Akioyamen

Josephyn Akioyamen is a Nigerian-Canadian designer that certainly hasn’t forgotten her roots. Through her line Fenix Couture she embeds African influence into her designs using both color and texture. Her garments are described as “ easy to wear, versatile, feminine, luxurious and subtly sexy.” Akioyamen’s ready-to-wear line was born in 2009 and has been making waves in the fashion world ever since.

As you can see, African influence in fashion is alive and well. And it will continue to thrive through designers like these and a host of others that are making their mark on the industry.