On The Rise: Lilas Mia

When Lilas started her blog Hello I’m Mia fresh out of college she had one goal;  to enlighten her readers with the wisdom she’s received along the way and share her experiences through writing and photography. Three years later, keeping this aim in mind, she’s been able to build a successful brand centered on authenticity and transparency. Let’s find out more about Lilas!
Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
My name is Lilas, and I run the blog, Hello, I’m Mia.” After several years using various platforms and changing my blog name, I finally chose Mia because it was my nickname used only amongst family members and I wanted to treat my readers as close friends.
mark3767Where were you 6 months after college?
I graduated with an Environmental Studies degree and fortunately found a job with an amazing environmental non-profit organization that aimed to beautify our neighborhoods and teaches students as well as New Yorkers about our city. I did a lot of outdoor work because of my studies which only increased my appreciation for nature.
How did you first get into blogging?
My blog started as a public online diary about anything you can imagine: heartbreaks, friendships, rants, adulthood, school, careers. I still try and treat it as so to this day. I’ve loved writing although I never imagined to still be doing it nearly a decade later.
What do you want your audience to get out of your blog?
I want to keep sharing knowledge and ease people’s minds and hearts through my personal experiences. I’m all about reliability and I want my posts to be open conversations between my readers and I.
You have a way with words, always inspiring others to be their best. How do you stay positive or keep your peace? 
Thank you ! My faith has taught and brought me a long way in terms of keeping my peace. Negativity will never be fruitful and can become the biggest impediment to your potential if you allow it (I’ve tried sulking and being a Debby-downer, which are equally exhausting). Staying positive is an acquired discipline, and I’ve learned that in life what you focus on magnifies.
Your skin and hair are always on fleek! Can you share with us your secrets?
Less is more and water is your friend. Your skin, like your hair, needs to breathe ever so often. Become comfortable in your skin, those who matter won’t care for your minor blemishes, and those who do care do not matter.
 
You’re also a photographer, how does it help your blog?
My hobby in photography has been a blessing to me. In addition to connecting me to other artists, I have been able to incorporate visuals and do more creative projects when drafting content because of this passion.
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We all stumble at some point of our lives, was there ever a time where you wanted to give up? What did you learn from it?
Stumbling is a constant visitor in our lives and we have to stay ready. When I decided to get serious with my blog, I was going through the post-grad blues of living away from my best friends (my roommates), being thrown in a whole new environment and “adulting.” Blogging was the safe, familiar zone. My biggest advice for when you feel like you’re in a low phase of your life is to recall the places, people and things that brought you happiness and gave you inspiration. Mine are my siblings and nephews, earl grey tea, finding new music and traveling to a new place. You have to remember to take care of your soul if you don’t feel right within !
 

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On The Rise: Jerijah West

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Jerijah West attended Syracuse University  with hopes of becoming a lawyer. However, along his college journey he was reminded of his true purpose; dancing. Let’s find out more about his path to dancing.

Tell me about yourself.

I was born and raised in Englewood, dancing has always been a form of expressions for me. When they performed the ultra sound, they told my mother, that I will lead the children of God through dance because I was moving so much. Dancing was not something that I chose but it chose me from the womb. It was a higher power that had control of my talents.

How did you get into the dancing industry?

While my mom was a student at William Paterson University, her professor gave her tickets to Batoto Yetu  performance and that’s where I had my had my aha moment. At home my mom was always teaching us about African-American history, so to see people my age dancing and embracing their culture was truly an eye opener for me.

Did you have a back up plan, if dancing didn’t work out?

No I didn’t have a back up plan, considering that my purpose was God’s choice for me, it was always a matter of how I was going to achieve it. If that’s what my purpose is, I can’t have a back up plan.

You’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world and also perform for some very well-known artists, how do you remain humble?

Honestly, traveling is a blessings, you would be surprised how many kids our age don’t have a passport and it’s not because they are closed-minded but because of the lack of financial resources. Every time I travel I find a piece of myself, the cultural exchange can never be taken for granted.

new-headshotIs there an artist or dance you want to work with that you have not yet had the opportunity?

I was blessed to perform for MJ for 30th anniversary and if the opportunity comes by I would love to work with Janet Jackson. However there’s a few people who I know that I will benefit from their experience Fatima Robinson, Tanisha Scott and of course Beyonce; she puts the P in Perfection.

What can you tell someone trying to break into this industry?

Be consistent, have faith and don’t compromise your integrity. Be a sponge and identify people you want to be a mentee or mentor.

If you can write a letter to your younger self what would you tell him about pursuing his dreams?

Understand how important resilience will be in your journey. Stay committed and be YOU! Trust the process, be humble an d always give Thanks.

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How Stepping out on Faith Landed Amira Onibudo Her Dream Job.

img_1104Timing is everything. You’ve likely heard this said many times before, but a clear explanation of why is rarely forthcoming.  To start off the series of On the Rise for 2017, I reached out to an amazing young lady whose patience,  hard work and determination landed her to the career she always wanted. Amira Onibudo, the founder of  Unleash Yourself, left a well-known entertainment company to focus on the skills she needed to be successful. Two years later after making that decision, she returned to that same company  with not only the tools but a proactive mindset. Let’s find out more about Amira’s journey.

  • Tell me about yourself (interest, career, education)

My name is Amira Onibudo, I currently work in the Integrated Marketing dept on the VH1/LOGO team. I started off 2017  in  a new career that I had been praying for, for almost 2 years. It is truly bittersweet. I was fortunate to land a job directly after college at VH1. I worked in all aspects of production and truly loved diving into the fun world of content creation. However, the more I created content the more I wanted to know the bigger picture. The why? Why are we creating this content, how do we know who our audience is? In what different ways are we reaching them? Why do we need a certain amount of views every month? My curiosity got me intrigued with the world of marketing.                         

I took a huge leap of faith and left a prominent network to  do paid search & paid social marketing at  the advertising agency, Mediacom for the client Revlon. Everyone was confused as to why I left such a notable company to work in a field that no one even heard of, but I knew God had a bigger plan for me, and I trusted it.

The job wasn’t shiny and gold but it held a lot of value in my long term success. I learned about data analysis, budget management & allocation, marketing metrics, financial management, client management, how to create a strategical presentation deck, and I finally learned the “why” in content creation.

I am so passionate about bridging the gap between content creation and content distribution. It is imperative for college students to be adept in both worlds. Especially with the rise of new media, digital, and social media. Students need to learn the “why” before entering the work world. It will provide more innovative strategies to propel brands towards success.

While working in marketing I still had a thirst for knowledge and started spontaneously applying to graduate school programs. I got into Seton Hall University almost instantly. In my program I learned more about PR, brand management, strategic communications, employee relations, integrated marketing, and so much more. My graduate school program confirmed for me that I made the right decision in leaving VH1 and wanting more out of my career.

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Where were you 6 months after graduation? 

6 months after graduating from undergrad I was working at VH1 in all aspects of production. I loved my job and what I was doing but I knew I wanted more for myself. 6 months after graduating with my master’s degree I had done a complete 360 in my career. I went from producing content to creating strategies for it.

What prompted you to start your blog?

Unleash Yourself was created solely because of fear. I always knew I wanted to create an advice blog but I couldn’t figure out what type of advice I wanted to give. I also didn’t want to come off like I was telling people what to do with their life. I didn’t want it to be like “who am I to give you advice?” like what have you been through that you feel like you can coach me?
So while in my graduate school program I had to take a presentation class that literally made me soooo nervous. I absolutely hate doing presentations and here I am enrolled in a mandatory class that required me to give a presentation literally every week. I hated it. The irony is that everyone in the class hated it too. We learned that the most feared thing in the world is public speaking. I started to wonder why and realized that people are only afraid to speak in public because while they are speaking they aren’t looking at the audience they are looking at a mirror image of themselves..insecurity. What was holding all of us back from being superstar presenters? FEAR. It was like a light clicked in my head and I said wow we really need to unleash this boss inside of us and conquer these presentations. Also in that class we were assigned to read a book called Notes To Myself, My Journey of Becoming a Person. Guys! That book literally blew my mind. He stated things like where is the fear in knowing that you are already the person you are supposed to become, it’s already inside of you. He stated, where is the anxiety in knowing that what is supposed to happen will happen. Only fear will subside it. I literally had an epiphany and said, this.. is… my… brand. I loved the idea of helping young professionals conquer their fears and reach their goals. Unleashing yourself is a holistic approach. If you are in a toxic relationship, or not treating your body with care you will not live up to your full potential to be the boss you are destined to be. So that is why on my blog I cover everything from relationship advice, health/wellness guidance, and personal/professional development.

I believe it is through a hard time that we find out what we are capable of. Has there been a difficult time in your life where you feel you were being tested? How did you get through it?

Sigh, where do I even begin. The terms “be still” and “be patient” were words that actively played a role in my current success. Throughout 2016 specifically I went through a whirlwind of emotions battling with what I wanted to do and what God wanted me to do. I applied to over 200 jobs, interviewed with over 50, denied about 10 positions, and got rejected from my dream job. I felt completely hopeless. I could have easily fell into depression and could have given up but that would have been too easy. So I did the opposite and found peace and contentment through doing praise and worship in my room. I knew my door would open soon so I praised God in the hallway until it opened. I didn’t know what to do in order to let God know I was ready to receive the blessing he had for me so I prayed and fasted and then I got signs that said “be still, for I am God.” So to me that meant do nothing. Like stop applying to jobs, stop interviewing at random jobs, and trust God. I remember telling my boyfriend, God is telling me to be still and stop applying to random jobs and he just looked at me like uhhhh…LOL it was just unbelievable that, that was my sign…to do nothing. Can you imagine how hard it is to do nothing when you have a car payment, school loans, and bills knocking down your door? It’s literally horrific. I had to put my pride, and “know it all” personality aside and follow God’s guidance. Literally a week later of “doing nothing” I was offered two amazing positions that I didn’t even apply for. I overcame such a hard spiritual battle and throughout the ups and downs I grew to really know God, and the magnitude of what he can do.

What does my Freshman Year of Life mean to you?

My Freshman Year of Life to me means transitioning out of college and into the workforce. You are brand new to life and experiencing new challenges, opportunities, setbacks, and breakthroughs.

How do you manage your 9 to 5 and your purpose driven blog?

When I first started my blog I was definitely posting my heart away. I had a robust content calendar, scheduled blog and social media posts, and partnerships lined up. I would even write about 4-5 blog posts a week, which is a lot! Even though the posts I was writing was coming straight from my heart, it still felt like I was over delivering. I was in the crunch of my masters program, working 10 hour shifts, and now running a blog. It was a lot! I found balance through prayer. I realized that I didn’t need to produce content everyday, and even though my audience was loving what I was producing I still had leeway to break up the content. I started being led by my heart and not my mind. If I didn’t “feel” like writing a blog post, I wouldn’t write one. I didn’t want my blog to start feeling like homework. Everything about my brand to me is authentic and true to who I am. I didn’t want my stress to come through in my writing. So I took a one month mental break and starting planning my first event. It was then that I realized that coming face to face with your audience is way more valuable than sitting behind a computer screen. The mentees I gained has played such a crucial role in the growth of my blog. Managing your 9-5 and side hustle starts with finding balance in what actually matters. Once you align yourself with your heart everything will fall into place on its own.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I absolutely hate public speaking and I am soooooo shy! However the more I make myself uncomfortable by hosting events, the more I overcome that fear.

What are five things you’ve told yourself that kept you going during your darkest hour?

  1. Trust God
  2. Be patient
  3. It could always be worse
  4. Find happiness within your failures.It didn’t happen for a reason. Trust it.
  5. God is in control

What is your favorite quote you live by?

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” -Maya Angelou This quote hits home for me because so many people envy my career success but have no clue what I’ve been through to get there. They have no clue how many sleepless nights I’ve had, how many times I’ve cried myself to sleep, and how many times I’ve been told no. Most people just see my outcome and my success which is great, I love motivating others, but my journey has shaped me into who I am becoming. I owe all my accomplishments to God.

If you were to write a letter to your younger self about pursuing your dream what would you tell her?

I always tell the story about how I was in a play in the 1st grade called “When I Grow Up.” My line was Move over Barbara Walters because I’m going to be the next broadcast journalist! Can you imagine a 6 year old girl saying that on a stage in front of a room full of people? Like I legit snapped my finger in the air and walked off the stage like I was Beyonce! Whenever I feel like giving up I remember that little girl on that stage who was so confident and resilient. She wasn’t afraid of anything. I would tell her yes, you will become a broadcast journalist and someday you will have an entire brand centered around your confidence. Never hold your head down, keep that passion in your heart, and before anything, be fearless.

What’s next for your blog?

I am in the process of making my blog/brand an LLC so I can provide professional development and resume consultations to young professionals. I have been providing free consultations for almost 3 years now and it has been extremely beneficial to my clients. I finally decided to make it available to everyone and it has been going very well. I truly live to see others win and that is what my blog and business is all about. If you are having trouble finding your niche, or getting your dream job, I provide coaching that will help you put all the pieces together for long term success. You can sign up for a free 30 minute consultation at unleashyourself.org/services

I am also in the process of organizing more events this year. In 2016 I had 3 successful events so I am excited to keep the momentum going. 2017 will be a big year for my brand and I am looking forward to seeing the growth and expansion of Unleash Yourself impact the lives of everyone.