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2022 Jan. Mag

2022 Jan. Mag

WHY WE STARTED CERESE D MAGAZINE

5 year anniversary with a variety of colorful cerese d magazine covers

One of the greatest pleasures while growing our brand has been getting to know our community of customers and learning their stories. Among the people we have profiled over the past 5 years are leaders in their communities and churches, teachers, business owners and executives, entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, youth leaders, mothers, military veterans, and even a trainer of astronauts. Some of their stories are similar, and many are unique, but they are all about bold, strong, outspoken, and sometimes quiet leaders, that are blazing a trail towards change in one way or another. 

These are loyal clients that inspire us, and we are honored that they support Cerese D Jewelry. They are incredible role models for our brand.

Click here for the full e-magazine issue.

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2021 Dec. Mag

2021 Dec. Mag

Meet Dr. Katasha S. Butler: brains, beauty and belle of the ball all rolled into one! When she is not talking pharmacy strategy and compliance by day, she’s an entrepreneur that lives her life in service to others and in pursuit of the perfect party!

Dr. Katasha S. Butler smiling next to christmas decorations in a white sweater on Cerese D Magazine cover


“Hang all the mistletoe
 I’m gonna get to know you better
 This Christmas
 And as we trim the tree
 How much fun it’s gonna be together
 This Christmas”

Meet Dr. Katasha S. Butler: brains, beauty and belle of the ball all rolled into one! When she is not talking pharmacy strategy and compliance by day, she is designing lush and luxe anniversary parties, conferences and Parisian-inspired pop-up parties at night. Katasha S. Butler, PharmD, MBA is a pharmacist and an entrepreneur that lives her life in service to others and in pursuit of the perfect party!

Katasha grew up in rural Danville, Illinois—a small, homogenous, rural town in East Central Illinois. After joining the district’s gifted program in elementary school, Katasha was the only Black female within a core group of students until high school. A last-minute decision during senior year led her to Atlanta, GA, where she attended the premier Spelman College as a Chemistry/pre-pharmacy major. Although it was like entering an alternate universe for the young Katasha, Atlanta, Spelman, and the Atlanta University Center fueled her passion for Black excellence and the Black experience.  

Pharmacy school led Katasha back to the Midwest and she landed in Indianapolis to attend Butler University. Her love for wedding and party planning started there. “Often, I would sit in the back row of class in pharmacy school looking at fashion magazines. I have always loved beautiful things. Next to my class notes were InStyle and Glamour. I studied them as hard as I studied for my class. It was not long before my classmates started turning to me as they were getting engaged. I planned and catered my first wedding for a couple that I did not know as a P4 student. That is how I made extra money while I was on clinical rotations,” Butler told Cerese D

She went on to obtain two degrees at Butler, including a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, and dove fulltime into a pharmacy career. Katasha became a pharmacy leader in less than six months after passing her pharmacy boards. Currently, a pharmacy leader at a local county safety-net hospital in Indiana, Dr. Butler worked her way up the ranks with several leadership roles:  Clinical Pharmacy Director for a federally qualified health center and a managed care plan, Pharmacy Supervisor for a women’s hospital, and Section Chief/PGY1 Residency Coordinator in the federal health care system.

Dr. Katasha S. Butler standing next to blue christmas decorations wearing a white sweaterThroughout her career, Katasha has been recognized for her leadership and hard work, including selection for the highly-competitive national Health Care Leadership Development Program and graduation from the VISN 12 Leadership Development Program with the VHA system. She’s received the 2014 Director’s EEO Award, the 2014 VISN 11 Diversity Award, two Special Contribution Awards and numerous other recognitions. She is a contributing faculty member at Walden University and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Butler precepting pharmacy students in their last year of pharmacy school. She has been published in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy and has been featured in several books about pharmacy and entrepreneurship including Single. Women. Entrepreneurs., and Plan C: The Full-Time Employee and Part-Time Entrepreneur by Erin Albert and Entrepreneurs in Pharmacy: and Other Leaders by George Zorich.

IN PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT PARTY

When she is not in the pharmacy, event planning and community service are her other passions.  Dr. Butler started her event planning company, K Sherrie+Company, LLC in 2007.  She also co-owned an event venue in Danville for almost seven years—Social.  Social became the gathering spot for Danville! “I love throwing parties and events. I always try to make sure that the events are tailored to the client, innovative—bringing out elements that are not seen everywhere—and an experience,” says Butler. “Although I get annoyed when I see something that I have done before pop up somewhere else, I do realize there is nothing new under the sun and it is nice to be a trendsetter. If you want to do something after we have already done it, fine by me. I am very competitive with myself—making sure I up the ante with every new event I take on.” That is how Katasha came to bring Le Dîner en Blanc (DEB) to Indianapolis. Le Dîner en Blanc is an exclusive all white attire party started in Paris by François Pasquier in 1988 and has taken the world by storm for those that love to meet new dinner guests, dine under soft candlelight, and dance into the night at a public location in a place that is kept secret until the very last minute. Guests arrive from different locations to a landmark in that city. After attending the Diner en Blanc affairs in New Orleans, Cincinnati, and Chicago, Katasha decided that Indy needed its own event, and she could get it accomplished. That led to DEB Indy being introduced to the city with 1,300+ guests on the hallowed Pit Row of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2018. “The funny thing is—after the event, our contact at the motor speedway confessed that he thought we were crazy when I first brought the idea. He could not figure out how I would convince people to buy a $100 ticket to an event where they have to bring everything they need, they do not know where they are going or what they would do when they got there,” Butler explained. “I’m just glad he was crazy enough to run with us!”  And the rest, as they say, is history! DEB Indianapolis had its third installment this year, with over 1,700 guests at the Old Washington Street Bridge in the heart of Indianapolis.

A LEADER WHO GIVES BACK

Dr. Katasha S. Butler smiling and standing next to blue christmas decorations wearing a white sweaterExceptionally detailed events with crowd-pleasing intimacy are synonymous with Katasha’s professional and personal brands. It should come as no surprise that when former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to a sold-out crowd of 12,000+ people at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in February 2018, Katasha was connected to that event through her involvement with the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana Options Class 18. She believes in the empowerment of women and young girls and used her network of relationships to help promote ticket sales.  Katasha made sure that 39 of her closest friends were in attendance! The Women’s Fund raised more than $1 million at that event to support their mission.   

Katasha’s passion for creating events for causes dear to her heart also helps fuel her creativity. In 2015, Katasha spearheaded an Urban Scavenger Hunt in support of an international target for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. During the event, hunt teams flooded the Butler-Tarkington area in search of clues to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease, honor the caregivers and those afflicted with the disease, for which every day can feel like The Longest Day. She organized the Urban Scavenger Hunt again in 2016 to include Mass Ave and other downtown Indianapolis landmarks.

“I chose to do a scavenger hunt because we wanted to do something new and innovative – there are only so many walks you can do,” said Katasha. “We had a digital command center where the teams texted their pictures back and then received the next clue.” Prior to the hunt, AKA sisters across the nation prayed together via conference call for all affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Later, registered groups showed team spirit by dressing in costume and being ready for the challenge of the hunt. Awards were given before a closing ceremony with balloons, and in 2016, a dance party. “The balloon launch at the end was very serene for me and centering. It made me reflect on my grandmother, who was affected by this dreadful disease,” said Katasha, reflecting on her decision to get involved with The Longest Day.

A STAPLE IN THE CIVIC SCENE

Katasha is a staple in the Indianapolis civic scene, serving in leadership roles in several organizations. She has received numerous awards for her service and dedication to humanitarian endeavors including most recently being named ‘Soror Through The Years’ for the Central Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is the President-Elect for Ivy Endowment, Inc., the non-profit foundation for her chapter—Alpha Mu Omega Chapter. She also serves AKA on the international level as a member of the HBCU Task Force. Katasha was one of the principal organizers and a Founding Member of the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis, the first and only fund expressly for the support of Black people and Black endeavors managed by the Central Indiana Community Fund. As a member of The Links, Incorporated, Katasha was a fellow in the Scott-Hawkins Leadership Institute (Cohort VI) and serves at the Area level. She has also served on the following boards: Alzheimer’s Association of Indiana State Task Force, Butler University COPHS Board of Visitors/Dean’s Advisory Council, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana Board of Directors, Dance Kaleidoscope Trustee Board, Laura Lee Fellowship House Board of Directors, Planning and Zoning Commissioner, City of Danville, IL., Shalom Health Care Center Board of Directors, and United Way of Central Indiana Youth as Resources Board.  

When Katasha is not serving others, she is always working on her craft. Forever the innovative, serial entrepreneur, Katasha managed to find time to develop a line of chic, planner accessories—starting with the debut of the Pretty Girl Planner—a disc-based planner system for the ladies of pink and green. Being organized has been one of her keys to success and her planners can help others with time management and organization. In her free time, Dr. Butler can be found recommending the best lipsticks to her friends, following political news and current events, reading, shopping, traveling the world and spending as much time as possible with her HunniBun, Lathen and dog, Marshmallow.

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2021 Nov. Mag

2021 Nov. Mag

Sharon Caples McDougle, is truly a modern day “hidden figure” who is not hidden anymore! Her long list of firsts show that shooting for the stars is possible. Her dedication to her country and her trailblazing, glass shattering contributions to science and space have not gone unnoticed.

Sharon Caples McDougle wearing purple floral top with chunky jewelry and smiling with red lips


Sharon Caples McDougle became a vital part of the the NASA family in 1990 where she worked in the Space Shuttle Crew Escape Equipment (CEE) department. She began her career as a CEE Suit Technician and was responsible for processing the orange launch and entry suit (LES) assemblies worn by Space Shuttle astronauts. McDougle was one of only two women technicians and the only African American technician when she began her career.

Sharon McDougle wearing Hidden figure no more tshirt and large necklaceMcDougle is truly a modern day ‘hidden figure” who is not hidden anymore.  Everyone knows Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to go to space – but many do not know that another African American, McDougle, with her own list of firsts, was responsible for ensuring Dr. Jemison’s safety into orbit and her return to earth. McDougle was Jemison’s suit tech for her historic mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor September 12, 1992.

For over a year, McDougle trained along beside Dr. Jemison on all facets of working in zero gravity in her suit. Dr. Jemison has openly shared her respect and admiration for McDougle and once wrote, “There are so many incredible people who ensure that astronauts make it to space and back safely. Thank you, Sharon McDougle, for your hard work!”                             

NASA TAKES Notice

In 1994, McDougle was promoted to the position of Crew Chief making her the first woman and first African American CEE Crew Chief. In her new position, she was responsible for leading a team of technicians to suit up astronaut crews. McDougle had the honor of leading the first and only all-woman suit tech crew.  McDougle along with her team met the astronauts immediately after leaving the shuttle upon return from space.

In 2004, McDougle became the only woman and only African American promoted to the position of Manager of the CEE department. She managed over 25 employees who were responsible for training the astronauts on how to donn and doff their suits that were designed to save their lives and taught all the technical aspects of their suits worn into space on the Space Shuttle for the launch and recovered the crew upon landing. She held this position until the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011. She continued working until 2012 to help close-out the program, ending an illustrious 22-year career with NASA.

Other notable astronauts McDougle helped train for lift off into space safely and recover upon reentry are Charles Bolden (former NASA Administrator), Frederick Gregory (1st African American Space Shuttle Commander), and Dr. Bernard Harris (first African American to perform a spacewalk). She even had the opportunity to suit up a few celebrities which included actors Tom Cruise and Candice Bergen.

During her career with NASA, she was recognized with the Astronaut “Silver Snoopy” Award, Space Flight Awareness Honoree Award, and the coveted Women of Color in Flight Award from Dr. Mae Jemison recognizing her as the first and only African American woman suit tech/crew chief in her field.

Prepared for Greatness

The Air Force prepared McDougle for her historic career with NASA. In the Air Force, McDougle was an Aerospace Physiology Specialist who was responsible for training the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 reconnaissance aircraft (“spy planes”)  pilots on high altitude operations. She performed hazardous duty as an inside observer chamber technician and as a chamber operations team member during hypobaric (altitude) and hyperbaric (dive) chamber operations. During the hypobaric chamber flights crewmembers learned firsthand how hypoxia affects their judgment while flying an aircraft. The crewmembers were taught and practiced how they would handle these types of situations and the importance of wearing all equipment correctly

McDougle also inspected and maintained flight equipment used for the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 missions. The equipment included full pressure suit ensembles (helmet, gloves, boots, etc.), harness assemblies, and survival equipment (seat kits and parachutes, and emergency oxygen systems). She sized and fitted crewmembers’ pressure suits, assisted crewmembers in donning and doffing their suits, and performed functional tests before takeoff. She also loaded the survival seat kits and parachutes into the aircraft, strapped-in the crewmembers before take-off, and recovered the crew upon landing. During her time in the Air Force, she was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and Good Conduct Medal

McDougle’s military training and her 22 years hidden working with NASA astronauts has given her a wealth of knowledge she shares while volunteering in her community and with several organizations. She serves as Vice President and Executive Administrator for Unveiled Aspirations – a women’s empowerment organization. Other volunteer activities include reading to children, cleaning community gardens, working in food pantries, feeding the homeless, and working in thrift stores, just to name a few.

A firm believer in mentorship and forever thankful for the teachers who inspired her to reach for the stars, McDougle is a TWST4Girls (Together We Stand Tall 4 Girls) mentor/facilitator for the Harris County Juvenile Corrections Department Program. She is also a mentor with the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship. The fellowship’s purpose is to give collegiate Black students their first Aerospace internship!

Hidden Figure No More

Sharon Caples McDougle Hidden figure wearing large black hat and animal print jumpsuit and beaded jewelryHer dedication to her country and her trailblazing, glass shattering contributions to science and space, have not gone unnoticed. McDougle has been recognized as a Mississippi Trailblazer at the 2018 Mississippi Trailblazers Awards Ceremony and Black-Tie Gala where she received two awards: The Calvin “Buck” Buchanan “FIRST” Award named for Mississippi’s first United States Attorney for the Northern District, which honors a Mississippian who holds the distinction of being the “first” in their profession, and the Dr. Cindy Ayers “Legacy” Award honoring a Trailblazer whose singular work and contributions will leave a legacy long after their lifetime.  

Other awards from her home state: McDougle was honored in the Inaugural class of Mississippi’s Top 25 Most Influential African Americans and the Living Legend Lifetime Achievement Award from the Moss Point Visionary Circle. In 2021, McDougle was recognized by Who’s Who of Mississippi Women with the Inaugural Dr. Helen Barnes Award.

The accolades continue, “That Girl” Natasha Lee and the city of Detroit honored McDougle at the “Make Your Mark Symposium.” McDougle received The Spirit of Detroit Award for exceptional achievement, outstanding leadership, and dedication to improving the quality of life and The Black Caucus Foundation of Michigan recognized her with the Leadership and Commitment of Excellence Award.

Loved Around the Country

She is not only loved in Mississippi but around the country! She was made an Honorary Citizen of Lake Charles, Louisiana by Mayor Nic Hunter and was a Remarkable Women of Houston finalist for CW39’s Houston Morning Dose News. McDougle is also a That Girl Brand Ambassador and a member of the Red Hat Society. Her Red Hat Chapter, Divas With Hattitude, recognized her as their very first Woman of the Year! She was also crowned as the 2019 Bluebonnet Queen.

McDougle has been featured in various publications, media outlets, radio shows and podcasts. She shares her inspirational story during speaking engagements, virtually and in-person, as keynote speaker as well as participating as a panel member at colleges and university STEM activities. McDougle recently became an author, penning her first children’s book titled “Suit Up for Launch with Shay!”  She also shares her story “Does God Love Me?” in the upcoming book Fearless Women Rock, Volume III.

McDougle is happily married to her husband Maronald, a diver for NASA. They have two adult children, Dominique, and Corbin. She and her husband are natives of Moss Point, MS, currently residing in the Houston, TX area.

Connect with McDougle via the web:

Facebook:
https://m.facebook.com/SharonMcDougleHiddenFigure/
https://m.facebook.com/SuitUpForLaunch/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therealshaymac/   

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/SharonMcDougle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcdougle_sharon

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharon-mcdougle-237465bb/

Website: https://smcdougle2.wixsite.com/sharoncaplesmcdougle

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0g5rjNOPjeM6XRffCTusgw/featured

The Wise Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOUYJ1RhgiI        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKf3iHvER-c

ThatGirl Merchandise  https://www.instagram.com/imthatgirlnatasha/   

  • Sharon Caple Mcdougle jumping in orange flight suit

  • Sharon Caple Mcdougle jumping in orange flight suit

  • Sharon Caple Mcdougle jumping in orange flight suit

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2021 Oct. Mag

2021 Oct. Mag

A southern girl with a soulful heart and a strategic mind equals the perfect power combination of being resilient and an unstoppable, progressive community leader.

Charlette Wilson Jacks is a community leader in green top with chunky green and gold necklace on a magazine cover


Charletta Wilson Jacks, a southern girl with a soulful heart and a strategic mind, currently serves as the Deputy Director of Government Affairs for the 60th Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms. Three words to describe Charletta – RESILIENT and PROGRESSIVE LEADER. This “home-grown Savannah girl,” has traveled the sidewalks and streets of many communities and cities to help them rise up, know their value and become the best that they can be. 

Ms. Jacks accumulated over two decades of experience with the City of Atlanta prior to her current position of Deputy Director of Government Affairs, beginning as a Senior Level Urban Planner committed to educating the traditionally disenfranchised citizens and neighborhoods on community engagement and the impact of public policy decisions on their quality of life.  During the first quarter of her tenure with the City of Atlanta, she was selected and honored as one of the “Mayor’s Top 100” employees, out of 8,000 staff, because of her commitment to customer service to the thousands of city residents.

Charletta Wilson Jacks is a progressive leader in yellow suit and coral layered necklacesThe “Go-To” Professional

Her unwavering professionalism led to Ms. Jacks’ appointment as the first African American female to be named Zoning Administrator for the City of Atlanta. Every community that has adopted development regulations has an official charged with the administration and interpretation of those rules. Ms. Jacks was that official, in a position with increasingly complex regulations for a major growing metropolitan city. As a result of her dedicated work and ability to engage and educate varying audiences of citizens, she is viewed as a “go-to” professional for development of large-scale multimillion dollar residential, commercial, and industrial projects.  

Ms. Jacks’ professional executive leadership experience includes construction management and high impact projects with several architectural and engineering firms. Her portfolio also includes the celebrated 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, and her excitement goes into overdrive when she talks about the projects that have her imprint: Atlanta University Center Olympic Games venues at Morris Brown College (football field), Clark Atlanta University (football field) and Morehouse College (basketball arena), Ponce City Market, Redevelopment of Turner Field, Redevelopment of the Gulch and Atlanta Beltline, and the creation of development regulations for the sale of the Turner Field Stadium (now the home to the Georgia State University football team).

Charletta Wilson Jacks is a progressive community leader and smiling woman in fantastic orange knit suit with multiple strands of layered necklacesHelping Atlanta Rise

Atlanta has been on the rise, even in the midst of a global pandemic. With focused leadership, Atlanta has been able to continue its’ role as a vibrant city with an outstanding quality of life. A prosperous city like Atlanta depends on leadership and vision that stimulates and delivers solid development. Ms. Jacks is proud to be a part of that team. 

For the past four years, she has been instrumental in the unanimous adoption of the yearly municipal budget, averaging over $650 million. During the pivot because of the global pandemic, Ms. Jacks continues to look for new and innovative ways to provide leadership and strategic planning on community and economic development policy and implementation. Resilience is one of her core characteristics.

Mrs. Charletta Wilson Jacks is proud of the three HBCUs (Savannah State University, Howard University, and Clark Atlanta University) that poured into her and strengthened her belief that “People Matter and Education is indeed important.” Gaining and maintaining community and stakeholder trust is imperative for success and it matters. She understands the rules and counts it a blessing to be able to share her knowledge with others to ensure transformation and to ensure progressive investment in communities and people. 

Email: cwilsonjacks@gmail.com

Website: https://www.charlettawilsonjacks.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/charlettawilsonjacks/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharlettaWJacks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charlettawjacks


Large green stoneGreen Amber

Green Amber is both a natural and man made rarity. Like all Amber, Green Amber passes through the exact same process in its journey to becoming the semi precious beauty that we know and love. Green Amber has a deep and mesmerizing quality enveloped in a world of lore and history. In many cultures throughout history people believed that this green hue of Amber had the ability to bring good luck and immortality to its wearer. 

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Put Your Beads Back On!

Put Your Beads Back On!

In the early 1920s, as the world finally started recovering from WWI, and the Spanish Flu pandemic was coming to an end, glitz was in. Women started wearing furs, fringe, bright colors, flowers, spectacular hats, and beads – lots and lots of beads. 

Check out the style of Rose Nell Johnson (Deborah’s mom and Cerese’s grandmother) on the right; and Rose’s sister, Ora Bell Wilson, on the left. These ladies made it look effortless!

Two women dressed up in mink stoles and jewelry from the 1920s

The most influential social movement of that time was the Harlem Renaissance. African American culture wowed the entire world in a celebration of music, dance, art, fashion, theater, and literature. They sure did WOW with their style!

Why? Because everyone was ready for some joy after years of fighting and quarantine. They had been reminded that life was fleeting and that we need to celebrate it while we can.

Two photos of women from 1920s-1940s dressed up in their fancies

[Harlem Renaissance women from the 1920’s and 1940’s]

Sound familiar?

It’s time to put our beads back on. It’s time to pull out the colorful, the joyful, the bold, the fanciful, the clothing and jewelry that makes us smile and feel fierce every time we catch our reflection in the mirror. We may not be done with this pandemic yet, but it’s not too early to remember that life is sweet and should be celebrated. 

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2021 Sept. Mag

2021 Sept. Mag

When Brittany Green isn’t advocating for women and children and using her extensive educational background to help students and her community achieve better literacy, it’s a wonder that she still finds time to run her own graphic design and branding company!

Woman in black dress on magazine cover with bold red lipstick and big turquoise jewelry on aqua green background


It’s back to school time for millions of school age children around the country! Education lessens the challenges you will face in life. The more knowledge you gain the more opportunities will open up to allow individuals to achieve better possibilities in career and personal growth. Education has played an important role in the career world of the twenty-first century. Meet Brittany Green, an educator with sass and class! 

Dedicated Advocator

Brittany Green, a native of Chicago, Illinois, is anSmiling woman in white top on white background wearing a pink long beaded necklace with a tassel educator with fifteen years of experience ranging from classroom teaching to district level administration.  Dedicated to improving student learning outcomes, Brittany is the co-creator of “Bridging the Gap for Struggling Adolescent Readers”, a professional development series for teachers of students with reading difficulties. Additionally, she is the author of “Therapeutic Approaches to the Treatment of ADD/ADHD”, a published research study.

Born and raised in Chicago, she moved to Mississippi to attend Tougaloo College and begin her career as an educator.  After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education, Brittany started her career as a Special Education Inclusion Teacher. She focused on individualized student achievement and education plans to support student success. Upon graduating from Belhaven University with a Master’s in Elementary Education, Brittany worked as an interventionist. She then served as a curriculum specialist for two years and the district liaison of curriculum for two years. She is currently earning her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Arkansas State University.

Brittany has a passion for serving students and has dedicated her life to spreading literacy within the state of Mississippi. She is an avid community leader and works continuously to establish and build relationships with other business professionals, civic organizations, and the community itself. An advocate for women and young girls, she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a Girl Scout leader of Troop 5323, and active with MAE (Mississippi Association of Educators).

Not only an educator

Beautiful smiling women with daughter both wearing white tops and fun necklacesWhen she is not in the classroom, Brittany is busy designing and creating for business clients, universities, and non-profits. She is the owner of Classy Creations Studio, a freelance graphic design and branding agency that services fempreneurs and small business owners. As the owner, she leads and manages the overall operations of the company. She is also the co-founder of The Profound Brown, an organization empowering young women and men through literacy. She also serves as an Adolescent Literacy Coach and Research Consultant supporting middle and high school scholars across the nation.  

A military wife, Brittany is married to Major Justin Green and they have one daughter, Raelynn Austin. They currently reside in Mississippi and Major Green is serving a deployment in the United States Army.

Website: classycreationsstudio.com
Instagram: classycreationsstudio

PHOTO CREDIT: MS. DIG PHOTOGRAPHY; CREATIVE DIRECTOR: GENMA HOLMES

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Sweet Summer

Sweet Summer Trends

Soon enough it will be time to get out sweaters and boots, but for now, we have one more month of sweet, sweet summer.

Some of the biggest summer trends this year has been chains, charms, and beaded jewelry—whether it be anklets, bracelets, necklaces, chunky or delicate—they were on the rise. Keep it simple and layer your delicate chains with smaller beads, or go BIG and layer large pieces with bold designs (go big or stay home)! Any way you layer them, Summer allows for less clothing and more jewelry (oooh la la), so have fun with it.

smiling woman in bright yellow fuzzy textured tank top with strand of large colorful beads
black woman wearing pink tortoise framed sunglasses

Shades are always on trend (and can be worn year-round) and the cat-eye is a forever shape, and this season they are OVERSIZED!  They are hot this summer, with the surprise discovery that – unlike ovals and squares – they look good on every face shape. We love this pair from Vontelle.com.

Another hot, sweet summer trend you can indulge in all four seasons is beads. Beads of every size, shape, and color have been making news. Once again, Cerese D has your back, with great bead looks from understated to way, way over the top gorgeous!

woman wearing yellow dress and summer trendy white bead necklaces and bracelets

So come on – don’t wait until summer is over. Get out that fishnet tote, stack up your bracelets, throw on a great strand (or two, or three) of beads, and head outside wearing your spectacular cat-eye sunglasses. Fit in as much sun and fun as you can, because summer is fleeting, and those knee-high boots of yours are just tapping at the back of your closet, waiting to be let loose again.

  • woman in hot pink tank top with big bold jewelry in multiple bright colors

  • woman in white top basking in sun with long brown beaded layered necklace

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2021 Aug. Mag

2021 August Mag.

If you’re under the impression that financial planning is ho-hum, you haven’t spoken with Melissa L. George. Melissa, the owner of Melissa L. George & Associates, is a multi-certified financial professional who is passionate about her work.

Smiling black woman in a black top wearing a beaded necklace on the cover of Cerese D Magazine

If you’re under the impression that financial planning is ho-hum, you haven’t spoken with Melissa L. George. Melissa, the owner of Melissa L. George & Associates, is a multi-certified financial professional who is passionate about her work.

As a double minority in a white male dominated industry, she has carved out an impressive business by listening deeply to her customers and sticking to her principles.

Melissa didn’t have a straight path from college to the financial district, paved with a network of connections. Instead, she took nine years to work her way through college, taking classes when she had enough money, and pausing when she didn’t. 

It was at Georgia State, studying to be an accountant, that she realized math alone would not satisfy her career aspirations. She loved everything about math but couldn’t envision a career stuck in an office immersed in spreadsheets. She needed more human interaction.

She had been working for the city of Atlanta, starting at age 16 as a lifeguard and pool manager, then going full-time with the city after she graduated from high school. In her mid-20s she took a job at Victoria’s Secret as a store manager, and there she made one very important connection. As she tells it, “One day, I was talking to the mall manager about what I was trying to do, how I was trying to figure out which career path would combine my love of math with my love of working with people. He said he had someone he wanted me to speak with.” He introduced her to another African-American woman with a successful career in financial planning; the woman who would recommend her for her first financial job and who would become her mentor.

Until that meeting, Melissa hadn’t been aware of financial planning as a career path. But it was a perfect fit for her business degree, her people skills, and her entrepreneurial spirit.

smiling black woman wearing black glasses in a dark blue top with yellow fingernail polish

Melissa speaks of her first day as a financial professional; 30 years old and just 3 years out of college. “My first day of work I started with three other new hires: White men who were considerably older than me and already had careers. CPAs, engineers, they seemed like a more obvious fit for this profession.” Her new manager asked her “How are you going to get people to trust you? To trust that you know what you’re doing?” And Melissa admitted she wasn’t sure. She told her manager, “I’m going to be honest and forthcoming, and if I don’t know the answer to something, I’ll just say so and go find the answer.”

“And maybe I’ll start wearing glasses.”

Melissa quickly realized that her retail background was a strength. Her service orientation, skill at reading body language, and ability to quickly establish rapport with customers were all abilities she could lean on while she learned the ropes of budgeting, debt reduction, risk management, insurance, and retirement planning.

Her customers gained confidence in her as she gained confidence in herself. As she shared the information about how to become financially secure and independent with her customers, she was learning too. “I’m very transparent,” Melissa shares. “I have always shared the mistakes that I’ve made right alongside the best practices that I’ve learned. And that transparency is important, because as a financial professional, you work hard to earn trust.”

Melissa offers a funny and apt trust analogy. She says that a person will make an appointment with a doctor, and without so much as checking the doctor’s credentials or history, will go into that doctor’s office and “snatch all their clothes off.” 

She goes on to say, “They’ve never met this person before, yet there they are with their feet in the stirrups. But they come to me and they are more guarded with their finances than with any doctor. So they give me a little information and a little money to work with, and I must earn some trust before they give me a little more information and a little more money to work with.” She understands their hesitancy. “I didn’t grow up with sound financial knowledge or education either. I understand the emotional attachment people have to their hard-earned money.” 

When she had switched from retail to financial services, she went from a salary to pure commission. This put immense pressure on her ability to earn an income while learning an entirely new career. “That was scary — a big step” she says. It wasn’t smooth sailing and she struggled. But she chose to believe in herself, and her willingness to take risks and invest in herself has paid off again and again.

Melissa worked six years for that first firm, learning the ropes and building skills. “But I was a captive agent, which meant I was limited in the products I could offer my clients.” In her 7th year she became a detached agent, which gave her more freedom to select products and offer services that she thought her customers needed, and in 2006 she founded MLGA.

DITCH THE COOKIE CUTTER.

“I don’t believe financial plans can be cookie-cutter,” Melissa says. “I craft plans for people based on their situation. Some people have children to consider, others have elderly parents they care for, or a family member with special needs. And more and more, I am working with individuals who own businesses, and we start by working on personal financial plans and then go on to work on business needs, operations and HR, and succession plans. Everyone’s situation is different.”

Ask Melissa about her personal family and friend support network, and she refers to her constellation which is her support system that she’s built over the years. When she talks about how she has developed her business, you can see that she’s built that constellation around her customers too. MLGA is a boutique firm with a powerful network of strategic partners. 

“I wanted to provide portfolio services, but to give the best possible advice you have to be glued to a computer screen monitoring the markets.” So, she formed a partnership with a company that only does portfolio management. She went on to create other partnerships that offer tax and legal services. Today she works with estate planning attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, and a wide variety of industry experts. “I want my customers to have the best financial advice there is,” so she’s assembled a network of specialists, all at the top of their game.

black woman standing in black top with empty picture frames in the background

This commitment to putting the customer first is evident in Melissa’s professional development choices as well. She has chosen to be a Certified Financial Fiduciary (CFF), which means she is legally obligated to put her clients’ financial interests above her own, and that she must disclose how she is compensated to avoid conflicts of interest in her recommendations. She is also a FINRA arbitrator, helping to resolve disputes between the investing public and the securities industry. Achieving these professional designations speaks to Melissa’s philosophy and ethical standards. 

Any conversation with Melissa includes frequent use of the word journey. College was a journey. Learning financial planning has been – and continues to be – a journey. Marriage? Ask her about marriage and you’ll get a chuckle out of her. 

“I’ve been married before,” she says. “I genuinely believe in marriage, and I’m willing to try it again, but if it’s not right, I don’t have a problem cutting the cord.” 

If there is a next time around, which she would welcome, she knows she will do a better job of listening to her gut. “When I know someone has been divorced, I ask them, were there red flags? And there always were. There were for me too. We make decisions and we make mistakes. That’s all OK. We just have to learn from those mistakes, or we will continuously repeat.” 

INVEST IN YOURSELF.

She says, “Now that I know myself well, I know my non-negotiables and deal-breakers; what I am willing and unwilling to compromise on.” So before committing again, Melissa plans to have a better handle on what the shared experience will look like. “How does a person respond when the bottom falls out? How do they treat their mother, sisters, and women in general? How are they with money management? How do they behave when they are sick? There are all these seasons you go through with someone in a long-term relationship. I think it’s important to date long enough to go through several seasons and pay attention to how each one is handled.” 

The season of the pandemic has been particularly challenging for Melissa. Since the beginning of 2019 she dissolved a significant relationship, her father died unexpectedly, she moved her mother in to live with her, the pandemic started, and both she and her mother have had surgeries. 

And during all that trauma, what Melissa decided to do was reclaim her health. “With the help of my personal trainer, I lost 60 pounds and I kept it off. I’m an avid runner. I work out, I eat well, and I’m serious about being healthy.” 

“I know how I want to ride out the 2nd half of my life.” she declares. “I don’t want to be one of those people on medications, hunched over, can’t travel. I plan to live long, be a Centenarian. But I know the next breath is not promised, so I’m making the most of my life every day.”

Black woman smelling white flowers

When asked to provide some advice to her younger self, Melissa says, “surround yourself with people who genuinely care about your well-being and listen to your inner voice. We have this innate spirit of discernment that God put that in us, and we need to learn to harness that. Build a strong inner circle. Mine is made up of my family, my lifelong friends, my sorority sisters. I know they are here for me, and I’m here for them. That’s everything. I’m Blessed!”

She continues, “Also, don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t get caught up on where you’re supposed to be or to have accomplished by the time you’re a certain age. I didn’t understand that until I got much older why my trajectory had to be so different. But now I know that God’s plan for each of us is unique…God gives us exactly what we need to grow. So just pay attention to your own path, and the lessons you need to learn to graduate from one level to the next.”

Like the glasses she initially put on to convey confidence, but which she ultimately grew into, Melissa L George is a study in becoming what you set out to be. For her, financial planning is not just about the math, nor is it just about the money. It’s about relationships and the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s about the journey.

Melissa L. George & Associates, www.melissalgeorge.com.

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2021 July Mag

2021 July Mag

Discover how Regine T. Rousseau is blazing a path for black women in wine while sharing her passion and  changing the way people learn about wine, and making it fun!


Regine Rousseau in white blouse with a serious face and large white bead necklaceThe wine industry has been historically known to be exclusive, white and male. To further cement the industry’s image, the Association of African American Vintners reports that only 50 out of the 10,000 U.S. wineries are Black-owned. That is equivalent to .05 percent of the wineries! But according to the Wine Market Council Consumer Segmentation, Black consumers make up about 11 percent of wine drinkers in the country. While the numbers may be dismal in ownership, our July cover model, Regine T. Rousseau is helping shatter the glass ceiling, or in this case uncorking the bottle for a savory glass of wine with her company, Shall We Wine.

Regine is a wine and spirits expert, writer, presenter, and media personality who focuses on making wine knowledge accessible to people at all levels of proficiency. She was a nominee of the Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 Wine Star Awards for Wine Educator of the Year, she’s earned prestigious certificates for International Sommelier Guild Level II, and Executive Bourbon Steward, Stave and Thief. Regine has traveled around the globe sharing her wine and spirits expertise. She has authored or been featured in articles in the New Yorker, Wine Enthusiast, Black Enterprise, Black Food and Beverage, Wine Spectator, the Zoe Report, Forbes and Chicago Tribune.

TURNING A HOBBY INTO A PASSION.

Regine fell in love with wine while studying abroad during college in Besançon, France and began her career as a salesperson for a wine distributor. While in this role, she noticed a disconnect between wine professionals and consumers. Making wine approachable became a central premise of Regine’s work.

In 2013, Regine established Shall We Wine, a wine and spirits experiential marketing, event planning, and education company. Working with national and boutique winemakers, distilleries, importers, and distributors, she increases brand awareness, reach, and revenue for clients through innovative and traditional approaches. These include in-person and on-line activations, events, sponsorships, videos, media and social media services, and speaker and influencer marketing. She and her team are masters at translating complex terminology into language that individuals of every level of wine expertise and interest appreciates.

Regine’s speaking engagements as a keynote and panelist, include Blacks in Wine Symposium, Wonder Women in Wine, I.E.E.M Conference – Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, SoloCEO Summit, tastings.com, and Association of Writers and Writers’ Programs. She is a blogger on reginerousseaum.com and shallwewine.com, has served as subject matter expert for VinePair, has been interviewed on You & Me Chicago, WGN Chicago, Windy City Live, and Great Day Washington. Regine has also moderated a virtual event for Gallo International Women’s Month.

Sharing wine in many languages.

Regine Rousseau on yoga mat deciding between red or white wineLanguage is integral to Rousseau’s work as a poet and published author where wine and written word are often interwoven. In her book Searching for Cloves and Lilies: The Wine Edition, Regine illustrates the dynamics of personal relationships while pairing each poem with wine that echoes the mood of her writing.

Regine is recipient of the Wine Bloggers Conference Ethnifacts Diversity Scholarship, grants from McBride Sisters Collections and Allies for Community Business, and Knox College’s 2020 Alumni Achievement Award. She is fluent in French, Haitian Creole, and English.

Regine has a BA from Knox College, studied at L’Université de Franche Comte and Centre de Linguistique Appliquée.

Join Cerese D Jewelry as we toast this outstanding trailblazer as we continue to recognize amazing women each month! Cheers!

Stay up to date with Regine:

Latest Article:
How Wine Brought Me In From the Outside 

Websites: 
https://www.reginerousseau.com/

https://www.shallwewine.com/

Social Media: 
FB Business – https://www.facebook.com/ShallWeWine/

FB Personal – https://www.facebook.com/reginetrousseau

Instagram Business- https://www.instagram.com/shallwewine/

Instagram Personal- https://www.instagram.com/reginetrousseau/

Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/virtualevents/

YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS3vdNOWmVbxTyQW_qu9xMw

Cover Image: {PHOTO CREDIT: MS. DIG PHOTOGRAPHY, LLC & LOLLIPOP PHOTO (TM);  CREATIVE DIRECTOR: GENMA HOLMES} 

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2021 June Mag

2021 June Mag

Paulette Roby has been marching for Civil Rights since she was a child. And she’s still marching.

June 2021 Cerese D Magazine cover featuring Paulette Roby


During 1963, Birmingham was known as one of the most racist cities in the South. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had described it as a “symbol of hard-core resistance to integration.” Civil Rights activists had nicknamed it Bombingham, because of the frequency of violent attacks against those fighting the system of segregation. The children of Birmingham played a key role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and their courage and determination, then, matters today.

Paulette and Curtis Roby, laughing together, dressed in black.
Paulette with husband Curtis Roby

Six months into 2021, the Black community is fighting against voter suppression that is being supported by nearly every state legislatures and some elected leaders to the U. S. Congress; police violence against Black women, men, teens, and underage children is videotaped day after day; an insurrection on democracy witnessed by millions but is feigned by 147; safety in public spaces; and the Jim and Karen Crows disregard for anything Black from health to wealth have made 2021 look like 2020’s first cousin with a virus.

As we grapple with the mental fatigue from above, meet Paulette Porter Roby, a face of courage who believes in hope and Black Lives Matter, then and now. In 1963, 13-year-old Paulette left her classroom to become one of Birmingham’s Children Foot Soldiers who fought on the Civil Rights front lines for equality for her generation, and unbeknownst to her at the time, an inspiration for future generations to come. She was one of the youngest protesters who was arrested for standing up to the police led by then public safety commissioner Bull Connor, a determined segregationist. Paulette and other Foot Soldiers’ stance against segregation and racism helped change the course of the 1960s’ Civil Rights Movement and gave the momentum that helped cement the Voting Rights Act of 1964 into law. Throughout 1963, Birmingham’s Children Crusade nonviolent campaigns helped win victories in getting concessions from segregationists for Dr. King and local Civil Rights leaders. But those victories came with a heavy toll on the community. 16th ​Street​ Baptist Church, a meeting point for Paulette and the many school age Foot Soldiers, was also the target of a bombing that is forever etched in the soul of the Birmingham community and the annals of American and World History.  

Unable to vote at 13, Paulette knew if she did not fight for her future, then, and the future of her people, she would not be able to vote later in life. She persists with that fight today, 58 years after the Birmingham’s Children Crusade garnered unprecedented national and international media attention for its brutal assault on the child protesters, the community and even innocent church goers. Through the lens of wisdom, Paulette recognizes, now more than ever, it is important for the Black community to know that our history lessons are for us to excavate for not only insight and knowledge but to continue to engage and create strategies to help prevent the injustices of yesteryear but also stop the injustices of an ever-evolving societal system that has been woven like an invisible cloak. A cloak not to keep the community warm and bring comfort but to cover up man-made systems that keep us from addressing root causes of systemic issues that overwhelm and discourage Black communities. Black people must fight to stay empowered with solutions to build up our communities and leave legacies for our young people and our future. Paulette believes voting is one of the strongest allies of ​the ​Black community in that battle. No matter how difficult some are trying to make the hard-fought for right to vote become a vague memory from the past and not a freedom that should endure forever.

Still marching.

Today, as the Chair of the Civil Rights Activist Committee at the Foot Soldiers headquarters in Birmingham, Paulette meets with Black Lives Matters movement members, high school students, and visitors from around the world who are sick and tired of being sick and tired. She shares her personal chronicles of being a Civil Rights Foot Soldiers, then and now. She also makes sure history does not forget those who walk beside, in front, and behind her. She talks openly in public spaces about the progress of Black Americans and​ their​ communities have made. She also addresses issues within the community that must be fixed by us for us. Paulette believes Black communities must be present and doing the work while working together so when we call out targeted racists acts and unearth intentional wrongdoings that harm Black minds, bodies, and souls. This ​should be ​done without fear and the need to make concessions that sets us back instead of propelling us forward.  

We are one year out from the killing of George Floyd witnessed by millions; 100 years after ​the ​torching of Black Wall in Tulsa, Oklahoma that wiped out millions of dollars of collective wealth from the Black community; and 156 years since the first Juneteenth (the emancipation of Black slaves in Texas); Paulette vows to continue to fight for equality, march even if she does not have shoes on her feet; and will continue to protest as if her life depended on it. Because it does! Paulette talks frequently ​to national and international audiences ​about inspiring ​stories ​that represents the resiliency of​ Black people coupled with tears for our collective untold pain and loss. She believes ​the history of Black people​ must never be forgotten or swept under a flag for the sake of moving on. It is a part of our heritage and must be remembered. And shared.

Paulette Roby wearing a t-shirt that says "I'm Speaking."

In a recent Associated Press story on the Foot Soldiers, Paulette stated, “This battle has no end.” Encouraged by the visibility and courage of today’s young leaders, she said, “They are needed. There will be a demand for soldiers throughout the generation of eternity who are willing to continue the battle for justice, peace, and equality.”

We cannot stop fighting.

Nationally and internationally known, Paulette is ad​mired​ and sought after. ​Married to Vietnam Veteran Curtis Roby (USMC) who also marched ​​on the front lines and mother of two beautiful daughters, ​​Paulette​ is a living history book and continues to add to history daily as she meets with visitors to Birmingham’s Historic 4th Avenue Business District.  She joins the ranks of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth for being a brave warrior who was willing to endure the suffering administered by Birmingham’s police water cannons and trained attack dogs rather than continue to live where laws were meant to keep Black people oppressed and desperate.

This Juneteenth, join Cerese D and the ​spirit​ of Birmingham’s Foot Soldiers by honoring our ancestors, our living heroines, and unsung heroes’ courage and bravery by making sure you, your entire family, friends, and members of your organizations are registered to vote. Let us be sure to vote in every local, state, and national elections. ​Our lives depend on it!​

Love Paulette’s t-shirt? Find it here.

Cover Image: {PHOTO CREDIT: MS. DIG PHOTOGRAPHY;  CREATIVE DIRECTOR: GENMA HOLMES}

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