Cover Stories

Stories That Inspire

Turning Pain into Power: T. Denise breaks mental health barriers in communities of color

T. Denise had an inside view of gang violence and witnessed a plague that affects these poverty-stricken areas; lack of opportunity and career crime. T. Denise stands as a beacon of light for those with little hope of changing their circumstances and is living proof that the situations you are born into does not define you or decide your life. Quite obviously, she's a hard-core advocate for positive change. Given the circumstances that she was raised in, she's focused on turning the pain of the strenuous daily norm from these struggling urban environments into a hub for healing. For her cover shoot, the idea was to take the stigma out of the more gangster-inspired look that surrounded her in her youth. What can be more gangster than getting an education and doing things your own way, of not following the rules but then using that rebellion to plant altruistic seeds in communities similar to those that you were raised in.

Chains are meant to be broken: Techno-pop artist Mercy extinguishes gaslighting

Los Angeles, California

If you have ever struggled with breaking free from the chains of your past, addiction, gaslighting, abuse, or any other form of bondage, you know that breaking chains can be a daunting task. Maybe you have chains of negative thinking or limiting beliefs. Perhaps they are chains of insecurity, chains holding you back from reaching your full potential. Regardless of your chains, the very word chain produces an image of something solid, heavy and impossible to break. We often assume that a chain cannot be broken; yet chains are not unbreakable. When put into these chains that shackle us, it is our choice to stay bound or free ourselves.

EDM artist Michael Schmidt on overcoming opioid addiction & helping others as a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Michael Schmidt is a US Army Veteran currently studying to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Battling opioid addiction, music became his lifeline. When his relationship with EDM (Electronic Dance Music) grew from admiration to creation, his own music was born. He dove headfirst into his passion crafting a dynamic mix of beats that is sure to make waves in the dance music scene. As a new father with a bright future ahead of him, he is an example of the importance of finding yourself in recovery.

Rock star of the hair world Larisa Love believes you should do what you love

How much do you love what you do? When you think of your career do you get excited? When you are at work are you happy? Do you love the people you are working with? Do you wake up everyday ready to learn and improve your skillsets? Most importantly, do you love your life?

All too often, we find ourselves looking for meaning in what we do. For Larisa Love, that is no longer the case. After a period of time spent finding herself like so many of us do, she is now who she wants to be —and even as she changes, her belief in herself will never change. Her life has been one crazy roller-coaster ride full of ups and downs, twists and turns. Throughout her journey, Love is what has carried Larisa into her career as world-renown hair artist, educator, mentor, Joico Brand Ambassador, designer and owner of one of LA’s premier boutique salons; Larisa Love Salon. Larisa strives to be the best artist she can be by continuing to push the boundaries of her creativity to another level while also encouraging her fellow hair artists to do the same. Larisa has gained even more insight into the true beauty “behind the chair” and wants to inspire everyone who has a secret dream that they are holding onto. Larisa’s message of tenacity, doing what you love, and the importance of living by your own rules will help you embrace your originality so you can find your inner rock star.

Founder of the Hope, Life & Dreams Centers: Dr. Roya Hassad is transforming lives

Dr. Roya J. Hassad is an award-winning physician, educator, philanthropist and speaker helping people unlock their true potential. She is the Medical Director of Advanced Medical Health Services and Founder of the Hope, Life and Dream Centers. With over twenty years of experience within the health and wellness industry, she has extensive experience in family medicine, regenerative medicine, dermatology, women’s health and anti-aging. She is affiliated with some of New York's most prestigious medical institutes, such as Mount Sinai Hospital and Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Hassad has devoted her life to establishing herself as a highly experienced and trusted professional who transforms the lives of others for the better. Dr. Roya is passionate about helping people to look and feel their best. She goes beyond beauty; beyond the surface and beyond the skin to get to what is really going to change a person’s life.

Three sisters created Little Creek Playschool to celebrate diversity & limitless growth through e-learning

If you’ve ever spent time observing infants or having a conversation with a toddler, it’s clear these tiny humans are nothing less than incredible. Their minds are like sponges, and everything they learn from birth through their formative years is part and parcel of a bigger picture. It’s why creative and diverse learning is essential for growth. Little Creek Playschool has honed in on these aspects to build a place where children have an opportunity to tap into this type of innovative, early education.

Based out of London, the virtual playschool takes diversity, creativity, and growth to the next level.

Tips on growing a world-class business with Rajeev Lakhanpal

There’s a French proverb that says, “Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.” Directly translated, it means, little by little, the bird builds its nest. This strong advice conveys that no matter how slow your progress, if your efforts are continuous in any endeavor, you can achieve whatever you want. And no one could understand this concept better than business executive and renowned entrepreneur Rajeev Lakhanpal. 

Since the world went on lockdown, the number of people starting businesses has sky-rocketed. Building a business however, it’s not as easy as it may seem, and the visions concocted by the brain doesn’t leave much room for reality.

Kaya Gravitter addresses domestic violence through her novel After She Said Yes

In her debut novel, After She Said Yes, Kaya Gravitter makes a social commentary about the issue of domestic violence. The feminist fiction draws parallels between Aurora, the main character, and what Kaya has faced in her own life as a survivor of domestic abuse. Her trauma and passion for writing led her to pen this poignant story in order to give solace to women left grappling with the consequences on their mental health. Kaya hopes her words help women speaking out against their abusers and for the women who still haven’t by giving a voice to the voiceless.

Movement in the wild: Inspired by nature with dancer Billy Mustapha

Influenced by the nature-rich resources of his Canadian hometown of Calgary, Billy Mustapha has a passion for storytelling in the wild through movement. Using nature and fluid choreography, he creates a poetic fusion. Commanding his body and his mind, he connects emotionally to nature through dance. Through our in-depth conversation we gain insight into Billy's love of nature, how we can all reconnect with Mother Earth, pursuing dance as a first-generation immigrant and finding freedom in a time of isolation.