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In this Interview, LA based Critically Acclaimed Artist Jessica Soltis gets Candid on the Importance of Representation in the Field of Art

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Based in Los Angeles, Jessica Soltis is a masterful artist critically acclaimed for her modern and abstract artworks.

According to Jessica, representation of black women in the field of art isn’t adequate and it wasn’t until college when she met her art professor, Denyse Thomasos who was a beautiful and talented black female artist. She firmly believes that young women can feel the same sense of belonging and empowerment that she did when she finally saw somebody that looked like her in the field of art. She also believes that there need to be more black women that find power in femininity. 

Every trade in this world is associated with a stereotype. Do you believe that the art world is also driven by stereotypes?

Yes, of course. I think that our minds tend to gravitate towards quirky, eccentric, derelict outcasts. I don’t fit in that stereotype, and I aspire to change that perception. I’m a sequin and glitter badass!

As much as we talk about gender equality, the fact remains that even today, women face difficulties in their professional and personal lives. What challenges do you see women facing when it comes to the art world, especially when it comes to black women?

Representation is definitely still a problem. The impact that Naomi Campbell had on the impressionable minds of young black women’s vision of a supermodel is the exact wave of impact I aim to hit the art community with. The art community is a male-dominated industry, and I want to pave the way for young artists like myself to gain exposure.

You had a transformative experience when you met your art teacher Denyse Thomasos. Tell us more about that experience.

Denyse Thomasos, a beautiful black woman, was my first exposure into the art world. We all have heard the “starving artist” stigma. I never thought it was possible to sustain oneself solely on your art career. Denyse not only taught, but she created beautiful works of art and did gallery shows. She was the first person I looked up to in this industry and inspired me to courageously follow my passions. I want to instill that same sense of hope in the next generation of young black women.

Your artworks have been featured in Tivoli, Italy and in the Marcas Gallery, Southern California drawing in thousands of spectators. Tell us more about this experience.

It is an amazing and humbling feeling when you encounter others that love and appreciate your work. I receive every kind word and every art sale and can only emanate gratitude. Every compliment is received as if I am hearing it for the first time. It truly is a magical experience.

Your recent artwork ‘The Lady In The Shift Dress: Rebirth Of Femininity’ is critically acclaimed. What does this art represent?

The beauty of art is that it is open to interpretation. Your mood, your environment, or your state of mind all can affect your interpretation of someone’s art. What do you think it represents?

What more can be done to empower women, especially black women in the States?

There needs to be positive imagery of beautiful black women in the arts. We are made to be more than just the muse.

What suggestions you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

I am far from perfect but all entrepreneurs need to have bulletproof faith in themselves. Others will project their fears and failures on you to try to throw you off or discourage you. Look within yourself to find your “why”; why are you doing what you are doing? Lastly, the most important thing is patience.

Interview

An Interview with Jennifer Miree Cope

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Described as thorough and organized by her closest associates, Jennifer Miree Cope graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Jennifer has a deep-seated passion for several non-profit organizations. Especially with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has treated several of her close friends and family members.

Jennifer Miree Cope’s respect for the generosity of nonprofits inspired her to become a volunteer. Currently, she is involved with several charities started by Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama: STAIR tutoring, the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, and Holiday House. 

Jennifer’s husband, Pat Cope, is the founder of Cope Private Wealth — a prestigious financial planning firm. When not relaxing with her husband and two sons in Mountain Brook, Jennifer can often be found exercising, walking her dog, or hiking in the mountains of North Carolina.

Jennifer, thank you for doing this. Tell me about your best and worst days at work. 

My worst days are the days when we’re busy. You know those days when customers are calling, texting, emailing from early in the morning to late at night. (I can’t help it that it rained that day.) But one of my best days was when we had three very happy clients, two of whom brought me wine!

What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

Landscaping an empty or nearly empty lot.  It’s just like an artist starting with a blank canvas.

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

My biggest eureka moment was when I realized that technical drawings such as landscape plans can often be just as pretty as art.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

That’s a simple answer. It would have to be time management. There’s simply no way to succeed without it. And I start managing my time well from the beginning – it really starts the minute I wake up in the morning.

What risks is your company facing? 

With the economy doing poorly and inflation on the rise, people can always stop landscaping. That’s really the biggest issue here. It is unfortunately a luxury and not a necessity.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

That’s a tough one! I mean, to be honest, there are a lot of things that I would do with unlimited money, and I imagine that’s the same for everyone else too.

But there is one thing that I would prioritize if I had unlimited money: First, I would try to use it to find a cure for cancer. Both of my sisters, my mom, my aunt, and my husband all had cancer. My two sisters died from it. It’s a nasty disease and we need to dedicate more of our resources to fighting against it.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

I would have to say it was the last time I made a needlepoint belt for one of my sons. It can be very easy to find yourself in the zone when you’re engaged in that.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

Yeah, well for exercise, you can usually find me playing golf, doing pilates, or yoga. I often enjoy going out to eat or attending sporting events and musical theater. And I can’t forget that one of my favorite things to do is travel — mostly to our place in the North Carolina mountains.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

For me, the number one way to make a difference is tutoring the underprivileged. I have done a lot with STAIR, and I am very proud of that work.

 

 

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Interview

In this interview, Raquel Ureña talks about the second season of ‘NY Never Sleeps’

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New York Never Sleeps

Raquel Ureña is a filmmaker and the Founder of NYC Latin Media. She has produced over 8 films. To know more about Raquel Ureña, please read our interview with her.

Raquel, It’s a pleasure talking with you again. Much awaited “NY Never Sleeps” will be rolling out its second season pretty soon. How excited are you about this?

I am really excited. Especially because the participants of this second season are super successful women who are truly inspiring. They are great role models.

Would you like to give a sneak peek into the second season for our audience?

These women of Dominican descent all have successful businesses and they all started with nothing, showing us that if you work hard and remain focused, anything is possible. They are all immigrants and today, have many luxuries due to their hard work. Besides seeing the lifestyles of these women, we will also be seeing a lot of fashionable and trendy, and exclusive places in New York.

When will you start filming?

We will start filming in May and have many plans and exclusive events that we will be attending. We will be showing exclusive restaurants and places that people need to see in NY.

On which platforms, will the second season be available? Also, how many episodes will be there in the second season

There are 13 episodes in the second season and it will be airing on Digital 15 and Telemicro Internacional which is the biggest TV platform in the Dominican Republic. Telemicro Internacional is seen in the US through Comcast cable. The show will be airing towards the end of September. We will be filming all summer.

What are your views on the current status of women in entrepreneurship? especially in the Latina community?

New York is a difficult place to live in and very expensive but these women have proven that even with a humble beginning and hard work, it is possible to get ahead in life.

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Interview

An Interview with Ali LeMille, Career Coach and Founder of The Job Forge

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Ali LeMille

Ali LeMille is the founder of The Job Forge. Ali has successfully helped a large number of companies find the right set of employees. She has also helped over 70 individuals land their dream jobs.

Ali, Thank you so much for talking with us. Your experience with recruitment is pretty vast. You have also worked with some of the biggest names, helping them in recruitment. Tell us more about your past experience.

I had a rather unusual introduction into the recruiting world. I had started as a hiring manager for local “Mom & Pop” shops in my hometown. The connections I made in the area high schools and colleges are what I was able to tap to quickly fix the staffing situation at the theme park I was brought into with Kodak. I moved into a year-round role and worked between New York, New Jersey, and other locations worldwide.

The companies I worked with were some of the most recognizable brands in the world! The last project I worked on was staffing for the Disney Premiere of The Princess and The Frog in Manhattan. It was in a refurbished nightclub where guests could explore a “bayou” playground, learn to draw from actual Disney animators, and see authentic movie props. It was a fantastic opportunity, and I still maintain close connections with the people I worked with during that time.

I found myself in the healthcare sector after being injured by a patient in the emergency room I had been moonlighting in. This placed me on light duty, where I used my talent acquisition skills to recruit positions for everything from housekeeping to physician assistants.

I then moved into the Non-Profit sector with AmeriCorps and their Reading Partners Program. There I maintained a staff of roughly 500 volunteer tutors. After that, I went into Insurance/Healthcare once again.


Based on your experience, what are some of the things a recruiter looks for in a candidate?

Recruiters worth their salt will be looking at your response times, professionalism, and social presence.

Response times give them an idea of your sense of urgency – which is a massive deal for most positions! Potential employers want to know if you’re going to be a great communicator or if you’re willing to let things go for a minute.

Professionalism comes in how you respond: your grammar, cadence, salutations, and if you’re answering everything they asked or leaving out details they need. A great practice is to run your responses through Grammarly or Hemingway App to catch things you may have missed.

Social Presence is massive, and I’m mainly talking about LinkedIn regarding job hunting. Having a fully optimized LinkedIn profile gives you an enormous edge because it’s social proof that you are who you say you are in your career experience. I’ve seen great resumes hit the trash because the candidate didn’t exist anywhere but on their paper resume.

How and when did you come up with the idea of The Job Forge?

When the pandemic hit, I knew many people who joined the mass resignation and began job hunting. People looking to move their careers into a remote situation quickly realized everyone else had the same idea. My phone started blowing up with questions about what “contract to hire” meant and how to update their resumes quickly. I took care of everyone close to me and then some! I wanted to make this service available to anyone else feeling stuck, so I created The Job Forge. I have the different comprehensive packages on my site, but also some basic gigs on Fiverr as well. I wanted to make it as accessible as possible for as many people as possible.

According to you, what are some of the things that career coaches often miss out on?

That clients don’t have to be some industry big wig to need some help. I see a lot of coaches gearing their work to major hitters, not understanding that there’s a whole population of mid-level players that are hungry to throw their career into high gear.

I’ve worked with RNs looking to make Charge Nurse, Retail Managers wanting to switch industries completely, recent grads trying to get their foothold and start making bank, and parents returning to the workforce after time away to take care of their littles.  

Whoever needs coaching should have access to it – and that’s my goal. To make Career Coaching accessible and affordable.

How do you address the gaps in the existing recruitment and career consulting services?

The issue I see happening with current recruiting practices is false barriers to entry for many positions. A great example of this is requiring intensive degrees and forcing employees into the office when it’s not necessary.

I recently attended an Equality Summit where the overwhelming response to “What is the number one thing holding your career back?” was employers requiring higher-level degrees for positions that could also be learned through real-world experience. Many people have spent their lives honing their skills, but they are instantly rejected because an advanced degree was not a pathway for them.

My recruiting approach is working with the employer to narrow down the actual needs to do the job – not what looks good on paper. It’s getting them to understand that an applicant can have the most expensive degree in the world and still not know as much as the person who has spent 20+ years in the industry.

And my Career Consulting service falls in line with that philosophy! Degrees are lovely for specific fields but not required for many others. I want to work with my clients regardless of their educational background. Whatever the barriers are, I want to create a plan for them to succeed!

Though every job has a different set of needs, In your experience, what are some of the most common traits recruiters are looking for in candidates?

I touched on a few earlier, but I can tell you a line that recruiters watch closely: Are you finessing your resume or lying about your abilities? There’s a big difference!

It goes without saying that you should never lie on your resume. Saying you have skills you very definitely don’t will not only get you quickly fired but can also get you a blanket industry ban if the community is small enough.

Finessing? That’s fine! And what I mean by that is, let’s say, you went outside your job description and learned new skills because of it. You can put those on your resume! It’s not lying – You did the work and have the abilities you claim to. Or asking your manager if you can change your title on your resume to reflect more accurately what you did under their employment. Then update your resume accordingly. Your resume is meant to reflect your skills and abilities in the best and most truthful way. And if you need help with that, my services are a click away!

Any suggestions you want to give to first-time job seekers?

Job hunting is a numbers game – especially now when there are many open positions and a ton of applicants. Even when you land an interview, keep applying! Nothing is final until you’re signing contracts accepting the job and have an official start date. Focus on your goals and move forward step-by-step. Clean up your social media, flesh out your LinkedIn profile, and revamp your resume and cover letter.

Oh, and please, please, create a professional email—just your name at Gmail or yahoo or whatever platform you use. Anything else is a potential red flag, and you don’t want to have your CV tossed in the trash for something so quickly addressed. Keep your personal email separate and create one specifically for job hunting.

Lastly, a big trend I am seeing is putting pictures of yourself on your resume. In the US and UK, this can actually really hurt your chances of getting an interview. Many companies will toss resumes with applicant pics on them because they don’t want to be seen as biased.

And if you need help with any of this, reach out to me! I’d love to chat!

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