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I’m a Hustler, I’m a, I’m a Hustler…

Momma - Rae

Now that I have introduced myself to you, I guess we can say we have officially met.  I have described my family dynamic, but I admit that I left out one important fact about myself. My bonus kids affectionately, call me “Momma-Rae”. Every time I hear one of them or their spouse call out to me, “Momma-Rae!” I just beam from the inside. Long before I was Momma-Rae, I was just Rae to friends and Shawn to family.  I am still Shawn to family, and old friends who I am still connected to continue to call me Rae.

A few days ago, I was driving in my car with our 15-year-old son, Amir. We were on our way to school in our daily hustle and bustle mode.  We left the house later than usual, so we were cutting it pretty close that day. I refused to get anxious, so I began to focus our minds on something else other than, “we are running behind, we have got to do better”.

Me: “Hey Amir, I noticed that you have visual arts this year, how exciting! Do you like it?”

Amir: (Shrugs) “It’s okay?”  

I’m thinking to myself, “As a self-proclaimed artist, born from an artist (my dad), and I married an artist; surely one of our kids will reach their artistic potential.

Me: “Just Okay? But you have visual arts in your DNA.  Me, your dad, your grandfather, your uncle…Did you know that I was Youth Artist of the Year my last year of high school?”  

Amir: “Mom, kids are much better at drawing nowadays.”

Me: “What!

The conversation continued and as usual, we ended up talking about cars (He is obsessed with cars. He wants to be an engineer and/or a race car driver).  After I dropped Amir off, I turned on Pandora (Jay-z channel, which is my usual Pandora channel if I am not listening to an Audible)…I’m a hustler, I’m a , I’m a hustler begins to play in the background as I start off on my normal drive to work, with a quick pit stop at Starbucks, of course.  I have been drinking Starbucks for years, but recently was turned on to Nitro Cold Brew which has completely altered my need for 5 pump White Mochas (yes, you heard me 5 pumps…)

I am a Jay-z fan. I don’t proclaim to know all of his lyrics, but I am a fan of his music and business opportunities that he has set up for himself. The song playing was not even a Jay-z song but begins with a sample of Jay.  While it played in the background, I started thinking about my previous accomplishments and current things that I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes my dreams seem so big that they scare me, and I think, “Am I nuts?”  I thought about my accomplishments during college -how I wanted to start a fashion line. I remembered how I sniffed out two talented ladies in my department and began my journey as a designer. We presented huge fashion show productions during my sophomore and junior year. These shows were contracted with the university which meant the door money went straight to us for our expenses and lack of sleep.  We sold t-shirts every season that we were together (I only have one of the designs left). We even got an opportunity to showcase our creations out of state. Thanks Rob!

Halima & Me After Our First Fashion Show – UMES Spring 1993

(The track continues to play, I am not catching the verses only the sampled chorus, I’m a hustler, I’m a, I’m a hustler…)

After the birth of our youngest, I was determined not to return to the I.T. world as a Software Tester, I opened Rajah Designs Boutique’s first location in my neighborhood shopping mall. Not long after moving to our second location on Light Street in Baltimore, the economic crisis hit us hard. In 2009, we decided to close our doors permanently.

I have always desired to be an entrepreneur, with home décor, fashion, and cosmetics under the same brand…This is a fire that has never left my soul, so I convinced my sisters to be a part of Ribbons Cosmetics. Even though they are in Washington D.C. and I am in Charlotte, this venture connects us. Our brand offers safer alternatives to mainstream cosmetics that women love. Proceeds from our sales will support the Arts in our respective communities. Success is just around the corner. I know we will get there, developing one product at a time because…I’m a hustler, I’m a, I’m a, hustler.

Stay Creative,

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