"Stay true to yourself and never play small in order to make others feel better about themselves. I would reassure her that every goal and dream you have is obtainable with self-discipline, a clear mind, and an open heart. I would tell her to always protect her spirit and creativity. To always keep your trust in God."
LADIES FIRST: AT WHAT AGE DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS RECOGNIZED YOUR SPECIAL GIFTS OR TALENTS?
Eden: "I believe the age I recognized my gift was early childhood, because my family was always giving back. If it was mentoring others, allowing people to live with us until they got on their feet, or giving the little money we had to them. Giving was something that I was surrounded by and what I thought was normal."
Ellisa: "Oh, there’s so many different points in my childhood that were key in me discovering my passions. My parents always pushed the importance of traveling and seeing the world very early on in our lives. Our first overseas family trip I was in the second grade to my father’s native country, Nigeria. This automatically switched my mindset that life was so much bigger than the city where we grew up. I was also surrounded by nature in my childhood. In middle school I would stay outside for hours by myself exploring + allowing my thoughts to roam free. By high school, it all came together of me enjoying long periods of freestyle writing. Solitude, dreaming and words all swirled into one for me."
LADIES FIRST: WHAT WERE THOSE SPECIAL TALENTS?
Ellisa: "I would say writing and honestly expressing myself is a special talent of mine. It pours out of me very naturally and I tend to be able to do better in written communication than verbal."
Eden: " I believe my special gift is giving back in the form of creating opportunities to empower young ladies of color."
LADIES FIRST: HOW HAS GROWING UP FEMALE IN THE CITY WHERE YOU WERE RAISED FORMULATED YOUR PERCEPTION OF WHAT POWERFUL WOMEN LOOK LIKE, HOW THEY ACT, AND WHAT THEY ACQUIRE TO BE "SUCCESSFUL"
Ellisa: "My sister and I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was surrounded by powerful women. My mother of course was my first superwoman. She has a true relentless spirit with a heart of gold. She pushed herself past the limit to be the best version of herself and expected the same from Eden and I. She always taught me that I’m a person first and a woman second.Balancing her life as a career woman, wife and mother, she encouraged me to live life to the fullest and overcome obstacles. She taught us no one or nothing defines us. Our strength comes from God."
Eden: "I was raised in a bicultural family. My father is Nigerian and my mother is African-American. If anyone knows Indiana the demographics is very black and white. In a separate sense. As a child I was blessed to formulate my perspective of what a powerful woman looked and acted like through my mother. My mother is such a great example of going against the odds and defining her own power. She travelled across seas, when it wasn't the cool thing to do. She took me at a young age to Haiti to do missionary work. I had to be no older than 12 yrs. old when I was exposed to helping others. and understanding the joy I was able to bring at such a young age."
LADIES FIRST: WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT THE GIRLS THAT WERE ELLISA & EDEN WHO WERE BECOMING WOMEN WHERE DID YOUR MOTIVATION, CREATIVITY, AND COURAGE COME FROM?
Eden: "Wow my motivation, creativity, and courage came from my family and what I was blessed to be exposed to as a child. As a child I was surrounded by educators, entrepreneurs, and artists. My motivation came from my mother. She is a hard loving woman that doesn't understand the term 'can't'. She is a fighter and I was blessed to have the same fight in me. my creativity came from my exposure of life. The good, the bad, and the ugly. This allowed me to be comfortable in who I am. My courage came from my father, who is never afraid of going after his dreams. Being an educated African man in Indiana, who was able to develop his own business was not an easy journey. There were definitely setbacks my family overcame as a while. And all these journeys developed me as a person."
Ellisa: "My motivation, creativity and courage were instilled in me from both of my parents but it truly flourished when I was on the journey that God had already planned out for me. The most difficult issue for people to succeed is quieting their minds long enough to see where God wants you. Once you’re placed on that journey it doesn’t mean you won’t have trials but it means that you’ll obtain a quiet confidence in your spirit that confirms you’re on the right track."
LADIES FIRST: HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO GET COMFORTABLE ACKNOWLEDGING, LISTENING, AND TRUSTING ALL THAT IS EDEN & ELLISA ASIDE FROM THE PUSH OF FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND MENTORS?
Ellisa: "One of my greatest gifts is knowing how to embrace solitude and stepping away from the crowd to carve out my authentic thoughts and ideas. When you’re in tune with yourself you can take suggestions from friends and family but you’ll instantly know if something's not right to you. It’s a gentle wrestle within your spirit but you have to be still long enough to acknowledge it."
Eden: "I was able to get comfortable in trusting all of me probably when I started college. During that time I was able to create who I was as a person outside of my family. I was able to take the tools of my childhood and develop and understand who I was. Now this was not a smooth journey, definitely a lot of bumps in the road, however the lessons that I learned were unforgettable.
LADIES FIRST: WHAT SHOULD EVERY GIRL BEGIN TO LOVE AND UNDERSTAND ABOUT THEMSELVES BEFORE WOMANHOOD?
Eden: "Wow. I like this question. Every girl should love and understand that they are powerful individuals and beautifully unique. It's hard for young girls to understand that who they are may not be what's so-called popular, what's seen in the media all the time. But once a young girl embraces who she is, it is so powerful.
Ellisa: "Each girl has a hidden diamond inside of her. It’s up to you if you decide to share it with the world or keep it hidden to make others feel comfortable around you. The first step to womanhood is the moments a girl knows & believes that she holds unlimited power. Always remember it’s a journey. It’s not something that is completed once you graduate high school, college or even in your twenties. Womanhood is a trail you walk daily and discover a little bit more about yourself each and every day."
why c.o.r.e. magazine
LADIES FIRST: WHEN DID YOU HAVE YOUR "AH HA!" MOMENT TO BEGIN C.O.R.E. MAGAZINE?
Ellisa: "My sister and I always wanted to come together to create a project and our passion was both in mentorship and the empowerment of young women of color. Before launching CORE Mag I had intern with at major publication geared toward teens and studied in the field of Fashion Marketing. I couldn’t help but noticed how underrepresented girls of color were and how we were never the true target market. I remember being a teen and even though I was surrounded by successful black women there was no representation for my age range when it came to publications. I became obsessed with being online because I discovered a whole new world of creative women of color. Also, there is such amazing content, blogs and publications blooming on the scene for women of color ages 25 years and up. We wanted to take the knowledge break it down to a teen level so they can start building a strong foundation at the beginning of their youth."
Eden: "The awakening moment happened to my sister and I at the same time. When God places your purpose in you life it is definitely a powerful moment. I was living in Huntsville, Alabama at the same time and my sister was living in Chicago, Illinois and we came home for the holidays and decided to go to Starbucks. In that Starbucks we both brought out ideas together and C.O.R.E was actually birthed on that day.
LADIES FIRST: TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMPANY C.O.R.E. MAGAZINE AND THE WORK THAT YOU GUYS DO?
Eden: "C.O.R.E (Creating Opportunity to Reach Empowerment) Magazine is a digital platform that develops awareness of self-understanding and worth for females ages 12-18. We reach girls through different subject matter: finance, relationships, fashion, health/beauty, and current topics. It is also a movement where we offer onsite workshops, events, and speaking engagement to empower our young girls. We have teen writers who share their thoughts, express their opinions, and interview people who they feel are positive influencers in the world."
Ellisa: "Exactly, we also have on-site programs where we bring the content of the site alive with girls for an interactive experience."
LADIES FIRST: WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN AMONGST BLACK GIRLS AND WOMEN RIGHT NOW?
Ellisa: "To understand their strength, beauty and passion while releasing any stereotypes that society has put on them. I want to shake the label of the ‘strong, black woman’ and unpeel it for them to just be authentically who they are. It’s okay to be vulnerable or creative or goofy, whatever your heart desires but just be you. Because that’s where your true power lies."
Eden: "The biggest concern amongst Black girls at this age I would say is the lack of self-love. We work with so many girls who don't understand that what is seen in the media is not a reflection of who they should be and who they are. And i would even go even further to say that the lack of self-love is a huge concern in young women my age as well. Without the platform of self-love we are either walking robotics just moving to maintain sanity or we get caught chasing acceptance that is not required. And the lateral is what most of our young girls get caught in."
LADIES FIRST: WHAT KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL SET DO YOU WANT BLACK GIRLS TO MASTER ON THEIR JOURNEY TO SUCCESS REGARDLESS OF ANY FIELD THEY CHOOSE FOR THEIR CAREER PATH?
When your mindset only understands how to be a winner, when challenges come they don't stop you but make you stronger."
Eden: "When I speak to girls I tell them to develop a mindset that everything is possible and nothing is impossible. Regardless of the circumstances, everything is attainable. And hard work is the partner to this mindset. When your mindset only understands how to be a winner, when challenges come they don't stop you but make you stronger."
Ellisa: "Master how you communicate uniquely to your personality. I’m a true introvert and even though I wasn’t the loudest in the room or wouldn’t talk to a million people at a networking event I was able to create strong personal and business relationships by communicating in my own style. I learned quality over quantity and naturally nurtured the connections I had to make them extremely solid. Every mentor has become family and has taught me numerous life and business lessons. I would say learn your strengths and make them work for you."
LADIES FIRST: WHAT IS MOST REWARDING ABOUT BEING THE ENTREPRENEUR BEHIND C.O.R.E. MAGAZINE THAT MAKES IT ALL WORTHWHILE?
Ellisa: "I absolutely love the quote that states to be the person you needed when you were younger! I love the fact that I see myself in these amazing teen girls and when I’m writing or speaking to them it’s as if I get a second chance to pass down wisdom I would’ve shared with a younger Ellisa. And I love encouraging them to not lose their sparkle on the road to their dreams!"
Eden: "The most rewarding thing about being the entrepreneur behind C.O.R.E Magazine is seeing our girls take this opportunity given to them and shining. All people, not just the girls, just need an opportunity created for them in order for them to become successful. Our teens join C.O.R.E and get opportunities to speak to great women in their interest, express themselves through writing, and create their ideal environment."
reflections & lessons
LADIES FIRST: IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF, TO THAT GIRL AT AGE 15, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR THEN YOUNGER SELF ABOUT SELF-LOVE AND RESPECT?
Eden: "I would tell my 15 yr. old self it's okay and that you are fine just the way you are. I would tell her to stop comparing yourself to others and tearing yourself apart. And to understand where she is in life is not the end because there's so much life to live. And even though she may feel not comfort or acceptance in her current state, that she will definitely feel it once she is able to fully accept all of herself as a person."
Ellisa: "Stay true to yourself and never play small in order to make others feel better about themselves. I would reassure her that every goal and dream you have is obtainable with self-discipline, a clear mind and an open heart. I would tell her to always protect her spirit and creativity. To always keep your trust in God."
LADIES FIRST: WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?
Ellisa: "I’m most proud of starting and growing C.O.R.E because it’s such a reflection of my sister and I. It’s a platform where my creativity can flourish while making an impact. I believe that’s a powerful moment in life when your passion and talents collide in order to give back + impact your community."
Eden: "One of my proudest moments is being a Black female engineer and developing my own business with my sister."
LADIES FIRST: HOW DO YOU KEEP A HEALTHY WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Eden: "Healthy work/life balance was hard to develop at the beginning, because you feel obligated to complete everything at the same time. However, I have learned to say 'No' to things that just do not work with my schedule and take time for myself. I learned this from my sister. Being a co-founder with my sister is a blessing because we understand each other and know what we need to give to each other to support us through our journey."
Ellisa: "Balance is key. Since both my career and C.O.R.E allows me to work from home, work can go into overload. I focus on my career doing the day and C.O.R.E in the evening. Sometimes, I’ll give myself a time to shut down and unwind. I’ve learned it’s better to create when you’re fresh sometimes than to constantly having late nights and not putting your best work out."
LADIES FIRST: CAN WOMEN IN FACT. HAVE IT ALL?
Ellisa: "Absolutely! I believe women can reach their dreams, raise a family and do anything else their heart desires. The key is letting go of the timing of when we can have it or how it will look. If you trust the timing of your life everything will fall into place."
Eden: "Women definitely can have it all. Again, everything is possible. I look forward to continue being a business woman and seeing C.O.R.E develop. I see myself being a wife and mother in the future. My mother and millions of women have shown me that it is possible to be a career women, wife, and mother."
LADIES FIRST: WHEN YOU THINK OF THE FUTURE AND THE KIND OF WORK YOU HAVE DESCRIBED WITH THE C.O.R.E MAGAZINE MOVEMENT WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE & PRIDE WITH THE FUTURE GENERATION?
Eden: "What gives me hope is when I speak with the girls and you can see how their mindsets have changed once they are exposed to the world outside of their day to day environment, and they start thinking big. They not only see their possibilities are unlimited, but understand this concept as well."
Ellisa: "The up and coming generation is proud of who they are and owning their identity. They get to grow up with more women of color in a variety of powerful positions. The power of seeing women who like you at that age reaffirms who you are and encourages you to be your true self."
LADIES FIRST: AND FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF THEM ALL, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
Eden: "I honestly love that I love myself. And I have finally become comfortable in who I am and I understand me."
Ellisa: "The absolute best compliment I receive is when someone tells me I have a beautiful spirit. I literally stand there in awe! Beauty fades and knowledge is great but for someone to be able to see and feel my spirit means the world to me because it’s a spark of a genuine connection. I love that I can connect to the root of people and have an open spirit to learn who they are as an individual."
LADIES FIRST: LADIES THANK YOU SO MUCH, THAT WAS PERFECT!