Thank you to all of our applicants, and congratulations to our 2022 Black History Makers!
Founder of Vaila
Ahriana Edwards is the founder of Vaila Shoes, a business lifestyle shoe retailer for women with extended shoe sizes. She established Vaila in 2021 with a vision to give feminine power back to women of forgotten shoe sizes, while redefining beauty and retail standards with inclusivity in the footwear space.
At her core, she’s motivated by leaving a generational legacy and aims to use her innovative mindset and creativity toward positive social impact for the undervalued, underestimated, and underrepresented.
As a solo founder, she’s participated in accelerators such as Techstars and Black Ambition and has used her background in sales and entrepreneurship to raise over $70,000 in non-dilutive funding before she launched. Additionally, affiliation with organizations such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, SXSW, Future Founders (to name a few) and professional roles within Toyota, Nestle, and Facebook have further prepared her for success. entrepreneurship to raise over $70,000 in non-dilutive funding for her venture before she launched. In addition, her affiliations with organizations such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, SXSW, Future Founders (to name a few) and professional roles within Toyota, Nestle, and Facebook has prepared her for such success.
A few years ago, Charita Snow, founder of BLNK SPCE Designs, was disappointed by how few stationery companies represented Black women. The few that did only offered one or two skin tones, one body type, one hairstyle, and the most basic clothing. While those may be a good fit for some, many Black women would be hard pressed to find items in which they saw themselves.
Because of this, Charita began making custom stationery herself. After a few years of fulfilling the growing demand from friends and family to include the items in their gift baskets, BLNK SPCE Designs was created to help fill that void for those outside of her own circle.
BSD aims to provide paper goods and stationery that depicts the varying uniqueness of Black women. Charita wants every woman to see herself accurately reflected in every aspect of her lifep-even in something as simple as stationery.
Founder of BLNK SPCE Designs
Alyson Calloway, MBA CPLC
Founder & CEO, The Mamas Movement LLC
Founder of the Mamas Movement LLC, Alyson Calloway is a Certified Professional Life Coach & Business Strategist, motivational speaker, author, member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., graduate of Cornell University’s Women in Entrepreneurship program, and mother to her incredible three-year old son, Thomas.
The Mamas Movement LLC is dedicated to creating a community that allows mothers to challenge and sharpen each other in areas of faith and family. Alyson also founded The Purpose Pact, a company that provides coaching and consulting services to aid budding “mompreneurs” on their respective journeys.
With over seven years of experience in corporate America, Alyson is backed with strong business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and operations knowledge. And while all of these accolades are core to who she is, she is nothing without Jesus. He is the lover of her soul. Alyson believes that we rise by lifting others and has continually transformed lives through coaching, consulting, mentoring, speaking, and sharing the good news.
She makes every opportunity to inspire worthwhile and is honored to have spoken on the following platforms: The Today Show, Congressional Black Caucus, Moms Against Racism & Women of Distinction Conference, FAMUly Talk TV, Flourish in Purpose Summit, and Workshop Host for Bossy Mom Summit. On any given day you can catch her motivating mothers to walk in their God-given authority or simply trying not to fall over her Thomas’ toys!
Originally from Gary, Indiana, Brittney Boxx is an Indianapolis-based full-time visual artist and creative entrepreneur practicing professionally for approximately 5 years. Her brand Boxx The Artist synthesizes interactive art through paintings, digital art, and installations.
Boxx’s visual artwork uses acrylic, digital, mixed mediums, and public installations to capture different elements of life from the African diaspora while promoting health, wealth, wellness, and celebrating Blackness.
She aims to share interactive art and offer art that serves as a connector of community. Boxx has been included in a host of exhibits and installed various murals throughout Indianapolis, participating in the High Art Billboard Project, Murals for Racial Justice Project, and the Indy Art & Seek with her community interactive mural installation at the Martindale-Brightwood Library.
Boxx The Artist
Visual Artist, Creative Entrepreneur
“Cititrends, thank you for your generous contribution to the Prommi-Mommi Foundation’s vision, motivating our youth to be the best version of themselves and become diverse leaders of our future.”
Founder & President, Prommi-Mommi Foundation
Ms. Chandra Smith is the founder and president of the Prommi-Mommi Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides resources and support to less privileged teenagers.
Currently a Human Factors Scientist with the Air Traffic Organization, she has previously served as a Safety Inspector with Aviation Safety and an Air Traffic Controller. She is also an Air Force veteran. With many years of experience as a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) coach and mentor, she loves educating and exposing youth to aviation careers.
Ms. Smith is passionate about making a positive impact on society by providing less privileged teenagers with the opportunity to develop personal and professional skills. Through the Foundation’s Professional Development Program, Life Skills Program, STEAM in Transportation Program, and “Go Girl” Program, she motivates students to be the best version of themselves and become diverse leaders of our future.
Ken Walker is a daring change agent from Detroit, MI, actively finding transformative ways to cultivate power within all young professionals.
Through the evolution of his high-street, lifestyle clothing company K. Walker Collective, he alleviates the barriers of self-expression through the tagline: Tailor Your True Self. His brand offers an eclectic range of street, comfort and refined garments for the audacious individual.
Beyond business, Ken’s core passions are in mental wellness, social activism and DE+I, discovering progressive practices and initiatives that inspire people with actionable motivation and service to our local inner cities.
Founder & Head Designer, K. Walker Collective
Founder & Executive Director, The Black Period(t) Project
From Fayetteville, North Carolina, Lena Vann is a senior Honors Supply Chain student at North Carolina A&T State University. As a product of a single mother, immigrant household, she has seen first-hand the importance of community, and her life mission is to give back to that Black community.
A graduate of Florida A&M University and NOVA Southeastern University, teacher and author Rekia Beverly earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education (FAMU) and Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction (NOVA). After college Beverly began her teaching career. While reading to her class one day, she had an “aha” moment, realizing that none of the books she was reading acknowledged the teacher or the teacher’s feelings.
That’s when her curiosity turned into accomplishing her dreams. Beverly created the Mrs. Ashbury book series to empower students and educators, being the first African American woman to have a series with the main character as a Black female teacher.
Mrs. Ashbury and many of the experiences she shares with her students are modeled after Beverly’s own experience as a teacher. She would like to show readers that, like their students, teachers can be just as excited, unsure and learn lessons throughout the school year. She wants the world to see teaching from the teacher’s perspective.
Teacher, Author, Founder of Mrs. Ashbury’s World
“Being a recipient of the Citi Trends Black History Makers Grant is a blessing beyond belief! The grant couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m grateful for the opportunity and inspired by the other grantees.”
Owner of Rise House Fitness Studio
Shayna Sangster is the owner of Rise House Fitness Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana. A gymnast and Division 1 Track & Field athlete, she has always loved fitness and took over the studio in 2018. Rise House offers group fitness classes, primarily focused on spin classes. She wants to bring wellness to every person who walks into the studio, believing that people can fulfill their God-given purpose by tapping into the best version of themselves.
A Lansing, Michigan native, Shayna graduated from Western Michigan University (B.A.) and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (MBA). In addition to running the studio, she works as the Director of Marketing for the local WNBA team, the Indiana Fever, and serves on the Board of the Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School and Women in Sports & Events (WISE).
I went to prison for 51 months for a drug charge and got out April 9th, 2009. I didn’t want to go back, so I thought about getting my commercial driver’s license. Well, procrastinating is the #1 dream killer, so I didn’t reach that goal until December 2019.
While in class I wanted to start a trucking company, but companies that had been in business since the 60s were going out of business due to high insurance rates. I started following content creators on YouTube and bought a course through freight broker.
After seeing a few videos, the creator said, ‘coming soon: truck driving school’, and a lightbulb went off. This got me thinking–if I tore down communities to make money, then why not help build them back up by putting folks on a career path, allowing them to make great money, not sell drugs & combat recidivism? From that came Ryan’s Place Trucking School. To sum it all up, you will never know how big GOD’S plan is until you keep pushing, He made a way out of no way and I’m beyond grateful!