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Aliyah Dastour Builds a Lucrative Business During a Recession

A recession is a major drop in economic activity and can last for months—or years, in the worst case. Authorities announce a recession when a country’s economy struggles, experiences a negative gross domestic product (GDP), a high level of unemployment, manufacturers make fewer sales, and the nation’s inclusive economic productivity goes down. Recessions are an inevitable share of the business cycle and depend on multiple factors, such as an unexpected economic shock, asset bubbles, too much inflation/deflation, high-tech change, and unwarranted debt. 

Aliyah Dastour lost her job during the last recession. Unfortunately, she also lost her marriage as she divorced her husband around the same time. With her growing need to make a living and feed and care for her young daughter, she shifted to Virginia and secured a job in an afterschool program, ‘Casa,’ where she would take care of kids whose parents were working and couldn’t pick them up straight after school. She used to earn $17 per hour, which was not even enough to cover her bills, causing her to illegally bring her daughter to work to cut down on babysitter costs.

Aliyah was a supervisor at Casa for four years and loved her job—she enjoyed the work and loved kids. She needed a camera to take photos of her daughter and saved up $500 to purchase it, eventually buying one off Craigslist. Aliyah would take the camera to work, snap pictures of the kids, forward them to their parents, and print out portraits. This aroused the passion she had for portrait photography since she was a teenager. The kids’ parents were fascinated with her work, would pay her for the pics, and even invite her on location to take more of them—and the rest is history.

Aliyah is now a headshot photographer, has been in business for over a decade, and opened up multiple studios in the Northern Virginia area. She is also helping other photographers do the same. What makes Aliyah’s work unique is that she not only focuses on headshots—she makes her money serving clients while teaching/coaching. “We also focus on our numbers without including physical products to sell like most high ticket photographers, and we offer digital images,” Aliyah states.

Aliyah’s entrepreneurship journey, however, has not been a bed of roses. Luckily, she

worked through it and overcame the challenges. She is quoted saying, “At the beginning of my business, we were living month to month while I was trying to support my family. From having my car repoed to not being able to afford a coffee at networking events to hoping, as it was a holiday weekend, they wouldn’t turn off the electricity since the bill was overdue. I overcame this by trusting in the journey and working from 4 am to 8 pm trying to do it all.”

Aliyah has successfully opened two studios in the DMV area and recently launched a

community project called The Loudoun 100 Project. She has also built a successful business as a studio portrait/headshot photographer and donated over $100K to the community through nonprofits. Aliyah envisions over 1,000 other photographers using the system she has built to help them reach the freedom she finally has in life. She also plans to travel the world building hospitals and orphanages, something she has dreamed of doing since she was a little girl.

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Business

How Karen Hite Co-founded An INC 5000 Agency & Manages Over 200 Employees

Entrepreneurship is difficult, and even more so concerning startups. In addition to trust and synergy amongst founding members, gender diversity within core teams is essential for establishing successful organizations.

Trust

There is no common strategy for assembling the ideal startup team. The overwhelming consensus, however, is that female co-founders might be a fantastic benefit for any firm since they bring various perspectives, experiences, and thought processes to the boardroom.

Trust was never an issue between JC and Karen. They had been friends, partners, and confidants and even started a family together out of mutual trust.

Necessity

Out of need, they devised the plan to run their digital agency together, and as a result, they swore to be there for each other every step of the way. JC identified Karen as a source of novel approaches to problem-solving and various leadership styles that provided diverse perspectives on specific tasks and activities. She sought excellence with persistence and courage while injecting a ray of perspective diversity into their startup, which was essential for making better judgments and drawing in top talent.

Analytics

Karen Hite brought an analytical mindset to the operations of Hite. She was pregnant when they began, but women are skilled at juggling multiple responsibilities. Karen was still incredibly essential in managing the tiny crew they began with. Between JC’s competitive character in the agency’s daily operations and Karen’s natural tranquility in the face of volatility, it seemed like she constantly shifted and produced a sense of equilibrium in operations and relations.

Heart

She is the company’s “heart.” Continually engaging in lucrative negotiations. She managed the cash flow at the beginning before the finance sector was created, and she is still involved with it today. Karen is incredibly brazen and inventive. During the franchising process that HITE has been undergoing, she handled the process with ease while intuitively and effectively monitoring market conditions. She gives great vitality to the discourse, is self-deprecatingly humorous, and constantly focuses on the future. 

Resourcefulness

Hite Digital has a nursery and daycare because of her ingenuity, making it one of the first companies in the sector to introduce women-friendly facilities. Consequently, the women with whom she works feel motivated and empowered. No wonder she has no trouble managing over 200 employees. They are all already on her side and would gladly take delegation at her discourse.

She has had challenges come her way, especially because she has had to balance her work and motherhood, but she has eventually come to the stage where she understands how she is empowering her children by retaining her role at Hite. She would never give any of it up. If anything, her business and family have interjected perfectly to fill her life and give it meaning. She is a wonderful woman.

For more information about the Hites and how they have been able to manage their employees, you can visit this website, or have a chat on LinkedIn. 

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Influencer Press First-Ever Event at Notoriety in Las Vegas

On September 11th, we went bigger by hosting an event at the Notoriety in Las Vegas. The event was mind-blowing, as it was a hive of excitement, engagement, and inspiration. We got to talk about Influencer Press and how our work is more than just working with major publications. What’s more, other Latin entrepreneurs took to the stage to talk about their experiences and offer golden nuggets of advice. 

The show was big, and we plan to go bigger in the not-too-distant future. Yet the show would not have been a success without the involvement of Notoriety’s team. 

Notoriety is a premier Las Vegas live performance venue. The platform consists of seven individual performance theaters ranging from 60 to 250 seats, two 5,000 sq. ft. performance bars, and a 4,500 sq. ft. Members-only VIP Lounge and event space. Located in the downtown side of Sin City, Notoriety is ingeniously placed at the famous Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. The number of major events that have been held on this platform is endless. Celebrities such as Clint Holmes, Jeremy Piven, Darrell Hammond, Zowie Bowie, Reckless in Vegas, Aussie Heat, Chase Brown, and the cast of Faabulous, Justin Young, Jonathan Karrant, Linda Marcus, Vincent John, and more. Holding an event on such a great platform was truly an exciting time for us as we became part of that history. 

No glitch-Pure Awesomeness 

Notoriety has built a reputation as a hotspot for fabulous shows. There’s never a dull moment at Notoriety Live as a diverse range of musicians, comedians and actors perform Live. Thousands of people across America visit Notoriety for Live music, comedy, plays and live performance. Notoriety also hosts live virtual events. As their tagline states, Notoriety is where you discover the undiscovered. This tagline is true; we experienced the same revelation when we hosted our event. 

Every element of Notoriety wowed us, from the food, lights, orchestration, ambience, equipment and support team. The music transported us and our audience to where we wanted to be-in, that dimension of success where you realize that you have the power to succeed. There was no glitch or temporary setback. Rather, the event was a hive of audience engagement as every step played out as we had planned. In fact, everything went beyond our expectations, and we finally realized there were not enough five-star ratings on the trip advisor for this amazing place. 

Anyone planning to host an event at Notoriety gets to work with Ken Henderson. Ken is the CEO of Notoriety Live and is in charge of creating the events’ entertainment concepts, production, and overall management. Ken’s unmatched enthusiasm and attention to detail are likely one of the reasons each event goes on seamlessly. No doubt everything Ken touches turns into a success. 

Ken and his team are out-of-the-box thinkers with the knowledge and experience to deliver memorable events. It was a pleasure working with and learning from them. 

More events our way

We definitely plan to have more events where we get to engage with our audience and impart life-changing knowledge. You can keep tabs on us through our social media sites. We hope to see you in our upcoming events as we plan to go bigger. 

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Business

Celestial: A Brand Manifested into Reality

Celestial co-founder Desiree Schlotz is a self-driven and work-comes-first kind of woman. What started as a one-million follower mark on Instagram soon turned into her dream business. Alongside her best friend and business partner, Jessica Ghishan, Desiree has turned her passion for spirituality and fashion into a swimwear brand. Celestial is a brand that focuses on pairing strong, beautiful, and confident women with swimwear pieces that resonate with them. With Celestial, they hope to ignite women’s inner goddesses. 

The pair of best friends bonded over their love for spirituality for years before creating Celestial. Desiree has owned an oracle deck for about three years with spiritual goddesses on each card from which the pair drew inspiration from. Aside from feeling inspired by the deck, Desiree mentioned that they’re always talking about gratitude, journaling, and manifestation, which also led them to create the spirituality themed swimwear line. Although the pieces cater to a more spiritual audience, Desiree hopes everyone can enjoy the pieces regardless of the spiritual aspect. 

Even though Desiree is an experienced model, she previously had no idea what it entailed to create a company. She mentioned looking to her previous works to learn more about the business side for creating Celestial. Desiree also noted the importance of keeping everything eco-friendly. Her main concern came when considering fabrics. 

“I was really into trying to find the right fabrics because I really wanted to use sustainable fabrics,” she said. “Just because I’ve been a model for so long and I know how much fast fashion really hurts the climate and adds so much pollution. So by using eco-sustainable fabrics, I feel like we’re leaving somewhat of a good carbon footprint as well.” 

The spirituality-inspired swimwear company’s next move is to expand to Asia. Desiree noted that they plan on shooting a campaign there sometime soon. Celestial hopes to reach a broader audience in the Philippines by starting promotions there. As Desiree is half Filipino, she is especially excited to potentially work on Philippines-inspired pieces in the future. 

Currently, Celestial is focusing on its release for a 2023 summer one-piece. A key consideration behind the upcoming piece was to listen to the audience. Desiree mentioned that after the company’s first release, there was a lot of feedback asking for more coverage in the swimsuits. As Celestial’s goal is to create something women can truly connect with, Desiree and Jessica took note and plan to deliver. Even though the summer swimsuit provides more coverage, Celestial plans to keep its token appearance of spiritual, yet sexy and appealing. This swimsuit will also be the first piece released from Celestial’s next collection, Ethereal.

“I don’t really wear one-pieces personally that often but if it’s a good one, and it’s cut out right, I might. I feel like we are going to create one that is suitable for everybody, you know, all shapes and sizes. So that’s the goal.” said Desiree. 

Ethereal is set for release sometime in 2024. The collection will focus on introducing reversible bikinis to their audience. Desiree mentioned that as a contrast from Celestial’s first release, this collection plans to bring really bright yet deep tones to the swimwear pieces. Celestial aims to create pieces that make every woman feel like she can connect with her inner self.



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