Author: Loren Leath

#BlackVeterinarians Initiative

Though AAC’s mission is to educate and advocate for the health and well-being of assistance animals, as a company, it is dedicated to advocating and pursuing equality and justice. 

Founder, Rhesa Houston DVM, states, “As conscientious members of society who understand the long history of racism and the value of social change and social justice movements, we support and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. We are committed to doing our part in educating, promoting, and advocating for social justice within Black and Brown communities as well as other marginalized groups.”   

Veterinary medicine is one of the largest fields that lacks diversity. In an effort to raise awareness of this lack of diversity, Dr. Houston began the #BlackVeterinarians initiative, where she will give black and brown veterinarians a platform to speak about their experiences and tell their stories on being an underrepresented minority in the veterinary field. She hopes to raise awareness to the younger generations as well and encourage them to pursue veterinary medicine, no matter their skin color or background. 

Assistance Animals Consulting is a one-of-a-kind consulting firm of licensed veterinarians who provide education and training on healthy, safe environments for assistance animals and their owners in order to make the animal-human bond successful. Dr. Houston founded the company after her father was prescribed an assistance animal by his cardiologist. To her surprise, he was not given education or the recommended resources needed when prescribed an assistance animal. This realization shed light on the gap that needed to be bridged between assistance animals, their owners, and doctors and thus created Assistance Animals Consulting. 

Each week, Assistance Animals Consulting will feature a different story that highlights the need for diversity in veterinary medicine and speaks to the experience of black and brown veterinarians. You can find these stories on AAC’s social media pages, as well as their blog which are linked below.

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8 Black-Owned Businesses to Support in Birmingham

One simple way to promote diversity and inclusiveness in our community is to support Birmingham’s local black-owned businesses. Here are eight businesses run by women in the Birmingham area you can support today. 

Food

Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co.

Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. puts a fun spin on a classic snack. Tanesha Sims-Summers, founder and CEO, describes her company as being, “…known for PoPing addictive handcrafted kettle corn. All of our flavors are lightly sweet and lightly salted to give each flavor a unique and distinctive taste. We strive to create an experience that families, friends, PoPcorn and kettle corn lovers will never forget. We keep it interestingly different! We love PoPping up at community events, special events, weddings, corporate and university events, birthday parties or on your couch for a Friday Movie Night! It’s Not Just Popcorn with Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co., It’s FUN, FRESH & FESTIVE; from the hand crafted flavors to our commitment to PoPpin with a Purpose with our community partners, our team is always finding ways to make the world a sweeter place one kernel at a time.”

Where: 5363 1st Ave N Birmingham, Al 35212

Contact: (205) 915-2528

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CakEffect

Photo by Mike Tomberlin, Alabama NewsCenter

The owner/operator and master cake artist of CakEffect, Komeh O. Davis, has a true passion for art that spills over into her cake creations. She describes her company as being, “…the little cake shop with a grand effect. We specialize in custom designer cakes for many events or occasions. With a background in visual arts, canvas art is transformed to cake. All cakes are baked to order and to the customer’s specifications. CakEffect specializes in sculpted two-dimensional and three-dimensional cakes. CakEffect provides beautiful, delicious cakes to many satisfied customers each year. We have an association of artists and bakers who are capable of meeting personal and corporate needs. Our deliciously moist, artistic, and elegantly designed cakes will be remembered by you, your family and friends as a wonderful touch to your event.”

Where: 1021 Brock’s Gap Parkway Suite 109 Hoover, Al. 35244

Contact: (205) 803-5669

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Drexell & Honeybee’s

Drexell & Honeybee’s is a donation only restaurant with the mission of, “we feed the need.” They serve hot plates to everyone whether they can afford it or not. The owner, Lisa Thomas-McMillan says that, “food is about the joy of serving others.” There isn’t a price tag on any of their meals or even suggested prices. Customers only pay what they can whether that be a small or large donation or even just a thank you. When you enter their restaurant, “you’ll walk past booths and four-tops full of cornbread, fried chicken, and collard greens.” With food this tasty, you’ll find yourself craving it every day.

Where: 109 Lee Street Brewton, AL 36426

Contact: (251) 727-2411

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Services

The Curated Arch

The Curated Arch is Birmingham’s premier permanent makeup studio. The owner, Kim Thompson, says, “my mission at The Curated Arch is to help women feel their most beautiful! I don’t take this lightly. It’s truly an honor to work with every single client.” They specialize in lashes, brows, and skincare, relying on over twenty years of experience and training. Why choose her services? Her “method and tools have been meticulously designed and redesigned to aid their trained artists in producing very precise hairstrokes, perfect symmetry, and a beautiful eyebrow shape that goes with the natural shape of their client’s face and bone structure.” They also choose to use products with great ingredients that won’t harm your skin!

Where: Inside Phenix Salon Suites at 709 Montgomery Highway Suite 101 Birmingham, AL 35216

Contact: (205) 533-1726

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SisterGolf

Photo by Eric & Jamie Gay

SisterGolf not only teaches women how to play golf, but it also instructs women on how to use their knowledge of the game to their advantage in their professional lives. The owner, Shella Sylla, says, “The mission of SisterGolf is to expose and educate female business professionals on how they can use golf as a tool for developing mutually beneficial business relationships, and creating connections for professional advancement in the Corporate workplace.” What a great way to multitask!

You can schedule your next appointment with SisterGolf here.

Where: 2539 John Hawkins Parkway, #329 Hoover, AL 35244

Contact: (205) 564-2040

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Valia Rose Events

Valia Rose Events is a full service event planning company that specializes in events from weddings to corporate functions. The owner, Joanna Sheppard, says, “Valia Rose Events creates custom, seamless and sophisticated event planning experiences for each of our clients. Because we forge a bond with our clients, The details cultivated into our designs reflect the personal styles of our clients. Every logistical element serves a purpose for a celebration that speaks to you, your family and your guests for generations to come. Valia Rose Events provides a high touch collaborative approach to the planning process. Our distinctive full service planning , design and management services guarantee a perfect event production.”

Expanding on the background of her business, Sheppard explains, “Planning an intimate event for a dear friend as a hobby later resulted in the conception of Valia Rose Events. The organic growth emerged from the desire to create magical moments, enlightened guest experiences and memories to last a lifetime. There is love poured into every Valia Rose fete that attracts clients worldwide.”

Where: 240 Oxmoor Circle Suite 106 Homewood, AL 35209

Contact: (205) 421-9656

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Retail

Yogi DaDa

With southern roots and a northern upbringing, Yolanda Carter, best known as Yogi, has been exposed to many different cultures and art forms that can be seen throughout her work. Yogi DaDa specializes in hand painted wooden earrings, but since establishing her business in 2012, her art has expanded into various forms such as canvas pieces, prints, custom ties, cufflinks and more. In addition to her art, Carter is also a poet, Emmy nominated vocalist, sign language artist, public speaker, teacher, and Djembe (African drum) player. To say she’s well-rounded would be an understatement. 

Contact: (205) 266-4921

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Janelle’s Attic Gold

The old saying that, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” was taken to heart by Janelle Sweeney as she created Janelle’s Attic Gold, a retail store where you can find all things vintage including clothing, furniture, and decor. Each item she finds has a story from the past, waiting for you to give it new life. Her eclectic assortment will add charm to any space or wardrobe. 

Do you get overwhelmed sifting through large thrift and antique stores? Janelle has already done the hard work for you with organized selections of dishware, dresses, furniture, and more!

Where: 1904 2nd Ave N, Bessemer, AL 35020

Contact: (205) 213-2858

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