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Saidah Nairobi: From Dance Career To Musical Artist

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Saidah Nairobi

Not everyone gets to go on tour with Beyoncé, but not only does Saidah Nairobi tour with Queen Bey, she’s one of her longtime dancers. Saidah does not have any formal training, however persevered through her passion to perform. Along with Beyoncé, she has danced back-up for Usher, Ciara, and Ne-Yo, touring the world and has performed at the Grammys, MTV VMA’s, Ellen, The View, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to name a few. Adding on to her accomplishments, Saidah is releasing her debut single, “We Are,” created to inspire and empower those who listen to the song. Saidah opens up to Owner’s Magazine about her dance career, her debut single, and what motivates her to continue creating as an artist.

How did you get into dancing?

Saidah Nairobi – I’ve always loved the arts, and attended a performing arts high school in Atlanta, so dance and music have been in my life for a long time.

What inspires you?

Saidah Nairobi – Music, innovative people, creative performances, dancers, my personal and professional relationships, cheerful givers, nature, writing, spiritual guidance.

Who do you look up to?

Saidah Nairobi – The Word of God, my husband, my mother, pioneers and innovators in social movements, poetry, and the arts like Coretta Scott King, Maya Angelou, and Debbie Allen, and iconic entertainers like Beyonce and Michael Jackson.

Why did you decide to make dancing a career?

Saidah Nairobi – I knew I was passionate about music, dance, and performing. And at the time of my decision, I was in college studying to become an elementary education teacher, but I knew that as much I wanted to be a teacher, there had to be a way I could one day incorporate it into my other passions. Dance was my first pursuit, and ultimately became my career, but I knew that there would be more to my journey because there was more that I loved.

Who are some of your favorite artists you’ve danced for?

Saidah Nairobi – Ciara has become a good friend of mine, we are like family, and she has always had a special place in my heart because it was her and her choreographer, Jamaica Craft, that inspired my dance career greatly. They are the reason I felt there was a place for me in the dance industry. NeYo is also like family, from day one he embraced me like he’d known me all my life. Always positive energy when he’s around, and he just knows how to make everyone in the room feel at home.

Do you have any tours coming up?

Saidah Nairobi – I anticipate doing a book tour for my upcoming dance memoir titled, ‘The Journey of A Dream,’ that will be released in spring 2017. Also, a promo tour once my EP is complete.

What do you do during your off time?

Saidah Nairobi – I spend quality time with my husband, my poodle Juicy, my family, friends, sing on the praise/worship team at my best friend’s church, and build towards actualizing the goals of my family.

Saidah Nairobi, Describe your day to day.

Saidah Nairobi – Every day is different. I do not have a routine lifestyle lol. Today for example, I am answering these questions while away in the mountains of Tennessee. Another day I’ll be in the studio recording. Another day is full of meetings, another day packing to fly out to work.

What is some advice you can give to aspiring dancers?

Saidah Nairobi – My advice for aspiring dancers is to establish clear goals for yourself first. It’s one thing to aspire to dance, but once you realize your dream, what is next? What are your 5-year goals? 10-year? Write your visions down and make them plain. Be a visionary. Study your favorite dancers, favorite tours, favorite artists, and understand what it takes to become a professional dancer. Make sure you are physically strong and skilled to compete with the top dancers in the industry. And, put yourself out there. Social media is the most powerful discovery tool today. Use it to be creative and show your skills. You never know who is watching and looking for talent.

Describe the “We Are” project.

Saidah Nairobi – On the way home one night, my husband and I were listening to Nigerian musician, FelaKuti, and something about the horns we were hearing felt like a call to action. There was so much going on in the news about police brutality and African-American males lives being senselessly taken, I got inspired to write a song that speaks about the power and potential in us as a community. A song that is uplifting, that speaks truth, and also serves as positive affirmations to speak over yourself, your children, your family. We Are Trail-Blazers, We Are Game-Changers, We Are Way-Makers. We Are. We Are Dream-Weavers, We Are Light-Holders, We Are Love Soldiers. We Are. We Are God’s Children, We Are Truth-Seeking. We Are Peace-Driven. We Are.

Who is your ideal audience?

Saidah Nairobi – Men, women, children of all ages, races, and creed. “We Are,” is a globally uplifting song. It’s a song for anyone that wants and needs to feel positive, feel moved, feel inspired.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Saidah Nairobi – I see myself being an ambassador for good causes, being known as a community leader in Atlanta, creating opportunities for young people, reaching homes around the world through art, and expanding my family.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

Business

Dreampad: Sleep Technology That Calms Anxiety

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Some people can fall asleep anywhere in any situation. Unfortunately for others, that is not the case. Randall Redfield, Co-Founder of Dreampad is trying to solve this problem. He appeared on Shark Tank to pitch Dreampad. Not only did he create a pillow, Randall Redfield is on a mission to create products that uses neurotechnology to improve brain function. Dreampad is a pillow that converts music into vibrations that travels internally to your inner ear at prices starting at $149. It can be set to play your favorite soothing music or even sounds of waves as it guides your mind into relaxation. You can control the volume, music, and timer through an app. They even allow you to test out the music for Dreampad so you’ll know exactly which one is right for you.

What’s fascinating is the technology and science behind the pillow. You’ve heard of devices like the Fitbit measuring your sleep, but Dreampad has a goal to put you to sleep. As stated on their Kickstarter, “The Dreampad plays music through Intrasound Technology™, which converts sound into gentle vibrations that travel directly to your inner ear. This process signals the nervous system to relax, calming your body and mind. It’s safe, comfortable for all ages, supported by research, and it works.” Not only that, but they also make the music in-house for the Dreampad, like their rhythmic breathing breathing program that mimics the sound of a wave.

There may be nights where you’re stressed about your startup, thinking about how to get your next 100 customers or how you will make your employees lives easier. The best thing to do in this situation is usually to relax so you can tackle those business details with an open mind. Startup leaders suffer from multiple levels of anxiety. The technology that Dreampad introduced is trying to cure your sleepless nights. The Dreampad pillow is scientifically proven to reduce stress and engage the nervous system’s relaxation response. So instead of sitting at your desk at home basking in the glow of your computer, take a moment to free your mind.

 

We gave the pillow a try to see if it lives up to the hype. And, IT DOES! The music is very much contained to the pillow itself, and anyone laying next to you will not be able to hear it. It works in any sleeping position, so you don’t have to alter how you sleep. We received the medium Dreampad and it was delightfully fully and comfortable. It was like sinking into a cloud while listening to beach waves. The bluetooth option is fantastic if you don’t want your phone directly next to you. The only concern was having a pillowcase to fit the pillow. Not only is there a fear of getting it dirty, but it always makes your hair staticky. However, the material feels very high-end and soft to the touch. Overall, Dreampad really helped with falling asleep and decreasing anxieties.

It may take a few tries before getting use to the Dreampad pillow, as with any pillow. Knowing your favorite type of pillow is key when choosing one that fits your comfort. Dreampad comes in slim, medium, firm, and memory foam. Because of the technology that’s inside the pillow, it cannot be machine washed, so having a pillow case for it is something to keep in mind. As the hard-working entrepreneur that you are, it’s definitely worth a try. There are many things that you need to think about during the day. Figuring out how to fall asleep should not be one of them.

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Events

Interview with a Street Artist: Joe Mangrum, the Sand Painter

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joe mangrum

While walking through any given park in New York, what type of creative would you expect to encounter?  There are all the predictable performers such as guitarists, perhaps a living statue, and of course the young break dancers bouncing around the halls of subway cars or gathering crowds in the park before jumping over some poor tourist’s kid.  No one would be surprised to see these type of performers in any given city in America. What about someone who pours sand on the ground? No… not a sandcastle.  What if you walked down the street and saw something like this:

joe mangrum

This insane and psychedelic pattern is what I saw one day walking through Washington Square Park while looking for the world’s largest Corgi Meetup (that’s a story for another day).  Above the geometrically complex shape growing on the ground, I saw a man hunched over his hands dusty with grains of many colors, adding more orbiting patterns to the piece. His name was Joe Mangrum. Joe makes some badass pieces of temporary art, fragile patterns that most often take the form of intricate mandalas.  Here’s what he had to say about his experiences as a street artist:

1.  When we met you mentioned you’ve been doing this for 6 years now.  What were you doing before and at what moment did you decide you would do this full time?

I’ve been making art pretty much all my life and found my signature style about 1994, art has never really been a choice but a necessity and I worked various gigs in between art projects up until 2009 after I had moved to New York, determined to make it work.  It was then I started colored sand paintings in public and that gave me the bread and butter token making art on a daily basis without taking outside work.  Full time has always been the goal, and now its just managing bigger projects within that framework.

2.  Which do you like better and why: creating art in a studio or creating art in public spaces like Washington Square Park?

I like both for very different reasons. The public space allows for an interaction in real time with people who are not necessarily the type that go to art galleries, they have spontaneous reactions that are real insightful in ways, they inform me and feed me with lively discussion, on the flip-side there are plenty of people that are just walking on their phone and not paying attention that can be destructive to such a delicate work.  The studio offers the freedom of time.I can spend as long asI want on a single piece of work…  you just can’t go that deep and make changes with the limited time set by the sun wind and weather in the public space. Its gotta be swept away when I leave for the day.

3.  While working in public spaces, what was your best/most surprising experience?

I have had some people get emotional over the years but one time went furthering a person came up and said that I had saved their life?  Upon further inquiry they said they were suicidal and for six months had come out to see my work before working up the courage to speak to me, it gave them hope, and it hit me in a profound way, that my work over so many years may have that sort of impact on so many unknown people, its a little scary and at the same time humbling.

4.  What was the worst?

I can’t say any one instance is the worst, but being in public a lot you are vulnerable to whatever comes your way on any given day.  People can be rude and entitled or just plain oblivious, the cumulation can get you down at times.  Occasionally there is a mental unstable person you have to deal with and I just do my best to use non-violent communication to defuse and deescalate any potentially crazy situation, its sad, but it makes me feel good that I’ve honed these skills enough handle some potentially violent people over the years who just don’t have their world in the place they want it.

5.  How much would you say you earn from tips on average while working in public? 

Its really irrelevant,  I survive in NYC.

6.  Tell me about a time when your work was destroyed

 Its usually by a strong wind as the rain is much more predictable, the worst is when you are working on a very hot day its relatively calm but no-one is out as its just too hot… then as the people emerge out of the air conditioning in the early evening, a huge wind will sometimes gust up and destroy the work, leaving little opportunity to make the daily bread. 

7.  Tell me why you feel compelled to create

I create because it teaches me something new about myself about the world on a daily basis…   there is a lot of knowledge to be gained by my process still.

joe mangrum

joe mangrum

joe mangrum

mangrum joe

mangrum joe

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Business

Max Temkin On Cards Against Humanity

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Brent Knepper Cards Against Humanity
Photo by Brent Knepper for Cards Against Humanity

Hillary Trump Cards Against HumanityIf you have ever played the popular card game Cards Against Humanity, you are a horrible person. If you haven’t, prepare to die of laughter. To play, one person reads a question from a black card as everyone chooses the funniest white card from their hand to be chosen. It sounds simple, but with cards like “A big black dick.” and “Not giving a shit about the third world.”, you quickly realize that it is not a game for the weak.

During an exclusive interview with co founder Max Temkin, he tells us about business, Black Friday ideas, and doing things the Cards Against Humanity way. Best known for creating the game, he is also the cofounder of Blackbox, creator of Humans vs. ZombiesSecret Hitler, and Slap .45, and is on the National Finance Committee for Hillary for America. Though involved in politics, he does things a little differently, as you can see with America Votes with Cards Against Humanity. Like a true entrepreneur, the list of projects is endless. He describes himself as just a designer, but to think of him as just that would be foolish. Max Temkin is an inspiration for those aspiring to take their hobbies to the next level.

How did CAH get started?

I’ve talked about this extensively in other interviews, but basically, the co-creators of Cards Against Humanity have a long history of making games together, and Cards Against Humanity was the first good one we play-tested. We put it out for free and it gained a cult following. Then we did a Kickstarter.

What are your backgrounds?

I have a philosophy degree and I work on Democratic campaigns and elections. Some of the other Cards Against Humanity co-creators have backgrounds in economics, science, and advertising.

Why did you decide to create dick jokes instead of working in a different field?

It was mostly a happy accident! We all still have outside interests, though Cards Against Humanity is my biggest project now.

When was your a-Ha moment?

I’m not sure what that means! A time that sticks out in my memory that I knew Cards Against Humanity was pretty special was when I was play-testing it at college… I had a bunch of friends over in my dorm room, we were playing it and laughing, and more and more people kept coming over and joining. The laughter was contagious, and people kept coming in attracted by the spectacle. I saw that happen and I knew something special was going on.

How has sarcasm benefited your company?

Not sure how to answer this one. We always try to find something earnest or authentic to make a joke about, and something that makes us laugh.

What is your on-boarding process?

Is that like when you hire someone? We don’t have a lot of formal procedures. Trin is our events director and is kind of in charge of office morale, so she helps people find their place in the company.staff Cards Against Humanity

Describe your office culture.

We have a large open office that we built in Chicago, it’s a co-working space full of our friends… other designers, artists, musicians, podcasters, and weirdos from around the city.

What is the best way to respond to negative feedback?

I try not to get defensive and rush to defend myself… I usually take a moment to absorb the criticism, and then translate it into something constructive that I can act on. Sometimes people have constructive criticism that I can’t act on, and I just try to make sure that they’re heard.

Who are some influencers that you admire?

I truly hate thinking of people as “influencers,” thinking like that instrumentalizes all of the relationships in your life and makes them transactional. I don’t know that you can think about other people in terms of being an “influencer” or not, and still view them as honest and emotionally available to you.

What is the biggest lesson you learned since starting CAH?

It’s been very hard for me to delegate and give work to other people… even when they’re way better than me. Our design director Amy Schwartz is a much better designer than me, the best designer I’ve ever worked with, and I really look up to her. I know that she outshines me in every skill. But it’s still emotionally so difficult to give up the work.

How do you determine a good employee at CAH?

We look for kind, funny, and well-rounded people who are first good human beings and second good employees. We value a diversity of experience and viewpoint, and whether people have full, real lives outside of work.

What advice would you give to people trying to start their own business?

Every good business that you admire figured things out for themselves. They forged their own path and came up with their own way of doing things. Apple does things the Apple way. McDonald’s does things the McDonald’s way. Cards Against Humanity does things the Cards Against Humanity way. Reading business advice and blindly following what other people did didn’t get those companies anywhere, and it won’t get you anywhere either. To make a successful company or brand, you need to start from first principles and figure out your own way forward.

What advice can you give people new to crowdfunding?

Again the whole notion of “giving advice” on crowdfunding is kind of crazy to me. The whole point is to authentically figure out what you’re about and how to connect with other people. Some advice I like from Matthew Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School is that successful designers learn to make design decisions conditionally – that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution.

Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Tough question – I have no idea if people will still be playing Cards Against Humanity or care about us at all in five years. For the last five years, I’ve had a personal goal of making one small Kickstarter project a year. Sometimes they’re really small and personal like my Maxistentialism zine. And sometimes they’re huge public projects like my new game Secret Hitler. But I’d like to think that I’ll still be doing that in a year.

12-days-of-holiday-bullshit

How did you come up with 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit?

We needed to come up with some way to market Cards Against Humanity during the holidays that was funny and still had integrity. The first year we did a holiday stunt, it was a pay-what-you-want pack and we made $70,000, which we donated to charity. We felt like the next year we needed to out-do that. The blind subscription, where you pay us and get a series of mystery gifts in the mail, was a nice escalation. We did that for three years and now we’re taking a break.

How often do you guys visit Hawaii 2?

I’ve never been! I hear from lots of people who have been to visit, and apparently it’s really nice during the summer.

What do you do with all the dumb ideas that people submit?

Mostly we use them as kind of raw brainstorming ideas… I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a crowd suggestion that went directly into the game.

What are some Black Friday ideas that didn’t make the cut?

We probably investigate a hundred ideas that don’t pan out to get to the one that works. The original idea was a $0.01-off coupon, but we ultimately rejected it because we felt that it was still a marketing deal. We always want to do something genuinely surprising and risky. This year’s is going to be a doozy.

How did you come up with the idea for The Bigger Blacker Box?

People asked us for a big box that held all the cards, and over my strong objections, we decided to give them what they wanted. This was the best product we could design that fit those needs.

A few Redditors mentioned that they want to send you beer. Has this happened? Have you received anything out of the ordinary?

We’ve gotten all kinds of crazy gifts and things from people. I love that people feel like they have a relationship with us and want to send us stuff, I think that’s a sign that we’re getting our message out there and our voice is coming through.

 

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