Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Kierra KiKi Bridgeforth | Realtor & Nurse

I am originally born and raised in Memphis, Tn, and I have now been in Atlanta for 9 years. I grew up in a single parent home along with 3 brothers and watched my mother hustle everyday to provide for us be it corporate America or side gigs. We grew up in the projects and she worked hard to move us away and that is just what we did. I honestly think being from such a poor population and being a teen my mother myself is what has always fueled me to strive for anything I was told I couldn’t be or do. I have always had a go getter spirit and I knew that with God nothing could stop me but me. Every trial and tribulation (and there were many) molded me into the giving, hard working, compassionate woman I am today. I live my life, business or pleasure, by a simple motto Faith Over Fear!. Read more>>

Tasha Scott | Publicist, Manager & Blogger

I’m from a small town in Kentucky, down the road from Louisville. I was raised in a single mother household, and spent a lot of time with my grandparents. My mom was THE definition of a strong black woman, so she raised me to be the same. She never let me give up, or feel sorry for myself, because she wanted me to always stand tall even in the rough times. My grandparents are traditional southern Baptist, God fearing people, and because of them always keeping me in church, I have the faith I have today. Collectively, they’ve helped mold me into who I am, and why I go so hard for my business. Read more>>

Elizabeth M’balu Oke | Founder & President of PivotPath

My parents are originally from the land of diamonds and royalty: Sierra Leone, West Africa. As a first-generation African American, I have always had a passion for aiding Sierra Leoneans in-country on their paths towards economic self-sufficiency, development, and increased livelihood. As many may know, the civil war in Sierra Leone lasted for almost 11 years (1991 to 2002), taking the lives of thousands and affecting millions worldwide. Although my parents did not enter the United States as refugees, many of my family members and friends embarked on that journey towards their entry into the states. Their stories are rough, heartbreaking, and some of the most horrific life events anyone could ever experience. With this innate passion to serve and positively contribute to the upbuilding of the country, I accepted active roles in Youth for Sierra Leonean Improvement organizations, volunteered time towards Sierra Leonean diaspora projects, and held the title of Miss Sierra Leone USA 2007-2008. Read more>>

Mara Kelli | CEO/Owner

I am from Fitzgerald, GA; it is a relatively small town where everyone knows everyone. Growing up in Fitzgerald instilled me with hospitable values and the importance of morale. Being a part of such a close-knitted community allowed me the opportunity to develop imperishable connections, and become socially active. I participated/competed in several academic affairs, which taught me how to thrive with confidence within a group setting. Being in such a small town also created curiosity within me. I’d always yearn to graduate and move to a city; I always wanted more because country living was all that I knew. I grew up as the only child; this explains my ambivert personality. My mother ingrained a work ethic in me at the age of 15, and it is because of her that behind all of my pursuits in life, is passion.
In hindsight, I have blossomed into a determined, resilient woman. Whether big or small, I find traces of my background and upbringing in every decision I make today. Read more>>

Kinah Williams | Sustainable Designer

I am a born and raised Charlottean although my parents are from smaller towns and very well-rounded families that taught me the value of family and respect. I was always taught to be grateful and respectful. My parents were not too “hip” to the latest trends but did what they could to keep us cute and clothed. Most of the time that meant shopping at off-brand stores and thrift stores but we’d make do with what we got. My father often allowed me to be creative with my ideas by starting me with magazines and boards. I created vision boards for outfits and we’d take them to the stores and shop. I’d say “hey dad, those tops and pants look like this {pointing at my board}.” I’m pretty sure people thought “what kind of school project is she doing?” Because I would literally take my boards with me to the stores. I would also get in a little trouble from time to time for cutting my clothing but I was never made to feel that it was something super terrible. Read more>>

Marciana Jones | Healthcare Consultant & Medical Coding Instructor

I am from heart of South Memphis, TN and have resided here in Atlanta for the past 6.5 years. Growing up in poverty was normal until my academic achievements in middle school allowed me to be presented with opportunities that I didn’t know existed. Those opportunities showed me that there was a world outside of the “projects”. I learned early that education will be my gateway to be able to live and not just exist.  Growing up watching my grandmother struggle to raise us, ignited a desire to have a great career and to be financially secure. My upbringing has impacted me in such a way that I want to share information and create the same opportunities that people created for me. Read more>>

Allysa Mariano | Part Time Model

I am originally from the Philippines but I currently live in Charleston, SC. Growing up, my mother was very strict on me and the stereotypical Asian mother you can think of. I was taught to aim for straight A’s and to put my heart into everything I do. Thus leading me to work hard in anything and everything. Which has helped me a lot throughout life and in my modeling career/hobby. Read more>>

Courtney Patrick | Visual Artist

Born & raised here in Atlanta, ga I was heavily impacted by music. Most specifically outkast, goodie mobb, the whole Dungeon family. Anybody old Atlanta for sure. So staying true to my roots is a big deal for me when it comes to creating. Read more>>

Damon Allen | Trippyy Pappi Musical Artist & CEO

I was born in Norfolk Virginia I was raised in Naples Italy and Jacksonville Fl where I spent most of my life in travels I’ve seen things others dream of I was inspired to create through the art and musical arts I discovered in travel being a African American male in U.S it’s often assumed us as creators all are hood or thugs where I may have a urban and gangster sound every now and again the culture I experienced won’t allow me to be ignorant to my wisdom and my opinion and my heart I make all music. Read more>>

Nate Mcduffie jr ( natetoocold ) | Producer

I was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. I am one of four children, from a two parent house hold. My family is really big on music. Music has always been a part of my life, not really a thing I could run away from. My parents introduced me to music, the bulk of my influence is from my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. I guess you can say it’s in my bloodline. I grew up around instruments and music in the church, it has always been a part of my life. Every element of music that I have learned throughout life I apply in the way I craft my music and creativity today. Read more>>

Matty | Artist & Creative

I was born and raised on the Southside of Atlanta with a Nigerian culture background. Influenced by the diversity around me in the South, I was also brought up with tradition and discipline. My family wanted only success from me, so it made me the passionate achiever I am today. I’m grateful for the mix between both where I was raised and my cultural upbringing. Read more>>

Blair Serenity | Singer

I’m from Baltimore Maryland. My background has a lot of eventful moments and just recently I lost my mom. My mom and dad brought me up in a way were I could show the most confidence and authenticity. This has impacted so many different aspects of my life from personal to professional. My background and upbringing has such a large impact on me especially now because it pushes me to go harder and fight harder to reach my dreams and goals. Read more>>

Jenny Lind | Permanent make up artist and educator

I am from the Bronx New York. I was raised by grandparents. While my Grandfather was the patriarch of the family , my Grandmother was the real hustler, lol. Where there was a will , there was a way. She was a women with a 3rd grade education, that MADE IT ! She would all the time tell me to have faith and never take no for an answer. I possess alot of her qualities, I am so grateful that my circumstances allowed her to be a role model for me. She prepared me for hard work and success. Read more>>

Austin Jackson | Owner & Artist

I’m from New Orleans. One of the greatest cities of all time. My upbringing was like a good pot of gumbo because it had a little of everything. I grew up with scholars, hustlers, gangstas, athletes you name it. Having that diverse background played a huge role in my life. It’s all about the characters and perspective. Read more>>

Glow Monroe | Female Rap Artist

I was born in Athens, Tennessee. I lived in Georgia since I was three years old. I was raised on the southside of Atlanta by my mother and growing up watching her work hard and being independent, it impacted the way i approach my life. As a kid, I connected with music of the past and present. I vividly recall my mother introducing the sounds of female rap pioneers such as Roxanne Shante at a young age. I use music as a form of self expression and as a creative outlet, rapping about the woes of adolescence and my coming of age story. Read more>>

Madolyn Locke | Artist & Author

I’m from Alabama. I grew up in Birmingham, but a good deal of my family lived in an extremely rural part of the state. While I have since made peace with my deep Southern roots, at the time I absolutely did not feel like I fit in, though I didn’t know why. As a voracious reader almost from birth, my desire to escape eventually led me to fantasy & science-fiction. I found worlds that didn’t conform to the one that was around me. I read about people who thought differently, lived differently, connected to others differently… It was extremely eye-opening, and the only portal I had to what was possible outside the closed community where I was. I discovered there were options… and I ran with that knowledge. The idea that what is ‘possible’ can far exceed what we imagine has informed so much of my art and the way I choose to live. We should never be done growing!. Read more>>

Brittany Webb | Swimwear Designer & CEO

I am from Garner, North Carolina and I still reside in North Carolina. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Garner, North Carolina. My family has an entrepreneurial background, which has helped me with becoming who I am today! When living in Garner, my neighbor was a seamstress. I would go over her house to have certain garments altered; and when she’d use her sewing machine, I thought that was the coolest thing ever! I would say 15 years later, I now own a sewing machine and have been taught how to use it properly. Growing up, my parents always wanted me to do something in the Medical Field. I went from wanting to become a Veterinarian to getting accepted into a Nursing Program at two colleges. Moving forward, I was in Anatomy & Physiology and realized this was not what I wanted to pursue my career in. I was working Three jobs at this time and I was barely making ends meet. Once 2020 came about, I started two businesses and I have not looked back ever since. I can proudly say I am now an entrepreneur and I love what I do. Read more>>

Vachon, Demetrius, Mahlon, Nahzire Raye, Smith, West, West | Founders of Basement Boy

We are from the Westside of Atlanta, Ga, and are all graduates of Washington Highschool. We all grew up in different neighborhoods, from Cascade to Castleberry and even the West End area. We were all raised in single-parent households and each of us has multiple younger siblings. Our background impacted us because we were forced to be the change in not only our household but also our community. Many of our childhood friends are high school dropouts, incarcerated, or dead from gun violence and this impacted our outlooks on our lives and the ones close to us. Our upbringing not only inspired us to be the change in our community but to also make a change, and it is our intent to not only uplift ourselves from our destitute but influence and motivate others into a positive change. Our upbringing also leads us astray from bad decisions and made us more eager for opportunities because growing up opportunities to be great were scarce. Read more>>

Kenneth Everett | Chef

I was born and raised in St Louis, MO. I grew up in North city before moving to North County. Coming up in the city brought about experiences that could have been detrimental to people of the same age of myself at that time. But I have a mother that to this day will go above and beyond to make sure her children are well and handling their business the right way. Being surrounded by drugs, gangs and the “street” environment as a young boy had an affect on my attitude for sure, but again I was in a home that had strong beliefs so I didn’t get sucked in by my environment. My family moved a lot so I wasn’t really able to make real friends because we moved that much. My teenage and high school years were spent in North County which was a safer environment at that time. I was able to make friends who I am still friends with to this day. Being able to see both sides of the spectrum as far as environments helped me be able to adapt no matter the environment I find myself in. Read more>>

Anthony Mitchell | Political Professional and Entrepreneur

I am originally from from the home of crawfish boils, Jazz music, King Cake, and world-famous Café Dumont: New Orleans, Louisiana! If there is anything we love more than Mardi Gras, it’s good food and good times. I love to cook, and I love to eat; it’s in my blood, and in my heart. But the secret ingredient that’s made my life so flavorful is my village. Growing up, everyone in my community contributed to my growth and development both great and small – including adding “a smidge” of something here, adding a “pinch” of something else there, and mixed it all together to create the man before you. Read more>>