We had the good fortune of connecting with Selena Parker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Selena, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born and raised on the EastSide of Detroit, MI, I attended the Detroit Public School system and graduated from Western International High School which is also a Bilingual school in the city of Detroit. I went on to receive my BGS from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and Masters of Technical and Professional Communications from Lawrence Technological University. I grew up in a Christian household where my mother and father raised me around love, southern morals, and family.
My upbringing was pretty awesome. My mother migrated to Detroit from Louisiana where we traveled every year to visit relatives. This allowed me to have deep respect for my southern roots which taught me to be kind, loving, respectful, and to help others when I can. My grandparents also migrated to Michigan where they did missionary work with the community and brought my brother and me along. We would go to church members’ houses and help clean, wash, cook, and help those who couldn’t help themselves. My 93 year old grandmother still helps others when she can – that is the type of person who poured into me.
These experiences molded me into the woman I am. I service my community and people across the world by providing amazing products that help improve the quality of my customers’ skin and hair.
Within my photography company, JMTPD (Jackson, Murphy, Taylor Photography and Design), I help people feel good about themselves and capture it in a way where for that moment, people can see themselves through a different lens and LOVE IT. Making others feel happy makes me happy and I get to do that and make a living through both companies.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the co-owner of two companies – Socialite Body Essentials and JMTPD. I started as a photographer in 2009 which was a business I started to honor my late grandfather, Glimmie Jackson, Sr. He taught me the importance of FAMILY. He LOVED taking photos and when I was old enough, he always asked me to take the photos of family when we were together. I think my photography is set apart because I capture the true essence of my clients and not what is perceived to be beautiful by others’ standards.
Socialite Body Essentials came along in 2017 when my husband and I decided to lease our 4,000sq warehouse facility to house our personal training and photography companies. We never intended on making body products but as our daughter started to have a really bad reaction to a popular store-bought product, we decided we needed to take matters into our own hands.
My daughter Najah had eczema. She would have black patches on her body, itchy bumps in between her forearms and the back of her knees, and it was hard for her skin to stay moisturized. We attended the Detroit World African Festival and purchased a whipped shea butter from one of the vendors and it changed her skin drastically for the better. As time went on, we ran out of the shea butter and tried lotions and other creams and she started breaking out again. My husband grew tired and relentlessly asked me to try and make a whipped shea butter. I went on google/youtube, and literally formulated different types of butters to take to work and have my co-workers try them and give me feedback. Eventually, we found a hit and it was full steam ahead. It wasn’t until I received an immense amount of help from my mentor that took Socialite to higher heights and I was able to quit my incredibly stressful job in October of 2018.
Throughout my career, I have always been an innovator and I always ask a million questions so that I can understand things better. How many of us get lost when all we had to do was ask questions for clarity? I thought creating a product line and possibly seeing it in stores was the ultimate goal for our company but then covid hit and it forced me to rethink a lot of things.
Making it through the pandemic was NOT easy. I think I hit every single bump in the road you could imagine. Even with suppliers being out of inventory I needed, I still pressed through and never gave up. Covid was the reset I didn’t know I needed. Prior to Covid, I was always on the go, tired and worn out, and sacrificing my health and wellness to make a dollar. My husband and I decided to make decisions that put our health as a priority, rather than run ourselves to the ground for our business. We wanted to live AND make a living.
The building of legacy with my husband while teaching my daughter first-hand life lessons is the driving force that gives life to my relentless pursuit of success. As an entrepreneur, I am able to freely explore my passions and bring them to life on my own terms. I work and maintain my health and wellness – two things I refuse to sacrifice in order to be successful.
I’ve learned that as long as I operate by listening to myself rather than what the world thinks, I will never lose. I might not look like every other entrepreneur or company out there and that’s ok. People recognize quality and they appreciate paying for a product that was hand-made with them specifically in mind. Our products are so good that they are going to sell themselves – I don’t have to sacrifice everything for a career. I get to have it all – my career, my family, my puppies, AND my peace which is the most important of all. A down-to-Earth and caring person is who is behind both brands.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Detroit looks much different than it did when I was growing up there. There’s so many black-owned businesses yet there’s a lot of gentrification happening as well. I’d definitely take my best friend downtown to the River Walk to ride bikes, scooters, or take a tour on the Diamond Jack boat that tours along the Detroit River. I’d take them for coneys at Lafayette Coney Island, I’d take them for massages at MGM Casino, brunch at Connie’s and Barbara’s, a tour at the Motown Museum, and we’d probably catch a movie at the Ford/Wyoming drive-in. Detroit is truly a gem.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband, Brandon, who is my right and left hand, my daughter Najah who helps me be a better person everyday, my mother Debbie, my brother Daimen, my two grandmothers in Louisiana, Melvena and Gloria, my in-laws who love me as their own, my three best friends, Cari, Ariel, and Sha, my Illustrious sorority sisters of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., my church family at John Wesley, my high school friends, my fellow Michigan Wolverines, my fellow entrepreneur friends, especially, La’Asia, Lydia, and Yolanda, and my mentor Courtney, who had I never met her, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge on how to navigate this business world without. It really takes a village.
Instagram: @socialitebodyessentials @jmt_pd
Facebook: @jmtpd @socialitebodyessentials
JMT Photography and Design