J Profile: How this recent grad helped secure more than $6 million in scholarships

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Nitiya Walker with Seeds of Fortune Scholars.

When you receive good fortune, you are supposed to pay it forward – this is a saying Nitiya Walker took to heart. Walker is the founder and CEO of Seeds of Fortune, a scholarship program that empowers young women of color to obtain scholarships, and develop their career and financial management skills.

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Nitiya Walker.

Walker, a Brooklyn-native, was able to graduate college debt-free after obtaining a prestigious full scholarship to Babson College. She greatly acknowledges the part that mentorship and support played in her financial freedom. During her junior year of college it became her mission to begin providing this mentorship and support for other young women in her community.

“Although I only had $12 in funding from the student government to start my organization, I knew I couldn’t let that limit the program’s growth,” Walker said. “In the early days I just focused on building a foundation, and making use of the resources available to me.”

These resources would include her peers from other universities (who served as the program’s first volunteers), and even free event space at her local library. Walker grew a program that started out as a three-day workshop for three students, into a program that now provides year-round mentorship for 43 scholars ranging from juniors in high school to seniors in college.

With the participation growth has come the growth of her team. What was once an individual endeavor is now one that includes a six-person executive team. The organization also has an advisory board with executives from Fortune 500 companies including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomberg, and AirBnB, to help guide the program’s evolution.

In just a few years the impact of the program on the lives of the scholars, or “seeds” cannot go unnoticed – thus far the scholars have garnered $6 million in scholarship offers from top Universities across the country and accepted more than $1 million in scholarship offers.

“Our motto is ‘Every seed planted helps a flower grow.’ Walker said. “It is incredible to see how our scholars flourish due to the mentorship and guidance they receive at such a pivotal time in their development.”

Walker is excited about the future – the program has plans to expand beyond its New York base to three additional cities by next year. The Seeds team also plans to create a digital community, so young women across the country can utilize the resources Seeds of Fortune provides to their New York scholars.

If you are a young professional interested in volunteering with Seeds of Fortune, visit seedsoffortune.org.

This story was written in September 2017.

J Reads: HYPEFRESH Contributor Debut with Chris Scholar Interview

I am excited to announce that I will be contributing at hypefreshmag.com! I kicked things of with my first artist interview, Richmond native Chris Scholar. Read the article below, or at hypefreshmag.com.

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Read the article at hypefreshmag.com.

J Profile: This Fashion Entrepreneur Was Born to Stand Out – See How She’s Helping Others Do the Same

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Photo by Lindsey Epps-Tucker for UrBoi Photography.

Knowing who you are and being able to embrace individuality is such an important part of life. – Sara A. Crawford-Jones

 From an early age, Sara A. Crawford-Jones had to do just that while growing up with albinism, a genetic disorder that results in a lack of pigment, and a slight visual impairment. Crawford said it “wasn’t very easy” interacting with other kids who did not understand her unique features, but these days she is happy to stand out.

“I feel as though that confidence has allowed me to achieve all of the things I have done within the fashion industry, Crawford-Jones says.”

Crawford-Jones has taken a passion for fashion that was sparked as a pre-teen all the way to the big leagues, having worked with household names such as Tommy Hilfiger, H&M, Express, and JoS. A. Bank.

“I loved learning every aspect of the retail and fashion industry from creative director, to production assistant; every encounter from unsatisfied customers, to buying the trending items for the season.”

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Sara as a child with her father. Photo Credit: Sara A. Crawford-Jones

Though she graciously credits those experiences with providing the foundation she needed, she always had an end goal in mind – pursuing her independence as a fashion designer, consultant, and author. “I was born to be a creative entrepreneur. I was challenged with giving all my energy and creative juices to another brand when I truly thought it belonged to my own.”

Within embracing her purpose and being, Crawford-Jones has created a brand that helps other women, and men, do the same by taking pride in their features and figures, and then tailoring their styles accordingly. In the years since claiming her independence, Crawford-Jones began doing personal styling, created her own fashion line, Anara Original, and wrote a book entitled The Playbook to Essential Style, to help women and men explore and define their personal style.

“We all were created differently so why not define your style and explore what looks best on you.” – Sara A. Crawford-Jones

The Playbook to Essential Style provides many must-have tips and techniques for women, and men, including what key pieces you should have in your closet and why, how to create the best foundation so that your garments will fit your body properly, and how to begin to identify your signature style.

A few tips Crawford-Jones says every women should know:

  1. Your essential staple pieces are important – these pieces are the foundation of your wardrobe and offer immense versatility.
  2. Staying fashion forward doesn’t always mean wearing every trend that surfaces. Perhaps, sprinkling in a few accents of a trend and intertwining it in with your personal style will do the trick.
  3. Fashion isn’t just about following a bunch a rules, it should be fun! Explore many styles and combination of styles to identify which is best for you.
Looking to keep up with Sara’s latest projects, or meet her on tour? Visit her website saracjones.com for more information, or follow her at @AnaraOriginal.