National Women’s Business Council Gains New Insight with a New Member

Selena Rodgers Dickerson secures another seat at the table. Business award-winning founder, President and CEO of SARCOR LLC and Selene LLC, is making her mark nationally through the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC)! Her appointment to this council will allow her to continue prioritizing the advancement of opportunities for women on a national scale as she speaks with Government officials including the President, U.S. Congress, and the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Rodgers Dickerson, a Birmingham native, has been leading discussions and taking control of the narrative by securing her spot on multiple local boards including the city of Birmingham’s Small Business Council, and through being a panel speaker at the Essence Fest in 2022. Her appointment to the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) last month is a huge achievement as it presents an opportunity to make real change across the nation for small, female-owned businesses.

“I am extremely honored to be on the National Women’s Business Council. This new opportunity allows me to take another step forward and continue to be a part of the conversation to make fundamental changes and promote real opportunities for women entrepreneurs and young professionals.” – Selena Rodgers Dickerson, President, SARCOR LLC

Her selection as a council member is based on her achievements through her businesses as well as the mark that she has made on her local community. Rodgers Dickerson started SARCOR with a single employee and grew the business into a team of engineers. The woman-owned business provides innovative solutions to the challenging projects of its private, corporate, and municipal clients. She also made history as the first African American sponsor of an iconic Vulcan statue as part of a community art project in which miniature replicas of Vulcan are displayed throughout the city of Birmingham.

Selena R. Dickerson is the president of SARCOR, LLC, located in Birmingham, Alabama. She strives to educate others on how to become successful business owners. Her mission is to utilize her expertise to leverage strategic solution-based diverse, equitable, and inclusive initiatives through business endeavors, philanthropy, integrity, and spirituality.

Mastercard Supports Black-Owned Businesses During World Games

Mastercard commemorates The World Games by supporting Black-owned small businesses in the Magic City! The initiative will kick off the high-level, diverse, and spectacular sports competition beginning July 7 through 17th.

Birmingham is proud to be one of seven cities participating in Mastercard’s In Solidarity initiative, a 500 million dollar commitment to closing Black Americans’ racial wealth and opportunity gap across America. In partnership with the Birmingham Business Resource Center (BBRC), Mastercard is launching the Birmingham Loyalty Campaign, offering a 20% rebate on qualifying purchases at Black-owned businesses during The World Games! Mastercard made the announcement at a press conference Thursday in Kelly Ingram Park with special guests Mayor Woodfin, Bob Dickerson of the BBRC, and Arian Simone, founder of The Fearless Fund, the first venture capital fund built by women of color. The conference celebrated Mastercard’s commitment to the city while highlighting two local, women-owned, Black-owned businesses, including one that will be featured at the Civil Rights District Marketplace. The five-day festival hosted by the BBRC, and in partnership with Mastercard, will showcase Black-owned businesses, entertainers, interactives, and artisans at Birmingham’s historic Kelly Ingram Park beginning July 8.

The Civil Rights District Marketplace is in collaboration with the World Of Opportunity Vendor Program, a division of The World Games 2022 Birmingham. “Where do I begin. I am so excited that Mastercard has intentionally found a way to support our local minority businesses and their cardholders through the Loyalty Program. In both the Merchant Market and The Civil Rights District Market, a win-win opportunity has been designed for the business and consumer. Not every company will really be as bold or as courageous as they are being to encourage people to buy from Black businesses. It means a lot when you can see that someone believes in you. Mastercard is showing they believe in Black businesses and in Birmingham”, said Kathy Boswell, Executive Vice President of Community and Volunteer Engagement at The World Games 2022 Birmingham.

“As I’ve said before, these businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and they deserve the support of the city they make investments in,” said Mayor Woodfin. “That’s why I’m proud of this genuine partnership with Mastercard. This effort encourages Birmingham residents and visitors to support our Black-owned businesses by shopping local.”

“We have been able to have a 3rd marketplace for The World Games in the Civil Rights District, right here on this hallowed ground! That’s important because, as the mayor talked about, supporting Black-owned businesses means paving a way and opening a door for opportunities,” said Salah Goss with Mastercard. Goss says the marketplace provided a space for businesses who couldn’t get into The World Games marketplace to benefit from the economic windfall.

In addition to the 20% cashback initiative Mastercard has issued, the company partnered with The Fearless Fund to present a check of $10,000 to Bernadine Birdsong, owner of Michael’s Steak and Seafood in Birmingham.

“Over 50% of Black businesses had to close their doors during the pandemic,” said Arian Simone, CEO & Founder of The Fearless Fund. “Now, we are facing the global, macro-economic climate of high-interest rates, inflation at an all-time high, and supply chain issues, where now people of color are being hit again. So, it is an honor to stand here today to present a $10,000 grant to Bernadine Birdsong of Michael’s Steak and Seafood! This is our way of saying we see you, we honor you, and keep going!”

Birdsong accepted the check with tears of joy in her eyes, thanking Mastercard and the Fearless Fund for this opportunity to overcome what Birdsong considers a dark time in the world for the restaurant industry.

To see a list of participating businesses in Mastercard’s Loyalty Program, along with the terms and conditions, please visit: mastercard.com/birmingham.

Birmingham Business Resource Center assists entrepreneurs in every stage of business development. Through an array of technical assistance activities, including one-on-one coaching, the BBRC focuses on helping businesses scale for growth. Services include providing resources to build capacity, attain new customers, and access capital. Emphasis is placed on economic empowerment and supporting historically underserved businesses through diverse supplier opportunities.

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart, and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships, and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments, and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

 

100 Things to Do in Birmingham Before You Die, Second Edition

Called the Magic City, Birmingham sprang up fast, as if a magician’s wand pulled skyscrapers out of a valley surrounded by mountains. In 100 Things to Do in Birmingham Before You Die, Second Edition you’ll discover the famous places and hidden treasures of a city brimming with character, charm, and natural beauty. Whether it’s the best barbecue or martini, a picture-perfect round of golf, or where to find clothes by famed local designers, Birmingham native Verna Gates is ready to be your personal guide to the best the Magic City has to offer.

  • Birmingham has one of the few meat-and-three restaurants with a James Beard nomination. Plus, a restaurant named the best in America by James Beard. Other fascinating restaurants include the Original Whistle Stop Cafe, where Fannie Flagg’s aunt perfected fried green tomatoes.
  • The First Lady of Liquor and the runner-up in a global bartending contest both offer drinks in establishments in Birmingham.
  • Why are there elephants in Avondale? In the early days, Miss Fancy lived in the nearby park and gave rides to children. She also drank a gallon of beer a day, making her an entertainment icon.

Book Review:

This book is a must-have for anyone visiting the city or those that have resided here for years.  It’s organized according to food, drink, music, entertainment, sports, recreation, culture, and fashion.  Personally, I can’t wait to visit the Birmingham Museum of Art.  BMA is the perfect location to learn about the culture and find inspiration for those in the creative space.

Although I have grown up in Birmingham, after moving back to the Magic City, there are several events and activities that are new to me.  For example, I have never visited Gianmarco’s Italian restaurant or the Talladega Speedway!

100 Things To Do in Birmingham Before You Die is the perfect coffee-table book or reference when venturing “outside.”  To purchase your own copy, visit Barnes & Noble.

And, although this is the 2nd edition, I am confident there will be several new editions in the future!

About the Author:

Verna Gates was born in Birmingham and can trace her local heritage back four generations to a land grant farm. She began her career as one of the original crew that launched CNN.

After moving back to her beloved home, she spent 25 years covering the state for TIME Magazine and Reuters International. She has received a lifetime achievement award from the National Federation of Presswomen.

First African American Sponsor of a Vulcan Statue

Selena Rodgers Dickerson makes history as the first African American sponsor of an iconic Vulcan statue. Rodgers Dickerson’s statue is the 15th edition of the Vulcan on Parade project, a community art project in which miniature replicas of Vulcan are displayed throughout the city of Birmingham for public enjoyment.

Painted by local artist Erica Chisolm, the i3 Academy-hosted statue is named “S.O.A.R,” an acronym used to encourage students to be Safe, on task, go Above and beyond, and be Respectful. The statue will remind i3 Academy students of the endless possibilities awaiting them. The statue was erected in front of the school last month. “I wanted this statue to be something that students of i3 Academy would see every day that they could carry with them. When times get tough, this is a symbol that represents us as people and our community here in Birmingham. That was my vision for this statue.” Selena Rodgers Dickerson, President, SARCOR Rodgers Dickerson has a long-standing relationship with both the Vulcan Park Foundation and the i3 Academy as she sits on both boards and has a daughter currently enrolled in the academy.

She serves as the President and CEO of SARCOR, a women-owned small business enterprise that provides innovative solutions to the challenging projects of its private, corporate, and municipal clients. Selena R. Dickerson is the president of SARCOR, LLC, located in Birmingham, Alabama.

She strives to educate others on how to become successful business owners. Her mission is to utilize her expertise to leverage strategic solution-based diverse, equitable, and inclusive initiatives through business endeavors, philanthropy, integrity, and spirituality.

Kendra Scott Unveils First-Ever Engagement Ring Collection

Today, Kendra Scott enters a new category with the introduction of The Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott. Building on a successful fine jewelry business in Kendra Scott’s repertoire, entry into engagement was a natural next step for the brand. This launch comes as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary and marks the second new category expansion this year,  following the successful introduction of Watches and Watch Bands in April.

As a brand that places an emphasis on innovation, Kendra Scott made the decision to work with lab grown diamonds. The debut eleven-piece Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott features lab grown diamonds that are F in color (colorless), VS2 in clarity range, and available in carat weight from 0.5 to 2 carats. All rings are custom, made to order, and delivered in approximately three weeks.

Inspired by Kendra Scott’s signature icon pieces, each engagement silhouette bears custom details unique to the brand’s design DNA. Available in Solitaire, Halo, and Signature silhouettes, the rings feature a traditional center stone, including Round, Oval, and Emerald. Customers have the option to customize the ring with their choice of 14k White Gold, Rose Gold, or Yellow Gold. Representing joy, optimism, and the promise of a bright future, a singular Yellow Sapphire was thoughtfully placed at the bridge of each Solitaire setting or burnished at the base of Iconic Halo rings.

Designed to be as beautiful and unique as each love story, Kendra Scott offers a bespoke customer experience complete with a dedicated in-house Diamond Expert, who will guide the couple through their custom ring journey. The customer will select every facet of their ring, from carat weight to pavé additions to metal selections and personalized engraving. The Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott will launch at twelve retail locations across the country as well as online via virtual appointments.

“For twenty years, our customers have invited us to be a part of their wedding journeys. The launch of the Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott will allow us to be the wedding destination from proposal to happily ever after,” said Kendra Scott, Founder, Designer & Executive Chairwoman of the brand. “When creating this collection, we challenged ourselves to consider every detail. Fundamental to our design process, each ring can be customized and curated to match every couple’s unique love story.”

The engagement experience will launch in select Kendra Scott retail stores, including Tampa Hyde Park, Pittsburgh Walnut Street, Savannah Broughton Street, Charleston King Street, Dedham Legacy Place, Nashville Hill Center, Lexington Summit, SoHo New York, South Congress Flagship in Austin, Dallas Preston Center, Las Vegas Summerlin and Houston Heights Mercantile, and online at kendrascott.com/engagement-rings.html  Price points will range between $1,350–$8,150.

 

About Kendra Scott 

Kendra Scott is a leading fashion accessories brand inspired by the personal experiences, travel, and sense of community of its founder and designer, Kendra Scott. With over 2,000 employees, Kendra Scott has over 100 standalone stores across the US and is sold in premiere retailers including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and 600 specialty boutiques worldwide and boasts a thriving web business. Kendra Scott is known for its kaleidoscope of beautiful accessories as well as the innovative and customizable Color Bar® experience. As the brand continues to grow, the company remains true to its founding philosophy of “Family, Fashion, Philanthropy” and since 2010, has given back well over $50 million to local, national, and international causes.

BLOOM: FAITH, FASHION, AND BUSINESS EMPOWERMENT SERIES SPOTLIGHT: LaToya Thomas

BLOOM readers, I would like to introduce LaToya Thomas.  Realtor, Motivational Speaker, and Empowerment Coach, LaToya has BLOOMED in the Birmingham, Alabama community.

With her newly trademarked platform, Breakfast With Toy™, she imparts empowerment to those around her; making the bridge between women in entrepreneurship and female power!

BLOOM SPOTLIGHT:  LaToya Thomas

  • When you think of the word “successful,” who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?

When I think of a successful person, or the first person that comes to mind, it’s my Mother Sharon Kelley. I’ve always had a very good role model to look up to. She’s what I call pretty powerful. Ambitious. Always goal oriented and succeeding. She’s a wife of 35 years, a mother of two girls and Grandmother of two girls. She’s conquered so much in life and forever looking to grow in her purpose.

  • What is the number one way we can make a difference in our community?

I don’t know if there’s a number one way but I know change begins in the mind and at home first. As children our parents teach us about “self esteem”, confidence, gratitude, thankfulness, and most importantly God.

  • What has helped you get to where you are and what advice would you give to others on the same path?

My personal relationship with God. My parents set the foundation, the standard and my heart for God grew from there. As far as business I worked hard at my 9 to 5 and did the best I could, most of the time. Knowing life isn’t perfect and when I don’t get it right or I fail, give it another try. Continuing to grow in my Faith. And really when the time was right, God saw fit for me to get into the real estate business with my husband.

  • Do you have a specific experience where you wish you had done things differently?

I wish I had been brave enough to attend college out of state. Like Atlanta. I’m a homebody and I love it. But there’s so much more out there to witness. I know God knows my heart and knows I’m telling that young girl who had the opportunity to go anywhere, that my family would be right there when I returned home. So that’s one reason for God making me an entrepreneur. He’s giving me another shot at exploring more.  (smile) Being an entrepreneur allows me to grow in so many ways. I lost quite a bit during the pandemic, as far as business goes, but I gained an even amazing woman in myself.

  • Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?

I try to remember as much as I can about what the word of God says. Not verbatim but just what I need.

Follow LaToya Thomas and learn more about her platform on social media:  FacebookInstagram, and Keller Williams website.

“EMPOWERED WOMEN, EMPOWER WOMEN!”

2022 WORLD GAMES TO CELEBRATE THE PEOPLE, POWER, AND RICH MUSICAL HISTORY OF ALABAMA IN OPENING AND CLOSING CEREMONY PERFORMANCES

The initial line-up and details of The World Games 2022 Opening and Closing Ceremonies have been announced, promising two nights of unforgettable performances celebrating the rich musical and cultural history of The Games’ 2022 host city Birmingham, AL. Set for July 7 and 17 respectively at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium, the ceremonies will feature musical and theatrical performances spanning a broad range of genres and generations. With funk legend and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Bootsy Collins serving as Master of Ceremonies, the lineup of performers includes: Yolanda Adams, Alabama, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bo Bice, Sara Evans, Taylor Hicks, Jamey Johnson, Nelly, Pastor Mike Jr., Martha Reeves, Sheila E., Ruben Studdard, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Worth The Wait, and Yung Bleu.
The World Games 2022 will kick off on July 7th at Protective Stadium with Unlocking The Magic: Celebrating The Power of The One. The evening will be a colorful celebration of sport and Birmingham history. Presented by Alabama Power, the presentation will feature live entertainment, special effects, honorable dignitaries and a parade of athletes representing more than 100 countries. Produced by Birmingham-based LRY Media Group, the Opening Ceremony will celebrate Birmingham’s past, present and future. Spoken word artist, musician, educator, and Birmingham native, Sharrif Simmons will be delivering a poem in the Opening Ceremonies.
On July 17th at Protective Stadium, the grand finale of The World Games 2022 – One World-One People: Celebrating Legacy, Achievement & Unity – will commemorate The Games with incredible performances and the opportunity for athletes, fans and volunteers to bid farewell to Birmingham. Presented by Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, the final presentation will include the ceremonial passing of The World Games flag to representatives of the 2025 host city: Chengdu, China.
“The World Games will bring a once-in-a-lifetime level of focus and attention to Birmingham and Alabama,” says Dr. Henry Panion, Artistic Director of The World Games 2022. “It is our goal to showcase and celebrate the very best of Alabama in presentations that are both festive and reflective, commemorating our past yet articulating the hope of our future. I wanted to combine the elements of Olympic ceremonies and Super Bowl half-time shows, with the best of my true loves… the sounds of a symphony orchestra and the pageantry, artistry, and precision of professional drum corps. Gospel Music and the sound of Gospel have influenced virtually every form of music across the globe. So, as an indigenous art form of America and Alabama, it is only appropriate that it be featured so prominently in these World Games.”
Developed in partnership with the cohort of global partners and advisers, Birmingham, AL-based Audiostate 55 Entertainment has been brought on by The World Games to create and direct the ceremonies. This year’s Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be a feast for the eyes and ears. Each evening will showcase elaborate custom costumes, props and performances, set to the backdrop of one of the largest LED displays amassed in America. The choreographed presentation of synchronized lights and immersive sound will feature a cast of over 700 combined performers across the two nights (including dancers, field pageantry artists and more), a 75-piece orchestra, and an array of choral ensembles including gospel, classical, and youth choirs, all embarking on a journey across the history of Birmingham, from its incorporation in 1871 into its future.
The World Games are returning to the United States in 2022 for the first time in more than 40 years. This year over the course of 11 days, The World Games will feature events across 34 sports, showcasing some 3,600 athletes from more than 100 countries. A total of 24 competition venues will participate in this year’s World Games, including the newly renovated Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex.
Stay tuned for more information, including news on the forthcoming theme song of the 2022 World Games.
About The World Games:
The World Games is an extraordinary, international sports event held every four years, in the year following each Summer Olympic Games. Staged over 11 days, The Games represents the pinnacle of competition for 3,600 of the world’s best athletes in 30+ unique, multi-disciplinary sports. The World Games generates worldwide exposure for participating sports and provides a highly visible stage on which athletes from more than 100 countries compete for gold. More than 600 medals will be awarded to the competing athletes, including 200 gold medals for the ultimate champions in each discipline.
The World Games is led by the International World Games Association (IWGA), a non-profit organization that is composed of 37 International Sports Federations and recognized by The International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Follow The World Games here:

Be Stay Live 2022 Women’s Empowerment Makeover: WOMAN EMPOWERED CONFERENCE

Rochelle Gaston Malone the Author, Entrepreneur, Minister, Multiple Sclerosis Advocate, and Talk Show Host will host THE WOMAN EMPOWERED CONFERENCE on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
Rochelle Gaston Malone is a Faith-Life coach, known as the Empowerment Champion, who uses writing and speaking to minister empowerment.
Ms. Malone is the great-granddaughter of the late Dr. A.G. Gaston, Sr.
She is the founder and executive director of MSFace2Face, a 501c3 non-profit organization that is committed to eradicating “MS Poverty.”
The WOMAN EMPOWERED CONFERENCE dynamic speaker lineup and details will be shared soon.
Save The Date!

Birmingham Zoo to Open for Labor Day First Responders and Healthcare Workers Receive Discounted Admission

In celebration of the Labor Day holiday, the Birmingham Zoo will be open on Monday, September 7 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Zoo will be offering a discounted admission of $8 to First Responders and Healthcare Workers (with valid ID/badge) and up to four (4) guests at $8 each from Saturday, September 5 until Monday, September 7. Discounted admission tickets will only be sold onsite at the Zoo’s front entrance ticket booths.

The Birmingham Zoo is incredibly grateful for all our first responders and healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly through the Covid-19 pandemic. The Zoo is a fun and relaxing place where frontline workers can enjoy time with their friends and family while connecting to wildlife and the natural world. “We want First Responders and Healthcare workers to know their Birmingham Zoo supports them. We are thankful for the sacrifices they make, every day, and especially during this pandemic,” said Birmingham Zoo President & CEO, Chris Pfefferkorn. “They are true heroes whose dedication, commitment, and courage deserve our deepest gratitude and admiration.“

Labor Day at the Zoo offers something for everyone to enjoy! Visitors can take a ride on the Red Diamond Express Train* and spin on the Protective Life Carousel* at Children’s Zoo (*Additional cost). Daily activities, rides, and animal encounters at the Zoo are weather dependent.

The Red Diamond Express train and Protective Life carousel are operating from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and tickets are available for purchase onsite and online at birminghamzoo.com. The Zoo’s main Gift Shop is open for guests to purchase their favorite specialty items. The Predator and South America/Primate buildings are open for visitors to see indoor animal habitats in these areas as they travel the one-way path through the Zoo.

All guests and members of the Zoo are required to follow our health and safety guidelines, including face coverings for individuals over the age of six (6), in accordance with the State of Alabama ordinance mandating the wearing of face coverings in public places. For the health and safety of our staff, guests, and animals, the Birmingham Zoo will continue to monitor and evaluate our operations and modify our procedures as needed.

The Pixel Room Birmingham: #SelfieMuseum and Fun Experience

Something innovative has come to Birmingham!  Last week, I went to The Pixel Room, Selfie Museum.  Only two words can describe this place, very cool!

I didn’t know what to expect upon visiting the new local attraction.  A mutual contact sent me the invite and honestly, anything with the word selfie attached to it is must-see for any blogger!

Most fashion and lifestyle influencers are constantly snapping photos and having a special location to stage pictures heightens the experience.

Upon entering the museum, I was greeted by a variety of displays.  Almost every room was the replica of a movie set.

There’s a selfie room for everyone depending on your individual taste.  Guests can take photos at either the Dynamic Disco Room, Lemonade Stand, House of Colors, etc.

Experience it for yourself, there’s so much fun happening at The Pixel Room, Selfie Museum!  Visit the Grande River Outlets for leisure shopping and take some memorable selfies.

And of course, they are taking COVID-19 Precautions.

The Pixel Room Birmingham

Selfie Museum

Selfie Museum

Selfie Museum

Selfie Museum

Selfie Museum