Thriving in PW: 8 Businesses You Are Going to Love

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By Dawn Klavon

Prince William is a melting pot of cultures, residents and ideas. Each brings a unique charm, adding a richness and texture to our community. Minority-owned businesses in Prince William offer a diverse and compelling variety of goods and services. Here, we highlight some inspiring owners and share their backgrounds, goals and advice.

They’re the Bomb

Apple Juice Tea Party

Dorie Mishael and Angelica Bisgby

Usually when you’re stressed, you don’t decide to open a new business in addition to your day job. But that’s just what motivated Dorie Mishael and Angelica Bigsby to start Etsy-carried Apple Juice Tea Party. The duo sells handmade vegan bath/body, ceramics, candles and K-Pop art online and at local craft fairs. Their creations spawned a business and offer customers ways to unwind as well.

“We started making things to help ourselves destress,” Mishael said. “We thought it was kind of fun that the things that help us destress are self-care items like bath bombs and candles and whatnot.”

Mishael and Bigsby first met as art education students at University of North Texas and remained friends over the years. Mishael eventually became an elementary school art teacher in Fairfax County and Bigsby works as an art therapist in Prince William. The pair started Apple Juice Tea Party in 2018, hoping customers would embrace their self-care mantra.

“It’s okay to treat yourself and make your space special,” Mishael said. “Do what makes you happy — don’t feel bad about it. It’s those little joys that make everything better.”

The business owners describe themselves as part of “marginalized groups” — Mishael is Jewish and Bigsby is Black.

“We strive to be accessible and inclusive with the products we make and how we interact with people at craft fairs,” Mishael said. “We’re looking to make their space and their environment more intentional.”

Apple Juice Tea Party, Woodbridge. etsy.com/shop/AppleJuiceTeaParty

Big Hands — Big Heart

Chi La Massage

Chrissy Campbell

Chrissy Campbell’s mom told her God gave her big hands and she needed to use them. So pampering others was her career of choice.

“I love to help people,” said Chrissy Campbell, certified massage therapist and owner of Chi-La Massage in Woodbridge. “That’s where my heart is.”

Campbell started a mobile massage business in the summer of 2017, but secured a brick and mortar location in Woodbridge during the pandemic. Her goal was to create an intimate, boutique spa feel for her clients.

“It’s been a journey,” said the single mom who juggles her massage business with a full-time career running a day program for adults with disabilities. Now, Chi-La Massage is a destination for all types of massage, as well as body contouring, hot stones and cupping services.

“Everybody deserves to be pampered,” she said.

As a Black, single woman and business owner, Campbell hopes to inspire. “I want others to see that
it is possible for people of color to own their own business,” she said. “My mom and grandmother used to say, once you perfect your craft, nobody can take that away from you.”

Chi-La Massage has no shortage of satisfied customers, which has been Campbell’s most powerful source of advertising. Her dedication to her craft leaves a lasting impression. “Whatever you’re trying to come to me for that particular service, I get you the best service — period,” Campbell said. “That’s my goal.”

Chi-La Massage, 13000 Harbor Center Drive, Ste. 356, Woodbridge

Hidden Voices Uncovered

Hidden Voices

Madyun Shahid

Madyun Shahid turned his passion into his purpose. The Atlanta native served 21 years in the U.S. Marine  Corps, and upon retirement from Quantico worked with the U.S. Navy, but he never forgot his true passion  — theater. As a teen, Shahid attended a performing arts high school and continued to enjoy “thespian therapy,” as he called it.

“Sitting working in a cubicle just wasn’t doing it,” Shahid said. “I still had that acting bug.”

Although he found a handful of performing opportunities in the Marines, after retiring, Shahid turned his passion into first-person portrayal performances — until the pandemic. When the world shut down, he expanded his repertoire to include voiceover work, which has been fruitful. His Quantico-based company is called Hidden Voices, and it is growing.

“It’s just like performing,” Shahid said. “Everything in the script analysis — I really enjoy it.”

He’s voiced movie trailers, commercials and podcasts, and hopes to expand not only to voicing but coaching others to do the same. Shahid owns his own studio and equipment, which makes his business appealing to potential clients.

But on top of voiceover work, Shahid has become an expert on genealogy, through a deep dive into his family roots. His search for his ancestry began over 30 years ago, and now he helps others on their family journey. Hidden Voices’ business plan includes consulting others on how to find their past.

“It’s awesome–going back in time and finding different moments in history,” he said.

Hidden Voices, LLC, 404-585-6234, 400 5th Avenue Unit 57, Quantico, hvoices.llc@gmail.com

Flower Power

Brandon's Flowers

Valencia Dixon (Photo courtesy Valencia Dixon)

Valencia Dixon brings a fresh take on the floral industry, and her business, Brandon’s Flowers in Woodbridge, is reaping the benefits.

“In the floral industry, there are not a lot of people like me, especially those that look like me and are my age,” Dixon, 36, said. Though Brandon’s Flowers has been in business for 50 years, she took over as owner three years ago and made a few adjustments.

“I turned it into more of a gift shop than a flower shop,” she said, noting COVID changed her clients’ needs.

Now Brandon’s carries fruit and gourmet baskets, candles, plush animals, skincare products and jewelry, as  well as breathtaking floral arrangements.

Dixon started at the bottom of the floral food chain years ago, working her way up from a floral delivery driver. She chose a creative industry she loved, despite coming from a family of government employees.

“For me happiness was in flowers,” Dixon said. “It was about the joy. I didn’t have flowers in my house growing up. I had no idea about the joy aspect. More people need to experience this joy that flowers have given me.”

Brandon’s Flowers breaks rules — wedding floral package budget minimums are lower, arrangements are customized and bouquets include “wow factor” special touches, Dixon said. She got away from Teleflora and other floral wire services.

“I am not a cookie cutter florist,” Dixon said. “So, if you’re looking for a cookie cutter, it’s probably not here.”

Brandon’s Flowers 703-491-5200, 13314 Occoquan Road, Woodbridge brandonsflowers.net.

Changing the Workplace Culture

Dr. Sabrina Brandon Ricks

Dr. Sabrina Brandon Ricks

When Sabrina Brandon Ricks experienced workplace bullying in
three different jobs over 10 years, she asked herself, “Why me?”
Ricks went back to school to earn her doctorate in organization
and management with a leadership specialization, writing
her dissertation about workplace bullying, leadership and
organizational culture.

“I wanted to try to be impactful and help people by creating better workplaces,” she said.

Upon graduation Ricks launched her own small business in which she serves as president. Her mission is to prevent workplace bullying, one company at a time. As the primary consultant for SBR Workplace Leadership Services in Woodbridge, she coaches clients on team building, ensuring a strong organizational culture, and improving management or leadership teams.

Ricks also offers a variety of empowerment presentations and her website posts accolades from participants from her many events. Her charismatic personality makes training sessions memorable
and educational.

“She has been an enormous help to me with my professional growth,” business development manager Mina Alexander posted on Ricks’ website after attending her events. “Whether at our company, at our partners or anywhere in between, I can highly recommend her services in facilitation, leadership development and executive coaching.”

Ricks is a servant at heart and spends her spare time serving as executive director of the Prince William County Community Foundation.

“I’m honestly just focused on everyone,” she said. “I’m happy to serve and I just want to help people.”

SBR Workplace Leadership Services 571-492-4239, 2196 Mayflower Drive, Woodbridge dr.ricks@sbrleadership.com

Empowering Travel

Black Will Travel

Shondra Cheris

Shondra Cheris was busy planning culturally diverse weddings when someone asked if she could help with their honeymoon as well. Since she grew up as a well-traveled military dependent, she relished the thought of planning trips for others. Not everyone gets to visit Korea as a youth or the Swiss Alps for their first time skiing, as she had.

“I need to do this seriously,” she said, but found it a tough business to break into, since internships were not available. Cheris officially started working in the travel business in 2009, and eventually transitioned her
business to be called Black Will Travel in Woodbridge. Now, this travel concierge company, as she calls it, caters to every demographic, but endeavors to reach different ethnicities and those who have no travel experience at all. Some clients have never left the country or even flown on an airplane.

“I have to hand hold more than you usually do,” Cheris said, “and I love it.”

Black Will Travel is a hands-on agency that cares for clients from the moment they are contacted until the traveler returns. Clients come to Cheris from across the country, due to her unique travel itineraries and attention to detail.

“The best part is the experiences I create for people,” she said, noting her research and itineraries including little-known islands and cultural treasures.

But why contact Black Will Travel when travelers can book flights, hotels and excursions themselves online?
“The number one value for having a travel concierge company is time,” Cheris said. “We save you time.”

Black Will Travel 571-306-0298, Woodbridge blackwilltravel.com

He’s Mr. Write

I Am A Consulting Firm LLC

Dr. Oliver T. Reid (Photo courtesy of Nelson Richardson from VSoul Photos)

Dr. Oliver T. Reid’s best advice for those wishing to write a book is to “become a book,” he said. The key is not to be consumed with the sales aspect, but instead with telling your story. Reid has written more than 40 books himself and coaches other up-and-coming authors through I Am a Solution Consulting Firm, LLC
in Manassas City.

“I help entrepreneurs write books fast,” he said.

Proclaimed as “The Writing Coach” on his website, Reid speaks publicly about entrepreneurship, ghost writing and how to become an award-winning book writer. His website touts “he uses cutting edge writing coaching techniques to help entrepreneurs, speakers, and coaches, while leading them to live into their highest potential.”

Reid works with Publishing Advantage Group to secure writing partnerships, but also gathers authors through word of mouth and social media. His list of past clients includes CEOs, as well as NBA and NFL athletes.

“Writing is a love affair I have always had,” he said.

Reid started writing in his youth and never looked back. He said writing can be therapeutic, since it can celebrate your “good, bad and ugly — make that pain work for you.”

I Am a Solution Consulting Firm, LLC 571-385-8654, Manassas City drolivertreid.com

Say Yes to Her Dress!

Diamonds & Pearls Bridal

Melanie Bray-Bradford (photo courtesy Melanie Bray-Bradford)

When Melanie Bray-Bradford went wedding dress shopping a few years
back, her experience was less than memorable.

“There was a void,” she said, feeling rushed and unheard in the dress
shopping process.

An entrepreneur at heart, she vowed to create the kind of experience she
missed as a blushing bride — personalized and intimate. And to ensure
others didn’t miss out on finding custom-tailored dresses to fit their personalities, as well as their figures.

The result of this journey to create the perfect bridal salon is Diamonds & Pearls Bridal in Manassas Park. The only bridal shop in the area with all five-star ratings, Bray-Bradford prides herself on creating an extraordinary experience for her brides.

“I believe marriage is one of the most magical things you go through,” she said. “It’s a monumental and momentous time for women.”

 

Diamonds & Pearls Bridal 703-585-3586, 9137 Manassas Drive, Manassas Park, diamondspearlsbridal.com

 

Dawn Klavon is a contributing writer and can be reached at dklavon@princewilliamliving.com

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