FIRST OF ALL, TELL US ABOUT THE UNMASK YOURSELF BEAUTE SYMPOSIUM.
BP: The Unmask Yourself Beaute Symposium is a women’s empowerment event being held on September 16th -18th at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center and basically it’s about bringing women together, encouraging them to unmask – reveal their true selves and deal with the internal issues that so many of us carry with us throughout life. It’s no secret that we all have a story – and that story has affected us in one way or another – whether it led to low self-esteem, self-confidence issues, trust factors, etc., because what we tend to overlook is that these things cause us to act a certain way or demonstrate certain behaviors that may not be indicative to who we truly are internally. So my goal and the purpose of the symposium is to encourage women to release those invisible enemies so that they can truly heal and walk in their true purpose and authenticity. That is what the symposium is about – elevation and sisterhood.
WHO ARE SOME OF THE SPEAKERS YOU HAVE IN ATTENDANCE?
BP: We have Lisa Nichols who is a phenomenal national motivational speaker and 7x best-selling author. This lady slays stages worldwide and takes the ladies to a whole other level! I’m super excited about what she is going to do with the ladies. For those who may be unfamiliar – please Google her. She has an extremely powerful story of how she was a single mother on welfare and struggled her way out of poverty living into the force that she is today. She founded “Motivating the Masses” – where she transforms the lives of both men and women through her powerful workshops and programs. She has done a lot of work with Steve Harvey on building the self-development division of his company and has been seen on Oprah, The Today Show, Extra and, of course, The Steve Harvey Show. Her purpose and mission closely matches that of the Symposium as she empowers women to walk in their purpose and authenticity.
We also have Nisha Parker, Transformation Coach and Author. She is the CEO of Synergy International – very spiritually motivated. Nisha speaks globally to women about outwitting the invisible enemies and preparing your life for next-level living. She is truly a force to be reckoned with when she is on that stage… and off the stage, too, for that matter! I’m excited to have her.
We have Caprice Smith, the “Uncuffed Living Expert.” She keynotes globally and talks about getting uncuffed and releasing those chains on your life so that you can live successfully. Very much aligned with my “unmask yourself” mission. Another woman with a very powerful spirit!
I also have Candice Camille, who is Chief Wellologist & Owner of Pure Nuphoria Bed & Breakfast right here in Ft. Washington, MD. I love Candice’s style because she attacks internal beaute from a more holistic standpoint – really delving into what makes us feel good from the inside out. She can change your life just from being in her presence – (laughter) seriously, her spirit is magical!
I also have Tamara (Tam) Lee from Hush Boutique whom everyone should know from her fabulous morning fashion segment on FOX5. She is the stylist to a long list of notable celebrities! (Afterthought: hmm, I wonder if I qualify as a “notable celebrity” since she dresses me on occasion as well too?) As a matter of fact, this blazer I have on is HUSH. Nevertheless, she will be talking about the latest Fall trends and awarding three beautiful women with fashion makeovers! So I’m honored that she wants to contribute and found the time to take part in this mission.
And I have Angela Sims, who is out of Atlanta. Very beautiful spirit. She will be speaking as well.
HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING THIS SELECTION OF WOMEN?
BP: For me, it was all about energy… or should I say “synergy.” Which if you define it – it means “the creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.” So for me, I was looking for individuals who I felt (1) shared a very similar mission as I did; (2) would understand fully the direction in which I was trying to go with the mission; and (3) who could add value to the mission as a whole. You may hear me say that this mission is bigger than me and anyone involved. So I just really paid close attention to my inner self and really just let my spiritual beliefs guide my choosing. I already had a connection with Nisha, Candice, and Tam – so off the bat I knew they were my top choices. As for Caprice… she was GOD-sent. I had no idea who she was until this Symposium and we had a conversation by phone and our spirits just connected – it was unreal… synergy. My assistant introduced me to Angela and we connected instantly as well. Now as for Ms. Lisa Nichols… It’s funny because when I was planning this conference, girl, you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t having Iyanla Vanzant as my keynote. (Laughter) I remember saying to my honey – “I’m going to get Iyanla for this conference.” So I got on the phone – called up my assistant and told her to get me Iyanla’s information. Long story short – she was very interested but was not available for my dates and as my luck would have it – I couldn’t change my dates. So Lisa came highly recommended – no regrets here!
EXPLAIN THE “SYNERGY” CONCEPT TO THE READERS.
BP: The synergy concept is about the energy you feel when interacting with another individual and your ability to connect with them. Somewhat like “instinct” but much stronger. Synergy is present or able to be present when you – as an individual – peel back your own layers and truly become connected to who you truly are as a person – which will then enable you to feel and see others more clearly and for who they truly are. I often refer to it as a “divine connection.” You don’t know why or how you connected with this person – and the why is never revealed instantaneously – but you were internally free to feel the spiritual connection. That’s pretty much what the synergy concept is about, a divine connection.
SO IS THIS YOUR FIRST SYMPOSIUM, AND ARE THERE MORE TO COME?
BP: Yes, this is my first symposium, but not my first event geared towards the mission. I typically hold quarterly four-hour events called The Beaute Bar where myself and a keynote would briefly engage the audience about the importance of inner beaute and putting the emphasis on fixing your core and focusing on the outside last. But this Symposium is major and I am definitely going to do this annually. I’ve already started brainstorming on #UYBS2017. It’s funny because I’ve already been asked to bring it to Atlanta as well as North Carolina, so I do want to travel with it because I believe women everywhere can benefit from this mission. This is bigger than me, bigger than all of us. It’s about building true sisterhood and uplifting one another. It’s women’s empowerment!
HERE AT USTYLE MAGAZINE, WE THINK THE CONCEPT IS GREAT. BRINGING WOMEN TOGETHER WITHOUT THE COMPETITION. IS THAT YOUR PERCEPTION AS WELL?
BP: Yes, at some point we have to come together and realize that there is enough for everyone and once you realize that you’ll get further with assistance instead of trying to stab each other in the back. Get rid of that competitive barrier. No one who has made it to the top has gotten there without the help of at least one other person.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE “DIVAS ON FIRE” WOMAN’S AWARD SHOW BEING HELD IN ATLANTA AND YOU ARE ONE OF THE 2016 AWARD RECIPIENTS?
BP: Yes, it’s in Atlanta and I was nominated for the “Entrepreneur on the Rise” portion of the awards show, headed by Renee Dawkins who has been incredible. I accepted this nomination primarily due to her mission to shine light on women who are truly doing great things in business and paying homage to those individuals. So I’m honored to have been selected and recognized. I definitely making my strides and leaving footprints along the way!
HOW DID YOU BECOME NOMINATED?
BP: Basically you get nominated behind the scenes, so once I was nominated Ms. Dawkins reached out to my assistant to extend the nomination. I’m sure she did her social media checks and balances, reviewed my portfolio and bio to see what I was doing. She definitely did her legwork to make sure I was who I was.
THAT’S AWESOME. I AM SURE YOU WERE EXCITED.
BP: Yes, I was. This is actually my second award. I was nominated for Metro Phenomenal Women’s award in 2015 as well. So people are definitely watching… I gotta stay on my “A” game for sure (laughter).
WHAT DOES HAVING A HEALTHY OUTLOOK ON LIFE MEAN TO YOU?
BP: Having a healthy outlook on life is all about your attitude and how you view your life. It’s about being positive, believing in yourself and all things to come. Knowing the direction of your life and what it is you want out of it and just attacking that with a plan while remaining confident in your abilities and by knowing that you can accomplish all things with the right attitude.
YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD SPIRIT. WHAT SUSTAINS YOUR SPIRIT?
BP: Everybody says that. (Laughter) Thank you so much. It wasn’t always this way, so it’s funny you said that. I’ve done a lot of growing internally – a lot of maturing. I have developed a level of faith and confidence in me to be authentic and transparent to those with whom I come in contact with. This takes me back to “synergy.” In order for me to believe in me and have faith, I had to uncover and unmask me. I’ve kept me hidden for so long because I did not want people to get too close to me. (I will share more on that at the Symposium.) But I was one of the ones that needed unmasking (which is why I can speak to it and hold this conference) and once I started to unveil my true self and then walk in it unapologetically, I began coming into who I truly am. And I’m finding that GOD is slowly but very surely removing all the wrong people from my life and replacing them with more of the right people.
NOW AS FAR AS STYLE, YOU’VE GOT GREAT STYLE. TELL ME: WHERE DOES YOUR INSPIRATION COME FROM?
BP: (Laughter) I look at a lot of magazines and Tam from Hush Boutique styles me. She had to help me out a lot because I am really basic. I have my moments – I’m no slouch but I’m a black leggings everyday woman. I may do a tank or tee with a blazer but everything was black, so I give it all to her and those magazines. My leggings – I actually hang up in my closet on hangers like a pair of slacks, that’s how bad it was. (Laughter) I’m most comfortable in my leggings. What started me going to Tam was my honey said, “You need to start dressing for your personality, you’re very bright and you have a bubbly personality so you need to start dressing like that.” (And he’s a beast when it comes to draping a body in some fabrics – so I took it all in good stride.) (Laughter) So in essence, he gets the credit because I then went and inboxed Tam on Facebook and inquired about her personal styling services. I remember saying to her, “Well I need to start dressing like my personality, so whatever that means can you put it together.” (Laughter) From there it began! I’ve been HUSHED ever since!
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BOOK, “ARTIFICIAL BEAUTE.”
BP: Yes, that’s my baby. Artificial Beaute is basically a spin-off or actually the introduction to the symposium. It is the story of four women, well five, including myself, who have battled the invisible enemies such as issues that stemmed from early childhood molestation, another deals with physical and verbal abuse, while another deals with a lack of confidence and feelings of inadequacy. Then there is a woman who struggles with her weight and bulimia, which actually had somewhat of an adverse effect in that she felt she had to overachieve in other areas or seek the approval from others. The book is really intense and reveals their path to overcoming the issues and dealing with them head on. While every one of us are and will always be a work in progress, I think for the most part, majority are all in a good space. I take pride in them because it takes a lot for someone who have hidden for so long – to finally come forward and be transparent. Nevertheless, each annual symposium will feature another volume of the Artificial Beaute book in an effort to give more women the opportunity to tell and share their stories.
THAT IS AWESOME! SO THIS SYMPOSIUM HAS BEEN IN THE WORKS FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW?
BP: Yes, it has, and I have just been able to pull it all together. I was waiting because when I first started planning the event, I thought, “Wait a minute, what am I doing, jumping out here like this? Who do I think I am?” (Laughter) But I knew that when I did launch it – it had to be major because I am – in essence – the “new kid on the block” in terms of women’s empowerment. While I’ve been on the circuit from a planning standpoint, to now take the stage and pour into women my own personal knowledge, I either had to go big or stay home. So it has been in the works for a while and it is going to grow and it’s going to be big, and my passion for the mission will definitely be visible.
NOW I WANT TO TOUCH ON SOMETHING THAT IS VERY PERSONAL AND CLOSE TO YOUR HEART. TELL US ABOUT THE WJP FOUNDATION.
BP: Whew! (Silence) I have to try to get through this one without tears. I wasn’t prepared for that question. My son, who’s now 9 years old, was recently tested for autism. His name is William Jayden Parker, hence WJP Foundation. He was assessed with having ASD – autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a little anxiety disorder. The foundation was created to offer advocacy and support for parents, as well as other children on the spectrum. I will be very honest and admit that for a very long time I saw all the signs within him early on, but pretty much chalked the behavioral patterns up to the traumatic birth he experienced, which left him on life support for the first three months of his life. He wasn’t supposed to be here – according to doctors – and I was told me that if he did live, he would more than likely have cerebral palsy; so I kinda “blamed” his symptoms on that. So I was like okay. (Holding back tears) But he is doing excellent now. He is a little baby genius. So nevertheless the foundation is named after him and I am working hard with advocating because as parents we are and have to be our child’s biggest advocate. They rely heavily on us to ensure that they receive the best care, the best education, the best life possible. Sure, I could have stayed in denial but again it was my honey (who’s been such a GOD-send) that said take a closer look at your child, pay attention to him, something is going on.
I KNOW THAT SOMETIMES THAT IS HARD TO DO BECAUSE YOUR FIRST INSTINCT IS TO SAY, “NO, NOT MY CHILD.”
BP: Exactly, no one wants to hear that their child may have a health issue of concern or problem. I’m picking my words carefully because I have to get out of the habit of saying this is wrong, when it’s not. Now that I have an understanding what autism is about. I look at it as a gift. It is a gift because he is highly intelligent. He can do things that I have never seen a child his age do. He does multi-leveled math problems in his head, he processes numbers in literally 3.5 seconds, he builds things, he can watch a movie once and literally repeat it back to you verbatim or sit in the middle of the floor with all the figurines from the movie and act out the entire movie! He’s amazing. All of his conversations are very intellectual – he wants to ask you about the sciences and animal fossils, and solar systems. (Laughter) I learn a whole lot from him. So nevertheless, that’s the foundation. It’s new and it’s growing. We just started the foundation a couple of months ago and we have been working behind the scenes building the board and developing our non-profit partnerships and getting sponsors together, oh and we are also recruiting more board members – so let people know!
SO IN CLOSING WITH THIS INTERVIEW, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE READERS TO TAKE BACK WITH THEM?
BP: I want every woman to know that it is okay to be your authentic self – be you – and beYOUtiful! It is okay to walk in your truth… your truth and not the truth that society has placed upon us, not the truth that the girl next door believes you should have or uphold, but your truth. Who you are, unmask yourself and be intentional in everything you do.
So come out to the Symposium! The energy in the room will be incredible. We have some powerful life-changing workshops with nuggets that will extend well past the three-day conference. There will be a lot of activities such as our incredible black dress party, tea and brunch, VIP luncheon, an incredible shopping experience with our vendors, and so much more! My sponsors gave incredible giveaways and contributions to my Beaute Bags. I will also be doing a book signing for my Artificial Beaute book. So I encourage my ladies to come on out, there are still some rooms available at a great rate and participate in this wonderful event for the entire weekend of September 16th-18th at The Gaylord down on the National Harbor!
There are still some tickets available and can be purchased at www.uybs2016.eventbrite.com and follow her on her Facebook page @TheBonitaParker or @ElevateYourBeaute where information will be shared and updated daily.