I’Sha Gaines is the Editor/CEO of HoneyBeNatural Magazine – a publication that seeks to empower women on their natural journey with the understanding that their respective paths are unique. When asked what she does, I’sha doesn’t hesitate. “I make things pretty but I think I empower people to be better human beings through photography and media (graphic design, videos and our magazine).”
BGWP: How did you get into photography?
I’Sha: I got into photography because I couldn’t afford to pay for a photographer to run a magazine every month. I bought a camera and did it myself.
BGWP: Tell me about the women’s spotlight HoneyBeNatural does.
I’Sha: Queens + Queens came about in January. I’ve been trying to create bridges between all the different things I do. I think a lot of my content is great but I also think people are confused about what goes with what so when I started defining my why for HoneyBeNatural I noticed a lot of people expected us to feature women like them. A lot of our followers are creatives and bloggers and I realized a lot of my content didn’t feature that.
The magazines I look to for inspiration had something they were dropping consistently every week. Whether it was spotlighting a creator, haircare brand or business. They just had something weekly that they were doing.
Woman to woman collaboration is something that’s really needed and that’s what Queens + Queens is . From one Queen to another. What would I say to another queen. From one woman to another, what do I have to offer. It’s a free feature for business which helps us grow and expand our network and it’s free content for subscribers which keeps HoneyBeNatural relevant and on the top of mind.
BGWP: What does it mean to you to be a black girl with purpose?
I’Sha: It means being intentional because we have a different set of eyes that are looking at us. I feel black people being in the creative space is new. I say that because I work in career, technology and education at a high school and when they [faculty] and students see me they say “you take photos?” or “You do graphic design for real?” And I think “yes, that’s what I do. That’s how I got the job.”
I don’t know what job roles are specific to black people but being an African American in a creative space is new so being a black girl with a purpose on my end means my website looks the best, my content is the best, my equipment is the best I can afford. The way I speak to people is in the best manner I can communicate. It’s all about bringing your A game.
BGWP: When did you feel like you realized your purpose or first got a glimpse of what your purpose is?
I’Sha: I never had the best self-esteem. I didn’t realize I was pretty until maybe 2013. Many people would say that wouldn’t matter but if I am looking in the mirror questioning myself then everything I do comes off as questionable. When I realized what God had given me between 2013 and 2015, I was able to make a connection in 2016 and everything changed.
Even the look of HoneyBeNatural is totally different. It’s really simple. I tried to make it as pretty and tactful as I could with what I’m working with. That ties in with knowing what your ministry in. I feel like my passion and ministry directly relate. Once I improved in that area and tof he area self-worth things changed. When you realize the kind of impact you can have it changes what you put out.
BGWP: What is the hardest part about walking in your purpose?
I’Sha: Doing it while people are watching. We’re all human and we have days when our attitudes are not the best, we’re tired and can’t give 100%.
BGWP: What would you say to someone who doesn’t know where to start to find their purpose?
I’Sha: Go back to [your] childhood and think about the stuff [you] really enjoyed and the stuff that made [you] happy. If you wrote stories I would start with children’s books or any type of books. Usually what you did as a kid is what you end up doing. You usually revert back to stuff you were always into.
BGWP: What’s your go to scripture when you find yourself running on E and need encouragement?
I’Sha: 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. They’re a lot of things I fear and a lot of things I don’t fear. I work backwards. It usually takes somebody telling me I can’t do it, that they’re disappointed or expect more and then I get on it. I think to myself “I’m going to show you” to the point that you’re asking to work with me or something I do will be talked about around you.
BGWP: September is officially back to school month, what encouragement would you give to students to prepare them for success for the upcoming school year?
I’Sha: Try everything. My boyfriend was telling me the other day if he knew what he knew now he would have tried everything. Do it even if you think it’s whack. [When you do nothing], you look up 10 or 15 years later and you have no memories. So get involved. Do everything.
Also, connect with a teacher. It bothers me that a lot of my students leave and I never hear from them. I want a Twitter handle, Instagram handle or Snapchat handle. I want to see what you’re doing.
BGWP: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
I’Sha: It’s never too late to start whatever it is you’re trying to do. There’s always a demographic that needs information or a resource or a connection or collaboration. Wherever you are in your journey. I think it would be really cool if there was a generation of seasoned bloggers 50-75. Or a group of elementary students who start a YouTube channel.
What I find is everyone wants to have it together when they start. We’re made to change. If people are made to change then why wouldn’t your business be meant to change.
A lot of people are fearful because they don’t have it all together but I honestly feel like you’re not supposed to. Even if you look at big companies like Walmart, CVS, they just changed their logo. If you take the time to look around you’ll notice companies are always reinventing themselves. So start and after you’ve started know that it’s okay to change!
BGWP: How can the Black Girls with Purpose community best support what you’re doing?
The digital version of my magazine is completely free. I want people to subscribe to our newsletter so they can get the magazine and get Queen + Queen. I am really taking this year to focus on building our newsletter community and our YouTube page so we can have a greater digital following behind the magazine.
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