Meet the Creators of the weCliq Social App

Brown University alums Robert Gillett and Marc Howland, creators of the weCliq app

WeCliq is a new and innovative networking app that enables users to connect and meet with local and surrounding people and/or groups via real-time photos, virtually bringing selfies to life. The app was launched in September by Brown University alumni Robert Gillett and Marc Howland, alongside Harvard University graduate Adam Demuyakor.

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the millennial techies to talk their new app, the inspiration behind it, and their plans for the future.

Black Enterprise: What is weCliq and how does it work and who is it for?
Gillett: weCliq is an award winning social app that connects people nearby for real-life hangouts. Our app enables you to use recently taken photos to match with other people you’d want to meet in your vicinity.

We are the first Swipe-To-Meet app not exclusively focused on dating. Our users have described our app as the “Snapchat for meeting people.” Whether meeting cool people on campus or before a night out, connecting with others in a brand new city, growing your group at a festival, finding romance, or the late-night after-party, weCliq helps you meet fun people nearby seamlessly.

The app is easy to use: 1) Snap a photo 2) Select who you’d like to be matched with 3) Meet up!

What was the inspiration behind the app?
Demuyakor: The idea for weCliq emerged from Robert’s personal experience as a pro-football player in Italy. Frustrated by the language barrier and cautious about approaching random people, he found it difficult to meet and connect with people in the area. Thus, the idea for weCliq was born. After returning stateside, Robert, who studied mechanical engineering at Brown University, reached out to his former college teammate and investment banker turned private equity investor, Marc Howland, to partner in developing the app.

When was your big “a-ha” moment when coming up with the idea?
Gillett: The universal language across the world is photographs. Concurrently, photo-based Swipe-to-Meet apps have become relatively common as well. Our “a-ha” moment came when we realized that (1) these apps all assume that people want to meet for purely romantic reasons and (2) these apps ask you to determine if you want to meet someone based primarily on his/her old, stale pictures. We thought it could be very interesting to attack both of these phenomenons head-on by engineering an app that is (1) NOT exclusively focused on dating and (2) enables people to meet using only new and recently taken photos.

We want to inspire more meetups that are spontaneous and in-the-moment. We’re seeing a growing trend of apps like Instagram and Snapchat that are increasingly focused on enabling users to capture the exciting moments around them as they happen. Why not use this concept and apply it to help people meet as well?

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Janelle Monae is the Face of COVERGIRL’s Star Wars Collaboration

With tons of black female Star Wars fans (yes, black women are into Sci-Fi) it only makes since that COVERGIRL harness the powers of galaxy superstar and women’s empowerment enthusiast Janelle Monae, to lead their new makeup collaboration with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

[Related: Afro-Punk Festival Returns for 8th Year of Rock, Food and Fun]

According to Yahoo Beauty, COVERGIRL has created seven futuristic beauty looks that give women a chance to explore the art of a split personality—-with both “light side” and “dark side” color pallets.

“I am one of the biggest Star Wars fans,” Monae tells Yahoo Beauty. The look Makeup Artist Pat McGrath created for Monae, is called Resistance Pilot— it’s a cool bronze-like take on Monae’s fashion-forward style.

“Out of the seven characters, she’s the most easy-breezy,”  Monae tells Yahoo Beauty . “She’s daring. For me, I’ve chosen to wear black and white, and every now and again I have a little prestige; a pop of color, and as you can see it’s this bright orange. It’s really good to be inspired by her character and switch it up and take you all by surprise. We have different sides of ourselves, so it’s always great through makeup and through clothing to show off a different side of your personality.”

To see more of the looks head over to COVERGIRL.

Janelle Monae is the Face of COVERGIRL’s Star Wars Collaboration

With tons of black female Star Wars fans (yes, black women are into Sci-Fi) it only makes since that COVERGIRL harness the powers of galaxy superstar and women’s empowerment enthusiast Janelle Monae, to lead their new makeup collaboration with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

[Related: Afro-Punk Festival Returns for 8th Year of Rock, Food and Fun]

According to Yahoo Beauty, COVERGIRL has created seven futuristic beauty looks that give women a chance to explore the art of a split personality—-with both “light side” and “dark side” color pallets.

“I am one of the biggest Star Wars fans,” Monae tells Yahoo Beauty. The look Makeup Artist Pat McGrath created for Monae, is called Resistance Pilot— it’s a cool bronze-like take on Monae’s fashion-forward style.

“Out of the seven characters, she’s the most easy-breezy,”  Monae tells Yahoo Beauty . “She’s daring. For me, I’ve chosen to wear black and white, and every now and again I have a little prestige; a pop of color, and as you can see it’s this bright orange. It’s really good to be inspired by her character and switch it up and take you all by surprise. We have different sides of ourselves, so it’s always great through makeup and through clothing to show off a different side of your personality.”

To see more of the looks head over to COVERGIRL.

[WATCH] Whitney White Turned Her YouTube Platform into a Booming Natural Hair Career

Whitney White (better known to her millions of followers as Naptural85) has been dominating YouTube since 2008, when she chopped off her relaxed air and decided to document it’s growth. When White started making videos, YouTube wasn’t yet monetized and she wasn’t getting paid by sponsors either. White made natural hair videos out of a simple passion for her hair.

[Related: Save the Date: Women of Power Summit 2016]

“The thing about YouTube is that it wasn’t a career back then. It was just a bunch of weirdos,” White told Business Insider. “If I told anyone I made videos on YouTube, they’d look at me like I was crazy.”

 YouTube has become, not only a community for like-minded black women to come and share beauty tips and explore their natural mane, its also a place where they are able to earn a living by assisting major brands in navigating the natural hair world. White’s love for the hobby paid off. According to Business Insider, White now make twice as much as a YouTuber than she did as an entry level graphic designer.

The black hair industry is now a $2.7 billion business and has seen a 7% increase since 2013, according to a 2015 report by market research firm Mintel, and can expect “more robust growth” in the next five years.

White tells Business Insider that her partnership with hair mecca Carol’s Daughter, is one of her most cherished relationships. But even when she’s taking on sponsored deals, White makes sure to remain transparent and authentic to the products that she likes.

[RELATED: Meet the First African American Woman to Hold a Patent for a Natural Hair Product]

“I try not to promote anything I wouldn’t personally purchase,” says White. “I’ve turned down a lot of money … I’ve turned down deals from huge companies … because I didn’t like the ingredients in the product.”

To learn more about White and her YouTube empire, head over to Business Insider and check out one of her videos below.

‘The Dinner Table Doc’ Takes a Look at Multidimensional Woman of Color

Reality TV generally receives a bad wrap for exploiting black culture and objectifying women; especially women of color. But Asha Boston, creator of The Dinner Table Doc, saw a bit of a silver lining in the culture that is reality television and, in turn, produced and directed  a documentary that subconsciously explores the addictive qualities of reality television while pushing for positivity.

“The film shows that young women of color can be more than ‘baby mamas’ and ‘bottle throwers’ that tear each other down mentally and physically each time they meet to break bread. The film starts at the dinner table and the conversation there serves as a narrative while short monologues (to mimic confessionals) are shown along with real footage of young black millennial women sharing their stories of success, mentor relationships, and inspiration.”

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Boston to talk about her motivational documentary, the women she chose to participate and why, and what she hopes women are taking away from her project.

BlackEnterprise.com: Exactly what is the Dinner Table Doc?

Boston: The Dinner Table Doc evolved from a Essence magazine prompt for a film contest, to an initiative intended to educate and change how communities view the minority women they are exposed to in media. It also introduces emerging women in the industry who are breaking away from the stereotypes that keep them in a box.

What was your big ‘ah-ha’ moment in creating this project?

I created the series in undergrad and, due to my location, I wasn’t able to film each participant myself. Since I was in Atlanta and most of the young women were located in New York (and one in London) I decided to have them record the footage themselves and send it to me. Upon receiving the footage, I knew we struck gold when I began editing the film and it felt like they were having a conversation. It was amazing to see eight different young women who have never met in person agree and exchange similar ideas. They all agreed that young black women could achieve their dreams despite the perception of what people think they can and cannot do.

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‘The Dinner Table Doc’ Takes a Look at Multidimensional Woman of Color

Reality TV generally receives a bad wrap for exploiting black culture and objectifying women; especially women of color. But Asha Boston, creator of The Dinner Table Doc, saw a bit of a silver lining in the culture that is reality television and, in turn, produced and directed  a documentary that subconsciously explores the addictive qualities of reality television while pushing for positivity.

“The film shows that young women of color can be more than ‘baby mamas’ and ‘bottle throwers’ that tear each other down mentally and physically each time they meet to break bread. The film starts at the dinner table and the conversation there serves as a narrative while short monologues (to mimic confessionals) are shown along with real footage of young black millennial women sharing their stories of success, mentor relationships, and inspiration.”

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Boston to talk about her motivational documentary, the women she chose to participate and why, and what she hopes women are taking away from her project.

BlackEnterprise.com: Exactly what is the Dinner Table Doc?

Boston: The Dinner Table Doc evolved from a Essence magazine prompt for a film contest, to an initiative intended to educate and change how communities view the minority women they are exposed to in media. It also introduces emerging women in the industry who are breaking away from the stereotypes that keep them in a box.

What was your big ‘ah-ha’ moment in creating this project?

I created the series in undergrad and, due to my location, I wasn’t able to film each participant myself. Since I was in Atlanta and most of the young women were located in New York (and one in London) I decided to have them record the footage themselves and send it to me. Upon receiving the footage, I knew we struck gold when I began editing the film and it felt like they were having a conversation. It was amazing to see eight different young women who have never met in person agree and exchange similar ideas. They all agreed that young black women could achieve their dreams despite the perception of what people think they can and cannot do.

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Harlem Non-Profit Provides Women with Job Skills, Education, and Income

New York City’s Hot Bread Kitchen is striving to change the lives of immigrant women looking to make a living in the United States, according to CNN Money. The non-profit offers women, in low income situations, the craft and commerce of baking bread so they may earn a living for their families.

[Related: Apple Heiress Laurene Jobs Invests Millions to Help Charles King Diversify Hollywood]

Clarissa Sango, 25, emigrated to the U.S. from Burkina Faso in 2011. She spoke little English and, as CNN reports, she didn’t possess many work skills—leaving her struggling to find a job.

“If you just came from Africa and you don’t have any resume or experience, it’s hard,” Sango told CNN Money.

The Bread Kitchen program is nine months and includes, “kitchen English” lessons which give women the language skills they need to communicate efficiently in the kitchen. The women enrolled in the classes also earn a wage of $8.75 while in attendance.

According to Money, the non-profit’s founder, Jessamyn Rodriguez, started the program out of her home in 2007, and has since trained 82 women from 20 countries. The storefront and training center is now located in Harlem, New York, where Rodriguez continues to offer women a unique space to link job skills and craft when they need it most.

“The mission here at the Hot Bread Kitchen is really around economic development,” Rodriguez said to Money. What makes us unique is real marriage between job skill and interest, with a career in market need.”

To learn more about the Bread Kitchen visit CNN Money.

Nicki Minaj Ranks First Among Latest Highest-Grossing Tours

Despite Nicki Minaj’s name negatively trending alongside the names of Meek Mill and Miley Cyrus, the 32-year-old rapper has been steadily handling business.

[Related: Black Women Reign on September Magazine Covers]

The Nicki Minaj world tour pulled in pretty big numbers, according to Billboard, as it made its way across Europe and North America.

The tour ran in support of her last album, The PinkPrint, which dropped last December and earned the rapper turned pop-star $13 million in revenue; according to the music magazine.

With 20 performances spanning North American markets, Billboard reports the sold ticket count as reaching 293,036 from seven arenas and 13 outdoor amphitheaters booked during the summer run.

Minaj’s sold out Brooklyn performance at the Barclays Center was the highest grossing show on the schedule, earning $1.3 million in ticket sales. Chicago’s Hollywood Casino Amphitheater made for the largest crowd among the North American venues, with 22,700 fans present for an outdoor performance.

The tour began in Europe on March 16, playing 17 cities in eight countries, during a four-week span, and then hit a second round of European shows in July, which included festival appearances. Once stateside, Minaj hit the road, stopping in Dallas, Texas, and of course in New York.

For more information on the top world tours, head over to Billboard.

The Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation Expands to Help a Community in Need

Wendy Hilliard, hall of fame rhythmic gymnast and the founder of the Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation (WHGF), recently announced her organization’s expansion from Harlem to Detroit, Michigan, where she and her team hope to help a community in need.

[Related: Leap of Faith: How a Teen Ballerina Landed Dream Job at Dance Theatre of Harlem]

The Detroit, native was the first African American to represent the U.S. in international competition, but her historical accomplishments were not achieved without challenge. The lack of diversity in the gymnastics world, coupled with her personal experiences, inspired Hilliard to began a low-cost gymnastics program for urban youth. The program provides inner-city children opportunities to participate in the sport.

After nearly two decades of success, Hilliard is partnering with Architect and Urban Strategist Tom Sherry to open a WHGF facility in Detroit, that will also include community programs for boxing, soccer, basketball, and fencing.

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with  Hilliard to talk her foundation’s mission and purpose, the racial gap in gymnastics, and her new Detroit, initiative.

BlackEnterprise.com: What is the Wendy Gymnastics Hilliard Foundation and its mission?

Hilliard: To provide free and low-cost quality gymnastics programs for inner-city youth and people of all ages and abilities in the sport of gymnastics – a traditionally expensive sport. To create affordable opportunities and help ensure that aspiring minority athletes have an opportunity to succeed in gymnastics. To provide children with the opportunity that I had in gymnastics.

Explain the racial-gap in gymnastics, which you’re striving to close, and how filling it will affect the youth and the world of gymnastics?

Especially in recent years, there have been African Americans at the top in international, World and Olympic competition. There has not been a significant increase of participants on the grass root levels – primarily because of the cost of training. Most of the top gymnasts are the only, or one of the few, blacks in their gymnastic clubs where they train. That is totally different at the WHGF. Many parents express relief that there is a place for their child to take gymnastics where they do not have to be the only black gymnast. Gabby Douglas talks about this challenge in her book.

What will the new community initiative include?

In addition to after-school gymnastics activities for all ages and levels of gymnastics, the facility will also include community programs for boxing, soccer, basketball, and fencing. More than 400 local youth participate in WHGF programs in New York, every week, and we will strive to reach similar numbers in Detroit, over time.  In New York, the WHGF has produced gymnasts that compete on a national and international level. I would love to definitely have competitive gymnastics teams in Detroit. My experience as a gymnast in Detroit, made a world of difference. Our team, The Detroit Metro Gymnasts, produced national and international champions and an Olympian. We were travelling worldwide constantly and that gave the City of Detroit pride, and will make a world of difference for the youth of Detroit. Detroit a great sports town and primed to provide opportunities for the youth on non-traditional sports.

What impact do you hope to leave on these communities and how have they been impacted thus far?

The current top contenders for the 2016 Olympics, including Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles and Nia Dennis, are increasing interest in the sport among African American youth. In addition to helping reshape the city of Detroit, [by] providing affordable youth activities, the WHGF wants to ensure that aspiring athletes have an opportunity to succeed in gymnastics, as I did. After the summer 2012 Olympics in London, where then-16-year-old Gabby Douglas made history, becoming the first African American to capture gold in the individual all-around gymnastics competition, there was an immediate impact on the sport’s popularity.

For the first time ever, the WHGF had a long waiting list to enroll in the classes Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation provides. There is no doubt that the 2016 Olympics will have the same effect. We just returned from taking eight athletes to the National Championships in Tumbling and Trampoline. For our first time at these championships, we came home with 9 National medals, including Gold, Silver and Bronze. I witnessed how much pride this gave my athletes and their families and NYC. That will stay with them always and it is something that they had to earn. That is why sports are so powerful. They traveled to another state (the first time traveling to Texas, for all of the athletes, and first time on a plane for some) they made new friends and saw others that they competed with during the year– and it was very very special.

 

Venus Williams Graduates From Indiana University

Venus Williams is now a  degree-carrying and award-winning athlete. The star tennis player received her bachelor of science in business administration from Indiana University on Aug 14, according to a statement released by Indiana University East.

[Related: 4 Incredible Stats About Serena Williams’ Historic Win at Wimbledon]

Many colleges may have gladly given an athlete like Venus an honorary degree, simply for being amazing on the court, but Williams earned her degree the hard way– by completing the work.

“I’ve learned so much,” Williams said in an IU East press release. “It was always my dream to have a business degree, and I ended up going to art school so many times, but in the back of my head I felt like I needed the tools to be a better leader, to be a better planner, to be better at all of the things I wanted to do in my businesses because I’m so hands-on.”

According to the statement, Williams said she was able to apply her academic lessons and skills she learned in class to her businesses right away, allowing her to work better with staff and to be more strategic.

She is the first to graduate under a partnership between IU East and the Women’s Tennis Benefits Association (WTBA). Lisa Grattan from the Women’s Tennis Benefits Association (WTBA), explained in the statement, that about five years ago they collaborated with the WTA to create an alliance with IU East. Currently, 15 of the WTA’s players are enrolled in IU East online degree completion programs.

“IU East and the Women’s Tennis Benefits Association have an agreement that establishes our campus as the primary provider for baccalaureate online degree completion programs for WTA players,” IU East Chancellor Kathryn Cruz-Uribe said. “Venus was instrumental in connecting IU East and the WTA in this highly-valued partnership, and we are very grateful for this.”