Gary, Indiana, and Northwest Indiana as a whole, is getting a lesson about the business world as local leaders will be offering Gary natives a full-day workshop designed to help business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs and budding leaders build their brands while embracing a healthy lifestyle of eating right and exercising.
“Your Brand, Your Body” is a new wellness initiative that will feature courses that help business owners develop their brands. It’s a venture started by Gary natives Chelsea Whittington and her business partner Tiffany Blakemore. Together they have teamed up with the YWCA of NWI, where they will be lending their expertise to help, give back and inspire.
“Your Brand, Your Body” encompasses the same values that the YWCA holds, “a mission to help and guide future leaders in Gary.”
Whittington has worked in the profit, non-profit, educational and government environments. Her experience has served her in all capacities in the corporate world, and she’s looking to lend a hand to future business owners.
“I happen to have worked on several projects with the YWCA,” said Whittington. “I’m aware of their mission and everything they do to uplift and empower women. The mission of the organization aligns with what we hope to accomplish.”
With help from Executive Director Caren Jones, the idea of “Your Brand, Your Body” was embraced as a natural fit for the YWCA. Its 100 years in the community of Gary partnered with “Your Brand, Your Body,” a new venture with values many will recognize.
Health and fitness courses will be taught by trainer Blakemore. With her expertise and knowledge, she knows what the next generation of thinkers is up against before they make the jump.
“We’re able to help women and men grow their business,” said Blakemore. “We’re trying to empower the community. Empowerment isn’t just in business, but in living. From little tips, healthy eating habits and quick exercises to get the body moving. I hope to get more people moving toward the right direction.”
The first workshop took place Saturday, February 27, at 8:30 a.m., featuring speaker Merry Green, owner of MGPG Events. Green also founded the Black Women’s Expo. She discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected her business and the daily steps she takes to manage it.
Kiki Smith, owner of The Smart Smoothie, provided a breakfast for all who registered, and Chef Pamela Staples Ward catered lunch, as well as presented a short course in planning a meal based on the Keto diet.
Photographer Geoffrey Black, who has worked with Ebony Magazine and the Chicago Tribune, took professional headshots of all participants. Attendees were able to network and got advice from vendors. It is hoped that this networking can put them on a path toward success.
“Being Gary natives, we have the privilege of doing this in our hometown,” said Whittington. “It’s always important for me to give back to a community that helped serve and nurture me.”