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My Journey Home -- Inspiration for Haiti

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HAITI AID
AP

I often get asked the question what do you do for a living? I don't often know how to answer that question because I wear so many different hats that I don't know which one to say. But the other times I don't know what to say because I don't necessarily like the way in which the question is being posed. My thoughts are, "Why? Will that make you respect me more? Will it make you treat me better? Or will it wipe away the prejudice that is in your heart?

So depending on the circumstances I will answer different ways. Why do you ask; As at times I am a manicurist, I'm working for editorial magazines, commercials, TV and film projects, Fashion shows from NYC , London, Miami and St. Thomas etc. Or I am the owner of m2m damoreJon my own nail polish line, so I have to think as an entrepreneur. Or the writer and teacher who assists others that want to come into my field; Or an editor contributing to a publication. Or a Publisher and owner of a wedding magazine called World Bride Magazine.

Either way that is what I do for a living. I live!!!

All those hats that I wear have made me who I am. They have introduced me to a world that I dreamed of as a kid. They have put me face to face with people who you see on TV, read in magazines, and seen in movies. All because I dared to dream and went after them. Life is grand.
I come from an island in the Caribbean called Haiti. It suffered a devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010. It changed my life forever. It opened my eyes to what I left behind. It made me aware of the opportunities, that this country, America, has afforded me. It made me more appreciative of my simple career as a manicurist, and showed me how far it has brought me.

Where it has continued to take me is priceless. The beauty industry is over 500 billion dollars strong and growing even in this economic crisis state that we are in. When all fails, women still want to be beautiful, feel beautiful and smell good. The basic things we need from soap, tooth-brush, tooth paste, deodorant, lotion, a tweezers, mascara, lipstick, lip gloss, nail polish... wow, makes a difference to a woman. If you look at history in the middle of a recession, depression some of the biggest brands were born, Revlon, Red lipstick and nail polish. While men were at war and the women were working in the factories they wanted to feel beautiful. Today nothing has changed, during a crisis it is the little things, beauty items, beauty tips that make a woman feel beautiful. Life seems a little bit more hopeful, more colorful, and rosier.

After the earthquake it was my friends in the beauty industry that came to my aid both for comfort and financial support for my people in Haiti. From beauty experts to editors, friends, and family you name it they were coming in. All because I was a well-known manicurists, "celebrity" manicurists, that had reach "success" and had suffered a loss and I was one of them and they needed to help me.

It was then that it confirmed that I was in a special club. A club of privilege that based on who you knew, who knew you, things were done. I can't thank them enough for all the support that was given to me. I think all the brands I ever worked with at that point looked for ways to help me. Maybelline, Revlon, MAC, Iman (The Super Model herself), Movado, Melange Salon at the Peninsula, The Peninsula Spa, Warren Tricomi, Shuly's Wigs Tracey Reese, the lists goes on. The interviews came, the write ups, I couldn't stop it. I then realized that the power this amazing career as a manicurists, in the fashion industry had gifted me. So like that amazing line that Meryl Streep spit out when Anne Hathaway smirked at the blue belt, and she broke down that this was not only a blue belt. The opportunity it proposed to so many people... and she became silent. That is what being a manicurist has done to me.

I have had the honor of doing many small events "Beauty with a purpose for the love of Haiti." Those have helped me raise money for various organizations that are doing things on the ground of Haiti. Word And Action, that focuses on the sexual abuse that is happening to girls in Haiti, and Bel Kan hosted by United initiatives For Peace, at The Haitian Academy in Port au Prince.

I journey back to Haiti not to flash my career, but to empower girls, women, who may not want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a politician or so on. Who may be a hair dresser, manicurist, a massage therapist, etc. Therefore to stand up and hold their head up proud for the service that they render. It is not that of a less intelligent soul, but that of a gifted soul with the ability to heal through touch and kind words. The power to make a cancer patient feel good about herself and remember that she can still look beautiful as she rocks a wig. Or when a woman just finished cleaning someone's toilet, cleaning someone's house, turned over someone's bed in a hotel that she may "think," she may never be able to afford to stay at; you can make her feel good and give her dignity by giving her the service of a manicure. Or the feet of merchant who walked the dusty roads to sell her fruits to feed her family. Or message the back of the gardener that manicured someone else's property that he may never be able to live on. The opportunity for me to go back home and share my story with those amazing people, my people I welcome it. How did this life come to be? I am a manicurist. I say it with pride and dignity. I am one of the millions of artists in my field that chose our path and do our job everyday with the same dignity that a doctor, a lawyer, and the president of the free world takes.

This career has introduced me to Noami Campbell, Iman, Kate Hudson, Umma Therman Anna Whintour, Phylicia Rashaad, Viola Davis, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrara, Jany Tomba (Haitin super model) to name a few. My name has graced the pages of Harpers Bazaar, Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Italian Vogue, Elle Magazine, Glamour, Essence, Ebony, etc. I have been quoted in Allure Magazine, Instyle Magazine, Essence, Fox 5 Chanel, Good Morning America, CNN and now blogging for the Huffington Post. I have traveled to parts of the world I read about in books as a child.

So ask me again what I do for a living. I am LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST humbly and eternally grateful for all its good gifts.

Around the Web

Haiti's Failed Recovery: Who's to Blame? - TIME

Disaster in Haiti: Recovery and relief - World - CBC News

BBC News - Quake-hit Haiti slowly rises from the rubble

Haiti's Recovery - NYTimes.com