Browse Tag

travel

4 mins read

Jnane Tamsna’s New Year’s House Party: A Cultural Extravaganza

Get ready for an extraordinary experience as Jnane Tamsna invites you to an African Heritage New Year’s House Party, set to take place in the captivating city of Marrakech from December 28, 2023, to January 2nd, 2024.

This curated event promises an enchanting journey deep into the heart of African heritage, offering a unique blend of cultural immersion and style.

Jnane Tamsna's

A Grand Welcome:

December 28th – Day 1

As guests arrive, they are greeted with a warm and breathtaking welcome. The festivities commence with a rooftop soirée featuring drinks and dinner, set against a backdrop of beautiful bonfires and a panoramic view of the palm tree canopy gracing the hotel’s grounds. Paying homage to the Senegalese roots of the hotel’s owner, Meryanne Loum Martin, the buffet menu and home-infused cocktails showcase rich Senegalese flavors and recipes.

Jnane Tamsna

Daily Delights

December 29th – Day 2:

The journey begins with a guided tour of the historic Medina, where guests explore iconic sites, including the Saadian Tombs and the newly opened architectural gem, the MAP. Afterward, a rooftop lunch at MAP provides breathtaking views. The afternoon offers free time for guests to discover the city, with personalized recommendations from the hotel’s Conciergerie. The day concludes with an exquisite dinner at Palais Soleiman, a 19th-century palace celebrating Moroccan craftsmanship. 

December 30th – Day 3:

Day three is filled with adventure, starting early with a hot air balloon ride over the stunning Moroccan countryside. Lunch is served in the mountains at Kasbah Bab Ourika, followed by visits to Anima, a sculpture garden, and Nectarome, an aromatic farm offering a traditional bread baking class. As the sun sets, guests gather for drinks on the rooftop terrace of the Nobu Hotel, followed by a magical jungle dinner party set on an estate adorned with hundreds of plant varieties. The night continues with drinks and dancing at Bo Zin, a lively restaurant lounge.

December 31st – Day 4:

The morning is free, allowing guests to prepare for the grand New Year’s Eve celebration. A costume and accessory corner provides the essentials for extraordinary party outfits. After a delightful lunch at Jardin du Lotus, guests embark on a visit to the Medersa Ben Youssef, a 14th-century Koranic school, and the verdant Secret Garden. The evening brings a unique desert camp experience at the hotel, complete with a “1001 nights” theme, camel rides, live music, and more. The night culminates with a gala dinner featuring an iconic long candlelit table nestled amidst lush trees. The celebration continues with an after-party at the owner’s private residence, complete with DJ sets and surprise performances.

Jnane Tamsna

January 1st – Day 5:

New Year begins with a spectacular and festive garden brunch, BBQ, and a pool party with live jazz. Workshops and activities, including pottery, weaving, and henna, offer engaging experiences. The evening is left open for guests to explore the city, with the Conciergerie available for restaurant and activity recommendations.

January 2nd – Day 5:

The second day of 2024 starts with a serene breakfast in the hotel’s dining room, offering a moment of reflection on the incredible journey that has been experienced. Departures take place throughout the day, and the Conciergerie remains at guests’ disposal, providing recommendations for activities and spa treatments for those with later flights.

As the event concludes, the memories forged during these six days are sure to remain etched in the hearts and minds of all who attended, echoing the spirit of Jnane Tamsna’s commitment to celebrating the rich tapestry of African heritage.

For questions and to secure your spot, email requests@jnanetamsna.com. 🥂

2 mins read

Crossing Continents: Ashley Cleveland’s Entrepreneurial Journey from the U.S. to Africa

In this interview, Ashley Cleveland, founder of Ashley in Afrika and the Afrika Investors Academy, takes us on her transformative path from the United States to Africa. She shares the driving force that led her to make the momentous decision to relocate.

Delving into the origins of the Afrika Investors Academy, Ashley sheds light on its inception and how it has grown into a thriving online community with members from across the globe. She highlights the Academy’s mission of fostering entrepreneurship and investment in Africa, showcasing the remarkable businesses and projects being built by its members.

Drawing from her own experiences, Ashley identifies lucrative business opportunities and investment sectors in Africa, emphasizing the significance of staying attuned to geopolitical developments. With insightful anecdotes, she reflects on the reception of Black Americans in Africa and explores the evolving relationship between the diaspora and the continent, unearthing both the immense potential and the challenges that lie ahead.

For aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals considering a move or starting a business in South Africa or Tanzania, Ashley offers invaluable advice, drawing from her firsthand encounters and lessons learned. Furthermore, she shares her unique insights and experiences on dating and socializing in Africa, providing a captivating glimpse into the vibrant cultural landscape.

Join Ashley Cleveland on this entrepreneurial journey as she unveils the motivations, triumphs, and invaluable wisdom gained from her transformative move to Africa and the establishment of the Afrika Investors Academy.

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by Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Crafting Words and Connections: Join Jnane Tamsna’s 2nd Writing Retreat in Morocco

If you’re a writer looking for an opportunity to connect with other like-minded creatives and explore the beauty of Marrakech, Morocco, then the PhiloXenia Creative Writing Retreat: Writing as a Catalyst for Community is the perfect event for you.

The retreat will be held on the grounds of the luxurious Jnane Tamsna resort, the only Black woman-owned luxury hotel resort in Marrakech. Set in the lush date palm oasis, the resort offers a serene and inspiring setting for the creative process.

Held from March 28th to April 2nd, this event is a chance to participate in generative creative writing workshops led by esteemed authors, learn about the editorial and publishing world, and delve into the true life of a writer.

The retreat will be led by three renowned writing professionals: Glory Edim, founder of Well-Read Black Girl, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess, and Senior Editor Yahdon Israel. Together, they will guide participants through a series of workshops that explore how we can use writing to create strong community bonds.

AWARD-WINNING SPEAKERS

Glory Edim

Author and activist Glory Edim founded Well-Read Black Girl, a nationwide book club-turned-literacy non-profit that celebrates literature’s life-changing power. Well-Read Black Girl advocates and empowers through storytelling. Glory received the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Innovator’s Award and the Hurston/Wright Foundation Madam C.J. Walker Award for her literary advocacy.

Yahdon Israel

Yahdon Israel, a senior editor at Simon Schuster, founded Literaryswag to make books accessible through fashion and literature. He writes for The New Inquiry, LitHub, Poets and Writers, Vanity Fair, and The Atlantic. He founded the Literaryswag Book Club, a Brooklyn subscription service and book club that meets every last Wednesday of the month, and teaches Creative Writing at City College’s MFA Program.

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, Leadbelly and Olio. Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”

jnane tamsna

But the retreat isn’t just about writing. It’s an opportunity to discover Marrakech and its surrounding areas with private tours of the city’s majestic medina and sojourns to secret gardens and the Atlas Mountains.

Throughout the retreat, participants will have the chance to engage in cultural activities and develop relationships with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries. This is a space to connect, create, and reflect on the craft of writing in a supportive and inspiring environment.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer, this is an incredible opportunity to hone your craft, connect with fellow writers, and experience the vibrant culture of Marrakech.

 

Please contact jnanedesign@gmail.com for more information.

RSVP TODAY

8 mins read

From Afrochella to AfroFuture: 4 Lessons in Navigating Trademark Law

To celebrate the New Year, I journeyed from New York to Accra, Ghana for “Detty December”, a pilgrimage of Black people from all over the world to celebrate all things Black and beautiful through cultural events, sightseeing, eating good food, and lots and lots of partying.

When I tell you everyone was in Ghana this past month, I mean EVERYONE.

My girls and I checked out a popular hotspot called, “FrontBack” where we ‘casually’ partied alongside some of the greats like Jidenna, Masego, and none other than Wizkid, himself. We also grabbed dinner where we spotted Chance the Rapper and the extremely talented Michaela Coel.

The energy was so exhilarating that I watched the sun come up on more than one occasion while dancing to Afrobeats. To say we had a time is an understatement!

While in Accra, I attended Afrochella – a 2-day festival celebrating Africa’s diverse culture and the vibrant work of African creatives and entrepreneurs. The people were beautiful and the vibes were unmatched. There’s nothing like hearing your favorite Afrobeats and Ampiano artists singing and dancing to your favorite songs along with thousands of other beautiful Black people!

Although I was having an amazing time on my vacation, it’s often hard for me to turn off the “lawyer” in me and I caught a few things that had me thinking.

First, I noticed that there was a huge banner at the festival that stated, “Afrochella is…AfroFuture.” Then shortly after Burna Boy’s electric closeout performance, one of the showrunners thanked the crowd for their support and stated, “This will be the last Afrochella you will attend,” which left everyone a bit puzzled.

afrofuture
Credit: Afrofuture(Twitter)

Then I remembered that Goldenvoice – the organizer of the Coachella Music Festival – filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in an attempt to block Afrochella from promoting its festival because it caused a “likelihood of confusion” with Coachella.

Upon hearing the news, I hoped that the parties would come to an amicable agreement that would allow Afrochella to continue the amazing work it has done for the African diaspora without going bankrupt with legal fees.

Thus, when I learned that Afrochella announced its official rebrand to “AfroFuture” and its commitment to continue producing amazing events in the name of African culture, I was relieved.

Though it is safe to say that Afrochella built an amazing brand in its own right, when the name of your brand can be considered “confusingly similar” to other brands that were in the marketplace before you, it is extremely risky business to proceed.

Here are a few lessons we can learn from the rebrand of Afrochella:

1. Conduct a Comprehensive Clearance Search BEFORE Launching Your Brand

The very first thing I ask my clients when they tell me the name of their brand is if they’ve done a search to make sure no one else already has their name. Before investing all of your time, energy, and money, make sure there is no one else that can stake a claim to your brand. And I’m not talking about a simple Google search. This search is best left to an attorney who understands the way intellectual property protection works.

2. Consider Rebranding Sooner than Later

If you conduct a comprehensive clearance search and find that there is another brand already using the name you chose for similar goods, it would be wise to consider rebranding before you’ve made those hefty investments we talked about. An alternative to rebranding would be to reach out to the brand owner and see if you can buy the brand from them. If you have the means to do so, then it’s worth a try.

3. OWN Your Brand

It may come as a surprise, but you don’t legally own your brand until you have a registered trademark that says so. A trademark is anything that you use to associate your brand with your goods or services. So, a trademark can be a word, slogan, tagline, hashtag, or even a color or smell. Once you register your trademark, you will receive a certificate from the federal government that states you are the exclusive owner of your trademark.

4. ENFORCE your Rights

Having your registered trademark will not, on its own, stop others from using your trademark for their own purposes. This is why you must monitor the market and make sure that you reach out to those who are using your trademark without your permission. Some websites and social media platforms even allow you to file a takedown request but only if you can show that you have a registered trademark.

Though I learned so much about my people and was reminded of how amazing and resilient we are while in Ghana, it was made clear to me how important it is for us to ensure that we own and protect what we create. At the end of the day, we are the culture and the culture must be protected at all costs.

by Ashley Cloud Esq.

Ashley is the founder of The Cloud Law Firm, servicing creative entrepreneurs in all 50 states. You can visit thecloudlawfirm.com or follow @thecloudlawfirm and @yourfashionattorney on Instagram for more information.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  This website contains links to other third-party websites.  Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; Ashley N. Cloud and The Cloud Law Firm PLLC do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.
5 mins read

Black Owned Luxury Hotel, Jnane Tamsna Hosting Writers Retreat in Morocco for Black Authors

Jnane Tamsna is the only Black woman-owned luxury hotel resort located in the lush date palm forest of Marrakech, Morocco.

In partnership with Parea Books, Jnane Tamsna is launching the Philoxenia retreats, an Immersive Literature & Writing Retreat for four esteemed authors in a series of generative creative writing workshops that explore themes of self-expansion, societal revolution, cultural presence, and embodiment.

Jnane Tamsna

The workshops ( January 6th to 11th 2023) will be complemented by cultural activities, including private tours of the city’s majestic medina and sojourns to secret gardens within the city’s walls.

This will be a space to discover, create, reflect, and develop relationships with people across borders, cultures, and backgrounds.

AWARD-WINNING AUTHORS

Cleyvis Natera

Cleyvis Natera is an essayist, short fiction writer, critic and novelist. Her debut novel Neruda on the Park was an anticipated book of 2022 by TIME, the Today Show, Good Morning America’s Zibby Owens, ELLE. Upon publication, Neruda on the Park was selected as a May 2022 New York Times Editor’s Choice.

Camille T. Dungy
Camille T. Dungy is an author, poet and scholar. Author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. Her debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black. Originally from Spring Valley, New York, he graduated from SUNY Albany and received his MFA from Syracuse University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from numerous publications, including the New York Times Book Review, Literary Hub, the Paris Review. He is the winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.
Tanaïs
Tanaïs is the author of In Sensorium: Notes for My People, a finalist for the 2022 Kirkus Prize, and the critically acclaimed novel Bright Lines, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize. TANAÏS is based in New York City.

THE HOST

Meryanne Loum-Martin is the owner of Jnane Tamsna. We caught up with her to find out more about this exciting cultural experience.
Jnane Tamsna
Meryanne Loum-Martin

Why is this retreat important to you?

In a world where so many deserve to be seen but still are not, in a corporate space where to reach the same level, we are expected to stand out: we need our voice.

Curated by our mind, customized by our uniqueness, and enriched by our experience, our voice is our personal tool for change,  growth, and impact.

With our Philoxenia retreats, we want to learn from prominent storytellers and writers of color.

Jnane Tamsna is a space in which energy, style, and architecture have “ de facto” been a catalyst for transformative experiences. It favors a remarkable connection between people.

It is important for me to bring this efficient and educational tool to the immense construction site which is diversity, inclusion, and equity.

How can people support this event?

There are 3 ways:

  1. Individuals can book the retreat.
  2. Corporations can send employees. The unique bond of this shared experience will impact the conversation back in the office.
  3. Donations to The Global Diversity Foundation will pay for their airfare and a small stipend of up to 10 young writers. Most of them coming from HBCUs. Jnane Tamsna will offer them room and board.

Please contact jnanedesign@gmail.com for more information.

RSVP NOW

6 mins read

Nubuke Foundation: Fueling Ghana’s Art Ecosystem

Nubuke Foundation is a visual art and cultural institution based in Accra, Ghana. Founded in 2006, the Foundation serves as a nexus for the preservation, recording, and promotion of contemporary arts and culture through art exhibitions, book readings, art talks, film screenings, performances, seminars, and workshops.

Odile Tevie is the current director and a founding member of Nubuke Foundation. We caught up with her to learn more about the institution.

Nubuke Foundation
Odile Tevie, Co-Founder and Director of Nubuke Foundation

In what ways does Nubuke Foundation support artists?

Nubuke Foundation has a robust calendar programme within which artists are given opportunities to improve their artistic capabilities, showcase their work and build patronage with audiences.

There is a need for artists- budding, young, or mid-career and those contemplating art practice to be supported and given a platform not only to develop and showcase their works but to engage with art patrons.

The professional ecosystem that supports the career of artists is vital. Nubuke Foundation has provided the opportunity for many professionals to hone their skills-writers, curators, photographers etc.

Nubuke Foundation

What are your thoughts on the development of the art scene in Ghana?

I am extremely proud of where we are today. Nubuke Foundation had the foresight almost 20 years ago to lay the foundation for the artist’s career and future. However, so much more investment is needed to ensure more than 50% of artists graduating from art School continue into full-time practice.

The development needs to be holistic if it is to be sustainable. That means the entire ecosystem of the art scene should be invested in. The artists are ambitious, building on their talents and capabilities to compelling works.

This has brought worldwide interest to our art scene. We cannot ignore the role of other professionals who work with them to achieve this.

Nubuke Foundation

Which up-and-coming or established artists do you think we should know about?

There are several artists who are extremely talented and doing incredibly well with focus and drive. Several of the mid-career artists today would have had several opportunities in our exhibition programming in the last 16 years to strengthen and showcase their practice. 

I am extremely proud of the ones who have participated in our YGA programme in the last 8 years as well.

Na Chainkua Reindorf and Nana Opoku are showing in Ghana’s pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. Eric Gyamfi is a beautiful photographer and Gideon Appah is also an artist to watch.

We are also very keen to promote artists whose works are priced affordably. This programme will be launched in November/ December 2022.

Nubuke Foundation

What needs to occur in order to develop the African art ecosystem?

It’s a very tall order! We need to intentionally focus and systematically build up the system by bringing more business and tech skills to the commercial side, engaging more philanthropy, patronage, and support to build career opportunities for artists, and strengthening the capacity of professionals.

Training is an essential first step. There is a need for criticality in academia and research, and to provide access to resources, libraries, etc. It should be noted that it was only in the last decade that the College of Art at KNUST started an MFA in Curating. In the same period, Ghanatta College, the school that Amoako Boafo attended in Accra closed.

Access to ongoing professional development, mentorship, institutional exchanges, and residencies is also important. We need to increase the number of professionals who shape and promote artists- curators, writers, and critics.

More platforms are needed (print media and online) to showcase and promote the incredible talent and work being done on the continent. Art institutions are important in recording history and providing access to resources and archival material. 

Lastly, there should be greater engagement with patrons, collectors, and buyers in the continent.

What does the future look like for the art scene in Ghana?

There is a lot of goodwill and keenness to see growth in the industry. This is a good thing for all of us. So far as we focus and invest in training, ongoing professional development, publishing, and creating more spaces within which we can showcase art.

I am confident that we will develop into a sector that offers career opportunities for artists and the surrounding ecosystem, build sustainable livelihoods, and creates fulfilling experiences for our audiences.

-Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Black Owned Abroad: They Moved to South Africa and Started a Luxury Travel Company

Mark and Dr. Latesha Blanton are the owners of The Real South Africa, a luxury travel company based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their company offers a variety of services for those interested in expanding their knowledge of South Africa and what it has to offer.

In this interview with Mark, he shares his experience living and working in Africa.

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VIDEO CHAPTERS

0:00 Introduction

0:38 – What does his business do?

1: 45 – What inspired them to start the business?

2:43 – Moving to Johannesburg

3: 25 – What do you enjoy the most about living in Johannesburg?

7:00 – Are there a lot of African Americans in Johannesburg?

8:32 – Relocation process

10:33 – Trends/Changes in perception

15:26 – Mindset shift

18:12 – Business goals

19:40 – Africans vs African Americans (Uber story)

22:20 – Contact info

Tony O. Lawson

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5 mins read

Mother Creates Baby Vend, a Vending Machine Business That Helps Traveling Families

Prior to the widespread COVID-19 shutdowns, the vending machine industry in the U.S. reached $8 billion, and global vending machine revenue topped $23 billion.

The vending machine industry took a hit during the beginning of the pandemic but is expected to rebound fully and even continue its pattern of growth now that more people are back to work and traveling more often.

Jasmin Smith is the CEO of Anchorage, Alaska based Baby Vend, a network of vending machines equipped with baby supplies. We caught up with her to find out more about her business.

Baby Vend

What inspired you to start your business?

I have always been involved in entrepreneurship and owned businesses in Alaska from business development consulting to coworking spaces and incubators but BabyVend LLC is truly special.

I found myself stuck in a mall with my twins who were babies at the time and I really needed a diaper because I didn’t pack as many as I thought.

I ran all over the mall looking for help to no avail and it was at that moment I thought I gotta do something about this. Not just something, but something unique. So, I did extensive market research to see how I could make a product that served traveling families.

Baby Vend
Baby Vend at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (Emily Mesner / ADN)

Tell us about being Black in Alaska.

Black Alaska is small and unique. People often forget and sometimes can’t believe we are here but there are many (like myself) who grew up here!

We have an extensive history and deep roots in Alaska to include business owners, elected officials, military, community activists, and more. We celebrate Black community milestones like Juneteenth and Black History Month, Kwanzaa and we also are n solidarity with movements like Black Lives Matter and had our own civil rights moments here.

We have organizations like the NAACP and Black Chamber of Commerce and Alaska Black Business Directory & Expo and many other organizations and we literally have Black community members from all walks of the diaspora. For folks who are new to Alaska, it can be hard to adjust but once you get acquainted with the community I think many see we have a lot to offer.

Being Black in Alaska is not for the faint of heart but we have a community committed to making sure we are seen and heard and empowered.


Based on research and feedback, what type of locations are these vending machines most in demand?

Definitely airports, trains, hotels, amusement parks, and anywhere else you may want to visit and don’t have quick access to leave if you find yourself without something.

What can we expect from BabyVend in the new future?

We recently launched new machines that take technology to a whole new level. We expanded to more locations and are currently in 8 states with 2 more on the way and aspirations to be in 15 by the end of 2021.

We finalized our supply kit division for locations that cannot accommodate a full vending machine. We also launched our own shipping and receiving department to get our machines placed faster.

In addition to that, we are in the process of holding a huge nationwide custom vending conference to help other people launch their own companies to include getting one of our machines.

baby vend

How can we support you now and going forward?

By investing and supporting our campaign, most importantly. We are one of the largest Black owned custom vending companies in the country and the financial support will allow us to grow, hire new key departments and finalize some much needed research and development

Lastly, if you know of any airlines, Amtrak, or other transit locations that would be interested in various sized machines and products kits, contact us!

Visit Baby Vend on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or visit their website.

7 mins read

The Only Black Woman Hotel Owner In Morocco Is Planning Her Next Moves

Meryanne Loum-Martin is the owner of Jnane Tamsna, a 24-room boutique hotel located in Marrakech, Morroco. She has operated this business for over 20 years. During the last few months, she has had to pivot and figure out how to keep the business afloat while rebranding her enterprise and launching new ventures.

We caught up with her to find out how things going now and what she has in store for us next.

Black Woman Hotel Owner
Meryanne Loum-Martin

What inspired you to step into the hotel business?

I used to be a lawyer in Paris but I was always passionate about architecture and design. I discovered Marrakech in 1985 and immediately fell in love with it: diversity, cultural heritage, the mother continent, and a cosmopolitan and creative social life.

I also had the intuition that boutique experience was the future of travel, so in 1989 I launched two neighboring private residences and turned them into a hospitality business. This later won the “Best Villa to rent in the World” award from Harper’s and Queen magazine.

My work was published in the New York Times, WSJ, Town and Country, Architecture Digest, and almost 60 other magazines worldwide.

At one point in time, there was a waiting list to find a slot and Tom Cruise had to try four times before we could find availability. Brad Pitt had told him that it was the place to stay in Marrakech.

We’ve hosted Fortune 500 CEOs to public figures like Giorgio Armani, Donna Karan, Peter Lindberg, David Bowie and Iman, Mick Jagger, Princess Caroline of Monaco, and many other royals. They described the villa as “very famous to very few” and was always full.

The enormous success of this boutique villa concept led me to create Jnane Tamsna in 2001. In a nutshell, I love designing, and I have to turn it into a business to make a living, hence hospitality.


The travel and hospitality industry has been hit hard in the past few months. How have you been able to pivot or leverage your brand in other ways? 

It has been very hard as of late February. I had just sponsored, hosted, and conceived a cultural pop-up called AFREECulture Salon to celebrate the creativity of our diaspora in film, literature, and entrepreneurship.

It was a great success and was counting on the very high rate of occupancy of the high season to follow, to absorb the expenses and suddenly there was nothing.

But such is life, as the world was going through a major pandemic. Because I am a connector, cultural entrepreneur, and creative,  I want to use my platform to host events that will enrich the conversation about our diaspora. AFREECulture salon will launch for Labor Day 2021. 

Since I have non-profit status that can benefit corporate sponsors,  I would like them to support events such as fascinating retreats with amazing speakers, films, documentaries, and music connected to our cause.

Black Woman Hotel Owner

What upcoming projects can we expect from you?

I am launching a special offer for the Shoppe Black audience. Please contact requests@jnanetamsna.com and ask about “Meryanne’s Shoppe Black special deal.”

My book, “Inside Marrakech” published by Rizzoli NY is coming out in October. It is my personal journey through the most beautiful private houses and gardens of Marrakech. I am looking for Black-owned bookstores where we could organize festive zoom launch parties, all over the country.

I am also working on a fabulous new resort concept and hopefully, we are ready to submit to planning consent in the Fall.  This is the project of my life.

The architect and project partner is a multi-award winning icon in the 5-star hospitality industry, and I could not be more humbled that he shared my vision and suggested to partner.

Black Woman Hotel Owner

I am developing my e-commerce lifestyle brand starting with beautiful tableware and luminaries. Although our website will not be up before fall, we have started selling. So please contact me! 

Black Woman Hotel Owner

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In an ideal world…

My two hotels are doing well with the most diverse clientele ever. I will own four restaurants, one cultural special events venue, and a small museum space celebrating the impact of diasporas on culture.

For the museum space, I am working with an amazing architect who is redoing the Rockefeller wing of the MET. Kulapat Yantrasast.

I see AFREECulture salon having a yearly rendezvous in Marrakech. My e-commerce lifestyle and interiors line is a success.

I would also like all of my enterprises to mentor young interior designers and hospitality creatives so that our diaspora has more and more placers connected to our narrative while open to all.

What advice do you have for those interested in the hospitality industry?

It is a tough world. Don’t start your own business unless you know your market and future clients, have identified a niche and have direct access to it. Have very strong unique selling points so the competition is less harsh. Be unique, don’t be afraid of being generous and human.

 

Tony O. Lawson


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5 mins read

BlackTravelBox Offers Beauty Products for The Traveler on the Go

According to Orion Brown, Black travelers have few, if any places they can go to find personal care products that work specifically for their hair and skincare needs.
That is why she created Black Travel Box. Her goal is to give women of color a brand they can trust for all their travel personal care needs.
“I started Black Travel Box because there aren’t any brands serving the 5 million strong (and growing) population of Black millennial travelers”, she said.
Orion is creating a brand dedicated to serving this consumer (and its extensions) with products that take the guess work and stress out of traveling with products best suited for an ethnically diverse community.
We caught up with her to find out more about her inspiration and how her entrepreneurial journey is going so far.
the black travel box
Orion Brown

What inspired you to create Black Travel Box?

After traveling to my 15th country, I found myself with less product than I needed and nowhere to purchase something suited to my hair and skin care needs – I thought to myself that I really can’t be the only one struggling when I travel. And after talking to other travelers like me, I discovered I wasn’t.

the black travel box

How did you decide what specific items to offer and ingredients to make them with?

I started with the basics – products that are in every hotel, travel aisle, and gym that still manage to consistently not consider the needs of travelers and folks on the go outside of what’s considered ‘normal’ hair and skin.
Often products like shampoo and conditioner, while not popular with most travelers, are especially problematic for richly textured hair.
While watery lotions made with waxes and fillers leave darker skin tones dry with an ashy residue. So our product line started with that – and of course lip balm because we’re not trying to have crusty lips out here. It’s a staple we can all get behind.
the black travel box

If you could wake up tomorrow as an expert in any business skill, what would it be? Why?

I’d be an expert in content creation – its so important for us to tell our story and engage with our communities in ways that enrich their travel and on the go beauty experience.
The creativity that I see in the marketplace today is astounding, and I am in total awe of brands that create multifaceted conversations with their communities with such clarity of voice and perspective.

What has been the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial journey thus far?

The most rewarding part has been receiving notes via email, text, and LinkedIn with words of encouragement from within the Black travel community and beyond.
Our customers are passionate brand advocates and as we learn and grow brand awareness, the response has truly been humbling.
The most challenging part has been keeping focused on the strategy and tactics that we’ve laid out from the outset and not get distracted with shiny objects and short term opportunities.

What types of brands and businesses are you interested in partnering with?

BTB is all about serving people on the go – retail, hospitality, beauty, travel, even fitness partners would be a great fit for our long term vision.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

We endeavor to be the Away meets Glossier for our community serving up relevant content, building community, and creating a best in class inclusive line of products made for an on the go lifestyle.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Trust your gut, pray, and take the leap. Whatever form that may come in. Whether you side hustle or full time, with dedication and focus you can create the business and legacy that you want.

– Tony O. Lawson
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