All posts by Alyscia

Alyscia Cunningham is an entrepreneur, author, filmmaker and photographer based in Silver Spring, MD. She comes from a family full of multi-talented artists. Raised in Queens, New York and Montgomery County, MD, she earned degrees in photography and web design. Alyscia has contributed to National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, America Online, and the Smithsonian Institution. Additionally, her work has been published in several books and magazines, including The Best of Photography, Beauty Around Us, Endless Journeys, and Homes of Color Magazine. To learn more about Alyscia and her work, visit Alyscia.com.

Film Finishing Funds

A few weeks ago, I was excited to share my idea to launch a crowdfunding campaign with iFundWomen. It is a great platform, but after serious consideration of the time involved to manage that campaign, I decided it’s best that I stick with raising funds through my fiscal sponsor, Docs In Progress.

At first, the thought of crowdfunding, made me think of just asking friends and relatives for donations. But, it’s actually an invitation for others, for YOU, to join together to support me in the making of my film.

Over the next few months, I will send reminders and updates about my fundraiser to help bring my film into completion. In other words, Finishing Funds. If you’re interested in supporting me, please make a tax-deductible donation via the Docs In Progress project page for I Am More Than My Hair. And don’t forget to share! Sharing is caring.


Feminine TransitionsIn honor of her birthday month & my coming “out” last year, Wendy Simon, has launched a fundraiser for I Am More Than My Hair on Facebook. Wendy has not only participated in my project (both the film and book) but she has also been extremely supportive in consistently providing me with resources and ideas to help complete my project.

If you’re on Facebook, please join Wendy’s page, say hello and let her know how awesome she is for showing her support. She could have supported another non-profit in honor of her birthday, but she decided to contribute to the continuation of my work. Thank you Wendy!

Visit Wendy’s Facebook event page.


The date is set! Please join me in celebration of I Am More Than My Hair book release. It takes place on Sunday, September 9, 2018 from 5-7PM at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, MDPurchase tickets for $10. The book cost $39.95.

If you’re interested in volunteering at the event, you’ll receive a complimentary ticket. Please contact me and let me know.

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The proof is here!

20180509_132238.jpgI received a proof copy of I Am More Than My Hair book. How exciting!

After review, Robin Benson, my Designer, made a minor change then I gave the OK for printing. All copies are expected to arrive by or around July 23, 2018.

In the meantime, I’m working on plans for distribution, marketing, speaking/book tour and of course… grant applications.

This time around, I’m applying finishing fund grants. And in a few weeks I’ll launch…

iFundWomen crowdfunding campaign

I discovered iFundWomen last month while attending Light City Baltimore. How cool is it to have a crowfunding platform dedicated to women only. Amazing!

After speaking with one of the coaches I decided to launch a crowfunding campaign to help cover the finishing cost of I Am More Than My Hair film. I’m almost there. I just need one more push to complete it.

At this point, I will edit the film on my own (rough-cut) and will hire an Editor to complete the fine-cut. As much as I tried to avoid it, I’m guessing the Universe wants me to edit this film. 🙂 I’ll keep you posted.

Pre-order your copy

If you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy of I Am More Than My Hair book, you can do so via PayPal. It will also be available on Amazon but won’t go live until I receive the shipment of books. Pre-order your copy here.

 

HuffPost covered the Fashion Show!

HuffPost Editor, Jamie Feldman, covered the Bald, Beautiful, & Bold Fashion Show. If you missed it, read more here.
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The Fashion Show Was A Success!

Five months of planning, a set venue, a dedicated team of professionals, everything was ready to go. Just 2 weeks before the show…we hit a bump in the road.

We had a challenge. A canceled venue location due to circumstances beyond our control – AKA given false information. As devastating as it was when we first got the news, the new location worked in our benefit. We can fit more of an audience and the show went on.

If there’s one thing I’ve always been clear and upfront about, it is the fact that in life we always face adversities. Especially when it’s a cause you feel most passionate about. As much as I’d love for my journey to always be smooth, I’ve learned that the bumps in the road prepare you for greatness.

Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.”

Carolyn Phillips hit the road (literally) and connected with the Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church who willingly provided us with the space to hold the show. Woohoo! The thought of canceling was eliminated.

Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for Carolyn and team of people who came together to make the fashion show phenomenal.

Thanks once again….

Carolyn Phillips, Joan Carter-Smith, Lakisha Ellis, Wain Jenkins, Sharon Diggs, Barry Page, Londa Msanii, Lauren Stewart, Artartus Jenkins, April Clark, Nora Bonds, Erica Strong, Rue Medley, Lou Fields, Nora Yolanda, DJ Hardpoint Entertainment,  (if I missed someone please know it wasn’t intentional)

Designers – Londa Msanii for Designs by Londa Msanii; 13-Year-Old Samalie Kabenge; Donna Henderson for Flowerbaum; Aristotle Bouvier for Bouvier’s Creations; Simone Ashley For Simone’s Designs; Carissa Bernard For D’kultered Kunsepts; Ola Raphael For Ola Raphael Designs

Models – You were amazing! Absolutely stunning!
Brenda Alford, Toni Jessop, Isaiah “The Model” Branch, Thurman Jones, Sharon Alford, Verne Johnson, Cornelius Bryant, Troy Mitchell, Tondalaya Dunn, Shalonda Mitchell, Tea Copeland, Michael Nwachukwu, Kathie Ehrmann, Nicole O’Brien Dupee, Sin Gabriel, Ty Sydnor, Tammy Flake, Carolyn Phillips, Steve Golub, Prentiss Hakeem Watson, Deborah Gray, Wain Jenkins, Paula Hart, Lillie William

SponsorsThe Umbrella Syndicate, Anu Essentials, Turban Diva, Miss Jessie’sEmmanuel Lutheran Church

Cheers to all hostess and volunteers for making this a successful event!

Here’s a sneak peak of the Designer’s creations. Did you know there were two young designers in the show? See the creativity of 13-year-old Designer Samalie Kabenge, and 17-year-old Designer Simone Ashley.

     See more photos on The Umbrella Syndicate’s Facebook page and Barry Page’s Dropbox.  And how amazing is it to have a project from this project! Ken Rochon, Founder of The Umbrella Syndicate, and 5K sponsor for the Bald, Beautiful, & Bold Fashion Show, is going to publish a new book from his Keep Smiling series titled, Bold, Beautiful, & Bold. View a sneak peak here.
     We’d love for you to share but please remember to keep the photographers caption/copyright info on the photos. If cropping is necessary please include the photographer’s credit. Thank you!

There’s less than 2 weeks before the Fashion Show

I am forever grateful for the support of an entire planning committee coming together to organize the Bald, Beautiful, & Bold Fashion Show as a benefit for my film.

For the past several weeks, I’ve helped with setting up the event and have learned a lot in the process. Who knew there was so much involved in organizing a fashion show?!?

Although I still have a long stretch to go with raising all funding, to cover the cost of editing my film, the Bald, Beautiful, & Bold Fashion Show is a great start, and I’ve met some really cool along the way. I truly appreciate the efforts of everyone involved.

Are you in the Baltimore area or plan on traveling this way to attend? Purchase tickets here

Keep Smiling: Bald Edition

Ken Rochon, Founder of The Umbrella Syndicate and 5K Sponsor of the Bald, Beautiful, & Bold Fashion, has proposed a new project, based on the show.

Ken included me in one of his Keep Smiling book series titled, Black Women Influencers Who Impact & Inspire the World and has proposed a Bald and Beautiful edition, in collaboration with the fashion show. There is a small fee of $197 to be in the book (see flyer for details). This helps to alleviate costs of production.

If you’re interested, please email Ken@BigEventsUSA.com and let him know I referred you. He will take photos, of those interested, at the fashion show or will set up a studio session at a later date.

 

 

Upcoming event

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I’m one of the guest speakers for Women Of the World Festival 2018 (WOW Baltimore). I’m going to present a WOW Bite, a feminist corner and 15-minute TED-style talk. If you’re in the Baltimore area, please join me along with thousands of other women, all coming together for a positive cause. Register here

Bald, Beautiful, & Bold Fashion Show

You’re invited!

Thanks to the generous support of Carolyn Phillips, a model and participant in my project, we have secured a venue, the Designers and Models as well as a host and a few celebrity guests, for the 2018 Bald Beautiful & Bold Benefit Fashion Show. Carolyn offered to host this event as a fundraiser for “I Am More Than My Hair” film as well as a bald awareness campaign – #BaldBeautifulBold

The Fashion Show takes place on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at Montgomery Park (1800 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD), from 5pm-7pm. Doors open at 3pm for vendors as well as a meet-and-greet.

Everyone involved has graciously offered to volunteer their time, including all models, make-up artists, designers, photographers, the host, a blogger… the list goes on an on. What a blessing is has been to be a part of a committee dedicated to bringing the fashion show to life, all in support of my film. I am truly grateful.

All we need now is your presence. Tickets are only $25, VIP is $35, and children under 16 are FREE. Purchase your tickets at – http://www.baldbeautifulbold.eventbrite.com/


Alyscia-take-a-pictureBy now you should know that I enjoy creating projects. This time around, it’s a project based off I Am More Than My Hair, a two-part project (film and book).

For consideration in an exhibition with the National Portrait Gallery, I’m looking for bald girls and women who would allow me to photograph them for my application submission. Even better, if I’ve taken your photo for I Am More Than My Hair coffee table book, I already have your story and I wouldn’t’ need you to submit another one for this project.

If you or someone you know interested in participating, please contact me and we’ll set a date.

Trusting the Universe

I’m consciously aware that when life doesn’t flow the way I picture it, I tend to retreat (as I figure out alternative options). For me, those quiet times, helps me to re-cooperate. And although short lived, those moments always brings about great change.

In my previous blog, I shared my frustration with grant funding and the set back incurred due to my slower than expected pace (the politics in grant funding). Although I questioned it, but didn’t throw the towel in, the Universe continues to deliver both hurdles and open doors.

Is that not life in general?

Just when I thought my only option would be to edit the documentary on my own (something I can do but prefer not, given the time constraint), I receive an unexpected email from one Carolyn, one of the participants in my project, as well as a professional model. Her subject read…

“I want to host a fundraiser for you.”

Carolyn explained she would organize a Bald Model Runway Show in which all proceeds will be donated towards my film. I thought to myself, Wow, this is great! And casually asked what I can do to help.

It still didn’t hit me at that point.

It wasn’t until I attended the planning meeting in December, with a room full of other professionals, all volunteering their time to coordinate the runway show, did I realize the magnitude of Carolyn’s beyond kind-hearted gesture.

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It’s kind of crazy that I’ve become so accustomed to giving that when I receive, I have to think it through before I accept. Welcoming the gift of receiving is a much needed change.

I think Carolyn’s generous offer materialized right on time for the New Year. On time for my switch from New Year Resolutions to short and long term goals. On time for my surrender for the need to control every aspect of my life and instead focus on going with the flow (not so hard for a Pisces but definitely challenging as a business owner :).

And as I submerge myself in the journey, I trust that the Universe will always deliver what I need. I avoid the urge to run to the finish line. Strolling and catching the breeze isn’t so bad after all. [For the times I’ll need to run, I’ll simply adjust my stride]

One last note… it’s exciting to see I Am More Than My Hair coffee table book come into fruition. It’s in the second draft stage, with design and editing. The next stage, will be the 3rd draft. Then comes the final draft before production (printing).

Here’s a sneak peak of a few excerpts…

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I am still raising funds for my project and your support is greatly appreciated. If you’d like to contribute, please visit my fiscal sponsors page by clicking this link.

On another note…

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I am honored to be a contributing writer in Goddess: When She Rules

This is the fourth anthology to emerge from the Journey of the Heart Poetry Project. Contributors to this volume share moving personal stories, reflections and poetry exploring and defining the role the goddess plays in each of their lives. Through diverse and evolving relationships with archetypal goddesses, mythical goddesses and the inner goddesses they identify with most, women reveal when and how they feel intimately connected with the sacred feminine.

Purchase your copy.

I Almost Threw In The Towel

As much as I love to give good news, I always want to be open and honest about my hurdles along the way.

I’m exhausted.

It’s as simple as that.

I excitedly reached out to my grantor to inform them that I finally use my grant funding as planned. Keep in mind, the remainder of my grant was supposed to have been released, but because I did not use my previous year’s grant as yet, it has been withheld. {It’s only fair but this is my first grant award and I’m learning that there’s a lot more logistics to the entire process than originally thought it to be.}

My excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I receive the response…

“Is your project complete?”

They can’t be referring to having to the 1,000 copies of I Am More Than My Hair, printed and available for sale? Or so I thought.

I assumed that using my grant money was sufficient for releasing the remaining award and moving on with my project. I thought wrong.

Damn it, another hurdle!

Not only has a set back been obtaining the stories necessary to accompany the photos of all the women in my book, but also obtaining the funding needed to complete it. That’s why the grant was so vital.

My initial response (in my own head)…

“I can’t do this. I’m done!”

It has been frustrating, to say the least, working as a one-woman show. As much as I don’t like to admit this, unfortunately, I’ve had to eliminate multiple women from my project because they either haven’t sent their stories to me on time or have been unresponsive.

If there’s one thing I understand, it is that we all have lives and sometimes making the time to complete “another task” isn’t as urging as our daily routines. Then add the challenges the Universe throws at us from time-to-time.

Today, I made my last attempt to collect the story of one individual, whom hasn’t respond to my emails in over a year. I finally figured I should Google her name to see if her contact info may have changed.

Instead of finding any updates, I found an obituary.

Katie had passed away and I didn’t even know it. I was so stuck in tunnel zone I never thought to reach out to her in another way before this day.

Katie was the first individual to respond to my call for participants {outside of the first groups of women from SWAG and NAAF‘s Facebook post}.  Despite her diagnosed with breast cancer, Katie happily volunteered and often sent positive words of encouragement, especially when I lost the patience with myself and my project. She was never critical and never questioned my timing.

Instead she said…

“It will happen when it’s supposed to. There’s no rush.”

So today, I had to pull myself out of my pity party, say prayers for Katie to rest in peace and the condolences of her family, and remind myself why I started in the first place.

To use my creativity as a pedestal to cultivate awareness, and dispel the myth of a “beauty standard”. I Am More Than My Hair aids in the awareness of alopecia.

And…

I am the vessel given the opportunity to bring it to life.

It has been undeniably challenging, which I am sure is no different from anything you give as a labor of love.

So I move forward knowing that I have to work 10 times harder, but believing that it can and will be done. And although not having the grant on-hand has caused a delay, I can’t give up.

Actually, I take back, because I can.

I won’t.

I thank you for your patience and belief in the work I create, that in some way contributes to social-good, through art.

Enjoy the Holiday!

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Katie… May you continue to Rest In Peace. To her family… I send my condolences and lots of love and light your way.

Peace & Blessings,
Alyscia