The phrase “Living Your/My Best Life” may have been coined by Oprah and performed by a rapper, but Koshie France executes the words daily through her lifestyle brand that promotes self-care and well-being.
France’s CocoaPariis brand encourages her clients and social media followers to “give yourself whatever you need at that exact moment.” If that means, perhaps, a charcuterie box that you envision yourself sharing with Cardi B, Anthony Bourdain, Michelle Obama or Tracee Ellis Ross, well….. that’s what it means. Add a little sage (for positivity) into the vintage cigar boxes France uses to accent the sharp gruyere, Irish Cheddar, dried Wagyu beef, crackers and veggies and Voila! The IG account explodes!
France, a self-described food stylish, self-care advocate, body-mind designer and global citizen, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, but often traveled overseas with her Ghanaian-born parents. After graduating from Richmond’s Community High School and the University of Richmond, France’s interest in food, fashion and health merged with her savvy use of social media, which she used to build her brand. On her new website – cocoapariis.com– she rates her excitement about life as 8.92, describes herself in a hastag as “a vibe,” and says that she is most inspired right now by “black women.”
Burning candles, buying fresh flowers weekly, visiting new restaurants, reading and indulging in baths and massages further allow France to live her best life. Given what 2020 has given us, shouldn’t we all line up for a sentence, paragraph or page of Koshie France’s playbook?
Of all the hats that Barbara Anderson Bryan has worn – singer, musician, corporate employee, business owner – the one she’s most comfortable sporting these days is that of a chef. Her love for cooking developed when she was in high school and her home economics teacher noticed her culinary talents. The teacher enlisted Bryan to help her cater school-related events. The student excelled. Bryan picked up many of her cooking skills from her father, Herman Anderson, who ran a catering business in their hometown in Richmond, Virginia for many years. Yet, when Bryan attended Virginia Union University, she chose music, a passion shared by her mother and three brothers. Forced to leave VUU due to a lack of money to continue paying for her education at the private, historically black university, Bryan worked several years performing several jobs, the most recent at DuPont in Richmond’s southside. Ready for new challenges after spending five years at DuPont’s Spruance manufacturing plant on Jefferson Davis Highway, Bryan noticed an empty restaurant across the street. The rest is history. LBJ’s @Traditionz Smokehouse has been open a little less than two years and business is booming. Bryan keeps it that way by serving loyal customers crispy hot chicken wings, fish, pork chops and more with all the fixings. But she mainly prides herself on her signature egg rolls filled with surprising secrets designed to please any palate. Here’s her story.
“Big Herm” Baskerville is known as the “Mayor of Two Street” in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Jackson Ward community. Baskerville also is well known throughout central Virginia for his signature dishes, which include mouth-watering fried turkey, burgers, catfish dinners and more that either are sold at his “Big Herm’s Kitchen” take-out business or served through his thriving catering enterprise. Baskerville entered the food and restaurant business after learning how to cook while still in high school.
Honing his craft in corporate kitchens led to Baskerville’s first restaurant more than 10 years ago. He currently is located at 315 N. 2nd St. Richmond, VA 23219. In this video the married father of two who lives in Hanover County talks about his path to success, staying viable in a pandemic, and plans for the 2020 holiday season.
Join geneaologist and cookbook author Bessida Cauthorne White on November 23 at 6:30 pm on Zoom as she discusses holiday cooking meals and rituals in African-American households. She’ll be joined by Media Personality and Virginia Lottery Draw Host Mikki Spencer who will interview Cauthorne White about her work as a genealogist and her cookbooks, “A Reunion of Recipes: The White Family Cookbook” (1990), co-editor of “Help Yourself! There’s a God’s Mighty Plenty: A Treasury of Recipes from the Cauthorne & Brooks Families” (First Edition 2000 and Second Edition 2017), and co-editor of “Gather at the Welcome Table: The Angel Visit Baptist Church Sesquicentennial Cookbook”.
This virtual program is free and you may register here.