Sofiya Ballin came up with the idea for her latest project in her living room, dancing to “1 Thing” by rhythm-and-blues artist Amerie.
“I feel like as women, especially when we listen to hip hop, we don’t hear our voice often,” Ballin, a 2014 journalism alumna, said to the audience. “And I realized that when I hear my voice, I work harder, I move faster, I feel motivated, I feel uplifted and inspired. So I said, ‘You know what, I want to throw a party with all music by women, spun by women.’”
Ballin organized The Electric Lady Series, a series of women-centered events that began on Tuesday and ends on Sunday. Event coordinators Keturah Benson, 2015 journalism alumna Lara Witt, 2016 media studies and production alumna Melissa Ly and senior secondary education major Alexis Mercado helped Ballin produce the series.
The event For Us By Us on Wednesday at the African American Museum on Arch Street near 7th featured a panel discussion about the challenges and benefits of starting a business.
The panel included three Temple alumnae, including Rakia Reynolds, a 2001 marketing and international business alumna who is the founder and CEO of the public relations company Skai Blue Media. 2006 entrepreneurship alumna Yasmine Mustafa also spoke about her company ROAR for Good, which advocates for female empowerment by distributing wearable self-defense apparatuses. Another panelist, 2005 accounting alumna Ariell Johnson, discussed her business Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, which made her the first Black female comic shop owner on the East Coast.
“This is a panel filled with women who I admire from afar, so I’m really happy to have them here,” Ballin said to the audience.
Mercado facilitated the discussion by asking the panelists questions — one being what inspired them to start their businesses.
When Johnson’s mother passed away, she said she realized the importance of accomplishing her dreams in the amount of time she has left.
“She was never ever able to start her own business but that was always something she wanted to do and just did not get a chance to do it,” Johnson said to the audience. “And that reminded me of my own mortality.”
Johnson said her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit, along with the support of her family, inspired her to follow her passion and open her comic store and coffee shop.
There were four other events this week, including an art showcase called U.N.I.T.Y on Friday, a dance party called Freakum Dress on Saturday and a yoga, meditation and journaling class called Cranes in the Sky on Sunday.
Ballin said she wanted to create a series of events that explored why women need to celebrate themselves and the importance of feminism for all.
“[As women], we are conditioned to always serve, to always put others first before ourselves,” Ballin said. “And sometimes, especially as women of color, we forget the value of the work that we do, which is why I think it’s really important to have this.”
Taylor Horn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.