A sea of 200 beautiful ladies in red dresses converged upon the Le Meridien Downtown Houston Hotel on Sunday, October 13 for Classy Living Society’s 6th Annual Red Dress Gala and CLS’s launch in Houston, Texas! What an affair! The energy in the Grand Ballroom on the hotel’s 22nd floor was electric and positive, festive and magical!

VIP guests arrived early for a meet and greet reception in the gallery outside of the Ballroom, where the bubbly was flowing and a harpist played tranquil melodies. The VIPs had the opportunity to snap a few photos on the beautiful step & repeat which was covered with a bevy of red roses!

Inside the ballroom, Houston R&B artists Prodigy and Jazz sang a few songs, providing a soulful backdrop to the early beginnings of the event. Excitement and anticipation was in the air! And oh, the decor! Simple, classy, beautiful, perfect. Laik Experiences does it again – designer of luxurious decor. Marble plates, hot pink napkins with festive customized napkin rings adorned with the words “RDG 2019”, drinking glasses were clipped with affirmation cards (“You Go Girl”, “She Ready”, “You Rock”…) and a vase of red, pink, and purple roses as a centerpiece. VIP tables were resplendent in shades of off white with rose gold accessories and utensils. Then the Gala began…

Spoken Word by Kathleen. Powerful is the best way to describe the message celebrating who and what phenomenal women are. Via video on the big screen, Kathleen flowed through “#WeLEADPhenomenally”, a spoken word video that is dedicated to empowering phenomenal women of color “who have accomplished with or without resources, overcoming stigma, breaking through glass ceilings, cultural disparities and at times overwhelmed, battling depression or anxiety.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI0b-LcXbgo). The video was befitting in its content, as the theme of the 6th Annual Red Dress Gala was Access Taken…

With the theme Access Taken, CLS honored and celebrated women who are pioneers in their fields, who have succeeded in the face of adversity and who have defied the odds and used past failures to propel them to amazing successes! The women saluted are bold, fierce, passionate, and strong… #WeLEADPhenomenally

The Gala was hosted by hilarious Atlanta Comedian Lady Q who introduced Singer/Songwriter Jessica Forrest, who sang a rousing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Then, CLS Founder LaShanda Pitts welcomed everyone and shared the honor of receiving a letter from the Mayor of Houston, the Honorable Sylvester Turner. In short, through this correspondence, the Mayor and City Council celebrated Classy Living Society and its Red Dress Gala, welcomed all attendees of the Gala, recognized those honored and expressed gratitude for the commitment of CLS and its impact on the Houston community and the community at large.

At the end of LaShanda’s speech, she introduced a Second Line Band! They played “When The Saints Go Marching In” and walked throughout the crowd playing, and it was one of many times the ladies were on their feet dancing, including during the music segments featuring Prodigy and Jazz! Speaking of music, CLS paid homage to hometown star, Beyonce by playing many of her hits as theme songs! Music was provided by Houston DJ Tay Powers on the one’s and two’s! Ladies, now let’s get in formation, ’cause I slay… The Selfie Challenge was also a big hit! It was a fun and exciting icebreaker. Each attendee was challenged to get out of their seats and take selfies with as many other women in the room as they could! It was amazing!

The honors were many! Crystal Danzey, a member of CLS’s Events Team received the Founder’s Award for her dedication and excellence as a valued member of the team! Much deserved!

CLS Founding Sister Tarrah Smith introduced each honored Access Taken guest/keynote speaker. These four amazing Houston area women CEOs received the Access Taken award, which celebrates the Woman CEO who has literally taken her own access in the business arena. She is inspiring the future Women CEOs – the young girls and women who look up to her as a model of self-confidence, creativity and innovation.

Access Taken Award recipients included:
Khaliah Guillory, Founder and CEO of the Nap Bar
Dr. Bridgette Jenkins, President and CEO of Houston Chapter of Black Nurses Rock
Kim Roxie, CEO and Founder of Lamik Beauty
Tyla-Simone Crayton, 16-year-old CEO of Sienna Sauce

Each took the stage and spoke about the struggles, triumphs, lessons, roadblocks and successes involved in their entrepreneurial journeys. Tyla-Simone Crayton, a 16-year-old entrepreneur spoke about “Access Given” – that she feels honored to have been given access to become who she is today. The voice of our future!

Khaliah Guillory, a spirited motivational speaker, truly electrified the energy in the room; sharing 10 nuggets of knowledge that she learned along her journey as an entrepreneur.

Dr. Bridgette Jenkins, a/k/a Dr. B, and Kim Roxie each shared a story of overcoming adversities that would have caused most to lose their way and give up… yet here they are – phenomenal women who cannot be stopped!

Additional honors included the presentation of the Keep Going Award to three Houston area women who are shining their light in a big way! The Keep Going Award is designed to recognize and give accolades to those who represent excellence in their tireless efforts in giving back to the community and otherwise providing inspiration to succeed. Recipients of this award are chosen from those highlighted in the Chronicles Too! CLS believes in providing support to these individuals – to let them know we are behind them all the way and to encourage them to #keepgoing.

Keep Going Award honorees include:

Dr. Glenda Demas, Pearls of Change, LLC
Carissa Stephens, She’s ChaRISSmatic.com
Bri Braggs, Fertile Alchemy

Last but not least, Classy Living Society’s coveted Classy Living Award was presented to Sock Out Poverty, a nonprofit organization which is the brainchild of 15-year-old Princess Jackson with her mother, Phyllis Burton at the helm! There was not a dry eye in the place as Princess Jackson spoke; she was overcome with gratitude and her energy filled the room! Attendees of the 6th Annual Red Dress Gala donated pairs of socks that were given to Sock Out Poverty to further their efforts in the community. Additional donations were given, and are still open for giving; follow the link to donate: https://www.sockoutpoverty.org/donate

Read about these remarkable women and girls in their features in this CLS on the Move edition!

Congratulations are also in order for Volunteer of the Year! The Founding Sisters of CLS presented this honor to Sabrena Thomas and for her dedication to the organization and service to the community, Sabrena was gifted with a $500 travel gift card toward travel sponsored by CLS Travels.

Speaking of membership…membership is now open for Houston area women! Visit the Classy Living Society website and click “Become a Member” – Built on sisterhood; igniting change… https://cls-volunteer.org/become-a-member/

It was a beautiful day of smiles and laughter, love, hugs, sisterhood bonding, magic, music, dancing, luxurious decor, great food and red dresses! Like-minded women networked and mingled and new friendships and alliances were forged. Thank you, Houston for your gracious hospitality and a Red Dress Gala we all will never forget!

Kim Roxie
LAMIK Beauty Founder and CEO

Kim Roxie has been at the forefront of celebrating the beauty of multicultural women since she founded LAMIK in 2004, while still a college student in Atlanta. She didn’t set out to become an entrepreneur at 21 but was inspired to create her own line when she researched the ingredients in the brands available to her customers while working at a cosmetics counter part-time while in school. Dismayed by the unhealthy ingredients she uncovered, Kim decided to become the change she was looking for and founded LAMIK, an environmentally conscious cosmetics line that would not only look good on women of color but also be good for them. By naming her brand LAMIK, which means Love And Makeup in Kindness, Kim signaled that her brand was about more than makeup. She believes in promoting a deeper meaning of beauty, that it emanates from the inside out.

Khaliah Guillory
Founder and CEO, Nap Bar

The creative mind behind Nap Bar is Khaliah O. Guillory. As a previous C-level executive, she knows a thing or two about handling stress.

Nap Bar, the first hospital-grade napping experience in Texas, offers communities and companies onsite and in-suite rest services to help reduce sleep deprivation and increase productivity.

Nap Bar’s mission is to turn sustainable rest into sustainable productivity for the health-conscious professionals, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home parents and travelers.

Based on Khaliah’s philanthropy work in the community, Mayor Sylvester Turner declared October 29 as Khaliah Guillory Day.

Dr. Bridgette Jenkins
President and CEO, Houston Chapter of Black Nurses Rock

Dr. Bridgette has over 20 years of nursing and healthcare experience and has worked in many different areas of nursing throughout her career. She is currently a Professor at Houston Baptist University. She is the author of three books and will be releasing her fourth book this fall. She is also a radio show host; her show, Bounce Back Monday’s with Dr. B can be heard on gospelradionation.com & on Facebook Live each Monday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

She is the CEO & President of the Houston Chapter of Black Nurses Rock and is committed to changing the lives of the citizens in the Houston area and surrounding communities through service and education. She has been an Ambassador and Instructor with the American Heart Association since 2006. She is a trained speaker and certified instructor with the capabilities of teaching life saving courses to healthcare professionals and to the community.

Tyla-Simone Crayton
CEO, Sienna Sauce

Tyla-Simone Crayton is the fifteen-year-old CEO of a Houston, Texas based company called Sienna Sauce in Houston, Texas. The young foodie relocated from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York to the Sienna Plantation area of Texas, hence the brand name Sienna Sauce. In an effort to recreate a flavor of sauce she missed from back home, she experimented and stirred up some flavors that she enjoyed far superior! Tyla-Simone has always had a creative spirit and decided that selling sauce would be a great idea; and in the spring of 2017, she launched Sienna Sauce from her home kitchen.

The company currently has grown in flavors. Since launching, Sienna Sauce has already been recognized for its taste and quality. The brand participated, and won, “Best Sauce” in the 2018 and 2019 Sauce-A-Holic Fest, competing against 15 competitive brands! The young CEO says the sauce is multi-purpose, and can be used on anything! It’s great on meat, fish and vegetables.

Tyla-Simone is an honor student at Ridge Point High School receiving awards in academic excellence and critical thinking. Outside of the classroom she plays basketball, is a member of student council, serves as a board member of the Black History Club, a member of the American Sign Language club (ASL), and she is a community volunteer.

Dr. Glenda Demas
Founder, Pearls of Change

Glenda Evette Demas is a native Houstonian whose inspiration and passion for raising awareness over the importance of mental health came from her own personal struggles, and desire to ensure that others know that mental illness is not a stigma. Her efforts are spent working with individuals struggling with PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal Ideations, Bi-Polar Disorder, and Substance Abuse Disorders just to name a few. In addition, she holds a contract as an At-Risk High School Counselor. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional specializing in PTSD, ART Therapy, Conflict Resolution, Crisis Intervention, Behavioral Health, and Anger-Management.

Carissa Stephens

As a serial entrepreneur, Carissa is the Owner of ShesChaRISSmatic.com, an inspirational lifestyle blog and store dedicated to inspiring “the charismatic woman” in all of us, co-Founder of NaturallyGG, a natural hair/ health brand with over 83,000 YouTube subscribers, founding member of TXture Tribe LLC and is the Director of Business Development and Client Relations for her and her husband’s commercial law firm, Stephens PLLC.

Carissa reaches a global audience as a beauty influencer, hostess and public speaker. She has worked with many national brands to include L’Oréal Paris USA, CURLS and Shea Moisture to mention a few, and has also achieved partnerships with global brands such as Amazon. She recently had the opportunity to host the Beauty and Style stage at ESSENCE Festival. She’s received such honors as Who’s Who in Black Houston by the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce and has been featured as “Woman of Houston”.

Bri Braggs
Founder, Fertile Alchemy

Bri Braggs is a content curator and the founder of Fertile Alchemy – she is passionate about fertility, delicious food, and making wellness accessible to all women.

Born in Oklahoma City, Bri packed her bags and relocated to Houston, Texas in 2013. Having a background in the fashion and retail industry, Bri worked with small locally owned businesses as a retail buyer and social media manager. After she was let go from her job in 2014, Bri decided to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

After working with many different clients, Bri decided to expand her reach and launch her signature Aromatic Oil. After great success, in 2018 she decided to shift her focus from working with clients to creating amazing products and finally writing her much awaited book.

Princess Jackson
Founder, Sock Out Poverty

Each year, the Red Dress Gala serves to honor and applaud the extraordinary work of organizations we are passionate about. This year we honored Sock Out Poverty with the 2019 Classy Living Award!

Sock Out Poverty is a nonprofit organization that was birthed by fifteen-year-old actress and model, Princess Jackson. Because of her passion to give back to the community and her fondness for socks, Sock Out Poverty was created. Princess gives the most needed, yet overlooked, item to the less fortunate, and that’s a new pair of socks. Her goal is to reduce poverty and provide socks for the less fortunate, therefore Socking Out Poverty One Step At A Time!

To date, Sock Out Poverty, Inc. has given out more than 10,000 pairs of new socks in the Houston, Beaumont, San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta and California areas. Our goal is to go global and “Sock Out Poverty” all over the world.

Sock Out Poverty, Inc. has received donations from national businesses including Walmart, Sam’s Club, The Floyd Mayweather Jr Foundation, and comedian and TV host Steve Harvey.

Congratulations, Sock Out Poverty! We applaud and celebrate you for your tremendous contribution to society!

For more information on Sock Out Poverty, including donation information, visit their website: https://www.sockoutpoverty.org/

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