Niki McGloster


Niki McGloster

AfroTech blogger

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Hanifa's Anifa Mvuemba Looks For New Ways to Use Tech in Fashion and Shares Advice For Emerging Designers

Congolese designer Anifa Mvuemba staged one of the most groundbreaking runway shows last Spring. Picture it: curve-hugging dresses, waist-cinching tops, and floor-sweeping pants sashaying down an invisible catwalk — but make it 3D. Mvuemba’s futuristic and captivating showcase of the Pink Label Congo collection for her Hanifa brand aired on Instagram and put her on the fashion industry’s radar. Since, Mvuemba’s stunning, sophisticated designs have been worn by stars like Zendaya and Beyoncé, and on fashion magazine covers, including InStyle. Though she hasn’t quite caught up with all the attention she’s received from her first big moment in the fashion spotlight, she’s vigorously working to outdo herself. “There are still so many things lingering from last year,” she says. “My team and I are just starting to breathe again. I’m always challenging myself to elevate my brand and to be a step ahead.” AfroTech caught up with Mvuemba to discuss tech in fashion, advice for emerging...

Mar 31, 2021

CEO of Lobos 1707 Dia Simms is Building a 'Bigger Table' For a More Inclusive Spirits Industry

Every move corporate powerhouse Dia Simms makes is to create more opportunities for minorities and women. “Representation is sorely lacking, and I really believe it’s important that we make sure we repeat that over and over again — and change it. ” The former DeLeón executive was recently named the CEO of Lobos 1707, a luxe tequila and mezcal brand founded by Diego Osorio and backed by basketball star LeBron James. Simms’ inspiration for her journey began in East Elmhurst, Queens, where she had a front-row seat to Salt-N-Pepa who danced in a neighboring backyard. Witnessing this female duo grow into a global phenomenon subconsciously impacted her to see the power in culture and the almighty buying power of the Black community. Since then, Simms has served as the first president of Combs Enterprises and one of the few Black women to navigate the spirits world as an executive. So, how can Black women have a seat at the table? Simms suggests that “we build a bigger table.” Editorial...

Mar 23, 2021

Black Women Artists Rewina Beshue and Lalese Stamps Are Featured in Vans' Digital Museum

Vans isn’t just skating through Women’s History Month with performative actions — the brand is providing resources to women-identifying creators. This month, instead of spending its allocated budget on traditional ads, Vans dedicated those resources to creatives — including mixed-media artist Rewina Beshue and ceramicist Lalese Stamp — to actually create inspiring works for a digital museum. The online exhibit showcases drawings, sculptures, music videos, custom shoes, digital animations, and more. “I’m drawn to projects that uplift and shine a light on topics that are important to Black women taking up space in the art world,” said Beshue. “I love using my art and my platform to promote representation and inclusivity. Growing up, there wasn’t much Black representation in the art world, or at least I wasn’t exposed to it. It was hard to find. It’s really important that we use our platforms to promote representation of creative women in the mainstream world.” “I’ve always worn Vans,”...

Mar 22, 2021

Voice Actors Anairis Quiñones and Zeno Robinson are Helping Redefine Blackness in Anime

Black people have always loved anime, whether their fandom began with “Sailor Moon” and “Pokémon” or they cut their teeth on “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball Z.” But much like other creative mediums, the relationship between the Japanese animation medium and its Black characters has been one in need of more accurate and diverse representation. Over the years, award-winning Funimation voice actors Anairis Quiñones and Zeno Robinson — best known for their roles as Mirko and Hawks in “My Hero Academia”— have seen more progression in anime away from its problematic beginnings. “‘Cyborg 009’is a legendary series from the ’80s, and its character Pynuma’s portrayal from the ’80s till now has drastically changed,” said Robinson, who has studied under greats like Phil LaMarr, Ginny McSwain, and Tony Oliver. “His first portrayal had big lips and exaggerated features, but as time progressed, his character design changed to look more like an actual human being. It’s a testament to the times.” Quiñones...

Feb 24, 2021

Meet Erik 'Mr. Patents' Young, the Inventor of the First Wireless DJ Speaker System, Audios

Most inventors can recount the “aha” moment when their idea clicked. However, for Florida-born Erik Young, the inventor of Audios, the first wireless DJ speaker system, the path was much more winding. Co-founder and CEO of Audios and multiple patent holder, Young started his path in the streets — a detailed story he hopes to tell later in his career ascension — but eventually course-corrected and landed at Hewlett-Packard. “I created this thing called the fault table that ships in every HP server even today, but they weren’t paying me the equivalent to how valuable it is to their business,” said Young as the reason for his departure from his six-year tenure at the company. In 2015, with no set plan, he headed to Silicon Valley where his hustler spirit reignited to cross off his laundry list of ideas, one of which was a Bluetooth speaker. From there, a series of false-starts costly prototypes, and testing almost forced Young to reconsider his speaker invention altogether until...

Feb 22, 2021

BLK's 'Once You Go BLK' Campaign Highlights the Beauty of Black Love

Black love is typically just seen through the lens of romance. But for BLK, their platform is created to be a loving space for the Black community, no matter their reason for joining. Of course, the Match Group extension, which launched in 2017, is primarily a place for Black singles to connect and potentially find a life partner, but BLK is also a hub for enlightening conversations around social issues and a space to reaffirm the Black American experience. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, BLK launched “Once You Go BLK” campaign, a celebration of the unlimited potential of Black love. The initiative showcases the journeys of BLK users and small business owners to acknowledge how real people date. “Once You Go BLK embraces the culture of the Black community, while also shedding light on important community topics from state violence to supporting Black-owned businesses,” said Jonathan Kirkland, Head of Marketing & Brand for BLK. “Our ambition for this campaign is to foster more...

Feb 14, 2021

Black Pioneers Whose Inventions and Leadership Helped Shape the Billion-Dollar Gaming Industry

Gaming is a billion-dollar industry (and counting) that often neglects or shuts out Black gamers. Though overlooked, Black developers, engineers, programmers, and gamers have skillfully contributed to the business. High-profile founders like Dennis Matthews and popular streaming gamers like Swagg continue to bring visibility to the Black gaming community, but before them, who laid the foundation? Let’s take a moment to salute the three Black pioneers who helped shape the modern gaming industry. Gerald “Jerry” Lawson As a kid, Queens, New York native Jerry Lawson nurtured his love for electronics. He repaired TVs as a teen and made walkie-talkies. He eventually became an engineer and designer at Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp’s gaming division in the ’70s. There, Lawson led the team that invented the Fairchild Channel F (“F” is for fun), the first-ever video game console that allowed gamers to play several different games on one system via the first video game cartridge. It...

Feb 11, 2021

Thank These 4 Black Women Who Invented the Foundation For Modern-Day Entertainment

Black History Month is always a beautiful (albeit too short) celebration of Black excellence across the diaspora throughout the years. And let’s be honest, there’s a host of things that wouldn’t exist without Black women, including much of today’s modern-day entertainment. Black women, like Dr. Shirley Jackson, invented technologies that changed communication, and as a result, enhanced the way we are entertained, whether watching a basketball game on TV, streaming a movie on Hulu, or throwing a party via Zoom. Without further ado, tip your hat to these four Black women inventors who laid the groundwork for modern-day technology. Martha Jones Before we honor the women who are responsible for modern-day entertainment, we must salute Martha Jones from Amelia County, VA. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Jones became the first Black woman to be granted a U.S. patent in May 1868. Although her invention, a cornhusker, is unrelated to entertainment, we can assume...

Feb 2, 2021

Buttah Skin Founder Dorión Renaud is Building a Beyoncé-Co-Signed Skincare Brand For Black People

From faith the size of an unwanted blemish grows a Beyoncé-stamped skincare brand, and that’s on serial entrepreneur Dorión Renaud. The Beaumont, TX native founded Buttah Skin for men, women, and non-gendered people in 2018 after stumbling upon a self-mix set of natural ingredients that finally faded his hyperpigmentation. Now, after bootstrapping his business for two years, Renaud’s skincare collection — fully loaded with a serum, sonic brush, toner, several creams, and beauty bars — is a beloved brand made for “melanin-rich skin,” specifically. “Everyone from the director of the shoots to the stylists to the makeup artists is all Black, and that’s the only way that this brand is able to be successful,” he tells AfroTech. “We are inclusive, but it’s so important that I work with people that understand our beauty and culture to be able to shape the beauty industry.” By the summer of 2020, while already serving a growing customer base, Buttah Skin popped up on virtually everyone’s...

Jan 29, 2021

How Serial Entrepreneur Courtne Smith Evolved Prize Giveaways Into Snapchat-Backed Social Polling App NewNew

Most people probably want to ask Courtne Smith about her time spent as Drake’s personal assistant and member of his management team. Working closely with one of the biggest pop stars and successful businessmen as his friend and right hand probably yields some inspiring, lifelong knowledge (and we get to that). But the more interesting thing about Courtne Smith, the co-founder and CEO of the polling app NewNew, is her ability to evolve her businesses and fearlessly meet new challenges along the way. It should be noted, this isn’t Smith’s first rodeo in business or tech. A serial entrepreneur, Smith previously launched the prize giveaway app Suprize in 2018. Users were given chances to win cool items, including concert tickets, Kylie cosmetics, and Nike sneakers. Then, Smith and her business partner Filip Diarra decided brands wouldn’t give away free goods forever, so they evolved Suprize into NewNew, which allows users to personalize polls around various topics using videos, popular...

Jan 14, 2021

Jay-Z to Premiere New Digital Video Series 'High Tales' For Cannabis Brand Monogram

A surprise to no one, the launch of Jay-Z’s debut cannabis line Monogram was pretty flawless—polished packaging, an alluring rollout, and satisfied customers . To further promote his new foray in the marijuana business, the multi-hyphenate mogul is set to launch “High Tales,” a digital video series featuring Jadakiss, N.O.R.E., 2 Chainz, The-Dream, and more. The new series will illuminate memorable stories about artists’ experiences with cannabis. From humorous narratives to unexpected, thrilling anecdotes, each personality will illustrate how weed not only brings people together but also aids in the creation of impactful music, art, and creativity. “Weed breaks the tension in any room,” Jada says in the teaser. “Without no good weed, the song might be garbage. That shows you the power of the cannabis.” Jada is up first for episode one, where he’ll detail his first time smoking with Snoop Dogg. In addition, future episodes will center on N.O.R.E., 2 Chainz, and The-Dream, but the...

Jan 7, 2021

Boston Red Sox Hire Bianca Smith, the First Black Woman to Coach Professional Baseball

Bianca Smith is having a great start to the new year. The Boston Red Sox recently hired Bianca Smith as minor league coach making Smith the first Black woman to coach professional baseball, reports Boston Globe. “She was a great candidate coming in,” said Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett. “She’s had some really interesting experiences and has been passionate about growing her skillset and development herself.” Prior to joining the Sox staff, the 29-year-old played softball at Dartmouth College. She also served as a baseball operations intern with the Texas Rangers in 2017 and interned for the Cincinnati Reds baseball operations in 2019. Currently, she serves as an assistant baseball coach and hitting coordinator at Carroll University in Wisconsin under head coach Stein Rear. "I wanted to learn more about how the body actually worked." – New @RedSox minor league coach Bianca Smith on studying biomechanics to help gain an edge. Full #MLBNHotStove chat:...

Jan 5, 2021

Findings Suggest These Silicon Valley VCs are Least Likely to Invest in Black Businesses

Diversity and inclusivity have been trending since protests against systemic racism reached fever pitch this summer. As many companies scrambled to prove their support of Black lives, other entities have continued to shutout Black creativity, ideas, and wealth. Ahead of the new year, The Startup Pill reported on Silicon Valley’s top 25 venture capital firms least likely to invest in founders of color. The information is compiled of data from The Black Founders List, which serves as a running historical record of Black founders and the investors who invested in them. The list names well-known firms that have less than five Black-led investments while boasting thousands of investments and billions in revenue. The Startup Pill says that only one percent of venture-backed companies are led by Black founders. “On a macro level, the lack of diversity in the industry is a problem because it means most of the money flows to types of founders VCs understand — businesses with white men of a...

Dec 31, 2020

LeBron James Invests in New Tequila Founded by Former Deleón Exec Dia Simms

LeBron James is the king of off-court investments. Back in November, the Lakers player invested in Lobos 1707 Tequila, an agave spirits brand founded by former Deleón execs Dia Simms and Diego Osorio, reports The Spirits Business. James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter co-led the backing as part of the Main Street Advisors’ (MSA) investment group. Additionally, basketball players Anthony Davis and Draymond Green, American sports agent Rich Paul, and investment firm Torch Capital have backed the tequila brand. “I knew the first time I tasted Lobos 1707 Tequila that it was special,” said James. “Lobos 1707 is about celebrating the strength of the group and bringing people together. It’s about shared passion and values. I love sipping Tequila with my friends, and we want a brand that speaks to us.”   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Dia Simms (@diasimms) Lobos 1707 is a 100 percent espadín agave roasted in an open Oaxacan fire pit. The brand includes an...

Dec 30, 2020

This Small Idea Became a Huge Cultural Phenomenon—and All It Took Was a Little Courage

Frito-Lay’s beloved cheesy snack, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, is everywhere and has been for quite some time. The crunchier, spicier sister to the OG puffs have grown from being just a pass-around, finger-licking food item in first period to an undefeated pop-culture phenomenon. The brain behind the explosive invention is Richard Montañez, a Cucamonga-born janitor who spent his downtime learning the business in the mid-1980s, a Twitter user wrote about Montañez’s story. Eventually, his initiative landed him a meeting with Frito-Lay’s CEO, where he pitched a product inspired by Mexican elote that caters to Latinos. If you’ve ever tasted Flamin’ Hot Cheetos then you know how the story ends, but most importantly, Montañez became a VP and amassed a $20 million fortune. 5) Richard made it his mission to be the best janitor Frito-Lay had ever seen. He spent his off-time learning about the company's products, manufacturing, marketing and more. He even asked salesmen to tag along and watch them...

Dec 29, 2020