The annual AT&T Rising Future Makers Showcase celebrates HBCU students who are making an impact. As a longtime supporter of HBCUs, AT&T Dream in Black is committed to uplifting and empowering future leaders with life-changing opportunities that will take their dreams to new heights.
We meet Kevell Byrd in episode two of The Futurist presented by AT&T Rising Future Makers – a series that showcases students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are making a difference both on and off campus. Byrd sat down with Melissa Butler, founder and CEO of The Lip Bar and FAMU alum, to discuss their connection to HBCUs and how they’re paying it forward to inspire others.
‘Embrace All Those Sides Of Yourself’
In addition to studying Film and Business Administration, Byrd is a student athlete and the official photographer for Dillard University. Butler, who started her career on Wall Street as a licensed stockbroker and analyst before creating her vegan beauty brand The Lip Bar, identified with Byrd’s diverse passions.
“At the end of the day, we’re humans. And so we’re very dynamic,” Butler says. “So while you can be an artist, you can be an athlete … I think it’s so important to embrace all of those sides of yourself. I love that you are following all of your passions because it’s what makes you a whole human being.”
HBCU Network And A Strong Foundation
Butler’s boundary-breaking company The Lip Bar produces vegan and cruelty-free beauty products for women no matter their age, race or body type. Early on, her HBCU network helped build the foundation for the success of the company.
“My very first employees were people from my college,” Butler says. “My very first customers were people from my college, because it allowed for me to have that community and that connectivity where people understood what I was doing.”
Inspiring One Another Through Mentorship
Byrd shares the inspiration behind her photography. It’s about documenting her community, the culture, and sharing that with the world. “I love capturing moments, because you never know what memories somebody wants to hold or what emotions somebody wants to hold,” she says. “For me, being able to collect culture and moments and history and people, and seeing how that grows over time.”
Byrd, who has shot for notable companies through her production company Vell Productions, is sharing her craft by creating a community for her fellow student photographers. “At my school, I’m starting a Black photographer’s club so I could make a mentorship program for the students that want to be photographers or that’s interested in a photography business or just for fun,” says the photographer and entrepreneur.
Butler credits the mentors who supported her along her journey. “There is no way I would have achieved this level of success without mentors,” says the beauty innovator. “My first mentors were my college professors, they were my friends. Sometimes people have this thought that a mentor has to be so much further ahead or so much older. No, it was just people around me who were inspiring me.”
Taking Dreams To New Heights
To support Kevell in taking her dreams to new heights, Butler presents the rising entrepreneur with an award of $5,000 courtesy of AT&T Dream in Black. With it, Byrd will be able to take her photography business to the next level. “This is 100 percent going to be invested into my business which I’m really excited about, because I actually needed some new equipment so I can get better quality images,” she says.
How To Become A Rising Future Maker
If you are or know of a currently enrolled HBCU student, between the ages of 18-25, apply now for the AT&T Rising Future Makers Showcase and $5,000 could be yours.
The application process is officially open for the upcoming cohort of students, offering them the chance to elevate their dreams with unmatched connections, networks, and opportunities that will drive their ambitions forward.
Learn more and apply before November 6 at www.att.com/rfmshowcase.
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