We had the good fortune of connecting with Kirsten Pannell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kirsten, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Melanated Moments was created by the people for the people. I follow a three “C” philosophy; Connect, Community, and Conquer: We must connect the community in order to conquer the disparities that have been placed upon us time and time again. When Melanated Moments was placed into my heart and hands I had no idea what doors it would open nor what paths it would lead me down. I had one goal in mind which was to offer the people in the low economic communities that surround me access to holistic and natural healing. See where I am from, we are infested with liquor stores, smoke shops, and a McDonalds on almost every other corner. It wasn’t until I was working in Santa Monica ( a more prominent city in Los Angeles, CA) that my eyes were slapped open to see how disproportionately affected my community was from that of a nearby city. Economically, financially, socially, and in health, I began to see the lack of access we had to a better living. While working in Santa Monica I was like Jasmine and Aladdin in a whole new world. Not because this city was foriegn to me, but because now I was in the day to day life of it as opposed to a weekend of fun in it. As I worked with my clients I began to notice the difference in the air quality, families bonding in the middle of a work day, and most importantly how there were homeopathic pharmacies, juice bars, and yoga studies on almost every other corner. Huge difference in comparison to where I resided. I started with creating natural products by hand with love in hopes that people in my community would vere away from toxic bath products that we purchase every day. Our skin is our largest organ and with that, 60% of what we put on our skin enters into our bloodstream. Thus adding to the harmful toxins we introduce to our body in an entire day. This was my way of contributing to the wholeness of my people. I began to learn and with learning comes teaching so I began to teach by hosting intuitive workshops like our Sage and Sip℠ and Manifest and Sip. We have to take this moment to note that it’s not that Black people are ignorant and unwilling to live a healthier lifestyle but it’s the fact that we simply do not have access to these means. Here swoops in Melanated Moments. We create “Natural products made to nourish the skin and soothe the soul.” With that, my luxurious line of products are designed to force people to have some type of self care/self love regimen. Self care is like magic and who doesn’t enjoy a great magic trick? Once you have decided to take your power and dedicate it to yourself you would be surprised by the tricks you can bypass and overcome. What better way to wash off the dirt (literally and spiritually) of the day than doing it with products made from Mother Earth’s purest elements not only nurturing the skin but also allowing a people who may feel as though they wear the world on their shoulders to be still, be one, and be whole. When I am asked what is the driving force of the success of my brand, my answer will always be “For my people to be HEALTHY ,WHOLE, and HEALED.”

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
While Melanated Moments is my life’s gift, we still have to consider that I am a small business (for now), I am a mother, and a single woman at that. So while working to get my business to be my main source of Income, I still have to focus on the present as many of us do and make a primary source of Income. I have been in the healthcare industry for the last 10 years. I can honestly say that helping others has always been a passion of mine. It started with the elderly In specific. When I was just a very young girl, I found myself saying a silent prayer in the back seat of my Mother’s car for every elder I saw walking or sitting at the bus stop. I can’t recall the prayers verbatim but as a 5 year old child I can only imagine they went something like “Dear God, please let that old person make it home safely.” When I was 12 years old my Granny fell ill and suffered from a major stroke. Her entire left side of her body and brain was paralyzed. My mother took on a huge role, quite her $75,000 per year career and decided that she would be the only one to care for my Granny and not a facility where so many seniors succumb. As a teen up into my early 20’s, I began to assist my mother with my Granny’s care needs; watching her while my mother went out for errands, feeding her and grooming her, all while providing her with the love she needed. As the years progressed my helping hand grew bigger. Now it was time to put my big girl underwear on and lift my Granny in and out of bed, give her bed baths, prepare and cook meals, medication management, and change her adult briefs. Surprisingly these things came with grace and ease for me and to put the cherry on the cake I thoroughly enjoyed helping my mom with the care of my beloved Grandmother. Unknowingly, the universe led me to seek a degree in nursing shortly after my Son was born in order to provide a better life for us both. I can easily say that the 16 months that I was in school was one of the most challenging times I faced In life. I was a single mother of a newborn, 22 years old, still living at home with my mother, receiving income from the county, catching the bus to and from class, all to get home and study long periods of time while feeding and rocking my Son. Nevertheless, after every level of the 16 month program I surprised myself and continuously moved forward to the next level. Despite all the challenges, hurdles, and tears I endured during the process, I completed the program and graduated. The week before I was scheduled to take my Nursing Exam my Dear sweet Granny passed away. As you can imagine, this loss took me down by the lake. I went into a deep depression. I was unable to focus on my studies for the state boards. Me being the resilient woman that I am, I went ahead and took my exam knowing that I was not in the right headspace. Guess what! I failed! I fail into a deeper darkness after that. I couldn’t help but think that I had worked so hard all that time and I just slid it down the drain in a matter of hours. After the sun began to poke out of the clouds again, I took a leap of faith and applied to be a caregiver at an assisted living/memory care facility. Although it was not what I ventured out to accomplish in the first place, it was definitely a start to get my feet wet and hands on experience working with Geriatrics outside of my Granny and clinicals. To my surprise, I thrived and excelled when it came to the daily care of my residents so much so that family members only wanted to communicate with me, managers would call me to calm residents down, and within a matter of months I was promoted to be a Medication Technician where I managed and handled over 80 residents medication intake on a daily basis and oversaw the workflow of many caregivers. It wasn’t until it was time for me to achieve something higher that I realized I was doing exactly what I was meant to do in that moment. My last day of that job, my residents sobbed and showered me with gifts all while thanking me for providing them with the care and affection the facility lacked. I knew that I made an impact and more specially, an impact on a demographic that had been around the sun more than 70 times! From there I did private care in Santa Monica and during my time there I was introduced to a new way of living than what I had experienced in my community. Santa Monica shortly served its purpose and it was life changing. I walked out on faith and applied to be a Care Manager for a startup home health company. I figured that I was so great at providing care that I would be able to train other caregivers to do just the same. I was hired and I did just that! Within a few months of time I was graciously promoted based on my hard work and dedication, to Office Manager. I have been in this position for 4 years now and it has opened many doors for me including providing me with the income to live comfortably and invest in starting Melanated Moments. It is important for us to have faith in the universe for no path nor turn Is wrong if we are doing the right thing, When one door closes another one opens. Sometimes those opened doors have nothing to do with the last door exited and that is completely ok. I can tell you that when those doors do open up in sequences then it all makes sense when it comes together. Don’t give up!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a city girl at heart! I thrive off of the liveliness of the city. My best friend is definitely more of a homebody than I am so I would keep it calm and mellow with a tad bit of thrill. Monday for Brunch we would head over to this cute and lively restaurant called 26 Beach in Venice, Ca where there is a heated garden, retractable roof, amazing food like chicken and waffles with a side of Jerk sauce, and couture photo areas. From there we would hit the streets of Venice with the windows down and music loud embracing the warm California breeze and view of the Palm trees and make our way to the Santa Monica Pier. There are many things to do at the Pier and the lights gleam beautifully off the water at night. We would walk the pier while talking, laughing, and catching up. The Ferris wheel is a must while at the pier along with a freshly fried funnel cake and vanilla Ice cream slowly melting at the top. Tuesday! What’s life without Taco Tuesday? Regency West in Los Angeles, is the place to be on a Tuesday. Although the crowd is a little bit older, they party just how I like. Not to mention the turkey tacos are to die for. Wednesday we need to work off all the delicious food, drinks and dessert we’ve been eating so we will attend Ms. Debbi’s Zumba class free of charge over at the Crenshaw mall. This class is far from mediocre so I’m sure Bestfriend would like to go home, shower, and watch Game of Thrones with me until she passes out. Thursdays are for thirties lol. We’re keeping it low today with a get together at the house along with other friends, games, and drinks. Friday evening we’ll have fun at the Sugar factory in Century City while toasting with smokey, candied drinks. The vibe here is amazing during the evening as they play today’s latest hits, it’s lit with fires, and the view of the city is a sight to see. Saturdays are for small business and what better place to support than in Leimert Park AKA Africa Town. There are book shops, small restaurants, coffee shops, herb shops, activities, community and vendors all looking to make some change and a difference. Leimert Park’s vibes are out of this world! Sundays are fun days. Sundays in Los Angeles are big as motorcycles, antique cars, and racing cars come together and we just cruise the streets. Sundays are designated for a NO BS day!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Tanesha “Ms. Tee” Morrison- owner of Empowerher Experience, Slaycation photography/Travel, and Group leader of the S.L.A.Y (Simply Live As You) Women’s group. Tanesha wears many hats and makes sure she does her best at wearing them all. As one of her business consulting clients, I can honestly say that the love she has for seeing her fellow women success is astonishing, She is always going above and beyond to make she has colleagues and not clients.

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