The best advice I ever received was to always love, respect and be proud of who I am. Do the things that I love to do, always remember to laugh. Be bold and create what I want in my life and know that I’m worth it. Learn the power of forgiveness. To trust my own voice and instincts.
(Editor’s Note: The following narrative is in Monica’s own words.)
What Makes You Feel Beautiful’s mission is to provide empowerment, positive self-esteem and inspirational programs to all women and girls. Our goal is to enhance their lives through positive and uplifting programs, workshops, advertisements and events. We serve to inspire advancement with our programs that increase confidence, courage and personal development for all women and girls regardless of race, ethnicity, income level or social status.
What Makes You Feel Beautiful provides access to opportunities such as being a spokesmodel for inner beauty at campaigns, workshops, empowerment programs, commercials and conferences.
What makes you feel beautiful?, is my biggest inspiration.
As an artist, my inspiration comes from being in nature because of its profound power. I feel a sense of freedom in nature, gratitude and my true and honest expression comes alive.
I absolutely need art and using multiple forms as a way to journey through life. While photography has long been my first love, I spent the first part of my career working as a licensed Cosmetologist and professional make-up artist. (graduated from Essex County Technical Careers) worked at A Cut Above the Rest- on Broad St. in Newark NJ for almost 10 years. During that time I took a job doing hair and makeup on commercial shoots in New York, California, and Texas. As I perfected my skills in cosmetology I relocated to Charlotte NC in 1996 and opened a Beauty Salon – Essential Arts Studio. In 1998 I decided I wanted to honor one of my clients each month and share their stories with other women like my colleagues, friends, family members and women who have always been an inspiration for me. I wanted to find a way to give back to my community and my clients and I wanted to do something special to honor women.
I thought by offering to do a complementary beauty photoshoot and makeover of my most inspiring clients would be a nice way to honor them. They would come in and see their beautiful pictures from their photo session enlarged framed and hung on the walls of my Beauty Salon. Also as part of their gift, they received copies of the pictures from their photoshoot.
That went well so after a few years of doing that I asked women to share with me what made them feel beautiful? from the inside and if I could share their answer on my website?
Since then hundreds of women and counting have shared their thoughts on inner beauty, “what makes them feel beautiful” and have had their beauty photo-shoots for free. Published on a website about inner beauty.
After 17 years of cosmetology work I went to The Showcase School Of Photography in Atlanta GA and began to follow my dreams of becoming a professional photographer.
After completing several Photography courses, and working under seasoned photographers, I closed my hair salon and dedicated myself to Photography full-time. I relocated to Atlanta, GA and right away I began work in media and commercial photography, photographing celebrities and Red Carpet events. And started my own photography business and Keep the name from my salon Essential Arts Studio.
Through all the moves and changes in my life, the one thing I managed to keep going was my campaign (wmyfb) about inner beauty and the empowerment of women. It really has evolved and morphed into a great healing movement for thousands including myself. The women now are interviewed and tell bold, uplifting and encouraging stories. Through this journey, I want to reach billions of hearts with the message of self-love. And I know It’s possible.
I moved back to NJ in 2009 and worked at Hudson Pride Connections in Jersey City as Director of Programs and curator of the 32 Jones Gallery. That’s where I met my soulmate and now wife Sheila Marrow we lived in New York together before moving to Hawaii. We live on a farm in a tropical rainforest setting and starting a family business -Marrow Greens. Sheila became my biggest supporter for wmyfb and now works with me to continue with its mission.
Once a woman becomes “beauty of the month” for WMYFB and is honored with her own beauty spread, she’s then considered a spokesmodel for inner beauty. The spokesmodels help by speaking and being a part of our women’s empowerment events, and with other nonprofit organizations that are geared toward the health and well-being of women.
What Makes You Feel Beautiful, was created to empower, encourage and inspire women to realize their self worth and inner beauty. This is important to me because my childhood was difficult. I was a child that was bullied and a survivor of incest and rape. I managed to persevere and overcome many struggles and challenges, I give thanks to the woman who helped me discover my inner beauty.
Because of the love and encouragement I have received throughout my life, mainly from other women, I’ve become a healthy person mind, body, and spirit.
For most of the shoots in the passed I have done the hair, makeup, styling and photography.
What Makes You Feel Beautiful is something that I not only feel passionate about but driven to do.
One of the things I enjoyed the most was teaching photography at The Showcase School of Photography in Atlanta and doing lectures on the “Art of Photography” at schools, art galleries and community centers. I’m the former art gallery manager and curator for “32 Jones Gallery” in New Jersey. The “Bridge of Life Exhibit” remains in New York at the Lanza center for all ages and donation “Creation” nature exhibit in New York at United Hebrew
I’m grateful to live on the beautiful Island of Maui. Where wmyfb is embraced and loved by the community. The women here are doing amazing things and I so happy to be a vehicle in uplifting their stories. I also enjoy working with other artists and creators to bring compelling art exhibitions, workshops, and photography classes to the community.