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Laser Art Chronicles

VMFA presents...Todd Parsons Trunk Show

Todd Parsons

Todd Parsons Trunk Show

Fri, Jun 10, 11 am–7 pm & Sat, Jun 11, 11 am–4 pm | VMFA Shop

In early 2008, Richmond artist Todd Parsons had a vision to expand artistic boundaries with an unconventional medium: laser engraved artwork. Ranging from unique jewelry to digital fine art, his designs are inspired by African imagery, animal prints, abstract art, and nature. “Great pride is taken in the creative process,” says Parsons, “and my chief desire is that you will gain as much pleasure from my work as I receive in creating it for you.” No tickets required. Member discount applies on all purchases.
 — at VMFA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

5 Amazing African American Owned Handmade Businesses

Todd Parsons

Feb 25, 2016 by Donna Maria Coles Johnson In Handmade Business

I’m a big believer in giving credit where credit is due.

As it concerns the entrepreneurs you’ll discover here, credit is due all day long, all year long, every day, and every month.

Considering it’s Black History Month, I want to give a special shout to a sampling of African American handmade business entrepreneurs who are blazing an inspiring trail for the world to follow — and buy.

Buckle up to meet some homegrown African American handmade goodness.

1. Chris Campbell: The Shoe Bakery

Forget the dress! Say “yes” to the shoe!

Chris customizes amazingly realistic bakery themed shoes and accessories for women. Want a shoe to match your wedding cake design? Chris has got your back, ladies!

Inspired by everything from cinnamon buns to pound cake, Chris takes a model shoe and customizes it to resemble an edible, calorie-filled treat dripping with icing and sprinkles. In addition to shoes, you can get some arm candy (otherwise known as a purse) with a matching key chain, and even a pair of baby shoes. You can grab up their seasonal wares (gingerbread house shoes anyone?) or have a design custom created just for you.

Check out the Shoe Bakery website and follow along on Instagram.

2. Celeste Beatty: Harlem Brewing Co.

Launched in 2000, Celeste’s artisan crafted beer was recently picked up by WalMart, according to the word on the street , and it will be in select stores in just a few weeks. In addition to the original Harlem Brew, you can also get Sugar Hill Golden Ale Strawberry Hill Hard Cider made with New York apples. Every single bottle is hand crafted in small batches in Harlem, and made with hops that are grown and harvested in New York. Celeste traces her beer inspiration to her love for the spices and creativity that go into making the southern foods she grew up on.

Check out the Harlem Brewing Company website and follow it on Facebook.

3. Gwen Jimmere: Naturalicious

Naturalicious is the first company to develop an all-natural, all-in-one hair care system designed specifically for curly, coily, kinky and wavy hair textures. Gwen is the first African American woman to ever hold a patent for a natural hair care product. After being frustrated that it took her hours to style her hair every day, Gwen created the line of Naturalicious “OooLaLocks” products to save time and money for women of color who want to wear their hair natural. The products are made up of a 4-step hair care system that allows you to go from wash to ready to style in less than an hour.

Check out the Naturalicious website and follow along on Instagram.

4. Todd Parsons Designs: Todd Parsons Ear Art

Todd makes laser engraved ear art. With designs ranging from extremely unique jewelry to digital fine art, Todd is a staple at shows nationwide. Women love his designs and the friendly, personal customer service he and his team offer. Whether it’s the beautiful silhouette of a woman with natural hair, a rendition of the continent of Africa or another related theme, Todd’s work usually honors Africa in some way. He can also custom-laser your matching ear ring logo design.

Check out Todd Parsons Designs website and follow him on Facebook.

5. Valerie Reed: Valana Minerals

Valerie founded Valana Minerals after being disappointed with the makeup options for women of color. She decided to make her own, and eventually opened a business so she could cater to women like her who often cannot find makeup to match their beautiful brown skin tones. Valana offers foundation, lip color, eye shadow and blush, along with faux brushes. Valana Minerals is the only line of mineral makeup for women of color that is also vegan.

Check out all the vegan goodness at the Valana Minerals website and follow along with her very active Facebook page.

Every one of these African American handmade business leaders has something incredible to offer. What a great way to close out Black History Month, don’t you think? Now, tell me what African American handmade businesses inspire you the most!

Image: Shoe Bakery

Kimberley Lewis Parsons Fundraising Run

Todd Parsons

My lovely wife is a participant in the Army 10-miler again this year, but with a twist!  She is running as a member of Team Fight, a running team of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults that supports young adults, and their loved ones, as they overcome cancer.

She is such a caring and passionate person and we both have had dear friends and family who have been touched by this illness.

Her fundraising goal is $750 and any contribution of support you can give--either in a donation or by reaching out to your network with a request to give--is greatly appreciated.

Donate through her fundraising page at

You can also share the link via facebook, twitter, or email from the page. 

Your contribution will help keep her motivated through every step of the 10 miles!  Thank you for your support.