Photo: Vaughn Dabney (nikiaphoenix.com)

Nikia Phoenix is the model, influencer and world traveler whose fresh, freckled face and cornrows enchanted us in the 23andMe commercial. You know the one: where she motorcycles and dune-buggies around the world, emerging from the waters in each new destination as if reborn in the newly found recognition of her DNA.

True to the commercial, Phoenix’s unique blackness is a honey roll of West African, Middle Eastern, East Asian and Scandinavian heritage. She harnessed that moment of fame to launch her now highly successful blog, Black Girl Beautiful.

No one knows better than Phoenix that’s there’s magic in the mix—especially when you get a room of 30 dynamic, influential black women together for brunch. The Glow Up recently caught up with Phoenix to find out how we can all conjure up an afternoon of sisterhood and community in style.

The Glow Up: What was the reason you brought all these women into one space?

Nikia Phoenix: I love girl power. I love bringing women together that are intellectual, spiritual, beautiful and who are doing things to uplift our community. This brunch was a way for Black Girl Beautiful to celebrate the women who inspire me in Los Angeles.

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TGU: How did you choose who to invite?

NP: We wanted to connect with old friends and also introduce ourselves to a few women we admire who are having an impact digitally.

TGU: How much time did it take to put it together? Is there anything you learned by planning it that could help you save time and effort—like, did you use any apps, websites or services our readers could resource?

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NP: It didn’t take much time to organize, but making sure we had the right mix of people was key. Honestly, it’s about having your ear to the ground, so to speak. It’s not just about finding someone on Instagram and extending an invitation. It’s about real human connection and synergy. Who do we want to share special moments with? Who do we want to build with?

TGU: What was it about the place you chose that made it special?

NP: After searching and searching, we found this tranquil space with an outdoor garden that immediately transported you to the Mediterranean. It was breezy and light. We gathered under a canopy of trees and vines. There was even an outdoor bathtub that we used to ice the champagne. I definitely made the place my own by bringing in candles, incense and a little palo santo.

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TGU: How often are you in large gatherings of black women, for work or socially? 

NP: This doesn’t happen often enough in Los Angeles. I often feel separated from the rest of black womanhood all the way on the West Coast. And I’m sure everyone who came to the brunch shares a similar sentiment. We have to do better and get together more often.

TGU: What was the feeling in the room?

NP: Every woman who walked through the door instantly felt warmth and love. We were joyous. There was lots of laughter and embracing. Many of us had just watched Black Panther and were ignited by the film and its depiction of black womanhood. Getting together like this felt like group therapy.

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TGU: What did people share about themselves that was special?

NP: I think the women were able to relax and let go. So often we have to wear a mask when we’re outside of our homes. This gave us a chance to be ourselves and be embraced.

TGU: You mentioned an impromptu guided meditation when we spoke. Can you list a few other gems and jewels that were dropped during the brunch?

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NP: I think it’s important to really hone in on that because it was the culmination of the event. All of the interactions, reunions and rekindling of friendships came together at that pinnacle.

TGU: What was shared that you will remember and take into your day-to-day?

NP: During the meditation, a couple of BGB team members were on the outskirts trying to document the mediation experience. I remember stopping them and whispering, “This is for you.” We have to really start experiencing and allowing ourselves to accept the gifts that are for us. We give to others, but we definitely need to partake of the nourishment ourselves.

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TGU: What do you hope your guests got out of the experience?

NP: I hope that we can all feel a little more connected to ourselves and our support system. Alicia Easter, a yoga teacher who led the meditation, said, “You’re holding space for each other, and more importantly, you’re holding space for yourself. What a gift you are. What a gift you are to this day, to this place as a beautiful black woman.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.