Beading Dancer

The Black-Owned Businesses Abroad series is a recurring installment of interviews, photos, videos, promotions, and/or article contributions covering black entrepreneurs making their way in a society away from home. This article is spotlighting Beading Dancer, an alternative lifestyle brand based in Japan.

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How would you describe your business?

Beading Dancer is an alternative lifestyle brand. We make products that help the body, mind and spirit. At the moment, our products are jewelry, skin products and digital artwork.

How did you decide to start selling your line of personal care products?

In 2009, I made a simple design from a book and my friend encouraged me to sell them. She also suggested I try different designs…the rest is history.

How do you feel that making these goods has affected you and society around you?

Making these items is a form of therapy and sharing for me. I notice that some items have a specific person for them…it’s like there’s an attraction. I feel good knowing that my products help someone and I think they change people’s thoughts around skin products/ jewellery.

Have you been surprised (either positively or negatively) by any reactions to your products or your business?

My items have no frills or extra stuff,so, people seem surprised that you don’t need so many things to make something nice and simple.

If someone wants to come to Japan to live and to work, what are some key pieces of advice you would offer?

Know yourself and your limits, because if you aren’t careful, you might sell your soul for two pieces of gold.

What is one thing you want people to know about Japan, Japanese culture, or your experience of Japan?

Being in Japan gave me the break I needed from Johannesburg and helped me look at my business in a different way. Also, I was able to engage with suppliers,unlike back home, so I’m grateful for that.

Please share anything you’d like to about your products, your business, or yourself.

My most popular products have been beaded earrings because they give you just enough pop with almost any look. I think people should use more natural skin products. I started making salves as natural alternatives to petroleum jelly. My hope or wish is for black people/ Africans to realize that they deserve good products and to let go of getting cheap products to save a buck. We are beautiful.

If you’d like to be a part of the BOBA series, leave a message in the contact section of the blog.

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Black Women in Japan 2nd Annual Convention: Empowering the Mind, Body and Soul

The Black Women in Japan Convention was an event that touched my soul. I walked in feeling excited, but anxious. For some reason, I was nervous about my outfit. I didn’t know if I was dressing for “the cookout” or for “church”. However, I walked out feeling like a powerful and enlightened being, almost superhuman.
The convention began with introductions by the women who made this convention happen. One of the founders, Avril Haye-Matsui, opened by saying “You’re at home. You are around sisters.” As she spoke, the room was silent. Eyes were widened and ears opened when Avril told us the importance of the convention and where we hope to go from here.

Avril Haye-Matsui

The Importance of Black Women’s Health

Throughout the convention, there were different workshops focusing on mental health, physical health and self-care. I had the opportunity to attend the Mindfully Me and the Be Your Own Advocate workshops. The Mindfully Me workshop was led by Kisstopher Musick. She has an MS in Psychology and has worked in the field for over 20 years. During the Mindfully Me workshop, we discussed how to describe ourselves more objectively than subjectively, self-care and the importance of black, female mental health in Japan. The ability to talk about mental health with other black women was incredible. It’s hard living in a homogeneous society, especially when your community is underrepresented. Having a woman like Kisstopher guide us through this discussion was helpful.

Kisstopher Musick

The Be Your Own Advocate workshop was led by Florence Orim, M.D. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss physical health and tips on how to navigate the Japanese healthcare system. Also, we had an opportunity to ask questions about our current health situations. I’ve only been in Japan for about six months and I am still learning about my health insurance and the healthcare system. Regardless of the amount of time I’ve lived here, Japanese bedside manner and ways of discussing health are different. I learned that I wasn’t the only one who had inhibitions about visiting the doctor. Dr.Orim taught us that getting a second opinion and communicating with doctors are necessary. After leaving both of these workshops, I felt more confident and comfortable about making decisions regarding my health.

Professional Development

One of my favorite aspects of the conference was how balanced it was. There were workshops about health, fitness, spirituality and professional development. I attended the Easy Product Photography workshop. It was led by Tia Haygood, a professional photographer working in Tokyo. Tia taught us about how to take photos of products, how we can improve our photography and budget-friendly equipment we can use. Although I take a lot of photos, I still found this workshop helpful. I was able to learn about what items work best for food photography and product photography. Plus, we got a chance to practice shooting photos and received feedback from Tia.


The Next Steps

The last day of the convention was the most difficult for me. I wanted more time with these courageous, smart and beautiful black women. I truly believe that being a black woman in a foreign country is special. Not all of us have the opportunity to live abroad. However, living abroad as a black woman can be challenging. When you are a black woman living abroad, sometimes you feel the need to represent the whole black female population. If you mess up, someone is going to remember and it could affect the next black woman they meet. After that weekend, I feel less of a need to carry that burden. I know that my sisters represent us well.

If you’re a black woman in Japan or considering moving to Japan, you can contact the group on Facebook @ black women in Japan (bwij). You can also follow the group on Instagram @BWIJ.

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Healthy Whole Wheat Protein Pancakes

A few months ago, I watched a video on YouTube that featured a woman who makes protein pancakes everyday for breakfast. I thought that was a great idea for breakfast. Who wouldn’t want to eat pancakes every day? I did a little research and found some recipes online. Most of them called for protein powder or had a ridiculous amount of ingredients that I didn’t have or couldn’t afford.

After a some failed attempts and convenience store breakfasts, I decided to try to create my own protein pancake recipe. I found whole wheat flour and flax meal at Kaldi, a supermarket chain in Japan, for under 500 yen. I knew that ground flax meal could be used instead of whole eggs and that it was a great plant-based protein option. Also, whole wheat flour is better for you then bleached white flour.

My first attempt was pretty successful. I enjoyed the nuttiness of the flax meal. Plus, using soy milk instead of dairy milk made the pancake more appetizing and less like a treat. However, they were a little dense. I knew I needed to fix this before I could post it on the blog. I found out that if you use too much flax meal, then it will thicken whatever you are making. For example, your pancake batter will be too thick and you’ll have to add more milk to the batter. I applied this tip to my second the second round. The second attempt was the best. The ratio of soy milk to flax meal was good and resulted in a pancake that wasn’t dense.

I’m really happy to have created a protein pancake recipe that isn’t terribly expensive and can be eaten every day. If you attempt this recipe, don’t be afraid to add to the original. I think they would be really good with bananas, chia seeds or peanut butter. The pancakes last for up to five days in the fridge.

Have you tried making protein pancakes?
If so, what are your tips for making them healthy and delicious?

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Healthy Whole Wheat Protein Pancakes
Print Recipe
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Healthy Whole Wheat Protein Pancakes
Print Recipe
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts finely chopped
  • 2 cups soy milk
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, flax meal, salt, ground cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir the dry ingredients until they are well incorporated.
  2. Next, add the soy milk to the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour mixture and milk together until it forms a batter. The batter shouldn't be lumpy.
  3. Then, fold the walnuts into the batter.
  4. Next, heat a medium sized frying pan on medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add oil or butter. I used grape seed oil because it heats quickly.
  5. In your pan, pour about 1/4-1/2 cup of batter in the pan. When the pancake begins to form bubbles in the middle, flip the pancake and allow it to cook for about fifteen to thirty seconds.
  6. Repeat this process until your have used all of the batter.
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