From Kente Face Masks to Online Workouts and Virtual Parties: Responding to The COVID-19 Crisis with Creativity

Pictured From left: Aitina Fareed-Cooke, Davielle Jackson Justin Mitchell, Sophia Blyden, Phylicia Dove and DJ DNice

by Staff Writer

The following profiles – five young locals and one nationally renowned DJ –  highlight the creative spirit  and  vision of individuals  who have opted to turn “lemons into lemonade” during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  We believe  they   are just a small sample of countless persons who are setting positive examples  in our community every day  during these  challenging times.  Our hats are off to them and all others – from the caring neighbors helping neighbors to the faithful  “prayer warriors” who are “keeping hope alive,” during this uncertain time of “Corona.”

Black Monarchy 

Owner, Designer Activist Philanthropist Phylicia Dove of Black Monarchy

Phylicia Dove , owner of Black Monarchy, a local conscious brand where fashion is their medium of connectivity, has  created washable light weight masks made with Ankara fabric covering both nose and mouth. The elastic bands on the sides aid in a snug fit and mirror hospital like tension.

Although it’s important to note that these are not surgical medical masks that prevent one from contracting the coronavirus, they do aid in limiting the spread as one is unable to directly touch the areas on the face most susceptible to the virus.

“African fabric has a dense level of cotton mixed wax texture. Its benefits already include strict structure and protection from heat and varying weather conditions while maintaining breathability” said Dove.  “The safety layer for personal hygiene and protection is interfaced and double lined and has a washable filter grade on the insert use to minimize inhaling contaminants.”   The store is currently closed due to social distancing regulations.  However these well -made masks are available online at and priced for just $20. For every successful order one mask will be donated to the refuge and or homeless community. 

Order your mask at  follow them on IG and FB  @shopblackmonarchy 


 Firefighter Justin Mitchell   

Former Harlem Wizard, Current Buffalo Firefighter and Fitness Advocate Justine Mitchell

One of Buffalo’s local fire fighters, and fitness advocate  Justin Mitchel who is also a former hooper for the Harlem Wizards,  is serious about his workout regiment  and due to the COVID-19 lock down social distancing has inspired this first responder to provide  free and effective workout routines and videos on his Instagram story and or feed every day. 

Mitchell wants to encourage everyone to take advantage of what they can do at home during this time and even beyond this time of crisis. “ I’m doing this to show people you really don’t need a gym to stay in shape or to get into shape. A lot of people think that is the only way so I’m just showing them the option to work out and pass the time with this quarantine situation,” He said.   

You can find Justin and the current free workouts offer on Instagram  @hwhighrise20 .  He also has a 30 day home ab workout for those interested . You can contact him at  for details on the 30 day plan and more.


Get Fokus’d Productions

Photographer, Educator and Founder of Get Fokus’d Productions Aitina Fareed Cooke

Local artist, educator and founder of Get Fokus’d Productions,   Aitina Fareed-Cooke,  is doing her part during these interesting times  by providing her skills to the community for the next 4 weeks with weekly art based challenges that you can take part in until April 28th. 

The weekly thematic art challenges cover five  areas of “Fokus”  (1)Floetry: Rap/Sing/Dance, (2) Optics: photography/draw/paint, (3) Kreative Writing: Short Story/Poem, U Choose: (4) Make what you want and (5) Scene It: short film/act it out. 

Participants can choose as many challenges as they like.  “ My goal is to help keep our minds fokus’d and stimulated through the arts , share and support one another during this difficult time and to support local businesses by way of donations made,“ says Fareed-Cooke. You can sign up for free or pay what you can on their  easy to navigate website.

When you sign up you will be asked to choose from a list of small businesses that you would like to see supported or you can add a business to that list. Donations raised from this effort will be used to support small business.

Go to www. and click the “our weekly focus” tab to sign up free or donate. Find them online @getfokusedproductions


Femi Secrets

Womens Advocate and Founder of Femi Secrets Daivielle Jackson

Davielle Jackson, creator of  the popular Femi Secrets, is revolutionizing women’s wellness  with her celebrated  and all natural, chemical free  products for women’s personal hygiene. 

Femi Secrets will be providing supplies to women  in need during the COVID-19 crisis as  shelves  are fairly bare of personal product needs.

Jackson will be donating Femi Secret pads, liners and wipes to anyone in need. So far she has shipped over 500 productions out. “We understand women and feminine hygiene needs are sometimes forgotten in these times  and this is one of the reasons we created Femi Secrets because no woman should suffer ever!

As toilet paper is being sold out in every market let’s not forget it isn’t the only sanitary need  women have. ..We stand together with our Femi Girls!”  

To receive product go to  navigate to their  about page  and click contact to send your email .  You can also find them on IG @femisecrets


Universal Black Cross Nurses

Buffalo Garveyite and UNIA Black Cross Nurse Sophia Blyden

The Universal Black Cross Nurses recently created a hand sanitizer imitative. “Iinitially we created the hand sanitizers as part of the restoration and preservation of Garveyite history in Buffalo,” stated Lion and Sophia Blyden. “However the creation of this product has become a timely and effective tool in the current health crisis we find ourselves in.”

Black Cross Nurses encourages you to follow the guidelines that have been set forth and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, Use hand sanitizers 60% or more ( theirs is 62%) and to sterilize frequently touched objects in the home and office.

The prices for their hand sanitizer will differ based on supply and need. They currently have 2oz. bottles readily available in stock and other size options will be made available depending on the need.

To obtain your sanitizer contact the Black Cross Nurses at . Donations can be made via CashApp $Buffalo433 


Music Awareness Advocate and Universal World Wide Number 1 DJ DNice

Bronx Hip Hop Legend DJ DNice had the whole world rocking in the comforts of their own homes with his amazing, uplifting social distancing party he hosted on Instagram Live;  making it the most epic quarantine party in history, reaching  over 100K – live logins from around the world . 

The free star-studded virtual IG party had been growing in popularity since he started his homeschool session earlier in the week as a way to keep peoples spirits up in lieu of being locked down thanks to the coronavirus. Last Saturday night the party morphed into Club Quarantine going viral rapidly by the thousands.

“I never would’ve thought that the best party I would create, and DJ, would be from the comfort of my own home,” said D-Nice in a message he posted on his Facebook  Saturday afternoon. “I’m feeling nothing but gratitude. Thanks to all of you that supported. This has been a great way to keep our spirits high.” 

The epic virtual party experience attracted celebrities, like Gabrielle Union. Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee, Jada and Will Smith, Janet Jackson, Sean Diddy Combs, Lenny Kravitz, Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna…and many more, Not to mention former first lady Michelle Obama and even FB’s Mark Zuckerberg logged -in among the many thousands  of people for over 9 hours of   selected music while lifting us all in a virtual dance  as one.Find him @dnice on instagram