What’s in your cup?

I don’t know about you, but I’ll tell you what’s in mine! TEA, TEA & more TEA!

I love me some tea! Call me the tea connoisseur, lol. I’ll have a cup of tea over coffee ANYDAY! I’ll drink it cold or hot!


I moved back to Harlem about two and a half years ago. You should have seen me. I was like a kid in a candy store. Harlem has changed so much since I left in 2005. One of my favorite discoveries is the tea shop, Serengeti! OMGgeeeeee! If you haven’t been here, you haven’t experienced life. The variety of teas are absolutely phenomenal! The ambiance and energy is also quite pleasing. The customer service is also impeccable!

IMG_8819 copy

I just recently had a collaboration for Design By U Essentials with Fashion and Lifestyle blogger Rebecca Quainoo. She asked if I had any suggestions on where we should connect. I was more than happy to suggest Serengeti! Rebecca fell in love with this spot, as I knew she would. It was such an amazing space for us to connect, exchange ideas, chat about what’s next for us both and to talk about one of our many favorite things “Jewelry!” whilst sipping on TEA. We had two of my favorites, the Lemongrass, Ginger & Turmeric and Cherry Pear infused teas. Have a cup and I promise you; you’ll be going back for more.


You truly get a feel of being in Africa when visiting Serengeti. In addition to the variety of teas that they have, you will see a display of amazing art work and artifacts. Having Ghanaian roots, I so appreciate this! Seeing the stool reminds me of Ghana each and every time I’m here.





There’s also delectable sweet treats that will go well with your TEA.


If you’re in NYC, particularly, Harlem. . .I highly recommend Serengeti Tea & Spices. You’d really enjoy this space and of course the TEA. How fitting it is to write this amazing piece during Black History Month.


Collaboration with | Rebecca Quainoo

Photography | @dadouchic

Jewelry provided by | Design By U Essentials

Adorned Collaboration

One of the best feelings is knowing that you are appreciated! When my sister girl Rebecca Quainoo called and said let’s collaborate, I was truly humbled and excited all at the same time! I loveeeeeeee to align myself with individuals that are passionate about what they have to offer in life. Not only am I a big fan of Rebecca and her style, she is one of my best costumers. She’s the proud owner of many Design By U pieces. So to receive a call from her saying, “I would like to do a piece that highlights you and your creativity!” I of course said ABSOLUTELY, ⬅ this is one of my favorite words by the way, lol!



Collaborating = EMPOWERMENT

Other than my love for my family; what excites me is natural hair, jewelry & sisterhood. When Rebecca reached out, I said let’s do brunch. Our brunch date turned into so much more than we expected. It was empowering! We spoke about jewelry, what’s next for Rebecca Quinaoo, Tima Samad, Design By U Essentials and a lot more about the power of joining forces. One of the most valuable resources that we all have is each other. One thing I’ve learned is without collaboration, our growth is limited. Alone, we can do very little; but together, we can achieve so much. Do not be afraid to collaborate with others. Of course, collaborate with those that you can learn from. For me, when collaborating, energy and alignment are key components and factors.




I absolutely adore Rebecca. We actually feel the same way about each other, lol! Not only is she supportive and genuinely applauds me, she has an amazing personality and an impeccable eye for style! We learned a lot more about and from each other on this brunch date. It doesn’t hurt that we’re also both Scorpios. . .so we definitely get each other. We dug deep and spoke not only on personal and business matters, but about what happens when you’re feeling stuck and we also spoke about GROWTH. This is why I feel sisterhood is important. Having that sister to talk to about what’s going on in your world can make such a difference. It is especially helpful when the other has experienced what you feel you cannot conquer! Healthy sisterhood relationships matters! This goes for you brother’s who are reading this as well; having healthy and genuine brotherhood. . . MATTERS!


You will see Rebecca wearing a few of her favorite pieces on Design By U Essentials.


Rebecca is wearing “R U B Y” from our Lush Collection.


Rebecca is wearing “S P A R R O W” from our Rings & Thangs Collection & “B A M B O O” our signature wood bracelets .

Jewelry is ART! Jewelry is LOVE!

My love for jewelry started when I was very young. My mother also has amazing style and taste. She’s far from ordinary! I would watch her pair bold pieces with the most simple outfits and just say WOW! You look like a Queen! I went to Catholic school from 1st grade to high school; where jewelry past post earrings and a thin tennis bracelet was forbidden. So I really started to express myself (in terms of jewelry) in my early college years. It was around this time that my love for art and different art forms aided in tapping into my creativity at a higher level. When I realized I could make my own, my love for jewelry took on a totally different meaning. I wanted to share my sense of style, my creativity, my art; paired with amazing custom jewelry; with EVERYONE.


Everything is in the details. There is nothing like the right piece of jewelry and accessories that make your outfit “POP!”  This is what I will continue to showcase from Design By U. No matter what you are wearing, you will be able to find that piece or those pieces that will bring your entire look together.


This was such an exciting collaboration ❤


I am wearing “M A U V E” from our Lush Collection


I am wearing “L O O P E D” from our Plated Collection



Collaboration with | Rebecca Quainoo

Photography & Videography | @dadouchic

Jewelry provided by | Design By U Essentials

Custom Made

When you feel good, you look good! Be sure to Customize your life! After all, it is YOUR LIFE and you are Custom Made 💛

In regards to my style, I really love Custom Made pieces. I have a closet full of dresses and skirts you will not see on another person. Custom made makes your look classic, unique and different! In addition to standing out in the crowd, you support another’s dream and passion.


Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it! Fashion is ART and you are the canvas; so forget the rules! If you like it WEAR IT! Make sure it’s Hot though, lol 😉😆


Don’t be afraid to wear horizontal stripes! They’re always going to be a Big Fashion Statement! I had this skirt made about 5 years ago and this is my second time wearing it since! The key is HOW. . .what you pair it with and styling it for your body type.


💛 Loving & Living Life 💛


Location | Bronx, NY

Photographer | Matey Ghoslow Photography

Maxi Skirt  |Nsaa House of Designs

Top | Rainbow Shops

Earrings| Design By U Essentials


Nothing like a flowing Maxi Dress

No matter what people think of you, keep singing your own song! Many may not know this but music is my sanity. I cannot go a day without singing or listening to music. I was having a moment in this shot 🎤🎵🎶🎵

Now about this dress 😁

I have quite a few favorite style looks. Maxi dresses & skirts are definitely on my list! Can you believe I bought this amazing Maxi dress for $20? Yes, you saw that price correctly!

It was on sale at Mandee’s in NYC. I purchased this dress a few months ago. This particular color may not be available, but they do have many great colors & patterns in stock now.

 The material and the way this dress flows is beyond words. I received many compliments while wearing this Beauty.

Because this dress speaks for itself, I decided to minimize my accessories and went with a Bold Metal Choker. I don’t have earrings on because I forgot to put them on 😩🙈


Location | Bronx, NY

Photographer | Matey Ghoslow Photography

Maxi Dress |Mandee

Necklace| Design By U Essentials

Camo is my Happy Color

I absolutely LOVEEEEEEEE anything Camouflage! You will see me with this Camo jacket no less than 3 times a week once Spring rolls around 😁

I enjoy pairing Camouflage with Black, Brown’s and Neutral Tones.

This is one of my to go looks; a white tee or tank with a pair of ripped boyfriend jeans, booties, Camo & bold ethnic accessories! I’m wearing Ethnic inspired necklace ‘Symmetry’ & my wrists are adorned with ‘Bamboo’, wood bracelets (which I wear 99.9% of the time). . .from Design By U Essentials!

Don’t be afraid to enhance your look with jewelry and bags.

I follow NO trends! I wear what I love; I dress how I feel!

This bag is one of my absolute favorites! It was a gift from my Dad 3 years ago. We were together when he bought it in Wa, which is in the Upper West Region in Ghana. It is also where Dad’s side of the family is from. As soon as I saw it, my eyes LIT up. So he bought it for me. I love to support local artisans! Happy we had the opportunity to support an artisan in Ghana.

In addition to Camo & more Camo, I absolutely love ART and color. It makes me Happy!

The Amazing graffiti art in these photos is by Brazilian artist, Panmela Castro. You will find this phenomenal mural on the walls outside of Andrew Freeman Home on the Grand Concourse in Bronx, NY. Visit if you can. There is nothing like seeing it in person.

Location | Andrew Freedman Home

Photographer | Matey Ghoslow Photography

Camo Jacket |Forever 21

White Tank |H & M

Boyfriend Jeans | H & M

Shoes | Cape Robbin

Jewelry |Design By U Essentials

Bag | Gift from Dad

Mural | Panmela Castro 

What is African Black Soap?

I’ve had an influx of orders for my Authentic African Black soap during the Holiday season after I shared my personal testimonial on it on instagram; after frequently being asked how I am able to maintain flawless skin.

Many have been saying & asking, “I know it works, but what exactly is African Black Soap?” Below is a brief summary.

African Black soap has been used for centuries in West Africa. It is still made the traditional way from locally harvested plantain skins, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves & shea tree bark, to name a few potent ingredients. It is then fermented which is how the soap gets its brownish-black color.

*Please Note* African Black Soap  should not be entirely Black in color. If so, it is not authentic. It’s  watered down & mixed with different agents!

African Black Soap is suitable for all skin types! It can be used daily and it is also great for washing makeup off! If you have any skin sensitivity, it is best to do a skin test. Place a small amount of soap (wet it first) and leave it on an area of your skin for about a minute to see if you have a negative reaction to it. Another way is to choose an area on your skin to wash with it for 3 consecutive days (same area). Because of it’s organic ingredients, a negative reaction rarely happens (unless you have specific allergies).


Because of it’s potent ingredients, the soap is powerful. You should not leave ABS on your face for a long period of time. When you start using this soap, you will instantly see improvement in discoloration, skin tone, acne, reduction of razor bumps, ingrown hair bumps, fine lines and wrinkles. . .just to name a few. ABS detoxifies and purifies the skin, due to its amazing ingredients.

Plantain skins is high in vitamin A, which increases collagen production; vitamin E, has natural healing properties which helps  moisturize the skin; & iron, which boosts the benefits of both vitamins A and E.

Cocoa powder softens & firms the skin & its antioxidants & anti-inflammatory properties, fight free radicals, repairs damaged skin, and renews skin cells.

Cocoa butter is a natural moisturizer loaded with vitamins A and E that fights & helps reverse the signs of aging. It also eases rashes, eczema, and psoriasis.

Shea butter also has vitamins A and E to strengthen skin, repair damage, and diminish wrinkles. Over time, ABS can help in healing sores, scars, & help with treating psoriasis, eczema, & dermatitis.

Palm oil is rich & packed with antioxidants and two forms of vitamin E which help heal acne and eczema.

Palm kernel oil, extracted from the fruit seeds of the African palm tree, is high in lauric acid, giving it antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that can help heal acne.

When African Black Soap is exposed to air, it may develop a thin, white film. There is no need to panic or worry. This is normal. It’s not mold nor is it a sign that it is expired, and the soap may still be used. African Black Soap has a very longgggggggg shelf life!

F A Q’s

What are the ingredients in Raw African Black Soap? How is it made?

The ingredients in Raw African Black Soap may vary depending on the region, but the soap consistently usually includes: plantain skins and leaves, bark from the shea tree, cocoa pods, oils (palm oil, coconut oil and/or shea butter). The skins, leaves, barks and cocoa pods are burned to ashes. Water and the oils are then added to the ashes. After being stirred for a day or more, the mixture  is left to ferment. There are absolutely NO CHEMICALS, artificial ingredients or preservatives in our A U T H E N T I C  African Black Soap.

Does African Black Soap contain alcohol and | or lye?

NO! Our Authentic African Black Soap contains neither alcohol or lye.

What are some of the benefits of African Black Soap?

It is an all-natural exfoliator which deep-cleanses the pores. It is suitable for all skin types. It helps fade dark marks and hyper-pigmentation, psoriasis and some eczema flare ups; (should not be used if the skin is broken; sore)

How do I use African Black Soap?

A little bit of African Black Soap goes a VERY LONG WAY! We’ve made it easier for you by cutting it in our classic soap pattern. Just add water and lather. Because of the uneven texture of the soap, we suggest lathering the soap in your hand and then applying the lather to your face (if using for your face only). If you’re using the African Black Soap to wash your hair, you can put pieces into a bottle, add water and shake it up. That will dissolve the soap and create a face | body wash & shampoo. This is easier and safer than buying already mixed African Black Soaps because you are controlling the contents that it’s being mixed with.

How do I store African Black Soap?

Since the African Black Soap has no preservatives, it must be stored in a cool, dry place. We suggest you keep your soap in a tin; not in plastic. If the plastic that you are storing your soap in; is not BPA free, it will absorb the toxins present in the plastic.

Note: the soap dissolves quickly when it is wet. If you let the entire soap or piece you’re using sit out in water, it will look like melted caramel by the time you are ready to use it again 😁 When stored, ABS may get a whitish film on it. If this happens, do not panic, It’s not mold! It’s just the effects of the soaps exposure to air.

Can I Use African Black Soap on my newborn?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! It is too strong for a newborn baby’s skin. We suggest you use on children 2 years of age and up (Only to bathe); do not leave on their skin for a long period of time.

African Black Soap didn’t work for my friend. Will it work for me?

Everyone’s skin is different because everyone has a different skin type. What works for another may not work for you. This is why we encourage you to do a skin test prior to using, as we mentioned in our summary. It also helps to know what you are buying. Not all African Black Soaps are Authentic.

How is it that I’m able to use this soap on my oily skin when there are oils present in the soap?

Though oil is present in the soap, it is not “oily”. The fermentation process gives all ingredients an amazing balance, which makes it a great exfoliator. It keeps your skin hydrated without increasing oil. If you have oily skin, please moisturize afterwards with a non-comedogenic lotion.

Can I use African Black Soap on my dry skin?

Yes you can! But, if you do not like to moisturize or wear lotion, please do not bother to use it! With those that have dry skin, the soap is effective, but you MUST moisturize and cream your skin immediately after using. It is a natural exfoliator, meaning it is striping skin. You have to replenish moisture to maintain balance.

What is the shelf life of African Black Soap?

African Black Soap has a very long shelf life. If stored in a dry cool place, it can last for approximately 10 years.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Your questions will help me add more insight to Design By U Essentials FAQ’s for ABS! Comment below or send us an email at info@designbyuessentials.com