“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” ~ Steve Jobs
My first encounter with Maacah Davis was at a birthday party of a mutual friend about 4 years ago. I was introduced to her to possibly pursue the opportunity of being one of the makeup artists for her magazine. I was super excited, but one thing intrigued me, she was only like 19 years old. In my head, I was like this girl has a freaking magazine? What have I been doing with my life? Lol! Fast forward to today, here we are 4 years later deep in a sister friendship, and several magazine prints in the books, which happen to feature my artistry on 3 covers, with innovative new projects arising, Davis is growing by leaps and bounds. Maacah Davis is a true creative who understands the genius of planting the tree and harvesting the fruit. Her network is astounding and even people 3 times her age are amazed at her entrepreneurial prowess. I could go on and on about this beautiful African manic black pixie girl as she refers to herself, but I will let her tell her own story. Meet Maacah Davis.
Who is Maacah Davis?
She is a builder. She makes pretty things and creates beautiful experiences. She adds the EXTRA to the ordinary.
She continues to exclaim…I’m really foreign and that is why I love Birmingham. I’m originally from Cameroon, Africa and moved here when I was 11. It’s a good city and country mix and has so much potential, which is why I decided to stay. I’m an awesome storyteller and have always been easily bored, even as a child, and when I get bored things either get destroyed or created. Let’s just say disaster in Maacah’s world can easily become beautiful with her extraordinary creative genius.
Most know you as an artistic articulate entrepreneur, how did this all come about?
Like I said, I am very easily bored and restless. I want what I want when I want it and if it doesn’t exist I either have to make it happen or go get it. The Belladonna Magazine came about because I looked really hard to work for fashion publications in Alabama and none of the publications here were doing exactly what I wanted to do so I had to make my own because I didn’t want to move out of the state.
As it relates to the dinner party which is now known as Maacah Eats; it also came about because I got bored. I eat out A LOT and got bored with the options that I was given. Then I had a thought and asked myself how many tacos is it going to take for me to bribe Chef Erykah to do this “thing” with me? Fortunately, it ended up working out that she loves doing private dinner parties. I’ve found that most chef’s do and even food stylist or people who just love to cook. Most foodies love the concept. Basically, this was a way to temper my food frustrations with the Birmingham food scene and make my pallet happy while this love for conceptual food stylings with friends.
This is really how everything starts for me. I want the “thing”; the “thing” is not here so I might as well make it.
Tell us about Belladonna Magazine’s inception and what we can expect next?
Belladonna means beautiful woman and poisonous flower because I appreciate that women can be both deadly and beautiful. It’s a celebration of powerful women who appreciate beautiful experiences. That is what the brand represents. It appeals to my niche and demographic who are not typical of the South. I like to think we represent the modern South because we are ambitious, stylish, and smart. Not all of us are getting married at a very early age; we are taking the time to know ourselves and pursue the things we want in life. This magazine is a lot like the personalities of my friends. They will go places just because. I also like being able to put diverse women in my magazine. We are physically and culturally diverse without making it a “thing”. You will never see the “plus size issue” or the “black girl issue” because it is just apart of the magazine. I believe the best way for me to do inclusivity is to just do it without making a big deal out of it; make it normal. I have to agree with Maacah on this, we must make inclusivity the norm by just doing it.
The unique thing about Belladonna is it allows me to explore elements that I love such as fantasy and escapism. I deliberately do this because I believe we need a lot more of this culturally and a lot of times we don’t see the necessary representation of brown girls in those aesthetic elements which is why it is very important for me to be able to do that.
Now as for where the magazine is going, I would really like for it to be a bridge to national and global publications for the people who are with me. That’s my end game. I really want people to be able to get access to the greater media context through this publication. For example, you work with me and you gain invaluable experience like how to be on set all day, how to take concepts from ideas to execution, and how to just do the damn thing. This will allow my people to use this editorial connection to get somewhere bigger.
This year we are actually doing two issues; the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter and that is because I needed to buckle down and make sure that the written quality of the publication matched to the visual quality. I got some really awesome people to be apart of it and that’s when I realized I have to make sure my writing is on point because it is going to be carried at The Birmingham Museum of Art, Revelator, and some specialty gift shops around the Southeast. Now people will actually be reading and it is no longer just a project for me and my friends. This is the real deal. Now my focus is expanding our reach, so instead of 4 issues, I have condensed it to being two spectacular issues. This year is really about self-discovery and exploration.
I see you’ve started a new passion driven venture called “Maacah Eats”. We already know that you are a foodie and that the first dinner party came about due to the boredom from the food scene, so what was your first step?
It actually started with a good ole fashioned rant to Chef Erykah. Fortunately, she shared a lot of my frustrations. I then found out that she had initiated something similar in years past called Gastronomy Club where she would host wine dinners, but faced the issue of cost and logistics. No one can afford to host these dinner parties and pay for everyone to attend, so that was an inhibiting factor.
Now with my newly conceptualized event, she handles food and I handle logistics. I make the guest list, provide decorations, ensure the invitations are sent and make sure we have the social media items such as filmography. That is a lot and definitely a lot to expect a chef to do, so now the chef’s that I’ve spoken with that are excited about being apart of this in the future are pleased to just focus on what they do best, which is, cook. That provides a really fun and mutually beneficial relationship.
Maacah Eats is an opportunity to continue the conversation about what it takes for Birmingham to be a food city and what makes a good food experience. I am very lucky to have open-minded friends who are willing to come to the table with new food and new people and just bring open minds and empty stomachs. I don’t provide a menu, but you can specify your allergies and or food restrictions.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still eat out obviously because I don’t cook. I’m not a food snob in that vein. I still love comfort food. Food is an emotional experience for me and I am emotionally attached; therefore, I need the platform to step out of a comfort zone and eat creatively.
Check out Maacah Eats Promo!
What are your hopes for Maacah Eats?
I want it to be a place where people come to be reminded that you don’t need a special occasion to have a special occasion. I want it to be a place where chef’s know that they can play and invited guest know that they can meet new people.
For instance, in the future, I am only inviting three people and those three people will be responsible for inviting one person each. This way a trust factor is being established because the people I choose are expected to know me well enough to know the chemistry I look for and will only bring people that positively contribute to the atmosphere. Ultimately, I want Maacah Eats to be an experience that reminds people of what bonding over food can be.
Fortunately, I had the pleasure of being apart of the inaugural Maacah Eats dinner.
What was it like to be a TEDx speaker? Would you do it again?
You know Facebook actually reminded me that 3 years ago I was a student scholar at one of the TEDx Birmingham’s, so the glow up is real. Now, three and a half years later I actually can say I’ve been a TEDx speaker. It was a very interesting experience. It was exhilarating and I really enjoyed it, but my favorite part was the conversations we got to have with people afterward. Being able to communicate my idea to a large audience and then hearing the feedback was amazing. When you speak you always want to really say something, but most of all you want people to take something meaningful away. To know that people were receptive to such a hot-button topic was eye-opening because people do not like to talk about race; they like to be color blind or act like it doesn’t exist. Race is definitely critical to who I am as a person and to my experiences. It doesn’t define me, but it does contribute to who I am, so just having people respond so positively was so nice.
My topic was the importance of being critical of the things that we consume in media. Basically being more aware of when you flip through a magazine and see a topic such as “here are the 10 most beautiful women in the world”, and they are all blonde, blue-eyed, and white; being conscious of that. Another example may be when you walk into a bookstore and you see 50 magazine covers, but no one of them has the likeness of a black woman. Being conscious of that will remind you that you do have power over what these brands create. What you watch or choose to buy into literally informs the decisions of what these brands make. A lot of times they get away with it because it has become the “norm” and we forget that, that is not okay. There is nothing wrong with being a size 0, but that is not a good representation of reality, so it isn’t the only thing that should be published. Once the brands realize that people care about the lack of color and size diversity then a turning point can happen.
I would definitely do it again if given the opportunity to do it on the BIG TED stage. Lol! I’m often invited to speak about the things that I am passionate about locally and recently had the opportunity to engage with the students at Birmingham Southern, so I am grateful for all of the opportunities I receive.
What advice would you give to other aspiring TEDx speakers?
Honestly, just do it. Make like Nike and “Just Do It”. It’s the same advice I would give anyone who asks me how to do something; find what makes you happy and work backward from there. That is the secret Krabby Patty formula. Lol!
Are there any other ventures we can expect to see you pursuing in the near future?
I’m a little bit of a cliche because I don’t really know what I am going to do next. I will probably get bored and we will see what happens. I have objectives for Belladonna and I have objectives for Maacah Eats, but they did not begin with those objectives. Right now my focus is making sure the magazine is going to be sustainable by finding a team who are willing to work on the back end with me as well as making Maacah Eats successful by making sure I have chefs and sponsors to continue to create beautiful experiences.
As for the next big venture, Girl, I don’t know. I will let you know when I know. I jokingly told Maacah I hope she doesn’t get too famous for Love Marliceia when the new project drops. Lol! She then said, “girl with your aesthetic, you will be famous way before me”. Besides, you need to make all the millions first, so you can feed me. Let me just say I will feed as many people as I can once I have millionaire status. I’m definitely grateful to have a friend like Maacah that sees a great future for me.
We then pondered the idea of a restaurant takeover exclusive event, but I won’t elaborate on that because it could possibly be a new venture.
What is your ultimate dream?
I want to own a media empire in efforts to create powerful media and curate beautiful experiences on a massive scale. Maacah Media just has such a good ring to it.
In retrospect, I just want more opportunity for women and creatives of color. I want them to have the opportunity to fail because it is an important factor in success. Right now there is a stigma that if a guy fails they say he fails, but if a woman fails, they say she just isn’t good at it. There needs to be a place where female creatives and female creatives of color feel comfortable experimenting with new ideas that might not work and it is okay if it doesn’t. Belladonna is a creatives playground just like Maacah Eats is a chef’s playground.
Are there any words of wisdom you can give to young women wanting to pursue entrepreneurship?
Again, make like Nike and “Just do it”. Start with what you love and work backward from there. Make sure you try to live at the intersection of passion and practicality. That is the real secret Krabby Patty formula. Ask yourself how can I make this a reality without bankrupting myself physically, emotionally, and financially.
Get accountability buddies. Sometimes all you need is people to remind you that you can do things. I have these productivity sessions where I invite friends almost every day actually. We go to different places and I bring my laptop and to do list and they bring theirs. We don’t have to even talk to one another, I just need somebody with me. It’s become a thing now and we just all come together to sit down and work. Choose to surround yourself with people who remind you that you don’t have to be perfect, but you just have to do it.
When all else fails, I eat good food. Lol! “If it ain’t broke, just eat it”.
How can readers get in contact with you to be considered for Maacah Eats or Belladonna?
They can follow @maacaheats on Instagram where I will make a post for people to submit to be apart.
As for Belladonna if they are interested in becoming a part of the team as a creative or model, they can submit to maacah.com/contact. Also be sure to follow us on Instagram @belladonnamagazine.
Lovies I hope this awe-inspiring edition of Boss Babes of Bama leaves you with a go-getter spirit and lets you know that you are never too young and you are never too old to pursue your passions.
Until next time lovies…get bored and make magic happen.