1. Things to Do

Trio of women form 'soulTribe' in Tampa

From left, Shelley Parris Williams, Diana Hardy and Kimmie Hemmingway have pooled their talents to help others grow.
From left, Shelley Parris Williams, Diana Hardy and Kimmie Hemmingway have pooled their talents to help others grow.
Published Apr. 30, 2016

TAMPA — Individually, Kimmie Hemmingway, Shelley Parris Williams and Diana "Dynasty" Hardy are incredibly talented women.

Hemmingway, owner and operator of the Blenderista's School of Life and Business, works as a business and life coach who helps women develop lifestyles with a "creative blend."

Parris Williams, a yoga and holistic wellness coach, offers services and products for women's self-care through her business, the Womb Sanctuary.

Hardy, a native of Queens, N.Y., shines as one of the best emcees in the Tampa Bay hip-hop community, her prowess on the mike leading to a recording with DJ Premier and a European tour.

But instead of operating outside each other's spheres, the three friends have opted to pool their resources and skills as principals of the Aroma House, a "soulTribe" community of like-minded woman who are focused on becoming their best selves in life and business.

The result: a trio of women who are connected through their passion for serving others, Hemmingway said.

They host vision board parties, meetups and networking events, including a gathering Saturday: The Blending Bar 2016: In the Power of Now.

The trio's goal is to establish a referral network that women can tap into for any area of their lives, personal or professional.

Hemmingway said a shared history of overcoming tough challenges — and sharing those lessons with the soulTribe — is the foundation for their collaborative.

"We've all been through major shifts," she said.

Parris Williams said this was the path she was on when she and Hemmingway crossed paths in 2012.

Hemmingway was organizing a women's empowerment summit and Parris Williams was authoring an anthology of stories about women when a mutual friend introduced the two.

"We sat down and we hit it off," she said. "We just locked arms."

The two shared a background of having overcome devastating experiences that changed their outlooks on life.

In 2014, Hemmingway was enjoying a successful corporate IT career when a terrible car accident left her needing surgery and re-evaluating her future. She had a lot of "awakening moments" during her recuperation. One of them led to the start of the Blenderista.

Hemmingway says she has no regrets leaving behind her lucrative 12-year corporate career.

"I knew I wasn't going back (to corporate America)," she said. "It was time to leap forward."

Parris Williams' drive for wellness was sparked when, at 15 and four months pregnant, she lost her mother to complications from fibroid tumors.

Parris Williams said her mother, a caregiver, looked after others at the expense of her own health. To avoid her mother's plight — and the family curse of cancer — Parris Williams said she became proactive about her health. She embraced yoga and adopted an organic diet.

Parris Williams started blogging while doing an all-juice fast. The fast was difficult but it planted the seeds for the Womb Sanctuary.

Response to the blog made Parris Williams realize that she could help others in their quest for better health, especially black women.

"It was important for me to bring those methods to women who look like me because we have this idea that we have to be strong and not ask for help," she said. "We're making these lists and we're not on the lists."

Teaching women and youth the art of self-expression is Hardy's role in the collaborative.

"Arts-based empowerment is using the power of expression to channel that one thing into something positive," she said. "It's about taking the notion of impossible to 'I'm possible.' "

After years of trying to break into New York's music scene, Hardy moved on a whim in 2004 to Tampa. She quickly became acclimated to the area's underground hip-hop community but says she formally "blew up" in 2008 after opening a show for now-defunct hip-hop trio Little Brother.

"After that, Tampa just got behind me," she said.

Six years later, she released the mixtape Dreampusher, earning acclaim on the local music scene.

Hardy funneled her creativity into her business, the Push Project, where she teaches youth principles to build self-esteem and respect for others. It also houses the STAAR Program, an Ybor City-based summer camp that offers arts and crafts and classes in creative writing, audio recording and songwriting.

The three work together to support soulTribe members and push them to be their best selves, Hemmingway said.

"You want it or you don't," she said. "The amazing thing is when you can have this community of people, you can make it."