Students Rising AboveBy Michelle Griego

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Starting a new business takes courage and Oakland-based entrepreneur LaTasha Brown has plenty. That’s because Brown is a warrior — the kind we all wish we were.

“I am one of those people. When somebody asks me to do something, I’m always up for a challenge,” Brown explained.

So when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease her last semester of college, walking became a daily struggle for Brown. But graduation remained her focus.

“My body just started shutting down during my last semester,” recalled Brown. “Even my mom tried to get me to take a semester off but I was determined I was going to walk that stage. Because that was my biggest dream was to get what I called the golden ticket, meaning my degree.”

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above (edited) 

Brown made it across that stage with a degree in hand. Her graduation was the completion of a tough road. When we first met her nearly two decades ago, Brown described herself as a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Born prematurely with hearing and vision problems, Brown struggled academically, so she was enrolled in special classes through sixth grade. During this time other students bullied her..

“I used to be teased. I used to be pushed around and made fun of,” Brown said at the time.

It was a situation that was heartbreaking for Brown’s mother, Berlinda.

“At that time they had them isolated in the back of the school,” Berlinda Brown said about her daughter’s early school experience. . “So you would go across the school yard, many of the days I would sit there and watch her go across and kids would come up an hit her for no reason.”

LaTasha Brown at home with one of her creations (CBS SF)

But Berlinda Brown is a warrior too. She fought hard to get her daughter enrolled in general education classes. And her heart filled with joy watching her daughter soon make friends, achieve a solid B average in High School, then college success.

“If this baby can fight this hard, I can fight too,” Berlinda Brown said of her daughter now. “And I am just so grateful to God that we both fed of each other’s energy.”
Now that energy is pouring into a new business for Latasha Brown, after some career advice from mom.

“My mom was like… you got all the artwork that you draw over the years, why don’t you start making t-shirts?” said Brown. ” And I like, I don’t want to do that mom. I’m like, I got a degree, why do I need to start doing that?”

But she is. Brown is launching her own on-line store out of her Oakland home called Little Lavish Empire. What started as t-shirts, then tutus now features flowered headpieces. The unique designs are all infused with Brown’s incredible artistry. It’s a venture, supported by family and launched with kindness.

“You don’t want no one to ever feel like they are less than anything,” said Brown of encouraging others to pursue their dreams. ” We all have a purpose being here and we all have a gift to share with others.”

Michelle Griego

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