Young Black and Purposeful Feature (January 2017)

Welcome to the first of the Young Black and Purposeful Feature Series! Every month I will feature the profiles of people who exemplify what it means to be young, black, and purposeful. If you know of anyone who fits that description please nominate them to be featured!

This month I am highlighting Justice Stafford. She exemplifies what it means to be young black and purposeful. Justice Stafford, founder of G.O.L.D., is a 27-year-old entrepreneur and self-love enthusiast. She is a native of the tri-state area where she developed her grit and drive for helping others. She is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she studied Health Science for her undergraduate degree and returned in 2013 to obtain a masters in social work. Justice is currently a Youth Program Coordinator in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She utilizes her undergraduate degree by working with young adults and catering to their mental health and wellness.

Justice’s true passion is exerting her energy to assist others in realizing that when you know love, you know God. Justice has fueled her passion by creating G.O.L.D. and watching it build momentum. Justice trusts God to guide her as she pursues this business endeavor. She consistently puts God at the forefront of her life because she believes He is paramount and He can liberate anyone from life's trials and tribulations. Justice is a member of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Her favorite bible scripture is Psalm 46:5: God is within her, she will not fail; God will help her at the break of day.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Justice about her new business, her life, and her journey.

Q: First of all, what inspired you to start this brand (G.O.L.D) and how do you think that fits in with your purpose?
A: “The very first thought that I had was how divided we are.... [people look down on others and judge them for various reasons] and I thought, you know what… I feel like they just need to know that they’re loved, if I could give them something to show them [that love]. Like if I could just start huggin my brothers and talk to them on the corner… who knows how they would receive it. I just want to show them that they’re loved. That literally was my thought and I was like maybe I can give them a shirt that says “I know love, he’s black”. Then I realized well you know, God is love and that was [the idea], not to bring down anybody but just to lift up the love that I know and build my community.”

Q: What was the trajectory of starting this new business and what was that like for you?
A: “So for me… difficult. I think the concept, like the brand, people love it [but I still have to] fine tune it, be persistent with it and expand it. I’m learning how to express what’s inside and let people know why I’m doing what I’m doing but the business aspect is [very difficult]. I can create different ideas all day but the business part is hard for me. [Even though it’s hard, I believe] once you start, you have to keep going. I know I find myself stressed sometimes but I’m like you have to do it, you have to push the message out there even if you take a break and come back to it.”

Q: I know you’ve had theses creative ideas in mind for a while, so how did you get from having the idea to actually taking action to start the business?  
A: “Pushing through the fear, that’s the only thing that stops us. I’m just like you know what Justice you’ve been low on the bill before, if this is what you want to do, if you want to show love and get people talking about God and get people out here repping the Lord, why not [go for it]? It’s just about taking that leap of faith and believing. Even now, I can’t tell you if I’m profiting but when I have to send out a shirt it makes me excited. For me, it hasn’t been about the money because I haven’t seen that, to be honest. I just want to share that love with others and give other people another way of sharing their love and expressing it. [I think I had] that conviction to just share it and see, so I just had to just do it. It was literally on my heart every day. [I figured] how will you know if you don’t try?”

Q: So you have a full-time job, a part-time job, and you are developing this brand. So how is it that you balance all that you have to do?
A: “[I take it] one day at a time and I pray. You’re going to be overwhelmed sometimes with all that you have to do and I really had to learn not to not be hard on myself. You create that balance when you realize that nothing is new under the sun. You can overcome it [like so many others before you]. So if I make a to-do list and I don’t get to everything, it’s okay [I can try again] tomorrow. It’s really about learning to take it day by day. It puts a calm on my heart when I think about the fact that God knew which day I was going to start, He knew what day I was going to have a hard time, He knew which day I was going to cry in my car. Understanding that He knows everything that’s going to happen, it calms me down and it makes me realize... the balance is living in it all… and appreciating it for what it is.”

Q: Do you have any ideas about what the scope of your brand G.O.L.D. is going to look like?
A: “I want it to be a lifestyle about love and positivity. You know God offers love daily so that we may offer it to the world. I don’t want you to just think of shirts. I came up with this event I want to start doing as well called piece to peace. Like from being in pieces to feeling peaceful. I want to expand, when you think of G.O.L.D. I want you to think of how you can be more positive how you can be more loving. It’s really about action… that’s what love is, it’s an action and you can’t feel it if no one is acting on it. Be that change you wish to see. If I want love I need to show love to everybody, not just who’s nice to me and who loves me back. I need to love people who have different views from me, who don’t like me, who don’t even know love for themselves. [I want to continue to promote that message through G.O.L.D.]”

Q: How would you say you incorporate purpose and intentionality into the things that you do?
A: “Really leaning on God because to be honest, at times, I didn’t know what my purpose was. [so I prayed and tried] to be still and focus on my interests. Even if something is difficult, if you find joy or have the conviction to do it, that’s purpose to me. I really had to sit down and think about the things I want and about the things that would make God happy. I know that sharing the love that He has for me, with other people, is my purpose and however I get that out there, that’s intentional.”

Q: The only other question I have for you is what experiences in your life have prepared you to live out what seems to be your purpose?
A: “I’m big on mental health, so I want to say therapy but it’s everything. My childhood, my time in college, my time after college, there’s so many things we could be here all day... Mainly looking into myself made me realize, I have the tools. Everything you need is inside of you and when you look inside then you really can start making moves outside. I had to get right with myself first. I had to be honest with myself first because knowing you’re messed up is the first step. Then actually owning up to that and saying okay I’m going to put in this work to be better, it’s super hard [but it’s worth it]. For me, it was just learning to be vulnerable. Learning that I’m not in control and having a lot of things happen to me whether it be family members abandoning me or guys not treating me how I should be treated and for me, not treating myself how I should be treated. All of that takes a toll on you. I feel like we are so busy moving, surviving, and being resilient, we don’t take a moment to reflect on how all of that stuff has affected us and in turn how we’re affecting others so I really had to stop [and acknowledge that] I needed help. My therapist was that person for me. So once I started looking inward and really doing that work to fix myself, I realized I wasn’t loving. I wasn’t loving to myself, I wasn’t loving to others and it was an eye-opener, it was really shocking. I was thinking, Justice how could you want this love so bad and you don’t even know what it is, you weren’t looking to your bible, you were looking to societies norms [for an understanding of love]. People say 2016 was a crazy year but that was the year I really went to search for God for myself… I don’t know how we can wake up every day and not believe in miracles. When I look at all the things that have happened in my life or even just this year, you know, [it’s amazing what God has done]. So I think that’s it, just looking inward [and seeking God] and then everything just started happening. [ As I moved he just kept blessing me] and knowing how much He loves me, I was just like how dare you not do this, how dare you not try.”

I want to extend my sincerest thanks to Justice for sharing her story to inspire others. Please check out her G.O.L.D. brand at  and on Instagram @godofferslovedaily. 

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