Meet Destini Braxton, the creator of Coffee and Curls and published author of a children’s book . The book is about Braxton’s personal experience and perspective as an Urban Educator. Braxton wrote it because she was tired of being asked why she chose a profession that doesn’t pay her what she deserves.
‘’I wanted to show my audience what it is like to walk in my shoes as a teacher and what rewards come with it.’’
Destini Braxton created Coffee and Curls as a platform for individuals to be able to share their stories and experiences while being as authentic and unapologetic as possible. It was Braxton’s goal this year to help share her voice and allow others to do so in a safe environment. Braxton came up with the name Coffee and Curls because they are the 2 things in her life that keep her going as a mom, author, educator, and entrepreneur. Coffee symbolizes the positive vibes/energy needed in order to get through each day and life challenges. Curls symbolize the self-beauty that all women should possess. It also symbolizes the African American community and taking away the stigma that we have to look a certain way and wear our hair a certain way in order to thrive in society today.
Destini Braxton is currently a middle school special education math teacher in Virginia. She has a beautiful baby boy, named Elijah. Becoming a teacher has been a dream of her since she was old enough to play school with her twin sister. Braxton has her Master’s of Education in Special education and is currently working on her Doctorate’s in Educational Psychology. Braxton decided to become a special education teacher when she realized that she wanted to help bring more equality into the school system and help give every student an equal opportunity at becoming academically successful.
‘’Even though I only have one biological child, I view and love all of my students as if they are my own.’’
How did the idea of Coffee and Curls come into your mind?
I created Coffee and Curls as a platform for individuals to be able to share their stories and experiences, while being as authentic and unapologetic as possible. It was my goal this year to help share my voice and allow others to do the same in a safe and judgment-free environment. I came up with the name Coffee and Curls because they are 2 things in my life that keep me going as a mom, author, educator, and entrepreneur. Coffee symbolizes the positive vibes and energy needed in order to get through each day and overcome the challenges along our life journey. Curls symbolize the positive self-image, self-esteem, and confidence that all women should possess. It also symbolizes the authenticity of ourselves without conforming to societal norms. Women and men should not have to uphold a certain appearance in order to thrive in society today.
Do you remember your first client? How did it feel like?
My first client was a dear friend of mine from college. She reached out to me because she wanted to share her story about a tragic experience in her life. The anniversary of her significant other’s death was coming up and she wanted to put together something special in order to remember him. I was amazed at how authentic, honest, and vulnerable she allowed herself to be while making our video and sharing her story. I was so proud of the final product because it gave her a place where she could share her voice, her story, her growth, and healing process. She will be able to have this video forever and can continue to share it with others, in order for them to have a sense of understanding of what she went through and how she made it through that tragic period in her life.
What does the future hold for you as an author and teacher? Is there anything you want to accomplish that you haven’t?
My future as a teacher will continue to include me caring for every last one of my students as if they are my own. I want to continue to provide a space and positive learning environment for myself and my students. I recently wrote a book title, “Not Mine, But I Love You”, which focuses on my experience and perspective as a teacher in an urban setting. The title is significant to me because although the students I interact with on a daily for a period of eight hours, have earned a special place in my heart and vice versa. There is nothing that I won’t do or sacrifice for them in order to contribute to their success. There is nothing that they won’t be able to experience, while in my presence, due to lack of resources (i.e., money, clothes, food, school materials, etc).
I am currently working on ideas for a book series focusing on students with disabilities. As a special education teacher, it is important for me to inform people that every student with and without a disability can have the same success and opportunities presented to them. A child with a disability is just as able as a child without a disability. The only difference is that a child with a disability brings something different to the table. My hope with the book series is to help break the negative stereotypes and narratives of children with disabilities.
I want to accomplish receiving my Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. I am currently working on my degree as a part-time student, due to me being a full-time teacher, author, and first-time mother. My research focus is on student motivation, teacher-student relationship, and self-efficacy and their association and/or influence on academic successes in mathematics. My goal is to be able to implement my research into the classrooms because a lot of students are beginning to become less motivated and teachers need more ways in order to keep them interested and motivated.
What’s your guiding philosophy as an entrepreneur but also as an educator?
My guiding philosophy as an entrepreneur, as well as, an educator is that there will not be growth and successes without failures. We need to be able to understand and reflect on what caused the failure in order to approach our next attempt with a new mindset and new goals. I try to remind myself that the storms are only trying to wash me clean and help me grow. Every day will not be our best day, but all we can control for ourselves is our attitude, actions, and the amount of effort that we put into each day. We are always one step/ day closer to reaching the top, we just need to remember our “why” and never stop.
Share us the must haves for working women
I believe the must haves for working women are:
- A morning and evening routine that does not involve social media. It should involve goal setting, self-reflection, the motivation of some sort, and an attitude check
- Time dedicated to yourself. Do not make exceptions for this time because your mental health matters and helps you perform at your best
- Confidence. You have to make sure that you understand that you to bring something to the table, you are not just showing up with your job title
- Solid work and home balance. When you come home, your issues from work do not need to be carried over into your home/personal life.
What tips do you have for those who want to renew their life as in a new job, moving, etc?
The tips that I have to offer for life renewal:
- Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. Your growth requires discomfort. New opportunities are waiting for you outside of your comfort zone.
- Take risks! The journey of moving forward requires you to take risks and do things that you never saw yourself doing.
- Be okay with feeling and being lonely. Your growth and new experiences do not always require others to be next to you. You will meet new people along the way and you will also find out who you really are.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
I would tell myself that my success will always start and end with me. It begins with my actions, my growth mindset, and my attitude towards my career. As an author, my book sales do not determine my level of success. My success started when I decided to put my voice on paper and seek an author to publish my book. I did something that someone else hasn’t found the courage to do. As an educator, my success starts with me stepping into that school building and showing up for my students. It starts with me putting effort into differentiating classroom activities in order to meet all of the students’ academic needs. My success does not depend on a child’s test score because I am increasing my students’ intelligence levels and academic abilities, not producing professional test-takers.
What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?
The skill that I believe that all women should learn is how to be kind and gentle with themselves during their journey of growth. We are our biggest critics and sometimes we fail to see that while seeking the approval of those around us. We have to understand that our journey is not to be compared to others because what’s meant to be for us, will be for us. We need to realize and understand that comparison will destroy and devalue everything that we currently have, which is something that the “past you” has asked for. We can not speak negative narratives over our lives and expect to see positivity and/or the change we are seeking. Our change begins within! We have to remember that even small accomplishments are big accomplishments. It is something that we accomplished today, that we weren’t able to achieve yesterday. We need to continue to show up for ourselves and be our own cheerleaders during every opportunity because nobody will show up for us the way we will.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
My toughest decision I had to make in the last few months was to take this past semester off from school. I am currently working on my Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. It was a tough decision for me to make because I saw myself as giving up versus taking a break. I thought that if I took a break that I wouldn’t return and that I was going to give up on my academic dream of pursuing my doctorate’s degree. I needed to take the time off from school in order to adjust to motherhood and to mentally recover from postpartum depression and anxiety, which was a new diagnosis for me. It was hard for me to give my all in my school work and I have never been the one to be a mediocre student. Unfortunately, I found myself unable to commit to going to class, returning back to work full time, and adjust to my new life as a mother. The break was definitely needed and I know I will appreciate the time off because with the new semester approaching, I find myself ready and more eager than before to start and finish my program.
Tell us about your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement, outside of giving birth to my son, was finding my voice and confidence. It was a journey that I had to encounter on my own and required me to find my “why”. It wasn’t until I had my son, that I decided to stop simply saying I was going to have and find my voice. I needed to put action behind it. The first step that I took was publishing my book, which can be purchased on my website: ihopeidream.bigcartel.com. I wanted people to hear and feel why I love being a teacher and why I love teaching kids in an urban setting. I was tired of being told that I should teach at a university because I would get paid more. I needed people to understand that my passion and heart belonged to my middle school special education students because the reward and impact were long-lasting and influential. I didn’t have a good “why” defined until I had my son. After having him, it became clear to me that I needed to set the example and show him that he needs to always speak up on things that are important to him and allow people to hear and see what you are most passionate about.