For Florida A&M University alum Khindra Decossard, becoming a member of the Beta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated during her undergrad years showed her the power that lies in sisterhood. Before attending the HBCU she always knew that she wanted to join the sorority because the women who were changemakers in her local community pledged AKA. Fast forward years later and it is now Decossard and her sorority sisters who are continuing that strong tradition and evoking positive change through their philanthropic initiatives. Bonded on the foundation of sisterhood and service, the 58 Nandi Inspired AKAtects Reclaiming Ascendancy (N.I.A.R.A.) line recently celebrated their 10th anniversary by teaming up with a makeup brand to give back to their alma mater.
The N.I.A.R.A. and Lovengood Lips collaboration—dubbed “The Beauty of Sisterhood”—was created to empower young women who are pursuing their education at FAMU. The cruelty-free vegan brand Lovengood Lips, which was founded by entrepreneur Mary Martin, created a lip color inspired by the women of N.I.A.R.A. All of the proceeds from the $12 lipstick are donated to a scholarship program for women at FAMU and campus beautification projects. N.I.A.R.A. decided to choose a hot pink shade because its representative of the HBCU’s bold, rich, and colorful legacy and it compliments all skin tones. “The Beauty of Sisterhood” is their unity, love, resilience, perseverance and strength. It’s a symbol of a powerful and unbreakable bond that promotes excellence and togetherness,” read a statement on the group’s website. “N.I.A.R.A. is a true mirror reflection of one another with ten years of sisterliness down and a lifetime to go.”
The N.I.A.R.A. women—who have all gone on to be successful in the realms of medicine, entrepreneurship, entertainment and other spaces—wanted to use this project as an avenue to not only support FAMU but to highlight the importance of backing businesses created by Black women. “My line sister saw it as an opportunity to support someone who looks like us and who is us,” said Decossard. “Everything we do connects back to her website and social media pages to spread awareness about her business.” The group has raised $5,000 so far and hopes to raise $10,000 through the initiative.
The N.I.A.R.A. and Lovengood Lips collaboration isn’t the only social good project that the women are leading. They have another initiative called the Sister Soldier Project which they launched in 2009 where they provide care packages that include non-perishable goods and feminine hygiene products for women who are serving in the military across the globe. They also volunteered at an orphanage in Mexico where they interacted with children who had been separated from their families and worked on beautification projects.
As several HBCUs face financial woes, Decossard believes it’s crucial for alumni to step up, give back, and lead initiatives to ensure their longevity. “Through the N.I.A.R.A. and Lovengood Lips project, we saw how we could improve a young woman’s future by assisting her with going to school,” she said. “If more alumni came together and gave back to their schools, HBCUs would be better supported.”
Learn more about the N.I.A.R.A. and Lovengood Lips initiative.