Leesburg, VA – Throughout Black History Month, Loudoun United FC will be highlighting Black-owned businesses in Loudoun County. The Red-and-White embraces unity and culture and during February, the club will continue to honor Black Americans that have helped contribute to the community, city, and country.
Shannon Curvey is the owner of Function N Fitness, a facility created to bridge the gap from healthcare to fitness. They provide post-rehab personal training and therapeutic massage therapy to those who have been discharged from physical therapy, are managing a chronic condition, or would like to prevent injury.
“I’ve been an athlete since I can remember. I grew up playing soccer, basketball and running track so I’d like to think that I’ve always been into fitness. But my career began when I recognized the benefits of strength training and exercise on the body.”
Shannon has had many inspirations over the years that led her to where she is today. “The initial [inspiration] was my mother, who was also a business owner for over 20 years as a State Farm Agent. Next would be my grandfather who suffered a stroke affecting his speech and limbs. I was inspired by observing his physical rehab journey.”
Her biggest motivation is her clients, “Seeing their progression week by week truly keeps me going. Whether it’s an exercise client or a massage therapy client, I am motivated to help them realize their goal of better mobility, strength, or overall health.”
“Black history month to me is a time to learn, acknowledge, and reflect on all the many contributions that Black Americans have made to the world and the country.”
Representation matters to Shannon Curvey, “The black community, as a whole, has some serious health concerns. Many of which can be managed or even avoided with exercise and/or consistent movement. I believe that representation matters and the more visible we can be the better it is for our communities. We need more black professionals in health and wellness industry.”
Founder Kim Thomas and Master Barber Rio Rojas own modern barbershop, Skillz Kutz, in Ashburn, Virginia where their skilled barbers specialize in handling all hair textures. Skillz Kutz is more than just a place for a haircut; it’s a haven for individuals seeking top-notch grooming services and a welcoming, vibrant atmosphere.
“Our clients serve as our primary inspiration, driving us to establish Skillz Kutz as a place that fosters community, a sense of belonging, and enables them to present their best selves in a welcoming atmosphere.”
Thomas and Rojas believe in the power of community and camaraderie, “our motivation stems from the desire to continually improve, both as a married couple and our Skillz Kutz team, surpassing our achievements from the previous day. Striving for constant personal and professional growth keeps us driven and focused.”
“Black history holds profound significance for us as a celebration of resilience, honoring the sacrifices of our ancestors who fought for freedom, paving the way for opportunities in our generation. We take pride in our strong lineage, acknowledging the impact of black history, from the struggles of slavery to the enduring legacies of pioneering individuals who greatly contributed to American history.”
Songe LaRon, the co-founder of Squire, serves as an inspiration to Thomas and Rojas in the barber industry due to his innovative contributions, revolutionizing advancements in technology.
The dynamic duo welcomes everyone into their family with open arms. As they continue to lead by example, they understand the importance of guiding the younger generation, “With everyone striving for that perfect Instagram-ready look and Zoom meetings, contribute to the growing demand for grooming and styling services. The barbering industry, with its focus on helping individuals present their best selves, is highly rewarding. We have the best team. We really love what we do.”
Robyn James – Birdie Everything & InfusenClip
Robyn James is a game-changer in the world of golf. She is a certified LPGA Class-A Professional golf instructor, and the owner and founder of Birdie Everything, a Loudoun County, women- and Black-owned business that created the InfusenClip – a patented wearable ball marker and natural insect repellant that can be clipped to the brim of a cap.
Robyn James works as the Director of Women’s Programs & Staff Instructor at Raspberry Golf Academy in Leesburg, Virginia. “I focus mostly on teaching women and girls and welcoming them to the game to have fun. When we talk about women empowerment, there’s nothing like encouraging them to a sport that has done so much for me.”
James is the founder of Birdie Everything. The concept of the company’s name comes from the golf term “Birdie,” which refers to a score, where one player takes one stroke less than the par of a hole. “If you think about it, if you just did ‘one’ thing a little better, you would get out there and Birdie Everything.” That led to the invention of the InfusenClip.
“When I was working on my golf game, I was the only woman out on the golf course and this dad and little girl came up to me and asked me to show her how to hit a golf ball. I helped her out – she got the ball in the air for the first time, and she had the biggest smile on her face. She was just so proud of herself, and I loved that moment so much, I encouraged her to keep going. I had a little rhinestone bumblebee ball marker that was on my hat and gave it to her. I said, ‘I don’t know where you’ll go in this game, but you’ll always need to know where you’ve been and that’s what a ball marker does for you.’”
Years later, that same little girl found James on social media. “She wrote me this beautiful note and she said that she stuck with golf because of the time that I took with her that day and she’ll always remember that day fondly.” On her social media page, James looked through her photos where she found that same little girl, all grown up, wearing that same bumblebee marker that she gave her all those years ago.
“I am one of only 36 Black female Class-A LPGA members in the world. The biggest inspiration in my life is my dad because he was one of the first 100 Black men to graduate from West Point (United States Military Academy). To have that so near to my history, to be able to talk to my dad about those experiences is something that I don’t take for granted and hold to my heart closely.”
In the golf industry, Althea Gibson served as a great inspiration for Robyn James. She was one of the first Black athletes to cross the color line of international tennis, she became the first African American to win a Grand Slam event. In the early 1960s, she became the first Black player to compete on the Women’s Professional Golf Tour. “I think she was a real inspiration for me because she was a double-threat as a Black woman…hers was tennis and golf and mine is golf and inventing.” Like Gibson, James looks to inspire as a pioneer in the golf industry.
“My advice to any young Black professionals is to find a mentor and allies, you can’t do it alone. Find people that support you no matter what you look like, no matter what your background is. Mentors have great advice and I luckily found that at Raspberry Falls with the team here. “
Robyn James had the honor of being recognized at Loudoun United’s stadium, Segra Field, for winning the 2022 Loudoun Innovation Challenge. “Loudoun County is a special place and has welcomed me with open arms. I’ve been invited to so many different spaces and it’s made a difference, I’ve come out to enjoy soccer games at Segra Field and participate in different things and that’s Loudoun County in a nutshell.”