The Funemployed: Johnna French

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

Johnna French is a Harlem NY native with deep roots in Washington, DC and North Carolina. All three places have heavily influenced her life and the foods she loves today. After graduating Howard University School of Law and beginning her life as a young professional in the city she was led to start Johnna Knows Good Food in November 2007 to keep family, friends and colleagues updated on where to go and what to eat while dining in the nation’s capitol. French, who still practices law, leads a team of three writers to cover the ever expanding Washington, DC food scene. French has been featured in print and television, appearing in Washingtonian Magazine and is a regular contributor to various local TV affiliates including WUSA 9 and WJLA’s News Channel 8.

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DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

JF: Funemployed means doing a “job” where you want to pinch yourself to see if it’s real. Is this really how you get some or all of your income?! My path to becoming a funemployed food blogger/writer was driven by my desire to share my nights out on the town and time spent in the kitchen with family and friends. People would often ask me about the new hot spots, the best recipes to cook for date night and/or other miscellaneous food questions. I figured a blog would be the best platform to share this information.

DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

JF: Many of my friends from law school were my biggest cheerleaders. One of them gave me the idea to get five friends to share my blog link with five more friends to get the word out. Another friend gave me good feedback on the defects with my blog link and views from third parties. They saw the impact that the blog could have and encouraged me to go full swing with it.

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DCF:  What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

JF: School. School is probably the closest format to what has prepared me for and kept me focused on what to do each week with the site. Not the part of school that I loathed i.e. chemistry and biology class but more like the “fun” school, Art class and Home Economics (I loved these classes!). The “fun” school required me to get there on time, exercise my creative energies and do homework that I enjoyed. This is much like my life as a food blogger/writer where I set deadlines, creatively express myself each week and set aside specific days/times to produce content for the site.

DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

JF: Everywhere! I pick up ideas for the site from walking to the metro to watching terrible etiquette on my favorite reality shows (my weekly post “Etiquette Tuesday” is my claim to fame). I am motivated every time I see a Retweet, “Like”, invitation to learn about something new in this food scene and the best is when I google something and my site pops up on the first page. Somebody is reading MY stuff!

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DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

JF: Downtime, downtime, downtime. I work a regular day job and food is my second job, so it is imperative that I find balance in between those two worlds. I have a tech shutdown policy every night at about 9 pm allowing me recharge and focus on my present space. I also cut out time for social time and weekend brunch, it is an absolute must in this town.

DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

JF: Above I mentioned how school was probably the best model for what prepared me for the blogging world. The same sacrifices apply as far as I have to cut out time to get the grade and the grade in blogging being the mention in another outlet, the RT, the “Like” on the fan page and/or simply the comments left under a good post.

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

JF: Women in the food industry in D.C. rock. We help each other and support each other. I would say the struggles in general have been more based on building the brand, gaining the respect and garnering the attention.

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DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

To branch out. I am a creature of habit and that can debilitate your growth in this industry. You have to keep moving, growing, building and forging a way to the next step. I finally caught on to the changing trends and have not looked back.

DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

Not speaking up or asking the right questions. There have been plenty of missed opportunities because I did not ask or speak up about how much I wanted the opportunity.

DCF: What is your proudest moment?

There have been so many! I would say my fave was having Joey Fatone (former member of boyband N’Sync) cook in my kitchen for his show My Family Recipe Rocks on the Live Well Network. He liked it so much he ended up taking my Slow Cooked BBQ ribs to The Talk.

DCF: What’s next??

JF: Working on the second installment of my book series “So You Want to Be a Food Blogger”. This one will be titled “So You Want a Wedding”. Etiquette Tuesday is still growing and I am working on the third installment to the series with this one. Other than that, the site celebrates its eighth birthday this year and I’m looking forward to bringing it in with a bang!

Follow JKGF on FacebookTwitterInstagram, & Pinterest!!

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The Funemployed: Sunni

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DCF: Tell the people – Who are you?

Sunni & The City
Midday On-Air Host
CBS Radio/ WPGC 95.5

Sunni: I am a Bosnian born, Detroit raised, DC living radio host. Radio is my first love, charity is my passion (DCF: We love a lady that gives back!!). Always living by… “If you’re not poor enough to receive charity then you’re rich enough to give it. ”

DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

Sunni: FunEmployment to me means just that. Having a great time with your career/job. I never thought that I would be a radio host (due to my thick accent) but years of hard work paid off. Somewhere along the lines I found a way to balance a very celebrity driven (somewhat shallow) industry with my charity and that gives me so much joy. There’s more to life than just talking about celebrities. I started as an intern at the age of 18 and now 13 years later, I’m working in the best city in the world.

DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

Sunni: My parents were always opposed to me working in radio. They’re hard working immigrants & their idea of the American dream didn’t include a microphone. So it was hard for me not to have that support system at home. I found my cheerleaders & mentors in the industry. My first boss KJ Holiday and my first mentor Bushman in Detroit always believed in me. Them looking out for me meant a lot.

DCF:  What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

Sunni: I think that we all have a story to tell. We all have faced challenges in one way or another that have shaped our mindset & strength. I think me having to prove myself to my parents and my peers definitely made me work so hard and succeed. Having someone you love tell you “see I told you that wasn’t going to work for you” makes you work that much harder to prove them wrong.

DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

Sunni: I get inspired by a lot of things/people. Despite working in an entertainment industry, I’m not very inspired by actual celebrities. I love watching documentaries on different cultures, reading about real life heroes, regular people making extraordinary changes in the world. Especially women. I get inspired by that. I’m a news junkie so I don’t miss much lol.

DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

Sunni: It took me a while to find my balance between work and fun because the lines are so blurry there. I’m super OCD and having a strict schedule and order in my life is so necessary for me to feel like I’m on track. I’ve learned to set aside time just to sit peacefully in my bedroom, no phone, meditate, etc. I have to have structure in order to function. You can balance so many things if you just plan it out. (DCF: Amen sister – I live by my planner!!)

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DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

Sunni: I think that my biggest sacrifice and guilt is not being around my family. We’ve been through so much collectively and I’m the only one that moved away to follow my dreams. Not having them around daily is hard but we make it work.

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

Sunni: Women in general have it harder in any industry. Mine is no more no less. I think that we have to be ON 100% when it comes to our professionalism to get the same respect. We aren’t allowed to slip up or make mistakes. Especially in a industry when you’re dealing with celebrities. Your reputation is everything.

DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

Sunni: I’ve always followed my heart and made sure that all decisions were mine so there aren’t many things that I regret or that I would do differently. My mother always gave us advice on marriage and how it’s important to start families early and I’ve always brushed it off because I was so focused on my career. Now I wonder how different my life would be if I had gotten married in my 20s but I have no regrets. Love comes at any age.

DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

Sunni: My greatest failure was not finishing college. At 20 yrs old I was offered a job in radio that I just couldn’t pass up and that snowballed my entire career. Bigger things came after that and I never went back. I know how important education is and that’s something that still lingers in the back of my mind after all these years. But I learned that everyone’s path to success is different. If I didn’t take that job .. who knows what would’ve happened and how long before another chance came around. 

DCF: What is your proudest moment?

Sunni: A year ago I bought my first home (DCF: Yassss #AdultGoals) and that was one of my proudest personal moments. I’ve moved so much throughout my 20s and to finally be in the city that I love and own a home is amazing. Definitely a proud moment for the kid!

I’m working on so many things! I’m finally writing my book about my childhood/refugee camps. (DCF: I can’t wait to read it!!) This project has been a goal of mine for years so seeing it finally happen is amazing.

You can follow Sunni on Twitter, IG & Snapchat… SunniAndTheCity (or see more on her blog!)

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Different Views by MC

DCF:  As I’m sure you know, DC is currently under quite a bit of snow aka Storm Jonas!!  While we are all snowed in, I wanted to share something fun from my little cousin in California.  He is in the 4th grade and this is his opinion done entirely in class with no help from mom and dad. The piece is on why women should be President. Enjoy!

Do you know that in the United States we have had 44 presidents and they have all been male. Because we have had 44 presidents that have all been men in the U.S., I believe that we should have a women president because they might have different ideas, it gives them a chance to believe they can hold power positions, and they deserve to after so many years.

The first reason that I believe that we should have a woman president is that they might have different ideas than men. A woman may have very different ideas about running the country than men because they might have new ideas about attacking our current enemies and maybe make laws to outlaw gun use. Women may also have ideas about how to stop police from hurting people like training for unnecessary physical contact.  Maybe they could change the country to make it a better place.

My second reason that we should have a woman president is that it will help women feel like they can be in power positions in this country. Seeing a woman President would make women feel that they finally have equal rights and they could do the same jobs as men.  Having a black man President has inspired me to take school more seriously, go to college and step up my education. A woman President could do the same for women in this country.

My third reason that we should have a woman president is that women deserve to lead after years of following. Women deserve the right to lead this country after gaining their rights through men for so long. They were not able to vote for many years and now it is time they are given the power to lead. If men have been leading this country for years, it is time for women to take charge. If you do let women lead some of them will do good things for our country. Right now there is a woman running for President, her name is Hillary Clinton. Hillary will show how some women have different ideas that can make the US a better country.

If you have been listening, you know that I believe women should be President of the United states because they might have unique ideas, it makes girls feel like they can be anything they want to be, and it is about time they took charge of the country. Now do you believe  that girls should  have chances to be the President? This is important because all humans should have equal rights. Talk to someone about it like your lawyer or someone else, please help me in making people believe that anyone qualified could be President.

About The Author

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My name is MC and I Am in 4th  ​​grade my teacher is Mr. Lee and I play sports and I have a sister and I have brother.

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The Funemployed: Andra Johnson

As some of you know, I spent a lot of time working in restaurants over the years and that is where many people assume that I met AJ, but our history goes back way further than that, #GrowinUpDC!! I’ve always known she was destined for great things and am excited to share her awesome new venture!!

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DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

My name is Andra Johnson.  Everybody has called me AJ since I was 7 years old. I work at Macon Bistro & Larder where I am currently the Beverage Director and “The Mayor of Magnolia”. This is in reference to our soon to debut club room and private dining space, The Magnolia Room. I am in charge of curating and creating the cocktail, wine, and beer menus for both spaces as well as cultivating, planning, and booking events for The Magnolia Room. You will definitely find me on the bar in The Magnolia Room once we are open in February, but I’ll still be floating around Macon making pairing suggestions and educating my staff (and guests) on all things beverage related.

A little about me: I was born in the Bronx but Maryland is definitely where I grew up. My family moved to Montgomery County when I was 11, and despite my resistance initially, I grew to love the area. I was always heavy into sports and that consumed much of my time in my youth. I attended Academy of the Holy Cross in 2001 and one of my best friends started working at Chili’s Bar & Grill on Rockville Pike. Despite the fact that I was playing on 2 basketball teams and had volleyball practice 3 times a week, I decided that I wanted a job too (mostly because I loved shoes and this way I didn’t have to go to my mom for everything that I wanted). I started out busing and hosting and before I knew it I had caught the restaurant bug. (DCF: I can vouch for AJ on this one, if you’ve never worked in restaurants you won’t get it but if you have you understand the draw!!)

In 2005 I attended Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but it really wasn’t the place for me and I missed home a lot. At that time, my mother had bought a house in Washington D.C. and I moved back in with her in 2007. I fell in love with D.C. immediately.  I am definitely a city girl and D.C. has always had this really cool urban and artistic vibe that I naturally gravitated to.  I began working at Mayorga Coffee Bar & Lounge in the Tivoli Theatre as the Assistant General Manager and was soon promoted to General Manager at the age of 19. From there, I moved onto Open City in Woodley Park where I was a floor manager for 3 years and then was promoted to Assistant General Manager of The Diner in Adams Morgan. (DCF: I interviewed with AJ for my bartending job at the diner, and got it! And then she left me there lol, but read on to discover why). I grew increasingly complacent with what I was doing at time. Fast casual dining was not my passion. After a year and a half I decided to reinvigorate my passion for the restaurant and D.C. and start over again-this time in a more elevated setting.

Fine dining was difficult to break into at first. It was hard with my tattoos. It was hard with my dreads. It was difficult transitioning into a setting where I had to carry a tray all of the time whereas in a fast casual place we always prided ourselves on how many drinks we could carry to a table in our hands (DCF: true!).  I finally did get a break though and started working at 901 (now defunct) on F Street and that was truly an eye-opening experience. I was able to learn how to give the great service that I had always enjoyed receiving when I went out to great restaurants. From there I worked at several places including Le Diplomate by Stephen Starr, Eola, and Mussel Bar by Robert Weidmaier before I ended up taking the Assistant General Manager position at Macon Bistro & Larder.

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The Funemployed: Shireen Dodson

So I had to start the first post of The Funemployed at home with the coolest lady I know and the one who taught me everything.  My mother.

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Tell The People – Who Are You? * (Officially)

Shireen L. Dodson (aka mom for short) is the Ombudsman for the United States Department of State (DOS).  Ms. Dodson not only assists Department managers and employees to resolve conflict arising in the workplace, she advises the Secretary of State and senior Department executives and managers on workplace conflict trends, conflict prevention opportunities and options to achieve cost-effective and timely conflict resolution. Formerly Special Assistant to the Director, Office of Civil Rights and Chief Diversity Officer at DOS, Ms. Dodson has over 30 years experience working with non-profits, corporate America, and government. Ms. Dodson is a trained mediator, facilitator and conflict coach with years of experience helping individuals work through conflict. Also an Executive Coach, Ms. Dodson completed the Federal Internal Coach Boot Camp and is a member of the Federal Coaching Network. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland and her Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School, Newark, New Jersey. Ms. Dodson is also a Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations Certified Diversity Professional (CCDP). Ms. Dodson is an active member of the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman and the Intelligence Community Ombuds Forum. Ms. Dodson serves on the boards of Zion Baptist Church and MetroHealth (a nonprofit community- based healthcare provider).

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Lastly, Shireen is an author of three books for girls: The Original Mother-Daughter Book Club; The Mother Daughter Book Club Tenth Anniversary Edition; and 100 Books for Girls to Grow On, all published by Harper-Collins. 100 Books For Girls To Grow On was nominated for a 1998 NAACP IMAGE AWARD – Outstanding Literary Work, Children’s. Ms. Dodson has three adult children. (Aka my siblings and I).

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The Funemployed: An Interview Series

When the term Funemployed first hit my ears, I fell in love.  It sounded like a dream.  It sounded to me like combining passion with employment and that to me is a winning combination.  At the time it was the name for my budding new blog but now four years later I’ve been inspired to change course.  I’ve been blessed recently to meet lots of really amazing people and I feel like the world needs to meet them too.  When I was thinking about how to make this happen, I thought of something fun to do in order to bring them all to you.  From that desire to celebrate and share, The Funemployed was born.  So join me on this interesting journey of exploring women who are doing what they love.  Read about their ups, downs, success and failures, read about their journey to finding work that works for them.

Join me every Wednesday for our #WCW (Women Crush Wednesday) & #WWW (Working Women Wednesday) reveal.  Each week we will celebrate a women who is having fun at her job.  There are only two requirements, that you are female and that you are having fun.  Are these women perfect?? Of course not, none of us are!! However they have figured out something I’ve been saying for years, if you are going to do it for 40+ hours a week, then you should probably enjoy it!

If  you are a women that loves what you do and want to join our celebration, email me (dcfunemployment85@gmail.com) and tell me all about it!! Maybe you’ll be featured next!!

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Merry Christmas!! As It Happens Coming Soon!!

Four years ago I started this crazy journey and didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  Friends suggested I start a blog about DC and as a native and what to do here so DCFunemployment was born.  I was clueless as to how much work was ahead of me but I was lucky enough to find a blogging network that was the gateway to everything I’ve learned about blogging and the many people that taught it to me.  I’m friends with some of the original DC bloggers, have seen new blogs open (and sometimes end), I’ve seen name changes, accounts hacked and the dreaded move from one platform to another and learned from it all.  So why the nostalgia and history on this day of celebration and rebirth?!? Because… CHANGE IS COMING!  Allow me to reintroduce myself:

As some of you know, many things are changing here and one of the big ones is my BRAND NEW BLOG!!  Events and all things DC will now be on my new site: As It Happens (dot com).  This will be a premier site to go and see what is happening on the DC social scene and get recommendations on great places to go in the city.  There will be curated guides from myself and other influencers to help visitors and new comers navigate where to go in the DMV to experience a more intimate and native DC.

So what does that mean for DCFunemployment?!?! Do not fear, it will still be here but it will be a bit different.  I am regularly amazed by the awesome things that people are doing in pursuit of their passions and I want to do my part so DCFunemployment will now be my digital shout out to the amazing women (and occasionally men) who are pursuing their passions and are as I like to call it, “Funemployed”.  I have some amazing people lined up to share their stories but there is always room for others at the able so if you love what you do and would like to share your journey email me at dcfunemployment85@gmail.com!  I am truly very excited to start this next leg of my journey and share it with you!

Now I’m off to go eat Christmas Dinner with the family!! Hope you are enjoying yours!!

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Happy Dirty Thirty to Me!!

So in case the title didn’t give it away, today is my birthday!! I did the math once and I am a Valentine’s day baby birthed about 9 months from that day of romance 30 years ago.  Today I graduate from my 20s.  It was an awesome decade but it’s time to close that chapter and start the next one and I couldn’t be more excited!

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Before this great day, a friend reached out to connect me with the lovely Susannah of Alumbra Photography.  She approached me about doing an Unveiled by Alumbra (aka a boudoir shoot – so mom & dad, you can stop reading here thanks!) and after checking out her blog I happily agreed and not only was the experience AMAZING but I couldn’t have asked for better photos.  Before I share the magic we made, I have to thank all of the people who helped make it possible!!

*Susannah of course!! – Not only are your photos magnificent but you are also definitely the hottest pregnant lady I know and gave Coco a run for her money as my pose coach for the day – you put all my nerves at ease and made it one of the funnest shots I’ve ever done!!

*Ana of Makeup by Ana & Love Ana B did the incredible make up and hair styling for this shot and I love her work!! She made me look like a more glamorous version of myself and I didn’t feel over done so thank you!!

*Katya of She’s Unique was the lovely friend that connected us and the generous #GirlBoss who loaned me some extra bling for this shoot – all the jewelry for this shoot was borrowed or previously purchased from her fantastic store!!

*Doug is my natural hair wizard who keeps my hair looking healthy and great.  He does the amazing colors that always get me compliments and I wouldn’t look the same without his help!!

*A big shout out and thank you to Pinky Nails DC for squeezing me in for a gel mani/pedi that lasted and gave my normally naked nails some color!!

Hope you all enjoy these shoots as much as we enjoyed creating them!

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Event: Join me at Red Sprinkle’s Beauty Lounge 4

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#WeGo to SweetLife, Firefly, & Trillectro- My Festival Summer (Next Stop: Landmark!!)

I love music. Something about music and dance speak to me.  It is the unspoken language of the soul and when I hear a song that speaks my dialect it is energizing.  From the profound music of the socially conscious to the fun dance song that makes your hips just yearn to shake, I love it all.  I am coming to accept that between the music and the yoga, I’m kind of an overdressed hippie.  So I am never one to turn down a music festival and this summer there were quite a few to attend!!

The first was Sweetlife, a music festival hosted by Sweetgreen that started as a small gathering of family and friends in the parking lot of their second store and has grown into a 2-day festival, featuring over 22 hours of music and more than 25 of their favorite artists. In their words, “the sweetlife is about meaningful living and authentic relationships. It’s about recognizing the unexpected combinations that create memories. sweetlife 2015 is not just about seeing some of our favorite bands perform, or eating the best healthy, local food around – it’s the intersection of these two things coming together to create a memorable experience.”  We made some awesome memories that day as you can see!!

The next festival was Firefly music festival was at The Woodlands in Dover, DE.

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