1148854_10151937049052950_2039294948_nInspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer community—everyone from artists to activists. Each month ELIXHER features someone whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This month ELIXHER spotlights Los Angeles-based life coach Kerri Smith-Osei.

ELIXHER: Who is Coach Kerri?
COACH KERRI: Well, in a nutshell, I am a 39-year-old wife, certified LGBT life coach, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, and friend. I’m a spiritual being having the most amazing human experience. I was born in Jamaica, but have lived in the U.S. since I was about 10 years old. People never believe I’m Jamaican. They always do the inevitable and ask me to “speak with my accent.” Never gets old. It cracks me up every time.

A few years ago I decided to set up shop in Los Angeles. It was the perfect time to grow my business and also an opportunity to do some personal growing of my own. I’m grateful to say that I’m succeeding at both. I love what I do, but I equally love relaxing and doing things I enjoy effortlessly like being at the beach, riding my beach cruiser, reading a really good book, and picnics in the park on the perfect spring day so I work on my work/life balance as much as I can. Overall, I would say I am someone who is simply enjoying life in a big way and it feels great!

“Life coaching isn’t always about being in crisis. It is also about just having unbiased support and an extra push.” – Coach Kerri

ELIXHER: How did you come about the decision to become a life coach?
COACH KERRI: I had a strong desire to be of service and help others while helping myself, which is really what I consider life coaching to be. I serve as a guide for my clients but my clients can also trigger old wounds within me, which pushes me to keep working on me and my own residual stuff daily. I knew I had a natural gift for problem-solving too and I really wanted to provide support for people who felt no one else could really understand what they were going through. I have needed support in the past. I have felt lost, confused and stuck myself. I have also felt like I wanted more for my life when things were status quo. Life coaching isn’t always about being in crisis. It is also about just having unbiased support and an extra push. I could identify with wanting to ask for help but not knowing where to get it too. Life coaching pulled me in. I feel like it chose me based on what I felt my life purpose is.

1661285_614997748554549_880797498_nELIXHER: Congratulations on the recent nuptials! You recently launched “Raw & UNCUT Inspiration” with your wife. Could you tell us more about it?
COACH KERRI: Thank you! Thank you! I refer to that day as “magic” whenever I talk about it or post a picture. For me, it was perfect and it felt magical. Like, is this really happening? Did everything I asked for so long really come true? I married my best friend. To me, that’s the ultimate blessing when it comes to who you choose to spend the rest of this lifetime with.

And yes, we recently launched an initiative called “Raw & UNCUT Inspiration.” My wife and I balance each other out in a lot of ways. We are both life coaches and we share different perspectives on lots of topics. We thought it would be an interesting twist to create weekly videos focused on a particular topic where we share our perspectives filter-free. Our videos reflect our opinions from a very real and transparent place. As a part of the initiative, we also offer couples coaching. We’ve got a great fan page on Facebook and we invite everyone to come by and “like us” and tell a friend.

ELIXHER: What does it mean to you to be doing the work you’re doing right now?
COACH KERRI: It means freedom! Because I love what I do, I am free. I create my own schedule, I get paid to do what comes naturally to me. I get to touch people’s lives in a really special way. I get to meet tons of amazing people who touch my life in a really special way. I get to work from home. Let’s not forget that. I get to grow everyday. I am so grateful.

“What frustrates me is the ‘crabs in a barrel’ mentality that does run rampant in our community at times. It’s the handful of us in the community that don’t realize there is enough abundance, success, joy, you name it…for all of us.” – Coach Kerri

ELIXHER: What makes you proud to be a part of the Black queer community? What brings you the biggest frustration?
COACH KERRI: I am most proud when we come together to support each other and lift each other up. There are definitely a lot of positive sistas out here and when we create forums and opportunities to come together and empower each other it feels good and the Black queer community knows how to do that well.

At the same time, what frustrates me is the “crabs in a barrel” mentality that does run rampant in our community at times. It’s the handful of us in the community that don’t realize there is enough abundance, success, joy, you name it…for all of us. It’s the handful of us in the community that would rather talk about each other and gossip rather than shut down all the drama. That is my biggest frustration. Some women in the community are more interested in getting ahead and knocking another sista down all because of a false sense of “competition.” I know we can do better and my hope is that we start showing up differently once and for all so we can create change on a bigger scale, on a mass level.

ELIXHER: So what’s next for Coach Kerri?
COACH KERRI: Well, my wife and I are expanding our life coaching partnership beyond couples coaching into more of an umbrella business that will include lots of awesome stuff like an aromatherapy line of products. I also have a T-shirt line called “Abundance is OURS” (re-launching very soon) with an awesome sister-friend-colleague, Monet Sykes, the creative genius behind the operation. I’ve been contracted to write some columns on a great new site launching in the spring. I’m pretty excited. And in April, I will be facilitating a workshop at Shades Retreat in Georgia. For more information on the retreat, please visit www.shadesretreat.com.

– Interview by Tia Williams

Tia N. Williams is the woman behind The Buddha In Me, an agency of artists, speakers, poets, and activists based in Atlanta. The Buddha In Me specializes in providing quality programs to educate, enlighten, and entertain. Tia recently received her M.Ed. from the University of Georgia in College Student Affairs Administration. 

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Your go-to resource for all things empowering, thought-provoking, and pertinent to Black queer and trans women and non-binary people.

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