Open House 2018 – MICHAEL IJI Custom Design & Tailoring, Cary NC

Hi folks, I am giving a shout out to my husband’s return to a brick and mortar store in Cary, North Carolina. So excited to see him back in business and out of my guest bedroom!

We are planning a special day on Saturday, July 14th from noon to 5pm and invite all local residents down to check out the new digs! Meanwhile, we have a small Indie campaign to cover costs. Please consider supporting a local small business, and definitely share!

Thanks so much! Looking forward to seeing you there.


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Why I am Damaged Goods

This young woman is a jewel, shining with wisdom and grace. May she come to fully know it and believe again in the power of her value. I believe she will help scores of women heal from their emotional cuts. There is much wisdom in her words. Powerful.

I am a 22 year old single mother of 3 kids under 4, (wow, what a mouthful). When I think of my recent adult life, for the most part, I am blessed. I have 3 beautiful babies, I am healthy and well. I am capable of working, going to school, learning a trade, traveling the world. I am capable of doing most tangible things on this earth, and for that, I am grateful.

We all know that those aren’t really the things that define us, though. Those aren’t the things we lay awake thinking about at 3am; those aren’t the things we shed heartbroken tears over. Those are the things we use to cover up deep insecurities and jagged scars.

Take a look at my Facebook page, or my Instagram or Snapchat. I look happy, I look strong, I look confident. You can see that I’m a proud mom. You…

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Death of a Fiction Writer

I loved waking up early this morning because I had time to turn on the computer for work – the day job.

Here in this article, Dean Wesley Smith hit so many great points.

I won my first poetry contest at eight years old.  I freelanced for Hallmark Cards in my mid-teens.  My drama classed performed poetry recitals and full cast plays of my works at seventeen years old.  I’d written a two-act play also at sixteen (not performed in school.)  It mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before graduation, and I swear I’ve seen it listed in a local paper some years back.  Without doubt.

So here is this article speaking about things that can ‘kill’ a writer.  What can make or has made YOU stop writing in your journey to print?

At least, I am happy to say that though I’ve suffered some of these deaths over my forty years of writing, like the author of this piece, I am still here.

You have to love the written word and the journey of the story more than you love to see your name in the byline or on the jacket.

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I finally did it! Well, let me first set your mind at ease and say that this title is not about self-mutilation.  Ok, I finally did it! I published an approximately 115 page collection of poems that I am so very proud of.

I keep telling this same story, but I will say it again: The title, as well as the title poem, were inspired by a question I heard as I flipped the television stations one evening and caught what seemed to me to be a girlfriend chat between Michelle Obama and Shonda Rhimes.  The subject matter, of course, was girls in society since this was a speaking engagement at the Philadelphia Women’s Conference around November 2017.

“Can’t you see these cuts on me?” It grabbed hold of my senses and flurried around, taking me back to my own past hurts – some I didn’t even realize had made impressions on me.  We are charged with reproducing human society with all its anxieties and pain and pressure and stress.  Then, we have to care for the needs of these beings for about two decades.  Meanwhile, we most often have to work and struggle in society to make our own way.  We may or may not have mates, but there are always relationship issues.  We are all in different stages of progression.  Some are still on the path to finding themselves – regardless of their age.  Others are in the midst of rediscovering who they are.  Still others are completely lost.  All of these women experience different degrees of the same challenge: how they are treated; how they are represented; how they feel about themselves.

Mrs. Obama spoke of her own childhood experiences with her father and that she was raised in a household that never shut down her voice.  She was not shooed away because her parents were too busy to be bothered with her childish chat.  So she learned that her voice, her opinion, was respected.  That certainly would carry into adulthood and it was a signature of how she presented herself in public.  She was ‘comfortable in her own space.’  She was not afraid of her own voice or to speak up in a crowd or to walk into a room full of strangers and wonder how she measured up against others, especially men.

I respect that because it took some self-evaluation at a young age to give me that awareness.  Mine occurred working for corporations in and around downtown Detroit in the 90s and early 2000s.  I worked across the hall from the governor’s office for a short time.  I won’t tell all the crazy antics I did in that State building, but once I saw men in dark suits racing down the hall and checking corners, it was all I needed to stay at my desk and not throw my gigantic rubber band ball against the wall to see if it would bounce.

I remember working at Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University, Leaseline Financial (Ford Motor Co.), Blue Cross and Blue Shield, American Heart Association and some major international organizations.  In these crowds, there are always executives, board members, international delegates and those holding prestigious political offices.  Who was I amongst them?  A girl of barely twenty-something still just realizing I was free to travel without my mother’s signed permission.

I worked out my nerves by having conversations with them, acting as liaison and self-assigned tour guide to foreign interns; and realizing that I have knowledge of things that they knew nothing about.  This is not even to mention spiritual understanding, but simple things.  I figured this out when observing one executive (name withheld) of a multi-billion dollar company who had no clue how to use a fax machine or printer.  I watched him fidget with buttons, rub his head, lift the scanner flap up and down, then finally pass the documents to me.  It wasn’t that doing something as trivial as sending a fax was beneath him.  It was in fact beyond him.  I thought, ‘Wow, this big guy can’t press a few buttons? How can he run this corporation?’  Because he had book knowledge, some letters and was a fast talker.

As I advanced in my employment and skills, I absorbed so much.  I learned I could talk the talk just as well.  I learned I could be informative, engaging and at the center of conversations too.  My co-workers loved to be around me because my ‘conversationalism’ sets everyone else at ease. I could smile and laugh with the best of them.  I recall being on a private elevator with two German executives who were conversing in their native tongue and apparently making jokes.  At one point, one of the men looked at me briefly and then out the window.  I understood nothing of what they were saying, but I did get the idea that it was inappropriate.  So as I stepped off the elevator at my floor, I shook my head and said:

“I am just shocked!”  Both their faces flushed immediately and the apologizing began.

“Oh, I am so sorry.  We did not know you understood.  We were joking. Don’t tell her please!”

“Well,” I said, still not having a clue, “just don’t let it happen again.  I expected better from you.”  I had worked for the German-owned company for 10 years at that point, but could count all of my gained knowledge of the language on my fingers – very limited. But, the point was that I could have felt so small and clumsy and uncomfortable on that elevator.  I could have fidgeted or bit my nails and watched impatiently as the numbers of the floors slowly moved up.  I could have allowed myself to feel insignificant IF I did not have a handle on who I was already.  It may have still been in development, but my self-confidence was there.   For me, it was a matter of knowing my own inner worth amid a crowd of folks that most often measured theirs by financial statements, college degrees and zip codes.

I used my extracurricular activities of teaching and speaking in front of my peers as extra training in direct eye-contact & engagement, poise, as well as self-esteem.  When my nerves got the best of me, I would tell myself, ‘These are the same people who you laugh and chat with all other times.  Why are you so nervous to speak in front of them now? Especially when what I spoke on was something in which I truly believed.’  Having a measure of nerves is a good sign of humility, but having an over-abundance can lead others to falsely believe that you don’t measure up. So I helped build up my own confidence by telling myself that I had value.  I identified it, evaluated it and worked on it until I accepted it. It allowed me to not turn my head away in nervousness when I felt put on the spot, as in Italy when I always got the once-over by Italian women.  I studied them up and down as long as they did to me.  I learned not to break a glare.

So no matter who I came in contact with, my confidence matured as I did.  I’ve spoken to priests and scholars and celebrities alike with a calm, casual voice.  The takeaway is that no one is better than you are, they just have different jobs.  One of my favorite saying is: “Never give away your dignity.”  Clearly, we live in a society geared towards taking it from women.  I even wrote a poem or two (or three) about how women are presented as no more than sexual objects and then conditioned to believe that they like it.  Clothes, makeup, hair, shoes, cars, foods… Is there anything that a woman’s body is not used to sell – including even the woman herself?

We all have cuts on us, but I am speaking only from the vantage point of the female gender.  Just as prophecy spoke, we live in a male-dominated society and though not all men behave equally, quite a large majority are ok with that dominant attitude, even to the point of considering women their property.

CUTS ON ME addresses my perspective as a woman with emotional cuts.  Spoiler alert: I believe that the book ends positively, having purged the hurts and progressing forward in life with a brighter outlook and a brilliant hope for the future.

It would be my greatest hope that many people would buy the book and give me feedback – both personally and through reviews.  Looking forward to engaging with you more on the subject in the future.  Thanks for letting me hold your attention this long.  Have a great day!


aka Jess Vaughn


@Jess Vaughn Writes (Facebook)

@Jess Vaughn Writes (YouTube)

@itspersonalgg (Instagram)

@itspersonal411 (Twitter)



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Reinventing myself: Jess Vaughn Writes!

Hello friends,

It has been quite a while. As usual, I am all over the place, writing here, writing there. I have no less than six creative writing projects going on, almost simultaneously. A collection of poetry, picture books, children’s stories, greeting cards, a new website, a new blog, a novel or two…

My current joy is a middle grade children’s story called Back to the Land of the Stinky Feet. Here are some details…

Book details
It is about a young girl, Smelly Shelly, in an almost utopian town, Stinkafitte, that comes face to face with her alter-self by being transported through a special car that rides into the town one day. In Stinkafitte, the land is covered with every fragrant flower one can imagine. In the alter-town, the land is modern with cell phone shops, bars, graffiti and trash as usual. Stinkafitte is a small town with one post office, one bakery, one sheriff’s office, one restaurant, one eye doctor and especially one foot doctor!

All the townspeople remove their shoes at lunch time, during the heat of day, to air them out. They also leave their shoes on the front porch at night to keep the house fresh. Everyone brings home fresh pastries and fresh flowers every evening.

Smelly Shelly loves ladyfingers. Her clothes are very prissy and proper with her hair in pigtails and her shiny red shoes. But, she always leaves a trail of cookie crumbs wherever she goes. She visits the foot doctor and gets her toes soaked because she wears too-tight shoes! Everyone in Stinkafitte has horrendous smelling feet, but they are the best people you would want to meet. They are loving, friendly, kind, etc. Smelly Shelly is the town know-it-all. Her friend Stinky Joe can’t make a decision or have an original thought without comparing it to his mother’s expressions. The Sheriff and the Mayor are big men that are well-respected in town.

Shelly’s alter, is very modern with dark, assymetric hair, black jeans and vivid printed tops and she wears too much makeup for a twelve-year-old, but she looks exactly like Shelly underneath of course.

There are no windows on any of the cars in Stinkafitte. And all the school windows, shops, and town bus, etc., keep the windows open most of the day. It’s a colorful, fun place to live. The alter Stinkafitte is cold and a bit scary. The grass is dead, the houses need painting and nothing seems warm and inviting.

Smelly Shelly sees objects in the bedroom that she has never seen before like the box that talks (the tv) and the square thing with the apple on it (computer). She’s amazed by it all. But anxious to get back home. She and her alter work together to get her back the way she came. But it won’t be easy!


I’ve decided to put myself out there in a serious effort to change career direction. I know it’s been the subject of my conversations for a few years off and on, but I am not getting any younger. If we don’t make a leap of faith now, it may never happen. So now is as good a time as any!

I would so much appreciate it if you’d take a journey over into my new world. You can find me on Twitter at @itspersonal411; on Instagram at itspersonalgg; Facebook at Jess Vaughn Writes – as well as YouTube! And my new website and blog,

I am so looking forward to seeing some familiar names over there, and also getting some serious feedback on what you think of my new ventures.

Oh boy, and the books are coming!!

My first bona fide (non-depressed) collection of poetry is almost ready to hit the bookshelves! Cuts on Me is a putting away of past hurts and injustices and stepping into a new life of hope, love and great expectations. I really hope it does for all my friends and acquaintances and readers what it has done for me: purged the past and opened the door to new beginnings.

Wishing you all well! Until we speak again,

aka Jess Vaughn Writes

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Jealousy and Envy, not I!

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by my computer crashing…
we are almost at 400 votes….

but what I was reflecting on is a lesson learned last weekend about the difference between envy and jealousy. Jealousy can be described as having a desire for what others have. Envy is like having that desire, but also not wanting the other person to enjoy what they have. Like, I want it but if I can’t have it neither can you. So foul. We should rejoice in the success of others not wish for them to be down and depressed and in the gutter so we can make ourselves feel superior. What kind of people….
I was thinking of this because every time I go to the FedEx site and start clicking on other campaigns to see how many votes other businesses have, I start reading their story and I like their products and then I end up voting for them too.  I’m not envious. I’m not jealous. I’m only biased to the degree that I know my husband’s talent is truly high-class. But it’s a big world out there and we’re not trying to sit on the top of it, we just want to pay our bills with the money we earn doing the work we love. So simple.

Voting is now open for the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.
Take a look at MICHAEL IJI CUSTOM DESIGN & TAILORING STUDIO’s profile in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.


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FEDEX Small Business Grant Contest Strikes Again!

So what have I been doing the last year? Doing the 9-5 or longer and just trying to survive. Shake ups happening at work this month has led me to start my own business – #It’s So Personal! Professional Services, freelance admin and much, much more. Joining forces with my husband to give a concerted effort to a lifestyle change. Meaning we both are fed up with the struggle and just want to be out of debt and have our bills paid, and MAYBE get one vacation a year, if….

Is that so much to ask?

Support It’s So Personal! and Michael Iji as we go for the 5th annual FedEx small business grant, contest happening now!!! Just click and show us your support-

We have been impeded from progress by lack of advertising dollars and supply purchases – we have demand but lack ample supply and sufficient marketing. Our winning a grant from FedEx will have impact far beyond just ourselves, as we will 1) boost local printing, shipping and graphic design businesses by using their services; 2) employ at least two disadvantaged persons who have exceptional skill but lack opportunities and 3) share as we grow, continuing in our current weekly community services.

This IS us!

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