7 Life Lessons I Learned at the #MTYRetreat

Last weekend I experienced one of the most transformative trips of my life. I’ve traveled quite a bit in my lifetime, but never quite like this. I was chosen to attend the very first My Taught You Retreat in Cancun, Mexico. This experience was curated by Myleik Teele – brilliant brand builder behind Curlbox and the MyTaughtYou podcast – and it was the best way to kickoff my 31st year of life. Not only was I surrounded by nearly 100 of the most powerful black girl changemakers in the country, but for the first time in a long time I felt like I was truly being poured into.

When you craft your life’s work around being purpose-driven and pouring into others, it can leave you feeling empty and drained. Also, as an entrepreneur, I often work in a bubble with very little interaction from people who truly understand what I’m going through as a sole proprietor with children and bills and unpaid invoices and STRESS. It’s a struggle. I left Mexico last weekend with so much inspiration and priceless gems. Here are the top 7 life lessons I learned at the MTYRetreat:

1. Be INTENTIONAL About The Life You Want. (Kahlana Barfield-Brown)

Most of us who are highly successful in one area of our lives (like career, for example) neglect to realize that if we crave success in other areas, we have to work at it. You want a family some day? Ok. Why haven’t you actively tried to find a suitable candidate to create one with? You make more of what you focus your time on. If you’re constantly focused on work then, guess what? You’ll just get more work.

Kahlana Barfield-Brown, Editor at Large at InStyle Magazine, spoke to us about her wake-up call and how she had to literally get herself out of the office and into places and spaces where she would meet and eventually fall in love with her husband. It’s nice knowing that some women who seem to “have it all”, didn’t get it all at once. It takes intention and proactivity for you to develop the life you want. Don’t complain about not having what you want if you haven’t tried your best to get it.

2. If It Don’t Make Dollars, It Don’t Make Sense. (Karleen Roy)

What I love about being a creative is that I’m never bored. I always have a vision, a new idea, an amazing way to put the icing on my entrepreneurial cake. When it isn’t fun is when I’m over budget and I can’t pay my rent. Every creative entrepreneur has been here. Do I launch my next product or do I pay my insurance? The struggle is REAL.

So when Karleen Roy of The Vanity Group gave her chat and said that pulling together the vision for the MTYRetreat was actually the biggest lesson for her to date, I FELT THAT. Myleik pushed her out of her comfort zone by challenging her on doing things that didn’t provide real monetary value. She talked about being a creative and how creativity can sometimes push you WAY over budget. And that’s truly what I’m learning each day and where I have to challenge myself more. Is this thing going to create wealth for me? If not, then why am I doing it? That’s a question I have to start asking myself more in 2018.

3. You Can’t Move Forward Until You Learn To LET GO. (Zim Ugochukwu)

One of the hardest things to do is to let go of something you love. Whether it’s a business or a long-term relationship, letting go is TOUGH but necessary. In order for you to grow, and move into new fruitful chapters in your life – you have to be pruned. Zim, founder of Travel Noire recently sold her company to Blavity. And during her chat she mentioned John 15. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…”

Travel Noire was her baby. And she sold it because she was being called into a new chapter in her life. If you want a life that bears “fruit”, one that makes you happy, serves your life purpose, brings others joy and grows you in ways unimaginable – you have to LOSE to gain.

4. You Teach People How To Treat You. (Luvvie Ajayi)

A lot of the time, especially as women, we accept behavior that we don’t like or appreciate. We allow people to do, say and act in a way that makes us uncomfortable and we don’t speak up about it. Why come?

Everybody’s favorite Nigerian cousin – Luvvie Ajayi – opened our eyes to an important fact this weekend. You teach people how to treat you. Silence around your discomfort is actually saying a lot. If someone does something to you that you don’t like and you say nothing, you’re essentially telling them it’s ok to keep doing it. Another gem – ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Luvvie is unapologetic about asking for pay that is commiserate with her experience. She’s a New York Times Bestseller and that comes with a premium price tag. More than that, she’s comfortable and ASSURED that she is worth it. How much money are YOU leaving on the table because you’re not comfortable asking for what you’re truly worth?

5. Work To Leave A Legacy. (Necole Kane)

What would people say at your funeral if you dropped dead today? Sounds harsh and incredibly morbid to think about, but for some this is a reality every day. During our last night of MTYRetreat, man, so many gems were dropped. One of which came from Necole Kane, founder of xoNecole.com – formerly of NecoleBitchie.

She talked about the fact that both her parents passed away while they were young and that the glaring reality of life’s end is what drove her to switch from gossip blogging to inspiration and empowerment. She didn’t want her life’s work to be something she wouldn’t be proud of at her funeral. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. Live a life that makes you proud and leaves a positive impact on the lives of others. We literally only have one life to live.

6. Choose Collaboration Over Competition. (MTY Retreat Attendees)

The MTYRetreat weekend was like a love fest of black girl magic and power. I have never seen that many women of color, of that stature and presence, come together as the strong forces we individually are. These women came with no other agenda but to build community, share, laugh, cry and grow together. It was absolutely beautiful.

Many of us are in similar lanes, doing similar things, but each powerful in our own respective areas. Each of us unique, but so very much the same. What this weekend reinforced in me, more than anything, is the importance of collaborating and not competing. We are SO much stronger together. We HAVE to stick together – we all we got! We need to be open to sharing knowledge, encouraging each other, bonding and building sisterhood so we can win. If not for ourselves, our families and communities, do it for the culture.

7. The Person You Need The Most is YOU. (Myleik)

I talked about this a little in my “Letter To My Younger Self”. No business partner, best friend or bae can replace what you need the most. Yourself. I feel like I spent so much of my adult life thus far searching and searching for people, places and things to “complete” me. It’s been a long road but I’m starting to realize, with the help of inspirational women like Myleik, how important it is to love yourself first. Myleik shared a story about being terrified of flying to Europe all by herself. Instead, she turned that fear into action, booked herself a first class flight so she’d be comfortable, dove into an amazing book (DVF’s “The Woman I Wanted To Be”) and she grew closer to herself through just this one experience. It doesn’t take a whole lifetime to figure out how to treat yourself right. You can be your own best friend right here, where you are, right now.

Major thanks to the entire My Taught You team for pulling together such an amazing and enlightening experience for all of us. Out of 1,000 applicants, I am honored to have been chosen among the first 95 women to be in the MTYRetreat Class of 2018. Interested in attending the next one? Sign up for updates here: https://www.mtyretreat.com/

A Letter To My Younger Self: Reflections on My 31st Birthday

Last Sunday I officially made three decades and a year. It’s hard to believe I entered my 30’s an entire year ago. 2017 feels like a blur. I spent my birthday weekend on a retreat in Cancun, Mexico and while I was there I had some time to really reflect.

I decided that I feel really good about where I am and who I’ve become.

It’s taken all of my 20’s, two babies, three full time jobs, a lot of unpaid invoices, one failed business, 3 failed relationships,much heartache and countless hours of therapy for me to finally be happy. With, just me.

Unconsciously when we become aware that “things” and “titles” and “accolades” can validate us among others, we begin a quiet obsession with them. We set out on a quest to get things like cars, houses and fancy shoes. We set up our lives to acquire titles like girlfriend, wife, employee, mommy or CEO. And we become addicted to the high that comes with accolades. It’s an eternal cycle of acquiring things to make ourselves happy and to make others proud, envious or in awe of us.

The pursuit of everyone else’s happiness.

Well folks, today, just one week into my 31st year – I’m grateful.  Because I’ve learned not to give a damn. I have learned that the person whose happiness I should be most concerned with is my own. And I’m devoting year 31 to loving myself unapologetically. My only regret is that it took so long for me to get here. Oh, how much my life would have been different had I known then what I know now. I wrote a letter to my younger self. She deserves to hear from me. I hope she receives this with open arms.

Dear Younger Self,

I’m sorry for not loving you the way I should. You deserve better. Your curves are a gift. Your hair is beautiful whether it’s in an Afro, in box braids or sewn up under a straight haired wig. All of it is flawless, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The fact that you give so much of yourself to others will come in handy when you become a mom. You will be an incredible mom. You will love and lose. You will cry many tears. But through it all, God will be right by your side. Listen to His Voice and believe Him when He says everything will be ok. Because it will.

At age 31, you will not have it all figured out but you will believe in yourself more than you ever have. You will have two beautiful children, a thriving business and a whole lot of experience in this thing called life. And guess what? You will feel unstoppable. You will BE unstoppable.

Always do your best. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t take things personally. Be impeccable with your word. These are four basic agreements you will learn in your coming years that will change your life.

You are awesome. I need that to sink in. Nobody and nothing “makes” you awesome. You just already are.

I love you, and I’m rooting for you.


Your Future Self

Photography: Maricarmen Arcos

My Classic Beauty Look for 2018

As we’re embracing a new year, I’m in deep reflection about all the things I’ve left in 2017 and what I’m bringing with me into 2018. I’ve decided that I’m only bringing the things I enjoy most in life with me in 2018 – from career and relationships down to my skincare and makeup regimen.

2017 brought with it a lot of great changes for me. I reached new heights in my career being one of the first influencers to be featured in a national campaign with Dove, Cadence became a three-nager (proununced like teenager), my baby boy Colton was born, and I learned to truly appreciate the simple things in life. The older I get, the more minimalist I become with my beauty routine. I’ve given up the idea that the most expensive, most trendy or most complicated is what will work best. Also now, as a mom of two, my time is super limited. So I’ve perfected my classic beauty look down to a science with these three must-haves:


1. Clean Skin

The way to perfect your beauty look is to start with skin. Makeup looks infinitely better painted on a beautiful canvas. Drink lots of water, never sleep in your makeup overnight and make sure you have a moisturizing cleanser. Dove Beauty Bar (as you all know) is one of my go-to’s. I can use it on face and body, it doesn’t dry out my skin like other soaps do, and it’s the #1 dermatologist recommended bar.

I follow up my cleanser with a good toner, then a moisturizer and sometimes a serum at night.

2. The Perfect Foundation

The age-old question is how to find the best foundation for you. If I’m going to be honest there’s no dream product out there that works for everyone. It takes a bit of trial and error. Make sure you get foundation-matched at your local beauty counter. Have an understanding of your skin type as well. I have dry/combination skin that loves light to medium coverage liquid foundation and tinted moisturizers. Texture and coverage level will really depend on your skin type and preference. Try a few different brands until something works. My current fave is Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filter Soft Matte Longwear Foundation. I also love Lancome’s Teint Idole Ultra Wear.

3. A Classic Red Lip

It’s amazing what some red lipstick will do for your confidence. I think red is just such a quintessential ladylike color to sport. It puts the exclamation point on your beauty look and there are reds that compliment every shade beautifully. The trick is to find a shade that works well with your skin’s undertones. I have yellow/warm undertones, so I opt for reds that have more of an orange base. If you have a cool undertone, you should aim for a red with a blue base. Two of my current faves are Bawse Lady by The Lip Bar and Stunna Lip Paint by Fenty Beauty.

I can’t believe it, but this year marks my 9th year as a blogger. It’s hard to believe I’ve been going at this for almost a decade.

I am so honored to have partnered with Dove over the past year as one of their beauty ambassadors, and I look forward to an amazing 2018. Happy New Year, loves! Feel free to share your classic beauty must-haves in the comments below.

This post is sponsored by Dove. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.

BrownGirlsLove POWER Day 2018 Presented by Toyota (Recap)

On this past Saturday January 6th, 2018, I hosted the third annual BrownGirlsLove POWER Day Presented by Toyota. Taking place at NYC’s hidden gem Helen Mills Event Space & Theatre, nearly 200 guests gathered on the first Saturday of 2018 for this dynamic empowerment day complete with networking, business panels, workshops and more.

Y’all. I had the TIME OF MY LIFE. I am so blessed to have cultivated a community of women who believe in the power of collaboration, education and transformation. We kicked 2018 off the right way – with love.

BrownGirlsLove POWER Day is a day conference crafted to cater to millennial women of color looking to turn their dreams into reality. Our panelists provided guests with tips on everything from thriving under 30 to being a mompreneur, developing a successful podcast, branding yourself and even preparing for life after college.

I created BrownGirlsLove because of you. You all sent me emails and DMs asking about my journey as an entrepreneur and often asking questions that I didn’t have the answer to. So I would turn to my sister-friends in the industry. I decided to take the conversation offline and host a LIVE event to answer some of your questions. That was the birth of BrownGirlsLove.

For the third annual event, I curated a powerful team of experts and presenters who have mastered the art of building and sustaining a brand. Special guests included Jade Kendle of LipstickNCurls, Gracie J of TheEditorialNail, Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro Podcast, Rana Campbell of Dreams In Drive Podcast, Dreena Whitfield – founder of WhitPR, Melanie White – founder of Melanie Marie, Kim Roxie – founder of LAMIK Beauty, Mia Ray of Glamaholic Lifestyle, digital marketing strategist Emmelie De La Cruz, On-Air Talent & Journalist Gia Peppers, Charli Penn – Senior Digital Lifestyle and Relationships Editor at ESSENCE, Sheila Coates – Founder of Be Your Own Brand (BYOB), Kimberly Brown of Manifest Yourself, Radio Personality & Host Scottie Beam, Brand Manager Stacie Smith, and Nicole Sanchez – Founder & CEO of Hero Tax and so many more.

The two story venue was filled with black girl brilliance, welcoming guests from all over the country. BrownGirlsLove Power Day was made possible by presenting sponsor Toyota USA, platinum sponsor The Mane Choice and silver sponsors Capital One and Cantu. Guests enjoyed a host of live activities provided by our sponsors and vendors.

The Mane Choice Beauty Lounge kept attendees refreshed and relaxed throughout the day by providing complimentary hairstyling and massage services using their products. Each guest received full size products from The Mane Choice in their gift bags as well, including the Heavenly Halo Shampoo & Conditioner and the Green Tea & Carrot Hair Mask.

LAMIK Beauty provided guests with professional makeup touch ups. Special thanks to Kim Roxie for providing her amazing team to primp our attendees.

Toyota USA revolutionized the idea of a photobooth by sending in a 2018 Toyota Camry for attendees to take selfies in.

Guests left with two luxe swag bags – one filled with products provided by sponsors like The Mane Choice, Capital One, Cantu, Made Beautiful, and EDEN BodyWorks. Toyota provided their own custom tote bags complete with customized “Brown Girl BOSS” engraved leather portfolios and makeup bags.

Attendees were also treated to an amazing mini shopping experience from fellow female-owned and minority-owned businesses like Mind Oil Soul, Melanin Magic Shop, Beauty by Africa Miranda, and BrownGirlsLove.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Women left empowered, inspired and geared up for 2018. And I was reminded of how important this work is that we’re doing. Love & light to everyone who attended and all who tuned in. You can see video from the panel discussions at LoveBrownSugar TV.

To see more pictures from BrownGirlsLove Power Day 2018, check out the Facebook album HERE.

Shop LoveBrownSugar Holiday Pop Up 2017 Recap

I am still on a high from this past weekend’s Shop LoveBrownSugar Holiday Pop Up Shop. As the third annual event of its kind, the 2017 rendition was bigger and better than ever. Hosted at The Mezzanine in downtown NYC, the snow didn’t stop you guys from coming out and supporting minority-owned businesses for the holidays and I am SO honored that I could host this event for another year. Here are a few of the highlights:

Our title sponsors had amazing VIP beauty services for our guests including makeup touch-ups, hair touch-ups and free giveaways. 

IMAN Cosmetics debuted some of their newest items from the collection they curated in partnership with the Proud Mary film. They also had some of their classic items and bestsellers. Those matte lippies? So bomb! If you haven’t already, check out my Holiday Beauty How-To Featuring IMAN Cosmetics.

Here one of their artists does a fierce touch-up for me during the event. Flawless look and their products compliment brown skin so beautifully.

CURLS offered free hair touch-ups in their VIP suite, and also had a bomb gif photobooth that guests were able to use to snap fun videos at the event.

They also gave away free samples of their Blueberry Bliss Leave-In (smells so good and works WONDERS!)

DJ Rubadub was on the 1’s and 2’s and she ROCKED it!

We had an amazing group of editors and digital influencers who came through to support. There are SO many to thank for their support. It feels good knowing people will trek out in the snow to support something you believe in.

Our vendors sell some of the coolest products you could possibly place under the Christmas tree.

They are so incredibly creative, and I feel blessed that they were part of this event offering some of their amazing creations to customers.

From beauty products to crafts to journals and jewelry. There was such a great variety of items at price points for everyone on your list.

Make sure you’re following me on Instagram @LoveBrownSugar because tomorrow at 9pm, I’ll be hosting an IG Live session with a “Holiday Gift Guide” featuring products from these brands.

I know many of you who don’t live in the NYC area wanted to support but couldn’t make it, so this my way of hosting a virtual shop so you can see and support the brands from at home!

There will be giveaways and exclusive deals just for LoveBrownSugar followers from some of these brands, so save the date & time and tune in for some fun!

Very special thanks to This Open Space for allowing this event to take place, by way of their Space Fund business competition. Winning first place in that competition was just the boost I needed to bring this event series back to NYC and support budding creative entrepreneurs display their talents. I’m beyond grateful for the support.

For more pictures from Shop LoveBrownSugar 2017, click HERE for the album on Facebook!

Want to try This Open Space to book a space of your own? Use my referral link to get $25 OFF your first booking: http://fbuy.me/gT0gj

Photography by Kolin Mendez | Videography by Joe Chea

Confessions of a Mompreneur: Tips For Success

There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you have to choose between your dreams and your family. The pressures of being a career woman and a mother can be incredibly tough to handle. So much so that people still seem to think that a woman’s life stops after kids. Not true! We’re here to put those alternative facts to rest. Next month at BrownGirlsLove Power Day 2018 Presented by Toyota, we have a powerful panel of entrepreneurs who will speak on our “Confessions of a Mompreneur” panel on how to have it all. Check out tips exclusively from our panelists on how they’re slaying both roles.

1. Learn From Your Mistakes (Melanie White)

“A lot of new entrepreneurs give up easily after their first failure. I always tell people to “learn from your mistakes.” Failures are inevitable, especially when you take a big risk to achieve ambitious goals. Recognize this before you begin. You will learn from your failures and they will only make you better. There is very little learning in success. Embrace failure and move on. Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up. Many entrepreneurs point to mistakes as being their best teacher. When you learn from your mistakes, you move closer to success – even though you initially failed.”

-Melanie White

2. Patience is a Virtue (Kim Roxie)

“Work/life balance takes time to discover. Just be patient with yourself and the journey to get there.”

-Kim Roxie | LAMIK Beauty

3. Maintain a Solid Support System

“One thing that has contributed to my success as a mompreneur is my support system. Having a support system allows me to do more than most working moms that I know.”

-Dreena Whitfield | WhitPR

Want more tips like these? Join us for the “Confessions of a Mompreneur” Panel on Saturday, January 6, 2018 at BrownGirlsLove POWER Day!

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Thriving Under 30: Tips For Success From Millennial Moguls

Once upon a time, much like wisdom, success came with age. You put years and years of hard work and ambition into a career path and eventually you’d be handsomely rewarded. With the digital age came the breaking down of  barriers to entry so that now, with the click of a button, the entire world is your stage. Financial success is so much more accessible and the new generation has so much more confidence. Millennials continue to defy the odds, putting the “20-something” woes to shame and validating the term “age ain’t nothing but a number.” Whether you are in school or getting your first taste of adulting as a post-graduate, success is yours to experience NOW. We pulled together a group of young movers and shakers  who are panelists at BrownGirlsLove POWER Day Presented by Toyota, to share ­a few key tips for  thriving under 30!

Check them out below:

1. Define Yourself  (Gracie J – Founder of The Editorial Nail)

“The words I live by are ‘don’t live down to people’s expectations of you.’ I’ve been told so many times I couldn’t do something for a myriad of reasons. One being – you’re not there yet! ‘Well, how would you know that, if you’re not as big of a fan of me as I am?’ Do not allow people to underestimate you or make you feel that you cannot be great right here and now!

2. Discover Your Niche (Jade Kendle, LipstickNCurls)

“Discover your niche and water it like a plant! No one wakes up one day with an empire. Empires are built brick by brick, seed by seed. When you find your passion, your niche, water it and allow it to grow organically with love and consistency!” – Jade Kendle

3. Emulate Where You Want to Be

“If you want to create a luxe and high end product, market it that way! Be creative with your resources and find ways to elevate your content without spending a ton of money. It’s possible!”  – Jade Kendle

4. Stop Giving Up Halfway (Emmelie De La Cruz)

“Stop giving up and starting over every few weeks or months. You’re discouraged. You’re tired. You’re annoyed. You’re sad. You’re lazy. You’re frantic. So what? Be that for an allotted amount of time and move on. When you dwell in those emotions and let them become your identity, you let them dictate how you live your life.” – Emmelie De La Cruz

There are NO limits to the heights you can reach and the goals you can attain – not even your age! Want more tips like these? Join us for the “Thriving Under 30” panel discussion on Saturday, January 6, 2018 at BrownGirlsLove POWER Day in NYC! This post and BrownGirlsLove POWER Day is presented by Toyota. #LetsGoPlaces in 2018. Click below to purchase your ticket:

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Holiday Beauty How-To With IMAN Cosmetics “Proud Mary” Collection

Happy holiday season y’all! It’s officially time for egg nog, sparkly dresses, high heels and bold after-work makeup now that the season is in full swing. I love an excuse to get dressed up, so holiday time is one of my favorite times of the year. The gift that keeps on giving this year is the new IMAN Cosmetics “Proud Mary” inspired collection featuring their new IMAN Luxury Highlighter and Luxury Matte Lipstick shades. You guys know I’m a huge fan of Taraji P. Henson, and her latest movie releasing in theaters early January is all about a bold, unapologetic character who lives life on her own terms and is willing to take risks.

So when IMAN Cosmetics agreed to sponsor our Shop LoveBrownSugar holiday pop-up shop this season, I was ECSTATIC. Not only do I love the products, but their partnership with “Proud Mary” is right on time for what we’re trying to promote. Fierce, bold and unapologetic beauty.

To highlight the collection, I partnered up with my girl Sisi Nike to pull together a beauty look that is equally as bold, but still beautiful enough to rock to your favorite holiday soiree. Here’s what she used to get this look:

Step 1: Skin

She started things off by giving me a clean and perfectly even skin tone with the IMAN Cosmetics Second to None Stick Foundation in Earth 2. As a highlight, she used the Second to None Cream to Powder Foundation in Sand 5. And for my contour, she used the Luxury Concealing Foundation in Earth 4. Topping things off, she used the IMAN Cosmetics Luxury Contour Trio to pull the entire look together.

The Luxury Contour Trio is a great option if you really don’t have the time to work with 3 different foundation shades for bronzer, highlight and contour. It basically has everything you need in one convenient compact that you can take on the go.

Step 2: Set

She set my foundation with a combination of IMAN Cosmetics powders and highlighters. First, she used the Second to None Semi Loose Powder in Clay Medium to set the look. She used the Second To None Luminous Foundation Pressed Powder in Clay 5 to give me that overall glow. She highlighted my cheekbones using the NEW IMAN Cosmetics Luxury Highlighter in Glamour Girl. And finally she gave my cheeks a little color with the Sable Blushing Powder.

Step 3: Eyes

On the eyes she kept it simple with their Luxury Eye Shadow in African Violet all over the lid. She lined my eyes using the Perfect Eyeshadow Pencil in Jet Black and shaped my brows with the Perfect Eyebrow Pencil in Blackest Brown. She topped it all off using their Amplify Mascara, which is really cool because the applicator has a nice curved tip that will give your lashes an extra boost.

Step 4: Lips

To finalize the look, she used their Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Flirtatious. This is such a bold and beautiful hot pink and it looks great on different skin tones.


To celebrate the holiday season and their partnership with the “Proud Mary” film, IMAN Cosmetics is giving away their full collection of products from the Proud Mary collaboration. Yep, you read correctly. YOU can win all the products mentioned for FREE. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment below with why you’d like to win the collection
  2. Log onto Instagram and follow @IMANCosmetics
  3. Post a bold & beautiful #selfie on your page (to enter, your page cannot be private, or we won’t be able to see it!)
  4. Use the hashtags: #IMANCosmetics #MelaninArmy #CelebrateYourSkinTone

One winner will be chosen and sent the full collection! Sweepstakes end on December 5th, 2017. Good luck!

Photography by Marshall Frett of Justified Photos

25 Ways To #BuyBlack On Black Friday


So you guys know I am a huge supporter of black-owned businesses, especially during the holiday season. I started the Shop LoveBrownSugar holiday pop-up series with the intention of supporting these businesses over the past few years. And every year since the tragic events in Ferguson in 2014, I’ve created an annual Black Friday list with some of my favorite minority-owned businesses to support. For 2017, I’ve brought back a few of my steady favorites and I’ve also added a few new brands I’ve discovered over the last year. This is in no way an exhaustive list! There are SO many amazing minority-owned brands to support out there. But on my little slice of the internet, I like to promote the ones I personally love each year. Here they are:

Adwoa Beauty

A new lifestyle brand catering to no-fuss curlies who want effective and easy to use products to complete their natural hair regimen. The founder is Julian Addo – curator of the groundbreaking BellaKinks brand out of Dallas, TX. On top of their beautiful imagery, I love the use of ingredients like baobab oil and peppermint.


beauty by Africa Miranda*

One of my tried & true beauty staples since it launched last holiday season, the beauty by Africa Miranda elixir is awesome as a primer, a light oil moisturizer as well as a makeup remover. I love a good 3-in-1 product and a little goes a long way. 


Black on Black BK*

There are no shortage of t-shirt and sweatshirt brands with a message, but what I really love about Black on Black BK is how unapologetic the statements are. I also have a thing for black and white so I love that the designs stick to these colors. They’ve got really cute sweats, tees and tote bags and items come in kids sizes up to adults.


Cee Cee’s Closet*

Headwraps make a really awesome holiday gift. They’re so beautiful and they’re the perfect “bad hair day” fix for your favorite friend. What I love about Cee Cee’s closet is that they not only make amazing wraps but part of the proceeds from each wrap goes back to support artisans who are handcrafting the products in Nigeria.



The pinnacle of all subscription boxes for naturals, CurlBox is the first and best in the market. The boxes never cease to amaze me. They partner with the best brands on the market and always deliver a premium experience. Also, founder Myleik Teele is the ultimate girl boss. I’m obsessed with her MyTaughtYou podcast.


Debra Cartwright*

One of my favorite illustrators, Debra Cartwright creates beautiful watercolor masterpieces that feature diverse women of color. She now offers prints, notebooks and other novelties.


Eden BodyWorks

One of my all-time favorite beauty brands, EDEN BodyWorks has a plethora of great options for hair, body and skincare. Their products are available at most major retailers. I’m partial to the EDEN Kids line for my daughter and their new Citrus Fusion line for myself.


Feminine Funk

A bold line of tees and sweatshirts for women of all shapes and sizes, their taglines will give you an extra boost of confidence before you walk out the door. 


Happy Hair*

Teaching young girls to love and accept their hair in various shapes and forms is so important to building confidence in them. The founder of Happy Hair, Mechal Roe, picked up on that by creating a line of children’s books, dolls and prints that support curl confidence. Great gift for the littles in your life.


Harper Iman Dolls

Instead of your typical Barbie or American Girl dolls, support a doll maker that caters their designs to little brown girls of all complexions. Harper Iman dolls are custom made and you can request the hair, skin complexion and clothing of your choice for your favorite little one.



Self-care is so important to your wellbeing and health. When it’s time to wind down at the end of a long week, I spring for heritage1933 items like the Ms Know It All whipped butter or their Exhale bath salts. 


Jam + Rico*

If you’re looking for a small slice of island happiness in the form of custom jewelry, Jam + Rico is the brand for you. Bright, colorful pieces crafted with love.


LAMIK Beauty

LAMIK, an acronym for Love And Makeup In Kindness, is a Houston-based beauty brand with makeup for women of all shades. With an emphasis on catering to women of color, LAMIK has lippies, shadows and more with excellent color payoff crafted by founder Kim Roxie.


The Lip Bar

You guys hear me rave about this brand all the time because I genuinely LOVE their lipstick. Bawse Lady – their matte red – is arguably one of the best red matte liquid lippies in my beauty arsenal. I’m a lifelong fan.


LIT Brooklyn*

A home-based candle company with candles handpoured in Brooklyn, LIT Brooklyn exploded onto the scene less than 2 years ago and is slowly becoming a true household name. From the luxe gold packaging to the intoxicating scents, LIT should be on everyone’s holiday list.



I first fell in love with this brand years ago when their founder Michelle sent me one of her signature sweatshirts. They have since expanded to offer a plethora of products with her signature “Africa” silhouette design and ankara fabrics – from pillows to swimsuits and home decor. 


Lust Cosmetics*

A vegan nail polish brand with bright vibrant colors and safe ingredients, their holiday collection makes a great gift with must-have colors for the beauty-obsessed on your list.


The Mane Choice

With a brand like The Mane Choice, you really can’t go wrong. They are popping out new innovations everyday, they are backed by a team of the dopest brown girls on the planet and they create products that solve problems. I swear by their Soft As Can Be 3-in-1 conditioner. Also now exclusive to Target – their Halo Hydration collection. Get you some – available at all major retailers and online.


Rue 107

There are very few indie clothing lines that I get excited about anytime they come out with something new. Rue 107 is one of the select brands on my list of favorites that continues to innovate and provide dope designs for women of all shapes and sizes. Their items run in both straight and plus sizes, they cater to curves, and everything they make is super cute and super functional. This black dress above is a go-to staple that I own and love.


Pardon My Fro

Offering everything from stationary to shower curtains and now luggage – Pardon My Fro is an amazing design house that makes products featuring powerful women of color. Everyone should have a piece of PMF in their home.


Scotch Porter

Shopping for bae can be difficult. Make life a little easier and get him grooming product he’ll love. This brand of products for beard and for overall mens’ grooming smells yummy and will make him feel special.



Ever since I tried these products out back in 2015, they have been on my go-to list of beauty staples. From their facial masks to the body oils and cleansing toners, SDOTBEAUTY has a little bit of everything for the best in all-natural skincare.



If you’re looking for true STUNNA shades, like the type that make people stop you on the street and ask you where you got them, look no further than TNEMNRODA. The brand is literally “adornment” spelled backwards and that’s what their shades are – adornment for your face.


Undra Celeste

I first discovered Undra Celeste last year at the Harlem’s Fashion Row pop-up shop. Crafted by a young designer with vision and creativity, I love how understated yet luxe her pieces are. If you’re looking for a little touch of holiday luxe this season, definitely check out her designs.


84 Gem*

A collection of beautifully handcrafted statement necklaces, earrings and more. I love the materials she uses and how everything comes together so flawlessly. This is queen jewelry.  


*These brands will be available to support at Shop LoveBrownSugar Holiday Pop-Up in NYC sponsored by Iman Cosmetics and CURLS on December 9th. Get your tickets at the link below:

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Check out my other “#BuyBlack on Black Friday” lists from year’s past to support other businesses not listed here:

2014 Buy Black List “25 Black Owned Online Stores”
2015 Buy Black List “#BlackOnBlackFriday Top 50”
2016 Buy Black List “12 Black Owned Brands To Support’

BrownGirlsLove Power Day 2018 Presented By Toyota

Guys! Today we are officially two months away from BrownGirlsLove POWER Day! For those of you who have been following me for a while now, you know that Power Day is an event I decided to produce starting back in 2016 based on my desire to empower, educate and inspire women like you at the beginning of the year.

Not only is it an opportunity for me to meet, greet and love on all of you in person but it’s also a chance for me to introduce you all to women who inspire me personally and who will motivate you to get out of your chair and DO something. I’m so proud to announce that our 2018 Power Day event is being presented by Toyota USA!

The first weeks of every year are truly critical. They set the tone for your entire year, and that’s the critical time when you set intentions and make an action plan for all you want to accomplish. It’s for this exact reason that I made sure Power Day takes place during the first weekend of the year. It’s an opportunity to explore all your hopes and dreams and hear from women just like you who have made their own dreams come true.

Toyota, who was our Presenting Sponsor for 2017, is back with bigger and better plans to blow your mind at Power Day. I won’t reveal any of their surprises, but know that if you’re in attendance with us this January – you’re in for a special treat. You may recall their #LetsGoPlaces 360 photobooth last year, which was SO much fun. They are such an amazing brand for committing to the empowerment and inspiration of young black women. I’m so proud to have them as a partner for this event.

So here’s what you can expect in 2018:

  • Really Dope Panelists – You know I’m always looking for the brightest and baddest brown girls to bring you expertise, empowerment and inspiration at Power Day. The panelists this year are a combination of women from our very own BGL community as well as heavy-hitters in the digital space who have claimed a real stake in their industries of choice.
  • Amazing Sponsors & Vendors – I can’t reveal all the secrets but expect to have a TON of fun during our breaks and during lunch hour at Power Day because the sponsors and vendors are going to give you so much to do. From photobooths to live demo’s and can’t-resist products, you won’t want to miss it.

  • Swag Bags on 100! Our sponsors are not playing this year. Everyone will get a FREE BrownGirlsLove tote bag filled with swag from our sponsors. Trust, you won’t have to buy any beauty products for at least a few months.

  • The Best Networking, Ever. Issa Rae did an interview earlier this year where she talked about the importance of networking “across” and not up. Basically, the people you should be trying to get to know are the people on the same level as you who are just working hard, trying to make it. Why? Because they make the best partners to GROW with. I loved that advice and it’s so true. Those are exactly the types of connections you’ll make at Power Day 2018.

Want more? Check out this recap video of Power Day 2017 with highlights from the day’s festivities:

I want YOU to attend Power Day. There is so much you would enjoy and so much MORE you would learn just by being in the building. Click below and use the promotional code “LOVE” to buy your ticket with $50 OFF before they sell out!

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