First off, I want to preface this conversation by saying that this post is NOT paid or sponsored or endorsed by Dove. These are my personal thoughts and opinions, and although I am an ambassador for the brand, I was in no way obligated to post this opinion piece. I’m writing this because I pride myself on being open and honest with all of you about everything from my current lipstick to my bouts of depression. My ride-or-dies know this already, but in case there’s anyone new on here – this is my 100% real and authentic point of view. Whether you agree with it or not, I respect you. I hope you return the sentiment.
Life comes at you fast. As someone who invests so much time and energy into giving, whether it’s with my blog or as a mommy, it often becomes a necessity for me to give back to myself. The way I do that is designating special self-care time over the weekend to literally indulge and pamper myself. If you’re feeling burnt out, or not quite like yourself, it may be time for a little self-care. Here are 3 quick and easy tips for developing your own self-care routine:
1. Pick An Indulgence You Love
Everyone has a “thing” that they simply can’t live without. It helps them unwind, brings them unbridled peace and restores their energy. You might be into massages or indulgent days at the hair salon. Whatever your “thing” is – do it unapologetically. This is probably going to sound so simple, but my favorite indulgence is a warm, steamy shower. And not those “get-in-and-out in 5 minutes before your kid kicks down the door” type weekday showers.
I’m talking about a long, luxurious weekend showers with my favorite products like Dove Body Wash. If my skin needs an extra polish, I’ll opt for the Gentle Exfoliating formula. In the winter, I typically use the Deep Moisture version as my skin gets extremely dry during the cold winter months. 3 in 4 dermatologists say that women often damage their skin in the shower, thinking they are caring for it, so I’m hyper focused on only using cleansers that moisturize and don’t strip my skin. You really can’t go wrong with Dove Body Wash, it’s made with 100% gentle cleansers, it’s sulfate-free and is the #1 dermatologist recommended body wash. Whatever your indulgence, be sure to do it with products that make you look good and feel good.
2. Pick A Weekly Time & Stick To It
This is the KEY to developing a routine. Because is it really a routine if you don’t stick to it? The best way to keep yourself on track and focusing on self-care is to schedule it into your calendar just like you schedule your business appointments. Make a date with yourself that you simply can’t cancel. Self-care is important – you’ve gotta make time for it!
3. Cut Off All Distractions
When it’s time for my self-care routine, I make sure everything is taken care of. Cadence is hanging with Daddy or Grandma or someone who can keep her company while I take my mommy time. I turn off my phone and all notifications that make noise. I turn on my favorite soft music and just get lost in the warm water and soft lather. I’ll usually do a face mask simultaneously, and if I’m feeling REALLY adventurous I’ll deep condition my hair as well.
I don’t know about you but my self-care routine has truly saved me during those weeks when I just don’t think I can handle life’s craziness anymore. Taking a minute to focus on yourself, be with your thoughts and indulge in an activity you love – guilt free – is something each one of us deserves.
What’s your self-care routine? Share below.
This post is created in partnership with Dove. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.
I can’t even express how EXCITED I am to make this announcement. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen the incredible news. Thanks to a generous grant from the folks over at This Open Space, the Shop LoveBrownSugar Holiday Pop-Up shop is returning this December 2017!
It has been my sincere pleasure to host this holiday pop up shop every year since 2014. I am so incredibly passionate about supporting minority-owned business and brands, and there’s no better way to do so than to support with our dollars.
There are so many minority-owned businesses popping up left and right and the internet has made it so much easier to launch successful brands overnight. But the lifespan of a minority-owned business isn’t as long because there are specific hurdles (like funding!) that get in the way of growth. Though passion is truly the foundation of a successful brand, money is an absolute requirement to keep it going.
I have encountered so many amazing small businesses over the past 8 years since starting LoveBrownSugar. When I discover something beautiful, I have to share it with you all. That’s why I started my #BlackOnBlackFriday holiday shopping lists and it’s why I created Shop LoveBrownSugar. But last year, due to overwhelming costs and lack of funds, I opted out of producing the pop-up shop and instead launched ShopLoveBrownSugar.com. While you all loved the online shop, it wasn’t quite the same as the live NYC shopping experience. There’s nothing like seeing, touching, feeling and experiencing the brands in person.
So when This Open Space launched their $30K Space Fund business competition announcing that they would grant one First Place winner with $6K in space funding (i.e free venue!) I immediately applied with the hope that their Creative Council would see my vision and award me with the opportunity. Well, prayers were answered. I WON FIRST PLACE!! I won $6K to put towards a space to host Shop LoveBrownsSugar in NYC. I’m so incredibly grateful. Words can’t express how honored I am. And thanks to this generous grant, I can offer General Admission tickets for FREE!
Wanna join us in NYC for Shop LoveBrownSugar? Get your FREE tickets here:
With Labor Day just around the corner, I’m sure many of us are planning our final summer excursions, staycations and overnight trips. When it comes to convenience while overnight traveling, I usually opt for very compact luggage and small overnight bags to save space and time. That typically means I can only bring the essentials with me, so I get super selective about which items I pack. I always opt for items that serve double duty – whether clothing or beauty. Below are my top 5 travel essentials for overnight trips. These will save you time and space when packing:
1. Overnight Backpack
There are a plethora of options for carrying your overnight must-haves. I’ve traveled with everything from duffel bags to rolling mini suitcases. My favorite of overnight travel options is a great sized and stylish backpack. If I’m traveling by air, it keeps me hands free to carry other items or to hold my little one’s hand. It’s usually spacious enough to fit all of my essentials and it has tons of side pockets for little things like chargers, wallets and hand sanitizer that I need to grab quickly on-the-go without digging deep to find them. The one pictured here is from Mina Kay Bags.
2. Dove Beauty Bar
This one is a no-brainer for me. I have to confess – I don’t trust hotel soaps & cleansers. I don’t always know the brands carried by the hotel, or have a full breakdown of the ingredients in those products, or how my skin will react to them. When it comes to cleansers, I have to go with a brand I trust so there are no surprises. Who wants to worry about allergic reactions or dry skin on vacay? So I always bring a Dove Beauty Bar along with me on my travels.
Because I can use it on both face and body, it’s an easy choice for overnight trips as it cuts down on the number of toiletries I have to fit in my bag. When I simply don’t have the space to pack a face AND body cleanser, the Dove Beauty Bar works double duty perfectly in one small bar. Formulated with ¼ moisturizing cream, it provides superior care that other premium cleansing soap bars do not. I often find hotel soaps strip my skin and leave them feeling dry and tight. I don’t have to worry about that with my Dove Beauty Bar. I found that out during my 7 Day Challenge where I used the beauty bar as my facial cleanser for a week. This one always goes into my overnight travel bag.
3. Red Lipstick
I come from the school of “Red Lipstick Fixes Everything”. When I can only bring a pared down makeup collection on my travels, red lipstick is the first thing I pack. Even if I only have tinted moisturizer and mascara, I can throw on a red lip and be ready for anything. It’s my number one makeup must-have for travel. My favorites include The Lip Bar “Bawse Lady”, MAC Lipstick in “Ruby Woo” and Lip A.R.T “SLAYbelles”.
4. Jeweled Flats
If I can only bring one pair of shoes with me on an overnight summer trip, I always aim for metallic or jewels flats. They add an extra “wow” factor to any outfit and you can easily take them from day to night, beach to bar-hopping, and everywhere in between. They can work with denim, linen or fancy dresses My favorite places to get jeweled, inexpensive flats are ASOS, Zara and Nasty Gal. It’s always best to buy inexpensive ones in case they get lost or you accidentally leave them. I leave my super expensive shoes at home when I’m traveling.
5. Day to Night Dress
Typically when I’m picking outfits for an overnight trip, I stick to pieces that can serve multiple purposes. The perfect little black romper or a printed kimono I can wear as a beach coverup and as a statement piece at dinner. My top pick among outfit choices for an overnight trip is a great day-to-night dress. I typically choose something solid colored, with breathable wrinkle-free fabric and a really beautiful silhouette that can be taken from day to night. A-line and maxi dresses are typically good for this. You want something simple enough to be worn with flats for day and dressed up with heels easily at night. Two outfits in one.
What do you all pack for your overnight trips and staycations? Leave a comment & share your must-haves.
I partnered with Dove to present this post. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.
If you’re following me on social media, I’m sure you already have seen my special news. Over the weekend I announced that I’m expecting baby number two! Coming this Winter 2017, there will be a new little face making their debut here and on BabyBrownSugar. Not only will this little gift be influencing my maternity style all summer, but this baby is going to change things dramatically in every aspect of my life.
To be honest, this has been such a rough journey for me since finding out. BabyBrownSugar 2 is an unplanned but delightful surprise and it comes with such a mix of bittersweet emotions. For those of you who remember when I documented my journey as a first time Mom with Cadence, you all know I spent half of my pregnancy with her on bedrest.
My bedrest orders were not anticipated at all, so I went from being up and on-the-go everyday to being bedridden for almost 5 months. It felt like torture. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m always out and about. I love my independence and it takes ALOT to get me to sit down somewhere and relax. So that was my first time really having to sacrifice my time and my mobility for a greater cause.
I got through it, and honestly having to sit still those months got me super focused on becoming a better mompreneur and monetizing my influence. It was a true blessing in disguise.
So this time around, I’m shifting my focus away from how overwhelming this sudden and life-changing gift is, and instead I’m focusing on what God is trying to help me understand in this process. Transitions are meant to really grow us, challenge us and morph us into better versions of ourselves. So that’s exactly what I’m learning to embrace this time around.
I’m finishing out this trimester incredibly excited to meet my little munchkin, and to see how Cadence interacts with her little sibling. She’s been my one and only little princess for 3 years now so I’ll be documenting over at BabyBrownSugar how the transition goes.
For all of you who have wished me well on social media – THANK YOU! I appreciate the love, the words of encouragement and the prayers. I’m grateful everyday to have an extended “family” on social media who wishes me well.
So, what about you guys? Ever go through an unexpected/tough transition? How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it? Share your own experience below!
Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the Women in Tech Demo Day NYC hosted by Capital One in partnership with Women Who Code and AngelHack. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Capital One over the last year to spotlight some of their amazing associates and their corporation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, so I was honored to attend their Demo Day. In a nutshell, Women in Tech Demo Day is an opportunity for smart and talented women to come together and pitch their tech-savvy ideas (whether it’s for an app or a web-based destination) to solve specific challenges that women in tech and business face.
This year’s theme was about solving the problem of unconscious bias and gender discrimination, whether it be in the workplace or elsewhere. As someone who primarily operates in the style and beauty industry, it was a refreshing change to be surrounded by so many brilliant tech-focused women. The teams could create projects in advance and use the time during WIT Demo Day to continue working on their ideas and were expected to present their projects to professional judges on pitch day. It was really incredible hearing the different presentations. I literally wanted to download every app – very cool.
One of the most touching parts of the Women in Tech Demo Day was hearing tech start-up founder and current Capital One employee Asmau Ahmed share her experience as a woman of color trying to secure funding for her startup venture Plum Perfect. Her experiences, as she explained, were not unique as many women (and women of color in particular) face these hardships. People just simply don’t believe you’re capable and inherent bias prevents them from taking a risk on you, regardless of how talented and innovative you are. Part of hearing these truths was disheartening. I mean knowing that she literally took her photo off of her LinkedIn profile to get more meetings with investors is a sad but true reality. But on the other hand, it was incredibly empowering to hear that she fought through adversity and eventually secured Series A funding for her idea.
Here’s one of the best takeaways from Asmau’s speech – a list of ways YOU and I can make a difference when it comes to women getting investment funding for their brilliant ideas:
1. Become an investor.
Now this may sound nearly impossible or like a far cry from anything you can do to help women get more funding for their businesses but it’s absolutely not far-fetched. Every time you make a purchase or support a Kickstarter from a women-led businesses, you are inherently making an investment in that business. You’re helping to keep the lights on, or providing raw materials or helping that business develop a new team. Your financial support is so important. If you can do BIG, by all means please do! Find a small company you believe in and pledge your support. But all investments – big or small – help.
2. Advocate for having more women and diversity on boards.
Most of the decisions that are made to invest, from venture capitalist firms, are coming directly from their boards. It’s typically a group of investors and more likely than not, that board is comprised of wealthy white men. Diversity is severely lacking in this arena. Do what you can to be an advocate for more women and people of color being included in the decision-making. The more of us there are making these decisions, the less bias and discrimination.
3. Get the men in your lives to become allies.
This is often underestimated as well. Having strong support from men is really important. At the end of the day, the industry over-indexes in male support and dominance. Once we can change and defy perceptions about what you have to “look like” in order for you to be considered capable, more opportunities will open up.
4. Amplify your voices by helping each other.
This is a BIG ONE. I’m always preaching about the importance of collaboration over competition. Partnership and collaboration is so incredibly important, especially among women. We’re so much stronger as a unit. Asmau made such a great point by stressing that we have to stick together.
5. Never settle. Don’t give up!
This was a great point to end on. At the end of the day, the strides that are being made in various industries, including the tech industry, are being made because there were women (our predecessors) who refused to give up.
Think about how much further my daughter’s generation will be if we push hard enough to open doors for women and girls everywhere NOW. I’m hopeful that with events like Women in Tech Demo Day, more women will get the exposure they need to make substantial changes in this industry. Thanks to Capital One for having me and for pledging their support to such an incredible movement.
Interested in attending WIT Demo Day? They’re headed to D.C next! Click here to register for tickets to attend or to pitch your ideas. Get in FREE with my code: “WITDDwithChristina”
I was invited to attend Women in Tech Demo Day on behalf of Capital One and was compensated for my time. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company. For more information on Capital One Careers, click here.
As a Dove ambassador, I’ve been getting the opportunity to try out lots of their products, many of which I already use and love, but some completely new. When Dove announced the launch of their Baby Dove line, I knew I had to try it out on my 3 year old Cadence.
First of all, I had already been using their Sensitive Skin bar as part of Cady’s bath regimen. I took a trip to their headquarters last year and heard from a dermatologist that the Sensitive Skin bar was safe and approved to use for kids. Cadence’s skin is very delicate and she even has some spots of eczema, so I’m always very careful about the types of products I use on her. So when the Dove team sent me the entire line – including the Baby Dove Rich Moisture line and the Sensitive Moisture line – my first inclination was to try her out with the Sensitive line.
The Baby Dove Sensitive Tip to Toe Wash is the first product we tried. What I liked about the wash is that it was creamy and moisturizing. Cadence’s skin tends to get dry especially in the colder months, so I love moisturizing cleansers for her skin. Her skin was soft and not at all irritated after using it. I also like the fact that it’s hypoallergenic, fragrance free and tear free. This one is also rated and approved by the National Eczema Association, which I check often to determine which products to stay away from with her.
Since Cadence is still in the stage where she needs help in the bathroom after going potty, I tested out the Baby Dove Wipes for her first on the potty. They’re not flushable, but they certainly do help with potty messes. I also stashed them in the car for snack spills and sticky fingers.
I decided to try the Rich Moisture line myself. Little known fact: I love Baby products…for myself. No, I’m not ashamed. I love how the entire line smells. It smells like freshly-powdered brand new baby with chubby edible cheeks! So yummy.
Just like the Sensitive wash was creamy and moisturizing for Cady, the Rich Moisture line was pretty creamy as well. It washed off clean, which is important for the little ones. I tend to like washes that leave a little moisture behind but overall it was a nice consistency.
I also love the wipes. I keep a pack around the house for quick messes and another in Cady’s school bag for when we’re traveling back and forth. Overall these products are a great value. I’m so happy Dove has taken the charge with developing a line just for the little ones, especially with their campaign around #RealMoms and relieving some of the pressure we moms face to be superwomen everyday. Check out their #RealMoms campaign here:
This post is sponsored by Dove, a Unilever company. All opinions expressed here are my own and not those of the company.
I’ve always struggled with my self confidence. One of the reasons I have loved maintaining LoveBrownSugar over the years is because it gave me a platform to connect with you guys, my audience, to share my personal style evolution. From posting outfit posts that reflected my complicated relationship with my curves, to writing about embracing my brown skin and my natural hair as beautiful. Much of my journey to overcome confidence issues has started with addressing them here, and hearing from all of you that I’m not alone. That’s one of the many reasons I’m so passionate about storytelling in the media. It is so healing and inspiring to see other people who are pushing past their fears and thriving.
So in March when Dove announced that it would be partnering with Shonda Rhimes for its #RealBeauty Productionsinitiative, I thought it was absolutely game-changing. Their specially commissioned production team would accept stories from real women across the country and find riveting ways to tell these stories through film. There’s something so special about seeing a reflection of yourself in the media, so I knew this would be empowering for women. A few friends and I got together for a Twitter party on Thursday, March 30th during Shonda’s big TV night to tweet all about the partnership and it was awesome.
Now, about a month later, the Real Beauty Productions team has produced their first film – telling the story of Cathleen Meredith, founder of Fat Girls Dance. Check it out here:
So Cathleen’s story resonated with me for a few reasons. One, because of her curves. As someone who has always been curvy and on the heavier side, I totally identified with her stark realization that society simply does not appreciate, embrace or encourage plus size women. I still remember my first time being teased in elementary school for being big. It was a startling realization and it can have a lasting impact on you into adulthood.
The second reason I identified with Cathleen is because she loves to dance and so do I. I’ve always had a sincere passion for dance. I was in my school cheerleading teams from Junior High into High School and then joined a dance troupe in college (which happened to be one of the highlights of my time in college). Dance has always been so close to my heart, but I do recall times I felt out of place doing it because of my size. Like when I first found out that my dance troupe, who specializes in West African and Afro-Cuban dance, dances mainly in a bra & cloth around the waist. I was terrified of dancing in front of the audience with so much skin showing.
(Above: Pictured with a friend & fellow dancer in college before a performance)
But eventually I had to overcome that fear if I wanted to perform. It was tough for me, and I always wonder if I would’ve felt as uncomfortable if my size didn’t play a role.
I applaud Dove for taking the charge to help boost self-esteem for women everywhere by sharing our stories. I can’t wait to see which stories they product next. Think you have a story worth telling? Enter to have your story produced over at DoveRealBeauty.com.
What are your thoughts on this first production? Did it inspire or empower you?
This post is sponsored by Dove. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.
This time of year is always special for me. Since becoming a Mom three years ago, I’ve been incredibly blessed. But motherhood definitely comes with its challenges. Suddenly you have a little person (or people) wholly dependent on you, and that can be SO overwhelming. But it’s honestly a job I wouldn’t trade for anything. And it’s something that has made me even more appreciative of my own mom’s love and sacrifice.
One of the perks of being a Mom is receiving all the hugs, kisses, acknowledgment and even special gifts on Mother’s Day. I typically spend so much time and energy making sure the moms in my life are taken care of, I hardly ever indulge in anything for myself. So when Hallmark Jewelry reached out to me and told me they wanted to send over a special gift from their Hallmark Diamonds Heart of Hallmark Collection for JCPenney, I was ecstatic. Nothing like a little sparkly self-indulgence.
Opening the package up is sometimes the best part. Little boxes always have something sparkly and special waiting for you. I loved the Hallmark packaging. They included a cute little quote card in there with my necklace that reads “Life’s the best story of all…”.
I chose this piece because I thought it was so simple, elegant and beautiful. I don’t wear fine jewelry often, but when I do it’s typically on special occasions and I like my pieces to be minimal but still statement-making like this.
One of the things I find so tough about buying gifts for “the mom who has everything” is finding something that has special meaning. What’s nice about Hallmark Jewelry’s collection (available at JCPenney) is that there’s a little something special for every Mom. If your Mom is faith-based, there are beautiful crosses and angels to choose from. If she loves rose gold, there are mixed element pieces that suit her style. Even if you just want something to reminder her she’s “Mom” they have something for her. The pieces are really beautifully made.
If you’re anything like me when I travel, both convenience and cost is really important to you. As a full-time blogger and creative entrepreneur, I have to go the extra mile when it comes to deciding on where I stay when I’m away. There are some key elements that make life easier and more cost-effective for me when I’m booking accommodations. I try to make sure I have great amenities but that I’m not breaking the bank, especially if it’s a business trip where expenses can add up quickly. Here are three tips for booking accommodations on a budget:
1. Book With Free WiFi
If you’re a creative like myself, or you simply have to be connected at all times, you want to opt for properties that provide you with complimentary WiFi service. You may think that small $9.99/night fee isn’t a big deal, but if you’re staying anywhere upwards of 3 days, those costs add up. One of the first things I look for when booking accommodations on a budget, is a property that will offer internet service for free. I like to update you guys every step of my trip, so being connected is a must-have for me. Pictured above I stayed at the Hyatt Place on a recent trip to Austin. Every Hyatt Place property offers free WiFi service for guests. Look for properties who offer this as a convenience with no hassle or crazy loopholes.
2. Ask About Complimentary Breakfast
When you’re traveling, food can truly factor in as a hefty daily expense. Depending on the city you’re traveling to or what it’s known for, you may opt to eat out for most of your meals. I’m the type to look for local popular eateries for lunch and dinner but skimp on my breakfast. Every penny counts! When you’re searching for the best options on a budget, factor in properties that offer complimentary breakfast to start your day. Many properties provide free continental breakfast (like pastries, coffee, juice).
If you’re lucky, you’ll find a property that offers free HOT breakfast which is rare but offered. I was provided with a full hot breakfast bar (I’m talking French Toast, eggs, sausage, the whole nine) at the Hyatt Place when I traveled to Austin. Not only did it help me start my day off with energy, but that was one less expense I had to factor in every day.
3. Sign Up For Loyalty Programs
People underestimate how powerful loyalty and rewards programs can be when you opt into them. These can extend MAJOR discounts and sometimes free accommodations if you stay at some of the same properties often enough. Most loyalty programs are completely free to opt into, and many of them START you off with % discounts and perks. Do yourself a favor and sign up for loyalty programs for any of the properties you’re booking with. If you love one particular chain, stay with them for an entire year straight. Those savings will eventually rack up.
I hope this was helpful for you guys as spring travel season has officially begun! Any tips you can offer as a seasoned traveler? Leave a comment below!
Pictures were captured at the Hyatt Place property in Austin North Central. Special thanks to Hyatt for covering my travel and accommodations for this trip as part of their #WhySettle campaign. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.