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Archive of ‘Lifestyle’ category

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.

Sincerely,

Your Future Self

Photography: Maricarmen Arcos

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

Shop LoveBrownSugar Holiday Pop Up Returns

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. 

Check out this recap of Shop LoveBrownSugar 2015 Holiday Pop-Up

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:

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5 Travel Essentials for Overnight Trips & Staycations

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.

Women In Tech Demo Day NYC

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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.

Judges WIT Demo Day

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.

Asmau Ahmed Christina Brown WIT Demo Day

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.

WIT Demo Day Pitches

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.

Christina Brown WIT Demo Day

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.

How Dove’s #RealBeauty Productions Inspires Me

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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.

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So in March when Dove announced that it would be partnering with Shonda Rhimes for its #RealBeauty Productions initiative, 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.

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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.

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(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.

3 Tips For Booking Accommodations On a Budget

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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:

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

LBS Mompreneur Diaries (Working Mom Edition): Yvette Butler

Yvette-Butler

We’re back with another Mompreneur Diaries (Working Mom Edition) series sponsored by Capital One. Today’s working mom is Yvette Butler, the President of Capital One Investing. Before joining Capital One, Yvette served in leadership positions at Wells Fargo Advisors, E*TRADE and Merrill Lynch to name a few. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Finance & Management Information Systems from the University of Virginia and her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Among her many accolades, she’s a proud wife and mother who talked with us to shed light on how she navigates her life as a career woman and how she brings those learnings home to her own family and community.
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