Monday, December 25, 2017

Don't Just Call Me Stubborn

When I read the word "stubborn" I quickly contemplated whether I should be on defense mode and come quick with a rebuttal. In an effort to remain calm I decided to breathe and actually read her full message rather than focus on this one word that jumped out of the screen. But she called me stubborn

The word "stubborn" was a trigger word. It carries a negative connotation making us immediately think of someone who is hard headed and not necessarily tough minded. Here's a quick dictionary definition:



having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.

But her calling me stubborn was a good thing. My dear friend and long-time client said these words to me that lifted my spirits and shifted my perspective:
"I was thinking about you and how you are so stubborn about your faith and pursuing what God has for you...and I gingered myself up. Thank you."

My heart melted. See 2017 put me in such a position that forced me to become more tough minded than I have ever been -- about my faith and about what I just know God has spoken over me. When life throws curveballs at you from every angle, when God gracefully but firmly places you into a fiery furnace, we have two choices:

  1. Give up quickly and let go of everything you've ever believed. Get. Out. Now.
  2. Be stubborn; let the fire help you to develop tougher skin and an even tougher mind. 
Time and time again option number 1 has looked like the easier and more seamless choice. Of course giving up is easy (especially if the situation is definitely looking like you miiight not win). You no longer have to fight. You no longer have to show up every day, no matter how bleak things look. You no longer have to believe that what you are waiting for will come to pass. That's easy! And who doesn't want a simple and carefree option? You'd be free to live you life no longer waiting.

But let's talk about option 2. Being stubborn. When God allows you to be in these seasons that require your attention, strength, and resiliency, He matches your circumstance by equipping you with the mental and spiritual fortitude to withstand. He allows you to become stubborn; never forgetting His promises, always clinging to that strand of faith that screams out "God is faithful! And He will do it in His time!"

But being stubborn in spite of your seemingly hopeless circumstance requires more than just a tough mind. It requires grit. Stubbornness commands an attitude of courage: that is, stepping out in action in order to match your perspective of faith. 

After I re-read my friend's message I settled on her description of me. I was happy with it! But I soon snapped back to reality. I don't want to be known as just stubborn. I want to described as someone who has grit (that is courage, boldness, resolve, and strength of character).

Can we agree on something, dear reader? Let's drop options 1 and 2 real quick! When we're placed in situations that require our attention and challenge our faith, let's respond with more than just a stubborn attitude. Let's approach every circumstance stubborn and courageous.

Next time I want them to say "she is stubborn and has grit". They won't just call me stubborn.


Tuck Seam Blouse: Topshop (shop here)
Cropped Wide Legged Trousers: Topshop (shop style here)
Rose Gold Strapped Heels: Primark
Joy Brushed Silver Mesh Watch: Kapten & Sons (shop here)

I wore this ensemble to a Nubian Skin brunch event I attended. I had the pleasure of working closely with the founder/CEO, Ade Hassan and assisting my dearest mentor Connie Jackson on the day. Be sure and check out the brand, Nubian Skin ladies!



Monday, December 11, 2017

Branding for Beauty: How to Wear All Black Like a Boss & 3 Ways to Build Your Community

Lately I've been really into monochromatic looks, trousers, and all black. I went on a shopping haul a few weeks ago (okay when I say "haul" I mean I bought 2 items because my bank asked me to calm down). When I picked up these wide-legged trousers from H&M I couldn't wait to pair them with this Forever 21 black turtle neck. As a petite girl, all black makes me appear more slender, and the wide-legged trousers gives me the appearance of "legs for days!" To complete, the monochromatic look, I carried a berry red handbag for the final pop of color.

How to wear all black? Confidently and with a pop of color.

In light of adding some sass to your wardrobe, let's chat about adding value to your community, shall we!

I recently had dinner with a friend of mine (in my all black ensemble but of course). He recently moved to another state for work and we got on the subject of making new friends, and rebuilding community in his new home. In conversation, he gently asked if I were part of a community. See, I pride myself in "doing bad all by myself." In my ability to balance counseling, entrepreneurship, and a "social life" (aka lack thereof). So coyly, I shook my head "no" to answer my friend's question.

Then more stern this time, my friend emphasized the value of being a part of one. This question really made me think -- about the importance of community, my community, and the greater question: how to build a community.

In the Bible, we read several scriptures highlighting the importance of community. In Genesis 2:18, God points out that "it is not good for man to be alone;" Hebrews 10 discusses the importance of encouraging one another; and 1 John 1 advocates for having fellowship with one another.

As Christians we are called to support, love, and grow...together. We're called to blend our lives, not balance busy. We can't do it alone.

Now when building your brand (or even developing yourself as an individual) the essence of community is not to be overlooked. Community is encouraging, life giving, and helps to strengthen.
I've shared 3 tips below on ways to build your community (which can be applied to your brand or your personal life).

Always (actively) engage: 

  • As a brand, you likely use social media to reach your target audience. In order to build community in this space, be sure you are actively engaging with your audience/followers. Be present; express your thoughts by not only liking photos, but also writing comments. It goes a long way to also reply to comments posted under your product photos. The goal is for followers to see that you are present and that they are visible.
  • As an individual: it's likely that there are people around you who reach out to you! Avoid isolating yourself and try saying "yes" to a dinner party invitation, or one on one coffee dates. While you're there, be present. Do you best to carry conversations, and show that you care by listening and responding.

Collaboration is key: 

  • As a brand: A great way to ignite more conversation is through collaboration. Find a blogger/brand ambassador/influencer that mirrors your values and pair up! Curate a giveaway or a blog post. Team up to charter a social media campaign. Collaboration lets your audience know that you are plugged in and care about the greater mission that's backing your brand's story. Also, its a fun and easy way to build buzz around your brand!
  • As an individual: The festive season is upon us! This is the time of year for not only celebrating, but also giving. Team up with friends and family to give back to the community. (Hint: gathering your small group to feed/give to families in need?) Work together to celebrate the reason for the season by organizing a holiday party. It's true that two heads are better than one!

Be inclusive (and kind): 

  • As a brand: Strive to make people feel like they can be a part of something special. Take a look at your target audience personas and make sure each person is being reached in your messaging and imagery.
  • As an individual: Invite everyone! (Well, not everyone...keep it safe, y'all). When in conversation, make an effort to make sure you've included everyone you're out with. Spare the one-on-one conversation for duo coffee dates. If you're the shy type (like me), make an intentional effort to approach a (small) group of people and get involved!
What have you tried when building your community? Let's get engaged! Share with us in the comments below! :)



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

#BrandingforBeauty: 4 Essentials to Building Your Fashion + Beauty Brand

Hey dolls! So as some of you know, I'm a counselor by profession, and a brand + marketing consultant by practice (with a core focus on fashion and beauty brands). As my boutique consultancy has grown over the years, I've gained insight on branding (from a psychological lens) and thought I'd share a few tips for you ladies who are already in or considering taking a step into fashion and beauty industries. I'll be starting a Branding segment here on my blog (with it's extension over on my site) - so whenever you see #BrandingforBeauty, grab a notebook, tea and cake, (or pizza and wine) and let's get to work! I trust you'll gain a few tips that will take your brand to the next level.

I have quite a few tips to share, but the first of this segment will highlight the basic foundation for building your brand.

When I first started working on my first business/creative venture (@BeneathYourBeauty), I had no idea what the finish line would look like, so it was difficult for me to come up with ideas that would get me to this goal (aka brand vision). I had so many different ideas and wanted to (unrealistically) implement them all. Without a proper foundation it is almost impossible to build a successful brand.

Let’s talk about crafting your brand’s vision. First, know that in order for your brand to be successful, there must be a clear vision that informs your every move and every decision. Your brand’s vision should give a clear direction for your business/creative venture.

In this post I’m sharing 4 ways to lay the foundation for your brand.
  1. Know your why: It’s important to start developing your brand with the right reason in mind. What’s your aim? This is often referred to as your brand vision. Think (realistically) about the ultimate goal of your business/creative venture. It’s nice to say “my goal is to inspire people”. While I genuinely hope your venture does just this, dig deeper. How is it that you aim to inspire? Write down 1-3 things you want your consumer to leave with after they encounter your brand.
  2. Determine your core values: What are the core beliefs you hold that cannot be negotiated? Defining these values will help you tell your brand’s story. Values will influence how you operate, how you hire staff, and how you produce content, merchandise, or events. For example, maybe you believe that every woman is beautiful and unique; maybe you believe in Christ Jesus; perhaps you believe in the power of positive words? Take a moment to think about the beliefs and values you hold.
  3. Define your audience: I always encourage my consulting clients to write down their vision of their target audience. Think about exactly who you want your content/merchandise to reach. The more specific you are, the better.
  4. Articulate your brand promise: By far my favorite one! Now that you’ve defined your target audience, what are you promising her? Good vibes, laughter, perfect skin? Everything you do from here on out should point back to this promise.
Why is all of this so important? Because in order to begin branding your business, you need to have a clear brand framework that you can always reference. If you’re unable to work through each tip, it’s okay! Building your brand is a work in progress. Click here to access additional resources and keep an eye out for more posts in this segment! Before you leave, don't forget to subscribe to my blog (enter your email at the top right corner), and write your thoughts/questions below in the comment section! 


Ruffle Sleeve Mock Neck Top: Forever 21 (shop here)
Cropped Trousers: Zara (shop here)
Sock Satin Ankle Boots (in black): Topshop (shop here)
Joy Brushed Silver Mesh Watch: Kapten & Sons (shop here)

PHOTOGRAPhy BY Will Charles Media


Thursday, November 9, 2017

PUSH (Chasing your dreams with determination)

Lately I've been stuck in somewhere in between recognizing by dreams, and creating a strategy to (successfully) achieve them. The obvious fun fact here is that while there might not be one clear cut way to success, the clear path to failure is to sit on your dreams, and allow the weight of "what if I fail" to trap you in your "safe" place.

But what if you simply just began? What if you pushed past the fear and dove straight into the deep end going after after every single dream that has kept you up at night, that has fueled your fire, and that has given you life? I'm committing myself to pushing past fear, procrastination, "what ifs" and anything else in between that's designed to keep me from accomplishing every single vision God has so graciously placed on my heart.

I don't have a cute step-by-step guide to offer you on how to do this. But steps I can can proffer are these:

  1. Allow yourself a chance to re-dream. If you've lost sight of the vision somewhere, go back to those thoughts that set your heart on fire. If good things yielded excitement once before, surely they can be rekindled! Consistently do what you know to do.
  2. Pray for God to give you the blueprint. I taught my Sunday school students that Noah is a prime example of God laying out the strategy and provision after He provided the vision. 
  3. As you wait for the master plan, begin to build in faith. In your season of waiting for the blueprint, grab whatever resources are available to you, and go to work. (For example, I am currently in "school" again, aka, using the internet & pdf books to learn everything I need to know about building my this the blueprint?)
  4. Practice the art of patience. Your vision is a masterpiece that should be crafted diligently and carefully. Don't let the pressure of next prevent you from being present now as you wait for the vision to unfold on God's perfect timeline. I'm guilty of rushing through a season of preparation simply because of my desire for instant gratification
I had dinner with a new friend a few weeks ago (heyyy, Chinelo) who reminded me that God is so merciful He gives us time for our vision to manifest (queue Travis Greene "You Waited"). This concept of God giving us "time" is made evident in new days, new months, and new years (helloooo all the dreams that didn't happen in 2017! We're coming for you in 2018!).

Here's to stepping into the life our Maker has designed for us.

What I'm Wearing:

White fitted tee: River Island (shop here)
MOTO Black Joni Jeans: Topshop (shop here)
Dark Camel Suede Coat: Zara (shop here)

Photographs by EDO Photography


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Lessons from London

Hey loves! I just got back from my beloved second home after what was an epic 2nd Annual BYB London event (and 5th ever BYB event since our launch in 2014...queue loud applause). Since returning, I've been trying to get back into the rhythm of LA life: working full time, blogging, running a creative agency and growing/working with my amazing fashion, beauty and media clientele. London is always inspiring for me -- there I'm surrounded by a number of friends, and through BYB events, I get the opportunity to witness crafty women break the glass ceiling and accomplish their dreams. 

When I brainstormed for this blog post, I intended to leave you with a long list of lessons I learned from London. But, in reflecting on my time abroad, I think I'm really here to say this:

I'm proud of myself. So proud.

This past year has been a whirlwind of unexpected curveballs. But I handled it. I'm still handling it. I honestly did not think I'd make it this far -- with BYB (I mean, I never expected 4 events in London!), with life...with my career. But, I'm still here, standing tall and still trusting that God's plan is perfect, cannot fail and His word will never return void. 

I preach a lot about not giving up, being aggressive, and being bold, and I'm here again to say that I mean it. Seriously, don't give up. Keep holding on to that tiny ounce of faith that remains. Keep going back to your why. Keep reminding yourself that you are not your past and your identity is ONLY marked by what God says about you. Don't give up. You've got this. God's got you, and He is not gonna play you.
Honestly, God loves you too much to forsake you. 

I saw this quote on Instagram a few months ago:
"I want to see what happens if I don't give up."

My challenge for you is this: Don't give up. Let's see what happens and prove to ourselves that what's on the other side is well worth the fight.

I'm reminded of this verse:
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." 
- Romans 8:18

What I'm Wearing:

Black Satin Jumpsuit: H&M (Snagged for only $7!)
Grey Off the Shoulder Top: Newlook (I couldn't find the top online, but here is the skirt counterpart)
Mesh Wristwatch: Kapten & Sons (here)

Photographs by EDO Photography


Friday, August 18, 2017

As You Would a Friend (4 Ways to Really Practice Self-Love)

These past few weeks have been beautiful. You might not think working 15+ hour days is really beautiful (lol) but it was during these draining and extended work days/night that I really begun learning the value and meaning of self-love. I've learned that it's crucial for me to love and cherish myself the same way I would for close/favorite friend of mine.

Yesterday I decided to start loving myself. I had a reflective moment where I had to stop and ask myself how much I loved me. Like really and truly loved me. I proceeded with styling my hair  and dressing up for work me (honest hour: I don't usually wear my best outfits to work because I'm always in a hurry to get there). It occurred to me that I should treat myself as I would a friend who I absolutely adored (and I have a small handful of people like that in my life). If I love you, I'd give you the best of my best, I'd adorn you in fine clothes, I'd think the best of you and declare blessings over your life, and only prepare the very best for you. I have to admit that I've failed in this department lately. I've not been good at giving myself the very best.

Here are some ways I've begun to challenge myself to self-love:
  • Support myself: Like really be my own cheerleader and rejoice for every victory (especially on this journey of producing #BYBLondon) the same way I'd cheer for and support my close friends on their endeavors. I'm learning that you can't always wait for others to recognize your progress, or give you kudos, share your work on social media, or clap for you. Sometimes self-love is about giving yourself a standing ovation.
  • Speak life over myself: When I was passing through a season of self-doubt, my aunt sat me down and asked me what I'd tell a friend who was thinking and feeling as I did. The advice and words of encouragement I had for this friend were gold. So how much more myself? The words I think and say to myself should be just as pure and powerful, if not more.
  • Dress for myself: Loving yourself also entails being the best version of you and carrying yourself like the daughter of the Most High that you are. I've come to realize I feel my best, when I look my best. To this end, this week I've challenged myself to dress my very best wherever I go. (Honesty hour - I'm not always camera ready lol. Sometimes I have horrible outfit days (just because I didn't care enough to dress my best) and dread the thought of seeing someone I know in a grocery store..Is this true for anyone else? Lol).
  • Treat myself: How often do we buy small gifts of appreciation for people we love? I've learned it's just as important to gift myself with sweet things that bring me joy. I've been more intentional about buying myself flowers, cute bedroom decor (as of lately), eating right, treating myself to manis and pedis, and gifting myself with expensive (within reason) things every so often.
What are some ways you practice (real) self-love? Or how do you show your loved ones that you really and truly cherish them? If you can only answer the latter, maybe it's time you begin doing these things for you! xo

What I'm Wearing:

White Button Up Blouse - Zara

Cropped Denim - Topshop

Black Lace Up Oxfords - Nine West

Photography by: Sylvia Chuku


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Don't Give Up! Staying Confident and Keeping Balance (as a Girl Boss)

Hi darlings!

Are we still spreading the "Happy New Month!" greeting? Well even if the new month hype has passed, Happy new month!  I've been just a bit MIA from blogging and social media as I tried to navigate through this busy and very unbalanced season of my life. I've realized I have a lot on my plate lately; working a full time job as a high school counselor and therapist from 9am to 7pm, leading youth Sunday School at church, building my career in marketing via my new company Branding by Beauty, and developing my creative brain child known as Beneath Your Beautiful. Oh, and might I add committing to intentionally having fun by way of actually stepping out of my comfort zone (and home) to meet up with friends? In the midst of this, I have to admit, that sometimes I get discouraged when I come home from work exhausted and mentally zapped of creative energy. On these days, I'm forced to take a nap (lol..but actually, I gotta rest!) then come back to the drawing board and take a good hard look at my "why" as a reminder of why God put these big dreams on my heart. Does this happen to any one else?

Yes, my plate has become full. The sad and honest truth hit me the other day...I can't do it all at once. I realize that yes, by all means, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, but I've also come to understand that Christ also gives me the wisdom to select which things are priorities and which of those things can wait.

In conversation with close friends of mine who are also in this boat of trying to find balance as a girl boss/creative entrepreneur, I've come up with 5 ways to get it together and maintain balance during those seasons we absolutely must hold it together (especially when it feels like things are on the cusp of falling into pieces).

  1. Go back to your why: As I mentioned above, sometimes you have to go straight back to the drawing board. Remembering why you started should give you that push to remain persistent and persevere during those especially frustrating moments. There have been several times where the only thing I wanted to do was throw in the towel and cancel an event, drop a client, or just call in sick from work. But my vision board flashing through my mind with an unrelenting force snapped me back into reality. Don't give up, dear boss girl! We must keep going.
  2. Get inspired: Being stuck in a rut is completely okay and normal. We've all been in situations where we are just not motivated or don't feel creative. During this time I've sat down to read interview on women and men who inspire me the most. I have a list of about 7 women on my white board who are go-getters and in my age bracket. In my head these are my besties (lol) who are cheering me on and who encourage me through their craft. Don't give up, dear boss girl! You are amazing at your craft!
  3. Be still and say no: I talked about this in my last blog post. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to say no. It's not every invitation you accept, or every business/networking meeting you attend. Sometimes you might have to take a sick day because you really and truly can't do it all (at once) and have to prioritize your needs and the needs of your business. (Now I'm not encouraging you to take a sick day every time you want to relax...Really pick and choose your battles here). Don't give up, dear boss girl! Take a breather and go again.
  4. Ask for help: When I spoke to one of my best friends who is a full time (new) mom, an entrepreneur, and a part time graduate student, she mentioned this as the most important coping method for her. It's not every time you carry the burden, sometimes ask for help. I have to admit this is something that took me time to learn! After 3 years of starting by business, Beneath Your Beautiful, it's now that I have not only hired a team of fully capable staff, I've just begun to slowly take the reigns off and ask for help AND allow my girls to do their tasks. *Cowers away in shame* Don't give up, dear boss girl! We are equal to the task.
  5. Find balance: It's totally fine to take a day or two off from being a girl boss/creative entrepreneur. To be honest, you'd probably be more creative if you had a proper work/life balance. (Okay I'm totally not yet practicing what I preach...I work on Saturday's...*Cowers away again*). Well, I guess I can say I'm speaking from experience? Gather your group of friends and/or family and cherish moments of laughter. You'd be surprised by how they might even inspire you and how they will light your fuel of creativity and motivation! Don't give up, dear boss girl! All things are working together for your good.

What I'm Wearing:

Slip Dress: Topshop
Black Leather Jacket: H&M
Lace Up Heels: River Island
Floral Print Side Purse: River Island

Photography by: Kelechi Okpa


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Your Next Glory (5 Ways to Get Unstuck)

I've spent the past several week contemplating why I've not yet reached "my next glory." Most simply put, I felt I had reached a point of stagnation. I wasn't growing my craft nor was I flourishing in my purpose. The former half of this year has taught me a lot about responsibility. I've taken out of it that it's simply up to me to get God's best out of my life. Each of us are held solely accountable of our joy, success, and faith -- basically we're responsible for getting the best out of what God has placed in us. As Christians we are tasked to go from glory to glory and we must activate our gifts in order to get there.

Here are 5 painful (yes, painful - lol) ways to get unstuck and move to your next glory:

  1. Be consistent: Vow to show up daily (especially on those days you feel like you just can't). Create discipline in your life and go at your goals by consistently putting in effort each and every day. Be steadfast in your promise to work at your dream. Show up and stay at it.
  2. Be serious: Okay now...Imagine if you gave this dream of yours your best all. Like absolutely everything you've got. How much more successful would your company be? How much faster would you run? How much more would your edges flourish? I am totally guilty of not giving each "small" (no task is too small!) goal absolutely everything I have. In retrospect, in those moments I have given a task my best all, I've experienced glorious results.
  3. Be still (but move only when He says "go"): Realize that it's not every activity or every idea that deserves your attentive yes. Get in your quiet corner and seek God for your next move. (It's  possible that He also wants you to stay right where you are).
  4. Be humble: Know when to ask for help. Know when to say your plate is too full and you just can't move. Know also when to receive criticism and go at it again, this time with a different perspective.
  5. Be prepared: Most times, God needs us to master our current assignment before He elevates us to the next best blessing. Ask yourself if you've done your best and given your all in preparation for your next glory.

Outfit details:

Black Jeans: Topshop (Joni Collection)

Black Turtle-neck Crop Top: H&M

Black and White Drape Front Duster: Forever 21

Photography: Will Charles Media


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Forced to be Fearless (When You've Had Enough)

fear·lessadjectivelacking fear.

synonyms: bold, brave, courageous, valiant. 

I recently re-watched the film Enough (starring Jennifer Lopez) and finally understood (from a personal perspective) where her fight came from. As the film title suggests, she was over and done with being beaten, running, and crying. She'd had enough and was more than ready to claim what was rightfully hers: peace of mind,  joy, and freedom.

In order to preserve her sanity, her daughter, and her other possessions, she was forced to be fearless and she trained until she was fully equipped to step out and fight with faith.

Fearlessness doesn't come easily. Your courage is awakened when you realize it's time to possess your possession. You'll have a strong desire to claim everything you've ever hoped for and all that God promised. You'll become so fatigued from the fear that all you'll know to do is fight. (But don't go onto the battlefield unarmed).  This is when we rise up and fasten our armor of God and start calling forth dry bones of hope, boldness, and stamina. 

My life started looking drastically different when I was forced to be fearless. I realized I had so much waiting for me on the other side of anxiety, pain, and hurt. I no longer wanted to live in a space where I was scared to live my dreams. I became so uncomfortable with how uncomfortable fear made me feel. Eventually, my dreams will forced me out of fear. Sometimes progress has to come by fire by force so I was forced to stop operating and praying from a place of fear, and I started living and praising from a place of faith.

When you're forced to be fearless, faith begins to fill where fear once reigned. You become confident in whose you are and are snapped to reality remembering whom you serve. Your faith equips you to rise daily and claim what God has promised you.

The truth is, some of God's promises have to be fought for and you'll only possess them when you become absolutely drained from the running, hiding, crying. You're forced out of fear when you've absolutely had enough.

What dreams have forced you to be fearless? I'd love to hear your stories below and on insta with the hashtag #forcedtobefearless! xo

What I'm Wearing:

Side Blazer Dress: Topshop

Lace Up Pumps: River Island 

Photography by: Will Charles Media

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