Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Easier Said Than Done

I had a baby on November 14, 2018. In preparation for the baby, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do about Fancy Free Hair & Skin business. I have two part-time employees and a team to run my social media and respond to emails but it just didn't sit right with me to totally unplug after I had a baby. Everyone told me I need to take a break. I understood where they were coming from but that is easier said than done.

As a business owner, I've learned that when you have momentum you have to keep it up, just like driving uphill when it's snowing. Have you ever tried to drive up a hill when there's snow on the ground coming from a complete stop? I have. It is HARD! Slipping and sliding. Wheels spinning - my car is rear wheel drive. Now, compare that to coming down a hill while it's snowing, going at a decent speed, then you have to go up a hill. MUCH easier. It's the momentum that pushes you to the top of hill with minimal difficulty. Well, the same thing happens in business. You have to keep working and pushing your business forward because if you stop, getting started again is a snow covered up hill battle.

To be sure that I wasn't crazy, I had a talk with a VERY successful mompreneur who had a baby while she was focused on hitting a HUGE goal in her business.  Her name is Chanelle Burt. Google her. She is a beast. Chanelle also confirmed how I was feeling. And just for safe measure, I asked myself "What would Beyonce do?". In my heart of hearts, I don't think Beyonce totally unplugged. IDC. IDC. IDC. Those video diaries and songs written while playing around are "work". LOL! Like Chanelle said, no one cares about my business more than me. While my team is amazing, I am still the driving force. So, if I slack off, guess what they're most likely going to do? Yooooouuuuu guessed it. They're probably going to slack off too. So, I decided that I would do what I needed to do for Fancy Free Hair & Skin, my first born baby, within reason.

November 14 was a Tuesday. I was back on my computer, updating things on the website, responding to emails. I came home from the hospital, 3 days postpartum and filled orders that came in while I was in the hospital. Yes. I have staff that fills orders but she works Mondays and Wednesdays, it was a Saturday. My husband did not give me crap about it. He took the orders to the post office for me.

When my baby needs to be fed, I stop and feed her. When my baby needs to be held, I sit down and hold her. When she's just up looking around, I strap her on and keep doing whatever with her strapped to my chest. I've chalked it up to me just not being the type of person to sit still. AND I can't let my business slow down, so I have stuff to do.

With my son, I had NO problem unplugging from work while I was on maternity leave. However, I was in the kitchen whipping up that work after being home for a week. I guess, when it comes to my own business, going on maternity leave is easier said than done with the current phase of growth I am in with my business. To my credit, I am on moratorium for vending and events until Spring 2019.

I guess I said all of that to say, when your main source of income depends on you being present and engaged, you find a way to be present and engaged even if it's less than 12 hours after you've had a baby. I understand that people mean well when they say "You have to take time off" but that is easier said than done.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you fancy and free of chemicals." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

They MADE That Girl Get A Relaxer

The Fancy Free brand is all about hair and skin products that are free of harsh chemicals but also being Fancy and Free, as a person. That means embracing who you are, especially your natural hair texture. I have no problems with weave and wigs because hair can also be an accessory worn to express how you're feeling that day. But to chemically modify the texture of your hair to make it do something it wasn't designed goes against what I stand for. Again, I do not judge anyone who CHOOSES to do that. After all, it's your hair. However, to tell threaten someone's livelihood because they will not relax their hair is despicable, in my humble opinion me.

So, there's this article that everyone keeps tagging me in. About a young girl competing in the America's Next Top Model franchise in the Carribean, Carribean's Next Top Model, who essentially had to decide between relaxing her hair or being eliminated from the competition. Watch the video: 

What. In. The. World. I have so much to say that I'm speechless. So let me count the ways...

  1. FIRST OF ALL, YOU UGLY! I'm sorry but what?!?! Girl, a RELAXER!?!? What happened to a press and curl? I don't need a relaxer to wear my hair straight. What rock have you been living under that you don't know that you don't know that?
  2. Where is your heart? This girl is crying over her hair. Not cuz she doesn't want a cut or a certain style but because she doesn't want to expose her hair and skin to harsh chemicals. She. Is. Crying. Real. Tears. What kind of monster are you?
  3. As a brown woman in the Carribean, I'm sure you have experienced racism and colorism in your lifetime. Do you remember that? How did that make you feel? Not good, I bet. Hair texture shaming is the same as that. We are JUST becoming comfortable in our own skin and embracing our natural, unadulterated beauty since the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade. Even if YOU are not comfortable with the natural texture of your hair, do not enforce your beliefs on me, especially if they expose me to harsh chemicals. ESPECIALLY since I can wear my hair straight WITHOUT doing that.
  4. Unprofessional?!?! Let me tell you something. You are asked this girl to go against everything she believes in. Giving her an ultimatum between standing up for what she believes in and her career. She did not raise her voice. She simply expressed her strong beliefs and stood up for herself. 
  5. Naughty?!?! This young lady is a grown woman. Not a child. Speaking up for herself is not considered misbehaving. It's a human right. So, not only are you forcing her to submit to YOUR standard of beauty, but you also want her to succumb to misogynistic/sexist rules of society. Women are supposed to be silent and do as told? Even if it's wrong? Even if they don't agree. Ridiculous. She spoke in calm respectful tones. At least from what I saw from the clip. She was in well within her rights to react the way she did.
I could go on and on but Imma stop at 5 cuz that's when people stop reading anyway. LOL! This whole scene makes me more sad than angry. Just like I feel sad for blatantly racist and hateful people. Our differences in view and beliefs is what makes this world a colorful and enjoyable place. We see thing differently. We operate differently, in different spaces that feel comfortable for us as individuals. Forcing someone to do something that is against their beliefs is just wrong.

For women reading this who prefer to wear their hair straight, hear me loud and clear, YOU DO NOT NEED A RELAXER TO WEAR YOUR HAIR STRAIGHT!  And if your hairstylist tries to tell you that you NEED a relaxer, I'd suggest you get a new stylist. Modern styling tools and hair products straighten hair beautifully without exposing you to chemicals that can eat through an aluminum can.

Ok. That concludes my rant for the day. Remember, that you are a friend of Fancy and she wants you to live Fancy and Free of harsh chemicals. LOL!

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you fancy and free of chemicals." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Mompreneur Life: A Day In The Life of Fancy

Cute but he's laughing so hard in
this pic because he thought it was
funny to pinch my toes.
As I type this, I am 35 weeks gestation with my second child. My first child is 2 years old. He is a boy. All boy. He is definitely 2 years old. With the tantrums. The erratic behavior. My husband works a lot. He really enjoys his career and he prides himself on being a bread winner (I got me a good one). Which means that I pretty much take care of the household.

I used to be able to accomplish monumental tasks while my son is in daycare. Not so much anymore. I'm super slow right now. The laundry has started to pile up. We are eating out more often. The house is a wreck. Well, more of a wreck than it normally is. Like, I need "a week's notice to prep for company" type of wreck. A full day.

My feet March 18, 2016. 34 weeks gestation with my son.
I was very swollen with my son. I gained 85 pounds, most of which was water weight. I know what that feels like, I don't want to go through that again so as soon as I feel the top of my feet tingling or my legs getting tight (indications of swelling) I sit down with my feet up. But I can't sit down for long because I have a 2 year old son who requires undivided attention or he acts out. But my business is growing, so I have to do business stuff. I do as much as I can in the 15-20 minutes I have before my feet start tingling or my back starts hurting, then I sit down again. I have to drink a lot of water to keep the swelling down, so I don't sit down for long before I have to go to the bathroom. 

I am happy that my daughter is growing nicely. My business is also growing which makes it hard for me to sit down and relax like I should or at least how everyone tells me I should cuz I have stuff to do. I have to keep the momentum. I learned from direct sales that once you lose momentum, it's hard to gain it back. Production can't slow down. Shipping can't slow down. Marketing can't slow down.

Here is where it starts getting even more complicated. Read slowly. Maybe some of you can relate to how I have to process my whole life everyday.

I am carrying the weight of 1.25 people, literally. Let me rephrase, I can no longer carry the workload of one full person right now. LOL! I have great help but we can do more if I buy some more equipment to automate some processes. That would increase the efficiency of one person. NOT SO FAST, SISTAH! Real life is happening.

Oh. That property I sold in 2015? As a short sale because no one was paying retail in that neighborhood? When I thought all of the debt was forgiven? Well one of those banks wants their money. All of it. Plus 3 years of interest. Plus attorney fees. Totaling $75,000 and counting cuz the interest is accruing erryday, B. I AIN'T GOT THAT! Maybe they'll negotiate a settlement? Well, $55,000 isn't really a settlement.  I guess I'll have to file bankruptcy cuz I ain't got it. Which means.......I can't use my business lines of credit anymore because they are looking at my personal credit, even though I used Fancy Free Hair & Skin business credit history, and based on what's going on with my personal credit the banks have already started restricting my business credit usage.🙄
Time to get creative. 
Ask me if we've been able to get this working yet.

Anyone interested in investing in Fancy Free? Oh. We aren't big enough yet? Oh. The beauty industry is saturated? Oh. I'm operating out of a residence so I can't be serious about this thing? Ok. Other sources. WHAT?!?! You want me to pay $6600 to borrow $4000? That's like 44% interest. No way, Jose!! That is not industry standard. Ok. Come through Shopify and Quickbooks with the revenue based funding. 

Ordered some equipment. Have some more working capital. Fancy Free is ready for increased production capabilities. Ugh! These renovations for the baby's room! I have to pick paint colors, order the furniture, pick out decor. Can't leave my son out. Gotta change his room up a little too. All of these clothes! Who bought him all of this stuff?!?! Does he need a new coat this winter? Can he still fit these things from last year? No! No! You can't walk around all day with that coat on! We have to try on the other clothes. *sigh*

*door bells rings* Is that a delivery or a customer pick up?! Lordt. I'm all the way upstairs. I'm coming. *waddles down the steps* A delivery. Now all these boxes are in the way. They're too heavy for me to lift or move. My customer is coming to pick up their products and they won't see where I left it because of all the boxes I can't move. Let me text my customer to let them know where to look.

*hears husband walk in the door* OMG! What are we gonna eat for dinner? I didn't have time to go to store to even buy stuff we can heat up. 😢 He works so hard to take care of us and I can't even make sure he has a hot meal when he comes home from work. *Mommy/Wife guilt kicks in* Lord, I forgot to text my customer!

After finally putting the kid to bed, I head up to my bedroom to wind down. And when I open the door, another disaster zone. How can I relax here? Why are there toys all over the floor? Who is gonna put this laundry away? But I'm way too tired to clean up. Imma do it first thing tomorrow. *looks at calendar for next day* 🙍 Ok. The next day. *sigh*
TRYING to do "sit down" work

Yes. My days are this random. Then throw in a couple of self care appointments, business meetings and conference calls and I'm really messed up. I feel like there are one million moving parts with no sign of slowing down. At least not until 2019. I am not complaining. It's just.....a lot. Some times I feel overwhelmed. There are times when I cry. But I make phone calls and send emails in between tears. I asked for this life. I am blessed to have an AH-MAY-ZING support system. But it is a lot to deal with while pregnant. I am used to being superwoman. My family is used to me being superwoman but right now, with a little bowling ball in my belly that pushes my lungs up, so I can't breathe, I just can't be all things to everyone. One day at a time. One task at a time. And when I think I've gone as far as I can go, I don't push myself, I relax. Even if it's only for 5 minutes.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you fancy and free of chemicals." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Saturday, September 22, 2018

You Just Killed My Vibe

I have always had a keen sense of discernment when it came to reading people but my naivety would want to see the good in people even when I could feel that something wasn't right. When I became a manager, reading people during the hiring process became one of my valued traits in my department.  I would get these vibes about interviewees and I would suggest that we didn't hire them. In every single case that the person was hired anyway, they ended up being trouble. The problem back then was that I didn't have any data to back up my decision, just my gut feeling or, should I say, bad vibes. Now, I can decide for myself who Fancy Free Hair & Skin will enter into partnerships with.

When I say "kill my vibe", I mean something about the person is "off" and there energy is telling me that their energy is not in sync with my energy. I am generally a happy go lucky person. I am honest and forthcoming with information that matters. I am fair. I am considerate. It is most disappointing when I engage with someone with whom I hope to have some kind of mutually beneficial agreement with and they give me weird vibes, or worse, bad vibes.  

In sales, I encounter all types of people. It's only been a few years for me, but I've sharpened my skills on being able to identify who to spend my time with  and who not to. I will say, I take all interactions in stride with a smile. However, I think the most disappointing interaction are the interactions that kill my vibe.

Most recently, it was with another business owner. I saw an opportunity that could potentially be beneficial for both of us. He was not marketing his services. I sought him out, found him - with no social media, by the way. When we spoke on the phone, he looked at my website and seemed impressed with what I was trying to do. We agreed to meet. I was excited. Then we met.....

I walked into the meeting space, I was immediately overwhelmed. Something wasn't right. I didn't talk much, I just listened and watched his body language. Some of what he was saying didn't line up with the research I had done. Remember, I found him and he did not have any social media accounts. #CreepLife However, I know how it is to have to shuffle paperwork with your business life when things come up in your personal life, so I brushed it off. I made mental notes and told him I would look at my numbers, discuss the opportunity with my partner aka husband, and call him back with my proposal.

When I called him back with my proposal based on things HE suggested he would be willing to offer in order to help me out, it was like he had completely forgotten what he said. VIBE KILLED! All of the sudden he needed me to make a move within a week, even though he saw that I am about to have a baby AND I explained that I wouldn't be able to finalize anything until after I have my baby. 
I was so confused. 
Bubble busted.
Balloon deflated.
Excitement out the window.

Now, I could have negotiated terms that were beneficial for both of us. But you know what Lil Duval said. And because of my initial "read" of something being off with this guy, I decided I would look for opportunities elsewhere. His change in perspective on how he would be willing to work with me in 24 hours solidified it for me. I've been there with an old tenant before. The tenant was a liar, going back on her word once, so I had to stop talking to the tenant. I switched to communicating via text or email only, so that I could have documentation. I told my property manager that I wanted her out cuz "something was off". He convinced me to let her stay and in the end, I was shafted. So, never again.

The trouble with vibes is that I have to make sure I'm not just being a punk, scared of doing something differed, and real bad vibes. If I've read the situation incorrectly, I am the one missing out. But, if I am correct, I dodged a bullet. The only way to know for sure is to go through with it. I just ain't in a position to risk it right now. #EntrePoorNeurLife 

Lesson: We all give off energy. Some people pay attention to it. Some do not. If you feel like something is off, it probably is. I'd recommend disengaging. If someone randomly walked away from you, you may have killed their vibe. It happens. Don't take offense, that relationship wasn't meant to be at that time.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you fancy and free of chemicals." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

I Draw The Line At.....Edge Control

Fancy Free Hair & Skin started as as consultant company back in 2013. It was called Fancy Free
Natural Hair Consults. My accountant told me that I needed to start a home based business and I was getting sooooo many questions about my hair routine and the products I was using that I decided that I would sit down with these ladies for a nominal fee of $20. That fee included one hour of one on one conversation with me, a sample of the product I was making for myself and a personalized hair care plan developed to help them reach their hair goals.
NOTE: Yes, the price has gone up but only to pay for the cost of the nutritional supplements I now include in the Natural Hair Consultation package.

A lot of my consult clients would contact me about purchasing more of the product I had given them. I'd just give them recipe - which I have tweeked since then. Fast forward to 2015, my goodt goodt girlfriend tried my product and simply said "Sell this". I trust her judgment and since I already had a few people asking for it, I started to sell it. The rest is history, well....more like, history in the making.

Since then, I've launched the Exclusives line of Shea Pomade for Hair & Skin, lipbalm, Fancy Free Milk for Hair & Skin, Alumium Free Roll-On Deodorant, and, everyone's favorite, Aluminum Free Solid Deodorant. I launched these products based on customer feedback and inquiries. However, I do not make products that I don't use on myself or that my family wouldn't use. I have at least one more product in the pipeline within the next year and it's NOT edge control.

In the beginning of my transition to natural hair, I did try to find the perfect product to lay my edges down nice and smooth but none that I ever tried were a lasting solution. My edges would end up looking just how they looked without edge control, just greasier. After spending about $150 over the years trying different products, I asked myself "Why am I doing this?". I didn't have a real answer, so I quit trying to control my edges.

As it becomes apparent that I can develop any product I want to, more and more customers are asking me about edge control, usually natural newbies. My answer is "Not gonna happen." Here's why.....

  1. I don't want to be controlled and neither do my edges. I've always needed to operate in a space that gave me creative freedom to accomplish my goals/tasks/assignments in a way that feels good to me. When it comes to my hair, I had a much better relationship with my natural texture when I decided to let it show me what it wanted to do instead of trying to force it to do something it's not designed to do. I feel the same about edges. Let them be free to do what they want. Otherwise, they will always go against you.
  2. People are losing their edges as a result of trying to control them. Most African-American women and girls suffer from traction alopecia (lost edges) because they are trying to get a look that's just not meant to be.....smooth, straight edges. Pony tails pulled tight. Braids snatched. Weaves tight. 
  3. As I dive deeper into educating myself on the history of caring for kinky textured hair, product development and beauty standards, I have begun to find words like "smooth" and "control" appalling considering that my kinky hair is not ever going to be smooth. At least not in it's natural state. I pride myself on my wild hair. I will brush my edges when I pull my hair up but I never go out of the way to have them "laid" because...well, see number 1.
  4. I don't encourage the use of edge control. I don't support what edge "control" represents. (Yes. I could be reading into it too much but there is so much subliminal messaging and brain washing with the beauty industry, I'm going to stick with my story) And most importantly, I don't use edge control. Therefore, I will not be developing edge control or carrying any "edge control" like products.
This is my personal preference. I do think that toothbrush styled, swirly edges are pretty. I just know that for me, it's a waste of time. So, I don't do it. The funniest thing about this topic is, most people who have asked me about edge control in the past almost always come back to tell me that they understand why I don't use it. LOL! Right! Cuz it doesn't work. So why bother?

The name of my business, Fancy Free, represents both me and my products. I am fancy and free. A free spirit. I have a hard time conforming to norms that aren't true to who I am. I feel like Jehovah made us all perfectly beautiful and it is my mission to help everyone see their natural beauty and the beauty of individuality. What works for the goose doesn't always work for the gander. That's why it's for the goose. Let your hair be fancy and free. You'll be surprised how much stress is alleviated from your life once you're not trying to "control" it and make it do something it not designed to do.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you fancy and free of chemicals." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Self Made

Kylie Jenner was named the youngest "self made" billionaire by Forbes magazine. Ummm....excuse me while I contain my laughter. First thing's first. NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE makes it alone. It takes a team for anything substantial to grow and be successful. Period. Let me break down how Kylie is NOT self-made before I explain how this term is misleading so many others on their entrepreneurial journey.

1. Kylie is the daughter of Kris Jenner.
Kris make have some unorthodox ways but she is a bomb ass momager. Each and everyone of her children has been able to start and grow sustainable businesses with Kris pulling strings behind the scenes. Kylie is no exception.
2. Kylie is a Kardashian.
As I grow in my business, I realize the importance of social media influencers. Many influencers get paid to sell other people's products while some start businesses of their own. Most people who do well in business selling products have a very strong social media presence. Couple that with a hot television show and BOOM your products are going to fly off the shelf, no matter what they are.
3. Kylie has resources.
Yes, it's obvious that Kylie is rich, so monetary resources are plentiful but imagine being having the best of the best vying to work for you or collaborate with you on any venture you are set on pursuing. Best of the best cosmetic manufacturer. Best of the best distribution company. Best of the best graphic designer. Best of the best web designer. Best of the best marketing team. I mean....you get the point.

Successful enterprises are comprised of the following:

  • A visionary
  • An executor
  • A money person
  • A connector
  • A marketing person
One person can play a couple of those roles but in success stories, ALL success stories, multiple people hold these roles. Making "self made" a false term.

The Hospital Team
When I worked in health care, the term "teamwork" was thrown around but really everyone was for themselves. Covering their own behinds, trying to make themselves look good while, sometimes, throwing others under the bus for one reason on another. The real impact of collaborative economics didn't hit me until I started building a direct sales business. Call it a pyramid scheme but when you realize that your paycheck depends on the someone else getting a paycheck, you are going to go above and beyond to help them understand HOW to get paid and then help them actually take the steps to get paid. And in direct sales, the more people you teach this model to, the more money you make. So, everyone is helping each other get paid. Now THAT is teamwork. 

I run my business with the same teamwork spirit but running Fancy Free Hair & Skin is a little different than building a direct sales team. In direct sales, you want your business partners/team to duplicate your efforts and surpass you but in business you want you teammates to focus on doing what they do best to fulfill their role on the team. My role is to develop quality products that our customers want and manufacture them. However, I don't manufacture by myself because that's not sustainable, so I have help. My manufacturing tech keeps us on track with our production schedule, makes sure we order supplies on time, and also keeps me motivated when I want to sit on the couch. Hey. It happens.
The Fancy Free Team

But who cares if the product is good. No one will buy it if they don't know about it. That's why I have a public relations expert to get my brand in front of people and a marketing expert to make sure I'm sending the right message about my products to the right people. But no one cares if I'm saying the right things to the right people is the presentation of the product is trash. That's why I have someone who is in charge of designing labels and packaging. And another person in charge of making sure the product pictures and social media pictures are in line with my brand. 

It really does take a team. I don't have to spend time trying to figure out how to do those things that are not in my area of expertise only to come up with mediocre results. I can focus on my energy on product development and being the face of the brand, while my team makes sure the other areas are covered.... and executed with excellence.

Entrepreneurship is not easy. It can be lonely but you don't have to go it alone. Don't let these headlines fool you into thinking that you have to do it by yourself to a talked about success story. You don't. You shouldn't. You will not be successful if you try to do it alone.

So, congrats to Kylie Jenner and all of the other entrepreneurs doing big things. I am inspired and you help keep me motivated but make sure you acknowledge your team. You couldn't have done it without them.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Weeding The Garden: Identifying Relationships To Eliminate

I know there are 9 bridesmaids pictured.
2 of them are my sisters so they don't count. LOL!
I don't know why I hear so many women say they have a hard time staying friends with women. I have a rack of close friends that I've accumulated over the years. For example: I had 7 bridesmaids in my wedding when I was 27. I was close with all of them. I am still close with all of them. If I were to get married again at 37, I'd probably have a few more.....like 15 total. I don't know. Maybe I'm a friend hoarder. LOL!
Now, of course, a few weeds made their way into my garden but I weed often, so they didn't last long. 

Characteristics Of Weeds
1. Negative energy. 
Sometimes it's hard to read energy. I have become more in tuned with my intuition as I have matured. I decide if a relationship is worth building just like I run a business or a laboratory, hire and fire quickly. Relationships with history can be mended but if someone is shady or doing people close to them wrong, it's only a matter of time before you're the victim. *DELETE* I wish you well but I don't want that around me. I work too hard to attract love and light into my life.
2. Haters/Frienemy. 
These people are always watching what you're doing. Instead of congratulating you or celebrating
you, they know someone who is doing better or they go out of their way to "one up" you. These people also find a way to point out the smallest flaw. They don't do it in love either. They don't want you to think to highly of yourself. NOPE! *DELETE* What is for me is for me. If you are not happy for me, go over there and be sad away from me.
3. Never shows up. 
When I say "show up", I mean physically and just to have someone to talk to. When a relationship
gets to the point where it's not adding value to your life, then it's time to end it. Quickly. I am a giving person, but I also need love too. One sided relationships have no place in the Fancy Life. *DELETE*
4. Makes every situation about them. 
When you realize that everything isn't about you, it's so much easier not to take things personally. You definitely don't get offended. I just don't want to be around insecure people. The last thing I don't want to do is start being paranoid, thinking everyone is talking about me or doesn't like me for one odd reason or another. It's way too stressful. I ain't got time for extra stress in my life. I don't attend pity parties. *DELETE*
5. Doesn't invite you. 
They half ass show up to your events and when they have something they "thought you were busy" or "wouldn't be interested". The truth is, they didn't want you there. When you shine, some people don't want you around their people because they don't want you to out shine them OR, now lean in and read this closely, they don't want you around the people they talk shit about you to. You know, to show those people the the truth about you. Not interested. *DELETE*

A couple of new flowers. No weed zone.
When you realize that someone in your life is displaying one, some or ALL of these characteristics, CUT THEM OUT of your life!!! And I do not care who they are to you. NO ONE IS EXEMPT! People spend a lifetime coping with family issues and the like. So if you realize that one of the weeds in your life is your parent, sibling, cousin, best friend from kindergarden, whomever it may be, if they are no longer adding value to your life, you will be better off without them. Trust me. I have real life example.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Why The Hood Needs Traplord Owned Businesses

This is not my Aunt Hazel's salon but this image is a close
replica. Work with me. Camera phones weren't around in the 80's.
I have entrepreneurship and hustling in my blood. I grew up spending summers and weekends in my Aunt Hazel's beauty salon. The whole family worked there. My older cousin's, my aunts, even my mother did her time there while in college. She paid her own way through four years of Coppin State University using her earning from "the shop". My grandmother was a known hustler. Ruthie was known to sell Avon, have a few rental properties, sell moonshine. You name it. The same for my father. As an I.T. expert, he had a computer consulting business and then took over my grandmother's real estate portfolio. It's not surprise that I am a full-time entrepreneur.

One thing I noticed about my business owning family is who they hired. They hired family and people from the neighborhood. People that most traditional jobs would not have given a chance. The young and eager boy who looks unkempt because his home life is in shambles. The drug addict who is trying to do better but just can't shake it. The young girl with "too many kids for her age", whatever that means, who can't really afford childcare so she can't doesn't look for work but wants to be able to do something. Anyway, with the way present day society is set up, we need more of that. The black community needs more business owners who will give people in their own communities an opportunity. 

My father has been a full-time entrepreneur since 2004. I know the date because he was laid off from University of Maryland-College Park at the end of my last semester in college. He's had his ups and downs but overall, he is doing well. One day, my car battery died and I needed a jump. AAA was too far away, so I called my daddy - Daddy's Girls Antics. He came running, of course. He usually has his worker, Mike, with him but this worker's face didn't look familiar but he knew everything about me. My whole name. That I had a kid. I was freaked out a little bit but was rushing and didn't put it all together until a few hours later. It was Mr. Pete! Mr. Pete is one of my father's best friends. I remembered hanging out with him and his family as a child and then he disappeared for a LONG TIME and now he was back....working with my father. Interesting. So, I asked what the deal was.

A drawing Mr. Pete illustrated while imprisoned
Mr. Pete served 26 years in a federal prison. He had become addicted to drugs and committed felony murder while under the influence. A lot can happen while someone is incarcerated for 26 years. The guilt of your actions can eat away at you. Most of the time, relationships diminish and disappear. People turn their backs on you when they find out what you did. But not my father. He remained true to his a friendship that began in 1957.

While in prison, Mr. Pete learned who he was and worked on himself. Came home to show people that he changed. He wrote a book called "Look Into My Soul" but with no training programs in prison, he came home with no real skills but there was opportunity waiting for him. Work. Yes, manual labor, not ideal for a college educated man over 65 BUT it would be in an environment of love and encouragement. Now, Mr. Pete is able to learn a few trade skills and earn some money with his best friend since the 5 years old.

Predominantly African-American communities in the United States are forgotten. Our children are written off. The teenagers are judged and labeled as under achievers. The adults are stereotyped as stupid and lazy. However, study after study proves that when given opportunity and encouragement, ANYONE can thrive. Anyone. So, for us "woke" folk, it is evident that we are the only ones who can save us. This is exactly why I am looking for spaces for the Fancy Factory within the community. Yes, I could easily find a beautiful commercial space in Owings Mills but who would that serve? I want to serve my people because ultimately, we all we got. (Y'all remember that from New Jack City? Ok. I digress)

The "system" is not designed for residents of certain socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds to flourish. We have to constantly fight to make a way EVEN when have support and opportunity. Imagine how it is for those young folks who don't have either. I have chosen to be the change I want to see and set up an operation that bypasses the system. We NEED black owned businesses in black neighborhoods who hire people within our black neighborhoods.

The second building I looked at that he shut down. LOL!
My husband and I argue about it because I've been looking at spots in the trappiest of the trap. I understand his concerns but I have to be the one to invest in my community before it gets snatched up by an investor who is not invested in the surroundings, only what they can take. Ugh! Don't get me started on these investors from out of town who are buying up everything in our city and leaving the buildings to rot.

Anyway, my family has laid the foundation for my future. It's not the easiest route to success but it's mine. Heavy is the head.....

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

If It Ain't Broke

When I launched my iFundWomen fundraiser, my plan was to increase marketing budget to increase revenue. Simple. I raised the money and found a marketing team that had great ideas. We got our marketing plan together and started to revamp the Fancy Free brand by emphasizing my role as a scientist behind the products with real knowledge. So we got busy getting things in order. I launched the Fancy Free Hair Profile quiz which allowed women to categorize their hair styling preferences and we would provide instructions on how to use Fancy Free products based on the styling preference. The rationale behind this is that no one really understands all of the natural hair "jargon" that's out there. Low porosity, 4c, blah blah blah. None of that really matters if you keep your hair in a weave most of the time.

Then I decided, without really consulting anyone, that I was going to spruce up the website. Give it a fresh clean look to celebrate being a full-time entrepreneur for one year. I looked at some website themes that I liked. Had the Fancy Free team vote on it. Purchased it. Hired someone to transfer all of my data. Went back and forth with the contracted developer. Did my own tweaking and then finally, it was time to launch.

I took a nap and woke up around 1a so that I could flip the switch and do some testing to make sure everything was working properly. And what happened? You guessed it. All hell broke loose. Well, not really hell, but nothing was going as anticipated.

First thing, my new, upgraded website that I had been working on it for a little over a month, wouldn't go live for whatever reason. I kept getting error messages. *sigh* I wasn't sure if it was my internet connection (Xfinity is known for being janky), my computer (It is 4 years old, so it might be time for an upgrade), or my browser (I always use Chrome, so this was a first). I figured it out, switched browsers and got the new website up and running. Then I went to test it....

Everything was trash. It was really slow to load (a BIG no no for shopping online). None of my vital add on functions were working with the theme. To be clear, I tested the website prior to going live but I was told that the functions I was looking for could only be seen went it was live. 🙄 The product pictures were distorted. There was information and stats visible to customers that shouldn't have been. It was all just trash. So, I made an executive decision to just go back to my old website. I updated the pictures and few other things. It worked fine. Everything was functioning properly. All by a little after 4a. Yaaaaayyy!!! *insert sarcasm*

Lesson: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Sometimes we want to upgrade for the sake of upgrading. Even when the version you're using is working perfectly fine. It could be a phone, car, house, whatever. Making HUGE changes can cost lots of money and time. Save the money, spend your time working on something else because small tweeks and improvements can be just as effective as large overhauls, without the headache.
I spent hundreds of dollars and over 1 month working on something that turned out to be useless while the current version was working just fine.

Lesson learned. I get it now. Before I dive into making a huge "improvement", I will ask myself. Is what you're using working? Can you make improvements to your current process without replacing it? Is it necessary? This entrepreneurship life ain't no crystal stair but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Friday, April 27, 2018

That Time I Had To Eat My Words

In between clients, we would rehearse Beyonce choreography.
Ok. Maybe we would just pause in the middle of a client.
One of the reasons for cosmetology education is to train stylists how to use chemicals safely with minimal damage to the hair shaft. I think my natural hair clients loved me because I essentially did what the client told me worked for their hair. Mainly because I didn't know any better, I had a relaxer at the time. LOL! If they brought their own products, I used them. From aloe vera gel and squeezing real lemons to S-curl activator. Yes, jheri curl juice. She liked the results so who was I to say no?

So, when I cut the last of my relaxed ends off of my curly roots, I was on the internet like everyone else looking to see what were the best products. The first product I bought was TRASH. Everyone was raving about so I couldn't wait to try it. My curls were popping but the next day, I had a head full of flakes. I looked at the ingredients and the first ingredient on the product was mineral oil. I clutched my pearls.
"Isn't mineral oil one of the big product no-no's?"
"Someone said that this product was different after they started mass production."
"This product says "natural" but is mineral oil considered natural?"

As a scientist, I had a ton of questions. As a disappointed customer, I was going directly to the source. So I called the company's headquarters. I asked how this product is legally labeled natural but the first ingredient is mineral oil. The person on the other end of the line tried to explain to me that it was "organic" mineral oil. FIRST OF ALL!!!!
1. Mineral oil is not from a plant source so it's not FDA approved organic.
2. If you are referring to it as organic because it has a "carbon" in the molecule structure, I doubt that the average person would consider a derivative of crude oil "organic" in the way that products are labeled as such.
If you knew the 30 y.o. me, you know I went off, running down my credentials and telling them that they should be ashamed of themselves for misleading uninformed consumers in this manner. Then I hung up and promptly returned that product to target for a full refund.

My very first pitch competition!
Seven years later, I've made a business of manufacturing quality products for hair and skin using organic ingredients. We are in exponential growth phase and applying to every opportunity for funding that we qualify for. With that comes finding a way to present your business information to a group of investors that grabs their attention. You have to entertain and spark emotions all while giving boring statistics. iFundWomen hired a coach to help the Maryland Cohort prepare for the Innovation Labs Pitch Competition at Baltimore's Light City Festival. I also read a plethora of books on how to give great business pitches. In short, tell stories that include the data to keep the investors interested. Of course, my story that communicated the "problem" with the current state of products for natural hair care was going to include my personal experience with the trash, mineral oil product.

But you can't just say, mineral oil is bad, you have to give the facts on why, just like we do with aluminum in deodorant causing breast cancer. So, as a scientist, I did the research and do you know what I came up with? Crickets. There was nothing that said mineral oil in hair products was bad for you. No causing cancer. No flaring up of existing skin conditions. No causing of skin conditions. Nothing. I began to dig deeper, as a member of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists, I looked into the studies of mineral oil and petroleum in hair and skin care products. Studies show that it is more effective and longer lasting at "clumping" hair, what we all want for our wash and go days, than most other oils commonly used in hair products.

2 day old vaseline Wash and Go

Of course, I gave it a try. My 2 year old son wears a wash and go, so, after shampooing his hair. I applied a little Free Shea Pomade then worked some good ole vaseline through his hair. And voila! It worked....even better than the flax seed gel I had been experimenting with. 🙈
Disclaimer: Any product that is mainly oil must be applied to wet or damp hair and skin to be effective. The purpose is the seal the moisture, aka water, in. Otherwise, the product will sit on top of your dry skin and you will have oily but dry skin or hair. LOL!

One of the things I take into account when developing new products is that I choose ingredients that are of the earth and can be eaten. And mineral oil can, in fact, be consumed. It's often used as a laxative, an old school solution if you don't have Miralax. Do not worry, I will not be to using mineral oil or petroleum as an ingredient in any of Fancy Free products but I just wanted to let you know, just in case you found a product that you love with mineral oil as a main ingredient. It's ok. You may proceed. LOL!

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Friday, March 30, 2018

12 Months An Entrepreneur

"This Meeting
Could've Been an Email"
Today marks one full year since I said my goodbyes to everything I had known as a career from 2004-2017. When I graduate from University of Maryland's Department of Medical and Research Technology in 2004, I was set on my career path. I would work in a blood bank, become a Specialist in Blood Bank, manage a blood bank and then, eventually, become a director of a laboratory. Boy, was I wrong. You see, about 2 years in to my Blood Bank management position, my director went on vacation and left me in charge of the entire lab. That changed my entire perspective on what I wanted to do with my life and it was not that. Endless meetings, constant phone calls, 750 emails/day, deescalating trivial personnel issues. No. Absolutely not. I decided to focus on being the best blood bank manager and teach future medical laboratory science. That was good for me.

The 5Linx Gang Sign
Then in 2013, something happened. I got bored. A friend of mine had been asking me to come look at his "business opportunity". (Y'all know what that's code for. LOL!) He had always been pretty business savvy and appeared to be financially successful, so I looked at it, it made sense to me at the time, so I got involved. That one decision to participate in one of those "Pyramid Schemes" changed my perspective on life. $100,000 annual salary was no longer enough if I could make that in a month from home. ( Yes. I know. That is extreme but I saw people doing it.) I began immersing myself in personal development and learning beginner marketing skills. I was changing for the better. My eyes had been opened and I wanted a better quality of life. I did not want to spend my summer days in my corner office with no windows staring at a computer screen, only to come home as the sun was setting so I couldn't enjoy our unheated pool like I wanted to. I no longer wanted to be obligated to take phone calls at all times of the night. I no longer wanted to deal with mediocrity for the sake of status quo only to have to write a thesis to justify why I deserve a 2.5% salary increase when cost of living is increasing 3%, easy.

We were a dynamic duo
in direct sales.
I set out to build my direct sales business, at first, as something to do but then to change my quality of life. But, things happened. My husband and I started having arguments over it and then some major changes in the company's compensation plan left the opportunity less profitable than it had been in the past. The beauty in the situation was that I had grown as a person and I had also learned that I could, in fact, run a successful business.

While building my network marketing team, I had started selling a product that I had been making for myself and family for about two years. I never thought of selling my own products as a business until someone close to me put it plain and simple,"This is good. Sell this." So I started selling it. Hahahahahhaha!!!

I started small. My packaging was deli cold food storage containers. I printed on surplus paper labels I could find in my office supply cabinet. I designed the labels myself. I did not have a website. After about a month, I graduated to an Etsy page and 4 months later I had a real website. That first year was funny. I made so many improvements and spent most of my money on getting things in order. I think I did alright for myself because the second year in business, my profits increase by 500%. That means, I made 5 times what I made in the first year.

The FIRST Fancy Free Samples. TRASH! 🤣
To put that into perspective for you, in the first year, I became pregnant. While pregnant, working full time and building a network marketing business, I was selling my product, Fancy Free Shea Pomade for Hair & Skin. The second year, I was working full time, had a baby and was selling my products. When I looked at the numbers with my husband, I thought to myself "If I accomplished this with all that I had going on, imagine if I gave Fancy Free Hair & Skin my full attention." At that point, I had negotiated a half time situation at work but working half time was becoming more of a hassle than anything. So, I learned more about money, by listening to financial experts like Suze Orman and Tony Robbins, and figured out a way for us to be able to live off of one income, my husband's income. This way, I could quit my job and not worry about losing the house and having food. LOL!

March 30, 2017. Last day of work.
And on March 30, 2017, I left healthcare for good.

Here we are, one year later and I'm still standing. Fancy Free Hair & Skin grew an additional 300% in it's third year, with most of the growth occurring when I dived in head first as a full time entrepreneur. Since leaving my job, I was able to:

  • Develop and successfully launch 6 completely new products
  • Improve my website
  • Raise $8,110 through iFundWomen crowdfunding fundraiser
  • Revamp my brand and market position strategy
  • Hire support staff and contracted staff
  • Write a business plan
  • Apply for endless competitions and grants
  • Network and collaborate with some amazing women in the business world
But my personal life is also so much better. Let me count the ways....
  1. I am happier
    Yes, entrepreneurship is an emotional roller coaster. BUT I now have control over my destiny and my income. It's like controlled chaos, if that makes sense. I can choose who is in my space. Being able to protect your energy is a huge source of power and happiness.
  2. I am a better wife because I'm happier
    I no longer come home with lingering stress and irritations from dealing with the woahs of a stagnant work environment. I actually listen to my husband when he's talking instead of waiting for my turn to vent. And, most importantly, I am not as tired at "night".😜
  3. I have can spend more focused time with my son
    No stressing when daycare is closed or he needs to stay home when he's sick. While I am more productive when he's not here, I have the ability to shuffle my workload so that I can give him the undivided attention he needs, deserves...and demands. He don't play that multitasking stuff and has been known to smack phones out of hands.
  4. I am healthier
    My days are no longer at the mercy of meetings and anticipated start times. While, keeping myself on a schedule is a work in progress, I do not have to forego my morning self care routine (fitness, meditation and personal development) if I oversleep, I just simple get started a little later than normal. Because of that, my mental and physical health has improved.
  5. I have lost weight
    I no longer sit at a desk for the majority of my 8 hour work day. I am moving around. I drink more water. I eat healthier because there is no vending machine or random candy jar (I know everyone has a colleague at the office with the candy jar). I have been able to lose my baby fat and keep it off.
Retiring from what I knew to venture into the unknown has been more of a blessing than I could ever have imagined. If your side business is growing and quitting your job has been in the back of your mind, make a plan and do it! JUST DO IT! The timing will never be right. Your situation will never be perfect. You have to just take the leap when your spirit says "It's time." This road is a rough one but if you have the mental stamina and a BOMB support team, like I do, you and your business will be better for it.
The Fancy Free Team
Supportive parents, in-laws, aunties, uncles, friends, family and framily not shown.
Photographer: Kyle Pompey
Janky Editing: Yours Truly

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.