Monday, January 22, 2018

I'm TIRED of being humble...

Lol! Really, Ray J? Who says that? In real life? And means it? It was pretty funny when he said
it though.

I went to University of Maryland - College Park, which means that when I was in my 20s, I partied in DC. My husband was attending Howard University when we started dating, so we went out in DC while we were dating. I. Hated. Going. Out. In. DC. Mainly because the crowds seemed sooooo pretentious to me back then. I felt like giving your resume was standard practice when you met someone. Ugh! STFU! I DO NOT CARE what you do for a living. We are at the club, not a networking event. Your job title is not WHO you are. It's what you do. STOP THIS! On God, I don't even know what my real friends do for a living. Like, people who have been in my life for 30 years, I don't know the details of their job function unless we have worked together. You know why? Because that's not why we're friends.

My husband is pretty popular. Very popular. I like to think that I am more low key than he is. I try to stay out of the way, travel, and have fun with my same 10 friends - cuz no new friends. LOL! I love y'all though. I never really cared to know and be known by EVERYONE. So obviously, when the pretty girl, that know one has ever seen before, is all of the sudden engaged to Mr. Howard University (That's what I called my husband even though he did not garner the official title), people had questions. He is loved by everyone, so without knowing anything about me or our relationship, they assumed I was a "gold digger" only dating him because he was about to be a doctor. 

FIRST OF ALL! 🤣🤣🤣🤣 That's always funny. Anyway, my point is people would ask me what I did for a living. And I'd be kind of offended. Like why do you need to know that? Are you trying to count MY money? I'm a waitress. I'm a stripper. I'm an illegal arms dealer. I'm a paper clip bender. Didn't you see me on House Hunters? Seriously, what does it matter? I'm not asking you for money and since no one really knows what a medical laboratory scientist is or does anyway, INCLUDING doctors who rely on medical laboratories to make some pretty important decisions regarding their patients, I made a game out of not telling people what I really did for a living. Mainly because yelling "I'M A BOSS!" when you're not a rapper is frowned upon.
But here's the conflict....

Now that I am a business owner, I need to promote myself and my business whenever I have a chance and it makes me uncomfortable because I have always avoided talking about my profession in social settings. How do you create a conversation around who you are and not what you do for a living? What do I do? I create. I save. I lead. I encourage. I connect. I help. I do all of these things because that's who I am. I am a creator. Creating products for "us" because "the man" markets products with unhealthy ingredients that counter my customer's hair and skin goals. I save edges and elbows. I am a leader. Leading by action to show people that they can live in their purpose too. I am a helper. I help people tackle their dry hair and skin. I help people avoid cancer and body odor by manufacturing an aluminum free deodorant that actually works and doesn't break them out. I help other small business owners create product lines of their own through product development and manufacturing quality products for them. I connect people with my network so they can build relationships in line with their own goals.

Part of who I am is being "regular". I don't like to make a big deal about what I have and projects that I'm working on because I've conditioned myself to not want people to think I'm bragging. Yes. I know. How people interpret what I say is a reflection of them, not me. But, like I said, I've conditioned myself over the years to play what I've accomplished down. My husband calls it humble. I just say I'm out here living in my purpose, doing what I'm supposed to do, it's not a big deal. Or is it? 🤔 I always kick myself when someone compliments my hair and/or skin and I can't find a way to tell them about my products.

Things I work on in therapy: having empathy and ways to get over myself so I can promote myself. The truth is that I am an introvert and my previous life as a managing scientist did not require networking or much self promotion. So, talking period, let alone, talking about myself does not come naturally for me. Cuz closed mouths don't get fed and Fancy got a family to feed.

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, January 15, 2018

Brain Washed

Disclaimer: I don't watch television. I used to. I want to. I love to be entertained. I just find myself
Amara La Negra
trying to do so much in one day that I look up and it's time to go to sleep. I don't want to be one of those people who says "I don't have time to watch tv." or "I'm too focused to watch tv." I just run out of time at the end of the day. I DO scan social media and have group text with my friends who watch tv.

Love and Hip Hop Miami has me intrigued. Once I'm done with all of my goals for January, I will definitely be sitting down to indulge in that. First of all, the cast has established music artists. Trick Daddy is one of my favorites. While I don't listen to much latin music, Amara La Negra caught my attention. She is beautiful and strong. I know she's strong because she has been in the music industry for many years and remained true to herself. A thick, brown beauty with a flourishing afro. She is popping. But that doesn't stop a producer from trying to tell her that she needs to change her look. Ummm...exsqueeze me? I was so proud of her for standing up for herself. 

You see, I used to be one of those people who thought that you needed straight hair for formal events or when you got "dressed up". Big hair don't care until you're in a gown. Then it's fried, died and laid to the side. LOL! Praise Jehovah for an awakening. Don't get me wrong. If' that's what you prefer, then that's what you prefer. But it's definitely not a requirement. Who decided that edges had to be smooth and pulled tight? Who says that I won't look classy with the same bush I wear everyday? I feel like make up and the wardrobe makes the look, hair is the compliment. Again. My personal preference. 

And the hair accessories really took my
look to the next level. 😍
When planning my wedding vow renewal, my sister's were asking me how I was going to wear my hair after I found my dress and offered suggestions. All of which included straight hair. I told them I was not straightening my hair for this. One of my sister's response was "I don't think a natural style will go with that dress" *clutches pearls* Bish whet!?!? I caught myself and responded in love. This is my day. I am who I am. I like natural styles. I am the natural hair "guru". What I look like wearing straight hair on this special day. I am supposed to be setting an example and paving the way. I will be wearing my hair in a style that does not require straightening, weave or wig. It's what I like. I wore my "natural style" with my elegant gown and looked beautiful. No stressing over maintaining straight hair while on vacation. Hmph! 

For so many years, African American women have been subjected to all kinds of torture trying to make their hair do something it's not designed to do. Leading to scalp sores, damaged hair, baldness, and other issues in extreme cases. For years, we were told that locs were "unprofessional" and got foul looks for wearing our hair in styles that enhances the natural curls instead of trying to tame them. There have been so many news worthy stories of school and policy changes as young girls and women are not only opting out of straight hair and tightly pulled ponytails but we are letting our afros flourish. It's 2018, an afro does not indicate militancy. (I'm sure a lot of the policies about hair were based on the hair style of choice back in the Civil Rights movement and the emergence of Black Power. We see you) We are woke and more powerful now than ever before. We will sue the pants off of any corporation if we find out that we were denied an opportunity because of our hairstyle.

Personal preference is just that. Personal preference. But once you start trying to impose your opinion on me, we have a problem. Let me be me. Whether it's curly, kinky, wavy or straight. Short or long hair doesn't make me more or less feminine, professional or classy. Jehovah made me in his image. I choose to honor Him by not subjecting my hair toxic chemicals and damaging hairstyling techniques. You choose to honor Him in ways that suit you. Different strokes for different folks. But leave me out of your choices and preferences. Now....if you ask my opinion, that's a different story. LOL!

It makes me sad when people think that they HAVE to be something they're not. Elegance does not require straight hair, Mr. Young Hollywood. Elegance comes from within. Like style and grace. An Afro can be just as elegant as a long, flowing hair or a beautifully coiffed up-do. Leave us out of your closed minded view of what is beautiful. Hmph!


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, January 8, 2018

Trickle Down Economics

Baltimore, MD is my home town. It's where I grew up. It's where I live now. Not in the suburbs of the city but actually within the city limits. I like to say I live smack dab in the middle. I wasn't within the Freddie gray riots but I smoke from the burning CVS could be seen from my front yard. I pay astronomically high property taxes and a ridiculously expensive water bill. Those things are more expensive in the city than in the county but the trade off is that we are literally no more than 30 minutes from anything we need to get to. So, we spend less time in our car and more time actually with the people we love. My husband's commute to work is less than 15 minutes, so we save on maintenance for his car. I am also committed to investing within the city. When I buy and hold a property as a rental, it's in the city. I also do most of my shopping and other activities in the the city. Which means, I support the city I live in try recycle my dollar within my community when ever possible.

When I was growing up, the mayor at the time, Kurt Schmoke, deemed Baltimore as the "City that reads." to encourage literacy and education. But the recent state of Baltimore City Public School System and the cities priorities in general indicate the city could care less about educating our children let alone the literacy of the entire city population.

This is all our fault. When I say "our" fault, I mean the type of African-Americans who used to make up the majority of the city's population, seem to have made a bee line for the "county" when they "made it". Yes, some of us still work in the city and own property in the city but it's not the same as being here. If you live in the county and work in the city, you still shop and do most of your extracurricular activities near where you live because it's convenient. This supports the community that you live in. Supports jobs, government funded functions, and other factors of the economy that most people don't think about. You are more likely to invest time and resources to the upkeep of the community you live in, whether you own or rent, just because you live there. Meanwhile, the population of the city is dwindling. The number of vacant residential properties are at an all time high. No one is around to defend the communities we all grew up in. We are too good to live in the "trap" that made us who we are. Now, those communities are failing and the city is failing our children because we aren't around to clap on them. The ones who know things aren't right are not here to hold elected officials accountable for the poor decisions they make regarding investing in our city.

Let us count the ways:
1. The casino
The Horseshoe Casino was built under the impression that a portion of it's revenue would go to our education system, but that money does not go to the education fund. It goes to a general fund that can be used for anything really. The "City that reads" didn't read that detail in the legislation. The dwindling population didn't turn out in droves to vote it down or demand an amendment prior to setting the plan.
2. Politicians being politicians
It's no secret that we've have a succession of mayors who didn't put the city's needs before their own. But that's the nature of politics. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. However, when you have a city full of unaware citizens, no one fights to hold these "leaders" accountable and yet they keep getting voted into office term after term because "we" vote based on popularity and name recognition instead of the issues. There is no way developers should have been allowed to receive as many tax benefits as they receive for investing into Harbor East without giving back to our destitute communities right around the corner. But I digress.
3. Baltimore City Public School Administration is just as political as elected officials
Between misappropriating funds, poor budget allocation choices, and less than stellar hiring and firing practises, the leadership in BCPSS should be ashamed. Experienced teachers being forced into retirement due to clashes with egotistical principles. Teach for America newbies in a classroom with our babies having no idea how to nurture and encourage them. The list goes on. However, BCPSS ain't got no shame cuz there is no one to keep them in check. Those of us who "made it" and fled to the county don't have children being educated by BCPSS so we care but not as much as we'd care if our babies were effected. What's left? Some of us who "made it" and stayed in the city but we have the resources to send our children to private schools, so our children aren't necessarily being effected by poor leadership on North Avenue either. There are far more unengaged citizens sending their children to BCPSS than engaged ones. The home environment for some of these children is even colder than going to school in an unheated building. At least there's food for them and maybe one or two teachers who show them love. We are talking about communities who have been ran through and extorted by the drug trade. Communities that look like war zones due to absentee investors who buy properties in
Baltimore City and leave them to rot without keeping them in condition to be occupied with no penalty. (I am VERY salty about this part cuz they have long money and I've been outbid several times by investors who don't live here. They overpay and then let the properties sit because it's out of the scope to actually renovate after overpaying. 🙄🙄🙄 I digress) Studies show that the involved parent gets the results. Informed parents get the resources. With Baltimore City having the highest rate of intravenous drug abuse and a generational deterioration of the black family due to the school to prison pipeline, you can say that a large percentage of the parents are not involved in much of their children's education in Baltimore City.

And then we have this systematic racism that has trickled down to 2018 without us calling it out and demanding a "recount"🤦. Racism and the policies still in place to support it effects major cities all over the country. The state of Baltimore City Public School System goes way beyond buildings that need renovation and updated HVAC systems. If my career in health care and journey as an entrepreneur taught me anything, it's that we all have to work together. No one system operates in a vacuum. In order to elect officials who are going to make decisions in the best interest of our communities and our children, we need more engaged citizens residing, shopping, having fun and voting in our city for policies that benefit our citizens and not just an elite few. We need to set the example for the children in our communities that think there is no hope for them. We do that by living in among them. Engaging day to day. Keeping our properties maintained. Picking up the trash. Having conversations with them and not judging them. Showing them better ways so that they do better. Your presence is a present. You have more of an impact than you know.

In the meantime, you can find Fancy working behind the scenes supporting efforts that teach our Baltimore brothers and sisters skills and not teaching them to rely on handouts. I live by the motto "If it is to be, it's up to me." If it doesn't exist, I am responsible for creating it or at least collaborating with someone who has already in the process of creating. My personal plan for how I intend to engage in the community beyond my home is laid out in my iFundWomen fundraising campaign. Check it out, donate, share it with your network. I'm starting with the (wo)man in the mirror.  How about you?

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.

 

My Struggles With Colored Hair

This one time, I was out with my husband and saw this girl with a beautiful blond bush. He said, "DO IT! I'll pay for it." I don't think he considered how much hair color costs. Like good hair color, done
a by a color specialist. It can cost a grip. Plus I had vowed to never color my hair again after getting highlights back in 2006 and experiencing thee worst dry and damaged hair. LOL! My hairstylist, who transitioned my relaxed hair to natural and does my maintenance, would say "I will make you some clip ins. I am not dealing with your hair and color."

However, some things had changed since my stylist first told me she was never coloring my hair. I was getting bored with my dusty brown, yet healthy, hair and she had since become an Aveda instructor and THEE go-to color specialist
in her salon and, quite possibly, the entire city of Baltimore. We talked about color again and she didn't suggest clip ins, so I made my appointment and went for it, with my husband's credit card in tow. Five hours and $500 later, I had reddish hair with honey blond highlights. My curl pattern was still intact. I was in love. My husband was in love too. My summer hair was EVERYTHING!

Charda, my stylist, recommended some shampoo and conditioner for my color treated hair, but when I looked at the price, I said to myself "Ummmm...let me try this here Shea Moisture for color treated hair." BIG. MISTAKE. My hair felt so dry and brittle. It began reverting (when your twist out doesn't hold the curl pattern any longer) almost immediately after taking my twists out when I could usually get a week or two out of the style. For my hair, this was sign of damage. I was distraught. So I called Charda. I went in for a "treatment" - my words, not hers
- and my hair was back to feeling soft and nourished for a while. I sucked it up and bought the shampoo and conditioner she had recommended, then found a Shea Moisture conditioner that worked better for my color treated hair than the regular one I was using.

Moral: Listen to your stylist! Use the products they recommend.

I colored my hair in July 2016. It's been over a year and the color is almost grown out. I don't think I'll lighten my hair again any time soon. If I'm feeling like I need color, I'll get a dark rinse to coat my hair and make it shiney. Light hair is pretty to look at but bleaching it to lighten (No matter what the stylist or the product packaging says, lightening your hair requires some kind of bleach which is damaging) make dry hair even more dry. And with this thick, kinky hair, I just don't want to deal with it being dry and feeling unmanageable. Dry hair leads to breakage and all the extraneous trips to the salon for "treatments" to treat the dry hair add up. Salon trips in 2016 could be squeezed in the budget but in 2017....ain't NO wiggle room in this full-time entrepreneur's hair budget. LOL!

If you're thinking about coloring your hair:

  1. GO TO A PROFESSIONAL! I cannot say that enough. Someone who is, not only licensed, but who also stays current on the most effective products and techniques. Charda applied a technique for coloring my thick and kinky hair to prevent damage. 
  2. Think about the costs beyond the initial applications. Just like transitioning from having a relaxer to natural, the way you maintain your hair and the products you use should change because your hair has been changed and is changing. If you don't want to invest in the products and increased visits to the salon, be prepared for your hair to dry out and break off, requiring you to cut it because, I don't care what anyone tells you, you have to cut damaged hair off.
  3. Pay attention to your hair afterward. Your hair is a part of your body. It tells you when something isn't right. Fairy knots mean it's time for a trim. Not holding a style or other curl means you need a "treatment". 
I'm just keeping it real with you. I still use my Fancy Free products for moisturizing and styling but the way I shampoo'd my hair had to change. Read my updated Fancy Hair blog for the list of products I am using now.



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, January 1, 2018

2017: The Year In Review

In September, I started Darren Hardy's Insane Productivity program because I needed help figuring out ways that I could be more productive in a shorter amount of time. No more all-nighters. No sitting on the couch with a laptop when you have a toddler. One of the things I learned through this program was that I was spending WAY too much time on my phone. Text messages. Group chat. And the biggest time consumer, social media. So I hired a virtual assistant to do my business related posts and put my phone away. 

But no one wants to do business with someone who ONLY has something to say when it's about their business. So, if you are my Facebook friend or follow me on Twitter, you know I stared posting once daily. #FancyLifeDaily and #FancyFreeDaily. Anything I might have posted during the day, I list it in one post at the end of the day when I start looking at my phone. That is only after I have completed my work. In the spirit of the new year. Here is my #FancyFreeLifeYear or whatever.
  1. I'm ALIVE!!
    I know. But I had to say it, since I almost died in 2016. It kind of set the tone for how I have started living the rest of my life. I am present wherever I am. I focus more on moments and making memories than accumulating things. You know, alive and living. 
  2. Family life is good.
    My son is healthy and happy. A slight speech delay but he's a stubborn Taurus and understands everything, so my diagnosis is that he will talk eventually. My husband and I are doing great. We are communicating well. We are sexing regularly. We are speaking each other's love languages. We celebrated 10 years of marriage and we celebrated in a big way.
  3. I am growing.
    I started going to therapy regularly in 2013 when I thought I wanted to leave my husband. I had some things to figure out. I still go to therapy. But I've graduated from 1 session per week to 1 session per month. As my therapist says "You've gotta keep your crazy in check." Not that I'm crazy, per se, but life can really throw you some curve balls that will make you think you're losing it. I addressed some non-spouse relationship issues. Lots of them. I still cut people off but I have also learned to love people for who they are and not have any expectations. Man. That really takes a load off. I have invested a lot of time and money into personal development. Well, more than I have ever invested in prior years. I just want to be my best self. 
  4. I'm a full time entre-po-n......
    One thing that a near death experience will teach you is that life is short. No need to waste time doing something that you don't love and spending so much time at a place you'd rather not be....like work. No. I don't remember what happened, I was unconscious. However, the thought of leaving my husband to raise our son, really put some things into perspective. Quitting my job at the end of March, when we had decided I'd quit in July, was one of thee most scary things I have ever done. We took the risk and neither one of us have any regrets. While things can get hairy with our finance at times. I am MUCH happier with how my work days go. And happiness is a more valuable currency than dollar bills. To me at least.
  5. My business is growing.
    One of the reasons I decided to retire from healthcare was because my business grew 500% in it's second year without me investing much time and effort into it. So I decided to focus all of my time and VIOLA! It's growing. I have launched four new products in 2017. I have a team. The possibilities of expansion are plentiful. I am thankful. I am blessed. 
2017 has been my best year yet. I have definitely had some ups and downs. A few moments of crying in my closet. Occasionally feeling like a failure. But I kept going. I keep doing. I pray. I have put my pride aside. I listen. I go with my gut or that whisper from Jehovah guiding me. I am open to opportunities. My network is expanding. I consider all suggestions and criticisms. I cannot wait for 2018 to unfold. What are you excited about in 2018?

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.