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,, 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, March 21, 2018

***How I Do It All

Disclaimer: Do not try to sue me for medical malpractice after you've read this blog. Every procedure that I did not follow was done so in order to save the life of a person in need.
Now that that's out of the way....

Celebrating with my Day Ones. Note Husband and kid in the back.
I recorded a podcast on The Boonie Breakdown last week. Boonie, the host, asked me "How do you find balance?" She wanted to know how I make it all work. How I continue to grow my business, spend time with my family and find time for self care. Up until today, my response to that is always "There is no balance. When you need to focus on something, you have to tilt the scale. It will not be balanced. That's just life. Trying to find balance is a real source of stress for people. It's like a unicorn. It doesn't exist." But in retrospect, that's just not true. I schedule and stick to my schedule. I don't work after certain hours. To make sure I take care of myself, I don't check email until I've completed my morning meditation and workout and I document it on my Instastory for accountability. For the most part, I stick to my routine and have systems in place to eliminate distractions so that I am making the best use of my time. i.e. No notifications on my phone at all. No text notifications. No social media notifications. No email notifications. I check it when I come to a stopping point. Yes, some days I skip my morning work out session to get some work done. Yes, I may let some work sit until the next day so that I can spend time with my son or go on a date with my husband. But today, I realized that my career in healthcare trained me for this entrepreneur life and iainteemknowit.

Can't keep deodorant in stock.
I have someone in my close circle who is just beginning their entrepreneurship journey and has asked me multiple times "How do you do it all? You always seem so happy and not stressed out." I've been telling them "I just do the best I can. That's all I can do. If I've done my best, there's nothing to stress about." Of course I have days when I know I didn't do my best but I don't dwell on it. I forgive myself and use my poor performance as fuel to do better the next day. And there are days when I'm giving it all I've got and nothing seems to be going my way. That's just life. However, I am always making an effort to constantly improve and that is totally different than being hard on yourself. But I never thought about HOW I got that mindset. How did I learn to do that? Like to read it? Here it go...

I worked in the blood bank for all of the 14 years of my career in healthcare. I have seen a lot of tragic situations working in Baltimore City hospitals and in the infamous NIH Research Hospital. There are three types of patients who can possibly bleed to death if they don't get the right type of blood and get it quickly. Gun shot and stab wound victims, certain types of surgery patients, and mothers giving birth. I worked at night for the first 4 years of my career. Two days out of my five day work week, I worked alone. One night, I was working alone and there was a mother of four who had delivered her fifth child. She started to bleed. They asked for 4 units of blood, then another 4. I could hear the panic in the nurse's voice when she was calling me to ask for the third set of 4, making it a total of 12 units of blood they'd be transfusing. That night, in a 250 bed hospital, I knew I only had one patient to tend to, the bleeding mother. I would not have time to deal with any other patients that night. So, I called in one of my co-workers for
My Old Life
back up. We ordered more blood products. We prepped the next batch of blood to go out as soon as they took one batch. We did everything in our power to give the patient care team what they asked for and QUICKLY - including bypass some steps in the procedure. At the end of the night, we had given that lady 21 units of blood, 4 units of platelets and 10 units of plasma. To put things into perspective, a standard transfusion is 2 units of blood, 1 platelet and 2 units of plasma. Transfusing 10 units of blood replaces all of the blood in an average adult body. The women eventually stopped bleeding, recovered and went home to take care of her five children. We did our best. We helped save a mother's life. We felt accomplished and high-fived each other at the end of our shift.

What's the point of that story? I had to remain calm so that I could communicate with the patient care team effectively, make sure I was giving them the correct blood, and properly document where every unit of blood went (cuz you do NOT want to have to be the one explaining to the FDA where you THINK a missing unit of blood went). Imagine if you are the nurse, standing in front of a bleeding patient, a bleeding mother of five, calling for help and the person on the other end of the line is just as frantic as you are. That's not helpful. I spoke with urgency and clarity but never frantic. Praise Jehovah that she survived. There were some nights when the patients did not survive. But EVERY night I "did my best" and that's all I had control over. Imagine how stressed out I would be if I owned every patient death as if it were my fault? Death comes with the territory in healthcare. No one wants blood on their hand - pun intended - but, all you can do is the best you can do and that's it. 

If you give it all you've got and everything comes together perfectly, that's amazing! But if things are spiraling out of control and the tunnel is pitch black, no light in sight, all you have control over is yourself. No matter how bad a situation looks, it always works out in the end. Always give your best performance and be open to whatever the outcome may be. Sometimes it might not be what you had in mind but it's usually for the best.

So there it is, almost 30,000 hours of experience in a blood bank being put in hundreds of situations where I had to be the calm in the eye of the storm, doing my best work to keep someone alive. Even though I knew that they could possibly die anyway EVEN if I "do my best". That's deep. It makes any other thing you go through in life seem trivial. Just thinking "If I panic, someone could die" got me sitting here taking slow breaths. My experience as a Specialist in Blood Banking has trained me to "do my best" and let the chips fall where they may. Who would've ever thought about it that way? LOL! See, this is why it's so important to embrace your journey. Life has so much to teach you if you pay attention.

When you do your best and still lose.
When talking about the 3 stars in the title of  her hit song "Flawless", Beyonce refers to the time the group Girls Tyme had practiced and given the best performance of their lives on Star Search and still lost. She said, “The reality is: sometimes you lose. And you’re never too good to lose. You’re never too big to lose. You’re never too smart to lose. It happens.” She knows that sometimes, you do your best and it's not enough. You don't stop being the best you can be and you don't beat yourself up. You just keep going. Being thankful for opportunity to learn what worked and what didn't. Accept it with grace and enjoy the journey to your best life.

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,, 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, March 10, 2018

The Gift and The Curse

I am married to a doctor. He's a pediatrician. One of the best pediatricians in the Baltimore/DC Metropolitan area (Not up for debate. LOL!). And I'm not saying that because he is my husband. (Wives are very honest critics.) I'm saying it based on feedback from his students, colleagues, higher ups, and most importantly, his patients.

When my husband and I got married, I never thought about what it would be like to have a pediatrician in the house with me when were eventually blessed with children. Most people assume that it's the best thing ever. But sometimes, it can be a real pain in the behind. Husband's are annoying, in general. Parenting adds tension to any marriage. So, just keep those things in mind as I run down the facts about having a child with a pediatrician. This is from a woman's point of view. I say that because there are some things about raising a child that a man just does not understand.

The Gift
The medical care side of raising a kid is amazing. There are so many things that I don't have to think about because my husband just takes care of it. He makes all of our doctor's appointments. He asks all of the right questions. He answers all of the weird questions on that child progress questionnaire. We do not have to visit the doctor's office for non-routine visits. He has a good relationship with our pediatrician. If we need a prescription, he calls her, she calls it in. Because there is an obvious conflict of interest, ethics prevent him from being the official pediatrician to his own child. Like, I cannot make an appointment for our son to be seen by him at his practice. However, if I pop in to bring lunch, one of his colleagues are happy to "take a peak" at our son if we need it.
He is right there with me to answer questions about something that looks "weird". He reassures when our son is "fine". And takes action when our son is not fine. He knows the milestones we should be hitting and when. He also knows the things we should and shouldn't be doing to help our son meet those milestones. He gets hundreds of different perspectives on child rearing from the wide range of types of parents he interacts with, so he gets a myriad of holistic approaches to typical "baby" issues like: how to combat hitting and tantrums, language, solid foods, eczema solutions, potty training techniques, etc.
It's really nice to have a baby father who is so involved and proactive about these things. But can get out of hand.

The Curse
This is the first child for my husband as well. So he is having to eat some of the words of advice that he has given to parents over the 10 years he practiced without having kids of his own. Some things taught in school just don't have any practical place in child rearing.
Exhibit A: On Day 2 of parenthood, we were still in the hospital. We called ourselves "getting use to having a baby", so we decided not to send baby boy to the nursery over night. It was hell. Baby boy was waking up every hour, then just looking at me when I put him to the breast. My husband immediately called the nurse asking for formula (because that's what they do at his hospital), against my preference to strictly breastfeed. His doctor logic was that the baby boy was hungry. I didn't have enough colostrum (even though we had wet and poopy diapers that indicate the baby is eating) and I wouldn't be able to make it if I wasn't getting any sleep. But EYE knew that the baby just wanted to be with me because he could smell me. We had been together for 39 weeks. He didn't know any better. Thank God for the old school Mother/Baby nurses on the unit at GBMC. They denied the formula request, took the baby to the nursery, and told us to get some rest. We slept for 4 hours straight. LOL!
Exhibit B: He was super strict on not letting baby boy sleep in the bed with us and the ABC's of sleeping. Baby should sleep Alone - A, on their Back - B, and in their Crib - C or bassinet. Well, our baby ended up having a flat head so we had to alternate rigging a rolled up blanket so he could sleep on his sides and round his flat head out. LOL! And then those nights that I'd fall asleep nursing....the panic when he'd wake up to a baby in the bed was HILARIOUS! But then he'd fuss at me. Sir, I am a new mother, a wife, a blood bank manager and running a business. I'm TIDE! Sorry, I fell asleep while nursing at midnight. But you were right there. You could've taken baby boy to his bed but you didn't because
you were, what? That's right. SLEEPING!
Exhibit C: A couple months in to parenting, we are getting the hang of nursing. I guess he was observing our
nursing routine and offers (unsolicited advice) that our son was not nursing long enough. He suggested that I hold off for a little while before nursing when baby boy starts the hungry cry. "That way, he will nurse for longer." My reply was simple. "ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!?! We are talking about a human baby here. Not a dog or a puppy. When he wants to eat, I will nurse him."
Exhibit D: Baby Boy is about 9 months old and he did not gain the desired weight over a 2 month period. He proceeds to make me feel like I'm not feeding my child enough and that he was under weight. EVEN THOUGH there was no indicators that our son was hungry or malnourished. He was proceeded to press me to pump 30 oz. of breast milk per day! Ummm...whet?!?! How am I suppose to do that when I am barely pumping 15 oz. per day? Dis skressful, mane.
Exhibit E: Our son has an isolated speech delay. That means that autism and hearing loss have been ruled out and he still isn't talking. Our son is very intelligent. He imitates when he wants to actions. And since I work from home, there were multiple doctor appointments made for me to take baby boy to. Hundreds spent on unproductive, private speech therapy sessions. The whole time, I'm thinking that our son is fine, just stubborn. Sure enough, 2 months before his 2nd birthday, baby boy is starting to use words, sing his ABCs and imitate us more. Although he's not up to the milestone of 50 words, he's fine. Like I said he was in the first place.

My husband sees at least 100 different kids each week. From 5 days old all the way up to 24 years old. So, it's easy to compare his own kid to these kids and their levels of development. As we approach two full years of parenting, I hear Doctor Dad saying "All kids are different." a lot more often than I'm hearing him say "He's supposed to be _______ by now."

Yes. I know. #FirstWorldProblems However, I just wanted to put it out that that having a pediatrician baby father can be just as stressful as a non-healthcare baby father.  I guess parenthood is stressful in general. 🤦 Some times I just wanted to do what I wanted to do with my baby without hearing anyone's mouth, ya know.

My Fancy Life ain't been no crystal stair. 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,, 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.