Thursday, March 26, 2020

Five Years of Fancy Free

I am a scientist. I am also a natural hairstylist. I grew up in a salon. I styled natural hair in my college dorm room while in undergrad and I worked as a natural hairstylist in a salon while in graduate school. I had a relaxer though. But in 2010, all of that changed. I decided to grow my relaxer out. And that is how Fancy Free Hair & Skin got started.

If you haven't heard the story, here ya go....
In 2011, I cut the last few inches of straight ends off of my hair and ran to Target to pick up a jar of Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding to the tune of $29.99. I hated it. It left my hair sticky and flaky. I returned it for a refund the next day. I spent the next few months trying different products and styling techniques until I figured out that a wet twist out was what worked for me. There was one problem, my hair would still feel dry and brittle using what was available to me. From my natural hairstylist experience, I knew I needed a heavy, shea butter based product. Not waxy, pure shea butter or beeswax. That was too difficult to work with. I also didn't want it to smell like Dax Hair Grease. I wanted to smell like juices and berries. LOL! In 2012, I ventured to a Natural Hair Expo and found a product made by a natural hairstylist out of North Carolina. The texture was perfect but the smell was overwhelming. And she took forever to ship. And it was kind of pricey. So, I looked at the ingredients and decided that the ingredients list was simple enough for me to make something similar. So, I started making my own "pomade" to use for my wet twist outs.

The Whip Technique

The only problem was that I was using a "melt and pour" manufacturing technique, which required a waiting period to allow the product to cool and solidify. This is only a problem when you live with a clutz who can accidentally spill your precious hair product all over the refrigerator and kitchen floor while looking for a snack. During a lunch time, husband bashing session at work, I told my work aunties about my husband wasting my hair product and my favorite work auntie said "Girl, I know. My daughter is 4 and makes messes too. Just whip it so you don't have to worry about melting and it's ready to use immediately." That was 2012. I've been whipped ever since. I whipped for me. I whipped for my newly natural sisters. I whipped for my close, close friends. All my peeps' hair and elbows were flourishing. The result, flourishing hair. I started getting a lot of questions about the products I was using and my styling techniques while out and about.

The Hair Consultant

Keep in mind that I am a scientist. At this time, I was spending about 6 hours/day in an office,
looking at paperwork and a computer, cultivating my inner introvert. I didn't need to talk to my staff much, so when random women would approach me asking really detailed questions about my hair routine, it made me uncomfortable. I wanted to help but I needed space and time to mentally prepare to shift into Natural Hairstylist mode. In 2014, Fancy Free Natural Hair Consults was born. I made business cards. I'd answer up to three questions while out and about. If they asked a 4th question, I'd give them a business card and suggest that they schedule an appointment for a consultation. Cuz ain't no free "pick your brain" sessions in the grocery store line. All jokes aside, Fancy Free Natural Hair Consults was not established to make money. I did not promote or market services. This concept was birthed to create boundaries for my introvert self and establish the value I had to offer. 
I still offer consultations. We discuss hair routine, hair goals, hair care and hair products. In the early days, I'd give my clients a sample of my whipped shea butter concoction WITH THE RECIPE (I've since improved the recipe and manufacturing technique) and send them on their way. Except, my clients didn't want to make the product themselves, they wanted to buy it.

"Sell this" - Chezia, the fixer

February 2015, my girlfriend, who is like a sister, was at my house. We were getting dressed to go to a gala. She knew I was whipping shea butter but had never tried it. She saw me dipping my hands in this tupperware container and using the contents as body butter. So she did the same. Her response was "Sell this". If you have ever met Chezia, she is very even tempered. She doesn't get excited or emotional about anything. I interpreted "Sell this" as "This is good. Really good." So, I decided to make some samples to put in the swag bags for a gala we were planning for the next month, March 2015. I didn't know what sample containers were supposed to look like and ended up ordering jars that looked like pill bottles. I printed at work. No graphic designer, just the logo I was using for my umbrella company that housed my multi-level marketing business and some other ventures my husband and I were working on. Fancy Free Hair & Skin was up and running.

Unofficially Official

I was legit selling product in a clear tub
I didn't make any official announcement, have a launch party, or make a big reveal. I was just taking orders by phone and sending a PayPal invoice. If you know me, process improvement is my passion, so I swiftly made an improvement on that by launching an Etsy page for just the one product. That's all it took to be in business. A quality product and a platform to sell. No business plan. No huge start up team or investors. I never set out to start a business...it just happened. Now look at me.

In 2016, I took on my first private label manufacturing client and started the Product Development and Private Label Manufacturing division of Fancy Free Hair & Skin. I support other small businesses looking to create a product line. I am a firm believer in collaboration over competition. Black people have it hard enough. We don't need to be so hard on each other. But that's another blog for another day.

2020 Vision

My life plan was to be the manage of a Blood Bank for 10-15 years and then get promoted to
Laboratory Administrator where I would retire. But Jehovah had other plans for me. Building a multi-level marketing company opened my eyes to lifestyles that I never considered. I became open minded on how I made money and wanted to get more out of my daily life than sit in an office. I started Fancy Free Hair & Skin on a whim and it grew 500% on it's own in the second year. I was shocked but I recognized the potential it had if I actually put effort into growing it. Earning potential and positive impact on my Fancy Friend's health. (I've researched the data on carcinogenic ingredients used at a higher percentage in personal care products marketed to African-American women compared to other groups.) 
Each day, I get to do what I love. I took a leap of faith in 2017 and Jehovah has blessed me abundantly. I am in a space where I am creating the life I want to live everyday. There are challenges. I have good days and bad days. Some months I turn a profit, some months I don't. Every year, my company grows. I am able to provide employment opportunities to the Q-munity and live by example. If you show love to the hood, the hood will love you back.

These last five years have been the most challenging and invigorating five years of my life. Thank you for taking this ride with me.

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.









Friday, February 28, 2020

I Stopped Eating Like A Fat @$$

Three Days After Giving Birth
Losing weight after having a baby is hard. Let me count the ways:
  1. Losing weight starts in the kitchen, not the gym.
  2. From the moment that I found out I was pregnant, I was eating ALL OF THE FOOD! 
  3. After close to 36 weeks of eating whatever, you spend another 12 months or so eating about 2000 calories each day to support your milk supply.
  4. Losing weight may require restricting carbs but my breast milk supply dwindles without carbs. So I had to eat carbs.
  5. I work at home, in the kitchen, where I live with 2 little mousies (husband and son) who like to snack and never put their snacks away after the partake. Of course, I'm gonna have a mini oreo or two or three before I put them back in the snack cabinet.
My Favorite Snack
You get my drift. The odds are not in my favor here at the Fancy Factory. So, how did I do it? I just decided. I decided that I was tired of not looking how I wanted to look in my clothes. I was tired of not feeling my best. I was tired of squeezing my brains out with spanx and seeing my FUPA anyway. I was tired. It's just like being an addict who needs to kick the habit. Only the addict can decide when it's time. I decided. I decided that I wasn't gonna eat like a fat ass no mo'.

Fitness

Working out has never been a problem for me. I've always had a regular fitness routine, even in college when my average weight was about 120 lbs. I just never had to really watch my diet. I ate pretty healthy but never felt like I had to restrain my sweet tooth. Give me ALL of the chocolate chip cookies, brownies with ice cream, molten chocolate cake, and sweet tea. LOL! 

Felt Cute But Wasn't Excited
When I Look At This Picture
After having my first kid, I came home from the hospital weighing roughly 200 lbs. But he was a spring baby so I started walking 1 - 2 miles per day when he was about 3 weeks old. The weight dropped quickly but then I went back to work, sitting at a desk, I was stuck at about 175 lbs. Womp. At 9 months postpartum, I got serious and adapted the 21 Day Fix meal plan. I dropped 11 lbs in 21 days and kept going. The down side to that was my milk supply suffered so I ended up weaning my son at 10 months when I really wanted to nurse him for a year. I eased up on the dietary restrictions but was able to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight and maintain it. If you have a husband, you know how they can be haters sometimes. I got knocked up again. SMH

I weighed in at 215 lbs. before I delivered my daughter, the second child. I came home from the hospital weighing 198 lbs. This time I knew what to do, it was just a matter of doing it. What I didn't realize was, I wasn't as active as I was with my son. I was doing my little 25 - 30 minute Beach Body on Demand exercises but I was feeling like it wasn't enough. What was I missing? Aaaahhhhh, the walking. Since my daughter was born in November, getting outside to walk wasn't ideal and I had given my treadmill away to make room for Fancy Factory operations. Plus, having two kids takes a longer adjustment period. Shit. We're still adjusting 15 months later. LOL!

Once my daughter hit 8 months, I was over being fat. I got serious about my diet.....again. I had to be careful though because I didn't want my milk to dry up.

Food

Here's is what my daily menu looks like:
  • Drink 90 - 100 oz. of water with lemon slices per day (I refill my 24 oz. container 4-5 times/day and refresh the lemon slices daily)
  • Breakfast
    • Green Smoothie with protein: Handful of spinach, half a banana, scoop of Thrive protein, water (any kind of milk, including non-dairy, has a rack of carbs)
    • Accompanied with
      • Flax & Oats Oatmeal (for milk production, I stopped eating this after I stopped nursing. Oatmeal has a rack of carbs.) OR
      • Avocado toast with fried egg (Ezekiel toast, guacamole, fried egg on top) OR
      • One boiled egg
    • 8 oz. of Coffee with flavored creamer only. No sugar.
  • Morning snack (cuz you've gotsta have a snack)
    • Celery with peanut butter OR
    • One serving of fruit
  • Lunch
    • 4 oz./One chicken tenderloin (seasoned and frozen, cooked in the air fryer for 8 minutes at 380 degrees)
    • Salad
  • Afternoon snack
    • One serving of Fruit OR
    • Popcorn
  • Dinner
  • May 2019 vs. November 2019
    • Protein
    • Veggie
    • Glass of red wine (sometimes. Gimme a break. I have two toddlers that drive me crazy.)
  • Dessert (usually under 200 calories) This can get tricky but I keep dark chocolate around the house for those chocolate cravings. Dark chocolate is healthier for you than milk chocolate. Like red wine compared to white wine.
    • One Chocolate Peanut Butter Bite (Using dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips) OR
    • A little sliver of cake OR
    • One or two squares of dark chocolate OR
    • One fresh baked chocolate chip cookie OR
    • One or Two Mini Oreos OR
    • Brush my teeth and go to bed. (When I've had a bad day and couldn't stick to the meal plan)
Dassit! The weekend can get pretty sketchy. If you get a stomach virus or flu, that helps. I'm laughing but serious. I have started doing a quarterly 2 day juice cleanse. The juice cleanse is a healthy substitute for a stomach virus or the flu. Hahahahahaha!!! I also drink some Smooth Move tea each night just to get the waste moving out, ya know. If you are holding onto waste, you are holding on to weight. Let it out! The tea is very helpful when I didn't quite drink enough water the previous day.

Document! Document! Document! Just like with anything, what gets measured is what gets done. I use an app to document everything. My Fitness Pal is a great app that tracks, documents, charts, and reminds you to eat, workout or whatever you need help with. I use it to document my meals to monitor my calories and nutrient portions, water intake, daily weight, waist measurements, and daily steps.

I eat the same things everyday. This works for me. I eliminate decision fatique and it's easy for me to pack my lunch and snack when I'm in deez streets. Packing my lunch and snacks prevents me from eating out....sometimes.

Fitness

If we are friends on social media, you probably get tired of seeing my work out pictures #MorningsAreForMoms. While I know that I don't have to workout everyday to be healthy, I NEED that time to myself. Going to the gym is really the only time of the day that I get to myself. I'm not interrupted by phone calls, emails, staff calling my name, kids crawling all over me, a husband asking me questions. Just me and my music or audio book. I COULD work out at home but husbands and kids can be haters. It's the best $10 I could spend on myself. I post my daily workout to hold myself accountable and to encourage my Fancy Friends. It's amazing how showing that you're working on yourself can encourage someone to work on themselves as well. I see improvement in my stamina and strength everyday. I feel better about my day when I've worked out in the morning. I know that if my whole day goes to shit and I don't get anything done as planned, at least I exercised. I got ONE win for the day.





I hope this helps someone who is feeling discouraged. Some days are easier than others. PMS is the hardest for food. Getting to the gym is hardest when I'm on my cycle. But I give myself grace and rest when my body gives me signs that I need to rest. However, I don't let rest day turn into rest week, so I even workout on vacation. I don't let one bad food choice turn into a bad food week. I take it day by day. I get excited for the small wins because the small wins add up to losing. Losing weight.


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.






Sunday, January 12, 2020

Let Me Get My Attorney on the Line

Doing fake lab stuff for the camera.
I was really measuring though so maybe it was real lab stuff.
Fancy Free Hair & Skin has officially been in business since 2015. I didn't actually start taking it seriously until 2016 when my revenue increased by 500%. If you don't know by now, I am a scientist. I am good at this lab stuff. Real good. It's my jam. Starting, running and growing a business....well, that's another story. So, I've been educating myself. Enrolling in programs. Building relationships with more experienced business owners so they will mentor me. I don't know what I don't know and you can't always rely on Google. I mean, there's a lot on the interwebs but there comes a time in business where you need real business help from real business experts in order to grow.

I said all of that to build up to my story line. LOL! Every training program I've been to talks about having your advisory board or something like that. It should consist of a business banker, a business accountant, and a business lawyer. I am so blessed to be surrounded by black girl magic in my family, so business attorney was one of the first positions that I was able to fill. My cousin is an attorney and her business is to provide legal advice and services to small businesses, Be Bossy, LLC. Well, would you look at God. So, I've had a business attorney since day one. Ms. Bossy got me all set up with trademark and copyrighting. Most importantly, she has been instrumental with contract reviews.

I love womens more than him though.
Let's get to the nitty gritty. The hardest part about growing a business is branding and marketing. If you are a creative, this is hard because you want to create and you have all of these great ideas. You probably don't communicate well, so how will you concisely communicate how great your creation is? You hire a marketing professional. Some marketing companies specialize in branding, others in creating content for social media. I have both. Once I was solid on what I wanted to communicate (Thanks to The Audacity Group), I was good to go with hiring a social media manager to generate and post content. The first two weren't necessarily a good fit. I did a quick google search and selected a third. Based on my on-boarding process, I thought I had it right with the third company. Third times the charm, right? I should've known from the beginning when #3 - as I will refer to them from this point forward - boasted of being a black owned company and then assigned a white woman to be my account manager. Let me jot that down again...
This black owned company assigned a white woman to manage my social media for my black owned company marketing products to black womens - with an s. 😒

After some delay, I got my content from #3 and it was just okay. Some typos. Some things I would've
done differently with font but whatever, just start posting cuz I had been doing it myself for 3 days and I was exhausted. Then I noticed that 3 days had gone by with nothing posted. I went to look at the calendar I approved and it was only through the November 15. So, I'm like wait, did I miss an email on the 12th, 13th or 14th? Did they send something for me to approve and I missed it? No. Nothing. I get an email from my account manager telling me about a connectivity issue with my Facebook Business manager, which is what is used to manage paid ads. Ummmm.....that's fine but what does that have to do with you generating content for posting? 👀
Actual photograph of me reviewing that content
Let's look at the timeline, no posting for November 16, 17, 18. Also, there is no content to approve. Seems like there was no intention to even post or resolve the connectivity issue IF that had anything to do with actual posting.

I can't call my account manager directly so I schedule an appointment to talk with her. We speak on November 19. We work through the connectivity issue together. She explains that she is working with a Facebook specialist but they are slow. Ok. She also tells me that I will have content to approve for posting on the next day, Nov. 20. After our call, I spent 2 hours playing around with Facebook Business manager and fix it. Nov. 20 comes and goes. No content. Nov. 21 comes and almost goes and I shoot her an email asking for my content. Nothing. Nov. 22 comes, I get the content. This time it has maaaaaaddddd grammatical errors. They used pictures of old products I don't use any more from a folder marked "old Product Pics". Come one y'all. I started to correct, make comments, and then I'm like "Fcuk this! They're fired. I don't have time to deal with this a week before Black Friday." And to add insult to injury, none of holiday deals were included in the calendar. At that moment, I knew it was over for #3.

We're now at day 8 of #3 not posting on my social media. My response to the content was "I'm very disappointed in the amount of grammatical errors. This content looks low quality and thrown together. Thank you for your time." My account manager asks to allow her team to fix it on Nov 25. "No thank you. I'm going to end this relationship. I will no longer be using this company".
The account manager responds on Dec. 2. THE SECOND DAY IN DECEMBER! Which means I've been having to manage my social media on my own for over 2 weeks and, most importantly, through the holidays. Her email read "I'm sorry but I can't let you out of your 3 month contract." LET ME?!?! *Drake vc* Ma'am....ma'am. You don't have to let me do anything because you didn't do what you were paid to do. What she didn't know was that I had already called the bank on Nov 26 and stopped payment on their ACH withdrawal. So, when my phone started ringing on Dec 6 all I could do was laugh. I check my email "I tried to call you a couple times today...."
Picture taken of me while on
that call....unbothered.

First of all, bitch. Make an appointment. The same way I made an appointment when I needed to speak to you after you didn't post to my account for 3 days. I am very busy and I don't just take random phone calls that I'm not expecting. Second of all, I said what I said. IDGAF about the length of the contract. I DO know that you ain't do what you were supposed to do so I'm not gonna KEEP paying y'all. Only an idiot would pay for the third month.
So, we make an appointment and she calls with her director on the line. I'm "ok"-ing them to death cuz there's really nothing to talk about. I could tell that her director, another white woman, was more pissed about me stopping payment than anything. Girl, what part of "I said what I said" don't you understand? The director decides to "research" how my account was handled to decide if they will continue to pursue the third payment. Ok, girl. You do that. No matter what you find, I still ain't paying. The director emails me the next day, saying that she didn't find any wrong doing on my account manager's part and that they were going to pursue payment for the third month. That's when the lawyer comes in....

My lawyer's drafted response "It's clear that you don't have a full understanding of the culpability of the account manager....." followed by an outline of dates, highlighting time lapses on my account manager's part, complete with screenshots. Tuh! The final sentence is what took me out "As you can see, services were not rendered as promised.  Hence, the reason I did not allow for the third payment.  Moreover, I believe my proposed resolution of terminating our agreement and allowing you to retain the funds already remitted was more than reasonable.  If you continue to feel otherwise and wish to discuss this further, you can contact my attorney, Krystle Myers directly, she is copied to this email."


Done and done. It goes without saying that #3 decided that it was best to release me from their lor janky contract without paying for the third month. When I completed the contract termination form, my account manager's name wasn't available in the drop down for me to select. I'm assuming she was fired, possibly for the gross mismanagement of my account. Or maybe it was because she lied about it. Either way. My attorney handled it.

I knew what #3 did wrong but I wouldn't have been able to communicate the way Krystle did cuz...I'm not a lawyer. Plus, there's something about "speak to my attorney" that sounds so boss and "STOP PLAYING WITH ME" LOL!

I will say, I messed up by not having the contract with #3 reviewed BEFORE I signed it. Usually, Krystle reviews contracts that I produce for my clients, I just didn't think about it for a social media marketing company that showed up so high up in my Google search. They should've known what they were doing. But...they didn't.

Lesson: Document all communications cuz screenshots don't lie. Don't accept BS work just because you're desperate. Stand you ground. And most importantly, have a business attorney on deck.

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, January 7, 2020

2019 Round Up

2019 was an interesting year for me in business and my personal life. I spent the first half of the year trying to figure out my life with a colicky baby, a rambunctious 2 year old and a workaholic husband while battling post partum depression. I did a lot of investing in my business. So much that it made me anxious. I ain't used to debt or being in the red. But I finished strong and I didn't die. So I am alive to tell the story.

Fancy Life Accomplishments
  1. Survived 3 months of colic
  2. Overcame postpartum depression
  3. Got my husband to take over handling dinner
  4. Got approval to increase frequency of housekeeping service
  5. Decluttered my house
  6. Made a little bit of money off of selling my kids' baby gear
  7. Lost over 30 pounds
  8. Created a self care routine
  9. Maintained a self care routine for 7 months
  10. Produced breast milk for 12 months
  11. Set personal boundaries to maintain sanity
  12. Maintained said boundaries
  13. Removed a curse from my bloodline
  14. Renewed my spiritual journey
  15. Enjoyed my husband
  16. Found a school for my son
  17. Loved on my family
Fancy Free Hair & Skin Accomplishments
  1. Got my back office in order
  2. Established more automated systems
  3. Hired 3 new employees
  4. Fired 2 employees
  5. Hired a marketing company
  6. Figured out the voice of my brand with the help of a marketing company
  7. Rebranded the look of my products
  8. Added a seasonal scent milk to the roster
  9. Added two new products to the roster
  10. Added 3 new deodorant scents to the roster
  11. Added 2 new product kits to the roster
  12. Hired a social media management company
  13. Fired a social media management company
  14. Hired a second social media management company
  15. Fired the second social media management company
  16. Lawyers on deck to clap back on raggedy second social media management company when they tried to pursue payment even after being raggedy
  17. Added two retail stores
  18. Added one more wholesale buyer
  19. Hired a business tax accountant
  20. Increased revenues by 35%
  21. Increased spending too (typing the percentage increased hurts my feelings)
I'm far from my goals but I am making progress. Progress is important. Typing it out like this made me realize how much I was able to accomplish with a baby strapped to my back and a toddler hanging on to my legs. There were definitely days that I cried. But there were also days that I felt like I could conquer the world. Just know, when I cried, it was only for like 5 minutes. Then I wiped my tears and got busy. Crying is therapeutic, it's a release. Just don't live in a state of sadness where you can't be productive. 

I learned that being vulnerable makes me strong. I learned that it's ok to not be ok. I learned to listen to my intuition. I learned to look inward, to my ancestors, and upward, to God. I learned to be in the moment and pause sometimes, especially when it comes to having fun with my children because business building will always need my attention but they will not be little forever.


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.