As a budding entrepreneur, I rarely ever go out for brunch on the weekends, let alone remember to have breakfast most days.
I'm usually too preoccupied to think about food. Instead, I'm thinking about the neverending emails I need to respond to, reading up on emerging trends in my industry, learning new marketing strategies, hopping on calls with my business partner, or creating.
Recently, I decided to switch things up and mix business with pleasure, and attended an #UnitedWeBrunch event. Founded by Waverly Coleman of United We Function, a full-service events and wedding company, this brunch series focuses on women empowerment and creating space where women can have real conversations about everything from their careers to dating.
Credit: Gia Azevedo
Brunch had taken on a whole new meaning. It wasn't about going out only to have a hangover for next morning, but instead it was about sitting across from women like Ashley Everett, Beyoncé's dance captain, and fashionista Nichole Lynel of the coveted ShopNicholeLynel, women who dominate their industries. Women who you could learn something from. I had no doubt that gems would be dropped.
And that's exactly what occurred.
On a very busy Sunday at the Grove in LA, Whisper Lounge was surprisingly quiet, which made it easy to catch all the words of wisdom that were shared amongst this group of women. We listened to one another's stories, tears were shed, and most importantly, we all connected on what one thing: the power of purpose.
Credit: Gia Azevedo
I left my seat at the table feeling more rooted in my purpose and committed to the uncomfortability that we all experience as we make room for growth. I was inspired to continue investing the time and energy in bringing my vision to fruition. Sometimes all you need is that communion, to hear it from women who've been where you are or are where you are too, to be reminded that hard work is non-negotiable if you want greatness.
Whether taking the lead on the stage or in the office, here are a few takeaways that apply to every boss babe in the making:
1. Let your work speak for itself.
From sold-out concerts to sold out inventory, both Ashley Everett and Nichole Lynel stress the importance of trusting the process, and how hard work can easily go unnoticed from the outside looking in, but hard work is not something you can fake.
"I have an undeniable work ethic that sets me apart. I feel like their might be someone prettier, someone taller, someone who can sew faster, but I'm going to get up and give it my all everyday," Nichole said. "When I feel like it…when I don't feel like it…that is my superpower. I go hard."
It's also imperative to surround yourself with people who get it. And want to see you at your best.
"Social media shows the highlights and the outcomes, but doesn't show the process, the work. Social media morphs people's perception. We know it's there, but we don't show it," Ashley explained. "People ask, especially with me working with Beyoncé, people always ask: 'Is she nice? Does she really actually work as hard as seems?' This, this and that. And the answer is 'Yes.' And everyone on her team works equally as hard and that's why she's as great as she is. It's a team effort."
2. Have the courage to be face challenges and keep going.
Persistence and hard work will get you far. Your only competition is you. When you can conquer your own self-doubt and insecurities, then a "no" or loss just brings you one step closer to the "yes" you've been seeking and the success you've been striving toward.
"Everybody is looking for you to whisper in their ear the secret. The secret is you and the work," Nichole revealed. "Those two combined is what will take you there. The process is what builds you, having the ability to get up and do it everyday, again and again. Through the no's, the L's, all those times are going to pay off eventually but a lot of people quit."
3. Your purpose is depending on you and not the other way around.
If the opportunity presented itself, would you be ready to take it? Would you be prepared? Do you have enough faith in yourself to take the leap and give it your all even if you're not quite ready? And if the opportunity hasn't come along, would you have enough courage to create it for yourself?
These are the questions that every one who wants to accomplish something great has to ask themselves. It's not enough to know your potential; you have to act on it.
"I definitely thought at one point I was going to be a ballerina. I thought I was going to be in New York City, center stage like the movie. I'd memorized every line. I moved to New York when I was 16 and I realized there was not a lot of brown girls in ballet companies," Ashley recalled about her journey. "[Later] I randomly went to a Beyoncé audition and did a full 180, going from Alvin Ailey to music videos and concerts. And that's how I fell into it. I was supposed to go to Julliard but I stayed on tour and kept up with this commercial industry that I love, and I don't regret it. Who knows what my path would've been had I not gone to that audition."
"My mom used to always tell me that: fashion is a hobby that is something you do on the weekends. You go and you buy fashion. That's not going to be what you grow up and do. But all this time, fashion has been my thing," Nichole explained fondly. "It's what came easy to me, it's what people complimented me on, and as far as e-commerce, I was unfamiliar, I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know what I was doing. I just started."
4. Know your purpose is always bigger than you.
When you set out to do something, passion will drive you far but the act of service will take you further. Don't get caught up in how you're going to get there, just have faith that you're aligned with God's plan. Why has God given you this task and not anyone else? When you realize that your purpose will impact others and it requires the sacrifice and discipline, you operate from faith and work even harder.
It's not enough to love what you do, you have to be dedicated and aware of the impact your actions will have on others. You could be the catalyst for change in someone's life or an inspiration to a stranger, and you may not even know it. Even if it seems like no one is watching, someone is always watching.
"I'm a performer and I love to entertain but I think what makes it worth it is when you know you've touched someone's life, and they tell you, even if it's one person: you inspire me to follow my dreams. That fuels me," Ashley revealed.
Nichole added, "When you work really hard and somebody sees you, something as simple as a DM, in that moment you can imagine in your mind that it all comes from God and somebody else received it. That's the most rewarding part for me. Fashion is my platform but I feel like my purpose is so much bigger."