Nowadays, everything might seem a bit uncertain, and whether you're super-employed, self-employed, or underemployed, the stress factor is real. COVID-19 has changed how we live our lives, and with that change, many of us have had to roll with the punches, do some serious soul-searching, and even reconsider our next boss move.
One thing's for sure in hard economic times: Having a job you're great at---one you love---can be your saving grace. One enterprising professional who can attest to that is Erika Pope, global brand manager for House of Cheatham, the parent company of popular haircare lines including Aunt Jackie's Coils and Curls, Argan Smooth, Texture My Way, and Aunt Jackie's Kids.
"I love this space. It's so fun. I really like that it's not just about a product or the glitz and glam. It's honestly the opportunity to work in the community with women and make them feel good about themselves," Pope said in an xoNecole interview.
Image by Stephon X Photography
"I love this space. It's so fun. I really like that it's not just about a product or the glitz and glam. It's honestly the opportunity to work in the community with women and make them feel good about themselves."
Her path to beauty brand management wasn't a straight one, but the journey helped her learn more about her passions, her capabilities, and her strengths. In 2008, Pope found herself in unfamiliar waters at Michigan State University. She was the first in her immediate family to attend a large school away from home.
"I knew I had a creative and artistic mind, so I started off wanting to do fashion design. I got into the program and realized how much I hated sewing," Pope recalled. "I ended up in a retail merchandising program and studied a dual degree in art. When I finished college, I left [for] Chicago, and like most young adults leaving college, I still had no idea of what I'd be doing."
With few prospects, Pope said, she did odd jobs and then stumbled upon an opportunity to work in digital media. "That was my introduction into social media and marketing, and I loved it." Pope then went on to work as a buyer for TJX Companies (think TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods) through an opportunity via LinkedIn. "I went through their training program, and it's globally regarded. It's extremely hard to finish. They [accepted] about 200 of us and by the end, there were only about 40 people that they actually hired on full-time," she said. "I was selected to help launch and curate TJMaxx.com---part of the team that built and created the e-commerce platform that they have today. It put a lot in perspective for me because I knew from there on out, I always wanted to work with brands."
Pope would continue to work as a buyer for several years before eventually starting her own consultancy, Pope Solutions. "It's a full marketing services agency, and [we've done] some consulting for different brands."
Image by Stephon X Photography
She's a huge advocate of the power of LinkedIn, especially for finding new opportunities---or positioning yourself for them to find you. Her current boss, she said, found her on the platform and hired her to consult before she landed the full-time position she's loving today. "It's the Instagram of the business space. I've been obsessed with it since college. Some of my friends would make fun of me for being so heavily interested in LinkedIn, [saying], 'Oh, that's where all the old people are.' But I'd say that's where you can connect [with people offering] the jobs that you want, so it's important."
With more business owners and CEOs at home and online, Pope says it's a good idea to leverage the platform, especially when reevaluating your career path or trying to connect with leaders in your industry.
"I think of LinkedIn [as] a road map. You can look up roles you want, find people in those roles, look at the roles they had prior to getting where they are, and find out what skills they gained along the way. There's not just one way to do anything."
For Pope, COVID-19 isn't a time to shut down the enthusiasm for work that you love, but a time to elevate the passion and find the balance needed to be your best self for your job or even the job you want. As a wife and manager, she finds it important to be her best self, and in order to do that, she carves out alone time to meditate, stretch, and exercise on her Peloton bike. "I can imagine I'm in Paris or traveling abroad. I've realized that nothing is going to work out if I'm not [well]. I'm responsible for all these different aspects of this brand along with my personal brand, so if I'm not centered, nothing else is going to be right."
She's also found that this time as an opportunity to connect more deeply with the consumer base she serves and a challenge to get creative. "We've adjusted our focus in how we engage with people, and we are putting a lot more energy into building out digital campaigns," she explained. "We [Aunt Jackie's Curls & Coils] just recently partnered with xoNecole and did their first digital Pajamas and Lipstick event. It's just [about] becoming more creative and figuring out how to stay top-of-mind. I try to put our consumers first. Knowing that we're in such a different time, people's mental health is really important, and I don't want to feel like we're being insensitive to the things that are happening---being salesy and just pushing products. One of the things about my personal platform is [that it's] all about women's empowerment. It's a win-win for me to work with consumers---women specifically---all over the globe, just making them feel good about themselves. [I enjoy] standing behind a product I actually believe in and use myself."
For more of Erika, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image by Stephon X Photography
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images