Erin Winters is a master class in owning your talent and starting where you are. The Detroit native launched her digital marketing and video production company Erin On Demand in June 2018, premiering her YouTube channel under the same name six months later. Less than a year in, the Creator on the Rise surpassed her goal of 50,000 subscribers, opening her Internet home to a flood of entrepreneurs and content creators seeking to fortify their brands and impact.
Erin didn't see this chapter of her life coming. While in college, the broadcast journalism major spent her summers interning full-time at Fox 2 Detroit with the intention of gracing screens as an anchor, but her final year sparked a change of plans. "I didn't like the stories they were sifting through and overlooking, but I still loved being on camera and telling stories," Erin tells xoNecole.
Courtesy of Erin Winters
One week after crossing the stage at Howard University, she took on a position as a spokesperson for a credit union in Michigan. "Everyone was expecting me to be the girl they saw on TV," she reflects. Deep-diving into speaking engagements and social media management, however, was exactly what Erin needed. "It really introduced me to a more creative side of storytelling and digital marketing that a lot of companies need," she muses. "They let me be super creative, and I hit the ground running."
Once her yearlong contract drew to a close, Erin would later stumble across National Geographic's nationwide call for its first-ever digital correspondent. Between her infectious personality and razor-sharp skill set, she not only soared to the top three but beat out a professional videographer and news anchor in the process. "I fell somewhere in the middle," she says of her mega win.
As grand as the opportunity was, like her first job after college, her gig was ultimately temporary, leaving Erin to face one question on her way back to Detroit 10 months later: Now what?
In this xoChat, the brand strategist talks building her business in the thick of unemployment, growing her YouTube channel with authenticity, and maximizing what you have now to create the future you want.
*This interview was lightly edited for clarity.
After your contract with National Geographic ended, how did you navigate the silence when you were applying for jobs and nothing was sticking?
Courtesy of Erin Winters
It was really hard. I had one big lead that I thought I would get, so when I didn't, it was even more crushing. It was a dark time for me in a way, but I'm glad I didn't get a job because it really gave me time to think about launching my business. I was working on my website. It gave me time to value my health. I was working out twice a day. I was eating good.
Even though it was hard emotionally in terms of what I was going to do next, it was also like, 'I'm here, I saved money, I can handle these interim months. Maybe this is the time to pivot, and you need this moment to be still and figure out what direction you want to go in instead of trying to beat God's timing.' It's crazy to look back on those months because if I did get a job, I wouldn't have any of this.
What I appreciate about your channel is that you’re very transparent about moving back in with your parents and living at home while building your business. When you first made that move, was it humbling for you in any way or were you just thankful to have that support in your corner?
It wasn't one or the other. It was both. I felt so grateful that I could actually come back home, and they let me convert one of their rooms into my office space where I can be focused and build. My parents are super supportive, and my mom is my business manager, so it's actually convenient for us to be in the same household because we literally talk about my business nonstop. It's good, but when you've come from living on your own and being able to go and do as you please, you do have to revert. I need to respect their household, check-in, and fix dinner for all of us, not just me. It's different things that I did have to readjust to, and it was a humbling experience, but at the end of the day, when you're building something, you have to sacrifice. There's no way you're going to be able to build something sustainable without that.
Why did you decide to create a YouTube channel after launching Erin On Demand?
Courtesy of Erin Winters
Two reasons. People were asking me the same questions over and over again (laughs), and I really did miss being on camera. That is probably my top passion. There was about six months in between launching the business and starting the channel. It was very important to me to get in the game in terms of entrepreneurship. I was still an infant, but I was still six months further than a lot of people who hadn't taken the full leap. I could still tell them things like how I prepared for the journey, how much I saved, what my target audience is, and what my goals are. I wasn't giving hardcore marketing advice at that point, but I still realized there were people at ground zero and I could help them get to level one. That was the mindset, and [my business] has completely blossomed since then.
"It just goes to show that you can't discredit your passion. If you are talented in some area, you're going to make money in that area if you put your energy into it."
I love that mindset of not waiting until you’ve “arrived” and sharing the process.
People appreciate that. I think that has contributed tremendously to the growth of my channel. One of the most frequent comments I get is, "I just love watching your journey." It's just crazy when you just start, and you don't care about the house you're in or the backdrop. It's really about capturing your journey as you go. I didn't see that on YouTube. I saw people in the entrepreneurial and productivity space who were already "there" or who had "built it". They weren't showing themselves grow. I just slid in there, and here we are.
Do you think that’s why your Day in the Life videos resonate with your audience so much?
Yes, because they can see me doing the work instead of just hearing me talk about it. When I started those, my channel really took off because people like to see you "do". It also goes to show that you can't be scared to try new things. The way that started, I didn't have a video planned, so I brought my camera along with me to a meeting. Girl, they loved that video. The thing in marketing is if it works, keep doing it. That really helped with the growth. It gives people more to connect with, and those connecting points build trust. So many people get caught up in the information, but it's also just [as] important that people like who you are.
Courtesy of Erin Winters
At some point in your Day in the Life videos, you always share your Top 3 list. How did you arrive at this method?
I've always been a to-do list type of girl, but my lists were too long. It would be a week's worth of stuff that I would try to put on myself for one day, which wasn't healthy. My first degree into the Top 3 was writing my to-do lists on sticky notes. If it can't fit on a sticky note, it is too much to do. Maybe I lost a sticky note or something, but I stopped doing that (laughs). Then, I bought a planner that had a section for priorities, and I decided to start listing my Top 3. So much of productivity is feeling like you've actually got things done, and I felt so much better, so I started sharing it. I get tagged on Instagram, and people send me emails and DMs about how this really works. It was just about simplifying it. You'll get so much more done. Baby steps are still steps, and Top 3 is literally turning into this big thing that I did not expect.
You recently posted a video about how you make over $10,000 a month through seven streams of income. Why was it important for you to share this information with your subscribers?
It was important to share so people can know the possibilities that they can create for themselves with whatever it is they want to do in life. I just wanted to open people's understanding that there are so many ways to make money and once you understand that making money doesn't have to be hard, then the opportunities come. At the beginning of this year, my income streams looked nothing like this. Even six months ago, they didn't. It was very spotty and sporadic. I would always say, "At the end of this year, I don't care how much it is, I just need consistency."
"Once I really started to pour into how I could make things more consistent and didn't worry about the actual figure that I'm making, the opportunities kept coming and the streams of income kept growing. You can't get discouraged when you're in that seed-planting phase. You can't stop watering the seed. At some point, it has to harvest."
You’ve mentioned that things are changing over at Erin On Demand. Where are you right now when it comes to the evolution of your brand?
Courtesy of Erin Winters
The bulk of my time is YouTube. I always call it the heartbeat of my business. Aside from that, it's my eBrand Club. Once YouTube took off, I was never getting questions about video. It was always, "How do I build my brand?" and "How do I grow my social media?" I didn't have anything in place, so I had to create something that was affordable. I am firmly against absurdly charging people when they're trying to get their businesses off the ground, which is why the membership club is only $30 a month. I do weekly live lessons, Instagram audits, YouTube audits––I really get in there and help them figure out the best way to brand and monetize their businesses. We bring in experts every month as well to talk about different things like Facebook ads, media kits, and pitching yourself. That's what I spend a ton of time doing because it's growing so fast. Then I'm doing one-on-one strategy calls, helping people get clarity on their businesses and helping them package it in a way that attracts their target audience.
People decide to become entrepreneurs every day. What’s in your Top 3 for thriving as one?
Faith. I have a very strong sense of faith. Without faith, I wouldn't have even taken a chance on myself. Faith is just so interwoven into everything in business. After you take the first leap, there's going to be a thousand more you need to take.
Support. I can't stress it enough. It's very hard to thrive as an entrepreneur, especially as a full-time entrepreneur, when you don't have support. That was another reason why I created the [eBrand] Club because people were coming to me about not having friends or parents who supported them, so I wanted to build a community of like-minded people.
Adaptability. There are just so many things in business that change. At this point, video projects are not the first thing I'm taking on [anymore], and it's only a year and a half later. If you are so stuck in where your business is when you first think of the idea, and that's not what your audience wants and that's not what's bringing in revenue, you have to adapt. I think I have really mastered adapting to my business and how it's shaped and just being a student to how all of this works.
I tell people all the time, "I don't know everything, but I'm very good at figuring it out."
For more Erin, follow her on Instagram @erinondemand and check out her videos at Youtube.com/ErinOnDemand!
Featured image courtesy of Erin Winters.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Can you believe that we’re literally just a few weeks away from 2024? I know I can’t. Hell, I still remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, and even what I was wearing when we all rang in 2000 — and now, look at us. *le sigh*
Anyway, the reason why I decided to pen this particular piece is because I’ve got some women in my world who like to be up on the latest beauty (and fashion) trends, long before others are — and so, I penned this with them (and the women who are just like them) in mind.
If that is indeed you, please take out a sec to check out some of the things that will be pretty damn popular when it comes to make-up, hair, and even nails next year. All are relatively affordable (except for maybe one), all are easy to implement into the beauty routine that you currently have, and as a Black woman, all are ones that you can step out in and totally dominate with.
Are you ready to check out 12 beauty trends for 2024 that you can show the world as soon as today?
Beauty Forecast: 12 Beauty Trends Set to Dominate 2024
1. Side Parts
Although I’m a “middle/center part” gal myself, and a trend isn’t really gonna change that (LOL), if you are a huge fan of side parts, those are gonna be all the rage next year whether you choose to wear your hair up (which could create a side fringe) or down.
Something that’s cool about this particular look is, if you’re someone who happens to have fine hair and you want to create some volume, a side part can create that for you. Or, if you’re in the process of trying to grow out your hair and one side is longer than the other (which is completely normal, by the way), instead of constantly cutting the longer side (in order to make everything “even”), a side part can give the illusion that your hair is a bit asymmetrical…on purpose.
2. Colorful Eyeliners
Whether you want to make your eyes the focal point of a particular make-up look or you want to add something that can seamlessly take you from day to night — eyeliner has you covered. In 2024, rather than going with a traditional neutral color, seek out ones that are as bold and bright as possible. You can use a bold blue on your waterline to give your eyes more depth (if your eyes are a dark brown, it can make them stand out more, too) or a neon color to make a “winged eye” that could be fun when you’re going out with your girls. This trend is basically a reminder to have fun with your make-up next year. Life is short…why not?
Delmaine Donson/Getty Images
3. Mushroom Extract
Something that was building in popularity last year that will get even bigger next year is mushroom extract being added to skincare products. Apparently, the properties in mushrooms can do everything from deeply hydrate and soothe irritated skin to brighten up dark spots where hyperpigmentation may be an issue. Since mushrooms are rich in zinc (which is great at treating acne and eczema), selenium (which helps your body to produce antioxidants) and several forms of vitamin B (which reduces aging signs) — it would make sense that this vegetable would get its moment in the beauty world spotlight.
A word of caution, though: if, like me, you have a fungal sensitivity, do remember that mushroom is a fungus, so…to be on the safe side, this might be a trend that you’ll have to take a pass on.
4. Three-in-One Products
It wasn’t too long ago that CNN published an article on some of its editors’ favorite “multiuse” products. That’s because something else that you’ll be seeing more of is people opting for beauty-based items that they can use for more than just one thing: eyeshadow that can be used as a blush and maybe even a lip color base or foundation that also works as a concealer and finishing powder as well. If one of your plans is to ring in the new year with at least one less junk drawer, you can always get more space in by purchasing three-in-one beauty products. It’s an ultimate hack on a few different levels.
5. “Random” Rhinestones
The feature image for this article? The reason why I chose it is because it’s something else that is gonna be big in beauty over the next several months. Sure, rhinestones are pretty common on the nails (and sometimes even on eyelids); however, you’re gonna see them being randomly placed on hair, the face, the arms…chile, everywhere. So, if you’ve already decided that next year is the year that you really want to make a statement, add some rhinestones to some of your looks. Hell, invest in some Swarovski crystals while you’re at it; they definitely provide a solid “bling” effect!
6. Balletcore Nails
If you adore the look of super feminine nails, then this trend has your first, middle, and last name all over it.
If you’re wondering what the heck balletcore nails are, they’re nails that are designed in such a way where they look very similar to a ballet slipper — the shape of the shoe and color. The dope thing about this trend is, as far as the hue of pink and length of nails, you can totally customize it to your liking.
Anyway, I think we’re gonna see a whole lot of this in 2024 — so why not stroll into the holiday season with a set of ‘em?
7. Hair Ribbons
Speaking of ballet, when it comes to the signature hairstyle (the bun), it’s pretty common to see hair ribbons that are wrapped around them, right? Well, when it comes to hair accessories, ribbons are about to be EVERYWHERE, y’all. Ribbons interwoven through braids. Ribbons tied around ponytails. Ribbons used as headbands. So, if you’ve got a daughter and you like to dress her tresses up with ribbons, looks like she’ll be sharing them with you in 2024. Have fun!
8. Biodegradable Beauty Products
The mere fact that, in America, 350 metric tons of plastic is wasted on an annual basis — that should be reason enough for us to want to be more intentional about supporting the sustainable side of the beauty industry. A specific way to do that is to purchase beauty products that are biodegradable. From what I’ve (briefly) read and researched on the topic, because this is still a relatively new trend in the cosmetics world, some companies are abusing “biodegradable” in the way that a lot of food companies misuse the word “organic.”
Still, if you want to get more into doing what’s best for the environment as far as your own beauty products are concerned, looking for ones that are vegan (a cool list is here, here, and here) is a great place to start.
9. Embellished Chrome Nail Designs
Although I personally don’t wear it a lot (when it comes to make-up), I do like the look of chrome. It has a way of being modern and yet timeless at the same time. Plus, it’s very sleek and works well with the various skin tones of our ethnicity quite well. And even though chrome-polished nails have been around for several years now (as far as popularity goes), the next few seasons are going to showcase chrome nails that have designs on them or an upgraded French manicure where the tips are chrome (you can see an example of what I’m talking about here). I could see this look getting you a lot of compliments for Christmas. Just something to keep in mind as your holiday party invites get ready to roll in.
10. Genetic-Based Beauty Items
Are you wondering what the heck “genetic-based beauty items” are? I feel you. If the first thing that comes to your mind is genetic testing that, people get to find out more about their DNA, apply that to the cosmetics world, and there ya go.
Bottom line, as futuristic as it might sound, the beauty industry is now getting into genetic testing so that people can discover what works best when it comes to their own personal pigmentation, how their skin ages, and what their specific hair needs may be.
11. The Look of Minimalism
Sometimes, I’ll just sit on YouTube and look at different hair and make-up tutorials — just for fun. And when it comes to mastering the “no make-up, make-up” look, Sincerely Zee (here), Dimma Umeh (here), Tea Renee (here), Naakie Nartey (here), and Fatima Bah (here) all did a pretty impressive job (with the look and showing you how to create it for yourself.) Yeah, one of my favorite things about the whole minimalism trend is it’s such a standout reminder that less really can be more, in the most visually beautiful ways.
12. The Color Red
I’m a fan of color psychology. So much, in fact, that I wrote an article on it for the platform back in the day: “Understanding Color Psychology Will Sharpen Your Lens On Life.” Well, when it comes to the color red, whether it’s on your nails, lips (Black women look STUNNING with red lipstick on), even eyes — it’s the shade that’s gonna be hard to beat next year. I ain’t got one problem with it either since red represents things like love, passion, sexiness, desire, and strength.
In fact, I can’t think of a better way to walk — or strut — into the new year than with that kind of energy, can you? So, whatever you do, remind yourself to pick up a few red cosmetics. You’ll be the belle of the ball for the holidays, for 2024, and when it comes to life, in general, if/when you do. Now get to beauty shopping, sis!
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Yana Iskayeva/Getty Images