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A Breakup Taught This Six-Figure Beauty Studio Owner That She Is The Bag

Her relationship with money changed when she dared to secure herself.

Money Talks

Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they spend it.

As the co-owner and Marketing-Logistics Director of Atlanta's own Transformations Beauty Studio with her twin sister Derricka, Erricka Traylor is sure to know a thing or two about money management and financial wellness. After losing nearly everything after an engagement gone wrong, the Atlanta native had to learn the hard way through experience that having everything tied to someone you aren't bonded to by marriage is not always the ideal route to take.

Following financial hardship and the ultimate heartbreak, Transformations Beauty Studio was born and thus a monthly six-figure income followed. "I save 35 percent of my income each month. In order to save this, I set a weekly budget for spending. Use my calendar to view any travel and about my spending as needed so that I hit my goal," Traylor shared with xoNecole. Though she saves with a high-yield savings account, she told xoNecole that she opts to use CapitalOne. "They are known for taking care of their existing customers. Most banks give you a great rate coming in but it drops after six months."

Courtesy of UMGMT Strategic Communications & Public Relations

In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with Traylor about purchasing a brand new car on a random Tuesday without consulting anyone, the simplicity of her savings goals and the importance of her multiple income streams.

On her definitions of wealth and success:

"Wealth, to me, is defined as having balance in my life. What I mean by that is having excellent health, freedom when it comes to spending, using my time wisely, and most importantly, leaving a legacy for my family. I define success as facing your biggest challenge or fear and overcoming it. Success is going after your goals and never giving up, no matter how hard things get. Success is also about making a better choice in life and leading by example."

On the lowest she’s ever felt when it came to her finances and how she overcame it:

"The lowest I ever felt about my finances was after a breakup. I was in a long-term relationship, and we had tied a lot of finances up together. After the breakup, I lost out on a lot of my savings and assets. I felt low because I didn't make sure that I would be financially OK if we decided to split. It made me feel low and upset with myself because I knew better. Unfortunately, at that time, I didn't do the right thing to secure myself. I overcame it by going back to the basics. Watching my spending, saving money and investing money in a business that will help me increase my revenue. The most critical component was I changed my mindset. I no longer felt upset and low. I felt empowered to do it right this time around for myself."

On her biggest splurge to date:

"My biggest splurge was purchasing a new car. It was the first car I purchased without anyone's money or input. I purchased my car on a random Tuesday. I was over my current car and just ready for a change. My previous car was goldfish tan and it wasn't a car that I really wanted. I was so determined to get me a new car that day. I literally pulled up to the dealership with no appointment two hours before they closed. I already knew which car I wanted and color. When I spent the $32,000 on my car, I was nervous but I also felt good at the same time. It was my mark of financial growth and independence. I was able to see that I can and will accomplish goals if I stay focused on the goal and plan. I was so happy."

erricka-traylor-smile

Courtesy of Milan Mobley

"When I spent the $32,000 on my car, I was nervous but I also felt good at the same time. It was my mark of financial growth and independence. I was able to see that I can and will accomplish goals if I stay focused on the goal and plan. I was so happy."

On whether she’s a spender or a saver:

"I consider myself a saver nowadays. When I was younger, I was a spender! I trained my mind to start to think of my future, [to] think of my family and what I can provide them with. I gave myself small goals and advanced over time. Now it's just routine."

On the importance of investing:

"To me, investment is essential. I invest conservatively in stock. I have restricted stock, preferred stock, brokerage CD. I also invest in the business to help grow my income and savings. My business investments are hiring the right people. For each new person added, we spend money on training, payroll, marketing etc. Investing in my company marketing and advertising is also a strategic investment that I use to gain more revenue."

On her savings goals and what retirement looks like to her:

"My saving goal is simple. Save enough money to have financial freedom before and after retirement. Retirement for me is on track and closely watched."

On her budgeting must-haves:

"My must-haves are housing, utilities, entertainment, groceries, transportation, self-pampering. I use Mint to help guide me with my personal finances. The system is easy and it keeps me on track with my goals and budget. I also write things down the old fashioned way. The first thing I do is take my savings percentage and put it towards my savings. Then I write out my essential bills for the month and subtract it from my monthly income. I then write out my other finances like entertainment, etc and go from there. I also add to an emergency account for small emergencies. I do this every month to keep things right and tight."

On unhealthy money habits and mindsets:

"Some unhealthy mindsets that I had to let go of were shopping all the time for clothing [and] not sticking to my savings goal. Also cutting down on eating out so much. My mindset changed and then my bank account grew and my will power got healthy."

On the worst money-related decision she’s ever made:

"The worst money-related decision I made was tying all my money and assets with someone just because I was in a relationship with them. This was a very bad decision that I made at the time. I didn't do the right thing with my money. It's like I just gave it away in a sense. I made costly business decisions and didn't think about the consequences that I may face. I learned a valuable lesson to read over every contract, review the pros and cons, and think about the what ifs. If I had done this, it would have saved my 10s of thousands of dollars."

On her intentions behind multiple streams of revenue:

"My streams of revenue are product revenue, salon revenue, [and] spa revenue. I started each one at different times during my career. One reason why was because I had to build up my income. Each one of my new business revenue helps start the next one. It was important to me to start another stream because, number one, I wanted to grow my business as much as possible and, number two, I wanted to grow my income. Having these different streams of income taught me to be more flexible, organized and it gives me a sense of security In finances."

erricka-traylor-green-dress

Courtesy of Milan Mobley

"My streams of revenue are product revenue, salon revenue, and spa revenue. Having these different streams of income taught me to be more flexible, organized and it gives me a sense of security In finances."

On her money mantra:

"I am worthy of all the richness I desire."

On her budget breakdown:

Rent/mortgage?

"$1,600 mortgage."

Eating out/ordering in?

"$200/month."

Gas/car note?

"No car note, but gas is probably $150 a month."

Personal expenses?

"Maybe $200 per month."

For more information on Erica, follow her on Instagram and The Body Transformer's Studio official Instagram account.

Featured photos courtesy of UMGMT Strategic Communications & Public Relations

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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