One look at Nana Agyemang, and there's no doubt that she is a boss. Take her perfectly curated Instagram feed that exudes the glitz and glam of Black girl luxury, travel, "it girl" fashion, and indulgence, for example. There is a unifying theme of daring to take up space in a world where people like her aren't often showcased. It's also a theme that lends itself effortlessly to her overall mission. In a world where we are made to feel as though we are invisible, Agyemang seeks to make Black and Brown voices and faces both felt and seen.
As the CEO and founder of the ever-growing EveryStylishGirl media company, she is doing just that. "I would like to uplift the social and economic status of Black women in America and specifically in the media," Agyemang shares of her life purpose. "I want us to fulfill our potential and overcome obstacles put in our way by society."
Since the age of 14, growing up in rural Ohio, Agyemang has been adamant about acting as a vessel for opportunities for Black and Brown women of color in spaces. This started with her role as a photojournalist in high school and changing the covers of her yearbook to more closely resemble the Black and Brown faces she saw walking the hallways. However, when branching into media, she noticed that despite having a seat at the table, many of her peers weren't. There was a marked lack of diversity in fashion and media, both front-facing and behind the scenes. Instead of seeing the lack of representation and diversity as an obstacle, Agyemang sought to find solutions.
And a solution, she found.
To fulfill her mission of career advancement and professional growth opportunities for Black and Brown women, Agyemang launched EveryStylishGirl in 2016. First an Instagram page only, ESG has since evolved into an inclusive media company with a directory for job placement and networking opportunities, as well as the annual Sip N' Slay conferences.
"Every day I aim to create more opportunities for my sisters, in hopes that we can build our own tables instead of waiting for a seat at someone else's," she explains.
The next woman's opportunity doesn't take away from hers and it is that empowerment that has kept her media company flourishing all these years. In the last year, Agyemang quit her job leading social for The Cut to focus on ESG full-time and has been seeing nothing but abundance since.
The multi-hyphenate hustler recently chatted with xoNecole about not quitting your daydreams, her biggest career mistakes, and why it's important to share the title of "boss" as a CEO.
Courtesy of Nana Agyemang
xoNecole: What was your earliest memory of feeling seen as a Black girl (or a Black woman) in media?
Nana Agyemang: In high school, I signed up to be a photojournalist for the Yearbook Club because I always felt like our yearbook lacked diversity. When I took over the role I made sure our covers had Black and Brown faces and voices. Before that, I didn't really see much representation in school. I definitely didn't see it in mainstream teen magazines in the early 2000s either.
Do you think the lack of seeing yourself or people like you led to you wanting to pursue media in your profession?
100% percent. The lack of representation scared me. I thought to myself I was never going to see Black women on multiple magazine covers or even a September issue and it scared me knowing this was the industry I wanted to partake in. But it scared me so much I jumped on the opportunity to change it. In a way, the trepidation gave me the motivation to cover the stories of my sisters.
What were some key opportunities of growth that were important for you to tap into as you scale your business?
I recently left my role leading social media at The Cut to pursue EveryStylishGirl full-time and, while I loved being in the editorial world, it allowed me to grow my businesses and connect and amplify so many more women than I could imagine.
How did a Master's in journalism and your work with EveryStylishGirl translate to owning a lane career-wise as a contributing social editor for The Cut?
Honestly, getting into that position was so serendipitous. I was out to lunch with another editor friend, Indya Brown, who worked at The Cut at the time, and she mentioned they were hiring a social editor and she wanted me to go after it. At that time, I had never worked professionally for a traditional news company as a social editor and I didn't believe I had the skills to do it.
But I realized I was wrong because not only did I work as a social editor for myself for EveryStylishGirl but I launched my own successful social media company and grew it to 50K followers in under three years. Also, to top it all off, I did have a Master's in multimedia journalism. Therefore, all that self-doubt was once again just fear getting in the way.
Speaking of job titles and roles, how do you feel the work you’ve done in the past has acted as a roadmap to what you are doing now in life?
The job that has been most beneficial to my career growth has been the job I created for myself. Starting my own business in college is the main reason why I was able to get my foot in the door at The New York Times, ELLE Magazine, and The Cut. I always tell people, "Don't sleep on your daydreams." And I mean it because that side hustle will one day become your full-time job. It will get you in rooms and spaces much quicker than others who don't have a side hustle or small business. You're ahead of the game because you are your own lawyer, accountant, boss and copy editor, and content creator.
You have built immense skills in such a short period of time and that's a specialty not everyone can say they have experienced. It makes employers value your work ethic and know you can be scrappy and creative when needed. I thank ESG for everything I have today career-wise and I owe it to myself for creating my successful career.
"I always tell people, 'Don't sleep on your daydreams.' That side hustle will one day become your full-time job. It will get you in rooms and spaces much quicker than others who don't have a side hustle or small business. You're ahead of the game because you are your own lawyer, accountant, boss and copy editor, and content creator."
At EveryStylishGirl, I’ve noticed that you have given everyone on your staff some variation of the title of “Boss,” why is that? Do you think it is important that everyone feels like a leader on your team although you are the CEO and founder?
Yes, because we are all bosses. We might be on different levels but everyone is a boss because you wake up every day and choose to show up. It's not easy to be Black women, and we already have so much against us in the business world. It feels uplifting to carry that boss title when you go into work and know that you have to live up to that boss status. You have to lead, inspire and motivate those around you.
Access is important to you, especially when it comes to inclusivity, how can media do better at providing access to women of color and promoting inclusivity in their hires?
Hire women of color! You can't improve inclusivity without ensuring your teams are diverse first. This is one of the reasons we launched the EveryStylishGirl Biz directory. There is no longer an excuse for companies to say they can't find Black or Brown talent when there are resources to do so.
What is ESG doing to speak to those gaps specifically?
EveryStylishGirl's focus is elevating women of color through multiple channels. Our directory is a concrete way for us to bring women of color into companies at all levels while also creating visibility around these opportunities for these women to see them and apply. We consistently post job opportunities from our directory partners on social media so that women can see these opportunities firsthand and have the know-how to apply.
As a founder, what have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about running a business?
Always find a mentor. You are only going to grow and improve if you talk to those who have experienced what you have coming. I learned that the key to success is to ask questions and know that no question is ever a dumb question in business. It's dumb to not know the answers or pretend that you know it all because that will get you nowhere. I highly recommend every business owner have company advisors and mentors. My mentors have saved me time, money, and unnecessary mistakes.
Have you ever experienced a major failure or mistake in your career? How did you bounce back?
My biggest mistake in my career was staying in a job for too long where I wasn't appreciated. I spent days frustrated and unhappy about my job but I was worried if I left I wouldn't find another job in time to keep up with my rent and financial responsibilities so I held onto my job as a crutch and it kicked me in the butt in the long run. I regret not listening to my gut and my intuition. It wasn't until I was let go from the company that I felt creative freedom. It was that moment ESG took off and my personal brand took off.
"I held onto my job as a crutch and it kicked me in the butt in the long run. I regret not listening to my gut and my intuition. It wasn't until I was let go from the company that I felt creative freedom. It was that moment ESG took off and my personal brand took off."
In a world where there is an unconscious divide between having a 9 to 5 and quitting your job to be your own boss, why was it important to you to have both?
A 9 to 5 is important because you get professional experience and earn income while you're trying to figure out how to grow your business. It is also a great way to build a network and net worth. Grow your contact list, cultivate relationships, and learn the ins and outs of the company, especially if it connects to your side hustle.
How are you able to successfully maintain a thriving business as a CEO and founder while maintaining a successful career as contributing social editor for NY Mag and The Cut?
Discipline is key. It truly takes discipline to say no to social outings with friends, vacations, and other distractions. I was in a hyper-focused mindset because I knew what my end goal was. My goal was to get the Cut to a strong following online, build an engaged community, create relationships, and transition into being my own boss. Once you know what the end goal is it's easy to have the focus to stay on track and cut out distractions but without that roadmap, I would have been lost.
How do you think being an employee feeds into your role as a CEO, if it all? How do you think being a CEO pours into your role as an employee?
I'm sympathetic to my employees. I understand what it's like to be learning and working for someone else's brand and trying to gauge their voice. It takes time and patience. I always give them that space to grow and I take them in as mentees. I am genuinely invested in their growth and getting them to the next level in their careers.
In a lot of ways, when I look at you and your brand, it seems like you embody the phrase, “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” What would you tell women who might have fears surrounding creating and cultivating a life that speaks to them?
Spend five to ten years becoming an expert in something. It could be working a 9 to 5 for ten years or working on a side hustle for ten years, but if you could just do one of those then you could put yourself in a position to become an expert. When you become an expert, you can put yourself on the market to sell something. Once you have a business to sell something of your own, you can work towards being your own boss.
And lastly, who is Nana Agyemang outside of what she does?
I am very close to God because without God I wouldn't be where I am. I am incredibly loving and goofy at times. I love being around people that make me laugh. I enjoy self-care. I invest in good candles, perfumes, and leisure experiences. Lastly, I invest heavily in the success of my friends and family. I go above and beyond to help those around me get to the next level. I'm a giver and lover.
Featured image courtesy of Nana Agyemang
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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images