“I’ve always felt opportunity is available for everyone, so why compete?” - Altrichia Lekay Cook
We live in a time where some women are intimidated by a woman who may look beautiful, have a great career, an amazing relationship, or all of the above. Instead of taking the time to learn from them we speak negatively against them, and fail to talk or seek to build positive relationships because we are too busy hating on other women and on their success. In the age of #BlackGirlMagic where many of us are winning in our respective industries, we should empower others and strive to leave a positive impact and use our lives as platforms to inspire others.
See how Altrichia empowers women and helps women recognize and celebrate their inner and outer beauty.
Name: Altrichia Lekay Cook
Occupation(s): CEO & Founder of Allusions by A.Lekay Swimwear & motivational speaker
LinkedIn: Altrichia Cook
Altrichia is the owner behind a luxury swimwear line that features retro-inspired high-waisted bikinis so that women can look banging on the beach without feeling as if they need to compete with the gal next to her.
Wanting to cover up the abdominal imperfections that she personally received after the birth of her first child, Altrichia set out to create her swimwear line in 2013 for women with similar struggles. Since she couldn't find a swimsuit that would fit her needs and wants, she designed her own, and since then, this mom turned entrepreneur has made a name for herself and her brand.
One month before she graduated from high school, she found out she was pregnant, and she felt so scared. She grew up having parents as ministers, and was really involved in school. She was captain of the cheer squad, homecoming queen, class president, so she was embarrassed when she got pregnant because she was like a role model to her peers.
Before she graduated, she was already accepted into Florida State University so she immediately started her college classes in June. Just a few months after that she gave birth to her son Anthony in December of 2005. At the early age of 17, she had to learn how to balance being a mother, student, and employee. She worked hard and graduated within four years, and then continued her education by obtaining a graduate degree from Florida A&M University. After college, she began work as a probation officer and had the same occupation even after she started her swimwear business.
During the beginning stages of her business, Altrichia had to make a lot of sacrifices and couldn’t go out all of the time or shop like most young women in their 20s.
For Altrichia, there were sleepless nights. There were times when she literally wouldn’t go to sleep. She would get home from work, make dinner, help her son with homework, prepare for the next day, respond to emails, package orders, and more. Altrichia's work ethic was on a special level - she was running a full-time legitimate business, while working full time. Yes it was hectic but she made it happen. She was too focused and determined to do nothing but succeed.
Altrichia reveals: "Although a journey is never smooth sailing, you have to know that you are going to have bumps, dips, and detours along the way but it is up to you to make it to your destination. So with a good mindset and being among people that can lift you higher, you can definitely achieve success and thrive. You have to understand that success is not an overnight process. You have to grind, and make sacrifices."
[Tweet ""There will be bumps, dips, and detours along the way but it is up to you to make it to your destination." "]
The beginnings of the business
By utilizing social media as a Millennial, Altrichia was able to find her niche and learned how to start a business. Her business idea stemmed from the reaction from a photo that she posted in March of 2013 wearing a high-waisted swimsuit on a trip with friends. Altrichia told me she was wearing the high-waisted swimsuit because she was uncomfortable from the abdominal imperfections–aka stretch marks–that she got from having her baby.
When Altrichia posted the photo, the reaction from women were insane - everyone just had to now what she was wearing and where it came from. The reaction that she got from the photo inspired her to turn her love for designing and fashion into a business.
*Pictured here is a swimsuit by Allusions by A.Lekay
Her big break
In just two short years after launching, Altrichia's swimwear line grew in popularity and her fearless attitude grew. Because of her own fearless personality and her sought-after swimwear, she was given the opportunity to style Nicki Minaj on the July 2015 cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. On this cover, Nicki Minaj wore a custom design by Altrichia herself and that magazine cover brought even more positive attention to her swimwear brand.
As an entrepreneur in the saturated field of fashion, you can probably imagine how hard it can be for a new designer to get celebrity clients like Nicki Minaj in their clothing. When asked about how she was awarded this amazing opportunity, Altrichia reveals, "I was invited to a conference in New York where I met the fashion editor of Cosmo! Of course, I was intentional and fearless and reached out to her. I simply followed up and she was responded with pieces she loved and requested! Like that, magic happened! She loved my pieces and believe in what my brand stands for as Cosmo is truly a #GirlBoss medium that empowers women! Many times designers and entrepreneurs are fearful in their quest to simply reach out or feel as though they shouldn't follow up. In the process, I have learned that 'pride' is the enemy of success. Pride will keep you from just going for it. I always look at it as, 'the worse they can say is no.' But I am always positive!"
[Tweet "Pride is the enemy of success. Pride will keep you from just going for it."]
What she thinks about female empowerment
People say it is lonely at the top, but Altrichia doesn't believe that. She believes that you can take people with you–people that have the same ambitions as you. As Altrichia told me, "You have to know that it is never a contest or competition. It is over 7 billion people in the world and only those who think scarcity think of competition. Why fight over crumbs when we can just go in the kitchen and cook something in a bigger pot? My brand is my brand so I’m never in competition with anyone. I am more focused on making myself better. What is meant for me will never pass me by so I am not worried about fighting over opportunities with others.”
[Tweet "Only those who think scarcity think of competition."]
As Altrichia told me, "We need more women that want to support other women. Through my brand, I really want to break the whole barrier of this “competing thing.” Sonia Jackson Miles, one of my mentors, has been so amazing and a very intricate part of my entrepreneur journey. She has a movement called the Sister Accord and it is all about spreading the love of sisters and uplifting others. Sonia believes that mean girls become mean women if there isn’t an intervention and that is so true. Instead of competing, let’s collaborate. I’m not in competition with you and will never be. I’m always trying to help people and connect people."
[Tweet "Don't compete - learn how to collaborate."]
How she picks her girl squad
Altrichia believes that as women, we don’t need to have the mindset of “you can’t sit with us.” We should have people in our lives that we can grow from. On the same note, Altrichia believes that it is very important to be mindful of the type of people that you surround yourself with. As she said, "Your circle of friends should depend on your preference and ambitions. For example, everyone I know is not going to be in my circle and that is okay because everyone doesn’t have the same mindset as me."
Mentors vs. friendtors
As Altrichia told me, "I have plenty of mentors, but I also have friendtors. I think it is important to have friendtors–those friends that have the same mindset as you and that uplift you. You have to understand that as a woman, no one will ever understand us like us. As women, we have menstrual cycles, some of us have children, and we typically go through the same things. So why not be there for your sister? One of my friendtors, Alicia Reese, was actually one of my customers and now we do a lot of business together. This is because we have been there to support each other and we celebrate each other successes. Even though we live in two different states, we still uplift each other and support each other in any way that we can. It is crazy how women can be so catty and don’t want to support one another."
[Tweet "We all should have "friendtors" is our lives to uplift us and take us higher."]
Tips for Self-Empowerment
In her interview, Altrichia told me, "While there are a lot of platforms like xoNecole and others, you have to have a higher level of self-encouragement and confidence. Because what happens after you read an inspiring article and it is all over? You have to find that motivation within and harness it. You have to be encouraged and learn how to encourage yourself. I also learned early on that you have to learn how to celebrate your own success and accomplishments. You can’t downsize what makes you great. By celebrating your accomplishments you will inspire others to do the same."
By learning how to empower ourselves and others, we can find the confidence and motivation that we need to be successful. There is opportunity available for anyone that is determined enough to hustle hard for it, so there is no point in wasting energy competing with others. Instead of competing with others, we should start collaborating with others, and joining forces to grow ourselves and accomplish our goals.