Cultural mecca and home to a diverse community of urban beauty, art and history, Oakland, California is the epicenter of afrocentrism. Located just minutes from San Francisco, separated by a small body of water and the Bay Bridge, Oakland has its own distinct history, sounds, tastes, and social movements known around the world. Affectionately known as "The Town", this city has always been a resource for those seeking natural and holistic approaches to their everyday lives. Notorious for its appreciation of black culture and traditions, it's no wonder there has been an explosion of black entrepreneurs from tech, fashion and beauty taking advantage of the feel-good nature this city has to offer.
GoodBody founder Brittany Barns
Courtesy of GoodBody
Black woman-owned and operated, GoodBody, is Oakland's newest beauty destination. Opening in October 2020 amidst a global pandemic, this one of a kind beauty bar celebrates diversity by providing an oasis for women with afro-textured hair. A trendy yet modern experience offering a range of services including wash and go's, crochet twists and blowouts to beauty treatments such as facial threading and waxing, GoodBody is not your typical black hair salon.
Courtesy of GoodBody
"Every black woman understands how difficult it can be to find efficient and professional haircare, which should be the standard," says founder Brittany Barns. "You go somewhere to get your hair done and you expect to be in and out in a decent amount of time and expect the service to be professional. Even if that's walking in and being greeted, something that simple."
Taking the pain out of the ordinary salon visit, GoodBody is setting the tone by elevating black haircare not only with excellent service but understanding the importance of a luxury experience. Brittany states, "From the time you walk in, before we get to your hair, we understand that you've chosen to spend your money here and that is something that should not be taken for granted."
Courtesy of GoodBody
Not only is GoodBody salon dedicated to an amazing customer experience, walking through its doors felt as though I teleported to an oasis of my dreams. With a sleek modern design complete with high arches and a complimentary color palette, creating a welcoming environment through interior design was a top priority. "The thing that a lot of people don't think about for black women is that we actually enjoy being in beautiful spaces. There are very few created for us."
Getting frustrated with salon experiences, Brittany realized what was missing in our world for haircare.
"I began to question what type of space I would envision wanting to spend 8-10 hours. I wanted to create a place for haircare that met a standard that black women deserve."
Writer Shahirah Ahmed
Courtesy of Shahirah Ahmed
Having the opportunity to visit this one of a kind beauty experience for the "Unwind and Define" service, consisting of a wash, define and go, I was impressed not only by the enchanting decor but the attention to individual haircare. With a mini consultation consisting of a short survey of questions to understand personal needs, the GoodBody team's dedication of specializing in health and wellness begins as soon as you sit in the styling chair.
"Most of the time it's assumed you're not going to be wearing your natural hair when you go to a black salon, you must want to get it pressed, weave or a wig and trust me, I wear all those things but whatever you decide to do, there has to be some type of consultation. If you're experiencing dryness or breakage, how can we help you with that?"
Brittany continues, "A consultation is more than the service being performed today, it's letting the stylist know what you're loving about your hair, getting to know what a client doesn't love, product recommendations, a detailed regimen on how to get your hair where you want it to be. That's extremely important to our business plan."
Courtesy of GoodBody
The essence of GoodBody is more than a name, it's a lifestyle. "I have hopes and dreams of what GoodBody can be and really expanding the self-care space for black women. I wanted a name that had a lot of room for growth."
"It's not just about hair, the goal is to focus on self-care and creating beautiful spaces of wellness for black women. We're known for voluptuous high volume hair with a lot of body and we are embracing that luminous and voluminous full look."
Redefining "good hair" is this contemporary salon's main focus is a holistic approach to every aspect of our lives, for a good body of overall health from head to toe creating an experience unlike any other.
GOODBODY BEAUTY SALON
430 W. GRAND AVE
Featured image courtesy of GoodBody
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
The new year is in full motion, which means we’re gearing up to walk into our greatest season yet. While New Year’s resolutions can look different for everyone, every woman needs a trusty journal to write her dream into a reality.
Journals secure our goals, document our lives, and keep our to-do lists in check. And while studies show that on average, one-third of resolutions don’t make it past the end of January, that won’t be our story. We’ve tapped the expertise of Jasmin Foster, founder of the inclusive stationery and gifts brand, Be Rooted for insight on how to utilize journals and planners to crush our goals all year long.
Courtesy of Jasmin Foster
When Jasmin launched her brand in 2020 as a passion project, it was the first time she wasn't chasing someone else’s dreams; instead, she began to prioritize her own. Jasmin established her brand with the belief that Black women deserve to feel seen and represented across covers and within the pages of their journals. It is both a reflection of our stories and an affirmation to be rooted in ourselves, our culture, and our desires. “I want women to be able to see our products and not feel like they had to make a choice,” Jasmin tells xoNecole.
Since launching, Be Rooted has made history by becoming the first Black-owned stationery brand to be sold at Target and continues to inspire Black women to explore their inner muse and celebrate themselves. “I want our customers to know that there’s a brand out there that believes in them and wants them to succeed,” she says. “We are just one of the tools in their toolbox that allows them to increase their productivity and to achieve their dreams.”
For xoNecole, Jasmin drops gems on best journaling practices, how to make measurable goals, how a chance encounter with Issa Rae taught her the importance of being specific while manifesting our dreams and more.
On the importance of representation through design:
Choosing journals that reflect one’s personality and identity is a key part of the journal selection process. Here, Jasmin shares her intentions behind selecting designs that make Black women feel seen. “We wanted to have products that people could carry with them in their everyday life that were reflective of them and encouraged them throughout the day. There weren't a lot of brands, especially national brands, that were putting Black artwork on the covers in the stationery space. Having artwork that was more inclusively designed and reflective of our community was something that really hadn't been tapped into in a large way.”
Courtesy of Jasmin Foster
Jasmin adds, “As we create every single design, we’re taking into account who we’re trying to talk to, how we're embodying her vibe, and taking into account different skin tones, body types, and hair textures. People are coming to our brand to either find a reflection of themselves or a reflection of someone in their life that they're looking to connect with; and if it's not the artwork, they're looking at the words.”
On how to get started in your journaling practice:
Jasmin explains, “Journaling doesn't have to be something that you need to sit down every day and be like, ‘Dear Diary...’, it should be for when you're ready to sit down, write those honest truths, and recap your day. I'm never going to be the person that is going to push that you have to write every single day because that may not be everybody’s authentic truth. However, if you are someone who is looking to make it a daily habit, as a goal of yourself, I would say there are some amazing journal prompts that you can leverage as a starting tool. Some examples that I think are important are, ‘What am I grateful for the day?’ and ‘One thing I was proud of is…’ Using these journal prompts is a great way to get started,” she shares.
On being specific about your dreams:
Jasmin shares how a chance encounter with actress and producer, Issa Rae, revealed the importance of making your goals as gradual as possible. “While at Essence Festival this year, we were running into all these amazing celebrities, and I thought, ‘What if by the end of the week, I could finally meet Issa Rae?’ I didn’t want to meet her as a fan, I wanted to meet her while we were eating dinner or something where I could have a conversation. I went to dinner an hour later and guess who walks into the restaurant? Issa Rae. And she gets the table across from me. I realized I have to be a little bit more specific with my dreams because I meant to tell God that I wanted her to sit at the table with me,” she says laughingly. “Be very intentional with what you ask for.”
On how to make your dreams measurable:
“Be very clear about what you want. I think in the vision board space, we focus on collecting pretty pictures. But we should also take the time to write a couple of action steps to start marching towards that goal. Think of what the pathway is to get there. Another kind of gut check that I've been doing for myself is, as I'm writing down goals, putting timeframes around them. If every goal is something I can complete in the next six months, I'm not dreaming big enough.”
On giving yourself permission to dream beyond the surface level:
“Because I'm moving so fast at building a business, I often don't take the time I should to reflect on all the amazing things that are actually happening in my life. One prompt that I use at the beginning of the year is, 'My dream is…' and then build upon it. For many of us, our dreams can be very surface because we need to feel like we’re able to actually achieve them. So for me, it's important to write, 'My dream is…' and then push it beyond that and take it up another level.”
On how journals and planners can help create structure and routine in your life:
While some people may look to journals as a means to file away tasks, they can also be a great tool for organizing our life. Jasmin shares how she creates structure through daily planning. “I live by my planner. With my busy schedule, I have to write everything down that needs to get done. One thing I love about planners is that it gives you a structured space to prioritize everything. Oftentimes, we use our notebooks to create to-do lists that are 25 items deep, but when you prioritize the top five things that you’re going to do for today, it becomes way more achievable. I leverage those tools to help increase my productivity on a daily basis.”
Courtesy of Jasmin Foster
On what journaling has taught her about herself over the years:
Jasmin shares how getting your thoughts out on paper can help you get honest about your dreams. “Journaling has allowed me to be honest when I'm ready. I oftentimes find that I will stay in the ruminating phase of dealing with my thoughts/ideas in my head until I'm ready to write them down and put them on paper; and at that point, it becomes real for me. A lot of people are trying to figure out how to take their ideas and then turn them into reality, and journaling did that for me.
"The moment I put my thoughts on paper, I have to be honest with whatever goes onto that paper. You can tell yourself different lies or ignore your beliefs and thoughts when they're in your head, but when you write them down, that makes it real.”
On the affirmation she’s taking into the new year:
Simply put, “I'm that girl.” Jasmin says, “I've always played small and been comfortable being behind the scenes while figuring out how I can elevate and uplift those around me. I still want to do all of those things, but I'm stepping into the season of, ‘I'm that girl.’ I'm not going to play small. I'm not going to diminish myself. I'm going to fully embody the person that I'm trying to become, and y'all are gonna see that.”
“I think a lot of us need to own that we are ‘that girl’ in whatever space that looks like. We all need to stand tall and own the greatness and power that we have,” she adds.
Featured image courtesy of Jasmin Foster
Originally published on January 9, 2023