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Love Yours' co-founder Mia Banks is what happens when purpose and pain blossom into passion.
The southern girl was born in Dallas, TX and raised in a small town near Little Rock, AR and much like many of us, Mia had planned out her whole life. With dreams of taking over the soundwaves, she studied Speech Communication at Missouri Western State University and further at Howard University, leading to her first paid position in radio as a board operator for WPGC 95.5.
One thing she never planned was being diagnosed with uterine fibroids.
According to the National Institute of Health, between 80 and 90 percent of African-American women will develop fibroids by age 50. The medical community describes uterine fibroids as noncancerous growths of the uterus. They can range in number and size from a single growth to multiple growths, and from very small to large. For Mia, she didn't realize anything was wrong with her periods intially despite feeling like they were a "whole production." She'd be so fatigued during the day that she'd have to spend her 30-minute lunch break taking a nap. She wore super-sized pads during the day and large overnight pads at night, with the extra protection of sleeping with a towel underneath her out of fear she'd ruin her sheets while she slept.
One day, at the start of her daily 50-minute work commute, she bled so badly it soaked through her pad, underwear, and dress pants. That's when she knew something wasn't right.
During an annual women's wellness visit, her OB/GYN felt a mass – leaving her to think she was pregnant because her uterus had expanded to the size of a 25-week pregnancy. After countless appointments, specialized ultrasounds, self-research and communicating with other women who suffered from the same diagnosis, she decided to have surgery in 2015 to have eight fibroids removed. Having experienced a diagnosis that affected her self-esteem, Mia knew she needed to create something that would uplift women when they are at their most vulnerable. Through her experience, Love Yours was born.
Co-created with her business partner Lydia Page, Love Yours is a subscription box that creates a quarterly experience reminding women everywhere to love themselves wholly, inclusive of their body, journey, mind and spirit. Each box contains a self-care ritual, packed with all things wellness, beauty, and skincare products specifically curated to help women love themselves more.
We had a chance to talk with Mia about living an authentic life, diligently pursuing her passions, and being persistent in fulfilling her purpose all while looking good and having fun.
What inspired you to create Love Yours?
I was inspired to create Love Yours with my business bestie Lydia Page because we both were at a crux of life. I was ready to dig deeper to pursue my dream of starting my own business that catered to women interested in beauty, "bossin' up" and blossoming at this thing called life. After a couple of meetings, Lydia came up with the name "Love Yours" to remind women everywhere to love all that they are no matter where there are in life.
How has having fibroids affected your life in both your personal life and in business?
Having fibroids has affected my life in a variety of ways but thank God it doesn't affect me as negatively as it once did being four years post-op from my myomectomy. Within my personal life, full disclosure: it hindered my sex life. I did not enjoy sex whatsoever. I literally used to question myself and ask what was wrong with me? I even asked my boyfriend. Like, it was a real self-esteem blow. I couldn't lie on my stomach to sleep and when I lied on my back, I felt a tugging sensation. And I could never get a flat stomach, even though I was working out 3-4 times a week then.
Image courtesy of Mia Banks
"I did not enjoy sex whatsoever. I literally used to question myself and ask what was wrong with me? I even asked my boyfriend."
What advice do you have for women suffering from fibroids?
Do your own research and make the best decision for you! Get a second and even third opinion if you feel the need. Also, do not allow any doctor to make you believe that a hysterectomy is the only solution, especially if you desire to have children. Google is your friend. I researched and researched. I discovered that women have so many more options today. I even joined an online support group. I researched and tried holistic options as well. Ultimately, I did what was best for me and my well-being, and that is what I'd encourage women who are suffering today.
Also, talk to your moms, grandmothers, sisters, [and] friends because your support group is usually a lot closer than we think, as most Black women suffer in silence. I learned a lot about other women in my immediate family who experienced issues with fibroids as well. Know that no procedure is a 100% cure because sadly, in most cases, the fibroids may return. Unfortunately, a few fibroids have returned for me, but they are significantly smaller in size and number. Hence, I'm now focusing on eating better and really focusing on more natural, holistic options this time around because I at least want to take home a baby or two the next time I'm cut open.
What does Love Yours mean to you? And what do you hope for women to gain from the box?
Love Yours means loving all of you – unapologetically. Love your past, present and future because all of those experiences make up who you are and what you contribute to the world. Love Yours is about girls and women being confident to be their authentic selves, courageous to pursue their dreams and clear about who they are as a female. Love Yours also embodies collaboration and support amongst women; we need each other to survive and thrive. I hope that women everywhere no longer feel guilty for putting themselves first. Self-care is self-love, and we can't adequately take care of our families and other responsibilities, if we don't first take care of ourselves.
Image courtesy of Mia Banks
"Love Yours means loving all of you – unapologetically. Love your past, present and future because all of those experiences make up who you are and what you contribute to the world."
How do you balance your career and self-care?
This is an evolving process. I've learned to #lovemyselfmore by giving myself grace. Sometimes it's as simple as indulging in a sweet treat and reminding myself that it's okay to "eat the cake." Other times it has to be very intentional, like scheduling a full-body massage two times a month or setting time aside on my calendar for meditation and prayer. Honestly, that is what works best for me with my demanding work schedule, I must put it on my calendar and treat self-care like any other task. It is my responsibility to take care of me.
Can you share a time you felt lost and how you made it through?
There was a time while living in Washington, DC that I was unemployed and felt completely lost and didn't know up from down. Full transparency, I was slightly depressed as a small town Southern girl living in the big city, no longer in graduate school, no longer calling home for a loan and really having to figure things out on my own. That period really forced me to level up and show up for myself. Thank God for my genuine relationships and my commitment to maintaining those relationships mutually.
Eventually, as with almost every "down moment" of life, I made it back into the light. One day, I simply spoke up and asked a friend of mine if he knew of anyone who was hiring for part-time work, and he connected me with a private school on Capitol Hill that was looking for after-school care coordinators. I applied and received that job, and it turned out to be just the boost I needed to get myself back going. Not to mention I had a great confidant and roommate who was both supportive and reminded me of my talents. I connected with a church family that was literally a Godsend and reminded me that it will all work out for my good. Life will always give us exactly what we need when we need it, we just have to pay attention and go with the flow when circumstances are out of our control.
Image courtesy of Mia Banks
"Life will always give us exactly what we need when we need it, we just have to pay attention and go with the flow when circumstances are out of our control."
If you had to choose three words to describe your life, what would they be and why?
Covered – I truly cannot answer this question without giving all glory, thanks and honor to God. I have numerous times from childhood to now when I can remember when I was down to my last – I even had a car accident where I could've lost my life -- but God saved me. I'm covered by God's grace, and that means I must share that grace with others through my daily actions, personal and professional brand. That's why I'm so sincere about Love Yours uplifting women.
Hustlher – I've always had to work hard for everything. I've never been given anything. Since I was 18, I've worked two jobs. I currently work three jobs – radio personality, HR professional and freelance makeup artist. I learned the importance of hard work and never making excuses from my mother.
Ambitious – I've always been taught to dream big and do everything I can to make my dreams a reality. I'm very ambitious. From grade school to now. I have high goals that I will achieve as long as I remain committed, true to me and secure in my abilities. That last part is an ongoing fight. I will win.