We've all heard the age-old saying, "Be the change you want to see," and that's especially important in the plight to level the business playing field for Black entrepreneurs. Tiffany Johnson, corporate manager at Amazon, is one such person who decided to do just that, mastering how to pitch an idea at work and winning.
By sheer observation within her community and while participating in a key role with the company's Black Employee Network (BEN), Tiffany found that Black sellers are underrepresented. "In 2019, I transitioned into a sales role where I assist sellers in the U.S. and help them expand into Canada and Mexico. During that role, I was able to grow many of my seller's accounts to millions of dollars," she said.
"Seeing that as a Black woman who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., it was really impactful because I just didn't know that people made that much money on Amazon. Being able to influence these small businesses to create high impact in their communities--that was eye-opening for me."
She thought it was important to make more Black entrepreneurs aware of how much of an "economic engine" Amazon is. "Talking to my friends, thinking about my experience growing up, and seeing how my parents built different businesses—this is something I knew they weren't aware of," she added. "That really led me to thinking, 'What if we were able to build a program to build awareness around Amazon within the Black community?"
Image by Lucas Jackson/Amazon
In seeking to find an opportunity to serve and build a solution, she teamed up with colleagues Jeremy Erdman and Rachad Lewis to bring the Black Business Accelerator to life, forging a $150 million pledge to provide Black entrepreneurs financial support, strategic business guidance, and mentorship, and marketing and promotional opportunities.
Getting the initiative greenlit took research, planning, collaboration, and pitching, and we can all take a nod from Johnson on how to spark innovation, build initiatives to serve communities, or back important values that we're passionate about at work.
Check out a few tips from Tiffany's journey on how you can step up your leadership game at your company and empower others—and yourself.
1. Get to know your company's mission, values, and cultural protocol to create the best plan for approach in pitching your idea.
Tiffany had learned about the company culture and mission during the interview process as well as in her early days as an employee. She'd watch and observe. "At Amazon, we pride ourselves in thinking about the customers and working backward," Tiffany added. "I had to tell the story of why this product is needed and what problem it was solving."
As in Tiffany's experience, it's always a good idea to know the ins and outs of the company as well as the people to whom you're pitching to. So, actually read your company's handbook (yes, that huge packet they give new hires) and brush up on your company's mission statement, bylaws, or principles. Talk to coworkers and keep an open line of communication with not only your manager, but those who are in leadership in other departments (if not against any company rules, policies, or ethics.)
Keep up with any interoffice or online news of company wins, business strategy implementations, promotions, and failures. This will surely help you to learn more about career moves and communication methods that work and those that just don't, and it will allow you to get to know the types of things that hold merit for leaders at your company.
Clockwise from left, Tiffany Johnson, Rashad Lewis
Image by Lucas Jackson/Amazon
2. Find collaborators and supporters who will back your idea and help bring it to life.
To have a fighting chance at a yes for a proposal or idea, the more support and help you can get, the better. "At the time, I was still pretty new into sales, and [Rachad] was my onboarding buddy who was helping me ramp up in my role," Tiffany recalled. "I went to him and said, 'Hey what if we had a program similar to what we're doing now, for minority businesses on Amazon?'
Rachad connected Tiffany to "the right stakeholders," including Jeremy, another colleague who was building a platform for employees to pitch their ideas. "I got in contact with Jeremy and he gave me the link to that accelerator program. I wrote the first one-pager and submitted my idea. This was July 2019. You have to get the right people in the room to pitch your idea to."
Just as Tiffany did, it's ideal to think about the people whose jobs or everyday work might be impacted by your idea or concept, and try to align yourself with them. Also, look into company resources or programs that call for presenting new ideas or proposals or that support the change you'd like to see. Think of the benefits in a holistic way in terms of why your company should back your idea and what tangible results will come from it (i.e. revenue boost, better employee satisfaction, expansion of customer base, or increased brand presence) versus general things like "It's just a good idea," or "Everybody's doing it."
3. Do your research and allow the data to drive the pitch home.
"When we fast-forward to COVID-19, over 40% of Black businesses had been impacted, which is a big deal, but only 6% of Black businesses make up the retail space," Tiffany added. "When you're pitching such a huge program to leaders, it's important that whatever your story says, it builds that trust. I think, for the most part, it was a matter of reading the data."
Whether it's implementing incentive programs for your team, asking for a raise, or even pushing for something as seemingly small as new chairs for your office, having numbers or insights to back up your why can mean the difference between getting a slow yes or a quick no. And even researching the process and impact of implementation (ie. who is supposed to hear you out, what departments should be notified, or any possible tax or legal issues that might arise) to be able to answer questions or address opposition is important.
No matter what your game-changing idea is, be inspired by Tiffany's journey to make millions of dollars in resources available to Black sellers on Amazon, and be smart in setting your plan in motion to turn a dream into reality.
Featured image via Getty Images
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
DC Young Fly Pays Tribute To His Longtime Partner Jacky Oh After Her Sudden Death: 'You Are The Greatest Mother I Know'
For context, Smith --who rose to fame as a model and participated in the hit comedy game show Wild 'N' Out for five seasons-- tragically passed away on May 31 at the age of 32 in Miami, Florida. Although Smith's official cause of death has yet to be determined, TMZ reported that the entrepreneur was in town to undergo a cosmetic procedure known as a "mommy makeover."
As the news about Smith's passing was officially confirmed by family and on Wild 'N' Out's social media pages, a magnitude of people, from fans to the couple's close friends and colleagues such as B.Simone, Jessie Woo, Vena "Pretty Vee" Excell, Lauren "Lolo" Wood, Odell Beckham Jr., Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, and so many others offered their condolences while honoring the mother of three.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Warner Bros
Two days after Smith's death, Whitfield released a public statement to People magazine thanking everyone for their "well-wishes" and asking for "privacy during this difficult time."
The following week on June 8, Whitfield paid tribute to Smith by sharing a post on Instagram that featured various photos and videos of the pair and their children, daughters Nova Whitfield,6, Nala Whitefield,2, and a son, who was born in July 2022, named Prince Whitfield.
In addition to the upload, Whitfield revealed that he waited a while to post this because he wanted the tragic event "to be a dream." The 31-year-old would add that as the days go by following Smith's passing, he's "reminded of" the reality that she's no longer here, and he wanted to make sure to commemorate her in a "proper manner." Further into the post, Whitfield praised Smith for being the "greatest mother" and human being.
"I wasn't in no rush to post this because I wanted it to be a dream so bad, but every hour, I'm reminded of reality, so I wanna make sure I applaud you in the proper manner,” he said. “You are the GREATEST MOTHER I KNOW your soul was beautiful. You always wanted the best for others, and I admired how our family love each other!!! Never had to worry about our kids loving each other cause you were on top of Dat!!!"
Whitfield would disclose that although he may not understand Smith's untimely passing, however, because he and their family are "God-fearing" people and "grounded by the spirit," they aren't questioning "the higher power" but rather rolling "with the punches," while holding on to their faith during this tragedy.
The Almost Christmas star went on to say that the pair's "strong" children will constantly be reminded of how great of a person Smith was, "especially a great mother."
Whitfield would wrap up the upload by mentioning how much he loved Smith and that, even though everyone is hurting right now, they would be okay because God covers them.
"The QUEEN of my children will always have a spot in my heart and the paradise (You gon get me for Dat but it's true). LOVE YOU FOREVER. Just know we going harder than ever, and GOD is in control, and he got us covered," he stated.
In light of Smith's death, xoNecole takes a look back at her relationship with Whitfield and the love they shared over the years.
DC Young Fly And Jacky Oh's Relationship History
Whitfield and Smith met in 2015 in a hotel lobby while working together at Wild 'N' Out.
At the time, Whitfield became a recurring cast member during the show's seventh season while Smith was one of the Wild 'N' Out girls. Whitfield and Smith would become an item shortly after the season seven taping of Wild 'N' Out wrapped.
In 2016, after dating for a year and a half, the couple welcomed their oldest daughter Nova. In addition to expanding their family, Smith and Whitfield would give fans a closer look into their lives through social media and the model's YouTube page, which instantly became a hit.
Smith and Whitfield would ultimately become couple goals because people enjoyed their honesty, interactions with each other, and their family life.
Jacky Oh On What Makes Her Relationship With DC Young Fly Work
In a 2017 interview with DJ Smallz Eyes, Smith shared that her relationship with Whitfield works reasonably well because they aren't afraid to have an open line of communication and are willing to address any situation head-on.
"I think communication, I know it sounds really cliche, but just communicate with each other. I think getting things off of your chest in a nice, calm way. You don't always have to be confrontational with the person. But letting a person know how you feel about something so they don't carry on doing it for the next three, four, five months, years later on down the line."
Smith added that another factor that plays a part in the couple's relationship being so successful is her selectively picking her battles and choosing to address the situation in a timely manner.
Jacky Oh On The Pair's Humble Beginnings As A Couple
In 2019, during a Q&A session on Smith's YouTube page, the couple opened up about their humble beginnings as they addressed the wild rumors that she was using Whitfield for financial reasons.
While responding to the remarks, Smith clarified that when she met Whitfield, he didn't have money "like that."
"He had no money. It's not like he didn't have any money because he was broke, but he didn't have no money like that," she said.
Following Smith's comments, Whitfield jumped in and said he was "up" $40,000 and still living with family members with the occasional "hotel" stays, to which she interjected and corrected the comedian by saying that the pair were staying at "motels" early on in their relationship.
"We didn't stay at hotels, get it right. We stayed at motels. Talking about hotels, hotels are nice," she stated. "We stayed at motels that the bed stunk... You know I really like love him. Like it was dirty."
Whitfield would add that although they stayed at motels several times, Smith "thugged it out" with him because she loved him. Smith also shared that due to Whitfield rarely being home due to his profession, the couple slept on his sister's couch and his niece's room.
But as Smith and Whitfield's careers took off respectively within the entertainment industry and the beauty world, with the star launching her eyelash and lip gloss brand J Nova Collection, they would ultimately settle down and purchase a home.
Years later, in addition to their professional success, Smith and Whitfield's family would expand even more following the birth of their second daughter Nala Whitfield in 2020 and their son Prince Whitfield last July.
Although it is reported that the couple never married after eight years together, their love seemed stronger than ever, especially following Smith's Mother's Day post back in May, which featured images of the couple and their family.
All of us at xoNecole would like to send our condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy. Rest In Peace, Ms. Jacky Oh!
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Feature image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images