Technology and travel are becoming the driving force behind so much of what the world is evolving into. For example, Americans make up about 85% of all flight travel in the world. In the U.S. alone, Black millennial travel comes in at nearly 5 million, roughly 43% of the entire American Black population. And with popular social media groups such as Nomadness and Travel Noire leading the pack, the newly coined "black travel" has saturated a $63 billion chunk in the space.
That's billion, with a b. #BlackTravelDollarsMatter.
But with all this traveling we're doing, I couldn't help but wonder what methods most people use to manage communication with locals on a fundamental and conversational level. I recall traveling to Kenya where I was met with "Jambo mrembo" and other Swahili phrases and conversations at every turn. Although largely a bilingual country, I remember times where there were major language barriers.
In comes Quiante Hedrick (call her Qui), co-founder of the most game-changing translator app in the world, Instaspeakers.
Jasmine Oliver of J Lauryn Photography
Instaspeakers is a live, on-demand translating app that allows you to video chat with a translator anywhere in the world. With the app, you can have a seamless conversation with individuals that do not speak the same language as you at any time, on any level.
I took the time to meet with Qui to learn more about how she plans to revolutionize travel. She joins me for smoothies at Fruve' Xpress Juicery in Chicago's South Loop for our interview. As she arrives, she has a captivating, mini-powerhouse scent that fills the room. We greet each other with smiles and pleasantries as she shifts into business-mode to discuss how Instaspeakers came into fruition.
"One of the major issues that prevent people from traveling, or truly experiencing different countries is the language barrier," she begins as we review the app's capabilities. "You can go anywhere in the world, but can you have a seamless conversation with someone while you are there? The answer is no. That's why we created Instaspeakers."
Her excitement shows beyond her huge smile, natural aura illumination, and fly outfit. She explains, "[For example], Google Translate doesn't know how to connect what we've just talked about two sentences ago, with what I'm saying now. It's literally just meant to spit out the best version of what you say, in the language that you choose. That's it. And we wanted to change that narrative. We noticed this problem and wanted to provide a solution."
As a former law student, Qui ultimately made the decision to forego her education in an industry she had studied in, to shift to an entirely unfamiliar concentration in the tech space. And although she comes from a family that has operated multiple successful businesses, she knew that she was in over her head. "In addition to Instaspeakers, I am also a wife and mother. I didn't have the flexible schedule to adequately continue law school and develop a company at the same time. I knew I had to adjust my focus to the brand 1000%," she explains.
And from there, Instapeakers was fully born.
It goes without saying that there is a large disparity between black women in STEM (only 2.9% of STEM bachelor degrees belong to black women) versus an industry such as beauty and cosmetics. But over time, STEM has become a highly encouraged industry by other high-profile giants such as Lebron James, Verizon, and Drew Brees.
Yet, due to many melanin-related problems that are relevant in all industries across Corporate America, STEM has routinely had a difficult time retaining those who enter the field. Researchers suggest that the best way to keep black women in STEM is to give those women someone that looks like them to look up to and that's where Qui comes in.
"[Because I hadn't] had previous experience as a student in tech, I had to learn a lot on my own and become comfortable with being uncomfortable. As much as we want to have all of our ducks in a row before we embark on a new journey, it doesn't always happen that way. It was best to just start."
In my head, I take note of this same recurring theme from all the entrepreneurs I've featured in the past. She continued, "Now we're on track to reaching one of our largest goals in a year. So, in many ways, Instaspeakers is vital to the culture. It's one step closer to breaking barriers, providing opportunities for our people, [and] allowing us to participate in this new tech boom."
She takes a quick call as I continue to play around with functionalities. I'm pleased to see the user experience is straightforward and minimally invasive. The most interesting element to the app is it allows you to have a personal translator on standby, at all times. Think of their business model as being identical to Uber, but instead of calling a ride, you're calling for language assistance.
When Qui returns, she notices that I'm having a little too much fun playing around and we both laugh. I tell her about my Kenya trip and how the app would have been so beneficial.
"You know what, in Kevin Hart's Irresponsible stand-up he explained how he forgot to schedule a translator for his visit to Japan, and by the time he realized that he needed a translator it was too late. He pivoted this moment into a hilarious joke about being at a theme park while in Japan, and not knowing the language. This literally could have been an Instaspeakers ad," she laughs.
We switch gears and begin to touch on her family, home life, and her best self-care practices. Her contagious smile appears again as her acai bowl arrives. We briefly chat about her husband and son, who she credits with as the aspects of her life that keep her going. I then ask how she balances being both a wife and mom, with being an entrepreneur.
"Well, I've changed my mind about the number of hours that are within a day," she says as she laughs. "I remember waking up at 7 am and thinking that was early! Ha! Now my mornings begin at 4:30."
A true struggle all business owners can relate to.
Qui shared, "Plus I have successful people in my life that won't let me give up and continue to push me. As long as there is a problem that needs to be solved, I [am] motivated."
We close out with me asking what's next for her and Instaspeakers.
"Simply put, we want to be the reason that people can travel anywhere in the world, and never worry about language again. So, this is what we'll remain focused on."
And with full pride and satisfaction, we toast our smoothies and cheers to all the women who unapologetically do the same.
For more on Instaspeakers, visit their website at www.instaspeakers.com. It is available for download in all app stores.
Featured image by Jasmine Oliver of J Lauryn Photography.
- Instaspeakers (@instaspeakers) | Twitter ›
- instaspeakers (@instaspeakersapp) | Instagram photos, videos ... ›
- INSTASPEAKERS PRESS KIT | JillSock Creative ›
- Instaspeakers - Home | Facebook ›
- Instaspeakers App ›
- This App Will Give You Real-Time Access to a Live Translator When ... ›
- This App Will Give You Real-Time Access to a Live Translator When ... ›
- Instaspeakers Translator on the App Store ›
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!
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images