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This Mother/Hustler Started Her Blog Three Years Ago. Now She Makes Six Figures.

This mom-of-three gives us the blueprint to bringing home the bacon (and bread and butter, too.)

Mother/Hustler

In xoNecole's series Mother/Hustler, we sit down with influential mom bosses who open up about the ups and downs of motherhood, as well as how they kill it in their respective industries, all while keeping their sanity and being intentional about self-care.

Lifestyle blogger Jehava Brown has four very special men in her life––three of which call her "mommy". While this Pennsylvania-based entrepreneur may have a full house of growing boys, her lucrative lifestyle blog allows her to bring home the bacon (and bread and butter, too).

Only three years ago, Jehava launched OnlyGirl4Boyz on a wish and a prayer, and today, this Mother/Hustler says that the fruits of her faith have been nothing short of a blessing. According to Jehava, the first step to success is getting out of your own way. "As simple as it sounds, just do it!" she explained. "So many people I have come across have all these plans they are ironing out when they could be in the process of growing their businesses. The people who do well in business are the ones who do not let fear of the unknown cripple them."

For a creative on the come-up, analysis paralysis is real, but Jehava wants you to know it's time to stop planning and start doing. Although the first step can be the hardest, it is also the most important. "When I started blogging, I knew enough to get everything going, but I had A LOT to learn. I learned as I went along, but I knew that the longer I 'planned', the less likely I was to start it. Also, I could still start producing an income that I would have missed out on if I didn't just hit the ground running."

We sat down with Jehava to talk more about budgeting, time management, and making your income work for you. Here's what we learned:

xoNecole: How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?

Jehava Brown: Prayer and time with my girls can help me feel better in almost any situation. My faith is a big factor in my life and helps me take a step back and see all of God's many blessings when the cares of life feel like too much. Hanging out with my girlfriends encourages me to recognize how similar our issues are and that I'm not alone.

What’s the hardest part of your day?

JB: It would probably be once I pick my kids from school and my "second job" starts. I put on my mom hat while still balancing work through early-evening. I'm typically helping with homework, prepping dinner, and answering emails.

How (and how often) do you practice self-care?

JB: Once a week, I have a night out with a girlfriend. We typically go somewhere good for dinner, but it's so relaxing to unwind and eat alone in peace. When I go back to my family, I feel energized and ready to take on the busyness of life. This is something I made a priority a few years ago, and it has made all the difference.

"My faith is a big factor in my life and helps me take a step back and see all of God's many blessings when the cares of life feel like too much. Hanging out with my girlfriends encourages me to recognize how similar our issues are and that I'm not alone."

When do you feel most productive? 

JB: First thing in the morning! I wake up and make my family breakfast and get everyone out of the house. Then, I start working by 8 am. I find I am most productive from then until noon. I can just focus on my business and tend to have the most energy (mainly because when I get my kids from school, I am juggling more and have to multi-task).

What is your favorite way to spend “me time”? 

JB: I love going to the spa a few times a year or planning a girls' trip to get away, but on a more normal basis, I enjoy getting my nails and hair done as they just help me feel special even if I'm in sweats.

What is your advice for dealing with mom guilt? 

JB: Even though I work from home, it is really hard to manage everything I have on my plate, and I have definitely battled with mom guilt. With my business, it definitely feels like the more time and energy you put in, the more successful you are. That is hard because some weeks I work 50 to 60 hours. In the past year, I have learned how to not let work control my life and cut back my hours by hiring more help. Another thing is just coming to grips with what I am bringing to the table and being proud of that.

I make a large income for my family, and we have had tons of all-expense-paid trips to Disney World, Vail, Colorado, and many other places due to my job. So acknowledging that my job affords my children better experiences, memories, and daily life helps with any guilt associated with the work it takes to be successful. I also make sure I am intentional in having meaningful family time each week where I am not working and we are spending time together.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

JB: To not take "no" personally. I think the difference between those who succeed and those who struggle to see their business flourish is how they interpret the word "no". I have met so many people in this business that are paralyzed by the idea of being turned down by pitching collaborations with companies and brands. I learned early on to just push past the negative responses and try harder. Even with all of my success, I still hear that word on a normal basis and use it as inspiration to do more and dream bigger. I started out reaching for the stars and was shocked by the brands that responded. Perseverance makes all the difference.

"I think the difference between those who succeed and those who struggle to see their business flourish is how they interpret the word 'no.' I have met so many people in this business that are paralyzed by the idea of being turned down by pitching collaborations with companies and brands. I learned early on to just push past the negative responses and try harder."

What is the most important lesson you want your kids to learn from you?

JB: To follow and trust God with all of your heart, and He will bless you in whatever you put your mind to. Every step of my business I have given back to Him and He has been faithful to bless it. Also, to dream big, research the steps to make that happen, and go for it! Hard work and perseverance pay off!

Why was it important to you to be an entrepreneur even though some people may think that a 9-to-5 offers more stability? 

JB: I wanted to be available for my kids during these child-rearing years. I wanted to be there when they get home from school, volunteer in their classes, and make dinner each night. This was important to me and I believed I could do that while bringing in a consistent income. Yes, my goal was to make a standard full-time salary, but I didn't realize or dream it would become all that it has become!

How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur (or vice versa)?

JB: As a mom, I wear a lot of different hats and I do the same as an entrepreneur. It's helped me balance my time, multi-task each day, and be assertive. I use all of these in my business each day and in parenting. Also, being a mom has given me more inspiration to push for my goals than I would ever have if it was just for me.

What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy? 

JB: This is hard because when you have a business, success seems tied to the time you invest––especially in social media. However, I have found ways to be more effective with the time I invest in growing my brand. I have multiple calendars that I live by. One is for work, one is for our home life, and another my partnership manager and I share. This helps me stay focused on the tasks that need [to get] done each day. I also created work hours, and try to put down my phone and laptop outside of that.

What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family? 

JB: Every month my husband and I sit down to plan out our household budget and where we want our money to go. We also do quarterly goals for savings, paying off debt, investing and so on. We did this when we had 2 cents to our name and we were trying to save $50 in a month, and we still do this now with a six-figure household.

As far as business goes, I have multiple accounts for business expenses, savings, and taxes. This makes everything so much easier at the end of the year. I make sure that I pay everything out of these accounts, and never cross them with our family accounts. A plan makes all the difference in reaching your financial goals. Be sure to give yourself little rewards to stay encouraged along the way as you meet those milestones.

For more Jehava, follow her on Instagram @OnlyGirl4Boyz!

Featured image courtesy of Jehava Brown.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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