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This Entrepreneur's Love Story Inspired A Wedding Business That Doubled Her Salary

There's no expense too expensive when it comes to making your dream come true.

BOSS UP

My daddy always told me that you should never spend more than you earn. But anyone who's ever owned a business knows that this simple rule can be easily offset by the day-to-day financial responsibilities of being an entrepreneur.

From administrative and marketing management to profit and loss, there's no expense too expensive when it comes to making your dream come true and while these obligations may put some pressure on your pockets Just Elope CEO Jennifer Allen knows that investing in yourself always pays off.

To date, Jennifer and her husband Tavarous have officiated 80 weddings, married dozens of happy couples all over the country, and maintained full-time jobs at the same damn time and she recently sat down with xoNecole to share the secret to her entrepreneurial success.

Jumping The Broom

In 2017, this Dallas-based pop-up wedding expert used her own elopement as an opportunity to launch a business that has more than doubled her income in 12 months, and according to Jennifer, it all started with her ability to meet a need.

After a surprise engagement to her soon-to-be deployed husband, the couple was left with little-to-no options when it came to finding a last-minute wedding planner and a seed was planted. Desperate to jump the broom, Jennifer was left to resort to her last (and honestly, most regrettable) option. She explained, "Our experience at the courthouse was very cold and that right there is what made me say, 'OK, something has to be different. It can't be either go to City Hall or run off to Vegas. There has to be a medium that can be met.'"

Little did Jennifer know, she would be the person to fill the void she so blatantly saw in the industry.

Taking The Leap

The mother-of-two shared that it wasn't until years after tying the knot that she decided that planning a wedding wasn't half as lucrative as launching a business. Jennifer told xoNecole, "One day, I was sitting in my living room, and it just clicked: 'Girl, let it go.' Stop trying to force this. Stop trying to plan a way to spend additional money––you need to figure out a way to make additional money."

In that moment, Just Elope was born and the rest, Jennifer says, is history. After designing a marketable brand and portfolio from scratch, Jennifer and her husband hit the ground running and it wasn't long before the couple snagged their first, second, and eventually, 80th client and this duo has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

Although Jennifer and her husband may have chosen to take the road less traveled with the launch of their unconventional bridal business, this couple doesn't have all of their pennies in one bank. According to Jennifer, one of the most valuable lessons she's learned as an entrepreneur is the importance of keeping your day job. "Working full-time for me has allowed me to, number one, not be a slave to my business––in the sense of chasing the money, having to take on any and everybody because I jumped out there too quick. It has also allowed me to start building up that emergency fund."

"Working full-time for me has allowed me to, number one, not be a slave to my business––in the sense of chasing the money, having to take on any and everybody because I jumped out there too quick. It has also allowed me to start building up that emergency fund."

Jennifer said that because her children didn't sign up to have entrepreneurs as parents, it's up to her and her husband, who is currently in school to become a pediatric nurse, to make sure the bag is secured regardless, and working full-time jobs has allowed them to do exactly that. "I don't know what leap everybody is taking, but we have kids who depend on us and who depend on the stability that they are accustomed to. Man, I'm not gonna jeopardize their childhood and they have to grow up to be rappers and talk about how they struggled," she laughed. "That truly is our push."

Building The Empire

While today may not be the day that Jennifer and her husband quit their day jobs to pursue their business full-time, they are preparing diligently for when that time comes. Jennifer told xoNecole that along with maintaining multiple streams of income, setting healthy boundaries has been a superpower when it comes to developing her business acumen.

In the last year, Jennifer has more than doubled her salary and according to her, the secret to her success lies in her ability to unapologetically say, "Nah."

You will never be all things to all people, so you should pick who you want to be and stop apologizing for it. This, Jennifer, says, was a lesson that she learned early on in her career. She explained, "When we first started, I was chasing the money. But I quickly realized that the money is going to come as long as you are consistently putting out quality work and I could not put it out quality work and be my best self if I was not consistent in what the services were that I offered."

"When we first started, I was chasing the money. But I quickly realized that the money is going to come as long as you are consistently putting out quality work and I could not put it out quality work and be my best self if I was not consistent."

Jennifer shared that as soon as she found the courage to set boundaries for both herself and her business, she finally became confident in her ability to build an empire. "I set those boundaries and I got the confidence, that's the key, is getting the confidence to stick to your boundaries. My business flourishes so much because these are the rules."

She continued, "I'm a wife and a mom of boys [aged] seven and five. I cannot and will not allow myself to become emotionally invested in the back and forth that goes along with, 'Well what about this or what about that? This is what we offer. And our business was set up that way because I do have other obligations. So I had to make a business that works for me and my family. The couples that we've married have no complaints, all five-stars, all great reviews because we were for them. Right? And that's what made it work."

Solidifying The Legacy

Now that Jennifer has jumped the broom, taken the leap, and began building her empire, she is doing what it takes to solidify her legacy and create an environment for generational wealth. Self-sabotage is a creative entrepreneur's best friend, but Jennifer says that accountability might be the protection against deflection you didn't know you needed. "Be accountable for all of your actions. If you don't let yourself down, you can get so much done. We self-sabotage more than we know. And that's what keeps people from truly reaching the goals that they have set for themselves."

"Be accountable for all of your actions. If you don't let yourself down, you can get so much done. We self-sabotage more than we know. And that's what keeps people from truly reaching the goals that they have set for themselves."

According to Jennifer, her New Year's resolution is to become her own accountability partner and this year, she refuses to take excuses for an answer. "If I set a goal, I'm not going to let myself down by not accomplishing it because how can I expect to run a lucrative business If I'm not intentional––if I'm not intentional with my time, with my learning, with my surroundings? There's a lot of women out there that have great ideas and they are making excuses as to why they cannot get them done."

For more of Jennifer, follow her on Instagram @IAmJenniferAllen!

For more Jennifer, follow her on Instagram @IAmJenniferAllen!

Featured image courtesy of Jennifer Allen.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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