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.
Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
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!
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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images