Let me be the first to tell you that being a fashion blogger is not all the glitz and glamour that it appears to be. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of perks to being an influencer, from the free clothes to event invitations to being in the same room and connecting with fashion's cool kids.
There are, also, a lot of sleepless nights spent plotting, planning, and producing. So, why do it, you may ask? Because the reward is so much greater than the risk and the work. Let me tell you about how I look forward to Mondays now. For the first time in my life, I'm doing something that I actually, dare I say it, enjoy!
Almost nine years of my life was spent building a very dry career as an Engineer in Corporate America. After obtaining a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Howard University (Aww HU!), I obtained what most considered a "good job". The paycheck was great, the benefits were amazing, I had three or more weeks of paid vacation but I was 100% and absolutely miserable. It was the very essence of square peg round hole!
A few weeks after celebrating a pretty monumental birthday in Paris and Rome, I had a very real come-to-Jesus moment in my life. Someone very close to me had a completely unexpected near death experience. The realization that death can come at any moment has a funny way of shifting your perspective on life. About a month or so after breaking down, jumping on plane last minute, and braving through the severity of the situation, I got a knock on my door. Life showed up and asked me, “Are you going to continue to be miserable or are you going to try to turn this thing around? It's your choice."
A huge part of who you are is how you react to moments of adversity. That situation forced me to be more involved with the direction of my life. I did not have to keep showing up at that job, looking at those gray walls and being stationed at that cubicle for hours doing work that gave me not one ounce of joy. I actually had the power to change it.
I did, however, have to figure out how the bills were going to get paid because they don't stop showing up just because you've had your “Aha" moment. I spent a few more years working and simultaneously building the foundation for my personal style blog, The Werk! Place.
Along this process of continuing to walk in my purpose and getting these bills paid, I've learned a few key lessons:
Lesson #1: It Will Take Some Time Before You Are Paid For Your Work
I learned very quickly as an influencer that just because you've invested time, energy, money and resources into your craft, doesn't mean that people want to pay you for it. You may have to do
some a lot of work pro bono.
Starting out, not one person is going to be familiar with your brand, work ethic, or finished product, so you're going to have to show them what you're werking with! Find the right contacts, do the werk and build the portfolio. Once you've shown the consistency and quality needed to sustain your business, then you have the tools necessary to ask for what you deserve.
Lesson #2: Your Network Is Your Net Worth
I'll be honest, I still struggle with this one a little bit. I absolutely hate asking people to connect me to a person, event, or a project. I will do everything in my power to try to get what I need before I go to someone else for the plug. Just know, If I'm asking for help, I've exhausted the possibilities on my own. One day, I'll spend some time on someone's couch and get to the root of it all.
As of late, I'm learning that some people are placed into your life to be vessels. They are meant to take you to a level that you can't reach on your own. So get out there and network at events, mingle with other influencers, publicists and brands on social media, and utilize the network you've already built. Once you reveal to others what you are trying to do, you'd be surprise at how many people are willing to help you get there.
Lesson #3: You Have To Be Your Own Publicist
As an influencer, it goes down in the inbox (and sometimes the DM). If it's set up well, the site and the accompanying social media channels can serve as a living resume. Brands will reach out for collaborations based on what they see online.
Brands were reaching out but they were not always brands that I wanted to align with The Werk! Place. I had to be more active about seeking out the companies that I genuinely enjoyed to create organic partnerships.
I put on my Public Relations hat and called on my best friend Google to create a media kit that would represent my aesthetic. Shortly after I sent it out to potential partners I wanted to work with, it lead to projects that made more sense for my brand.
Lesson #4: You Will Have To Put The Balance Back Into Werk/Life Balance
When you've finally started to enjoy what you do, your brain will always be churning with ideas. You will find that you can literally work for seven days straight if it were not for needing sleep and taking showers.
I learned that while that sounds good in theory, in practice, you can't be very productive if you work all the time. You will burn out and begin to despise what you do. You have to give your body and mind time to rest. I've gotten some of my best ideas in the middle of a run or in the car on the way to an event. Take a break, live a little.
Lesson #5: You Can't Be A Jack or Jill Of All Trades All The Time
I'm pretty independent and have prided myself on being able to do all of the things at the same time all by myself. I mean, my favorite bible verse and one that I repeat several times throughout the day is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!" As a small business owner, you're going to have to wear many hats (like all of them). You are going to have to be your own accountant, publicist, manager, assistant, social media manager, and so forth until you start bringing in enough income to hire on people to help you. You'll soon figure out, however, that in order to stay ahead of the game, you're going to have to eventually outsource and delegate some of those tasks.
So much of my time has been spent on the business of blogging that, at times, the actual blogging gets left behind. How Sway?! If you can get someone to manage more of the business, social media scheduling or accounting, you can actually get back to the core of the business.
Lesson #6: Scared Money Doesn't Make Any Money
When I started out as a Personal Style Blogger back in 2012, I set myself up pretty well. Due to my certifiable shopping addiction, I had the clothes, shoes and accessories to create the looks necessary for three years' worth of blog posts. However, I wasn't completely prepared for the other business expenses that I would incur.
If you are going to be successful as an influencer, you will absolutely without a doubt have to invest money into your brand. Your site design, domain name, logo, trademark, (hair, makeup, manicure, pedicure --if your brand is based off of your personal appearance), business cards, thank you notes, media kit, accounting software and continuing education courses will all be valid expenses when starting up your business. Before the companies start blowing up your inbox and sending packages to your P.O. Box, you will have to be your own biggest supporter and sponsor.
These are some of the biggest lessons I've learned during my time as a fashion brand, and tidbits I wish I had known ahead of time.
For more style tips and advice on starting your own fashion brand, follow @tiffanymbattle on Instagram.
Originally published April 13, 2018
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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