Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they get it.
Ladies, I don't know about you, but when I see other women making their coin and a name for themselves through their passions, it just makes me feel all fuzzy inside. Especially when those women spread the wealth of knowledge to help other women earn extra income and secure all of the bags in the process. Contrary to popular belief, there is enough to eat sis, so we can all have a seat at the table. Lyn Allure, founder of Good Girls Gone Boss, is someone who believes that it pays to pay it forward.
The Toronto-based entrepreneur took advantage of the power of the internet and has been able to create multiple streams of income by changing her mindset around money and educating other women on how it's done. With a background in finance, Lyn used her experience in corporate and her bachelor's in Business Administration to jump-start her journey into entrepreneurship. Since leaving her corporate job seven years ago, Lyn has been able to harness the power of the internet to spearhead successful online businesses, including a successful YouTube channel.
Courtesy of Lyn Allure
In July 2020, Lyn launched her online platform Good Girls Gone Boss. She explained its inception, "I started Good Girls Gone Boss as a solution for other entrepreneurial-minded women to connect and share gems along this business journey. When I first started making money on social media and growing my brand, it was a very isolating process. I was in my own little world most of the time. None of my friends were into social media at the time, but I knew I had an interest in YouTube and I saw the potential there."
Lyn continued, "I thought to myself, 'If I can turn a fun hobby into more money, then why not?' So I had to learn how to do things on my own, like how to inquire about brand deals, tips for Google AdSense, affiliate links, etc. After I started to see the money coming in, I thought it would be helpful to really make this community with Good Girls Gone Boss because I figured other women felt isolated as well."
As a solution and a resource, Good Girls Gone Boss offers weekly YouTube videos surrounding personal finance tips, an exclusive community that includes hands-on support and trainings, and financial resources such as a budget workbook. The platform is a space for a community of unapologetically, ambitious bosses who are looking to design, plan, and execute their dream life.
In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with Lyn Allure about how normalizing financial literacy, staying humble, and making your money work for you are the keys to creating financial freedom.
On the definitions of wealth and success:
"With wealth, I believe that aligns with being financially free. To be able to live a quality of life without worrying about if you can afford it or not. I also consider someone being wealthy by the company they keep. You are only as wealthy as the people around you; whether that means helping your friends to get to your level if they are struggling, or passing down wealth for future generations.
"Now, with success, to me, is simply happiness. Not just being content, but being proud of yourself for where you are in life and in a state of bliss. We know success can be different for different people. Success can mean making six figures for some people and for others, it has nothing to do with money at all. Whatever success may mean to you, it should definitely include happiness."
On unhealthy mindsets about money she had to let go of:
"One thing for me was, the idea [that you have] to spend money to make money. You know that saying, 'scared money, don't make money'? That is absolutely true (laughs). I grew up in the hood, so I thought the best mindset about money was to make a lot of it and then save a lot of it. But the reality is, it is not just about how much money you make. It's about how much money you make and how much you invest in order to make more. When you invest, now you have equity and assets that produce income for you. I had to really change my mentality with money early on, in order to get to where I am right now."
"The reality is, it is not just about how much money you make. It's about how much money you make and how much you invest in order to make more. When you invest, now you have equity and assets that produce income for you."
Courtesy of Lyn Allure
On her investments:
"Right now, I have two main investments. My first investment is a single-family home investment property with tenants. I currently reside in a condo because I have no desire to live in a single-family home for myself. I am not going to be mowing the lawn or doing those other things (laughs). But with my property, I am thinking about renovating the basement and renting that out as well. My second investment is stocks. I try to invest in stocks on a regular basis with buying index funds and stocks in companies I truly believe in."
On her biggest tip to beginner investors:
"Something that people often think, is that we need to be involved in the finance field 24/7 in order to be a successful investor. That's honestly not the case. If you put money away periodically or every month into an index fund or an ETF, it appreciates. You will be able to see a 7-10% return on that every year. This way is low effort and it's definitely better than just putting your money away into a savings account."
On the worst money-related advice she has ever received:
"That scarcity mindset around 'don't spend your money because you don't know when you are going to get it back' needs to be thrown out the window (laughs). There is an abundance of money out there and it's really about reframing your mindset around it. A phrase I like to follow is 'a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.' So for example, if I am holding on to $10,000 in my savings without putting [it] into an investment opportunity, in 10 years that $10,000 will be worth around $9,000. The money loses its value. You have to treat your money like an employee and let it work for you."
"There is an abundance of money out there and it's really about reframing your mindset around it. A phrase I like to follow is 'a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.' You have to treat your money like an employee and let it work for you."
Courtesy of Lyn Allure
On the money mantra she swears by:
"I would say my mantra is 'what doesn't get measured, doesn't get managed.' What I mean by that is, a lot of people do not know what their financial standing is. It can bring up so much anxiety for people because they don't want to face those hard facts of their spending habits. But I find that once you get over that hurdle and really know what your hard-earned numbers are, you realize what steps you need to take to improve it. It's important to manage your money no matter what financial state you might be in. But remember you can't manage it if you aren't measuring it."
On the early challenges that came with starting her business:
"The inconsistency of cash flow when you first start out is real (laughs). I remember one month I made five figures and then the next month I made three figures. I was like ummm, what's going on here? (Laughs) I definitely wasn't prepared for it at the time. But luckily, I referred back to what I preach to my Good Girls Gone Boss community. Do not rely on one stream of income. Think of it as a table. Every single leg is a stream of income. If you only have one leg, then if it collapses, you collapse too."
"Do not rely on one stream of income. Think of it as a table. Every single leg is a stream of income. If you only have one leg, then if it collapses, you collapse too."
On the most important lesson she's learned about creating wealth:
"I have always had this hustler mindset where I had multiple side hustles in college. So I have always been thinking to myself, 'Where's the next job and where's the next check?' (Laughs) But what I have learned is that, I do not need to have multiple jobs in order to make all this money. It is not the key to creating wealth or financial freedom.
"There are only 24 hours in a day. Finding a way to make those passive streams of income with a business has definitely been an eye-opener for me. You also do not need to make a certain amount of money in order to make passive streams of income for yourself. Whatever your salary is, you can still make things happen, especially on the internet."
Read more money mindset conversations in xoNecole's "Money Talks" series here.
For more about Lyn Allure, follow her on Instagram @lyn.allure. You can also subscribe to her YouTube channel here.
Featured image courtesy of Lyn Allure
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'K' is a multi-hyphenated free spirit from Chicago. She is a lover of stories and the people who tell them. As a writer, 9-5er, and Safe Space Curator, she values creating the life she wants and enjoying the journey along the way. You can follow her on Instagram @theletter__k_.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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Feature image by Mike Marsland/WireImage