With the rise of more and more black women breaking away from traditional 9-5s to become their own bosses, the CEO is getting a revamp as the SHEeo. CEOs are forging their own paths, blazing their own trails, and turning their passion into a profit. Curious to know how she does it? In the Meet The SHEeo series, we talk to melanated mavens leveling up and glowing up, all while redefining what it means to be a boss.
Dionna Collins originally launched ComfiArt in 2016 as a way to combine her graphic design and digital marketing skills into unique home goods pieces for herself. But a year later, a job layoff led the entrepreneur to rebrand ComfiArt to cater to consumers who want affordable art and home decor and expanded her product offerings to include apparel and accessories. Partnering with local artists and brands in the Atlanta community, ComfiArt services e-commerce, events, and business-to-business clients wishing to take their space up a notch without sacrificing quality or style.
In this week's feature, meet Dionna Collins of ComfiArt.
Courtesy of Dionna Collins
Title: Founder/CEO of ComfiArt
Year Founded: 2016
# of Employee(s): 2
30-Second Pitch: "ComfiArt was founded in 2016 as an affordable way to buy unique art that you can wear and also decorate your space. We create exclusive pieces while collaborating with artists and brands around the community."
What inspired you to start your brand?
I've always loved graphic design. I have 14 years in the graphic design and digital marketing world, but I didn't want to deal with freelance market. I started ComfiArt for myself. Originally, it was only pillows and home goods. Creating ComfiArt has allowed me to be able to create for the consumer while feeding my soul with the love and passion of creativity without the pressure.
What was your "A-ha!" moment that brought your idea into reality?
My "A-ha!" moment was in 2017 when I got laid off from my job. While trying to generate an income, that pushed me to rebrand ComfiArt. I expanded the products I was selling online to include more apparel and accessories, which led to the three tiers that make up ComfiArt: e-commerce, events, and business-to-business.
Courtesy of Dionna Collins
Who is your ideal customer?
Being that my main focus is on art, we at ComfiArt like to collaborate with artists in their area, Atlanta, Georgia. With that, we ensure that people are able to afford beautiful artwork in the small pieces we offer online. Our goal is to make sure that if you aren't able to afford a $5,000 and upward original piece, you can afford original artwork with ComfiArt. Our ideal customers are art enthusiasts, people that love unique items, creatives, home decorators and people who like to stand out from the crowd.
What makes your business different?
ComfiArt is an affordable way to bring unique art that you can wear and also decorate your space. We create exclusive pieces while collaborating with artists and brands around the Atlanta area. The collaborations we have with Atlanta artists help them find other alternatives in creating financial wealth for themselves. Some ways that we help are by curating events, connecting them with brands, and sharing profit opportunities with ComfiArt through our website e-commerce.
What obstacles did you have to overcome while launching and growing your brand?
Like everyone, I'm still going through obstacles. Finances are one struggle as a small business. It can be hard finding funding to help grow and expand the business. Self-doubt, confidence, and depending on others to make my dreams come true are some of the obstacles I've overcome so far and I depend more on myself now. This entrepreneurial life is more personal. It has forced me to depend on myself, not doubt my own ideas and how to follow through. Now when I hear a "no" or a door closes, I don't get as upset anymore. I just realize that it's not the time or that God is telling me that I'm not quite ready and that opportunity will come back when the time is right.
What was the defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey?
For me, I don't think I have one yet. In this past year, I have reached some major milestones in regards to helping artists sell their artwork and expanding my brand identity, as well as collaborating with other major brands such as WeWork and Whole Foods while still being such a young company. As a brand, what sets me apart is being able to bring artists to platforms and environments that they're not typically used to being in. In the upcoming years, I'd like to expand more on that. The NBA, Hawks, Nike, Amazon, and Coca-Cola are a few of the brands that I'd like to collaborate with.
Where do you see your company in 5-10 years?
To be a global brand. In the next 5-10 years, I want to be the company that brands call to find artists while being the brand that artists come to find contracts for work. Our main purpose at ComfiArt is to help artists find alternatives to building financial wealth while merging the gap between brands and artists and assisting with government contracts. My goal is to also expand the e-commerce aspect of ComfiArt and collaborate with more artists while being the brand that hosts major art events throughout the country and simultaneously expands the experiential realm for artists.
Where have you seen the biggest return on investment?
Social media has been our biggest ROI. We get a lot of traffic via Instagram and influencer marketing through our events with other artists. This has helped to grow my email marketing list and expand the brand to other artists.
Do you have a mentor?
No mentors, hoping to find one soon to assist with questions that I have on building and expanding the company and learning more about investments and finances.
Biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Not everyone will believe in your dreams at first, you just have to trust and believe in yourself and take risks. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. It won't happen overnight, you just have to be consistent.
For more ComfiArt, follow them on social media @ComfiArt.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash