In this special Women’s History Month Boss Up series, we talk to women who are redefining what leadership looks like. They’re deciding, on their own terms, to tap into a fulfilling career, walk their own paths, and embrace the fullness of the impact of Black women when they decide to unapologetically take up space and disrupt in business.
The pandemic has had a tremendous effect on almost all aspects of life, and our careers are obviously no exception. One intriguingly empowering phenomenon within it all has been the boost in innovative and resilient leaders pursuing startups and side hustles despite the challenges.
A recent Lending Tree report indicates that 50% of millennials and 46% of Gen Zers have side hustles. Many are also turning the traditional side hustle narrative on its head, keeping their day jobs and maximizing opportunities to fulfill multi-hyphenate passions. They’re the example that you don’t have to leave a job you love to start a business. And that you might be even more successful by pursuing both professional and entrepreneurial dreams, as research also found that professionals who kept their day jobs while running a startup were 33% less likely to fail in business than their counterparts who quit their 9-to-5s.)
Melissa Carnegie is one such woman, enjoying the challenge and allure of balancing her 9-to-5 as the head of global community and communications for Cantu Beauty, with the responsibilities of building a business. And don’t call it just a side hustle. In Carnegie’s case, having a full-time job and building an enterprise keeps her invigorated and motivated. She adores both and reaps the reciprocal benefits.
Carnegie started her lifestyle blog MelissaChanel.com, as an outlet for sharing her personal style and stories of travel adventures, and of course, showcasing her massive sneaker collection. In May 2017, she launched Kicks & Fros to create a space for Black and brown women to shine among the millions of consumers behind the success of the growing $70 billion sneaker market. (And indeed, the space was more than needed, since Black consumers practically bolstered popularity and profitability booms for most if not all of the sportswear industry and have revolutionized how sneakers are created, marketed, and even resold.)
Carnegie is excited to not only help Black and brown women find their sneaker style and embrace a love for them but become a prominent figure in a very white—and very male-dominated industry. “I wasn’t seeing a lot of us— women who looked like me—on different pages that would reshare sneaker lovers or inspirational women in the sneaker community. And I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt that way,” she says. “I’m a very small-town girl, and community is something that I’ve always had as a small child. I was like, ‘You know what? I think I need to create something. It started as an inspo page, and it grew very quickly and made me think about structuring it as a business.”
What started as an IG page has evolved into a community of more than 50,000 (from both her personal and Kicks & Fros brands) and a full-fledged business that offers opportunities for women to connect via events, custom campaigns, digital media content, and branded apparel. “You can be a boss-ass woman in the boardroom with your suit and your sneakers on, making powerful decisions. I wanted women to understand that we are in the sneaker space, we have just as much knowledge as men, and that we’re here to stay.”
A Prime Opportunity
Then Cantu came calling, she recalls. In her role at the company, she manages the hair care brand’s consumer-facing activations for events like the ESSENCE Festival, BeautyCon, and natural hair care shows. She also works with teams for ad campaigns, influencer relations, and other communications with consumers. All of this helps strengthen her entrepreneurial side, and everything becomes like a cycle of personal and professional development that benefits all parties. “My favorite part of my job is that I get to work with different creative minds, understand how people think and how they work. I also love helping women find solutions for their hair care regime.”
Carnegie adds that the team at Cantu is super-supportive of her business endeavors and has even been part of some of the events she’s thrown for her own brand. “I'm cultivating community for women in the space, and they support me 100%. If I need to take a day off, they totally understand. They’re always asking for ways to help.”
Mastering It All
Balancing the duties of both a job she loves and a business she’s passionate about requires quite a bit of planning, grace, and confidence. “As a woman in leadership, I’ve learned [it’s important to] ask for help. That’s not a bad thing. Collaborate. Work with other team members. Bring like-minded people in to take things to the next level. Time management is also something that’s big for me and that I’ve learned in leadership, especially with me having 50-11 jobs,” she says with a laugh.
To keep everything organized and work at her best for both her job and her business, Carnegie implements systems, uses apps and tech tools like Canva, Later, Asana, and Microsoft Outlook, and she practices calendar blocking to set clear boundaries for managing her time. “The most important part for me was not feeling like I had to give up on my business dreams, but I can juggle both as long as I keep up with what I’m doing and make conscious decisions about my business and what I want to happen. Just having teams, projects, and setting goals and tasks is helpful.”
Deliberate Choices, Big Wins
Standing firm in decision-making is also key for Carnegie. “It’s about using my voice and not being afraid of being headstrong and confident in [the choices] I make, and knowing that I’m making the correct decisions and sharing that with my team, especially as a woman—a Black woman,” she says. “I’ve worked my way up to now being in this amazing position with a hair care brand that I love. I believe in myself and know I’ve done the research, I have the education, and I have the background to support my decisions.”
For women who would like to advocate for themselves at their 9-to-5 in order to launch a business, Carnegie recommends not being afraid to spark that first conversation. “Just start. Share it with your team. Tell them why you’re doing it and why it’s important to you. I think your ‘why’ is very important. That will fuel you at your full-time job just like it fuels you in your business.”
And if your boss or company isn’t too keen on the idea? Owning your career and leading today requires being empowered by the choice to work for companies whose policies, practices, and missions align with your long-term goals. “I would have a sit-down discussion or meeting to see what the reasons are and to see if we could make something possible,” Carnegie adds. “If it’s something I’m really passionate about, I would try to find a position or company that respected my values and my idea of the life I wanted to create for myself, and let them know that [while] I’m still passionate about my full-time job, this is also something I’m passionate about and will do just as well.”
To find out more about Melissa Carnegie and Kicks & Fros, follow her on Instagram or visit her website.
Featured image by Brandon Grate Photography
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images
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This Is Why Your Bright Under-Eye Technique Is Not Giving
If you are a fan of the bright under-eye, then you have the legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin to thank. The bright under-eye is only one of the major techniques that Aucoin brought to the forefront of the makeup industry in the ‘90s. The purpose of concealing the under-eye area is to hide blemishes and discoloration, redness, dark circles, and under-eye bags. However, according to Aucoin’s techniques, its main purpose is to lift and sculpt the face adding a new level of dimension.
The bright under-eye can be difficult to achieve. These are some of the common mistakes that are holding you back from sculpted bright under eyes that are giving!
1. You are not using the correct concealer shade.
Using two concealers makes a huge difference. Start with a shade 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone. Followed by a shade that is 3-4 times lighter and placed closer to the inner eye to do the heavy lifting and give the bright effect.
Two shades diffuse well into each other and give a cohesive result.
2. You are not blending enough.
Don't underestimate the power behind a complete blend-out! Blending your concealer fully is a make-or-break step for the bright under-eye look. Fully blending allows for a seamless transition between the areas of the face meant to be highlighted, and the areas meant to create depth and shadows. So take your time and make sure there are no harsh lines.
3. You are not properly setting the under-eye area.
Set the under-eye using a loose setting powder or brightening powder. The key here is to choose a powder complementary to your skin's undertone and proper placement to prevent creasing. Focus the majority of the powder on the inner eye and defuse the remaining powder to the rest of the powder under the eye.
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Featured image by Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images