Mother/Hustler Jessica Chinyelu Has Advice For Entrepreneurs Struggling With Mom Guilt
The year was 2018, and lifestyle blogger, Jessica Chinyelu had no intention of leaving her full-time corporate job for another two years, but we all know how the saying goes: we plan and God laughs. Although her husband's mom stepped in to offer help as Jessica transitioned back into her regularly scheduled work life, her in-law's stay was coming to an end and it was time to make some tough decisions.
Jessica could either sacrifice precious time with her newborn to make someone else richer, or she could step out on faith and build generational wealth. Spoiler Alert: she chose the latter. To Jessica and her husband, this decision proved to be an easy one, even after trying and failing the same plan almost ten years earlier. Jessica told xoNecole, "I actually did not want to leave my job until 2020. I left my job back in 2009 and to be honest, I shouldn't have left. I ended up going back to corporate America. I had no idea what I was doing, I wasn't good with money and I had no business trying to start my own which is why I failed. But I thank God for the lessons because it prepared me for where I am today."
With the support of her husband and a prayer, she traded in the stability and security of a 9 to 5 to become a full-time entrepreneur for the second time. Jessica shared, "My husband encouraged me to leave my job in 2018 after giving birth and he believed in me. He believed I was ready this time around to go full-force, even as a new mom."
Now, Jessica makes a living as a lifestyle blogger, content creator, and booking agent, and couldn't see her life any other way. To date, Jessica has received more than $100,000 in paid sponsorships, hosted a number of sold-out conferences and workshops, and is the founder of Woman of Purpose, a non-profit that helps other women also live out their passions according to the gifts they've been given by God.
We sat down with Jessica to talk about securing the bag and your sanity, all while juggling the pressures of motherhood at the same damn time. Here's what she had to say:
How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?
There are so many days when I feel overwhelmed. I'm a stay-at-home mom without a nanny and I'm running multiple fruitful businesses.
The struggle is real. I've found that slowing down keeps me sane and find my inner peace.
First, I pause and then take a deep breath. Afterward, I begin to tell myself, "Girl, It's Okay!" Whatever tasks need to get done can wait because my peace is better. I give myself time to process why I'm feeling overwhelmed. Most times, I feel overwhelmed because I've overextended myself or I didn't give myself a realistic timeframe to complete a task.
If I have to cancel a meeting, I do it. If I have to inform someone I need a tad bit longer to hand in a deliverable, I choose to be honest regardless of what the other person may think because my peace of mind is what helps me function from a healthy and stable place.
What’s the hardest part of your day?
The toughest part of my day is when I need to jump on a conference/Skype call but my precious baby boy wants all of my attention. Somehow, I always find a way to make it through those calls, even though it's hard. Hubby and I agreed we would send our baby to Montessori at 18 months. Until then, I make it work at home. It takes loads of patience, but it's so worth it.
When I have moments where I want to lash out (because every mama has those moments), I think about how blessed we are as a family where I can stay home and raise my kiddos instead of someone else shaping my child's character and personality. Think about it, some babies spend 8-10 hours per day at a daycare which means the majority of their time is spent with other people outside of the home.
Courtesy of Jessica Chinyelu.
How (and how often) do you practice self-care?
Self-care is a TOP priority for me. Before we had a child, I made sure my husband understood I need my getaway time! I go for a facial every eight weeks. I get a manicure and pedicure every four weeks. I ensure I go to my little Asian reflexology spot (they be hooking sistah up) once a month. I also use my girls' nights as a form of self-care.
I remember when I would place everyone else's needs before my own. It was not a pretty sight. I was moody all the time, I didn't feel good about myself, and I didn't look like Jessica anymore. I knew something had to change. I take at least 3-4 hours away from my family two days a week so I can focus on ME. It's needed! Your self-care is vital for your mental stability.
When do you feel most productive?
I feel most productive when I'm on a Starbucks patio with my headphones over my head sipping on a very berry hibiscus drink and knocking out my to-do list. If I get at least three tasks completed, I feel pretty darn great about it. I used to try and accomplish ten things, but I overwhelmed myself that way. Now I focus on what's TOP priority, get it done and reward myself.
What is your advice for dealing with mom guilt?[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BrlCpPhnv4-/\ expand=1]
Man, I wish someone would've taught me how to deal with this when I first had my baby. Have a team of #Mamabaes who you can vent to when your completely over being a mom. Husbands don't understand what we as women go through at times. A #Mamabae is your experienced friend who has 2 or more children and will not judge you for feeling like you want to slap your husband or leave your baby for a few days just to get away. She's never in competition with you (new moms have a tendency to be in competition with one another), and she's always encouraging you to be kind to yourself and treat yourself at all times. She will remind you that it's okay to leave baby with dad or grandparents or close friends while you go out and DO YOU. You need this!
Secondly, don't compare yourself to other moms. Instagram will have you thinking you're the worst mom and you end up not enjoying motherhood because every experience is being compared to another mama's journey. The beautiful thing about motherhood is each mama's experience is so unique. Cherish the process instead of beating yourself up about it.
Lastly, ask for help and don't feel bad about it. No one is asking you to be a super mommy and if they are, put them in their place. I know I do. Asking for help takes courage and when you ask for help, you can get more done for your family and most importantly for yourself.
"No one is asking you to be a super mommy and if they are, put them in their place. I know I do. Asking for help takes courage and when you ask for help, you can get more done for your family and most importantly for yourself."
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Money isn't everything. Chase peace and money will flow to you. I've become a professional at saying no to things because I realize if I'm losing peace over it, it's not worth it. One of my daily declarations is "God money (not good money) comes to me on a free course by the speed of the spirit." Money should not control you. You control money.
What is the most important lesson you want your kid(s) to learn from you?
This is such a great question. There are many lessons I want my kids to learn from me. I may get a little deep here because if you really think about it, it's a pretty deep question. I want my kids to know the truth about who they are, their true identities, and be so content with themselves and their true gifts that they never stray away from it. I want them to know they can achieve anything and to walk and talk like Kings and Queens because that's who they are. I want them to understand what living a true life looks like when you really allow your gifts to make room for you.
These days children are being influenced by anything and everything and it's important for us to teach our children how not to be easily swayed. I see young kids not confident in themselves, their abilities or their true gifts because their parents never took time to nurture those gifts.
I'm half American, half Nigerian. The Nigerian side of my family felt like everyone should be a nurse, a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer. I do not want my children to grow up with this type of mindset. I want them to learn how to be true to themselves and transform their true gifts into a gift that is as fruitful or even more fruitful than the profession of a nurse, a doctor, an engineer or lawyer.
Courtesy of Jessica Chinyelu
What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy?
Time is extremely valuable because you cannot get it back. My best advice would be to become a super planner. I have multiple calendars to keep me on track. Create a family calendar that everyone can see. I placed a dry erase calendar on our fridge so hubby can see what I have going on for the month and he plans his activities around my schedule.
Also, communicate like crazy. Hubby and I have to discuss our schedules daily to ensure we're on the same page and a caregiver is booked when needed. And be sure to carve out your ME time and ensure it's on the calendar. You need that ME time.
How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur (or vice versa)?
Becoming a mom has helped me go even harder. I feel like I do more as a mom than I did whenever I wasn't a mom. Motherhood brought a different side out of me in the greatest way possible and I'm embracing it to the fullest. My greatest ideas to date came after giving birth.
"Motherhood brought a different side out of me in the greatest way possible and I'm embracing it to the fullest. My greatest ideas to date came after giving birth."
What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family?
I'll start with professionally. When it comes to your business seek advice from a financial advisor and hire a CPA. You need to know EVERYTHING about your business and where the money is going, how much is coming in, and what's not working for your business. Make sure your business is a legal entity and protect your personal assets. Get an attorney on your side. You never know what will happen in the future.
If you didn't grow up in a family where you had healthy conversations about money, be honest with yourself about it and seek help when it comes to your family. Money is such a touchy subject, especially in the black community. I wasn't good with money before I met my husband. It was a challenge in the beginning of our marriage because I never wanted to discuss money. We made a decision to have seperate accounts, a joint account, a joint savings and investments together. Although we have seperate accounts, we made a decision to be transparent about those accounts. This was hard because I was not used to answering to someone about MY money. When you get married, MY now becomes OURS. I had to change my mindset about money and get comfortable with planning OUR future together for OUR family.
Featured image by Instagram/@JessicaChinyelu.
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.
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
You have to admit that the creations that come out of the culinary institute of TikTok just know how to hit your taste buds the right way. And the latest delicacy to come out of the digital kitchen is a crunchy, savory salad that only takes five ingredients to achieve.
The viral salad recipe comes from the mind of season 25 The Bachelor winner, Rachael Kirkconnell, who might have singlehandedly changed my relationship with cucumbers moving forward.
i thought the salad @rachael_kirkconnell made looked so yummy so i tried it and it was delicious!!! 😊🧡 i can’t stitch her video. #fyp #salad #saladrecipe #healthyeating #recipes #recipesoftiktok #recipe #saladsoftiktok #vegetable #food #foodtok
To create the viral cucumber sweet pepper salad, here's what you need:
- Persian Cucumbers
- Mini Sweet Peppers
- Makoto Miso Ginger Dressing
- Everything But the Bagel Seasoning
- Chili Crunch
To recreate the salad on your own, start by chopping baby cucumbers into small pieces, along with sweet peppers diced into thin rounds. Now, it’s time to add some tanginess. Take your medley of veggies and mix in a splash of Makoto Ginger Dressing (to taste), add a healthy spoonful of Fly by Jin Sichuan Chili Crisp sauce, and complete with sprinkles of Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend. Toss and enjoy!
The combination is sure to leave your taste buds dancing in delight, or as Rachael puts it, “I will literally drink the juice.”
Who knew something so simple and veggie-forward could deliver a punch that’d have you wanting more? You get the sweet, savory, crunchy, and crispness all in one. And did we mention it’s healthy?
Viral Cucumber Salad @rachael_kirkconnell 🥒 #cucumbersalad #cucumber #sweetpeppers #cucumberpeppersalad #viralsalad #healthyfood #healthyrecipes #plantbasedrecipes #plantbased #plantbasedfeta #veganfeta #chillionionchrunch #traderjoesmusthaves #traderjoesrecipe
Cucumbers are as refreshing as they are nutritious, offering a number of health benefits. These veggies are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium, as well as other nutrients like magnesium and fiber. They’re also anti-inflammatory and contain antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body.
With sweet peppers, you get a low-calorie vegetable that makes a great choice for weight management. They are also high in fiber, which can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Not to mention, the salad stands out for its versatility. Put it over rice, eat it alone, or pair it with salmon for the perfect, fulfilling dinnertime staple. As the warmer months roll in, there’s no better time than to find a snack that cools you down and satisfies your cravings.
Consider yourself influenced.
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