People often talk about how lonely it is at the top, but what they rarely talk about is how quiet it can be during the climb. For Nichole Lynel however, it's a feeling she knows all too well. As we chat, the quietness that surrounds her while sitting on the floor awaiting movers to arrive at her old showroom serves only as a reminder of her own entrepreneurial journey. "Everybody is willing to help you when you're the underdog but when you have a chance of really succeeding, it gets a lot quieter," she revealed.
It was a little over a year ago that she took the last that she had, quit her job and decided to go full fledge in the direction of her dreams. And as with most people who go against the status quo and quit their unfulfilling 9 to 5, she encountered those who were apprehensive. She explained that while she had encouraging friends and family, in the beginning, they were more vocal about their concerns than supportive. "I've always wanted to be a fashion designer, so I went through a lot. I had a support system but they wanted me to play it safe. I had always been told 'no' or pushed in a different way or told how hard it would be. But I realized the only thing that was really hard was going to work every day and hating it. If it's going to be hard, it might as well be hard while doing something I love."
And what is that something, you ask? These days, Nichole Lynel is the owner of an online store filled with designs aptly named after herself. You see, fashion, as she explains it, is the one thing that came easily and naturally to her. From her younger days when she would sketch her original designs and play dress-up, Nichole always knew she was a fashion girl. It was a way for women and people in general to become whoever they wanted to be.
Fast forward to now though, and "fashion it girl" feels like a more appropriate title for the bonafide boss woman. Recently, xoNecole got the chance to chat with her and we found out exactly how she manages to slay and stay focused on her entrepreneurial journey.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
How did you get your start with your online boutique and how did you conceptualize the idea for your business?
I had an online store but then I left that store and launched Nichole Lynel last year and I just kind of went for it. I always wanted to be a fashion designer but I've always been told "no", or pushed in a different way or told how hard it would be. I was always told how hard it was, but I realized the only thing that was really hard was going to work every day and hating it. If it's going to be hard, it might as well be something hard that I actually love.
I started at the top floor and knocked on every door until someone told me "yes". It took months between the initial idea and the actual launch date. Stepping out on your own is a whole 'nother thing… It took a while, but what really happened was I got broke. Then I had to do something because I ran out of money. So I put my website together myself, the one I still use today and when I really made the decision to really go for it. It took me a week to get everything up and running.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
"If it's going to be hard, it might as well be something hard that I actually love."
What were some of your major setbacks when owning/running your business? How did you overcome them?
In the beginning, I was going through a lot. I really took a big risk, I used my last to launch my business. Even now, growing my business, I feel like the higher you climb, the quieter it gets. Everybody is willing to help you when you're the underdog but when you have the chance of really succeeding, it gets a lot quieter, especially when you're shaking it up. And you don't have a guide to this. Nothing can prepare you for solely profiting off your creativity. That in and of itself is a struggle every day.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
"Nothing can prepare you for solely profiting off your creativity. That in and of itself is a struggle every day."
So how did you go about scaling your business and growing it to what it is today?
I'm still doing it now, I've been doing my brand for a little over a year now. So I'm still in the beginning stages. But as much as I make, I put it right back; I invest it right back in. I don't believe in taking a large salary too soon and from day one I've had my accountant, so I'm all about doing revenue-generating activities. I want to invest in things that are going to produce results or growth. It has to be growing my business or has to be profitable enough for me to be putting my energy into it in it. And I am serious about my goals, I seriously put in the work overtime.
Speaking of putting in the work, your grind and hustle seems to light a fire under a lot of women to go after their dreams. What’s something you wish more people understood about the grind of entrepreneurship?
I wish more people understood what it takes to be an entrepreneur. It's so much that goes into creating something and you can't beat yourself up for it. It takes time, you can't expect things to just happen overnight. It's crazy what it takes mentally [and] financially. I wish people really understood what it takes to produce something great and then to produce something great consistently.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
"I want to invest in things that are going to produce results or growth. It has to be growing my business or has to be profitable enough for me to be putting my energy into it in it."
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own fashion label?
Number one, trust your gut. I wish I had listened to myself so many times because I always knew. Every time something blew up in my face, I always had this gut feeling in the pit of my stomach. Number two, get your paperwork right. People are all interested in the creative part of it but, fashion is a business and you really need to do your research. Get your paperwork right, talk to an accountant, talk to an attorney -- make sure that you are structured properly. Not making money is one thing but making money and not being structured properly will take you out quickly.
Number three is do the work. It's the most important thing but it's the most rewarding thing you can do for yourself. I didn't really find confidence in myself until I completed this and I always felt like there was a hole in my heart and something missing. And now I'm so full of because I found my purpose and what I'm here to do.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
"Not making money is one thing but making money and not being structured properly will take you out quickly."
What are some major lessons you’ve learned thus far on your journey?
Don't be cheap when it comes to your business because you'll end up paying twice. Appreciate people. No one works harder than when they feel appreciated. You're on God's time not yours. I talk about the waiting room all the time; we're always waiting, we're always thinking that someone should tag us in the game. But we're on God's time and I never got a seat at the table until I had something to say.
What can we expect next from your brand?
I have new denim coming and I have NL the Label coming! I'm also moving into an amazing showroom downtown LA and I cannot be more excited to just show the world what I really can do.
For more of Nichole Lynel, follow her on Instagram. Check out her boutique here.
Originally published on April 22, 2019
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Writer. Empath. Escapist. Young, gifted, and Black. Shanelle Genai is a proud Southern girl in a serious relationship with celebrity interviews, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and long walks down Sephora aisles. Keep up with her on IG @shanellegenai.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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Featured image by Giphy