2020 marks the 20th anniversary of when I said, "Screw doing a regular 9-to-5. I'm gonna be a professional writer!" And although I've interviewed dozens times dozens of people at this point, almost each individual has said something that caught me totally off guard. OlanikeeOsi—yep, that's meant to be all one word—is, by no means, an exception.
As soon as she answered the phone, I could tell that she this 27-year-old was well-spoken, very comfortable in her skin and totally unapologetic about her life—and lifestyle. Yeah, this was going to be interesting. Then add tax. Then add inflation onto that.
What Exactly Was Her SelfishBabe “Trigger”?
I figured that the best way to get the conversation going was to pick her brain about how the name of her "creative baby" was first conceived. She paused for clarity's sake and then said, without missing a beat, "I think a lot of it had to do with getting married at 19 and divorced at 24." Wait, come again? I heard her right. "It wasn't that my marriage was exactly bad," she expounded. "But I remember sitting on the floor one day and filling out some test papers. My husband felt like I was sitting on 'his side' of the couch and things just escalated from there. I put a hole through the bathroom door and, at one point, he had my hands around my neck," she paused to give a deeper explanation. "It wasn't exactly that he was trying to choke me, but…things just got totally out of control. But I went to school and came back home, totally unafraid of him. But I did ask myself, 'If I had a daughter, would I want her to be in a relationship like mine?' Then I realized that I needed to ask a more important question than that—'Why does it need to be my daughter? Do I want to be in this kind of relationship?"
The answer was "no" and while OlanikeeOsi does make a point to say that her divorce was amicable, she no longer speaks to him. "I'm not angry, bitter or anything like that," she says. "I wish him well and I enjoyed our experience. I just think that was a season and chapter of my life that served its purpose, but he's not a friend. It was simply time for other things." Other things…like…what? We'll get a little more into that in a sec.
The Evolution of the SelfishBabe Revolution
As many of us do when a love relationship ends, OlanikeeOsi began a path of self-love that was rich, rewarding and, for her, truly life-altering in a myriad of ways. While she comes from both a Caribbean and Christian home—a home that is both close and functional, for the most part— OlanikeeOsi is open about choosing a path that her mom (her dad passed away when she was young) has had to do some adjusting to. She gets spiritual readings. She consults the spirits of the ancestors for guidance. A book that she attributes to her growth is Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit by Queen Afua. She speaks of being profoundly spiritual, just in a way that is different from her upbringing.
And something that her own spiritual path has taught her is the importance of being selfish. No, not practicing self-care. Being completely, totally and intentionally selfish.
"You know what I've come to realize?" OlanikeeOsi asks, then answers in the same breath, "Self-love is very selfish. To me, it's more important to do what you need in order to fill up your cup instead of neglecting your needs and trying to fill the empty ass cups of others."
And so, after a few months of getting comfortable with being selfish, the platform, app and podcast (not all at once, but they do all exist now) of SelfishBabe was born. "At first, I was offering products called Goddess Detox," explains OlanikeeOsi. "But then it hit me that just because you use products that may have a self-love theme to it, that still doesn't mean that you love yourself. I needed to do more."
From there came posts called Goddess Habits, but it wasn't long before OlanikeeOsi changed that over to SelfishBabe. "I just thought it was important to get away from the bad connotation that doing what it takes to make you better and happy, even if others have a problem with it…that may be selfish, but it's OK to be selfish in that kind of way. I have absolutely no problem with it. No one should."
Now, with her mission clear, OlanikeeOsi started posting Selfish Truths on IG. She also began selling T-shirts with different "selfish" messages on them. The more OlanikeeOsi did, the more her platform found its voice. Then, one day, the ancestors told her that it was time for an app.
"One day, I was on the toilet and it came to me," OlanikeeOsi nonchalantly explains. "We have phones, we're going to always be using our phones, so why not bypass all of the passwords and logins and provide a way for women to easily access tools for how to love themselves with an app?"
That's exactly what she did. It would appear that between her drive, her ancestors and that quality time in the John, OlanikeeOsi was truly on to something because SelfishBabe—an app that is free, by the way—currently has 150,000 subscribers and counting.
What Can You Expect from the SelfishBabe App?
And just what kind of messages can you expect, whether it's from the app or on her SelfishBabe IG page? OlanikeeOsi calls her messages "fun, jazzy and cool", sprinkled with "colorful language". "There are a lot of platforms that promote self-love, but I had a hard time finding ones that were totally relatable to millennials," OlanikeeOsi explains. "In order for women, especially younger women, to selfishly and authentically love themselves, relatability is important. I talk on my app like I would talk to my homegirls." Is there something I should be reading in between the lines, here? "Not really. But I have had people write and ask me why I cuss…you know, stuff like that. I do it because it's how I speak. I think the realness is what resonates."
OlanikeeOsi says that while the app is for everyone (she does love that it connects so well with Black women, but it's for any woman who can connect with her passion, platform and delivery), she is absolutely not going to shift her approach to cater to others' perspective of how SelfishBabe should be. "We need to really deal with our shit. Again, authenticity is important." Noted. And agreed.
The Evolution of OlanikeeOsi
Photo by Kaye McCoy
I must admit that as a marriage life coach, I was curious about where things were currently on OlanikeeOsi's personal front. You know, if all of the "selfishness" was truly paying off in matters of the heart. It was here were OlanikeeOsi taught me my something new for the day.
"I had a boyfriend who is now my friend and a business partner. Now I have a girlfriend." When I asked her how everything was going in comparison to her marriage, she said, "Great. I think practicing ethical non-monogamy is a great fit for me." That was my second "come again?" in the interview. "It's about not conforming to traditional monogamy, but instead, being open to different people and experiences for different seasons of your life," OlanikeeOsi explains. "It's about choosing not to bind yourself to a false promise that you may not be able to keep and being free to enter and exit relationships as you need." OlanikeeOsi then adds, "Besides. I don't think I'm meant to have sex with just one person, not necessarily even in a relationship. So, when it's time for me to move on or my girl to move on, we will. With love, just doing what is best for us."
Isn't that a little...selfish? I didn't ask that in my head either. OlanikeeOsi lightly laughs and says, "Yep. Exactly. Now you get it. My girlfriend and I are on the same page. We love one another, but not at the expense of doing what's best for our own selves. Yes, that is selfish and that's the entire point." (By the way, I asked her if she thought her divorce played a role in her approach to relationships. She peacefully and emphatically said, "Absolutely not. If anything, my marriage was trying to get me to conform to something, someone, that I'm not.")
I told OlanikeeOsi that although our worldviews couldn't be more different in a lot of ways, I did dig that her sense of self came off as very authentic; for me, that was super refreshing. After chatting with her for about an hour, I don't believe that OlanikeeOsi is offering to others what she's not wholeheartedly believing in for herself. To me, that's dope.
And just where does OlanikeeOsi want all of this selfishness to eventually take her? By this time next year, she'd like to have a million subscribers and for SelfishBabe to be a literal one-stop shop for all things self-love from messages to online courses to…just about anything you can imagine.
And what about the women who may be on the fence about joining up? Well, OlanikeeOsi helped us out by sharing some signs that a membership on SelfishBabe is exactly what someone needs. "If you are trying to fit into other people's boxes; if in your inner circle, you're considered to be 'the weird friend'; if you're super unconfident and always comparing yourself to others; if you're currently unhappy with your life, or if you're tired of always putting other people ahead of you and your needs, you need to become a SelfishBabe. You need to become equipped to live your life for you and do some of the things that either your ancestors weren't allowed to do or gave themselves permission to do. I do it every single day of my life—and I have absolutely no regrets."
Featured image by Megan Monique @TheMeganMonique