Serial Entrepreneur Shanicia Boswell Needs You To Know That Every Loss Is An Opportunity To Level Up
In xoNecole's series Mother/Hustler, we sit down with influential mom bosses who open up about the ups and downs of motherhood, as well as how they kill it in their respective industries, all while keeping their sanity and being intentional about self-care.
Good things fall apart so better things can fall together and this is big facts. Just ask Black Moms Blog creator, Shanicia Boswell, who wants you to know that every loss is just another opportunity to level up.
Before becoming a multi-hyphenate hustler and amassing more than 500K followers on Instagram, Shanicia was an engaged, stay-at-home mom living out what she now calls a "faux fairytale". But three and a half years ago in one helluva plot twist, the serial entrepreneur quickly became a homeless, single mother whose only goal was survival. She told xoNecole, "My fiance came home and told me he no longer wanted to be in a relationship and I had 30 days to move out of our home. Just like that. We had been arguing lately but not enough to think it was that drastic. I was completely unprepared."
It was then that Shanicia says that she officially hit "rock bottom". Now having to depend on friends and part-time jobs to sustain her and her young daughter, Kamryn, Shanicia gave herself a week to ugly cry about her newfound situation and tapped into her hustler mentality like clockwork. "From that point forward, stress and pain would not be my story," she shared.
At the time, Black Moms Blog was a modest community of no more than 50,000 members, but it wasn't until being encouraged to monetize the platform that Shanicia turned her dollar and a dream into a hustle that could pay the bills. She continued, "I literally gave my all to my business when I had nothing to even give. Within 6 months, I had monetized my platform to more than $16,000. I got a part-time job on the side working about 15 hours a week and moved my daughter and I back into the same building that my ex kicked us out of. I quit that part-time job one year later."
Not only did sis quit the job, she created a whole movement; and xoNecole recently s at down with Shanicia to get the 411 on dating, self-care, and how she thrives in her industry while being a bomb ass mom at the same damn time.
What’s your occupation?
This is always such a loaded answer...I am working on mainstreaming an exact title but for now, I call myself a serial entrepreneur. I am most widely known for creating Black Moms Blog, the largest news and media website specifically dedicated to parenting, culture, and lifestyle from a Black mom's point of view. I am also a photographer/content creator and just recently launched my third business, The Self Care Retreats, where I take women on international destinations around the world.
Are you single?
Girl, yes. Sometimes I say that I am single with pride and other times I claim singledom with a feeling of sadness. It's rare we actually admit that as millennials, yes, I would like to be married. And for me, I had all those things once––the ring, the family, the picture-perfect situation but I started it all with a man that just wasn't ready and when it all fell apart, he admitted that he actually didn't want the same things I wanted. We made better friends and co-parents instead of lovers. And that's okay too. I have started to mentally position myself to manifest a different answer to this question.
How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?
I am a Pisces, so my levels of chill are completely unmatched. In seriousness though, self-care is a part of my daily routine...from sleeping with my phone on do not disturb, to napping, to finding time to run warm baths in the middle of the day. I don't say that as a way to brag –– I say that because I am proud of how far I have come in caring for myself. For a lot of us as women, we don't learn how to handle stress until we hit rock bottom and that is what happened to me. I handle moments of feeling overwhelmed by stopping it before it happens.
As a mother, I have very candid conversations with my daughter about stress. If I am running on a high frequency day, I am normally more irritable than not and so I make sure to let her know what it is so that she does not internalize any guilt. One of the most important things I can do is teach my daughter how to pick up energy and vibes so that she can avoid internalized guilt. Reading people is a superpower.
"I handle moments of feeling overwhelmed by stopping it before it happens. As a mother, I have very candid conversations with my daughter about stress. If I am running on a high frequency day, I am normally more irritable than not and so I make sure to let her know what it is so that she does not internalize any guilt. Reading people is a superpower."
What’s the hardest part of your day?
I can honestly admit that I don't have a lot of "hard" parts in my day. What makes a day hard exactly? I released my own personal guilts a long time ago so I don't beat myself up over things that are unchangeable. I flow. I adapt. I still get things done.
How (and how often) do you practice self-care?
You hear this a lot now, about self-care not just being about getting your nails done and spa days. It is true. I practice self-care mentally by reserving time to myself. I practice self-care financially by protecting my assets and creating stability in my credit to be able to purchase a home. I practice self-care in my spirit by not being involved with things that truly serve no higher purpose to my wellbeing.
On a not so deep level, I love to tell moms, find a way to make self-care realistic for you. Every woman doesn't need a two-week vacation out of the country. Sometimes you just need a Snickers bar hiding in the bathroom from your kids. Don't feel guilty for that.
When do you feel most productive?
I feel most productive early in the mornings between the hours of 4-6 am. It seems so cliche but it is very true. When I am going through an extreme bout of creativity, my body naturally wakes up at that time, full of energy and I try to get it down on paper or on my computer before it goes away. The world is so still at that time. I am not interrupted by my phone or the sounds of the city. The air is cool. It is my favorite time to work.
What is your favorite way to spend “me time”?
Refer to my zodiac, me-time is just what I do! But seriously, I am an extroverted introvert. Being an entrepreneur and public speaker, I have learned how to handle my anxiety but being in large crowds make me nervous. My favorite thing to do is to be home alone with my laptop, a glass of wine, and good music. As a mom, bedtime is really important in my household. My daughter goes to bed at 8 pm because I need those hours towards the end of the evening to turn my brain down and find my peace before bed.
Being single and raising children isn't easy but it forces you to instill boundaries even within your own household. On Sundays, my daughter and I practice separate togetherness; it is where we spend time alone, but together. I may read a book in the living room while she sits in her room and colors. She knows that is mommy's me time and I teach her to value her own alone time and personal space.
"Being single and raising children isn't easy but it forces you to instill boundaries even within your own household. On Sundays, my daughter and I practice separate togetherness; it is where we spend time alone, but together. I may read a book in the living room while she sits in her room and colors. She knows that is mommy's me time and I teach her to value her own alone time and personal space."
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
The most important lesson that I have learned as an entrepreneur is that it is never too late to start over. Rebranding is a blessing given to most of us because if we have been doing entrepreneurship right, we normally have a few things in place that allow us to pump the brakes for a second and evaluate where we are in our businesses.
What is the most important lesson you want your kid(s) to learn from you?
It is so important for me to teach my daughter her self-worth early in life. I didn't learn this lesson until well into my late 20s and I suffered a great deal of rejection, guilt, and heartache because of it. For many of us, as Black women, we just weren't raised with this idea that we were the prize. We saw our mamas handling everything on their own. They carried the weight of their entire households on their shoulders. Who had time to build up their children when the bills were due and mama was the only one paying it?
That anger and frustration from Black moms came out in a dramatic speech of self-reliance, get an education, and you especially don't rely on a man! Do you know how damaging that is? So instead, especially for many little Black girls, their self-esteem was built up and torn apart by toxic romantic relationships and mean girl friendships. I refuse to build my daughter up on guilt and bitterness.
How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur (or vice versa)?
I used to judge people who didn't have children. My single, childless friends would tell me how they were struggling to get it together and all I could think about was, if I had that much time on my hands, I would be lightyears ahead of where I am now. Here is what I realized over the years of running multiple businesses and raising my daughter: being a mother has benefited my entrepreneurial journey. It sets my schedule.
Being a mother provided me with a level of stability and balance that helped me to view my entire life with extreme clarity. I learned not to be so judgmental against people that did not have kids and started to be thankful for the blessing of my own.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a mom who runs a business?
The biggest challenge I've faced as a mom who runs a business is in my dating life. Because I am a mother, most men I meet know that they need to be serious to pursue me because there is another life involved in our decision-making. My timing and flexibility require you to actually make a plan to see me because I have a child.
Most people pity single women with children so men always want to play hero. When I tell them no, she actually has an active father and yes, I do pay my own bills, run my own business, and travel at leisure, most men find a level of intimidation in those things. If I am already doing these things for myself, for a man that doesn't have his own things together, that can make him question if he will be able to provide for me in the ways that I am able to provide for myself. I found myself shrinking back in order to appear softer and more vulnerable for men until one day I had to realize that what God has for me is mine and the man He has set aside for me will love me in as my full and joyous self.
"If I am already doing these things for myself, for a man that doesn't have his own things together, that can make him question if he will be able to provide for me in the ways that I am able to provide for myself. I found myself shrinking back in order to appear softer and more vulnerable for men until one day I had to realize that what God has for me is mine and the man He has set aside for me will love me in as my full and joyous self."
What advice do you have for moms who are looking to start their business but haven’t taken a step out on faith yet?
Just do it. Do not let the fear of these internet streets keep you from your blessing. Stop comparing and just go. Stop worrying about trying to gain someone else's audience and focus on those that already believe in you. Everything doesn't have to be perfect, they just need to be put into action. You got this!
Do you think it’s important to keep your personal and professional life separate? Why or why not?
One of the greatest challenges in entrepreneurship is learning how to be transparent with your audience while not revealing every part of your life to your audience. I don't believe everything needs to be shared. You don't have to share every pitfall to be real. It's okay to take some of your L's in private. It is okay to go on vacation and not share all the photos. And for women, it is perfectly okay to keep that relationship private until he proposes to make you his wife.
What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy?
As a mommy mogul, I manage time by honoring my self-care. Making time to center myself is just as important as making time to attend meetings. I chose this career path for my true passion for women empowerment and motherhood but also to have a life of freedom and flexibility. If I am not honoring those things, working for myself will become just as miserable as working for someone else.
"I chose this career path for my true passion for women empowerment and motherhood but also to have a life of freedom and flexibility. If I am not honoring those things, working for myself will become just as miserable as working for someone else."
What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family?
Financial planning is part of self-care. Can we put that on a t-shirt? My advice to women for financial planning is don't let the daunting thought of getting your finances in order scare you from actually doing it. Get help. There are so many programs and companies that help with credit repair and homeownership. When it comes to your business, learn how tax breaks can help you and where to invest your money for greater returns. Financial freedom should always be the goal and the only way to do it successfully is to just start the process. Just start.
To learn more about Shanicia and join the Black Moms Blog movement, follow her on Instagram @ShaniciaBoswell!
Featured image courtesy of @ShaniciaBoswell.
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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.
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7 Black Women Bookstagrammers To Follow And The Reads By Black Authors That Empower Us
I've always been a stan for reading, and I've been a so-called book geek since kindergarten. My mom would always reward good grades and behavior with a trip to the local library, something my siblings loved more than any new toys or free time to play outside. We would spend hours at the tall stone building in the downtown area of the small town I spent my childhood in, first in the downstairs "Children's Room" (which only had books for readers 5-13). I later graduated to going (i.e., snuck) upstairs to find all the juicy celebrity autobiographies, travel books, and classics like Sula, Moby Dick, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
So today, when I see so many Black women part of #bookstagram, I feel seen because many of us love not only to read but to drown in books by Black authors, poets, historians, and researchers who continue to add to the narrative and reflection of what it truly means to be a Black person---a Black woman---in America.
Check out (and follow) a few of my favorite Black women bookstagrammers and the books that empower us:
Zora Neale Hurston is clearly an icon, and she's one of my favorite authors, thought leaders, and scholars, so this is an obvious choice for me. What I love, specifically, about this bookstagrammer's page is that it lacks pretension, is super-relatable, and includes a nice mix of nonfiction books, something I'm trying to boost in my collection.
2.Kayla Starr @blackgirlbookadventures
Another classic, Beloved was a book I unsuccessfully tried to read as a 12-year-old, tried again in my 20s (and failed), saw the film, and then fell back in love with again reading in my 30s. Black Girl Book Adventures is a page that just screams brightness, positivity, and a love for books that draws you near.
3.Black Girl With Books @blackgirlwithbooks
This book had a profound effect on me, as it connected the dots between Ghana (a place that has held a special place in my heart since my 2016 visit) and Black America in a way that blew my mind. It also helps that the storytelling and timelines are captivating and thoughtful in a way that any editor who just loves good writing--in an online content environment that seems to reward robotic, vapid, Grammarly-informed, copycat writing---would appreciate.) The founder of this page also offers info on bookstores and other interesting updates for bibliophile baes.
4.Shani Akilah @_shaniakilah
A love of travel and books? Yes, please! Shani's page is refreshing and welcoming, inviting you in on her global adventures along with her journeys through her latest reads. I'm a huge fan of books that feature Black women protagonists in Caribbean or African settings who are able to come into a higher sense of themselves through challenge or hardship. For some reason, I'm always drawn to those books, which is why this one is a top pick for me.
5.Boipelo Lecha @boipelo.reads.books
I'm not big on romance novels (after having grown out of an early obsession with Danielle Steele). At one point, I'd been yearning for a book that offered an elevated sense of the Black love experience (beyond the esteemed OGs like Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Zane) and stumbled upon Love In Color. It was just what I needed because it's a collection of classic love stories retold through the lens of the author, and the tales centrally feature women.
Biopelo is an up-and-comer in the #bookstagrammer space.
I've been consumed by Black historical fiction, and this is a good one for the collection. It tells the story of a Black southern family through generations in a way that doesn't feel like a book you were forced to read for a college project. It screams, "Turn me into a six-part Netflix saga," and was a surprise hit for me because I made some very ignorant assumptions about a poet being able to write such a story. (Ah, like Maya Angelou isn't literally a queen in my head.)
Virginia-based Semiyah is literally like my reading tastes twin, down to the mix of types of books she showcases on her page, from romance fiction to new YA titles.
Lex serves up book events and information about new releases to boot, and her page doesn't scream, "Hey, I'm going to just promo books sent to me for free by publishers." On top of that, I support any and everything with the name Tiffany D. Jackson stamped on it. She's a graduate of the other HU (heeeey all my Hampton *cough*, I mean, Howard folk), and the way she puts her special stank on YA will have you wanting to actually relive your own teenage years.
Dare I say, reading her work is like the first time I read Judy Blume, Sister Souljah, and Candy Dawson Boyd---all pioneers in what is now known as young adult fiction. It's authentic, truthful, kind, real, and has a living soul, all elements I yearned for back in the late '80s and '90s as a confused, geeky, Black girl at the library and that I still yearn for as an award-winning editor, editorial manager, and self-employed woman at my big age.
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