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.
Did you know that xoNecole has a podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to join us for weekly convos over cocktails (without the early morning hangover.)
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.
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
When you’ve been working in the field of relationships for as long as I have, there are certain questions that are bound to come up on a semi-regular basis. When it comes to the world of dating, one of them is women asking me if they should wait for a man to say “I love you” before they decide to do it. It’s kind of wild to see how this sends some ladies into mid-hysterics as they think of all of the hypothetical pros and cons that come with them “making the first move” in this fashion.
Me? At this stage and season in my life, I just don’t think that loving someone should be so complicated because, contrary to popular belief in this crazy ass culture of ours, love isn’t complicated. People can be…love isn’t.
And so, while I could give a very simple “yes” or “no” answer to this particular dilemma (which really isn’t all that much of one) so that you can see where I’m coming from in my ultimate conclusion, I want to break down the “who should say 'I love you' first?” scruple by presenting a few different points first. Ready?
Who Says "I Love You" First?
Love and Ego Are Not Friends. Let Alone Lovers.Giphy
Being controlling (which includes always wanting to control a particular outcome). Believing that you are always right. Not willing to let down your guard. Being hypercritical. Choosing to not see things from another person’s perspective. Guess what all of these things have in common? They are also connected to a person who has a serious ego problem.
The problem with that is ego and love don’t get along very well. That’s because, when you love someone, it’s about putting down your walls, being flexible, and 1000 percent wanting to extend as much empathy as possible — and that’s just the very tip of the love iceberg.
So, to be out here refusing to express yourself to someone you truly care about simply because you want to “win” by saying that he expressed himself to you first? Doesn’t that sound egomaniacal just to read and run that back in your mind? Imagine if he did that to you? Wouldn’t it feel like some low-key game that he was trying to play? Who wants love to be a game?
And that brings me to my next point, to be honest.
Game-Playing Is Never the Right MoveGiphy
Author and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia once said, “Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t over-analyze your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.” I like the entire quote, yet what stands out to me, as it relates to what we’re tackling today, is not idealizing someone, not playing games, and making sure that you are being a genuine individual. Genuine people are authentic. They are what a lot of us refer to as being a “real one.” Let’s keep building.
There’s a husband I know who says that something that he tells his wife, whenever she says something that he knows is virtually unattainable, is, “You should probably lower your expectations” — crazy as it might sound, he says that it works every time. One example he gave is that she was watching The Bachelor, and she came into the bedroom afterward and asked him, “Why don’t we go on dates like that?” and he immediately was like, “Are you serious? A fake reality show with a high budget? Please lower your expectations.” For her, it was a quick reality check. It’s also a great example of idealizing something that is pretty unrealistic — if not flat-out ridiculous.
Another problem with idealizing is it can lead to playing games. You’ve decided in your mind how something should go, and so you “script the person in” without their knowledge or consent and then have the nerve to be mad when things don’t play out the way you want them to. And then you try to play victim, gaslight, or blame someone on top of it all. Yeah, that’s peak game-playing. It’s also why a lot of people end up sabotaging their relationship, even before it gets off of the ground or before it goes where they want it to.
Thinking that a man should say “I love you first” because “that’s the man’s job”? Who came up with that? And how are so many women on that anyway in the day and age when they claim that a lot of gender roles are antiquated or obsolete (for the record, no, I’m not one of them)? Which team are you on? And if y’all church folks are gonna come with “A man should love the woman more anyway,” if you’re coming from Ephesians 5:33, where it says that a husband is to love his wife, remember that a wife is also to respect her husband (eh hem). Also, that doesn’t mean that a husband is supposed to love more so much as he is to remember that love is how a woman feels loved — just like how a man feels loved by being respected (a lot of women miss that).
Bottom line here, being caught up in not telling a man that you love him first because you think that if he says it first means that he means it more — yes, you’re playing games, and two, that’s not automatically the case. And besides, why should you want to ration or even parse true love with another person? Eww. I mean, “eww” in the biggest way possible, too.
Eve Was Brought to Adam. Here’s What I Mean.Giphy
It’s hard for me to talk about love, healthy holistic love, without bringing up Scripture because some of my favorite love stories are in the Bible. Even if I wasn’t a disciple of it (John 8:31-32), I would still enjoy reading it. And so, since perfection is only recorded in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1-2), I like Adam and the Woman’s (Eve’s name prior to sin — Genesis 2:23 & 3:20) journey. For the sake of time and space, I won’t put all of Genesis 2:18-25 here. I will share a particular verse (verse 22), though: “Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.”
Adam was not a hunter. He was a gardener.
The Woman was not prey. She was a blessing.
Adam didn’t pursue his wife. God brought her to him.
The Woman’s job was to let God do that. Adam’s job was to acknowledge God once he did.
Okay, if you get rid of all of that “a man has to chase me down” nonsense, why wouldn’t it be okay to tell a man that you love him? If you know that God wrote your love story and that he brought you to the man whom you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with, why not praise God by declaring that you love your future provider and protector? Or…is it that you’re unsure? And if that’s the case, the issue isn’t really about who should say anything first…more like, you should ponder if you need to be involved with ole’ boy at all (hmm…).
In the Wise Words of the Group Brownstone: “If You Love Me, Say It”
Y’all remember the R&B group Brownstone from back in the day? Actually, while I was in the process of writing this, that’s the song that immediately came to my mind because they’re right: If you love someone, why wouldn’t you say it? Why should it be so hard to say regardless of if he’s said it first or not?
One time, while reading an article on Oprah’s site about the topic of I love you, author Robert Holden shared that when you tell someone that you love them, what you’re essentially declaring is:
“I see you.”
“I accept you.”
“I thank you.”
“I am here for you.”
In that last part, he also stated this:
“Each time you say ‘I love you,’ you are really saying ‘I am here for you.’ ‘Being here’ means being fully present in the relationship—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Saying 'I love you' means 'I am committed to you' and 'I am committed to us.' You are telling that person you are in this relationship. You are not waiting for the relationship to sparkle or to improve before you commit to it. You are not playing it safe. You are not wearing a mask. You are not just trying to get something. You are really here, and this relationship really matters to you.”
He's right. And this can be quite revealing as to why you think a man should say “I love you” before you do. Perhaps you are playing it safe. Maybe you are wearing a bit of a mask. Maybe “I love you” from him is more of a goal than it really is about the two of you growing and evolving together. And you know what? All of those things are relational red flags.
And what if you’re one of those people who thinks that a man saying “I love you” first is the equivalent of him proposing marriage? First, I would say that’s a bit over the top, and secondly, I would say that you could end up waiting for a while, and that could cause you to experience some unnecessary anxiety.
My final point on all of this will hopefully explain why I say that is the case.
What Exactly Are You Waiting For?Giphy
I’m thinking that some of y’all will remember the sitcomGirlfriends fondly. Imma tell y’all what — the older I get and reflect back on that show and its spin-off, The Game, the more it makes sense to me that Joan Clayton and Melanie Barnett-Davis were cousins. Both of them were pretty neurotic if you ask me. All of that drama that they created in their heads when it came to matters of the heart…how were they not exhausted all of the time? SMDH.
Anyway, I’m closing out here because one of Joan’s more memorable relationships was with Sean. Nevermind the fact that he eventually broke up with her because (eh hem) “she was just too much work,” back in the happier times, she was doing all kinds of mess, like saying “olive juice,” hoping that it would make him say, “I love you too” so that, technically, she didn’t say it first — he did.
Now read that back and look at how silly all of that is. And besides, the way it played out is he came and used the bathroom while she was in there, she asked him not to, and he said, “When two people love each other, they should be able to do anything together.” And that’s when she realized that he had been loving her for a while — he was just more focused on actions than words.
Personally, I don’t see a better way to round this all out. If you feel loved — I mean, really and truly loved — by your partner, why not say “I love you”? Because I promise that there are a lot of people out here saying the words without a lot of actions to back it up. For the record, if you happen to be a “words of affirmation person” (like I am), I do get how all of this plays differently for you; still, leading by example can go a long way.
Y’all, after all of this, what I really want to say is life is too short, and time is too precious to be so trivial. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who says “I love you” first. Again, what matters is if you feel loved, consistently so. And if that’s the case, why not praise your partner for that by verbally saying “I love you” to them? If that means you say it before he does, so be it.
The love is there. And that’s all that really matters. Standing firm on that, too.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Adam and Kev/Getty Images