This Documentary Chronicling Black Women Entrepreneurs Is Your Weekend Must-See
OK, so I have to be honest: When 'everybody' is talking about something or something's labeled 'buzzworthy', I typically stay away from it. I'm often a skeptic and rebel who prefers to let hype die down before I even consider paying anything any mind. (Some journalists and everyday citizens are cringing about this but, trust me, if you've ever worked in media and experienced pop-culture saturation, traffic chasing, and bad news burnout, you feel me.)
So when there's lots of talk about a new film or TV show streaming on the Web, my first reaction is a shrug. I've been mad at Netflix as of late anyway. I'm a consumer who can have an insatiable appetite for newness, and after I've spent just a week binge-watching all the shows I love (i.e. music and pop culture documentaries, true crime investigations, historical films, comedic and crime dramas, and Nollywood flicks), I tend to get bored.
I want to see something new, entertaining, intriguing, and intelligently executed almost daily, but streaming platforms simply don't work that way.
With Netflix, once you've picked three limited "preferences" you're stuck with the same titles for weeks on end, and they're recycled over and over. Let's just say I've been hungry for that new-new.
Image by Giphy
Toward the end of last year, I noticed that several of my media and fashion-industry peers were posting on social about a new documentary that celebrated black women entrepreneurs. They'd all been witnesses to the producer's latest venture via screening events and were able to enjoy the moment with her. (I actually felt a bit out of the loop and left out. See, that's what I get for being an introverted skeptic.)
The name of the person behind the film was not new to me. I'd been a fan of "In Her Shoes" blog and its founder, Renae Bluitt, for years and had met her in passing at several events in New York. I also worked for a publication that had featured her glow up, and I loved what she and her brand represented.
When Bluitt's documentary, She Did That., finally made it to Netflix this month, I was super-geeked to check it out and finally share in the moment as my peers had. The project went well beyond hype. It was something new, intriguing, and well, very intelligently executed.
Here are 3 good reasons you need to go ahead and log in to Netflix---or even renew a once-forgotten subscription---and add this to your starving watch list:
You'll Have No Choice BUT To Be Inspired To DO Something Great
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Bluitt's doc features phenomenal entrepreneurs I've always admired including Lisa Price, who sold her multi-million-dollar natural haircare brand, Carol's Daughter, to L'Oreal in a landmark deal, Luvvie Ajayi, who turned a layoff into an opportunity to became a best-selling author and sought-after speaker, and Tonya Rapley, founder of My Fab Finance who has helped thousands find freedom from debt and reach their money goals.
I loved that Bluitt's doc didn't sugarcoat things, wasn't some fairytale---or cautionary tale---about black women in business, and provided authentic insight from entrepreneurs who've actually seen scalable success and have receipts.
(Rapley in particular shared a very candid story about her own financial struggles and enlightened me on something I think many women overlook--financial abuse at the hands of a bae. I've followed her career as well and never heard this story so transparently before.) The keep-it-real conversations about starting from scratch should put a fire under anybody's butt to get out there and, well, do the damn thing---whatever that thing is.
You'll Actually See Black Women--And Their Men---Empowering Each Other
Image by Giphy
The film also featured everyday women who may not be in the forefront of news headlines but had great insights to contribute about the power of entrepreneurial sisterhood and female partnership. A major theme in the film was that black women indeed support one another, and that we're not all at one another's throats to get to the bag. It's the community of sisterly unity in the space that keeps many women motivated, supported and thriving, whether it's spiritual, financial or infrastructural. Also, the inclusion of men was refreshing. Unlike some female-focused or "feminist" docs I've seen, this one shed light on husbands and baes who were supportive and detailed how they played essential roles in the success of the women featured.
It's All the More Reason For Netflix to Celebrate the Black Female Experience
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We all know how media works: What's popularly "liked" will be duplicated or offered more. For films, it's box-office numbers. For Web stories, it's pageviews and shares. In this case, what you view and like makes a world of difference in terms of what will be offered in the future. Netflix will "forgo or choose not to renew some titles that aren't watched enough relative to their cost." (It even mentions on its site that when you rate content, "you're helping us filter through the thousands of selections to get a better idea of what you'd like to watch." It also explains that its algorithm takes factors into consideration including "the combined ratings of all Netflix members who have similar tastes to you." The more we see diverse depictions of the female voice and experience, the better. We need more black women to be empowered to build foundations for the next generation, and other cultures and communities must take notice of our impact in order to invest and partner for enriching all communities.
Check out the trailer for She Did That., below and watch in full on Netflix. You can also follow In Her Shoes blog for more entrepreneurial and life inspiration.
Featured Image via In Her Shoes
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How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
This Couple Got A Second Chance At Love After A Six-Year Break & 10 Months Later, They Got Married
Have you ever wondered if real love is like a romance novel? For Kai, 50, and Hicham, 46, Bouhmad, it is. Kai, who is an adventurer at heart, meets a stranger who believes she would be a great match for his friend, who happens to be Hicham. They connected on Facebook and, after a few exchanges, decided to meet, and while they had a great first date and continued dating shortly after, adventure was calling, and Kai decided to break it off.
However, six years later, another stranger would bring them together, and they reconnected. We can agree that at this point, they were meant to be, and in ten short months, they got married on Valentine’s Day.
Sounds like something out of a novel, right? xoNecole had the opportunity to chat with the lovely couple about their wedding, reconnecting, and having a second chance at love.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Kai and Hicham on Meeting for the First Time
Kai and Hicham got married on February 14, 2023, in Honolulu, Hawaii in an intimate ceremony, and plan on having a reception in Morocco, Hicham’s home country, later on. One of their wedding guests was the person responsible for their union, Hicham’s friend Karim. Kai reflected on that day when they met.
“I was at a party, and a guy walked in and was like, what’s going on in here? And I was like, well, this is a salon party for the salon that just opened, and they had free food and stuff, and I was like do you want some food?” Kai shares.
When they began talking, Kareem brought up Hicham. “He was like, 'I have a friend that I want to introduce you to if you’re single,' and I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds cool.’ So, he was like, 'Well, I’m gonna send you his Facebook information. If you guys can talk on Facebook and see how you guys like each other.' So, that was six years ago, and we talked, and we got along pretty well, and then we started dating.”
Kai and Hicham Describe Their First Date
Because both of them are into the arts, they decided to go to the movies on their first date. At that time, Loving was in theaters, and according to Kai, she knew when she saw him that she wanted to marry him. “I just had that feeling,” she reveals.
Hicham also recalls their “wonderful” date that extended after the movies at a nearby restaurant. “It was a wonderful moment when we made eye contact,” he says.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Their Breakup and Reconnection
While Kai saw Hicham as her husband, she wasn’t ready to settle down, but Hicham was. So, they decided to go their separate ways, and Kai began traveling the world. But little did she know that six years later, she would see him again. This time, Kai was visiting an art gallery that had just opened up and began talking to the art gallery owner.
“She [art gallery owner] said, ‘I’m having an art opening, the studio just opened, and we’re having a party next week, and you should come, and my boyfriend has a lot of friends, maybe I’ll introduce you to some of his friends,’ and I was like ‘Oh, okay,’ Kai recalls.
“And at this time, I had already booked my ticket to go to Morocco to explore by myself, solo travel. So I said, 'Oh yeah, this will be fun.' This was in April, and my trip to Morocco was just in August. So, I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come to your little party, I’m there.’ I’m talking, and then she said 'Oh, my boyfriend is here, and here’s one of his friends.' One of his friends was Hicham.”
This happened on April 23, 2022, and they have been together ever since.
When Hicham reappeared in her life, Kai knew she was now ready to settle down. “I honestly got tired of doing stuff by myself. I was tired, everything I have to do by myself, and I just got tired of that,” Kai explains. “I just felt like I really wanted a partner who’s really supportive and generous and kind, and I really wanted a partner that was by my side.
One of the ways that Hicham convinced Kai to give him another shot was when he wore a cactus shirt to her house, which showed the journalist how much he paid attention to her. “I love cactuses ‘cause it reminds me of the desert. It’s bohemian, I love desert cactuses. When he showed up with a cactus shirt on, I just could not resist,” she says. “That sounds cheesy and cliche and might sound silly, but it just symbolized that he knows me deeply and what I love and paid attention to stuff I care about even though it was silly. That meant a lot.”
Not long after, Hicham knew it was time to pop the question. “Kai gave me [an] indication that she was ready, and so that’s how that all happened.” He continues, “dropping hints, and she was pretty much ready, and I proposed to her.”
Kai admits that they planned their engagement together, including ring shopping, engagement photos, etc.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Advice on Finding Love Again
This is both Kai’s and Hicham’s second marriages, and they gave advice on finding love the second time around. They both share the same sentiment about being open and optimistic. Both come from different cultural backgrounds and while that alone could have held them back from pursuing one another, they were open to love.
“Get out of your comfort zone and don’t limit yourself and don’t fear to fail because from failure you learn to build yourself up,” Hicham says.
And at the end of the day, it’s important to establish a friendship first. “Another [piece of] advice, just make sure you like the person,” Kai says, “and that’s really important because you have to make sure even if you have a disagreement or arguments, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, do I like this person? And just make sure you really like them.”
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Feature image courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad