Sometimes, it's the darkest before the dawn. No matter how cliché that might sound, Stormi Steele is a woman who can vouch for how real those words truly are. Back when she was a junior in college, she was depressed; "Actually, I was suicidal," Stormi clarifies. While to the outside world, she was in school studying painting and photography and things seemed to be going fine, within her something, many things, didn't feel quite right. In fact, something felt very wrong.
"I did what a lot of us do around that age," said Stormi. "I went to school because it was expected of me, but I wasn't happy. Then one night, I had a breakdown and so I picked up my bible, trying to figure out what to do. Three nights later, I had a dream. In that dream, the name of my business and my business statement came to me. After that, it was like everything just took off."
Indeed, it did. In 2011, Stormi realized that becoming a hairstylist is what she needed to do, so she enrolled in hair school. "I wasn't really the happiest with my hair when I was in high school," explained Stormi. "Then, while I was in the military, my hair broke off. While I was in hair school, I tried making a product so that my hair would grow." I could hear the smile in Stormi's voice when she said, "I still have the original bottle that product was in to this day."
Stormi remembers that in 2012, she had $800 to her name but after graduating from hair school and opening up her own salon, she started making six figures.
However, it wasn't until 2014 that she came up with something that would not only change her life, but the lives of thousands of others—a hair serum. One that not only helps hair to grow longer but triggers dormant hair follicles, heals scalp ailments and even treats alopecia (thousands of customers say so). And just how did Stormi get the idea to make the serum? Again, it came to her in a dream. Not the serum specifically, but one ingredient at a time, beginning with cayenne pepper. "When cayenne came to me, at first I thought it was weird," admits Stormi. "Then I looked up all that it could do and I was amazed."
From Dreams to Reality
Photo by Trenton Steele
After taking note of all of the ingredients that she dreamed about, researching how each of them would prove to be beneficial and then playing the process of elimination based on which items blended the best, Stormi began using her 100 percent organic homemade serum on her own hair. Within a year, the quality (and length) of her tresses had drastically improved. By 2015, she started sharing her masterpiece on her social media pages. The serum sold. Her customers remained consistent and loyal. Yet still, something was missing. By 2018—yes, just last year—even though things were going well, Stormi was wearing herself out, putting in 18+ hours at her hair salon.
"I was making good money at my salon, but something was still pulling at me," says Stormi. "People were still asking me for the serum, but because I was making it myself, I honestly didn't have the time to do it. Then, last year, for my birthday, my husband and I went to NY. I went out onto the balcony of our hotel room and stared at the skyline. In my mind, I thought, 'Somebody created all of this.' That was on August 11 or 12. When I came back home on August 16, I decided that I should give the serum my full attention. I created a website, posted a sale for the serum and, within that first month, I made $46,000."
Yes y'all, you read that right. Stormi's hair serum made almost $50,000 in just thirty days. Understandably, she took that as a sign that she should take the dive and go all in with her haircare products. So, she quit styling and, each month, she rolled out something new—the serum, the shampoo and conditioner and so on. At one point, she received so many orders that she made six figures in five days. Now, in 2019, Canvas Beauty —a haircare, lash and brow, and extensions line that she runs with her husband Courtney Beasley—has netted a whopping one million dollars in a year's time. Yep, you read that right as well. A big part of that is by word of mouth from her customers; many claim to see hair growth results in two weeks (some in as little as seven days).
"I've always had a big imagination," says Stormi. "And, after you come back from feeling like you want to die, you don't really have much left to fear. Besides, I tend not to listen to what others say and I definitely don't listen to their fears."
Even though Stormi admits that getting Canvas Beauty to soar has required a lot of sleepless nights, trial and error and still having to hear her mom say, "Don't give up what you know for what you don't know" as she encouraged her to return to school, she has no regrets and is enjoying the journey. "Learning about infusing the oil, mass producing product, meeting the supply and demand of what my company offers, marketing—sometimes it's overwhelming, but I know this is where I'm supposed to be."
How to Make Your Own Dreams Real
Photo by Mauria Moore & Curtis Carrington (Curt Scene It)
And what advice does Stormi have for other women who want to step out on their own dreams?
- Don't be afraid. "If you've got a vision, you need to go for it. It wouldn't be in you if God couldn't trust you with it."
- Establish your why. "On the hardest days, it's been remembering why I'm running my company that has kept me going."
- Learn your business inside and out. "No matter who comes along to help your company to grow, you are the one who needs to be the heartbeat of it. No matter what."
- Don't be afraid to outsource. "I can't do it all, no one can. I focus on my strengths and have absolutely no problem finding people to help me in other areas. It saves a lot of time in the long run."
- Support your tribe. "Don't be the person who always needs to be pedestaled. Money and fame are great, but the main reason why you should be doing what you do is so that you can be a part of helping others become who they want to be." (Stormi definitely walks the talk when it comes to this particular point. She hosts what is known as The Dream Girl Society Brunch every August and February. It's a networking brunch for entrepreneurial women.)
- Stay in the moment. "It's easy to get discouraged if you look too far ahead. Work with what you have right now. If God thought you needed more, He'd give it to you."
I started this with a cliché, so it's poetic that I end with one. Dreams do come true, y'all. Stormi Steele is living proof.
Feature image by Mauria Moore & Curtis Carrington (Curt Scene It)
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “ On My Mama ” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour . So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood