As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.
Black women are extremely excluded from the investment world.
In fact, the numbers have dropped. When we started hosting our annual conference four years ago, women saw 5 percent of business funding—if that. Now, depending on the report, that number is less than 1 percent. These numbers have been stagnant, and backing women has suddenly become trendy with big businesses hosting pitch competitions, awarding 6-figure checks for photo opportunities that tell a glorious story about female support and blah blah blah, *insert supportive stats here*
But make no mistake about it, scaling a business takes real money.
We created a safe space for women to come learn about best practices in excelling as an entrepreneur, all while placing you in front of investors. We packed it up, created avenues, and decided to have the conversation.
This is when Flourish Media Conference was born.
Photo Courtesy of Flourish Media Conference
Here's why: as a team, we have attended more than 100 conferences, but never quite felt like panelists were speaking to us. There was always something missing—whether it be speakers that understand the struggle of a female entrepreneur, being of color in spaces that we don't already exist, brands that focus on the needs of people of color, or successful unconventional young entrepreneurs speaking on trials and tribulations of reverse ageism.
We wanted to create a space that didn't have the fluff. We wanted people to attend our conferences and leave with actual action steps, relationships, or tangible items to propel their entrepreneurial journey. We're not here to be your beauty guru. We're here to tell you how many times we fell on our asses before learning how to be a player in the game.
And we strengthen your tenacity along the way.
If you had access to $15 million in capital, what would you do? How would you pitch? How would you invest? How would you position yourself to be successful?
That's what FMC is all about.
They say that good things come in threes, right? Here's each of our advice on how to be the ultimate entrepreneur in a world where we aren't often acknowledged:
Sasha | @iamsashar
Becoming an entrepreneur was always in my cards growing up. Both my parents were entrepreneurs, as was the majority of my family, so getting a job was never in the forefront of my mind. I also grew up in a strict Haitian household where all we did was Leglise, l'ecole ak lekay (translation: church, school and home). My parents only asked me to get good grades, be a servant of God, and go to college. Given that, I had the opportunity to be in the art club, run for student government, learn to sew, and really find myself creatively. Looking back now I was a minipreneur preparing myself for the life I have now.
I made my way into the creative world as a clothing designer and hair stylist in Miami after I graduated from Florida International University, until I decided to refocus and give back to my country of Haiti. My vision with all the businesses I have, was to move the female agenda forward.
We assembled Flourish Media Co. after finding a void in the black female entrepreneurial space. Vivian was starting her second company I came on board to help her with branding. Our contacts list from years and years of work made funding dollars available and we began introducing female, small business owners to willing investors. We knew that we wanted attendees to get the best information we had to offer. We knew we wanted to highlight using media to grow a business.
But our first year had no mercy on us and I am pretty sure I cried a lot.
We went into it like this will be great, we can totally do this ourselves! ...but very quickly learned building a team and learning how to delegate tasks would save us a lot of mental breakdowns when someone brings you kelly green balloons and not forest green balloons (I had a level 50 meltdown that day haha).
Eventually, we got into the swing of things, and became influencers in the industry. Now, my only goal is to pay it forward in every avenue that I have access to—and even those that I don't.
My most significant lessons in entrepreneurship:
- Build a team you trust. You can't do it all by yourself.
- Don't do things that make you unhappy. It drives my business partners crazy but I will politely excuse myself from situations that disturb my energy.
- Be flexible! You can always have a plan but sometimes the plan needs to change for the better. I am never so planted on an idea that I can't hear what God is telling me.
- And while competition is healthy, collaboration is key.
I'll see you ladies at the top.
Vivian | @vivianolo
I have a fantastic relationship with money. I just understand it. I understand that money is our way of saying 'thank you' for a job well-done. I knew that, even when I was underpaid and stressed out over bills.
Traditional career planning gave me the chance to work on fantastic projects with Disney Corporation, The Wall Street Journal, Miami International Airport, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate and the Miami Heat. My career put me in rooms with CEOs of major banks, high profile real estate professionals, and celebrities. I quickly learned that profitable business systems are transferable. Ask me and I'll certainly tell you all about it.
I grew up surrounded by safe choices in non-traditional environments. Both of my parents are immigrants who joined the United States military. My father is from Nigeria. My mother is from Panama. I was born in Germany. An exotic origin story to say the least. I attended 8 different schools in 4 different states, collecting friends along the way. Despite moving around often, my parents went out of their way to build structure for myself and my brothers. My parents encouraged me to try new things which built my confidence. They taught me to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
But creating a business went against everything I grew up seeing. My parents are first-generation Americans, US military veterans, and teachers. They believed in me, but they didn't have any advice to give me about running a business. I had to go out and find mentors.
Finding a group of like-minded people to bounce ideas [off of] makes all the difference for me. I highly recommend it.
Yet, even with success, I can always remember thinking, what if no one shows up?
My most significant lessons in entrepreneurship:
- Content is king and time management is vital. If you've never done an event it's easy to let ego get in your way. You might think you need to be flashy, have celebrity speakers, and fancy gift bags but that's a lie. Your people will find you.
- Get clear on why you're bringing people together and express that clearly. Those people who want what you're offering will show up.
- If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, get a team. There are so many lessons to learn along the way. I find that I enjoy the journey because I have a strong support team.
- I cannot express how much you need a sales plan. The hardest part about producing any event, is putting people in the seats. Don't forget that part.
Ladies, it's our responsibility to take care of all women. It's your responsibility too.
My concept of entrepreneurship was pretty skewed. In college, two of my professors specifically told me I should start my own business. But that sounded like sales, yuck! It wasn't until I started my YouTube channel that I realized how much money I could make just by being myself. When I realized that, I was super duper sold.
I grew up in a single-parent household (my father was a career military man and died in service when I was 7). My mom is from the Philippines, and we were very middle class. So, growing up, I had this interesting middle class mindset upbringing, but always had this seed of a desire to become something more.
I think I knew very early on—maybe 6 or 7–that I'd probably do something different with my life. I had no clue what that was because everything I was exposed to was the contrary. Its funny, because 15 years ago, I thought I'd be in some high rise C-suite running things and telling people what to do. Now I get to do that, just from my bed and in yoga pants.
Over time, my passion has developed, sustained, and nurtured FMC. And what I love most is we empower, but in a real tangible way.
We make sure our attendees leave with more than fluffy fluff fluff motivational talks. We want them to feel like they are ready, not just in theory, but in practice.
And that's exactly what they get.
Because I frequently have to go from one thing to the next, I invest very heavily in high-level support. Coaches, mentors, etc. I believe in the power of coaching (otherwise I wouldn't be one). I've had coaches all my life—from athletics, to academics to singing and music. This season of my life is no different.
And what Sasha does on our team to bring to life to the FMC experience, and what Vivian does to ensure we have the right partners to make it all happen—it's really phenomenal. They are geniuses.
And together we've figured out how to pay it all forward.
My most significant lessons in entrepreneurship:
- Successful entrepreneurship is really a science. There's lots of moving parts, lots of formulas, lots of trial and error. And mindset matters more than anything.
- Start before you're ready. Don't have a website? Put words on a page and a PayPal link at the bottom. Make it better over time. And build as you go!
- Consistency compounds! So, keep going, don't waste potential.
- Be scared of complacency. I'm always moving, and always expanding and always trying to figure out how to push to the next level so that I can serve as many people as possible. It's always a conversation in my head that says "Well that sounds scary, I don't want to do it." But the higher version is of myself answers back with a resounding, "If you're scared then that means you definitely need to do it!" Growth solves everything. So, that is always the goal.
Your goals are where success lies. The success is where the work is.
Remember that, ladies.
Featured image by courtesy of Flourish Media Conference
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images