There's this phenomenon that's being talked about on social media as well as in the news, where a wave of people have sparked what is now being called the "Great Resignation." Professionals have been chucking the deuces to working their 9-to-5s and saying to hell with pandemic-era fear and hesitation. This recent wave, which includes at least 4.3 million workers, has been led by—you guessed it—women, who have been quitting their jobs at a higher rate than men.
And here are some telling tidbits about the who, what, where, when and why of it all: Harvard Business Review reports that resignation numbers are the highest in the healthcare and tech industries, both areas where high levels of stress came in with the increased demand during and after the pandemic. Rates are also high among mid-career workers (Hey, all my geriatric millennials! Heeey!) who perhaps have "reached a breaking point" and are rethinking career and life goals.
Let's get into a few real-life stories of Black women who took the plunge to find success and fulfillment, redefine balance, and get to the bag in ways that shift the narrative.
Allyssa resigned from her job as a VP in marketing after more than a decade managing multimillion-dollar campaigns for global beauty and luxury brands. She officially launched her company, Meg & Munro, in September 2020 and hasn't looked back since. "I left because I began to notice that despite the resounding success, I was frequently being overlooked as a Black consumer of those brands and as a key strategist on the marketing team," Alyssa says. "With the goal of bringing more inclusivity to the marketing field, I launched a marketing and communications agency for beauty and lifestyle brands."
She held a passion to tap into new audiences and offer her skills on her own terms while expanding the landscape of brand awareness. "With the growing attention to the multicultural beauty and personal care category in the height of the pandemic, many brands needed help reaching the same diverse consumers they once ignored," she added. "Through public relations, social media, and influencer partnerships, my agency drives visibility, interest, and demand for brands aiming to reach multicultural consumers."
"Surprisingly, the pandemic allowed me to double down on my decision to leave my full-time marketing position. I saw how uncertain things were in the workplace and thought it was a better use of my time and talents to grow my own business."
Allyssa has enjoyed her new normal after taking the leap. "I now experience less anxiety (no more Sunday Scaries!) and have a lot more ownership over my work and time," she says. "Since launching, we have worked with dozens of beauty and lifestyle brands and creators including Converse Shoes, Footlocker, Anderson Bluu, Her Agenda, Strange Bird Beauty, Avocurl, and Yawoni just to name a few. Our work and clients have also appeared on The View and inGlamour, Forbes, Refinery29, Good Housekeeping, Hypebeast, Goop, and much more!"
For others who might be pausing their efforts to go forward with leaving their jobs, especially at a prime time when millions of companies and professionals are reevaluating strategies and goals, she urges planning and patience. "Leverage your network. It's important to communicate your values and let others know your goals for starting a business. Second, it's very important to plan your finances and strategy for making money within the first few years of operating. It takes time to start seeing returns in business, and it will be difficult to scale and/or make sound business decisions if you're constantly worrying about finances."
Melissa decided to go full-time with her love for makeup artistry last November, after slowly growing her business as a side hustle. "I was working as an underwriting analyst for an insurance company, and my part-time business was starting to require more of my time," she recalls. "The more it grew the more I realized that's where my passion was. My career was no longer fulfilling. In addition to not feeling fulfilled in my career, I had a boss that micromanaged everything I did."
"I felt overwhelmed, undervalued, and drained. My 9-to-5 was holding me back from reaching my full potential. My boss would often deny my PTO requests and when he did approve my time off, I would feel the retaliation when I returned to work."
The final straw for Melissa was when she took approved PTO for a big wedding booking, and upon returning to the office, was met with an abrupt meeting request. "It was about my work and more micromanaging. In that moment I knew I couldn't do it for another day. I submitted my resignation letter in the middle of a pandemic not sure what would happen next."
Stepping up her game in building MeMa Creations and gaining new clientele seemed like a natural next step for Melissa. "That feeling of uncertainty—not knowing what tomorrow may bring—made me feel so uneasy, but it also made my decision to leave very clear. I didn't want to continue putting all my time and efforts into a corporation that didn't value me. I was tired of sacrificing my own dreams for someone else's dream."
Since going full-time with her business she has enjoyed a level of success that she can be proud of. "I have done makeup for more than 60 weddings, in addition to my regular clients," she says. "I also offer virtual makeup lessons and one-on-one in-person makeup lessons. My work has been published in two major magazines in less than a year, and I am launching my makeup products before the end of the year."
Tracy started her firm in June 2020 as a pivot due to the pandemic. She'd worked for a decade in the finance industry, and had taken a leap of faith to pursue a career as a retail fashion buyer and independent image consultant. "The ongoing freelancing that I was doing lessened significantly in early 2020, but as opportunities came back, I was not comfortable doing image consulting due to the nature of the work. It was impossible to be socially distant," she said. "So when an opportunity for PR management arose, I leaned into it and grew it knowing I needed to replace my income."
Tracy's reputation preceded her, and she was able to help a previous image consulting client to help with her public image via PR management. That was when she says, Tracy Aliche Consulting really took off. "I took on the challenge, hit the ground running, and soon attracted opportunities to do the same for other entrepreneurs as a result of all the press I was able to secure. We now have a roster of five full-time clients, and the rise has been truly exhilarating!"
For others considering quitting their day jobs to pursue a new career or journey, Tracy suggests investing time in a bit of self-actualization. "One of the most important things to consider before leaving a job is being honest with yourself about what you're willing and not willing to sacrifice to reach your end goal," she adds. "What are you willing to give up? Would you give up your cozy apartment if it meant being able to sustain financially after leaving the workforce? If you insist on maintaining your current lifestyle as is, then creating a realistic timeline, building a financial safety net, and having a fully fleshed-out backup plan are non-negotiables. I think it's important to know your 'why.'"
Watchen Nyanue's journey in transitioning from a 9-to-5 to entrepreneurship during the Great Resignation has a positive twist. She'd been leading a podcast that was the launchpad for her brand, all while working full time as a WNBA executive. "My job was actually amazing, but I knew that, for the sake of my reputation and for the work I'd put in, I didn't want to start letting the quality of my work drop to pursue something else and ruin the reputation I'd already built in decades of work. My company was literally behind me 100%. They knew when the podcast launched, and they are [actually] one of my clients today."
Her platform, I Choose The Ladder, helps large corporations develop and retain their high-performing Black female talent, a service that came in high demand.
"The pandemic, at least for me, was a gift and a curse. The time that we had at home gave me some time to assess what I wanted to be spending my time doing and who I wanted to be spending my time with. And because I started planting the seed already, the jump wasn't as scary as I thought it would be."
She offers some key advice for women who are thinking about joining the wave. "First I would encourage folks to ask, 'Is it the company you work for, the person you work for or is it corporate America?' A lot of times we make large decisions based on really small factors. Maybe the company that you work for is not the best fit for what you're trying to do. That doesn't mean there's not a company that can meet your needs."
Another key piece of advice: "A lot of people go to entrepreneurship because they're running from something not because they're running to something. If you're running from a job and all of the chaos that you think might be in corporate, a lot of those things still exist in entrepreneurship. And if you have not figured out how to navigate [challenges] while on someone else's dime, it's going to be an even steeper, more expensive, more stressful, and lonely learning curve. So make sure you're running to entrepreneurship, not just from corporate America."
Featured image via Getty Images
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Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
This December will mark two years since I lost, hell, over 90 percent of my belongings in a house fire (check out “My House Burned Up. Three Days Before Christmas. What It Taught Me.”). Only people who have gone through something similar get how long it takes to…replenish. That’s why I was so excited about setting some money aside this year so that I could get the kind of fall wardrobe that I’ve been wanting for a hot minute now. Since autumn is my favorite time of year, I like to prepare for it more than any other season.
My hair is not exempt. Boy, the more I am intentional about achieving some real hair length, the more research I like to do when it comes to giving my tresses exactly what they need — this includes what’s required from season to season.
That’s what this article is all about. With fall officially being a week away, I wanted to give you some time to get your hair and your coins ready to provide it just what it needs so that it can adjust nicely to cooler (and oftentimes wetter) weather.
1. Comb More than Brush
Although this one might sound a bit odd, hear me out. So long as you use the right kind of brush (a detangling one and/or a boar bristle brush), there are benefits that come with brushing your hair. Brushing helps stimulate your scalp and distribute natural oils to coat your hair strands, and brushing can get rid of natural hair strands that shed on a daily basis. However, the reason you might want to comb (or pick) more than brush during the fall season is because the semi-drastic shifts in temperature tend to create a jet stream that brings more wind and rain.
And when it’s damper outside, that can make your hair frizzier — and what can add to the frizz is brushing your locks because it separates each strand, which makes it easier for the cuticles on them to stand up and out (when hair isn’t frizzing up, the cuticles are smooth). Since the process of combing helps to keep your strands more “clumped together,” which can reduce frizz, it’s a hairstyling hack to keep in mind…if frizz is something that you want to avoid, that is.
2. Avoid Hair Drying Products
Speaking of controlling frizz, here’s another tip to keep in mind. Did you know that the main reason why frizz happens in the first place is because hair lacks moisture? Basically, the tiny “scales” that cover each strand, when there is no frizz, they lie down smoothly. Oh, but when there’s some frizzing going on, they stand all over the place. Since our hair is usually naturally drier anyway (because the sebum from our scalp has a harder time coating our strands from root to tip due to our curly hair texture), our hair frizzes up more than most. That’s why we have to be hypervigilant about keeping moisture in it.
And why is this relevant during the fall season? Well, if there’s more rain, this means that water evaporates into the air, and when the hydrogen bonds from the water connect with the protein in your hair, that can cause frizz, especially if/when your hair is already dry. That’s why it’s important to avoid hair products that have drying agents in them — ones like alcohol, sulfates, polyethylene glycol, ammonia (which is what’s in a lot of hair dyes), and dimethicone (a type of silicone) — for starters.
3. Apply a Leave-In Conditioner
If you’re looking for a proactive way to keep moisture in your hair, you can never go wrong with a water-based leave-in conditioner. What I like about them is they’re a quick way to add some moisture and softening agents to my hair in between wash days (which is my deep conditioning day). The way that I apply it is I add a couple of dabs to my hair at night before I put my hair in 2-6 plaits (in order to keep my hair stretched without heat).
By morning, the leave-in is dry, so I can style my hair without worrying about whether the dampness from the leave-in will cause my hair to look curlier than I might want it to be. As far as some of the best leave-ins (for curly hair) that are currently on the market, you can check out a few recommendations here, here, and here.
4. Use Hair Masks and Hot Oil Treatments
To tell you the truth, hair masks are something that should be used year-round. That’s because they add hydration, smooth hair cuticles, help to prevent split ends, strengthen hair follicles, keep your scalp healthy, and make your hair soft to the touch. As far as hot oil treatments are concerned, they’re great at repairing hair damage, reducing frizz, adding shine to color-treated hair, soothing scalp irritation (including the kind that is the result of dandruff,) and also keeping split ends from getting out of hand.
When it comes to how often you should treat your hair to a mask or an oil treatment, my two cents would be to alternate wash days — meaning, one wash day, go with a hair mask, and on the next, use a hot oil treatment. You can get some solid tips for how to DIY a hair mask by watching the videos here and here and how to do your own hot oil treatment by watching the video here and here.
5. Try Color-Depositing Shampoos and Conditioners
If you’re someone who likes to play with hair color, I definitely think that the fall is better than the summer to do it; that’s because the summer season brings a lot of heat that can dry out your hair, which can result in serious damage to dyed strands. Since the fall season is cooler, current trending colors like chestnut brown, wine, and bold highlights can have your hair looking amazing without compromising its health (quite as much).
If you want to keep your color lasting longer so that you don’t have to retouch it (and dry your hair out anyway) quite so often, invest in some color-depositing shampoos and conditioners. They’re basically semi-permanent hair products that will serve as a “top coat of color” for your hair for 10-15 wash days.
I’ve tried them before and, especially the conditioners, have done wonders as far as adding depth and shine to my hair without compromising its health. Cosmo has some shampoo recommendations here. Byrdie has some conditioner recommendations here.
6. Put Shampoo in Your Hair Dye
I wish I could remember where I learned this hack from, but just trust me when I say that it’s a TOTAL game-changer. It can’t be said enough that one of the biggest misconceptions that a lot of us have when it comes to our hair is that Black hair doesn’t grow long. The hell you say. Although genetics do somewhat play a role (for sure), the reality is a lot of us don’t see inches because our hair breaks off as fast as it grows — and that’s because we don’t take care of our ends as well as we should.
Case in point, since our ends are the oldest parts of our hair, if you plan on coloring your hair (especially if you’re about to retouch your color), your ends need to be color-treated the least — one, because they are already fragile and two, because they already have some color on them (if you’re coloring for the first time).
That said, one way to give your ends a ”once over” of color (for added depth) while damaging them as little as possible is to put some shampoo in your hair dye once you’ve already colored the rest of your hair. As you’re preparing to rinse the dye out, use that shampoo to penetrate your ends for about five minutes before thoroughly washing your hair without shampoo that has no dye in it (make sure that it’s sulfate-free).
Your ends will get a coat of color, and you won’t have to worry about stripping them of the natural oils that they need to keep from breaking off. Brilliant.
7. Don’t Forget the Thermal Heat Protectant
Hands down, I think the best time of year to get some longevity out of a blowout is the fall season. That’s because, since it’s cooler outside, that means less sweating, which means your strands are able to stay stretched out for longer periods of time. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should just go ham with your blow dryer and flat iron on a daily basis — but you should be able to pull off a few blowouts before Christmas without any hair damage…so long as you deep condition your hair and apply a thermal heat protectant before applying any heat.
Although some come in sprays and others in creams, my recommendation is “Option B” because it tends to coat our hair better. You can check out a few options to go with here. And as far as how to create the perfect blowout on natural hair, some YouTubers can walk you through it step-by-step. Check out this one (here), this one (here), this one (here), this one (here) and this one (here).
8. Get Some Hair Serum
Even though I did say earlier that a type of silicone can dry out your hair, that doesn’t make every silicone on the planet the devil. The reality is that serums, which are made from silicones, can be beneficial when it comes to extending the dye in your hair, preventing heat damage, increasing hair elasticity, detangling your hair, and definitely adding some major sheen and shine to it. That’s why you can never go wrong with hair serum being the “final touch” to your blowouts.
InStyle has some of their top serum picks here. Some keys to making hair serum work best for you are to take the “less is more” approach, to warm it up a bit beforehand (to keep it from going on so thick), and to not go more than ten days without washing your hair if you’ve applied the serum more than a couple of times; otherwise, you run the risk of dryness and breakage, if you’re not careful.
9. Oil Your Ends
Wool. Flannel. Corduroy. Hemp. Microfleece. Something that all of these fabrics have in common is they help to keep us warm. Problem is, that they can be really drying (and snag-inducing) when it comes to the ends of your hair. That’s why it’s a really good idea to be intentional about oiling the ends of your hair on the days when you know that they are going to be out.
Grapeseed, avocado, jojoba, sweet almond, and rosehip oil are all potent enough to keep your hair moisturized while being light enough to not weigh your hair strands down. Or you can use a hair oil blend. Although I personally don’t have locs, there is an Etsy store called The Loc Shop NYC that carries some oil combos that I’m a huge fan of — they penetrate my hair for days on end, and the scents are amazing. You can check ‘em out here.
By the way, some gentler fabrics that can also warm you up as they are kinder to your locks include cashmere, cotton, polyester, and, believe it or not, silk.
10. Invest in More Hats
Hats are my jam — everyone who knows me knows it. They’re great for bad hair days. They are awesome fashion accessories. And they can keep your head warm on the coolest of days in the coldest way possible (see what I did there?). That’s why you couldn’t tell me a damn thing when my new, large, gray Fedora came in the mail last week. After doing some internet skimming, it looks like bucket hats, newsboy hats, baseball caps, beanies, and berets are gonna be all the rage this fall season. Hmph. Betta get you some. Hats can shave off 15-20 minutes of your morning-get-ready routine. EASILY.
BONUS: Get a New Umbrella
Many days have started out a good hair day and then turned into an epic fail because either someone forgot their umbrella or the one they have is so old and tattered that it didn’t do them much good anyway. For this very reason, not too long ago, I copped myself one of those clear bubble umbrellas, and my hair couldn’t be more thrilled! As a bonus, not only does it keep my hair perfectly dry, but it also covers enough of my body that I can enjoy outdoor events in drizzling weather without getting the top half of my clothes wet, too. It’s the truest must-have fall accessory, no doubt about it.
There you have it: ten things that can get — and keep — your hair right this coming fall.
Don’t say a sistah wasn’t looking out. #wink
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