The Mompreneurs: Mamas In Business Event

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending The Mompreneurs Mamas In Business Event at the Atlanta Ballet.

Although I arrived late due to a scheduling conflict (family wedding to attend), I still left with a vast amount of knowledge. Well worth the $50 admission ticket, if I must say so myself.

The panel consisted of 9 beautiful and successful supermoms:

Melanie Marie @melrwhite

Andrea Hamilton @fashiondree @theory_comm

Joi Pearson @ubringmejoi @joi_stik @joipearsonphoto

Neffi Walker @neffiwalker

Lauren Williams @lodwill

Iman Ramadan @thefreshhotel

Eliana B. @ellybevents

Nakeia Chomer @nakeiachomer

Jai Jai @funhousejaijai

Andrea Hamilton is the co-founder of her own PR Firm, Theory Communications, a very prominent communications agency here in Atlanta. I got the chance to chat with her and her sister, Erica Hamilton (and also co-founder of Theory Communications), one-on-one about some of my own personal struggles with social media. Aside from the bomb gems that she dropped on me, I was delighted at how open and willing she was to offer such valuable knowledge. If that doesn’t scream girl-power then I don’t know what does.

Lauren Williams was another gem that I really appreciated connecting with. Although I didn’t get a chance to talk to her one on one, I love how open and transparent she was with her struggles in business. As a devoted mom to her daughter Baleigh, COO of her own hair company, and head of management for her sister Porsha Williams (RHOA) she wasn’t afraid to open up and tell us how things are not always perfect behind the scenes, despite what people may see or think. I really appreciated her for that.

In addition to giving us insight on how she juggles raising her son AND running multiple business at the same time, Joi Pearson introduced us to her nifty, patented gadget the Joi Stik, the solution for hands free social live-streaming. Check her website out for more information!

Melanie Marie was the organizer for the event. I’ve followed her on social media for some time now and I admire the way that she brands herself throughout her platforms. Melanie owns her own jewelry boutique, blog, and manages her cutie pie daughter’s modeling career. When she posted about this event, I KNEW this was going to be something that I could benefit from. After meeting Melanie in person I can truly say that she was just as sweet as I’d thought she’d be. She put together an amazingly helpful event to connect working mama’s and help us gain some perspective on how to be the best that we can possibly be.

This was such an inspiring event. It was nice to see these businesswomen, in such a relatable light. I think a lot of times people look at the finished product or the social feed and idolize these lifestyles that we think are so picture perfect, when in reality it is just that, the picture is perfect. Behind the scenes are real women with real lives that run real businesses and also have real responsibilities.

(Here’s me, soaking in all the mompreneur goodness)

I also value the that we had so many prospectives on this panel. We heard from new moms with children that were just a few months old and also mom’s who had teenage, and even adult children. We heard from those who obtained masters degrees and those who never even finished school and how they built success on their own terms.

Now on to the food. Girl…the food. Let me just put a visual in your minds about this food. There were chicken and red velvet waffle skewers, 24-karat gold flaked glazed donuts, strawberry shortcake cupcakes, white chocolate covered strawberries, and she even had the chicken and waffles on the cupcakes ya’ll 😩🙌🏾. Although we had “light refreshments” I felt like I’d had a full meal, the way I was tearing those cupcakes up you would have thought I wasn’t supposed to be vegan (that’s another conversation for another time).

What was even more inspiring was the story behind the chef who created these delectable goodies. @theofficialai shared her story about her time in the military as a chef and being medically discharged. She too was a mompreneur, serving full time in the armed forces, while running her online boutique, chef’n up these baked goodies AND being an awesome mommy to her sons. Talk about a full plate! You can check her out on her instagram @theofficialai .

All in all I can honestly say that I really enjoyed this event and I am glad that I attended! I left SO inspired that I came home and immediately started working on content for the next month!

Follow the organizer @Melrwhite on instagram to stay updated on her MOMPRENEUR events!

Photo credit InDrewsShoes.com

Head Beauty In Charge: T-Kea Blackman

For this week’s #HBIC I had the pleasure of chatting it up with the poised & zealous T-Kea Blackman of NSpire! I just adore her not only for the constant work ethic that she puts into building her brand but I also admire her ability to always NSpire!

How did the idea for Nspire come about? 

I randomly thought, what if people had all of their PR, marketing, and communications needs in one spot and they wouldn’t have to go anywhere else to get anything done. I asked people if they would hire a company like that, and they said yes! I thought it was a great idea but I was worried about what I would call it. I knew that I wanted to focus on projects and events with social causes attached to them. Then I started to look at it from a production angle, since I had a background in production and now PR background, I thought wow, I really can combine these elements. Before it had a name it was just a way for me to bridge the gap between everything that I like doing PR, events, networking, marketing, and inspiring through social advocacy. When I pitched the name Nspire to my business partner I wasn’t really sure but she was like “That’s it! Don’t over think it.” You couldn’t even imagine how many names I’ve gone through and thinking back now I’m glad that I didn’t pick any of them!
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs? 
For one, I would say to make sure you surround yourself with people who believe in you. People who aren’t entrepreneurs won’t understand your way of thinking. Some people just want to get a 9-5, make their money, and depend on that job. Entrepreneurs don’t think that way so you also need to start surrounding yourself with like-minded people because you need a strong support system.  Secondly, I would say never stop learning. Always read, I don’t care what it is just continue to educate yourself. Allow mistakes and learn from them, just know that you are not going to get everything right on the first try.
What has been some (or one) of the biggest mistakes that you have made so far, and what have you learned from them?
Considering that I am still in the early stages I haven’t made too many mistakes. My business plan, I haven’t completed it. I’ve worked on it but I haven’t been able to say “it’s done”. It’s a roadmap to your success and it makes your life much easier. If you want investors, you definitely want to have that business plan done. They are going to want to know things like startup costs, marketing costs, and so on. That’s the only thing that I wished I finished sooner and not have it lingering over my head because now that business is picking up, it’s hard to find the time to sit and complete it.
Who has been some of your biggest supporters? 
My mom, my family, and especially my friends Destiny, Breann, Giona, Keeyah. I have a really big support system. These are people that I KNOW I could call in the middle of the night and they will come running to help me.

What is it that motivates you? 
First and foremost, I would have to say God, because God has given me the vision for Nspire. Second I would have to say is student loans! I do not want to be one of those people who are paying off student loans for the rest of my life.  Nspire is not going to be my only business or my only source of income so I do know how important it is for me lay the foundation and have it stand up on its own two feet. I want to have financial freedom. Third, is the fact that I have so many family members, siblings, and just people in general that look up to me, what would they do if I just stopped? I feel the pressure!
What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your non-work time? 
I like to hang out with friends, go to the gym, and I like going to the movies. I’m actually about to take myself to the movies tonight! I enjoy being around other people and it doesn’t take much for me to start a conversation with people. People call me the ‘networking queen’ because I’m always striking up conversation with strangers. Also, I like comedy clubs, laughing is one of my favorite things to do.
How do you handle stress? 

Oh my goodness, I’m actually a person that drowns in stress. I don’t manage stress well. How I am able to move forward? I just start spitting out scriptures to myself. I just have to remind myself of God’s promises. My favorite is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” It’s not over until it’s good. No matter how bad something may seem, it is always going to turn out fine.

Who has been your greatest inspiration/ role model? 

Cathy Hughes, I love me some Cathy Hughes! She is the creator is TVOne, RadioOne, and InteractiveOne. She started as an on air radio personality and from there she built multiple companies. She was a single parent mother sleeping on the floor of her radio station because she did not want her dream to die. Her story is one of perseverance and hard work. I admire her for that. She wanted to give everyday people a voice, spread awareness about issues in the community, and effect positive impact. I’ve been able to meet her on numerous occasions, once when I was debating on going into business for myself. She told me to go for it! She asked me “what are you waiting for” and told me that she would look me up one day because she knows that I will be something great. In that moment I said “T-Kea you have to do it.”


What can our readers expect from you in the next year? 
Next year, Nspire plans to have an inaugural event to celebrate our success. Expect to see our name more. We are going to be a part of a lot of upcoming events and campaigns throughout the next year. Trust me, you will know more about who we are and what our mission is because Nspire will be everywhere.


What makes Nspire different from any other PR company?

We are a strategic communications firm that is very clear about our mission. “Our mission is to create social change by bridging the gap between entertainment and philanthropy. To raise awareness of various social issues shift perceptions and ultimately change behaviors.” Whether we are working on an event or campaign; it will always have a positive impact. We help our clients leave their mark with a touch of “Nspiration.”


Thank you so much for Nspiring us, T-Kea! If you would like to follow along for tons of great pr tips you can follow NSpire on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter! You can also check out T-Kea’s feature in the Fall 2015 issue of Howard University’s Alumni Magazine.



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Be Your Own Boss: The Power of the To Do List (Free Download)

I have always been a “list kinda girl”. For as long as I can remember I literally found myself making a list for everything. No matter if it’s how I was going to compose a term paper or how I planned to spend my Sunday afternoon, I just NEEDED to jot it down on the nearest piece of paper I could find.

Without a detailed plan on what it is that needs to get done and when, I can easily end up procrastinating on everything or scrolling through Facebook all day.

Fast forward to 2015 me. Babies change everything. My life is super chaotic now and I’ve gotten a bit un-attached to my tried and true pen and paper. As a result I have become a much less organized person than I used to be and dare I say I’ve developed a f*ck-it attitude towards certain tasks.

I’ve tried to re-establish my listing relationship with sticky notes, however I failed to realized that little bright-colored sticky papers just might be one of the most appealing things ever to my little one. I’ve tried scrap pieces of paper and, well, apparently those aren’t very safe either (when did paper become more interesting than toys? go figure). Either way my “struggle-lists” seem to disappear, leaving me, yet again with nothing to help my productivity issue.

I figured that if I created a way to designate my to-do’s, a safe place to store them, and something pretty to look at while I’m working, I might just get some things done once and a while.

This free printable has everything you need from not only jotting down your to-do’s, but to prioritize those uber important tasks, appointments, daily routines, call & email reminders, meal planning and more! Plus not to mention it’s super chic (because I like pretty things).

Lists make the world go round. If your like me and searching for something to help pretty up your productivity here you go. If your not like me, try it out and watch how it works wonders for your life. You can thank me later.

#thepowerofthetodolist

Free download here

Enjoy!

Are there any areas that I forgot to cover with this list? Let me know what you think! 

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Be Your Own Boss: How To Start Your Own Business (and start making money)


In 2015 the idea of becoming your own boss is not uncommon. Going into business for your-self requires a huge responsibility! Take some time and really think about exactly what it is that you want to do.  Make sure it is something that you can (and want to) fully dedicate yourself to because believe me- that’s part of your new job description!
Step 1: Have An Idea. Believe In It.

·      Define the idea for your business.
o   Figure out if you want to offer a product or a service.
o   Is this something that you are passionate about?

·      Is there a need for this product/service?
o Is there a high demand for it?
o Is there a market for it?
o How does what you are selling differentiate from what is already available?

·      Do you have experience in this industry?
o Work history, certification, professional memberships, training, and education all position you as an expert, proving your qualifications in your industry.
o   If you don’t have any background in your industry, now is a good time to get some. The more experience you have the less mistakes you are likely to make.

Example: If you want to open and clothing boutique, try working part time at a clothing retailer to get a feel of how to do inventory, stockroom, tags, customer service, etc.
Step 2: Write Your Business Plan


Time to elaborate on your vision. A business plan is extremely important because it’s just that, your plan.  

You can use this Business Plan Template

When your plan is completely finished you should be able to answer the following questions:

o   What are your goals?
o   Company background and description?
o   What kind of products and services will you provide?
o   Who is your target market?
o   Competition?
o   How will you sell your products/ services?
o   What will be your business structure?
o   How much funding do you need?

Step 3: Create Brand Identity 

This is the fun part! Now it’s time to decide on things like your company’s name, colors, and logo. 

Get business branding essentials like business cards, labels, letterhead, and (or) stationary. I like to use affordable sites like Vistaprint or Staples because they frequently give out discount offers.
Step 4: Location, Location, and Location


Are you going to have a brick-and-mortar location or only operate online?

  • For storefronts and offices first determine how much space you will need and start scouting locations
  • For online businesses start with purchasing your domain name.  Get your first domain for $3.99 a year with Bluehost. Bluehost is a great hosting server because it is SO user friendly!
  • Typically web designers can charge anywhere from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars for a custom website. As a new start up with little to no money it may be a better option for you to use an online platform with customizable templates. Some fan favorites are BigCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, and (for the really advanced) WordPress.
  • Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon are also great platforms if your only interested in selling your items without the hassle of designing your own site.


Step 5: Establish an Online Presence


In this day and age your online presence is crucial to growing your business.

Whether your selling music, services, soap, or clothing in a boutique your company needs a website. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but at least have a landing page with information about your company and how to contact you.

Social media is another one of those things that is crucial to your business in 2016. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube are a few social media platforms that can help market and grow your business.

Step 6: Assess Your Resources


Every business needs resources. You need to build a team that’s going to help you get your business off the ground and running, think about who you know that can help you in anyway and reach out to them.

If you are selling a product, think about what vendors you will need to produce, package, and ship your items.

If you are offering a service, dig deep into your phonebook and think of who may could be potential clients

Step 7: Get Licensed


This is a VERY important step to make sure that you are doing legitimate business.

You could incorporate your business as Corporation, Limited Liability Corporation, Partnership, or Sole Proprietorship.

Know the laws and follow them. Taxes are nothing to play with. If you have the funding, hire an accountant and a lawyer. If not, do your research and document EVERYTHING. 

It is a good idea to look into insurance, which can really protect you in the event of an emergency, especially if you have a physical location.

Step 8: Develop a Marketing Plan


Decide how you are going to tell people about your business. This all really depends on your target market.

If your marketing your resume writing service you may want to market to the unemployed or to college students, or both. Some strategies in your marketing plan may include handing out flyers to students on campus or offering a free interview workshop at the local community center.

Step 9: Figure Out Financing

You should probably have a good idea of how much your overhead and startup costs will be by now, time to decide how you are going to pay for it all.

Are you going to try to find investors? Do you have money saved? Are you going to do a fundraiser?

Making sure you have enough to cover at least your startup and overhead costs is crucial BEFORE you open your doors.

Step 10: Go Live and Make Money!

Now that you have taken all the necessary steps to build a solid foundation for your business out your plan into action! Running your own business won’t be easy but then neither is anything worth having!

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