I Ain’t Mad- Why I am giving Shea Moisture the benefit of the doubt

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I’m a black woman with an internet connection so I heard about the Shea Moisture ad debacle. In case you haven’t heard, let me give you a brief synopsis. For black women hair is the biggest of deals. Mainly of us are pressured by our families, employers and romantic partners to straighten our hair. In the last decade with the help of online communities there has been a resurgence of black women backing away from dangerous chemicals and expensive weaves and embracing their natural hair.  During this movement Black owned  companies have emerged to support the unique needs of natural black hair. These companies have strong cult followings. One of those companies is Shea Moisture.

With their new campaign, many black women felt that Shea Moisture was trying to act brand new. No longer reppin’ the girls that helped them build their business, the new commercials featured 2 white women and light skin black woman with bouncy ringlets. All the women were beautiful,  no shade.  But this reminded me of those commercials from the 90’s that made  me ashamed of my tightly coiled hair. I didn’t look like the ethnically ambiguous girl in the Pantene commercial who proclaimed that her hair was so healthy it shined.

 

 

I’m grown now. I am confident and filled with self love.  I like my hair in twist, afros, weaves, braids and flat ironed to Michelle Obama perfection, but I get understand the sting. Many times black women feel like we get trends poppin’ but don’t reap the benefits. Creatives and capitalists use our support as fuel to fly far away and never return. It kind of looked like Shea Moisture was doing the same.

I believe something else though. As an black entrepreneur I want Shea Moisture to win BIG. I want them battle to Unilever and Procter & Gamble. Ten years from now I want them to be a titan that can invest in their customers as they develop new ideas. I want a black owned deodorant company and a black owned contact solution company and a black owned nail polish  all at Walgreen’s. We aren’t going to get there without companies like Shea Moisture. So after we snatching edges with shade on Twitter, let’s snatch some market share. I am excited to watch their beauty company grow. It helps me to my open my mind  on where my company can go.

 

New York State of Mind

I had a crazy weekend! I went to New York for a little work and play. I will make another post detailing what I learned about sourcing in New York soon. Right now I want to reflect on my free time in the city.

I stayed in an AirBnb in the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York, during the trip. While the subway trips to Manhattan were long, it gave me an opportunity to explore New York’s second largest borough. As a kid I definitely romanticized the hometown of my favorite rappers, but it had more depth then I imagined. Brooklyn is basically a city on its own. It  has nicer and rougher neighborhoods, shopping, museums, families, parks, singles, bars, an oddly large quantity of churches, public housing projects and beautiful historic brownstones. I don’t think you could call this place one definitive thing, other than stimulating. Brooklyn is not boring.  I met up with a childhood friend and he showed me the sights in Fort Greene, which he taught me was an actual fort during the revolutionary war. I shared with him  my teenage dream of going to FIT, working for BabyPhat and owning one of those iconic brownstones the neighborhood. Refocusing on those old goals help to remember my  reason for building my business.

Another experience that helped change my perspective was attending Spike Lee’s Bk loves MJ block party. The city honored him by naming the block where he shot “Do the Right Thing” after the film. For the last 6 years he has been throwing a Michael Jackson themed block party to celebrate Jackson’s birthday. Dancing in the street with beautiful Brooklynites as Sway Calloway and Spike Lee  joked on stage was awesome! And more importantly it didn’t happen overnight. 27 years ago Spike released the controversial film on a small budget. Today he can use his business and celebrity to bring joy to his neighborhood. The shit is going to take the time that it takes. When your done you can dance in the sun to “ Rock With You”. Hell, I would even advise dance breaks at the beginning and middle of the journey as well, but always remember that it is a journey. It might take a couple decades to be an icon.

Lastly the intoxicating cultural experience known as Afropunk. I bought tickets to the two day festival at Commodore Barry park and it was money well spent! Afropunk is  black, indie, inclusive, and creative. The loving vibes and amazing talent displayed gave me life. Below are some of the beautiful souls I met. If you see yourself pictured email me so that I can link to your work, Instagram, SoundCloud, whatever. Peace Brooklyn. Thank you!

 

When Life Gives You Lemons, LEMONADE, PTO and Dope LadyArtist friends……

beyonce

(photocredit : Frank Micelotta/Parkwood Entertainment)

Rebellious self care is constant work. I usually tell myself that I shouldn’t indulge in an activity because there is work to be done. And when I see an amazing opportunity that I want to be a part of, I beat myself up by thinking of all the things I should have done to be ready for that opportunity.
Well, that doesn’t work. I just feel bad. I don’t move forward.

Nowadays I try to keep things balanced. I stay focused on my grind and work hard, but I also fit in fun. I have been finding that the fun is replenishing my spirit in new ways. Not only am I happier, but I am super inspired as well.

Went to the album release party for SassyBlack‘s solo project. DOPE! Besides being motivated by her creative progression, I ran into a plethora of amazing women that I don’t see often enough.
Then I attended  the Formation Tour with my bestie, sister, the majority of my high school, all the women at my day job and half the black women in my county. No, we did not all have seats together, but we were certainly in attendance. The night was amazing!  The homie saw DJ Khaled! There were flames, and fireworks and confetti (not made from the teeth of side chicks)! Don’t take my word for it. Check my snaps:

 

Always inspired by Beyonce’s professionalism and work ethic, I was in awe by her joy. On stage wasn’t just woman at the top of her field, in full control of her career. We got to see the dreams of a little girl brought to fruition. You could tell she was having fun and enjoying the performance just as much as any fan in that stadium.

Picking up on that joy I was filled with the desire to create it in someone else.  I want to make someone’s favorite something! Knowing that I could create something to trigger emotion in someone else has been my dream since day one. The tour made me me long for it even more.

I learned what dilettantes are: I don’t like them

I heard the word Dilettante, and realized I didn’t know what it meant. While listening to River of Tears,  I looked up the definition.

 “A person who cultivates an interest such as the arts without real commitment or knowledge.”

This definition gave me such comfort. Since my teen years I would get livid with girls playing fashion. The pretty ones who just wanted to get dressed. The silly ones who thought this life was Project Runway. I would feel  insulted by  those who saw me as one of those girls. They would  ask how I could make money in this industry. They would tell me I was dumb for dreaming of FIT and Parson’s. They thought my analysis of fashion week was shallow. It feels good to have a real word to communicate who I am not.

I aspire to be a producer not a consumer.

This is not a hobby.

Yes, I have a passion for fashion, but nothing about it is shallow or cliche.

This passion means more than calluses from designer shoes. It has been tetanus shots after falling asleep at a sewing machine and having the needle zip through my nail and lodge itself in my finger. It has been sobbing on the kitchen floor after negotiating with my building manager because my photoshoot cannibalized my rent money.  This passion carried 25 yards of soft shell on my back through the streets of Portland. It filled my belly and energized my body the summer I subsisted on Ramen and .49 cent cheeseburgers so that I could pay for my overpriced design school. I can’t count the times I pulled it together, abracadabra-ed the most hopeless situation with this passion.

Maybe as many times as I have felt breathless when viewing couture; acheing to touch it and understand how to  make something so beautiful.

I think that’s what love is.

To have that love, that comes from the purest, realest oldest part of who I am reduced to folly infuriates me.

Forgive me for sinking deep in my feelings. Blame this Alessia Cara song. Blame the hot headed honesty I’ve inherited. Or not. It is what it is. I rather be that girl: angry, crazy, hungry, bleeding, laughing, than be anyone else. Cuz if I’m her then, when I’m gone, you’ll know that I’m done. That I gave it all, and did my best. My mom always said she didn’t care if I got A’s in school as long as I did my best. So if I am a F student because my job isn’t at a desk and doesn’t require  a ph’d,  I will still feel honor roll accomplishment. Because with this passion, I do my best.