Saturday, July 29, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Beauty

Your Best Beauty...Because Ingredients Matter--

Over the last couple years, I have found myself being more and more conscious of the ingredients I not only ingest, but also apply to my skin and hair.  I need to know what's in these bottles.  What does this stuff do?  

Many brands have started forcing the issue of ingredients, even centering their marketing and promotion around them. You've heard them..."Argan Oil-infused... Coconut Oil...Vitamin E extract...".  It goes on.  Certainly there wasn't the same enthusiasm about essential oils and vitamins--even just 5 years ago.  Large brands, like L'Oreal, Unilever, and Proctor & Gamble have latched onto the trend, but independent brands have really been trailblazers.

Independent brands have made it their business--literally--to highlight ingredients and their contributions to the product.  Taking a look at the labels, you see (in order of amount) more ingredients with names you can pronounce and hear regularly.  Not only are the unheard of compounds  less dominant, the oils and vitamins promise more benefits than just preservation.  They get specific.   

As I began to make it more of a priority to buy shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, and other products with healthy ingredients, I also took to some research on what the other components were. The Environmental Working Group has a plethora of information. I started comparing compounds other site to what I saw on bottles.  In addition to highlighting what's in the products, we're starting to see a lot of what has been excluded.  What'd they take out?  Why?  Why was it in there to begin with?  Much of this research led me to learn more about sulfates and parabens, which help emulsify and foam, and serve and preservatives, respectively.  Hmmm...don't I still need foam?  Do I really want this product to last for 5 years?  Do I even need that?

Sulfates are overly drying to the hair, and parabens...well they've been linked to health risks.  The levels have been low,  but enough for them to be widely removed from popular products where they were once mainstays. 


One of the most common (and most safe) compounds you'll see is cetearyl alcohol.  This one is used to emulsify/foam, and has a low hazard rate.  It's similar to stearyl alcohol--both pretty safe, despite the "alcohol" in their names.  On the other end, benzalkonium chloride, a fairly common preservative has been associated with skin irritations and allergies.  The risk here is a bit high, and it is even restricted in some countries.  There are some compounds we need for good reason.  Others, we need to keep away from.  

Many of the most common compounds used, at one time, revolutionized the beauty industry.  They allowed for products to stay in tact over long shipments, keep a long shelf life for inventory availability, and be there whenever consumers needed them--no wait.  

But what independent brands have given us, in addition to a bit of a wait for their heart-to-hand products, is a some self-regulation.  Because there are just 30 substances banned by the FDA for use in beauty products (compared to over 1500 in Europe), we are left to a little trial and error in what works, what harms, and what needs to be celebrated in its removal after 40+ years of use.  Indies are taking charge and using natural ingredients, paired with little to no compounds, carefully curating products often free of preservatives.  If it's carefully curated, just for me (in my heart), there's no need to a long shelf life.  


Hearing which ingredients are in your most needed products and knowing what they do creates an important experience for consumers.  "This will keep my skin soft."  "This will reduce inflammation."  "This will slow aging." That messaging goes a long way, especially when some of those same ingredients can be found in our kitchens and even used for other things.  Clearly coconut oil and apple cider vinegar are staples beyond the kitchen, and solve almost everything known to man.  

Are you watching your labels?



For some of our Ingredient-Infused faves, check out these brands:
TGIN (Thank God It's Natural)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Empowers

Hello June!

Yes, today is already the 3rd day of June, and 2017 seems to be moving along pretty quickly.  My great-grandmother once told me "after 20, those birthdays start moving really fast".  Boy was she right.  Years are going by rapidly, so taking some time to reflect and refresh is very important.  

As a way to reflect on the year thus far, and prepare for the back half, we're sharing these June Journal Prompts--shared with us by creative curator, Tonisha from T_Happy Place. The purpose is to get your thoughts and ambitions flowing for the rest of what this amazing year will be.  Sorry we're a couple days late, but hey, take today to catch up and really get your brain working.

Reflect with us. 

Happy Writing!
---

Biblically the number 6 represents man, the day man was created, and the month of Father’s day is in the month of June.  The direction of creation and man is what lead to this month’s prompts.

1. What are 6 goals you want to complete this month?
2. What is something that happened to you today that made you smile?
3. What is the first memory you have of your dad?
4. If you had to pick up and move right now, where would you go and why?
5. Who is your favorite singer?  Write a line from your favorite song of theirs.
6. What is something that you can work on that will make you better?
7. What is a moment in your life you would do over if you could?  How and Why?
8. What are you thankful for today?
9. Think of someone to say a prayer for.  Write a prayer on their behalf.
10. What was the most important lesson you learned this week?
11. What is your favorite dance song?  Put that song on and dance your way to a clear mind.
12. What is your favorite part of your morning routine?
13. What does having faith mean to you?
14. What was the most inspirational thing you heard/saw today?
15. Who is someone in your life that you need to make more time to spend with them?
16. What was your favorite childhood movie and why?
17. “A determined person is the most feared and the most powerful individual” What does that quote mean to you?
18. Write about the male parental figure in your life.  How did they help shape you into the person you are?
19. What do you remember about your dreams from last night?  How does that make you feel?
20. Think about your day, what are 6 good things that happened to you today?
21. What is something that you want to do in your career that is on your bucket list?
22. If you were to have a son, what would you name him and why?
23. What is a cause that is near to your heart?  How are you supporting it?
24. What is something that brings you peace?
25. Look out your window, what do you see?  What does that inspire you to do?
26. What’s the name of your first boyfriend?  Write about him.
27. What do you admire most about the person you work for?
28. Write a letter to them releasing any hurt that you feel.  
29. Which of your talents can you turn into a side hustle?
30. Think back to the 6 goals you set at the beginning of the month, how many of them did you accomplish?



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Spotlights

Naturally You Book!

A few weeks ago I scrolled past this captivating book cover on Instagram.  I stopped to see what it was and clicked on the link.  What I came upon was Naturally You: A Hair Journal for the Curly, Kinky, & Coily.  I was immediately intrigued.  I scrolled through the website, remarked on "how cool" this was, and immediately purchased 2 books for natural friends.  Once they'd shipped, I got a personal note to make sure I received them and was on my way to enjoying.  Wow.  This is marvelous.  



*Disclaimer.  I am not natural.  My hair is relaxed, however I am a hair health enthusiast, and stop at nothing short of keeping these tresses as happy as possible.  This sentiment is just one piece of what I later learned...

This past Sunday, I got the empowering pleasure of starting my day with Mrs. Layla Bryant, author of Naturally You.  It was not only refreshing to chat with her, but she enlightened me on what it took to put this masterpiece together.  

The Inception:
Of course the first thing I wanted to know was what inspired her to write a book. She told me she's "been natural for about 15 years. It was before it became 'a thing, a revolution--a movement'.  I was getting scalp burns from relaxer.  In all that time, it hadn't been a thing to be natural and healthy. Today, it's a different ballgame to have bloggers and stylists committing to keeping natural and all hair healthy--relaxing less, putting an emphasis on healthy hair."  So true. With the internet being a wealth of any and every kind of information, it's so much easier to work through getting and keeping healthy hair.  We have too much knowledge these days not to. 

Layla said she cut her hair one day--with regular scissors--starting her natural journey.  As she continued contemplating writing this book and how, she realized, "what's out there is mostly how-to books, but there's lots of side conversations about being relaxed v. natural." The side conversations have taken on their own life, as a matter of fact.  She saw this book as a means for continuing those conversations..."What does your texture mean?"  "What if you don't like your curl pattern? The politics, natural hair in the office...I wanted to give people a path to discuss hair.  Give them the questions to make them go beyond the steps of hair care--past everything visible about the hair.  What about women who cover their hair?  With so many things to think about... what if you don't have the 'optimal curl'?  And who decides what that is?  How?"  With so many questions, Layla was well on her way to compiling more than a journal, but a conversation grabber.   

I wanted to know more about how she put together the pieces of Naturally You.  Layla said she started with all those questions (and more) and went from there. "I talked to people about it, and put the discussions I was having down on paper. I broke down the different topics of hair-- hair care, business of hair and products, hair at work... I expect there's a fair amount of people who won't even write in it, but will see it as a coffee table book.  It could be a conversation piece amongst girlfriends."  

Ladies, we all know we've had these discussions.  This book will help us take them to the next level.  

Hair Talk
I was curious as to the group whom surprised her the most in loving the book.  She said it was teenagers!  "They love the look of it, and probably will write in it. It gives them a lot to think about and reflect on.  The book gives them the chance to have these conversations amongst each other.  Everyone else is having the conversation with them--media, videos, Hollywood, etc.  The book will have the conversation with them adults close to them may not."  Layla hopes Naturally You encourages them to consider business, product creation, independent thinking, self-love and more.  She hopes it will open their minds beyond the pressures they see on social media.  

I then asked for her thoughts on what the natural hair movement means beyond hair and products.  She reigned in on a very key point, "For people who study the history of black people and hair, it's in our DNA for hair and hair styles to have certain meanings. It transforms in so many ways to set us apart.  When there's a movement, our hair goes with it--afros, dreadlocks, braids, whatever.  Think about Colin Kaepernick--as he became more of an activist, it seems like his fro got bigger.  Our hair makes our point with us."  That's so real!  

As we continued to chat, I wondered, in all her research how she defined "natural".  She said she always hesitates to define "natural", but terms it more as "natural for me". "Natural is a lot of things to a lot of people. Hearing different debates, some have even said adding color no longer makes the hair natural. It creates the further debates of what natural really means, and how. 'Is natural a spectrum, or an either/or?'  I see it as trying to achieve your healthiest hair without changing the composition." 

With so many discussions going on around hair and beauty today, it was important to know what Layla thought about what her book does for these discussions and hair care in action.  So eloquently put, she noted how today's beauty world really pushes for inclusion.  "In the world today, we are doing our best to embrace everything.  It's all inclusive or nothing. I appreciate all of these blogs and bloggers showing people how to care for their hair and showing them how to love what they have.  I think the hair type discussions are important to help people realize what works for them and what doesn't.  We need to have resources for people with every curl pattern.  We, as a people, span in so many ways-- hair care, body types, skin tones, everything."  

Wait, what about natural?
With natural hair having such a stronghold in our social construct today, there are obviously misconceptions.  Layla shared some of the most common as believing you have to go natural at all and what that experience will be like. "There's a lot of pressure right now on women who are relaxed to go natural. It's like telling people who decide to get locks--something so permanent. I encourage others to use resources to make the decision.  I believe it is a very personal decision.  It's not easy. It really is a journey and takes mental fortitude to get to where you want to go."

"It's easy to think 'going natural, your hair will look like _____.' You never know.  You do have to go through different products to see what works for you.  Manage your expectations.  That's the beauty of our hair.  You can do different things.  It's flexible. You can't have any expectations.  It's an exploratory process.  Go in with an open mind v. seeing others go natural and think it's what you should expect.

This is definitely a sentiment we didn't have on natural hair 20, even just 10, years ago.  The time we're in now is remarkable.  

Not being natural, her words were encouraging. Layla assured, "there's things in the book that apply to everyone, regardless of what state your hair is in. The hair is like an arm almost. It's its own part of you. It reflects who you are, your mood, etc. Many women take their hair through every state you can imagine throughout their life."  It's our privilege, no?

What do people think?
I know how magnificent I think the book is, but I had to ask about the varied feedback she's gotten.  "I've gotten amazing feedback.  I've learned some things in creating a product and marketing.  Everyone loves the cover, but people were tripped up on the word 'journal'.  Some thought it was blank.  After spending a little time with it, people say 'This is awesome', 'This is really cool', 'I hadn't thought about that', 'Ooo, I need to get this for my girl'.

As I suspected, Layla defined the book as "yours".  "What you do with it is what's going to make it awesome.  It's just to get you started."   

After working very hard to finalize the book, just before having a baby, mind you, it was published just over a year ago. In the time since, she's pushed hard to engage as much as possible, learning a lot about marketing and promotions in the process. She even came across a hair show in Texas called "Naturally You", and like all empowered women do, they worked together to promote.   

Next Steps...
So what's next for her Naturally You movement?  Layla attended the Natural Hair Show in Atlanta last weekend, and networked with products gurus and other natural hair enthusiasts.  She plans to "focus is blogs and bloggers, who are doing the job of sharing with people. I believe we've put together a good product and are working to find ways to get it to people to help tell my story that way."  As she continues, she plans to be more directed at youth, and after hearing feedback from teenagers, that's definitely a good move.  

Like others taking part in the everyday Wonder Woman Movement, wearing her cape and crown effortlessly, Layla keeps in mind how her work will reflect to her children.  
"There's a part of life you want to keep for yourself so kids can see you doing other things, and doing things for yourself--more than just a 9-5, and more than just being their mom.  You have to live in a way that inspires them and do things that matter to them. Use the rat race to get to another level of living--appreciate so much more--engaging with people, spending time with yourself. Know there's so much more to life to experience and achieve." 

She mentioned her mom shared a clip of Denzel saying he "was happy he was successful because of his talent, not partying with the right people, or giving in to trends." He just kept plugging away at it and now he's "a 20-year overnight success." There's never a disadvantage to working hard and doing the right thing.  Layla's goal is to sell hundreds of thousands of copies--because hundreds of thousands of women would want a gift like this.  I know a few friends who did.  And a few more who were added to that list by the end of our chat.  

When not wearing her author hat, Layla works as a Project Manager doing software implementation.  She lives in Atlanta with her husband and 3 children.  Wonder Woman Movement. Cape. Crown.  




We ended our Sunday morning chat with talking about how important it is, especially in today's social climate, to love yourself and constantly improve yourself.  With so many things telling you you aren't enough, you must push to keep reminding yourself to do and learn more.  She said she doesn't know that this book will change the world, but it will show our hair is more than just strands.   

I think it will change the world.



-----
Check Layla and Naturally You out on social media and order your copy now!

Monday, April 24, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Cares

My Favorite Outfit - Fashion with a Purpose!

We are always excited about fashion as a means for changing the world, beyond trendy looks and bottom lines.  Just last week, we learned about a Chicago organization doing just that--using fashion to make a difference in the lives of young girls.  











My Favorite Outfit (MFO) uses fashion to empower at-risk girls through self-esteem building, mentoring, and skills-based learning to help them succeed in middle school, high school, college and beyond. While blazing their trail in Chicago, MFO will soon be expanding to Los Angeles!

                           
Stepping on the stage in 2014, MFO has used in-school workshops in Chicago's underserved communities to educate girls on how clothing and self-esteem intersect. Now, MFO is expanding upon our 27-school partnership in Chicago and bringing our pop-up workshops to Los Angeles for the 2017/2018 school year. 

California has the highest percentage of low-income students in the country and the achievement gap rate for these students is startling. In order to help close this gap, there needs to be a change.  MFO is more than fit to help positively change the statistic--one girl at a time.

The Advisory Board created a crowd funding page to help raise money for the west coast expansion. Just $35 provides one student with the opportunity to participate in a pop-up workshop. A donation of $1,000 will sponsor an entire school for a semester. These funds will pay for course materials, clothing for the students to shop from, and the chance to give a young girl personalized learning and the attention to make her feel loved, cared for, and worth it. 


This organization is using a fun passion to change lives.  Changing the lives of the young women they touch will help these young women do the same for those coming up behind them. The empowering (and fashionable) cycle will continue.  

Check our this video to help you learn a little more about the organization. 



Don't forget to donate!

Thanks to our Fashion Friend Christian McKenzie for putting this organization on our radar.  We're excited to get connected!




Friday, March 24, 2017

Womens' History Month






The Business woman taking charge





This morning, I attended a panel discussion with women entrepreneurs, titled Woman-ing Up. There were four speakers: a cosmetic chemist, a blogger, a family counsel, and a personal mentor of mine who is an intellectual property attorney. In honor this being Women’s History Month, I would like to say “congratulations” to all who stepped out there, swallowed their fears, and made their dreams happen. To the artist, fashion designer, associate, blue collar or nine to five worker who is scared to move forward and is clinging to the career you hate, that guaranteed the bills are paid, now is the time to gather your blueprint. I hope this blog inspires you, as the panel did me.


Q: When the women were asked, ‘What kind of challenges do women entrepreneurs face’, they answered- “We underprice ourselves and place boundaries on our gender. As a woman, you must have that confidence like a man and KNOW what you bring to the table. We need to overcome the labels that make us afraid to lead; we must be a "hard ass" to grow.  Also, remember self-care is very important. Please understand, you must make sure you are important to yourself and take time to take care of you. Lastly, find a balance and do not develop bad habits that will haunt you later-on down the line.”


Specifically, they mentioned two challenges of being a woman of color:, i) Money.  People do not want to fund women of color. “We must be twice as good to get twice as far”. Finding the dollars to get people to invest in your dream isn't easy. ii) We feel like we must do everything on our own, but as a woman look inside your circle for your strengths. There are several individual whom you already know are experts in area that you will need help or advice. When building your dream, have the courage to reach out.



Q: What were some of your fears when starting out?
The fear of leaving the guaranteed check. You must know that your preparation will meet your transition one day. Take that leap of faith and know that you must i) work hard and ii) get out there to get paid and the contracts you need. Get over the fear of making the necessary investments. You have to spend money on getting better at your career and invest in the business. You also need to make it clear what is an expense versus what is an investment. Additionally, project changes going forward and map out what you will can “predict” about the future. Here, predict is in quotes, because sometimes no matter how well you plan, you will get a wrench thrown in your plans. No one has a perfect plan.



Q: What are three tools that will be helpful in merging an entrepreneur’s  journey?                 1. There is no point in trying to figure everything out on your own you know or have experts that you can go to. It is all about building a solid team. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Therefore, do not focus on making the money but focus on the value; you are then able to help people better understand the price point of the service you are providing.

                2. For those who are new -just do it. Do not allow some else who did not have fear, put the very same idea out before you. The last thing you want to do in 2018 is look around and see someone is making money off the very concept you thought of two year ago, but never moved forward with. 

                3. It is lonely at the top. Get around a support system that understands you, people that want to see you grow create positive energy. Your team does not have to be doing the same thing as you, so long as they understand that some Fridays you might have to say no to hanging out. They will understand that you are building your brand. Furthermore, realize if you truly want to grow your business, you will have to sit out on some of the girls’ nights. There is nothing wrong with taking some nights to invest in growth.
Q: Transition or “big chop”-
For those who do not understand this reference, this is referring to the period a woman goes through when transiting from using straightening chemicals on her hair to allow her hair to grow in its natural texture. Some women choose to allow chemicals to grow out slowly, while other do the “big Chop”, and cut the chemical out their hair. Everyone is different.


If you wake up tomorrow morning and you were doing what you wanted to do what does that look like. Do you need to take time to flush out your ideas? However you decide to get started be very strategic about how you do it. Take comfort knowing that wherever it is that you are right now you will not always be there. Sow the seeds that need to be planted for your future and watch then bud. Apple trees do not produce apple overnight. Think about your business long-term and see what those steps are. Therefore, i) plan well; ii) set the deadline; iii) be ready to trust you.

I hope this has inspired someone reading to “Woman Up”. Special shout out to the mommies; you rock Superwoman! Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Take advantage of those around you. Sync your calendar with your husband’s, siblings’ or in-laws’, for a guaranteed sitter to give you quiet time to work. 

Remember ladies, you will to get through the pitfalls.  If on your journey you get discouraged and hit a rut, fall in love with your business again. Pencil in the things in your calendar that keep you motivated. 

I’ll leave you with this thought, a big part of woman-ing up is patting yourself on the back and knowing when you did a good job.


Until next time...




Resources

17hats.com- business resources

Patrice N. Perkins- business formations, Intellectual property law
pperkins@creativegeniuslaw.com
312-528-9259

Rebecca Daily Wooley- social media consultant
312-264-9286
rebecca@brandsgetsocial.com 
www.brandsgetsocial.com

Chantelle L. Bittings- life enrichment counseling services
10540 s. Western, Suite 504
Chicago, IL 60643

Elle Davis - Co-founder
Mid South Business Association & Resource Center


Thursday, March 23, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

SCOTUS Changes Fashion Law Forever--

Until now, no case hailing from the niche of fashion law had stepped onto the U.S. Supreme Court stage.  A decision this week has changed that.

The Star Athletica v. Varsity Brand case has become a trailblazer for copyright in the fashion industry. Just yesterday, the SCOTUS found decorative items--specifically those common on cheerleading uniforms--to be protectable under copyright law.  This ruling is contrary to years of cases in lower courts, where opinions have continuously determined decorative elements of clothing were inseparable from the garments themselves.   

In the only apparel-related case to ever come across the docket, the Supreme Court made a determination which could change the fashion industry forever.   Law360 noted, "The question before the justices was how courts should decide when such “separability” exists, an issue that has split lower courts. Fashion companies pushed for a looser approach that would allow them to protect more apparel with copyrights; consumer advocates called for a tighter approach, meaning less protection and more competition."

The fashion companies won. 

With this ruling, designers now have a gateway to protecting the artistic elements of their designs, and drawing a long-awaited distinction between their unique work, and a useful item (clothing).  Surely this case will set the stage for more litigation, as designers will have firm ground to stand on when exercising their vigilance in protecting their work. It may also set the stage for shocking the conscious of the counterfeit market. 


This has been quite the fight for those of us knee-deep in the fashion law industry.  What will fashion law conquer next?



Monday, March 20, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Fix

What's Happening With Handbags?!

Over the last 2 years, the handbag market has seen its share of struggles.  Brands like Coach and Michael Kors have opened new store after new store, more outlet shops, and even lowered some of their prices.  This sounds good.  Having the numbers to grow your brick and mortar presence is always a good thing.  Or is it?

Alone, growing in brick and mortar is good, but the handbag market suffered a bit last year, growing just around 2%.  Sure, that's hard to see as a struggle in a $9.3billion industry, but best believe, the brands are feeling it.  Some of the reason for the shift is discounting and brand saturation.  Other contributors are the trends toward specialty bags--whether it be a collaboration between Kerry Washington and Aquatalia, or a cause-focused bag focused on an important social issue.  Consumers are increasingly enjoying putting their money behind a cause, and getting style as an added bonus.  



It's hard to think handbags would go out of style.  It really is quite unlikely.  But, like everything else, there are industry ups and downs.  With the rise in e-commerce, retail is experiencing a shift away from traditional shopping.  Marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy are providing challenging circumstances for shopping mall staples like Macy's, Wet Seal, and The Limited.  Now they've had some real struggles!  

Surely in readjusting their prices, and being conscious about bag placement, luxury designers will rebound from this slump they've seen recently.  The question is, how will e-commerce and the "app age" play into their future success?  Marketing gurus certainly have a challenge on their hands.  Retail execs, too.


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