These days being a busy working woman is just what one does. If you examine your tribes, virtually and in real life, you’ll notice your women-friends fulfilling their destinies, making life altering decisions, and traveling, usually while being someone’s mom, wife, girlfriend, daughter, or confidant. Her calendar is filled with so many obligations that she often wonders how she’ll get them done and what she’ll wear while doing them. We’re still fine tuning the mythical creature known as the work-life balance so we may not have all the answers on managing that lively aspect just yet. However, there’s one thing we can put you onto and that’s an amazing company called prAna.
prAna is a clothing company with a mission to inspire healthy, active, and free-spirited living. They create versatile, stylish, and sustainable clothing and accessories that you can wear during every activity, every adventure, every day. prAna’s designs are based on their creator’s own experiences as yogis, climbers, and world travelers. They use their knowledge to make clothes that look good and play hard.
“We like to focus on the detailsand aren’t afraid to go bold when it comes to colors and whimsical patterns. We love to combine classic style with modern materials, ever mindful of where and how our creations are made.” – prAna
In a recent campaign, a group of our influencers was sent clothing items made of organic cotton or hemp, in which many also use recycled materials. Maintaining planet friendly products is important to prAna (and us) and with one comfortable, stylish top or pair of pants at a time, they’re making this feat accessible to all. prAna’s “from city streets to mountain peaks” clothing is created to be fashionable, comfortable and versatile.
While prAna clothing is made to accommodate any adventure, the items are first and foremost mindfully made in order to support fair trade and sustainable practices. prAna actually has only one core belief, and that is to give back more than we take from the world.
Can you imagine your wardrobe being one less thing to worry about in your already busy life? Yesterday that might have sounded bizarre but today you can find assurance in knowing that it can actually be done. prAna has cute styles for traveling, yoga, climbing, swimwear, and activewear. (You’ll find extras like bra tops, dresses, and skirts on their website, too.) The best part about supporting this company is knowing that your purchase will make a difference in someone’s life and for our planet.
We can’t wait to put our prAna clothing and accessories to the test. You can, too. Use code S17BL for 15% off your purchase when you visit www.prana.com. Click on hashtag #myprAna on social media to see how other busy working women are simplifying their lives and wardrobes while prioritizing self-care with prAna.
Which item do you envision yourself wearing while running errands?
We’re so excited to announce that Myleik Teele is coming to Miami!!
She’s inviting you inside her world to talk business, personal branding, and women’s empowerment! This self-made businesswoman and #MyTaughtYou podcast creator (can you say 2 million downloads in 2016??) will be in the house for a keynote spotlight Q&A at Blogalicious 2017. Tweek Myleik Teele at @Myleik and let her know that we can’t wait to see to her!
An astute businesswoman who unapologetically pursues excellence in all she does, Myleik Teele is the
founder and Chief Experience Officer of curlBOX, the first monthly subscription service for naturally curly
hair. Through her notable career as a public relations executive, Myleik’s ability to instinctively identify
and market popular trends to the masses, garnered her opportunities to work with brands such as Calvin
Klein Cosmetics, The Grammy Awards, Nike, and a stellar roster of clients across the entertainment, tech,
and beauty industries.
Since the launch of curlBOX in 2011, L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Target, Walmart, and
SheaMoisture is a short list of brands that have trusted Myleik’s vision of making the lives of black women
easier by providing them with the high-quality selection of products they deserve.
A teacher at heart, her wildly popular, #MyTaughtYou podcast has become her global classroom where
women from all walks of life tune in for guidance and a healthy dose of motivation to live life on their own
terms. In 2016, #MyTaughtYou saw over 2 million downloads and the listenership continues to grow.
Based in Atlanta, GA, Myleik Teele is a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it.
She regularly gives inspiring talks around the country centered around business, personal branding, and
women’s empowerment. When she’s not working on building her empire, you can find her exploring the
world through travel, hidden behind the pages of a good book, or nurturing her future sommelier
The season finale of Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta is finally here! The cast members have taken us on quite the journey as they’ve navigated young adulthood, sexuality, family drama, and life in the spotlight. From beginning to the impending end, we can agree that this show has kept us entertained and wanting more. The #GUHHATL hashtag has trended every Thursday night for the duration of the show and we can certainly thank our bloggers and influencers for their contribution to that number.
Several weeks ago, we did a preliminary roundup of blog posts from our Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta campaign. A few adjectives to describe the commentary are insightful, thoughtful, and downright hilarious! Today, we’re here for a final roundup of new submissions and POVs from our brilliant crew. And when you reach the bottom of this post, you’ll find a sneak peek at tonight’s season finale!
“This situation keeps getting out of hand and all Reginae wants is an apology. Brandon is holding on to his pride, meanwhile, everyone including his mom, Deb Atney, tells him to LET IT GO!! At 26 why does he keep arguing with Reginae? Ms. Deb is constantly telling him to think smarter. She knows that this can be career ending for him. Did I mention that part of the problem is that no one knows exactly what he does and/or who he is?”
“Unfortunately, with the parents’ names being thrown around, Reginae not only called her cousinsbut also asked her mother, Toya, to come talk some sense into Brandon. And Toya broke it all the way down. She told B, “You can’t save him, baby,” talking about her ex-husband, Wayne. “He’s already saved.” But I guess this really is “Growing Up Hip Hop,” because Reginae needs to grow up. Who asks their moms to fight their battles? But anyway…”
“We know children bully; we’re running entire campaigns in our nation’s schools around anti-bullying. So we cannot excuse her behavior as simply child-like. Reginae, now 18, is a master manipulator and habitual line stepper who has wholly overblown her parents’ ability to protect her. While we should nurture the independence and courageous outspoken nature of women, we need to prepare them to navigate the world as well. Reginae’s secondhand bullying is going to garner her a firsthand fall flat on her face if she’s not careful.”
“It’s really cute to see how much Shad enjoys his daughter, and also the friendship he still maintains with her mother, Joie. The three of them together probably sparked a few memories in his head. At one point, Shad mentioned that he did his best work when they were together. He even set up a nice candlelight dinner for them to discuss the possibility of giving it another whirl. Due to his history of impulsive promises and lack of follow through, Joie declined his request. I’m sure that did nothing for Shad’s ego, nor did it motivate him to write or work a bit harder. It’s actually just another thing to distract him from his career goals at the moment.”
“Bow’s estranged father has been speaking recklessly via social media against Bow Wow. His father, who lives in Atlanta, was not a part of his life due to his alcoholism, and after an altercation between the two a few years ago, he has cut his father off completely. Bow has a conversation with his mom who encourages him to pray about it and move on, he can’t seem to let it go. Debra stops by his studio session to confront Bow about his relationship with his father because she also grew up with a family who suffered from alcoholism and could relate. She encourages Bow to have a talk with his dad to finally get it off his chest, but it still seems to be falling on deaf ears.”
The commentary didn’t stop there! Our bloggers went in with reviews, recaps, and live tweets about what this show meant to them in its first season. Here are a few more recaps to get into:
We hope you enjoyed these recaps and previous episodes of GUHHATL as much as we did. Here’s a sneak peek of tonight’s episode! Join in the conversation for tonight on Twitter as the season finale airs at 9 PM Est. Use the #GUHHATL hashtag and watch only on WEtv!
Denene, a long time friend of Blogalicious, graciously allowed us to preview an excerpt from her book.
Raising 14-Year-Olds Ain’t For Punks: Learning How To Let My Baby Spread Her Wings & Fly
She started high school last week—left this house in a ball of nerves and excitement and fear and delight, curious about this new, independent path she was about to walk, sans her mother’s hand to squeeze during the scary parts.
I offered to make her an omelet. She wasn’t hungry. I plotted to drive her two blocks to the bus stop. Her father told her to walk, and he parked a block away, in case her ride didn’t show up. She did let me take a picture of her dressed in her first-day-of school outfit, a custom we’ve practiced every year since her first day of school at age two. For this small piece of ritual, I am grateful. I stared at her picture through tear-filled eyes for at least an hour.
It’s so cliché, that whole “where did the time go—it feels like she was born just yesterday” thing. Still, the feeling is visceral. True. And really, it’s starting to sink in that the sweet little ball of chocolate I carried in my belly and pushed through my loins and fell totally, helplessly, eternally in love with all those years ago is a baby no more.
My firstborn child, my Mari, is 14.
There’s so much that comes with this age, things that make all the other milestones we parents tend to fret over—sitting up, first words, first steps, potty training, dry nights, first day of kindergarten, first lost tooth and all of that—feel trivial. After all, when they are little, they are dependent and vulnerable and our jobs as parents, as my mother once told me, is to “keep the kids from killing their fool selves.” We grown-ups are in total control. We know it. The children know it. There is no pushback. It is what it is.
But, my God, how those dynamics change when our babies mature and those hormones are in full effect and they start smelling themselves and get behind the wheel of their own thoughts and emotions and desires and… pull away. My Mari has her own ideas on how she wants to dress, what she wants to listen to and watch, how she feels about the world around her and how she wants that world to really see her. My once sweet and helpful and bubbly child has morphed into straight lines and sharp edges, with an attitude and opinions and a fierce hunger for independence—the kind that comes with a challenging of rules and a demand for self-sufficiency and a smidge, too, of secrecy.
I remember 14 and I (try to) understand—(try to) acknowledge that she has the right to like what she likes (within reason) and think how she thinks (with logic and evidence to back it up) and feel what she feels and that those likes and thoughts and feelings may not necessarily sync with mine and this is okay. As she evolves, so, too, do I.
So I loosen my grip. Just a little. Enough to let her wings flutter. For her to make her choices—in clothing, in friends, in the things that interest her. She can walk across the street from school to the Starbucks and the Earth won’t stop its rotational spin. She can talk to her best friend on FaceTime until midnight on a Friday and let out that primal teenage girl squeal when a Mindless Behavior video comes on TV and ignore her little sister and, for hours at a time, answer questions with one-word mumbles and the sun will still rise in the morning. She can choose the blue shirt instead of the green, wear the stretch jeans, purple shirt and sneakers instead of the hip pink dress and sensible flats, and rock her hair cascading on her shoulders instead of the gorgeous top-knot I think shows off her beautiful face, and she will still be… mine.
Still, allowing this feels like she’s taken one of my lungs. She’s learning to live. I can barely breathe knowing that while I am still a part of the equation she uses to factor how to legislate her space in this world, I am no longer the absolute in my 14-year-old’s math.
So this is where trust comes in. Not only in my daughter but my own parenting skills. My husband and I have done our best to steer our daughter down the right path—our family path. We have reminded and still do remind her constantly that the world is bigger than our little corner of Georgia, that a hairstyle or a stupid, ratchet reality TV show doesn’t define her or her blackness, that the price of her shoes or the label in her shirt is no measurement of her worth, that books and art and culture are as necessary as air and the only time she should ever stop learning and challenging herself is when she is gone from this Earth. And as she navigates high school, this new terrain of peer pressure and hormones and boys and no-nonsense teachers, I want—really need—my Mari to know that she has a voice and opinions and feelings and an experience that is valuable and important and true. And that she has the right to use them. To have them heard. Respected.
Silence is not an option.
This is all to say that raising a 14-year-old ain’t for punks. It’s when parenting gets real. I face the challenge head on, knowing that my one-on-one time with my daughter will be cut short in just four years, when she heads off to college. I accept the challenge, too, because I am hopelessly, helplessly in love with her.
This will be so until dolphins fly and parrots swim the sea.
Always. — August 2013
Loved what you’ve read so far? Go ahead and purchase your copy here: http://amzn.to/2mutjus
If you’ve already purchased your book, let Denene know! She’d love to hear from her Blogalicious Family:
DENENE MILLNER is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 books, including books co-written with Taraji Henson and Charlie Wilson. She also is the editor of MyBrownBaby.com. “Raising 14-Year-Olds Ain’t For Punks: Learning How To Let My Baby Spread Her Wings & Fly” is an excerpt from her new parenting book, “My Brown Baby: On the Joys and Challenges Of Raising African American Children.” Purchase her book here.
Do you find yourself changing your skincare routine during the winter months? Do you question whether you’ve spent enough time on self-care by the end of the year? Do you wonder how you can combine the two without sacrificing time for other things that are important? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, our solution to you would be our client Geneva Naturals!
What is Geneva Naturals?
Geneva Naturals creates naturalskincare products using only the highest formulation standards and all of our products are 100% made in the USA. The company was created with the belief that self-care shouldn’t be limited to vacations.
We created Geneva Naturals for the woman who never takes a break — whether that be in motherhood, her career, or anything that she endeavors. We became aware that as a consequence of you changing the world, sleepless nights and long days can take a toll on your skin. This could mean a dull complexion, tired eyes, and premature signs of aging.
We empathize with this problem deeply. More often than not, we put ourselves second to move our passions in life forward. And while our life’s dedications are what make for the most beautiful moments, we disregard self-care as a form of self-respect. With the same fire underneath us that we’ve seen in the women that inspire us, we created Geneva Naturals to take you away on an overdue vacation, without having to take any of your time.
Geneva Naturals makes it easy to treat yourself! We love that they’ve taken into account that their customers are already busy with their range of harmless products. New skin care and beauty companies are conveniently at our fingertips, which makes it hard to select the right one for your needs. In a recent campaign, we selected an amazing group of busy bloggers to work with Geneva Naturals who’ve since blogged about their experience.
Bloggers Love Geneva Naturals
Danielle, a 35-year-old stay at home mom of 2 says, “Makeup and fussy routines are not for me. You’ll never see me with a million-step facial routine, or a makeup routine that requires half an hour every morning. I just can’t. I love that Geneva Naturals has an easy routine to follow, but is packed with so many good ingredients that it does a lot for your skin. I need to stay looking young and fresh without it taking too much time.”
Ria Michelle enjoyed herself at the Geneva Naturals blogger’s brunch in Miami. She was impressed with their serums. “I’m really into serums at the moment in my skincare journey. I got super excited to try theirs and immediately rubbed some on my arm to test. Their serum features 20% Vitamin C and Edelweiss. Edelweiss is a special anti-aging plant that grows in the Swiss Alps. The serum helps with firmness and lines and wrinkles. So I’m sold.” Check out her beautiful photos of the event here.
Talk about the right place at the right time! Z had been looking for harmless skincare when the blogger’s brunch rolled into town. Here’s her favorite product so far: “Between traveling often and spending most of my time outside in the heat it’s no secret that my skin has been needing some extra TLC for quite some time. I’ve been using the Advance Vitamin C+E serum along with the Advanced Anti-Aging Moisturizer Cream with SPF and I can’t tell you enough how much I love these products. Just four days after using the new line both in the morning and at night before bed, I noticed that my skin (especially around my eyes) started to feel a bit more firm.” Read more.
Tiffany Gonzalez named her favorite product! “So far my favorite of the bunch has been the Vitamin C+E Oil. It smells so good and goes on the skin smoothly without leaving any type of residue behind. I see my skin brighter and more hydrated after using it for a week! Must try if you ask me.”Read more.
Claudia, a 30-year-old beauty feels like she started on her skincare journey too late. We can totally relate. Here’s what she started doing after the brunch, “I‘ve been trying to give my face as much TLC as I can and I can’t think of a better way than with natural products. I have been using the Advanced Vitamin C+ E Serum every night this week followed by the Advanced Anti-Aging RetinolCream. I only use them at night before I go to sleep for now, and I am so happy with the results so far! Seriously I started feeling the results right away. Oh, and another plus, the products smell amazing!” Read more.
More recaps and rave reviews by #BloggersWhoBrunch
Busy, short on time and on-the-go career women and mothers (and men) now have an ally in the skincare and self-care departments! We’re thankful to have partnered with Geneva Naturals and these amazing bloggers for the #BloggersWhoBrunch event in Miami. Now that you’ve heard rave reviews about Geneva Naturals, take a moment to shop their collection of fine products here.
We’ve used the word ‘excited’ so many times to describe our feelings toward #Blogalicious8 that its become cliched at this point. We’ve shared the shimmy on all our sponsors, upcoming sessions, day parties, and so much more. Instead of rehashing what’s already been said, we chose to rely on our community to learn firsthand why their excitement persists. See why 6 bloggers can’t wait to pull up to #Blogalicious8 in Atlanta, Georgia in 2 days.
6 Bloggers Share Why They’re Excited About #Blogalicious8
“Blogalicious is the very FIRST blogging conference that I ever attended back in 2013. At that time I was new to professional blogging. It was at that conference that I got my very first paid opportunity and it has been uphill ever since. Now I have my own brand! I haven’t missed a Blogalicious conference since that day. Each experience that I have had at these conferences has been positive and uplifting. There is tremendous sisterhood and fellowship and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I cannot wait to connect (and reconnect) with likeminded people.”
“I’m excited because this is the first conference where I feel like I’ve found my true voice. I’m comfortable being me now, and I know the information I receive at Blogalicious will enhance my skills versus define my skills. When you’re new to the blog world, you can let too much information stifle your true self. I feel like now the sky is truly the limit to what I can learn at Blogalicious because I finally realized the only person I’m competing with is “me.”
“I’m ready to collaborate and learn from some amazing voices. Let’s all win together. Plus, I’m part of the Social Squad, so I can’t wait to serve and help my fellow “Blogging Queens & Kings”.
“After attending Stacey Ferguson’s Rock Star Retreat there was no other choice for me but to make sure I did not miss #Blogalicious8! I thought that transitioning from traditional media to #newmedia would either dilute and devalue my brand or that the blog world didn’t have a place for me. That it wasn’t the kind of exposure I was looking for, what do they know that I don’t know? And now I just can’t enough of the opportunities for growth and the new ways to connect and identify with my audience. Since the launch of my new blog, the support from the Blogalicious Community has been fabulous! Knowing that what I do and what I offer is valuable professionally, financially and emotionally. An entire industry, an entirely new audience to reach out to, share with, grow with and be inspired by.”
“I am beyond thrilled and blessed beyond measure that I am registered for #Blogalicious8. I claimed this awesome conference last year after three years of blogging, praying for a breakthrough, and standing firmly and boldly on my faith.
The blessing of #Blogalicious8 is that the amazing team brought this spectacular opportunity back to Atlanta. As a wife, mother, blogger, and mompreneur I have to schedule my time wisely, and when I make a commitment to anything in my life it is a family effort, so Atlanta fit perfectly since I am a recent transplant to the Peach State from Michigan. Last but never least, this is my absolute first blogging conference! I am humbled, honored, and ready to take my blog to the next level, meet like-minded smart people, network and collaborate with new kindred spirits and just have a blast at #Blogalicious8!”
Toiia L. Rukuni MA
Pinterest Marketing Strategy Coach
Mommy Lifestyle Blogger
“Blogalicious 2016 will be my 5th time attending and 2nd time speaking. It was the 2nd blogging conference I ever attended, and I was instantly hooked because it felt like family. To see so many of my favorite bloggers in one place while being in a top-notch learning environment has made it a MUST-attend event for me annually. My family has even got in on it! My husband attended my first Blogalicious with me in Las Vegas in 2012, we made a family trip out of it when it was in San Antonio in 2014 when I first spoke and next week in Atlanta my 2-year-old son will be joining me. I attend a lot of conferences but when bloggers ask me if they can only attend one which it should be it’s an easy answer: Blogalicious!”
“My first year attending Blogalicious in 2013 I was a newbie to networking. After participating in the workshops and sessions I gained the confidence to introduce myself, talk about my platform, and learn how to market my brand. Using social media helps me express my interests and stay connected with industry tastemakers. Online is where I can communicate with thought leaders, share my own voice, and create the best version of me. Thanks Blogalicious for recognizing my accomplishments in the digital landscape.”
#TeamBlogalicious has been keeping this announcement close to the vest for the last few weeks. We’re finally ready to pop the cork and close out Blogalicious Weekend with the official announcement that Andréa + Robin McBride – two long-lost sisters who found their way back to each other, bonded over wine and created a successful business together – will be at B8!
About the Closing Keynote:
You dream it, you believe in it, you can do it! However, being a woman in business, there are going to be some interesting challenges along the way. Hear first hand Robin & Andréa McBride’s inspiring story and three key business lessons they learned on the road to establishing McBride Sisters Wines – lessons that any woman in business can relate to and apply to her own pursuits.
Meet the McBride Sisters: Entrepreneurs and Wine Makers
About the Sisters:
Though continents apart, the sisters were raised around vineyards in newly developing wine regions (Monterey, California, and Marlborough, New Zealand)—each independently fostering our own appreciation for the craft of winemaking and each unaware of the other for nearly half their lives.
Despite the 7,000 miles that separated them, they would eventually find their way to each other in 1999. Their story, proof of the bond that can form over a bottle of wine and is a story they are now telling with the McBride Sisters Collection.
As entrepreneurs with over 11 years in the wine business they have been involved in every facet of the industry from grape growing, winemaking, importation, distribution, sales and marketing. Their passion lies in making wine and connecting with wine lovers around the world.
As Vintners the sisters have two wine brands under the McBride Sisters Wine Company: The first is eco.love Wines from New Zealand, the second is the newly unveiled Truvée Wines from the Central Coast of California. The McBride Sisters Wine Company sells over 1.2 Million bottles of wine per year.
We can’t wait to hear this message of empowerment. Learn more about their wine company here and follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @McBrideSisters.
Sonia Smith-Kang, owner of Mixed Up Clothing, shares her heartfelt experience after taking the Blogalicious stage last year. She, along with two other finalists, competed for the Perfect Pitch III contest, where the prize was $5,000 cash and financial mentorship from Wells Fargo. With our fourth contest racing around the corner, we asked Sonia for words of encouragement for anyone interested in submitting for this year’s contest. Read what she had to say below.
I walked up to the stage at Blogalicious ’15 ready to pitch my butt off. I had spent numerous hours memorizing all my facts and figures about my small business, Mixed Up Clothing. I created a beautiful slide show and brought in samples of my children’s clothing line that represent cultural diversity. I felt ready! I was given the “ok” to start my pitch.
My voice cracked immediately and I couldn’t shake it. I was nervous but I finished and waited for feedback from the judges. What they had to say wasn’t pretty…
“You had all your samples yet you never showed us any of them”, one remarked.
“You rehashed all your facts and figures which we already had as part of your application. That time could have been spent talking more about what you would do with the money”, another commented.
Needless to say I didn’t win the competition and I’m not going to lie, it sucked. I felt like a failure and I after the winner was announced, I headed back to my room as I could feel the tears welling up. I took the back way to an elevator when one of the judges caught up with me.
“Can I be honest with you?” she asked. I nodded and she told me
“You needed to own your s-it! You went on stage shaky and rehearsed. You shared all you had accomplished: being on the Today show, The Real and other media outlets. You included celebrities that you have worked with as if to give you cred. You gave others the credit for your success and as a woman, I get it. I’m telling you this because I want you and other women to take ownership of your accomplishments and not give anyone the power.
“It is YOU who made your business happen. YOU got your clothes in boutiques and in the media. YOU are the story behind your brand. You failed because it wasn’t YOU who was on the stage today.”
She continued, “Right now, right here, I want you to tell me why YOU left being a critical care nurse and started your kids clothing line?” I opened up and shared with her my background and how my business came to be as a result of struggling to find clothes that represented my children’s mixed-race background.
“That’s it,” she yelled. “Your face lights up and I see what this means to you. We couldn’t see that on stage. You are the brand and when folks are trying to decide whether or not to give you money, they want to get behind the person who is making things happen.”
(image credit: Sonia Smith-Kang)
It’s been a year since I was on stage at Blogalicious ’15 and I have learned a great deal since that wonderful event. I wish the next finalists the best and would share this last bit of advice I take with me every day: if you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else? Know that you belong there, on stage and in business so own it!
Thank you to all the wonderful folks at Blogalicious who saw the need for us to get together and learn from one another. To my co-finalists: wishing them continued success. To sponsors like Wells Fargo who want to see small businesses succeed and to the judges who take the time to offer feedback to those like me who want to improve. And finally, to the judge who saw something in me and helped me find my voice, thank you.
Studies have shown that countless hopefuls blindly enter the world of entrepreneurship expecting immediate success and rewards. Somewhere along the way – possibly while working in reprehensible work environments – they’ve coveted entrepreneurship as the holy grail of endless opportunities, impressive deals and comfortable lifestyles. While these markers do exist in abundance, the average entrepreneur pre-sweet spot is often faced with years (some, decades) of uncertainty, biting off more than they can chew, and having limited financial resources. This is entrepreneurship folks: honest-to-God blood, sweat and tears!
Technology and social media are constantly leveling the playing field for aspiring and new entrepreneurs. Information is literally at our fingertips, and thankfully, so are multiple willing and knowledgeable companies and organizations that’ve created programs and events specific to offering structural and financial guidance. We’ve seen it: the right mentors can create those favorable opportunities once dreamed about. But the question is how do you get them?
The answer is simple: the perfect pitch.
In our weekly blog series, Blog Tips, we share dozens of tips on building better blogs, enriching your communities and getting to “your tribe” – supporters, potential customers and future mentors. A few weeks ago, we touched on pitching – the ins and outs, how to take the plunge when you’re afraid, and we included a sample pitch letter for those in need. When it comes to securing your next deal or adding key people to your growing tribe, perfecting your pitch is critical. Knowing this, and wanting to support fellow entrepreneurs in funding their brands, is why we’ve partnered with Wells Fargo for the past three years to bring you The Perfect Pitch contest during conference weekend.
Before opening submissions to this year’s contest, we decided to track down Vicki Sylvain, our 2015 Perfect Pitch contest winner. Last year, Vicki confidently presented her business idea to a panel of small business expert judges in front of nearly one hundred people. Knowing her product inside out, The Shoe-B, Vicki won $5,000 to contribute to her company’s success along with consulting sessions, an exclusive radio interview and a financial review with Wells Fargo.
Vicki sat down with us and discussed the progress she’s made, the Perfect Pitch experience and how she won.
AW: People have multiple reasons for “going for it”. Did you apply for the Perfect Pitch III contest just to win the prize or did you do it to build your confidence? Was it a combination or a totally different reason?
VS: I would have to say that it was a little bit of both. I was so used to working on a shoestring budget, that I knew I would need an infusion of funds to help take The Shoe-B to another level. I was most excited about the mentoring that would accompany the monetary prize. Having the money means nothing if you don’t have the proper guidance or a plan.
Being in front the camera was nerve-racking for me. I literally had 200 takes before feeling confident enough to submit my pitch to the Blogalicious team. I believe that I have a winning product, however, I needed to learn how to effectively share the information to have others believe in it as well.
Vicki Sylvain, Owner of The Shoe-B
AW: Fear is REAL! Were you scared when you were chosen as 1 of 3 contenders for the contest?
VS: My twitter account was usually very quiet. Suddenly, my notifications just kept buzzing. I was shocked to see I had so many interactions, but I still didn’t get it. Then, I saw my picture and the tweet about being selected to present. I was very excited. After a short while, I realized that I would have to pitch in front of a room full of people. That realization burst my bubble of excitement really quick!
AW: How much preparation went into your presentation? Did anyone help you do this?
VS: Thankfully I had just submitted my business plan for the Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUp Kreyol Business Plan Competition. So I had a good grasp of my business. Local business organizations provided support and assistance with creating the plan. I did some research on how to create a pitch deck (PowerPoint) for the presentation. I created it based on my plan, and my counselor at Business Outreach Center – Women Business Center gave me the opportunity to practice the pitch aloud and provided helpful feedback.
I started following Alfred Edmonds, Jr. on Periscope and YouTube and paid close attention to his tips on pitching. They were very helpful, as they focused on the do’s and don’ts in pitching to investors.
AW: Did your presentation embody everything you wanted it to?
VS: I was proud of the outcome of the presentation. I was confident that I did adequate research and preparation. I saved it onto my phone and kept reviewing it on my 4 hour bus ride from Brooklyn, NY to the conference in Baltimore, MD. I felt well acquainted with the material.
AW: Wow! Did you encounter any OMG moments leading up to your moment on stage? Tell me about your process!
VS: Did I? Girl! When I got to Baltimore, I realized I forgot my wallet. No identification, no debit/credit cards and NO MONEY! I was unable to catch a cab to the hotel, so I walked 2.5 miles to Blogalicious!
When I arrived, I gathered myself, changed [clothes] and continued reviewing my presentation. I meet an awesome woman, Jessica Clark, who helped calm my nerves. Then I sold a Shoe-B while in the lobby (via credit card, but a sale nonetheless), which was definitely a confidence booster. That experience confirmed that women really need The Shoe-B and that they see its value.
When I got inside the conference room and saw the layout, I realized that I would not be able to see the presentation. That was an “Oh No!” moment [for me]. Thank goodness, with all the practice, I memorized the presentation. This made me feel a lot more at ease. Because I was going based on what I memorized, I wasn’t locked to the screen.
After winning, although I had to walk back to the bus station, I had more of a pep in my step. I was elated!
AW: Vicki, you’re an inspiration! Who was the first person you called after learning you were in the Top 3? Who was the first person you called after you won?
VS: When I learned I was part of the Top 3, I called Sazara Johnson, my friend and a member of the team. She is the one that told me about the competition. When I won I sent a group text to my team members and called my mentor. Being that they were following on Twitter, they were already sending me messages and posting on Facebook and Instagram.
AW: You’re blessed to have a supportive tribe! What lasting advice do you have for this year’s pitchers?
VS: Preparation is everything. You have to be ready when opportunities arise. If I hadn’t been working on my business plan, I would not have had all the information needed to present and address the judges’ questions. The confidence comes with knowing your business. Do the necessary research. Know what you want for your business and your why. I was pleased in seeing that one of your requirements was submitting a case study. This encouraged me to reflect on my accomplishments and set them to paper. Pride, confidence, belief, and self-awareness goes a long way.
Photo credit: Daisies and Mixtapes
AW: Tell us, what’s next for you and The Shoe-B?
VS: I am actually preparing to pitch in the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition in May at the Entrepreneur’s summit. We are working on product placement in boutiques and also in product enhancement. The cross body version is in the works.
More about Vicki Sylvain and The Shoe-B
Vicki Sylvain was born and raised in Westbury, NY to parents of Haitian descent. With an ever-innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, she coined the motto, “Where there is no opportunity, create one. Where there is a need, fill it.” Sylvain created The Shoe-B to give women a fashionable and discreet option to carry their heels and flats. In its clutch form, The Shoe-B can fit a woman’s flats and later expand to fit her heels.
The creation of The Shoe-B came to mind not only to address the dilemma stiletto-wearing women face daily, but to help further the work Quiescere (key-s-air) Resource Center (QRC), a 501 (c) 3 designated nonprofit organization founded by Sylvain to fuel her passion to provide educational support to families in the US and abroad, does in the community. A percentage of the sale of each Shoe-B goes towards the Survival Kit Drive for Haiti and other QRC initiatives. With the success of The Shoe-B, Sylvain hopes to move production to Haiti and bring viable job opportunities to the “Pearl of the Caribbean.”
What is The Shoe-B?
The Shoe-B is “a stylish clutch and a shoebag. In its clutch form you can carry your personal items and a pair of flats. When you’re ready to change out of your heels, The Shoe-B transforms and expands to fit up to a size 13″ stiletto shoe. It is available in canvas, denims, faux leather and leather.”
Here’s how it works
Vicki will be at Blogalicious Weekend in Atlanta in November. Keep up with her and The Shoe-B in the meantime on social media, via email or at www.theshoeb.com. Her Spring and Summer collection needs to be on your shopping list!
Ariel C. Williams is the Digital Content Manager at Blogalicious. She is the editor-in-chief of Slay Culture and owner of Danzy Bird & Co., a fun agency that creates digital media and services for creative women of color.