Tuesday Topic: Self-Image

Tuesday Topic (4)

Someone told me I was beautiful today.  She said there was something about my smile and the way that I articulated myself when I spoke.  She told me I am bold and full of confidence. She told me that I was enough because God was enough.  She told me that I was created in God’s image and that the likeness of Him that I carried seemed to light up the room.   She told me that my freckles danced with every smile.  I smiled on the outside, but on the inside, my head hung down in disbelief because I did not feel like those words held any truth.  As I looked to the eyes staring back at me in my broken mirror, all I could do was smile at the girl who handed out compliments in the form of bright yellow and hot pink sticky notes.  I put on my red lipstick, filled in my untamed brows and walked with her words whistling in my ears.  With each step, I became that person she spoke so highly of.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27

This month on the “Tuesday Topic,” we’re discussing self-image.  A lot of us walk around like we are so full of confidence, but on the inside we see an image of a person we do not want identify with.  So many women are in competition with one another to the point that they are actually tearing themselves down.  They cover up behind pounds of makeup, extensions, and fancy clothes and create this outer shell of manufactured self-acceptance.

Sticky Notes

At one point in my life, I literally depended on sticky notes to get me through the day.  I posted these notes with scriptures, affirmations, and words of encouragement all over my house, my car, and my purse.  I would find these notes stuck to my children and crumpled up or torn in random places.  I’d dust each one off, unfold them and place them back in their designated place.

Yep, I was broken.  So much so, that I felt that a few sticky notes would literally keep me together.  I truly broke out of that place in my life one day when I realized that my encouragement was within.  God did not create me in broken pieces but he created me as this whole person with a whole purpose.  He created me in the likeness of His own image which is an honor.  I got tired of piecing myself together and acting as if everything was fine while not really dealing with how I felt about myself.

You are okay!

I’m saying all of this to say that we must be able to get to this place in our lives as women where our smile is purely a smile and the words “I’m okay” are just that, not two words masking an inner scream.  When we look ourselves in the mirror, we must be able to look at ourselves the way that God sees us.  In love, grace, and compassion.  It took me to fall a few times and literally lose some hair to realize that I absolutely love this woman I see in the mirror.    I realized that I was hand crafted by my created and what I might have seen as a flaw was His imperfect perfection.   I’ve literally just gotten to the point where I can go out in public without filling in my eyebrows.  Yes, that is a true accomplishment for me.  I’ve learned to embrace my insecurities over time and turn them into what I love the most about myself.  Many women deal with issues of self-image on a regular basis and it’s not an easy hill to climb.

“Before I knew you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you.  I ordained you a prophet to nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

While dealing with my own issues on how I saw myself, I realized that I needed to make sure that my daughters did not have the slightest opportunity to feel the same way I did.  I’ve learned to not only speak life over myself, but over them and to them as well.  This world outside of our household can be an ugly place and we must make sure that our daughters are equipped for what’s out there.  My daughters know that they are beautiful both inside and out and that they are intelligent and loved.  We write each other love notes and whisper compliments in each other’s ears.  We play dress up and makeup artist and have a “girl’s night out” every weekend.  They know that they are the most beautiful girls in my world.  They know that they are capable of doing all things.

My shadows saved me

I watch how my oldest wants to be like me.  She dresses like me and follows my every step.  These girls are part of the reason why I love myself so much more.  They see me in a light that I would not normally see myself in.  They are my shadows and follow my every move.  They encourage me and find beauty in my flaws whether I’m “dolled up” or dressed down.  Who knew a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old could teach me so much about myself?

What do you see when you look at your reflection in the mirror.  What is your perception of yourself.  How can you change that perception? What do you do to encourage yourself each day?   Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

 

Her-Story Spotlight: Flaunt Ya Faith

Her Story Spotlight- LaQuonda Rene
 “Purpose is never easy, but it’s doable.”

This month on the Her-Story Spotlight, we’re shining light on the beautiful Quonda Renee, founder of Flaunt Ya Faith.  Flaunt Ya Faith is an inspirational online jewelry shop for women.  Her shop includes items such as clutches, makeup bags, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and tote bags.  Quonda is originally from Connecticut, but currently resides in Riley, North Carolina.  This thirty-one-year-old entrepreneur on the rise has only been in business for four years and has seen tremendous growth in sales, but it wasn’t always this way.  As we got further into our interview, Quonda expresses more about her humble beginnings.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

“I was laid off from my healthcare job.  It was unexpected.  I was not prepared financially and I lost everything and had to move back in with my parents.  At the time, I needed inspiration so I used the little unemployment money I had and started Flaunt Ya Faith.”

Quonda discussed how she was not financially prepared and looked for a job for almost a year.  After soul searching and spending time with God, He revealed to her the vision of Flaunt Ya Faith.  She created the jewelry for herself initially as a small reminder of her faith to push her through her current situation.  She saw that there was a lack in that industry when it comes to inspirational jewelry and felt that she would be able to fill that need and did just that.

Quonda mentioned that about 90 percent of the jewelry has inspirational message on them and that her bracelets are her top sellers.  Not everything is handmade because she is beginning to be a bit overwhelmed with production, which is a good thing.  She has been outsourcing with some private label designers so that she can focus more on the business end as Flaunt Ya Faith continually grows.

She believed she could so she did leather bracelet

How has your faith attributed to your journey as an entrepreneur?

“Faith is the only way I have made it this far.  It keeps me grounded.  I mean the name of my business is Flaunt Ya Faith.  It takes a whole lot of faith to start a business with an unemployment check.  Anyone who has been unemployed knows that’s not a lot of money, especially when you have other bills.”

Jewelry making was not the business that first came to mind.  “When I first decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur before I lost my job I was thinking about selling t-shirts.  The concept that I had at the time was so worldly that I would probably be a millionaire by now if I would have gone with that, but that wasn’t who I was.  I think purpose is more important than popularity.”  We discussed how it is sometimes harder for a faith based business to thrive and do well because it may not be as accepted compared to others.  “When you are operating in your purpose and in your gift, money will come.  God always provides” It’s not about the money.  It’s about the message.

The Tribe

I loved that Quonda called her followers her tribe in our interview.  It made me feel like they were so much more than customers or numbers on social media.  We discussed the necessity of being transparent in business during the interview and how it helps to build a better following.

“I think being transparent has definitely helped me with my business.  I consider Instagram my family.  There’s times you can go back on some of my posts and I’ll tell them like I’m going through this and I know someone going through this and people will DM me saying thank you for posting that or I needed that word of encouragement.  Social media has helped a lot because I’ve could reach and ship to people who don’t even live in America.  I don’t think my business would be where it is now without social media,” said Quonda.

One thing that I love that Quonda mentioned is that she doesn’t use her e-mail list solely to sell to her customers, but she tells them a story.  She gives transparency for situations that have happened along with resolutions.  “I’m not going to be something I’m not or pretend to be at a place where I’m not.  That builds a community with the people that you serve,” said Quonda.

 What are your goals for the future of your business?

“I definitely want to grow a little bit more.  I would love to hire people.  There are so many people that need jobs.  I’d like to do that before the end of the year.  I would at least like to have one part time person there all the time.  I would like to be in some stores like Macy’s or something like that. I Would love to have a brick and mortar because there aren’t very many stores you can walk in that are full of inspiration.  Quonda also mentioned her desire to vend at pop up shops in the mall. Her products are currently listed on Overstock and ASOS.

We discussed the necessity of taking a break from your business.  While owning your own business, you must be able to regroup and revamp so not to let yourself become overwhelmed with the ins and out of daily operation.   Quonda mentioned that it was necessary to take a break from her online shop for a few months to get things in order.  Her website is currently up and running now and ready for sales once again.

What piece of advice would you have given yourself prior to starting your business?

“Don’t try to be everything to everybody.  Find a niche or a tribe and connect with them,” said Quanda.  Often times newbies in business tend to follow the crowd and lack their own identity when starting out.  It’s important to be original and maintain your own identity in order to be successful.

It was a pleasure interviewing Quonda Renee.  I was so inspired by her journey in business and I am excited to see where God will take Flaunt Ya Faith.  Her original pieces are beautiful and so is she.  Quonda is proof that faith can bring you through any situation as long as you are fulfilling the purpose God has set before you.

You can follow Flaunt Ya Faith on:

Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest @Flauntyafaith

To purchase go to http://www.flauntyafaith.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favored Freauxs Prayer Challenge

prayer challenge

“I call on you, my God for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.”

– Psalm 17:6

The Lord laid it on my heart not too long ago to start a prayer challenge to encourage others to recondition their prayer lives as well as my own.  To be honest, I was nervous and confused.  I grew up thinking that in order to begin a ministry or to pray for others you have to be someone of a high status or a certain level of authority in the church.  Not so.  God has a purpose for EVERYONE.  If He has called you, answer the call. There is greatness inside of you no matter your position.  When I started Favored Freauxs, my initial prayer was to be a vessel for the Lord and allow Him to use me as He sees fit despite my downfalls.  As He begins to use me, it excites me more than words can explain.

So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”  And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

-Judges 6:15-16

During this challenge, I’d like us to turn the mirror around and work on ourselves.  This walk with God is personal.  It’s not about your attendance every Sunday at church  or how many bible verses you have memorized.  This walk is about your personal relationship with Him.  It’s about how we live our lives outside of those four walls.  We have to make ourselves accountable for our own souls.  There’s no plus one for where we’re trying to go.  I’d like us to use this challenge to allow God to take over completely.  Lets give Him full access holding nothing back.  Allow Him to create in us a new creature, a clean heart, and fill us with His undying love, grace, and mercy.

When it comes to my prayer life, I personally feel like I can  do better in this area.  Not only that, but the way I pray needs to change.  I desire to have a prayer life that does not cease.  I also have the desire to not only pray continuously but to pray in the spirit….yes, there is a difference.  I desire to intercede for others.  My life is not perfect and neither am I.  I want to continue to learn to forgive others and forgive myself for the things of the past.

What are your desires for yourself spiritually?  What are you believing God for in your life?  Are you dealing with hurt, pain, unforgiveness, sin, or bitterness?  Do you have health issues that seem unbearable?  Are you battling with depression, suicidal thoughts, lust?  Have you lost a loved one and feel alone?  PRAY! Cry out to the Lord.  Cast ALL of your cares on Him, not just a few.  Leave your problems and issues with Him.  Don’t take them back.  Empty yourself in the Lord and allow Him to do great works in your life.  My prayer for you all is that He softens hardened hearts, comforts hurting souls, and brings you out of darkness and into His light.  I pray that this challenge  changes lives for the better.

Prayer Challenge Guidelines:

  • The prayer challenge will last for a total of 30 days beginning on June 1st and ending on June 30th.
  • You should see a prompt once you visit this site to enter your name and email address to join the challenge.  If you haven’t already done so, please do.
  • Once you sign up for the challenge, you will receive an email each day with a prompt to guide you through your 30 day prayer challenge. Each day will be on a different topic.
  • You have the option of writing down your prayer or just speaking it aloud.  Writing down your prayers will allow you to return to them in the future to reflect on your spiritual growth.
  • If you would like to share your prayer with me you are more than welcome to do so.  You can also share on social media using the hashtag #favoredprayerchallenge.  These are only options.  You are not obligated to do so.

That’s it.  It’s simple.  I’ll check in throughout the month to see how things are going.  We’re in this together.  Lets lift each other up in prayer during this time and watch God do wonders.

 

 

 

Kalilah Wright: “Mess in a Bottle”

 

Mess in a Bottle (4)
http://www.messinabottle.com

In the times that we live in, merely working at a typical 9-5 just doesn’t cut it anymore.   More women are leaving their cookie-cutter lifestyles and branching out on the path to becoming an entrepreneur.  Some talk themselves out of their dreams because of the fear of failure, while others muster up enough faith and strength to push through their passion.  I decided to seek out and interview amazing, everyday women who have made it their duty to push the envelope of entrepreneurship despite the challenges. It would only be fitting to feature a few of these women creating history or should I say “her-story” here on the blog once a month.

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I conducted my very first of many interviews with the beautiful soul Kalilah Wright. She is a single mother of an 3 year old son, hustler, and CEO of the T-shirt company “Mess in a Bottle.”  Per Wright, her company creates products that are “emotional, thought provoking, and expressive to the current climate of the world.”  Her products include, but are not limited to t-shirts, mugs, pillow cases, pens, and jackets.  I stumbled upon Kalilah after being added to a closed business branding group on social media and her posts were so inspiring to me that I felt the need to interview her as soon as possible.

The name Mess in a Bottle derived from Kalilah’s desire to display messages on her products.  Kalilah explained that the name “Message in a Bottle” had already been taken when she initially started her business, so she decided to coin the name “Mess in a bottle” and ran with it.   “Mess” would represent the good, the bad, and the ugly,” said Wright. In our interview, Kalilah stated that she wanted to create messages to allow people to be vocal without saying anything at all. She accomplished that and so much more with her catchy phrases and original designs.  Kalilah’s messages through her apparel are both innovative and creative and always up on the times.  They reflect both political and social aspects of the current events.  She is always quick on her toes when it comes to new phrases on her products and her advertising is always on point, visual, and relatable.

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Now what I love most about her product is the packaging.  Mess in a Bottle isn’t just a cute name for her online t-shirt shop.  Her shirts come inside of a cute reusable bottle. It’s very reminiscing to the message that would travel in a bottle through bodies of water.  Except in this case the messages are printed on stylish t-shirts and are sent via USPS.

At the age of 4 years old, Kalilah’s parents decided to immigrate from Jamaica to Brooklyn, NY. She moved to Baltimore, MD 8 years ago and frequently visits New York.  Wright earned her master’s degree in architecture and design.  With her degrees and skills, Kalilah managed to land a job creating interior store layouts for Under Armor for two years.  Now I know what you may be thinking, who would leave Under Armor?  Well, some people just have that entrepreneurial spirit and Kalilah is one of them.  When I asked this question, she explained that at the time, she owned a baby furniture company and needed some extra cash flow to maintain the business.  She learned that selling t-shirts would yield a faster turnaround time and help fund her original business.  Her side hustle became overwhelming over time and it began to interfere with her day job at Under Armor.  She eventually made the big decision to step out on faith and make the pursuit to turn her side hustle into a full time her business.  Kalilah currently has two assistants and up to five virtual assistants who all play a part in customer service, responding to emails, and invoicing to maintain the flow of Mess in a Bottle.

Kalilah was featured on the variety talk show “Harry” hosted by Grammy and Emmy winner Harry Connick, Jr. and it has made a difference in sales for Mess in a Bottle.  Wright said that the experience was an amazing feeling and it wasn’t planned at all.  It was initially orchestrated by a friend of hers that was looking out.  She said that everything seemed to happen within a matter of days.  Her friend told her that the Harry show was looking to feature entrepreneurs for the next episode. After getting wind of that info, Kalilah called and spoke to the casting director to find out about getting on the show.  When the episode aired, she received an enormous amount of attention and a big jump in sales.

I asked Wright if there are any ethical concerns that she might deal with while running her business.  She mentioned that she does run into some difficulties when creating her political shirts.  Her overall brand supports others opinions, but sometimes they may not agree with her own.  Since this benefits her business, she is willing to overcome that difference.

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She sees Mess in a Bottle ten years down the line as a big corporation and not just a T-shirt company.  Wright mentioned that she’d like to be able to go outside of shirts one day and expand to other products as well.  She is working on a few projects currently that will assist in leading Mess in a Bottle in that direction.  Kalilah is also transitioning into preparing her business for the uncertainties of life.  I asked what she thinks would happen to her business if she was no longer here.  Kalilah said that she is in the process of putting together a mess in a bottle handbook on how to operate the business that would also include her vendor information so that the business would continue to run smoothly whether she is here or not.

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As we closed out our interview, I asked Kalilah if there was any advice that she would give anyone trying to start a business of their own.  She said that someone new to the scene should stay true to their process. Kalilah mentioned that the biggest issues that she has run across in business are finances, minimal capital, and time management.  So many people have their own answers to how their business works.  She said that it’s necessary to figure things out on your own.  What works for one person will not always work for the next.  Kalilah said that the amazing part about building a business is that we create our own path with no formula.  She mentioned that she sticks to using her own intuition and gut feelings to make her decisions.  I must say that I completely agree with this way of thinking.  You won’t get too far trying to be like anyone else but yourself.  No two businesses are going to be alike even if they are in the same niche.  Do you boo boo!

 

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I’ve got my “Mess” in a Bottle. “Get Your Life Write. Bloggerlife.”

Grab yours at www.messinabottle.com

You can also follow Mess In A Bottle on:

Instagram @messinabottle and Facebook @ MESS in a Bottle

I’m so happy to have been able to speak with this queen and “mompreneur” about her prospering business.  She kept it real and let me know that it’s no walk in the park or for the faint of heart.  If I hadn’t mentioned this enough, Kalilah Wright is an inspiration on every level. She embodies what the definition of a true hustler is.  Watching her grow and expand her brand over time is like watching one of your home girls finally make it to the top.  Her small wins are big for all of us.  She literally started from the ground up and can only go higher from here on out.

This interview is the first of so many to come.  If you haven’t followed the blog already, go ahead and do so to keep up with the latest and greatest as Favored Freauxs continues to grow.  We’ll be featuring a new woman creating “Her-story” each month.

 

 

 

 

God Is Not Mad At You

GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU

The Lord Is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works”

-Psalms 145:8-9

A lot of us live our lives ashamed of our selves and ashamed to seek God’s face in times of despair.  We feel that if we don’t have a spot free past that He will forsake us.  We feel that if we are living in sin that He will turn His back toward us.  Even when Eve committed the very first sin, God still loved her in this mist of her shame and guilt.  Contrary to popular belief, God does not hold on to our shortcomings against us in fierce anger.  When we continuously think this way, it leaves ample time for the devil to make his way into our lives and cause so much confusion.  We slowly distance ourselves away from the will of God and find it harder to find our way back on the right path in fear of being a disappointment to others and especially God.  It’s similar to a child in fear of disappointing their parent and keeping distance from them when they’ve done wrong.

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:

Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.

-Jeremiah 31:3

God’s love is eternal and everlasting despite our flaws.  I know it may be difficult to believe because of human interaction.  When we disappoint our friends and loved ones, we find that they may not forgive so easily or take us back with open arms.  God is not of this world.  He created us and knows everything we are doing and will do.  He created the blueprint for the plans He has in our lives.  We are always welcome back in His arms despite our flaws, mishaps, sins, or just bad decisions.

I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications.  Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

-Psalms 116: 1-2

Call out to the Lord in times of need.  When you feel alone, depressed, or stressed, He is the listening ear that will always be available.  God will always have the solutions to your problems and will guide you and keep you.  He is a forgiving God. He will guide you back on the path you were meant to follow and never lead you astray.
What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”

-Romans 8:31

Just know that you are not alone and God will always be there for you regardless of wrong doing.  God is not mad at you.  Don’t sit dwelling in your past.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  God has blessed you with a fresh start, a new beginning.  Take advantage of it right now and start off by giving Him praise for all of His grace and mercy toward you.