Whenever I’m in need of a fresh perspective or in times of weariness, I often find myself coming back to my blog. I’ve been blogging since 2007, and it wasn’t until I sat down to write this, that I realized it has been 10 whole years; 10 years of me digitally chronicling my thoughts and feelings through photography, digital imaging, and prose. And, each time I sit down to collect my thoughts, I remember why.

I have always been someone who can better articulate themselves in a piece of writing. Maybe, it’s just the perfectionist in me, but whenever I speak in person, I am often left thinking there was something I could have phrased better, or that I forgot to add a key piece of information to the conversation.

As I get older, and find myself with less time (and patience,) to write for myself, I’ve started to forgive myself for the multiple in-person conversation transgressions I may have committed over the years. But, I still find that writing is a place of solace, and a source of comfort.

It has almost been one year since I launched the app for my beauty brand, Cocoa Swatches, and what a year it’s been. I’ve gone from feeling like I am on top of the world, to feeling like the world is crashing down around me.

In the past year, I have learned A LOT, for lack of better words.

I’ve learned that I can push myself, much much harder and farther than I ever thought I could. I’ve learned how to fail fast and fail forward, even more so I was doing before. As corny as it sounds, I’ve learned its OK to cry. I’ve learned that I don’t have to take everyone’s advice because at the end of the day, I know what is best for me and I believe in my vision. I’ve learned to be OK with who I am: the girl who loves her Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, prefers to spend time observing before engaging, and constantly re-watches episodes of The Office on Netflix. I’ve learned how to be a friend to myself, and practice self care whenever I feel like I am not being productive or when I just don’t have a good general sense of well being.

I’ve also learned so much more about the beauty industry than I ever could have imagined. And I’m still learning.

I’m learning how to become comfortable with making others uncomfortable. No matter what anyone says, diversity in fashion and beauty is still a hot button issue and when I constantly see discrimination, deception, and just irresponsible behavior from people of power, I feel compelled to address it.

As an entrepreneur who’s single-handedly managing herself and her career, I’m learning how to speak up for myself and to stop being afraid to articulate my value. I have always said that I did not intend for Cocoa Swatches to become the beast that it is. I’m always in shock and awe whenever someone wants to meet me or just praise me for my accolades. But now that I’ve seen what Cocoa Swatches has turned out to be, and envisioned what it can become, I know I need to own it. I need to believe in it, wholeheartedly. And I need to celebrate it, in order for it to succeed.

 I refuse to let anyone else downplay what I have accomplished or dictate my worth, regardless of what social media numbers or any other industry standard may say. I respect all those who have paved the way for something like Cocoa Swatches to exist, but I also believe that disrupting the industry to encourage change should be rewarded instead being dismissed, looked over, or frowned upon.

This journey has definitely been exciting, frustrating, empowering, and enlightening all at the same time. And although sometimes I get discouraged, something always manages to come along and reminded why I started. And that something is always right on time.

This time around, that “something,” was speaking to the young black women and men who attended Yale’s Black Solidarity Conference. Being able to share the stage with Jackie Aina, a  seasoned beauty influencer whom I admire and respect, and Antonia Dean, an insightful OG in the beauty industry was a privilege in and of itself. And on top of that, being able to speak to people who are actually inspired and grateful for what I do was almost like an out of body experience. Sometimes I can’t believe I am the person they are looking up to.

I left that conference feeling instantly refreshed. Coincidentally, many things in my life are going through a refresh of sorts right now and that experience gave me the kick in the ass I needed to work through it. So even though I can’t possibly anticipate what the future holds, I will say “Bring it on, I’m ready for ya.”

Jumpsuit + Boots – Zara

Top – Topshop

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