my B.O.B. - Soulful by C2

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With August being #NationalBlackBusinessMonth, very happy to re-introduce the myBOB stories with Charona Lott, owner of Soulful by C2!

You may have noticed her feature on the myblackbox co. Instagram account this past week— the #myBOBstory campaign continues there as well. This campaign brings awareness to Black businesses from the owner's perspective. At myblackbox co. it's important to know the vision and purpose behind a business. Through this blog, Black business owners share their background, trials and tribulations, and the moment it all came together with you!

Finding a way to continue to support her child, make it through a divorce, and find something she could call her own led Charona to become a Black entrepreneur. With her beauty and skincare products, Charona wants to differentiate Soulful by C2 from other soy candle sellers.


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Do you remember your first sale—how did you feel?

The very first time that I heard that PayPal notification go off on my phone, I was overwhelmed with joy because all of my sleepless nights were about to start paying off. 

Why beauty and home products? What drew you to create in this space?

My passion for candles started in college while attending The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. I was not your everyday college student who did not care about my living space. I liked for my apartment to always have a nice clean scent that would last for days, and candles did just that! For my business, I chose to include a skincare line that is all natural, organic, and holistic because when shopping for skincare products I found that many of the top selling moisturizers and body scrubs were filled with chemicals. Great example—when doing research at a well-known candle chain, I realized that their holistic candles and scrubs only had one or two essential oils for sleep whereas I use every essential oil that I can find for sleep deprivation. Taking a holistic approach to my candles is very expensive— organic essential oils can cost upwards to $50 for a 2oz bottle! However, learning about natural healing powers of essential oils compared to the cost of medication is priceless. I took the simple notion of our five senses and honed in on our sense of smell and how powerful it is. 

How did your divorce motivate you to push forward with your business—what was going through your mind at the time?

I was in survival mode. I had my daughter in (still is) private school, student loans, a car note, and rent that I was solely responsible for. I was determined to not allow the effects of my divorce to change my daughter’s lifestyle in any way. Before having my daughter I would always say to myself that if and when I had a child one of my goals was to put my child in private school, where the class sizes were smaller and I knew that my child would receive top notch education. Additionally, I wanted to afford to take my daughter on nice trips around the world, expose her to life beyond Miami, Florida. Having my own business has granted me the opportunity to do just that. Her Father is active in her life and we co-parent well. I also never wanted to lean on “child support” to finance our lives so I prayed, and prayed some more, then God gave me the idea and drive to work towards small business ownership.

What advice would you give to other women who are going through a divorce and concerned about their financial independence?

Always save for that rainy day because it’s coming! It might not come in the form of divorce; it could be a death, the loss of income, your mate could be incarcerated...either way life must go on and bills must be paid. My ultimate goal is to retire from my local government job at the age of 45 and work solely for myself—which is why I find it important to put money into my employer’s deferred compensation program and 401k match program. I take it a step further and suggest that women put away even more money into an additional high yielding savings account in the event that she becomes the sole provider for her family. 

What has your 9-to-5 taught you about being your own boss?

I've worked in my current career field for over 11 years. I've just gotten into a position where I can be home with my daughter every night. Becoming my own boss was liberating. I am a Virgo, so I am a leader by nature and having my own businesses has been gratifying to my soul. I not only have a candle business but I've helped my daughter start her own lipstick line—CamrynRene’ Cosmetics; I have my very own track club—Honest Runners of North Miami, where my team and I coach the fundamentals of the sport of track in field to children between the ages of 6 to 18. Being my own boss has shown me that I can work 24/7 on my own business. Now I'm ready to kick the door down on my current job!

Is there anything particular we can expect from Soulful by C2 during the 2018 holiday season?

I’m launching an all natural anti-aging skincare line. Also, I will have fall scented soy candles too.

What advice would you give to someone like you, who has an idea, but is scared to take the first step to launch?

Look fear in the eyes and just go for it! Even if no one believes in your ideas in the beginning, work at it until you make every doubter and naysayer a believer. And of course pray—pray over your business and every business idea that you may have. I would also advise someone to be prepared for the haters because people will hate before they support. That’s the sad truth of the reality of being a Black business owner.


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If you don't feel inspired and empowered by Charona's story, you might want to check your perspective. As Black women we are so strong yet so vulnerable. Charona's story is a reminder that we truly have to go through what we have to grow through. Proud to learn how she started and wishing continued success into 2018 for all of her endeavors! 

Hueful stories for you.

starting over

 CHS Birthday Bonus Pack

What does it mean to start over? This is a question we all will ask ourselves multiple times in our lives. Regardless of what hat you wear—woman, mother, sister, friend, entrepreneur— it isn't the easiest question to answer. When my former co-founder Jacque and I started blackbox we envisioned a subscription box filled with products made by Black makers, creatives, and entrepreneurs. We wanted to see a representation of ourselves and our community in the products that we all use daily or the ideas we all consider at some point in life.

About 8 months ago, blackbox took a hiatus. In that time, Jacque has moved on to fully focus on her growing family and now—rebranded— myblackbox co. is solely a content platform for Black business owners. I'll continue sharing your stories and showcasing what makes you unique to people who want to learn, try, and fall in love with the hundreds of different options available when it comes to beauty, food, fashion, home, and art.

There was so much work and excitement tied into what Jacque and I started with the subscription box service. I know she loved what we were able to bring to you each month for the full year the service was available. I don't doubt you'll see more from Jacque as entrepreneurship is in her DNA.

What can you expect now?

Stories. Original and curated content. An outlet. A platform. A safe space to embrace something other than the status quo. The myBOB stories will continue. Curation of content from others will continue. Businesses owned by Black creatives and makers will forever be given an outlet with myblackbox co. We're all a part of a platform and a movement that isn't stopping any time soon. With the limited number of safe spaces we have in this world, in this country, I hope to continue to bring surprise, intrigue, appreciation, and empowerment through the content shared from myblackbox co.

want to be a part of this?

Easy. Reach out via the contact page. Whether you're a bare-bones, newly started or finally getting your legs under you Black owned business, I would love to hear from you. And for those who are supporters who have not started—or are inching towards, Black owned businesses please also reach out. The more empowerment we give and share, the better the stories and experiences.

Lastly, before blackbox focused on being your box full of hue. Well, now myblackbox co. is focused on hueful stories. What does yours add to the fabric of Black entrepreneurship?

Brittinee

Founder & Marketing Director

inside the box: February 2018

this month is all about love

The month of February is Black History Month and also a very commercialized time for Valentine's Day. As we get swept up in expressing our love to everyone during this time, it is important to remember there's no greater love than self-love. We provide our best love to others when we love and take care of ourselves.

Inside the Box is your look at our curated collection for the month. You'll learn a little more about our thoughts, selection process, and featured businesses.

As always, make sure to share your unboxing photos and videos by tagging #myFEB18blackbox. We love sharing your discovery experience!


february blackbox included:

Southern Girl Granola - Cranberry Granola (not pictured): The biggest part of self love and taking care of yourself is eating healthy. This sweet, yummy granola allows you to eat healthy and be satisfied. We wanted to include something that could be eaten on the go or enjoyed during a quiet moment at home. Creator Erika and Southern Girl Granola has a variety of flavors including Original, Cranberry, Dark Chocolate and Sweet Potato.

The Caramel Girl Collection - Land of Milk & Honey Soap: Owner Tamica of The Caramel Girl Collection, reminds us to love the skin we're in, with her natural bath & body collection for your skin, face and hair. We love that she has items for the men and even candles, too! A good bar of soap that compliments your skin can be hard to find. The Land of Milk & Honey soap was a perfect choice for this month's collection and we love the scent.

Art & Ambition - Follow Your Calling Print: This beautiful print by Addie, creator of Art & Amibition, is an excellent reminder that we were given talents and dreams for a reason and it is our best interest to follow our callings to live out our purpose in this life. Addie's drawings are classy, motivational, and showcase Black women in their elegance. The Art & Ambition collection contains art prints, travel mugs, planners, notebooks, notecards and more.

ILMB Fitness - Love Stayput Headband: Another piece of self-love is taking time to exercise. The Love Stayput Headband is a perfect accessory to your workout outfit. It keeps hair in place so you don't have to worry about it interfering with your get fit plans! Owner LaMonica, is a personal trainer and and has a fitness collection to match. The fitness wear includes sports bra, workout pants, t-shirts and more.

Inclusive Randomness - Black Don't Crack Mirror:  The creative collection from Inclusive Randomness was a fun find for this month's box. We had to include the Black Don't Crack mirror as a bold reminder to ourselves and others that we were built to last. Check out Inclusive Randomness, owned by Nzingah, which has a variety of t-shirts, bookmarks, buttons, mirrors and other great items.


We hope you enjoyed learning about this month's featured businesses and stay tuned for what we have in store for March, our 1 year anniversary box! Have you subscribed yet? Make sure to get your box here.

your box full of hue

inside the box: January 2018

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2018: can't tell us nothing year

We are so glad to make it into 2018 and bring you our first blackbox of the new year. We wanted to start 2018 off with a box packed full of great products. Last year, our official website was launched in January, so this is month marks our first year of operations! It's so exciting to watch an idea be implemented and grow. As always, thank you for rocking with us. We can't wait to see what 2018 has in store, but for now we'll start off showcasing our January 2018 blackbox.

Inside the Box is your look at our curated collection for the month. You'll learn a little more about our thoughts, selection process, and featured businesses.

As always, make sure to share your unboxing photos and videos by tagging #myJAN18blackbox. We love sharing your discovery experience!


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january blackbox included:

DecoArt Manufacturers - Decorative Switch Plate: The creative collection of decorative switch plates, by owner Warren, are a breath of fresh air to your home. We loved the vast variety of plates to choose from that would compliment an array of decor to spruce up any room. These also make great gifts and it was a great find for our January box.

Rock Candy Earrings - I Support Black Business Pin: We wanted to remind our subscribers of our mission with blackbox by including this pin in January's box. By supporting blackbox, you are equally supporting 4-6 other Black-owned businesses on a monthly basis. The I Support Black Business pin by Della, of Rock Candy Earrings, is a simple statement piece that could be worn on your clothing or other accessory or bag. Her collection also includes earrings, buttons and travel cups/mugs.

LaShonetay Art Supplies - Plum Seed Acrylic Paint: We were so happy to find the art supplies of LaShonetay and thought it was a unique find to include in the box. We hope the paint awakens your creative side and could be put to good use. LaShonetay Art Supplies provides a collection of paint colors including light, dark, and melanated tones. Her shop also has paint brushes to get you off on the right foot for your painting masterpiece.

Nostalgia Collective - Remember the Time Card: Raf's collection of greeting cards, fridge magnets, posters, sweaters/t-shirts and more, was an excellent find! It was so hard to choose which item we wanted to feature for this month's box. However, we went with the King of Pop with the Remember the Time card as we transition into the Valentine shopping season for February. Check out the variety of products offered by the Nostalgia Collective.

Hair Brew - Knot Happenin' Detangler: The Knot Happenin' Detangler by Hair Brew was a much needed inclusion for the winter season, especially when our hair is most prone to being dry. This detangler/conditioner smells great and worked well when tested and we wanted to share with you this month. Abenaa's collection at Hair Brew include butters, beard kits, body oils, scrubs, conditioners and more. She's got your full body covered.

Detroit Chips - BBQ Chips: If you've been a monthly subscriber for a while, then you know we love to throw in a good snack. Detroit Chips was a great discovery for the new year and they have a variety of yummy flavors to choose from. We went with the classic BBQ chip for January's box. It's crunchy and flavorful. Make sure to check out Detroit Chips, owned by Michael W.


As our first box of 2018, we hope you enjoyed discovering our first 6 Black business owned made products. Be sure to tell friends and family about blackbox—subscribe for an one-time, monthly or quarterly box here.

your box full of hue.

from the founders: 2017 Recap

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And, 10...9...8...

That's right! 10 months of blackbox, 10 months of endless Black-owned goodness, 10 months as a fully functioning business! We launched our website in January, shipped our first box in March and are wrapping up our first full year in business this December. 

Planning and launching a new business isn't easy, we started building the foundation of blackbox in September 2016. We planned out the logistics of what we were trying to accomplish, built out our website to launch, connected with tons of Black-owned businesses introducing our idea and concept, started a total overhaul of our branding and social media and countless of tasks that we don't have time to mention.

There were many late nights planning, working, building, tweaking and finalizing. There was a late night jam session that lasted until almost 3 am, about a week prior to the launch of our website, to make sure everything was on point and functioning before we opened for business. It was hard. It is still hard. But it is worth it!

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Over the course of our first year in business, we have learned so much. Our brand message and voice has strong legs, and we continue to grow our social and subscriber base. We have certainly learned that growing a subscriber base for a subscription box is not as easy as it looks. Especially when we surprise subscribers monthly with the products being included versus sharing the featured products beforehand.

We recently had our end of the year recap meeting and discussed what worked, what didn't, and what we could improve on and/or change going into the New Year. We will certainly be hard at work with some of the new ideas we want to implement.

As far as the businesses we were able to partner with this year, what a pleasure working with every single one of them! We are proud to discover such quality, diverse work within the Black business community and be able to share them with you in blackbox, on our social channels with our my B.O.B. features, and our extended features on this very blog.

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Some important updates we had during the year were to switch our website provider which allowed us more control of our online presence and improved our look. We also gave our subscribers the ability to manage subscription accounts directly. Our brand awareness has grown significantly since first publishing content across our social channels in September 2016.

We are honored with all the support from our followers and most importantly those who have been able to support us—and the Black owned businesses we feature—by subscribing to blackbox monthly, or by purchasing a one-time box.

We are excited for what 2018 has in store and look forward to seeing you on the other side of the New Year!