my B.O.B.

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 lead 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

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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

my B.O.B. - Divine Luxury

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We were happy to introduce Nikki, owner of Divine Luxury Bath & Body through our my B.O.B. campaign on Instagram! This campaign brings awareness to Black businesses from the owner's perspective. At blackbox we believe it's important to know the vision and purpose behind a business. Through our blog, we can dig deeper into their stories and provide a fuller perspective with you!

After registering her business in February 2014, it wasn't until her daughter asked "Mom, when are you going to start your business? You have all these supplies just sitting here wasting away; JUST DO IT!", that kicked Nikki into gear to just do it, and launch her natural bath & body company, Divine Luxury.


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What was it about bath & body products that made you want to start your own collection and launch Divine Luxury?

I'm a nurturer by heart and I love helping others without expecting anything in return. I've been that way since childhood. There are two things I truly enjoy doing for others, that's preparing a meal for them or making them feel beautiful. I started Divine Luxury Bath and Body because I felt the process would be a lot easier to start and it was my way of giving back to others, especially women. There's something about bath and body products that can change to your mood and put a smile on your face at the same time. 

You mentioned your daughter asked you when you would to start your business after a period of stagnation, what was your response to her?

After registering my business in February of 2014, I stopped. I didn't start creating products or anything. I was still doing some research, but hadn't created anything. One day my daughter came up to me and said, "Mom, you have all these supplies you order for your business just sitting around collecting dust, what are you waiting on...just do it!". At that moment, I said your absolutely right, and I immediately starting working on my bath salt collection. She was the push that got me out of my own way. I was so afraid to actually "start" because I had no clue on how to actually run a "successful" business. But, I moved my feet and I have been going strong ever since she made that statement to me. I'm learning as I go, taking the good with the bad. I'm just glad I STARTED. There's no failure in starting.

How awesome that your husband was your first sale to get the ball rolling. How has your business grown since that first sale?

Yes, having the support from my husband is amazing. To know he has my back while I'm on my entrepreneurial journey gives me a piece of mind because I know he will always keep it 100 with me. Since he made the first purchase in 2014, business has had a steady increase, and honestly, I'm glad it has been growing at a gradual pace. I'm not going to lie, in the beginning sales were very slow and most of my customers were friends. I was afraid that sales would never pick up. However, once I started doing more conferences and events, I was able to introduce my brand to the masses. By doing more shows, it has helped increase sales and brand recognition, which creates lots of return customers. I appreciate everyone who supports Divine Luxury, but the return customers make a huge difference in a brand's success. 

What did you learn from your great grandparents and great aunt as entrepreneurs that has helped you with your business?

Growing up I had relatives who owned sucessful businesses, however, being so young I never asked them questions on how they got started or what things to avoid while owning a business. I just knew I wanted to have something of my own when I got older. Hopefully they are looking down on me and are proud that I'm following my dreams. 

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

My advice to someone who wants to start their own business, is to make sure you research your market and identify what you can offer that no one else is offering. If you can find a mentor in your desired field, that's great. Even if they are not, a business mentor will guide you on not making the same mistakes they did or at least be a great resource for you to share your ideas.  Also, start saving money to fund your business. In the beginning you want to establish your business name, website, photos for your site, supplies, etc. Those things cost money, so make sure you save for them, because I would avoid getting a loan for the longest time. Remember, banks want their money regardless of you selling your product or service. Work on your on personal credit to improve it, if it's not so great, just in case you do want to get a loan. Also, use your free resources like the SBA. They offer tons of free classes and other service to help you grow your business. The last thing I will say is invest in your own personal growth as a brand owner. That means taking a class or attending a paid conference. Once you stop learning, your business will stop growing. Oh, one more thing, surround yourself with people who are moving in the direction you want to go and learn from them. That's it and have fun while you live your dream!!!


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It was such a pleasure learning more about Nikki's journey to launch with her business, Divine Luxury Bath & Body. It goes to show that supportive people and belief in yourself is key when taking a step into the unknown with entrepreneurship. We wish Nikki continued growth and success!

Our discovery is your discovery.

my B.O.B. - Hair Yum

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We were happy to introduce Tosi, owner of Hair Yum through our my B.O.B. campaign on Instagram! This campaign brings awareness to Black businesses from the owner's perspective. At blackbox we believe it's important to know the vision and purpose behind a business. Through our blog, we can dig deeper into their stories and provide a fuller perspective with you!

After her daughter broke out from an expensive hair product, Tosi decided enough was enough. She consulted with her husband, who is a pharmacist, and decided to launch a collection of hair care products that were vegan, with yummy ingredients beneficial to a variety of hair types and textures.


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How has being immersed in your dual Nigerian and American cultures help you become the woman you are today?

I feel I have the best of both worlds. I hustle and know how to survive that to my upbringing. I take cultural aspects from both Nigeria and America and use them to help me solve problems.  Growing up bi-cultural enables me to see things from multiple perspectives and connect to people globally. Hair is universal. I love helping drive the conversation regarding stereotypes of African-American hair. I know what it is like to grow up in a society where girls are forced to shave their heads because natural hair care knowledge was non-existent. I am happy to see in both Nigeria and America perceptions and feelings about natural hair are changing for the better.

After using an expensive hair product, which caused a breakout for your youngest daughter, what can you remember from the conversation with your pharmacist husband for the idea of HairYum?

I remember the conversation like yesterday. I was upset. I was tired. I wanted my daughters to be happy with their hair and the products they use. It was a really simple conversation that took discipline and drive to execute. My girls are why I started HairYum.  I wanted to create a vegan product that was non-toxic and smelled great.  I knew these products would not only benefit my daughters but they would help so many people looking for a better hair products. We were the first company to really focus on vegan hair care for natural hair.

This may be a hard question to answer, but out of your collection, which product is your favorite and why?

I love each and every product in our HairYum collection. I truly cannot pick one over the other. They are each created out of a specific need from our customers and solve a different hair problem. I will say people love our Blueberry Deep Conditioner because the smell is simply divine. Once you open any of our products you will feel like you have walked into a beautiful garden with amazing aromas.

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As HairYum is currently strictly online, how you do outreach in the community to grow your brand and connect with customers?

We connect with our customers all the time. I have a yearly conference for women in business, called Dare 2 Aspire. I attend select natural hair events or meet-ups where I really get to talk hair with my fellow naturalistas. We also have surveys where we ask for feedback from our customers and fans. I am always seeking feedback, whether on social media or when I meet people face-to-face. I love listening to the customer. I believe the customer is always right.

What hair care tip would you like to share with blackbox readers?

Natural hair is fragile and delicate. Treat your hair with care.

As we move into 2018, what plans or goals would you like HairYum to accomplish this upcoming year?

One goal we have for HairYum is to continue to deliver excellent haircare products with outstanding customer service.


We want to thank Tosi for sharing more about her journey of frustration which lead to a great collection of hair care products in creating HairYum. The Blueberry Deep Conditioner was featured in our October box, take a peek here. We wished HairYum continued growth as we go into 2018!

my B.O.B. - ANEBA by Jenn

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We were happy to introduce Jennifer, owner of ANEBA by Jenn through our my B.O.B. campaign on Instagram! This campaign brings awareness to Black businesses from the owner's perspective. At blackbox we believe it's important to know the vision and purpose behind a business. Through our blog, we can dig deeper into their stories and provide a fuller perspective with you!

During the month of finals in April 2016, Jennifer was inspired by her passion in fashion when an idea to design authentic Kente chokers came to her. Determined to get started, she designed her website, procured a year's worth of supplies, found a manufacturer, built her team and fully launched ANEBA by Jenn in one month!

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Wow you are studying Mechanical Engineering! That is a vast difference from designing an authentic Kente choker line. Do you plan to work in your studied field when you finish school?

I actually currently work for the City of LA as a student engineer and I have done a few different things in my "career" field application wise that I couldn't have pictured in a lecture hall. It took this internship for me to understand that the idea of me doing both or having an interest in both isn't so far fetched. There are more similarities between a designer and an engineering than you'd immediately think of. They both fulfill a need/demand for their customer and above all they both are problem solvers. The only difference is their approach in problem solving. A designer problem solves from a more artistic/abstract perspective, where an engineer takes a mathematical/scientific approach in this same task. But in the end, they both create to fulfill a need.

As of now, I do not plan on working in my studied field when I graduate, but who knows, let's see what God has in store for me.

In one month you started and launched your business, what has happened for Aneba since launching?

Well since then, we have continued to scale, however, there has been ups and downs like any new business. We ended up in Urban Outfitters in just 6 months of business so I'd say recognition from such a well-known brand was reassuring. We have worked with talented people and have upcoming collaborations with people we are very excited about (stay tuned!!). Overall, I'd say its been a journey.

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What business advice have your parents given you, being that they both own their own successful businesses?

I don't really talk to my dad much about my business, but I can say I learned discipline from him in watching him deal with his. My mom is pretty much my business partner now. She's been my mentor throughout and has allowed me to make mistakes and figure it out on my own, while along side me the entire time. A huge part of ANEBA's success I owe to her. She told me it would be difficult, frustrating, sometimes I'd want to quit, I'd fight with my team, etc.; I did all that and more! Lol, but we are still here and we don't plan on going anywhere, anytime soon.

What advice would you give another entrepreneur interested in launching a fashion accessory line?

GO FOR IT! I encourage you to pursue your every dream..every single one of them, no matter how outrageous it may sound to other people. Just understand that people may not see what you see immediately and they will discourage you. Some of your "friends" will stray from you, you may lose some people through this new venture, you will cry, you will be frustrated, you will have many wins and losses because starting and running a business is a full time job and a full time investment. Just remember it's okay! Just don't let those people influence you and turn you into one of them. No matter what.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your 10-year business plan? What plans do you have for Aneba in the near future?

LOL, I have a lot of plans for ANEBA, but we'll just have to wait and see! Haha.

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How exciting to dig deeper into the quick launching of ANEBA by Jenn and learn more about Jennifer's journey. We wish her much success and growth as she continues to build her business!

Our discovery is your discovery.