5 Reflections On Being a Rebel and an Entrepreneur

On Friday last week, I attended one day of this amazing event, RebelleCon, a lifestyle design conference for entrepreneurial women. Sound fancy? It was fancy — matcha latte shots fancy — wine in a pretty teal can with golden straws fancy — and it was all-around amazing!

As a young, Black entrepreneur, this event really appealed to me as an opportunity to learn some things I've been struggling to figure out on my own, and to meet some like-minded people — those in similar positions to me, and those who've been walking this road much longer. I need community!!

"How could you afford such a fancy, amazing conference, Cheyenne?" I couldn't! I volunteered one day of the event (BAM BUDGET WIN) and — ohhhhh — I’m so glad! Here are few thoughts that really stuck with me post-conference:

Don’t be afraid to start now.

This whole conference was a testament to the power we have when we believe in the things we envision. The women of RebelleCon (Anika and Shannon, y'all amaze me) planned this conference in about 11 weeks. Yes. I’m going to say 11 weeks again. Because 11 freaking weeks. There are 52 weeks in the year and this team of amazing women planned a 3-day conference with over 70 attendees, 9 sponsors, over 15 other major supporters, 12 speakers, and multiple venues in 11 OF THEM. And you know what? I only attended one day, and just that one day totally blew me away.

So yes, that’s why I won’t tell myself “I can’t.” I can. I can! I absolutely can. When you have an idea you’re passionate about, something you know is missing in the world, or someone will appreciate, you just believe you can and you just start. It won't go perfectly, you'll make some mistakes, there will be hard moments, AND it will all be worth it and beautiful, and amazing.

Treat wellness like an investment in yourself, instead of an expense, or damage control.

If you work work work work work without taking care of yourself... you probably already know what happens. It's not sustainable! But then... sometimes feely healthy doesn't feel possible!

With beauty, laughter and grace, Jessamyn Stanley shared what that looked like in her life, going from meltdown graduate student to stereotype-defying yoga teacher. It was not a straight-line journey.

My favorite part of Jessamyn's talk is how she took the idea of going to yoga as simply something you do some weeks to "be healthy" to a practice that can literally shine light on the dark little fortresses we all have inside — walls we create that hide our insecurities and hold us back from seeing ourselves fully and loving ourselves deeply and reaching our goals.

Investing in your physical and mental wellness is investing in your life, and investing in your life is investing in your work. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of title goes before or after your name, you've got to make sure that simple, wonderful, beautiful YOU is well. Because YOU are enough without running yourself ragged for whatever it is you may think you need to run for. Seriously, you are.

It's easy to forget that in a world run by money and status and fine print documents. But those things are man-made. We exist within their framework, but who we are — our worth — those things are far beyond them.

For me, sometimes I literally look in the mirror and I point to myself and I say, “Now you take good care of her, you hear?” It makes me laugh, and it reminds me that I haven’t taken my multivitamin yet. So then I go do that and run out of the door in a mad dash for whatever thing I forgot to put on my calendar.

But seriously, I’ve been trying hard to this year to make some financial and disciplinary investments in my health and wellbeing, from regular yoga to desperately trying to learn how to make myself simple, healthy meals.

You CAN create high-value work and stay grounded and stay accessible to your community.

Pricing has been one of my biggest struggles, literally keeping me awake at night. How do I set my prices? What does it say about me if I charge this much an hour or that much? Will I be undervaluing my peers? Will I be selling myself short? Will I scare off potential clients? Make them feel like I’m not for them? Or cause some organization to have to skimp on something else they really need if they choose me?

Because I’ve been grappling with this for a while, I took the opportunity at RebelleCon to ask my question about charging your worth and supporting your community to Tonya Rapley, founder of My Fab Finance.

Tonya is incredible. Poised, funny, sincere, and down-to-earth. She shared her story — how she left a nonprofit that severely undervalued her, how she'd been featured on a cover of Black Enterprise Magazine, and how suddenly people were asking her to coach them! What to do? She thought, Uhhh, $50 for three sessions? And not long after that, she knew she had to think again. That pricing just wasn't sustainable for her and her family.

As for my question, Tonya answered it really beautifully. It’s about the communication. And I look at it like this: I set my general hourly rate based on the value of the work that I provide. When I talk to clients, I want them to know, This service I’m offering you, it’s really valuable! But I also want my clients to know, If you can’t afford to spend this much on this service right now, I can still be here for you. Let's talk about what it can look like. Both need to be clear.

My work’s value doesn’t change if I do a task for a lower price. The case-by-case process of making it work with the client in front of me is how I can show that I’m accessible to them, that I am here for them, and that I care about them way beyond dollars and cents. Which is how I always hope people receive me and the work that I do. Way beyond dollars and cents.

When we invest in each other’s lives and work instead of competing, we all win.

I’m really not competitive. I played soccer for a few years in elementary school, ran track for less than a year in middle school, and dropped all sports by high school. Wins and losses all kind of rolled off; I’d quickly explain myself out of whichever feeling and move on to working on my latest novel (not joking, I really wanted to be a 16-year old published author, lol).

I get really frustrated with competition, especially in the doula world. I’ve been a part of a lot of meet and mingle events where parents come and interview a handful of doulas. I’ve left some of those events to find an email or a call offering me a job, and I’ve left some of those events to nothing! Because those parents didn’t pick me, they picked someone else.

I mean, it's okay to feel bummed by the loss of a potential job or client, especially when you're really passionate about the work you're doing, and you're working really hard to stay afloat.

What's the best thing for my potential client, anyway? Not only that they hire someone who can do the work, but someone they’re comfortable with and feel connected to. If I don’t fit that latter end, then I didn’t lose anything at all. That client wasn’t mine. They were that other amazing kickass entrepreneur’s.

And how amazing will it be to partner with that entrepreneur on something that neither of you could do alone? We're creators, people. We're not just out here to find work; we're here to create amazing new products and events and services — together!

Win. Win. Win.

There is so much amazing growth and friendship and opportunity yet to be known.

My favorite thing about being in a room of over 70 amazing entrepreneurs is knowing that there are over 70 amazing, inspiring stories all overlapping at that moment, and any one of those stories may intersect with mine at any time! Suspense!

I connected and reconnected with so many people on Friday that my happy little introvert soul could hardly handle it! I left during the last mingling session, drove straight home and hibernated all day Saturday.  

But I have a list of folks I’m planning to reach out to and meet up with real soon — and in fact, I met with one amazing woman, pediatrician Dr. Janet West of MyRVABaby, this morning! 

RebelleCon...? More like... Reb-HELL YES-Con! (Can I do that? Or too much?)

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all those who put together, participated in and supported RebelleCon. And I can't wait for next year when I'll be a speaker! 😂 (JK. Unless it actually happens. Cause you know, who knows!)