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!)


3 Reflections From Black Girl In Om Self-Care Sunday

This all started when my friend Nadiya tagged me in a Facebook post for a Yoga + Self-Care for Women of Color workshop, saying, "Roadtrip?" The workshop title had me immediately leaning toward yes. Roadtrip? That could be iffy. Depended where to. Atlanta, GA? Huh. That's what? A 7/8 hour drive? Yeah. From then, all I could think was yes. Absolutely. Of course. Why not? How not?

The workshop was an event held by Black Girl in Om, a collective founded by Lauren Ash (@hellolaurenash) promoting holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color. Making the trip to Atlanta to attend was well worth it. I feel I've been processing the meaning and power of that space ever since. And here are my reflections:

photo credit: Deun Ivory (@deunivory)

There aren't enough spaces for Black women created by Black women.

I've attended self-care events before. I've been invited to several tables and spaces created to provide safe space for Black people to process or express or pray about whatever issue. These spaces were often created by people who are not of color themselves, sometimes they incorporated one or two Black people, sometimes they were initiated and led by Black people. Yet I almost always found myself one of the only few Black people in attendance.

I'm not making a value judgment. I'm not saying those other events were worthless or of any less worth at all. But I am saying that it is an entirely different kind of experience to attend an event made with Black people in mind by Black people with Black people.

Those spaces created for Black people by non-Black people, at the end of the day always felt more like learning sessions for the white folks in the room than comfort for me.

Have you ever entered into a room and — you can almost hear the whir of your working mind louden — as you consider the size of your hair, the width of your hoop earrings — When you told that man your university... why did he ask "all four years"? — what to do when all eyes turn on you after someone makes a tasteless joke or ignorant comment?

In this room I knew there were experiences I could share, if I wanted to, and no eyebrows would raise, no one would cough, avert their eyes, fall into a tangible uncomfortable silence, or say something that I would then have to respond to with a kind, even-tempered, thoughtful, educationally-minded defense.

And that felt so peaceful.


I'm not alone.

How strange is it that we all have these experiences of feeling so utterly alone in our fears, anxieties, insecurities, weaknesses, or rough life seasons?

How is it that I can still be surprised when I see another woman express similar feelings to those dark ones that I have felt? How have I not learned by now that other people are made of the same stuff as I am?

And then what is it about hearing that someone else has been where you have been or is also where you unfortunately find yourself as well — what is it that provides immediate ease — or if ease isn't quite the right word... simple pause?

My mind quietly rolls through assurances for the woman before me, eagerly lists the things about her I see as beautiful, kind, desirable, capable of encouraging her. I believe entirely that she can win her battles and achieve even greater vibrancy than I already find that she has.

And then my mind quietly suggests, You too, you know.


My mind loves my body.
My body loves my mind.


You can't see me in any of the pictures to the left but I was there in this exact session — both my friend Nadiyah and I. We took the same shapes and I imagine we wore the same expressions at some point or another.

Hip opening has been the mind-body connection that I have felt the most since picking up with my yoga practice in the past 5 or so months. When I fold myself into a widespread child's pose, I imagine the space that I'm created with my body opening up the doors to dusty back rooms of my inner self. I imagine windows being wiped clean, light streaming across wooden floors, the tips of long-forgotten plant curling upward.

I've struggled with anxiety all my life. In my most difficult days of college I distrusted both my mind and my body so much. I expected them to betray me. Fear and confusion surrounded so much of my everyday life.

I'm seeking a more balanced, intentional and healthy connection with my mind and my body these days. Because I don't think they're out to get me anymore. I just think I need to know and take care of them more intentionally.

7 Apps I Use Everyday And How They Won My Heart

I'm on my phone a lot and I am not a fan of selfies, so what do I do with all that screen time? Pretty much everything. I'm talking tracking my work hours, tracking my sleep, listening to amazing music/podcasts, even saving money everybody! While I'm working, sleeping and listening to amazing music and podcasts! Without any further delay, you're welcome:

 

NPR One

When I wake up in the morning I roll over, tell Alexa to stop making all that noise, and turn on NPR One (Life Hack: Want to listen to stuff on your phone in the shower? Just put it in a ziplock plastic bag! *Learned that trick at the geothermal pools in Iceland*). 

NPR One is like the Pandora of public radio. It learns what kinds of stories I'm interested in hearing, so now it plays a lot of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me (as you can see) and Code Switch and other radio productions I find interesting. 

My only complaint is that I can't tell it what I do not like, so I keep getting these stories about bug science and I just don't want to hear anymore about the dietary habits of beetles, you guys.

 
 
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Afterlight

This is my favorite mobile photo-editing tool! If you like my Instagram feed, you like Afterlight. There are so many quality filters in here, and a couple in particular just fit my aesthetic perfectly.

You can actually create your own filters in Afterlight, it's this feature called Fusion. But I have such an established rhythm in this program that I haven't used it. Plus I like to have room to tweak. What is my rhythm you ask? All I'll say is, I love the depth of shadows, and I love the pop of light, and I love my white space. :]

I've tried a lot of other photo-editing apps. Nothing's ever topped Afterlight for me.

 
 

Spotify

I've been asked many a time why I use Spotify versus Pandora, iTunes, or Soundcloud and it comes down to the playlists.

Spotify is so on point with delivering me new music I really enjoy from artists I've often never heard of before (totally just sounded like a commercial) with my personalized Discover Weekly playlists. I like that I can download my playlists and listen to them offline. And I also really like the playlists Spotify puts together, like Soul Coffee. And the Artist Radio playlist for Andra Day. Ah, perfection.

I pay for Spotify of course. I figured I'd want to do that with whatever service I used, to avoid the ads and get all the features. When it's the same price as Netflix, and I use it everyday (like Netflix, too), it's worth it.

 
 

Podcasts

You already know I love listening to podcasts, whether about major issues happening today, or birth and motherhood, or anything honestly.

And where do I go to find my podcasts? The iTunes Podcast app. Sort of anticlimactic, I know. It's probably already on your phone just sitting there sadly, unused or underused. And it could easily become one of the favorite parts of your day!

Podcasts is a simple app. You choose what podcasts you want to subscribe to and new episodes pop up automatically in your feed. You can download them for offline listening, too! So take it with you all over!

 
 

Digit

Here's the one you've all been waiting for. How do I save money while I go about my regular day? Digit.

Digit puts aside small amounts of money from my bank account each day. It's smart about it, too. It alters the amount of each day's savings based on what's in my account, and what I tell it to do. And it sends me text updates sometimes. That's the most fun a text about money has ever been!

I have it on an average savings mode, but I can tell it to save more or less at a time, or that I have a specific goal to meet by a certain time and it'll calculate how much to put aside daily. TECHNOLOGY IS THE BEST.

 
 

Toggl

As an entrepreneur who bases her pricing on how long it takes to complete various projects, tracking my time is really important! And tracking time in writing is just really tedious and inefficient. It's a lot easier for me to remember that I'm tracking time on my phone than in my notebook.

I have both the desktop and mobile app versions of Toggl. Whenever I start working, I just start that project's timer and let it go until I'm done! It's beautiful to be able to look back at my week (and month!) and see where all my time went.

 
 

Sleep Cycle

About a year ago I started getting curious about my sleep health. I've always had a hard time falling asleep, so I wanted to track different things I did before bed and see how they affected my sleep quality. Did I sleep better if I had a banana before bed? If I did yoga? If I walked a lot that day?

I've now used this app for over 365 days! I can go through and see what my average amount of sleep time has been for the year, what my resting heart rate is, and what my nightly sleep cycle tends to look like too.

Curious, too now? The app is free, though I did eventually pay a one-time cost to upgrade and get all the features. I've found it really useful! I have some exercise goals now that I'm basing off of this data!

 
 

BONUS: Countable

Staying politically engaged is not a question in my mind, it's a necessity. Countable is my favorite of the 3 apps I discovered this year that keep you politically engaged. I wish I could honestly say that I do check it every single day. But I do my best to keep up to date and on top of what my representatives are up to.

I also use it to check out other reps who aren't from my area. When someone was bad-talking Auntie Maxine Waters, I used it to look at her most recent votes and confirm with my own research that she's not just talking the talk, she's making the votes that count, too.

Seriously, get Countable.

 


What apps are a part of your daily routine? Tell me about them in the comments below!


My 3 Biggest Challenges as a Self-Employed Creative and How I Approach Them

There are some things about being your own boss that prove challenging. As a creative, I've tended to not want to get in the weeds. Now I have to! Here's how I approach it.

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MY APPROACH
With only 24 hours in a day, I have to organize my time to stay on top of my projects. When I'm tempted to create strict schedules, I remind myself that as long as I'm intentional, there's no reason to try to fit into someone else's mold.

I work great in early morning and late night hours (huh, not typical office hours, look at that). So I plan to set aside some of those hours

every week to work on my projects. That said, I don't dawdle during the day, either. 

During the day, I tend to work better with background noise and/or non-distracting company (go figure!). I have a favorite coffee shop where I go to work sometimes, and a close friend with a similar schedule to mine who I meet up with for mutual work space other times. There's just something about having other people working around me that really keeps me grounded in the task at hand.

One way I'd like to take my time management skills to the next level this year is to plan ahead more. For example, I need to start planning blog posts. Right now I handle this in a sort of, "let's see what I think of as I think of it" way, and that's just not sustainable!

So stay tuned for more on that.


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MY APPROACH
I have learned SO MUCH about pricing and saving money since I started my business.

First off, taxes. Oh man. I'm getting professional help with my taxes this year, and gladly! But there are still things I need to know to keep up with this cost throughout the year.

Self-employed individuals are "double-taxed." Because we work for ourselves, we are taxed as employers and as employees. I didn't realize this until late in the game. Womp womp. Now that I know, I work this cost into my pricing quotes. 

Pricing itself has come with a learning curve. On the one hand, it's important to me that my services are accessible. I want to be able to provide high-quality services to nonprofits, small businesses and individuals both young and wise, just starting and well established, tight-budgeted and big-budgeted.

I also want my clients to understand the value of the services that I provide. And I want to value my own work appropriately!

I know that the prices of my services set a tone for how I perceive the value of my work, as well as for how accessible my clients perceive my services to be for them.

So I often approach pricing by asking myself these questions:

"How much do I spend each month? What do I need to earn to pay my bills, eat, save, etc.?" 

"What do I need to be saving for? What do I want to save for to grow my business / take care of myself this year?"

"What are the industry standards for this service? What are the lows and highs?" 

"How should my experience level/skill level impact my pricing?"

"What would I be able to pay, if I were in my client's shoes? Now? When I started my business?"

"How can I make this [service] cost more manageable?"


In asking myself these questions I feel like I walk this odd tightrope of confidence and humility, with a dash of self-discipline.

Direction from questions like these have led me to raise my prices since I started my business. Meanwhile my commitment to accessibility has led me to provide payment plans and offer discounted services on a case-by-case basis.

Firm personal budgeting makes a huge impact on my pricing, too. If I were a big spender (or didn't keep track of my spending), I wouldn't be able to offer my prices. As a side note, I use an app called Digit to save a little everyday and I LOVE IT! Every little bit certainly counts.

Overall, my hope is that as I continue to work, I'll cultivate a business presence and culture that people know as high-quality, high-value, people-minded and approachable.


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MY APPROACH
Word of mouth was the name of the game for pretty much my first 9 months of being a true business entity (huh, 9 months, I guess this month is sort of my business birth month - too corny?).

When I started my LLC, I had a community of people who knew me, believed in me, and happily hired me (especially at my super low "I'm brand new" prices!). I'm truly grateful to each of them for the priceless support, and the opportunities to use and grow my skills.

Now that I'm approaching my first full year of business, word of mouth advertising isn't enough to grow my client base. So I lean on these items/practices to promote growth.

My Website. This website and blog are major ways I showcase my work and get connected to people who are interested in hiring me (maybe you're even one of them, how exciting!).

Social Media. I'm on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and e'rything. I created an official business account for Facebook, but for

everything else I mesh my business and my personal life together. This is an intentional choice that I made, because who I am is a part of my business brand. It's a package deal, people!

Paid Advertising. I don't do much, but I do some, particularly on Facebook and Instagram. This is an area in which I'm still very much learning and exploring. And I look forward to having some lessons to share this year!

Diversifying. As I'm sure you're aware, I'm not a "do just one thing" type of person. I'm a doula and a designer, and right now I nanny to make sure ends meet, too. As I look ahead, I want to narrow my scope so that doula work and designing are the only items on my plate.

That said, I've gotten some design clients out of the doula world, and some doula clients out of design clients! So having my hand in a few pots certainly hasn't hurt!

Networking. The fancy way of saying "meeting other people." This is another area in which knowing myself is really important.

I'm an introvert with a deep aversion to mingling. So I don't attend large networking events often (in fact, I usually avoid them).

However, I do reach out to other professionals in and outside of my area. Not only have I learned a lot this way, I've made some really great friends, too!


That's it for this week! Do you have something in your business toolbox that can help address any of these challenges? Tell me about it below!

10 Box Subscription Brands To Give You Life

It's been a rough few weeks (or months, depending upon how you look at it) for many of us. On one end, during rough times it can be nice to unplug, disconnect and just surround ourselves with the simple things. On the other hand, there are businesses that send you boxes full of awesome stuff like cookies these days!

I'm not advocating going crazy here, just saying, if you're able to swing it, here are some neat ways you might be able to treat yourself (or give to someone you love) this year.

The Cravory
Who would not want cookies mailed to your door? That's what The Cravory does! They have cookie subscriptions! An ongoing subscription of 12 cookies a month starts at about $25 a month. Personally, I couldn't see feeling good about doing this more than two months in a row for myself, but a cool gift idea though!

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Bestowed
Already feeling unhealthy thinking about those cookies? Bestowed might be more your speed. This box is packed with the healthy foods and snacks you pass by in the organic grocery store aisle. Starts at $20 a month and goes down if you commit to longer. So not bad for you, price-wise either!

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CauseBox
CauseBox sends out quarterly boxes of products from socially conscious brands, valued at over $150 per box, yet costing you about $50 if you commit to a year. So you're investing in brands with a conscious AND getting $100 off on their stuff! That's actually pretty darn awesome.

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OnyxBox
Fellow Black girls, unite! OnyxBox is a beauty subscription box for Black women! So if you've been tired of wandering the aisles of Sephora and Ulta feeling too-melanin for it all, now you can reach into the mailbox and be catered to exactly as you are, starting at $25 a month, of course. Which hey, that's not bad. I've spent way more than that in one reluctant Sephora trip.

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Book of the Month
Okay, not a box subscription, but a book subscription and I'm just going to say it counts. Each month Book of the Month selects 5 books, and you pick one, and they send it to you, and you read it, and repeat! If you love books and you need to curb your bookstore expenses this might be the thing for you! First month is $5, then $15 a month after that. Which woah! That sounds great!

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Call Number
Call Number is an actual box subscription, with books, celebrating Black literature and authors! Each month you get a book and 4-5 bookish and library-related items (intrigue!). Starts at $35 a month, which is a little pricey for me, honestly, but I could definitely see giving it a try!

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Bump Box
Are you a mama-to-be? Or do you know one? This monthly subscription service caps out at 9 months (I wonder why? 😂), and it actually customizes your box to your estimated due date! What! It's not just about sending mommy-stuff, but healthy products actually relevant to your stage of pregnancy. Starts at about $40 a month ladies.

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PopSugar Must Have
A box of fashion, beauty, home and more. I personally feel like this is a box for ladies who love ELLE magazine or other magazines like it. It's kind of high-end-ish, what I imagine to be super "in." In any case, it's over $100 in value each month and starts at about $40 a month. I think this makes a great gift for a friend with expensive taste.

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My Curls Understood Box
Gather around curly ladies! Take a super short hair quiz and then sit back and wait for your box of $40+ of products for hair just like yours! Send your feedback and they promise to keep the good curls rolling. Cheesy? I don't curl. 😂 (I'm hilarious.) Personalized boxes start at $27 a month!

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Faithbox
Is the Christian faith a part of your self-care? Faithbox is meant to inspire Christian living through devotionals, seasonal prayers, introducing you to socially conscious products, and more. They partner with Rice Bowls to provide three meals to hungry kids per Faithbox purchase. Their guiding scripture: "In doing good, let us not fail." Galations 6:9

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Did I miss one or two? Tell me in the comments below!