Ariel Belgrave is busy helping people take things to the next level. She's the programs director at /dev/color, a nonprofit startup working to advance the careers of black software engineers. /dev/color helps members network and gain knowledge and support that helps them to succeed in the industry.
Belgrave is also the Founder of Gym Hooky, a wellness brand that helps people to lead healthy lifestyles even with their busy schedules.
Before she started working at /dev/color, she spent more than 4 years at JPMorgan, where she developed and managed employee programs across 40+ countries, focusing on many different areas, including diversity, philanthropy and more.
We chatted about her daily routine, how she balances everything and how to transition from one career to another.
Get to know Ariel further before she presents at AfroTech this November, and read our interview with her below:
Blavity: As the programs director at /dev/color and the founder of Gym Hooky, what does a typical day in the life look like for you?
Ariel Belgrave: My day starts with the beeping of my alarm clock at 7:50 a.m. After hitting the snooze button for 10 minutes, I hop out of bed to start my day. My morning routine is pretty consistent on weekdays (to ensure I prioritize my self-care time!). From 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m., I exercise in my living room for 20-25 min, listen to a 10 min Christian meditation, shower and get dressed. By 9:00 a.m. I'm ready to chow down on a healthy breakfast meal. I typically meal prep on Sundays so I have quick meal options during the weekdays. I pack my lunch and am out the door by 9:40 a.m. My 15-minute walk to work is Gym Hooky time. I publish a post (healthy living tip, fitness advice, or a recipe) on social. I also use this time to engage with followers who’ve commented on past posts or have messaged me with questions. I am in the office by 10 a.m. and get settled at my desk. I look at my calendar for the week, check upcoming tasks, write a to-do list for the day and answer emails. When 11 a.m. hits, my founder, Makinde Adeagbo, and I head to a conference room to follow-up on any takeaways from prior meetings and discuss the status of what we are working on in order to set priorities for the week. We then connect with the /dev/color team at 11:30 a.m. to check in on the major projects each team member is assigned for that month. We go around the room and provide a status of each of our projects. If there are any projects that are a concern, we help the team member brainstorm solutions, offer help, etc. From noon to 6 p.m., my day consists of meetings, drafting plans for our 2017 programming, connecting with companies hosting our Q4 and 2017 events, chatting with members, etc. At 6:30 p.m. I head home. Around 7-8 p.m., my fiance, Quinnton, and I cook dinner, recount our day, catch up on our favorite TV shows and get our fix of social media humor. We switch gears around 9:15 p.m. to work on personal projects and catch up on our personal emails. More recently, our evenings have been spent brainstorming and pinning for our wedding in 2017. I am a night owl, so lights are typically out by 12 a.m.
Blavity: As /dev/color works with more engineers and continues to build and see success, what do you think has been the most impactful moment for you working with black software engineers? Any specific moments that made the hard work you’ve put in all make sense?
Ariel Belgrave: As a small team, we spend a lot of our time behind our laptops making the magic happen — building partnerships, planning events, managing our program initiatives and supporting our members. What I look forward to the most are our monthly events, where we are in the presence of our members. I am moved every time I am in a room filled with our talented and driven black software engineers. Why? Well, this is a sight that is rare to see in the SF Bay Area. Simply knowing that our team’s efforts create moments like these are a constant reminder that the hard work we have put in to build this community is necessary. Equally as important as seeing the members is hearing from them. Hearing that they’ve never have been in a room with THAT many black software engineers before. Hearing that being a part of /dev/color has brought meaningful change to the way they approach goal setting and career growth. Hearing that they are excited to hold one another accountable to achieve ambitious goals. And hearing that we have inspired them to help members of our community succeed.
Blavity: I read that you originally planned to be a doctor before pursuing your current career. How did you ultimately decide to make the change, and what advice would you have for someone who is afraid to take a leap in their career?
Ariel Belgrave: That is correct. I entered my first year at Boston College convinced that i wanted to be a doctor. I really enjoyed biology and learning about the human body. As an adolescent, I had romantic notions on the life of a doctor. The self-fulfillment and gratification that comes with being a healer appealed to me. I thought that this profession was filled with glory, prestige and honor. After my first semester in college, I had a change of heart. I was no longer passionate about pursuing a career in the medical field. I realized that my career decision was limited by what i knew of success to be — pursuing [a] profession that will make me money. I knew very little about aligning my career with my passion, my values and my interests. BC’s core classes and internships allowed me to explore the different disciplines and career options that I didn't know existed. By the end of my senior year, I knew that I belonged in the world of business.
When taking a leap of faith to pursue a passion or a more fulfilling career, it’s normal to have doubts and hesitations. Your mind immediately thinks about all the potential risks involved with stepping into the world of the unknown. I typically challenge folks to replace their fear of the unknown with a sense of desire for what’s to come — a desire for their passion. Take 5-10 minutes every day and visualize it. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Who is around you? When they can stay in that beautiful energetic state that is desire, they are more likely to cultivate their passion with ease!
Blavity: What was your experience breaking into the tech space? When did it happen and how did you make it work?
Ariel Belgrave: It was quite the journey, but I learned a ton during the process! Prior to /dev/color, I worked on Wall Street as the Global Head of People & Communications in the Finance sector. After 4.5 years, I was ready for a change. I longed to be in an environment where I was challenged to think outside the box, encouraged to build, and pushed to take risks. The tech industry was an environment that sparked my interest. I was amazed at the amount of creative energy bouncing around. I was inspired by the innovative solutions created by founders making an imprint in the tech industry.
However, I needed to figure out what I wanted to do next and how I was going to successfully seize the next opportunity. I started attending local meetups and events to build a presence in the tech industry and meet people who had similar career paths. I researched non-technical roles to understand which ones best aligned with my work experience and skill sets. I lived lean to prepare for a potential pay cut. I asked myself key questions to ensure that my desire to leave the industry was a phase.
After a six month job search, I officially took the leap from Wall Street in February of this year, moved from New York to California, and began my journey as /dev/color’s first employee. It is a blessing to be a part of the efforts to move the needle in tech diversity! I recently published a blog post recounting my leap from Wall Street to join a tech startup in Silicon Valley. I share raw details about why I left Wall Street and how I officially transitioned. I hope for it to be a source of inspiration for readers in a career rut!
Blavity: With Gym Hooky you help women incorporate healthy habits into their already hectic lives. This is a feat that many people feel is impossible, so what advice do you have for someone who wants to incorporate more time taking care of themselves and their health but feels like they already have a jam-packed schedule?
Ariel Belgrave: Absolutely — sharing this type of advice is my forte! I know this challenge all too well. There are many ways that women can live a healthy, active lifestyle with a packed schedule. One bit of advice that I will give today is to:
Sneak exercise into your daily routine. Exercise is a key contributor to health and happiness. Moving more can lower the risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and more. The good things is women can incorporate fitness into their life without having to change their routine. Here are a few adjustments they can make to their everyday lifestyle that will double as exercise:
Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators
Walk or jog instead of driving shorter distances
If you have kids, run around and play with them rather than just watching
Walk around the airport during your layover as opposed to just sitting
Ditch the conference rooms and have a walking meeting with your coworker
Squeeze in some sit ups or lunges in while watching T.V. (or during commercials if you can’t be distracted during your favorite show)
Blavity: What’s on the horizon with /dev/color? How about Gym Hooky? What can readers hope to see soon?
We are making exciting moves at /dev/color! We recently hosted our first conference for black software engineers, /dev/color in Motion. It was a full day of learning, sharing, and connecting with peers and leaders shaking up the tech industry. During the conference we announced our seven corporate sponsors, including Uber, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google. With this support, /dev/color will be expanding our A* Program to New York and inviting industry leaders to be members via our Boost Program. We are ecstatic about our 2017 plans for engineers and industry leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York. If you are a black software engineer in the industry, I encourage you to apply! Applications for our 2017 program will be open from October 13th - November 16th.
As far as Gym Hooky goes — I am excited to share that I am working on my first e-book Gym Hooky’s Beginner Guide to Home Workouts! As many subscribers know, I haven’t been to the gym in over 3 years, as I work out in the comfort of my own home. The flexibility of home workouts have allowed me to be in the best shape of my life! In my ebook I will be sharing all one needs to know about building their home gym and well as various exercises and workouts they can do at home. The ebook will be released in January 2017 (sign up on my website to get notified!)
For more from Ariel Belgrave and other game-changers, get your tickets to AfroTech! We'll see you there.
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Unapologetically Us, launched in 2014, is a lifestyle brand and online community designed for black women. In this digital space, the platform is to responsibly inform, foster creativity and engage in thoughtful dialogue. Valerie Robinson is the Founder and Editor-in Chief of Unapologetically Us. Not seeing many safe havens geared toward black women, she decided to create one that is not only reliable, but relatable and genuine. Valerie is an award-winning photojournalist and writer whose work spans multi-generational platforms. Read our interview with her below.
Blavity: Tell us more about why you started Unapologetically Us.
Valerie Robinson: I enjoy writing about real people and real things. Unapologetically Us originally began as a family blog that my husband promised to help me with, but of course he dropped the ball on writing up his posts – lol! He verbally told me everything he wanted me to write for him – who does that?! I then decided to take a different direction and rebrand into a lifestyle resource for women of color. While writing about my family was okay, I strongly believed that there were so many other aspects to target in addition to family life. I noticed while navigating through my 30s that there are not many safe places for women of color to convene and have candid conversations about a broad spectrum of life topics – from society/culture, beauty, relationships, careers, current events and motherhood. I wanted to create an additional space for that.
Hooray! My daughter's school notebooks have arrived from #innovativesupplies! 😍
A photo posted by Unapologetically Us™ (@unapologetic_us) on Aug 20, 2016 at 12:53pm PDT
B: Your blog is one of the few I've come across that deals with parenting (which is vital and underrepresented). What motivated you to cater to parents?
VR: I cater to women from all walks of life, but more heavily toward millennial and GenX women. This is primarily because I am currently walking the walk as a GenX mom, but can also reach back to the millennials and speak from experience on points that might help them gain more clarity.
B: What is your favorite part about the work you do?
VR: I have always had a love of writing and helping others. It warms my heart when a reader sends a message that an article posted resonated with them. I wish that a lot of sites that exist now were up and running in my younger days! I like to speak the truth from a place of love, and Unapologetically Us has truly been a labor of love.
You are enough. . . . . . . #blackgirlmagic #selfworth #lifestyleblog #lifestyleblogger #confidence
A photo posted by Unapologetically Us™ (@unapologetic_us) on Jul 26, 2016 at 8:36am PDT
B: When did you develop a passion for empowering women of color?
VR: I will always be on our side. As a woman of color, I understand firsthand how difficult it is to thrive with so many obstacles against us. I look around at the extreme beauty, talent and drive that we carry and am further emboldened in this purpose. I will consistently affirm that we are enough and that we are in “this thing” together.
All day. Everyday. #unapologeticallyus #unapologeticallyexcellent #blackgirlmagic
A photo posted by Unapologetically Us™ (@unapologetic_us) on Jun 7, 2016 at 6:24am PDT
B: Tell us more about your podcast?
VR: The Unapologetic Podcast is something that I started on a whim, mainly because I had a lot of long-winded things to say that I necessarily didn’t feel like putting into a blog post. I talk about things like current events, business, entrepreneurship, parenting, managing life, events and entertainment. I also wanted a space to speak candidly to my audience so that they can hear my voice and catch all of the recaps and gems I occasionally drop through my ramblings. The podcast is still very young, but I’m hoping to interview guests soon to encourage a more well-rounded perspective on a variety of topics. What you can expect is a raw perspective and I’m not afraid to discuss things that are uncomfortable.
Not at all.
A photo posted by Unapologetically Us™ (@unapologetic_us) on Jul 17, 2016 at 10:33am PDT
B: How does the city you live in influence your work?
VR: I am located in the DMV area (DC, MD, VA), which is the stomping ground for creativity, events and networking. If anything major is happening, you better believe D.C. will be on the list of tour stops! A lot of fellow bloggers also live in the area and we are only a hop, skip and jump from N.Y. I find my location to be pretty central. My target audience of GenXers and millennials are heavily populated in the DMV!
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Frank Ocean is a musical genius, therefore you know his mom is probably equally as dope.
Katonya Breaux recently released a sunscreen for people of color. After becoming fed up with the white film left behind from traditional sunscreen, Breaux created UnSun. The mineral tinted facial sunscreen is SPF30 and includes natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax.
"UnSun was made specifically for people of color representing the beige to dark chocolate tones of the spectrum. The desire to protect our skin from the sun should not mean having to wear foundation in order to cover the white and gray film that's present after the application," Breaux wrote on the site. "UnSun was specifically formulated with a mineral tint to address this concern. Tested on tones that range from olive to the darkest of chocolate, Unsun meets the challenge."
Ya'll hear that?
She's protecting your ash.
Back in 2013, Breaux aired out her frustrations on Twitter.
Can someone make brown sunscreen? Please! Must I look like a clown to protect my skin? #blackfolkburntoo
— katonya breaux (@katonya) May 16, 2013
"Shortly after that, I called a friend of mine in the hair-care business and asked if I could meet the folks at their lab. That’s how the whole process started," she told The Cut.
So excited!! It's here! Coming to you very soon!!!🌞🌞#sunprotectionforall #protectyourskin
A photo posted by Katonya Breaux (@katonya1) on Apr 15, 2016 at 10:14am PDT
UnSun is available for purchase online. Breaux says the line will expand with body and lip products currently in development.
As women of color continue calling on beauty manufacturers to become more inclusive with products catering to darker skin tones, Breaux says companies should be put forth greater efforts in addressing the inadequacies.
"There’s still a great need. There are multiple other brands that really need to get onboard. It will happen. The voices are getting louder, but of course there’s a need."
Yaaas Mother Ocean, yaaas!
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A'Nita E, Blavity Creative Society member and founder of the cooking blog Cuff in Seasons, spoke to us about her passion for creating accessible, healthy and easy-to-make food for millennials. Read our interview with her below.
Blavity: What motivated you to start Cuff in Seasons?
A'Nita E: I was motivated to start when I was in undergrad. My friends and I were eating like garbage. I was like why don't we have a space that can teach us how to cook within a budget with simple but great meals? Why don’t more people in our age bracket have more information about shopping in season, because fresh ingredients are cheaper when you do and have all of that information in one place?
I spent this weekend reflecting and meditating. But it is Sunday and the start of a new week. What's for dinner today? Some spicy shrimp and steak ramen. It's filling, cost effective and will leave you with some lunch for work tomorrow. Recipe coming soon. #love #instagood #seafood #food #foodie #cooking #blavity #blavityfoodie #blackbloggers
A photo posted by Cuff In Seasons (@cuffinseasons) on Aug 14, 2016 at 12:21pm PDT
B: My favorite part about your blog is that so many of the recipes are affordable. Talk to us more about why this is a vital part of your mission.
AE: This is a vital part of my mission because eating healthy can be difficult, money-consuming and time-consuming if you're not paying close enough attention. While it's great to look at recipes that call for ingredients not found in a local grocery store, when you're in college or recently graduated, you're counting your money. With tuition, bills and sometimes taking care of a family, money can be limited. You want to be able to eat well, have something left over and still have your bank account acting like it knows you.
It's the perfect day to try some thai food. Shrimp and pork dumplings with a savory dipping sauce is a great "snack". Try it 😋 #instagood #food #foodporn #foodphotography #love #thai #thaifood #dumplings #nomnomnom #yum #foodie #eeeeeats
A photo posted by Cuff In Seasons (@cuffinseasons) on Aug 10, 2016 at 1:28pm PDT
B: What words of advice/motivation do you have for young black professionals to prioritize cooking and healthy eating in their everyday lives?
AE: I would say to take it one day at at time. Our lives get busy, so don't beat yourself up if you fall off sometimes. What I've learned on this journey so far is that the easiest way to stay on track is to plan during the week and meal prep once or twice during the weekend. It gives you variety during the week and you don't have to wonder what you're going to be eating. I would also say to go outside your comfort zone, try something new that you normally wouldn't get at the store and experiment with it. You can never go wrong with expanding your culinary tastes.
Eating well should NEVER have to make you side eye your wallet or have your bank account giving you the side eye. There's no shame in living great on & stretching a dollar. I try to shop in season for certain vegetables& fruits if I want them fresh. What do you guys do to keep some spare money in your wallet? #food #cooking #budget #eeeeeats #foodgasm #ballin #ballinonabudget #savingmoney #bargain #wallet #foodie #people #peopleofcolor #blackbloggers #black #chef #homecook #publix #breakfast #lunch
A photo posted by Cuff In Seasons (@cuffinseasons) on Jul 27, 2016 at 9:15am PDT
B: Talk to us about what it takes to design and run a successful food blog.
AE: I'm still learning the answer to this every day. It's trial and error . So far, I've learned lots of patience, good photography, and making your readers feel connected and being relatable.
B: How does the city you live in influence your blog?
AE: I'm a southern girl, so being from Atlanta but living in the surrounding area, I crave great comfort food, but I like a lot of different flavors. Luckily, you can find that here. Whether that's an Ethiopian restaurant or one of the farmers markets we have here, you can honestly find just about any and everything you can possibly want to try. However, as a textbook introvert, the city and this blog has influenced me to explore even more and see what else Atlanta and other surrounding cities have to offer.
You can never go wrong with a good sandwich for breakfast. Toast your bread, make an egg white scramble with spinach, pan fry some turkey, add your favorite cheese and start your day! #cuffinseasons #breakfast #food #foodporn #chef #love #sandwich #nomnomnom #turkey #spinach #cheese #healthy #wholegrain #blackbloggers
A photo posted by Cuff In Seasons (@cuffinseasons) on Jul 18, 2016 at 5:22am PDT
Check out Cuff In Seasons, and let us know your favorite recipe below!
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Are you getting the Vitamin D you need? If you spend a lot of time inside or walking downtown where tall buildings block the sun, you might not be. Vitamin D is important for optimal health because it promotes immune system function and the development of strong bones and teeth by regulating calcium and phosphorous absorption. It's nicknamed the sunshine vitamin because it's naturally produced by our skin from exposure to sunlight.
Unfortunately, many people don't get adequate amounts of this vital vitamin, often because of environmental and lifestyle factors like those mentioned earlier. Sound like you? No worries. Today I'm sharing easy ways to get the Vitamin D your body needs:
Tip #1: Get some sun
Vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin, is naturally made by your skin from exposure to sunlight. That's great news! So get out and let the sun shine on you – literally. Sunlight is an awesome natural way to boost your vitamin D levels.
Tip #2: Fill up on fatty fish
Fatty fish like wild caught salmon, macrel and cod are bursting with vitamin D. The cool thing about fish is that it’s super simple to prepare. A sprig of fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice, some olive oil and VOILA! — a healthy and delicious dose of Vitamin D.
Tip #3: Crack open the eggs
Score another point for eggs! Just remember that the vitamin D is found in the yolk so eat the WHOLE EGG. How do you want it — scrambled, sunny-side up, poached or hard boiled? Either way, egg yolks are a yummy source of Vitamin D.
Tip #4: Eat Shitake mushrooms
Shitake mushrooms can be purchased fresh or dried. The key to cooking the dried variety is to soak them in a bowl of boiling water for 20 minutes. After that, they can be sliced and diced to go in a stir-fry, casserole, sauce, etc. Fresh or dried? Take your pick.
Tip #5: Take a quality supplement
A nutritional supplement is another easy source of vitamin D. The key to safe supplementation is selecting a quality product made by a reputable company. It's recommended that adults up to age 70 get a minimum of 600 IU of Vitamin D each day. For those over 70 years old, the recommendation is 800 IU of Vitamin D daily.
Getting the Vitamin D your body needs is easier than you might have thought. Get out, enjoy the sun, have a nice meal and pay attention to your body. You'll thank yourself later!
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If you told us four years ago that we would become Under Armour-sponsored athletes, find fulfilling romantic relationships, best friends, and a far-reaching fitness family all through the internet and social media, we would never have believed you. But that’s exactly what happened.
It all started in November 2013 when, after years of suffering with depression, Alison started a running club to meet other people who might be looking to find meaning on the run. Fast-forward a few years to today, Harlem Run has grown to become a movement of trendsetters, fitness experts and community organizers that create an authentic experience around a healthy lifestyle. Our mission is to empower communities to get fit, and we regularly host 150-250 people on a given Monday or Thursday night who are looking for inspiration, family and connection. Now, we didn't get here alone — it took like-minded, passionate people leading the movement. Amir (co-leader), Kai (co-leader) and Alison sat down recently to uncover the madness behind the movement.
1 . Commitment & persistence
When Harlem Run, aka #TheMVMT, started in November 2013, the group was comprised of a party of one: Alison. Had it not been for her persistence -- showing up every week at the same time and publicizing broadly -- we might not be where we are today. Once members started to join, they adopted the same culture. Alison, Kai and Amir committed to being present no matter the weather or occasion, and we have been rewarded for it with a supportive, loving community that pushes us all to be our best!
Real recognizes real so being unapologetically who we are has been an essential component of making #TheMVMT such a loving and supportive atmosphere. The more open and vulnerable we are with our stories and struggles, the more members are as well. Regulars refer to #TheMVMT as a family.
Harlem Run welcomes people of all abilities, ages, sizes and fitness levels — and it’s free! From a walker to 6-minute-per-mile runner, there is a pace group for you. And no one gets left behind. The inclusive nature of #TheMVMT means that there are absolutely no excuses for why anyone should not join us. Inclusivity means social change.
Harlem Run is fearless when it comes to taking risks. We don’t compete with others, we just create. Host a themed run in costumes? CHECK. Host a holiday run in celebration of Thanksgiving, New Year’s and Christmas? CHECK. Create routes that take members to new parts of town they never knew existed? CHECK. Our boldness has been rewarded with excitement and energy week in and week out.
If we were leading #TheMVMT for fame and fortune, we would have been sorely disappointed. What we do is instead fueled by a passion and commitment to make people better.
Passion is the fuel. Your commitment to creativity will push your vision. No matter what, remain persistent. When you remain true to who you are, it will inspire others to join in. Moments come and go, but movements are eternal.
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Whether you're happy about it or dreading the day, school is about to be in session for many of us. And if you're gearing up for your first year, take some advice I wish someone would have told me:
No one is staring at you.
When you're walking through the cafeteria or on the main lawn, you might feel self-conscious that everyone is staring at you. I promise, no one is staring at you.
You probably won't find a solid group of friends until your sophomore year.
Finding a group of people you mesh well with is no easy feat. Some people might seem like they have a strong group of friends on their second day. They probably won't talk to each other after the third week.
You don't have to go to that party. It's okay to stay home and watch Netflix.
If you hate being in a tight space with hundreds of smelly strangers, it's okay to go back to you dorm room and watch Netflix. Sometimes drinking tea and watching Game of Thrones is a much needed form of therapy after a long week of classes.
Be careful who you give your heart to.
Be selective with the people you let into your inner circle. There are a lot of con-artists in college who will present themselves as lovers.
You do not have to be pre-med.
We can't all be doctors. Take an art or history class. Don't tank your GPA because of a major you think you should live up to but don't care about.
The library is overrated.
Coffee shops and dorm rooms can be some of the most productive places to work. It's important to try different places out to find your niche.
Maintain a good relationship with your parents.
You aren't as grown as you think you are. If you're lucky enough to have sensible guidance, don't be afraid to lean on them for support.
Try things you always wanted to try but never had the chance.
College offers so many opportunities to undergraduate students. If you end up hating something you try, don't do it anymore. But don't miss out on the chance to tackle things you've always wanted to.
You don't have to have a plan.
Your plan is probably going to change anyway. College is a place to experience different subjects, personalities and events. You might fall in love with something (or someone) while you're there and it can alter everything. Be open to change.
If a professor says something racist, it's okay to respond.
If you're sitting in class and your professor says something insulting to your identity, it's okay to respond. If you don't want to respond in that moment, send them an email. They need to respeck your identity.
Your grades are not the only thing that matters.
Grades are important. But so is campus involvement. College is not just about learning in the classroom. Life lessons can occur in the cafeteria, parties and dorm rooms. Don't chain yourself to your desk. Get out and have some fun.
Don't let upperclassmen take advantage of you.
If a senior cuts you in line at the bookstore, tell 'em, "Boy, bye." It's okay to clap back at people who think they can treat you like trash.
There is so much more to college than drinking and partying.
Media portrayals of college are so wrong. College is not just about hooking up. You have access to extreme discounts, take advantage of them! Go to campus lectures, city art museums and new restaurants. Don't feel pressured to chug a beer at 3:00 p.m. on a Thursday.
Don't forget who you are.
Be proud of who you are and where you come from. People will try to make you feel smaller than you really are. If you find yourself feeling this, it's time to change friends.
It's very normal to have a few falling outs with your friends.
Some relationships just don't work out. It's not necessarily your fault. Making and breaking friendships is a part of life.
Find black organizations
There might come a time when a fellow first-year will hits you with a bad joke involving a played out stereotype. That's when you leave and go to a collective of woke black people so you can go off.
College will be a one-of-a-kind experience. Keep these tips in mind and make the most of it!
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Minimalism, a counter-culture to American consumerism, has exponentially grown in popularity in recent years. As a practice, minimalism has some amazing mental and physical health benefits. Check out 11 reasons why you should be a minimalist below.
The less you have, the more you can focus on what matters to you. Minimalism gives you the ability to think about what you own and why you own it.
Less stuff means less waste which means less harm to our planet. Less stuff also means you're more invested in what you buy and own and increases the likelihood that you'll buy products that are good for our planet.
Stuff ≠ Happiness
Minimalism allows you to relinquish the association many of us have with stuff and fulfillment. Your material goods aren't always a reflection of your status or happiness.
Less stuff means more room to breathe — quite literally, according to Dr. Alpen Patel, less clutter can relieve allergy symptoms.
In his book, Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight, Peter Walsh argues that there's a link between weight loss and clutter.
Our stuff demands a lot of time and energy, and the maintenance that comes with cleaning, re-organizing, repairing etc, can eat up a lot of our time. Getting rid of our stuff will inevitably free up our time.
Creating a consciousness around what you own will ultimately lead to developing a consciousness around what you buy, leading to healthier habits around spending.
More minimalism is better for your brain
According to researchers at Princeton University, your brain is less likely to focus in a cluttered environment.
Bothersome clutter can eventually lead to a build-up of stress, but getting rid of your stuff can eventually create more peace of mind.
The intentionality you develop from having less stuff spills over into other aspects of your life, cultivating the habit of increased mindfulness.
Focusing on yourself
Adopting a new philosophy like minimalism shows that you are worth focusing on and that you're capable of developing healthy habits that lead to a better and more improved version of yourself.
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When I'm feeling negative after a bad day or even week, my inclination is to go into a dark room and sit there with some red grapes, a bottle of Moscato and an Enya CD to brood until I feel like coming out. You might relate, but life's responsibilities often don't allow us to take an unlimited amount of time off to get back on track. If you're anything like me, you have to pull it together quickly and move on to the next thing. There's no magic wand to make you feel better during these times, but here are some tips to check yourself and check in with yourself when your feelings start to go south.
Take a deep breath
Do you ever find that when you're getting upset you start to take shorter breaths or even hold your breath? I do! Trust me, when your emotions turn south, they can unconsciously affect your body. If you feel yourself going negative, take slow, deep breaths for at least two minutes and you'll notice the difference in your body. You'll feel calmer, even if you're still upset. Calming yourself is the first step to dealing with whatever is happening in a clear and rational state.
Ask yourself if it's worth it
A lot of times things upset us, and maybe rightfully so, but I always ask myself if it's worth it. Should I really get myself all worked up over this, or is it an external issue that has nothing to do with me? Do I even have control over what's happening right now? The one thing that you always, always have control over is yourself. If a situation is going haywire and things are getting ugly, you don't have to be.
Think of something random or funny and smile
I use this a lot in professional settings. Did that one colleague say some slick mess, knowing you wouldn't make a scene in the staff meeting? This has happened to me countless times in the corporate world, but my go-to is smiling. The assumption is that, as a black woman, I'll get angry and explode. I prefer to check myself first, smile, and if need be, check the offender in my most professional tone. A smile does wonders in social situations.
Set time limits for yourself
Many times something will happen and I'll say to myself, "Dom, you have three minutes to wild out, and then you gotta keep it pushing." This gives me space to feel my feelings and to validate them with myself and not sweep them under the rug. It also lets me release tension so that at the end of my three minutes, I'm in a better emotional place to deal with whatever is happening.
Remember, this too shall pass
I'm sure I was upset about at least four things last month (let's say one situation, comment, or personal fail per week) that I don't even remember now! Stay positive in the sense that your current state isn't where you'll be forever. As a teenager, my mom used to tell me, "What seems like the end of the world now won't even matter in a few weeks or months." That's (mostly) true as an adult as well.
Be solution-oriented instead of a problem solver
I've never liked the phrase "problem solving" because it feels like it comes from a negative place. When you're solution-oriented, you're acknowledging that a challenge exists, but have already moved towards solving that challenge. You are saying that there is a solution, you just have to find it. Life's challenges are like a never-ending scavenger hunt, but if you know that anything hidden can be found, you'll be less likely to have a negative attitude about finding them.
Go outside and get some fresh air
Much like the deep breath at the beginning of this piece, fresh air and sun can do so much for the mood. Relaxing yourself in a stressful situation can be daunting, especially if you're in a closed in area. If you're at work, take your 15 minute break outside. If you're at home, go for a walk around the block. Get those endorphins pumping to your brain.
How do you stay positive? Let us know in the comments below!
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Cleaning the obviously dirty things in your life is easy. Eventually your hair reaches a point where it can go no further without shampoo (or can it), and it’s impossible to ignore a dirty kitchen counter, but the hidden spots of your house are a little harder to scrub, and way easier to forget about. But that doesn’t mean you should just abandon them. A clean home is a much healthier home, if only because playing detective on smells, mold, and various unidentified spots isn’t exactly a charming way to spend a Sunday otherwise set aside for lounging in pajamas all over your living room.
Here are 10 things you need to be paying more attention to, and how exactly you can start this new, timely part of your extremely clean life.
YOUR SHOWER LINER
For something used in the process to get us clean, we definitely don’t pay enough attention to our shower curtain’s own sanitation. Mold, mildew, and general grossness pile up quickly here, since the bottom edges are constantly getting wet and left behind. Clean your liner with baking soda, bleach, or vinegar every couple of weeks to ensure maximum spa-like vibes in every shower.
YOUR DAILY BAG
Your purse, your backpack, your four to five tote bags because sometimes you just need more room – whatever you’re lugging your life around in on a daily basis, you probably need to clean it. Try to empty it out and wipe it down once a week for a portable peaceful state of mind — you’ll be shocked at how much lighter you feel when you’re not carrying 17 empty gum packets with you at all times.
Technically, you should be washing and disinfecting your makeup brushes daily. But that’s a little intense, so try a quick spritzing cleanser after every use, and a more intense bath weekly or monthly depending on use (concealer and foundation brushes, for example, need a deep cleanse weekly.
In things we thought were obvious: wash your sheets every week! You sleep in them, and probably also read in them, watch TV in them, wait around for like 20 minutes to an hour before actually getting out of them every morning, and maybe even eat in them (no judgment) on a daily basis. So cleaning them on a weekly basis shouldn’t be that out of reach. Our best advice is having more than one set of sheets, which can feel incredibly fancy and very adult, but is going to make your life a whole lot easier and frankly much more luxurious.
We know, we know. Washing bras is a hassle that takes you right back to the dark ages. But trust us when we say: you need to wash your bra more often than you do, because it’s probably gathering stuff you don’t want, like smellsor germs. The good news? You can machine wash a bra. Just be extra careful and always air-dry, no matter what.
It hurts to hear this right after the bra, but sometimes the truth is painful. The silver lining is that how often you should actually wash your jeans is way up for debate. Some people say it’s every four to five wears, some people say it’s literally never. Be on the safe side by finding somewhere in between — about every six to 10 wears — and keeping the grime at bay.
Pillows are hard to clean, but super necessary to, since they can attract fungi and dust mites, which are just not the things you want crashing in your bed. Wash your pillows every three to six months to maintain the dreamiest bed situation possible — just throw them in a gentle cycle on their own (run them through the rinse cycle twice), then dry them on low with tennis balls to maintain maximum fluff.
That machine you use for every single thing in your entire life? It’s somehow not spotless. Invest in a dusting clothfor quick swipes on a daily basis (pro tip: get as many dusting cloths as possible and use them all the time), butnever use any products on your laptop. A damp (not soaked, not even wet) cloth on your keyboard and screen is fine — just make you turn everything off before you clean.
ANYTHING YOU CAN’T SEE
The bottom of your desk is probably disgusting, as are the backs of your drawers, the furthermost corners of your refrigerator, and the last few racks in your closet. Take time once a month to clean out all the spaces you never think about, whether that means doing some hardcore scrubbing, figuring out which clothes you can finally get rid of, or just dusting every single surface in your entire home. Committing yourself to a monthly deep clean is an instant refresher, so don’t skimp — turn up some music, put on those hideous gloves that make you just want to attack the shower floor with a brush, and go for it.
Actually, just replace it every three months. Your smile will thank you.
This post was originally published on Teen Vogue.
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Nikisha Brunson is the cofounder of Urban Bush Babes and Pineapple Life. She is also the owner of Folie Apothecary, a 100 percent natural hair and skincare line. She was made in Toronto, Canada, raised in Brooklyn, and moved to Austin, Texas at the age of 30. She is a Christ follower who has been diagnosed with ADHD and General Anxiety Disorder, and spends her days as a wife raising a teenager with ADHD, renovating their first house, cooking, doing DIY, sifting through antique goods, looking up the latest in homeopathic health info, listening to a ton of music at ignorant levels, collaborating creatively with her husband and pretending to be a comedian.
Living a healthy life on a holistic level has been a priority for her ever since the diagnosis of her son's ADHD. It just so happens she was diagnosed later on, so she was already on the right path to living her best life. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master's degree in childhood education, and loves to teach what she learns along the way.
Blavity's Creative Society sat down with Nikisha for a conversation about her passions and creative entrepreneurship, read what she had to say below.
Blavity: Tell us about the early stages of Urban Bush Babes, how did the blog catapult you in a new career direction?
Nikisha Brunson: "Cipriana and I started the blog in 2011 because we got into a conversation about our natural hair, and I asked her if she'd be willing to do a blog with me where we can share our passion of taking care of our hair. It turned into giving women of color a platform to share who they really were through the arts to help break the stereotypes that are made through entertainment and media. Then the blog evolved into lifestyle content. We became popular very quickly because we were doing something very different, we also added the vintage aspect of fashion, which no black hair bloggers were doing at the time, and the blog became very popular very quickly."
B: So many of your followers love your blogs on Pineapple Life and love following you on Instagram because of how informative and health conscious you are, tell us more about how and why you developed a passion for healthy living?
NB: "When I was in undergrad, I was naturally interested in psychology, I loved the mind and how it works and I'm obsessed with people's personalities and why they are the way they are. I found out my son had ADHD and how important diet was to his ADHD. I also realized I had a really weak immune system growing up and I wanted to strengthen that, and I wanted my son to have a healthier life style. So when I found out I had ADHD (I also struggle with anxiety and depression) it just made me go really hard on the healthy living aspect, because it affects our minds and bodies so much."
B: Something I also appreciate about your content is that there are many women of color, black women in particular, who wouldn't have access to this type of information if it weren't for blogs like yours. How does it feel to know you're doing something you love and also empowering your readers?
NB: "It's part of the reason why I'm so passionate about doing it. Growing up in Brooklyn, I went to school right across the street from the projects, and I learned a lot about how our communities lack access to information. That's [why] I'm so passionate about sharing what I know. I feel very blessed to be able to influence lives. Although I'm working more than I ever have, it doesn't feel like work because I'm doing something I love."
Sometimes you can have an "ahha!" moment after talking with your friends or witnessing an ongoing harmful trend. And after that moment you realize you were getting sucked in too or even became apart of the harmful trend. As a social media influencer I believe it's our job not to perpetuate the bs. Like perfection, and the illusion of the lavish life. We shouldn't have to use ring lights for selfies, or apps that make our skin look smoothed over like a cartoon, or taking pics and videos in a house that's not ours to make it look like we are living it up. This is so harmful, it's not honest, and creates an illusion for the people who follow us. Be real with where you're at, your process is what is most important. If you start creating an illusion it only perpetuates this idea of perfection which does not exist. It's not reality. which in turn has other people comparing their lives to yours and makes them try to achieve something unrealistic. So I'm starting with me and my influence over others. I hope you start with you too. It's the only place to start. #keepitrealkish #imgettingBrooklynOnYall #letsbehuman #keepit100 #athomewithnikisha
A video posted by Nikisha Brunson (@nikishabrunson) on May 2, 2016 at 4:35pm PDT
B: Tell us more about why you started Folie. What makes you passionate about natural skin and hair care?
NB: "Part of having ADHD is that we're all over the place and we get bored easily. And I recently learned that I'm a very hands-on tactile person, and I also realized I'm very creative. I realized that I love cooking, I love ceramics and pottery, I love any DIY project, I love interior design. Anything where I get to use my dual spacial intelligence I can do for hours. With my Apothecary line, I started worrying about my health, I want to be healthy and fly and I want to teach other women of color how to be healthy and fly too. My skincare line grew out of my love for DIY and I wanted to create a line for women like me who care about what we put on our bodies. I love making things and there's something magical about making things for other people. It's my way of giving back to people."
B: What advice do you have for young creatives and entrepreneurs?
NB: "Its always harder than what you think. Most of us tend to romanticize things and we aren't really sure about the ground work that needs to happen on the day-to-day, we just see the end results. Especially when looking at other people doing the things we want to do. We don't see the frustration. Know that it's going to be harder than what you think. You have to be able to be honest with yourself and ask yourself what your limitations are, and if you're going to able to handle the aspects of what entrepreneurship brings. You have to be decisive, develop thick skin. Try to do something different that comes from a really passionate place, do something because you think its your purpose. It takes discipline to make money off of your creativity."
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In my mind, I'm a jet-setter. I travel the world on a frequent basis, collecting amazing experiences and memories and meeting fantastic people. My pockets and knowledge don't support that yet, though. Sound familiar? Traveling can be challenging to steadily integrate into your life, from the cost (a huge detail) to maintaining a healthy food regimen (a smaller detail). Here are some essential black-owned travel businesses that will bring your inner traveler from imagination to fruition:
I always dread looking for plane tickets. How will I find a cheap ticket without sitting in the middle seat at the back of the plane? Why don't those random $99 deals happen when I'm going somewhere? Will I ever be able to afford first class? If I'm traveling abroad, how will I survive a flight time in the double digits sitting in coach? Well, there's an app for that. When I found out about this service, I literally yelled, "WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS?!" Airfordable allows you to pay 1/3 of your airfare up front and then set up payments based on your budget to finish paying off the cost of your plane ticket. You can lock in the cheapest fare for the duration of your payments, and payments can be on a monthly or bi-weekly basis.
Fit & Fun Living
Who wants to gain 15 pounds on vacation? Not me. I also don't want to ruin my vacation with exercises that I don't enjoy. That's where Fit & Fun Living comes in. This show illustrates how to make your workouts more fun, thereby encouraging you to be consistent with your workout. Their mission is "to help our audience easily understand how fitness affects the way they live, and have fun while they’re at it." One of my favorite episodes is "Workout While You Twerk-Out."
One of the hosts of Fit & Fun Living TV, RyanNicole, is developing her own series and app for your on-the-go needs. FitTrip is a developing television streaming service and app that will help support you through maintaining your health while on the go. As the site states, "The FitTrip travel show will connect travelers with a hip and fit-focused tour guide, rating the most fit hotels, providing access to popular and cutting-edge location specific workouts and locating yummy nutrition options while on the road." The app will rate hotels based on how accessible workouts and healthy foods are, and provide geographical help on how to find the best food and fitness around the user.
Black Trade Lines
This is a comprehensive app that allows you to search black businesses based on your geographical location. By visiting the main site, you can also sign up if you're a black-owned business to add yourself to the directory. The site quotes Marcus Garvey, a historical figure who was a proponent of cooperative economics, and also boasts the ability to connect businesses and users directly with social media. With black spending power now estimated at over one trillion dollars, imagine if we intentionally and consistently circulated our dollars among ourselves by our constant support of black businesses! Although this app isn't necessarily designed for traveling purposes, it does solve the challenge of knowing where black businesses are when in unfamiliar territory.
Henderson Travel Service
Around since 1955, HTS says it's "the first fully appointed African-American owned travel agency in the U.S." One of its current tours is taking travelers back to Africa (specifically, Banjul, Gambia). The agency has accumulated several awards over the years, including the 2013 African Diaspora World Tourism Award and the 2013 African Diaspora Tourism Cultural Heritage Tour Operator of Distinction Award.
African American Travel Conference
This is for the traveler who has a business idea who wants to meet with other professionals to network and gain knowledge around the industry. Anyone is welcome to register for the conference as an individual, but AATC also offers a membership for just under $400/year. Members receive discounts for conference attendance, will have their business listed in an exclusive directory made available to travel planners, and have a listing in The Group Travel magazine. Next year's conference is scheduled over three days and will include seminars around how to position one's business in the marketplace, sightseeing with other attendees, and "one-on-one discussions for potential business opportunities."
What's the most challenging element of traveling for you? Are there black own travel businesses you support? Sound off in the comments!
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