Since announcing to my readers that my 10-year-old natural hair blog, Black Girl with Long Hair, is officially defunct I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how and why I made this transition, and where I see my brand going. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so I’ve chopped up my story into bite-sized pieces. Today I’m addressing the final question of the series — how the heck I have the time to do this as a single mom to babies. (Click here to see the other articles in the series.)
So, time. How the heck do I have the *time* to do this.
Before I get into it I want to establish a few things for context.
1. I come from a line of women who knew how to get things done. My Haitian grandmother worked as a subsistence farmer and raised 5 kids on her own after my grandfather died. I think about that a lot these days, and I know there’s a dialogue going on now where black women are shunning being labeled as ‘strong’, but it’s what I am. And what I’ve seen modeled for me.
2. Being an entrepreneur allows me flexibility when it comes to scheduling. I set my own hours and determine my daily tasks. It’s a power and a privilege that has allowed me to co-exist as a mom and a small business owner.
3. Never again shall I sacrifice my self-care for the goddmann hustle. Listen, I know we’re all trying to get this black-owned economic engine off the ground, but never again in my LIFE will I sacrifice my self-care for it. I’ve mentioned a bit in my previous essays the head space I was in when I ran BGLH the blog. It was NOT a good one. I was OBSESSED with the idea of being the top ranked natural hair site. And, like why? My bills were getting paid and my life was generally happy. I had a buttload of insecurity about my path compared to others. That’s not where I’m at anymore. Making sure I am taken care of is my number one priority and it impacts how much work I am willing to do in a given day.
Okay, so with that being said, here is how I juggle the demands of running a growing beauty business with being a mom.
1. Hire. good. people.
I cannot stress this enough. Bad employees cost you money and time. I learned this the very hard way when two employees — younger women I saw as mentees and had invested a lot of time in — quit on me suddenly, and back-to-back. Their reason? I didn’t “appreciate” them enough. (Still trying to figure that one out…) I was left with more than 100 orders to fill with the one part-time assistant I had left. That whole month was hell. I learned from that experience that — for me personally, and at this young/vulnerable stage of the business — BGLH Marketplace is not the time or place for mentorship. I need women who will come in, scoop the shea, label the containers, pick the orders, and go home. No muss, no fuss. These days I work with women who are punctual, focused, thorough and not looking for anything other than a check.
2. Get ahead of inventory
Having inventory on hand makes this whole business soooo much more time effective. If someone orders 12 ounces of Vanilla Latte Blended Butter, I don’t want to have to make it right then and there. Investing time upfront in building a reserve of inventory saves time down the line.
3. Thoughtful but speedy production
I’m a perfectionist when it comes to whipping my butters, and one of my biggest challenges is scaling that perfection. This is a challenge for a lot of handmade businesses, because the whole point of our approach is that we take the time to do things… by hand. Still I am always examining my production to see how I can get it faster without compromising quality.
4. Block time and create space
I like to time block my days. So on a typical Wednesday I know that from 7 am to 9 am I am getting kids ready for school and dropping them off, from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm I am whipping butter, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm I am doing marketing/responding to customers/ordering supplies and from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm I am doing school pickup, dinner and evening routine. Knowing in my mind where I’m headed helps me to shift gears throughout the day. The other element to that is creating space. I don’t work in the evenings and I try to give myself about a half hour between time blocks to change gears. When you’re a mompreneuer it’s really tempting to push yourself to the limit. But I’m already firing on all cylinders. If I push myself beyond that I am doing self-harm.
5. Know how long everything takes
I am always timing EVERYTHING. How long it takes me to cook dinner, how long to whip one bowl of shea, or 5, or 10. How long it takes to drive my kids to school. Knowing how long things takes a. helps to prevent me from overloading my schedule and b. helps me to plan ahead.
6. Ensure kids are in quality childcare
As you could probably tell, I am not with my kids during the day. When I drop them off at school/daycare, I am giving myself time to handle my business.
7. Build a home culture with the kids
I’m a working mom, and I don’t have guilt around that because I worked even when I was married. But the truth is that, now that I am a single mom, there isn’t as much time to go around for my kids and *that* does make me feel a way. Instead of letting guilt get the best of me I focus on building a solid home culture for the kids. That means not working in the evening. Once I pick the kids up from school, that’s it. It’s not time for BGLH Marketplace anymore. It’s time for cooking and eating dinner, reading books, watching My Little Pony, going to the park and generally hanging out. It’s not just good for the kids, it’s good for me. Even after the kids are asleep I’m not working. It’s time to decompress.
I think of work as an animal that will devour me if I do not keep it in a cage. And building a relaxing and rejuvenating home culture helps me to keep work in its cage.
8. Constantly revise to determine best practices
A habit I started this year is having a set of goals that I rededicate myself to every two weeks for the entire year. Basically I am trying to master the art of my life. So, for example, one goal is, ‘Cook dinner and eat with the kids every night.’ And I just keep trying different strategies and methods throughout the year until I settle on a routine that works.
Just a few extras.…
1. I barely use sitters during the day
After I got divorced I used sitters constantly. And while it kept me afloat for a while, with time I realized that it wasn’t a good use of resources. A sitter can’t substitute for a mother, and they can’t be expected to maintain the kind of home vibe I want or need for my kids. Because all of my kids are in school or daycare during the day, I see the time outside of that as ‘mommy and me’ and I am no longer willing to sacrifice it. I do get some time to myself when the kids are with their father. Otherwise, I book sitters in the late evening, after the kids are asleep.
2. I do not use a house cleaning service
Like a true Caribbean parent I expect these babies to pick up after themselves. No I do not care that they are 5, 3 and 17 months, they will learn to put the blocks back into the toybox when they are through. I am also pretty minimal in what I keep in my home. (If we don’t need it it’s getting tossed or given away.) And, like most New Yorkers, my apartment is not particularly big. So that helps.
3. I do not feel constantly overwhelmed
I debated adding this because 1. Man there are days when I’m like, ‘I’m in over my head!’ and 2. I’m sensitive to the idea that moms are pressured to feel like they can take on anything. But the *truth* is on a typical day (which is most days) my life feels kind of… boring (lol!) It helps that I enjoy the work that I do. I mean, I spend a good part of my days doing this…
At the end of the day, I try to keep things simple and enjoy my life. Cheesy, maybe a bit cliche, but it works!
And there you have it!
I have enjoyed sharing my journey from blogging to owning a beauty brand with you all! As always I hope this was interesting 🙂