****This blog is no longer updated at this address! Come check it out at http://thinkandgrowchick.com. All of the archives are available there as well****

This site is my online journal that documents my attempts to reach various goals inspired by the principles found in the book, Think and Grow Rich. Join me as I strive to meet financial goals, fashion goals, school goals, hair-care goals, and everything in between. I hope that other young women will relate and find my journey useful to read about; this blog is for me as much as it is for women seeking resources for personal development and freedom. To get a daily dose, follow me on twitter and facebook...and don't forget to follow my blog!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Years Hair Update

If you remember a few posts back, I talked about how I wanted a new hair look for the New Year. I put up a few pictures of looks I decided I was going to go for and said that I was saving up some money so I could get to the salon and make it all happen. Well, because I've been flagrant in my neglect to update you all with my subsequent hair decision after that post, today's post is dedicated to my new hair regimen and styles that I actually decided to go through with for the New Year.

For starters, I did in fact head to "The Dominican's" (pre-financial apocalypse, of course) to get my hair straightened.

Maybe it's because of my increasing skill in doing my hair myself, but to be honest, I was not really impressed with the final results. Yes my hair was soft, yes it was shiny (and no, this picture doesn't really do it justice) but I can't say I was super impressed. If I can ever save up enough money to get my hands on a Maxiglide, I have a sneaking suspicion that I can do a much better job myself. But I digress...The whole point of me getting my hair straightened was to determined whether or not I wanted to go through with the Heidi Klum haircut I featured in my last hair post.

I must say, I'm glad I had my hair straightened on a separate salon visit first, because once I saw the state of my hair and how long my bangs were—I just couldn't go through with the cut. In fact, I couldn't go through with anything...no cut, no color, no nothing.

Why couldn't I go through with my painstakingly planned New Year's hair makeover, you ask? For two reasons:

(1) My hair was so raggedy! I knew I was being abusive to my locks with all the rough combing and sleeping on cotton pillow cases but WOW! The above picture features my hair AFTER the stylist trimmed it. Look at all those scraggly, fly-away ends! I ended up trimming it again myself the next day because I was so horrified with the condition of my hair. Needless to say, I just felt that it would be reckless to go experimenting with new haircuts and hair colors as my hair needed some serious TLC.

(2) I was actually really surprised at how long my hair was once it was straightened. Like I said before, I've been an abusive parent to my tresses and I assumed that I was going to face a lot of breakage, leaving me with shorter hair. To my luck, I did not have a lot of breakage and even retained some length—the trade off was that I had to deal with an exorbitant amount of split ends instead. Nevertheless, seeing the length (however meager) renewed my desire for a head of healthy, long hair. Thus, scissors are officially out of the question and my new hair goal for New Years and beyond is armpit length, or "APL" status.

Since that week of straight hair, I have since been on a mad dash to find the perfect combination of products and techniques for a new "growing my hair" regimen. I've been on forums, read blogs, and watched youtube videos to get an idea of the things to try and so far...I think I've been pretty successful :-) Stay tuned for an upcoming post on my new regimen and different techniques I've been trying with my hair.

Have you ever had plans for your do, but changed you mind once you actually got to the salon? Are you currently on a "grow my hair" challenge yourself? What are you doing to ensure "hair success"? Share your comments below.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Easiest Way to Predict the Future...

...Is to create it! And every year around this time, I find myself turning into a list makin', collage pastin', goal chasing fool, trying to do just that—create my future. So why do all of this particularly doing THIS time a year, you ask?

Because the New Year is near, duh!

Like clean, white sheets, fresh from the dryer on laundry day, the beginning of the New Year is that new start most of us just can't wait to get into. With a tumultuous 2009 nearly behind me, I too am excited at the prospects of white my life will be like in 2010. True to Think & Grow Chick form, I am leaving nothing to chance and everything to a well documented list of goals. The difference this year, however, is that I am not waiting for a whole 'nother year to pass by before I realize I didn't accomplish anything. Goals are useless if (1) you don't set deadlines for yourself and (2) you don't review your goals to see if you're making any progress before your deadline hits. In other words, the following represent things that I am trying to do in 6 months or less. Meet my half-year hit list:

  1. I will attempt to bring in a solid income of $2,350 per month. Though this is equivalent to a million dollars for me given the (college student) poverty level I'm currently operating at, the above number was carefully calculated as just what I need to get out of my current financial mishap and still have some left over. I just got hired at a popular downtown bar (and I still plan on keeping my current part-time job), so working full-time, I think this is feasible. (I'll do more about my new budgeting plan in a separate post.)
  2. I will completely pay off my lowest credit card amount, $873.53. (I have three cards in total...I know, I know, I'm cringing too.) Calculated in the income goal above, I should be able to eradicate that little grey piece of plastic which has caused me so much pain and cost me near a grand to date. Sheesh...
  3. Because I'm super ambitious, I plan to attack my debt AND I will have at least $1000 in personal savings in 6 month's time. I know ya'll think I'm crazy because I owe A LOT of money, but if I've learned anything from those personal finance books, it's that you have to have some sort of egg nest when paying off debt, otherwise you'll just run back to your credit card when the (inevitable) first sign of trouble hits. I cannot go back there again, so my new plan incorporates paying myself first.
  4. I will be enrolling back in school part-time for the 2010 summer session, and full-time for the 2010 fall session. I would be in school right now if it weren't for the back tuition I owe Howard, so a soon as that's paid off (which will be in less than 6 months is I can hit the income number listed in #1), I'm enrolling in the most affordable school I can get in to so that I can FINISH. THIS. DEGREE!!!
  5. Swinging into the land of vanity, My hair will reach armpit length (APL) or longer in six months or less. I'm armed with a new regimen and a new attitude, (again, more in a separate post) so I see no reason why my strands can't attain such lengths.
  6. This may come as a surprise because I'm already a pretty healthy, slim girl, but in 6 month's time I really want to tone up my physique. That's right, I'm trying to be all chiseled up like I was in my high school ballerina/track running days. I'll be sure to document my new found fitness adventure in subsequent post.
  7. I've been saying this forever and I'm sorry I still have to say it now, but I want to improve my wardrobe. Now this is not to say that I dress busted or anything, but my financial situation has really jacked up my fashion situation and I have had enough! I used to take pride in being a generally stylish young woman and I want to get back to that, stat! I've included shopping money in my target income level (goal #1) so that I can achieve this, guilt-free. 
  8. Last but of course not least, in 6 month's time I really want to develop this blog. To be honest, I've really grown to love blogging and I think it can become an amazing personal resource and entrepreneurial venture for me and my readers. I generally like to be more concrete than simply saying that I want to "develop" something, but for now I'll say that I definitely want to increase readership.

    So that's it for me dear readers. The are my personal action items for the next 6 months, starting today. My deadline for all of these goals is Thursday, June 10, 2010. I am not playing around this year and neither should you! Two (or a thousand) heads are better than one, so I encourage everyone to come up with their own 6 month game plan and either link to it in the comment box below, or email it to me at thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com so that we can get the ball rolling together.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Never Say What You Can't Do: Video Response

    A simple video response to yesterday's post :-)
    (you may need to turn up your volume, the audio is kind of low, sorry!)

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Never Say What You Can't Do

    I cried harder as she continued on her lecture. Even though her voice was rising, between my sobs and my hands uncontrollably shaking the earpiece, I was struggling to hear what she was saying.

    "Courtney, we are not built to break. You are stronger than this! So what, you've got to take a little detour. So? God is teaching you a lesson right now! Take this time to get your act together, then get your a** back in school! I know it seems like a lot of money—hell, that's a lot of money for me and I have a full-time job. But this is not insurmountable. If you work hard for the next 6 months and save everything—and I mean it Courtney, you better save everything—you can pay that off. I don't mean to sound like I'm not sympathetic to your situation because I am, but right now, you need tough love to get you out of this. You think this is tough?? You have it made, Courtney. There are women leaving abusive husbands, struggling to get that degree while living in homeless shelters. Heck, you think it was easy for me trying to get through grad school with two small daughters? Why do you think I'd always invite those young girls over to study at our house, hmm? It was because I couldn't afford childcare!!! I would feed them and they would come over and study with me so I could watch you and your sister! It is not a game, sweetie, but there are worst things in life. You can do this. So have a good cry, splash some cold water on your face, call your boyfriend, make some tea, draft up a plan, and get down to business."

    "Do you understand?"

    "Yes," I replied to my mother as I sniffed hard and hung up the phone. I was so angry but she was so right. I had gotten myself into this, but I could definitely get myself out of this if I was willing to put in the work.

    Deep down, however, I knew the tears came less from the unfair charge I was being forced to pay and more from realizing for the first time where I really am in life. I cried hard a few days ago because for the first time, I really felt like I was at the bottom. To be perfectly honest, I am.

    At 21 years old, I am unenrolled from college, I owe $3,350 in charges from Howard University, and I cannot transfer to another school until I pay the debt off because there is now a hold on my transcripts. In addition to all of that, I'm currently on a strict repayment plan with my credit card company because I owe $4,687.46 and almost 80% of that amount has to be paid in 12 months or else I get slammed with an outrageous interest rate. To say this is not the life I envisioned for myself is an understatement.

    When I first came to Howard, I was a bright and shiny, scholarship having, 3.8 GPA achieving, chemical engineering student. "I'll never leave Howard," I adamantly told my parents on one of their first visits. "This is the dorm where all the scholarship girls stay," I continued. "I'll never stay in that other dorm."

    Fast forward to my sophomore year when waking up to go to class literally sent me into panic attacks. I had long discovered that I was not really interested in engineering and that I was just doing it because it was "impressive", but I was too scared to do anything else because I didn't want to let anyone down. My grades were reflecting my lack of interest as I was struggling to hold on to a 2.5 GPA and my scholarship was a thing of the past.

    Since I'm the type of person who likes to fix things before anyone notices that things are going wrong, I applied for my first credit card, hoping I could build up some credit before the school year ended so that I could take out a private loan to finance the rest of my education without getting my parents involved. As God would have it, the economy tanked right at the end of that year, simultaneously forcing Sallie Mae to raise the credit score required for school loans and leaving me up the creek without a paddle.

    By my Junior year, I knew I had to get out of engineering before I graduated with a worthless GPA. I had since discovered my love and aptitude for Business, but the School of Business at Howard refused to accept me without a 3.0 GPA. Factor in the Parent Plus Loan my dad had taken out for me without knowing the extent of my academic and financial predicament, and you'll understand why I felt like my only option left was to crawl under a rock and die. Embarrassed and scared because my back was up against the wall, I broke down during a routine phone call with my dad and I told him everything.

    I was so surprised at how supportive my dad was that I felt bad for not telling him sooner. Through my tears and much needed prayer, my dad agreed that it would be best if I withdrew from Howard and transfered to a less expensive university that would accept me into their business program before I wasted anymore time and money. Thinking the worst of my situation was over, I withdrew from all of my engineering classes and made the arrangements to enroll in the spring semester at the city university across town, given that I could take advantage of their lower, in-state tuition rates.

    Everything seemed brighter at that point. I was laughing again, smiling again, and overall I was feeling more like myself. I was excited to be spending less money on a new major that I knew I would truly love and I couldn't wait to get started. The world seemed to be turning up roses until my new school told me Howard would not release my transcripts. I ventured to the financial aid department to find out why and BAM! Because I withdrew before the semester ended, Howard had returned all of my federal loans that were previously covering my tuition, unbeknownst to me, leaving me with a balance of $3,350. My heart sank—I would not be able to transfer to any school until the amount was paid in full.

    I have been M.I.A. on this blog not just because all of this is happening (though it certainly has taken a lot of my mental energy) but because in order to stay true to the mission I had when I first started this blog, I knew I'd be a complete fraud if I continued blogging without addressing my situation on here. How on earth can I spread that message of "Think and Grow Chicks can achieve any goal!" and not put the spotlight on myself? If I truly believe my own mission, then I have to be this blog's resident example of making all of your dreams come true...even if everything seems to be going wrong.

    So take heart, my beloved readers, I'm going to be fine and if you're going through anything right now, you're going to be fine too. With a little hard work and a whole lotta prayer, I know I can still achieve everything I've ever dreamed of doing. I will be back in school in 6 months, I will pay off all of my debt in a year, I will graduate as a high achieving business major, and I will be a raging success. Period. So if you forgive me for taking a leave of absence over the last few weeks and you believe in this blog, this mission, and the fact that you truly can accomplish any goals as a Think and Grow Chick, then I invite you to continue to follow my journey.

    If you have a "comeback" story to share related to any topic or goal, feel free to leave your comments below or email me at thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Youtubing Your Way to A New You

    You'd be surprised at the wisdom you can run across on youtube. A lot of "average" people like you and me make some pretty cool videos. Below is one from one of my newly faved youtubers, LeobodyC5. The video below is a great one on healthy eating habits and new things to try for those of you trying maintain a healthier lifestyle.

    Besides Leobody's California-esque attitude towards healthy eating and holistic living (she lives in LA), I especially like this chick because (1) here hair is fabulous and (2) she's got a killer vintage wardrobe, all of which she documents on her youtube page. She's like that fabulous 80s glamazon I would have been had I not been an infant in 1989. I couldn't embed the hair or vintage videos because she has embedding disabled, however you can check them out here and here, respectively.


    Friday, November 6, 2009

    Why a Shopaholic is Better with Money Than You

    A few days ago, in between episodes of my beloved Bridezilla on WeTV, (delusionally conceited brides are, in fact, hilarious) I ran across the network's new series, The Secret Lives of Women. Normally reserved for ex-prostitutes, drug addicts, and cult followers, the last episode I saw featured shopaholics. From a teenage girl who stole her mother's credit cards to finance her habit, to a neglected housewife who had succumbed to compulsive bargain shopping to justify her mounting debt, I sat on the couch with my popcorn, gleefully entertained by the sheer ridiculousness of the rationals these women told themselves on a daily basis.

    My glee, however, quickly morphed into a subtle feeling of personal failure when the show rapped up to feature their last shopaholic. Deemed the "responsible shopaholic" by her business partner, this woman lived the good life, compulsively shopping with cash only, because she knew that for every purchase—without fail—she could create a business opportunity to match or surpass the amount spent on her very frequent shopping trips.

    I turned the TV off feeling salty...duped, even. "How in the world did this woman do it," I thought to myself. "Is it really possible to be that business savvy?" Before the thoughts even left my head, I knew my frustration rested not with the fact that this woman had impeccable business acumen, but that I didn't. Call me crazy, call me a lunatic for thinking I could master the art of business at only 21 years of age, but being fully in control of my own time, income, and passions has been a dream of mine since I was just 16.

    Everyday, we turn on the news only to see good, hard working people plummet from comfortable salaries to poverty. Why? Because being in control of your own destiny is not taught in school. Only now, as corporations are forced to reveal that providing you with a paycheck is not, and has never been, their priority are people scrambling to make a living with the shirt on their back and the skills in their head.

    As a college student moving closer to the "real world" with every semester that passes, let me be the first to say that I don't ever want to be dependent on someone else to give me the income to live my life. Though the lady featured on Secret Lives probably is a legitimate shopaholic and a slave to materialism (none of which I want to be), no one can say that she is not in control of her own income and destiny. She finances her exorbitant lifestyle with extra cash when most of us can't even make groceries without pulling out the credit card.

    What's really going on here?

    If you ask me, most people—particularly women—don't know what it means to be entrepreneurial. Just because you work for someone else does not mean you can't be entrepreneurial. In fact, working for someone else is often the best place to start. All there is to being "entrepreneurial" is taking the resources you have and using them to create an opportunity for yourself. Sure, your paycheck may come from your employer, but no one said your source of income had to stop at that paycheck.

    What would happen if, every month you used your paycheck—even a portion of it—as start-up capital for the business called "You"? What if you spent $50 on some business cards and an ad in the newspaper offering services for something you do well? How quickly could that $50 turn into $100, even $200? Even though I work for someone else, just last week I spent $0 and 10 minutes to post an ad on Craigslist offering my services for writing business plans, and already I'm making money. Now I don't have to choose between taking time off my job for Thanksgiving and paying my rent—my income does not end at my paycheck.

    The point is, your livelihood does not have to stop at your paycheck. If you are smart about it, your paycheck can simply be the foundation from which your true source of income flows, making you less reliant on your paycheck to begin with. Use your paycheck to invest in things that will provide you with additional revenue streams. The company you work for does not keep all of their eggs in one basket and neither should you. All you need is time to plan and a little creativity.

    If a shopaholic can do it, why can't you?

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    "Refuse to Choose" with Eisa Davis and Barbara Sher

    I absolutely love this Gap commercial featuring Eisa Davis. In the clip, she explains her deep need to engage ALL of her passions and it really struck a chord with me, because I like to think that I operate the same way. 

    A few weeks ago, I came across the book "Refuse to Choose" after it was recommended in an interview I read on one of my daily blog readings. Curious about the title, I previewed the first few chapters on Google Books and I instantly loved it so much that I ordered it online. I haven't finished it yet, but so far it details ways to get things done for people who have a lot of creative needs and talents (like me and Eisa Davis), whom author Barbara Sher describes as "scanners". I plan on doing a full book review pretty soon, but I figured many of you readers may identify with this notion of needing to do many things at once.

    Have you been told to just "choose one thing?" Are you currently living a life full of different occupations and hobbies? I'm interested to hear some outside perspectives on this. Share your comments below...

    New Years Hair...Planned 57 days Early...

    Since I'm on kick about moving forward for the new year, it wouldn't be right if I didn't have at least one post about my more shallow desires...namely, my hair. When I first started this blog, I said I was bored with my cute but worn-out 'fro and I was on the ultimate quest to find something new. I still want to remain natural, but I gotta find something that (1) is a little more sleek and grown-up now that I've reached my 21st birthday and (2) will allow me to grow my hair out and keep it healthy.

    Now that I've narrowed it down to a few looks I want to try and mastered the art of the "set it and forget it", I think I've got my game plan together. For starters, the haircut I will have by Jan 1, 2010 is....

    The Heidi Klum!!! Now before ya'll get in a tizzy because I'm adopting a straight haircut, you must first understand the genius behind this hairstyle for a natural girl. Firstly, a sleek face-frame like this is perfect for people who go back and forth between curly and straight looks. The overall longer length of the hair keeps the hair from being too tightly coiled when curly; however, the layers in the front maintain the face-framing effect even when in an afro. In other words, "The Heidi Klum" when curly easily translates into...

    The Tanika Ray!!! See? Two great hairstyles for the price of one haircut...

    Now what's a fresh chop for the new year without some fresh color? I oscillate back and forth between dark hair and bright blonde all the time, but for this upcoming year, I think the verdict will be...

    ...golden blonde and reddish highlights a la Amerie and Eva Mendes. I think it'll really set off the haircut when worn straight or curly.

    For all you divas living in the DC area, I plan on handing this transformation over to Salon Revive on U Street with Yodit, the head stylist there. She did a bang up job on my natural hair over a year ago, and I'm quite confident in here ability to give me my dream look for the new year.

    Any of you ladies plan on channeling something brand new for the new year? Share your prospective hair transformations in the comment box below.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    What's your game plan for 2010?

    Not to scare anyone, but there are only 58 days until the new year.

    Yep, less than a mere two months before the deadline for our 2009 promises come and slap us in the face. I don't know about ya'll, but I think I'm going to call 2009 a wash. Not to say that cool things didn't happen for me or that great things weren't achieved by me in 2009, but 2009 was definitely not my best year. Perhaps 2009 would be easier to look back on if all of my mishaps were unwarranted, but if I'm honest, that is definitely not the case. Many of the biggest disappointments were a direct result of promises I didn't keep to myself.

    And those are the worst promises to break.

    Because I'm a fighter, I refuse to wallow in my remaining 58 days, hoping for a better 2010. In fact, starting today I'm going to guarantee a great 2010 by preparing for it 58 days early—that means today.

    If I really assess what happened in 2009, I'd say most of my lapses happened because (1) I did not prioritize my goals and (2) I did not give enough reverence to the process of achieving those goals. You might be thinking, "What are you talking about, Think & Grow Chick, this whole blog is about dreams and goals?" I'd say you are right, this blog is about dreams and goals; however, up until now I've done a poor job of managing those dreams and goals.

    Firstly, most of the things we want in our lives are related. For example, you can't achieve your goal moving into a nicer apartment until you achieve your goal of being better about your finances. My issue was that I'd spend a whole afternoon pouring over apartment ads without spending a fraction of that energy to setup a budget to save up for that future apartment. No more in 2010. From now on, first things first.

    Secondly, just because dreaming is fun and makes you feel hopeful does not mean that the process of making it happen will necessarily be fun and hopeful too. In fact, a good testament to whether or not you're working hard enough is if the initial dreaming phase is the only things thing that keeps you going through the hard work your doing now.

    So that's it for me. 2010 = prioritization + action. What's 2010 for you?

    "Think and Grow Chick" of the Day: Simone of Erstwhile Style

    For today's "Think and Grow Chick of the Day", I have a true treat for anyone who loves (1) women doing their thang and (2) vintage clothes!!! I present to you Simone of Etsy fame with her fab online shop, Erstwhile Style. I've stalked Simone's vintage shop for a while now and she consistently has great stuff. Keep reading to get a glimpse of this vintage entrepreneur's world...

    (Photo by Simone @ https://shop.marketpublique.com/stores/erstwhilestyle)

    Hello Simone! 
    Welcome to Think & Grow Chick, a blog were I document achievement of goals important to young, black women. Can you start off by telling our readers what it is you do?

    I am the owner and operator of Erstwhile Style Vintage Clothing on Etsy and Market Publique.

    What is a typical day in your life like?  

    My day generally starts with a photoshoot (photographing new items for the shop). Listing new items takes up a big part of my day..and hunting for fab new finds is 24/7!

    How did you get into your current space in life? Can you tell us about your background?

    I am a woman of many trades, but my appreciation for vintage clothing began quite early. My mother used to take me around thrift stores in our town. I would watch scour basement church thrift stores; she would find the most fabulous cashmere coats!

    What were some of your goals in "back in the day"? Did they change over time, or did they always lead to what it is you are doing now?

    Well, back in the day I collected vintage for my own personal use, and still do, but it got to a point where my closets were literally overflowing and it was time to purge some things. So it started out as just a little online rummage sale for myself, but I received so many inquiries after that about specific items that buyers were looking for - then a lightbulb went off. :-)

    Please describe some of the realities of starting and running your own business. How has it been for you?

    Well, like any business, you must know your market, and have more than a working knowledge of what you are selling. Knowing how to spot and date vintage is an acquired skill. And you have to love what you do.

    Do you run your company full-time, or do you still work for someone else? Are you a one-woman operation?

    I run Erstwhile Style full time almost all by myself. My hubby acts as my photographer but I do everything else. I have other personal aspirations and I spend time fulfilling those dreams as well. But this business is my sole source of employment. I love it! Its finally at a place where I don't have to work for anyone else. It took about a year to get to this point.

    What is your stance on entrepreneurship? What are some of your personal entrepreneurial goals?

    I believe that any business, like any goal in life, requires dedication and hard work. You get back what you put in. Ultimately, I would like for Erstwhile Style to be its own website, with advertisers, and personal shopping services for our customers.

    If you had to work with a young woman like you and help her start her business, what are some key principles you would be certain to stress to her?

    Again, know your product. Know your market. Find a niche.

    How do you attract shoppers to your online boutique?

    Well, as you know, Twitter and Facebook are wonderful avenues for promotion. I also advertise on other sites. Blog features, like yours, also help. And word of mouth goes a LONG way. We have many repeat customers who refer their friends.

    How important has the internet been in promotion? What are some of your recommendations for promoting on the internet?

    Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Ning,..

    You have great personal style! How does your personal style affect your approach to your shop and the pieces you select?

    Thank you! Many people equate vintage with old, dusty, smelly..NO.  Quality always comes first. My motto is that I will never offer anything for sale that is not up to my own standards. That way, I never go wrong. I also have the ability to select items that, while may not be my own PERSONAL style, I can envision it on someone else. I can see something and immediately envision what it would look like with the right accessories. I would like to think I have what I call ''the eye''. Haha.

    How has your personal style developed over time?

    Well, my style has evolved over time as I have gotten to know myself, and what looks good on my body. I think fashion is a reflection of my personality and how I'm feeling on that day. So one day I'm in heels, the next day I'm in cargo pants. But I always find a way to put my own signature stamp on every outfit.

    What are your recommendations to someone looking to develop their own personal style?

    Never copy what you see in a magazine exactly. Just because something is the ''hottest trend'', does not make it right for you. Know what looks good on your body, and more importantly know what doesn't.

    Has the economy affected your personal shopping budget? What is your advice for looking fly on a budget?

    Ugh, the economy has affected everything. We all have to make smarter buying choices. Looking fly on a budget? Vintage of course! Its generally a fraction of the cost of what you covet in the magazines and you can generally find something comparable that is within your budget. Even if you are not buying vintage, as a general rule, a good rule of thumb is to buy some key pieces, or what I like to call supporting acts, that can help make the rest of your wardrobe work. For example, knit tops, jeans, a blazer, etc.

    Anyone who catches a glimpse of you modeling your great pieces will notice that you have fabulous hair. Are you natural?

      Oh no, my secret is out! I am the model; I only do it because I am cheap labor..haha..Yes, its all real. We are a family of HAIR. My mother has dreads down to her waist; my brother has long hair too. 

    What are some of the hair products that you use?

    Well, not much; it real simple. I use regular olive oil from the grocery store on my ends (not everyday or it looks greasy), Mizani deep conditioner at the salon. And my hair dresser slips me some of her Kerastase on my way out to use at home. ;-)

    Would you describe yourself as more of a minimalist or an addict when it comes to caring for your hair? How about fashion?

    I am a minimalist when it comes to everything, though I take my hair care, style, and health very seriously. I TRY not to shop outside of my budget (ladies, you know that is soo hard when you see something you like!). But for me, less is more.

    What is your advice for women who want to try vintage, but are unsure of what to look for or how to wear vintage in a modern way?

    I would say that the easiest way to start would be to identify pieces that you really like and try to find a vintage adaptation of it. Most often it will be cheaper with better quality. For example, right now the sequin/shiny trend is really hot. I see pieces in Vogue, Glamour, Ebony by top designers that are in the upwards of $1000 or more. You can find some in our shop, or anyone else's for a tenth of that price.

    Do you have any upcoming projects for Erstwhile Style, or otherwise?

    We are starting to offer personal shopping services on a small scale for some of the repeat customers and its working out great. Stay tuned..

    What are your personal measures of success? By your own standards, do you consider yourself successful?

    Well, not having to punch that time clock on a daily basis is a big one!

    What is a “Think and Grow Chick” to you?

    If you can think it, dream it, you can be it. That simple. Go get it.

    Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to share some insight with my readers. You are truly a “Think and Grow Chick”! Is there anything else you’d like to share or that you want everyone to know about you? What are the best ways for one to get in contact with you?

    You can find the shop/s at www.erstwhilestyle.etsy.com or shop.marketpublique.com/stores/erstwhilestyle  Follow ES on Twitter too! twitter.com/erstwhilestyle

    Well, there you have it; promote online, know you market, be stylish by wearing vintage and... use olive oil on your ends!

    Are you a true "Think & Grow Chick" that would like to participate in the interview series? If so, email me a short bio and links to whatever it is that you do so that I can prepare an interview for you!

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    It's Official, Your Girl is in Business!

    Remember a while back how I said I had something up my sleeve? Well my project is complete! I, Think & Grow Chick, have made the leap into to world of online entrepreneurship. I am the proud creator of Think and Grow Vintage (thinkandgrowvintage.etsy.com), an etsy vintage store for all my Think and Grow Chicks! Below are a few of my favorite pieces that are on sale as of today:

    Like I said, these are just a few of my favorites, so be sure to check out the rest at my store. From now on, in the side bar of the blog, there's a button that updates with my newest stuff and will take you directly to my store.

    If you're a Think and Grow Chick (which I know you are), use the code TGC2009 to receive a 15% discount off your first purchase. How "Think and Grow Stylish" is that?

    "Think and Grow Chick" of the Day: Meet the Urban Paper Princess Kia Howey

    In an effort to showcase other Think and Grow Chicks who are achieving their goals and reaching their dreams, I'd like to present to you the first interview of the series with Kia Howey, founder of UrbanPaperLoft.com

    (Photo by Jasiatic @ createtressphotography.blogspot.com

    Hello Kia! Welcome to Think & Grow Chick, a blog were I document achievement of goals important to young, black women. Can you start off by telling our readers what it is that you do? What is a typical day in your life like? 

    Pretty busy. I work full time as an Internet Communications Manager at a company that makes arts and crafts products. So my 9-5 day is pretty busy. Often I work on my own collection at lunch. I have two children who are 8 and 2 which also keeps me busy. I work a lot on my own business in the evenings and on the weekends. I try to make time each day to do something. Sometimes it is two hours and sometimes it is 15 minutes. I use my days to plan what I need to so, so that when I do have time I can hit the ground running. I keep running lists of thing that need to happen.

    How did you get into your current space in life? Can you tell us about your background?

    I've been interested in design since early grade school. When I was in high school, I took an advertising design class that exposed me to the world of graphic design and was hooked. I studied graphic design at Florida A & M University and Temple University. While at FAMU, I had a professor who had been a board game designer and was introduced to the world of product design.

    When I finished school I moved to Atlanta. My first job out of school was a very typical layout design job. Then by luck, was able to join the IBM web design team (with no web experience). This was pivotal experience because it gave me a background in web design and exposure to project management in general-two skills I still use.

    Several other important things happened in Atlanta. In no particularly order, I married my husband, had a child and made a big jump into working for myself- my husband and I opened a juice bar, and I also did freelance design work. This was at a time when the economy was very tenuous (similar to now), the dot com boom was crashing and 9-11 had just happened. My lesson from that was to always keep multiple revenue streams open and be prepared for change.

    After several years, I had an opportunity to go back to work full time. Shortly after that, I went to work as a temp. at a company that manufactures products in the crafts industry and I've been there ever since. I started as a product designer and now work as the communications manager for the website. I've continued to gain a lot of knowledge from my job about product design, product development and marketing. I've also been delving deeper into the world of social media and web communications.In 2008, as part of my own business, I launched two websites: Kia Nicole (kianicole.com) and Urban Paper Loft (urbanpaperloft.com).

    I understand that you studied both at FAMU and Temple University. What were your goals in college? Did they change over time, or did they always lead to what it is you are doing now?

    Yes and no. I wanted to be in design and that has never changed. I did go through a period where I feel like I lost track of what it is I wanted versus school programs and curriculum. My lesson from that is when picking a college or job, you have to always ask "What do I want out of this?" It can be easy to began pursuing someone else's agenda for you rather than your own vision. If you can get something out of your situation that you need, whether it is experience, contacts, economic benefits—then that is cool. But if not, it may be time to move on or reevaluate.

    Please describe some of the realities of starting and running your own business. How has it been for you? 

    The biggest challenge for most small businesses is cash flow-managing your money as it comes in and out. The second challenge is usually time management or trying to wear too many hats at once. And that's no different for me.

    You currently work full-time while working on your business; tell us about how that's been for you. Do you have plans to leave your full-time employment?

    Well, it definitely requires big picture planning. My vision for myself is that I will be working for myself full-time in the future. I have done it before. I do want to have a level of stability with my business when I set out on my own again.

    How do you attract clients for your business?

    I've participated in The National Stationery show. I submit products to trade magazines like Stationery Trends and Greetings Etc. and have had work in both. I am about to do some big pushes to national magazines. Also, word of mouth and internet-blogs, facebook, etc.

    What is your stance on entrepreneurship verses employment? What are some of your personal entrepreneurial goals? 

    I have a very entrepreneurial spirit and have a family that had had some success as entrepreneurs. I think it is a mind set. But I think it is always important to have a PLAN B (and maybe C) As we've seen with this economy, you can go from a six figure job to nothing at all with no prospects. You should always have something you can do for extra income, whether it is sewing or a trade or a full fledged business.

    If you had to work with a young woman and help her start her business, what are some key principles you would be certain to stress to her? 

    Do a business plan. It will stress you out and it will change over time, but it will let you know if you have a viable product. Sometimes the numbers just don't make sense. If the numbers don't make sense, you have to explore other options. If you can't commit to doing a business plan, you may not be ready for business. Ask for help. SCORE and SBA are great-all the free help you need is out there. Sometimes you have to be very persistent in order to get what you want but the resources are there. The most important thing is just do something! Don't overthink things--just get in action mode. You very rarely get it right the first time anyway, so you better get started now making mistakes and learning!!!

    You also have background working with IBM in web development. How important has the internet been in promotion? What are some of your recommendations for promoting on the internet? 

    Extremely. It is the primary way I meet and interact with people. There are great online tools for everything from book keeping to storing files that help with business. Also the world is moving from traditional 'advertising' to inbound marketing, which basically means that instead of just advertising (broadcasting out), you make yourself available to people who are searching for you. Social media, blogs and google are the way people look for products. People also rely on the reviews and opinions of their friends. The internet is integral in this. I do A LOT of e-classes and workshops and things like that to learn.

    I love how you say that a turtle is your mascot and you motto is "slow and steady wins the race". Can you give us some of your time management and goal achieving tips?

    Sure, very small consistent goals. Try to carve out some time each day for your own projects- even if it is just 10 minutes each day. Stay focused by writing things down. You can seem like things are going slowly and then have one big moment that changes everything, so you have to prepare for that.

    The style of your designs are great; they really embody an urban, black woman. How did you come up with the concept?

    I love the silhouette design trend that seems to be everywhere. You can find cute silhouettes of kids and horses and birds. But sadly, I've seen almost none with black women or any type of ethnic profiles. So that was my goal --but I wanted them to be funky.

    Tell us about Urban Paper Loft versus KiaNicole.com. 

    Kia Nicole is my signature collection, almost exclusively for kids. In addition to paper -party, birth announcements and such, I'm doing a very cool line of home decor that includes wall art, growth charts that I am hoping to expand. The cool thing about these products is that most can be personalized with skin tone and names. I wanted to do something so that every child can have things for their room that look like them. This is so important for children's self esteem.

    The Urban Paper Loft line delivers custom stationery with urban taste for adults. This line will be expanded to include different types of stationery with funky designs. These designs are influenced by art, music and urban life in general.

    Would you say that your personal style reflects that of Urban Paper Loft? What about KiaNicole.com? 

    That is an interesting question. I would say both. Part of me loves the more lighthearted and whimsical style of the Kia Nicole products. I love children and it is easy for me to illustrate in this style. The other side of me goes a little bit more sophisticated but still very fun loving.

    Describe your personal style. How has your personal style developed over time? 

    I love color. I love patterns. I love fashion and style but I also like like no fuss and stress. I like to find brands and products that work for me. Once I find something that works for me I am completely loyal.

    How does your personal style affect your approach to your business and clients?

    I'm learning more and more not to be afraid to really put my personality into the things that I am doing. The more I've been able to do this, the happier I have been with my work personally and also gotten more accolades.

    How can those of us without a design background, use design to make the simple things more interesting, like you do with your line of stationery?

    I'm working on creating a more beautiful environment every day. Whether that is my home or car or desk. It is a challenge for me. I'm a pack rat, so I am having to learn how to edit and tr how things away and only keep things that I love.

    What are some of your tips for developing a unique, fly sense of style in this poor economy?

    More than ever, I plan purchases. I've been doing an inventory of what I have, what types of things I really need and I shop accordingly. It takes a lot of the guilt out of shopping and makes it easier to discern between wants and needs. And don't get caught up in the Brand/Name game.

    What is your advice for women who want to break out on their own, but have families or other possible constraints?

    Surround yourself by positive people and things. Motivational resources like books and pod casts are great. Write down your goals and plans in a journal or
    sketch book. We all have personal challenges. When you read bios of successful people they have all overcome some obstacle or challenge.

    Do you have any upcoming projects? 

    I'm expanding both collections. For the Kia Nicole line, I hope to have design for all the most popular themes in kids room decor by early next year. I am also working on some different distribution plans for all my products.

    What are your personal measures of success? By your own standards, do you consider yourself successful? 

    If you do something you love and maintain personal integrity--I would call that a success!

    What is a “Think and Grow Chick” to you? 

    A fabulously inspiring woman who has a vision for her life and who uses her talents and gifts to create a better world for herself and her community.

    Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to share some insight with my readers. You are truly a “Think and Grow Chick”! 

    Is there anything else you’d like to share or that you want everyone to know about you? What are the best ways for one to get in contact with you? You can see my products at kianicole.com, urbanpaperloft.com. Thanks for taking time to plan this. Your blog is a great inspiration!

    Kia is sooo freaking amazing; what an inspiring woman. Be sure to check her out regularly at KiaNicole.com and UrbanPaperLoft.

    Are you a true "Think & Grow Chick" that would like to participate in the interview series? If so, email me a short bio and links to whatever it is that you do so that I can prepare an interview for you!

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Workin' It Out with NS1463: A Mini-Story

    Hey everyone! Here's a quick post with a video I was recently in for my friends start-up clothing company NS1463. He describes it as "A clothing company owned by a Nigerian...we're changing attitudes." Check it out!

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    How to Stay Chic When "On the Grind"

    Fall is officially here y'all; it was incredibly cold, dreary and rainy in The District today. As one who's not particularly fond of gross weather, I did what I always do on bleak, miserable days—I immediately went to grab the frumpiest outfit I could find and proceeded NOT to do my hair, all of course, with my usual “I'll be darned if I waste looking cute on such an ugly day” rational.

    It wasn't until I waltzed into class, almost proud of my decided commitment to “disheveled-ness”, did I realize how alone I was with this philosophy. With their leather boots, girly hoodies, and fitted wool coats, every single female classmate of mine arrived to class in style, apparently ready to get both their learn, and their fashion game, on.

    I sighed with exasperation as I slumped into my seat; every time I try to slack on Howard's campus, I'm quickly reminded that being on your grind is okay, but slippin' on style is not. So, in an ode to school pride, I've put together a list of things that will help stay on the chic and narrow, even when I'm on the grind...

    Oh how I LOVE Andrea from Fly. She is another one of my imaginary best friends, but I digress. The point is, she's always on the grind finding creative, interesting stuff to post on her blog, yet she can come up with the cutest hair style in no time! Besides being adorable, this look is great because it's a style within a style. Before bed or in the morning, wash your hair like normal, then put it in little twist. If your lazy like me, pin it up in a cute 'do like Andrea and leave them in for a few days or until you feel like taking them down. When you do, you'll have the cutest 'fro ever. How time/energy efficient is that?

    I couldn't include the staple of a leather jacket without featuring my girl Meagan! Now I know that many blogs have criticized Meagan over the years for seemingly wearing her favorite pieces too much, but I think Meagan's go-to outfit choices are just a testament to how real women operate...if your staples are fabulous, then you will certainly wear them more than once. Repeated wear, especially in this economy, is in fact, the point. Do yourself a favor and get a leather bomber before the weather really breaks and they get to expensive. If you're like me and not to scared to buy secondhand, then you can find some great leather jackets at area vintage stores or online.

    Jeans are a no brainer, I know, but you'd be surprised at how often you'd find yourself back in those busted sweatpants if your jeans aren't easy to wear or don't have the proper fit. Allow me to (re)introduce you to Gap, particularly their fabulous jeans. I have been all around the jean world, from Sevens to Earls to J Brands to Forever 21 and let me just tell you — Gap 1969 Premium Denim is the truth. Gap's denim rivals most premium brands; I own both a boyfriend cut and a skinny jean and I LOVE them! So why was I caught slippin' in class today you ask? Well, I'm still waiting on next weeks paycheck so I can run out and get the above, which is the "Real Straight" cut in "dark wash". There is nothing in the world more versatile. Mmmm, straight-leg, dark denim jeans...

    Ah! A simple, low-top converse. Chic in it's simplicity, this is the lightest, easiest sneaker to just throw on and go. Plus, they don't get so beat up looking because (1) they're black and (2) they're canvas, which means you can just throw them in the washer from time to time. These are the perfect shoes to put on when you have something better to do than think about what shoes you want to put on...

    So that's my list for "on the grind" chicness—a cute twist-up/twist-out 'do, a black leather bomber, some dark denim straight legs, and some simple black converse. What are your "go-to" items when you don't want to get caught slippin'? Share your comments below.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    The power of editing...learn it by watching Bravo TV

    Watching TV is a dangerous trap that seems to creep up during my strongest bouts of procrastination. What I should have been doing this morning was writing, but instead I was slipping into the vortex that is Bravo TV. While the ideals of entrepreneurship will always be my first passion, I get so easily sucked into anything that relates to fashion because as a concept, it's self-gratifying and liberating...much like entrepreneurship. My love affair with the world of fashion is especially dangerous when Project Runway reruns and the vintage clothing category on eBay are, respectively, a channel change and mouse click away...

    Halfway through the end of the season finale of The Fashion Show, my boyfriend called to reprimand me for my fashion-induced lack of focus, given I hadn't updated my blog all weekend (apparently he's an avid reader). Though I knew he was totally right, there was something about today's episode that felt like more than mindless TV. Here I was, in awe of one of the contestant's fashion collection only to watch all of the judges shoot her down for lack of consistency. At first I disagreed with the judges criticisms as I felt the contestant had designed brilliant clothes with lots of interesting patterns and shapes, but it wasn't until the last judge made her comments that I suddenly "got it".

    I paraphrase, but the judge said to the contestant, "What you've done with your work is create lots of beautiful, interesting chapters. I worry; however, that with all of these brilliant pieces that you've lost the storyline. You've forgot how to edit."

    I never expected to find today's post topic from reality TV, but what that judge said was genius. So often as ambitious, spritely, young adults we dive head first into a lot of truly exceptional projects only to lose the "storyline" of our true goals. I am so, so, SO guilty of this as I am blessed and cursed to be pretty good at a lot of different things. If we want to be truly successful at the things that mean the most to us, we really have to learn what it means to edit and ratchet our efforts down.

    A great article on this is The Power of One, from Life Learning Today (via Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.com). This article suggests that you rank all of your goals in order of importance, then work solely on the most important one until it is accomplished, then move down to the next one. Essentially, this method is the debt snowball of goal setting.

    While I agree that you have to create a hierarchy for goals if you ever hope to complete any of them, working on one at a time is just too limiting for me as there is a lot that I want to accomplish. My method for editing is to choose one goal per category in your life to accomplish at a time. The trick is then to pick goals that still relate to the other categories. For example, I have a goal of finding an effective workout routine that I can do on a consistent basis. Though this would fall under the "health" category in my life, it's related to my productivity and spirituality goals. In other words, its okay to work on more than one goal at a time as long as you're being incestuous about it; keep it all related. If you're really determined, keeping everything in an excel spreadsheet or a simple notebook can help.

    I know all this goal talk may seem geeky some, but it's really important to continuously edit yourself so that you can keep all of your energy focused. Had that contestant learned that, she might have had the winning collection.

    Had I learned that, I might have had this post written a whole lot sooner.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Up My Sleeve...

    Firstly, I'd like to apologize for the sporadic posting. Not only have I been knee deep in school work, but I've been working on a project that should be up and running by the end of October. What is this project you say? Well that, my friends, will be a secret until it's ready to be revealed.

    Because I'm really bad at keeping secrets however, I'm posting an article from Clutch Magazine that (1) has some great information and (2) alludes to what it is I got my hands in. If you think you know what I'm up to, tweet me @thinkngrowchick on twitter with your guess to receive something special when my project is out. Enjoy, and keep your eyes open ;-)


    The word on the street is vintage is back and better than ever! With the release of “Factory Girl” staring the fashionable Sienna Miller and celebrities rocking 70’s high waisted pants everywhere you look, vintage is definitely smoking hot. But honestly when is vintage not hot.

    In fashion, there is rarely a new idea or concept. Most current trends can be traced back to a vintage look or style. Many famous designers have made their mark by adding new twists to old looks. Marc Jacobs borrows heavily from the 80’s in his latest collection, and look no further than 70’s for Christian Louboutin platforms inspiration. So why go to the designers to spend thousands of dollars to recreate e a look when you can buy vintage, get the original look and spend much less?

    When buying vintage you want to set a price range. For instance, if you are going for a 60’s look and have a higher budget, invest in a Pucci piece. If your range is lower you can get the 60’s look with a funky mini dress and scarf. The Pucci piece will be more of an investment but the cheaper look will give you the same look without the price. Also, make sure not to look like your going to a Halloween party. You can avoid looking too costumey by not dressing in head to toe vintage. Mix some cool vintage finds with current pieces for a new twist on an old look.

    Inspect the vintage piece you intend to buy thoroughly if you can. If you are buying online, try to buy from a seller with a return policy. And read their ad carefully. Some vintage pieces can have extreme wear while others can be in almost new condition. Vintage doesn’t mean old and used. Look for pieces that can last for years to come.

    Now that you know what to look for when buying vintage, here are tips on where to look to get a great vintage find. Remember to go for classic pieces, invest wisely and put your own spin and flavor to old school pieces.

    Set it and Forget it: A Natural Hair Care Plan for the Lazy and/or Rebellious

    With all the information out there supposedly showing black women how to have fabulously long, strong, and wild natural hair, it's a little hard not to feel a bit overwhelmed. I mean, what on earth is a "baggie" and how often do I have to do it? Why do have to "protect my ends"...what if I want to show them off? Why do all the "natural" hair products cost a million dollars? Do I trim or don't I trim? Do I need to see a hairdresser when I'm natural, or not? Is shampoo allowed or am I forced to wash my hair with just conditioner for the rest of my life? What happens when I go on vacation and the airport takes away my 16 oz bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil? Do I have to do a hot oil treatment before swimming? Why are there so many RULES???

    All of these questions weigh infinitely heavier on me when you couple them with the fact that I am a bum. Well not a total bum, but I do tend to bum out on things when I feel I have something more important on my plate. Don't get me wrong, hair is important ("hair is a woman's greatest accessory") but what happens when...oh I don't know, you have a 10 page research paper due for class next week? What happens when you're finally gaining traction on that clothing line you've been designing for 5 years? When you get that promotion at work and your hours increase? When your boyfriend comes over more often? When you're taking more time to volunteer with your church? What happens when, oh I don't know, life becomes kind of interesting and you can't spend 4 hours before bed every night massaging your scalp and "deep treating" your ends? Are Black women forever relegated to that back of the Pretty Hair Bus if we don't spend infinite amounts of time (and money) on our locks?

    Call me rebellious, call me lazy, but I simply refuse to spend exorbitant amounts of my time on my hair anymore in the hopes of achieving hair greatness. Back in August, in my "Think and Grow Fabulous Hair" post, I prescribed myself the following plan:
    1. Track my progress obsessively
    2. Tie my hair up every night or at least sleep in a silk pillow case to deter breakage
    3. Continue to wash and style my hair when it's parted into four sections for less breakage and easier manageability
    4. Keep hair inspirations nearby in either a physical or online scrapbook
    5. Use natural products
    6. Use Henna regularly
    7. Style my hair using the Twist n' Curl method to promote growth
    8. Get a support system! (i.e. naturallycurly.com hair forums)

    In a nutshell, I totally fell off from that plan. I wrote it because it was the best distillation of everything available online for natural haired women that I could come up with. Now that I am thoroughly exhausted with "doing my hair", I've stubbornly decided that oodles of effort is not what it takes for a Black woman to have nice, natural hair—especially if she's got other things to think about. My new plan is as follows:

    1. Track my progress obsessively Spend time on my hair when appropriate
    2. Tie my hair up every night or at least sleep in a silk pillow case to deter breakage Sleep in a satin bonnet cap—it's easy and it works on a myriad of hairstyles
    3. Continue to wash and style my hair when it's parted into four sections for less breakage and easier manageability Wash or co-wash my hair whenever I feel it needs it (generally every 3-4 days)
    4. Keep hair inspirations nearby in either a physical or online scrapbook When I see nice hair, I'll mentally note it and keep it moving
    5. Use natural products Use products that work (Raw Shea butter, Aubrey Organics Shampoo and Conditioner, and Kinky Curly Leave-In seem to do just fine)
    6. Use Henna regularly (Henna was way more hassle than it was worth...more on that in another post)
    7. Style my hair using the Twist n' Curl method to promote growth I like Bantu Knots—they take 10 minutes, require no heat, tools or supplies, and look great when you take them out
    8. Get a support system! (i.e. interact with people with nice hair who actively pursue other goals so that I don't sucked back into the "do your hair" vortex)

    So I don't know, maybe I'm a lunatic and will fail miserably with my new "set it and forget it" approach to my 'fro, but since I've been actively "doing" my natural hair for 6 years with pretty mild results, I think a more hands off plan is exactly what my hair needs. We shall see...

    How are all you naturals fairing with your quest for great hair? Is a certain amount of time on your hair required? Let me know by leaving your comments below...

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Follow Fridays on Think and Grow Chick

    Since joining twitter, I've gotten a lot of love on "Follow Fridays" (#FF, #FollowFriday) where everyone shares people they recommend following. This blog is really unique because it's all about achieving things important to young women like you and me—what better way to drive the Think and Grow Chick mission home then by taking time to introduce other "Think and Grow Chicks"...which is all of you!

    If you're a cool chick trying to achieve something–anything—drop me an email at thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com so that I can set up an interview. My goal is to showcase a cool, go-getting chick (or dude!) every Friday so that I can follow your progress, just how you all follow mine.

    See you this Friday!

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Learn Something From Gary Vaynerchuk Today

    During one of my regular web-surfing-for-freelance-tips-and-entrepreneurship-advice sessions (I seem to drift into one anytime I'm on the computer), I came across the name Gary Vaynerchuk. Curious about the funky last name, I went to his website only to learn that he's a young business guru, having brought his father's wine business from a few million a year to 50+ million a year using unconventional methods. The video below is of Vaynerchuk and other business men and women who have followed some of his principles, on the show Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.

    This clip was so good, I watched it twice, back-to-back and took notes. As you all know, I'm crazy passionate about starting businesses, projects, and whatever else; this video was the most concise and informative advice I've ever heard on starting something and making it great. Many of you that I follow on twitter and other blogs express dreams of starting your own clothing lines, boutiques, beauty lines and other small businesses. Hopefully this video will be as enlightening for you as it was for me.

    Notes (they make more sense if you watch the video first):

    • Be as real or transparent as possible
    • Don't follow trends; find them! Talk to everyone you can to see what's going on. (i.e. Vaynerchuk knew that Australian and Spanish wines would eventually be bigger than California wines because people liked California wines for their bold, fruity flavor, and Australia and Spain had wines that emphasized that palette even more than California)
    • If you invest in anything, invest in talent (it's the people, stupid!)
    • Create a category vs playing in a category
    • Make friends outside of your obvious network (ex. Wine guy speaks at technology conferences instead of wine events)
    • 1 Million people is worth way more than 1 Million dollars; social equity is priceless
    • Sell something higher than just your product (i.e. Bose doesn't sell audio equipment, they sell an experience. Mercedes doesn't sell cars, they a lifestyle. Dior doesn't sell clothes, they sell high glamour. Find out what your target customer is really looking to buy, then sell it to them)
    • Position your product/service next to related products/services, not competing ones (i.e. Borba had Sephora place his vitamin water next to skin care products, not other vitamin water products)
    • Promote your product before it's ready (Borba got People Magazine to report on his idea 4 months before it actually came out, so that when it did come out, people were already excited about it)
    • Don't let anyone tell you how you how to get it done; do it any way you can without worrying about "rules"
    What do you think? Are you motivated in to action? What are you working on? Share your comments below.

    Global Inspiration for a Quirky Personal Style

    Since I'm on a style kick today, I was doing a little research on one of my favorite magazine's website, luckymag.com and came across an article on global style. What was most captivating about the article was not what the women were wearing (even though all of them were well-dressed), but rather the specifics and limits each woman featured imposed on herself about her own style. Comments like, "I stay away from lipstick at all costs..." made me think about what it means to have personal style in the first place. When we're trying to reinvent a look, I think it's very easy to slip into the habit of subscribing to every look, trend, and fad in the effort to "be stylish". What the women of the article were all alluding to, was that they each have great style for the things that they don't wear as much as for the things that they do. The reasons why they don't wear certain things varied ("...I look like a 10-year-old girl who wants to look like her mother!") but their choices were intensely personal and made their style stand out as their own rather than that of some celebrity or fashion magazine.

    Over the last few weeks, I've been working towards my goal of rebuilding my wardrobe and looking more "grown-up". While I totally recommend looking to others (i.e. my obsession with Tracee Ellis Ross) for style inspiration, it's important to keep your personal tastes and needs in the forefront. In an effort to follow my own advice, below is a list of my own personal style quirks that I'm keeping in mind on my quest for a more grown up look:

    1. I recently read a quote in a West Elm catalog that said "I'm not a fan of brights. I think earth tones are good for the soul." I instantly thought, "Wow, that's me!" even though I thought I was a colorful dresser all l this time. I love grey, black, cream, and neutral colors, so I guess I can quit trying to force myself to incorporate colorful pieces just because I thought it was something you're supposed to do.
    2. I adore the look of heels and really do wish I could wear them all the time, but in reality, I love flats for their convenience and comfort. Despite my taste, I am a flats girl unless, as one .
    3. I think simple sneakers can be really elegant. The original All-Atar Chuck Taylors don't look good on me because my feet are too big (size 10, baby!), but the slimmer, skipper-style "Chuck Taylor Light" sneakers look great on me. They only come and cream and black, which is enough variety for me.
    4. I've always been drawn to that laid back, California style because I need to be comfortable. I wish I could dress as unreasonable as some of the things I see in fashion magazines, but at the end of the day, I need to feel as good as my clothes make me look. Jersey cotton, silk, and cashmere are some of my favorite textiles.
    5. I love a jean with a great fit, but I realize that can include more than skinny jeans. 90% of the time you can find me in low riding skinny jeans...I want need to branch out to straight legs, bootcuts, and wide-legs with a higher rise.
    6. Speaking of jeans, I really want to experiment with colors other than blue. Black, grey and pastel jeans will really add dimension to my otherwise neutral color pallet.
    7. Much to the chagrin of my boyfriend, I looove pockets and hoodies...on anything! Dresses with hoods, shirts with side pockets, it doesn't matter. Don't ask me why I like 'em, I just do.
    8. I had so many dresses in my wardrobe at one point that I had to remind myself to put on some pants. I am the queen of dresses. If I could wear a dress everyday, I would. I think dresses are incredible feminine, comfortable, and are the easiest way to look pulled together.
    9. I don't really spend a lot of energy picking out tops. I tend to make my pants, shoes, or accessories the focal point of an outfit rather than the blouse I'm wearing. When I do go shopping for shirts, I like to look for basic tops with interesting cuts, shapes or details.
    10. I love pieces that accentuate the waist—cinched jackets, wrap dresses and belted tops are all easy ways to add a little oomph to an outfit.
    To keep these things in mind, below is a sampling of look I've been playing with on ShopStyle. If any of you do wardrobe building on ShopStyle, you can find my looks under ThinkandGrowChick. What are your fashion quirks? Have any of you had success building a wardrobe? Share your comments below or email me to be featured.

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    The Revolution Will Not Be...Stylized?

    Those of you who were following my tweets a few days ago heard a lot about my school, Howard University, and the protest the entire student body and faculty had outside of the Administration Building. I won't spend my time here going over what the protest was about, but it was so big that my lovely campus was to make an appearance on the evening news. As a student, I feel like my fellow students were totally justified in the protest and articulately conveyed our position to ABC's news anchors. That said, I can't help but cringe at the thought...

    "What were my fellow students wearing??"

    I know, I know, I shouldn't be preoccupied with my peers' fashion when there are serious matters at hand...but...ya'll don't understand how severe fashion is at Howard University. I do and will always love the creativity and progressiveness involved in the way many of my fellow students dress. Below is a slideshow a friend put together for his blog a few years ago.

    Like I said, the fashion is innovative—even a little crazy at times. If you tuned-in to the news, I'm sure you and the whole world know what I mean. My dilemma is, as an engineering student, I can't do things like wear 5-inch heels and leopard print tights to class and still hope to be taken seriously by my professors. Since I lost all my clothes in a flood, I'm trying to rebuild my wardrobe so that I emanate that grown, ultra-stylish mystic. The question is how do I do that without looking like I spend more time in Bloomingdale's than in my Organic Chemistry textbook? Is it possible to be both fashionable and reasonable at the same time?

    My fashion problem is compounded with my financial problem; not only do I need an ├╝ber-chic look that refrains from screaming "fashion slave!", I need it on a budget.

    So what it one to do when in doubt? Look to someone else who knows what they're doing! Below are a few famous women with style that, at least I think, fit the "un-fussy fashionista" bill:

    As one Concreteloop.com reader commented, "I want to be Tracee Ellis Ross when I grow up."

    Now ya'll know I wasn't going to write a post about fashion and style and not include Tracee! Don't act like you don't know that me and Tracee are (imaginary) best friends...

    Seriously, no matter where this woman is going or what she's doing, she always look SPOT ON for the occasion, which is what fashion is all about. A gorgeously ornate cocktail dress means nothing if you're wearing it to the grocery store. Contrary to popular belief, fashion is as much about context as it is about the clothes. Tracee artfully demonstrates this at nearly every appearance.

    With her carefree air and frequent nods to vintage, Blake Lively (Yes, "Serena" on Gossip Girls for those of you who won't admit you watch it sometimes) is "stylish school girl" alter-ego. Most everything she wears is (obviously) chic enough to be featured in magazines, but is also easy, functional, and fit for someone like me who is in school 5 days a week. While my classmates are emulating Rhianna's super-tight acid wash jeans and punk-rock stilettos, I'll be taking notes on Blake's effortless jeans, boots, and t-shirt combos.

    Who doesn't love Tia??? Watching her grow from a cute teenager on Sister, Sister to a talented powerhouse on The Game should be reason enough to fawn over newlywed, Tia Mowry Hardrict.

    I love Tia because before anything, the girl is smart and talented. Behind the brains is then Tia's beauty and great style. I'm always amazed at how underrated she is as a trendsetter; Tia is the epitome of what it means to be "put-together". From her hair to her makeup to her nail polish, Tia's overall look is always just fantastic.

    The above women are who I'll be studying this semster for effortless style in and outside of class. I know a lot of my readers are also busy women with a penchant for fashion. What looks are you ladies checking for? How do you keep it all together without looking overdone? Share your tips and stories below.