#BlackBusiness of the Week | "Black" Pin Makers

Black Business Trend Alert: Pins!!!

Those who know know me, know that I love accessories. Earrings, bags, shoes, bracelets, head bands. I love them all. And now, I love pins.

I first noticed the pin trend several months ago on Instagram (where I discover most of my favorite black businesses). With pins featuring a variety of afrocentric messages (e.g., "black girl magic" and "black & proud") and images (e.g., Michelle Obama and afro-haired women), I had to get some.

The first pin I bought was a 

"She's Gotta Have It" brooch (priced at $25) by Rachel Stewart Jewelry

. This solid wood brooch is inspired by the Spike Lee movie of the same name and is F-L-Y. Every time I wear it, I receive tons of compliments about its beauty and questions about where I bought it.

At work wearing my "She's Gotta To Have It" brooch and "Still I Rise" pin. 

The past two months I have gone pin crazy. First, I bought a

"Still I Rise" lapel pin (priced at $10) by Radical Dreams

 to represent my love for the famous Maya Angelou poem, and then two weeks later, I bought their

kneeling "Colin Kaepernick" lapel pin (priced at $8)

to show my support for the former NFL player and his fight against racial injustice and police brutality against black people in America. I have worn these pins several times this past month to keep me motivated on the days that I feel weary and frustrated with the things happening in this post-Obama world. Most recently, I purchased an

"I'm Judging You" pin (priced at $14) by Pin Vibes LA

. This metal pin is part of a special collection celebrating the release of

I'm Judging You: A Do Better Manual

by Luvvie Ajayi aka

Awesomely Luvvie

. I love to wear this pin to work (use your imagination on why 😬).

Judgey but motivational with my "I'm Judging You" and "Still I Rise" pins.

I like to make statements with my clothes and accessories. And, anything that allows me to show my love for black culture and black people and be fashionable is a must-have for me. I absolutely LOVE the fact that "black"pins allow me to express my pride, my beliefs, and my mood without having to say a word.

They are great for work and play. You can wear one pin, or a bunch of them, anywhere. Pin them to your jackets, shirts, bags, or hats.

Make a statement with your accessories and check out these black pin makers today.

#BuyBlack Spotlight: Iman Cosmetics

I love Iman Cosmetics!!! (

*Oprah voice*

)

I started following the beauty brand on Instagram two months ago after seeing a beautifully rich wine-colored lipstick while exploring the app. I immediately liked the picture and then left a comment under the picture asking about the name of the lipstick and where I could purchase it. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they sold the lipstick and other Iman Cosmetics products at Walgreens.

I have known about Iman Cosmetics for years. I remember when it started over a decade ago as beauty brand that made makeup for women of color. But for a long time, I thought it was a high-end makeup brand like MAC or Dior that was only sold at department stores and that cost between $30 to $50 per item. This past year I have seen Iman Cosmetics featured on various best beauty brand lists in Essence and Ebony magazines. 

After finding the lip color (which is Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Opal) in one of my local Walgreens stores in Boston (and seeing the affordable price of $10), I decided to finally try out the brand. I went to the beauty brand's website imancosmetics.com and downloaded their suggested Iman Cosmetics Beauty app, which provided customized Iman product recommendations to match my unique Color Signature, based on facial recognition technology that analyzed my skin tone. The app helped me identify my concealer and foundation matches and also suggested lipsticks and eye shadows that would work well with my skin tone. 

For my first purchase, I bought the Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Rebel, Iman Second-to-None 

Stick Foundation

 in Clay 4, Iman

Corrective Concealer

 in Earth, and Iman Luxury 

Luxury Lip Shimmer

 in Honey from walgreens.com (also available at amazon.com). The products arrived at my house within 5 days. I tried each product out immediately and I fell in LOVE with them. 

The concealer and stick foundation matched my skin color so well and provided such great coverage. When I wore it, my friends and my family immediately noticed the difference and complimented me on my makeup. Iman Cosmetics makeup products gave me such a beautiful, healthy glow. Within a month, I got my mom and my best friend to purchase and try out Iman Cosmetics products. I also purchased two more lipsticks, another lip shimmer, and the new Iman 

Luxury Concealing Foundation

 in Earth 3. 

As a black woman, I really appreciate the quality, price, availability, and color options of Iman Cosmetics. I am tired giving my money to beauty brands that do not care enough to create products that match my skin color. Creating one or two "dark" or "brown" foundation or concealer for women with brown pigmented skin is ridiculous, exclusionary, and outdated. Black, latina, and other non-white women come in a variations of colors and make up significant portion of the female population. We need more than one or two shades to cover our beautifully diverse skin colors (I am looking at your Maybelline. Your

FIT ME Matte & Poreless Foundation

has only one color for brown skin).   Iman Cosmetics is made for us by us (F.U.B.U). Model and creator Iman is a beauty icon with a passion for creating products that match ALL women, from the very fair-skinned to the very dark- skinned. 

I have been searching for new makeup products for women of color, after my local Target stopped carrying Covergirl Queen Collection products (which I started using in 2010). Iman Cosmetics came into my life at the right time. As an advocate for supporting black-owned businesses, I have committed to making my personal cosmetics and beauty collection at least 90% black-owned beauty products by the end of 2017.

Ladies, I highly suggest you check out Iman Cosmetics. You won't regret it!! 

Here are my three favorite Iman Cosmetics products thus far: 

Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick, Opal

My Locs Wash & Retwist Routine

Had to start the new year with some fresh and clean locs. Check out my latest video chronicling my entire wash and retwist routine.

Products used in video:

Loreal EverPure Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner: http://amzn.to/2kyOL0k

Joie Naturals MyGel : http://amzn.to/2kyGut3

Laila Ali Iconic Soft Bonnet Dryer: http://amzn.to/2kyFF3F

Jamaican Mango and Lime Original Black Castor Oil : http://amzn.to/2k90I07

Hollywood Beauty Morocco Argan Oil: http://amzn.to/2kyOSJb

My Favorite Natural Hair Products for Cleaning My Locs

I compiled a list of my favorite products to use to clean and condition my locs. Check out why I love these products in the video below.

Products Featured:

SheaMoisture

Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow & Restore Shampoo

SheaMoisture

Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow & Restore Conditioner

Aztec Secret

Indian Healing Clay

Dove

Quench Absolute Shampoo

Figuring Out Weight Loss: My Review of the Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours 4-Week Meal Plan

It is a kinda funny story how I ended up on a Nutrisystem 4-week meal plan. 

Four weeks ago, during my weekly dinner with my father, he asks me if I have thought about joining Weight Watchers. I was totally taken aback by this question and a bit offended. Why was my father asking me about joining Weight Watchers? At that time, I had already lost 10 lbs on my own. Could he not see my progress? Was he trying to tell me I was fat and needed professional help to slim down? 

So, of course, I got in my feelings and responded with an emphatic "No." I told him that I was not interested in joining a weight loss program because they cost money that I did not have to spare. Despite my response, he kept pressing me and even offered to pay if I wanted to join.  I laughed at his proposal and then later went home and told my mother about the conversation. I thought she would be mad at my father for asking me to join Weight Watchers, but she wasn't. She was actually mad at me for refusing his offer to pay for a weight loss program. She reminded me of how expensive eating healthy is and of how getting my father to pay for a healthy meal program, even if it was only for 4 weeks, could save me hundreds of dollars. 

As much as I hate to admit it, I quickly realized that my mother was right. I was not in a position to turn down an opportunity for free healthy food. 

I headed to the Google to do some research. I looked up Weight Watchers and found out that although they sold frozen foods in the supermarkets, they did not offer what I was looking for, home delivery meal plans. Disappointed  I moved onto the next big name weight loss program, Nutrisystem. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Nutrisystem had exactly what I was looking for. Nutrisystem offers three different 4-week meal plans at affordable prices: basic, core, and uniquely yours. I told my dad about it and after some bantering with him (because he insisted that he only offered to pay for Weight Watchers and not another program), I got him to pay around $340 for a 4-week meal plan. 

I picked the uniquely yours meal plan, which included a choice of over 150 meals and snacks and unlimited frozen foods (starting at $11.96 a day). For signing up, I also got a two week supply of their turbo 10 protein shakes. 

My Review

Delivery, Packaging, and Food Selection: 

The food arrived a week later in two separate shipments--one for the non frozen foods and another for the frozen foods (which arrived in a dry ice-filled styrofoam cooler). When I opened the boxes, I was a bit overwhelmed by how much food I received. I had to actually rearrange the pantry and freezer to fit in all of the food I received, which included breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The great thing about the food was that the boxes are clearly marked with the nutritional content, calories, and designated meal. 

Some of the food items I received were frozen cinnamon rolls, waffles, and turkey sausage egg sandwiches for breakfast, soups, steak and cheese melts, and mini pizzas for lunch, chicken parmesan, ravioli with meat sauce, and spinach-stuffed chicken for dinner, and fudge bars, slices of chocolate cake, and mini apple pies for snack. 

Taste:

Honestly, the food that I received varied in taste level. Most of the food tasted very good, such as the breakfast cinnamon rolls, the turkey sausage and egg sandwich,  the waffles and pancakes, the ravioli in meat sauce, the frozen hamburger and chicken sandwiches, and all of the frozen desserts. But there were a few meals that I felt tasted like bland diet food, such as the protein shakes, pasta, the bean chili, and the soups. 

Also, I must note that the portion sizes of all meals that I received were child size. Imagine a McDonalds happy meal versus a Big Mac combo meal. Get the picture? Tiny!!! I assume that the small portions are to keep the meals under 300 calories. But, it is very jarring when you first replace your regular meals with Nutrisystem meals. 

The first time I opened up one of their frozen personal pizzas I laughed and immediately opened another one to eat for my dinner. It felt unnatural to eat such a pizza for dinner that was the size of my hand. Eventually, I learned to pair the pizza with a small salad and a glass of grapefruit juice or red wine, instead of doubling my Nutrisystem meals to fill my stomach. 

Overall Value and Recommendation: 

I recommend the Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours meal plan with reservations. If you are looking for a home delivery program with a large variety of low calorie meals

and

 you have about $350 to spare to buy 4 weeks of prepackaged meals at one time, I recommend you try out this meal program. It definitely helped with my weight loss goals because I always had low calorie foods that I could quickly and easily heat up for my daily meals. I had no excuse for stopping at Wendy's for fast food because I had large variety of "fast" foods at home that I could eat guilt-free without having to spend time prepping and cooking food. 

BUT, if you do not have $350 to spend at one time on food, I would NOT recommend you pay for a Nutrisystem meal program. You pay the same amount of money or more in total on groceries throughout the course of a month. But, it is not the same as paying over $300 dollars on food at one time for prepackaged/frozen meals. The conveniences is not worth the financial burden. Nutrisystem is a subscription meal program so they are going to automatically charge your credit card every month unless you suspend or cancel your subscription. I canceled my subscription after 4 weeks because I can't afford the fee and my dad only agreed to pay for one month for me. 

Product Review: Nestle Splash

I love water (**Oprah voice**). 

Drinking water can aid weight loss. Thirst is generally mistaken for hunger, so staying hydrated can help keep you from overeating. Water fills your stomach and leaves less room in your stomach for food. Studies have shown that people who drank at least a glass of water before meals ate 75 calories fewer. 

I love the taste of water. But if you do not, then you may want to try out the

Nestle Splash Natural Fruit Flavored Water.

I received a free bottle of mandarin orange flavored Nestle Splash, along with some cool sunglasses, a bendy straw, and a beach ball, from Influenster to sample.

I took this bottle (and the bendy straw) to work with me to drink during my two-hour lecture. Truthfully, I did not like the taste of the mandarin orange flavor. It tasted a bit artificially sweet to me. Because I did not have another beverage with me, I drank the entire bottle. It is a decent drink option, if you are thirsty or you hate the taste of plain water. Nestle Splash comes in different fruit flavors, including berry and grape, without the sugar or calories. Although I did not like the mandarin orange flavor, I would not mind trying the other flavors. 

I definitely recommend you try it if you need to drink more water and hate the taste or if you are looking for a new flavored water. 

Note: I received my Nestle Splash products complimentary from Influenster and am entering the Brand challenge for a chance to win a prize, but all opinions are my own. 

Product Review: c.Booth All-Over-Body Sea Salt Scrub

The Product:

c.Booth All-Over-Body Sea Salt Scrub

As the weather is getting colder in the Boston area, I have been looking for different ways to keep my skin smooth, soft, and hydrated. I have eczema, and as I have gotten older, my skin has gotten more and more sensitive. I have to be very careful about what I put on my skin from my body wash, lotions, perfumes, jewelry, and clothes.  

I really like to use sugar scrubs in the colder months to help with some of the rough patches that develop on my arms and legs. 

Before I could buy one for this Fall, I got selected by Influenster to try out this sea salt scrub by c. Booth for free. I got this container of sea salt scrub from Ulta Beauty  (priced at $8.99). 

My Thoughts: Recommend as a Winter Body Scrub

This was my first time using a sea salt scrub and I was not sure how it was going to compare to my usual sugar scrubs. When I opened the container, I immediately noticed that the grains were bigger than sugar scrubs and that the grains were a really nice blue color. The scrub has a nice fresh smell to match its sea-like blue color. The sea salt scrub scoops out of the container and rubs onto the skin very easily. I have used the sea salt scrub a few times over the past two weeks in the shower and I have definitely noticed a difference in texture of my skin. I focused the scrub on my elbows which were forming some rough spots. Now these rough spots are gone. The skin is visibly smooth and soft. I definitely recommend if you are looking for a quality scrub to help keep your skin smooth during these cold months.