If only life was easy...
You wouldn’t have to worry about money, or a job. You could live your life doing things you enjoy… like traveling the world, going to all your favorite restaurants, spending time with your family, whatever!
Of course nothing that is great comes easy (hence the subheading above), so unfortunately you do have to worry about money to be able to do the things you enjoy, whether on the side or full time.
But what if you actually made what you enjoy your job? Would you be happy to go to “work”? Most people say when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life… well I’m with the other half that says when you love what you do, you’ll be working nonstop, but the only difference is YOU’LL LOVE IT!
And we have entered a really amazing time. *Cue Drake WATTBA*
People are making serious CASH doing the most random things. Eating large amounts of food on video (Mukbang, anyone?), sending messages to people on a potato (yes thats a real thing)… the list goes on. My point is, we’ve reached a point where consumerism outweighs peoples NEEDS. You can pretty much do anything, and have a market for it. No one needs to send you a potato with a message written in Sharpie. BUT THEY DO. To me that just means we are at a point in our economy where a lot people have the ability to spend their money (or time) on whatever they want.
In the same breath, so many young creatives are moving towards entrepreneurship instead of (or in addition to) the regular 9-5’s with serious businesses. So many women have gone from regular blogger to influencer to owning a full-blown makeup line over a matter of years (and lots of hard work). The internet and social media has allowed us to turn our hobbies and interests into businesses. And our generation wants to cash in.
In October 2016 I got my first DevaCut (curly haircut). At the age of 27. For years I had dreaded going to the salon out of fear that the hairdressers would butcher my curls. To this day, most hairstylists are not trained to properly care for textured hair. Growing up, most people had always known me to be the “curly girl” as I was the only one in my hometown in San Diego county with super curly hair. Yet, there are so many natural curly haired women (and men) all over the world.
During that time I began finding different “curly bloggers” and the beginnings of the curly hair community on Instagram and social media. I thought to myself, “where has this been all my life?” The curly community in Southern California was nonexistent. Then I saw New York blogger All Things Ada hosting a national curly meetup tour sponsored by Kia, with one of the stops in Los Angeles. KIA – A car company, sponsoring a curly hair meet up tour!
Hmmmmm…I think to myself.
I love planning and hosting events.
I want to build a community of (curl)friends in San Diego.
What if I created my own events?
So the thought was born. Half inspired, half created out of need, out of want.
Ada was one of the first curly bloggers I started following, and seeing her natural hair meet up tour was a huge inspiration. I started the paperwork for Naturally Beautiful in March with plans to launch at the end of June. Her Los Angeles event was at the beginning of June and I actually ended up driving from San Diego to Los Angeles to meet her and experience the event. At the event I told her that she inspired me to create my own meet up, and two weeks after that, we held our very first event and launch party, CURLS NIGHT OUT in San Diego, CA.
Naturally Beautiful is born!
I had no idea how to start my own business or what to do, but I felt passionate. About something I had no experience in. That’s how I knew it was the right idea.
I began doing my research, looking at other events, looking at different companies, looking at basically anything I thought would help me start a business. I found many resources, but to be honest, didn’t really know what I was doing.
All I knew was that I wanted to bring together a community of women and create a safe space to celebrate our natural beauty.
So I chose a name, bought the domain, decided on a date for the launch party, found a venue to host our event, and started looking for brands to partner with. I had some money saved that I was planning to use for the launch party to pay for the venue and food and drinks. I figured if the event was not a success, at least I had a really fun party. My birthday is the 20th of June so I also figured if anything this would be a cool 28th bday present to myself.
Again, I didn’t know what I was doing at first, so I was just asking brands for samples or products in exchange for promotion at our event. To much surprise and excitement, I ended up with over 15 sponsors for our launch party, many of which are top natural hair care brands.
Our launch party, Curls Night Out, was held on June 24th 2017 in San Diego, California and had over 25 women and allies attend, several of whom drove from Los Angeles! Most of our guests came alone or with a plus one, but by the end of the night it was like a gathering of close friends. During the event, I spoke briefly about the reason behind Naturally Beautiful, and about my own personal journey embracing my natural hair. Guests enjoyed mimosas, sangria, appetizers, swag bags with FULL and sample sized products, raffle prizes valued over $300, and we had local influencers Michelle Ledger (@wanderlustcurls) and Kai Frias (@ckfrias) as our special guests.
After that night, I had so many messages from the attendees saying what a great event it was and how much they enjoyed it. They also started asking me when the next one was. It was then I knew that I had created something worth doing. These women had felt empowered at my event. They felt represented. They felt like they were understood. They felt like they had finally found a community of women who they could relate to – physically, mentally, emotionally. Which is exactly what I was trying to accomplish.
Three months after our launch party, I hosted our second Curls Night Out (Sept 2017), this time with Special Guest Mahisha Dellinger, CEO of Curls, local San Diego curl specialist @curlyhairdaze, and former influencer Kai Frias (@ckfrias). We had about twice the turnout from the first event and a lot more interest from brands and potential guests. This event solidified to me that I was on the right path and to continue to pursue my passions.
In December of 2017, just another three months later, I created our next experience – the Curl Class, which focused on teaching the everyday curly girl how to properly care for their curls. The first class tickets were sold out within an hour of going live. Since then we have expanded our classes to include stylists, and cover everything from what to avoid, to protection, product recommendations, maintenance, full washing/styling demos, cutting, coloring, and more.
As of today, I am about 2 months away from celebrating my 2 year anniversary for Naturally Beautiful. Since our launch, we have hosted over 12 of our signature experiences in major cities such as San Diego, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, San Francisco, & Miami. We are so grateful to have been able to partner with 40+ of the most amazing brands and influencers, all while continuing to grow our amazing community.
I am also extremely pleased to announce that I have expanded my business, and now offer services to other companies and brands, specializing in experiential events, project management, and influencer marketing.
Through creating Naturally Beautiful, I was approached by one of our Curls Night Out event sponsors about providing my event planning services to help plan and project manage a multi city international experiential event tour to showcase their new product collections. At the end of 2018, they hired me as project manager and so far we have already completed one of the installations in Miami, and the next one is in May in Chicago and in Toronto in August.
As project manager, I am responsible for the planning, design, marketing, influencer relations, and day of coordination for the event(s). Everything from scouting venues and contacting vendors, to reaching out to influencers and special guests, to creating custom food and cocktail menus, to getting custom decorations, to coordinating with the graphic designers to design marketing materials – I do it all!
And, at the beginning of this month, I was hired to run an influencer brand ambassador program for a small woc-owned business that I love.
I cannot express how happy I am to be able to say that I have my own business PLUS two clients (one MAJOR client at that) that I gained through Naturally Beautiful. I can honestly say I did not picture this or even imagine that this is something that could happen just by starting my dream business.
I just knew I had a vision, a dream. And I worked my ass off to make it a reality.
I am so proud of myself for doing it all on my own. I had no outside help from advisors, investors, or mentors! Google was (and still is) my best friend. My husband was definitely there to support me along the way and help me with the heavy lifting… thank you Sammy! Without him I could not have pursued this full time and still live comfortably. But, trust me, we have sacrificed a lot. Some days we were struggling to make ends meet. I am lucky enough to have a partner who believes in my vision and my dreams.
I learned A LOT along the way. And I’m still learning, even now. I don’t know everything, and I know that. But with everyday I hope to get better and continue to grow my business. If I would have waited to know how to do everything, or until I had enough money, or could do everything “perfect”, I promise you, I would have never started. You just have to start NOW, with all the unknowing, with all the fear, with all the excitement. And just go for it!!!