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Tips

My hubby tells me quite frequently that he loves my smooth and soft skin. He’s kind of wonderful like that (don’t hate us :), we’re adorable). I have to be honest and admit it’s a compliment that I take great pride in receiving because I put a lot of effort into keeping my skin spring ready all season long.

2015-05-14 08.46.25I have really dry skin, which can be really painful if I don’t keep it moisturized properly. The winter can be especially tough because the cold, dry air outside doesn’t provide any natural moisture at all to my skin. And the high dry heat from indoor heating systems strips away my skin’s natural moisture.

Over the years, I’ve learned to be hypervigilant about making sure I keep my skin moisturized at all times. Within 20 seconds of stepping out the shower, I am slathered up and I cover every part of my body from my neck to my pinky toes.  I reapply the liquid gold to my hands every single time I wash them. I have to. My skin sucks up moisture like it’s sand in the hot sun.

I challenge you to try to catch me without a tube of good lotion in my purse, desk or gym bag – You never will :). In case you don’t know what my definition of good lotion is, let me explain. Squirt a glob of lotion in the palm of your hand and turn you hand upside down. If it’s watery and runs, I won’t try it. If it stays put, we are good to go.

2016-03-06 17.54.29AmLactin moisturizers have passed my good lotion test and I’ve been rocking with them this season to keep my skin winter-proof. The skincare line has really great user reviews and contains alpha-hydroxy therapy, which intensely hydrates and gently exfoliates dry, dead skin cells. It’s also the #1 moisturizer brand recommended by dermatologists for rough, dry skin.

2016-03-06 18.35.46I apply the AmLactin® Cerapeutic™ Restoring Body Lotion to my damp skin after I exit the shower and AmLactin® Ultra Hydrating Body Cream after I wash my hands throughout the day to keep my skin silky smooth. When my feet are especially dry or cracked, I’ll break out the AmLactin® Foot Cream before bed and cover them with socks overnight. My feet are usually baby smooth by the next morning.

 

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I will call out that while the AmLactin line is fragrance-free, it does have a faint medicinal smell when you first put it on, but it fades pretty quickly and feels like a small tradeoff for spring-approved, smooth and hydrated skin. The AmLactin line is available at local pharmacies and Amazon and runs between $7.59 – $15, so it won’t break the bank. You can also follow the brand’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for coupons and deals.

-XOXO Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress

Disclosure: Although this post is sponsored, all opinions and witty statements are my own:).

 

Uncover smooth, radiant skin with AmLactin Alpha-Hydroxy Skin Care. Its unique exfoliating and hydrating alpha-hydroxy therapy gently removes dead skin cells to reveal soft, hydrated skin. It’s the difference between skin care and skin therapy. AmLactin moisturizers are available on Amazon.com and at your local Target, CVS, Walgreens, Costco, Walmart and Rite Aid.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of AmLactin Skin Care. The opinions and text are all mine.

Woman ComputerEntrepreneurs are crazy people. Crazy in a mad genius sort of way, but crazy all the same. The belief that you can create a business from nothing but your passions and convictions and then inspire others to buy whatever you’re selling requires a certain level of off-center thinking that not everyone has. And, that’s ok. Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint-hearted and depending on your personality you might not be any good at it.

 

Here are five signs that you may fail at entrepreneurship (or anything), if you tried:

You Actually Are Afraid Of Failing

The idea of creating something new and being responsible for how it turns out is scary (just ask any new mom), but it shouldn’t paralyze you. Good entrepreneurs (or good professionals for that matter) use the fear of failing to propel themselves forward. It’s like adrenalin to them. Plus, they actually fear the thought of not trying more the idea of failing.

You’re Not Flexible

No business moves in a straight trajectory to profitability. There will be ups and downs and curveballs… Every. Single. Day. If you believe you will make it through by sticking to the business plan you created on day one, you will fail.

Things change. Customers are slower or faster to adopt than you thought, supplies become harder to get or more expensive, team members quit or have life emergencies. If you aren’t able to quickly adapt to changes in your business or marketplace, you will fail.

You’re Not Really Trying To Solve A Problem

If your main reason for wanting to start a business is you don’t like working for other people, you are most likely going to fail. Don’t get me wrong – this can be the reason that lights a fire under your booty to consider another path – but you’re in trouble if that is your main reason. First off, you never really stop working for “other” people. Once you start your business or start freelancing, you’re clients become your bosses. So, what’s going to inspire you to keep getting out of bed each morning or working past 3AM each night?

Great entrepreneurs are ones with a vision created by a mission to solve a real problem. They believe owning a computer will change people lives and want to find a way to make it affordable like Steve Jobs. They believe that transportation should be reliable and set out to make it so, like the founders of Uber or that burgers and fries should taste good and work to make the best ones, like the founders of Five Guys. You need to be clear on what problem you are seeking to solve to avoid failing.

You Rub People the Wrong Way

We all hear stories of that business person who is very successful despite the fact that people want to push him down the stairs every time he opens his mouth. The truth is these type of supernovas are extremely rare in the business world, mainly because no one really wants to be around a genius jerk all the time. You don’t have to be an extrovert or the social butterfly to be a great entrepreneur, but you do want people to not avoid you like the plague.

Life may not be a popularity contest, but business is. Some of the most popular products on the market are popular not because they are the best ones, but because people like who created them. Your personality is part of the package when you’re an entrepreneur, so pretending like it doesn’t matter if people like you is a sign that you don’t have what it takes to make it.   

You’re Scared of Taking Risks

Stepping out on your own is only one of the many risks you’ll have to take as an entrepreneur, especially in the early years. Will you fund your business with your savings or trade half your future equity to an investor? Will you hire seasoned employees or invest time in training up entry level staffers? Will you make your products in the States or import them in from China? Every decision you make as an entrepreneur involves some level of risk. The best entrepreneurs are able to evaluate even the riskiest options quickly and make a decision. Sometimes the decisions they make are wrong, but that doesn’t keep them from taking risks in the future. They just used what they’ve learned to keep taking smarter risks.

If you’re a risk adverse person who doesn’t thrive under pressure of having to navigate a tightrope of the unknown for a few years (or more) than you most likely wouldn’t make it as an entrepreneur.

Now that you’ve read all the reasons you might fail at being an entrepreneur – do you feel relieved or like you’ve just been challenged to take a leap of faith? In the end, the only way to know if you can make it as an entrepreneur is to try. I’m rooting for you.

 

– à bientôt

Charell Star | A Girl In A Dress

Closed BusinessIt takes a lot of courage to start a business. Entrepreneurship is a leap of faith and there are days when your passion and desire to succeed are the only things propelling your forward. There is a dire statistic that states, 50% of all new businesses fail within 5 years. Well if that’s true then 50% also make it through the challenging times and become the stuff of legend. If you want to go the distance, avoid these seven traps that are the cause of the most business failures:

Frustrated WomanNot Investing The Time

Coming up with a business idea is the easy part. Investing the time into making it a reality is the difficult part. Successful founders are those who get up early and stay late to work on their businesses and spend the time required to take their company a little further each day. Steve Jobs was reported to only sleep 4 hours a day and Martha Stewart and Melissa Mayer get about 4-6 hours of shut eye a night. You don’t need to go to that extreme, but do need to be focused on dedicating prime working hours to making your business successful over the long term.

 

 

Black Women FrownOverspending

Here is one area that trips up a lot of entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. There is such a thing as funneling too much money into your business. Booking a profit for a few months in a row or securing an investor is no a reason to double or triple spending, overextending your company. Keep your cash outlays within reason and invest smartly in one growth area at a time.

Underspending

To quote a bad pun, “you can’t make an omelet without cracking some eggs.” Being an entrepreneur and building a business takes money. You either have to invest the money yourself and/or convince others to invest. Either way, you need to ensure that you have the cash flow to keep your business floating from month to month. Be willing to make personal sacrifices, especially in the early stages of creating your company, so you’ll have enough funds to get all the right resources in place.

Having a Bad idea/Bad Product/Bad Service

This failure tends to occur either because the business owner didn’t test their product before launching or failed to continue to test their service after sales started. Don’t fall into the trap of believing, “if you build it they will come.” Whatever you are selling needs to be good and needs to solve a problem shared by a lot of people. Take the time to test your offering on as many people as possible before you do a full launch and continue to get feedback from clients after you launch.

Trying To Cheat Your Way To The Top

If the great ‘Instagram Purge of 2014′ taught us anything it was that the truth always comes to light when you’re a brand. Don’t try to cheat your way to success by posting fake reviews or “buying influence,” such as Twitter or Instagram followers to make your service look more popular than it is. An even quicker way to fail is to make claims about your service or product that you can’t prove. Spend the time cultivating a brand and company built on integrity and your clients will stick with you for the long haul.

Letting Others Demotivated You

There is a difference between listening to someone give you honest negative feedback and listening to someone give you negativity. Negative feedback can be used to make your company better and more relevant. Negative energy on the other hand serves no productive purpose in your business. You need to learn early to tune out naysayers and “haters” and focus on constructive criticisms that will help you succeed.

Jumping Ship too Early

One of my favorite business quotes has always been Thomas Edison’s, “many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” That is not to say that you should hang onto a business that isn’t working, but rather that you shouldn’t jump ship the first time things get a little tough. Sometimes the difference between failure and success is effort.

There are a lot of factors that play into making a company successful or a tale of caution. Some are out of your control, but you should take the time to focus on the areas that you can control. Use these 7 failure tips as a guide to help avoid the big business pitfalls and create a company that will have its doors open for years to come.

à bientôt

Charell Star | A Girl In A Dress

 

I once had the misfortune of listening to a business coach tell a room full of entrepreneurs, “you shouldn’t care if you employees are f***ing happy.” This business coach has made a ton of money and is pretty successful at her trade, but boy is she way off about how you should treat your employees. Besides the fact ignoring how the people around you feel will make you an awful individual, there are real business implications to not making sure your employees are happy working for you. Here are three great reasons to in invest in your employees happiness.

happy woman black workHappy employees equal happy clients

If your employees are happy, they keep your customers happy. This is especially important when it comes to face-to-face sales, relationship building and customer service. Companies like Zappos have mastered the art of leveraging happy employees to grow the bottom line and you should too.

Happy employees are more productive

The Container Store, a staple on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to work, uses the 1=3 rule at their store with much success. That is, they believe that one happy and productive employee will produce more quality results than three unhappy job coasters. So, they pay top wages, nearly double the industry average to secure and maintain the top talent. With sales of more than $800 million with only 67 US locations, those happy employees are proving them right.

Happy employees want to invest in where they work

Happy employees want to see their company succeed. This means investing more time, energy and better ideas. They will not only be vested in their personal growth, but also the growth of the organization as a whole. Happy employees are excited about coming to work and are more likely to act in the organization’s best interest because they feel apart of something bigger.

It’s important as business owners and managers to make sure that your employees are happy. Happy employees make the road to success a lot smoother and can make the time to get there much shorter. You may not be able to please everyone, but you should try to make the people who have a direct impact on your business success happy when you can.

à bientôt

Charell Star | A Girl In A Dress

Arianna Huffington is the no nonsense co-founder of the award winning site Huffington Post.  Launched in 2005, she began the site as a news aggregator and blog and has grown it to become one of the largest and most read online destinations in the world with more than 89 million readers monthly according to StatShow. In 2011, she sold the site to AOL for more than $300 million and became Editor In Chief of Huffington Post Media Group.

Named as one of Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women and Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Huffington is a tech powerhouse who has some amazing business lessons to share. Here are her top five best quotes that as sure to inspire the inner mogul in you:

“Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It’s the mastery of fear. It’s about getting up one more time than we fall down.”
“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”
“We may not be able to witness our own eulogy, but we’re actually writing it all the time, every day.”
“We all have within us the ability to move from struggle to grace.”
“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”

à bientôt

Charell Star | A Girl In A Dress

2014-10-25 10.34.52
Bevy Smith Taking Questions From the Audience

Bevy Smith has many titles: TV host, socialite, journalist, speaker; but she is all about being a success business woman first and foremost. I caught up with the Dinner With Bevy founder and Bravo’s Fashion Queens co-host at New York Women in Communication’s Teen Media Day at LIM College. Smith was the event’s keynote speaker and did not disappoint. She shared her non-conventional career journey with a packed audience and used her signature wit to inspire and motivate.

Smith started her career as a receptionist and transitioned herself in several successful opportunities including an advertising sales executive, reporter,  fashion editor, entrepreneur and TV host. Her Dinner With Bevy events have become her trademark platform and connects today’s hottest talent with the world’s top brands. Throughout the years, Smith has been able to make advantageous moves into new business areas because she focuses her energy on things that she is passionate about and doesn’t move onto a new role without mastering her current one.

2014-10-25 10.39.13The “accidental entrepreneur” had this advice to share: “I’ve always followed my interest. I try to work on things that I am really interested in.  When I get assignments or clients that I am passionate about, it makes it all worth it.  Transitioning is about following your passions, so that when you are going through lean times it won’t feel as bad because you are doing something you love.”

Additionally, Smith doesn’t advise just jumping ship before you are ready. “You have to nail these things. You should put one foot in front of the other, but you also have to always make sure that what you are working on right now, you’re present for it. You’re in the moment.”

This is amazing advice for anyone considering a career switch or stepping out on their own to start a new business. Heck, it’s great life advice and only someone as authentic as Bevy Smith would be willing to share it. Cheers to following our passions and mastering our present. And, if you haven’t check out Bevy Smith on Fashion Queens. It’s delightful.

à bientôt

A Girl In A Dress

According to the Small Business Administration, 50% of businesses fail within the first five year. It takes a lot of vision, drive, passion and sacrifice to beat those odds, but entrepreneurs do it everyday. Here are three really cool startups that are on the verge of celebrating their first five years of success or have recently blown out their anniversary candles.

Get Around Founders1Getaround

Getaround was founded in 2010 in San Francisco, California by Sam Zeid, Jessica Scorpio, and Elliot Kroo. The concept and idea of Getaround is a peer-to-peer car rental system. It matches those people who use their car sparingly with those who don’t want to make the investment in owning one.  Owners earn some extra income by lending their car to others for a fee. Car owners are able to set their own terms and availability and all users of their service are covered by insurance. They even offer a nifty system that allows confirmed renters to access the car with their smartphone, eliminating the need for a face-to-face key hand-off. Getaround is now over 20,000 members strong.

justin Infographic WorldInfographic World

This company is exactly what the name proclaims. They create dynamic and eye-catching infographics for the business world to use. Justin Beegel started up the company back in the year 2009 at the young age of 23 years old. He literally started from scratch, with no funds, savings, or partners to help him out. He originally began the company as a side job to earn some extra money. It soon turned into something bigger, as more people tried and loved his work leading to more clients. Five years later and his company is sky-rocketing, and has worked with about 20% of the Fortune 500 companies.

Kellee Khalil LoverlyLoverly

Loverly was founded in 2010 in New York by Kellee Khalil. If you’re a soon to be bride and preparing for a wedding, Loverly will become your new best friend. Instead of having to search all over town for the perfect florist, dress shop, baker, and venue, you can use Loverly to conduct the searches for you. It’s a search engine designed exclusively for weddings. The site even provides bridal tips from experts.

Starting a business is only the beginning of the journey. Keeping it growing and relevant through the years is the what all founders want at the end of the day. These entrepreneurs accomplished a pretty impressive milestone that should inspire you to keep your eye on the ball and celebrate your own milestones along the way.

à bientôt

Happy WomanWe all have dreams and goals we want to accomplish in life, whether they be to start or run a successful business, have a happy family, be in a position to give back to the community or all of the above.  With everything going on in our lives it’s easy to get distracted and forget that we started with a dream or goal in mind.

Follow these few tips to ensure you live your life, and run your business the way it was meant to be; full of intent and purpose.

Define Your Goals

The most important part of creating a life or business of intent, is clearly defining your intention. Writing down your on goals and intentions not only makes them official, but creates a starting point for creating a path to achieve your goals.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Your goals are yours and yours alone. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, who will? Are you making choices full of intent? Are you taking steps to achieve your goals? Review your goal list often to remind yourself why you started down this road in the first place. Self-correct when you stray from your original intention or find yourself being lazy or lacking focus.

Start Tracking Your Progress & Achievements

It is important to write down your goals and intentions, but it is just as important to track your accomplishments and successes along the way. By keeping tabs and celebrating your achievements you’ll reinforce your original intentions, ensuring you stay on the path. This is also a great way to motivate yourself by showing how far you’ve come from the beginning.

Take Your Goals Everywhere

Having reminders of your goals is great way to keep on track and a vital way to stay motivated to keep moving forward. Create several copies of your goals and put them everywhere: your car, your purse, and even keep a photo copy on your phone. This gives you a way to bring yourself back to your dreams when you feel yourself getting lost in the craziness of everyday challenges. Giving yourself an easy way to realign yourself to your goals will be priceless in helping you live each day with intent.

à bientôt

tape over mouth“No, is a complete sentence.”

That is best statement I’ve heard in a long time. Those two little letters have a lot of power in your life.  If you are a entrepreneur than I am sure people depend on you. And, sometimes you may find yourself saying, ‘yes’ to them when you really want to say no. Sometimes you’ll let the words, ‘I’ll try’ slip out,  when you rather say, ‘absolutely not.” And sometimes you’ll mumble, ‘can I let you know?’ when  you really want to say, ‘have you lost you ever-loving mind?”

Entrepreneurs and especially solopreneurs are A-type personalities. We don’t want to disappoint or have people think less of us. We like being the hero, the person that comes through. The problem doing that all the time is we end up stretching ourselves thin, leaving no time for ourselves.

You have a lot on your plate and need to feel comfortable prioritizing your time. It is absolutely acceptable to turn down a request, if you do not want to do it. After all, if you try to focus on everything; you won’t be able to do anything effectively.

No, is one of the most powerful words in your vocabulary (ask any two year-old). Here are a few tips to help you use it like a pro:

Don’t feel Bad:

If the idea of saying ‘Yes’ to something makes you cringe or you get a lump in the pit of your stomach, you should say ‘no’.  Saying ‘yes’ is an affirmation of your mind and body that you are in agreement with the request and doing the request brings you (and not just the person asking) some sort of satisfaction. If you doubt saying ‘yes’ for even a moment, then you should trust your gut and say, ‘no.’

Know Who You Are Trying To Please:

Sometimes the idea of saying ‘no’ makes us feel guilty, so we decide to say ‘yes.’ This usually stems from some desire to not make the person asking upset or think less of you. So, you let yourself feel bad in order to have them feel good.  This “disease to please” can become a never ending cycle and only you have the power to stop it. If your intentions are to keep them from becoming upset then you will succeed at the cost of your own comfort and time. Only say ‘yes’ if you truly want to help and you feel happy to do it.

Say ‘No’ the right way:

Say ‘no’ with enthusiasm and skip the excuses. Excuses leave the other person room to come up with work arounds for you to get their request done. Remember, ‘no’ is a complete sentence. Practice saying it. If you don’t want to sound too harsh, practice saying it with a smile. You don’t have to deliver the ‘no’ in a negative tone or with a frown for it to be effective.

Don’t Apologize:

Avoid, using the words, “I’m sorry” when you decline a request. Let’s be real. You’re not sorry. You just don’t want the person asking to think you are being mean or dismissive. Be confident when you say ‘no.’ Saying ‘no’ is a choice just as asking a request or favor is a choice. You shouldn’t apologize for making the choice you feel is right for you.

I’m not suggesting that you go around saying ‘no’ to every request in your life, but you should only say ‘yes’ when it feels right. Saying ‘no,’ doesn’t make you a bad person. Saying ‘no’ when you mean it opens opportunities to do more of the things that make you smile when people ask.

à bientôt

 

Planning an event, no matter occasion, is not easy. Some events can take months to plan and the process of plotting out every single detail can be tedious, but it can also be fun. We all want to create the best event we can. Here are some important tips to follow to make sure your next event is a success.

Merlin_EgamiEssence_0704_249
Guest gift items that doubled as table decor for a My Black is Beautiful Event – Pretty (mechanical) Butterflies in a jar, we got on Amazon and branded with labels.

Set a clear vision –  Before you even start planning your event, make sure that your overall vision and goal is well defined. You can begin by answering this question: How do you want your guests to feel or what would you like for them to think when they leave the event? Once you have answered this, then you can laying out the logistical details.

Merlin_EgamiEssence_0704_247
Simple flower displays and bright table drape to pull together the room. Event Tip- Preset the salad if you know you have a tight program schedule.

Identify your team – Even if you are producing the event solo, you should still tap others to help you brainstorm the concept and be a sounding board for your ideas. You don’t know what you don’t know. Make things a lot easier and don’t do your planning in a vacuum. This doesn’t mean that your trusted comrades  get to dictate what you do, but rather they get to help insure that what you do makes sense.  This will save you create a clear theme and plan and avoid a lot of headaches in the later stages of your planning.

Merlin_EgamiEssence_0704_248
Tables angled instead of in rows provide all guest line of sight to the stage, so everyone has a great view.

Hold yourself and your team accountable – Deadlines need to be met. If you commit yourself to certain results, you need to make those results happen. If in the end you can’t produce the results needed, you need to access what happened, proactively update your client and work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Always have a back-up plan – Even the best laid plans sometimes fail.  This doesn’t mean your event will be a disaster. Take the time early in your planning stage to create a back up plan and you’ll be able to keep everything moving forward. I know. I know You can’t plan for everything, but you can take a smart approach to make sure you are prepped for the biggest challenges. Planning an event outside? What will you do if it rains? Planning an event at a sporting event? What will you do if someone gets hurt? There is no way that you can predict every potential pitfall, but if your cross off the big ones it will be easy to work through any small ones onsite.

Looking for some ideas on how to promote your event as well? Check out my post on leveraging social media for events.

Happy planning.