The Liberian Entrepreneur Who Is Making 50K a month Selling Jewelry

Photo Credit: Millie’s International Creations/ Facebook

Many people give up on their dreams and ambitions before seeing the breakthrough that they always wanted. This can come from a plethora of reasons. Lack of funds, lack of confidence, or lack of hard work ethic.

Penny Clarke is an exception to the masses. She started her company 6 years ago and saw her sales explode from $5,000 a month to $50,000 a month during this COVID pandemic. Here’s how she did it.

Humble Beginnings

Photo Credit: Monrovia, Liberia Pinterest

Penny is the last baby of 8 children. She was born and raised in Monrovia, Liberia. She looked up to her mother who worked as a schoolteacher and sold cornbread to make ends meet. Seeing that her mother had a side hustle inspired her to expand her streams of income. She migrated to the United States at age 16 to further her education. Her mother passed away in 2014 from congestive heart failure, which moved her to be more committed to helping women of color achieve their dreams.

In 2015 a trip to South Africa inspired her to build a team of African designers. Together they created a line of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, headwraps, handbags, and more. When her company was first launched she was still working as a government employee in Washington D.C. The pandemic has really propelled a lot of online businesses in the right direction. Economists are coining 2021 as the year of “The Great Resignation”. People are quitting their jobs in droves to pursue remote work.

Inflation is a huge issue within the job market. With travel restrictions still in place, many are taking this time to go back to school and really pursue what they love to do. Immigration and work visas have also been on the decline, which means they are a shortage of foreigners to take on jobs that are temporary and seasonal. Many “quitters” are not quitting work entirely. They are on the search for better opportunities.

Penny is among those who are taking a leap of faith to invest in an online business. The memories of how resilient her mother was accompanied by her love of travel, fashion, and foreigners birthed “Millie’s International Creations”. Most of her online boutiques’ materials are derived from Africa.

How Her Business Grew

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Digital marketing is an in-demand skill because it can powerfully scale a business from zero to hero. Facebook ad campaigns can target your ideal demographics. A website with a sales funnel can generate awareness, consideration, and qualified leads which can turn into daily buyers.

Penny attributes her growing sales to the digital marketing agency 7th Pro Solutions. “When I started working with Edwin Jardin (the founder of 7th Pro Solutions), he really helped me to create a sales funnel for my website that has literally increased my revenue by 500%. My company now gets sales every single day, and it’s a challenge to keep up with inventory – which is a great problem to have.”

Creating a sales funnel can be a daunting task when you try to do it alone. The 3 main stages of a sales funnel are awareness, consideration, and decision. During awareness, a potential buyer is shown the product or service. How well the advertisement is towards gaining awareness is crucial for consideration. The 2nd stage, consideration is when interest is sparked. The person’s curiosity ignites in them the desire to buy. The last stage, the decision is when the buyer decides to buy a product or service.

7th Pro Solutions is a Digital Marketing Agency that focuses on accelerating business growth through effective strategies. Facebook ads can cause sales conversions to grow rapidly. Each ad has to be tailored to your individual social media platform. A business manager usually decides to use Facebook advertising in a strategic marketing plan when they want to reach new qualified prospecting audiences.

Are You A Passionpreneur?

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Millie’s International Creations has a simple mission statement: “Millie’s aims to bring quality merchandise by women designers and artisans at an affordable price to the U.S. market. Part of our proceeds benefits various nonprofits around the world. I am continually traveling and seeking out women who wish to achieve their dreams and support their families through their craft.”

What’s your craft? Is there any hobby of yours that gives you butterflies anytime you daydream about it? Turning your dreams into reality takes investment, a concrete business plan, and a supportive team that works in harmony with your goals. During this pandemic, hustling can open many avenues if you are persistent.

Starting a side hustle can push you to expand past the boundaries in your comfort zone. Need some inspiration? Check out Etsy. You can take common household items to create your own handmade goods. From hats to unique bracelets, people love creations that took time and skill to make. Writing an e-book that inspires others can help you to make connections in the blogging industry. Take your expertise in a field to teach valuable lessons to others.

Monetizing your social media is another way to start building an online business. Instagram is the top social media platform for making sales. Once you have over 10,000 followers, you can monetize your posts and close deals with advertisers. Facebook Marketplace is another great place to create listings and sell handmade items. It’s free to start and you can share your items in various Facebook business groups.

Do you have a success story similar to Penny Clarke? Sound off below!

How Does Body Image Affect Our Self-Esteem?

A thin waist, clear complexion, and perfect hair. It is every Queen’s dream to have the perfect body image. But is your idea of body image realistic? If not kept in check, the way we view our bodies can severely impact our self-esteem and mental health.

What Exactly Is Body Image?

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When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see, or do you wish that you were someone different? Our body image is how we view our self in our mind. It is how we behave when we think of our height, weight, skin tone, facial structure, curves, and hair. Some avoid looking into the mirror because they struggle with self-hatred. A positive body image is essential to our mental health.

Eating disorders and depression is linked to having a negative body image. Women are more likely than men to have an obsession with how they look. This is because of the pressure from the media. Magazine covers often show thin bodies and light skin complexions. TV shows have adjusted to an extent, but it still the norm to see someone with light skin and a thin frame to be playing the lead role. Your past and circumstances also affect how you view your body. If you were always teased and bullied as a child, you might be the adult that is always trying some extreme diet. And struggling with obesity causes some to have a form of bulimia. To avoid weight gain, some even force themselves to vomit by putting their finger down their throat. This is an unhealthy practice that can lead to heart failure.

Myths That We Need To Ignore 

So many myths in the fashion industry has distorted how one views their body. Because of false advertising, many resort to methods that may change their appearance for a while. But in the long-term, your inner health and outer beauty will suffer.

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Lightning creams. Having dark skin is a beautiful thing. Don’t ever feel like you have to buy lightning cream to change your skin tone. The side effects of these creams are cancer, infertility, permanent scarring, skin inflammation, etc.

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Butt injections. The beauty industry sadly likes to push the whole “Big Booty Judy” hype. What is not being promoted enough though, is the females who have lost limbs, skin tissue, and even their lives from butt injections. Even if you get it done by a licensed professional, the dangers are not worth the risk.

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Tanning beds. There is an infatuation with being light-skinned and it has caused skin cancer in Caucasian women. Tanning beds emit UV rays. This can cause premature aging of the skin, wrinkling, and age spots. It also can cause melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

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Extreme fasting. It is a huge myth that starving yourself is a healthy way to lose weight. Intermittent fasting can help you control how you eat, but going without food for days can affect your kidneys and damage your metabolism.

Our bodies can be likened to a temple. We need proper nourishment, respect, and love. As long as you are eating healthy and getting the proper exercise, you are on the right track. Don’t overstress yourself with unrealistic standards. Practice saying positive statements about yourself in the mirror every day. How we look on the outside is only one component of what makes us. How we are on the inside matters more. So, love what you see, and keep on working on becoming a better you.

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Sources:

https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/body-image-and-mental-health/body-image

Toward a More Inclusive Understanding of the Body Image Construct: Findings from Studies with Black Women: The Role of the Media in Body Image and Eating Disorders

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Girl Blues

(Image Credit: Twitter)

It is a affliction that develops within us after being strong for too long. After being faced with barriers, negative outcomes, surviving trauma, inheriting a serious health issue, or coming from a disadvantaged background, many Queens of color fall into depression. “Black Girl Blues” has become such a hot topic that may books, movies, and even local community events are focusing on it. And yet, the stigma within the African and African-American community remains.

With a lack of resources and funds, many black Queens self-medicate by becoming workaholics, alcoholics, drug-addicts, or even sex addicts. What causes depression? Why is being a black female, and being depressed such a huge epidemic? How can a black Queen deal with depression?

What Causes Depression?

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The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine has admitted that women of color try to fight their way through anxiety and depression by themselves. The whole stereotype of being the “strong black women” has been ingrained in our minds for too long through mainstream media. “Anyone can experience mental illness. There is no group, gender, sexual identity, race or cultural belief that can prevent it from occurring,” says Richards, M.D. “And it’s actually happening at higher rates than most other illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.” In the African and African American community ( I personally make it a point to separate the both because we are similar and yet so different), many attribute depression to someone who is weak. In the African American community it is quite common to hear depression be turned into a joke, and someone suffering from it is sometimes used as a source of comedy relief. In the African community when you bring up depression you are often the target of shame and mockery. Your relatives may go out of their way to embarrass you and make you feel as though you are not strong, that is why you can’t “get over it”.

Women of color suffer mentally more than the general population because we lack so much. When you have been stolen from, abused, neglected, and oppressed for centuries,more than any other race, you suffer more from violence, PTSD, poverty and homelessness. All of these negative components create a concoction of depression in a Queen’s mind.

The Three Strikes : Being Black, Being A Female, and Being Depressed

 

Every hit black TV sitcom I have watched whether it was “The Cosby Show”, “Living Single”, or “The Jeffersons”, the black leading female was always portrayed as being so strong. She always had a extremely witty demeanor with a hysterical comeback that would always save the day, and it would seriously get on my nerves. I mean why couldn’t Clair Huxtable ever have an emotional breakdown in front of her kids? Didn’t being a lawyer and seeing all of the corruption in the system ever depress her? Did not moving on up to the East-side emotionally exhaust Mrs. Jefferson? Queen Latifah did see a therapist while acting in “Living Single”, but it was not a reoccurring topic.

“During slavery you were supposed to be the strong one. You weren’t supposed to speak. You were supposed to just do,” said Esney M. Sharpe, founder and CEO of the Bessie Mae Women’s Health Center in East Orange, N.J., which offers health services for uninsured and underserved women. “…Our moms and our grandmothers always told us to suppress. Just be quiet, chalk it up, get up, dress up, fix your face, put on your best outfit and just keep going,” she said.

Women in general are more likely to experience depression than men do. (What a surprise.) But when your black, and a woman, your chances of experiencing depression are higher than the rest of the general population.

How Can A Black Queen Deal With Depression?

1.) Choose a provider that demonstrates cultural competence. Your healthcare provider should be able to provide care to you despite your belief, values and behavior. They should also take into account your social, cultural, and linguistic needs. If they can’t, then you need to find a replacement.

2.) Walk away from toxic relationships and/or family and friends. The saying : “You are who you sleep with”, is very true. You cannot have a healthy mind if you choose to have a partner that is constantly insulting you, demeaning you, cheating on you or beating you. The same goes for your friends and family. Misery loves company. If they are not uplifting you, you need to replace them with people who will.

3.) Seek help from a mental health provider. “I do think our community could use a lot of healing and I do think there’s a lot of potential for psychotherapy in our community,” said Psychologist Orbe-Austin.

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