#SWAAYthenarrative

How To Cultivate A Community And Embrace Positivity In Times Of Crisis

5 Min Read
Business

Our brand all started because of our community. Each and every product and formula has been created alongside our co-creators. They help guide us to figure out what is missing from the market and help outline what people actually use. That's why our relationship with our community is so important to us at Alleyoop, they helped build our company in more ways than they may realize.

When all of this craziness started, all of us had anxiety, uncertainty, and some level of fear. Many of us started to dive into content like Tiger King as a way to disassociate from this stressful news. However, after getting through three episodes, I realized this content was also deeply unsettling. That's when I came to a major realization, I can control what I take in, and I need to change it.

At that point, I started putting my effort into focusing on the good that was happening. Even just the little things — like the extra time I got to spend with my toddler. Because of all this chaos, I got to watch her say her first full sentences. Something I would have never experienced if I was working my 12 hour days away from home.

I also started to practice gratitude two times a day instead of just one. As I continued to consider the positive changes that have come about in this time of crisis, I continued to find things to be thankful for. I realized I was connecting to my parents, friends, and siblings deeper because when we video chat now a cell phone or social media couldn't distract us. Our conversations became deeper, our engagement was authentic, and our time was more well spent. We may not be able to see each other in person, but somehow we've been able to be just, if not more, close.

I started chatting with our co-creators Slack channel and our team and realized they also fell into the negative trap I had found myself stuck in. That's when I started sharing how I was taking control of what I was taking in.

As they began taking this advice, they also shared how much it resonated with them and helped them through their own struggles. We decided our larger community needed this same insight. We realized how deep our conversations were getting with each other — as far as talking about emotions instead of the products. So we decided to view this as a larger opportunity to connect with our community on a deeper level.

No, we didn't talk about the products. We just talked about things that brought us joy. We decided to focus on the beauty of this time, instead of on beauty alone. We decided to be a source of good news, positive energy, and good, old-fashioned fun.

We played bingo with our fans and did a team scavenger hunt. Yes, we played a virtual scavenger hunt. To play, one person picks a thing to hunt, for example, "Find sunscreen." Everyone runs about to find it in their hours, and the first person back gets three points, second person two points, and everyone else gets one point. The person with the most points at the end wins!

We even shared funny memes and videos because we had promised to share anything that made us feel good. We now end each week with "This week's wins!" so that we have something positive to hold in our heads and think about sharing at the end of the week. This week we even played So True Or So False! To play, we ask personal questions and everyone holds up a sign with one side reading true and the other false. You just flip your sign to answer each question and start getting to know your teammates!

This experience has taught us all that we can always come back to selling products, but the root of what we stand for is to sell you what you need and nothing more. And with what was going on, what we all need is (free) positive content, not things.

We also all took on journaling two times a day and discussed what a great impact it had on us. It had such a positive impact that we decided to make our gratitude journal digital and give it away for free to all our followers. Just another way to bring some free and open positivity out into the world.

The question we start our days with now is: "What can we do today to help our community?" In line with that question, we repurposed our marketing budget to give away $10,000 worth of free products to frontline workers to help bring them some joy with a fun package to look forward to when they get their time back. We also changed our whole marketing plan around Mother's Day. Instead of making a video about products perfect for mothers, we scrapped that entire plan and made a fun and funny video that had nothing to do with our products. (It was just released, so check it out for a good laugh!)

What we are doing is definitely risky, and it's without-a-doubt costing us money. But we are determined to focus on the beauty of this time instead of on beauty. But someone once told me, you can always work to make money, you won't always have an opportunity to make an impact. When the opportunity comes, take it, always. Now is the time to really stand behind our mission: "To help women thrive by making rule-breaking tools [both mental and physical] that move her forward, not just by bringing her closer to what she values, but by breaking down the social constructs that are holding her back." A big part of this, now and always, is building meaningful relationships with our customers since really they are the reason we exist.
3 Min Read
Career

Black LGBTQ Woman Powerhouse Launches Vegan Cosmetics Line

I am a proud Black business owner carrying a line of lip colors for the woman who wants to shine. At Vatarie Cosmetics you can find cruelty-free and vegan lip care products, including clear lip gloss and liquid matte lipsticks. The line is still under development, so there are more products in the making that you'll hear more about soon!

My products are high-quality and it is my dream to take my brand into high-end storefronts across the nation and even across the globe.

About Leticia

I have worked my way into my entrepreneurial career as I did not come from money. The goal of my cosmetic line is to bring excitement to everyone who tries the line. My products are high-quality and it is my dream to take my brand into high-end storefronts across the nation and even across the globe. I believe that with added makeup and a good set of threads, anybody can confidently face the world. I am a proud and firm supporter of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and a proud member and supporter of the LGBTQIA community.

There have been plenty of hardships that I have had to face throughout my entire life, the most recent being the recent death of my father who passed far too soon. I have never allowed these hardships to deter me, and won't start now. I will continue to progress and work hard to build my business, knowing that this is what my father would have wanted.

About the Vatarie Line: What It's All About

Upon launching the line, I had the mission of inspiring every human to find their inner beauty and to have fun along the way. With this in mind, my products are designed for people of all genders, races, religions, and creeds. The Vatarie line will have more to offer customers very soon as I am continually working on developing products and expanding the line. In addition to the lip colors currently offered, the line will soon include highlighters, eyeshadows, and new lip gloss additions.

I believe that no one needs makeup to validate themselves, and we are all beautiful on our own. I do believe, though, that makeup can make life a lot more fun. Now more than ever we are living in a world where there is so much sadness and darkness. Sometimes all we need to change our moods and get away from that darkness is something to help us feel better and more vibrant — this is where a pop of makeup and a well put together outfit can really make an impact.

Now more than ever we are living in a world where there is so much sadness and darkness.

I encourage everybody to embrace their inner beauty and inner style, and express themselves no matter what. My line of products is inspired by high fashion and designed to make a bold statement. The running theme across my products is empowerment at every stage and level. I create products that make my customers feel happy, and I ensure I am happy myself with my products before I release every single one. There is no place for cutting corners as I believe in producing the highest quality product.

I bring my sense of humor and quirky personality into my products and you can see this in the names of each item. Take the lip color "Blood Money," which signifies all the money, tears, sweat, and yes, blood that was put into the brand. Let me tell you, it was hard work, and it still is hard work, but at the end of the day, it fulfills me to know the type of quality I am providing. It gives me great pride to create a line of legendary products that will positively affect someone and bring them to a place of self-love and acceptance.

About the Past that Gives My Business Meaning

I have struggled over the years with mental abuse that has left me feeling as if "I wasn't enough." Added to that, being a Black woman in an industry that is predominantly dominated by other races, I had to work harder to get to where I am today.

Coming from a broken home, my family struggled with addiction, making my entire childhood a miserable nightmare. My mother abandoned us as she was being physically abused, and it was up to us the kids to do everything necessary to take care of the home and each other. We eventually ended up living with my grandmother in Miami, Florida. At a very young age, I had to endure physical and mental abuse and was locked up. At the age of 22, I lost my younger sister to gun violence and found myself raising her one-year-old son as my own.

Being a Black woman in an industry that is predominantly dominated by other races, I had to work harder to get to where I am today.

While my past was a rough one, it is what has made me the strong, independent, and vibrant woman I am today. That woman strives to be her best every day and works tirelessly to provide a line of only the best cosmetics products. I couldn't see this while I was living through those bad situations and struggling to grow up, but I can look back and see how I was made more resilient because of my hardships.

As I grieve over my father's recent passing, I become stronger. It is this added personal strength that will push me forward in everything I do and will be reflected in my work ethic and in the development of new products for my Vatarie line of cosmetics.