#SWAAYthenarrative

How I Made $1 Million In 100 Days During The Coronavirus Pandemic

5 Min Read
Business

Every person's entrepreneurship journey is not a walk in the park; for most of us, it is a leap of faith and requires at least a sacrifice or two... or ten. Some entrepreneurial journeys take a lot of time and some seriously difficult decisions before a person is even able to begin building their business. I'm talking about leaving a job that you've been in for years, telling your partner, children, and family that you are quitting a stable job to build a business, sometimes with nothing to go on but an idea. And let's be honest, people will look at you and say, "Are you out of your mind?" The answer is, of course, no.

You are not out of your mind for wanting more than a nine to five, living paycheck to paycheck, working for someone else, struggling to establish a financial future that will not only serve you but that will also provide generational wealth — not even in a global crisis. In fact, I believe that a crisis can be the perfect time to make the jump and establish your business and even make a profit.

The world is currently experiencing something unprecedented. It is not just the pandemic that is such a hard reality to face, but it is the magnitude of its impact that really has everyone devastated. COVID-19 has brought on so much loss and tragedy, and it is hard to be optimistic at times, especially as a budding entrepreneur when businesses are being forced to close their doors.

Let me first say, for anyone who is frustrated by this pandemic, your feelings are valid. Everyone has a right to say "I am not okay right now" without being judged or targeted. We are grieving, we are transitioning, we are recovering, and it takes time! There is a lot to consider and adapt to that we are not used to having to think about in such a pressing time frame. I, as a mother of six, had my children to think about — making sure they are well, safe, and that I am able to continuously provide for them and ensure they are not forced to become a statistic of a circumstance that is beyond their control.

I knew that things were going to change soon, with all the widespread news surrounding coronavirus and I needed to prepare. So, I set a goal to make $1M dollars in 100 days. And, you know what? I did it. And you know what else? If you set a goal, no matter how big, you can do it, too. I am sharing my tips on how to help get you started.

For some people in the world, trying to grow a business during a pandemic is just too much, and it's important to understand that that is okay. No one is required to come out of this with a new source of income, with more business, more clients, or a new "dream." If you are like me and are interested in (and able to be) propelling your business and creating a plan of action to help avoid the financial impact of this crisis, the attitude of determination is one of the things that will keep you going.

I, as a cosmetology professional, knew how the shutdown could affect my industry. Of course, when essential workers are being determined by local governments, what may seem necessary to some may not be necessary for others. There are dozens of posts on social media either coercing people to be productive or shaming them for it, when truthfully the best advice is to allow people to do what works for them. What worked for me was deciding that I wanted to defy the crisis, in a sense. I decided that I wanted my company to blossom rather than crumble under pressure. So, I set a goal, I wrote out my vision, and I got to work!

But here's the thing. I am no stranger to struggle, hard work, and making something out of virtually nothing. I grew up in foster care and have experienced homelessness and living in shelters with a small child. I decided to go into business for myself, creating haircare line Arcani Coil Care in 2017. Although many have told me this was far-fetched and would be too difficult to accomplish, I knew that I was destined to build this business and give back to my community.

My products include vegan-based temporary hair colors, a men's beard care kit, children's curl mousse, edge control products, leave-in conditioners, lock cream, and more. It was not a simple journey but I was committed. Commitment generated results and those results drove me to set bigger goals. Not only making sure my children and family were okay, but also making sure my employee and their families had job security during this pandemic as well.

Back in January when the news of coronavirus began to spread, I noticed that my business started picking up significantly. I realized that I had to do something major to take care of not just my family, but my clients as well. With the implementation of #socialdistancing, I knew it was important to churn out more product in a short period of time. How could I do it? Consistency. I had to be consistent with the marketing and promotion of the products and their success. This meant setting sales goals, working longer hours, being relentless about what I wanted, and what I am capable of as well as being diligent with social media.

All I knew was if Madam CJ Walker could do it with her business at the time of the Spanish Flu, I could do it today. And, I did.

5 Min Read
People

Judge Tanya Acker On Overcoming Racial Barriers And Her Rise To The Top


You may recognize Judge, Tanya Acker, from her political and legal commentary on different networks and shows like Good Morning America, The Talk, Wendy Williams, CNN Reports or The Insider. Acker is more than an experienced commentator. She is also a Judge on the fifth season of Emmy nominated CBS show, Hot Bench.

The show, created by Judge Judy, is a new take on the court genre. Alongside Acker, are two other judges: Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero. Together the three-panel judges take viewers inside the courtroom and into their chambers. “I feel like my responsibility on the show is, to be honest, fair, [and] to try and give people a just and equitable result," Acker says. She is accomplished, honest and especially passionate about her career. In fact, Acker likes the fact that she is able to help people solve problems. “I think that efficient ways of solving disputes are really at the core of modern life.

“We are a very diverse community [with] different values, backgrounds [and] beliefs. It's inevitable that we're going to find ourselves in some conflicts. I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life. Particularly, her time working right after college impacted the type of legal work she takes on now.

Shaping Her Career

Acker didn't foresee doing this kind of work on television when she was in college at either Howard University or Yale Law. “I was really open in college about what would happen next," Acker comments. “In fact, I deliberately chose a major (English) that wouldn't lock me into anything [because] I wanted to keep all of my options open." Her inevitable success on the show and throughout her career is an example of that. In fact, after graduating from Yale, Acker served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Dorothy Nelson who sits on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It was not only her first job out of law school but also one of the formative experiences of her professional life. “[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law," she exclaims. “She delivers it all with a lot of love." Judge Nelson is still on the bench and is continuing to work through her Foundation: The Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California, where Acker serves on the board. The foundation helps people seeking alternative ways of resolving their disputes instead of going to court.

"I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

“It was important to her to try and create platforms for people to resolve conflict outside of court because court takes a long time," Acker explains. “I'm proud to be a part of that work and to sit on that board."

After her clerkship, she was awarded a Bristow Fellowship and continued building her career. Outside of the fellowship, Acker's legal work incorporated a broad variety of matters from civil litigation, constitutional cases, business counseling, and advising. One of her most memorable moments was representing a group of homeless people against the city. “They were being fought for vagrancy and our defense was, they had no place to go," she shares.

As part of her pro bono work, Acker was awarded the ACLU's First Amendment Award for her success with the case. Though, she has a hard time choosing from one of many memorable moments on Hot Bench. Acker does share a few of the things that matter to her. “Our show is really drawn from a cross-section of courtrooms across America and the chance to engage with such a diverse group of people really means a lot to me," she discusses.

How Did Acker Become A Judge?

In addition to Judge Nelson, Judge Judy is certainly among her top professional influences. “I think it's incredible [and] I feel very lucky that my professional career has been bookended by these incredible judges," she acclaims. “I've really learned a lot from Judy about this job, doing this kind of job on television." Before Acker was selected for Hot Bench, she hadn't been a judge. It was Judge Judy who recommended that she get some experience. Acker briefly comments on her first experience as a temporary judge on a volunteer basis in traffic court. “I was happy to be able to have the chance to kind of get a feel for it before we started doing the show," she comments. “Judy is a wonderful, kind, generous person [and] she's taught me quite a lot. I feel lucky."

Judge Acker in white pantsuit with her dog. Photo Courtesy of Annie Shak.

Acker's Time Away From Home

Outside of Hot Bench, Acker took recent trips to Haiti and Alabama. They were memorable and meaningful.

Haiti, in particular, was the first trip she excitedly talks about. She did some work there in an orphanage as part of LOVE Takes Root, an organization that is driven to help children around the world whether it's basic aid or education. “Haiti has a special place in my heart," she began. “As a person who's descended from enslaved people, I have a lot of honor and reverence for a country that threw off the shackles of slavery."

She was intrigued by the history of Haiti. Especially regarding the communities, corrupt government and natural disasters. “They really had to endure a lot, but I tell you this when I was there, I saw people who were more elegant, dignified, gracious and generous as any group of people I've ever met anywhere in the world," she goes on. “I think it left me with was a strong sense of how you can be graceful and elegant under fire." Acker is optimistic about the country's overall growth and success.

“[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law."

“There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," Acker says. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving."

Her other trip was different in more ways than one. She traveled there for the first time with her mother as part of a get out to vote effort, that Alabama's First black House Minority Leader, Anthony Daniels was organizing. “It was incredible to take that trip with her [and] I've got to tell you, the South of today is not the South of my mother's upbringing," she explains. Originally from Mississippi, Acker's mother hasn't been back in the South since 1952. “Every place has a ways to go, but it was a really exciting trip [and] it was nice for me to connect with that part of the country and that part of my history."

Overcoming Racial Barriers

As a black woman, Acker has certainly faced challenges based on her race and gender. But it doesn't define who she is or what she can accomplish. “There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," she says. “There's no sort of barrier that someone would attempt to impose upon me that they didn't attempt to impose on my mother, grandmother or great-grandmother." In a space where disparity is sometimes apparent, she recognizes that there is no barrier someone would try to impose on her that they didn't attempt to impose on her mother or grandmothers. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving," Acker states. The conversation continues truthfully and seriously. Acker shares what it can be like for black women, specifically. “I think we're underestimated and we can be disrespected, whereas other folks are allowed the freedom to enjoy a full range of emotions and feelings," she articulates.

At times black women are often restricted from expressing themselves. “If someone wants to make an assumption or jump to a conclusion about me because of my race or gender, that's on them, but their assumptions aren't going to define me," Acker declares. “If something makes me angry or happy I will express that and if someone wants to caricature me, that's their pigeonholing; that's not my problem." A lifelong lesson she learned and shared is to not let other people define who you are. It is one of three bits of wisdom.

Three Pieces Of Advice From Judge Acker

The Power Of Self-awareness

“It's really important that you have a really firm sense of what you want to do and be, and how you're moving in the world because when people try to sway you, judge you or steer you off course you've got to have some basis for getting back on track."

Know Your Support System

“Have a strong community of people who you trust, love and who love you," she advises. “But also learn to love and trust yourself because sometimes it's your own voice that can provide you the most comfort or solace in something."

Learn From Your Experiences

“Trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Be honest with yourself.

“There are times when it's not enough to say this is who I am. Take it or leave it. Sometimes we've got things that we need to work on, change or improve upon," she concludes.

Acker stands out not only because of her accomplishments, but the way she views certain aspects of her life. These days, she's comfortable accepting what makes her different. “I think there's a time when you're younger when conformity feels comfortable, [but] I'm comfortable these days not conforming," she laughs. She enjoys being a decision maker and helping people work through it on Hot Bench.

This article was originally published May 15, 2019.