I brought in the new year at my new apartment in Brooklyn. It was a quiet night at home, we had steak dinner delivered, popped a bottle of Prosecco and… I’m so proud of myself, I created my first charcuterie board! When the clock struck midnight, we stepped onto my balcony to watch fireworks. It was a perfect way to ring in 2022, but we’re here to talk about 2021.
As promised, here is my annual “A year of loving myself” recap of my year through the lens of self love.
This year I found myself doing unexpected things like being flown to Scotland, moving to Brooklyn and learning to ride a horse. I feel like I kept asking God, “what is going on???”
I feel like you dolls kept sending me private DM’s on instagram asking “what is going on???”
Since we’re all trying to figure out what is going on over here, I thought this year it might be fun to answer the top five questions that you dolls have been sending me consistently over the last 12 months.
Will theCURVYcon come back?
Like many of you, the pandemic completely shifted the trajectory of my career.
I quit my corporate job in 2014 to become co-founder of theCURVYcon. I’m very proud of that company. I have learned a lot while growing that company from a bootstrapped start up to the successful brand it is today. I made a public statement on why theCURVYcon hasn’t come back yet. You can catch up on the details with this short three minute instagram video.
If you’re in a situation where your career isn’t going according to plan, perhaps you’ve been laid off or can’t work for other reasons. I know how you feel. When we put theCURVYcon on hiatus, I felt like someone had ripped my career from my hands and run off with it.
I was devastated, terrified, unsure of myself and what to do next.
With my unexpected free time, I began to flip through my old journals and sketch books. The pages were filled with all of my other ideas, dreams and visions and I slowly began to feel inspired.
The success of theCURVYcon taught me that something I do well is serving plus size women and giving plus size women what we want and deserve. While we wait on theCURVYcon’s return, I plan to continue serving plus size women through my own companies like Cocoa by CeCe and the CeCe Olisa brand.
Something that has helped me this year is to surrender to my situation. Instead of focusing on what’s lost, it feels good to shift my focus to what I am gaining in this time. I don’t know when I’ll ever have this much time to myself to think and dream again, so I am being completely selfish with my time.
Which brings me to the next question you dolls have been asking me…
Are GarnerStyle and CeCe Olisa still friends?
Dolls, I must admit that I was surprised by how many of you sent this question to me during 2021. So, let’s talk about it.
Are Chastity and I still friends? Yes.
Did something happen between us? Yes… and I take responsibility for that.
In March 2020, when New York City went into lockdown, I made the decision to go into what Chastity calls “my zen phase”. The best way to explain my “zen phase” is through this quote from Michaela Coel who won the Emmy for “I May Destroy You”, she says…
“I dare you. In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”
In 2020, I knew three things to be true: 1.) New York City was in lockdown 2.) theCURVYcon was on hiatus and 3.) I wasn’t going to see my family in California for a long time. With those three things in mind, I decided that if I wanted to “disappear and see what comes in the silence”, this was probably the most opportune time to do so.
Dolls, I got so quiet that even Glamour magazine noticed!
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As an unmarried creative woman with no children, I have the option (some might say, the privilege) of tuning the world out, going deep and simply focusing on my creative dreams and visions. I’m writing, taking dance classes, studying design and I’ve been able to launch Doll Butter.
I don’t know when I’ll ever have this much time alone to think, dream, create and build so I am being completely selfish with my time and energy. theCURVYcon is on hiatus, I don’t have a husband or children who need me, I live alone, my bills are paid (thank you, God!)… I have a rare opportunity to focus on me and I would prefer to give everything I have to my goals right now while I can.
My family and friends (including Chastity) have been supportive through all of it. They give me my space, they’re here when I need them and I’m grateful for their patience with me.
It feels like I’m finally growing up and becoming independent. I’m learning a lot… so let’s move into another question that you dolls asked quite a bit.
What did I learn in 2021?
This question came in a few times, but I really liked the way this doll phrased it:
The lesson that has been difficult for me to learn or understand is embarrassing to admit, although it’s quite obvious.
If you look at my career, I’ve never launched anything for you dolls without a partner. For #PSPfit I had Abra, for theCURVYcon I had Chastity, for Confident Creator Lab I had Jessica Lynn. Through therapy I began to ask myself why I’m afraid to walk my career path alone… the simple answer: I feel insecure, I worry that I’m not “enough” and I feel safe with another strong woman by my side.
The complicated answer: perhaps it’s time for me to go from co-founder to founder.
In March 2021, I laid off my entire team and became a “one man band” in my business. I found investors who are interested in my desire to explore body positivity through beauty. I shared with them some of my homemade, hand whipped skin softening beauty recipes and we found a lab to help us replicate the skin softening benefits in a body butter that I call Doll Butter.
I quietly launched Doll Butter alone on Small Business Saturday and the pre-order sales have been incredible. Jars will begin shipping in March and I’m so excited for you to meet my first product. If you placed an order already, thank you so much!
I’m finding my independence and my identity in my professional and personal life. Maybe you dolls are picking up on that because, this question came in a few times…
How do you stay true to yourself in relationships?
Many of you dolls know that I used to be very public with my dating life. I must admit that in those days I felt that having a boyfriend validated me as a woman. I felt that having a boyfriend meant I was pretty, special, worth knowing, desirable, etc. so I talked about my boyfriend all the time.
Finding an identity and value outside of a relationship can be really hard.
It feels good to be desired and pursued. It feels good to be taken out on dates and adored. It feels good to have someone tell you how pretty you are and how much they admire you. I like that feeling, don’t you?
Our challenge is to not wrap up all of our identity and value in having that from another person… and boy is it a challenge!
I’m a Christian and I think this is an area of my life where God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. I believe that God put me on this planet with more than one purpose. Yes, I believe that of my many purposes, one of them is to marry a man and make some pretty babies with him. But I have a purpose beyond that… and chances are, you do too.
Something that has helped me this year is to surrender to my situation. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have yet, it feels good to shift my focus to what I can gain in this time. If you’re worried about losing your identity in a relationship, you may want to consider developing a strong identity in other areas of your life.
How can you make an impact in your family, your community, your school, your church, your world?
When I focus on that, my love life and my identity tend to stay in balance.
How do I live a more sustainable life?
Dolls, it means so much to me that you’re asking me this question.
A few months ago, the TED organization sent me this invitation to Edinburgh, Scotland for a Climate Change summit ahead of COP26.
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The TED Countown Climate Change summit changed me. My eyes have been opened to what is happening to our planet and I can’t stay silent now that I know. I’m listening, learning and reading a ton. I sat down with climate change activists who told me flatly that if I chose to start talking about climate change on my platforms, it could negatively affect my brand.
They were right.
The first time I spoke about climate change directly, I lost 100 followers overnight.
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So yes, talking about Climate Change is a risk, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
I’m sharing this with you so that you understand my growing passion around climate change, sustainable fashion and learning how I can help protect our planet. Once I learned about the Decisive Decade, I knew I had a responsibility to share what is currently happening to us and our planet. You can learn a bit about the Decisive Decade by reading what I wrote in the Instagram caption below.
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When it comes to climate change and sustainable living, I often hear people say that the big companies and the government need to do something about it. That is 100% true. I can’t help but wonder what we’re going to do if big companies and the government don’t do something about climate change…
I pray that big companies and the government make the changes needed for a Net Zero future. In the meantime, I’m making a sustainable lifestyle shift. I look forward to exchanging ideas with you on this in the coming years.
I received an overwhelming amount of “thank you” notes from you dolls for different things and it really touched my heart.
I would like to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you dolls for sticking with me. I love my work, I love what I do and I love all of you. There have been so many times when I was feeling uncertain or doubting myself and out of the blue one of you would send me a kind word, a note of encouragement or a thank you note for something I created that helped you in your life. In those moments, it would be the tiny nudge I needed to keep going. It felt as if God was using you dolls to encourage me.
If you’re reading this, I pray Gods protection and blessings over you and your family.
I look forward to what 2022 has in store for our community.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.