Women We Admire

NYC-Based On-Air Fashion/Lifestyle host, Patrice J. Williams, is Making a Name for Herself

1. Tell me about reinventing yourself? Most surprising aspects and the most challenging aspects. I never really thought about "reinventing" myself. I just realized I was finally putting all the pieces together. Everything I learned in my fashion magazine days prepared me for life as an entrepreneur, but at the time I didn't know it. Sometimes when you're shifting, the most difficult part can be getting people to understand your vision. Friends and family can think you're crazy or have unattainable goals but that's usually their own insecurity showing, so I had to learn to quiet those voices.

2. Tips for style? Style is all about whatever makes you feel great. A five inch pair of heels may look beautiful but if they're uncomfortable, they don't make you feel great and you're simply wearing them because for whatever reason you feel you should be wearing them. Style should be something that's fun and constantly evolving, so I always suggest that people try something new. If you don't like it, then take it off and try something else.

3. Shopping on a budget? Everyone has a different definition and amount allotted for a shopping budget, so first I suggest determining what that budget is, either an overall budget or what you're willing to spend on a particular garment. Then it's about creating a list of priorities. If a good suit or blazer is at the top of your list and that's all you can afford for the season, find a great one and anchor the rest of your existing wardrobe around that new piece. You can create the look of a new wardrobe with the addition of a few statement making pieces vs. buying a totally new wardrobe.

4. Being a black woman business owner? I constantly face microaggressions, especially working in fashion. Most of the editors and producers I encounter are white and many clearly have a bias. I see it in the people they constantly choose to work with and the people (of color!) they constantly choose to ignore. It's frustrating and at times it's made me want to quit, but I know that when people see me winning, it makes it just a tad bit easier for another black woman to succeed. That's what keeps me motivated.

5. Advice for black women who want to wear their hair natural, but worry about looking "professional." No matter how "professional" and perfectly coiffed your natural hair is, it will still be seen as unkept by some. That's a fact. Instead of focusing on what other people think, just look your best. Have a few go-to hairstyles and keep it moving. I first went natural about a month before I started working at a fashion magazine. I was clueless about how to style my TWA after doing the big chop. But I focused on keeping my hair moisturized, cute headbands and accessories and went from there.

6. Thoughts on spending with black-owned businesses. I'll always support a small business, and especially a black-owned businesses, before patronizing another mega company. I love seeing people who look like me or who look like they could be in my family, running their own businesses and if I can spend my dollars there or bring attention to a great biz, I will

7. Hope for the future? For a while I took a break from doing television full time, but in the next year I hope to return with a fashion contributor role at a NYC or national station. Also, I would love to write another book, but this time with a major publisher versus self published.My overall hope for the future is to have more inclusion in the fashion and beauty space. Not just one or two token models on the runway or natural hair brands that only showcase loose curls versus tightly coiled kinks, but true inclusion.

8. Having the courage to go out on your own. Sometimes you don't have the courage, you just go for it.

9. Advice for women who want to become entrepreneurs. Do you really understand the entrepreneurial life or do you fully comprehend the insane amount of work and sacrifice it requires? If you really want it, have a plan. But know that things will never be perfect but you have to start somewhere. Also, take a break. There's no gold medal for running yourself into the ground.

10. What are your 5 go-to style pieces? Skinny jeans: find a brand that fits your body perfectly and buy them in a few colors, especially dark washesBlazer: great for any workplace and a good layering piece in the spring or fallNude pumps: instant way to make your legs look longeLeopard print: a belt or scarf is a great accent piece and the print is fun without being over the topStatement necklace: perfect way to turn any boring or neutral top or neckline into a fun moment.

Link to blog: https://www.instagram.com/patricejwill/

The Dooplex team

The Dooplex team.

Global Cosmetic News

By by Georgina Caldwell

Texan entrepreneur Kevin Lyles has launched an online marketplace for women of color, according to a report published by The Glow Up.

The Dooplex champions small and lesser-known minority-owned brands catering for women of color's hair and skin care needs such as Dr. Earles Skin & Hair, KitiKiti, BBD King and Indigo. The site also carries a blog, named Doo-Rag.

"We are political, and we're not afraid of being political. We're not afraid of saying who we are and having that open communication and conversation that black women have every day, like they would have in a salon. But this way, they're going to have it online."

"We want to say that women of color are not an afterthought; this is not the 'ethnic aisle'. This is for them, with them in mind, with them in the front of our minds, and we want to offer products to them that work."

An African American female entrepreneur, who's made her mark in the retail subscription industry, with a focus on perinatal and postpartum needs.

While other products tend to focus on baby, The Stork Bag offers curated products, which help mothers throughout their pregnancies and postpartum period. It's been loved by mothers throughout the world -- including Joanna Gaines, Khloe Kardashian, to name a few -- since November 2014.

The Stork Bag is the only pregnancy subscription product to have received OBGYN certification. And, it was a labor of love, for sure.

Perry launched The Stork Bag after obtaining her Master's degree, while pregnant with her third son and working full time in the nonprofit sector. On top of that, Ericka recently published a pregnancy journal called "9 Months of Happiness: Maintaining a Blissful Pregnancy," and helps her husband run his self-help YouTube channel YouAreCreators, Inc.

At the end of the day, Ericka is an inspiration for women to reach for the stars, focusing on what makes them the happiest.

To get a sense of what Ericka's like (and her amazing personality), please see her reel, and a link to one of her TV appearances.

DOOPLEX: What was your inspiration for starting the business?

PERRY: My biggest inspiration was mothers, in particular, pregnant mothers. I'm a mom and have many friends and family members who are also mothers. Catering to women during such an important time in their lives was and still is the driving force behind my business.

DOOPLEX: What have been your greatest achievements and biggest challenges?

PERRY: My greatest achievements have come in the form of customer satisfaction and word of mouth brand recognition growth. Knowing that not only are people purchasing The Stork Bag, but are also spreading the word about it makes me proud. I've faced many challenges with growing The Stork Bag but the biggest would have to be in the arena of scaling. Scaling a subscription based business can be challenging until you find what works for your business. This is because many sub-based businesses rely heavily on other brands, we've learned to work around this challenge by implementing processes that help us align with the right brands and provide exclusive content.

DOOPLEX: Advice to women who want to start a new business?

PERRY: My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to Just Do It. As a consultant, I often times come across clients who have a really great idea but are too afraid to step on the gas. I always tell them to Just Do It, put it out there and tweak it along the way. Too much overthinking can lead to failure without even trying.

DOOPLEX: What are your plans for the future of your business?

PERRY: My plan is to grow The Stork Bag into the premier pregnancy gifting brand. Our vision is not only The Stork Bag being the "go-to" pregnancy gift, our goal is for our brand(s) to be synonymous with pregnancy.

DOOPLEX: Being a black woman business owner? What are some of the specific challenges?

PERRY: I don't necessarily see challenges related to being a black woman business owner. My outlook sees far beyond barriers and capitalizes on opportunity. I encourage all female entrepreneurs to do the same, especially AA female entrepreneurs. We're not victims, we're leaders who can create magic if we knew our potential and focused only on opportunity; image what we could create!

DOOPLEX: What do you love and struggle with when it comes to your hair/skin?

I love my skin color, growing up with darker skin was sometimes hard and when I became a young adult and started wearing make up, it was a struggle to find the right foundation. Luckily, I've never struggled with acme prone skin but oil prone skin was a headache!


By Maiysha Kai

Looking for an entirely for-us, by-us, one-stop shop for hair and beauty products? Welcome to the Dooplex, a new online marketplace hoping to elevate the black beauty industry to the next level.

Launched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018, the Dooplex is the brainchild of CEO Kevin Lyles, who left a corporate career in Texas to return to his native Gary, Ind., to help his family's 29-year-old beauty-and-barber supply company, Milizette. Witnessing the ways that his hometown was dying because of the loss of industry and jobs, Lyles sought to give back to the community and help small black-owned salons and beauty suppliers stay afloat by selling their product online. Enter friends and partners Roger Fountain and Jacob Williams who are helping Lyles bring his vision to life through the Dooplex. In addition to offering options from lesser-known black- and minority-owned skin- and hair-care brands, starting with Dr. Earles Skin & Hair, KitiKiti, BBD King and Indigo, the team are also offering community and kinship through their blog, Doo-Rag.

"We are political, and we're not afraid of being political. We're not afraid of saying who we are and having that open communication and conversation that black women have every day, like they would have in a salon. But this way, they're going to have it online."

Their autonomy to craft and convey their own unique message, as well as curate offerings specific to the needs of women of color, derives from the fact that the Dooplex is independently funded. While their pace of growth may be slow and steady compared with other startups, there are no venture capitalists editing their messaging or watering down their products, each of which is salon-tested and professional-grade.

"I think it's important that we make sure that our customers know that the lines that they're buying are black and minority-owned. ... It's never been more relevant than right now. And that is something our customers really respond to—it doesn't have to always be these big cosmetic companies that are the powerhouse. You know, these smaller lines are out there; they've been chugging along in the black community doing really well for women for a long time. It's just that now we have a national platform for them, through e-commerce."

As the Dooplex continues to grow, future plans include a possible in-house label, which would create local jobs, as well as philanthropic efforts to help revitalize the city of Gary, potentially through the creation of a nonprofit. But for now, that growth depends heavily on word of mouth and ensuring that the customers the Dooplex was created to serve know that a space exclusively for them now exists,

"We want to say that women of color are not an afterthought; this is not the "ethnic aisle." This is for them, with them in mind, with them in the front of our minds, and we want to offer products to them that work. ... For us, first and foremost are our customers, and what works for them and what they need."