One of the things I am always striving to do with our amazing features is to showcase love that is full: from a woman who loves herself on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels, to abiding, committed love & partnership in marriage. I want to show a woman that loves herself inside, as well as outside. So, I am going to be featuring beauty brands (skin care & makeup) that are owned by women of African heritage or descent.
So, if you have such a brand, or know someone who owns one, feel free to send me an e-mail at chioma[dot]onyewuchi[at]hotmail[dot]com.
Editor’s Note: Feature interviews are often edited and/or condensed in some way.
The first beauty brand feature is Pure Òkwùma by Kaylyn Danielle. Find out all about it.

Name: Kaylyn Danielle
Brand Name: Pure Òkwùma
Open Since: 2015

What inspired you to launch your business? Why skincare?
Friends and family advising me to do what I’m good at, do what is easy for me and do what I love. It sounds too simple, but it actually led me to starting a business that I enjoy doing every day.
Starting a business in natural skincare just made sense to me. I certainly had experience from making my own natural hair and skin products and dabbling in herbalism. When my friends would come over to my house, they would be so excited to see how I rigged up my apartment for my newest concoction.
Why did you choose the name, Pure Òkwùma?
To say the least, choosing a name for any company can be one of the hardest tasks an entrepreneur has to tackle. I thought about choosing something that reflected our core values and foundation. Something that would keep us focused on doing things right and doing things better. Pure Òkwùma was the clear choice.
A late night at my computer, looking at shea trees, sparked the idea to look at local names for “shea” where the shea tree is predominant.
The name, “Òkwùma”, is another name for “shea” from the Igbo language in West Africa. It is amazing how many products are based on all-natural foundations, but are so chemically modified and reproduced that the essential ingredients are lost.
All of our products are made with cocoa and shea butter, two of the most versatile natural beauty ingredients on the planet, that nourish your body, as well as local communities in West Africa where our ingredients are sourced.
This is the beginning of a long journey but, by naming ourselves after our purest intentions, we will constantly be reminded to do better.


Why did you choose shea and cocoa butters as the foundation of all your products?
Shea and cocoa are two of the most versatile over-looked natural beauty super foods on the planet. Their richness in precious constituents, like essential fatty acids, vitamin E and D, and allantoin make them the best choice for moisturizing, anti-aging, regenerating and protecting from UV sunlight. Shea and cocoa will always beat out any trendy skin care products for the cold and sunny seasons.
What sets Pure Okwuma apart from other natural skincare products?
I wanted to develop a range of products that bring together the very best in skincare ingredients that are designed to nourish, replenish and hydrate the skin. Pure Òkwùma is exactly what I wanted for myself.
Pure Òkwùma products are all vegan and don’t contain any parabens or harsh chemicals. We’ve added six different types of antioxidants that reign supreme in combating many signs of aging, including wrinkles, dullness, and discoloration, and botanical fragrances like basil, lime and bergamot. However, it doesn’t just stop there.
We believe that we have a responsibility to the earth and to each other. Many of our ingredients, like our shea butter are fairly traded and sourced from a women’s cooperative, that help to enrich the lives of others. We take all of these wonderful ingredients and combine them to create the products that you see on our site.
I am proud of the results our products are achieving and the difference they are making to people’s skin.
Have you always wanted to start your own business?
I think so. Starting my own business was something that my dad showed me was possible as a child. The fulfillment that I received from people that liked my body butters when I was just doing it for my own personal use, propelled me to create my own company. It’s been really exciting so far and I plan to introduce a lot more items soon.
What do you believe about yourself that makes you certain that you can succeed as an entrepreneur?
Starting a business is surprisingly simple–you just need to take the first step. It’s my willingness to go out there, my ability to embrace the confusion of starting a business and learning from my experiences and others, that makes me certain I can succeed as an entrepreneur.
How has the way you see yourself changed since you launched your business?
Starting Pure Òkwùma let me really embrace what it means to be comfortable, not only in my skin but in my willingness to be vulnerable. I’m constantly learning in both my business and personal life that embracing my authentic self isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, in many ways, having that push to just let go and go for it is what the human experience is all about.
What does success look like to you?
When it comes to success in business, it’s easy to focus on obvious measures like profitability, but I’m learning that the real indicator of success is how much you’re learning and becoming an expert in your field. To have someone consider me an expert would be worth so much more than money. Doing what you love as well as making a difference in other people’s lives is also another factor that I believe helps in your success.

Stay in touch with all things Pure Òkwùma. Follow the brand everywhere:


Orange is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks on Overcoming Insecurity & Suicidal Thoughts

Orange is the New Black (OITNB) is one of the series that really put Netflix on the map as a serious contender in the series department. Though I’ve never watched the show myself, I’ve only heard and read amazing things about it.
I recently came across a great article written by OINTB actress, Danielle Brooks (who plays the character, “Taystee”) for In it, she talks about her battles with insecurity, self-acceptance, and a negative body image – so much so that she had suicidal thoughts. One of the things I found most eye-opening about her story (and one we all need to keep in mind) is that she stated that, from the outside, one would probably never guess that she was fighting those battles, because she hid them so well and always came across as  confident and self-aware.
Plus, it reminded again to be a fierce protector of my children by being vigilant about the words that are spoken to them about their bodies and their minds. All too often, it is careless, mean-spirited words (sometimes, disguised as “jokes”) that introduce children to the vicious cycle of insecurity and negative self-talk.


Here is an excerpt:
“Being a teenager can be one of the hardest phases of a person’s life. For me, I struggled every day tricking myself into appearing confident. After reading over old journal entries, I realized some days were less successful than others. I came across one that took me aback. In this entry, I had written about how insecure I was about my weight. I wasn’t able to wear the flared jeans and cute tops the other girls wore—they didn’t come in my size. On top of that, I was dark-skinned and had natural hair. By the standard definition of beauty I had absorbed from the world around me, I had three strikes against me: I was too dark, too curly, and too fat.
Because of this insecurity, I was desperately unhappy. I was even having suicidal thoughts. But you wouldn’t have known it. The world saw a young teenage girl who was happy in her skin, laughed a lot, and didn’t care what anyone thought about her. The truth of the matter was I wasn’t happy in my skin; I laughed to hide my pain, and cared deeply what my peers thought of my appearance.

By the standard definition of beauty I had absorbed from the world around me, I had three strikes against me: I was too dark, too curly, and too fat.

I didn’t always feel so self-conscious. As a young girl, I was always a healthy kid but never a skinny kid. I didn’t know that there was anything “wrong” with my body until I was in middle school and a woman from church felt the spirit move her to tell me. As I walked home from Bible study one Wednesday night, she stopped me and exclaimed, “Danielle you’ve got stretch marks on your arms!” and proceeded to take her pointer finger and identify the four or five tiny lines that were starting to form. She continued, “You’re too young to be getting stretch marks,” though she was covered in them herself. And that’s when the cycle of judging myself began.
From that moment on, it was a long road to learning to love myself again. I dreamed of being an actor, but when I looked for reflections of myself on the screen, I found few. Still, I found inspiration in the words of Sharon Flake and the music of India Arie. I took acting classes, where I felt free and accepted. Free to let out the biggest screams, to roll around the floor like a cat, and to cry sloppy tears without being judged. Accepted by this tribe of fellow performers, unique individuals who valued me for my talent and my boldness and not for what I looked like (or didn’t look like). In acting I found my confidence, my joy, my safe place.

I didn’t know that there was anything “wrong” with my body until I was in middle school and a woman from church felt the spirit move her to tell me. As I walked home from Bible study one Wednesday night, she stopped me and exclaimed, “Danielle[,] you’ve got stretch marks on your arms!” and proceeded to take her pointer finger and identify the four or five tiny lines that were starting to form. She continued, “You’re too young to be getting stretch marks,” though she was covered in them herself. And that’s when the cycle of judging myself began.

Being in the public eye magnifies my “imperfection” to an insane degree. Attending the Golden Globes for the first time, I was aware that the majority of the other actresses in the audience didn’t look like me. But you see, the average woman is a size 12 to 14. Those actresses don’t look like most women. I’m not saying those actresses should gain 30 pounds, but I am posing the question, that if art is supposed to reflect life then why don’t the red carpets and magazines reflect reality?
Ideally, I want to see all beauties, all shapes, all sizes, all skin tones, all backgrounds represented in my profession. Now that I am blessed to be that reflection I was once looking for,  I’m making a promise to speak out for that little girl that I used to be. I might not have the power to change what media puts out there, or to single-handedly convince young girls like me that they should love themselves. But what I can do is start with me: living each day, embracing who I am.”

I’m so glad that Danielle is learning to embrace who she is, and inspiring other young women along the way. Let’s make a point of ensuring that our words do not start (or encourage) anyone down the spiral of insecurity.
Please read the full essay at via this link.


I SEE You: A Tribute to All Great Mothers (Biological & Spiritual)

With beauty that is indescribable
And strength that is truly unmatched
You labour from dusk until dawn
Loving, raising, working, toiling
I see you
When the frustration is all so great
And you, sometimes, feel like you need to escape
For just one moment, just one breath
But you steel your nerves, and do it again
I see you

When you look in the mirror and ask yourself why
Unbathed, uncleansed, and wondering how
Your body is so different, and new marks you bear
Your mind is telling you to despair
I see you

When you carried a life so sacredly
For nine months out of a year
You delighted, you struggled
You counted down the days
You couldn’t wait to see the life that would come forth
I saw you
When you hold your child in your loving arms
With a Love that grows stronger and stronger, deeper and deeper
With every passing moment, minute, and day
Until you feel it will take your breath away
Until your heart feels so big, you fear it will pop away
I see you

When you forget how important you truly are
How beautiful, how amazing your body has become
How inspiring your courage
How deep deep your love runs
I see you
When you dismiss yourself because you have no marks to show
You didn’t carry your baby in your body
But, boy, you do and did in your soul
When you question if you’re “really” your child’s mom
I see you

Whether you hold the hands of a child that’s yours or someone else’s
And plant seeds that will grow and bring forth life
Reminding them that they are beautiful and precious and God’s perfect package
And build up their spirits in ways that make a difference
I see you
You are mighty. you are strong
Let no one tell you differently
You are special, your love should be fought for & hard won
You inspire me, you amaze me
You challenge me, you teach me

You are beautiful, you are perfect
You are like nothing I’ve ever seen
You are cherished, you deserve the best
Don’t ever forget your beauty
You shine from the inside, and your outside truly glows
I see you
am you
I love you
and He does, too
God sees you
God loves you
And don’t you ever forget
HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY to every biological and spiritual mother – being a mom or playing the role of one; making a difference in the life of a child. You deserve EVERYTHING!!!

CHALLENGE: Smile When You Don’t Feel Like It

We’ve all had many days and moments in which we’ve wanted to throw in the towel. We want to scream, yell, or pummel something. Yup, we’ve all been there – and likely face moments like that everyday.
However, what if I gave you the seemingly ridiculous challenge of smiling in the midst of those head-splitting frustrations. Wait a minute! It isn’t half as ridiculous as it sounds!!
According to research, there is a mind-body connection when we smile; so, “the simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. And when you’re happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins.” But if your smile is fake, it doesn’t really count, right? Wrong!

Forbes states,

“Decades of research bear out the basic truth: your mood is elevated and your stress is reduced if you plaster a big smile on your face, even for a short period of time. (Frowns have been shown to have the opposite effect.) The smile doesn’t have to be based on real emotion – faking it works.”

The magazine goes on to say,

“When you smile, your brain is aware of the activity and actually keeps track of it. The more you smile, the more effective you are at breaking the brain’s natural tendency to think negatively. If you smile often enough, you end up rewiring your brain to make positive patterns more often than it does negative ones.”

Isn’t that a great incentive to throw in a few smiles when you don’t feel like it? Before we know it, our fake smiles will become real, and we’ll realize that the things we are so frustrated about aren’t so life-altering after all. :) :)


HEARTWARMING VIDEO: Blindfolded Children Correctly Identify Their Mothers

Mother’s Day is right around the corner (May 10), and I found this incredibly touching and heartwarming video by the jewelry company, Pandora. In the video, children aged 3-9 are blindfolded and asked to identify their mothers by touch. Wonderful things ensue.
For me, the lesson here is more than just the obvious one of each child’s ability to identify his/her mom: it’s the reality that every woman is really beautifully unique and perfect in her uniqueness. Those things that we, sometimes, don’t accept are the amazing things that make us stand out. From having a completely unique smell to our one-of-a-kind features, and impossible-to-duplicate essence and spirit, we are masterpieces – and our children remind us of that everyday. Let’s listen to them, and remember. :)

CHALLENGE: Transform Your Life with Your Words

This week’s challenge definitely affects us all – but it seems to have a special emphasis on women. As women, we tend to be more hard on ourselves and far more demanding of perfection from ourselves (and each other), so much so that we don’t realize how much life we are taking away from ourselves.
Recently, I have been cultivating the habit of speaking words that bring life, because I realized that I wasn’t doing as great a job in that department as I need to be. As the Bible states in Proverbs 18:21, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue …”; I believe that wholeheartedly.
I have begun the practice of looking at myself in the mirror at the start of the day, and declaring wonderful things about myself and my day. I tell myself great things about my body, my spirit, my mind, my thoughts, and my deeds. I declare amazing things for that day, because I know that my words and what I believe will absolutely set the tone for the day.

Women are so often quick to dismiss themselves, and believe that cowering in debasement, false humility, and constant negative self-talk is the way we should be. I’ve been there, too – but I know for a fact that it is not where we should be. We are so amazing, and so many things to so many people, that it is only right that we know who we are. It’s time for us to stand in our thoughts like giants: knowing that we are queens, that we are worth SO SO much to God, that we are beautiful just as we are, that we are totally allowed to make mistakes, and that we can achieve great and powerful things.
Let us work together to change the words we speak to ourselves, and replace the negative words we use with ones that are positive and edifying. I’m so down. Are you?

{Image from here}

PURPOSE: Surround Yourself with Brilliance & Excellence

I honestly love being a woman. I wouldn’t trade my womanhood for anything in the world. What I love even more is being surrounded by amazing women, who also love who they are, live life with purpose, and challenge me on my spiritual journey and walk with God.
I have recently been particularly thankful for my two best friends, who keep me grounded and encourage me on life’s journey. We don’t always see what we need to, and we often let the temporary challenges we face become major obstacles and sources of discouragement. Having someone in your corner pushing you to see the best, and get the best out of yourself, is so absolutely fundamental.

If you’re a young woman like me with a great imagination and even BIGGER dreams, you can’t do it alone. You have to find other women who are of like mind. If you yearn to live a life that is full of purpose; are seeking to reach for more everyday; are looking to be better, feel perfect in your own skin, walk in intimacy with God, and create amazing things in this world, you need to surround yourself with brilliance.
So, is your inner circle taking you higher and calling you to greater, or are they settling for superficiality and mediocrity?
You choose who you want to be! Let your circle reflect who you are inside.


{Image via TalkingwithTami by way of Essence}

ROMANTIC INSPIRATIONS: An Easier Way to Say “I’m Sorry”

Married people everywhere can all agree on something: sometimes, apologizing isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be. I mean, when you just know that you’re right and your spouse is dead wrong, how could you possibly apologize? He’s the one that needs to say, “I’m sorry”. Right?
Ugh! This humbling thing called marriage really is work!
So, because I struggle like most other people in this area, sometimes, I thought of a great way to say, “I’m sorry”. How about keeping a stash of “I’m sorry and I love you” notes? You can plop them in a jar, or a box, anywhere you’d like.


When you’d like to apologize, so that you can both let go of the tension, but feel your pride getting in the way, break out one of those boxes and pull out a note. Then, place it somewhere you know your spouse will inevitably see it – soon. On his laptop, on the fridge, on a plate as he’s going for food. You know those places!

Maybe doing this will make it easier for all of us to say, “I’m sorry”, until we can really get into the habit of actually saying it, when we need to.
How do YOU make saying, “I’m sorry”, work for you?

{Images via SewCountryChick & Damask Love}

Is She Your Role Model OR Your Idol?

Many people aspire to greater things: they want to be better, look better, or do better. Often times, we look to other people to provide the blueprint. We look for people have achieved what we hope to achieve, some day, and quickly model ourselves after them. We scrounge for information on just how they were able to reach such incredible heights: what do they do? what do they eat? when do they wake up? We hope that in investigating their lives, we can find the secret formula to achieving what we seek.
Of course, learning from those who are wiser and more experienced than we are is always a good thing. Knowledge, they say, is never really wasted. However, the problem emerges when we switch from admiration to idolatry.
When we see someone as a role model or admire that person, we consider him/her worthy of emulation – a person to learn and glean from. On the flip side, when someone becomes an idol, it becomes a completely different matter all together!! We leave behind healthy admiration and take on something a lot more sinister: an obsession and a level of devotion that is far from healthy. Rather than simply wanting to learn from such a person, we want to be that person – totally NOT cool!

We see it all the time, particularly with pop culture. Celebrities like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna, have a following that is uncanny. Rather than emulating traits that they admire, their followers have really become, well … followers. That’s a really dangerous thing!
When we leave behind our own journeys, our own paths, and our own purpose to take on someone else’s, we always fail.
I am reminded of this commencement speech by groundbreaking screenwriter/director/producer/showrunner, Shonda Rhimes, in which she speaks of her previous ambition to be award-winning author, Toni Morrison – until, that is, she realized that she couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be anyone but herself. Imagine what we would have lost out on if Shonda Rhimes weren’t who she is.
So, it’s okay to admire people who we consider worthy of emulation, but it’s not okay to make idols out of them – fashioning our dreams, goals, and entire personalities after them. It’s not what women of purpose do. Plus, you’ll be amazed by just how much God has put into you when you commit to simply being who He made YOU.



CHALLENGE: Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You

This week’s challenge is one that’s particularly close to my heart, because most days, something as simple as sending or receiving e-mails scares me.
The root of this irrational fear is a fear of rejection. Most days, for, I send out e-mails to people I hope to feature in one of my original interview sections; or, I receive a response to one of the e-mails I’ve sent out. I always hold my breath before I open the email, because getting a response that shows lack of interest (or even worse for me: never getting a response at all), isn’t so much fun for me.

Lately, however, I’m quite pleased with the realization that I’m getting much better. Before I open one such e-mail, I simply whisper to myself that it’s only an e-mail after all, and if it’s a “No”, it’s really only a “No!” I mean, the word never killed anyone, right?
So, this week’s challenge is to do one thing everyday that scares you. It might be something as seemingly simple and mundane as sending an e-mail with a request, like my “scary” thing; or cooking something you’ve been too scared to try; or having a much-needed conversation. Or, it could be something big, like taking the necessary steps to launch a new business; or wearing clothes in bold and new colors; or trying on taking on a really big project at work.
Each day you wake up this week, think of tackling one “scary” thing.
Best of luck to you, and see you next Wednesday for next week’s challenge. :)

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