Sisters Supporting Sisters is dedicated to women of color living out their entrepreneurial dreams. Sisters Supporting Sisters was started due to a lack of outlets to feature the immense talent and creativity of women of color. It is important for women of color to be more supportive of one another in business and life in general. A strong network of relationships amongst minority women would definitely help make the climb to the top a little bit easier—especially if they just happen to be going after the same dreams. Honestly, there is enough money for everyone to do their thing and still be supportive at the same time.
Q: Why did you decide to start YMIB?
Ericka: The initial spark of the ymib movement has been a process. First, my life coach (my husband) Dante Taylor, who is also the owner of the media company which publishes ymib (SetyMedia, LLC), and myself owned an online boutique that sold handmade jewelry and accessories that myself and other crafters made called JuBella.com. I wanted to have a little (and I emphasize little) newsletter that we were to send to our users that was about creative things and inspiration. However, my husband suggested a different direction. He says, ‘why not make it a magazine,’ and it took off from there. I had no clue where to begin. As I thought about his suggestion, it dawned on me that this was a needed resource for women like me. Two, I am a stay at home mom and we home-school our little one, and I wanted a job that would allow me to be able to be a homemaker while still allowing me to have a creative outlet.
Q: Tell us more about the women behind the beautiful site?
Ericka: The number of women behind ymib grows with each new sister that joins the circle. It is not just myself or a staff that we consider to be the backbone of ymib, but more so our members. So if I had to tell you more about the women behind ymib, I would have to define them as conscious, beautiful, organic, creative, unique, motherly, intelligent, strong, holistic, inspirational, poetic, passionate and motivational. They truly make it beautiful!
Q: What is the story behind the name “You Make It Beautiful?”
Ericka: Well, there are a lot of print magazines and sites that tell their readers what to do and how to do it, and when to do it; but we wanted ymib to reflect more of the energy of “how do you do it?” We want our members to have a direct effect on the growth of the content and community. So, You Make It Beautiful basically means that without our readers it would simply not be as beautiful.
Q: Who are some notables that have graced the online pages of YMIB?
Ericka: We have had the pleasure of interviewing/featuring: Karen Gibson Roc, Goapele, Cree Summer, Corinne Bailey Rae, Janelle Monae, T’Keyah Crystal Keymah, Zap Mama, Lady Bug Mecca, Bertice Berry, Rhian Ayanna, Ndambi, Cedella Marley, Navasha Daya and Iyeoka. We prefer to stay grassroots most of the time, not focusing on “mainstream” celebrities, so the women who have both graced the covers as well as those who are featured within articles and daily bites range from those you have heard of to the women that you have not.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in starting YMIB?
Ericka: I cannot really pinpoint what the biggest challenge was with starting ymib. However, I do know that the biggest challenge for me right now with ymib is keeping up with the Circle Sisters number of fabulous blog posts!
Q: YMIB is not only an online magazine, but a network as well. Why did you decide to offer that feature?
Ericka: As mentioned before, our tag line is “You Make It Beautiful,” so while we featured many contributing writers and staff written articles, we wanted to broaden the definition of what we meant by that statement. This is why we decided to incorporate a community for our Circle of Sisters. Each and everyone one of them provides their own voice, their own opinion, in their own style. There are so many sisters that provide inspiration on a daily basis ranging from very personal stories to creative ideas, and we think it is wonderful!
Q: As an online magazine publisher, how do you feel about the state of magazines for African American women?
Ericka: Well, I do not feel that we are in a state of crisis as some think. I think that we as readers and publishers need to think outside of the print world. Things change and there are tons of sites and blogs that support the beauty of every type of woman of color. Sometimes I hear Nubian women complain about white owned magazines that do not feature enough black women, and I’m like ‘what?’ I think we need to stop asking and start creating.
Q: YMIB focuses a lot on holistic health and being natural; why do you think that is important for us to know and embrace?
Ericka: Well, every woman of color seems to define “natural” differently. For me it is trying my best to maintain simplicity and a connection with nature through the use of my given talents, eating healthy/organic when possible, following a simple principle of “doing the right thing,” as well as wearing my hair in its natural texture. I think that maintaining some sort of connection to a natural state of being is important because in my eyes natural/organic forms carry a larger sense of energy and personality. Going natural in terms of our hair is such a touchy thing with Nubian women. My personal opinion is that as long as a woman of color can be just as happy with herself wearing her hair natural and loosing all of the gloss, blush, and pumps, then she has fully accepted herself. But if that woman that prefers to relax her hair, and wear the gloss and wear the stilettos, cannot look at her natural self in the mirror and find the reflection that she sees as beautiful, then there is still work to be done. Basically what I am saying here is that it is less import to “go natural” but more important to accept yourself in your natural state first . . . to see your natural self as beautiful before it is processed and made up so to speak.
As far as holistic health, I think that it is important for not only health reasons, but the less toxic your body is the more mentally connected you become with your spiritual and creative self. Most people think that ymib is only for the vegetarian or vegan types, but that is far from the truth. Holistics is more than a diet to us, and every sister has her own level in which she is at in making her life better or whole. So whether you are a vegan or eat pork, some form of holistic well-being can fit into your life, and ymib and the Circle of Sisters are there to inspire you through your process.
Q: I’m guessing you are all natural—what are some of your favorite brands and products?
Ericka: I would not go as far as saying that I am “all” natural in the terms of how I or most may define it. I am a work in progress, and I still sneak in lots of refined sweets and treats (I love to cook pretty dishes and desserts). However, I do maintain a “homemade” diet, meaning instead of buying packaged sweets and pre-made foods, I make the same things at home with no preservatives and a lot less additives and sugar. I then try to render them into vegan/healthy recipes once I’ve mastered the regular way.
As far as beauty and hair goes: I actually like to twist my locs with Kinky Kurly’s Curling Custard. Oyin Handmades Black Soap and Honey Gentle Cleansing Foam and Burnt Sugar Pomade are heaven. Anita Grant, smellgoodspa.com, and Qhemet Biologics are wonderful as well, and my kitchen cabinet serves quite well for homemade beauty recipes! A mix of brown sugar sea/coarse salt, cornmeal, olive oil and a drop of your favorite natural/essential oil/perfume does wonders!
Q: What do you think the biggest mistake or misconception women make when starting a business?
Ericka: I can best answer this from a mom and wife perspective. I think the biggest mistake women might make when starting a business is not allowing time for herself and poor time management. It is essential that you block out an hour or more for yourself at some point in the day to do something other than work. Something for yourself. Managing your time is probably the second most important thing to maintain. Often I would find myself saying “there is just not enough time in the day to do everything,” but if we really think about it, there is more than enough time to do the things we want to do. We just have to be disciplined enough to value our time in order to do it. Even if it means waking up earlier or watching less TV.
Q: Do you have any advice to women contemplating or who have just started a business?
One: make sure that whatever you decide to do is something that you would do in your spare time if you were not getting paid for it.
Two: Take it slow. I am a firm believer in growing too fast. Do not try to implement your big idea overnight. Take your time and work through every angle first.
Three: Don’t lose yourself: Sometimes when you start your company you might envision everything to reflect your style and interests. As you grow into the company, you might find yourself trying to cater more to your customers’ or other peoples’ taste and interests and losing yourself while doing it all in the name of making more money. Be sure to not lose you . . . after all, your personality is the foundation that sparked the creation of your company.
Q: What’s in the future for YMIB?
Ericka: We are always in an evolving creative cycle, so who’s to say what’s next. We hope to have more features, and we would like to see ymib grow into the ultimate inspiration resource for women of culture. We hope to see it continue to grow, to see sisters connect and network, and to continue to share their inspiration and utilize the site to its fullest. I can say that there will be several networking sites that will be launched in the near future that will compliment the tone of ymib!
Q: What do you want someone to walk away with after visiting your site?
Ericka: Oh my, lets see: inspiration, motivation, creativity, sisterhood, wholeness, well-being, family, wise advice, positive vibrations, motherly love, blissfulness, daydreams, empowerment and the act of repeating to themselves that “I Make It Beautiful!”