Browse Tag

self care

9 mins read

This Black Owned Coloring Book Series Was Created To Inspire and Relieve Stress

Today is National Coloring Book day! This is the perfect day to support a Black owned coloring book business that celebrates Black women and girls!

Entrepreneurs Color Too creates adult coloring books to help creatives and entrepreneurs practice self care. Each book is filled with 24 inspiring illustrations that celebrate the beauty of black women and they are the perfect way to de-stress, relax, and get motivated.

We caught up with founder, Latoya Nicole to find out more about her and her business.

black owned coloring book
Latoya Nicole

What inspired you to start your business?

I was at work a while back and it was a really busy season and we were all frustrated and overwhelmed with the workload. Some of the managers wanted to try and make things better so they were doing “stress relieving” things like providing free coffee, massages and they also brought each of us coloring books to help “take the load off.”

black owned coloring book

To be honest, when I first saw the coloring book I was thinking “What am I gonna do with this?” because I hadn’t used a coloring book since I was a child. But one day I had become frustrated to the max and jokingly said to the guy beside me, “Pass me one of those colored pencils!” Once I started coloring, I noticed that I started feeling calmer!

But, I thought nothing else of it until years later and I was browsing the internet trying to figure out great ideas to put in place so that I could create passive income. I was browsing the internet and asking God what my next move should be when I heard “24 Shades of Business.”

When I hear certain things, especially after I ask, I don’t take them lightly because I’m a believer that I have always been given “witty inventions.” I quickly jotted down the title that I had heard and put it in my journal.

Later, I started putting pieces together and remembered how the coloring book from my job had really helped. I also remembered that the coloring book only had trees, mandalas, and birds for me to color but nothing that I could relate to. I started doing more research and found lots of coloring books but very few that looked like me on the cover.

So, I knew that I had to fill the diversity void and create books celebrating Black women. Now, my company Entrepreneurs Color Too has grown into a series of 5 coloring books aimed to help women relieve stress, practice self care, and release their creativity.

How do you decide what images to use in your coloring books?

I like to create a story with my coloring books. Each book tells a different story. For example, my HBCU coloring book tells the story of an HBCU experience including memories from the culture on the yard to the experiences in the classroom.

black owned coloring book

So, when I‘m creating a new book I start by brainstorming ideas to include everything I already know about the specific topic or niche. Then, I plan out all of the images and types of settings I will want to include.

Next, I take time to research and gather inspiration from little things including people that I see every day along with any trends that I may see that I want to incorporate into my vision.

After I finish jotting down sketches and/or creating all the types of images that I want to add in a particular book, I send my illustrator the list using stick figures, ink pen & pencil drawings as well as pictures that inspired me so that she can make the images come alive and look professional.

What differentiates your products from other coloring books out there?

My coloring books, largely for adults, are focused on black women, black concerns, and my creative vision as a black author who wanted to self-publish images that celebrate, uplift and inspire women and young girls like me, because representation matters.

I will never get tired of hearing words like “I’m 40 years old and this is the first time I have ever seen a coloring book with women that have my features and hairstyles”. It’s good to know that people feel included.

And, it’s so important not only for women but for children to understand the importance of diversity. That’s why I was intentional with the release of my most recent mommy and me coloring book because I wanted to be sure that young girls could also see positive reflections of themselves too.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

My vision is to continue to expand. I have a lot more books to publish and plan to add other unique and creative things to the brand as well, including a line of journals.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Even during this time, I’ve heard so many success stories, particularly from authors, about how their sales are growing because so many people are looking to support Black Owned Businesses now more than ever. The key is that they were not afraid to start and also not afraid to take calculated risks.

Remember that you are going to need a plan and some traffic in order to sell anything. To start, you should focus on creating something that solves a problem. Then, focus on ways that you will bring traffic to your website to sell that product. This could be from creating an email list to marketing with ads. Ultimately, you need more people to learn about what you do and to become a customer.

Look at what’s working for others. If you follow someone on social media that you like or admire, look at what they’re doing. Of course, do not copy their success, but follow the clues of their success. Whatever they’re doing is working for them and could also work for you.

After you have done your own research, which is extremely important, don’t be afraid to reach out to others who have been successful and done what you want to do. It’s ok to “slide in those DM’s” or email people for advice or even set up a consultation with them. I even offer consultation services and courses at teaching others how to start and market their online businesses.


-Tony O. Lawson

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18 mins read

In Good Conscience: Why I Left the Women of Color Healing Retreats in Costa Rica

Last year, I experienced a period of exhaustion, triggered by traumas from my past. It took a toll on me and left me in a state of seeming depression: bouts of crying and physical and mental fatigue. With the multiple projects and social responsibilities on my plate, I was overwhelmed. After a meltdown, I realized that what I was suffering from wasn’t depression but burn out, functioning on empty. I was in crisis mode and needed relaxation and extreme self care.

As I approached my fortieth birthday, I resolved and committed to entering the next decade of my life intentional about how to treat myself well: my body, my mental health, and, in general, overall my well-being.

Costa Rica is a gorgeous country. The natural landscape of the property where we were placed was gorgeous and scenic. The accommodations were two star at best and not comparable to the price we paid.

I was considering just visiting a gynecologist near me to make sure I was 100% healthy. However, I was recommended the Women of Color Healing Retreats (WOCHR) in Costa Rica by a close friend and it looked promising. The website had me thinking that it would be an experience that, I have been seeking, needing. The website promoted a healing retreat created specifically for Black women, that included workshops, rituals at the river and ocean, yoga, and vegan meals for eleven days. I immediately reserved my spot and paid the $3,333 without hesitation.

I was ready. Then, things took a slightly different turn.

Prior to leaving for WOCHR, I received hyper-aggressive emails from founder and self-identified healer and yogi, Satya X. The emails were meant to be informational. However, on multiple occasions, attendees were threatened with losing all of their money if they did not comply with responses in a timely manner, send back forms that were sent the week of/at the last minute or whatever else she instructed us. This, among many impressions, suggested that she was hosting a retreat in our (the attendees) favor by accepting our money.

Despite the off-putting nature of the electronic communication, I was determined to open myself up to the experience in hopes that I would benefit from the promises of renewed energy and well-being. The website advertised an assortment of workshops including: Inner Journey, Self-Care I and II, Exploring Colorism, Tap Into the Ancient Power of Crystals, Mindfulness Medicine, Race, Gender & Politics, Exploring Meditation Modalities, Herbalism, a Medicinal Plant Walk, and a Sankofa Workshop. All worth my $3333.

However, of all that was promised, we only received two workshops – one on colorism and another on self-care. Personally, I felt like the conversations were sophomoric and to be honest, did not leave my cohort with any new skills or strategies to improve our lives when we returned home. Additionally, a self-care retreat for Black women is no my place in my opinion, to have a colorism workshop. That topic is oftentimes triggering for many of us, no matter where we lie on the hue spectrum.

It became clear that the rest of this experience was going to become even more problematic when Satya told me that therapy was a part of white supremacy and that Black people needed to learn how to heal themselves without any outside help.

Lack of or under-programming aside, the accommodations were in stark contrast to what you would imagine a self-care retreat atmosphere should be. Environment is everything. While the landscape itself was gorgeous, we were in the interior of Costa Rica. If you’re a traveler, you know this meant that the property was occupied with every kind of living creature native to a rainforest imaginable, leaving some of us afraid to use the restrooms at night. Eleven women were split between two cabins where we shared a shower, sink, and toilet per cabin. The beds were hard and caused our backs to ache especially for the elders who were among us. Making matters worse: the massage or reiki that was promised on the website, was rescinded upon arrival. We were told that it was “canceled,” and that if we wanted the massage services we would have to pay an additional $55 to hire an outside practitioner.

Reminder, each of us had to pay $3,333.

One of the cabins that I shared with four other women.

The meals were sparse. One night I asked for a pinch of salt to season my chickpeas. Satya stood up and replied, “Salt is killing Black people.” Despite the hyperbolic nature of her statement, I was given a lime wedge to improve the taste, and went to sleep hungry. We were offered three meals a day, water, sometimes coconut water and unsweetened tea. We were told that if we desired snacks such as small mugs of smoothies or fried plantains, we would have to purchase it. Our $3333, as we found, did not come with comfort or sated appetites.

It was on this evening, Day 5, that two of the eleven women in our cohort decided to leave the retreat.

As I am an adamant supporter of Black enterprises, I tried to remain optimistic and show my support. By Day 6, I had all that I could take. My objective for being there was thwarted by the lack of organization and transparency of the entire setup. The morning of my last day at the retreat, I sat outside of my cabin trying to weigh the pros and cons of staying versus going. I decided to prioritize my comfort and peace of mind, and the only way that could happen was to leave. Two other women left with me.

Upon leaving WOCHR, I shared with my community on social media that I decided to leave the retreat and reclaim my time.

In response to that post, more than a dozen women relayed to me similar (or worse) experiences they or their friends had at WOCHR.

I knew that the “retreat” was meant to help improve something in the lives of each woman who ventured there but was potentially creating more harm—not to mention leaving us absent a hefty sum from our bank accounts. Two of the women were over sixty and their kids paid for them to come. Other women were healing from an assortment of traumas, PTSD and difficult situations. One of the women who left with me broke down and cried and told me that she felt worse than she did before coming to the retreat.

Creating and holding space for Black women to heal is not only sacred but it’s critical. While it was difficult to call out a Black-owned business, I feel even more responsible to the countless Black women who, in desperation, are seeking out spaces for healing. I could not, in good faith, encourage Black women or endorse vulnerable communities to go out of their way to participate in something that may cause even more harm, (re)opening wounds of old and new. WOCHR does not seem equipped to facilitate experiences of healing.

It’s painstakingly clear that Black women are in need of inexpensive self-care practices that we can employ at home. We are also in need rejuvenating experiences that will take us away from our every day routines. Personally, I’ve been actively involved with GirlTrek, the largest health movement for Black women in the U.S. GirlTrek encourages women to walk 30 minutes a day. This Labor Day, they’ll be organizing its annual Stress Protest in the mountains of Colorado. I encourage you to join us.

What other wellness practices and experiences have you personally benefited from? We’d love to promote those to our readers.

While I definitely did not get my money’s worth, the trip wasn’t a complete bust. I’m open to finding a Black-owned/run yoga studio or class in my city. As a happy carnivore, I’m open to trying vegan recipes (with proper seasoning) and a few of the Black-owned vegan eateries in Philadelphia. The camaraderie that was created by those of us who attended, was priceless. Moving forward, we have vowed, to continue to hold one another accountable for finding our joy, and indulging in wellness, one tiny radical self-care act a time.

Fortunately, I found a great therapist earlier this year. I couldn’t wait to vent about the retreat upon my return home. The session turned out to be fantastic (like Celie and Nettie, him and I shall never part…Makidada). Unlike what is being promoted at WOCHR, I know that therapy is essential to Black women’s healing, and most especially my own.

Namaste, NahI’mmago

– Shantrelle P. Lewis, Co-Founder of ShoppeBlack, Duly initiated Lucimi Sango Priest and African-centered curator and social entrepreneur. (IG @apshantology)

When life throws you catfish, always make poboys! My linesister Maya-Camille and I were a little too overjoyed to leave.


Accommodations: Prior to even going to the retreat, we were told that we were to stay in a hostel the night that we arrived and the night before we departed Costa Rica. I chose to reserve a room in a hotel instead. Additionally, the 11 women in attendance were split up between two cabins.The beds were very rudimentary and hurt each of our backs. Most especially the women who were elders in the group. As soon as you sat on them, you sunk down into the planks. There wasn’t any seating on the property such as hammocks or lounge chairs, anything that would allow you to recline, only hard wooden benches. Also, since the plumbing system was operated by a septic tank, we were not allowed to flush toilet paper in the toilet, we had to throw it in a trash can instead. Signs were posted in our cabins saying that in Costa Rica, you can’t flush toilet paper in the toilet because the system can handle it. That is a lie. That property couldn’t handle paper in the system.

Maya-Camille, making the best of a situation that wasn’t ideal.

Vegan Meals: The meals were prepared by a chef based in Brooklyn with assistance from a Black Costa Rican woman who owns a restaurant and a couple other local women. For the most part the meals were surprisingly tasty, though sparse. Additionally, it would have wonderful to have been offered fruit and tropical or green juices along with our meals. Note: I would hire the chef for future events because some of the meals were tasty.

Ground Transportation: The week that we were scheduled to leave for the retreat, we were sent an invoice for $100 for ground transportation. We were told that if we did not send in the money within two days, we’d have to pay a late fee. This was an inconvenience for many people who had already budgeted their costs, and were not expecting to pay any additional fees.

Location: We were taken out to the interior of Costa Rica, in a location that was 3 hours and 44 minutes away from the beach in Puerto Viejo. The website actively advertised that we would be staying at a beach front property, a major draw for the attendees.

Costs: $3333 retreat price not including flights (which was supposed to include a healing massage or reiki treatment), $100 ground transportation $32 for two nights stay at a hostel (more if you paid for a hotel, in our case $300), snacks. NOTE: Initially, attendees were instructed to pay our balance via Paypal. When our last payments were due, we were told that Paypal would no longer be accepted and we would only be allowed to pay via an international wire transfer, which was more expensive for attendees and which ultimately meant that our payments would no longer be protected. The retreat is now offered at $4444.

Communication: We were sent a form that included the retreat’s “codes of conduct” to sign four days prior to our retreat start date. Additionally, the fine print included restrictions against wearing any clothes with labels, including any from small labels (in my case Black-owned companies). The Code of Conduct also included a gag order about negative commentary about the retreat. I found it odd that a healing and self-care retreat would need to request something like this four days in advance to arriving.

“The zero tolerance hate policy extends to negative postings on any form of public social networking, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. Should you post something before or after the retreat, affiliated with Women of Color Healing Retreats that the organizers feel does not align with the sisterhood and mission of Women of Color Healing Retreats, you will be asked to remove or edit the post.”

Karmic Yoga/Kitchen Duty: Almost forgot to mention, we had to wash dishes after our meals.

Yoga: I actually did enjoy the yoga classes. The instructor was kind, compassionate and very patient. Thanks to her classes, I’ll be trying out yoga with local Black instructors.

Featured Image: The morning I left the retreat.

14 mins read

Today is International Self-Love Day Because We Said So

Here we are, a couple days after Valentine’s Day. The dust has settled and love is just a tumbleweed rolling down the aisles of retailers that are offering candied hearts, goo-filled chocolates, faux silk flowers, teddy bears and heart-themed jammies at a cool 25-30% off. Pro-tip: savings will probably grow to a full 75% off if you wait until Sunday.

Valentine’s Day is bankable because embedded in principles of love is the understanding that it is a shared experience. We are bred to love others starting with the people that had hands in raising us. Our love expanded when we added more people to our tribe. And, at some point in between, we were taught to love mankind. Valentine’s Day tugs at our instincts to express what we learned about love.

And so, while retailers are rolling back the love, we decided that today’s the perfect day to ramp up on some self-love. That in mind, Shoppe Black declares that, from this day forward, February 16th will be known International Self-Love Day (echo, echo, echo). Just go with it. Grab you some discounted merch and love up on yo’ self.

Inspired by the political shitshow forced up our spirits, International Self-Love Day was conceived (read: totally made up) to remind you, dear reader, to unplug and practice joy. While we’re in the lab chatting ribbon colors and brainstorming taglines, we challenge you to use this new holiday to workshop ideas on how you can hashtag resist and divest at the same damn time.

To help get you started, we asked a few of our readers how they practice self-care.

Meet Bradford.

Bradford Knight is a freelance make-up artist living in Harlem, NY.

“When I’m stressed I like to prepare myself a nice fulfilling breakfast and give myself a manicure. I work with my hands so they are my most important tool. My profession requires that they be clean and neat. I spent years having them professionally done, but about 5 years ago I decided to take on the task myself. I actually didn’t do for economic reasons. I did it because I use my hands to make people feel beautiful everyday so it was important for me to give that love back to myself in a small way and I felt that I was the best person to do it. I have always felt that self care was important, but if it wasn’t for a friend of mine recommending I look into a professional doctor like Gundry MD, I don’t think I would have stepped up my game. Doing a bit of research into anything, especially when it comes to your health can make all the difference.

I consulted with one of my best friends, who happens to be a nail tech, about the tools I would need and how to properly execute a good manicure. I went to a local beauty supply store and bought all my utensils and got to work. I even made my own hand scrub out of a concoction of coconut oil and sugar.

My manicures last for 45 minutes to an hour. I’m able to give myself the love, if only for a short while, that I’m giving to others for 8 hours (or longer) a day. It sounds cliche, but you must love yourself before you can give it to others.

I learned that self-care was important very early on in my career in beauty, yet I didn’t practice it until much later. My work requires a lot of energy so when I was done, the last thing I wanted to do was spend time in a spa or salon. I would much rather veg out with TV or bake a pie. Only in the last 10 years have I really appreciated how one hour every two weeks can renew my spirit. And, it does not have to be in a salon or spa. It can happen in whatever space is safe and rejuvenating for you. For me, it’s doing my manicure at my dining table listening to 70’s or 80’s R&B. For someone else it could be a weekend at a spa out of town.”

You can follow Bradford’s self-love journey @justbradford on IG.

Meet Erica.

Erica Sewell is a creative recruiter/consultant living and playing in Oakland, CA.

“I relieve stress by being still. While still living in NYC— I moved there when I was 21— I had lots of energy and could run the streets from day-to-night on a liquid diet with ease. As I got older, the hustle and pace started to wear me out more so I began implementing some life changes. My diet improved, I started cooking more and drinking less, and making adult decisions like understanding that I didn’t need to attend everything that I was invited to. It’s okay to get some rest and recharge sometimes.

I have always done yoga and prayed, but I really wanted to figure out how to meditate properly. When I lived in Brooklyn I took yoga at Sacred, where lots of dope women of color instructors would end the class with a meditation, but I never felt like I fully grasped it. I always did the Oprah & Deepak Chopra meditation challenges, but I would be thinking about everything from my next meal, to my to-do list. I finally went on a meditation retreat in Panama last year, organized by guru Light Watkins and he taught me that the goal is to quiet the mind but it’s ok if other thoughts come up during your meditation. Now I meditate twice a day. I also try to have sage and/or palo santo burning in my space when things get too cray.

I meditate for 20 minutes when I first wake up and 20 minutes at around 2pm. It’s tempting to immediately wake up and grab your phone to check to see what you’ve missed in this crazy world (especially now for me being 3 hrs behind on the west coast, I always feel like I’m the last to know the madness). Meditating before I do anything prepares me to deal with whatever crazy news is on my phone. Same with my work day – that 20 minutes breaks up the busy and stressful days. I have also been so much clearer and discerning since taking the time to get quiet daily.

I live near a beautiful lake that calms me and I walk along a portion of it on my route home sometimes, but really want to start the days that I work from home with a walk around the entire lake, which is 3 miles total. I need the sunshine, the exercise and the nature. I’m also still seeking the right hot yoga studio, but in the meantime I try to do a sauna, steam or bath house whenever possible. Sweating it out and healing waters are some of my all time favorite things.”

Follow Erica jetset around the world @escape_art.

Meet Nzingah.

Nzingah Oniwosan is a social entrepreneur and holistic health consultant living in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

“I had a major anxiety attack and was going to a counselor at that the time. We felt that an intentional self-care practice was crucial for me to deal with my daily stressors as an entrepreneur as well as the trauma that led me to seek counseling.

Now, I usually put myself in timeout when I am overwhelmed. I give myself a minimum 10-20 minutes to connect inward and remove myself from external distractors (social media, phone, internet, etc.) In this time, I practice breathing exercises, journal, meditate, or practice yoga which allows me to include the breathing and meditation. It helps me reduce the internal anxiety I may be feeling. It is almost a reset to give me a clear mind to go on with my day. I have been practicing this consistently for 6 years.

I also love to use aromatherapy. I diffuse different essential oils to support whatever mood I want to achieve. I love lavender. Sometimes I take myself on dates, it is not always in outing. I give myself breakfast in bed and 5 course candlelight dinners.

However, yoga has been the most critical. It has helped me to practice mindfulness and allowed my to reduce my stress significantly. Most importantly has really assisted me to have a regimented self-care practice.

I had a major anxiety attack and was going to a counselor at that the time. We felt that an intentional self-care practice was crucial for me to deal with my daily stressors as an entrepreneur as well as the trauma I was seeking counseling for.

Self-care is important to me because I have an autoimmune disorder that I have been able to keep in remission through holistic lifestyle change. If I’m stressed out even when I’m eating well it can send my autoimmune disorder out of remission. I am in business of giving of myself and I pour a lot out, which also means I get depleted. My personal self care practice is a means to restore and balance.”

You can follow Nzingah’s vegan adventure @yesbabyilikeitraw on IG.

Meet Marcus.

“Marcus Paul is an image and creative consultant living in Brooklyn, NY.

I invest in myself by practicing Kyokushin karate 2-3 times a week. It provides a spiritual and physical balance for me. I started to fully commit to a workout regiment about 2 years ago. I have also known that self-care was important, but I would go hard for a few months and then fall off. Now I am more disciplined. I travel on average about 30 percent of the time and it is hard to keep up when I am away. I do some stretching exercises when I am away.

I also unwind by treating myself to a spa massage and, of course, retail therapy. I have my eye on pieces from Casely-Hayford, a father-son duo out of London and Wales Bonner.

Find what centers you and make it a habit.”

Follow Marcus @marcuspaulstyle on IG.

– Jo-Ann Enwezor