Friday, February 24, 2012

Week 8 of the 52 week Financial Challenge

picture via

Just because I am not posting every week doesnt mean that I am not thinking about you and I saving a little. So dig in your pocket and get your $8 out. 

We should have $36 saved as of week 8.

In 52 weeks you can save $1378 by saving money each week. All you need to do is save the same amount as the week you are on.

Week 1= $1
Week 2=$2 
So on and so forth. 

Feel free to add more to your savings but please addthe minimum. At the end of this challenge do what you like with the money; vacation, IRA, Saving, down payment of a car or home project. 

Talking with Nicole Updegraff, Owner of Cotton Candy Playground

A Little about Cotton Candy Playground,
Cotton Candy Playground is a multi-faceted collection of children's books, stationery, and apparel focused on self love and acceptance. 
It is more than a brand, it is a celebration of diversity and individuality-- a representation of ALL of us! Whether you are reading it, writing it, or wearing it, the message is the same; I LOVE me! and that's all that matters!
Our little talk, 
I was very excited when I found your book. About a year ago, my twin girls came home and said they wanted yellow straight hair. At that moment, I realized that I needed to celebrate the curls that they had. That was the moment that I decided that I wanted to wear my natural hair so that they can see that mommy had curly hair like their beautiful hair.  To find a book that is similar to my story was amazing.

So Nicole, please tell us a little about yourself.

This question is always tricky because there is so much more to people than what they can give you in a two sentence nugget... But here goes :). I'm a married mother of 3 w/ one in the oven.  I'm a former athlete who loves competition. I love good people, good food, and all things artistic. Oh, and if you're playing Dominoes or Taboo you want me on your team, lol.

hat was your inspiration to write, I Love My Cotton Candy Hair?

3 years ago, when my oldest daughter was 3 and a half, she can home from a play date crying and saying she wanted her hair to be straight and yellow. I figured there would come a time where my girls, like everyone, would struggle with insecurity but I never imagined it would begin so soon. It was heartbreaking! My husband and I started looking for books, not necessarily about hair, but about self love and acceptance but we had trouble finding them for 3 year olds. After about a year of searching I took matters into my own hands.

 How long did it take you to write and illustrate this book?
I LOVE my Cotton Candy Hair! (A girl named Charlie presents...)

It didn't take long at all to write the story but, because I try my best to do all my work when my cildren are asleep, the illustrations took a few months. I would say it took me about 4-6 months from inception to print.

 Did you have any experience in writing and illustration?

I've always been able to express myself well on paper but it was never anything i sought to do professionally until,  "I LOVE my Cotton Candy Hair!" Illustrating also just sort of fell into my lap. I started painting for fun after I graduated college and realized I was pretty good at it but again, I never anticipated on doing this for a living, it's just sort of worked out that way :).

 How does Charlie feel about being a part of such a great book?

She loves it! The most exciting thing for her is just being able to see herself reflected in this story. For all children, positive imagery is so important. She knows that the book is very special and she's seen feedback I've received from kids, parents and teachers telling me the impact this story has had, but she just turned 7 so I'm not sure she gets how big that is.

 There aren’t many books that encourage brown girls (we come in many different colors and ethnicities), were you afraid to take that leap?

Not at all. Once I realized how little there was out there, it just made me want to act on it that much more. It might have been daunting if I was writing for teenagers or adolescents... But for very young children less is more and positive imagery is really all you need.

 What advices to do you have for someone wanting to write a c book celebrating the skin they are in?

My advice for people writing anything would be that it has to be authentic. People can tell if something is coming from your heart or if it's just a bunch of fluff, even in a picture book written for 3yr olds :). For me, I thought about how I wanted my daughter to feel about herself and I put it down on paper. If you're writing about something as personal as the importance of loving and being able to celebrate who you are, and you've struggled with that, think about what you wish someone would've told you. You can't go wrong.

 When should we expect the next book in your series?

That's tough. Hopefully it will be this year. I am a self published author and because I finance, promote and market my own projects I have to be patient and make sure everything is in place. I wish I could release it now but there's still work to be done with "I LOVE my Cotton Candy Hair!" I can't begin working to push a second project when this first one still has so far to go. 

  Lastly, where can we find your book and merchandise? Yes, Nikki also has stationary and apparel. It is beautiful!

Thank you! I am so excited about the stationery and apparel lines. You can find all the goodies I have to offer at

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meet Ms. Toni Daley, Youtube Guru and Business Owner

Toni, please tell us a little about yourself.
-I was born, raised and live in Toronto, Canada.  An artist and natural hair enthusiast!  I've gone through a plethora of hairstyles in my day but have been natural for about the last 5 years and have been loving every minute of it.  I became really passionate and completely obsessed with it!  It lead me to start a youtube channel dedicated to offering haircare and styling tips and encouraging other women to rock the hair they have.  It's been one of the best decisions for my confidence and my pocketbook!  It's also opened the door to meet a lot of great people.

What is your inspiration to draw? You are very talented and I feel inspired every time I see your work.
-I gain inspiration from a lot of things...people, places, scenery.  I think since finding a passion for natural hair though, it has really taken the spotlight in the subject of my work.

Purple Haze- Rights owned by Ms. Toni Daley
When did you open your Webstore? What is the name of your store?
-I've been selling my artwork online for a number of years through different photo sharing sites such as fotki and flickr.  When I started creating accessories, I then moved on to Etsy which is a website dedicated to handmade goods.  Late last year I decided to launch my own website under my name and really build my brand.

When did you realize that you were an artist?
-I've always loved creating artwork but I think I decided I was an artist in my mid teens.  I was about 16 or 17 when I started entering art competitions and really sharing my art on more of a public platform.

Besides your awesome artwork, your store offers beautiful earrings. Was your love for earrings your motivation to create your earrings?
Blue & Gold Spiked!
-Yes!  I'm an earring fanatic!  I buy earrings constantly and because of my growing collection I'm always on the hunt for really unique pieces.  A couple of years ago I was simply searching for a specific design.  I couldn't find exactly what I wanted anywhere!  When I did find something relatively close it was $40.  That's when I decided to create my own.  I got so many compliments and re-created them for friends and friends of friends.  From there I decided to add unique earrings at reasonable prices to my online store.

What motivate your earring styles?
-It's gotta look hot! It's gotta stand out and be unique!  If I won't wear it, I won't sell it.

When I contacted you, you stated that you are passionate about uplifting and inspiring black women. I believe that is wonderful since we underrepresented in the business world.   What are some of the ways that you do like to motivate and encourage? 
-It saddens me sometimes at the lack of support we are willing to show each other.  That success is seen as a negative.  It's ok for a sister to be doing doesn't mean she's doesn't mean she's a bad person or had to step on people to get where she is.  We are allowed to succeed and we are allowed to be happy for each other!  I try to spread that message on my youtube channel.  I like to feature other black female entrepreneurs that I shop with not only to spread support for their product or service but to spread the message of support within our community.  If we don't support one another.....why should anyone else?

What is the hardest part about being a business owner?
-The hardest part for me right now as a small business owner is juggling my full time job and my business.  It's hard to find time to unwind when you work your 8 hours for someone else and then put in another 8 for yourself.  You've got to be passionate about what your have to enjoy it.

Since some may know you for your natural hair? How long have you been natural? 
I stopped relaxing my hair about 7 years ago due to extensive damage that I inflicted on myself from an at home relaxer.  I didn't know what to do when I could no longer relax my hair so I wore braids.  I loved the braided styles a lot and actually wore them for 2 years!  When I stopped wearing the braids, I was literally shocked by what was left on my head.  I'd never actually dealt....or seen for that matter my hair natural texture in all it's glory.  I fell in love with it and have been rocking it ever since.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to open a store and sell their artwork?
My advice would be to find your passion.  When you pour your heart and soul into your work others will take notice.  I've been creating art since I was a kid but my artwork only started getting noticed recently.  Why?  because now my art reflects my when people buy my work they are buying a piece of me.  It's a great feeling :)

What is next for Ms. Toni?
Well, I'm kinda liking what I'm doing right I think i'll just keep it up.  Keep working on improving my art, keep designing unique accessories, and keep encouraging my natural hair ladies.  I'm addicted to the natural hair youtube community but I decided this year to start paying a little more attention to my blog for those who may not get the time to watch videos as often.

Lastly, where can we find you and your merchandise?  

Thanks again for the opportunity to share with your readers!


A few updates

Hey Fam,

Sorry its been so long since I last checked in. I had so much on my plate that I didnt really feel like talking. First, I had a health scare (I will blog about that in a little), Then I had to clep and take my last class towards degree (I'm finished), and think I was just a little stressed.

I think I am back and ready to pick up and go. I hope you still riding with me. I still will like to introduce you to some wonderful business people, talk you about financial freedom, and even fulfill some hair and make up request. I cant forget I will be talking to you a little more about my health and fitness.

I am even thinking about incorporating my youtube with my blog. I think I dropped off the face of the web with that one. LOL!!!

So expect a few post today.

Talk to you soon,