Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The 2 Middle Fingers I Get to Put Up:Honor to The 5 Deaths of 2015

You are probably thinking what kind of title is this for a post on a business blog. Or, how is this going to be uplifting? If this is your first time interacting with me, then you must know I do not separate who I am from what I do, and, my message always ends with encouragement for the person who needs it. I confront women as I confront myself - wholistically. No amount of material success will generate wholeness. Therefore, that is not the platform on which I stand to encourage success in business.

What I am about to share is personal, but, I am willing to be transparent and vulnerable to help another woman committed to living her wholeness.

This year, five deaths shifted my life as I knew it.

A Mother of 5 Sons - A beautiful light who began shining in my life in 1998. Although we were not joined at the hip, moments of showing up when one of us needed it, genuine respect, and woman-to-woman encouragement were the elements that made our friendship bloom. Expressing my admiration for her renaissance woman soul, the strength and know-how to find solutions in challenging life situations, and her amazing ability to raise five brilliantly solid "black" boys, never had a problem with flowing from my lips to anyone's ears. (As I type these words, I see why our beings connected.) She called me early one morning when one of her sons went missing. Without hesitation, I became present in whatever she needed me to do. After receiving the update about him being safely at home, I could no longer reach her. That was odd. That was not like her. I knew something was not right.

Sitting in silence, I cried after learning that soon after our last interaction with each other, she had a stroke and was in a coma for about a year. She died.              

The Refined Guayanesse Woman - We met on Facebook. Never having the opportunity to meet in person, she allowed me to get to learn about the girl she was and the woman she became through her book, and we both opened up more during our warm-tone phone conversations. She was an older woman (maybe 15 years older than me) with a matter-of-fact yet empathetic demeanor. To be called on when creations were needed for guests at her events, always gave me a good feeling.

She was always purprosely moving forward in her life. Never once displaying a vain ego. Visiting her Facbook profile, one day, to see where support was needed - it was the postings from others that told me about her death. Building a friendship with someone you meet on social media is rare. I was sad.

The Young Man, The Artist - I was a teen, he was a baby boy, and it was my responsibility to comfort and care for him when his parents needed me to. I proudly did so (for more than 3 years) His mother always mentioned how calm he remained in my presence. The family moved. Years passed.

My heart was broken when I discovered the police found his body in the bay in Virginia. The funeral brochure contained his artwork (drawings). I never knew that talent was a part of him. I kept the program on a downstairs table, in a place where I could always see his beautiful smile, until I knew it was time to put it away - in a special place.

My Parent - This one is difficult to share. Let's see.... It was the last game of the NBA Finals. While Curry rejoiced and James showed disappointment, I said to myself that life will always mean something different to all three of us on that date.

Someone told me that they would be out of their mind if their parent died, and asked why wasn't I. I explained that physical death is a part of a physical life, and that while my parent was living I honored them. So although sad, I knew the life I lived with them. Two years before the death, I found myself waking up in a mourning state many times. The first time I woke up crying, I wanted to deny it - this shift wasn't coming (not right now anyway). I thought maybe I could convince myself that it was just a dream...But I knew better. What comes to me in my sleep is never frivolous. Then a year later when my parent uttered from their mouth a resolve of their physical life coming to an end.... As I mentioned, I honored my parent even before knowing about death, shift was pushing me to do so even more within that amount of time. I obeyed.

A More Than A Two Decade Friendship - Speaking of another shift that I saw on the horizon. In fact, one day, three years ago, I was having lunch with another woman who wanted my perspective on a life situation. After talking she asked if I ever experienced what she was going through. I told her no, but that I feel a similar shift coming. When asked what was I going to do. "Let it happen."

(To share a perspective on how to support women in their endeavors,  I plan to share more about this shift in another post.)

Although not a physical death, I mourned for this loss as if it was. Detachment should not be feared. Shift, in many ways, comes to help growth. But being human, I still tried to nudge it away or postpone it. Why? Because I loved love her. I remained present, showed admiration, and still wanted her to know that I was there, by making her a priority. Reflecting, I made sure that I did everything that I was obligated to do to keep the friendship viable. I did not want to be that woman - the one who leaves behind friendships with women, even when nothing offensive has taken place - leaving them to deal with their own emotions. But what kills relationships? Lack of communication. I could no longer accept the cordial text messages as reciprocation.

Acceptance. Aching soul. Tears. Angry. Sadness. Release. It's done.


I share the deaths that I experienced this year, because as women, it's the interpersonal relationships we form that shifts in ways we do not imagine that burdens us. I've observed that we lose motivation in almost all aspects of our lives. Be it a shift in an intimate relationship with a man, or the ending of a friendship with a sisterfriend, there's a tendency to allow the emotion that is needed for healing to turn into the stumbling block called emotionalism. Thus leading to not trusting others. Thus not being able to trust self. Thus hindering purpose.

I do not go around putting up my middle fingers; however, I truly understand the aggression that releases from that gesture. And that aggression is what liberated me from the sadness and heartbreak, when I was ready to come out from under. I refused to lose motivation. I refused to be tethered to the negative emotion from the last death, because I create for women and I only need (and want) them to feel joy when using my products. What did I do? I chose the affirmative, the positive, the absolute - four of those people supported me in my entrepreneurial journey. For that, I honor them ALL.

Death moves us in either of two ways: 1) Stop and get stuck; 2) Fight harder. The latter is necessary although not easy. Your purpose is counting on you.

Your Turn: Has death (physical or figurative) moved you in a favorable or unfavorable way? Check the boxes below to share what you think about this post.

Be Whole,

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Meme That Might Get "Black" People To Buy Black (I Hope Not)

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Arthur Ward

Smell Gooders, I am taking this time to share how much you really matter to Smell Good Spa™.

Every year our annual sale is a success, but this year was different. This year, our annual sale was a huge success! One year ago, the decision to make full-size and sample-size bath and body products seasonal (for retail shoppers) was implemented. That was not an easy decision for us to make, but it was the right one. We were able to successfully focus on wholesale accounts and consumers interested in bulk personal care items. However, during the out of stock periods for our retail shoppers, I received many emails and phone calls inquiring about the next Pop-Up Event. You missed our wholesome products. Many of our customers were noticing the adverse affect their skin was experiencing due to running out of wholesome goods. Our creations work. And although I felt empathy towards those customers, equally, I felt even more confident in knowing that they too know that there is depth in what I offer. So, this year, after many postings and reminders, our customers did not hesitate to stock up. Thank you.

We care about you, your voice matters, and providing a live good, feel good, smell good experience all year long is highly important. So guess what, Smell Gooders? For you to have what you need when you need it, we are making all Samples available! No more bad-skin days while waiting for that Out of Stock notice to come down.

"Itiel, why did you make the bath and body products available only 3 times a year?"

During those phone calls, I could always sense that question wanting to come out of the caller's mouth.

Here's the thing. Our products that you use on your body are created only with the highest grade of ingredients (eco-cert, wild-crafted, cold pressed....). The names on those labels are not for label-appeal. And as I stated up top - people noticed. Anytime you are in business, your purpose should go beyond money, and if my purpose stopped at money, inferior ingredients could have been substituted years back (maintaining the same price points). I know consumers do not always know this, but, I believe consumers who are willing to have understanding can conclude that massed produced hair care and body care products are not solely manufactured with superior ingredients. I digress. The decision was made because of consumers' buying patterns. Not just with SGS, but with other micro-businesses as well (many who closed their door, not being able to find a way). Might I add not just any consumer, not just any micro-business....

This is where you can decide if you want to continue reading or not.  Blistering honesty ahead...

I'll hit the return button a few times while you're deciding.

...but "black" consumers and "black"micro-businesses.

This post is not about scolding, but to show "black" consumers how imperative they are to the survival of their community. Really, it is that serious.

I like to continue with words from Maggie Anderson.

1.7, 1.8, 1.9. Keep those numbers close. Those numbers are very, very, important. Those numbers come from my "Thursday Thought". Here we go...

There are 1.9 million Black owned businesses in this country. There are just over 1.9 million unemployed Black Americans. Simple math right? If each of those businesses hire one more person, we can cure unemployment! How awesome is that? But 1.8 million of those businesses only have one employee. We only have 108,000 businesses creating jobs. 

And Black businesses have always been, are, and will for a long time be, the greatest employer of Black people... as well as, I dare say, the greatest reservoir of local role models. 

1.9 and 1.8. So what is the 1.7? 

Only 1.7% of the $23 billion available in loan money from the small business administration goes to Black-owned businesses. That is the opposite of awesome.

(If you are not disillusioned with conscientious support being the catalyst for change and growth, then that is something for you to ponder on.) 

I agree. That is the opposite of awesome. So how do owners of "black" owned businesses survive without the capital that other businesses receive? With the help of the "black" consumer. It is just that simple and easy. But yet, not so. It is not in our programming. 

But what is in our programming is boycotting places like Wal-Mart, for one day, yet to return again the next (paying full price). I read a blog post the other day mentioning how the Boycott Black Friday movement being pushed on social media is an awful idea. The writer believes, that "black" consumers will be right back in those stores buying goods that could have been sought after within their community, virtually and locally. 

On Instagram, a "black" consumer posted this meme: I don't know why black business owners are always talking about 'buy black' when most of the stuff in the store comes from white companies

I'll leave that right there. Let that digest. 

I don't like these dissensions, but they can't be ignored. 

Speaking of memes. You probably noticed that as a "black" business owner I do not post 'buy black' memes of any kind. Memes are not my voice. The large part of who I am operates from realism. I see the issue, I become introspective, I become the difference, and I create and serve in that/my truth. The black-commerce issue is way bigger than "black" consumers just not supporting "black" merchants. If it was not, how else could "black" consumers spend 1.1 trillion dollars, and 1.8 million black-owned businesses experience a daily struggle?

For the majority of "black" consumers, no meme will ignite the fire to spend a large portion of their income with black-owned businesses. (I'm not talking about purchasing a product created by a "black" merchant in a conglomerate. That doesn't help the community, if that's your goal.)

Amongst the dozens and dozens of memes posted daily, I hope a meme like this will not be the wake up.....

Again, this is where you can decide if you want to stop reading.

I'll hit the return button a few times while you're deciding.

I know. It cuts, right? The sky is blue.

(If you are not disillusioned with conscientious support being the catalyst for change and growth, then that is something for you to ponder on.)

Before Grace Lee Boggs died, an interviewer asked her thoughts about Ferguson and other recent civil rights uprisings. She stated that she was sadden by it, after all the years of fighting for civil rights - the only way the "black" community will show power is coming together economically. 

All that I have shared here comes from a place of peace. 

I love whom I serve, and I hope to always serve them. I could not do it without you, and I would not want to either. My Smell Gooders. 

YOU matter. 

Be whole,

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#swoon Your Favs Pop Up in 5 Days

In just 5 days, your handcrafted favorites will be in stock. This year's annual sale runs for two weeks, not just for one day. We hope this helps you to stock up on your needs. Once this event is over, all full-size product will be out of stock.

All Smell Gooders on our list will receive those special offers. A newsletter is scheduled to enter your inbox today (10/28) at 4 PM ET. If you do not receive the newsletter, let us know here or here.

Not on our list? Share your email address and I'll gladly add you to the list, or, visit the website to signup. Otherwise, you are welcome to purchase our artisanal bath and body products until the 16th.

Share with your friends and family. Thanks!

We'll see you there.


Monday, July 13, 2015

6 Body Care Must-Haves For Summer

Here are five words that our loyal Smell Gooders have been waiting for. 

It. Is. Back. In. Stock.

Smell Good Spa's Summer Pop-Up Shop Image
Click Here, Smell Gooders!

To all Followers and Fans, you are welcome to come be a part of this summer event. 

And while you are shopping, don't forget about the care your skin needs during these hot summer days.  

These are my personal favorite products to use in the summer. You can ask me more about them in the comments, or, find these must-haves on the website.

Smell Good Spa's 6 Summer Essentials Image
Stock Up Here

Looking forward to creating for you and serving you.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

The 1 Effective Product I Won't Make For You this Summer

Shoo 17, the most email-inquired, "When are you going to make it? I love that stuff! It works!", highly effective insect repellant, will not be stirred up and poured for you this summer. I know... sigh. 

For several summers, I have enjoyed providing this organic (and it is truly organic) product to my customers. For those who attract vampire-insects magnetically, it is their kryptonite against such pest. Shoo 17 works because of the potpourri of 17 essential oils that warns insects to stay away. It also doubles as an after-bite spray. So, even if prevention slipped the mind before heading outdoors, the ingredients quickly help in aiding the infected area. Shoo 17 is truly a summer must-have; An essential product for anyone in a location with biting insects.

"Why Not?"

A few days ago, I went online to purchase the essential oil from my herbalist and I could not find it. A little anxious, I gave her a call, and this is the news I received: 'I'm sorry. We are no longer carrying that blend. Too many complaints about skin sensitivity and irritations. In fact, we are discontinuing all essential oils.' Wait. What? I thought about Shoo 17. I thought about all the customers who inquired about its return, and were waiting for it. I thought about the shoppers who might just get the chance to try a truly organic insect repellant this summer. I really wanted to beg her to bring the essential oil blend back, but instead I said, "I understand", and hung up the phone. Because I really do understand.

The 'skin sensitivity and irritations' aren't due to an inferior product. In many cases, it is because of the lack of education that many consumers possess, and that many merchants and creators of bath & body products are not offering. Essential oils have been used wisely for centuries, but with the gradual commercial fanfare and many companies using label appeal, I understand why consumers are clearing the shelves, and seeking distributors who sell them. I understand, but, I don't agree with it. Almost everyone has the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding about how to care for their body. 

Consumers need to know & merchants/creators/distributors should share:

  • Essential oils should always be used with a carrier oil. Many skin irritations occur from applying the essential oil directly to the skin from the bottle; not enough carrier oil is used, or, the wrong carrier oil is used (even when creating a product); the ratio of the essential oil exceeds the carrier oil.
  • Not all essential oils are for babies or children. It is recommended that many essential oils should not be used on children under the age of 13. 
  • Consumers should consult a physician about adding essential oils to their health regimen, especially if one is pregnant, has high blood pressure or epilepsy. 
  • There are very few essential oils that can be used in the bath, especially if epsom salt or Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) are being used (both are transdermal)
  • Dilute Dilute Dilute

To all of the creators and suppliers who are reading this: I know and I hear you. No matter how much information we provide, we cannot be in the homes of consumers. If you are doing your part, continue. For those suppliers and creators who cater to fanfare and label appeal, you are making it a challenge for us who do care about consumers and their families. 

This supplier has served me for almost 10 years. As I seek out another domestic supplier, I'm hoping that I will find another superior product, so that I can bring back Shoo 17.

If you're wondering why 17 randomly selected essential oils can't be used to make this product, please educate yourself on essential oils. 

Be Whole,


Monday, June 1, 2015

Happy National Fragrance Week 2015!

It's time to celebrate all things that smell good. Would you like to do that all week? Here's how you can... Visit your aromatic haven for these olfactory special offers. Enjoy!

live good.feel good.smell good.™

Ladies, our sister brand adds look good to that tag phrase. 

Wear Love Everyday™~xo


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Smell Good Spa™ Has a Little Sister

When my second-born daughter came into the world, her sister was present to welcome her. Up in her daddy's arms, and only 15 months old, with a gleam in her eyes she uttered the most heartfelt word, 'Baby'. She said it with a knowing - and lying there I felt her knowing. It was love at first sight for my first-born. Which was noticeable when the doctors took Baby out of the room, 'Baby leaving?' She wanted to go with Baby. At home, when second-born would cry, first-born rushed ahead of me - Baby crying. Shh, it's okay. The love she gave to Baby, Baby reciprocated - even to this day.

I watched that relationship blossom. As toddlers, when playing with friends, first-born would pause to go check to see if second-born was OK. It didn't matter if mommy or daddy were present, she took this role on without being instructed. Today, now young ladies, the friendship that has been cultivated is something to admire. And I do. I sit admiring their giggles, their own language, the support of each other, the gentle reminders of parental instructions from first-born to second-born, second-born keeping big sis in line, the act of resolving conflict without mommy or daddy stepping in, and just the overall respect they have for each other. Beautiful.

I remind them that this is 1 of the 3 most important interpersonal relationships they will have in their life. This relationship will set the tone for how you treat others, and how you will allow others to treat you. 

Smell Good Spa™ has a little sister. And this first-born welcomes her into the world with nothing but guidance, support, and honest love. She is ready to show off the new addition, and has even invited friends that have supported her to partner up with her little sister. Because paving the way is what first-borns do.

What do little sisters do? They imitate what they see. Just like Smell Good Spa™,  360Love Apparel™ is committed to the women living their wholeness.

Sisters need each other. Welcome to 360Love Apparel™

Be Whole,

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How to Make Your Other Senses Jealous

Palpability. The one word that came to mind when creating the Sparkling Collection. With great desire, I hope our female customers' femininity will be palpable to all who come in contact with them, when wearing the fragrances from this collection. 


Last year, after enjoying a beverage from Strongbow®, I immediately jotted down several aromatic notes that came to mind with each swallow. Not all of the created blends made the cut, however, the gems that did, caused a bit of trouble with the other senses.  

I presented a sniff test to my team. Initially, they expressed, "mmmm" and "ahhh" and "ohhhh" (because of the body glitter infusion) with great delight, and were ready to start rolling the ball across their skin. Then something happened - 'Wow, the back of my mouth feels like I just had a soda or something like cider!' Giggles. And a few swallows of the saliva that watered the mouth. 

Olfactory senses cannot be ignored. The other senses seemed to be getting a bit jealous. The sense of taste was curious about the taste of the sparkling notes; The sense of touch wondered about that bubbly-upper-lip sensation; The sense of hearing anticipated the sound of a cork popping. The Sparkling Collection is truly a party for your nose.

Introducing: Sparkling Monoï, Sparkling Pear, Sparkling Pear &; Freesia, Sparkling Plum, Sparkling Papaya, and Sparkling Honey Apple

Learn more about the Sparkling Collection here


Friday, April 10, 2015

Wait. "Skinny" Has an Odor Too. Right?

Do you live by the assumption that people with more body weight carry an odor?  Who would assume such a thing?  You.  Me.  Maybe?  Most certainly,  the 175 college students who participated in a recent study. 

My interest in olfactory information lead someone to send me a link to this very interesting article and study: Body Weight Bias Extends to Sense of Smell, Study Finds

The sixth full paragraph caught my attention. So much so, I had to read it three times (once out loud). It begins with Once again.

Olfaction is a formidable sense.  It comforts us, protects us, and serves us well with everything else in between.  It puts markers in our brain and the memory is seared in such a way, that at times a smell is present even when there isn't one. People can be so turned off by obese individuals that they actually imagine a bad smell, according to a new study. The beginning of the article states exactly what was used as scent samples.  Wait for it.... Yup. 

Odor is present on people of all sizes.  But why are the assumptions so strong towards obese people?  It is all negative bias, or an individual's experience that the brain holds on to?

Be whole,

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

{Part 2} It Takes a Village to Raise a Woman Entrepreneur - Let's Get Gritty

"Success as an entrepreneur involves making and constantly re-committing to the decision to stay the course. It is about an acceptance of success as a process, and not a specific end-result. Of course, results matter in business, but since results can only be influenced, and not guaranteed, entrepreneurs must look to process, not result, as a prime opportunity to align with their desired results." -Akilah S. Richards

I don't know about you, but some days being an entrepreneur can make me long for a subconscious familiar place - my mother's womb. When those did-not-work results rise to the surface of my skin, it's those days that the fetal position consoles me from within. And although physically I cannot return, it helps to allow myself that meditative thought. I emerge with new ideas, repurpose ideas, and the knowing that I've never been afraid to trust the process. I often think that uncertainty of the process is because of the familiarity of what-can-go-wrong. But I progress on my journey with the understanding that I did not have a hand in the process of arriving through the matrix of my mother. Let go and look to the process. 

Saturday Night
This past Saturday night while enjoying my late night with King T., I decided to go online to look into getting some more candles.  I visited the website of a micro-business that I've purchased from before. To my jaw-drop surprise, they closed their virtual doors.  Being a woman-ran business, producing beautifully scented candles, very good branding, and phenomenal customer interaction are the reasons I gave my support to this business. 

I'm sure there are several reasons for the closing (they gave a general statement). When the process starts to become uncertain.... I'm familiar with those reasons.....

Earlier Last Year
I wanted to give more. I wanted more for myself. I wanted more for my children. I put the business expectations aside, decided to continue to live and thrive from my holistic-entrepreneur approach. Decided to be more in what I love. TRUSTING THE PROCESS. More.

I opened this post with words from someone I truly have (Dare I admit it?) an endearment for. I'm not sure if Akilah lives in my headspace, but she always manages to pop up with nourishment for my thoughts. Akilah posted on LinkedIn about The Importance of Tenacity. She shared an inspiring quote from Amelia Earhart, and her personal story about Dr. Lonnie Johnson (also inspiring).  OK, you got me, is what I thought when reading to the end of her post. Akilah reminded me of the places that for the longest I've operated from, and to never forget it.  Yes, Akilah, because I am emotionally invested in my work, things get tough, but my imperfect self cherishes the practice. 

Grab yourself a dose of Akilah-inspired words here

October 2014
So I came back from my annual break. Ready. And as you know, when I make a decision, I trust it. I knew that in order to continue to provide quality products with superior ingredients to my customers and shoppers, I had to do a business shift. I sat down with my husband and spoke the words that I only thought about.  It's amazing the clarity that comes when words are said out loud. I was always hesitant about what I knew I needed to do, what the process was calling me to do, but in that moment of disclosing it to the one I trust the most it all became clear. 

It was time for me to move forward in my business-to-business endeavor with women entrepreneurs everywhere, not just via email (it worked successfully for a time, but it was just within my network). Furthermore, to (continue to) neglect/ignore/not acknowledging the buying patterns of shoppers would be a downfall in business that could've been prevented, jeopardizing our virtual doors being closed (setting back other endeavors on the horizon). 

After the annual sale in November the shift was made. Select products were made available to retail shoppers during certain times of the year.  I articulated my decision to Ivy, a collaboration partner (She's another woman entrepreneur that I am becoming fond of. We have great synergy.), and she reminded me of the buzz term Pop-Up Shop. I like it, because it defines the shift exactly. Thanks, Ivy.  

So just like the grittiness from sand that removes dead skin to allow new skin, it will always take the grit that has made its way into me to endure on this journey of entrepreneurship.  All while being encouraged by other women entrepreneurs, encouraging other women entrepreneurs, and of course looking to the process. 

What does your today look like? Do you have grit like sand? Are you looking to the process?

Thank you for reading. 

Be Whole,
P.S. Online Pop-Up Shop in 2 weeks. Get the deets.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It Takes a Village to Raise a Woman Entrepreneur

“Bloom where you are planted and sow where you are fed...” 
-Stella Payton

2015 is turning out to be an auspicious year.  Right before exiting 2014, requests to collaborate in the coming year were entering my inbox, from women in my network. After several years of planting, nurturing and weeding, I am pleased with the harvest. Each year the bounty increases and the fruit is sweeter. Mind you, I do not have a super-large network of women, however, as each of us grow in our respected area of business, we are able to add more value to each other.  

I am looking forward to helping women commit to their wholeness, through the sense of smell. This year, Smell Good Spa™ has partnered with A Woman’s Worth Conference (AWWC) by becoming a sponsor for this year’s event.  AWWC is not only a conference, it is also a celebration of women. If you are planning to attend, look for your gift. xo

You can learn more about A Woman’s Worth Conference and purchase your (and a girlfriend’s) tickets here.

Be Whole,