When It's Okay to Have a Meeting Without a Set Agenda

With the never-ending workday seeping into every corner of our lives it is essential now more than ever to guard our time. No one wants to skip out on hanging out with their family and friends to have yet another generic meetup that leads nowhere. Think about the times have you’ve cringed at someone asking to ‘pick your brain’ over a cup of coffee or been annoyed after a forty-five-minute conference room debacle that an email could solve. Despite our burning desires to get to the point already, there are a few occasions where it is appropriate to have a meeting without an agenda. We’ve listed them below.

When There’s Something You Can Learn

A successful entrepreneur is a well-rounded entrepreneur. Meeting with people in different industries or who have a different skill set from your own can provide you with valuable information that can prove useful later in your journey. So, consider meeting that interesting person who reached out to you on LinkedIn, they might know something you don’t.

When There’s A Connection You Can Make

People appreciate people who know how to be of service to them. They might not remember exactly when you helped them out, but they will remember that you did. Taking a few minutes to talk to someone might result in you getting the chance to refer them to some people in your network, and you may walk away with a few new contacts of your own.

When There’s A Common Problem You Can Solve

Small business owners often run across similar problems. You might not be the only one encountering roadblocks unique to your area or industry. A general discussion with someone else pursuing their dreams can lead to you having a partner with whom you can advocate for change.

When There’s Resources You Can Share

Strategic partnerships aren’t just for larger firms. Partner with fellow entrepreneurs that compliment your business. These events can include pop-up shops, limited collections, seminars, etc. Sharing resources may require less capital investment and can potentially give you access to a new customer base.

Editor's Note: When partnering, be sure to set expectations, outline responsibilities, use NDA and contracts to protect all parties.

When There’s Fun You Can Have

Not everyone is meant to do business together. You might not be able to work with every person who reaches out to you but if you have similar interests and you think they’re a cool person, take the risk and get to know them. You might make a new friend who can support and even inspire you when you’re off the clock.

15 Black Owned Beauty Brands To Shop at Walmart and Target

As culturally clueless executives in skyscrapers try to figure out why people lack an interest in Adam Levine’s nipples, some corporations are actually listening to consumers and expanding their offerings from Black product manufacturers. Target and Walmart have been intentionally giving Black entrepreneurs a platform to grow the sales of their products and engage with a broader variety of consumers. The retailers have been carrying a wider range of natural hair products from Black entrepreneurs for years, but they have expanded their offerings to include makeup, skin care, and other health and wellness options. Here are 15 of our favorites.

Hair Care

Mielle Organics By Monique Rodriguez


The brand has gone out of its way to offer quality products to women with all hair textures. They have a rosemary infused collection that is exclusively available in Target stores. Try their mint almond oil to seal the end of your strands or their pomegranate honey leave-in conditioner as your new favorite everyday product.

Camille Rose Naturals By Janell Stephens


Born out of a mother’s commitment to creating a clean household for her children Camille Rose Naturals is super selective about their ingredients. Recently they’ve put a new spin on an old standby by offering a healthier version of cholesterol treatments.

Girl + Hair by Dr. Camille Verovic


Dr. Camille Verovic developed these products to address the breakage happening beyond the edges of frontals. This line of dedicated under care products are designed to cleanse, restore, and nourish your hair before, during, and after protective styling. Try their clarifying rinse. It includes rice water, the ingredient over which all your favorite YouTubers are going nuts.

Oyin by Jamyla Bennu


Oyin, Yoruba for the word honey, has been committed to using food-grade ingredients since their inception in 2001. Oyin customers can feel comfortable knowing their products are ethically produced with ingredients they can eat. They’ve been a mainstay of the natural hair movement from the very beginning, and as they’ve grown, they’ve expanded without sacrificing quality. Try their mint ginger co-wash to wake up your scalp.

The Doux by Maya Smith


Founded in an upscale Atlanta hair salon, the sleek mod art style packaging of these products is almost as impressive as their efficiency. Maya Smith wanted to offer women in the Black community the same consistency and charm as their white counterparts. She succeeded. The mists and mousses from The Doux might be priced at under $20, but they will leave you feeling like a million bucks.

Curls by Mahisha Dellinger


Curls has one of the best edge controls in the game! Their blueberry paste is exactly what your leave-out has been missing. They were one of the first hair brands to offer liquid vitamins, and the cleanser from their cashmere and caviar collection is the perfect way to dip your toe into the activated charcoal trend.

Body + Skin Care

Eden Body Works by Jasmine Lawrence


Started by Jasmine Lawrence when she was just a teenager frustrated with her curls, this cult favorite has expanded into a full range of hair and body offerings. Not only does this company create products that smell great and feel better, they support and employ black women. Toss one of their hand creams into your cart on your next Target Run.

Bolden by Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa


Bolden believes everyone should have beautiful skin and they’ve created an extensive line of products to make it happen. If you have been looking for a broad spectrum sunscreen For Us By Us, try Bolden. They have something that addresses every concern. Shop their skincare at Target for under $30, so you can hydrate, brighten and clarify in addition to drinking your water and minding your business.

Jane Carter Solution by Jane Carter


Jane Carter’s Nourish and Shine butter is a godsend for dry skin! This miracle product can be applied to any part of the body to add long-lasting moisture. It started out being mixed by hand in Carter’s New Jersey salon, but soon it was a cult favorite of which naturals couldn’t get enough. Stop by Target today and pick up a Travel Size Kit of all their offerings, including this classic.


The Honey Pot


After a case of bacterial vaginosis caused her months of discomfort and suffering, Bea Feliu-Espada says she experienced a fateful dream where an ancestor provided her with an herbal remedy to heal herself. Whether you believe in the spirit world or not it’s hard to argue with the clinically-tested and gynecologist-approved status of the resulting recipes she came up with after receiving the initial inspiration.

The Mane Choice by Courtney Adeleye


Founded by a registered nurse who was interested in finding out what exactly made her hair and body shine the Mane Choice has quality products for the whole family. They have an impressive collection of serums, gels, conditioners, balms, shampoos and more. They’ve even expanded to heat styling tools! However, it’s the potency of their vitamins that’s earned them a place on many a Black girl’s vanity.


Hue Noir By Paula Hayes

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This brainchild of a professional chemist, Hue Noir takes a scientific approach to cosmetics. Their products, domestically manufactured in Portland, take a skincare first stance intended to enhance one’s natural appearance instead of mask or apologize for it. Try their Perfect Pout Hydrating Lipstick -- infused with a trio of moisturizing oils.

The Lip Bar By Melissa Butler

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The Lip Bar puts Black Girl magic-sized twist on the eco, chic movement. Their potent liquid formulas and slick glosses are entirely vegan and cruelty-free. Being insulted on ABC’s Shark Tank may have put them in the mainstream spotlight, but insiders know that they were slaying way before the shade. See how they’re continuing to challenge the beauty standard by saluting Black icons from the past on their website.

Coloured Raine by Loraine Dowdy

The founder of this company set out to create makeup line where the products were considered adult toys, and with product names like Kotton Kandy and Berry Cute, she’s succeeded. The brand has solid products to choose from in every category but where they really stand out is shimmer. Glow up with their popular highlighter.

EveryHue by Karlene Damallie, Gizelle Bryant and Erika Liles


Satin finishes and proper color correction propel this brand’s quality way beyond a Bravo storyline. A range of shades created with the input of makeup artist Karlene Damallie, make it possible for everyone to find something they love from this company. The fact that it gives Giselle another reason to remind everyone that she’s a boss is just a bonus.

Have a favorite Black-owned brand to share? Drop it in the comments.

All images used were taken from each respective brand’s Instagram account.

This post is written by Keyaira N. Boone

8 Ways You Can Avoid Ending Up In Schemes like Fyre Festival

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) doesn’t just apply to girls’ nights out anymore. FOMO has made its way to the business world. Everyone is so afraid of missing out on an opportunity that they are thrusting aside logic to get in on the ground floor of the next big thing. Unfortunately, this kind of eagerness attracts plenty of people with limited financial resources and maximum hustle. These people might not be great at writing business plans or doing a P+L, but they can fast talk and sell the heck out of a dream. Enter Billy McFarland and Fyre -- the app turned scandalous festival, turned epic punchline that was explored in two separate documentaries on Netflix and Hulu this month. As we watched, all we could think was, HOW THE HECK DID THIS HAPPEN? Here are some tips to help keep you out of Fyre and other similar schemes.

Image via Hulu

Image via Hulu

1. Beware of Buzzwords

Those featured in the documentary who were willing to question the festival’s sketchy founder, now convict, were fended off with terms like “visionary” “innovator” “game changer.” Avoid getting caught out there by remembering that just because you read a term in Forbes or heard it on Squawk Box doesn’t mean its automatically a tentpole for a viable business plan. Ignore the promises to “disrupt” and “revolutionize” and get answers to your questions in plain English.

2. Don’t Invest in What You Don’t Understand

As Michael Arceneaux once said, “Social media has made it easier than ever to pretend your hobby is your profession.” Similarly, it is easier than ever to flaunt profits that don’t exist. Everyone knows it’s possible for a company to operate in the red, but If you don’t understand how the company plans to monetize the hype they’re building and the influence they’re wielding, more than likely neither do they.

3. Do Your Due Diligence

Catered lunches at trendy co-working spaces are good, fully vetted financial disclosure statements are even better. Make sure you know the full scope of the company's' fiscal situation before accepting a position, signing a contract, or advocating for a product or service. Knowing what’s what allows you to make informed decisions and in the case of a major disaster like the Fyre Festival, it can help you stay out of the FBI’s crosshairs.

4. Look For Systems

If there are no systems in place to address unexpected obstacles like inclement weather or security concerns at an event, In the case of the Frye Festival, that ’s a clear sign that they are in disarray. Also, if your paycheck is consistently short or you are getting paid in bags of cash (and it's not a drug deal) then maybe, just maybe, you don’t know the full story. There’s startup culture, and then there’s outright chaos — learn the difference between the two.

5. Respect Boldness, Don’t Worship It

In the days of the celeb-preneur, the loudest person in the room often appears to be the most successful but don’t be misled by the hype. No matter how Zuckerbergesque their hoodie, or Stevejobsish their black turtleneck, no one is infallible. Let me repeat that, no one is infallible. Keep this in mind at all times because a scammer’s biggest asset is their ability to separate you from your critical thinking skills.

6. Check the Receipts

McFarland was able to get people behind his vision on the back of Magnises, another of his companies that racked up horrible reviews. People were willing to work with him without understanding why the reviews for his other company were so bad or getting an explanation from him on how he addressed it. If he left people hanging without explanation after taking their money, chances are he’ll do it again.

7. Always Get a Deposit and Stick to Payment Schedule

Dozens of people worked on the Frye Festival on the promise of getting paid later. What? It’s not clear who had contracts and who didn’t, but it seems very few people got deposits before starting their work or stopped working once no payment was made. If your terms of service call for a deposit and the client can’t pay it, the chances of them being able to cover your other invoices are not good. If they pay your deposit, be sure to stick to all scheduled payment deadlines and stop all work once a payment is missed.

8. Say No to Blind Optimism

There's a scene in the Netflix film where one of the contractors highlights a massive problem with housing for the guests -- there wasn't enough. The number wasn't off by a few, but potentially a third of the people confirmed would have no accommodation. McFarland told him, "we’re not a problems-focused group, we’re a solutions-oriented group, we need to have a positive attitude about this.” We're all for optimism and a positive attitude, but no matter how solutions oriented you are, you're not going to manifest physical space and housing for hundreds of people magically. Its okay to stay positive but don't let positive thinking and optimism in the face of contradicting reality lead you into delusion.

This post is written by Keyaira N. Boone and Christene Carr exclusively for nicholNOIRE LLC.

7 Mistakes You're Probably Making On LinkedIn 


Linkedin is an excellent tool for anyone looking to evolve professionally. Whether one is trying to establish themselves in their field or pivot towards a new career path, it provides learning resources, perspective, and most significantly, access. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is using the platform to its full advantage. From posting girls trips and date night photos that are best left for the group chat to failing to follow-up with potential partners, people are making mistakes that may hurt their chances for career advancement.

Here are 7 mistakes to avoid making on LinkedIn:

You Haven’t Posted A Picture Or Worse, You’ve Posted A Bad One 

LinkedIn profiles with pictures are reportedly seven times more likely to be viewed by recruiters, so, uploading one is a must. However, just as with the font on your resume, the people in your bridal party, and sushi restaurants, you need to choose carefully. A blurry, badly cropped image is not what you show to potential clients and employers. Invest in a professional headshot. Don’t have the money to spare? Ask your friend to use portrait mode on their iPhone to get you a suitable image

You’re Posting Every Job You’ve Ever Had 

Unless you’re going into restaurant management, working the snack stand at the community pool probably isn’t relevant. Leave it for the water-cooler anecdotes and remove it from your profile. The items that you add should be related to the job or client you are trying to get.

You’re Not Being Of Service 

See an interesting article that your connections would enjoy? Please share it with a quick caption on your profile. Know two people who would work wonderfully together?  Introduce them. You may also sign up to provide one-on-one advice to other interested Linkedin members. The more people see you as a resource, the more they will want to interact with you.


You’re Failing To Showcase Your Work 

When someone is on your LinkedIn profile, they’re there to find out who you are and what you do. Help them out by posting past projects and campaigns where you crushed it. The easier it is for them to see what you have to offer the closer they get to providing you some coin.

You’re Sharing TMI (Too Much Information)

Yes, it ’s great that your little niece is enjoying the antics of elf on the shelf but unless the photo you’re posting of her links to a report on consumer trends during the holiday season, keep it to yourself or save it for IG Stories.

You’re Being Too Aggressive

Anyone who has ever seen to Lisa Raye’s performance in Players Club knows that closed mouths don’t get feed. However, that’s no excuse to be rude. Err on the side of politeness instead of messaging someone and abruptly asking for something. LinkedIn is about connecting people, but it is not a buffet of favors from which to choose. Would you like it if someone you’ve never met stopped you on the street and started asking for favors without so much as a “hey girl hey”? I didn’t think so. Assess the appropriateness of your ask and act accordingly.

You Don’t List Activities

This one might seem a bit odd but go with it for a moment. We are all multidimensional people. We have activities outside of running reports and campaigns. If you are the leader of a jazz trio that plays your hometown weddings, add it to your list of activities. Activities give potential employers and clients a glimpse into your personality. It may be the thing that separates you from someone with your exact qualifications and work experience.

This post is written by Keyaira N. Boone exclusively for nicholNOIRE LLC.

10 Ways to Make the Most of your Micro Marketing Budget

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“I run an online jewelry boutique. I want to reach more customers, but I have a small marketing budget of only $100 per month.  What can I do to spread the word about my business to a new clientele?”

First, it’s great that you’re thinking about marketing and have at least something put aside.  While $100/ month isn’t enough to hire a professional to help you execute a strategy, you can try to make an impact on your own. Here are some ideas to get you started on Instagram and Facebook:

Reach out to Influencers

Connect with micro-influencers (those with 10K followers or less) and offer a few items in exchange for a post that mentions your boutique. Look for people who post lifestyle content - not just fashion -  that fits in with your own brand. It is important that you are clear that you are seeking a post and tag in exchange for product. Before you make any request, engage with the account and the influencer.  The first time they see your name or handle shouldn’t be the moment you are asking for a favor.

Run Facebook and Instagram Ads

These are fairly easy to set up and you can reach your ideal clients by specifying age, interests, and other demographic information. Include a high quality photo or short video along with an enticing promotion. Try spreading your $100 over several posts with a mix of photos, promotions and captions to see which ad performs best. Then create new ads that follow the same formula.

Use Analytics

Keep an eye on your social media analytics to help you understand what your customers like and want. Do you get more “likes” late at night vs. in the afternoon?  More comments on weekends vs. weekdays?  Are your followers more engaged with videos than photos?  Let the answers to these questions guide your content creation and posting strategies.

Post Great Photos

The quality and content of your photos and videos can make or break your brand. Use sharp photos with good lighting, and keep it interesting. Try styling your accessories on a person as part of a complete look instead of simple flatlays, and use relevant props to punch up your shots.

Get Inspired

Look at the social media feeds of similar boutiques to see what kind of content they post, the type of language they use, and how they interact with their followers.  Engage with the people whose comments align with your brand.

Use the Right Hashtags

Hashtags can help new people find you. Check out what similar brands are using as hashtags and follow suit.  Use a mix of general hashtags, like #jewelry or #accessories, in combination with something specific to your brand. Also include trending hashtags that may be relevant to your business. Limit your hashtags to about 10 per post.

Do a Giveaway

Contests and giveaways are pretty common on Instagram. Though the criteria for entering varies, the basics of running a contest are usually pretty similar: post a pic of the items you plan to give away with a caption that explains how to enter the contest.  The important part is to include a request for your followers to tag some friends in the instructions -- this is how you’ll get new eyes on your page. Then, pick a winner, announce it, and send them their prize!

Start a Referral Program

Put a system in place to keep track, then offer a discount, a gift card, or some other incentive to loyal customers who send friends your way. As you start, it might be a discount code for each person in your referral program — for example, Influencer1.  At the end of each month you can see how  many sales you made that included Influencer1.  Then you can calculate how much to pay Influencer1. As you grow you can start using affiliate programs that are automated.

Get Offline

While the internet is amazing — it still pays to take your efforts offline. Offer to provide accessories for a charity fashion show, donate some items to a silent auction or look for local events where you can set up a vendor booth at a low cost.  Make sure to have signage or marketing materials that clearly show your website and social media channels and encourage those who make purchases to tag you in their posts.  You can even offer a discount on the spot for anyone at these offline events that takes a picture and posts it on the spot.

Use Strategic Partnerships

Look for ways you might be able to work with other online businesses or services in mutually beneficial ways. Do you know of a nail salon that shows off their work on Instagram?  Wouldn’t those freshly manicured hands look even better sporting your signature rings?  Reach out to see how you might collaborate on a photo shoot that builds content and awareness for both of your pages.


There are plenty of things you can do with a small budget to get started, but manage your expectations. A very small budget will produce limited results, but with focused efforts and consistency, your hard work will pay off. Last, it’s less expensive to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one. If you focus on going above and beyond to provide an excellent shopping experience for your clients, they’re likely to keep coming back -- and tell their friends, online and off.