Sit back, grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea. I'm about to bare my soul and tell you the full story of how I turned a bad time in my life into one of the most incredible things I've ever done.
I was devastated over breaking up with my boyfriend. It was a painful and utterly emotional time for me. I was being strong and sticking by my promise of not seeing him. I was completely heart broken and just trying to get through the day. Coincidentally, my ex-ex boyfriend had invited me to an exclusive event. And as fate would have it, he had a new girlfriend who would also be there. I did not want to go to the event, I didn't have the emotional strength to see him and her together. I also didn't want to not go and let him think I wasn't a big enough of a person to handle it or that I was petty. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't have been phased by something like that, but, I was in an emotionally weak place. Regardless, my pride wouldn't let me feel defeated, so I told him I'd be there.
I had such a busy week with work and time off at home was spent crying as I listened to Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton over and over. I was a complete mess and practically disheveled. I'm a firm believer that looking your best includes having perfectly manicured nails at all times and well, that wasn't the case. The day of the event had come so quickly, I did not have time to go to the salon and get my nails done. What was I going to do? I didn't even have time to at least file them and throw a coat of polish on and wait for my nails to dry. It was a red carpet movie premiere, I could not go looking like this, I mean, what kind of animal was I?
I'm a quick thinker, a solution seeker and don't dwell on the impossible, rather, I figure out what is possible...there is always a solution for everything. Growing up, my dad would always tell me, "impossible is nothing." So, my sad little brain went into solution seeking mode. Ah-ha! I remembered those press-on nail commercials in the 80s and wondered if such a product still existed. I hurried to the store and omg...they did exist! I purchased a pack and hoped for the best. I had never used press-on nails and I sort of thought it was cheesy. I was desperate though, and I had no choice.
I quickly drove home, freshened up, threw on my outfit, got my bag ready, put my shoes on and put aside my nails to be the last thing I did before I left the house. I opened up the pack, selected the appropriate nail sizes for my hands, used the glue and began applying them. I couldn't believe it, they actually looked good! It also only took a few minutes to apply, I didn't have to wait for anything to dry or set, I was good to go. I took the glue with me just in case, I mean, you never know and I'm such a control freak, I like to be prepared for anything.
We got to the premiere just in time. By we, I mean me and a very handsome gentleman friend of mine who looked gorgeous in a suit. I had called last minute and asked him to go with me. Come on, you think I was going to show up dateless? Yeah right! I walked in with the hottest guy there (there's a reason this brand is called Sexy Boss Babe.) Still, I was nervous, anxious and in all honesty, I shouldn't have been there and it would probably have been better if I stayed home wallowing in my misery.
The moment of truth finally came. I was so lucky, my date was kind and gracious to me and made sure I was ok. He knew the whole back story so he had my six covered (Army slang for he got my back...okay, I got that from Chris Pratt on Jurrassic World.) I had described my ex to my date and he pointed him out when he noticed him. There he was, all tall and handsome and next to him there she was. I checked her out, her hair, make-up and outfit. She was pretty, I'm sure she was nice, he was nice, so I knew she would be too. He looked up and saw us. There was a moment of hesitation from him when he saw my date. I'm sure he wondered if that was my new boyfriend. We said hello and I introduced my date to him and we small talked for a moment. Surprisingly, he didn't introduce his girlfriend to us, I don't know why. He ended up breaking up with her anyways. He has a new "live-in" girlfriend now (you can't tell but I'm rolling my eyes as I'm saying that lol.) I'm actually not mad, he and I weren't meant to be. As sweet, nice and fun as he was, I knew, in the long run, I wouldn't have been happy with him and he knew it too. This was best for both of us and I truly wished him happiness, he's a good person and he deserved it. Anyways, I survived the night and we left soon after the movie ended.
To my surprise, the press-on nails survived too. Well, almost all of them, one had popped off and in a stealth move when no one was looking I pulled out the glue and quickly re-applied the nail. Not only did the nails stay on after that, they lasted around a week and looked pretty good. So good, in fact, that I was getting compliments left and right over how great my manicure was. I did not tell anyone they were press-ons, it was so 80s, I was actually sort of embarrassed, I mean, who wore press-ons anymore? I was even getting compliments from my 'high fashion' loving girlfriends...yeah right like I was going to spill the beans. Or maybe...so I did, I told my friend Irais; "girl you won't believe it...they are press-ons!" She was amazed! "What??? You're lying!! They are not! They look like salon nails!!"
That was the shocker, they did look like salon nails. But what was cool was that it took me around 5 minutes to apply, it was easy, a time saver and perfect for when you're in a pinch, it was a beauty hack. It was also incredibly affordable, being about 3-5 times cheaper than a salon visit. It got me thinking, not everyone has the money to go to the salon every two weeks and pay $40, $60 or sometimes up to $120 for each visit to get their nails done. The only downfall was, most of the press-on nail brands had styles that were outdated. The only choices were mostly a traditional square or oval shape offered in limited colors. None of the brands carried any of the trendy styles that Rihanna, Beyonce and other celebrities typically sported like the long pointed stiletto shape or the long squared tip called coffin/ballerina. Colors and finishes were also so varied nowadays with silks, metallics, holographic or gems.
Those fun styles are really only available at high end nail salons and only by super talented technicians that very few people have access to. It might be easier to find in metropolitan cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Miami, but what about that young woman in some small city in Kansas or Arkansas who is dying to have the nails she sees in magazines but can't get them? That's when it clicked, I found a need for a product that had high demand but was scarce. So, I decided I was going to bring those fun shapes and styles to fruition and make them available to women everywhere at an affordable price! The 'press-on' nail phrase also seemed so outdated, so our product is called 'quick nails' because they are quick to apply.
I took my broken heart and all my devastated emotions and I did what I always do. I channeled everything into creating a new project. I didn't know it would ultimately be the thing that encompassed all aspects of my life purpose. I'd always identified with the Phoenix Bird rising from the ashes and I posted a photo of a beautiful bird in flames on my Instagram and wrote this caption: "One of my favorite experiences in life is, to be destroyed to my core. It is then and only then that the fire of creation is ignited within my soul and it propels me to the highest of heights. So, I say, go ahead, destroy me...over and over, again and again. That is how I get my power. I AM INVINCIBLE."
Through the process, I eventually made peace regarding my break up with the recent ex. I stopped listening to Tennessee Whiskey, the endless tears stopped flowing and I was able to sleep through the night again. The thing about life is, nothing is forever and everything passes, even heartbreak. One day he and I talked on the phone about still having love for one another and missing each other. It was the last time I cried about him, it was my closure. Having a positive outlet, a project or building something, always helped me get through a difficult time.
I continued to work on this new product and I really wanted it to be great. A lot of testing took place on both our and competitor products. Overall, I was pretty impressed by the durability. On a rare occassion one or two had fallen off, but typically it was due to user error. Following application instructions was important. A person should make sure the nail surface was clean and dry with no oils or lotions on them, in some cases, a light buff of the nail surface may be necessary. The glue should be applied evenly across the entire nail surface, close to the cuticle and sides of nails. If that was the case, the product truly rivaled salon nails and didn't miss a beat compared to competing brands. Initially, I was happy to just have a product I could enter the market with. It took some time to get it right, however our brand, which we plan to launch in spring of 2018, is by far of the highest quality on the market and exceeded anything I could have dreamed of. I can't wait until the launch, the styles and colors in the first collection really are spectacular!
Now that I knew the product was superior, I also wanted to create a solid brand that connected to all women, especially now. It is our time and I was determined to create a beauty brand by a woman that somehow encouraged other women to be their best self, have confidence and stand up for their dreams and goals. I thought long and hard about my own experiences and the struggles I endured in life with; career, body image, relationships, personal growth, moving into my own power and having a voice. I had faced so many challenges and hardships that I should be an alcoholic, drug addict or maybe even have committed suicide...but I wasn't and I didn't. I withstood every challenge, I overcame every obstacle and not only had I moved past it, I had become my strongest self.
I'm a feminist and an admirer of the divinity, majestic power and beauty that all women possess. It is my observation that we live in a day and age that somehow has cast a barrier between a woman and her innate knowledge of her inner worth which has resulted in many women having a negative self and body image. Women have forgotten their natural divine goddess rights and it is time to awaken that knowledge. I wanted to come up with a brand name that screamed women empowerment.
A few years ago, someone called me a boss for the first time, I didn't even know what it meant and had to ask. I was told, "you're a boss, you know, you get it done, you handle it, you don't take b.s." I guess I was a boss and I knew other women I respected that were bosses too; hustling, working hard, being independent and accomplishing their goals. As an example, my mom was a single parent that raised two young girls. I remember how much she struggled and how hard she worked all while dressing to the nines and looking fierce, she is the ultimate 'boss.'
I liked that word and it was relevant, though most people used it as 'boss bitch,' which might sound fun to say, but at the same time, 'bitch' is pretty derogatory so I didn't want to promote that word, after all, a goddess is never a bitch. So, I came up with 'babe' instead, though my sister says she came up with it so it's up for debate lol. I know some of my hardcore feminists might not like 'babe' either, but it's soft, feminine, cute and I like it, so, it's sticking. It's a nice contrast between the masculine 'boss' and the feminine 'babe.' I love contrasts and that's the great thing about being a woman, there's a natural fluidity and you can be both hard and soft.
'Boss Babe' was all over the place, it was and still is the buzz word for women empowerment, but I needed something to be an identifier. I wanted something to differentiate my 'Boss Babe' from the dozens of others. I got it! I wanted all women to know that they were sexy. Women innaccurately think that in order to be sexy, they have to have a certain body, wear revealing clothes, engage in sexual behavior or do those duck lip poses and twerking videos we see on social media. Well ladies, you don't have to do all that.
I wanted to redefine what women thought sexy meant. Again, I drew from my own personal experience. In my high school days I was a size 6, from then on that wasn't always the case. I gained a lot of weight during my college years and like many women, my weight had fluctuated. Some years ago I dropped down to a size 2 from a 14 and kept the weight off for 3 years, I'm now back up to a 14. However, in the last few years, while I've been heavier, men have found me sexier than ever, men of all ages. This was a surprise to me and I didn't understand it. I was getting more attention and praises compared to other women I knew, who to societal standards may have been prettier and skinnier than me.
The common word I would hear consistently was that I was sexy and it wasn't just men who said that to me, it was women too. I finally started asking, what was it about me that made me appear to be sexy? Come to find out, it was't my body, face or my clothes. You know what every single person said? Confidence. They were right, I was confident, I knew I was. I demanded my worth and my value everywhere I went. The thing about it was, I didn't have to demand anything. Somehow, that intrinsic sense of self worth was expelled externally without necessarily even having the intent. I was treated with an unspoken respect.
I wasn't always confident though and I definitely didn't know my self worth for many years. Like everything else in my life, it was through hardship, pain and personal triumph that I finally started to believe in myself. Confidence was something I grew into and once I did, I realized it was the key to unlocking everything I had ever wanted.
That was the revelation that lead me to come up with the name of the new women empowerment brand, Sexy Boss Babe. I added a definition of what a Sexy Boss Babe is on the side of the packaging: "A breed of woman that is confident from the inside out. She can be curvy, thin, plus size, athletic, tall, short, any size shape or color. Her beauty comes from knowing her self worth and what she deserves. She goes after what she wants in life. She's fierce, bold and empowered."
Women have a lot of power and with that comes a tremendous responsibility. I took my power and decided to operate my business as a social value company which is something I had always wanted to do. Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes started the buy one give one model. Like Blake, we are also using our business to promote the greater good, but through beauty products. With the every purchase of our product we donate some of the proceeds to charities that help foster youth and victims of human trafficking.
I wanted to use my brand as a platform to raise awareness on the plight of foster youth. As President of a non-profit called Angels Nest TLP that helps former foster youth, I learned that this is a very vulnerable demographic as many of them end up homeless and become victims of human trafficking. Through the charity we own a home and provide these youths with a place to live, food to eat and they are put on a success plan. We help them get into college and find jobs. This program helps break the cycle of poverty so they can lead successful and fulfilling lives.
Through the work, I came across some startling facts. California has the highest rate of kids in foster care and Los Angeles maintains about 40% of that population. It has been said that when a foster kid reaches 7 years of age, they are considered "un-adoptable." They typically live in group homes and once they age out at 18 years old; they have no support, no family, no where to go and face extreme poverty. Close to one third of the homeless population in Los Angeles is attributed to youths that have aged out of the foster care system. It is no surprise that a high percentage of incarcerated inmates are former foster youth. There is a lack of awareness on this issue and it prompted me to direct and produce a short documentary called, 'Breaking the Cycle.' The film sheds light on this issue and will also be available to view in spring 2018. To watch a short two minute trailer, please visit our YouTube channel called Sexy Boss Babe or click on the YouTube icon at the bottom of this page.
Foster youth gravely need our help and through our brand, I'm making a call to action. I'm asking all the women, all the Sexy Boss Babes to support our brand and in doing so, you are directly impacting these young people and giving them a chance to create the happy and successful lives they deserve.
Women were born with special traits and are the caretakers of humanity. It is up to us, as women, to create change in the world. #sexybossbabe #fierceboldempowered
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Sexy Boss Babe was born.
Sexy Boss Babe is the official brand of the women empowerment movement. Please support the movement by using our hashtag #sexybossbabe and follow us on social media @thesexybossbabe and please subscribe to our website to receive product discounts and updated content at www.sexybossbabe.com and subscribe to our YouTube channel Sexy Boss Babe
Thank you for being a Sexy Boss Babe or a supporter. Please connect with us on social media @thesexybossbabe and www.sexybossbabe.com
With lots of warmth and love,
Arzo Yusuf, Founder and CEO of Sexy Boss Babe