In the midst of her busy day, CurlBox founder and owner (and big sister in every Black female entrepreneur’s head), Myleik Teele took the time to chat with Beautifully Brown. Be prepared for some of the most honest, raw and funny advice from the woman pushing us to stop the bullsh*t and reach our highest potential.
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I really do enjoy doing it and I’m always glad I can be connected with people who remind me of my younger self. I always think about what I wish people would have said to me. And that’s why I’m like, “let me give you the real”. A lot of people don’t and that’s not going to get you anywhere.
Right. You’re very transparent on your podcast and honest about the journey it took to get you to where you are. Why did you feel compelled to be that open?
I think my personality has always just been like “tell the truth”. My mom is very private, and I feel like as a young intuitive person, I could see that suffering was in the secret. Like, I can think back to how long it took her to divorce my dad and I was just like “girl you could’ve dipped out.” And I love both of my parents, but it was just like, let’s stop pretending that we’re just this happy family and let’s go off and live our lives. You know? So I think as a young person I realized the suffering was in the secret and I just don’t want to keep secrets [about my journey]. It’s not necessary.
I listened to your interview with Necole Kane [of XO Necole] and I was bawling in the car. So many people look at her and look at you too and just think “oh, they have it all together” and everything is just so shiny. What have you learned throughout your career that causes us to compare our successes to others?
You know I think that we see a lot of ourselves in people and pick apart and find the things that maybe they have that we also have. And we’ll think, “well, she grew up in this part of town or she’s succeeded, why haven’t I? Not realizing that you can’t ever know all of someone’s story. I’m friends with a lot of other successful entrepreneurs and we have the kind of conversations that are real and not really interviews. That’s the reason why I wanted to offer my friend conversations in the form of interviews so that people can understand that everybody is going through the same shit. The difference between that person and you is that they just stuck with something longer. Even Luvvie was like, “most people who were beauty bloggers that were my friends don’t blog anymore”.
It was surprising to me because I had never had people react to a podcast like that. I was so surprised that so many other people were surprised that she was a real person. To me her story wasn’t earth shattering at all; I’d heard this all the time. Every entrepreneur friend that I have has a story that is just like that. It’s just different.
Why did you decide to put personal and professional aspirations on the same level through your new worksheets? You make them seem as though they are equally important.
The inspiration behind the worksheets came from the young millennial women that work in my office. They were like “it would be so cool if you came up with an extension of the podcast”. And I was like, “well what do you want to do?” They were like, “let’s do worksheets”. So we came up with ways on how we could extend the podcast and give you ways to be actionable in what you do.
Especially with dating. I think that they’re so many messed up messages that are going out to Black women that are like, “you’re never going to find anybody based off of all these statistics.” I feel like, you’re never going to find anybody because you’re not working on it. Because you think that you’re so fly and somebody’s going to come get you out of your bed, and it doesn’t work like that. And I think that you shouldn’t feel intimidated or insecure about it, you shouldn’t feel like there is something wrong with you. You should just do something about it.
You are the captain of your ship. I tell people all the time that I used to look at other people in relationships and be like “what do they have that I don’t have?” The answer is nothing. They just chose to work on it. Whether they happened to meet their “person” or not, they did something about it. They did some work or something. It’s like; you can have everything in your life that you want if you’re willing to work for it, including relationships.
I completely agree. It’s funny because I have a few friends who still can’t see it that way.
Well then let them stay single [laughs]!
Right! But I really do think that the messages we get from all of these relationship “experts” really messes with our heads. They make us think we have to change so much about ourselves to “get a man”. It messed with my head for a while, I won’t lie.
That leads to my next question. What do you want people to actually gain from your worksheets?
If we go back a couple of questions where you asked why people are comparing themselves to others and why they may be getting something that you’re not, I always say that person is likely doing the uncomfortable work. They’re constantly checking in and checking the systems. They are not just setting up a system and then never going back to see if maybe something may have stopped firing off or what not. My hope with the worksheets is that this is something that makes you think.
I would always set a calendar date to check in every 30, 60 or 90 days, however often you need. I’m going to feel this out and see how my answers change over the course of the year so I can measure the progress.
I feel like most people make the mistake of not measuring progress or not measuring the fact that nothing happened. If you measure your progress you know not to be down on yourself because you’ll feel like, “you know what, I’m not the same person I was yesterday whether people see it or not.” The other thing is if you keep doing something and you notice that you’re not making any movement, you know that you need to check yourself or get some professional help to get through this part of your life.
I can for sure say that your to-do list system has helped me to stay consistent. One of the hardest things is to be consistent with our work ethic.
Right, don’t be lazy with yourself.
What advice would you give to women that feel as though it may be a little too late to rebuild their personal lives or work lives because they feel they lack something?
I think that for as long as you are living, you get a chance to change your mind and to start over. I think the greatest gift you can give yourself is to stop bullshitting yourself. A lot of people haven’t advanced because they’re still lying to themselves. They’re still keeping secrets that they think people don’t know or that they’re trying to cover up. And it’s like, the only person that you’re hurting is yourself. Even my trainer and I talked about this. He’s like, if I tell you to do 10 reps and you do 8, you’re not hurting me, you’re hurting yourself.
It’s not that anyone lacks. It may be that you haven’t taken the time to get better at something. Instead of looking at it from a space of lack, look at it as an opportunity to invest in yourself and to grow and to get better. It’s just changing the way you look at it. Nothing is lacking.
Sometimes women will email me and ask me how I own my complexion and feel confident in my skin. What would you say to someone younger who hasn’t owned their beauty and isn’t yet confident?
Oh gosh, people write me too and ask “how are you so dark and so confident?” I know that it’s not a joke, but I think that you have to explore. I think that’s what I love so much about doing CurlBox. You have to explore the different products and beauty tools that are going to make you feel comfortable and confident about yourself. It’s not about someone else. You have to find the things that make you feel good. I’m not wearing a ton of makeup, but today I’m wearing some NARS concealer, one of those NYX matte lipsticks, and a little bit of mascara. It’s like, this little bit makes me swing my hips a little better and feel good. No other person looks like you on the Planet. That in itself the greatest thing. This is your foundation as a human being. So, I’d say don’t be afraid to experiment or to play in makeup. Or wear red lipstick. The other day I was wearing blue liquid eyeliner. If anything, beauty is just fun.
Right, it’s makeup and hair and weave or whatever. It just something to explore with.
Right, I agree. I just feel like you have the right to change your hair or whatever. You can be blonde, natural, whatever you want to be. You know? Nobody gets to dictate what makes you feel beautiful.
The social media component of our lives as younger women really messes our heads up. Especially Black girls. It’s like, “what are we starting to feel about ourselves?”
Yeah, that part kind of bums me out. I saw a girl at the gym and she had a fake butt and she was recording herself while working out and I just felt like “wow”. It’s just like, whoa. But I think that regular, real women are going to become beautiful [to society] because they’re going to be seen as different and exotic. You know, everything is just not perfect.
Yeah, I do think it may take a while, though. A lot of young women just want the fake boobs and butt.
Yeah, it’s tough.
Is there anything else that you want to share or reinforce with our readers?
I would just say to always be honest with yourself, you know what I mean? This is your life and the only chance you’re going to get at it. It’s not an “if I die, but when I die.” You can’t act as if you have time. The truth is that you just don’t. You need to try. Don’t focus on step seventeen focus on step one. Step one is going to help you to step two. I remember panicking when I was going to 5th grade. I was telling my dad, “oh my God dad I’m not ready for 5th grade!” And my father was like, “just how kindergarten prepared you for 1st grade, the same thing goes for life’s steps.”
One thing prepares you for another thing, even if it’s something you’ve never done before.