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Handling Disappointment

Handling disappointments is an expectation when you are an entrepreneur.  You are anticipating highs and lows while on the journey.

What I am finding really difficult to deal with are the disappointments from my day job or as I like to call it, “my grant money for my business job”.  Currently, I am a HR Professional by day and a colors and beauty potion mixologist by night. Recently, my HR Team was informed that we would be expanding with 3 additional positions.  So, I did my due diligence and reviewed what I thought were the job descriptions, and decided to throw my name in the hat. 

Momma-Rae, Photograph by Ariel Photography

First, you must understand that I am very calculated on what moves I make with my career.  Every single position that I have obtained, from Administrative Assistant to Help Desk Technician, to Software Tester were all calculated moves made and decided by yours’s truly.  So, when I decided to throw my name in the hat for one of the new positions, I was thinking for sure. I’ve got this one. I was also thinking how great it would be to have the boost in salary and the additional funds for Ribbons (some extra grant money) …I allowed myself to imagine all the possibilities the money could bring. FINALLY! I could get the bottles printed, improve our overall packaging, and so much more.

In the end, I was told that I didn’t qualify for the promotion, “that the job was a high-level position” …Talk about a SLAP in the face – OUCH!!!!.  I was a little stunned, thinking, “I could do this damn job if given the opportunity…”.  Just so that you guys know, I work hard at my job.  I am one person doing a job that 2-3 people were previously doing.

One side of me says, “If they don’t see your ability and your potential and don’t want to present the opportunity then this is their loss. Continue to move like you know your greatness.”  I think what really helped me was the Audible that I recently finished by Sophia Chang, “Baddest Bitch in the Room.” This one set my soul on fire. The author’s story is amazing and the view she allows you to see of her perseverance is endearing.  I don’t know why or even how this Audible fell in my lap, but the timing was so perfect.  At the end of the Audible, Sophia talks to the listener and reminds you that “you are a warrior walking your walk and fighting your fight.”  She reminds you to remember that no matter what, “you are the Baddest Bitch in the Room” …I JUST LOVE IT!!!! 

So my mind quickly talked me down off the ledge and I said to myself, “Rae, it just wasn’t for you. A new position means a new commitment of your energy and time and they don’t deserve it.  You are where you need to be to go where you need to go…” See, I told myself that “Ribbons Cosmetics was going to be my next employer.”  This is not to say that I wouldn’t accept a new position to put some extra grant funds into the business, just that I was reminded of my commitment to my company, Ribbons Cosmetics. 

Every disappointment has a silver lining if we can just look at the glass as half full instead of half empty.  Time to roll up my sleeves; put on my running shoes, and get moving.  Disappointments are not setbacks, but opportunities for growth. 

Creatively Yours,

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I’m a Hustler, I’m a, I’m a Hustler…

Momma - Rae

Now that I have introduced myself to you, I guess we can say we have officially met.  I have described my family dynamic, but I admit that I left out one important fact about myself. My bonus kids affectionately, call me “Momma-Rae”. Every time I hear one of them or their spouse call out to me, “Momma-Rae!” I just beam from the inside. Long before I was Momma-Rae, I was just Rae to friends and Shawn to family.  I am still Shawn to family, and old friends who I am still connected to continue to call me Rae.

A few days ago, I was driving in my car with our 15-year-old son, Amir. We were on our way to school in our daily hustle and bustle mode.  We left the house later than usual, so we were cutting it pretty close that day. I refused to get anxious, so I began to focus our minds on something else other than, “we are running behind, we have got to do better”.

Me: “Hey Amir, I noticed that you have visual arts this year, how exciting! Do you like it?”

Amir: (Shrugs) “It’s okay?”  

I’m thinking to myself, “As a self-proclaimed artist, born from an artist (my dad), and I married an artist; surely one of our kids will reach their artistic potential.

Me: “Just Okay? But you have visual arts in your DNA.  Me, your dad, your grandfather, your uncle…Did you know that I was Youth Artist of the Year my last year of high school?”  

Amir: “Mom, kids are much better at drawing nowadays.”

Me: “What!

The conversation continued and as usual, we ended up talking about cars (He is obsessed with cars. He wants to be an engineer and/or a race car driver).  After I dropped Amir off, I turned on Pandora (Jay-z channel, which is my usual Pandora channel if I am not listening to an Audible)…I’m a hustler, I’m a , I’m a hustler begins to play in the background as I start off on my normal drive to work, with a quick pit stop at Starbucks, of course.  I have been drinking Starbucks for years, but recently was turned on to Nitro Cold Brew which has completely altered my need for 5 pump White Mochas (yes, you heard me 5 pumps…)

I am a Jay-z fan. I don’t proclaim to know all of his lyrics, but I am a fan of his music and business opportunities that he has set up for himself. The song playing was not even a Jay-z song but begins with a sample of Jay.  While it played in the background, I started thinking about my previous accomplishments and current things that I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes my dreams seem so big that they scare me, and I think, “Am I nuts?”  I thought about my accomplishments during college -how I wanted to start a fashion line. I remembered how I sniffed out two talented ladies in my department and began my journey as a designer. We presented huge fashion show productions during my sophomore and junior year. These shows were contracted with the university which meant the door money went straight to us for our expenses and lack of sleep.  We sold t-shirts every season that we were together (I only have one of the designs left). We even got an opportunity to showcase our creations out of state. Thanks Rob!

Halima & Me After Our First Fashion Show – UMES Spring 1993

(The track continues to play, I am not catching the verses only the sampled chorus, I’m a hustler, I’m a, I’m a hustler…)

After the birth of our youngest, I was determined not to return to the I.T. world as a Software Tester, I opened Rajah Designs Boutique’s first location in my neighborhood shopping mall. Not long after moving to our second location on Light Street in Baltimore, the economic crisis hit us hard. In 2009, we decided to close our doors permanently.

I have always desired to be an entrepreneur, with home décor, fashion, and cosmetics under the same brand…This is a fire that has never left my soul, so I convinced my sisters to be a part of Ribbons Cosmetics. Even though they are in Washington D.C. and I am in Charlotte, this venture connects us. Our brand offers safer alternatives to mainstream cosmetics that women love. Proceeds from our sales will support the Arts in our respective communities. Success is just around the corner. I know we will get there, developing one product at a time because…I’m a hustler, I’m a, I’m a, hustler.

Stay Creative,

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Blended Creatively

Barry & Rae

I’m told, the best way to start a blog is to introduce yourself and explain why you are blogging. Well, here is a sneak peek into who I am and my attempt to explain my why…

Building a business has always been hard, but in this era of new technology, building a successful business that stands out in the crowd, is damn near impossible. Instead of just greeting my customers as they walk through my doors, I now need to connect through blogging, vlogging, and selling myself just as much as my products. Who am I, you ask? In no specific order, I am a wife, mom, and entrepreneur working to build a brand that will make money, help me do some good in my community, and provide a better lifestyle for my family.  We are a family of humble beginnings, my husband is from a small rural town and is a government worker of 20+ years, I grew up as an only kid watching my mom struggle to make ends meet (my mom and dad divorced after 2 years of marriage, then my father remarried). I was a fashion major, turned software tester, turned boutique owner, and now an HR Professional. 


My husband and I have been married for 18 years, and our blended family includes a married teacher, a married navy veteran, a recent college grad, and 2 younger kids in elementary and middle school.  When Barry and I married, I became an instant mother of three awesome kids ages 7,6, and 4, and our beautiful, chaotic life began.  I became Momma-Rae and we quickly got pregnant with baby #4 – Amir and #5 – Hassan.


I am hoping to share with readers, my thoughts, experiences, and style of “Blending Creatively”. I am often asked, “How were you able to blend so successfully?”. My answer is always and will forever be timing.  Timing has always been on my side when I can recall my victories.  And I am just starting to recognize them as such.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not currently where I want to be as a mom, wife, HR professional, or entrepreneur. But timing has always been my friend.  From starting my first business in college, placing my stamp on college events and fashion trends, marriage, and career choices. I always seem to make my move when the timing is right.

My husband and I did not jump right into our relationship.  We had an old fashion courtship, only lunch dates for the first 2 years.  Hard to believe I know, but I have close friends that can vouch for this amazing love story.  I can vividly remember meeting our oldest kid for the very first time.  She stayed up late to meet me, which speaks volumes of her protective character.   She was 7 with very long ponytails that her dad did his best to construct (very lopsided as you can imagine) I still just laugh thinking about it.  After meeting the original three, we were quickly engaged and began creatively blending our new family. 

Josh & Telina, Grandma Arletha, Horatio, Barry & me, Darius & Kristen, Amir, & Hassan – Christmas 2019 – Photo by Ariel Photography
Hodge Family – 2019 Holiday Photo by Ariel Photography

We had the tough conversations early on about finances, family – did I want one or two kids, would I stay home during the first 5 years when our kids are born, vacations, and business ownership.  Our intimacy goes far deeper than sex, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve struggled together.  This is my 3rd attempt at business ownership (so I’ve cried the most) – since I am being honest.  We are a tight family; my bonus kids have a piece of my heart just like the ones I gave birth to. I love their biological mother and respect her for being the vessel that carried them and brought them into this world. Without her, I would not have them. Being Blended is hard work. You must be open to compromise and show each other a lot of respect.  We are doing it creatively and loving every minute. 

I am hoping to give you a view into my world of blending creatively.  It is challenging being a career woman, wife, mom, and entrepreneur.  I don’t pretend to have all the right answers, but I believe we have a healthy family relationship and we have mastered our way of operating our family unit. I am a creative mess, but I do enjoy my life with my blended family.  I hope sharing my experiences can help you enjoy yours a little bit more. Welcome to my community world of Blending Creatively

Stay Creative


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The Importance of Cuticle Oil

No matter where you live in the US for sure you are starting to feel the impacts of Fall. No matter if you live on the east coast or the west coast, once the weather has dropped your skin will start to feel show or at least you can feel the effects.  For me, my hands start to become increasingly dryer and so I bring out the thick creams for coverage (Shea Butter).

It is also a good time to become very familiar with your cuticles.  Your cuticles can be your first line of defense to your healthy nails and hands, helping you maintain a great looking manicure.  Cuticle oil used to moisturize the cuticle can protect the cuticle and nail against damage; improve the health and appearance.  A good quality cuticle oil will literally saturate your skin around your nail, saturate the cuticles, and start to moisturize them, and give it a nice shine.

Our favorite oils include:

  • Rice Bran Oil – Softens skin, improves elasticity, helps retain moisture and prevents the signs of aging.
  • Sunflower Oil – Softens and conditions.
  • Grapeseed Oil – Seals moisture in and makes skin soft and flexible.



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Many of the swatchers or followers that I have create beautiful macro shots. I have decided to take the journey and will attempt to teach myself this beautiful technique. If I figure this out, the pictures will be beautiful.  If I do not, my pictures will be a blurry mistake.  I am hoping to find my way to the perfect macro shot.

Stay tuned and Stay Creative,

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Splitting Nails?

Splitting Nails

Have splitting nails? Consider the following:

  • Apply a Protective Coat onto nails even when you are taking a break from color..
  • Keep Nails Dry, make sure that you completely dry your nails after each wash and moisture your hands and cuticle.
  • Wear Gloves, Springtime means Spring cleaning. Protect your hands and nails from harsh chemicals when sprucing up the house. Chemicals are bad for your nails and skin,  protect them at all times.
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Pale Pink the New Neutral…Keep this Color in Rotation

I woke up without an alarm clock or text reminder from my phone. The excitement I felt caught me by surprise.  It was 5:50am and I was the only person in the house up.  My husband was sound asleep and not a peep from the boys.

I jumped out of bed took a seat in our sitting area of our bedroom and grabbed our Roku remote (we gave up cable and have never looked back). I began searching on Sling for the “Royal Wedding”.

The wedding was beautiful. The guest were flawless, Oprah, Idris, Serena, Priyanka, Beckham…There wasn’t a hair out of place for these guest.  Handsome groom, beautiful bride, wonderful choir, and boy what a sermon.  Then out of no where I started to think, “what color is her nail polish?”. I could not get a great view of her nails, but I made a mental note to find out.

8:05am EST it was time to take our 14 year old to golf practice.The day moved forward with my normal mom chores, groceries, cleaning, and prepping.  The next day news was buzzing about the wedding. It was even on replay on a few stations.  Also, I found out what color she was wearing.  Apparently, the brand is the Queen’s favorite. A pale pink neutral color from Essie. All I could think, “man I would love that kind of exposure.”

Because of the royal wedding pinks are making a move to the front and have become the go to for neutral pallets. Also, pale pink is a great neutral for all skin tones.

If you have not found your favorite shade of pink try, Sunset in the Clouds.  It is a beautiful shade.  Have you ever seen the sky at the perfect moment when the sun is setting while driving home, when the multiple beautiful hues of pink paint the sky?  This is Sunset in the Clouds on your fingers.

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Who Doesn’t Like Ice Cream?

The weather is hot and every rainy day equals to  humidity in the Carolinas. What a better way to stay cool than ice cream. Our household favorite is natural strawberry. We want the chicks of strawberries inside and everything.

Available June 23rd will be Ribbons’ 2018 Ice Cream Collection. Our first four flavors will be Pistachio Ice Cream, Cotton Candy Ice Cream, the soothing Lavender Ice Cream, and Italian Ice. We are soooo excited for these colors. What is even more exciting?  Our new colors are 7Free! WHAT THE, WHAT!

Creative hands must stay moisturized, so we are currently partnering with two homegrown distributors and will be debuting our handcreams and cuticle oils.  Signup with our newsletter and be the first to know.