Seals-Allers, former senior editor at Essence magazine and now owner of the Mocha Manual Company, offers practical advice to African American women who want to start a small business and take greater financial control of their lives. She also includes real-life stories and personal anecdotes of women who have built million-dollar enterprises from scratch.Fiction
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The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit
How to Find and Grow Your Side Hustle in Any Economy
Reclaim Your Passion and Purpose
I will never forget the moment it happened for me. I was sitting in my office at the New York City headquarters of Essence magazine, four floors above the hustle of midtown, enjoying what seemed to be, for any black female journalist, a dream job. I was a senior editor at Essence, the premier lifestyle magazine for black women. The phones were ringing, my assistant was overwhelmed, pages were due, designs needed to be done, and I was in the zone of doing what I do. In my job of managing the personal finance and careers department, I constantly read the anecdotes of inspiring women who took charge of their lives, their careers, and their finances. We featured these women every month to inspire our readers. And so I spent many fifteen-hour days crafting or editing stories about women who followed their passion, women who took a leap of faith, and women who had the courage to create a new life for themselves. Prior to joining Essence, I spent over a decade as a business journalist, most of that time writing for Fortune magazine, helping rich people get richer and writing profiles of the business world's success stories, from mostly-white captains of industry who created something small out of their garage and turned it into Microsoft or Google to mavericks at work who thought outside the box and transformed someone else's company. But never did I ask, What about me? Until the day I did. I stopped in the midst of the frenetic noise of closing an issue, and in a mental hush, I silently questionedmyself. Did I want a life of writing about inspirational women or did I want to be one? Of course, I absolutely understand that having a senior position at such a magazine is an inspiration to many women. I've met many of them in my mentoring work. But there's a price I paid for being an office inspiration and not a living inspiration. For one, it became clear to me that my children spent more time with their sitter than they did with me. My marriage was crumbling. And I was sleep deprived from my own side hustle—the Mocha Manual Company. The online business was growing. I was filling orders until late at night, our events for moms had taken off and were being planned in cities across the country, and my mind was flooded with new ideas, next steps, and big plans.
I continued working at my great job with the appearance of a great life. But inside I wanted more. So on this day I decided there was a better life for me and my children beyond a high-profile job at a high-profile women's glossy and that I could choose to create that life for myself. Time had become my most precious asset, my role as a mother had become my primary identity, and I needed work that honored that. And then, in that instant, standing in the mental sanctum I created for myself in that frantic moment and teetering on the brink of a failed marriage and single motherhood, I took a deep breath and decided to transform my life.
I imagine the feeling I experienced at that moment to be much like when a trapeze artist, high in the big top after a few heart-pumping swings, actually releases the trapeze bar. Those few spectacular seconds when he's suspended in midair are the most amazing part of the act. With one bar fading into the background and the other coming toward him, it is at this moment when anything can happen. It is at this moment when there is no past, no future, only the present. This is when he defies gravity. This is when he flies. This is how I felt, hurling myself into the air, letting go of my trapeze. Up there, soaring, I saw a glimpse of how large my life could be.
Then came the gut-wrenching free-fall feeling—a pulse-racing sensation that was foreign to my secure and calculated direct-deposit-every-other-Thursday life. That feeling of uncertainty and insecurity was (and sometimes still is) completely uncomfortable, mostly because of the worry that I might fall and fail. But instead of resisting and fearing this uncertainty, on this day I decided to embrace it. On other occasions, I had allowed this fear of the unknown to send me running back to my comfy office. But on this day, I gave myself license to reinvent myself and, for once, not know the outcome. I was able to let go of my need to know and open my mind to taking the ride. There was something so exhilarating and liberating in that moment for me that it helped me later realize that the thrill of life is not in the landing—it's in the flying.
That very same day, on my hour-and-a-half train commute home, I began to map out an exit strategy from my job and to create a life plan that included time for children, financial independence, and work focused around the Mocha Manual and my passion—empowering black women as moms and moms-to-be. I was about to dive headfirst into a heart-opening adventure, and I felt like a million bucks.
If you're reading this book, most likely you've realized there's something better for you out there too. You want to create a life of financial freedom based on doing what you love on your own time instead of on a cycle of trading time for money in the nine-to-five world. You want to wake up every day with a smile and a zest for whatever possibilities the day will bring. You crave a life where your creativity and talents thrive without limits. You desire to be a part of an organization or a movement that embraces your core values. You want to fly! I understand you. I used to get up and go to work every day; now I get up every day and go to life, and let me tell you, ladies, it is the most incredible feeling. The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit
How to Find and Grow Your Side Hustle in Any Economy. Copyright © by Kimberly Seals-Allers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.